Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Happy New Year!




Thank you for making it another great year at tipsandtricks, dear readers!


Friday, December 26, 2014

The Etymology of a Kitten



I couldn't help but notice the kitten who was visiting my voice teacher from Albuquerque during our lesson this morning. She had a lampshade around her neck since she had just been neutered, and when she wasn't attempting to climb up my calf, she wrestled with the nearby indoor tree.

The kitten's name is Moxie. The Online Etymology Dictionary defines moxie first as courage, and refers to its history as the name of a soft drink and "before that, a patent medicine used to 'build up your nerve.'"

Courage comes from the french word for heart: le coeur. The french word corage means "heart, inner most feelings, temper."

After becoming smitten with said kitten and the message in her name, my voice teacher handed me a medal that says, "Be Brave."

There are messages everywhere, some are subtle and others are so dang adorable, you couldn't miss them if you tried.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Wisdom of Cousin Sally



A few weeks ago when I was on the phone with Cousin Sally, I told her I was feeling blue. She asked, "Do you know why?"

Ahhhh, the wisdom of Cousin Sally! What a patient and compassionate question. I was grateful to be able to answer it. But we don't always know why we feel the way we feel, and that's OK. Let's give those around us, and especially ourselves, time and space to feel our feelings even when we don't why we feel the way we do.

Friday, December 19, 2014

"Take the Power..."




"This life is yours. Take the power to choose what you want to do and do it well. Take the power to love what you want in life and love it honestly. Take the power to walk in a forest and be a part of nature. Take the power to control your own life. No one else can do it for you. Take the power to make your life happy." --Susan Polis Schutz

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

"Don't Complain"



I have been meaning to follow-up with you guys about what I said a few weeks ago, "Don't Complain, Don't Explain." I learned this maxim from my friend Emily Stone and practicing the Don't Explain part has been particularly enlightening for me. When thinking about the Don't Complain component, I always think of Maya Angelou, who endured great hardships, but was committed to not complaining.

In her book of essays, Wouldn't Take Nothing for My Journey Now, she tells a story about her grandmother's opposition to complaining.  When a "whiner" entered her grandmother's store, she would make sure Maya heard their lamenting:

"As soon as the complainer was out of the store, my grandmother would call me to stand in front of her. And then she would say the same thing she had said at least a thousand times, it seemed to me. 'Sister, did you hear what Brother So-and-So or Sister Much to Do complained about? You heard that?' And I would nod. Mamma would continue, 'Sister there are people who went to sleep all over the world last night, poor and rich and white and black, but they will never wake again. Sister, those who expected to rise did not, their beds became their cooling boards and their blankets became their winding sheets. And those dead folks would give anything, anything at all for just five minutes of this weather or ten minutes of that plowing that person was grumbling about. So you watch yourself about complaining Sister. What you're supposed to do when you don't like a thing is change it. If you can't change it, change the way you think about it. Don't complain.'
It is said that persons have few teachable moments in their lives. Mamma seemed to have caught me at each one I had between the age of three and thirteen. Whining is not only graceless, but it can be dangerous. It can alert a brute that a victim is in the neighborhood."

In other words, "God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference."



Friday, December 12, 2014

"That Spell is Broken"



Usually I feel fairly invincible to the depression that runs in my family, but not this week. This week, I have been full of gloom and feeling sad sad sad. Then a friend of mine said a couple of things to me that got me all triggered and insecure.

Last night, I woke up to what a crab-apple I was being. What my friend said were just words, illustrating her set of beliefs; I don't have to let them live in me. I smudged myself and my whole apartment saying out loud "That spell is broken." I got a good night sleep. This morning I did a short but strong yoga practice including yoga medicine called handstand and upward facing bow pose. I got the the gym before class and had a good stint of running on the treadmill, all the while saying to myself, "That spell is broken."

Thanks to the little bit of magic I know, that spell is broken.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Love Many Things

'

"Love many things. For therein lies the true strength. And whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well." 
 

Friday, December 5, 2014

Other People's Altars #4




"People are like stained glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within."

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Calling on Roadrunners



Yesterday on my way home from Ojo, I saw a roadrunner race across the highway about a hundred feet in front of me; its profile so distinctive I knew what it was right away. Finally getting around to reading Animal Speak today, I realize I sure could use some roadrunner juju.

Animal Speak says, "The roadrunner is actually a ground-dwelling cuckoo. It has almost lost the power of flight, but on rare occaisions they do fly. It can run as fast as 18 miles per hour.  The roadrunner teaches mental agility and speed. Those with this totem will think quickly and on their feet. The roadrunner will help you to shift your thought process with speed and agility."

