Monday, August 29, 2011
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Friday, July 15, 2011
Friday, July 8, 2011
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
I am now in the decade of my 60s, and I am still the only one who can make a difference in myself and in my life. I am fully prepared to do so and look inwardly for guidance. It has been my preference and my joy to stay connected with myself through the practice of yoga. Yoga is also the way in which I express my physical and energetic sense of self. It is through my yoga practice that I am more able to stay present, to stay internally balanced, and to enjoy good health through the principles of breath, alignment, and movements.
I like to think that yoga is an aesthetic; it is a creative dance that blends movement and expression. When I’m practicing yoga, I feel like I’m the disco queen, the sexy Latina dancer, the prima ballerina, and everything beautiful wrapped up inside me. No one is watching me, and no one is judging me. My mat is my universe. I am always amazed by what I learn daily about moving into a position without needing to get anywhere. From the flowing yoga movements come joy and renewal. I’m excited and enthusiastic to be alive and mindful of my being. New ideas often enter my mind as I breathe and flow. I let them go, knowing that they will return in time.
Yoga is derived from the Sanskrit word yui, which means to “bring together” or “to unite.” The practice integrates all aspects of the individual--body, mind, and spirit--to bring about balance and harmony in a sentient being. There are three parts to a yoga practice: breathing, physical movement (or asana), and meditation.
Breathing is the linchpin of the practice, for it yokes the body and mind together. Breath is sacred, and breathing is the major mechanism that inspires us to be present. This is not an ordinary breathing pattern, but deep belly breathing that engages every cell in the body.
I like to refer to the moving or physical component of a yoga practice as a “moving meditation” because it connects a clear mind with breath and physical movement. The movement component helps me let go of my thoughts and to distance myself from the constant need to feed my ego.
I am facilitated in creating more awareness in my life through the practice of meditation. The simple definition of “meditation” is to quiet the mind; yet this definition doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to stop thinking. Meditation suggests to us that we let our thoughts go and not get stuck on one track or loop. When we relax the mind, we relax our body as well.
There are many creative techniques that I use in mediation apart from watching my thoughts go by like clouds or watching my breathing. I challenge my thoughts and ask myself if I have any suggestions for improving the meditation. I pay close attention to my posture, a straight spine. I hold and sustain contradictory thoughts, pay attention to ambient sounds in the room, imagine a beautiful scene on the beach. Or, I might ask myself what is it I really want in life?
Brain mapping studies reveal that mediation increases happiness and reduces stress, which gives us a better quality of ife. Long–term meditation is associated with increased gray matter, increased density of the brain stem, increased thickness of the spinal cord, increased blood flow, and improvement in cognitive learning.
The manner in which I engage in my yoga practice is through the selection of small intentions rather than goals, as in “I have to touch the floor; otherwise I haven’t executed the posture properly.” The intention of moving in to a pose with patience, grace, and alignment allows me to stay in the present without grasping or forcing myself into position. If I take the intentional aspect of yoga off my mat and into my life as a replacement for the goal-oriented Western concept of pushing toward achievement, I can live my life with more ease and a deeper sense of purpose and joy. This is the essence of yoga; enjoying the journey and not heading directly for the destination.
Yoga distances myself from the daily grind of life. I cannot change the dynamics of my world, but I can effect change in myself. I follow the yogic way of life and its principles of an open heart and mind and what follows is my bliss.
On my first day of my yoga teacher training class, my teacher asked the class why he or she had signed up for training. I said, “Because I want to live forever.” I was, of course, joking, but I do know that my yoga practice has allowed me to live with greater joy.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Sunday, May 1, 2011
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Friday, April 15, 2011
Monday, April 11, 2011
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Monday, March 28, 2011
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Monday, March 14, 2011
Saturday, March 5, 2011
As you know, last week I admitted myself into the hospital for a laparoscopic procedure. But what I didn't write about was the following incident, which has stuck in my mind since the day I was admitted.
My friend had dropped me off at the Santa Monica UCLA out patient center on 15th and Arizona. very nice lady escorted me into the admissions room where I waited briefly to be admitted. A young woman was my contact. Sitting behind the desk, she seemed adequately pleasant but just a little “down.” I thought, perhaps, that she was worn out by admitting patients throughout the morning. After all, it was 11:15 by the time I got in front of her.
“Single and happy,” I replied.
Her head bolted up from the form and a look of shock over took her visage.
“What?” she asked in a voice supported by too much energy.
“Single and happy,” I responded again.
“Are you?” she asked curiously.
“I’m not interested in finding a man,” she said. “I’m okay with how it is. I’m single and that’s okay.”
I thought of the many times in the last years when someone surprised me with an invitation to go to a concert, to a movie, to dinner, made a new friend, didn't have to ask permission, didn't have to look after the needs of someone (of course, when one is love, that's part of the relationship), flitted off to Bali for a week's vacation, tangoed in Amsterdam, climbed the volcano in Costa Rica and thought that my life was completely and wonderfully fulfilled.
That was a sad thing for me to hear: the conventional wisdom says a woman isn't happy without a man. Really? Who made up that propaganda? Or more to the point: that's a myth we can dispose of.
I’ve been married for eighteen years, been in a long term relationship for sixteen years and have dated off and on for perhaps four years. However, when I divorced and started on yet another part of my journey, for the first time, I felt in control of my life and my choices. It was a perfectly freeing experience. And I haven’t lost my passion for life and living. I still work teaching yoga and meditation; I just wrote a book, Sixty, Sex, & Tango, Confessions of a Beatnik Boomer, I blog, I dance Argentine tango, I date when I want, I visit my adult children and grandchildren once a month; I have time to write a keynote speech, go to book festivals, be a supportive friend, keep up all those I love within my thoughts daily., and more importantly, have gratitude for all of my gifts.
“Thank you,” she said to me. “I’ve never heard that before from anyone and I’m so happy to be finally validated about how I feel about being single.”