They say honesty is the best policy… “They”, however, do not tell you how to put your truth into action. After eleven years of being in a business relationship that, in so many ways shaped and made my life, I had to walk away. I could no longer allow all the pleasures I received nor the fear that held me in it, to keep me involved with people and a vision that was in no way in line with who I am, what I want to represent and why I want to put it out there.

It was time to take the kind of action that many of us choose not to take because of fearing the unknown. Self doubt and attachment stand as impenetrable armor imprisoning us to the point, which ultimately is unhealthy. We come up with a million and one reasons to stay in something that is killing us. We shudder at the idea of parting with anyone or anything that brings us comfort, even if the pleasure comes at a great cost. Our minds are so convincing that we believe lies and do not believe the truth. It is only when we break the chains that bind us, that we can receive a clear vision of the illusion/delusion that holds us captive.

Are you strong enough to walk away from something that feeds your desires, terrifies you to leave, knowing it is not right for you? If so, stop reading this now. If not, here are three steps to making the move that will truly “move” you.

Listening intently to our Guru

The First Step is knowing your enemy. Science tells us that external stimuli (the world) is experienced differently by all of us. No two minds think or perceive exactly alike. Therefore, when you or I say “this person bothers me” or “this political view point is senseless”, we are being foolish. The same person who bothers you may be soothing to someone else. The political view that you believe to be senseless may be sensible to others.

Therefore, we can say; no one can defeat us and no one can complete us, but us! The enemy is your own mind. It can make a heaven into a hell, or a hell into heaven. Unless you have control over it, it will control you. Its nature is to spin! Once you know that it’s You that is the problem, you are half way to the solution! The only thing you can change is you. When you embrace this, you are ready for Step Two.

The Second Step is crushing the lies. Everyone of us who are in the position of needing to change, but being stuck, has one huge common denominator and that is; we have an incredible love affair with the lies we tell ourselves. Some of mine are: I’ll be alone; I can’t start over; I won’t make enough; I can’t live without that; there isn’t enough time, money, people, interest, help; I’m to old, too young; I don’t know how to do that. My favorite excuse is: everyone will find out that I’m really worthless! 

I am sure you have some special ones of your own.  Write them down and then we will crush them! These lies die as soon as we hold them up to the light. The light is sharing them with others. You will see for yourself immediately that, in many cases, the only one that believes this nonsense is you!  For example: I had a nasty habit of telling myself “I couldn’t finish anything”.  I told others about this.  A few friends pointed out dozens of different and very meaningful things I have completed and the lie was crushed.  All lies can be crushed by fact-finding.  The only way a lie can be held up is through secrets and emotion.

Now that you have revealed the enemy and crushed the lies, you are ready for Step Three:  Dynamic Action. “DA” is simple in design to understand, yet very difficult to execute. “DA” is acting without motives! It’s living your obligatory duties in life; just as the sun rises and falls every day; like the rose emits its fragrance.  The rose does not say ”you were not nice to me, so I am not sharing my fragrance with you”. Here is the 411; “DA” is 100% selfless.  When you mix selfishness into it, the action becomes deluded and we begin to become fatigued, agitated, excited, disappointment, etc.  More selfishness equates to increased energy drainage until ultimately we get stuck! “DA”, however, empowers us.  It lightens the load, relieves the stress, and frees us. The secret lies in your intentions. If you serve yourself, you will get caught up in relationships and jobs that will not serve you! If your aim is to rise above your own desires, there will be nothing more the world can offer you.  Nothing in the world that can terrorize you.  You will be out of this world; the world that you keep wanting to change!

You will not need luck to accomplish this task.  What is required is hard work, a good support team, lots of patience and more importantly, a desire to keep on learning! 

For more information, go to eric@ericpaskel.com.  Many of these thoughts and teachings are interpretations from my teacher, Swami Parthasarathy.  His many books and great teachings can be found at vedantaworld.org.

Peace,

EP

Eric Paskel & Rina Jakubowicz on Feb 13, 2015

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As we sit here on a bus in India on our way to hear a lecture about “When is Enough Enough?” from our teacher Swami A. Parthasarathy, we reflect how we have gotten to this place together.

 

Two strangers who happen to be in the same elevator at a Yoga Journal Conference in Hollywood, Florida over a year ago have now joined together in their own spiritual journeys to walk alongside one another.

