To increase vitality is to increase your capacity for enjoying life. In this video Terence offers his top 5 suggestions on how to boost vitality in your every day life.
The search for perfect posture may be a waste of your time and your client's. Functional posture is a way to ensure your clients ability to perform pain free without unnecessary time spent in rehab and posture training.
There are times when waking up in the morning feels difficult. There are times when an open heart feels like flying. There are times when we feel suffocated by disappointment. For all that's under the sun there is a time.
The practice of Loving What Is has become a cornerstone of my life. And it is just that, a practice. It's not easy to love the shadows of life. It's not easy to love the pain of heartache or sorrow of loss. And by love, I don't mean that it's light, or feels good, or that I like it. This isn't the kind of practice that is about pasting over darkness with positivity. This kind of love is rooted in deep acceptance of all of life.
To me, Loving What Is means that I know, deep in my heart, that all is and will always be ok. That every feeling, thought and emotion is temporary. That my response to whatever is happening is my choice, and that my response will affect my experience of the situation and the unfolding of my reality. It means that I recognize and acknowledge that all of the feelings and experiences, all of the flavors and colors of life count, and that it is the range and contrast of life that makes it beautiful.
Loving What Is means that I practice releasing the illusion of safety and control, and trusting that life is actually just as it should be. It means reminding myself that just because it hurts, or just because I can't see how this challenge will serve me in this moment, doesn't mean that it won't. It means I must remember to let go of the attachments I've held to certain outcomes and actively expand my capacity to see the possibilities beyond my current perception of the situation.
For me this practice usually requires at least a few of the following components:
1. Slowing Down // This is important for me because if I don't slow down I will easily bypass my true feelings with busyness or distraction. Though convenient at first, that avoidance of feeling will ultimately this always come back around to bite me in the ass later.
2. Alone Time // To truly feel the discomfort of whatever it is I'm going through I first have to connect with myself. When I'm feeling pain or sadness it can be easy to avoid my own inner world. It's critical that I take time to go inside and be present with myself.
3. Stillness and Silence // Removing all distractions is uncomfortable but definitely speeds up my process. The sooner I can be with whatever it is that's challenging me, the sooner I can accept and move through it.
4. Breathing // Breath is truly magic. Even just a few slow diaphragmatic belly breaths can calm the mind and nervous system significantly. Shifting out of physiological and emotional stress and anxiety creates an environment for healing, relaxation and peace.
5. Moving and Stretching // I personally hold stress, emotion and tension in my body, and I know I'm not the only one. Some simple rotations of the arms and stretches through the hips, a walk or some dancing will circulate blood and energy to help move through difficult experiences and flow into acceptance and understanding.
6. Meditation // A simple meditation helps to clear and reset my system. I use guided or silent meditation to step out of my thoughts and into an expanded, birds eye view of myself and all that is. In meditation I will visualize myself expanding beyond this time, this feeling, this circumstance. Or I will imagine myself in the sky looking down on my city, my house, my room, my body. I will feel the possibilities beyond my current knowledge by opening up to the vastness of the world, the universe, the unknown.
7. Self Care // It is in times of darkness, contraction, challenge or stress that we most need to love and care for ourselves. By doing what I know feels good to my body I'm taking responsibility for my own self soothing and I can minimize rather than exacerbate discomfort. For me this includes eating well, staying hydrated, getting plenty of sleep, taking a bath, writing or playing music and connecting with people I love.
8. Gratitude // This is the most important component of Loving What Is. When things get difficult or scary, the most impactful thing I can do is return to gratitude. This means that I sink into the humble feeling of appreciation for all of the large and small aspects of life that feel good or supportive, peaceful, soft, exciting, sweet, comfortable, beautiful, and loving to me.
In part one of this post, I described how we can use swordmaking as a metaphor for life. The extremes that a blade is placed under is necessary for it to be forged into the completed vision of a sword.
There is another angle that I can look at this relationship of Swordsmith to sword from. It tells a story of worry. It is a story of patience. It is a story of surrender and Mastery of self.
There is a legend within Japanese swordmaking that a truly worthy blade will have an edge that is so sharp and keen that under it own weight it will cut through a bamboo wall.
