Thursday, December 27, 2012

Present in the Next Moment




One thing I don't love about winter and being cold is that I find it harder not to rush and to stay present. It has come to my attention that although I like to think that I am present each moment, in fact, I am often anticipating the next moment. It's the in-between that I have trouble with: unloading the car, waiting in line, holding for the next available operator. These moments, although they might be less satisfying than moments when I'm inside and warm or talking to the operator, are still moments that I want to be present for. It is my intention to focus my attention more in the in between.

One of my teachers taught me about a rhythm of walking meditation: "Step, sight, sound, sense." In the in-between, even though I may prefer to space out and scroll through facebook on my phone, I will try to administer the rhythm. I will look at what needs to be addressed, and if there's nothing for me to do but wait, I will enjoy the colors and shapes of the things in my surroundings. I will feel my feet underneath me, enjoy the sounds around me and tune into the physical sensations I am experiencing.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012




"Each of us is responsible for our own inner manger."-Carl Jung

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Stand Still



No matter what happens tomorrow, the Winter Solstice every year is a particularly powerful day to let go, be present and prepare. Because it marks the change of season that bridges us from this year to the next, one of my teachers says, "The Winter Solstice on December 21 is an ideal time for prayers and intention setting for the coming year." The word "solstice" comes from two Latin roots: "sol," means "sun" and "sistere," means "to stand still." From the earth, it appears as though the sun comes to a stop before reversing directions. There are so many answers in stillness. Find out what you want to release and let it go and allow the additional light on the 22nd shine on your hopes.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Can I Get a Witness?



Last week this weird thing happened when I heard an ad on the radio for career opportunities...at the radio. Remembering that someday I want to be a radio DJ, I sent in my resume and was offered a first interview and then a second. It felt funny though because the job I was applying for wasn't for a DJ. I struggled with my actions: was I doing what I was doing to get my foot in the door or out of some kind of fear? I spoke with my teacher about it and she felt it was very natural for me to be interested in radio as a medium. She reminded me that I love words and that communicating is a skill of mine.

She then blew my mind when she reminded me of one time, years ago, when I asked her if she was ever going to write a book. She told me that words aren't her thing, so book writing wasn't in her future. The story goes, after she said that, I asked her to tell me if she ever wanted a ghost writer and she told me to go ahead and write everything I wanted to, that she didn't even want "credit." Years later, completely forgetting that conversation, here I am, every Tuesday and Thursday, writing about the things I learn, and I've learned so much from her.

I love it in songs and in church, when people say or sing "Can I get a witness?" Yesterday I went in for my second interview at the radio station and told them I wasn't their girl. A marketing career, although it might be fun, would not leave enough time for me to do what I really believe in. Now more than ever, I believe in stating my dreams out loud to people I trust. Sometimes too afraid of failure or disappointment, we can forget our dreams. I am grateful to all of my witnesses for helping me remember.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Holy Coyote



Back when I was a teenager, I learned how to drive and did so for about a year before moving out east, where I relied on public transportation for 12 years. For a little over a year now, driving has been apart of my life again, and sometimes, I get a little nervous. The quickest route down to the big city is beautiful and I'm also not totally psyched to drive it in the ice or snow.

The other day when I was scheduled to be in Santa for a 9 am class, I took the long way. The long way is only about 10 or 15 minutes longer, but feels crazy-move-totally-way-out-of-the-way. Confession: I took it even though there wasn't ANY ice or snow.

And now I know why! A coyote, in the frosty dawn, ran across the road right in front of me. OH BOY did I need to hear what coyotes are for: "(Coyotes) remind us not to become too serious and remind us that anything is possible. Are you or those around you being too serious? Have you forgotten that play time is essential to health? Are you complicating what is really simple in some area of your life? In the tarot deck (the coyote) is The Fool card. Its energies are simplicity and trust" (Andrews, 1993, 261). You are totally right, coyote, I have been taking pretty much everything too seriously, which, actually, feels totally out of step with this time of year. Game on.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pretty Good Dancer




If you had been looking for me last night, you would have found me on the dance floor in a historic round barn on the grounds of the beautiful Ojo Caliente Hot Springs---way past my bedtime. The band was so smart a playing danceable covers that around 9:30 pm, when I was feeling tired, I couldn't help but keep grooving.

I'm a pretty good dancer, but last night around 10 pm, I noticed myself starting to feel rather unfocused and my moves seriously started to suffer. Soon I realized that in my sleepy state I had started to focus too much on the way other people were dancing. Seriously needing to turn the beat around, I zoned back in on the music and got back on the boogie.

It's not like all of a sudden I was an island onto myself, we were all still hustlin' together. But we were also all doing our own thing. Kinda like when we "om" together at the beginning or the end of yoga class. In omming, it's important to hear your voice just as much as you hear everybody else's; to achieve that balance you give voice and listen evenly and at the same time.

Thursday, December 6, 2012






"Thank you for our hearts." -Native American Prayer to the Creator

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Long Story Short



So this funny thing happened last week when I decided I wanted to re-watch the movie Blue Valentine and out of the blue valentine, one of my best friends Braden texted me to say he was watching Blue Valentine. Braden and I have known each other for many years; we've clocked a lot of hours talking about movies but I'm not sure we have ever talked about Blue Valentine before. Braden is excellent about knowing his friends' tastes and has a special brand of keeping in touch that involves telling his friends about something he saw or read that he thinks they would like.

I didn't know how long this story could be so long story short, I re-watched the movie with a friend of mine who hadn't seen it before, and they REALLY DIDN'T LIKE IT. So, I spent some quality time trying to figure out why I like it....surely it's not just because it's so sad. Turns out I like it for a couple of reasons. The biggest one is that in the movie, the imbalance in the relationship is caused by the husband hinging more of his identity on the relationship than the wife. The wife has a career that feeds her; whereas, it's being a husband to his wife that feeds him.

In art and life, I feel like I see a lot more of the-other-way-around. There's a bunch research these days proving that men are better off in marriage than women. I am not a scholar on the subject, but I am a woman and can speak for myself. I feel like I have a lot to give, and I have found a lot of suffering in my intimate relationships when I give a lot---but want something in return. I challenge all of us, men and women, to notice each time we have the impulse to give--is it pure? Are we giving because we want something in return, even if it's just a "thank you," or are we giving because we want the receiver to have what we have to give?

