This is a nationwide call to action.
This is a plan that we must all begin to develop within our own lives and then spread it across the world in an effort to create a wave of drastic and necessary change.
Are you prepared for this?
It’s going to be
WITH THESE 5 SIMPLE STEPS
You will have all of the tools at your fingertips to begin to cultivate the kind of change that you want to see in the world around you.
It will be a organic and homegrown kind of CHANGE that you can:
And, the best part is that…
It’s ABSOLUTELY FREE!!!
Without further ado, here are:
5 Things You Can do to BE the Change You Want to See in the World Around You:
In yoga we take breathing pretty seriously. In fact, we believe that breathing is an art central to the core of our very being. When I first stepped onto a mat for the first time back in November, I thought the same thing that you are probably thinking right now:
What a hippie, simple, one-love mentality!
The world is too serious to consider breathing as a viable answer to anything.
Scoff if you will, but bear with me for a second.
The sanskrit word for the extension of breath is called pranayama, and the way we focus on it in yoga and the importance of getting it under control becomes central to holding difficult poses. By controlling our breath, we are able to slow down our mind enough to find the peace and calm we desperately need while releasing the stress and tension we tend to carry with us day in and day out from our jobs, the roles we play, and our obligations.
Furthermore, when we take the practice of mindful pranayama off our our mat and into the world, it becomes a way of managing the inevitable stresses life throws our way; it becomes central to maintaining a sense of balance and self-control.
When practiced faithfully, pranayama is a release of the tension you hold inside of you and letting it go. With a deep inhale you mindfully breathe in the new, filling all of your empty spaces with the kind of freshness that, over time, transforms you from the inside out. On your exhale, you let go of thoughts and feelings that don’t serve you well.
The first time I stepped onto yoga a mat, I was a little weirded out about the thought of taking something as benign as breathing – something we naturally do anyway without having to think about it – and turning it into a science.
As a distance runner for the better part of sixteen years, I was used to calculating with precision things like pacing miles and setting PR’s based on specific shoe selections. There were things to consider like pronation and gait, what part of my foot I landed on and how I could increase my pace taking hills at steady pace, but then knocking out the downhills to make up for lost time.
Just like how in running paces are central to beating a race against the clock, in yoga pranayama is central to the way we move our bodies and control our thoughts. In fact, pranayama is so crucial not only to yoga, but to life in general, that I have had more than one instructor say that if all you do in the beginning of a yoga class is to find child’s pose and focus on slow, controlled breathing, you’re doing more than those not focusing on their breath while holding extremely difficult poses.
And, they are right!
There is something amazing – almost magical – about controlling your breath. One Yoga’s Troy Hadeed has entire practices on Gaia Online where he focuses on very slow and controlled flows from pose to pose wherein the main focus is entirely on controlling your breathing without worrying too much about how a pose looks.
His method is pretty simple:
Breathe in for a count of three.
Breathe out for a count of three.
When you breathe in this way, you bring a keen sense of awareness back to your body and to your place within your surroundings. Picture it like putting a bright yellow vehicle boot on your anxiety to deliver a message to your overly-taxed nervous system to slow down because of impending danger. That boot will keep you from exploding your thoughts all over the place in a spastic display that yields little in the way of a reasonable resolution to anything.
Pranayama may be a long word to describe a simple concept often taken for granted…
Practicing pranayama faithfully has the power to calm down your entire nervous system and to improve mental sharpness. It can help to organize within your mind a chaotic life in a chaotic world where chaotic things happen, going so far as to put things into some kind of order that is more capable of producing something useful that the world can actually work with instead of a mess of anger and finger-pointing blasting off in all directions.
2.) Slow Down
My goodness, what the hell are we all doing?
These days we are freaking out over…
If it’s not helicopter parenting our kids, it’s calling the police on parents who don’t follow our ideal rules in the ideal world we cultivate for ourselves.
In reality, an ideal world doesn’t exist for any of us.
And it never will while we walk the face of this Earth.
An ideal world that can meet everyone’s specific needs at the same exact time is a figment of the imagination. It doesn’t and NEVER WILL exist.
The way we parent;
the way we love our spouses;
the gender we choose to shack up with;
the kids we raise and the lessons we teach them;
how sometimes we have it all together and at other times we fail miserably.
All of these things are unique to each individual within each family and each community across the globe, yet, somehow, this truth escapes nearly all of us because we all feel that we need to be seen and heard – to prove ourselves right. And, we will go to great lengths at drastic speeds to make sure we get our well-deserved time in the spotlight to express our points of view.
So, we seek to label ourselves as one type of person or another, giving ourselves symbols to carry and flags to raise. We find little groups to hang out in where we all tend to think the same way and live by the same philosophy, which, sadly, leaves little room for growth and change.
The thing is:
The world is much bigger than you and your ideals.
And, guess what?
NONE of us are doing it right anyway and definitely not at the same time on any given day.
We have no idea what is going on inside of the minivan in front of us at Starbucks that sat for too long after managing a screaming kid while juggling coffees and remembering to ask for napkins.
There is no need to honk and curse the day you got into line behind a person who is having a bad day on a day when you are not.
