Heal Back Pain - The Art of Living Retreat Center

In House: Lavinia Plonka on Healing Back Pain

By Lavinia Plonka
July 9, 2018

Heal Back Pain - The Art of Living Retreat Center

The truth is out. There is no quick fix for your back pain — not in the way you have been conditioned to think of it. Back surgery has been shown to be ineffective most of the time, and often makes things worse. Epidurals and cortisone shots are temporary. And by now, everyone knows what happens when painkillers become a regular part of your life.

 

The mystery of back pain

Back pain is a mystery. Research has shown that many people with bulging discs, degeneration, structural anomalies, or tears, have no pain and lead active lives. Conversely, many people who have no structural damage suffer from chronic pain. The late Dr. John Sarno, best-selling author of Healing Back Pain, stated that most back pain was emotionally based. Pilates people will tell you it’s your core. Physical therapists will say it’s your posture. But what if it’s a little bit of everything, with age and old injuries thrown in?

 

A mindful approach to back pain

In Cathryn Jacobson Ramin’s book, Crooked: Outwitting the Back Pain Industry, Ramin tried everything to relieve her back pain, even submitting herself to surgery at the infamous Laser Spine Institute. After years of frustration, she found two approaches that helped: Back Pain Boot Camp and mindful movement. I don’t know about you, but given the choice, I’m not going for Boot Camp! In her list of mindful approaches, she credits the Feldenkrais Method as a useful approach for back pain.

 

From pain to pleasure

Unlike traditional exercise, Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement® lessons use mindful movement to re-train your brain and nervous system. The movements are luxuriously slow and offer your body the opportunity to untangle pain patterns without stress. Most of the lessons are done lying down, often with eyes closed. It’s like giving your nervous system a spa treatment from the inside out.

 

Once you learn the movements, you can do them at home to maintain your spinal health. No doctors, no surgery, no drugs. Just a commitment to your own well-being. Try a free sample, and if you scroll down the page, there’s even a lesson for your spine.

 

And if you’d like to experience the benefits of Awareness Through Movement lessons in a beautiful retreat environment, please join me August 23-26 for From Pain to Pleasure at the Art of Living Retreat Center in Boone, NC. We’ll take good care of you!

 

Additional resources

 

More information on The Feldenkrais Method

Sample lessons

 

Lavinia Plonka healed her own back pain using The Feldenkrais Method®. This inspired her to become a certified practitioner. Lavinia is considered a master teacher, as well as an internationally recognized expert in body language, offering workshops around the world. She is also the author of several bestselling books, including What Are You Afraid Of? A Body/Mind Approach to Courageous Living. Lavinia is director of Asheville Movement Center in NC, former Vice President of The North American Feldenkrais Guild and loves every opportunity to awaken people’s potential for joy. Lavinia lives by Moshe Feldenkrais’ maxim, “Movement is life. Without movement, life is unthinkable.”


Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: alignment , back pain , in house , Lavinia Plonka , spinal care , the feldenkrais method
The Feldenkrais Method - Art of Living Retreat Center

Basics of the Feldenkrais Method

By Lavinia Plonka
June 28, 2018

The Feldenkrais Method - Art of Living Retreat Center

 

The Feldenkrais Method was named after its founder, Dr Moshe Feldenkrais. He was always interested in how we learn, how the brain works, and how the body and brain work together. This method was actually created to rehabilitate himself from his own injuries sustained as an athlete and martial artist.

 

Rewiring the body with the Feldenkrais Method

In breaking down his own challenges, he started to discover that he could actually rewire his nervous system. He was half a century ahead of his time — he had ideas that now some of us have taken for granted as common knowledge, such as the fact that the brain doesn’t stop growing. He was one of the first people to talk about the holism of the body, that every part contains the other part.

 

During the course of his life, Feldenkrais developed thousands of different movement sequences and also worked one-on-one with thousands of people, leaving an incredible wealth of knowledge to draw upon.

 

Awareness through movement

Feldenkrais lessons are also known as Awareness Through Movement, which is a lot easier to say than Feldenkrais! It is the awareness of what I’m doing that actually creates the changes, and reprograms the nervous system, allowing me to find new ways to move.

 

My story with back pain

I actually got into this work because of my own pain. I speak from major experience — I was a performer for many, many years, and every time I wasn’t on stage, I was in pain. I tried everything, but it wasn’t until I discovered Feldenkrais’ writings that I began to realize that a lot of what was going on for me was habit, emotion, and tension that I was carrying in my body from a lifetime of ballet lessons and different attitudes from my childhood.

