I am not even sure exactly how I feel about this yet…I am putting this down in a post so I make sure to come back to this and remember this moment. I work in a Title I inner city school and wore this shirt to work. I have worn it before. However, today, a colleague told me to go home and change my shirt. They said it “should say all lives matter in schools.” I was surprised given the location and situation that we are in everyday, that someone I work with would even question or pause on this movement. At first I thought they were trying to joke with me. I let the comment hang out there and let them see that I believe in this movement. This is not a message of Black Lives Matter more than anyone else…but they matter just as much as everyone else and you CANNOT work where I work and possibly think that things are equal. I know I have much more to say on this but need to get back to work. Wow. (not to mention the ONLY person who can tell me to go home and change my shirt is…ME.)
A couple of days ago, we had a wonderful day spent at the Town Pool near my mother’s house. We are visiting for a a couple of weeks and sometimes we trek over to the town pool rather than spend the whole day at home in my mom’s pool. The town pool has diving boards, a sprinkler park, and water slides. It is a really nice facility and the population who uses it is diverse. It has a very laid back atmosphere while still upholding top notch safety regulations.
While we were there, a little girl was wading in the water near us. My mother and I were in the kiddie section with my little guy watching my daughter go down the water slides. This little girl was bobbing around and hanging on the ropes looking a little lost or bored. Eventually she spoke to my mother and told her that she didn’t really know how to swim. My mom had a lovely chat and while I was helping my 2 year old float and kick, my mom convinced this girl to paddle around and gain a wee bit of confidence. It was enough to ignite some life into her smile and also glue her to our family for the day. Shortly after this, it seemed every where we turned, there she was. My daughter played with her and swam, but this little girl really didn’t know how to do much but float and dunk her head under water. They had a hard time choosing what to do because my daughter, although a year younger than this girl, is a strong swimmer. The girl’s mother came over at one point wading through the water only to inform the girl that she was going to go over to the deep pools with a friend and she should just have my mom and I look after her. I was stunned. The woman made no attempt to even introduce herself to us or even speak to us, but hooked her daughter to us.
We did look after her. We included her into our conversations and played in the water. However, when it was time to get out to have lunch, I felt torn. I wanted to invite the girl to our table and blankets to eat. But something about it felt strange. I do this a lot. I take on other people’s stuff, or even other people without thought or question. However, I have committed myself to taking on MYSELF more than others and this felt in violation of that concept. I am grateful for my ability to pause and get lost in thought. It allowed the Universe to step in to guide me. The little girl waved and made her way through the sea of swimmers to find her family. I saw her across the pool deck seated slight away from the swarm of family surrounding bags of snacks and accessories. She waved again. I waved back. Moving forward and touched by an invisible strand of human connection. I am reminded that not everything NEEDS to be defined, solved, or analyzed.
April 29 – I was convinced last night that I would be up before the sun and ready to approach the day. I had been waking so early recently that I figured it would be like all the others. However, I slept right up to my alarm and even then was not enthusiastic to peel myself off the sheets. I stumbled my way to work and parked my car. Sitting there I was reminded that in order to embrace this life and steer myself in a direction toward my goals and dreams, I would need to break habits of self doubt and negative energy.
I got out of my car and before I grabbed my bags or did anything else, I breathed. Several enormous gulps of fresh Spring air entered my body. I was then inspired to give the day some Sun Breaths right there in the parking lot. I said Yes to the day and brought myself into the light.
I remembered a recent commitment I made that involves a daily gesture of self care, self love, and a moment to deepen my practice. I put all my bags and work aside. Went to a locker and unrolled a yoga mat. In the new sun of this new day I greeted it with some gentle yoga. I spent some time examining my balance and where I am placing weight through my feet on the mat. It was liberating to reclaim work space as a place of love, healing, and spiritual practice.
May 8 – We only had 20 minutes to discover our stillness and find the light within ourselves. We began from a standing spiraling energy and gently took each breath to settle and go inside. We took care of our bodies. We took care of our hearts. I am so blessed to have this opportunity and doing my best to take it every time.
