Gratitude

Above all gratitude gives us the strength and steadiness required to weather any storm.

When we have gratitude the world isn’t so scary or hopeless. We can’t feel alone when we have gratitude for the people in our lives. Nor can we feel poor when we are grateful for everything we have.

With gratitude in our hearts we are capable of seeing the abundance of our lives.

Kunda – what- ee?

Kundalini!

Officially my new favorite thing. It’s funky, it’s weird, it works!

Basically a moving meditation, this practice concentrates on activating and releasing the energy of the chakras or energy centers of the body. Beginning at the sacrum and moving upwards to just above the crown of the head, this practice acts to remove emotional blockages allowing us to access the various chakras and their energies.  When energy can flow freely we can engage fully with these energy centers and enlightenment is obtainable.

For some this might sound ridiculous.  Vocabulary like enlightenment and chakras sound like a bunch of hokey B/S.  Right? 

Well, let me sing you the same song to a different tune….

In her revolutionary research Dr. Candace Pert discovered the use of neuropeptides and their role in controlling the body’s  autonomic systems as well as memory creation and storage on the cellular level throughout the entire  body.  She found that when emotions are blocked by stress, denial, trauma or repression it prevents the flow of neuropeptides and diminishes the autonomic processes that are regulated by them.  This results in any number of problems with blood pressure, digestion, immunity, behavior etc..  Thus she demonstrated the significant role our feelings play in our health as well as our behavioral response to sensory input.  A collapse in just a few simple feedback loops can upset the entire body and disrupt our health and behavior.

Now, it may just be the coincidence of the millennia but when Dr. Pert mapped out the neuropeptide receptor dense areas along the spine responsible for receiving, storing and recalling emotions, she found that it matched perfectly with those of the chakras described by yoga masters for thousands of years. 

I, personally, don’t believe in coincidences. and instead see it as empirical evidence corroborating a story that until now we had only circumstantial evidence for.  Like detectives uncovering the smoking gun, Dr. Pert has put forth the physical evidence corroborating, “my clients story your honor”!  Whether you call it divine energy or neuropeptides, emotions affect/ control our health and behavior!

Two different languages, one simple Truth.  The mind and body are parts of the same whole, each affecting the other in a symbiotic relationship.  A process, if cultivated, we can consciously impact. 

Soooooo…
Screw the apple! A smile a day keeps the doctor away!

How are my yoga friends?!

Hey!

It’s been a long time.  You’ve been on my mind lately so I thought I’d take a minute to say “hi” and see how you are doing.  What’s new in your world?  How’s the family?  How’s your health? 

Things have been crazy here.  We were without power for 36 hours last week during the storm but we, and the house, are just fine.  #superherohusband.  It was also my birthday last week and while we didn’t go out the day of because of the storm, my husband took me to the symphony and dinner with friends that Saturday.  Yes, this is Texas and you can be fighting to survive the elements one day and attend the symphony the next.  LOL

The family is doing well.  We have all managed to get through the last year without getting sick #onlybyGod’sgrace.  And now most of us are vaccinated.  Everyday is a step closer to spending time with people again.  I don’t want to sound like a creeper… but I miss touching people!  I’m looking forward to the day when shaking hands is a polite greeting again and not an assault lol.  Or to offer adjustments to my yoga students in person, in a real classroom!

Anyways, hope you are doing well.   And if you ever need a little TLC I’m still doing my regular yoga class on Saturdays at 11:30am.  HealingHausYoga.com  Hope to see you soon.

With love and gratitude,
Melissa Harland



Continue your yoga journey.  

Join us for class.
Saturdays 11:30am
No need to join class live.  I’ll send you the recording to enjoy at your leisure.
HealingHauseYoga.com

Kindness Matters

NICE PEOPLE CAN’T BE TRUSTED!



“Wait, what? Holding doors open and helping old ladies across the street doesn’t make me untrustworthy!” You’re right it doesn’t, but neither does it make you nice. It makes you a kind person.  There is a big difference between nice and kind.  Today let’s explore these differences and how there is no place for “nice” in our lives, as we continue our discussion on Satya or Truthfulness. 



Like the KIND Bar boasts ” It’s nice to remove artificial ingredients, but kind never had to.”


