Tag Archives: meditation

Video

How do I know if I’m STUCK?

Do you find yourself ready to get started and then every five minutes checking your phone? Changing your music playlist? or my go-to…opening and closing the refrigerator door? Watch this video about being stuck…and getting unstuck!

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Video

The Big “Why?”

It’s here…or almost here…SCHOOL! What’s the answer to your Big WHY?

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The Dark Side…

Many emotions last week as I embarked on training week #2. Old patterns of thinking kept coming up-the pushing, the needing, and feeling like, “I can’t.” I  am also having some pain in my left foot that I want to be mindful of. I’m not going to push through and hurt myself and yet at the same time there’s a need to have a little bit of fire under my butt to keep going. So while I am committed to training in-so-far as it feels like I am taking care of myself I’ll do it. If September comes and I don’t feel ready then I’ll let it go.

Lately, a sickening feeling of rage and frustration around how lost I’ve gotten, after a year of quiet, into the world of consumption have come up for me. And it feels that, a practice that I so carefully cultivated around just being, is dissipating.

The addiction of indulgence has once again returned. It’s obviously natural to want and it’s a beautiful practice to give oneself a treat every once in awhile. But that treat (for me)  turns so easily into a desperate need to have that thing, to complete that goal, to get everything finished….

…I used to feel very much that if I didn’t keep pushing I would lose something vital to who I was. But now I see it as an ingrained habit and the patterns of thinking that say, “See! I told you you weren’t good enough! You just need to keep at it (at what?) and then you will have what you need to be happy.” And as if that thought pattern wasn’t enough of a blow there’s a whole story and judgment that goes along with that too.

I’m angry this morning at another careless act of leaving bike shoes outside my house that are no longer there. It’s not the money. It’s the judgment around, now, making another purchase around my carelessness.

I teach and preach  forgiveness, patience, and self-compassion; fundamental to the “undoing” of ourselves.  I am grateful to have developed and be supported   in a practice of such mindfulness; it reminds me in all these times of feelings, whether frustration or elation, and the judgement and stories that go with them, to just be still with them and if I’m so lucky, to return to a state of just being.

 

 

 

 

 

To Be A Teacher

“Are you ready to fly solo?” the text read. “Kristen went into early labor so you’re on your own tomorrow!” On a Tuesday in late October I entered Humanities Left at 8am with some knowledge of myths needing to be completed.  I was taking over for the 6th grade teacher out on maternity leave. Thinking that time was on our side Kristen and I had met the previous Friday going over the classroom routines and then  planned for a week together where I would shadow Kristen and then gradually be released into the world of humanities.

Well, babies have their own timing and Kristen was in Labor and I was standing alone in front of a bunch of sixth graders. What, I wondered, would  a three month stint back in the classroom bring? Stomach flipping anxiety? Fun? Would I be able to let go of the classroom at the end of the day or keep my experiences tied into who I was as a person, my self-worth included?

What I found , during that three month stint, finally was a growing sensation that  I could finally be myself. Certainly there were rough stints.

One day was especially hard. After a week of teaching, tutoring, and babysitting I burst through the doors of my house practically in tears. “What’s wrong?” asked Swami Ramananda. . As I recalled the daily digest and also expressed frustration at myself for feeling a need for control, he said, “Hmm..can you notice your behavior without responding to it?”

What was it about the classroom then that I felt I had to control others’ behavior? I watched myself one day as I got into a futile argument with a student over paper. Hmm. Would the result of the argument help the objectives of the assignment? Or just prove to this ego that I am the teacher and therefore in “control.” If the argument didn’t go my way then what? Was I not in control?

Taking Ramananda’s advice, I began to watch my behavior. Were there times, when altough I might not agree with a student’s decision, I could let it go? And what happened if I did? As I stepped back, the classroom became it’s own entity in which I was a part but not in charge of.Students come to me for help, and I started to only interfere if I felt that a student needed to be guided back on track to reach the objectives of the class.

