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Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life
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Living Your Yoga book discussion > Living Your Yoga part one--first 4 chapters

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Meryl Landau (meryldavidslandau) | 804 comments Mod
Hi all:

I hope you are enjoying Living Your Yoga so far. I am a big fan of the notion that the real purpose of on-the-mat practice is how it influences the rest of your day, which is why this book resonates with me.

Here are some prompts to get the discussion going on the first few chapters of part 1. I'll post on the next few chapters separately (too long!). Jump in even if you've read only some or one of these chapters, since there aren't any spoilers in this book. As always, these prompts are just to start some discussion; feel free to ignore what you don't like (or all of them, for that matter) and add whatever resonates with you that I skipped. If you want to answer just one or two questions, that's fine.

Do come back to the discussion after you post so we can have some delicious back-and-forth.

1) Chapter 1--Seeking: Judith Lasater begins by describing an incident where she felt incredibly angry and thought that indicated a failing of her spiritual practice. Have you ever had a similar thought? If so, when? What resolution did you come to?

2) Do you believe, as Judith states, that suffering is different from pain? And that "constant attention, remembering that each moment is holy" is how you shift from one to the other? How hard is that to actually do?

3) Did you try her "abiding practice" of relaxing and saying a mantra for daily living? If so, which mantra from her list was most meaningful to you?

4) Judith makes the point that sometimes the qualities that draw you to a yoga teacher are ones you want to cultivate in yourself (she advises considering the ways that quality is already within you). This reminds me of the extreme case, Suzanne Morrison's adoration of Indra (for those who read Yoga Bitch last month). Can you think of times you've done this yourself?

5) Chapter 2--Discipline: Judith comes to the conclusion that yoga practice is "discipline in action," that staying present when she drives kids to school, stands in line, play bills, etc are as much yoga practice as doing asanas. Do you agree? How do you integrate this type of yoga in your day?

6) Judith originally judged a woman who meditated only five minutes a day. Do you think it's possible to get something from such a brief meditation? How long do you aim your formal meditation practice (if you have one) to be, and how often are you able to do it?

7) Judith's exercise here is to commit to something you have always wanted to do and stick with it for 15 minutes a day, for one month. Are you trying this? If so, what are you doing and how much are you enjoying it? If you're not enjoying it, do you think there's value in sticking with it for the whole month?

8) One of her other practice suggestions is to begin each activity, such as driving or speaking at a meeting, with a long, slow breath. Have you tried this? Has it made a difference?

9) Chapter 3--Letting go: Here Judith describes detachment as the other part, along with practice, integral to quieting the mind. What do you think detachment really is, and how is it different from disinterest?

10) Can you think of a chaotic or emotional moment in your life when you were able to detach? How/why did that help you? Are you able to do this regularly?

11) Judith describes her paradoxical understanding that when she wants to detach from something, allowing herself to fully feel her attachment to it helps a lot. Why might this work? Have you tried it?

12) One practice suggestion that I suspect resonates with many of us is noticing when we have a strong desire to be right, and trying not to give your opinion in that situation. Is this hard for you? Try it next time and report back on your experience.

13) Chapter 4--Self-judgment: This is a big issue for many spiritual seekers. Do you find yourself judging yourself in a yoga class when you can't do a pose "right"? How might you soothe that away?

14) Think of the last time you judged yourself the way Judith did when she couldn't load the fax paper into the machine. Why do you think we are so quick to latch on to these negative beliefs about ourselves?

15) Did you try her practice of picking a difficult yoga pose and watching how you talk to yourself as you struggle through it?

16) Another practice is to not criticize yourself or anyone else for one hour. I strongly suggest giving this one a try, as it's amazing how quickly the mind rushes to judgement of self and others. After you do this, report back on your experience.

Namaste!
Meryl Davids Landau


message 2: by Amy (last edited Nov 05, 2011 11:33AM) (new)

Amy Greenblatt I love Judith Lasater's teachings and find this book to be even better for me the second time around. 3) I like the mantra "I am my own authority" right now and also am finding the chapter on faith meaningful. It's the quality in me that is more veiled than the others and possibly worth cultivating for the peace and comfort it might provide. Five minutes of daily meditation is better than none....


message 3: by Julie (new)

Julie (julie1014) | 195 comments 3) Of course, I am unable to see Judith's mantras (I didn't get the book,) but there is one "mantra" that I try to remember daily:

"We may not be in control of life's circumstances, but how we react is up to us."

