universal piggy bank. (karma part 2)

(or: karma can be a friend. Part 2)

Remember Melvin the mouse? The one we forcefully and woefully evicted? (Refresh yourself on what Melvin taught me about karma in the previous blog post published last week.)

Today, as promised, we are going to look at another aspect of karma: the idea of a universal piggy bank.

Melvin’s story was an example of our typical understanding of ‘bad karma.’ But the full understanding of karma in the yoga philosophy is more nuanced than that. According to the Yoga Sutras actions can be good, bad or neutral. Each type of action creates a karmic residue that sticks in your memory and your heart-mind (citta is explained in this post).

Each time you take a karma action that is selfless, compassionate, kind or forgiving the residue of that action stays with you. You create, in effect, a repository of kindness. Yoga scholar Nicolai Bachman calls it a ‘karmic bank account.’  He explains, “Each time you perform a positive action is like depositing money into your karmic bank account.  Each time you do something hurtful or negative, it is like writing a check from that back account.”

And here’s the thing: we all share a bank account. All however-billion-humans are on this little planet share this account.  When I married my Ironman last fall, we talked endlessly about the pros and cons of having a shared bank account. When it comes to karma, I think a shared bank account is absolutely wonderfully amazingly uplifting.  It means that every single time I do something kind, I’m depositing more kindness into the world. And it’s not selfish—I’m not giving you my preferred parking spot at the Plaza Library because I myself want to benefit. I’m actively adding kindness currency into the universal piggy bank and anyone can access it!  It’s like I’m giving you a debit card (not a chip card—those things are more trouble than they’re worth) so that when your funds of compassion are low, you can bank with me.

This is true because like attracts like.  Kindness attracts kindness.

Every time I consciously choose to be generous with a friend, I end up on the receiving end of generosity the next day. Even when I feel like being stingy with my money, I try ardently to avoid the pitfall of ego (and the delusion of scarcity) because I know my generosity will multiply. And it doesn’t have to be money: simply offering five minutes of listening or giving someone a ride home on a snowy day turns out to be a huge deposit in our shared karmic bank account. 

Compassionate actions are said to be motivated by selflessness. Your job as a yogi is to understand how every thought, word, action and deed can positively impact the world around you and hold yourself to the highest standard of ethical and compassionate behavior. Real-talk: even if you are in a terrible mood, don’t take it out on the first person you see. It truly doesn’t matter how much you hate your job or are annoyed by your manager, choosing kindness (no matter what) makes a deposit of kindness into the universal piggy bank. You don’t have to pretend to be happy—pretending doesn’t get you anywhere—but you put a deposit in your karmic piggy bank by choosing kind thoughts, words and actions so that all of us can benefit.

While this requires constant vigilance and mindfulness, it is absolutely worth the effort. Positive attracts positive, clean kitchens stay mouse-free, and communities are uplifted when individuals consciously choose kindness for all other living beings. With this in mind, karma can be a pretty good friend.

Happy Depositing,

-lisa

when less is actually more.

Scott started showing up to class every day at noon. I didn’t know much about him, but I could tell he had “an official 9 to 5 job” and probably should have been at work during the day time. Being the nosiest of nosey-pokers, I asked him why he was showing up to noon class every day. He said, “Ha! That’s easy. I’m a broker and I set my own hours. I’ve noticed the less I work, the happier I am.” Decreasing his working hours– taking a break in the middle of the day to re-charge– increased Scott’s happiness and quality of life.

When we think about the word ‘less,’ we are most likely to deem ‘more’ as its opposite. But that’s not entirely accurate. In so many ways, ‘less’ can actually give us ‘more.’ You see, I’ve discovered repeatedly that embracing the ‘culture of less’ directly challenges the culture of scarcity that we currently inhabit. The culture of scarcity asks us to glamorize fatigue and overwork.  The culture of scarcity requires us to hoard our resources because there isn’t enough to go around. The culture of scarcity tells us the more we buy, the better we feel. The culture of scarcity is a good liar.

‘More’ isn’t the opposite of ‘less.’ Having more is the direct outcome of spending less. It’s a direct result of giving less of our attention to a culture that bombards us with messages telling us we aren’t good enough until we own the newest model.

I’ve found time and time again I am happier when I own fewer items. I spend less time cleaning my house and more time outside enjoying God’s green Earth. I spend less money on possessions that I don’t really need and more time buying surprise gifts for friends. I spend less time over-working and more time with my Ironman and Russell Clive I spend less time stressing over how to amass more money to buy something bigger and better and more time in meditation and prayer, grateful for what I already have.  I truly believe that ‘less is more,’ and I think the Lenten time is the perfect time to practice this. Instead of asking, “What can I give up?” ask yourself, “Where can I have less in order to have more?”

When is ‘less’ actually ‘more’ for you? Maybe this class will help you find the answer…

candlelight-flow-march-1-announcement

Every year I teach this special Candlelight Vinyasa Class to help students prepare for the Lenten Season of renewal.  I’ll ask you to call to mind your deepest values and examine what is no longer serving you. I’ll ask you to question: where can I have less in order to have more?  Please join me at Westport Yoga next week: Wednesday March 1 2017 at 7:30 pm. (Regular class prices apply.) More information found here.

(This article also appears in The Daily Bread published by Community of Christ. Author’s rights reserved.)

