Taozi Tree Yoga

The seeds we water are the seeds that grow.


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Soap. In. Mouth.

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“I will wash your mouth out with soap.”  We have all heard this before. Right? In the good old days it was a popular method of teaching kids to watch what they say. Since then it has gone by the wayside, as it is a bit harsh, but maybe it needs to be revived?  

Sauca, Patanjali’s first of five niyamas, found in the yoga sutra, is about being pure. We have talked about the importance of being physically clean, and today it is all about clearing up our verbal communication. THIS IS IMPORTANT SPIRITUAL STUFF.  While in Mexico a good friend of mine named Faith said, “Think about how much time we spend carefully examining what we put into our mouths, and yet are totally oblivious to what comes out of it.” For some, this statement might not resonate, but it is a poignant observation to me. Generally, I choose to have healthy people in my life, they inspire me to be a better person, they see the brighter side of myself and push me into fulfilling that role. I’d like to be an inspiration to others as well. Though I practice daily in many areas of life, this is one area I know I sometimes slack on.  By becoming better at observing what comes out of my mouth, I can then inspire the people around me to do the same.

When speaking there are  two simple rules we can follow in order to ensure we aren’t polluting others with our garble. First, use a verbal filter, and second, learn to be ok with silence.

 FILTER

 First, we must put a filter between our brains and our mouths.  Our minds are not the most trustworthy tools of communication, at least mine isn’t. I am a believer in “monkey-mind”. My mind is generally a ceaseless rant of thoughts that jump from point to point, aimlessly, and occasionally drawing up powerful emotions, that are only temporary. When theses emotions or thoughts come up and I am freely spewing my “monkey mind” thoughts out into the open, I could potentially cause harm to others, or myself. It is clear to me that something I want to say is in fact “monkey-mind” if it is the first thought that comes into my head. Instead, I can simply pause and evaluate. Here are some helpful questions to answer that will help you know whether it is ok to speak or better to keep quiet.

 T: Is it Thoughtful?

H: Is it Honest?

I: Is it Inspiring?

N: Is it Necessary?

K: Is it Kind?

 It is a good idea to think about these simple questions before deciding to gossip, even though it is often incredibly easy to make excuses or rationalize for why it is ok. For example, sometimes, people just “deserve” it, according to our monkey minds. Regardless, it is still negative talk and it isn’t good for anyone. Sometimes when talking to a friend about a sensitive issue, we get caught up with our own opinions when really, they don’t need to be shared… So next time you want to open up, simply think, THINK! T: Is it thoughtful? H: Is it honest? I: Is it inspiring? N: Is it necessary? and K: Is it kind? Also, take a look at the following flow chart for more guidance.Verbal-Filter-Flow-Chart

Honestly, I most frequently fall short with the the N: is it necessary? Sometimes I babble on and on simply because I hate awkward silences, and now that I am bringing it to attention, even as I type this I wonder… “am I needlessly babbling now“? I hope not, but it is a good question to consider…  let us just be aware that silence, is ok.

 SILENCE

Being ok with silence is an important quality to have. This is because being true to our own feelings and thoughts means only speaking when we actually want to share something. This may sound silly but it is amazing how often we speak to each other simply to fill empty spaces and avoid awkwardness. Osho says,

 “If you don’t feel like talking, don’t— don’t say a single word that isn’t coming to you spontaneously. Don’t be worried if people think you are going crazy. If they think you have become dumb, accept it and enjoy your dumbness! The real trouble is with people who go on talking and don’t know what they are talking about and why. They go on talking because they cannot stop. In the beginning it feels as though you are losing the capacity to communicate, it is not so. In fact people talk to avoid communication. Just wait, and don’t force anything. Don’t be worried about the silence… Once you have gone deeper into silence then your words carry meaning for the first time. Then they are not just empty words, they are full of something of the beyond. They have a poetry to them, a dance.”

 All I have to say to that is,—    😉

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Additionally:

“Silence is the language of god,  all else is poor translation.” Rumy

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” Ghandi

silence

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Yoga B-i-t-c-%

The last couple of weeks, the first 2 weeks of 2013, I have been trying to reflect on ahimsa. The first Yama in Patanjali’s eight-limb path toward enlightenment means non-violence or non-harming. What if you encounter a vicious cobra or a total b-i-t-c-h (as my sisters and I did last week at a YOGA studio?) Ahimsa. Always… non-harming.

Yesterday I was reminded of this lesson with some beautiful words from Osho:

“The world is an Echo-ing place. What ever we put into the world is what will come back to us.”

osho

We have contemplated Ahimsa in terms of being kind to OURSELVES, and with being kind towards ANIMALS, but what is the primary function of this Yama? To be kind to those around us… to be kind to the world. No matter what.

In his book Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda asks Mahatma Gandhi about the definition of ahimsa. Gandhi said, “The avoidance of harm to any living creature in thought or deed.” Yogananda asked him if it was alright to kill a vicious cobra in order to protect an innocent child. Gandhi said that he would practice ahimsa, non-harming… but he then added, “I must confess that I could not serenely carry on this conversation were I faced by a cobra.”

autobiography of a yogi

The reason for not harming anything seems simple enough- it is the Godly/Spiritual thing to do. Is it anymore complex then that?

In the book Shantaram, the protagonist Linbaba is taught by his teacher Abdel Khader Khan, that sometimes it is necessary to do the wrong thing for the right reasons. Would you kill a cobra of it meant saving a child?  My guess is that most people would. This is a great example of doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. Bhaskar, our yoga teacher in Rishikesh, would say as Gandhi did  and suggest we should ALWAYS practice ahimsa.

Bhasgar

Bhaskar

It is the first Yama listed for a reason. It serves as the backbone for all the other life suggestions made in Vedic texts, therefore, a must. Bhaskar would also probably argue that one should not get involved with the will of the universe. Attacking cobra or not… What do you think?

Cobra

Here in the west…we probably won’t be encountering any cobras in the near future, the closest thing we might meet is the “Yoga Bitch” (THEY EXIST!) This is where AHIMSA is an absolute MUST.

The Yoga Bitc%.

Last week I visited a local studio with my two sisters Andrea and Leah along with a young Ugandan man, Haril, who had NEVER practiced yoga before. We wanted to try out the studio* with a 7 day special priced package. We were greeted by a fiery, abrasively honest, hot yoga teacher. The first couple of days we were astounded by her gruffness and a couple of times we left the studio wanting to say, “Excuse me! Do you realize you are an expletive expletive expletive!?” We prayed. We were KIND. We did NOT cause harm to the yoga cobra…we kept our mouths shut. This provided us with a small miracle. We were given the opportunity days 3,4, 5 and 6 to see that she was a FANTASTIC teacher (especially for the intense type of yoga she was teaching) despite her harshness. She motivated her students, and she was the same with EVERYONE. Her attitude, personality, wasn’t personal, it was a part of her plan to motivate and inspire… and we ended up enjoying (loving) the classes.

Sometimes HUGE lessons can be learned from the cobras in our lives by not doing anything!

ACTION STEP: Be kind towards others always. 

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My gorgeous sisters Leah and Andrea, my yoga companions… and my mom on the far right…

*The studio was The Hot Room in South Denver. We recommend it 😉