Ride the Focused Float

Water is my calming element. Every time I am in it, around it, or watching it my mind instantly tunes into my organic self. I feel free, floating and alive. When I was a kid, my dad signed me up for swim team. Bad idea. I never wanted to get across the lane, I was having such a fantastic time feeling supported by this magical atmosphere. My lap time was probably close to an hour, and getting me out of the pool is exhausting. 

Today, I have things to do and a big project I am undertaking to build my own version of home. I still need to find a job, and I have to support myself. I feel the gravity of my situation as the shadow side of my freedom. Imagine that same swimming pool but filled with molasses. Or, just when you feel the most connected in the water, another kid holds your head down. Or even worse, tries to pull you out because everyone else is heading home. 

Why doesn’t the world let us stay where everything feels good? Why are we constantly encouraged to leave our freedom behind because everyone else tells you it’s time to grow up? Why is the struggle towards floating a constant FIGHT???

I dream of being a woman in balance: floating in the atmosphere of her element but so focused that even if all the water were to drain out of the pool she would still feel light – airy in her own atmosphere. Untouchable. Free. 

The mind is your focused float. Start there. Your body is your conscious balance in that float. Keep going towards that delight. Your soul will emerge from those two feeling good. Be good to them. Be good to yourself.

May you float free and focused. May you find your element. May you feel joy, always. 

Sat Nam

The Mind, The Student, The Power of Habit

Imagine your thoughts as a community college student. They go to school, and the majority of their life is spent growing pathways of knowledge into growth. The mind has been given an opportunity to expand itself, gain social mobility and become a contributing member of the larger world.

But like most community college students? The mind has hobbies. Distractions from what is really important. Some extracurricular activities that don’t really serve the larger goal of whole life education.

So you take your pot-smoking, netflix-watching, class-ditching, binge drinking thoughts and what do you do?

Replace old attentions with new ones. Find the mechanism for each old thought and welcome a new way of thinking. 

One of my favorite books of the last few years has been The Power of Habit : Why We Do What We Do in Life and Buisiness. In this book, Charles Duhig outlines our mind’s underlying connection to our habits and breaks it down in three steps.

From "The Power of Habit", The Habit Feedback Loop

From “The Power of Habit”, The Habit Feedback Loop

Say our college student is going into finals week. He has to be out late studying. Since he doesn’t study, his mind goes to the exact same thought pattern the last time he crammed for finals. Red Bull. He has drank so much Red Bull in the past during finals week that it is ingrained as symbiotic with studying.  That would be his visual cue. Finals + Late Night Studying =Red Bull. Not only that, but he also has a cue of the kiosk next to the library, which is the same place he bought a Red Bull the last time he forgot to study.

Then we enter routine. Drink Red Bull. Study several hours. He moves through his routine and pattern and doesn’t even think about how he came to this choice. It’s no coincidence that most habit-forming addictions come from places called “convenience stores”. The mind is lazy. When making decisions, it will choose routine every time out of convenience as a way to expend less energy.

Finally, we have the reward phase. Sugar high. Seven hours of energy. An overnighter spent cramming semesters worth of knowledge into one evening.

The one thing I find absolutely crucial in this book, and something that I consider every time I focus my attention on habits is this : this cue and reward system cannot be changed, it can only be replaced with alternate cues and rewards.

Say our college student has made it to the last semester. He no longer has school, but now he is working at Save Mart to pay off student loans while he finds a job. Does he go to the Red Bull whenever there is an early morning job, or has he learned from the constant shaking and does he switch to juice or tea?

This week, I am trying to change one pathway involving my yoga practice. For the past months, I have been trying to get up at 5:30 every morning to do my daily Sadhana. It’s been a struggle. So what do I do, when faced with a pathway that doesn’t have a cue in place yet? Change the cue.

When I wake up, the first thing I do will be my practice. Before I answer any email, look on Facebook or eat breakfast, I am going to hit the mat this week.

Have I been successful? Not entirely. Am I giving up? Hell no.

May you commit to change one small pathway in your practice of life this week. May all of your unconscious habits benefit a life that is healthy, happy and whole. May you look at your habits with love, and look to change the ones that don’t serve your love. May you move forward, even in the dark.

Sat Nam

Onions and Sacred Meanings – Ganzheitlichkeit

I have been obsessed lately with eating large amounts of onions. Yellow, golden onions that I grill with tumeric and olive oil, the smell so warm and welcoming I lose myself in watching the alchemy. As I type this, my mouth is watering as I’m thinking of flashing on a sauce or seven on top of warm and crispy pile of those babies. 

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The health benefits of onions are many, rich in fiber they have high volumes of fiber and sulfur. Not only does it assist with blood and cholesterol levels, but also may inhibit tumor growth and colon cancer. 

But more importantly, the onion is representative of the philosophical idea of Ganzheitlichkeit, or holism. The idea that the total being is what needs help when seeking spiritual enlightenment. Physical, Psychological, Social, all total aspects add up to the total self and when they are in balance create a sense of well being. The thick layers at the top are the skin, and every single layer beneath adds to the total volume of our capacity for self. 

Last week, I found the most beautiful onion at the grocery store. Fat, with the thin skin around it ripe and delicious looking. When I got home, I found the onion had absolutely no core, but a flimsy tuber that was purple and loose inside the first three layers. 

In the Aquarian age, more people are seeking wisdom of the total self. It is normal to feel like that onion, that every exterior part of you is rich and fat and healthy, but the core feels undeveloped. The inside feels like it needs work and in truth, that is where we need to start. But where is the best place to start?

Your mind, body, spirit are layers of self mastery that take several lifetimes to achieve. Don’t be discouraged if you feel rotten at the core at first. Practice. Learn to love all the layers of yourself and explore different parts of them. As you get better, you will feel stronger. 

The discipline of peeling back the layers is a difficult journey, but the results are so worth working through it. 

May your inside core be fat and healthy as you pursue your path and destiny. May you feel at home in yourself first so you may serve others. May you eat well, be well, live well, love well. May you be like an onion in bloom, rich with layers of prosperity and seed wisdom. May your sens of Ganzheitlichkeit be formed from the core of who you are. May you be happy, healthy and whole. 

Sat Nam

PS – My favorite recipe for onions lately. Enjoy!

Ganzheitlichkeit Salad by Nam Joti 

1 Cup Spinach (For use as Salad Base)
1 Yellow Onion
A few spoonfuls of Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Tumeric
3 Tbsp Hummus
2 Tbsp Chopped Almonds
Trader Joe’s Goddess Dressing

Cut onions into long pieces and grill with olive oil over medium heat. Sprinkle tumeric over onions and cook unitil onions are grilled and golden. Remove onions from stove and pour over bed of spinach on a plate. Add hummus and almonds on top, then as much dressing as you want. YUM!!!