The Approximate Yogi

Conquering life one breath at a time


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Gearing Up for The Approximate Yogi’s First Anniversary!

Hello Lovely Readers,

I can’t believe almost a full year has gone by since I started The Approximate Yogi. It has been such a fun and blessed journey for me. As I reflect over the year, I thought I’d take a few minutes to share with you what I’ve gained from writing the blog.

Then I would love it if you could take a few minutes to share what you have gained. I have a few survey questions below that I would be so grateful if you took a few moments to answer so I can make a better blog in its second year.

My Lovely Little Treasures

A coworker asked me the other day how I found the time to write. I paused for a moment before responding. The time has always found me, whether it was after an exhausting day at work, or a quiet Saturday morning, or a lazy coffee shop afternoon, or, every once in a while, at 3 a.m. when I couldn’t sleep. Once I began this project, the writing always found me. Even when I thought my ideas were all dried up, and especially when I wasn’t planning on writing, an idea came to me that had to be written.

I love that magic. I may be addicted to that magic. So the response that bubbled up to my coworker was, “I’d hate my life if I didn’t write.”

And that’s the simple truth. Throughout most of my life I have dabbled, often with pen and paper, sometimes with paint and paper, or crayon, or needle and thread, in a creative pursuit. Yet the cycle of life leaves me with gaps, sometimes quite large, spaces of time in my life -days, weeks, years, where art just didn’t fit.

I don’t regret the times in my life when there wasn’t anything creative to turn to. I was called away from creativity for good reasons that were a part of my development, and often led to a deepening of my creative sense and purpose once I returned.

But during those times in my life when I didn’t have a creative project in the works, something always felt like it was missing. There was this unnameable empty space. Then I’d rediscover art, and slapping myself on the forehead with a “Duh!” I would remember.

Creating this blog was a big “Duh!” moment for me. It had been a long time since I had done any writing, other than journaling, the occasional poem, and the many many reports I write for work (by the way, I am a speech language pathologist in my day job, in case you were curious, since I tangentially refer to it sometimes). When I decided to start blogging, during a particularly rough time, all of a sudden sunshine came back into my life, colors seemed brighter, the impossible started feeling possible. I remembered again.

I remembered what beauty felt like.

I just read a lovely interview at Copyblogger with writer Elizabeth Gilbert, where she talked about a conversation she’d had with the musician Tom Waits. This is what she said:

Tom Waits told me once that all he does, as a songwriter, is make ‘jewelry for the inside of people’s minds.’ I find that incredibly calming as an idea. (Elizabeth Gilbert) 

does this look like the inside of your mind?

does this look like the inside of your mind?

As do I. It gets at why I write, why we creative types need to create. I often struggle with the value of spending so much time writing (and so much more time in all that surrounds the act of writing). Wouldn’t it be better if I was out there doing something? But maybe what I do, what I hope I do, is create a space for everyone that is out there doing things, to rest their soul. And hopefully this is a beautiful place. I need shiny, sparkly, pretty things for the inside of my mind, and I know that others out there do too -so I create. I want to design a bright space full of hope and colored light (I’m picturing the inside of “I Dream of Jeannie”‘s magic bottle for some reason) for us all to rest our souls, or perhaps discover our souls.

Which brings me to my next little treasure that this blog brought me -discovering other bloggers. A whole new universe of like-minded, different-minded, new-minded writers opened up to me. I was not only inspired by the act of my writing, I was inspired by what I was reading. This often led to more writing in a lovely sparkling spiral.

I am particularly grateful for discovering Jennifer Pastiloff‘s 5 Most Beautiful Things Project, which allowed me to reconnect with all the little beautiful moments in my life I’d been skipping over and taking for granted. It is an amazing practice to stop and notice how truly spectacularly beautiful this world is, to take a moment to be present in it, to bask, even, in this beauty.

Delving Deeper

Like teaching yoga, this blog has given me the opportunity to delve deeper into both the practice and philosophy of yoga and meditation. I have enjoyed exploring, with you readers, aspects of yogic philosophy I wanted to learn more about. I have enjoyed learning more about Ayurveda, and trying new healthy foods and recipes.

It has held me accountable to keeping up a steady practice. Writing has always been a way for me to process not only my thoughts, but my emotions, my feelings about a thing. In writing blog posts on yoga and meditation I have been able to discover more about what it means to my life, how it fits in my life, what it offers me, and what I have to offer others because of it.

New Friends

Here are a few other blogs/sites that have been an inspiration to me this year:

Rebelle Society -Where I go to find a little creative pick-me-up

alohaleya, wearing her heart on her blog -Often after reading a post of hers, I felt I could have written it myself

Body Karma -an inspiring yoga blog

from midnight oil -written by a high school classmate of mine; it’s been fun to create a friendship years later in the blogosphere

Genine’s Art Blog -Where I go when I want to look at happy beautiful art

Your Turn

Thinking of the future of this blog, I’m sure it will continue its evolution. Won’t you be a part of it and help me create an even better blog for year two? Please take a moment to answer these 6 quick questions below.

