Missing a Streak

I’m not sure when the word Streak became a term to describe how many consecutive days you’ve been on a particular app (in high school, “streaking” meant something completely different), but I’ve become pretty obsessed with my Streak on the Bible App.  Even though I don’t always use the Bible app for my quiet times, I log into it daily to look up certain scriptures or to follow along during sermons.  It’s a very useful app, and I enjoy logging in daily to keep my Streak growing; but sometimes I forget to log in for a couple of days if I’m reading a spiritual book (these days, I’m reading more than one at a time).  This happened to me recently, and I got so annoyed that I missed a day, which resulted in losing my streak of triple digits!  “Hmm, that was an interesting reaction,” I thought to myself.

I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts about Enneagrams lately.  Enneagram is a personality typing system, which is based on patterns of the way people perceive their environment and manage their emotions.  One of the common topic in these podcasts are the Why’s behind our actions, thoughts and feelings.  So with this recent reaction to losing my Bible app streak, I asked myself why it annoyed me and why it was so important to me that I keep up my streak.  It didn’t take long for God to reveal my heart behind my annoyance:  I was fixated on the quantity instead of the quality.  I felt a sense of accomplishment whenever I saw my Streak number go up even if I didn’t remember the scriptures that I read on the app.  Ouch!  This was very convicting to me!

Having a triple-digit (or more) Streak is not a reflection of an authentic discipleship.  My husband never uses a Bible app because he likes to have a physical Bible in his hands, which means even if he had the Bible app on his phone, his Streak number would always be at “1 Day”; but he is honestly one of the most genuine and authentic disciple of Christ that I know.  It is very common to see him reading his Bible and a spiritual book.  He goes on a couple of prayer walks every day.  He’s not someone with tons of “free time” either: He works full-time for a very big corporation, is finishing up his MBA degree, AND we lead a small group in our church.  He doesn’t do these things to increase his Streak or to validate his worth; He does it because he loves God and has a genuine relationship with our Father in Heaven.  His motivation is not public recognition but rather a recognition of his need for God.

It is important to do heart-checks on a regular basis because our flesh-nature easily loses sight of our authenticity in Christ.  According to James 1:23-25, “Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”  This ability to discern and examine ourselves will allow us to grow in our spiritual depth and authenticity in Christ… and in return, our souls will be refreshed.

“My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them, for they will refresh your soul.”
Proverbs 3:21-22a

Let us all strive to live lives of biblical and spiritual authenticity and not allow an app (or anything/anyone) to determine the progress of our journey with Christ. 🙏

With Gratitude,
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It Can’t Be Summer All Year-Long (A Season for Everything)

I take a picture of Laguna Beach from this angle every time I visit!

I love the summers in Southern California.  Even though I love Texas and have been a Texan for over 11 years combined (2005-2015, and 2010-present), I will always choose summers in California.  There’s something magical about driving along Pacific Coast Highway, passing a beautiful beach after another beautiful beach… My favorite beach by far is Laguna Beach.  Whenever I’m there, I stare out into the ocean wishing that the moment, the day and the summer would last forever… 

BUT IT ALWAYS COME TO AN END.

In Ecclesiastes 3, the author (most commonly believed to be King Solomon) states that there’s a season for everything under the sun:

“For everything there is a season,
and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.”


Now getting into my personal life… 

In 2016, God put on my heart to write a book and to start a podcast to encourage and inspire Christians in an “outside-the-box” type of way.  After doubting myself — so ultimately, doubting God — for three years, I finally obeyed his command to write a book on Biblical Meditation.  I rode the high of being a published author by doing a book tour from October 2019 to March of last year… until COVID-19 shut everything down.  Since then, I’ve been trying to write a new book, but God kept on telling me that my next “thing” was to be a podcast.  I told God that I didn’t think I was the one to do that.  The thought of launching a podcast terrified me; but because it terrified me, I knew I needed to do it for God’s glory.  So I started getting really excited about taking that leap of faith and entering the world of podcasting.  I got myself on a schedule and a plan to launch on March 2 of this year… AND THEN EVERYTHING CAME TO A SCREECHING HALT.

