Puppy Pain

11136620_10152902017368479_5606053744790071535_nI have been facing quite the “ahimsa challenge” this week. There are a litter of puppies living in a garbage filled ditch on the side of the road that I walk past at least twice every day. Every time I walk by I pet them and bring some water and a little food. I found that they are much more interested in the water siince we are in Africa and the trash is plentiful but the water is sparse. One night as I was walking by I picked one of the puppies up and he tucked himself into my arm and I decided to walk home with him and see what happens. I figured the walking would scare him and he would leap from my arms back to his “home”. He never budged the entire walk home and just stayed tucked into my arm enjoying the body heat and sense of security. I was worried that he would miss is family or vice versa but instead he just seemed to feel safe and content. I gave him a good bath, food and water and he slept next to me throughout the night. Well now I have a puppy that I have no idea what to do with! He is terrified of the outdoors and panics everytime I bring him outside. I was thinking he should go play with his brothers but I don’t think that is going to work.

Every time I walk past his brothers I feel guilty that I can’t help more of them. They are looking pretty rough, getting dirtier by the day and one of them is covered in blood now. In this situation how do I do no harm? If I walk past them and neglect them, isn’t that a form of violence? If I bring them home to wash and feed them and put them back out does that actually do any good? I will only be here for six months so I can only help for so long. Does it do more harm to take this little guy in? Hopefully I can find a forever home for him but it seems that will be very difficult with the Moroccan culture. I have researched Morocco for shelters but they are nearly non-existent and there isn’t one within hours of where we are. I learned that Islam considers dogs uncleanly so the government here is allowed and even encouraged at times to shoot them and they leave out poisonous food to keep the stray population down.
The whole situation makes me feel a little helpless. Last night I walked past the bleeding puppy and when I got home I began to cry. It just sparked this sadness of all the suffering in the world – it may have started with a puppy but it made me think of the homeless and starving people of the world and all the suffering currently going on in Nepal and I just couldn’t stop crying. In my effort to practice ahimsa I actually created a little bit of harm in my own mind that I was not enough. I felt like there was so much suffering in the world that I could never make any significant difference. A friend reminded me this morning that we just have to do the best we can to make a positive impact in the world and that is enough. I feel like ahimsa is a never ending practice. Through our actions, words, and inner thoughts it is truly hard to perfect. My only answer I have found to this current situation is to keep giving as much love, time, and effort as I can in this moment and know in my heart and my mind that I am doing the best I can.

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Irrational Fear only Hurts Us

Continuing on with this months theme of ahimsa (nonviolence) we focus this week on fear. Fear is one of the biggest contributors to violence. There is a healthy and instinctual fear that helps keeps us alive in dangerous situations but there is also a fairly irrational fear of the unfamiliar that keeps us from fully living. Facing these irrational fears is a beautiful way to step out of our comfort zone, learn new things, and grow. You can still be afraid but it is time to find the courage to get uncomfortable. Is there something you are afraid of? Something you would like to face and conquer? It doesn’t have to be huge. It could just be something that makes you uncomfortable like the thought of going to a movie by yourself or traveling alone. How can you step out of your comfort zone today or this week? Maybe find a friend that you could buddy up with and face your fears together!

Ahimsa: Theme of the Month

It’s May 1st! This entire month is going to be focused on the first yama, ahimsa. The yamas and niyamas are yoga’s ten ethical guidelines. Ahimsa means nonviolence. Most people interpret nonviolence in the grossest form of not being physically violent to another human. Some also interpret that nonviolence to animals and it is one of the reasons many yogis are vegetarian. This month we are also going to explore the more subtle ways we are violent towards ourselves and others through actions, words, and thoughts.

For today, reflect on the following statement by Etty Hillesum, a young holocaust victim:

Ultimately we have just one moral duty; to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it towards others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world.

This reminds me of the quote by Ghandi that we have to be the change we wish to see in the world. If we cannot be at peace with ourselves, how can we expect there to be peace in the world. Individually we are responsible for our thought, words, and actions. Are you setting the example you wish to see throughout the world?

