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FTWMI: Doing the Work May 16, 2022

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in "Impossible" People, Books, Buddhism, Changing Perspectives, Dharma, Faith, Healing Stories, Hope, Life, Mantra, Movies, Music, Mysticism, One Hoop, Pain, Philosophy, Science, Suffering, Tragedy, Wisdom, Yoga.
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Be humble, strong, and balanced. 

While yesterday’s practice served up “phun” with a side of suffering, how we deal with suffering is the main course during tonight’s practice. The following was originally posted in 2021. I have updated the date-related practice information. Even though there is no music for the Monday night practice, I have retained the links from last year’s practice.

In the spirit of generosity (“dana”), the Zoom classes, recordings, and blog posts are freely given and freely received. If you are able to support these teachings, please do so as your heart moves you. (NOTE: You can donate even if you are “attending” a practice that is not designated as a “Common Ground Meditation Center” practice, or you can purchase class(es). Donations are tax deductible; class purchases are not necessarily deductible.)

 

“‘Bhikkhus, I could tell you in many ways about the animal kingdom, so much so that it is hard to find a simile for the suffering in the animal kingdom. Suppose a man threw into the sea a yoke with one hole in it, and the east wind carried it to the west, and the west wind carried it to the east, and the north wind carried it to the south, and the south wind carried it to the north. Suppose there were a blind turtle that came up once at the end of each century. What do you think, bhikkhus [monks]? Would that blind turtle put his neck into that yoke with one hole in it?’

Bhikkhus: ‘He might, venerable sir, sometime or other at the end of a long period.’

 

‘Bhikkhus, the blind turtle would take less time to put his neck into that yoke with a single hole in it than a fool, once gone to perdition, would take to regain the human state, I say. Why is that? Because there is no practicing of the Dhamma there, no practicing of what is righteous, no doing of what is wholesome, no performance of merit. There mutual devouring prevails, and the slaughter of the weak.’”

 

– quoted from “The Animal Kingdom” in Majjhima Nikāya 129, Balapandita Sutta: Fools and Wise Men

Don’t ask me why, because I can give you a hundred reasons, but I always seem to “mis-remember” a certain Buddhist story. I mix up the details of the story – I have heard that other teachers (greater teachers than me) do the same. In my case, the blind turtle becomes a dolphin who likes to play; another teacher makes the piece of driftwood a golden ring, heavy enough to sink down to the bottom of the sea (only to get churned back up again). Additionally, I have heard others say that the convergence of the ring and the sea creature happens every hundred years, every thousand years, every five billion years, or a kalpa (based on Hindu and/or some Buddhist texts). But, be all that as it may, the purpose of the story doesn’t change: it highlights the odds of being born (or reborn) into a human existence and the preciousness of human life. And, just as the purpose of the story doesn’t change, neither does the driving compulsion to tell the story – even when one mixes up the details.

While we are on the subject of details, take a moment to consider the details of your life. Consider your unique experiences, thoughts, words, deeds, and relationships. Back in 2016, Dr. B. B. Cael, who was then a graduate student in the MIT-WHOI Joint Program (Massachusetts Institute of Technology and The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution), calculated that the probability of a blind sea turtle randomly rising up so that it’s head poked through a hole in a piece of drift wood was 7.2 x 10^-16 and the probability of a human being (who is going to be reincarnated) coming back as another human was 6.5 x 10^-16. Now, all of that is just random – without any consideration to specific details like in which body of water the creature rise or what month or what year. Imagine if you will, the probability of you… or me…or anyone we know actually existing as we do. It is miraculous and magnificent!

When I consider how magnificent and miraculous it all is, it reinforces my belief that we are all here for a purpose: a divine purpose. Or, at the very least, that our lives should have a purpose; that we should live a purpose-driven life.

“Find your struggle, learn your lesson, and then know your purpose.”

 

– a “Monaism” (saying by Mona Miller, as quoted by Seane Corn)

 

Mona Miller was the teacher of one of my teachers, Seane Corn. Like me, like Seane, like pretty much every teacher who regularly guides a  group of people, Mona had things she was known for saying. Her students called those sayings, Monaisms, and the one above reminds me of Marcus Aurelius’ stoic belief that the obstacle is the way. It is also a perfect recipe for being driven and staying driven. After all, we all have struggles, strife, challenges, discomfort, suffering, and disease – and we all want (and deserve) relief from that which ails us. If we take a moment, just a moment, to reflect on what ails us we start to realize four very salient facts:

  1. We are not the only person suffering.
  2. Someone else has, is, and will suffer as we are suffering.
  3. How we deal with our suffering can alleviate suffering or cause more suffering (in ourselves and others).
  4. How we deal with our suffering can inspire others as they deal with their suffering.

If we lay these facts over the Buddha’s “Four Noble Truths” and some of Patanjali’s aphorisms on afflicted/dysfunctional thought-patterns and the nature of suffering, we find that even our smallest goals and desires – the things we think are the most personal to us and our circumstances, in fact, directly and indirectly affect others and their suffering. Everything, as Patanjali points out in Yoga Sūtra 2.18, can bring fulfillment and freedom (from suffering).

 “Sanklapa goes beyond just intention. Sankalpa truly cares for the impact.”

 

Embrace Yoga’s Roots: Courageous Ways to Deepen Your Practice by Susanna Barkataki

 

Our ritual of setting an intention and “dedicating” our practice is similar to the Buddhist tradition of “dedicating of the merit” and is rooted in the fifth niyama (“internal observation”), Īśvarapraņidhāna, which is offering our efforts back to the source. The underlying idea in these practices is the very definition of karma yoga as outlined in The Bhagavad Gita (2.31 – 2.51): that we should do our best and work without desire, because the work we do is our “personal duty in life (one’s sva-dharma).”

