Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Promise of Summer

The birdsong is constant, all you have to do is listen.  The sun is strident, a force on the body as heavy as gravity.  The green is relentless, creeping out from crevices too small to contain it.  And the wind carries on the promise of summer.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Hapless

It was an accident.  Freak, unfortunate, random act of shit.  But like many of those horrible events that permanently alters the course of one's life, it happened.  And much like those events, it couldn't be undone.

But she didn't know that yet.  And she plummeted into the bottomless pit of self hatred searching for a way to change that past.  She could not forgive because she still hoped that by hating she could somehow alter the course of her life.  She could not let go because she still believed that by holding on she would be able to force another path, another future.  One that wasn't based in the pain she'd experienced.

And so her journey became what it was, because she couldn't release what it couldn't be.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Face Value

There's no sense in lying, he thinks.  Who would know anyway?  Random strangers believe whatever they take at face value.  And wherever he went, all anyone ever saw was the face.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Ether

Everything is everything- that's been one of the lessons here.  And although our practices haven't specifically touched on it they don't have to because of that.  Because in everything- every element, every person, every experience, every moment- there is life.  A universal life force that energizes everything.

We are all connected- on a cellular level.  Whether we know it or not, whether we notice it or not.  My breath is the same breath that fills the lungs of all living things- even the trees, the plants, the ocean breathes.  My movement comes from the same energy that every life system uses- nutrients in, energy out.  My manifestation is the same.  My body feeds off the sunlight the same as everything in this world- all of it dependent on the life-giving light.   The same water molecules fill my body as those that make the waves of the ocean undulate.

There is no difference, not really.  When we consider the smallest, simplest components we are all made of the same things.  Not just the four elements- but that fifth element, the one the scholars talk about.  It's in us, in all things, all life the same. 

We don't have to search for it, we don't have to toil to reach nirvana, we don't have to try and strive and push and struggle to try to achieve it- it's already in us.  Just breathe- it's there.  Just listen to your heart beat- it's there.  Just sweat- it's there.  Just feel and hear and feel and smell and see- it's there, it's there, it's there.  Not separate, always connected.

We are all made of the same things.  We are all connected.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Earth

A single blade of grass.  Sand sticking to the sides of your feet.  The smell of pine needles and moss in the forest.  A small yellow dandelion.  Everywhere, everywhere are reminders of home.  My mother, Gaia, keeping me grounded and calling me back when my head gets too far up into the clouds.  Sit, she says.  Stay.  Be.

So I do...

Friday, May 27, 2016

Air

She breathed and she felt it- the life force entering her lungs, filling her body, moving her forwards.  She felt it along the surface of her skin: sometimes like the gentle caress of a lover, sometimes with the force of a shove.  She heard it whistling through her ears and howling over the bluffs towards the ocean.  And she smelled the sweet scent of the sea of it as she inhaled.

And she remembered, or made a promise to remember, that this was the connector- the invisible power giving her and the world around her life.  That this same stuff that filled her filled everything else- every animal, every plant, every part of this world she called home.  Always part of, never separate, breathing in and breathing in one unbroken loop, forever.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Fire

The sun awoke her with unrelenting heat.  It beat against her back through the open window and her skin began spitting perspiration before her mind rallied for movement.  The elements seemed to demand her attention, her action.  "I am here," it demanded.  "Get up."

As she moved through the day she felt it- beating down on her scalp, pushing up the back of her neck, filling her face with solid, heavy weight.  The weight of the sun, just as real as gravity, pushing from above rather than pulling from below.  Her skin rose to meet it and the pigment erupted and darkened.  A chemical change within her very cells as they reacted to the immutably powerful orb above.

And she remembered, always reminded, that her own sun shared these qualities.  The heat that her own body generated.  The strength of her movement, her muscle,  her core.  And she radiated outwards just as powerfully.  The sun and she, she and the sun, one and the same.

And she was.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Ocean

She had forgotten.  She hadn't realized that the memory was there until the scent crept into her nostrils again.  The salt, the rotting, the dampness.  The foam and mist and violent summer storms.  The waves and sand and crustaceans.  The tumultuous cycle of life, death and rebirth in undulating rhythm.  The rocking and bobbing of the boat, the swirling of the eddy.  

All of these lived inside of her, just as surely as her heart pumped blood.  And they followed the same rhythm.  The same violence and peace, the same cycle of life and death and rebirth, the same rocking and bobbing.  Her blood moved in the same fluid waves, a smaller ocean inside of her.

She breathed in, fully, and swallowed.  Willing her body to take in the nourishment, to consume the nutrients, to absorb.  She felt the mist on her face and begged her skin to open to it, to let it in.  She leaned back and felt the moisture turn warn with the baking sun above.  And she prayed her mantra: "Thank you, thank you, thank you."

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Dice

It was a sound Morg was unfamiliar with and it startled him from sleep, leading his body to jolt upright well before his mind could begin to guess the cause.  He looked around, straining his neck against the metal breast plate and cursing the armor he felt too vulnerable to take off while sleeping.

All around him the world gave an idyllic picture of serenity.  The birds chirping and singing, the mist on the early morning grass threatening to turn wet and warm as the sunlight began to creep, slowly, over the hill.  The pumping motion of some animal in a tree branch as it dug for insects or perhaps syrup.  Morg turned and turned, looking for the sound that had awoken him and found it nowhere.  He also found no other soldiers in camp.

At this he jumped up, grabbed his helmet and sheath, and ran to load his horse.  The other animals were still there, tied to the same tree they had been we he slept, and there was no sign of the others having packed anything to depart.  Morg scanned the scattered belongings for signs of struggle or a fight when he heard the sound again- a light clacking or something with a smoother surface hitting, bouncing and landing.

Morg ran toward it, drawing his sword as he did so, leaving the blade until he could find a stance to defend.  Down the hill he clattered, his armor rumbling like a topple of pots and pans in some poorly organized kitchen.  He jumped a large bounder and landed hard in a stone courtyard he hadn't seen and been aware of only a moment before.

"What in the gods anthems are you doing?" Lox yelled at him.

Morg straightened and looked up at the familiar forms of his fellows, sitting or kneeling or in Lox's case decidedly sprawling on the stone.  Between them was a circle in the stone, a large flat space where the grass and moss hadn't overgrown the ruins, and in that circle were cubes of bone carved with patterns on the faces.

"Oh, ignore him- you're rolling or I'm slitting your throat and taking the coins the old fashioned way," Berks said, pushing Lox with his boot.

Lox, clearly having already tasted the wine that morning, grabbed up the cubes and cradled them in his hands, blowing and then seemingly talking to the small objects.

Morg observed this with puzzlement, his brain unable to define it and sorting through a list of options.  Were these sacred objects being used to cast some circle of protection?  No, certainly not with Lox wielding them, despite his ritualistic treatment of them at the moment.

"Get on with it!" Berks called, and lifted his foot for another push.

Lox drew his dagger from it's hidden sheath in the arm hole of his armor and held it Berks' shoe- the tip pressing into the bottom and threatening to penetrate if he pushed any further forward.  He shot him the death stare, the one he swore he'd used to turn a man to stone once when the gods had still blessed him, and Berks withdrew.

