How to Deal with Challenging Relationships - Art of Living Retreat Center

How to Deal With Challenging Relationships

By Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
November 8, 2018

How to Deal with Challenging Relationships - Art of Living Retreat Center

 

Life is not a sheep yard or a cowshed, but a zoo. You find all types of people in life, not just others who are like you. The most intelligent, the most creative, and the most dull, hyperactive, or lazy ones are all here — whatever their behavior is, don’t worry about them. It is an exercise for you to enjoy all types of people. Everyone does their job.

 

If you sit and talk to people, they are beautiful human beings. Everyone is a nice person. To change someone’s perception or behavior, even your own, takes its own sweet time, so we shouldn’t worry about these things.

 

Some are here to test your patience, so how patient could you be? Some are there to show you where your buttons are. All of life is like this exercise.

 

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is a humanitarian and spiritual leader, an ambassador of peace and human values. Through his life and work, Sri Sri has inspired millions around the world with a vision of a stress-free, violence-free world.  He has founded courses that provide techniques and tools to live a deeper, more joyous life and he has established nonprofit organizations that recognize a common human identity above the boundaries of race, nationality, and religion.

   

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

 

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TAGS: mindfulness , relationships , sri sri ravi shankar

Exploring Wisdom: Shakta Khalsa on the Energy Between Us

By Shakta Khalsa
October 5, 2018

The Energy Between Us - Art of Living Retreat Center

 

Every thought, every feeling, every action has a particular frequency of energy or vibration. The American Heritage Dictionary defines vibration, in the sense that I am using it, as: A distinctive emotional aura or atmosphere regarded as being instinctively sensed or experienced.

 

Tuning into your emotional aura and energy

I like the description of vibration as an “emotional aura,” because I feel it accurately describes the tone of the frequency that we emanate at any moment. If I am sad, my emotional aura, or signal, is of the frequency of sadness. And if I am happy, the signal I emit is joy. Others who come into my energy field pick up on that signal either consciously or unconsciously and respond to it. The really good news is that we can learn to become mindful of our vibration and, with practice, consciously choose the vibration we want to feel.

 

This atmosphere of thinking, in terms of energy and vibration, is the new luminous space we are feeling for in our relationship to ourselves and, in turn, with our children.

 

The true impact of disengagement

Consider this scenario and the various energy vibrations it contains: Mom (or Dad) is driving with a 4-year-old who is sitting in their car seat in the back. They are driving down a highway when another car cuts them off, and Mom has to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident. Mom begins to swear, then tries to calm down. The child notices the dramatic change in her parent’s energy. This child can tell that something upsetting has happened, so she asks, “What’s the matter, Mom?”

 

Now, Mom can either use this as a time to “protect” the child by saying, “Nothing, honey. Everything is fine.” Then Mom looks at the small child through the rearview mirror trying to smile, but it really doesn’t reach her eyes because she’s scared. The child, being intuitive and instinctive to feelings, knows that something is not fine.

 

So this one little incident becomes one of many little incidents for the child, and over time the child will begin to believe that either: (1) Adults do not tell the truth because what they say does not match with what I can feel, so they cannot always be trusted, or (2) Since adults are bigger and wiser and must be telling the truth, I must not be perceiving this correctly. This is how a child begins the path of mistrusting his or her own guidance.

 

Choosing presence and intention

Now, since every cloud has a proverbial silver lining, we can turn this same scenario around so that it becomes a gift. The same thing happens, but this time when the child says, “What’s the matter, Mom?” Mom says, “That car cut me off and I got scared we’d have an accident, so I got a little upset. But everything is okay now. I am calming myself down by taking some deep breaths; do you want to do it with me?” And she glances at her child with an encouraging smile. Now the child can relax and feel safe. She also gained three profound understandings:

  • Things happen in life that I may get upset about.
  • It is okay to admit that.
  • There are tools, like breathing, that I can use to help myself feel better on the spot and recover my connection to my inner self.

Obviously Mom or Dad or Teacher would do well to practice centering techniques such as breathing or meditation at times when there is a lull in the action. Centering practices set the stage for positive experiences when life with children is presenting the threat of a storm, and can even help avoid a full-blown hurricane-level interaction.

 

Learning to remain centered for yourself and your child

In my yoga path, we always take a moment to center with the breath or sound before starting a project. It is a great habit to get into, even for small things such as answering the phone mindfully, getting ready to drive the car, or having a conversation with your child. The centering makes all the difference in the interaction. In my Montessori training, we were told to get on the level of the child and look into their eyes with an open, supportive attitude. I think of it as answering an invitation into their world.

 

More and more parents and teachers are practicing the “highest yoga” by relating to children with an attitude of wholeness of body, mind, and spirit. Life becomes so interesting, and yes, even extraordinary—once we start the inner journey toward being who we actually are, our authentic selves. It’s at this place that we sense what truly exists and find ways to deal with what life brings us in a more graceful, connected manner.

