October 4, 2011 by
Fall – Return to your roots As trees lose their leaves, and retreat to their roots, as the days get shorter, and the weather gets colder, we can feel that there’s a tendency to return to the essence of life. To spend more time indoors, with intimate family and friends, and to start looking at our lives in a more introspective way. I believe one way that we can embrace the season of Fall is to clear the clutter in our minds and bodies. Transitioning out of the busy, rushing, abundant nature of Summer we can take some time to rest and rejuvenate. Sifting through our mental identities, the mind chatter, and the accumulated tensions and stresses on our body and mind. Because that stress in our mind translates into our body. We get tight shoulders that carry the world at our ears, jaws that clench at what we feel we can’t express, and backs that carry our anger, grief, and emotions we fear to face. By practicing relaxing and introspective exercises like Yoga, Meditation and Qi Gong, we can clear that excess and learn to focus on the essentials. When we practice Yoga we are able to release tension that is held in the body. We can breathe into the commonly held tension in the neck and shoulders, relaxing the hyper tense areas and learning to strengthen the imbalanced weak areas of the body. When we release that tension, we can let go of emotional baggage, bad habits, and other forms of excess. We return with awareness to the essentials of a happier body and true Self. Qi gong flowing movements are similar to Tai Chi forms. We learn to move with effortless power. We teach the body and mind to move without holding onto stress. When we practice these movements regularly, we can find that our mind can start to flow and focus with ease. We learn to root into the earth, and flow with life’s challenges, instead of being tossed around. Meditation clears the mental chatter. Even if it feels like an endless tornado of thoughts and distractions while you are doing your meditation, it releases that accumulated stress by listening to it. We observe the mind as if we are looking at it from a distance. Look at that thought. Oh yeah another one. Oh I got caught on a train of thoughts now I’ll come back to focusing on the breath. And repeating that process of observing the mind, while continually returning to the breath. When we become aware of losing that focus and find ourselves lost in an alternate mind universe, the breath is the constant. All of these practices are about coming back to the present, and rooting our awareness in the body. The mind can help us to figure out all kinds of different tasks, but if left to it’s own accord, it will continually keep us busy and frustrated. We need to develop that awareness of the body in order to declutter the mind and body, and increase peace, happiness and good health. Namaste. You can find free Qi Gong videos here, and guided meditations here.
September 26, 2011 by
I’m feeling the winds of change of September. I’ve recently moved to Breckenridge, Colorado, started Yoga teacher training in Denver, finished Qi Gong teacher training in Santa Cruz, testing for a Colorado Massage License, and am absorbing the beauty of the Aspen trees changing from green to Golden red. Before I moved I created a video for my Ayurvedic massage teacher, Talya Lutzer, who teaches Ayurvedic cooking classes, does individual Ayurvedic consultations, and catering. She is my role model: she owns and runs her business, helps people heal with deliciously healthy food, lifestyle advice, and massage with essential oils mixed for every individual client. Over the last two years I’ve been passionate about cooking. I started a Vegan potluck group in Breckenridge last winter, and now I hold dinner parties a couple times a month. I love balanced vegan food, and Talya’s cooking class really shined through with it’s combination of tasty food, ayurvedic theory, and group effort. Her classes are great way to bond with friends, so much more powerful than eating out at a restaurant. You’re learning together, you’re cooking together, and you’re discovering what your individual constitution is, and what foods best balance it. If you’re in the Santa Cruz area I recomend you look at her website, see the videos I made, and call her for your next catering event, or cooking class. I also highly recommend her Cook Book. Within the next few months I will be posting more about my Yoga Teacher Training, including Ayurvedic theory, yoga videos, and massage videos. Namaste, Travis Dharma