 

Once I started to unscramble those tensions, I began to move better and feel better. There was a huge change in my well-being. I could actually move around without my back hurting, which was amazing as a performer. I was more flexible. I didn’t need as much of a warm-up. I was more relaxed on stage, more present in my body. All of this began to allow me to move in a direction that I’d put aside when i was young, which was to write. Feldenkrais said that his method helps us realize our avowed and our unavowed dreams. The awareness of movement that his method encouraged helped me feel an opening of the emotional and creative spectrums of my life as well.

 

Widening the field of attention

Feldenkrais said that at every moment, we are thinking, sensing, feeling, and moving. How do we include all of that in our field of attention? The brain and the body are the same thing, it’s not the brain watching the body.

 

We define pain as the body’s response to disorganization. To be able to move with freedom and without pain allows you to live the life that you want. It’s the ability to be spontaneous, to be able to plan, to be clear about what your intention is, and for you to just feel better.

 

Less pain, more gain

There’s no strain in the Feldenkrais method, in fact, our motto is “Less pain, more gain.” We never try to push through–we use pain as information. When we encounter discomfort, we use it as an opportunity to check in with the rest of our body. There are a thousand things we can discover about ourselves in these slow, delicate movements.

 

Everything is interconnected. Your entire body is there all the time–you’re an information system. Everything in your body is responding to the information that you’re receiving. Everything is participating in the pattern of pain and supporting the pattern that you unconsciously choose. Nothing happens in isolation.

 

Everything is connected

If you think about a bridge, and your bones are the steel structures of the bridge, and the tendons and your ligaments and your muscles are the cables, imagine that one cable is a little too loose or too tight. That would affect the entire structure of the bridge, right? Eventually it will be in need of repair, or it will collapse. Every little thing that takes us out of our organization affects the entire system.

 

One of the side effects of the Feldenkrais method is relaxation. When our nervous system calms down, we kick into what’s called the parasympathetic mode which governs our healing, our learning, and our rest. When we experience that parasympathetic response, we are actually able to learn better than if we were straining.

 

Feldenkrais at every age

People at different stages of their lives experience different benefits. When people are young and active and athletic, if they integrate Feldenkrais method into their lives, they’re less prone to injury. They perform at higher levels. In the world of sports and the arts, the Feldenkrais method is used a lot by dancers, actors, musicians, athletes, because it takes you past your perceived limitations. You hit a wall — how do I go further? For the aging population, it’s a great way to maintain flexibility and maintain your balance.

 

Lavinia Plonka healed her own back pain using The Feldenkrais Method®. This inspired her to become a certified practitioner. Lavinia is considered a master teacher, as well as an internationally recognized expert in body language, offering workshops around the world. She is also the author of several bestselling books, including What Are You Afraid Of? A Body/Mind Approach to Courageous Living. Lavinia is director of Asheville Movement Center in NC, former Vice President of The North American Feldenkrais Guild and loves every opportunity to awaken people’s potential for joy. Lavinia lives by Moshe Feldenkrais’ maxim, “Movement is life. Without movement, life is unthinkable.”

 

Join Lavinia at the Art of Living Retreat Center from August 23rd-26th, 2018 for Moving Into Freedom From Back Pain, and change your relationship to your pain forever.

 

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: alignment , back pain , Feldenkrais Method , Lavinia Plonka , mindfulness , pain
Healing Osteoporosis with Yoga

In House: Healing Osteoporosis with the Fishman Method

By Loren Fishman
April 9, 2018

Healing Osteoporosis with Yoga

 

When I started doing research into yoga and osteoporosis in 2006, I suspected it might have good results for my patients, many of whom were frightened and searching for holistic ways to improve their bone health. At that time it didn’t occur to me that I would publish startlingly positive results in peer-reviewed medical journals, or that my method could help in significant ways.

 

This work with osteoporosis has been tremendously gratifying for me. I hope it has possibilities for the 55 million people who have osteopenia and osteoporosis in the United states alone, and who are prone to breaking or fracturing bones, putting their lives and mobility in danger.

 

A history of the Fishman Method

My first pilot study of only 20 patients showed that participants gained .76 and .94 points on their T scores for spine and hips, respectively when compared with controls, which was statistically significant.

Those results heartened me, and I embarked on a second, bigger study. There were 741 participants in that study, and they did my 12-pose yoga sequence daily for at least two years. Monthly gains were reported for the spine, the hip and the femur. There were no serious injuries of any kind in over 100,000 hours of practice. More than 80% of these participants had osteoporosis, or bone density verging on osteoporosis – osteopenia.