 

Do you feel called to share the joy of yoga with children? Join Shakta for her Radiant Child Yoga Training at the Art of Living Retreat Center from November 7th-11th, 2018, and contribute to the building of a more peaceful world.

 

This article is excerpted from The Yoga Way to Radiance by Shakta Khalsa. © 2016. Used by permission from Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd and reposted with permission from the author.

 

Shakta Khalsa, ERYT-500 and IKYTA certified Kundalini Yoga teacher, is a leading expert on children and yoga.. She is a parent, Montessori educator, and a yoga professional recognized by Yoga Journal magazine as one of the top five Kundalini Yoga teachers in the world. Shakta is the Founder and Director of Radiant Child® Yoga, an internationally-known training program for teaching children yoga and working with/raising children consciously.  In the children’s yoga community, Shakta is considered the “godmother” of the children’s yoga movement.

 

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

 

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TAGS: childhood , children , energy , intuition , meditation , mindfulness , parenting
Pain Management - Art of Living Retreat center

Pain is a Message: How Our Brains Try to Protect Us

By Dr. Howard Schubiner
October 4, 2018

Pain Management - Art of Living Retreat center

 

Most people don’t really understand how powerful the mind can be. However, every doctor knows that the mind can cause symptoms that are as severe as paralysis or inability to speak. This is known as a “conversion disorder,” and an individual with this condition truly cannot move the affected arms or legs or truly cannot speak.

 

Yet, in these situations, there is absolutely no physical damage to the muscles or nerves, a fact that can be documented by routine medical testing. Their brain has caused this syndrome and it is reversible. When the actual diagnosis is made and a physical injury is ruled out, if the person gets psychological help to figure out what social and emotional issues caused the brain to do this, the symptoms will typically resolve.

 

The power of Couvade syndrome

The brain can cause symptoms of pregnancy in men whose wives are pregnant. This is known as Couvade syndrome. Medical students sometimes get symptoms of the disorders they are learning about—sometimes ironically termed “medical studentitis.” In rare cases, the brain can cause death, which has been documented to occur when induced by voodoo or reported to have even happened as a result of a cruel prank.

 

If the mind can cause these severe disorders, why wouldn’t it be able to produce pain? In fact, we now know that the mind can cause a wide variety of painful syndromes, including tension headaches, migraine headaches, neck and back pain, abdominal and pelvic pain, jaw and facial pain, and almost any other pain syndrome you can name.

 

Of course, medical conditions can also cause any pain syndrome, and careful evaluations are necessary to distinguish the two. The important point to remember is that the mind can do this, so it makes sense to at least consider that possibility, especially when the pain goes becomes chronic and eludes a clear medical explanation.

 

Pain is a function of the brain

This occurs because the brain is trying to send us a message. Pain is a function of the brain, i.e., pain occurs when the brain activates a danger or alarm signal. Certainly physical injuries can activate that signal, but not all physical injuries cause pain. In a study from World War II, two-thirds of injured soldiers in a medical unit did not admit to having pain.

 

Children who skin their knees often do not have pain, or may cry only when they see their parent run towards them with a worried look. A close friend of mine accidentally shot a nail through his finger and had no pain at all while he drove to the hospital.

 

Conversely, a man in Britain jumped off scaffolding and impaled his foot on a large nail. His pain was immediate and severe enough that it required intravenous sedation and pain medication. However, when his boot was removed, the nail was lodged in between his toes and had not injured him. (Reference: Minerva. British Medical Journal. 1995, 310: 70.) His pain was caused by the brain activating a powerful danger/alarm signal.

 

How your mind looks out for your body

Over the past decade, I have seen hundreds of people with pain and other conditions caused by the mind. I have learned that pain is a message that the brain is sending to us. Since (unfortunately) the message is not in English, it is up to us to interpret it in order to make the correct diagnosis. If you break your ankle, your brain will activate pain, and the message is: “Stop walking on that foot and get a cast.” If your neck begins to hurt after your boss repeatedly criticizes you, the pain is telling you that your boss is “a pain in the neck.”

 

I once saw a woman who had pain in her buttocks. I asked when that pain began and she stated, “About the time my husband retired.” I saw a woman with foot pain and after she learned about the mind body connection, she began to get the feeling that her pain was symbolic of her feeling that she “couldn’t stand what was happening” in her family.

 

Emotional conditions manifest in the body

Of course, not all pain is symbolic. It is up to the brain to “choose” what kind of message it gives to us at any particular moment. However, all pain has a message of some kind, whether related to a physical condition or a psychological situation. While many people with mind-body pain begin to feel that their brain has betrayed them by giving them such pain, in actuality, their brain is trying to protect them from what the brain perceives to be a dangerous situation in their body or their life.

 

The brain of a man who developed anxiety and headache when he went to work perceived work to be dangerous in some way. His brain experienced him walking into work as if he were walking into a building on fire and created a powerful message (anxiety and pain) to warn him of that “extreme danger.” In order to recover, he had to override that message by telling his brain that he was not in danger and that he needed the pain to subside. He also may have needed to alter his work or his reaction to people at work in some important ways.

