Simple Things

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Funny, the more yoga I do, the less I
have to say about it. More accurately, what comes out of my mouth and
my head/heart gets simpler as my practice matures.

I am less concerned than ever about
where I place my mat in class, what I’m wearing, whether or not
I’ll ever do a handstand without a wall (OK, I still dream about
this one), and whether home practice is better than class. I have
cared deeply about every one of these, but they’re receding in the
rear view mirror, if you know what I mean.

What I do contemplate now, on and off
the mat, are things like this:

Open is better than closed. Open body,
open mind, open heart. Not always easier, but always preferable.

Discomfort goes away when I don’t
meet it with resistance. (Tight hips are one thing. “Oh my god,
these hips are killing me, why won’t they let go, I’ll never be
able to do a stinking King Pigeon” is resistance.)

My body knows what it wants. This is
more important than any outside advice.

Pushing doesn’t work. Google
Sisyphus.

Accepting what is grants me immediate
freedom. All of a sudden my head is 90 percent quieter.

Judging me or anyone else is a colossal
misuse of energy and erodes everything I love about myself and my
life.

Courage and trust are the best
companions ever. Feed them well.

Joy makes me healthy.

And as always, love wins.

Is it getting simpler for you? Or more complex? I’d
love to hear.

Thanks to yoga for keeping it simple.
Thanks very much to you for the conversation,

kristin

Dr.
Kristin Shepherd is a chiropractor, actor, and speaker (About All
Things Wonderful) in North Bay, Ontario.  Join her on the 
web,
on 
Facebook,
on 
Twitter,
and on 
iTunes.

Posted in freedom, heart, pigeonpose, Yoga | 1 Comment

What Matters in Class

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Earlier this week a friend called and
mentioned she’d convinced a group of coworkers to do an introductory yoga
series. She offered to attend the classes with them, only to discover
that, “there’s no other way to say this, the teacher is really
b*&^%y! I have to help them recover after each class!”

Another friend goes to a studio where
the teachers tell you where you can and cannot place your mat
according to your skill level. No kidding.

This morning I arrived early for a teaching gig and walked in on 80 women, mostly seniors, doing yoga. Sun Salutations adapted for seniors, using chairs. The entire room was laughing. I heard fart jokes. The overwhelming impression was one of relaxed happiness and no shortage of love.

It makes me realize how short life is and how important
culture is to me.

I admire the teachers who amaze us with technique, strength, and flexibility. No question, I’m inspired by that.

I appreciate charisma, organizational
skills, the occasional push, humor, and broad knowledge.

But I don’t go back if it doesn’t
feel warm. I want enough love and openness in the room that I can
feel good in there whether or not I feel great about myself, my body,
or my day. I want so much warmth in the room that it reminds me that I have a heart and that my heart is being taken care of. (Not asking for much!)

The warm fuzzy thing isn’t for everyone, though.

What do you need in the room?
Intelligence? Quiet? Edge? Progress? Community? I’d love to hear. What quality is most important to you in a class?

Thanks to yoga for being so varied that
we can all find our place. Thanks to the beautiful women doing Sun Salutations today.

Thanks to you for the conversation,

kristin

Dr.
Kristin Shepherd is a chiropractor, actor, and speaker (About All
Things Wonderful) in North Bay, Ontario.  Join her on the 
web,
on 
Facebook,
on 
Twitter,
and on 
iTunes.

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Happy Side Effects

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We can talk for days about what the
central point of meditation is. It’s possible that it’s different
for each of us.

For me, there’s no question. It’s
a lifelong discovery process of looking more and more deeply into who I am, what is truth, and what remains when I let go of everything. It’s the digging of that well,
and the absolute, flat-out joy that results from the digging.

The rest are just happy side effects.

During a daily practice, we train our
focus. If we didn’t, I’d spend my 30-60  minutes
thinking of better ways to stop my dog from eating disgusting, rotten
food off the street, or wondering what I’m going to do with the
rest of my life, or being frustrated that I still can’t do a
headstand in the middle of the room. You know, really important
stuff.

Training my focus is like using my
camera.

My camera comes almost everywhere with me. It
just feels better than cursing myself for not bringing it, which is
what happens every time I leave it at home.

Why do I take it everywhere? Because
beautiful, surprising things show up every place I go.

Here’s the thing, though. I point the
camera to the left, and all I see is morning traffic. I point it to
the right and zoom in, and I see a gorgeous pairing of chairs, one
for a kid, one for an adult, which makes my eyes well up, thinking of
love and parenting and the wise words that come from kids’ mouths.