Let’s rewind a bit:  I have homeschooled my daughter since she was in 2nd grade (she’s now a high school junior), and this year, we joined a homeschool co-op where one of the parents from each homeschool family is required to either teach, assist, set up or clean up.  This semester, I’m teaching a Print Journalism class to 7th-12th graders, and I’m creating the weekly homeschool newsletter.  Last week was our first week back from break, and it was one of the busiest weeks I’ve had in a while!  To make the long story short, I realized that until this semester of homeschool co-op is over, my life is going to be mostly about homeschooling and a little bit about teaching my virtual classes… which means NO PODCAST LAUNCH ON MARCH 2.  Initially, I fought the inevitable.  I tried to re-evaluated my schedule to see what I can move around to make room for the podcast prep work.  I looked everywhere to see if God snuck in a couple of extra hours (in addition to the 24 hours that He’s given me), but I couldn’t find the 25th and 26th hours. 😭  So after many failed attempts at resistance and trying to make it happen, I surrendered to God’s new podcast launch date for me: May 4th.  Once I “let go and let God,” I felt a sense of peace come over me, and I was able to enjoy the rest of the week without feeling overwhelmed.

The season I’m currently in is a homeschool educator who teaches virtual classes.  And just like any season, it won’t last forever… so I better enjoy the beauty of this season, and then I will enjoy the beauty of the next season in my life.

 

With Gratitude,
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Lessons Learned from First Week of 2021

Alright folks, we’re now in Week Two of 2021.  How are you doing?  Some of you may have crushed the first week of sticking with your resolutions, but there may be some others that have already “fallen off the wagon” with some of their goals.

For me, I had a decent week.  As you may remember from my blog last week, I set physical, emotional, mental, spiritual and professional goals for the new year.  I bought foods that are recommended for my metabolic and blood type, and I’ve taken on the challenge of creating meals only using the foods on my list. (I pretend that I’m a contestant in an episode of Chopped, except I don’t give myself a time limit.  That would stress me out too much!)  After just one week of eating according to my metabolic and blood type, I feel less bloated and never hungry!  In regards to emotional goal of being more vulnerable, I spent time with a friend — in her backyard, 6 ft. apart and with masks on — and we shared our hearts and lives with each other.  There were some tears shed on both sides, and I felt so much closer to her as I left her house.  I feel blessed that God gave us that time to bond as sisters in Christ and as bestfriends in the making.  Now for the areas I didn’t do too well… 

I sort of slacked off on my reading of all THREE BOOKS!  I knew as I committed to reading these books that I needed to really stay on top of my reading; however, I did get behind… but only by a few pages in each book.  I’ve decided to reset my mental goal by holding off on finishing “Individualist (60 Day Enneagram Devotional): Growing As An Enneagram 4” until I’m done reading one of the two other books that I’m reading.

THE BEAUTY OF SETTING GOALS IS THAT YOU CAN ALWAYS STOP, REASSESS, AND RESET.

I didn’t do so well in my professional goal either.  I allowed my daily tasks and getting ready for second semester of homeschooling to distract me from working on the next steps to launching my podcast.  I justified it by telling myself that I was actually 10 days ahead of my scheduled tasks… but you know where that type of thinking got the rabbit in the story, The Tortoise and The Hare.  No bueno. I’m still technically a couple of days ahead, so I need to make sure I stay on task from here on out.

Spiritually though, I feel that I’ve been working on “getting over myself” daily.  I’ve started a 15-minute Yoga Flow series where I’m recording myself teaching a short yoga flow everyday and posting it for my paying clients to access daily.  Before the pandemic, I refused to create yoga videos because I hated the way I looked in videos.  But since I’ve been teaching virtually for over 10 months, I’m having to get over myself being insecure, body-conscious, and just overall appearance-conscious.  I’m enjoying creating these daily videos for people because this isn’t about me; this is about helping people take small (15-minute) steps toward moving more, increasing range of motion/movement, and introducing Yoga to those who may be new to it.