 

Mind-body conditions

The concept of the brain trying to protect us was dramatically demonstrated to me last week. I saw a young man who had widespread pain that kept getting worse and worse. I evaluated him and it was very clear that he suffered from a mind-body condition. After gaining that understanding and as he began to deal with the issues in his life, he began to improve and feel that he had more control over his symptoms. However, some added stress caused him to develop new symptoms, and he began to have thoughts of suicide.

 

He made a rash decision to end his life and got into his car to find a bridge from which he could jump. As he put his hands on the steering wheel, he suddenly lost all feeling in his pinky finger on his right hand. He found it hard to grip the steering wheel, and suddenly he “came to his senses” and got out of the car. He is alive and now recovering from his painful syndrome. His brain had produced the pain as a message to alert him to some very difficult situations in his life, but it also sent him the powerful message of numb finger to prevent him from taking his own life.

 

For chronic pain, the problem might not be in the body, but in the mind

If you know people who are suffering from severe and chronic pain, please alert them to the possibility that their brain is giving them a message and causing pain. If medical evaluations do not reveal a clear cause of their symptoms, the problem might not be in the body, but in the mind. In these situations, which are more common than most people realize, there is hope for recovery. Their life may depend on it.

 

Unlearn your pain, earn CME credits, and empower your practice with concrete knowledge of an emerging model of care that brings together cutting-edge research and advanced clinical interventions. Dr. Howard Schubiner hosts Beyond Pain Management at the Art of Living Retreat Center from November 30 – December 2, 2018.

 

Dr. Howard Schubiner was a full Professor at Wayne State University for 18 years and now works at Providence Hospital in Southfield, MI.  He has authored over 60 publications in scientific journals and books and performed research in the fields of adolescent health, ADHD and stress reduction. Dr. Schubiner is the founder and director of the Mind Body Medicine Program at Providence Hospital.

 

This article first appeared on Psychology Today, and is reposted with permission from the author.


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: mindfulness , neurology , pain , pain management , wellness
Keep the Drama on the Page - Art of Living Retreat Center

Keep the Drama on the Page

By Julia Cameron
October 3, 2018

Keep the Drama on the Page - Art of Living Retreat Center

 

Drama belongs on the page. We have a mythology which tells us writers’ lives are dramatic, but this mythology does not serve us. Writers’ lives are best non-dramatic. It serves us to keep drama at bay.

 

Writing when you just don’t feel like it

Today I woke up tired and crabby. I didn’t fall asleep until 2:30 AM, and this morning I was filled with anxiety— and might I add, drama. Fatigue clouded my thoughts and the day looked bleak ahead of me. I tried to sleep again, but was unsuccessful, and eventually I got up and filled myself with coffee. Still, I was “tired and wired”— anxious and fatigued. I didn’t want to write. I wasn’t “in the mood.” And yet, I knew the act of writing would bring me cheer.

I set my pen to the page. I had learned from long years of practice that writing always cheered me. I wrote about the clouded-obscured mountain out the window. The weather matched my dour mood. The day was grey and chill. I complained on the page. Nothing suited me. But what was this? My rancor was yielding to a stronger, better mood.

 

Moving to optimism

“I don’t want to write,” I wrote, “I’m full of drama and pessimism today.” And yet, in writing, I found myself gently moved to optimism. My mood lightened perceptibly. I found myself ready to write further. It was as if by putting my dour sentiments on the page I underwent an exorcism. The demon despair was vanquished. I found myself open-hearted. My sour mood transformed slowly into something more like hope. I wrote, “It is a grey day, but the clouds are thinning. A hint of blue sky looms overhead. And what’s this? Now we have a glint of sun. The day promises to become bright. My mood follows suit.” I have been writing for half an hour, not very long, but long enough. My mood could now be described as “cheery.” Writing has rescued the day from the dramatic doldrums I woke up in.

 

Join Julia at the Art of Living Retreat Center from November 9th-11th, 2018 for her retreat, The Artist’s Way: Blasting Through Blocks. 

 

Julia Cameron the Artist's Way

Julia Cameron has been an active artist for over four decades. She is the author of more than forty books, including such bestselling works on the creative process as The Artist’s Way, Walking in This World and Finding Water. Also a novelist, playwright, songwriter and poet, she has multiple credits in theater, film and television. 2017 marked the 25th anniversary of The Artist’s Way, with over five million copies sold.

 

This post first appeared on juliacameronlive.com, and is reposted with permission from the author.

 

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

 

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TAGS: Julia Cameron , mindfulness , optimism , spirituality , wisdom
Art of Living - Work Life Integration

Four Key Lessons along the Journey to Work-Life Integration

By Jennifer H.G. Connelly
September 20, 2018

Art of Living - Work Life Integration

 

An eternal student, I have intense curiosity about this life, about my purpose, about what I find to be truly meaningful. 10 years ago, after the birth of my 3rd child, I began a journey of deep inquiry about work life balance and discovered the empowering gift of integration. Integration brings with it the idea of inherent wholeness, a sense of deep interconnectedness, and both the art and science of living well in relationship with self and others.