I may not be blogging about ahimsa every day this month but I will be posting motivational quotes and things to ponder on facebook and instagram daily. Join me for daily inspiration to bring more ahimsa and peace into your life.

https://www.facebook.com/spiritualgps
https://instagram.com/thespiritualgps/

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

grateful
I have been suffering from a bit of jet lag so I created a nice little bedtime practice to get me relaxed and focus my mind on the important things.

Inhale, I calm my body.
Exhale, I smile because I am grateful for….

Each exhale you have to create gratitude for something different until you fall asleep. Pretty simple practice but I thought I would share. You could also set your alarm 5 minutes early and start your day this way too.

My Time At The Ashram

I had two purposes for spending the last two months at a yoga ashram. One was to do karma yoga (selfless service) and the second was to use my free time to focus on my business planning, blogs, social media, and all those lovely things. I definitely achieved my number one purpose and helped in the kitchen every day from 4:30am-11:45am. I really enjoyed helping out and the people I got to meet and work with along the way. I enjoyed the friends I was making so much that my free time was spent going to the gym, doing yoga, and hanging out with them on the beach or going on an adventure. No work was done, absolutely zero. So I started the Spiritual GPS blog before I got there thinking that I would be on top of it the whole time I was there with even more spiritual insight and instead lost it completely. I had a hint of guilt but at the same time knew I was doing what was in my best interest and following my own spiritual gps. Now I am at my new contract in Morocco and ready to get back in touch with the online world! I guess my only message here is make sure you listen to your own GPS and forget the “to-do” list. What do you need to feel good about yourself before your head hits the pillow tonight?

No Limits

As I was walking down the beach yesterday I realized that I have found the secret to a happy life. Are you ready?! Just decide what you want and achieve it. Wow! Earth shattering news! Haha.

I have designed my life in such a way that I am happy so often that I can’t remember the last time I had a bad day. The only key I have figured out is that I decided what I want in life and I made it happen, there was no luck or secret formula or special circumstance – it was all purely making a decision. So tonight I was studying “The Sivananda Companion to Yoga” by Swami Vishnu Devananda and came across this verse:

“If you can bring your mind and thoughts under control, there is literally no limit to what you can do – since it is only our own illusions and preconceptions that hold us back and prevent us from fulfilling ourselves.”

He stated my “secret” in a much more profound way! It was just one of those serendipitous moments where life synced up and what I was just thinking a day before appeared in the book I was reading today. This brings us back to a common theme on The Spiritual GPS – what are your limiting beliefs? What are your illusions and preconceptions that are holding you back from the life of your dreams?

The Five Points

I am living at a yoga ashram for the next seven weeks and have found myself less disciplined than ever when it comes to online work that I need to do in the social media world. I have become immersed in my own self development and doing whatever makes me happy instead of focusing on responsibilities. I suppose that is what coming to an ashram is supposed to make you do! Whenever I come here it always makes me feel selfish that I am not giving back to the world. Coming here recharges my battery though, it makes it so I can better serve my clients and students. I think that is because there is an emphasis on living a yogic lifestyle that brings your body back into balance and gets rid of a lot of unnecessary distractions.

In the Sivananda lineage of yoga they teach that there are five points of yoga. Proper breathing, proper nutrition, proper exercise, proper relaxation, positive thinking and meditation are the five components you need to function at your prime.

If you had to create a pie chart with these five elements, what would your chart look like? How do you balance your five points? What do you need to focus on more? Is there anything you should focus on less?

Try it out by drawing a circle and thinking about your lifestyle and the amount of energy/time you spend on each of the five points. If everything was in balance it should take up twenty percent of the pie chart and you can take it from there. If your nutrition is completely balanced then it should take up 20%. If you don’t pay attention to it at all then it would be missing from the chart. Watching TV or listening to music generally doesn’t count as relaxing because your mind is still active. How often do you completely relax without any distraction at all? Even if you don’t make a chart just reflect on how to incorporate these five components into your lifestyle and how it would improve your life.