Then, as if tossing aside a bone he'd cleared of me, he let the cubes fall from his hand.  Morg heard the familiar clacking sound as they landed on the stone, and then a yell from Lox as he cheered the symbols appearing on the upturned faces of the cubes, and then an angry growl from Berks and an amused chuckle from Kindl who before now had sat quietly grinning at the whole thing.

"Yes, that's what happens when you test the gods will!" Lox cried, pointing a finger at Berks whose face was rapidly reddening.

"What are you doing?" Morg demanded, finally unable to ignore the obvious question any longer.

"Following the laws of the land," Lox said dismissively and grabbed up the cubes again.

Morg looked at him puzzled.

"What, hasn't anyone told you?" Berks asked, "Always gamble near a holy site in the morning."

Monday, May 23, 2016

Open

Goal setting, while necessary and valid, can be a tricky thing.  Because no sooner can one envision a potential future than feel passion for it to happen.  Pressure for it to happen.  Expectation.  And we all know what expectations do to us.

And my logical brain wants to know why.  It wants to assign numbers and calculate likelihoods and analyze data.  And yes, if we're being perfectly honest here, it wants to blame.  My dear god does it want to blame.

But my intuitive mind, the one that doesn't feel like it's in my skull but rather my heart or perhaps my gut, knows better.  There is a quiet, gentle voice reminding me that there is a lesson in everything if I can only open myself up to it.

Not only in the moment itself- the sounds, smells, feels, tastes and sights all around me which can pull me out of that worrisome place and back to blessedly tangible reality.  But also in simply accepting rather than judging.  In asking rather than complaining.

No, things didn't go according to plan.  But what came in that plan's place? 

"Be open," the gentle whisper tells me.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Letting Go

It was a thought so long before it became a reality that to truly understand its path from the source one would have to go back an entire lifetime.   The thought, in and of itself, was nothing revolutionary.  It was, in fact, something so commonly espoused that it was found on bumper stickers, t-shirts, billboards and hit song lyrics.  An yet the action it described was so revolutionary it was almost never seen.

Let go.  That was all.

She'd said it herself a million times to people who were compulsively obsessing over issues now long past.  Ended relationships, stupid mistakes, embarrassing moments, angry remembrances.  She'd said it in the same flippant manner everyone said it, as if it were a simple, immediate thing.  As if people didn't spend years in therapy, on religious retreats, consulting with gurus trying to understand how to do it, trying to actually bring the idea into action.

And yet now, in a situation that seemed to demand she ignore every single utterance of that word, she found it to be the easiest thing she'd ever done.  Easier than breathing, easier than blinking, easier than a thousand other automatic, unconscious behaviors she'd done innumerable times.

So with a quiet, almost inaudible exhale she did.  She let go.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Fiona St.

The light was harsh and intrusive, even through his closed eyelids.  And the truck backing up seemed to make the light pulse.  Each beep was a red flash behind his eyelids, as if beating against his brain.  He tried to assess the situation- but with the pain occupying his skull he was far beyond the task.

He became aware, in a sad, slow sort-of way, of pressure on his upper back.  And underneath his left hip.  He couldn't get a good feel of anything exactly, just vague and horrible sensations.  Every investigation threatened to tear him further from the now blissful-seeming detachment he'd felt from his body before he started to awake.

He tried, briefly, to breathe deeper and fall back into the darkness.  But the light and the sound and the pain kept at him, insistent and relentless.  And with each beep, each engine turn, each yell from someone in an echo-ey alleyway he became more aware.  Not only of the pounding in his head and the pressure against him as he leaned in some awkward position but also of the quickly developing nausea in his stomach and dizziness that seemed to revolve in his head.

Before he could think he felt a new sensation in his hand- a body-part he hadn't previously been aware of.  As if something had been pushed into it, forced into his loose grip.  His eyes shot open against his will and he saw what it was- a crumpled up bill.  He heard rather than seeing the person who had bestowed it as turning his head to look threatened to topple him.  It was the sound of footsteps made by nice shoes- black patent leather with heels.  He knew the sound so well it registered instantly even without sight and his mind began to piece together the information.

He was slumped against the building in the early morning of city activity- like the bakery truck delivering flour across the street, and a business man en route to one of the high-rise office buildings had inserted a bill into his outstretched hand, thinking him a vagrant.

The scene blossomed in his mind, clear and concise.  He was a bum, or at least, that's what everyone saw.  How else to describe someone in his state- still somewhat drunk from the night before, slumped against a wall in an alleyway, probably reeking from sweat and god only knew what else, wearing clothes worn down by a hard night.  It was a scene so instantaneously recognizable his mind couldn't reject it and it sunk in.

The full awareness hit him, washed over him, drowned him.  And in the aftermath there was only one question left over: How the hell did he get this bad?

Friday, May 20, 2016

The Summer Porch

Stashed.  That was the word.  Hidden under a million objects, memories, pictures, emotions and scents.  Easily dismissed when met with the realities of the day.  Filed away in the safest, most treasured part of the mind.

Going there was an indulgence, certainly.  It wasn't productive, it didn't help her get any work done or catch up on the mountain of papers sitting on her desk.  But sometimes, just for a moment, when the sound of typing threatened to drive her mad or the endless ring of the phone up front started to drown out her own thoughts she would stop and allow herself to drift.

It began with the scent of saltwater.  Or seaweed.  Or sand.  Whatever that smell was.  She knew it better than anything else and it enveloped her completely, invading her nostrils as much as her memories even as she sat in that sterile office closed off from the world.  It was a scent written on her soul, inextricably linked to a feeling of peace that nothing else could deliver.  She followed it now, down the path of her own memory.

Next came the sounds of the street- lawnmowers, dogs barking, kids yelling at each other as they shot waterguns or chased the leader down the sidewalk.  She heard her father's old dodge idling away in the driveway as he worked on the engine, telling her brother to "turn it off" for another adjustment.  She heard her cat Missy mewing as he sprawled on the wooden railing of the porch.

She reached out a hand and felt the old wood- painted and re-painted so many times the wood underneath could never be recovered, and yet worn smooth by hands like hers grasping and sliding and sometimes holding on.  Her grandmother's firm grasp as she slowly mounted the steps one at a time, smiling as she did as if the pain in her hip wasn't excruciating.  Her brother's tapping fingers as he skipped up the way he always did.  Her mother's smooth, fluid ascent earning a groan from each step she walked.  The physical touches of her family etched onto the smooth surface.

And finally, blessedly, she opened her eyes and observed.  The window always caught her eye first, the pane reflecting the nearly blinding light of the late sun as it drooped languidly in the sky and the orange glow that illuminated and bounced and spread like ivy.  It always reminded her of a creamsicle, sometimes so much her mouth would water and she would strain for the sound of the ice cream truck.

She allowed her gaze to drift, her eyes touching upon each object and surface the same as her hand had caressed the banister.  The swing- her mother's favorite part of the house, where she would curl up with a book and Missy and an icy glass of lemonade or tea that would collect condensation and soak the pages of whatever novel she pretended to read as she looked out at the street.  Sometimes her father would join her with a beer in hand and she'd protest his dirty pants on her white wicker bench.  He would put an arm around her, which she'd initially scream at him for before relenting and sinking into the cuddle.