A blade worthy of a Swordsmiths’s name will cut through a bamboo wall.
Apparently the blade to be tested will be thrust into a bamboo wall in the evening and by morning if it has not reached the ground under its own weight then it is unworthy of the Swordsmith’s name. Such a blade will have to be discarded and with it, many days of effort.
This offers us a beautiful opportunity to consider the internal space of the Swordsmith during this long night of the sword’s testing. Perhaps in the comparison of our own internal processes to this very simple principle we may find a cure for our worrying.
The great question here is what happens in the mind of the Swordsmith during this long night?
We must appreciate that this night of testing comes after many days or even weeks of determined effort in forging the blade. The night is the testing ground for both the blade and for the Swordsmith.
During the long night of the swords test, how well does the Swordsmith sleep?
I imagine that the Master Swordsmith will sleep restfully during this night whereas the novice will be listless and, will toss and turn in worry.
The novice Swordsmith has not yet refined his skill enough to trust that the blade will reach the floor. If the blade does reach the floor it will be a great sense of success and relief to the novice and he will believe he has attained the sate of Master. For surely the evidence is in the blade reaching the floor, right?
It doesn’t matter if the blade reaches or not.
If the blade does not reach the floor, the novice will feel defeated and small. His skill was clearly insufficient to create a worthy blade and he will grudgingly return to his workshop to begin a new blade. His work will be difficult and tiresome.
The difference between the novice and the Master is not in the blade reaching the floor. It is in what he does with the information of the blade reaching the floor or not that will determine his state of Mastery.
The Master trusts in his effort, not in the outcome.
The Master Swordsmith will trust that he has done his best to create a perfect blade. When he awakes in the morning it will not concern him whether the blade has reached the ground or not. If the blade has reached the ground it is a blade worthy of his name. If it has not, it is a blade that is unworthy of his name. Either way, the Master will return to his workshop in contentment that he has done his best and will continue to do so. He will continue the endless process of perfecting his art.
I believe that we can use this story to help us claim our own space of Mastery. For it is not in the results, or destinations that we reach that determine whether we have attained mastery of life. It is in bringing our fullness to each moment. Whether we succeed or fail in our endeavors, we will learn valuable information about how to proceed. Yet, it is in the way in which we proceed that is our indicator of mastery.
Mastery is yours for claiming, right now if you choose.
To proceed as the Master Swordsmith does with acceptance, patience and equanimity allows us to experience life’s richness of the ups and downs, the challenges and the ease, with Grace.
Vulnerability. A client posed the question to me recently around the idea of connection and openness. She asked if it wise to always be open, to always be connected to those around us? She felt that there was a safety issue at hand and that always remaining open may lead us into places that we can be emotionally hurt.
In considering this question, I had to look at what this idea of safety really means to me. Safety feels to me to be a place where I’m protected from potential hurt, pain and the unknown. Safety is a place of predictability, reliability and security. It’s a sanctuary or refuge for us.
How dreadfully boring.
I’m sure you can imagine all the stock quotes around living life fearlessly, taking risks, going boldly forth and so on. Well, I feel that there’s great wisdom in these clichés about moving beyond safety into the realms of unpredictability, novelty and potentially pain.
Growth tends to happen in this space outside of our comfort zone, outside of our security and safety. And to me, growth is the name of the game. If there’s not some form of learning, growing or understanding being attained then entropy begins to accelerate in all levels of our being and we’ll grow old, in body and mind.
Show me a person without purpose, without desire, without curiosity, and I’ll show you a dying person.
When we heed the deeper calling of our hearts and not the safety craving, controlling aspects of mind, then we may be inevitably led to the very lessons that will hold the greatest opportunities for growth. And yes, this may be an unsafe, potentially painful lesson.
When we are open and vulnerable, we are effectively keeping the inner doors to our very own heart open so that we can have access to the deeper truths that reside within.
Another important consideration is who are we remaining open and vulnerable for? Is it for our loved ones? Our friends? Our community? I believe it is primarily for ourself.