Today's been funky so far: my 11 am client switched to 6:30 am, so I missed my favorite 7:30 yoga class. When my 6:30 client's session ended, I decided to stay in the neighborhood since my 9:30 am client lives just up the road. I had spent about a hour at Taos Cow, making some headway on my next piece for Vapour, when I got a message from my 9:30 am client, cancelling. This extra shift in the schedule left me at a loss, I thought about meeting up with Smokey to go for a walk, but felt cold, so I came home, turned up the heat and tried to get some more writing done. When the writing wasn't flowing, I opted to do 20 minutes of legs up the wall. The Restorative Yoga interlude was by far the best choice I could have made.

We all have changes in our program happen from time to time, and I'm learning more and more to roll with them. I used to have no idea what to do with myself when a client cancelled, and usually, I'd sit around and freak out about money. These days, I use unexpected free time to take care of myself, "The tail of the roadrunner works like an air brake. It facilitates stops and shifts in the mental process." Sometimes before you can shift, you have to stop.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Very Thankfully



This morning I taught a special extended version of my Friday morning class to honor the continuing practice of gratitude. I made a special playlist for it, which I forgot to synch to my phone, thus I had to use an old playlist. For whatever reason, this disappointed me so much that I struggled throughout the whole class to forgive myself, get over the awesome playlist I made, and be present. Thankfully, I was teaching presence which kept reminding me to be present.

Towards the end of class, I taught a gratitude meditation that I had adapted from a teacher named Davidji. During the meditation, I asked everyone to "bring awareness to your expansion, your perspective shifts, your ability to see growth and potential."

Very thankfully, I've been bringing my awareness to that stuff a lot lately. Just yesterday, I was reminded of Thanksgiving three years ago, my first in Taos. I had been totally stressed out about making food to bring to the gathering I was invited to. I had "cooked" a total of about 3 hours in my whole life before I moved here. I was anxious about the guacamole, I felt frazzled making hummus. Yesterday, without any angst, I made two pies from scratch, a shepherd's pie for the entree and a sweet potato pie for dessert.

I had high hopes the sweet potato one would be beautiful, and that I'd take a picture for Instagram and every other vegan celebrator on Insta would LOVE it. The pie wasn't pretty, not even attractive, but it tasted great. We're talking progress not perfection.

Reading from my meditation notes this morning, I felt 'the teachings I was teaching teaching me.' Just like A Course in Miracles says, "Do not forget that what you teach is teaching you."

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Not in Any Way Related to Being a Responsible Adult



Have I ever told you guys about the mail in Taos? Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, and sometimes it just takes an extra long time. Three times now, mail, on its way to me, with money in it, did not make it.

A few weeks back, I was expecting a check in the mail and it was taking a lot longer than I thought it would. I stopped at my mailbox early one morning to see if it had arrived, it hadn't. I worried about it for a few blocks and then something else grabbed my attention. After spacing out about whatever the other thing was, I straight up had the thought: "Wasn't I worrying about something?" I remembered that I had been worrying about whether or not that check was going to come, or if it had been lost forever, and just before I started to worry about it some more, I decided to cut myself off.

I'm learning in Al Anon that some of us feel more normal, or more in control of things we are not in control of, when worrying. I'm also learning that feeling more in control of what we are not in control of, is an illusion. And that worrying never ever does any good, ever. It is a waste of energy, a drain on personal power and not in any way related to being a responsible adult.

Just like how some folks have to cut themselves off from having another drink, some folks have to cut themselves off from over-thinking, worrying and obsessing. Easier said than done. But just like anything else, it gets easier with practice. Sometimes to stop myself from worrying, I take an action step towards a goal of mine. Sometimes I need to spend time with spirit; sitting at my altar, pulling a few tarot cards, doing savasana, or going for a hike. Sometimes, I plain old pray.

Praying, taking action steps, even doing savasana, never feel like an energy drain, indeed, they bolster my sense of personal power.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Makes You Stronger



"Troubles are often the tools by which God fashions us for better things"--Henry Ward Beecher

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Each Sun and Each Moon


Thanks to Teacher Training, I've spent a lot of the last few months genuinely focusing on balance. In the physical practice of yoga, we aim to achieve balance through the medium of the body. In Sanskrit, the physical practice of yoga is called Hatha; "Ha" means sun and "tha" means moon. Through the many postures and breathing practices of Hatha Yoga, Hatha Yogis set out to find a balance between their sun and moon sides. The lunar side of the body is the left side and the solar is the right.

During a weekend when we didn't have training, I had a chance to go to the Farmer's Market and get a palm reading from the local palm reader who comes very highly recommended. She looked at my non-dominant hand (my left) and called it my potential and she looked at my dominant hand (my right) to see what I was doing with my potential.

Ella Fitzgerald said “It isn't where you came from; it's where you're going that counts." And we can balance where we came from with where we're going by practicing presence in each moment. Present for how the sun is new as everyday and present for each moon, each ever-changing moon.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Support



"If you are feeling unsupported by Spirit, just know that from Spirit's perspective, there is nothing but support. Everything is support. To help bolster your alignment with Spirit, seek out a person, environment or non-living guide that is in a position of love, healing, compassion, knowledge or enlightenment for you."--Kay Kamala

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Lifelong Homework




I gave lots of homework these past few months at Yoga Teaching Training. Some of the homework I gave, Aura called "Lifelong Homework."