I feel pretty good about how I spent the first week of 2021.  There’s room for improvement, but I’m glad I don’t have to be guilt-ridden for not doing everything perfectly.  I’m only human, and I can be grateful for this fact.  I want to encourage you with this:

1.  WE’RE NOT BOUND BY DEATH TO ANY OF OUR PERSONAL RESOLUTIONS!
2.  LIFE SHOULD BE LIVED WITH SOME FLEXIBILITY.
3.  IF YOU HAD A NOT-SO-GREAT FIRST WEEK OF THE YEAR, IT’S OKAY; YOU GET TO START OVER EVERY MORNING.

 

I hope you have a wonderful week, filled with victories and flexibility!

With Gratitude,
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Hello 2021!

Happy New Year!  More than other New Year’s Day, 2021 seems to have brought more emphasis and excitement to many people.  Although no one is blind to the fact that COVID-19 remains to be the culprit of this global pandemic that we’re still in, it seems that most people are hopeful and optimistic about what this year will bring.  With this renewed hope, setting New Year’s Resolutions seems appropriate.  Through the years, my resolutions always included physical, emotional, mental, professional and spiritual goals… and this year is no different.


PHYSICAL GOAL:  TO GET TO MY OPTIMAL WEIGHT AND SIZE!

On January 1, I reached out to a health & wellness coach (and a very good friend of mine) named Vickie Griffith.  she is the creator of The Vickie G Method which is a individualized customized program of eating, exercising and wellness plan according to one’s metabolic type.  I have seen the results of her program in her clients for many years, so my husband and I signed up for her program.  My husband has the challenge of high metabolism (he has to work out to not lose weight) and I have the opposite challenge (especially since hitting my 40’s).  I will be writing about my journey in my future blogs, so stay tuned!  If you’re interested in finding out more about her program, you can contact her through her website (click here).  Tell her I sent you!  😉


EMOTIONAL GOAL:  TO BE MORE VULNERABLE!

Urrgh.  Sometimes I feel like I don’t know how to be vulnerable.  I’m really great at being open with what I’m thinking and feeling, but when it comes to that, “Here’s my heart; would you like to hold it?” kind of vulnerability, there’s a part of me that wants to reach for my place of stoicism.  When I was in my 30’s, I went to a therapist after my dad died of cancer.  During one of the sessions, I was telling her about a painful childhood memory.  After I finished talking, she asked me why I was smiling while I was telling her something that was so painful to me.  She said my words did not match my emotional expression.  So for the next two months, we talked a lot about my emotional disconnect.  The things we go through shape us, but they do not have to define us.  Since that time, I’ve been working on being more emotionally connected to my memories and expressing more empathy toward others.  It’s something I have to force myself to do.  In fact, it was beyond scary for me to write with such vulnerability in my book, “BE STILL: The Power of Biblical Meditation.”  This area of my life is a work in progress, so this continues to be one of my New Year’s Resolutions every year.


MENTAL GOAL:  READ ONE BOOK EVERY MONTH!

I have always loved reading.  I learned how to read at age 4, and the first novel I read was Gulliver’s Travels in Korean at age 6.  After I moved to the U.S. when I was 9, I learned English words by reading the dictionary and proper grammar through 80’s love songs (that’s when song lyrics were grammatically correct😄); but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed a tendency to reach for magazines or articles online due to time constraints.  Once podcasts became popular, I found myself listening to podcasts more and reading books much less.  My goal this year is to read one book each month.  I have two bookshelves in my home studio filled with books: Books on Bible devotionals, Christian living, health, nutrition, wellness, neuroscience, Yoga, meditation, etc.  I’ve only read about half of my collection, so I have more than plenty to read this year.  Currently, I’m reading “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson with a friend, “God’s Perfect Plan for Imperfect People” by Tom Jones with the DFW Church, and “Individualist (60 Day Enneagram Devotional): Growing As An Enneagram 4” by myself.  After I finish these books, I am planning on reading just one book per month.


