Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!



"May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art--write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself." --Neil Gaiman

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Next Few Days



I have a busy schedule between now and the new year; it occurs to me though, that this is a good time to be quiet, to allow insight for the new year to arise. In the midst of all my busy, I'm going to do my best to be open and relaxed. And I'm definitely going to take Marianne Williamson's advice, "Spend the next few days preparing for the year ahead: Forgive everyone, let go of everything, let God take charge." 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The Law of Giving




Say what you will about Christmas, but giving is good stuff. My friend Judith Lasater says, "Giving is the best game in town." Deepak Chopra says it's a law; "The Law of Giving: Today bring whoever you encounter a gift: a compliment or flower. Gratefully receive gifts. Keep wealth circulating by giving and receiving care, affection, appreciation and love. 

Happy giving dearest readers. 

xo,
Ash

Friday, December 20, 2013

Intense Stretch to the West



In yoga class the other day, I was feeling extremely irritable, and then the teacher taught my least favorite pose: paschimottanasana, also known as "intense stretch to the West" or "...of the West;" whatever it is, it gives the West a bad name. When we got into the pose she said, "Wherever you are is where you're meant to be, so drop your head and be grateful." I wanted to be pissed at her, really I did, but despite myself, I was reminded of another one of my favorite prayers from A Course in Miracles that says, "I am determined to see things differently." And pretty much, I melted.

I can't tell you how much that prayer has helped me. It has helped me the most in situations in life or stories in my head that I think about often (read: all the time). Give seeing something differently a try, or if you want to get really crazy, see that something from the other person's point of view.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013

We Saw a Fox



After my baby car accident, I felt like I might slippery slope down into funk. Sometimes, it seems like focusing on what's not working is easier than focusing on what is working; does that sound familiar? I had tea and tarot cards with my famous neighbor Lynne, and she and the cards reminded me not to dwell on the negative.

Focusing on the positive, I recalled that we saw a fox while we were driving up my street to dinner one night when my dad and step mom were in town. Feeling that fox medicine might have something to do with movement, I consulted Animal Speak, "The legs of the fox are adapted for running. Their favorite gait is a trot, and it is believed they can trot indefinitely without exhaustion or the appearance of such. Few animals of similar size can outrun a fox. Learning to establish a trotting pace is essential to those with a fox totem for their overall health and success. The fox also runs in such a way that the tracks look like a single line of footprints. During the trot the feet are placed almost directly one in front of the other." (Andrews 1993, 275).

You know me, for better or for worse, I can get down with a good old round of naval-gazing. These  days however, it's feeling much better is to just keep on keeping on.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Re-Minder





When I was teaching yoga on Thanksgiving, I shared one of my favorite quotes from Walt Whitman, "If anything is sacred, the human body is sacred." I then decided that I needed to read that quote everyday: I have been guilty of taking the practice of yoga for granted, when deep down, I know, it's magic.

The other day, I was in a baby car accident. Don't worry, there's no visible damage to me, my car, the other person, or the other person's car, and I went to the chiropractor less than 3 hours after the accident, so any symptoms I might have experienced from whiplash were averted. However, my nervous system did get pretty nervous, and thanks to good old fight or flight, my body was tight. That night, when I got to Shree to teach, I picked the Angel Card, "Purpose." Those Angels sure do know me well; I started doing yoga for reals back in 2001, thanks to an accident. And the reason I started to teach was to help people who were in pain because of accidents or because of other reasons. It's been so many years now, and sometimes I forget why I teach, and sometimes I am reminded. Re-minded, oh my gosh, cool word.

Dr. Morter, the gentlemen who created B.E.S.T. believes that "...your reactions to the experiences in your life hold the answers to your state of health." He also truly believes in the power of forgiveness, "Your feelings of forgiveness must be as strong to the positive side as your feelings towards the event which you are forgiving are to the negative side. In other words, you must actually balance or neutralize your negative feelings toward the situation by blanketing it with positive, loving feelings. This does not mean that you must now view the situation or person as good or that you agree with or condone his actions. What it means is that you must see the good in the situation as it relates to you."

The morning after the accident, the magic of yoga thoroughly restored me and I was truly grateful, even excited, to get over to class and teach some of the neato stuff I had just done that had made me feel so much better. I'm not trying to be a goody goody, I genuinely am grateful for the accident; it reconnected me with purpose. And hey, if I were you guys, I'd remember purpose too, and try to stay connected to it; that way some not-so-subtle-re-minder won't have to hit you.