Yogi Bhajan said something like "if you have any relationships in your life with a purpose other than compassion, you will find pain in those relationships." True that.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

School for Different Reasons


retrieved from:  <a href="http://www.roadtrafficsigns.com/" target="_blank"> RoadTrafficSigns.com</a>

Recently after re-reading the book Dynamic Health, I was reminded of the negative physiological effects judgment can have on the person who is doing the judging. It's often the case that the object of the judgment doesn't even experience negative effects at all---and if they do, it's because they are judging themselves.

"Judgment of others is a mental exercise in asserting that you are smarter, more astute, and better equipped to handle someone else's situation than they are. And you may be--but it's their lesson. Keep your mental nose out of it" (Morter 1997, 212).

The other day I was talking to a PARTICULARLY astute client of mine about taking classes at the local university. She was saying something about being frustrated with her peer group at first for not bringing much stimulation to class discussions. "But who am I to judge?" she summarized. "Everybody's in school for different reasons."


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Oh My God, I get It!



Years ago my teacher Jen told me that if I take very good care of myself, God will take care of the rest. For some reason I took her word for it and have been living that way ever since.

A few weeks ago, I was talking about this way of living with one of my clients and he said, "Yes, all of the great teachers say to work ten times harder on yourself than you do on anything else and everything else will take care of itself."

"Yeah," I thought. "I dig that, too."

Then all of a sudden I got it. If we really GO FOR IT self-care wise, we are living gratitude. Each action we take to care for ourselves says a big THANK YOU to whatever creator created us.

Everything else taking care of itself from there is the creator's way of saying, "You're welcome."

Thursday, November 22, 2012

What Condition My Condition Was In




I like practicing gratitude every day and I don't particularly like the holiday "Thanksgiving." It seems like a very nice idea, but every year I struggle with how the nice idea gets carried out. This year was no exception.

I committed to plans with friends and food, as I often do. And when today arrived, I didn't feel like it, like I often don't. But I knew it'd be fun if I pressed on and followed through with my commitments. It was a close call when I got home from running errands, to prepare a food dish,  to leave for the party, but I did make time to sit and meditate. As soon as I sat down I realized how deeply sad I felt. I am a big believer in feeling how you feel and I was grateful for taking the time to figure out just how I felt. Believe it or not, what did make me feel better was to allow myself to feel sad, to not cover up that I had been crying, and go to the party.  I had a good time, but I believe holidays, just like anything, don't have to be pleasant. Often it's the fighting to make them so that makes them just the opposite.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Rigid in My Yoga



Since writing about rigid thinking, I've been noticing it more in myself. The other day, I got a "comment" from a student who took one of my classes saying they weren't able to relax because I didn't demonstrate. The truth is: I do demonstrate, sometimes,  but I do my best not to. Turns out I have a VERY STRONG opinion that you are not doing yoga if you are watching me do yoga and trying to do what I do.

I was taught to teach without demonstrating. My young yoga-teacher-in-training-mind was told very explicitly that there is no way a teacher can tell if their students are doing the postures safely and correctly while also doing yoga. I have been teaching this way for years without much discussion. It is only since I moved to New Mexico that this way I do things has come under scrutiny. The thing is, other teachers whose classes I take around here demonstrate a little, maybe a little bit more than me, but certainly not the whole class. The question that begs to be asked is why all the hullabaloo around my class? Do the other teachers have hullabaloo too? I don't think they do. The fuss is about me because I have a charge around the subject. I don't WANT to demonstrate, if you're in my class, I don't want you to look at me. Yoga in Sanskrit is defined as union, the joining together, of: your body and your breath, your mind and your body, yourself with your Self with a capital S. Don't look at me! This is between you and you! I'm yelling! And this here yelling is what we at tipsandtricks call a charge.

I have no choice but to laugh at my self with a lower-case s. Getting rigid in my thinking about yoga is pretty funny. And now that I'm coming to understand how hard rigid thinking can be on one's health, I can work on letting it go.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Doughnuts in my Mind



Girlfriend over here has been a bit of a wreck. I spilled water on my computer, lost an envelope on the way to the post office, and my car has been making a funny noise. Good news though: everybody is being really freaking nice to me, which is makes the whole being-a-mess thing easier. The folks at the computer shop were super kind about my mistake and helped me make decisions and move forward. My friends have been lovely, my boyfriend let me use his computer lots of times and the lady who's hosting my workshop in December said she'd make the flyer for me. All of the guys at the auto shops I've been to have been sweet and helpful even though it's hard to say if anything's not working.

Basically I want to blow up my spot and tell everyone how much I love them and bring them all doughnuts. Not all acquaintances and strangers I come across really get the whole me-loving-them thing. And maybe it's a little big to bring all of the employees at AutoZone treats when just one guy said, "I don't know Miss, it might be your battery." So I try and stay cool and just bring people doughnuts in my mind. Sometimes I'm more general about it and just, you know, send them love. Yesterday, I couldn't be cool anymore and brought doughnuts to the computer shop people in real life.

More good news: they didn't mind at all.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Be Impeccable with Your Everything

I was talking to my super cool friend Luke yesterday about being impeccable. I was telling him the story of how I spilled water on my laptop. Last weekend, even though Saturday's are usually my day off, I had a client in the morning who was coming back again the next day in the afternoon. Because it was the weekend, and I teach all day Sundays, I didn't re-set my house to being a house. I put my massage table away, but I did not put my coffee table back to its usual spot, thinking to myself, "Heck, I never use it for coffee, anyways."

Because the table was not in place that afternoon, as I listened to a lecture on my computer, my computer sat on the ground--where it never usually sits. Wouldn't you know it? The one time my computer sat on the ground is the one time my water bottle's cap isn't all the way fastened, which is the one time I'm feeling particularly tired and clumsy without a day off, and is the one time I have a $1200 accident. Even though I prefer not to use the word "should," I SHOULD'VE known -- because I can't get away with anything.

And by anything I mean I can't get away with not doing everything impeccably all the freaking time. The one time I don't turn my heat down while spending the night at my boyfriend's is the one time my landlord needs to come inside to look for a leak; the one time I accidentally run a stop sign is the one time I get a ticket; the one time I break the new hardcore-movie-theater-rules, is the one time there's a movie theater cop who catches me and confiscates that same stinking water bottle.

Despite having to do everything all the way all the time, I am grateful to be me. I hope that what I think of as "me" is in a kind of constant evolution towards being a more aware, more patient, and more giving person. And as Lous Brandeis says, "There are no shortcuts in evolution."

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Sides of History


The other day I was talking to someone a generation or two older than me. He said he was "violently opposed to gay marriage."

