Monthly Archives: January 2010

WRITE YOUR SELF

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inq-01.29.10-blogI have always considered myself to be a private person. I have no bumper stickers on my car. I wear muted colors so I can blend into any situation, and I was never comfortable being the center of attention until long after I finished school.

I suppose this is probably why I made a career out of being a public speaker, trainer, and coach. Some part of me knew I needed to get out in front of my shyness or I would never realize the deep dreams I held inside.

Speaking to people is one way to let others know what’s inside you. Recently, I have discovered another, and at least for me, more vulnerable medium: the written word.

HOW TO CREATE SPACE IN A BUSY DAY

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um-012610-emailHow can it be, so early in the year that I’m already writing about how you can create more space in your life?

The feedback I’m hearing from both friends and business associates, is that some goals are already sliding into a whirling mass of agitation that sounds like, “What was I thinking … the pull of deadlines, assignments, and unexpected opportunities is threatening to bury me!”

So it seems timely to tackle creating space before overwhelm replaces excitement.

You may think you have no more time, but I’m here to remind you that you do! I’m going to say something now that you’ll have to wrap your mind around, especially if you’re feeling a bit swamped. So take a moment, and before you read the following, breathe in and slowly exhale.

OK … ready?

1. There are no problems, just situations to deal with, and
2. Time is your pal.

TAKE A BREATH

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inq-01.22.10-blogLast week I talked about the importance of synchronizing breath and movement in order to come into the present. It occurred to me as I reread that message that more clarification may be helpful.

Here are two ways you can develop this skill in your own personal practice:

FACE THE PAIN — I have a pain in my right ankle. I can find positions where it doesn’t hurt, but when I walk it reasserts itself, causing me to compensate by shifting my balance to the other foot. Now I know from experience, that if I want to, I can push this pain to the edges of my awareness. I can acclimate to pain. The downside of this strategy is that pain can become the guest who never leaves, and who, after a while, becomes part of the furniture.

BE HERE NOW

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um-011910-emailI was sitting in an early morning meditation with my husband Michael. It was still dark; the outside world and my inside world were quiet. No phones ringing, no email, just the sound of breathing in and breathing out. I had the experience of intense presence. I encountered a sense of nothing to do, and nowhere to go. Then a simple directive trickled in with my next breath, be … here … now. Involuntarily the corners of my mouth turned up in a smile, and I chuckled inwardly, could it be that simple?

Be here now is a radical way to look at living your life; especially if you spend time repeatedly reviewing the past, or excessively worrying about the future. It’s not that you don’t want to look to the past for lessons learned or set goals for the future, but the reason for doing so is markedly different when your view is from this moment in time. It’s really quite logical. The only time you can implement something you’ve learned from the past is now. And the only time you can take a step to achieve a goal is now. The more quickly you can come to this moment, the faster you can release the burden of “should have” and keeping the past alive, by not being here now.

