Monday, May 31, 2010

With the World Rushing Around Me...

I feel a great need to blog today. A few weeks ago, I had an epiphany. It seems that that epiphany opened a flood gate in my mind. I find myself thinking so much these days that I can't keep track of every thought I have. I suppose I should start from the beginning. I am going to be very honest in this post, so I apologize if I offend anyone for any reason. I know that I am different from other people my age. Most twenty year olds are out partying, getting drunk until two in the morning. At that time, I am either working or asleep. Sometimes I go out, I'm not saying that I don't have a social life. But I have been wondering why at such a young age, do I already know that those pleasures (alcohol, sex, etc.) don't give the long-term happiness that everyone is looking for? I am searching for this through meditation, and I am trying to keep myself healthy with the foods I eat and my Yoga practice. But I do have to wonder, why is it that I never did drugs, smoked, or drank and I already know that these things won't do well by me? Most people learn from their mistakes. A lot of the time I already know before the mistake happens. Is it because I am afraid of getting hurt, or that my parents told me it was bad? Or was I born with a predisposed notion of how life really is. In the long run, those "simple" pleasures don't bring happiness.
Everyday I am learning more and more about myself and the world around me. It's as if having that one epiphany is causing more and more thoughts to come to me one after another. Never stopping. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed by these thoughts that I feel like crying. I know this kinda sounds lame, but its true. What do I do with this knowledge I am recieving? I have realized so many things, and only in the past few weeks. I realized that I am only a small part of this world. The world doesn't revolve around me. It never did, it never will. This thought has knocked me down a few pegs, but that is a good thing. I can't be unhappy with people for no reason. Meaning, I can't get randomly annoyed with people just because they are being themselves. They will always be that, I just have to accept that. Sometimes I wonder if these thoughts are newfound wisdom and other times I wonder if its a load of BS that I am just making up in my mind. But where do these thoughts come from? They come from inside of me. They have always been there, it's just that now they are finally rearing their heads. These thoughts are within every human being on this planet. People just have to try and find it for themselves. I can tell you all this knowledge that I am gathering, but it is you who has to gain this knowledge from yourself for yourself. I am going to be a nurse, but I honestly believe that there is something more for me to do. There is a different sort of work for me to do in the world. Don't ask me what it is, because I don't know. I hardly know anything these days. Sometimes I wonder if I'm going crazy... I must say that I am greatful for these things I am learning everyday. No matter how overwhelming it is, I will take it head on!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Be Still...

There is a certain kind of beauty and peace only found in stillness and silence. We have all experienced it, but have we all contemplated it? Yes, we all understand the joys and magic in art forms such as dance and music, those simplicties that tickle our senses. But what if we take a moment to sit down and look into the stillness all around us. It is there, you just may not have noticed it. We know its there in the deepest hours of the night, when the world is quiet. If we can look into the sky, at the bright moon, what can we see? There is beauty in everything, even in the smallest grain of sand. All things, creatures, people are part of a much bigger picture. In life there is so much to take in. But we get so caught up in the rush of life that we forget to stop and just enjoy the world. We think "do, do, do." Why not just stop and breathe? Absorb what we see, hear and feel? We can become the background. What do we see? We can find all aspects of life within ourselves. That silence, that stillness. We can cultivate that, bring it from the inside, out. We have so much potential and don't even know it.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

In the Zone

I am writing a blog today because I really need to start writing every day. I just don't want to write boring posts. I went to Yoga yesterday and it was great! For some reason it felt different from the previous classes. I think a lot of it had to do with the weather change. The air was more humid and the lights were off because we were able to get enough light from the windows. A lot of the practice consisted of downward facing dog and standing forward bend but it was good! I felt energized the whole way through, and the heat didn't bother me one bit (Well, it wasn't that hot...) It was quiet, everyone was in their zone. It was really cool. That's one thing I love about yoga. There is really different mood in the room when we are practicing. When I pushed my body into plow pose (and if you don't know what these poses look like I recommend you look them up) my neck didn't hurt at all. I was actually very comfortable. I have had a cold for over a week now, but when I was in yoga yesterday, the stuffed feeling in my nose actually went away. It was amazing. I thought to myself that maybe I should just do yoga all day so that my nasal passage can be clear! Then one of my classmates asked me if I was a yoga intructor. I had to laugh and say no. This isn't the first or second time that someone has asked me that question. So maybe I should go and get the certificate soon. Probably in two years. That may seem like a long time, but I have a feeling these two years will fly by.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Ode to Frugality