The book I'm reading right now talks about chaos as a good thing: "In a healthy body, chaotic information is available to every DNA molecule. Chaotic completeness is the raw material of development and life. When chaos diminishes, old age begins. When people retire, the amount of chaos in their lives is dramatically reduced. Of course, that's what most "working people" look for--a little less chaos, stress and general mayhem. But with retirement, many people become even more set in their ways than they were before. They "know" how things should be and they have a tendency to become quite negative when the world around them is different from the way they think it should be. As we become older in thought, we have a tendency to become "set in our ways." We have a firm "mind set." Which means our thinking is not as flexible as it once was. When our thinking becomes "rigid," we are not as open to new ideas and information. And our field follows suit. Workers face stimulating energy enhancing situations that exposes their minds to new thoughts and their fields to new quanta of chaos for the DNA to process and make coherent...Chaotic energy can be viewed as "creative energy"or "complete energy" or "total energy" or "collective energy."

I told my best friend about the conversation I had with the gentleman "violently opposed to gay marriage." She said at this point, it's just a matter of "which side of history do you want to be on?" I agreed. And I'm glad I'm on the same side as "collective energy."

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Your Field

Puke-fest 2012: on Saturday, I spilled water on my laptop. I moved quickly to get it off using gravity; I turned it off and dried it for 24 hours and then when I turned it back on, the trackpad worked but not the keyboard. I was relieved when I walked into the local computer shop first thing on Monday and turned it over.

Those 24 hours when it was turned off and I didn't know if it was going to work or not were rough. I tried my best not to worry and keep it positive. Turns out it's better for all of me when I keep it positive:

"Your conscious thoughts, attitudes, and choices determine the type of energy that you project into your field*. The more positive, the better. For every experience you have in life, no matter how bad the experience is to you, recognize the lesson being "taught," and find some element of good in the experience. Realize that every experience--especially a negative experience that makes you "feel bad"---is a lesson for you to recognize and learn from. Identify something good in the experience. Finding the good may not make the experience any less painful; however, finding the good injects at least a modicum of positive energy into the situation."--Dynamic Health

*"Your personal field is your direct link with the universe and all of the of the information in it. Your field, like your body, isn't isolated and it isn't static. Both body and field are dynamic. Ever active. Your field, like your body, is effected by its internal and external environments. Your field is ever-present and ever-changing. It can be vibrant, it can be subdued. We might say that your field can be "healthy" or it can be "sick." And the health of your field determines the health of your visible body....(T)he biggest influence on your field-health is your thoughts and feelings. Your thoughts and feeling affect your field, your field effects your health."

I'm grateful for less time in front of a screen, for my best friend who has spilled water on her laptop many times before, and my boyfriend for letting me use his computer for these tipsandtricks. Nothing but white girl problems up-in-here and gratitude, gratitude, gratitude.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Intention Appropriation



You guys, I teach yoga in a yurt. Every Sunday, it is part of yoga class policy to ask each student to write down an intention they have for class, their day, their year or their life on a piece of paper. I hand out the pieces of paper which are made out of seeds. After class, the students pin their intentions up on the Intention Tree. From there, the seed papers are gathered in a box and eventually planted in the Intention Garden, just east of the yurt. Some students fold their intentions up before pinning them to the Tree, while other students pin theirs up boldly, the words of their longing in full view, should anyone care to see.

I couldn't help but notice one lately that said: "Discipline: Quality not Quantity." DAMN. That's GOOD. This is something I have been working on for a while now but without being able to articulate it so succinctly. Occasionally in the past, I have felt bad for things that I knew, really, there was no need to feel bad about---like practicing yoga at home rather than going to class, skipping my Morning Pages, or not volunteering more at CAV, like I told myself I would. I even spoke to my teacher about these feelings, she said it sounded like my perfectionism was rearing its ugly head. She reminded me that everything I do is between me and God, there isn't some magic checklist somewhere and I'm certainly not getting graded on this. Big time relief.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My God Jar



I have a game on my phone called Dalai Quotes. It's a fun game: you play by tapping a picture of His Holiness and then you win one of his quotes. Today's prize was: “If there is no solution to the problem then don't waste time worrying about it. If there is a solution to the problem then don't waste time worrying about it.”

Instead of worrying about things out of my control like my friends' safety after a storm, or whether or not my dog is ok all day at home alone, I pray. There's so many ways to pray, like imagining my friend or dog sheltered and peaceful. Sometimes I dedicate my physical yoga practice to a particular friends' health or happiness. If the worry feels too strong to combat these simple pleas, I will write down what I want on a small piece of paper, ("I want so-and-so to get better) a please and thank you, and place that paper in my God Jar. This small act always helps me feel better, it reminds me that there are certain things I can't fix, but I can focus my energy on the positive, which feels good for my friends, my dog and me.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Blow Up Your Spot



I've been having good talks with good folks lately about some of my fav subjects like not being cool and repressing emotions. When these subjects come up, I am reminded of one of the best nights of my life. It was the night I clumsily told someone I was in love with him. I knew he loved me too, and I also knew there was no way in heck he was going to say, "I love you" back. Gosh I was nervous, and I didn't know why until I played it like a totally-uncool-fool and blew up my spot. Up until that night, my heart had been heavy. I had been taking flower essences because I felt vulnerable, and I judged myself constantly for being so in love.

When I finally said, "I love you," the weight flew away. I felt the deep power of my open heart, and I learned first hand about one of the most important yogas: karma yoga. Karma yoga teaches us to give only for the sake of giving. To this day, I want to be cool, but I'm not; I have feelings that feel deep-deep-deep every ding-dong-day.

I've also tried to recover from addictions while I pretending not to have them. These "recoveries" were slow and hard. Incidentally, I've watched people with far worse addictions than my own get over theirs good and fast. I believe these folks were able to do this because they were upfront with themselves and the world about their inclinations. Sometimes it takes being a hot-mess to get a good look. Feelings might be clumsy, propensities can run deep, and judgments can hurt hard. But if you want to learn and grow, say how you feel and be honest with yourself about where you are. From being right here right now, you can do what my boyfriend calls, "the next right thing" and then do the next right thing after that. If you're not being honest with yourself and those around you about where you are, how will you know where to go? Some folks say "you gotta feel it to heal it." I say, go ahead, blow up your spot.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Grace

"Thank you for giving us everything we need so we can take care of everything we love." -Native American Prayer to the Earth

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Kinds of Letting Go




Part of my meditation practice is to notice my physical body and relax all of the parts of it I'm not actively using. I relax my teeth, the soles of my feet, my belly, and other stuff too. I never get bored of noticing the unnecessary muscle "recruiting" I'm doing and softening it. I like this work because it is a tangible way of letting go---a process that can feel ethereal and elusive.