 

Here are 4 lessons that I continue to practice. From this place, I am tapping into the wisdom of living an integrated life.

 

1 – Open Heart/Mind to Learning

I often carry around a rainbow-colored backpack that my daughter gave me as a reminder of my commitment to ongoing learning. From the place of student, I open my heart and mind to new teachers, to new methodologies, to new training, and to the works of the many souls who have passionately committed themselves to going deeper and discovering what is unknown to them. I delight in the questions, in the discovery, in the Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind of it all. And from that place, I feel a sense of wholeness and interconnectedness to myself and those around me. The spirit of this led me to yoga teacher training, to Birkman Method certification, to coaching certification with Newfield Network and Tiara International. I delight in sharing, with others and my clients, the jewels I’ve learned along the way to see what resonates with them.

 

2 – Elicit the Support of Mentors and Loved Ones

I learned, sometimes through failure and disappointment, that I do not need to go through this journey alone. At times when I fell down or lost hope, what was instrumental in lifting me out of the fog of uncertainty was the compassion, love and wisdom of my support network and my mentors along the way. What I discovered is that it is not a one-sided conversation but a mutual sharing of love and understanding that is exchanged when I spend time with them and reveal my vulnerable heart. This interconnected web of people in my life helps me feel deeply loved and connected to something much larger than myself.

 

3 – Shift from Limiting to an Empowering Mindset

I experienced a huge breakthrough in working with a coach on a limiting mindset of “this is too hard.” From our discussion, I was able to shift the observer within myself to create a new, empowering mindset on completing a project with ease and wonder. When I tap into the place within myself of ease and wonder, life flows without the obstruction of my limiting beliefs. My empowering mindset helped me find new language and create the mantras: I am trusting. I am at ease. I am in the flow. That feeling of flow is a perfect way to describe living an integrated life – no matter what comes my way.

 

4 – Commit to Ongoing Self-Care

For me, I have found the nourishing qualities of self-care to be essential to living in the flow state of integration. Through trial and error, I have found that a weekly mix of the following shapes my self-care regimen.

 
  • Stillness, meditation, mindful breathing, forest bathing, going on a retreat
  • Laughter, silliness, playfulness, lightheartedness, singing and chanting
  • Creative expression in journaling, painting, vision boarding, coloring and dancing
  • Yoga and Pilates practice with a community of fellow students
  • Time spent being truly present to my loved ones and with a grateful heart
 

How is work life integration unfolding in your life? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way?

 

Life a more fulfilling life. Understand your unique qualities as a leader, as a communicator, and as a woman. Jennifer H.G. Connelly hosts the Work-Life Integration Retreat at the Art of Living Retreat Center from November 2-4.

 

Jennifer H.G. Connelly
Possessing a unique blend of corporate, public affairs and nonprofit management experience, Jennifer serves as Principal of her own consultancy and CEO of Triple W Forum. As a leadership coach, yoga and mindfulness teacher, and Birkman Method consultant, she leads retreats, workshops, and provides team and one-to-one leadership development coaching both in the US and internationally.

 

This article is reposed with permission from the author.

 

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

 

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TAGS: integration , Jennifer Connelly , wellness , wisdom , work
How I Quit Smoking - Art of Living Retreat Center

Seeing is Believing: How I Quit Smoking

By Jurian Hughes
September 1, 2018

How I Quit Smoking - Art of Living Retreat Center

 

On June 11, 2003 I smoked my last cigarette.

 

When I count the things that I’m most grateful for in my life, “I quit smoking” is almost always number one. Even now, after fourteen years, I’m aware that this one factor changed the quality and course of my life perhaps more than any other decision or achievement I’ve made since.

 

Quitting smoking is one of my proudest accomplishments. I enjoy the clarity around it. Either you smoke or you don’t. There’s no vagueness about it. I was a smoker. Now I’m not. To this day I’m fascinated by how I did it.

 

How I quit smoking

Before I made the decision to quit smoking I projected myself into the future ten years. I saw who I would become if I continued smoking. I could easily imagine what my body would feel and look like, how active I would be (or not). I imagined the quality of my life – chest pain as I walked up subway stairs, the smell of my apartment, clothes and hair.

 

I had a very real and tangible sense of who I would become if I continued down that road. And I knew it was not who I wanted to be. I wanted to be another woman – a physically fit, vital, brighter, more hopeful, more engaged person than I was at that time. And I could see very clearly that if I continued smoking I was not going to get there.

 

Resetting my intentions

So I stopped. Immediately. That was it. Once I had seen so clearly where I wanted to go vs. where I was headed, I simply stopped smoking. The intention was not “Quit Smoking.” The intention was robust health, overall well-being, more joy. Quitting smoking became a necessary step toward the person I was determined to become. Though I had tried to quit numerous times before, that final time it was actually…easy. It was simple, inevitable.

