Kimi Marin Yoga

Honor limitations. Transcend Boundaries.

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Life’s Most Daring Adventure: Contentment

kimi beach4

The  saying “the grass is always greener on the other side” sums up humankind’s tendency to grasp the external for pleasure, happiness, and fulfillment. Many of us spend our entire lives looking outside of ourselves to find inner peace. As we do this, we  see how other people’s lives and circumstances seem to look better than our own lives.  As a consequence, we begin to believe that happiness is about acquiring more: bigger houses, more clothes, fancier shoes, busier social lives.   Yet, this insatiable quest to buy or acquire the elusive happiness only leads us to a place of discontent.

The second niyama (an attitude we hold toward ourselves) is Santosha or contentment. Santosha is to find happiness and peace in your present life and not to keep searching for something more, something external, to gain security, joy, and contentment.  Life is not about comparing yourself to your friend, your neighbor, or an ideal society declares your life should look.  Life is rich in experiences to aid you on your inward journey of fulfillment…and your fulfillment, your contentment, is the greatest contribution you can give to the world. When you live from a place of contentment, you attract beneficence to you, and find an ease in which to move through the world.

We are often told that life is not a destination but a journey. Santosha wants to be your companion on your life journey. Santosha does not mean that you are always happy with how things because, honestly, life can sometimes suck. But santosha asks that you embrace that time, realizing each moment will change and your perspective, your attitude will make all the difference in handling difficult circumstances. We are not to live looking for happiness but instead to recognize the gifts of the moment and find contentment within. When we spend our days yearning for something else – a different lover, to be single, to be rich, have more clothes, then we are unhappy. We are unhappy because we have come to believe that we need these things to have a sense of worth and happiness.

If you are not content with as aspect of your life – CHANGE IT. Seriously. Listen to your excuses why you cannot be happy. Listen to how many times you say “but,” “should,” or “would” when focusing on your ideal life.  Personally, I would like to write more but… I can come up with a thousand excuses why I do not write – and all of them are legitimate and hold weight. But the ultimate truth is I am too lazy and too afraid to change my habits to start doing what I really want. My challenge is to dig deep, make small changes to start writing. And those small changes lead me to santosha. Even as I write this I feel a sense of calmness and peace. I am not comparing myself to someone else, I am not berating myself, I am living my life as I want to live.

What in your life is not fulfilling you? What excuses are you making? What are your desires? Is anything keeping you from truly enjoying the present life you are in, or are you too busy making excuses about how you don’t have time? Do you tell yourself you are too busy with the kids, school or are broke? Will there ever be a good time? Right now is the only time you have and if you aren’t truly content, if you aren’t truly happy, it is time to sit with yourself and find out what it is you need from you. Being joyful, being happy, is a state of being, a perspective of the world. Alter yours to be filled with light and love and bestow all that wonderfulness and everyone around you. You are a magnificent being, accept your greatness, smile and shine.

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Satya: The Second Yama

This week I touch upon the second yama, Satya or truth. The word Satya comes from Sat which means “being.”  Satya is not only about speaking the truth but on a deeper meaning Satya is the practice of being the truth. Every thought, every word, every action you take is to come from your most authentic, real self. For many of us, our true self is a mystery. We live our life trying to please our ego, please others, and wishing our lives were different. I know that I don’t move always from a place of truth. Honestly, I mainly move from ego and desire. I do this out of habit, fear, and simply being unaware of my thoughts and patterns.

Recently,  I went to a talk at an ashram and the swami speaking reminded each of us that our life is this Now. Every thought, every feeling, everything your senses take in is your life and your reality. Now many of us sit around rushing through life, trying to get things done, trying to please others, trying to get our ego satisfied and the validation that we are a good enough person. Satya says to let all that go, look within and see the truth of your situation. What is the truth of your thoughts? When you strip away all your layers, what is the truth of your motivation? On the most subtle level, what your intention for doing what you are doing?

Gandhi wrote an essay on Truth and said that Truth is God. He said where truth lies so does true knowledge and where there is true knowledge there is bliss. Think about how much better you feel when you make that hard decision that you know is right. To move with Satya is not easy. That is why many of us get in the habit of white lies, not speaking out truths, and not believing in ourselves. As Judith Lasater points out in her article, To Tell the Truth, “the practice of satya is about restraint: about slowing down, filtering, carefully considering our words so that when we choose them, they are in harmony with the first yama, ahimsa.” In my search to understand Satya, I am repeatedly told three questions to ask before speaking: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?

As you go through your day and through your week, stop and ask yourself these three vital questions before you speak and before you act: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?. As you pause to do this, the layers that cover your true intention will be visible. When you peel away the layers of ego, trying to please others, and habitual behaviors, the base of your intention, the truth of your motivation and what you want to convey will be exposed. From this place move forward.

Riding Your Own Current

There is energy all around us: the energy of the sun, the energy it takes to move an object, wasted energy on unrequited love, energy of thoughts (i.e. scattered, constricted, and mental blocks). Yoga is a process to allow for a free flow of energy to move through you. According to Erich Schiffmann, “your body’s ability to function as a clean efficient channel is limited by stiffness, lack of strength, and lack of endurance” (65). As we remove blocks, limit discomfort, heal wounds, release tension, energy flows more freely, we are more at ease and comfortable in our bodies and in our life.

