Note: {I originally published this podcast episode on December, 27, 2020 as Episode 18. I recently published it again (as Episode 37) with the hope that it might lift your spirits during this holiday season}. Here is the transcript. . . .

Greetings All, Welcome to the podcast “Close to the Bone.” I’m Carl Vreeland.

This is episode #18, it’s entitled, The Story of Scrooge.

I am grateful for Yoga. It has transformed my life. The poses, the movement, the mindful breathing has graced me with good health; physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. And I am reminded of this during the holiday Christmas season, particularly because of the story, A Christmas Carol written by Charles Dickens, as most of you know. A story about, among other things, how people can change. And how it usually takes divine intervention, great pain and suffering, grace, a surrendering to a Power greater or a spiritual discipline. So, unlike what many think, it’s never too late to change.

With Scrooge, here we have a young man who progressively suffers the consequences of his actions; choosing the material world over the spiritual world. That is to say, choosing money over love, human connection, and the Divine. As with any and every wrong turn, which steers us away from the spiritual realm, the Divine, a Higher Power, God, we take a step closer to a hell on earth. And soon enough we find ourselves suffering in some shape or form a little more each day, whether that be in the form of back pain, stomach pain, frequent colds, migraines, or high anxiety, depression, or a feeling of emptiness. Yes, spiritual sickness is progressive. But again, as we witness in a Christmas Carol, it’s never too late to turn your life around. And here we see Scrooge, a crotchety, old, miserably miser, experience an intervention. Which, and important to point out, took hold. I say this because there are many who have wake-up calls that never. . . well. . . wake-up. They remain asleep, no matter how times they get beaten over the head, as it were. My teacher often said, “Denial is a powerful thing.”

The ego, when it rules over all else, such as heart, love, the welfare of others, and God, is destructive and harmful. I mean, just look at the effect Scrooge had on others, which becomes apparent when he transforms—the whole village rises up. The once depressed, fearful, dirty, distrusting public lifts up, smiles, and dances. The impact of every individual, every one of us, is immeasurable, which is why we must keep in mind the responsibility each and every one of us has on the world. We must be accurate with our words and mindful about our actions. We make a difference. We can inspire others or bring them down with our attitudes and behaviors.

So what happen to Scrooge? Well, when a person turns self-serving, self-interested, self-centered, and selfish, he or she become soulless, they alienate, everyone and everything becomes a threat to them. It’s a dark existence indeed. Yet, why are there still so many egocentric people out there? We know the results, the consequences. Well, the answer is simple, it’s our default mode. Left to our own devices, our self-will, our ego; we turn into selfish, self-protecting, fearful creatures.

You might be wondering at this point, “OK, well, what does this have to do with Yoga?” Just this—whenever I’m feeling out of sorts, in my head, drawn in by my ego, feeling self-righteous, fearful, angry or alienated, slipping back into my default mode, if you will, I go to the Yoga practice, the physical practice, the mindful breathing, meditation, essentially to God. The Yoga practice deactivates my default mechanism, my sympathetic nervous system, the stress response, and it connects me to my heart, to the Divine, and to my True Nature, as the Buddhist’s say. Some days I find myself getting on the mat, feeling, and sometimes looking and sounding like the old Ebenezer Scrooge, “Bah humbug.” And within an hour of practice, I’m again feeling light, easy, and downright giddy. Yes, in a hour, without being visited by a ghost, and three spirits, without a sleepless night, in sixty minutes or less, I’m back to my True Nature.

See, even if one has woken up, transformed into the happy and gay Scrooge we see at the end, it’s easy to fall back on the old ways, the default. So, well-being, plain and simple, entails daily maintenance. This is why we see alcoholics and drug addicts walk out the doors of detoxes and rehabs sober and clean and smiling, only to pick up a drink or call their old drug dealer once life throws them a curve ball, or even due to something more minor than that, like missing a train. Well-being is a life-long process, it’s a way of living, that must maintained. What’s more, it must be nurtured, it needs to grow and evolve.

Yoga is transformative, not only on the short term, but on the long term. It’s a life-long practice, but it best be thought of as daily practice. See, when we practice one day at a time, before you know it, twenty-years go by. For some, the thought of taking on a life-long process feels overwhelming and too much of a commitment, not unlike when an alcoholic is told they can never drink again. This is why in Alcoholics Anonymous, the alcoholic doesn’t drink today, just today, he or she doesn’t drink. This is in fact a wonderful mantra; one day at a time; it keeps us in the day, in the moment, present, engaged, and mindful, and not worrying about the future. One day at a time, is a dam good start.

As always, thank you for listening. If you enjoy this podcast, a great way to support it is to leave a Review, or Rate it, Subscribe to it, and Share it with others. It really does help.

Be well. Be safe. And thanks again.

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