Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mindbody Fitness is My Saving Grace

A client recently asked me to share something of my journey in Mindbody Fitness. Like many of you reading this right now, I have had somewhat of a close relationship with pain. For me it was an ordinary but unrelenting form of back pain…the lower back sort of thing that makes you hold on when you try to get up from a chair, and squiggle around a lot when you’re forced to sit still. Doctors said "surgery" as I winced and rallied to find any other option. I had heard that yoga could open a person up to some life altering experiences. I also knew that there was a mental component to the practice… I just didn’t think I’d get to the pain-free zone by standing on my head or drinking herbal tea.

Skeptically, I began my journey with a weekend workshop. The first of my teachers was from India and he – was – masterful! As he invited the class to breathe, he said to me (off handedly, mind you) that the breath I was taking was called survival breathing. Yup, just enough to keep me from dropping dead when I took my mind off it!

Now, there’s an interesting thought…it felt reassuring on some level to have the awareness that I had a choice in the matter. It dawned on me that the practice of conscious breathing, ”pranayama” as I later learned, was actually the relationship we have with life energy, and that I had the possibility, indeed the invitation, to become a conscious, awake and aware partner with LIFE itself! At the time, the very idea of such a point of reference was a completely unique experience.

Over time I began to stretch out and breathe in, and as I released resistance, the most amazing thing happened. The pain began to shift, to pulse, to dim, and then fade. It was a quiet transition, a light, gentle breeze, but I recognized it when it happened. I was hooked! That moment of realization changed my life direction. I found the study of infinite possibilities to be inside of…ME! I switched my area of study from mind, to bodymind and set out on a journey learning how to live.

My life work has changed dramatically since that first introduction. I took bold steps into the unknown and created the career of my dreams. I had to let go of people and beliefs that stood in the way. I had to look crazy to some, unrealistic to others. I certainly had to withstand the tests that were planted firmly on the path, but my pain is gone, my children are safe, and in 30 years of practice, I’ve come up with some interesting insights from a life that continues to be well lived.

1. Wherever you go, there you are (you’ve heard this before) and there is nothing more important in life than getting to know yourself.
2. Breath IS life! Take in as much as you can, and let go with ease.
3. Your thoughts are a choice. So is what you do with them.
4. Make time for miracles. It’s always easier to just open the door than to have it beaten down.
5. Listen to your body. Feelings of peace and well-being will show up as health. Negative or conflicted feelings will manifest in “symptoms.”
6. You each have your own unique genius. You can best access its’ wisdom in the quiet moments, so learn to meditate, and listen up!
7. There is no better than Here - just different.
8. Being is different than Having. You can BE whatever you desire when you simply choose to be.
9. Release your need to understand. You can use technology before you understand how the circuits are wired. It’s the same with yoga. Just do it.
10. Yoga is a practice. Practice makes perfect. Without practice, it’s just a thought, so get in gear and begin your practice now.

Till next time, you can visit me and see my creations at www.yokibics.com. All of the Yoga CDs can help you learn to relax, and my Yokibics Mindbody Fitness Video which takes you from simple movements through a complex series is now available on DVD.

May the road rise to meet you, and the wind be always at your back!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Dance Me to the End of Love

I recently fell in love (again) with the voice and presence of Leonard Cohen. Singer/songwriter extraordinaire, he is now in his mid-70's and going back out on tour. New generations of listeners will be introduced to the gritty sound of his kindness. Old memories will return for many. For me, his voice draws me to listen over and over again.

I've been called of late to think, to muse, and to write on the meaning of love. It seemed only fair to add Leonard Cohen to the list of my admirations.

I have come to know some things for certain, and one is that sharing the things we love is worth the effort. I watch as we go about our day somehow thinking that our vote - our say - and our revelations don't matter to others - but they do. How is it that something so longed for can be so difficult for so many to achieve? I decided, like Leo Buscaglia (famed for his "Love 101" college course) and the many mystics before me, that love is a practice.

Like most practices, the doing itself leads to greater ease and expression. You know, the old "practice makes perfect" is also true for love.

Not always as easy as it sounds though, eh?

Perhaps we can increase the scope of our practice by finding ways to share in fleeting moments that might normally seem too small or insignificant to matter.

I guarantee that you will see over time, it is not the moment that is insignificant...it is the assessment you have made of your own value in it.

The world doesn't need to agree with the things you love, but we sure can benefit from the demonstration itself. Nudge the person you're with next time you see a sunset. Become an ambassador for love.

Today my share with you is Leonard Cohen, rising like the Phoenix to be heard again and again. His concert tickets are a little pricy, but for the cost of a click you can hear his Live from The Beacon Theater concert on NPR right now.

Hope you love it!

"The Spirit in Me Salutes the Spirit in You."

Monday, March 2, 2009

Are our Prayers our Promptings?

I was reading a blog recently and the writer mentioned interviewing someone who used the word "promptings" as a noun. He spoke of having promptings, like things to be cared for and responded to - or not - but things nonetheless. He said that the speaker also used the word to communicate within his group.

There was some talk of the value of creating a language of ones own for ones group - in order to bond in understanding through the use and meaning of these terms. This is something groups routinely do (even down to passwords and secret handshakes.)

Given today's world, I've been learning the ins and outs of Twitter, and boy is that a great example of new language that bonds a group. We tweet messages to each other, our tweeps receive them on their PC or cell phone, and we organize it all on our tweetdecks. It's great fun! It's also a meaningful shift in the way we humans communicate.

I've been through this before. As I watch the world slowly becoming more aware, more in tune and more in sync with the language of the "club of new age nuts" that I've long been a part of, my heart feels light and my smile broadens! Who knew that yoga would be all the buzz at the local Y, and that health food and whole grains would be so chic that even garlic-loving Chef Emeril Lagassi would eventually go green with his "bam!".

I began to think about the "promptings" conversation, and in the world of meditators, healers and intuitives, it would immediately be understood that "a prompting" is "an action called for stemming from an insight or intuition."

I once went to see a great yogi, spending quite a bit of time and effort to finally sit in his presence. He looked very young (although he wasn't,) and energetically vital with sweet rosy cheeks and a terrific smile. Speaking of the powerful value of prayer, he was asked if he could have only one prayer what would it be, and he answered immediately:
"let me not measure what I own, nor seek to hoard the riches of the earth,
but give to me instead the ability to create moment by moment
what is actually needed in any situation."
I love this answer!

But boy, talk about a trust walk...and how do you know you're doing OKwith it once you've been bestowed with this special gift?

I think this is the best reason I've seen for a valuable lesson on "promptings."

They come in the quiet.

They demonstrate in peaceful surrender to what is and what can be.

They show you the way - though it may not be your way

They demand that you listen...to something besides yourself that is. Really.

That means learning to get over yourself already, and just follow the leader - the song of your soul - the promptings. Now you're on to something! Listen. And once you hear, really hear, you will know the truth...and then you must act.

No sissy-mary half-baked no-I-cant's allowed. You want to get good at this? Then take action.
Act in kindness. Act on faith. Act with courage, but do act.

Promptings. May we have them aplenty.

Blessings to you today and everyday!

I'd love to hear some of your stories...