May 8, 2011 by
I walk out my door to take a 30 minute jog through nature. I wave hello to the oaks, sequoia, and redwoods as I pass, the grass under my toes, the sand from Henry Cowell slipping beneath me. I jog out into the wilderness and find an Oak tree to connect with. I stand quietly, with my arms facing towards him. I send out a loving thought and intention, feeling back to see if he responds. The feeling is mutual, and I come closer to feel the aura of the tree. We connect, creating a cycle going up through my feet, out of my head, and into the tree, through it’s roots, into the earth to be renewed, and back into my feet again. This cycle goes on for several minutes, and I decide to physically connect with the tree by climbing. The tree’s branches go out in all directions. Reaching out to others, it’s limbs are easy to stand on. As I walk on the tree, I can feel the strength; the years and years that it’s been here, cultivating it’s strength, growing out from it’s roots, and expanding towards the Sun. Spending time with Trees is very beneficial for us. Trees are always meditating. When we quiet our minds and intend to connect with them, the trees can help us with many ailments and unbalanced energy. Just like how trees take in the Co2 that we breath out, and give us fresh oxygen, trees also take in our excessive yang energy, and balance out yin energy, allowing us to be more grounded and at peace. They can also help with all kinds of dis-ease. The tree’s roots go down deep, while their branches and leaves reach towards the heavens. Receiving nutrients from the water in the ground(yin) and the sunlight in the sky(yang). They are perfect models for our Qi Gong practice, teaching us how to connect with heaven and earth to initiate healing within ourselves. Sitting with a tree can be very healing. Breathing in the healing energy, and allowing disease to flow out into the earth. Make sure to always keep the highest intent for the tree as well, keeping it a beneficial relationship for the both of you. Don’t choose a tree that looks sick, or is too small to transform your energy. Look for a medium to large size tree, one that you have an affinity towards. It’s good if it’s a tree near your home that you can keep visiting every day. Then your connection will become stronger and you will be able to share and connect more easily with the tree. It’s actually easier to connect with trees that are used to having many people around, versus trees that are hundreds of miles away from civilization. They’re already used to human energy, and would be excited to have one of the people consciously connect. Another way to connect with trees is to climb them. Sitting or laying down on their branches you can feel supported by the safe embrace of the tree. Be sure to be aware and conscious, and as you climb higher up the tree, you can ask it if it is safe to continue. This is a great way to see the world from the trees perspective. I climb a redwood tree is my backyard, and I’m able to see what it’s like to look over the neighborhood from 30 feet above the ground. If you have a fear of heights or of climbing the tree, you can start by doing a standing or sitting meditation with the tree. This will help to ground you, and will improve your physical and mental balance. Declare your gratitude for the tree, thank it for the experience, and for teaching you how to heal and recycle your energy. If you want you can ask what it’s name is, so that you’ll feel more of a personal connection with him/her. Listen and go with whatever pops into your mind first. Remember to return to the tree over the next few months/years, continuing to meditate and connect with this tree. Trees live on a much longer time frame than us, and will open to us more deeply when we see them frequently over a long time.
