Self Regulation

Self regulation is how one manages oneself. This includes emotion and impulse.
Self Regulation is a key that would benefit us to check into regularly.

A powerful statement I recently heard was, “power lies in personal containment and fluid adaptability.”

This means we must have self regulation to truly be in our truth. We can either be a victim or be self righteous. What is there’s more than that? What is there were a space in the middle?
To be a victim is to collapse into oneself, to make oneself small. To be self righteous is to take a strong posture. It’s the attitude of superiority. It can look like the person who says, “everything is fine”. These are both extremes that leave no room for true containment, for real inner strength.

In between the two rests humility and dignity. Humility says, “I have something to learn.” Dignity says, “I have a voice”. Within this, one must lead with the right amount of vulnerability.

“Power lies in personal containment and fluid adaptability.”

We must listen to the environment and individual in front of us. We must be aware of what the container can really hold. This container includes the one in front of us, and our own. We must notice when we are collapsing and when we are self righteous. We benefit when we are observant of our own extremes. When we notice, we can name that which is arising. We contain what needs to be contained and release only what is beneficial for that moment that will at the same time received. We notice the container of the one in front of us and we respect that. We don’t need to overfill.

We remember that, “Power lies in personal containment and fluid adaptability.”

How do you contain yourself? For the sake of what?
Are there any action steps you can take today that will help you rest in the center- within dignity and humility?


Acknowledgments:
Thank you to my friend, Aya for the enriching conversation that inspired me to share this post.

Are you paying attention?


This is the moment, I bow in gratitude to my teacher who is teaching me how to remain focused and grounded with any and every moment that arises. I’m nowhere near perfect, but the striving is clear. I see so many people around me saying things like; “I must multitask, that’s just how my brain works.” Or, “my brain goes too fast, I need more stimulation.”

I once felt like this too. At times, my brain still goes faster than my words.

But what’s important is to recognize it and make a decision, is this really the best way to keep going with life? When we are unfocused, we lack resolve, patience, and clarity. One may be the most successful person and yet have zero awareness. We may claim to be aware or “woke”, but these are just pop words and words are meaningless without action. Multitasking is not possible within this human condition; but the illusion of it surely is. When we can’t focus on a task without having to do or listen to something else at the same time, we set ourselves for limitation.

A counterargument I have heard is something along the lines of, “well, that’s how I get the most done”. Great, so one can keep doing, and doing. When will that same one learn how to truly be? When there is a lack of being, there is an abundance of intensity. This intensity is one where an individual might easily fluctuate between moods, personalities, and states of consciousness without even realizing it. Because the intensity becomes so strong and they can justify it, they may rationalize and say they knew what they were doing. An operation of cyclical motion becomes predominant in one’s life and it leave no room for the heart of humanity.

Imagine if we reach a point that we can say, “this is where I’m putting my attention to.” There is only a one pointed focus. For a moment, take a look at your keyboard. Find the number six. Keep your gaze there for 60 cycles of breath (inhale and exhale). Don’t explore what’s above or below the number six, don’t look at the space between the six and the next key. Don’t look back up at the screen. Easier said that done, right?

What would it feel like to do talk to that individual without scrolling through the phone at the same time. How would you feel? How would they feel? When we are distracted, it is sensed in all corners and it shows up in our lives. Imagine for a moment, you are with your beloved and they are focused everywhere but you? Believe it or not, these are just small examples. Imagine a doctor doing surgery but needing music at the same time. Imagine they get lost in the sounds that they leave a screw in the leg, only to be discovered years later after an infection has grown? Imagine that same doctor talking to his friend while performing brain surgery and leaving another patient braindead because he forgot the next step due to the intensity of his conversation? Would any of that feel good? If the answer is no, then why would would you portray similar behavior?

What we do on a micro level, comes out and reflects the macro. We must take accountability for our actions and deliberately learn to be present, focused and be attentive. We must learn to be rather than just do. But in order for that to become alive, there are action steps to take that ironically involve doing. This is an exercise for the mind. I will share 3 essential steps that are part of what I learned from my teacher. But first, you will need to wear some comfortable clothes and an object that has meaning for you, one that’s perfect to you. This can be a stone or crystal, a pen or spoon, a charm, etc. You will also need a timer that you can set for at least fifteen minutes.

