Monday, September 29, 2008

Yoga During Uncertainty

Maybe you know this already.

Saffron (Sandy) used to own, with her brother and sister-in-law Steve and Virginia Selemidis, the "Coach and Lantern" Pub in Ancaster. It was their creation during an economically challenging time period in the early 90's. There was a rental space in the building they owned that had to be filled, no one was making offers.

Saffron had the idea, suddenly as usual, to open a British Pub during this hard time. To say this was a risk is not to understand business very well. Most businesses fail within 5 years. Restaurants rarely make it 2 years. This was an incredible risk that the banks wouldn't even make direct eye contact with.

The restaurant was a smashing success. There were lines up and down the sidewalk.


Well, the three of them were a talented business team, able to work very well together. They learned how to use each of their strengths and minimize each of the weaknesses.

They also had made a move that proved to be very beneficial from a business standpoint that they hadn't realized.
What do people like to do when times get really tough, and when the future looks dicey? If you guessed drink beer, wine, or liquor in excess you win the prize.

During times of uncertainty it is much easier to sell people alcohol as a quick fix that dulls the senses and makes it easy to forget the worries of the day, if only for a few hours.

After years in this business, Saffron saw some of the lowest sides of people. It really shook her trust of the goodness of people. She saw the dark side all to often.

She didn't want it anymore. There had to be a better way to be a part of the community. It was successful, there was money and respect from people but the dark side left such a mark. She wanted to leave a mark of beauty, respect, and love. This is where she turned to Yoga.

Yoga comes at uncertainty from a different angle.

As things start to get uncertain many of us will be tempted to dull the senses. To close up from the pain. Yoga does not teach us to ignore or hide from fear or pain. It teaches us to be sensitive to it and look at the best ways to work with it, around it or through it if we have to. Maybe there isn't even anything there at all, or at least not the monster we thought it was.

As uncertainty sneaks in to your life how do you choose to respond?

Do you take care of the things that matter most? Yourself, your family, and your community?
The Daily Practice of 7 minutes of Yoga brings you back to yourself where the heart of Yoga really resides.

Take this time to reclaim your life, even in uncertainty.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

America's Next Top Model

I used to be a TV junky.

I would watch whatever was on TV when I was home. Most often it was reruns of the Simpsons or other such Sitcoms, lots of nature programs, movies, and a few PBS shows (my particular favourite being Leo Buscaglia's lecture series).

Since getting married I have become unplugged. I thoroughly enjoy this fact. The freedom in time alone for other more worthy pursuits has been well worth it.

Every once in awhile, I do watch it when I am out visiting family. It sucks me right back in like a vortex. At least now I can reflect on things afterward instead of being hit by program after program.

A couple weeks ago I had a chance to watch America's Next Top Model with Tyra Banks. I try to keep an open mind about these things. If you haven't seen the show, a bunch of hopeful models go through the gauntlet to prove that they are worth bringing into the modeling world. I guess it would be like a sport tournament to decide the winner etc.

There is one major problem I have with the mentality, let's set aside the drastic things the women do to stay looking like that (eating cotton balls soaked in lemon juice, no calories feel full, brilliant), and that is the way that the winners are to be determined.

At the end of the show Tyra said something that bothers me still today. They had selected 14 of the 30 (my numbers may be off) that the show started with. She turned to the ones who had not been picked and said to them "Look at these women, they just wanted it more than you did".

This is the most idiotic thing I have heard come out of anybodies mouth.


No matter how hard they all try. No matter how beautiful, how poised, how unique, how much they sacrafice, how much they "want" it. There will always 14 on one side and 16 on the other side of the selection process. Even two complete equals in all respects will have some difference between them, and an arbitrary unimportant, impersonal, and ridiculous method will be used to select the "one".

If she had said. "I think, in my experience, that these women will sell more products" there would be no viewer ratings though would there but surely there is a ratings grabbing way of saying that? Am I that out of touch?

These are impressionable young women who have already, most likely, taken more than a slightly skewed approach to personal development.

This is the kind of thinking that truly bothers me. There is far too many things out there tearing people down for not being good enough. Hard work is good, absolutely. But Dylan Armstrong, the Canadian Olympic Athlete who came 4th by 1 cm, shows that hard work and discipline and everything associated with it must be the reward, if there is one. This is what needs reinforcing, the experience.

Find joy in what you do, regardless of the outcome.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Honesty as a policy?

In Yoga, there are the Yamas, or social ethics. The first being Ahimsa (non harming) the second being Satya (truthfullness).

One of the hardest things I can think of is the act of being totally honest with yourself.

I have to admit, I like to delude myself quite often.

It works both ways. Thinking I am better, smarter, or cooler than I really am. In other words forgetting that my sole purpose on the earth is to serve others.

But that is already written about regularly.

Strangely, it is much harder sometimes to be honest about where I are limiting myself. Where I believe I am incapable of something or bound to a label of myself.

Take for instance the label of procrastinator. It had become such a belief at times that I truly was that person, until I started to learn who I really was.

We create who we are each day. When we truly live in the present moment, now, this breath, we can't be a label. This moment hasn't happened yet. We have never been here before.

Take for instance the approach to an arm balance or deep thigh bending posture where we "know" we have weak arms or weak legs or something else like that (even believing we are strong because we always have been). When we approach a pose as we were and not as we are, we rob ourselves. We enter the posture with a predetermined outcome and we will work to satisfy that belief. Neither stretching ourselves to grow nor being compassionate with ourselves when we need nurturing.

What this means is that to get the most out of life we have to engage in what we are doing at that moment. See what is possible. Who are we really? If nothing had ever happened before in our life, what would be possible this moment?

It is called a Yoga practice because we get a chance to fracture these beliefs every time we come to the mat.

I practice as often as I can and reap the benefits in all other areas of my life.

Practice yourself and see.