Posts Tagged With: Clarity

Words of Wisdom (Part 4): Aurelius


Deemed the “philosopher king,” 2nd century emperor of Rome Marcus Aurelius is one of the most well recognized stoic philosophers to date. In his most famous work Meditations, Aurelius explored through verses written to himself the deeper levels of one’s individuality, purpose, and benevolence. When we think of Roman emperors we usually think of decadent megalomaniacs, dramatic assassinations, or Russell Crowe fighting off tigers and the corruption of Joaquin Phoenix. Marcus Aurelius however spent much of his time studying and writing. As one of the last “good emperors” of Rome before its inevitable collapse, he maintained stability, peace, and freedom of expression of the people. His words written millennium ago are still cited in commencement speeches, yearbooks, intro to philosophy courses, and right here on his page.

SJC Wellness Top Five Quotes by Marcus Aurelius:

#5: “When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”
#4: “He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.”
#3: “Regain your senses, call yourself back, and once again wake up. Now that you realize that only dreams were troubling you, view this ‘reality’ as you view your dreams.”
#2: “Humans have come into being for the sake of each other, so either teach them, or learn to bear them.”
#1: “Look within, for within is the wellspring of virtue, which will not cease from flowing, if you do not cease from digging.”

Categories: Green Room, Spirit | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The Power of Our Words

Where do your words come from when you speak? Could they be of a place inside yourself? “Today I feel funny. Funny all over.” Could they originate from an external source? “YOLO.” Perhaps both? “I can’t even begin to describe the literally insane feeling of the funny I feel.” The specific words, discourse, tone and so forth may be adopted from all sorts of places to form what you are saying; but, there is something else, something much more personal behind everything said.

The deeply personal aspect behind everything said may not be what is said specifically. For example, the question: “Do you want some of this macaroni salad?” is not too personal. Rather what is personal is found behind your choice to say something, anything. You made a choice to communicate from a unique process found within yourself. From the root developmental essence of our survival we have each individually utilized the shared capability to learn to communicate. We all do it a bit differently using our own experiences, references, biological structure, environment and on it goes. But we all do it. And we can connect to it. And we can connect through it. And with this individually developed personalized mechanism vesseled by our own construct of choices within the sea of a collective with shared responses and recourse we can communicate.  To have such a personal stake in such a universal space – well that is the power of our words.

2014 was full of tumult and change. Simply turn on the news channel or flip open a newspaper. There is a lot of “stuff” going on due to what I postulate as a series of unfortunate events (shout-out to Lemony Snicket fans) coupled by a series of a lack in understanding. Understanding is more than knowing what is right and wrong intellectually. It consists of a multifaceted combination of the mind, the body, the spirit, and the environment. Understanding others requires a frame of reference, something to base off of or to hold in contrast. Understanding others requires that we understand ourselves.

Let us then approach 2015 in a way to uncover greater understanding. Let us together explore, discover, rediscover, and dive deeper into those pools of understanding.

Below is a great example of an individual, by the name of Shane Koyczan, communicating through the power of our words.

Video source: Words Aloud

Post Script: I tend to go into and focus on a lot of challenging topics. Sometimes my descriptions and word choices get a bit funky in these abstract concepts. Feel free to comment in the comment section if you would like me to explain something further or to provide a more clear picture of what it is I am saying . I also encourage feedback, reflections, corrections, and requests for topics for future posts! So get commenting!

Categories: Green Room, Spirit | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Yoga Philosophy: Yoga Sutra-s I.3

Yoga Sutra I.3

tadā draṣṭu svarūpe avasthānam = then the ability to understand
the object fully and correctly is apparent

  • tadā  – then; point in time
  • draṣṭu – the Seer; the internal observer
  • svarūpe  – essential nature; one’s own form
  • avasthānam – established; state of experience, state of consciousness

Sun EyeSutra I.2 discusses that yoga is the ability to direct the mind in a chosen location for a sustained period of time. When this happens we reach Sutra I.3. At that point, the Seer is established in its own form and there is clarity. Thus, this sutra speaks of:

The 2 results of Yoga

1. Established in the nature of the Seer
2. Now we have clarity with the outside world

This sutra indicates the process of self-understanding, self-acknowledgment, and clarity. The result of yoga is clarity. Accurate perception happens when we are in a state of yoga. Why? Because the influence of the mind is reduced and the Seer is increased. The nature of the Seer, the Eye, is to see clearly.

This is the first time we see the word “Seer” so naturally we must ask, what is the Seer? According to this sutra, the Seer is “That which Sees”. This is akin to what the West would call God, what the Buddhists would call Pure Nothingness, and what others would call Light or Pure Energy. These 3 together make up the Seer; pure Consciousness, the Observer, Self-generating Light. All of these indicate what our true essence actually is.

