Avoid Getting Burned

While a sunburn may be quite painful and downright dangerous, it can be avoided with protection. Applying sunscreen takes preparation, awareness and application. A little discipline goes a long way in preventing a burn. Us Michiganders, who feel sun deprived, often overexpose ourselves. No doubt, sunshine is beneficial. Go outside! But, don’t stop doing all the things that are good for you. When summer comes around maintain balance, rather than going buck wild, AND still have fun in the sun! 

As a yoga studio owner, I see a mass exodus of members beginning each spring. I am not here telling you to retain your membership (although you should!). As a reminder, the same life challenges still happen in the summertime. We still have the same mind no matter the weather. There are still changes and challenges every day. We still have relationships and jobs. We often throw our discipline out the door to get outdoors, without thinking to protect ourselves beforehand. Are you overexposing yourself to life without applying sunscreen? 

Yoga is a ‘sunscreen’ –a method of protection from harsh elements. Practicing yoga and daily disciplines keeps me from falling apart, going nuts and overreacting. Simultaneously, energy increases with clear thinking and more focus. Even when someone’s actions burn me, I don’t get as burned as in the past. Each morning, I wake up and place my monkey mind on some true wisdom. These words, thoughts, teachings, values and knowledge lift my mind out of the gutter and prevent me from getting caught up in the web of life. With a sense of peace and objectivity holding me steady, I am less bothered when things don’t go my way. Discarding that discipline for 75 degrees and sunny, would continually burn me. If one hour helps to maintain sanity, it’s well worth it! 

Recently a friend and I spoke regarding the summer struggle to stay on track. They mentioned a pool party conflicting with a prior engagement. It is tempting to bail from a commitment and go party! I totally get it. Me too. But I don’t and won’t, because of being burned too many times. This is not a judgement, only a caution. Life is brief and our time is valuable. We have an opportunity to get to the pinnacle of our existence in THIS lifetime. Even if we fall short, we will find more and more joy moving forward. 

The other day, the weather was beautiful. It was a perfect summer day, not too hot or humid, a light breeze to refresh the skin without a cloud in the sky. Felt like a dream. On that day, I received an email note from someone severing ties with me. It was sudden, shocking and upsetting. Did I go play in the sun and drink myself to oblivion? No! That would ultimately make me feel worse. I did what I was supposed to do and taught my class at EnSoul Yoga. I shared a message about the importance of communication, especially when exiting a relationship or job.  I reminded students that we can only control ourselves and not anyone else. When wondering about someone’s actions, it can hurt. However, using objectivity, we won’t be as disturbed because it isn’t personal! Teaching the class helped me move on and the remainder of the day was still perfect. I walked to my car enjoying the fresh air and drove with all the windows and sunroof open! I hung with my dogs in the yard and called up my support troops for guidance. 

The next day was almost a carbon-copy of the day before weather-wise. As you know, this is extremely rare in Michigan. After the dust had settled, sadness lingered over the loss. However, I studied to settle my mind and took a quick jog with the horse-dog Great Dane, Onyx, to get my body moving. Later, I had an appointment scheduled during prime sun hours. But, when I walked in to the studio, devoted teachers were there lending support. Their smiles lifted my spirits. Doing my job and sticking to my commitment felt great. Why? Because what I ought to do protects me from getting burned. Later in the day, I experienced an incredibly uplifting yoga class with many other glorious souls who decided to take one hour of the perfect-weather day to go within themselves at the studio. When we go inside ourselves, we connect to a power much greater than the sun

Let’s stay disciplined this summer. Sunblock doesn’t require us to stay out of the sun or be indoors, it helps ensure we do not overexpose ourselves to the point of being in pain. You know: red, blistered, overheated and peeling... NOT FUN! When we regret actions, we get burned! That hurts. If you are aware of people, places and activities that challenge your control, avoid them. Find healthier alternatives. That is preventative protection. Being outside is way more delightful when you keep yourself in check! 

CP


Who do we Trust for Guidance?

We trust that who we seek guidance from, be it counselor, therapist, guru, teacher, parent, friend or life coach, is professional, qualified and capable of aiding us. How do we know if our guide is really helping?

I have sought assistance from family members who are professional counselors, therapists, psychologists, and even lawyers. Additionally, I have seen a host of professionals outside of family, from my teens to well into my 30’s! I am an advocate for guidance, however with a caveat. Do you trust your guide over yourself?