On Saturday, we go a little deeper by practicing with a sankalpa. The Sanskrit word can be translated into English as “will,” “determination,” and “(the highest) vow.” However, as Susanna Barkataki points out, there is no English word that encompasses the complete and true meaning. Part of the problem with the English translations is that we don’t have one word for something that simultaneously compels us, fuels us, and motivates us. We don’t have an English word for something that consciously embed so deeply into our fiber that it unconsciously starts determining how we live, think, speak, and act. Even “purpose” has to be “driven.”

Of course, these practices require a certain level of trust, a certain level of faith, or – at the very least – a certain level of hopeful desire that what benefits us will also benefit others. One way I frame this is to think of each of us is being like every hero in every culture’s hero’s journey. Accordingly, our work in the world will result in a boon that benefits the world. This is true whether we look at our life (and life purpose) through the lens of our occupation, vocation, and/or avocation. This is true whether we have all the advantages or all the disadvantages. This is true whether people expect us to succeed or whether we are viewed as the underdog. Either way, how we show up in the world matters, because we matter.

 

“That grain of salt
You talk about
Gets bigger and bigger each day
It’s making a pearl
Inside my heart
With layer and layers of tears
I’d give you this pearl
To save our hearts”

 

– quoted from the song “Grain of Salt” by John Doe

 

I have a lot of favorite metaphors about how we can deal with hardship and challenges. One of my favorites is what happens when an oyster, clam, or other shelled mollusks gets a bit of salt, sand, or debris inside of its shell. Since the mollusk doesn’t have fingers and opposable thumbs it can use to root around and remove the irritating object, it begins to lave the object with its natural secretion. Over and over again, the shell creature coats the object until it is smooth (and iridescent) and no longer irritating. The end result is something we humans often find valuable.

Of course, I’m going to discourage anyone from getting an actual pearl to remind them of this metaphor, because it is (in a practical sense) an imperfect metaphor. While the mollusk finds a non-violent way to end its suffering, the harvesting of the pearl (especially in a commercial sense) usually requires killing the shelled creature. In the case of cultured pearls, someone intentionally places the irritating object in the shell (hence causing suffering) and then kills the mollusk or, if it can be “irritated” again, places it back in the water to go through more suffering. Hence why, when I use the metaphor, I focus more on what the mollusk has to teach us than what we teach ourselves.

It is, however, important to remember that we are teaching ourselves. In other words, we are teaching each other. The way we think, speak, act, and live our lives is a lesson to others – and especially to the children around us. I know there are a lot of celebrities who consistently proclaim that they are not role models. Yet, each of us is a living example; each of us is modeling behavior – and the children around us are watching and learning. They are learning from their parents, grandparents, their teachers, their coaches, their neighbors, their world leaders, and the siblings of all of the above. They are also learning from each other. And what is more important than the words someone tells them is the lived example that they observe.

“Pighla de zanjeerein
[Melt the shackles]

Bana unki shamsheerein
[and make swords out of them]

Kar har maidaan fateh o bandeya
[Win every battlefield, overcome all your limitations/restrictions”]

 

– quoted from the song “Kar Har Maidaan Fateh” by Shreya Ghoshal and Sukhwinder Singh

The 2018 film Sanju is based on the real life story of a Bollywood actor, Sanjay Dutt (portrayed by Ranbir Kapoor). Called “Sanju” by his mother, the actor experienced a series of personal crises intertwined with political crises and a downward spiral that resulted in him dealing with his losses, challenges, and conflicts in the some of the most dysfunctional/afflicted ways possible. He turned to drugs and alcohol, and became addicted – which, of course, led to more suffering. In a song that is featured in the movie, and in the associated video, Manisha Koirala appears as a vision of Nargis, Sanju’s mother, encouraging him to live a better life.

In keeping with the language found in many sacred texts from Asia, the song, “Kar Har Maidaan Fateh” refers to one’s struggles, challenges, and suffering as “shackles” or “chains.” The song instructs one to turn the very things that could defeat us into something that can help us overcome our struggles and win our personal battles. It speaks of the power of determination so strong that it overcomes bad luck; climbing onto “clouds of adversity” and grabbing “the collar of the difficult tough times – all in order to become special and “separate from the ordinary crowd.” The song specifically refers to “swords” (and even what can be accomplished with a “broken sword”), but consider other tools that one can use to overcome adversity.

Remember, Edward Bulwer-Lytton said,The pen is mightier than the sword.” Remember the power of a sharp mind and what happens when you make your mind up to do something. Remember, too, that once a lesson is learned it continues to serve.

“If all the world is a classroom and every day of life is a lesson, then certainly your profession and workplace are included.

 

After all, He has unlimited ways to provide your livelihood, but He chose to direct you to this way of life.

What sparks of divine wisdom await you here?”

 

– quoted from Hayom Yom*, 9 Iyar

 

(*lit. “From Day to Day”); an anthology of aphorisms and customs, arranged according to the days of the year, assembled from the talks and letters of Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch (1880-1950), sixth Lubavitch Rebbe; compiled by Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, seventh Lubavitch Rebbe. “Iyar” is the eighth month of the civil year and the second month of the Jewish religious year, based on the Hebrew calendar.

 

Please join me today (Monday, May 16th) at 5:30 PM for a 75-minute virtual yoga practice on Zoom. Use the link from the “Class Schedules” calendar if you run into any problems checking into the class. Give yourself extra time to log in if you have not upgraded to Zoom 5.0. You can request an audio recording of this practice via a comment below.

There is no playlist for the Common Ground Meditation Center practice.

The playlist for Sunday (05/16/2021) is available on YouTube and Spotify.

