Tips for Establishing a State of Gratitude

By David Schlussel

[This post first appeared on David Schlussel’s Blog: Live Better, Feel Better]

I’m so glad you’re even looking at this post. Thank you.

To help establish you in a deeper state of gratitude, I have a few questions for you: What’s the difference between actual gratitude and the word “gratitude”?

What is the feeling sense?

How grateful are you for how well your life is going at this moment? That you currently have the health and resources and time and lack of other trauma to be in front of a computer reading this? Seriously. Life could be much, much worse, right? Things are okay, right? Pretty good in fact, relatively. Of course things could be much better, but that’s for later. Gratitude for current reality is the name of the game. Gratitude for now.

We’ve all been in a situation where we’ve offered something generously, and felt genuine gratitude from someone; and we’ve all been on the receiving end of that exchange, and felt that genuine gratitude within us. What is that feeling?

We’ve all been on both sides of a situation where an offering was not fully met with gratitude. “Thanks” (said flatly) or “eww” or “is that it?” or “(silence)”. We know how that feels, yes? From both sides, yes?

When was the last time you felt it: actually fully received someones gift, especially the gift of their open heart’s availability to you?

When was the last time you felt fully received?

What creative ways have we found to not not receive people’s (or the earth’s) offerings? What else can push away that opportunity for gratitude?

  • taking it for granted
  • rejecting it as offensive
  • indifference
  • judging it as insufficient

And while all of these experiences are valid, it is not only possible, but feels really good to take a moment to experience gratitude for the gesture.

Taking it for granted: “Wow, air, I’ve been breathing you my whole life, forgetting what agony I would be in without you, how I would actually die within seconds if you weren’t constantly there for me. I’ve even polluted you without thinking twice about it more times than I can remember. When I put my attention on you I realize that every breath is blissful. (Inhale/exhale). Oh I am so grateful for you and this blissful breath of life we are together.” Or how about your partner, your job, your car, your parents, your kids…..


Rejecting it as offensive:
Swami Venkatesananda said something great: paraphrasing: “If we are a true seeker, looking to clear away our triggers, if someone does something that bothers us we can thank them for pointing out to us where we are unresolved, and where the rest of our work that we are so committed to is”: “Wow, judge, your letting a known sex offender and child pornographer go after raping a 13 year old really disturbed me. Thank you for reminding me of what’s really important to me that I’ve done nothing about. I’m going to do something about that, like make sure you lose your job, and make sure the world understands that 13 year olds are precious and should not be held responsible for their actions, and that those who take advantage of them do not get away with it.”

Indifference: “Hey lover, when you ignored my loving gesture, I felt hurt like I’d been abandoned. Thank you for helping me feel how I still cling to abandonment trauma, and the ways I do things to get approval, not just because they are good things to do. I can now work with that.”

Judging it as insufficient: “Thank you person I am not at all attracted to who is flirting with me, it is so beautiful of you to face any fears you have of rejection and approach me this way. I am flattered (pause to enjoy). And I also am not interested.”

We can experience gratitude without having to take everything that comes our way.

A powerful lesson in gratitude came from my nephew Helix at Christmas when he was about 5. He opened present after present, until he could find no more, and as any 5 year old would do, without thanking anyone for a single present, asked if there were more. I thought: why would anyone give you more presents if you don’t even appreciate what you have.

Of course I immediately thought about my own life, how many gifts I have and how rarely I actually appreciate them. Theres a way that when I feel like I don’t have enough money, love, attention, whatever, that feeling of scarcity and the closure that surrounds it keeps me from having the more that I desire.

And so I apply it in my yoga practice. Most powerfully in things like straightening my leg while hold ing my big toe, when lifting up to a handstand, opening to the splits, or any such yoga trick that once seemed impossible to me. I’d find myself attempting a posture and feeling that familiar blockage to my freedom and get so frustrated (so ungrateful) for my limitations, forgetting that they are there to protect me. Why would my body keep opening if I don’t appreciate what it’s already doing? I learned not to force past those blockages, but to be grateful for them: pause there to learn what my body was trying to tell me by seizing up, and guess what happens? My body opens further. My ingratitude held me tight where I was, my gratitude freed me up. Every time. In every way.

