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 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!

How to Do Yoga Sun Salutes for Health, Happiness, and Stress Relief

Ever despair that because of time and money concerns you'll never manage to work yoga into your life, despite knowing how good it is for your mind, body, and spirit? Well, despair no more!

In this video, I show you how to do Sun Salutations, one of the most effective strengthening, stretching, and stress-relieving yoga sequences, in the privacy of your home (or at the park or in your garage, etc.). It's wonderful and very helpful to go to a lovely yoga studio (like mBody, my home studio in San Luis Obispo, CA), but when you only have a few minutes or are short on dough, don't let that stop you from getting healthy and happy on your own!

One of my main reasons for getting up every day is because I LOVE empowering people (including myself) to do things that they believe they can't do. Now, in your case, that belief may be:

a) "I can't do yoga because I'm too old, stiff, klutzy, injured, overweight," etc.

b) "I can't do yoga because I have to spend many hours and dollars every week to learn how. And I ain't got either of those things."

c) All of the above.

Sometimes, all that's required to break down that "I can't" barrier is for someone to tell you, "Yes, you can," and then show you how. Others really like to argue for their limitations. If you're the first kind of person, I can help you. If you're the second kind, I wish you peace and release you!

So, Type Ones, here's what you do. Shift your focus from A and/or B above to this new belief: "I have 5-10 minutes to practice Sun Salutes on most days because I want to be strong, flexible, and relaxed. I'll enjoy a full-length yoga class with an experienced teacher when I can, and in the meantime, I practice on my own or with friends/family at home.

See? Easy breezy. Next, watch Cisco's and my video this week and give it a try! I'll show you two versions of the Sun Salute: one for regular folks and one for people with twingy backs or who are working on building strength. Have fun and send any questions that come up. Namaste!

I pray for squashed bugs.

Yesterday I witnessed something beautiful: I got to watch a master yoga instructor work his way through a roomful of students who were experiencing different areas of stiffness ("resistance"). He guided each of them to a personal realization of how to heal themselves. Peter Sterios, cofounder of mBody Yoga in San Luis Obispo, California, is a 500-hour registered yoga therapist (RYT), and has been studying, teaching, and practicing for more than 30 years. As a former self-described stiff guy, he's uniquely qualified to teach about compassionately overcoming resistance in the mind-body-spirit complex. I feel privileged to be continuing my own lifelong training with him at his beautiful studio.

violent_universe

Among all that I learned yesterday during Peter's three-hour Yoga Mentoring class, one thing really jumped out at me. Here it is:

The Universe is a violent place. And that's OK.

This information came to light while we were all kneeling with our toes bent back. For a really...really...long...time. (OK, maybe it was a minute or so. You try it and get back to me, tough guy!)

At this precise moment, just as I was calmly (from the outside, anyway) observing myself about to blow a gasket from the intensity of the sensation, Peter brought up the topic of ahimsa.

Ahimsa is a concept in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras that is often translated as "nonviolence." It's become the basis of many a vegetarian and vegan diet, as well as countless personal practices that seek to cause as little pain and suffering in the world as humanly possible. Have you heard of the monks who won't bathe because they might kill microorganisms on their skin or in the water? I think that's beautiful in its earnestness, but then I get a little panicky because I think of the millions of microscopic organisms that I'm breathing—right now—that I just killed. There go some more! Aaaahhhhh!

germ

However, as Peter pointed out, "we live in a predatory universe." Everything living, in order to survive, is required to destroy something else, whether plant, mineral, or animal. Therefore, if we look more closely at the concept of ahimsa, and translate the ancient meaning more accurately, it really means something closer to "restoring balance." In my opinion, avoidance of and guilt over all kinds of "violence," even if it's the kind we use to feed our bodies or defend ourselves, is out of alignment with Nature and the natural order of things.

As an instructor of yoga and fitness and a practitioner of the martial arts, I've often told students, "If it hurts, don't do it." Pain causes a sharp, electrical, stabbing sensation that's the body's way of yelling, "Hey! Knock that s--t off!" But I also believe there's a critical difference between "pain" and "intensity." We don't want pain; we do want intensity. Intensity, whether physical or emotional, is where growth and rebalancing can occur.

