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Mental Health Solutions for Seniors.

Humans are social beings that seek other humans from the moment they are born all the way to their senior years. Here are 6 tips for improving social integration and mental health as we grow older. 

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Humans are social beings that seek other humans from the moment they are born all the way to their senior years. However, it can be quite hard to maintain a rich social life once you get older—you’re retired and separated from your work colleagues, your physical condition stops you from participating in sports events and some of your old friends might not be with you anymore.  All this can lead to depression – that’s why it so important to have a rich social life all through your life. Here are 6 tips for improving social integration and mental health as we grow older. 

 

Say Hi to People

Being outgoing and friendly to people is a guaranteed road to happiness and a rich social circle. So, don’t hesitate to be open to new friendships and casual acquaintances. For instance, next time you go out to throw away the trash, take a look around the neighborhood. Do you see a friendly person you didn’t get a chance to talk to yet? Go say hi! And, next time you go to the farmer’s market, say hi to some regulars you’ve seen before. Some of them might be looking for new friends too and would love to grab a cup of coffee sometime.

 

Get Moving

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One of the easiest ways to maintain your social life and stay mentally healthy is to get moving! Regular exercise brings so many amazing benefits with it—it keeps you fit, improves sleep, builds stamina, reduces falls and relieves stress and depression. Additionally, if you take up an activity that requires teams or groups, you’ll get to meet new people! You can go as easy as taking a walk around the neighborhood to going to the gym, depending on your physical health. For instance, yoga is always a great choice because it has many levels of difficulty, involves groups and it keeps your body and mind active. Yoga also improves flexibility and balance, which are quite important for seniors.

 

Move to an assisted living facility

Even though it can be a very difficult decision to make, moving to an assisted living community is a great way to have a rich and active social life, especially for those seniors with complex care needs, dementia or young onset dementia. Living in aged care facilities can be an amazing experience that provides its users with freedom and independence to socialize, move and have fun AND it gives them professional assistance every time they require it! It’s a real micro-community!

 

Learn to use technology

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Computers sound like a dirty word to some seniors and they don’t want to have anything to do with them. However, once you overcome the initial shock and learn how to work the basics, you’ll see how many things you can do on that thing—the best being social networks! Joining Facebook is a great way to get in touch with old friends and distant family members and meet new people. Additionally, if dating is what you’re looking for, you must know that there are many senior dating services online!

Take a cooking class

Taking a cooking class is really a win-win situation: you’ll eat more healthy food AND meet new people. If you just recently realized you need to boost your cooking skills, find a local cooking class and you’ll meet many different people. Chat about food, tastes and your favorite meals. And, once the class is over, invite your new friends for dinner to show off what you’ve learned.

Play brain games

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Mental stimulation is a great way to stay in top shape, but doing crosswords alone is not the only way to boost brain activity. Join a chess club, go to bingo nights, organize game nights with friends (charades is a great way to activate both the body and the brain) or try reading to children. All of these will keep your brain sharp and provide you with social contact.

All of these social activities will provide you with more energy, reduce stress and depression, give you better appetite and better sleep and improve your general quality of life. So, go out there, get engaged and you’ll be much happier and even healthier!


CHLOE TAYLOR is an art historian and recreational ballet dancer. Her biggest dream is to travel the whole world and take stunning photographs of beautiful places. She also enjoys learning and writing about home design, since she is crazy about aesthetics. She is a regular contributor to Smooth Decorator

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Mental Health in the Workplace: How to Use Meditation to Ease Depression.

Brain scans done on meditators learning mindfulness have shown that they have decreased activity in the amygdala (a part of the brain associated with stress and anxiety) when exposed to negative thoughts.

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I first began studying and reading about meditation in the late 1970’s. At that time everything I read focused on meditation as a practice rooted in spiritual philosophy and the practice was centered on the attainment of mystical experience. I began practicing and found that it worked.

That was nearly 40 years ago. These days meditation and mindfulness have both been found useful not only for the attainment of enlightenment but also for performance enhancement, stress reduction and managing depression.

Mystical teachings lay out a simple and straightforward plan for using meditation as a pathway to enlightenment. Meditation is also a fast, easy way to clear the clutter of your mind, still your thoughts and reduce stress.  It works.

Enlightenment can take a lifetime. Stress reduction can happen in minutes. And even a few sessions of meditation can work wonders.

 

How Meditation Works

Brain scans done on meditators learning mindfulness have shown that they have decreased activity in the amygdala (a part of the brain associated with stress and anxiety) when exposed to negative thoughts.  Meditators were better able to notice negative thoughts without responding to them by getting upset or anxious.

Research has shown that adding mindfulness practice to treatment plans can help reduce the recurrence of chronic depression.  Mindfulness has also been successfully used to augment treatment of a variety of mental health issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, addiction, and others.

Depression is the leading cause of disability affecting some 7% of the population. The challenge of calming our minds can be daunting especially when dealing with depression. One of the first steps is acknowledging that we need to start.

 

Depression in the Workplace

Researchers also have measured far higher incidences of depression among entrepreneurs. In the San Francisco Bay Area, home to Silicon Valley and a highly successful talent pool of entrepreneurs, the 2-Minute Mind Check now encourages employees to take a short, mental health survey that measures where you stand on the depression scale. This initiative, organized by the ADAANAMI-SFWeWork, and Meru Health, also offers free resources to help employees manage those symptoms. 

 

 

Websites like PYO.yoga offer dozens of meditation exercises with guided visualizations and imagery (on a pay as you wish basis). Meditation apps like InsightTimer and Calm are available which allow you to learn and practice meditation in the comfort of your own home. You can also check online in your local area for meditation classes.

My journey of learning meditation was helped immensely by meeting and practicing with those who knew how to meditate. Seek out local teachers.  There are also many books available on the subject. The writings of Jon Kabat Zinn are highly recommended as he was a pioneer in identifying many of the health benefits of meditation.

 

Sujantra McKeever is the founder of Pilgrimage of the Heart Yoga in San Diego, which serves over 1,000 yogis a week, and also helped create Pilgrimage Yoga Online. He is the author of five books on eastern philosophy, success and meditation. Sujantra studied meditation with spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy and has lectured on meditation and yoga in over 30 countries.

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These Are The Best Methods of Self-Care.

In a world frequently flooded with the hustle and bustle of daily life, it’s so important to prioritize self-care…

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By Breanne Fleat

In a world frequently flooded with the hustle and bustle of daily life, it’s so important to prioritize self-care.

There are many ways to practice self-care. It can be as simple as making time for relaxation or hobbies, or we can take a more active approach by incorporating exercise into our daily routines. Personally, I enjoy using spirituality as a method of self-care. I don’t mean this in the religious sense; for me, spirituality is something that connects me with my center, or the core of my being.

If that sounds vague or farfetched, it actually has a strong basis in reality! What I’m actually doing is building a strong foundation of support, so that I’m able to replenish my energy and keep a strong baseline of happiness throughout my days. My three favorite activities for this type of self-care are yoga, meditation and mindfulness.

Yoga

Yoga doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated, especially when it comes to self-care. Whether it’s a full-length class or a few poses sprinkled here and there throughout the day, yoga has a way of awakening the body, addressing postural issues and reminding ourselves to take a deep breath when we need it.

I’m a big fan of Restorative Yoga, which focuses on healing and re-energizing the body. Some of my favorite practices incorporate downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Shvanasana), child’s pose (Balasana), standing forward fold (Uttanasana), and cobra (Bhujangasana).

Yoga teaches participants to relax and let things go, which is usually what first comes to mind about this practice. But it also does so much more. Yoga taught me to listen to my body and respect its limits, which in turn reminded me to be kind to myself. Yoga also showed me that I’m much stronger than I think I am – you’ll be amazed, too, when you pull off that handstand! Yoga works so well that it’s been proven to be of great use in the workplace to deal with stress and heal the aches and pains from sitting all day!

Yoga’s list of benefits is long. The regular practice of body postures (asana) and breathing (pranayama), coupled with meditation, has an almost too-long list of physiological, psychological, and biochemical effects, even when compared to normal exercise. You can check out the full list of the plus points of these practices here.

Meditation

Meditation is the practice of training the mind to notice its conditioned patterns and belief systems. Surely, this is a big task, but it’s really as simple as sitting down and being quiet for five minutes. There are hundreds of meditation exercises, from silent sitting to repeating mantras to counting the breath.

As an example, a simple exercise would be to sit down in a quiet spot and close your eyes. Don’t control your breath in any way – only focus on how it moves your ribs, your chest, your shoulders, and the rest of your body. Start with just trying this for a minute, then gradually increase the time you spend on it. I find that meditation is especially helpful in managing stress and helping me relax and forget my worries.

On a broader scale, studies have proven that meditation is great for treating and helping anxiety, even after years of practicing it. In the long run, meditation also has tons of physiological benefits, including improving brain function and powering the immune system. It works so well that it’s an effective method for treating chronic pain.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is the act of becoming aware of our thoughts and feelings as they arise. This has a host of benefits, not the least of which is that it clears up personal confusion about our needs, beliefs and desires. Mindfulness is similar to meditation, but is meant to be practiced during the hustle and bustle of our daily lives, as opposed to being a formal scheduled practice.

We can even practice mindfulness in groups! In group settings (like a work environment), mindfulness is incredibly useful as it encourages communication, empathy, and innovation. That’s probably why it’s so good for business –mindfulness and social awareness are important for modern organizations and businesses.

Mindfulness is often considered the key to self-care, as it involves being completely present in the moment and promotes mind-body resilience. It’s great for grounding or preventing dissociation, and two separate studies have shown that it can prevent depression relapse (check them out here and here!). In addition, multiple studies have proven that mindfulness works, whether it’s by being an aid to mental health or to reduce stress and promote physical health.

It can be slow starting, but once you get the hang of it, it’s easier to keep the ball rolling and see positive effects in your life. I like to focus on maintaining a positive outlook on life and taking each day one moment at a time. It can do wonders for mental health and productivity!

There’s always time for self-care

These are three practices I do to make self-care a priority in my life.

At first it may seem like there isn’t even time in the day to fit it all in, but these practices are actually designed to increase productivity, energy level and overall health and happiness, meaning we’ll get things done faster and more efficiently. It may take a period of adjustment, but the benefits far outweigh the sacrifice.

Ultimately, I find that there’s always time for self-care.

 

BreanneBreanne Fleat is chief editor at ProteinPromo.com . Created in 2016, ProteinPromo is keen on providing readers with nutrition and wellness hints and tips to lead a happier, healthier, fitter life. Find her on:

Twitter @Protein_Promo

Instagram: @ProteinPromo

& Facebook: ProteinPromo

 

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Compassion

Compassion is an evolved state of being. Compassion is learned…

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“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”Plato

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness

“Our task must be to free ourselves… by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and it’s beauty.”Albert Einstein

“Compassion hurts. When you feel connected to everything, you also feel responsible for everything. And you cannot turn away. Your destiny is bound with the destinies of others. You must either learn to carry the Universe or be crushed by it. You must grow strong enough to love the world, yet empty enough to sit down at the same table with its worst horrors.”Andrew Boyd, Daily Afflictions: The Agony of Being Connected to Everything in the Universe

An Evolved State of Being

Compassion is an evolved state of being. Compassion is learned. Compassion is both a giving and a receiving. By adopting compassion as a trait, we evolve ourselves, our neighbors and communities, the world and the universe (all the same thing). Compassion is a trait that transcends all levels of enfoldment as we ascend the ladder of inclusion. Compassion is the trait that first lifts us from abject, animal barbarism. Compassion is a ‘heart quality’ and as I have written many times in the past, the heart can create more of any quality that you so desire.