Untrained focus is like a camera that
just swings all over the place. No sense of purpose, no sense of direction, at the whim of whatever honks loudest in your life. Lousy pictures. Trained focus is a camera that looks
where you choose to look.

Beyond photography, trained focus means
that I can either see the 3,000 random realities in front of my face: dog woofing
cigarette butts for all I know, my head hurting a bit, my inadequate
headstand, loud traffic. Or I can decide to focus on the truths I find beautiful: dog is alive and well, I am extraordinarily healthy
overall, I can do headstands and handstands against a wall and I
learn more every day, and traffic means that people are going places,
the world is humming, all is well.

Focus means that I fill my head and my
energy with the thoughts that do me good.

Again, this is a side effect of
meditation for me, but with side effects this good, isn’t it worth
a few minutes of your morning?

Thanks to yoga for training more than
our bodies.

Thanks to you for the conversation,

kristin

Dr.
Kristin Shepherd is a chiropractor, actor, and speaker (About All
Things Wonderful) in North Bay, Ontario.  Join her on the 
web,
on 
Facebook,
on 
Twitter,
and on 
iTunes.  

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Spending Time With the Whole

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We talked last time about meditation
being like digging a well, except that the digging is more like
successive letting go, and with each letting go, we sink a little
deeper until we reach the wholeness of who we are, that joy place,
that place where there are no problems, there are no questions to
answer. If you’ve been there, you know what I mean. It’s who we
are.

It is not, however, where most of us
spend our days. Instead, we spend some part of the day with deadlines (what a horrifying word!),
timelines, family-lines, walk-the-dog-lines, not to mention all the
bogus insecurities and the bogus insecurity camouflages (clothes,
hair, makeup, cars, houses, titles …) that are also not who we are. 

So the benefit of spending morning time
with the greater part of me, the most whole and most holy place, is this:

I know myself to be huge and loving and
safe no matter what, so open and huge that the world and its
vicissitudes float right through me. When I open my eyes after a dose
of this, the life stuff that used to affect me–the money worries,
the body worries, the driving part of achievement, the heaps of time I spend
in the future and past–all of that is stripped naked and looks a bit
more ridiculous than it did before I closed my eyes. 

This change of perspective from surface to roots, to core truth, makes me less reactive, more patient, braver, and more useful in the world.

That’s gold for me.

Is this your experience? Does it sound
worth sitting for a few minutes each morning? (My not-so-secret goal
is to talk about how delicious this is until you fall in love with it
too.)

Thanks to yoga for not taking my surface definition of reality too seriously.

Thanks to you for the conversation,

kristin

Dr.
Kristin Shepherd is a chiropractor, actor, and speaker (About All
Things Wonderful) in North Bay, Ontario.  Join her on the 
web,
on 
Facebook,
on 
Twitter,
and on 
iTunes.

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Digging the Whole

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It’s like digging a well every
morning. I breathe my way down through layers of restlessness, distracted focus, speedy thinking and 50 other kinds of discomfort.
Sometimes this takes two minutes. Sometimes the entire practice is
the digging, although the digging is more like continued letting go.

On the other end of this letting go is a huge
opening which I sort of fall into (this may be different for each of
us) as though I have traveled through a wormhole to some other place.

The great joke is that by the time I
arrive there, I understand–no, I know–that I am actually
here, that I have arrived back home. That, in fact, I never left, but was a bit distracted by my mind waving its frantic hands in front
of my eyes.

The beauty of this is that every
morning, or most mornings, I spend time in the hugeness of what I really am, or Love, Truth, Heaven, Joy, Grace, Silence, Infinite, Whole. Impossible to
put in words, but I keep trying for fear that leaving a blank page
for you won’t do the trick. Perhaps it’s enough to say that these
words point to what we are underneath without wrapping it up too tightly.

Again this sounds woo-woo, but it
isn’t. It is the palpable reality of meditation.

And what if this isn’t your
experience? If you haven’t experienced the huge bliss place?

Then you’re digging. Have a little
faith, just for the short while it takes to meet your resistance on
the way home. Meeting our resistance and being willing to sit with it
rather than run from it is the trip of self-discovery, and we might as well enjoy the
trip.

Has this been your experience? Are you
digging?

Thanks to yoga for bringing us home
over and over and over. Thanks to you for the conversation,

kristin

Dr.
Kristin Shepherd is a chiropractor, actor, and speaker (About All
Things Wonderful) in North Bay, Ontario.  Join her on the 
web,
on 
Facebook,
on 
Twitter,
and on 
iTunes.

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Light Passing Through

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“You are already naked. There is no
reason not to follow your heart.”

This is Steve Jobs, of course, in his now-famous 2005 commencement speech at Stanford University.