Namaste!

Thank you so much for taking the time to fill out the short survey. It is very helpful to me. Also feel free to add any other thoughts in the comments section of this post on what you hope to get out of The Approximate Yogi blog, or how I could make it better.

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Let The Beauty of What You Love Be What You Do

This is just a little idea that helped me get through a block the other day; maybe it will help you too.

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” –Rumi

I fell in love with this quote the first time I read it, and it continued to haunt me. I’ve written about it before (read here). I have it hanging on my bedroom wall, and continue to say it to myself often. The other day I read it differently though.

Before, I read it almost as a call to action –Let the beauty of what you love propel you to do what you love. In essence –do what you love. This idea tormented me. I placed this quote smack dab in the middle of my wall and created a vision board with pictures of all the things I love around it, all of what I wanted to be doing –travel, photography, yoga, writing, adventuring. I look at these pictures almost daily as I am getting dressed for work, or lying in bed at night. Many days I look at them with yearning. But I’m not teaching a yoga retreat in Costa Rica. I haven’t quit my day job to become a struggling writer. I’m not a professional photographer, or even own a professional-looking camera, for that matter. Every day of my life is not an adventure. And many days these thoughts make going to work, or even staying home enjoying a weekend day, difficult. rumi

Then one night lying in bed, I looked over at the quote and caught it in a new light, read it differently. Let the beauty of what you love be what you do. What do I really love? Do I really love planes, cameras, laptops, yoga even? No, I love how they make me feel. I love discovering the essence of life, that spark that is in the center of all things, I love sharing this with others. I love happiness, I love giving, I love light. There is the beauty of what I love.

Sometimes I say I love my job. That’s not true. I love aspects of my job. I love aspects of my life. There are also many parts of the day that I don’t love, or just feel neutral about. But if I were to spend more time focusing on the beautiful parts of my life, of my job, I would be letting the beauty of what I love be what I do. And not only focusing, but cultivating, working on this beauty. extract beauty

In other words, when I’m so focused on what I’m not doing, it’s depressing. But focusing on the beauty of my current life is more productive. For instance, this morning I found myself with some extra time before work. Rather than hash over the day before me, or wish I had an extra two or three hours instead of one, I decided to see what beauty I could bring to the day, and I wrote this post. And I carried that beauty-feeling with me for the rest of the day.

Extract beauty. Let the beauty of what you love shine through what you do –shine through everything you do. At first, I was reading “do” as our modern sense of the word. The question, “What do you do?” when asked any time we meet someone new always means what is your profession, what do you do for work. But “do” for Rumi may have meant everything you do.

And now this is how I read it: Let the beauty of what you love be in everything you do.

After you extract beauty, then infuse this beauty into everything you do. Perfume your life with it. Simply, do beauty.

Let the beauty of what you love be what you do. Be love. Be beauty. In whatever you do. This must automatically lead to happiness. infuse beauty

When I infuse beauty into my life, everything seems lighter. I am lighter. I am closer to the person I want to be. I am closer to heaven.

Of course, this is no easy thing. It is a lovely idea, a beautiful idea, even. But is it possible all the time, 24/7? No, of course not. Yet attempting it, trying it, remembering it, that may just be what saves you.

Stay tuned, more to come on this idea…

Related Posts:

5 Most Beautiful Things

That Beauty-Love-Truth Thing is Just Devine

Postscript: I should mention my evolving ideas on beauty and how it contributes to a happy life have been influenced by Jennifer Pastiloff’s 5 Most Beautiful Things Project. You should try it.


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That Beauty-Love-Truth Thing is Just Divine

“What is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?”

That was the question I was asked this morning during meditation. Ok, it was in a facebook post, after meditating. I happened to glance at the question posted by Jennifer Pastiloff on her page, after posting my 5 Most Beautiful Things of the morning.

I sat back down in meditation, not thinking I would answer the question. But this post just kind of exploded from me (and may have made me late for work)!

For some reason a towel popped into my head. But let me explain, not just the towel. It was an aquamarine towel I was traveling with ten years ago. On this day it happened to be converted into a beach towel. The beach was in Nice, on the French Riviera. Of all the beautiful things I saw that trip, my ordinary everyday towel still sticks out as one of the most beautiful things there.

This photo shows a close-up photo of part of a...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Why? Because its color was transformed, it glowed. It was a shade I had never seen before, and never saw again from that towel after I left the beach. That day the light had literally changed the color of it. What they say about the light there, how the painters love it, it is absolutely true. I had proof, the light there is different. I saw what Monet saw.

