One of my favorite mantras: Begin Again. So simple. So non-judgmental. Start something then stop? Begin again. No need to over think anything. Just begin again.
I have some athletic accomplishments in my history. But its been a while, like 2-3 years. And here is the thing with me, I am not a naturally fast runner or cyclist. I can become fast with hard work and consistency but I am not no-training-hop-off-the-couch-and-go fast. I truly have to work hard, and it’s painful. Painful in a good way when I am done with a hard workout, but it takes serious motivation to work that hard.
I bring this up because I have been feeling the call to physically work that hard again. To put myself through the ups and downs and resistance-surmounting required to achieve athletic goals. But, here is the thing, I have to start at the beginning. I have significant ground to cover and I am not any younger this time around.
Yesterday, I did my first speed workout (running) in a couple of years. I was so scared before I started that I was shaking. Which is RIDICULOUS, by the way. And I thought to myself, begin again. It is time. Begin again.
And that is the magic. It works for everything. Did you stop your mediation practice? Begin again. In the middle of meditation did you hop on a train of distracting thoughts and catch yourself? Let the thoughts go and begin again. Were you eating healthfully and lose track? Begin again. Has a relationship fallen away that you would like back in your life? Begin again.
I think that is a sentence used in sobriety circles and it resonates with me. In Yoga, the self-study part of Yoga I mean. (Not the putting your body into shapes part, although there is a good amount of self-study when you put your body in shapes.) In Yoga, I see how much I am carrying around that doesn’t serve me. Thoughts that are a complete and repetitive waste of time, fear of things that will never happen, attachments. So many attachments. My endless micro-management of time. How much do I gain if I stop with all the mental and emotional nonsense? Truly, if I used my boundless energy on creations and things I love instead of all that, how much more joyful would I be? The self-observation part of Yoga is a fundamental requirement for awakening. And it has a spontaneous corrective power. I see the road getting narrower, so I have to let go. Just to keep going.
As we let go, that is where expansion comes.
In Yoga, we spend some of our time in relaxed attention and some of our time in stressful attention. This gives us opportunity to weed out our programming, programming from our families, programming from sales and advertising we are exposed to, programming from deeply grooved habit patterns we have formed for ourselves. We do it very forcefully in Kundalini Kriyas. In one series of Kriyas, we can trigger our programming to reveal itself, observe it, experience it, learn from it, and walk away from class able to have a vaster experience in life because we transcend the programming and don’t carry it around with us.
Energy Medicine Yoga uses the Ancient Chinese Medicine 5 Element Theory as foundation. The 5 elements are a cycle, or wheel. The last element is Metal which is the element of letting go. It is a powerful, juicy element. I feel lighter and more expansive by just saying the two words. LET GO
Oh my gosh, the freaking phone and all the issues and miracles it brings. We love our phones. I will be the first to say I am attached to mine. It is always with me. Even when I run. But, I know my attachment to the phone isn’t really about the phone. The creators of all the magic in the phone are making money by feeding a different problem. Because really, its not the phone that is the problem. The problem is ego.
Ego is what keeps us separate. I am different than you. I have been through things no one else has. I have my stories. I am great at these things. I am terrible and these other things. The ego creates likes and dislikes. I like this, I can’t stand that. Craving and aversion are ego attributes.
Yoga, at its inception, was a practice to transcend ego. Meditation and physical practice were all one thing designed to transcend the lower self (ego) so that we could connect with all that is greater. When we cater to our likes and dislikes we are giving power to the lower mind and stunting our progress of expansion. Same thing with fear and avoidance.
What would happen if we stopped living every moment of our day ruled by likes and dislikes, fear and avoidance? How much would we open up?
So this brings me back to phones. The makers of apps and the existence of social media skillfully cater to ego. In ego state, we are in a state of discontentment. We feel uneasy, bored, alone, like we lack something, irritated, angry, incomplete, sad, depressed and/or anxious. The creators of what is available on the phone KNOW this and put, in our little hand, the distraction that feeds candy to the ego/lower self. And we keep reaching for the candy. I feel myself do it. I have an uncomfortable thought, and I grab my phone. It is automatic. And it BUGS me.
How to stop? Disrupt the habit field and create new habits. This takes practice. And being extremely conscious about what you are doing. Talk with someone you love. Create a healthy delicious meal for yourself. Get outside. Move your body. I have to say it…. meditate. See if you can overcome some likes and dislikes and open up a tiny bit more to what is available to you. Which is everything.
Our most valuable currency is time.
