If you're like most car owners, you take your car in for regular oil changes. Doing so keeps it running smoothly and efficiently, and serves to clear out gunk and debris. Believe it or not, doing this to our bodies serves a similar purpose! By taking time to oil your skin before showering, you lubricate joints, organs, and muscles inside - a practice even more beneficial during the cold months when some of us exercise less and many spend more time indoors, often exposed to the drying effects of artificial heat.
The Sanskrit word sneha means both “oil” and “love,” and the effects of lavishly applying oil to the body are similar to being saturated with love. Thus, the ancients tell us that this is a wonderful practice of 'self-love". The experience offers the feeling of stability, warmth and comfort to body, mind, and soul. Sneha—oil and love—is sukshma, or “subtle.” That means that the proper oil for your constitution, like love, easily passes through minute channels in the body to penetrate deep layers of tissue. Doing so, it, soothes and nourishes us, almost from the inside out.
Ayurveda teaches that there are seven dhatus, or layers of tissue in the body. Each is successively more concentrated and life-giving. It is taught that for the effects of sneha to reach to the deepest layer, it should be massaged into the body for 800 matras, roughly five minutes. If we consider that the entire body needs this kind of attention, a 15-minute massage is the suggested minimum amount of time to spend giving yourself this rejuvenating gift of self-love.
There are three classical ayurvedic texts (the Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita and Ashtanga Hrdayam) and all three reference the benefits of applying oil to the body (abhyanga).
The benefits include:
Herbal oils specific to your constitution or current condition are especially good choices for full body massage. This can be determined by an ayurvedic pulse reading, which may be scheduled throughout the year in the Mountain Wisdom Studio. I craft unique oil mixtures that combine the subtleties of an essential oil (plant essences) with a suitable base oil. Inquire today, and begin the practice of nourishing yourself with the energy of love.
Winter Special: In a visit that may last up to an hour, receive an ayurvedic pulse reading to determine potential imbalances to your dosha, a breathing assessment, a short reiki energy clearing, and one bottle of ayurvedically inspired body oil made expressly for you. $47 (discounted from $132)
Do you, like many people, experience heightened levels of stress during the holidays? With parties, and celebrations added to what may already be a full schedule, it’s no wonder some succumb to a headache, digestive disturbances, colds, or even bouts of anxiety or depression.
The to-do list alone, especially at this time of year, can foster significant levels of overwhelm. And that's all the reason to maintain, or even up-level, your self care. Do your best to pay attention to how you're feeling on any given day. Elevated stress levels may manifest in physical symptoms which you want to address before they get worse by resting, simplifying your diet, hydrating with adequate consumption of fresh, clear water, and even making time to get outdoors for a walk in nature.
How do you handle elevated challenges to your health and well-being?
For additional tips and suggestions from one online resource, click here.
Also, know that the mindfulness practices outlined in my recently published book: Learning to Breathe, Learning to Live: Simple Tools to Alleviate Stress and Invigorate Your Life may help.
How? Well, I'm sure you've experienced how taking a deep breath can calm you almost instantaneously. Doing this a few times each day helps even more. I have written the book to elevate well-being around the world, one breath, one person at a time. And I could use your help...
If you, or someone you know, is suffering from stress, please let them know about this book.
Better yet, considering giving it as a gift. Their health will thank you.
There are many positive ways to address and even reduce the levels of stress you may experience at this time of year, and all throughout the year, for that matter. Taking a time out to up your level of self care is important. Reading my book, and practicing what you find in it, will also help you feel better in body, mind, heart, and soul! Buy it today.
And... if you're interested, I'll be offering three week courses in the new year that use material from the book. Join us!
Wishing you and yours a magical, memorable, and healthy holiday season.
Sharon Harvey Alexander
Certified Stress Management Educator and Professional Yoga Therapist
Tomato Date Chutney
Serve with whole-grain crackers or papad (Indian lentil-flour crisps).
recipe by KATE O’DONNELL for Yoga Journal Magazine, OCT 12, 2016
Ayurvedic Tips for Delightful and Health Promoting Thanksgiving – Add Tomato Chutney to the mix.
Ayurveda is the sister science of yoga. It is the practice of considering how what you take in affects what comes out. These considerations influence not only the health of your body and mind, but also of your heart and soul.