More and more I let the class become truly about the students and I as an ally to guide them along.  One student in particular if not given specific directions would spend the class gazing at the ceiling or tying his shoe. One day I asked him, “What is it that you need from me to help you feel successful?” The shift from having all the answers to a collaboration with the students  shifted the space dramatically.

I will also say that this was a class that allowed for an easy collaboration. The classroom so varies on the personalities that it brings. It’s not always the case that I, or any teacher can so easily step back and let the classroom be as it is.

Children reveal our greatest vulnerabilities. Child professionals and parents have an especially big sensitivity button that when pushed can spill tears, rage, blame, love, hugs, and praise sometimes all in one blubbery sentence! It is easy to put one’s exbrokennpectations of self-worth, and measures of success and failures on that of a child as they have an easy way of exposing adults for whom they really are. Inside we feel a great sense of pride when these children experience a certain measure of success and a bout of dissapointment when they don’t measure up to one’s expectations.

When a child appears resistant or shows a lack of understanding it is easy to jump into fix-it mode. With what could appear as stalled movements forward fix-it mode can turn into desperation which can spew blame, dissapointment,frustration, and sadness by the adults around him or her.Is it possible that while we are applying all of our knowledge to those that need it,we can also just be by their side and let them know that they are not broken, but loved just as  they are?

Connection and empathy are  often the most empowering gestures that we can give and receive. The ablity to sit with a student and be with him or her exactly where he or she is in struggle or success is a practice. As authors Michael I. Bennet and Sarah Bennet express in their book F*ck Feelings, “It’s the loving parents of self-hating kids who are genuinely the most amazing, specialest, snowflake parents of all.” In the acceptance of that self-hating child or whatever stage they are in, allowing him/her to  just being perfect in their imperfections we are also showing ourselves that same acceptance which, at the end of the day, may (or may not) help us take a step forward.

 

 

A Celebration of a Soul

In many eastern religions we learn that the body and mind are not real. Therefore thoughts and feelings are not there. In fact they are distractions that keep us from self-realization. When we learn to witness our thoughts similar as we might witness a movie or the clouds in the sky we become detached from our thoughts and have a steadier mind.

A month ago, I returned to Yogaville, the ashram in Virginia where I received my yoga teacher training to assist in a yoga teacher teaching program. At a staff check-in towards the beginning of the month I said, “I am so excited to be here, and my one worry is about being far away from a friend who is terminally ill.”

Sure enough, yesterday, an hour after I had landed in San Francisco I received a phone message that this dear friend, after living and fighting cancer for two years, passed on. I listened to the message passively. I called the person who informed me of her death, and as I spoke tears unexpectedly flung from my eyes.

Today, a day after finding out this news,I find myself in a strange state of being grounded in my very present life of what’s going on and also feeling sad and confused.

For all the books I have read in the past few weeks, conversations that I’ve held, friends that have had parents and partners and other loved ones passed on, I can’t get a handle on this whole “death”. It’s the way I don’t understand letters as numbers or the way I want to see the intestines squeezing toxins out of the body in a half-spinal twist. Really? How? 

I can’t feel it. I can’t relate to it. And I can’t take an airplane there. So then how is death real? Yoga would say it’s not. It’s an illusion. But my very rational type A self says, “But she won’t use her voice to communicate with me anymore!” and yoga would say there’s no “she” and there’s no “me.” And yet, I am not so disconnected from my body and mind that I don’t feel a very real sadness or see her physical death as a serious loss to the material world.

I also don’t understand how I don’t understand. People grieve every day for loved ones. Grief isn’t mine, it’s a collective feeling in which every one has experienced. And yet the feeling is so personal.

In a talk about anxiety, a psychologist spoke about how some patients who came to him were so infused with the importance of positive-talk that they were afraid to speak aloud their fears and anxieties. The psychologist made it clear that positive talk is a good thing if it clears the anxiety. For some, though, it is an avoidance tactic. And speaking those anxieties aloud, allowing yourself to really feel the feelings might actually be  coming up (even if they are not positive) might help in relieving anxiety.