STRENGTH, FLEXIBILITY AND BALANCE

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inq-01.15.10-blogI first discovered yoga when I was 18 and living in South Florida. I’ve practiced it for over 40 years, and it has served me in many ways, not just as a spiritual and physical exercise system, but as a metaphor for life.
I thought I would use this week’s blog to look at how this time-honored method can be used to inquire into your body and mind.
Yoga develops your awareness in a unique way. Yogis discovered over a thousand years ago that if you synchronize movement and breath, you capture the attention of the mind, which is usually bouncing around from one subject to another like a butterfly, or as it’s sometimes called — a monkey mind.
The benefit of drawing your awareness inward, through focusing your attention on the inflow and outflow of the breath, is that it brings you in direct contact with the present.
In Flow Yoga, which I learned from Ganga White and Tracey Rich, the poses flow from one to another in a continuous movement. Even poses that appear to be unmoving are infused with the movement of the breath. Each inhalation draws the energy of the breath into the body, and with each exhalation, the pose is expanded to allow for more length and space. The inner awareness that develops, in a deeply sensory way, reveals where you are tight and constricted, and where you are relaxed and open.
Over time, no matter where you were when you started, you gradually discover where and how to realign the body and let go of unnecessary holding.
The experience of letting go can be subtle or dramatic, but it does come — especially if you develop a consistent practice. The practice of letting go also reveals just how tied the mind and the body are. In fact the word yoga means to yoke, like when an ox is yoked to a wagon.
When you let go of something you’ve been holding in mind, it also releases the holding in the body. For instance, you can zero in on a spot in your body that is sore or tense, and by bringing your awareness (through your breathing) into that area, you can learn to see its root cause as being lodged in the mind as well. Self judgment is a good example, as are the memories that sometimes, even years later, cause anger to well up within us.
A tight mind = a tight body. A flowing mind = a graceful body.
When you learn where and how to relax the area around the tension, both body and mind are freed up.
Yoga as an awareness practice, develops three skills, namely Strength, Flexibility, and Balance.
There are numerous poses that develop each of these skills, and each skill depends on the other two.
Strength is developed through learning to be Flexible in both mind and body, and through finding Balance in the ever-changing moment.
Flexibility depends on both Strength and Balance, and allows you the freedom to explore beyond the limits imposed by the mind, with the added benefit of learning how to bend without breaking.
Balance, requires both Strength and Flexibility. Try the Tree Pose sometime and you’ll see what I mean.
Each of these skills can be practiced off the mat, as well as on it.
Strength could be seen as: stamina, resilience, and fortitude
 
Flexibility could be: willingness to listen, adaptability, and letting go
 
Balance might include: equanimity, equilibrium, and non-attachment
PRACTICE
Which of these skills (Strength, Flexibility, and Balance) need more of your attention? Can you think of some new ways to bring these skills into your family, work, or spiritual practice?
If you are looking for ways to deepen your own personal practice, consider yoga as a way to bring mind, breath and body into synch, on and off the mat.
If you are interested, on our website at: www.one-now.com you will find a tab called Products. In the “featured product” section will find Total Yoga from Ganga & Tracey. This is the practice Paulette and I use, and I recommend it highly. Also on that page is a guided breath practice by yours truly called Awakening Breath. The two practices are great for both beginners and seasoned practitioners.
In peace,
Michael

THE ANSWER IS YES!

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um-011210-emailDon’t say yes to please, acquiesce or because you think you don’t have a choice. You do. And every choice brings you closer or further away from what you want. So before you say yes, think carefully about what you want to create. As soon as you say yes, your intention becomes directed to an outcome. Saying yes is a creative act, a commitment to bring something new into existence.

When you realize the creative power contained in saying yes, you also begin to realize the importance of getting clear on what you’re declaring. Clarity on what matters most to you, brings what you want into alignment with who you are, and what you’re saying yes to.

When you say yes to what you want, and commit with your whole heart, the universe responds in supportive ways.

WHERE IS YOUR AWARENESS?

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inq-01.08.10-blogI have been working to understand how awareness can be used to a higher advantage. It seems logical to think that a master of chess sees a wider and deeper perspective on the game than a novice. And in our own chess game, called life, the more awareness we have in any given situation, the more moves are visible, and ultimately available to us.

With that in mind, I have been paying more attention to where I place my attention. For example, if I only pay attention to my own wants and needs, I miss large pieces of the picture. Someone can be talking, and I can be nodding my head, and yet the conversation I’m engaged with is a universe away. I might be analyzing what they just said, or comparing it to some bit of information I have, or downright judging them. If the first conversation is the one in the moment, I liken the second conversation to a whirling dervish of mental activity that spins whenever something triggers it.

THE URGE TO ACCOMPLISH

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um-010510-email“I am inwardly directed to Right Decisions and outwardly compelled to Right Action.” Ernest Holmes

Dr. Lloyd G. Tupper gave this affirmation to me as I was contemplating this uplifting moment. I chuckled as I thought how that affirmative statement just about sums it up! If we make the right decisions and take the right action, then the urge to accomplish is rewarded by an inward glow of fulfillment and an outward manifestation of achievement.

Since this is the time of year we often set new goals, I thought it would be prudent to think about what the word “right” means in the context of decisions and action.

Right has many definitions:


  • Justification (I’m right!)
  • True as a fact (It’s right!)
  • Political (We’re right!)
  • Direction (Go right!)
  • Agreement (You’re right!)
  • Right sizing (You’re fired!)