Yoga with Mirella Nicholson

Yoga with Mirella Nicholson

Monday, May 28, 2012

Navagating through life

Years ago I had a friend who asked me for my opinion on a situation.  I gave her my opinion but it wasn't what she wanted to hear so she called another friend. And another, and another.  She continued to ask for every one's opinion until she found someone who told her the opinion she wanted to hear. 

I'm recognizing this same pattern in my own search for the answers to all my questions about life.  I keep looking for answers and keep getting frustrated that I'm not finding them (at least not the ones that I wanted).  I get annoyed when I feel like I'm getting ignored by my teachers when I ask questions.  But today, the light bulb went off.   (what can I say? I'm a slow learner)  I already have the answers.....but my crazy monkey mind thinks  "how could it be that easy?" 

As most of you know, I'm in love with the Upanishads.  I read from them constantly.  Right here, in these beautiful teachings, is the road map to the place where ALL my questions are answered.  The road map that leads me to self-realization.   I know this so why am I still searching??

"I know I know but sometimes I forget.  When I remember then I know."

It's almost comical when I realize that I've been searching and searching for something that has been right there all along.  Like when you're going crazy looking everywhere for the keys that are in your hand.

I've had the road map in my hands for years and years.  I've been following the road map without even realizing it.   I guess I thought I was lost because my ego thought I should be there by now.  The road map gives us the route but doesn't tell us how long it'll take to get there.  There being a state of yoga.  

It all depends on how diligently we follow the route, whether or not we take a few detours and how long it takes for us to get back on the right road again.   I've taken several detours into the land of self-doubt. A few onto lazy avenue.  I've even gotten stuck in quicksand on depression alley.  When I unroll the road map I see that even though I thought I was so far off route that I'd never find the way, that's actually not the case.

All that's required is a right turn back to the meditation cushion.  That's where the road to self-realization begins.  In the lotus of our hearts where we merge with Brahman is where the road leads.  

Don't believe me?  Go ahead and try it for yourself. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

What the thunder said....

Holy Hell!! How about them thunderstorms last night?? I was in such a deep sleep when the first roar of thunder woke me I thought for a minute that my house was hit by a train. Don't laugh...anything is possible in your dreams...

Once awake, the worry began. Are the girls home safe? Is the sump pump working?
God, I hope that old tree in the back yard doesn't get struck by lightening. Should I make
the girls sleep in the basement in case that tree falls? It is the nature of my mind to obsess and worry. That's what it does.

When I realized that sleep wasn't going to happen I figured since I'm going to obsess anyway I might as well obsess over something more useful. That's when I get the brilliant idea that I'll think about the Upanishads. I'm preparing to teach an introduction to the Upanishads so it seemed like a logical thing to do. (since when is obsessing logical?)

It just so happens that there's a verse in the Upanishads titled "What the thunder said".
How perfect is that? Only problem was that I couldn't remember exactly what the thunder said. Which of course led to me obsessing over the fact that I couldn't remember the verse and how the hell am I ever going to "teach" the Upanishads.

"The heavenly voice of the thunder repeats this teaching. Da da da! Be self-controlled! Give! Be compassionate!" ~ Brihadaranyaka Upananishad

Eventually, the thunder stopped and my obsessing exhausted me enough that I was able to sleep. Now, in the light of day, I realized a few important things. Aside from the obvious things like, there's no way the house could ever get hit by a train, here's a few others:

* When the mind begins to obsess the only way to get any peace is to direct that
   obsessing to the mantra.
* Since I cannot control the thunder or the lightening it's simply a waste of energy to
   worry about it. Remember to consider the energy that is expended un-necessarily
   when we allow our minds to run wild. It's probably the cause of our feeling exhausted.
* The thought that I am "teaching" the Upanishads is false. The Upanishads ARE the
   teaching. I'm simply introducing these beautiful teachings to others. I am not teaching.
   Remembering once again that the teaching in more important that the teacher.

"The heavenly voice of the thunder repeats this teaching. Da da da! Be self-controlled! Give! Be compassionate!" ~ Brihadaranyaka Upananishad

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

re-posting from last mother's day.........

