Can’t we all just agree to go high?

In recent months Michelle Obama suggested to the world that when someone goes low that we must go high, and with that I could not possibly agree more. And I’d like to take it one step further, let’s just all agree to always go high. You might be thinking to yourself, “Wow, these folks at the Playful Yogi really like to repeat themselves,” but wait! That isn’t it at all; it’s just that no matter how many times we try to point out that ahimsa, non-harming, is the first rule, the rule to govern all other rules, somewhere, someone does something and then it becomes more than worth repeating, being rather necessary to do so, in fact. And so, here we go again…

We must stop hurting one another because we are all connected, what happens to one happens to us all and we need to start reminding ourselves of that before we initiate or ballooningreact with harm. The effects to ourselves of the harm which we perpetrate on others, whether in the form of micro- or macro-aggressions, may not be noticeable immediately upon thinking, saying or acting, but it will come full circle. We recently mentioned that in Yoga and its sister science Ayurveda the belief is that like increases like, meaning that when we have harmful thoughts, use harmful words or perpetrate harmful acts, we invite back the opportunity to receive the same. In other words, when we’re grumpy we tend to be met with grumpiness in return, but when we’re happy towards others we tend to have better lives – see what I did there.

So, let’s do it, let’s all just agree to be nice in our thoughts, words and actions, let’s all just agree to go high! And here’s how we start: step 1) do something nice for someone else, steps 2 – 100) repeat step 1). It is so simple, why didn’t we think of it before? Let me give you an example, I am a graduate student and in my class the other day we had a few guest professors, my bag and jacket were carelessly flung over the back of the chair next to me because we have about three times as many chairs as we do students in the class. One of the guest professors looked at the chair with my junk strewn across it and I immediately began to move it. I addressed him with respect and verbally offered up the chair so that he could sit down. He declined, responding that he was happy to choose another chair and the interaction was over, or so I thought…

This interaction happened and a week later I ran into that same professor at an orientation for a group that I signed up to volunteer with, and the big news – he remembered not only the interaction, but me specifically. My offering up the seat meant so little to me that I hadn’t thought twice about it, why because it was the right thing to do so I did it. But, that tiny act of kindness meant so much to this professor that he not only remembered, but then went out of his way to bring it up in front a group of my peers, thanking me for the kindness. I went high and there was no low preceding it, let me reiterate I did it because it was the right thing to do and we all need to do the right thing more often.

Please know that we know that the impeccable Mrs. Obama was directly responding to a specific state of affairs when she first made this comment and we absolutely know that she goes high every time, or at least almost every time, no one is perfect after all. And I’m not mentioning what I did to toot my own horn, only to demonstrate that intentional acts of kindness do go a long way. Please do something nice for someone today and every day, if you see or act on an intentional act of kindness let us know, we’re hoping to create a movement here. Please make February, a month for love mind you, the month for kindness.

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Living our truest purpose

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It may seem impossible to sit quietly and reflect for an extended length of time before moving forward towards the successful completion of our goal, and therefore we’d really rather not. But, we create goals to move us down a path, and wouldn’t we be best served by following the right path the first time – or at the very least, this time? Unfortunately, the path we envision for ourselves is typically one foraged by ego.

Our ego mind is our conscious thought, coming from a place of assurance of safety and security and as a result of our perception of the “truth.” The bummer news is that our ego mind is most likely wrong. Ugh, how could our mind’s desire be wrong? Well, it all comes down to dharma.

Dharma, can be looked at from several different aspects of understanding, but for the sake of today’s chat we’re referring to dharma as purpose in the eyes of the divine. I believe that in order to live our truest purpose we must recognize that there is a grand-design. Let me reaffirm that we at the Playful Yogi believe strongly that there is no one Universal truth; in fact, we believe in the adage, to each their own.

That said, whatever it looks like to you, we agree that something Universal does truly exist. And, we are born with a fundamental purpose; the fundamental purpose is one we all share, to live our lives with the intention of creating a better reality. We each have an individual path however and that path is designed to help us be our best selves.

The Universe wants us to live up to and out our highest potential, but sometimes contrary to our dharma we instead live up to our ego-mind’s expectations. If we’re patient and we sit quietly and truly listen, if we truly do the work to understand our honest heart’s desire we will be our best selves. Please listen and find your truest happiness, that’s what we wish for you.

We are our own worst enemy, until we’re not.

We’re nearly a full week into the new year and The Playful Yogi is back, and running at full capacity. We hope that you had the best holiday(s) this year, whatever form the end-of-year holiday takes on for you, and now we hope that you, like us, are ready to delve head first into 2017. There are a variety of ways and opportunities to welcome in this annual change of calendar, and last month we started our conversation about one of them: the idea of resolution and how transformation falls flat if at first, we don’t do the work to better understand the root-cause of the barrier to our general happiness.

Whoa, that feels heavy, even to me. But, it makes sense, doesn’t it? Yoga and Ayurveda – the sister science to Yoga – are built on the principle that like increases like, so as we attempt to create and cultivate the different things we want for ourselves, we’re going to be at a deficit in doing so if our samskaras, habits/patterns, aren’t already broken and re-etched in the positive. That isn’t to say that change can’t be forced, it certainly can, but forced change isn’t truly transformative and so we fall prey to the samskaras of our past when we once again encounter our triggers. These triggers are those innocuous events, words, etc., which because we perceive said events, words, etc., to be combative our response is to regress after change, meaning that even if we were successful in meeting our annual goal, we’re only successful until we’re not. And, far more frequently, not is exactly what we ultimately get.

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That’s why, when last we met, we discussed the idea of sitting quietly with our inner being and making friends with those things that no longer serve us, but where do we go from there? Sankalpa, desire/definitive intention, is the next step and it begins by sitting quietly to listen… It may seem a bit frustrating at first: sitting with the barrier to our happiness, listening to why it is and how it became a part of us and then sitting to become friends with it in order to set it free; only to sit again (sigh!)  in an attempt to truly reflect on exactly what our root-desire is. But, if transformation takes work, then work we must do and all work begins with study, or in this case self-study, svadhyaya. We can’t study our desires by reading a book, listening to teachers, or even necessarily through experience because 1) likely, no one has written a book about us, 2) no one is a better subject-matter expert on ourselves than we are and 3) unless we are a supremely aware being, our ego is typically the maker of our experience and thus no help in the process of deeper learning.

So, we reflect, we listen and we get to know we, us – you know what I mean. Once we’ve learned our true heart’s desire then we can create a sankalpa, a short, affirmative, present-tense phrase to help us make the choices which will send us further along the path toward our purpose. In my research on sankalpa, I’ve read several articles which comment that sometimes our desire can seem shallow, i.e. becoming rich and famous (these are not good sankulpas anyway generally mind you, they are not specific enough), but the longer we sit and the more closely we listen, the more likely we are to begin to reflect on the fine points of what it is that we are truly trying to manifest and why, and then we have the capacity to make the change rather than the change making us.