FLOW W/FRED – 10.23.14 (YFD – Gratitude)

Yoga isn’t a magic healer.  It isn’t an ancient religion that combats Christianity.  Yoga is about mindfulness.  Mindfulness is “the intentional, accepting and non-judgmental focus of one’s attention on the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment.”  Yoga is about becoming aware of how to navigate the mind and maintain the body in the present moment.  Yoga simply aids your body and provides a system of internal and external ethics to aid your belief system.  So let’s get those misconceptions out of the way.

In this present moment, I think we deserve to throw a little gratitude our own way.  Life doesn’t stop … ever.  And our minds run right along with it.  Take a moment to be thankful that the present moment provides new and amazing opportunities.  We might be angry, upset, frustrated, annoyed and any number of other emotions right now.  Be thankful though that our mind is capable of handling the load.  Be thankful that we have an opportunity right now to make our joy.  Each new moment is an opportunity to be thankful to those around us.  Each new moment is an opportunity to be thankful to ourselves.  We are worth it.  100%.

Gratitude

Even in difficult situations, gratitude can be cultivated.  First acknowledge the difficulty, then find the gift.  An example would be “I am angry in this moment, and I am grateful I have a mind which knows this is so and can deal with it.”

Find the gift in the moment of sadness may not eradicate the sadness, but it may bring your emotional body back into balance.  There are times when the pain was so acute I had to get down on the floor and cry, sometimes curling into myself and rocking like a child, sometimes lying still.  Even in these deep releases of my grief, I consciously acknowledged by gratitude for my big heart and my enormous capacity to feel.  Soon after acknowledging my gratitude, my grief abated and I could resume whatever activity the outpouring of emotion had interrupted.  I felt emptied out, still sad, but also refreshed and awake to the gift of each moment, each breath.

BOOK – “Yoga for Depression” by Amy Weintraub

Flow w/Fred – 9.25.14 (YFD – Mindfulness for Dysthymia)

Mindfulness for Dysthymia

Cultivate an attitude of “being okay with whatever is happening.”  Even when we feel uncomfortable – “feeling lonely, feeling bored, feeling upset about something” – if the discomfort is acknowledged, if we do not resist what is happening, the discomfort usually fades.  “When I’m able to observe whatever is happening and let it be okay, life is a lot easier.  I get a lot less tense and a lot less depressed.  Things don’t stick and my life goes more smoothly.”

“All sorts of little fears come up during the course of the day, which, if I’m practicing and paying attention, I can say, ‘Oh, that’s fear,’ and let it go.  If I’m not practicing, then it builds and I start closing down.  I feel driven by whatever is going on in my mind; there’s more tightness in my body, and I lose my sense of expansion.  When I’m depressed, there’s much more resistance to sitting, much more resistance to watching my mind.”

“I begin to actually feel the energy in my body.  Being in touch with what’s going on in my body through Yoga postures teaches me what’s going on with my depression.”

We want to push away what is painful, but when we close off to our pain, protecting ourselves from suffering, we reduce our capacity for joy as well as our ability to connect with others.

When the heart is closed, we live unaffected by the beauty of a sunset or the blooming of an orchid.  We are numb to the multitude of offerings from the natural world.  And we begin to feel unreal to ourselves.  Cultivating a practice that lets us feel calmer allows us to stay present to our feelings, so that we can take in and really feel the sense of joy at simple pleasures – the sight of a lone cow on a hill at sunset, the voice of an old friend on the phone, the smell of orange blossom on a bike ride through the neighborhood.  This is what it means to be alive.

BOOK – “Yoga for Depression” by Amy Weintraub

Flow w/Fred – 9.18.14 (YFD – Mindfulness for Anxiety-Based Depression)

In class Thursday evening, we used the following passage to connect our minds and bodies.  Pain is definitely a difficult subject to tackle.  It has cost each of us so many hours of our lives.  It is allowed to however.  Pain will happen to all of us and has happened to all of us.  Being mindful of the present moment in regards to it is a skill necessary of practice.  And this practice is not limited to simply seated, standing in Mountain or laying down in Savasana.  Mindfulness of pain and the present moment can happen during any task.  It just takes time and practice to become more aware of the affect pain has on us.  I’m still practicing, so do not expect day number one to show incredible signs of release and enlightenment :).  One day at a time and one moment at a time is all you need to deal with the struggle all of us face with pain.  Take yoga with you off your mat today and enjoy the last day of summer!

