Yoga with Mirella Nicholson

Yoga with Mirella Nicholson

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Lost: My inspiration

I haven't been feeling very inspired lately.  I sit down to write and nothing comes to me.  When something does come to me I can't find the words.  Writing isn't the only thing I don't feel inspired to do.  I haven't felt inspired to do much of anything.  I made it through Christmas without baking one cookie, without sending one Christmas card, without even putting out the Christmas hand towels.  My Zia so kindly pointed out that I used to do a lot of stuff that I no longer feel inspired to do. Why have I lost interest even in the things that used to bring me joy?

Where did my inspiration go?  More importantly, how do I get it back?

I suppose the first thing we should examine are the things that zap us of inspiration:

1) fatigue
2) stress
3) illness
4) mental exhaustion
5) poor diet
6) cold, wet weather

I'm sure there are many others but those are the ones that come to mind right now. Well, I can see what's zapping my inspiration.  How about you?  Now, let's examine some ways that we can get back the inspiration to do the things we love to do.

So what's the opposite?

1) fatigue?   Get more rest
2) stress?    Do more yoga/meditation...Slow, conscious breathing
3) illness?    Take care of ourselves... i.e.  rest, eating properly, exercising
4) mental exhaustion?  all of the above with an emphasis on meditation
5) poor diet?  Putting down the cupcakes and cosmopolitans is a good start
6) cold, wet weather?  Well, there isn't much we can do about the weather but we can adjust our
    practice and our diet to balance out the cold and wet feeling. Eating soups and try 12 sun salutations for
   generating some heat in the body.

That was pretty simply. So why aren't I doing them? I don't know.   I know what I need to do but I don't always do it.  Why? I don't know.  I allow myself to get stuck in non-action.  I find myself daydreaming not about yoga but about crawling into my bed with the covers over my head and staying there still spring!!

When 5:30am rolls around and it's cold and dark.......the prospect of rolling out the mat doesn't seem so appealing.  I know I'll feel better once I practice but I'm not gonna lie..... It's hard to get out of bed. 

When it's raining and cold outside.......the prospect of going to a yoga class doesn't seem so appealing.  I know I'll feel better once I practice but I'm not gonna lie.....It's hard to get out the door. 

When it's warm under the covers on sofa..... the prospect of getting up to make a healthy meal doesn't seem so appealing.  I know I'll feel better after a healthy meal instead of junk food but I'm not gonna lie..... It's hard to get off the sofa.

At times like this, I would suggest that we do not entertain the board of directors in our mind.  They are debating about the pros and cons of sitting on the sofa under a blanket verses the pros and cons of getting to yoga class.   Don't go on debating....Don't think..... just act!!! You know you'll feel better after yoga.

Believe me,  I can think of a million reasons why it's better to stay in bed all day but instead...... I'm going to jump out of bed before my mind begins convincing me that I need to sleep a little longer.  I'm going to roll out my mat quickly before my mind convinces me that I don't feel good and I need to go back to bed. 

Once I'm there I know I'll feel better.  I know what I need to do.  Now I just have to do it!!  There's no harm in not baking cookies or sending out Christmas cards.  There's certainly no harm in not putting out the reindeer hand towels.  But not practicing does cause harm.....It zaps away my inspiration to do the things that I love. 


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Who's driving your chariot?

Who needs cupcakes and cosmopolitans when you have yoga?

One of the students in my Tuesday evening yoga class calls this pose the "bong hit" pose.  She says it feels that good.  Recently I read an article about some researchers who were studying whether or not LSD and "magic" mushrooms had the same effect on people as yoga/meditation.  Wasn't that already studied by Ram Das and Tim Leary back in the day?  Oh, what do I know anyway?

Well, what I do know is what I experience for myself.  I have NO experience with LSD or mushrooms and I don't even know what a bong hit is so I have no idea how they compare to my meditation experience.   What I do know is the effects of my practice and how it compares to the effects of cupcakes and cosmopolitans. 

Yoga philosophy tells us that even things that bring us pleasure will eventually cause us suffering when we are driven by our senses.  I would agree with that.  The cupcakes are really delicious when you're eating them.  There's no denying the pleasure there but it will inevitable lead to suffering when you can't button your pants. Who doesn't enjoy the pleasures of the warm, fuzzy feeling you get from a good cosmo but do I even need to mention the suffering that follows?  The same is true with all desires which are driven by our senses. 
Or is it? 

Honestly, it's my desire to experience pleasure that calls me to the yoga mat some days.  Will that eventually lead to suffering too?  There's no denying that sitting at a desk for 7 hours a day is causing me suffering and what got me through the day yesterday was knowing the pleasure that would come from an SD yoga class.
The flow of last night's yoga class was certainly as delicious as a red velvet cupcake and I left with the same warm, fuzzy feeling I get from a cosmo.  As I drifted off to sleep I thought to myself, "who needs cupcakes and cosmopolitans when you have a yoga practice?"  But will my desire for the pleasures of  yoga eventually lead to suffering?

My understanding is that our desires and our senses are necessary but what's important is who is in control. The Upanishads talk about our senses being like wild horses, our desires being the road they travel, our body is like a chariot, and our mind the reins.  What's needed is the discriminating intellect to be the charioteer.  Without it we will suffer. 

My discriminating intellect tells me that my desire for the pleasures of yoga is a way better choice than my desire for the temporary pleasures I experience from cupcakes & cosmos.  It is the practice of yoga that helps me turn my senses inward and reminds me that my desire for self-realization is really road I want to travel.   It's the practice of yoga/meditation that helps me to use the "reins" of my mind to bring the "wild horses", my senses, under control.  To quote the Upanishads "with the senses under control, the mind becomes pure."  I'm guessing that when the mind is pure we experience the ultimate pleasure of samadhi.

So the conclusion of my own "research" is that Yes, yoga/meditation does have the same effect as cupcakes and cosmos with the exception that after yoga I'll still be able to button my pants and I'll be praying to the God within and not the porcelain God.