The Truth is – You’re Not Who You Think You Are

Throughout our lives we are subjected to impressions of who we think we should be. We absorb these distorted beliefs and allow them to influence us. A lot of times we even define ourselves by them. Why do we do this?

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Because our minds are quick. They receive stimuli and respond immediately. When we instantly react to situations, we are functioning on a purely emotional level. Usually these responses come from a place of fear or conditioning – from sources that are generated outside ourselves. In order to recognize the truth of who we are, we need to provide time and space for inner reflection.

So, when a feeling rushes in, take a moment to observe what has come into your mind. Is this thought really accurate? Is it who you are? This is the first step toward connecting with your authentic spirit.

To gain space for true perception, you’ll need to release those random thought patterns. The ones that spring out of emotion-based thinking. A simple way to remove “mind banter” is to use the technique called Neti, Neti, Neti.

Sit quietly and focus on the space between your eyebrows. Attempt to clear your mind. This will be a challenge as thoughts will definitely arise. When they do, silently chant the words: Neti, Neti Neti.

The first Neti means “I am not this thought”, the second Neti signifies, “I am not this thought that is thinking I am not this thought” and the last Neti points out that, “I am not thought at all.”

Practicing the method on a regular basis will give your mind the opportunity to empty. Clear space will then enable new thoughts to arise, thoughts that give way to the true You that is within.

If you’d like to begin building a steady meditation practice, join me on my July Challenge.

Namasté!

 

Daily Yoga Practice Week #3

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Another week and the habit of a daily yoga practice is setting in – with pleasure!  I am enjoying getting reacquainted with myself through meditation and pranayama. Doing it first thing each morning truly sets the tone. And, if I don’t do my asana practice until later, it still provides the commitment I need to keep on track. My attitude is brighter and I have more incentive to make it a great day.

This week, I’m bringing back the Chandra Dhauti Shat Kriya or Tongue Cleansing. Shat Kriyas are important purification techniques that keep the subtle energy levels flowing. When implemented, the absorption of oxygen is increased so that a deeper awareness can be generated. The tongue cleansing is a simple and productive first step towards subtle body purification. If you would like to discover more about this process, click here.

Ultimately, purifying the body is dependent on the amount and type of food you consume. In general, I try to eat moderately. A little of everything is my motto.

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When shopping, I look for foods without pesticides, herbicides, hormones, additives, or preservatives and select locally grown or organic produce whenever possible. Personally, I find that when I limit the amount of alcohol, sugar and caffeine in my diet, I have a clearer perspective and a more satisfying yoga practice.

Week #3 of the meditation/pranayama practice is a continuation of last week with the addition of a new technique. Here’s the plan:

1.) Centering (Sacred Space, Invocation & Resurrection Breath).

I’ll be focusing on the yama satya (or non-lying).

2.) Sipping Breath (we covered this on week #1).

3.) EEEE Mantra (introduced last week).

4.) Neti Neti Neti technique:

  • Close your eyes, focus on something meaningful & be still.
  • When your mental focus shifts to other streams of thought, chant silently: Neti, Neti, Neti (or “I am not that thought”).
  • Maintain the technique for 2 minutes.

Tip: Practicing Neti, Neti, Neti over time will lead you to a more meditative state – if you stay diligent. Keep bringing yourself back to the object of your meditation and, eventually, the mind will find that it is easier to stay focused than it is to continually migrate back to thinking other thoughts.

I wish you a joyful practice week!

Daily Yoga Practice Week #2

meditation-2307812__340I started my journey back to a full yoga practice last week. It was a little difficult getting to my mat each morning before the traditional tea or coffee “kick start” but, as I stated in my last post, putting meditation/breathing as the first order of business is the best way for me to seal the habit.

So, it was wonderful. I spent about 6 minutes doing the prescribed practice before heading into my usual 20-30 minute asana session. I found that the breathing and meditation helped me to delve deeper into my hatha yoga. Overall, my practice felt stronger and more effective. 

This week, my plan is to try to drink more water and get more sleep. 6-8 glasses and 6-8 hours should be a good goal.

If you are wanting to take the Daily Yoga challenge with me, here’s this week’s plan:

1.) Centering (Sacred Space, Invocation & Resurrection Breath).

I’ll be focusing on the niyama shaucha (or purification) which should connect well with the increases in water and sleep!

2.) Sipping Breath (we covered this last week).

3.) EEEE Mantra:

  • Inhale quickly though your open mouth.
  • Exhale while chanting aloud a strong and persistent EEEEEE sound while smiling.
  • Keep the sound strong, try not to waver and end decisively.
  • Hold the breath as long as comfortable then rest.

Repeat 2 more times

4.) Be Still (2-3 minutes)

If you’d like a guide, here’s my audio version of the sequence:

Be sure to follow this practice with either a Hatha Yoga class/practice or some other form of exercise that you may be currently doing. Again, this segment doesn’t have to happen every day.

My Tip:  If you are having trouble remembering the techniques/sequences, try recording the instructions on your phone (use the Voice Memos App) or computer like I have. Simply use my links to the directions and record the cues that will keep you on track.

Shanti Friends!

Forming a Daily Yoga Practice – Week #1

road-363265__340It’s my summer’s quest to bring a daily yoga practice back into my life. With teaching, vacations and visitations, my schedule has been erratic to say the least.

For the times when I fall off the wagon, I look to my old Kriya Yoga training program to reset and return to a more disciplined practice. It is a superb resource that has all of the components I need to balance my yoga. I am a firm believer in implementing every branch of yoga into my practice: asana (poses), pranayama (breathing), meditation (and the modalities that preceed and follow meditation) as well as the ethical principles/disciplines associated with a yogic lifestyle. When you incorporate all of these various aspects of yoga into your life, you are practicing your sadhana.