  1. Place your object in front of you at about shoulder level against a plain background.
    I prefer the use of a white wall.
  2. Sit in a comfortable position with an erect spine, a meditative posture.
    I prefer a lotus or half lotus position.
    You can also sit on a chair with ankles below the knees and a tall spine.
  3. Allow the eyes to gaze on a spot of that object where the whole object can be seen from that point. Practice keeping the gaze there until the timer rings or buzzes. Breathe normally.

Some tips for this exercise:
– Create or use a mantra/saying which can act as your anchor. When the mind wonders, you come back to that mantra and refocus. This will also help when the eyes begin to analyze the object or look around. Bring your self back.
– Have compassion for yourself and anything that arises. Come back to your mantra and object of focus.
– After a while, play with adding more time to your exercise and notice what happens.
– Notice how doing this daily affects your life.


Acknowledgments:
Thank you dear teacher for your consistent inspiration, wisdom, and offerings.

Feminine Empowerment

“What’s more important to the new queen?
Beauty or skill?
-Skill
And beauty?
-That lies in the eye of the beholder
Please explain
-Some see God in every object, while some see God as another object
Describe life in three words
-Spirituality, love and sacrifice
What is love?
-A tear of joy falling from God’s eye
What are tears?
-A thin line between sorrow and happiness
What is happiness?
-An illusion
What is the greatest weapon in the battlefield?
-Courage
Which is the most difficult moment in life?
-Awaiting the results after an examination
And the biggest gift?
-Blessings!”

Padmāvat

The feminine is gifted with the power of creation. She must uphold her principles. She is tested over and over again. She is begged to fall. Yet through the examination, she chooses to rise. She practices forbearance and patience. She is courageous and full of will. She is modest. She is the definition of a lotus. She is the high hanging fruit in the tree. She is the essence of life itself. She is always changing and evolving. She is the skillful warrior and the sensitive moon. She represents peace, wisdom, and love.

*The feminine here refers to the female energy within everyone*

It is time to realize our power and worth!

  1. Design your own life according to YOU.
  2. Promote and bring forth the potential of the ‘others’.
  3. Remember, the feminine is behind any successful leader.

What is skillful action?
Coby Kozlowski frequency asks, “How can we skillfully participate and engage with life?” This is the practice of yoga. This is the yoga of action, not wishing or hoping. This is where one must make a dedicated decision and take action. This becomes the power of creation.

Where is the beauty of in life?
There are days like these; where we must sit in the dormant of our beauty, remember who we truly are and follow that knowing. Integrity lives in our hands.

What is courage?
The ability to fully be ourselves in each moment. Courage is vulnerability. It’s letting go of the outcome and being daring enough to show up. Do you have the courage to be used for your calling?

Blessing occurs as the consequence of participating with life fully.

We always have the chance to make a fresh start. Sometimes the thing we fear the most is being ourselves. Overcome this fear and feel the essence of true empowerment.

The feminine is gifted with the power of creation. She must uphold her principles. She is tested over and over again. She is begged to fall. Yet through the examination, she chooses to rise. She practices forbearance and patience. She is courageous and full of will. She is modest. She is the definition of a lotus. She is the high hanging fruit in the tree. She is the essence of life itself. She is always changing and evolving. She is the skillful warrior and the sensitive moon. She represents peace, wisdom, and love.


Acknowledgments:
Thank you to Padmāvatī!
Thank you Coby Kozlowski for your insightful offerings.
Thank you Śri Śri Mā Sāradā for the consistent source of inspiration and teachings.

The Psychology of Transformation

“Why are we satisfied with saying we’re not mentally ill?
Why not focus on getting better and better?”
(Mingur, 2007).  

Transformation requires practice rather than just theory. The mind is ever evolving, never stagnant. Many have thought mind to be found within the brain, yet it is unknown where the mind really comes from or where it resides. The brain consists of many important parts, of which three will be discussed after neurons are understood in relationship to meditation.

Neurons are social cells. They are related to sensation, movement, problem solving, memory creation, and the production of thought. Neurons connect and create mental habits, which become our unconscious reactions. Repeated experiences create these habits and change the way the brain functions. Meditation focus on the elimination of mental habits that contribute to unhappiness. Within the brain, we find three important parts; the brain stem, limbic system, and the neocortex.