I really shouldn't be spending money right now. I need to be saving up for school because I have to pay for it myself next semester. On top of that I have to buy books. So let the money saving begin! From now on I am going to be more frugal. I usually splurge when I go out. I end up spending too much money on myself. Now, that is probably the most unyogic thing I could do... So I am going to try this for the summer. I am going to work more and spend less. That means not going to starbucks and spending four bucks on a drink that is practically all ICE and not buying things for myself every time I go to the mall. For some reason, every time I go to the mall and see something I like, I buy it. This means that by not buying these things I can practice what is called non-attachment. These days most people are attached to the items that they own (ahem iPhone users...) Because I don't really need these things, I won't buy them. Although there is this really nice thow blanket at World Market that I saw a while ago, I wonder if its on sale... NO!!! I can't!!! I need to stop thinking about shopping!!! So please, wish me luck! Because I am going to need a lot of self control on the challenge.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

My First Buddhist Celebration

I drove with two friends for an hour to get to a small unitarian church where a Buddhist celebration was being held. When we finally got to our destination I saw two Buddhist Monks standing outside of the church. I began to feel very nervous. I had no idea what they would think, was I underdressed? Was I too white? But when the three of us got to the stairs, the monks gave us nothing but welcoming smiles. I smiled back at them, and said "hello," cheerfully. I could tell that within these walls there was no judgment. We walked in and found a seat in the back of the small church. It fit the three of us in comfortably. There was a long alter where many monks sat. I couldn't believe such a scene. I had never before seen so many monks. It was absolutely beautiful! the first thing that we saw was a beautiful dance. It was almost like Yoga in the way the dancer's body was alligned and the poses that she danced. It really was a spectacle. After the dance an older monk gave a Dharma Talk which is a teaching. He talked about how we are all ignorant beings. I didn't understand very much of what he was talking about, but I do understand that we are ignorant. Then he started talking about other things which don't really remember... oh well. After the dharma talk there were two more dances and then we listened to a chant. The chant was called the Maha Prajna Paramita in english it is known as the English Heart Sutra. We listened to it in Sanskrit and then recited it in English. A friend of my sister's joined us in the middle of the program. When we were reciting the Sutra , I swear, our little group was the most into the whole thing out of the audience. We chanted loudly, without care. And why would we care? We were in a place where this kind of stuff is the norm. So why not sing it loud? Be proud of who you are! I loved every moment of it. After the chanting we did a loving kindness meditation. It was truely wonderful. The monk who was leading the meditation told us to tell ourselves that we are happy, well and peaceful. We silently repeated this to ourselves. After a few moments of silence, the group of monk began chanting in Sanskrit. It was one of the most rivoting things I have ever experienced. The monks chanted for the rest of the meditation. When we were finished, I felt so elated, so calm. It is something that is too difficult for me to put into words. After the meditation we walked around the town and chanted carrying lanterns and flags. The whole thing was a wonderful experience. I look forward to going next year. I wish I could describe it all in detail but it would take me forever to write and be too long.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Joys of Cooking

A passion that I have just recently discovered within myself is cooking. I love it because I love the process of cooking, and I love the outcome of cooking. When I cook it is as if time doesn't matter anymore. Like Yoga, it teaches me patience. In cooking, there is also Yoga. When we cook, we shouldn't rush, just like in Hatha Yoga. If we rush, we make mistakes in cooking. The same applies to Hatha Yoga, if we rush in or out of a pose, we can hurt ourselves. Cooking is like another form of Yoga, it is calming and warming to the heart. If we think of cooking in a Yogic way, we can all learn from our actions. As a friend of mine said when she was teaching me how to make indian curry, if we add too much water to the curry it will alter the taste. We should add our ingrediants one bit at a time. Just like in Yoga. When we are practicing difficult Asanas, we should not just jump into the pose. We need to practice the starters one bit at a time until we are fully prepared for the final step. If we are not careful, we can cause ourselves injury (Not the Yoga instructer who told us to slowly come in and out of a pose carefully). When I cook it gives me time to be in the moment. I am fully in the present moment, enjoying the smells and sounds of my creations. Food always tastes better when we make it ourselves, we know what we put in it, we love the outcome because it was our effort. A few days ago my younger sister and I made two delicious peach pies. It took us about three and a half hours to finish making them, but the effort was worth it because afterwards we were able to eat it and everyone who ate it loved it. it always makes me happy to see people eating and enjoying my food. One day I made a sweet corn and onion soup. It was absolutely delicious. Everyone loved it, and seeing everyone enjoying my food brought me so much joy. Cooking is a wonderful process from the beggining of the prearation to when the bowls and plates are empty. If I can see Yoga in cooking, I think it is a sign that Yoga is in everything we do in life. I just have to search for it.

