No Escaping It: "I Am That"

Looking into the mirror at myself just earlier, I gasped aloud. Large black smudges under both eyes, stringy and frazzled hair, tired eyes and skin imperfections. But, before I knew it the girl in the mirror was smiling at me, and I felt the tension in my body let go. It was okay. I know her…

There’s no escaping it. I write and I write and I write. My fingers on the right start to feel crippled and numb, but it doesn’t stop me. I’m not sure what drives me. I’ve been after that answer for years. But, I know that my heart aches to know it. That my mind dreams about it. And that by giving my full self into everything I do, fostering love in myself and striving to understand the incomprehensible – this fills my heart and gives me more wealth and fulfillment than I’ve ever known.


2015-09-17 15.50.25-1
“I am THAT!” – Instagram
Looking into the mirror at myself just earlier, I gasped aloud. Large black smudges under both eyes, stringy and frazzled hair, tired eyes and skin imperfections. But, before I knew it the girl in the mirror was smiling at me, and I felt the tension in my body let go. It was okay. I know her…

“I am That” will sometimes pop into my mind while catching a glimpse of my own reflection. It’s a phrase often referenced in classical theological discourse and is even alluded to in the popular Hindi mantra: Om Namah Shivaya. I like its simplicity, and its resonance on some unknowable level. And so it’s stuck.

“I am That” has become an unexpected reassurance that I have not, until now, fully acknowledged. It arises from a place in me where I guess that intuition, pre-cognitive dreams, and strange meditative experiences come from. It’s not posed as a suggestion when it pops into my brain, but as a forceful assurance. There is no reason to worry. “I am That.”

I am so blessed – with education, good health, family and friends; I am so lucky to be born into a wonderful family who taught me how to be authentic in life above all else; I am so powerful for having made it this far, for having chased a dream and allowed myself to find love and be loved along the way. “I am That,” and that is ever changing. But, there are also parts of me that have never changed and will never change – and from that place, I’m glad to have a reminder that I am here, present, and ever-evolving. This means forgiving yourself, enjoying every moment, and loving with every ounce of yourself while you have the time, the energy, and the power to give. “I am That.” Something pure and forgiven. Innocent and all knowing. I am that.

It sounds crazy, like something you’d overhear two old ladies discuss after church. But really it just means allowing yourself to move on, rather than clinging and obsessing over past mistakes, embarrassing moments, or bad interviews. It means having the courage to be authentic, to wear what you want when you want, to go where you want when you want (if I hear one more person say: “I’m too fat for yoga”…) , to live compassionately, to always give the benefit of the doubt, to welcome your neighbors and befriend your enemies, to life in a way that represents you, that you’re proud of, and that enables you to give your time, resources or energy back to those in need.

I’m not reading from a textbook or quoting last night’s lecture. There is no specific way of going and no certain outcome. Each path is unique, and after a five year journey from Copley Square Bikram to LMU, I have learned that I know very, very little; except that: “I am That.” And, since life is so short, I strive to live as fully and as best as I can.

I am thankful to yoga for giving me many paths to choose – different schools, ideas, and ways of thinking to explore – and for giving me many tools – mantra, yoga /asana, meditation, mala beads, freeform expression. Some I learned through reading, but others through exploring and moving within my personal practice. Thank you for the ability to practice as I please, to move freely, and to eventually gain the power stop judging myself.

This is what it means to live in yoga (to me). Without any assignment to religious denomination, political party or economic status; anyone can be healthy, engaged, and happy – but it comes with a price. It demands opening your mind and giving in, or rather seriously “letting go.”

When I moved to Los Angeles two years ago, I had a strong ego and a very specific list of priorities. (And I was fucking killing it, if I do say so myself…) But, sometimes, when we allow things to ruin our plans the best things can finally happen to us.

******************************************

Today, I’m also pleased to launch AYearInYoga.com!!! Be sure to check out my new and improved (inter)face 😉

I have a while to go before I get it where I want it to be – including more classes, workshops, and events scheduled, and videos, techniques and practices to share! I am so appreciative of having you along for the journey! It inspires me to know that there are other strong, intelligent, courageous people (particularly women, woo woo!) who are willing to learn, strive and expand in the name of yoga. In the meantime, don’t forget to bookmark me, share with loved ones & friends, and check in every now and again to see what I’m up to!

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Stay tuned! Sending love always,

xx Amy

// Photo Cred: Thank you Matt Annese for capturing so many amazing photo ops! @ Big Sur, Halloween 2015

No Escaping It: “I Am That”

Looking into the mirror at myself just earlier, I gasped aloud. Large black smudges under both eyes, stringy and frazzled hair, tired eyes and skin imperfections. But, before I knew it the girl in the mirror was smiling at me, and I felt the tension in my body let go. It was okay. I know her…

There’s no escaping it. I write and I write and I write. My fingers on the right start to feel crippled and numb, but it doesn’t stop me. I’m not sure what drives me. I’ve been after that answer for years. But, I know that my heart aches to know it. That my mind dreams about it. And that by giving my full self into everything I do, fostering love in myself and striving to understand the incomprehensible – this fills my heart and gives me more wealth and fulfillment than I’ve ever known.


2015-09-17 15.50.25-1
“I am THAT!” – Instagram
Looking into the mirror at myself just earlier, I gasped aloud. Large black smudges under both eyes, stringy and frazzled hair, tired eyes and skin imperfections. But, before I knew it the girl in the mirror was smiling at me, and I felt the tension in my body let go. It was okay. I know her…

“I am That” will sometimes pop into my mind while catching a glimpse of my own reflection. It’s a phrase often referenced in classical theological discourse and is even alluded to in the popular Hindi mantra: Om Namah Shivaya. I like its simplicity, and its resonance on some unknowable level. And so it’s stuck.

“I am That” has become an unexpected reassurance that I have not, until now, fully acknowledged. It arises from a place in me where I guess that intuition, pre-cognitive dreams, and strange meditative experiences come from. It’s not posed as a suggestion when it pops into my brain, but as a forceful assurance. There is no reason to worry. “I am That.”

I am so blessed – with education, good health, family and friends; I am so lucky to be born into a wonderful family who taught me how to be authentic in life above all else; I am so powerful for having made it this far, for having chased a dream and allowed myself to find love and be loved along the way. “I am That,” and that is ever changing. But, there are also parts of me that have never changed and will never change – and from that place, I’m glad to have a reminder that I am here, present, and ever-evolving. This means forgiving yourself, enjoying every moment, and loving with every ounce of yourself while you have the time, the energy, and the power to give. “I am That.” Something pure and forgiven. Innocent and all knowing. I am that.

