Archive for the ‘Atman: Self-Discovry’ Category

Yesterday I attended Carolyn Butcher’s prana flow class at Yoga Fusion in Chevy Chase to ring in 2011.  Carolyn started off the class talking about the idea of replacing new years resolutions with intentions. Hmmm… I had starting writing this post a week or so ago but it still needed some polishing.  Remebering that 1.1.11 is a year of synchronicitys and alignment, I decided to go ahead and post. I am back from an unexpected hiatus from blogging.  I look forward to 2011 and where this new year will take me and I look forward to growing community here at DC Dharma in the coming year.

Goal vs. Intention

The impending new year often brings long lists of resolutions.  I resolve to lose 10 lbs., exercise more, and eat my vegetables.   Round about February…we’ve long since forgotten all of those resolutions in the hustle and bustle of our daily routines and we continue  the negative self-chatter that goes along with unmet goals.

In this new year, I suggest you consider a more yogic twist (that pun was not intended) on the idea of resolutions is to set intentions.  What is the difference you ask?  A resolution is more like a goal—something focused on the future.  Goals are very important and we rarely make progress in our lives without goals. But, resolutions, at least for me often feel heavy and burdensome, like another “have to” to add to my list.

Intentions, on the other hand, allow you to be softer with yourself. No “shoulds” allowed intentions are focused on what you need right now, or how you are showing up in the present moment.

Sankalpa in Sanskrit means will, purpose or determination. While a goal looks to the end result, an intention or sankalpa focuses on the path or the journey.

A sankalpa or intention also praises the effort you make to achieve your intention—you get credit for getting back on the path to your intention, regardless of how many times you may veer off course. This is the critical distinction for me.

When you set an intention or sankalpa at the beginning of your practice, it serves to center and ground you, to provide a focus for why you showed up on your mat and to establish presence in the moment.  The same can be said taking intentions off the mat, into your daily life.

Tips for Intention Setting

So when your yoga teacher invites you to set an intention for your daily practice, Don’t freak out….do you hear thoughts like? Should I wish for world peace? Or a cure for cancer? Is it wrong if I wish for an effortless handstand?

An intention is  simply a wish for you or for someone else. Here are  few suggestions:

Just be here now

Try my best

Listen to my body—do what it needs

Live in balance—take the middle path

As for setting New Year’s Intentions, its ok if you haven’t  done it yet.

Take some time to be quiet with yourself and listen to what comes up. What do you want more of in 2011, what do you want less of?

Some of my intentions include cultivating more community, balance and spaciousness and remembering to spend my time in activities I love like traveling and being in nature.

What are some of your intentions for 2011?  I look forward to hearing from you.

Photo by rogersmj on Flickr via CC license

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So…its here..the movie version of Elizabeth Gilbert’s runaway best selling book opens today. I have a date this weekend with a group of girlfriends to go see it. I’ve downloaded the CD from itunes. As a yogi and a wanderluster, I’ll admit right up front, I’m an unabashed fan girl. This is my version of “Sex in the City” weekend.

As I anticipate seeing the movie, I am reflecting on the many, many discussions I’ve had about Elizabeth Gilbert’s story of travel and self-discovery since I first read the book several years ago.  Reactions vary from my own…”I LOVE it, I LOVE Elizabeth Gilbert, I want to hang out with her–I’m certain we’d be fast friends. I want to be the ashram’s key hostess. I want to go to Bali and laugh from my liver.” To…“I didn’t care for it,  Elizabeth Gilbert seems self indulgent, people just don’t leave their lives (or their husbands) like that”–to many variations in between.  I am struck by how intensely personal each reaction is.  It seems to me that each reaction is a mirror to where an individual is in their life–no single opinion is right or wrong–we are just where we are.But, if we pay attention to our reaction to the story–we can gain awareness. What makes you afraid? What makes you angry? What makes you laugh? Do you maybe feel jealous?

I’m writing this post while sitting in a cafe, Just now, I can hear two women discussing the book. They are both saying how unrealistic the story is–that most people can’t just drop out and travel around the globe for a year to find themselves.

