Be Careful What You Hate 

I admit it; I am an avid follower of any epic battle between good and evil.  So, the other night found me on the couch watching an episode of Merlin on Netflix.  In the episode I was watching, King Uther (not a real nice guy) was described as someone whose “hatred of magic had driven all the goodness out of his heart.” 

Is that what hatred does? I wondered.  Does it drive goodness out of one’s heart?

Today, we hear a lot of “hate” talk and conversations “against” ideas, policies, actions, and groups of people; I’m sure you’ve noticed.  “How could those people….?”  “We have to stop those people…”  We hear statements like this, perhaps from our own lips.  There is even the term “negative partisanship” to describe the motivation to vote because we are more against the opposing party than for our own.  But what is this doing to our hearts?  

There are examples in history of groups seeking to overturn a corrupt government, only to become a corrupt government themselves once they had succeeded.  It seems they became more involved in the injustice they were fighting against, than the just society they were trying to put in place.  In the process, goodness was being driven out of their hearts as well as their hopes for a just society. 

In my personal life, the years I spent protesting and engaging in acts of civil disobedience were from a heart that longed for a kinder world.  It seems, however, that somewhere along the path of my good intentions, I forgot to guard my heart, and I became more focused on what I was fighting against.  As a result, I became increasingly angry as my ability to see goodness diminished. 

If there is any epic battle being fought between good and evil, it is the one in our own hearts, where we can obsess on what we hate and on those we hate.  It is easy to dwell on our resentments, dislikes, and irritations, but at what cost?  

The thing is, where we put our attention grows.  Whatever we dwell on gains energy and vitality.  Every thought, every word, every action is being energized by our attention to it.  

In each moment, we are either nurturing the goodness in our hearts or we are driving it out. 

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The Voices in my Head

I was in the laundromat the other day washing a bedspread.  The place was quiet.  As my eyes scanned the remodeling project in process, a sticker on the coin machine caught my eye.  On the sticker was a cartoonish character with a big grin and the words, “I live in my own little world, but it’s okay…they know me here.”  (credit to Co-edikit)

I knew well what that sticker was referring to.  During the time I was healing from my broken bones, I experienced the full repertoire of “my own little world,” better known as the voices in my head.  Not in a position to escape those voices when they were unpleasant by driving somewhere, calling a friend, or scrolling social media, I was a captive audience.  Not all the voices were unpleasant; there were kind voices along with the cruel ones, and there were uplifting voices along with the real downers.  

In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna teaches Arjuna that we can be a friend to ourself or a foe to ourself; we can lift ourself up or we can cause ourself to sink (paraphrased from a translation by Vyaas Houston).  I held tightly to these words as I sat with the voices in my head and their power to uplift me or drag me down.

When we sink ourselves with denigrating or fearful language, we weaken our clarity, our wisdom, and our energy.  As humans we are an odd mixture of good tendencies and bad tendencies, and all these tendencies have a voice.  When the bad tendencies win out, we can learn from these times and make peace with them and with ourselves. 

These times can be the voice of conscience inviting us to re-look at the event in question and discern how we could have made the situation work for everyone’s benefit.  In re-living the event in our imagination, a different response can be imprinted on our neural pathway.  In this way, we will have learned from our failure and are better prepared for the next time the situation appears.

We can also lift ourselves up by listening to the tender and compassionate voices in our head.  We can nourish these voices, tease them out, and make them a staple diet.  

Choosing which voices to listen to has communal repercussions.  When I sink myself, I take others down with me.  When I uplift myself, I in turn uplift others.

The world needs us in these difficult times.  It needs the best we have to offer.  We can begin to show up to the challenge by making peace with who we are and choosing from the commentary in our head, which voices to dwell on.  This is how we become a friend to ourself and to the world.

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Where Have I Been?

It’s been a long time since I posted; where have I been?

The crux of my absence revolves around a bad fall I had while hiking.  Just like that the life I was living came to a halt. Was life trying to tell me something?  Or had I just been careless?  Either way, the result was the same.  A couple of broken bones, surgery, and complications ended my traveling, teaching, and freedom of mobility.

I had no choice but to sit in my physical pain and mental restlessness.  I also had to deal with my emotional turmoil over events so rapidly happening in my country.  I did the only thing that made sense to me; I turned to yoga philosophy for answers.  I reflected, I digested, I made friends with my breath, and imbibed in moments of self-pity.  When my arm could handle a book, I began to read wisdom texts.  I was on a mission to find answers.

All of this led me to put thoughts on paper in order to understand, digest, and find relevance in what I was experiencing.  It also led to a book in process that you will be hearing more about in the upcoming months.  (And thankfully, time has healed my body as well.)

