Sex, Drugs & Rock & Roll… And Yoga!

Going for refuge.. how do we know if it's going to work?
No matter what, we are challenged by our circumstances, our choices, or our environment and, this might be blisteringly obvious but also our thoughts.

I am no stranger to overwhelm although I have learned tactics to get myself off my own "soap box" - thankfully.

But it isn't just about learning mind tricks to tame the crazy monkey of the mind, it is also about where you put yourself, who you share your life with, and how you deal with your own decisions, even if (maybe, especially if..) they are excruciatingly uncomfortable.

The quandary we are faced with repeatedly is, how do we know that any given "help" is actually helping...

Active Listening
Back to overwhelm.. the to-do list can feel like the reason why we can't get to the bit where we relax.. right? once you've ticked off something "urgent" another thing pops up.. it can be pretty intense in the whirlwind of our minds, and that treat at the end which tells us we're done everything, can feel perpetually a bit out of reach.

-So first off, having a friend to let off steam to can be just enough. They don't have to be qualified or whatever, but someone who you are interested in, someone who may be able to get to the part of your being that feels inspired, someone who can get you out of your muddle of thoughts long enough to get perspective.
"Active listening" is a pretty straightforward technique. (yes it's a technique) Check the link if you think your empathy tank is running low.

Thoughts
We have roughly 230,000 thoughts a day give or take, unless you're a trained monk in a cave or some such brilliance.
So it's no wonder we identify with so many of them, they hold such incredible power.

When you have a good idea about a project or a place you want to go, or a thing you want to do, your mind turns into a lit-up turbine of activity and excitement.

Your mind has the capacity to stimulate almost all the 35 known hormones (not at the same time!) in your body.
Yes it would be a struggle to produce insulin if you needed it just through thought, but even that has a grey area; 

“Technically, we can’t ‘control’ hormones, but we can certainly do things to influence them,” he notes. “Foods we choose to eat or drink can cause our hormone levels to go up or down. Extra weight can also have a significant impact on the way hormones work.”
 peacehealth.org

So be careful what you say, particularly to yourself!

False refuges

The difference between escapism and refuge;

Escapism tends to be temporary;
;"The tendency to seek distraction and relief from unpleasant realities, especially by seeking entertainment or engaging in fantasy." Oxford Dictionary.

A refuge is;
"The state of being safe or sheltered from pursuit, danger, or difficulty."  Oxford dictionary.

-This might sound obvious but a situation has just unfolded in front of me.
My offspring arrives back from school and flops in front of the computer with the front that homework is of the essence.
However, what I find out not long after is that "Friends" is on instead. I can't help feeling a bit sorry for her, but also know that watching TV is an escape that might feel good for the canned laughter moments, but really we all know it's temporary, and won't last, as with other false refuges.

- Intoxicants. Yes, it had to come up sooner or later. Sex, drugs & rock & roll.
This is a big subject, one which I would put intentions forward in the hot seat to be tested:

-Why is this intoxicant your go-to?
-Does it have a lasting rebalancing effect?
-Do you lose your rag when people suggest trying something else?
The questions could go on.

Have a look at Russel Brand if you like, he was an addict, and with the power of Yoga has made massive changes. I know he's not everyone's cup of tea, but he makes a couple of valid points around addiction.

-Addiction, isolation, secrets, trauma, criticism, there are so many parts of ourselves that are complicated and confusing.

Mental health is a delicate thing and has repercussions and connotations that might leave us feeling a bit nuts, not in a funny way.

True Refuges
The Sutras and Buddhist texts mention purification of the body through Tapasya and Saucha and the other observances of traditional Ashtanga Yoga as essential to be aware of and preferably practising when you reach your mat:
"Tapasya is very closely connected to yoga. Disciplined and concentrated practice of yoga is a form of tapsaya. Tapasya may also be practiced through meditation and/or fasting." Yogapedia

-"..by impurities we’re not just talking about physical aspects. Saucha means cleanliness of body, mind, spirit and surroundings, all helping to direct us towards a pure and positive life..." EckartYoga

A Buddhist perspective

Buddhists might say that the only true refuges are the three jewels;

-The Buddha, the embodiment of enlightened beings. One of the most inspiring humans to ever have lived.

-The Dharma, "the truth" in the scriptures, the lessons, the meditations, the learnings.

-The Sangha, the spiritual community. Those who you can rely on to be on the same page as you. Those who you learn alongside, and challenge each other within the Dharma.

These subjects are enormous & worth a study. They go into the roots of cravings, delusion, and hatred. And how there is only one positive type of craving, which is the craving for one or all of these "three jewels", as a true refuge.

But actually, it's also on the contents page of Google searches of the limbs of Yoga. Please take the translations with a pinch of salt and a dose of imagination.

  • Yama= abstentions

These are 5 in number

  • ahimsa= abstention from violence = non-violence to all beings
  • satya= abstention from lying = truth
  • asteya= abstention from theft
  • brahmacharya= abstention from sexual activity = continence
  • aparigraha= abstention from possessions
  • Niyama= observances

These also are 5 in number:

  • Saucha= purity
  • Santosha= contentment
  • Tapas= austerities
  • Svadhyaya= study
  • Ishvarapranidhana= surrender to God

Then the other limbs of Yoga:

  • Asana– Postures of the body. This is also a title applied as; One made gracious by God as in Asana Bodhitharta
  • Pranayama– Control of prana or vital breath
  • Pratyahara– Abstraction; “is that by which the senses do not come into contact with their objects and, as it were, follow the nature of the mind.” – Vyasa
  • Dharana– Fixing the attention on a single object; concentration
  • Dhyana– Meditation
  • Samadhi– Super-conscious state or trance

These little beauties are where we are headed in the New year, a weekly dose of wisdom from the Grandfather of Yoga; Patanjali.

Ok, I'll leave you to your thoughts, (or the spaces between them) and will be getting my teeth into festive challenges to read & explore for December's blogs...

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