John Aguilar, Jr, MSTCM, LAc, Dipl Ac & CH

Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page

Ancient Chinese Saying: Jus’ Keep It Real, Yo’!

In Mind & Meditation on February 22, 2011 at 12:44 pm

A NY Times article, brought to my attention by Tamara Hutchins, discusses some research done about the effect of either repressing negative emotions or forcing positive ones (1).

As you could probably guess by title of this post, fakin’ it, it turns out, just doesn’t work. And, I’d bet, most everyone already knows this.

I mean, we don’t really enjoy forcing a happy mood when we’re bummed, and, if we take a close look, a really close, introspective look, we actually kind of want to be in a bad mood, when we’re in a bad mood. Not that we enjoy it, but it just feels… more appropriate? It’s hard to put words to it, but it simply feels better to experience whatever mood you happen to be experiencing.

This, of course, is right in line with classical Chinese medical thinking. I like to think of the basic moods as like other, basic, bodily functions. We don’t like to hold it in, when we have to use the bathroom, and if forced, say for a doctor’s appointment, it’s quite difficult and uncomfortable.

Emotions are similar. In Chinese medicine, where mind and body are on equal ground, both understood as merely different avenues for expression of the underlying person, specific emotions are seen as reactions to stimuli, just as goose bumps are to a chilly gust of wind.

Negative emotions may be negative, but they’re not bad. They’re basic responses, fundamental ways of experiencing and expressing events in life.

Now, obviously, there are exceptions. Just as with any physical symptom, if a bad mood begins to dominate one’s life, take control and start altering behavior, then it needs serious attention, but, even then, it needs attention, not suppression.

And, level II Chinese medicine, if you sit and give attention to bad moods, instead of ignoring, repressing, or replacing them, they can be a boon of insight into life.

This is most easily seen with frustration and anger. Those are primal responses to overcome something that’s wrong in life. They are the righteous assertion of your deepest self where it’s being inhibited or blocked. We need that type of energy to overcome obstacles. It has an important place in healthy living.

When emotions are repressed, as was pointed out in the article, they just get worse. You can think of them as being like a warning light in your car; ignore it at your own risk.

In Chinese medicine, the experience of a wide range of emotions is a sign of healthy functioning of the being. It’s only when that free expression is prohibited that the emotion, truly, turns ugly and becomes actually destructive in life. (In a way, they’re just doing their job, fulfilling their role in your life and health – If you ignore a warning, that warning really should get louder and bigger.)

I love it when this wisdom makes it to the popular press! :)

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1. O’Connor, A. The Claim: A Fake Smile Can be Bad for Your Health. NY Times, Feb. 22, 2011. Retrieved from www.nytimes.com/2011/02/22/health/22really.html.

Yoga, Tai chi, and Meditation Classes

In General, Tai Chi, Yoga on February 21, 2011 at 11:27 am

Come March, it is on!

As of Tuesday, March 1st, I will be offering (almost) daily yoga classes, and regular Tai chi and meditation classes.

My yoga classes are based on the Kripalu tradition, where (self-) awareness is paramount, yet is influenced by my Taoist and Shaolin studies and training, as well, so expect some strength training blended in. ;)

The Tai chi classes will focus on the Yang family style, emphasizing the health aspects of this profound martial art. All Tai chi classes will begin with yoga postures and breathing as warm up, followed by Tai chi training.

The meditation classes will be based on classical yoga, with the powers of focus and concentration being trained, mixed with my Taoist studies of seeking the Source.

The schedule will be as follows:

Tuesdays
Yoga: 5-6:30pm
Tai chi: 6:30-8pm

Wednesdays
Yoga: 6-7:30pm
Meditation: 7:30-8:30pm

Thursdays
Yoga: 5-6:30pm
Tai chi: 6:30-8pm

Fridays
Yoga: 6-7:30pm

Saturdays
Yoga: 8:30-10am
Tai chi: 10-11:30am

Sundays
Yoga: 5-6:30pm
Meditation: 6:30-7:30pm

Fee Schedule
$15 per class (package of 10 classes for $100 is available)
Free for current patients

All classes will be small, emphasizing closer interaction between student and teacher.

