Consciousness of What Is

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Trauma, whether physical or emotional pain, daily or massive crisis, often triggers coping mechanisms to carry us through the moment. Humans are built to SURVIVE! Anything floating by when you’re “drowning” will be grabbed. Live to fight another day, to think about it later. Problem is, the thinking about it later may feel like pain, too, so the opportunity for clearer thinking is avoided. When the coping mechanisms become habit and are broadly applied to any pain or problem, they create dysfunction. You’re making it through the moment but miss opportunities to grow and evolve, to learn who you really are and to be comfortable with what’s really going on. Thinking is distorted and therefore your reality is distorted. Consciousness is awareness of who you are, beneath the triggers and mechanisms. Whatever the situation, there is something eternally You inside. Consciousness is awareness of what’s going on externally and knowing it does not have to be internalized and re-made into something you accept. You are still You, inside, no matter what. Life happens. Mindset is what you do with it.

As a yoga coach, one of the things I do is help people develop their consciousness — of their physical bodies, their mental/emotional mindset and their life situations. Releasing patterns that may have served a function once but have grown into life-blocking dysfunction takes real effort. Having support and guidance, whether from a coach or a support group or therapist can make the process a bit smoother. The good thing is that the human mind loves patterns and can learn new ones with persistence and patience. Through the calm, concentrated focus of yoga poses, breathing exercises and meditation practices, people can find the power to shift their mindsets into peaceful, healthy, balanced states.

Below is a copy of a post that, coincidentally, my middle school music teacher recently put on Facebook. He sums up very well several variations that a mind in survival mode may develop to cling to in a difficult time but fail to release later, even when it gets in the way of a full, healthy, authentic life. You may recognize some of your own coping mechanisms that you feel ready to release, to make room for a kinder, gentler reality and sense of peace and joy. LUVMVMT, in all its variations, exists to help people evolve toward healthy self-love, self-acceptance and self-care.

RE-BLOG: 15 STYLES OF DISTORTED THINKING

Filtering: You take the negative details and magnify them while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation.

Polarized Thinking: Things are black or white, good or bad. You have to be perfect or you’re a failure. There is no middle ground.

Overgeneralization: You come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or piece of evidence. If something bad happens once you expect it to happen over and over again.

Mind Reading: Without their saying so, you know what people are feeling and why they act the way they do. In particular, you are able to determine how people are feeling toward you.

Catastrophizing: You expect disaster. You notice or hear about a problem and start “what if’s.” What if tragedy strikes? What if it happens to you?

Personalization: Thinking that everything people do or say is some kind of reaction to you. You also compare yourself to others, trying to determine who’s smarter, better looking, etc.

Control Fallacies: If you feel externally controlled, you see yourself as helpless, a victim of fate. The fallacy of internal control has you responsible for the pain and happiness of everyone around you.

Fallacy of Fairness: You feel resentful because you think you know what’s fair, but other people won’t agree with you.

Blaming: You hold other people responsible for your pain or take the other track and blame yourself for every problem or reversal.

Should: You have a list of ironclad rules about how you and other people should act. People who break the rules anger you, and you feel guilty if you violate the rules.

Emotional Reasoning: You believe that what you feel must be true–automatically. If you feel stupid and boring, then you must be stupid and boring.

Fallacy of Change: You expect that other people will change to suit you if you just pressure or cajole them enough. You need to change people because your hope for happiness seems to depend entirely on them.

Global Labeling: You generalize one or two qualities into a negative global judgment.

Being Right: You are continually on trial to prove that your opinions and actions are correct. Being wrong is unthinkable and you will go to any length to demonstrate your rightness.

Heaven’s Reward Fallacy: You expect all your sacrifice and self-denial to pay off, as if there were someone keeping score. You feel bitter when the reward doesn’t come.

Dance Break: Self-Care Tool

Adult life conspires to keep us still. Quiet. Controlled. Well-behaved. Appropriate. Yes, there are times and places where if you don’t conform to that, you are in trouble. But, all the time? No, no, no! Darlings, this will not do!