It sounds crazy, like something you’d overhear two old ladies discuss after church. But really it just means allowing yourself to move on, rather than clinging and obsessing over past mistakes, embarrassing moments, or bad interviews. It means having the courage to be authentic, to wear what you want when you want, to go where you want when you want (if I hear one more person say: “I’m too fat for yoga”…) , to live compassionately, to always give the benefit of the doubt, to welcome your neighbors and befriend your enemies, to life in a way that represents you, that you’re proud of, and that enables you to give your time, resources or energy back to those in need.

I’m not reading from a textbook or quoting last night’s lecture. There is no specific way of going and no certain outcome. Each path is unique, and after a five year journey from Copley Square Bikram to LMU, I have learned that I know very, very little; except that: “I am That.” And, since life is so short, I strive to live as fully and as best as I can.

I am thankful to yoga for giving me many paths to choose – different schools, ideas, and ways of thinking to explore – and for giving me many tools – mantra, yoga /asana, meditation, mala beads, freeform expression. Some I learned through reading, but others through exploring and moving within my personal practice. Thank you for the ability to practice as I please, to move freely, and to eventually gain the power stop judging myself.

This is what it means to live in yoga (to me). Without any assignment to religious denomination, political party or economic status; anyone can be healthy, engaged, and happy – but it comes with a price. It demands opening your mind and giving in, or rather seriously “letting go.”

When I moved to Los Angeles two years ago, I had a strong ego and a very specific list of priorities. (And I was fucking killing it, if I do say so myself…) But, sometimes, when we allow things to ruin our plans the best things can finally happen to us.

******************************************

Today, I’m also pleased to launch AYearInYoga.com!!! Be sure to check out my new and improved (inter)face 😉

I have a while to go before I get it where I want it to be – including more classes, workshops, and events scheduled, and videos, techniques and practices to share! I am so appreciative of having you along for the journey! It inspires me to know that there are other strong, intelligent, courageous people (particularly women, woo woo!) who are willing to learn, strive and expand in the name of yoga. In the meantime, don’t forget to bookmark me, share with loved ones & friends, and check in every now and again to see what I’m up to!

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Stay tuned! Sending love always,

xx Amy

// Photo Cred: Thank you Matt Annese for capturing so many amazing photo ops! @ Big Sur, Halloween 2015

Ommm, Whatcha' Say? Exploring the Benefits & Basic Physiology of Mantra

Japa yoga. Singing, chanting, recitation. Bhakti yoga, kirtan. Vibrational ecstasy, collective consciousness, energetic purification. Mantra.

It was never my intent to become a mantra celebrating yogini when I left my round-the-clock corporate job to promote individual growth and wellness through yoga. Where does mantra fit into all this? You mean the weird, indigenous, unintelligible ramblings put to India melodies and Bollywood films? Why would I need to do that?

Those were my thoughts on the first day of my 200 hour yoga teacher training, when I realized that mantra, or japa yoga, was substantially embedded in our eight-week program. Group chanting sessions for 30 minutes, or over an hour at a time in seated meditation; the experience stirred within me an unfamiliar sensation I can only explain as “energetic” or “vibrational” in a very tangible sense. Like recognizing the presence of static electricity manipulating our clothing or the tingling sensation when a hand or limb falls asleep, conversations concerning “energy” or the “subtle body” in yoga are generally referencing a quite tangible presence of an internal energy – comparable with an understanding of the nervous and endocrine systems in Western anatomy – that is roused through the processes of asana, pranayama and meditation, simply by sitting in stillness. Through this process, further catalyzed by one’s control and slowing down of the breath (particularly, the practice of elongating the exhale to twice the length of inhalation), one can feel an internal tingling sensation accompanied by a clear, yet thoughtless bliss. As generations and centuries of ancient texts support (including the oldest found texts in the world, from India as early as 1500 B.C., and the proliferation of “mindfulness” and yoga in contemporary Western society), there is something to be said for practicing this way. Perhaps even something fundamental, physiological, psychological and/or atomically energetic (thereby linking the study of quantum physics to yoga, as well) to be said about yoga, that we have yet to understand or discover as Westerners exploring this tradition.

This conversation is important because, after countless lectures and workshops suggesting the use of mantra for concentration during meditation and to fight anxiety and depression (a hereditary gene in our family), I finally gave in. After much initial resistance to the “eclecticism” or “unusualness” of the sounds and language of mantra, I finally gave way to an understanding of mantra as similar to a church hymn, an album of nature songs, and a global ritual traditions, all wrapped into one. How is that possible? For me, mantra reinforces an inexplicable notion of unity; because, although you may not understand the words, your body eventually feels or experiences the music in ways I never thought possible. It’s not “magical” or even “mystical” necessarily, but mantra inspires and opens one’s creative capacities to help embody feelings of love, compassion and unity, or “oneness.” This occurs through the vibrational, energetic genius of the Sanskrit language (similar to modern Hindi, as Latin is to English). Although Sanskrit it currently a “dead language,” primarily learned and referenced for textual translation (especially in Yoga Studies), the language and grammar itself is arranged to stimulate one’s energetic body (Anandamaya kosa), or in Western terms, mantra stimulates the atoms and molecules within our bodily system to provoke a range of responses on a deep, intrinsic level; often associated as a natural reaction of one’s nervous system. In this way, different mantras may manifest different feelings or sensations based on the language and grammar used, to stimulate your body’s system accordingly. While in India, we were graced with a lecture by Dr. Manju Jain, who currently serves as an international expert and resource in scientists’ exploration of the potential for mantra to heal incurable diseases and aid those with severe mental and physical diagnoses in a highly medical context.

My journey in mantra has been sloppy, inconsistent and hideously flat (referring to my own melodic attempts), but as I continue with renewed zeal and curiosity I better understand how mantra is also referred to as one’s “heart song.” During difficult and stressful times – recently, while cleaning tuna and mac and cheese out of a youngster’s hair, sitting in traffic, suffering through class (we all have our days…), or proactively warding off stress as I feel it building in my throat and stomach – it’s helpful in the moment to know that mantra is always with me. It’s a consistent place of centering, of calm, of peace. (Hey, why not make your favorite slow song your own personal mantra. It’s whatever works for you! Yoga is THE no judgment zone.) You see, when you’re recalling a mantra you can’t also be thinking – this is a physiological response, as your thoughts must cease in order to regain control of your breath (as simple as: inhale/exhale). And so, by interrupting our train of thought and briefly introducing a melody and vibration associated with happiness, calm, patience, and peace, I can better and more quickly draw out these same attributes in myself, for the benefit of myself and many, many unsuspecting others.