The sand-dollar wind chimes they'd made together one summer, after carefully and meticulously combing the beach day after day looking for the perfect ones.  For every one successfully connected by fishing wire there were at least a dozen broken, or stepped on, or found lacking upon the return home to consider the day's findings.  She'd always loved it, perhaps because of the size of the endeavor and the devotion they'd given it.

The floor, oh the floor.  Worn smooth in the main pathway by hundreds of feet scraping across the surface.  Sandy shoes and dragged beach bags.  Her father's heavy work boots.  Her wet flip-flops.  Her grandmother's cane.  The wood had originally been a deep, chestnut brown but in the center of the porch where everyone walked it was worn back, obsidian and perfectly reflective of that brilliant orange light.  As if the entryway itself were a path of lit fire.  She would stare at that spot on the porch as she sat on the railing, losing longer moments than she ever intended.

A million and one memories.  An endless list of stories and jokes and repeated dialogues.  The tapestry of her family before her grandmother died and her parents broke up and they had to sell the house in Avalon.  Before childhood stopped being magical.  She indulged in them, allowing herself to feel.

A pile of manilla folders landed with an audible thud on the already tall pile of paperwork on her desk and she startled, jolting violently and bouncing in her office chair.  Her boss didn't even look back at her as he continued his march to his office and she shot daggers at the now crumbling tower on her desk.  She sighed, resigned herself to get back to work and leave the summer porch again to regain her seat in the firm, unforgiving confines of reality, and reached for the top of the stack.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Reminders

It's possible to hold your breath without realizing you're doing it.  In the little seconds in between the sighs and exhales, we pause.  We wait.  The tension builds.  The body reacts.  And yes, eventually we breathe and eventually the body loosens.  But then we do it again- we constrict and suffer the lack of so desperately needed life.

It's a trap we fall into over and over again, unconsciously.  And yes, it's a habit.  And the instruction is SO simple: just breathe.  The easiest, most natural thing is the right thing to do.  Just breathe.

After a year of training and conscious practice I'm realizing that all the techniques I use- meditation and mindfulness and taking that so necessary pause before reacting and catching myself in my crazy thought process and letting go and all of it are the same: the easiest, most natural things to do.  The worrying and analyzing and questioning and asking is just holding my breath.  And releasing it works exactly the same way.

The trick is, we forget that we can control our breath.  It happens so unconsciously, we don't pay attention to it.  So when we don't, we tend to accept that.  "Ooopps- I'm holding my breath again."  It's easy to dismiss, and there's no blame.  My mistake, is that I DON'T forget that I can control my thoughts, so rather than just dismissing the mistake I get down on myself.

"Why do you keep doing this?  You know better!"  This is what I tell myself, as if that's gonna help.

And yet, it's no different than the breath.  When I stop paying attention, I may hold it- the thought, the worry, the label.  And the tension will return, and the body will react.  But as soon as I notice it, I can choose to let go, just like the breath I've been holding.  No judgements, no shoulds, no questions- just letting go and breathing.  The most natural things in the world.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Sometimes We Fly

The things we hold onto hold onto us, that's what they say.  The labels and descriptors- that ridiculous idea of identity.  The excuse that "this is how I've always been" or "that's just who I am" keeping us bound to old patterns, old thoughts, old stories that no longer serve us.

It's a thick, sticky kind-of stuck.  The kind that clings and rips when we try to break free.

And falling is scary- no doubt about it.  A million ways we could land, and the pain we will feel when we do.  We tend to scream and flail, as if that helps.

But freedom can only take us when we let go of the moorings, when we shrug off the fastenings and let ourselves fall.  And sometimes there is pain, sure.  Sometimes we find that we jumped too soon, missed our mark and we get some scars to help us remember where we've been and what we've learned.

But sometimes, there's not a hard bottom waiting for us.  Sometimes the wind kicks up and takes us on a wild ride.  Sometimes, sometimes we fly.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Ticket

She could drive herself crazy thinking about it, thinking about anything other than this moment.  And she would have, a year ago- hell, even six months ago.  She'd have spreadsheets and graphs and have analyzed each and every way it could go wrong to calculate the percentage, the likelihood of failure.  Now the mere thought of such a reaction exhausted her, and she exhaled it like a rotten taste in her mouth.  Bleh.

She didn't hesitate as she mounted the first step, simply handed the ticket to the driver, smiled and greeted him with a genuine, heartfelt "Hello!"

He looked up at her, as if awakened from a snooze.  He studied her face for a just a second, and upon seeing genuine warmth there a smile lit up his own face, pulling the edges of his lips up and revealing old, yellow teeth.

She paused, for just a split second, refusing to rush a genuine contact with another soul.  It was one of many practices she'd integrated into her life, and one of many reasons she was boarding this bus now.  No fear, no more hiding, just living.

He nodded at her and she widened her smile briefly before turning to walk down the aisle.  She sat herself down by a window, her one creature comfort for the trip, and settled in.

And as the other passengers filed on and stashed their bags and sodas and seated themselves she breathed in the wonder of it all.  Not where she was going, or even what would happen once she was there, but just the simple awareness of the moment.  The knowledge of being right there on that bus.  And she felt an awe for the gratitude she could feel for such a simple thing as a ticket.

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Space Between

It's such an insidious trick we play on ourselves, a bad habit of self-destruction.  The space between words gets filled with all of these false intentions, meanings and assumptions that don't exist anywhere other than our own minds.  But we project and we assign and we react as if they were real, and as if they were meant.  We give ourselves bruises from shadowboxing.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Graduation

I graduated from my 200 hour yoga teacher training today.

If I look at this as a day, or even as a year, or as any other finite thing, I'm devaluing it.  This is so much more than a single construct.  It's a living, breathing loving thing that will shape and change me in ways I cannot yet imagine.  I know that this is the beginning rather than the end of my journey, I know that.  But I also know that I can't possibly know what that journey is, where it will take me, or how it will change me.  But I am aware- in my bones- that it will.

Namaste.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Closings and Openings

Tomorrow I graduate from my 200 hour yoga teacher training.  It's exciting.  And scary.  And wonderful.  And soul-shakingly terrible.  All at the same time.

And I've been realizing lately, or seeing from first-hand experience, that that's how it is.  Whenever something ends, the possibility for something else starts.  Whenever you close a chapter of your life, you open another one.  And, if your life is anything like mine, that new chapter will be pretty damned unexpected.

I'm trying to be at peace with it.  I'm trying not to second-guess or judge or dismiss any of it.  I'm trying to be present for each and every moment.  But it never comes easily.  The mind judges and projects and worries.  The old shadows make their presence- damned persistent in spite of so many practices designed to settle them- known.  The old patterns which seemed broken return.

But that's the the whole point of this lesson that I'm learning and re-learning and will undoubtedly learn again: there is no such thing as done.  That truth, at times frightening and frustrating and maddening, is also the source of all this hope.  The source of all these new beginnings.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Soul Sisters

I'm understandably a bit of a mess here at the end of this.  The prospect of not recapping my week every Thursday night.  The prospect of Sunday coming up with no epic itinerary at the yoga studio.  The prospect of these awe-inspiring women not being a regular, integral part of my life.  It's frightening.