During meditation, if we’re
fortunate, we experience a kind of life-altering nakedness that
permanently affects our perspective about what we are and what we are
not.

What it feels like to me is the
dissolving of my body. By the end of morning practice, my
understanding is that I’m a body of energy that happens to be
passing through this less significant physical body.

It’s a feeling that stays through the day. On a good day, I see everyone around me as the same kind of
energy, and we feel like family. 

One of the best consequences of
this shift in perspective is that it makes me brave. When I know myself to be
light passing through this day, I lose my fear of failure (light
can’t fail), of humiliation, and of rejection. I lose my
small-minded need for security.

I follow my heart more easily.

I don’t know whether Steve Jobs
meditated. This is important, because meditation itself is not the
point, any more than my physical practice of yoga is the point.

Freedom is the point. Waking up and
discovering who we are is the point. Recognizing that we’re part
of all that is, is the point. Living bravely from that perspective is
the point.

It just happens that meditation and
practice on the mat are excellent signposts saying, “Hey! You beautiful smacking whack of radiant light, you! Look this way! Here you are!”

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks to Steve Jobs for the reminder
that we are light passing through. Thanks to yoga for exactly the
same thing.

Thanks to you, always, for the
conversation,

kristin

Dr.
Kristin Shepherd is a chiropractor, actor, and speaker (About All
Things Wonderful) in North Bay, Ontario.  Join her on the 
web,
on 
Facebook,
on 
Twitter,
and on 
iTunes.

Posted in stevejobs, Yoga | Tagged | Leave a comment

Light Passing Through

“You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”

This is Steve Jobs, of course.

During meditation, if we’re fortunate, we experience a kind of life-altering nakedness that permanently affects our perspective about what we are and what we are not.

What it feels like to me is the dissolving of my body. By the end of morning practice, my understanding is that I’m a body of energy that happens to be passing through this less significant physical body.

It’s a feeling that stays through the day. On a good day, I see everyone around me as the same kind of energy, and we feel like family.

One of the best consequences of this shift in perspective is that it makes me brave. When I know myself to be light passing through this day, I lose my fear of failure (light can’t fail), of humiliation, and of rejection. I lose my small-minded need for security.

I follow my heart more easily.

I don’t know whether Steve Jobs meditated. This is important, because meditation itself is not the point, any more than my physical practice of yoga is the point.

Freedom is the point. Waking up and discovering who we are is the point. Recognizing that we’re part of all that is, is the point. Living bravely from that perspective is the point.

It just happens that meditation and practice on the mat are excellent signposts saying, ‘Hey! You beautiful smacking whack of radiant light, you! Look this way! Here you are!”

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks to Steve Jobs for the reminder that we are light passing through.

Thanks to you, always, for the conversation,

kristin

Posted in blog | Tagged , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Meditation For Real Life: Love

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“If we have no peace, it is because
we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”

This quote is from Mother Teresa, apparently. I’m
wary when I read things attributed to her. I often wonder
whether it’s really Bob at the liquor store, who, in an inspired but insecure moment, came up with something really beautiful that he wanted to
share. Bob doesn’t trust himself, at the deepest level, to
be unique or worthy, to have quote-spreading clout, so he puts
MT’s name on the idea, hoping others will now enjoy it.

Bob might love meditating.

Why? Because with every sitting (or
standing or lolling, whatever your method is), we sink through layers
and layers of our “not enough”s: I’m not smart enough,
adventurous enough, wealthy enough, young or old enough, creative
enough, altruistic enough, quote-worthy enough, and on and on.

It’s not as though we look these
things in the face as we meditate, it’s more that they soften and
eventually slough off with practice. Over time we learn who we are not, and let that go.

At the same time, we sink gradually
into what we are: compassion, love, peace, hugeness, trust in what
is, connectedness with everything.

These sound like woo-woo lightweight
absurdities. They aren’t. They are the palpable realities that show
up when I sit still long enough to get beneath the chatter-brain.

And when I get down there, one of the
things that becomes evident is that capital-L-Love is what I’m made
of, what every cell is packed to bursting with, and when I open my
eyes, everyone and everything I see is made of the same stuff.
The world, including the parts of it I was not thrilled with before, becomes almost unbearably beautiful. At that point I
understand myself to be enormously worthy and “belonging to each
other” in the most intimate way imaginable.

In this context of Love (or whatever you call it when you get inside), two seemingly opposite things show up. The need to be unique or special disappears. The simplicity of who I am is enough. At the same time, Love moving through me, or me meeting the world with Love, matters more than ever.

That’s what I want to
tell Bob at the liquor store, or the grocery clerk who won’t meet
my eyes, or my friend who feels awkward about teaching yoga for the
first time. We’re gems, all of us.

