concious living

The Force is with You

 The mind is fallible. More and more this is being proven by science. Biases and cognitions which enable the mind to think quickly also disable the mind from thinking logically, rationally, and with accuracy. This is not all the time, but probably, most of the time.

            Many spiritual teachings speak to the fallibility of the mind. This is fascinating in many ways as most spiritual schools have been around for centuries and these scientific discoveries that prove the value of their teachings have only come about in recent decades. For example;

Yoga Sutra 1:8 Viparyayo Mithyananam Atadrupa Pratistham

Misconception occurs when knowledge of something is not based upon its true form.

            A simple explanation of this Sutra is to consider a time when you saw a figure in the dark that looked like a person looming creepily in the shadows. In fear perhaps you recoiled, asked someone else to awake and go look at it, grabbed something to protect yourself with, and then hid. I have done this. Then perhaps you or the someone whom you awoke turned on a light only to find it was a coat hanging just the right way with a hat and shadows dancing to create the illusion of danger. This is an exaggerated example but I think you get the picture.

            In the world of psychology and behavioral economics cognitive biases are the realms of thought that lead to deviations from good and rational judgement, i.e. lead to misconceptions. The list of currently known and confirmed cognitive biases is too long to include here, but is easy enough to research on your own if you are interested. What is interesting about this research is the evidence that it is a part of the neural wiring of the brain to make jumps that lead to error. Even more interesting is the capacity of the brain to become aware of error and reset its course to clarity.

            This is where yoga or any mindfulness practice comes in. A consistent and committed pursuit toward more mindfulness and therefore away from failures or missteps of cognition can and will lead to less misconceptions. Patanjali's sutras recommend eight steps toward this goal.

  1. Yama :  Ways of being with community
  2. Niyama :  Ways of being with self
  3. Hatha Yoga :  Asana
  4. Pranayama :  Breathing exercises, and control of prana
  5. Pratyahara :  Control or withdrawal of the senses
  6. Dharana :  Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
  7. Dhyana :  Devotion, Meditation
  8. Samadhi :  Union with the Divine/ Ultimate Liberation

            The pursuit of step eight as well as the course set by all eight steps aw a journey away from misconception and disabling cognitive biases is a life long, or even multi-lifelong journey. How many successes you achieve, or how many times you misstep along the way are easy distractions, yet not the ultimate goal. The ultimate goal is to know yourself. To know you are human and therefore fallible and imperfect, and to also know that in the company of your imperfections you are also Divine and perfect. To live in this world of paradox, misconception, and unanswered questions, and to find peace in the midst of torrent that is life. This is the ultimate aim as well as the gift of the work. 

With Love, always, in all ways, for giving, in joy!

Genevieve

Begin It Now

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Most anything we begin, we begin with a purpose in mind and then over time that purpose evolves and changes. Perhaps because what we set out to do was accomplished. Or because desire and/or motives changed. Dedicated practice of anything can be like this, starting in one place and leading down the road to a completely new destination then the one originally intended. Yoga is especially so. It is common in the west to think of yoga only as exercise, which it absolutely can be depending on ones intentions and pursuits. Over time however, one may find oneself in a challenging yoga class, sweating profusely, not necessarily enjoying themselves and asking, “Why am I doing this?” This kind of question begins a deeper kind of practice, a practice of more than exercise, a practice that invites one deeply into the contemplative journey and satisfaction of ones heart.  When we finally start to ask ourselves questions like Am I really happy?nAm I really satisfied? Am I really doing the best I can do? And then truly allow ourselves to answer these questions honestly, personal desires, intentions, and motives change. A natural byproduct of this kind of honest self-reflection and assessment is an metamorphosis of all the behaviors in our lives.

