Intuition; Your Map to the Universe

Intuition is that little voice that tells us things that we wouldn’t normally know. Sometimes it leads to great transformation, sometimes it means I make my train. Either way I am better off listening to my intuition than I am ignoring it. Here’s why you will be too.

 

I usually get 4 questions when it comes to learning how to tune into intuition.

  1. What does that mean, “tune into intuition?”
  2. Does it really work?
  3. Do I have to shave my head and become a monk to do this?
  4. How do I start?

 

I’ll start with question number 3. No, you don’t need to be a monk, you don’t need to shave your head, nor do you

Blackboard concept for leaving your comfort zone behind and moving in to the real life

even need to be a vegetarian or vegan. As for question number 2, yes, it really does work, although it requires practice, patience and a willingness to step outside of what is likely your comfort zone.

 

What does it mean to tune into your intuition? I view intuition as the uplink to the universe. It demonstrates our connection to everyone and everything else. That little voice that speaks up and tells you something is a bad idea, or that turning left instead of right is the better choice. Intuition is our insight into the larger world at a deeper level of consciousness that has fewer prejudged filters in place.

 

I’ll share an example of one of the uses I have for my own intuition. I drive from my house to the train to commute to work. I drive the same route every day at the same time every day. One day as I am about to get in the lane to turn right, as I always do, I hear myself inside my head saying “go left today.” That was it. Three little words. But I listened, got in the lane to turn left and as I entered the intersection, I saw that there was a massive backup of traffic and if I had gone right, as I always did, I would have been stuck and missed my train. Instead, I heeded those three little words, went left and made my train.

 

Questions arises suggesting there were some other clues that might have prompted me to turn left. Not really. The traffic was moving fine and even the first few cars to turn right seemed like they were going to move as normal. There were no sirens, nothing on the radio, a normal day. Just that little voice in my head. To further reinforce it, I don’t like going left because it means I have to later turn left onto a two way main road that feeds the train station. And that is never a pleasant nor expeditious route so I take great care to avoid that route.

 

As for how to start tuning in, that’s the easy and hard part. All you have to do is listen. Quiet your chatty conscious mind and let the signals be heard. I say it’s both the easiest and most challenging because it sounds simple enough; quiet your mind. However that is one of the most challenging thing for us to do.

 

To help start you off, I have a few exercises to help get you going.

 

Exercise 1: Get comfortable with your own mind

Human head withred ladder to opened sky window

In today’s world of digi-distraction and the constant bombardment of visual and auditory stimuli, it’s very easy to avoid the tough questions and the fears that we collect in life. But the first step to being able to hear your intuition is clearing out this clutter. And the only way to clear it out is to face it.

 

To do this, I like long runs by myself with no electronics. My mind flits from thought to thought for a bit but it eventually gets bored. And when the mind gets bored, that is when all the nasty stuff starts bubbling up. Doubts, fears, limiting thoughts all undercutting our confidence and goals. But this is only a distraction technique. It isn’t real and once you can face these thoughts without retreating, you begin to silence them. Once you start quieting those negative thoughts, you make room for your intuition to be heard.

 

Exercise 2: Count your breaths

Image courtesy of kootenaycommunityyogatherapy.blogspot.com.

Image courtesy of kootenaycommunityyogatherapy.blogspot.com.

This one is deceptively more challenging than it appears. The concept is simple. Sit or lay comfortably and count your breaths. One to twenty-one. When you get to twenty-one, start over again at one. If you lose count, simply start again at one. Once you can make it through this exercise for at least 5 minutes (set a timer so you don’t have to worry about tracking that too) without losing track or chasing random thoughts and having to start over, you will have built your concentration skills up enough to begin the third exercise, learning to listen.

 

 

 

 

Exercise 3: Learn to listen

Image courtesy of Moyan_Brenn   / Flickr.

Image courtesy of Moyan_Brenn / Flickr.

If you’ve gone through the other two exercises, this one will be much easier than attempting it without them. When I describe the thoughts in my head, I think of them in terms of quality of thought. There are the garbage thoughts such as anything negative about myself or others, the whiney thoughts such as my muscles are tight don’t go for a run or the distracting thoughts such as I bet I can get the next level of Game X if I started right now.

