The key to long-term fulfillment is how you respond to life’s many challenges. Expand your repertoire of responses and you will discover that by shifting your response, you can influence the outcome of any situation or circumstance in life.

 

Human beings have been given the incredible gift of choice and free will. Although our responses to unmet needs can be automatic and based on the instinct to survive, we have the ability to shift our ego-based life internal reference point to a soul based one.

The following are possible human responses to unmet needs:

 

Fight-or-flight Response
This response is based on fear and the perception that our environment is threatening.  It is an ancient, primitive response, grounded in survival instinct – serving to keep the body protected.  When in the fight or flight response, our heart beats faster, blood pressure rises, breathing is more rapid, adrenalin increases, and our immune system is suppressed.

 

Reactive Response

This is slightly disguised version of the flight or flight response – the psychological equivalent. We also call it the Ego response. Emotions are in the domain of the ego and when ego boundaries are crossed, uncomfortable feelings are generated.  Criticism, anger, sarcasm and disrespect are psychological versions of the fight response while withdrawal, sulking, shutting down and pouting are emotional responses.

 

Restful Awareness Response
This response has been available for thousands of years.  It is elicited through the practice of meditation, which provides the technology to expand our internal reference point. When we begin to witness the activity of the mind we become capable of conscious choice making. We are experiencing opposite of flight fight. Our body functions normalize.

 


Intuitive Response

Deep within us is a wise, knowing being, which we can access when we quiet the noise of our minds and live in present moment awareness.  In this awareness, we can more easily observe the emotions arising within us rather than remaining stuck in past laden assessments and evaluations.  Coming from the intuitive response, we avoid using words that encourage victimization.  We notice when we are coming from interpretation and choose to come from conscious observation and authentic expression. Being more in the present moment.

 


Creative Response

Creativity is the process of applying a new context or meaning to a situation or a circumstance, thereby allowing something to manifest that has not been seen before.  Novel solutions can emerge when you approach a challenge by quieting down your inner dialogue and looking within. The solution to a problem is rarely on the level of the problem. Rather, expanding your perspective enables you to see the challenge in a new light.

Visionary Response
Every one of us is living a mythological life.  We have the potential to be gods and goddesses by living from the collective soul level and tuning into the realm of collective dreams.  The visionary response reflects and connects us with this archetypal realm and enables us to more consciously participate in the story of our lives.  The great leaders and figures of history have recognized and given their lives to a vision of what is possible.

Sacred Response
When our sense of self expands, we go beyond constricted ego-based awareness to the recognition of self in the object of our perception. At this level of unity consciousness, compassion is a natural expression.  We transcend our unconscious obsession with “what’s in it for me” and dwell in “how can I be of service?” We realize we are all made of the same essence and are points of perspective in universal being. Like waves on the ocean, each of us is an individual expression of the one non-local, spirit.

Jun
12
0

A message from Deepak

If you read about all four Yogas in the Bhagavad-Gita, and since this is a sacred text–the highest text as viewed by countless generations in India–it sounds scandalous for me to say that someone thought it was necessary to name the four paths. To the devout, these four Yogas came directly from God. Every religion makes the same claim, and in India as everywhere else, what was intended to create unity wound up creating division. Groups formed around each path. Separate quarreling teachers held their interpretation to be the only true one. Outsiders were barred from certain paths–and all women were excluded just by virtue of being women. Looking at the state of India today, one cannot claim any superiority for this ancient knowledge except that it happens to be very, very old.

Stripped of all this encrustation, however, we are left with four paths that follow feeling, thinking, doing, and being.

Unity through feeling occurs when you are devoted and loving. In this path your personal emotions expand to become all-encompassing. Love of self and family merges into love of humanity. In its highest expression, your love is so powerful that it calls upon God to show himself (or herself) to you. The yearning heart finds ultimate peace by uniting with the heart of creation.

Unity through thinking occurs when your mind stops being restless and speculative. It re-educates itself in a new direction. Thinking turns into knowing, which is to say wisdom. With great clarity your intellect looks into any problem and sees the solution. As your knowingness expands, personal questions fade. What your mind really wants to know is the mystery of existence. Questions knock on the door of eternity, at which point only the Creator can answer them for you. The fulfillment of this path comes when your mind merges with the mind of God.

