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Posts tagged ‘exercise’

Let’s Dance

Let’s Dance: Transforming our lives through meditation.
by Lawrence Levy
Tricycle

At a group meditation I led recently, I was discussing the importance of properly preparing for meditation by paying attention to the elements of time, place, and posture. Segyu Rinpoche, Juniper’s founding teacher, was present. At one moment, with a playful look on his face, Rinpoche asked me a question. He wanted to know what I had meant when I mentioned the possibility of placing a flower or a candle in one’s meditation space.

030LetsDance

I understood what he was asking. I was reluctant to share details about my meditation practice, and I knew that Rinpoche believed it was important for me to break that resistance. As he smiled in the background, I took a leap. I described the care I put into my own meditation space—the way I look for just the right flower in my garden, or the perfect orchid at the local market, the attention I pay to making sure the area is clean, and the feeling I experience when I light a candle and imagine it radiating to my family, friends, and others.

I had confessed to my ritual. Later, at the end of the meditation, I said to the group: “You see how Rinpoche was playing with me earlier. It’s like a dance. He prompted, I followed. That’s the dance of meditation, the dance of moving ourselves inwardly.”

Dancing is a beautiful metaphor for the richness of meditation. More than an exercise to focus the mind, it is a transformational journey inward, a means to know ourselves and refine our way of being. It is an art, full of rhythm and beauty, crescendo and quiet. It can be moving, light and joyous. Like removing kinks from a hose, it propels us to overcome our resistances so the best in us can flow.

Sometimes the step onto this dance floor seems like a large one. We don’t want to learn the moves; we’d rather have something quick. We don’t want a relationship with a dance partner; we’d prefer to go it alone. We don’t want to look inside; we want to stay as we are, only freer, happier, and wiser. But freedom, happiness, and wisdom may not arise from merely staying as we are.

The genius of the Buddha—the Indian prince Siddhartha—and many who followed him was the realization that the mind is not static. It is living, breathing, evolving. Because it is the medium through which we experience our lives, there are immeasurable benefits from refining it, sharpening it, and discovering its potential. Therefore, sometimes we have to push ourselves; we have to learn some steps that might at first feel awkward but soon become second nature.

To do this dance takes two sides. On the one is our own effort to grow and refine our way of being and experience. On the other is a partner—a teacher or guide to show us the steps and keep us moving. This requires teachers who know how to transmit wisdom not as ancient knowledge but as living tradition. It calls for a community of individuals, born out of local culture and united by the idea that the inner journey—the dance through which we learn to live fully and freely—is a deep and beautiful way to engage life.

At stake here is not just our own well-being. We live in a time when our narratives are increasingly about what is broken in our world: how the institutions charged with running it are brokers of self-interest and power; how modern governments work for corporations and the wealthy; how media is in an ever-increasing arms race for control of our preferences.

Look for the root of these problems and we end up at the mind—its greed, fear, and craving. If the mind is the root of the problem, then solving the problem—crafting a humanity in which our leaders are stewards of a peaceful, noble, and just world; in which individuals give full expression to their talents and creativity; and in which each person feels relevant and important to the whole—will only come from a change in mind. For this, we have to do the dance that will move us inwardly.

These ideas are not new. A long time ago the Buddha realized the immeasurable benefits to be gained from refining the mind. He also implored his followers not to turn his teachings into dogma but to have the courage to examine the reality we are in right now and to become the best we can be in it.

Read entire article and more at TRICYCLE.

Touching My Toes

“Come on,” my limber wife said, as she left for her Tri-yoga class. “You’ll like it.”

“No,” I replied, every time she asked.”You go ahead. I’ll do my own exercise at home.” And I did do my own, which was a combination of yoga stretches, push-ups and sit-ups. But something about my daily routine felt choppy, put strain on my back and didn’t seem very rounded or complete. I’d done yoga when I was younger, but now I was over 50 and if the truth be told, I was afraid I couldn’t do it well enough in a class and would embarrass myself in front of others. I’ve never been able to stretch very far forward, with my legs straight and always found it frustrating that stretching towards my toes usually got my hands about as far as my knees!

Finally, as a birthday present for my wife, I purchased passes for two sessions of partner yoga and presented them to her on the appointed day. She was thrilled and I was nervous. For the first class I put on whatever loose, yoga-like clothes I could find and set out to not make to much of a fool of myself.

