Inner Space: The Final Frontier (CalPoly051315)

Note: This is the first in an ongoing series of articles documenting the extraordinary evolution of my now two-year-old, weekly Human Being Training program at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, CA. I'm deeply grateful for the 35+ humans who participate in these yoga-based, music-driven adventures, since although I'm the titular instructor, the synergy we create together is what makes possible some truly jaw-dropping alchemy.


The energy of the community this week was crackling, edgy. It reminded me of the feeling I had recently during an autocross race when the back end of my car broke loose on a diabolically uneven, extra-long sweeping turn. The 360 that followed was epic, but disorienting. I was borrowing a magnificent, AWD turbo and forgot that the one thing to do with an all-wheel-drive car when its back end slips is to Floor It. And so we did in class what I failed to do on the race course. It was a sweaty, glorious mess.

Not my EVO, but you get the idea.

Not my EVO, but you get the idea.

I often have a theme of the week for Human Being Training (although I let the details fill themselves in as the class unfolds) and give a short talk on it before we get moving. This week, fueled by this life-altering Eckart Tolle video I've been studying, we explored the metaphorical concept of Inner Space: The Final Frontier. (I'm a total Star Trek dork, so this is how the Info presented itself to me.)

As always (OK, as often as I remember), I was practicing relaxing, setting down my ego, and letting the Information come through me as accurately as possible.

I try to listen to what my mouth says during Human Being Training, because when I let the Energy speak through me, it's generally pretty useful in the sense of providing instruction on how to become a Real Human Being. (This is how I think of folks like Jesus, Buddha, The Dalai Lama, Allah, Krishna, The Flying Spaghetti Monster, Yoda, Your Favorite Avatar Here, etc.) And above all else, I'm passionately keyed in to removing as many layers of my Not-Self as I can in this particular lifetime. (Side note: I just saw the new Mad Max: Fury Road movie today--they call Real Human Beings "shiny" or "chrome." Cool.)

The excellent thing is that each of us is already Shiny. And most of us forget this surprising fact as we tool around in our little daily worlds, lost in a wilderness of jibber-jabbering, meaningless, constricting thoughts fueled by our raging egos and untrained but powerful five senses.

Most of us have forgotten that the Brain Mind is the servant of the Heart Mind and the Gut Mind, not the fucking boss of us. (Guess where your terrified, tyrannical, torturing ego lives? Mmm-hmm.) And most of us have also forgotten that each of our senses is a big red button in our spacesuit bodies, which are tools for exploring Time/Space. When you use them correctly, you can play the Game. When you don't know how your spacesuit works, you don't know there is a Game, and how much crazy-ass fun it is.

So here's the crux of what we learned this week: To create some space inside you, some deep peace and relief from the incessant, maddening barrage of the Monkey Mind (have you noticed all that internal noise?), to train your Brain Mind to do the will of the more intelligent Heart and Gut, you only need to watch your body breathe. Or feel the inside of your left foot or hand. In other words, feel the Life that you are. Observe that you are not the nerve impulses that create thoughts. You are what watches the thoughts arise.

Until next week, Human Beings, have fun and for God's sake don't take my word for any of this! I'm continually flabbergasted by the amount of stuff I don't know. Maybe, if you want, try some of these ideas for yourself and see what happens.

All my heart,

Amanda


Things to Practice with Your Spacesuit This Week

1. V-e-r-y....s-l-o-w yoga pushups, with elbows in and a good plank going on (aka chaturanga). 10 seconds down, 10 seconds up. I can do 2 so far. Remember, slowness is a path to mastery and tremendous strength.

2. The hip mobility work we did. I found the exercises here. Love these guys.

3. As many frog leaps as you can do in 30 seconds. Do them like this!

4. Party trick o' the week: sit-throughs.

PLAYLIST

The Great Cartwheel Conspiracy of 2013

Note: All entries earlier than this one refer to Human Being Training's predecessor, Flash of White. I still like the articles, though, so I'm leaving them up. - AL

From the "news" (hope you're not still watching that!) to public schools to conventional medicine to government to corporate consumerism to law enforcement, there are many factors working to suppress the tidal wave of awakening humanity and make us feel very....frickin'....serious. Very threatened, small, and powerless.

And that's OK: it's all part of the cycle. According to Alan Watts, a hero of mine, we're exactly on track.

One of the most powerful things we can do to expedite the process of our evolution—of becoming Real Human Beings—should we care to, is to have some eff'n fun. Many, many people are beginning to figure this out and have started spontaneously dancing in public, offering free hugs on the sidewalk, developing alternative economies and ways of living together, and generally having a great time.

They're looking where they want to go, not where they don't. Cisco's dad taught me that key concept years ago while we were mountain biking on single-track, right after I climbed back up a steep, thistle-grown hill.

And in that spirit, conspire with me—literally, "breathe with me"—to have fun now. If it's not a cartwheel, make it a somersault, or a frog leap, or a hug, or a heart-felt compliment.