 

Next come the medium thoughts such as I’m hungry, did I leave the stove on when I left the house or wow, I’ve got a lot of work to catch up on. While not detrimental, they are still distractions.

 

At the top are the high quality thoughts. These are the ones that are insightful, helpful, positive, and show me options to challenges I otherwise might not have come up with. This is where intuition lies.

 

Whether you like to sit at home, in nature or add this on to a meditation practice, sitting quietly and listening to your thoughts will move you in the direction of telling your thoughts apart. This exercise of just sitting with your thoughts allows you to listen to everything that is going on in your head and enables you to identify the higher quality thoughts from the lesser ones. This in turn allows for you to identify them in the midst of daily chaos when they come up again.

 

What’s next?

Going through the first two exercises taught you to quiet your mind and built your level of concentration so that you

group of man and women during hiking excursion in woods, walking in a queue along a path. Low section view

could start sorting the garbage thoughts from the rest. I was surprised to find so much extra room in my head when I started dumping the garbage thoughts. It was like driving around with your windshield completely dirty and then suddenly it’s clean and you can see where you are going.

 

It will likely take a little time to adjust to the “clean windshield” you’re developing. Something pops into your head and you question it or second guess it. I recommend taking note of those times, what the thought or direction was and what you did, with a note about how it turned out. It’s been my experience that in hindsight, those odd thoughts were some really good recommendations. You won’t always take them, and that’s fine. As you track your thoughts, you’ll learn to trust this new insight more.

Through the Looking Glass of Perspective

I started this a few days ago on Star Wars day so a quote from Obi-Wan Kenobi seemed appropriate. “…you’re going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view.” Perspective, or point of view, is the way we are able to frame our world, our place in it and how we make associations and even friends. It’s what keeps us sane. If left unchecked, it’s also one of the greatest limiters to new ideas and growth.

 

Perspective is shaped by experience, those around us and what we find comfortable. Perspective is a necessarily

fine 3d image of dark grunge prison

fine 3d image of dark grunge prison

narrowed view of the world. It protects us from things that we aren’t quite ready to see or accept, sort of like a psyche armor. Like armor it’s not meant to be worn at all times. Doing so cuts us off from others and what once served as protection becomes a prison.

 

Think about a plant left to grow in a pot. Eventually the plant outgrows the pot and needs to be transplanted to continue to grow. If not, then the plant becomes root bound and eventually dies. Similarly if we stay locked into our singular perspective, we will become mentally bound and like the plant, our growth will be blunted. While we likely won’t die physically, mental stagnation can be a type of death unto itself.

 

To move out of the armor of a singular perspective, I’ve found empathy, open mindedness and a willingness to step outside of my comfort zone to be a highly effective combination.

 

Empathy

Understanding Road Sign with Dramatic Clouds and Sky.

Understanding Road Sign with Dramatic Clouds and Sky.

The ability to feel compassion for others is what allows us to see things from another’s point of view, allowing us to understand them. Empathy isn’t just about when people are sad or depressed. Empathy can be used with happy emotions as well. Have you ever been happy and celebrated someone’s accomplishment even though you had no idea what they were talking about, or if it was something you’d never do? Empathy in action. The challenge is bringing that empathy to bear when you are faced with a point of view or opinion that challenges a core belief.

 

 

Open Mindedness

Human head withred ladder to opened sky window

Human head withred ladder to opened sky window

This might also be called acceptance or a suspension of pre judgement. Remaining open to the possibility that something you believe or “know” could be skewed, biased or flat out wrong is challenging for pretty much everyone. After all at one point, everyone “knew” the sun revolved around the earth and “knew” that the earth was flat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

Blackboard concept for leaving your comfort zone behind and moving in to the real life

Blackboard concept for leaving your comfort zone behind and moving in to the real life

Perspective is partially steeped in protection. A willingness and no small amount of courage is needed to step outside of that comfort zone. Being able to reevaluate your beliefs, judgements and ideals is one of the most difficult things to do. It’s also one of the most important when building trust, relationships and personal growth.

