My back has been finicky for going on 3 weeks. I have chronic back pain, but it is usually held off with yoga. Most times, I can go into a yoga class not feeling very well and leave feeling amazing. I was actually feeling better on Tuesday and thought a hot yoga class would take me to the 100% mark. But it didn’t take despite enjoying the class and the teacher. The next morning, I woke up with even worse pain. I took AcroYoga last Sunday thinking the same thing. When you lay on your back and you fly someone on your legs, its really therapeutic to my back. But I really felt terrible afterward this time.
So I taught a Rocket yoga class on Weds and wasn’t feeling good. I went into teaching Power Yoga last night and left feeling amazing! I mean, like almost 100% healthy. I had tons of fun. And while my back is still sore this morning, I’m amazed at how much better I felt.
I’ve read stories of Ashtangis who were practicing at the Shala in Mysore, India. They did their 6 day a week practice starting very early in the morning. Some days, they were sick, sore, or injured and asked Pattabhi Jois “Guriji” if they could take the day off. They would ask to do the Primary Series instead of a higher series. Or they’d ask to sit out on part of the practice. Guruji would smile and say “You Do”. Yoga Chikitsa, the primary series, is called the healing series. It really has that effect on people.
Sometimes, I would go into lifting heavy squats or deadlifts against my better judgement. But quite often, my sore back or sore whatever would feel fine. Firing all those muscle fibers to a hard effort is kind of like greasing an old, rusty gear box. You often have to force it into working properly. I know that sounds Neanderthal, but it really works. Like last night: I was doing locust pose and bow pose with the class knowing my back hasn’t been in good shape. But it actually felt better totally engaging into those muscles. I forced my muscles into submission and, in the end, it was therapeutically healing.
There are times for rest. There are times for healing. But sometimes, there are times to push through and move your body. I think most times deserve the latter. Even when you’re sick, increasing your circulation and moving your lymphatic fluid around can only be a good thing. Listen to your body; but also don’t listen to your body. Sometimes if it tells you to stop, thoughtfully and carefully do what you’re gonna do anyway. You may be surprised by the results.
I stumbled on this pic from my old unit in Germany. When you pulled KP (kitchen patrol) out in the field, it was an all day gig. They’d wake you up at like oh-dark-thirty (~3am) to start getting chow ready for the field site. We often worked to about 2100 since a lot of the field doggies would come in late. We would fill these huge trash barrels with water, usually by dragging two 5 gallon jugs to and from the water buffalo. That got old fast in the snow. You’d need at least one can for washing and another for the rinse. Sometimes, we’d make an extra can for a nice hot tub bath later. We usually worked through chow so we didn’t get to eat until after everyone else did. And leftovers were kinda gross.
The heaters are fueled by a big can of diesel on the side. It would drip fuel in at a slow rate to keep it burning. But you had to be super careful. So I started a drip, I lit some paper and dropped it in. You have to keep you head far from the opening or it could blow in your face. Well, I dropped in the lit paper. I waited a good 20 seconds and nothing seemed to happen. So I peek in to see and BOOM it blew up in my face. It blasted my head up and I just turned and fell face first into the snow. I wasn’t sure what I had just done to myself. I managed to burn all my eyebrows and eyelashes into crispy, burnt-end curls. My buddies got a big laugh at how it looked.
Other fun chores we got in the field was guard duty. I almost forgot my birthday one year. I was standing at the entrance to our site on top of a snowy mountain in Germany with my Mickey Mouse boots on and my parka hood cinched down to about a 2 inch opening. The snow was coming down hard. I was standing there wondering what day it was, so I looked at my watch. It was almost midnight, 16 Jan 1984; my birthday. Oh well. I did get some candlelight that night. A few hours later, I was startled by a bright light. I look over and one of the tents caught on fire. Each tent had a diesel burning stove. Its pretty safe unless it overheats, turns to cherry red, and then something close by or the stove pipe catches fabric on fire. That’s what happened. They were yelling, I was yelling, it was mass chaos. Fortunately, everybody made it out alive. But they lost a lot of their gear.
We also got to pull 60K generator duty. We had to keep it filled with diesel to make sure all the communication rigs were kept running. We also started all the backup 5K generators that were on trailers once a day. I drove for a lieutenant, so among all my other duties, I had to drive him/her around to different field sites and HQ to receive orders and missions. But I also had to set up their tent and attend to their needs. Then we sometimes went on foot patrol to check our perimeter. Sometimes we had a unit of Infantry guarding us. But most times we were on our own. They said if the balloon ever went up, we’d be alive for about 7 minutes since they’d target communication links first. So our outside perimeter was the least of our worries. Such good times.