According to Ayurveda - or the Science of Life – it is wise practice to have six tastes present in every meal in order to feel satisfied by the end of it. These tastes include: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter, and astringent. According to Ayurveda the Sweet, Bitter, and Astringent tastes have a cooling effect in the body. Sour, Salty, and Pungent tastes are all heating. Each taste exerts a unique influence on us as individuals, depending upon your individual doshic mix. If you know your dosha (which I am happy to help you determine) you may adjust the types of foods you eat to support physical, mental, and emotional balance, even as the seasons and other conditions around you change.
The seasons of the year are represented by a specific combination of the six tastes. In Autumn, when the qualities of nature tend to be dry, rough, windy, erratic, cool, subtle, and clear, you are wise to counter them with specific food choices to promote good health. The qualities of Autumn are shared by the vata dosha. If you have a strong mix of vata in your dosha, you may find that you feel unsettled and unbalanced this time of year. To counter this, and foster balance as a result, add in foods that subdue the dry, light, and erratic nature of the fall. This might include eating more dense, warming, and oily foods. Root vegetables are grounding. Meats, nuts, dairy, and good quality oils can be nourishing (think of yummy stews or fatty side dishes) and calming this time of year. Sweet tastes calm the vata dosha.
Offered below is a wonderful Indian inspired chutney recipe that may help to lighten up the heaviness of the typical Thanksgiving meal while also countering the effects of seasonal weather influences. The delicious condiment or appetizer is sweetened by dates and heated by red chili, mustard seeds, and tomatoes which are considered heating due to their natural acids. The heat of pungent (spicy) foods in small amounts can bolster your digestive fire, which may slow down when ingesting lots of oily and heavy foods.
Enjoy this fall inspired addition to your meal, and the time you spend with family and friends.
Wishing you a graceful, grateful, and gratifying holiday celebration!
Namaste~Sharon Harvey Alexander
Baby, it's hot outside! As the ambient air temperature rises, people's tempers may rise too. If you find yourself feeling irritable, impatient, short tempered, or easy to anger, take care. It is wise to make cooling choices this time of year.
How do we do that? Consider these simple tips:
* Drink cool water frequently throughout the day (but not with meals);
* Add cooling foods, and those with high moisture content, to your diet (fresh fruits and vegetables are great this time of year, especially cucumbers, pomegranate, coconut, watermelon)
* Use ghee and/or coconut oil for cooking, as they are very cooling, on the inside, and outside, too. Try rubbing the oil all over your body before showering.
* Exercise in the cooler hours of early morning and do your best to stay out of the hot afternoon sun.
* Where cotton clothing, as it breathes and cools the best of all fabrics.
* Give yourself (and others) more time to arrive at meetings, etc. in order to remain calm enroute.
* Reduce your to-do list in order to allow for the apathy or sense of tiredness that may set in as the result of the heat. Rest makes everything better.
Other ideas? Please share them in the comment box, below.
For a delightful summer iced tea recipe, read the following post. Enjoy!
Native to Europe and Asia, though now found on five of the world's continents, mint comes in as many as 15-20 variations and are part of a family of herbs that includes basil, oregano, rosemary, and sage. Many of these herbs, and the mints in particular, have been used for culinary and medicinal purposes by people around the world for thousands of years. Peppermint and Spearmint - two of the more well know varieties of mint - vary slightly in the strength of their effect. Peppermint is a hybrid of watermint and spearmint, and is the stronger of the two. Spearmint, being the milder of the two, is the one most commonly found in home gardens.
Known to relax the body and mind and cure bad breath, consuming foods and beverages infused with mint may also improve digestion, reduce pain, eliminate inflammation, optimize hormonal levels, aid in weight loss, increase circulation, boost the health of your heart and strengthen your the immune system. This is due to the key ingredients, Carvone in Spearmint, and Menthol in Peppermint, that are obtained from the oils of the mint plant and have local anesthetic and counter irritant properties. They cool down the body on the inside when consumed, thus reducing inflammation , irritation, and discomfort in many bodily systems. This is why drinking mint tea may help to cool and refresh you, even in the hottest months of the year.
Try this great recipe for making mint tea:
Mint Iced Tea - Cooling and Refreshing and Oh So Simple to Prepare.
Take a handful of fresh mint leaves (or use three herbal tea bags instead). Rinse and pat the leaves dry, then twist gently to release the delightfully minty oils from the leaves.