If you’d like, try reciting a mantra while holding onto a single bead of your mala. (Search for your local mystic bookstore (why not, right?) or check online, here and elsewhere!) Rotate through the beads to recite your daily/regular mantra, an auspicious 108 times. When you reach the final bead or tassel, it is custom to take a moment to thank the teachers who help you on your way, past and present. Cultivate gratitude, cultivate joy, cultivate love, and it will come right back to you. No kidding. I shit you not.

Google is a wealth of information on the ideas I’ve discussed here, as well as free You Tube videos and guides to different mantras you might explore. The key to choosing your own mantra is simply finding one that feels good and resonates with you, and then sticking to it. This means not switching to a different mantra or dropping off the practice altogether, but trying to recall your mantra in recitation as least once a day, while in seated meditation is ideal. Even 5 or 10 min a day will have a noticeable impact on your daily patience, attitude, and curiosity. Progress and experience only comes with practice.

Over time I’ve found myself opting out of some of my old guilty habits or stressful impulses (such as: overeating, getting angry, or feeling frustrated or stressed, to name a few), and instead have found some kind of solace and comfort in a familiar, happy song, that might just also alter my body and my brain to keep this feeling coming all day, everyday. Whatever mantra has begun for me, I look forward to exploring it further, and of course, sharing my journey with all of you.

Thanks for reading, for asking questions and for seeking out new ways of thinking during a very troubled time in our country and our world. Even in moments of perceived stress, grief and suffering, there is relaxation and happiness available to us. (Really, it’s true! Although, it takes time and practice…) Although mantra may not be the way for everyone, it’s just another “tool in your toolbox” for self-regulating your emotional and mental being, and finding calm and happiness today – I mean in this moment, right now. As other yogis have passed on to me, I am so grateful for the opportunity to share japa yoga with others.

Here is my current practice, which you might consider taking on yourself or adapting to your own style and vibration.

No matter your path, may you find happiness and be greeted with love all along the way! (It’s important to remember, we’re all in this together. There’s no harm in rooting for the other team; when we build community, it only enhances the experience.)

Peace, peace, peace.

Om Shanti Om,

Amy xx

————————————————-

Regular Practice & Resources:

(inhale)
(exhale): OM MANI PADME HUM
(inhale)
(exhale): OM MANI PADME HUM
(inhale)
(exhale): OM MANI PADME HUM

[to the melody of Deva Premal’s recitation, here)
*Start by sitting in a seated position and singing along just for the length of the song. Repeat, repeat, repeat (even when you don’t feel like it), repeat, repeat, repeat – and see what happens.

  • The same pattern can be applied to others:“Om” (Sacred Syllable, most fundamental sound/vibration of the body)
    “Ram” (Sacred Syllable and chakra seed sound, represents “God,” or generally “the Divine” in this context)
    “Om Shanti” (“Peace”)
    “Om Namah Shivaya Gurave” (“The spirit of all also lies within me” – loose personal translation)
    The Seven Chakra Seed Syllables (Bija Mantra): “Lam Vam Ram Yam Ham Om”
    Gayatri Mantra (See Google & You Tube video)
    Namokar Maha Mantra (See Google & You Tube video)
  • Artists to follow:Krishna Das (Mantra, Kirtan)
    Deva Primal (Mantra)
    Falguni (Pandora station, instrumental only)
    Maneesh De Moor (Nature/Instrumental only)
    Bon Iver (Not mantra, but my favorite Pandora station for at-home asana)Photo Cred: http://elinatrance.com/

Ommm, Whatcha’ Say? Exploring the Benefits & Basic Physiology of Mantra

Japa yoga. Singing, chanting, recitation. Bhakti yoga, kirtan. Vibrational ecstasy, collective consciousness, energetic purification. Mantra.

It was never my intent to become a mantra celebrating yogini when I left my round-the-clock corporate job to promote individual growth and wellness through yoga. Where does mantra fit into all this? You mean the weird, indigenous, unintelligible ramblings put to India melodies and Bollywood films? Why would I need to do that?

Those were my thoughts on the first day of my 200 hour yoga teacher training, when I realized that mantra, or japa yoga, was substantially embedded in our eight-week program. Group chanting sessions for 30 minutes, or over an hour at a time in seated meditation; the experience stirred within me an unfamiliar sensation I can only explain as “energetic” or “vibrational” in a very tangible sense. Like recognizing the presence of static electricity manipulating our clothing or the tingling sensation when a hand or limb falls asleep, conversations concerning “energy” or the “subtle body” in yoga are generally referencing a quite tangible presence of an internal energy – comparable with an understanding of the nervous and endocrine systems in Western anatomy – that is roused through the processes of asana, pranayama and meditation, simply by sitting in stillness. Through this process, further catalyzed by one’s control and slowing down of the breath (particularly, the practice of elongating the exhale to twice the length of inhalation), one can feel an internal tingling sensation accompanied by a clear, yet thoughtless bliss. As generations and centuries of ancient texts support (including the oldest found texts in the world, from India as early as 1500 B.C., and the proliferation of “mindfulness” and yoga in contemporary Western society), there is something to be said for practicing this way. Perhaps even something fundamental, physiological, psychological and/or atomically energetic (thereby linking the study of quantum physics to yoga, as well) to be said about yoga, that we have yet to understand or discover as Westerners exploring this tradition.

This conversation is important because, after countless lectures and workshops suggesting the use of mantra for concentration during meditation and to fight anxiety and depression (a hereditary gene in our family), I finally gave in. After much initial resistance to the “eclecticism” or “unusualness” of the sounds and language of mantra, I finally gave way to an understanding of mantra as similar to a church hymn, an album of nature songs, and a global ritual traditions, all wrapped into one. How is that possible? For me, mantra reinforces an inexplicable notion of unity; because, although you may not understand the words, your body eventually feels or experiences the music in ways I never thought possible. It’s not “magical” or even “mystical” necessarily, but mantra inspires and opens one’s creative capacities to help embody feelings of love, compassion and unity, or “oneness.” This occurs through the vibrational, energetic genius of the Sanskrit language (similar to modern Hindi, as Latin is to English). Although Sanskrit it currently a “dead language,” primarily learned and referenced for textual translation (especially in Yoga Studies), the language and grammar itself is arranged to stimulate one’s energetic body (Anandamaya kosa), or in Western terms, mantra stimulates the atoms and molecules within our bodily system to provoke a range of responses on a deep, intrinsic level; often associated as a natural reaction of one’s nervous system. In this way, different mantras may manifest different feelings or sensations based on the language and grammar used, to stimulate your body’s system accordingly. While in India, we were graced with a lecture by Dr. Manju Jain, who currently serves as an international expert and resource in scientists’ exploration of the potential for mantra to heal incurable diseases and aid those with severe mental and physical diagnoses in a highly medical context.

