The Center of the Universe is Right Here

As we gear up for our upcoming Spring retreat, we are examining the theme of “returning to center” and what it means. Beth Sanchez is special guest on our blog today and will be co-teaching the retreat. Let us know what you think about the notion of returning to center and self reflection. And thank you to Beth for her thoughts and commentary below.

For me, I go in and out of seeing, knowing, feeling, believing, and abiding in the deeply inter-connected Universe. – Beth Sanchez

Indra is an ancient Vedic Diety, a God-King and administrator. His net forms the very fabric of creation. At every cross point in the net, there is a jewel reflecting all other points across space and time. Everything in the mutually causal web is connected to, reflects, and is accessible through all points in the web. One incredibly close microcosm of this principle is right here in our own bodies, as this image of firing neurons suggests.

This ancient understanding is both old and new. Inter-connectivity, Inter-Being, Dependent Co-Arising, all things being related and depending on the existence of all other things to manifest; these are the truth claims of Indigenous humans everywhere and appear throughout Buddhist and Hindu thought as well as many other philosophies. In the book of Romans, Paul says “So in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others”. The Zulu concept of Ubuntu refers to the deep relationality of human subjects offering each other humanity and existence.

From the Rig Veda to Parmenides, to Einstein and countless (m)others, the myth of separate self-ness has been dispelled innumerable times. Yet, the delusion of separate self-entities persists. The felt experiences of separation, alienation, pain and their emergent forms of structural violence toward the (ultimately nonexistent) “other”, defy our deepest knowing.

The experiences of unified awe or divisive pain either draws us toward fulfillment or away from it. Can it be that our access point to the heart of the Universe, to what seems to evade us, to the deepest satisfaction possible is right where we are? Can it be that what we most deeply long for is hidden right here in plain sight? Can it further be that returning to the center happens easily when we practice together with our relations who have the same hunch?

Stop right now, drop into your vast being in one single slow breath. IN……..(gap), OUT……..(gap).

Isn’t it a marvel?

If that small taste intrigues you, PRACTICE TOGETHER WITH DEAR ONES who share the same hunch. For me, I go in and out of seeing, knowing, feeling, believing, and abiding in the deeply inter-connected Universe. I know that in my own habitual self-ing, other-ing also arises and is part of multiple socio-political-economic systems in which I live. I am not yet fully established in this knowing. In fact, I only get glimpses; the kind that have “ruined” an otherwise promising conventional life. Yet these glimpses are undeniable and overwhelming and they happen more reliably WHEN I AM WITH YOU! Yes, I need the help of your presence and relationality. I hope you can relate!

Let us be here together, in the very center of the practice-hood, the center of sushumna, the center of the enzo, the center of our circle of friends, the center of our Self, the center of our home, the center of the Universe, that most holy place which is right here and right now. The portals are already open.

Beth
Beth Sanchez

 

 

“RETURN TO CENTER”
A DONATION-BASED RETREAT!
GRANT, CO – MAY 12-14, 2017

This unique retreat is co-lead by Derik Eselius and Beth Sanchez. With 34 years of yoga teaching experience between them, they have made a significant impact on the Denver yoga community, leading Yoga Teacher Training programs, and offering classes, workshops retreats that are affordable and accessible to people of all backgrounds.

Step out of your familiar routine and open the gateway to inner renewal and freedom. This retreat will be a remarkable opportunity to cultivate fresh insights and revitalize your core with the timeless practice of yoga. Join us as as we go beyond the ‘pose’ and dive into a multidimensional yoga practice; while surrounded by the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Learn more here.

Where: YMCA – Santa Maria Camp Center: 51321 US-285, Grant, CO 80448 | One hour from Denver!
When: May 12th, 10:30am to May 14th, 12pm (home in time for Mother’s Day!)
Cost: Only $199 to cover the costs of food and lodging, making this retreat accessible to everyone, plus a donation at the conclusion of the retreat.
Register: Click here to learn more and to register!

Asthma, Allergies and Ayurveda

Catch a glimpse into an experiment in progress by one of the Axis Yoga Teacher Training students.

The following posts describe how this student adopted some new habits and changed some old ones in an effort to finally deal with chronic allergies and asthma. With the help of Ayurveda and Yoga this student, like many others, discovers their own power to effect change and healing in all parts of the body.

Asthma, Allergies and Ayurveda: Herbs

For my Ayurvedic experiment, I chose to attempt to alleviate something more physically immediate that was plaguing my existence: allergies. I have struggled with allergies, asthma, and eczema my whole life. I was always trying to figure out what was causing it but with very little effort into truly trying to understand the why’s and what’s of the cause and just hoping it would miraculously go away some day. I lived in Hawai’i when from ages 3-6 and I seemingly had no allergies there (except to cats). We moved to Florida right before my 7th birthday and that is where my struggles began. I would have frequent asthma attacks and needed to be hooked up to a nebulizer in order to breathe. It was miserable. I seemingly grew out of it but have noticed recently that perhaps I haven’t grown out of my asthma and allergies as much as I’d thought.