It changed my perception of something so ordinary.

And I think that’s what our most beautiful moments are, a changed perception. Can that beauty actually change the way you look at the world, change the way you feel?

A silly little towel did. It was a moment where I saw my reality as my reality. My perception of it, merely what I see. On that day, my reality looked different. It opened up a door that I have occasionally since then gotten to peak into every once in a while in special moments, the door to THE reality, not just my perception of it.

Mantis Shrimp

Mantis Shrimp (Photo credit: PacificKlaus)

I was thinking about this the other day as I was reading about the mantis shrimp. This little shrimp is able to see 16 different colors of the light spectrum. We humans can only see 3 colors (and the colors they make) in the world. How telling, we are only ever seeing half the story, less than that.

I happened to read only one other reader’s post of his most beautiful thing. It was similar (although a little more profound than my beach towel), because his most beautiful moment allowed his perception of life to change.

As I’ve been doing this practice of stopping to record the 5 Most Beautiful Things in the moment, I have come to wonder what beauty is. The thought came to me last week that beauty is the universe manifesting its love. Thinking more about it, today, it seems beauty is the universe manifesting its truth.

But then I realized truth and love may be one and the same. These are words we use to attempt to describe that underlying “-ness” of our existence, of the good in the world –beauty, love, truth –one in the same.

In the Kundalini Yoga tradition we say “Sat Nam” (functioning much like “Namaste” in other yoga lineages). “Sat Nam” means truth is my name; truth is my identity. Every time we say it, we are connecting with that truth-love-beauty in our souls.

This truth-love-beauty is often covered up, covered up by a lot of bullshit, covered up by the ego, or just covered up by our every day lives.

Yoga uncovers it. Chanting and saying the mantra Sat Nam uncovers it.

Sat Nam, said as a greeting or as a thank you, is connecting the truth within our Self to the truth within the other. And of course this beauty-love-truth is the exact same “stuff” within all of us. So then it brings us closer to union (yoga-yoke-union), union with each other, union with the universe, union with the divine.

“Divine,” “God,” for me they are more labels for that beauty-love-truth.

Beauty –the divine manifesting itself.

Truth –all the good stuff of the divine.

Love –our connection to it.

But like anything, these are just words. Just words I write in my search, my discovering, my uncovering of beauty-love-truth-divine.

Sat Nam!


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5 Most Beautiful Things

Another wonderful thing that came from starting this blog is discovering all the amazing bloggers and yogis out there in the world that I never would have come across on my own. And all of their really inspiring creative ideas. One of them is Jennifer Pastiloff, who blogs at Manifestationyoga.com.

Her idea is this – “Every hour stop what you are doing and write down the 5 most beautiful things to you right in that moment. Every hour or as often as you can! You can also post pics in addition to writing them down. Just connect in some way and find the beauty.” You can read more about the project here on her blog.

I love this! It is similar to a practice I do –to get myself out of a bad mood I think of all the things I am grateful for, which often starts by looking around me at the beautiful things (read more about my gratitude practice here). You can’t help but feel gratitude for the world around you after getting into this habbit.

So I have been stopping a few times a day to record my 5 most beautiful things in the moment for the past few days, and it really is a wonderful practice. Each little list becomes its own poem of a moment.

Here are a few of mine:

5/25/13, 5:39 p.m.

  1. Our love –can’t stop thinking about it
  2. That lazy feeling and knowing there are 2 more days to enjoy weekend
  3. How my face hurts from laughing and talking w/ my best friend and my mom
  4. My mom’s love and her unconditional acceptance of me
  5. The rain on the windshield blurring the outside world, me in here enclosed in this warmth

5/27/13, 10:09 a.m. san.fran 013

  1. House to myself
  2. Day of writing ahead of me
  3. Bright blue sky
  4. Big puffy floating white clouds
  5. Running after lawn furniture in the wind

5/27/1, 11:29 a.m.

  1. Sun unexpectedly warming my bum as I do a forward fold
  2. Hair blowing in the wind
  3. Dandelions mixed with cherry blossom petals on the ground
  4. Mummified earthworms on my patio
  5. My mind cleared by the crisp fresh air

5/29/13, 7:38 pm

  1. cool air on skin from open window
  2. arm extended strong in triangle pose
  3. coming into my own as a yogi
  4. patience
  5. single droopy purple tulip by the big rock

 5.26.13 (9)

I also want to mention a pretty cool essay contest Jennifer Pastiloff is hosting for the 5 Most Beautiful Things Project, where you could win a retreat with her. Find out the details about it here.

Right now, in this moment, what are the 5 most beautiful things in your word? Please share in the comments section or on my facebook page –I’d love to hear them! And share with Jennifer too!

Namaste!