My journey in mantra has been sloppy, inconsistent and hideously flat (referring to my own melodic attempts), but as I continue with renewed zeal and curiosity I better understand how mantra is also referred to as one’s “heart song.” During difficult and stressful times – recently, while cleaning tuna and mac and cheese out of a youngster’s hair, sitting in traffic, suffering through class (we all have our days…), or proactively warding off stress as I feel it building in my throat and stomach – it’s helpful in the moment to know that mantra is always with me. It’s a consistent place of centering, of calm, of peace. (Hey, why not make your favorite slow song your own personal mantra. It’s whatever works for you! Yoga is THE no judgment zone.) You see, when you’re recalling a mantra you can’t also be thinking – this is a physiological response, as your thoughts must cease in order to regain control of your breath (as simple as: inhale/exhale). And so, by interrupting our train of thought and briefly introducing a melody and vibration associated with happiness, calm, patience, and peace, I can better and more quickly draw out these same attributes in myself, for the benefit of myself and many, many unsuspecting others.

If you’d like, try reciting a mantra while holding onto a single bead of your mala. (Search for your local mystic bookstore (why not, right?) or check online, here and elsewhere!) Rotate through the beads to recite your daily/regular mantra, an auspicious 108 times. When you reach the final bead or tassel, it is custom to take a moment to thank the teachers who help you on your way, past and present. Cultivate gratitude, cultivate joy, cultivate love, and it will come right back to you. No kidding. I shit you not.

Google is a wealth of information on the ideas I’ve discussed here, as well as free You Tube videos and guides to different mantras you might explore. The key to choosing your own mantra is simply finding one that feels good and resonates with you, and then sticking to it. This means not switching to a different mantra or dropping off the practice altogether, but trying to recall your mantra in recitation as least once a day, while in seated meditation is ideal. Even 5 or 10 min a day will have a noticeable impact on your daily patience, attitude, and curiosity. Progress and experience only comes with practice.

Over time I’ve found myself opting out of some of my old guilty habits or stressful impulses (such as: overeating, getting angry, or feeling frustrated or stressed, to name a few), and instead have found some kind of solace and comfort in a familiar, happy song, that might just also alter my body and my brain to keep this feeling coming all day, everyday. Whatever mantra has begun for me, I look forward to exploring it further, and of course, sharing my journey with all of you.

Thanks for reading, for asking questions and for seeking out new ways of thinking during a very troubled time in our country and our world. Even in moments of perceived stress, grief and suffering, there is relaxation and happiness available to us. (Really, it’s true! Although, it takes time and practice…) Although mantra may not be the way for everyone, it’s just another “tool in your toolbox” for self-regulating your emotional and mental being, and finding calm and happiness today – I mean in this moment, right now. As other yogis have passed on to me, I am so grateful for the opportunity to share japa yoga with others.

Here is my current practice, which you might consider taking on yourself or adapting to your own style and vibration.

No matter your path, may you find happiness and be greeted with love all along the way! (It’s important to remember, we’re all in this together. There’s no harm in rooting for the other team; when we build community, it only enhances the experience.)

Peace, peace, peace.

Om Shanti Om,

Amy xx

————————————————-

Regular Practice & Resources:

(inhale)
(exhale): OM MANI PADME HUM
(inhale)
(exhale): OM MANI PADME HUM
(inhale)
(exhale): OM MANI PADME HUM

[to the melody of Deva Premal’s recitation, here)
*Start by sitting in a seated position and singing along just for the length of the song. Repeat, repeat, repeat (even when you don’t feel like it), repeat, repeat, repeat – and see what happens.

  • The same pattern can be applied to others:“Om” (Sacred Syllable, most fundamental sound/vibration of the body)
    “Ram” (Sacred Syllable and chakra seed sound, represents “God,” or generally “the Divine” in this context)
    “Om Shanti” (“Peace”)
    “Om Namah Shivaya Gurave” (“The spirit of all also lies within me” – loose personal translation)
    The Seven Chakra Seed Syllables (Bija Mantra): “Lam Vam Ram Yam Ham Om”
    Gayatri Mantra (See Google & You Tube video)
    Namokar Maha Mantra (See Google & You Tube video)
  • Artists to follow:Krishna Das (Mantra, Kirtan)
    Deva Primal (Mantra)
    Falguni (Pandora station, instrumental only)
    Maneesh De Moor (Nature/Instrumental only)
    Bon Iver (Not mantra, but my favorite Pandora station for at-home asana)Photo Cred: http://elinatrance.com/

Living Yoga: A Tribute to India

Preparing myself for India, I anticipated change. Particularly, I imagined a life-changing, entirely radical moment of clarity. One that snaps you back down to Earth exactly where you need to be at that very moment. A transformational moment. Samyag drsti.*

But, of course, what we get is rarely what we want, and what we want is rarely what we really need. For me, India was an amazing experience. I learned so much about the world, Jainism and Indian culture, and even more about myself – my strengths and limitations. I learned that compassion can and should be inclusive toward all living things, even and especially Nature. I learned that I do well with heat and humidity, but am considerably bad at managing bugs and dirty streets (not entirely new knowledge). I learned a lot about my privilege as a caucasian American, not from a workshop or a round table discussion, but first-hand gazing out the car window into the desperate, withered faces of starving women and children in the streets. I learned that in the midst of chaos and hell (whatever that may be for you), it is still possible to smile, to shed light, to lend kindness, and to have faith. I learned that despite my studies and efforts in yoga and meditation, I still struggle to maintain peace in the chaos. In fact, I still have a long way to go.