The brain stem is formed by a group of cells that regulate involuntary functions. These include breathing, circulation, metabolism, and heartbeat. This is the part of the brain, which controls fight-or-flight. Memorable events that store within our unconscious become survival mechanisms and are found here. 

The limbic system is the backbone for memory and learning and contains several important features. Within it, one can find the hippocampus, which is responsible for the creation of new memories and emotional response. The amygdala is the reason one can feel emotion and create emotional memories, being responsible for the impulse of empathy and fear. The hypothalamus is at the base of the limbic system, connected to the autonomic nervous system and therefore the brain stem. The release of adrenaline happens here along with powerful emotional memories “linked to biological and biochemical reactions” (Mingur, 2007). This can be helpful when it comes to life-threatening situations and hurtful as it can distort present reality. 

The neocortex is why sentient beings (any living being with consciousness) can reason, form concepts, plan, and use imagination. This is where judgment and understanding, learning, and empathy occur. 

Every thought and experience is an interlinking of brain activity. The brain is thus, the physical support for the unseen mind. Meditation provides the experience of understanding the mind through seeing one’s innate clarity. When one can simply observe, the experience itself changes just as the mind shifts.

It is common for boredom to occur in this practice of meeting ourselves. After practicing for some time, the boredom becomes cooling in nature and a sense of joy can be filled within an individual. On the contrary, the initial hot boredom, the feeling claustrophobic or trapped, cannot last with awareness present. Anything that arises becomes a product of the mind and an opportunity to see through the eyes of curiosity. This is the process of creating new neuronal connections, inhibiting old patterns. 

What we experience is followed by our intention. With recognition of feelings, perceptions, and thoughts in a relaxed manner, withholding judgment, one is able to manage any situation that comes his/her way. Confusion may arise. This confusion becomes the gift, “the beginning of understanding” (Mingur, 2007). The confusion leads to the transformation. 

May we be willing enough to be with ourselves and step into the practice of transformation. All it takes is a little observation!

Wherever you are, be there. Sit upright and take a deep breath in. Let it go and let the mind go as well. Allow the mind to wander as it wishes and just observe it. You may notice a pattern of thoughts or perhaps you go down a trail of thought, engage and get lost in it. When that happens, remember your intention, to observe for the sake of your own transformation.

Transformation occurs with awareness.
This begins from the inside-out.


References:
Mingur, Y. (2007). The joy of living: Unlocking the secrets & science of happiness.
Trungpa, C. (2015). Mindfulness in action: Making friends with yourself through meditation and everyday awareness.


Acknowledgments:
Thank you Valerie Lorig for sharing your timeless wisdom, humor, and text.

Fierce Compassion

Fierce compassion knows the full spectrum of humanity. It isn’t about how warm, glowing, and fuzzy we are. It goes beyond that. Sometimes compassion is bringing into our awareness the beings who have suffered. We must choose to look and feel straight into it. That is compassion. Compassions knows that there is a profound interdependence in this world and it steps into that with awareness. Compassion is about going to the grit of the experience. It’s coming to know, what does this hunch really feel like, intimately. Compassion is entering the shadow, the tyrant in each of us and really getting to know that.

If we see hatred out there, how do we come to see it in here?
If we see closed off-ness out there, how do we come to know it in here?
If we see love out there, how do we come to experience it in here?

Compassion is all-encompassing and unrelenting. Compassion is tender. It is also wrathful and fierce. It’s fierce because it’s not always easy. It’s important to note that wrathful compassion is different from anger. Wrathful compassion doesn’t have an agenda, hatred, hostility, or attachment to an outcome.
Can wrathful compassion come from a place of love and care?


Robert Masters says that we must work with emotion from a place of deep connectedness. Unconditional love calls for that. Fierce compassion calls for incredible wakefulness. When we receive fierce or wrathful compassion, it forces us to step into our inner knowing.

When working with fierce compassion–

Notice, what’s going on in the body?
How is the body communicating with the mind?
What’s the sensation living within?
Can you let the sensation spread, letting it be, without words or labels?
Notice sensation from the layer of the body, not just the mind.

