Healthy Addictions and Self Worth

Healthy Addictions and Self Worth

 

Sept 2017

Purification Mantra

Om Apavitrah

Pavitro Wa

Sarva Avasthaam

Gato Api Wa

Yah Smaret

Punnddariikaakssam

Sa Baahya

Abhyantarah Shucih

Hari OM

Meaning

Om if one is Apavitra (Impure) or Pavitra (Pure), or even in all other conditions,

He who remembers Pundarikaksha (Another name of Sri Vishnu, literally meaning with Lotus-like Eyes) He becomes Pure outwardly as well as inwardly.

Addiction- the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity.

Synonyms:

Dependency, habit, problem, devotion to, dedication to, obsession with, infatuation with, passion for, love of, mania for, enslavement to

The word addiction can typically have a bad reap, especially if you have experienced yourself or had someone in your life who has become powerless with an addiction. The reality is we all have addictions at different intensities and different extremes. We all have things we “use” in order to achieve a desired state of being. Conscious people also know the danger of using anything to expect a specific outcome can lead to inevitable disappointment. The reality of life is that we never know how anything is going to turn out. When something has worked for you for years doesn’t mean it always will. As evolving creatures we have to stay aligned with our highest intention, that is in relationship to God and to know what that looks like from moment to moment.

Substances, Activities and living circumstances

Do you find yourself needing any substance to feel better? Coffee in the morning, sugar in the afternoon? Ice cream or a big steak after a long, stressful day as a treat? Maybe you prefer the alcoholic beverage in the evening to unwind or a cigarette. These are all external substances that are going to give expected results. Maybe a dopamine release, (the feel good drug), or a psychological, AHHHHHH. We can also call them self medication or coping tools. Then there are self improvement activities like lifting weights, running, biking, hiking, meditation, yoga, journaling, dancing, baths, reading something inspirational, the list can go on and on. It seems like the activities are more positive than the substances right? We are taking action to do something, to create a shift in perception, it typically generates a movement forward. What makes these substances or activities addictions? When you use something outside of yourself to generate a switch in feeling, mood or perspective. Usually a relaxing, energetic rise, or a joyful feeling is what you seek. Therefore creating a need or a dependency on that thing. There are also lifestyles or relationships that we get addicted to; abusive, codependent or unhappy relationships. Like the workaholic who doesn’t spend anytime with their family. Sometimes our addictions stop serving us, when circumstances change. Like a biker who hurts their knee but keeps biking. You can be so addicted to the feeling you are seeking through our addictions that you lose the ability to be adaptable and change a habit when that something no longer serves you. You become powerless at some point to this thing and lose yourself within it. You become so identified with the thing that it gives you a sense of accomplishment that without it you feel lost.

Self Destruction and Self Worth

For anyone who has truly been addicted to a harmful substance or a toxic relationship sometimes it’s clear that it is in direct relationship with how you view yourself. Of course, this can stem from your subconscious mind, or the way you were raised. Typically no one has been taught how to love, nourish and honor oneself. Sometimes it feels easier to self destruct rather than construct yourself, because that is what feels familiar. It feels more comfortable to do what you know is harmful for you because it is harder to change and try something new. It seems scary to do something you have never done before.

Listening to the Intuitive Voice

Just because something has brought you great happiness and relief at some point in your life doesn't mean that you will always need it. That thing may move into needing something else, or better yet maybe not at all. I am not saying stop working out or having a candy bar sometimes, but the more reflective practices you do the more you will be able to listen to the intuitive voice inside of you, that is directly linked to Source guiding you. Sometimes you are exhausted and you usually get up at 5am and run 5 miles, sometimes the intuitive voice tells you sleep in, but it's the ego that says get up go run. Addictions can become just a check n the to do list. It is said of everything in moderation. What begins to happen is that you listen to the voice enough you start to step away from your addictions and do things differently. It begins to open new pathways to living that you may have not known existed. It also starts to show you that you don’t need that thing to be. You can rest inside yourself in a state of knowing that you have everything you need. What if you broke your wrist and you couldn’t do yoga, your addiction for 3 months? You may go crazy because you are so attached to the idea that the practice is what makes you happy, peaceful, content. As a human being you are constantly seeking something; happiness, love, joy, success outside of yourself. You become identified to what you do or have to make you whole. Then if you ever can’t do that thing or have that thing we feel broken or hopeless. All the healthy addictions are tools. Tools to bring you into the inherent state of knowing within yourself. The state of yoga where nothing is missing. The tools are opportunities to guide you within enough that one day, maybe you don’t need them to feel complete. Then your intention of doing them becomes pure. Not an autopilot routine, or something to feel identified or accomplished by, but just something that you enjoy doing now that you are dependent on. Schedules get busy and some days you won't have time to do self care, are you going to let it ruin your day or are you going to make it? Could you find a way to be with yourself and love yourself as you are? Self worth is about loving all of you. No matter what you do or don’t do. No matter what you have achieved or not. Nothing defines or identifies you but your own willingness to be just as you are.  

