Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Meditation on Yoga

Hi, Boomers,

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

Master of the Universe

Dear Mr. Wiener,
Sorry I'm late to your pity party. I've been slogging through the fourth draft of my hour long speech for the National Speakers Association. I'm still an academy member, not officially a full fledged member, until I give 20 paid speeches. You probably have hundreds of paid speeches in the bag. I just gave my first - sort of - since I didn't have the speech memorized but I did give a semblance of a speech on my topic: Retirement Is Not An Option: Act 3. It sounds like a speech you might want to hear right about now. Or you can joined me Monday nights at the West Hollywood chapter of Toastmasters. I got first place on Monday night for giving an impromptu speech on, "What are the two most important characteristics of a true champion?" You might have learned something. I reflected that the two important traits of a champion were having an attitude of gratitude and recognizing vulnerability as an asset instead of a liability. That moment felt about as good as getting the academy award for best actress in a documentary. You might have used one or two of my points in your resignation speech on Thursday. It didn't sound like you had a lot of gratitude going for you.
It feels almost like a sin not to blog about you, Anthony. May I call you Anthony, Mr. Wiener? I know I'm a week late on this subject, but forgive me because I've been busy.
Anthony, your antics give us women so much fodder for the subject of men behaving badly that it's seems a shame to waste a good journalistic moment. At fist I didn't care about what you did; that is to say, share your private part with random women. I really couldn't figure out why I didn't care and it bothered me - not about what you did but why I didn't care about what you did. Should I really care that a guy was objectifying women for his own self-agrandizement? Seen that done a hundred times before. Nothing new there. Hey, look at my penis! Isn't it great? Don't you just adore it? Of course, you love it! It's a penis! All women love penis, don't you know. (I refuse to use the plural of penis. My significant other and I always argued over the plural of the word. I called it peni.)
First, not all women love penis. Why in the name of Zeus do men think we all love penis? That's an assumption that I can prove just walking down Hollywood Blvd. And if we did love, okay, dick, why do you think we want to see it on Twitter or a cell phone. That picture is just bad photography. No, dude. You love your penis and I don't love your penis. You love it most of all. All men love their dick most of all.
Anthony, when I first heard about your penchant to get the attention of random women by exposing yourself, I knew you had a psychological problem. So it was easy to distance myself from what you did. I mean, who does that besides 25 year olds who don't know any better or someone with a sexual issue or even with a random self-esteem issue. I mean talk about your adolescent behavior. I mean, talk about your narcissism, your borderline personality, your hypo-manic attention getting neediness. And your behavior had been going on long before you married, Anthony. I mean, didn't you think you had a problem. You've been displaying this behavior for 4 years prior to your marriage. Oh, excuse me, you didn't think at all because you love the thrill of the hunt; you love the risk, you risk-taker, you. You felt like you were master of the universe. Or, maybe as some people are saying, you wanted to get caught. In front of TV cameras? In front of the world? Big balls you have, Tony.
I know that most everyone was more angry at you for lying than your actual behavior. Some were more angry at you for your rank stupidity. And I kind of get it why you lied - embarrassment, of course, lost of status, of course, your wife would find out, of course - but even as you told the lie you had to know that one or more of those tattle-tale girls would want their five minutes of fame. Girls just can't keep their mouth shuts now-a-days. They love to kiss and tell or in your case, just plain tell. By the way, the dialogue between you and some of the girls was pretty sophomoric, Anthony. Do you really talk like that in bed? Time for a script doctor. So lying had no upside for you except more haters came out. And being stupid in action and deed was really beneath you because you had a rep for being articulate and bright on political issues. You really do seem to think with your dick. How cliched! That's basically why you seek therapy. Then maybe you'll get enlightened and write a book about the "penis factor." I have no idea how you are going to redeem yourself. I have no idea how you get your marriage back on track. This whole episode is pretty tragic because a fall from grace is never good. In a sick way, it would have been better just to have a commercial exchange like Spitzer. Payment for services rendered. It's cleaner even though his trick was a blabber mouth, too. I think that's an ethics violation on the behalf of his favorite call-girl. We all understand commerce even though we don't condone cheating. Morality is a sticky issue under any circumstances. You, my friend, didn't even get laid. There was no commerce; there was only behavior unbefitting an adult. No perks there.
Maybe I still don't care, Tony, that you let yourself and your wife and Congress, I mean the Democrats down. Maybe I don't care because by now I'm conditioned to expect the worst in men's behavior. It doesn't phase me. I don't even feel sad about it. I don't feel anything about it except you are a Democrat; even so it seems your job wasn't even that important to you and you let down your constituents . And the women who participated in your charade, those who hung on to your twittering longer than one second, not only played a role in your downfall, but also behaved like twittering females. The minute one of those women kept the sex game going , so dying to hold on to the pathetic five minutes of attention you gave them with your immature behavior, they also became complicit. Hey, Tony, is it my imagination or are more common today to see women behaving badly as well.
Look, Anthony, I'm not a prude in matters of sex. I like it as much as the next straight female. But I prefer intimacy in matters of sex, principally in the prone position, and I don't approve of public displays in which all of us get caught up in someone else's distorted vision (i.e., your wet dream) of what appropriate sexual conduct is about. Do you realize that there are now little imitators of Anthony Wiener's bad behavior floating around iCloud? Now more men than ever will think it's okay to show their penis because you did, and these guy also won't think they'll get caught. Darling, Tony, everyone gets caught in some fashion. Everyone pays the price. Why, oh, why, darling Tony, did you think that somewhere in your redundant mind, you thought that if men behaved in a risky manner, women would be turned on. We don't get horny that way, dude.
Here's a history lesson for you, Tony: In days gone by, man's conquest over his sex drive gave him superior powers and many virtues. It was a sign of honor not to flagrantly display the male member all the time because keeping the penis in check was a way to demonstrate a strong mind/body connection. That was true self-mastery. Today, it's just reality TV and we are all sucked into the vortex of other's people's perception of their reality.