Monday, October 19, 2009

:: Making Time for Wellness ::

How often have you come to the end of the day, still overwhelmed with responsibilities and wishing there were MORE TIME?

Most of us live and move by the clock: fully, busily, and exhaustively.  With so many schedules running the show it is no wonder that we have little patience for illness. Instead of following our intuition, getting some rest and re-focusing on wellness, we find ourselves with just enough time to pick up a prescription at the pharmacy, have an extra latte in the afternoon, and nurse sick days with medicine that allows us to maintain productivity... because taking sick time means less pay for some, and being laid off entirely for others.  That itself is enough stress to impede fast recovery!

As a society we live in time deficit. Most of us don't get half of the vacation or sick-time as our friends in other developed-nations.  This is affecting our well being in profound and destructive ways.  As we strive to catch up, to make up for financial losses, to pay off debts, or in many cases to just get by, the monster of disease is catching up to us, and the statistics don't look good. More than 10% of the US population currently has diabetes.  And, according to the CDC, in 2003, approximately 37% of adults reported having two or more of six risk factors for heart disease and stroke (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, current smoking, physical inactivity, and obesity).  That was 5 years ago.

These types of lifestyle disease do not arise in a vacuum.  Stress, poor diet, and inadequate exercize are the indicated culprits of these chronic diseases, not chromosomal anomalies.  But with a lack of time come destructive habits of time management.  We choose quick comfort food instead of wholesome.  We choose TV instead of taking a walk.  We choose emotional drama instead of sleep.  We choose to believe what the so-called experts and professionals tell us, instead of doing research ourselves. And sadly it doesn't usually feel like a choice.  If after work you happen to find the time for healthy meals, nurturing relationships, laundry, shopping, housecleaning, exercize, education, sleep and creative (ad)venture, not to mention raising a family... you are the superheroes.  Because for most of the people I meet, something always slips through the cracks.

The real question is: how can we regain our full, vibrant health amidst the hustle to try and change the course of history for the better, all while keeping our loan payments current? 

In order to tap into the amount of energy that we are going to need to transform our world, it seems to me that we must take drastic measures bordering on the miraculous.

We are going to have to MAKE TIME.

to be continued...

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Creating the Space for Yoga

Even though I am not a collector of things in general, I still find myself challenged by too much stuff.  And where I used to fancy myself some sort of ascetic, able to throw things out without a thought for their future use, in the past few years I've been more cautious. I've given those things a bit more time to prove their worthiness. Unfortunately, my Virgo organizational skills are not nearly so developed as my astrological tendency to disparage the untidyness.  I've been literally unable to put these things into order without digging them out of drawers and boxes in their entirety and mulling over their necessity in my life. As this sort of deep ontological reflection on my possessions is very time-consuming,  I often turn my cheek on those messes and focus on the things that seem more important in the moment.  But I sense the lack of spacial clarity and energetic vibrancy. I'm left unsettled and incomplete.  My space does not feel as harmonious as it could be.

If our couches and bookshelves could do yoga, they would call it vastu.  The Vastu Shastra is an Indian science of spacial-alignment older than Feng Shui.  And the Vastu experts do not have positive things to say about clutter.  Kathleen Cox, author of Vastu Living, says that "Physical clutter creates mental clutter, which leads to stress and tension... Clutter is harmful to our health. Vastu helps you determine where the clutter is in your life. Anything that does not connect to who you are, what you love or what you do, and anything that doesn't serve an ongoing utilitarian function, is clutter. It's wasting valuable space."

When I look at clutter in this way, taking on the practice of Vastu in my home becomes an aspect of my own yoga practice.  Cleaning the dishes is as useful to my mental health as downward dog and the proper alignment of my furniture becomes as important as the safe alignment of my knees.

Vastu asks us to align our environment for the optimal flow of energy, creativity, and abundance.  It is a powerful practice that can re-focus our minds so that our daily tasks are elevated to their own form of spiritual discipline.  Every moment counts.  So, give yourself a pat on the back if you made the bed today or cleaned off the countertop.  It's all baby steps towards awakening to our full potential.  Vastu teaches us that every action is deeply meaningful, even scrubbing the grout.

OM Bhagavataya Vastupurushaya Namaha.

I'm going to clean the house now.

*If you would like to learn more about Vastu, I highly recommend starting at Vastu Creations.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

OM Sri Ganeshaya Namaha! (or, let's start with the elephant...)

Everybody LOVES Ganesha.  Of course, it's more true in India than some other places, but generally speaking, even westerners find great affection for this round-bellied and elephant-faced member of the Hindu pantheon.  Ganesh, Ganesha, and Ganapati are all names for the same divinity and representation of life-force...  It is said that this Ganesh guy is a remover of obstacles.  So, it only makes sense that before embarking on any new venture, one would have a word or two with Ganesha.  We might pull him aside and say "Hey Ganesha, I have this really good idea, and it's going to make me a few bucks but mostly, you know, I'm doing it for the good of humanity so for goodness sake please please please please make sure things go well for me, ok? OM Gam Ganapataye Namaha!"  And then we might draw colorful pictures and posters; and make notecards, key chains and bumper stickers to remind us of remind us to keep calling even though sometimes his land line seems awfully busy.  So, that's one level.

On another level, Ganapati represents a foundational stability of consciousness.  He is an elephant after all, and when we take an elephant in to our mind there isn't room for much else.  Ganesha represents the earth element and the muladhara chakra, the sacrum, our connection to and seat on the earth.  It is said that the energy of Ganesha resides in this base chakra.

It is from this grounding of our awareness in the body that we begin any yoga practice.  We don't have to use his formal name to understand the consciousness he represents.  Calling on Ganesha means grounding out, slowing down, finding our breath, feeling our feet, remembering to root ourselves to earth and to take all action from this point of stability.  When we move in this way we are protected from all of those obstacles both mental and physical, that keep us from going more deeply into our practice.  With luck, we move beyond the obstacles that keep us from getting to yoga class in the first place.