 

“Yo soy yo y mi circunstancia, y si no la salvo a ella no me salvo yo.”

[“I am I and my circumstance, and if I don’t save it I don’t save myself.”]

 

 

— quoted from Meditaciones del Quijote [Don Quixote Mediations] by José Ortega y Gasset

 

Thank you to everyone who supported the 9th annual Kiss My Asana yogathon. Both Mind Body Solutions and I surpassed our goals (Woohooo!!!) thanks to everyone’s generosity. As always, I am grateful for everyone that did yoga, shared yoga, and helped others.

“Dikhla de zinda hai tu
[Show to everyone that you are still alive]

Baaqi hai tujhme hausla
[and there is courage left in you…]”

 

“Tooti shamsheerein toh kya
[So what if your sword is broken]

Tooti shamsheeron se hee
[Even with this broken sword]

Kar har maidan fateh
[Win all the battlefields…]”

 

“Teri koshishein hee kaamyaab hongi
[your attempts, efforts will be successful]

Jab teri ye zidd aag hogi
[when your insistence, attempts would turn into a burning desire]

Phoonk de na-umeediyan, na-umeediyan
[Burn down all the hopeless, negativeness…]”

 

– quoted from the song “Kar Har Maidaan Fateh” by Shreya Ghoshal and Sukhwinder Singh (with English translations)

 

Victory in every situation

### ¡Jai Jai Guru Dev! Victory to the Big Mind! ###

 

 

 

One More Kiss (My Asana)! April 30, 2022

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in 7-Day Challenge, Books, Changing Perspectives, Donate, Fitness, Gratitude, Healing Stories, Health, Hope, Karma Yoga, Life, Mantra, One Hoop, Pain, Science, Suffering, Tragedy, Volunteer, Wisdom, Yoga.
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Happy Riḍván!” to those celebrating the “the Most Great Festival.” “Ramadān Mubarak, Blessed Ramadān!” to anyone observing the holy month of Ramadān. Many blessings to all, and especially to those celebrating or observing Eastertide or Counting the Omer! 

The links in this particular post will take you outside of my blog. Quick Update: Thanks to all of you, I have helped raise 1% of the yogathon’s overall goal! If a few more people donate, I could double my personal goal and help raise 2% of the overall goal. Please consider donating today! Donations will be accepted until midnight on March 15, 2022.

Introducing…the top of the head (part of the seventh Chakra).

*

I’m excited to once again participate in the Kiss My Asana yogathon, which is Mind Body Solutions‘ biggest fundraiser and a way to spread the message that a greater connection between mind and body can help all of us live with improved comfort and ease, no matter our condition, age, or ability.

I started Joyfully participating in the 2014 yogathon because I believe in the transformative, healing, and joyful experience of yoga. I also believe there is a practice for every mind/body/spirit – every veteran, every person with disability, every survivor of sexual assault and other trauma, every elderly person, every person living with chronic pain, every person with a terminal illness – and Mind Body Solutions is helping people find their practice!

Mind Body Solutions’ mission and message reach all walks of life – people living with disabilities, terminal illness, chronic pain, trauma, and PTSD – to name a few. Best known for their Adaptive Yoga Program, which provides adapted yoga opportunities for people around the globe. MBS also offers training and workshops for yoga teachers, healthcare professionals, and caregivers (so they can share this work in their communities, too).

Each year, in addition to hosting a fundraising page and making my personal donation, I offer a blog post and/or a YouTube post – sometimes even a whole practice. This year, I am making videos highlighting different parts of our bodies and, in doing so, different parts of our lived experience. Many more connections exist than the ones I’m highlighting. So, keep in mind that these videos – like the classes I lead – are just the tip of the iceberg.

What happens at Mind Body Solutions is the whole enchilada!

If you have two more minutes to spare, I’d recommend you also check out the Mind Body Solutions video (below) so you can see exactly how your donation will help! Thank you for taking the time and for showing your support – and don’t forget to forward this to anyone who you think might want to donate or join!

Mind Body Solutions: Come Find Us

*

### ( ) ###

Please Keep Kiss(ing) My Asana! April 29, 2022

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in 7-Day Challenge, Books, Changing Perspectives, Donate, Fitness, Gratitude, Healing Stories, Health, Hope, Karma Yoga, Life, Mantra, One Hoop, Pain, Science, Suffering, Tragedy, Volunteer, Wisdom, Yoga.
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Happy Riḍván!” to those celebrating the “the Most Great Festival.” “Ramadān Mubarak, Blessed Ramadān!” to anyone observing the holy month of Ramadān. Many blessings to all, and especially to those celebrating or observing Eastertide or Counting the Omer! 

The links in this particular post will take you outside of my blog. Quick Update: Thanks to all of you, I have helped raise 1% of the yogathon’s overall goal! If a few more people donate, I could double my personal goal and help raise 2% of the overall goal. Please consider donating today!

Introducing…the center eye (part of the sixth Chakra).

*

I’m excited to once again participate in the Kiss My Asana yogathon, which is Mind Body Solutions‘ biggest fundraiser and a way to spread the message that a greater connection between mind and body can help all of us live with improved comfort and ease, no matter our condition, age, or ability.

I started Joyfully participating in the 2014 yogathon because I believe in the transformative, healing, and joyful experience of yoga. I also believe there is a practice for every mind/body/spirit – every veteran, every person with disability, every survivor of sexual assault and other trauma, every elderly person, every person living with chronic pain, every person with a terminal illness – and Mind Body Solutions is helping people find their practice!

Mind Body Solutions’ mission and message reach all walks of life – people living with disabilities, terminal illness, chronic pain, trauma, and PTSD – to name a few. Best known for their Adaptive Yoga Program, which provides adapted yoga opportunities for people around the globe. MBS also offers training and workshops for yoga teachers, healthcare professionals, and caregivers (so they can share this work in their communities, too).