I don't think a day goes by when this mantra doesn't enter my head, and helps me push onward. :)

Amy, I agree with your use of the word "quality." If I can have a meaningful 5 minutes of quality meditation in one day, that would be better than 20 minutes of meditating on "what if" scenarios, which I have a bad habit of doing throughout the day, lol!


Robin Smith | 42 comments #2: Yes, suffering is very different from pain, and it is always so easy to see it in others :). Change is inevitable, and the change can be positive or negative. And change is stress, even good changes. But our reaction to it can make it so much worse. I try to remind myself that I have absolutely no control over others' behavior, the weather, the world financial crisis, or a host of other things. But I have complete and total control over how I respond to them.


Robin Smith | 42 comments #7: What a great reminder. Just the other day I was telling my son that there are so many things that I keep having as goals . . . but never getting to. He said that the tyranny of the immediate always gets in the way. We get the phone answered, the email replied to, and the gas tank filled up. But we don't get the foreign language learned, the homemade natural deoderant and shampoo experimented with, or the phone call to the old friend made. I WILL do something important to me for 15 minutes/day. That seems like such a small amount of time, like, why even bother? What can I get done in 15 minutes? But it's more than I'm doing now, and consistency is THE KEY.


Robin Smith | 42 comments #8: Yes, at least some of the time I do remember to slow down and breathe. It's usually something on the other side that reminds me, though. Over and over again I find that "haste makes waste". You're in such a hurry to get out the door that you forget the paperwork, or you're rushing to make dinner and spill the salsa everywhere and spend 7 minutes cleaning it up. Stop. Breathe. Center. That saves more time (by FAR) than it takes.


Robin Smith | 42 comments #16: THIS IS SO HARD! I recently had my eyes opened to how much of my internal dialogue is critical. I have learned to control my tongue fairly well, but my spirit hasn't quite learned the lesson yet. I can't get through more than about 5 minutes yet, let alone an entire hour, without my inner voice passing judgment. A teacher once told me that we are always interpreting (judging) others' behavior, so we should try to place the best possible interpretation on whatever we see. When I remember to do that, I'm so much happier.


Robin Smith | 42 comments #4: I think this can be so profound. Yes, I believe we are often drawn to teachers who have qualities we like about ourselves, and the converse is also true: we don't enjoy teachers who have our same weaknesses. I think this is also true with poses. We don't like poses that challenge parts of our bodies that we don't like, and we enjoy poses that emphasize parts of our body that we're at peace with.


Robin Smith | 42 comments #12: Of COURSE it is hard for me lol. It is for most of us. But someone once pointed out to me that if you sit quietly long enough, often someone else will share your point, and this is true. I think of it is the ether or the cosmos or whatever word you want to put there speaking for you. If you detach from the need to speak insistently and to make a certain point, someone or something often steps into that place. Maybe another person will make the point, or the one you're arguing with will sit back (if you don't send all these vibes across the table that he/she is defending him/herself against) and say, "Well, on the other hand, maybe we could look at it this way . . .". If you don't press a point, then no one has to press back against it, and the point is made BETTER when you don't say it sometimes.

But as you can see from my posts, I can be a talkaholic, so consider the source lol :).


message 10: by Julie (new)

Julie (julie1014) | 195 comments Jenn wrote: "Julie thanks for sharing that mantra that is beyond perfect for me! I tend to be a spaz about a lot of things which is what turned me to yoga in the first place :)

13) Being somewhat new to the pr..."


Jenn, doesn't it seem like we are hardest and most judgemental of ourselves?!

Robin, I have enjoyed reading all of your responses! I particularly enjoyed your response to question #2. I also believe there is a difference between pain and suffering. For some reason, in my mind, I find suffering worse than pain. For example, I felt great pain while my mom was dying. My heart was aching. But, she was the one who was suffering until her last breath. I know that was a drastic way of comparing the words, but I wanted to put them in some type of context of what they mean to me.