In order to prepare, I ask for advance notice of your expected attendance (day of for evening classes, day prior for morning classes).

Please see DenverChineseMedicine.com for full details, including info about Tai chi and yoga.

Please email me or call, 720-284-1374, with any questions.

To your health, happiness, and peace! ;)

The Energetics of Ethics, Part II

In Mind & Meditation, Yoga on February 13, 2011 at 4:03 pm

In the first part, we talked about how there is a basic, instinctive, negative reaction to violence and lying. I suggested that, maybe, the near-universal list of moral conduct, such as don’t lie, cheat, steal, etc., is actually based on fundamental human nature. That is, by instinct, by basic, innate nature, most would avoid doing those things.

I also linked the “violation” of this innate code with internal energetic blockages. When we break one of the rules, we feel it; we just feel bad, different and separate from rationally judging ourselves for having gone against some objective “right” action.

This bad feeling is a response to injury, just as cringing when we stub a toe. The injury caused by some immoral act is an internal obstruction of energy. I, personally, describe the feeling as a “kink”, or a wrinkle, one that I know, if I want to get rid of the feeling, I will have to iron out at some point (and, thus, I hate causing wrinkles).

In traditional yoga – a complete, fully comprehensive system of health and healing – the moral code is contained within the yamas and niyamas (technically, “abstentions” and “observances”). I believe they are part of a system of health and self-realization because of the importance of adherence to basic nature.

Health is a reflection of the body and being acting as they are designed to. Physiologically, health is the free flow of prana (something like energy, qi, in Chinese medicine). Where that flow is diminished or obstructed, disease ensues. As immoral acts obstruct that flow, they are unhealthy.

Hence, yoga incorporates the yamas and niyamas in the same way and for the same reason it includes postures and breathing practices. And classical yoga actually defines the “Eight Limbs” of yoga, which includes those practices, as well as the higher practices of meditation.

There’s an interesting twist we can put on things, here. As the yamas are the first of the eight limbs, and ahimsa, non-violence, is the first yama, it is suggested that that is the most important yogic practice (according to “Classical” yoga, as laid down by the sage Patanjali, in the highest written authority on yoga, the the Yoga Sutras.)

In following, practicing non-violence sets the foundation for the higher practices of postures and the highest of meditation. That is, the spiritual aspirant would avoid harming others (and self) just as they would practice the physical postures. It’s all considered yoga.

The twist, when understanding morals as basic to good health, is that any movement towards better health will result in more moral conduct. You can actually gauge progress, or state, based on the spontaneous actions of an individual. The person that just, naturally, is more kind and honest is, most likely, in better health.

This may seem a bit odd, but, again, when we realize that such conduct is a natural expression of the human being acting freely, according to their inner nature, i.e., when they are healthy, it becomes quite obvious.

Try another mental exercise. Imagine someone who lies a lot, maybe someone you’ve met, or maybe you have to visualize them. Think about watching them, or, if you can, walk in their shoes for a bit… How does it feel?

Pretty icky, if you ask me. They simple aren’t happy. The lies and deceit are a direct reflection of their unhappiness in life. There may be some very superficial and very temporary moments of feeling okay, tied to the the avoidance of pain implicit in deceit, but they are deeply unhappy people.

Now think of people that tend towards violence. Again, these people aren’t at peace. There’s fear, chronic anxiety or worry. The immoral conduct is an expression of their internal “off-ness”.

Now, think of the genuinely kind people. They just seem… healthier! There’s more flow, more glow. It’s, clearly, a better place.

And when you are forced to lie about something, you most likely feel bad about it. It may actually make you sick to your stomach, at least until you can apologize and “make it right”.

There is so clearly a connection between health and righteous actions. Yoga just made a point of putting it all together.

To take this one step further, and perhaps a bit more controversial… Think about the effects of past “bad” things you’ve done. Again, not things that you (or another) has judged as wrong, but the actually bad things you’ve done.

Are they still there? Are those things still with you? Do you still feel bad?… and the rough question – Have you actually buried some of those thoughts and feelings because they were so gross feeling and so persistent, you had to cover them up, forget them, or “move on”?

