Life Question of the Day:

Is it really necessary to remove ourselves from the world to feel OK in the world?

One of the best things about being stateside is the easy access to so many of the things I realize I “need” to be happy. Avocado is at the top of the list. And this morning during my AM beach time I ate a beautifully ripe, Haas avocado on the beach, peeling it like a banana. Yum!

I have been here a week and am just now feeling relaxed and comfortable. That’s how long it takes, even if the decompression is from an ashram and not NYC.

To decompress fully we have to feel comfortable. Most of us live from the “flight or fight” response most of the time, constantly defending (thus activating the sympathetic nervous system and a variety of not-so-comfortable uncontrollable reactions by the body–see below* ) for what we believe is our right, our property, our stuff. Thus, many of us seek the ways and means to be in environments we believe we can control: our own home, our own car, communities of like minded people that agree with us or even gated communities that keep everyone else out. When we are on vacation we prefer to choose the expensive hotels, high end resorts and to pay people to look after our needs the way we want. But does that really work?

As noted, I have felt stresses since being here in Miami. I have felt my brain compress with thoughts about my security and safety, in Miami and back home in Brooklyn. What works to bring my mind into a new order, is to decompress with yoga. And by “yoga” I mean a variety of practices.

Sitting in meditation upon waking is a good start and a practice I have been making a routine here in Miami. I still find it very difficult to quiet the mental chatter during mediation, even first thing in the morning, or maybe particularly first thing in the morning. (Once I get settled into a new home, the first purchase will be a the perfect bed. Sleep is bliss only if the bed provides the proper support for the body.)What non-meditators do not realize, is that most people who have a mediation practice, experience this uncomfortable mind during their meditation at least some of the time.

After meditation comes coffee and a bit of work to calm all of the thoughts that reside in my mind. Next, on most days since I have been here in Miami, I do asana on the beach before the heat of the day descends.

Other practices I have been doing that bring me into balance and allow my parasympathetic nervous system** to take over are 1) Sound Yoga music practices and 2) Advaita Vedanta inquiry practices. Regarding the later, when I am feeling cramped by my mind and cannot see beyond a certain view, I begin to question the reality of what I am perceiving as true or not (see post called Life Lessons: Letting go, allowing the flow).

And now I can add a new practice to the group:

eating a peeled avocado on the beach …

Om shanti

*During “flight or fight” response adrenaline or noradrenaline, facilitate immediate physical reactions associated with a preparation for violent muscular action. These include the following:

  • Acceleration of heart and lung action
  • Paling or flushing, or alternating between both
  • Inhibition of stomach and upper-intestinal action to the point where digestion slows down or stops
  • General effect on the sphincters of the body
  • Constriction of blood vessels in many parts of the body
  • Liberation of nutrients (particularly fat and glucose) for muscular action
  • Dilation of blood vessels for muscles
  • Inhibition of the lacrimal gland (responsible for tear production) and salivation
  • Dilation of pupil (mydriasis)
  • Relaxation of bladder
  • Inhibition of erection
  • Auditory exclusion (loss of hearing)
  • Tunnel vision (loss of peripheral vision)
  • Disinhibition of spinal reflexes
  • Shaking

**Sometimes called the rest and digest system, the parasympathetic system conserves energy as it slows the heart rate, increases intestinal and gland activity, and relaxes sphincter muscles in the gastrointestinal tract.

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