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The lost letter June 30, 2008

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Do you ever have one of those days where nothing goes right? I only got 4 hours sleep the night before, which always makes for an interesting next day because I’m one of those people who needs at least 8 hours of sleep to function like a normal human being. Anything less means I could have an emotional melt down at any moment…just say, “boo” and it’s all over!

We had a beautiful ceremony to celebrate and honor the journey we all took through the advanced 500 credit hour teacher training program so I stayed up late writing a letter to my yoga teachers, as I wanted them to know how much this course meant to me and how much I appreciated everything they did for us.

I’m a bit of a perfectionist so I put a lot of energy in to finding the right words to truly describe what was in my heart, which wasn’t easy because sometimes emotions are beyond words. I worked on this letter for hours so I was a bit delirious, as I climbed in to bed at 2am.

I saved the letter on my thumb drive and then tried to open it at the studio the next morning, but the computer wouldn’t read it. One of the students thought it was because it was password protected and apple couldn’t recognize it so I took it to Kinkos, but none of the computers there would recognize it either. The lady behind the counter said the data was gone, but it was just there the night before and nothing happened to it from the time I went to bed and the time I got to the studio so I didn’t understand what was going on.

I was a mess by the time I left Kinkos. It was such a beautiful letter so I didn’t understand why I wasn’t meant to have it for the ceremony. It was so important my teachers knew how much they meant and I didn’t think I would ever be able to express my gratitude on the spot so I was really let down. There was nothing I could do so I headed out to the Lake Claire Community Land Trust where we were having the ceremony. I got all turned around and couldn’t find my way and ended up driving in circles, which really wore on my nerves. Not only was I exhausted, I was starving so I was not in any state of mind to be driving around aimlessly.

I called one of my friends since she lived a couple blocks from the Land Trust and knew the area like the back of her hand. She was able to help me find my way so I was relieved when I finally got there and could eat, but then there turned out to be a lot of flies, which made me want to come out of my skin. I know, I know…flies are beings too and yes, I  realize this, but I still couldn’t get over it. I’m not a big fan of trying to eat with flies and their dirty little feet landing all over the food I’m putting in my mouth.

In the Mutant Message from Down Under by Marlo Morgan, the author talks about the Australian Aboriginal Tribe and how they walk miles with swarms of flies around them  without ever flinching because they think of them as divine beings washing their skin clean of any dirt or disease.

It’s truly a beautiful way to look at it and I really tried to see it that way, but I couldn’t. I just wanted to run to my car and get away from the pesky little suckers, which is so not the way I like to think, but it is what it is. Oh, and if I wasn’t already close to a meltdown, my drink totally exploded down the front of me when I opened it. I didn’t turn it upside or anything, but it still came rushing out like a bomb in a fountain…Kombucha is naturally effervescent so it would be kind of like opening a coke after shaking it vigorously. 

At that point, I was done…I gave up…surrendered. It was such a beautiful day and there I was agro and discombobulated so I just had to let go and move past it. It was easy to change moods as the energy at the Land Trust was amazing and of course I was surrounded by 19 of the most diving beings I’ve ever met so how could you not find peace, right?

The ceremony turned out to be 5 hours and was absolutely magical. To try and put it in to words would be an injustice. It’s not something meant to be shared with anyone except for those who were there. What I realized, though, was the letter I wrote was never meant to be read because what I felt sitting in that beautiful circle of love and light was beyond words.

What I received from the course was beneath anything that could come from the mind. The journey was about going “in” and coming out dripping wet with my essential nature. It was about finding that place of silence…that place of stillness that resides beneath any and all thought. And in that place of silence lies the truth of our existence and when I’m in that place and you are in that place…we are in the same place…we are one!

So there I was in that place of silence feeling gratitude and love knowing that my teachers were in that same place. The letter was not necessary because they knew…no words…just truth…the noble truth. Finding that beautiful silence was the most magical gift I ever received. Life comes together at that place and everything just seems to make sense without any kind of effort. I can say the advanced course truly transformed me and for that I will be forever grateful.

The beautiful end to this story came this morning when I put my thumb drive in my computer and found all the data in place. Ironic, huh?  Don’t ask me where it was when I tried to pull it up on SEVEN different computers earlier that day because I don’t know and it doesn’t really matter. I wasn’t meant to read the letter. I just wish I didn’t let it ruin my afternoon because I knew better…everything happens for a reason even if we don’t know the reason at the time!