The therapeutic action of yoga, as well as acupuncture, is the opening up of obstructions. That is how they achieve their affect. Internal organ function is regulated by adjusting the flow of qi or prana through the system.

Where lies and theft block energy, they block that activity and cause harm; the system is derailed from proper functioning. It is very much like a wrinkle that needs to be addressed to be removed or, as is stated in the Chinese medical classics, like a stain that needs scrubbing or a knot that needs untying. That work is exactly what yoga and acupuncture are doing.

This simple unveiling of mind-body interconnectedness also reveals how psychotherapy can be so powerful. Speaking out loud about, opening up those repressed guilty feelings is – literally - opening up the flow of healthy energy through the body. You can feel it!

In more pure “religion”, versus philosophy, spirituality, or healing systems (a difficult differentiation to make, some times), there is the idea of “confessing” “sins” and the relief, release, and forgiveness that follows. At its core, is this any different than what we’re talking about in yoga, acupuncture, or psychotherapy?

It’s an interesting line of thought. There truly seems to be a fundamental, forgive the term, truth underlying all these various approaches.

In my studies of Taoism, specifically Complete Reality Taoism, it is said that the single most important concept or practice, above all exercises, meditative techniques, herbs, chants, etc. is sincerity. Simple sincerity. In all your thoughts and actions be sincere… so simple, but so, so powerful… Honesty, forthrightness, first with yourself, and with others.

Being true to yourself, to your inner nature, is the clearest path to health, happiness, and, apparently, enlightenment! What a fun journey! :)

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The Energetics of Ethics

In Mind & Meditation, Yoga on February 12, 2011 at 7:46 pm

There are some basic “rules” to life that most agree on, such as not hurting others, not lying, not stealing, and so on. In yoga, these are referred to as the yamas and niyamas.

Here, I’d like to take a slightly different angle on the how and why these are important. Specifically, I want to talk about why they’re important for health, on a very deep, energetic level.

Let’s take one that is foremost in the yoga tradition, ahimsa, non-violence.

I’d kinda like to pretend, for a moment, that we have no pre-existing ideas or beliefs about what’s right or wrong. It’s important, here, to suspend any mental conceptions about right/wrong, good/bad. Let’s drop it all and go with direct experience, immediate feeling without interference of thought or judgment.

Now, imagine you’re walking down the street, just taking a stroll, enjoying the warm weather and looking around at the gently swaying trees. You hear the screeching sound of tires, look up, and see two cars collide in the intersection – Stop – How do you feel? What’s that immediate reaction, inside?

Now, different day, imagine, you’re sitting at the coffeehouse, enjoying some peppermint tea. You get up to go to the bathroom and you accidentally bump into another person. You turn just in time to see their hot coffee splash all over them and the look of pain contort their face – What’s that immediate gut reaction you have? How does it feel?

For a twist, let’s say you just got yourself a nice, hot cup of coffee when someone scoots their chair right into you and you spill your coffee all over yourself. Immediately following the explosion of pain, is a flaring of anger. You yell at them and they shrink back in guilt – How do you feel?

In all of these, you were witness to violence of some sort. Without any thought or rational analysis of how you “should” feel, what’s the right or wrong way to feel, there was most likely a visceral reaction. Can you identify it? What’s the most basic, primal reaction, to seeing, or being part of, violence?

To help tease out what’s happening inside of you, we can look to another basic rule of life – to not tell a lie.

This can be difficult to work with, since, let’s be honest ;) , a lot of people lie a lot. We’ve become sort of accustomed to whatever visceral reaction we may have to it simply because we’re forced to do it a lot.

But stop and think. Imagine you’re talking to a good friend. You actually lost that CD you borrowed, but it’s been a long day, and you really don’t want to have to deal with their reaction, so you tell them you just forgot it at home.

In that moment, that instant, how do you feel inside? Without any thought, what’s the feel?

In my opinion, (and, as you probably know, my opinion is highly biased towards interpreting everything in relation to health) these rules that seem to crop up in so many religions aren’t so much about avoiding any kind of punishment, or even to help everybody just get along (though, those may be nice side benefits :) ).

