Motorcycle Yogi May Be Back On The Road

So, part of my life outside of yoga is to teach motorcycle safety courses.  I end traveling all over Texas, and generally miss my family while I enjoy teaching people how to do what I love.

Last night, my boss drove down from Dallas to San Antonio to come talk to us about what needs to happen and how its gonna work.  So, on top of teaching at the Shriner Auditorium, I’ll be on the road again a couple of times a months to teach motorcycle safety in other towns.

This weekend’s destination – Midland, Texas!  I get to work with a company-renowned pain in the ass, and was offered the choice to work there on alternating weekends, so after this one time, I don’t have to work with him again!

I like to think that I am a pretty decent RiderCoach, with a good background with working with difficult folk, so I shouldn’t flip out.

This is a mixed bag.  On top of a fatter paycheck for going, I have the dubious comfort of staying at my deceased grandmother’s house. 

How I do is another story, but I will have to face up to the lingering issues concerning my grandmother on top of being professional.

So, on that note…

How to Purge Ghosts and Restore Intuition (a meditation with visualization)

In Easy Pose, raise your arms with palms facing each other and begin moving them together in a figure-eight pattern.  Your torso may rock some with this, but don’t let it be distracting.  Close your eyes and focus on your third eye point.  Allow the darkness behind your eyes to begin isolating yourself from your body, and find the dazzling white light.  Let it raise you up out of yourself.  (up to eleven minutes)

Visualize after you enter the light a vast desert, hot and beautiful.  As you traverse this desert in the air, allow the clinging pains of nagging doubts and regrets fall off into the wastes.  Let the heat purge you and make your pure.  (up to 15 minutes)

Now raise your arms to vertical, keeping the same motion.  In your visualization, let yourself fly up, over the clouds, into the blazing sunshine.  Let the last of the pains, guilts, and sorrows melt off of you.  If you feel the need to cry, let the pain out as you cry, to be purified and cleansed by the sun.  When you are pure and light, descend into a blissful rainforest, lush and full of life.  Let the scents of life fill your spirit as the cool rainforest soothes your purified soul. (up to eleven minutes)

Inhale deeply, and spread your arms wide.  Exhale.  Repeat.

Now see  yourself in the mountains after the snowfall.  Everything is pure and bright.  take in the purity of the fresh snow and allow to bring your soul’s purity to the light. (up to fifteen minutes)

Spread your arms wide again.  Inhale, and exhale.

Bring your hands to your lap, right over left.  Using a gong or recorded gong, allow the vibrations to penetrate as you review your school days, bringing back your most creative energies as you touch on your days from kindergarted, first grade, until you reach your senior year.    Let your incoporeal self absorb it all, until you are filled with your own creative energies.

Bring yourself back to your body.  Open your mouth and breathe through it, without your teeth touching. (3 minutes)

Begin breathing through your nose, inhaling and exhaling as slow as you can.  Let the purity, creativity, and sense of self merge back into your physical being, and reach out with your soul to God.  Bathe in the light of God, the love of God, the sense that God is with you. (3 minutes)

Praise God with heart and song.  If you would prefer, play Rakhe Rakhanhaar and try to follow the mantra.  (six minutes)

Deep breath in, pull all three body locks.  Exhale, and relax.

 

 

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Death, Life, and Walking the Line

My grandmother passed on February 14th, 2012.  She was 95.  She died of uterine cancer, one that she had chosen about three years ago to not treat but to allow to run its course because she was not at a point where she was willing to trade the misery of chemo for a few more years.

Over the last few years, I’ve watched her go from a vibrant woman to a shut-in invalid who was waiting for death.  In the end, with hallucinations, confusion, and lots of tears, she lost consciousness on February 11th and never regained it. 

Last week was hard for me.  As a spiritual person, I turned to my faith in God, my connection to the Divine, capoeira, yoga… and promptly chucked it for a beer, smokes, and eating badly. 

Granted, this woman was a part of my life since I was born.  Her home was my sole refuge for nearly 20 years, and for many of my cousins, it was sanctuary.  Sanctuary meant that when the dogs bite, the bees sting, and the rest of the world turns their back, I always had a warm bed, a plate of hot food, and someone who would be there for me no matter what.

