15 Ways to Keep a Peaceful Heart and Mind (Hint: Choose one at a time to work on)

1. Choose to be happy

"Most people are as happy as they make up their minds to be." - Abe Lincoln

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2. Change your negative thoughts to positive ones - look back  to understand how the negative thoughts formed, then LET THAT SHIT GO. And take on some different thoughts.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 2.33

Remind yourself, "This is not useful": When you know that your actions, speech, or thoughts are not what you want, the suggestion is to repeatedly remind yourself that this anger (or other example) is going in the wrong direction, and will bring you nothing but unending misery. It can be as straightforward as silently repeating the words to yourself, "Mind, this is not useful; this is going to bring me nothing but more suffering, and lead me into greater ignorance of truth. Mind, you need to let go of this." 

http://swamij.com/yoga-sutras-23034.htm

3. Recognize your strengths and use them to minimize  your limitations. 

Check out the Fly Lady   

http://www.flylady.net

4. Know that you are perfect and whole right now. 

Check out Deepak Chopra’s work on the Shadow


5. Hang with people who foster your growth, understanding and joy. Choose your own “right.”


6. Think about what you want to have and what you want to do. Then consider how those desires overlap into who you think yourself to be or who think you want to be. Feel that you are that, you have that, you do that. Create the feeling.

Then relax and breathe and say so hum for as long as you like and have time for. 


7. Praise yourself and others. 

Be like the Bees who seek nectar and make honey - not like flies who seek filth and spread disease. 


8. Know that you are a unique and beautiful miracle of creation. Be yourself.


9. What you feel (emotionally) in each moment is often a response to your thoughts about some past for future event. Bring your attention the present moment by using your senses (physically) - become focused on observing what you are sensing. What are you sensing? (a breeze? cold? heat? rain?) What do you see and hear? Feel your heart beat.


10. Know that you are love, born from love. The love and respect you show to yourself and others will be returned. Receive it. Receive love. When we seek and grasp for love we sometimes miss the opportunity to enjoy the way in which it is being offered to us. 


11. Have faith. 

Vairagya/Abhyasa - Non-attachment and Practice 

Discrimination is key: To be able to do the practices and to cultivate non-attachment, it is necessary to become better and better at discriminating between what actions, speech, and thoughts take you in the right direction, and those which are a diversion (2.26-2.29, 3.4-3.6). This discrimination is both a foundation practice and also the subtler tool of the inner journey.”

YS 1.12-1.16

http://www.swamij.com/yoga-sutras-11216.htm

12. Recognize abundance. 

Matthew 6 Do Not Worry

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[e]?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” - NIV Bible

13. Relax - if some people don't like you, that’s normal. Like yourself. If you can accept all of yourself, you can accept others. And if you accept others, you will have more peace. 

14. Be confident. Courageously share your gifts with others. Try new things. We are often afraid to make mistakes which may hold us back from acting at all. 

Be open to learning. Failing is always a door to learning. Often, the more failures we have, the greater our success in the long run. 

15. Know that the only way you can truly fail is if you quit. Keep going. You may decide to redirect your path and that’s fine. Keep going. Be open to living and what life brings. Enjoy the ride. 

Live in Leela!






Devotion: The Heart of Hanuman

Rama and Sita in Hanuman's Heart. 

Hanuman is the monkey god, a vanara, and one of the most popular characters in Hindu mythology, showing up as a main character in Valmiki's classic Ramayana. I love these stories because they are vivid, colorful, powerful and insightful. Like Jesus, Hindu deities are not perfect, but perfectly carry out their aim and purpose. Here's a brief explanation of the story behind this picture of Hanuman showing Rama and Sita deep within his heart: Hanuman has retrieved Rama's love, Sita, from the grips of Lord Ravana, as well as served to facilitate the victory of Rama and his forces over Ravana.
Sita, is graciously handing out valuable gifts to those who have served Rama and brought about this great win. Hanuman is handed a necklace of glittering gemstones (or pearls depending on the storyteller), looks at it, then puts the stones in his mouth, chews them up, then spits them out. He says that he has no need of those jewels because Rama in not in them and all he needs is Rama. 
Those around him begin to taunt him, calling him ungrateful, and questioning why he wouldn't want to wear something of Rama's on his body. 
"Rama is IN my body! My heart is full!” And he tears open his heart to reveal the image of Rama and Sita there, representations of transcendent, divine love, and the union and balance of the masculine and feminine within us all.

