Does The End Justify The Means?

karmaDominosThe answer to this might be more gray than black and white. What is “the means”? What is “the end”? Are we ending world hunger? Creating world peace? How does this apply in your relationships, to your career, or to your yoga practice?

This saying can be traced back to Demosthenes (384 – 322 BC) when he said, “Every advantage in the past is judged in the light of the final issue.”

A similar quote by Saint Jerome around 394 A.D states… “The line, often adopted by strong men in controversy, of justifying the means by the end.”

And we see it again from Ovid, the Roman poet, in his saying, “The result justifies the deed.”

What is the reality?

Can we throw moral caution to the wind and justify any means by the end? Anything to get the win, reach the goal, make it to the top, and don’t stop until you drop?

Karma, Karma, Karma – do you love me? (reminds me of a 60’s song)

Here’s the thing…We don’t get to escape Karma…the energy with which we use to get what we want in life is the energy that lights our way to our destiny.

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Who can forget the Tonya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan drama of the 1994 Winter Ice Skating Olympics…or the scandalous doping of Lance Armstrong as a Professional Cyclist? Classic examples of justifying the means to get the desired end.

Our energy has a ripple effect on ourselves and the people around us.

In this light, it is the underlying intention of the heart that justifies the end.

Mat translation…

In the early years of my yoga practice it really mattered that I strike the RIGHT pose and that it LOOK a certain way and that I HOLD it for an unreasonable amount of time… usually longer than the person next to me. Bigger, better, longer, stronger. Apparently the end result mattered…to me. I was comparing rather than connecting, forcing rather than yielding, and caring about what others thought rather than how I felt.

After many injuries (wrists, ACL tear, hamstring issues, rotator cuff issues, etc.) I began to LISTEN, WATCH, and LEARN. Over time I sought a different means to the end. Instead of forcing I dropped into a more child-like curiosity. Learning to feel into a posture with more skillful alignment and tuning in with how my mind and body was responding. Was there a buildup of resentment, forcefulness, or harsh undertones? OR did my practice include respect, love, compassion, and care? When I let go of grasping for “perfection” what came naturally was a perfect pose. I don’t mean the magazine kind of perfect pose…I mean the pose that feels right, supported but not overly tense, extended but not overly stretched, strong but not overly rigid. The result for me has been a quicker route to what I wanted in the first place…a real purposeful yoga practice. One that cultivates peace, strength, and honesty within me.

What is your weigh in on this thought?

Maybe in the end it’s the means that really matters.

68963169 - hand lettering illustration - karma. vector

Leave a comment below about where/when you find the end justifying the means or the other way around… the means justifying the end. I’d love to hear from you!

Decisions, Decisions…

I’m a self proclaimed recovering multitask-aholic. I start on one project and get side tracked into another…then another…and oh yes then another…by the end of the day I wonder where my time was spent because it looks like NOTHING was accomplished. It is common in a day to put many demands on myself. Without filters to say “no” to many of these tasks I would feel guilty or like I was “missing out” on something if I didn’t do it ALL. I felt like my life was being played out for me and I was getting resentful. Most of these tasks (if not all) seemed super important to me… things like, I need to keep up in my business, spend time with the kids, get dinner on the table, clean the house, do the laundry, water the garden (or put one in), mend those shirts that are piled up, get a workout in, meditate, meet with my child’s teacher, grocery shop, date night, network with peers, squeeze in some yoga training, etc. I lost site of important goals because of all the little unimportant “important” tasks.

Reminds me of saying…”The road to hell <or mediocrity> is paved with good intentions.”

I get it.

My dreams and aspirations were getting lost in an ocean of “have tos” and “shoulds”. I found myself swimming in self doubt, overwhelm, and un-constructive inner criticism because I wasn’t able to prioritize.

What to do about it?

For me it’s a daily practice of staying present and determining WHAT is most important. I DECIDE on a goal and then DECIDE what, where, and with whom I spend my time…having the end goal in mind.  I get to use my decision making muscles. I create focus and clarity by having an “eye on the prize” so to speak.

The key lies in the word “decide”. To “decide” is to literally “cut” yourself off from any other option. Once you decide to do something there is no turning back.

Once the trapeze artist decides to let go of the swing there is no turning back, he has to catch the next swing mid-air to make it to the other side.

Life is like that.

If we are only dipping our toe half into the water we will falter and when the going gets tough it’s easier to give up and move back into our comfort zone (or safety net) rather than plunge right in and make it to the goal. To DECIDE gives you no other option.

For instance, I decided last year to enter my FIRST ever Triathlon. (It’s been on my bucket list for 20+ years).

So why did I follow through this time?

When the opportunity arose to enter the “Women of Steel” sprint triathlon I decided to put my money where my mouth was. It took me less than five minutes to make that decision. I plunged in…ready, set, and registered. No turning back.

Did I have to get up early to get a run in? Yes. Was it hard? Yes. What got me up was the picture in my mind of me finishing the race with a decent time and plenty of energy. I had my “eye on the prize”. I did NOT want to “half-ass” it and come in middle of the pack, out of breath, injured, or worse…not finish.

When my training required two-a-days I mustered up the inner strength to bike to the local rec center, swim a mile and then bike home.Was it cold? YES. Was it windy? YES. Was it hard? YES.

Why did I stick with it? Because I made a conscious, internal decision I was going to do it. There was NO TURNING BACK or giving up. Making the decision gave me unwavering focus to stay with my training and NOT get sidetracked into other “important” tasks.
No detours, no excuses.

Making that single clear decision gave me the focus i needed to train without distractions.

My yoga practice helps me conquer outer distractions and instead tune in and cultivate focus. It has been a useful part of my life’s training as I set goals and keep my “eye on the prize”.
A great pose to encourage focus without faltering is  Vrksasana (Tree pose).
What decisions have you made in the past month? Are you moving forward on your goals even when they are hard? What keeps you motivated? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.
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Top 5 Life-Affirming Practices

I’m here in St. George at the Huntsman Senior Games supporting my man in his quest to be the fastest biker over 50 competing against top cyclists in the state of Utah and from around the country. He’s pretty darn fast! How does he do it?

Single minded focus and great determination. He has what I call self-discipline (see definition of self-discipline in my recent article). Continue reading

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In the article he answers a common question posed by many of his patients and non-patients alike and that is: “What vitamins or pills would you recommend to improve my health?” Continue reading

Breaking News

For the past 10 years I’ve been involved in the process of building yoga in the community. First, through teaching for my mentor and friend D’ana Baptiste and secondly, buying her company, Alpine Yoga back in 2004. And more recently, expanding the studio with my biz partner Julie Branham in 2008 to form Lifted Life Yoga Center. It has been a wild, sometimes frustrating, amazingly rewarding ride during the past 7 years. So, it is with much excitement, some fear, and a lot of faith that I am stepping out of the role of studio owner to make time to pursue some business dreams and goals that I have long been planning. As all good things must come to an end, so too do new opportunities spring up in their stead. Continue reading