 

Getting clear

During that same time I made a lot of other changes. I stopped hanging out with men who were no good for me (and met my beloved partner David shortly thereafter). I left a career that was no longer fulfilling me (and found my way to teaching in the world of yoga, dance, voice and play not long after.)

 

Now when I find myself needing to make a life change, I imagine myself going through the same process that I went through back in 2003. I try to get as clear as I can about who it is that I am passionate to evolve into next. Once I see her clearly — and believe that I have the ability and the right to have her life – I know the steps will reveal themselves.

 

Seeing is believing

“Seeing is believing” says the old adage. If we can see a future self we can begin to imagine what her life feels like, what it’s like to be in her skin, to move through her day, to spend time as she does. The more fully we imagine her, the more real she becomes, and then her evolution becomes…inevitable.

If you imagine your life full of joy and dance and the ability to help others experience more of that, too, join me this Sep 22 – Oct 2 at Art of Living for a ten-day Let Your Yoga Dance Teacher Training Immersion. See it. Believe it. Take the first step.

 

Jurian Hughs, E-RYT 500, MFA, is founder of the Yoga of Voice; co-founder of A Wild Life Sanctuary™; co-creator of The Yoga of Yes; a Let Your Yoga Dance® teacher trainer; voice coach; personal mentor; writer; speaker; and theatre performer known for her passionate, playful, and engaging teaching style. As a senior faculty member of the Kripalu School of Yoga since 2006, Hughes has led thousands of workshops and programs and trained more than 1,000 Kripalu yoga teachers.

 

For more about Jurian, visit jurianhughes.com. Join Jurian for her ten-day Let Your Yoga Dance® Teacher Training at the Art of Living Retreat Center from September 22 – October 2, 2018.


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: jurian hughes , mindfulness , self-care , smoking , visualization , wellness , yoga
Leap of Faith - Art of Living Retreat Center

A Leap of Faith

By Jurian Hughes
August 20, 2018

Leap of Faith - Art of Living Retreat Center

 

A few years ago, I did a terrifying thing: I took off the entire month. Unpaid. Rather last-minute. With no real plan in place. I called it my Sacred Sabbatical, and it came out of a moment of intense clarity in a women’s restroom at the end of what should have been a stellar Red Letter Day but wasn’t, when I realized in a flash that I was urgently in need of an extreme gesture of radical self-care.

 

As someone who likes to have her ducks in a row and her coffers full, the idea of an unplanned and unbudgeted month off and unplugged was pretty radical. Terrifying, in fact. Now, I think everyone should do it. And regularly.

 

Re-wilding

After two weeks spent decompressing through the joys of manual labor and almost daily sunrises and sunsets over Lake Winnipesaukee, I headed to California for two of the most glorious, magical weeks I’ve ever had: re-wilding in glorious Big Sur, alongside a beloved friend. Those were precious days spent reclaiming life, remembering what makes me happy, experiencing “the new”, the “unfamiliar”, taking risks, and feeling the freedom that comes with that. So, of course, I had to skydive.

 

Learning to leap

My advice about skydiving is this: If you have any inclination to skydive whatsoever, DO IT. It had been on my bucket list decades ago, but somehow it had unceremoniously fallen off – “too old, expensive, unnecessary. “ To step so literally into the unknown, at 13,400 feet, strapped to a human being whom you’ve just met, with nothing to save you but a bit of fabric, is an act of such complete and total faith that it has the power to transform on a cellular level. And that was my prayer as I let my body fall out that open door.

 

Choosing faith

My entire Sabbatical – a word which has its roots in ‘sabbath’, ‘sacred’, ‘shabath’; commonly thought of as a period of rest and rejuvenation granted to professors; was practiced in ancient times, when every seven years the soil was left to rest, and debtors and slaves were released. My entire Sabbatical was a practice of “Letting Go”. Choosing Trust. Choosing Faith.

 

The Universe seemed to keep whispering – or at times shouting – this in my ear over those weeks of adventure. And in that culminating act of jumping from a plane, I experienced the most palpable awe, gratitude, and bliss that I’ve ever known in my life. It felt as if in that literal leap of faith, that surrender and resulting flight, my whole being changed. My cells experienced – and I hope they will remember, always – what it feels like to completely let go, to abandon control, to tell God with every atom of my body, “You do it.”

 

Relishing surrender

How ironic that in total relinquishment there can come a feeling of such tremendous power! But the unwillingness to let fear win is an act of courage. The moment in which we choose not to let fear strangle us is a moment in which we choose Life. Those choices, those moments have the potential to re-wild our souls, to awaken our joy, our imagination, and to let us see our world through fresh, open eyes.

 

Keep letting go

My practice now is to keep letting go, to look for the habits, thoughts, patterns and choices that are keeping me small and safe. I want to live every day with the memory of that palpable awe, gratitude and bliss, which I experienced when I left that safe plane in favor of the open sky. And I endeavor to remember that awe – and gratitude and bliss – is so worth taking a leap of faith for!

