Some Kind of Creed

I’ve learned some things over the last year or two. I want to share them.

  • There is good and bad in the world. Paying heed to the bad is a waste of time.
  • There is good in the worst of us but even in the best of us something terribly ugly can be found.
  • The world is shaped by thoughts. Really. It is. Choose them wisely.
  • Worrying accomplishes nothing. It’s best to be honest and do what you want to do. Emphasis on the “do”.
  • To understand yourself spend alone time with yourself, preferably outdoors.
  • Time goes slower when spending the day in nature. To prolong life, go outside.
  • Pay attention to what you see with your eyes closed. It is real.
  • Don’t turn away from perceived ugly – all things are filled with beauty and purpose. Even scary ocean things and dirty homeless people.
  • When you think of absolutely nothing, or attempt to, nice things spring to mind later on — helpful things.
  • If you travel far, you may miss your cat, but you won’t miss your possessions. They are not important.
  • To stop the negativity of others from affecting your own state of mind, put an end to it quickly – just switch the channel. It really is that simple if you notice it happening right away.
  • Nice friends can be found anywhere. Good friends are found by serendipity only. And a willingness to love.
  • Your mind does what your body does. This is subtle but potent knowledge.
  • Attachments (to ideas, things, people) ultimately lead to delusional thought. Hold on loosely. (Thank you, 38 Special and Bhagavad Gita.)
  • Breathe deep and even. If breaths are short, so is your temper. If breaths are deep, so is your patience level.
  • Smiling leads to laughter, laughter to fun and good memories. Seek out people and things to smile at.
  • Conquering small challenges, like Utthita Hasta Padangustasana, makes it possible to conquer anything.
  • Cloud watching is most effective when lying flat on your back.

cloud watching

Posted in Personal Revelations, Self-motivation | 2 Comments

Struggles and Sobs

I’ve been having difficulty with a couple of things lately. Firstly, the work that I do to earn a living requires a high level of concentration and attention to detail. If I get distracted or am easily irritated, I can not concentrate. I become frustrated and I can’t getmisophonia my work finished. Being a person that is easily distracted and easily irritated by noises (dogs barking, rattling fans or air conditioners, among many, many other noises) this means that I get frustrated a lot. I begin to take it out on myself and make myself feel guilty for not being able to “cope” and, for crying out loud, to just be normal. Meanwhile, I don’t think most people have the attention span to sit still for five minutes and could never work from home, but that’s besides the point: I need to be able to concentrate to do my job.

Recently I’ve been having trouble sitting down and working at all. Goals that I set for myself months ago have been sitting on a shelf. Every once in a while I stare at the yellow Steps - El Yunque Rainforest Puerto Ricopaper pad they’ve been scribbled upon and rewrite and revise on more yellow paper. This is not helping them to be achieved in the least, writing and rewriting these goals. It’s a lot easier for me to climb up real mountains and tons of steps than it is for me to reach mountains of business goals lately.

The second trouble I’m having has to do with my yoga practice. After leaving Mysore, India last year I remember thinking to myself “Gee, I can’t imagine not wanting to do this yoga practice every day”. All I can say now is HA! to that sentiment. While I still enjoy doing the practice, I find it nearly impossible to get up every morning and do it on my own. Which, you might ask – why does anyone need to get up and do yoga every morning?And the answer is this: Because I feel so much better when I do than when I don’t. So why wouldn’t I?

Well, I have excuses. I was going twice a week to Mysore style classes at It’s Yoga Puerto Rico, which was GREAT, but those have been put on hold for now as the instructor is on holiday (which lasts for about three months here in Puerto Rico) and he and his wife just had a baby. So it’s up to me to self-motivate! And it’s just not happening.

I am beginning to believe that part of the reason I’ve fallen out of a daily routine is that I am a little bored with the practice. Let me explain something to you about the type of yoga that I do: It changes you; it doesn’t change. It’s the same exact routine over and over and over and over again. A few weeks ago I was beginning to learn the second series of Ashtanga and that was exciting and something different, but then, as I said, the instructor got busy with life. But what’s stopping me from doing it on my own?

pattabhi jois quoteI can come up with a thousand excuses as to why I haven’t gotten my work done or why my yoga practice happens only once a week (if I’m lucky). The interesting thing is that these two things in my life are related. If I was able to do my yoga practice every day, I’d be less distracted and irritable in my mind. So I’d be able to get my goals accomplished. And I know this. It’s undeniable.