Believe it or not, compassion is a trait handed down through the generations of the ‘lower’ animals, as well. Charles Darwin had some very interesting and profound thoughts on the topic. His theory of Natural Selection posits that traits beneficial to the survival of individuals get passed along to the future generations of the group, increasing the survival rate of the species. Traits not beneficial to the population get weeded out through attrition or extinction.

Survival of the Fittest

Did you know that Charles Darwin used, but did not coin the phrase, “Survival of the Fittest”? Herbert Spencer coined the phrase, principally to forward race and class distinctions. Darwin, in his volume, The Decent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex, posited that:

“In however complex a manner this feeling (sympathy, compassion) may have originated, as it is one of high importance to all those animals which aid and defend one another, it will have been increased through natural selection; for those communities which include the greatest number of the most sympathetic members, would flourish best, and rear the greatest number of offspring.”

And further, that “…this virtue (human concern for one another AND for lower animals), one of the noblest with which man is endowed, seems to arise incidentally from our sympathies becoming more tender and more widely diffused, until they extend to all sentient beings.”

Survival of the Kindest!

Darwin understood it as, “Survival of the Kindest!”

Cultivate compassion. Meditation helps. Meditation clears the mind of clutter so that heart qualities can manifest. As Plato said in the above quote, practice kindness… be kindness, “…for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.”

Note: Herbert Spencer’s phrase, ‘survival of the fittest’ becomes a more valid concept when the race and class distinctions are removed. However, one must realize that the compassionate component IS included in the survival equation; the more compassionate being is more fit to pass along to its offspring this and other evolutionary qualities, ensuring the survival of the group. Compassion is a quality, which is, “…increased through natural selection.”

Further, that evolution is more concerned with populations than it is with individuals. Groups separated by distance develop under the same principle (Natural Selection), while branching traits within disparate groups are particulars related to variables (environment, etc.).

Sources for further inquiry:

Modern Synthesis: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_synthesis

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Meditation Podcast E58: Being Mindful All Day Long

Sujantra provides tips and techniques for maintaining conscious awareness throughout the day…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 58: Being mindful all day long. Sujantra provides tips and techniques for maintaining conscious awareness throughout the day.

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Meditation Podcast E57: Nurturing Self-Love

Nurturing Self-love. Honoring your mind’s tranquility and your life’s purpose (dharma)…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 57: Nurturing Self-love. Honoring your mind’s tranquility and your life’s purpose (dharma).

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Meditation Podcast E56: Techniques for Transformation

Techniques for transformation. Learn to resolve issues and cultivate unique qualities…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 56: Meditation:Techniques for transformation. Learn to resolve issues and cultivate unique qualities.

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Meditation Podcast E55: The Power of Dreams

Meditation: The power of dreams. Focusing your awareness on your dreams and visions for your future…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 55: Meditation: The power of dreams. Focusing your awareness on your dreams and visions for your future.

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Meditation Podcast E54: Finding Self and Letting Go

Meditation: Finding Self and letting go…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 54: Meditation: Finding Self and letting go… Sujantra explores both dimensions of being.

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Meditation Podcast E51: Meditation: the sea of light.

Meditation. Dive into the sea of light…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 51: Meditation. Dive into the sea of light.

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Meditation Podcast E50: Consciousness

Consciousness. The thread that connects us to the universe…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 50: Consciousness. The thread that connects us to the universe.

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Meditation Podcast E49: Truth Alone Triumphs

Truth alone triumphs. Finding your truth in your heart…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 49: Truth alone triumphs. Finding your truth in your heart.

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Meditation Podcast E48: The Microcasm and Macrocasm

Discovering the similarities and differences between the microcosm and macrocosm…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 48: Discovering the similarities and differences between the microcosm and macrocosm.

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Meditation Podcast E47: Opening Your Heart Flower

Opening your heart flower. Sing and meditate for inner awareness…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 47: Opening your heart flower. Sing and meditate for inner awareness.

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Meditation Podcast E46: Peace in Every Human Life

Peace in every human life. Meditation on creating peace in your heart and life…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 46: Peace in every human life. Meditation on creating peace in your heart and life.

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Meditation Podcast E45: Find True Love Within and Without

Exploring the Heart. Find true love within and without…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 45: Exploring the Heart. Find true love within and without.

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Follow Your Heart

When I was a teenager I remember someone told me, ‘not to follow my heart.’ This person was…

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When I was a teenager I remember someone told me, ‘not to follow my heart.’ This person was talking about love relationships and how our unbridled passions can perhaps lead us down the wrong path. It struck me as funny then, and now, that we blame our hearts. I have always felt that my heart is the place where love and truth reside. Maybe this person should have told me, ‘not to follow my ego.’

Our Ego is Unbridled Passion

Our ego (mind/body) reacts to stimulation from our senses and then makes suggestions… powerful suggestions; do this, do that. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Our ego drives us to action. But our ego doesn’t care much whether the action is appropriate, or not. At times, our bodies scream at us to act: to buy this, to eat that, to drink this, to have indiscriminate sex, to create recklessly… At other times our ego compels us to NOT act; to resist growth, to be fearful of change, to doubt ourselves, to be uncompassionate, to be irresponsible…

Forested Road

The heart drives the discriminatory function. If you take the time to look, you will find that your heart knows what is truth, what is good, what is honorable, what is appropriate, what is love. The heart is the center of the will and the will is what ultimately controls the ego. Or it doesn’t. How many times have you cringed after some act that you knew you should not have done, but did it anyway? How many times have you thought, “I can’t believe I just did that?” How many times have you thought, “I can’t believe I’m still in this job” or “this situation?” You’ve ignored your heart.

‘The will is strong but the flesh is stronger…’ (Paraphrase from Bible, Matthew 26-41)

Look to your heart. Don’t be afraid. Be strong. Don’t give in to the tempting ego. Let your heart be your guide, literally! When I walk into a room the first thing I want people to perceive is my heart. Not my clothes, my car, my wallet, my personality…

Project Your Heart

We recently interviewed Aubry Wilcher, a social media phenomena about her incredible life change (Aubry Marie on InstaGram). She worked for Apple for about six years and had a promising career. But then she decided to take a leap and follow her heart-bridled passion, yoga and meditation. Her family and friends thought she was crazy. But her heart got a hold of the doubting, fear inducing ego. She quit her job and embarked on a new path. She now has over 200,000 InstaGram followers and is a leading ‘influencer’ in the yoga industry.

Her message: Don’t be afraid to quit what doesn’t serve your heart in this life. Do what your heart loves. Don’t be afraid to fail… keep trying and keep growing…

The seven deadly sins are all ego-driven. The seven virtues are all heart-driven. Our heart has the only power over the ego. Our heart knows truth, compassion and love. Our ego will ‘lie’ to us. Our ego will relentlessly steer us toward maya, illusion, to keep us from living our ‘heart’s desire. Don’t let this be you. Follow your heart!

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Philosophy Podcast E40 – Nurture Oneself

How to nurture oneself. Exploring dimensions ourselves through health and wellness…

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Explore the spiritual philosophy of India and see how it applies to your own life and situations. Host Sujantra McKeever of San Diego, CA, is the author of 5 books. He leads you on a journey to the East that ends up back in your own backyard. We hope you find an insight that truly hits home.

Ep 40 – How to nurture oneself. Exploring dimensions ourselves through health and wellness.

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Meditation Podcast E43 – Self Love

Learning to love oneself. Techniques for nurturing our deepest self…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 43 – Learning to love oneself. Techniques for nurturing our deepest self.

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Philosophy Podcast E39 – Study with a Spiritual Teacher

Study with a spiritual teacher. Exploring this unique relationship…

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Explore the spiritual philosophy of India and see how it applies to your own life and situations. Host Sujantra McKeever of San Diego, CA, is the author of 5 books. He leads you on a journey to the East that ends up back in your own backyard. We hope you find an insight that truly hits home.

Ep 39 – Study with a spiritual teacher. Exploring this unique relationship.

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Meditation Podcast E42 – Visualization Skills

Skills for the journey. Tools and techniques for empowering your inner journey with visualizations…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 42 – Skills for the journey. Tools and techniques for empowering your inner journey with visualizations.

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Philosophy Podcast E38 – The Mind the Subtle Realm

Attuning your mind to the subtle realm.

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Explore the spiritual philosophy of India and see how it applies to your own life and situations. Host Sujantra McKeever of San Diego, CA, is the author of 5 books. He leads you on a journey to the East that ends up back in your own backyard. We hope you find an insight that truly hits home.

Ep 38 – Attuning your mind to the subtle realm.

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Meditation Podcast E41 – Love of Self

Sujantra discusses techniques for reconnecting with love of self…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 41 – Sujantra discusses techniques for reconnecting with love of self.

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Philosophy Podcast E37 – What Matters Most

What is dearest to your heart? Exploring what matters most, and why. Let go of expectations…

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Explore the spiritual philosophy of India and see how it applies to your own life and situations. Host Sujantra McKeever of San Diego, CA, is the author of 5 books. He leads you on a journey to the East that ends up back in your own backyard. We hope you find an insight that truly hits home.

Ep 37 – What is dearest to your heart? Exploring what matters most, and why. Let go of expectations.

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Meditation Podcast E40 – The Mind

Sujantra discusses techniques on how to observe and value the mind…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 40 – Sujantra discusses techniques on how to observe and value the mind.

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Philosophy Podcast E36 – Exploring Why

Exploring Why – Looking for change in our attitude and circumstances…

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Explore the spiritual philosophy of India and see how it applies to your own life and situations. Host Sujantra McKeever of San Diego, CA, is the author of 5 books. He leads you on a journey to the East that ends up back in your own backyard. We hope you find an insight that truly hits home.

Ep 36 – Exploring Why – Looking for change in our attitude and circumstances.

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Meditation Podcast E39 – Cultivating Creativity

Cultivating Creativity – Visualizations for expanding creativity…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 39 – Cultivating Creativity – Visualizations for expanding creativity.

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Philosophy Podcast E35 – Death and the Sheaths of Life

Death and the Sheaths of life… Exploring the philosophy behind death and reincarnation…

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Explore the spiritual philosophy of India and see how it applies to your own life and situations. Host Sujantra McKeever of San Diego, CA, is the author of 5 books. He leads you on a journey to the East that ends up back in your own backyard. We hope you find an insight that truly hits home.

Ep 35 – Death and the Sheaths of life… Exploring the philosophy behind death and reincarnation.

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Meditation Podcast E38 – What Matters Most

What Matters Most: Tips and techniques for exploring what is closest to our hearts…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 38 – What Matters Most: Tips and techniques for exploring what is closest to our hearts.

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Philosophy Podcast E34 – Emerson’s Brahma

Join a philosophical exploration of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem, Brahma…

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Explore the spiritual philosophy of India and see how it applies to your own life and situations. Host Sujantra McKeever of San Diego, CA, is the author of 5 books. He leads you on a journey to the East that ends up back in your own backyard. We hope you find an insight that truly hits home.

Ep 34 – Join a philosophical exploration of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s poem, Brahma.

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Meditation Podcast E37 – Exploring Why

Journey along as we explore not HOW but Why we meditate…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 37 – Journey along as we explore not HOW but Why we meditate.

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Philosophy Podcast E33 – Ramayana – Rama’s First Great Challenge

Philosophic Discussion of the Indian Epic, Ramayana. Rama is called to his first great challenge…

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Explore the spiritual philosophy of India and see how it applies to your own life and situations. Host Sujantra McKeever of San Diego, CA, is the author of 5 books. He leads you on a journey to the East that ends up back in your own backyard. We hope you find an insight that truly hits home.

