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


"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.