We are blessed. We are able to consciously create our lives. We have access to all the information, inspiration and empowerment we’ll ever need. We are the greatest artists who have ever lived, and our most important canvas is our life, ourselves.
As Christopher Morley wrote “There is only one success - to be able to spend your life in your own way.” Each of us will paint radiance in a different way. That’s the beauty of our synergistic, global community. We each shine as we wish, bringing brilliance, happiness and fulfillment to all those around us. We are the ones who are uplifting our world.
May you find just the right ‘aha’ in these pages. May you live the luminous life!
We can do it: The first step to creating a Radiant life is knowing that it’s possible. From there, it’s a matter of trusting that possibility, continuing to invest in the vision we hold for ourselves, and then acting to actualize that vision. Not only can we all do that, our world condition begs us to live the life of radiant beings. As we do so, we shall inspire others.
Quotes of the Moment
When we do the best we can, we never know what miracle is wrought in our life, or the life of another.” –Hellen Keller
The micro adjustments your hands do in a handstand are the same that your feet do when you stand. Close your eyes in tadasana, sway gently, and feel it.
This may sound weird, but one of the things I did when I was first obsessed with yoga was I bought a ring for my toe. I was trying to get more in touch with my hands and more in touch with my feet. I thought my hands were fairly smart, but I wanted to get my feet a little smarter – and I wanted to get my hands more stable. The feet know how to hold us up, the hands are still learning.
While you might not choose to wear a toe ring, thinking of the hands as feet is a cool approach if you are wanting to advance in arm balances.
Give this a try:
When standing in tadasana (standing up with both feet parallel and palms together in front of your chest), close your eyes and feel all the tiny movements and adjustments in your feet as you sway, sway more and feel it.
If it’s too much, you can keep your eyes open, but if you just fall that’s ok too, just come back and start again. It’s easier to balance when you are seeing something on the outside, though it’s less beneficial in the long run.
Then do the same in vrikshasana (tree pose), close your eyes and feel the subtle and micro-adjustments in your grounded foot.
These same micro adjustments are what you should be feeling in your hands in handstand.
As a matter of fact, as I recently pointed out here, all growth – in relationships, health, you name it – is really about micro-adjustments and finding balance.
Imagine your ideal partner, whatever partner means to you. Imagine that you know absolutely positively that this partner will be with you for your entire life. Literally until death do you part – like there’s no way it couldn’t happen. Imagine your success in life and your happiness is in some way related to your relationship.
In what ways might you care for the relationship? How might you invest energy into the relationship?
The bones maintain and actually create strength when they work, when they bear weight, and when they face challenge. That’s how the bones get stronger. They literally change shape as we age.
There are those who say that spiritual advancement means realizing that we are not our body. In fact in many ways yoga philosophy says this. Yet at the same time we know in some way we are related to this body, we are inhabiting it, we are with it, it’s part of us.
And so, being optimalists rather than perfectionists, we might seek an optimal positive relationship with body.
Yes, your body is that partner, Your body will be with you this entire life, guaranteed. Husband, wife, children, friends…maybe so maybe not, we don’t know.
One of the pitfalls we can encounter in the relationship with our body is social comparison. We’re prone to do it even in yoga class. In social psychology terms it’s affectionately called “Keeping Up With The Joneses.” Like, The Joneses got a new car, we better get a new car… So we can do that with the body by saying Well, so and So’s got 4% body fat, they have 6 pack abs… and if I don’t, somehow I feel less good about myself.
Here’s the theory I’m working with: Even though we are not our body, we optimize our experience in life – spiritually and emotionally – by optimizing our body. I mean our comfort in it, not necessarily what it looks like – it’s our perception of it that matters, our feeling inside it.
So we can borrow a page from the book The Biology of Belief, Bruce Lipton’s pioneering work. He says that a cell’s health is not determined by its environment, nor determined by its genes, but by our perception of the environment, how it seems to us.
There is no reality about the body, it’s really about the perception.
We all know somebody who has had some challenge with their body image (it might be us). Which really usually amounts to we have no idea how beautiful we are. We think we’re fat or ugly, and whatever anyone else says it doesn’t matter.
If we are going to make comparisons between our body and another body, then we should compare ourselves to someone who is a fat slob. Because then we feel better about ourselves. There is no reality anyway. I’m only kind of joking when I say that, because, if we make social comparisons, then if we compare ourselves to someone who has more, or looks better then we feel bad. If we compare ourselves to someone who has less, or looks worse, then we feel better. There is no actual “reality.”
If we want to be smarter, healther, we leave out the external reference and consider just for ourselves. How do I feel about my body, how do I feel inside my body. We can do the same for our living space (How do I feel about my home?) regardless of whether the neighbors just got a pool or not.
The first pitfall to avoid in developing the optimal relationship with our body, our main partner: Avoid Social Comparisons.
Unless we’re very advanced, and then we can actually use them in a healthy way, like You know So and So goes to yoga every day, I want to hang out with her. We can have our social comparisons be inspiration, rather than an opportunity for self-deprecation.
A good use of social comparison in yoga class is Holy cow did you see what she did, she’s amazing. Not You know what, she’s a jerk anyway, show off. Or I could never do that, I’m no good. When somebody does something amazing, can we say, Wow, if they can do that, all I need to do is practice and I’ll be able to do it!
Our second pitfall is what social psychologists call, the Hedonistic Treadmill.
