I’m quite certain that at some point in your life, like me, in the midst of change, challenge, pain or loss you have uttered the phrase, “I just want to be happy”.
But what is happiness? Clearly life isn’t meant to be “fair” or “easy” and we certainly come into it in very different boats than each other. So what is the point? What are we here for? What I’ve been milling around over the last month is what feels true to me, right now. My intention in writing these posts is not to change anyone’s mind, but simply to share my perspective. I find that having a life philosophy helps me navigate change and make sense of my experience. My hope in sharing is that it might help you.
There have been many versions of truth for me over the decades. I started out in church, left to explore the world, discarded any kind of belief in my 20’s and 30’s in the mire of Corrections, to circle back via science to a spirituality through Yoga that resonates with me. Carl Jung wrote, “We cannot live in the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning; for what in the morning was true will in the evening become a lie”. Truth is fluid and changes as our perspective expands. I am a very different person at 42 than I was at 32, and I hope again to have grown beyond where I am now, tomorrow, next year and if I get the luxury, growing much older…
In my life philosophy, I am here to remember who I am: To remember that I am connected to everything and everyone. To remember that I am not separate from the whole. That whatever I do to myself, affects others, and what I do to others will affect me. In yoga, this is called karma. In science, the Law of Cause and Effect says, “for every effect there is a definite cause, likewise for every cause, there is a definite effect”. Science and Spirituality need not disagree. They are telling the same story, using two different languages. I love to know “why”. The language of science resonates with me. I think that’s why I love the science of yoga so much. It makes sense to me. The words that I have been digging into over the last 5 years are Freedom and Connection. As I have explored yoga science through the lens of both philosophy and psychology it has become clear to me that they are very much tied to what feels like our purpose here…To gain FREEDOM through the realization that we are all CONNECTED.
FREEDOM is happiness to me. I find it in CONNECTION to myself and others.
The ability to be content and come back to center, (not get rocked by life circumstance); whether in challenge/pain or in joy/reward. I prefer to use the term homeostasis versus balance. Balance implies an impossible constant or static state, whereas Homeostasis involves a continuous FLOW. All the systems of our bodies are built on this ability to flow between 2 opposites. How easily we flow between the opposites is RESILIENCE. Resilience grows when we A: become Self-Responsible and B: learn to Self-Regulate. Self-Regulation is a skillset that can be learned through practices that regulate Body, Breath & Mind. Through these practices we can up-regulate or down-regulate the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), to meet the demands of life; whether it be to engage, interact, fight or flee, or calm, rest, digest, relax, heal & reproduce. Much like breathing, that can be either unconscious (you don’t need to think to breathe), or conscious (intentional modification), the ANS can operate with or without our awareness. The problem that arises when it is unconscious is that the evolutionary default of our primitive Limbic Brain is to resort to an automatic unconscious defensive REACTION when we don’t feel safe, (i.e.: fight/flight/freeze). With awareness and intention we as humans can access our higher brain function and choose a RESPONSE. We can literally override the survival FEAR reaction with practice and make ourselves feel SAFE and thrive. When we feel safe, our social engagement system is accessible and we can CONNECT to ourselves, others and nature on deep and meaningful levels that help us to CO-REGULATE the ANS. Yes, we evolved to a place where we are meant to thrive in community with each other! Not only can we Self-Regulate, but we can support each other when connection creates safe spaces for integration of life experience. Whether it is through Self-Regulation, Co-Regulation, or best case BOTH, we expand our Resilience and Freedom to connect, grow and integrate experience, whether challenging or rewarding, into a rich and full life of going beyond survival mode into THRIVING.
THRIVING is what we are meant for at our fullest human capacity.
Going beyond survival requires us to be Self-Responsible. Nothing or nobody outside us has access to the internal landscape within. The Self-Regulation required to grow Resilience requires the ability to Integrate and Stabilize in an environment that feels innately SAFE to the brain. This Self-Regulation requires Exteroception, Propriocepton & Interoception: Practices that build Self-Awareness. Through awareness of stimuli through the senses (Exteroception), the ability to know where the body is in space (Proprioception), and our internal felt sense of ourselves (Interoception) we can regulate the ANS by regulating the Body-Breath-Mind Connection.
Yoga Therapy is the science of Self-Regulation.
If you are self-responsible, want to do the work yourself and learn tools to become more resilient to life challenges; if you want to go beyond the daily survival grind and find the freedom to thrive in connection of your highest human potential, join me in class or book your own private therapy session for:
Stress Resiliency Training (SRT)
Resilience through Self-Responsibility & Self-Regulation of BBME
(Body, Breath, Mind & Environment)
The tools and practices are not difficult, but they do require teamwork, your effort & daily practice. This is not a quick fix. This is a lifestyle and mindset change for those who are ready and wanting to help themselves.
***Look for updated Class Schedule & Session Rates July 1st***