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Loving Kindness June 29, 2008

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The medicine wheel in the Native American tradition symbolizes the individual journey we all must take to find our own path. Within the wheel are the 4 cardinal directions…all having their own sacred meaning within the circle. East signifies the renewal of life and is about loving kindness, which relates to the 4th chakra…the heart. The earth element associated with the East is Fire, which relates to the 3rd chakra…the solar plexus.

If you combined the beautiful energy of an open loving heart and a perfectly balanced solar plexus, you would get an extremely powerful love unsurpassed by all of mankind. The force of these two energies would be enough to heal the world because there is no greater power than love and when fueled by fire, love would multiply exponentially impregnating the entire world.

On the contrary, if you combined a closed heart and an unbalanced solar plexus, you would surface the lower emotions such as hate, worry, anger, and fear. Relationships would be impacted, feelings hurt, egos fed, and the spirit would be buried under unhealthy thoughts and emotions. 

Too many people are closed down and don’t have the capacity to love, but without love there is fear and where there is fear, there is anger. These negative emotions have a strong impact on the energetic body, as the vital life force becomes congested or depleted. Negative energy turns in to disease, but people don’t realize what’s happening until its too late so its important we cultivate more loving kindness in order to bring us back to our essential nature.

Being positive expands the heart, which produces more love and fills the entire energy body with divine light.  It takes a lot more energy to be afraid or angry at someone, but loving someone is natural. Just think of a newborn baby. Imagine him smiling up at you with inquisitive eyes that tell the story of his soul. Feel his soft tiny little fingers against the warmth of your skin. See his little toes move around with such freedom and joy. Watch his belly rise and fall with every breath…so natural and free. Feel the love radiate from within this tiny little being as you hold him close to your heart.

When we are in the presence of a child, the ego seems to escape…freeing the mind from thought, role playing and the mistaken identities associated with the material world. Children bring us to a place of bliss…pure consciousness…utter joy…a place of stillness where silence breathes…the place where when you are in that place and I’m in that place, we are one.

That is the beauty of a child…he breathes love…taking us back to that place of interconnectedness. We need to open our hearts and send out more loving kindness to the world…to our families…to our friends…to our lovers…to everyone we meet. Love and positive thoughts will heal this planet…one soul at a time.

Let us honor the East and the new beginnings that await us…let us honor the paths that brought us here to this day and the paths that will take us through tomorrow and beyond…let us honor the power that lies within each and everyone of us…let us honor our beautiful loving open hearts…om shanti!

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Yoga Teacher Training June 25, 2008

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Yoga Teacher Training is a remarkable journey! I graduated the 200 hour course at Peachtree Yoga Center in February 2008 and then went directly in to the Advanced Teacher Training program. Combined, these courses literally revolutionized the way I live. At first, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to get out of it, but I knew intuitively it was something I needed to do.

I went in thinking I knew who I was, but found out there was a completely different person beneath all the layers of memories, experiences and influences programmed from the past. I spent my whole life reacting to life and then suffering from the consequences of my reactions. My mind defined me according to my career, material possessions, relationships, social status, and other things that lived outside of me (having nothing to do with “me”).

Teaching Training explored not just the physical, but the emotional, the mental, and the energetic body. We were given the proper tools to get in and change old self-defeating thought patterns and emotional programming. This purification led me to a place of stillness and balance. I didn’t realize the importance of Pantanjali’s 8 limbs of yoga until I took the course and was taught the value of incorporating these principals of moral conduct in to my everyday life. It wasn’t just about the physical practice or learning how to teach the poses. It was about being ethical and having integrity and living life from a place of authenticity. It was about having self-discipline and detaching from the external world and the roles we play . It was about breathing and cultivating a sense of internal awareness of who we are beyond the labels and material possessions. It was about concentration and meditation. It was about enlightenment being a journey and not a destination.

It was about finding a delicate balance of effort and inertia. I spent years trying to achieve a place of equanimity where the lows weren’t so low and the highs weren’t so high, but it wasn’t until teacher training that I learned how to achieve a place of stillness amongst the activity of every day life. I didn’t want to become a monk and go live in the mountains and meditate. I wanted to live every day life with every day people without being attached or having expectations or letting the world’s suffering affect me. I wanted to experience life from a place of peace. I wanted to dance with life and breathe in to existence without feeling fear or anger for all the ignorance.

