by Edwige Gilbert
(Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal.)
Imagine yourself sitting on the shoreline, with the vast ocean lying just in front of you. You lay upon a beach comprised of an infinite number of seashells, too many to
Bonjour, dear reader! How is your day going? Well, I hope! Only so-so? It's Comme si, Comme ca? Well, things could be worse, right? What's that? They are worse? Oh Mon Dieu. One of those days, is it? Well then, I'm sorry, I truly am. May it pass, may it pass quickly! Things will be better tomorrow, right? Voila, that's the spirit!
While I have your attention, though, a question for you, if you don't mind: did you ever think about the importance of a single day in life? Yes, it's true: it comes and goes all in a blink, but for all its fleetingness, the day is what it's really all about, isn't it? It is the most fundamental, the most natural unit of time we ever experience. There are hours and minutes and seconds, yes, but because a "day" is defined by the rising and setting of the sun, the daytime is elemental. Our minds and our bodies are anchored by it, our lives are made up of it (composed of the many thousands of days we've awakened to, worked through, said good night to…). So you're with me now? Tres bien, dear reader. And have you ever considered how many days there really are? Why, there are legions of them, an entire catalogue: good days, bad days, boring days, days we dread and days we anticipate, days that surprise us, days that terrorize us, days we'll always remember, days we pray we'll one day forget. So yes, my friend, these really are the days of our lives, are they not?
On our good days we count our blessings; on our worst days, we console ourselves with ready-made expressions like "I guess it's going to be one of those days," or, "well, tomorrow is another day." Here's another question for you now, though, dear reader… did you ever wonder why we have the days we have? Is it simply fate, a random accident? What is it that causes us to have the days we have? This is a simple question, but absolutely important, since our days are vitally important to us. Added up and stretched out, our days become our entire lives!
I'm going to surprise you now, perhaps, for I'm going to suggest to you that our days really are ours, that they truly do belong to us, and that ultimately the kinds of days we experience are actually up to us! Yes, things can go wrong, other people and events can make the day difficult, but these external things themselves do not have to mean a bad day… such days become bad days when we allow them to become so, when in our reactions we amplify their difficulty. So how we react is a vital component here. I'm going to go even further, here: I'm going to suggest to you that you can actually become a creator of your days, that it is you, dear reader, who is in control!
So what kind of day would you like to have today, tomorrow, the next day? How about the best days of your life? Okay, you are smiling at me now, aren't you? What is this woman talking about… creating great days? What planet is she from? She's lost it completely! But hang on a moment, sil vous plait! It is possible, I assure you. A great day does not have to be one in a hundred. A great day does not have to be an accident! We don't have to sit idly by and wait for the next one to come down the chute. A great day can be a planned event! Now that's a powerful thought, isn't it! But guess what, my friend, it's true, it's absolutely true. We have the power to create the days of our lives, the greatest days of our lives, and, therefore, great lives! The only sad and surprising thing here is that this is a secret that only a few of us seem to know! We have the power to create the lives we'd like to live, one day at a time. I'm here today to share this secret with you! I'm letting the cat out of the bag. And though this idea might strike you as a little different, a little revolutionary, even, I assure you it is absolutely possible. I've bet my life on it! Come with me now, then, and I'll teach you how to give yourself the simplest and most wonderful gift possible… the greatest day of your life!
The first thing I'd like you to do is to stop reading (though not until the end of this paragraph, okay!). There isn't much we can do about today, because this day's die has been cast. But tomorrow, well you know the expression… tomorrow truly is another day. You've already done the most essential thing you can do today, and that is opening yourself to the possibility that you just might be able to create some better days. That, my friend, is more than a day's work! So let's call it a day then, shall we! Let's agree to meet again in the freshness and possibility of tomorrow's morning. So if you are still with me, dear reader (and I do so hope your are!), put this article down now, ideally somewhere within reach of your bed, and go on and live the rest of your day the best way you know how. But before you go, I want you to promise me that the first thing you'll do upon waking up tomorrow is to reach for this article. You promise? Wonderful! So now I wish you all the best. We'll see you tomorrow, then…
Bonjour! Good morning! You remembered my promise! Magnifique! So how are you feeling this morning? Did you sleep well last night? You're well rested, I hope! Here's another question, a very important one: how are you feeling about what's to come today? Are you looking forward to the day? I certainly hope so!