Self Transformation can be an addiction

If you are anything like me you can fill your whole day with self care and self help activities.  When those moments of realization arise and you feel like you are transforming and becoming a better person, that Aha in itself can be very addictive.  Seeking more of that uncovering and discovering and changing.  The spiritual work can become constant like it is a job within itself.  

Whever attention goes energy grows.  What if you are constantly trying to make yourself a better person yet underneath your action the thought is that you need to be fixed?

What if you could use life itself as the practice of presence, self acceptance and healing in everything that you did.  In the daily activities of eating, interacting, reacting, rather than just taking an hour or two each day to become zen.  You have to practice things to therefore become them, but eventually you will become what you seek.  The practices will become a gift, a blessing, a tool you can use but not that you need.

 

Annitya The ever changing Impermanent reality

Annitya The ever changing Impermanent reality

Aug 2017

Life has the illusion of seeming that every day can be the same. We have the same routines, hang with the same people, do the same job, eat the same food. The mind’s perception then gets stuck on the sameness of reality. The truth is that there are too many different variables for life’s shifting moments to be the same. It takes a fine tuning of your awareness to the details to perceive the subtle changes that are constantly happening in the sameness. When you can heighten your attention to annitya, you clearly realize that holding onto anything is unnecessary it is all going to change. That is the nature of life.

Sensation and feeling

You as a human being have an amazing capacity to feel and feel deeply. The body speaks to you in a language called sensation. Sensation can carry with it emotion or memory. Sensation can be physical gross sensations, or energetic sensations. Sensation can be localized in a particular area, or felt in the whole being. When we practice feeling sensations as they rise and rest with them until they change we can experience the impermanence of change, annitya. The trick is to awaken your witnessing consciousness, the sakshi, where you can watch what you feel in a detached, balanced matter in mind and heart. That means that there is fewer labels, language and reacting to the sensation. When you can rest patiently in the feeling and orient your attention to the subtle details you will notice how does it change, when, does it barely change, what is the quality of the feeling; hot, cold, tingling, prickling, pain, dull, achy? Without reacting you just witness. You practice giving space from the time the observation enters the mind when the mind wants to analyze or judge it. Try feeling more with fewer words.

The Nature of the mind

When you start to practice mindful attention to sensation you may notice it likes to create two scenarios with sensation. One is when you feel something pleasant the mind says. ”Yes, I like this, may this stay and can I please have more.” that creates a desire, (raga), a want, a craving. Craving then turns into clinging, which then turns into an attachment. It can be a trap for the spiritual seeker, that once you start doing these practices, you find a way to feel happy, peaceful and joyful, you expect you have risen to an enlightened plane and therefore won’t feel sadness, anger or loneliness. The mind may also witness a sense that is not pleasing and it may think. “I don’t like this, why is this happening, please go away, I can’t stand this, I can’t handle this.” That creates an aversion, (dvesha), avoidance, which can lead to self medication or disassociated. Often the mind thinks how can I find the good feeling and avoid the bad one? You see it is all in the mind’s perception. A sensation is a sensation. It is how the mind judges or labels what it feels to how you react.

Find Equanimity

By feeling what you feel, when you feel it, without judgement, you will start to train your mind to remain balanced in pleasure, in aversion. You will learn how to detach, (vairagya), from the experience like it identifies you. You will learn to remain present in the rise and fall of change, engaged yet almost emotionless. When you can rest in sensation, it can start to up root sensations linked to past emotions or experiences that are stored in the energy system and the tissues of the body. These impressions or (samkaras), being up rooted through meditating on sensation and annitya can assist you in a clarity of being. It can teach you how to rest in the pause after you observe an experience which will teach you how to respond in your life with conscious action, rather than unconscious reaction. Teaching you how to trust your choices, because they come from a balanced mindful place. This meditation practice can be applied in seated practice, in yoga asana or in living life. Good luck, may you find balance in all your endeavours.

Technique

When you sit for meditation watch the breath at the tip of the nose.  This technique is called anapana in the Vipassana tradition.  As you watch the breath at the tip of the nose find a relaxed, alert objective state of being.  As you scan the body in meditation or asana rest in the sensation until it changes.   

 

 

Focus of the Month

Focus of the month

From my Jivamukti background, there is a theme that is written every month and sent out to all the teachers to share and inspire for the month.

This really resonated with me as a student because it gave me something to focus on. A theme that I contemplated on my mat, and in my life. I enjoy this as a teacher because it gives me something to dive deep into. Not only in how I am going to present the material, but how I am going to apply these concepts into my life and teach from a place of lived experience or living yoga.

Although I do not teach jivamukti anymore, it has built a solid foundation for me as a teacher and I have continued the tradition of the focus of the month in my own teaching.

It gives me the opportunity to write, to expand my knowledge and practice what I preach for the month that I share these teachings with you, the students and dedicated yoga advocates.

I love that it breeds and feeds yoga community. So when we are not together practicing and breathing in class, the teachings are speaking to you in your life and we can allow the wisdom of yoga to reveal its blessings in our life. Our separate lives yet together in spirit and yoga.

Enjoy!