India was stealthy in her approach, overwhelming my senses with new sights, scents, and sounds while my mind was consumed by an intensive course itinerary of lectures, temple visits and reading, reading, reading (six books in three weeks warrants the repetition). We spent our first two weeks at an ashram in New Delhi where we were greeted with warm smiles, tea & biscuits, and an impressive schedule of lectures and puja ceremonies for our full immersion in Jainist tradition. In contrast, our third week was marked by long, bumpy bus rides, too much Limica soda (for my unending “Delhi belly”) and countless hours gazing out at the expanse of Indian countryside in sleepless, silent reflection. There was so much to process, to take in, to debrief that I allowed my mind to wander. I found, and often still find, that my mind is consumed by incessant questions into the “why” for all of this – past, present and future: How did I get here? What are my goals? How can people live in these dire conditions and still embody such contentment and happiness? What can I learn from them? Is yoga the answer? What can I do to help? Am I doing enough? What is that man smiling about? Does he have a family he loves? Does he bear the responsibility to support them? What does he do? Where are they? I hope they’re smiling, too…**

I came back from India with many more questions than answers. Yet I’ve noticed (and am grateful) that, over the past year and particularly since my return, I’ve become more mindful and free to ask questions, to consider difference, and to explore new places with equanimity. The more open I allow my mind to become, questioning the basic ideas and norms I have always taken for granted, the more questions and freedom arise. So a year after I began this endeavor to chronicle my year in yoga, I feel in many ways that I know much less now than when I started. However discouraging it may sometimes feel, any Indian guru will tell you: Admitting you know nothing is the first step to true wisdom.

What I found in India was not samyag drsti, but instead was as much an experience of internalization, as it was an outward excursion. It was a passive process; my mind like a camera capturing each moment as it came with mindful awareness, acknowledging each moment’s value and relentless brevity. Practicing yoga for me in India wasn’t predominantly physical asana, but was a conscious effort in self-compassion and non-judgment as I sought balance between pushing beyond my limits and caring for myself. As I like to see it, India was the perfect culmination to a long and taxing process of change, accompanied and instigated by a newly emerging, intensive year in yoga studies. Learning, living and practicing yoga from and among dedicated yogis has undoubtedly changed me for the better by opening my eyes to all I still have left to learn: about myself, my connection to others, to the Earth and to the world around me.

In 21st Century Yoga: Culture, Politics & Practice (a recommended, easy read!), Chelsea Roff shares a short essay on her nearly lethal battle with anorexia and her experience with yoga. She says with beautiful concision:

“For so long, I’d come to my mat to run away from myself. Now I came to connect. I had to reconnect in order to thrive.”

For over six years, while indulging in and learning from yoga communities across two cities and three continents, yoga is my constant. Its purpose and form in my life is ever evolving, and yet it remains unconditional and devotedly focused on revealing my best self to the world, even and especially when I’ve given up on myself.

Sometimes my mat is my hideaway, and other times it’s my own slice of heaven, a sun-soaked temple on my bedroom floor. At times it’s a complicated relationship (when I find myself avoiding my mat, afraid of what I might face there), but it is always consistent, welcoming and one of deep, penetrating compassion. From this place, I’ve grown and continue on knowing that whatever I face in the future I can withstand with contentment and kindness in my heart. India reminded me of this fact, and of the importance of remaining humble and eternally eager to learn. To care for ourselves, others and the world around us, to live each day and each moment purposefully in seeking love and connection, this is living in yoga.

May you find a few moments of solitude today and everyday.

In love,

Amy

——-

*Translated literally from Sanskrit as “right insight.”
**Unfortunately, with a busy schedule in India I fell away from my regular meditation practice. ‘Sitting,’ though, is just the practice of observing your own incessant (and often disjoint) thoughts as they arise non-judgmentally and, over a period of time and daily practice, learning that you can control and quiet your own mind (and thereby reduce anxiety, stress, and signs of depression at their onset). I wonder how my trip to India might have been different if I had prioritized my practice…I won’t waste any valuable time or brain space mulling that over (it’s in the past!), but I know that I’m a brighter, better person when I sit for 10 min a day. (It has to be consistent/daily for your brain to catch on – Check out more on neuroplasticity here.) The free app Headspace is a great resource.

No Regrets: A Guide to Managing the Chaos

I’ve experienced quite a shift in the past few weeks. And from what I’ve heard from family, and especially friends – going through the same grad school grind or 40-hour funk – the feeling is mutual. Perhaps the New Year holiday isn’t such a pointless occasion. Maybe, something actually does happen worth celebrating; a shift into greater consciousness. Or, as it’s more likely be familiar as, a new perspective. Suddenly, we’re all asking: Where am I going? What am I doing this for? Is this really where I want to be?

A new year will do that to you. Just when you think you have it all figured out, and you’re in full-out holiday 2014 turn up mode. Routine strikes again, and we find ourselves asking: Why? Why do I do the things I do? Is this really what I want?

Doubts inevitably start sweeping in. And then you have a choice – continue doing what you’re doing, or change it. Well, unfortunately I’ve (pretty much always) opted for the path of most resistance. Change it. Or change something. Because, if you’re noticing there’s an issue – how can you go forward with it any other way?

After spending a good part of my holiday ‘break’ formulating my plan for change, I realized that all of my commitments (work, school, research) are important to me, and worth going after. There’s nothing I want to, or can change, at this point in time. And, I’ve also learned bailing isn’t always the answer. There’s always something to be learned and gained, even from the most difficult situations. Then, I came to an interesting thought: You can’t muscle through it. You can only breath through it.

I’d been pushing and pushing, and putting my head down and hoping for ‘the end.’ (Whatever that means…) I was muscling through it, and hoping that would be enough. But of course, my strategy didn’t sustain and despite my efforts, I couldn’t see the end of the tunnel. But, even in the worst situations, there’s always a light; a way to make it better for yourself. I’d been trying to muscle through it when I really needed to just stop and breath.

Distinguishing these moments, when you’re running out of gas and it’s time to switch gears, is the secret. It’s everything. Because, if you can keep your self in tact, you can do anything you want to do without feeling mysteriously (and overwhelmingly) exhausted, or stressed, or angry. For me, allowing myself to have downtime; to take care of myself (who knew a home manicure could feel so amazing?) and in turn, devoting myself back to the hustle; to stay true to the commitments I’ve already made, and be present to all the things I’m looking forward to this year. It’s an ongoing balance and it takes work. But, most importantly, this means ‘checking in’ (or as somatic psychologists call it: a body scan) – every day, as often as you can. How am I feeling? Am I thirsty or hungry? Tired or getting sick? Am I agitated or stressed? Am I angry or irritable? What can I do to take care of myself right now?

