Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Flipping Your Story Over

Now for something different. I'd like to offer two simple practices that I have found helpful for interrupting stressful, stuck experiences.

The first is what I call "Sky practice." It's very simple. If you're a city or suburban dweller, chances are your eyes are almost always at human level or toward the ground. The human-made landscape around us reinforces this in so many ways. And what I have found is that because my very eyes tend to be fixed on all things human, it's that much harder to let go and experience the spaciousness of the world.

So, sky practice. Deliberately stopping and looking at the sky. Letting the sky fill you, until everything else drops off. Give it a try, especially if you're having a difficult day.

The second practice is also for dealing with challenges, especially those related to rejection, failure, and stuckness. What is it?

Doing inverted yoga poses. It's about flipping the world over, which helps to flip your perspective. I recognized this keenly while doing, which is considered the king of yoga poses. However, any inverted pose can offer you the opportunity to see the world anew. Down dog, for example, is a pretty accessible pose for most people. Uttanasana is another one. Inversions offer physical shifts in the body, which assist the mind in shifting as well.

Do you have any particular practices you do to "flip your current life story over"?

* Photo above is from a yoga program for taxi drivers I highlighted a few months back. You can read more about it here.


Max said...

Hi Nathan,

I came to your blog via other Buddhism-related blogs and know almost nothing about yoga. Now you're making me curious. I don't have enough time or money to plunge in too much, but might like to try dipping a toe in the water. Any ideas for beginners?

Nathan said...

well, yoga journal has some good online material on poses.

check out the yoga sutra to get a sense of the spiritual/philosophical underpinnings.

and I like yoga international magazine for articles on yogic meditation, and forms of breathwork.

Max said...

Thanks. I am definitely interested in the spiritual/philosophical underpinnings, something that would compliment my vipassana practice. I now know I sure don't want to send any of my cash to that Vikram hustler (thanks to your blog).

kevin said...

Like squirrel watching, this is another practice you've mentioned that I regularly practice already.

The South Texas sky has been beautifully blue for the past few months and it's always there, donning an evening wear of sparkling stars and sometimes the broach of the shining moon at night. (this will change with hazy humid summer bearing down but then the sunsets will be spectacular)

No matter what I'm doing, a glance at that beauty puts a smile on my face and brings me back to the moment.

As a sailor, we have a saying "men on land are always looking down, but sailors always look up." it's an interesting observation because it's often true physically and metaphorically. (of course there's also a saying "he who would go to sea for pleasure, would go to hell to pass the time" sometimes the cushion can be like the sea)

In some cultures, bats are viewed as symbols of wisdom because they view the world from another angle.

Thanks for post!

Claudia said...

hi Nathan, the point about staring at the sky is a very good one. I find that especially as the spring comes about and it is easier to come out of the layers of coats suddenly a forgotten sky is there!, good idea.

As per the inversions, yes, I love them, nothing like daily practice...

great post!

Nathan said...

Hey Kevin,

Glad you're still doing the squirrel meditation :) I remember the sky view in North Texas was quite expansive and enjoyable when I was there. Haven't been to the South half of the state before.


Yea, it's funny how spring brings so many reminders with it. I find breathing deeply much easier even.


Darlene said...

I'm not one of those average folks who mostly stare straight ahead. Instead, whenever I'm walking anywhere, I'm constantly perusing the sky, the trees; my entire surroundings, hoping to sight any birds, flowers, decorations on homes or buildings, or anything that I find inwardly rewarding. I even look on the ground--there's so much that most people miss. And during the winters, the beautiful snow-covered trees.

And like Kevin, I find that glancing at the sky, day or night, in every season, brings a smile to my face, and and my heart.

Nathan said...

Hey Darlene,

Speaking of outside, I started the garden this morning. Planted some peas and a few greens. What a beautiful day!