When I said ” F*** this” to my college life and ran for the hills and mountains of Colorado, my one stop on my mad flight away from the shambles of my life was my grandmother’s house.  She gave me $50  (and she was living on $286 from Social Security), a bag of burritos, and a plea to stay there.  Maybe I should have, but I was insistent that I had to go to Colorado.  She gave me a hug and told me that I was always welcome at her house.

Who else gives unconditional love like that? 

Yes, I fell apart.  My carefully constructed life of balace, harmony, and easy acceptance of my relationship with God and my eternal soul promptly fell apart like a sand sculpture before the ocean – instead of peace, all I had was an aching emptiness inside where a person’s life once comforted me.  Nothing felt more like a lie than trying to go through a sun salute with this hole blown through the middle of my life, not to mention eating healthy.  It was easier to smoke a cigarette and drink a beer to take the edge off then it was to accept the pain and move on.

A week afterwards, I have since carried her to her final resting place, and cried with my cousins, eaten so much greasy road food that I gained three pounds, and smoked an entire pack of cigarettes.  Self-destructive behavior was oddly pleasurable, as though each bite of greasy food, each drag on a coffin nail, each swallow of beer hurt and let go of a little bit of the horribly relentless pain, that hurt that nothing can ease… and each day I did it again.

This morning I finally was able to calm down enough to meditate, to turn my focus from my pain and try to reconnect with my soul and with God.  I didn’t follow a specified meditation, I just closed my eyes in the bath and followed the path to my soul and God.  Instead of regimented discipline,  I just floated in that peace for a moment, feeling a gold light surround me.  It was peaceful, and for the first time, I was at peace with my grandmother’s death.  She’s at peace, a more profound peace than I will ever find, no matter how much I meditate, no matter what yoga set I do.

Yogi Bhajan said that there are levels of afterlife.  Simplistically (relatively), it goes  like this:
1.  30 seconds before you die, you see your life flash before you.
2.  20 seconds before you die, you judge yourself.
3.  10 seconds before you die, you take your last breath and then die.
As you die, you enter a cylinder (the white light of Near Death Experiences) and you pass to a place to choose where to go – to the left and heat or or to the right and cold.  Yogi Bhajan says to go to the cold and not the hot part.  From there, you hang in Earth’s electromagnetic field for 17 days before you enter the blue ethers and go on to the next life, or stay in heaven.  Occasionally, some people just skip that and fly right through to the ethers, according to YB.

I personally think we simply go to God, and ask to stay there or occasionally ask to return.  Some souls seek to find heaven, others seek to wander because they have to see.

Back to my grandmother – I can feel, in my heart and in the core of my soul that she is with God, in the realm of pearly gates, streets of gold and precious stones, and where all is fulfilled.  She lived a hard life and made hard choices in the name of protecting, raising, and maintaining her family.  In the end, when she died, I am sure she cast aside her body, which must have been like shedding dirty, rank clothing and being free.

Yoda said, “Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter.”

The night I left West Texas to go home, I stopped to eat on the road and looked at the stars… they were so bright and seemed like there were billions and billions of them.  I kept looking at them and wondering where the boundary between physical and spiritaul was, and how many people sat at that boundary, watching the people who go by.  Loved ones watching us and wondering if they loved us enough, held us enough, or otherwise did enough while they were here.  I know I wonder if I told her I loved her enough times, hugged her enough.

On a show that I follow on Netflix, one of the principal characters lost his dad.  He was sitting with his brothers as they shared profound statements that were the last words their father had said to him, and his last words were that “Crocodile Dundee 3 was worth watching, and it totally holds up.”  instead of revealing that his dad pocket dialed him and saying he loved his son.

My last words with my grandmother were when she hugged me, and said a blessing for me as I traveled home.  I kissed her forehead and told her that I loved her.  that was the last time I saw her, smiling and happy for me and my family. 

I love my grandmother and miss her dearly. Today I was able to reconnect with my soul and with God again.  It still hurts, and it will hurt for a long time.  No more beer, or smokes, or bad eating.  I’m done with my streak of self-destruction, and ready to move on.

In the path of my life, this is yet another stretch where there were only one set of footprints, although I think I’m ready to start walking on my own again.