Our yoga teacher commented last night on how this group in particular has had each other's backs through a lot of shit.  We've all been through some stuff throughout the course of this year and we all relied on each other to get through it.  I can say for myself that I have absolutely no doubt that I wouldn't be where I am without these women.  I hate to say it, but I'm pretty sure I'd be back where I was, going on pretending everything was ok, scared and stuck and sightless to change it.

So looking out at life without that rock- my stable base, my net to catch me when I fall- is petrifying.  Especially with so many new things starting.  Embarking on the start of so much without them is more than I can take.

Which is why it's so incredibly comforting to know that I don't have to.  Because these women with their strength and love that has comforted, nurtured, healed and lifted me are always with me.

This morning while I did my daily morning meditation I noticed something as I made my way through my seven chakras.  They're in there!  Without me even knowing it they've made their mark on these most important parts of me.

Down at the root, where I connect to Gaia and that stable home base I so desperately need, is Gisette with her earthy, free-flowing, sensual nature.  Easy, thoughtless, comforting.  I can picture her and feel her hugging me the same as I can feel the earth.

In my sacral chakra where water and creativity come from I sense Lauren with her quiet confidence and effortless sexuality.  I can hear her voice and sense her willingness to move through the changes of life.

At my solar plexus where I connect with the sun I sense Jen- my fiery pitta who so loves planks and handstand push-ups.  And without even knowing it I seem to have inherited some of her fierce strength and determination to break down the walls that I encounter.

At heart where my emotions well up and I try so hard to stay open to everyone without closing down from fear of being hurt again I sense Suzanne.  Her wisdom, her courage to face down her own shadows, her fearless giving energy is in there.  She's part of the foundation of my heart now.

At throat where I struggle to stay true to my voice I hear Olivia with her soulful song.  "If I die with my song unsung it's nobody's fault but mine."  I can and will sing without letting my fear silence me- because of her strength, her courage, and her love.

At third eye where my brain is housed I sense Ericka- not just her analytical intelligence, but her beliefs.  Her many visions for herself and her path inspire me to follow mine and to dream big for my future.

And at crown where all the airy, windy energy lets loose I see and hear Tracey.  I sense her freedom and her desire to connect outside the bounds of limited reality.  And I am lifted by her weightlessness.

It wasn't intentional.  I didn't meditate or visualize or perform any rituals to try to find permanent housing for these women in the map of my own energy field.  I was aware that they were in there, certainly, but I had no idea they were so firmly seated.

I'm so glad they are.  Because now I can go forward even without the physical meetings and regular check-ins on the calendar knowing that who we've been to each other throughout this journey has permanently changed me and that these women who I love with all of myself are part of me.  Forever.

Thank you soul sisters.  Tits to the wall!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Butterfly Maiden

How to sum up the most transformative year of my life?  Well, I can't.  Not because I don't have the words but because I will be integrating these lessons for years to come.

I came here seeking spirituality.  I was hungry.  I was lonely within myself.  And I was full of so much judgement and cruelty for my precious soul that I could scarcely take anything else in.  Full yet starving, how I've spent most of my life.

The changes came fast- faster than expected.  The surrender of my old belief system- giving up the facts and scientific proofs I used to validate everything I encountered and learning to believe in all that is unseen.  The break down of that overgrown shaming shadow- quieting that cruel judge.  The build up of my soul- that precious, brilliant self that I'd kept in a hole for so long.  And in the end, the biggest change- the one I never saw coming- giving up my prior definition of home and the man I used to define it.  That change- the hardest one I've ever made- has transformed everything else.

And yet, I realize, this is far from the end of the revolution.  If anything, I think, this is just the beginning.

Because Yoga and meditation and circle and magick and intuitive sight and opening and everything else I've learned over the course of this year are practices.  They are acts meant to be done day after day, year after year.  And there is no end to the depths of my soul to explore and embrace.

And that is where my journey continues to lead me.  I may be leaving this group- this amazing, magick group of soul sisters who have left a permanent mark on my soul and made me better through their fearless love- as a yoga teacher.  But I am still in the midst of learning.

My soul's path is clearer now.  My conviction is firmer.  I am braver, stronger and more luminous- I radiate my light with more ease.  But becoming the butterfly goddess, championing the change I so desperately want to see in the world, is a life-long journey.  And I see that this chapter, though the biggest of my life thus far, is still just part of the story.

And as I take these next steps, I carry with me all that has come before with gratitude and love.  Namaste.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Human

It's a phenomenon I've encountered before, and yet I so easily forget.  The assumptions and stories we tell about people when we're not in their presence.  The conclusion we form about what they're thinking, feeling, wanting.  The image of them we build up in our heads which has nothing whatsoever to do with reality.

It's something I've caught myself doing before, something I thought I knew better than to do again.  But these tricks of perception never go away easy, and it seems they never stay away too long even after we've banished them.

In this particular case, I do at least have some insight into what exacerbated the process.  E-mails and text messages, so emotionless, cold and devoid of so-neccesary social cues got me thinking.  And those thoughts took on a life of their own, assigning texture and context to simply, easy messages that held none.  And my reaction fed off the lack of information, building the story up into a catastrophe.  Like I said, I've caught myself here before- I know how it works.

But here's the change, or at least the effort: accepting that I've caught myself here before without judging myself for being here again.  That same "What if?" question I've been applying to myself again and again in order to remove the criticism and judgement from the narrative.  The permission to allow myself to feel whatever it is that i'm feeling without assigning identity and responsibility to it.  Something that I did, rather than something that I am.

And in that space- that blameless, curious space- there is humor.  I can laugh at myself, I can chuckle at the silly games I play in my head.  And there is acceptance.  I can deal with reality, take steps right in this moment to form a different narrative.  And there is wisdom (the hard-earned kind) from compassionate observation.  And above all, there is humanity.  Not perfect, not flawless..  But yes, humanity.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Action

Wouldn't it be nice if I wasn't a victim?  If these things didn't happen to me or even because of me but if they just happened and I could respond well?  If rather than hating myself for my perceived failures I could immediately tackle the problem head-on and take action?

I tend to be the most active when there is time to be excited.  To envision and plan and create without someone looking over my shoulder.  But in the midst of unspoken pressures and thankless effort it's hard to take the challenge as that, hard not to lay down and curl myself around my injuries.

I tell my clients to give themselves credit for the steps taken on the bad days.  The tiny, inconsequential, barely observable steps.  I tell them there's a certain kick-your-own-ass boot camp mentality to it.  I say we have to roll up our sleeves and get to work.  And yet I myself struggle with that so much.  I see the failure, form the conclusion and wish nothing more than to retreat until the backlash has calmed down and I can lift my head from the sand.

But today, because of all the pressures that be, I took some steps.  And no, of course not everything is solved- not even remotely.  But the simple fact that I could possibly encounter a new and novel experience definitely made me think.  What if instead of playing the victim I took action and responded- what mountains would I move then?

Monday, May 9, 2016

Low

I've fallen into the hole again.  The cynical, jaded and angry hole.  The place to wallow, to hate, to revel in disgust.  I've been better about staying out of there of late but damned if I didn't fall hard today.

It's funny- I've gotten so much better at fighting my own internal voice which, generally speaking, gives much harsher feedback than any real-world source.  That voice, so familiar to me because it's mine, had become easy to dismiss, to fight back against, to vanquish.  Because the message is the same.  Because it sounds so familiar.

