Monthly Archives: June 2012

“…If You are Standing Before A Beautiful Flower, You Will Not Be Able To See It…You Have To Be Silent, Utterly Silent, Not Even A Flicker Of Thought–And the Beauty Explodes.” By Osho

“Thoughts can create such a barrier that even if you are standing before a beautiful flower, you will not be able to see it. Your eyes are covered with layers of thought.”

“You have to be silent, utterly silent, not even a flicker of thought – and the beauty explodes….”

 From “The Great Pilgrimage: From Here to Here” by Osho

Picture from: 2012 National Geographic Traveler Photo Contestant Fred An

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“See If You Can Give Yourself Gifts That May Be True Blessings, Such As Self-Acceptance…” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

“See if you can give yourself gifts that may be true blessings, such as self-acceptance, or some time each day with no purpose.”

“Practice feeling deserving enough to accept these gifts, without obligation–to simply receive from yourself, and from the universe.”

“Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life”  By Jon Kabat-Zinn

“In The Attitude Of Silence The Soul Finds The Path In A Clearer Light…” – Mahatma Gandhi

“In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light…Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth.”

“Speak only if it improves upon the silence.”

Mahatma Gandhi

“Yoga Tones The Bodies And Nourishes The Souls Of The Women At The Recovery House”

By Jennifer Miller
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Walking through the doors at the Recovery House, the ladies came up to me with a request: they wanted to see a picture of me before I started yoga. “I bet you always looked like this” said one. The group’s interest turned into a discussion of one of the big benefits of yoga: getting in shape after having a baby. These questions and others are all very honest and touching, reflecting how concerned they are with their appearance and bodies.
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A question then came up about whether my yoga practice excited my husband when I was married, again showing the physical and sexual interest the poses had in their minds. I then told them about very painful parts of my life, where yoga helped me to process my grief, to the point where I am now able to laugh at many of these traumatic times.
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I could feel, and see in their eyes, that my words were very comforting to these women, all of whom were dealing with trauma and change in their lives. One of the young ladies asked me why I volunteered here.
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 I told her that presenting the gift of yoga allowed my soul to give back some of the beautiful calm and peace I felt during times of great pain…

They were all very moved and I knew some were true believers. I felt my heart sing with joy that they could understand. I began to work on some individual asanas with a few of the girls. At first they are scared in trying something new, but three of the girls all nail the “crow” pose. I was cheering and clapping and didn’t know who was more excited.
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A girl in the back of the room asked me what poses would help her tighten her stomach and lose weight. I told her that yoga connects our minds and bodies, and that by maintaining the connection while eating, she could learn to eat only until feeling full. This honors the body as it is the temple for our soul.
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Nearing the end of our time together, I hear that one of the girls is cleaning a yoga mat to take to her room to practice, while another one is listening to a yoga tape. I can see the slow progress we are making, and know in my heart that if you can touch one life you’ve made a difference in the world. On my way out they bring their babies over…the beauty of connecting with the human spirit.
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Namaste, Jennifer Miller

“Yoga Is The Path…The Experience Of Realization, Samadhi” From ‘Bhagavad Gita Demystified’

“Yoga…is the path and not the goal. It is the experience of the path that matters. The bliss that we experience during this path is the experience of realization, samadhi.”

“Tittibhasana” Pose by Jennifer Miller

From “Bhagavad Gita Demystified” by Nithyananda Paramahamsa

“Yoga Is Primarily A Practice Intended To Make Someone Wiser…” By T.K.V. Desikachar

“Yoga is primarily a practice intended to make someone wiser, more able to understand things than they were before.”

“The goal is always bhakti…to approach the highest intelligence, namely, God.”

T.K.V. Desikachar from “The Heart of Yoga: Developing A Personal Practice”.

“Spirituality Means Energy…Having Faith In This Energy Is Spirituality” By Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

“Spirituality means energy and to meditate on that energy is spirituality. So, developing and having faith in this energy is spirituality…spirituality is believing.”

Sri K. Pattabhi Jois

Quote from Namarupa Magazine, Fall 2004 Issue: “3 Gurus, 48 Questions: Matching Interviews With SRI T.K.V. DESIKACHAR, SRI B.K.S. IYENGAR & SRI K. PATTABHI JOIS”

http://www.namarupa.org/magazine/nr03/downloads/NamaRupa_03_02.pdf

“Even In Simple Asanas…One Is Experiencing The Innermost Quest” – B.K.S. Iyengar

“Even in simple asanas, one is experiencing the three levels of quest: the external quest, which brings firmness of the body; the internal quest, which brings steadiness of intelligence; and the innermost quest, which brings benevolence of spirit.”

B.K.S. Iyengar, From “Light On Life”

“The Importance Of Being Our Own Best Friend”

By Jennifer Miller

I was just thinking of how important it is for most of us to have a best friend. We never forget that best friend from childhood, who was there for so many important moments as we grew up. That best friend may not have been your best friend after high school; in truth, we can have many best friends over our lifetime.