Part of this “spiritual” walk includes our first trip to India together, which we booked during the dates of February 1 to 15. Neither one of us thought that the trip would fall during Valentine’s Day. We placed our emphasis on a common, higher ideal for ourselves; we knew we needed to see our guru and the time was now.

When we were asked by elephant journal to write our first joint article about what we were doing for Valentine’s Day we chuckled because Valentine’s Day isn’t important to us but we knew we had to do it; not for PR but for RP (Right Purpose). We hope that after reading this, you may have a difference outlook as to what this holiday means to you.

Valentine’s Day can be important, not necessarily to exchange dinners, jewelry, flowers or the like, but to remind ourselves what love is and what it means to give it.

The philosophy of Vedanta explains that true love is neither preferential nor personal; it’s selfless and universal. According to the teachings, when we love correctly, we assess and accept ourselves along with others. This allows us to begin to see ourselves in all creatures, which is called identification. Therefore, our Valentine’s Day gift to each other is making ourselves better people every day, while learning how to love with these definitions in mind and all the while respecting each other’s struggles and natural ways.

These Vedanta teachings are what have helped us create our short yet powerful relationship together. Without them, we wouldn’t have made it thus far.

On this Valentine’s Day, we are at an ashram, sleeping in separate beds in a small room, waking up at 5:00 a.m. to study, wearing the same uniforms, eating the same foods and unable to display public forms of affection due to respecting the Indian customs.

To us, that makes every day romantic, sexy, and a beautiful expression of love because we are engaged not to each other but to discovering something more profound…our true Self.

Peace,

EP

 

Authors: Eric Paskel & Rina Jakubowicz

Editor: Cat Beekmans

Photos: Dennis Jarvis/Flickr  

Rachel Thompson/rachelthompsonphotography.com

 

 

A relationship like no other!

As I sit here and begin to write down on paper what I am “passionate about that is accessible”, I smile knowing, that for most, what proceeds this sentence will only be accessible in theory and not in practice.  Many teachers will only relate to the emptiness that comes from not having this in their lives, even when we serve in this role every day.

 A teacher is defined as “a person who teaches or instructs, especially as a profession”. That is the absolute worst, heartless definition the dictionary has ever produced!

 For me a teacher means: life, direction, discipline, accountability, intimacy, transparency, and surrender. It means I have someone who loves me unconditionally (even my dogs don’t; they love me because I take care of them), who has no agenda, no motives in being with me, other than to help.

 A teacher preaches what he practices and never practices what he preaches. That is to say a teacher lives the way he speaks or at least my teacher does… A great orator has talent.  He can deliver a message that is moving, magical, and these people are easy to find in the world. A great teacher, however, does not have to say a thing and his greatness is felt.  He embodies all wisdom in his actions and these people are nearly impossible to find.

There is simply no relationship I have experienced to date (I am 46 years old) that is in any way comparable to the one I share with A. Parthasarathy aka My Beloved/Swamiji. There are no blessings, crystals given, mantras, mind-reading, fortune telling, none of that… There is no meditation, and there is absolutely nothing in this world I can give him, which in of itself is the most foreign, humbling teaching.  There is no money exchanged. In fact, the only exchange is one way; he gives and gives as I try to take and digest.

 My fatherhood was born out of my ego. My business was born out of my vanity. My teacher/student relationships were born out of my desire to burn away the ego and all its facets.

Einstein said “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing others, it is the only means.” There are many fine examples in the world to emulate when it comes to our professions or what I call external living.

 But who do you know that has maintained the same mood for 87 years!!! Lives completely stress free? Has no desires or motives to gain or lose anything? Loves everyone whether a saint or a sinner? Harbors no fears or resentments? These are the traits of human perfection that are outlined throughout the yoga scriptures.  Many of us lecture about these qualities while never having lived them! I have found someone who lives them. It is just being in his presence that has taught me what little I can live with. It is in the bosom of love that he gives to all creatures that I have found an ounce of salvation.

Peace,

EP

 


Let’s begin by identifying an oxymoron: men and yoga!

Generally speaking, it’s like oil and water. But men that practice yoga are smart, period. As for those that don’t, well… let me to try to help you.