So I take this time to thank you for being in my life enough to get this message. I love that I get to feel heard on subjects that are important to me. I thank the earth for the enormous bounty it’s been offering every species in our divine cohesion since life began! I thank our nation and it’s desire to fiercely protect it’s citizens in a way that I have never lived in fear of war or famine, and can use that freedom to pursue loftier aspirations. I thank my family for holding me and raising me and nurturing me in all the ways they knew how, the best they could every day to this day. I am grateful to have this chance of a lifetime on earth as a human being to get to experience what life has to offer.

Have a wonderful day, week, month, year, decade, life!


David_Schlussel

David Schlussel is a yoga teacher, life coach, husband, and father. David experiences yoga as the practice of reconnecting with our wholeness. When we operate from our wholeness, we experience the incredible strength and flexibility that is our potential. David coaches his students from fixed ideas about what they can and can’t do, towards life as a playful exploration of possibility.

To contact David, email him at yogidavid@gmail.com or visit his website: yogilifecoach.com

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20

A Poem for The Unknown

In out of the way places of the heart
Where your thoughts never think to wander
This beginning has been quietly forming
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.

For a long time it has watched your desire
Feeling the emptiness grow inside you
Noticing how you willed yourself on
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.

It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the grey promises that sameness whispered
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent
Wondered would you always live like this.

Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream
A path of plenitude opening before you.

Though your destination is not clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is one with your life’s desire.

Awaken your spirit to adventure
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.

By John O’ Donohue

Poem shared with us by Melina Meza. Join Melina for Yin Yoga this month. During all of March, she will be covering the 5 Elements over the 4 weeks as a way for students to learn more about self-care, Ayurveda, and our connection to nature.

Yin Yoga contains the ancient, and some say original, form of asana practice. The sages who pioneered the path of yoga used asanas to strengthen the body, so that they could sit for long periods in contemplative meditation. If you have ever sat for a long time with legs crossed, you know the hips and lower back need to be strong and open. The sensations you felt were deep in the connective tissues and the joints. These are the deep yin tissues of the body, relative to the more superficial yang tissues of muscles and skin. Yin Yoga opens up these deep, dense, rarely touched areas.


Recently Yin Yoga has been re-discovered, and more and more students of yoga are adding this challenging form of practiceto their regular sadhana. Years of a dedicated asana practice will make anyone healthier, stronger, and more flexible, but at some point the muscles will have reached their limit of flexibility. New depths in postures, deeper ranges of motion, or an increased flow of energy may only be achievable by focusing on the deeper tissues of the body. This is why so many students are finding Yin Yoga to be the perfect compliment and balance to their more active, yang practices.

Join Melina for Yin Yoga Tuesday’s 6:00-7:20PM at Namaste Berkeley.

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20

Thrive: A Personal Self-Care Plan Worksheet

Decision Fatigue and The Unbalanced Life

Life is all about balance. Creating self-care habits that sustain us through life’s up and downs is essential to a healthy lifestyle. If our delicate life balance becomes unruly we may end up sick, burnt out, or depressed. It is when we are unbalanced we reach for stimulants to keep us awake, we crave unhealthy food packed with sugar, and we seek media consumption to numb our mind over healthy hobbies like reading, exercise, or meditation.

Think of it this way, each morning when we wake up we have exactly 100 decision tokens. Each choice we make – what clothes to wear, what to feed the kids, which route to take to work – takes 1 token away. By the end of the day, unless our self-care routine has become habitual, it becomes relatively impossible to think of some way to care for ourselves. When we run out of mental tokens we end up in a state of mindlessness – often beating ourselves up over not doing better.

Yoga teaches us how to create space for self-love and care on and off the mat – but once our mat is rolled up we eventually revert to our default mode of go, go, go.

