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Breaking through the core May 29, 2008

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I have been doing a lot of work on myself and as a result, I’ve released a lot of emotional baggage. There are no words to describe the intensity of the spiritual journey I’ve been on or the things I’ve learned about myself in the process. There were times I just wanted to quit…end the journey…stop discovering and unveiling parts of myself I didn’t know were there. It was much easier when I wasn’t doing the work and just living day-to-day without an understanding of why things happen the way they do or the underlying reason why people behave in certain ways because let’s face it…ignorance is bliss.

Sometimes I wish I never had the  yearning to know more…to go further…to delve deeper, but there’s no turning back…the journey began years ago, as there was something inside me that wanted to know the deeper meaning of life and I didn’t want to settle for mediocrity…I wanted something greater. I didn’t know what that meant, but that’s where the journey began…it was in the wanting to know more that my awareness started to unfold. All anyone has to do is set the intention and the path is theirs.

The journey was downright painful at times and emotionally draining because you have to face yourself, which is no small mountain to climb. People want to blame others or throw themselves in to work or distract themselves rather than look in the mirror and face the fact that we are living through a false sense of self. It’s much easier to remain unconscious and walk around being attached to the emotional, mental and physical forms we identify as ourselves, but we are so much more and there’s great beauty in awakening to the place in us that is beyond form.

I’ve been peeling off layers of the onion for years, but the process was accelerated when I started teacher training back in October. I knew it was going to be a lot of work, but I was willing to put in the time because I wanted to be free from anything that was holding me back. I wanted to break down the walls I built around my heart to protect the genuine place in me where we are all one…where we connect as one pure consciousness. That part of us that is immediately veiled the moment we are given identities by those around us.  

Unfortunately it was a process because there were so many layers of crap I had to get through, but I think I was finally able to break through the molten core that hardened after so many years of protecting myself. Metaphorically speaking, I allowed the core to crack open as I dropped back in to the full wheel (see the “Emotional Release through Asana” post). The shattering I felt throughout my body was the armor falling away and it left me feeling vulnerable and open in a way I’ve never felt before. So many emotions came rushing to the surface…anger and resentment led the way and these emotions came out of nowhere, but I allowed myself to be with whatever came up, which gave me the freedom and space to finally let go and with that came a sense of freedom that was incomprehensible.

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Cutting the chords May 11, 2008

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I woke up feeling heavy in the heart…thinking about my ex-boyfriend and my life and what I was going to do in the next couple of weeks when my job ended. The stress was starting to get to me and I was feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders so I decided to go out in Nature and ask for a little guidance from mother earth by having a Native American ceremony.

Tobacco was typcially used as a peace offering in traditional Native American ceremonies so I bought my very first bag of loose tobacco. The guy behind the counter said, “Cool…you roll your own…” “WHAT? Roll my own??? No, no, NO… this is for a little ceremony I’m doing.” He didn’t know quite what to say, as I’m sure I’m the first person that ever walked in to his head shop asking for organic tobacco as a peace offering, but he just rang me up and acted like it wasn’t a big deal.

I trotted off to one of my favorite parks right along the Hooch. First, I ran the trail and then I asked the Universe for the perfect place to have my ceremony. I was immediately guided to this little opening off the beaten path. It looked a bit secluded and away from all the foot traffic, but once I got closer, I realized it was a little cubby that sat along the bank of the river. It was quaint, but it seemed a bit dark and enclosed so I turned to head back, but something stopped me. My gut said it was the right place and it felt safe and surrounded by a lot of love so I decided to stay. There were big tall trees lined with vines, an array of wildlife, the river, a nice little space for me to sit down, and one of the roots of the tree was actually in the shape of a heart so I knew I was destined to be there.

I wasn’t really sure the exact format of a traditional ceremony so I just went with my gut and invoked divine energy and the power of the four cardinal directions. I invoked the energy of all the elements and then I shared many thanks to mother earth…I apologized for anything I ever did consciously or otherwise to hurt myself or anyone else and then I forgave anyone who ever hurt me intentional or otherwise.

