Friday, February 22, 2013

Day 24: Feb 22nd, 2013

A little over halfway through! My body, mind, and soul are transforming and growing in ways that I did not foresee. This is not a bad thing. I almost feel like I am living an entirely new life, or maybe it is just that I am seeing the outside world in a new way. Many of our 40 day meetings and our yoga classes focus on how one should live in and perceive his or her surrounding world, with all of its people, all of its trees and waterfalls, all of its beauty, all of its greed, all of its happiness, all of its suffering. While it may be ideal to practice yoga all day long, everyday, the truth of the matter is that we all must interact with society in some way or another.  In this past Wednesday's 40 Day meeting, David and Joan spoke a little bit about the 8 limbs of yoga, originally found in Patanjali's Yoga Sutra,written in 200 A.D!!!! Joan spoke about that fact that the ancient civilizations mapped out and transcribed the practice of yoga so well that we can still follow it today. What is even more amazing is that although recorded centuries and centuries ago, the foundational principles and teachings of yoga are still so powerfully relevant today. Maybe more than ever before, we need yoga! What would happen to our society if the 8 limbs of yoga became a central, mandatory text in all schools. The 8 limbs of yoga detail how we should live on a  daily basis so as to live in balance, in peace, in good health, and in connection with the greater whole. Most importantly, the 8 limbs of yoga seek to teach us how to train the restlessness of our mind so that we can let go of our ego, in all senses of the word. The 8 limbs of yoga are:

  1. Yama :  Universal morality
  2. Niyama :  Personal observances
  3. Asanas :  Body postures
  4. Pranayama :  Breathing exercises, and control of prana
  5. Pratyahara :  Control of the senses
  6. Dharana :  Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
  7. Dhyana :  Devotion, Meditation on the Divine
  8. Samadhi :  Union with the Divine

David specifically spoke about the 5th limb, Pratyahara, or control of the senses.   In Sanskrit, Ahara means nourishment and Pratyahara translates to something like" to withdraw the senses from any attachment to external factors." Due to the number of distractions in our lives, we are constantly stimulated. We seek and give in to stimulations from we check our face books, when we eat too much junk food, when we drink coffee, when we judge someone based on what car they drive. ( I do these things too). We come to live off of these stimulations and forget how to live without them. These stimulations become who we are, in a way that prevents us from ever really knowing what our inner selves really want and need. Our senses connect us to these stimulations, and therefore, by controlling the senses, we become less tempted by external factors and more attentive to our inner sources, where we will undoubtedly find a call to be kind, to ourselves and to others. David described it as " not letting the glitz of the outside world dazzle you, and to train ourselves into being a different way in the  world" Pratyahara is not advising that we shut off our senses completely, as this is not physically possible. Rather, we must become more mindful of how our senses are serving us. Do I really need a cup of coffee in the morning? Which foods nourish my body and mind? Am I judging someone based on what they are wearing? Are my relationships with others giving me joy or stress? What makes me feel stressed and angry? What makes me feel genuinely happy and at peace? 

Yoga is not about gaining a new self, it is about gaining a new and stronger sense of self! When you actually pay attention to the " voice inside," you will be surprised by how easily it begins to guide you gracefully and mindfully throughout everyday life and how it begins to change your relationship to external factors. This is what I am experiencing right now and  I am seeing the world around me in a whole new way. Regardless of what I thought I knew before, I am now beginning to see what is truly important in life and what truly has no significance. In our meeting, Joan quoted Baron Baptiste, who writes that " As we remove the rocks that block our wisdom and light, we find that we are able to set more and more time aside for the things that restore us : time spent in nature,solitude, meditation,  intimacy, having heart-to-heart conversations that heal. These moments spend in restoring ourselves are the sign post of our progress in health." My inner voice is beginning to tell me that these activities that restore us are the only things that truly matter.  I encourage you all to take time to pay gratitude and to heal yourself today.

An easy way to pay gratitude to yourself everyday is to nourish yourself with delicious, yet nutritious foods that heal and strengthen your body. Our bodies truly are our temples and we get out what we put in. This week, all 40 dayers are doing a 3 day fruit cleanse, only eating raw fruit for 3 days.A fruit cleanse or fast allows the body to clear out all of its toxins, gives the organs an opportunity to rest and reset, and helps to break old eating habits. My fruit cleanse ended today and this is what my diet consisted of for the past 3 days: 2 avocados, an orange, an apple, 3 bananas, a pineapple, a melon, a pomegranate, a plum, a pear, a kiwi, a mango, and 6 white turkish figs.Many people believe that one will constantly feel hungry, light-headed, and dizzy while fasting or cleansing, but I did not find this to be the case at all. I did have a slight headache today ( which was cured not by advil, but by yoga!), but this is common. The body is going through a waste removal process and therefore, it is common for some people to get a headache or to feel slight flu- like symptoms during a cleanse. Therefore, it is recommended that one allow a lot of time for rest during a cleanse. A fast is not only a fast from food, but is also a fast from other external factors, such as television, talking, working too much. The fruit cleanse was not as difficult as it thought I would be. The fascinating part is that I did not have cravings for junk food, but rather for a large salad and grains- It is interesting to see what the body craves when we only eat the basics. I do not feel extremely different, but I have a feeling that the day after the cleanse ends, tomorrow, is the day that I will feel its true effects.  Either way,  a salad or a bowl of warm oatmeal with raisins have never been more appealing.  Regular fasts are part of many cultures and religions, and I think that I will start doing a cleanse every month. It is said that the best time to do is a cleanse is when the seasons are changing, so if you are considering doing one yourself, spring arrives in about a month. One thing I can suggest is that if you are a coffee drinker, cut out the coffee before hand. Going cold turkey on the coffee and doing a fruit cleanse at the same time can be quite difficult.

As always, thank you for reading! Namaste!

This is Brooklyn the Boxer- now thats a downward dog if i've ever seen one! She eats her bones like this and hangs out in downward doggie for hours!

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