Place in pitcher and cover with filtered water. Let stand in refrigerator until cool. The water will have a slight color to it. Serve by pouring into glasses with filled with several ice cubes and enjoy.
The pitcher may be refilled several times before you discard the mint leaves.
Drink as desired to calm, cool, and refresh. Please note that some may have allergic reactions.
Health Promoting Properties Associated with Peppermint tea include:
Analgesic - meaning it decreases pain, which may help lessen the severity of arthritic symptoms and digestive upset.
Antibacterial - meaning that it may assist you in staying strong and healthy, even through seasonal changes.
Anti-inflammatory - may reduce symptoms of swelling in joints and irritation in many of the body's systems, including the throat and chest which may tighten due to allergies or cold and flu symptoms.
Antispasmodic - meaning that it may lessen the chances of nausea and vomiting, even in cases of motion sickness.
Calming - to body and mind. By calming the smooth muscles of the digestive tract it may improve the quality of bowel movements, including issues associated with IBS.
Carminative - meaning that it reduces flatulence by moving gas through the body, thus minimizing bloating and cramping.
Spring Time in the Rockies Heralds Subtle Changes:
March is that intermediary month, where spring is on the way, yet we may still be experiencing signs of winter in Colorado. In order to be healthy and happy as you navigate these seasonal changes, which can pose challenges to our overall health and well-being, I offer some lifestyle tips from the ancient science of Ayurveda to help you feel, do and be your very best.
As spring unfolds near the end of March, let your health blossom along with the bulbs you may have planted last fall, and the buds on the trees. Flowing with the seasons is easy when we follow a few basic principles.
Right now, the variable weather and damper conditions that come with the spring snows signal a change from those conditions that are inherent in the Late Fall and Early Winter. As spring approaches, we are moving out of what is referred to in Ayurveda as the Vata time of year (typically cold and dry) and into a Kapha Climate - one that is cool and damp. This is "spring time in the Rockies."
These changes suggest that we make minor modifications to diet, as well as to our movement (yoga) practices and even to the way we breathe in order to feel our very best! Easing into the spring season by taking care to clean out the accumulation from the winter season (in our bodies and perhaps also in our homes) will foster greater health on many levels. As a result, we may flourish all through the summer and into fall!
Simple Ways to Modify Your Diet:
According to the Science of Ayurveda, we want to incorporate more bitter, pungent/spicy, and astringent tastes in our diet as the weather warms up. Find these in raw fruits and vegetables, especially lettuces and herbs such as dandelion, fresh ginger root (makes a great herbal tea) and garlic, as well as pulses, and legumes.
These tastes open the body's channels of elimination, clearing excess mucus and moisture. As we move into the spring season, you are wise to reduce your consumption of kapha-aggravating tastes including sweet, sour and salty foods which tend to cause water retention, something we don't need at this time of year.
As March is a transition month – one that sits between the seasons – we want to tread lightly as we make these diet modifications. Until it's warmer, continue to minimize your consumption of raw and cold foods. Eating warm, lightly cooked meals, especially in the morning and evening, is wise. A salad at lunch may be a nice way to change up the routine a bit, and add in some of the spring tastes. Using lighter grains now including quinoa, millet and barley are also great ways to add in Kapha reducing foods in the springtime.
Diet and Lifestyle Tips for Spring:
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or come to class for support along the wellness path.
Namaste, Sharon Alexander, RYI 500 hr.
Sweet, Sour and Salty – These are the Tastes of Winter.
These are the tastes our bodies need more of now. These are the tastes that help ground and soothe.
According to the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, the medical arm of yoga, there are six primary tastes. They are Bitter, Salty, Sour, Pungent, Astringent and Sweet. While these unique tastes may not always be noticeable upon first bite, the Science of Ayurveda tells us that the food we eat breaks down into one or more of these tastes as we digest it. And the tastes combine in ways that influence us differently. Some tastes are heating, some are cooling; some are grounding, some can energize us; and of course, the way this happens is not as straightforward as you might think. Along these lines, as the seasons change, so does our physiological requirement for certain tastes.
Even though the tastes associated with the winter season are sweet, sour and salty, I’m not going to encourage you to suck on lemons, eat more candy or add salt to your fries… I will invite you to become more mindful of what you eat, however, and to begin paying more attention to how it tastes.