I spoke my prayers in to the tobacco and then buried it in the ground. I thanked the spirits and then asked them to help me cut the chord that was still connecting me to the energy of the relationship which ended back in December, as I was holding on to a lot of emotions of what happened between us. I needed to let go of it, as my heart ached to be free from all the anger and sadness I was feeling. I imagined my ex-boyfriend sitting in front of me and then I told him I loved him, as I asked for the chords to be cut so I could move on and find peace. Well no sooner did I ask, a huge branch from one of the trees came falling out of the sky right between the two energies I was focusing on. It scared the living crap out of me, but I instantly knew it was my undeniable sign that my prayer had been answered. It was as if mother earth literally came right out of the sky and cut the chords.

Of course there are cynics who would say it was just a branch and totally unrelated, but the energy of the moment said differently. The wind blew and the leaves rustled throughout the trees and then a beam of light came shining through this little opening filling the entire cubby with sunshine and there I was…free…free as a bird. I stood up, smiled, said thank you, and then left my little spot to bask in the afternoon sun.

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Cinco de Mayo May 10, 2008

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I love Cinco de Mayo, as it tends to be a chill down-to-earth holiday where there’s rarely any drama and usually a lot of camaraderie. I don’t know if it’s the tequila or quesadillas, but people just love the 5th day of May. The holiday fell on a Monday this year, which isn’t the ideal day to go out when you have to work the next day, but it didn’t seem to stop anyone…especially not me. As soon as my roommate asked if I wanted to go out, I said, “Uh,YES!!!” I’m not usually one to go out during the week because it’s not really the “responsible” thing to do, but I felt the need to let my hair down, as I had a really rough weekend. I just wanted to go out and be human and forget about life for a while.

I didn’t meditate or go to yoga like I usually do…I went to kickboxing instead and took my frustrations out on the heavy bag…it felt great…what therapy! I felt so alive when I left the gym…all I wanted to do was go out and get crazy. I was on fire and there was no stopping me. I just wanted to go out and have some fun.

I should tell you I haven’t had hard alcohol since last October when I started the yoga teacher training program so drinking several margaritas on a empty stomach probably wasn’t the greatest idea, but I wasn’t really thinking about it at the time. I was mingling and laughing and having a good time. We went to La Paz in Vinings and everybody there was friendly…like a big happy family yet we were all strangers in a bar…that’s the beauty of Cinco de Mayo…it brings people together.

A bunch of us left and went to my roommate’s friend’s place, which happened to be a farm house she manages for some guy. My roommate keeps her horses there so I finally got to meet the babies. I barely remember the drive home or leaving the stable, but I do remember hugging up on her horses and giving them kisses.

I woke up in the morning with my clothes strewn across the floor and to the sound of my phone ringing. My head was buzzing and the room spinning as I answered with a scratchy dehydrated, ”hello.” It was my roommate asking if I were okay. I asked her what time it was and she said, ”Its 8:30!” I said, “Oh no, oh no…it’s 8:30? I was supposed to be at work 30 minutes ago…Crap, CRAP…gotta go!”  

I don’t know how I managed to make it to work or look remotely half way decent, but it was the longest day of my life and nothing took away the pounding in my head or the upset feeling in my belly. It was awful and I swore off Margaritas for the rest of my life…well…until next Cinco de Mayo. For better or for worse, I had an awesome time and I successfully accomplished my desire to go out and let my hair down!!! 

Yogis are human too so don’t forget to honor the side of you that needs to go out every now and again, but don’t beat yourself for it when you do. I’m the queen of that and it doesn’t serve me or anyone else so honor all sides of yourself without judgment. 

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Emotional Release Through Asana May 9, 2008

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If you practice yoga long enough you will eventually experience what yogis call an “emotional release.” Strong emotions and repressed traumas create memories, which can be held in the body for years. Our bodies are incredibly intelligent and our conscious thoughts directly affect our subconscious mind. The old adage says we are what we eat and so goes the mind.  We are what we think.  If you harbor negative thoughts and emotions, there’s a high probability your life experiences will reflect the same. Think about it…you never hear a wealthy person saying how broke he is and you never see a person who says their always broke with money. We should all be more cognitive of our thoughts, as the mind is very powerful.

