Tag Archives: mindfulness

Missives from the Mat 9: Trust #yoga #fear #love #ego

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I’m going to try to keep this short.

I have been a yoga student for almost 16 years. I have taught children as a volunteer, I have taught friends as a gift and I’ve recently started giving private lessons.

I just returned from providing a private lesson to a good friend and her husband.

As I’m not yet certified, I feel odd asking for payment or even suggesting a rate despite my experience. But my friends have insisted.

For today’s session, I drove to her. The private time it afforded me back and forth in my car was so nice. I heard no requests for a cookie or a question about a video game. I just listened to my yoga music and stayed in my space.

True yoga is not about pretzel bodies, or heat-induced hyper flexion, or pinky-finger balances. It’s been so contorted (ironically) by the media and the craving of the masses to come up with something new — as if 5,000-year-old yoga and meditation on their own isn’t good enough; people have to go inventing new versions of it: yogalates and hot yoga… soon there will be pogoyoga on pogo sticks and YOLOyoga where you do poses on Jersey walls or during bank heists. “Stick ’em up into Virabradrasana I, I want your arms sky high and hold that for 50 breaths until my yogi and I can clear outta here… then take a five minute svasana. Go somewhere special in your heads, somewhere without demands on your life. Namaste an’ shit… y’all. YOLO.”

There is no mat for the egos. Neither the teacher’s nor the student’s. We all start from where we are at that moment.

Where we are –at that moment– naturally varies from day to day; minute to minute. What felt tight one moment might feel loose the next. What felt fine one moment might indeed ache the next. We must be present, honest and aware, in our minds and in our hearts — both as teachers and as students — to truly grow.

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That my friends have trusted me with their health, bodies and their spirits (of their own or their children) is so humbling. That my friend’s husband smiled even after I pressed him further into a pose and told me where the “money poses” were for him… That he said, “I almost went there…” after we transitioned from svasana warmed my heart. It made my spirit soar.

People who take yoga lessons might think that they’re getting a great release, a wonderful lengthening, a challenge to their core or their legs and a 90-minute break from the hither and dither of life, but they’re not the only ones. For the teachers, the moments and space of trust and peace and company are truly: priceless.

I think that’s also why I am uncomfortable taking a fee for the lessons: what we share, what I give and what I get simply can’t be quantified… but I know its value.

I am forever thank-full.

Thank you.

Missives from the Mat 5 — Start and the Pressure Will Be Off #Yoga #Bhajan #Writing #Numerology

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It has been a long time since I’ve written.

I have actually wondered if I would be able to start up again; on the blog, I mean. I went from writing every day for 31 days about Carl Jung and how I interpreted him to stopping almost completely for almost a month. That’s a hard transition. I went from mindfulness on paper and sharing it to mindfulness in the ether and installing it.

Y’see, the yoga retreat was a profound personal experience. I remember driving away from my home, that Thursday afternoon almost three weeks ago when I began my journey looking in my rearview mirror at the three sons and husband I would be separated from for more than a fortnight. That rearview mirror moment was the last time I was the person I was before I changed.

That sounds weird. Let me rephrase: I am more the person I was meant to be now. I have less pretense, less interest in what other people think. I’ve always been pretty confident seeming, but that was because I wanted everyone to get along. Now, it’s not so much that I’m less interested in people getting along, it’s that I’m less interested in having to make people get along. They will figure out their way. I have my life to figure out and I have three boys to mother and a husband to partner. It’s just clearer now. There’s something to the power of being with complete strangers for 15 overnights (about 350 hours) for a yoga retreat. The moment some people say yoga, others envision pretzels or insane postures.

The yoga we practiced every morning at 6:00 am, one time at 4:30 am, is totally different. We would sit on a massive wraparound deck to watch the sun rise when we managed to peek out from under our shawls during a meditation. That 4:30 am practice is something that created a cosmic shift in my consciousness and it will forever be revered as one of The Most Inspired Moments of My Life. Each morning we were to be in a meditative state 10 minutes before the practice began. That meant for yours truly who loves her blankets and her bed that I had to be awake at least 40 minutes before the start. So on this 4:30 am day, I set the alarm for 3:50 am and I woke with little resistance; even with a sense of childlike glee. I’ll explain in a later post why this timing is so special. But it was as if my spirit knew I was going on a trip. And I did go on a trip even though my body never left the planet.

sun up.

sun up. 6:01am due east.

The sun never rose the same way every day; it never does and it never will. But it was always majestic the way the earth bows to the sun.

still glorious, no?

still glorious, no? this was shot at 5:53am i’m pointing west.