But the external attack- or the unseen attacker- is sudden and violent and so, so devastating.  I have no defense because it seems true.  I am not prepared to fight back, and I don't think I deserve to.  From easy dismissal to the bottom of the hole in one single message.

And things are mighty dark down here.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Time Spent With Children

I've heard it said many times before but for the life of me I can't remember the last time I so clearly channeled my youth than today while spending time with two young girls.  I fed off of their excitement, their naivete, their fresh eyes looking at things for the first time.  I laughed louder, sang with more abandon, screamed with more force and loved more fiercely.  And every joyful moment was lived- fully and truly.

And there were so many other pieces of the day that were sheer euphoria- but they were all made better by the presence of those two girls.  It's a lesson to be sure, and a challenge to live that fully even without feeding off of the energy of children.  To look at the world through fresh eyes all the time.  To love without judgement, reserve or fear.  To live.  It's a challenge I take very seriously and one which I intend to meet.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Perfect Day

A drive across the back roads headed east.  A bridge across the Delaware.  A town full of the quaintest shops, cafes and nooks one could ever hope to encounter.  A man so excited to show it all to me he doesn't know where to start.

There are brick sidewalks and doll-house row-homes lining the streets.  There are cherry and apple blossoms exploding with color and light.  The plants and trees and grass are such a vibrant green it's almost blinding, a full week of rain having packed them so full of life now bursting forth in breath-taking color.  And amidst it all is a world of scents I have to strain to distinguish.

One scent I know, and my soul loves it so much I dream about it.  It is the one found in pages of old books nestled in over-full shelves of some forgotten shop.  The kind-of place that houses nothing but leather-bound antiques and obscure titles so long out of print only the scholars know of their existence.  I flip through the pages and breathe deep, letting the vaguely musty but-oh-so intoxicating scent penetrate my nostrils, soak into my hair and clothes, envelop me like a hug from a long-lost friend.  The clerk walks by and gives me a knowing smile- he gets this all the time.  Those of us with the love of books find sanctuary in these places, and we never stay away too long.

A walk to the canal reveals a path by the water full of such picturesque vistas my inner photog can't help itself and I start snapping away.  The surface of the water reflects the world and gives the illusion of infinity- a neverending constitutional benefiting the soul rather than the body.  And for a moment- one of many on this day- time stops.  Whatever came before, and whatever will come next vanishes in the presence of so much else.  A breathe, full and enlivening.

A tiny little bar with so much nautical memorabilia it could well-be a museum and a toast made to friends about new beginnings. There is genuine excitement in the air, the kind of heart-felt regard that carries you through the uncertainty and fear into the safety of open arms and smiles.  I will remember this moment.  And yes, maybe it will become part of a story that will end in ways I didn't plan for.  But it will be a great chapter in my life, I know.

Dinner and jokes and stories that flesh out this person, this wonder of a human being I am beginning to submerge myself in.  There are late nights and adventures.  There are "I can't believe you"s and incredulous questions.  There are friendships and milestones and memories from great company, all enjoyed over mouth-watering entrees and the noisy bustle of a good Italian restaurant.  And under the table, the feel of a hand on mine.  One that my fingers are beginning to hunger for when I haven't felt the touch for a while.  It's a secret, a shared glimpse across the table, and I love it so completely it startles me.

And I am aware, as I have been aware for some time, that this is what I've been missing.  During all of those quiet weekends that I defended as being restful, relaxing and easy I was missing this life.  Vibrant, and loud, and wonderfully exhausting.  And being in it- truly sucking the marrow from this moment now- I feel rejuvenated and so, so excited for all that is yet to come.

In the evening, the twilight gives the town an even more magical taste and we wander like tourists in a strange country- marveling at the architecture, the sounds, the signs and windows and roads.  A million inconsequential sightings that endear this place to me in a way that only a new world can.  There's that not-quite-reality sensation on the surface of my skin.  Like the rules of existence don't quite apply for the moment, like truly anything could happen.  I keep breathing, desperate to take it all in, to fully absorb and consume it.  I am aware of the gift, and ever so grateful.

And even if it were the last perfect day, even if there weren't so many more to come, I would still be happy.  Because this day, this beautiful, full day that has filled my soul with so much life I am amazed I can house it all- is perfect.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Sight

We're not supposed to know the future.  I know this.  There are times, even, when I can be at peace with it.  But I don't like it.

I want to know that the choices I'm making today won't come back to bite me in the ass tomorrow.  I want to know that I'm doing the "right thing", whatever the hell that is.  I want to know that I am wiser, stronger, better equipped to handle all the uncertainties because I'm thinking things through and pursuing the best course I can.  That's what I want.

What I need, however, is to trust.  To trust that I'm doing not the right thing but the only thing I'm meant to do.  Even if it's "wrong", even if it's scary, even if it means pain and difficulty and a whole new soul-challenging journey.  I need to trust the universe to take me where I need to go, and I need to trust my soul to forge the path I'm meant to walk.

I'm trying.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Last Class

Tonight was the last time that my yoga sisters and I met in classroom.  Our next meeting will be a more formal presentation of our final projects which the new teacher trainees will attend and our final gathering will be a graduation ceremony.  I am becoming acutely aware of the fact that this is all ending and it's beyond frightening.

It's funny, I can remember our very first class together- I looked around the circle at a group of strangers I'd never met before and I knew- because of the nature of the program, because of a gut feeling, because I was told that this was how it works- that I would grow to love all of them so fiercely that I wouldn't be able to fathom losing them.  I think I may have even said something of that nature at the time.

And even though I've known for a while that this was ending, even though the dates and times of final meetings were prepared well in advance, and even though I theoretically love and embrace change I'm still devastated.  I don't know how you give yourself so completely to a group of souls and not be when that connection ends.

Well, perhaps "ends" isn't fair.  I've been through endings before- time periods during which intense emotional contact cannot continue simply because of the details of life- and I know it's possible to keep those connections going.  The real ones, they say, never leave you.  But the context changes.  A LOT.  And coordinating schedules, making phone calls, following through on proposed visits is never easy, even though the person you're missing is close by.

And, of course, it's not the same.  My yoga sisters and I did battle with our greatest shadows.  We looked at some hard truths about ourselves that many of us kept so close to the chest for so long it's a miracle we were able to bring it out into the light.  We experienced each other in a way that we have not experienced any other human being on the planet.  And while I am nothing but grateful in the knowledge that that can never be taken away I am still floored by the impending end of it.

But, I'm smart enough to know that's just how change works.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Persistent

I have moments.  Brilliant, triumphant moments where I am strong and powerful and ever-so capable of mountain-moving.  Moments where my grand dreams are only a small series of steps away.  Moments where I am all of the things I want to be, without question.  And the vision of me in those moments is blinding.

But, I begrudgingly admit, that's the not the norm.  Despite all my soul journeying, all of my fearless kali-burning, all my endless exploration and fearless facing of shadow- I'm still human.  And those repetitious, infectious thoughts still find a way in.  The judgements, criticisms and dismissals find the cracks in my visage and seep in, saturating me with that ever-so-familiar damp dread.