 

Applying these intertwined tools takes practice and patience but is well worth the effort. But if it’s so much work to take this step and so much easier to stay safe in the armor of perspective, why change? Why put in all that effort?

 

Because it’s one of the most powerful tools for growth we have at our disposal. Sadly it’s one that I see being utilized less and less. The adage of old that says you shouldn’t judge a man unless you walk a mile in his shoes comes to mind. It’s all about shifting perspective. Seeing things from someone else’s point of view. The reason to do that, is to better understand them and why they hold certain opinions and beliefs. This doesn’t mean you will change your beliefs or opinions, but you’ll gain a better understanding of why they believe the way they do. Understanding that is a cornerstone for being able to find common ground and acceptance.

 

Walking in Someone Else’s Shoes

group of man and women during hiking excursion in woods, walking in a queue along a path. Low section view

group of man and women during hiking excursion in woods, walking in a queue along a path. Low section view

If your entire life was spent in tight, pinching shoes, a pair of comfortable, fitting sneakers would be a delight. But if your life was spent barefoot those same shoes might feel constricting. The shoes didn’t change, only the perspective of the person wearing them. Neither person is “right” or “wrong.” They have an opinion based upon their prior experience and preferences. And when put in the same situation, they came to different conclusions. Understanding h

ow someone else sees something, even if you don’t agree with them, is a powerful tool for making a connection and perhaps even learning something new. Who knows, maybe once you’ve tried running around barefoot, you’ll find you like it.

 

 

Like the plant moving from the comfort and safety of a pot to the open ground, there are potential pitfalls, challenges

Broken tomato plant roots in soil isolated on white

Broken tomato plant roots in soil isolated on white

and opportunities for growth. I suppose you could say it all depends on your perspective.

The Judgement of Should

The power of meditation, yoga, kigong and the like is the ability to encourage awareness, growth and change. I look at it as a path. It might sound a little cookie-cutter, but while the process is essentially the same, the steps for each can vary wildly. I think that is the draw for each of them, the steps we take, or more specifically, the steps that call us to walk them.

 

I’ve talked in the past about some of the changes, such as going dairy free, eating seasonally and other things. One of my latest explorations centers around the word ‘should.’

 

‘Should’ started to illicit a pretty strong and negative visceral reaction in me. It took me a little while to figure out what was getting under my skin, and once I did, I sat with it and did a few focused meditations to better understand why it was bothering me so much.

 

Some rights reserved by moonhouse

Some rights reserved by moonhouse

 

Why ‘Should’ Bothers Me

 

First I wanted to consider why this word started bothering me. What was it that got under my skin so much to bubble up to my consciousness and spark this desire to change. Here’s what I came up with:

 

 

Should – It drips with judgment. Self-judgment (I should be…), judgment of others (you should ….). While it generally (I think) comes from a place of concern and desire to help, it often comes across emotionally as being looked down upon, or being judged in some way.

Image courtesy of shootingafly.blogspot.com.

Image courtesy of shootingafly.blogspot.com.

 

With judgement comes pressure and stress. I don’t know about you, but I have enough already and don’t need to add more through self-judgement. And as far as judging others goes, I don’t think it’s my place. Everyone has their own struggles and trials to deal with. Whether they are working off some karma, trying to improve themselves or even being a total ass, I’m choosing to withhold judgement. No, the judgement in that last statement didn’t escape my notice, but I did say I’m a work in progress.

 

 

How Much of a Hold ‘Should’ Had Me In

 

Once I wanted to make the change, I wanted to see how big a task that was going to be. I brought my full awareness to the challenge to see how often I was using that word. Of the times I caught myself (and I am sure I missed more

Image courtesy of  ruminatrix.

Image courtesy of ruminatrix.

than a few), I hit 114 times the very first day. Most of it leveled against myself. To break that down, I estimate 16 waking hours in a day. 114 ‘shoulds’ in 16 hours is 7.125 per hour or one about every 8 minutes.