To me, it’s about health. And, from health, enjoyment of every, any, thing else. These rules help you find and enjoy better health.

How? Well, that takes us back to your visceral reaction to violence and lying. Even if you can’t fully identify how it feels, I bet it just feels bad. It feels off. You kind of get that instinctive cringing feel.

I, personally, describe the feeling as getting a “kink” in you somewhere. Something kind of shuts down, or locks off. Lying creates a little blockage in you, somewhere. Being exposed to violence kind of locks up some of your energy.

Take a second and explore for yourself. There seems to be a kind of shutting off, shutting down… a kinking of energy.

Both in Chinese medicine, as well as yoga, health is based on the free flow of energy (to greatly simplify things). Organ function is dependent on not only physical energy to run, but the guidance that comes from that energy (qi, in Chinese medicine, prana, in yoga). Any disturbance in the flow of energy results in diminished function of the system. Over time, actual symptoms arise.

This all makes the most sense in traditional yoga, as it explicitly discusses morals, physical exercise, and health all in the same breath and links them all together.

In the traditional “Eight Limbs” of yoga, the moral code comes before the postures. That is, they are, arguably, more important, fundamental to the system and goals of yoga. You could argue that it’s pointless to clear the energy channels, through postures and breathing, if you’re just going to kink ‘em up by lying, cheating, and stealing.

Seriously, just imagine a great yoga class (or any physical exercise, if you don’t do yoga). Imagine how you feel after – free, open, relaxed, peaceful. Now, imagine seeing that car accident, or lying to your best friend…

It really jacks-up that good feeling, doesn’t it? At the very least, you have to do some rationalization to fend off or minimize that icky feeling.

So these things, to me, aren’t about following the rules, or doing what you’re “supposed” to do (I like that saying, “Don’t should on me”).

It’s about good health, which is, of course, the only way to really, fully enjoy life. Good health is the vehicle by which all other “good” things are experienced. It’s the one thing that acts as the funnel through which all worthwhile things are experienced – or blocked, diminished, or prohibited, depending on how well things are going…

So forget doing what’s “right”. Do what your body, your very being, just knows what’s best.

We’re designed to be healthy. As long as we don’t get in the way, health is what will happen. Perhaps all these philosophies and religions espousing these lists of do’s and don’ts are simply trying to guide us to act according to our own, true nature?… Hmm…

;)

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Up the Awesome of Your Weekends

In Yoga on February 12, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Maximize your weekends by beginning and ending ‘em right!

Now offering two yoga classes Saturday morning

8:30 to 10am and 10 to 11:30am

and, then,

Sunday, 5 to 6:30pm.

FREE for current patients
$10 drop in

Love life just a little more. ;)

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The Hidden Benefit of Exercise, Part II

In General on February 8, 2011 at 5:42 pm

After writing the post on the rarely spoken of benefit of exercise that is the occurrence of spontaneous epiphanies into life, I feel it needs to be added the prime, central role of this benefit in health, overall.

So often, in the modern world, and especially in modern medicine, the idea of health revolves around the idea of absence of major health complaints. At best, health seems to be having nothing, really, to complain about.

You go to your doctor for a cough, get medications, or not. Either way, once the cough is gone, you are said to have “returned to health”. You could go back to your doctor, but you no longer have anything to report to her; the cough is gone.

Even if you still have that vague feeling of being sick, it’s unlikely your MD could actually diagnose anything, thus leaving them unable to do anything more than make those gross physical symptoms go away.

Though many would likely be hard pressed to put to words what, exactly, it is that makes health bigger than mere absence of disease, there truly seems to be something.

I like to think of that difficult-to-define piece being awareness, and active pursuit, of your life’s meaning and, importantly, that subtle joy and sublime peace that comes with that feeling.

Health is not just feeling good enough to return to work, but the active manifesting of who you are.

I don’t believe “medicine” ends with making you feel better after an injury or illness. Once you’re “better”, then what? Truly, medicine, as it seems to be defined in modern times, is all emergency medicine. We seek “treatment” only when we’re so sick we are forced to.

