Walking the Circle of Life

 

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The Path of Peace

I am the daughter of a warrior. My father was a bomber pilot in WWII and the Viet Nam War. My mother watched the bombing of Pearl Harbor from her bathroom window on Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. I am also the sister, aunt, cousin, former spouse and friend of countless military personnel. My love and respect for those who serve - and for those of us who wait and hope for their safe return - is boundless and deep.

At his core, my father was a man of peace. He grew up on a sheep ranch in northern Nevada. He carried sick or injured lambs until they were strong enough to walk with their mothers. He learned to nurture and raise healthy animals in a stark and challenging environment. He could kill for food or to relieve an animal's suffering but never for pleasure. His warrior heart was as tender as it was strong. He believed those wars would bring peace; so did I.

I think the Viet Nam era was the most challenging. At one point my father and my brother (by congressional waiver) flew...

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A Gentle Path to Ahimsa/Non-Violence

My last entry was intense, especially if you look at ahimsa, non-violence, as behavior or a state of being that you have to "make" happen. Even the idea of that journey is exhausting when viewed as a standard so high, so perfect, that it becomes the impossible goal. "I'll do the best I can but I'll never make it."

Let's make it simple, remembering that simple isn't always easy. Mindfulness, compassion toward myself, honesty about what I think and feel are all necessary to live a non-violent life. However, changing thought patterns and behaviors is not the best place to begin. It can be frustrating and fruitless if these changes are not emanating from a fundamental shift in what I believe about mySelf, my True Nature.

If I continue to believe that I am born a sinner who must gain the approval and love of a judgmental God, then judging myself and attempting to control my thoughts and behaviors will be my path. This path brings me right back into himsa, violence toward myself....

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Do No Harm

Ahimsa (अहिंसा, Ahiṃsā), loosely translated, means abstinence from violence either by thought, word, or deed. Non-injury requires a harmless mind, mouth, and hand. In a positive sense, it implies compassion and cosmic love. It is the development of a mental attitude in which hatred is replaced by love. The scriptures define ahimsa as the true sacrifice, forgiveness, power, and strength. At its core, ahimsa is based on the intentions of a person whose focus is to not harm anyone. (Krishna Maheshwari as quoted in www.hindupedia.com ).

Ahimsa is most often defined as "to do no harm."  When I attended certification training through Integrative Yoga Therapy with Joseph LePage, he sat with us quietly one evening under a tree and strummed his guitar. He sang to us in English, Spanish and Portuguese, soothing our minds, bodies and souls. We were exhausted from long days and nights of practice and study. As everyone settled and began to relax, he quietly told us that we would...

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This Moment Gives Birth To The Next

                              This moment gives birth to the next.

This statement is an invitation to mindfulness, being present in the moment. What do I mean by this? Thank you for asking and for inviting me to take you deeper.

If I am in a truly unhappy, difficult experience and I am advised to count my blessings I will feel a small smile forming on my face as I quietly nod my head. Years ago, a woman older and wiser than myself told me that gratitude opens the heart for further blessings. In order for my heart to open and receive what I need right now, I must be mindful of current blessings. The Circle of Life is evident here. If I desire blessings, I must see blessings right now in this moment. The gratitude I feel in this moment gives birth to the blessings and gratitude I will feel in the next moment. It is a circle within the Circle of Life.

How? Nature has always brought me...

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Contrast Creates Clarity

balance intensity openness Nov 19, 2019

In my last entry I referred to dark/light as an example of Yin/Yang. The first thing that comes to mind when I think in these terms is black and white photography. This is one of my favorite artistic mediums. The edges are more apparent than they are in color photography.The lack of color calls to the imagination. The shadows or dark areas give definition and clarity to the light. Rather than working against the light, the dark supports the light, making it shine more brightly.

Emotions are judged harshly if they have been labeled as negative. Fear is deemed negative in the Western mind and yet, in Eastern philosophy, it is seen as one of the Master Teachers. Fear definitely has two sides. Legitimate fear can save your life. Unrealistic fear can paralyze you. Learning from your fear increases your self-awareness and nurtures your spiritual growth. Sitting with an intense and uncomfortable emotion brings insight and often healing. Here is a practical example: When you feel...