In honor of Mother's Day I thought I'd share some of the ways that yoga has helped me be a better mom. Actually..... It might be the other way around. Maybe my role as a mom has made me a better yogi. Looks like we have another what came first, the chicken or the egg thing.

The fact that I have 3 children means that in order for me to have time for sadhana I need to get up early.      -Being a mom making me a better yogi.

Practicing Ujjayi breathing while my little one has a temper tantrum helps my Jakey Pie calm down a little quicker.  
 -Being a yogi making me a better mom.

Having children has made my heart burst with love. It has given me the opportunity to experience giving unconditional love.     -Being a mom making me a better yogi.

My meditation practice has given me the clarity of mind to look at my teenage daughter's face and know that something is going on and she needs to talk.     -Being a yogi making me a better mom.

Anyone who has children or has spent time with children, knows that you can plan all you want but the reality is that the kids run the show. There's no point in putting on my control freak hat because in an instant everything changes. This is a practice in letting go.     -Being a mom making me a better yogi.

My daily asana practice makes my body stronger and more flexible. This gives me the ability to run around and play with the kids effortlessly. Even though my son tells me I suck at pitching.     -Being a yogi making me a better mom.

There is no better way to practice self-less service than in the role of a mother. If your sadhana has brought up a lot of crap that you need to process - it doesn't matter. If you are feeling blissed out from your sadhana and you are floating in the ethers - it doesn't matter. There is still work to be done, someone needs to prepare the meals, do the laundry, help a kid with some impossible homework.     -Being a mom making me a better yogi.

Even my basic knowledge of Ayurveda has helped me deal with my children in so many ways. I know their dosha so I know the best way to interact with them. I understand them better and I have a better understanding of why they tend towards certain behavior. I understand how to offer my support in a way that will be best received.     -Being a yogi making me a better mom.

As a mom, it is our responsibility to teach our children about not hurting others, about not stealing, etc.
The yamas and niyamas come to mind here. These are really important concepts that we naturally teach our children. We want them to be good, upstanding citizens and so we teach them by our own example how to treat others, and how to conduct ourselves in society. We live by the principals of the yamas and niyamas in the hope that our children will follow our example.     -Being a mom making me a better yogi.

Well, you get the idea. I could go on and on but if I plan to get up early for sadhana I need to go to bed early (just like my mother told me for years).

                                              Jai Ma! Happy Mother's Day!!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Word of the day: Hope

Photo by Ed Zadlo
For the last few days I've been noticing caterpillars everywhere.  Seeing them has filled me with hope.
Hope that the heaviness that I've been feeling all around me is finally beginning to lift.  I can feel the sun
peeking through the storm clouds and it makes me breath a sigh of relief.

Everyone I encountered and everywhere I looked, it seemed, there was difficulty.  Still, everywhere I look
I see the grace of the Divine reminding me that "this too shall pass".   The reminders come in the words of
a lovely song I've listened to a hundred times. It was the grace of the Divine that helped me to hear the message of those words with my heart.  "the light brought darkness to it's knees".  "The darker the night..the brighter we will shine".  Seeing the caterpillar reminding me of the quote:  "and just when the caterpillar thought the world would end, it turned into a butterfly". 

The thing about caterpillars is that in order for them to transform into beautiful butterflies they need to go through not only the darkness of the cocoon but also the difficulty of making their way out of the darkness on their own.  If someone steps in to try to "help" them by making it easier for them to get out of the darkness they may come out of the cocoon a butterfly but they won't be able to fly.  (it's it)  It's the struggle to get out of the darkness of the cocoon that gives the butterfly the strength they need to fly.

It's the difficulties and challenges of our lives that give us the strength to fly.....

I do wonder if those little caterpillars know that the darkness and struggles are necessary?  Do they know how beautiful they will be?  Do they know the beauty that is within them already?

Do you know the beauty that is within you?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Ancient yogic secret of the egg

Who knew such profound wisdom could be discovered while making dinner? I knew that the answers to all life's questions are answered in the silence of deep meditation. What I didn't realize was that that state of being was available to me even in the midst of doing.  It's in the silence that the answers are heard the loudest. 