Let’s face it, we men do not like being vulnerable in front of each other, let alone the opposite sex! And going to a class filled with sweating, half-naked women, and then being asked to move our bodies in ways we never have, is a tall order.

So gentlemen believe me, I get it. But here’s what you’re missing…

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If you don’t practice yoga but you consider yourself an intelligent person, did you know that “smarts” alone aren’t always enough? There is a fundamental difference between knowledge and wisdom.

Knowledge is knowing and wisdom is doing. Knowledge is sight and wisdom is insight.

Yoga teaches us how to convert a head full of information into a life filled with peace and prosperity, and that it’s not what we do in life that ultimately matters —  it’s how we do it!

Every man could use this lesson. The job does not make the man. The man makes the job.

Yoga teaches us there is no place for the ego if we want true peace in our lives. The ego only produces fear. Without fear, we are not concerned with what we will lose or never gain in this world. We are simply delighted to use our talents and resources to serve all of humanity.

A Navy Seal that recently attended my class said to me, “that was the toughest workout I’ve ever had in my life, even tougher than Seal training.” Yoga will prepare you for every sport and every activity. But nothing prepares you for yoga.

Clint Eastwood stated in one of his finest movies, Sudden Impact, that “a man’s got to know his limitations.” Clint’s a smart man and a serious meditator. Like Clint, yoga will teach you how to honor your limitations.

Yoga also makes us more comfortable in our skin and feel really good about ourselves. We learn to see ourselves through a different kind of mirror — an internal mirror. You can look good on the outside, but that does not mean you are going to feel good on the inside. But once we feel good from the inside-out, we are going to look really good as a result.

So guys, try to remember that yoga is not easy in any form, but it will make your life a whole lot easier. If you consider yourself a smart man, then get out there and try some yoga today!

Peace,
EP

This article was published in MindBodyGreen.com

A beautiful share from one of my first yoga students,  Lisa Chottiner.

Peace,
EP

“Do yoga,” said the infertility doctor. “You need to calm down to become pregnant.”

I was willing to do anything to have a baby. So I prepared my Type A overdrive for chanting, meditating, and levitating with a tiny man in a robe.

Instead, I found myself rocking poses to Cat Stevens, The Stones, and Jay-Z. My tattooed teacher seemed more suited to hang with Bret Michaels than the Dalai Lama.

This everyday guru, Eric Paskel, was the rock star of yoga. It wasn’t because of his killer good looks or his awesome playlist. It was because of his words. Eric was the first person to say he was full of sh**.

But he understood the human spirit and he had the power to express it in between calling out the poses.

Eric scraped souls.

He scraped mine.

After years of yoga classes, five failed IVFs, and a surrogate attempt that belongs on Dateline, Eric said, “wanting to have a child of your own is a selfish act when so many children need your love.”

I hated him.

He didn’t care what I thought. He spoke the truth.
Eventually, I knew it too.

So when the phone rang and the person on the other end said, “A baby girl was born.” I took a deep breath and was ready to welcome her home with less than 14 hours notice.

Three months later, the doctors said my baby girl was blind. I took another deep breath and knew this was a very special call to service.

My daughter is six years old. Each day brings new challenges, but also new joys.

It’s all because of the wisdom of my everyday guru.

Side bending

I have the privilege of being a yoga teacher. While 2 million people were hashtagging #yogaeverydamnday, I took 90 days to check out the “fitness” world. For you asana-goers, that means the G.Y.M. When I told my editor at Yoga Journal, she asked, “What did you find out?” Here it is, yoga community. Learn just what over-dosing on studio classes opened my eyes to. From abs to adrenaline, the gym’s got nothing on asana man.

SPINNING IS SOULLESS. Spinning. After spin class I was still “spun.” After 60 minutes of pedaling my ass off while listening to someone shouting, “Harder!” “Higher!” “Faster!” “Longer!” I felt like I was in bed with a partner I couldn’t please. Yes, the class worked out my legs and butt, but what about the other parts of my body? My core and arms were forlorn, neglected. Now it was the bad lover I was reminded of…

LESSON LEARNED: Spinning left me sweaty and searching for some spiritual takeaway.