When I was in India, I had the opportunity (the GIFT) of spending time thinking about how I spend time. Time has always been an elusive thing to me. Sometimes, I literally count how many minutes I have in a morning or afternoon, how many tasks I need to do, and plan exactly how many minutes I can spend on what. In fact, before I went to India, I was so manic about everything I had to do that my motto became “No minute left behind!” I have been doing this since high school. It is a habit I am trying hard to break, this iron-grip on time. This struggle with it. The anxiety it gives me to think about. Karma is a subject for a different newsletter but an English word to describe Karma is bondage. It is bondage you are born with or you get from your upbringing or environment. In our lives, part of our purpose is to recognize and break free from the bondage. For me, time is bondage.
My teacher in India would say:
Time is your most valuable currency, how are you spending your currency?
This is something I work on all the time, how am I spending my currency in a way they brings me the most joy. Or if not more joy, less stress.
This brings me to Summer, which technically hasn’t even started but it already seems very over scheduled. I am trying to back down, without guilt. There is so much power in solitude.
Solitude gives us super-powers.
This is my hope for us all, this Summer, among all the Summer activities and fun, we can also find solitude. Unwired, outside, or in a meditation, or a yoga practice, or a walk, or a hike, or a paddle, or whatever you love. Deep quiet time, alone.
NOPE. No rules to being a Yogi.
I am pretty open about the fact that I am vegan, and I don’t drink. (And I am not THAT boring!!) But it wasn’t always like that.
I also now enjoy quiet. And being alone. I crave it. It definitely wasn’t always like that. At all. I used to avoid quiet like it was my job. Fill my schedule to the brim. Stay busy. Don’t sit still. Get as little sleep as possible. GO GO GO!
So, what changed? I started meditating and practicing yoga.
This example in my own life reminds me of something the great Yogananda once said to a student.
A tiny bit of background: Paramahamsa Yogananda's autobiography — titled Autobiography of a Yogi — is one of the most iconic books in yoga today, about his life spent bringing the yogic teachings from the Himalayas to the west in the early 1900s. (You'll even find it on our yoga teacher training required reading list because his Kriya Yoga practices and Meditation Technique are from the same lineage as what we learn in Yoga Hive's Yoga Teacher Training).
In Awake, the documentary about Yogananda’s life, there’s an interview with one of his students where he recalls a conversation with Yogananda — the one that popped into my head this morning. The student was asking his teacher what he's not allowed to do as a student of yoga.
Yogananda: Do you smoke?
Yogananada: You may continue. Do you drink alcohol?
Yogananda: You may continue. Do you enjoy the opposite sex promiscuously?
Yogananda: Well, you may continue!
Student: Wait a minute. You mean, I can come up on this hill ... with all these wonderful people ... and study these teachings, and I can go back down there and do all these things?
Yogananda: Absolutely! But I will not promise you that as you continue to study these teachings that the desire to do these things won't fall away from you.
That’s just it: On the path of yoga, over time, our preferences change. What charms us refines. Sometimes, whom we surround ourselves with changes too.
At first, this can seem abrupt and unfair. Why is this happening to ME?! Why am I the one that has to live without this person, this food, this drink, this activity? Why am I the sober vegan?
What I’ve learned through yoga is that change is ultimately good in all its forms, and that life doesn't happen TO us. It happens FOR us. Looking at life that way shifts everything — and it doesn't eliminate the inevitable pain of being a human sometimes... but it does eliminate unnecessary suffering. Change becomes a surefire sign we’re moving forward, and everything is (always) working out.
This is a yogi's evolution. Yoga teaches us to release attachment. Over time, instead of pushing away that little voice telling me I should stop drinking alcohol, I trusted the voice. More importantly, I trusted that when I did, everything would be ok. People wouldn’t stop inviting me to social events. Or, if they did, it was a sign for my social circle to change and evolve. I knew what my body and soul needed, and I let the habit fall away.
I bet you, too, have heard that voice in the back of your mind begging for something you know is good for you. Or begging you to stop a habit you’ve had for years. Or a deep desire to try something new.
So wherever you’re at, maybe this will be the nudge you need to make that change your body has been asking for. And if it involves doing more yoga, you know where to find us!
See you soon at The Hive!
I, like many of you, do a lot of things to keep myself healthy. I eat lots of plants that have fiber and loads of antioxidants and micro nutrients, I abstain from alcohol and drugs, I exercise frequently in many different ways, I limit sugar, I use essential oils, I meditate, I take supplements, I see a Chiropractor, eat fermented foods, I could go on and on. And I, like many of you, get pulled into advertising. I should be on this particular green juice, I need this expensive coconut yogurt, what juicer should I buy?
Even though I do a lot of things, and don’t do a lot of things, the real reason why I feel great is simple:
I get sleep, I drink plenty of water, I move my body, I am involved in my Community.
Everything else is second place to the above. When I am making tough choices about what will get done and what won't, sleep is a big factor in my decision making. I am not going to make this a research paper but the biggest bang for your buck in health are the basics. And there is no buck, or not much of one. Sleep, water, stretching and moving, the love of your Tribe.