Friday, December 6, 2013

"Problems"





"If you can fix it with money, it's not a problem." --Judith Hanson Lasater

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Hearing Silence




"...for the past several years, it seems I get everything I pray for, too. It has something to do with the way I've learned to pray, which is more about listening than demanding. Every day, if I can still my body and mind enough to hear Silence, I notice that my heart is yearning towards certain things, avoiding others. It's when I voice this deep yearning that my prayers are answered. And nothing else I might ask for really matters." --Martha Beck, Leaving the Saints: How I lost the Mormons and Found My Faith

Friday, November 29, 2013

To Allow




Thanks to a wonderful audio program on gratitude from author and teacher Angeles Arrien, I have become aware of a universal addiction behavior that has been prevalent in my life: the addiction to the need to know. Arrien talks about how when we have this addiction, we tend to try and drive the outcome, rather than waiting to learn. The other side of this coin is the place I'd rather be: a place of trust, patience, wisdom and flexibility.

Yesterday, my good friend Jana gave me this cool little page from Deepak Chopra's book The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success. Ever read that book? For real, it's sooo good. According to this nifty little page, on Fridays, we can practice "The Law of Detachment: Allow yourself and others the freedom to be who they are. Do not force solutions--allow solutions to spontaneously emerge. Uncertainty is essential and your path to freedom." Thanks Ms. Arrien and Mr. Chopra, you guys reminded me of one of my favorite verbs: to allow.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Have You Guys Ever Been Wrong?



I have. Like a whole bunch of times already, today.

"A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday." --Alexander Pope

P.S. Remember that time in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind when Kirsten Dunst calls him Pope Alexander? If you haven't seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, stop reading tipsandtricks for goodness sake and start watching it! No, seriously, start watching it *right now.*

Friday, November 22, 2013

Make Bold Choices



Did you guys know that my hairdresser, William, is also an actor? Today we were talking about the advice Brian Cranston gives to aspiring actors in the great interview that went viral a few months ago. William was saying that in auditions it's important to "make bold choices."

Don't tell, but back in college, I was in a comedy troupe. When we held auditions, I thought it was so silly if the people trying out were nervous; we were kids, just like them.

I am reminded of comedy troupe auditions sometimes when I teach to people who have never done yoga before; sometimes it seems like they're afraid to do it "wrong," when, in fact, there is no wrong.

Miles Davis said, "Don't fear mistakes, there are none."

Let's not be afraid, let's make bold choices, especially when it comes to being who we are and going for what we want, let's learn from our experiences and, remember, we're all just a bunch of kids.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How's Your Magic?




The place I work in Santa Fe is kinda fancy; there's lots of nice things there, like natural face lifts, organic cotton clothing, and raw cacao smoothies. What I like about it though, is the people who work there. There's one gentlemen, Victor, who works in the retail section, and from what I can tell, he's a superstar at life. One time instead of asking "How are you?" he asked me "How's your magic?"

*Fantastic* point Victor. We ALL have magic. My job is magic. I say some stuff, people do some things, and when we're done, they feel better. But what you do is magic, too. If you're the boss of people who get paid to work for you, and because of that money they can heat their house and buy coats and mittens for their kids--that's magic! If you used some wood from the forest to build a fence around your house, where there wasn't a fence before--that's magic! Making soup is magic. Putting a jar on top of a spider and a piece of paper underneath that jar, flipping it upside down and carrying the spider outside to free it, rather than smashing it in the bathtub is magic--you just saved a living creature's life! Flossing is magic, teaching someone how to read is magic, drinking herbal tea is magic--oh my gosh you guys, herbal tea is so totally magic.

Love is absolutely without a doubt technically magic.

Love who you're with, love what you do, practice your magic everyday.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Cherish



A word that comes up a lot for my B.E.S.T. clients is "cherish," meaning that on a fairly regular basis, it's positive for some or one of my clients to feel the feeling of cherish. Yesterday, during my B.E.S.T. treatment, I got the word cherish.

Honestly, I've always thought cherish was kinda a weird word, and the feeling is hard for me to connect with in the present moment; I think of it in reference to something that's past.

*Big surprise alert*: that's why it keeps coming up.

The dictionary defines "cherish" as: to feel or show great love for, to remember or hold in a deeply felt way.

Thinking of cherish on my way to work this morning, I thought, "What would it feel like if I cherished right now? This drive to class?" And then I realized, I sorta did cherish it: I like driving, I like not listening to music, and I like being alone. I had been moving quickly to get myself there with plenty of time to do cardio before; feeling cherish heightened my level of presence and took the air out of my rush.

In teaching, I'm really into transitions; I think it's a good idea to practice our transitions on the mat, maybe then transitions off the mat can feel more graceful. I took Jason Crandell's class today online and in a moment of transition he said, "Take your time with it. Have quality in your experience." That's the lesson cherish holds for me, to have quality in my experience, no matter how mundane, no matter how much there is to do.

I like to look at clouds long enough to see them move; it reminds me that it's all moving, we're all moving, all the time. Cherish feels like a way of slowing down and focusing with love and attention.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

When Light Decides



I have learned a lot about myself living out here in the middle of nowhere; like how good I am at worrying. I'll worry about one thing a lot, and as soon as I don't seem to have cause to worry about it anymore, I'll pick up another thing to worry about.

