Go North

As has been typical with Montreal weather lately, this weekend called for shit in the form of rain. However, after mulling it over, Mother Nature (a.k.a the whore) had a change of heart and we were the well-intended recipients of <GASP!> sun… So, I headed North to the mountains for some peace and quiet. These are a few awesome things that I came across on my morning power walks – complete with a feline stalker. Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, I will admit to you, dear readers, that I hate cats. Yes, it’s true. I’m a dog person. Quite frankly, I consider cats to be evil masking around as innocent-looking fluff balls. Anyway, I ran into the fellow you’ll see below while walking on a secluded path in the woods and well, the little bastard adopted me. He followed me all the way home and he MADE ME LOVE HIM. The little shit. Every time I leaned down to try and take a decent pic, he ran at me like a damn dog and the rub fest would begin. No matter how I tried to escape, dude just wouldn’t have it. Well… he’s pretty good-looking for the spawn of Satan, don’t you think?

Evil feline [Photo: RAnnDomized]

Evil feline [Photo: RAnnDomized]

Photo: RAnnDomized

Photo: RAnnDomized

Evil feline in a bed of clover [Photo: RAnnDomized]

Evil feline in a bed of clover [Photo: RAnnDomized]

Evil feline coming to get me [Photo: RAnnDomized]

Evil feline coming to get me [Photo: RAnnDomized]

Now on to more interesting things.

Photo: RAnnDomized

Photo: RAnnDomized

My favorite tree ever - it looks like it's standing in Vriksasana [Photo: RAnnDomized]

My favorite tree ever – it looks like it’s standing in Vriksasana [Photo: RAnnDomized]

Photo: RAnnDomized

Photo: RAnnDomized

Photo: RAnnDomized

Photo: RAnnDomized

 

Peace,

A

Grateful. Yeah, That’s Right!

So often, we focus our thoughts on the negative, while rarely pausing to think about the positive. It’s much easier to bitch and moan when things don’t go our way, then it is to acknowledge what we’ve been blessed with. How many of you pause to appreciate the little things? What kind of things make you happy? With the holidays fastly approaching and 2010 almost behind us, it’s the perfect time for me to look back at some of the things that I’ve been grateful for this year.

– First off, I’m pretty damn grateful that I finally got off my ass and started writing again after a very, very long hiatus. I’m much happier when I’m writing – though not so much when my inspiration is AWOL, or when it’s stuck inside my head screaming to get out.

– I’m beyond thrilled that I’ve been able to deepen my yoga practice this year. While this is a work in progress, I made some great progress that really motivated and inspired me in 2010. OK, having a crushed disc in my neck currently feels like I’ve taken 15 steps backward but hey, shit happens.

– One of the things that has truly inspired joy in me this year, is my new-found clarity and peace of mind. I’m convinced that this is yoga’s doing – I am now able to see the smallest of things and feel big appreciation for said thing(s). I’ve gone from a half-empty perspective to a half-full perspective. I so rock.

– I’m glad that I finally conquered my hesitation (not to be confused with fear) about practicing yoga in a studio (What if people look at me? What if they notice my flaws? BLAH BLAH BLAH). Who. Cares. But more specifically, I’m glad I started doing Moksha (hot yoga) after a year of procrastination and excuses. Yes, that’s on hold for now but this neck is bound to heal at some point!

– I’m grateful for some of the people that I’ve met via the blogging community. I didn’t expect to build friendships when I started blogging, but have been pleasantly surprised [Hello Jill & Jo! Hello Bram – I look forward to our first ‘date’ – especially now that I know you have a hot accent! ;-)].

– I am always, always grateful for my mom & dad, despite my occasional crank factor. They are amazing, inspirational people, who have always been present and active in myself and my brother’s lives. (Hello mum & dad! Mum, don’t cry for God’s sake!).