Sometimes, simply being with what arises is the point of connection.
That’s the space that gives rise to information and processing.
This can look like meditation for many. It’s crucial to remember, it’s not that you just meditate, but what do you do when you meditate? Where do you go? Can you remain with the experience and embrace it fully? Can you see the power and wisdom in the experience itself?

Fierce compassion is the full spectrum of humanity. Everything we do makes a difference. This path is asking us for incredible awareness. It’s an ongoing practice and that’s what keeps humble and engaged.

May we be safe and protected
May we be happy and joyful
May we be healthy and resourceful
May we have ease and wellbeing


Acknowledgments:
Thank you Charlotte Rotterdam for the well-grounded conversations, teachings, and expressions.

The Greatest Gift

May we meet one another with presence. Whether face to face, virtually, or otherwise. May we recognize the greatest present we can receive and deliver to another, our precious human life.

How do we develop the gift of presence?
First, let’s understand what we are distracted by.
Swami Abhedananda says that if we can understand the causes of difficulty and find the method in which the difficulty can be removed, then we are bound to have success. He mentions, “when the mind is well concentrated, it may be compared to a search-light.” We must converge all the rays of light, all our focus into one point. This means there is nothing outside of that light. This is the practice of yoga. Concentration is absolutely necessary in every kind of work. How can we develop our attention?

Take a look in front of you. What is the first object you see? Notice how long you can keep your focus there. Notice the mind as it roams and return to your point of attention. When you get distracted, bring your attention back to the object. Try this exercise on different days, at different times. See what shifts as you develop your concentration. You can do this with an activity such as painting, writing, and being with a loved one FULLY.

When we are with another, it is beneficial to be with them completely. Too much of our day consists of being on the phone or computer when our family or friends. Why is that? What are you prepared to do about it?

How do we develop the gift of presence?
We must advance our concentration.

Whatever you are doing, put your whole mind on it.
If you are shooting, your mind should be only on the target.
Then you will never miss.
If you are learning your lessons, think only of the lesson.

~Swami Vivekananda

Acknowledgments:
A big thank you to all the formal and informal teachers of yoga and meditation.

Pain & Empowerment

You will fall sick, experience pain, and encounter many adverse circumstances. At such times do not think, ‘Although I am practicing the Dharma, I have nothing but trouble. The Dharma cannot be so great. I have followed a teacher and done so much practice, and yet hard times still befall me.’

Such thoughts are wrong views. You should realize that through the blessing and power of the practice, by experiencing sickness and other difficulties now, you are purifying and ridding yourself of negative actions.

By purifying them while you have the chance, you will later go from bliss to bliss. So do not think, ‘I don’t deserve this illness, these obstacles, these negative influences.’ Experience your difficulties as blessings. When you do experience such difficulties, you should be very happy and avoid having adverse thoughts like, ‘Why are such terrible things happening to me?’
~Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

Pain is inevitable in this world of time. Certainly, we are bound to experience it at some point or another. Pain may be prolonged and obvious, or it may be hidden. Pain can show up physically or psychologically. According to Karol K. Truman, feelings which are not acknowledged and worked through become ailments within the body and cause physical illness. Cayolyn Myss also talks about this factor in her book, Anatomy of Spirit. She says, “Our biography becomes our biology.” When energy, feelings, and emotions are blocked or misdirected, physical illness arises. 

How does one work through this?  We must first get comfortable with the idea that the pain may not go away. When we abandon all fruit of fruition, we land in the quality of presence that allows for unfolding and understanding.

What happens when we face our feelings and express them fully?
The common question is, how? What if there’s a fire of anger?
I highly recommend the book, Feelings Buried Alive, to explore this topic more.

When we work with anger, it’s valuable to ask the question, how can we harness and cut through it? It’s not obligatory to get rid of anger, it is far-reaching to do some somatic work. It’s important to move it through the body and not allow it to remain stuck.

This is also where self-regulation becomes key.
This may look like meditation, the physical practice of yoga, maybe something else. When faced with the question of, how do i self-regulate, there are infinite options. Body-based practices are best to integrate healing. Whichever you choose, can you be fully present to the process of self-regulation? Often times, meditation or any practice becomes the platform where one completely checks out rather than sits with what is arising. We create excuses, stories, and anything else so that we don’t face the truth. The inquiry then becomes, am I being dishonest with myself? This question becomes a blessing in the unfolding of presence and compassion.

