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Staying healthy, happy and wise

Written by Cynthia Smith-Faught. Posted in Featured, Health & Wellness

Published on June 20, 2012 with No Comments

Discipline develops reward

Need a quick fix for your stress? Would you like to just take a pill to feel serene and peace for the rest of your life? This is what our culture and society has taught us to expect when we need something. This is not the yogic way, however. 

I have been practicing the art of meditation and yoga for almost 20 years and I still need to practice every day. I have seen an ad for the quick fix of how to meditate like a monk and this makes me laugh. If you want to meditate like a monk you become a monk, simple as that. I have had the tremendous opportunity to spend time meditating with monks and nuns of which I am very grateful for. I even love the contemplative life many of them live; I will often go to a monastery or convent to retreat for a few days to experience my deeper rhythms.  But I live in the secular world with a very busy life with secular challenges, and I experience many gifts that monks and nuns do not have, like grandchildren, a great joy to me.

We subscribe to the quick fixes in this culture because we see false positive results. Many marketing schemes will show people in settings that lure us into the lair of illusion; you can have the illusion if you only take this or buy that. The fact remains that if we want the benefit and reward of yoga and meditation we must practice, practice, and practice some more.

Yoga and meditation are disciplines and require work. Once in a while a student will tell me how calm I am to them. I tell them this is very affirming and encourages me. But I would not be this way if I did not practice every day.  And not only do I practice every day, but in some form or another I practice all day. Even with all of that said, on occasion, I can still find myself slipping into old patterns of response and reaction.

Meditation and yoga are a way of life for me and it is not always easy, especially since in previous years I had no resemblance of this practice in my life. Now, I do believe it has always been within me, as I believe it lives within us all.  I also believe we all have a unique, innate rhythm tied to nature and the universe that does not necessarily resemble our outward appearance. But this is what our practice opens us up to. It reveals the golden nuggets of our existence and our light and love unconditional.

In its present state, our culture and everyday world cannot handle all that light and love, so we wear masks and cloaks to disguise our true beauty. And this is appropriate, since not everyone has our best intention. We do not want to be subject to harm or negativity. So cloaks are important armor for survival.

Do you want to feel peace and calm? Do you want to be able to call it up when needed? Do you want to be able to navigate through the world of energy (positive and negative) with confidence and vision? Do you want to have greater flexibility inside and out? Do you want to be able to manage your emotions and your mind? Then meditation and yoga are for you. But in order to experience these things consistently, you will need to practice every day. My practice is no longer second nature, it is first nature. It took many years to get here but the journey is well worth the time, patience and perseverance.

I recently watched a robin build her nest above the spot outside on the deck where I practice my yoga.  At first, her attempts to balance her meager pieces of straw and grass seemed fruitless. The wind would rise and the pieces that she flew to distant yards to find and place so carefully would fall to the deck. My heart went out to her. She continued to fly back and forth with sparse pieces from different directions and I witnessed what seemed to be a flimsy attempt of nest building. When I returned later that evening and looked up to where she was building, I smiled with joy to see her efforts build a beautiful and sturdy nest. Now I watch her tend to her eggs and soon-to-be young.

As in nature so in ourselves we learn that if we want the results of a golden egg we must take a lesson from the robin and have patience and perseverance. Our practice may seem effortless at times but when we continue the rewards come.

Our practice this month: Challenge yourself to make your practice a daily habit.

  • Take baby steps and start your challenge with a few easy poses* for a couple of minutes and then take a minute or two to meditate**.  Do this every day for three days, then work up to five days and so on until your practice becomes a habit.  It is said that if you do anything for 21 days it becomes a habit; but remember that if you stop for a few days, it can be hard to get back into your routine.  Ultimately, a true habit is formed at around three years.
  • Try to make your practice for around the same time each day. If you cannot that’s ok, just do it any time. You will eventually enjoy the practice and its benefits in a way that you will want to carve out specific time and space for it.

* Poses that you can easily practice every day, such as the child pose, downward facing dog or cat-cow. You can review archives of this column for details on these poses or look online for how to do them properly and safely.

** Meditation.  Just sit with no agenda and watch your thoughts unfold, then releasing them on your breath.

Enjoy!  Peace and namaste

This column is a guide only for the general population. Not all practice is good for everybody.  Please consult with your health practitioner before engaging in physical movement and positions. Having a physical presence with a teacher is always best but these instructions can offer a guide to the basic practice of yoga and the poses.

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About Cynthia Smith-Faught

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All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Cynthia Smith-Faught is a certified yoga instructor. She teaches adult classes and workshops through the Portage Parks Dept. She also teaches at the Bonner Senior Center in Portage. To contact Cynthia Smith-Faught email her at editorial@thechroniclenwi.com.

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