The 8 limbs helped me understand why balance was so important and why asanas on their own couldn’t bring a state of equanimity. It was an enriching and profound discovery that led me to adopt these principals personally and professionally.  The mediation and pranayama played a huge component in my transformation. By use of a mantra I was able to empower myself to go beyond the ensuing thoughts. I was able to drop in to a place of silence where I experienced an eternal freedom. I found a place of stillness where there was infinite possibilities and untold wisdom. Once you know who you are the world opens up to you…the sky’s the limit. The world becomes yours because you realize you are the world and the world is you…there is no separation of self and the whole…there is no longer an ”I.” It’s about union…the divine whole of all the individual counterparts that make up the universe.

When you reach this place, which is your true essential nature, everything in your life changes. Your relationships improve because you finally have the ability to communicate from a place of truth and truth is always about love…loving yourself and the world in which we live. It makes you a better teacher because you are practicing what you teach.

I will be forever in debt and utterly grateful to my divine teachers at Peachtree. Teacher Training gave me a safe space to do the work I needed to grow and open my eyes to something far greater than anything I ever expected. I weaved myself a little cocoon where I went deep within myself and flew out a beautiful radiant butterfly who was finally free. Peachtree is the Mother Tree and Graham and Ursula are the inner being of that tree. They are the soul of the studio and they speak the truth…they live the truth…they are the truth. They truly get it and they dedicate their lives unselfishly to helping others find their own truth…their internal light…the light that shines out from within.

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Another perspective June 19, 2008

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Conscious awareness is the key to a healthy relationship because it enables you to communicate through your essential nature instead of in your mind, which just conjures up ridiculous thoughts and unnecessary emotions. When we live in thought forms or the ego-driven self, we do not respond to situations from a place of love, which is why I got so mad this evening when my friend told me he was going to be late for dinner. 

We had plans to go out after my yoga, which usually gets out around 7:15-7:30. I brought a change of clothes with me since we were meeting between 7:45 and 8:00 and I wouldn’t have the time to go home first.  At 7:30 I got a text message saying he was going to be late and asked if we could meet at 8:30. I was irritated because I didn’t have the option to go home and suddenly had 45 minutes to burn. It might not have bothered me as much had he not been late the last time we got together, but making a girl wait twice is not what I call “earning brownie points” and I hate waiting…especially since I’m one of those people who is always on time.

My initial knee-jerk reaction went something like this, “What? He’s going to be late AGAIN??? I should have known !#$%^&* (that’s me cursing). Lovely…I see how important I am and what a priority our date is to him. And why is he going to be late? Because he was at the gym and didn’t realize the time? It’s rude to keep someone waiting…especially a second time! It’s inconsiderate. He knew what time we were suppose to meet…why couldn’t he schedule his time accordingly. It’s not rocket science. Now I have to sit and wait and I HATE to wait, but whatever, right? What other option do I have at this point? Be mad…tell him I don’t want to meet him anymore?”

 My ego wanted to be mad, but I didn’t want to be mad…what a waste of beautiful energy! I had to interrupt all the nonesense running through my mind so I took a deep breath and then thought about it from a different perspective.

The flip side went something like this, “Oh, who cares…he’s going to be late…it’s nothing new…he’s always late. He’s not really being inconsiderate or disrespecting our relationship…he’s just one of those people who gets caught up in the moment and is never really worried about planning ahead. He’s always running around at the last minute taking care of stuff…it didn’t matter if he was getting on an airplane or moving out of an apartment or an office space or going to a wedding or meeting me for dinner…he just always seemed to be on ”his” time.

Does this mean he’s wrong and I’m right because I’m always on time and he’s always late? Of course not. It just means that we are different and we have different habits and sometimes our habits conflict. It’s life and you can’t change someone just because their priorities are different than yours. Sure, I could have been mad at him, but that would have ruined our entire evening. My other option was to let it go and be at peace with what was happening.

 As it turned out, I ended up getting all turned around and got lost so had he not been late, it would have been me…either way we weren’t there by 8:00 and there was a wait anyway so what was the big deal, right? I ended up ordering myself a drink from the bar and just hanging out watching people come and go. It was a beautiful evening and the  moon was full so it was actually nice having the space to just “be!”

