Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Sandy & Seva

So, the past few days have been quite interesting and to be honest, they have been very eye opening.

Okay, so my last post was composed of me snapping and feeling as if things were never going to get better  It just so happens the universe presented me with an opportunity to see quite a different perspective.

First things first, turns out my laptop wasn't broken (hence the ability to write this post). Basically I just exerted all this energy of anxiety and worry feeling sorry for myself after I had finally reached a breaking point.  Since I wasn't allowing myself to feel what I was going through internally, all of those feelings ended up being unleashed on an external situation (as they usually do).  What a waste of energy (insert sigh here).

Moving on... because that's what we do, we move forward right?

Saturday I was an actual witness and active participant of yoga and life emerging into one as a result of the hurricane Sandy aftermath.  And for all of you out there that think yoga is about doing pretty poses and stretches on the mat, this took place right in my very own home.  It came in the form of Seva Yoga.  Seva, which is the Sanskrit for what we refer to as "Karma Yoga" can be translated in a variety of different ways but ultimately defined as selfless service.  This word means "together with" and is as much as an attitude as it is an action since it is practiced with your mind instead of your body.  Seva yoga is the practice of selflessness and putting others needs before your own without thinking of how your actions will benefit you but rather benefit others.  Seva is an expression of gratitude and allows us to give to others as a thank you to the gifts that we receive.  The reason Seva is considered yoga is because of the combined effects it has with yoga asana(yoga poses practice).

When we practice our asana, we are becoming aware of so many things, such as the movement of our body, different bodily sensations, awareness of our bodies and purifying our bodies with our breathe.  Just like asana, with Seva yoga we do the same thing except we are redirecting the focus to our minds.  We bring awareness to our thoughts, feelings and when we come to a place that feels uncomfortable (just like when we are uncomfortable in a yoga pose) instead of running away from it we use it as an opportunity to see how we can confront it and do our best to move forward even if it may not be what we really want to do.  It's like when we say "what you resists, persists".  The more we run away from uncomfortable or unpleasant feelings in the body, it will always come back until we choose to confront it and adjust to the situation.  Just like in yoga when we come to a pose that feels uncomfortable we want to stop and just give up.  Instead we adjust our bodies and through practice, the uncomfortable feelings will eventually diminish.  The same with Seva Yoga in our minds.  If we don't adjust our thinking and awareness to deal with the uncomfortable feelings that may come up(which they always will) they will always continue to have the same negative affects on us until we surrender.  With our energy and awareness we are able to begin to practice Seva Yoga.

Okay so some of you may start to see where I am going with this, where is the connection between Seva Yoga and Sandy... and how did this happen under my own roof?

I belong to a church, although I am not a particular religion.  I love being able to pick and choose from different principles of different religions and philosophies such as Buddhism, Christianity, laws of attraction and just the natural universe doing its work.  Like I said, I am not your average yogi (or average anything else for that matter).  The church I belong to had called my mother after the hurricane to check up on us and see how we were after the storm.  My mother told the pastor about the flooding and the damage because my father has way too much pride to admit that he was going to need help basically gutting the entire downstairs of our house.  Since the water came up about 4 inches into the downstairs of my house all the wall paneling, sheet rock, insulation and various other projects needed to take place before mold would build up.  One man doing this work could take months.  The pastor asked if we wanted help and a crew of volunteers from the church (who has had hundreds of volunteers from all over the country come to help people in need of assistance as a result of Sandy) to come and help.  My mom of course said yes, because as if my dad hasn't lost enough and done enough... he could  really use the help whether he would like to admit it or not).  Sometimes we have to allow ourselves to push our pride aside, recognize when we are in over our heads and admit that we need help.

Saturday morning ended up turning into a beautiful afternoon.  The sun was shining, my attitude may have been a little restless from the events of the previous two weeks so i decided to do what any UN-typical yogi does... lay a mat out in the street and start practicing.  Aside from the weird looks I received as cars slowed down and awkwardly stared as they passed by me, I would consider it a successful yoga session.  Out of nowhere about 6 or 7 cars started pulling in front of my house.  Not going to lie I was a little frightened at first until I noticed they were all wearing the same t-shirts with the same writing.  As I got closer the text on the t-shirts all said "Centerpoint Church...WE ARE HERE TO SERVE". 

Just like that, my yoga went from on the mat in the street to off the mat in the downstairs of my house. Immediately, 20 people stormed into my house with hammers, trash bags, shovels, crowbars and were all asking the same thing... "what can we do to help?".  I'm not even exaggerating when I say my jaw dropped.  Here came all these random strangers from all different ages, races, ethnicity's, genders and i could not find one thing they had in common except that they wanted to help people affected by Sandy and did not expect anything in return.  Sound familiar?  Seva Yoga.  Selflessly giving from a place of compassion, love, gratitude and just because they felt so fortunate that they could give back to people who needed it more then they did.  At that moment, Sandy and Seva had become one.