How do we do this? By slowing down... Savor each bite of food you eat, each sip of a beverage. Do you notice the subtle qualities? Begin by taking a moment to gaze upon a well prepared dish, and then take time to notice the flavors as you put the food into your mouth. Chew it. Chew it well. Once you’ve swallowed it, pause before taking another bite… Becoming more mindful about how we eat leads us down a path to becoming more mindful about how our food choices affect our overall health.
By learning to eat more slowly – taking our time and refining our senses - we nourish our bodies. In this way, taste not only nourishes our bodies. According to the science of Ayurveda, also known as the Science of Life (ayur – science; veda – life), what we taste has an influence on our minds and emotions, as well.
If you find this interesting, like I do, you may read more about the science of life and how the six tastes influence us… by clicking here.
And... if you're curious about some of the foods that offer the Tastes of Winter, here's a brief list:
Sweet (earth and water elements, cooling) - Root Vegetables, Breads, Dairy, Rice, Dates, Peppermint
Sour (earth and fire elements, heating) - Yogurt, Cheese, Lemon, Hibiscus, Rose Hips, Tamarind
Salty (water and fire elements) - Sea Salt, Rock Salt, Kelp and other Sea Vegetables
Thank you for reading. Feel free to leave a comment.
May you be warm, happy, healthy and satiated this winter – in body, mind, heart and breath!
Sharon Harvey Alexander
What the heck is Vata? And why is this important to me? If you are wondering, read on…
There is an ancient field of study called Ayurveda. It is the medical arm of yoga. Originating thousands of years ago, Ayurveda translates as the Science of Life and offers a model for understanding ourselves better. Not only is Ayurveda tied into a philosophy of how we came into these bodies; as a science, it can help explain why each of us differs somewhat from another and how we can best care for our unique self.
According to this philosophy or life science, one’s inherent makeup is a reflection of the elements found in nature. As the ancient wisdom holders studied the human body they came to believe that the basic elements of nature can be combined in various ways, resulting in three primary constitutions (or doshas). The understanding of these doshas is inherent to the practice of Ayurveda.
These qualities play out in an individual's body, mind, and emotions from the time of conception. If we look at energy – the potentially mobile quality of natural elements - it can be categorized from subtle (space, air) to dense (earth). The Chakra System is an ancient model for understanding how the natural elements, as energy or life force, merge and form our body. And it forms the world around us, too.
The three doshas are named Vata, Pitta and Kapha (with a silent H). Vata is the most subtle of the three doshas, comprised of the air and space elements. Pitta is comprised of fire and water and is the most intense expression of the elements. Kapha Dosha is formed of earth and a bit of water. What do you get when you mix earth and water? Mud! Kapha Dosha is the most dense, and thus the slowest and naturally the heaviest of the three constitutions. On the other end of the density spectrum is the Vata Dosha. It is the lightest and quickest and the one that changes the most easily. Why is this important? Because of its subtle nature, Vata Dosha is the one that goes most easily out of whack. Over time, an imbalance in the Vata Dosha affects Pitta and Kapha, as well. That’s when dis-ease really sets in, according to the Ayurveda Model. When we understand a bit about the way the elements form who we are, we can make choices that keep us healthy and functioning in an optimal way.
While there are a lot of details I could share, for this article what is important is to understand Vata’s Characteristics: cold, dry, quick, mobile, spacey, and anxious. As we move through autumn and into Early Winter, these are also the qualities we find in the environment around us, at least here in Colorado. Temperatures are dropping. Winds are picking up. The ground is very dry. When the conditions around us match a dosha, it becomes agitated or exacerbated within our own bodies, minds and emotions. As a result from an increase in Vata around us (including the dry indoor air, travel at a pace faster than one can walk, etc.) one may feel more unsettled and more anxious. This could even lead to depression, blame or guilt. Does that sound fun? Not to me!
So… what to do? We want to counter the qualities we find in nature, especially at this time of year.
Here are some suggestions for how to do that:
I wish for you a happy, healthy and productive transition into and through the winter season.
The Art of Belly Breathing, or Diaphragmatic Breathing for Relaxation can be fun! Give it a try...
Diaphragmatic breathing offers an easy form of relaxation. This breath, a slow, relaxed and controlled deep breath, involves the movement of the belly during both the inhalation and the exhalation. For yogis, it’s a basic form of pranayama – the art of restoring one’s life force through the act of breathing. It’s hard to believe, because the act of breathing seems so natural and happens automatically whether we think about it or not, that many of us have forgotten how to breathe correctly. Let’s explore this.