One thing I've learned is that I can't think myself out of worrying. I have to do something in order to stop worrying, like exercise or hang out with a friend. Today, I decided to start a sadhana. Sadhana is defined as a "means of accomplishing something," it's a spiritual practice you commit to for a certain number of days to help you transcend your ego. According to Kundalini Yoga, doing a sadhana for 40 days "changes a habit," and that's exactly what I mean to do. I want change my negative habit of worrying and I want to practice more faith.

I got out my little planner and wrote down all the days that I would be doing my sadhana. Turns out the last day of my sadhana will be the Winter Solstice, when light decides to change its habit too. I thought that was pretty cool, actually, to be honest, I'm totally yoga-dorking-out over it.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Healer Self



A while back when I was experiencing some pretty overwhelming anxiety for a few days straight, a shift happened in my teaching. It was morning in the yurt at Ojo and there were probably only 2 or 3 students in my class. The first class at Ojo is called "Mindful Mornings," which I  interpret as an easy and meditative start to the day, so we were keeping it mellow. On that particular day it felt like I was talking to myself more than talking to my students, kinda coaxing myself to settle down and to breathe into my belly.

It's not as though I wasn't paying attention to the others in the room; I was just open in a new way to receiving the medicine of the yoga I was teaching--instead of trying to control it to get students to do certain things to feel certain ways.

A few days later at my breathwork session, Malthide called what I've heard referred to as my "Higher Self," my "Healer Self." Then my Al-Anon book picked right up where Mathilde left off on the very next day. I read, "So it's in my best interest to treat others as I wish to be treated. I try to imagine that my words and actions are being addressed to myself, because in the long run, I generally get back what I give out."

Don't get me wrong, I don't have all the kinks worked out. Sometimes someone comes to class who doesn't know where their shin bone is, which is confusing, because I do know where my shin bone is (thank goodness!), and the other day for the first time since I don't know when, some lady told me she couldn't hear me.

Kinks present, this Healer Self feels good, like another layer of my control leaving, like me being soothed by soothing. Soother: soothed, Healer: Self.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Happy Day of the Dead!



"Neither fire nor wind, birth nor death can erase our good deeds." -Buddha

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Moving Towards Wholeness



The other day, I had a Holotropic Breathwork session with a dear lady just up the road in Arroyo Seco. The name "Holotropic," comes from Greek words and literally means "moving towards wholeness."

Before our session started, she spent some time orienting me to what might happen. She said, "Your inner knowing already knows how to use this opportunity." I like how I feel when I believe that, and I am going to continue to believe that about, well, everything.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Release Out of Me



Sometimes in my voice lessons, we work on pretty hard songs, and sometimes, we work on fun ones. Before we start working on the songs though, we do a warm-up. My favorite warm-up is when we lay down on the floor and "sound" all of our chakras.

Although I love that warm-up so much, I've struggled to stay out of my head during it; the first yoga teacher training I did teaches to teach based on the chakras, so I've been studying them for a long time. The last time we did the chakra warm-up was different though. On that particular day, I was not at all in my head and rather than making the sounds for each of the chakras, it felt like I was releasing them. Turns out, that's a good access for me to take when it comes to singing a song too; to just release it.

In fact, that's a pretty good way for me to approach a lot of things in my life as I tend to over-effort and have tension in my body and my mind. I can set an intention, and then, rather than trying so ding dong hard to do everything so right, I can let my work, my love, my words, you name it, release out of me.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Skunk Medicine



Do you ever have those times when you spend a lot of time with another person/other people and when you're by yourself again you feel lonesome? I love being alone. Sometimes I feel a relief when I'm alone, but sometimes, I feel lonely. More and more I'm learning that it feels lonely when I've gotten out of step with myself.

Smokey got sprayed by a skunk last night. I feel like such a princess for writing about it rather than helping clean him up, but maybe I'll get my chance later tonight.

Animal Speak says skunks ain't playin'. They use their spray only as a last resort and its effect demands recognition: "...look at how people respond to it. They show great respect for (the skunk) and what it can do. This is part of what the skunk teaches. It teaches how to give respect, expect respect and demand respect. The skunk does not get out of the way of any animal. It moves along at its own speed, with its own mind. It is self-assured and confident in itself. If skunk has shown up, it can help you with this particular aspect. It can teach you how to be more self-assured and how to assert yourself. Examine your self-image." (Andrews, 1993, 312-314).

While on the phone with Mike last night talking about Smokey, I was drinking some Yogi Tea. The fortune on my tea bag said, "Self-reliance conquers any difficulty." The dictionary lists "confident or trustful dependance," as the first meaning of reliance. I'll be darned if that's not a good way to feel towards yourself. I'm going to practice feeling that way when I'm by myself and when I'm with other people.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Resting is so Totally Underrated




"Take rest; a field that has rested gives a beautiful crop." -Ovid

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Changing Transforming




There's all kinds of good quotes like, "let your smile change people, but don't let people change your smile," and "Make the money, don't let the money make you. Change the game don't let the game change you."

