Blog

This Monthly Focus Blog is Daniel's opportunity to share his insights on the topics of Yoga practice, Ayurveda self care, and Contemplative practices. You are invited to join the Blog and add your experiences as they relate to the subject.

Stigma

I recently had the opportunity and honor to speak as a panelist on Stigma at Northeastern University, as part of a Nurse Hackathon. 

Here are a few take aways from that experience:

1. Nurses are amazing people who are doing their best in caring for individuals and families affected by  the opioid crisis. Stigma and the residue created by stigma, was mentioned several times during separate panel discussions. The question of how to reduce stigma was a lively discussion, and I am encouraged by what I heard. I would like to outline my personal perspective and invite further exploration by those who are interested.

2. The first recognition in shifting stigma is that all human beings have value, spiritual value, and they should be treated with the reverence that demands. 

3. There is more than enough government money to fund the caregivers needed to contain and minimize this crisis; it will take much more political will and compassion than is currently being offered.

4. Stigma is a process of de-humanizing individuals and/or groups, it is a method of making it culturally acceptable to neglect, shame, humiliate, and abuse people. It is a defense or offense action towards anything or anyone that makes you confront your fear, shame, anger, jealousy, greed, lust, disgust, and delusion. It is sadly much easier to blame the one who is already suffering, than to act wisely and compassionately and solve the crisis.

Trust

Who do you trust?

I gave a mini workshop recently about the number of people that we genuinely trust, which brought up some interesting comments. It was surprising, and not surprising to hear that the number of people trusted were small, on average 1-4 people. In a world that needs a great deal more trust and faith in other humans, this becomes an opportunity to explore or contemplate how to build or develop trust. So what is trust?

According to the dictionary definitions it means: reliance, faith, surety, confidence in others. Is this your definition?

What life experience(s) has diminished your trust in others or yourself? 

Have you made dis-trust a permanent way of living or being? Do you view the world through a lens of suspicion, fear, skepticism, anger; is that lens for all beings or just segments or groups?

Would you truly like to rebuild or re-connect with trust? If you observe most infant children when they feel safe, they have a natural tendency to trust; this is a reminder that your natural authentic nature is to trust.

WDRT Interview

I enjoyed our conversation with Dr’s Paul and Paula Grenier, on their radio show “the Heart of Wellness” hosted on WDRT in Viroqua WI. WDRT is a community radio station that is a labor of love for many in the Driftless region of southwestern WI. The program will be broadcast on Tuesday 2/14/17 from 9-10 am central time.

I thought I would summarize the main focus points, and if you have additional comments or questions after the broadcast please let me know.

Relationships: what are your relationships founded upon? Love, like, sex/lust, power, money, co-dependency (not being alone); acknowledging the basis for relationships helps reduce emotional attachments, and open lines of communication when you face challenges. If you have a sense of unfulfilment in the relationship you may consider if your preferences have changed; you can always change the foundation but it needs to be done with awareness. If you are in a like relationship that is good, unless you prefer, want or desire love. Don’t make like bad, like is good. Like is not love.

Begin Again

As 2017 begins it may be beneficial to reflect on the good that remains to be manifested. Sometimes life challenges us and we fall short of that challenge; the beauty of our life and Spiritual work is that we can always begin again. We can begin again to be kind, courageous, respectful, humble, wise, fun, joyful. 

A wonderful contemplative meditation practice is to stand in the sunshine, first turn directly away from the sun so you may see or witness your shadow appearing. Why do you have a shadow, what does your shadow symbolize from a spiritual perspective? Then turn toward the sun; do you still have a shadow? If you work with this ritual of turning toward and away and toward the sun, what do you experience? A simple meditation or contemplative ritual that may help you begin again to manifest the good.

May you be happy, May you be healthy, May you be prosperous in all your good works!

Pain Associated with Loss

Once the sense of loss has been identified, each of us then needs to realize the loss experience was and perhaps still is painful. One of the natural defenses of the mind, and a defense mechanism that we have learned is too deny pain. This denial of pain is a survival instinct which serves us in the first stage of the loss experience; to step fully into the healing process we must acknowledge that the loss really truly hurt. Moving out of denying the pain of separation, the pain of being alone, the pain of hearing or seeing the loss occur, etc.

Denial of pain keeps us protected, but also holds us in the past; and each of us will at some point need to be willing to feel the pain, for one intense second. Feel the punch, kick, crush of the loss. Once we have felt the pain then we can allow the tears to fall. Tears come when we experience physical pain and these are the tears we seek. When we are hit hard physically tears come, it hurts. When we are hit hard emotionally tears come and they symbolize sadness. Tears are good, and we should pay attention to which tears are falling. Then we allow the release of the held breath/the shock, of learning about the loss. 

What is the loss?

Loss, the experience of separation from someone, some-thing, or some place, that you have identified as important; important meaning you experience love in relationship with it.

Loss of a significant other: A person(family member, partner,or person who inspires you), a pet, passes away or leaves you.  

Loss of a sense of self-(respect, trust, courage, honesty, humor, confidence), a part of you seems to pass away or leave.

