Friday, November 30, 2012

The Four Desires

I just kind of breezed over the fact that I read this book without ever really mentioning what it's about, didn't I? There I go again...

To reenforce my learnings from it—and of course to prove to you all that I actually did read it—here's a synopsis in 5 bullets or less (after all, this is a blog post, not a book report):
  • The Four Desires is a book by Rod Stryker, who is a teacher of my yoga teacher, Ben. He is the founder of ParaYoga, the style of yoga that I primarily practice.

  • By reading through and completing the exercises and meditations that Rod leads you through, the book helps you to uncover your dharma (in short: your purpose). *Does it sound crazy to you that you can figure this out from a book? Don't be so skeptical*

  • The exercises have you do things like write your personal Dharma Code (the individual expression of your soul's purpose) and draft a Sankalpa (a chosen resolution/goal to be achieved in the short term), both of which have since become the sort of, "north stars" of my life.
  • Then, he gives you tools to achieve your Sankalpa (like my personal favorite, yoga nidra), and methods to overcome your self-defeating ideas and behavior (which of course, we all have).
  • And bullet #5? I could keep going, but I think the first four should give you the gist of it.
A few of my favorite quotes:

"The term dharma is often thought to be synonymous with profession. People often tell me, "I don't know what my dharma is," but what they really mean is that they haven't yet found the career or line of work that they believe will make them the happiest. Dharma does include what you do for a living, but it addresses more than that: it is about discovering your soul's innate and unique mission or purpose."

"The Creation Equation states that when the intensity of desire, or shakti, plus the intensity of the energy you direct toward achieving it, or vayu, is greater than the intensity of resistance, or karma, it equals attainment of your desire, or prapti".

"What yoga does is to help you remove what stands in the way of your being the bright light and powerful force that you really are."

"One of the underlying teachings of the Bhagavad Gita is that the purpose of yoga is to make the unconscious conscious. It may occur to you to ask why anyone would want to do this, especially if you are under the impression that the unconscious is little more than an endless supply of repressed memories and self-defeating beliefs. The answer is that the yoga tradition teaches that this is only part of the story, that the unconscious includes everything you are not aware of, not just the negative material but some things that are wholly positive."

"For intuition to grow as a force in your life, you have to learn to honor it. One form of neglect is not taking the time to hear it; the other is ignoring what it is telling you to do. This means that for your inner voice to become an increasingly powerful presence, you have to act on its vision."

"Throughout the course of your life, your psyche, holding the causes or seeds of your past, leads you through myriad events, which will lead you to a predetermined fate. It does this by responding to your deepest, most powerful desires and putting you in exactly the right circumstances in which those desires, regardless of whether they are in alignment with your conscious desire, can be materialized."

"Let the wisdom and love in your heart show you what and who you really are, then let it guide you. Present your heart with a vision of what you know it longs for and it will help you fulfill the aspirations that have been in it all along."

You guys still there? Sorry, that did turn into a bit of a book report. To sum it up: Two 12MOL Thumbs Up.

And now I will spend the remainder of my night reading Lost, which I picked up at Barnes & Noble yesterday for a mere $27, eek...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

3 (practically) Down, 1 To Go

Let me start by saying that when I set my original goal to finish Fierce Medicine and The Four Desires (2 books I had already started) within the first week of this challenge,  I hadn't actually checked to see how far along I was in each—a minor oversight. I thought I remembered being about half way through each of them, so I rationed that combined, It'd be like I was reading 1 book in a week instead of 2, right? Totally wrong.

When I finally picked them back up, I was faced with how little I had actually read in each (somewhere around the 50 page mark), so getting through those 2 took a bit longer than expected. Because of this, I decided that I'd reset my reading expectations for the month and stick to finishing 4 books instead of 5 (and perhaps at least starting the 5th if time permits, which I'm pretty sure it won't).

