The Ordinary Extraordinary

Photo by myself: Crater Lake, Oregon. Unedited mobile click – what is so ordinary or extraordinary about this picture?

It helps to blur the line between ordinary and extraordinary, whichever end we think us to be on. When extraordinary strength is required for everyday life during challenging situations that seem to be present for a long term, it helps to remember that even ‘normal’ life feels the same periodically.

I realized this when I dealt with a difficult illness for some years with no break of ‘normalcy’. I decidedly trained myself to accept my new normal and then the days that felt really hard became just like any ‘normal’ life. It lifted the burden of Why Me-s and made it somewhat more acceptable to live through the ordinary pain of a seemingly extra-ordinary situation (or vice versa).

And when we think of us as ordinary and normal it helps to remember that we hold the potential for extraordinary. When life is ‘normal’ we take it for granted that only some special people have strength. We forget that they are choosing to be strong. All of us have the choice to go a bit beyond our comfort zone, with integrity to our well being.

I love and admire people who have, what I don’t have in me yet. We need all shades of capacity, resilience and joy in differing measures from time to time. I keep learning to love myself more and more with all my perceived shortcomings. It gives a renewed taste of newfound freedom continually.

All things big and small when dropped to the felt sense become our internal experiences. No experience is ordinary or extra-ordinary, in some ways. Just because it happens to everyone and is normal, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be affected. If our thoughts and emotions are taking over that means our experience is real. It is affecting the quality of our life. Acceptance is being aware of all of that.

When fear grips, it means some perceived and real experiences have left us with no control over how we feel and choose. It becomes a struggle even when we have had a taste of divine faith before. We now seem to have lost the ability to be congruent with the core of our original being. When our system is out of balance the fear might bring up some pain or symptom in the body. We might feel agitation or confusion in the mind, we lose the capacity to connect with divine faith.

It is helpful at such times to create experiences to influence our system in the direction of balance. This can be done in various ways. A breathing practice that brings the body and mind to a calmer & clearer state of being, time in solitude or nature with nurturing activities. To me sometimes I just need honest conversations with people who can act as authentic mirrors to me. Either a friend or mentor who reinforces and channels that sense of trust, faith or divine connection back in our system.

I have found tremendous rich value in this process of intentional shifts between imbalance & balance, ordinary & extraordinary, and fear & faith. I am blessed to be a receiver of such reinforcements from friends and teachers that I reach out to.

I am also grateful to have opportunities to facilitate such shifts through the yoga classes that I teach in group and private sessions. If you are curious check my humble yoga website: http://www.YogaSaar.com

This post is from a train of thoughts that I had saved in my drafts. I would be honored to know what came up for you and if we are able to exchange perspectives.

You are Here, Awake & Alive

There is subtle calibration of life processes that keep us going at our optimal, or become out of balance. It may show up in our ability to stay calm or feel overwhelmed in turmoil.

How do we access that calibration? How do we access the unmoving stability, strength, focus, ease of our being when surrounded by chaos, confusion or challenging life experiences that seem to be real and unreal at the same time.

The capacity to bridge & reach the unmoving stillness within, from all the unrelenting movements around and the mixing up of what is normal and the new normal – how do we explore the edges of this capacity?

One way for me is through a breath-oriented yoga practice in which the breath is invited to stay long and smooth no matter what posture, and move only in co-ordination with that breath. It is a distinctly different effort for the body and mind. It helps us explore our individual patterns of how we add stress to our being and bring more awareness, consciousness, calibration for optimal functioning. The result is a sense of calmness and clarity. The more consistently I practice, sooner I am able to get back to balance, each time I lose it.

Above pictures are from a Healing Trail I walked with 2 of my meditation friends – We walked with prayer and intention for all our families, brothers and sisters from India who are in such deep suffering with losing loved ones on a daily basis. We expressed humble gratitude for this blessed opportunity to get to walk on this planet, be together in that moment – “You are here awake and alive” – we have that available preciously in each moment Now. I chose to share just these out of a lot more such markers on this trail, because I connected with these the most on this day. I feel a sense of spaciousness after walking this trail, within me and around me along with being connected to everything and everyone.

Perhaps go back and look at the pictures again, peer through them if they can give you the peace.

P.S. If you are curious, check out my yoga website : www.YogaSaar.com

Did I hurt my ‘image’ by sharing about my pain?

My Meditative Moments – Photo by Manish Doshi

I shared about my recent knee pain here and how I used it as an opportunity for deeper healing. Since then I have had quite a few conversations with curious and also concerned friends. I was encouraged by one of them to write this part 2 for my post “Liquid Gold” Following are some of the questions/comments I received along with my responses.