But, where and when and why and how does one enjoy a dance break? Must you wait for a wedding or a cruise or a club outing or a dance class? Many people I talk with say, “I used to dance” or “I’m not coordinated” or “I don’t have anyone to dance with” or “Yeah, sure, I will dance… after a few drinks … and then I think I’m the best dancer in the room.” Just for now, try dancing alone. Try dancing without self-judgment. Try it without sedation.

Where? If this is new, anywhere that you will not be interrupted for the length of two songs. Once you are comfortable, anywhere that you feel free to be yourself and will not be stopped or confronted by others.

When? So many options! Most recorded songs are about 3 minutes long. Got 6 minutes? Time enough for a dance break.

Why? 1) You have been sitting too long. (2) You are bored and feel you might fall asleep and think the walk to the refrigerator or vending machine would be the cure to wake you up. (3) A powerful emotion has hold of you and you don’t quite know what to do with it but you are tempted to sublimate, i.e. slam a beer or throw the emotions like a javelin at someone else or start broadcasting self-hating tapes in your head.

How? If you simply need to move or energize yourself, the prescription is simple. Play two songs that rev your motor. This is highly individual. Could be “Get Up Offa That Thing” or “Born To Be Wild” or “Save A Horse, Ride a Cowboy” or “Defying Gravity” or anything that makes the pulse stir. Pick two. Go! Caveat: You really, truly only have time for one song? Go! It’s better than none.

If you are dealing with overwhelming emotions, especially negative ones, the prescription offers a bit more guidance. While talk and journaling can be rich fields for problem-solving and evolution, we must not forget we are physical creatures and our emotions are also embodied. We are not just massive brains being perambulated around by skeletons from one sitting surface to another. Two songs are required for this kind of dance break.

The first song should mimic in tone and pacing the feeling you struggle with or that you cannot express verbally or physically in a safe, comfortable way around others right now. This may require a bit more exploration of your playlists or CD collection. Music is the universal language and it speaks every intonation on the emotion scale. Grief? Anger? Fear? Frustration? All covered. Move freely in a way you feel connects to those notes. Let it go! If you are in a good space to vocalize, that can be a helpful add-on. It may feel weird to groan and moan and weep and wail and gibber to music but the aftereffect is a fantastic feeling of lightness and tension released. At the end of the Emotion Releasing Song, take a few deep breaths. Odds are your mind will feel pleasantly blank. The second part of the prescription is to follow up the releasing song with a positive song that brings you back into a pleasurable state of inhabiting your body. A slow-ish, sensual song helps many people come back from the negative place they were in with the releasing song. (We want to release, not wallow or ruminate.) Think Barry White or make-out music. Some people will prefer an uplifting, soaring song, perhaps a classical piece or an aria. In these precious six minutes or so, you are movement, you are music. Your body will love you for it.

Dispense your dance breaks as needed. Sometimes, you may need a Dance Party.

LUV Yoga – Songs for Gentle Practice

For me, everything is better with music! The following songs are in my ear for a gentle, mindful yoga  practice of about an hour  and 20 minutes — from the class filing in and setting up, through warm-up, flow and into savasana (final relaxation). I found them all on iTunes. Namaste!

“I Can See Clearly Now”                         Jimmy Cliff

“Good To Be Alive Today”                      Michael Franti

“Life Is Better With You”                       Michael Franti

“Ritual Mystical”                                    MC YOGI

“Hypnopedie”                                          Bebo Best

“Om Mane Padme Hum”                      Marti Nikko & DJ Drez

“Flying With You”                                   MC YOGI

“Free Spirit”                                              Budi Siebert

“Just A Song Before I Go”                      Crosby, Stills & Nash

“Rain”                                                          Jesse Cook

“Differente”                                               Gotan Project

“I’m Not Drowning”                               Steve Winwood

“Falling Into You” Karma Chill Mix    Devon Haines: Viva Beats

“Lakshmi”                                                  Girish

“Hidden Door”                                           Adam Hurst

“Priya (Beloved)”          Michael Mandrell & Benjy Wertheimer

“Thai Chill”                                                 Ethereal Moments

“Change The World”                                Eric Clapton

“Stars In The Sky”                                    Rainforest Lullabies

 

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LUV Belly Practice Songs

The wonderful world of music offers an endless variety of songs to dance to, and finding music for belly dance practice is great fun. These are in my ear today. All songs below are available on iTunes.