 

Doesn’t sound too awful. Perhaps even manageable. After all, we live in a culture where the most popular headlines tell us what we ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ be doing. But think of it this way. What if there was an actual person outside of your head, standing behind you, criticizing what you were doing 7-8 times an hour the entire time you were awake? Every…single…day. I was beyond shocked.

 

 

How I Started My Change

 

After recovering from the math, I laid out a plan to help me. The plan isn’t complicated or convoluted, and I think that makes it easier for me to stick with. Simplicity rules when making big changes in life (you don’t think dropping this word is a big life change? Try it for just an hour….).

 

My Plan

  1. Stay conscious of my vocabulary and usage of the word ‘should’ both internally and externally
  2. Make space by slowing down my conversations so that when (not if) the habitual ‘should’ pops up I can catch it, evaluate it and alter my word choice for clearer meaning
  3. Be kind; especially to myself when one or two (or thirty) slide by before I can catch them
  4. Notice the difference both in my own reaction and the impact on others when I choose words that don’t contain the judgmental undertones
  5. Use that feeling of ease and acceptance to further fuel and encourage this change

 

I realize that for some, a carrot and stick approach might work better. An idea a friend of mine pitched was setting up the equivalent of a swear jar. This, or any other, word you wanted to remove could be the source of contributions to the jar. Maybe rename it to the Banished Words jar. That way when the contributions either end or are reduced to a mere trickle, you get reward yourself for all of your hard work.

 

What’s Changed for Me

 

I’ve noticed a number of changes since I started this endeavor. The two that stick out the most for me are how much

By MIT-Libraries [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Flickr

By MIT-Libraries [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Flickr

more receptive and engaged people are in conversations and how much happier I feel in general. Apparently not feeling judged is a great way to make connections with others and feel better about ourselves.

 

I haven’t completely shut down the relentless little ‘should’er’ on my shoulder. But he is less talkative these days. With practice, patience and persistence my goal is to eventually get this word out of my vocabulary. It’s been difficult, but has gotten easier over time.

 

 

 

Are there other words you have or would like to remove from your own vocabulary? If so, please share and you might inspire someone else to join you.

The Power of Presence – Creating Connection

Be present. Be in the moment. Be mindful. Staple mantras for yoga, meditation and a plethora of “new age” things. The idealistic preconceptions surrounding presence vary greatly and tend to focus on benefits that are purely philosophical. The required steps and/or time for achieving these awe-inspiring results varies just as widely. But is it necessary to sit and pick lint from your belly button for months or years to start realizing the benefits of being present?

 

I don’t think so. I have found some of the best benefits of being present are in the mundane of daily life. Yes, being

Image courtesy of www.michelemmartin.com .

Image courtesy of http://www.michelemmartin.com .

present may fire up your sex life, it can help you improve your health and at some point you may be able to drop the illusions of time and space and teleport anywhere you want, read minds and fly. Until then, being present has other benefits to offer.

 

The benefit I want to focus on is connection. How we connect to others, how we connect to ourselves, and even how we connect to nature. How quickly will you start to see it in action? That’s the good news. It starts as soon as you start. You just have to know how to recognize it when it happens.

 

I’ve been in yoga classes where the teacher tells the class to “bring your mind to the present and be present in the moment.” I don’t know about you, but that’s always been a little ethereal for me. I like simple, relevant examples so I can really begin to understand something and want to share a few I’ve experienced.

 

Think back to a conversation where you felt truly heard and understood. The person you were talking to, what were

they doing? I’m willing to bet they were doing nothing but focusing on you and what you were saying. No digi-distraction with phones, tablets, television or anything else to draw their attention off of you. They were focused on you and in that moment, they were present with you and that created a connection.

 

 

 

 

Next think about a time (and this one won’t necessarily apply to everyone) when you were either playing with or

Some rights reserved by JonDissed

Some rights reserved by JonDissed

talking to a young child. Could you feel that intense focus rushing out of them straight at you? That intense focus that comes so naturally to them is them being fully present. They weren’t thinking about their friends, what they were doing later or anything else. And in that moment with them, a connection was created because you were both present.

