yoga is a way of life.. For inner peace and good health, practice yoga

yoga is a way of life.. For inner peace and good health, practice yoga

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Let's Get Philosophical

I spend quite a bit of time thinking. I love to think. My grade school teachers all said the same thing on my report card evaluations to my parents: "Audrey loves to daydream." My husband says that at heart I am a philosopher, so right now I'm just goin' with that! This past week, I did an overview of some of the great philosophers throughout history. Their understanding of the human condition is extraordinary, and their views could be written today.

At the root of peace and health is a universal understanding of the self and others. Here are brief viewpoints of a group of important philosophers, views that are new to me, and I would like to share them with you:

469-399 BC
Socrates believed that "improper conduct can only be a product of ignorance rather than a symptom of weakness of the will." (As a note, ignorance is in Yogic and Buddhist beliefs one of the "kleshas" or afflictions that obscure freedom).

427-347 BC
"The things we perceive with the senses remind us of things we knew when the soul was out of the body and could perceive reality directly."
(Reincarnation, past life regression, being close to the divine while meditating are all examples of how everything and everyone is connected to the universe).

Soren Kirkegaard
(Considered the father of existentialism)
"To have faith is at the same time to have doubt."
"Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom."
(Perhaps we keep ourselves trapped in a cycle of suffering because we can't handle the risks inherent in freedom??).

Friedrich Nietzsche
He felt that "Non-rational forces reside at the foundation of all creativity and of reality itself, and strongly instinctual, wild, amoral, 'Dionysian' energy is an essentially creative and healthy force."

As a means towards cultural rebirth, Nietzsche advocated "the resurrection and fuller release of Dionysian artistic energies--those which are associated with primordial creativity, joy in existence, and ultimate truth."
(Everything is so politically-correct these days that we need to be authentic, and freely expressive again!).

Albert Camus
(Originated the theory of The Absurd)
"The absurd is our desire for clarity and meaning within a world and condition that offers neither. We value our lives and existence so greatly, but at the same time we know we will eventually die, and ultimately our endeavors are meaningless."
(Today I read in The New York Times an article about a study showing that baby boomers are happy as well as suicidal. Hmmm...).

The more I exist in reality (my reality, of course), working towards seeing clearly, acting mindfully, and observing non-judgmentally, the happier and more content I feel. I see a world around me full of stress, frenzy, hostility, impatience, and neglect, all symptoms perhaps of our modern society. It's a difficult task to focus on one's good health and acts of kindness in this sort of pressure cooker called American life. I try to take time to evaluate what is bothering me in my life, what is not working, and figure out options to eliminate these things if required. Certainly making changes. I can make changes on a personal level, and the huge problems on a national and international level are in my thoughts at the same time. I learn a tremendous amount by listening, reading, absorbing what others have to say. The best thing any of us can do is forgive ourselves, dust ourselves off, and try again. I am enjoying studying the great philosophers right now. Less TV and more time pursuing what enlarges the soul is my M.O. for this summer!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Five Mindfulness Trainings

It's been two weeks since I last wrote, and hope you have enjoyed getting acquainted with the Yamas and Niyamas ethical guidelines from the ancient Yoga Sutras teachings. This week, I want to introduce the "Five Mindfulness Trainings" which are part of Buddhist teachings. I find it a tremendous reminder to revisit these simple teachings now and then, and I strive to live them even though I am not perfect. None of us are, but we can try to live according to some basic values that are common to all people as we strive for peace in this world.

The First Mindfulness Training: "Reverence for Life"
Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I vow to cultivate compassion and learn ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to condone any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, or in my way of life.

The Second Mindfulness Training: "Generosity"
Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, I vow to cultivate loving-kindness and learn ways to work for the well-being of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I vow to practice generosity by sharing my time, energy, and material resources with those who are in real need. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others. I will respect the property of others, but I will prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other species on earth.

The Third Mindfulness Training: "Sexual Responsibility"
Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I vow to cultivate responsibility and learn ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without love and a long-term commitment. To preserve the happiness of myself and others, I am determined to respect my commitments and the commitments of others. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to protect couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct.

The Fourth Mindfulness Training: "Deep Listening and Loving Speech"
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I vow to cultivate loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I vow to learn to speak truthfully with words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or the community to break. I will make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.

The Fifth Mindfulness Training: "Mindful Compassion"
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I vow to cultivate good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I vow to ingest only items that preserve peace, well-being, and joy in my body, in my consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family and society. I am determined not to use alcohol or any other intoxicant or to ingest food or other items that contain toxins, such as certain TV programs, magazines, books, films, and conversations. I am aware that to damage my body or my consciousness with these poisons is to betray my ancestors, my parents, my society, and future generations. I will work to transform violence, fear, anger, and confusion in myself and in society by practicing a diet for myself and for society. I understand that a proper diet is crucial for self-transformation and for the transformation of society.

These Five Mindfulness Trainings are taken from, "Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames" by Thich Nhat Hanh. I highly recommend locating and reading this fine book about getting along in the world. I hope very much that each and all of you enjoy feeling what is possible in these teachings. You might want to share this blog entry with others you care about, even copying and pasting and printing them out for yourself and those close to you to read when you feel it's time for a reminder.