Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Look Up, Not Sideways.

I read an article in the Ensign last month titled "Look Up".  It really stood out to me not only because of the analogies it made spiritually but the ways I thought of applying the same concept physically, to dance and Yoga (and most anything else you want to apply it to).

It talks about not looking to the side and comparing ourselves to others and how they are doing but looking up and focusing on how the Lord feels we are doing.  In life, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, etc., we should not look sideways to what others are doing around us but instead focus on doing our personal best.  I see this often in teaching dance.  My students want to do a move the way someone else does it and sometimes it just is not going to happen for them, at least not now.  We have to learn patience with ourselves and to act in our own timing.  Some things will come naturally and you will catch on to right away while other things you will really work at in order to master, if that is really what you want.

We often feel that others are judging us and our capabilities.  I know I am guilty of that.  I can think of a few times I just knew people were thinking I was weak because of something I wasn't getting right away in class.  Even if they were judging me that is not what matters..."Try not to look sideways to see how others are viewing [your life] but look up to see how Heavenly Father sees [you]." Does it really matter what they think anyways?  Our Heavenly Father is the one we should be trying to please not the strangers around us and often times we get upset over certain things that don't even matter.  "It's easy to get caught up in trying to please others, but we can't trust such external measurements; the world can be too quick both to praise and to criticize."

In Yoga it is said that you are your best teacher.  The instructor can help guide your practice but they do not know exactly what is going on in your body and what you are feeling.  Only you know how certain poses feel and whether they feel good or not.  Therefore we must learn to be receptive to our own feelings and as we do so "we'll be able to act on impressions we receive".  We will then know our limits and we'll know when we are ready to take it farther, acting on those impressions.  Eventually "we'll be able to do the difficult things" we once thought were impossible for us and "to do, for the right reasons, whatever is required".  You must remember though, the difference between uncomfortable and painful.  I have heard teachers telling their students "it's going to hurt but get over it, you're going to have pain".  That statement makes me cringe.  We need to understand it is okay to be uncomfortable and you may get a little bruise or scratch here and there and, for your own good, some soreness, yes...get over that.  However, when something actually becomes painful that is when you need to listen to your body and stop or else your body will force you to stop and that is not fun... I know by experience.

"Sometimes others would dissuade us from acting on what we receive, and even if they have good intentions, we need to be true to what we have felt."  I've had experiences in dance and in life where someone tried to get me to do something that I wasn't ready to do or I felt I shouldn't do for whatever reason.  This is when we really need to stand firm on the impressions we receive and not let others influence us.  Physically, you know when it hurts, your body tells you when to stop... others cannot know that for yourself, listen to your body.  Spiritually, we all have a conscience (or Holy Spirit) telling us what is right and what is wrong for us... others do not know what you're feeling in your gut, listen to your conscience... listen to that Spirit.

Lastly though, "don't be afraid to make choices because you are afraid of making mistakes."  Oftentimes we're too afraid to try something new because we fear failure.  You will never know how far you can go in a pose (in Yoga) if you never even attempt the pose.  You're going to mess up, you're going to fall.  Get back up, do NOT turn your head sideways comparing yourself to others around you who are standing strong but rather think about what you yourself can do better next time to stand strong.  Know yourself, know your limits and know how to listen and be receptive to how far you can take things and how to improve.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tao Te Ching.

We join spokes together in a wheel,
but it is the center hole
that makes the wagon move.

We shape clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that holds whatever we want.

We hammer wood for a house,
but it is the inner space
that makes it livable.

We work with being,
but non-being is what we use.

-Tao Te Ching Chapter 11

One of the latest books I've read is Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (Stephen Mitchell translation).  When I first started reading it I decided to take note of which chapters really stood out to me, leaving an impression and making me think.  Then I looked down at my paper and realized almost every single chapter I read I wrote down.  After reading the 12th chapter and writing eight of them down I decided it was pointless and I should just plan on reading it again.

Lao Tzu puts much emphasis on not-doing.  Like many Westerners in our society today, not doing anything often scares me and just the thought of it stresses me out.  Learning to keep things simple and be comfortable with doing not-doing is much harder than it sounds and yet much easier than we think.  At first not-doing seems stressful but when you truly learn how to practice this meditation it becomes the stress-reliever and relaxer.  I have yet to master not-doing and to be completely honest with you I’m not sure if I ever will.  However, I plan to continue to work on it through meditation and relaxation.

I have read a couple of these chapters from Tao Te Ching in some of my dance classes comparing the message not only to life but to dance and movement as well.  It is interesting to see how the girls start to understand how it applies.  Of course when I first read it they all look at me with a blank stare telling me they have no idea what I just read and it went way over their head.  But as I break it down they begin to understand the concept and the importance of remembering this mindset in life and in dance.  Especially knowing that it takes practice and you won’t master it the first time or even the second or third but you can’t beat yourself up over it because that’s the whole point and it doesn’t get you anywhere, in fact if anything it takes you farther away from your goal.  

I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone.  It's a quick read and will get you thinking... or not thinking.  I'm beginning to wonder which is better...

He who stands on tiptoe

doesn't stand firm.

He who rushes ahead
doesn't go far.
He who tries to shine
dims his own light.
He who defines himself
can't know who he really is.
He who has power over others
can't empower himself.
He who clings to his work
will create nothing that endures.

If you want to accord with the Tao,

just do your job, then let go.

-Tao Te Ching Chapter 24

Sunday, February 5, 2012


The first of things always seem hard.  First day of school, first date, first kiss, first step, first time riding a bike, and I'm sure you could think of many more.  First times never end.  Many "first time's" that I haven't yet experienced are popping into my head this very moment.  It will never end, that's what makes this life so great and NOT boring.  Something new happens every single day, sometimes the new things are predictable, other times there's no way you could have predicted it.

Today I read a couple articles in a church magazine (Ensign) for the first time.  I taught a Sunday School lesson to 8-11 year olds that I hadn't taught before.  My husband and I had LDS Missionaries over for dinner who hadn't been over before.  I'm sure there's many other new things I've done today...

Oh yeah... Today is my first entry to this blog.  :)

This blog will be dedicated to my thoughts on how gospel principles and commandments not only help strengthen our Spirit but our Body and Mind, as well.  I decided to start a blog because I eventually want to write a book and what better way to get started organizing my thoughts and ideas than through a blog?!  I also plan on discussing Yoga, dance, health, and I'm sure many other topics will come up... so come what may, and love it!

Well... I hope you love it... <3