Each year, in addition to hosting a fundraising page and making my personal donation, I offer a blog post and/or a YouTube post – sometimes even a whole practice. This year, I am making videos highlighting different parts of our bodies and, in doing so, different parts of our lived experience. Many more connections exist than the ones I’m highlighting. So, keep in mind that these videos – like the classes I lead – are just the tip of the iceberg.

What happens at Mind Body Solutions is the whole enchilada!

If you have two more minutes to spare, I’d recommend you also check out the Mind Body Solutions video (below) so you can see exactly how your donation will help! Thank you for taking the time and for showing your support – and don’t forget to forward this to anyone who you think might want to donate or join!

Mind Body Solutions: Come Find Us

*

### OM OM OM ###

Wow, Y’all Are Really Kiss(ing) My Asana! (And I’m So Grateful) April 28, 2022

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in 7-Day Challenge, Books, Changing Perspectives, Donate, Fitness, Gratitude, Healing Stories, Health, Hope, Karma Yoga, Life, Mantra, One Hoop, Pain, Science, Suffering, Tragedy, Volunteer, Wisdom, Yoga.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Happy Riḍván!” to those celebrating the “the Most Great Festival.” “Ramadān Mubarak, Blessed Ramadān!” to anyone observing the holy month of Ramadān. Many blessings to all, and especially to those celebrating or observing Eastertide or Counting the Omer! 

The links in this particular post will take you outside of my blog. Please consider donating today!

Introducing…this space inside your throat (part of the fifth Chakra).

*

I’m excited to once again participate in the Kiss My Asana yogathon, which is Mind Body Solutions‘ biggest fundraiser and a way to spread the message that a greater connection between mind and body can help all of us live with improved comfort and ease, no matter our condition, age, or ability.

I started Joyfully participating in the 2014 yogathon because I believe in the transformative, healing, and joyful experience of yoga. I also believe there is a practice for every mind/body/spirit – every veteran, every person with disability, every survivor of sexual assault and other trauma, every elderly person, every person living with chronic pain, every person with a terminal illness – and Mind Body Solutions is helping people find their practice!

Mind Body Solutions’ mission and message reach all walks of life – people living with disabilities, terminal illness, chronic pain, trauma, and PTSD – to name a few. Best known for their Adaptive Yoga Program, which provides adapted yoga opportunities for people around the globe. MBS also offers training and workshops for yoga teachers, healthcare professionals, and caregivers (so they can share this work in their communities, too).

Each year, in addition to hosting a fundraising page and making my personal donation, I offer a blog post and/or a YouTube post – sometimes even a whole practice. This year, I am making videos highlighting different parts of our bodies and, in doing so, different parts of our lived experience. Many more connections exist than the ones I’m highlighting. So, keep in mind that these videos – like the classes I lead – are just the tip of the iceberg.

What happens at Mind Body Solutions is the whole enchilada!

If you have two more minutes to spare, I’d recommend you also check out the Mind Body Solutions video (below) so you can see exactly how your donation will help! Thank you for taking the time and for showing your support – and don’t forget to forward this to anyone who you think might want to donate or join!

Mind Body Solutions: Come Find Us

*

### HAM HAM HAM ###

I Love It So Much When People Kiss My Asana! April 27, 2022

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in 7-Day Challenge, Books, Changing Perspectives, Donate, Fitness, Gratitude, Healing Stories, Health, Hope, Karma Yoga, Life, One Hoop, Pain, Science, Suffering, Tragedy, Volunteer, Wisdom, Yoga.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

Happy Riḍván!” to those celebrating the “the Most Great Festival.” “Ramadān Mubarak, Blessed Ramadān!” to anyone observing the holy month of Ramadān. Many blessings to all, and especially to those celebrating or observing Eastertide or Counting the Omer! 

The links in this particular post will take you outside of my blog. Please consider donating today!

Introducing…the literal space around the heart (part of the fourth Chakra).

*

I’m excited to once again participate in the Kiss My Asana yogathon, which is Mind Body Solutions‘ biggest fundraiser and a way to spread the message that a greater connection between mind and body can help all of us live with improved comfort and ease, no matter our condition, age, or ability.

I started Joyfully participating in the 2014 yogathon because I believe in the transformative, healing, and joyful experience of yoga. I also believe there is a practice for every mind/body/spirit – every veteran, every person with disability, every survivor of sexual assault and other trauma, every elderly person, every person living with chronic pain, every person with a terminal illness – and Mind Body Solutions is helping people find their practice!

Mind Body Solutions’ mission and message reach all walks of life – people living with disabilities, terminal illness, chronic pain, trauma, and PTSD – to name a few. Best known for their Adaptive Yoga Program, which provides adapted yoga opportunities for people around the globe. MBS also offers training and workshops for yoga teachers, healthcare professionals, and caregivers (so they can share this work in their communities, too).

Each year, in addition to hosting a fundraising page and making my personal donation, I offer a blog post and/or a YouTube post – sometimes even a whole practice. This year, I am making videos highlighting different parts of our bodies and, in doing so, different parts of our lived experience. Many more connections exist than the ones I’m highlighting. So, keep in mind that these videos – like the classes I lead – are just the tip of the iceberg.

What happens at Mind Body Solutions is the whole enchilada!

If you have two more minutes to spare, I’d recommend you also check out the Mind Body Solutions video (below) so you can see exactly how your donation will help! Thank you for taking the time and for showing your support – and don’t forget to forward this to anyone who you think might want to donate or join!

