The last few weeks I haven't sent out my blog. I've started writing it, life got in the way & I didn't finish it. This week, as I sat down to write, I felt as if there was a block in the way. I realized it was my own thoughts saying some negative things. What you have to say, is it important? The "you are not good enough" script started causing self doubt on my words.
We all have this negative self talk at times. Usually I can move through them, but October is an exceptionally busy month in my families life. But I've worked through it before, but as I sat with things, I realized that the stress of getting everything done & working through the struggles was taking a toll. I wasn't doing my practice as often so I made a conscious decision to take a couple of weeks off from writing my blog, this would give me the space I needed to find balance again.
Now that life is settling back down, I sat to write & I felt stuck. I thought, I'll let it go for a bit & try again later. However, when I would sit down again & still, could not find the words that felt authentic & mine, more & more negative thoughts kept creeping in. I realized that the stress of life made me allow the negative self talk to not only surface, but start to hang out & fester. The more I wanted to share about Ahimsa, loving kindness, non-harming with everyone, the less I was able to practice it in my own life as effectively as I had thought I was.
So to get unstuck, I decided to share in a very honest way about how I was finding it difficult to practice what I preach.
But I think this is the point. In times of stress, we move away from our practice, from our truth & in the busyness & struggles, we allow the negative to seep back into our lives. We are hard wired for something called the negativity bias. It is a tendency to have a greater sensitivity to negative than positive events. This bias come from our survival mechanism, but in every day events, can cause distress.
So how do I move through this? I realized that I needed to step back from the situation, give it a bit more space. But during that space, I needed to do my practice. When we are too close to the situation, it is like having blinders on, we can't see the bigger picture, we just get stuck on what is right before us, & that is the negative. In-between, what I needed to do on Saturday, I took some time to sit, breathe, feel & meditate, still not inspired, so I decided to sleep on things. When I woke up this morning what I needed to say was running through my head. I also saw that it was not only my own life that was causing me stress, but what was happening in the world. That I needed to take a step back from the news, social media & all connections to these negative influences & work on seeing the good in my life & the world.
Now don't get me wrong, I don't mean that we should hide our head in the sand ignore what is going on in the world. But I needed a pause from the chaos on the news that was seeping into me so deeply, that I was being drawn to the negative. I needed to get back to my practice in a deeper way to get back on track.
As a teacher is at times difficult to share my authentic self when I am not able to live by the things I teach. I feel like a hypocrite, that I am not able to rise above these things. But that is the lesson, we are all human & there is no perfection. There is only the practice, to keep trying again & again, till we make progress. When we falter, to not judge ourselves, but to let it go & more forward from here. Learn from the imperfections & in those cracks let the light in. This has been said over & over by many people, it is our faults that give us the ability to see the light, to get clarity & to learn.
Thank you for letting me share my cracks & imperfections. I did this as much for me as for you who is reading this. To show, we all struggle, but if we can be more honest about how we struggle, we can help each other out. We are not alone, we are all human & will falter.
I added an article (see below) that could be helpful on explaining the Art of Ahimsa & I also put the mantra I sang in class. Both may be helpful, as they were to me, to get back to loving kindness & non-harming in our lives.
Another way to help ourselves though these times of stress, is self care, one wonderful form is massage. I wanted to share that Chad Friel (who is now a Yoga Therapist who did his MRU practicum with me at YogaMcc) has moved to Calgary from Canmore. He is doing mobile massage $100 for 1 hr & $140 for 1.5hr & is well worth the investment. For more information about Chad or to book a session, go to https://www.templetherapeutics.ca
Note: his site is in the progress of being updates, so if you have questions, contact him directly at 403-707-5140 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Lastly, some students were asking about the Om tuning forks I have been using in class. They are a great way to help find balance & can be used on your own, as they are safe & simple to use. The set I use are Mid Ohm Set & can be found on https://soundhealingtools.com/about-ohm-tuning-forks/
Any questions regarding this, don't hesitate to contact me.
Anne Cox E-RYT 500
Do No Harm: The Art of Ahimsa
Practicing ahimsa (non-violence) helps us create a positive, peaceful, and harmonious world for ourselves and others.
by Irene (Aradhana) Petryszak
Ahimsa (non-violence), the first and foremost of the five yamas (restraints) described in the Yoga Sutra, entreats us to live in such a way that we cause no harm in thought, speech, or action to any living being, including ourselves. In its pure form, ahimsa is the spontaneous expression of the highest form of love—an unconditional positive regard for everyone and everything.