You can use this practice to connect to the healing energy of nature, balancing yin and yang, quieting the mind, finding inner peace, and refining your senses to pick up more subtle feelings.For more Qi Gong exercises with Trees: How to befriend a Tree
February 18, 2011 by
My second speech for Toastmasters. 1. brainstorm all options and see which path feels right 2. Research the training needed 3. Immersion in a training program 4. Find a mentor to learn from and 5. Give your services to the community Last year I was in college for film in a city that I didn’t connect with, working lighting, sound and projection for local events. I was unsure of my purpose, and as I looked forward to working as an editor for production films, I knew I would have to move to Los Angeles, and that I would be working on projects that I wasn’t passionate about. This was frustrating and disappointing to say the least, I hated living in a city, and didn’t want to move to a bigger one. While I was finishing college, I decided to work on time management, and in my free time I would journal about discovering and following a new career path. If you’re interested in making a career change, my story may help you to incorporate the shift in perspective necessary to transition to a new career. The method that I followed in finding a new career was to brainstorm all my options, see which path felt right, research the training needed, immerse myself in a training program, find a mentor to learn from, and give my services to the community. To discover your options I would write about any career paths that you think you could be passionate about. I wrote about everything from creating documentaries or facilitating and creating visual aids for speakers, to completely different careers like organic farming, massage and teaching yoga. After I’ve created this mix of different careers, I would read each one, look within to my heart, and notice how I feel being identified with that career. In order to figure out which career path feels right, I recommend choosing 3 or 4 options, writing a couple hundred words on each one, and envisioning it as already completed. I wrote this one year ago: “I am a role model for physical health. I do yoga daily, eat a healthy vegan diet and receive massage at least once a week. My clients are interested in being healthier and living with more inner peace and fulfillment. I show them yoga streches and give massage. I also hold a donation based yoga and meditation class for friends and clients. I have a blog where I share my goals and experiences in discovering my purpose and improving myself. I join a support group of massage therapists. We discuss how to create a welcoming atmosphere at your studio, how to build a good website, and other topics. I have plenty of time to myself for journaling, meditation, reading, and relaxation.” After reading this I felt joyous, enthusiastic and ready to start my journey. Now what I needed to do in the process was to learn more about the career through research and “testing the waters” to see if I’m truly passionate. I looked online for possible massage schools and training, I read blogs from successful massage therapists and bought books and DVDs so I could learn basic massage techniques. I interviewed successful massage therapists and learned more about their lifestyles and the strengths and hardships of being a massage therapist. I attended a weekend massage course at the Esalen institute in Big Sur a couple months later to discover if this was my true passion. I touched a dozen different bodies and souls and found the meditative style of Esalen massage to complement my introspective nature, and I loved it. The next step was to immerse myself in a complete training program with peer interaction and insightful teachers. That Summer I enrolled in a massage program in Santa Cruz that would allow me to be a licensed massage practitioner in California. I became very close to my classmates in massage school, receiving and giving massage three to five times a week and evaluating each other’s technique. The teachers were very helpful, answering any questions we had, and providing a demo massage session at the beginning of every class. It’s also very important to learn from someone more experienced, who has been successful in your career choice. The massage therapist that first inspired me to massage became my mentor, and I would trade massage with him once a week, showing him what I learned, receiving feedback, and learning new techniques from him. I saw my skills and expertise grow, and I was excited to have return clients and to continue to trade massage and learn more. After the two month training program, having become competent in giving massage, the next step was to give my services to the community to raise awareness of my new found career. I gave my services to seniors at a community center, at pool parties, Aids bike rides, and to friends and family. I shared a massage studio with a friend, and was building a client base while I continued my education in the fall, learning deep tissue and Thai massage techniques. Now this Winter I’m at the point where it’s time to re-evaluate, and discover where my career path will take me next. I will complete the 550 hour massage program in Santa Cruz, and will be nationally certified by next summer. I am starting this career path method over again, feeling inspired to become a yoga teacher. I have brainstormed, and feel the path of a yoga teacher is my next step. I’m now researching what it means to be a yoga teacher by going to yoga classes daily at the studio in Breckenridge, interviewing yoga teachers, and discovering the differences in how they teach. I am open to opportunity, and looking for a yoga teacher training program to immerse myself in for the Fall. After the program I will find an inspiring mentor, and give donation based yoga classes to the community. Maybe you’re in a similar situation whether it’s time to expand your current career options, or maybe you need to change directions completely like I did this last year. Where is your career path taking you? Is it time to re-evaluate and envision a new future?