Tadasana and Utkatasana brought us swiftly into concentrated power. I am so proud to look out at the room full of young people taking the journey to be healthier and more mindful. It is in these moments of sustaining postures that I am no longer agitated by discomfort. I am finding ways to allow it to be there while also being appreciative that I can experience this. I enjoy reminding my students that they have control over their experience and can adjust accordingly. It is liberating.
Cobra today was transformative. We focused more on our alignment and less on how high we lifted and it became a new experience. I am hoping to show them that pushing through sometimes leaves you empty. That in yoga it is important to explore the stretch and sensation in the small movements and adjustments. My students took the time to allow their bodies to gradually rise and stayed present to what slight shifts could reveal.
When is came time for our closing mediation I encouraged my students to focus on recognizing their inner strength and power. With every inhale we invited thoughts of what we most want to become. We inhaled the strength and power we wish to possess. With every exhale we expanded and rejoiced that we are already what we wish to become. We celebrate the path and continue the cycle. I saw the light beam out from every face in front of me. These kids shine. Be the light.
April 17 – This week I wanted my yoga students to not only make strides in their personal practice of focus, stretch, strength, and balance; but I wanted them to know that anything was possible because they possess all the tools they need to be successful. I wanted them to believe that they hold their power. Our mediation was centered on the quote:
Everything you need, your courage, strength, compassion and love; everything you need is already within you.
I began class with that phrase and ended with it. I also told them:
There are only two mistakes someone can make along the road to truth; not going all the way, and not starting. -Buddha
I could feel them melt as they released into these ideas. When I said it at the beginning of class, it was something to think about and roll around in their brains. When I said it again at the end of class, I could feel the kids grow and get more powerful. It is the most amazing feeling in the world to feel that inner strength from someone radiate into the room. I am so thankful for this opportunity.
Then it flooded me like a fiery bubbling wave. I needed to hear this and say this. I needed to remind myself that I do not need to search anywhere but in my own self for all the courage, strength, compassion, and love I need. I have it. I have had it all along. So much of my upbringing has reinforced the American scheme of being dependent on commercialism, self doubt, and self deprecation in order to survive. I am reteaching myself to look within and like what is there. I am learning to be faithful in myself and capabilities.
“The is never a time in the future in which we will work out our salvation. The challenge is in the moment, the time is always now.” -James Baldwin DWCHS ’42
April 3 – This was our closing meditation in yoga this morning. We are reinforcing that we are control of our actions and how we focus our energy. I am never quite certain from where the quote or intention will come and yet every week as if by magic it happens. I am so blessed to be part of a group of young people that are using yoga and meditation to redirect their futures.
I have found this quote particularly helpful in warding off feelings of failure and doubt. I am always in the moment of creating my salvation. I am always in the opportunity of generating positive change and growth. It seems as though stress, deadlines, expectations, and frustrations have been consuming my thoughts. I am doing my best to remember that I can breathe and make better choices. I can enlist help when needed. I can believe in the power of now to release me from the mistakes I made before or the perception of myself that is not serving me well. I know that each breath I inhale, I can reflect all the things I am able to do in this moment to feel and be better. With every exhale I breathe out gratitude for the opportunity to be this amazing person with choices and love. This is what I encourage in my students. Go inside and bring in the celebration of self. Breathe out the appreciation and be thankful for the ability to be celebratory. It guarantees motivation and positive energy.
Each moment I take my salvation, my future into my own hands, I am empowering the inner warrior to love, celebrate, and give thanks. In this moment now I am beyond happy that I am bringing yoga into my life with a more focused and dedicated approach. I am grateful that I have students with which I can share my journey and together we learn and grow. Healing is a process. I am coming back stronger and more aware and I am thankful.
I stepped into the labyrinth path not sure of what I needed, wanted, or why I was walking. I started slowly. One step at a time trying to listen to my breath and the wind. I was in pain and didn’t realize it. For a while I have been floating through my days acting as if I was happy and ‘in a good place”. And maybe I was. But there was pain. Pain that had not been introduced or acknowledged. It was small, sharp and tender. I have spent many hours in reflection confronting my pain and joy in hopes of embracing it all. It wasn’t until I stepped into the labyrinth, stepped in with a yielding heart did I notice this piece of myself. I had been praying for a door to be shown to me. A door to the next path of my journey. A new career, a new life, a new something to be presented to me so I could run to it and through it.