We were treated to some of the most wonderful weather ever for those 16 days. I kept on saying to people who were not from this area of the world that the Heavens must be smiling upon us because it has almost never been 59˚ on any morning in July or August in the Virginia Blue Ridge.

The yoga I talk about now transcends the poses. It goes right to the spirit and it means Guts, Determination, Growth, Strength and Self.

Strength and Self

The poses come later. The work, it’s a pleasure, most of it. There were some kriyas (sets of yoga exercises) that set my shoulders on fire. I miss them. I miss that wonderful, bearded wiseman, Kartar Khalsa, who would state to us, “I can show you how to get there, I can show you, but you have to do the work, you have to get there.” He wasn’t talking about stronger deltoids or trapesius muscles. He was talking about stronger Selves, with a capital S.

Kartar Khalsa Singh. Yogi. Badass. Compassionate.

Kartar Khalsa. Yogi. Badass. Genius.

This Self is part of the genius of kundalini yoga. Rephrase: the pursuit of the Self is the heart of kundalini yoga. One of our yoginis at the retreat, the owner and author of the program, Shakta Khalsa (and Kartar’s wife) has a phrase, “Yoga is the science of the self, and kundalini is the awakening of the self. It is that simple.”

This retreat was more healing than it was learning. Ok, that sounds bad. That’s not what I meant. I did a ton of learning. I can tell you all about how babies have this life stuff all figured out and if we’d just do with our bodies what they do with their bodies from time to time then we’d be totally happy. I can tell you about the eight limbs of yoga (I just can’t find the sheet in my binder) and the 3rd chakra and the lymphatic system and why cold water on the thigh is a bad idea (because it leaches calcium from the femur). I can tell you about acidic foods and the energetic transfers and releases of certain chants and kundalini exercises. I can. And intermingled in all of those discussions and lectures and yoga sessions and kriyas and asanas were life-affirming, life-changing lessons. It’s metaphysically impossible to attend a training retreat of this caliber without changing on the inside. Impossible. The bottom line is that it’s impossible also, for me to explain it all to both of you in one post. So natch, I’m considering a book.

These women, the 13 of us and then 1 extra and 2 of our originals left and then that 1 extra did too and then 4 more came in… (it was a little revolvy-doory there for a bit) are in each others’ DNA. We just are now. I will never forget them and seeing the pictures they are posting as well as the ones I will share in a photoblog post about the retreat (to come soon) bring back all sorts of warm fuzzies.

I wonder about the numerological significance of choosing 16 days for the retreat. Numerologically, the 16 converts into a “7.” A 7 represents the seeker, the thinker, the searcher of Truth (notice the capital “T”). The 7 doesn’t take anything at face value — it is always trying to understand the underlying, hidden truths. The 7 knows that nothing is exactly as it seems and that reality is often hidden behind illusions (I got this from http://www.numerology.com/numerology-numbers/7). I have a seven in my soul position, which is sort of a big deal, and it explains a lot of things which I will go into in a later post on numerology and how learning about it and myself has vexed liberated me in a lot of ways. Go to www.3ho.org to learn about your numbers.

When the 7 is in balance, we are elevated, happy, curious, philosophical, sensitive, a “solitary spiritualist” and we lean a lot (or we should) on our inner voice, our inner knowing. When the 7 is out of balance, we can feel lonely, reclusive, aloof, hypersensitive (I AM NOT!), fear scarcity, confused, find fault and demonstrate a lack of boundaries both emotional and physical. The bottom line is that we need a lot of alone time. This was something I wasn’t sure I was allowed to express as a need for myself because I’m a fairly gregarious and social person, but man, when I saw that I was WAHOOO! All you suckas git lawst! I need some alone time! Holla!!

I’ve just recently taken out my books from training. I went to the beach for five days after I returned from the retreat and so I’m just getting back into “normal” here at the house. Just having this time alone to do some writing has been nice. I really haven’t had much alone time at all, actually.

Yogi Bhajan, who to me looks like a movie star in the photo below had five sutras (statements / aphorisms) for the Aquarian Age. One of them is applying right now: “When the time is on you, start and the pressure will be off.”

Omar Sharif, anyone? Sheesh this dude was intense. Never met him.

Omar Sharif, anyone? Sheesh this dude was intense. Never met him. He “died” in 2004; I say “died” in quotes because in the tantric yoga and metaphysical tradition, there is no death. I dig that.

So here I am, starting and deciding to write.

Ok, ok, here are the other four:

Recognize that the other person is you. (Reminds me of that phrase, “when you point the finger at someone else, you’ve got three other fingers (yours) pointing back at you.”)