– As always, I love my dictionary of Annisms. I am thankful that I have the ability and creativity to come up with shit that most people will never think of. My friends can attest to this, and to appease your curiosity, I shall post the Dictionary of Annisms in the New Year. Friends: please email me your favorites because sadly, I think my age is impacting my memory. What? What do you mean I’m too young to develop Alzheimer’s? :-p

– I am so very grateful that my life isn’t like a soap opera. My GOD, it’s no wonder these people need face lifts and Botox with all that drama!

– I’m thankful that I’ve learned to let go.

– Lastly, I’m thankful that I know myself, that I know who I am, and that I’m happy with me. I leave you with this quote by my friend Dr. Seuss:

 

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.”

What are YOU thankful for? Come on people – talk to me!

Letting Go of Judgment

A few days ago I received my latest Amazon order, which included a few books that I had selected from Moksha‘s recommended reading list. For those of you who don’t know, Moksha has hot yoga studios throughout Canada and also offer yoga teacher training.  Since I’m at a stage where I want to deepen my practice and eventually teach, I thought it might be a good idea to see what all the yogis are reading these days. Surprisingly, the list was quite extensive! To be honest, when I thought about deepening my yoga practice and teaching, I automatically assumed that this would involve a more physical process. Not so! Anyway, from the list, I picked three books that spoke to me the most- books that I felt I wouldn’t abandon out of boredom. Admittedly, I opted to ignore the two books that I should probably read first – but we can get back to those when I’ve actually read them 😀

I opted to start with Judith Lasater’s Living Your Yoga. In a nutshell, this book talks about how we can use yoga to help us reconnect with the ‘scared’ in everyday life, and how our ability to do this can positively impact all aspects of our lives – not just our yoga practice. I haven’t finished the book yet, however Chapter 4: Self-Judgment stood out for me. Lasater talks about how often, we don’t seek comfort in our yoga poses, but rather, we over-challenge ourselves in order to conquer the pose. According to her, ‘it is not uncommon for students to berate themselves with self-judging internal dialogue during practice.’ Lasater perfectly describes how I’ve been feeling lately; my internal dialogue has been a real pain in the ass and I think that as a result of feeling ‘forced’ to practice or work out, I’ve switched off altogether. I also realized that the bulk of my internal dialogue revolves around self-judgment, and I’m conscious of the fact that I am my harshest critic. That said, I never viewed this in the way that Lasater describes it: if you expect more from yourself then you do from others, then you have the mindset that you are better, and consequently, you must perform at a superior level. This puts things into perspective for me, because when I consider Lasater’s viewpoint, I realize that I often put a lot of unnecessary pressure on myself, only to achieve the opposite of what I want. This not only applies to my yoga practice and my work-outs, but it also applies in other areas of my life. I always tend to think that if I want something done right, I need to do it myself. I don’t think this means that I’m better then other people – I just have very high expectations of myself and therefore transfer those expectations on to others. Rarely do I think that someone can’t do what I ask – so in some ways, this can be good or bad. On one hand, this means that I have faith that someone can do the job, but on the other, I tend to be harsh in my judgment when they can’t. Ah-ha moment!

To liberate yourself of negative thoughts and self-judgment, you have to be aware of them; you must realize that judgment typically = blame. One of the exercises that Lasater suggests trying, is to not criticize yourself or anyone else for an entire hour. She adds a note that if that’s too much to ‘overcome’, to try it for 5 minutes. That’s quite a difference, isn’t it? 60-minutes versus 5-minutes? And what does it say about us as a society, if we can’t go one hour without judging someone?  Well, I tried this exercise and can tell you that not judging yourself or others is quite difficult. In doing so, I realized that we are prone to judgment much more often then we think – little things like commenting on or thinking about: another person’s actions, lack of action, words, perspective, attire, preferences, attitude, opinions – this is judgment, and we do it every single day without even realizing it. Why? Because our society tells us that it’s OK to judge each other.

So people, it looks like we all need to take a step back and ease up on ourselves, because letting go means that we should be accepting of ourselves and those around us, regardless of our shortcomings. It means that we should take life as it comes, and actively engage in it without judgment.

Got something to say? Speak!

It’s Time to Reboot!