Know what I think is fun? To decide: "I'm going to let this change me."

There's this one relationship in my life that is absolutely changing me, and I'm glad, I want it to. This past weekend, I was a student in a Restorative yoga teacher training. Most days before I went to Restorative class, I did my "regular" practice, a much more active style of yoga followed by some meditation. Yesterday as I was doing my personal practice, I noticed myself slowing down, exhaling through my mouth and pausing between poses. I realized the work I was doing in the teacher training was changing me. "Neato," I thought. "I'm going to let it."

What's really fun is to be aware. Through awareness we can pick and choose, "I didn't really like that one part. I'm going to take what I liked and leave the rest," or "This new way of doing things works for me."

When we're conscious about changing, I think we get to use a fancier word: transforming.

Friday, October 11, 2013

"This is Buddha"



There are times when I question why the universe hasn't let me off the hook from being a yoga teacher, and then there are times when I have answers.

Yesterday was one of those answers times. I am currently studying Restorative yoga with the lady who wrote the book on it, Judith Hanson Lasater. She articulated so well something that is important to me. She said that yoga is about "finding and living from unconditional regard for myself and everyone."

One of her mantras for when she's out in the world is a kind of reminder. While interacting with people, she says to herself, "This is Buddha." And then she thinks the same mantra for the next person she interacts with, "This is Buddha."

But wait! That's not even my favorite part! To her, it doesn't matter if the person she's interacting with is actually not Buddha. She says she doesn't even care if that's not the truth. She says, "I like how I feel when I believe that thought." Me too.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Spare No Expense



I spare no expense when it comes to buying thank you notes. This little 6 pack was 14 smackers. But I love buying cards like this, filling them out and sending them, I believe that "Feeling grateful or appreciative of someone or something in your life actually attracts more of the things that you appreciate and value into your life."--Chrisitane Northrup

Writing and sending a note, even a thank you note, is an act of giving and being able to give is something else I feel grateful for. "A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving."--Albert Einstein

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Greatest Hits Tipsandtricks 2012-2013



Rabbit rabbit rabbit. Tipsandtricks' birthday came and went a month ago with me too busy to even notice, let alone celebrate. Let's party today with last year's batch of Greatest Hits. Thank you so much for reading everybody, you guys sure do know how to keep a gal writing.

1. Talent

2. Blow Up Your Spot

3. Sides of History

4. Backbends

5. Out of Alignment

6. My Hare Krishna Friend

7. Upward Facing Bow Pose

8. Smoothies and the Highway

9. Ho'oponopono Prayer

10. Bless Your Heart

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Good Day for Practice


Sometimes I love those mornings when I've had too much coffee or I'm running late or I didn't have time to meditate. On those days the rest of my day becomes my practice because I need it.

Not sure if love is the word I would use to describe my feelings towards this morning however. Within the first five minutes of being awake, I found out my best friend's mother died unexpectedly yesterday.

After talking to my best friend, I overwhelmed myself by thinking of all of the things I should or could do for her. Should I fly to New Hampshire right now to be with her? Should I cancel my day and pray? Could I skip this week's work to do that? Does she even want me to?

I opened to today's date in Courage to Change, and there was my answer, so simple and clear:

"'If only I had infinite wisdom,' I secretly think. 'If only I could see everything before me, a clear path, the knowledge of how I must spend each moment of life!' But in meeting after meeting of Al-Anon I am reminded that I can only work with what I have today. I don't know what tomorrow will bring. What's more, I am probably better off not knowing. If I knew what was coming, I suspect that I would spend all my time trying to run from painful experiences instead of living. I would miss out on so much great stuff. I can trust my Higher Power to lead me through this day so that I will be prepared for the future when it arrives and able to work with whatever it brings. This leaves me time to enjoy the many gifts life has to offer, time that would otherwise be spent worrying. An old maxim says, 'It'll shine when it shines.' If I am willing to listen, I will receive all the information I need when the time is right. 'Just for today' I will know that I am in good hands." (Al-Anon Family Groups, 1992, 271).

Good news for this good day to practice: I am willing to listen.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Disciple of the Autumn Season



You guys probably already know this, but the word "discipline" comes from the word "disciple."

Folks tell me a lot that I'm "disciplined" or they say, "Oh that takes a lot of discipline" about something that I do. One time my dad said I was a workaholic, and I said, "I don't think I'm a workaholic, I think I'm a me-aholic." But, actually, maybe what I am is a disciple of a lot of things.

I am definitely a disciple of the autumn season and its kick-off, the autumn equinox. I stand by pretty much everything fall stands for. Ba-dum ching. Ahh, sorry guys.