There is a way through every block. (Notice he didn’t say around every block… yuk yuk a*hem.)

Understand through compassion or you will misunderstand the times. (I got nothing.)

Vibrate the Cosmos, Cosmos shall clear the path.

Woo-woo?

Heck yeah. Ask me about the Soul Retrieval. No, wait, don’t ask. Just ask me where $100 went in less than five minutes. I’ll tell you, it went on a ride on a train through the desert. (I told you not to ask… I’ll explain in a later post. I promise, Marn.)

So no, I haven’t changed in a cellular way; my yoga retreat sisters would likely agree that none of us has changed cellularly; but we have changed in an energetic way and my manner of thinking and old patterns of reactivity and blame and fear are almost things of the past. Now it seems it’s like logistics are the stepping stones.

But embracing the woo-woo isn’t new to me.

Y’see, I was already On That Bus before I left. I was someone who believed in the things that were unseen more than the things that are seen. I learned on the retreat that it’s likely because I’m left-handed that I’ve already got some of that thinking in the bag. We right-brainers tend to be more creative and as long as we’re not suppressing it, we can easily relate to other people on an energetic level. We can let things slide because we know: it’s not real. Whether it’s an intuitive realization or simply because we are geniuses, we left-handed people have a different sense of the world.

As I said earlier, there were 13 original students on the retreat. I’m not taking away from the four awesome peeps who joined us later because they are cool too, but the 13 of us altered each others’ menstrual cycles (someone foolishly suggested that it takes a month to do that, well we yoginis can get that shit done in two weeks, holla!), we shed tears with and for one another, we held hands, we held hugs for more than six seconds, we chanted, we punched the air, we pounded our fists, we asked a ton of questions, we disagreed, we snarled a little, and we grew a lot. We drank and showered in fart water — that has to count for something, right?! — and we really miss each other. I never belonged to a sorority in college. I commuted to college. So this is my first sorority and I can tell you this without a doubt: I’m glad I waited to join this one.

Some of us are having an easier time than others re-entering the Earth you inhabit. I can tell you that going to the beach for a week with my cousin and kids helped a lot. I miss the mountains though. I’ll post again soon, mostly pictures about the days there. I would go back in a heart beat… but only with those soul sisters. It wouldn’t be the same without them.

Thank you.

Missives from the Mat — 3: Departure #growth #yoga #retreat #mindfulness #family

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I arrived at the airport on time to pick-up the two people who needed a ride to the retreat.

I had initially planned to take a shuttle myself, thus imposing the reality that submission was unavoidable and that I was in for the long haul. They needed someone with a big car. That someone was me.

Instead of seeing this as a way “out” of complete attunement to the program, I decided this was “destiny” telling me that I was committed; these people would need a ride back to the airport after all, and I would be the one to take them.

This retreat house is glorious. Let me back up — any place can be a retreat; even your own bath tub. It’s a simple confluence of the action, the spirit, and intention that make any place a retreat. Ok, it’s a giant log cabin. It has air conditioning, which is nice, given the fact that it’s also in Virginia’s Blue Ridge mountains.

This is my view from where I’m writing:

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Some people are camping. I determined that roughing it for me was going to be 16 days without Cap’n Crunch.

Departure from home was mostly uneventful. The boys all huddled me and hugged me together for a bit. Thing 1 who is 15 was doing a great job of being mature and composed, that made me a little sad… Thing 2 was very emotional, which I had anticipated. He had a hard time keeping it together, which did me no favors and we both started crying a bit on each other. I had to stop myself from saying, “Don’t be sad, I’ll be back…” because I’d be a hypocrite. I was sad too. So I had to allow him his sadness. What I didn’t want though was for it to become a Barbra Streisand movie, like “Prince of Tides.”

When he and I got ourselves together, Thing 3 was standing arms akimbo in the doorway, “I’m not letting you go. You have to stay. I will teach you yoga.” Then I got on my knee and I hugged him and he lost it. So I lost it again. I told him I’d try to “Facetime” them as often as was reasonable and that I suspected the coverage at this retreat was spotty.

All of this happened before my husband got home to see me off. As I was packing up my car and throwing my purse straps over my shoulder, he pulled up. “I thought it was 2:45 when you were leaving.”

“No, I said it took 45 minutes to get to the airport, and that I had to be there by 3:00 and …” I trailed off. We were on the fringe of having one of our classic pre-trip departure fights. We’d actually not had one in years, ever since I figured out that the reason I got mad every time he left for a trip was to basically create distance between us so that my vulnerability was protected (lie) and that I’d have an easier time being alone. So we just looked at each other and my eyes teared up.