Mind Body Solutions: Come Find Us

*

### YAM YAM YAM ###

It Would Mean A Lot If You Kiss(ed) My Asana! April 26, 2022

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in 7-Day Challenge, Books, Changing Perspectives, Donate, Fitness, Gratitude, Healing Stories, Health, Hope, Karma Yoga, Life, One Hoop, Pain, Science, Suffering, Tragedy, Volunteer, Wisdom, Yoga.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

“Happy Riḍván!” to those celebrating the “the Most Great Festival.” “Ramadān Mubarak, Blessed Ramadān!” to anyone observing the holy month of Ramadān. Many blessings to all, and especially to those celebrating or observing Eastertide or Counting the Omer! 

The links in this particular post will take you outside of my blog. Please consider donating today!

Introducing…the back of the belly (part of the third Chakra).

*

I’m excited to once again participate in the Kiss My Asana yogathon, which is Mind Body Solutions‘ biggest fundraiser and a way to spread the message that a greater connection between mind and body can help all of us live with improved comfort and ease, no matter our condition, age, or ability.

I started Joyfully participating in the 2014 yogathon because I believe in the transformative, healing, and joyful experience of yoga. I also believe there is a practice for every mind/body/spirit – every veteran, every person with disability, every survivor of sexual assault and other trauma, every elderly person, every person living with chronic pain, every person with a terminal illness – and Mind Body Solutions is helping people find their practice!

Mind Body Solutions’ mission and message reach all walks of life – people living with disabilities, terminal illness, chronic pain, trauma, and PTSD – to name a few. Best known for their Adaptive Yoga Program, which provides adapted yoga opportunities for people around the globe. MBS also offers training and workshops for yoga teachers, healthcare professionals, and caregivers (so they can share this work in their communities, too).

Each year, in addition to hosting a fundraising page and making my personal donation, I offer a blog post and/or a YouTube post – sometimes even a whole practice. This year, I am making videos highlighting different parts of our bodies and, in doing so, different parts of our lived experience. Many more connections exist than the ones I’m highlighting. So, keep in mind that these videos – like the classes I lead – are just the tip of the iceberg.

What happens at Mind Body Solutions is the whole enchilada!

If you have two more minutes to spare, I’d recommend you also check out the Mind Body Solutions video (below) so you can see exactly how your donation will help! Thank you for taking the time and for showing your support – and don’t forget to forward this to anyone who you think might want to donate or join!

Mind Body Solutions: Come Find Us

*

### RAM RAM RAM ###

I Really Need You to (Please) Kiss My Asana! April 24, 2022

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in 7-Day Challenge, Books, Changing Perspectives, Donate, Fitness, Gratitude, Healing Stories, Health, Hope, Karma Yoga, Life, One Hoop, Pain, Science, Suffering, Tragedy, Volunteer, Wisdom, Yoga.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
add a comment

“Happy Riḍván!” to those celebrating the “the Most Great Festival.” “Ramadān Mubarak, Blessed Ramadān!” to anyone observing the holy month of Ramadān. Many blessings to all, and especially to those celebrating or observing Orthodox Easter, the Second Sunday of Easter, and/or Counting the Omer! 

The links in this particular post will take you outside of my blog. Please consider donating today!

Next up, the hips (part of the second Chakra).

*

I’m excited to once again participate in the Kiss My Asana yogathon, which is Mind Body Solutions‘ biggest fundraiser and a way to spread the message that a greater connection between mind and body can help all of us live with improved comfort and ease, no matter our condition, age, or ability.

I started Joyfully participating in the 2014 yogathon because I believe in the transformative, healing, and joyful experience of yoga. I also believe there is a practice for every mind/body/spirit – every veteran, every person with disability, every survivor of sexual assault and other trauma, every elderly person, every person living with chronic pain, every person with a terminal illness – and Mind Body Solutions is helping people find their practice!

Mind Body Solutions’ mission and message reach all walks of life – people living with disabilities, terminal illness, chronic pain, trauma, and PTSD – to name a few. Best known for their Adaptive Yoga Program, which provides adapted yoga opportunities for people around the globe. MBS also offers training and workshops for yoga teachers, healthcare professionals, and caregivers (so they can share this work in their communities, too).

Each year, in addition to hosting a fundraising page and making my personal donation, I offer a blog post and/or a YouTube post – sometimes even a whole practice. This year, I am making videos highlighting different parts of our bodies and, in doing so, different parts of our lived experience. Many more connections exist than the ones I’m highlighting. So, keep in mind that these videos – like the classes I lead – are just the tip of the iceberg.

What happens at Mind Body Solutions is the whole enchilada!

If you have two more minutes to spare, I’d recommend you also check out the Mind Body Solutions video (below) so you can see exactly how your donation will help! Thank you for taking the time and for showing your support – and don’t forget to forward this to anyone who you think might want to donate or join!

Mind Body Solutions: Come Find Us

*

### VAM VAM VAM ###

It’s Time to Kiss My Asana, again! April 23, 2022

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in 7-Day Challenge, Books, Changing Perspectives, Donate, Fitness, Gratitude, Healing Stories, Health, Hope, Karma Yoga, Life, One Hoop, Pain, Science, Suffering, Tragedy, Volunteer, Wisdom, Yoga.
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“Chag Sameach!” “Happy Festival!” to anyone celebrating Passover. “Ramadān Mubarak, Blessed Ramadān!” to anyone who was observing the holy month of Ramadān. Many blessings to all, and especially to those celebrating or observing Lazarus Saturday, Easter Week, Counting the Omer, and/or Riḍván! 

The links in this particular post will take you outside of my blog. Please consider donating today!

I’m excited to once again participate in the Kiss My Asana yogathon, which is Mind Body Solutions‘ biggest fundraiser and a way to spread the message that a greater connection between mind and body can help all of us live with improved comfort and ease, no matter our condition, age, or ability.