Often times when friends express uncomfortable feelings I say, “It’s there. It’s uncomfortable, And it’s okay.”

I’m uncomfortable. I guess it’s okay.

There is a collective of family and friends who love this woman very much and have been sharing pictures and stories to celebrate her life. My friend said to me yesterday, “Let’s get together soon. Eat something. Talk about our friend, and maybe even cry together.”

On the one hand, grounded in  practice of meditation and yoga I witness the sadness, the anger, and the frustration at the grief and the incomprehensibility of it all. And on the other, I let myself feel all of it while being uncomfortable. I Perhaps by doing so, there will be some relief .

As a collective we will share our happiness and love of this woman, and also the sadness of our loss.

And in doing so we join hands with however many more in this world who have grieved in the past and will join hands with that many more who will grieve in the future. Perhaps this connection will, just for a minute, give us some peace.

Live on, darling. Thank you for your light.

When in doubt, the answer is generally “stop”

And to add to the simple answer of “Stop,” you might say, like Thich Nhat Hanh, “Breathe, smile, and go slowly.”

So many problems arise in the world from people doing.  Doing, doing, doing.  We forget that we are often referred to as Human Beings rather than Human doings.  Being is a much more enlightened experience than doing.

D0ing is actually an illusion that stems from identifying with the mind/body.  Ultimately, we are not the doer!  We are the watcher, the consciousness, and we can choose to enjoy the show every step of the way, even if the body/mind is just sitting and breathing, focusing on the breath.

So, when in doubt – stop!  The ego/mind can easily start to say, “But why are you stopping?  All this needs to be done!  This and this must be changed!  There is so much to do and so little time.  Let’s go, go go, now, now, now!”  Ahh, what an illusion.  The ego/mind loves to think that it knows what is right.  It loves to think it knows and has the power to judge right and wrong, good and bad.  Of course, the knowledge the ego/mind operates is incomplete, so ultimately it cannot know.  Who/what is the ego/mind to think it knows what is right and wrong to do in the world?  Surely, the world has existed long before it, and will continue to exist long after it.

So really, the humble answer to any question is “Stop.”  Just being is enough.  Doing is not necessary.  The doing will follow.  But first it is important to center and ground our beingness in Love, in Goodness, in Peace.  We must be what we want to see and experience in the world.  For Peace in the world, experience Peace oneself.  Charity starts at home.  Peace starts at home.  It all starts with our individual, subjective experience.  And from there we build our castles!  We must achieve peaceful ends by peaceful means, Peace is Every Step!

And what is one of the most Peaceful actions/non-actions imaginable?  How about sitting quietly, just breathing, maybe smiling.  Whatever goes on internally is up to you.  Prayer, meditation, sending out love to the world, all these holy, sacred activities seem to be most easily practiced sitting still and silent.

There is ultimately nothing to do, no where to go.  God takes care.  God provides.  God sustains.  God supports and loves, unconditionally!  More like, God is Love.  So there is nothing to fear, and nothing to worry about. Worry and fear and anger and any all negativity are illusions of the ego/mind.  Remember who and what you really are – remember who your Father/Mother is!  Then all the negativity and illusion vanishes.  And we can return to our Peace in just being, rather than doing.

Be. Be. Be.  This Moment the Omnipresent is Present!  Everywhere Present – Love.

Let go of the attachment to changing things in the world, especially if they spark feelings of anxiety and disturb the Peace.  Stay connected with Peace, centered in the Holiness that is Always Present, and live.  God wants nothing.  So we can all strive to be like God and want nothing, realizing that nothing needs to be changed.  And there is always something to enjoy and Love in the Present Moment 🙂

Attachment to any dogma regarding the world of form only creates pain and suffering.  Let it go.  There is not one right way to do anything in the world of form.  Generally, simplicity is a good rule.  And an even greater rule, which transcends form – Love!  Love, Love, Love.  Give, give, give. 🙂  Forget the self and Know the Self.  The True Self in One and All.