This is why breaking out of a routine, recommitting to our practice, and networking with others for support is essential when we feel the need to hit the reset button. Sometimes all it takes is structure, guidance, and a renewed sense of inspiration to help us raise our motivation and energy levels. Self-care doesn’t need to be a big thing. As long as we plan ahead, we can create a whole week of self-care!

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What Does Self-Care Look Like?

Self-care is different for everyone but we believe it has 3 main ingredients:

1) is enjoyable and loving.

2) nourishes or benefits your body, mind, or spirit in some way.

3) can be infused with intention for a balanced life.

For us, self-care can include:

  • 10 minute morning routine of dry brushing and oil massage with organic, cold-pressed oils.
  • Drinking a cup of hot water and lemon
  • 10 minute morning meditation
  • Taking an afternoon yoga class
  • Catching up with an old friend
  • Getting to bed before 10 PM
  • Going for a lunch break walk
  • Reading a new book

Self-care does not mean:

  • Beating ourself up for not sticking to a routine
  • Feeling stressed about ‘making time’ for self-care
  • Wishing we were different, not honoring ourself
  • Not being honest about our desires and intentions
  • Not taking time to reflect about our decisions
  • Taking on extra commitments because we feel we should

How can YOU get started?

Getting started it simple. You can begin by printing out the Namaste Weekly Self-Care Planner and filling it out! Find a few minutes throughout your day to commit to loving yourself in a way that feels personal and healthy for your unique self. If you are ready for a bigger reset, consider joining our 30 Days to Thrive tribe which begins Wednesday, January 18 with Naushon Kabat-Zinn and Elika Aird. The 30 Days to Thrive program is the perfect opportunity to dive deeper into your yoga practice, re-evaluate your relationship with food, learn new self-care techniques, and connect with others in your community who are striving to be their wisest, brightest selves.

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Download PDF: Namaste Personal Self-Care Plan Worksheet


About our 30 Day to Thrive teachers:

Naushon_Kabat-ZinnNaushon has been a student of yoga since she was a little girl. Her challenging, yet compassionate Power Vinyasa classes are a wonderful way to cultivate strength, serenity, flexibility and balance.  Inspired by her studies with Baron Baptiste, Shiva Rea, Baba Hari Dass, and the teachings of Vispassana (Insight) Meditation, Naushon’s all levels classes emphasize the linking of movement with breath, cultivating our ability to be more fully present and awake in our lives, and navigate the challenges that arise with more grace and kindness.

ElikaProfileAGrowing up with a love for dance, sports and music, Elika was naturally fascinated by the fluid and liberating practice of Vinyasa Yoga. After a severe back injury led her to the practice in 1999, Elika initially studied Iyengar and Anusara yoga and began to see her body healing and knew she wanted to inspire others to trust the innate ability of the body to regain harmony~full of vitality and bliss. When you take a class with Elika, expect to be inspired and to move your body possibly in ways you’ve never moved, exploring your creative intelligence and connecting with your own Source. Experience a soulful and dynamic weaving of healing music, yoga philosophy, poetry and vinyasa flow informed mostly by her Prana Flow training with Shiva Rea. 

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20

What does it mean to Embrace Your Shadow?

by Sariah Jiwan Shakti 

Kundalini Yoga is an ancient yogic technology that helps us heal, strengthen, and cleanse our body as well as balance our mind and our Ego. It brings together all of the different branches of yoga into one practice that will quickly and powerfully transform your life. The thing about high speed transformation is that it can often feel uncomfortable and messy. As we heal our nervous system from past trauma, the residual emotions come up so they can be cleared. Sounds fun, right? Navigating this kind of mass clearing might feel daunting and even a little scary. Fun isn’t quite the thing that comes to mind! However, on the other side of that is freedom, clarity, more creativity and joy and those things may seem a bit more attractive, and yes, can lead to fun!

