Creating simplicity in our lives can deepen and enrich our spirits.
It is spring now as I write this. Spring has always seemed to be the time of year when feeling young and vibrant can occur more easily. Nature is a powerful example to us of how to start anew – to re-bloom and re-grow. The whole dreariness and grey that comes with the end of winter lifts and so does our spirits. We are lifted up enough that even the thought of cleaning sound inviting. Spring cleaning is a familiar ritual to many and it is a good way to refresh not only your space, but your being.
Whatever season you are in right now, you can harness the changing energy of the earth to bring a focus on refreshing and detoxing our bodies, minds and spirits. We will clean out the gunk that has built-up over the last year and instantly feel younger and lighter.
Spirit Detox – Simplicity
Let’s think for a minute about what we really want out of life. What has God given us in this life that really matters and can be with us forever? Cars, houses, clothes, electronics? No, these things along with all material possessions will soon pass. When we die, they are still here. So what of our mortal existence on this earth can keep with us? Our character and our experiences – the things that make us who we are.
Keeping this in mind, it makes sense to strive for material simplicity and minimalism while at the same time striving towards spiritual and intellectual richness. When we prioritize our goals for life, looking towards experiences that shape us, change us and feed our spirits will prove more fulfilling than saving up to buy the next house size up.
Let Go and Get Over Yourself
One of the most challenging yoga principals we often learn as westerners, is to check our ego at the door when entering the yoga studio. Like all of our yoga principals we follow on the mat, this rings true for our life practice as well and it stings even more at times. Brand names are important to our society because we collectively and individually allow them to be, and while they hold some use, they are more often hold more pain. Pain in longing and striving towards an incorrect end of constant consumption that will leave us only needing more or the newer version. It’s a humbling experience to deny ourselves material possessions that show status and to opt instead for the more economical version, but our character will be strengthened.
When we check our egos at the studio we are suddenly more aware of what our minds and bodies need and what we should and shouldn’t do that day. Sometimes you know you can do a yoga pose but maybe today you shouldn’t do that particular pose. This is an excellent lesson in mental discipline and spiritual humility. The same goes for our life practice.
Let’s say that you make enough money to support a house at half a million dollars. That does not necessary mean that you have to buy a house at that price level. Before you do make a purchase, examining your reasons for buying this house will tell you whether or not this house will be a blessing to you or a burden on your character development and spiritual growth. I am not implying that you should never live comfortably, I am just asking us all to examine our reasons for buying and seeing if there is not a greater benefit for us in living under our means. Some days we should do certain poses and sometimes we should just sit in meditation and reflection.
For me, these lessons all seemed to be most poignant when I was a teenager. I remember being in emotional anguish if I seemed to be the “only one” without a certain brand of jeans or shoe. One of the most character building experiences of my high school life was turning sixteen and having to drive a gold, Ford Escort station wagon to school. I was so embarrassed by that car, even though looking back on it, I don’t think I should have been. Humility, in any life situation, always seems to be one of the most difficult lessons to learn.
The Richness of Experience
So what should we look for in life to make us spiritually rich? Experience. Character shaping, memory creating experiences. Activities and events that mold us into who we are and stick with us in the back of our minds for eternity. The more diverse and rich the experiences, the more we grow and blossom into our ideal selves.
This is why I love yoga classes – the experiences are always unique, they connect us within mind and body while also connecting us to others. There are not many other times in life when you are fully alive, using all of your mind to further the development of your body/mind/soul. Just like in deep meditation or hypnosis, when you are in the natural state of hypnosis, you are using 100% of your mind. We are fully alive, yet totally relaxed, in the the present moment.
In the experience of Hyp-Yoga we are concentrating the power of suggestion to build and develop our desired behaviors and thought patterns to build our character faster than we would otherwise be able to do. We concentrate our emotional mind in hypnosis, we are in a state where suggestions that would otherwise take days, weeks or even years to stick, become a part of us quickly and easily. By now we know, that hypnosis is not magic and will take some repetition, how much depending on the desired change, but it is a much more effective way of using our minds.
Making Relaxation a Priority
Anytime we can get away from the routine busyness of life is a gift and using that gift wisely is our responsibility. Since these gifts of time do not come as often as we would like them, we need to maximize their effectiveness and our enjoyment of them. This sounds like we are preparing to get as much relaxation and experience as possible crammed into a little time slot, and suddenly relaxation also seems like another item on our to do list. We do need to make our yoga or meditation practice a priority, but we also need to be kind and gentle with ourselves.
Sometimes more comes from less. More character from less activity. More experience from less on the activity list. Go on vacation, experience the mountains or the oceans, but allow yourself the freedom of simplicity in experience. In class, do the poses, but allow yourself to do less pushing and sweating and more breathing. In hypnosis, allow your conscious mind to do less focusing so the subconscious mind can do more learning and healing.
