A huge storm was headed our way. The news declared it so a full 24 hours in advance. They said damaging winds, hail, flash flooding and tornadoes are expected. Since I have a dog who senses rain an hour in advance and then paces and whines until it is over, I feared the worst. I had to search to find the new prescription the vet had given me to try out during a bad storm and this storm could only sound worse if the weathermen added hurricane, tsunami (though I live in IL!) and alien attack!
I got home from teaching a yoga class about an hour before doomsday and quickly took the dogs for a walk to, hopefully, tire them out a little. As the skies darkened, neighbors yelled out things like "stay safe" and "they say there will be damage". Upon returning home, I doled out half of the new pill and took the dogs down in the basement. My son turned on the news to drown out thunder and we settled in to watch the minute-by-minute radar that the weatherman was explaining with concern.
On the TV, the storm was depicted by yellow and, at tornado spots, red. There was a lot of yellow and red. I typically like storms but was worried about this one. My daughter was still at work, my husband as well. And I wasn't certain how the dog would react to a huge storm or the new medicine, for that matter.
As my son and I watched the weatherman's green screen for about 45 minutes, it became evident the huge storm was splitting; some went north of us and some went south. We were right in the middle where there was a clearing, a space. While many towns did get some of everything that had been predicted, all we encountered was a minor thunder storm. I felt a little bad I had drugged out the dog for that! I had succumbed to the hype. I definitely wouldn't use that word if I lived in the towns that did lose power and see tornados and I did have a legitimate concern for my family's safety.
We went back upstairs to calm and I wondered where else in our lives do we fall victim to other people's hype? (Not blaming the weathermen, here,either!) The word hype means to excite or agitate. Who do you know that seems to purposely get you going? And, why do you let them? Do you have the tools to keep your energy calm and balanced even though someone or something is trying to pull your fire alarm? What memories or stories do you retell yourself that only serve to agitate you? Why do you reread those chapters?
Woodrow T. Wilson stated, "One cool judgment is worth a thousand hasty counsels. The thing to do is to supply light and not heat."
Imagine you are trying to live your life under the hype you are not worthy. Whether you or someone else characterized you as such in your story, it is negatively impactful to all you are and do. Constantly reminding yourself of your unworthiness is the heat Wilson refers to; it's fueling negative energy. The thousand hasty counsels are, not only the people around you who add to this hype, but it is the chatter in your head that adds to and even allows this conversation. You need to go higher up. You need to consult with your Higher Self, your voice within, that says STOP. The voice that calmly says how many more times are you willing to be pulled down? And isn't it time you honored yourself enough to intuitively know and feel your amazing worth?
It's very interesting to search for a quote about hype. Many celebrity quotes come up but they are mostly about not believing the hype they hear as to how great they are. Ironic? I will leave it at that.
Whatever hype you fall victim to, whether it is worth, failure or a hoard of other options, consider that reading this right now is your sign to release the hype that swirls about you. Invite in a calm energy and grant it the space to stay. Om namah shivaya. And bow to the light within yourself.
The following are the two poems I read in class to help us remember to be who we are on our yoga mats.
Just Be What You Are by Swamiji
Drop all impatience
Drop all frustrations;
Just be what you are
Just be what you are.
There is no need for projection
There is no need to create impression;
Just be what you are
Just be what you are.
Stop this fighting with yourself
Stop this struggle with yourself;
Stop being sad with yourself
Stop further hurting yourself;
Just be what you are
Just be what you are.
You do not have to become something
You do not have to achieve something;
Just be what you are
Just be what you are.
Accept yourself as you are
Love yourself as you are;
Just be what you are
Just be what you are.
IF YOU FORGOT IT ALL- Dave Ursillo
What if, today, you forgot it all?
What freedom would you feel?
What newness? What depths of experience might you discover?
The air, smell it!
A sky so blue, throw your hands into it.
A face, that stranger, is it your One True Love?
Don’t just fall in, leap!, hurl yourself into that love!
Imagine if, today, you forgot it all.
Would old habits become bold adventures?
Might boring be a guise of mystery?
The mundane, an invitation to wonder?
What if, today, you renounced all that you knew?
The rain hadn't even come yet. I didn't even know it was coming. But Anna did. I could feel her body shaking underneath my hand as she pitifully whined and panted. I know dogs can sense weather changes, but it seems so crazy to me that she seems to know in advance. I reached for my phone to look at a weather radar online and it confirmed storms were possible. Ten minutes later, I heard thunder.