 

Now that you remember that feeling of connection and presence, the questions become how to build it and where else can it be used. The answers are amazingly simple; use it and anywhere respectively.

 

 

 

Cultivating Connection

To be able to consistently build a connection with someone takes practice and a few simple rules. The practice part is easy, build a connection with everyone you meet. The rules I use I’ve listed below.

 

  • Turn off and put away all electronics – not always possible in some environments, but at least the ones you carry with you
  • When you are in a public place and can’t turn off things like televisions, find a place where there isn’t a good view
  • Set aside your own baggage – forming a connection through presence is all about finding harmony with another person; this is almost impossible if your thoughts are occupied by your own stuff
  • Be flexible – trying to force a connection or insisting that it form in a certain way is a sure way to undermine the whole process
  • Hold space for the other person – as tips go, this is one sounds pretty vague; the essence being that as you are forging the connection, you both need to feel safe

 

Where Connections Can Be Created

The answer is, anywhere. The places where people will be most receptive are places that foster a common bond to begin with. Think yoga studio, spin class, pilates class, martial arts class, etc. While it’s easier to create a connection in these environments (there is already some common ground) it’s certainly not limited to these places. Below are a few examples of where else you can build connection outside of these places.

 

Some rights reserved by moonhouse

Some rights reserved by moonhouse

  • In meetings – need to sway a decision for an important project, create connections in the meeting and see just how much more open everyone is to your ideas and point of view
  • Commuting – more for the mass transit crowd, but even on long flights, I’ve met some very interesting people by opening with a present minded ‘hello’
  • Personal relationships – one of the best tools for resolving issues with your significant other is to let them know you have heard them fully and completely without judgment – it works wonders

 

With these ideas in your personal toolbox, I encourage you to go put this into practice. Worst case, you get a little TMI, best case you resolve a challenge you’ve been facing or even better, make a new friend.mentorhands

The Beauty of Death – Savasana

A lot has been written about Savasana and its importance to a yoga practice. The time to integrate, absorb and make space for the work done during a practice is crucial to physical/emotional/spiritual growth. That time of rest allows the body and mind to reset and adjust to or find new

Image courtesy of  { lillith }.

Image courtesy of { lillith }.

changes.

 

This integration time is key to yoga. But does it have to be unique to yoga? Think of other activities, sports, forms of exercise that are popular such as Pilates, running, weight lifting, etc. They tend to lack this crucial time at the end.

 

Crucial there is a strong word, but appropriate I believe. I think about the conversations that happen after a long run. Everyone is gathered around their cars saying good bye and there is a number of runners who want to nap because the run was tough. They are tired and sore and their bodies just want to rest.

 

Typically they don’t nap. They rush back to their lives and families and jump right in. As a result, the next day can be physically and mentally tough. Even later that day there is a feeling of being drained and lethargic. Feeling this way myself, I decided to try one of my wholly unscientific experiments.

 

Image courtesy of andreasivarsson  / Flickr.

Image courtesy of andreasivarsson / Flickr.

I did a hard run. Felt tired and knew that I would feel that run the next day and that if left to my normal course of action I would feel drained later. I went home, pulled out my mat and put myself into savasana.

 

I ran for 90 minutes, so I gave myself 15 minutes to incorporate. To be clear, this wasn’t a nap. I was awake and aware and guided myself through savasana just like I would after a yoga class. This includes a little stretch and settle, attention to breath and walking myself through the entire release and allow process.

 

When my time was up, I slowly moved out of savasana and stepped back into the flow of my day. That afternoon, I felt great. Not just great, amazing. That drained, sluggish feeling never showed up. I was amazed and thrilled.

 

Being aware that it just could have been my energy for the day, I repeated this process, not just for running, but for any physically demanding exercise I engaged in. I found a place where I could put myself into savasana quickly after the workout. I kept the same focus on breath, release and allow each time. And each time the typical mental or physical fatigue that would normally follow, never showed up.