Developing a full daily yoga practice routine or sadhana can be daunting. You really need to simplify each modality to get a practical pattern that you can keep on a daily basis. In order to succeed, I plan to take the month of July to set up a weekly guide that will allow me to gently slide back into the habit of a full yoga practice or sadhana. I would love to share this path with you.

If you have been reading my posts and learning the ways of living more yogically, you will have a better understanding to proceed. In general, this blog will be a good resource for you and I will try to reference back to specific topics as needed.

I hope to dedicate each Sunday to setting up the week’s agenda and providing a short outline for a daily schedule. Again, I will be starting out small in order to succeed.

Begin by establishing a dedicated practice space where you can just roll out your mat and proceed. Keep in mind that it is preferable to face east if you will be practicing in the morning.

You may need a small blanket or cushion to sit comfortably on the floor (you can even prop up against a wall or sit on the edge of a chair). You may also like to have a timer for the final step.

The sequence below should take approximately 5-10 minutes:

1.) Create a Sacred Space.

2.) Invite Yourself (quote/intention) – incorporate the principle of ahimsa.

3.) Preform Resurrection Breath.

4.) Practice Sipping Breath technique:

  • Pucker your lips & leave a small opening through which to sip air like a straw.
  • Inhale as long and slowly as you comfortably can.
  • Hold the breath without straining.
  • Open the mouth and forceibly exhale the breath.

Practice this in a round of 5-10 breaths if you feel comfortable. 

5.) Remain Still for 2-3 minutes (use timer).

Immediately following the steps above, I will be flowing into my normal routine of hatha yoga practice (20-30 minutes) or brisk walking/hiking (30-60 minutes). You might elect to do a shorter yoga practice, join a class or proceed with any other physical routine you normally do. The duration and number of times per week you practice this section is up to you.

My Tip:  I have found that my practice needs to be the first thing that I do in the morning for it to stick as a daily habit. You may choose to follow a different schedule based on your lifestyle or family responsibilities. The critical thing is to schedule your practice like an appointment so that you can honor it each day.  

Good luck and let me know how it goes!

Namasté,  Kim.

*****Update:  I have discovered how to record this week’s meditation and breathing sequence on the Voice Memos App. Hopefully, you can click below to follow along:

Looking for These Sources…

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Please help! Despite the intellegence of the internet, I cannot locate the source of these beautiful and profound yoga quotes that I recorded in my journal long ago.  I would very much like to attribute them to their original authors.

If you are familiar with the following quotes, please leave me a comment…thanks!

#1: “Yoga is not a destination to be reached, it is a place where you simply are. The method is the goal.”

#2: “Take this opportunity to begin to shed your outer layers – your coverings. Find the way back to center: through flesh, muscle, bone. To the river that underlies us, solid and fluid. Lean softly into your experience and give it your whole attention.”

#3: “The technique a teacher passes on are petals on the flower, but the stem is inside you. No one can show you what that looks and feels like. They can help you learn and show you what they have found useful, but the inner teachings are going on all the time – the little discoveries that can only be made from within as you compare the you that was with the you that is awakening.”

#4: What is the purpose of yoga practice? To open the heart. Measure your success in your postures not by how far you go but by how aware you are in each moment. What makes you feel most alive? Most present? Most whole?”

 

 

YOLY Challenge #52: Discovering the True Path

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For the final installment in our Year of Living Yogically Challenge, let’s look to the next step on the path. Continuing your development and expanding, still further, the horizon of your awareness requires study. Svadhyaya is the sanskrit term for self-study. And, as we have learned, increased awareness brings you true happiness.

Your final Living Yogically Challenge is to set up a weekly session for paying attention to yourself. One day per week, journal your observations. Record your habits, your behaviors and your perceptions to tune into your self-awareness.

“Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. Mastering others is strength; mastering yourself is true power. If you realize that you have enough, you are truly rich.” -Lao Tzu

As the Yoga Posts’ facilitator, I am also looking to the future and what this blog will become. If you have any suggestions for yoga topics or information that you would like to see posted on a regular basis, please leave me your comment. If you are new to the blog or want to see where the Year of Yogically begins, click here to start.

Until the next time…

Namasté, Kim.

YOLY Challenge #51: Time For Solitude

stadium-165406__340As the summer solstice approaches, now is the perfect time for seeking solitude for yourself. Periodically remaining quiet increases your awareness and lets your mind rest.

Your challenge this week will be to receive solitude by spending time alone each day. Walking in nature or watching the sunset or sunrise are good ways to soak up some solo time. Also, consider your speech and how much you talk. Curtail your urge to speak a bit this week to bring more reflection and centeredness into your life.

Or, you can choose to be in solitude with others by practicing the concept of mouna or silence.  A good time for this is just prior to or following a meal. Another effective time is the first thing in the morning or the last thing before sleeping. If you live with others, make this “silent time” a period for eliminating the television, computer, or any other device that produces sound. For 10-15 minutes (and ear buds plugged in do not count), try to keep the silence with reading, drawing or writing. Eventually, slowly phase out these activities and find a comfortable place to just be still together. During this time, consider your thoughts and observe what surfaces. This is a great prelude to meditation.

Performed on a regular basis, mouna becomes an important tool for generating increased awareness. The yama of asteya or non-stealing in the form of words, can also be a consideration for keeping the virtue of silence. When you practice silence, your thoughts become quieter, and, ultimately, you will find that you are able to pacify your emotions and soften your personality.

Enjoy the stillness!