When our lives are going well, practicing ahimsa seems easy enough. But when stress and fear start to pile up, our best intentions evaporate, as I discovered many years ago. One day, when I was a young newlywed, my husband got annoyed and called me stupid. I saw red, and instantly a hard-covered book went whizzing toward his head. Luckily, he ducked. It took a moment after the book slammed into the wall before the red cleared and I realized I’d thrown it. Once I could breathe normally again, I was aghast. After all, I practiced yoga; I didn’t go around assaulting people. I couldn’t change the maddening way my husband talked to me, but I could change how I reacted.
After this incident, I started to observe what happened when my temper flared and realized that the first harm I was doing was to myself. I noticed how everything—my body, my breath, my thoughts—became tight and jagged. I lost my center. I would go unconscious and objects would fly. The sages say that to create a peaceful, harmonious environment at home, at work, or in our community, we must first find peace within ourselves. This is a process. By observing our habitual reactions and their consequences, we can learn to stop, take a deep breath, and readjust. As we step back and witness, we can choose to respond in new, more loving and accepting ways.
Watch the Drama Unfold
At first I just paid attention. The book or other object would hit the wall, and I would notice my raised arm. But I couldn’t relate to actually picking up the object and throwing it. It was as if some unconscious trickster had taken control of my hand—and mind. After some months of mindful attention, however, I began to notice the trigger point earlier—just as my hand released the object. Then, after a few more months, just as I raised my hand to throw something. Later still, just as I reached down to pick it up. Finally, it was as I noticed my breath changing, turning ragged, and instead of picking up something to throw, I breathed as deeply and slowly as I could. Sometimes I had to walk out of the room before I could breathe normally again—but I stopped throwing things.
I also examined my mental and emotional habits. I traced my intense reaction back to its original source—my father constantly called me stupid—and observed how my unresolved thoughts and feelings manifested in speech and action. When I detected negative self-talk looping through my mind, I replaced it with my mantra. This is a powerful way to create a positive groove in the mind, one that helps us identify with our higher self.
Even meditating for five minutes deepens our connection with the inner source of unconditional love and wisdom.
Committing to a daily meditation practice has also helped. Even meditating for five minutes deepens our connection with the inner source of unconditional love and wisdom. The sages tell us that if we honor this daily commitment, slowly, over time, our mantra and meditation will loosen—and eventually untie—the subtler knots that bind us at an unconscious level.
With practice, I came to understand that in order to stop reacting to taunting criticisms, I had to be secure within myself. Himsa (violence) arises out of fear, and fear leads to insecurity, which causes us to feel separate from others—alone and misunderstood. Ahimsa, however, at its core, points to the underlying unity in all creation—at the deepest level, we are one and the same. This awareness gradually unfolds as we progress in our spiritual practices. As we choose to live more from our inner center and feel this sense of oneness with others, our personality expands, and we become more kind, loving, forgiving, and compassionate. We come to understand that when we hurt others, we also wound ourselves; and when we don’t take care of ourselves, we negatively affect those around us. The more we can accept and enjoy ourselves, with all our faults and idiosyncrasies, the more we can accept others—even infuriating partners.
No More Drama
This doesn’t mean that we should become a martyr or a “doormat,” mistakenly suppressing our own needs to take care of others. I tried that for a while, but the inner resentment it created eventually caused books to fly. Then I remembered the wisdom of the sage who reminded a bruised and battered snake he had once advised to practice ahimsa: “I told you not to bite, but I didn’t tell you not to hiss.” I did stop throwing things; instead, whenever my husband criticized me, I asserted myself clearly, firmly, and as gently as possible. Sometimes, although I hated to admit it at first, he was right, and I had to learn to see that, too.
When ahimsa is mastered, the Yoga Sutra (2.35) says, one attains the siddhi (power) of peacefulness, and whoever is in the presence of such a person feels peaceful. By taking care of our needs in a balanced and clear way we become healthy, happy, and calm. Then, from that place of balance and wholeness, we naturally want to extend ourselves to others—our family and friends, co-workers, community, the earth, and even our adversaries—in loving service. This is ahimsa in action.
Using the poser of love dervied from Ahimsa points beings in the direction of freedom. Once hate melts away, evil forces that bog an individual down, join hate in its' disappearance. The sanskrit Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu, supports the prevail of love over hate. This sanskrit translates as this: May all beings everywhere be happy and free. A more in depth translantion can be as follows;
Lokah: The location of all universes existing at this moment
Samastah: All beings living in this location
Sukhino: In happiness, joy and free from all suffering
Bhav: The divine mood or state of union
Antu: May it be so
This sanskrit is not a trditional veda sakhas, however it expresses the universal spirit found within all beings. Most commonly chanted near the closing of a meditation or a practice, Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu is absorbed into one' sould to be carried onward into their life.