Motorcycle Yoga Set – Mastering Your Domain

As a biker yogi (Jeez, its been this long and I still snicker at that) I have to feel like I am dialed into the world around me, moreso now that people drive like lunatics entitled to the road in front of them. So, this set is designed (and modified) from a kundalini yoga set that I ran across that gives the yogi(ni) mastery of their domain.

By stimulating the glandular and deep circulatory system, this set helps release tension and refreshes the body and mind, boosting clear thinking and responses, thus assisting in mastering the self and therefore your domain.

The standard warnings apply – don’t do something if it hurts.  Don’t continue if you feel lightheaded or offbalance.  Don’t fall off your bike.  Don’t make your bike fall on you.  Don’t do this if it contraindicates something your doctor says.  Don’t do this on someone else’s bike without permission, and lastly, don’t blame me if something happens – no one told you to do this yoga set.  You are your own beautiful, wonderful person and capable of making your own decisions, which includes choosing to do this and understanding if something happens, it is all on you!

So, that being said, if you choose to continue:

1. Feet on pegs, lie back. Curl your toes toward the sky. Make a circle with your mouth and begin Breath of Fire.
Now, keeping BOF rhythm, lift one foot off the peg, straighten, and lift up til its 90 degrees in relation to your body. set it down. Lift the other leg in the same manner. Alternate legs for five minutes.

Take a deep breath in, sit up, and extend your legs straight out. Release slowly and lie back, continuing BOF and leg raises for another two minutes.

2. Shift your feet to the back pegs, and put your hands on the tank or handlebars. Begin BOF again and alternate extending legs back and up (take care not to hit lights or saddlebags) and back to you. Move at a fairly rapid clip for four minutes.
Now, from there, begin lifting a hand with your leg as you continue BOF. Right hand, left leg. Left hand, right leg. Keep your abs engaged to maintain balance and continue for two minutes.

3. Move feet back to your normal pegs. Place hands at saddle and stand, and lift your butt up until your legs are straight. Bring your butt down until it touches the seat, and extend again. Do this 52 times.

4. Sit in your saddle, feet off pegs and sit in Easy Pose. back straight and arms straight, lift your arms to 60 degrees, palms facing each other. Inhale and lift to 90 degrees, then exhale back to 60 degree position. continue for five minutes while completing a breath every two seconds.

5. In Easy Pose, hand on knees and back straight, with long deep breathing for five minutes.

6. Set feet back on pegs, and recline in a modified corpse pose for 11 minutes.

Being In the Moment

At the moment, I am finding myself with a lot of  ‘free time.’  You know, that time when you’re not working and at home.  I don’t know why they call it free time, because it’s not free.  I’m working on laundry, keeping the three-dog-pack in line with a Shih Tzu,  a pit bull, and a Chihuahua all trying to get along, plus one child who’s not old enough for school, one in elementary school, and one in middle school.

Between getting them to school, picking them up, taking care of groceries, other stuff… what free time do I have?  I wonder what others think (like my dad) who constantly wonders why the house isn’t as clean as his (he’s retired and Mom is too, so they just clean, go out, and think that because their house is clean, mine should be too) and if I’m wasting time with yoga and the occasional blog.  Sometimes, I wonder, too.

Then I point out that I did my floors myself (Friends helped, but it was done on our own time and with no cash exchanged) and that most of the renovations are done on my own, without help from a professional.  I’m no handyman, but I don’t suck at this stuff, so its not bad.

But one thing that I miss about doing these things is to see the progress as I work, watching it take shape moment by moment.  Its like working with a pet – animals don’t plan for two days later, no scheming and plotting.  They take life one moment at a time.  Just like putting one nail in at a time, one board up at a time… you have to take your time and do each step with the focus it requires.

I think that the ‘real world’  as we think of it did a real disservice when it divided time into discrete moments, seconds, hours and days.  A moment has been conflated with a second, and the time that would be spent doing something mindfully has been parsed into how many ticks from an artificial meter it takes to ‘get through’ something.  Get through something… who’s bright idea was it that if we rush through what we do, maybe we can do a hundred half-ass things instead of ten or fifteen things done well.  Since when did Time become our Master?  Maybe instead of worshipping money, or power, we have wound up worshipping the clock.  The clock dictates when we get up, when we eat, when we show up for work and go home…

This is why I have given up wearing a watch.