Life Practice: Spiritual Detox – Learning Simplicity
“Learning that we have enough – money, time, love – may be our most important lesson.” – Dr. Cecile Andrews
How alive are you? I am certain that you can physically find your pulse at this moment, but can you find your spiritual pulse? How about your emotional pulse? Your passion pulse? Can you right now find what we at Hyp-Yoga call your “Life Pulse”? Your Life Pulse encompasses all of the elements that contribute to your enjoyment and presentness in your own life at THIS MOMENT.
As we learn in and through our Hyp-Yoga practice, all we have in life is the present moment. We have no ownership of our past or our future, but we can shape our future, and our future character by using the moment we are in right now.
What Weakens our Life Pulse
The biggest thief of our enjoyment of the present moment and one of the major culprits of aging spiritually and physically is anxiety. Even when we are not aware of it, anxiety or stress is always there – causing us to eat faster (or more), multi-task, drive faster, lay in bed awake at night, and/or consume more. Take a minute now to sort through what is currently in your mind, even what is on the “back burner,” and see how much of it is stealing from your current peace of mind. Are you feeling anxious about the future, or is what you currently have enough? (Remember what you have is this moment.)
What Strengthens our Life Pulse
The strength of your pulse will be affected by your awareness/consciousness of life and at the same time the engagement of your subconscious mind. These two ideas really work hand in hand when they seem to contradict each other until you truly understand their meaning. Being conscious of your life means being mindful in your current activity. When you are eating, focusing on the delicious textures, smells, tastes and colors of the food. When you are practicing yoga, listening to your breath and feeling your prana, your life force, through your entire body. When you are working, giving your all and finding joy and passion in your activities without being anxious about the outcomes. (Yoga Sutras 1.12-1.16)
Once we have learned the process of becoming more present (and it is a process or a journey that will never end) the second element we develop in our lives is our subconscious mind. As we have previously discussed, this is the part of your mind that is always working, even when we are not thinking about it. It regulates the autonomic processes in our body such as our heartbeat, metabolism, blood pressure, liver functions, breathing, etc. It also is holds our motor skills and learned behaviors such as walking, driving, reading, etc. Most importantly for this exercise in spiritual youth, it is the place where our emotions and beliefs are developed and stored.
In order for us to fully enjoy life and feel alive, we need to change our beliefs and attitudes towards time. When we live in constant anticipation for the future, we feed ourselves harmful ideas that include the concept of time as money, regret, fear, guilt, and greed. All of these ideas are firmly planted in our subconscious minds and are reinforced daily by our own words and thoughts.
Changing your attitude is important and will take lots of time and patience, but it is a joyful journey that can and should be enjoyed! You may have years of damage to undo and for this reason, I would suggest tapping into your subconscious mind with the help of tools such as yoga, hypnosis, (with a Hyp-Yoga class!), self-affirmations, and self-hypnosis. You will be amazed at the power of your mind and its ability to help you in your journey to being more alive and enjoying every minute of it.
Take your Pulse: a practical way to be mindful of our Life Pulse
Here is an exercise to try this week to encourage you to be more consciously alive. Set an alarm that is near you most of the time to go off at a random time such as 9:56 am, 2:43 pm or 7:38 pm. Many of us have watches with alarms, cell phones with alarms or office/home clocks with alarms. (I know my cell phone has 5 different alarms to set, so as a personal check-up, I have chosen today to set my alarm for three random times.) When the alarms go off today stop, take three deep, belly breaths and say to yourself, “This is my life. All I have is right now. What am I doing to enjoy it?”
Taking your Life Pulse, daily might give you incite to your relationship with anxiety and create more awareness of our spiritual simplicity. Some of us might find we have an addiction to rushing, or a habit of living on “auto-pilot.”
A Journey to Spirituality & Purpose
Spirituality can mean something different to everyone. It can be founded in religious dogma, a
spiritual journey, or just your intuitive guidance system. It has a profound affect on our perception
and dealings with the world yet we give it very less energy and respect than it deserves at times.
Let’s ask our selves some questions and try to look introspectively for some insight and inner
guidance along our journey.
- Were your raised in a household that was involved in organized religion?
- Were you given strict or loose rules to follow within your family structure?
- Did the rules you were given reflect the religious tenants you were taught?
- Do you believe in a higher power?
- Do you pray?
- Do you meditate?
- Do you feel there is a difference between meditation and prayer?
- Do you question any of the religious tenants or rules you were given growing up?
- Do you feel you have grown spiritually or lost touch with your spirit side?
10.Do you feel guilt?
11.What triggers feelings of guilt for you?
12.What do you do when you feel guilty?
13.What support system do you have when you feel weak or sad?
- What is your life’s purpose?
- What steps are you taking to live in your purpose?
- How much time to do you spend daily doing something you love and that brings you joy?
- How many hours a day do you feel happy?
- Describe what happy feels like.
- Describe how you feel most days.
- Do you believe in fate and destiny or do believe you are in control of your future?
- What is it that you would like to accomplish before you die?
- What are you afraid of?
- What would you do right now if you were not afraid?
- What does it mean to you to live consciously?