Friday, October 30, 2009

Check your ego at the door...

I had planned to go to Hot Yoga this morning, felt "punky" but exercised a little self discipline and went to Issaquah Hot Yoga. The instructor is a cool cat named Regan, his classes are tough but very fun. I'm also fully aware that even as a teacher I can't do some of the stuff he offers in that class. The problem was that I began to not feel well, and couldn't maintain my normal pace and even do some poses that usually are no problem. I became frustrated.

I began to go into restorative poses when I had to at times when no one else in the class was slacking. It occured to me that I was exercising some of my own advice and even Regan's advice... Take care of yourself and YOUR practice. That revelation allowed me to smile as I moved slower through the rest of the class.

I use the yoga mat as a metephor for my life, and lessons learned in the yoga studio about myself translate well into life. First: Check your ego at the door, you're not there to impress, or compete, you are there to merge your body, mind, soul. Sure a good workout is nice, but better if you enjoyed it. No use paying ten bucks for misery, a movie and a bucket of popcorn can accomplish that. Try checking your ego at the door at work, coming home from a shopping trip, a bike ride with friends, open mike poetry night... whatever. Just accept that you are living first of all for you, your joy will benefit others.

So as I left the studio this morning I told Regan the instructor, "You made my blog." Of course he looked a little puzzled but I wanted to thank him for the lesson. So thank you Regan!

Brian M. Dotson

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Personal Mantra

Defined in many ways, traditionally the term "mantra" is a word, phrase, sound, or invocation that acts as an audible reminder of something sacred or important.

My personal definition is similar, but simpler and more "western". To me a a mantra is a phrase or word to act as a reminder of what's important to me in certain situations. I will share with you a few of mine hopefully it will inspire you to consider your own. I find I pick up little mantras from people I admire, things I read, and things my parents and grandparents used to say to me. Many times they are spiritual, sometimes they are a little fesicious, but always meaningful.

Almost daily I utter my understanding of the first line of the prayer of St. Francis, "God, allow me to be an instrument of thy peace and mercy." This reminds me of my dedication to be a person of service, to remember that anytime I can help someone for the sake of just doing God's will I will strive to do so with no personal motive. That's not completely true thought, I recieve great Joy when I do so!

Sometimes I quote, "Anything worth doing, is worth asking for". It used to reflect a more cavalier attitude which I still sometimes weakly display. However, the higher thinking here is a reminder that if I have a need, especially one of necessity for happiness or survival I need to not be afraid to ask for it. This could be asking a friend for help, my mother for a new blanket, or my Higher Power for favor. I always ask in the spirit of Karma in that I should expect to pay some small price, with grattitude for that which I recieve.

With respect to the first two. I try to remind myself to stay humble in service an recieving of the gifts of others. "To give freely that which has always been so freely been given to me." Knowing that especially in the latter years of my life many, many people have been there to assist me in navigating life. These are the people of my church, work, sober fellowship and elsewhere who have been to kind and loving even when setting aside the agenda of their own lives to help me. Karma law demands that to stay in balance and retain the joy they have given me... to always return the favor even to others in their spirit.

"The way you do anything... is the way you do everything." Which is a mantra I use at the end of every Yoga Class I teach. I take this from a martial arts and yoga teacher I admire named Cameron Shayne. To me it ties my practice of Asana, or physical yoga to life. If we practice yoga with great intent, energy, joy, and dedication we will recieve great physical and probably spirituall benefits. The same holds true if you put your whole self into your cooking, lawn mowing, family raising, driving, etc. It is a reminder to live MINDFULLY and remember to not get lazy. This ads to the act of living life, rather than just existing.

Finally, a slightly silly one, but I use it almost every day. The comedian Red Green signs off every show with "Keep your stick on the ice". This is a metaphore related to hockey, where the rules discourage lifting your hockey stick far off the ice because it may cause injury or disallow a goal, or put the rule breaker into the penalty box. Basically its a reminder to "stay out of trouble, or simply behave yourself. So to me it's a parting that is a polite send off with a spin of humor in order to make someone smile. After all creating joy is what all this is about.

Walk in the Light!


Sunday, October 11, 2009

The BisyBackson

The following is  a commentary on a portion of Benjamin Hoff's "The Tao of Pooh". Contained therin is my camparison to yoga and meditation...

In a popular "Taoist" parody involving Pooh and the friends of the 100 acre wood, there is a chapter dedicated to those too busy to have time for time's sake.   Go to their homes and you'll see a sign on their door stating "Busy, Back Soon" this is a home inhabited by a creature we'll call the BisyBackson. The BiseyBackson is not an animal, it is a person too busy to have time to answer the door, better still are too busy to come home to do so. Do you know a busy BisyBackson? Are you one?

Ok, you're thinking, "Great, my Yogi friend is the busiest person I know and about to distribute a dissertation on how to not be." Well yeah and no. Yes yogis can be busy, busy with practice, busy gardening, busy with normal jobs, children, and such. We work hard and work often. So what's the difference? Well the answer lies IN the story. But there is an answer and maybe it'll work for you...

I have a friend who deals with "the market". He has a hard time slowing down, hard time meditating albeit he's ahead of most in his industry... he has discovered Yoga. Another friend works his regular Fire Dept job and has side businesses that cause him to travel the world on days off... no yoga. I know a millionaire tech guy who lives a total Yogic life and in spite of working insane hours still finds at least 1 hour a day to meditate steadfastly to nourish his spirit.

One has no time in his life for himself or anyone, one has his foot just inside the door of self discovery, and the other firmly with a grip on his inner self and able to outperform most I know. This is the paradox of yoga and meditation; the busier a person is, the more that person needs to meditate. Compare it to putting tread back on your tires. It's not metaphysical, its science. Machines for example that are put under great stresses a little at a time can last for miles, the Indy 500 can trash the highest performance engines in the world because they have no rest. Here's another experiment, bend a nail, or piece of plastic back and forth rapidly and just before it breaks feel the heat generated at the bend. Your mind, if freed of all thought and stress even for moments of the day will be more resilient, resulting in less stress improved memory, improved health. AND best of all it affects the muscles that operate the corners of your mouth and seem to relax an lift your spirits resulting in that smile of joy.

So you get-er-done junkies. Try this... take your Business Plan, and trash it, burn it, shred it. Develop instead a Busy-ness Plan. Get up early, sit still and enjoy the calm vibration of the awakening world. Go out with joy, take over the world, come home. Then take some quiet time to let the day go and enter peace... before the dinner an homework rush. You'll find you can make more time for and more sense of IT ALL. You'll find more often you can take that Busy, Back Soon sign off your door, and of your chest and stow it away for ever. Replace it with an Enter Joyfully, take off your shoes, and Meditate for a while--- sign.

Walk in the Light!!