So, in the spirit of things, I would ask you to try living without your watch.  Use your phone, something you can put away  Just check, and put it away.  Until recently, pocketwatches were the style.  I think it was better that way.  Today’s obsession with time is just unhealthy.  The seconds are just markers – there is no inherent value in them.  The value is in the moment – the sunrise you got to see on your way to work – the first blush of night when the sky is that perfect shade of midnight blue with the moon and one star out…

A second is not a moment.  A moment is timeless.  For just an instant.  Or forever.

Restarting this old thing

In my wanderings since my last update, I’d like to share that a few things have happened. The place that I taught yoga at had a minor shakeup, some people wandered off to handle their thing, and I went back to my life. This session of teaching, it seemed, was done.

And then I reconnected with someone who told me something incredible: someone needed me. Not as a friend, although I’d like to consider her one. Not as any other role than the one I feel the calling for: a teacher.

The call has come, and I am answering it again. Today starts a new role of teaching, and I will be holding courses again. This time, in my space.

For anyone following this, I will leave this for you (Jan, this means you! LOL)

Meditation – Zero Point Meditation
Yoga Set – Strong as Steel

Today’s meditation will deal with accessing Shunia, or the Zero Point – the part where our temporal self connects with our higher soul.

Zero Point Meditation – four parts (15 minutes):
Part 1 (10 minutes)
Sit in Easy Pose, hands on your knees. Touch thumb to index finger and exert a little pressure. Stick your tongue out. Eyes should be shut and directed toward your third eye center. Long deep breathing, and mentally vibrate Sat Nam (long Sat on inhale, long Nam on exhale). Don’t forger, “sat’ rhymes with ‘mutt’ and ‘nam’ rhymes with ‘mom.’

Part 2 (five minutes)
pull your elbows in and lift your hands about level with your shoulders, near your face. Touch your thumb to the pad just below your pinky finger on each hand. Discontinue your mental chant, but maintain your focus behind closed lid at your third eye and continue your long deep breathing.

Part 3 (three minutes)
Dance! select something spiritually uplifting and dance/sway to it, letting the music dictate your motion while the harmony of the music dials you into the harmony between you and you higher self.

Part 4 (2 minutes)
Come to easy pose again, and put your hands in prayer position. Lift over your head and arch as if your hands were lightning rods seeking to draw lightning from heaven.

Now, inhale, draw your locks and pull the energy up your spine. Exhale. Do this three times total.

Strong as Steel (Please listen to your body – if it hurts or contraindicates anything your doctor says, don’t do it!)

1. Lie on your back, hands by hip. Lift left leg 60 up, and 60 degrees out, in an arc pattern. Set back down on the ground in same motion. Breathe in on lift up, out as leg comes down. 3 minutes.

2. Do the same with the right leg. 3 minutes.

3. Lift both legs up and down at the same time. Start with ankles together, end with legs up and out at the same 60 degree angle. Same breathing pattern. Two minutes.

4. Lie down – long deep breathing for 4 minutes.

5. Lie on back, stretching arms up and interlocking fingers. inhale, and sit up, reaching forward to touch toes. Exhale and lie back. 2 minutes 30 seconds)

6. come into Downward Dog. inhale in usual position, then exhale and push backwards with your arms and shoulder, attempting to put head to floor. inhale back into regular position. Feet remain stationary. 2 minutes.

7. come to half-wheel pose (backbend). If you cannot, then put hands flat to floor and lift hips. Begin breath of fire. 1 minute 30 seconds.

8. Lie on your back and flutter kick – vertical and horizontal. 2 minutes.

9. Lie on your back. Inhale and roll over to lie on your stomach. Exhale and roll back onto your back. Continue. 1 minute 30 seconds.

10. From your back, bring knees to chest and grip toes. Extend legs up while gripping toes. bring knees back to chest while holding toes. 2 minutes.

11. Lie in Child Pose with palms upward. Lift buttt until legs make a 90 degree angle. Relax back into Child’s Pose. 3 minutes.

