Author Archives: Michael Davis

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. read more

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

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. read more

Completion

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um-020111-emailOK, I might as well get to this. I’ve been putting it off for three days now. And it wasn’t until this morning’s yoga session that I narrowed the search for what to talk about this week. I have a feeling this one’s for me, since I doubt that too many will read it on New Year’s Day. So, here goes.

This week’s inquiry is Completion. I know, it’s obvious to think about it at the end of the year, before the clock ticks to 12:01 a.m., January 1st. It’s natural to look around my office and see the stacks of paper with no destination, and around the house and see those areas that need some love, and dusting. read more

FRIENDSHIP

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inq-12.18.09-blogWhen I ask myself the question, “What matters most?” and think about what has stood the test of time, I always come back to one sure thing — friends. It seems natural to cultivate good, long lasting friendships.

As an entry point for inquiry, it may also be a way to connect the dots between what you value in others and what you value in yourself. This is important to understanding why you do what you do, and what you want to do with the rest of your life.

One way to approach this inquiry is to look for connecting points. Connections are evident when and where your values match those of your friends. The more places you intersect, the more likely your friendships will last over time. read more

QUALITY AND QUANTITY

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inq-121109-blogThe more I try my hand at writing, the more intrigued I get with words. I look up the meaning of words a lot more now, and I’m often surprised by the shades and nuances I find there. This week I’ve been entranced by two words: quality and quantity.

They came into view when I began to look at what matters most as an evolutionary impulsion. I don’t believe we make major changes in the direction of our life because of random selection. We make life-changing decisions because, somewhere in us, we know that doing so will evolve us. If this were not the case, our children would be just like us.

This is where quality and quantity come into play. read more

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS

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inq-120409-blogThe other day, while driving around town, I pulled up to some train tracks at the same time as a school bus, which stopped before it crossed the tracks. I vaguely remembered the law about not passing a stopped bus, and I made a quick decision, and stopped too. Then I heard a horn behind me, and looked back to see the face of an irate driver in a truck, just a few feet from my bumper. I was startled out of my early morning trance, glancing back often to make sure he didn’t slam into the back of my car. When we pulled up next to each other at the red light, he glared and mouthed insults, and I gave him a hand signal to let him know what I thought of him.

I don’t lose my temper like that much anymore, and when I do I can feel an adrenaline rush that sometimes lasts for hours, a fight or flight reflex that I’m sure has been encoded in my DNA over millions of years of evolution. However much I would like to lash out in those moments at someone else, I have a secondary response, which is to rise above the momentary lapses of reason. I call this new evolutionary impulse Paulette. Fortunately, she happened to be in the car with me that day. read more

WHAT MATTERS MOST?

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inq-112009-blogWhat matters most to you? 

I’ve been asking this question a lot lately, in workshops and web conversations. I’ve included some insights here that may be helpful in elevating and refining your practice.

Here’s what I’ve noticed:

Most of us have some idea of what deeply fulfills us. I believe this to be the evolutionary impulse that Joseph Campbell called the Hero’s Journey. It seems that we are all called to journey where we have not been, and bring our invisible dream into the physical world; to make it real. read more

WHAT’S NEXT?

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inq-111309-blogINQUIRY

Last week, I posed the question, “How do you gain access to what you don’t already know?” I’ve been holding this question in mind all week as well. From time to time, with little or no effort on my part, I would remember it. Then I would come to the question behind the question, which is about knowing and not knowing, and what I can learn from each one.

I have a preference for not-knowing as you can probably tell, because I have seen the way knowing gets in the way, especially when something new is being explored. read more

WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW

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whatWELCOME

First, I want to thank you for coming here today. Your presence adds to our collective intention, and creates a subtle bond that calls up the best in each of us.

My intention for this blog is that it be a forum for discovery; a place to bring awareness to what is important and beneficial, with suggestions on how to put what is discovered into action. The best way I know to enhance discovery is through practice, so I will encourage you to put the theme of each week into practice, and then to notice what you notice. Future posts will address your questions and observations, to help make the experience as interactive as possible. I hope you will report what you notice in the comments area — to deepen your own understanding, and so others can learn from it. read more