Why do you share about your pain publicly? Doesn’t it hurt your image as a healthy yoga teacher, and affect your business?

I do not have a brand to create in this moment, if at all, I am the brand for who and how I am. If there is any public image I strive for, it would be one of authenticity. I am in the business of creating myself in the truest expression of my spirit, and I facilitate that process for my students to the extent they would choose to go. I am a good coach to help someone identify what it is in their way & reach their goals with clarity, if we are a good match to each other.

I am as curious as you are, if my approach creates a well paying business for myself. I am open to discovering it. I forever keep pushing the edges of my skills, courage and vulnerability, and will keep showing up with all that I have in the moment. The results come abundantly in ways we are open to receiving, and that can look different for each one of us. I refuse to create an image of that which I am not in my being and becoming.

You practice yoga every day and also teach people, then how come you have such knee pain suddenly?

I am a human first, then a teacher, practitioner and everything else. Yoga practice does not give me a pain-free pass through life. It gives me the ability to become present to the pain and find a positive skillful way of being through it, and maybe out of it. It gives me the capacity to discern clearly, where is the pain coming from – is it purely physical, or is it also from some stagnant emotions? Is it being inflicted and accumulated from some mental belief that has us make certain choices repeatedly? Often pain has deeper roots than we can imagine.

I am skilled at facilitating this process for others, designing practices that help them become aware of their own body, mind, emotion patterns, and replace them with more aligned, balanced patterns.

I am a bit worried about you, Pragalbha. Are you taking health risks by treating yourself with yoga & spiritual stuff? Do these affirmations and all work for you because you are really specially spiritual or are you really doing something scientific?

This is in no way to replace expert medical advise (which I did take). I simply believe I have absolutely contributed to whatever pain emerges in my body, and so I need to be of equal or more contribution to my recovery from pain. Sometimes there are perspectives and choices that are needed in addition and for any medicine to take sustained effect.

While my doctor focused on the inflammation aspect of my pain, I focused on lengthening my spine with postural yoga to relieve strain on my knee joint, using my breath to keep my mind calm & clear, and other ways to clear out emotions like fear, inflexibility, anger, resentment that tend to create stiffness and pain in joints. In my case, my knee needed help to allow me to move forward literally and in life. I still have some lingering moments of pain coming back, reminding me that I am falling back into my old patterns. Pain is a very intelligent medium that helps us by its presence, until we heal wholly, deeply and fully. I am in touch with my expert medical practitioner for advice as needed.

Yoga is a science and practice of Being. It helps us get skilled at Being through circumstances without added stresses like fear or worry for example. It helps us get through difficult situations with much more ease, without anything become a major impediment. We are able to function in ways that otherwise might not have become possible. I have seen countless examples of this in students that I work with, be it physical pain or other stresses of life. And of course, I hope to keep sharing my personal journey with honesty.

P.S. If you liked this article, you might like the poem Questions Answered that I wrote back in 2017.

Liquid Gold

Sunrise photo by my son Sanved Doshi

Sunrise & Sunsets are Magical Moments
And the one at the ocean
Is that liquid gold beauty
That invokes Gratitude naturally

My heart is filled with the fluid gold of Gratitude. I returned from my travel, a trip to Hawaii islands that seemed like it wasn’t meant to happen and then it was exactly what was supposed to happen.

Just one week before my trip, I suffered from a ‘bad’ knee that had me unable to walk or move for 3 days. While the doctors might talk about ligaments and what not, I went into deep communication with my knee, asking my body what it needed from me.

I have been holding multiple other life journeys in my heart, making me unable to move forward. My knees were telling me to keep moving ahead, and not carry so much of the heavy load, it wasn’t mine to carry. I serve better by living the lightness and the joy available to me, so I know, yet my mind felt selfish as if having to leave life and people behind, if I were to break out of more personal barriers.

My knees were holding a lot – they were stuck with much pain, grief, anger, even traces of resentment that I wasn’t willing to look at. The only way out of anything is Through. I have been there, done that before – this time it was my ‘intelligent’ knee that made me pause, look, feel, and let go.

I equipped myself with the following affirmations that I repeated to myself during the 6 hour flight and my daily barefoot walks in the earthly sand for at least an hour.

I release any inflexibility & fear I have stored in my knees.
I release any lack of ease I have stored in my knees.
I release any shock & resistance I have stored in my knees.
I release any anger & stubbornness I have stored in my knees.
I release any irritation & stress I have stored in my knees.
I release any excess responsibility & pressure I have stored in my knees.
I release any conflict & spiritual turmoil I have stored in my knees.
I joyfully release all that old stuff.