So why don’t I just buckle down and do it? What the hell is stopping me from doing something that I know is good for me? Sometimes I think maybe I’m just lazy. But I’ve never been very lazy. And yet, I face obstacles that I don’t even fully understand.

Last night something happened that made me think that what may be stopping me is an association I have with guilt and pain. Last night I went to a “Rocket” class, a type of “hardcore yoga”, if you will, largely based off of Ashtanga yoga. I don’t normally go to these classes but since I haven’t been keeping up with my own practice and these are fun and help me build arm strength, I go every now and again. Anyway, in the class there is a pose in the Rocket series that we Ashtangis normally skip for some reason. pigeon poseIt’s called Pigeon Pose and it looks like this (picture to the right) if done correctly. But my pose never looks like that because my thighs insist on staying a good six inches off the ground instead of hitting the floor.

But last night my instructor, David Kyle, thought I might be able to go a little further than six inches off the floor. David’s a fabulous yoga teacher and I trust him completely, so I happily allowed him to adjust me into the pose, pushing my thighs down another two inches, and completely forgetting why I don’t normally push myself into the pose: Because it makes me cry. Yes, with real tears and sometimes sobbing. I know that sounds crazy, but there are all sorts of different yoga postures that can make people cry or become emotional and this is the one that does it to me. It’s like it touches this nerve deep down inside. I don’t understand much about why we cry or prolactin or the physical chemistry that occurs when we shed tears. I was not even sad or thinking about any particular thing when the tears started pouring.  I just started to cry for no apparent reason. It’s not like I was sobbing or anything last night, but big tears started to flow. Luckily my head was down so I don’t think anyone noticed! (Also, I definitely am not the only one who cries during pigeon pose.)

If you’re still confused as to how a yoga posture can make someone cry, (I mean it sounds kind of ridiculous!) it’s sort of like that nerve that gets hit for women when they have sex that sometimes causes them to cry for no reason (and for men to become very confused).

Anyway, I’m not real sure I have a conclusion other than this: I don’t want to do yoga every day because sometimes it brings up emotional things that I don’t want to deal with and don’t even fully understand. And I don’t want to do my work sometimes because I’m scared that I will get frustrated and angry with myself for getting irritated while I’m trying to concentrate and I don’t want to feel that way.

And that’s all I know for now. And it’s all OK, because this is my path and I’m just figuring it out as I go along.

sunset smile

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Our Naturally Perfect World — Trying to Make Sense of Tragedy.

I wrote these words earlier today while I was sitting alone on top of rock in the middle of a stream listening to crystal clean water flow down the mountain in a rainforest, El Yunque.

I wanted to go for a hike today, but detours kept rerouting me (like Outlet malls). And then, finally, I get to the rainforest and decided to take a different trail than I normally do. It turns out this new trail only goes a few yards until it hits a stream. So much for my hike. But just as well, because it’s so peaceful here with no other people, no tourists but me. So here I sit.

I just took off my tennis shoes and dipped my feet in the cool water. Felt so good! This is my home now. I no longer have access to the home I grew up in and I guess it makes me feel a little lost now and then. But nowhere else in the world feels more like home to me than sitting by a creek in the forest.

My mom consoles me with “your home is where your people are”. But, for me, that’s not all of it. Home for me is that creek in the shadows of the trees where the sunlight streams, the earth beneath, rocks under bare feet, filling me with peace and good energy. This is how I grew up: alone, in the woods by the creek.

Today is a somber day. Not just for me, but for Americans, the world. Yesterday a madman went to an elementary school in Connecticut and murdered 20 little kids, 6 adults, his mother, and himself. What is wrong with people? I burst into tears late last night and couldn’t stop crying. What is wrong with this world?