The next two hours these strangers (who quickly became family) spent their time gutting the entire downstairs of my home. At first all I wanted to do was go back to bed and wake up when it was all over with but instead, seeing all these people taking time out of their day to help my family who they didn't even know from a hole in the wall inspired me to get my hands dirty.  I put on my working gloves and did all I can do to help them.  Although I couldn't do any heavy labor or construction, it felt good to sweep the nails off the floor, carry the paneling they ripped off the walls to the front of the yard or just be able to hand out water bottles to these people working so hard in my home. Working together, we finished a job that would of taken my family months to accomplish in a little over two hours.  When they were finished all I wanted to do was lay down and rest and so I assumed everyone else would do the same, instead I overhear this group of 20 people talk about the house they were headed over to right after to do the same thing.

As the crew left and he cars started to pull away I was still in shock.  It astonished me how people were so willing to give and serve so selflessly and without even knowing it they were practicing Seva yoga (the yoga of service) as a result of Sandy.  That day I gained some faith in the spirit of people.  Just how people can be so willing to do something good for someone else without anyone else knowing and without expecting anything in return.
Many neighbors came up to me in a state of amazement after witnessing what had just gone on and had one question... "who were those people?".  I didn't know what to say, but after a few moments of reflection I was able to respond "They were here to serve with no other motive other then wanting to help".  In my head the only thing going through my mind was... I want to give back that gift that was so freely given to me.

To conclude, I hope you got as much out of this story as I have.  Not only about the good of people but also how yoga serves us in so many different ways and can be taken off our mats and into the world.

Until next time, Om shanti shanti shanti... go in peace.  Namaste.

Friday, November 9, 2012

From grateful to hateful.. I have flaws

So from my gratitude inspired posts all week and how I'm so grateful throughout this whole hurricane/hurricane aftermath situation all it took was one moment to turn me from grateful to hateful.
Since the whole storm and seeing people who have it so much worse then me i have truly felt as if i had no right to my situation(as bad as it is), resulting in me just talking positive and not expressing how i REALLY felt.  To be honest, I've been freezing, depressed, upset that i don't have a home i can just come and go back to as i please and i just want things to go back to the semi-normal state that they used to be in.

Lets get a little brutally honest here, i am most definitely not your average yogi (and by yogi I'm not referring to that cute little cartoon bear way before my time).  I have a history of drug abuse, i smoke cigarettes, i am not a vegetarian or vegetarian (even if the only meat i do eat is grilled chicken), i don't shop organic, i am probably not the most Eco-friendly person you'll ever meet and i cant sit still for 10 minutes unless I'm sitting.  All of this basically concluding, you wouldn't look at me and think i was your typical yogi.

That's one of the unique things about me.  Through all my hardships that I've been through on my path, it has eventually lead me to yoga.  Yoga is my passion and  everyday helps me better myself then the day before and to me it is about progress not perfection.  It takes time and patience to for everything and that's something I've really incorporated into my yoga practice.  It took me almost a year to get into a headstand and after that year of practice, persistence and patience it felt that much better when I finally got into it.

Anyway, back to the original topic, I'm human and i have flaws. Period.  I can't just pretend everything is all well and good all the time when sometimes i feel as if my world is falling apart.  The past 2 weeks i have spent all my time feeling bad for other people but not letting myself feel entitled to my own feelings.  So eventually just like if you stuff anything down long enough, you will eventually explode.  And to be honest it probably would've been better if I let my feelings out little by little so I didn't have to feel like I was exploding like a volcano, but as I said before.. I'm human and I have flaws.

So today after another cold, miserable week of no gas, power or heat I had finally reached my breaking point.  I was at work and feeling positive, getting my stuff together and setting up to get work down when all of the sudden i reach over and spill my entire black iced tea unsweetened(quirky i know.. and PS, I don't drink coffee either) and the tea goes all over the keyboard of my macbook pro which has been one of the sources of sanity the past couple of weeks.  All in the matter of moments i went from grateful... to hateful.  Long story short,the keyboard stopped working and the laptop wouldn't turn on.  So to add insult to injury, now I'm going to have to pay the $750 dollars to get my laptop repaired on top of the tens of thousands of dollars my family needs to replace our car, our belongings downstairs and everything els that was destroyed in the hurricane.

So to be honest, it wasn't really about the laptop, it was the icing on the cake and all of the built up emotions I had about anxiety, anger and hurt were finally released once i saw that tea spill... all in that split second.  It was a moment of clarity as well that my family does have a long financial road to recovery and sometimes I'm so far off in my selfish agenda that I don't even think about the bigger picture.  When that tea spilt all i could think was, wow... 750 more dollars to add to this big issue that my family is going through.