Then, once we’re better, that is, back to the state we were at prior to the onset of new and bigger symptoms, we go back to our day-to-day life.

That is the point I would like to bring into focus, here. What is happening in that moment? What is that day-to-day life all about? Do you have awareness of your deepest skills and abilities – your gift to this world? And is your life the developing and putting into use those skills, that gift?

If not, that is the cause of disease, all disease. Every illness you will ever experience is born in your innate potential failing to be tapped into, failing to be brought up and out.

This may seem like an odd idea, but think about it. You are you. Everything about you is designed for you, so you can be you. That is the whole, and only, point of you – to be you.

If you are not you, if you are not active in learning about you and fully manifesting that you-ness, then you aren’t functioning according to design. You’re, by definition, not working properly. How could you possibly be healthy in such a condition???

It seems we can “get away with” not fully and truly being ourselves, for certain amounts of time, anyway, until we get sick. At that point, we have an opportunity to address the things that are off, the things that aren’t right in life and allowed us to be stopped from continuing our daily activities.

If we simply get rid of the symptoms – the warning signs that things are off – and, then, just get back to life as it was, without opening up awareness of the larger context, the larger meaning of life, if we continue with the fundamental dysfunction that is ignorance of self and ultimately directionless activity in life, then we may just break down again.

I argue that health is the presence of peace and joy found only with true connection with yourself and the resulting genuinely purposeful activity in life.

Exercise, then, being fundamental to good, real health, aids directly in attaining the above. It not only keeps physical disease away, and eases stress, but good exercise actually facilitates that inner awareness and righteous direction in life.

In a way, it just makes sense. Of course, truly feeling good means having a sense of who we are in our hearts, and doing what we love, what speaks to us, on a daily basis.

And when we don’t have those things, life just isn’t quite right, something’s off. When we don’t have those things, we could be doing better, feeling better… of course

I’m just, here, stating the obvious. ;)

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The Hidden Benefit of Exercise

In Mind & Meditation, Yoga on February 7, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Everyone knows they should exercise, and they know, for the most part, why it’s so good for them.

There are some benefits, however, that I have yet to see anywhere in popular press. It may sound a little odd, but proper exercise leads to spontaneous insight into life and self. If your exercise regimen is truly healthy for you, mysteries of life and existence will reveal themselves. No joke. ;)

One reason that may sound odd is due to the fact that exercise, in the Western world, is heavily touted as a physical event. That, plus the subconscious belief that mind and body are two different things, perhaps, with some connection, leaves us with the idea that exercise may release stress, but cognitive or emotional benefits pretty much end there.

Well, in the ancient studies of yoga and Chinese medicine, mind and body are understood, simply, as varying expressions of a common source reality. They are are much more like different qualities , such as the temperature and smoothness of skin, than two different things, like two different body parts.

This is most clear when it comes to the traditional understanding of exercise. For example, the yoga postures, as well as chanting, and breathing practices, were used as tools to calm the mind, with improvement in physical health a mere side effect. The goal was self-realization, not to lose weight (you simply lost weight on the way to enlightenment :)).

The same is true in the Chinese arts, such as qi gong (aka “chi kung”). Visualization, varying points of focus within the body, and constant presence of mind (“Focus, Daniel-son!”) are as much a part of the “exercise” as whatever the physical body is doing. The “goal” of qi gong is primarily mental and emotional, with physical benefits traditionally considered secondary.

“How”, or “why”, mysteries reveal themselves is obvious, from the physiological perspective of yoga and qi gong. As energy runs through the body, directing, guiding, and fueling all of the body’s various processes, so, to, does it run through the mental sphere, as thoughts, memories, emotions, and feelings. Energy is one, but can be experienced in different ways – physical or mental/emotional. (Really, it almost seems obvious, when you think about it…)

“Awareness”, then, that is, becoming conscious of something previously obscured is just like increasing circulation to tissues and parts of the body previously undernourished. One is the correlate of the other.

When you move energy to remove obstruction (the core premise behind the healing properties of yoga and Chinese medicine), you are opening not only physical blockages, but mental/emotional ones, as well. That opening of mental blockages is the very act of gaining insight.