The lungs – which we fill with air when we breathe - are not muscles. They are acted upon by the muscles of respiration. Breathing begins with the diaphragm, a large muscle that spans the width of your torso and separates the thoracic or chest cavity from the abdominal or belly cavity. While it is the biggest muscle of respiration, it is not the only muscle associated with the breathing process. When we breathe into the belly verses only into the chest (called chest breathing), which many people do unconsciously, we more effectively stimulate the muscles of respiration. There are many reasons, however, why we may not do this. And as a result, often times we breathe more shallowly than we should. This leads to an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, among other things. If you’d like to more effectively use the muscles of respiration to breathe more deeply, which leads to a greater sense of relaxation, then I invite you to practice The
The Art of Belly Breathing.
Practice the following exercise lying down until it becomes natural. Then you can practice in a seated position, and even while standing. Do your best to breathe through the nose throughout the exercise, and stop if you become light headed or dizzy. These symptoms will subside with continued practice.
To begin: Take a comfortable position, loosen tight clothing and close your eyes. Imagine breathing only into the belly area as you inhale. While the lungs are filling with air as you take it in through your nose, let the belly expand. This happens when the diaphragm contracts, causing it to drop down into the abdominal cavity. To foster greater awareness of this, you gently rest your hands on your belly. It may be that you’ll need to consciously initiate an active expansion of the abdomen just before you breathe in as you are first working with this practice, inviting your belly to expand into your hands. Do so gently and continue this as you inhale through the nose (in the case of respiratory or sinus problems, it may be that you’ll breathe through your mouth, which is ok).
While inhaling, do your best to expand your abdomen while letting your chest remain passive until the very end. Remember, you are training the belly, not the chest (or shoulders), to do the breathing. Near the end of the inhalation, the diaphragm will begin to relax, causing you to naturally exhale. Let the belly drop in at this point. Emphasize this further by gently squeezing the belly toward the spine as you near the end of the exhalation as breathe out through your nose. This gentle squeeze of the belly releases tension in the diaphragm, allowing it to rise up into the thoracic cavity again. Note that, after this, a pause may occur naturally before the body is ready to take breath in again.
Practice this for several minutes while lying down. You could even recline against a bolster, over a foam roller or use two blocks – one placed under your upper back and another one under your head, for support and to highlight the actions associated with diaphragmatic breathing. As you grow comfortable with belly breathing, lengthen the amount of time you practice in a reclining position until it becomes a very natural activity. Then proceed to explore belly breathing in a seated position, and ultimately while standing. Notice the relaxation brought about by breathing this way.
Commentary: You may find that you typically breathe in a pattern opposite to what’s being suggested. That’s quite common. Being startled or unexpectedly surprised, attacked, yelled at, etc. (especially during our formative years) can cause us to tense and tighten, sucking the breath in as a conditioned response designed to keep us safe.
The process of tightening the belly as you inhale in called “Reverse Breathing” and it only serves to perpetuate stress and strain. The reason why is that reverse breathing stimulates the Sympathetic Nervous System – that part responsible for triggering the flight/fright/freeze mechanism in our bodies.
Diaphragmatic breathing, on the other hand, stimulates the Parasympathetic Nervous System. This system is responsible for the relaxation response in our bodies. What’s more, when we breathe this way we can take bigger breaths (because that big muscle that lies all the way across the torso near the base of the lungs, the diaphragm, gets out of the way).
We also become more sensitive to our “gut instincts” when we cultivate diaphragmatic breathing. We learn to rely not solely on the mind but also on our intuition which is seated in the belly. Curious about this? Please visit my website to read an article on the Vagus Nerve for more information: www.MountainWisdomYoga.com/blog/articlestoeducateandentertain.
Disclaimer: It is my hope that this information contributes to a sense of greater well being and better health for all who read it. It is not meant to take the place of medical advice. Please consult your doctor if you experience unusual signs of fatigue or shortness of breath at any time.
Yours, in health. ~Sharon Harvey Alexander www.MountainWisdomYoga.com
Happy Summer! Happy July! Happy Independence Day!
It’s July. Time to bring out the Red, White and Blue and have picnics and enjoy fireworks with friends and family, right?
