extra grateful: a new 1:5 gratitude challenge.

Here’s a new Gratitude Challenge for you: 1:5. In the traditional 30 days of gratitude approach, our list often becomes stagnant, rote and trivial by the end of the month. We start listing things that are fun, fast and easy, instead of listing things that truly bring us back to our Highest Self and the practice of Gratitude.

So, a shift on an old theme: 1:5. Name ONE thing you are EXTRA grateful for and 5 people who make it possible. As we know, writing an acknowledgements page is good for the soul: in the end, we cannot take ANY of this stuff with us, but our relationships and the people we love leave an impression on our Soul.

For example:

This year I’m extra grateful to be the Owner and Curriculum Director of Westport Yoga KC. It’s not an easy job, but it’s worth it because I get to share generously the teachings of yoga and meditation with willing and beautiful Souls every day. I have 5 incredible teachers who teach at Westport Yoga KC and make my dream possible: Thank you Maris, Amie, Sedona, Jesse and Kelly. (Of course, it’s really my STUDENTS who make it possible… but I’m sticking with the above Fantastic 5.)

This year I’m extra grateful that I am HEALTHY! Severe allergies, sinus issues, skin rashes and energy imbalances seemed to be the norm for most of my life and this year I am HEALTHY! It’s feels like a miracle; a big shout out goes to my ‘health squad’: my nutritionist, my acupuncturist, my Yoga Medicine teacher and my best friend Russell Clive who gets me out on walks daily. (And also my Ironman who buys a vanload of vegetables every Monday at Costco so our crock-pot is continuously full of soup. (See.. limiting it to 5 people is actually a bit difficult…)

Name 5 specific things you are EXTRA grateful for and the 5 people who make it possible.

Take a minute to thank some of these people who make your life happier, healthier and more whole.

The practice of Gratitude is just that: it is something we practice. Gratitude is the key to living a wholehearted life; it is the key to living in the Present Moment and learning to see the Divine in all the little moments we tend to overlook.

A Guided Meditation during which we consciously name, reflect on and appreciate specific blessings in our life reminds us that the only reasonable response to being alive is that of Gratitude. As always, I’ll be teaching a Full Guided Gratitude Meditation at Westport Yoga KC this month.

Please check our website for current dates of Donation Yoga Classes supporting Rose Brooks Center, which helps women and children in Kansas City re-build sustainable lives after leaving unsafe households.

Westport Yoga KC

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

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

special event: February 18. candlelight flow vinyasa class.

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candlelightflow class feb 18Join us for a SPECIAL CLASS to welcome the Lenten Season and celebrate Ash Wednesday (pun intended)  at Westport Yoga KC.

Candlelight Flow Vinyasa Class
Wednesday February 18, 2015
7:30 pm at Westport Yoga KC

(All Levels Welcome.  Regular Class Prices Apply.)

The Lenten Season is a time to welcome change and renewal into your life.  This Special “New Moon Candlelight Flow” Vinyasa Class is designed to bring you into a state of deep meditation through movement.  All Levels and All Ages of yogis are welcome to practice with us.   Not sure what ‘Vinyasa Flow’ is?  Learn more here.

Westport Yoga KC
4304 Bell Street, Fl 2
Kansas City, MO 64111

 

candlelightflow class feb 18