Gloria in Excelsis Deo!

Dear Friends,

This blog post was written by a dear friend and blogger who, thought he was writing a post on his site instead of mine (we were both using a shared computer). However, I am so delighted that it “accidently” ended up here! To read more of his inspiring abundance please visit his blog here.

Walking Towards the Sun

Lands End

Lands End

“What would you do if you had nothing?” an ex-boyfriend once asked me. I was in the middle of preparing report cards, and training for a half-ironman. I didn’t have a whole lot of time for him, and he was frustrated. Nonetheless, his question gave me pause. I loved being busy. It’s who I was, and without it? I didn’t know. I never stopped to think about what “nothing” was.

Coming back to San Francisco this past December, I felt totally lost and lonely. I had entered a huge urban metropolis that I wasn’t used to anymore. And I was confused by that lostness as I had once loved this city so much. I realized over that month that I was holding onto expectations of what this city was for me before, thinking that  I would drop back into the life I had previously and pick up where I left off. Once I started to let go of those expectations I was able to have patience with the ups and downs that come with moving to a new place. But still, I marveled at the busyness of it all. Maybe because I wasn’t part of it. And of course I had just come from living in community where, part of the busy day was consciously stopping to make time for meditation and for conversations at meal time.

So yeah, I was confused…especially because I had been a part of a bigger urban metropolis just 6 months prior. So the fact that it was strange and foreign was strange and foreign. Had I changed that much in just those six months? Was I jealous of all the busyness that I no longer felt that I was a part of? Did I suddenly feel that I had “nothing?”

As it was, my loneliness led me to the Integral Yoga Institute. Having just come from Yogaville, I was rejuvenated with the idea of teaching yoga again and was determined to do so. The Integral Yoga Institute is a center in San Francisco related to the Yogaville Ashram in Virginia. It is situated in an old victorian up on a hill from Dolores Park. At night, when I stand outside on the front steps the sun lights up the sky with different neon colors as it settles over the top of the city.  Since I was there, and desperate for housing in a seemingly very expensive city with a housing crisis I thought I would ask about residency as well. “Yes.” They said.  And so here I am two months later living in a yoga center with housemates and a community that practice meditation and yoga, and embraces peace of mind and transition.

Shortly after I moved in, I came down with a cold. That ate up quite a few expenses as well as had me laying low for almost a month. Almost no work, no going out, and certainly no signing up for the classes that I had hoped. I was, by nature of the cold, forced to stay home, get quiet and meditate. And meditate. And meditate. It was stressful at first. I am active. I am an ironman! And to sit and watch the busy lives of those around me while I had to sit, drained of energy was indeed frustrating. And then, something happened. I relaxed. I stopped worrying. There was no need. There was no use.

I have heard that if you trust in the universe it will provide. I have some tension with this. How is that not lazy? I believe that if I want something to happen then I need to put the energy out there to make it happen. And yet, once that’s done there needs to be a certain amount of trust that the right thing will bounce back.  I think what it comes down to is listening. It doesn’t mean being  lazy.  It means sitting and listening to that voice inside even if it doesn’t make sense. It means, at least in my case, practicing patience.

So in my three weeks in which I couldn’t do much I sat and listened a lot.I did nothing.  I have achieved a certain amount of relaxation that I fear is lethargy, although I am also making sure to keep an eye on that.I am yoga-ing, journaling, involved in a small fun project, discussing,  and my favorite, practicing to be a professional coffee shop dweller, an aspiration of which I had in my early twenties.

Simple Pleasures Cafe

Simple Pleasures Cafe

I was coming back from my favorite coffee shop, Simple Pleasures, late afternoon one day, after a morning in the foggy part of the city. I called my friend to say hi, and left a message. She texted me back and said, “I hope you get this with your phone dying and all, but I love that you ended your message with ‘I’m walking towards the sun.’