As Americans, we celebrate our independence from England. Years ago, in school, we learned that the 4th of July Holiday, also known as Independence Day, goes back as far as the American Revolution, falling on the anniversary of the day our forefathers signed the Declaration of Independence. This act in 1776 recognized the independence of the 13 American colonies from the British Empire.
Yet this act didn’t come without loss, and it didn’t come without reliance on many members of these individuals colonies. Could it be fair to say that independence begets some sense of dependence, and that this is what leads to interdependence? After all, does a forest thrive without the trees that die, decomposing and returning nutrients to the soil? Or the water in the air that collects in clouds and releases moisture onto the soil in which the trees grow?
In nature, we can see how this interdependence fosters survival. How about us as human beings? I began to think about this a week or so before undergoing surgery to repair a damaged shoulder and clean out my knee in early June. Realizing I may not be up and about in the way I was before surgery until after the 4th of July Holiday, I started wondering what would become of all I had created independently over the last several years?
The life of my very small business was forefront in my mind before surgery. Certainly, I also wondered how my family (those who had learned to depend on me over the years) would get along without the helping hand of “mother”… Yet, I trusted that all would work out.
The process has let me deeper onto a journey based on a sense of interdependence. I began by first considering my own independence. And also about how all that was about to change, and I would be very dependent on others, especially in the first few days after surgery. While I can only imagine that it is this way for others because I know that for me it’s hard to rely on others to do things I’m capable of doing, being independent is hard to change. “Why is this”, I wondered? “Where did this tendency come from”? And more importantly, “how does it serve me and/or others”?
I came from pioneering stock. My father’s family traveled west and homesteaded in the shadow of Long’s Peak. My mother’s family emigrated from Canada. For a few years, while I was growing up, I had a horse. That horse meant the world to me. Unconditionally, he seemed to offer me love and understanding whenever I needed it, even when it seemed that no else did. Together, we would go off on great adventures – after school, for hours on the weekends, and all through the summer. That horse represented freedom and offered me a sense of independence and wellbeing. All was right with the world whenever we were together.
Certainly, as I tell my children, with privilege comes responsibility. The privilege of owning a horse brought me joy. The responsibilities just seemed part of the territory… For the most part, I was the one who ordered the feed and fed him and the other horses we boarded twice a day every day. I also cleaned out the stalls as the food the horses ate came out the other end. I was the one who called the vet when my horse needed worming or vaccinations and I scheduled the farrier, too. I remember rising early on cold, winter mornings to carry buckets of hot water out to the melt the frozen water trough before leaving for school. My dad there to help me, of course. For me, it was a magical, memorable way to grow up. And it fostered a strong sense of independence in me.
I appreciated the choice my parents made to buy me that horse, and all the ways I learned to be strong, independent and responsible by caring for him, and certainly found it very hard to say goodbye to him when the time came for my parents to sell him. I don’t think I’ve been the same since. My parents bought me that horse to teach me responsibility and perhaps to give me a sense of independence. After he was gone, that independent streak remained. I knew no other way of being in the world.
Years later, I married. Then I had kids. I’ve raised them to be independent, just like me. Yet is that really the best way to be? Are there other options? Ones I wasn’t aware of as I did my best to care for my horse while I had him and make my way through the teenage years without him? Is it too late to help cultivate a sense of interdependence among my primary family members and to learn to value and seek out the support and nurturing that might result, I now wonder?
Knowing that it would be some time before I was ready to return to work, and also that I would become dependent on others to cook, clean, transport and generally care for me and my kids (and support my husband so he didn’t shoulder the entire burden) for several weeks, I gave thought to the experience of being dependent on someone. I also started ruminating on the concept of interdependence, too.
As I’ve considered these ideas, and the way in which these three qualities serve us in our roles as individuals as well as members of families, work teams and/or a larger community groups, I’ve realized that the ability to cultivate and support a sense of interdependence has more value for me now than being independent does. Does this come with a certain stage in life? Do some people come to this experience more easily than others? I’m curious about your thoughts on this…
It seems that only now am I really beginning to understand and appreciate the value of being interdependent – 0f having a role in and contributing to the wellbeing and harmony of a family, a workplace, a community. Thus, I am coming to believe that it’s not a strong sense of independence that really allows us to succeed. Rather the ability to get along, to reach out of our own bubble in support of one another and to grow together is what seems to foster harmony and wellbeing - in families, workplaces, schools, and larger communities too.