We’re used to – and good at – putting things off. Especially, when it comes to self-care. The last priority on our “To Do lists,” often are the items that involve taking care of ourselves. But, what good are we really after we reach our breaking point? I know when I was working a corporate job, this came before lunchtime. Last semester, it came even sooner. So naturally, you start to wonder: Why am I doing this?

I found it helpful to consider why I’d started instead. School or work is tough sometimes, sure. But it must be that the reasons why we’re there in the first place are far more worthy of consideration – the long-term vision, rather than the day-to-day grind. Now that the honeymoon period has ended, what’s your motivation?

Only you can answer that, and it’s for no one else to judge. It’s your life, and you should make it yours. No matter what position you find yourself in, there can always be a reason to get you through (especially, the tougher times) – be it personal, professional; trials, tribulations; learning, growing, sharing. If you allow yourself to believe there is a purpose for this place in this time, then you allow a feeling of forward movement and fulfillment to supersede. And if you check in with yourself, and put yourself first (for the benefit of everything and everyone that comes after), there’s only joy.

Whether you decide to muscle through it, or breath through it – only an attitude, a perspective changes simply by changing your focus. And, you control it. (Imagine that, in this crazy, scary world of ours…You ultimately have control.)

Like many I know, I’m off to a very busy and daunting 2015; but I’m optimistic. I’m taking one day at a time, and trying my best to be present when and where I am, in each moment. If these events, and people, jobs and classes are important enough to be part of my life, then I owe it to myself to be present for them. (Also, you can be sure this way: you’ll have no regrets.) We can choose when and how, and if we want to change. But ultimately, it’s all a matter of perspective.

Wishing you all the very best things a new year can bring, and all the joy that can possibly come along with it.

No Regrets,

Amy

Personal Photo: Meditation Retreat @ Benedict Canyon, Los Angeles, CA (January 17, 2015)

It’s Your Year

Last week, I discussed yoga as a process of becoming.

This past weekend, I was exposed to exactly the sort of setting where you would expect the winds of change to come sweeping through: Off the Mat, Into the World’s 4-Day Advanced Leadership Training in Ojai, CA – of all places, my favorite place.

It was there that I felt very aware of a newness to myself, my being. Who is this girl, so lucky to be attending this workshop in this beautiful place? Who has such a strong, intuitive (asana) practice? Who speaks so confidently of her experiences in politics and global affairs, which have prepared her for this discussion in social justice yoga? Sometimes our process of becoming isn’t so pretty – and more likely than not, you won’t even know it’s happening. It’s darkness; it’s bitterness, fear, angst, and frustration. But in the inevitable moments of light that follow, you can look back on yourself and how far you’ve come, and realize gratefully that that whole time, you were just becoming.

Today I changed the name of my blog (and Facebook page) to “A Year in Yoga.” I did this because it’s never really been about “my year,” as I created it of and for all of you. I created this blog as part of a greater vision – for peace (inside and out), for justice (in the form of our own tolerance, acceptance and harmony), for empowerment (in understanding our own unique capabilities, our gifts, and finding the strength to live in that light). I have been so moved and inspired by the many women – and few men – who have reached out in response to my posts over the past three months, and shared a bit of their process with me.

It is important that the name reflects the fullness of this collective effort; to cultivate greater virtue in our lives is “A Year in Yoga.”

I was moved – or rather, moved myself – into the yoga community, in search of conversations surrounding the difficult questions: How do we stop the fighting? The destruction? The war, the hurt, the suffering? If it is innate in us to care for one another, at least when residing in close proximity, how can we work towards extending this sense of responsibility and compassion to the global community? To come from a place of love and to admit you are a work in progress is to live in yoga. No asana required. (Despite our Western spin, yoga is not the same as asana, or physical yoga postures. Simply living life truthfully, with compassion, patience and mindfulness, is living in yoga.)

We are all always in a perpetual state of change, growth and evolution, although we rarely realize. Approaching life with this awareness has its perks. Nonjudgment of yourself and others (ahimsa) is a practice which requires conscious cultivation, but ultimately takes the pressure off; allowing us to be more patient and easy on ourselves, and to have greater empathy toward others in acknowledgement of whatever war they’re fighting (or challenges they’re facing) themselves. This means acknowledging that you and I are both enduring similar, however very distinct, journeys toward becoming whomever or whatever we are intended or going to be. Here, we can relax in knowing that we can’t have all the answers.

Imagine what it would mean for families, for communities, for countries, for the environment, for your children (present or future), if everyone in the world approached life with nonjudgment and compassion toward themselves and others. You and I can’t change the world, but (a much larger, global) we can. We starts in communities, with individuals. All over the world, people are increasing their awareness and acknowledgement of the necessity for sustainability, for the preservation of our Earth, for future generations. Every yoga practitioner, protest attendee, business owner, community leader and politician who supports this cause, is a single “I.” I urge you to consider how you’re contributing to the inevitable change, growth and evolution that is becoming all around us, and in you. It doesn’t have to be here or there, right wing or left wing, working or upper class – you are individual, and your process is different from theirs or mine. But bringing a greater consciousness, or mindfulness to your daily life – to be present in acknowledging the impact of our daily choices and accepting responsibility for the effects of our actions and thoughts – is what the world desperately needs. The world needs you and me, because if not us, then who?

You’ve inspired me with your stories of success and struggle, because however personal and distinct from my own, I too feel the heaviness life sometimes brings and don’t want anyone to ever have to stand in it alone. This is empathy. This is peace, however small. And (despite the cliché), it starts with you. It really does.

I dedicate this venture forward, to you. It’s your year (in yoga, or however you choose to live it). And it’s time to start asking, “Who am I becoming?”

Be present, and you’ll know. I look forward to seeing all that flourishes.

Unconditionally here,

Amy

It's Your Year

Last week, I discussed yoga as a process of becoming.

This past weekend, I was exposed to exactly the sort of setting where you would expect the winds of change to come sweeping through: Off the Mat, Into the World’s 4-Day Advanced Leadership Training in Ojai, CA – of all places, my favorite place.

It was there that I felt very aware of a newness to myself, my being. Who is this girl, so lucky to be attending this workshop in this beautiful place? Who has such a strong, intuitive (asana) practice? Who speaks so confidently of her experiences in politics and global affairs, which have prepared her for this discussion in social justice yoga? Sometimes our process of becoming isn’t so pretty – and more likely than not, you won’t even know it’s happening. It’s darkness; it’s bitterness, fear, angst, and frustration. But in the inevitable moments of light that follow, you can look back on yourself and how far you’ve come, and realize gratefully that that whole time, you were just becoming.