Here is the good news (sorry to break the news but this does end on a happy ending).  Yoga uses the practice of non-attachment and detachment which are two totally separate things.  In the sutras of yoga, non-attachment includes letting go of attachment to not only material things but fears, anxiety and any thoughts that can distract us from our truest form of self therefore paving the way to our most supreme form of being with the end result being liberation.  Detachment on the other hand is being able to stop amidst the chaos, take a look at the clarity and perspective of things and step away.  As if you're saying it's going to be okay out loud but still having doubt that it might not be in your heart.
I had the opportunity to practice some detachment in this situation.  Awhile back I would've gotten caught up in the chaos and let it absorb me but instead I was able to step back, think about changing my perspective and not let the situation overwhelm me completely.  Even though I'd love to say that I can practice non-attachment and tell you that it didn't bother me at all and I'm on this straight path to liberation, I'd be lying.  I am on a path and I might not be as far along it as I'd like to be but here's the good news... I'm right where I'm supposed to be.

In the end of the day, it's a computer or a car and it's nothing that can't be replaced.  So what?  I got angry and blew up... i will repeat; i am human and i have flaws.  The fact that I am able to see the clarity of the situation is absolutely priceless.  We all make mistakes so we can learn from them and try and do things different next time, after all we only learn from experience... and luckily for me, I seem to have a lot of it.

So maybe you want to ask yourself if you have been holding in feelings that you feel as if you are not entitled to express.  If you do remember there are healthy ways to do so over time instead of waiting until your pressure cooker explodes or you accidentally "spill the tea".
Let us practice some detachment and tune into ourselves and get to source of why something may bother us as much as it does.  Who knows?  We might learn a lot more about ourselves then we might expect.

Until next time, Om Shanti Shanti Shanti.. go in peace.  Namaste :) .

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Where is your energy going?

I was in a yoga class this morning and my teacher/mentor was talking about collective energy.  The collective energy we cultivate can either improve or destruct a situation.  For myself the more energy I put into doing things that make me feel good (such as yoga and meditation), the more i can spread that energy of peace and balance off the mat when I leave the studio. The same goes for others, whether its yoga or anything els who can do to achieve that sense of balance and peace.

As I left the studio i looked across the street at the 2 mile long gas line (which has been the usual for the past 6 days).  People have been going crazy since Sandy hit last Monday.  Whether its the shortage of gas for cars, or those "fortunate" ones who need gas for generators, people are not taking this situation lightly.  Fights breaking out for fuel, people waiting in their cars on 6 hour gas lines, people are litterally going insane to try and obtain the needs that they took for granted just over a week ago.  Even something so minimal as coffee!  The day after the storm hit, Dunkin Donuts had to ration portions of coffee to serve people on 20 minute lines AFTER driving miles to find a place with coffee...period.  While people were figuring how to reconstruct their home other people were concentrating their energy towards where the f#ck they were going to get their sweet hot cup of coffee.  Same spectrum of energy being used, just look at where its going.

Just think about how much your energy plays a part in the world.  We tend to either overextend ourselves to others or on the other end of the spectrum not do anything at all.  We are all on the same spectrum of exerting our energy... maybe its a  good idea to see where your energy is being put out.  By keeping ourselves balanced and doing good things for ourselves that allows us to put out our energy into the world in a more calm, composed and balanced way.  The first way to help other people is to help ourselves, allowing us to help others in a more constructive manner and bringing peace to others by obraining it to ourselves first.

It seems as if all our energy is a reaction to how we think.  Some people think they will die without electric and so they get all this negative anxiety towards the process of getting gas.  Of course we know this isn't the case but what we attatch our energy towards results in the way we react to things.  This is how chaos is emerging and instead of pulling together in a collective balanced energy to get through this period instead people are letting their personal anxiety and personal needs cause a seperation through us.  By taking care our energy first we can personally not contribute to chaos but rather spread a sense of peace.

Until next time,  take a deep breathe... and ask yourself  "what can i do for myself to gain a sense of balance and peace so that I can bring that energy to the people around me today?"

Om shanti shanti shanti. go in peace.  Namaste.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Get involved with Sandy relief!

In yoga, we like to think of karma as an action you put out into the universe.  The more good we put out there, the more positive we recieve.  We only keep what we have by giving it away, meaning we cannot recieve anything back unless we open our hands to somebody els.  Whether your from Long Island and hit by the storm and did not suffer the extent of loss that others did, or you live nowhere near New York and are counting your blessings... please truely think about sharing your gratitude with people who need it!