Dare to come alive! Do the unexpected. Be your weird, wild, wonderful self. Do what you want! And in doing so, inspire and alight those around you with the warrior courage it takes to walk the Earth as a Real Human Being.

Let us know how it goes! And PS: By not watching the news, we're not burying our heads in the sand. Nope. Know what's happening (without the corporate spin), and then look where you do want to go! Choose where to send your energy, is all. :)

Watch our video here!

The Plank of Doom

I guess my definition of "fun" is a little unusual.

My students have learned that when I say, "OK, so let's try something fun!" some serious shit is about to come down on them. There are usually moans and groans, and sometimes there are flops onto the floor as dread overwhelms.

Most of them, though, surprise themselves by rising to the occasion and finding that a good old-fashioned challenge is, yeah....fun. I love seeing the furrowed brows transform into smiles of discovery as they take on the challenge and win.

In this coddled, automated society, we've forgotten how glorious and gratifying it is to test ourselves, mentally and physically, against an opposing force—even if it's "just" our own bodyweight. And then how fabulous is it to watch ourselves quickly adapt, get stronger, and want to have even more fun?

So, here's Cisco's and my latest quick-workout video for you, which I call the Plank of Doom. Make sure not to commit the rookie errors of sticking your butt up or letting the hips sag. If that happens and you can't help it, just try to hold a good plank for 30-60 seconds until you get stronger.

You're awesome. Mwa!

When sheer panic is a good thing.

When was the last time you literally fought for your life? I mean, literally. Like if you didn't do something intelligent with your body—immediately—it would die or take major damage? I'm not talking about the pervasive, toxic adrenaline dumps that many of us endure multiple times on a daily basis. The wife yells, the boss is suddenly distant, the past-due bills pile up, the idiot in the beige Taurus crosses into your lane while texting, the kid breaks curfew. Again.

Kind of like this.

Kind of like this.

All of these unpleasantries provoke the much-maligned (but truly wondrous) flight-or-flight response, a torrent of chemical and hormonal reactions designed to move our bodies into a place of safety. The thing is, unless there's a lion a claw's-length away or you're running as fast as you can to catch something for dinner, your incredible body dumps its magical survival brew into the bloodstream and it stews there—all that power and potential swirling around with nowhere to go. This is bad.

Our amazing bodies live in a time way back when we still had to smash invading hordes over the head and somehow procure a bit of animal protein to survive. Sometimes simultaneously. The problem is, with rare exceptions, our bodies can't tell the difference between an angry husband and an apocalypse-level event. So it helpfully downloads, almost instantaneously, everything you need to blast through the Level-Red Crisis....and then you go sprawl on the couch to watch American Idol. And stew not only in all those powerful chemicals, but in the emotions that triggered them.

I've got an idea for you. I've got a better way.

Watch this video and change your life. Teach it to others and become the change you wish to see. Your time is now.

Sit-ups don't work. Here's what does!

Seriously, quit it.

Seriously, quit it.

If you're still a devotee of sit-ups and crunches, I have some bad news and some good news.

1. Bad news first: They don't work. You can't "spot reduce" that area to magically reveal a nice, tight six-pack. Also, they put tons of strain on your delicate neck and upper-back vertebrae. Are your neck and legs often more tired than your abs after a killer crunch session? Your body's super smart--it's recruiting those muscles in an effort to help you slog through your session. Its job is to make everything you do as efficient and easy as possible. So we have to shake things up! Also, by working those muscles in isolation, you exacerbate the imbalance between a tight front (abs, hip flexors) and a weak back that most Westerners suffer from, which generates chronic low-back pain.

2. Good news: You hate sit-ups, don't you? So cut that out. Let me show you something way more effective. By recruiting both your entire abdominal sheath of muscles AND the rest of your whole darn body, you'll burn off the fat that's covering your glorious six-pack (we all have them, but if you have some "padding," they won't show) and transform yourself into a sleek, powerful, graceful god/goddess.

Jogging, treadmilling, Stairmastering, ellipsing, and all those other tedious hamster-wheel exercises cause fat retention, increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and extreme boredom. That's because human bodies aren't designed to work that way! We're meant to run from threats and chase prey. Because our genes still haven't caught up with the Information Age, if we want to stay fit and lean our whole lives, we need to simulate our hunter-gatherer ancestors and incorporate short bursts of intense activity into our daily lives.

Doing conventional crunches is also ineffective and a complete waste of your precious workout time. So let me show you what to do instead that's fun, fast, and—above all—effective! Here's Cisco's and my video of the week. There are a few additional instructions below the vid, so don't miss those for enhanced wonderfulness with this exercise.

A few extra tips for refinement:

1. In my martial art, we use the term taijutsu, meaning "body mechanics." Good taijutsu is very simple, but essential to make this effective for you. "Tuck your tailbone down" means, in other words, to stretch the base of your spine back toward your heels. I had a yoga student once whose back kept looking very swayed in plank pose. Turns out she was very carefully (and literally) pressing her tailbone toward the floor, causing her back to bend. Don't do that. As you press your tailbone back toward your feet, also draw your bellybutton toward your spine. This has the effect of firming and stabilizing the entire core area. Still don't get it? Picture a spiral of energy drawing the front of your body toward your face and the back of your body toward your feet.