The assertion that we are being open for the benefit of those around us deprives us of the journey into accepting and loving ourselves. I believe that we can only be as open and vulnerable with others to the very degree that we are open and vulnerable with our own self. Our intimacy with our own heart, our acceptance and love for that precious being that is 'me', is the exact measure of our capacity to love and accept others. It is the gauge as to how intimate we can be with the world.
Being truly open and connected all the time is a call to action to embrace our fears of the unknown, our inner shadows and the risk of hurt and/or harm. It’s a call to action to a deeper level of surrender, to an aspect of our self that holds wisdom and knowing that is beyond our egoic mind’s capacity to understand.
It is the journey into the hidden secrets of you.
This is not a practice for the timid and weak of heart. Just sayin’.
If you're looking for a healthy holiday treat these cookies are simple and quick to make, high in protein, low sugar, gluten free, vegan and so delicious. They're basically magic in a cookie.
Salted Tahini Cinnamon Cookies
•1 cup tahini • 1/2 cup g-free flour • 1/2 cup melted coconut oil • 1/4 -1/2 cup coconut sugar • 1 tsp cinnamon • 1 tsp vanilla • 1/2 tsp sea salt
Stir up the wet things. In a separate bowl stir up the dry things. Mix it all up together. Put parchment paper on a baking sheet. Form dough into little balls and flatten to your liking. Top with a sprinkle of Maldon (large) salt. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 min or until light brown on the bottom. Let them cool to firm up.
I think I first heard the term ‘incidental exercise’ about 20 years ago when I was at University studying exercise physiology. The term had obviously arisen from a need to encourage people to move more regularly due to our typical lives becoming far too sedentary.
To me, an interesting point to consider is that prior to the coining of this term, our language had no need for such a reference. Incidental exercise was built into the simple process of living life. Which means that the arrival of this phrase corresponded with a significant change in movement habits, specifically that we stopped moving regularly.
Before we had escalators to carry us up stairs, before online shopping to deliver us our goods, and before email and instant messaging enabled us to communicate more efficiently with people anywhere that had service, including in the very next room… Before these ‘conveniences’, we had to use our bodies to fulfill these tasks.
A realization that came to me some time ago was this:
"The more convenient our lives become, the less healthy we become."
Consider the invention of the washing machine, the blender, the chainsaw, tractor, sewing machine and the stove. Without these devices the physical labor required for any one of these tasks would have been a significant effort. Have you ever tried washing your clothes on river stones with your hands? Holy moly! My guns got more of an intense workout than most gym sessions I have done. How about cutting wood with a handsaw, or grinding grains with a mortar and pestle? Let alone tilling a field with a hand held hoe.
The convenience of these modern additions to our lives is undeniable. Who wants to go about collecting wood and lighting a fire through a friction method to be able to cook the dough you just ground and kneaded by hand, when instead we can use a gas fired modern oven to bake the cake that came in a package from the store?
The benefits of these conveniences are that they have freed up so much time for us to get on with living. However, some of these choices of ‘living’ that we’re making are killing us. Instead of supplementing the lack of movement through daily tasks, we have chosen to become more sedentary. Sitting in front of a television, computer screen or steering wheel has made us very stationary, seated beings. According to Dr James Levine, ‘sitting is the new smoking’ and our sedentary lives are killing us in greater numbers than smoking does, or HIV for that matter. It makes us more prone to chronic illnesses like cancer, heart disease and diabetes. In fact, worldwide, it is estimated that a sedentary lifestyle is responsible for 6% of coronary heart disease cases, 7% of type 2 diabetes, 10% of breast cancer and 10% of colon cancer cases. Convenience sure did free up a lot of time for us to go about living! (tongue in cheek)
A sure fire remedy for this scourge of convenience is to simply bring back some inconvenience… you know, doing stuff with your body. Incidental exercise may well be the amazing remedy to many of our life’s woes. That choice to walk to the store rather than drive, or the opportunity to take the stairs rather than the lift may, in the accumulated experience over time be the mysterious magic bullet you have been looking for.
Its not about exercise, it’s about movement!