It’s important to know we are not just physical bodies…we have energetic bodies as well and when the flow of energy through the body is impeded by negatively charged emotions or destructive thought patterns, the cellular structure of our bodies become damaged resulting in disease and illness. People would rather put their emotions behind them than deal with the pain of feeling them, but your body doesn’t want to deal with them any more than you do. We hold on to a lot more than you think and the beauty of yoga is that it works on all levels whether you are conscious of it or not.

Just how an insect may get trapped in a spider’s web, emotional trauma can get entangled in the web of fascia that protects and isolates the muscles in the body. Aanas work with the breath to open the muscles and the connective tissue that envelope these parts of the body. Opening up and stretching this fascia, releases the emotions, which can be healing on many levels. If this stuff isn’t released, it will turn in to disease because it wants out and the body will do everything in it’s power to get rid of it.

It’s a very beautiful experience to open up and let go and yoga allows people to do this in a safe nurturing environment. Having an emotional release on the mat means your body is healing itself naturally. Even if you had a perfect childhood, there were moments when your needs weren’t met in some way or another. Emotions attached to these experiences and if the emotions had a strong enough charge, the likelihood of them being trapped in your body is very high. All of us have stuff that needs to be released. It’s just a matter of how we go about doing it. Some people prefer therapy…others energy work…and then there are those who just allow their bodies to get sick rather than deal with it, but there are so many tools availabe if you’re willing to do the work. Yoga is just one of those tools.

Similar to jumping off a mountain, a strong asana practice can push you to your limits, taking you beyond what you thought possible. It’s all about stepping out of your safety net and reaching a place to where you have no control and when you make the decision to take that kind of step, you find things out about yourself you never knew. I’ve had many emotional releases in my life and many of them have been through my yoga practice, but something happened to me the other night that was quite different from the rest. 

After doing two rounds of back bends, my teacher asked if anyone wanted to do a wall drop back. I had done many drop backs with the support of a teacher so I thought, “yeah, sure…why not…I can do it.” Keep in mind I had no idea what a wall drop back was, but I was feeling warm and a little bold so I thought, “Why not?” You stand with your back to the wall…about a foot in front…you put your hands on the wall above your head as if you were prepping to do a full wheel….you slowly begin to walk your hands down the wall as your feet walk forward…you do this until you walk yourself completely down the wall in to a full back bend.

Up until the half way point I was doing pretty good…it was challenging and I liked the fact that I was pushing myself to the edge,  but then all of a sudden I moved past the half way point and my body froze. I was stuck and I couldn’t move. I was literally terrified…scared to death. The only other time I remember feeling that way was  the first time I stepped off the side of a mountain looking my boyfriend square in the eyes knowing full well it could be the last time I ever saw him.

I came very close to screaming for my teacher, but then I thought, “I made it this far…I can do this…I’m going for it…” And there it was…the moment of truth…I took one more step out with my feet and then released one hand and then the other from the wall as both hands made contact with the mat beneath me and it was in that exact moment I felt an explosion of energy pour out from my heart and through my entire chest and then down my legs and arms. I just froze there in full wheel scared to death. I thought if I moved a single inch my entire body would  come crumbling down to the ground. I took a couple deep breaths and then moving slowly, released myself down one vertebrae at a time. The moment my entire back body was in full contact with the mat, I began to cry. 

I have no idea what I released or where it came from, but it was powerful and extremely healing and I felt like a new person that night. Whatever it was is gone and my body was able to do let go of it on a subconcious level without me ever knowing where it came from or why it was there so I encourage you to  come to the mat with the intention of letting go…releasing whatever it is in your body that wants/needs to go. It’s about making room for new energy and higher emotions. You will be amazed at the gifts you receive just by allowing yourself to heal in this way. Go ahead…break though…let go and heal.

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Judgments May 4, 2008

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Do you ever stop and think about the negative judgments you make towards other people? And even if you’re a Saint, you’re still human so don’t think for a second you’re above it. We all make judgments and not necessarily with malicious intent. Our minds have a way of naturally labeling people whether we like it or not. Judgments come as freely as thought and there’s a difference between judgments that surface subconsciously and those that are intentional.