I saw the most beautiful rainbow yesterday floating above the ocean. And when I see a rainbow I think of what, when I was a little girl, I was told was God’s promise – that everything is going to be OK. It may rain and things may seem hopeless, but never forget that there is beauty in this world. That there is something greater than ourselves, though it may be nothing more than pure natural beauty. I know that’s no condolence to the families affected right now, and I hope they can find solace somehow, someday, if that’s at all possible.

I don’t know what good to make of this horrific disaster, except to hope that it instills a fear in us all that motivates us into action, some positive movement, whatever that may be for each of us.  And by “us” I mean everyone not directly affected, those of us who are watching our tv sets in horror and reading the details in the news, and talking to our family and friends about it, trying to make sense of why something like this would ever happen to begin with.  I can’t imagine how the families affected will ever be able to make good of any of this.

When horrible things like this happen, and they have too often recently, we tend to ask ourselves, What is wrong with this world? Isn’t there something more to life than working our whole lives to buy shit we don’t need — toys, cars, clothes, jewelry? How much is enough?? Let’s turn our attention to EACH OTHER and the natural beauty of this planet. There’s so much we could do and we could be appreciated in so many ways if we just let go of our fears and our ego and reached out to people more often. Just once a day. If we just took a moment to be GRATEFUL, to appreciate the air we breath and the water we drink and the people that matter to us.

But there isn’t anything wrong with the world. The world is in a perfect condition in its current state. I know what you’re thinking, that I must be crazy. A perfect world is extremely hard for me to believe that at times like these. But I have to believe that. The world is a work in progress; it is not complete. But it is perfect right now because it’s moving toward that perfect state. I have to believe that because when I look around in nature, it’s so evident. Nature makes sense and it’s always evolving. We are always moving forward. We are always progressing, even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes. And I don’t believe the world is going to end in 5 days or whatever the Mayan calendar says. And I’m not so arrogant to believe our days are nearing the end and Jesus is going to come and we’ll all fly off to heaven. The world will be here for a long time to come and by not believing that we are making excuses to not do our duties here on earth as we were meant to. To not take care of the planet. To not pay more attention to our friends and our neighbors. To not spend more time with our children. To not think of something outside of ourselves. I believe this world will reach a perfect state someday. I don’t believe we are destroying it. Rather, we have the power to SAVE it, to keep it moving toward that perfect state.

A friend of mine posted these words on Facebook and they make so much practical sense:

Lots of love and compassion sent to the victims, staff, families of staff and students, to the community of of Sandy Hook, and to everyone in the world as we are all deeply effected. A seed (thoughts, words, actions) of love grows love, a seed (thoughts, words, actions) of hate grows hate. Now is the time to do something, let’s all plant seeds of love. Let’s think, say and do loving kind things to ourselves and to others. One thought, one word, one action of love goes a long way and deeply effects us, others and the world. Let’s take this moment and every moment of our lives to plant seeds of love.

This tragedy, for me, put some things into perspective — like what’s really important. And what’s really important is that I can feel peace enough to be able to offer it’s positive energy to others. For me, I find peace in nature, at that creek in the woods, hiking up mountains, swimming with the fish in the sea. I find peace when I am doing something helpful for someone else. I find peace while I’m writing down words and sorting out my thoughts. Where do you find peace?

A creek in El Yunque, Puerto Rico


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Speaking a Foreign Language: Chaos & Control

Tonight I found myself at yet another event, full of people, but completely isolated and alone. I went to what I thought was a photography exhibit in a bookstore, which a new acquaintance had told me about. Instead, the event was more of a “talk” than an exhibit — the photographer was speaking about his new book of photos. The photographer was speaking in Spanish about his new book of photos. Fortunately for me, since I don’t speak Spanish well enough to understand a lick, there was at least a five minute video that displayed some of the photographer’s beautiful photos of this mystical island.