The quick fix of the hour-long personal training session once a week, or the high intensity interval workout may in fact hurt you more than help you. Trying to cram in a weeks worth of movement into a single session or perhaps two, will often place your underused bodysuit in a position of high stress with high risk of injury. Your hormonal system will also catch a beating as it will be well underconditioned to accommodate this level of physical stress.
Movement needs to be seen as a medicine that is given at regular intervals at the correct dose and needs to be the correct type for each individual.
True change comes when we truly change ourselves.
When we embrace the inconvenience of performing tasks that require physical effort, and can actually find joy in the process, then I believe we will have unlocked an incredible advantage over those racing to the closest space in the supermarket parking lot. We will have shaken off the mad lust for the latest gadget that can free us of the need to move our body and instead started looking for opportunities to move! A return to movement for the pure sake of it evokes a strange familiarity with the idea of childlike exuberance. It smacks of playful curiosity, and youthful expression.
· When did you last move simply because it was a pleasure to?
· Is the only exercise you do because you feel you have to?
· Has exercise become another job that you feel compelled to do in order to feel like a viable human?
Its time we changed our internal framework around the idea of exercise;
· What if we changed the name of exercise to its rightful origins of ‘movement’?
· What if movement was a fundamentally integrated process of living?
· What if the truth is that Movement is Life?
I believe so.
And so it is… for me :)
I was recently on a coaching call and an interesting metaphor for life came up in our conversation – that of the forging of a blade. It really had me pause and enjoy the parallels to my own experience of the ever-changing ebb and flow of life to this apt metaphor.
This metaphor is of a Samurai sword being forged - being taken from raw material through a refinement process into one of the most beautiful and effective tools in human history. I imagined the sword itself as our personality, the Swordsmith as our higher self and the various processes of forging (heating in the coals, folding (forge welding), the hammering on the anvil and the cooling in the oil or water) as the various events of our life that pose unique challenges.
The Sword is us, the Swordsmith is our Higher Self and the forging process is Life.
When the Swordsmith begins the process of crafting the blade he knows that the sword must go through a rigorous forging process to bring out its full potential. He realizes that to make the keenest, strongest and most flexible blade that holds its edge long into the battle, it will requires great skill, effort and time.
During the process the Swordsmith lovingly uses his keen eyes and other senses to find the tiniest ‘imperfections’ lying hidden inside the metal. He stays present with the process of the sword knowing that the folding, beating, heating and cooling are essential to bring out the hidden places where the blade will show weakness under the strain of use.
Life offers us times when we become ‘soft’ from comfort and ease.
Part of the forging is to heat the blade by placing it into a furnace. This heating process is designed to soften the blade readying it to be malleable to the strikes of the hammer. To me, this represents the time in our lives of comfort and ease. Things are going well and there are few challenges for us. We ‘soften’ as a result of this time away from challenges.
For me this is when I have low financial stress, my work is going well, I have easy relationships and my overall experience of life is pretty ‘cruisy’. It is not unusual for me to think during these times, “ahh.. life is going to be like this forever! I’ve finally made it to the ‘other side’!”
The sword is of course drawn out of this cozy warmth and placed squarely on an anvil where it is then struck repeatedly with a hammer. As a result the blade edge begins taking its shape and becomes more defined. The rough edges are exposed and brought back into alignment with the initial vision of the Swordsmith.
Life can sometimes seem like you are being beaten by a Smithy’s hammer!
This is quite a graphic depiction of what it has often felt like going through some tough times in my life. Feeling the pressure of not only a tough life situation, but also the experience of my own internal stories of self pity, victimhood and mistrust becomes plainly evident.
In Japanese swordmaking, the metal is also folded on itself many times and then hammered together again in a process called forge welding. To me, this process is like the moments in life when we experience truly great challenges and stress. It is when we have to completely re-shape ourselves to fit our new environment and these pressures of life force us (sometimes with great suffering) to ‘bend over backwards’ and also bring out latent qualities of our personality allowing us to find our unique gifts.
This process continues with the tempering, sharpening and so on.
Life’s journey, like that of the sword, is complex, intensive and demanding for many of us, much of the time.
