Good health is usually top of mind when we tally up the things we are grateful for. And we are often reminded that everything else we have is nothing if we do not have our health. I am indeed grateful for my robust health and the ability to physically do whatever I want. I appreciate that I have not yet encountered any physical limitations — even though I’m quick to admits that I’m not the same person I was in college!

During the past few months, I have had several friends experience health issues. Some of them have a long road of recovery ahead of them. Some have won a significant battle with illness this year. Some have lost that battle.

It’s never too early to start appreciating your good health, and to work harder to preserve it. Here are a few of my favorite health- related blogs and newsletters that I follow.  Maybe they will inspire you too…

Dr. Weil’s Blog

Time Magazine’s Healthland

The Happiness Project Blog by author  Gretchen Rubin (check out her book by the same name, if you haven’t already read it)

Daily Cup of Yoga

I love that my yoga practice is mine.  Not a session at the studio, or a class at the gym.  It is not measured by my physical strength or by my endurance.

Meditations from the Mat

I do not compare myself with other participants.  Yoga is whatever I make it today.  It is a discipline that is all mine.

For that very reason, my practice has had a lot of ups and downs.  Times of real dedication, and times of neglect.  But the opportunity to focus internally and to block out the surrounding noise of life is a real asset — one that I can develop and carry with me throughout my life.

(I highly recommend Meditations from the Mat, by Rolf Gates, if you have not read it yet)

 

Related Posts:

Practice, practice, practice

Lady bugs

All in the mind

Santosha

 

No, not the joke about Carnegie hall — a way to think about your life.

I have always respected that “doing” yoga is expressed as “practicing” yoga.  It’s an acknowledgement that this is something that we never fully master.  It is always a journey.

During my meditation practice, I stumbled upon the perspective that we can “practice” in life.  Even when we don’t quite feel like practicing yoga, meditating, or even being in a good mood,  that we can “practice” it.  Ok, we can pretend.

Hafez, a fourteenth-century Sufi poet suggests that we act great at all times.  Whether are practicing contentment on a bad day, or sitting in meditation watching our mind run around in circles.

Think about it.  “Pretending” to be a good mood tends to turn into a good mood.  “Pretending” to enjoy yoga poses often turns into an enjoyment.

This is an idea that could really catch on.

Vairagya a liberation and lightness as we begin to renounce the very things that have held us back.

Kino MacGregor (in her MyYogaOnline blog) commented P2161123that the driven mind directed at a task at hand is one of the most powerful tools we have to change our lives, but can get in our way at the same time.  So the question then becomes not how to rid ourselves of our desires or our drive but instead how to train our mind to work towards our desires without the unnecessary tension of attachment.  For it is often just at the moment when we truly let go that everything we want arrives with ease.

The yoga tradition teaches non-attachment, vairagya in Sanskrit, not so that you walk around in a state of emotional detachment devoid of expression, but instead so that you will know that your deepest sense of self exists outside the realm of things, goals and material success.  By practicing releasing attachments you let go of your intense identification with the world of materiality and begin to relax and play with life in a state of joy.  The odd thing is that often the moment when you experience the state of vairagya, things that you have literally been slaving for often arrive with little or no effort.  It reminds me of the character in Under the Tuscan Sun who failed miserably at her attempts to catch lady bugs — until she just laid down in the grass and fell asleep.   When she awoke she was covered with them.

The truth is that you have to practice and you have to show up for life. The truth is also that you have to exert much less effort and strain than you might otherwise think to get the results you want.

I’ve been practicing and enjoying yoga for quite some time now.  But, I must confess, I cheat.   I’m just not good at clearing my mind.  Of course, it’s only me that knows it.  It’s only me that I delude.

Sometimes, while practicing yoga, my mind is busy solving the world’s problems.  Actually, it’s not that noble at all.  I’m actually busy thinking through work issues.  Or tackling investment quandaries.  Or trying to organize my life (which, by the way, is probably already too organized). DSCF0248 I actually believe that I am getting two things done at once — solving problems and rejuvenating physically.  In reality, I am doing neither well.  I am only fooling myself.

So, I am trying to learn meditation.  I’m an overly disciplined person, so you think this would be easy for me to command myself to clear my mind.  We’ll see.  Shakti Mhi says that you don’t have to stop thinking entirely, you just have to become an observer.  To distance your thoughts and separate yourself from them.

Something to aspire too:  Mind over mind…

Snap dragonHow appropriate that we identified santosha as our intention in yoga practice last night. Santosha is contentment.

Contentment is serenity, but not complacency. It is comfort, but not submission; reconciliation, not apathy; acknowledgment, not aloofness. Contentment is a mental decision, a moral choice, a practiced observance, a step into the reality of the cosmos. Contentment/santosha is the natural state of our humanness and our divinity and allows for our creativity and love to emerge.  It is knowing our place in the universe at every moment. It is unity with the largest, most abiding, reality.

 

It seems that so often we look to experiences (or even things) to give us happiness, to makes us content… checking off one more thing from that mental list of what we “have” or “have done” that will get us there.

This blog isn’t about those kind of experiences.  And it isn’t about chalking up or keeping track.  It will never be published as “1000 Things to Do Before You Die”.  Its just for fun.  Just a record of life.  Hopefully a record of contentment.

Maybe not as deep as the concept of santosha, but many songwriters have expressed the sentiment as well.  I consider them equally inspiring:

Its not having what you want

Its wanting what you’ve got

Sheryl Crow (Soak up the Sun)

(We’re) losing site of having dreams

In a world that what we want is only what we want until it’s ours

I’m calling all angels

I’m calling all you angels

Train (Calling All Angels)