Ep 33 – Philosophic Discussion of the Indian Epic, Ramayana. Rama is called to his first great challenge…

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Meditation Podcast E36 – Breathe – Lao Tsu

Breath control and Lao Tzu. Exploring breathing techniques and the way of Tao…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 36 – Breath control and Lao Tzu. Exploring breathing techniques and the way of Tao.

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Philosophy Podcast E32 – Spiritual Teachers

Finding the Key to your Spiritual Journey…

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Explore the spiritual philosophy of India and see how it applies to your own life and situations. Host Sujantra McKeever of San Diego, CA, is the author of 5 books. He leads you on a journey to the East that ends up back in your own backyard. We hope you find an insight that truly hits home.

Ep 32 – Finding the Key to your Spiritual Journey.

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Meditation Podcast E35 – Creating a Meditation Space

Creating a Meditation Space – What are the key elements for your practice space, plus purity in meditation…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 35 – Creating a Meditation Space – What are the key elements for your practice space, plus purity in meditation.

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Philosophy Podcast E31 – Blake – Garden Of Love

William Blake’s ‘The Garden of Love.’…

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Explore the spiritual philosophy of India and see how it applies to your own life and situations. Host Sujantra McKeever of San Diego, CA, is the author of 5 books. He leads you on a journey to the East that ends up back in your own backyard. We hope you find an insight that truly hits home.

Ep 31 – William Blake’s ‘The Garden of Love.’

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Meditation Podcast E34 – Breathing Techniques

Breathing Techniques – Using your breath to find peace…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 34 – Breathing Techniques – Using your breath to find peace.

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Meditation Podcast E33 – Robert Blake Poem – Discovering your Lost Joy

Discovering your lost joy using a Robert Blake poem…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 33 – Discovering your lost joy using a Robert Blake poem.

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Philosophy Podcast E29 – Karma

Karma – Exploring cause and effect in our thoughts and actions…

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Explore the spiritual philosophy of India and see how it applies to your own life and situations. Host Sujantra McKeever of San Diego, CA, is the author of 5 books. He leads you on a journey to the East that ends up back in your own backyard. We hope you find an insight that truly hits home.

Ep 29 – Karma – Exploring cause and effect in our thoughts and actions.

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Meditation Podcast E32 – Finding Your Heart

Finding Your Heart – Sujantra explores Sri Chinmoy’s Writings on Meditation…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 32 – Finding Your Heart – Sujantra explores Sri Chinmoy’s Writings on Meditation.

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Philosophy Podcast E28 – Devotion: Plentitude

Devotion – Connect to the Inner Sun of Plentitude…

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Explore the spiritual philosophy of India and see how it applies to your own life and situations. Host Sujantra McKeever of San Diego, CA, is the author of 5 books. He leads you on a journey to the East that ends up back in your own backyard. We hope you find an insight that truly hits home.

Ep 28 – Devotion – Connect to the Inner Sun of Plentitude.

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Meditation Podcast E31 – Becoming Aware

Becoming Aware: Exploring awareness and accessing subtle dimensions of being.

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 31: Becoming Aware: Exploring awareness and accessing subtle dimensions of being.

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Philosophy Podcast E27 – Having Faith In Yourself

Having Faith In Yourself Is The Key To Spiritual Growth…

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Explore the spiritual philosophy of India and see how it applies to your own life and situations. Host Sujantra McKeever of San Diego, CA, is the author of 5 books. He leads you on a journey to the East that ends up back in your own backyard. We hope you find an insight that truly hits home.

Ep 27 – Having Faith In Yourself Is The Key To Spiritual Growth.

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Meditation Podcast E30 – Building Up Your Aspiration

Meditation techniques for increasing your hearts inner cry…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 30 – Meditation techniques for increasing your hearts inner cry.

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Removing the Cloud of Doubt

Our emotional and mental states, as well as our physical condition, all affect the way we breathe…

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Conscious Breathing

Yoga teaches us that mind, body, emotion and breath are all intertwined. Our emotional and mental states, as well as our physical condition, all affect the way we breathe. The good news is that it’s a two-way street. The way we breathe affects our emotional, mental and physical condition as well, so we can positively influence all three by conscious breathing. Being conscious is the key. Without conscious self-awareness, we’re powerless and at the mercy of internal and external conditions.

Of course, there are times when we gladly limit our self-awareness. Sometimes we decide, consciously or unconsciously, to turn our self-awareness off so we can mindlessly enjoy intense sensations; but we do this at great risk. Willfully subverting or disregarding our awareness can become a dangerous habit. Surprisingly, we often deal with suffering and pleasure in the same way. We willfully limit our awareness. Many use intoxicants or drugs, not only for physical and emotional pain, but for entertainment as well. We accept very limiting states of mind for the sake of intensifying or blocking sensations.

Flower Petals

We invoke mental and emotional states in much the same way, with or without the use of drugs. Self-pity, for instance, can be seen as an attempt to minimize or ‘normalize’ pain by rejecting hope and adopting a numbing concept of ‘fate.’ As an outside observer, it is easy to see how futile this approach is. It is more difficult when the process is internalized and we are observing ourselves; but the ability to be self-observant is our best defense against a host of dangers… if we know how to employ this skill.

Breathing is an autonomic function of the body. We breathe unconsciously but by becoming conscious of our breath and consciously practicing breath techniques, we can realize the great healing power of breath. The beauty of yoga is that through regular practice we grow, by a very natural and pleasant process, into greater states of self-awareness. Becoming aware of and learning to control the breath is one of the principal teachings of yoga. If you would like to explore the yogic science of conscious breath, you can follow this link to an introductory talk and some simple breath exercises: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrAEr8EiK64#t=18. With practice, you will be able to invoke positive mental and emotional states to replace negative ones, increase your enjoyment of life and alleviate much discomfort and suffering through conscious breathing.

Building Self-Confidence

My teacher, Sri Chinmoy once wrote this about the mind, “The function of the mind (in one’s spiritual practice) is to remove the cloud of doubt.” He went on to say “We all know that the mind plays an important role in our outer life as well as in our spiritual life. Therefore, we must not disregard the mind, rather what we should do is be always conscious of the mind.” So, we need to be conscious of our own thoughts and feelings, of our habits of thinking and a variety of other personal influences as well. This is self-awareness.

Sky 2

A critical practice for the development of self-awareness is meditation. When you’re sitting quietly and breathing calmly, you become aware of your mind’s movements and the factors that influence it. But don’t try to control your thoughts or stop thinking, just put a little distance between yourself and your thought processes. Being able to look at your thoughts objectively is a big first step toward deeper self-awareness. Regular meditation and conscious breathing will enable you to remove what Sri Chinmoy calls, “the cloud of doubt” from your life.

What is doubt? If we examine the word, we see that the word ‘doubt,’ like ‘darkness,’ refers to an absence of something rather than to a thing in itself. Darkness is the absence of light. Doubt is the absence of self-confidence or faith. Sri Chinmoy used to say faith in God and faith in oneself is the same faith. You cannot have faith in God if you lack confidence in yourself. To have faith in the meaning of your life is to have faith in God, regardless of how your mind defines or denies, perceives or fails to perceive, ‘God.’

Our life problem is not to discern between systems of belief, but to establish a deep and abiding confidence in ourselves. Faith-confidence nourishes and empowers; doubt starves and debilitates. Thus, Sri Chinmoy says the true purpose of the mind (like every other organ) is to strengthen and support the life force within us. The mind does this by removing self-doubt from our life.

One of the best health practices for the mind is allow it to relax and become quiet for brief periods of time. Hours of sleep do not provide all the rest the brain needs. The brain never attains a deep state of quietude in sleep. In skilled practitioners, a few minutes of meditation can do what hours of sleep cannot – deeply relax and refresh the mind. Unlike sleep, meditation requires practice but once this discipline has been established, we will realize the many benefits that come from regular meditation. One benefit will be the growth of self-knowledge and self-confidence as the ‘cloud of doubt’ is gradually removed from our lives.

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How to Deal with Irritability

My teacher, Sri Chinmoy, often spoke of five levels of consciousness: the physical consciousness, a vital consciousness…

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“True happiness lies in the finding and maintenance of a natural harmony of spirit, mind and body.” — Sri Aurobindo

Harmony for the Whole Being

My teacher, Sri Chinmoy, often spoke of five levels of consciousness: the physical consciousness, a vital consciousness, a psyche or heart consciousness, a mind consciousness and a soul consciousness. Recognizing these components of oneself can be very useful in our spiritual journey. One such time is when we feel the need to manage our inner life. By ‘managing’ I mean moderating or controlling thoughts, emotions and habitual behavior. A good way to approach the problem of negative habits is to ask ourselves from what consciousness does it arise? We may discover more than one consciousness is involved. For instance, irritability may arise in the physical consciousness due to discomfort of the body, in the vital consciousness due to repressed or over used energies, in the heart due to emotional failings or disappointments, or in the mind because of mental confusion. In the case of irritability, one place we can be sure it does not arise is in the soul consciousness, for the soul is that clear and flawless perception that is beyond human disturbances. It is the soul that recognizes a disturbance as something that needs correcting.

Floral Still

The Body

If we can identify the source of our irritability we can begin to effectively deal with it. Let us begin with the body consciousness. A common cause of irritability in the body is lethargy. The body is naturally lethargic, and when our lethargy is disturbed irritation arises. The way to control this common problem is to keep the body energized by regular exercise and a variety of different activities. That will minimize stagnation and lethargy in the body consciousness. A regular yoga practice can stabilize and bring a very peaceful and harmonious energy to the body consciousness.

The Vital

Exercise also keeps the vital consciousness fresh and flowing in a positive manner. The vital has a profound influence on both our physical and mental health. Recent research has shown that vigorous exercise may be the most effective medicine known to man, as it prevents or corrects a host of health issues. Exercise neutralizes anger, depression, and other negative energies that send the vital into a downward spiral, where frustration and irritability will be the inevitable result. It is important to understand that irritability is not always the result of outer causes. Vital stagnation and irritation can easily be caused by negative thoughts and emotions or by any unhealthy practice that has become habitual. 

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The Heart

As our vital energy goes, so goes our heart and mind, for they are closely tied to vital influences. The heart may faire a bit better than the mind under a negative influence, for the heart consciousness is more closely connected to the soul. It has an all-important counter-balance to disturbances arising in the lower nature. Still, the heart is not immune to negative influences. To be happy and in communion with others are fundamental desires of the heart. Self-giving is the essence of the heart consciousness. When we give of ourselves to others for the benefit of others, without expectation for self-gain, the heart is both gladdened and strengthened. The heart requires no elaborate medications or procedures, the simplest every day acts are what matter most to the heart.

The Mind

Sri Aurobindo referred to ‘vital-mind’ as the prevailing consciousness of our age. If we look at modern culture, we see ambition and desire gratification framed as the reward for being ‘smart.’ ‘Wisdom’ rarely enters the conversation, as the heart has been bypassed and almost forgotten in the ethic of our age. This, according to Sri Aurobindo, is a tragic mistake that could become fatal for the human race. Wisdom is a function of heart and mind in balance and working together. Ambition and desire are to the mind like sugar to a child. Unfortunately a heartless intelligence lacks both balance and wisdom. The vital-mind consciousness does not want to believe that true life satisfaction requires the mind to be in the service of the heart. To use ones intelligence in the service of selfless love and compassion is the best medicine for the mind. Another is to learn meditation. Meditation puts the vital-mind connection on hold and gives relief from the constant demands and expectations of the vital-mind consciousness. It brings a deeper and wiser perspective to our life.