But like I said- I'm human.  It's bound to happen.  So I slough off the mold, towel-dry the dampness, and step out into the cold, clean air... ready to try again.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Between Snoozes

Not quite asleep, not quite awake.  That mystical edge of existence where anything is possible.  For some, like my father, it's the witching hour.  The time when the lines between the living and the dead are blurred.  The time where my grandmother, with all of her wisdom and guidance, could safely float the ship into harbor and settle the storm.  For me, with my not yet awakened sight, it's far more random.

My brain flashes on memories and images like lightening, illuminating them for just a second and then fading.  The moment when we first kissed, sitting on the park picnic table, under the streetlights.  The insight I gained from the masterful way you handled that question, that fear.  The reference to some shared cultural exposure- not exciting or earth-shattering in its own right, but illustrative of these superficial connections which are carved into much deeper crevices in the tapestry of our story.  And my mind switching, switching between them.  Each for only a split second, but so deeply felt.

And in the hours of waking light, after I've been dragged away from the twilight madness into the harsh reality of day, I try to make sense of it all.  There must be logical explanations, surely.  Some neurotransmitter firing the way it does when one is stimulated by lust.  How memories form in the subconscious when rules of format and category don't apply.  Thoughts- meaningless, unimportant and so easily dismissed when studied, dissected and pulled apart under the microscope of sterile self-study.

But beneath that- beneath the stories and explanations and clinical categorizations that file things into orderly classes- there is something deeper.  Something closer to the soul.  Something growing, like a fetus in the great mother's womb.  Something, perhaps, like love.

Monday, May 2, 2016

New Starts

Today is the first day at my new job.  Another new job.  Another new start.  It's the continuation of a theme- everything all at once.  The opposite of one thing at a time.  Birth- violent, messy, life-altering.

And yes, in this context all it really means is a new office, more paperwork and another learning curve as I work out the kinks.  But there's a lot of kinks right now.  Yoga in the park kinks.  Work kinks.  A brand new spanking relationship kinks.  Like I said- it's a theme.  Everything, all at once.

And I' trying to trust.  I'm trying to let go and flow.  I'm trying to allow the universe to happen.  But it is anything but comfortable.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

May Day

Today is the first of May: a day usually marked by celebrations of spring, fertility, and growth.  It's been a common theme in my life of late.

I used to think that any change that would be sustainable- that one would be able to permanently integrate into life- had to be small.  Incremental steps in the right direction, tiny victories creating forward momentum, a stable basis to build off of and then add to one layer at a time.  I advised and counseled and even instructed people on the steps that seemed most likely to bring about the permanent change they claimed to want.

But this process of self discovery that I've been in has not been small.  The steps that I've taken have not been tiny victories.  And my stable basis for everything was completely and utterly destroyed in the process of so much birth.  It's nothing short of a revolution and I have no idea when things will settle down.  (Or if, for that matter.)

And yes, it's scary.  More frightening, really, than anything else I've ever done.  And yes, a whole lot of hard-won truths I've held as immutable have been completely tossed aside in favor of a completely different world view.  And yes, my cool, collected exterior and confidence has been rattled to the bone.

And yet, I feel more alive in this space- this scary, uncertain, constantly fluctuating space- than I have at any other time in my life.  Because this feels real.

I have no certain beliefs anymore.  And I recognize that what feels so fundamentally true to me right now could very well change tomorrow.  And I see that any claims I make as to who I am, how I'm defined, and where I fit are temporary.  And yes, I'm scared.  But I am most certainly NOT unhappy.

I'm following the green.  I'm catching the scent of plants pushing through damp soil and letting it lead me forward.  I'm listening to the birdsong in the wind and letting my feet trace the path.  I'm moving, constantly, in whatever direction this crazy journey is taking me and I am trusting that the steps themselves are the way.

It harkens back to one of those lines I've recited a million times over.  "It's not the destination but the journey that matters."  Well, what if there is no destination?  What if the reason the journey matters is because the journey is all there is?  Wouldn't that be revolutionary?

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z is for Zenith

 
 As always, a huge shout out to Ninja Minion Master Captain Alex and his army of ninja minions


My Theme: Yoga.  For those of you who don't know, I've been working on obtaining my yoga teacher's certification for the past year and am just a little over a month from graduating with my RYT200.  As such, I figure there's no better way to spend this month than teaching you folks some of what I've learned.

Today is my very first class as a yoga teacher.  I am in Valley Forge Park where I've spent so many days running and being mindful and connecting with the universe on a deeper level than I ever thought possible.  I am teaching people yin yoga, a tool for self-transformation that I love and believe in so fervently that I trust my ability to teach others how to use it to transform themselves.  I am nervous and excited in equal measure and I feel like I'm on the cusp of something huge, some next great chapter in my life.  Although really, I recognize that chapter started a while ago.

I didn't plan it this way- I hadn't tried to arrange for this first class to take place on the same day as the conclusion of this month-long narration through some of what I've learned in my year in teacher training.  But i'm not even remotely surprised that that's how it worked out.

Because that seems to happen all the time, now.  All those little moments of serendipity, kismet, deja vu and the like letting me know- constantly- that I am exactly where I need to be, on exactly the path i'm meant to be on.  Really, it's startling how often it happens.  And yet it's already become a core way of how I react to and interpret life.

At the beginning of this journey I was this sane, logical, cynical person who valued science and "fact" above everything else.  I hated myself in so many ways and I fought a never-ending battle against that internal critic of mine which judged, weighed and measured and ultimately rejected everything I did, thought, felt, or wanted.  I pushed back hard against pretty much all forms of spirituality, and certainly the more woo-woo ones, because my mind- which I valued above all else- told me that couldn't be real.  I secluded myself inside of a relationship which justified, validated and reinforced every single one of these delusions.  And no, I was not what you might call happy.

Now, at the end of a year that has brought about more radical shifts in my worldview, personality, belief system and lifestyle than any other period of my life, I feel free.  I love myself, truly, genuinely and without constant effort.  (Certainly not without any effort at all, mind you, but without constant effort.)  That internal critic of mine- which used to be unstoppable white noise in the background of my thoughts- is so small now I hardly ever hear it.  It's still there, but it's quiet, usually.  Reserved.  A teacher rather than a tormentor.

 And all those judgements, measurements and rejections are so easily dismissed now that I marvel at the ease with which I can let them go.  I value my soul above all else and I use my intuition as the greatest guide I have in navigating and reacting to life.  And that relationship that kept all of those old systems in place, that I had been in for over a decade, that squashed so many of these now flourishing aspects of myself?  Yeah, that's gone. Or rather the person who I was while in that relationship is gone.   Replaced by honest communication and mindful relating that connects me more deeply to the people in my life than I ever have been.  I am the opposite of closed off now- I am open.  And I take in so much of what I used to keep out.

I don't know what comes next.  But I'm at peace with that because I am fully aware that i'm not supposed to.  Embarking on being a full-fledged yoga teacher will involve countless more lessons, journeys, insights and growths than I can possibly imagine right now.  This isn't the end of anything other than my initial training.  My journey, my soul's path... that is just beginning.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Y is for Yoga

 
 As always, a huge shout out to Ninja Minion Master Captain Alex and his army of ninja minions

My Theme: Yoga.  For those of you who don't know, I've been working on obtaining my yoga teacher's certification for the past year and am just a little over a month from graduating with my RYT200.  As such, I figure there's no better way to spend this month than teaching you folks some of what I've learned.