Hey, I'm doing it!

Hey, I'm doing it!

So when we work with our bodies to keep them in their natural state of flexible strength; when you tell a coworker or partner that no, it's not OK for them to abuse your good will and generosity yet again; or when we eat (hey, those organic sprouts were loving life, too!), maybe you could see that as a rebalancing of energy, not being violent.

You have a right to thrive, too. And as a human, you have the unique option to do so with wisdom and compassion. So pray for those accidentally squashed bugs! Thank your sautéed chicken with greens as you sit down for lunch. Take back your power from those who mistreat you. Enjoy the intensity of the yoga pose that always frustrates you. Practice ahimsa on your path to becoming a real human being!

Thanks for reading, and please let me know what you think. I'd love to hear from you!

Blown Away

The wind this week has been crazy where I live! The wind is an apt metaphor for how tons of people are feeling these days: blown around and buffeted like a leaf ahead of a thunderstorm, with no end to the chaos in sight.

So this week I felt inspired to offer several ways to reduce your stress levels—methods that I use personally throughout the day. Each of them resets chronic hyperventilation patterns (shallow chest breathing) to deep, natural belly breaths, eliminating or reducing the confused, anxious, irritable feeling that so many of us have come to accept, tragically, as our normal state.

Remember: you don't have to go to yoga class to experience the benefits of this ancient practice! While we'd all like an hour and a half to dive into a bamboo-floored, lotus-scented spa experience, if that's not an option for you right now, you can get virtually the same stress-relieving effect from incorporating these few techniques into your daily life for a minute or two. Real magic can happen when you make these and other fitness and stress-relief techniques part of your daily existence!

Share these with your kids, your parents, your love, and watch as your inner and outer worlds transform into oases of calm. Find the eye of the hurricane and enjoy a rest, even as the storm swirls around you!

Bust Out of the Workout Box, Beautiful!

I just launched a new series of classes for 2012 based on the nutty workouts I've been doing on my own for the last two years.  Well, people say they're nutty and that I'm nutty for doing them. But then they do them with me and (when they can put a sentence together again) go, "Oh, man, that's GOOD!" It's like your body finally gets the thing it's been craving for so long.

Watch video demonstrating moves and modifications.

 

 

Bonzai the Border Collie & Why You Remind Me of Her
Our bodies (and our minds, too) are like my border collie, Bobo, may she rest in peace. Those of you who know working dogs know that they go crazy when they don't have a job to do or a challenge to surmount. They get all weird and start pushing furniture around with their faces and barking at the corner and stuff.

These astronaut suits we call our bodies are meant to WORK, not sit for eight hours a day and then go home and sit for another 2.5 hours in front of the TV. (That's the average amount of time Americans spend in front of the television in 2012, by the way. The average. And how much do we complain that we don't have any free time to—ahem—exercise or practice yoga or meditate? Just saying.)

But Wait, There's More! So in my fearless search for the best way to get fit and stay fit without a gym membership, a huge contraption that will end up with clothes on it in the corner, or a closet full of Home Shopping Network Ab-zer-cizers or whatever they are, I've discovered that the cutting edge of exercise science points to short-burst, high-intensity, body weight workouts. Please benefit from my many hours of research and experimentation on my own personal self.

And Now, My Point Below is the handout that handed out to my new workout buddies at our first class this week.

Give it a try and see if it doesn't light you up! There's a short FAQ section after, too, in case you have questions. I think it's pretty entertaining as well, if I do say so. (For those of you who don't know the moves listed below, Jim and I are making a video this week to show you! Hopefully, he won't have to go to the bathroom in the middle of it like my last cameraman. UPDATE 1/14/12: My spectacular kid Cisco did do the video this week, and added his own special flair! Thanks, Cis!)