CROSSED UP OR CROSSFIT? A big part of my adventure was spent taking cross-training or circuit-training classes; now called CrossFit, if you’re cool. Much like spinning, these total-body-toning teachers seemed focused on some false promises. Repeatedly, I heard that whatever I was doing in the moment would continue to burn calories when I wasn’t working out (HUH?). Apparently, the new thing is making the class duration a convenient 45 minutes but claiming that’s the optimal workout length?  Bull$#!! If you are athletic—or ADHD!—these classes can challenge and engage you. But I am both…so what was I missing?

LESSON LEARNED: I long for community. In yoga, there is a signature undercurrent of empathy: Come as you are, leave the negative behind, here’s the loving touch you didn’t find today.

KICKED AROUND. Kickboxing wasn’t new for me, but it had been a while since I punched and kicked my calories away. Let the record show that I think martial arts are powerful, beautiful and can be evolutionary for development. But this wasn’t the zen-inducing archery-esque class I was hoping for. Instead I wound up putting faces on the punching bags and reinforcing my own resentment toward a slim few.

LESSON LEARNED: This kind of blood-boiling bag-beating only leaves me exhausted mentally and emotionally.

BARRED. Barre, Shape, Sculpt classes by any variety of branded, creatively named moniker, left me feeling emotionally misshapen. Despite the need to go back to redefine my currently decent—by adult male and yoga standards—shape.

LESSON LEARNED: Sculpting my a$$ didn’t stop me from being an a$$. And none of it helped to shape a better life for me.

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ASANA MAN’S ASSESSMENT

If you are looking to get a work out and work your issues out, there is still only one class for all of us. One-stop shopping for your mind, body and intellect? That’s a dynamic, button-pushing, badass yoga class, of course.

Want to get more out of your yoga? Here are some tips on how to get a meaty, deep, emotionally and physically challenging class that’s slightly less chaotic than cross-fit-sculpt fusion.

1. Find an instructor who isn’t there to be liked.

2. Try a few classes and pick the one that makes you feel like a better person when you walk out of the room.

Meditate on this: We have such limited time in the day, spend it on what’s most important to you. Being fit is up there, but is it worth sacrificing the calm, serenity and sweetness a yoga class provides? I’ll give up some tightness in my arms, so I’m not such a tight ass. I will most happily sacrifice burning a few more calories, so I can learn how to not burn myself out any longer.

LESSON LEARNED: Yoga still rocks.

Peace,

EP

Easy Rider

Addiction is a fixation on anything outside the self that you believe can deliver your happiness.  Anything.  Drugs and alcohol are givens.  But also included are romantic relationships, clothes, cars, money, prestige, jobs, adventure, and excitement.

These enticements are cunning, baffling, powerful, and no one can escape this dragnet.

So much time is wasted worrying about marriage, jobs and money.  When people lose these things, they act like their worlds are destroyed.  That’s no way for a human to live.

We continue to smash our heads against the wall because our happiness is dependent on some external agency.

This is the hallmark of addiction.  It’s a clinging dependency, despite negative or even catastrophic consequences.

I speak from experience.

I knew early on in childhood that I was destined to become an addict.  I was never comfortable in my own skin, and I never felt part of the world.  This made it easy for me to pick up the booze at age ten.  I was getting high at age 12.  By 14, I was snorting cocaine.  By 15, I was dealing drugs and smoking crack.  I was thrown out of two high schools and the family home, and I had been held up at gunpoint.

Thirty-two days before my eighteenth birthday, I was living in a friend’s attic, listening to Cat Stevens’, “Tea for the Tillerman”, and filling a pipe with lint I picked up from the carpet.  I caught a glimpse of my shadow on the wall.

I realized that I had hit bottom.

I entered treatment on January 24, 1986.  I’ve been sober ever since.

I learned ten years into my sobriety that yoga was going to be essential in my ongoing recovery.   Because as soon as I stepped onto my mat, I couldn’t hide from myself anymore.  So I didn’t come back for three years.

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Yoga offers a spiritual roadmap to find your individual truth, and that isn’t always comfortable.

Yoga and recovery are spiritual kin.  Karma Yoga is the action of selfless service.   Bhakti Yoga is the acute awareness of the infinite blessings that surround you.  Jnana Yoga is the study of the universal principles of living.  These yogic traditions are the heart of the Alcoholics Anonymous 12 Steps.