    What’s wrong with being nice?  Well, like the slogan suggests, nice is artificial whereas kind is real.  The innate difference between nice and kind is that at the root of niceness are feelings of inadequacy and the need for approval or validation from others. Nice lacks honesty.  Nice is an illusion.  It is a false image imposed by what we think others want to see.  Nice lies to your face because it’s afraid of you.  Nice hides the truth in fancy little boxes only letting you see what it wants you to.
 

 Kindness, on the other hand, is a commitment to honesty without harming others and stems from a place of benevolence and love.  Kindness comes from our unique essence and speaks to the moment from a center of truth.  Kindness asks us to live from a place where there is nothing to defend and nothing to hide.  

The practice of Satya (truthfulness) and Ahimsa (non-violence) naturally culminate in kindness. There is no need for “nice” when you have kindness.  Honesty to ourselves and to others while resolving to do no harm provides us with the basic framework for building happy, competent and meaningful lives.   Trust in the truth, do no harm and the rest will fall in place. 

Satya

” I KNOW THAT IN EMBARKING ON NONVIOLENCE I SHALL BE RUNNING WHAT MIGHT BE TERMED A MAD RISK.  BUT THE VICTORIES OF TRUTH HAVE NEVER BEEN WON WITHOUT RISKS”.    

~GANDHI~
I know quoting Gandhi is a little cliche but I wanted to start with it because in this statement we can see how non violence is inherently intertwined with this week’s topic of Satya or Truthfulness.  Second only to nonviolence truth provides powerful moral guidance.  It can be scary and unpredictable but it is also pure and righteous.  Truth has the power to free us of our self made bonds and end suffering.  It is relentless in its demands and gracious in its offerings.   

You may think that being truthful simply means to not tell lies.  But Truth demands an integrity that is so much more than just not fibbing.   Satya is a total commitment to truth— in being, words, actions and intentions.  

When we choose to be truthful we choose to be real, we choose self expression over self-indulgence, growth over the need to fit in and fluidity over rigidity.  To better understand the subtlety of truth we must first understand why we might lie in the first place.  After all if the truth is so great why bother with lies?
So Why do we LIE? 

Carl Jung writes ” A lie would make no sense unless the truth was felt to be dangerous.”   
Like water or electricity people tend to prefer to take the path of least resistance.   Truth rarely seems to ask the easier choice of us and therefore in order to avoid perceived discomfort people lie.  For example, the desire to fit in, make others happy or to avoid the consequences of our actions may entice us to lie.  Driven by fear, lies are misguided attempts at self preservation that ultimately destroy the host.  

It takes courage and integrity to be real with ourselves as well as with others.  Truth invites us to places we may rarely go to or are completely comfortable with.  But a person of substance is willing to stay present in life no matter what its initial discomfort.  Truth has a boldness to it that, while not always enjoyable, is trustworthy and is worth the effort.  


Truth can be complex, and because of its marriage with non violence has a fluidity to it.  Because of this  we will delve deeper into truth in my next post but for now if you find yourself unsure about what to do in a situation ask yourself…


Is it love or fear that is driving my decision? 
If your answer is love… Great trust your gut! When we act from a place of love we can’t go wrong. 
If not… Maybe you should consider reevaluating and choose a different path.

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Foundations of Yogic Philosophy

The foundation of yogic philosophy ……...

consists of a set of basic ethical practices.  A code, if you will, to guide our moral compass.  Known as Yamas and Niyamas these principles, when followed, allow us to move through life with virtue and competence.

I’d like to start the conversation about this yogic code of ethics with the first and most important of its principles, Ahimsa or Non-violence

Non violence means refraining from harming others as well as ourselves in thoughts, words and actions. Hateful thoughts or words can be just as, if not more, harmful than a physical act of violence sometimes.

The idea of non violence often conjures up the image of a Buddhist monk in saffron colored robes communing with the butterflies or maybe a hippy dippy door mat living in a fantasy world lol. But that’s not what non violence means, far from it.  Practicing non violence doesn’t mean we have to check out of the real world or let other’s walk all over us but instead invites us to be responsible for our own behavior.

We have the obligation to not harm others in thought or actions but also to not allow others to be harmed on our watch.