12. Sit in Easy Pose. Extend arms straight out, and lift one at time from straight out to 45 degrees upward. Return upward up to straight out as the other rises up. 2 minutes.

13. Extend your legs, and reach out to touch your toes. With back straight, go forward, then sit back up without letting go. This pose accesses the physical anger memory sites, so use it to purge the memories recorded in your muscles. 1 minute 30 seconds.

14. IN same pose, arch back and pull on your toes slightly. Pump navel as fast as possible. 1 minute

15. sit in easy pose, one hand in the other, and breathe. 3 minutes.

Now, lie back in Savasana and let your mind integrate. 12 minutes.

Following Your Bliss

This conversation started as I was riding into work one day.  My wife and I were sharing a conversation about a show called Dharma and Greg, a sitcom concerning a lawyer and a bohemian hippie girl’s marriage to each other and their struggles reconciling his upper-class values with her hippie values. 

At one point, Greg has struck out, hung his own shingle, and is starting to feel the stress of being on his own.  He said something profound, but it only makes sense if you reverse the order of his two sentences:

You know, when somebody says follow your bliss it sounds like it’s gonna be a lot of fun. And that’s what’s scary ’cause it’s a lot harder to create your own path than to follow one that’s been laid out for you.

It’s true.  Following your bliss is always simpler said than done.  It’s easier to walk a trail someone else blazed than it is to blaze your own.  Its hard, scary, and you don’t get to blame anyone else for the pitfalls you encounter.  Nothing is easy about following your bliss, except the knowledge that it becomes easier for others to follow you, or to be brave enough to make their own path.

I have had some setbacks.  My two classes are on hiatus because of lack of attendance for a while – and it sucks.  I wondered if I just suck as a teacher, or if there is something about what I am teaching that is not fun, or if it is just boring as hell.

Then as I was feeling miserable for myself, my wife’s belly dance class got supplanted by a hatha class that is just now getting started and took her slot at the district she works at.  Now the both of us are looking at our bliss and wondering why we are not ‘there’ doing it.

Cary Tennis of Salon.com writes a column called Since You Asked where someone who followed her bliss has found herself at the end of her rope and wondering if she wasted her life.  It’s the burning question that those who follow their bliss have – did I waste my time since others who followed a well-trodden path have so much more than I?

Did I waste my time?  As I reflected on it, no I didn’t.  I didn’t have many students, but I was able to be with them and discuss the things that bothered them, to talk to them and offer comfort.  In a world where love and comfort are precious commodities – I was given a fortune and spent it well.  As for my wife, she found someone who has a love for belly dancing that wanted to learn – students like that are rare and far between.

So – there is merit to following your bliss.  Yay!!!!

The path to following your bliss is simple, yet hard.  Like a bad habit.  Its easy to say “don’t do that” but its harder to put it into effect.  Joseph Campbell laid out a way to do that:

  1. Find your bliss.  This means you have to go and discover yourself and find what makes you happy.  Its the one thing that makes your eyes light up, your heart go pitty-pat, and makes you feel like all is right in the universe.
  2. Make your recipe for bliss.  Do you need a space for it?  Students?  Time?  Your list may shorten or expand as you explore how to take your dream from inside your head to the outside world.  Document and spend time figuring out how to make it work.
  3. Reflect on those ingredients and see how they manifest in your life.  See where the elements of your bliss are in your life and how they are expressed.  Take that and reconcile it with your recipe.
  4. Understand why your bliss makes you happy.  For me, on top of yoga, I play capoeira – a Brazilian martial art.  The bliss of capoeira balances the bliss of yoga.  Others are jazzed to just knock on the sky.  I have to have the dual aspects of combat and stillness to feel complete. 
  5. Write it down.  Describe it in your own words and give it shape.  God spoke the Universe into existence – by speaking your own bliss into shape, you create it and give it form and substance.
  6. Test drive your plan and refine it until its working perfectly.  Your bliss is alive and evolving as you are alive and evolving – so it should flex and adapt as you flex and adapt.
  7. Start living your bliss.  As you live it, you will find yourself describing your life as you refine your bliss.  Careers will turn up that take you farther along with your bliss, or you may find that your bliss was in what you were doing in the first place. 