According to Nature Speak, "The autumn equinox opens the cycle of the Year of the Soul for one who wants to attune to the true mysteries of Nature. The earth and any individual upon it can prepare themselves for a new cycle of growth within his or her life. As the sun moves into Libra, energy begins to affect the whole surface of the earth. The energies of plants are drawn inward. Within us, energy is drawn inside to cleanse the heart, so that a new birth can unfold at the time of winter solstice. The autumn forces become active, in a manner that triggers opportunities for transition. It is the harvesting time for what has previously passed; a time for purifying the mind and to begin the process of transmuting that which needs [to be] transmuted. During this time of year, the energies can assist us in the following ways: [1] In cleansing and purifying the heart chakra, the seat of much karma [2] In more easily turning our attention from the outer to the inner worlds, thus aligning with spirits of Nature [3] In initiating a time of weighing, measuring, determining values, and decisions for the physical and spiritual life of the individual." (Andrews, 2004, 105-107).

Word up autumn! I love you! I get so happy every time you show up; thanks so much for coming around again.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Turtle Beyer



Have I ever told you guys my mom calls me Turtle? I like my nickname and I sign all my correspondence to her "Love, Turtle," and I even put "Turtle Beyer" in my return address on envelopes. My mom's been calling me Turtle for forever, so it's funny that just the other day it dawned on me to consult Animal Speak about turtles.

A certain friend of mine really liked it one time when I said something like "The truth is always changing." I think I might have been exaggerating a little; I don't know if the truth is always changing but point is, it can.

A good example of this truth changing stuff is that I used to be able to drink two or more cups of coffee in the morning no problem. In fact, two cups of coffee was my standard. The other morning, due to an unintentional change in routine, I only had one cup. It was the best: I got to learn that I'm not an anxious, clumsy, rushing mess naturally for the first few hours of  the day--I've just been drinking too much coffee.

Not only have I been drinking too much coffee, I have forsaken my namesake, "Because of its great age and slow metabolism, the turtle is also associated with longevity. Long life and groundedness within life is part of what is associated with the turtle. It does not move fast. It is as if, on some level, [the] turtle knows it has all the time in the world. Turtle medicine can teach new perceptions about time and our relationship with it." (Andrews, 1993, 364).

These past few mornings with only one cup of coffee, I've thought a little about what I would do if I had all the time in the world, and it's a lot. It's great to feel that I can, and more effectively without an added edgy haste.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Your Truth



"Your truth is trying to have a life here, are you giving it the space to?" - Dr. Sue Morter

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Receiving the Love



Have you ever seen people fight over who is going to paying the bill? I have. It happens in my family all the time. Over the years I have seen all kinds of crazy shenanigans regarding slipping the credit card to the waiter to before anyone else does. It can be a wild ride watching someone insist, only to watch the other person insist back. Isn't the whole point of insisting to put an end to this completely unnecessary battle?

In the past few years, I've become okay with someone else paying, and I've gotten over the feelings of guilt or wanting to say thank you for the rest of my life, too. But, sometimes, there's still something in me that really needs to make sure I pay.

It's not fun to look at, but that "something in me" is my inner control freak. As a child I learned that if I wasn't in charge of everything, it would most likely fall apart. This belief creates a lot of anxiety and tension, which makes sense, because it's a very pure form of fear.

Over the weekend there was this one thing I wanted to make sure I paid for. Trying to control that outcome completely took me out of the moment, and I made a perfectly peaceful situation stressful by rushing it. Looking back now I think I feel worse for creating stress than I would from letting someone else pay. Thank goodness I know how to forgive myself.

I want to remember that I love doing nice things for people. And I want to continue to learn to trust that people like doing nice things for me.

About a month and a half ago, I did some super sweet things for my friend Genevieve, and it was my pleasure to do them. After she saw these sweet things, she said "thank you," but she also said "receiving the love."

Thank YOU, Genevieve. I am learning how to receive the love. I am learning how to receive and to be open to the gift that is this moment. 

Friday, September 6, 2013

My Altar #2



“Love and magic have a great deal in common. They enrich the soul, delight the heart. And they both take practice.”--Nora Roberts

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Indigenous Prayer for Work




So I guess Labor Day is one of those holidays that brings up feelings for me. Even though I don't know too much about its history, I have been inclined for the past two years to reflect on work.

Over the weekend two different people told me that I love my job, which totally pissed me off. Reflecting on what aggravated me, I realized it bothered my ego because they made it seem so simple, and it irritated me because they were making an assumption. I've never told either of them I love my job. Loving teaching yoga for me is a process. I feel like I've been doing it for a long time, and it takes a lot for me to stay inspired. Turns out, the process is simple. I am grateful that I teach yoga, which means I practice loving it; sometimes it’s easy and other times, it’s not.