Many of us are ambitious, have dreams and drive. Yet, we learn time again that we cannot force anything to happen. Everything — our relationships, our careers, hobbies, talents, and dreams — take time to grow, develop and mature. I have a quote on my fridge by the Greek sage Epictetus that says “No great thing is created suddenly. There must be time. Give your best and always be kind.” Epictetus believed that we cannot control our external environment, we can only control our actions. For him, happiness was living in accordance to nature, “which means (a) pursuing a course through life intelligently responding to one’s own needs and duties as a sociable human being, but also (b) wholly accepting one’s fate and the fate of the world as coming directly from the divine intelligence which makes the world the best that is possible” (Seddon). We suffer when we try to control what is out of our control and ignore what is within our power to change.

In yoga, as in life, we often force ourselves to go further than comfortable or place our value in terms of what we can accomplish. Our mat is a microcosm of our behavior in the world. What happens on our mat, how we drift, daydream, force, embrace, and breakdown, is how we also react to situations off the mat. Yogi Joel Kramer summed it up when he said “The quality of mind that you bring to yoga is of the utmost importance.” Yoga is not about working to accomplish something, yoga is about being present, to remove the blocks that prevent us from understanding our true nature. Kramer mentions that when we force ourselves into postures, when we move to accomplish something, yoga becomes a series of repetitious exercises with a goal rather that a process of profound transformation.

Instead of forcing yourself into a posture, tune into the subtle energy currents that are moving through your body. In yoga, when we turn into ourselves, become aware of ourselves, we find that our bodies continuously give us feedback.  You can notice where you are tight, in pain, open, and parts or sides you are favoring. More importantly, you can tune into the parts of your body and poses you can control. There are energy lines moving through your body. The energy lines start at your core and move into your limbs. Our center is our pelvis and the “most important line of energy, always, is your spine” (Schiffmann, 67). Each yoga pose consists of at least two energy lines and you must learn to focus on your internal sensations to move energy into parts of your body.

When working with energy lines, work to channel your energy within your limits. There is no forcing or pushing because this will only create more tension. Think about if you were to push against a closed door, all your muscles are engaged you tighten up and the door still won’t budge. You run the risk of injuring yourself rather than opening the door. Become as relaxed as possible and feel your body sink deeper. As muscle tension releases, your body will go deeper into the pose naturally. This surrender to what you can control can be applied into everything  in your life. Follow your breath within and notice your own energy currents. Extend them, relax them, and watch yourself grow at your rhythm. Knowing when to rest, when to expand, and where your limits lie, you will find that most everything will come at a greater ease and your life will be full of more joy.

“Epictetus,” by Keith H. Seddon. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. n.d. Web. January 21, 2013.
Kramer, Joel. Yoga as Self Transformation. Yoga Journal May/June 1980. Web.
Schiffmann, Erich. Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness. New York: Pocket Books, 1996. Print.

The Scarcity Fear

Prosperity_On_RockWeekly Mantra: “I release my belief in scarcity. I release my need to worry. I embrace the grace, peace, and abundance I am”

The other day,  I had coffee with a girlfriend whose business is organizing people’s homes and removing clutter from their lives. I told her that I have a kitchen cupboard so full of stuff that I don’t even open it. She replied that our homes are often reflective of the emotional and mental clutter we store in our bodies. Many of us get so bogged down, so crammed full of baggage that we no longer open up parts of ourselves.

In the fear of scarcity, we hoard. We hoard our emotions, our food, and our friends. We hold on in fear that if we give them away we will have nothing. We panic when we are out of food, low on money, or not successful by society’s definition. In his book The Psychology of Influence of Persuasion, Robert B. Cialdini claims  “…people seem to be more motivated by the thought of losing something than by the thought of gaining something of equal value” (238). We don’t clean out our fridge, cupboards, closets, or hearts because we believe that the fullness makes us feel safe, content, or complete. Yet many of us don’t feel safe, content, or complete.

Global activist Lynne Twist says there are three toxic myths which perpetuate the fear of scarcity:

1) “There isn’t enough”

  • You don’t have enough sleep, not enough sex, exercise or money. This is a very limiting view that forces us to focus on everything we don’t have exacerbating a feeling of inadequacy, helpless, and a culture of blaming – of projecting our circumstances on an outside object. Instead of focusing your attention where there isn’t enough, ask yourself: Where do you have enough? What is satisfying in your life?

2) “More is better”

  • When we believe more is better, we constantly push ourselves to make more, get more, be more. We can always think how great things would be with more sleep, more money, more friends…yet, with the “more is better” attitude we will never be happy. There will always be “more” of something. Instead, find what is perfect in your life as it is now. Where in your life is abundance?

3) “That’s just the way it is”

  • This myth creates feelings of helplessness and hopelessness which lead people to feel resigned to the current situation. Lynne Twist reminds us that this myth ignores the fact that economic and social systems are the way they are because people created them this way. What you have created, you can recreate.