PROFESSIONAL AND SPIRITUAL GOAL:  GET OVER MYSELF!

I’m a dreamer.  I like to dream big… but those big dreams also terrify me!  Before I wrote my book, I second-guessed myself and really struggled to get started.  It took me a couple of years after God put on my heart to write my book, to actually write it.  Well, this next dream is no different:  God put it on my heart to start a podcast about living in step with the Spirit around the same time He told me to write a book.  But because of my insecurities (same insecurities I mention in my book), I kept finding reasons why I shouldn’t start a podcast.  But God made it very clear to me late last year that I needed to GET OVER MYSELF because this isn’t about me, it’s about inspiring other Christians to move past spiritual stuckness and funk that we all go through from time to time… and glorify God in the process.  So I’m doing it!  I’ll be launching my podcast on March 2, 2021!  I’m nervous and excited, so please pray for me!  I’m sure I will be dedicating more than a few blogs to my journey in launching a podcast… so stay tuned!


“Pray as if it depends on God, and work as if it depends on you.”
Mark Batterson, “The Circle Maker”

 

With Gratitude,
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Goodbye 2020!

We did it!  We made it through this very interesting year of social distancing, sanitizing and face-mask wearing!  We started out the year “sort of” hearing about COVID-19 being an issue in other countries, but then by March, it was declared a global pandemic.  The last class that I taught in studio was on my birthday, March 18th.  When I got home after teaching that evening, I was notified by all the studios that I taught at that all fitness and yoga studios (and other “non-essential businesses”) will be shut down until further notice.  Just like it was for you, the rest of March and April were surreal.  We were no longer able to worship as a congregation inside the church building, everybody and their mothers created a Zoom account, everything went virtual.  Our lives, it seemed, were turned upside down.  I think a lot of us were waiting and hoping that things would “go back to normal” within a few months, but when that didn’t happen, we either went into panic-mode, got depressed or just accepted it for what it was and tried to make the best of it.

We all have now been living with this pandemic for 10 months.  I’ve seen many social media posts about how 2020 was horrible and that they’re eagerly waiting for 2021, but I think it’s important for us to check our hearts to make sure we don’t dismiss this year as a terrible year.  Personally, this year has been filled with many blessings and accomplishments even in the midst of hardships.

March – April:  I lost about 90% of my income (cancelled classes, workshops and book tour events)… but I started teaching classes virtually within days after the shut-down.  This is something I dreaded doing for a very long time (even though there have been requests for it by my students for several years) because I don’t like to see myself in videos.  It turns out that I’m pretty good at teaching virtually.  😃  Also, our dream of moving back to Texas happened sooner than expected because my husband received a job offer which allowed him to be based out of Texas OR North Carolina, and our house in Charlotte sold within days of putting it on the market!

May:  Moving halfway across the United States (again) was no easy task.  In an effort to live simpler, I said good-bye to many of my possessions… but we were able to buy a house in a great neighborhood right away!

June – August:  I was missing my best friends in Charlotte, and the pandemic didn’t make it easy for me to meet my neighbors  or make new friends… but I was able to reconnect with my besties here in Texas, and I was able to use my newly open schedule to enroll AND virtually complete a 300-hour Yoga Teacher Training which upgraded my title to a 500-Hour Registered Yoga Teacher with Yoga Alliance!  I also started teaching virtual classes through the studio that I used to teach at in North Carolina as well as the one I used to teach at in Texas years ago!

September – December:  My daughter didn’t get to have that big Sweet Sixteen party that she had been wanting for YEARS… but we got to go on an amazingly memorable family trip while still observing social distancing guidelines.  (According to her, this was her most favorite family trip!)

A handful of our friends got COVID this year, but thankfully, every single one of them made full recoveries!  I’ve heard of several friends’ family members that are still struggling with the virus or have sadly passed away.  This has put a sense of urgency in our hearts to hug our loved ones a little tighter, to speak kindly to strangers, and give everyone the benefit of the doubt because we don’t know what they might be going through.