Responsibility? Yeah a novel concept, huh? But if we truly thought about our actions and the effect they might have most of us would curb our fists as well as our mouths more often. But what is violence? Most of us like to think of ourselves as non violent people in general. But violence can be a sneaky little sucker and you might be hurting others or yourself with out even knowing it.

Most of us understand that physical violence is wrong and refrain.  “Don’t punch Ralph in the face…  Got it.” 

But it’s not that simple.  Physical violence is only a tiny, all be it, easy to identify piece of the pie.  But refraining from stabbing the mail man isn’t all it takes to align ourselves with the practice of non violence.  The key to whether an action, thought or statement is violent or not is a person’s motivation. 

For example, “have a nice day”  might be a kind departing phrase or a malicious attack depending on how the speaker intends it.  Bottom line is, are we acting out of love and kindness or out of fear/ anger?  If we are acting out of love then it is never violence no matter the action.  If not, well then we may be harming others.

Violence can manifest itself in many subtle ways.   A person’s daily actions and responses can contain elements of violence without them even being aware.   When our thoughts contain negative responses like disappointment, resentment, guilt, or shame, we are subtly creating violence. If you can’t forgive someone for something they’ve done against you, or if you can’t forgive yourself for something you’ve done, this is an act of violence because it pushes love away.

Other examples include expecting too much of ourselves or others, or acting out in response to fear. 

It’s important to note that it’s possible to be violent to ourselves. I consider this the most harmful because self inflicted injuries affect our interactions and relationships with others.  “How do you work that one out,” you ask?  Well the way we treat ourselves is how we treat others.  This war that goes on inside of ourselves gets projected outwards and transforms harm of the self into harm of others.  So not only are we causing ourselves harm but also harm to those around us.  Finding inner peace through ahimsa will in turn allow us to find peace in our interactions with others.

Keeping the above in mind, can you identify a way that violence has ever sneaked its way into your life?

ENJOY

all of life’s gifts to their fullest and yet be able to relinquish them willingly in favor of the divine….

 

Why are we here? The answer… to enjoy it. Why else exist if not to enjoy what life has to offer?

So if joyful is what we are here to be then why is it so hard sometimes to be happy? Well I’ll tell you why. Because we are by nature a clingy bunch. We seem to have the bad habit of getting so wrapped up in a situation, person or object that we forget to enjoy it.
What? You want examples? Ok …of how about deciding an event, like a wedding, has to go just so or the desire to keep a new car perfectly clean, perhaps? Clinging too hard to anything robs us of the pleasure we may have otherwise gleaned from it. We have to let go. That doesn’t mean to create distance or not fully absorb and enjoy a thing. Just that we don’t allow it to rule us. Like Albert from the “Bird Cage” says, “the important thing to remember is to not go to pieces”. In yoga non attachment is recognized as one of it’s core values and is called aparigraha.

Aparigraha invites us to strive for excellence without concern for success.   To not let the outcome drive us but to let the actions themselves be our motivation.  Don’t strive for excellence in order to be rich or famous.  Strive for excellence for excellence’s sake.  In short it’s the ability to let go. 

It seems natural to want to hold on to the things that bring us pleasure or joy but to do so will always result in pain.  Happiness comes from the divinity within.  No external object, relationship or experience can ever provide eternal fulfillment.  Therefore, clinging to these external objects will always ultimately result in pain.  This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take joy in things or be driven by any means.  Just the opposite is true.
We should revel in their awesomeness but know that true happiness does not lie without but within.  Don’t expect anything or anyone to ever bring you lasting happiness.  Placing that burden anywhere outside of ourselves is setting ourselves and, the object of our affection, up for failure.  Consider the following example if you will.

Breath.  A vital life giving component to our existence, right?  Breathing is necessary in our survival just as love, food, sleep or any number of things are.  And just like any of the other things we hold dear there is much enjoyment, joy and satisfaction in breathing deeply.   And yet, if we hold that breath in for too long it becomes toxic and death will shortly follow if we don’t exhale and take the next breath.  As with breath we must let all other things and experiences we take in go in order to carry on. 

So… take it all in, enjoy the expansive life giving pleasure of all things and then let them go.

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