During a discussion on one of the last days, I gave our trainees the homework: "Don't Complain, Don't Explain," ever. For the rest of your life.

There's a lady here in town who signs up to sub a class for me and my friends. 95% of the time, right before the class she said she'd sub, she emails us, asking if we can sub it and explaining to us everything about her life. We know a lot about her kids, how her tires are not great in the snow, and how she and her band are frequently offered gigs last minute. I don't mean to be harsh but, I don't want to know that stuff! It's none of my business! Unless you're my friend, and even when you're my friend, I don't need to know why you can't sub my class.

"Don't Explain" is good lifelong homework and shows up everywhere, not just in yoga subbing kerfuffles. I like to practice not explaining when I mess up and someone's calling me on it. Explaining can shed light on why I messed up, sure, but lots of times, it's defensive. These days I practice keeping my apologies clean. Often, all I need to do is apologize.

I have more awareness around my "Don't Explain" practice now than I have previously. Before I start to explain, a little voice in my head asks, "Will explaining help?" And very occasionally the answer is "Yes, if you explain, this person won't get their feeling hurt." But usually the answer is "No."

As often happens, I caught myself being extreme. "Ever," and "For the rest of your life," don't fit. As with anything, there are exceptions. And awareness helps. "No, thank you," can be a complete sentence. And clean apologies rock.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Finish Each Day



"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense." --Ralph Waldo Emerson

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The tipsandtricks Muscle



This week from Saturday the 1st to Saturday the 8th, Aura and I are teaching the last week of teacher training every day from 8 to 5. I've had so much lecture writing to do lately and I've felt like I haven't had the amount of energy I want to give tipsandtricks when it comes down to writing it.

But when I think twice about it, I remember I'm keeping my promise. I promised myself that I would write tipsandtricks every Tuesday and Friday, and I have. I didn't promise myself that tipsandtricks would always be good. Of course I like it better when tipsandtricks is good; but tipsandtricks is about practice and progress, not perfection. From flexing the tipsandtricks muscle often and not just when I feel divinely inspired, I know I'm better equipped to show up when inspiration does strike.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Planting Seeds




"So often we bury things [inside] us [that] we should have planted." --Davidji

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The Mightiest Force



"To deal gently with our fellowman is suggested in St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians: the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, gentleness...

The same thought appears in the fable of the wind and the sun, who challenged one another as to which could first remove the cloak of a passing traveler. As the wind blew hard and cold, the man wrapped the cloak tightly around him; the the sun shone, and its warmth made the man take off his cloak.

Kindness is the mightiest force in the world..."

Friday, October 24, 2014

Any Posture We Find Ourselves In



In yoga, we learn that tension is a form of resistance. This is is easily demonstrated in the postures we take on our mats; we separate ourselves from the poses by tensing our shoulders or wishing the teacher wasn't teaching plank. The same is true for any posture we can find ourselves in in life. I create stress every time I do something while wishing I was doing something else. I create strain when someone's talking to me and I'm not really listening. I create tension every time I wish things were different than they are.

Deepak knows what I'm talking about, "Your mind blocks the free flow of energy by saying, 'This is how things must and should be.' Letting go releases you from this insistent grip, and when you let go, new forms of reality can enter." One day, plank gets easier and the way things are suddenly make perfect sense; these 'new forms of reality' will not be experienced if we let resistance win.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

The Gallbladder Wants to Feel Free



My acupuncturist has been teaching me a thing or two about the gallbladder meridian. In the last few years, I have had my fair share of reoccurring physical complaints around said meridian. When I ask her what else I can do for my gallbladder, she gives me elusive answers that I enjoy, "The gallbladder wants to feel free." "Like, how do you mean?" I ask. "Like taking a different route home from work, or screaming if you want to."

In a such a small town, there really are only a few routes home from work, but I'll do my best. Maybe I'm fooling myself, but I haven't felt too much like screaming, we make funny noises a lot in voice lessons.

I guess my gallbladder meridian has been coming up to show me how truly rebellious I am. Aura and I wrote a sequence together that I'm supposed to teach verbatim for the kids who are in our yoga school; I've had several chances to do it now, and I still haven't. Funny to find out that teaching a class directly from a plan feels too obedient; I used to teach from plans pretty regularly. Yoga school also asks of me to be organized enough to prepare my lunch to bring with me and eat during our midday break. At school, I've actually been eating a whole complete lunch, which is so not my stilo; typically, I like to snack throughout the day and then have dinner.

