Monday, January 24, 2011

That Damn "Not a Destination" Crap..and RIP Jack LaLanne

2011 has barely begun and already my southern neighbors and I have survived the most intense ice storm Atlanta has seen on over a decade.  Many of us set resolutions and have high expectations each year around this time, only to set the bar so high that we quickly either lose momentum or become disappointed, falling short of achieving these lofty goals.

With yoga, however, we learn to let go of the goals and instead, set intentions to focus on the moment and to find contentment and grace in the process.  Sure, it may be a cliché, yet it is IS a journey...not a destination.  In my twenties, I had all sorts of expectations on what my life should look like.  I made many less than ideal decisions based on these expectations.  Shortly before my 30th birthday, I was faced with some health a single mom with a small child, I was in fear and made drastic changes as a result.  While my health improved, the fear based motivation eventually backfired, and in my late 30s, I found myself again at a crossroads.  This is when I accidentally found yoga...I say accidentally because I had no idea that showing up at a Bikram class in hopes of dropping a few pounds would result in yoga being my new path and vocation. 

Now, in my mid 40s, I realize more than ever that there is no final place when the work's ALL a process.  The moment lies in the space in between each breath....that's where the magic happens.  Yoga is a vehicle to find this space.  It's not the way...however, it is the way that resonated for me..and for so many others.  I'm not "there" yet.  Yoga helps me find my voice...the one that my students hear and the inner voice of truth that, when I truly am still and can listen, tells me exactly what I need to hear (even when it is not what I want to hear!).

Today I'm faced with a few elderly mother who can be very stubborn (so that's who I got it from!), a sore mouth from gum surgery last week (delving within to find gratitude for being able to take care of my medical needs, painful as it may be), and other growing pains around various choices and situations that I have created. 

Right before I went to sleep last night, I read about the passing of Jack LaLanne, the 96 year old fitness icon and guru who I had, prior to the news, thought would outlive most of us.   Ahead of his time, Jack discussed topics such as sugar addiction and the mind-body connection over half a century ago in the early 1960s, way before doctors or the mainstream would broach such subjects.  He was and continues to be an inspiriation to me, and serves to punctuate the idea that we are not here to simply reach some sort of lofty goal and then rest.  Instead we are these spirits who grow and learn and serve and enjoy, constantly changing and moving.  When we cease to learn, we cease living...regardless of whether or not our heartbeats continue.  Jack surely lived a full life until the very end.  I'm grateful to have such a fine example of a humble and strong individual.  Rest in peace Jack...though I have a feeling Jack's still of service somewhere to someone....just not on a dimension that most can see.

One of my favorite videos of Jack:

And here is one I just saw for the first time:

Namaste...Jack and all.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Day is just a Day....

For the record, I am quite likely one of the closest things to the polar opposite of a "Debby Downer" you may meet.  Not unrealistic or naïve, mind you...more like the kind of person who works at being positive as much as possible.  I'm not always succesful.  Being human does that...all that imperfectionism and all. 

Which brings me to the whole, often anticlimactic, expectation oriented "New Year's Resolution" mind set that seems to be such an overlying theme every year around this time.  For many years, I was a victim to this type of thinking, and, in fact, I can easily fall back into it if I'm not mindful of the moment and my own reality. 

I am not judging nor criticizing those who use the arbitrary date of January 1st as a time of beginning anew.  If it works for someone, then I think that is awesome and it should be implemented wholeheartedly.  For me, though, well, history shows that it has rarely worked and often has led me to failure.  Additionally, my observations of others around this time shows that my experience is fairly common.  All those January months over the years at the gym or yoga studio where classes were overfilled and exercise equipment had waiting lists of people who were, once and for all, going to get fit....the same people who, for the months prior, had been indulging in lifestyle  habits that were far less than optimal while proclaiming "after the new year, I am going to get in shape and make some changes!"  Hey, I know...I've been this person.  Of course, these are often the same people who by February, if not earlier, had sunk back into the old habits...a misnomer since "old" would imply they are no longer practiced.  Evidently they once again are "current habits". 

Again, I speak from my own experience both as the "old habits" practicing New-Year's-Resolutioner and the observers of friends and acquaintances who seem to have similar patterns. 

Twenty five years ago today, my father passed away, and for many years after, I would get depressed and indulge in behaviors that were self destructive and unhealthy.  Every year I set myself up for this type of failure, until one year, after the Jewish calendar Yahrzeit anniversary, which was never on the same day two years in a row, I realized that my mindset was a decision based on a man-made and quite random day each year.

So, today, and each, make that each a new one...a chance, an opportunity to decide to create the life and reality I want.  Sure, it's great to have goals and intentions, and if January 1st works for you, then I am certainly not going to condemn that decision.  However, for me, it has shown to add to self judgment, even resentment, and as 2011 begins, much in the manner that 2010 began 365 days ago, I will once again begin my day with the same intention as I do pretty much have the intentions and willingness to take actions towards that will lead to a place of optimal health on all levels.

One more thing..if you DO set resolutions, please are human.  Each moment is precious and unique and everything generally will eventually work out.   Beating ourselves up for being imperfect or judging our actions or even worse, our SELVES as failures is never a good practice and will not lead us to the results we deserve.  A new moment, day, or year can be at ANY moment day or time you choose. 

Now...just praying that there are NO more half price sales on Ben and Jerry's...and praying for the willingness to set positive intentions to align myself with all things that serve me best!
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Much Love and Light