Finding Comfort in the discomfort

“Some men (women) lead lives of quiet desperation; some a scream, some a song.”

A timeless yoga philosophy is “finding comfort in the discomfort.” This is a bold undertaking in our practice, because usually when we find ourselves in discomfort, we try to wriggle ourselves out of it and move away from it. But then it will always chase us and find us. So our other option is owning up to the “discomfort” whether it is in a posture that frustrates us, heartbreak, confusion, or general lack of control in a life situation.

This is a theme I return to again and again in my teachings, and very much so in my personal practice.

Finding comfort in the discomfort. What does that mean?

When we are feeling lonely or frustrated by our current state of being or situation, we often flock towards distractions to help ameliorate the situation. But in that pattern of creating and allowing distractions as a form of medicine, we don’t fix the integral problem or habit that is what is truly keeping us from attaining contentment and or happiness. We have to recognize our habits, and make peace with our situations. We can make peace with difficult situations by having the integrity to accept our challenges and observe them with an open heart and an open mind. With patience and the acknowledgement that we can adapt and adjust to any given situation. Its not so much what we encounter but how we deal with the encounters.

It is a discipline in itself to rid ourselves of our bad habits. Start small. Give yourself permission to recognize your habits. when you realize your tendencies towards your habits you then have a choice; do what you typically do and allow yourself to continue to become distracted and avoid confronting yourself and your bad habits, or, choose to try something different, for example studying your habits and facing the reality of what you are doing and who you are being in the situations you find yourself in. Sometimes that means being sad, and alone, or angry, amongst an array of other thoughts and feelings. But if we don’t allow ourselves to experience the array of what our realities bring forth, we never get passed the issues. Sometimes we have to crawl through dark and tangled places before clarity and truth can emerge. But only when we accept the entanglement can we begin to detangle ourselves, and come out with clarity, finding what truly makes us happy. For some it takes more work than others, and that is where the practice and the true challenge lies. Self actualization and integrity can be really hard work. But the stronger you become the better you will be at dealing with what life dishes up, and life will never cease to keep serving us with endless portions. Sometimes tasty , sometimes bitter.

Watch your thoughts, for they become words.

think about what you say, for your words become actions.

Notice the strength of your actions, for that becomes habitual.

Your habits create your character.

Character is destiny.

Cultivating deep conversations with yourself

The body is your temple ~ Sage advice.

Some phrases are statements of truth, some phrases are simply opinions. The phrase “ the body is your temple” is a statement of truth. The body in which you dwell and call home, is the only one you’ve got. That being said, I recommend you start to have a really deep conversation with it.

When you are wildly intrigued by something or someone, you tend to pay attention to it in great detail, to study it, to master it. How about applying that curiosity and intrigue to yourself?

We are born and we die with the same body, yet some people go through life with little awareness of their own body. The practice of Yoga teaches us to connect deeply with our bodies, finding the connection between our mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual self; that there isn’t much of a separation between these governing bodies of the self until death, when the physical body shuts down. Where the spirit goes remains a mystery. That is left open to individual interpretation and religion, which is of course a very personal topic, and something I will leave up to you to “find your own myth” as one of my favorite minds, Joseph Campbell would say.

There is the philosophy that there lies different sheaths (or) layers of being, often referred to as the Koshas. There are believed to be 5 koshas; The food body, the energy body, the mental body, the wisdom body, and the bliss body. Yoga and accupunture practices help one wake up so to speak, to the interconnectivity and balance of these koshas. There is a great sense of disconnect many people have with their sense of self. People misunderstand what is going on with their bodies and seem to rely more so on outside sources to tell them what is and isn’t good for them. When one allows oneself to begin to recognize and listen to their body, one can begin that long deep conversation, and the benefits of that long deep self conversation become seemingly endless. You can learn to feel and listen to what your body is trying to tell you; what feels right and good, what feels wrong and questionable, and you can then begin to have that internal dialogue of what it means to honor the self. Certain movements with consistency and depth nurture and strengthen your body, opposed to movements that strain your body. Certain foods have the power to do the same. This day in age, a lot of people have terrible diets. Much of the food made convieniently available to us is overly processed or treated with harmful chemicals. Whether it be due to lack of resources and education on proper nutrition and  healthy living, or lack of finances to sustain a healthy diet, or just laziness. I say if there is a will there is a way, for everyone to live and eat well. For years society would not only listen to, but TRUST the FDA and USDA, only to learn it is just as corrupt as most money hungry corporations that don’t really care about you or me. The better you are treating your body on a regular basis, the more you will want to feed it with clean and healthy food. The more positive reinforcing thoughts and actions you cultivate, the more content your state of mind. The more mindful exercise and body work, the better your body feels.