You've no doubt heard the expression "today is the first day of the rest of your life." Well, guess what… that day has finally arrived! The first and most essential thing for creating the greatest day of your life is thankfulness, for above all things, the day is a gift given to us by the universe. Aren't you glad for this gift of a new day, this chance to begin again? In the movie Groundhog Day, the main character is given the opportunity to relive the same day over and over until he finally gets it right. And do you remember what it takes for him to get it right? A fundamental shift in perspective, that's all! It's a wonderful idea and an amazing movie, but the fact of the matter is that we all have this opportunity! Each day is a gift, an opportunity for all of us to finally get it right. So for this reason, and every other reason you can think of, take a moment now to acknowledge the gift of your life, the gift of others in your life, the gift of your health and well-being. Focus not on what you don't have (or what you might still want), but upon what you do have at this present moment… all the many little things that on previous days you have taken for granted… all the many small blessings that a life contains. You have done so? Wonderful! Now place a smile on your face, and allow the corners of your mouth to lift up towards your ears. This smile is called the "Inner Smile," an ancient Chinese practice that brings a sense of contentment, gratitude, and completion.
Do you have your smile now? Wonderful! Now please smile at this calm, safe moment and the many blessings of your life and declare, "I am happy for the gift of this day in my life. I am happy to be me. My day is filled with infinite possibilities. I am connected to the world of infinite possibilities." Doesn't that feel amazing! Now that you have opened and aligned your mind to the world of infinite possibility, I would like you to turn to the body. Take a moment now to become aware of your breathing, that simple, elemental thing that you do all the time, that you have done all your life, but about which you never think. As you breathe in, feel your lungs expand, becoming aware of the vital organs as they take in fresh, cool air. As you breathe in, say "yes" to new life. Charge each breath with the word "yes." The day is a miracle, and so is the breath! The Chinese call this charged breath "chi," the fundamental energy of life. As your lungs expand, recharge, and renew, your body becomes infused with this life energy, with this chi. Now I'd like you to visualize all the oxygen in each life-giving breath as the color of sparkling golden light. You've done so? Excellent! Now visualize the air you exhale as a smoky gray cloud. In with the golden light, out with those spent gray clouds. Open up your lungs now to take in new choices, new opportunities for joy, enthusiasm, courage, and strength. Your great day begins with great breaths!
You are feeling calm now, aren't you! Wonderful! Calmness is the very foundation of your great day. Now I would like you to keep your awareness of your breath wherever and whenever you can, okay? This is a vital ingredient in the recipe for the greatest day of your life. Return to the breath as often as possible, for awareness of the breath is awareness of life itself.
Here's another vital ingredient of the recipe. Whenever you are assailed by disturbances or agitations of the mind, I need you to use these three powerful words: "Calm… Centered… Connected." These words are magic, my friend, another essential component in the foundation for your amazing day. Repeated over time, they will create a reconditioning of your mind and of your mind's responses to the day's events. These words are an elixir, the key that will unlock the door to a profound calmness of being. You can use them any place and any time you feel a need to return to emotional balance. Say them with me now: "Calm… Centered… Connected." Say them often: on the train, on the bus, in line at the supermarket. "Calm… Centered… Connected."
Now that you are aware of your breath, now that you are experiencing a new calm, let us now turn our attention to the body in order to awaken a deeply rooted and vibrant energetic force that will allow you to become the absolute master of your day. Here we return to the Chinese concept of "chi," the body's vital life force. Here now for you is an ancient but absolutely simple technique for managing your chi, for becoming the managing director of your own energetic system, and for becoming the sole creator of your great day.
I would like to now vigorously tap your head, face, and neck with stiffened, outstretched fingers. Now move down to your arms, torso, legs, and feet. Be vigorous, my friend, for you are awakening your vital, yet dormant life force, your chi! As you awaken it, know that you are also expelling all the stagnant, grey, sluggish chi from your body as well. This may take some faith on your part, but trust that such an ancient and powerful technique does not get passed from generation to generation over thousands of years unless it works—and it does, my friend, it truly does!