It is true, Liz Gilbert had a book contract in hand before she set off on her year abroad. That’s a really nice thing to have. I get that we don’t all have book contracts or trust funds or whatever you think it would take to make a break for it like Liz.  I will tell you that I know more than one person who has done a similar thing. They made a decision that they wanted to take some time to travel and gain some breathing space–they planned for it financially and took some risks and some really wonderful things happened for them as a result. I’d say that, if you think you want to take off in this way, its important to really know your intention before you take off–because travel without an intention is just escape.

The truth is, I don’t think that we necessarily need a pot of gold to embrace the spirit of this story. To me, the larger theme of the book was just to listen to what your heart is telling you and move towards it, regardless of whether your family, your friends, your work colleagues or society thinks its the “right” thing to do. I think that anyone can take a journey like Liz’s even without getting on a plane, even without quitting your job and leaving your life behind. I think it may take longer and… c’mon…admit it…won’t be nearly as fun, but you can take a similar journey inward without actually going anywhere. With the intention to follow your gut and your heart… magic can happen…just like it did for Liz.

Please share with me your thoughts about the book, the movie or any old thing eat.pray.love related.

Update:  Saw the movie loved it, loved the meandering quality, beautiful cinematography. It made me want to reread the book because it reminded  me of pieces I had forgotten.

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Aug 07

How to Be Alone

Posted by Melanie in Atman: Self-Discovry

Happy beautiful Saturday.  I am posting this video gem everywhere I can. I’ve been a fan of singer/songwriter Tanya Davis for a while now, which makes this even more lovely. Enjoy. That’s it.

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I’m just home from yoga class tonight. I had not been to class with Gopi, one of my favorite DC area teachers, in quite some time. What I like best about Gopi’s classes is that she infuses her vinyasa flow classes with bits of yoga philosophy. Tonight’s class theme was transitions, both on the mat and off.

Gopi encouraged us to pay attention to the transition from one pose to the next. She urged us to move with intention and grace. Then she asked the class how do your transitions on the mat mirror the way in which you face transitions off the mat? The moment she posed the question I broke out into a broad smile and thought to myself, ah yes, I see…transitions. Yoga is so often therapy–but a heckofa lot cheaper–isn’t it?

How do you make transitions in your yoga practice? Do you close your eyes? Do you hesitate? In class tonight, I made this observation, I hurry through my transitions rushing to get from one posture to the next. My transitions in yoga class are generally not made consciously, seems I’m avoiding the awkward middle phase. Why yes Gopi, you are right, my transitions off the mat have tended to be rushed and unconscious too.

Transitions are uncomfortable. If you are like me, when in a transition you may feel aimless, unfocused even slightly unhinged. I am currently in transition in several aspects of my life and have been for several months. Recently, I’ve noticed myself feeling impatient. I just want to get this whole transition thing over with already. That’s my old pattern of dealing with transitions. I hesitate to begin a transition until the heat is so hot that I have to jump out of the fire. Then, I’m ready to jump anywhere just to get my bum out of the flames. Rinse. Repeat.

For the series of off the mat transitions that I currently find myself in I am valiantly trying to slow down, sit with the discomfort, attempt to understand it, maybe even befriend it and learn a little something while I’m at it. Then move with intention and grace and hopefully avoid the nasty bum scorching this time. While I feel frustrated that I don’t know where all this evolution is leading me, something is decidedly different this time around. I have a sense of faith that the not knowing is ok. That, even though I’m not sure where this path is leading me, simply staying on the path is what is important and that this time when I arrive at my destination I’ll know a whole lot more about how I got there and my bum will be blister-free.

At the end of savasana Gopi challenged us to think of ways we can align our inner and outer worlds. She encouraged us to bring more of authentic selves to every part of our lives. That is really the ultimate transition isn’t it? I think its just that kind of universal transition that I’ve embarked upon. This time, I’m going to slow down and enjoy the ride.

So readers, does this resonate with you? What do you notice about how you deal with transitions in class and in life? Please, leave a comment. Would love to have a discussion with you.

Photo courtesy of brungrrl via Flickr with a cc license

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