I was happy that I recognized many of the places and icons in his photographs — Culebra, the Flamboyan tree,  the Indian caves, the window caves, El Yunque (the rainforest). I have been so lucky to experience the natural beauty of Puerto Rico up close. Last week I went to the forest reserves — it was a place like no other. I was in the forest with winding and twisting trees wrapping around a still stream of water, covered in layers of green, yet I could still hear the waves of the ocean crashing to the shore. Magical.

forest reserves puerto rico

Sometimes I wonder what it is exactly that I’m doing here. I have difficulty explaining to people why I moved to San Juan. There was a plethora of reasons I suppose. And I still don’t think of this move as permanent, even though my cat reluctantly agreed to make the move and is here keeping me company. Even though I am probably going to buy some sort of vehicle to get from point A to point B pretty soon. Even though I miss my belongings, still in storage after a year and a half, and wonder how and when I should bring them here. Even though I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather live right now.

But here I am. Slowly making new friends. New business connections. Very slowly learning Spanish. Getting settled in.

black sands puerto rico“Chaos is what we’ve lost touch with. This is why it is given a bad name. It is feared by the dominant archetype of our world, which is Ego, which clenches because its existence is defined in terms of control.” ~Terence McKenna

Last night I met a woman from Russia. She is maybe in her 20’s. Her English was very good, but I felt a tinge of jealousy go through my spine when she was able to order water with lemon in perfect Spanish at the restaurant we were dining at. Three languages!! I have problems with my native tongue. How will I ever learn Spanish? Especially in a country where everyone CAN speak English and I am able to fall back on my English so easily?

“Our real discoveries come from chaos, from going to the place that looks wrong and stupid and foolish.” ~Chuck Palahniuk


My problem with learning the language really isn’t that I am incapable. And most likely, if I tried, I would probably find that I *can* speak it a little bit.  The problem is that I’m shy and I feel embarrassed and that speaking in Spanish may cause me to be a little out of control, because I may not know exactly what I’m saying — I may say something the wrong way, I may cause more confusion than is necessary or I may waste someone’s time. Being the introvert that I am, all of these things inhibit me from just cutting loose and giving it a go.

I used to be very shy at small talk. I was afraid that I might say something clumsy or bore people with common pleasantries. I’m not so bad at it anymore and I can usually think of something to say to a stranger in an elevator or to someone while waiting in line. Maybe my hesitations with Spanish stem from a similar root problem — that unless I know exactly what I’m going to say and how to control the conversation, I don’t want to say anything at all. A-ha! THAT must be why I like writing so much — I can control the conversation!

But why do I always need to have control? There is nothing wrong with embracing chaos and, from my experience, chaos can bring many wonderful gifts and insights and beauty. I am convinced of this truth; still I have trouble forcing it on myself and living by that philosophy.

Have any of you other introverts had a similar problem of feeling isolated in a foreign country? Any tips you can share on learning a language? Are my more extroverted friends able to offer advice or motivation on embracing chaos and/or living freely?

leaves on still water forest reserves puerto rico

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ice cream nachos

Don’t these look awesome?


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Bee in the Sand

I was sitting on the beach when I noticed this bee, a little hornet, innocently hobbling through the sand. I’m not sure what he was doing there, with no nectar to suck on, no other bees to nest with. He seemed confused, crossing down the sand towards the waves. He wasn’t flying, only stumbling over the grains of sand with his stringy legs. He looked so all alone. And then he began to go in circles, like he had no idea where he was going, where he should be going, and a little frantic to get anywhere. He went in circles one way and then reversed course and circled in a different direction. Maybe he was suffering from heat exhaustion. Or looking for a good place to die, hoping his small bee body would be safely buried and whisked off the shore by the nearby ocean waves.

Puerto Rico, Ocean Park

Ocean Park, San Juan Puerto Rico

I couldn’t help but to feel like that bee, confused and worried and wondering where I should go, where I should land.   I started on this journey nearly a year ago and I fear I’ve gotten nowhere. No major changes have occurred that I can sense. No big shifts in my personality or character that I can tell. I feel different, indeed I probably am different, but my the things I wish I could change about myself still plague me. I wonder who I am. I wonder what would make me happy. I wonder why I can’t just live a simple life like everyone else, why I don’t fit in anywhere. Every place I go I love – Asheville, India, Puerto Rico. But I can’t see myself living in any of these places. I don’t know where I’m supposed to be. And maybe I’m supposed to be traveling in circles until I figure it out. Or maybe I’m supposed to just keep going.