When great uncertainty hits, it may be necessary to reach out and have a conversation with someone. This can look like a dear friend, counselor, or life coach. Sometimes the greatest gift we receive is when someone comes in and cuts through our nonsense.

May we each integrate our experiences through healthy self-regulation and care. May we find meaning, purpose, and the lessons we are meant to receive within the container of a safe space.

May we live as healthy and empowered human beings.  


Acknowledgments:
Thank you to Naropa University staff for the inspiring conversations which triggered the writing of this post.

Feeling Stuck? Now what?

These days call for quarantine to reduce the spread of disease. It is so easy to feel uncertainty, fear, depression, and mania. It’s also just as effortless to feel a sense of peace.

There are many conversations on how to distract ourselves. We can dance, do some art, learn a new skill, exercise, etc. This is great! AND what if instead, we go to the root cause of this sensation of dis-ease? 

Why are the present feelings arising? What is the source?
How can we truly move through this?

Daily routine help us to not experience existential fear of death and uncertainty. Without daily routine, fear and anxiety get exasperated. 

It’s time to create your own medicine, your own formula, your own routine. Can you think of 6 parts or less in your day that you can commit to every day? Here’s a fun way I like to start– 

A Recipe for Daily Routine

3 tbs. of _____________________
2 tsps. of ____________________
1 cut of _____________________
3 pinches of ________________
1 dash of ___________________
1 oz. of _____________________

Mix all of the ingredients and apply daily. Take one day at a time.

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lays our freedom and power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom.”

~Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning

Acknowledgments:
Thank you Dr. Tawni Tidwell for the thoughtful conversations that inspired the writing of this post.

Life Purpose

What a HOT topic! One may ask the question, what is my life purpose and how am I going to fulfill that?

Maybe your life’s purpose isn’t about what you are going to do to change the world.

Rather, ask yourself, what am I going to learn this time? What is it I need to learn this time? 

That’s why you are in a world of time – to learn and to pass knowledge. 

Bless others and they too, shall bless you. Look not to bring peace for all. Seek to bring peace to self.

Then, relinquish all seeking. Everyone we encounter will feel it and pass it on.

Then peace will be amongst all because it is amongst us. Happiness and love work the same way. 

Feel it deeply truly within yourself and notice what happens.

This often brings up the idea of identity. Identity is formed through experience, memory, and values. Let’s assume that all beings want to lead fulfilling and positive lives to cultivate the best they can during their time on earth. When struggling to figure out who we are, we can thank positive psychology. By focusing on our inherent strengths, we are able to thrive. So let’s begin with asking the following questions:

  1. What are my innate strengths , such as  talents and skills?
  2. What is my superpower?

When one can appreciate thyself as a unique, ever-growing, competent, and compassionate human being, one can open the door to one’s truest self and from there, the purpose becomes clear.

Each person has a unique character profile based on their strengths. With 15-20 minutes to spare, you can take this free and fun character test and discover more of your inherent strengths. From there, you can make the choice of what you would allow to expand. Afterall, the wolf that we feed more, howls more.


Acknowledgments:
Thank you Kelly Bearer, MA, ACHT for sharing your great knowledge of Positive Psychology and Dr. Debmalya Nandy for your insightful comments and editing of this post.

THE JOURNEY BEGINS NOW

So much of today’s society struggles with fundamental questions regarding existence, such as:

Who am I? What am I worthy of?

What do I love? Where am I heading to?

This crisis is putting hearts at risk — literally, take a look at the heart disease, which is 1 in every 4 deaths and the leading cause of death amongst both men and women in the west [1].  Unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, stress, and addictive behaviors — all contribute to this growing epidemic [2]. But ultimately, none of these things are at the root to the struggle of identity, the lack of self-love and worthiness. This boils down to lack of self-esteem, self-awareness, self-discovery, self-truth, and self-mastery! 

Many of us walk, talk, and breathe in circles all day long. Wake up, go to work or school, come home, watch Netflix, eat a frozen meal or order out, and finally, go to bed. What if this cycle is the reason for which we enter into the afore-mentioned crisis? If it is not this cycle, is there another cycle that seems to be taking over our lives? Wake up, facebook, instagram, Netflix and chill, work, sleep. Are the words we say and the actions we perform in perfect harmony?

