regard all dharmas as dreams

This is the card that I pulled today from Pema Chodron’s Compassion Cards – Regard all dharmas as dreams – with this explanation:

Whatever you experience in life – pain, pleasure, heat, cold or anything else – is like something happening in a dream. Although you might think things are very solid, they are like a passing memory. You can experience this open, unfixated quality in sitting meditation; all that arises in your mind – hate, love and all the rest – is not solid. Although the experience can get extremely vivid, it is just a product of your mind. Nothing solid is really happening.

Here’s why this is important to understand – a regular meditation practice can help alleviate the suffering from the fluctuations of the mind. Raja yoga – or the yoga of meditation – helps us escape these fluctuations by recognizing that these states are temporary and that change is constant, and, through practice, let go and release the grasp our thoughts have over us.

There is a great story about this in one of Mark Nepo’s books, The Book of Awakening. A master points to a boulder and asks his disciple if the boulder is heavy, which of course he responds affirmatively. Then the master explains that the boulder is only heavy if you pick it up.

We all pick up the boulder throughout our lives, and meditation can be helpful in breaking the cycle and putting down the boulder.

Recognizing your true dharma can be helpful in breaking the cycle.  While there is no exact translation of the word dharma in English, it is generally accepted as your truth or your reality.

Many times in my life, I’ve wanted my dharma to be ideal and my path to be clear. In other words, I was going to graduate college, find the perfect job and meet the perfect man and we were going to have an amazing life together. This was not my dharma.

There had to be lessons and truths presented to me so that I could learn and grow. These lessons became the gifts that were given to me, although initially they presented challenges, struggles and failures.

If you are stuck in the fluctuations of the mind, identify the lessons and focus on the lessons. Let go of everything else.

Life is a state of constant change, yet our minds want to stay with permanence. Even if we want something to change, we don’t expect it to change. We suffer because we believe it is permanent, when in reality it is only temporary.

Recognizing the choice that we have to control our thoughts to relieve suffering and encourage growth is the real work of meditation.

One of my favorite meditation practices these days is to flip my thinking. If I want to be pessimistic and negative about something or someone, I try to flip the thought and be optimistic and positive and meditate on how this feels to shift the perspective. Rather than allowing a flood of thoughts and emotions to come up, I focus on a simple recognition.

As an example, I was passing a young woman on the street who I saw roll her eyes at me. As I approached her, she kindly said hello and I realized that the eye rolling was not directed at me and it was my imagination that she was hating on me. This simple exchange had deep meaning for me in not allowing myself to jump to conclusions when I have so little information.

Identify a simple exchange that you’ve had and meditate on flipping this thinking and recognizing the lesson. Regard all dharmas as dreams and let go of grasping.

Start with OM.

 

 

 

 

 

Featured

welcome.

I am so happy you are here!

The list of benefits from a regular yoga practice is indeed long, and a few of these benefits are particularly important for runners, including:

• Increased flexibility
• Increased muscle strength
• Improved respiration, energy and vitality
• Greater protection from injury
• Improved mental acuity and concentration
• Improved balance

Perhaps most importantly, yoga can help improve the mind-body-spirit connection, which is so critical for improving athletic performance.

As the name of this blog indicates, you can start with OM to create the foundation of your practice that will lead you to a better, more peaceful life.

OM is the sound of the universe and represents the union of mind-body-spirit, which is the goal of yoga. (Note that there are as many definitions for OM as there are stars in the sky but this is a basic definition for beginning to understand the concept!)

OM is significant as it is often used as part of a centering technique to focus the mind and move into deep relaxation or prepare us for what we are about to do. Experiencing the openness of the “O” sound and the vibration of the “M” sound can be helpful for drawing inward.

As you make the sound either quietly to yourself or out loud, allow it to increase your awareness and presence in the moment. In the words of Ram Dass – Be Here Now.

Ideas for beginning to practice with OM:

  1. First thing in the morning, sit up tall as you rise from bed and breathe in gently and on the exhale quietly voice the sound OM, repeat three times with the breath
  2. If you feel stressed or upset during the day, take a moment to breathe and repeat OM three times to yourself
  3. If you are getting ready for an important moment – such as a job interview, first date, big work presentation – use your OM practice to center yourself before launching in
  4. Before you go to bed, sit up tall and breathe in gently and on the exhale quietly say OM, then repeat three times
  5. Before you run… before you eat… before you speak… before you shop… before you check your mail… before you say, I love you… you get the picture
  6. As you practice with OM, gradually shift your experience to a heightened sense of relaxation with the goal of fully experiencing the sound

We will explore more meanings of OM and additional practices using the sound, but start with this technique to begin a new journey toward strengthening your mind-body-spirit connection through the power of yoga.

If you are uncomfortable with practicing OM, use your breath and focus on the inhale and the exhale as you slow your thoughts. Chanting OM or another mantra can be helpful to tune into your inner world, so over time you may want to try again and focus on the experience of OM without judgement or expectation.

The sound vibrations can be deeply meaningful and bring you closer to a pure experience state, so it may be worthwhile to try again as your relaxation practice deepens. Or it may just not be for you, which is fine as well. I encourage you to follow my blog as there may be other practices that are relevant and helpful to you.

Start with OM is personally relevant for me as this is the practice that I struggle with the most.

In lay terms, I have often run frantically into burning buildings filled with assumptions, fear and negativity rather than taking a moment to clear my mental slate and breathe through my OM practice. I dive into important conversations and meetings before taking a moment to draw inward and focus and clear my mind so that I am fully present and available to the people who need me the most.

Start with OM is a journey for me as well, to remind me to focus on the simple act of empowering my scared, hurt and frustrated inner child using OM.

I am thrilled to be starting this new journey with you, using OM as the light guiding us forward to greater peace, love and joy.

OM Shanti. Shanti. Shanti.