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“But I Can’t Even Do Splits”

December 24, 2011

Ed. Note: This is a great guest post by my new friend, Allie Brooks. Allie went to the University of Mississippi and earned her degree in biomedical anthropology. She is now enforcing her hard work to field studies regarding the effects of biomedicalization of traditional healing practices in Bolivia. Being an inexperienced yoga dude, I appreciate and thank her for this piece. Hopefully you are inspired by the message.

As The New Year Approaches:
Try something new to have fun and get fit

Every December and January, the same talks get discussed; New Year’s Resolutions. You promise yourself to go to the gym, lose weight, don’t eat chocolate, it’s the same ole same ole. Many of times the reasons why these promises do not get fulfilled is because you get bored half way through and even the sight of a gym makes you turn the other way. That is why you need to adopt a program that is fun, relaxing, and intense. This is why yoga is the perfect solution to any resolution. I know I know, you are thinking, “but I can’t even do the splits” that is why yoga is perfect. There are so many forms of yoga that there is one out there for you. Trust me.

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Fine Tuning The Body, Reconnecting With The Mind

December 17, 2011

For the past few months, while my mind may not have been so tuned in on a practice level, I’ve been working quite a bit on my body. I was feeling lethargic, easily beaten down when doing anything physical, basically I was out of shape.

As you read in my recent post “Running Is As Running Does”, or maybe you didn’t, I have been running a bit. That has not been the only physical activity I’ve done. I have been doing a workout program called P90X, I am sure by now you’ve all heard of it. Working out at home is perfect for me, a gym is not a place where I plan to go, not only because I do not fit the mold of the “lift things up and put them down” guys but because most of them are outrageously priced. I was able to get P90X for a very reasonable cost from someone on Craigslist.

At first I thought, this can’t possibly work, it’s just another infomercial scam. I put my initial thoughts about it aside though and gave it my all. The first day, the chest and back workout, kicked my behind. That is putting it lightly, I was sore as hell the next day. I was invigorated though so I went about the second day, the plyometrics workout. Plyometrics, or jump training, is to the wall cardio style. Not only are you jumping, you are running in place, etc. Needless to say, the next day not only was my chest and back still sore, but my legs were wasted.

I am just about at the end of the 90 days and I have to say this, I have never, EVER, been in good physical condition as I am now. 15 or so years ago, I did have a workout partner and we went to a gym, but I never felt this good. At age 37 it’s quite impressive, to me at least.

Lately, I’ve finally been able to make some time to start up a sitting practice again. Because of the fitness, I feel like my sessions are stronger than they were before. My form is a little better and my mind feels in tune with my body because of that. My breathing, because of all the cardio and relentless exercise, has become more refined and is easier to follow.

I am really starting to understand the mind/ body connection, I guess I never really gave it much thought before. It is extremely important to this practice. Once again, I have come back to the beginning of all of this practice stuff. Each time, I come back to it with a fresh approach. This time, it feels a bit more organic, and things are a bit more in tune. I hope you enjoy this post.

Book Review: The Buddha Walks Into A Bar

December 15, 2011

“The Buddha Walks Into A Bar: A Guide To Life For A New Generation”
Written by Lodro Rinzler
Published by Shambhala Publications

Lodro Rinzler joins the ranks of other GenX American practitioners/ teachers such as Ethan Nichtern, Brad Warner, Noah Levine and more, to get into the writing world. While not breaking any new ground, Lodro explains things in a very practical and down to earth style. Coming from a specific tradition, Vajrayana in the Shambhala lineage, there is of course helpful hints and tips based on those teachings.

Lodro introduces some witty anectdotes that reflect circumstances from his life. One particular story I enjoyed was one where he was at Karme Choling and an incident occurred where some workers there had some tension. The outcome was not some profound wisdom on his part, but was the wisdom of a fellow retreatant that he witnessed and learned from. Lodro tells the reader how to recognize events in everyday life as lessons. From the simplest of things, there are always things we can slow down, reflect on and gain some wisdom from.

That doesn’t mean he circles round the daisies here folks, he tackles many subjects that make most Buddhist purists get all uppity and offended. From sex, to beer Lodro tackles just about every situation you could possibly get yourself into. He does not denounce either of them, as a matter of fact, he says just the opposite. He talks about embracing them. Drinking a beer for instance, it’s not about getting drunk, but grab a hold of that beer, drink it, notice it and see what effects it has on you. I’m of course paraphrasing here, you’ll have to get a copy of the book to better understand what I was getting at.