Had I allowed myself to get upset the evening would have been quite different and not so peaceful so I’m glad I made the choice to let it go.   It certainly takes a lot more energy to be negative so why even bother? Try it sometime. Just be aware of the next time you feel yourself starting to get upset with someone and use it as an opportunity to see things differently. You’ll be amazed at the difference in how you react. All it takes is a little self-awareness and life gets easier.

 Some critics would say, “Well it IS rude to be late and keep someone waiting and you shouldn’t let it go without speaking your truth.” I say, “Who cares? Does it really matter? He’s not going to change whether or not I get upset about it. It’s my decision whether or not to go out with him knowing he will probably be late so I only have myself to blame. I have to accept him for who he is and if I can’t then I shouldn’t make plans with him. We all have the choice to react negatively or just stay in a beautiful space. Thoughts are extremely powerful and if looking at life in a more positive way brings a sense of peace and equanimity than why waste time on being negative? It just doesn’t make sense.

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Golf June 11, 2008

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I played my first game of golf and it was AWESOME!!! I always wondered why the boys liked it so much, but I was never invited to play so I didn’t think much about it. Now I know…the secret is out. It all made sense to me standing out in the middle of the golf course surrounded by trees and blankets of lush green. The only sound you heard was nature. It was quiet and pristine. The course moved around and about mother earth’s natural curves. It was beautiful and perfectly serene.

I realized something profound as I stood there at one of the pars with my driver in hand concentrating intently on the ball I was getting ready to hit…it was completely silent…not a word spoken nor a golf cart heard. It was just me, the greens, the driver, and the ball. I was fully present…not in the past or the future…just standing there in the now. This is why guys love the sport…this is their meditation…their Zen…their place of peace. I suddenly understood why so many business deals were made on the golf course and why so many men love to play. Being out on the golf course enables professionals to get out of their head…to let go of their thoughts and just be present with whatever comes up and whatever comes up is most often what is most true because truth will only show it’s face when the mind is quiet enough to listen to the pure consciousness that exists within all of us.  A business decision made in the present moment without any analytical thinking or forced thought forms is usually the best decision for all involved.

The insight was incredible. So much made sense and it just made me smile. Awareness is a beautiful thing! I find it quite ironic how quickly I fell in love with the sport considering I never thought in a million years I would ever step foot on a golf course. It gave me the same high as a yoga class. It was beautiful. Golf is definitely a form of meditation and I finally understand why so many golf pros are being advised to take up yoga to shave strokes off their game and to lower their scores.

Golf is an asymmetrical sport and although yoga is comprised of many asymmetrical poses, the full practice is all about symmetry. Yoga is all about balance and concentration, which are two key components in a game of golf. Many people get caught up in the bio mechanics of the swing losing focus on the mental aspect of the game.  Proper breathing techniques brings more attention to the swing, which is crucial considering all the details involved. Another reason to increase mental clarity is to manage the intense emotions that arise during a game. Professional golf players are much better equipped to handle fear and anger that arise when yoga is incorporated in to their life.

Twists and lower back strengthening are key yoga poses for those looking to improve their game.  These and other poses will strengthen the very muscles that cause major swing faults when too tight. This includes the forearms, wrists and hands, which rarely get stretched and can cause inadequacies in a golfer’s swing.  Yoga will also improve flexibility and will structurally align the body so you are better able to move in a full range of motion gaining more power in the upper and lower body. 

Yoga and golf are a unique marriage of two distinctly similar worlds. It is a natural union of the mind and body…the bio mechanic and energetic. Golf is an intense sport driven by power, accuracy, posture, balance and focus. It requires a calm centered mental state, which is the very principals of any yoga practice. Before you turn your nose up to yoga, think again…yoga will bring a balanced emotional state, increase in strength and flexibility, and peace of mind. 

I didn’t just score 1 double bogey, but 3 in my first game and the second game I got a double bogey and a par…how’s that for a beginner? Listen to the ego brag, right?  Hey, I’m still human. Besides, I was proud of the two games I played. It was so much fun and I can’t thank my brothers and cousin enough for being so patient with me. They treated me just like one of the guys, which made it that much more. They even shared their cigars…woo rah!!! I probably would not have enjoyed it as much had I been in different company. I needed to play with people who were willing to teach and be patient with the process, as well as, be forgiving with all the balls I lost in the water, woods, and sand pits. Thanks guys…you rock!!!  

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