Loquillo, Puerto Rico

Loquillo, Puerto Rico

I came to Puerto Rico with one goal in mind: to open up. I didn’t realize until recently what a closed off person I am. This fear, this constant worry of what others think of me, and taking things way too seriously all the time has caused me to shut down, shut off my personality and live within myself, where it’s safe. But I need to learn that it’s safe outside of myself. And that every little detail isn’t so pertinent and important and I don’t have to drive myself crazy with the thoughts spinning around in my head. I need to learn that it’s OK to fail and fail again. That’s what life is. Failing and picking yourself up again. I think I’ve been too scared to let myself go, to open up, because I knew deep down I felt it wasn’t going to work anyway. But that’s no way to live life. And how often have I been wrong about this or that? I have no authority to say what will or what won’t work. And I don’t need to take every word everyone says as the gospel. Nor do I need to think that every word *I* say has to be never changing. Everything can’t be perfect. It never will be. Sure it’s nice to strive for it, but not when it hinders your ability to explore, to live, to sink in deep to the sea of life.

I wrote the above words a few months ago while I was living in Puerto Rico, sprawled upon the bed in the furnished apartment I was renting. And now that a few months have passed and I’ve turned full circle and came back to the place I started from, I can tell you that I do actually have an inclination of where I’m headed next. A cloud has lifted slightly over the landscape of my future. And I did end up breaking free and finally opened myself up more. As for where I’m headed? A picture is worth a thousand words. Ah, but to be in the sand again!

San Juan, Puerto Rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico

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The Illusion of Ownership

It’s difficult to let go. Of our possessions, of people, of the past. We can even become attached to our expectations of the future and what we hope to have happen. What is worse – letting go of something we are attached to or letting that attachment chain us to the wall?

Today I find myself looking at pictures of my house. When I bought my house, it was a foreclosure, it wasn’t very pretty. I think most people would’ve thought I was absolutely nuts to buy a house (on my own) in that condition. But it was cheap. And I saw potential. And my parents saw potential and gave me their support. Before I went to my closing (to sign the final papers with the real estate company) I remember calling my Dad, in tears, and saying “please, you have to promise me you’ll help me”. He assured me he would.

And he kept his promise, and my mother, too. They helped me fix up my little two-story brick and cedar house in a “transitional” neighborhood of Pittsburgh. They sanded the dirty hard wood floors, installed new plumbing so I would have water and a working toilet. My Dad installed ceiling fans and light fixtures and door locks. He carried my washing machine and dryer down the basement stairs (with my help, which is almost like saying “all by himself”).  My mother worked for hours cleaning closets and painting walls. She scrubbed the used stove that I purchased for hours, making it shiny and new. All this while enduring my bossiness and demands for perfection! They really are troopers. And I spent weeks staining my hard wood floors, scraping gunk off of the kitchen cupboards, bleaching the bathtub so it was no longer black. It was a lot of work.

But when my house was fixed up well enough for me to live in and be comfortable, I wanted to make even more improvements, like remodeling the kitchen and bathroom. I wanted to do all of this so that a) I could sell the house someday and b) to have a nice home. That’s when my then 21 year old nephew, Matthew, stepped in. He was going to school nearby and could work on my house in the evenings. He needed a job and I needed a cheap laborer I could trust. It worked out great.

Matthew and I worked on my house every evening, Mon – Thurs for about three months straight. It was hell. It was blood. It was sweat. It was tears. (Mostly my tears.) But we bonded and we had fun, too. He installed new plumbing, knocked out a wall, moved a gas line, installed new electrical outlets, moved the duct work, installed a new hardwood floor, and tiled my granite countertops. I sanded, stained, scraped, cleaned, and painted until I had blisters and bruises. With the help of my Dad,  a new ceiling, a new door, and a new window were installed. In the end, I had a beautiful kitchen that I was so very proud of, and of course, I was proud of my nephew, too. He was ever so resourceful, learning how to do things he had never done before. I was very lucky of because of these factors: 1) My nephew is smart as hell 2) My brother-in-law (Matthew’s dad) is a carpenter 3) My sister (Matthew’s mom), remodeling her kitchen about the same time I remodeled mine, allowing Matthew to see first hand how it was done.