I was raised in a very conservative home. We were respectful of our elders. Some of it was due to our beliefs. But largely, it was due to the culture I was raised in. I was raised to think how my parents think as proud Native Americans. I see this today with children and young adults back in Oklahoma. I’d be sitting on the couch and my sister’s family would come in the door. The kids shake everyone’s hands. They start from the eldest person in the room and then work around to the entire room. If an elder needs a seat and a young person is sitting down, the kids get up and sit on the floor or somewhere else. Its very different from what I see elsewhere. Somehow kids rule the roost nowadays and are allowed to do whatever they want. Parents bow to every beckoned call. And elders are left behind. Somehow we’ve turned the tables on what is right anymore.
My parents were raised during the civil rights era. As Native Americans, they were discriminated against. Every now and then I get a glimpse of what happened. But 99.9% of the time, I never hear about it. They don’t complain. I’ve never heard them being victims. The same was true with my maternal grandparents who were obviously discriminated against. My Grandpa was in a segregated platoon in the 82nd Airborne Division. He had his own Dirty Dozen of wild Indians who jumped in the day before D-Day. I know they were heavily discriminated against. But I never heard them complain. I never viewed them as victims who wanted reparations or kickbacks for all that happened in the past. Its because they were strong and proud.
I think back to many of the movies I loved as a kid, and still love today. The 1970’s were a time just past the civil rights era. So there were still painful memories in many minds. Yet, movies like Blazing Saddles parodied many of the issues of gender, race, and religion. It was so irreverent that it would never fly in a millennial society that is triggered by everything. They explored slavery, the Ku Klux Klan, stereotypes by race, gender issues, and even government oppression. None of that would be accepted today.
I think of other movies like Animal House. Yeah, same issues. They were able to laugh about it all. It could almost be viewed as mutually uniting. Mind you, all of this is spoken from a Native American point of view. I’m sensitive to certain issues. But I hold no ill feelings toward anyone today for the things that my friend’s forefathers had done. I mean, even Abraham Lincoln was an Indian killer and hunted down one of my tribes. But I’ve rubbed Lincoln’s nose in Springfield, IL. I honor what he did for civil rights for blacks even when he was still discriminating against Indians. I’m not telling everyone to take down his statues. I’d prefer to see the good in people and give grace to their misgivings. Well, unless there isn’t an evidence of good, I’d probably not look the other way. There wouldn’t be a statue of anyone anywhere if we expected everyone to be perfect. Nobody is perfect!
I think people need to be rational in today’s world. I hear all this patriarchy nonsense and victimology to the nth degree. We need to stop being victims. Instead, be strong and proud and live as examples for what you represent. If you like to focus on darkness, then your heart will always be filled with darkness. It doesn’t hurt to live in bliss. Be happy and don’t let negativity get you down.
I think every year, people should be required to watch Blazing Saddles, the Breakfast Club, and Animal House. More recently, Undercover Brother and Austin Powers. Maybe it would reprogram our minds to be less sensitive. Seek laughter and positivity. And then spread that to others. Its totally contagious.
Have you ever smiled at someone who is not smiling and suddenly their face brightens to return your smile? It really happens. I saw a nice older lady at the grocery store yesterday and when I smiled at her, she just beamed from ear to ear back at me. Happiness is truly contagious.
We talked about the dynamics of a yoga class in teacher training. I had a day in Rocket Yoga not too long ago. I was very tired and sore from my workouts, but I tried to put on my best “teacher face”. But it wasn’t enough to overcome my lack of energy. I don’t know if it was me, the weather, the moon, or whatever, but everyone seemed to feel like I did. I offered a few challenging poses but nobody went for it. They all took a gentler version. We were all in an energy slump.
Then just a few days ago, I taught a Rocket class that was completely the other way. Even before class, I couldn’t get people to quiet down when I read the announcements. Everybody was talking together and giddy with excitement. And to top it off, one of our Ashtanga teachers who just glows with goodness came to class. I think everyone was feeling good, but especially my yoga teacher friend. Her energy and the effort she put into each pose brought everyone else’s levels up too. It got super hot in there with all the energy. It was one of the best classes ever. Again, happiness is contagious.
Unfortunately, you can’t fake happiness. There are people who are truly having hard times. There are people who’s demeanors are naturally depressed and tamasic. Biting words, sarcasm, dark thoughts, and frowing faces are the norm for them. Teacher training talked about these kinds of people. It only takes one person who can spread negativity to an entire class. While yoga teachers aren’t usually therapists, it is helpful to talk with them to make sure they are OK first. But you also have to set an expectation of living in the now. Forget your troubles of the past or agonizing about the future and live for now. Make it a happy now. You can always choose to be happy.