The Soul

The soul consciousness is pervasive throughout the body, vital, mind and heart, but ironically it is imperceptible to physical awareness. So intangible is the soul, it is sometimes thought of as a ‘witness’ rather than a participant in our life. Spiritual masters, however, have assured us the soul can be realized and that it is the true and proper guide for our being. Even if soul awareness is for the moment beyond our ability, we can increase our awareness of the other four levels of consciousness and we can cultivate health and happiness through that awareness. Proper maintenance of body, vital, heart and mind are as essential to our happiness as happiness is to knowledge of the soul.

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Soften and Enjoy

You have hopefully heard it said many times that when we practice for ourselves we practice for…

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by Courtney Yezzi

You have hopefully heard it said many times that when we practice for ourselves we practice for the benefit of all beings. The effort, thought and energy we put into our practice first creates a positive impact on our life force and then goes out into the universe to create a positive impact on the world around us. Isn’t that amazing concept!?

Up the Vibration

If this is the case wouldn’t we want to practice next to the most positive, fluid thinking, relaxed, intelligent yogis in the room to catch that vibe first? Wouldn’t we want to be those yogis who exude life force energy and a peacefulness that UP’s the vibration in the room? Sure we all would and we all do want that for ourselves and want that for others. So how? Simply, let go and receive.

Relax and Receive

One thing I emphasis in my classes to help get into that flow state of UPing the vibe and generating positive life force is to soften. So many students come into the yoga room with very serious faces or rigid bodies ready for a good workout or to beat their overactive minds into submission for an hour. That tension and mindset can be palpable to others in the room and for sure is palpable to the formless spirit inside. When students are taking themselves too seriously in class I will ask that we all take a satisfying breath in and soften the outer form so the formlessness inside can start to move and enjoy itself. To allow the magical and medicinal properties of the asana practice to take over and move through us all. To allow the over tight, overworked and unnecessary tensors to relax and receive the potency of the practice.

Let Go

Many more of the magical benefits of asana will show up for us when we let go stop taking ourselves so seriously and soften ourselves to happiness and even silliness at times so energy can flow through us with ease. As much as asana is about concentration and meditation it is about enjoying to the fullest capacity the time you have set aside to befriend yourself and learn yourself anew. This is one way we can up our vibration and send it out into the world.

 

Courtney YezziCourtney Yezzi has taught at Pilgrimage since 2008. She teaches the full array of classes from our power classes to our gentle classes. She understands yoga as a tool on the great journey to self-awakening. Courtney is an inspired yogi who is constantly focusing on sharing her highest with her students.

“To my shining spirit and the shining spirits of others who I will meet on this path. May our hearts beat joyfully together as we journey forward.”

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Stepping Out of Our Unproductive Patterns with Meditation

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them…

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merry-go-round

Photo by Wonderlane, License.

 “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”—Albert Einstein

Meditation Lifts Us Out of Mental Patterns

This quote from Albert Einstein sums up the practice of meditation. We often get trapped on a merry-go-round of emotional or mental patterns. How do we use our mind and awareness to lift us out of our patterns?

It’s a challenge that I face every morning. I usually make some tea before I meditate, stretch a little bit, then I go sit down where I practice meditation and as soon as I sit down I start to think about all the things I am going to have to do that day. My mind automatically goes to thinking, projecting ahead, looking at issues and thinking of different approaches to challenges I face. There are times when 10-15 minutes go by and, although my intention was to practice concentration and meditation, I realize I have just been lost in thoughts. I am just going around and around in the same thinking patterns.

The Deluge of Thoughts

That’s when I realize I need to do something different. I need to do something other than focus on my own mind in order to pull me out of the deluge of thoughts. That is when I pick up a book of my teacher’s writings and start to read poems that he wrote. My teacher embarked on a project to write 77,000 poems and he passed away just as he had finished 50,000 in this series. They are short aphorisms or phrases that have a lot of content to them. They are nice strong statements about life challenges, spirituality, meditation, inner growth, the mind and the heart. I start to read those and after several of the poems I start to get out of my patterns and lift up to a higher dimension. Once I’m there, then I can begin my meditation.

Short Songs and Mantras

Another technique I use is singing. I either sing out load or mentally. At musical meditation each week we teach and practice short songs and mantras that are great for meditation.

candle

Another thing I often do if I find I am just drifting around in thought is a candle meditation. I have a candle that I light when I meditate and if I realize I am just going around and around in thought I will hold my eyes on the candle. This is a really effective way to calm the mind and halt thinking. Our eyes automatically move as we think but if you hold your eyes still, it’s a way to physically hold your mind. By concentrating on one thing it forces my mind to be still. Then I chant OM out loud so I can hear myself and bring my mind fully into the practice.

Challenges With My Mind Racing

Since we all have the same basic mental structure, I believe that everyone has to deal with something akin to my own difficulties in quieting the mind. You want to be sure that wherever you are sitting and practicing your meditation that you have a nice candle or flower you can use for visual concentration. It also is beneficial to read the writings from an illumined teacher so you can concentrate on writings that are sure to inspire and uplift your awareness. I have practiced meditation for over 35 years yet still daily face challenges with my mind racing. The difference between 35 years ago and now is that I now know I can pull out of those mental patterns, whereas 35 years ago I had no idea that there was a way out of my own thought patterns.

Opening Your Heart

Rising out of your patterns can also mean opening your heart or going into deeper transformative emotions such as compassion, gratitude and unconditional love.

In the practice of meditation it is important to have enough humility to reach out for that thread or lifeline that can lift you up, whether it’s a mantra, beautiful music, a candle or a flower. It’s imperative to realize that the same state of mind you’re in is not the state of mind that can move to a higher consciousness. You have to do something or allow something to happen to your mind by focusing on the mantra or a phrase or listening to music and to that adding a level of intensity as if your life depended on it.

desert_creek

Each time you move into that higher consciousness, assimilate the experience; impress it upon your awareness so you can remember what it feels like to be in an elevated mood. This will help you return there next time.

—Sujantra

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Philosophy Podcast E26: Karma

Explore the concept of Karma and how to negate ‘Bad Karma.’…

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Explore the spiritual philosophy of India and see how it applies to your own life and situations. Host Sujantra McKeever of San Diego, CA, is the author of 5 books. He leads you on a journey to the East that ends up back in your own backyard. We hope you find an insight that truly hits home.

Ep 26: Explore the concept of Karma and how to negate ‘Bad Karma.’

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Meditation Podcast E29: Devotion – Chanting Mantras

Join Sujantra and Ashirvad chanting ancient devotional mantras…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 29: Join Sujantra and Ashirvad chanting ancient devotional mantras.

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Simple Living, Through Simple Wakefulness

Lets face it, the act of waking up in the morning is not uncommonly experienced as an uncomfortable thing…

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by Greg Steorts

Lets face it, the act of waking up in the morning is not uncommonly experienced as an uncomfortable thing. Those among us who find it to be a generally easy thing to bounce out of bed like an energized toddler on Christmas morning, might be in the minority. But the form of ‘wakefulness’ this essay is about, is not actually the sort I reference above, though the above example serves as a fitting metaphor for the brand of wakefulness I’ll address here. ‘Wakefulness’ as I intend to mean it here, is being defined as a product or result of employing one’s own capacity for calm critical thinking, mindful observation and one’s own capacity to simply feel. While these may at first sound like simple things, a great many of us have allowed these capacities to atrophy in ourselves, to one degree or another, and I propose that modern culture in the developed world has become a key factor in the facilitating of our inability these days to simply stop and take occasional conscious notice of the otherwise unbroken chain of moments of which our lives are comprised.

Little Room for Individual Interpretation

We have become, in a very real sense, products of the culture in which we live; where dominant social and environmental prompts shape our general responses to the stimuli around us. The official definitions of things and how we’re ‘supposed’ to relate to them, is so often laid out for us in bold type and prominent voice, leaving little room for individual interpretation; at least the sort that might be granted mainstream credibility. Media input offers itself as a prime example of this. It masterfully short-circuits the individual’s own inclination to draw their own conclusions, both boldly and subtly laying-out the parameters within which the subject, article or position is being slickly sold to us. Culture’s architects, (e.g. Madison Avenue, all facets of mainstream media; peddlers of information, social memes and pop entertainments, et al), are best served by a populace that unquestioningly partakes of, and assimilates its manufactured concepts and wares with little to no consideration as to both the overtly and passively inferred philosophies or positions within which they are framed. Culture’s main thrust, after all, is to encourage us to climb onboard the ‘ride du jour,’ whatever it may be, for this is what keeps the wheels of industry rolling.

Disdain of Culture’s Offered Trends

The space of wakefulness I refer to here, and the appreciation for the simplicity it can ultimately spawn, is not one that requires any disdain of culture’s offered trends, products or promoted philosophies, but rather only the presence of mind to simply allow one’s conscious awareness in relationship to them, to reside within the deepest recesses of their own moment-to-moment space of feeling, independent of culture’s peddled stimuli, medications, and all manner of distractions and ‘anesthesias’ (figurative and literal) which serve to pull us away from our own sense of self within the hive society. The ‘simplicity through wakefulness’ I’m speaking of here, is one achieved by the act of simply being willing to unplug occasionally (or better yet, regularly) from culture’s ceaseless flow of stimulus, long enough to allow oneself to truly feel whatever it is that may lie beneath the stratums of content culture so eagerly fills our minds and heart space with. For many of us, even the notion of a ‘heart space’ may ring as something too esoteric to be meaningful, so long have we been disconnected from it by our longstanding immersions into the sensory stimulations to which I refer. The ceaseless and torrential flow of input has become a boisterous child that will not be ignored, we its negligent and enabling parents. Living in the ‘information age,’ as we now do, with technology and its devices serving as the virtual hub upon which our day-to-day lives spin, it has effectively served to dislocate us from a more visceral, human-to-human connection, from our own sense of individualism, as well as a lack of connection to oneself.

Meditators

Sitting Quietly with Do Distractions

No doubt about it, it is not fun to feel uncomfortable emotions, and it is always an easy thing to bury a low-current hum of discomfort with the distraction of a movie, a phone call, a video game, or to check-in with our online social network of choice to see how many people ‘like’ us. Sitting quietly with no distractions has become an alien concept for us, and the notion of simplicity too has become a thing of virtually no relevance. The rapid-fire images of TV programming, commercials and film content, have entrained our minds to overlook, even shun, the simple and uncomplicated, in favor of that which grabs attention with authority. It has become all too easy to look right past open spaces and the relevance of calm reflection. Take notice of how every television commercial and program utilizes an almost universal presentational format; a rapid-fire-flow of incessantly-shifting images. Gone is the camera’s lingering gaze upon the talking head or scenery. Instead we are confronted with flash-fire images that linger for no more than a second or two, and then make way for the next, and the next,… this is nothing less than mental entrainment, teaching us to expect and tolerate only quick sound bytes and millisecond images, to forego focused and prolonged attention on anything or anyone.

Instant Gratification and Perpetual Stimulus Now

We seek instant gratification and perpetual stimulus now, and if we have to spend even a few moments with ourselves and our deeper undercurrent of emotions in a space of quiet, it is considered a nearly intolerable thing, though few bother to articulate this, for to do so would require the lost mindfulness I here refer to. What would we do with ourselves if we didn’t have our phone screens to gaze into while standing at a street corner waiting for the light to change, or wandering a shopping mall, or riding an elevator? We’ve allowed ourselves to become trained to loathe a calm space of mind. I can palpably feel the cashier’s frustration in the air, as he or she is forced to stall their own motion and wait for me to count out my change, preferring instead to simply add more to my already burdening collection of coinage and have me move on so that they may serve the next in line.