Therefore, by being able to direct the mind through concentration (Sutra I.2), we are able to reach our true nature, the Seer, and therefore we are able to see everyone and everything from a place of clarity without the usual coloring that we tend to add to our experiences. These subjective colors are added to our experiences because we are not connected to this deeper place inside of us on a daily basis.

Experiential Reflections

Some questions to inquire further on this Sutra:

  • What does clarity mean to me?
  • What are the moments that I have clarity? How do I know?
  • What are the moments that I don’t have clarity? How do I know?
  • What does the Seer mean to me?
  • How do I know when I’m connected to the Seer? What does my life look like at these times?
  • How do I know when I’m not connected to the Seer? What does my life look like at these times?
  • Do I even want to be established in the Nature of the Seer and have clarity with the outside world? What would this mean for my life as a whole? What changes would I have to make? Am I willing to make them?

Sutra I.4 to follow…

Photo By: Ivan Mikhaylov

Categories: Relaxation Space, Yoga & Meditation | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on Patience

Zen & PatiencePatience has been defined as “the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble, or suffering without getting angry or upset”. Sounds simple? Well not when we realize we have been throwing tantrums since we were infants! With such a long withstanding pattern, how does one break out of this?

Let’s take a closer look at the nature of patience:

From a psychological perspective, impatience is mainly a person’s inability to withstand a certain irritating emotion. The less you can stand irritation and emotional pressure the more impatient you will become. Patience is studied as a “decision-making” problem, involving the choice of either a small reward in the short-term, or a more valuable reward in the long-term. Studies have shown that when given a choice, all animals (humans included) are inclined to favor the short-term rewards over long-term rewards. This is despite the often greater benefits associated with the long-term rewards.

What does this say about us? Well, one aspect this highlights is that even though we may rationally and logically know something as a “truth”, there is something very strong inside of us that overrides this – emotions like anger, irritability, shame, blame, discontent and so on.  These emotions are so uncomfortable that we need them to go away as fast as possible, thus this need to act immediately arises in an attempt to dissipate these very raw, uncomfortable and negative feelings in the form of impatience.

Through experience we can begin to see a pattern emerging – this quality of impatience does not solve the actual issue but rather provides temporary relief of that moment until we get to the next moment. We can foresee then how many more moments will come our way riddled with feelings we want to get rid of. So I ask, do we get rid of these uncomfortable emotions or do we seek to understand them further by staying in them and exploring them deeper?

From a mindfulness perspective, patience is the ever-present alternative to the mind’s continual restlessness. In the words of Jon Kabat-Zinn,

“Scratch the surface of impatience and what you will find lying beneath it, subtly or not so subtly, is anger. It’s the strong energy of not wanting things to be the way they are and blaming someone (often yourself) or something for it. From the perspective of patience, things happen because other things happen. Nothing is separate and isolated”.

Since the surface is anger, what then lies beneath it? This is different for everyone and it is only through self-exploration that clarity on this can arise.

Practical applications to cultivate clarity and patience:

So, why bother cultivating patience? Well, to put it simply, to understand ourselves and the world around us better. With patience, our relationship with ourselves and others improve. Here are some mental exercises to cultivate the quality of patience:

  • Awareness:  Realize those moments where you are uncomfortable. Notice where you are, who you are with, what your feeling, thinking and the tendency in yourself to become impatient. What action do you feel like taking in that moment? Approach yourself with curiosity and see what is actually happening in these moments inside of you. By focusing on what’s actually happening inside you, you begin to notice the dismay, not wanting what’s happening, the resistance.
  • Reflection: What was your initial reaction to these uncomfortable feelings? What action did you take and why? What was said/done or not said/done by both yourself and others? What does this all mean about the layers of your feelings? Take your time with this and write it down. This will give you a chance to clarify and process.
  • Acceptance: Without self-judgment and without trying to change anything, sit with your real thoughts and feelings and stay in this uncomfortable and authentic place. Give yourself the chance to experience pain and suffering till the point of acceptance.  Suffering has its purpose and can point us to the inward direction of finding real solutions rather than temporary relief.
  • Action: Now that you have explored the depth of impatience and have widened your perspective, ask yourself what possible actions are called for now and why? Make a decision from a more calm and grounded place where your emotions and thoughts have had a chance to integrate.

 “Do you have the patience to wait till your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?”  Lao-Tzu, Tao-te-Ching

Photo By: h.koppdelaney    License: Creative Commons

Categories: Green Room, Mind | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

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