Sunday, April 28, 2013

Value of Sanga

Thich Naht Hahn is a well known Buddist monk. He discusses the cocept of the Sanga... people of like mind and the importance of having the Sanga to lean on and learn with. I have several circles of close people in my life, therefore several Sanga's but each family feeds an aspect of my experience.

I actually like to refer to Sanga as a group of "spiritually like minded people." I hardly think bowling club is a Sanga...

I participate actually in a handful of Sanga's. Some deal directly with my connection to the divine and worship of the divine inner self. Others reach to a "higher power" in the pursuit of recovery. Either way I find it would be difficult in life to navigate the world of spirituality without teachers, guides, brothers and sisters. We generally live lives, its tough to be able to council yourself on matters of spirit. Believe me the power of prayer and meditation and a personal relationship to what I call the "Divine Mother" is the cornerstone. Occasionally I need the help of my spiritual teachers, whos job it is to know the so called fine print. It helps to have the backdrop of knowledge and study that people have done for hundreds or thousands of years before we came along. So I listen to Thich, to Parmahansa Yogananda, to Depak chopra, and to my personal ministers. To the other fellowships I listen to the Elder Statesmen with years of recovery.

Some feel that its a waste of time. That "people that go to church all the time have no life". En Contraire, I have discovered more life within these people than I had running around on my own. Hey, I can't go to spiritual study all the time. Sometimes I'm just tired or want to go to the movies. Some Sundays I do want to go fishin'. That's why I have Sanga, my connection to spiritually motivated people, my opportunity to pray with them and talk about spirit is not limited to Sunday.

If you are agnostic or atheistic, that's great I still love you. Just know that something bigger than you or the universe made your life possible.

I once heard of a concept called Pascal's Wager. Basically a mathematician assigned believing in God and not believing in God mathematical values. I suppose he gave good and bad, sin and virtue like values. Given the possibility that God actually does exist and assuming the infinite gain or loss associated with belief in God or with unbelief, a rational person should live as though God exists and seek to believe in God. If God does not actually exist, such a person will have only a finite loss (some pleasures, luxury, etc.).  My hats off to any one who lives a virtuous life, I only hope that they can commune with people of like mind and have them to offer support when life demands the company of others.

I have my faith of what will happen through and at the end of my life. If the chips fall the other way than so be it. The Universal Spirit I'm sure has given us many paths to follow to the gates of Nirvana or heaven or whatever. Maybe it's as simple as coming back again in a better Karmic situation, maybe one path or another is like the difference of walking or taking an airplane to God's house. I only know that I have a spiritual family that will take care of me, not judge me and always call me Brother.




Friday, April 12, 2013

TotallyGuy Yoga, Making the Mat a Mans Place


I came to yoga to impress a girl. It was a hot yoga class, not easy in fact my sole focus was to not pass out in front of all those women! It was during a difficult period of my life. It occurred to me that I did not have a concern outside of that room in 90 solid minutes! Months before only alcohol did that for me... i had left that behind and in less than two hours discovered that the first day of the rest of my life began on a 3x5 1/2. piece of rubber mat and a pool of sweat.

Years of footbball, baseball, track had began to take a toll. I felt the old injuries, as they healed I left yoga behind for a while and delved deep into the martial arts world, studying in the shadows of Bruce Lee and one Mixed Martial Arts. I competed in the Can Am Police and Fire Games with fair success. By the time I became a Black sash Kung Fu candidate, I was in need of ACL reconstruction and had twice dislocated Right shoulder, and a neck injury. Never mind that, at that point I had been a professional firefighter for 15 years... my job was in jeopardy.

At work I double braced my knee learned to use my left arm, and just "manned up".  Realistically, iwas putting   my life and others at risk. I began to get back to yoga classes at the gym and in short order was able to start from modified poses to actual chaturanga pushups! My neck was getting better, not perfect but much better. The habit became obsession so I trained to be an instructor. Still I eventually needed an overhaul on the bum knee. I was now armed with an educated knowledge on rehabilitating myself with yoga. I didn't turn my back this time. I used the fact that I was teaching in a steel brace to demonstrate the value of working with what you have without risk.

At one time I ran marathon distance, threw a baseball a country mile, had great triceps, punt 40 yards,   strike 7 times a second and run a six minute mile. By the. time Iwas 35 years old I was taking 7 western medications, couldn't crawl on my knees, or sleep, drank too much and had ballooned to 240 Pounds at 5'10"... I felt like I was wearing 55 badly.

 Im now 46 years old can do the splits (nearly), take one western medication weigh in at about 210 (ill never be one of those svelt slender yogis). I have more functional strength than most men my age and more flexibility of almost any woman I know.

Look Im still a guy. I can still fix a car, crawl into flames, play with creepy animals and speak like a  pirate. Iv discovered a way to get out of my head and in tune with my body, the experience bleedsast the hour on the mat. Im a more compassionate fit firefighter, a kinder more patient husband.

Of course id lime to see more men experience what I have found but honestly being the minority amongst such great women, rounds off my hard corners. I see men relax their bravado and transform