Tell you one thing real though, this Indigenous Prayer for Work big time reminds me of all there is to be grateful for, that I don’t need a reason, and that it can be simple:

"Great mystery, powers of the water, I send a voice in prayer, I'm asking for entrance through the gates of knowledge; I'm seeking to cross the realms. Spirits of the water, help me be fluid today to move easily with this work. I turn to the setting sun in the place between day and night, asking guidance for intuition. I pray for the right doors to open, for the ability to look within and make good medicine from my gifts so that it supports the work and supports the earth and supports the friends and supports the family. I pray that I can grow within this work and be of service to others. Powers of twilight, I walk in your mystery and open to your gifts that want to be served today through my work. Thank you for the blessing of work, thank you for the blessing of gifts, thank you for the blessing of the earth."

Friday, August 30, 2013

Being with Clouds




"Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky."

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Easy Busy



When you get a B.E.S.T. treatment, your B.E.S.T. practitioner gives you a series of words; these words are always positive feelings. When your treatment is over, you leave with a piece of paper that has those words on it. The piece of paper is a party favor for taking care of yourself and a reminder: in between treatments, it's good for you to feel those positive feelings.

Lately, I've been getting the feeling "exact" a lot. I can get down with feeling exact, sometimes it seems like the opposite of indecisive or an antidote to vagueness and I know and being vague or feeling indecisive can completely frazzle me. This time around with exact, I decided to get exact about my intention for each day.

About a year ago, an acquaintance of mine wrote an article for The New York Times blog about what he called "The Busy Trap." As I recall, he talked about the "over-glorification of busy"  and how being busy actually isn't that cool. I've thought about that article quite a bit since reading it, and speaking of feelings, I have had a lot of different ones about being busy.

Recently, I've been getting stressed out about being busy. When I know a super busy day is coming up, I anticipate it, "Oh, Gosh, here comes that busy one," I think to myself. This morning when I noticed a first glint of feeling anxious about how jam-packed today is, I cancelled it with today's top-notch and totally exact intention: "Although today is busy, I'm going to let it be easy." Ahhhhh.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Lucky Bamboo



Last week, when I was doing the dishes, the ring that I've had on my right hand since 2006 broke and fell off. My first instinct was to be sad, I love that ring so much; but then I remembered a few years back when my lucky bamboo died.

For so long, my lucky bamboo was my only plant and it thrived with my undivided attention. One day out of the blue, it just up and died. I was sad to see it go and worried about my fortune without it; things had been going well, without my lucky bamboo, would everything turn to shit?

That day at yoga, my teacher could tell I was distracted and asked me what was wrong. "My lucky bamboo died," I said."That means you didn't need it anymore," she said.

My best friend is good at losing things. If she looses her glasses, if her iPhone breaks or her purse gets stolen, she takes it well. I super big time respect that about her; I have a harder time letting stuff go.

When I think back to what my life looked like when I put that ring on my finger, I can see clearly that I don't need it anymore. To let it go feels the opposite of sad, happy actually. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Other People's Altars #3




"Prayer is when you talk to God; meditation is when you listen to God." – Diana Robinson

Friday, August 16, 2013

Sleep On It



I love this whole slowing down and learning not to rush thing; I still have a lot of work to do, but I realize I have come pretty far. Back when I was a brand new baby yoga teacher, if I got a text message asking me to sub a class, I felt like I had to respond right away. The case could be made that responding promptly is a courteous thing to do, especially last minute. But I see now it's just as important for me to finish whatever I'm doing, figure out if I'm available and if subbing is something I want to do. I don't have to go over to the other teacher's side of the fence or be dramatic about how sorry I am she has a migraine.

Last night, I got a text message from a friend of mine who lives in Santa Fe. He's coming up to Taos this weekend and is wondering if I knew of anywhere he could crash. I wrote back, "Let me think about it," knowing full well I'll be out of town this weekend and the answer could be a very simple, "Sure you can crash at my place." I like the expression "Sleep on it," sleeping on it is a great way to make sure not to hurry into a decision. My teacher Jen, who reminds me to be in my body, would say, "See how it feels in your body." Ultimately, I want to help people out by subbing their classes and letting them crash at my house, but it's important for me to take time to make sure I'm doing those things NOT just because I want to help them out, but also because I WANT to. Doing things we don't want to do can cause resentment and expectation; even though lots of times, people will do things to help us out, we can't expect them to just because we did something to help them out. Sit with it, sleep on it, do some yoga, go for a walk, whatever, just take your time.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

It's a Process




"As long as you live, keep learning how to live." -Seneca

Friday, August 9, 2013

Rosy Over Here



I don't want you guys to think that it's always all rosy over here. In fact, just last night, I said something like "I am so so mad," and "She's my arch-nemesis," about two different topics within the space of an hour. Lots of times though, I can't help myself and I love the waiter, the guy panhandling or everyone who's in my yoga class a whole lot.

