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Simple (not easy) Practice: Choice

A Moment, A Pause… & Conscious Choice

 
 

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of drama (your own internal drama or one happening with others/around you) and realizing,  “I don’t want to spend my moments in this state over this topic. It’s not a priority. It’s not aligned with my values. It’s unwise and it’s contributing to my unwellness.”  GREAT. That sudden moment of realization is HUGE! 

I have found that if I am suddenly aware, especially in such “heat of the moment” situations, I can make the choice either to suffer more, engage in unnecessary drama and stress more, or less. But the point is—I discover that I have a choice.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”
Viktor Frankl

I have found through daily reflections in writing and building self-awareness through my yoga practice that I can catch myself far more often while in some heated moments or stressful situations, and I am able to pause, evaluate whether this “drama” is an internal problem or an external problem, whether or not I can respond to it or control it somehow or not, whether I am wasting unnecessary stress on it or not. Because of the noticing and a pause, I can respond mindfully: I can take responsibility for my part in the drama, remain engaged in it or let go; show myself or someone else compassion; and respond to do what I can, if anything, and learn something from the entire experience. Spending my moments this way– attentive and responsible–has dramatically improved the quality of my life. 

How will you spend your moments?

Looking at everyday experiences with stress or difficulties as opportunities to face challenge, I ask myself, “Do I really wanna be “that guy?” and “Am I really caring for myself by allowing myself to experience unnecessary stress or causing more stress for myself?” I can do better than that for myself! If I don’t, who will? My life is my own, and I take responsibility for being both a whiny little bitch or a courageous, mother-fucking ass-kicker. I fail continuously in this endeavor, but it’s still a great way to spend my time and energy, for wisdom and wellness are the results (not perfection or achievement).

Choose better, for wellness. 

So, how to have more of these moments of awareness?  Practice through mindfulness meditation or yoga (moving meditation), or even try to keep awareness on your radar as something that is important to you to practice– it’s something of value. Write about it. Make it a priority. Make it a “thing” you do and who you are. Make it your “why” so you can bear the “hows” to get ‘er done. And, guess what, falling in love with this process means falling in love with your life –– i.e. the moments. Who knows how many we have?

––Viktor Frankl

For more, Read Part IV: Choice
from the
Classic Wisdom for the Modern Human: A Self-Study Guide for Wellness (2019, Amazon)

 

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Another Simple (not easy) Practice: Learning Mindset

What if you chose to believe or played with the notion that everything that happens to you happens for you instead?

How would such a shift in perspective to a “landscapes for learning” mindset change your life for just today while you try it?

Today’s Simple Practice invites you to try out a Landscapes for learning mindset—to practice it consciously throughout a day or so and write about your experiences.

Get curious about how the world might look, your reality, if you view every experience you have as an OPPORTUNITY for learning rather than reacting out of unconscious habit or per usual. This daily practice, as the others, encourages you to disrupt your own status quo for growth and wellness!

Just try!

 

 

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Listen to Your Nudges

Listen to your nudges, bitches. They’re never wrong. When you ignore them or you are too afraid to do what they ask, they usually show up as aches and pains in your body, or in your mind, or both. Denial, distraction, and ignorance will make you sick and suffer-– maybe not in the short term but definitely in the long term. 

HOW TO LISTEN TO YOUR NUDGES

Practicing Bikram Yoga gives you the opportunity to listen to your nudges and to face them to find the truth. This is hard. Lots of people would rather live in denial, distracted, and avoid the challenge of the hot room which serves as a crucible of honesty.

If you practice Bikram Yoga consistently and study yourself, by turning your attention inward instead of focusing on the distractions around you, you will start to notice patterns: you’ll notice, with curiosity rather than judgment, those subtle aches and pains in your body and in your mind. Noticing and learning about your mind-body connection will enable you to take a step toward putting the pieces of the puzzle of your true self together. 

The underlying truth of your life is the source of those nudges. The truth will surface with time and consistent practice as you courageously face the nudges and deal with them– explore them. If you ignore them, as Jo Simpson says in her TedTalk, (or you expect someone else to “fix” them for you and act as a victim) they’ll slap you across the face or steam roll you later in the form of greater suffering or poor health or tragedy. Best to listen now rather than later.

PRACTICE PAYING ATTENTION

Bikram Yoga is an incredibly helpful tool for strengthening your attention, practicing listening, and gaining the strength of character and grit to take responsibility for the hard truths of your life when they come. You will be prepared to face whatever life throws at you because you will have learned how to manage your suffering. You’ll have prepared through disciplined PRACTICE. (And here you are thinking yoga is about posing in spandex and posting self-indulgent photos on Instagram!)