Unity through doing occurs when you begin to surrender. Your actions stop being motivated by selfish wants and wishes. At the beginning, it is inescapable that you will be acting for yourself, because even if you try to be completely selfless, you will be earning personal satisfaction. In time, however, action detaches from the ego. Doing becomes motivated by a force outside yourself. (This universal force is called Dharma in Sanskrit. We will delve into Dharma later, but here I will point out that the path of action is often summed up in a phrase: karma gives way to dharma. In other words, personal attachment to your own actions is turned into non-attachment through performing God’s actions.) This path reaches its fulfillment when your surrender is so complete that God runs everything you do.

Unity through being occurs when you cultivate a self beyond ego. The sense of “I” at first is attached to “I think this” or “I do that.” At a cruder level the “I” can’t be separated from money, possessions, and status. The ego must be stripped of its greed and clinging to such things. Ego is kept going by the mind, so on this path the mind must somehow become calm enough to see that “I” is a fake, an illusion. There is no real “I” but only a sense of existence pure and simple which is sometimes labeled “I am.” All creatures share the same “I am,’ and fulfillment on this path occurs when your being encompasses so much of life that God is also included. Nothing is excluded from the same universal “I am.”

Just as it isn’t necessary to give the four paths Sanskrit names, it isn’t necessary to regard them as religious. There is nothing sacred about feeling, thinking, doing, and being. Yet when carried to their deepest intensity, these common ingredients of life are transformed into something spiritual and therefore holy.

When you feel enough, your love become God’s love.

When you know enough, your mind becomes God’s mind.

When you act from complete surrender, your body becomes God’s body.

When you can be with complete stillness and silence, your soul becomes God’s soul.

All of these statements are true, but they should come with a warning: “Caution: Divided Road Ahead.” Religion has deteriorated into angry division even when the subject is unity, and the agreement of all faiths that there is only one God has not stopped the endless, savage game of one-upmanship that tears the world apart. The power of one will always be a personal decision made despite what priests and authorities say. To make a difference in the world, you must say the same thing that a few extraordinary people have said: Everything begins with me. The world’s problems begin with me, and so do the world’s solutions. If any of us, standing in front of the evening news with numbed hopelessness, could hear the voice of silence, it must be saying the same thing it would have said a thousand years ago:

You can start over.

Starting over means undergoing a transformation which has already begun. If your heart grows sick of constant violence and division, you are preparing to accept a deep, radical change. As long as you continue to believe that you are an isolated individual confronting a random, dangerous world, reality will keep on reflecting that core belief back to you. But the universe, like any mirror, is neutral. It reflects back whatever is in front of it, without judgment or distortion. Be open to that alone. If you can start out trusting that the world is going to provide you with true, unbiased, objective reports of who you re, then you will feel, think, act, and be in a completely revolutionary way. The power of one is waiting for you to seize it.

May
12
0

Chair Yoga

In the practice of Chair Yoga, we perform modified Sun Salutations in a Chair. The Sun Salutations are a set of twelve poses that enhance flexibility, and strength while improving circulation. If you find you are unable to get down on a yoga mat for whatever reason, Chair Yoga is for you! If you are stuck sitting at a desk all day, riding on a plane, train or automobile, bound to a wheel chair, or simply have limited flexibility, you will benefit from a daily practice of yoga in a chair. And don’t ever think you can’t do yoga because you’re not flexible enough. Wherever you are now is the perfect starting point to begin adding this gentle exercise to integrate mind and body.

Begin this practice by sitting up tall in a chair. Feet planted on the floor. If your feet do not touch the floor, use a block or stacked books to keep your knees in line with your hips. Gently close your eyes and take a few moments to pay attention to your body. Feel the way you are sitting in your chair. Feel the way you are holding your body. Notice your heart beat. Breathe in and out through your nostrils for a few breaths (connecting with your heart beat).