I’m excited to speak about these things because I’ve been there and personally experienced the messiness, freedom, and joy in transformation. But it definitely wasn’t always easy. When I was going through my Kundalini Yoga teacher training I experienced a lot of irrational anger. All of my suppressed childhood anger was coming to the surface with a vengeance my target became my teacher. I wrapped up all of that angst and frustration, stuffed it into a ball and lobbed it right at his Ego. It was perfect. One day I flat out told him that I didn’t like him. As I waited with my foot in my mouth for him to ultimately dislike me back, he said, “Sariah, where there is a bright light, there is a dark shadow.” This comment has always stuck with me and I’ve often shared it with friends and students when they are grappling with their shadow self. It helped me realize that in him was darkness and light as well as myself. I also realized that my suppressed shadow was projecting judgements onto my teacher as away to find some relief. Classic stuff.

As humans we have strong polarities or opposite forces within us with the most obvious being left and right hemispheres of the brain, masculine and feminine, and positive and negative charges. We have acidic and alkaline qualities within us, we experience hot and cold, high energy and low energy, we are awake and then we are asleep, and I could go on. Often times we equate our dark side or shadow self to the negative and the light side to the positive. Our brains often go to this place of negative = bad and positive = good. However, I want to invite you to take on a different perspective as you read through this. Because all of the polarities within us make up our whole self and allow us to function and on this earth plane, let’s allow both dark and light, positive and negative to be a perfect part of who we are, not good or bad, just part of our Is-ness. That being said, why does our shadow self often seem so intense, negative, and something that we want to push away, or has consumed such a large part of who we are, there is no room for the light?

Let’s explore what the shadow really is according to Carl Jung. Jungian psychology teaches us that the shadow aspect of who we are refers to an unconscious aspect of the personality that the conscious ego does not identify in itself. It’s the least desirable parts of ourself and so our conscious mind tends to push those away and make them largely negative storing them away in the subconscious. Jung says, “Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual’s conscious life, the blacker and denser it is.”Sariah Jiwan Shakti

So the more we push away this often labeled negative part of ourselves and do not give space for it to express in our conscious life in healthy constructive ways, the more destructive it can become taking up so much space there is not much room for the light to get in. This may manifest as chronic depression, addiction, angry rages, or deep internalized anger that contorts the personality. Ultimately, in it’s most extreme form, if this shadow is not expressed, someone may cause harm themselves or others.

When the shadow aspect of ourselves is causing us to self destruct, we become cut off from our connection to spirit, GOD, soul, and our pure creative playful nature – The Light. The good news is that humans are inherently heliotropic which means we are constantly reorienting towards the light. Even in our darkest times with enough digging we can find an ember within us that if stoked will turn into a bright fire. Why? Because one cannot exist without the other. Dark cannot exist without the light and vice versa. So where there is darkness there will always be light.

How can we embrace our shadow, love it, and transmute it into light? What does a healthy relationship with our shadow self even look like? How can we start to cultivate a loving relationship the perceived negative parts of ourselves so we can become more balanced, have more room for our light, and ultimately shine bright, be big, and connected to our soul’s creativity?

1. Practice Allowing All to BE

When you notice that you are experiencing some uncomfortable emotions, thoughts, images, or sensations in the body, give yourself some space experience this energy. Breathe deep into your body, allow it all to be with you instead of labeling your experience as wrong or bad. Recognize that these darker emotions are here to give you information about what you need to improve your experience. As you allow all to be with you, remain open and notice if new, more constructive thoughts, impulses, and ideas come to you. Notice if your body begins to relax and release. Remain open without attachment to the outcome.

2. Play with Your Shadow

Are there some safe, fun, and inspiring ways for you to express and play with your shadow? Perhaps there is a loud, aggressive rock band you want to go and dance to. Maybe a costume or outfit you want to rock at a party that expresses your shadow self. Maybe you go out to a secluded place in the woods and throw rocks and scream obscenities and all of your dark thoughts to release them and ground them in the earth? Creating art and music is a great way to express your shadow self, channel this aspect of your subconscious self into something dark, beautiful, and inspiring for others. Find a friend, teacher, or coach to help you work more constructively with this energy.