It is foolish for any of us to expect ourselves not to change, for change is truly the only thing we can ultimately count on in this world. Where foolishness can become wisdom is inviting ourselves into a framework for change in which we can measure the efficacy of our practices. Yoga is a system in which we can do just that, a type of cocoon for deliberate metamorphosis. Of course one way to measure the efficacy of a yoga practice is by acknowledging the change in tone of muscles and the skill level of poses. However, a far more satisfying way to measure ones efforts is in the our reflections in the quality of our relationships.  The level of overall satisfaction in our lives. Our accountability and our honesty with ourselves and others. A willingness to hand over our desires to a power greater than our own ego's. Where we set our intention, is where we focus our attention, and eventually becomes the point of connection. Naturally as life changes our intentions change, and with committed and mindful focus we deepen the connection to our unconditional hearts, our spaciousness of spirit, our resilient being-ness, and the web of connection that unites us all. 

Goethe said, "Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back-- Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now." 

Whatever the goal is, set it. Trust that you have all you need right now to attain your goal. Return daily. Measure your efficacy in your committed practice, and know that if and when your goals, motives, intentions, or desires change, it is a blessed by-product of your persistent journey. A reflection of your inner wisdom. A gift of your constant effort. And a door to your ultimate contentment and peace. 

 With Love, Always, In All Ways, For Giving,

Genevieve

Loosing the Battle, Winning the War

Over the years of my life my morning routine has varied greatly. For years it was necessary for me to have a coffee and a smoke before doing anything else in order to meet the day, and people in it, with an inner sense of calm and outer display of good nature. Though there are many reasons to say this is a poor way to start the day, it worked for me for a very long time. Yet, like all other things, I have changed and so has my morning routine. Now rather than coffee and a smoke, I prefer meditation and writing. What hasn’t changed though is the fact that if I don’t, for whatever reason, get to my morning routine before other things call on my attention, I lean toward intense irritation and discontent. Before, when nicotine was a part of the equation it was easy to blame my poor state of mind on a chemical imbalance, now, not so much. Now, the only person to blame is me, and the only one responsible for making it better is also me. Knowing that I am easily irritated when I don’t attend to my morning rituals I do my best to give myself ample time to do so even if it means getting up at “ungodly hours” as my husband says. It for me is an empowering practice of discipline and my way of “winning my daily private victory.” But life does not always abide so politely to my plans and my best efforts. This is why I have my practices and return to them with discipline, because there will always come a day, if not many, when I am faced with the ugliness of my own inner discontent, and the true battle of righting my way toward inner peace and ease will really begin.

Today was the kind of day I do my best to not have. The morning began with demands that required my attention and were more important than “winning my daily victory.” Having integrity to the meeting of and attending to my responsibilities is a cornerstone in my personal philosophy, and therefore off to the gamut of other tasks I went. As the morning unrolled, I snapped at my husband, spilled my coffee, and observed that most of my thoughts were criticisms and complaints. In the observation of myself I had a significant moment not only of self awareness, but also of payoff for all the work I have done to be aware of myself, in such a way and I realized that the only one who had control of my irritation was me. The circumstances of my irritation were far out of my control, but the way I choose to respond to them was within reach. Finding my way to a more spacious state of perception and feeling was not instantaneous, however, as I click the keys on this keyboard I acknowledge that I am much less irritated, and far more pleasant to be around as a result.

Life is full of choices, we often perceive the choices that will make us happy as the big ones, like who to marry, what job to take or car to buy, or where to live, when in fact it’s really the little choices we make that have the biggest effects on our lives. Choosing to “win our private daily victories” such as meditation practice, yoga practice, spiritual study, writing and creative ventures, meeting responsibility with integrity, living in unconditional love, these choices may seem minor in the eye of the simple bystander, however over time, these little victories become the artillery that enables us to win the battle of our happy lives and live in more inner satisfaction, fulfillment, and peace more of the time.

Today I lost the little battle of my little victory, but I won the war against inner discontent, and it only took about an hour. As a result, I offer to you that this year as you set your resolutions, may you set them with little victories in mind. What can you attain today that may benefit you down the road when your plans fall apart and life arrives? Through the discipline of your return you will find freedom when you least expect it.

Blessings and best wishes in the New Year,

With Love, Always, in All Ways, For Giving, In Joy,

Genevieve