Today, may you do one thing that makes you tremble just a little, and that therefore has the power to rekindle your spirit. May you, too, take a leap of faith toward awe, gratitude and bliss.

Join me this Sep 22 – Oct 2 at Art of Living for ten days that promise to rekindle your spirit.  Because if not now, when?

 

Jurian Hughs, E-RYT 500, MFA, is founder of the Yoga of Voice; co-founder of A Wild Life Sanctuary™; co-creator of The Yoga of Yes; a Let Your Yoga Dance® teacher trainer; voice coach; personal mentor; writer; speaker; and theatre performer known for her passionate, playful, and engaging teaching style. As a senior faculty member of the Kripalu School of Yoga since 2006, Hughes has led thousands of workshops and programs and trained more than 1,000 Kripalu yoga teachers.

 

For more about Jurian, visit jurianhughes.com. Join Jurian for her ten-day Let Your Yoga Dance® Teacher Training at the Art of Living Retreat Center from September 22 – October 2, 2018.


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: fear , jurian hughes , mindfulness , trust , yoga
The Wisdom of Tai Chi - Art of Living Retreat Center

In House: David-Dorian Ross on the Wisdom of Tai Chi

By David-Dorian Ross
August 11, 2018

The Wisdom of Tai Chi - Art of Living Retreat Center

 

This past May, the Art of Living Retreat Center hosted David-Dorian Ross for Power, Freedom, and Flow, a weekend of connection and transformation through the practices of Tai Chi, yoga, guided mediation, and QiGong. Here, he shares his journey with Tai Chi, and how this gentle, holistic practice can change your life too. 

 

Tai Chi is a teacher

I’ve been teaching Tai Chi for about 40 years, and I continue to benefit from it every day–not just what it teaches me about health and longevity, but what it teaches me about about daily life too; about relating to other people, dealing with problems, and most of all, about my relationship with myself.

 

What is Taijifit?

Taijifit is how I give back. I started Taijifit as a part of an ongoing exploration of different methods to share Tai Chi with a wider audience.

 

One of the things that really amazed me was the sharp decline of Tai Chi practitioners after a short period of time. A lot of people are interested in it, but very few stick with it. A lot of teachers tell me how they’ll start with 25 people in their class, and it dwindles over time to two or three. But rather than thinking there was something wrong with the students or teachers, I began to look at the methodology used to teach Tai Chi. How do we keep people engaged long enough for them to really taste the magic of this wonderful practice?

 

Taijifit is a format that meets people where they are. We use beautiful, contemporary music, and focus on learning long, complex routines of movements. In fact, we could do a hundred days of Tai Chi and never use the same routine twice. Every session is different and special, and yet still focused on the central characteristic of Tai Chi — something we call “flow”– which is the connecting energy that binds the body, mind, and spirit together.

 

Tapping into our authentic nature

One of the things that we all want to find is a way to tap into our authentic nature. Our own original, innocent, pure spirit. In our philosophy, we believe that you’re born with this and that it’s inherent within you, but that as we age and become adults, sometimes we stray away from this flow.

 

We have lifestyles that perpetuate separation from our flow. When you wake up in the morning, you’re close to your authentic self, but then you brush your teeth, take your shower, and get dressed, and then all of a sudden you’re in work mode, and you’ve got to put on a different face. After work, you go to the gym and put on a different face there, and then you go home and you have a different face there, too. We even have different costumes and speech patterns within the confines of different social environments. This interruption is the opposite of flow.

 

Learning to reintegrate flow

Just like a stream that hits a dam, your energy, your spirit, and your authentic personhood stops at these different junctions. But what if that wasn’t true? What if you could feel comfortable and unselfconscious while being exactly the same person who got out of bed in the morning? The same person at church, at the bowling alley, at the dinner table? That’s true authenticity. That’s tapping into your true nature.

 

So how do you do that? Well, the first thing to learn to recognize is when you’re interrupting that flow of life. This interruption happens so fast and is so habitual that we don’t recognize when we’re in it. That’s what Tai Chi teaches us. Tai Chi makes this concept physical and observable, so that you can tell when your flow is interrupted. You can sense, feel, and measure the stopping and starting of flow.

 

Tai Chi is an active meditation. The way that we think most often is that we judge, and assess, and analyze constantly. It’s a process that keeps us from being in the moment. Movement, on the other hand, happens in the now and brings you to the now.

 

Tai Chi and aging

Tai Chi is great for the aging process and for helping people retain flexibility in motion. Aging is just a description of the process of what happens when our bodies don’t regenerate. When our bodies fail to keep up with the ravages of the environment, most prominently gravity, which is working on us all the time. It’s just natural to our existence on this planet.

 

One of the reasons why the body sometimes fails to keep up with those environmental problems is that it’s out of balance. A body that is in harmony, that is balanced and in equilibrium, has the best chance of using its inherent nature to heal itself. The body that is out of balance, on the other hand, is less able to keep up with environmental ravages.