“My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
    but God remains the strength of my heart;
    he is mine forever.”
Psalm 73:26

That brings me to today.  We now have just a few days left in this year.  As we reflect on God’s blessings in the midst of this pandemic, I pray that you’re able to say good-bye to 2020 with a sense of peace and surrender as we get ready to say hello to 2021!

“For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.
Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!
So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now;
rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.
For the things we see now will soon be gone,
but the things we cannot see will last forever.”
2 Corinthians 4:17-18

 

With Gratitude,
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‘Tis the Season (For All the Feels)

“Tis the season to be jolly, fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la…”

The Christmas Season invokes many emotions in people.  Depending on your past experiences during this time of the year, it can invoke a feelings of excitement and happiness, or feelings completely opposite such as sadness and loneliness.  I’ve always had a hard time getting into the commercialized aspect of Christmas.

I remember as a teenager (before on-line shopping existed), my friends and I would drive around the mall parking lots for 15-30 minutes before we were able to find one open spot.  It was a time of retail madness; I did not enjoy long lines and aggressive shoppers, and I definitely did not enjoy trying to come up with the money to buy Christmas presents for my friends and family.  What I did enjoy, however, were all the holiday parties that I would get invited to.  December was such an emotionally draining month: I remember feeling excited, happy, annoyed, stressed, lonely, and a myriad of emotions during the holidays every year.

Once I became a Christian in college, Christmas took on a deeper meaning: Celebrating the Birth of Jesus, our Lord and Savior.  I still go through “all the feels” during this time of the year, but I now have God’s Word to encourage me through discouragement, comfort me through grief for loss of loved ones, bring me peace through stressful moments, and increase my joy by opening my eyes to all the blessings.  So here are some of the “Feels” that you may be feeling this season along with what God wants you to know:

Excitement:
Luke 2:13 (“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.“)

Anxiousness:
1 Peter 5:7 (“Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”)

Sadness:
Psalm 34:18 (“The Lord is close to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”)

Stressed:
2 Thessalonians 3:16 (“Now may the Lord of peace Himself give you peace at all times and in every way.  The Lord be with all of you.”)

Loneliness:
Isaiah 41:10 (“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will  strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”)

Frustration:
Psalm 55:22 (“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”)

Laziness:
Colossians 3:23-24 (Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”)

Disappointment:
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (“Therefore we do not lose heart.… So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”)

Discouragement:
Jeremiah 29:11-13 (For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.)

There are so many other emotions that you may be feeling and going through.  Here’s a great resource of “Bible Verses on God’s Promises” that I found online (Click here).
Disclaimer:  This is a free resource, and I am not being compensated by Bible Study Tools in any way.

I pray that you have a wonderful Christmas, filled with faith, hope and love from God!

With Gratitude,
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Christian Yogi’s Perspective on Yoga Philosophy: Samadhi

Today marks the final blog on “Christian Yogi’s Perspective on Yoga Philosophy: Eight Limbs of Yoga.”  Since August, I have written about all the limbs of Yoga according to Yoga Sutras of Patanjali:

  1. Yama – “Moral Code/Guidelines” toward external environment
    • Ahimsa – Non-violence
    • Satya – Truthfulness
    • Asteya – Non-stealing
    • Brahmacharya – Non-excess/Moderation
    • Aparigraha – Non-Possessiveness
  2. Niyama – “Personal Code/Guidelines” toward oneself
    • Saucha – Purity
    • Santosha – Contentment
    • Tapas – Self-Discipline
    • Svadhyaya – Self-Study/Introspection
    • Ishvara Pradnihana – Surrender to God
  3. Asana – Physical postures
  4. Pranayama – Breath Control
  5. Pratyahara – Sense Withdrawal
  6. Dharana – Concentration
  7. Dhyana – Meditation

The eighth limb of Yoga is Samadhi, which means union with God or complete integration.  Samadhi is also interpreted as spiritual absorption.  As a Christian, experiencing samadhi is becoming one with God; Not that I am God, but samadhi allows me to be completely unified with God and experience being completely in sync and being on the same page with God and His will for me.  One of my most favorite scriptures has been Psalm 37:4 which reads, Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.  When I was a young Christian, I thought this meant if I have my quiet times, share my faith with people, and help others become disciples of Christ, then He will give me what my heart desires.  After about 15 years in the faith, I started to have a different understanding of this scripture:  If I delight in the Lord, my desires will transform into the desires He has for me.  Now almost 27 years of walking with God, I believe that if I delight in the Lord (being completely consumed by Him and His love), He will give me the authentic desires of my heart.