When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

I don’t pull punches.  I want to keep it real.  Yoga is not about poses or poseurs (not a typo – poseurs are people who try to be someone other than their true self).  It’s not about trying to master a physical position.  No matter how beautiful your warrior is, it doesn’t make you a warrior.

Yoga is not about standing on your head; it’s about getting your head out of your ass.

Namaste,

EP

Based on an interview I gave to Nancy B. Loughlin, a writer and yogi in Fort Myers, FL

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When I started searching in earnest for a yoga studio that would serve my needs, I was disappointed to find that there was nothing out there for me .  Having overcome addiction and having practiced clinical psychology for a decade before coming to yoga, I was looking for something more than most yogis were looking for in their first trip to a studio. I began taking one “celebrity” yogi’s class after another, looking for a fit. Then I stopped looking to others and began looking within. Smile is my style of yoga.  Strange, but it was non-existent.

I want to make this the easiest practice when you open the door and walk in.  Easy as in: This is familiar. This is fun. This is relative. This is pertinent.  Instead of the sounds of harmonium, chanting, and prayers to Hindu deities, my Yoga Shelter studios blast music you know, instruct in plain English, and welcome everyone–and their baggage–to join the party.  A tight ass might be a byproduct of the Yoga Rocks workouts,  but  there is so much more.

A great body does not equate a great life.  If you only have so much time in a day, how much of it are you going to focus on this great body of yours? It’s a no-brainer!  If you’re not focusing on your body, what are you focusing on?

That’s where the critical part of the yoga practice comes into play. I take what I  learn from my teacher, Swami Parthasarathy, a Vedantic philosopher in India, and break it down into terms everyone can understand; learning to live the life we should and need to be living.  Off the mat, students need to  begin questioning everything.

I practice what feels familiar, and music is a big part of that. Yoga is about creating a silence within you.  But you do not need a silent room externally. Music can be a game changer, especially for newbies.  It can take an incredibly deep spiritual discipline and make it friendly, familiar, and less intimidating.

Rock on.  Now let’s get loud.

Peace,

EP

 

 

 

 

Silver Cave is the English translation - Viet Nam

As I pedal (on a life cycle in Hoi An) my way through another song on the instructor’s playlist (Tesla, “What You Give”) I am smiling, really marveling at my existence.

Who am I? I have searched through the scriptures from the West to the East. I continue to kneel at my teacher’s feet.  I have heard the answer.  But never once have I lived it or truly felt it.

What a life I live!  A life so full, so complete, but only to the naked eye. I am the only one who knows this creation called EP. Yet, I cannot seem to get beyond him; except for the faintest tad of consciousness that has me, at times, watching this guy, who I know is not really me.

Adored by his fans

I have traveled far and wide.  Yet for all the miles I have logged, I have not budged. I yearn to know who I am, but I am stuck in what I am not.  I watch the world go ’round. I hear your problems and I know my own.  I do see a oneness; it’s all of us lost!

This is my journey.  However, I know I am not alone. There are only a few of you out there who may understand me, and to you I say let us keep on searching; patiently, courageously, never giving up and never turning our backs on this great mission.

Let you and I be full of class when we quietly look the world in the face and say “KISS MY ASS”, for we will not fall prey to our little lives. There is something bigger, something better, somewhere in you and me and we will die looking for it.

No more will we base a changeless happiness on a changing world. Let us Rise from the basement of ignorance and reach up to the Throne Room, the Ultimate Shelter; the world beyond the one we know. The world where we are all knowing… One step at a time…

Peace,

EP

“Gratitude is heaven itself” — William Blake Thumbs upGratitude can be defined and understood as the only possible response to a gift.  A gift that is recognized as being utterly and freely given. Gratitude is a vision, a way of seeing, that recognizes a “gift”. Gratitude is not a feeling; feelings fade, for they are transient, and ephemeral. Gratitude is an ongoing thankfulness that comes from the knowledge of knowing how blessed we are and how many gifts we continue to receive.

The very core of all spirituality is gratitude. Without gratitude, one has no spirit and with it, one is spirited.

Remember what you have this Thanks-Giving. Think of just one thing that is wonderful about you; one thing that is incredible about the world you live in, and then you will have one hell of a Thanks-Giving.

It only takes a single blessing, a single gift, to make an entire life grand.

Peace,

EP