My question is whether we can trust that the Swordmaker holds a vision of our unique and beautiful self that we are coming into? Can we surrender to this ebb and flow of ease and challenge in life with the deeper understanding that it serves purpose – our purpose? What if life is the process of refinement of our raw selves into the beautiful product of existence’s forge?
Can we choose in the moments when our blade is resting on the anvil after being heated to near melting point and then being repeatedly hammered, in those moments when it can seem like all the forces of existence are working against us, that in fact we are in a beautiful, perfect process designed specifically for our own becoming?
Can suffering have purpose?
Finding purpose in suffering appears to be the key to these questions for me. When we can see how our suffering is a teacher guiding us to the very parts of self that are holding onto a story that no longer serves us, we can then surrender to the Swordsmith, allowing our shape to be defined and redefined, to be softened and hardened precisely in the ways that we need for our true self to emerge and know itself as perfection.
My favorite meditation, Osho Kundalini, is perhaps the most comprehensive active process regarding Kundalini energy, and the what, why and how to access it in a nourishing way, given to the world by a contemporary enlightened master. I say this because any meditation that is a ‘favorite’ is, by my own nature, suspect.
Does that ‘favorite’ ranking mean the mind loves it and can, therefore as it is want to do, get itself all wrapped around it to make it a meditation technique that can fall under its yammy-ing and dominant control? Because, that is mind’s M.O. Remember, the mind does not want to meditate. If the meditation is on purpose, on point, and of worth it puts Mind as the servant it is meant to be and, Being back on the throne of this Leela – a place where mind is very uncomfortable, and generally grumpily does not care to abide. So it finds any excuse, illness, or world event it can to not have to meditate.
Tough mangoes! Kundalini is a favorite of mine because it is Osho Dynamic Meditation's sister meditation, active and available for releasing tension and stress, and is presented in a cogent, healthful way to approach learning and experiencing Kundalini energy. Taking in the considerations about missteps that can lead to ineffective at best, or damaging practice at worst, this is one of Osho’s main significant gifts to the world – those meditations of ancient power translated into accessible modern praxis.
So, here it is… and you are invited!
OSHO Kundalini Meditation
This “sister meditation” to the OSHO Dynamic is best done at sunset or in the late afternoon. Being fully immersed in the shaking and dancing of the first two stages helps to “melt” the rock-like being, wherever the energy flow has been repressed and blocked. Then that energy can flow, dance and be transformed into bliss and joy. The last two stages enable all this energy to flow vertically, to move upwards into silence. It is a highly effective way of unwinding and letting go at the end of the day.
Osho on How to Shake
If you are doing the Kundalini Meditation, allow the shaking – don't do it! Stand silently, feel it coming, and when your body starts a little trembling, help it, but don't do it! Enjoy it, feel blissful about it, allow it, receive it, welcome it, but don't will it.
If you force, it will become an exercise, a bodily physical exercise. Then the shaking will be there, but just on the surface. It will not penetrate you. You will remain solid, stonelike, rocklike within. You will remain the manipulator, the doer, and the body will only be following. The body is not the question, you are the question.
When I say shake, I mean your solidity, your rocklike being should shake to the very foundations, so it becomes liquid, fluid, melts, flows. And when the rocklike being becomes liquid your body will follow. Then there is no shaker, only shaking; then nobody is doing it, it is simply happening. Then the doer is not.
Enjoy it, but don't will it. And remember, whenever you will a thing you cannot enjoy it. They are reverse, opposites; they never meet. If you will a thing you cannot enjoy it, if you enjoy it you cannot will it. - OSHO
Here's How It Works:
The meditation is one hour long, with four stages.
First Stage: 15 minutes
Be loose and let your whole body shake, feeling the energies moving up from your feet. Let go everywhere and become the shaking. Your eyes may be open or closed.
Second Stage: 15 minutes
Dance ... any way you feel, and let the whole body move as it wishes. Again, your eyes can be open or closed.
Third Stage: 15 minutes
Close your eyes and be still, sitting or standing, observing, witnessing, whatever is happening inside and out.
Fourth Stage: 15 minutes
Keeping your eyes closed, lie down and be still.