Rocket Fuel Renegade Fitness Burst (Week of January 2-8, 2012)

5-min. active warm-up: squats, side lunges, pushups, side bends, ankle/neck rolls

Main workout (each for 30 seconds); 1.5-min. break after each set, i.e., all 4 exercises in a row, for two minutes total; try for 3-8 sets

- Burpees

- Plank (hold with good form or add toe lifts)

- Lunge steps forward and then backward; add front kick if you want or weights

- Mountain climbers (bottom down, core stable, knees come way in toward nose)

5-min. cool-down: walk, half squats, stretches

Watch video demonstrating moves and modifications.

THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND DURING YOUR RFR WORKOUT:

  1. By the second set, you should reach a Level 8 on a scale of 1-10 effort, with 1 being a slow stroll and 10 being throwing up. HINT: Conversation is not possible at Level 8. Throughout the workout, you should never be comfortable. You should be working hard at all times, even during the rest interval (i.e., breathing hard).
  2. Go as quickly as you can with good form. Don’t let your back sag in plank/pushup or get sloppy with your mountain climbers.
  3. NEVER skip the warm up or cool down. Trust me.
  4. Maintain awareness of the core (abdomen and low back) at ALL TIMES. You’ll never see me do a sit up. The RFR makes them completely redundant. Besides, they’re a waste of time and not very good for your back and neck. Also, six-packs come from removing the layer of fat over your upper abdomen. Everyone already has a six-pack—that's how the muscles are shaped.

FAQs

Why is RFR a really good idea? Short-duration, high-intensity workouts are what your body is designed to do. It’s how it’s supposed to work. We evolved to run away from a lion or run after a deer for dinner, and then move slowly and steadily for the rest of the day. How do we know that? Because of how powerfully and quickly our bodies respond  to the demands this workout places on them! You'll notice  rapid release of fat stores (particularly the dangerous deep kind that surrounds your organs), quick muscle building and definition, an increase in human growth hormone (HGH: our biochemical fountain of youth), heightened feelings of well-being, and reduced stress hormones. (Did you know that the stress hormone cortisol actually signals your body to store belly fat? Talk about stressful...)

How often should I do these crazy workouts? Please note that too much of this workout will largely reverse the benefits (see my note above about cortisol)! Do not do the RFR workout more than 2-3 times per week, especially if you're a beginner. This is why I don't endorse those intense, 6x-week workouts that are so popular right now. Too much of a good thing. Rest is equally important to work, and critical if you want results! Also, once you get to a relatively high base level of fitness, you'll feel like the border collie above when it's time to work out—just TRY and stop ya! That's a good barometer. You should always feel better after your RFR workout, not worse. If you feel worse, take a day or two off, go for some nice walks, and start slower until you get that border collie feeling again.

What should I eat/drink to maximize my benefits? To get the most out of your RFR workouts, try to do them on an empty stomach (i.e., don’t eat for two hours beforehand). After the workout, whatever you do, do not eat anything containing fructose (like fruit, or especially sports drinks or anything with high-fructose corn syrup)! This will immediately shut down the release of HGH, which is the main benefit of the workout. Drink water. In general, avoid all grains, sugar (including agave, which through great marketing got the rep for being OK—it’s worse for you than HFCS), soy, and processed foods. This will greatly enhance the health benefits of your workout. Also, remember that fat doesn’t make you fat. Fat is your massive weight-loss friend. It’s the KIND of fat that matters. Avoid all vegetable oils like canola, soy, etc. Eat lots of organic coconut oil (only cook with this, too!), some raw nuts and nut butters, organic eggs, and raw dairy if you’re not allergic. Organic, grass-fed, free-range meats cooked gently are also huge sources of CLA, a special fatty acid that’s like a miracle for weight loss. (High heats damage almost all fats and make them unhealthy.)

Why should I give up my hour-long treadmill workouts or long-distance running/walking that the doc said I need to do for my heart/cholesterol/weight loss/etc? Docs know a lot of stuff. Unfortunately, they’re not trained in (or, in many cases open to) the latest science on nutrition and exercise. Too bad. The hour-long treadmill/long-distance paradigm is very old science and it’s wasted many hours of our precious lifetimes. We used to think it burned fat, and while any exercise is better than no exercise, it turns out that our amazing bodies are so adaptable that they quickly get used to these long, low-intensity workouts and get even BETTER at storing fat!

