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dharma

Soak up the sun

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Soak up the sun

I'm gonna soak up the sun
While it's still free
I'm gonna soak up the sun
Before it goes out on me 
Sheryl Crow

 

The sun's still shining, but the end is near. Every third day or so the wind stirs along the streets of the Mission and I wish I had a scarf wrapped up to my nose. At night my wet hair chills next to the window I should have closed. For a few weeks already, the flower stand along my morning commute has been selling pumpkins instead of roses. Any day now, it seems, the cold will renounce for good our lingering honeymoon with summer and the sun will take back its generosity. So I'm savoring summery ales, sweaty Sunday strolls and the freckles on my face while I can. While they're still in season, thanks to San Francisco stretching this one.

It's so easy to miss something when it's gone, but it takes a greater awareness to appreciate relationships and experiences in the moment. 
I recently read an inspiring article in Mantra Magazine about living fervently. In essence, the takeaway was that if you're going to say "yes" to something, you better make it a "Hell yes!" This idea, the idea that when we choose to do something why not choose to do it with our full soul, really resonated with me. How often do you RSVP to a social event, for example, only to spend most of your time on your phone or wishing you were somewhere else? What if instead you really committed to being where you were at all times, dialing in rather than checking out? What would that be like?

Back in my Idaho days, I competed with students from other schools in Idaho and its surrounding states in both speech and debate. The realm of speech comprised many categories, including humor and improv. My favorite category though, the category I competed in, was Original Oratory. In "OO," as we called it, the topic was up to the participant who was also responsible for composing, memorizing and performing a ten-minute speech on said topic. My 15 minutes of speech fame came in the ten minutes I performed "Live It Up," a motivational speech inspired by the wild adventures of my best friend Lacey and myself. In this oration I encouraged dancing with abandon, embarking on spontaneous road trips and playing elaborate pranks on teachers. These were examples of how one might live life more fully, I explained.

Now, despite what one might guess upon seeing the hairdo in my current corporate headshot, I'm still a young person. But even a decade ago I was already contemplating the fleeting nature of our days in this life (or at least this lifetime). The difference is now I understand "living it up" doesn't mean doing anything drastic or even doing anything at all. It's both easier and more difficult than that. To live fully is to live presently. To savor what's there when it's there.

Meditation is helping me do this more consistently. I used to be THE poster child for FOMO but, thanks to the work I've been putting into strengthening my presence muscle, I'm getting better at following Sheryl Crow's advice and "wanting what I've got." (And I'm much happier for it.) 

And on the mat I've been trying something simple that has made a significant impact in terms of enabling me to stay present. I've keep closing my eyes as I flow. I'll open them through jumps back to chaturanga and during balancing poses, but I try to keep them closed (or almost closed) more often than not. As a result, I feel like I'm savoring the breath and the movement and the sensations like I'd savor a rare cheese. It's blissful to practice this way and it's my version of saying "Hell yes!" to the practice. It lets me squeeze all the benefits out like I'm squeezing the remains of summer out of SF. 

Soon I'll be savoring fall. I bought a pair of cold weather boots this week. I'll start getting pumpkin ales when summer ales are off the shelf, and I'll enjoy them. But while I've got it, I'm, I'm guna soak up the sun (with my eyes closed). I've got my 45 so on I...can rock on!

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Manifest Destiny

Back in Florida, my dad belongs to a New Age circle that meets every other Sunday to discuss energy healing and metaphysics and paranormal phenomenon and other dimensional worlds and so forth. I once tagged along to a special event of theirs, at which a visiting medium channeled deceased friends and relatives of the audience members. Out of nowhere, as the event was wrapping up I was approached by a New Ager, a (presumably psychically-endowed) member of my father's circle. This man took my hands and bent his head low to look into my face. "Now you! You get what you want," he told me, with great sincerity. "Just remember: be careful what you want."

I carried those words with me for a long time after the encounter, cherishing them as personal prophesy. Now I realize my father's New Age buddy probably wasn't implying I'm unique when he told me I get what I want. We all get what we want in life, if we want it badly enough. It's the Law of Attraction. And it's very real. As the old king tells Santiago in The Alchemist, "When you really want something to happen, the whole universe conspires to make that wish come true." He was talking about dharma.

Living out of sync with our individual dharmas (with "dharma" defined here as "destiny") is no doubt largely at fault for the chronic anxiety that plagues much of our society today. As an obvious example, most of us choose to spend forty hours or more a week doing something that makes us completely miserable. We choose this misery out of ego and fear.

So how can you cut through ego to discover your dharma and find lasting happiness in your life's work? 

It's simple. Meditate. Meditation will (over time) attune your awareness to your own vibrations and to those of the Universe at large. Meditate to attune to small soul and to Big Soul. Then ask yourself two questions: "What would I choose to do with my time if I had to do it for free?" and "What would I do if nobody could know I was the one behind the work?" The answers should point you in the direction of your dharma.

I've been meditating more often these days and, through meditation, I've day-by-day, sit-by-sit come closer to what it is I want to Do with a capital "D." I've said it a few times, but now it is undeniably clear and I am no longer afraid of it. As proof, I'll state my manifestation here in plain words. Not because I need to make it public, but because I want to share the joy of choosing to follow my dream (even if only part time for now) and perhaps inspire you to choose to follow yours. 

First, I want to write. I've been an avid reader all my life. I love words and I love being surprised by a unique voice or unusual story. My room is a temple of fiction - my closet full of novels and my desk stacked with short story collections. But around my room you'll also find piles of writing reference books and writing memoirs (including Stephen King's and Natalie Goldberg's). Particularly over the past few years, as strongly as I've been drawn to read I have felt the pull to produce words of my own. Yet up until very recently I've largely suppressed this calling. No more.

My other dream is to teach yoga. I love working with people - something writing doesn't cater as well to - and I love the idea of helping others remember who it is they really are. Also, I love to think about energy, talk about energy and work with energy. With yoga, I can make that a career! A career that marries empowerment, spirituality and creativity - what else could my soul ask for?

So writing + teaching yoga: that's the two-pronged dream I'm officially manifesting for myself, starting with teaching yoga at work once a week and self-publishing a KidLit book with illustrations by my childhood friend. Soon will come the day that I'll have my own yoga studio and lead retreats several times a year, perhaps with a focus on dream yoga. And soon I'll be writing outside of this blog. Kids books, short stories, travel articles, maybe even a novel or two. It's happening. It's happening because we are pure energy and we get what we want. All we have to do is choose.

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