I've spent the bulk of the past month talking about what yoga isn't so today it's finally time to speak to what it is.

As you can probably guess, there are many different definitions depending upon where you look.  However, there is one single definition that we ascribe to in my school and which resonates deepest with me personally.  (Drum roll, please)....
Yoga is a process for seeking out and removing obstacles to freedom.

There, is your mind blown?  Mine certainly was when I first heard it.  Hopefully that definition puts a lot of the rest of what I've discussed this month in some context.  Like, for example, why I would rally so hard against the idea of yoga as simply a form of exercise.  Why understanding the health benefits, nonetheless, is so vital.  Why it's so important to understand that asana are just one of the eight limbs on the eight-limbed path of yogic development.  And why I personally am so extremely devoted to this life-changing way of living.

Yoga is the single greatest method I have found to study, better understand and ultimately embrace this crazy, wild, wonderful soul that is me.  (And I've tried a lot of different methods towards that end over the years, trust me.)  And I am not in any way, shape or form saying that it is the ONLY way, simply that for me, it is the best.  And would it be what it is for me without everything else that I do that supports my overall well-being?  Of course not- those are also integral aspects of who I am.  But they were all there before I started this crazy journey almost a year ago.  

So how else to explain how drastically, completely, revolutionary different I am in the course of a year?  You guessed it, yoga.  

Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for Xenophilia

 
 As always, a huge shout out to Ninja Minion Master Captain Alex and his army of ninja minions

My Theme: Yoga.  For those of you who don't know, I've been working on obtaining my yoga teacher's certification for the past year and am just a little over a month from graduating with my RYT200.  As such, I figure there's no better way to spend this month than teaching you folks some of what I've learned.

Xenophilia is an attraction towards foreign countries, peoples and cultures and is worth consideration in the spread of yoga throughout the western world.  If not for strong interest in the culture of yoga's country of origin the practice would not be what is is today.
Perhaps part of the attraction is the bipolar nature of our two cultures.  Here in America we are materially rich, spiritually poor, irreverent, and obsessed with money and all if can get us.  India is the complete and total opposite (save for the interest in money- but there it is based on necessity, not obsession.)  I myself have been drawn to the country where this rich practice has come from and find myself fascinated by the endless differences between our two cultures.

India is one of the world's oldest civilizations, is the birthplace of several of the world's largest religions (including Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism), and fascinates the world with it's food, music and dance, clothing, cinema and, of course, yoga.  With such a diverse and long history it's next to impossible not to find some aspect of the culture intriguing.

I am personally grateful to the countless individuals who were so fascinated by this culture that they saw fit to spread all of the traditions we now enjoy over here.  (Not the least of which is yoga.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W is for Western Yoga

 
 As always, a huge shout out to Ninja Minion Master Captain Alex and his army of ninja minions

My Theme: Yoga.  For those of you who don't know, I've been working on obtaining my yoga teacher's certification for the past year and am just a little over a month from graduating with my RYT200.  As such, I figure there's no better way to spend this month than teaching you folks some of what I've learned.

Western yoga, as you can probably imagine, is so far removed from the traditions of yoga practiced in India that they don't even call what we do yoga.  For them, yoga is a series of deeply spiritual practices designed to align one with the universal energy that flows through all living beings.  It involves intense meditation, chanting, lifestyle disciplines and (often) no asana (poses) whatsoever.
It's been around, in some form, for around 7,000 years over there.  We didn't pay any attention to it here in the US until the mid 19th century and there was no one here teaching it until the 1890's.  Early on, the spiritual practices and disciplines of the practice were taught but as the esoteric views of the late 19th century faded from popularity it faded as well.  It wasn't until the 1960's that yoga began to be seen again in the US. 

The rash of yoga that's we've seen in recent decades reflects a shift of perspective as to what yoga is- namely exercise.  When I tell people that I'm studying to be a yoga teacher they comment on my assumed physical fitness, flexibility and other physical attributes.  No one says "Wow, you must be a very spiritual person" (even though that's why I do it and want to teach it.)

I say this without any intent of soapboxing (though it may sound that way): yoga was not designed to be exercise.  Calling yoga exercise, exclusively, is like calling music noise.  Could you technically characterize it that way?  Sure.  Is that why people make it?  NO.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's fantastic that yoga has experienced a re-popularization over here in the West and the incredible health benefits of the practice are never going to be anything less than extraordinary.  But to view it simply as a form of exercise is to throw away some of the greatest gifts that mankind has known.

Thankfully, I am not the only person who feels this way.  In fact, I would argue that most people who stick with yoga and make significant lifestyle changes associated with it do it for spiritual purposes.  People who are looking for the next great exercise routine will likely do it for a while, never even scratch the surface of the deep spirituality contained within, and then drop it in favor of the next fad to come along.  Which, for them, is fine- health benefits, basic introduction to some really helpful concepts and whatnot are still great things to be exposed to.

But for me, it's so much more than that and I will always respect, revere and honor it as the life-changing process I have found it to be.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V is for Vinyasa

 
 As always, a huge shout out to Ninja Minion Master Captain Alex and his army of ninja minions

My Theme: Yoga.  For those of you who don't know, I've been working on obtaining my yoga teacher's certification for the past year and am just a little over a month from graduating with my RYT200.  As such, I figure there's no better way to spend this month than teaching you folks some of what I've learned.

Vinyasa is a form of yoga known for dynamic movement linked with breath which has become incredibly popular in most U.S. yoga establishments.  I don't have the statistics on the number of yoga establishments (including gyms, Ys and whatnot) that teach vinyasa but i'll wager is right up there with hot yoga and other very popular forms of the practice.  It was created by Krishnamacharya who is often referred to as "The Father of Modern Yoga".
The primary tenants of vinyasa yoga are equal and opposite movements (meaning poses are always followed by counter-poses), flow (meaning that poses feed into one another in a particular sequence of movement) and breath (meaning that your in breath and out breath matches the movements as you go through the sequence).

Vinyasa is usually fast moving, involves somewhat challenging poses (meaning individuals with physical disabilities or injuries may have trouble with it) and stretches muscles to induce improved physical mobility, ability and muscle control.

My yoga teacher (who is training me to be a teacher) practices vinyasa and is (needless to say) incredibly talented at instructing others in it.  I, on the other hand, am not.  I find vinyasa to be... I don't want to say stressful because it's still yoga and the basic principles of body awareness, quiet mind and everything that makes yoga yoga are still there.  But it's not my favorite form and it's not where I gravitate towards as a teacher.

My preference is yin which is much more slow moving, involves staying in a pose for a long time, stretches muscles through gravity rather than physical strength and involves significantly more quiet moments for self-reflection and self-study.  Because the poses tend to be earthier there's a lot of time spent on the ground with supportive apparatus holding the body in a particular shape and are therefore able to practiced by a wider audience.   There is the same emphasis on breath control (though it's more meditative) with significantly increased emphasis on self-examination (which is why I love it so much).

