You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2013.

Be Present to all
who need compassion and love
wear it on your sleeve….

The more you (think) you know the greater the importance of learning to let go of what you (think) you know so that you can open to the deeper knowledge already within every cell of your being. Ancestral wisdom is encoded in our DNA, dimly remembered as the habits and routines passed down to us from our parents, grandparents, and our partner’s family.

As we learn and grow, often we are taught what we are led to believe is true due to “scientific” methods of testing and observation. But how many times are we convinced (often for years) that we are doing the right things, eating healthy foods only to learn that later research (sometimes confirming much older research) is showing these “true facts” are in fact completely wrong? Dr. Dwight Lundell came to a difficult realization that everything he know was wrong…

“We physicians with all our training, knowledge and authority often acquire a rather large ego that tends to make it difficult to admit we are wrong. So, here it is. I freely admit to being wrong. As a heart surgeon with 25 years experience, having performed over 5,000 open-heart surgeries, today is my day to right the wrong with medical and scientific fact.

I trained for many years with other prominent physicians labelled “opinion makers.” Bombarded with scientific literature, continually attending education seminars, we opinion makers insisted heart disease resulted from the simple fact of elevated blood cholesterol.

The only accepted therapy was prescribing medications to lower cholesterol and a diet that severely restricted fat intake. The latter of course we insisted would lower cholesterol and heart disease. Deviations from these recommendations were considered heresy and could quite possibly result in malpractice.”

It takes true courage to let go of years of training and allow one’s own intelligence and powers of observation to shine through. Since the 1980’s, when the USDA first began making recommendations for a low-fat low-cholesterol diet, the levels of chronic disease have skyrocketed. Americans are sicker than ever, often taking multiple prescriptions for issues that are diet and lifestyle related (which should make one wonder, why not fix the root cause? Diet and Lifestyle!).

“While we savor the tantalizing taste of a sweet roll, our bodies respond alarmingly as if a foreign invader arrived declaring war. Foods loaded with sugars and simple carbohydrates, or processed with omega-6 oils for long shelf life have been the mainstay of the American diet for six decades. These foods have been slowly poisoning everyone.” Dr. Lundell and other physicians are finally speaking out against our over-reliance on highly processed and refined foods of convenience which create widespread inflammation in our bodies. This inflammation results in the blocked arteries, NOT the cholesterol that has been demonized for years – “The cholesterol theory led to the no-fat, low-fat recommendations that in turn created the very foods now causing an epidemic of inflammation. Mainstream medicine made a terrible mistake when it advised people to avoid saturated fat in favor of foods high in omega-6 fats. We now have an epidemic of arterial inflammation leading to heart disease and other silent killers.”

So what do we do? The diseases of “modern” humans originally were rare, occurring most commonly in city dwellers and the wealthy, those who were more likely to consume processed refined “foods”. The common farmers and laborers ate closer to the land because those foods were cheaper (but also fresher and more nutrient dense). So eat like your grandparents ate, if they were farmers! Fresh, whole foods are packed with nutrients. Simple preparation with traditional fats and oils will convey rich flavors and using spices (ideally freshly ground but hey, let’s start small) like turmeric, coriander, cumin, black pepper, mineralized salt, and grass fed butter (or ghee) and cream will not only taste better but stick to your ribs so you’re not constantly hungry and looking for snacks.

Then we must try to get active – our sedentary lifestyles are stiffening our joints and allowing what we eat to be stored on our hips, waists, and in our blood vessels. We don’t need to sweat profusely or crawl out of the gym to get a “good” workout. Differing constitutions have different needs – someone who really needs to lose a few pounds (or has difficulty with weight) needs more vigorous exercise than someone who is naturally slim and lean. One who is under a great deal of emotional or physical stress should not exercise the same way as one who is calm and serene.

To learn more about how to awaken our body’s innate wisdom we need to pay attention to how we react to everything we do – what effect does our food have on us? What effect does our physical activity (or lack of it) have on our aches and pains and our energy level? The practice of Yoga, specifically designed to teach us how to be self-aware, can be applied to other areas of our lives as we learn to tune into ourselves more deeply. You don’t need to be flexible or coordinated or thin; try different styles and even different teachers within a style which appeals to you. Once you begin to recognize themes as well as specific postures which feel beneficial you may feel ready to do some practicing on your own; when you go to class you recharge your creativity and learn new things you can then incorporate into your home practice. And while classes may range from 60 – 120 minutes your personal practice need not last more than 5 – 10 minutes at first. Make a little time (traditionally in the morning before breakfast, but you can also unwind with gentler yoga in the evening before bed) every day and reap the benefits the longer you practice.

Well, the world didn’t end (again) and once again we find ourselves another year older.  What have we accomplished so far?   What do we intend to accomplish this year?  How do intend to FEEL about what we’ve accomplished and hope to accomplish?

We can remain mired in feelings of self-doubt, so easy to do during this period of rapid change. We can choose to feel insulted by imagined slights, so easy when we project our feelings and emotions onto others.  We can demonize those who are different from us, who have differing opinions from ours,  We can even run away from our feelings by avoiding anyone or anything that challenges our worldview, our carefully constructed vision of how the world should be.

Even in a simple yoga class we can run away from understanding ourselves.  The teacher might urge us to strive a little harder, stretch a little deeper, let go a little bit more than we are ready for.  Instead of reflexively thinking or saying “I can’t do that because….” why not, starting this New Year, put a little SOUL into our practice?

Stay with those difficult sensations and face the obstacles before you.  Every time we run away from difficulty we weaken ourselves;  when true adversity faces us, will we have the strength to stand up to it?

Observe what arises in the mind;  what feelings are there?  Have we felt that way before?  What happened then?  Try not doing anything right away – simply watch your mind, notice if there is something deeper, below the surface.  Who is the Watcher, watching the mind race?

Understand over time how this process of observation can help lead us to freedom from the tyranny of our unwanted thoughts.  This won’t happen overnight, the deepest transformations happen slowly and imperceptibly.  We don’t need to direct this process.  Every time we step onto our yoga mat our physical practice, yoked to our breath, will take care of that.  The postures themselves unlock stored tensions, blocked sensations, hidden experiences and emotions and transform them without our conscious awareness.

Let go of your judgement, your expectations!  Life is full of ups and downs;  we can do everything right and still things go south, we can do everything wrong and have things turn our alright.  If we set our expectations too high we are bound to be disappointed.  Set them too low and perhaps we cheat ourselves of the joy of working towards something truly rewarding despite the struggle!

The SOUL of yoga is not in the asana, not in the “perfection” of the poses, not even in the process of daily practice.  The next time you take a class or begin your personal practice, or even when you aren’t even “doing yoga” take a metaphorical step back.  Find the SOUL in whatever you are doing.

 

January 2013
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