Sunday, January 15, 2006

Belated New Year's Resolutions: The Way of the Tao

I'm late coming up with my resolutions for 2006, but recently while in bed with a fever and chills, I had time to consider my value system and make resolutions for the current year.

As I mentioned previously, I was indoctrinated into Christian fundamentalism as a child. My mother was a devout follower of the Church of God, an organization that had some virtues but was extreme in many areas. Among the cons were the fact that they didn't allow adherents to seek medical care and women and girls weren't allowed to wear jewelry or to cut their hair.

On the positive side, they didn't have ordained ministers. They met to sing and when it was time to preach, anyone could get up and give a sermon (including women and people of color). Sometimes we sat in silence for several minutes waiting for God to get around to motivating someone and other times, a couple of people would stand up at the same time and then one would have to give way to the other. That's about the only thing I found entertaining about those meetings and I frequently got spanked after church for being inattentive or fidgety.

As a young adult, I became interested in eastern philosophy and began to practice yoga. Recently scientific research has proven that meditation causes physical changes in people's brains (Dawn at Illuminations has more on this subject) and it seems logical to me, that following a set of values in your life can enhance your enjoyment of life. "Don't worry, be happy" as an aphorism seems too simplistic to me, but I do believe that individuals can develop their own set of values that lead to contentment in life. In particular I like the pagan value of doing what you want as long as it doesn't harm others (I include animals among the "others"). I admire the Jains, a sect who are so careful to avoid harming insects that they brush the ground before walking on it, but I can't go that far. Moderation is a value in the practice of yoga and I wouldn't hesitate to kill fleas on my kitties. I do escort unwanted spiders outside without killing them though.

Lao Tzu said that greed is expensive, so I don't shop at Walmart. Supporting a greedy company that exploits its workers might save me a few pennies, but I don't need to benefit from the oppression of others. Unfortunately in some rural communities WalMart is the only shopping choice because they've driven the "mom and pop" stores out of business so I don't condemn others who shop there. However, I still have a choice and I will continue to exercise it.

I also choose to buy organic food from a locally owned natural food store, rather than buy conventional food at a large chain store. Probably I could save a few pennies, but my values include supporting small, local businesses and the extra cost benefits my community. Buying organic food supports people who demonstrate concern for the health of the earth and its inhabitants. It costs a little more but Lao Tzu said that hoarders are destined for a great loss, and I believe him. It's the way nature works to maintain balance.

Greedy agribusinesses use pesticides that damage the earth and its creatures so I will continue to avoid purchasing their products. Factory farming is horrific and cruel and based on greed. I will continue to avoid any support of that activity. I have the greatest admiration for those individuals who are working to stop the cruel torturing animals in the name of experimentation and I vow to continue to donate money to organizations and individuals who work to put an end to that cruelty even if the NSA reads my emails and listens to my phone calls.

Yoga teacher, Swami Satchidananda said:

Disease is nothing but the disappearance of our natural ease. The entire Yoga philosophy aims at the prevention of the loss of our ease and peace. Most of the modern problems are caused by our wrong habits like smoking, drinking, eating the wrong foods or overeating, and stress.

Yoga aims at putting us back into natural living. For this sake it gives certain methods. First, the physical postures, or asanas. By placing the body in different positions that give mild pressure to certain body parts, there is a gentle massage that squeezes out the toxins and brings fresh blood circulation to those areas.

Our food should contain clean nutrition, free from any toxins, easily digestible and assimilable.

The same holds true with the mind The mind is constantly "fed" upon our thoughts. Thought is food for the mind. Thoughts affect not only the mind but the body also. Simply think of candy-it has already affected your salivary glands That is why we hear the proverb, "As you think, so you become."

That is why in the Yogic approach we recommend meditation. First analyze your present thoughts. Then, fill the mind with proper thoughts. This will help you learn to lead a dedicated, selfless life. Do everything for the joy of doing it. That is Yoga. This is the way to clean the body and mind so you can truly enjoy life. Then there is no need for high blood pressure. There's no pressure at all! You are always relaxed and in good health
I plan to resume my practice of yoga postures to maintain health, strength and flexibility of body and mind.

Oh and most important of all, I plan to continue to poke fun at the religious right - laughing is a wonderful yogic activity.