How to follow through on your New Year’s resolution? With Devotion

Many of you have made resolutions for change in 2011 and already frustrated and ready to quit trying.

A change in perspective will make a big difference.

Consider this yoga teaching:  Practice becomes firmly established by being continued for a long time, without interruption and with devotion.  

We hear the term devoted partner, parent, friend, teacher….  What does that bring to mind?  Perhaps loving, always willing to be there and dedicated.

What would happen if you gave this same devotion to your own wellbeing and resolutions?

If keeping your New Year’s resolutions seems difficult, treat yourself with the same kindness and patience that you would a child learning something new.

How do you treat people you are devoted to?  Can you bring that to your resolutions?  


Posted in: Technique of the Week

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Calm Your Mind: Attitude #4

Your mind has a life of its own and is the culprit of much frustration and physical tension.

We have previously explored three attitudes, that when cultivated will help calm agitated thoughts. 

They were:

  1. Friendliness toward the happy.
  2. Compassion for the unhappy.
  3. Delight in the virtuous.

The 4th attitude is what I perceive as the most challenging: Disregard toward the wicked.

When we run into people that are rude or mean, we usually get our guard up and judge or get angry.

To retain our undisturbed state:

  • Remember that you have had times when your behavior was inappropriate and harmful. 
  • Do not take the persons behavior personally, even it is directed toward you. Keeping this distance helps you ignore the behavior of others which will make your life much more peaceful.
  • Their behavior might not change, but your response makes all the difference to your well- being.

Give this a try next time you encounter someone who is behaving cruelly or inappropriately.  Let me know in the comments below how your state was and if you were able to make the shift to disregard their behavior.

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Compassion is the Key

Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival.”  Dalai Lama

 This quote from the Dalai Lama is quite powerful.  One definition of compassion is: Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it.

This is a practice of shifting your focus away from our judgments and separateness from others to  seeing the suffering of others, even those who you do not like. 

Relieving suffering is not about fixing anything or forgiving anyone, but showing up to life with openness, kindness, fullness and peace. 

Your presence affects those around you.  When you realize that we are all connected as humans and you can choose to live more peacefully with compassion, rather than allowing your emotions to negatively impact your well being and the wellbeing of others.

Let me know in the comments below if you were able to focus on compassion.  If not, what do you think got in the way?


Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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Research to Help Depression and Anxiety

A research article from 2007 focused on The World Health Organization’s reports that depression and anxiety disorders are associated with low GABA levels, which are the brain’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter.

Studies done by researchers at Boston University School of Medicine and McLean Hospital have found that practicing yoga elevated GABA levels.  They measured subjects prior to and after one hour of yoga and found a 27% increase in GABA levels.  

“The development of an inexpensive, widely available intervention such as yoga that has no side effects but is effective in alleviating the symptoms of disorders associated with low GABA levels has clear public health advantage”  Perry Renshaw MD, PhD, director of the Brain Imaging Center at Harvard-affiliated McLean Hospital.

The implementation of practices that lower symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety bring tremendous hope to the individual suffering. They are empowered to participate in their health and that is the focus on Custom Calm practices.

Participation in yoga compliments and supports medical treatment, and the medical community continues to provide evidence that yoga has a significant impact on brain function.

Posted in: This Stuff Works

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6 Benefits of Mountain Pose

Tadasana or Mountain pose is a foundational pose of yoga and is the basis of other poses. There are numerous advantages to learning the simple Mountain pose.   Mountain pose promotes improved overall well-being.

The benefits are:

  1. Promotes stillness and clarity.
  2. Grounding and solid feeling that helps you get centered.
  3. Find physical and emotional stability.
  4. Develops awareness of posture.
  5. Improves balance.
  6. Teaches you how to take the inner calm of  yoga into life.

Mountains have much to teach us about strength, power, stillness and inner and outer balance. When you look at the mountain, look beneath the landscape and see the subsidence and presence that is there.   We all embody that within ourselves.


Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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Namaste: The Ultamite Greeting

We use the word Namaste at the end of each yoga class.  It means: I acknowledge and bow to the divine within you.

In India, no matter who it is, friend or stranger, they are treated in the same manner.   Acknowledging first the divine in ourselves and then to see it in others is a powerful practice.

Saki Santorelli, the director of the Stress Reduction Clinic at UMass Memorial Medical Center, says:  “I believe that the active remembrance of this reality is crucial to our lives, our work, and our well-being. Our willingness to relate with another in this way is fundamentally healing.”

This way of relating comes from the heart, and it is difficult in our mind driven culture.  It is a beautiful practice to relate to others in this way.  It opens our hearts and we soften in a way that impacts our body, mind and spirit.

Next time you are in the presence of a family member or someone you do not know well, see if you can shift your perspective to see them in this way. Look for the divinity in them and let me know in the comments below what your experience was.

Posted in: A Calm Perspective

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4 Simple Steps to Make a Difference

Human connection is important to our well being.

We lose sight of this when we ignore those who are right in front of us.

We have all checked out from a purchase while we were on our cell phone,disregarding the clerk.  As cell phones have become a way of life, we ignore and discount  who is helping us.

 We do not realize the impact this has on ourselves and others.  

Each day we encounter someone helping us- the cashier in the store, the bagger, the server at the restaurant, the toll booth attendant.  Each one is an opportunity for human connection. 

Looking someone in the eye is a way of acknowledging their presence as another human being.

It is a simple, easy way to relate to another person and has a powerful impact.

Try this next time you are at the check- out line, or toll booth.

  1. Put your phone away if you are on line, or turn down your radio if you are in a car.
  2. Turn and look at the person in the eye.
  3. Thank them.
  4. Wish them a nice day

It only takes a moment and the rewards will trickle throughout the day.

Let me know how this worked for you in the comments below.  How did it feel?  How did the person respond?

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