So, dear reader, I would like to give you one final but absolutely essential ingredient in the recipe for the greatest day humanly possible… are you willing to learn now how to discover some real treasures with which to fill and fulfill your coming day? I hope so! Allow me now to give you a taste of a delicious little French dish: it's called joie de vivre, and it's the most wonderful recipe for finding and fully experiencing life's most simple joys simply by paying appreciative attention to the ordinary events and moments of the day. Joie de vivre is really just about fostering and encouraging in you a sense of wonder, playfulness, and curiosity about life's little things. Your experience of joie de vivre today will be quite straightforward, actually, but I can assure you that it will lead to some quite fantastic new experiences! This is it, my friend: take a different route to work today. That's all there is to it Simply walk down a street you never or rarely take. If you don't walk to work, take a walk at lunch. Either way, it doesn't matter. As you do so, however, become curious! Forget about work for awhile! Instead, have a look and a listen to the many new sights and sounds that will surround you. This is your Fresh Start! As you walk, try to develop awareness of your physical self in relationship to the physical world. Consider the idea that there is actually a very powerful connection between your feet and the earth, your head and the sky. You might consider that your feet "kiss" the ground that your head "touches" the heavens. Once you have made this essential connection, turn your awareness to some of the people with whom you share the planet… have a good look at them today, my friend! Today they will not be ordinary! What are they actually like (no generalizations, please)? What or who do they remind you of? Develop curiosity about these new people in your life and you will experience some joie de vivre today, I can assure you. Deepen your appreciation for others. Do your best to experience other things and other people in a joyful, curious and appreciative way and you will be well on your way the French art of living a joyful life through joie de vivre!
And so I leave you now, dear reader. Go out and continue to create the rest of the greatest day of your life! Remember its infinite possibility. You have already made an amazing start with your new awareness of your breath, your use of the 3Cs (remember, "Calm… Centered… Connected"), the activation of your vital Chi force, and finally, your new openness to experiencing life's simpler pleasures, which the French call joie de vivre. Remember that this is your day and no one else's! Remember that this day belongs to you! Remember that you are now the master builder, the creator of this day, the next day, and the next day. Finally, please know that whatever happens to you today, victory is yours! Victory to you, dear reader, for in your new willingness, desire, and ability to create the best day of your life, you have surely achieved the greatest victory possible!
Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal. Copyright Llewellyn Worldwide, 2008. All rights reserved.
"Life happens. Life in the flow."
We learn over time that nobody can solve our problems, but someone can guide you how to solve the problem. You may receive guidance through a teacher, a guru or even strangers that you run into every day. As we practice yoga we learn that the more we know, the less we truly know. Every day I am reminded how much I truly do not know; a very humbling experience.
Yoga teaches me to be present. To just live for being and enjoying life as it is right NOW. Not ten minutes from now, no five days ago, but right now. We are taught to get out of our heads, to release worries and fears of the past or the future and to only live for this very moment. Presence.
"Lead me from untruth to truth, lead me from darkness to light." ~ Buddha
Through yoga we are reminded that we do have a dark side as well as a light side. We are not to repress the dark side, but embrace that side of our Self. We are the yin and the yang. We ultimately cleanse the dark stuff we hold inside. We shine the light on this. We must make friends with dark side. Both positive and negative balance out the whole. Daily practice refines and improves our inner vision to see our Self more clearly. We no longer need to run from fears. Face them and say I'm not running from you anymore. So much is in our heads, so much dark is only in our heads, self-doubt judgment betrayal. Yoga grounds the body so that the light and dark sides of ourselves become clear. So much is truly untrue. But as we diligently practice we are able to find the middle ground and walk our centered balanced line in life. We gain balance in centered lightheartedness. We can have harmony in both light and dark.
"Yoga tells us that the world is actually a projection of our own thoughts and we can modify our inner world to manifest into our outer world. When our inside realm is at peace and in harmony, our outer world shines this projection back at us." ~ David, Jiva Mukti Yoga co-founder
Yoga is observation.
We can observe our world and see what part that is in us is begin reflected back to us. We can then see what part of us needs modification or adjustment in order to have our outer reality reflect back to us the peace, happiness and love we so greatly desire and deserve.
Yoga is already inside of you. Happiness is there. Yoga helps you peel away the onion layers to get to the core. To freedom. The deepest Divine connection to the Ultimate Light Source.
Come out of wanting and back into acceptance and Joy. A yogi or yogini can turn any situation into bliss. That is a yogi. Yoga is being now. Ultimate yoga is meditation. Just BE.
Yoga is love.
"Love is the light that dissolves all walls between souls." ~ Paramahansa Yogananda
Through a dedicated practice of all forms of yoga we can participate in the world with a sense of freedom, unaffected from trauma, depression, anger, etc. The freedom is balance in both.
Maggie Anderson is a Yoga & Spiritual Teacher, Reiki Master Teacher, Integrated Energy Therapy® Master Instructor, Soul Coach®, Past Life Coach, Magnified Healing® Master Teacher and Angelights Messenger. She is the author of How I Found My True Inner Peace and Divine Embrace. You can contact Maggie at SpiritualCompassConnection.com.
"Follow Your Bliss. It's Your Spiritual Compass."