  1. Hands to Heart Pose – Pranamasana: Bring your hands to your heart center and put your attention on the breath.
  2. Hands to Sky Pose – Hasta Uttanasana: Inhale, your hands over your head into Sky Reaching Pose.
  3. Hands to Feet Pose – Pada Uttanasana: Exhale, bend forward from your hips resting your chest on your knees, bringing your hands beside your feet (or on your knees depending on flexibility). Relax your head down.
  4. Equestrian Pose – Ashwa Sanchalanasana: Inhale, pull your left knee up while looking toward the sky. Shoulders back and down.
  5. Mountain Pose – Parvatasana: Exhale, come forward from your hips, bringing your hands to the sides of your feet with your fingertips in line with your toes, relaxing your head down.
  6. Eight Limbs Pose – Asthanga Namaskar: Inhale, bring your belly across your thighs, forearms on the thighs, face up toward the sky, shoulders back and down, elbows in toward the midline of the body. Exhale
  7. Cobra – Bjujangasana: Inhale, with your hands beside your feet, lift your upper body, arching your back with your face point toward the sky. Straighten your arms and press through the fingertips.
  8. Mountain Pose – Parvatasana: Exhale, come forward from your hips, bringing your hands to the sides of your feet with your fingertips in line with your toes, relaxing your head down.
  9. Equestrian Pose – Ashwa Sanchalanasana: Inhale, pull your left knee up while looking toward the sky. Shoulders back and down.
  10. Hands to Feet Pose – Pada Uttanasana: Exhale, bend forward from your hips resting your chest on your knees, bringing your hands beside your feet (or on your knees depending on flexibility). Relax your head down.
  11. Hands to Sky Pose – Hasta Uttanasana: Inhale, your hands over your head into Sky Reaching Pose.
  12. Bring your palms together in front of your heart center and breathe in and out through your nostrils.

Notice your heart beating now. The benefits are immediate!

Repeat this same sequence 4 to 6 times.

May
12
0

Hatha Yoga

Hatha Yoga is the yoga of the sun and the moon (Ha and Tha). It’s fun to say Ha Tha. (try saying it while making a chopping motion with your hand. You’ll feel like you’re channeling Bruce Lee. Hatha Yoga is the most commonly practiced form of yoga in the west. It goes by many names. Names you might be familiar with: Ashtanga, Anusura, Vinyasa, and many, many more. All are individual forms or schools of Hatha Yoga. The study of the asanas or postures is based on Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga. Hatha, in Sanskrit, means the joining of the sun and the moon. Yoga comes from the root word yuj which means to joke. Hatha is the yoking or joining of opposites and finding the harmony that exists in the union of those opposites.

The most important lesson in any yoga practice is how to live harmoniously by developing a higher degree of self-awareness. Seeking balance in the midst of the chaos is Ha Tha yoga.

By moving with awareness, we can maximize energy and vigor in our lives. And we also learn to flow with life’s challenges by noticing when our mind and bodies contract and relax. As Bruce Lee would say, “notice that the stiffest tree is mostly easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.”

May
12
0

Meditation

My life was turned upside down a few years ago. I was going along, happy, and feeling – for the most part, successful. I had a great job, a great husband and a wonderful daughter; I had good friends and a great family; my bills were getting paid, we had food to eat. Life was good. And then BAM – life dropped a Tumor-bomb on me. I went from happy and content to a bundle of anger and resentment. My husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2007 and I suddenly found myself moving from his loving partner to his full time care giver. My life was turned upside down and I was pissed! I quickly had to learn how to remain calm for his and my daughter’s sake. No one could reach down and pick me up from this dark pool of grief I found myself swimming in. Exhausted from the struggle, I remembered my meditation practice and I just sat still. I felt the waters of grief engulf me. Choking with despair, I began meditating and experienced an eternal part of me that lived beyond birth and death – it lived beyond struggle and pain. I found freedom and my strength in that dark pool.

Meditation provided the light for me to see the bottom of this dark pool. It allowed me to SEE the emotions that were weighing me down. Emotions that were buried deep inside of me were brought into the light of day to finally be dealt with honestly. We can’t avoid hard times, but we can learn to counteract its negative effects by learning how to move through these hard times with more love for ourselves and others. We can’t love ourselves – we can’t truly love another – without first knowing who we truly are. Meditation is the technology that I used to tune into myself and finally heal these dark emotions. Through inner exploration, I awakened to a part of me that didn’t want to drown in a dark pool of despair – I wanted life.

The most important discovery I’ve made about myself was that I had spent my whole life believing that the source of my happiness, peace, and fulfillment was outside of me. I worried endlessly. I lamented on the past and dreaded the future and spent all those years robbing myself of the present. It wasn’t easy realizing how much time I could’ve spent really BEING with my husband. But I am so grateful that I learned this truth about myself a few months before he died on August 18, 2009. A few months of being fully present with him was more than all the years we spent together. The ache of the loss is always there, but the emptiness is gone, and has been replaced with a deep appreciation for the beauty of what we shared. Meditation is truly the greatest gift I’ve ever been given.

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denise@falconyoga.com