You have an infinite capacity for gratitude

gratitude tattoo

gratitude by Fancy Hunt on Flickr

When I was little, I’d say my prayers before bed.  “Now I lay me down to sleep….” I’d ask God to bless and watch over my mom, dad, gradmas and grandpas, aunt and uncle, brother, dog, cat, friends, anyone I didn’t know and everyone I forgot to mention.

I believed that I had to squeeze it all in during that prayer or someone might be left unprotected. As  a child, I had no parameters for what I asked of God.  As I got older, ‘the list’ became more condensed as if there were only so much room to ask God for a favor.

I used to think about Gratitude kinda the same way, like I had to find only the most prolific or beautiful things to be grateful for.  As if there were somehow a limit on gratitude or that unpleasant experiences weren’t worth considering.

But, I’ve come to realize that just like our hearts have an infinite capacity for love, there’s no limit to how much you can express gratitude for, and nothing is too trivial.

You can be grateful for the big ones, the obvious ones like, “I’m grateful for my health, and the health of my family, and my job, and my home, etc.” and those are great.  But it’s also OK to express gratitude for the little things or oft forgotten things like toilet paper, clean water, green lights, toast, toothpaste, not stubbing your toe on the table again…

And, it’s particularly liberating to be grateful for the not-so-awesome things that happen in our lives like people who drive us crazy, traffic or pain.  

When you begin to find ways to be grateful for everything, you can begin to let go of assigning value judgements like good or bad and take the ‘me’ out of what happens.  It just happens.

How many things can you be grateful for today?

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

(Photo: Fancy Hunt / Flickr)

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Light as many candles as you can

Buddha happiness quoteShare your happiness with everyone you meet, and accept it when it’s given to you.

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

(Photo: Zen Pencils)

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A Charmed Yogi’s top posts from 2012

greatest-hits

My first year as a (consistent) blogger has been amazingly cathartic and rewarding, and I’m truly surprised and honored at how many people find my writing worth reading and sharing.

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform, and last year, A Charmed Yogi was viewed about 60,000 times!. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it. I honestly can’t believe it.

No one loves a ‘greatest hits’ more than me, so I thought I’d share my top 5 most viewed posts from 2012.  If you read them, thank you!! If you haven’t, I’d love to know what you think.

  1. Awaken your inner dragon (7,542 views)
  2. Yoga mat speed dating – a product review (2,243 views)
  3. 9 awesome yoga infographics (2,083 views)
  4. 5 downloadable yoga pose sequences for all levels (2,069 views)
  5. Transcendental meditation is like Alka-Seltzer (1,363 views)

Thanks for reading and making this journey so fulfilling.

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

“I surrender with gratitude” is my sankalpa

surrender ishvara pranidhana

In a recent post, I explained what a ‘Sankalpa‘ is and how it differs from a resolution.  Where a resolution tends to be more about restraint and sacrifice like giving something up for Lent, a Sankalpa is an intention or will.

Control is a big issue for me, particularly when it comes to the creation of what my ego considers a ‘safe environment.’  I spent a long time creating a bubble for myself in an effort to shield myself from pain, but let’s face it that takes a LOT of work, and pain exists regardless of how well we pad our mental and physical walls.   Resistance is hard, surrender is easier, and I know this.  I see it in students, I experience in my asana practice, so I’m going to carry it with me each and everyday, and see the opportunity to surrender to the moment — to what is — at every turn. This doesn’t mean I’ll be taking a defeatist attitude, but rather, accept what is.  Accept that over which I have no power and more importantly bring awareness to what I do and don’t truly have any control over.  Sounds a little like living the Serenity Prayer, only I’m going to add a line or two.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

The courage to change the things that I can

The wisdom to know the difference

I will surrender with gratitude

And I will show love wherever I go

What’s your Sankalpa?

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

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(Photo: Pinterest)

Being nice feels nice (most of the time)

it's nice to be nice plaqueAs part of the #26ActsofKindness campaign that Ann Curry conceptualized to commemorate the 26 victims of the Newtown shooting by paying kindness forward, I decided to participate. It always feels…well… nice to be nice. If you’re there to receive someone’s thanks, gratitude is a warm hug, but even if you aren’t it still feels pretty darn good to be kind (most of the time.)

I started a personal tradition years ago in which I always pay for the car behind me when going through a toll booth.  I stole this simple act from a car that did it for me once.  So, I decided to expand on the concept and paid for the gentleman’s lunch behind me in line in my office cafeteria.  I don’t bring this up for any kind of recognition, but because I was taken aback for a moment by his reaction.