One day last week during my meditation, I noticed unnecessary physical tension and was able to let go of it and into deeper and more satisfying breaths. As the day progressed, various things happened that were not in line with my expectations. At first I felt hurt, then pissed, then these two emotions melted into one of my regulars: sadness.

On this particular day I had more time than usual to sit with the sadness I was experiencing. I took it out onto the porch and sat with it as I felt soft wind on my skin and saw yellow leaves with my eyes. It occurred to me that I was holding on to the sadness much like I was holding on to my belly earlier that day in meditation---and what if I just let it go? Breathing in and out, I cried and practiced The Five Steps of Forgiveness, and then I practiced The Five Steps of Forgiveness again. Lightened, I felt more open to the beauty of the breeze, the leaves and the harmony of the two together. By feeling more present in the moment I saw right now wasn't just not-so-bad, it was pretty-freaking-fantastic. Holding on to my story of being disappointed and sad, (much like keeping my jaw tight keeps me from the flow of my breath) keeps me from the flow of the moment. Kinda like after holding your breath in for a long time and finally letting it go feels good, letting go of physical and emotional tension can feel good too.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Wild Horses



I just finished reading Marianne Faithfull's autobiography Faithfull. Spoiler alert: She used to date Mick Jagger. According to her book, it was when they were struggling to break up that he wrote the song "Wild Horses." I've always liked the tune and after reading about its genesis, I've been listening to it a lot. Last Thursday, I played it in yoga class. That night at dinner, my boyfriend and his dad, without any prompting, told me a story of one time when they went to a wild horse auction.

According to Animal Speak, "Horses are symbols of freedom--oftentimes without proper restraints. Horse brings with it new journeys. It will teach you to ride into new directions to awaken and discover your own freedom and power."

For me, freedom can feel tricky. My schedule is in transition right now and there are certain days that feel too free and others that feel too occupied. Some days, I don't have to set the alarm, and on other days, the alarm goes off at 5 am. I come back often to Manorma's quote, "It takes discipline to be a free spirit." I feel better and get more done when most (certainly not all) of my days are pretty packed. On my ideal "work day", my commitments are 50% income-producing activities and 25% self-care activities and 25% everything else. I feel it's these "proper restraints" of 75% work and taking care of myself that gives me the freedom to feel like I can relax. As Mick says, "I have my freedom but I don't have much time."

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Speaker





There are many yogic texts that talk at length about how the more yoga asana one does, the more clean and clear one's throat chakra becomes. I've talked to lots of my students and mentees over the years about how the more we align our breath body to our physical body in yoga class, the harder it gets to NOT align to our truth to ourselves in our lives outside of class. This can manifest any many different ways: we might feel more obliged to tell the truth, even when it's difficult, food we used to eat may suddenly not taste good anymore, and we may not be able to last as long in a relationship that no longer serves us.

I am a recovering exaggerator. Which I both love and hate. I feel like my stories aren't as good anymore without my over-the-top statements about things that are funnier when there's more of them like, habits or... lemmings.

The other day, on the phone, one of my best friends asked me if I miss New York. I came out with a bold "No."  Looking back at my bold no, I think it was out of laziness, but also, exaggeration. Exaggerating about myself in that context, helps me to get over something that I don't have to get over. And I don't miss living in New York. But I DO miss my friends *so much*. A few weeks ago, I was on a gorgeous hillside in Italy at an afternoon wine tasting, weeping about how much I miss my friends.

I went to a lecture on the grief process last night and the speaker talked about one of the last steps of grief which is transformation. He said transformation happens when in the midst of physical pain, we can remember the metaphysical: when we can look at what we're going through from our soul's perspective and integrate it into who we are/what we can become. He kept calling it "the scar of wisdom." Or as somebody said on Facebook once, "Your soul is rooting for you."

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Beginning Again



"She loved the beginning-again look of a town in the morning, the sidewalks sluiced down, the vegetables fresh and shining, the storekeepers in clean shirts. The feeling that nothing that had been spilled or broken or hurt or wrong the day before need be carried over into the new day." ---Jessamyn West "The Lesson"

Thursday, October 4, 2012

The Lines The Vacuum Cleaner Made



As a child, I had a difficult relationship with the vacuum cleaner. I was terrified of its big loud noise and ability to suck anything in its path up and into its backpack. But, I also remember in its wake and after the noise was over, the lovely lines it left on the carpet. I used to try and save those lines for as long as I could in any given room, although invariably steps upon them would make them disappear.

During my current transition into being a BEST practitioner, I am giving treatments at my house. My house is, thank goodness, small and very sweet. People like coming here; they say they feel love, and it smells good. I also still live in my house. Most nights I still make a dinner in it. Most mornings, I still make a breakfast in it. I sleep in the bed...you get the idea. Usually these days you'll find me cleaning. I do my best to make sure my house feels super clean for each client who walks in, even antiseptic. I also like my deck to feel clean, as it's the first part of my space each visitor encounters. Almost everyday, I sweep leaves off the deck and rub rainwater off of the furniture. The task feels Sisyphean to say the least as the leaves are just beginning to let loose and fall all over it. But I do it everyday anyway, and I remember something one of my teachers said once about goals. Easily we think of goals as an end result, those last few minutes when the task is finished or the achievement completed. It's nice to remember as we work towards goals, that every moment we've spent on any given goal: realizing, practicing, studying is with us at the goal's completion.

My task will never be complete. Leaves will fall on my deck as soon as I put my broom away, winter will come and I will get out a shovel. But each moment I spend clearing and cleaning today will make my moments in the winter easier. Some folks say "practice makes perfect," other folks say, "practice make practice."

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Jet Lag City




Once, I knew a full-blown-adult-lady who was dating a man much older than she. You know, like, older than her parents. And although they were a happy couple, she didn't want anyone to know. As for those of us who figured it out, she didn't want us to talk about it. There's a word for this in BEST: segmented. The term segmented applies to the many ways our being can react and survive in light of  trauma, stress, or even, good old fashioned judgement. The gal in my story was doing one thing but presenting something else. For certain sensitive folks, this can feel very distressing. Other folks might not feel it but a physical symptom could very likely crop up.

I had some groovy friends back in New York who explained that jet lag is a symptom of our bodies traveling faster than our souls. I've been in the throws of jet lag fairly consistently for the past few weeks and my favorite symptom has been dreaming of the other place. When I first got to Rome, I my dreams were still taking place in Taos and now that I'm back in Taos, lots of my dreams have been in Rome.