 

registration is open: 2017 workshops

Hey you guys-
I’m in Hawaii with my parents and my Ironman enjoying  much needed Vitamin D, adventures and quiet time to refresh my soul. But I didn’t want you to miss these out on these Spring 2017 Workshops!  If you’ll remember from this post; I’m concentrating this year on teaching from a place of total integration: presenting the holistic philosophy and practices of yoga that help us find healing in mind, body and spirit.
Together in my blog, we are looking at the yoga philosophy one Sanskrit term at a time and figuring out how the teaching offers opportunities for better self-care. 
Want a re-cap? Check out these posts:
how I ended up on a picnic table (intro to the Yoga Sutras)
who are you?  (citta: heart-mind)
nowhere to go. (purusha or Atman)
So, true to my promise, here are 3 incredible workshops in Spring 2017 you’ll want to register for today… because these things sell out like, woah.
fund-of-yoga-wkshp-lowres-1
Saturday March 11, 2017
2- 5 pm  @ Maya Yoga
218 W. 18th Street, KC MO 64108
Learn the 8 tenants of the Ashtanga Yoga Philosophy as described in the Yoga Sutras and discover how they can bring more meaning to your life and your yoga practice. Deepen your awareness of how yoga can change your life from the inside out.  This workshop will include lecture, discussion, asana and meditation. Please bring a pen, a journal for notes, a water bottle and comfortable yoga clothing.  Appropriate for very basic beginners and seasoned practicioners.
Please Register Here online or pay in person @ Maya Yoga.
Session: $55 (Maya Yoga Members $40)
intro-to-meditation-march-2017-snip

Introduction to Meditation for Stress Relief

Sundays March 5, 12 +19, 2017

2-4 pm @ Westport Yoga
4304 Bell Street, Fl. 2
KC MO 64111

This 3-part series is a perfect introduction to Meditation. We will explore the modern-day benefits of meditation and how you can integrate the practice into your life to relieve stress.

In each session, Lisa Ash Drackert will teach Meditation techniques which cultivate attention, deepen focus and embrace stillness. You’ll have the opportunity to practice meditation in an encouraging group setting and engage in conversation with classmates. You will also learn breathing techniques that trigger the relaxation response in your brain and body.  The course includes a take-home manual for future reference and suggestions on how to successfully plan your at-home meditation practice.

One registration includes all three sessions.

(Limit 18 students. There are no refunds for this workshop.)

 

“Yoga for Pain Relief”
yoga-for-pain-relief-2017-pic
Saturday April 29, 2017
2-4 pm @ Westport Yoga
4304 Bell Street, Fl. 2
KC MO 64111

Stress often manifests as pain in our physical body. Coupled with injuries and repetitive movements, our bodies feel fatigued and sore. In this workshop, you will learn therapeutic poses, breathing techniques and meditation mantras to relieve your pain and suffering. Poses will specialize in healing the most common painful areas: neck, spine, shoulders and hips. You’ll leave the class feeling restored and empowered to continue your self healing.

(All levels welcome. No prior yoga experience required. Physicians approval may be required if you have recently undergone surgery. Please contact Lisa if you have an acute spinal injury such as slipped disc, bulging disc, spondylolisthesis, etc.)

we had a mouse in our house. (karma part 1)

(or: karma can be a friend, Part 1)

We had a mouse in our house. Let me be more specific: we had a mouse named Melvin living in our kitchen. And then, Melvin got into the engine of our fridge and we no longer had a cute mouse hanging out in our kitchen. We had a horrendous smelling cadaver requiring immediate removal and proper burial.

Melvin (may he rest in peace) taught me a lesson about karma. In the Yoga Sutras, karma is defined as ‘any action or activity that produces a result.’ Most of us think karma is inherently bad: an undesirable force of retribution. Thanks to ubiquitous screen printed cutoff t-shirts, we all know the slogan “karma’s a b*tch.” But, um… it can actually be your friend. Because karma is such a loaded Sanskrit and yogic concept, we will examine it over the next few blog posts.  This is Part 1.     

Every karma (action) has a consequence. This consequence can be the standard, expected, rational outcome of the action. It can be immediate or delayed. It can be personal or communal. It can be intended or unintended. Karmic actions always produce karmic results.

Say, theoretically, I felt lazy one day. I left crumbs on the counter, dog food sitting out in Russell Clive’s breakfast bowl and the back door open while I was hanging out on the back deck. No Big Deal. But the consequence was that a mouse took up residence in my house. And then, much to my chagrin, those seemingly insignificant actions were now a Deal. Now I had a mouse living in my kitchen who had to be evicted… a process that didn’t well for the Melvin.

The unintended karmic consequence of my irresponsible karmic action was that I inflicted harm on another sentient being. I broke the guiding ethical principle of yogic living, ahimsa, or non-harming.

This fiasco could have been avoided if I had cleaned my kitchen.

What Melvin taught me about karma was that I need to be extremely mindful of my all my actions—even if I think they are ‘neutral actions’ which are not taken to directly benefit myself or to harm/benefit others. 

My lazy actions were examples of unconscious habits (samskaras). The Yoga Sutras tell us that most of our actions and words are executed unconsciously because they are directed by our past conditioning, insecurities and deeply ingrained habits. Even so, they still have residual consequences. These types of actions may not necessarily be overtly selfish, but they are still driven by the ego concerned with ‘me,’ ‘mine’ and ‘what I want to do.’

Meditation is an opportunity to reflect on past behaviors that caused indirectly harm and re-direct them into a new light of understanding. As we strive for understanding, empathy and forgiveness in our own hearts, we clean up bad habits and heal past wounds so we can act mindfully in the world. This is difficult but rewarding work. And, as Melvin would tell you: cleaning up your own kitchen prevents you from harming anyone or anything else, even inadvertently.  That’s why meditation is so powerful: it gives you space to become mindful of your thoughts, words and actions. This mindful clean-up is imperative for your life to move forward with ease– otherwise you’ll make the same mistakes again and again.  And of course, cleaning your own mind is the first step to cleaning up the world.

Happy Cleaning,

-lisa