 

Intrigued, I wanted to see if the reverse were also true. I took a few yoga classes and (after speaking with the teacher ahead of time to explain) I skipped savasana. Incredibly (but not unexpectedly) I didn’t feel quite as good later that day.

yogaleavepose

I’ve heard many times in many classes that yoga’s real work begins when you leave the mat and that the greatest challenge is to carry what we learn in yoga into real life. I’m not sure it was meant quite this literally, but I appreciate the results of carrying savasana into my other pursuits.

 

I’ve had such great experiences with this that I build time into the end of most of my workouts to find a quiet spot have a little integration time. I’ve found that physically it helps my post workout recovery by minimizing the physical impact of even the most challenging workouts.

 

Emotionally, yoga isn’t the only place where “stuff” can come up. Any intense workout can stir the emotional pot. Without this time, there is a great possibility that we can miss the opportunities to deal with what comes up in these other forms of exercise.

 

And finally mentally. Savasana is transition time. Just as there is typically a centering before yoga to move from the daily life to the mat, savasana is the transition back to life off the mat. Other forms of exercise have warm ups, or we develop our own routines to get our heads focused on the work out. I never really took the time to build a transition routine back. Until I found savasana.

 

Don’t take my word for it. Try it out. Take your next work out or two or three and build in a little savasana time after the work out. See if you find a difference. It’s been said everything is yoga. Yoga ends in savasana, so why can’t a good run?

Yoga: Path to Enlightenment or Damnation?

While visiting my in-laws for Christmas I was taking a yoga class in Dallas, TX. Nice place, good teachers and close by. My first class there was great. It was a Vinyasa flow with lots excellent transitions, a tough work out and a little quirkiness thrown in for good measure. At the end after savasana, the teacher simply said ‘a thanks for coming by I’ll be outside if you have any questions,’ hopped up and left.

 

I’m not a huge chanter, but after an invigorating workout and a good savasana, I like an OM thrown in. It helps me wrap up the integration phase of the class. But not that day. I stretched a little more, took my time and wandered out to the front desk. I started chatting with the teacher and during the conversation I asked why no OM at the end of the class. She looked like a chanter (for those that have been going to classes for some time, you’ll know what I mean).

Image courtesy of Ajna Chakra.

Image courtesy of Ajna Chakra.

 

She explained that in that section of Dallas, the studios wrote into the teacher contracts that there would be no chanting. The studios were afraid of backlash from the very influential churches labeling the yoga studios as a place of false worship and urging the parishioners to no longer go to classes there. It’s Dallas, and that is a very plausible scenario. The churches hold an incredible amount of sway and I’ve seen firsthand how the bishop/minister/preacher can speak for or against something in the community and how the impact of that can make or break an organization.

 

 

 

 

So I did some exploring. The good news is that not all studios have that restriction, and there are even some that are very chant/yoga/Namaste everything over the top to balance things out. The unfortunate side is that many of the schools close to where I was were strictly non-chanting.

 

This raises (yet again for many I’m sure) the question of is yoga a religion. Some believe it is and that it will lead you down the path of ruin. Yoga has roots in many religions and references deities, spirits, God and all sorts of other religious based topics. I don’t view yoga as a religion. I view it as a spiritual practice. For clarity, I will define the two as I use them.

 

Spiritual Practice – any physical or mental activity or action that align my mind, body and spirit in an attempt to bring me closer to harmony with the universe and all beings/things in it. This could be my morning cup of tea, it could be a yoga practice, it could be a Tae Kwon Do class, helping at a soup kitchen or meditation, among other things.

Image courtesy of  { lillith }.

Image courtesy of { lillith }.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Religion – following a prescribed set of practices, physical and/or mental, with the intent of following a specific set of guidelines as proscribed by a particular deity or deities. This could also be done to bring the practitioner closer to said deity or deities. This would be Mass, Communion, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, Baptism, Naming Ceremonies and more.

Image courtesy of Beth Levin.

Image courtesy of Beth Levin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I believe yoga is spiritual and can be used to support any religion. In my brief research, there doesn’t appear to be a specific deity or religion that “owns” yoga or claims to be its sole root uncontested. Ganesha, Buddha, Shiva, Brahma and the like are referenced in various styles yoga, but none of them are the total focus.

