December 30, 2016

Yogi Training Part V – Integration & Renewal

It is hard to believe that we are at the end of our yoga training. The past four months have gone by so fast. We have learned so much, yet we have just scratched the surface of the depth of knowledge that is out there. The training has shown us the vastness of the discipline of yoga.

As the training wraps up we have come to our final theme, Integration and Renewal which includes Breathe for Forgiveness, Breathe for Fun, and Breathe for Inspiration.

Forgiving and Loving Kindness

We all know the importance of forgiveness. It has been taught to us since we were little kids. When we hurt someone we were told to say “I’m sorry” and when others did harm to us, we are told that we should forgive them.

This may sound easy in theory but it is so much harder to do in practice. Our emotions hold strong and when we are hurt, it makes us feel better to continue to blame, hold grudges, and remain spiteful of others. However, holding onto these feelings is like drinking poison and expecting it to harm the other person. In the end it is only toxic to ourselves.

In training we discussed a lot about forgiving others but also about finding forgiveness for ourselves. In both cases, it is more about being kind and holding compassion for one another than forgetting about the fact that we were harmed.

Forgiveness is not an easy thing to do but like anything in life, through regular practice, we can get better at it. I recently saw a great clip of Desmond Tutu and Dahli Lama’s conversation on forgiveness. They too define forgiveness as the act of personal development and learning how to control of one’s anger.

One strategy for practicing forgiveness is through a Loving Kindness meditation. It is a simple meditation where you begin by focusing on those that you love and care deeply for such as your partner, family, and close friends. As you reflect on these people, you wish them well, send them positive thoughts, and love.

Next you shift your focus to those that you feel indifferent about, maybe people in your community that you see regularly but don’t actually know like a bank teller or grocery store clerk. Again, you wish them well and send them positive thoughts.

Lastly, you bring your focus to those that may struggle to connect with or have had adversity with. The goal is to transfer the feelings of positivity that you had for the first two groups of people to this group. If you can allow yourself to truly wish these people well you will eventually find a place of peace within yourself and let go of harboring feelings of negativity towards others.

That’s Snow Fun

Like many Wisconsin winters there will be snow and sometimes so much that it interferes with the regularly scheduled program. For us, the snow day came on our Breathe for Fun day.

Although we didn’t get a chance to connect with our Breath For Change friends, Mary and I made the most of our time stuck at home. We decided to sleep in and catch up on some well needed rest. After shoveling out the drive we made sure to stay committed to our morning yoga practice.

The rest of the day we did early prep for the new year by rearranging our main living space, clearing out old clutter, and organizing. Although this may not seem like much fun, we were very excited by the feeling of freshness and openness that the newly organized physical space created for our inner space.

If you are looking for a great read on the art of decluttering, I suggest that you check out Zen Habit’s article on The Ultimate Guide to Conquering your Clutter. Leo Barauta shares about the benefits of having a clutter free space and provides insightful methods on where to start the process of decluttering.

We ended our day with an amazing home cooked meal, sharing a glass of red wine, and then watched a movie. We chose Edward Scissorhands and as we curled up on the couch we could still see outside the snow softly floating down just like in the movie.

Yoga, Life, & Integration

Learning is an ongoing process about making sense of the world and how it works. We often view learning as a task of memorizing information but it is so much more. It can also be said that learning comes from trying new things, refining old methods, making mistakes, or approaching the world through the mindset of creativity, curiosity, and experimentation.

School has trained us to overemphasize the beginning phase of learning and to focus on the mastery of data and regurgitation. As a result we overlook the importance of integrating what we have learned.

Integration is so important because we take what has been learned and relate the knowledge with our current experiences. It is about reflecting and connecting our understanding with our daily lives and without integration we are incomplete.

There are many aspects to integrating what is learned from yoga into our daily lives. The practice of meditation helps prepare ourselves mentally and emotionally for the personal and social challenges we face. Practicing yoga poses helps to prepare our body for the day to meet physical demands.

I have discovered that integration is so much more than simply connecting what I have learned to my experience. It is also about taking time and creating space to allow for integration itself. In our modern world we are so concerned with getting to the next thing that we do not take time let go and just be. In these moments, integration happens by becoming present and aware of the here and now.

It took me years to realize this but now I understand the purpose of the savasana, or corpse pose. Often I used to skip it because it seemed boring or unproductive. However, I now understand that it is intended to be a time to just be, notice how I feel, and accept what is by becoming part of the experience of life.


Yogi Training Part I – A Day in the Life

Yogi Training Part II – Transformation of Self

Yogi Training Part III – Transformation of Relationships

Yogi Training Part IV – Transformation of Community

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