 

Because of these fantastic results for these men and women who gained bone density and strength, I decided to create a program to teach yoga teachers, yoga therapists and students of yoga my method. That successful program has now been running for two years.

 

Join the healing revolution

Today 118 certified practitioners are qualified to teach my method to strengthen bones, and they are working thirty-five states and eight countries!

Training to become certified (or just to learn how to increase your own bone strength) includes on-line education that provides scientific background about bones, how they are formed, how they lose strength, how they can regain density and strength. We review standard drugs given for osteopenia and osteoporosis – their effects and their side effects.

Once students have this scientific/medical background, it’s time to put it to use. At the beautiful, restful, spiritually satisfying Art of Living Retreat Center, we go into the perfectly appointed, spotlessly clean studio, with its polished wood floors, its wide array of props and its atmosphere of peace and calm. There we practice the yoga poses that lead up to my sequence of yoga asana proven to arrest and reverse bone loss. After that we learn the sequence and how to effectively teach it to others. There are two tests – one on the scientific material (for non-scientists) and a practical test of actually teaching one or two poses. So far, 9 out of 10 people pass these tests. Those who don’t pass can arrange to be retested.

The beauty of this is that once certified, participants can teach others and can join the dose-response study that is continuing. I am working on a second series of poses and plan to continually expand this program to help all those who are at risk for fractures or breaks to protect themselves.

 

Unlike the medicines, the side effects of yoga are better balance, better posture, wider range of motion, greater strength, enhanced coordination and lower anxiety.

 

Testimonials

“I am a 68 year old retired physician who took yoga up seriously about 4 years ago. I made great improvements in my bone densities, pulling back from osteoporosis to osteopenia – my bone density test last year was more like it had been 10 years ago.”  – Judith E.

“Amazing results possible! I went from severe osteoporosis (told to stop weight-bearing exercise) to no osteoporosis in 9 yearswith a daily yoga practice. My increase in bone density over these 9 years? 38.6%.”  – Eric M.

 

If you’re a yoga teacher professional, you’re invited to join Loren Fishman for his upcoming healing and teaching reatreat, Yoga vs. Osteoporosis, from May 30th to June 3rd.

 

Loren Fishman, MD, B. Phil., and author, is one of the few physicians practicing medicine who incorporates yoga into his regular treatment protocols and offers patients individual yoga therapy. He has completed peer-reviewed studies into the efficacy of yoga for medical conditions including osteoporosis, rotator cuff tear, scoliosis, ocular pressure and other conditions.

   

Interested in learning more about Ayurveda and the programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: bone health , bone strength , Fishman method , in house , osteoporosis

The Practice: The Fishman Method – Yoga for Osteoporosis

By Paige Reist
May 5, 2017

Loren Fishman - Yoga for Osteoporosis

 

Loren Fishman, MD, B. Phil., is one of the few physicians practicing medicine who incorporates yoga into his regular treatment protocols and offers patients individual yoga therapy. This spring, he joins us at the Art of Living Retreat Center to share his unique and effective program with yoga practitioners, yoga teachers and therapists, physical therapists, nurses, physicians and health insurance leaders. Loren shares his journey to developing his unique method. 

Yoga and Osteoporosis

I’d heard from my friends and colleagues that it was extremely dangerous to teach yoga to osteoporotic or even osteopenic people. However, I wanted to explore whether that was accurate or not. So I did DEXA scans (the definitive test of bone mineral density) on a number of patients with osteoporosis and osteopenia, and invited half of them to come to classes I taught in my office after patient hours, and kept the other half as controls. I did this for two years, up to 2008.

 

When we got DEXA scans again, the yoga group had gained quite a bit of bone mineral density. The controls lost a little, and there were no significant injuries of any kind. Not even repetitive stress injuries – if you’re practicing yoga properly, stress injuries are quite uncommon.

It worked well, but I didn’t think these results were publishable yet. My son happened to pass by my desk and said, “Dad, give me the data.” In 5 minutes, he showed me that these results were statistically significant. A few months later, we published “Yoga for Osteoporosis – A pilot study.” Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation 25, No. 3, 2009 pp. 244-250. 

 

Creating the Program

At this point, I really became enthusiastic. It seemed to me that there might be a way that any person could use yoga to improve bone strength, so I hired a camera man from Harvard, a director from Columbia, and a friend who is sometimes a Broadway actor, took two friends and myself as models, and created a DVD of yoga for osteoporosis.