So, where am I at now? Fierce Medicine is done, as is The Four Desires (which I'll post more about later in the week),  and I only have 25 pages left in Julie & Julia, which I practically devoured on my post-Thanksgiving trip out to Ann Arbor to visit Dan's family. I'll give a full review after I've officially checked it off the list, but so far, I've enjoyed it quite a bit—which doesn't really surprise me considering it's about a girl who started a blog about a personal challenge that subsequently got her a book deal. Oh, dreams…

But now off to finish those last 25 pages, and then tomorrow to pick up a copy of my 4th and final book, Wild by Cheryl Strayed, which I will furiously read for the remainder of the week.

Packing essentials...

Reunited with my big, fat cat baby

Thursday, November 22, 2012

My Thanksgiving Homework

Now that Fanne and I are home from our Thanksgiving linner at Grammy's house (yes, you read that right, I brought my cat to my grandmother's house for Thanksgiving), it's time to get in a little bookworm homework before bed.

Earlier in the week I set some reading goals for myself (in the form of neon post-its) in order to stay on track, and since I'm a little behind—oops, I did it again—it's time to crack open The Four Desires and get to it.

Wishing a happy Thanksgiving to all, and a happy first Black Friday working retail to me tomorrow, eek...

Monday, November 19, 2012

From My Permanent Collection...

See, I've read a book or 2 in my day (and filled up a few sketchbooks and photo albums):

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My "Readers Choice" Pick

You guys are the best...

So, as you remember, in addition to the books I've personally chosen to read this month, I also asked for suggestions from all of you on what to read for book #5. Here are some of the recommendations I received:

Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert (already read it and of course totally loved it)
Memoirs of a Geisha, by Arthur Golden (already read it)
Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver (I have a memory of starting this one a long time ago and never finishing it).
The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini (already read it)
Wild, by Cheryl Strayed
Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak
The Night Circus, by Erin Morgernstern
The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick
Age of Miracles, by Karen Thompson Walker

After a teeny bit of deliberation, I've decided to read Wild, by Cheryl Strayed. I decided on this one mainly because multiple people recommeded it, but also because it sounds pretty awesome. A close second was The Night Circus, by Erin Morgernstern, but my friend Ashley (the one who suggested it) said that it's great on audio book so I might go that route.

Sooooo, thanks guys! And feel free to give me more book suggestions so I can add them on goodreads (which I literally signed up for 5 minutes ago). Are you on goodreads? Let's be friends, I'm: danned

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fierce Medicine = Done! (and a few more words of wisdom from Ana)

Fourteen days in and I've officially finished book one of my challenge: Fierce Medicine by Ana Forrest. Yes, I know, I have a little catching up to do, but I'm hoping I'll be able to breeze through a book or two next week during my Thanksgiving travel time (maybe I'll even challenge myself to keep it analog in the airport. iLike that idea).

So, as for the book—I thought it was great. If you're into yoga you'll probably dig it, if you're not, it has the potential to totally weird you out. She goes pretty far out there (if you know what I mean), and I was totally into it, but I love stuff like that. Anyways, if you're local and you're interested, I can certainly lend you my copy. Two 12 Months of Lent thumbs up!

Here are my last few favorite passages/quotes from the second half of the book:

From the teachings of White Buffalo Calf Woman:

Friends do it this way—that is,
whatever you do in life,
do the very best you can
with both your heart and mind. 
And if you do it that way, 
the Power of the Universe
will come to your assistance,
if your heart and mind are in Unity.
When one sits in the Hoop of the People,
one must be responsible because
All of Creation is related. 
And the hurt of one is the hurt of all. 
And the honor of one is the honor of all. 
And whatever we do affects everything in the universe. 
If you do it that way—that is, if you truly join your heart and mind
as One—whatever you ask for,
that's the Way It's Going to Be. 

" (I) Use this question to judge the correctness of my actions: Does it brighten or dim my spirit?"

"Tears drain our wounds, which can then dry out and heal."

"Sing until you feel empty or charged. Move those stuck emotions. Give voice to your heart, Spirit, longing, grief. Even if your voice is scratched or broken, singing gives that part of you a voice, and that is healing and empowering. It can also be wicked fun."

And I'll leave you with this photo of the best chapter title ever:

Up Next: Finishing up The Four Desires by Rod Stryker (and then on to some non-yoga books, I promise).

