Practice what you Teach

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.

 

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The time is always NOW

“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.

 

Labyrinth

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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.

Connect

I am finding it difficult to find a pathway, a direction that feels genuine to me because I am living life trapped in a body, in a framework that does not feel authentic to my goals. Whenever I try to focus on feeling better about my body or my life and try to “get myself back on track”, I feel disappointed and flustered. Several times a day I can walk past a mirror or glass windows and see my reflection. I am almost always taken off guard and shocked or disgusted by what I process or behold. Several times a day this can happen. Almost as if my brain refuses to accept what I am on a surface level. This is not good because I can never be in the moment if I can’t be who I am in the moment. I am in a constant flux between loathing or promising change, never acceptance.

Tonight I am trying to recommit to myself. I am trying to have a conversation of love and hope towards myself and what each new breath can offer. I do not want to waste time on empty promises or punish myself for being me. I am taking breath and attempting genuine love. This is not easy. Even as I type this, I pause for another breath in and try to think about something that I can celebrate about myself. I am sad that I have to do this but I must accept that this is where I am – it is me…for right now. I want to remind myself tonight before I set my brain towards sleep, that I am an agent of change and I can bring positive change to myself. I deserve the investment of time, planning and care towards committing to being in a perpetual state of positive change and flow.

I have heard so many times the phrase “be kind to yourself” and have often dismissed it as an excuse for mediocrity. I have not been able to wrap my brain, heart and soul around this concept of self kindness. I am trying. So, tonight, I am going to embark on a little journey of being kind to myself. I am combining my discipline of daily writing with this concept of acceptance and self love. I am going to tell you that I didn’t do much along the lines of losing the weight I desperately want to lose. I didn’t give hours of my day to my art. I didn’t make plans or devote myself to getting ahead at work. Yet, I did stay calm during several times I wanted to lose my temper. I celebrated silly jumps into the pool by my five year old. I curled up and became a cushion for my two year old to nap and recharge. I said please, thank you, and my pleasure more times than I can count. My kids went to bed happy, safe, and fed. My parents are smiling and reliving every wonderful moment they had with their grandkids today. Here I am in the middle of it all, reminding myself that I am worthy of a pat on the back. I may even rub my own feet before I sleep. I help bring happiness to the world around me and it is silly not to allow myself to feel some of that, take some of that, own some of that for myself.

Quick thought: I would never tell an Iris it is not beautiful because it doesn’t look enough like a daisy…

Always Learning

Every day we have a series of opportunities to learn more. This can be down to learning a trade, skill, craft, discipline. It can also be about learning/discovering more about yourself. I love to learn. Love it. I say this because I forgot that about myself for a brief moment. I forgot how much I am a lover of learning. I have always been able to say this about myself but for a brief moment I forgot that this is truly a huge part of me. Recognizing this, reclaiming this brings the focus back to where it is needed. Love, Learning and self are at the center of a new journey.

Last night, I bought new shoes.

 

Build a Bridge

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I recently had an opportunity to go on retreat with myself. I escaped for a few days from my daily grind in order to let go of some internal baggage and hopefully fall a little bit in love with myself. I quickly honed in and realised that I am no longer interested in ripping open old wounds, reliving bad moments of my past or bringing up a lot of garbage that has weighed me down, only to wallow in it. I am okay doing all of that as long as I see it, identify, learn, and move on. I want to Build a Bridge and get over it.

This is crucial. This is liberating. I am open to an exorcism if I know I have some cleansing and cleaning power at the ready.

I am fortunate. I have a great therapist. I have a wonderful husband and children. Everyone is on my team, encouraging me to keep the celebration of myself going…it took a lot to get to this place , but I am proud I am here.

Since my personal retreat, I have experienced a couple of potential stress hurricanes. I was somewhat surprised with my ability to quickly access a place of calm openness and a powerful commitment to my own limitations. There is strength in saying I am at my capacity. It helps you move forward without picking up more than you can handle. I was able to listen to a troubled friend without getting consumed by the drama or hurt. I have had a habit in the past to take it on in order to help their pain…meanwhile clogging my own ability to move on. No more. I also was at work and a colleague wanted to take my time without respect or efficiency. I said no. I was firm. I stated that I am limited for time and I cannot extend myself anymore especially if there is no plan, agenda or clear objective to how my time will be used. That is a HUGE accomplishment for me. I can suffer from wanting to please or feeling that its better if I give to all…and again it leaves me flattened and furious. Not this time. I learned something crucial at my retreat: Taking on more, carrying more burden does NOT make you stronger. It can weaken you and defeat you. There is so much strength in setting limits and respecting your abilities…it is true self perseverance and love. Strength comes from love.

So yea…I am building a bridge.