We don’t want to look at ourselves or take responsibility for our imperfections so instead of looking within ourselves, we find fault and blame in others, but the things we don’t like in other people are usually things we don’t like about ourselves. It took me a really long time to realize this, but I see it more and more in my life every day.

I went out to dinner with some friends not too long ago and I found myself getting really irritated over something really stupid. One of the guys is a really good friend of mine and I respect him immensely yet I found myself judging him, as I watched him devour his own plate of food and then everyone else’s at the table. Of course he’s one of those people who is extremely lean without an ounce of fat and can eat whatever he wants so he doesn’t have to worry about it. The table even ordered a couple desserts for everyone to share, but he had more than his fair share and for some reason it annoyed me. 

Once I stopped and asked myself why it bothered me so much, I realized my jealous ego was at play. I love sugar and would eat it all the time if I could, but I can’t. I’m not one of those people who can eat whatever she wants. I have to work for my body and watch everything I eat. We all have those times where our appetite is insatiable, but not all of us can indulge. Does that give us the right to judge those who can? Absolutely not! 

I had no right to judge him and of course I didn’t mean to, but that’s the thing about judgments…they often surface from the unconcious self who I typically refer to as the “ego!” It’s usually those closest to us that offer the most insight in to ourselves so the next time you find yourself judging someone, stop for a minute and ask yourself where it’s coming from and be open to what arises.

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The Eleventh Hour May 2, 2008

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There’s something really powerful to the cliche “Eleventh Hour.” We use it all the time yet so many people give very little thought to the significance of it. Wikipedia says, “The Eleventh Hour is an expression referring to the last moments before a deadline or the imminence of a decisive or “final” moment.” There are books, film titles, songs, and television shows named after the expression and it has been known to be traced back to the last moments of the First World War, which ended on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of the year 1918. I would say it’s a pretty powerful expression!

The expression actually runs quite rampant in my life and sometimes I think it’s the Universe trying to be funny because resolution to any type of major life change usually doesn’t come until the very last minute. It’s like the moment I’m ready to lose it and curse God for leaving me to fend for myself, the waters spread and divine light comes shining through. Talk about living life on the edge! It makes me crazy sometimes because there’s plenty of time for stuff to happen…for energy to flow…but nothing…the universe just makes me wait and sometimes to the very last second and then wallah…clarity comes…resolution…prayers answered. I suppose it’s better than no answers at all, but I sure wish my fate wasn’t on a need-to-know basis.

My company was bought out at the end of last year so my job was scheduled to end March 31st. I was really stressed out about what I was going to do because nothing was happening on the job front. I started pounding the pavement a couple months back and had several leads that didn’t span out. It was frustrating and I tried desperately not to let it get to me until about a week before my last day when I began to wonder if my Angels were off somewhere on a smoke break.

Low and behold, my supervisor approached me the very next day and asked if I could extend my contract a couple more months. It was an absolute blessing…a huge relief and reminder to have faith and let things go to which I have no control. I can only do so much and then the rest is in the hands of the higher power who, by the way, has never let me down before so I don’t know why I continue to worry about things that I know are going to turn out in the end.

Another Eleventh Hour sigh of relief came last night when I went to teach the last class of my eight week yoga course. Many of my students asked if I were teaching through the next session so I was really bummed to tell them I wasn’t put on the schedule. I just assumed someone else was taking over the class because nobody ever said anything to me. I had grown quite fond of my students and I wasn’t ready to leave them. I felt a little sad and heavy in the heart as I walked in to the building to teach my last class. I didn’t want it to be my last, but I also knew if the Universe had other plans for me than I had to honor the divine plan at work and trust in the higher power. It’s just hard to let go, as we are born controllers…wanting to know our own destiny and the exact paths to get there.

I saw the Program Coordinator before my class and she apologized for not responding to the email I sent asking if she would consider opening up another class for the summer session. She told me she already scheduled me to teach and just got busy and forgot to tell me. You can’t imagine how elated I was to hear her say that…I was speechless and just overwhelmed with gratitude. The best part was getting to share the news with my students and not having to say good-bye.  I guess my angels weren’t on a smoke break after all…they were just waiting for the Eleventh Hour!

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