Do you find that every decision has to be deliberated between you and them? Are they always on your side? Do they tell you that your parents, family, partner, friends, place of work or the world around you are the problem? Are you paralyzed between sessions? If you answered YES to any of these questions, please THINK and ask yourself, “How’s that working?”

A proper guide provides valuable, objective tools and skills to help navigate life. Primarily, therapists are trained to provide a safe space to be heard and help process past experiences in order to move forward. A life coach is supposed to do just that: coach you how to live the best life according to your nature, personality traits, and goals. Both are employed to help you help yourself. Neither are to be dependent upon. Dependence on anyone or anything external is an addiction!

Outside aid may be necessary. Talking about issues is not wrong. Being heard is not wrong. We must learn to trust ourselves. Otherwise, we are putting our life in the hands of another. This is dangerous. As an example, after my divorce, I feared getting involved with someone who was unhealthy for me. Although my counselor gave me great advice, to trust myself, she was unable to educate me on HOW. Nobody could… This was the problem!

I finally cracked the code on why I needed help. My ability to think clearly and objectively was undeveloped. Every week I was on edge awaiting the next session. I did not know how to function without that appointment. I relied upon a therapist to define my issues and tell me what to do. When we do not know the problem, it does not matter what anyone says. Do you want to be bound by your advisor? I don’t.

My weak intellect, voice of reason, allowed every emotion, whim, fancy and impulse to get the better of me. My mind was continually wavering from past to future so that I could hardly be present. I experienced anxiety, worry, fear, depression, negativity, sleeplessness, health issues, made poor decisions and became entangled in destructive relationships. Can you relate?

The introduction of Vedanta philosophy helped me discover my true construct. I learned how to develop my intellect to make the right decisions. As another case in point, If I had asked anyone about dating a man twelve years younger, the answer would have been a resounding NO! I married that man. And, that was the best decision I have ever made. I found an incredible life partner on my own! How can anyone else truly know who is right for any other person than themselves? They may have a valid opinion but their job is to aid us in our decision making. When we have strengthened our inside counsel we do not need external counseling.

The following provides a good starting point for building our inner counsel:

  • Take time to reflect and think through someone’s suggestions. If those do not line up with reason and logic, avoid that situation. If a recommendation aligns, then take up that action and apply it.

  • Any beliefs or teachings should likewise be reflected and thought upon. Have you truly evaluated your beliefs and rituals?

  • Reflect on higher time-tested and true knowledge first thing in the morning (between 5 and 6am if possible)! Let your intellect resonate on higher thoughts and values each and every day. This will help keep our mind in check.

  • Borrow an intellect. This will be extremely challenging since most people have not worked to develop theirs. However, the good news is that another person may be more objective about your life than their own! Find someone unbiased, who makes sound choices and has their life together. If it is a struggle to make a decision, run it by them. DO NOT JUST ACCEPT THEIR DECISION! Listen, reflect and decide for yourself!

If we don’t trust ourselves enough to progress in life, we need outside guidance. It takes time to develop intellect. In the interim, seek out someone who is qualified to help. However, use caution to ensure you are helping yourself!

If you want to know more, check out our EnSoul Yoga classes, Vedanta study groups and most importantly our Life and Teacher Training program.

CP


Are you willing to do what it takes to be truly happy?

No matter what anyone says they want out of life, it all boils down to happiness. Every human being is trying in some way to find or maintain happiness. Do we even know what true happiness is or even why the goal of every human is to be happy? Honestly, I did not know either. What we do know is that we were born a human being while we could have been born an infinitum of other species. Damn good reason to explore more, right?! While all other species live based on survival and instinct, we, as humans, have an ability to do a lot more than that! What are we doing with this ability?

Take some time to write down what you believe makes or would make you happy. Assuming that list is complete, look it over and cross off anything that is impermanent, subject to change or won’t last… Reexamine your list. Most likely nothing remains. Everything we think we are happy for or that makes us happy is outside of us. This is called conditioned happiness rather than true happiness.

