Yoga is Free!

Like its sister mindfulness practice meditation, yoga also has, to some extent, become an elitist practice that makes the uninitiated feel uncomfortable and excluded through profuse use of Sanskrit without adequate translation, expensive accessories, and the removal (disconnection) of spirituality or even personal transcendence for the less spiritually inclined from its teachings. Continue reading

Heartfulness

heart

The concept of mindfulness has become popularized in recent years as a result of the work of many teachers, writers, and practitioners. And I am very grateful! Being more aware of who we are and what we do, living in the moment, and being intentional about our thoughts and actions are all integral to leading a meaningful and purposeful life.

But it isn’t enough. Without a full and open heart to center and connect our mind to something greater than ourselves, whether it be communal or spiritual or both, the practice of mindfulness can become esoteric, and sometimes egocentric.

I don’t think many mindfulness practitioners would disagree with me. At least I hope not. Indeed, the way mindfulness is typically taught and practiced, at least in my experience, promotes the fluid integration of mind, body, and spirit.

But something about the term mindfulness seems deficient to me. It begs for a companion to demonstrate that the mind alone does not fully represent our human experience.

Heartfulness is a complementary concept that builds on the idea of mindfulness. It focuses not on the thinking and feeling of mindfulness, but on being and doing instead. It is a process through which we can create resilient hearts, leading to more peace and love in the world. Heartful means to be full of curiosity, acceptance, understanding, responsiveness, forgiveness, and hope. It is to be our most beautiful selves despite the challenges and turmoil we face. When we practice heartfulness, we don’t need to think about being intentional because we consistently connect with and express the pure love in our hearts. It is to be who we are meant to be, a continual expression of our deepest desires and dreams.

Unintentionally Insensitive

Not too long ago while at lunch with friends, one of them remarked about an insensitive comment made by a mutual acquaintance. Having committed similar infractions more times than I care to admit in my own life, I felt the need to defend her. “Sometimes we say things that we don’t mean,” I pleaded her, and my, case. Yes, but as I was reminded, some people say the wrong thing more often than others — and then don’t think twice about it afterward.

When I arrived home from work today, tired due to allergies or perhaps some as of yet unexplained medical condition, I noticed something odd on my front porch. I looked closer and noticed that it was covered with little tiny ants. Having just killed a huge ant that zipped from one end of my desk to the other earlier in the day, callous human that I am, perhaps I overreacted. I used my shoe to swish off what my gut told me was a piece of candy.

And just as I did that, I realized that I just kicked a robin’s egg that had fallen from the nest on the stoop above. The nest which seems to be doomed; the one from which I have buried baby birds the past two years. The fluid-filled shell and about 20 ants were carelessly tossed aside by my imperial foot. I immediately experienced a deep sense of regret, then remorse. Even though I am not one of those regularly insensitive people, I felt as through I had violated the sacred agreement between woman and the earth on which she roams.

I can’t offer you a pleasant resolution to this story, because I have not yet discovered that for myself. But I have been reminded to be more present, more intentional, and more caring at every moment. Especially when I am feeling tired.