2. If you're new to fitness and have been relatively inactive for years, PLEASE (yes, I'm yelling) start with the "easiest" version of this exercise, i.e., on your hands and knees. Neither of us will be happy if you hurt yourself and have to stop before you even get started. I'll come find you and box your ears!

3. Remember, you now have no excuses not to exercise! You can do my workouts anytime, anywhere. Depending on your level of ballsiness concerning working out in public spaces, the world is now your gym. Last week I did a quick workout on a pier over the ocean before a meeting. If people stare, invite them over to join you! You'll get laughs and smiles, and they probably won't, but I bet you'll inspire folks to get off their butts! This is revolutionary work, I tell you. :)

Next week: An amazing, spirit-boosting exercise that also sculpts your arms into beautiful, high-tensile steel (men and women both). No weights or pushups required!

The warrior's code

Many of you who practice yoga with me have been hearing a lot about spiritual warriorship. I've suggested that if you're on a spiritual path, which to me includes practicing yoga in a mindful way, you're a warrior. That if you have an open heart despite the current societal forces aligned against you, you're a warrior.

A true warrior, and the most fearsome one on the battlefield, is the kindest, quietest, humblest person you'll ever meet.

Whether a martial artist or not, the best warriors are those who smile as you approach with ill intent shining in your eyes. (And yes, I do know this from personal training experience.)

Not only do they really enjoy what they do, they see your upset as a sign of inner turmoil and feel the utmost compassion for your pain. Their main goal is to keep you from hurting yourself or others. And at the same time, they do not hesitate to protect life if necessary.

The other night I was reading Bushido: The Warrior's Code (Nitobe 1979) when I came across this phrase: "The bravest are the tenderest; the loving are the daring."

Kindness and compassion are often mistaken for weakness by those who don't understand the warrior code by. To allow our hearts to open and remain open is the most courageous act any of us can perform right now. Because through an open heart, Source Energy can flow. That is our highest purpose.

Each of us carries two blades: the heart and the mind. Each must be carefully crafted and tempered (through training) to cut cleanly through our own ignorance and those of others—with the most profound kindness imaginable.

As humanity leaps forward, it's up to each of us to use our blades wisely and compassionately. Discipline and training in their use is highly recommended.

Flash of White is born!

Flash of White is a technique in the martial art I practice and teach, Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu, that can drop a man like a sack of spuds. Bujinkan is nothing if not practical. That's what we love about it! I use the phrase here to mean a metaphysical smack upside the head, delivered with great love, compassion, and respect. (By the way, I've learned that a true warrior will also deliver a physical blow in the very same manner.)

Sometimes awakening comes to us in a flash, and sometimes it needs to to penetrate all the crud that's built up on the windows of our souls.

Some of you might remember that I used to run the Natural Health Allegiance. And guess what? It gave me a nervous breakdown! I discovered that when you run a retail outfit, there's little if any time to work with actual customers, which is why I started the NHA in first place. Tell you what, retail freakin' sucks. At least for me.

That's why I'm back on my heart path with this site,  and I've never been happier. So when I talk about an MSUH (metaphysical smack upside the head), you can rest assured that I know what I'm talking about! My experience with the NHA gave me such a blow that I literally re-exploded my life (a year after exploding it the first time;  I adore fireworks--oooh! aaaah!), landed in an incredible place called Sunburst Sanctuary, and got back to what I had hoped to be doing in the first place, this time with amazing support and love from the new family I've found in this intentional community.

One of my favorite authors and personal development coaches, Bill Poett, wrote a book called The ABCs of Peak Performers. In it, he issues a powerful reminder to anyone at risk of burnout (and who isn't these days): "Sustaining enthusiasm is linked directly to how closely our goals are aligned to our soul purpose." That's what happened to me: I couldn't sustain my initially strong enthusiasm for the NHA because it became all about sales numbers, filling out forms, and making the quarterly taxes.

I did learn this: what I've been put here to do is to remind you that life is supposed to be easy (yes, easy!--see "Add Water and Mix"), joyful, abundant, and balls out! As my man (and best friend and No. 1 fan) Jim Risinger always says, "Go big or go home." Right? When you're on your death bed, will you look back and go, "Man, I sure wish I'd played it safer and squashed down my spirit some more so others could have felt more important." Uh, no. You can even try my self-reminder method if you like:  I wear a bracelet of skulls made from yak bones to keep myself awake and aware that time is short and life is precious. Warning: This makes watching stupid TV shows really challenging.

So, haven given you some background on how I got to this place and what I'm doing now, I want to thank all of you who have stayed in touch over the last year. Jim and I are really excited to connect and play with you in this new capacity. If you're looking for bad-ass inspiration and information about natural health, Bujinkan training, incorporating yoga into your life in a sustainable way, or living as a spiritual warrior, we would be honored for you to use Flash of White as a resource and online community.

As the poet Rumi has written, "God circled this place on a map for you." So here you are, and we're very glad!