Let me explain: I grew up as a performer.  I performed in musical theatres, choir concerts, plays and dance concerts since I was a kid.  I even performed in a community theatre production of GREASE as Frenchy in my 30’s.  As much as I loved singing, dancing and acting, the feeling that came with being recognized as a talented performer was — if I’m being honest — the true driving force behind it.  So my desire and passion may have seemed like it was performing; but I believe that my true, authentic desire was TO BE SEEN.

According to my Enneagram Type (I’m Type 4), my basic fear is that I have no identity or personal significance, and my greatest desire is to find my significance and identity.  As a Christian, my deepest desire to be seen and to matter were filled by God.  Knowing and fully experiencing that I am SEEN by God, the omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent Creator of all things, I can breathe a sigh of relief and peace as I surrender completely in His love, His power, His protection, His grace, His mercy… His goodness.  And all of this — samadhi — can be experienced while sitting still, practicing pratyahara, dharana and dhyana.

May you delight in the Lord and receive the authentic desires of your heart.

 

With Gratitude,
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Christian Yogi’s Perspective on Yoga Philosophy: Dhyana

In last week’s blog, I talked about Dharana, the practice of concentration which precedes the practice of meditation which is what today’s blog is about.  To enter the practice of meditation, the two previous stages (sense withdrawal and a single-pointed concentration) must be practiced.  The stage of meditation, called Dhyana, is simply being part of the experience that comes after concentration.  One of my teachers once said, “While you’re in dhyana, you become aware of the fact that you’re meditating, then you have come out of the meditation.”  The experience of dhyana is not a constant state; you come in and out of this stage during your practice of meditation.  Just like asanas (or anything else in life), constant practice improves one’s ability to stay in dhyana for longer periods of time. So as a Christian, how can dhyana be practiced; and is there even a difference between biblical meditation and an non-biblical meditation?  Here’s an excerpt from my book, “BE STILL: The Power of Biblical Meditation”:

My book can be purchase on: https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/jheni-solis/be-still-the-power-of-biblical-meditation/paperback/product-1dgmrmzm.html

“Shortly after moving to Charlotte, NC in 2015, I invited a college-aged girl to church as I was leaving Panera Bread. She said she was a student at a Bible College and was very involved in the church that was affiliated with the school, and after a brief but pleasant chat about God and the Bible, I gave her my business card to keep in touch.
Later that evening, I received a message from her where she was expressing her deep concern for my salvation because she read on my website that I’m a meditation coach. She advised me to pray to God and not engage in meditation that she believed was not righteous. She referred to a scripture about how you can invite evil spirits to enter you (Matthew 12:44-45). She told me that I was on dangerous ground and that I needed to repent.
I must admit, my initial reaction was to get prideful and defensive (which is really the same thing). Instead, I took a step back and thanked God for her in prayer for her heart of boldness to stand for what she believed was for God’s glory. I replied to her with a humbler heart than I otherwise would have before praying, and I thanked her for her concern. I also explained to her that meditation is absolutely biblical and that not all meditation is a “paganistic practice.”
Just like anything in life, we can take something God created and make it not of God (i.e. – corruption in politics, religious organizations, corporations, etc.). The meditation she was referring to was not the meditation that I practice. The biblical meditation that I practice is to practice stillness in heart, mind, soul and strength as stated in Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1:1-2; Psalm 104:34.”