In order to let go of the fear of scarcity, we must understand that collaboration creates prosperity: “The more compassion we generate, the bigger our mind becomes. Since compassion brings joy, it makes us happy” (Mipham 110). Through compassion, giving, opening up ourselves we begin to grow outside our preconceived limits. We can transcend the boundaries we have created. We can open our hearts and our minds. When we act selflessly we are moving with the belief that there is enough, recognizing the abundance already present in our lives, and creating a world that brings more joy into our lives.

References:
Caldini, Robert. B. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. HarpersCollins, 2006. Online.
Mipham, Sakyong. Ruling Your World. New York: Doubleday, 2005. Print.
Twist, Lynne. The Soul of Money. New York: Norton & Co., 2003. Online.

SITES OF INTEREST:
Lynne Twist’s website: www.soulofmoney.org
Click here: A great site explaining the yoga sutras
Article “Deepak Chopra on Abundance: How to Cultivate the Feeling that You Have ‘Enough'”

Softening the Hard Edges

“Practice leads you in the right direction, while non-attachment allows you to continue the inner journey without getting sidetracked into the pains and pleasures along the way” – Swami J

Nohoch Mol, Mexico 2007

Nohoch Mol, Mexico 2007. Afraid of heights, this  climb brought many mental “distractions” to the surface.

In my practice, I am working to soften – to let go of the push of trying so hard. I began this in my asana practice and have found, like most things that start on the mat, to be leaking into different aspects of my life. Maybe you, too, have noticed that what you practice on the mat begins to infiltrate into different aspects of your life. To yield into the poses is to let go of the need to have to do them correctly, or have to be perfect. To yield and soften into the poses, is to trust that I am alright as I am. For each of us, to surrender to the moment and to place trust in the universe can be frightening and difficult.

The word yoga has several different interpretations: to unite, to yoke, to tie the strands of the mind together. In the second sutra, yoga is defined as “the ability to direct the mind exclusively toward an object and sustain that duration without any distraction” (Heart of Yoga, 149). The object is our intention, our sankalpa, our desire or goal. The distractions are life: our sorrows, our joys, whether someone likes us, whether we get positive or negative feedback from a friend, co-worker, boss, or stanger. The distractions are life experiences that we often, mistakenly, wrap our feelings of self-worth around. We are happy when someone likes us and want to hide from the world when someone doesn’t.

Yoga is a way to be completely engaged in the action of your present moment knowing that life experiences are only experiences and not a reflection of your self-value. Yoga teaches us to move steadily in the direction we want to go but without the attachment to our desire or expected outcome. This is the balance between steady effort, abhyasa, and letting go, vairagya.

I am a strong believer in persistent, patience, and consistency. To reach our dreams and goals is not an all or nothing experience but a steady climb that we achieve over time. As we pay attention to our actions, as with move with steady effort, abhyasa, we see our path, where we are going and how to get to our desired end. When we see where we are going, when we take the time to notice the present moment no longer are we caught up with the pains, the joys, the sorrows of each of our experience. We can see embrace our experience as the changing opportunity for growth without attaching our worth to the outcome. This allows us to move without gripping, with detachment, with vairagya – this allows us to soften.

Nohoch Mol at the top — steady effort and letting go

Earth Day

On April 22, 1970 Earth Day officially began. Although I know we should be honoring the earth everyday, and I think a lot of people do. It is like Valentine’s Day — we all know we should be showing love and compssion everyday but sometimes we need a little nudge and reminder.  And I love that our Mother Earth has at least one day for her — we got mother’s day for our biological mom. My mother has a background in Biology, the step-father who raised me was a marine biologist. Together they instilled in me a reverence for nature and an awareness of our natural environment. Because of my extreme fondness of Earth and nature it surprises me that my earliest memory of Earth Day is when I was a teenager.   I grew up in Los Angeles, an urban environment surrounded by lush nature — the National Angeles Forest, the San Gabriel Mountains, the Pacific Ocean, the Santa Monica Mountains, various canyons and in-between pockets of natural habitat. On this particular Earth Day, there were booths set up in the arroyo and there I was in my youth, blue tie-dye shirt, Birkenstock sandles, and my highschool sweetheart by my side — it was a blissful day to see so many people gathered to honor our mother.

Today as the awareness of our Earth, the depletion of resources, and the pollution of water, becomes more widespread, the need for Earth Day, the nudge towards preservation, becomes more apparent. All year long we all contribute in our way: recycling, buying local, bringing bags to the store, not buying plastic but using bulk, etc. And like other “holidays” we go out out of our way to do something to celebrate and I ask, what are you going to do different today to honor the planet you live on? This Earth that gives you food, shelter, clothes and life. One of the best things you can do is rest and in that process allow mother nature to rest and regenerate.  Restore energy back to you and to nature by unplugging from technology for a few hours, take a long walk and breath in the spring blossoms, clean your home and donate unwanted items, garden — even if that means planting one bulb in one pot, read from natural light near the window. There are many things that can be done from donating hours to planting a tree or drawing in the sand with your kids.  What will you choose to do? Whatever you do, enjoy it and smile radiantly at everyone around you.

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