I searched important quotes on “Friendship” and many familiar and famous statements came up. But one stood out to me:

A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.

The quote is attributed to William Shakespeare, but is also cited as being Anonymous. The source is the 16th Century, and I feel it addresses the importance of a (best) friend knowing our past, present and future selves. But who….

       “knows you as you are…”

                 “understands where you have been…”

                                        “accepts what you have become…”

                                                                       “allows you to  grow…”

The list of our friends that meet those responsibilities really narrows. And the truth is, that a friend, with those virtues, is most likely busy with their own life. And the person who most likely could meet all four would be your “soul mate”, and in a perfect world, your husband or wife.

Our best friend is, must be, ourself. We must be able to open up our heart and soul and love what we see. We must accept our own failures and successes with grace and ease, and not condemn ourselves when we make a mistake.

To love our “best friend within”, unconditionally, is to have a best friend for life.

Namaste, Jennifer Miller

Reflections On Life: “DoYou Know Who Your Tribe Is?…You Will If They Nourish Your Soul”

By Jennifer Miller
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Most of us want to belong to a group. We have our identity defined in many cases by the people who relate to us, support us or confirm our “status” within the community where we live or work.
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But do you know who your tribe is?
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A special group of people “having a common character or interest” is the definition of a tribe…but it is so much deeper when you connect with someone’s “soul”.

I want to believe that my tribe is the group of family and close friends I spend the most time with. But to bond with women, or men, at the soul level, requires as much luck as it does length in the relationship getting to know someone. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to maintain friendships, and like a long-term investment, there has to be the outlook for the soul to be nurtured and grow.
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“The relationship with your self is the most important relationship you’ll ever have.”

This quote by Dr. Judith Orloff is so important. If we find ourselves giving more in our relationships that we receive, it will come at the cost of our own well-being. Who fills my soul and who drains my energy? There are two sides of me: a fun, free spirit side and a deeply spiritual side. Neither can remain healthy and vibrant if I am surrounded by people who take away my vital force. Choose to be with people who nourish the soul, and consider them members of your tribe.

Make a pact with yourself to be aware of the energy of those around you. Those that drain your energy, who don’t make your heart sing with joy, are not the people you should have around you. My soul knows my tribe and it always feels like coming home.

Namaste, Jennifer Miller

Wisdom From Rumi: “You Were Born With Wings…Learn To Use Them, And Fly”

You were born with potential
You were born with goodness and trust
You were born with ideals and dreams
You were born with greatness
You were born with wings
You are not meant for crawling, so don’t.
You have wings
Learn to use them, and fly.

Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī (1207-1273)

 

Reflections On My Daughter: “Finding Answers All Around Us…Just Blowin In The Wind”

By Jennifer Miller

Oh, to be sixteen, now that summer’s here. And so I hop into the passenger’s seat of my daughter’s car to go bathing suit shopping. She is wearing bright pink lipstick and shorts to show off legs that are long and tan. Clearly, she is in the prime of teenhood, with her mood brightened in these final sophomore days of high school.

“If ya dont know by know, doggy-dog is a freak,freak,freak!”

Rapper Snoop Dogg’s latest song blasts out from the speakers as the she starts the car. The lyrics are offensive and crude, but her car is her domain.

“I keep a bad bitch with me seven days of the week, week, week!”

Welcome to a modern mother’s world. I take a deep breath as she glances at me with a huge grin, looking me over to see my reaction. But the windows are down, and our hair is “blowin in the wind” (a little Peter, Paul and Mary to balance Snoop). I smile with complete acceptance. The teen years are always trying, but they can also be fun.

She has always followed her soul and has now embraced her inner goddess. I am grateful that she doesn’t seem to care what others think. She has been through a lot in her young years, and has the gift of wisdom that only a full life can bring. I haven’t had to make too many demands of my youngest daughter recently, but getting a job this summer is a must.

She knows this and hasn’t commented on her progress. I already know the answer if I asked: “It’s not summer yet”.

The bikini and beachwear selection proves very enticing and she is pleased; so is mom. As we are checking out, she spots the store manager and without hesitating, asks her: “Are you hiring?” The answer is “Yes” and my daughter goes into action mode. With a huge smile, she holds out her hand and introduces herself and takes control of the interview.

The power of confidence is really the power of being in the moment. The woman saw an authentic display of enthusiasm and interest in being “at that store”.  This is my independent free spirit, brimming with inner wisdom, openness, and a natural sense of being balanced and grounded.

I pray she continues to use her natural abilities to find the answers to life’s questions, answers which are always there, all around us, and within our soul when we take the time to go inward and self-reflect. 

With employment application in hand, we are back in her car and her domain. As we head home, the windows down, I imagine how appropriate Bob Dylan’s lyrics would be if we could change just two words:

How many roads must a WOMAN walk down, before you call HER a WOMAN.