Although I know lots of Sanskrit chants from years of studying yoga, there's only one I ever want to chant anymore. It goes, "lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu," and it essentially means "may all being everywhere be happy and free."

Sometimes I have felt silly for loving strangers and other times I've thought "I should lead my students in a different chant." The other night, I felt better about these ways that I am after watching a documentary called I Am. I don't want to go into what I Am is about as much as I want you, dear reader, to watch it. If you like tipsandtricks, but think I'm far out for trying to practice things like positivity and forgiveness, this movie will help you to understand the science of why. And even if you don't like tipsandtricks or think being positive is boring, I suggest you watch the film anyway; Desmond Tutu is in it, and he's super charismatic and fun to watch, sometimes even a little rosy.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Man in the Mirror



I looove Michael Jackson, and I particularly like the song "Man in the Mirror."  In the song he sings: "If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change." This is a great idea. In the video you'll find Michael, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. I believe those guys did make the world a better place. 

But for the rest of us, how do we make a change in ourselves that could make the world a better place?

There are lots of ways to answer to that question, but today I am inspired by what Caroline Myss has to say. She is older and more confident than I am, and she is actually pretty hardcore about love and forgiveness.

She talks about what she wants us to decide next time we're in a conflict:

"I am not going to pass on this suffering. I am not going to pass this pain that I feel back to this person." She wants us to turn that pain back onto ourselves. She wants us to realize that, "[i]f I transfer this suffering onto somebody else, they're going to have to transfer it onto somebody else." Whether you're in a big argument or if you just feel kinda defensive, she wants you to "...separate yourself from your own rage and hit the pause button. And then realize 'My God, this is forgiveness.' Forgiveness is the decision to take that pain and say, 'No, I'm not going to give this back. I'm going to pray it away for both of us.'" 

Told you she was hardcore. She asks us to, "[j]ust be mindful for one day, in every conversation of whether you pass on pain or love."

Make the world a better place type of stuff, for reals.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Walking Just for Fun



Somehow lately my awareness of when I am being present and when I'm not has been heightened. One of the reasons I'm sure the world still wants me to teach yoga is cause I still have a lot of work to do in terms of being present.

I've been noticing how difficult it is to be present while propelling myself through space. I like driving cars and I loooove riding bikes and I do those things to get places. Sometimes I'll even walk to get to where I'm going. Turns out, I find it particularly challenging while en route to be present. I guess I'm always thinking about what it's going to be like when I get to where I'm going; but gosh I want to be present for the en route part--that can be such a great part too.

I understand the value now more than ever of something that Julia Cameron is really into: walking, just for the sake of walking. Back when I used to be good about doing The Artist's Way, I lived in New York and I HAD to walk all the time to get places; the last thing I wanted to do was walk just for fun. But it's that aimlessness that cultivates presence and presence cultivates peace and a lot of good ideas.

So yeah, I believe in walking just to walk. But what's working well for me that doesn't ask for extra energy or time is to just be present: when I'm at work, while I'm listening to a story, and as I my ride my bike. One of my favorite yoga teachers said something once about how we want to "uncondition the rush." Word to your moms: what are we rushing for? To get to that next part? What for? I know I've said it before, but, you guys, someday we're going to die, let's be present for it, all of it, while we can.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Feng Shui Touching Everything



One thing that you might not know about me is I have a boyfriend who's really smart at feng shui. A couple weeks ago, we were talking about one of my favorite topics: cleaning. He mentioned something about how according to feng shui, it's good to every now and again to touch everything you own. "I want to do that!" I thought, "Gosh that sounds like just the thing." I knew I couldn't get away with just touching everything I had, it would be my inclination to clean it.

My dear sweet readers, I did this feng shui touching everything the other day and it felt SOOOO good. I live in a small studio apartment with very few drawers, which also functions as my office, so I keep it pretty neat, but there were some things I hadn't touched in forever. My cross country skis were cobwebbed in the corner of the deck, the silverware had tiny granules of salt and pepper all over it, and some of my hair ties were getting dusty.

Sometimes when I want to get a whole bunch of cleaning done, I get kinda crazy, skip meditating and rush through the cleaning; that program inevitably leads to exhaustion. On my feng shui touching everything day, I woke up early enough to meditate, do a little yoga, and not rush through my project. It felt like more than just cleaning, kinda like a ritual. I got rid of a bunch of stuff I no longer use, and my house feels lighter. The next morning on my walk, I realized how clear and unanxious I felt. Kids, I kid you not, I think it's cause I touched everything; maybe it's harder to feel overwhelmed when you know you can touch everything you own.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Muse




 "Breath is the outer world coming into one's body. With pulse--the two always harmonizing--the source of our inward sense of rhythm. Breath is spirit, "inspiration." Expiration, "voiced," makes the signals by which the species connects. The voice of inspiration as an "other" has long been known in the west as The Muse. Widely speaking, the muse is anything other that touches you and moves you. Be it a mountain range, a band of people, the morning star, or a diesel generator. Breaks through the ego-barrier." Gary Snyder

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Each Moment is an Opportunity to



Occasionally, I feel challenged by this one relationship I have. But lately, I've been pretty alright about looking at the challenges I feel, taking responsibility for them, and practicing forgiveness. As a result, I've been enjoying some transformation. It dawned on me the other day, "Hey, why don't I just use this relationship as an opportunity to become a better person? I'm sorta already doing that anyway." And so the intention was set.