It seems that when something is meant to be and you’re following your heart, things fall into place. Everything works out. People will help you, people will come in out of the blue (like my neighbor, Celeste, who taught me how to garden and prune my rose bush). The universe will come together to make it happen.

I loved my house and I lived there for a little over five years. But things were no longer working for me, at least on a personal level. The world was no longer falling into place for me. And I wanted other things, like to travel and expand. So I rented my house and hit the road.

Almost a year later, without even putting my house up for sale, someone has offered me a decent price on it with a rent-to-buy option. This works perfect for me. I want to leave, I will have to sell that house to buy another house, and I don’t want to sell it quite yet, as I’m not sure where I want to live.

The world is working for me in every way because this is what is meant to be, this is how I wanted it to be. But I find myself having a really difficult time letting go.  It’s been weeks and I can’t seem to make a decision about my house. Why am I sitting here looking at pictures of my house and reminiscing? Why can’t I just pull the trigger and take the guy’s offer?

Because I’m emotionally attached to that house, that’s why. And it breaks my heart to let it go. But by clinging to it, I’m only limiting myself. I’m not expanding, I won’t be able to forge ahead. And that’s why this world works for you when you make positive changes in your life – when you try to expand, when you try to grow and be bigger.

Did you know that the universe is ALWAYS EXPANDING? How incredible is that? I just started thinking about this recently. The universe gets BIGGER all the time. It’s always changing; it always wants more. We’re supposed to want more as human beings. We’re supposed to go out and get whatever our hearts desire. But we can’t get anywhere if we cling to what we already think we have, even though we don’t actually “own” anything – the universe owns our possessions (and us), ultimately.  We can’t move ahead if we seriously think we possess anything and can’t let go of what we don’t really own. Afterall, I still have a mortgage, which means the bank actually owns my house, not me 🙂

My kitchen when I first bought my house.

My kitchen after the remodel.



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The Head and the Heart

Who knows why we do the things we do or what makes us tick. Some people know what they want to be when they grow up from the age of five and they become obsessed with it and follow through. Most people change their minds five times before they figure it out and still some never make the connection and spend their life wandering and

I love this orchid, the goofy face inside.

wondering. Too many times we get detoured, distracted, dissuaded, and discouraged from doing the thing that the pit of our stomach tells us we should do. Or we get bored and lose interest quickly, and who knows why. Or our families soak up any energy we have and we end up living for our children, or worse, through our children. And some of us simply don’t care what we do – living day to day and putting family and friends above all else, only doing the 9 to 5 to cover those costs. There’s nothing wrong with any of those paths.

Except that I’ve always wished I could know what it is that I want to do and be really really good at that one thing. But I’m one of the people who are still wondering and wandering, losing interest and getting bored, getting distracted and discouraged too easily and probably trying to do too many different things without much focus. I like to try different things, what can I say?

I always hear people say these horrible vague cliches like “follow your heart” and “just be yourself”. But I often get my brain and my heart confused, not to mention my hormones give conflicting and impulsive advice. And “just being myself” isn’t really an option when I’m always changing and trying to not be the self that I don’t want to be. And sometimes our feet aren’t planted firmly on the ground, like mine so often aren’t, allowing my head to dip into the clouds, which is also not helpful. Daydreaming never got me anywhere besides a brutal awakening. So between the head, heart, hormones and hallucinations where does that leave me?

Am I the only one who can’t tell the difference between my heart and my mind talking? If you can tell the difference, which one usually wins out most of the time – the head or the heart? And does your heart always save you or does it cause you much anguish down the road? Won’t listening to your mind sometimes protect you? Why is it so bad to listen to our brains, too, or is it?

