As I was walking down the beach yesterday I realized that I have found the secret to a happy life. Are you ready?! Just decide what you want and achieve it. Wow! Earth shattering news! Haha.
I have designed my life in such a way that I am happy so often that I can’t remember the last time I had a bad day. The only key I have figured out is that I decided what I want in life and I made it happen, there was no luck or secret formula or special circumstance – it was all purely making a decision. So tonight I was studying “The Sivananda Companion to Yoga” by Swami Vishnu Devananda and came across this verse:
“If you can bring your mind and thoughts under control, there is literally no limit to what you can do – since it is only our own illusions and preconceptions that hold us back and prevent us from fulfilling ourselves.”
He stated my “secret” in a much more profound way! It was just one of those serendipitous moments where life synced up and what I was just thinking a day before appeared in the book I was reading today. This brings us back to a common theme on The Spiritual GPS – what are your limiting beliefs? What are your illusions and preconceptions that are holding you back from the life of your dreams?
I am living at a yoga ashram for the next seven weeks and have found myself less disciplined than ever when it comes to online work that I need to do in the social media world. I have become immersed in my own self development and doing whatever makes me happy instead of focusing on responsibilities. I suppose that is what coming to an ashram is supposed to make you do! Whenever I come here it always makes me feel selfish that I am not giving back to the world. Coming here recharges my battery though, it makes it so I can better serve my clients and students. I think that is because there is an emphasis on living a yogic lifestyle that brings your body back into balance and gets rid of a lot of unnecessary distractions.
In the Sivananda lineage of yoga they teach that there are five points of yoga. Proper breathing, proper nutrition, proper exercise, proper relaxation, positive thinking and meditation are the five components you need to function at your prime.
If you had to create a pie chart with these five elements, what would your chart look like? How do you balance your five points? What do you need to focus on more? Is there anything you should focus on less?
Try it out by drawing a circle and thinking about your lifestyle and the amount of energy/time you spend on each of the five points. If everything was in balance it should take up twenty percent of the pie chart and you can take it from there. If your nutrition is completely balanced then it should take up 20%. If you don’t pay attention to it at all then it would be missing from the chart. Watching TV or listening to music generally doesn’t count as relaxing because your mind is still active. How often do you completely relax without any distraction at all? Even if you don’t make a chart just reflect on how to incorporate these five components into your lifestyle and how it would improve your life.
There are four different paths of yoga. Karma yoga, jnana yoga, raja yoga, and bhakti yoga are all different spiritual paths to help attain enlightenment. When the four paths are combined they call it “the yoga of synthesis”. While living at the ashram we do the yoga of synthesis but the main focus for most people is karma yoga.
Karma yoga is great for an active temperament and is purely translated to selfless service. Most people are here as volunteers looking to focus on their spiritual path and become more disciplined. The routine here is scheduled from 6am-10pm every day so it is wonderful for people that are not used to discipline. Having the ashram schedule ensures that you will go to at least one 2-hour yoga class a day with pranayama, asana, and guided relaxation, you will meditate and chant twice a day, attend at least two lectures, and volunteer. I am a true believer that there is magic in your daily routine and this ashram has it perfected in their own way.
Take a look at your daily schedule for the week. How can you integrate a set discipline that will help you accomplish more and get you closer to your own personal goals whether spiritual or otherwise? Schedule in your non-variables first. The time you have to go to work, meetings, and set obligations. Then see how you can schedule your more flexible items like meditating, working out, yoga, reading, etc. Try to find a set routine that helps you find the balance in life. Keep trying new methods until you find what works.
I got to the ashram in the Bahamas last night and it is quite the culture shock. Last week I was running a retreat in Nicaragua that was all about adventure and we had so much fun together and really created some special bonds. Now that I am in the ashram it may be a group environment and community but you can really feel that everyone is on their own path here and in their own little world.