A conditioned happiness is dependent on either an external person, place, thing or something that may change. Use an example such as the physical body. We may say I will be happy when I reach a certain weight or look a certain way. When we reach that goal, we find that there is something else we want and therefore our so-called happiness is not so! Another example is finding a life partner. We believe this will make us truly happy. Have you noticed the divorce rate is climbing? It may happen or have already happened to you. No partner is a life partner. We hope it to be that way, but we cannot control the future or another being. If we do find a soulmate and it does last, we still seek something else… the wanting never ends. The truth is that we have no idea what we really want. If we do know, we do not understand that it won’t make us truly happy.

Arthur Schopenhauer says, “It is difficult to find happiness within oneself, but it is impossible to find anywhere else.” The yoga scriptures and ancient philosophy tell us that true happiness exists within us and not externally! Nobody can take happiness away nor give it to us. True happiness is a feeling of contentment that lasts 24/7 without interruption no matter who or what comes or goes. This means if someone leaves you, or you lose your home or even your loved ones you would still be happy. You may think, how could I be happy without my family, home, car, job or business? The greater question is how do I find happiness within myself and not be dependent on my list?

The answer is through YOGA! But, not the yoga postures. Don’t we wish it was that easy? Yoga is not based on postures and breathing techniques. Those are ways to bring and maintain the health of our physical body so that we may actually be able to perform the disciplines that bring us closer to our inner happiness or Self. (Note the capital “S”) We currently know ourselves in terms of our perceptions, feelings/emotions and thoughts. What enables what we know? Beyond our material layers lies our essential Self, Spirit, God, Divinity, Potential or SOUL! Yoga is the union to our real Self, where eternal happiness lives. If you are interested in the methodical process of getting there you are in the right place. It takes particular physical, mental and intellectual disciplines that set the right direction and take us to the pinnacle of our existence. Even if we fall short of that we will be moving closer to who we truly are.

The home of true happiness lives within us. Rather than running around our entire life trying to find joy in outside things and beings, let’s spend more time developing ourselves through yoga. Then, we may experience a lasting happiness and not a conditioned one. Are you willing to do what it takes to truly be happy?

To continue the journey, join our monthly Vedanta study groups via video or in studio. Additionally, inquire about our Life and Teacher Training: https://ensoulyoga.com/costa-rica-training-2019/

Plug EN 2 your true happiness!

CP

A Three Step Guide to Solve and Resolve

As the New Year approaches, we have an opportunity to reflect on our life and measure ourselves. What were our goals or resolutions last year? If they were not attained or achieved, have we moved any closer? Are we making the same resolutions each year only to continue to fall short of that goal? More importantly, was there a solid thought-out plan of action? If the answer is anything less than a resounding YES, continue to read on…

Resolutions are not the culprit. Our lack of thinking, planning and acting sets the course for failure. Whenever there is a problem, there must be a solution for resolution! The issue or weakness such as as an addiction, bad habit, old thought pattern, unhealthy relationship or work environment etc.. can be easily identified. The solutions aren't as easy… But, if we truly want lasting change and resolution, we must take the necessary steps, listed below, to get there.

  1. Define resolution: Be clear on what a resolution is before making one! The dictionary defines resolution as:

    1. The act or process of resolving: such as

      1. The act of analyzing a complex notion into simpler ones

      2. The act of answering: SOLVING

      3. The act of determining

  2. Identify the problem: Becoming aware is the first step to making any change. Be completely clear on what needs to change. Once we are aware, we are ready for step three.

  3. Devise a plan of action: This is the solution! The process involves resolving, analyzing, answering and determining. In other words: THINKING it through using the voice of reason, our intellect.

    1. Write a reasonable plan of action that can be followed daily. A checklist might be helpful.

Perhaps we have done the three steps listed above and are still not progressing. Who ever said change was easy? We may be impeding our own growth because of our focus. Where is the focus of attention in the plan of action? Take a few moments to answer that honestly. Once we have reflected, ask if any part of the plan has to do with NOT doing something. If so, there is our problem! There is no such thing as giving up a behavior or habit. That is impossible. One may only take up new and different thoughts and various actions to replace the old ones.

Instead of creating a plan with a list of things we are not going to do or things to get rid of, make a list of all the things we ARE going to do! Remember: we cannot give up anything. We may only take up something higher! This is the concept of renunciation. A synonym is growth. For example, examine a child. They love toys and to play. As they grow they discover better toys. These better toys replace the previous toddler toys. As we age, the toys continue to change. There is simply a process of outgrowing the older toys and moving on. When we shift our focus to something higher we automatically lose interest in the lower.

