Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Over-Efforting



Somebody named me woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. Through my ongoing study of B.E.S.T., I am starting to understand how this wrong side of the bed stuff works: sometimes our alarm clock catches us right when we're in the middle of a negative conscious or sub-conscious pattern. I didn't want to wake up, my face was puffy with sleep and my right upper trapezius actually really hurt.

I meditated and made smoothies for me and one of my best friends. We went to one of our favorite yoga classes and then I taught my favorite private client. Normally Tuesday mornings are the best, but today I felt so grumpy.

During my last week of work in New York before I moved, I got a tension headache. I told my teacher that I thought it was because I wanted my last few classes there to be so so awesome, so that everyone would never forget me, and that maybe, I was trying too hard. She assured me that I most definitely was. "Just show up and be yourself," she said, "that's as awesome as it gets." Sometimes, she's so nice. But really, it's true. The most amazing thing we can do is show up, listen, and without over-managing, address the circumstances.

Last week, I showed up at my favorite private client's house and his back really really hurt. I had no agenda when I got there, I listened to his complaint, and came up with a very supported yoga practice that helped him to feel a lot better. He felt so much better that he emailed me again later that day and asked me to come back again in the next few days. Great news! Except, not. The next time I went to his house that week,  I was on a mission. "I'm going to make his back feel so mind-blowingly good, it's crazy," I thought to myself the whole way there and the whole time during our session. He felt better, yes, but he didn't have the same glow of relief he'd had a few days before.

My weekend continued along those lines. I did more on my day off than on most work days. Yesterday, I woke up at 5, I ran six errands before my 10:30 client, finished all of my Spanish homework and got a 12 out of 10 on our weekly quiz. And woke up today with a huge pain in the neck. Folks, this is what I call over-efforting, and as of right now, I officially cut it out. I'm still going to get a lot done, and a 12 out of 10 on the Spanish quiz, but I'm going to relax while I do it. Thing is, I know for a fact everybody feels better if I just show up, listen and do my best.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Only Constant

I have a friend who's in a relationship that she knows is not going to last. Good for her. Because that knowledge is creating a lot of freedom. She feels more openness, more allowing.

Thing is, nothing lasts forever, not even our relationships. We might as well enjoy them rather than over-manage them.


"When we start to try and fix things--a very human and habitual choice--we lose contact with reality. Whatever it is that you are managing today, see it, observe it; all of its facets, aspects, weirdness and wonderfulness.

The moment you see it without trying to fix it, THAT is consciousness. And in that moment, there is a solution lingering in your observation." --Elena Brower


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Make Space

Yep, I can pretty much always be reminded to slow down. And there are so many signs that ask me to do just that. I take them all seriously; as though they were made for me to see in that moment.


"In honour of all the people who've preceded you, make space for patience, for release, for the most profoundly healing acceptance." --Elena Brower


Friday, April 19, 2013

Speak Only

Despite what you may have supposed from my last post, I have become totally media-addicted to the Boston bomber manhunt story. I told my voice teacher that I had been listening to talk radio all morning and was perplexed to find that some radio stations chose to continue to play songs. This is very unusual behavior for me. Typically, I can keep a healthy perspective on media, carry on with business as usual, and enjoy a good Stevie Wonder song when it comes on.

I mentioned to my voice teacher that I longed for the clarity I felt after returning home from my silent retreat. She decided to start our lesson, for the first time ever, with silence. I've never sung better.




If you can explain to me why someone gets to be the balloon in this image and the other person doesn't, I'd appreciate it. I like it anyway. I agree with what Bri Maya Tiwari says, "My voice is my most sacred power, I use it only to express my inner truth."

That's all I have to say.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Red Sox and the Yankees



I consider myself very lucky for many reasons. One of the reasons is that I have had the privilege to live in so many beautiful and unique places. My first urban love was Boston; I lived there from 1999 to 2003 while I studied at Emerson College. I came to know a certain kind of freedom during those years. I stayed up late, I stayed wherever I wanted, I ate, drank and smoked whatever I wanted. I learned how to play chess and fell in love for the first time. The first time I watched the Boston Marathon, I was bulldozed by awe and tingly all over. "Running 26 miles is so cool," I remember thinking, and I still do. I loved cheering on the runners in Boston and continued to marathon cheer when I moved to New York.

I didn't sleep very well last night because I was thinking about Boston. Boston is so small. And the incident where the bombs went off is so central and so many people so affected. I used to live right there. Seven people from my school got hurt, one of my friends missed being in the middle of it by a tiny act of fate. I poured over the news about it right before bed and probably looked at too many pictures.

Thing is, reading the news a lot, being distraught over what happened, worrying about whether or not it could happen again, doesn't make me a better person. In fact, it could make me a less healthy person. According to Morter, "[y]our conscious thoughts and attitudes dictate subconscious physiological responses over which you have no control. And subconscious physiological responses dictate health. Fill your conscious mind with gloom, doom, anger, guilt, and general negativity and your physiology will respond accordingly" (1997, 59).

