Yoga for Depression – 10.30.14 (Karuna Meditation)

We all suffer.  We all fall down.  It is part of being human.

The beauty is that we are completely capable of caring for ourselves through our ability to be compassionate.  We want to help others.  It is born into us.  However, it is extremely hard to show compassion to the one we know the most about.  It is often times hard to show compassion towards ourselves.  We know every intimate detail of each moment.  We know our joys, but we also know our deepest and darkest secrets.  Are we worthy of such compassion?  Yes.

You are worth your own love.  You are worth your own compassion.  Each and every new moment is an opportunity to amaze yourself.  In the present, you can find an experience that is new and beautiful.  Grab on to the moment and understand that we all suffer.  Grab on to the moment and understand that we all fall down.  The person that your mind draws to in the meditation below could be suffering right along with you.  The kind words that you speak to them must also be the kind words you speak to yourself.  You’re pretty damn cool.  Just sayin’.  Namaste!

Yoga Experience – Karuna Meditation

This meditation experience is called Karuna, which in both Sanskrit and Pali means compassion.  How, even in our deepest depression or in the midst of a panic attack, can we find compassion for ourselves?  Traditional texts suggest the two simple phrases to cultivate the state of compassion – May I be free from suffering, May I find peace.  At first, as you repeat these phrases, they may feel hollow, especially if you are suffering right now from depression.  Practicing karuna meditation can help break the grip of our self-absorbed, obsessive thoughts so that we are awake to compassion for ourselves and others.

Sometimes the darkness may feel so overwhelming that we forget even the memory of light.  But when we bring compassion into the dark, we realize that we are not alone there.  All human beings suffer.  It is part of the human condition.  In fact, says author and theologian Mathew Fox, suffering is “the heartbeat of the universe.”  Our suffering is both intimate – ours alone – and communal, connecting us with others, enlarging our capacity to feel compassion.  When we practice karuna we grow our compassion, even in the darkness.  The heart softens and the mind is soothed.

Below is a Karuna Meditation Script.
Now bring into your mind someone still alive who has offered you unconditional regard, someone whose love you can feel.  Perhaps this person is suffering now, perhaps not.  As human beings, we all face great physical pain or mental suffering in our lives.  If your loved one isn’t suffering now, he or she will be at some time in the future.  See his or her face shining in your imagination.  Continuing to breathe slowly and deeply, breathe in with the words May you be free from suffering.  Breathe out with the words May you find peace.  Feel that person’s regard for you and send them compassion, repeating the phrases several times.

Now it is time to offer the same compassion to yourself.  Repeat the phrases, using a long, slow inhalation and exhalation, changing the pronoun to “I.”  Acknowledge the suffering you have felt and the suffering you may have caused others as you continue to breathe and offer yourself compassion.  Without any judgment, hold yourself as you would your beloved in your heart and offer yourself compassion and forgiveness.  May I be free from suffering, May I find peace.

If you feel the compassion dissolving into fear or grief or some other disturbing mental state, do not judge yourself.  Accept your humanness and acknowledge your heart – how you have the capacity to feel all your emotions.  Let the breath be like a soothing lullaby to yourself.  Fill your lungs with breath until there is not more room, then exhale completely, so that you are completely empty and ready to receive.

BOOK – “Yoga for Depression” by Amy Weintraub (BUY IT!)

Performance Yoga – 10.27.14 (Be Your Own Champion)

Growing up in athletics, I spent countless hours working on physical skills.  Middle school saw me enjoy the regimen of football, basketball and tennis.  Basketball ended during my sophomore year of high school, but tennis continued.  I still dabble in USTA tennis from time to time and miss playing it regularly.  Ice hockey has taken up most of my free moments now.  All of this information about me was for this reason … I never trained my brain. 

Countless hours were devoted to perfecting the physical actions necessary to be successful in life.  I cannot remember a single time during my years and years of team and individual athletics that I allowed my workouts to permeate my brain.  Yoga introduced the physical stretches that I had been looking for, but also introduced me to the art of listening without judgment.  As the passage below states, there is very little to distinguish us physically from one another.

Let your mind be free.  Let your mind rest in affirmations.  You are worth the time!  You will gain energy!  Start doubting your doubt.  Have a great one!  Namaste.

Be Your Own Champion

The importance of the mental side of athletics was once brilliantly summed up by basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: “Your mind is what makes everything else work.”  Tennis great Novak Djokovic further explains: “Among the top 100 players, physically there is not much difference … It’s  a mental ability to handle the pressure, to play well at the right moments.”

Distance runner Paavo Nurmi, dubbed the “Flying Finn” and the winner of nine Olympic gold medals (including five at the 1924 Paris Olympics), declared, “Mind is everything.  Muscle – just pieces of rubber.  All that I am, I am because of my mind.”  The mental abilities of confidence, concentration, and composure are crucial for being a champion in everything you undertake, be it work or sports or both.

Understand that the difference between a pedestrian performance and a peak performance beings and ends with your state of mind.  Champions develop and maintain a complete body and mind approach to their performance – the perfect blend of mentality, athleticism and technique.

You CAN achieve your true potential.  Attitude is a decision, and it is also a learned behavior, requiring discipline and energy to sustain.  Olympic wrestling champion Jordan Burroughs says, “All I see is gold.”  It is his mantra.

Put on your own gold medal performance, whether you are going to the gym, running trails or stepping on the gridiron in a championship game.  Why settle for anything less?  Consider:

  • Don’t have the time?  You are worth the time!
  • Don’t have the energy?  You will gain energy!
  • Doubt yourself?  Start doubting your doubt!

Book – The Champion’s Mind: How Great Athletes Think, Train and Thrive by Jim Afremow