Now that I have touched on the vicious cycle of stress and food, I think it is necessary to address the cycle of our relationships, stress and exercise. Just like it can be really difficult to alleviate stress when we are forcing our bodies to digest foods that are below par, it is a real challenge to make exercise a regular part of our lives if we do not have high quality relationships. On the other end of the continuum, our relationships can suffer greatly if we are not moving our bodies in a way that cleans and heals it. Food is the most important starting point when turning your life around but exercise is a very close second. If one approaches exercise properly, begins by tackling the imbalances in their body and progressing toward expressing that beautiful chemistry into movement: the results can be truly amazing. It is a balanced and grounded place from which our spirits are nurtured and the source of all being can move through us.
Inevitably, there will be interferences. Life always seems to get in the way. That is why it is so important to follow the process with seriousness. No flashy or ego soothing diet plans. No miracle cures. It takes time and a serious desire to slow down. Think a moment on all of the maladies with our current society. Most of our problems stem from greed and short attention spans. That is why the focus on breathing in yoga is such a direct path to focus. One cannot focus on your breathing and be hurried at the same time. Our breath is like our heartbeat but has a very subtle difference. We cannot focus on our heart beats and do something about them. We can focus on our breath. It is tool we have been given for correcting our imbalances. We should be focusing on our breathing as often as we can. When exercising, our breathing picks up speed and volume capacity. We breath more oxygen into our bodies and the flow of energy is nourished. Lingering stresses are washed away and we are recharged with a whole host of oxygenated cells. We can go about our days and nights with a sense of calm that encourages healthy relationships. Remember, we begin with ourselves and work our way out. If we are not taking good care of ourselves, we are not doing anyone else the justice we are designed to do. Some interferences we can ignore and eliminate. Others we cannot: like I cannot just stop being a parent because my children need me, right? The point here is that the interferences are either worthwhile or not. We can see which they are more clearly when we are in our own sphere of health. We are more focused on what is worthy of our time and what is not when we are clear. An example of a bad interference is a television show. If it is something that is a very small part of our life and we do not rely on it for winding down at night or use it to distract us from our thoughts, it can be a nice moment to enjoy whatever the show is expressing. It is important to stay grounded and focused on yourself, though, especially with this type of interference, because it can easily support addiction, checking out, mindless munching or lack of interaction in our relationships.
When we are taking good care of ourselves we tend to be more receptive to reading people who are good for us and those who are toxic. If this idea is new to you, promise to yourself today that you will not allow toxic people into your sphere anymore. And if you have toxic people in your life currently, it is time to rethink how you interact. Do not allow them to cloud your sphere. The more you focus on yourself and the nourishment of your personal world the better you will be to those around you.
It can be extremely difficult to start focusing on ourselves and allow our full potential to blossom when the people in our lives expect something very different from us. Their confusion and emotions will manifest themselves in many different types of actions, whether they be direct or subtle manipulative actions and words: they have nothing to do with you. It is time to allow our spirits through and to let them shine. With relationships comes fear. We are so afraid to lose people and equally afraid of losing ourselves in the process. Who are we? We are infinitely more powerful and talented than we give ourselves credit for. The world we live in does very little to nurture that in us because it is being driven by greed.
Another challenge with regards to relationships is that we can easily slip into a dependence on a person who we attach our emotional insecurities to during our journey. This can be an instructor, trainer or workout partner. We become comfortable with this person and do not want to stretch our boundaries and try something new. This is a dangerous prospect. While it is good to foster relationships with those who support our efforts, it is equally important to make sure the foundation is within ourselves and we have a genuine practice that is our own. I find support in all kinds of people but I am the only one who can keep the waters calm and remain present in my practice.
One example of a person who is healthy in my life is one of my yoga instructors, Rama. I barely know him but he inspires me and makes me comfortable in learning how to better express myself through yoga. One thing that he does that I love so much is to say now and then, “Its okay to smile during yoga. You do not have to be so serious. In fact, it opens your passage a bit so more oxygen can flow.” I just love that and I think of him sometimes during the day and just smile for no particular reason: I just do it on purpose. As Phyllis Diller once said, “A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.” But I do not rely on Rama. I do not become attached to him. I still take classes with other instructors that do not inspire me in the special way that Rama does and I learn from them too. It rounds out my learning.
It is time to eat well, move your body and find room to express yourself fully. Find that room in the space and gaps of life that you find yourself thinking negatively or incessantly. Instead of watching the television or reading a rag magazine, go for a walk or do some light stretching and let your body encourage your spirit rather than containing it miserably. Love yourself. Love the people in your life for they are a gift, whether it be obvious or hidden: love them. The best way to truly love them is to be the best expression of yourself as you can muster. Now we can continue learning how to avoid cancer developing in our bodies! Until the next post:
Love and light,