Sunday, July 24, 2011

Summer Gardens and Thoughts

Snake Terrace Garden
It is really quite amazing how quickly time passes in the summer. I've been spending so much time outside in the gardens, not to mention the woods or the horse farm, that there has been little time to get on the computer. And even when I do get on the computer I can't seem to get too excited about sitting in front of it. And with our Zen Yoga Retreats coming up we have plenty of work to do.

Of course part of it is that the summers here in the mountains of Vermont are short and you want to take advantage of it as much as possible. Another reason is simply that sitting in front of the computer gets old. Being out and experiencing life is a true joy. We tend to fool ourselves when we blog or text or surf the net, thinking we are interacting with other people and the natural world, but it just isn't true.

I've written a bit recently about the vibrational changes that many people are feeling taking place in the world. It is hard to turn a blind eye to these changes once you start to feel them.

We really need to take some time for ourselves. This time needs to be spent out in nature, away from the technological chains that are binding us to the modern world.

Ask yourself; When was the last time you stood in front of a huge bonfire and watched the flames dance into the night sky?

Strengthening our relationship with the element of Fire is vitally important. We take all of the energy we use for granted. We flick a switch and the lights come on.

This goes for the other elements as well. Are you aware of the water you use in daily life? Do you let the tap run while you are brushing your teeth?

We can no longer choose to be ignorant of these issues. There are too many of us on this planet and not enough of everything to go around. It is time to pay attention.

Spending time honoring the elements and nature should be a daily practice. We need to be a bit more humble in our approach to things. We are not the center of the universe.

Anyone needing a deeper exploration into these studies is welcome to join our SELF-MASTERY ONLINE COURSE - The Fundamentals of Zen Yoga

until next time...wishing you much peace

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Conscious Breathing

It’s time to focus on breathing again…

Breathing is essential to life, yet it often the most neglected aspect of any physical training program. The simple fact is that breathing is the fundamental aspect of our physical body. It is a continuous rhythm that runs throughout our whole life. The body can go for days, even weeks without food. It is able to survive two or three days without water. But it is virtually impossible to go without breathing for more than a few minutes. Without fresh oxygen to the brain the bodily systems quickly shut down and we die. Breathing is natural, and automatic, something we rarely tak e the time to notice, unless we are winded from a burst of exercise or emotional stimulation. This is fine for most people for much of their lives, since the body was created to work efficiently without having to pay attention to breathing. 

This normal, everyday breathing can be defined as subsistence breathing. The amount of oxygen taken in during subsistence breathing is sufficient for everyday life. It brings just enough oxygen into the body to keep it functioning. Imagine a subsistence farmer who works the land and scrapes just enough food together to feed his family. Quite possibly he can continue this way for many years. His existence, though meager, seems sufficient. But, what if there is an unforseen disaster, which affects his ability to continue, such as a prolonged drought, flooding, or an early frost? If the farmer has not stored up his reserves, then simple survival may be almost impossible. The same goes for breathing. Subsistence breathing, though meager, is adequate as long as the body is healthy and active. But what happens if there is an accident, sickness, or trauma? Without an excess of stored energy, there are no reserves to tap into when needed. It becomes difficult for the body to repair itself.

Conscious breathing is the process of becoming aware of the body’s inhalation and exhalation of air. Nearly four thousand years ago in ancient China and India people understood that becoming conscious of the body as it is breathing is the key to a long, healthy life. Just the action of noticing the breath brings our awareness to it and increases its quality. One of the most common themes in the teachings offered by spiritual leaders is the principle of internal cleansing, getting rid of that which is old, worn out, and stale, and exchanging it for what is new, fresh, and energized. That, of course, is the central principle of conscious breathing as well. During inhalation we are bringing in fresh oxygen, nutrients, and vital energy. During exhalation we are expelling carbon dioxide and other toxins and poisons that we produce or collect in our daily living.

Give yourself a few moments every day to take a few long, deep breaths. Stay focused on that moment and enjoy!

wishing you much peace,

If you want to learn more about breathing try Breathe Smart.

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