For the sake of my gallbladder in the midst of all of this structure, I've been cutting up whenever I can. The other day, I got in my friend's hot tub in the middle of the day, even though I had a ton of work to do. I took a nap at 10:30 am. And one time, after my proper lunch at yoga school, I came home and had granola and chocolate for dinner. May all gallbladders everywhere be happy and free.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Dance/Balance



As my teacher Kay says, a balance between structure and flow.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Small Town Hygiene



A friend of mine recently had a job interview. Clearly, it went well, the company she interviewed with asked her to create a mock media campaign for an upcoming movie they're releasing. She did a bang up job with it, I know cuz she let me look at it.

She never heard back from the company, and a week after she sent in her mock campaign, she looked at their website and they had re-posted the job; she didn't get it.

When we were talking about it the other day, I got kinda pissed. I don't think it's cool that they never contacted her. A simple "Thank you for applying," at least, would have been courteous. Even though I felt disgruntled, I know that's the way it works. As my friend said, "It's New York, they don't care about little old me."

I've only been out of New York for three years, but I've gotten used to the way things are here. In a small town like Taos, if you don't want to go to therapy anymore, you tell your therapist, you don't just skip your next appointment and then never show up again. And you'd better tell your landlord if your rent is going to be late; and dissolve your affairs kindly. Your therapist, landlord and ex-lover all shop at the same grocery store you do and ya'll are going to run into each other. Mike calls this small-town-inspired honesty "Small Town Hygiene." And I've come to believe Small Town Hygiene is the way to live, even in big cities. It's good for all of us to give our hairdresser another chance after they screw-up royally on our color. And if they bungle it the next time, then it's good for us to be honest and kind when we tell them we're going to try another colorist. Allowing people the change is part of Small Town Hygiene. Sometimes the guy who used to be a jerk to his wife quits drinking, or your hairdresser gets their shit together. Forgive, do your best, and keep your relationships clean, the small town way.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Acts of Kindness are Generally Received Well




I lied. I have not been able to completely trust my Higher Power's plan for the dog who lives across the street.

On a walk recently, I couldn't help but notice he seemed sad. And then I couldn't stop thinking about him for the rest of the day, and even into the next day. Since we're being honest, I guess you could say I'm having trouble with my Higher Power's plan for the dog. Meanwhile, I know there are many dogs, people and other creatures out there who have it much worse than this one. And sometimes when I have that thought, I feel strong and I pray. And other times I have that thought, I don't feel strong and again, I pray.

The way it hit me the other day, I had to do more than pray. I took a big chewy bone with me to the mailbox to get my mail. When it seemed like nobody was looking, I threw the treat into the dog's yard, as close as I could get it to him. Turns out, as close as I could get it to him wasn't good enough; the bone landed about 2 feet away from where the dog could reach with his mouth, since he's tied up with a chain. My heart pounding, I walked up the dog's driveway, the dog barking fiercely, and I used my mail to pick up the bone and toss it a little closer to him. Happily, he snagged it, stopped barking, and I scurried away.

When I got to my car, I heard a man yelling and I turned around to see it was the dog's person. "What were you doing in my yard?" he shouted. "I was giving your dog a treat," I said. "Oh, okay," he shrugged and turned away. "Thank goodness," I thought. Acts of kindness are generally received well.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Tears and Laughter



"I would not exchange the laughter of my heart for the fortunes of the multitudes; nor would I be content with converting my tears...into calm. It is my fervent hope that my whole life on this earth will ever be tears and laughter." --Kahlil Gibran

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Not Saying "F*ck It"




After my big plans got dashed by road construction the other week, I didn't say "F*ck it." I didn't give up and surrender the 15 minutes extra minutes I had to stare at the Facebook feed on my phone. I put on my big girl running shoes and went for a walk, even though it was less than half of the walk I was hoping to go on.

Not saying "F*ck it," is another fabulous thing I've learned from my teacher Jen. Don't say "F it,"  after eating 1/2 of a chocolate bar on a lonely night as impetus to eat the other half. Don't say "F it," after saying something you might regret to someone as a reason to say more mean stuff. And don't say "F it," when your big plans to be out in nature get rained on. Do what you can with what you've got, you'll feel better now, and tomorrow too.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Likely to Get What I Want



"I'm more likely to get what I want when I ask for it."--Judith Hanson Lasater

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Angels of Libra



This morning, I got caught red-handed again with an agenda. With extra work recently, I haven't been spending as much time outside as I'd like, especially since it's my favorite time of year. To celebrate fall equinox today, I got up extra early to do my morning routine and have enough time to go for a little hike before my 9:30 client. Everything was going according to plan until it started to pour down rain; which incidentally is another one of my main things, especially in the desert, but not today.

I abandoned my plan and sat down with Nature Speak, a great resource on all things Autumn. There's a section in there on the Angels of Libra who "...assist us during this month to awaken intuitive perception as to how best to balance our life...They awaken the search for balance."

Oh Angels of Libra, you're so right: what I really need right now is less go-go-go and more time at home. Thank you, dear ones.