 

We made a thousand copies of the DVD, and gave them away to people willing to do blood tests, a urine test, and give a current DEXA, as well as another one after two years of practice. The tests ruled out nutritional, hormonal, and metabolic reasons for weak bones.

 

I chose poses that I thought would strengthen the most frequent fracture sites; the spine, the hip, and the femur. Happily, those are also the three sites measured by most DEXA scans. We made the DVD with three versions of each pose; a beginner’s version, an intermediate version, and the classical version of each pose.

The difficult part was that we needed an older DEXA scan too, in order to make this into a before-after study. We needed to compare what happened to people in the two years before they started doing this yoga (although many had done some yoga before), with how their bones fared after they did this yoga daily for two years.

 

This was an Internet-recruited study, and the 1000 people that received the DVD were from all over the world. Eight years later, over 240 of the recipients complied, and sent in previous DEXA scans, and many sent before-and-after X-rays, too. All the information went to Bernard Rosner, Professor of Biostatistics at Harvard.

The Results Are In: Yoga Improves Bone Density

It took more than a month to get anything back from him. In the meantime, I was ruminating as to whether I’d just wasted ten years of my life.

 

Eventually, we got the statistical results: .001 significant improvement in the spine and femur, with improvement in the hip as well.

 

We published this study soon after as Twelve-Minute Daily Yoga Regimen Reverses Osteoporotic Bone Loss.” Lu, Yi-Hsueh; Rosner, Bernard; Chang, Gregory; Fishman, Loren M. Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation: April/June 2016 – Volume 32 – Issue 2 – p 81–87.

 

Over 80% of the people in the study reversed their bone loss and began to gain bone. No fractures or serious injuries of any kind were seen or reported in over 100,000 hours of people doing this yoga daily. Over 80% of them had osteoporosis or osteopenia when we started. Fewer had these conditions when we finished.

The Future of Yoga and Osteoporosis

We are now working on another study which we call a dose-response study,. In these, we have participants see a teacher who is trained in our yoga every two weeks to see what “dose” of yoga the participants are giving themselves. Then we’ll see what happens to their DEXA scans in two years.

We’ve also developed alternative sets to ward off the inevitable ennui of doing the same poses day in and day out. New alternatives also strengthen the bones in the wrist, the fourth most probable fracture site. We have put the first group, the group we’ve already proven to work, online for free on Youtube, offer DVDs on sciatica.org.

We also give workshops such as the one at the Art of Living Retreat center in North Carolina. Additionally, we offer online training to teach yoga teachers to train people to do these poses at their proper level. This is an effective, innocuous, and quite valuable skill for yoga teachers to acquire.

Join Loren Fishman at Yoga vs. Osteoporosis from May 31st to June 4th at the Art of Living Retreat Center!

 

Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here!

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: art of living , art of living retreat center , Fishman method , healing , loren fishman , osteoporosis , yoga , yoga practice , yoga retreat
feldenkrais workshop north carolina

In House: Lavinia Plonka on Your Sixth Sense

By Lavinia Plonka
March 5, 2017

feldenkrais workshop north carolina

 

Imagine being so aware that even as you reach for a cup of coffee, you sense the muscles in your back supporting your hand. The quality of each finger’s touch as it wraps around the cup. The momentary intake of breath as you carefully lift it to your lips. The fluttering of your eyelids as you sip.

 

Constant Movement, Constant Awareness

The human organism has the potential to experience this peak awareness, not just during moments of heightened danger or demand, but every moment. By developing this ability, you move more effectively and listen more carefully. You make fewer mistakes, injure yourself less, and enrich your life as well as the lives of those around you. Whether you have limitations due to an injury, or if you’re at the peak of your performance, you can improve, grow, and enjoy your life more fully.
We are always in movement. Even sitting at the computer involves a complex series of signals throughout the nervous system that keep the mouse moving, the toes tapping, the forehead wrinkling. These habitual movements help get the job done – the foot knowing when to step on the brakes, the hand knowing how to hold the toothbrush. But many of these habits also cause pain and limitation. Hunched shoulders, grinding teeth, and a tense lower back are just a few examples of what Moshe Feldenkrais called parasitic habits – they help you through a portion of recovery, and then they create greater problems.

 

Anti-Yoga: The Feldenkrais Method

Research has proven that the nervous system can learn to create new patterns, new ‘neural pathways’, for a more rewarding life. It does this most effectively through movement – the language of the body. The Feldenkrais Method® uses subtle, sophisticated movements to teach people how to literally reorganize themselves – improve range of motion, reduce pain, and live a fuller life. Yet, it is gentle, effortless, and safe for everyone. Houstonia Magazine recently called it the ‘anti-yoga’. 