It’s important to point out that these insights are, by definition, spontaneous. They, literally, just come to you.

That is to say, you don’t “figure things out” by “thinking” about them, while exercising. You exercise, with full concentration on the exercise, and these little epiphanies start popping in your head like popcorn.

Which leads to the other important point – You have to be paying attention to hear these insights. In traditional yoga and qi gong, your concentration was more important than the specifics of the physical aspects of the exercise. Just as the mind is affected in good exercise, it is prominent in doing the exercise. In truth, you’re understood as primarily training the mind.

For those who exercise while listening to music, watching TV, or doing anything else not only miss training the mind, but all the deeper benefits that exercise can bring. (The difficulty in stopping the habit of needing mental distraction while exercising indicates the need for such training of the mind that healthy exercise incorporates…)

For more on the benefits of exercise, as well as key indicators that your exercise regimen, no matter what it consists of, is healthy, see the exercise section of my website.

Here’s to your health! :D

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Body-Mind???

In Mind & Meditation, Yoga on February 5, 2011 at 9:56 am

The connection between the body and the mind has received a lot of attention lately. Some are even going as far as claiming something much greater than a mere connection, that they are merely reflections of the same underlying reality, two sides of the same coin. But what does this mean, exactly? What’s actually being said, here?

This being a blog, I will only come at this from one angle and only touch on it briefly, but I think there’s a simple change in perception one could make to shed light on this mind-body concept.

First, let’s root out the source, the common thread to mind and body. Let me ask you this – What does everything you will ever see, ever do, ever experience have in common? If you traveled to every country, read every book, saw every movie, what one thing would remain the same?

It’s you, of course. No matter what you do or see, you are doing and seeing it.

Now, what or who do we mean when we say “you”? Think about yourself ten or twenty years ago. Are you any different? Do you look different? Do you think about things differently? Have you learned and changed over the years?

Some people would say they’ve changed drastically, perhaps they have grown up a lot. Maybe they’ve had life altering experiences that forever changed who they are.

So, then, if there’s the you, right now, looking back, and there’s the you of back then – two yous – there is, obviously, a third, the one seeing the two. Who’s seeing you, now, and comparing it to the you of yesteryear?

My point is there is a you, the one that is observing all these things, places, events, even changes of yourself over time, that is separate from all those things. We’ll call it the “witness” you, the observer you.

Importantly, this witness is not defined by character and personality traits. That was made evident by the fact that those things can change, quite drastically even, and, yet, there is still some you that didn’t change, that persisted through all the transformations (because had the witness changed along with those things, there would be no thread, no ability to recollect those changes. Only because they happened to you, can you remember them – that you is the witness).

We could even go a step farther, and maybe weirder, and talk about the you in your dreams. Talk about a completely different reality! You can fly, know, see, and do things that the waking you could only dream of! :) And, yet, there is still that witness to all of that. All that change, all that variation, yet through all of it this witness is present.

So we have this you, this witness. This is the common theme to mind and body. This witness experiences, but is not limited to either of these other things. Obviously, if you were to lose a limb, you’re still you. You are not your hand.

You’re not your mind, either. If you were your mind, you wouldn’t be able to sit and observe how crazy it can get. Whenever you notice yourself getting really upset, you are noticing yourself getting upset – There’s the you, witness, observing another aspect of self getting upset – the witness and the mind.

You are not the thinking mind, either. If you were, you wouldn’t notice when you start thinking crazy things, but you can. You can catch yourself coming to weird conclusions through poor thinking. You notice when you’re not making any sense – Witness you notices.

Now, you may confuse yourself for your body or mind. You may think you are this witty, handsome young gentleman, but you’re not. Sorry. You’re simply witnessing “witty, handsome young gentleman” (or, perhaps, dreaming ;) ). Such confusion is a topic for another post, however…

So we have this witness that is neither body, nor mind, but is, instead, this other observer. Once you realize this, the whole connection between mind and body may start to make more sense (now, who’s noticing it make sense? Sorry, getting carried away ;) )

Where the mind and body change over time, grow longer hair, get smarter, etc., the witness doesn’t. It’s like the center of a wheel; it’s stationary, while the wheel cycles around and around.