Mindfulness for Anxiety-Based Depression
“Mindfulness meditation does not require closing one’s eyes, although often people find that comfortable.  I usually close my eyes when I am sitting, but I open them if I am sleepy.  I can still be paying attention to my process; I can feel my body; I can feel my breath; I can attend to my mind states.  A person could think of themselves as a mindfulness practitioner and never sit down.  You could walk for your entire practice.  You can cook mindfully, clean house mindfully, do any job mindfully.  Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention with the hope of seeing more clearly what is happening inside and outside.  If I see more clearly, I will be able to respond in a way that doesn’t cause suffering to myself or anyone else.”

Pain doesn’t go away as a result of a meditation practice.  Even long-term meditators experience the ordinary losses that being human entails.  However, the recognition of impermanence that comes with meditation practice helps support the understanding that the pain will pass.  We don’t need to identify with our pain, our depression, or even our negative thoughts about ourselves.  We don’t have to suffer more because we’re in pain, which is what happens when we find ourselves unable to acknowledge and simply accept the pain.  Sitting in meditation, attending to the passing thoughts and feelings, helps us notice just how fleeting our feeling states are.  Suffering is resistance to the pain; suffering is struggling with the pain; suffering is saying that it should be otherwise.  Don’t talk about the end of the pain.  Talk about the end of the struggle with what it is.

BOOK – “Yoga for Depression” by Amy Weintraub

Flow w/Fred – 9.11.14 (YFD – Meditation and Mindfulness)

Conflict on the inside and outside causes stress.  Where the problem can begin is when we believe the interior conflict is too much for the world.  We fear that the world will look at us with disgust, judgment and shock.  I have allowed the depth of my own mind to scare me on several occasions.  We all have.  The human mind is capable of going to some very dark and disturbing places.  Take a moment to look at some of the truly mesmerizing and dark movies that have been made over the years.  Our minds can cause so much internal conflict based on how we interpret our childhood and the situations we experience as we age.  The internal conflict arises because we try to hide these thoughts.  We don’t want to have them.  They’re wrong.  They’re disturbing.  And they’re disgusting.  We tell ourselves these things.  But can you truly control your mind?

Yoga allows us a freedom from the judgment of us.  It is sometimes hardest to satisfy your own picture of what you should be.  And this picture is manipulated and formed from our childhood and the expectations other relationships (personal, professional, etc).  Yoga allows us a place where it is okay to let the mind pour out.  It is okay to let the wrong, disturbing and disgusting cascade across.  When we repress our thoughts, we create an internal conflict.  The internal conflict becomes stress.  Stress keeps us from enjoying the present moment and living life to the fullest.  So the next time you find yourself at a red light, waiting in line at the grocery store or during your meditation on your mat, remember that it is okay to let the thoughts cascade across like the drops from a waterfall.  They are just passing by and we are not bound to them.  Be mindful.

Mindfulness
The practices we do simply strip away the obstacles we’ve accumulated in our daily lives, so that we can be conscious of our wholeness even in our disappointments and our pain.  But the practices of Yoga, including meditation, will purify your mind and body so that there is less constriction, less room for depression, and more room to experience the ecstasy of your wholeness, to experience every moment in your life.

“That state is some thing that is happening and available all the time.  We merely notice it more when we use special methods.  It gives us a taste of what it’s like not to be in conflict inside, to be open to what’s happening.  We feel more energy, we are more creative and the mind is clearer.”

Mindfulness is the technique used to develop insight into the nature of the self and the universe.  The simplest example given is that if you have never meditated before and close your eyes and are quiet, the first insight that may come is that the mind jumps all over the place and is less in your control than you might have imagined.  As you watch your thoughts and feelings rise and fall, the idea of impermanence is revealed.

When, over time, we observe our thoughts, it is easy to see that much of our reactions to our present circumstances are the result of the stories we have made out of the events of our lives.  We have stories about our childhoods that rationalize our adult behavior.  We have stories about our relationships that explain their failures to ourselves.  What would happen if we dropped our stories?  Might we be able to engaged with others without the limits of our preconceived notions about the way things usually turn out?

BOOK – “Yoga for Depression” by Amy Weintraub