Loss of a place of beauty and power: A place in nature where you have experienced serenity, beauty, acceptance, is destroyed by natural or human action.

Loss of a material symbol: traditional item(picture, painting, cup, clothing etc) that is lost, broken, destroyed, that connects you with family, origin, or spiritual ground.

Loss results in experiencing physical, emotional, mental and spiritual pain. Pain creates a response of denial, we react in a way that allows us to survive the loss, it is a subtle protection. We say, "That did not hurt!" but that is not the truth. Immediately a complex defense response system begins to develop, I am in pain but I cannot show that I am in pain. Unraveling that complex defense system is part of psychological methodology.

Why practice Forgiveness?

Freedom; that is the gift of forgiveness. Freedom from guilt, shame, blame, pain and suffering. Freedom to begin again; to love again, and live again.

When each of realizes that we re-create the majority of our personal pain and suffering, then there is the real potential for an act of forgiveness to take place. When freedom to love again, and live again, becomes more valuable than pain, blame, shame, guilt and punishment, then there is a chance.

The act of forgiveness is a conscious decision to stop harming; harming ourselves, harming others, and allowing others to harm us. We learn through experience that shaming is painful, blaming is painful, guilt is painful, and a life time of punishment is painful. Forgiveness is not easy, it is so much easier to blame someone for our real or imagined pain. I know it from my personal experience; and for many years I believed that forgiveness was a nice idea but not a real experience. Thankfully I have found the beginning of the path, and have started to practice.

Blame, Shame, Guilt

Blame, Shame, and Guilt; this energetic triad fuels defensive living, grief, and the guilt-punishment cycle. 

Consider how you respond/react whenever you are blamed for something you did, or did not do. What are your thoughts, resulting emotions, and physical sensations that arise? It may be even more potent if you use the word "accused"; You did it! It is not only "blame" that we need to consider, but the act of being "accused." Rightly, or wrongly accused! This is how your innocence is energetically shattered, your life experience is altered and remains altered until you work through the steps of forgiveness and return to innocence. 

Once you have experienced being blamed or accused, you now have permission to blame and accuse others; that is your introduction or initiation into the harming triad of blame, shame and guilt-punishment.

Is there a way out of the triad? Yes, a conscious return to a state of innocence.  

The return to a state of innocence is an act of forgiveness; and over the next several blog posts I will attempt to outline the path back to innocence. Forgiveness is one of the most important spiritual skills we need to consider mastering, and master sooner than later.

What is spirituality?

I recently have been exploring the question of what is spirituality. I was surprised to read that some materialists consider spirituality that which is supernatural. I have been contemplating that idea/concept and will continue to do so; for me the "spiritual" is not supernatural, it is what surrounds each day. 

This is a mental leaning toward the Tantric perspective, that there is no separation between Spirit and Matter. We have an opportunity each day to experience compassion, joy, humor, wisdom, grace, faith,and many more "spiritual" states. If we are present or paying close attention there is always the subtle hearing, feeling, seeing, tasting and smelling of that which is divine, holy or more simply said, that which arises from love. 

What is your definition of spirituality?

Ayurveda Practice

I have been studying Ayurveda for several years now, and I have come to appreciate the wisdom of Ayurveda more and more.

Self-care as a preventative measure is fantastic; you can do a great deal by yourself to maintain balance throughout the year. However, there are times when a practitioner can be a valuable asset. If seasonal change, environmental or mental stress, or just plain old poor eating habits throw you out of balance, having someone to examine and re-direct your doshas quickens the healing process.

In an age when DIY (do it yourself) is so popular we sometimes forget that we should "not do" some things for ourselves. Take the opportunity to utilize practitioners, let them help you deepen your wisdom, recover quicker, and stay balanced longer.

Yoga Class Update

Summer Yoga Class Schedule is:

Monday 4-5 p.m. all levels: Organic Valley La Farge

Tuesday and Thursday 5:15-6:30 p.m all levels Tapestry Yoga Studio

Contact Dan for questions or details.

Emotional Nutrition Cycle-speaking and listening.

In my last blog post I spoke about the emotional nutrition cycle; the emotional nutrition cycle is interdependently connected with the five senses. Today I will focus on the nutrition cycle and your sense of speaking and listening. 

The nutrition cycle functions as energy going outward through speech, and returning as speech; you will need to consider several aspects of the speech and listening cycle to grasp more of the whole. 

Contemplate right now on: "are you truly not being allowed to speak, or are you afraid to speak?" If you are simply afraid to speak, then you are withholding nourishment from the environment. If your voice is being minimized by other people in your personal or professional relationships, the nutrition you bring, is once again not flowing out to the environment. Two different scenarios with the same outcome; you are not feeding the environment good food. You are not giving, or not allowed to give out energy; that creates an imbalance.

If you speak falsely, arrogantly, with manipulation tendencies, sarcastically, or simply to gossip, you are feeding the environment rotten, disgusting, or poisonous food. That is another form of energy imbalance, and it may be more harmful than not speaking.

Emotional Nutrition Cycle

I have been studying the emotional component of the five senses for several years, and thought I should begin to share some of the insights from that study.