Mind you, I don’t speak as one completely liberated from a state of impatience, for I feel it on the road when I am driving; too frequently hostile to the notion of simply being patient with the person ahead of me who I deem ‘too slow’ in the executing of their turn. I know what it’s like to feel in a hurry for no good reason, to feel those uncomfortable feelings of an unspecified nature and want to cover them over with a moment’s distraction. But I have grown even more uncomfortable with the frenetic vibration our culture imposes upon us as a fact of life now, and I clearly recognize the dissonance this flood of sensory stimuli is causing us in our ability to simple be, without doing, to actually listen to the person who is talking to us, rather than merely prepping our next words in our minds as they speak.

Plant Light

The Regular Practice of Meditation

I’ve taken to the regular practice of meditation over the last few months, and in so doing have gained a stark awareness of the connection between an endlessly whirring mind and the emotional state of dis-ease to which it gives birth. I have come to appreciate the spaces in between the stimuli, the capacity to become present to the silence in which all noise resides; that universal context within which all of life unfolds.
Take a moment and truly listen to it, deeply. You might have to search at first, but it is there. Can you hear it? You will recognize it because it has its own sound; not dissimilar to the super ultra-high-pitched tonal frequency heard in those hearing tests we’ve taken. Now become aware of your breathing, allowing yourself as you do, to get in touch with the feeling within your own body; it’s aches and pains, its fatigue and weight, its pockets of stress or muscular constriction and where they reside in your physicality. Keep breathing as you explore it; deeply, slowly. Just observe the incessant flow of random thoughts parading through your mind as you do this, but just let them all pass by, without clinging to any of them. Now feel your emotional space. If you had to articulate where in your body its epicenter resides, where would you point to? Are you feeling relaxed, or is there a current of anxiety there? Breathe as you feel this. Allow yourself to truly feel your inner space of being. Let whatever is there move through you with your every breathe, taking conscious note of what it is like to feel. I promise, it won’t destroy you. In fact, it will relax you, and it will release you from the grip of stress if you do allow yourself to feel it. Practice this regularly, and you will notice your points of focus and priorities start to shift, in both subtle and profound ways. You will become aware of how certain stimulus informs your emotional state, and if you remain committed to exploring those inner spaces of thought, feeling and emotion, you will regain your appreciation of calm space and simplicity again, and you will learn to appreciate your own individual sense of self that’s likely been buried beneath the vibratory resonance of the ‘bee hive’ – that virtually incessant voice of modern culture. What I am inviting you to here, is a process of exploration, not a singular event. So be patient with it, and remember; none of culture’s stimulus is going with you when you depart this world, but it’s possible that your sense of self just might.

G.

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Meditation Podcast E27: Stepping Beyond Fear And Doubt

Meditation can help you overcome many of your doubts and fear…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 27: Meditation can help you overcome many of your doubts and fears. Learn to employ this powerful tool to facilitate deep lasting change.

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Philosophy Podcast E23: The Power of Surrender

Sujantra explores Sri Chinmoy’s 1974 poem about the power of surrender…

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Explore the spiritual philosophy of India and see how it applies to your own life and situations. Host Sujantra McKeever of San Diego, CA, is the author of 5 books. He leads you on a journey to the East that ends up back in your own backyard. We hope you find an insight that truly hits home.

Ep 23: Sujantra explores Sri Chinmoy’s 1974 poem about the power of surrender.

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Meditation Podcast E22: The Subtle Nerves

Discover and explore the subtle body through meditation techniques…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 22: Discover and explore the subtle body through meditation techniques…

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Meditation Podcast E21: Finding Your Purpose in Life

In this episode Sujantra addresses finding your life purpose and how meditation can aid this pursuit…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 21: In this episode Sujantra addresses finding your life purpose and how meditation can aid this pursuit…

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Meditation Podcast E17: Removing The Cloud Of Doubt

Open your heart and bring sincerity to your mind…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 17: Removing The Cloud Of Doubt – Open your heart and bring sincerity to your mind.

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Pilgrimage of the Heart Meditation Podcast E16

Be the change you wish to see.

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 16: Be the change you wish to see…

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Pilgrimage of the Heart Meditation Podcast E15

Sujantra speaks about irritability, staying awake & reincarnation and how meditation can help. A guest named Salil leads the class through the meditation…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 15: Sujantra speaks about irritability, staying awake & reincarnation and how meditation can help. A guest named Salil leads the class through the meditation.

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Pilgrimage of the Heart Meditation Podcast E14

Meditation can help a person focus on many things and make them a reality…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 14: Meditation can help a person focus on many things and make them a reality. In this episode Sujantra points out that opening the spiritual heart can be one of the most beneficial things to focus on.

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Pilgrimage of the Heart Meditation Podcast E13

In a world that is bustling with energy that can be contrary to our well being, Sujantra…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 13: In a world that is bustling with energy that can be contrary to our well being, Sujantra talks about how to protect and maintain your inner peace.

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Pilgrimage of the Heart Meditation Podcast E12

Explore the cause of loneliness and how to use meditation to transform…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 12: Explore the cause of loneliness and how to use meditation to transform.

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Pilgrimage of the Heart Meditation Podcast E11

Exploring the mantras historically and through meditation techniques, including the exploration of the ancient Greek practice of naval gazing…

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Ep 11: Exploring the mantras historically and through meditation techniques, including the exploration of the ancient Greek practice of naval gazing.

The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

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Pilgrimage of the Heart Meditation Podcast E10

In this episode Sujantra talks about the importance of finding a teacher to help a person on their spiritual path…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 10: In this episode Sujantra talks about the importance of finding a teacher to help a person on their spiritual path. Sujantra explains how his path of finding a teacher was different than the vision he had in mind. Sujantra then leads the class through a meditation with mantras and aums.

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Pilgrimage of the Heart Meditation Podcast E09

In this episode Sujantra skips his usual spoken introduction and goes directly into a meditation. Then, a visiting Sri Chinmoy devotee…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 09: In this episode Sujantra skips his usual spoken introduction and goes directly into a meditation. Then, a visiting Sri Chinmoy devotee with a British accent, named Devashishu, leads the class through some meditative mantras.

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Pilgrimage of the Heart Meditation Podcast E08

In this episode Sujantra speaks about the importance of inspiration in a meditation practice and how it is…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 08: In this episode Sujantra speaks about the importance of inspiration in a meditation practice and how it is important to guard and nurture your inner flower before leading the meditation.

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Pilgrimage of the Heart Meditation Podcast E07

In this episode Sujantra speaks about the subtlety of practicing meditation. Sujantra also talks about the ancient teaching that the Universe needs people as much as people need the Universe…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 07: In this episode Sujantra speaks about the subtlety of practicing meditation. Sujantra also talks about the ancient teaching that the Universe needs people as much as people need the Universe.

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Pilgrimage of the Heart Meditation Podcast E06

In this episode Sujantra talks about prana and being connected to all things in the universe…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 06: In this episode Sujantra talks about prana and being connected to all things in the universe.

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Finding Peace

So much of our time is spent being distracted from peace. We are constantly bombarded by input. We have ‘busy’ lives, or so we say, and our minds are constantly…

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We need to find peace!

So much of our time is spent being distracted from peace. We are constantly bombarded by input. We have ‘busy’ lives, or so we say, and our minds are constantly in flux. Sometimes our minds are so in flux that we mistake busy for simple, mental chaos. And let’s not forget our relationships. Our relations demand our attention. Our relations demand our time. We really find little time for ourselves. Then there’s sleep. We fall into bed dog tired without even a simple moment of prayer. The link above lists ten ways to discover inner peace. Good words.

There’s no time for peace?

 

Make the time!

I’ve written several essays about creating a meditation space. Meditation requires your presence. It requires you to be somewhere. Unless you have been meditating for years and have established a ‘perpetual,’ meditation mindset, then it’s best to have a personal space where you can peacefully seclude yourself and remain undistracted. It’s so important to be able to disconnect from the outer, ever changing mind/world. Your meditation space will become a desired place of peace, stillness and refuge (as your practice deepens). You will want to be there.

Finding Peace

 

I Need Motivation!

Make setting up your meditation space a mini-project. Enjoy it. Anticipate it. Go on a quest. Find meaningful artifacts to populate your meditation space. Consider the work you will be doing in your space while you are setting it up. Begin to think of the sacredness of this endeavor. Start the growth process. Make creating your space personal and meaningful.

 

New to Meditation?

Make meditation an adventure. Forget about the mystic behind meditation. It’s just a tool. What’s important is that you slowly build a simple, evolving, poignant practice. Think about peace. Think about calm. Think about centeredness. Think about your internal qualities. These are desired results. Consider them and their impact on your future (we still haven’t started meditation yet).

 

Make your meditation practice simple.

Your practice should be an easy event. It should not be tedious or inconvenient. It need not take too much time. Ten minutes every day is much more effective that one hour a week. In fact, a one-hour per week practice likely won’t work. You’ll quit, because it’s too long and is not routine. I’ve found (through years of personal experience) that ten minutes, first thing in the morning works very well. You are there. You are ready to begin the blessings of a new day. And the rigors of sensory input hasn’t reared its head yet.

Finding Peace

 

Time to practice:

Sit down. Get comfortable. Take some comfortable, deep breaths. Focus your awareness on your breath. Breath awareness is initially challenging because we are not used to it. Our bodies breathe themselves. So, focus your awareness. Controlled, slow breathing is the center of your practice. As your focus shifts from external input to internal breath awareness your mind becomes calm and tranquil, peace starts to manifest. Slow the breath. Notice how the breath slows in response.

 

More breathe work. Feel your Heart:

Try this. Take a fairly deep inhale and hold your breath. Feel your heart beating. It may take two or three attempts. Once you feel your heart beating, gently return to your slow, steady breathing while keeping the awareness of your heart beating. Then, expand your heart awareness so you can feel your heart pulse radiating outwards to your arms and hands, your tummy, your legs and feet… even to every cell and corpuscle. Make heart awareness your priority. Become inspired by your heart.

These two techniques are the start of something magnificent!

These two simple awarenesses are the beginning of a meditation practice centered around peace. Peace is already there within you. Your practice is about rediscovery! It’s about awakening. Turn your attention from external mental noise to the calm, internal peace of breath/heart awareness. It’s that simple. If your mind wanders, take a peaceful breath and return to your heart. This is the beginning.

A few minutes each day is all it takes. In a short amount of time you will find ease in your growing practice and a new peace that has been trapped within by a chaotic mind/world.

Peace is not an external object that we can possess. It is already within us, waiting to be rediscovered.

“Begin where you are.” —B.K.S. Iyengar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pilgrimage of the Heart Meditation Podcast E05

In this episode Sujantra talks about the 3 ingredients for Spiritual Growth being spiritual teachings to believe in, a community…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Ep 05: In this episode Sujantra talks about the 3 ingredients for Spiritual Growth: spiritual teachings to believe in, a community with the same beliefs and a person’s own actions.

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Pilgrimage of the Heart Meditation Podcast E04

In this episode Sujantra quotes Sri Chinmoy “if You want peace, you must meditate on peace. If you want love…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Concentration

Ep 4: In this episode Sujantra quotes Sri Chinmoy “if You want peace, you must meditate on peace. If you want love, you must meditate on love”. Part of meditation is learning to concentrate on one single thought.

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Embracing Surrender

I remember being in my early 20’s, just at the embarkation point of my spiritual journey, and cringing each time I saw the word “surrender.”…

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The Surrender Experiment by Michael A. Singer

“Our surrender to God’s Will
Is our mightiest power.”