3. Practice Yoga, Meditation and Prayer

Yoga and meditation are the fast train to getting into your subconscious mind, clearing out the old, and changing old pattern behavior that does not serve your highest good and your light-being self. Prayer is a way to connect with the God consciousness within you that trumps all darkness and will instantly bring the light. Surrender the destruction of the shadow to God and your Higher Self. Prayer also provides the energetic support you need to pull yourself out of a funk. Yoga will strengthen your nervous system and when you have a strong nervous system, it is easier to take a pause, a breath and be with the shadow so you can metabolize the bad feeling emotions.

4. Celebrate and Shine Your Light

When you notice that your dark energy has shifted to more lightness, celebrate this! A great way to recognize this is if you notice your system has gone from feeling tight to feeling big and expansive. Make it a point to smile at others and say nice things. Share your experience, your grace, and the brightness that is within you. Know that all good things, dreams, goals, and visions come from within you. External circumstances do not get to dictate how you feel. Allow your inner light to shine outward and create all of the good things in the world your unique self is here to create!

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20

Namaste’s Podcasts Picks for Yogis

Many of us know it can be hard to find time to cuddle up with a good book or watch a great documentary. If you’re looking to learn new things, reaffirm core beliefs, or receive gentle reminders on mindful living – podcasts may be the perfect medium for you. The reason podcasts are so great is that you can listen to them in the car, while you are cleaning, paying bills, the list is endless. Namaste is all about making health and wellness a lifestyle. Asana is only a small part of what it takes to connect to yourself and others. With love and consideration we have picked out some of our favorite thought leaders to help you take your practice off the mat and into your daily life:

being-krista-tippett

On Being with Krista Tippet

Why you will love it: On Being is an award winning podcast and website produced by American Public Radio for the intent of exploring the human condition. Krista Tippett is a Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and New York Times best-selling author. In 2014, she received the National Humanities Medal at the White House for “thoughtfully delving into the mysteries of human existence. On the air and in print, Ms. Tippett avoids easy answers, embracing complexity and inviting people of every background to join her conversation about faith, ethics, and moral wisdom.”

Start Here: David Whyte – The Conversational Nature of Reality 

 

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The Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields

Why you will love it: Jonathan Fields, founder of The Good Life Project, says “ A good life is not a place at which you arrive, it’s a lens through which you see and create your world.” This philosophy is woven throughout the podcast as Jonathan digs into the why and how individuals create a good life. This podcast, with over 350,000 subscribers, provides unscripted, deeply-inspiring conversations and insights from acclaimed artists, entrepreneurs, makers and world-shakers.

Start Here: Elena Brower: On Yoga, Love, Addiction and Grace

 

RICH-ROLL-PODCAST-GRAPHIC-640x640The Rich Roll Podcast 

Why you will love it: Rich has an amazing story of how he transformed from over weight, over worked lawyer to a vegan triathlete and wellness advocate. Each week Rich delves deep into all things wellness with some of the brightest and most forward thinking, paradigm busting minds in health, fitness, nutrition, art, entertainment, entrepreneurship & spirituality. Intimate, deep and often intense, these are not interviews. They are conversations. A weekly aural dance designed to provoke, educate, inspire and empower you to discover, uncover, unlock and unleash your best, most authentic self.

Start Here: Jedidiah Jenkins: The Pursuit of Wonder, The Power of Story & Finding Truth in Adventure

 

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Wanderlust Speakeasy Podcast

Why you will love it: Wanderlust is of course one of the leaders in the yoga and wellness space. Their approach to broadening the yogic community and effort to include all aspects of health from food to music to the practice itself creates a vessel for wisdom. Immerse yourself in the inspiring ideas of thought-leaders at the Wanderlust Speakeasy. The intimate and casual lecture series covers topics ranging from holistic health to progressive politics, from personal empowerment to community betterment.