Yesterday in my 11 am class, there was an eighty year old woman with immobile hips, a 6 year old boy, a pack of girls who were better at yoga than me, and a lady whose neck was bothering her. Feeling ambivalent about what to teach, I decided, "Heck, I'll just use this yoga class as an excuse to become a better person." Turns out, "to become a better person" is a super clarifying and meaningful intention to teach from.

I guess that, actually, each moment is an opportunity to become a better person: to slow down, to feel grateful, to smile, to notice what's new, and to laugh. Surely it's not the answer to absolutely everything; it seems too easy, too good to be true, but it sure beats the heck out of being anxious and in a hurry.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Love and Success Charms



When I lived in New York, any chance I got, I would go a store on East 9th St called Flower Power. Geez that store is cool, especially if you like magic and flower essences.

They used to sell Love and Success Charms; little circles of beads and flowers meant to put on your altar for your prayers and wishes. Totally recyclable: when your prayers are answered, bust out a new piece of paper, write your new hopes and intentions, and put it inside of your Charm. No kidding you guys, if you spend time with your altar everyday like I do, it totally works. And it is so good for us to be clear about our intentions: what we want from today and/or everyday for the rest of our lives.

Being clear isn't always easy. I remember once a few years ago, I really wanted a boyfriend; but I felt kinda embarrassed or something, so I didn't put "A Boyfriend" in my Love and Success Charm. Then one day, I walked through a street fair that was specifically geared towards young Islamic people (yes, sometimes I really do miss NY) and most of the people there were wearing t-shirts that said "Single and Looking." "What's my problem?" I thought, "there's absolutely nothing wrong with being single or looking. Why am I being so weird and stuff?" I spoke with my teacher Jen about it and she assured me there was no way in heck I was going to get a boyfriend if I was judging myself for wanting one. On further examination, it was too soon after I had broken up with my last boyfriend and so no wonder I was feeling confused about it. Whatever you want, as long as it's not harmful to other creatures or beings, is more than ok, you can have it, get clear and ask.

Maybe you have no idea what you want, and that's totally cool too. If you want to know what you want, write in your Charm: "What do I want?" When we ask, answers look to find us.

Friday, July 12, 2013

High Notes and Low Notes



Holy geez, my voice teacher is so deep. We start all of our lessons practicing silence. Then we sing. I'm working on a really hard song called, "If I Were a Boy." Don't worry, I don't try to sing like sing like Beyoncé; the point is to put my own spin on it. I don't have back-up singers or anything, it's just Liz playing the piano softly while I sing. Even still, it goes pretty high. So when we're warming up, Liz super big time focuses on getting me to be comfortable singing low. She says that "when we deliberate on the lower notes, it's easier for the higher notes to open up." I know! She's super deep.

My friend Alison wrote on facebook "More and more I think we're not here to DO but to EXPERIENCE. So the question then, is not 'What should I DO with my life?' but 'What should I EXPERIENCE?'" Well said Alison. And it's easy to think of big stuff like, goals, careers, you know, whole-life stuff when looking at a question like this. What if we opened it up to feelings, sensitivities, just tiny little everyday stuff? I can experience the stress of trying to get too much done in one day, I can experience the grudge I feel when someone isn't that nice to me. Then maybe, just maybe, the "higher notes" can open up: I can experience the elation of being present during my morning hike, I can experience the enjoyment of laughing with my friend, I can experience the trust I feel when I know everything's going to be ok.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Love Cannot Be



"[Love] cannot be created or manipulated. Love is a gift."-Anne Wilson Schaef

Friday, July 5, 2013

Today is My Altar



I've been having lots of feelings lately. One feeling I had was a deep deep sadness about what happened to the firefighters. The other morning, I got side-tracked reading articles about them online and I didn't have enough time to meditate. Instead of being super cranky at myself for not getting 20 minutes in front of my altar, I decided, "Today is going to be my altar."

Turns out, that was a pretty good idea. While I was driving, I didn't listen to music: the road was my altar. While I was teaching my private client: our practice was my altar. And when I was making chocolate pudding: my kitchen was my altar. I tried to be the activity at hand, to notice the tone of my mind, my body and my breath and not to take those tones too seriously, cause they're always changing. Sometimes, I was happy and sometimes I was sad, but mostly I was just witnessing each moment, like how I witness my thoughts when I sit and meditate. Yeah, pretty good idea.