 

When I was going through my yoga teacher training, one of the guest teachers led sadhana (morning practice before the class work started) and spent the entire time referencing Jesus and God. Instead of using the name of Brahma when referencing creation, he referenced God. This theme was so prevalent that the end of class was closed with Amen instead of OM. Linda Johnsen wrote an interesting piece comparing the similarities of yoga and Christianity.

 

I’m not a religious person. Too many rules and too much reliance on how others interpret what someone else may or may not have said (think the Telephone game but after thousands of years). My opinion, try the yoga class. There is no requirement to chant; you can just sit there quietly as I have done many times.

 

Image from: Virtuousplanet.com

Image from: Virtuousplanet.com

If it just doesn’t feel right, don’t go back. But if it does feel right, if it does feel like a step closer to your religious beliefs, why not keep going. For the guest teacher, yoga is a part of his religious practice. He uses the physical postures in it to bring himself closer to the teachings of God and Jesus. They have Catholic Calisthenics after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whether the class uses Buddhist references and mantras, Catholic ones, Jewish, Hindu, Islamic or some other, I believe yoga is a spiritual practice that can be used to support any religion. If a spiritual practice is available and it brings you closer to your religious beliefs, is that a bad thing? More importantly, if it can be used by one religion for support, does that mean it can’t be used by other religions?

 

 

The Gift of Presence

This post was inspired by a conversation with my wife. We were discussing a presentation she had recently attended and how so many people who paid to be there spent much of their time focused on cell phones or tablets and not on the presenter. I’ll be the first to admit, I’ve been just as guilty as anyone when it comes to digi-distraction. Most notably when I’m sitting in a meeting and the topic isn’t one that requires my attention. I pop my phone out, check email, text, play a game. Periodically I check back in on the conversation to make sure I haven’t missed anything too important and the meeting eventually ends. I hope someone was taking notes….

Some rights reserved by moonhouse

Some rights reserved by moonhouse

 

I started thinking about the differences in quality of connection; when I’m digi-distracted, and when I’m fully conscious and present. It struck me at just how out of step this was for me in my life. When I am with my family and when I’m teaching, I make it a point to be completely present with and for them. It allows me to tune into the students better, challenge and support them as they need. From a student’s perspective, when I have a teacher that is fully present, I have felt the entire class is all about and for, just me.

 

We have rules in our home around disconnecting from the television, tablets, computers, phones, etc. During meal time (with an occasional exception for movie Friday), the television is either off or on a music channel (and not visible from the table anyway). All other electronics are in another room entirely. We use the meal time moratorium to talk about our day, the good, the bad, the whatever. Sometimes it’s a silent staring contest (breakfast as we aren’t really morning people). No matter how it turns out, we give each other undivided attention for that meal.

 

When teaching Tae Kwon Do, it’s easier because wearing a phone or carrying some other device and looking at it while sparring is just asking to get kicked. In yoga, texting while doing a handstand offers more challenge than most students want to tackle. Outside of class I’m intrigued to see how quickly the phone/tablet pulls people back into distraction. Families who take class together and work as a team, step off the mats and snap back into their own distracted, disengaged worlds.tkd kick

 

 

 

 

 

 

This may sound like nothing, but think about the last time you actually stopped everything so you could pay attention to someone. And think back to the last time someone focused all of their attention on you and the impact that left. In our totally connected world where access, communication and distraction are a tap or buzz away, conscious communication isn’t so easy to find, and I think we suffer for it.

Some rights reserved by trix0r

Some rights reserved by trix0r

 

One way to do this with friends is during a meal, take the cell phones and place them face down on the table off to one side. For those who like a little competition, you can even institute rules around it. First one to reach for their phone, pays for everyone’s meal, or at least the drinks. Whether you put the punitive measures around it or not, be ready to bask in the focused, quality attention that is suddenly available between friends and family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you don’t already, I encourage you to choose a time where your family or your friends disconnect from the digital world and reconnect with each other; no digi-distractions.

Some rights reserved by JonDissed

Some rights reserved by JonDissed