Friday, September 19, 2014

This Little Space in Between



"[God is] not in you or me but just this little space in between. If there's any kind of magic in this world it must be in the attempt of understanding someone sharing something."--Celine, Before Sunrise

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"What Is"



This past weekend, I shared a hotel room with my teacher Jen at the B.E.S.T. training.
I got there several hours before she did, picked my side of the room, my bed and unpacked my stuff. When I went down to dinner, I texted Jen, letting her know where I was in case she got in and wanted to join me. Also, I wanted to let her know that I was happy to move my things if she had a strong preference about where she wanted to put her luggage. She wrote back, "I'm happy with What Is." Capitalized W, capitalized I, kinda like how we capitalize God.

I took note of her reverence and didn't really think about it again until yesterday. Yesterday morning, I got up extra early to do yoga, meditate, make a green juice, pack my lunch and get to Ojo in time to do the loop before my 9 am class. Although I had left plenty of time for those particular tasks, I did not leave time for the road construction, which constricts the two lane highway to Ojo to a one lane road and causes delays. As I sat in the standstill, sad for the prospects of my walk, I remembered that What Is is capitalized and thus worthy of my respect. I made it to Ojo with enough time for a brisk hike up to the Round Barn and back. Turns out What Is might be just as great, if not even better than "the way I think it should be," which you'll notice is not capitalized.

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Guru Principles Continues



I've written about the guru principle before but it's worth revisiting, and often. According to Thomas Ashley-Farrand, "The true guru is a principle that resides in your own heart and will lead you as you are ready, on your spiritual journey of many winding paths. In Sanskrit, this guru principle is called the upaguru, or the 'teacher without form.'"

I'm at another B.E.S.T. training this weekend and as usual, there are parts of it that I truly resonate with and parts I truly don't. I love the expression "Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater;" and I'm not going to dismiss all of the good stuff I'm learning because parts of the training feel flawed.

Farrand continues, "The main point to keep in the forefront of your mind is that any external teacher is useful to your spiritual progress only so long as he or she presents an accurate reflection of what your inner teacher is trying to show you. The moment the outer teacher does not reflect the inner teacher, then the outer teacher is a hindrance."

That's right kids, outer teachers are there simply to put us in touch with our inner teachers. Farrand closes us out with, "But never forget that even the greatest teachers are merely servants of your own inner guru."

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Chakra Clearing




It's been a while since we've talked about smudging, but I still think it's a good idea and I smudge on a regular basis. I love having a solid, tangible way to CLEAR energy.

Last night, I smudged myself before doing a simple full moon ritual. Typically when I smudge myself or somebody else, I go up the chakras. The chakras make a great map because they are metaphysical centers with physical locations. Yesterday before my ritual, I added each chakra's seed affirmation, followed by the word "clear," and my prayer felt more powerful thanks to its verbal confirmation.

To clear energy in and around you, using a smudge stick, light your smudge stick and:

Lift up the sole of one foot and wave the smoke of the sage onto that sole and then the other sole of your foot and then all the way up your inner legs into the bowl of your pelvis. While doing so, breathe and say, "I Am Clear." 

Move the smoke and the smudge stick in front and in back and around the sides of your pelvis and sense, "I Feel Clear."

Shift the stick and the smoke up to the front, back and sides of your belly and intend "I Will Clear."

Draw the smudge and its smoke up to all of the sides of your heart, every last corner of your heart and claim, "I Love Clear."

Swirl the smoke around all parts of your neck and throat and announce, "I Speak Clear."

Gently bring the smoke near the space in between your eyebrows and recognize out loud, "I See Clear."

And lastly, open the smoke to the area above the crown of your head, moving it in all directions around the crown of your head and realize, "I Know Clear."

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Greatest Hits Tipsandtricks 2013-2014



 Thank you dearest sweet readers! It's been another great trip around the sun here at tipsandtricks. These are the greatest hits tipsandtricks from this last year. I realized today that this is *my* blog and I can do whatever I want, so there's 11 hits instead of 10. Yay for doing whatever I want!

Love, Ash









8. Prasad



Friday, August 29, 2014

"We Have a Cat."



After our first full day of yoga school last weekend, I got home, had dinner and fired up an episode of one of my new favorite shows, Srugim. About 10 minutes into the show, I began to hear meowing, pretty darn loud. I ignored it for a few minutes until I couldn't anymore and got up to look out the window. Laying down on my deck, with its face and voice-box pointed right at my front door was a fluffy grey cat. That's a first.

I break the vegetarian guidelines at my house in the name of Smokey all the time; Smokers is so far completely uninterested in anything meat-free. But would the cat like the dog food? I settled on some leftover hummus which I put on a dish and then out in the yard.

The next morning when I left, the hummus was gone and the cat was still there. When I saw my neighbor she promptly informed me that, "We have a cat." "So I see," I said. But neither one of us has seen much of the cat since.