It’s not flexible bodies I’m after, it’s flexible brains.
– Moshe Feldenkrais, founder of the Feldenkrais Method

If you’d like to experience the joy of enhanced awareness and effortless movement, you owe it to yourself to join us for Your Sixth Sense at the Art of Living Retreat Center.

Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: art of living , art of living retreat center , Feldenkrais , flexibility , Lavinia Plonka , pain management , yoga , yoga practice , yoga retreat
Art of Silence Retreats

Art of Silence: Philip Fraser on Stillness and Alignment

By Dr. Elizabeth Herman, PhD
February 24, 2017

Art of Silence Retreats
We recently caught up with Philip Fraser, who has been teaching the Art of Silence since the early 1990s, to talk about the power of stillness and alignment. Philip offers his insights on letting go of distractions, becoming more present and aligned, and channeling balance and energy through the practice of stillness.

 

Being in Alignment

If someone is out of alignment with themselves, and therefore harming their own system, chances are they’re going to be insensitive to others around them and to the environment as well. But when we’re in alignment, we are sensitive to our own nature and to the world around us. Alignment starts at an individual level – so how do we get back into it?

Children are completely in alignment with themselves. They know when they’re tired or hungry; when they’re upset, they cry, when they’re happy, they laugh. There is no filter, no interruption between the emotion and the action. This is our natural state.

To re-align yourself with your experience, you need to allow yourself to experience your feelings and process your situations like a child would. In this way, you give yourself an outlet, which in turn gives you a degree of separation after the fact. You have already experienced a reaction, so these problems don’t have the chance to take over your mind later on.

Of course, we need to have the ability to perform socially in order to exist in the world, and that means we can’t cry whenever we feel like it – but this often leads to a complete disconnection with ourselves, and we can’t seem to reconnect.

There is no filter, no interruption between emotion and action. This is our natural state.
 

Stillness

A very simple way to process these feelings, to come back into alignment with yourself, is just to practice stillness. Not just physical stillness, but mental as well. You’re giving yourself a break.

The average person never stops. We are inundated with external stimuli, and are trained to be constantly multitasking. Not many people will feel comfortable sitting quietly or focusing on one task anymore – you see it in airports, for instance. Nobody is content to just sit there. We are constantly involved in some form of activity.

 

Balance

One of the many results of this constant activity is the inability to comfortably fall asleep. We don’t feel like our minds are capable of settling down at night.

Nature works in cycles – you have day and night, light and dark, winter and spring, and at the root of all of these, dormancy and activity. Your mind and body need that stillness, that silence, to properly rest.

I illustrate this with an analogy of a bow and arrow. If you want the arrow to fly far one way, you pull it back in the opposite direction and let go. Instictively, we know this, but nowadays it’s hard to find the time and place to slow down, turn off our cell phones, and spend time with nature and with ourselves. The silence course gives us an opportunity to do this.

 

Releasing Thoughts and Emotions

Stillness rejuvenates us, it allows us to release our thoughts and feelings by experiencing them. We tend to deal with emotions by experiencing them briefly, then putting them away and claiming we’re fine. But these emotions don’t go away – they become dormant, stored inside of you. And so many of us just leave them there, or dwell on them, neither of which are helpful strategies.

The silence retreat helps us to realign ourselves in a formal way, through meditation and focused attention to the breath and body. During meditation, we often, without even trying, work through those old dormant emotions.

This doesn’t mean that you need to re-live traumatic events, or have a breakdown – it’s just, very simply, a time of letting go. There is definitely a degree of separation when you are observant of your feelings – “This is how I’m feeling right now”, or “This is what’s happening in my thoughts”. This awareness is enough to release those emotions, to send them on their way. It is a bit of a challenge, because we are not used to being alone with ourselves, facing ourselves like that. But it’s transformative.

 

Pure Energy

Another way of realigning ourselves is to realize that we are, quite simply, pure energy. For example, kids have so much great energy, and they spring back so easily from every emotion. That fluidity, that flexibility, is our nature. Our nature is to be diverse; our nature is to have a lot of varied emotions going on at any given moment.

We enjoy, live, and thrive on the full experience of life, the dark and light. It is what makes us whole.

