Thursday, February 20, 2014

Getting Real

To each his own.  I truly believe that.

Letting the universe and the spirits that make it up take its course is just about all we can really do.

At the ripe ol' age of 31 I'm noticing a few things happening, all due in part to my continual reading of the dharma and yoga practice and training:
1) I am more aware that I (and we, and everybody) judge people.  This can be as simple as thinking, "I really like that shirt," (positive judging) or "He really should not have worn that color," (negative judging) or "that bird must've flown a long journey to get here," (neutral judging).
2) I try to stay away from any kind of excessive judging - if our ego allows us to do it so naturally, why would we succumb to watching, or listening, or looking for it?
3) I try choose new friends more wisely, and don't take what my friends do or say as personally as I used to since we all have our own paths and journeys and essentially all come from different planets, so to speak.

I have a friend who watches a reality show every week.  He says it "reinforces why you shouldn't have friends."  He says it's a mindless show that allows him to unwind and decompress.

I would love a show of hands.  The last time you were in a room full of shouting people - especially rich housewives who gossip about each other and each other's spouses and family (if you were ever so lucky) - do you feel at ease or "un-wound?"

I have absolutely no problem with anybody's habits, hobbies and extra-curricular activities - as long as they don't cause harm to someone else and it makes you happy - all the power to you.  If I don't want to be involved, I'll let you know or I'll leave.

Watching a reality TV show about rich housewives' personal lives is not on the top of my list.  Here's why.

A friend told me recently I had to "up my twitter game" in order to run a more successful business.  I totally agree with this.  I don't have a smart phone, however, and really don't like being on social media for more than an hour a day.  She suggests I tweet every hour, at least. Ugh.

After a really successful twitter day with re-tweets and tags and #hashtags galore, I felt like I had brainfreeze. Legit. You know when you eat ice cream and you can't do anything to rid you of the pain that is permeating your brain?  That's what I had.  A complete Twitter freeze.

I get a similar feeling if I'm on the ol' FB too long.  It's less hectic feeling, but it's as if I stopped breathing for a while and then someone woke me up and told me to breathe again. ahhhhh.

Think back to a time if you ever over-heard someone gossiping about someone else or talking about a topic that you felt really strongly about.  Did you want to say something? Did you say something?  Did you feel a pressure in your chest or your throat?

Take the above three sensations and put them all together in one big juicy package.  That's how I feel - physically and mentally - after watching maybe even ten minutes of these kinds of reality TV shows.  It takes me back to the middle school hallways - the high school locker room - the back of the bus (aha, huss that fuss).

Thich Nact Hahn would probably say something like: Watching this kind of behavior is akin to punching a pillow over and over again.  Some psychologists in the western world recommend this action to rid yourself of anger.  Thich Nact Hahn would say, this just reinforces the anger inside of you, building it up and making it worse.

The funny thing is - about my friend who watches this stuff and thinks it decompresses him - I wouldn't say his behavior either during or after watching the show is - peaceful.  I usually sense agitation, frustration and stress.  Being his yogi friend, I've tried to impart just a little peaceful wisdom on him so that the agitation doesn't sink into his physical body and make it worse.  Problem is - this stuff is addicting. 

Well - as I said - to each his own.  The practice of yoga, after all, isn't for everyone.  Maybe I live in a dream world.  I mean, who knows what is real and unreal anyway?

All I know is that when I go and sit in silence or read some kind of dharma while my friend watches a shouting match over haircolor and man-stealing - we emerge with a very different definition of friends and of hope for the world.

In tribute to "getting back to reality" I bring you this Thursday throwback :)

Om namah.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Letting it Happen

There's all sorts of reasons why our mood might change from moment to moment.  We all have a million things going on at home, at work, with our parents, our siblings, our kids, not to mention what goes on in each of our minds.  It's as if each of our heads is a different planet - all with different make-ups and with different ideas swirling around in there all day long.

No wonder we all react differently to every situation.

Have you ever wanted something to happen really badly - and then it doesn't happen - and then you realize it was better that that certain something didn't happen anyway?  Like to buy that house, for example - you really thought your offer was going to be taken, and you had everything planned out in your head - only to find out that someone else beat you to it?  Then you find out later the foundational beams were all rotted, and they had to spend a fortune tearing down the place - and you found a better one, for less money in a better location?  Okay well maybe not that exactly.  But try to remember a time when you got so wrapped up in a specific outcome and then it turns out that outcome was a bad idea all along.

Outcomes are like material things.  It makes absolutely no sense to get attached to them.  They might (and will) disappear someday and as far as outcomes go, they might not even happen.

The other day I was planning on going to a Flamenco-style music event in Boston.  I had pre-paid and was happy to support the musicians and performers, one of whom I know, and I was so excited to see this unique performance.  The last time I had seen or heard Flamenco-style dance and music was when I visited Madrid a few years back.  The passion of that style of playing stuck with me and I was happy to share this gift with my man and bring him to Boston for the show.

Boston is in New England.  It snows in New England. A lot.

The day of the show, another blizzard was predicted.  Ticket sales were final.  When you're not in the best of financial situations, when you have final-sale tickets, you'll do anything you can to make the show.  But I heard the weatherman - and my man and I would be driving from Connecticut - so a 2-hour drive, at exactly the time the storm was supposed to hit - in a front-wheel-drive car?  Not a good situation.  Have you ever been stuck in a New England gridlock? (Tip: Always pack granola)

This put me in a bad mood.  I called the Box office and they had informed me that "even in yesterday's storm when we had 12 inches of snow, we didn't cancel." Awesome.

I thought back to my New Year's theme: Gratitude and Giving.  I breathed in and closed my eyes.  I instantly released the mood that I had created - all in my mind - and the thought that missing the show was a bad thing.  I thought of reasons why the universe was making me stay home that night.  I could get into an accident.  My throat felt a little sore so maybe I should stay home and rest. My hunnie has to go to Boston twice this week so he should stay home and rest too and save on gas.  My mind was okay with all of these ideas, my heart felt better, and I considered the ticket payment a donation for the talented performers and for the organization running the show. 

Next thing I know, I got a message informing me that "due to the city-wide parking ban and blizzard on the way, the show would be postponed.  All ticket-holders would be refunded."

I smiled.  Spirit had my back.

When I had released my tense thoughts, I realized that my intentions were good.  When you give good intentions to the world, they'll come back to you tenfold.  As Gabrielle Bernstein says, "Your intentions create your reality." The more negative your thought pattern, the more negative your mood and the mood of all those around you.  

So we stayed home, and for the next three days I got to go to bed early and sleep in.  My throat felt a lot better.  On the third day, I got a call from a friend who wants me to sing at a memorial service - in two days. Done. 

All these things were much better than trying to drive through a blizzard, don't you think?

More and more these days, I try to let things happen.  Don't get me wrong - I still write out my goals every year, and every month, and sometimes every week to try to create the reality that I want.  And I create smaller goals with baby steps to put those goals into action.  But I'm not so much attached to the outcome.  I know spirit's got something in store for me as long as I have faith in spirit. 

Plan big - and then try to let it happen.  Breathe in to your mood changes.  Be aware. Enjoy the ride. 

Om Namah