Do I have it all figured out?  Not even close.  Am I still feeling a turmoil of emotions over events in my country and the world?  An unequivocal yes.  But in my quest the last few years, I have found sustaining moments of peace and joy, a deeper understanding, and wise guidance from the ancient masters.  In upcoming monthly posts, I will be sharing what I have learned in the hope that this ancient wisdom will resonate with you as it is with me. I will also be sharing weekly thoughts on Instagram (@deborahadele.official). 

 Thank you for sharing this journey with me.

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Falling Apart Together

Just like that, the ground has shifted under our feet.  Things are “falling apart.”  It is easy to seek people to blame.  It is easy to seek a narrative that makes sense of it all. 

Yet the unraveling is just beginning; it is too soon to ask questions whose answers are yet to be revealed and understood.  We do not know how many of us will die.  We do not know the economic outcome.  We do not know what relief packages our political leaders will pass into law.  We do not know what miracle cures will be discovered.  We do not know.  

But who we are right now, in this falling apart of things, will shape what is to come. Each one of us is more powerful than we ever could have imagined.  The thoughts we entertain, the use of our imaginations to build apocalypse or utopia, the capacity of our creativity to build something new out of the ashes of our failures, our choices to hoard or to share, to withdraw or to reach out, to break down or to break open….these are already determining what will be and how we will live into it.

We are falling apart together, but we are also laying the foundation for what will come.

Someday history will put all of this in context; it will weave together the causes and the outcome of these times and tell posterity how we did.  What will it write about us?

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Make Goodness Attractive

I love to watch movies with superheroes and heroines.  No matter how desperate things get, nothing is required of me.  Someone with super powers will come along and save me, along with the rest of the planet.

Unlike superheroes who do the work for us, the wise teachers of the past and present don’t “save” us; they teach us how to grow into a people who can “save” ourselves.   They model for us things like awareness, discernment, compassion, shadow work, and a growing love and inclusivity of others.  These qualities require constant vigilance, practice, and a willingness to sacrifice self-centeredness.

While watching Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, a documentary about Fred Rogers, I found myself taking notes.  I was moved by his gentleness and honesty, especially with children. One comment that found its way to paper was Mr. Rogers’ invitation to “make goodness attractive.”

In contrast to Mr. Rogers’ statement is an October 3, 2018 article written by Adam Serwer, a political staff writer for TheAtlantic.  Entitled “The Cruelty is the Point”, Serwer suggests that for many in this country finding pleasure in the suffering of people they hate and fear has become a bonding mechanism that fills the vacancy of cultural loneliness.

It is no secret that our world is struggling for its very survival while we humans determine the very nature of our species.  Superheroes will not save us.  Nothing will change until we realize that we are the game changers and that goodness can be found within us.

As 2019 approaches, can we envision a world where we each find pleasure in “making goodness attractive” and together be the super power we are waiting for.

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On Dying

Wayne Allan Dirks

My father died 2 weeks ago.

He not only had his will, his wishes, and his belongings in order, he also had his heart and soul in order.  He was ready to accept what life brought and to accept death when it came.  He was ready to take his last breath with a prayer of gratitude on his lips.

One of my final memories was sitting on Dad’s hospital bed, holding his hand.  He was in a lot of pain, yet his mind was incredibly sharp. I asked him what he wanted to happen in his pained, weakened state.  He looked at me with the smile I had come to expect and said,  “If I die, I get to be with Jesus, and if I live, I get to stay here with Nancy…either way I win.”

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Meet Fred Pusher

I have noticed lately how often people use the word busy or talk about how much they have to do. Busy has almost replaced the word “fine”, when responding to the question, “How are you?” Even my 3-yr-old granddaughter felt compelled to tell me how busy she was, although I wonder if she knows what the word means.

It seems there are high expectations placed on us by both society and ourselves to meet a certain criteria of accomplishments daily.  I am amazed how much of a failure I feel each day that I don’t post, or go on Facebook, or accomplish much of anything.  I keep looking for something to do, even when my body objects.

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How My Practice Evolved After My Osteoporosis Diagnosis

This article written by Deborah Adele first appeared in Yoga Internatiional 7.10.18

After the 2015 publication of my article “Living in Brittle Bones: My Life as a Yoga Teacher With Osteoporosis,”I was greatly surprised by the response I received. It wasn’t just the number of comments or the enormous interest in the topic. What surprised me was some of the content in what has been an avalanche of emails, that even now continue to arrive in my inbox. The majority of these emails have been from yoga teachers or yoga studio owners who are dealing with the same thing—an osteoporosis diagnosis—and who, in some cases, were told by their diagnosing physicians to give up yoga completely. That surprised me.

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