Speaking of New York, I remember when I lived there I didn't really GET all the fuss about eating local. Because I never saw the farms, the whole idea was kinda lost on me. In my search to cure myself of jet lag, I have discovered it helps to eat root vegetables. I get it! I'm not grounded, so get something in me that is. Because I'm super competitive, I thought could do one better and eat stuff from the ground right here. Lucky duck me, I have friends with gardens who are pulling up kale, raspberries and carrots right now. Mostly lately, I've only been eating food that came out of the ground nearby and recently. It feels like medicine drawing me back, and I'm getting closer: last night I dreamt I was in a boat in the ocean and on my way.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

"Between birth and death, it's just like this." -Zen Saying

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Airport Hotels Altar #1


If you're anything like me and traveling makes you spacey, if you tend to snack instead of meal or make believe instead of real life: I promise there is great grounding in offering yourself to the simplicity of your breath.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I was befuddled a couple of months ago when I had a visitor in from out of town who was so so sad when it was time to go home. 

This particular visitor lives life like a lot of people do: it's boring old working way too hard at work then going somewhere totally different from work during vacation, having the best time ever and getting all blue when it's time to come back to the boring old working too hard stuff.

I can speak honestly as someone who is actually on vacation in a beautiful place right now: I am  excited to go home. Don't get me wrong, I'm having a great time, I am SO grateful to be here---except for a little jet-lag everything is perfetto, magnifico, ciao bella, va bene. I am also so grateful to have constructed a regular old everyday life that I love in a beautiful place, just as beautiful as these great places I've been. That one blonde guy with the airline and the record company, Richard Branson says it well, "I don't think of work as work and play as play, it's all living."




Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Dear Everyone

who is afraid of making a 'wrong' decision, who might regret, or who has a general lament of the way things turned out or the way things might come to be,

Please please please, save your money, save it for as long as it takes, and buy yourself a ticket to Rome.

In Rome, there is no getting lost. There is no making a wrong turn. Everywhere you look, every turn you make, you will see one of the most beautiful things you have ever seen. You can leave it at that or if you want answers, you can look up what you're looking at in your guidebook. You'll find out that what you're looking at is the most ancient, perfectly constructed ones of those that has ever existed. Then you'll laugh at yourself for thinking you had to get to the train station.



Love,
Ashleigh

Thursday, September 13, 2012

"No Snowflake

 ever falls in the wrong place." -Zen Saying



Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ferris Bueller's Day Off Wisdom




When I first started to see my teacher Jen, I was at the end of a long relationship with a boyfriend who I still loved very much. I went into her office one day and was saying stuff like, "I think he might think this," and "What if he thinks this?"

When I finished my long list of what ifs and he mights, she asked me what I thought.

As Charlie Sheen's character puts it, "What do you care if your brother ditches school?" And like it or not, most of the time, "Your problem is you."

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Agendas




Today while I was down in the big city waiting in line for a coffee, a gentleman kinda snuck up behind me and whispered "Are you impatient?" Surprised, I stepped a little forward and a way, "No I don't think so," I said. After I got my coffee and was swirling it around with some sweetener at the bar, he came back up to me to say, "I just can't believe how long they take and this coffee shop. Sometimes, there's a line out the door." "Yeah," I said not really agreeing, "I guess ya kinda have to give up your agenda when you make the choice to get coffee at a shop instead of making it at home." He laughed and asked me where I got my glasses, what kind of prescription I had and then started to tell me about some glasses he had, not on him, but probably in the car or at home.

I was game for about four minutes and then I started to think about how to end our little chat. Suddenly, there was a tiny pause and I said, "Well, I've got to be getting to work now." "I have one more thing to say," he started, "My goodness," I thought.

Yep. Little Miss 'You Kinda Have to Give Up Your Agenda...' was caught red-handed. Impatient and with an agenda.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Talent


I often say "I like it when people don't like my class." I believe if someone doesn't like my class, they're not meant to take it, and I wish them the best in finding a class they do like. I've been subbing every Thursday at a studio in Santa Fe. My experience so far, is that the many students really dig it. On my way out last Thursday, I overheard a guy who had taken my class ask someone for a suggestion on a different class--he didn't like mine. You might not believe it but Little Miss I Like It When People Don't Like My Class over here got her feelings a tiny hurt. I noticed the way I was feeling and remembered my big old opinion on the matter and before I even had a chance to turn the beat around, there was someone calling my name from across the parking lot. It was this beautiful yoga teacher, Laurence, which rhymes with how French people say France. She had taken my class and came running out after me to say thank you and to tell me that I was the real deal. "The real deal" struck me as a particularly American idiom and I graciously thanked her. What a doll, and what great timing.

I had my doubts about being called the real deal but I decided to go with it, this French lady was so alluring and my teacher Jen had JUST mentioned I was getting a PhD in the truth. Yesterday, any and all imaginings I may have had about being the real deal were squashed when I met the real deal holyfield.

THIS lady who's class I took yesterday was INTO it: we ommed in almost every pose and then some more silently in our hearts, we spent 10 minutes massaging our abdomens with yoga blocks, and she kept reminding us to imagine our legs were made out of red-clay earth. She wasn't afraid of being herself and she wasn't afraid of sharing her spirituality. Even though I kinda giggled, I was with her. In honor of Labor Day, she asked us to be grateful for every person who helped us, in all of the things we do, for their talent. Car mechanics, grocery-store clerks, school bus drivers, the postlady and postman. I loved hearing the word talent--which can seem so precious--in this context. Merriam-Webster defines talent as "the natural endowments of a person, "something that everybody has. On the path to replacing the word "them" with "us," this was a great reminder.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tuesdays and Thursdays



This week is tipsandtricks' birthday week. I started tipsandtricks one year ago September 1st. I had gotten used to sharing personal experiences of mine and what I had learned from them every Tuesday and Thursday with my friends and students at this crazy place I used to teach. Around that time about a year ago, two of my dear friends started calling the encouragement I gave them "tips and tricks." That's when I decided to start writing a tipsandtrick online every Tuesday and Thursday. After that, my brilliant best friend pointed out the commonality of the Ts in tips and tricks and Tuesdays and Thursdays.

In the past year, I have skipped zero Tuesdays and 2 Thursdays. One Thursday was skipped because I was on a 14 mile hike in the Caribbean, and the other was skipped because I was on a silent meditation retreat where both writing and technology were forbidden.

Believe it or not, I haven't done tipsandtricks every Tuesday and Thursday for the past year JUST to be competitive with myself. I've done it to practice. Not every tipandtrick is good. Sometimes, all I have time to do is take a picture or put up a quote. But I do it anyway, because, someday, I want to be a good writer. And I believe in showing up. It hasn't been easy to practice in public or to get the dang thing written but I did it because I wanted to. A good friend of mine says: "Is is good? It is done." And dude, it feels good to get things done.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Speak only

when your words are more beautiful than silence." -Arabic Proverb


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

At Wounded Bee



As I was driving on the Hondo Seco Road this morning, I had the window rolled down about two inches. Suddenly, I felt something small, like a pebble, crash into the car, in through the gap of air, and hit my shoulder before falling in my lap. I kept my eyes on the road as I reached down to scoop it up with my right hand and throw it out the window. I looked down once I had it and was startled to find it was a wounded bee. I threw it out the window quickly, fearing it would sting me and my car would crash. That would blow.

Honestly, I think about bees pretty often. My boyfriend is a Beekeeper, and so is his best friend. My aunt thinks my boyfriend is the bees-knees because he keeps bees. The list goes on. But to have one blast in on me during a peaceful morning drive sent me straight to Animal Speak: "If a bee has shown up in your life, examine your own productivity. Are you taking the time to savor the honey of your endeavors or are you being a workaholic? Are you attempting to do too much? Are you taking time to enjoy the labors and activities you involve yourself in? The bee helps remind us that activities are more productive and sweeter if we take time to enjoy them."

I'm grateful for a silent meditation retreat I attended recently that helped me realize I like being busy. Continuing to work on becoming more present has helped everything: anxiety, digestion, communitcation, you name it; but to actually notice myself enjoying everything---because I do---is the next step.

Big thanks, bee.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

One Time On a Road Trip

I was standing on the corner in Winslow, Arizona with my best friend. We walked around and we got back into our car and we listened to The Eagles song "Take It Easy" over and over again. There's not much to see in Winslow, Arizona, so I don't recommend going out of your way, but there is some wonderful wisdom in that song:

"Take it easy
Take it easy
Don't let the sound of your own wheels
Drive you crazy

Lighten up while you still can
Don't even try to understand
Just find a place to make your stand
And take it easy...

We may lose and we may win
Though we will never be here again
...
And take it easy,"

I like the image of our "wheels turning" to describe our thinker thinkin' because the circle of the wheels reminds me of a volume knob. I'm trying to turn down the volume of the storylines, assumptions, worst-case-scenarios, and lists in my head. And take it easy.






Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Books I am Unable to Lend Out




I have a few books I am unable to lend out because I open them so often. Whenever I am in need of inspiration or a reminder to let go or trust, Women, Food and God, The Tao de Ching and Just Kids are my resources. I open up to a random page and there are answers to questions I didn't even know I had.

The other day I opened up to a chance page in Meditations from the Mat, and there was the exact suggestion I needed from Thich Nhat Hanh: "When washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes, which means that while washing the dishes one should be completely aware of the fact that one is washing the dishes. At first glance, that might seem silly: Why put so much stress on a simple thing? But that's the point. The fact that I am standing there washing these bowls is a wondrous reality. I'm being completely myself, following my breath, conscious of my presence, and conscious of my thoughts and actions. There is no way I can be tossed around mindlessly like a bottle slapped here and there in the waves."

I'm really very good at multitasking, maybe too good. At work, I've noticed I might try and return an email in the space of time it takes the printer to print something out, I can talk on speaker phone in the car on my drive back from Santa Fe and occasionally I'll paint my nails while I'm watching a movie. Ok great, good to know, I can multitask. Now I am interested in finding out if I can monotask. I've been practicing monotasking for a couple of days and I can tell you honestly: I am not bored on long drives, I do not need to think about anything but sleep when I lie down at night, and watching a movie without looking at Facebook in the middle is truly enjoyable.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dear Writers,

if you are interested in finding your best stories, funniest punch-lines and greatest titles: I suggest going on a silent meditation retreat for a week or more. At Vipassana retreats, you are not allowed to talk, write or read. Based on my experience and the experience of others, it is highly likely you will have your most excellent, cleverest, and profoundest ideas yet. Most likely, you will silently crack yourself up with your own brilliance over and over again. A good friend of mine on retreat, broke the rules, found a pen, and secretly wrote her genius musings all over her arm under a long sleeve shirt. Unfortunately, I'm punctilious to a fault and I didn't break any rules on my retreat. Now, I've got nothing. All of the brilliant plans that kept me so entertained and excited to go home and start writing---are gone.

Julia Cameron weaves a lot of informal meditation into her advice for artists. She talks about paying attention as an antidote to pain: "In times of pain, when the future is too terrifying to contemplate and the past to painful to remember, I have learned to pay attention to right now. The precise moment I was in was always the only safe place for me. Each moment, taken alone, was always bearable. In the exact now, we are all, always alright. Yesterday the marriage may have ended. Tomorrow the cat may die. The phone call from the lover, for all my waiting, may not ever come, but just at the moment, just now, that's all alright. I am breathing in and out. Realizing this, I begin to notice that each moment was not without its beauty."

For me, paying attention to each day has helped me get over the loss of all of the sparkling ideas I lost to the rhythm of my breath that silent week . The number 7 follows me everywhere, there's a hummingbird mistaking my wind chime for a flower, and the moon's light, every night changes what is visible and left invisible.

                                                                                       Love,
                                                                                       Ashleigh

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Dear Cary

You may have noticed from my last couple of posts, that I've been going through it. I'm turning the corner on it, but there was a rough bit there. I consider myself a recovering control freak. And sometimes, my perfectionism rears its ugly head. During bouts of neuroticism, I'm inclined towards over-processing, my internal chatter is often about something like sweeping the kitchen floor again and I get competitive with myself about going to yoga or sweating everyday.

At these times, it is important for me to spent more time sitting still with my breath, rather than partaking in constant talking and doing. It's also important for me to re-read these words from this guy:

"You think if you don't have a relationship, or you don't have a car, or don't have a job, that things will just fall apart. But they won't. Or, to be more accurate, things already have fallen apart.

   So relax.

   Start paying attention to what makes you feel good and secure, and do those things that make you feel good and secure. "

I realize this friendly reminder that things have already fallen apart may not comfort everyone and I respect that. For me though--this is music, relaxing music.



Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The 5 Steps of Forgiveness




Since conflict's not really my bag: if I have even a TINY disagreement and it doesn't have a resolution, my mind and time turn said tiny disagreement into a knock-down-drag-out-end-of-days scenario.

The other morning, I woke up pissed. I was pissed at one person because our tiny disagreement hadn't been resolved. It really didn't matter though, it felt more like I was pissed at the world. Pissed at my alarm clock, pissed at my coffee, pissed at driving and at going to the gym.

It has become so clear to me that when I'm angry, resentful, sad or disappointed in or at anyone, anything or any place it REALLY doesn't effect that person, place or thing---it affects me.

Morter HealthSystem, the kind folks who created the healing technique that I have been studying, have a system to let go of these feelings, which they call "The 5 Steps of Forgiveness."

Here's how it works, you sit down with yourself on your meditation cushion or in your favorite recliner and go through these steps:

Imagine the person(s), place, or thing that you WANT to forgive in front of you. Identify the feeling that you’re feeling.

I forgive myself for feeling __(the feeling)________.

I forgive you for any harm you may have caused me by ‘causing’ me to feel ____(the feeling)__________.

I give you absolute permission to forgive me for any harm I may have caused you by feeling ____(the feeling)_______.

Ask yourself, “What am I learning?” (See the good and be grateful) a. I am learning ________________.
b. I am grateful I am learning ________________.
c. I am grateful I am safe learning _____________.

5. Now imagine a chord, one end of it attached to you and the other end attached to the person(s), place, or thing in front of you. Imagine giant scissors coming and cutting the chord. See the chord disintegrating. Now while you imagine the person(s), place or thing slowly fading away, say: “I release you. I wish you well. God bless you. I love you.”

Or you can just say "I release you," if you're not into all of the God and love stuff. You may have to practice this over and over again with the same person and different feelings or the same feelings and different scenarios or the same person and the same feelings until one day, almost imperceptible, like a feather, you'll realize you're starting to let go. It may take once, it may take years, but slowly, with patience and if you want to, you can let go of these feelings.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Extra Cup of Coffee




Lately I've been having a hard time sleeping. This is totally weird for me because usually, sleeping's my main thing. On some of the mornings in the last couple days when it's time to "wake-up," but I've BEEN awake, I feel a vast injustice. My brain feels fractured and the routine is an extra cup of coffee and setting expectations low for the day. It's after that extra cup of coffee, or maybe the first one, when anxiety turns on and my mind goes into storyteller mode about what's wrong with me. Some of the stories are reasonable enough and others are downright scary.

I like the word we use in meditation: proliferate. According to dictionary.com it means: 1. to grow or produce by multiplication of parts, as in budding or cell division, or by procreation. 2. to increase in number or spread rapidly and often excessively. As in, the mind will come up with one maybe true thought like, "I have to remember to pay my credit card bill." And then a judgment will follow, "Money's tight this month." And then another and another...until it's a fear of something that might happen in six years, "I'll have to sell the business and declare bankruptcy." At this point, the heart is racing too.

Thanks to my years of meditation practice, I usually catch on pretty quickly that my mind just came up with a whole bunch of stuff that isn't true and has absolutely nothing to do with right now. I heard a Zen quote a few months back that I like to remind myself of whenever I catch myself hypothesizing about something that is totally unrelated to the present moment: "Don't know what you don't know." What a relief.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Cupcake Game




My teacher Jen and her friends have a birthday tradition called, "The Cupcake Game." If you're at a birthday party for any of these ladies, you'll play the game by getting your own cupcake with your own candle in it for dessert. Every time I've played The Cupcake Game, there's a whole bunch of us, but I s'pose you could play it with just the birthday person and one other friend if you wanted.

Someone starts the game by saying their hope for the birthday girl in the coming year. When they have said everything they want to say, they blow out their candle. Then it's the next person in the circle's turn and all the way back around to the birthday girl, who says her wish and blows out her candle.

I remember the first time I ever played The Cupcake Game, I was struck by how everyone's wish for the birthday girl was to feel something: ease, peace, love, or for her to laugh a lot; no one was wishing the birthday girl a new Mini Cooper or a Jack Russel Terrier.

Back when I was a kid, I had a hard time with the word 'pray.' I preferred to use the word 'wish' and would say my wishes before bed the way I imagined other kids prayed. Sometimes, at my grandparents house we would say "grace," and I liked that word. Nowadays I have no trouble with the word pray, but I still mix in the word wish and mean the same thing.

A friend of mine is leaving for the Mayo Clinic today to find out what's been going on with his heart. I wished him an enlightening and relaxing time there, after which I realized I have completely adopted this policy of hoping good feelings for my friends and anyone.

I am thankful to my main man Rumi, who, hundreds of years ago, did this whole post in three words: "Don't worry, pray."

Thursday, July 19, 2012

It's not often I find myself asking the age old question, "Which line will move faster?" In addition to giving up rushing a long time ago, I now live in a tiny town and rarely experience what I would call a crowd.

The other day I went down to the big city to run some errands. I found myself in a particularly busy coffee shop wanting to buy a coffee and use the bathroom. The queues leading up to the counter and the restroom were both super long, and I struggled to decide which line to choose and when. After choosing the long line of ladies leading to The Ladies, I was grateful to realize all of a sudden that being in line is actually a lot like being on a yoga mat.

Once you're in the line, there's nothing to do. Being in the line is what you're doing. As my teacher Peter would say, "There's actually no such thing as waiting; there's only awareness of each moment."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Charge



I have an aunt who doesn't recycle. I know, I know, there's lots of people who don't recycle. And every once in a while I don't recycle either. Like sometimes if I've been carrying around an empty olive jar all weekend camping and there's a trash can right there, I might not recycle. When it comes to this particular aunt of mine not recycling though, I turn into a first-class bully. I used to send her articles about the plastic in the sea between Hawaii and Japan, sometimes I write on her facebook, "Do you recycle yet?" and every time my mom and I talk about her, I only have one question, "Has she started recycling?" Geez, I can be so mean. The truth of the matter is, I pick on her because I can tell she feels bad about it. If she was a total jerk (like someone in this story) and had declared long ago, "I don't recycle and I don't care!" I might have never surfaced the topic.

I have a word I like to use for stuff like my aunt feeling bad about not recycling: "charge." "There's a charge around it for her," I might say. My aunt's not neutral about not recycling and that's what my subconscious mind responds to, then my conscious mind starts thinking of ways (albeit, TOTALLY unproductive ones) to get her to start.  Like if someone called me after I had changed plans with them and said, "Just forget it, it sounds like you're too busy," I could say, "Ok, fine," hang up, then feel awful about being in a fight with my friend. OR, I could say, "I feel like there's a charge around this and I want to clear it." I totally dig that a word that describes physical properties known as positive and negative is SO neutral.

To clear any charge you may have around me being a total recycle bully, I would like to say that I feel super invested in getting my aunt to recycle, because it's the right thing to do and also because, I know her. She's just like me! And there's folks like us out there who really feel better when we always do our best. I know that this particular aunty will be able to relax in a whole new way when she stops feeling bad about not recycling and finally just starts doing the right thing, even though it takes a little longer. I'll also probably feel better when I can quit this whole bully gig.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

"The Peace of Wild Things"

by: Wendell Berry

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Feeling Important

I've been holding out on a coincidence that exists inside my life and thus, tipsandtricks. On September 13th I did a post called The Albuquerque Room. I found myself in that room when I was on a road trip and visiting some hot springs; the final destination of my trip was meant to be my new home of Boulder, Colorado. The name of the motel where they have the lovely Albuquerque Room is called the Lomita Motel. I now work at those hot springs and live on a street called La Lomita, approximately 40 miles Northeast of that room in the city that became my home: Taos, New Mexico. I drive past that room every Sunday on my way to and from the hot springs, where I teach a few yoga classes, and I've been meaning to reread that post.

Over the weekend someone told me they were sad after hanging out with a person who made them feel unimportant. Also over the weekend I spent time listening to various people tell me about their own unique physical symptoms. Next, I had a lady come up to me after she took my class to tell me she got a strong intuitive hit about my future. After she told me what she saw,
I went into great detail about how what she was perceiving sounded more like my past and proceeded to tell her about MY ideas of my future. I couldn't help but smile when I noticed her body language demonstrate that she was done with our conversation when I was only a year or two in to MY fascinating ideas of what's next.

For real, one of my favorite parts about teaching yoga is a conversation I have often that begins with me saying something like, "Is there anything you want me to know about your body?" Some people make a joke and say, "It would take way too long to tell you!" Some people say they have a knee injury and know how to take care of it, but more often than not, people go into great detail about this state-of-the-art surgery they had a year and a half ago or this funny way their back feels after they got a massage yesterday. I love hearing these stories, and I am genuinely interested in them because I'm there to help these folks with their stories take care of themselves. I remember when I first started taking yoga classes, I had a big long story, too.

And I remember how important I felt in those two seconds when the lady came up to ME to tell me about my great future, and the success I was going to find. And I believe we're all really special. And I also believe that we're all not that important. When my friend told me he was feeling sad and unimportant, I reminded him of a Milapera quote to "Never spend more than 7 nights with someone who doesn't know you can be enlightened in this lifetime."

I finally got around to rereading that Albuquerque Room post this morning. Wouldn't you know I'm just writing the same old things now that I was back then, yet it still feels unique and somehow new.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Other People's Altars #1

The thing I am most likely to forget when I travel is my little portable altar. If I do forget it, I have zero to no chance of keeping up with my meditation practice; and I often let myself out of routines when I'm on vacation because I'm so good at keeping them when I'm home.

This morning I meditated in front of this altar. You guys! It was SO grounding and fun.


Project "Other People's Altars," is a project including me, other people's altars and an intention to get less formal about this whole meditating thing; to forget my traveling altar on purpose and remember the world is my altar more.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Guru Principle



A few years ago a friend of mine was diagnosed with a brain tumor. One day when she was talking about it, she quoted Einstein: "The only reason for time is so that everything doesn't happen at once." She believed she had a brain tumor because there was something for her to learn from it; because everything can't happen all at once, and, after some time, she would heal. "Holy Mother of God," I remember thinking, "I thought I was an optimist!"

Today is Guru Purnima, a very important holiday on the Hindu and Buddhist calendars; it's held every year on the full moon in July to honor teachers. Some of us are lucky to have teachers, you know, other human beings who teach us stuff in a formal setting and if we have questions, we can ask them. Others of us may never find another human being who we really feel connected to in that way. I believe in something called The Guru Principle in which a teacher can be found in anything and everything. Today, one of my friends, Suki, talked about the teacher in traffic which reminded her to leave more time to get to where she's going next time. Someone may see a teacher in the flying ants that have moved into their apartment and finally take the time to fix the broken window. Or maybe the teacher is another person but in a less formal setting, like an angry customer or someone who is patient with their child.

As today's holiday is a celebration of gratitude, I want to say thank you to all of my teachers everywhere. I would also like to continue to practice gratitude more than just a few times a year. I want to practice it in traffic, at the dentist, with flying ants and the lady who I think looks at me mean. I am grateful for my life, for my friend who had a brain tumor and I am grateful for right now.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hope & Anchor

After landing at LaGuardia last night, I got in a cab and rode to a diner where my best friend works. I couldn't help but notice the place is called Hope & Anchor.



Hope: "...looking forward to something with desire and reasonable confidence."

Anchor: "...a device that is used to connect a vessel to the bed of a body of water to prevent the vessel from drifting..."

Sounds like a good idea.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dear Kirby-

A symptom I experienced on the silent retreat I went on was feeling a little humor deprived. Every time one of the teachers told a story or shared an anecdote that I thought was funny, I loved it to the point of obsession. To this day, I remember stories and punchlines from the week and still have no perspective on whether or not they are worth sharing.

One day on the retreat, Grove, shared a comic with us. Ever since I got back and can use the internet whenever I want, I have spent a great deal of time searching for this comic, certain it was one of the most profound witticisms I had yet encountered. I've looked, I've enlisted a friend to look, and I've emailed Grove, asking him to please tell me the author and title of comic. His communication on this EXTREMELY important topic has been spotty at best, and I finally decided to let this little comic-finding project go. Wouldn't you know that just when I had let it go, an envelope arrived in the MAIL with a copy of the cartoon inside.



The words read: "Dear Kirby- After all these years of meditation, and in spite of your endless ridicule, I have finally reached 'universal consciousness.' I have transcended to a higher plane. I am everywhere and nowhere, non-existent and eternal, all seeing and all-knowing. You, on the other hand, can go suck an egg."

Yep, I can't remember exactly what it was about this that hit my funny bone so hard in the midst of all that silence.

The other day, I was talking with a friend of mine who used to eat a vegan diet and was thinking about going back to it. She told me back when she was vegan, so were all of her friends, and there was a lot of ego around it for them. They liked to go to restaurants and announce it, make their friends who weren't vegan feel bad about it, that sort of thing. I handed her my favorite book on the subject, Yoga and Vegetarianism. "Personally, I kinda like to keep it to myself," I said, "And if the subject comes up the last thing I want to do is make anyone feel uncomfortable." I do it because I believe it will help me find "a state in which separateness of self and other dissolves in the realization of oneness of being," because I believe "otherness is the main obstacle to enlightenment." Long story short, you won't find me telling any Kirbys to go suck an egg.