The answer, my friend,
is blowin’ in the wind,
The answer is blowin’ in the wind.”

Namaste, Jennifer Miller

 

Twenty Years Later: “I Feel Your Pain…But Not My Own”

By Jennifer Miller

The year 2012 will be remembered for many important events and  happenings. Two of the biggest are the London Olympics and our own Presidential Election on November 6. But 2012 is also significant in that it has been 20 years since President Bill Clinton made his famous statement in March 1992:

“I feel your pain.”

While it is very difficult to feel another person’s pain, or suffering, unless you have “walked in their shoes”, we can all feel our own emotions, including pain. But why is it that so few people are actually able or willing to feel real emotions?

Do the activities and distractions in our lives numb our inner feelings?

Is it our culture of overconsumption, where we overeat and overspend, and in the extreme, abuse alcohol and drugs?

People are often afraid to go inward and truly connect with their real, raw emotions. It exposes us and makes us vulnerable…but also makes us more authentic. And humble. Getting to the real cause of personal pain and anger can often involve nothing more that looking at ourselves as we are now, not at who we were in the past. We are not that person any more. Forgive that person or move on from that person. Benefit from the often humorous process of “observing yourself” at this very time in your life. I often feel like a stand-up comic,  with an audience of “none” as I go inward and self-reflect. But it makes me aware of the moment.

I am one with my espresso coffee machine in the morning. I am one with my two dogs while I walk them. I am one with my cutting board as I prepare vegetables for cooking.

Do I feel like saying “enough already” and want to rejoin the noisy fray? Sometimes. But to go inward is so much more rewarding. I connect with my inner feelings and shower them with positive reflections. This can often produce the little miracles and happy endings that make life worth living.

Namaste, Jennifer Miller

“Breathing In The Moment To Stay Centered And Balanced” By Jennifer Miller

“Durvasana”

Arriving at the Yoga Center, I roll out my mat and make sure it lines up with walls that surround me. Each time I place my feet on this six-foot long, 2-foot wide space, I have a feeling of  “returning home”. I fill my lungs with deep breaths, exhaling and begin the process of “letting go”.

In yoga, this breathing technique is known as “Ujjayi”, a Sanskrit word that means “to be victorious”. Breathing, or “Pranayama”, engages the diaphragm and the “chakras”, or “force centers”, producing a sound similar to waves crashing in the ocean. I feel a calming and quieting of my mind and begin a move inward.

“Ujjayi” is important in overcoming distractions, which prevent focus as we move towards “being in the moment”.

This mind-body connection produces a warming of the body, which increases to an intense heat in my pelvis as I bend and stretch deeply. I fuel this rise in energy with deep breaths, and become one with my movements, aware of the energy in the room created by other dedicated yogis.

I am grateful to my teacher and happily drive an hour each way to the Ashtanga Yoga Center. Nearing the end of my 1 1/2 hour practice, I complete work on a third-series pose called “Durvasana”, where I am standing with one leg behind my head. This pose requires me to stay centered and balanced, as I continue the journey inward towards my essential self.

Namaste, Jennifer Miller

“Quieting The Mind, Yoga Alows Us To Be In The Moment” By Jennifer Miller

One of the great benefits of yoga, in addition to increased strength and flexibility, is that it promotes the peaceful state necessary for self-reflection, letting us go “inward” to establish a “mind-body-spirit” connection and nourish our soul.

Other forms of physical exercise require a great deal of external focus, with our mind and body “engaged” with equipment and people around us.

Yoga allows me to “be in the moment”, quieting my mind to focus on “being where I am.”

To “be in the moment” is a goal of “meditation”.  Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder and former director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, developed “mindfulness meditation” to help people reduce the suffering coming from chronic pain and stress in their lives. This included a method of “moment-to-moment” awareness that allowed for increased “coping skills”.

Dr. Kabat-Zinn’s “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction” (MBSR) program combined Hatha Yoga and meditation to achieve extraordinary health benefits. But, in writing “Wherever You Go, There You Are”, he beautifully described what all of us can achieve when we quiet the mind:

“From the perspective of meditation, every state is a special state, every moment a special moment.”

How cool is that? Our modern society does a great job of promoting life’s “special moments” but requires most of us to “purchase” these as luxuries.

The “movements of the body” in yoga connect us to the “moments in the mind” where we can “nourish our soul”.

My yoga practice allows me to achieve serenity and peace, what many people would describe as a “special moment”.

Namaste, Jennifer Miller

“Sun Salutation” By Jennifer Miller

“Let Me Walk In Beauty” – Sioux Chief Yellow Hawk

Sioux Chief Yellow Hawk

“Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset, make my hands respect the things you have made, my ears sharp to hear your  voice. Make me wise, so that I may know the things you have taught my people, the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock.”

A Prayer by Sioux Chief, Yellow Hawk

“One Way To Live Your Life…As Though Everything Is A Miracle” – Albert Einstein

There are two ways to live your life. One is though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Albert Einstein