The whole time I looked into his beautiful blue eyes, I was growing sadder but more confident; he has this way of conveying to me strength without saying a word. It was like I could say, “I’m going to rock this, but I am sad about it…” I hugged him and said, “I’m going to miss you most of all.”

“You better!” he said.

We have a way of “signing off”; we’ve done it for years, it’s just sort of happened. We were patting each other on the back and we stopped at the same time and we said, “I love you,” and I walked to the car.

Thing 1 was not far behind. Just as I stepped into the car, he came in for one more landing and hugged me a long time and finally said, “I’ll miss you, mom.”

When I turned over the engine and put the car in the right direction, I waved to them all and I shouted, “We will all grow! We will all grow! This is good! I love you all!” I turned me head and didn’t look back. Didn’t check the side view or the rear view mirrors either.

So I rode to the airport by myself. (“Rode”; thats funny, but I’ll keep it. I am a rider and a driver on this journey.)

I was on my way. I WAS ON MY WAY!!

The weather on departure day was truly sublime: sunny, low humidity, high 70s, and a light breeze; like the breeze in a White Snake video. It was the kind of weather that is so atypical around here, the armpit of the eastern seaboard, that it automatically sets you in the frame of mind that surely something awful is about to happen.

Just kidding. But I think you know what I mean.

When I picked up the riders, we talked a lot; shared some parts of ourselves. We were anxious, we all admitted It. We had about a 90-minute ride and I wasn’t going to be silent the whole time. I needed to expel some of my nervous energy.

Our ride was uneventful. We arrived about 4:30 and thus began a journey that I can tell you already, after just 50 hours, is going to change my life.

I wish everyone I know could be here. I wish everyone with an emotional catch, a hitch, a fear, a doubt, a wonder, a moment of vulnerability (so that means all of us) could be here.

The Kundalini yoga is unlike anything, ANYTHING, I’ve ever experienced. It’s not a religion, it’s based totally on movement, breathing, energy and sound and vibration and consciousness and brings it to a cellular level. It’s awesome, heavy-duty brain stuff and it’s blowing my mind already. I’m in love.

I initially named this post “Arrival.” But then I realized it was more about my departure. Not only my departure from my home and family for the duration of this retreat, but God willing, my departure from my patterns of self-limiting thoughts, small-minded thinking, judgement against others, reactivity and fear.

I will write more soon, but I wanted to say hi to both of you and let you know I appreciate your comments on my previous post and that I am thinking of you all and holding nothing but light and love in my heart for you all.

Thank you.

30 Days of Jung — Day 22: #Parents #Angst #Potential #Squander #Fulfillment #Psychology

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I’m not a little vexed by this quote today. First, I’m writing this later than I usually do because I have get to be a mother first then a writer.

Welcome to Day 22 of “30 Days of Jung,” my series, wherein (soon, I will start repeating myself, like now) I take a famous quote of Carl G. Jung‘s and try to make sense or refute or invert or disembowel it or where I turn into a heaping pile of mush because of it in 1,000 words or less.

If you don’t know who Jung is, he formulated the theories of introverted and extroverted personalities, the stages of individuation, the basis of the “Meyers-Briggs” personality (INFJ / ESFJ, etc.) tests. He’s the “father” of modern-day psychoanalysis. In short, he’s a badass. But he’s dead, so he can’t be with us today.

Here is today’s:

“The greatest tragedy of the family is the unlived lives of the parents.”
― C.G. Jung

Insert Bugs Bunny voice: “Aaaaaaaah Shaadddap!”

Really, Jung?

I’m Googling Right Now whether Jung had kids. Hang on…. here’s a bowl of Cap’n Crunch….

Ok. I’m back.

Turns out he had five. Five kids. I stopped at that fact because I wanted to not poison my brain and my naïveté (do you like that fancy umlaut and accent?) with any editorializing. The little I did happen to skim over (all in the link previews from the search) suggested Jung was unhappy in his marriage, he tried unsuccessfully to divorce his wife; he neglected his five children for the sake of his career; and that he lewdly announced to Freud one time that some random woman told Jung that it was her greatest wish to have a child by Jung.

GAG.

ME.

WITH.

AN.

EMPTY (i.e., no Cap’n).

SPOON.

I’m honestly trying to go after these quotes with wide eyes and an unvarnished perspective. I was not a psych major, I’m just majorly psychological. I dig lots of things lots of smart and clever people say, but this quote, I’m sorry. It makes me really mad. As if kids don’t have enough (swear alert) shit of their parents to deal with, this dude has to lump in a parent’s unlived life and imply that it’s the kids’ fault?!

