Yesterday I had to attend my son’s end-of-year picnic; he was very disappointed last year, when I didn’t. I should have passed again. The 27-degree, 100%-humidity weather made me feel like a steamed dumpling even first thing in the morning, and had given me a raging case of heatstroke by the end of the day. Let’s say it hasn’t been a fun 30-odd hours.
I can have a lot of odd thoughts when physically incapacitated… odd, but generally good. And this time I decided to break out of my rut over the holidays. I usually dread them, because they tend to mess up the regular things I want to do. Maybe giving up some of those regular things will help me enjoy myself more.
Long story short, the Waffle’s regular columns are going away for the summer. There will be bites from DailyOM to keep the mind alert, but all the books, music, food and art can wait for order to reassert itself. If all goes according to plan, regular activity will resume on September 4. Take 45 and enjoy!
Published July 23, 2014
dailyom , Uncategorized
When we feel muddled and unfocused, unsure of which way to turn, we say we are in a fog. Similar to when we are in a fog in nature, we may feel like we can’t see where we’re going or where we’ve come from, and we’re afraid if we move too quickly we might run into something hidden in the mists that seem to surround us. Being in a fog necessarily slows us down by limiting our visibility. The best choice may be to pull over and wait for the murkiness to clear. If we move at all, we must go slowly, feeling our way and keeping our eyes open for shapes emerging from the haze, perhaps relying on the taillights of someone in front of us as we make our way along the road.
By and large, most of us prefer to be able to see where we are going and move steadfastly in that direction, but there are gifts that come from being in a fog. Sometimes it takes an obstacle like fog to get us to stop and be still in the moment, doing nothing. In this moment of involuntary inactivity, we may look within and find that the source of our fogginess is inside us; it could be some emotional issue that needs tending before we can safely go full steam ahead. Being in a fog reminds us that when we cannot see outside ourselves, we can always make progress by looking within. Then again, the fog may simply be teaching us important lessons about how to continue moving forward with extreme caution, harnessing our attention, watching closely for new information, and being ready to stop on a dime.
We cannot predict when a fog will come, nor can we know for certain when it will lift, but we can center ourselves in the haze and wait for guidance. We may find it inside ourselves or in a pair of barely visible taillights just ahead. Whether we follow the lights out of the fog, wait for a gentle breeze to lift it, or allow the sun to burn it away, we can rest certain that one way or another, we will move forward with clarity once again.
Published July 22, 2014
Striking the right balance between our physical and spiritual aspects is one of the most challenging aspects of existence. We are dual beings by nature, spiritual entities bound to earth by physical bodies. In our lifetimes, we are charged with the duty of nurturing and tending both with equal devotion and love. Yet while both aspects of the self are deserving of honor and respect, there is a tendency for people who are more spiritually focused to ignore, avoid, or dismiss their bodies. Similarly, many individuals are entirely ensconced in the carnal realm and pay no attention to the needs of the soul. In both cases, an adjustment is in order. We are whole only to the degree that we embrace both sides of our beings.
If the soul is the inward manifestation of our consciousness, the body is the living, breathing expression of that consciousness. The physical self provides the home in which the spiritual self takes root and flourishes. Just as we must tend to the seed of the soul to ensure that it grows strong, so, too, must we care for the protective shell that is the body to make certain it is capable of playing its role in our development. Though there will no doubt be times in our lives when we feel more comfortable focusing on the spiritual self or the physical self, denying the fundamental importance of one or the other can lead to ill health, emotional distress, and a sense of incompleteness. Both facets of the human experience play a vital role in our well-being.
The body and the soul are the yin and yang of our current reality. They are, at this point of human evolution, irreparably bound together, and many spiritual teachers agree that the body is one of the greatest vehicles through which to access the soul. In fact, many believe that our spirit has chosen to be embodied as an essential part of our spiritual development. Consequently, it is the responsibility of each person on the planet to forge a marriage between the two, so that these disparate aspects bring out the best in each other, creating a vibrant, dynamic, and workable whole.
Published July 21, 2014
As children, most of us were encouraged to dance on a regular basis, freely and openly, in whatever way felt best. A few of us may have retained or regained our ability to engage in dancing unselfconsciously, but by the time we reach adulthood, many of us have stopped dancing altogether. We may have hang-ups about our bodies, or we may fear being judged. Then again, we may simply have fallen out of the habit for so long that we don’t even realize we never dance anymore. Whatever the case, there’s no time like now to rediscover the healing pleasure of moving your body to music—alone, as part of a couple, or in a group. Opportunities to dance abound, once you start looking for them.
If you haven’t danced in a long time and feel too self-conscious to start in a public situation, find some time alone to reintroduce yourself to the joy of listening and responding to music with your body. Turn the lights down low and remember that it’s much more fun when you’re not thinking about what you look like. It won’t take long before your body remembers how much it loves to move. Feel the music in your soul, feel the vibrations healing your body. Treat the time like a meditation session in which you agree to allow yourself to fully inhabit your amazing body.
If you feel awkward, remember that every culture since time immemorial has celebrated life and the body with dance. All people carry the memory of dance in their blood and bones. In other words, you were born to do this, it is in you already; all you have to do is start moving. If you prefer more interaction, take a class one night a week. In most cities, you can find everything from modern dance to African dance to ballroom and salsa. Whatever you choose, you won’t regret choosing to rediscover your birthright—the healing, joyful thrill of dancing.
Published July 20, 2014
The urges that drive us to compete with others tend to be straightforward. Years of both evolution and societal influences have shaped us to pit ourselves against our peers. The needs and desires that inspire us to compete with ourselves, however, are entirely personal and thus far more complex. A need to outdo our earlier efforts, to confirm that we have grown as individuals, can motivate us to reach new heights of accomplishment. We are capable of using our past achievements as a foundation from which we venture confidently into the unknown. Yet if this drive to compete with our former selves is the result of low self-worth or a need to prove ourselves to others, even glowing successes can feel disheartening. Examining why we compete with ourselves enables us to positively identify those contests that will enrich our existence.
There are many reasons we strive to outdo ourselves. When we are ambitious in our quest for growth, we are driven to set and meet our own expectations. We do not look to external experiences of winning and losing to define our sense of self-worth. Rather, we are our own judges and coaches, monitoring our progress and gauging how successful we have become. Though we seek the thrill of accomplishment tirelessly, we do so out of a legitimate need to improve the world or to pave the way for those who will follow in our footsteps. Be careful, though, that your competitiveness is not the result of an unconscious need to show others that you are capable of meeting and then exceeding their standards.
Consider, too, that successful efforts that would be deemed more than good enough when evaluated from an external perspective may not satisfy our inner judge, who can drive us ruthlessly. In order to attain balance, we have to learn the art of patience even as we strive to achieve our highest vision of who we are. When we feel drained, tense, or unhappy as we pursue our goals, it may be that we are pushing ourselves for the wrong reasons. Our enthusiasm for our endeavors will return as soon as we recall that authentic evolution is a matter not of winning but of taking pride in our progress at any pace.