I started Joyfully participating in the 2014 yogathon because I believe in the transformative, healing, and joyful experience of yoga. I also believe there is a practice for every mind/body/spirit – every veteran, every person with disability, every survivor of sexual assault and other trauma, every elderly person, every person living with chronic pain, every person with a terminal illness – and Mind Body Solutions is helping people find their practice!

Mind Body Solutions’ mission and message reach all walks of life – people living with disabilities, terminal illness, chronic pain, trauma, and PTSD – to name a few. Best known for their Adaptive Yoga Program, which provides adapted yoga opportunities for people around the globe. MBS also offers training and workshops for yoga teachers, healthcare professionals, and caregivers (so they can share this work in their communities, too).

Each year, in addition to hosting a fundraising page and making my personal donation, I offer a blog post and/or a YouTube post – sometimes even a whole practice. This year, I am making videos highlighting different parts of our bodies and, in doing so, different parts of our lived experience. Many more connections exist than the ones I’m highlighting. So, keep in mind that these videos – like the classes I lead – are just the tip of the iceberg.

What happens at Mind Body Solutions is the whole enchilada!

First up, the feet (part of the first Chakra).

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If you have two minutes to spare, I’d recommend you also check out the Mind Body Solutions video (below) so you can see exactly how your donation will help! Thank you for taking the time and for showing your support – and don’t forget to forward this to anyone who you think might want to donate or join!

Mind Body Solutions: Come Find Us

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### LAM LAM LAM ###

The Power of Being Ready to Fulfill Your Purpose (an expanded and “renewed” post-practice post) April 12, 2022

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in "Impossible" People, Books, Buddhism, Changing Perspectives, Dharma, Faith, Fitness, Food, Gratitude, Healing Stories, Health, Hope, Lent, Life, Meditation, Men, Minneapolis, Minnesota, Music, Mysticism, Peace, Philosophy, Poetry, Religion, Science, Suffering, Twin Cities, Vairagya, Wisdom, Women, Writing, Yoga.
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“Ramadān Mubarak, Blessed Ramadān!” to anyone who was observing the holy month of Ramadān. Many blessings to all, and especially to those celebrating or observing Holy Week or Great Lent!

This post-practice post for Monday, April 11th. Some of the following appeared in posts from 2019 and 2020, but there are quite a few new bits for some fresh context. You can request an audio recording of Monday’s practice via a comment below or (for a slightly faster reply) you can email me at myra (at) ajoyfulpractice.com.

In the spirit of generosity (“dana”), the Zoom classes, recordings, and blog posts are freely given and freely received. If you are able to support these teachings, please do so as your heart moves you. (NOTE: You can donate even if you are “attending” a practice that is not designated as a “Common Ground Meditation Center” practice, or you can purchase class(es). Donations are tax deductible; class purchases are not necessarily deductible.)

Check out the “Class Schedules” calendar for upcoming classes.

“One’s personal duty in life (one’s sva-dharma) should be viewed as one’s highest responsibility to his or her highest Self, the Atma. This ultrahigh level of duty carries with it the requirement that one never does anything that is contrary to this True Self Within. And even if you consider your sva-dharma more narrowly from the standpoint of being true to your profession, you should not hesitate to fight. For a warrior, war against evil, greed, cruelty, hate, and jealousy is the highest duty.”

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– Krishna speaking to Arjuna (2.31) in The Bhagavad Gita: A Walkthrough for Westerners by Jack Hawley

Sacred texts from a variety of different cultures, tell us that everyone has a purpose. However, even if you don’t believe the old adage, science has shown that people who live a purpose driven life have better physical and mental health and stronger resilience than their peers. It’s a bit of a cycle: we need our mind-body-spirit to fulfill a purpose and fulfilling the purpose strengthens our mind-body-spirit so that we are better equipped to fulfill the purpose.

Sometimes, however, we do things – or don’t do things – that sap our energy and drag us down. Sometimes other people’s opinions about what we’re doing (or not doing) can also be like those things we do – or don’t do – that sap our energy and drag us down. If our mind-bodies are temples, then the things that sap our energy are like thieves in the temple. Thieves can be eating the wrong foods; drinking too much of the wrong beverages and/or not drinking enough water; not resting; not exercising; partaking in illicit drugs; not managing stress; and/or being surrounded by negative opinions. Doesn’t matter what they are though; at some point we have to throw the thieves out of the temple in order to restore the temple to its original purpose.

“Don’t drink, don’t smoke, what do you do?
Don’t drink, don’t smoke, what do you do?
Subtle innuendos follow
There must be something inside”

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– quoted from the song “Goody Two Shoes” by Adam Ant (or Adam and the Ants)

Some of y’all may be thinking, “Aren’t you like the embodiment of that Adam Ant song?” Well, sometimes I do feel like that. And, yes, I do a lot of yoga and meditation with an emphasis on letting things go that no longer serve me. That doesn’t mean, however, that other people’s opinions never affect me. It doesn’t mean that I don’t ever internalize external judgement or spend way too much time and energy justifying my existence and/or presence in certain spaces.

Neither does it mean that I don’t have my vices. I have a bit of a sweet tooth (cue the laughter from my friends) and while I endeavor to stick to really good quality chocolate, or pastries without a lot of preservatives, I have been known – not often, but occasionally – to grab what’s handy. And then, the suffering ensues. Because, as much as I love it, processed sugar is not our friend and when you mix it with a bunch of additives it might as well be one of the deadlier vices.