Your body will help you facilitate whatever it thinks you want to do, so if it sees you wanting to run 80 miles a week or spend an hour a day on an elliptical trainer, by God, it’s going to make sure to store up some fat so you can keep doing that! (Your joints will also probably start to hurt a lot, because they’re not meant to take that kind of punishment.) On the other hand, if you keep your body guessing and constantly change the demand you place on it (which it’s longing for you to do, by the way, like a border collie waiting for an assignment), it will burn off your stored fat and build muscle so you can be the lean, mean, fighting machine you’re asking it to be! It says, “Oh, Amanda needs me to be fast, strong, and light! OK, here we go!”

What are the psychological and emotional benefits of RFR? When you see how quickly your body gets strong, fast, and beautiful, there’s a tremendous sense of empowerment. You feel like you can take on the world. Your self-confidence grows exponentially. Sleep improves, mental acuity rises, stress lowers, posture aligns, sex improves, depression and anxiety recede, your mind opens, happiness grows, energy skyrockets, and life just gets way better.

But what if I get all big and bulky? If you’re a woman and you’re taking steroids, that could be a problem. If you’re a woman and you’re NOT taking steroids, it’s not going to happen. You’ll get lean, defined, and eye-catching. Linebacker necks and tree trunk arms only happen to men because they have a buttload more testosterone circulating in their blood. And those guys usually spend too much time in the gym. Men, the RFR will sculpt you into sleek Greek gods. Our bodies are designed to move gracefully and fluidly. Not like bulldogs or oil tankers.

How come I can't just find my own workouts and do them at home by myself? You can, and I hope you do! There are tons of great bodyweight workouts to try out online. However, in my own experience, I've found that I push myself WAY harder and have WAY more fun when I'm working out with others. I have a little competitive streak that adores pitting myself against others in the room. (Note: You won't see this side of me in yoga class!) I notice, too, when I'm working out in the living room, there are a million distractions: the plant leaves suddenly need to be relieved of dust, my cat is SO cute, those crumbs on the floor again.... You know what I mean. So come out and play with us, take some time for yourself, and really blast off into a new you this year! I'd love to help it happen.

What can I do to complement my new RFR speed and strength with flexibility and poise? Funny you should ask! YOGA is a great complement to RFR. Come try my new Thursday night Supersonic Yoga class at Bloom, my Monday 12:15-12:45 RFR class at Bloom, or any of the other wonderful local classes.

Why are you here?

I asked my yoga students that question tonight during Savasana (corpse pose), in which I encourage them to practice dying, or—in more acceptable terms in our death-phobic society—"releasing the physical self."

I sensed a silent "hrrrrr?" from many in the room (refer to photo).

I remember when I first got asked that question a few years ago. I did the same thing. My answer was something like, "Uh, because I was born?" Unfortunately, I was already 42 at the time. So according to my genes, I'm already almost halfway done (although I have a plan for that).

Talk about a sense of urgency! Besides, what's that great Jack Nicholson line in A Few Good Men? "You can't HANDLE the truth!" That was me. I so wasn't ready to hear what I was supposed to do, and I wouldn't have believed it then anyway.

So, in case you don't already know, I'd like to ask you the same question, because the clock's ticking on this lifetime:

Why are you here?

You came here to do something. What is it? Are you doing it? Are you awake?

Get really quiet and tune into your heart space. Then ask. Your heart is way smarter than your mind in these things, although they're meant to work together as twin, razor-sharp blades that cut away ignorance of all kinds.

Here's a hint: it's the thing that lights you up like frickin' Fourth of July. It's what makes you feel expansive, joyful, and powerful. It's what makes YOU bad-ass. (Yes, you.)

Still don't have it yet? Nothing in your life like that? Start paying closer attention. Every soul, including yours, has a mission. Depressed? Angry? You're soul's waiting on you to let it loose to work its magic.

Once you get the answer (and you'll know it's the truth because you'll feel happy and probably scared because you've dared, you rebel, to name your heart's desire), start taking a step everyday to make it your reality.