So I thought today would be a good time to just reflect on your own social life and how it distracts you from your goals and personal development. I definitely think you need both and it is difficult to find the balance. I know I often find myself in one mode or the other. I am either focused only on helping others or I am focused on my own self development. I also definitely get distracted by not only social gatherings but social media. I catch myself going online to research something and ending up on facebook for way too long. Are you stuck in the daily grind of all your obligations? Do you give yourself any set quiet time to just be? I always say have a practice of “littleties”. Fifteen minutes of yoga a day is better than a one hour class a week. How can you create a practice of a little introversion and self reflection each day? Hopefully this blog will help!
The last “Trailblazers” post! I will be traveling from Nicaragua to the Bahamas this weekend so this should be something to reflect on today and tomorrow.
“May you risk. May you explore. May you leap even if there isn’t a net. May you shine.”
If you have been following the blog all week and taken some time to reflect on the different topics then you should have improved your self-esteem and belief in yourself. Now it is time to really apply it.
What do you want to accomplish? Where do you want to go? Who do you want to be? It is time to take risks, explore, and enjoy the process. In the end everything always works out okay even if it doesn’t work out. Take the risk and trust that there is no wrong decision.
Almost done with breaking down the manifesto! “May you praise yourself and may you remain humble.” Now that is a tricky one!
I feel like most people either do one or the other and it is difficult to find the balance. In my life I don’t really praise myself, I do acknowledge my accomplishments and am praised by others so both are more of an internal “praise”. The thought of praising myself outwardly doesn’t feel humble to me, it feels cocky.
I think when people begin to praise themselves outwardly to others the ego gets involved and it feels a little like boasting which definitely isn’t humble. This one reminds me of satya and brahmacharya in the yamas of yoga. Be truthful about your accomplishments and positive attributes but there is no need to be excessive. You need to believe in yourself and realize how amazing you are without letting your ego take over. Do you feel like you do one more than the other? Do you praise yourself? Try writing down what you have accomplished in the past five years. It can be pretty eye opening.
“May you stop comparing yourself to others and start celebrating the you right here, right now.”
Easier said than done! Well, you just have to put your mind to it. We often compare ourselves to everyone around us from our siblings to our friends to someone higher up the ladder at work. I believe that everyone is so unique that comparing ourselves to others is like comparing apples to oranges. They may both be fruit but are totally different and although we are all human beings we are all uniquely different and should appreciate the beauty in that. So instead of focusing on others focus on what makes you uniquely you! What can you bring to the world that nobody else can?
Day Three! “May you let go of any negativity or criticism that comes your way.” We all know this is easier said than done. In my experience the people closest to us are the most critical and doubtful where acquaintances always seem to be positive and supportive. I think this is part of the reason it is so difficult to let go of criticism is that it comes from people we love. Once again this brings us back to believing in ourselves. Know yourself so well that criticism feels like a lie that you couldn’t possibly believe. It may be helpful to think about a piece of criticism that has bothered you in the past and reflect on why. Then make a list of all the reasons it is not true and let it go, stop holding on to it. The more you believe in yourself, the more criticism just doesn’t matter. Let your light shine bright and follow your heart. Ignore the naysayers.
We are on part two of the manifesto today! Hopefully yesterday helped you strengthen your belief in yourself. This entire manifesto follows in that theme. Today we are going to focus on “May you rise to the challenge. And then rise again. May you be courageous.” It is pretty hard to be courageous if you don’t believe in yourself so hopefully yesterdays reflection time will help you with today.
Is there a challenge in your life you need to tackle? Tired of procrastinating? Maybe it is just something on your bucket list you have always wanted to do or maybe you want to move to a new place or quit your job or volunteer but there is something holding you back. Today is the day! Be courageous and rise to the challenge. Figure out what is holding you back, I have a feeling it is more mental than actual.
So many beliefs we have aren’t even true. Question what is holding you back. Imagine a complete stranger was telling you their story about this and how you would encourage them to take a step forward, talk to yourself the same way. Take massive action on one challenge in your life today. Approach it with an open mind, be curious, be hopeful, and make it happen.