Animal Speak talks about how cats are comfortable after dark, and are therefore associated with magic and mystery, "The truth is that cats have more rods in the retinas of their eyes, which enhances light perception. It enables them to see effectively in the dark." To see light, even in the dark, is a heck of a gift. Walt Whitman says "Every moment of light and dark is a miracle." So far I have a strong preference for moments of light; guess that's why I'm still in yoga school, I have more work to do on feeling neutrality.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

"It's a Fire"




"[Love] is a fire. If you're paying attention, it is a vehicle for transformation. That's why we all want it."--Kay Kamala

Friday, August 22, 2014

Start Packing


One time, I was completely overwhelmed about moving to a new apartment. I stressed and stressed, and then I picked up packing tape. I went to the bodega on the corner and got some old boxes and then I stressed some more.

When I finally acutally started wrapping things in newspaper and putting them in boxes, I felt *so* much better.

Same is true for my lecture preparation for this weekend of teacher training. I culled resources, I looked through all my favorite quotes, I listened to some lectures, and I stressed. When I at last stopped gathering and started writing, I relaxed.

Action is where it's at. James Russell Lowell was hip to action, "All the beautiful sentiments in the world weigh less than a single lovely action." You'll feel better when you start packing.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

My Barefoot Yoga Mat



I'm a lucky gal to say that the last three new yoga mats that came into my possession were gifted to me. Out of these three, there's for sure a favorite. It's my Barefoot Yoga Hybrid Eco Mat.

Being eco-friendly is very important to me, but over the years, most of my eco-friendly mats have fallen apart awfully quickly, so I've had my doubts about re-investing in one. This one, however, is solid; it's not going anywhere anytime soon.

Another thing that hasn't been my favorite about my previous eco-friendly mats is their hue. I enjoy bright colors. I go to the salon because I like it when my hair is bright, and I like it when my yoga mats are bright, too. Typically, eco-friendly mats are muted, earthy colors that just aren't my thing. My Hybrid Eco Mat is bright yellow for my 3rd Chakra, which can always use some extra help.

Tomorrow I'm starting yoga teacher training again. This time though, instead of paying to do it, I'm getting paid to do it. I'll be giving more presentations and doing more practice teaching because of my seven years of full-time yoga teaching. And my super solid 3rd Chakra eco-friendly mat is decidedly doing the training with me.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Two is Not Better than One



I been feeling this whole Robin Williams thing. The other day on CBS Sunday Morning, there was a clip of him from one of his one man shows. He had some joke about if one is good, then an alcoholic asks excitedly, "What happens if I take four?"

Earlier this summer, I had a very similar conversation with a friend of mine who had recently quit drinking. She noticed that one drink had lasted me all evening and she mentioned that she could never have just one, which is why she stopped.

Although it's been a while since I've felt the strong urge to have more than one alcoholic drink, I know all about the "two must be even better," feeling. The feeling happens sometimes when I get a shirt I really like, then, as fast as I can, I get another one in a different color. Invariably, the second one doesn't fit as well, or that second color isn't as great as the first, and it usually spends 6 months to a year in my closet before getting taken to the consignment shop. And the first shirt, which never did anything wrong, someone looses its luster, almost as if the second one dragged their average down.

I think it's time to start applying all the good learning I've been doing around patience to my desire for material objects. Next time I find myself voraciously wanting another one of something I already have, I'll think twice.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Take Offense



A few weeks ago, I heard this super smart lady talk about the term "take offense." She said it implies that in order to be offended, she has to decide to "take" offense.

Yesterday, I texted someone a question and while I was texting, I asked myself, "If they say 'no,' will my feelings get hurt?" Then I realized it was up to me, and decided that it wouldn't. I even wrote in the text to them, "If you say no, I won't get my feelings hurt." Nope, I'm not going to get my feelings hurt, at least this one time. And maybe next time too. It's up to me; what a relief.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

You Are Invited!




Dearest Readers,

I wanted to take a special blog post just to make sure you know you're invited to the retreat I'm leading with my friend Liz this January in Guatemala.

Here are the details:

It's called Chakras and Chocolate!
It's with me and my wonderfully talented friend, Liz Passman.
It's from January 24th-31st, 2015.

It's going to be an exquisite week of rejuvenation and inspiration on the shores of Lake Atitlan.

It's a seven day retreat, and during that time, you will journey into openness and freedom through the power of physical yoga, breath-work, meditation and cacao. Using these practices, we will explore and open the seven chakras. Each day will begin with a morning flow class and each evening will culminate with a restorative class. You'll get a chance to find balance between effort and ease, moving and then ultimately, letting go. Then, after connecting to source and highest knowing: on the last day, we will participate in a Cacao Ceremony with a Chocolate Shaman. Sacred cacao (chocolate in its purest form) will assist your transformation and continued journey as you take your practice out of retreat setting and back to home setting. There will be optional group excursions to the gorgeous nearby volcanoes and into town for market. There is also a spa at Villa Sumaya, and you can make any of the renewing therapies offered there part of your week as well. And of course, there will be plenty of time to commune with yourself, your book and to just contemplate the sky, sitting by the lake, lounging in a shaded hammock, or relaxing in the hot tub. 