Slow down for a change.
I can go on for hours and hours about yoga. Seriously, I have a really bad habit some would say: when I fall in love with something new, I draw it completely into myself and integrate it into the fabric of my very being. Yoga has been no exception to that rule.
Just like with yoga, I didn’t own the flashiest gear when I fell in love with running in my early twenties, but I read all I could about it. I joined running groups and picked the brains of people who were more trained in the art of doing all things running much better than I did. I ran alongside seasoned runners for as long as I could keep up in endurance and speed and I probed them to figure out how to up my game. I learned about the wonders of chaffing sticks and choice of underwear; how to get the bacteria out of sports bras to prevent the unsightly onset of bra-rash wrapping beneath my ribs, under my breasts, and across my back.
While I may praise the wonders of yoga and how it nearly saved my life after a serious dip in mood after an injury ended my running career, I am fully aware that the world operates as a separate entity from my brain and my choosing. Not everyone is going to fall in love with the same people and the same habits.
Therefore, while I may choose to take a certain avenue to physical fitness and overall well-being, another person may choose a completely different route to take.
The key to exercise is to do something that you love to do, and then do it a little more each and every day. Not only will it shrink your waistline, it will do wonders for your psyche. You’ll start to calm down a bit, emptying your stress out in the gym, on the road, or on a yoga mat. Then there is that little extra part at the end of the day when you start to feel like a sexy beast purely because of how awesome exercising makes you feel!
When people feel awesome, they usually don’t have to worry about #4 because, let’s face it, awesome people, for the most part, aren’t total assholes.
4.) DON’T BE AN ASSHOLE
I am not perfect by any means, and, while I do try to watch my language around the house, there are times when “shit” slips out, or I drop the rare f-bomb accidentally in moments of severely high stress.
Our kids know that certain words aren’t to be said because only Mommy and Daddy have permission and the occasional pain in the ass big enough to warrant such an offense. Some days just deserve a big fat delivery of “well shit” all over the place. There is no denying that.
Lately, though, there is a word that seems to be thrown around rather frequently in response to all of the fighting and unrest in our own country and across our borders.
A lot of people right now are being total…
There is simply no other word to describe the kind of people who disrupt life and efforts to make things better by expressing their points of view and criteria for living life as though everyone else in the world should adhere to it.
In fact, I have come to the conclusion that me slipping up with a curse word every now and then is a far cry from the actions of assholes who so blatantly expect the entire world to bend to their needs, to follow their same God, or to practice doing life in the same exact way.
The way I see it,
I’m not perfect. I’m far from it. However, with all of my imperfections, I seek to do a little bit better each and every day to not fall into the clutches of assholiness. I do this by controlling my breath, exercising, being mindful of others, doing what I can to offer a healing hand…a smile…a nod…a sign of appreciation. I do this by teaching my children things like love and acceptance, openness to different kinds of people and understanding life beyond the walls of our home and the way we choose to do things within our own family.
In other words:
I’m doing my part to not be an asshole, but also to not raise a future generation of assholes.
5.) BE A GOOD FRIEND
I tend to befriend a lot of people I come across because my criteria for friendship is pretty simple: if you seem like a decent person, I’ll probably enjoy talking with you, even if our morals and values and choice of clothing and the groups we identify with aren’t even remotely the same.
I have had evangelical friends and atheist friends; friends who are democrats and friends who are republicans; straight friends and gay friends; friends with impressive incomes living in impressive homes with impressive cars and friends who get by in a small apartment living paycheck to paycheck while relying on public transportation to get them to their third-shift job.
I could care less what I see on the outside because it is the quality of a person’s character and their heart that matters the most. Things like the color of someone’s skin, their sexual orientation, or how much money they make don’t make a difference. What makes all of the difference in the world is what we find at the heart of friendship: love, acceptance, and the willingness to talk each other back off the ledge when when forget, inevitably from time to time, that we find meaning in life in purpose, not in things. Good friends give us a sense of purpose by being authentic, trustworthy and reliable, but then expecting the same in return.
Out of all of the things I fall in love with in this world, what I love the most are the subset of friends I meet whom I end up holding dear to my heart, and so much so that I want to know all of their stories and how they think about things; I want to know every last inch of their brain and their heart and their soul. Those are the friends whom I cherish for a lifetime because they have this ability to seep into my life and add to it the rich flavor of their own character and personality. And, the more of those two things they have and the more unapologetically authentic they tend to be at their core, the better.
Everyone needs friends, but everyone also needs a few really close friends who know all of their secrets and who are trustworthy with them; friends who remind them to slow down and to breathe; friends who will meet them at 4:30 am to go for a run, or to attend a yoga class when there is that ten pounds they want to lose; friends who remind them to lead life with love and light and hope so that they don’t become habitual assholes.
As much as we would all like to raise our flags and pitchforks, it does more to spit words out with venom instead of love. What we must all realize is that the world is so much bigger than our expectations and our ideals. The world is a complex place full of differences which, at the end of the day and given consideration enough to embrace them, paint the world with a vast array of creativity and color which is necessary for us all to keep evolving with tolerance, understanding, gratitude, and love.
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