And if you immediately feel yourself pulled into resistance as you read this, “I don’t have time to sleep!” That is ok. Be gentle with yourself. Notice the thought pattern. There is no perfection to be achieved.
Kaizen is a Japanese term for continuous improvement. We can only focus on a couple of things at once. In an effort to continuously improve, getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, engaging in physical activity and spending time with other people who have your back, and you have their's, is a great place for self-work. And self-love.
See you soon at The Hive!
All this Spring-ness makes me think a lot about Mother Earth. Many believe she is a living Goddess. A living, breathing entity – with extraordinary wisdom, compassion and spiritual power who has sacrificed her own salvation so that we can live here. When I think about her in this way, it's especially hard to reflect on the damage we have done, are doing, and will continue to do to her. When I was in India, I went to Parmarth Niketan and listened to Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji. She explained our mindless destruction in a way that really resonated with me. She brought up the habit many mothers have of saving the “art work” of their children. Often simply scribbles on paper. And the children grow older, but the art work stays in the house. Even if it’s in the attic or under a bed. The time to move to a new home comes and someone tries to throw away the paper with the scribbles. “No!” The mother exclaims, “Those are sacred!” The creations are sacred because she knows and loves the creator and won’t let the creations be destroyed.
If we loved the creator, we wouldn't let the creations be destroyed.
It is spring break for many, and even if it is not for you, go outside. Be quiet. Listen.
Create space for love.
See you soon at The Hive!
Wednesday is the first day of Spring! I think many of us love to see more daylight, buds bursting from plants and the earth, and even spring rain. Spring is also a time of shedding and removing things we have accumulated. Winter boots, heavy coats and shoveling off the porch can become memories as we welcome lighter clothing, less winter stuff to carry, and less restricted movement.
Spring is also the time to release and unpack other heaviness we have accumulated. To take a look inside and see what we are holding onto that we don’t need. Did something happen two days ago that wasn’t expected or wanted? Have we let that go? What about something from last year? How much have we accumulated?
This is a theme we will be working with over the next several weeks. Taking time and finding stillness to look inside, get quiet, see what we see, explore what needs to be released to make room for growth. Then tackling the work it takes to change.
Spring is GROW TIME!
As we proceed into Spring, and you see the growth and change in nature, maybe take a moment, a little pause to marvel at the bud on the tree, or the little green protrusion from the ground. Appreciate the miracle. We are nature.
See you at the Hive!
One of the things that sticks out in my mind from the spiritual teachings in India is “A Yogi is not afraid to be challenged.” And this isn't "challenging" like who can hold a handstand the longest. This is more about "challenging" like having the courage to commit to something you know you need but have been avoiding. (Been there!) It’s knowing you will resist, probably every day, and having the wisdom that feeling resistance means you need to spend time breaking through.
The second limb of the eight limbs of yoga is called the Niyamas, and one of the five Niyamas is Tapas. Tapas translates to "fiery discipline" – like fire in the belly to change and grow and evolve, but knowing it doesn’t just happen overnight. So, we invoke discipline to achieve it.
We all have our patterns, and if we don’t change the patterns then (drumroll.... this is obvious!) we don’t change.
You cannot stay the same and change. You just can’t.
Having the courage to take the challenge, do the daily practice, and NOT listen to the voices in your head telling you to keep doing what you did yesterday and the day before instead of this new practice.
Full disclosure: I feel this resistance every single day.
This needs to be done, that needs to be done, do the things you always do and skip the practice that is the one thing that will actually get you out of the rut. The resistance is POWERFUL and it takes tapas, fiery discipline to break free.
Our only option on the path of change and growth is to TRANSCEND. Transcend the old patterns, transcend the resistance. Transcend “I am too busy, I will do it tomorrow.”
There is a difference between knowing intellectually what the benefits of practice are and actually really doing the practice regularly. As my Energy Medicine Yoga teacher, Lauren Walker says, “You are always training the dog. When you are not training the dog, you are training the dog.”
I'm hosting our signature program, BeYou: A 21-day transformation that meets for 4 weeks on Tuesday starting February 19th. We make it easy for you to commit to yoga, meditation, positive health choices and techniques like Desire Mapping to get to the root of what you want from your life. I'll be right there with you in the process. We evolve together as a group, holding each other accountable and creating new daily rituals by the end of 21 days! Scroll for the details and registration link!
Blaine Wilkes is the owner of Yoga Hive Colorado, and writes inspirational musings for our newsletter, which we post here, along with upcoming trainings and workshops. To filter, navigate using the links above to see the category you're interested in. If you have questions, or wish to get in touch with Blaine, drop in to a class, or connect online: