Tuesday, September 29, 2009
"Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it..." Elizabeth Gilbert, "Eat, Pray, Love"
I know a little bit about this. Throughout the course of my life, I have received much feedback--some good and some not-so-good--about my outlook on life. I have actually offended a few people with my level of happiness.
And I feel a need to speak to this for all the resistance I have ever received when I can find a silver lining amid black storm clouds or when I experience joy in the mundane.
SO--the thing is?
This is really me, authentic and pure.
It's SO not a front--I really love life and living and I reap so much joy from the process of it all and even in those moments when I am on my knees with my body bowed in submission, I know the light follows and I abide the darkness with grace.
But here's the other 'thing'--I have fought HARD for my happiness, bared myself to the bone for it, settled for nothing less than it and pulled my body, wracked in grief, to the summit of the happiness I know I deserve.
Granted, when I was younger it was more of a front for me, I'm sure. I'd dare to say it was a survival mechanism.
If I kept on my happy face, no one would know my grandfather was touching and penetrating my young body with a suffocating frequency and more than that, they would never find out it was my fault--that I had planted this seed of sickness inside of him. I say that from my four year old self--the little girl who was convinced by this man that she had started something he could not stop.
If I pretended to be free and wild, no one would ever find out that my mother used her hands and her words to reduce me--that I was unworthy of love and inadequate and longing with a blazing passion to be loved...by anyone.
If I pretended to be confident and sure, no one would ever find out that I was starving myself to emaciation because the body I saw in the mirror was inflated by my own self-loathing imagination, a self-loathing birthed and nurtured by my mother's scathing commentary on my body and overall existence.
If I pretended to be carefree, no one would know that I was longing for my father's attention and not just when I fucked up.
I would not break, I would not shake or tremble--not me. You wouldn't make me cry--no. I would hold up my front like a fortress.
Fortunately, that 'front' began to crumble and behind her was a freshly budding, soft and fragile, courage, still pink from birth. Somehow, after all the messages to the contrary, I loved myself--I think I had to, for most of my young life, I was my only source of nurturing.
Somehow, at my core, I really liked me, really. And I admired how hard I had fought for my autonomy, for my voice to prevail those other voices before and around me, whirling like a soul-sucking cyclone.
Somehow, I knew I was unique in my ability to continue holding my head up with so many people and forces in my life hellbent to take me down. I was already keenly aware of my determination and trusted myself above ALL others.
Somehow...I made it.
Over time, the end result is me. Right where I am. Precisely who I am--a warrior willing and determined and able to fight for her right to be happy because I know nothing else, because I crave the breath within me and I anticipate the next, because I have seen the dark and much prefer the light, because I have hit the bottom and clawed my way to the top.
I marinated in unhappiness most of my young life but I always held on.
I held on to love.
I held on for love.
...all for the hope of love.
"We must get our hearts broken sometimes...it means we have tried for something." Eat, Pray, Love
Life is ephemeral and because every moment counts so much, count me in--I want to try for something.
We should never, ever, ever, force explanation or shame from another for the light they have inside. We don't need to. If you stand close enough, you will find enough light to borrow until you kindle your own again because the light returns.
I know this much is true...
...the light returns.
I love this time of year--it holds, for me, the perfect balance. Not too hot, not too cold--just right. I can feel the familiar peace settle over me that settles over me every year and I think it's a lovely bundle of how I feel about the holidays, the family time and the weather of this season.
Hope--hope simmers inside me and contentment abounds.
As the air begins to chill, it is ever more important to prepare the body before a physical practice, building heat and establishing a strong sutra of breath along which the body moves, the mind meditates and expression unfolds.
Last night I led my students through a prana flow as our warm up and share it here:
Setu-Bhandasana (Bridge) Flow
- With the inhale, tuck the tail bone under, press into the feet and lift the hips--because we are cultivating prana, the rise should last the duration of the inhale and pause at the peak.
- With the exhale begin to lower the hips, again, riding the breath down.
I offered the option of adding the arms (with inhale they reach up and over the body to frame the head and with exhale lift and lower to beside the body) or keeping them grounded.
Supine Leg Lift Flow
- From your back w/arms grounded beside you, lift the legs, feet to the ceiling--inhale here.
- Exhale and begin to lower the straightened legs until they hover over the mat (without touching)
- Inhale and slowly lift them again, keeping a slight angle instead of coming all the way up to vertical really engages the core.
This flow not only marries movement to breath but builds warmth in the core that will radiate throughout the body.
- From table, inhale and lift the crown of the head and the tail toward the ceiling, pull the shoulders back and sink the heart as the back scoops out.
- Exhale, round the spine, tuck the tail and let the head gently drop.
Back and forth with breath will warm the spine, preparing it for more movement.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Check out yoga on the slackline:
Looks like I can get my supplies here at Slack Line Express.
For more on this awesome expression of yoga and strength, you can visit YogaSlackers online.
Here's to slacking off!
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
This was a great one hour presentation on the effects that stress has on our lives and our health, presenting research on the link between stress and disease and even exploring the sociocultural causes or breeding grounds of stress (our position in various hierarchies in relation to power v. lack of power).
The following is a snippet from the PBS website summary of the documentary:
"The stress response: in the beginning it saved our lives, making us run from predators and enabling us to take down prey. Today, human beings are turning on the same life-saving physical reaction to cope with 30-year mortgages, $4 a gallon gasoline, final exams, difficult bosses and even traffic jams — we can't seem to turn it off. So, we're constantly marinating in corrosive hormones triggered by the stress response".
More on the documentary can be found here.
In thinking about stress, my own and in general, I was filled with relief that I have this secret weapon--not really secret, but underused for so many people. My yoga practice has equipped me with what I need to move through stress with grace.
I still succumb to flare-ups now and then but I have the tools within me to soothe my own soul and however slowly the peace comes, it does come--a truth I have come to believe in like I know the sun will rise tomorrow, just as today.
I seem to be in a place today where I am holding onto that truth like the string of a prized helium balloon so it doesn't slip from my grip into the beyond--just sitting on the edge of a quake, trying not to be consumed...so I breathe, balance and breathe.
Part of preventing stress from becoming an all-encompassing force in our lives too comes from our level of happiness or overall contentment with where we are at any given moment. Over time, I have become better at sitting with myself WHEREVER I'm at in my range of emotions and wherever I am in my life, physically or situationally.
This contentment is a practice, cultivated over time and for me, it was a matter of paying attention, showing up to life, especially to the moment and releasing the grip that wants to steer, control or 'attach' to a particular outcome.
This comes from an article in a Yoga Journal newsletter, featuring the wisdom of T.K.V. Desikachar:
“A lot of people are doing postures, but are they happy? They can do a beautiful posture, but their life is a big headache.” Mastery of yoga is really measured, Desikachar says, by “how it influences our day-to-day living, how it enhances our relationships, how it promotes clarity and peace of mind.”
This is my path of teaching right now--conveying the practice in a way that makes it relevant and significant off the mat, outside of the studio, for my students. I know, I know--they probably have to come to this on their own but I know what is in my heart, so where's the middle ground?
It's all good in the hood...namaste'
Monday, September 21, 2009
The kids had just walked out the door to take Lucy outside and my son was beckoning me.
At first I wanted to say, "buddy I'll see it later, I really have to get dinner started". Mind you, it had been a long day--early morning practice at 4:45 AM, worked until 3:30, walked on the river eating ice cream with my little man and taught an evening class.
But against my own inner resistance, I walked to the front door and saw him through the glass. He was beaming with the sweetest, most innocent smile--the epitome of wonder and delight--and he was pointing up toward our porch light looking back and forth between me and his find, eyes alight.
I walked over to the glass door and looked up to see the lime green tree frog that had captured my little boy's attention, stopping him in his tracks until he could share it with someone...me.
As I stood there appreciating the delicate little frog, I was so grateful for all the times we have stopped along the way to revel in the little things--for all the critters, colors in the sky, beautiful fallen leaves or flowers--because now, he takes in the world with an open heart, catching the details that might have gone unnoticed.
The fact that he wanted to share this with me is an honor and one of the many gifts of my day dare I slow down to receive.
I got chills when I read this last night because it aptly expresses why I purposely AVOID identifying with titles or limiting myself to a description of who I am by way of titles.
I am so much more than the lousy array of boxes I could put myself in--woman, mother, advocate, writer, blah-phooey-blah. I resist them, oh god, I resist them!
I am far too dynamic to be suffocated in a compartment to make classification and sorting easier, to accentuate the magnification of our alleged differences or to make sense of what is yet understood.
I dare you to reach out and beyond to
reveling in the shades of subtlety
shattering your concept of
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Today has been a...day.
One of those that have the goods and the bads with no real definitive state when it's over because you are left with an undefinable feel about the general status of the day.
Ouch--I really live in the Facebook era don't I?
As if any day worth its minutes could be fiddled down to a status, a one-liner report, an attention-grabbing headliner.
If this day were a status it would read:
The day that was...
And the under story, the follow-through, the if-you-care-to-know-more would follow as:
...a new beginning for a friendship interrupted by the frailty and fallibility of the human condition.
...a heartache for a mother longing to bridge the gap between herself and her daughter, feeling her way blindly and misstepping more than right stepping deeper into a divide that swallows her courage to just drop to her knees, hands to her heart.
...a joyous reunion between mother and son, his smile one of sincerity and love, that begs for my presence and lightens my heart.
...a lesson in humility.
...a lesson in letting go in order to let in.
...a lesson in trusting myself.
...nothing out of the ordinary.
...probably not valued in the way it deserved.
There is SO much follow-up for the above but I think they speak nicely on their own behalf, in their own puzzling brevity--why bother?
The one I will speak to is the one that plays loudest in my mind--my daughter.
I am so fearful of losing her, emotionally, and this fear is intense--this fear sits on my chest and labors my breath, plaguing my mind and knotting my thoughts.
More than the physical practice of asana or the dumbfounding practice of meditation, this child--excuse me, this young woman, is going to burn away my ego, leaving me with nothing as a front. Nothing.
I will be left to stand before her and the world as only a pulsing, bleeding heart, raw and exposed, open to all the pain in the world, vulnerable as only a mother can be with her child.
This is where I usually blame myself for what I did and didn't do along the way. The good thing is, I don't get too far into blame because I know at this point in my life how counterproductive it is...a useless enterprise really as my thoughts and energy should be going to her and our relationship and how I make myself available to her, how I present myself to her and how much room I allow for her to be who she is--am I creating space for her becoming?
She can have my ego...if I can just get inside her heart.
Friday, September 18, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I'm just trying to encapsulate them into writing--it is my writing that anchors me and enables me to make sense of and process my path.
For now, a quote:
There are many things to be grateful "for" but, as I ripen with the seasons of life, the many reasons blend into a sacred mystery. And, most deeply, I realize that living gratefully is its own blessing--Michael Mahoney
May you live from a place of gratitude.
Love to you on this day...
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
This divide of our lives was not from a lack of love mind you. No, this was more a lack of interest in exploring what remains to be seen with the other.
Out of respect for my ex, I will not unpack the details that pertain to our separation...they matter less than the overall point.
I have stepped out of a comfort zone.
I have stepped up to another way of life without having to know first how that life will unfold.
I am invoking trust from the depth of my being that I will be left standing in the wake of so much change.
Monday, September 14, 2009
A co-worker referred me to Pink's performance because I SO don't follow this kind of stuff BUT, I do LOVE Pink AND I take pleasure in all things beautiful and inspiring, thus the relevance to yoga.
Check out this Pink Link.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
Friday, September 11, 2009
I will be exploring this further in another post.
Just wanted to plant the seed...
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
I am coming to terms with this.
I had someone 'pass' through my life and since their passing, I have had a fair amount of clinging to the experience of our time together.
I believe I mistook the experience and the impact for something more, well, for something else.
When people come into our life, they bring to us a new understanding, a new way of looking at things, so a new perspective, a new level of awareness or a key to unlock the door of some possibility.
This person, in conjunction with an inevitable, impending change-a-brewin' inside of me, unleashed a hunger for a life that I wanted and just needed a nudge toward.
I have been 'stuck' on memories and recollections of this person, at times a constant feed and at other times, a mental deposit here and there. The 'stuckness' stems from the lack of resolution in our relationship and feelings that I have harbored--unfairness abounded on both sides and I am NOT a fan of leaving things undone.
More than harbored feelings, because of the resiliency of the 'feed', I am beginning to look deeper for what I learned, for the impact.
My conclusion thus far is this--for me, I want change and I mean BIG change. I started working full-time November of last year for the first time in my life. Until then, I had always been financially dependent on someone else at any given point in my life. Not anymore. I don't make enough to live luxuriously but I make enough to get by on my own and I don't ever want to go back. I am empowered financially.
I have homeschooled my children from birth and this has been an amazing, life-changing experience but with working full-time now and needing (and not being afraid to ask for) more time for my own growth and evolution, I am preparing to transition them from our private education to public education.
Furthermore, I have been giving serious consideration to returning to graduate school (again) and actually completing the program I start. Psychology seems to be an ideal compliment to the yogic path and there is a graduate program near me. This plan is still under construction.
There are so many more changes that I contemplate daily but suffice it to say I am on the move...and the impetus was a fleeting connection to someone else and the impact of our interplay.
I was thinking today as I was shuttling my children around town--drop-off my daughter for violin, then drop-off my son to acting, then pick-up my daughter from violin, then pick-up my son from acting--I'm typically just teetering on the edge of sanity.
I mean, really, if you could see the thoughts reeling through my mind and the course they take over an 18 hour period, on most days, I'm certifiable.
I take some sort of comfort in that, don't ask me to explain, I'm not sure I could--it's my constant and I'll take security however it comes. And, while I should be ashamed of it given my yogic path, I'm surprisingly, not.
I embrace it--it's why I chose my blog name. A word that summarizes the physical practice and the state of mind I work from.
I am twisted.
I succumb to rage.
When I drink red wine, I occasionally drink well past the happy place. Not to the drunken-sludge-making-a-scene-on-the-street-corner limit but well past happy.
I veg in front of the TV from time to time--guilty pleasure.
I peak at the headlines on trashy magazines.
I cuss like a drunken' misfit or...Kathy Griffin (love her!)
When someone shares good news, I have been known to have tinges of 'why not me'?
I also seek solace and peace in my mind, amid the craziness and the murky waters, and I actually find it from time to time through diligence and desire.
I feel deeply and often twist myself inside and out over an emotion but you won't find hate in this heart...I love with intensity and am led by my compassion. Life means something to me as do the people I share this planet and lifetime with.
I love with a devotion that even time or distance cannot dissolve--when you've made your way into my heart, you're a keeper.
So twisted--so very, very twisted.
So beautifully twisted.
Monday, September 7, 2009
Sunday, September 6, 2009
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Call Me by My True Names
Do not say that I'll depart tomorrow
because even today I still arrive.
Look deeply: I arrive in every second
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.
I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
in order to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and
death of all that are alive.
I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,
and I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time
to eat the mayfly.
I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond,
and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence,
feeds itself on the frog.
I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons
I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea
and I am the pirate,
my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.
I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my
and I am the man who has to pay his "debt of blood" to, my
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.
My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all
walks of life.
My pain if like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.
Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.
Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.
Thich Nhat Hanh
This morning, I decided to take a walk at my favorite little park on the river after a brief spinal series to charge my energy channel.
A bus was sitting at the corner bus stop and just as I was about to cross the street to the park, a man in a uniform walked up with his breakfast in one hand and his coffee in the other. He offered a most pleasant and honest smile set upon a welcoming face with gentle eyes.
"Good morning ma'am, are you riding the bus this morning?" His uniform revealed that he was the driver.
"No, I'm just waiting to cross to the park, thanks."
"Okay then, you have a wonderful day."
"Thank you, you too," I offered back.
And just as I was taking my step, he said, "I love your hair, it reminds me of..." and he pulled open his phone to show the background picture of him and a beautiful woman with short hair, "...Anita Baker," he finished.
He had met her in Detroit and I told him how cool I thought that was, and it was the truth~~I might like to have my picture taken with a yoga instructor that I admire or the Dalai Lama, even Richard Gere, and put it on my phone.
He extended himself to speak to me and more than that, he ventured for conversation. Through his actions and sincerity, he had already made my day by setting such a tone.
As I was walking away, still crossing to the park, I felt emotions well up inside of me and briefly had a knot in my throat prompted from his kindness and courage to extend himself to others. It was touching yet unfamiliar to have someone so gracefully step across the boundary that strangers so often construct between themselves and others.
I continued thinking about my driver as I made my rounds through the park, the sky waking up with color. I really wanted to be on that bus because he is surely changing the world, one passenger at a time.
Not so little indeed...