If you build your strength and flexibility by doing what’s difficult in your practice, of staying in the room and trying, you’ll be right there, open enough, paying attention enough to receive your TRUTH!

STAY OPEN & VULNERABLE

That’s why I always include the line in the dialogue, “Mama, give me money!” when I am teaching. That’s why I reinforce keeping your eyes OPEN and your palms open in savasana– just in case that truth arrives, you’ll be ready to receive it. Show up, focus inward, and listen– to the nudges that will guide you to truth.

You may not like the nudges or understand them because usually they aren’t rational, and vulnerability is uncomfortable and scary, but you’ll be building the courage to accept the nudges as important signs to do as you should to be healthy. 

And those pains in your mind and body will magically dissolve, not really by magic at all, but rather through your attention and hard work, that is– discipline. This is why it’s YOUR practice and we ask you to look at yourself in the mirror, not at your teacher. There’s nothing special about us on the podium. We give you the conditions of the room and the words; you do the rest. It’s not about the teacher and how much “energy” or “entertainment” they bring to the class– if the teacher and their antics are your focus, then you won’t hear what your inner world needs to tell you. You might not notice the nudges. Your yoga isn’t about anybody else but YOU. 

BE YOUR OWN BEST WINGMAN

Knowing yourself by listening, paying yourself some loving, compassionate, and honest attention for 90 minutes– as if you came to spend some time with someone you really want to be with, someone you really care about— is your homemade, unique prescription for wellness.

As Navy SEAL, Jocko Willink always says, freedom comes from DISCIPLINE. Bikram yoga is a form of very effective discipline– of showing up on your mat and PAYING ATTENTION— of heading inward bound to know the real you, to your truth and its source. 

You want more answers about what the hell is happening for you in your life? Want more wisdom? More wellness? Listen to the nudges, bitches.

SEE YOU IN THE HOT ROOM!❤️🔥

STAY TUNED FOR SELF STUDY for WISDOM AND WELLNESSWORKSHOPS COMING SOON TO A BIKRAM YOGA STUDIO
NEAR YOU!

 

 

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Podcast w/ Myozen Joan Amaral on Zen, Zazen, Practice and Social Life

“The best way is to understand yourself, and then you will understand everything.

So when you try hard to make your own way, you will help others, and you will be helped by others.

Before you make your own way you cannot help anyone, and no one can help you.”

Shunryu Suzuki

 

 

Myozen Joan Amaral moved to the Boston area in 2012 from the San Francisco Zen Center to serve as guiding teacher for the Zen Center North Shore. She is delightful, funny, a ray of light, and a calming force to be around. There’s a positive and loving attractiveness about her that, as she says at the end of the podcast, impacts others more than anything she could say using words. As a Zen priest living back out in the world, her primary focus is on the dynamic relationship between formal meditation practice and everyday, messy human life.

JoanAmaral

I met Joan years ago when I went on a World Religions class field trip to the Zen Center and again when she was invited to implement a meditation program for students and teachers at the school where I worked as a high school humanities teacher.

In this podcast, Joan talks with me about the interplay of the inner landscape and life on the outer landscape in terms of zazen and the precepts of Zen Buddhism. She talks about the Zen Center and her role as Priest within the local community and individual mindful meditation practice as well as its relationship to community, activism, and social justice.  We also talk about the definition of mindfulness and how it is popularly perceived as a tool for stress reduction, how it’s been limited in some ways because of such perceptions and definition, and the possible barriers to its acceptance as a valued practice in a school setting.

Influencing the world and serving others is intimately tied to individual practice, and honing one’s practice is a form of social activism benefitting not only the practitioner but all else.

Interested in inviting Joan to your school or local organization? Feel free to contact her at the Zen Center!

For more about the North Shore Zen Center:
https://zencenternorthshore.org/

For more information about Zen Buddhism:
http://www.zen-buddhism.net/

*A Meta-reflection on this post:
I am continuing to hone my podcast interviewing skills, which based on this conversation still need lots of work. This podcasting experience is showing where I have gaps in my understanding (which means I am still learning, so I am happy about that!) and that I have to continue to listen more. My god, I can talk! I am also still very uncomfortable with hearing my own voice and remaining positive about this endeavour. Frankly, it all still makes me cringe. Oh, and also, I am still learning to edit and publish effectively using Audacity which is a frustrating sound editor indeed, as I have been unable to save some projects after several hours of work. I wanted to be tested, and that is surely happening.

I learn a lot about the way I communicate from podcasting– how I listen or fail to, and I also learn about my own understanding and misunderstanding when I am able to re-listen to the conversations and edit them before publishing. This is an excellent way to learn about your own thinking and communication of ideas. I am a work in progress!