I also agree, Robin, with how you answered question #4. To me, I believe we have a tendency to migrate toward like-minded people. It's more "comfortable." A yoga teacher who we are not as comfortable with, might push us outside of our comfort zone. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. :)


Meryl Landau (meryldavidslandau) | 804 comments Mod
Robin, lots of great insights! Thanks. I am dedicating this week to #16; I waffle between being very accepting of others and being critical. This week I will work to limit that criticism as much as possible.

Julie says: "We may not be in control of life's circumstances, but how we react is up to us." I want to share one of my best stories about this because I think it speaks to this so well. Perspective is definitely everything, in terms of how we relate to things. A few years ago a friend called me up to tell me that she had been driving on the road the day before and this car, which was not in the left turning lane like she was, suddenly cut over and made a left turn in front of her. She told me she was steaming mad and cursing out the driver, until the driver turned her head--and it turned out to be me! She said the minute she realized that driver was a friend of hers all the steam immediately left her. Suddenly she was giving me the benefit of the doubt, thinking I must have realized at the last minute that I needed to go somewhere I forgot about (which was true!) and that it was no big deal that I cut her off because there wasn't an accident or anything.

That story really hit home to me how fast our anger can leave us when we change our thinking. (In fact, it made such a big impression I included this line of thought about a driver in my novel!) Anytime now that I think something negative about something someone did I try to ask myself, if that person was my best friend, how might I view this situation differently. It works wonders!

Meryl Davids Landau


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

1) Chapter 1--Seeking: Judith Lasater begins by describing an incident where she felt incredibly angry and thought that indicated a failing of her spiritual practice. Have you ever had a similar thought? If so, when? What resolution did you come to?

LOL. When do I NOT have such thoughts? I fail regularly, every day. My resolution is instead of beating myself up about it, I reframe it as practice. And every day is an opportunity to practice, and to have a new start. I also celebrate the little victories- e.g. If I caught myself before saying something stupid, when the day before I might have just said it. :-)


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

3) Did you try her "abiding practice" of relaxing and saying a mantra for daily living? If so, which mantra from her list was most meaningful to you?

I said the mantra during my morning meditation: "My life is a work in progress."

This one resonated with me i think because a friend and I used to have a saying that applied to almost anything: "you're excited, you're fabulous, and it's just practice!"


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

5) Chapter 2--Discipline: Judith comes to the conclusion that yoga practice is "discipline in action," that staying present when she drives kids to school, stands in line, play bills, etc are as much yoga practice as doing asanas. Do you agree? How do you integrate this type of yoga in your day?

Yes, i agree. This chapter was huge for me. I'm one of those always busy people who never really feels content unless I can cross something off a to do list, and I'm very disciplined! But Judiths chapter solidified my understanding of why I'm still unhappy-- I'm disciplined about all the wrong things. LOL! I do get a kick out of being disciplined, so reframing living my yoga in this light makes it easier for me to prioritize and make the right choices, without feeling like I'm betraying my natural strengths / instincts.


message 15: by [deleted user] (new)

6) Judith originally judged a woman who meditated only five minutes a day. Do you think it's possible to get something from such a brief meditation? How long do you aim your formal meditation practice (if you have one) to be, and how often are you able to do it?

Another really good one. I meditate every morning and evening for 15 minutes, and yes I absolutely get something out of it. (in fact, I really feel it if I stop!). Her chapter also reminded me that I don't have to carve out huge chunks of time to make progress. As a result, I've stopped trying to use my entire weekends to write my book, and instead have been doing just 15-30 minutes every day. I feel more creative and less resentful, and I do feel as though I'm making more progress now than I was before!


message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

8) One of her other practice suggestions is to begin each activity, such as driving or speaking at a meeting, with a long, slow breath. Have you tried this? Has it made a difference?

Yes, I've tried this at home and at work, and that little pause and burst of oxygen really does feel like it helps calm me in difficult situations. The only trick is remembering to do it in the moment!