“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
Joshua 1:8
“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.”
Psalm 1:1-2
“May my meditation be pleasing to him, as I rejoice in the Lord.”
Psalm 104:34

As a Christian, my intention for meditation should be to keep His Words close to my heart, for it to always be on my lips, and to rejoice in the Him so that I can please the Lord, the God of the Universe.  To set myself up for success, I read a scripture and pray.  I pray for God to allow the Spirit to intercede and make our time together glorifying to Him.  I then move on to pranayama, followed by pratyahara, and then dharanaWhile I’m experiencing dhyana (going into and coming out of dhyana throughout the practice), God reveals many things to me.  Experiencing this intimate communion with God is not an unattainable practice; it simply requires us to take the first step so that He can carry us through the remainder of the way.

If you would like to purchase and/or read about my book, “BE STILL: The Power of Biblical Meditation,” click here.

 

With Gratitude,
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Christian Yogi’s Perspective on Niyamas, Pt. 3: Tapas

When I was a freshman in college, I spent many nights cramming for tests.  I have (unsuccessfully) attempted to pull all-nighters before mid-term and final exams.  Even as an adult (many years out of college), I have procrastinated getting things done because I “just didn’t feel like” doing them right away.  Tapas — which is sanskrit for “self-discipline” — is something none of us excel at 100% of the time.  We live in a world where instant gratification is the norm, and we favor rest and relaxation over hard work.  It seems that it’s becoming more and more challenging to make self-discipline the normal expectation.

As Christians, God expects to go against the norm.  It’s impossible to be a biblical definition of a Christian (more commonly referred to as a disciple in the Bible) and not practice tapas.

Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.”
Proverbs 25:28
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Tapas applies to every part of our lives, but today, I’m going to talk about physical, mental/emotional, and spiritual aspects.

TAPAS AND THE BODY

I hate exercising.  I love how I feel after I exercise, but the part that I usually struggle with is actually getting myself started with exercising.  I’m sure this sounds very odd, coming from a fitness instructor and a yoga teacher.  I guess for me, I love being active but I don’t like to exercise for the sake of burning calories/losing weight/toning up/etc… which is why I teach fitness and yoga classes.  I used to be a member of a boutique fitness studio where everyone did 60 minutes of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training).  The workouts varied from day to day, but we always did cardio on the treadmill and the rowing machine combined with various weight training and TRX work.  One of the reasons why I joined was for the discipline aspect.  I knew that each time I went, I was getting out of my comfort zone and pushing my practice of discipline which was great for my character.  The more I practiced tapas in regards to exercise, the more I found myself relating to 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (second passage above) and enjoying a healthier and stronger body.

TAPAS AND THE MIND/HEART

There’s a reason why I put both mind and heart in one category:  When we’re not disciplining our emotions, our minds begin to believe the emotion to be the absolute truth.  Since 1994, I have helped lead youth and family ministries in California, Texas and North Carolina.  It was such a blessing and a privilege to have the opportunity to impact teenagers in a positive and spiritual way, but one of the constant challenges were helping them to gain a conviction that what they feel at the moment are not necessarily godly nor the reality.  I’ve seen many teenagers fall in love with the wrong person and get their hearts broken.  One thing I would hear often is, “I was convinced that he/she was the one.”  Some of them would learn from this and not just rely on their feelings; unfortunately, some would go on to make the same mistakes which ends up in one heartbreak after another, and each time, destroying their self-esteem and outlook of positive relationships.  Adults are not immune to making this same mistake.  If it’s not a romantic relationship, it could be friendships, work situations, encounters with strangers, etc.  My husband once broke up a loud, verbal altercation at our community gym which started because one guy was trying to use two workout equipment at the “same time” (going back and forth between the two).  Another guy quietly confronted him on it, so the guy (the “reserver”) apparently started yelling at him (the “confronter”) and getting really close to his face like he was going to beat the guy up.  My husband approached them calmly and gently talked some logic into the situation (“We’re all just trying to work out.  We all live in this community.  We’re all neighbors.  Let’s all back up and cool off.”)  Apparently, that’s all it took for them to back up  and calm down.  Before my husband left, he witnessed apologies being exchanged between the two guys.  Our emotions have the power to change our minds about what’s real and what’s not.  The good news is that we have even a greater power to determine what our minds believe as the truth.  And when we discipline our minds, our heart will follow suit.