Friday, November 9, 2012

Words of Wisdom from Ana Forrest

First of all, this lady's a riot—a very wise and spiritual riot. In between telling stories from her horrific childhood and her path to healing through yoga, I've really enjoyed her unabashed way of looking at absolutely everything in life.

Here are a few of my favorite Ana Forrest "words of wisdom" from her book so far:

"I encourage you to take this wild and exciting path of Truth Speaking because it's unfathomably rich. It's also risky. But what are you risking? All the facades that make your life dull and boring and complacent. By speaking the truth, we learn the difference between our authentic self and our facade. If we put our little masked self out there, the horror is that other people might accept and end up making love to it, while we starve and die of neglect behind it. It's much richer to interact genuinely with the world."

"A lot of our culture's Judeo-Christian beliefts are conditioned against desire. We're taught that to make ourselves so-called better people, we must behave altruistically, which in this case means always putting others first and neglecting our own desires. A lot of us are taught this so we better fit into the fabric of society. No wonder we have so much difficulty discerning our heart's desire; we have to cut through a lot of well-intentioned yet stupid teaching to find out what it is. But if we learn to follow our heart's desire and can get through the initial blowback, if we're taught to follow our Spirit's calling, how could that not be a tremendous gift to our family and community? Yes, sometimes following our heart's desire leads us into some crazy-ass places, but that's just part of it."

"Meditation is simply a way to shift the gears of the mind. We think a lot. And we think that's the only gear that the brain has, but it's more like first gear in a six-gear car. Many people think the goal of meditation is to shut down the mind. Not so; that just sets you up for war. Meditation is about exploring and teaching your mind to do something different; that's much more friendly than saying, 'I'm gonna shut you up!' It's not about putting yourself to sleep; it's about awakening, especially awakening parts of you that have never been asked to awaken before."

"We have the same problem in our culture as we do in our bodies: we take in too much that's non-nutritive, whether it's junk food or junk information, and we attempt to be fed by it. We pour in so much information, so much food, and our bodies and minds and emotions get constipated, clogged, overloaded. What the hell is an energy drink, and what is our cell tissue going to do with it? Of the information we take in, how much of it can we actually live on and how much is crap? There's nothing wrong with crap, but it's an end product. Literally: eat shit and die".

And this is only from the first 133 pages, I can only imagine what's in store for the next 127...

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

My Tuesday Afternoon

What my Tuesday afternoon looks like, alternating between these 2 books:

p.s. Happy Election Day! Did you vote yet? This little Lenter cast her vote first thing this morning. Polls are open until 8pm so get out there if you haven't yet!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

November's Lent: Be a Bookworm

When it's time to pick my Lent for the month, I first look to see if there's something obvious I should do:
Is there something lacking in my life at the moment? 

Is there something I've been meaning to get done but haven't made time for?

When I asked myself this at the end of October, the answer came pretty quickly: Put frankly, I've been totally sucking at reading lately.

For the last few months, sitting down with a good book has fallen to the bottom of my priority list. And if I'm being honest here…I can't even remember the last book I finished. Not good. Plus, I've developed this terrible habit of starting a book, getting about half way through, putting it down, and then starting a new one before finishing the old one. What this looks like for me is a nightstand piled high with a year's worth of half read books. Again, not good.

So, this month I'm embarking on a reading challenge. My (lofty) goal is to read one book per week. Here's the breakdown:

Week 1: I'm going to finally finish 2 of the books I've been working on for quite some time. Book 1: The Four Desires, by Rod Stryker, and Book 2: Fierce Medicine, by Ana Forest (or, yoga book 1 and yoga book 2).

Week 2: Julie & Julia, by Julie Powell. As someone who clearly loves personal challenges, it's shocking that I haven't read this one yet. Anyone have a copy I could borrow?

Week 3: I'm going to be good little lulu and read one of the suggested books from our lululemon library: The Leadership Pipeline, by Ram Charam.

Week 4: Readers choice! That's right, I'm looking for suggestions from all of you for what to read, so please leave a comment and let me know what your "must reads" are (keep in mind I only have a week too, so no epic 800 page novels with tiny type please).

And I'm off for a little Sunday night reading...