Meryl Landau (meryldavidslandau) | 804 comments Mod
Robin wrote: "#8: Yes, at least some of the time I do remember to slow down and breathe. It's usually something on the other side that reminds me, though. Over and over again I find that "haste makes waste". ..."

Isn't that the truth! That pause, to breathe and center, would be great to do before doing absolutely everything! Yet how to remember to do it?

I do pause before answering my phone, and I have a personal trick of using the birds chirping out in my yard (they are big, and periodically noisy) as my signal to stop and deeply inhale. But I do need a way to work more reminders into the things I do most often. Maybe I am going to try pausing before I write each email. That should have me pausing a thousand times throughout the day, LOL!

Meryl Davids Landau


Meryl Landau (meryldavidslandau) | 804 comments Mod
Jen wrote: "1) Chapter 1--Seeking: Judith Lasater begins by describing an incident where she felt incredibly angry and thought that indicated a failing of her spiritual practice. Have you ever had a similar th..."

Ok, I have had yet another opportunity to practice living my yoga this week. The universe is definitely throwing these opportunities my way big time! A yoga center in my town, where I have a pass for a few more classes, announced two weeks ago that it was going out of business, and that Nov 11 would be their last day. I was at their class last Tues night, and the teacher said, "see you all next week for our last class." Last night I drove over there (this center is a half hour drive from my house) and it was already shut down, with a sign in the window announcing the new store that was coming soon. For a second, I felt a surge of anger that neither the teacher nor the studio owner had sent a message that they had changed their plans. Then I remembered our book! I laughed when I realized that I had the choice how to respond to this, and also how to respond to my initial burst of anger. I decided to embrace it all. (Then I decided to drive over to the beach, which is a block from the center, but the parking lot was closed and under construction so I couldn't get over there--but that's another story. LOL.)

I think it's only human to feel anger or disappointment when something happens, and that it doesn't make us "less spiritual" because we have those reactions. The question is, how long do you let that feeling fester. I was pleased that in my case it was only a few seconds.

Now someone please tell the universe to stop testing me! (See my stories on the first post in the next three chapters for other things that have happened these last few days.) :)


message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

Robin wrote: "#16: THIS IS SO HARD! I recently had my eyes opened to how much of my internal dialogue is critical. I have learned to control my tongue fairly well, but my spirit hasn't quite learned the lesson yet. I can't get through more than about 5 minutes yet, let alone an entire hour, without my inner voice passing judgment. A teacher once told me that we are always interpreting (judging) others' behavior, so we should try to place the best possible interpretation on whatever we see. When I remember to do that, I'm so much happier. "

There was some story I heard not too long ago about "the baby in the back seat". The story went that a woman was driving erratically, cutting people off and doing all sorts of crazy things. Naturally other drivers were annoyed, honking and getting all upset. Turns out her baby, who was in the car seat in the back, was choking on something, and she was trying to drive and assess the situation at the same time. (OK, maybe not the best solution, but it lends more understandability to her behavior.) During commutes especially, I find it challenging -- my husband also gets riled up easily -- and I find it helps to come up with less harsh reasons as to why people might be doing what they're doing, and give them the benefit of the doubt.


message 20: by Julie (new)

Julie (julie1014) | 195 comments Jen, I can appreciate your post. I am very mindful of trying not to judge others. It can be difficult, but I always try to remember that I don't know the whole situation, and I'm not in their shoes. It reminds me of a woman at work who was perpetually late, moving slowly, and falling asleep on her lunch breaks. People would label her as lazy, uncaring, etc. Come to find out, she was privately battling a potential life-threatening illness, and was on medicines that made her drowsy. She could not afford to financially miss work.


Meryl Landau (meryldavidslandau) | 804 comments Mod
Julie wrote: "It reminds me of a woman at work who was perpetually late, moving slowly, and falling asleep on her lunch breaks. People would label her as lazy, uncaring, etc. Come to find out, she was privately battling a potential life-threatening illness, and was on medicines that made her drowsy...."

Such a great story, and a perfect reminder that when we're judging others, we never do so knowing the whole story.

Meryl


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