It is safe to surrender now.
I feel safe and flexible moving forward now.
I feel so supported and secure now.
It is easy to forgive the past and go with the flow now.
It is easy to stand up for myself now.
My knees are strong, stable, healthy.
I am perfectly aligned and embrace change easily.
I move forward with confidence and joy.

With every breath I take I send love, gratitude and healing to my knees and every single cell in my body.

I practiced deep long breaths and spine lengthening postures every day to release any stress on the lower extremity joints.

I went to the airport limping and I came back from my trip absolutely pain free. We planned for this trip only 3 days in advance when I felt very certain that it was in perfect alignment for moving forward. My knee wanted me to move through the pain, and the pain kept receding each day as I consciously worked through what my body needed and spirit guided.

Each day, each moment is an unknown unimagined miracle into another – last 2 weeks were as exquisitely amazing as much as how arduous the work might feel to dive in to the depths of our inner and outer journeys, finding our way through it all.

Myself at Sunrise, Photo by my husband Manish Doshi

The ocean has this magical ability to drink up all the tired unrelenting waves of my being and replenish with relentless, refreshed, playful, peaceful ones. My heart is filled with the fluid gold of Gratitude for all the abundance, joy, support and guidance available to me.

Everyday Warrior

Yesterday while walking along the ocean, the fallen woods called me to play on them and I found myself an experience of the strength and spaciousness of The Warrior. The strength felt is a very subtle inner power.

The warrior may have an ocean of emotions churning within, the warrior allows space for them. The ground the warrior stands on may not be wide or is a shaky one. The warrior has strong grounding through the legs and open arms to receive to the fullest – the breath and from life itself.

Later in the day I found myself contemplating- what does Yoga mean to me?

Yoga is about:

  • cultivating positive energy and joy for our daily life.
  • dropping the effort and developing the skill and focus for everyday ease.
  • building our ability to sustain our productivity and functions for the long term.

The postures and movements may or may not be physically challenging for you. The effort is in the attention to cultivate a long smooth breath, that gives us the ability to be balanced in our body and mind. It helps cleanse the effects of stress and pain, physical and emotional.

The challenge is in maintaining focus of attention where it is required, often true even in our daily life. Yoga trains our mind for that focus, and to meet challenges with clarity & skill.

P.S. This post is a contribution to ForgivingFridays of ForgivingConnects.

I am a yoga teacher …actually I am not.

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Photo Credit: Manish Doshi “Be present as you make your way”

Question: What do you do?
My answer: I am a yoga teacher.

Just that I don’t identify with that answer ever.

So what do I do?

My true answer:

I create space for people to rest their thoughts, feelings and emotions, and help them access their own clear voice that leads them to their truth and joyful living.

That is the answer that feels true to my heart. When I begin teaching a class my name, different tags of relations and society, our acquaintance if any, all that disappears. I lead you through an experience that is called yoga practice. I help you tune in with your breath, energy, body and sense of being. We take a dip in the pool of Infinite Living.

The practice helps you get clear in your mind, truly knowing and sensing what is going on within. Your time with me is a safe space to allow all that comes up in your body, mind, and emotion- no judgments. It is designed to help you be attentive and listen in.

I help you build skills to navigate through all that and listen to what your truth is and where your joy is. It is not an hour mind vacation after which you walk back into the same stress you live in. You know something about yourself or your life better than before as a result of your own attention. This happens in a group class too.

Do I continue in this relationship, or walk out? How do I find joy in my continuing relationship? Am I content with my current health status and how my doctor is addressing it? Do I quit my job, or continue? Do my food habits truly nourish me? Does parenting really have to be this difficult? How supported do I feel through these life changes and choices? What do I really want? I am worried, I have depression, anxiety, insomnia …

I facilitate these above experiences for you, as you find your own answers. We vibrate together with the joys and tears of transformation as you find your own relationship with yourself. My utmost contentment is when you need to see me less often, for our private sessions because you are now skilled at finding your clear voice and true choice. Your chronic pain has disappeared, digestion improved, or any other body issue addressed through therapeutic focus of yoga.

We are like lone kayakers in this Infinite ocean of the universe. If we are very present with the life currents, then we are skilled at the navigation. We have but this short and sweet vacation on this beautiful planet. We meet with each other, sometimes in happiness and sometimes in misery. Each one of us has our own path to carve through.

I have been blessed with teachers, with whom I continue to hone my skills. I have been blessed with students with whom I can share this powerful work, so I can pass it on just like I received it.

Teacher, student tags are just our convenience. What I do as work is create safe space for your pain, feelings, emotions – no judgment – so you feel positively empowered, inspired and supported through life and choices.