Years ago, on one of my busiest days, I was feeling lethargic, hungry, and a little spacey, but I still had one more class to teach. Rather than choose wisely and do something I knew would be helpful, but would take a bit of time, I went for the quick fix: chocolate, but not the good kind. One of the lifeguards at the Blaisdell Y saw me pull my poor choice out of the vending machine and asked if my students knew I ate stuff like that. I shrugged and said I was only going to eat half. Needless to say, I ate it all. While I felt “better” in the short term, the next morning I woke up feeling awful. I felt like I had thieves in my personal temple.

“And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,” 

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“And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.” 

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 – quoted from The Gospel According to Matthew (21:12 – 13, KJV)

This week is Passion Week or Holy Week in the Roman Catholic and Western Christian traditions. Some say the significant stuff begins with Saturday, although I’ll save the story for another day; others consider Palm Sunday as the beginning of one of the holiest weeks in the Western Christian tradition. Either way, Passion Monday, or Holy Monday, is the last Monday of Lent, which is a period of fasting and prayer within the aforementioned traditions. Part of the Passion Week or Holy Week observation is remembering the stories and parables associated with the last week of Jesus’ life. The story I most closely associate with this day is the story of Jesus throwing the thieves out of the temple and then having his authority questioned.

According to the New Testament Gospels, Jesus was very clear about his purpose as he entered the last week of his life. He understood that there would be suffering (hence, the passion), trials, tribulation, and betrayal, and joy. He knew he would be tested and tempted (yet another passion/suffering). It is unclear if he knew how quickly the suffering will begin, but suffice it to say, it was immediate. When he returned to Jerusalem for Passover, he found the Temple of Jerusalem had been turned into a defacto market place. All four (4) canonical gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) state that Jesus ran the livestock and the merchants out, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the dove sellers. He then began to heal the sick and to teach, thus restoring the temple to its original purpose.

“‘People who eat too much or too little or who sleep too much or too little will not succeed in meditation. Eat only food that does not heat up the body or excite the mind. When you balance and regulate your habits of eating, sleeping, working, and playing, then meditation dissolves sorrow and destroys mental pain.’

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– Krishna speaking to Arjuna (6.16 – 6.17) in The Bhagavad Gita: A Walkthrough for Westerners by Jack Hawley

When we don’t treat our mind-bodies as respected temples, we suffer and are sometimes not able to do the things we need and want to do. Even if you’re getting some exercise, resting, and drinking a lot of water, the very nature of the last two years – extra sitting around, lack of routine, poor eating choices, stress, and isolation – means that all (or most) of us are out of balance. When we get out of balance, we need more of something to get back into balance. Sometimes we need more rest, sometimes more water, sometimes more movement. Sometimes we need someone, like that Blaisdell lifeguard, to gently and kindly remind us what we’re doing – or not doing – is going to throw us out of balance. Other times, we just need them to quietly be present and we sort ourselves out. (Just for the record, that lifeguard did that for me too – and on the very next day no less!)

I will often refer to the fact that our bodies are mostly water as a reason why movement feels good. We are meant to flow and slosh all that salty water around a little. It’s a great visual, and it’s true on a certain level. However, there are even more scientific reasons why it’s good to stay active. One of those reasons is our lymphatic system, which is a vital part of our immune system.

Our lymphatic system helps keep us healthy by providing proteins and other nutrients to healthy cells, while simultaneously brushing away dead, damaged, and infected cells. It also maintains the balance of fluid between the blood and tissues, as well as aiding in the absorption of fats and fat-soluble nutrients. Unlike the cardiovascular system, however, the lymphatic system does not have its own pump. If we want lymph to bring nutrients to healthy cells and also brush/rinse away dead or damaged cells, we have to move our bodies. Any kind of movement is helpful, especially if it engages the whole body. Most physical practices of yoga engage and move your whole body in a very systematic way. So, you could say that the physical practice of yoga almost always has an element of detoxification. There are, however, certain poses and sequences that are considered detoxifying in nature.

Holy Monday, or Passion Monday, is one of the days when I suggest a “detox flow” that involves good amount of muscle engagement – to get the lymph flowing – and a fair amount of twists. In some ancient medicines and philosophies, discomfort and disease is associated with blocked or stagnate energy and so the movement is also a way to unblock the energy. The twists, like many of the other poses in the sequence, have the additional benefit of creating space by helping us loosen up tension we may not even realize we are holding and also offering a gentle massage to the abdominal cavity and low back. But, there’s another twist to the twists. Energetically speaking, with regard to yoga, the twists engage our third chakra (or “wheel’), which is related to our sense of self, our self-esteem, our personality, and how we see ourselves in the world. This is the exact area you want strengthened (or opened) when someone is questioning your authority to do what you do.

“And Jesus answered and said unto them, I also will ask you one thing, which if ye tell me, I in like wise will tell you by what authority I do these things.”

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“The baptism of John, whence was it? from heaven, or of men? And they reasoned with themselves, saying, If we shall say, From heaven; he will say unto us, Why did ye not then believe him?” 

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“And they answered Jesus, and said, We cannot tell. And he said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.”

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– quoted from The Gospel According to Matthew (21:24 – 26, KJV)

According to the gospels, children praised Jesus and this, along with everything else, riled up the establishment. In three (3) of the New Testament Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) several groups of the establishment questioned Jesus’ authority and his views on taxes. First he was asked, “By what authority are you doing these things?” To which, Jesus asked his own question (see above) regarding the authority of the then wildly popular John the Baptist. Of course, this was a tricky question for the elders; because, if they said that John the Baptist’s authority came from God, well then so did Jesus’s and therefore he was unquestionable. If, however, they said that Jesus’s cousin was empowered only by the people, well, the people might revolt. In that moment, they could not answer.