On My Way

This summer I have a lot of plans for myself. It includes working a lot, because I need to make a lot of money, studying nursing stuff to prepare myself for next semester, and practicing Yoga and meditation. I will be carrying myself along the path towards enlightenment. This is a journey that doesn't really have much of a time table. I don't know when I will become enlightened, but I know it will not be for a while. The epiphany that I had a couple weeks ago was just the beginning. I know that I must keep reading Yogic texts and meditating daily and practicing Yoga. Right now I am reading The Bhagavad Gita. It is a famous Hindu poem about a conversation between Lord Krishna and the warrior Prince Arjuna. So far I am on chapter 2 of this text and it is very hard to wrap my head around. I understand that Arjuna does not want to fight in a battle that is that morning, Lord Krishna tells him that he must not be afraid, that it is his dharma (purpose in life). Krishna says that there is no reason to fear death, that it will happen to all of us eventually. That makes sense doesn't it? And I have been thinking about that lately. When death does eventually come knocking at my door I will not be afraid. There is no point in the fear of it. It happens to everyone. I am sorry if this is too morbid for you to read. In a quote from the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says to Arjuna, "Death is inevitable for the living; birth is inevitable for the dead. Since these are unavoidable, you should not sorrow."
Okay, so maybe I should have named this post "death" or something. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bad Day

Yesterday I had so many plans for my day. I was going to go to the mall with a group of friends, talk to my sister, and go to my Yoga class with my dad (he has never been to a Yoga class). But the night before I woke up around three in the morning, I could hardly breath and my throat was hurting terribly! I spent most of the day trying to get better, then I went to bed early only to sleep terribly. I was upset because I did get to go to my Yoga class. Another week that I have skipped, those people probably think that there is something wrong with me. I seem to not go every other week. I hope to get better soon. Because being sick is never fun.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Harder than I thought

Yesterday, my family, best friend and I all went to the airport with Olga to see her off. As I saw watched her walk through the gates I started bawling my eyes out. I couldn't help it. It was really hard to say goodbye to her. When she went to Poland for five months it felt like forever, and not even a year later she is going back to stay for FOUR YEARS. Maybe even possibly for good? Those four years could either pass by in a flash or they could take an eternity. I know that Olga will be safe and happy in Poland, so I feel nothing but happiness for her. But I also feel that if she isn't under my watch she is in danger. I have felt this way since we were very small, like I am here to protect her from bad things. I know this isn't true, because Olga is a very independent young woman. But that doesn't stop me from constantly worrying about her. I miss you Olga!!! Okay, I promise that this blog won't be all about how much I miss my sister. It is just a very big change for me and everyone else. :)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Difficult Farewells

Tomorrow my beloved twin sister, Olga, is leaving the United States to begin her new life in Poland. I have know this day was coming for a long time, but now that it is just around the corner I feel like there wasn't enough time spent together enjoying the small things in life. She will be going to school there which means that she will be gone for at least four years. Four years... after for years she could decide that she wants to live there for the rest of her life! A lot can happen in four years.
I also wonder what it will be like between the two of us after such a long time. I am sure we will still be very close, but things will have changed, and we will both be living totally different lives. I understand that it will never be the same.
I know that I am feeling sorry for myself, but I am very happy for her, because she will soon be accomplishing her dreams. I love my sister to the bottom of my heart and I only wish her the best. I will try to visit her whenever I can, but I know that isn't probably isn't going to be for at least a year. We will be skyping each other and writing on facebook and sending personal letters. It won't be the same as seeing her everyday, but it will have to do. :) I know that she is nervous about starting this new life, but it is such an exciting thing! A blank page, a new chapter in her wonderful life.
I pray that her she has a safe trip there and that she is always watched over when she is in her new home. I love you Olga. <3

Thursday, May 13, 2010

An Epiphany

I have been practicing meditation for about six months now. The main reason was because it helps me feel less stressed and more in tune with myself.