 

When we’re observing the aging process, what we’re really observing is a body-out-of-balance who’s struggling to keep up with the inevitable. What Tai Chi does is train you–it continuously brings you back into a balanced and harmonious state. The postures are based upon the physics of equilibrium so that even the martial aspect, the fighting aspect of Tai Chi, is about finding harmony.

 

A practice of love

The thing is, Tai Chi has the reputation of being boring. People are afraid they don’t have the balance, that they’re going to fall or look silly or feel self-conscious. But with Taijifit, we inject a little fun back into it. We create a community in which we work very hard. We create all kinds of conversations and events and environments in which we know that there will be no judgement. In which we know that there’s only love.

 

A philosophy and physical practice together

Tai Chi literally changed my life. I’ve got terrible genes in my family–emphysema, COPD, cancer, heart disease–and I’m so obnoxiously healthy it’s not even funny. Of course, I’m not immune to social pressures and the gravity of the world’s current situation, but Tai Chi is my guiding path, a philosophy and physical practice blended together. My work is my spiritual practice. There is nothing higher for me than getting up and doing it every morning. That is my prayer. That is my meditation.

 

Grandmaster David-Dorian Ross has introduced more students to Tai Chi than any other teacher in America. Master Ross has written, produced and starred in more than 150 educational dvds and television programs. He is the founder and CEO of TaijiFit, the creator of the TaijiFit mind-body exercise program, and is the director of the first online Tai Chi academy. Trained in China by championship martial arts coaches, Master Ross has had an illustrious career in competitive Tai Chi, winning eight U.S. gold medals, a world silver medal and two world bronze medals —the highest awards ever given to an American for international Tai Chi performance.

 

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: holistic wellness , meditation , tai chi , wellness , wisdom
Suffering - Art of Living Retreat Center

Supposed To: My Day of Suffering

By Heather Bilotta
August 11, 2018

Suffering - Art of Living Retreat Center

 

“We suffer because we are projecting the myth of permanence upon a situation that is actually conditioned, selfless, and constantly changing. Everything is interrelated and interdependent. There is nothing substantial and separate that we can lean upon. Samsara, ‘the cycle of suffering,’ is a direct result of our desire for permanence.”
From “The Myth of Permanence” by Sakyong Mipham

 

How you create suffering

I don’t know about you but when I read philosophy I can have a hard time grasping the concepts in a meaningful, how does this apply to day to day life, kind of way. In other words, I’m always curious about how I can LIVE an idea not just think it. For instance, take the topic of suffering. Sure, in my head, I’ve been bouncing around the idea for a while now… we can’t control the world around us yet most humans try… this habit creates suffering. When we walk around with a lot of expectations about how the present moment and its inhabitants should be, we are contributing to our pain rather than easing it. Today my understanding of how I create my own suffering hit home in a new way. I create suffering… I do that every day, for many minutes of the day.

 

The lie of “supposed to”

For this New England girl, it all starts with the phrase “supposed to.” As in today I was supposed to get a lot of work done on my computer; as in my internet was supposed to be working properly. As in I was supposed to be done by my afternoon full of clients so tonight I could rest with my family. See, none of the things on my list are guaranteed to work, and yet it didn’t stop my mind from grasping at the thought that everything should go according to my plan. The truth is that nothing is fixed and yet every day I rely on things to go MY WAY and when they don’t I repeat the refrain SUPPOSED TO and then I suffer.

 

A concept comes to life

As you read above I had a big list of things I wanted to accomplish today…when the writing was on the wall that my internet was too slow for some tasks due to the weather, I decided to go to the drugstore across the street for some new earbuds while a file was uploading to my computer.

 

I approached the crosswalk at a dangerous intersection and heard my internal grumbling “I hate these people… they are driving too fast… this is a crazy intersection… what are they thinking? They are supposed to drive carefully through here… they are supposed to stop for pedestrians….” I stopped my thinking and reviewed that phrase supposed to. As I finished my walk to the drugstore I realized that I had been torturing myself all day with that phrase. Suddenly I could connect personally to the Buddhist concept of suffering. I had my real-life scenario of how I was reacting to the day as an example of the concept.

 

Desire is suffering

As I watched my mind grasping at how today should be to fit my rigid view of reality, I recognized that I was contributing to my own frustration and experience of having a crappy day. You you can’t totally stop pain. It’s impossible. Pain is part of life and being human. I couldn’t stop the ice from falling from the sky, but I could stop lamenting spring. I could make a choice to re-route my course of action rather than bang my head against the wall. I made my predicament worse by refusing to accept life as is. My desire for a different reality was making me feel terrible! So how to live it differently?