This experiment has led me to speculate that perhaps my asthma is allergic asthma. While my focus was not so much my asthma, the two are very much interrelated. I began taking the following herbs for Pitta and Kapha allergies: 8 shatavari; 1 guduchi; 1/4 shanka bhasma; 2 sitopaladi; 2 yasthi madhu (licorice); 2 turmeric; 2 coriander. I have been taking ~2 tsp once a day with warm water since March 20th. The first week was a little bit of a struggle, as I missed 3 days of taking it due to forgetfulness. I strongly dislike the feeling I get when I haven’t held up my end of a deal and told myself I need to figure out a way to prioritize it so that I don’t forget. I have found that taking the ~2tsp once a day during my morning routine is most effective for me.

At first the taste was not as bad as I was expecting. It reminded me of the end of a cereal box, where all of the grainy sugar and sweetness lies, except minus the sugar. It tasted slightly sweet, which I appreciated (as I gravitate towards such things), but swallowing was a little difficult. I could feel every grainy piece of the herbs I was taking. The first time I took it, I tried to just open my mouth, drop my head back, and dump the herbs on the back of my tongue to avoid any sensory displeasure. This technique backfired as I inhaled and simultaneously drew the herbs into my lungs and erupted into a coughing fit of regret and annoyance. I learned my lesson. It has now been 8 consecutive days that I have taken the herbs everyday without forgetting. I don’t feel that I have that much to report on in the way of results, but I can testify to the other doors that have been opened for me during this process.

Asthma, Allergies and Ayurveda: Marijuana

As I mentioned before, I have been more able to discover more about my condition, what exacerbates it, and what I may do to calm it or control it. I am a huge proponent for the positive effects of using marijuana. As a CrossFit athlete, I put my body under intense bouts of stress. I lift heavy weights, and try to complete metabolic conditioning movements as fast as I can. Marijuana is something I have been using daily for several years (about 4 years) and it helps my recovery tremendously. I noticed that it also eased some of the anxiety and restlessness that came along with my college graduation. I have noticed that for the past several months, as my allergies have been acting up more, that metabolic exercise has been tremendously more difficult for me. I have so much phlegm and mucous that it literally makes it difficult to breathe. When I am in the middle of a workout and I have to stop because I can’t breathe and am approaching a moment of asthma panic, it is disheartening. It makes me feel that my inability to breathe is keeping me from reaching my goals and it feels unfair.

My Ayurvedic experiment is actually several different experiments all rolled into one. One overarching theme I have begun is to be more mindful in everything that I do. I have never been someone who has paid attention to anything that I wasn’t interested in or willfully trying to learn. I am a daydreamer and one of my biggest flaws is that I don’t listen (my moon is in Pisces if that helps a better picture for you. AKA – Space cadet here!). Being more mindful has been an uphill battle. It is really difficult to change something I didn’t even realize I was doing. This experiment has made me realize that as much as I love smoking marijuana for all the positive things it brings to my life, perhaps it is not serving me in the same way anymore. I have decided to take a two week break from smoking marijuana (as of April 2nd), which I may extend to a month or even longer if I discover that I don’t need it as much as I thought I did. I am really trying to pay attention to how that can serve me right now in alleviating my allergic asthma and allergy symptoms.

Asthma, Allergies and Ayurveda: Sadhana

Another mini experiment that is all part of this broader experiment is changing my routine. For years, literally years, I have been truly wanting to change my morning routine, to not have my phone be the first thing I look at in the morning, to not lose 3 hours of the start of my day to Facebook and Instagram. I wanted to get up and practice yoga, start a meditation practice, read a book, do something that was going to enrich my life in my day to day. As part of my Ayurvedic experiment, I have also taken up tongue scraping, oil pulling, neti potting, and meditation on a daily basis. I realize that I am always so eager to experiment on my body in ways that I can control: food, allergy, hygiene, etc. These are all physical experiments that affect my perception of myself. What I realized is that I have been resisting making internal changes and putting forth the effort of doing things that seem hard or boring, which gave rise to my sadhana practice.
I began my sadhana practice on March 21st and have only lost one day to forgetfulness. Hearing that “no effort goes to waste” in our class presentation on meditation inspired me to always just try and to keep trying. I have been practicing sadhana every morning for 10 minutes as the last piece of my Ayurvedic morning routine. This morning I incorporated nadishodhana (my favorite of the 4 purifications) and increased my time to 15 minutes. I definitely felt the extra 5 minutes, but have seen positive changes from my daily practice.