Sri Chinmoy

 

I remember being in my early 20’s, just at the embarkation point of my spiritual journey, and cringing each time I saw the word “surrender.” To me it meant weakness and giving up; not being courageous and letting go of free will. I wanted nothing to do with surrender. Divine Love made sense, albeit it felt, a bit abstract; even devotion had sweetness to it. But surrender: pass.

The Surrender Experiment

Singer on Oprah

Michael Singer lives his life, or so his book The Surrender Experiment tells us, on the principle of surrender. His story is one that shows the incredible journey life has in store for us if we can just let go of what we want and let Life take the lead. You can see Singer on YouTube: Oprah likes his writings and interviews him.

When I was 20 and contemplating surrender I was looking at only half of the picture. I was thinking only of the act of not asserting my will. What I forgot to contemplate was: if I let go of my small ego desires then who is going to be driving the ship? Singer’s answer is simple yet profound: Life. And Life, according to Singer has some incredible plans for us.

PYO

He goes from living in his Van to operating a 300 million dollar a year business all the while letting go of his wants, wearing his pony tail and meditating an hour each morning and evening. In between there are “coincidences” that are mind blowing and inspiring at the same time.

Sri Chinmoy

My own spiritual journey eventually led me to a teacher, Sri Chinmoy; who described his path as that of love, devotion and surrender. Surrender, it turns out, is one of the keys to spiritual growth. Surrender to the greater force of Life and hang on for the ride. The Surrender Experiment will inspire you to let go that much quicker!

 

–Sujantra

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Pilgrimage of the Heart Meditation Podcast E03

On this episode, Sujantra teaches how meditation can help a person communicate more effectively…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Mediation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Communication and Meditation

On this episode, Sujantra teaches how meditation can help a person communicate more effectively.

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Pilgrimage of the Heart Meditation Podcast E02

On this episode of the Pilgrimage of the Heart podcast Sujantra explains the importance of spiritual teachers…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart Meditation Podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Spiritual Teachers

On this episode of the Pilgrimage of the Heart podcast Sujantra explains the importance of spiritual teachers from various walks of life including Carlos Castaneda, Ram Das, Sri Chinmoy and more.

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Pilgrimage of the Heart Meditation Podcast E01

On this episode of the Pilgrimage of the Heart Meditation Podcast Sujantra explains how meditation can help a person…

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The Pilgrimage of the Heart podcast is a recorded broadcast of Sujantra’s weekly Tuesday night meditation class held in San Diego California. Each week Sujantra introduces a new topic related to meditation and leads the class through various types of meditations including: visual concentration, yogic concentration, breathing techniques, chanting and much more.

Thoughts and Emotions

On this episode of the Pilgrimage of the Heart Meditation Podcast Sujantra explains how meditation can help a person untangle the connection between thoughts and emotions.

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5 Tips for Improving Your Focus

Technology has enabled more distractions in our lives than ever before, and it’s easy to lose focus on one’s priorities and goals. Focusing our minds is a sure way to achieving our goals and fulfilling the promise of our lives. If you’re like me, you might have been buried in distractions from notifications on a mobile phone or computer — from email, social media, news […]

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Technology has enabled more distractions in our lives than ever before, and it’s easy to lose focus on one’s priorities and goals. Focusing our minds is a sure way to achieving our goals and fulfilling the promise of our lives.

If you’re like me, you might have been buried in distractions from notifications on a mobile phone or computer — from email, social media, news alerts and instant messages.  One day I decided to shut off the notifications on my iPhone.  Now I now check for messages on my own time versus being interrupted by notifacations.

“Distractions signal that something has changed,” says David Rock, co-founder of the NeuroLeadership Institute and author of Your Brain at Work (HarperCollins, 2009). It’s an inner alert that says, “Orient your attention here now; this could be dangerous.”

And sometimes life gets out of balance. So working on personal focus is a great way to find your center again. Here are some practical tips for staying focused.

1. Meditate in the Morning

Morning meditation can be a transformative, life-changing experience if done regularly. Take any of our online meditation classes to learn productive meditation techniques. Practice a few minutes each day. Be patient with yourself; it took a lifetime to get you clogged up and unbalanced. It takes some time for a lifetime of reverberations in one’s mind to dissolve into the focused stillness that regular meditation practice enables.

PYO

2. Be Creative First Thing

Creative time can be a release us from the distractions of life.  Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” Being creative opens the door to an inner dimension where we reflect, expand ideas, and see life in new ways.  I say be creative – sing, paint, play music, blog, or keep a diary daily. Be creative.

Julia Cameron, author of “The Artist’s Way,” suggests writing daily Morning Pages — three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. Morning pages are not intended to be high art. Cameron suggests, “they are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.”

3. Run and Become

Running a few miles a day is a great way to let go of the distractions of the day. Rather than listening to music on Spotify when you run,oractice mindfulness while running. Focus on your breathing. Listen to the quiet.  Accomplished runner and leader of Shambhala, Sakyong Mipham combines mindfulness with physical movement for more energy, more focus, and more. His book, “Running with the Mind of Meditation,” shares ways to connect with the present moment through synchronizing body and mind.

4. Commit to Your Calendar

Keep a physical or online calendar. That’s where you can schedule and prioritize time for activities that nurture focus. Add calendar listings for morning meditation, yoga, being creative, running and more. Be fair to yourself — create a schedule you feel you can keep. Then keep to the schedule; that’s the commitment. The longer you do the more you’re providing your ability to focus. Fulfilling your calendar puts your focus into action while nurturing good practices for life.

5. Control Instant Notifications

Author Stephen King says the one thing a writer needs is a “door” to close. We’re living in an instant notification world. Consider reducing or eliminating persistent notifications on mobile phones and laptops from social media, email, stores and friends. Check messages on your own time versus allowing them to intrude on you every moment of the day – as if your door was always open to strangers.

 Shambhu writes for the Pilgrimage Yoga Online blog.  He’s also an accomplished guitarist and composer. Learn more at ShambhuMusic.com.  

Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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3 Ways To Feel Your Best

We spend our time doing many things each day. But how many of our activities actually contribute to our own well-being…

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We spend our time doing many things each day. But how many of our activities actually contribute to our own well-being or make the world a better place?

Do Worthwhile Things

Feeling good results when we do things that are worthwhile for ourselves and those around us. Practicing yoga, working out regularly, eating healthy foods, and living harmoniously with nature – all can contribute to a personal sense of well-being.

Motivation guru Earl Nightingale wrote, “We are at our very best, and we are happiest, when we are fully engaged in work we enjoy on the journey toward the goal we’ve established for ourselves. It gives meaning to our time off and comfort to our sleep. It makes everything else in life so wonderful, so worthwhile.”

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Think Positive

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become,” says Buddha.

Lets say life is great, but your job feels like it’s going nowhere. Be patient. Avoid saying self-defeating and/or negative things to yourself. Try replacing them with positive thoughts.

Author Normal Vincent Peale advises an approach to positive thinking, “Formulate and stamp indelibly on your mind a mental picture of yourself as succeeding. Hold this picture tenaciously. Never permit it to fade. Your mind will seek to develop the picture… Do not build up obstacles in your imagination.”

Positive Affirmations

Affirmations are things you can say to yourself either out loud or quietly to help enable positive outcomes. Try affirming to yourself whatever it is that you want to occur. Let’s say you’re recovering from a broken arm, you can repeat to yourself, “I have a strong and healthy arm.”

Holistic Health writer Liz Parry, suggests several positive affirmations that you can use to influence your life:

  • I have a healthy body and a happy mind.
  • I have plenty of energy.
  • My mind is calm and relaxed.
  • I have an enjoyable and fulfilling job.
  • Money flows easily and naturally into my life.
  • I radiate love and happiness.
  • I have a happy, loving relationship with my partner.
  • I am successful in all that I do.

What do you do each day to feel good?

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Moby …on Love and Forgiveness

This post launches a new series of essays by artists on love and forgiveness. Our first post is by world-renowned DJ, musician, photographer, producer, and singer-songwriter Moby…

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by Moby

One of the reasons why music in particular is so ubiquitous and so universal with love is that it reaches people on a very profound emotional level. Often times, I feel like music can reach people on an almost softer, deeper, and more vulnerable level than people might normally experience on a day to day basis. I think to understand music’s ability to foster love and forgiveness, it sometimes helps to look at their opposites. To me, the opposite of love isn’t necessarily hate. The opposite of love is judgment, and the opposite of forgiveness is bitterness and resentment.

Music Can Open People Up

I feel like music in particular can open people up to a more honest, vulnerable, softer side, which is
really where love and forgiveness arise. A theory I have about human emotion, is that in a very broad sense, there are two emotional states that human beings have—there’s a state of defensiveness and a state of openness. You could use other adjectives—you could say there’s hard and there’s soft and there’s defensive and there’s vulnerable. I think that love and forgiveness, they come from that place of openness, softness, and vulnerability. The harder emotional states; anger, bitterness, defensiveness, and cynicism are usually masks for the softer states. My experience is that for the majority of people, myself included, it’s really easy to succumb to the harder emotional states—the anger, defence, bitterness, without looking at what’s underneath.

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True Forgiveness

I think that forgiveness—really true forgiveness—needs to come from the softer emotions that lie under the hard emotions, but most of us don’t have much training in looking behind the harder emotions. A lot of our culture reinforces these harder emotions. We have a culture that glorifies anger, bitterness, and retribution. One thing that art and music can do is enable people to access these softer emotional states from where true love and forgiveness arise.

Self Awareness

Forgiveness can really only be truly meaningful with self-awareness. Forgiveness should not involve judgement or retribution or bitterness. When I’m forgiving of someone, it’s because I’m looking at them and I’m hopefully filled with a true sense of compassion. I don’t see them as a completely separate other being, I see them as being a human similar to me and whatever that person has done, I see that I have probably done similar things as well. I can see that when I’ve done bad things it’s usually because I’ve been insecure or afraid. I can look at that other person and say, “Oh, they’re insecure and afraid as well,” and create a much deeper sense of forgiveness.

MOBY is a world-renowned DJ, musician, photographer, producer, and singer-songwriter based in Los Angeles, California. He has sold over twenty million albums worldwide, and is famous for his electronic music, vegan lifestyle, and support of animal rights. His best-selling albums “Play” (1999), “18” (2002), “Hotel” (2005), “Last Night” (2008), “Destroyed” (2011), and “Innocents” (2013) are all available from www.moby.com. Moby has also co-written, produced, and remixed music for Michael Jackson, David Bowie, Daft Punk, Brian Eno, Pet Shop Boys, Britney Spears, New Order, Public Enemy, Guns N’ Roses, Metallica, among many others.

Websites: www.moby.com and www.mobygratis.com
Photos: DEF Ltd & Little Idiot Records

From Love Live Forgive, featuring interviews with a diverse range of artists who reveal and explore the transformative power ofebook_cover_3D-fixedlove, forgiveness, and the creative spirit. While featuring a wide-ranging demographic, the contributors to this project represent a dynamic spectrum of artistic, cultural, and faith-based backgrounds. Individually they offer their unique perspective on the human experience. Collectively they embrace a shared passion for art and its ability to transform our lives and the world around us.  Get a free book download.

Thanks to Justin St. Vincent, the Director and Founder of Xtreme Music. He has self-published four books including a worldwide trilogy exploring The Spiritual Significance of Music (2009-2012), and free eBook Love Live Forgive: Insights from Artists (2014), all available from Xtreme Music:  www.XtremeMusic.org 

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10 Ways to Increase Your Imagination

Imagination is a uniquely human ability to form ideas — new images and sensations in the mind that are not in our present perception…

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Imagination is a uniquely human ability to form ideas — new images and sensations in the mind that are not in our present perception through senses such as sight, hearing, or other senses.  Imagining is helpful if you’re practicing yoga or meditating at home or work. Just imagine yourself centered in the morning starting your day feeling calm and energized.