 

Acceptance is the key

I can’t make my internet work. I can’t stop the rain. I can’t force my computer to move faster. What I can do is let myself see what’s happening and respond to it with flexibility rather than with an iron grasp on having my way. I lost an hour of work today because I kept waiting for the internet to speed up. Rather than accept the one bar of cell service my phone was showing me I kept waiting for it to get better. This is what contributed to my frustration. Had I really taken in what I was seeing, I could have taken my walk to the drugstore sooner, maybe even scrapped the project completely for today. When I finally accepted what was happening and shifted to a new plan I felt better!

 

Freedom from suffering

And that’s how I wrote this blog rather than doing the 10 other things I had on my Monday to-do list. I accepted my fate and recognized that this story might be a way for others to consider how they contribute to their own suffering… and could help us all take a step into shifting away from trying to control things and into meeting the day, each other, and ourselves as is.

 

Blessings to you on your journey towards freedom from suffering!

 

Heather Bilotta is a passionate believer in the healing power of self-expression and the importance of connection to community. Her Shake Your Soul®, Kripalu YogaDance, Kripalu R&R classes, one-one SomaSoul® and Divine Sleep Yoga Nidra® healing sessions are infused with heart and creativity and are an opportunity to bring light and acceptance to your whole, unfiltered self. She truly provides a supportive no-judgment zone. Heather teaches at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, Cranwell Golf Resort, and beyond. She is continuing her studies in Body-Centered, Subtle Energy Healing in the Professional Training Program at Hartford Family Institute.

Join Heather at the Art of Living Retreat Center from September 28th to 30th, 2018, for Move. Feel. Heal., a SomaSoul® Somatic Therapy retreat to help you unwind, slow down, and soothe your nervous system.

 

This article first appeared on heatherbe.com. 


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: advice , Buddhism , Heather Bilotta , real life , suffering , wisdom
Bozo on the Bus - Art of Living

In House: Rachel Fleischman on being Bozos on the Bus

By Rachel Fleischman
August 6, 2018

Bozo on the Bus - Art of Living

 

We’re all bozos on the bus,
So we might as well sit back
And enjoy the ride
-Wavy Gravy

 

Like many women in the 21st century, I feel like I need eight arms, like a Hindu goddess, to keep up with myself.

 

I’m a body-oriented psychotherapist, workshop facilitator, yoga student, wife, friend, daughter, ninja flea market shopper. I try to have my shirt buttoned and my skirt ironed up before I sit with a client to give her the best of myself.

 

Bozos on the bus

But in my private life, like you, I am also human: I get mad at my husband, I worry that my friends don’t like me, and almost weekly I wonder if I should get a butt lift like Kim Kardashian.

Elizabeth Lesser, friend and author of the book Broken Open, tells us, “I believe that we’re all bozos on the bus, contrary to the self-assured image we work so hard to present to each other on a daily basis. We are all half-baked experiments—mistake prone beings, born without an instruction book into a complex world.”

   

This is what I sometimes feel like in my darker moments: a bozo camouflaged under decorative diplomas, excellent training and a loving demeanor. I show my best self, hoping people don’t see my vulnerabilities, insecurities and fears. But as a psychotherapist, I know that as we navigate through the landscapes of life, we are called to integrate our shadow parts, our rage, terror, jealousy and other difficult emotions.

Another bozo dance

The other night I led a Dance Your Bliss workshop while hurting from a conflict with a close friend. Our fight had triggered my deepest fear, Am I unlovable? I walked into the workshop I was leading and put on the music for my students. As the sound of African drums filled the room, I began to feel strength and power moving though my hips. In fact, I felt more grounded and alive than I had in months. Instead of a weight dragging me down, my grief and fear had become fuel that I could use for the dance.

I went to bed that night easy in the realization that what has happened between my friend and myself was just a bozo dance that we would be able to set right. In the past, I would have obsessed about the incident, worried about it like a dog with a bone until it festered and oozed, and it would have taken months to clear up.

Invite your pain to dance with you

But I’ve learned a few things. For one, I accepted that I was in the grip of my dark emotions. I didn’t try to put them aside when I went out on the dance floor. Instead I invited the pain to dance with me and through me until it danced itself away.

In the Tibetan tradition, this is called taking tea with your demons. We don’t deny our humanness; instead, we embrace it and then we are free to accept its gifts. I believe that so many of us have a narrative of ourselves that is far less than who we really are.

I want to offer you a loving challenge: can you take your bozo to tea and laugh together at your perfectly human imperfections?

 

Rachel Fleischman, CSW, REAT, helps people move out of their heads and into their bodies to heal. A seasoned psychotherapist, educator, speaker and writer, she is the founder of the Dance Your Bliss™ healing system and the Being Bliss meditation CDs. Rachel has pioneered the combination of psychology with movement, neuroscience, expressive-arts and spirituality.

 

Are you ready for an exuberant, deeply restorative, and life-changing experience? Join Rachel for the Dance Your Bliss™ retreat at the Art of Living Retreat Center from October 19th to October 21st.

This article first appeared on Elephant Journal. 


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: dance , emotions , friendship , in house , learning , pain , Rachel Fleischman , wisdom

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