The two men who led the class were very friendly, understanding and relaxed. The first thing they said was, “Make this easy on yourself. Don’t go farther than is comfortable. This is about relaxation, alignment and getting what you need, not how far others think you should or shouldn’t go.”

Their words were like magic. I enjoyed both that class and the next and now do a half-hour of yoga every morning. Oh yes, my fingertips are now almost down to my ankles in the earth-touch pose and I have no doubt that some day soon I’ll even touch my toes!

10 Exercises for Living With Loss

Mourning the loss of someone you love, adore, respect, hate, despise or have any combination of feelings towards takes time and attention, but you don’t have to just sit there and take it.

Sometimes grief can cause such lethargy and exhaustion that it may seem impossible to “do” anything other than get through the day. The irony is that once you get moving, emoting or acting it usually increases your motivation, energy and health.

Once you have taken the time to acknowledge your loss (whatever it may be), feel it’s full impact and the changes it is causing in your life, you can then find ways to relieve, release, expel, create, explore and/or honor those feelings, sensations, thoughts and beliefs.

Though there are thousands of ways to release the pressure cooker of emotion and suffering that death can cause, here are a few possibilities. You can duplicate these actions in your own life or use them as a catalyst for your own unique creations and manifestations of grief. The only precaution is that you do them in a safe environment and/or with people you trust (where you don’t have to censure yourself) and that they not cause others or yourself harm.

1. Scream, wail, moan, sob, laugh hysterically, play music, sing, howl or cry out loud, in the shower, on the floor, into a pillow, at the beach, in the woods or with a trusted friend. After the death of his wife, a friend of mine said he would face the ocean and cry and scream for a few minutes every day where nobody could hear him.

2. Walk, run, swim, workout, hike or bike at least two to three times a week by yourself or with others. A man whose sister died in an automobile accident said running every day is what saved his life and made his loss bearable.

3. Play, listen to and/or dance with music to release and let go of emotional pain and get outside of your ego and transcend your mind. Music and/or dance, in whatever form, can bring you into the moment and decrease thoughts of the past or worries of the future.

4. Breathing exercises, visualizations, relaxation, stretching and yoga have all been shown to relieve stress, anxiety and positive endorphins to help the body heal. After my uncle committed suicide I found that deep breathing and yoga helped give me more energy when I felt sad or depressed.

5. Meditate, chant and/or pray using whatever practice, tradition or belief system you have or hold. Many women and men I know have found that looking at their inner life closely and honestly and surrendering what they see to something (a higher power, god or consciousness) outside themselves, reduces stress, anxiety and sadness and provides deeper acceptance and meaning.

6. Relax in a hot tub, hot bath, shower, sauna or sweat lodge and let the emotions seep from your pores and evaporate with the steam. A colleague whose mother had died suddenly said he attended numerous sweat ceremonies and found that he was transformed with new release and understandings each time.

7. Put together a collage, altar, memory book, picture frame, treasure box, video or audio tape/CD about the person who died. One family made a video of their father/husband before he died, which brought them great comfort in later years. A child I know routinely goes to the memory book she made after her father’s death.

8. Write, talk and/or have a verbal conversation with, too or about the person who has passed away. Many people find that talking to the deceased helps soften the effects of their physical absence and supports them in maintaining an ongoing (though different) relationship and connection with the person who has died.

9. Create a memorial, plant a tree, make a donation, volunteer or dedicate an event, an action or your life to the loved one who has died. Some folks I know have created organizations or make a point of helping a neighbor or relative in honor of the person who died. To do so helps them keep the person’s memory alive by embodying the attributes they admire and wish to hold onto in their own lives.

10. Time does not heal all wounds, but time and attention can help transform the pain of loss. Take a close look at all the facets of your life that have and are being effected by separation and loss and remember that who you are is not defined by your suffering or past experiences. You are not your stuff.

Don’t let this list stop you from finding your own way to act, walk, crawl, run, jump or dance on your unique, individual journey of living with the reality of loss. You don’t have to ignore or try to “get over” grief and mourning by avoiding or suppressing it. Use it as a catalyst, as fertilizer, as and open door for change, growth and transformation. Don’t just sit there, DO something!

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