Think about our resolution. Let’s say we want to stop being unkind to others. We cannot just stop being unkind! Instead, try to change our attitude. What new thoughts could we entertain? What actions are we going to take? If we want to give up smoking and we say, “tomorrow my plan is to not smoke”. Good luck with that! In only a matter of time, we will be smoking. The alternative of constant obsession and craving is just as harmful. Instead, focus on the NEW ACTION: Take a walk outside, read an uplifting book, make some hot tea and read the newspaper, call someone who is supportive, get your ass to yoga class… whatever it is, we must have something TO DO. If not, forget about reaching your goals.

Now we have a three step guide to solve and resolve! It is a process. Enjoy the ride and have a happy New Year!

CP

Turn Holiday Fear into Cheer Through Yoga!

Feeling stressed about the holidays? An oxymoron most fall prey to. Holidays are a time to celebrate, be grateful, eat, drink and be merry. Right?! How in the world could this stir up fear, worry, anxiety and stress us out? Through yoga we can turn our fear into cheer without changing anyone or anything around us. How? Shift our own mind and attitude! There are two paths of yoga in particular that will enable us to be joyful and free this holiday season.

First, it is important to note that YOU CAN’T MAKE EVERYONE HAPPY! Make choices, stick to them, and let go. There will always be those who get upset; it is not your job to prevent this. Someone will likely be disappointed in you. That might not change. Most people are self-focused. All they are concerned with is what they are receiving or what they want from you. You cannot win this battle!

Second, nobody is going to change for you this year, so don’t expect it. Let everyone be who they are! If someone changes --great!  If they don’t, that is great too! The alcoholic who drank too much last year and the year before, and caused a ruckus, will do it again this year! If you cannot handle it, then do not go. Be prepared for them to act according to their own nature and have a great time watching the show! Otherwise, you will be disappointed and upset from your own unrealistic expectations. Properly assess each person that you may be in contact with and you will be entertained! If the turkey or tofurkey was dry last year, guess what? IT WILL LIKELY BE THE SAME THIS YEAR! The asshole in the family will be the asshole. In fact, everyone will be themselves. With this attitude you will be in great spirits and enjoy a wonderful holiday.

Beyond the perceptions, emotions, and thoughts lies our essential true Self. Yoga is the union to our higher Self within. Since all human beings have three material equipments, there are three yoga practices prescribed to each of them. We have a body that perceives and acts, a mind that emotes and feels and an intellect that reasons and contemplates. The following two yoga practices will serve us well through the holidays:

  1. Karma yoga is the path of action for the body. Act in a spirit of service and sacrifice.

    a) Focus on GIVING rather than taking. Think about what we may contribute, help, serve and give. That wipes out any thinking about what we want. Wanting, craving, expecting and yearning are all forms of stress and agitation. Once we get what we want, we then develop a fear of losing that thing or being.

    b) If you are worried about what food you will be able to eat at the holiday table because you observe a vegan or special diet, call the host and ask what you may bring or how you can help. Thinking or asking what they will have for you when you already know the answer will only add agitation. Who cares if there is nothing you can eat? Will you starve after just one meal? No. Is this really about food? No! Eat beforehand if you have to or eat the things you are able to when you are there. Be happy to be able to share an experience with friends or family!

  2. Bhakti yoga is the path of devotion for the mind. Focus on the infinite blessings in each moment followed by a feeling of gratitude. This higher recognition and feeling replaces negative emotions.

    a) Take time to notice that you woke up today. Not everyone woke up. You were blessed with another day of life. If your eyes are reading these words, you were blessed with sight. What is enabling you to see right now or comprehend this subject? Being aware of an unknown enlivening factor keeps our head out of the gutter.

    b) As you drive to what previously seemed to be a dreadful holiday meal or visit, look out the window and acknowledge Mother Nature: the leaves changing or falling, snowflakes creating a winter wonderland, rain replenishing the earth, sun giving vitality. These thoughts will help outweigh the bullshit that goes on in our mind and lift us right up.

These two yoga practices will empower us throughout life and especially the holiday season. Never again do we need to fret on a holiday. Override your FEARS.

