Why would anyone take a vow of silence for one year?

I have taken a one-year vow of silence, meaning that I will not speak with anyone … for an entire year. I know, you’re asking, Why would anyone want to do something like that? Good question.

I have been preparing for this since 2008 by practicing with month-long vows of silence every few months.

Inspired by Baba Hari Dass and other masterful teachers, I have made this commitment because I believe that if I want to see peace in the outer world, I must cultivate peace within myself first.

Many of my friends and family members find it difficult to understand why I choose this practice. One can imagine the many benefits. But only by committing myself to the practice can I learn, grow, and realize these benefits for myself and the people around me. I have to try….

How to relieve menstrual cramps naturally

When I am having painful menstrual cramps, often the last thing I want to do is exercise. I was taught to believe that exercise makes cramps worse. I have discovered that this is simply false. Yoga can relieve menstrual cramps instantly, when practiced with awareness. Last week I was having unusually painful cramps. I thought it would help to take a break from my daily yoga practice, pop an Advil, and stay in bed. But I forced myself onto my mat and began a rigorous practice of sun salutations and weight bearing poses in a vinyasa style flow. At first my cramps got worse and I almost stopped after a few minutes. Instead, I kept going until I broke a sweat. Little by little, pose by pose, the cramps went away. I noticed that deep breathing had a lot to do with this. I experimented with shallow breathing and the cramps instantly returned.

Mother Parama in Bound Side Angle Pose

Parama in “Bound Side Angle” Pose

I think the poses I chose also had something to do with the cramps going away. I included a few deep standing twists in warrior and utkatasana (chair pose). I ended with seated twists: ardha matsyendrasana and marichyasana. I avoided inversions like headstand. From my experience, doing upside-down poses while menstruating feels unnatural: the flow should go down and out, not up and in. Most importantly, it was a vigorous practice. I increased my heart rate, sweated, and maintained deep, steady breathing.

I ended with a little bit of “mental yoga.” I prayed and asked for my cramps to be a reminder of the pain and suffering of other people. I prayed that I would be able to somehow feel pain on other peoples’ behalf, thereby helping them suffer less. I asked specifically that every time I feel the painful sensation of the cramps, that I don’t focus on my own pain, but instead that I channel the sensation into lessening the pain of other people.

I don’t really know if it was the yoga, or the prayer, or both that made my cramps go away completely for the rest of the day. I did not need the Advil. I felt motivated and energized. My yoga practice had an instantaneous, long-lasting effect.

For long-term health, enjoying a vacation is as important as working hard.

I would like to share a daily journaling process that helps me focus on positive, life-affirming truths and accomplish important goals. I use the STAR (Self-Administered Tool for Awareness and Relaxation), a multidimensional model for spiritual growth and awakening.

  • I relax.
  • I travel safely.
  • I enjoy my week of vacation.
  • I am generous with my partner.
  • I am persistent in pursuit of my goals.
  • I forgive.
  • I love and accept myself.

I identified realistic, short-term goals related to these affirmations. Here are some of the goals I accomplished this week:

  • Downloaded new podcasts to my iPod.
  • Maintained my exercise routine.
  • Relaxed and enjoyed a week of vacation.

I made prayer cards based on these affirmations to focus my daily prayer on what is most important to me for my loved ones, the Earth, and myself at this time.

Thank you for witnessing my STAR journaling process. If you would like to learn how to use the STAR, please follow this blog for regular updates.

Understand karma, and know how to live the life of your dreams.

I created an easy way to remember and practice the 5 yamas (ethical disciplines) and 5 niyamas (personal disciplines) of yoga. I wear these 10 disciplines like a rainbow-colored “glove of karma” on my hands, easily reminding myself to observe them throughout the day. These 10 disciplines are part of a complete yoga practice.

My thoughts, words, and actions matter. Nothing I think, say, or do goes for naught. Every single thought, word, and action has a karmic effect. Therefore, I choose the highest and the best thoughts, words, and actions – every day, throughout the day.

Try it! Hold your hands in front of you, palms up. Begin with the right hand. Start at the pinky finger and move toward the thumb.

On Your Right Hand: 5 Ethical Disciplines (Yamas)

  1. non-violence
  2. truthfulness
  3. non-stealing
  4. chastity
  5. non-grasping

On Your Left Hand: 5 Personal Disciplines (Niyamas)

  1. cleanliness
  2. contentment
  3. austerity
  4. self-study
  5. surrender to God

A complete yoga practice includes these 10 disciplines, as well as physical postures, breathing exercises, and meditation.

Nurture yourself so you can take better care of others.

This week I used the STAR (Self-Administered Tool for Awareness and Relaxation) to help me focus on positive affirmations and accomplish important goals. Here are excerpts from my daily STAR journal:

  • I accept myself as I am.
  • I am free of guilt and shame.
  • I practice moderation.
  • I receive my partner’s love.
  • I nurture myself.
  • I give myself and my partner space when we need it.
  • I trust myself. I trust my partner.

I made prayer cards based on these affirmations to focus my daily prayer on what is most important to me for my loved ones, the Earth, and myself at this time. Here are some of my prayer cards from this week:

Goals I accomplished this week:

  • Treated myself to dinner with my husband.
  • Took some time to myself.
  • Rested when I needed to.

How to strike a balance between work and play

This week I used the STAR (Self-Administered Tool for Awareness and Relaxation) to help me focus on positive affirmations and accomplish important goals. Here are excerpts from my daily STAR journal:

  • I balance work and play.
  • I am prepared for the future.
  • I am clear about what I want and need.
  • I have all I need.
  • I share openly.
  • I take it slow and steady.
  • I surrender to what is.

I made prayer cards based on these affirmations to focus my daily prayer on what is most important to me for my loved ones, the Earth, and myself at this time.

Each day I identified at least 1 achievable goal based on my affirmations. Here is what I accomplished this week:

  • Inventoried my emergency supply kit.
  • Designed a weekly schedule to organize and publish blogs.
  • Transcribed recorded voice memos.