My, how thick your wool grows, Jung. Baaaah.

Project much?

Omaigaaad, he’s SO lucky he’s dead.

How about the projections and the transference and the “I coulda been a has-been” (mine) freakin’ vicarious living and the bullshit that kids have to endure? How about the cowardice of some parents to deal with their own adult-size problems and not heave them onto their children? How about the gall of some parents to maintain and/or increase their addictions or despondency because parenting (insert whiney voice) Is So Hard!? How about innocent children, who certainly didn’t ask to be born, having to deal with deadbeat dads or incompetent parenting? Are you freakin’ KIDDING ME?!

Unlived lives of the parents?

I am doing the best I can to get over my disappointments of my youth and not shove that back onto my parents and also keep it the hell away from my kids. I believe that’s called Living. Jesus… (sorry), I will die a very happy and fulfilled mother if my kids are happy and healthy and don’t become alcoholics (because I could’ve and the last time I checked I’m not dead yet, so there’s always that potential, but it’s unlikely) and find healthy mates, study what they love, live their lives satisfied and eager and believe in themselves and volunteer and help and serve others. It will give me that sense of leaving the planet in better shape than I found it: every parents’ dream.

But I know there are not healthy parents out there. Some are ancient and dying; some are young and messed up; others are middle-aged and depressed and angry. I know this. Are those lives unlived? Likely. But it’s not because those people became PARENTS!

The type-A’r in me suspects that Jung means “unrealized” (as in not a US senator, not an inventor, not a world-class whatever) when he says “unlived” but he said, “unlived” so that to me means “unlived.” There is plenty of unliving going on all the time. To me, that means “dead” and “dead” means asleep. But why whose schema or schedule to we compare any un-unlived results? It’s very subjective and I officially hate it. Another surprising facet is the popularity of this quote. It beat out some real doozies, which suggests to me that there are a lot of zombie parents out there feeling sorry for themselves.

I saw this quote about 23 days ago when I first found this list. When I saw it, I sort of agreed with it, looking back on my own parents and how they lived. My mom was a brilliant artist and she wanted to be on the stage. My dad was a shrewd newspaperman who was an Olympic athlete. She gave all that up and got married. He continued his work. She got to dabble a little with local stuff, but never saw her dreams of being on Broadway; maybe it was never in the cards, who knows? When he got married, he was past his Olympic prime and was ascending to his Next Big Thing. In between all that, they had four kids and three survived and here we are.

When I first got married I was about two years out of college and was beginning what would have been a likely successful career in internal and corporate communications. Then a merger, then a buy-out then I switched jobs, that next job was awful and I left it — that was when I decided to stay home with Thing 1.

So yeah, when I first saw that quote, I could sort of see where he was coming from; lots of parents don’t get to achieve what they feel is their Greatness; but I also know plenty of childless people whose lives are supposedly unlived as well: they are living in their parents’ basements depressed or unable to find work; or they found work but they hate it; or they found work and then they got laid off.

Some women out there want nothing more than to be mothers and to them, that is their life’s greatest honor and privilege. Would Jung be so assholic as to suggest that goal, that ambition is false? Who the what is he?!

There is no unlived life here. There is no unlived life ever. Life is what you make it, squandered or exhausted. This particular quote chaps my hide so much; Jung is clearly feeling sorry for himself here because some chippy wanted to have his baby; his wife wouldn’t let him divorce her and he had five kids he neglected. I also want to think that this quote also has a temporal aspect to it; that back in the 1800s when he might’ve said this that clearly things were way different for women, and the world…

So yes, my reaction to this quote goes back to the Day 2 of my 30 Days of Jung series: “What irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves,” and yeah, that’s true. I posited in that post that it can be a negative reaction (i.e., opposite and equal) between two people. Or it can be that I just think Jung is a jerk in this quote of his. This is the kind of garbage that Nickelback would write about in their music or maybe Taylor Swift when she gets knocked up. (I’m not harshing on Swift, but I am on Nickelback because they suck; nothing gives me a bigger case of agita than someone boo-hooing their choices when they had every opportunity to have NOT made that choice.)

So given my reaction to this quote, what is the understanding of myself I can take away? That life is for the living. That you can have a balanced life, you can encourage your children to do their best, like your parents might’ve done for you, but like all people, children are people and they don’t always do what they’re told.

All this leaves me thinking… how was Jung’s relationship with his parents?

I’m out of gas Cap’n Crunch on this one. All I know is that we only live the lives we’re given when we Live The Lives We’re Given.

What about you? Do you have the chutzpah to blame your kids for your unlived life?

Thank you.