When I compose and improvise music, I am imagining sounds and then giving them physical form through my guitar, sounds on a recording and notes on a page.  When I’m writing a blog post, I’m reflecting on a subject and then an idea (hopefully) emerges in my minds eye.

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Imagination is helpful for envisioning our own success says Swami Paramahansa Yogananda, who described imagination as “a portal through which you can transcend the imposed limitations of this world. With wisdom and will, whatever you can imagine, and continue to imagine, can become real.”

We like these 10 ways to increase imagination for better creative thinking by Operation Meditation:

Open your mind to unexplored paths

Creativity is often tagged together with originality. To come up with new ideas may be challenging and even oftentimes daunting, as unexplored paths may pose unexpected threats. It is also an avenue where one can find genuine ideas that can result to a successful endeavor.

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Creativity and imagination is sparked by learning. One’s willingness to learn new things gauges one’s ability to accept and adapt to change. It improves one’s adaptability to imaginative reasoning and creative thinking.

Tell stories

People love to listen to stories and each person has a story to tell. Practice imaginative and creative thinking by telling as many stories as you can. Let it be descriptive. Let it allow you and your listener to visualize what is being told. Visualization is an important part of increasing imagination. Visualization is often perceived as one’s ability to create a clear and vivid picture in the mind. Yet this concept entails various senses as well. Visualization also involves one’s sense of touch, smell, taste, and other senses. Visualization enables you to imagine the story being told or the object being described. The more imaginative and creative the mind becomes, the more elaborate one’s visualizations can be.

Be curious

Learning new things sparks creativity and increases imagination. A part of learning new things is being curious. Children tend to be more imaginative because of their curious nature. Our inherent nature to seek answers or to learn new things does not disappear over age. Feed curiosity by learning and experiencing new things and notice how your imagination improves. Feed your curiosity by asking questions and build your ideas with the help of insight from others.

Don’t be afraid to try something new

It is often said that if you keep on doing the same things, then you will keep on receiving the same things. Challenge yourself to experience new things or embark on new adventures and endeavors.

Expand your interests

Creativity is fueled by passion. Expand your interests by shifting your focus to include other interests that you may be passionate about.

Develop your talents

Everyone has a set of skills or talents. Focus on developing and honing these talents to express your creativity and imagination in areas that you excel in or in things that you know how to do best.

Spend time with creative people

Synergize your energies by spending time with people who share the same interest as yours. Brainstorming, planning, or simply talking to people will keep creative juices running, giving new and fresh ideas.

Look at things differently

At the points when you feel tired or bored, and, and you feel that your creativity is running low, look at things in a new perspective. This will give you a fresh approach to things that may even trigger new ideas that you once thought were not possible.

Condition your mind to relax through meditation techniques

A well-rested mind has a higher potential to learn new things and come up with more creative ideas. There are various meditation methods that you can do to help increase imagination.

How are you increasing your imagination?

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Family: The 1st Step to Union

Family is everything…? We’ve heard this before. The most important thing is family. We have probably said it ourselves…

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Family is everything…?

We’ve heard this before. The most important thing is family. We have probably said it ourselves. And don’t get me wrong. I agree. But let’s take a look at this idea from a philosophical perspective.

In his book, Lectures on Ancient Philosophy, (Philosophical Research Society) chapter 5, Manly P. Hall (March 18, 1901 – August 29, 1990), an extraordinary researcher, sage, mystic, philosopher and commentator of comparative religion writes that the inclusion of the family in a person’s life and circle is ‘the first step’ upward in realization from a state of abject barbarism. In other words, as a soul begins to perceive something other that its self, something bigger than self, the first thing to be included and considered is family.

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A Widening Perspective

Let’s be clear. It’s the first step upward. And it’s an important first step! It signifies a new, widening perspective, a deepening of consciousness, an unfolding of awareness and at least a tiny cognition of the annihilation of separateness.

As awareness grows other people get included within our sphere… friends, nation, race, world, planet, universe, beyond… more and greater inclusion until the sense of ‘Oneness’ becomes the all encompassing. It becomes clear that the only real reality is Unity, Yoga. Instead of being controlled by diversity, we become masters of diversity. We transcend individual concerns.

A False Sense of Separation

Our false sense of separation is why we continue to violate our families. We lie, cheat, brutalize, abuse, neglect, abandon… why we cheat the world and lavish our ill gotten gains on our families, with the expectation that we will be praised for being a good provider… not all of us… but a good many… It’s because the inclusion of family is pretty low on the scale of ascending realization. Over half of all families break up, after all.

Pretty grim truth. But don’t fret! Awareness of the reality of truth is important. Each step of inclusion into our worlds decreases the differences we perceive in others. And it also strengthens the lower rungs, too, building compassion and acceptance, making better families, better friends, better communities, better world, better universe… better you!

Thinking Like a Neanderthal

So when we think to our selves, “I’m going to do this for my family and screw everyone else…”, we’re thinking like a Neanderthal. Good families make sacrifices and reach out all the time to help friends, strangers, communities, the world… Transcend separateness. We are One.

Manly P. HallI am a big fan of Manly P. Hall. I highly recommend his books, The Secret Teaching of All Ages and the companion book, Lectures on Ancient Philosophy. Both of these are fantastic primers for anyone looking for timeless interpretations of the history of thought. They are comprehensive and thorough, leaving no stone unturned, and can stand alone as texts or are great food for further research. Both are available in paperback. I would highly recommend the coffee table sized hardbound of The Secret Teachings of All Ages, a masterpiece in and of itself and a source you will pass on to your grandchildren. You may have to visit an old fashioned bookstore to find a copy. Pay the money! It’s worth every penny.

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Success Starts with an Idea

Every great achievement starts with an idea. Ideas come to us with a possibility of successfully bringing them to life…

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Every great achievement starts with an idea. Ideas come to us with a possibility of successfully bringing them to life in ways that others can share in them.  The late comic genius Robin Williams said, “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.”

Often an idea stimulates a more complete vision about something on your mind: a new yoga posture, a song, a book, a poem, dance, a life shift, whatever. Sometimes an idea feels like a perfect solution. The right idea can bring one’s dreams closer to reality.

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Ideas are Gifts

They pop into our minds from nothingness. When I pick up my guitar at any given moment and start playing extemporaneously, like magic – music flows.  Music is coursing through my consciousness like a stream all the time.  A guitar in my hands is a soundboard for the flow of ideas, an aural reflection of my inner consciousness and what I am feeling inside a given moment.

Value and savor your ideas for they are far from trivial. Write them down in a creative journal or record them so you can return to them.  Even if they suck at the outset, they are instructive and evolutionary; they are build-able and often morph to power the successes to which one aspires.

Ideas are essence

Ideas are essence. They take time to grow into physical reality. “I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else,” noted artist Pablo Picasso.  Give yourself time, patience and perseverance and allow unformed ideas to grow into their full potential.

Meditation and Contemplation

 I find that meditation really helps open my creative channels. Quietude helps me hear and see the flow of ideas.

Practice

Practice and perfecting your craft enables the flow of ideas. The time you devote to practice generates an inner momentum for your ideas to come through and your dreams to come true. So work hard.

Trusting Your Ideas

Contemplate an idea in a quiet place. Imagine life with the idea fully manifest. How does it feel to you?  Treat ideas as gifts and may they transform your life for the better.

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20 Affirmations for Achieving Happiness

Visualize Health and Success – Feeling happy is more than a state of mind. Like yoga, it requires practice and seeing the brighter…

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Are you using the power of positive thinking in your life?

Visualize Health and Success

Feeling happy is more than a state of mind. Like yoga, it requires practice and seeing the brighter side of life at every moment.  Always visualize health and success in your life and positive outcomes from your actions. And believe that you will eventually rise above any obstacles and difficulties on your life path.

Embrace the Brighter Side of Life

We like these affirmations by author Marc Chernoff that you can use to focus on the bright side of life and achieve positive results from all your actions.

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Exercise the Mind

“Just like every muscle in the body, the mind needs to be exercised to gain strength.  It needs to be worked consistently to grow and develop over time.  If you haven’t pushed your mind in thousands of little ways over time, of course it’ll crumble on the one day that things get really challenging,” suggests Chernoff.

Repeat these affirmations aloud or silently until they are imprinted inside your subconscious mind.

  1. “I cannot control everything that happens to me; I can only control the way I respond to what happens.  In my response is my power.”
  2. “I will not get caught up in what could’ve been or should’ve been.  I will look instead at the power and possibility of what is, right now.”
  3. “I have to accept whatever comes my way, and the only important thing is that I meet it with the best I have to give.”
  4. “Making mistakes is always better than faking perfections.”
  5. “I will never be as good as everyone tells me when I win, and I will never be as bad as I think when I lose.”
  6. “I will think less about managing my problems and more about managing my mindset.  I will keep it positive.”
  7. “A challenge only becomes an obstacle if I bow to it.”
  8. “I will get back up.  Again, and again.  The faster I recover from setbacks, the faster I’ll get where I’m going in life.”
  9. “I will not try to hide from my fears, because I know they are not there to scare me.  They are there to let me know that something is worth it.”
  10. “There is a big difference between empty fatigue and gratifying exhaustion.  Life is too short.  I will invest in the activities that deeply move me.”
  11. “If I don’t have time for what matters, I will stop doing things that don’t.”
  12. “I cannot build a reputation and legacy for myself based on what I am going to (maybe) do someday.”
  13. “The future can be different than the present, and I have the power to make it so, right now.”
  14. “Happiness will come to me when it comes from me.”
  15. “Getting ahead is essential, and I will never get ahead of anyone (including my past self) as long as I try to get even with them.”
  16. “I will focus on making myself better, not on thinking that I am better.”
  17. “I will be too busy working on my own grass to notice if yours is greener.”
  18. “I will eat like I love myself.  Move like I love myself.  Speak like I love myself.  Live like I love myself.  Today.:
  19. “My next step in the right direction doesn’t have to be a big one.”
  20. “All the small victories are worth celebrating, every step of the way.  It’s the small things done well that make a big, exciting life in the end.”

How are you using the positive thinking and affirmations in your life?

Thanks to Marc and Angel Chernoff, authors of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.

 

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The Weather is Beautiful; Why am I Feeling Depressed?!?

Since the weather has become humid, many people have been complaining of depression and lack of motivation. The nicholassun is bright, the weather is warm, the flowers…

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by Nicholas Sieben, M.S., L.Ac.

Since the weather has become humid, many people have been complaining of depression and lack of motivation. The nicholassun is bright, the weather is warm, the flowers are in bloom? Why the blues?

I think many of us are reacting to the climate: the same type of humid-hot weather inside us is resonating with the weather outside, causing lethargy.

The Weather Outside and the Weather Inside

The problem comes from blockage in the chest. The Lungs are feeling stifled and our energy feels depleted. The Classics of Chinese Medicine speak about our relationship to nature. We are part of nature. Therefore, what’s inside us reacts to what’s outside of us. Symptoms that occur with a particular type of weather indicates we are harboring the same type of weather within. This is the nature of weather in our bodies: it only gives us problems when the surrounding environment is also expressing a similar state.

Chinese Medicine

So for those of us who are struggling with Damp Heat: some insight into the problem can be helpful. Chinese Medicine views all conditions physically, mentally/emotionally and spiritually. Chinese Medicine is a physical science, as well as a philosophical system. What is happening physically in our bodies can give insight into what we need to do mentally and emotionally to evolve and heal. The same is true when we are experiencing mental-emotional systems. They are signs of some physical imbalance in our bodies.