Happy Holidays and CHEERS,

CP 

Lose your Preferences, play your role and SOAR!

Are we climbing higher, staying the same, or sinking? We get in our own way when making choices for ourselves every day. What exactly gets in our way and controls our life? The answer is our preferences, impulses, desires, ego and emotion. To put it simply: it is our own MIND. If the mind runs the show we sink. If our intellect - inner voice of reason - runs the show we SOAR. 

Humans have three marvelous equipments; a body, mind and intellect. Our body houses our organs of perception and action. Our mind houses our feelings/emotions, preferences and impulses. Our intellect is our ability to think logically, and when properly developed, directs and guides the body and mind! Beyond these material layers lies an enabling factor. Some call it God. Others refer to it as Spirit, Soul, Self, Atman, Brahman or another name. We have both… we may stay in the material realm, or we may use the material to reach the spiritual.

We have various roles that we play in our lives. When making a living, what is your role? "I am a teacher, lawyer, therapist, accountant, barista..." Then your job is to teach, practice law, listen to people and give sound advice, deal with numbers, make delicious coffee beverages... Stop thinking of what YOU want and just do the job. No matter what you choose to do for a living, it is a ROLE -not a life. Play it, and that’s it!

What is your role as a family member? “I am a wife, father, sister, uncle…” This is still not your life, but rather another role played. Do your duties and fulfill your obligations to the best of your ability! And no, we may not like everything about it.

We have a role in our community and country as well. What is it? Fulfill it and move on.

We label ourselves, "I am a mom, a business owner, salesperson, brother, husband, preacher, political activist, etc.” These are all roles we play but they are not who we really are. To make a living, we have jobs. To make a life, we must use our intellect to guide every motion, emotion, action and reaction. Without a strong intellect we are slaves to our mind and the world. This leads to a mundane existence. Is that all you want? I sure don’t. I want more!

There is way more but how do we get there?

  • Start by having honest dialogue with yourself. Recognize however, the very self that we are talking to, is the very self who also gets us off track by making poor decisions. If you struggle with a decision, reach out and ask for help! You may need to borrow a voice of reason and logic – an intellect! (I have at least six intellects I may borrow at any given time to ensure I’m covered.) 

  • Practice Karma Yoga, having an attitude of service in every action. This will absorb any annoyance, frustration or agitation so that we may play our role and SOAR! Ask: What is my role? How can I contribute? What may I give? You will actually receive more from this way of thinking! The opposite is an attitude of expectation, receiving, wanting, craving…

  • Put your preferences aside and use your intellect to steer. What we like may not be good for us and what we don’t like may indeed be. If we truly want growth, we must understand that the very things that make us uncomfortable also make us stronger.

Previously, I had little money and still went to India to study with my guru. Why? Because I was miserable and knew the only way out of that misery was to immerse myself in higher knowledge in an environment where I could not get lost in my preferences. I followed the schedule even when I didn’t want to. I did what I needed to do to get out of my own way and rise above my own bullshit that was pulling me down. 

I could go on and on about how most of my day is filled with actions that I do not prefer to do.

I play many roles. None of these define me. I am NOT just a wife, yoga studio owner, a sister, daughter, libertarian… Can you imagine if an actor brought their job home and became the role they played on stage or screen?

We are all seeking the kind of happiness, internal peace and sanity that lasts. Most of the people, places and things we like won't get us there. Our preferences keep us in negative relationships and jobs. Preferences make us eat the wrong foods and put things in our bodies that are not good for us. They mess up our roles and how we play them. They push, pull and toss us up, down and all around. Only our intellect, clear thinking, has an ability to move us in the right direction. What are we doing to develop that? 

If you are growing, you WILL experience discomfort. I'm with you! I feel that every day.... It’s uncomfortable but it also helps catapult us to a higher level of living! A yogi is a seeker looking for more than a mundane existence. Examine your whims and fancies - likes and dislikes -preferences and realize they have very little value... what are they getting you? 

 

Let’s stop being slaves and become true yogis. 

 

Save your own ass today. Lose your preferences, play your role and SOAR!

 

CP

 

Attach you Lose, Detach you Gain... A True Tale...or maybe 'Tail'

When you know you already have everything you need and set higher goals, things come to you.