Here's a practical example. Say you're currently a fry chef at McStarPanera, Inc. But you realize the reason you're here on this glorious planet at this extremely auspicious time is because you have an incredible connection with our animal brethren. You can communicate with them and they with you. You cry and laugh when they tell you their stories. They listen when you tell yours. You know what animals need and can help their human guardians understand how to take good care of them. You're an inter-species translator!

So you continue to work at McStarPanera for right now—unless you're like me and you just quit everything you were doing and live down by the river until all the exploded pieces of your life fall back to earth in a new shape you like better. (Note: This approach is not recommended for its entertainment value.)

But the difference is, you're heart's now on fire with a mission! You start smiling at people, asking questions about their pets. Maybe you start up a few new friendships with fellow animal lovers and start a weekly meeting to discuss ways to make your special services available, because you know—deep down—that you're absolutely needed. One day a holistic vet comes in and you strike up a conversation....

See?

Once you ask the question and allow yourself to hear it, your heart, assisted by your mind, will lead the way into a future that you could never have imagined was possible.

It all starts with a question: Why are you here?

"Be yourself. Everyone else is taken." --Oscar Wilde

Much love to you.

Psst! "Old" doesn't have to mean "sick, frail, and demented."

I just got back from a 15-minute sprint session out here at the Farm, and I got to thinking as I watched the ground race by underneath me—I still get the same joy out of running fast as I did when I was a nine-year-old girl. I still love the feeling of my strong legs pushing me off the earth and kicking rocks back behind me. I feel invincible, powerful, and free. When does that joy in and trust of our bodies go away for so many of us?

What beliefs are we fed and raised on that give us an early expiration date? Why do we allow them to come true?

I taught yoga at Bloom this morning for my early Friday class, and found myself inspired to bring up the concept of aging and what, in our society, that's "supposed" to look like. Most Westerners have been deeply trained and indoctrinated in the beliefs that as our bodies and minds age, disease, frailty, and mental decline are inevitable. The following things are supposed to happen as we age, according to the existing power structure:

1. You will experience more and more pain, so you'll have to stop doing the things you used to enjoy. Besides, those things are just for kids, anyway. Who are you to be having fun?

2. You'll get diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer's, high cholesterol and blood pressure, arthritis, heart disease, and other chronic diseases.

3. Your mind will cave in on itself, leaving you unable to care for yourself in any way. Your family will have to pay many thousands of dollars every year to warehouse your body, even though you no longer recognize them.

Do you agree to believe in and live by these edicts? I hereby resolutely refuse to give them my attention, except to point the way toward the truth: that sickness, decrepitude, and dementia are NOT a normal part of aging.

Along with a growing number of others who are awakening now, I understand something that so many Westerners, and Americans in particular, it seems, have forgotten. Are you ready for this? It's radical, it's revolutionary, it's absolutely forbidden knowledge. Here it comes...

YOU HAVE TO KEEP MOVING.

Your body is one of the most staggeringly beautiful and complex organisms in all of Nature. It is a divine gift that allows you, your Essential Self, to experience creation up-close and personal. It's like an astronaut suit for we who travel through space and time, seeking to perfect ourselves and gain greater understanding. However, like a fine automobile that languishes under dust covers and sits out in the rain, it will eventually lose its vibrancy, its power, and its ability to tune you in to Source Energy if it isn't cared for. And used the way it was meant to be used.

There are powers right now that actively seek to prevent you from understanding this truth. There are powers right now that want you to forget that you are a Being of Light who came here with a purpose and a mission. They want you to take drugs to mediate the symptoms of the diseases that result from eating they diet they recommend and subsidize at great cost to you, the taxpayer. If you follow their lead, you are paying for your own demise.

Remember this: you're meant to leave this world in a body that's still flexible, strong, and joyous. It might get quieter and slower, and that's as it should be. We're naturally encouraged to slow down and go within as we age, and for good reason. It's part of a beautiful process that moves us gracefully toward the physical shutting down and re-emergence into Spirit that we call "death."

