Tag Archives: exercise

The Faces of Prayer

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Call it meditation, prayer, mindfulness, consciousness, or sitting quietly with self. What matters is the intention behind it. When you take those actions, do you intend to connect to something larger than ego? The divine within you, perhaps, or God, or Buddha, or the universal consciousness?

You might call that prayer–not the, “Please save me,” kind, but the, “My eyes are open and I am grateful,” kind. Each time, each moment is unique.

What surprised me recently was how much I pray, and in how many ways:

  • My “20 breaths” meditation with eyes closed–which I can do anywhere, even on the back of the motorcycle–allows for immediate grounding and a new perspective on the world every time I open my eyes
  • Yoga practice, where I pray with my body by falling deep into meditation even while my muscles and ligaments are challenged; I am honoring the divine in myself, my teacher, and the lights in the rooms who are practicing with me
  • Wearing amulets, such as the lotus flower and an open heart charm, which represent my connection to the larger consciousness and honor my ability to stay present with the world even during difficult times
  • Kirtan, or chanting in Sanskrit, which removes the mind-created barriers to being one with the divine energy
  • Hiking, where I am at one with my surroundings and in awe of the sounds, sights, and smells of the physical world
  • Affirmations, which I speak to honor myself as a unique and beautiful expression of divinity
  • Mindful eating, where I thank three teachers, one with each of the first three bites I take

Without even counting the times when I converse directly with my higher power, I pray all the time. I’ve built these practices up slowly–over years–but I am pleased to notice that I am connecting to the light more every day. My aunt, an energy worker herself, once told me, “Honey, you are the brightest thing in this room.”

In what ways do you pray? How does being more conscious of that shift your perspective on your connection to the divine?

 

Photo: Buddhist prayer flags; (c) Rawich; courtesy FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

3 Life Lessons from Yoga Practice


yoga silhouettes

I’ve been practicing yoga regularly for two and a half years. The physical benefits alone are worth the time and effort: it helps me be flexible, balanced, and strong. The Wii Fit says my age is four years younger than my real age, mostly because my balance and center of gravity are so good. That makes me all the more able to do the things I love, like bike, hike, and dance.

But it’s the other benefits, the ones that don’t have a lot to do with my physical body, that have changed my life.

  1. I can breathe through any kind of pain: emotional, spiritual, or physical. Ujjayi breathing is a controlled way to take air in and let it out that allows the practitioner to keep life force moving through the body instead of escaping from it during difficult yoga poses. I can’t count the number of times I’ve used ujjayi breath to move through tough confrontations and emotional distress.
  2. I am capable of doing things I never before would have imagined. Every time I experience a new pose, or refine one based on an instructor’s suggestion and feel my body as if it’s completely new to me, I am filled with wonder and awe. How did I do that? I trusted that I could. I stopped being afraid and moved into the world of possibility.
  3. It is possible to stop time. I ceased buying into the concept of linear time more than a year ago, when I realized that each moment is its own infinity. Yoga practice encourages me to be fully present in every moment, letting go of all past and future moments. It’s a freedom like no other.

These life lessons have let me feel contentedness, joy, love, and compassion to an extent I never have before. And I know that I’ll keep learning, keep growing, keep discovering. Yoga has become a way of life, and I am grateful for its lessons.

Biking as a Metaphor for Life

Sometimes I hem and haw and don’t want to expend the effort to go bicycling, but I get on anyway. Because I know that along the way, I’ll see and hear and feel wonderful things–birds singing, crickets chirping, trees blossoming, children playing, my body moving fast under its own power, sweat from exertion being wicked away by the wind, a mad bass beat pumping from tiny little earbuds into my brain. Endorphins rock.

Half of my ride is spent smiling and laughing, and often that means bugs in my teeth and down my throat. It’s all part of the adventure.

There are other hazards: I’ve been stung by bees, had mud slung up my back, been cold and wet and dirty, fallen on my keister a time or two (not bad for how many miles I’ve ridden, and how fast I ride), and gotten caught in lightning storms. Once I had to make a split-second decision whether to run over a snake and kill it, because I was going about 25 mph, or swerve and risk wrecking. I swerved. I didn’t wreck.

No two bike rides are ever the same. My body, my energy, my mind, the weather, and my path are always different. Biking uses my body, my mind, and my heart. And spirit? Well, when I ride, I intentionally see each person I pass as a beam of divine light. A lot of people smile back.

Who I am when I’m biking is the best of me and the best of life: centered, loving, intentional, and carefree.