However, as my wife realize that what we are doing at the time doesn’t lend itself to following our bliss, we are restructuring our time to find and follow it again. Our own refining of our plans should finish by the end of the school year in a few months.  We will be focusing our endeavors at CircleSpace for the summer, since our time constraints are looser over then.

So keep following your bliss and keep up with us.  In between now and summer, I have a series of small workshops coming that will introduce kundalini yoga again to another population and get that rolling, as well as a few couples workshops.

My bliss is still in teaching. 

And, to wrap things up, Greg found his bliss was in what he was doing all along. 

Sat Nam everyone!

Anger and Peace – Part Three of Three

I’m a firm believer that there is no really negative emotion – even the little venal desires can be channeled to positive outcomes.  Anger, however, is an emotion that can be destructive and can get out of hand so quickly.  It’s no wonder that we liken anger to fire – hot and blazing.  Even the Buddha did so:

Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else.  You are the only one who gets burned.

The point of this is to address anger as part of a yoga practice.  We as yogis and yoginis practice an art that is designed to give us control of ourselves.  Very little, though, is addressed to the volative explosive power of anger.  Its like a rogue wave in the ocean – destructive and dangerous.  No matter how it is expressed – aggressive, passive, or passive-agressive, anger is something that needs addressing, yet rarely is in yogic circles.

For my previous posts on aggressive anger and passive anger, please click on the links.

Passive-aggressive anger is like mixing bleach and ammonia – both are some pretty nasty chemicals to begin with, but the mix of the two is lethal.  Not only are you internalizing your anger, but you are lashing out in unfair ways against the person you are angry with.

Of all the ways there are to be angry, this one can cause the most harm because not only do you hurt, you are hurting those you love.  By manifesting your pain as ‘getting even’ with nasty little attacks here and there, you not only destabilize your own emotional well-being, but you are actively destabilizing those around you.

To be honest, its a human thing to have schadenfreude.  To take delight in someone’s misfortune.  Generally it relates to competition – you win, they lose, so they suck and you rock!  However, outside of the drive to win, this emotion only serves to poison yourself and your own environment – you can have the vicious satisfaction of lashing out at the people around you and enjoying their suffering, but in the end it drives people away and leaves you alone with your pain.

The permutations of passive-aggressive anger are endless, but in general traits include:

Physical:

  • Denial or rationalization about your behavior
  • Sarcasm
  • Fleeing the situation 
  • Rubbing your head
  • Becoming silent or withholding
  • Isolating yourself in response
  • Compulsive eating, spending, cleaning or sex
  • Revenge fantasies

 Emotional:

  • Irritated
  • Resentful
  • Fearful
  • Dominated
  • Powerless
  • Sad or depressed
  • Guilty

Passive-aggressive anger poisons the self and others.  These behaviors quickly internalize – actions can invoke feelings just as much as feelings invoke actions.  These behaviors can consume the person and destroy the relationships around them.  In punishing the other through this kind of anger, we not only hurt them, we hurt ourselves, too. 

When we move from these states, we not only inflict harm on ourselves, but others, too.  This kind of anger burns us internally and externally burns the other person by manipulation.  In the end, we end up hurt and alone.

To Conclude:

The variants of anger are as many as the clouds in the sky – to be able to identify each iteration would be endless and pendantic.  Instead, anger should serve as the need to notice that you feel you have been wronged and the situation needs to be addressed.  It is not a call to arms, or a reason to be nasty to the person who wronged you.

Voice your emotion without attack.  State the grievance and speak constructively on how to solve it.  Indulging your anger  as “I have a right to be angry” serves nothing but destructive ends.  Everyone has the right to be angry, but no one has the right to hurt another person.

One last passage from the Buddha on anger:

An angry person is ugly and sleeps poorly. Gaining a profit, he turns it into a loss, having done damage with word and deed. A person overwhelmed with anger destroys his wealth. Maddened with anger, he destroys his status. Relatives, friends, and colleagues avoid him. Anger brings loss. Anger inflames the mind. He doesn’t realize that his danger is born from within. An angry person doesn’t know his own benefit. An angry person doesn’t see the Dharma. A man conquered by anger is in a mass of darkness. He takes pleasure in bad deeds as if they were good, but later, when his anger is gone, he suffers as if burned with fire. He is spoiled, blotted out, like fire enveloped in smoke. When anger spreads, when a man becomes angry, he has no shame, no fear of evil, is not respectful in speech. For a person overcome with anger, nothing gives light.