 

“The way to gain anything is to lose it.” Swami Rama Tirtha

For most of my life, companionship has mainly come from dogs. What I did not realize was my intense attachment.

Attachment is a series of thoughts flowing in a particular direction that become stronger. For example, Mary thinks of Paul. She likes him. She starts thinking more and more about him. She can’t stop thinking about him. Now, she wonders what he is doing, where he is, when she will see him next, why hasn’t he called... These smaller thoughts pile up resulting in mental disturbance, agitation and stress. Imagine the effect this would have on a relationship. The attachment effectively pushes the object of desire further away from us rather than bringing us closer. Anything our mind fixes on may lead to attachment.

Detachment does not mean a lack of caring, feeling, missing or loving. In fact, it includes all of those MINUS mental disturbance! You will live your own life - not someone else's - and be free from worry and anxiety. You gain more peace and happiness. Isn’t this what everyone wants? However, most of us live in a bubble of ignorant bliss. We remain wrapped up and bound by our attachments. Anyone want out of this cycle?

The only way out is in! Because we are NOT Self Realized we feel a void. This pressure causes thoughts to flow out towards the world so that we fill up and feel good TEMPORARILY! These thoughts manifest for worldly things that manifest further into attachment. We stop the cycle by developing our intellect.

The intellect is not our intelligence. Intellect is our voice of reason. It has the job of overseeing and guiding our perceptions and actions of our body. It also oversees feelings, impulses and preferences of our mind. Essentially, intellect is life’s steering wheel. There are two specific things we can all do right now to tune up our intellect:

  1. Do not accept or take anything for granted.

  2. Question everything. Do not believe anything to be true unless it is backed by sound reason and logic.

Now for the true tale: Almost four years ago, I met and fell madly in love with a man who is now my husband, David. As we dated, he did not pretend to be interested in yoga or my dogs as he was indifferent towards both! Despite his loathing of dog hair, smell and drool he suggested the dogs and I and move in to his house with his two roommates! Knowing this would be a difficult living situation, it would also be a determining factor in moving our relationship forward. It was a test run and, while it was rough, we survived. We moved into our own home shortly after, and it was a HUGE adjustment for all of us. My dogs were no longer allowed in my bed. I also made a promise to David that I would not get another dog unless that was something he wanted too. And I really meant it! Over years of developing and sharpening my intellect, I realized the value of what a person contributed to a relationship, my life and the world. This was more important than if they did yoga or wanted to live with animals! But yet, I knew that I was attached to my dogs.

Keeping up on every level, serving my husband, tending to our relationship and growing my yoga business are my priorities in life. One of my beloved boxers recently passed. Although I am saddened by the loss and still miss him, I am not overcome by emotion, upset or disturbed. This is a surprising reaction. I am happy to have Kylie, my little boxer girl, and am also prepared for when she is no longer here. I fully accept that there are no more dogs in my life. By adopting higher thoughts and actions, I have outgrown my NEED and attachment to having dogs.

The story doesn’t end there. On Mother’s Day 2018, David said, “I have a surprise for you. I got you a dog!” I actually did not believe him. I did not EVER expect that. As a complete surprise to me, he had been researching and scouting puppies! I was a little nervous to hear his selection, since he is VERY particular and not a fan of the boxer breed… He chose a blue Great Dane. Without hesitation, I said YES as this was a dream breed of mine. For David, this dog will protect me and our home. He also wanted to give me something that he knew I would love. The best part: not asking for this.  Oh… and already being happy without expecting more.

When you know you already have everything you need and set higher goals, things come to you. I was happy with what I had and was not stressed or agitated by wanting another dog. Lose your lower quality desires, attachments, ego, cravings, and possessiveness. You may not gain a Great Dane, but you may gain PEACE OF MIND. That is true freedom. The Dane is icing on the cake!

Here’s to a true ‘tail’ of happiness!

CP

 

EnSoul Yoga Downtown Ferndale Business Spotlight

We are THRILLED to be featured as a Business Spotlight on DowntownFerndale.com

Business Spotlight – EnSoul Yoga

    "It was love at first practice!  Caren experienced yoga for the first time as a 16-year-old young woman and discovered this would be her lifelong purpose. From that moment forward, Caren adopted the principles of yoga and began to live fully in the presence of each one...."

    Read the full article here