January 14, 2011 by
People are sitting, waiting to board the plane, the captain comes over the intercom:
“Sorry but the fire warning light is on, we’ll have to have a mechanic come and check it out. I’m not sure how long it will take”Groans and sighs emerge from the crowd, thumbs are busily dialing cell phones, they’re complaining to one another about how inconvenient this is, and how they had to wake up too early. I put my book away, stand up and start doing Yoga and Qi Gong exercises. The flight was early and I had skipped my usual morning exercise routine, so I decided to make up for it with the extra time I was given by the flight being delayed. You can tell from my last airplane post how much I see traveling as a great transition time to evaluate where you are and to do some great introspection and writing. I understand why people are initially upset by the plane being delayed. Their expectations were different than their reality ended up putting out. After doing all the actions possible; calling a friend who was going to pick you up, asking the steward about alternate flights, and of course updating your Facebook status, there is no reason to worry about it anymore. Many people kept on complaining, sitting and arguing with the steward. It looked as if steam was going to come out of their ears as they tapped their food on the ground and twiddled their fingers on their phone. In such a time of limbo, you should be thankful that you get the time to be with yourself. I find stretching and Qi Gong to be beneficial, because sitting for such long periods of time is a major cause of back pain and bad posture. After practicing for about 15 minutes, someone asked me if I was doing yoga, and started talking to me about her favorite postures. Another woman heard us talking, and recognized me from a yoga class we had together earlier that week. We started doing sun salutations together and talking about our favorite teachers. I’ve learned a new lesson: Airports can also be a great time to connect with people. On a typical day at the airport, crowds of people hardly even recognize the existence of one another. People push past to be first onto the escalator, in TSA screening people stand in line for up to an hour and never learn the name of the person in front of or behind them, on the plane itself people sit for hours and the only contact with their neighbor is to ask if they can get out to use the restroom. On your next flight, talk to the person in front of you in the TSA line. See if the person seated next to you is going home or on an adventure somewhere new. Try doing yoga before boarding time, and see if others will join you. Put yourself out there, and reach out to someone new.
December 31, 2010 by
This time every year people tend to look back on the best of the previous year, and look forward to set intentions for the new year. I recommend you take credit for the hard work and accomplishments of the year, and realize how much you’ve learned and grown. The last year I feel I’ve gone through tremendous growth and change. I left a school that wasn’t inspiring me, saved money to pay for massage school. I became active in creating the change I wanted, knowing that I no longer wanted to go to San Jose State. During my free time I would journal about my desires and visions of career paths, websites to create, and habits I wanted to incorporate into my life. Winter I knew I didn’t want to go to San Jose State anymore, and set a date to leave: June of this year. I decided to do my best, earn money, and learn as much as I could in the time that I was there. I learned a lot about time management, creating weekly goals and time sheets to manage school, work, and personal development. I started to do yoga, the gym, and cardio. I discovered Lucid dreaming, meditation, and Mantak Chia’s the multi orgasmic man book. These served as a great introduction to the metaphysical arts. Spring I became inspired by Steve Pavlina’s writing on self-discipline and started waking up at 6am, successfully converting to a morning person. I started going to a weekly meditation group and as part of my transition from San Jose State to massage school I went to a 10 day Vipassana retreat, which changed my perspective on meditation. I also started this blog and shared my goals and desires with the world. Summer In July I went to Steve Pavlina’s Conscious Growth Workshop and met other inspiring people and reaffirmed my passion for growth and learning. In July and August I completed a 250-hour massage training intensive and expanded my social circle and became four times as sociable and open to new people. Fall I continued my massage education, becoming proficient and finding passion with Thai massage. I continued to take classes in Qi Gong, which I had started in the summer, and met Lee Holden. I’ve started to work with him on his videos, and have learned much about Qi Gong movements and becoming sensitive to the life energy in my body. For the Winter I will be primarily living in Breckenridge Colorado during the winter months. I plan on doing a lot of studying on Qi Gong, web design, and the national massage exam. I will work to redesign this website, creating a custom wordpress theme. I will also be launching a website that will be a community resource for massage therapists and body workers. I see this next year being even better than the last, with many lessons for me to learn, and more for me to teach as well.