Today I changed the name of my blog (and Facebook page) to “A Year in Yoga.” I did this because it’s never really been about “my year,” as I created it of and for all of you. I created this blog as part of a greater vision – for peace (inside and out), for justice (in the form of our own tolerance, acceptance and harmony), for empowerment (in understanding our own unique capabilities, our gifts, and finding the strength to live in that light). I have been so moved and inspired by the many women – and few men – who have reached out in response to my posts over the past three months, and shared a bit of their process with me.

It is important that the name reflects the fullness of this collective effort; to cultivate greater virtue in our lives is “A Year in Yoga.”

I was moved – or rather, moved myself – into the yoga community, in search of conversations surrounding the difficult questions: How do we stop the fighting? The destruction? The war, the hurt, the suffering? If it is innate in us to care for one another, at least when residing in close proximity, how can we work towards extending this sense of responsibility and compassion to the global community? To come from a place of love and to admit you are a work in progress is to live in yoga. No asana required. (Despite our Western spin, yoga is not the same as asana, or physical yoga postures. Simply living life truthfully, with compassion, patience and mindfulness, is living in yoga.)

We are all always in a perpetual state of change, growth and evolution, although we rarely realize. Approaching life with this awareness has its perks. Nonjudgment of yourself and others (ahimsa) is a practice which requires conscious cultivation, but ultimately takes the pressure off; allowing us to be more patient and easy on ourselves, and to have greater empathy toward others in acknowledgement of whatever war they’re fighting (or challenges they’re facing) themselves. This means acknowledging that you and I are both enduring similar, however very distinct, journeys toward becoming whomever or whatever we are intended or going to be. Here, we can relax in knowing that we can’t have all the answers.

Imagine what it would mean for families, for communities, for countries, for the environment, for your children (present or future), if everyone in the world approached life with nonjudgment and compassion toward themselves and others. You and I can’t change the world, but (a much larger, global) we can. We starts in communities, with individuals. All over the world, people are increasing their awareness and acknowledgement of the necessity for sustainability, for the preservation of our Earth, for future generations. Every yoga practitioner, protest attendee, business owner, community leader and politician who supports this cause, is a single “I.” I urge you to consider how you’re contributing to the inevitable change, growth and evolution that is becoming all around us, and in you. It doesn’t have to be here or there, right wing or left wing, working or upper class – you are individual, and your process is different from theirs or mine. But bringing a greater consciousness, or mindfulness to your daily life – to be present in acknowledging the impact of our daily choices and accepting responsibility for the effects of our actions and thoughts – is what the world desperately needs. The world needs you and me, because if not us, then who?

You’ve inspired me with your stories of success and struggle, because however personal and distinct from my own, I too feel the heaviness life sometimes brings and don’t want anyone to ever have to stand in it alone. This is empathy. This is peace, however small. And (despite the cliché), it starts with you. It really does.

I dedicate this venture forward, to you. It’s your year (in yoga, or however you choose to live it). And it’s time to start asking, “Who am I becoming?”

Be present, and you’ll know. I look forward to seeing all that flourishes.

Unconditionally here,

Amy

Discovering Your Genius(!)

“To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men – that is genius. Speak your latent [inner] conviction, and it shall be the universal sense [agreed upon by all].” 

I have the pleasure – and honor – of crafting a comparison for my Foundations of Yoga Studies midterm essay, between Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay Self Reliance (introduction referenced above) and the Katha Upanishad,* one of the “principal thirteen” Upanishads which include many essays and poems written by ancient Vedic priests, and is one of the initial documented forms of yoga dating back to ~ 1st century B.C.E. I chose this topic because, remembering an experience in middle school when I was first exposed to Emerson’s Self Reliance (or more accurately, an “Ah-ha” moment), I recall telling people afterwards that it was my “favorite book” (embarrassing) – But, to tell the truth, I don’t remember a thing about it. I’ve heard of comparisons between Vedic [ancient yogic] philosophy and Transcendentalism – i.e. 19th century C.E. Thoreau (Walden) and Emerson (Nature, Self-Reliance) – so why not take the opportunity to revisit an old favorite?

A favorite verse from Self-Reliance, and one that I think aptly captures the key similarities between Transcendental and Yogic philosophy, is:

“To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men – that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense.”

Although I have an obvious bias – really, more of a crush on – well-crafted rhetorical persuasion as a student of politics, something about these words resonates with me on a deep and profound level. And, as Emerson states above, he would bet that this resonance has the potential to strike everyone the same way, as “is true for all men,” we’re innately and equally capable of harnessing our inner “genius” (or in yoga philosophy: your personal truth or [big-S] Self). “Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense.” I read this as a command – and think it should end with the proper exclamation(!). With Emerson toting a blue-ribboned ponytail and GW-type swag, balking back on his horse, I imagine him saying, perhaps with a megaphone: “Go forth! And be, unapologetically, you!” Trust your gut! He says. It sounds so simple, but its difficulty is revealed when we take a moment to sincerely consider how we are (what we think, do, say) on a daily basis. Going through the motions of work, school, homework, meetings and travel – it’s easy to get swept away with the current and fall into a routine. But, when you pay closer attention to your interactions and thoughts throughout the day, how many times do you say something or agree with something simply out of habit or ease? (When in truth, it may have been in opposition with your true “gut.” That’s alright, we all do it!) It’s easier, even habitual at times, to “just get through” the day. But if nothing else, it’s interesting to consider how we might be inadvertently stifling our own voice, and succumbing to negativity in this process. Emerson’s advice: Trust Thyself.  Find your genius in the genuine. Or the modern adapted version: Go forth and be fabulous!

Our thoughts are powerful. Last week, I provided some insights into the “Yoga & Neuroscience” and want to share another related concept. For every negative thought we hear or think, it takes five positive thoughts to get back to normal/neutral from the resulting mood imbalance – just like momentary depression. This is scientifically proven as an evolutionary survival reflex, and is referred to as our innate “negativity bias.” (More on negativity bias here.) I mentioned last week, that thoughts – according to neuroscientists – are actually a group of connected neurons in the brain, that together form a single thought or idea. Repetition of the same idea or thought over-and-over strengthens this connection, so the more often we think (or say) something, the more likely we are to think it again. Considering this, and considering how much – scientifically speaking – a single negative thought brings us down, it’s apparent that its advantageous for our well-being to pay attention to what’s going on in our noggin. When we start to recognize our own internal “negativity bias,” we can begin to change our thoughts from a predominantly negative to a positive spin, or worldview. And, the good news is, just as negative thoughts strengthen and recur with repetition, so do positive thoughts. (All thoughts follow this rule – What have you been thinking about a lot lately?)