What has always amazed me about both of these practices (and the many other styles of yoga in general) is that they're both aimed at the same goal: achieving Vidya (another V word!) or "clear sight" meaning one's ability to perceive the world as it is without all of our mental habits getting in the way (like ego, fear of pain, etc).  But they go about it in extremely different ways.  

Finding the practice that works best for you is one of the primary reasons that one who is starting a yoga practice is encouraged to try out different styles.  You have to find what fits.

Monday, April 25, 2016

U is for Understanding

 
 As always, a huge shout out to Ninja Minion Master Captain Alex and his army of ninja minions



My Theme: Yoga.  For those of you who don't know, I've been working on obtaining my yoga teacher's certification for the past year and am just a little over a month from graduating with my RYT200.  As such, I figure there's no better way to spend this month than teaching you folks some of what I've learned.

 If you've been following me through the alphabet this year you've probably come to see that one of the primary purposes of yoga is to gain a greater understanding of oneself.  To see the patterns of behavior that keep us stuck, to draw connections between those patterns and the things that trigger us in everyday life, and then to consciously observe ourselves when being triggered so that we can change those patterns by doing things differently.  There's a lot of tools that all come under the general category of yoga to help us in these tasks, but that quest for understanding is at the core of all of them.
 
I used to think, based on my professional experience, that understanding came from telling the story, dissecting it and studying it (much the same way one would in a lab- through logical, orderly testing and note-taking.)  Based on my experience in applying the techniques of yoga to my own personal journey of self-exploration I've come to believe that these techniques I've described through the month (meditation, asana, artistic creation, tribal discussion and all the rest) are far more effective and efficient tools.  Understanding doesn't come from telling a story.  It comes from feeling- mindfully, with total awareness and with all the compassionate observation in the world.
Because that is the place where change comes from.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Househunting

You asked me once why I was going house-hunting with you if I was so deeply unhappy with you.  I said, because it was my best guess at the time, it was because I was in denial.  Ending things with you was the hardest thing I'd ever done.  Even thinking about it brought on panic attacks for years.  It hurt too much to really look at honestly,  until you forced my hand.

And while I would still say that all of that is true, I see another layer to it now.  I think it wasn't just denial of how things were, it was that intoxicating possibility of how things might be.

When we drove around those neighborhoods and remarked on the yards, the nearby parks, the trees or bushes or windows looking out on all of these things I imagined.  I imagined me sitting in one of those gardens, surrounded by green and light, meditating.  Quiet.  Peaceful.  Serene.  I imagined myself as unbothered by all of the things that bothered me.  I imagined myself transcending my obsessive worrying and all those resentments that would eventually break us.  I imagined myself happy within myself.

And I imagined, like we all like to imagine, that the dream house would somehow fix you in so many of the ways you wouldn't fix yourself.  You'd sleep, finally.  Because of the privacy, or the comfort, or something.  You'd work less because you so loved the home, our home, and you'd want to spend more time in it.  You'd be happy because all of your hard work over the years, all of your misery over the years, all of your monotonous toiling had led you to this... victory, I guess?  That was sort-of how you talked about it, at least.  Like it would define some level of success that you hadn't yet achieved.

It's funny, but in the end I think I did see all of those fantasies for what they really were.  I realized- and I even said it to you- that if you locked yourself into this big mortgage you could only afford by being a workaholic that you would just work that much harder, sink that much deeper, disappear that much more.  And all of those reasons why we'd pick the house in the first place- the large yard and huge windows and all that precious privacy- would become liabilities.  Things that had to be paid to be maintained, fixed, kept up.  And I would be there, in that big, beautiful house, alone.  But even more so, because of all that privacy.

So I abandoned that dream.  And I faced reality.  And I found out, as everything fell apart, that the dream house was one of many fantasies I'd been nursing for years.  Much like the fantasy that when you said nothing it was because you understood me and nothing needed to be said.  Like the fantasy that our life together was benefiting both of us, making us both better.  Like the fantasy, the story, the one that took the longest to abandon, that we were forever.  We weren't.

We were a dream house that never really existed in the first place.
And now, standing at the welcome mat for something else, I find myself being pulled into another fantasy.  So many more things to imagine, so many more possibilities.  And they are enticing, warming, ever so intoxicating.  But they are no more real than that dream house that never existed. 

So the challenge, the mental marathon of disciplined thought, is staying here- right where I am, right now, without letting myself be pulled into that ever-so-lovely possible future.  

It's so much more difficult than anything I've ever done.  And yet, it's real.  And it's enough.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

T is for Teacher

 
 As always, a huge shout out to Ninja Minion Master Captain Alex and his army of ninja minions


My Theme: Yoga.  For those of you who don't know, I've been working on obtaining my yoga teacher's certification for the past year and am just a little over a month from graduating with my RYT200.  As such, I figure there's no better way to spend this month than teaching you folks some of what I've learned.
 
In a little over 3 weeks I will be graduating from teacher training and will be a full-fledged teacher.  It's an odd thing to ever feel comfortable calling oneself (which is why I tell people that "I teacher karate" rather than calling myself a karate teacher).  Especially in an endeavor where the entire enterprise is about transcending ego.  So, in all likelihood, I'll end up saying the same thing about yoga- that I teach it.
 
I think it's an important thing to consider, though.  Especially in the days of self-proclaimed gurus who take their status and use it for evil.  There are, unfortunately, many example of individuals who seemed to miss the whole ego-transcendence thing and tout themselves as leaders who then go on to make headlines with charges of sexual assault, abuse, and horrifically unethical treatment of their students.  These people abused the power appointed to them by people who placed them pedestals they never deserved, earned or could stay on.
 
Yoga, as I've been revealing over this month is about a hell of a lot than just asana and I'm no less likely to admire someone who seems to be on the right path and offers advice on how to do the same within my own life.  But here's the thing about the right path: it's something that only you can walk.  Really, there is no "Right path", there's only YOUR PATH.  And how the hell can someone possibly tell you how to walk your path?
 
The obvious answer is that they can't.  Which is why yoga teachers, however wise and transcended they may personally be, are always only just pieces of the overall puzzle that your yourself have to put together.  Lets not hero worship our teachers.  Lets just appreciate them for what they are: folks offering instruction, advice and cheer-leading our efforts.  I think we'd all be a lot better off for it.

Friday, April 22, 2016

S is for Sadhana

 
 As always, a huge shout out to Ninja Minion Master Captain Alex and his army of ninja minions


My Theme: Yoga.  For those of you who don't know, I've been working on obtaining my yoga teacher's certification for the past year and am just a little over a month from graduating with my RYT200.  As such, I figure there's no better way to spend this month than teaching you folks some of what I've learned.
 
Sadhana means "inner alter" and is used to describe one's personal spiritual process.  For practitioners it usually involves some asana (usually ones that nourish a deficient chakra), meditation, artistic expression and some kind-of ritual designed to enhance one's relationships with a higher power.
 
For personal reasons, it exist to nourish one in the way they need to be nourished For ethical reasons, it exists to keep a yoga teacher's classes focused on the needs of the students (because that teacher is meeting their own needs within their sadhana).
 
 For me, my sadhana consists of meditating, chanting Om seven times to align each of my seven chakras, and trying to be open to what the universe has to offer me on a given day.  I do it every morning before I start my day with the hopes that it will allow me to be mindful, focused and aligned.