November 23, 2010 by
I know I’ve said these words: “I love the effects of daily meditation, but it is very difficult because while I’m doing it my mind wants to do everything except for observe my breath.” Why would you choose to meditate? The many benefits include stress relief, more restful sleep, lower blood pressure, developing self-discipline, and a peaceful, focused mind. I chose to meditate because I wanted a clearer mind, more lucid dreams, and to develop self-discipline. I started with practices of concentrating the mind, including counting deep breathes, focusing on a candle flame, and recorded guided meditations. When I started mindfulness meditation I found it much more difficult. My mind had nothing to control. It only had to focus on the natural form of the breath. Mindfulness meditation is observing your breath, mind’s thoughts, body’s sensations, and emotions without becoming attached to them. This type of meditation is very practical because you become more aware of how you are feeling throughout the day, and can respond consciously instead of reacting to situations. On my 10-Day Vipassana retreat, on day 5 or 6 I was becoming very frustrated with myself. I thought that this is so simple; you just sit and observe your breath. Why can’t I do that silently for even just 1 minute? I talked with the meditation teacher, and learned a lesson that I continue to learn every day. I need to observe the voice that judges myself, and learn to integrate it. I was judging myself for my mind being too busy and becoming frustrated at myself. This is something that I bring into my every day life as well, I have high expectations of myself, and if I don’t meet those expectations a voice in my head will say I’m not good enough or that I’m not trying hard enough. Through meditation I have discovered issues that I need to resolve within myself. All of us have a similar lesson that can be learned through our meditation practice. Why do you find meditation difficult? Do you have a voice that tells you that you aren’t good enough? Are you looking into the past and blaming yourself, or looking to the future with worry? Learn how your personality might take part in self-sabotaging your meditation experience. The last 3 months I’ve been contemplating my self-judgment more and have learned a lot about my self. I’ve opened up and become aware of feelings that I’ve tried to stop. I’ve talked with my self-critical voice to learn what it has to teach me, and to cooperate together. Being able to work through this has helped my meditation practice, allowing me to accept that there are thoughts, without blaming myself. So while my mind still wants to do everything except for observe my breath, I no longer find it difficult because I am not as attached to the outcome.
June 29, 2010 by
This month I’ve done a lot of traveling in airplanes. I’ve gone from Santa Cruz to Colorado, to Orange County (for a libertarian seminar), back to Colorado, and this Saturday I’ll be going back to Santa Cruz. In July I’ll be flying to Las Vegas for a Conscious Growth Workshop. I’ve found these travel days to be perfect for evaluating my life, planning and goal setting. Traveling is a natural transition period. I see these times as an opportunity to prepare to do my best in the following weeks. While traveling on an airplane I’ve enjoyed reading and listening to Philosopher’s notes, which are 20 minute mp3 summaries of one hundred of the most popular self-improvement books. After reading or listening, I’ll often have a flash of inspiration of how I can apply the wisdom in the books to my own life, and I will get out my journal and write. Today I had my weekly goals in front of me, with my to-do’s for the day, but I was still feeling unmotivated. I decided to envision myself at the airport, ready to leave for Santa Cruz. I asked myself: “How do I feel after achieving everything I wanted this last week?” I came up with this list: I am physically fit, having done cardio, yoga, abs, and upper body weight training. I feel closer to Jim, having connected with him while in Colorado. I have clarity on what I desire, having written daily in my Journal. I have published another blog, and have started writing three other rough drafts. I have made connections with yoga teachers and massage therapists in Breckenridge, having interviewed them about their career. I feel inspired to create, having journaled ideas for videos and other content for my website. I feel refreshed, having gone hiking in nature and enjoying the fresh mountain air in Colorado. I feel excited to start massage school, having researched and read blogs about the massage profession. Now I have more clarity on what I desire, and I feel more motivated to accomplish my goals by the time I’m on an airplane again. This new perspective of envisioning myself at the airport, or this place of transition, has given me another way of creating goals and visions for myself. Not only do I create goals when I’m at the airport, but when I become bored or lazy I can reinforce them by envisioning how I would like to feel when I’m at my next “transition point”. On your next flight, see if you can envision how you will feel at your next transition point (when everything goes as you desire).