The retreat package includes:

* A 7 night stay at the gorgeous Villa Sumaya

* 3 delicious and nourishing vegetarian meals daily

* 2 yoga classes a day

* A Sacred Cacao Ceremony

* Unlimited Tea and Coffee Service

* Unlimited Filtered Drinking Water

* Guatemalan Taxes

**We can accommodate gluten-free/dairy free upon request

Add-On Options Include:

* Any/all of the 3 Planned Group Excursions

* Any/all of the fabulous treatments offered in the Harmony Spa

* Chicken or Fish added to meals

This retreat is perfect for all levels of yoga experience; it is ideal for any and all ages, families, friends, couples, or individuals who want to come by themselves. It is a perfect opportunity to continue with your already strong daily practice or to jump-start your 2015 commitment to yourself and your health. These practices combined with this awe-inspiring and healing setting will transform you.

*Airfare and ground transportation not included* *Ground transportation can be easily arranged through Villa Sumaya*

Pricing:

Early Bird Discount:
If you sign up by October 1st
Prices range between $1,200-$1,520
A Screaming Deal!

After October 1st
Prices range between $1,375-$1,695

*rates depend on occupancy and room availability*

To secure your spot, we'll need at $500 non-refundable deposit, and then the remainder of your balance will be due November 24th, 2014.

I hope you can come! Please email me at ashebey@gmail.com with any questions or to sign up. 






Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Other People, Other Dogs




I'm only a baby at Al-Anon, I haven't started the steps yet, but I've been averaging about a meeting a week and I gotta tell you: it really helps.

In Al-Anon, we work on trusting our "Higher Power," and thus, our Higher Power's plan.

There's this dog who lives in my neighborhood. I've never seen him on a walk and I've never seen him go into the house with his people; he is always tied up outside. In the winter, in the summer, he's tied up outside, sometimes he lays peacefully and sometimes he barks at people or cars and it completely breaks my heart.

The other morning when I was getting my mail he barked at me, and instead of feeling sorry for him like I usually do, I had a little something to say to my Higher Power. I said, "I love that dog and I believe in your divine plan for that dog." It felt so good to think that that I kept thinking it, silently to myself, all the way to yoga and even during yoga class. I realized it's none of my business to feel sorry for other people, other dogs, whatever, or whoever. It's my business to trust my Higher Power and when I do, I trust that my Higher Power has a better plan than I could ever even imagine.

Friday, August 8, 2014

It's Your Thing



 "It is better to do your own duty badly, than to perfectly do another;
you are safe from harm when you do what you should be doing."


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Hummingbirds Are Kind of a Big Deal




Hummingbirds have been everywhere lately. Lots of times, hummingbirds mistake my ristra wreath for a flower, there's almost always one around the yurt at Ojo, and sometimes it even seems like one might think I'm a flower when I'm out on my deck having a smoothie and it gets awfully close.

Swami Satchidananda talks about the name "God" versus the word "OM" in his translation of the Yoga Sutras. "...'God' is also a limited [name] because the very vibrations of the letters are limited. So Patanjali wants a name that can give an unlimited idea and vibration and which can include all vibrations, all sounds and syllables, because God is like that--infinite. So Patanjali says His name is 'Mmmm..' We can't easily say 'Mmmm,' so it is written OM."

We OM in yoga class to connect to the source through the vibration that is the source. That vibration is in me and it's in you and, clearly, it's in hummingbirds; when we OM together, we do it to be reminded of that. Hummingbirds are always OMing and next time you see one, you can OM with it, even if it's just silently to yourself; or, like in yoga class, you can choose just to listen. As Satchidananda says, "But you need not hum to feel God's presence. There's no need to create him, but just to feel him in you. If you close your eyes and ears, sit quietly, allow the mind to be completely silent and then listen within, you will hear Him humming. He talks to us always, but we talk (read: think) so loud we fail to hear his speech."

Friday, August 1, 2014

Yoga Sutra 1.14



I had a B.E.S.T. client a few days ago who asked, "How long do I have to do this for?" I told him that my clients who get the most out of B.E.S.T. are the ones who come every week.

Yoga Sutra 1.14 says, "Practice becomes firmly grounded when well attended to for a long time, without break and in all earnestness." It is my experience that anything that's good for you, that's worth doing, is even better for you if you commit to it and make it part of your life.

People who "diet" often don't get long-lasting results because they only want to commit to their diet for a finite period of time. Changing habits, whether it's adopting Meatless Mondays, or developing a routine around walking everyday, or any other number of "lifestyle" changes, is what will ultimately make a difference in our lives. And new and healthier habits are different for everybody; just because your neighbor started working with a personal trainer doesn't mean you should too.

Swami Satchitananda, in his commentary on Yoga Sutra 1.14  says, "And the last qualification: in all earnestness. That means with full attention, with the entire application of your mind, and with full faith in your achievement."