Do you know the yoga pose that is named after Hanuman? If so, let me know! Send a photo of you or someone you know through text or tag @jennifer_jennette_ or @livinginleela

Jai Hanuman!

Yoga for Countering Oppression

The issue of racism is so close to my heart because growing up it never made sense to me (I was very fortunate to go to school with friends of all colors) but also because I was a girl, am a woman, which has it's own baggage of systemic oppression and cultural conditioning which limits the full flowering of society’s potential.

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Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon which cuts without wounding and
ennobles the man who wields it.

It is a sword that heals.

— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

How can work together to raise awareness about systemic oppression and the power of introspection to lead us to love in action in order to bring about an inclusive, respectful, united nation and world. As Dr. King said, "Love wins." Love and light always prevail, even after the darkest of times.

Why, when there is only one race, the human race, is the system is so slow to change?

The reason is deep. Human beings are complicated. In order to support healing and unity, we individuals must look deeply inside ourselves to see how we are internally divided. Doing this gives us a clue. Observing how we limit, shame, reject and abuse ourselves with our own thoughts and actions is the practice of Yoga. Ignorance, contrary to the popular saying, is the opposite of bliss because it allows us to turn away from reality the of suffering, our own and that of others.

But when we see clearly how we argue with and turn on ourselves (usually in the moment just before we shame or blame another), we expand in consciousness which leads to compassion and change.

Then we move into the experience of Yoga through Ahimsa, or not-harming, which extends from our core out into the world.

A couple of links, especially for my white bothers and sisters who may not fully grasp “why it’s still an issue” “after all this time”…

If you haven't read The Making of a Racist by Charles Dew, I encourage you to do so.  Click here or on the image for a free download: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uievVFzR7q4

If you haven't read The Making of a Racist by Charles Dew, I encourage you to do so.

Click here or on the image for a free download: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uievVFzR7q4

Also, I think it's amazing how Rod Serling's speech (Rod Serling was the creator of The Twilight Zone and Planet of the Apes) at UCLA in 1966 could have easily been given yesterday. So relevant to our current social situation.

Here's the link: https://youtu.be/PyJUwZ0k-JQ

Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.

— Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

And an excerpt from MLK's Letter from Birmingham jail and a link to the whole thing: https://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/documents/Letter_Birmingham_Jail.pdf

"We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have never yet engaged in a direct-action movement that was "well timed" according to the timetable of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word "wait." It rings in the ear of every Negro with a piercing familiarity. This "wait" has almost always meant "never." It has been a tranquilizing thalidomide, relieving the emotional stress for a moment, only to give birth to an ill-formed infant of frustration.

We must come to see with the distinguished jurist of yesterday that "justice too long delayed is justice denied." We have waited for more than three hundred and forty years for our God-given and constitutional rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jet-like speed toward the goal of political independence, and we still creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward the gaining of a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. I guess it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say "wait." But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize, and even kill your black brothers and sisters with impunity; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she cannot go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her little eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see the depressing clouds of inferiority begin to form in her little mental sky, and see her begin to distort her little personality by unconsciously developing a bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son asking in agonizing pathos, "Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?"; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading "white" and "colored"; when your first name becomes "nigger" and your middle name becomes "boy" (however old you are) and your last name becomes "John," and when your wife and mother are never given the respected title "Mrs."; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never knowing what to expect next, and plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of "nobodyness" -- then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over and men are no longer willing to be plunged into an abyss of injustice where they experience the bleakness of corroding despair. I hope, sirs, you can understand our legitimate and unavoidable impatience."