Dazed and confused when the cashier told him I’d paid for his lunch, he yelled for me — almost in an accusatory tone.  He then proceeded to interrogate me as I walked away, “Why did you do this?”  His tone more irritated than I’d expected.  My answer, “Just ’cause.  Merry Christmas.” His face changed when he realized that I didn’t buy his lunch as retribution for something he didn’t even realize he’d done, and simply said, “Thank you.”

When I’ve done this in the past, I prefer to slink off and just let the person enjoy a pleasant surprise.  But I couldn’t get away that quickly this time.  I really don’t honestly don’t do it because I want to be heralded, I just do it because of all of the times someone has done something nice for me and I wasn’t even paying attention.  I also hope that it changes someone’s day enough, that the kindness grows.

It’s a bit troubling that we, as a society, enter each day braced for battle as if life were a combat zone.   When we’re shocked more by acts of kindness than by criminality or day-to-day insensitivities, it’s time to re-evaluate.

Take a step back today, and evaluate (without judgement) how you face the world each day. Are you ready for battle? If so, can you shift perspective?  Karma  is the concept of “action” or “deed”, understood as that which causes the entire cycle of cause and effect.  Why not change you Karma and put out goodness for goodness sake.

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

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(Photo: Pinterest)

Don’t just lie there, scrape your tongue

woman sticking out tongue

Ayurveda is ancient Indian science and philosophy that focuses on the vital health of the whole individual, including the physical, energetic, psychological and spiritual.  Living a balanced Ayurvedic life includes taking care of the physical body with yoga, meditation, healthful eating for your Dosha, and a hygiene ritual called Dinacharya.

One of the more traditional components of the morning ritual is tongue scraping.  Your mouth in general, and particularly your tongue can reveal a lot about your health, specifically your digestive system. So, treating the tongue as a specific area of the body of hygiene focus is important. In addition to removing bacteria, scraping your tongue stimulates your digestive fire and enzymes.

Kick off the not-so-new-year with this morning Dinacharya that’s believed to promote health and prevent disease.  You may have to adjust your schedule to allow yourself the time to get up and accommodate a new routine, but see what it does for your physical and mental health.

1. Wake up – Be aware of your body, focus your awareness on positive things. You may even choose to say a prayer and express gratitude.  By the way, the optimal times to wake up based on your Dosha are:  KAPHA 3:00 – 4:30 am;  PITTA 4:00 – 5:30 am; VATA 5:00 – 6:30 am.

2. Nature calls – Go to the restroom as needed.

3. Wash the face – Wash face, mouth, and eyes – be sure to wake up your eyes with some simple eye exercises.

4. Brush your teeth & scrape your tongue – Scrape the tongue with a tongue scraper from base to tip.  You’ll be amazed at the funk you’ll get off of your tongue.  Some practitioners gargle with sesame oil, and rinse their mouth with a Triphala powder mixture as well.  But, there’s only so much time in the morning…

5. Drink water – Drink a glass of room temperature water on an empty stomach.

6. Self-massage – Abhyanga is a self-oil massage that stimulates the lymphatic and circulatory system.  Traditionally sesame oil is used. Start with your feet and work your way up to your scalp.

7. Clean out your nasal passages – Using a neti pot with a distilled water, saline & bicarbonate mixture flushes out bacteria harboring mucus that accumulated in the night.  Once you’ve cleaned out your nose, you can place a couple of drops of sesame oil just inside the tip of your noise to moisturize your nasal passages.  (I use a mixture of sesame oil, lavender and eucalyptus).

8. Shower

9. Yoga & Meditation – I try to do at least 30 minutes of yoga, followed by pranayama and 15 minutes of meditation.

15. Breakfast – Eat according to your dosha.  Here’s a great article from Body + Soul Australia on eating for your dosha.

It may seem like a daunting routine, but it’s really not once you get into the habit and you’d be surprised at how much better you feel.  Try it out, and see for yourself.

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

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(Photo: Pinterest)

Gratitude turns what we have into ENOUGH

If you’re family is like mine, you may go around the table today and share something for which you are grateful. For me, I’m grateful for everyone seated at the table, especially my dad. Happy Birthday, Dad! I love you.

Namaste & Happy Thanksgiving.

– Your Charmed Yogi