As I was cracking eggs to prepare dinner last night I was reminded of a beautiful quote that I read once in Shambhavi's book, Yogini.   It said sometimes like, it isn't until the seed cracks open that the flower begins to blossom.  This profound wisdom isn't something new to me.  I've heard it a million times.  For some reason, last night it seemed like I was finally ready to accept it as truth.   Whether it's an egg, a seed, or a walnut, it isn't until the outer protective shell is broken and discarded that we get to the essence of what it is. 

When you look into the face of a young child you see that pure essence of their being.  They are full of light and love.  As we grow up we begin to build a protective shell around us.  The reasons are many but the result is the same.  Our true essence of light and love becomes harder to see.   We identify more with the protective shell and we forget our true nature of light and love.  This seems to be the greatest source of our suffering.

We could spend our time contemplating why this happens.  We can analyze the different shells.  We could go into the pros and cons of having one verse not having one.  None of these things will expose the light and love that is the essence of our true nature.  The only way to get to that juicy center is to crack open the shell.

The initial smack against the side of the bowl is the most dramatic part for the shell of the egg.  Once the initial crack is made all that's left is to peel away the part that isn't the egg.  The same goes for the seed.  Once it's cracked, it softens so that water and light can get in and soon a beautiful flower begins to blossom.

Some of us get stuck in the trauma of the initial crack that we don't see that the rest is the easy part.  All we need to do is begin to peel away the parts of our being that is the protective shell until nothing remains except our true essence of light and love. 

For some, the cracking comes easier than others.  For some it's a gradual process of awakening.  As we get older and (dare I say) wiser, we realize that some things that used to be so important to us no longer matter.  We begin to gradually let go of those things that no longer serve us.  We slowly return back to the child like state of pure being; filled with light and love.   And isn't that a beautiful thing? 

Who knew a simple egg contained so much spiritual wisdom inside that little shell.   All I had to do is crack it open so that the wisdom could be revealed.....

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Being a yogi requires integrity

The word integrity has been floating around in my head a lot.  Mostly because what I've been aware of is people's lack of integrity.  I remind my children when they go out that even if I don't know what they are doing, God knows what they are doing.  I wonder how many people consider that.  Even when no one is looking, God is looking.  Would you behave the same way in front of God?

I googled the word integrity.  Here's what I got:
in·teg·ri·ty  [in-teg-ri-tee]

1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
2. the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.

On more than one occasion I've been told that I expect too much from people.  It has also been suggested that not everyone thinks like me.  I agree on both points but is it unrealistic to expect people to have integrity?  Look at the definition:  "Adherence to moral or ethical principles; honesty"

I believe that EVERYONE, ALL THE TIME should adhere to moral or ethical principles.  Even more so for those of us who are living our yoga.  Are they not the foundation of our yoga practice?  The eight steps in Patanjali's eight fold path start with our moral and ethical code:  Yama and Niyamas,  Remember those?

When we choose to be a yogi we are choosing to live with integrity.  I've spend much time contemplating what it means to be a yogi and here's what I've come up with. (The top 5 anyway)

*  Making the purpose of our life to achieve self realization - even if it means we discover things along
    the way that we don't like and need to change.

*  To live by the yamas and niyamas - even when no one is looking.

*   We fulfill our responsibilities to our family and community - offering the fruit of our work to God.

*  Learning to see God in everyone - even those people you really want to smack.

*  Daily sadhana - even when we'd rather stay in bed.

Just because you can stand on your head and wear $98. yoga pants does not make you a yogi.  Just because you wear beautiful malas and know how to chant in sanskrit doesn't make you a yogi.  Just because you study yoga doesn't make you a yogi. 

Being a yogi is about how you choose to live your life.  Being a yogi isn't something that you can separate from who you are.  You can't take it off like you do your malas or your fancy pants.  Being a yogi is woven into the fiber of your being.......Even when no-one is looking. 

Integrity: adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.

              the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.