What you put into your body is important, as is what you feed your mind. As is what you do with your body. Everything we absorb and ingest affects our state of being. Every movement we make creates muscle memory. If you don’t eat a balanced, nutrient rich diet, you can not only affect your physical health, but it can affect your mood. If you don’t move in a conscious, caring way, you affect your bodies comfort and longevity. Having a healthy body inspires a healthy state of mind and vice versa. If you continuously have negative thought patterns , those negative thoughts create stress and anxiety, and in turn can cause disease and dysfunction in the body. Your lifestyle affects your character , and your destiny.

This article isn’t to suggest that its bad to eat a cheeseburger and drink a milkshake with whiskey in it and then sit on your couch all evening. This article is to suggest becoming greatly aware of what your body wants and needs and when it should and should not have or do certain things. This article is about finding balance and moderation everyday. With all the advice and information out there, our self awareness and understanding can become clouded. Thats why it is a practice in itself to have a conversation with yourself. To live mindfully is to live well, and to live well and mindfully is to understand balance and moderation and the uniqueness of your existence. I encourage you to begin a regular practice of cultivating deep conversations with yourself, and see what happens.

Letting go of expectations

My Father used to tell me , “If you want to make god laugh, make plans.” Because more often than not, life dishes up the unexpected, changing our precious plans.

Planning is good in the sense that having direction and feeling prepared is valuable. Some personalities need to plan more than others. Yet, ironically, the persons that are dependent on having a plan are the ones that are most negatively affected when their plan doesn’t go accordingly. Hence why I felt compelled to write about it. We can create a plan and do everything necessary to see it is executed just how we foresee it too, but the reality is that things can change in a matter of seconds, thats just the law of the universe. Nothing is really guaranteed (Except for math, but thats another blog. Entirely). I think what we all need to do, is focus more on letting go of the outcome in our plans, but still stay driven in our integrity as if things were all going to work out in the end. Because they do once we learn to let go of what we think is concrete, and focus more on being present with that which is right in front of us now. If we think too far ahead into the future, then we create stories, that may or may not even be likely to happen. With the creation of those stories can come excitement, stress, worries, fear, or doubt. Whereas if we were all to focus on working hard today, being the best person, friend, relative, lover, partner, sister, brother, parent, or child we possibly can, letting go of those stories because they should have no bearing on this day, on this moment. Take a deep breath and treat this moment, each moment with good intention, and an open heart for what may come. One day at a time. Then we can free ourselves of great disappointment, jealousy, fear, and all the other negative things we let govern us at times.

I know that some reading this may think to themselves ” Its not that easy.” You’re right, its not. If if were easy then everyone would already be practicing these values. Thats why its work, and thats why its important to be reminded of it.

Maintaining Zen during the Holidays

The Holidays. A time to celebrate tradition, honor your beliefs, change, joy, gratitude, and grace. . . maybe break out your showy decorations, make or buy presents,  But we all know what this time of year also has a tendency to bring with it;  The stressfullness of getting everything done in time. The obligation to see family, even though it may be inconvenient. Feeling obligated to gift give,  Navigating your way through a season of consumerism and noise. Pleasing others is a beautiful thing, but is it really that gratifying if all that effort leaves you feeling emotionally and mentally drained, and with a dry pocket book, wishing you were laying somewhere on a tropical beach with a cocktail in your hand?

Sadly, it seems with many holidays this day and age, the are far to many expectations to exceed. When did this become Christmas? Chanukah, or any of the other sacredly important Holidays celebrated this time of year? The hectic shopping crowds, the spending hundreds of dollars to travel somewhere you probably don’t really want to travel, when you could just be in the warm, comfort of your own home. I love my family, and have had many wonderful holidays with them, but I’m lucky that no one in my family makes me feel guilty if I don’t want to go out of my way to be there. They understand that Holidays can be overrated to a point of disappointment for a lot of people, so ultimately its about taking some time for yourself and doing what you need to do to get through the storm. Making an effort to be joyous, celebratory, and present with the ones you love daily opposed to reserving that kind of gratitude for one or two days out of the year.

Its a very American thing to save all your celebration and hard earned downtime and try to cram it into a few days. That can’t really be healthy. We should be taking more downtime on the regular, to take care of our own needs, and to also honor the needs of others. If we reserve only a short amount of time to relax, but also knowing that that short amount of time comes with agendas and expectations, then its not about sharing joy and quality time with your loved ones, its about putting in your dues, and thats not something anyone really looks forward to.

Remember to take time for yourself. Time to do exactly what you want and need to do, regardless of what kind of expectations anyone else has for you. Take time to be still, to be in solitude and silence, to take grounding, calming breaths. To laugh, and to cry if you need to cry. The Holidays put a lot of pressure on people to be happy and full of cheer, but for some, the Holidays bring up painful memories and past emotions. Be mindful of what others may be dealing with on a personal level and give them some of their own time to breath. If everyone takes that time to care for themselves, they can put more energy and care into giving those around them the love and support they want and hopefully have a legitimately pleasant Holiday season. free of expectations, free of stress, but full of cheer and light and gratitude. Ask yourself what the Holidays you celebrate truly mean to you and whom you share them with. No expectations, no judgement. Just honor whats important in your world. And remember not to sweat the small stuff.