 

 

P.S. Dear wordpress friends, I apologize for my absence on your work, that are my joy to read. I will visit you soon.

Do Nothing

RestHere

Photo : Vikram Phale “Rest Here”

Choose to often do Nothing
Choose to not play the game
Choose to simply stay & Be
Choose the seemingly insane

Try it
Do Nothing
For an hour
For a day
For a month

For any length of time
Know what really is the fight
Win over that all in the mind
It is the Brave
Who can truly rest on this planet
Their choices are such …

Just Be
Aware
Then watch
Prowess simply becoming You
None of it you feel the need to be shown
Yet you are seen as powerfully grown

 

Who’s breath am I breathing?

OceanWave1

Photo: Manish Doshi ‘A Breath of Fresh Air’

Who’s breath am I breathing?
Who’s story am I weaving?
Who’s memory am I churning?
Who’s thoughts am I carrying?

With each breath I take

Who’s life am I living?
Who’s pain am I feeling?
Who’s right to breathe freely have I made my story?
Who is it that I am not left with my own pure breath for myself?

We talk about letting go. And for that process we invite all our stories and all of others’ woes to look at, to be able to let go. And then we look at them and we defend them and justify them and find ourselves lost in them. And the only thing we let go of is our deep, pure breath. Nothing else.

I have found that I imbibe, absorb, feel, sense every thought, feeling, energy around me. I pick up on it very sensitively. At times making my inner life a chaotic tangle of feelings. I have made a personal career out of my life to continually keep cleaning out my energetic closet that sometimes catches the cobwebs of negativity, lies, untruthfulness, facades, envy, jealousy in thought and action directed or not towards me. Most times I am not even aware of any of this actually going on. I just feel horrible inside and I know I am not breathing my pure breath but breathing a heavy air of all that is toxic to me. My breath catches it like a virus. I just feel it.

I have found myself very strong, resilient, having magical perspectives that lift me above any drama and trauma, in the face of the worst. I am unshaken in faith when it comes to threats to the well being of those closest to me and those who choose to work with me. I am undaunted in my intention of creation of a life of possibility and true joy for all of us. I will not give up on my version of a world where we absolutely trust the spoken word, show up as our real self and have compassion for each other.

Yet I end up using tremendous energy to keep my head above the waters of feelings and emotions of those around me physically, virtually and spiritually. I am an empath who feels the hurt behind your need to lie to me, your need to be untruthful to me, to act what you don’t mean with me. Yes I actually feel it and live it until I process it to rise above it.

I know I have done this when I am able to breathe purely, deeply, fluidly, smoothly, softly, leisurely, luxuriously – just pure breath of air that does not carry any charge, thought, feeling, emotion, story attached to it.  I am glad it is becoming increasingly easier, and the beauty of life is pouring in for me.

Do you know what a gift this kind of breath is? Have you given yourself a breath solely for yourself lately? Have you lived a moment purely as yourself lately?

I have dedicated my life to just that – taking as many deeply pure breaths and teaching you to do the same. It is a learning process to be able to let go of the stories. Even the real ones have to be let go, so they actually change.

Let’s breathe space into our stories instead of our stories clinging to our breath.

 

Yoga – My Work & Life

This post is a contribution to ForgivingFridays on ForgivingConnect, an amazing blog by Debbie Roth.

Choosing Teachers/Mentors – My Story

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“Grow & Bloom in places that seem unlikely”

As I have explained here, I did not trust my own company for the longest time. Now I enjoy my own company yet I know the significance of having the presence of a guide, mentor, teacher in my life.

A true mentor/teacher holds a clear mirror to your being, reflects your strengths and your weaknesses, without any personal agenda attached.

I say this because I have gone through a good number of teachers and mentors, long term and brief, in my quest (thirst, greed) for more knowledge, more perspectives. I found only very few who walk their talk, live their lessons and lead with compassionate authority.

There are teachers who try to lure by dangling a carrot of some conjured bliss. I could smell these carrots from afar. I have also met those with whom the work began well, I grew rapidly and then they fanned my weaknesses to keep the work going. It ended from my side, not without distress for both parties. I seek greedily, but not needily.

My humanness always saw the other greater than I am. It took me a while to become a person who seeked with clear intention. There is tremendous trust and vulnerability involved in these relations.

When they saw the potential in me, kept it a secret and worse tried to manipulate it to their advantage, it made me confused, sad and furious within, to not know what is really happening in our teacher-student relationship. When they infused fear in me to satiate their egotistic authority of their role in my life, it made me grieve and mourn the end of our relationship.