At some point, we start to deny any negative thoughts or emotions within ourselves. We strive to only feel happiness. But can you imagine going to a movie and watching people being happy for two yours? It would be torture! We enjoy, live, and thrive on the full experience of life, the dark and light. It is what makes us whole.

To learn more about Silent Retreats, click here. 

Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: alignment , emotion , lifestyle , meditation , nature , silence , wisdom

Philip Fraser on Art of Silence: Activities and Benefits

By Dr. Elizabeth Herman, PhD
June 13, 2016

Art of Silence Retreats

We sat down with Philip Fraser to talk about the Art of Silence course, which he started teaching in the early 1990s. He currently teaches it every few months. Here, he describes in detail the process of this course and its many benefits.

 

Silence and Consciousness

The subject matter of this course, and the purpose of silence, is consciousness. That’s why it’s a unique course. You can do participate over and over; you can come back to this course many times. The material doesn’t become old.

 

We generally wake up fairly early; there’s a lot of energy in that part of the day, so that alone is rejuvenating. Then we have a yoga practice and a breathing techniques session, followed by breakfast and some little tasks and jobs that people perform in a group (seva). It gives participants a wonderful sense of belonging.

 

Guided meditations are also a big part of being in silence. We’re not in silence the whole time, of course, but the combined hours of silence add up to two full days.

 

More Energy, More Discipline

The first benefit of this course that people notice is the energy – participants feel lighter, clearer, more awake.

 

Sometimes people take the Happiness course, which is the first part of the series, but find it hard to be regular with that, to create the routine needed and be disciplined about it. But what you find after the Silence course is that your motivation and discipline transforms. You become almost addicted to the process of taking care of yourself.

 

Watching Your Own Mind

The second benefit is felt on an even deeper level – you become aware of your own mind. What you’ll notice is it’s either in this happy or neutral state, or a little bit unhappy. This sequence happens throughout any day of our lives. Some moments in the day we feel everything is good; and some moments it’s just kind of boring, and some moments something wrong has happened.

 

On this course, you get to watch your mind and its cycles. There’s no distraction. There’s nothing to blame your moods on, but you’ll still watch your moods fluctuate. It’s not an intellectual process, but just by experience, just by noticing your moods, you get a little bit of distance from it. That realization comes: “I’m not just my mind; I’m not just my thoughts.” That is the point at which you experience true happiness.

 

For example, when you watch a movie, you enjoy every element of the plot, even the parts that make you sad, anxious, or angry. Life is like that as well. Silence helps us realize that our plot is not everything that we are – this gives you have the ability to be in your emotions 100% when they arise. We temper ourselves so much, repress our anger, explain away our sadness, so this is a revolutionary thing for many people.

 

Kids are great at this. They go 100% into their emotions, and they release them just as easily.

They’ll fight with their friend and say, “You’re not my friend anymore; I hate you.” They’re really fully feeling it, they mean what they say – but five minutes later, everything is fine.

 

Later in life when you fight, you’re so much trying to control everything, you don’t have that resilience anymore in your own mind, energy and consciousness. So you fight with your friend, and possibly it could be for many years! “You’re not my friend anymore!” If that comes up as an adult, you’re in a lawsuit; you’re in some crazy thing that’s absorbing so much of your life force. So that ability to be in an emotion, let it go, and accept it: this unique skill is what we teach.

 

Happiness in the Moment

We think happiness comes from control. We think, “If I have enough money, I can just go anywhere. When I want to be in Paris for lunch, I can at any moment, and that’s when I’m gonna be happy.” Because that’s control; we can do whatever we want. If that were the case then everyone who had that degree of financial freedom would be so happy. But they may not be.

That realization comes: “I’m not just my mind; I’m not just my thoughts.” That is the point at which you experience true happiness.

 

You ask someone, “What do you need to be happy and when will you be happy?” They’ll always say, “It’s not based on anything.” Instinctively, we know that. But this is the way to achieve it: this course and these practices. You can have that. It’s something that you culture in your system.

 

Many people think, “If I just read a book about the present moment that’s enough.” Reading does help; it’s a definite eye-opener. But that’s only part of it. Really, by direct experience and by systematically going through that and finding yourself there again and again, you’ll start to say, “Yeah, it’s like this. I am more than just the thoughts. I am more than this mood or event or these labels they put in front of me.” Then you’ll find it.

To learn more about our Silent Retreats, click here. 

 

Interested in learning more about programs at the Art of Living Retreat Center? Check out our annual catalog here.

 

Yoga Retreat Catalog for NC

TAGS: happiness , healthy lifestyle , Sleep , yoga retreat

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