YogaBetsy Yoga Center Discourse 2:
High Lodge sessions are not open to the public. You must either be taking yoga at the yoga center, accompanied by someone who is, or be, or have been, a member of one of the traditional initiatory societies such as the Masons, Oddfellows, Theosophy, etc.
The spring message has been somewhat tardy but that is appropriate because spring itself has been somewhat tardy. All of us who live around Olean want to believe that spring starts in March, but we all know that it doesn't really begin until the end of May or some years until the 4th of July and this year has been no exception.
In our regular Yoga classes we deal primarily with the physical aspect of being. We all know perfectly well what happens to our bodies when we don't get any exercise. Most of us, however, give much less if any consideration to the mental side of our existence.
At its simplest, the mental side of our existence includes the physical brain and plain old study and problem solving. If you don't use your body, it turns to mush and, unfortunately, pretty much the same thing will happen to your brain. Worse, this is a very easy condition to slide into because it happens so gradually. Men seem to have a worse time of it than women because of the way they are built and their role in our society. If men do not develop new interests and areas of inquiry as they approach middle age, they turn into what one lady quite aptly described as "a grumpy dried out old poop."
Physically, their brain actually shrinks in size and capacity. Outwardly, this manifests as a personality whose ideas, thinking and mentality are frozen into the realities of a period that ceased to exist about 25 or 30 years ago. Such an individual is completely out of touch with contemporary existence and generally happy about it. Unfortunately, the people around them generally aren't.
Woman can and do fall into this trap too and, like men, some of them do not have to wait until they are 50 or 60 years old for it to start. Some people let their brains start dying before they are out of high school.
At lot of things can contribute to this. We have already mentioned the failure to use and exercise the mind, but the brain is also affected by your diet and that diet includes not only the things you eat. It includes the thoughts you keep.
One of the most damaging things which happens to our nervous systems is the holding of negative, destructive thoughts. In yoga we concentrate on exercising the body and the body's energy system. As it happens, your brain is part of that energy system.
I wonder how many of you have ever seen a lie detector work? Such devices cannot really tell whether someone is lying or not. They only measure biological reactions within the body and it is up to the operator to interpret that information. When a subject tells even a little white lie, like saying it is Tuesday when he knows it is Wednesday, this produces changes in their energy system which can be measured by fairly crude instruments.
In this instance, these energy spikes are associated with lying but what I would like you to consider is this: If simply saying it is Tuesday when you know it is Wednesday can produce a measurable energy spike on a volt meter, what do you suppose is going on inside your body when you are harboring some really heavy duty anger or emotion?
Negative thoughts and emotions can tear your body to pieces. Some or even all of the positive effects of a yoga session can be undone by a few moments of negative thinking.
As no less of a personage than the Master Jesus remarked:
"As a man thinketh so he shall become."
Thus it is important what you keep your mind on. It is also important to recognize that your nervous system is not built to have all the problems of the world flushed though it each and every day. One of the worst things you can possibly do to your nervous system is to watch network newscasts, or any other disturbing programs just before you go to bed. You should try to spend some quality time with yourself winding down and focusing on spiritual persuits just before bedtime. Certainly you need to let go of the mundane problems of life at that time. If you do not, they will haunt your sleep and this affects your overall health dramatically.
During the rest of the day you should, in so far as it is practical, attempt to block out as much of the mental and emotional garbage which comes your way as it is possible to do. This includes not getting involved in disputes which have nothing to do with you and things which you cannot do anything about.
Unfortunately, as it happens, each of us is and always will be subjected to various personal affronts and assaults which are not easy to ignore. Therefore, we want to take a few moments to propose a system which is currently being used by Byron Katie to deal with such issues in a process she calls learning to love what is.
When confronted by a stressful situation, say an insult or unpleasant assessment of yourself by another, ask yourself these four questions.
1. Is this true?
These questions are deceptively simple. They are one of many methods which may be used to keep our mind centered on constructive things and it is important to do this. That last question:" Who would you be without that thought" is one of the most important questions you can ever ask yourself and one you should be asking yourself often.
The one thing you may be sure of is that this world is rarely going to be the way you want it to be. Just as you can exercise your body to keep it fit and healthy, you can choose what you do with your mind, and you have a lot more control over how you elect to feel about things and in what context you choose to view them than might be immediately apparent.
As one elder very wise lady and a member of the original High Lodge once remarked, "happiness is a choice." You've probably never thought about it before but you can work at being happy and loving what is just as certainly as you can work at anything else. You may also be sure that you are not going to have a healthy body unless you take care of your mind, too.