I’ve spent the last year trying to “listen to my heart”, but my heart stopped talking a few months ago or I’m trying to ignore whatever it is trying to tell me; I’m not sure which. The only thing I hear my heart saying is “go back to India”, but my brain is talking back, saying, “No, not yet. Hold your horses.” So that leaves me stuck in limbo. The only thing I know to do is the work that has been set before me. People do the things they know how to do. And that’s where I am. Like Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, I must do my dharma and do it well, even though I’m not all that into it. And it’s not about following my heart or my head — it’s about going with the flow of energy that is God, the force of nature. And that’s probably the same force that makes us listen to our head or our hearts anyway.

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A Breath of Fresh Knowledge

Waterfall - North CarolinaSome days I just can’t seem to get it right. I watch myself make the same mistakes over and over again, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. It seems endless, these habitual misdemeanors that end up creating a cycle of self-doubt, self-criticism, frustration, hopelessness, and inevitably, depression. And then I break free of it, remembering that I’m not really such a bad person after all, only to end up forgetting this lesson at some point and starting the cycle all over again.

How do I break free?

I attended a yoga workshop over the weekend, led by David Williams, a student of my guru’s grandfather and quite a guru himself. During the course of the four day workshop, we learned how to do pranayama, or breathing exercises that help put you in a meditative state. There’s no levitating in the workshop or any voo-doo doo-doo. Rather, pranayama is a methodical approach of getting more oxygen to your brain and training your brain, or your mind, to stop thinking. STOP THINKING, I SAID! It is so counterintuitive to what our brains are normally doing, which is constantly thinking about ten things at once, and then getting distracted, forgetting what we were thinking, and then forgetting that we forgot what we were thinking (getting confused and lost in the process). And being that it is counterintuitive to our very core to get our mind to stop thinking, it is a very difficult thing to do.

Why would anyone want to stop thinking, you might ask. Simple – to clear your head so that the thoughts that eventually do come into the brain are the thoughts that are “good” for us (and so these thoughts are also more focused and more closely reflect our “true beings”). If your brain is anything like mine, it’s constantly thinking, going round and round. And 85% of my thoughts are completely stupid, repetitive, pointless. Not to say I’m a complete numbskull or anything, but if we’re really really honest with ourselves and think about what we’re thinking about most of our days, I’m sure you’ll find that you do the same. Unless you’re some sort of super-human buddhist yogi avatar from Mars, you’re thinking about stupid shit most of the time. Thoughts that don’t REALLY MATTER. Thoughts that are hurtful, negative to yourself or others, thoughts that rehash the past, cause worry for the future, and, therefore, give way for you to start beating yourself up over it. And these stupid thoughts are such a WASTE OF ENERGY.

Most people, I’d guess, in order to stop this endless cycle of stupid thinking, DO things. Which is good. If you like what ever it is that you are doing. People do things to keep busy so they don’t have to think about what REALLY MATTERS. But other people do things that are not so good because they don’t know what else to do. They think they are “bored” or do what they think they are “supposed to do”, when actually it may not be what they were “supposed to do”, but what someone else thought they should do. The world is a wild, wondrous place – if someone is bored it’s because they are too scared to venture into the unknown. If someone is unhappy with what they are doing, it’s because they are doing what they are not supposed to be doing.

But getting back to what happens when you do stop thinking…you create space. Space allows us to step back, take a look around and examine our lives. And that’s what happened to me today – I was able to step back and watch my mistakes unfold, my guilt rush in, my energy dissipate, and finally, my own self give me an ass kicking that left me feeling sad and depressed. I saw this whole process happen from some corner in my brain that I don’t normally use, I guess, and as it all went down, I was thinking “OH! THIS IS WHY I CAN’T SEEM TO BREAK FREE AND CONTINUE TO BE SELF-TORTURED! NOW I GET IT!”

I don’t know if it had anything to do with the pranayama and finding this “space between the thoughts”, but probably it did. I have never before felt like I was in the audience watching myself do something instead of being in the thick of it, but today I felt like an observer of my own actions. And I’m not going to go into detail about what it was that happened because, frankly, it’s too trivial to write about and you’d just get bored with my story. What’s more important here is that, now that I know how this entire process works, I feel like I will be able to put an end to it before it begins, (at least more often than I had been able to).