“Khamsa We Kamsine”                 Chalf Hassan

“Paint It Black”                                Demetra Suvari

“Bellydancing (Arabic Music)”    Belly Dance (album)

“Hips Don’t Lie”                              Shakira

“We Daret El Ayam”                       Mahmoud Fadi

“Mother’s Love”                               Ari Cohen

“Tahrir”                                               Ramzi Aburedwan

“Solo Darbuka”                                 Chalf Hassan

“Echoes of Istanbul”                       Keith Halligan

“Lebanese Blonde”                          Thievery Corporation

“Change the World”                         Eric Clapton

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Compassion Toward Your Precious Body

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To- Do List: 1) Give yourself a big hug! Wrap your loving arms around yourself and squeeze. Breathe. Let it all out. Whisper, “I love you.” (2) Find a mirror. Any size. Look into your eyes. Say, “Hello, gorgeous!” (3) Turn on a favorite song. Move any way you wish, from a sway to head-banging or anything in between. If you’re an introvert, dance like nobody’s watching. If you’re an extrovert, dance like everybody’s watching. (4) Write the Universe a thank you note. (5) Sit still or lie down in a quiet space and breathe slowly in and out for at least five minutes. On the inhale, think “I am.” On the exhale, think, “enough.”

Other than ending up feeling good, why should you do these things? Well, your brain is listening. And, it believes you. Far too often, especially in Western culture, we live in a near-constant state of self-criticism and perceived lack. This is toxic. It harms us and the negativity radiates outward to others.

That phrase “I’m only hurting myself”? Not true.

Compassion begins at home. Compassion AKA loving kindness begins within and toward your own body, your very being. It is difficult, if not impossible to be authentically kind and non-judgmental toward others if you are harsh and critical toward yourself. Mood is not a light switch so easily thrown. Habits of thought show up in habits of speech.

Many spiritual and religious traditions recognize this connection between compassion for self and compassion for others. Christianity, for example, teaches “love your neighbor as you love yourself; there is no greater commandment” and “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Yogic philosophy at its very base is rooted in ahimsa, a commitment to non-violence and compassion. It recognizes the absolute necessity of self-love, self-care and self-acceptance before one can relate honestly, openly and kindly with the external world. For those who fear the label or the state of narcissism, self-love is a baseline, not a state of total absorption to the exclusion of others’ interests.

When we are unkind to ourselves, we are less likely to be consistently kind to others. If our behavior towards ourselves is punitive, neglectful or outright abusive in thought, word or deed, that does not bode well for our health or for our relationships with others.

We all can slip into bad habits of speech and thought, leading into bad habits of action or inaction. “God, I am so fat.” “I look so old.” “I’m terrible; I don’t have any willpower.” “I’m past it.” The culture often encourages these unkind assaults. There is big money in self-loathing. When we are discontented and disliking of our very selves, we are vulnerable to the promise of a product that can ease the pain quickly — have a drink!– or something that compounds the pain by punishing our unworthy, failed bodies — feel the burn!

It doesn’t have to be like that.

LUVMVMT® exists to encourage and empower self-love through movement, which the human body both craves and needs. You will not be measured, weighed or judged. Come as you are. As you truly are, right now. The joy of movement is your birthright. Strength, balance, flexibility and coordination make the journey of life easier. They also reduce the likelihood of accident, injury or strain that so often assault a body that has been abandoned or neglected. Movement that expresses your feelings and their many shades allows your spirit to take flight. Today is the day to re-claim your birthright. Love Movement. Love Life. Love Yourself.

Move Freely. Stand Tall.

Long front body. Reach with the crown of the head. In dance, as in yoga, these teaching cues will be heard by students so frequently they may become a kind of white noise. Nevertheless, the actions are essential to moving freely with a supple spine.

We all have different ways of learning. For lovers of the technical and scientific, here is a useful description of how and why the “long front body” makes all forms of movement more free and less inclined to stress and injury. Hats off to this TED Talk speaker!