Hedonism is the philosophy of happiness that says I am happy when I have sense-pleasure. Ice Cream Orgasm theory of happiness. Or pay raise, or new car, or anything that feels really good for about 10 seconds. Or maybe, if we’re lucky we stretch it out a few days, maybe a week, but the thing is that like a junky we always want more. Next hit has to be bigger. I got a pay raise, now I need a bigger pay raise.
The hedonistic treadmill tells us to stay away from anything that is really painful or difficult. But actually it has been shown that easy pleasure doesn’t really lead to happiness. In fact it undermines it. It tells us to avoid exercise and go for the sofa, to avoid healthy foods and go for sugar. And we know, though, when we get fat and lazy it does not lead to health and happiness.
In developing our relationship with our body, this lifelong partner, there is no achieving that relationship – there is only finding balance. Like the balance in a handstand, and like all relationships, health is about micro-adjustments. I ate a little too much, or I didn’t eat quite enough. I exercised a little too much, I didn’t exercise enough.
It is interesting to know that the bones maintain and actually create strength when they work, when they bear weight, and when they face challenge. That’s how the bones get stronger. They literally change shape as we age.
Eventually, in developing our optimal relationship with body (because even if we are not our body, we are at least temporarily in it, relating to it) it stands to reason that everything else we do in life that connects to the body, whether it’s work or play, relationships, parenting, everything in some way we do through our body. So eventually the prayer stops being May it come easy, and becomes May I enjoy the challenge. May I appreciate the benefits that come through working, through resistance. May I find balance. May I create balance.
In yoga, we use the body to affect the mind. In yogic philosophy, it is said that of all the layers of body, spiritual is the most subtle, physical is the most gross. We primarily work with the physical, knowing it will affect the more subtle.
And in the same way, our outer layer, this physical body, becomes our radar, our meter for our overall health. It’s both the meter and the method for affecting full-system health.
This winter I had some general blood tests done and discovered that I have a sluggish thyroid, or hypothyroidism.
The thyroid gland, located in the front of the throat, generates hormones that regulate aspects of digestion and metabolism.
Isn’t it funny how one can feel relieved to discover that there’s an illness or a nameable condition behind vague symptoms such as exhaustion and weight gain? Well, I was both relieved in that sense, and also distressed.
The symptoms that go with hypothyroidism include feeling sluggish, tired or depressed and having difficulty losing weight no matter what you try.
The American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) claim that thyroid disorders in the United States exceed diabetes cases by over 40%, with 27,000,000 people suffering from different kinds of thyroid imbalance, many of which go undiagnosed. I don’t know how they got these numbers, but among the women I know who are 60 and older, many are taking thyroid medicine. I’m only 41, dang.
Hormones from the thyroid gland, which is located in the front of the throat, regulate other functions that ultimately control aspects of digestion and metabolism rates.
Too much thyroid hormone production results in hypERthyroidism, resulting in anxiety, insomnia, and weight loss, among other symptoms.
My problem, though, is hypOthyroidism- a sluggish thyroid – which helps explain my very bodacious figure (loving what is!), and also how easily I have been getting exhausted for the past couple of years.
Thyroid functions can be tested in a variety of ways
TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) test
T3 and T4 testing. T4 is considered a prohormone or hormone enhancer, while T3 is the biochemically active thyroid hormone, much of which is produced by converting T4.
A thyroid antibody test can be given to check if thyroid dysfunction is stemming from an autoimmune disease, like Graves’ disease or Hashimoto thyroiditis.
(Of course, it’s for you to decide if you wish to try addressing the symptoms without medical assessment.)
My TSH was 7.670 (and it should be less than 0.27), my T4 was .96 (should be over 1.2), and my T3 was 2.7 (should be over 3.2). My cholesterol was also a bit high, which can be linked to thyroid.
Most hypothyroidism is caused by insufficient iodine. Many people believe that eating “Iodized Salt” addresses this problem, but it doesn’t for a couple of reasons – the iodine used in iodized salt is not in a form easily absorbable by our bodies, and also it is not very stable, diminishing when exposed to air and humidity. So much for that.
So apparently it’s best to eat unprocessed salts, and eat iodine rich foods.
Iodine Rich Foods:
Shell fish – a great source of iodine, but take care in choosing since areas of the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico have been contaminated.
Seaweeds – an excellent source of iodine and many other minerals. Kelp can be taken as supplement tablets if you don’t like to eat it. Brown seaweed has many other benefits in addition to iodine nutrition and can also be taken as an extract. Again, pay attention to geographical sources.
Coconut oil, organic, cold-pressed is a good source (yay!). It can be used for cooking or in baking, or simply taken plain. It has many other benefits as well. (To make coconut oil truffles, combine coconut oil with cacao powder and honey, and any type of nut or dried fruit – store in fridge. Add cacao butter for more temperature stability).
Other thyroid-friendly foods include butter, egg yolks, cod liver oil. Good news: fats are helpful for thyroid health!
There are also a number of videos and articles on the internet explaining how to use yoga and pranayama to support thyroid health, such as this one.
Hypothyroidism can also be caused by excessive stress for a prolonged period (Uh, that’s me). So yoga, meditation, and a good look at lifestyle choices can be in order.
My doctor initially recommended a bioidentical thyroid supplement, but I decided to start with a couple of months of iodine-rich foods and an iodine supplement (J.Crow’s Lugol’s Solution) to see if that could do the trick, since the thyroid medicines apparently need to be continued forever.
I’ll let you know how it goes when I get my levels tested in another month. I would love to hear others’ thyroid stories in the meantime.
- Contributed by Karali Pitzele, Radiantly Alive explorer extraordinaire – bio here
Some research based on NaturalNews.com and Yogawiz.com