For those who do not live on Long Island but would like to donate please click the following Red Cross link, where you can text donations, send donations, and look for any opportunity to volunteer in any way you can:
Red Cross

For Long Islanders who would like to volunteer, there are plenty of opportunities to serve:

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Well you have come across quite a unique being if you have stumbled upon here.  My name is Eve Simonetti and I am not your average 22 year old from Merrick,NY .  My journey towarda spiritual enlightenment technically started at 13 years old when i developed an Eating Disorder which still haunts me to this day.  During the past 9 years I have faced some difficulties and struggles that most people dont face in a lifetime. After becoming addicted to drugs in my teenage years, i've had to juggle 2 life threatening conditions.  Between hospitals, rehabs and well over 20 treatment centers, i have met every type of human being imagineable.  It wasn't until 2 years ago when i took my first yoga class i finally started seeing a light at the end of the tunnel... i i didnt have to live like this anymore... there was a better way.  And just like anyone with an addict mentality, i wanted more of what was making me feel good...and thats when i developed an asana practice.  Yoga was the only thing that relieved my anxiety and helped clear through some of the clutter of my mind.  That asana practice led  me to a yoga practice(both very different) and so a whole new journey began.

And so that above was all "about me" and really my main intention of creating this blogger is start to discover who i really am, so perhaps the bottom line is... i'm not quite so sure who i am.  I know what i've been through, i know things on a physical level but when i start looking within, thats where the onion layers begin.

My quest for so called "enlightenment" began many years before i took my first yoga class but the more  yoga i practice the more i question whether doing a bunch of poses and twists will help me reach this mindful and spiritual state instead of just giving me sore muscles for the next 24 hours, only to go to another class the next day and doing it again.  The thing that struck me so much first about yoga is that it made me forget the outside world.  When im in class its as if i dont have to think about anything except that moment.  It may sound odd to some people but with my past addiction and curent anxiety issues it was like a medication that required no pills, doctors, or therapists.  For the first time in a long time i was able to quiet my mind.  It was if someone had shut the switch off in my mind for that hour of moving and meditation.  The problem was that the moment i left the studio the switch seemed to go immediately back on.

If you actually read this first paragraph or my so called "about me" then you know about my past addictions.  Instantly yoga became my drug.  Throughout my life everything just always seemed like one insane situation following another but when i wen't into a yoga class, i was insured an hour of peace... almost like entering some alter fantasy land.  What i came to learn is that this hour wasn't some metaphoric version of "fantasy".  These people were for real.  They were able to calm their minds and reach a state of peace that i can only dream of and not only maintain it for an hour of class, but take it with them outside the studio and share it with the world around them.  The question entered my mind and has never left since... "how do they do it?"

Well on a totalllyyyyy different sidenote, I live on Long Island in New York and last week we were hit with one of the most devistating hurricaines to hit in years, Hurricaine Sandy.  It has been beyond a nightmare.  Houses around me being washed away, everyone losing power, heat, electricity, all of their belongings, ect. Luckily enough, i was fortunate to only lose everything on the bottom of the house due to flooding, one of our cars got washed up by the water rising, personal belongings, heat, electricity and so on.  One might think, how is that fortunate?  Well towns and houses all around me were completely destroyed.... washed away.  People have nothing right now.  People died due to falling trees, fires destroying towns due to power lines down, i just get the chills whenever i think about it.  It makes me really look at my life and how many things i am grateful to have. Throughout this week i have learned that I CAN survive without TV, internet and lights.  The only difficult thing that i've had to deal with is the no heat issue.  I mean i can survive the cold but sleeping with no heat but as temperatures drop as we enter November it's not very practical sleeping everynight with no power and no heat when it becomes almost to the point of freezing cold.  All i have to say is im so grateful for my yoga studio(which luckily maintained power and got through the storm with no damage) where i was able to maintain my practice and give me a place to charge my phone and laptop while i move and meditate.  Plus i dont know if you have had the experience of being stuck in a house with no heat, with your family for days on end when everyone is strung out and fusturated, but people start to lose it.  So im grateful again for a place to go to at least get some peace and silent.. and heat.  Another shout out to Starbucks where I have been squatting out charging my phone and using their wifi so i could start this hopefully ongoing blog to purge all of my neverending thoughts that i usually journal onto this public forum to share my thoughts with all of you (plus the tea and warmth helps as well).

I want to be able to explain the name of this blog and what it exactly means and would like to get around to the subject of people and how in the face of crisis it can be so beautiful how everyone can come together in unity and help eachother.  I would also like to address how agitated people become when in crisis and start losing it when we realize that we cannot easily access our basic needs, for example: people going litterally crazy over coffee and now gas since we have basically none here in New York.  But in the meantime, i'm going to open up my outlet to someone els at Starbucks who needs it and get a warm meal.  Lucky for me my family has a hotel booked for tonight which will provide me with my first warm shower and first warm night of sleep in a week :). It's amazing what you become grateful for when you realize how much you have taken for granted.

So until tonight or tomorrow, stay safe yogis, earthlings, whoever out there may be reading this.  We have much more to talk about ;)

Om Shanti, go in peace... Namaste.