Is this your experience with meditation?

Thanks to Mother Theresa or to Bob,
both of whom are worthy and indispensable. Thanks to yoga for being all about union of body, mind, and spirit.

Thanks, always, to you for the
conversation,

kristin

Dr.
Kristin Shepherd is a chiropractor, actor, and speaker (About All
Things Wonderful) in North Bay, Ontario.  Join her on the
web,
on
Facebook,
on
Twitter,
and on
iTunes.

Posted in motherteresa, Yoga | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Meditation And Real Life – One Minute of Peace

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It’s been a wonderful, crazy month: auditions, filming, workshops, a cabin in the middle of nowhere, speaking for beautiful groups of people, and heaps of yoga. It’s easy for meditation to get lost in the kafuffle.

My guess is that you live a similarly kafuffle-y life.

Luckily meditation is portable and can be done anywhere you can breathe. Meaning anywhere and everywhere until you’re dead. Perhaps you can do it then, too, for all I know, but I’ll speak from my own experience.

This morning I practiced in bed. Yesterday, on my living room floor. On the weekend I meditated in the middle of the night while visiting my dad, whose snoring shook my molars. I can do it anywhere.

I don’t have time, we say.

I can’t motivate myself, we say.

I can’t shut my mind up, we say.

Because I’m certain the planet becomes a healthier, more loving, peaceful place with every moment of personal peace, I’d like to suggest something to those of you who don’t yet adore meditation enough to spend huge whacks of time sitting cross legged:

You can start with one breath. The closed eye thing just makes it a little easier to detach from the attention-grabbing world around you. There’s no rule that says you have to close your eyes or sit cross legged or chant om. These are all options, like leather seats or the electric bum warmers that we have in our cars in Northern Ontario, but which may not suit you at all.

Pause for one minute, and focus on your breath, on the way it feels in your body, in your nose. When the thought that it’s fall and you’ll need those bum warmers soon enters your head, gently take your focus back to your breath. Do the same thing with the next 14 thoughts that enter your mind. No resistance at all. Thoughts are simply doing what thoughts do, but my decision for this minute is to return each time to my breath.

A one-minute meditation practice. By the end of that minute, you may not have found lasting peace, but you have turned yourself in its direction. The rest is practice, and every single one of us who owns a mat is familiar with practice.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, whether you’re new at this or you’re someone who has adored meditation for a lifetime.

Thanks to yoga for offering us so many ways to be present.

Thanks to you for the conversation,

kristin

Dr. Kristin Shepherd is a chiropractor, actor, and speaker (About All Things Wonderful) in North Bay, Ontario.  Join her on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on iTunes.

Posted in Yoga | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Meditation For Life – Training Thought

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A friend called this morning, unable to tear her thoughts away from an all-consuming problem in her life. She wanted help.

Here’s a reason to meditate.

Unable to tear her thoughts away? That’s a bit like me going to yoga class and being unable to tear myself out of Downward Dog.

This sounds ridiculous, but it isn’t. I love Downward Dog. I find it easier than almost anything that comes before or after during a class. It is a familiar place for me. I know it isn’t best practice for me to stay in Downward Dog for the entire day, but I’d do it for an entire class if I had my druthers.

Similarly, my friend knows that staying with lousy thoughts is an easy, seductive rut but isn’t good for her. She comes back to the painful story over and over like an obsessive-compulsive wound-picker who would love nothing better than to be free of herself.

Somehow, we expect to be able to control our bodies – time to brush my teeth (good hands!), time to open the door (good wrist action!), time to move out of Downward Dog (eyes ahead and jump forward) – but not our thoughts. “I can’t help thinking about this,” we say.

But we can. In fact, the moment I notice myself thinking an unwanted thought, I can make a choice to move my thoughts somewhere else, somewhere more loving, more joyous. If my thoughts return to lousy, shmucky, destructive places, I make the choice again. I make that choice 570 times a day if I need to.

This is a practice, just like our yoga on the mat is a practice. Some days I’ll be a genius with it, some days I won’t. Such is humanhood. But the practice works.

Meditation is this practice. It is the practice of letting go of my sticky attachment to thoughts.

Something to contemplate next time I am drawn to fear or worry, next time I judge myself, or you, or my life.

And just another reason to adore meditation.

Thanks to yoga and to meditation’s central place in yoga. I’m so grateful for both.

I’m also grateful to you for being here. Thank you for the conversation,

kristin

Dr. Kristin Shepherd is a chiropractor, actor, and speaker (About All Things Wonderful) in North Bay, Ontario.  Join her on the web, on Facebook, on Twitter, and on iTunes.

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