Here's what you can do as you age instead of getting sick:

1. Make your own meals using whole, organic, mostly raw and/or grass-fed and free-range ingredients. Grow some or all yourself. Eat huge amounts of leafy greens and berries. (If you get gas frequently, trying cutting out pears and apples--bet you have fructose malabsorption like I do. Whew! Big relief.) Antioxidants reduce or stop inflammation, which is caused in large part by processed food (i.e., anything that comes in a box, can, or bag) and damaged fats. I believe reducing or eliminating grains and sugar is a really good idea. (It works for me and Jim, anyway.) Eat lots of raw fat, like organic coconut oil.

2. Exercise really strenuously several times a week, and gently or not at all on other days. (Excessive exercise leads to stress and injury.) If you have an injury or illness that prevents you from reaching a level 8-10 on the 1-10 scale of effort, find a way at least to move your body. If you're bed-ridden or sick, start drinking organic green juices immediately and daily. Refuse the hospital food. Tense and relax your muscles one at a time. You'll get stronger. Our bodies are incredibly forgiving and adaptable!

If you're relatively fit or even new to fitness and you can walk, go as fast as you can on the flats for 30 seconds 2-5 times. Then find a hill and try it in a couple of weeks. Keep encouraging your body to get stronger! It wants to! Jog or run or sprint if you're able. Rest for 30 seconds in between and go again. Do what your body can do right now to reach a level of 8-10 on that effort scale. Hint: You will not be able to put a sentence together.

Start slowly. Experiment. You'll be amazed how fast you progress. This kind of workout, unlike the usual tedious, oft-prescribed hour-long slog on the treadmill, lights you up body and soul, burns fat like a banshee, releases human growth hormone (our chemical Fountain of Youth), and unplugs all your blood vessels and arteries. If you were a disused race car, in other words, you'd be "blowing the carbon out."

If you're very fit and reaching toward elite athlete status, try for 5-10 sets of high-intensity combinations of plyometric, explosive movements. Here's a great resource, and here's a video of my favorite recent workout. (More coming soon, with modifications for those who've told me, "Yeah, right!")

3. Practice yoga. It addresses at least three issues in one:

a) It breaks up the adhesions that cause so many of us to become prisoners in our own bodies, especially as years of neglect begin to pile up. (Adhesions are strong, microscopic ropes of collagen caused by surgery, infection, inflammation, trauma, and radiation treatment. They bind together organs, nerves, muscles, and other neighboring structures in a strong, glue-like straight-jacket, with a strength of about 2,000 lbs. per square inch.)

b) It reduces chronic and excessive stress, which causes disease and mental illness.

c) It joins us with Source Energy, however that looks to you. Some call it God, Mighty Spirit, Nature, the Universe. Its Names are endless.

4. Know why you're here. What did you come here to do? If you don't know, find out. Quit with the aptitude testing and online quizzes. Your heart knows... Sit down quietly, ask sincerely, and it will tell you loud and clear, if you're open to the answer. Step 2: Operate from that knowledge.

5. Learn new stuff all the time. Find out what music 15 year olds are listening to and download some for yourself. Try "Making Candles with Organic Beeswax" at the community college. Find out about meditation. Like that. (Here's the kind Jim and I practice.)

6. Engage with other people. When was the last time you looked a stranger in the eye and said hello with a smile? Tell somebody with an inspired, funky outfit, "Hey, you look great! Wish I had the guts to pull that off." And then get some.

7. Lose your fear of death. Talk about death. Read about death. Sit with someone who's dying. That's a great gift. Practice releasing your physical manifestation in yoga poses like sivasana ("Corpse Pose") or in sacred ceremonies among people who love you. To the extent that you can lose your fear of death, your joyful liveliness will increase exponentially. After all, your body's going to die; something's gonna getcha—will you really spend your whole life dreading that day and much of your precious life force trying to prevent it? Commit to releasing the tremendous psychic energy you spend on fearing this inevitable thing that could occur at any moment.