In New York I learned about another kind of freedom: I decided I could be both a Yankees and a Red Sox fan. That decision wasn't particularly popular, but it was mine. In Taos, I have learned about yet another kind of freedom: freedom from negative thoughts. I am not going to stop reading the news, but instead of feeling afraid, I can pray. More and more studies are showing that praying works. And it is one of the few things I can give from this far away. The positive feelings I feel because of prayer, whether hope, sincerity, or peace are better for my physiology.

In honor of Patriot's Day, in honor of the heroes, the runners, and all of the people in Boston, I will choose freedom from negative thoughts.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Other People's Altars #2






“You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.” --Kahlil Gibran






Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Upward Facing Bow Pose



Sometimes, it is requested of me to make an announcement. I've announced the "upcoming teacher training" at the various studios I've worked for many years now. Occasionally, after class, someone will come up to me and say something like, "I'm interested in the teacher training, but, how many of the poses do I need to be able to do?" First of all I don't even know how many poses there are; BKS Iyengar's extremely informative book Light on Yoga lists 602 poses, but I'm not convinced that's all of them. I've been practicing yoga for 14 years, teaching for 6 and I have no idea how many poses I can do, the point is, that's not the point. When a potential teacher trainee asks me that question, I assure them to the best of my ability that they'll find out "the poses" don't really have that much to do with it. I encourage them to do teacher training to deepen their awareness of themselves, reality and yes, the practice of yoga.

I remember once though, I was also concerned with that question. Before I started teacher training, I thought often of how I had never done upward facing bow pose, also known as full wheel. I had never even tried to do it, I was too scared to even try. I came to yoga seriously when I was 21 because I had a pretty serious back injury and even after years of doing yoga, back-bending still felt dangerous and frightening. When I finally did my first full wheel, it with the help of all of my yoga school classmates. Our beautiful and very backbendy teacher taught us how to help someone into full wheel with the use of straps; she knew I had never done full wheel, so I was the guinea pig. I'll never forget the feeling of coming down out of the pose for the first time and not being in pain; I started crying I was so happy. On the way home, I caught a glance of myself in the reflection of the subway window, the person who was looking back at me was someone who could do full wheel pose, full wheel pose you guys, full wheel. Even though I could do full wheel, for years, I chose to skip it; just because I could do it didn't mean I wanted to.

Lucky for me I had a sleepover last night with the coolest animal on the planet, Smokey. Nothing beats spending time with Smokey, but I did miss the yoga class I usually go to on Tuesday mornings. It shocked me a little to realize why I missed going to class. See, at the end of this weirdo cool class I take, the teacher has us do full wheel for about a minute and while we do it, he tells us to relax. When I started taking the class and doing so much full wheel, I became aware of the voice inside of my head telling me how hard it was, and how much harder it was going to get the longer we stayed there. Then, somehow, I remembered that I don't have to believe everything the voice inside of my head says and that I can actually change what the voice inside of my head is saying. "This is so fun," I started silently saying to myself, "and easy too. God this is easy." Kids, I kid you not, now it is fun and easy. Hanging out in full wheel for a whole minute is actually one of my favorite things I do every week, goes to show I can change, anyone can. Goes to show the poses are just the beginning.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Smoothies and the Highway



A couple of months ago, I was hungry and in a hurry. When I lived in New York, it was a common practice of mine to call in a "to-go" order, but I don't see much of that in Taos. Feeling a little self-conscious, I called my favorite cafe and my favorite barista answered. I explained to him that I was short on time and that's why I was calling in advance and placing my order. When I got to the cafe, my smoothie was ready, the cafe was quiet, but my favorite barista was a wreck. He was acting all stressed out, he bustled me to the front of the line, had me pay and handed me my drink with great haste. As I left, I realized he had taken on my hurry. Somehow, he had felt responsible for me getting to wherever I was going on time. The kind of behavior he exhibited around my rush is something that I have been trying to eradicate within myself. My teacher Jen calls it "co-dependent" behavior. It comes up for a lot of us who have trouble with personal boundaries, or feel somehow responsible for other people's happiness or well-being.

I'm in Rogers, Arkansas right now. (Hi!) I am so grateful to be here; I'm staying at a nice hotel where the seminar I am taking is taking place. I really miss home; my hotel is in a huge parking lot that connects to other huge parking lots that connect to other hotels and restaurants and shops and eventually, a highway. Last night, as I settled into my room, I realized that I could hear the whir of the traffic from all the cars on the nearby heavily traveled road. Actually, I realized that I could even feel the energy created by all of those cars going so fast. Exhausted from travel and in need of a good night sleep, I worried I wouldn't rest well because of all that stuff. After getting under the covers, I rememberd that time with the rush and the smoothie. It's not going to help me or the highway if I take on its energy. I focused on my own breath and even the more peaceful rythyms of my body underneath my breath. I can't remember a time I've had a better night's sleep.