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Yin & Yang - Opposite or Complimentary?

The concept of the yin and yang principles feels like a paradox. Yin and Yang are forces that appear to be opposite or contrary but, in actuality, are complementary. I like to use two primary examples: female/male and light/dark. In the literal translation of the ancient languages, yin means bright and yang means dark.

In hatha yoga, we use yin to describe practices that are receptive in nature and yang to describe practices that are more assertive in nature. I taught and still practice yin yoga, moving slowly and thoughtfully through the asanas (postures), mindful of breath, awareness, and movement. In yang classes, vinyasa tends to be the norm challenging us to breathe and move more quickly and strongly through the asanas.

Yin is defined as the feminine (receptive) aspect of the Divine in all creation and yang is the masculine (assertive) aspect of the Divine in all creation. As human beings, we carry elements of both in our physical, mental, emotional makeup....

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My Weekend Retreat

Many years ago while living in Las Vegas, I was working full time and feeling worn down by it all. I treated myself to a weekend retreat from so many people, business, the heat. My memories remind me of important lessons and choices:

Bella, my little furry friend, and I snuggle in the chilly mountain air, fireplace lit, and music playing. We walk, rest, read, doze. She is a sweet companion. So lovely to have a dog to bring with me. She came to me through the cocker rescue group, a foundling abandoned to the desert wind, without a history. Her story unknown makes no difference for we are not our stories. She is love wrapped in a small package and her life warms mine.

As I gain clarity regarding issues at work, people stuff, I realize this:

I live life large - large of heart and mind. To focus on the behavior of another makes my life small...and I live life large.

Again life reminds me that you cannot make a person see what they cannot see. Each of us can only live from the...

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Is "Normal" Healthy?

balance dysfunction healthy Oct 29, 2019

Do you ever wish you could just have a normal life? Have you ever asked yourself what you mean by that or what "normal" is in our society? Let's do that now.

The word "normal" is a statistical term meaning an average, standard, model or pattern. For example, if there are ten homes on the block and seven of those homes have garages, then 70% of the homes have garages. It could then be said that an average home on that block has a garage.

As I listened to a recorded speech given at a national Alcoholics Anonymous gathering, my mouth dropped open when the speaker reported a statistic that claimed 70% of motorists on the roads at any given time in this country are chemically impaired. That number includes alcohol, illegal substances, prescription medications, and over-the-counter medications.

I burst out laughing as I realized there was no way I wanted to be "normal!" That statistic did not deal with the resulting dysfunction in friends and families of the impaired drivers. Normal...

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Higher Awareness: Non-Duality

“Life is led by reinforcing both positive and negative themes, because they lend structure to a person’s story. Without themes, the story would turn shapeless. Yet positive and negative themes share the same flaw. They bind you inside your story. It’s better to win than to lose, for example, but if we heed the world’s wisdom traditions, winning and losing are opposites that depend on each other. Therefore, winners will always eventually face loss. Optimism will eventually fail. Loving will eventually lead to disappointment. Evolution occurs when you stop identifying with these themes—known as the state of duality—and begin to measure your life in ways that are not dual, not dependent on opposites. What we’re talking about are the fundamental qualities of consciousness that lie deeper in our awareness.” (page 600)

Excerpt From: Deepak Chopra & Rudolph E. Tanzi. “The Healing Self.” Apple Books. ...

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A Natural Smile

joy love peace Oct 15, 2019

I have been practicing yoga for 30 years. My first experience as a student was during a most challenging and sad time in my life. Staying with my class in spite of intense emotions and exhaustion allowed me to go through that time without becoming ill.

One day, while cleaning house, I caught my reflection in a mirror and was shocked to see the look on my face. When had I lost my smile? Did I ever have a face that smiled naturally? I could not remember in that moment. I sat down and wept. My heart opened to a new, healing desire and a new mantra was born: May I have a face that smiles.

Here I am all these years later finding myself smiling as I walk, cook, watch television, read, put out the trash. The smile is natural, needing no stimulant. I wonder at times if I look a little goofy - smiling for no reason at all. I have heard people comment that they never trust anyone who smiles all the time. Now, that's goofy!

Oh, there are times when the soul smile fades a bit. Just before...

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