And if you really want the gist of what happened today, I guess the lesson learned is that it’s pointless to get irritated with people, that some people don’t even deserve our irritation because it’s usually something else that’s irritating us, not them, and by letting them irritate us, we’re inevitably just wasting OUR OWN ENERGY. Of course I’ve known since I was a teenager that it’s not nice to be irritable and get short with people, and yada yada, but when I see what a toll it takes on my energy level…well, I just don’t want to waste any more of my energy. I’m too old for that.

So instead of me trying my very best not to get irritated with someone because I know it’s “wrong” and will bring me bad karma, I’d be much wiser to not get irritated with someone because I know that in the end, I don’t want to go through that cycle – guilt, criticism, depression, loss of energy. I don’t think I realized how much of my allowing someone to get me irritated caused that cycle. I wasn’t sure what DID cause that cycle before today. Previously I would have blamed that other person for their stupidity/ignorance/rudeness and I’d go on about my day…not even realizing why I had a loss of energy and felt depressed.



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A Mission of Person

When I was in college I was assigned the task of creating a personal “mission statement” in business ethics class. You’ve probably heard that term – mission statement – from businesses, or on a business website — every corporation should theoretically (if their CEO has been to business school) have a mission statement. Generally speaking, it is a brief one to two sentence statement that gives a clear picture of what the organization is all about.

Being the A+ whore that I am, I decided to elaborate on my mission statement and really think about the kind of person that I want to be. The following is what I came up with. And although this was over 10 years ago that I wrote this statement (it may have gone through a few modifications since then), I wish I could say that I’ve strictly adhered to it, but that is not the case. I should pull it out more often to remind myself that I can *try* to follow these guidelines. But I’ll admit, it’s not easy. But neither was hiking to the top of these mountains in Coorg, India, but it was totally worth it!

Coorg, India

Coorg, India

Personal Mission Statement

I must begin my mission and follow my mission, always keeping in mind how I want my mission to end.

To enhance my life with  excitement and fulfillment:

  • I will awake every morning only to be thankful that I have been placed on this beautiful planet where I can feel lucky enough just to be able to think, feel, laugh, cry, eat, smell, and breathe
  • I will take every moment and use it to create another moment and to always remember that each moment could be my last
  • I will learn something new everyday and try something new every chance I get
  • I will do everything — work, school, family, and play – with passion and courage, never halfway, but with every ounce of energy and enthusiasm within me
  • I will remember that I have control over my experiences and that I must seek everyday to make the most of those experiences
  • I will keep going and doing
  • I will remember to grasp every second of life, for it is so, so very short

To strengthen my personality and my effectiveness on others:

  • I will attempt to meet many different types of people, always keeping an open mind and  never holding prejudices
  • I will work to strengthen my confidence and self-esteem
  • I will always seek to be empathetic, honest, and loyal
  • I will keep in mind that I must trust and have faith in others
  • I will practice pro-activity and interdependence while holding to my central principles
  • I will provide direction, standards, and ethics for myself, which I will use to make effective decisions throughout my life
  • I will practice using analytical problem solving skills with logic, patience, intuition, and experience

To enable my body, mind, and conscience to be entwined as one complete being:

  • I will keep my mind clean, my body healthy, and my spirit lit
  • I will love as if I have never before been hurt
  • I will be courageous at heart and wise in mind
  • I will remember the past, but never dwell on it; anticipate the future, but never expect it; and live in the present, without opposing its reality

To fulfill my part in society:

  • I will encourage my friends and family to seek their goals and have faith in their abilities
  • I will give what I can and only take what I need
  • I will learn from my mistakes so I can make better decisions in the future
  • I will contribute my knowledge, abilities, and spirit to the rest of the world in every way possible
  • I will travel the world and learn about different cultures and use this experience to enhance my interactions with people
  • I will take my accomplishments and utilize them for the better good of society

Have you ever tried creating your own personal mission statement? It’s a great way to set some goals and make some improvements in your life. LifeHack has a good article to get you started.


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