Monday, November 17, 2008

Who's that...? Oh it's the Witness!!

A new-be to the Yoga world, I have just uncovered a treasure that is probably pretty apparent to most people who have followed Yogic or Buddhist philosophy for a while!!!! Jack Kornfield ;)
It totally happened by accident... I think that I had read his name on the home page of Yoga Journal...and then a couple of days later (possibly weeks...I live in the freakin time for days or weeks...) I found a Jack Kornfield book called After The Ecstasy, The Laundry. I was blown away by it. I won't go into the premise of the book...just read it or listen (I actually have the audio book).

You know how sometimes you'll hear a piece of advice coming from a whirlwind of sources telling you "This is the way...Do it like this!!" And you'll hear this advice about a thousand and six times... and then one day you're just sitting in your car on your break. And you begin to listen Jack Kornfield on your ipod. *And keep in mind I've never heard this mans voice before* And all of a sudden you hear this soft, calm, slow but exceedingly comfortable voice. And this voice tells you "This is the way...Do it like this!!" And somehow you seem to forget every other time you heard the advice in past because those times mean nothing now that you're really hearing it for the first time!!
Welcome to my new reality.

So now that I am a pseudo student of Jack's (we're tight), and have been meditating more and more... I am lead to the place that meditation can take you... The Witness! I don't think that I ever spent too much time in the Witness. Being Unbiased and neutral but still very enthusiastic about that which is being witnessed... I was pretty complacent as a youth...super lazy and un-involved... I was interested in knowledge and philosophy and science but was just so unmotivated to take any of it... But now? I'm am witnessing some crazy shit!!! When you meditate you really start to examine what your sources are. Where you came from... What choices you have made you who you are?

Today I really figured out that exceeding low self-esteem is my main reason for being a Yogi today. It was this lack of self-esteem that lead me to weight training... It was weight training and a real interest in myself that lead me to feeling comfortable in my own skin. It was also this interest that lead me to being interested in Anatomy and Physiology... which in turn lead to and lead to and lead to until we're here. And I found Yoga!!

But the things that I've heard over and over and just realized lately are all about our generosity in life. How much are we willing to give? How much time, how much effort? This concept of giving really put it's hand on me a couple of days ago when I was teaching a semi private session. Both of my students came in feeling depressed and sub-par. During our warm up of Sun Salutations I had said something to the effect that "In our Yoga practice we need to have a little faith... Faith in yourself to lead you to the right place in your practice and faith in the breath to help get you there." This really struck an accord with one of the girls so much that she actually stopped doing Sun A and just wanted to listen to what I had to say. She asked me a question and then another and rather than teaching Asana for the rest of the session we just talked. They asked questions and I gave answers if I had them.

The thing that I like most about Yoga is that it's so experiential... You need to do it to get it. "99% practice" as Pattabhi Jois says. So most of my answers for the ladies were based on my experiences and how I interpreted such experiences. The more questions they asked, the more I found myself really sharing my story with them. Telling them things that even my friends don't really hear about. After the session we all hugged and I felt this feeling that I had never gotten after teaching a class... This feeling that I had done something generous.... My epiphany... By listening to their questions and sharing my experiences I had practiced generosity. And it felt good.... Could this be a trend!!??

So hear it've heard it before... Generosity is the key!! Generosity to those around you and also generosity towards yourself. Try it if you haven't. Real generosity... without consideration of reward or praise... just pure generosity!! Keeping with the season, now is the perfect time.


Monday, November 3, 2008

When Challenged, Do I Run or Breath?

Lightly close the eyes...bring your attention to your breath...keep concentration on the cooling sensation on your inhalations and the warming sensation on exhalation at the rim of the nostrils...hold this concentraion strong for a few relax your concentration...Today we meditate on the sense of compassion...To deeply feel compassion toward all living things we must first bring our awareness to the suffering of all living things...Think of all the suffering that happens all around the world...think of suffering from the very extreme to the very subtle...from the poverty that happens all around the us to the subtle suffering of someone who stresses out over losing $100 at the casino...and think of every suffering in between...these are all types of suffering no matter how minute... Now imagine that every living being on our world could be free of all their suffering no matter how big or how hold this feeling at your heart...hold it strongly without waivering your concentration...

This is a meditation that I've found myself doing quite a bit since I've been taking a Buddhist meditation course for the past 8 weeks...And it helps. I talked a bit last time on how I've been feeling more compassion towards people and things in general. I feel that meditation has really helped me deal with my stresses no matter how minor they may seem. Even on my yoga mat I've been learning to treat myself with compassion by thinking about my stresses and sufferings on my mat. I've come to the conclusion that sometimes I fear slowing down and sometimes I fear trying new poses (especially crazy looking ones). And as much of a cliche as it is "We need to find that balance between will and surrender." We need to stay mindful and treat every challenge with acceptance and compassion.

And this is my lead-in to something that instantly made me want to write.... It was a weekend of learning about how others use compassion and mindfulness to over come, what seem to me, great challenges in life. The first such instance came on Saturday when Adele's friend Lara sent her a video that we watched. I've posted the link here so you can watch and be inspired by someone elses courage. The video was about a small baby (Eliot) that was born with major health complications. Eliot was not even expected to make it through childbirth. Instead of being so overwhelmed by this challenge that they would complain and give up, the parents treated every second that their son was alive as a miracle. They accepted their child's condition not as a challenge but as opprotunity to be with him every day he was alive. I was on the verge of tears wathcing this video.

The second instance was Saturday night while watching Gandhi (the movie). I'd never seen Gandhi or really knew too much about his struggles in this life. It was truly an inspiring telling of his life. A man that saw injustice and needed in his heart to stand an fight...but without violence!! BRAVO!! What a true hero to mankind. A selfless man who mealry wanted equality for his fellow man. And was willing to stand-up to any challenge with compassion. This movie also brought me to the verge of tears...compassion filled tears.

This weekend was a great inspiration to me and really brings home what I am learning in Buddhist Meditation... That my meditations be cause to help end the suffering of not only myself but those around me. Whether I only effect one or many I try to live in this compassionate state. And whether you follow the teachings of Buddha or Christ or Vedantic traditions... they all teach the same thing... We are all brothers and sisters of this vast universe... We are all someones Mother or Father, Son or Daughter.
I meet the challenge of treating everyone as my sister or brother with compassionate open arms and not aversion.
this is the video!!