Be filled with light.

Sat Nam.

Anger and Peace – Part Two of Three

I’m a firm believer that there is no really negative emotion – even the little venal desires can be channeled to positive outcomes.  Anger, however, is an emotion that can be destructive and can get out of hand so quickly.  It’s no wonder that we liken anger to fire – hot and blazing.  Even the Buddha did so:

Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else.  You are the only one who gets burned.

The point of this is to address anger as part of a yoga practice.  We as yogis and yoginis practice an art that is designed to give us control of ourselves.  Very little, though, is addressed to the volative explosive power of anger.  Its like a rogue wave in the ocean – destructive and dangerous.  No matter how it is expressed – aggressive, passive, or passive-agressive, anger is something that needs addressing, yet rarely is in yogic circles.

This segment deals with passive anger – this insidious anger that is deflected inwards instead of outwards as in aggressive anger.  Inwardly directed anger is dangerous for the angry person, since anger turned inward is both fueled by you and consumes you.  As your anger is suppressed, it eats away at your emotional landscape, leaving you vulnerable to a host of dangerous behaviors that can become compulsive as you try to soothe the damage your anger did to you.

Passive anger has many symptoms:

Physical:

  • Clenching your jaws or grinding your teeth
  • Headache
  • Stomachache
  • Some form of self-harm; biting nails and picking on the cuticles, hitting something with bare fist, banging your head, etc.
  • Increased and rapid heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Beginning to cry for no reason
  • Compulsive eating, spending, cleaning or sex

 Emotional:

  • Self-loathing
  • Feeling stupid
  • Believing you are bad
  • Sad or depressed
  • Guiltyfeelings

The danger in passive anger is that you have two problems – the root causes of your anger, and the need to soothe the pain that the anger wreaks inside of you.  Imagine if you will that the burning coal you are holding in your hand is swallowed – that is what passive anger is doing, scorching you on the inside.

This can lead to all sorts of problems – soothing the pain with drugs, both illegal and prescription, health issues like ulcers and high blood pressure, and dangerous behavior like eating your pain, or (pardon the vulgarity) screwing the pain away.  None of these actually fixes it – the satiation of being full can overwhelm the burn of the anger, or the wash of orgasm can overrider the burning pain.  In the end, after the meal and sex, the pain is still there.  Self-harm only makes the inner pain manifest outwardly on your skin.

This anger is yours, and the pain.   For passive anger, its ok to bare your teeth and say “I am angry.”  To voice the anger is to take that deflected anger and instead of turning outward, brings it to examination.  What made you mad?  Why are you turning it inward?  What kind of behaviors are stemming from needing to soothe that anger?  By bringing your anger forward and voicing it, you also acknowledge the fact that anger is a valid emotion, not one to hide and repress.

Digging through to these roots are part of the skills you have in your yogic practices – did you think all this stretching, breathing, and focus was to stare at your navel and figure out the atomic structure of your navel lint? 

LOL

By bringing it out into the light of day, you can see just how dangerous and insidious this anger can be.  This kind of anger can feed into many self-destructive behaviors simply because if they didn’t feel good, we wouldn’t do them.   Smokers didn’t smoke to feel bad and hack up lungs, they start because the nicotine makes them feel good.  It soothed whatever was going on inside.  After a while, though, it quits feeling good and it’s done to keep from feeling bad.

People take drugs because it made them feel good at first, but they end up so dependent on them that to stop hurts, so they continue it because it hurts less than stopping.

It hurts to own your anger, though, because you have to say that it is there and you have to admit that you are angry.  But, I promise you, it hurts less than not owning it and letting it eat you from the inside.  If you own it and witness its actions, you can start to figure out what the roots of that anger is, and instead of letting it burn you from the inside out, you can move with love and care to stop that rooted anger from hurting you, instead of letting it eat you alive.