Now, I’m gonna switch terms, here, so stick with me. This witness you is consciousness, itself. It is the act of being aware of things.

Any time you experience anything, there is that aspect that is doing the experiencing and is not that which is experienced. You are reading this; there is that aspect that allows for you to read.

Maybe it helps to think of consciousness as a portal, an opening, through which you are able to perceive things. I know, we usually get really caught up in what’s seen. I’m trying to pull your attention to the act of seeing, itself.

As with the witness you, it is that which does not change, ever.

The body and the mind are two expressions of consciousness. One is more dense and concrete, the other much less so. One is more tangible, you can grab your leg, the other is a bit more elusive.

They are both vehicles for experience, and they both can affect you. A bruised elbow hurts just as a sad movie makes you cry. You are moved by both.

This is how, in one small way, they are the same. They are both carriers of sensation, of experience, for this other you.

Clearly, they are different, but, really, they are just two different approaches to doing the same thing. There’s a huge difference between my little Honda Civic and a high-end Mercedes-Benz, yet they are the same in that they are both cars, very different, but the same nonetheless.

Once we detach a little from the mind and body, realize they are not us, simply closely connected to us, we can see how easy it is for the two to affect each other. If I’m swinging a rope in one hand and a stick in the other, they may be different, but both react and respond to me (and, perhaps, affect me, should I get sloppy and whack myself in the head).

What you eat and drink will affect your mind, even though food is physical and is digested by the physical body, because the physical body is connected to consciousness. Mind and body are expressions of consciousness, so anything that affects it, will be reflected in both.

You could say the mind and the body are repositories for your experiences. They are both vehicles, avenues through which you experience sensation, as well as the physical and mental/emotional storehouses.

Have a physical trauma, and the body “holds onto it” for awhile, until it “heals”, all physical evidence vanishing. Have an emotional upset and the mind can be changed by it, just as trauma changes the physical body, until the mind heals from it.

As repositories, the mind and body can hold on to experiences. And here’s where health and yoga come into play. The holding onto, effected by mind and body, limit and obstruct having further experiences and the degree to which you can experience them.

Ideally, the mind and body are like a movie screen. They can effectively convey all the experience of life, a movie, yet, when it’s over, they hold on to none of it, they remain clean.

Another analogy would be like a computer screen which relays information from the computer to you. However, at least with the older computers, the images the screen shows can get burnt into the screen, leaving a shadow or ghost of it. This ghost, this latent image, obstructs your view of new information coming from the computer.

This is exactly what causes disease. Some experience did not pass through completely and cleanly. Mentally, old thoughts and feelings inhibit our ability to experience new emotions completely. The old distorts the experience of the new.

Physically, it’s much easier to see. Any old injury clearly limits your physical ability to do new things.

Health is opening up, cleaning out these old, latent impressions, these old experiences, and this is exactly what good yoga does (and why it’s so much better than typical exercise). It is designed, specifically, to clean out the mind and body. That good feeling you have after is simply a more perfect experience of reality, one less obscured by those blockages.

Over time, after enough clean up work, you can experience life like a child, everything new and exciting, finding tremendous joy in even the most simple things.

And because mind and body are one, you also experience improved physical health along the way.

Pretty sweet, huh?

Speaking of yoga, I must get to this class to go work with these students in “cleaning” ourselves so we may experience life more genuinely, perfectly, and beautifully… :)

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Visit DenverChineseMedicine.com
Learn more about yoga classes with me
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Expanded Yoga Schedule

In Yoga on February 4, 2011 at 5:24 pm

Come experience the full integration of physical exercise, meditation, and spiritual development.

Move the body to calm and focus the mind, draining tension in both realms, while opening up awareness of self and life.

*** New Schedule!

Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays: 6 – 7:30pm
Saturdays: 10 – 11:30am
Sundays: 5 – 6:30pm

FREE for current patients
$10 drop-in for others

Learn more about yoga and these classes, specifically.

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