If I was feeling fearful or furious, it was time to be on my own. The right teachers always showed up next when I was ready.

I have the gratitude and blessings of this lifetime to have some truly amazing mentors/teachers in the present and past. They are true mentors because they know about each other and their significant role in my life. They are aware when I am working with more than one of them parallel, for different reasons. They are not threatened by the other nor is their ego bruised by my choices. I am able to be crystal honest with them. They don’t judge me for what I am yet don’t entertain my dependence on them. They hold safe space for my humanness and facilitate me to see my way clearly.

A true mentor strives to outgrow the relationship with the mentee and empowers you to thrive on your own.

I have never stopped being in touch with this kind. One of my past teacher of Yoga philosophy insists I should never stop working with my current teacher of Yoga philosophy. She even asked me to teach her the new perspectives I am gaining. This to me is the height of humility of a teacher for whom I had very high regard any way.

All the teachers that I crossed path with, helped me become who I am today. They modeled the right and wrong. I love having students who share with me what other sources are being helpful for them. I will never be done growing myself. I teach, facilitate, mentor with joy and freedom. I offer the same to others. We are in this together. I am walking my talk, if you see me ahead of you, just call out to me and I will reach out to you.

Don’t trust yourself too much!

CrowdedMind

“Crowded Mind” Photo Credit: Manish Doshi – Indian Banyan at Hindu Monastery, Kauai

As precious little humans we are often perpetually running in our minds, with the relentless churning of thoughts. We go through the day, and our lives, one escape after another, and back to the inner running mill of thinking, and more thinking.

“What? Meditation? Do you know how excruciating it gets when I try to sit still with myself? I just want to sleep and not wake up …not to these thoughts …not when I seem to have a knowing that they are not working for me, my thoughts won’t just leave me alone, so I can Think of doing something with my life. There is this stuck tape on repeat … over and over, 10, 000 times! My thoughts are sometimes killing me.”

I confess that the one above was me, seems like a lifetime years ago, and it felt lousy to be that one. If you are that lucky one who doesn’t know what I am talking about, you truly have a gifted life.

I never really trusted myself. Trust was never a part of the foundational paradigm of my living. The gift of that is, it made me into a greedy seeker. Always yearning for a teacher and teachings to guide me. I also lived with a fear of going wrong in some way in life. So I always chose to have a personal check on myself, by having a teacher or mentor, one way or another.

I became aware when enough was enough to stay with my own thoughts alone. I used a lot of Thought Replacement Therapy. That is my fancy way of saying I listened to or read from authors/teachers tremendously.  Reading from masters like Wayne Dyer, Louis Hay and studying the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, personally with teachers gave me a good influence on my thought direction.

I was still aware of times when my own company was useless for me, while doing mundane chores. Talking to other humans had its own limitations. So I listened to audios to replace my thoughts, particularly the dim ones. ‎

2 major influences on me are Dr. Dain Heer of Access Consciousness and Abraham Hicks.

Dain Heer gave me the childlike lightness in my living. While reading his book ‘Being You Changing the World’ my heart danced with delight, like a kindergartner. The book exactly described how my child-mind worked, before I began, fearfully trying to fit in, in society. We make too many things way more serious in life than required. His audios are a profound and phenomenal work. It basically replaced my thoughts with what would have been my original thoughts. In a language, as refreshing as it can feel to the heart and soul. Gary Douglas and Dr. Dain Heer, founders of Access Consciousness, you helped change my life back to my true self!

When I stumbled upon the recordings of Abraham Hicks accidentally, I felt like she knew exactly how I feel and how I wonder and imagine in my innocent phases, about how this Universe functions. She spoke the Truths from the depths of my being and helped me see why I suffered. She described the exact ways that I had implemented intuitively to fulfill any of my desires and the exact ways I perceive life. What an affirmation! I may easily have 1000s of hours of Abraham in me …OK, that is an exaggeration, but I mean it.

My Yoga teachers/mentors, a longish list from India and US, the audio teachers and authors are an integral part of my Being. I am in deepest gratitude for each of these teachers that appeared for me at exact times that I was ready for them.

When you awaken to your own thoughts and their influence, you find access to the space beyond thought, from where true beauty & joy of living emerges!

Don’t trust yourself too much, if your own company is not being helpful to you. Seek out a book, audio, mentor, teacher for a good Thought Replacement Therapy. I found my trust in myself through them.

I am deeply grateful to those in turn who have used my writings and/or sessions with me to replace their thoughts, successfully creating change in life. I take immense joy in facilitating the journey of awakening, that I have chosen for myself too.

 

Yoga – My Work & Life