What are the take-aways, for me, of this kind of thinking? Well, I’ve come to realize that hiring a substitute teacher so my students could continue to take classes in my absence was a form of interdependence – supporting others in my absence. Trusting that students will continue to attend classes when I begin to teach again, that there will be people who want to participate regularly, is acknowledging the energy of interdependence. Their commitment to my offerings is what allows me to grow my offerings. I’ve come to see that it’s this sense of interdependence that allows us to take the energy of wellbeing and spread it out into our own communities, ultimately fostering a better world all the way around.
We each have a role in the functioning of the whole. Why not offer the best we’ve got, and begin to look for all the others who are doing that too? Instead of noticing what’s wrong with the world, can we turn it around and appreciate the good?
To me, I’m understanding more and more how, in the end it seems that what we put out there is just what comes back to us? I’m curious if you agree?
If you’ve liked what you’ve read today – or even if you haven't, maybe atleast it has you thinking more about it all…
Please… leave a comment below. I’d love to hear your ideas, even if they differ completely from mine.
It would be good to hear back from you! Thank you, and NAMASTE.
Interdependence: Part Two
From the dictionary:
Independent – self-governing, free from outside control, not depending on another’s authority.
Interdependence – to rely on each other for survival. The dependence of two or more people or things on each other for love, economic support and more. From the Latin word inter which means “among, between” and dependere which means “to hang from, be dependent on.” (vocabulary.com)
While an employer or your parents, a partner, friend or significant other may encourage you to handle tasks independently, they most likely also want to be able to rely on you to contribute to the overall goals and workings of the whole. While I sometimes work as an independent contractor, and am an independent business owner, I rely on the attendance and support of my students to thrive. Thus is the dance – there are steps when we are thinking about ourselves and acting from a place of “what’s best for me” and there are steps that serve to expand the circle a bit to include thoughts about what might benefit the greater good.
Perhaps there’s a time to take certain steps, to move in one direction. Then there are times when we would be wise to change up those steps a bit, reaching out and involving others which could happen by fostering a relationship, building your career, supporting your community or sending good wishes out to the whole wide world. After all, we really are all in this together. Why not do our part to make it good?
In a talk by the Dali Lama in Boulder recently, this revered spiritual leader encouraged us to move beyond war now, and to make the 21st century one that is filled with the energy of love vs. separation. While that can begin with the individual, it gets spread by the masses. Deepak Chopra, in a recent essay, suggested that political frontrunner Donald Trump represents “the shadow side” of our culture – the darkness that hides in the nooks and crannies of both society and the individual. Yes, as hard as it is to admit, there’s some unexplored negativity in just about every one of us, even though we may not be aware of it.
Until we uncover that, and confidently shine light in all the places where ignorance or darkness exists, people like Mr. Trump will surface, Chopra tells us. And I agree. How can we uncover greater amounts of love, offer love unconditionally, and invite love into every moment of every day – as individuals and as a society - if we are holding onto grudges, judging others or are unable to forgive those who trespass against us?
I’m doing my best to shine more light, and I’m learning to appreciate members of my family who, know it or not, challenge me to uncover even more of the hidden darkness that still lingers within me. The darkness casting shadows on some of my thoughts and acts. If we can begin to understand how everything around us is connected – by an energetic world wide web – we can more easily begin to take steps out from our small, individual selves, just as these spiritual leaders suggest. There is a way to shine more light around the planet, and together we can find it. Together we can do it!
It won’t happen if we continue to use or take more than we supply or create. Drawing down our natural resources and continually paving paradise is probably not the way to support long term physical, mental, emotional or spiritual health. Nor can we continue to support a monocrop corporate agricultural system, or any closed culture where even the most independent organisms can hardly survive. Instead, let’s start with a smile. Let’s look for the light in another’s eyes and say thank you to those whose gestures soften our day. Acknowledge the good that exists within one another while letting the good that exists within you more brightly shine too.
Yes, to me it seems that the move toward fostering a greater sense of interdependence among us as a whole begins with us as individuals. But it doesn’t happen alone, independently. It happens as we begin to understand the presence of and connect into that web - a energetic world wide web - that links us all together. This web is the support system for interdependence, which is a mutually beneficial sense of dependence. Each of us has a role to play, and it begins by polishing the windows of our heart, letting more light in so that more can shine out. Won’t you do your part today?
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