If you commit to Meatless Mondays, but really wish you were eating steak, it won't work. Surrender to your choice and let it change you. When I decided to try being vegan, it was the end of January, I thought I'd give it a go until my birthday, which is in the middle of March. That was 3 and a half years ago. It was the right choice for me, I committed to it then and I commit to it again every new day, so far.

Leonardo Da Vinci said "It's easier to resist at the beginning than at the end." Give yourself a good chunk of time to try your new habit and let go of any resistance to it. Patanjali says "a long time," but he doesn't say how long.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Patanjali's Sword



Just last night, I was reading Patanjali's Yoga Sutras thinking, "I wonder when Jennifer's going to teach us the Ashtanga Opening Chant." When I showed up in class today, she said, "I feel intuitively it's time for us to start learning the chant." And so we did.

Jennifer talked a little bit about the chant and Patanjali. Patanjali is the sage who we can thank for the Yoga Sutras, and therefore the living tradition of yoga. Jennifer says he's depicted holding a sword, (and other things too) and his sword is the sword of discernment. This symbol points to the true guru being  you; we are the ones who decide what is true for ourselves.

Ohmygosh, totally. I have been thinking about that so much lately. A few weeks ago, I was telling my teacher Jen (different Jen from the Jennifer mentioned above!) about something that happened and she told me that I could have done better by that thing that happened. Listening to her feedback, I just knew in my heart that what she was saying wasn't true for me. I knew I had done the best I could have, at that time, with that particular hand I had been dealt. I thought about telling her, "No, you're wrong!" But I decided it was OK, although I respect her opinion infinitely, what really matters, is what I think. That very same day, I was at an intersection about to make a left turn. The car driving towards me had its left turn signal on. Entering the intersection, the car slowed down, I presumed to take the left that it was signalling, so I began slowly to make my left too. Wouldn't ya know, that car came barreling through, not left, but straight and thankfully, I stopped before it plowed into my car. The lady in the car was not happy, she clenched her fists in the air and yelled something at me. To my great surprise I was only a tiny ruffled by this incident and not at all by the lady. I knew she had her turn signal on. She thought I was wrong, whereas I knew I had done everything I could with all of the information that was presented to me.

Baron Baptise is with me on this one, "You don't need people's permission or approval to act on what you know in your heart is right." But, as always, use caution when heavy machinery is involved.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Courage



"Courage is fear that has said its prayers." --Dorothy Bernard

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

To Make An Altar


 I'll never forget the day that my friend Pepper first came over to my place almost 10 years ago. She looked around confused and said, "Where's your altar?"

At the time, to make an altar was exactly the project I needed to connect me to spirit and to remind me of spirit, right there in my tiny apartment. A few years later, I went to yoga teacher training, where it was a requirement to have an altar. If you didn't have one, make one pronto, and thanks to Pepper, I felt ahead of the curve. These days, I even bring an altar with me when I travel: a few reminders I set up after I've arrived where I'm staying.

Lots of times, I ask my clients if they have a meditation practice. In B.E.S.T., we do lots of the learning about how our body's are constantly physiologically responding to our thoughts. Taking time to meditate: to connect with breath (source) and witness our thoughts is a great reminder that we are not our thoughts; we don't even have to think our thoughts and we certainly don't have to believe them.

If you don't yet have a meditation practice but you want one, make an altar somewhere in your home. Mindfully place a book of inspirational quotes, a picture of someone you love or a stone that reminds you of whatever you believe in. Pepper and I promise you that the creative power that created you is worth spending some time with.

Friday, July 18, 2014

This Fabulous Client of Mine



The other day, I asked this fabulous client of mine what else she does (besides B.E.S.T.) for wellness. 

She replied, "EVERYTHING, even if it's bad for me." 

Word up and such a good reminder. 

Writing tipsandtricks when it's past my bedtime, skipping meditation or exercise, or having a glass of wine is a way to practice wellness. It's called balance, people. And we can go out of balance in *any* direction.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Focus on Yourself



I drew the Four of Swords card again today. Its message is so different now than it was two and a half years ago when it came up on the road trip with Melissa.

Thanks to Al-Anon and even to spending more time with Tarot cards, I am so much better at focusing on myself. Way back when, the Truce card seemed to be about situations with other people, and of course, it still could be. But the "four peaceful principles" that it refers to, are such a great way for us each to relate to ourselves. Who better to experience a truce with than yourself?

I will use the Truce card as medicine for everyday. Everyday, I will: 1. Show up 2. Pay attention 3. Tell the truth (especially to myself!) and, 4. I will (do my best to) not be attached to outcomes.

I don't always like it, but *everything* is a reflection. If you want other people to be present with you, be present with yourself. If you want other people to pay attention to you, you need to pay attention to yourself. If you want other people to be honest with you....you get the idea. I am by no means an expert on this, I still need a lot of practice, and it can still feel very challenging. But I sincerely agree with Aldous Huxley when he said, "There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self." And before I can improve myself, I need to show up for myself.