Many people are seeking or longing for "some "thing;"" they cannot name what it is, but they feel an emptiness inside and are trying to fill it. Some people respond best to Soul Retrieval work when they have this feeling of emptiness, but not always. I find that some people need emotional nutrition; they need to "be" heard, or seen, or touched, or tasted or smelled. Or, they need to listen, to touch, to see, to taste, or to smell others. 

Many people when they were young never received enough, or appropriate touch; several studies have shown the psychological issues that arise from lack of touch. The emotional component is as important to start paying closer attention too.

If someone is energetically starving for touch, then they will semi-consciously seek that touch directly or indirectly. That seeking may be in healthy or unhealthy ways. If someone is starving to be seen, they will find healthy or unhealthy ways to be seen. The same behavior happens for the remaining senses as well.

Being Present

I have learned over time that whenever I am inspired to teach on a specific topic, I am immediately challenged in my own life by that topic. On one hand that is fantastic, because I have to go through the process; on the other hand it is challenging to go through the process! 

In the past few months I have given experiential presentations on Death and Rebirth, Love, Sex, Power and Money, a 40 Day Yoga and Ayurveda Immersion, and I am preparing for several presentations on Mindfulness focusing on breath and sensation and the influences of the five senses on physical, emotional and mental well-being. 

The benefits I have received from the process are, a deeper sense of gratitude and appreciation for the wisdom within Yoga, Ayurveda, and Shamanism. I would say I started to take some or possibly most of the knowledge for granted; and then I found irritation and doubt creeping into my work and my personal connection to the studies. 

Thankfully the work, works! I am happy to report a renewed vigor in my personal practice, and that is directly influencing my professional work. Being present with my own process: the good the bad and the ugly; I think that is the best any of us can do.

40-day immersion begins in January

Start 2014 with a challenge; practice yoga and immerse yourself in ayurveda for 40 days and observe what happens! Details are available here!

Therapist or Coach?

Who would you prefer to work with a therapist or a coach? What is the difference between the two in your experience?

Working in a mental health counseling cooperative I have found this to be an interesting question; we often ask our staff why some people don't come in for assistance! The inquiry for today is: what are your current belief systems about seeing a therapist, seeking counseling, asking for professional advice, asking for a critique, asking for coaching? How did you develop your beliefs; through personal experience, or through the experience related to you by other people who went for therapy, counseling, or coaching?

Do you have any stigmas about being seen going into a mental health office? What is the basis for your stigma: fear, disgrace, embarrassment, failure, pride, arrogance, stubbornness? If you really needed and wanted to make a life change could/would you risk that emotional stigmatic expectation, and step forward? 

Personally I have found it challenging to ask for any help before I really need it; which means until I am in deep do-do! I have learned that it is a good idea to ask for help before, during, and sometimes after a personal, or professional project is initiated.

Unite the Tribes!

I love the movie Avatar; to overcome an invading culture, the planetary tribes must unite. Our human tribe needs to unite if globally we are going to prosper and not simply survive the next 100 years. Instead of considering all human beings as one tribe working together to make a more healthy and vibrant world, we have been forced into a fractioned community of individuals banded together for periods of time where we can survive and possibly thrive. Returning to a view of a one human tribe that cares for each other regardless of the many labels that we use to separate ourselves into distinct groups is necessary. What tribe(s) are you part of? You may not have considered yourself part of a tribe but for this exploration of consciousness allow it to be; what tribe are you in, let's find out!

Are you male or female? Segregation 1

What is your age group? Segregation 2

What is your education level?  Segregation 3

How much money do you earn? Segregation 4

What is your chosen religion? Segregation 5

Happiness

What is your definition of happiness? 

What physical, emotional, and mental state of awareness lets you know that you are happy?

Are you ever happy when your are alone?

Is real happiness contagious? If it is, why are so many people unhappy?


Your Story

You have a "story" you refer too when explaining who you are, what you do, where you have been, and where you are going. 

Have you ever considered "why you need a story?"

Stories are an attempt at expressing your depth of pain and suffering and your return to love. Some stories sustain your essence, some empower, some dis-empower, and all your stories have a beginning and an end. In our western culture when a story ends you are told to write a new story, in the story you have new and improved dreams and goals that are connected with the values of your tribe. Again, the question is: "Why do you need a new, different, improved, enhanced, or any story at all?"

Attachments and Suffering

"Suffering is optional," is what the Buddha has been quoted as saying; and Baron Baptiste loved to say that during yoga teacher training. Suffering can be optional if you know that you create most of your own suffering. You create suffering whenever you chose to look away from love, and focus on greed, jealousy, fear, anger, disgust, shame, envy, and blame. If you feel hurt by someone else's actions you have an expectation, the expectation could be "they should love you." And when they do something that demonstrates they do not love you, you feel pain; physical, emotional, mental, and possibly spiritual pain.

Question-"Why should someone love you?"

Listen to all the chatter that is currently running through your mind. Breath and let it calm down, then read the same question again.

It's a good question! 

Focus on the question, not the endless stream of prepared answers you have stored up, gathered in therapy sessions, read in books, heard on TV or the radio. An answer that will touch you deeply and awaken you, arises from the space between your conditioned responses.