Recent generations have been burdened with feelings of unworthiness, self-loathing, and negativity in their view of the world. They are not comfortable with the color of their skin or the gender to which they were born. They’ve complicated all of life with lots of clutter and chaos. Most of it is completely unnecessary. Most of it is selfishness. When you think of someone truly in need, where water and warm clothes are lacking, they are only focused on what is real. The unecessary frivolities we worry about are obstacles to happiness. When we live in comfort and excess, we have the opportunity for burdensome worries.
My recommendation to them is this, come backpacking with me for a weekend. We’ll hike back a few miles into what is real. All you can have is what you can carry in your pack. You can’t burden it down with unncecessary things or it will drag you down, both physically and metaphorically. If you’ve ever carried a 100 pound pack, you know what I mean. You only take the essentials. You make your own fire to stay warm and cook food. You use a filter to clean your own water. You consider weather and wildlife when setting up your sleeping area. You don’t get cellphones, headphones, or anything that distracts you. All you get to think about are the leaves at your feet and the stars in the sky. You listen to the coyotes in the distance and squirrels rustling in the brush. All that clutter in your mind goes away when you are down to only a few ounces of water. When you are needy, you prioritize what is important to you. Believe me, all this social nonsense goes away. It really isn’t very important in the grand scheme of life.
Simplify life. Seek nature and the little things. Find love. Believe in something greater than you. You don’t always have to be in control. Find a beautiful animal that will always love you back. Go to the park and watch the kids run barefoot. You can choose to be happy. You don’t have to wallow in negativity and despair. And if you don’t know how, I’m always here to help you. Someone can help. Its not hard to do.
I carry jumper cables in my truck hoping I never have to use them. I try to keep up on auto maintenance, but sometimes stuff just happens. The same is true with my spare tire. I check it hoping I never need it. I carry a fire extinguisher in all my vehicles. I hope to never need it. You could say that about anything in life.
I have family and friends who have a different attitude about safety and worst case scenarios. The worst thing ever is our dependence on cell phones. It is the safety net that leads many to peril. I know people who never learn to change a car tire because they know they can always call someone to help. But cell service isn’t always there. Sometimes, help may not come for a long time. Meanwhile, you are stranded in unknown territory helpless to survive. I mean, if you don’t do it for yourself, do it for the child strapped in the back seat. Do it for the loved ones who care for you? I just heard of someone who’s husband died of a heart attack. I can’t blame the wife, but she dialed 911 and was unable to perform CPR. People don’t learn the simple Heimlich maneuver to reduce a choking hazard. I don’t get it. Why not learn tools of survival? Why would you just allow yourself or a loved one to die without your help?
When you go boating, you take a life preserver. In most cases, its the law to carry one for each passenger. You say to yourself “it will never happen to me”. But what happens when that time comes?
I personally believe in protecting myself with a firearm. The worst feeling ever would be hiding under a desk just hoping he doesn’t find you. And what if you are there with a loved one and you are helpless to do anything to save them? If you don’t do it for yourself, then do it for them. Criminals are stupid cowards. They travel in the path of least resistance. If they know sheep will cower in the corner and not fight back, they will continue to prey on the weak. Don’t be the weak one. Don’t be the bubble-wrapped person who thinks it will never happen to you. Don’t be in that place where you are helpless.
When you reach and you feel the life preserver with your hands, at least you know you have a fighting chance. You can live at peace with this knowledge.
Ya know, if I’m on vacation, I’m going to live it up. We all should. Whatever we do that messes up an otherwise disciplined life, its really ok. We can fix it later.
Its kind of weird for me. I follow mostly a Warrior/Paleo/Flexible dieting kind of life. Don’t think it sounds dictatorial or anything. Its the easiest way for me to live. I’m really not at all hungry in the morning, which is greatly assisted by my love for coffee. By lunch-time, my mind is working on all cylinders and I’m in a flow. If I took a break, it would disrupt that robotic state of gettin things done! I stop the coffee and start drinking water after Noon. That keeps my belly full and detoxes the coffee. Admittedly, I get slightly hangry by 4 or 5pm, but that’s quite alright. I’ve been in ketosis all day up to that point, burning fat for energy. And when I finally eat, my stomach has shrunken to the point that it doesn’t take much to feel satiated. Then I may eat a snack before bed, like a yogurt or something.
Its easy for me to get back on track once I’m in my normal routine. Once my body gets rid of all that junk I ate, the weight falls off again. I feel light and very good about myself. And in the Summer, it is even easier since I can go for a couple runs in the heat and I’m quickly back down to weight. That’s what I’m working on now.
Its all good!