Start Here: Graham Hill: Less Stuff, Space, and Energy. More Time, Money and Freedom.

 

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10% Happier with Dan Harris

Why you will love it: After having a nationally televised panic attack, Dan *knew* he had to make some changes. A lifelong nonbeliever, he found himself on a bizarre adventure involving a disgraced pastor, a mysterious self-help guru, and a gaggle of brain scientists. Eventually, he realized that the source of his problems was the very thing he always thought was his greatest asset: the incessant, insatiable voice in his head. Now each week he interviews meditation experts on how to bring the practice home in our every day lives.

Start Here: Episode #1: Dalai Lama 


Namaste-app-widgetWould you be interested in hearing short, weekly podcasts episodes featuring your favorite Namaste teachers? Let us know in the comments below!

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20

Namaste Mamas Wisdom and Gift Guide

We are all sons or daughters and arrived here by a kind of magic.

We asked a few of our fabulous mamas here at Namaste to share their experience around Motherhood and we love what they had to share:

Namaste Teacher Margi writes these sweet haikus for her son, Fin:

My role as a mom?
To guide, allow, and protect.
It is an honor.

Six year old guru
Shines bright light on the darkness.
Fin Young Cecconi.

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From our Studio Director Mae: On Practicing and Protecting:

**Protection. Truth. Practice**

As a parent, your child is your most vulnerable tender heart walking through a sometimes fierce and selfish world. Every fiber of your being aches to protect that little being. Give shelter. And while giving shelter and sanctuary, truth is the vehicle in which to deliver the words and wisdom that facilitate true safety and true protection.

As anyone who has a child knows, a small child’s detection of inauthenticity is unparalleled.

Compassionate, truthful words and actions teach authentic self-confidence and understanding.

How do I find compassionate and truthful words and actions?  Through my own imperfect practice.  By mindfully connecting my mind and body, breath and spirit.  By witnessing my thoughts.  By practicing my yoga and allowing the wisdom of many thousands of teachers to resonate through my spirit and into my heart.

Through practice we offer our truth and provide protection.

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Nubia says it straight from the heart, as always…

It took a lot of concentration from me, to be present in my HEART while my mind and body were telling me that motherhood was too demanding . After a while I was able to befriend my inability to open my HEART to the immense LOVE that my son was reflecting back to me. I had masks, armors and all kind of excuses to not allow my heart to burst open and to surrender to that LOVE…and when I was finally able to…my time with my son became the most OPENING spiritual experience of my life.

Now Ezra is 10 and I still learn everyday from him.

From a Bhakti Yoga perspective, motherhood is the ultimate practice of devotion where the sacred qualities of unconditional love, sacrifice, faith, tolerance, patience, good will, and hard work are all channeled towards one being, your little Guru-Baby.

Treat your mamas right this Mother’s Day. Looking for the perfect gift? See our gift guide below and don’t miss out on our Mother’s Day Sale of 20% off all jewelry for your beloved one May 1-May 10.GiftGuide-2

 

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20

Pranayama with Nubia Teixeira plus a Practice Recording

As we each develop and go deeper into our yoga practice we also begin to deepen our understanding of the connection between the breath and the body as well. This connection is absolutely fundamental to our ability to fully practice the yoga poses or Asana to their full potential and experience the most profound benefits. Pranayama may feel like a very advanced concept but fortunately Nubia Teixeira, one of our core teachers and the head of our Teacher Training at Namaste, is able to dissect and break down the meaning and uses for pranayama in our lives in a clear and useful way. Read on for Nubia’s insights on Pranayama and a practice exercise to begin your exploration:

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*Excerpts adapted from the Namaste Yoga Teacher Training Manual

UNDERSTANDING PRANAYAMA 

The word Pranayama is derived from two Sanskrit terms: prana which means vital energy, the very seed of life within and without; and Ayama, which means to control, to expand, to lead beyond death. The intention of the practice of pranayama is to breathe in a conscious way, to honor the life force in our physical bodies, the grace that breathes us into existence.