Join us to practice Osho Kundalini every Friday at Divinitree Yoga in Santa Barbara at 3:30pm in the Moon Room. For questions or more details email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 805-669-8770.
I have heard:
Yoga Yammy, the Hollywood celebrity yogi, climbs up a downtown flagpole and begins shouting nonsense as loud as he can. The cops arrest him and he’s charged with disturbing the peace. Later, he’s sent to Dr. Feelit the hipster Santa Barbara psychiatrist, for examination.
“How do you explain your behavior?” asks the shrink.
“It’s like this, doc,” replies Yoga. “If I don’t do something crazy once in a while, I would go nuts!”
Go. Consciously. Mad.
This is one of the basic instructions of Osho's famous Dynamic Meditation:
"Someone has said that the meditation we are doing here seems to be sheer madness. It is. And it is that way for a purpose. It is madness with a method; it is consciously chosen.
Remember... If you go mad voluntarily, that's a totally different thing (...) let go of everything that needs to be thrown out. Go totally mad.... Sing, scream, laugh, shout, cry, jump, shake, dance (...) hold nothing back, keep your whole body moving. A little acting often helps to get you started." – Osho (The Orange Book, p.33 + Meditation: The First and Last Freedom, p.37).
Dynamic Meditation rolfs the psyche and breaks open the prison of patterned reactions. And, it can save your life!
That is my experience.
So… why meditate?
Besides all the proven and documented information stating that it is good for your physical health - relieving stress, aiding in digestion and sleep, calming anxiety, reducing heart disease, opening compassion and love in the heart, simply and naturally experiencing an organic connection with earth, etc. – and besides it getting kudos from Hollywood celebrities and the popular OprahChopra matrix of the mainstream media, and besides it being the fundamental roots of any practice of yoga – which means first meditation, then all the breathing, asanas, focusing, stretching, learning and burning stuff – I asked myself, why meditate?
I wanted an answer from myself after over 40 years of meditating that was not from everything I’d heard, or read or researched. Just from my experience.
Because it transformed the world for me. My world. Planet Satya has become just what I felt it needed to be. Home. Deep, real, loving, imperfect and perfectly so. And here’s the tough part to get, perhaps. My world is your world. You are in my world. So you are transformed cuz here you are. Shadow and light, you are blessed, and exactly who you are supposed to be, and doing the best you can, and I love you for it. It’s just how it is. You're welcome ;)
But that’s just me. Here’s Osho’s take on why meditate:
“Meditation is a way of settling in oneself, at the innermost core of your being. Once you have found the center of your existence, you will have found both your roots and your wings.
The roots are in existence, making you a more integrated human being, an individual. And the wings are in the fragrance that is released by being in contact with existence. The fragrance consists of freedom, love, compassion, authenticity, sincerity, a sense of humor, and a tremendous feeling of blissfulness.
The roots make you an individual, and the wings give you the freedom to love, to be creative, to share unconditionally the joy that you have found. The roots and wings come together. They are two sides of one experience, and that experience is finding the center of your being.
We are continuously moving on the circumference, always somewhere else far away from our own being, always directed towards others. When (…) you close your eyes to all that is not you –even your mind, your heartbeats are left far behind – only a silence remains.
In this silence you will settle slowly into the center of your being, and then the roots will grow on their own accord, and the wings too. You need not worry about them. They come on their own.
You simply fulfill one condition: that is, to be at home – and the whole existence becomes a benediction.”
Osho: The Osho Upanishad, #9
That’s a wake up call. Either way, I am clear about it. Meditation not only transforms life, it saves lives. May your yoga do that as well. And to further it along, perhaps, I invite you. Come meditate. Come to Temple and meditate. These Osho meditations will rock you. Dynamic, Kundalini, Laughter, Gibberish… these are just a few of the clean, fresh cool water baths for the psyche we are sharing.
So why meditate? Cuz you’re invited! Come take a cold bath in the Spring of Soul. And it’s time to come home. My world needs you. So does yours. Go. Consciously. Conscious.
Join Swami Satyadharma for Osho Dynamic Meditation every Monday 7:45-8:45am at Divinitree Yoga & Arts Studio. Find details here: http://www.templesb.com/schedule