Expressing anger in a healthy way is not venting, or negative, or weak.  Expressing anger in a rational, calm way is owning it – the first step to finding out where it stems from, and how to remove that particular stimulus from your emotional makeup.  This is much better, emotionally and physically, then letting it burn you up inside and then trying to blunt the emotional and physical pain.

Anger and Peace – Part One of Three

I’m a firm believer that there is no really negative emotion – even the little venal desires can be channeled to positive outcomes.  Anger, however, is an emotion that can be destructive and can get out of hand so quickly.  It’s no wonder that we liken anger to fire – hot and blazing.  Even the Buddha did so:

Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else.  You are the only one who gets burned.

The point of this is to address anger as part of a yoga practice.  We as yogis and yoginis practice an art that is designed to give us control of ourselves.  Very little, though, is addressed to the volative explosive power of anger.  Its like a rogue wave in the ocean – destructive and dangerous.  No matter how it is expressed – aggressive, passive, or passive-agressive, anger is something that needs addressing, yet rarely is in yogic circles.

This segment focuses on aggressive anger.  This type of anger is one that I share, so I am focusing on it because like all yogis, my yoga practice is one that continues and this is something with which I struggle.  Thus, as part of my practice and as a yogi, I share this with you.

This kind of anger is like those fires you see burning on the medians when its dry and parched – they are hot, quick-burning and go out quickly.  They are also destructive in that they can quickly burn up a hundred yards of median before the fire department can get there in time to put it out.

We have all heard techniques to ‘calm down.” Breathe and count to ten. Remove yourself from the situation.  Find a healthy expression of anger.  Do something that distracts you from the anger stimulus until you are under control.  While these are good at solving the immediate need to control the angry emotion until you are able to deal with it – these are not final solutions.  Failing to resolve the anger will only feed that particular beast until you have the emotional equivalent of a Chernobyl-level meltdown.

Agressive anger causes some of the following manifestations:

Physical:

  • hot in the neck/face
  • increased and rapid heart rate
  • pacing
  • sweating, especially your palms
  • shaking or trembling
  • acting in an abusive or abrasive manner
  • beginning to yell, scream or cry

 

Emotional:

  • resentful
  • rage
  • out of control
  • anxious
  • like striking out verbally or physically

The physical manifestation is indicative of the emotional power of this kind of anger.  You would not breathe calmly and count to ten when a fire starts, so why would you do it for your emotional flames?

You must put it out.  In the case of fire, you have to catch the fire before it spreads and put it out.  In the case of anger, you have to catch the anger before you ignite and light up emotionally.  And it’s hard to, because it feels good.  Let me repeat that: it feels good to be hot and fired-up angry. 

Powerful and filled with burning purpose, aggressive anger can make for change, revolution, and righteous glory.  Unchecked, it causes emotional devastation, burnt emotional landscapes, and in the cases it overflows into physical action – assault, domestic violence, and murder.

The roots of aggressive anger run deep – to childhood, internalized trauma, many different things.  The key to this is to experience and take responsibility for your anger – it is, after all, yours.  Blaming others for making you angry only shifts the blame – this is your emotion, your fire, your responsibility.  By ignoring it or suppressing it, you will only make it hotter and more dangerous the nest time it comes. 

See how the anger operates, and then work on resolving the emotions.  To follow our metaphor to its end – the only way to stop those hot median fires is to not put the burning cigarette butt into the dry grass – to quit smoking.

Meditation and yoga provide opportunities to examine your triggers, to find your smoldering cigarette butts of unresolved emotions and to put those out before they light fires.  Besides a workout and blissful experience, powerful tools exist in your yoga practice to find and identify these nuggets that get triggered and resolve them before they trigger such destructive firestorms of emotion.

This week’s yoga sets and meditations will address harnessing and moving past our emotional, reactive selves. If you internalize this fire, it will burn you, in the form of a poisoned emotional life, ulcers, and a host of cardiac and vascular issues.  Calm and peace come from eliminating the fire, not containing it and ignoring it.

A Note on Contacts

Some people have wondered if there is a Facebook page – you can search me at Kundalini Yoga San Antonio.  Its hard maintaining all of this online presence, so please be patient if I don’t respond immediately.  I promise I will answer.

Sat Nam!

 

Oh, you can always email at motorcycyleyogi@gmail.com, too!

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