Prana is mostly present in the air we breathe (Air – Vayu), the wind and the electrical currents, the light of the Sun (Fire- Agni), the water we drink (Water- Apas), the bodily fluids, the food we eat (Earth-prithvi) and the forces of gravity and magnetism. It is also in the sounds we vocalize (Ether-akasha) and in the sounds we hear.

Developing a relationship with the breath facilitates the withdrawing of the senses (pratyahara) and our communication with the inner world. A pranayama practice supports the awakening of the dormant sensations and memories within ourselves and also teaches us how to heal ourselves by allowing the vital energy to move to the places of joy and sorrow within us. The practice of Pranayama is one of the most effective ways of balancing the energy in the body, mind and emotions.


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FINDING OUR TRUE PURPOSE with PRANAYAMA PRACTICE

Humans often are blinded by the ego and uncertain of their true purpose, which can lead to the separation of the self from others, from life and from Source. As a result, confusion rises, despair creeps in and inner wisdom, intuition and sense of Self is forgotten. In this place of loss and confusion, it becomes only natural to grasp on to the material world.

Human evolution is intrinsically connected to spiritual growth, and it is only through our bodies and actions in this world of things that we evolve. Our approach to living our lives, moment-by-moment, fully present, rests on our ability to surrender to the Divine.

This, in turn, ignites our innate Wisdom. Developing the capacity to follow the in and out breath without interfering in the flow, awakening faith and confidence.

This “Thread of Life” that we call breath, is a thread that connects us, each individual soul to the universal soul’s trajectory, beyond time and space, beyond body, beyond the beyond. It is a continuum, without beginning, middle or ending. Life after life. One Love through infinity.

Listen below to an introduction to Bhakti based meditation with an intro “Twameva” – sung by Jai Uttal

 

 

 

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20

Growing Generosity

Growing Generosity with Ashley Sharp

We can understand generosity in two ways.  First, generosity is a spontaneous expression of an open heart and mind.  It is not a matter of deciding to be generous, but instead it arises and simply flows out of us. When we are connected and wholehearted, generosity emerges without thought. Hafiz says:

“Even
After
All this time
The sun never says to the earth,
‘You owe me.’
Look
What happens
With a love like that
It lights the
Whole
Sky.”

The second way to investigate generosity is as a practice.  When we practice generosity we are, as Pema Chodron says, learning to let go.  Generosity helps us connect with others and it generates awareness of our interconnectedness with all beings. In order to give, someone must receive and in order to receive, someone must give.

Recent science coming out of the University of Notre Dame says that being generous causes a person to be happier and healthier.

The ancient teachings of the buddha speak of generosity as a treasure and recommend practicing acts of generosity as a basis of social harmony and personal virtue.

To cultivate generosity, take on the challenge of acting on every generous impulse you have for 24 hours. Give food away 4 times this month.  Give away $20 or $50 dollars to a stranger.

Generosity need not be limited to money and goods.  Practice generosity with your time or your receptivity.  Give a smile and a kind word.

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“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.”  Elizabeth Gilbert

Join Ashley for her upcoming Growing Generosity workshop on Saturday, April 11 to continue this teaching.

Sign up here for Ashley’s workshop

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20

The Art of Honoring, The Strength of Vulnerability

by Caverly Morgan

We have countless ways to dismiss our experience. Endless strategies to shirk from, abandon, and resist the moment – in particular, the experience we are having in the moment. Picture a mother consistently dismissing her child. Imagine the effect that this has on the child. We learn to assume that our experience isn’t valid. We craft and rely on coping mechanisms in order to survive our lives. We become more and more ‘protected.’ We build walls. We defend them.

In Awareness Practice, we are invited to honor our experience – whatever that experience is. This isn’t some kind of airy-fairy, “It’s all good,” panacea. This is the real and gritty work of moving toward the very thing we’ve deeply believed will harm us – moving into the experience that we’ve avoided in an attempt to ‘stay safe.’ We are invited to trust, rather than question and discard. This is the foundation of a practice of fearlessness.