A few days ago, I was just sitting on my bed thinking about nothing in particular, when a thought just came to me.

That thought told me that I can never hate again, I can never use the word hate, and I cannot harbor that feeling towards anyone. I do not hate anybody, I cannot hate anybody. No matter how mean they are to me, no matter if they are jerks, no matter how jealous I am of them. Hate is no longer part of my dictionary, I am now mentally throwing the word out the window.

I can never say that I hate myself because it shouldn't be news that I am going to have to live with myself forever. I must love myself unconditionally, I must love my body the way it is, I must love my mind for the way it thinks, I must love my personality, no matter how many glitches it has.

I will not hate others no matter how mean they are, because whatever faults others have stem from a root. I must love the people I care about and I must not judge the people I do not know. For people who are mean to me, I must understand. I must understand that they are the way they are, if they are making me unhappy, then I must change my view on the situation. I can let their nasty words and unkind looks pass through me with no affect. Because if I let something get to me, then it is me who is making myself unhappy.

I could hate the pain that I am in, or I could understand that it is my teacher, it is there to teach me to be careful with my body. I could hate the way that I am, but I have to live with myself for the entirety of my life, why would I want to live so long with someone that I hated? I could be angry and resentful towards those who make me unhappy, or I could understand them and love them to the best of my ability.

So, the lesson of the day, is not to harbor hate, because really, the only person we are hurting is ourselves. Whenever we find ourselves feeling anger, jealousy, hatred, etc. we should not be angry with ourselves. We should understand that this is a part of us, and forgive ourselves for having those feelings. We are only human. When we are harboring any of those feelings we must remember love, patience and kindness. Hatred isn't healthy and it doesn't do anyone any good. As the Buddha says, "Hatred does not cease by hatred at any time; hatred ceases by love-this is an old rule."

The Beginning of a Journey...

Okay, this is my first blog, and I have been worrying about what to write. I think I'm just going to wing it and just write whatever comes to mind. The purpose of this blog is to sort of document my journey with Yoga, and of course, life. This is kind of a place for me to write whatever thoughts I have and share them with you.
I started my Yoga practice in August of 2009. Before then, I was a total blob. I would only excercise (100 or so crunches every few weeks) if I felt like I was becoming too much of a blob. I was extremely irritable and angry, all the time. I don't think it's too far fetched a phrase to say that YOGA CHANGED MY LIFE.
When I stepped into my first Yoga class at the junior college I attend, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. To me, it was a door to hope that my back pain would end, and I would be excercising twice a week. My yoga instructor informed the class of mostly college-aged students that Yoga means union. Union of the body, mind and spirit. I sat on my first Yoga mat and wondered what the heck I was getting myself into. Union? Of the Body, Mind, and Spirit? What? Maybe this is too weird for me. My instructor informed the class, that not only would we be working on excercise, but we would learn to watch what we eat, and learn meditation.
During the first practice, the instructor took us through basic asanas (poses), I LOVED it.
I ended up not just practicing during class, but at home as well.
Yoga has helped me become a healthier and happier person. I don't get upset as easily as I used to, which, if you were my twin sister, you would understand that it is a relief.
I am currently taking a class, which I have been taking since December, about fifteen minutes walk from my house. I love the class because it is small (usually consisting of about 5 to 6 students) so there is more of a personal touch to it. I make a point of walking to the class, whether it rain, sleet or shine out. I don't see the point of driving to a class that is such a short walk away. I have walked to and from that class when it was raining, and through snow storms. You might call me crazy for doing so, but walking through a snow storm is a beautiful and refreshing experience. Besides, its only fifteen minutes, who cares if my boots are soaked and my hair is completely white for fifteen minutes. Walking those fifteen minutes, enjoying whatever mother nature throws at me is all a part of my Yoga. :)
Last night I went to my Yoga class, it was a great practice. I was able to, for the first time, do Shirsasana (headstand) with my feet away from the wall. It was only about three seconds, but I felt triumphant. After the class, it was raining a little bit, but I just tucked my ear buds into my ears, turned on Sting's (who, btw, practices Yoga too ^^) song Send Your Love.
I always tell people about how much I love Yoga, and if they do not practice Yoga themselves, they usually say, "That's nice," and smile. But I want to shake them and yell, "You should do it too!!! It's an essential part of LIFE!!! And you don't even know it!" But that wouldn't be very "Yogic," would it?
I think that's all I will write for today. Thank you so much for reading this!