I tried to envision myself available and ready to be presented with this opportunity. I attempted to let the Universe know I was ready to leave what I knew as my daily routine and fly to something exciting and new. (Oh Universe, you are more clever and interesting than I give you credit!) As I walked I visualized a room full of doors that could be opened and I prayed that my walk, my weekend of meditation would rescue me from my current path and light up a new door. I thought about it flashing and flying open with a beautiful flourish and glorious light and music that I would dance my way into my true self.
I had been in this mindset where I didn’t like my job and the people I work for or at least the policies that dictate my day. I could feel a dread of returning to work after a holiday and it was not the typical “not wanting to leave vacation land” dread. It felt deeper and sadder. I felt like I was willingly digging myself into a hole that I would claim I was stuck inside. I was beginning to understand that I was walking myself to my despair. I was sad.
I stopped on the path and looked around. I took in the sounds of the meadow coming alive in the afternoon sun. I prayed again “please, please, please show me what is next, what is great, what is true.” I expected to get insight from the wonderful person that was Leading my workshop. I thought she would say or do something and tell me or even command me to try something new. I thought she would save me before I buried myself. The birds flew very close to me. The bees rested on my skin and I didn’t flinch. A mothy butterfly thing fluttered on my breath causing me to walk again. As I took each new step, I felt the pain again. A tiny piercing but gentle pain was awakening deep within my body. Tears started to swell in my eyes and drip from the corners down my cheek. At first I was confused, but I let it happen. I didn’t wipe them away, I let them go where they needed to go. I began to cry without understanding of why. I brought my mind back to my little pain. It was like a whisp of light and emotion somewhere deep in my shell.
I heard a voice. Or maybe I heard myself. But the words of Rumi rang out clear and soft, “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
My breath latched on something sharp like a crack and then poured out with tears and a warm, fluid light. This sounds so unreal even as I write it, but I swear this is what I felt. My mind showed me images of cracked glass, shattered Earth and then a small flower bud with small bits ripping open to bloom. At that image, I understood something with out words. I was the shattered cracking beauty ripping to bloom. I began to laugh and walk faster. I talked to myself about allowing myself to crack open and bloom. Could I do it? Could I be brave? Along my walk ,I saw many small flowers trying to open in the sun and my chest ached. ACHED so intensely I actually stumbled and cried out. I am fairly certain there were others at the Labyrinth when I entered but in that moment it was only me. Only me.
Then my walk became more steady and directed. Only me…became simply me. A glorious Me. The meadow around me seemed a few shades brighter or more vivid. I tried to clear my eyes, thinking it was the tears distorting my world into a technicolor land of OZ, but it was real. I thought back to my initial concerns. What did I hope to achieve from this weekend and meditation? I was hoping for a door, an escape into my new life. I wanted to be shown a door to the next Me that I would love. A door. I focused on this image I had been obsessed with, a door. As I neared the center of the Labyrinth a door was presented to me in my mind. It became more clear but somewhat frustrating. I kept trying to see it open up and show me the new world that would make my life better. To my confusion, it did open but not out to something. The door swung in…it lead me inward. Inside this door was that concentrated ball of light trying to escape.
I stopped in my tracks and blinked several times. I shut that inner door and took some breaths. What was happening?
The way to my true self is through me…the place I have not wanted to go. The place I have tried to transform and escape. I thought back to the flowers beginning to burst open. We never think of those places of green ripping to reveal such vibrance as glorious pain. Maybe pain is not the right word anymore. It is more like a release after a strong hold. I began to pray and walk with energy thinking about myself bursting into bloom. I wanted to embrace the idea that I too could crack and allow the light to enter and escape. That light can fill me and the world to be part of a one.
Leonard Cohen says, “There is a crack in everything, that is how the light gets in.” I have spent so much time trying to fill the cracks. Now perhaps I can focus on being the shattered, cracking, beauty ripping to bloom.