While the image of a warrior with a finely sharpened sword can certainly aptly apply when speaking of spiritual practice, in particular in terms of cutting through delusion, the honoring being pointed to here is a process of nurturance. It is the turning toward ourselves, with deep compassion. It is the embrace of our experience without the distortion of judgment. It is the gift of love.

We aren’t conditioned to give this gift to ourselves. We honor the experiences of others we love; yet we, habitually, don’t honor our own. For others we love, we reserve the ‘right’ to judge. Not for ourselves. For others, we may even see the divine workings of how life has unfolded. We trust the process. For ourselves, there is recrimination, accusation, fear. We are to blame. We are at fault. There is, with ourselves within the conditioned system, little to honor yet much to fix.

As we learn to honor our experience, we become more comfortable with our vulnerability. We no longer need to protect the tenderness of our experience because we understand, experientially, that that tenderness cannot be threatened. It is held, gently and firmly, within the context of unconditional love. When our attention is aligned with unconditional love, our conditioned definitions of ‘perpetration’ fall away. We lose the desire to defend.

With practice, the tenderness of our experience is the only place in which we wish to live – to truly rest inside of. With practice, we become intimate with ourselves, each other, and the world at large through our own ability to touch, and fully experience, the most authentic and open part of our experience of being alive. From that union with our experience, rather than the conditioned tendency to separate from it, and from our own ability to honor ourselves, we become unafraid to be vulnerable. In fact, we find the strength in our vulnerability. As we learn to reside in love, we become fearless.


caverly-200Caverly Morgan is a teacher and founder and director of One House of Peace, a nonprofit that began as a small meditation center located in Sacramento, CA. Caverly has been devoted to Zen Awareness Practice for the last eighteen years. She is a former Zen monk who lived and trained at a silent monastery for eight years. In 2012, One House of Peace expanded into Portland, OR, where Caverly now maintains her own spiritual practice while offering the gift of practice to others.

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Winter Solstice Journal Exercise

“Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, focus on the fertile darkness and your creative power that allows life to emerge from the soil, which will manifest fulfillment and bliss, from all the seeds you wish to plant for this next year.

Clear all the weeds of the past and let go of any disappointments or negative feelings and allow the new to be birthed from the wisdom that has been gained. Moods are like weather ~ rain, wind, snow and Sun ~ feel free in your expression but be informed by your higher nature, how to channel it appropriately into all you wish to create for 2015 and beyond.

Be content with what you have, rather than be sad or frustrated about what is lacking… Send healing love to all those you worry about, rather than take on the stress or worry about their well-being. Trust the Source Love that surrounds you and be aware that all you have created is something your higher self and unconscious self has wished to create for you ~ so that you can step into your highest potential and divinity without holding back. Every loss and failure, all being part of that creation – phoenix always rises.

Don’t be afraid to shine brightly, release any voices of sabotage or learn to not let them control you, celebrate the blessing you are and let Love be your strength to make it through all adversity. Spirit is the greatest wealth, bask in its golden rays and embrace Freedom!

We are more powerful than anything negative ~ it only shows up to remind us to rise above the forces that limit, so that we can develop our highest abilities and have mind over matter, Spirit over form ~ shaping the World around us into Heaven on Earth…”

– Laura Magdalena (via awelltraveledwoman.tumblr.com)
Winter Sunset

How are you celebrating the Winter Solstice?
As the year comes to an end and days begin to grow longer, we encourage you to take some time to reflect on 2014. Here are few questions to help inspire you:

  • What new things did you learn new things about yourself?
  • What was a favorite trip, local or far away?
  • What inner strengths proved to be most valuable this year?
  • What new people entered your life? Who is no longer here?
  • What, or who, are you most thankful for?

We hope this year was a beautiful one for you in so many ways.

With love and gratitude from all of us at the studio – Happy Winter!
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