All in all, Lodro has written a gem here. His openness is valuable, and his wisdom palapable. I look forward to reading more from him in the future.

Running is, as running does…

November 29, 2011

I never understood why Forest kept running and running, heck I never understood why people ran at all. But, running has become a huge part of my life over the past few months.

My health has not been so good lately, and I decided it was time to do something about it. I thought of a couple ways I could, and I started doing it. The first few times I barely jogged a 1/2 mile, it would kill my legs and I honestly felt defeated half of the time. I knew I had to overcome that self-defeat and kept pushing. I got myself up to a mile, a mile and a half, to being able to complete 3 mile runs.

In September I ran my first 5k and finished in a little over 30 minutes, 31 minutes and 33 seconds to be exact. I was blown away by my time, blown away by the fact I could hold my own against people who were way more fit than I. I was happy beyond belief, though, to have even finished.

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Film Review: Crazy Wisdom

November 28, 2011

“Crazy Wisdom”
A film by Johanna Demetrakas

“Any perception can connect us to reality properly and fully. What we see doesn’t have to be pretty, particularly; we can appreciate anything that exists. There is some principle of magic in everything, some living quality. Something living, something real, is taking place in everything.”

I have been looking forward to seeing this for some time. I have to admit, I have not read a ton of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, but what I have read, and know about him, he was quite the audacious and in your face type of guy. His form of wisdom, appropriately dubbed crazy wisdom, broke many of the molds that westerners thought Buddhism was.

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I’m Thankful 2011

November 24, 2011

First and foremost, a Happy Thanksgiving to you all. May your day be filled with joy, laughter and full bellies as you spend quality time with family and friends.

I am thankful for many things this year, but am concentrating on the basics. I’m thankful for family, friends and my job.

My direct family, and extended family are close knit. we may not see one another everyday, or even close to once a month, but when and if they are called upon, they are there like true family members should be. Their unconditional love has got me through many of cloudy days. I hope that I can repay them someday with the kindness they have always shown me.

My friends, while a small group of folks, are really important to me. We are a support network that is undeniable. They know I’m there for them, as I know I am there for them.

I am extremely thankful for my job. Without it, life would be nearly impossible to live. But, it’s not just about the money. I work, as you know, for one of the largest cable providers in the US. They are a phenomenal company to work for. Not only do they care about their customers, but they truly and honestly care about their employees. The opportunities are huge, and if you are willing to work they are willing to move you up. Nowadays companies like this are hard to find. So I am thankful to work for them.

So, simply I am thankful for the things that maybe I take for granted but are truly the most dear to my heart. 

Book Review: The Story Of Buddha, A Graphic Biography

October 31, 2011

“The Story of Buddha: A Graphic Biography”
Written and Illustrated by Hisashi Ota
Published by Ichimannendo Publishing, Inc

Finally, someone has put together a manga (graphic novel) based on the history of Buddha. It’s been done for The Dalai LamaTibetan Master Je Tsongkhapa and author Stephan Asma wrote and illustrated a book called “Buddha, A Beginners Guide” which was comic like, but it was done in more of a humorous way than “The Story of Buddha: A Graphic Biography”, which is more true to the roots of this style of novel.

“The Story of Buddha: A Graphic Biography”, is much more of a traditional Japanese styled manga, meticulous, clean and quite moving. The illustrations are striking and express emotion without even needing to read the words, but it is important obviously that you do read them. The story line, which most of all know by now, puts a little more emphasis on his life in the palace and the struggles he goes through in understanding, or trying to understand, what life is truly about. His struggles were immense, but through rigorous training of the mind and body, the Buddha did achieve true happiness from suffering.

The novel is written well enough that intermediate readers to adult readers will not only enjoy, but devour in a timely fashion. I truly enjoyed reading “The Story of Buddha: A Graphic Biography” and would recommend it highly not only to those who are new to Buddhist thought and practice, but to those that already have a working knowledge of Buddhism. Hats off to Hisashi Ota for accepting the challenge to tackle such a project, and praise to him for being successful in doing so.