Later, in another attempt to trap Jesus, the elders asked him if the Jewish people should pay taxes to the Roman Empire. He asked them to show him a coin suitable for payment and, when they presented a coin with a Roman face on the front – specifically, Caesar’s face – Jesus said, “’Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s’.” (Matthew 22:21)

“Excuse me, do you work here?”

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– a person who thought I worked at a garden story because “you’re wearing a fanny pack,” even though none of the employees (wearing branded clothing) wore a fanny pack

In his book Deviate: The Science of Seeing Differently, and also in many of his talks and lectures, the neuroscientist Beau Lotto points out that “We don’t see reality – we only see what was useful to see in the past. But the nature of the brain’s delusional past is this: The past that determines how you see isn’t just constituted by your lived perceptions but by your imagined ones as well. As such, you can influence what you see in the future just by thinking.” This idea is very much in keeping with what Patanjali outlined in the Yoga Sūtras and is why someone in a garden shop thought I worked there. It’s also why so many people in Minnesota were surprised when they walked in a studio (or a rooftop) and discovered the yoga teacher of the day looked like me. Sometimes such reactions were funny to me, but they were also exhausting. Even more ironic, exhausting, and heartbreaking, when you know the historical roots of yoga, was when people would question the authority of a brown-skinned man who was teaching yoga. After all, yoga – like Buddhism – started in a time and place where all (official) teachers were male and brown-skinned.

Of course, the world changes. It’s constantly changing. The lived reality of these ancient practices is not, necessarily, the modern experience. So, we are in the habit – in this country, at least – of questioning anything we perceive as different from the status quo. This questioning, however, extends beyond expectations around gender roles and how we understand someone’s role based on race; it also bumps us up against are own biases (unconscious or otherwise) about weight, height, class, age, and ability.

All of the aforementioned biases (and even those I did not mention) are why practices like meditation, self-study, and discernment are so instrumental to our individual and collective progression and evolution. They are also part of the reason I offer biographic stories as well as religious stories as a focal point for self-study – even to people who may not know about or believe in a particular system. By learning about the world, we learn about ourselves. By turning inward, we confront our biases and open up to the possibility of seeing things differently. We start to think differently. Changing our perceptions and our understanding of our past means that we open up to the possibility of seeing a different future – maybe, even, a more inclusive reality.

Yoga Sutra 2.20: draşțā dŗśimātrah śuddho’pi pratyayānupaśyah

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– “The Seer is the pure power of seeing, yet it sees only what the mind/intellect shows it.”

There is no playlist for the Common Ground practice.

Here is something I played on that never-to-be-forgotten Holy Monday after I ate that aforementioned giant chocolate bar.

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Lent and Great Lent are based on Easter, which is a moveable feast in all Christian traditions and, therefore, occurs on different dates on the Gregorian calendar. I did not really incorporate the birthdays (or poetry) of Misuzo Kaneko (b. 04/11/1903) and Mark Strand (b. 04/11/1934) into this years practice. You can click here for the 2018 post and here for the 2019 post, if you are interested in their lives and poetry.

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“I had come to understand that yoga has never been about the stretch; it’s always been about the reach. And if I could use my reach to bring yoga’s healing powers to people everywhere and my influence to raise awareness and funds for social causes that alleviate suffering and separation, then I was all in.”

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– quoted from Revolution of the Soul: Awaken to Love Through Raw Truth, Radical Healing, and Conscious Action by Seane Corn

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### Get Your Mind Clean, And The Rest Will Follow (to paraphrase En Vogue) ###

Ways and Means (mostly the music) February 19, 2022

Posted by ajoyfulpractice in Karma, Life, Mantra, Meditation, Music, Philosophy, Science, Swami Vivekananda, Wisdom, Yoga.
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“In India there was a sect called the Râsâyanas. Their idea was that ideality, knowledge, spirituality, and religion were all very right, but that the body was the only instrument by which to attain to all these. If the body came to an end every now and again, it would take so much more time to attain to the goal. For instance, a man wants to practice Yoga, or wants to become spiritual. Before he has advanced very far he dies. Then he takes another body and begins again, then dies, and so on. In this way much time will be lost in dying and being born again. If the body could be made strong and perfect, so that it would get rid of birth and death, we should have so much more time to become spiritual. So these Rasayanas say, first make the body very strong. They claim that this body can be made immortal. Their idea is that if the mind manufactures the body, and if it be true that each mind is only one outlet to the infinite energy, there should be no limit to each outlet getting any amount of power from outside. Why is it impossible to keep our bodies all the time? We have to manufacture all the bodies that we ever have. As soon as this body dies, we shall have to manufacture another. If we can do that, why cannot we do it just here and now, without getting out of the present body?”

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Concentration. Concentration is Samâdhi, and that is Yoga proper; that is the principal theme of this science, and it is the highest means. The preceding ones are only secondary, and we cannot attain to the highest through them. Samadhi is the means through which we can gain anything and everything, mental, moral, or spiritual.”

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– quoted from the commentary on Yoga Sūtra 4.1 from Raja Yoga by Swami Vivekananda

Please join me for a 90-minute virtual yoga practice on Zoom today (Saturday, February 19th) at 12:00 PM. Use the link from the “Class Schedules” calendar if you run into any problems checking into the class. You can request an audio recording of this practice via a comment below or by emailing myra (at) ajoyfulpractice.com.

Saturday’s playlist is available on YouTube and Spotify. [Look for “08222021 Fire Thread”]

In the spirit of generosity (“dana”), the Zoom classes, recordings, and blog posts are freely given and freely received. If you are able to support these teachings, please do so as your heart moves you. (NOTE: You can donate even if you are “attending” a practice that is not designated as a “Common Ground Meditation Center” practice, or you can purchase class(es). Donations are tax deductible; class purchases are not necessarily deductible.)

 

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