Over the last two weeks, my yoga practice and work-outs have taken a hit and I’ve been beating my head against the wall trying to figure out what my problem is (besides my assortment of injuries). Why do I feel a disconnect between mind and body? For those of you who lead an active lifestyle, you know how I feel;  you know how frustrating it is when you’re on a roll, hitting the gym regularly, practicing yoga a couple of times a week – or doing whatever it is that helps you ditch the stress of everyday life, and then one day, it all comes to a grinding halt and you’re left listening to that little voice inside your head that just won’t quit. Mine says things like:

Go to the gym! You look huge today!

You should do some yoga!

Go power walking – it’s nice out and you didn’t go the gym/yoga/ box – whatever.

Stop being lazy! You won’t achieve your goal if you don’t work out!

Turd alert! (this is when I’m feeling particularly turd-like)

I could go on but you get the point. That voice not only guilt-trips me all day long, but it also zones in on every self-perceived flaw that I think I have and picks away at them like a scab. My more reasonable side occasionally steps in to remind that annoying voice that I’ve got a knee injury and two tendinitis, and “why don’t you just SHUT UP already” but the annoying voice persists.

So, I’ve been feeling blocked – like my mind and body are at odds with one another. My mind wants one thing and my body constantly tells it to piss off. The fact that I’ve been in a fair amount of pain probably doesn’t help soften my body’s attitude toward me, nor do the work-outs that I’ve been doing regardless of said pain. But hey – I can’t let the annoying voice win, right? After all, society expects me to be perfect.

Because I want to get to the root of the problem and eventually move past it, I’ve been giving this a lot of thought and I came to the conclusion that I’m not dealing with a lack of motivation or desire. I want to work out, and I’m desperate to step onto my mat for more then 20 darn minutes. And, it’s important to me keep cultivating that Zenitude I’ve been working so hard to achieve – so, what’s the problem? Ah-HA! Light bulb moment.

My ‘blockage’ goes hand-in-hand with the feeling of being overwhelmed at everything I “have” to do: gym, yoga, hot yoga, power walk, eat properly, don’t eat, lose weight, gain weight – work, work, work because it’s peak season, stress, don’t stress, run around to this place and that place. Somehow, I always find myself double-booked because I don’t keep track of what I’ve got going on, which further adds to my stress. It never ends – and I know it’s not just me. Men and women in today’s society simply feel overwhelmed – like there aren’t enough hours in a day to do what needs to get done. So at what point do we say STOP? When do we switch ourselves off and make time for ourselves? When do we reboot?

Thinking about all if this lead me to the realization that I’m always ‘on.’ My brain never stops; even when I’m ‘sleeping’, I’m thinking about work crap or feeling anxious that I’ve lost my Zen. When I get on my mat, I’m thinking about the pervert next door or Stomping Tom upstairs (I will pay good money to the person who invents the OFF switch for my brain, let me tell you!) . I feel like I’m ‘on’ 24/7. I have a laptop that never shuts down, a BlackBerry that never gets turned off, a personal cell phone that beeps with every incoming text message, a constant influx of emails flying through cyberspace, Tweets, Stumbles, Diggs, Facebook. Like so many people today, I’m almost always connected, reachable, which means that there’s always something interfering with my energy flow. And that, ladies and gents, is what’s creating my mind/body disconnect. What’s the solution? Well for me, it means turning off the laptop and ignoring the BB once I’m done with work at 5pm. I work to live, not the other way around. It also means that I need to keep working on how to effectively disassociate myself from all of the daily crap so that I can empty my mind and focus on achieving that mind/body connection. At some point, you have to step back and breathe. Recharge. Reboot.

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed and/or disconnected?

~Namaste~

Quote of the Day: Why Yoga?

Yoga helps us to remove all obstructing (mental) clouds, so that we may come to enjoy the sunshine within. It is an extensive program of reeducation through which we learn, step by step, to live in the light of our true nature. Only when we have truly found ourselves will we be able to live in peace, harmony, and happiness in the world. This is what is sometimes called the sacred life.

– Georg Feuerstein on Living Your Yoga