Where shall one pause?  Where shall one stop for long enough to ask the question, who am I, really? Does one enjoy one’s own company? 

A wise master once said, “If you are alone and you are miserable, obviously you are in bad company.” [3]

Therefore, the best company one will always have is one’s Self. How do we take care of our best company? What steps are we willing to take to become the best version of ourselves?

Imagine the way we treat the person we love, such as our best friend, lover, mother. Is that how you treat yourself? Is it better or worse? Shall we let our best friend soak in misery all day or shall we support them experiencing their greatest self? Can one support oneself in the same way and want to be supported by one’s greatest friend and confidant? What is stopping us from giving our BEST to ourselves? How shall we regain who we truly are?

A classical yogic text called The Bhagavad Gita states the following (Chapter 6, Verse 5):

उद्धरेदात्मनात्मानं नात्मानमवसादयेत् |

आत्मैव ह्यात्मनो बन्धुरात्मैव रिपुरात्मन: ||

uddhared ātmanātmānaṁ

nātmānam avasādayet

ātmaiva hyātmano

bandhur ātmaiva ripur ātmanaḥ

This loosely translates to — 

“Elevate yourself through the power of your mind, and not degrade yourself, for the mind can be the friend and also the enemy of the self.” [4]

We must use the mind with wisdom, as our guide. We must do this through training the mind so that our conditioned selves can be free from mere ignorance. 

Continuing to Verse 6 in Chapter 6 of The Bhagavad Gita — 

बन्धुरात्मात्मनस्तस्य येनात्मैवात्मना जित: |

अनात्मनस्तु शत्रुत्वे वर्ते तात्मैव शत्रुवत् ||

bandhur ātmātmanas tasya

yenātmaivātmanā jitaḥ

anātmanas tu śhatrutve

vartetātmaiva śhatru-vat

“For those who have conquered the mind, it is their friend. For those who have failed to do so, the mind works like an enemy.” [5]

Our best friend, our best self will be present once we learn to take control of our mind! One who cannot gain control over the mind lives with one’s greatest enemy. As long as the mind remains untamed and unobserved, we fall into spirals of fear, lust, anger, greed, delusion, addiction, envy. 

        Can the mind  imagine what would happen when it becomes its own best friend and steps into its best self?

जितात्मन: प्रशान्तस्य परमात्मा समाहित: |

शीतोष्णसुखद:खेषु तथा मानापमानयो: ||

jitātmanaḥ praśhāntasya

paramātmā samāhitaḥ

śhītoṣhṇa-sukha-duḥkheṣhu

tathā mānāpamānayoḥ

 The Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 6, Verse 7

“The yogis who have conquered the mind rise above the dualities of cold and heat, joy and sorrow, honor and dishonor. Such yogis remain peaceful and steadfast in their devotion to [the Supreme].” [6]

       To tame the mind is a prime goal of the practice of yoga. To practice yoga is to ride the ebb and flow of life. To cultivate compassion on a moment to moment basis. To stand in truth, practice non-violence and self-observation. To let go of the fruits of action. Living yoga means living in alignment with the highest Truth and cultivating a life that revolves around that Truth. To cultivate a life of truth is to go beyond the illusions. …and that is the beginning of Living Yoga. 

Let’s start within. 

The exposition of Yoga begins NOW! [7]

References:

  1. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  2. Kübler-Ross, E. (1973). On death and dying. Routledge
  3. Yogi mystic Sadhguru talk “If You are alone and miserable, you are in a bad company” (2017) on YouTube; bit.ly/SadhguruYTTalk
  4. The Bhagavad Gita [The Song of God], Commentary by Swami Mukundananda; bit.ly/BGCh6V5
  5. The Bhagavad Gita [The Song of God], Commentary by Swami Mukundananda; bit.ly/BGCh6V6
  6. The Bhagavad Gita [The Song of God], Commentary by Swami Mukundananda; bit.ly/BGCh6V7
  7. The Yoga Sūtras of Patanjali, Book 1, Sutra 1

Acknowledgments:
I am wholeheartedly grateful to Dr. Debmalya Nandy for his insightful comments and editing of this post.
I also thank those who have inspired this writing.