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”
Jeremiah 17:9
TAPAS AND THE SPIRIT

I’ve been a Christian for 26 years, and it is still a challenge to practice self-discipline when it comes to my spiritual life.  I’m not talking about having my daily times with God; I pray and read my Bible daily, but what I struggle with is disciplining myself to practice godly characters (fruits of the Spirit) daily.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
Galatians 5:22-22

I’m pretty good at practicing all of these when it’s easy for me (I’m sure that’s the case for everyone), but when I’m trying to be loving, joyful, peaceful, forgiving, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled toward people that seem to know how to push my buttons, this list becomes quite the challenge for me to live out.

And I suppose that’s why I need to rely on the Holy Spirit to practice Tapas everyday.

Come back next week as we talk about the 4th Niyama: Svadhyaya (self-study).

With Gratitude,
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Christian Yogi’s Perspective on Niyamas, Pt. 2: Santosha

Phrases such as “The grass is greener on the other side” and “FOMO” is a common phrase and acronym used often to describe the desire of being somewhere else other than the place we are currently at.  The sanskrit word, Santosha, means contentment.  Santosha is the second Niyama which is one of Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga

Many people mistake happiness to be synonymous to contentment.  Paul states in Philippians 4:12, I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  Paul learned the secret of being content in every situation that he was faced with: He was a Pharisee who had a significant conversion to Christian discipleship, experienced the highs and the lows of being a missionary, and he was imprisoned twice, with the latter one resulting in eventual execution.  I’m sure there were moments that Paul did not feel happy, but he somehow remained content.

After much contemplation of scriptures and prayers throughout the years, here’s my conclusion:


CONTENTMENT IS A COMPLETE SURRENDER AND UNCONDITIONAL TRUST IN GOD

One of the things I love doing is taking long road trips with my family.  Throughout the years, we have driven to many states spanning from California all the way to Massachusetts as well as many of the states along the way and then some).  My husband prefers to do the driving through the busy cities while I prefer to take over the driving through long stretch of (what seems to be) nothingness.  Whether my husband or I are doing the driving, my daughter sits in the back and reads, plays games, naps, sings and chats with us without worrying about anything.  Even when we had to drive through a massive summer rainstorm in Alabama or in dense fog in the nighttime through the mountains in Utah, she was content.  This contentment came from knowing that even though the last leg of the trips feel like they last forever, she fully trusted that mom and dad are responsible drivers and that as long as it is up to us, we will protect her and have her best interest in mind.  This is a great lesson that I try to remember when I’m not feeling content.


HAPPINESS IS A TEMPORARY FEELING BASED ON TEMPORARY THINGS

Growing up in the United States has great benefits such as freedom of choice, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, opportunities for wealth, many colleges/universities as well as numerous restaurants, shopping centers, recreational facilities and events such as sports and performing arts (although they are currently limited due to the pandemic).  It’s an entertainment paradise.  But in the midst of all the opportunities that we have access to, it’s quite easy to become unsatisfied with what we have.  When we get what we want, we feel happy; but then six months down the line, we see that there’s an upgraded version of what we have… so we become unhappy with what we bought.  Happiness generally seems to be tied to something temporary.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe one can be both content and happy.  I think happiness can be a byproduct of contentment, but it’s the state of contentment that will last even long after the feeling the happiness is gone.

I can honestly say that I’ve been both happy and content.  I can also truthfully admit that I’ve been sad but content… but because of my commitment to striving for contentment, the sadness doesn’t last for too long.  When I feel (emotional) pain, I make every effort to not push it away but rather allow myself to feel it and find contentment in the middle of that pain.


For me, my contentment comes from knowing that God knows exactly what He’s doing with me and that I just need to sit back and enjoy the ride with complete trust that God’s got my back.

 

With Gratitude,
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