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Damp- Heat

Damp-heat is philosophically seen as desires that are being dampened: we want to do or express something, but for some reason we’re not able to. Something is holding us back: the dampness. Or, it can come from something we are holding onto, which is creating heat from being stagnant. The dampness is a response to control the heat. The dampness can also be our resistance to fully letting something go. Or, the dampness can be our confusion about a situation: we don’t quite know what to let go of, or which direction to go. If it sounds sticky, it is! That is exactly the type of environment that is created internally. The heat thickens and dries the fluids in the chest and abdomen into a thick-sticky mess. This interferes with vitality, sinks the mood, and can even lead to digestive problems.

Damp-heat can also be the result of a bug caught in a prior season that we have not fully eradicated. The bug is kept in the chest, waiting to be expelled. For some reason, the body lacks the energy to fully expel the problem. The chest and diaphragm tighten to keep the problem from moving deeper into the abdomen. Chest tightness creates depression. It also blocks the chest, which is the area where the energy for the body undergoes its final production before it is circulated throughout the body.

When the chest is blocked, a whole host of symptoms can occur, including depression and lethargy.

Focus on Letting Go

To move past the sense of stuckness which comes with Damp-Heat blockage in the chest, we must focus on opening our chest, and letting go. We must also be careful not to consume foods that will further complicate the condition: excessive dampening or heating foods. Spicy foods, tropical fruits, hard cheeses, alcohol and fried foods can all exacerbate the problem: they will create more dampness and more heat. We may crave these things, and feel comforted by them; but after the rush of pleasure or ease, they will make the problem worse.

Talk About It

We must also be willing to talk and get things “off our chest.” Exercise that makes us sweat is helpful, including Tai Ji, Yoga or Qi Gong. We probably won’t feel like it, but we should do it anyway: to get things moving. Even stretching the arms high above the head can help: to release the diaphragm.

Get Energy Moving

An emotional release can also be helpful: to watch a tear-jerking movie or read a poem that moves us, or listen to some music that will move our hearts. Anything to get the energy in the chest moving!

Acupuncture

Acupuncture treatment can also be helpful. If the chest is blocked and unable to release, the help of an energetic medical system can provide the needed boost to open up. Chances are: we just need a little adjustment to get back on tract.

Nicholas Sieben has been working as a healer for over 10 years. He has a Master of Science degree in Acupuncture from the Swedish Institute College of Health Sciences.  He continues to study under the internationally renowned Jeffrey C. Yuen, Taoist priest and Master of Chinese Medicine: 88th generation Taoist lineage: Yu Ching Huang Lao Pai. His mission is to promote greater freedom of body, mind and spirit through compassionate self-awareness. Through the use of ancient medical practices and the spiritual philosophies of Taoism and Buddhism, Nicholas helps illuminate the path to healing.

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Writing a Home Yoga Journal? Tips for Yoga Lovers

Do you keep a yoga journal? Many of us practice yoga at home to achieve improved body tone. For some, the practice of yoga…

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Do you keep a yoga journal? Many of us practice yoga at home to achieve improved body tone. For some, the practice of yoga is a peaceful meditation at the beginning or end of a hectic day. Others practice Yoga at the Office, a range of yoga classes that can be done either seated in your chair or in the cubicle.

Record Your Daily Practice

Whether your practice at home or office, yoga is a journey and that’s why keeping a journal is a great way to record one’s daily practice.

During a yoga teacher training program, Morgan Turley’s instructors suggested that she keep a yoga journal. “I could see how it could improve my life, and yet it felt out of reach somehow. It was one of the hardest things for me to do. I would stare at a blank page and wonder what to write about.”

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Helpful Tips

If you’re thinking about what to write about in your home yoga journal, we found some helpful tips.

42Yogis suggests a journal entry might include:

• Date and time of practice

• Practice details: Did I go to a class? Did I do a home practice? Did I supplement my home practice with a yoga video? What style of class was it? How long did I practice? Who was the teacher?

• How did I feel before practice?

• What asanas did I have difficulty with?

• What asanas did I finally conquer?

• What do I want to work on next time?

• How do I feel after practice?

Anna Oldfield, Yoga London, added, “There are many different ways of keeping a journal, and everyone’s method will be slightly different. Some people just keep a note of when they practiced, for how long and the style of yoga, possibly with a few comments. Others may record lengthier descriptions of how they felt, their experiences surrounding the practice and the sequences used. Once you have found your journal style, filling it in regularly will provide you with great material for future reference and will help you to keep track of your personal development.”

What do you plan to write about in your yoga journal?

 

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Bharadvajasana – Finding the source of your joy

Bharadvaja was a dedicated student of the Vedas, the most ancient spiritual and philosophical texts of Hinduism…

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Bharadvaja was a dedicated student of the Vedas, the most ancient spiritual and philosophical texts of Hinduism. He devoted three entire lifetimes to intense study of these writings. He read them, wrote them down, memorized them and then did it all over again, hoping it would bring him closer to a higher power and liberate him from the cycle of death and rebirth.

Shiva Appears to Bharadvaja

At the end of his third lifetime, Shiva appeared to Bharadvaja upon his deathbed and gave him some rather disappointing news. Shiva informed Bharadvaja that despite his unparalleled knowledge of the Vedas, he would not be accompanying Shiva to heaven because he had not learned the true meaning of the Vedas. He hadn’t shared the beauty and grace of them with others.

Bharadvaja’s Fourth Life

In his fourth life, Bharadvaja taught the philosophy of the Vedas, to those near and far and in every caste, with wisdom and compassion. During this life, he realized that wisdom is not contained in the knowing of a subject, but the living and sharing of that wisdom.

Find the Source of Your Joy

Bharadvaja’s story inspires each of us to find the source of our own personal joy and to then live it and share it with others. When we dance in the light of our heart’s fire, we inspire others to find their own joy. When we find our life’s true passion, it is fully expressed when we begin to share it with others.

What is your heart and soul’s passion? How do you share it with others?

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The Source of Happiness

Where Does Happiness Come From? – I imagine everyone reading this has realized that they do not put ‘happiness’ into new cars…

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Where Does Happiness Come From?

I imagine everyone reading this has realized that they do not put ‘happiness’ into new cars, stereo systems and new clothes at the factories where they are made, yet we are clearly happy when we acquire these things. Where does the happiness come from? From ‘things’ or the act of possession or possibly somewhere else?

The quest to answer this question has vexed philosophers since the dawn of human thought. There are three major schools of thought: hedonism, eudemonism and theological.

All three have good points. The responsibility to answer the question of where happiness comes from falls upon you alone, as many of your most important decisions in life will be based upon your quest for happiness.

 

Pleasure, Hedonism and Eudemonism

Hedonism says that pleasure is satisfaction; that happiness comes from pleasure. There are different types and degrees of pleasure that can be derived on the physical, emotional and intellectual planes of life. Pleasure can range from indulging in a slice of decadent chocolate cake to listening to music. This philosophy was codified by the Greek Epicurus.

 

Eudemonism represents the philosophy of Aristotle and Ayn Rand and is exemplified in their writings. Here the idea is that happiness comes from fulfilling one’s innate capacities. Happiness comes from reaching our highest potential, from developing our talents to our fullest capacity.

 

Feels Good to Be Humble

Finally there is the theological approach to happiness. This philosophy says that happiness comes from embracing and living our lives guided by higher virtues such as humility, compassion, unconditional love, self-giving and all the others that various religions and spritual paths extol.

 

A good friend of mine read my rough draft to this and responded “…to me it all boils down to ‘giving…’’ Now its your turn, what does happiness mean to you?

 

Sujantra

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Open Heart, Open Mind

In this blog I’d like to review a video on Pilgrimage’s online studio called “Heart Opening Sequence” with Nikole Fortier. I have…

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In this blog I’d like to review a video on Pilgrimage’s online studio called “Heart Opening Sequence” with Nikole Fortier. I have taken classes with Nikole. She is a powerhouse of talent and an amazing teacher. In this video, Nikole shows us the restorative side of her teaching by walking us through a gentle heart opening sequence. In addition, there is a student in the video that really helps demonstrate the sequence and proper positioning more clearly.

This session is a series of passive and active backbends, which by their nature opens your chest and heart. The sequence is best done at home as it requires the use of props. You will need 2 or 3 blankets, a folding chair, a bolster and a brick/block. The props are used for support, comfort and to assist with proper alignment. Even with restorative postures it is very important to have the right alignment.

How to Open your Heart

In order to open your heart you first have to open your chest. The process starts by lying on your back on a partially rolled up blanket. As the student in the video demonstrates, the rolled portion of the blanket serves to arch the back while the flat part is for your head to rest on. As Nikole states, this simple posture will begin to open your heart and at the same time expand your chest and prepare the student for deeper breathing.

Next is lying on your back on a bolster with a blanket under your head for support. This prop lifts you higher up than the blanket and of course helps to open your chest and heart even more.

The last “phase” of this sequence is called “supported west side stretch”. For this phase you will need the folding chair, block and 2 blankets. This is where you can really open your heart because you are seated on the floor but your head, shoulders and chest are on the seat of the chair. Being in this position allows for a full extension and opening of the heart. It also opens the abdominal/digestive organs.

Benefits of an Open Heart

Everyone can benefit from a more open heart, both spiritually and physically. This video shows you how to do just that in a relaxed, restorative manner. Aside from feeling really good and relaxing, this sequence of opening your chest will help expand your lungs, which in turn leads to improved breathing. Pathways for air entering your lungs are expanded, which in turn allows for more oxygen flow throughout your body and ultimately to your brain. And that, my friends, is a good thing, no matter who you are.

Namaste

 

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10 Ways to Practice Self-Love

Start with these 10 ways to practice self-love. Ten. Forgive yourself as easily as you forgive others. Nine. Go to bed at the same time…

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Start with these 10 ways to practice self-love.

Ten.

Forgive yourself as easily as you forgive others.

Nine.

Go to bed at the same time as often as you can and allow 7-8 hours of rest nightly.

Eight.

Eat real food. Eliminate anything that comes out of a package or box from your diet.

Seven.

Get 10 minutes of exercise daily: take a walk at lunch or after dinner.

Six.

Drink water throughout your day.

Five.

Spend 10 minutes of your day in silence. Close your eyes and rest your senses.

Four.

Consider letting go of the past, contemplate what a life free of resentment and regret would provide.

Three.

Once a week do an activity just for you, take yourself out on an adventure, it doesn’t have to cost a thing or take up much time. Schedule it and keep the appointment with yourself.

Two.

Journal. Journal your thoughts, experiences, and ideas. Look back periodically at what you wrote and get to know yourself through the words on the pages.

One.

Share some of your time or fortune with someone who needs assistance.


How do you practice self-love? Let us know in the comments below!

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Remembering our Power

The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers; Little we see in Nature that is ours…

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The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
–William Wordsworth

Returning Inward

Each yoga class is an opportunity to pull our attention away from our phones, e-mail and ceaseless thinking and planning; and return our awareness to our bodies, our breath and our spiritual hearts.

Connecting with a Deeper Sense of Self

Yoga teaches that we have the power to both turn our awareness outward and inward. Most people have lost the ability to turn within. Yoga teachers guide us back to that within! We forget that we exist in this marvelous reality called life. We get lost in the day-to-day minutia and lose touch with our deeper sense of self.

Yoga Cultivates Awareness

One or two sessions of yoga each week with our wonderful teachers will allow you the space and time to remember that you are part and parcel of Nature and that deep in your awareness dwells the heart beat of the Universe.

What helps you get in touch with your deeper sense of self? Let us know in the comments below!

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