“To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all men – that is genius. Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be the universal sense.” 

Trust yourself (and treat yourself)! Be open to hearing yourself out and making yourself heard. Stay positive, especially when it’s difficult, because you’re creating a path to follow in the future. And seeking what’s easy is understandable, but living your truth is genius! (Just sayin’…) This is also, living in yoga.

Emerson has inspired my week, having set the intention to live by his motto: “Trust thyself.” In recalling the negative thoughts which have occupied my mind lately, it’s clear that my own doubt and fear (the antithesis of trust) are most at fault. Once we get passed this depressing duo, or overcome our negativity bias, how many more positive thoughts will we think? How happy can we be? I intend to find out. What’s your intention this week?

With love,
Amy

———–

*Katha Upanishad (pronounced in Sanskrit: “Kat-a,” like Immanuel Kant without the “n”)

In case you want more on negativity bias:

– Dr. Rick Hanson discusses the neuropsychological basis for “Confronting the Negativity Bias” as an evolutionary survival tactic, and how to overcome it.

– Check out this NY Times article which discusses the importance and benefits of overcoming your “negativity bias,” and its impact at work and in your everyday life.

^ Excerpt: “The more you’re able to move your attention to what makes you feel good, the more capacity you’ll have to manage whatever was making you feel bad in the first place. Emotions are contagious, for better or worse. It’s your choice.”

Photo Credit: Personal photo of a surf(bill)board outside a cafe in the Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica.

The Missing Link: Yoga & Neuroscience

This weekend, I found the “missing link.” As part of LMU’s Masters in Yoga Studies curriculum, there is a pre/co-requisite to enroll in one of several certificate programs. I was excited to enroll in the pilot year of “Yoga, Mindfulness and Social Change,” which features renowned speakers from all over the country with varying expertise within the field. This weekend’s topic was “Yoga & Neuroscience,” and although I’ve always been intrigued (perhaps hereditarily) by psychology and sociology, I was taken aback and truly blown away by the evidence modern neuroscience provides of the true benefits of yoga.

As you might remember, my hope and mission in this program is to discern the socioeconomic benefits of yoga, within a global context. This interest came about through years of courses and hands-on experience in sociology, communications, media relations, cultural studies and international affairs, through which I developed a deep-seated interest in what makes people think the way they do – both as individuals, and as a collective society. Academically speaking, my pursuit is an exploration of individual ideological formation (aka consciousness), as well as of institutionalized methodologies of ideological pervasion. While in college, I was blessed with unique opportunities: to study the pervasion of local culture through public and mainstream media in Australia; to explore (and publish a manuscript on) gender disparity in Latin America as it relates to pervading machismo attitudes and state-controlled transmission of democratic ideals (see “About Me”); and, after college, to work for several years in politics and government affairs for non-profit and private, small and large organizations – to better understand what makes us and others, especially those in “power,” think the way they do. And, (surprisingly to me as well) this journey has led me to yoga studies. Mounting evidence supports my personal belief that yoga, over all other modalities, has the greatest potential to positively reform individual and collective ideology – thereby helping us live happily and helping communities live peacefully, everywhere. Imagine that.

This weekend, I attended two five-hour lectures on “Yoga & Neuroscience” by leading neuroscientists in consciousness formation (see “Lecture Credit” below), and soon found that scientific evidence already supports that yoga, meditation and mindfulness practices stimulate and even grow the part of the brain responsible for processing feelings of compassion, empathy, altruism, interconnectedness and happiness – otherwise known as the “neocortex.” Specifically, I learned that practices such as yoga and meditation, as well as Tai Chi and nature activities, help stimulate the brain’s neuroplasticity, or its capability to grow and reshape itself through the movement and connection of neurons. (More simply, neuroplasticity states that the brain is not a fixed form, but is in fact adaptable.) As a result, these practices in particular have been proven to expand and increase activation of the neocortex and overall brain capacity, as well as physically enlarge areas that promote feelings of empathy, compassion and altruism – collectively called our “emphatic response.”

However nice this all sounds, it may feel a bit displaced, as our society currently embodies a paradigm – or pervading ideology – which disproportionately emphasizes the “reptilian” brain, or the part of the brain responsible for primal instincts, basic survival needs, ego and competition, rather than cooperation. Many practitioners and professionals (and scientists) who have been imparted with this knowledge also believe that we [the human race] are in the midst of an evolutionary shift towards global cooperation. More candidly, they articulate a resounding belief that mankind must either learn to cooperate and live harmoniously with one another and with Nature, or fall victim to the harsh realities of disconnectivity and competition (i.e. global warming) for generations to come. As such, we notice widespread discontentment and rebellion in the form of protests, political stalemate and corruption, and civil war around the world and in the States, at levels unprecedented since the last major paradigm shift occurred in the 17th century (following the Industrial Revolution). It’s worthy to note my own belief on this issue is still evolving as I gather more information, and I encourage you also to ask the hard questions and think critically about this and all information you hear about the future of our planet. But, I do believe strongly in the agency and power of individuals to incite change in themselves, and in the world around them; be it on Capitol Hill, in the classroom, or on their yoga mat. And I hope to continue to explore the empirical evidence available now, and that yet to be discovered, which enables us to better understand how yoga, meditation and mindfulness practices benefit you and me, and (why not…) the rest of the world.

On that note, I’d like to dedicate a thought (or several) in recognition and gratitude of Mother Nature and the vast resources and opportunities she provides us: as humans, as Westerners, as yogis, as wilderness explorers, or from whatever perspective most resonates with you. It can be something as simple as a sunset, or as vast as the algorithms of consciousness and science we seek to understand. In solidarity, give thanks!

Peace – Shalom – Om Shanti,

Amy

Videos to Watch:

The Empathic Civilisation (10 minutes: 30 seconds)

How Meditation Works: For Beginners (2 minutes: 50 seconds)

Lecture Credit:

Dr. Jay Kumar (9/27/14)

Dr. Louis Cozolino (9/28/14)

Photo Credit:

Sunrise in the Outback, Alice Springs, Australia (Personal Photo, July 2009)