Asthma, Allergies and Ayurveda: Change

I have made strides in being the observer and the observed. I have discovered that the Axis Yoga Teacher Training program has given me the extra push and support I needed to make those changes. I have come leaps and bounds from where I was 5 years ago, spiritually, mentally, and physically. I have made strides on my own that have positively affected my relationship to myself and to others and have helped shaped a more free, connected, and positive view of the world around me. Axis has given me support to pursue those changes I have been waiting to make and given me a community to be accountable to in the most enriching way. I am so grateful for this experience and am excited to keep applying what I am learning for more growth and understanding for myself and those around me.

Ditching the Distractions

Yoga gives us time and space to hear ourselves, to feel our emotions, to connect to who we are apart from the distractions of our world. This isn’t always comfortable. Many times it’s easier to gloss over unwanted thoughts and feelings rather than to connect and process them. The following posts were written by an Axis Yoga Teacher Training student who decided to confront this discomfort in order to create change. As part of the YTT course, students experiment with chosen Yogic and Ayurvedic principles. With the instructors’ guidance, these experiments allow the students to feel first-hand the impact simple changes can have on daily life.

 

Ditching the Distractions: New Routine

I struggle with addressing my disliked emotions and energies. I associate words like “anger” and “anxious” with shame, and so I generally avoid recognizing those presences within my body and mind. I choose quick-fix, lazy distractions instead. Gently and kindly observing manifestations within and external is a new practice for me, one that I exercise with variability. I continue to desire for groundedness in this endeavor, and to conversely but just as fluidly, let go of the experiences. To quiet my mind and warm my heart, I decided to experiment with relaxing and soothing Ayurvedic methods before bedtime. I hypothesized that this nightly routine would help me to engage more honestly and compassionately with my surroundings and myself.

I chose the following as my evening routine: 1) light incense, 2) massage coconut oil into my feet, 3) meditate (keep the mind on the breath) for 15 minutes, and 4) drop lavender essential oil on my pillow. From the onset I took notes to outline my experiment and to tinker with the design. On night one I learned that meditation should follow massaging the coconut oil, versus the opposite order, so that my mind would be most quiet directly before I placed my head on my pillow. Night one also taught me that I should not look at my phone light directly before turning towards sleep; I used an app called Insight Timer to measure the minutes of my meditation, and I decided that I would close out of the app in the morning to avoid the irritation of the phone light prior to closing my eyes. I learned, as one of the Axis mentor’s had stated, that a little bit of oil goes a long way.

 

Ditching the Distractions: New Sensations

I experienced profound peace within the first couple of nights of experimentation. On night 2 of the experiment I had this crazy thought: that if I were to not wake up, things would be ok…it wasn’t that I didn’t want to wake up, I’d just be ok with not waking up, too. This thought occurred in the few moments after I had tucked myself into bed and before I fell peacefully asleep. I did, of course, wake up the next morning, joyful and well-rested and smelling lavender. But the warmth of that thought stopped me in my mental tracks throughout the following days, likely because of it’s supreme oppositeness to general thought patterns of my life, and specifically a grand fear surrounding the mystery of death. It was an interesting experience.

I practiced every night for the first 8 nights. I felt more aware of my disliked sensations throughout the day, and I chose to recognize their presence and breathe through them. I was more aware of liked sensations, too! I experienced lightness as I woke in the morning, and I felt gratitude for a calming night’s sleep. I found myself abiding in greater clarity.

Ditching the Distractions: New Changes

As time went on, I practiced the evening routine inconsistently, in both occasion and quality. By three weeks’ end, I engaged with the routine with genuine intention about two-thirds of those nights. Sometimes I lazily chose distractions because they seemed momentarily easier. Almost always, I felt the ramifications of evading the practice. I found it more difficult to recognize internal sensations as they arose, rather noticing these vibrations when they had already grown large enough to usurp homeostatic and healthy functionalities. Basically, I got madder, sadder, and anxious-er more often.

There have been some other changes in my choices during this experimental period. For the last 10 or so mornings, I’ve oil pulled with coconut oil before brushing my teeth, varying in duration between 5 and 15 minutes. I enjoy this morning purification process. I also choose to eat mostly pitta-pacifying foods; I often eat a few pieces of ginger before a meal and I drink more tea each day. I avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight (something I used to bathe in!), and I am more aware of dodging pitta-aggravating substances and environments. These are all new undertakings that I believe have happened somewhat subconsciously but in connection with my experimental and more structured evening practice.