8. Release emotional trauma. It causes illness. Your body will store things for you until you can deal with them, but not indefinitely. Find a way to heal anger, hurt, betrayal, shock. You don't have to re-experience it. In fact, modern behavioral science, for those you who follow such things, is finding that there's no benefit to opening that old closet full of skeletons. Just gently touch the old feeling and say, "I release you. Thank you for serving me and keeping me safe. You may leave me now." For more extreme or traumatic experiences, find someone to work with who resonates with your spirit and gives you goosebumps. My good friend Nell teaches the Emotional Freedom Technique, which can work wonders (and has for me).

9. Put on your own oxygen mask first. The most selfless thing you can do right now for your family, friends, and the planet in general is to take good care of yourself. Then serve others from a place of abundance and ease.

Let us know how it goes, and please share your thoughts. Much love to you!

PS: If this information appeals to you, you might be interested in Training for Humanity's Quantum Leap: Skills for a Leading Edge Life™ coming up in 2012. We'll be going over these ideas and much more to keep us strong, healthy, and moving forward with our evolution—individually and as members of the human community.

Curious George on acid AND speed

That's who lives in my head these days. How's the weather in your head? I teach yoga to kids, and we often talk about the feeling of having Curious George in our heads. They get it right away. In some Eastern teachings, it's called the Monkey Mind--that sensation of an incessantly jabbering creature expounding endlessly and self-importantly on all sorts of utterly irrelevant crap just because it likes the sound of its own voice. And God forbid we have any quiet, because who knows what might happen? All hell would break loose, no doubt, if that frickin' monkey would just shut up for half a second and stop narrating our lives for us...

I was watching this movie (The Quickening) last night and my mind (for like the fourth time this week by other stuff) was completely blown by the film's message, which in a nutshell, goes something like this: "Humanity has until about October 28, 2011 to understand that We Are All One and that we are divine creatures on an important mission we've forgotten, or the shit's gonna hit the fan."

I know! I can't believe I'm buying it either! I mean, I'm from New Jersey, for God's sake! But nevertheless, don't you totally KNOW--even if absolutely nothing happens on or around October 28--that we as a species have to stop the consumer-driven, material madness that has brought us to the point of self-extinction? (Note: Here's another cool flick about how our consumer society was started on purpose and quickly took us over body and soul. Have your "Mom-I-need-the-new-Wii-Exploding-Brains-Bonanza-that-Mikee-just-got" kid watch, too!)

One of the most interesting things for me about the Quickening is that it so perfectly explains why I and so many others have been experiencing the seeming speeding up not only of our thought processes, but also the pace of daily life, of how fast information is coming at us, the number of tasks we're being asked to handle simultaneously, and the rate at which we're discovering and committing to things that excite us and inspire us, all while leaving old friends, partners, and jobs and finding new ones that resonate with our suddenly and sometimes inexplicably widened viewpoint. It's mind-boggling, isn't it?

I keep hearing people (particularly women) announce, "Oh, my GOD, I don't know when I turned into such a raging bitch/asshole. I don't know what's wrong with me!" Well, guess what, it's going around. Curious George is about to take a flying leap off the cliff of humanity's evolving consciousness, and he doesn't like it one bit. So he's jabbering faster and faster and faster to try to forestall the inevitable, and making you crazy in the process.

Here's what you can do: Meditate.

Seriously. Find a method and use it. Doesn't matter what it is, just do it for at least five minutes morning and night. (I have my favorite place to learn: insert shameless plug here.)

I can hear you now: WHAT!? You've GOT to be kidding! You want me to sit and actually watch and listen to the steaming cauldron of shit that is my waking mind?

I know, I get it. There's no one with a bigger, smellier cauldron than mine, believe me. But here's what's interesting. If you sit with your Curious George for a few minutes, sometimes he starts to get quieter. Mine even took a short nap last week before resuming his litany of things on our to-do list that have to get done or the universe will stop spinning. It was wonderful. It's what little ol' you can do to help the race evolve and save the planet.

Even if you don't subscribe to some of the ideas or projections in the Quickening, watch it, take what you need or want, and know that living with Curious George on acid AND speed is all part of a plan to make you remember Who You Are. Like, now.

Watch, listen, love, serve. Be joyful at the transformation! Leave fear and Curious George behind as you step into your power as a Human Being. You have everything you need right now.

Much love to you, and thanks for reading!