I normally love storms at night. Pulling my fleece blankets up around me and snuggling deeper into my pillow. I loved thunderstorms all the way up until we got Anna. Now I dread them at night because it means no sleep for me. It means trying to talk sense into a pacing mass of nerves that doesn't understand any of my words beyond her fear. At 2am I just wanted, and badly needed, to melt into sleep. And when she jumped up onto my brand new couch where I had resolved to sleep near her, I picked up her 70 pounds and set them back on the floor.
I looked her in the eye and told her (yes, out loud) everything you are feeling and quivering about is inside of you. You are mistakenly equating your fear with the elements outside of you. Do you know what happened next? Of course you do...she whined even louder. I could have been speaking an alien language, which of course, I was to her. It is not lost on me that my words may seem alien to many people; that the emotions you are feeling on the inside are also created and dealt with on your inside. And how they are dealt with comes down to you.
"Fear can keep us up all night long, but faith makes one fine pillow." Philip Gulley
I tried to use this quote on Anna, but it fell on deaf ears until the storm silenced around 4am. If she were capable of having faith that the storm would eventually dissipate, she would not have to expend so much energy on fear.
Usman Asif wrote, "Fear is a darkroom where negatives develop."
The darkroom is only dark until one turns on a light. The word Guru means someone who leads you from darkness into light. You have that Guru inside of you. You have all of your answers and anecdotes to your fears.
And then there is this important quote, "Never let your emotions rule, but always let them testify." Robert Brault,
You have to acknowledge them but you don't have to live by them. I use this same principle in teaching meditation. When random thoughts enter the mind, acknowledge them but do not dwell on them. Let them testify with their appearance but then you take over.
Try this analogy...I am not a huge fan of balloons. I like how they look but am always fearing that, close-up, they are going to pop suddenly and scare the, well, crap out of me. Remember filling up water balloons? One at a time until your bucket was filled with these exciting but daunting missiles? Imagine those water balloons represented fear. Each fear securely knotted and tied off resting comfortably inside of its bucket, inside of you. It's happy there- it has no reason to leave. One fear after another, multiplying in number and, when you pick up the bucket you will notice it has multiplied in weight. If Anna were human, the weight she would carry is always being apprehensive about when the next storm will arrive. What weight are you carrying?
Some genius was on SharkTank and he created this water balloon device that fills and ties off about 100 balloons in a minute! What parent wouldn't want that?? But our symbolic fear is multiplying even faster. We can run over and try to pop the balloons one by one in an effort to confront and squelch our fears but...wouldn't it be simpler to turn off the water?
I get Anna the dog may not really have a choice to let go of her fears. She is not able to choose the emotional aspect of her day, but you can.
“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” ― John Lennon
If you love to laugh, you should check out the Netflix show Grace and Frankie, though do start from season one if you are just hopping into the series!
The show has a multitude of themes, but the one I want to focus on is that of friendship. Season one finds Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda not exactly liking each other. But through circumstance and the necessity for human support, the two become close.
Tomlin and Fonda were interviewed for TedTalks about lifelong feminine friendships. (Men, keep bearing in mind the focus of the Talk was about women's friendships so you don't feel left out.)
Interviewer Pat Mitchell quoted Sister Joan Chittister saying, "women friends are not just a social act, they're a spiritual act."
Jane Fonda follows with, "... They feel spiritual because it's a heart opening, right?... I find that I shed tears a lot with my intimate friends. Not because I'm sad but because I'm so touched and inspired by them. "
Lily Tomlin jokes, "And you know one of you is going to go soon."
For the past seven years, I have been completely inspired by everyone's practice on their mats. It is an awesome journey to watch a student hesitantly enter their first yoga class and evolve to "oh my gosh, I totally get this yoga thing!" This yoga thing having nothing to do with poses or class levels or competition.
With the recent news of our studio losing its lease, I think the hardest aspect will be in not seeing our spiritual supportive friends at each and every class we are used to attending. Do not forget Hindu deity Ganesha understands the lack of space appears as an obstacle to our yoga practices, our spiritual well- being and seeing our yoga mat friends. But your yoga practice is inside of you. As a teacher, I have striven to present concepts and thoughts to provoke you into creating your own physical, mental and spiritual practice. Your spiritual well-being is formed by your application of positive thoughts and creating your own mantras that lead to positive habits. And, trust me... your yoga friends...they exist outside of the studio, too. They really do! I have run into some of them at Jewel almost undisguisable in non-yoga attire!!
It's normal to feel sad and angry. But if you decide to stay there, your energy becomes glued to the spot. You remain stagnant when all the Universe wants to do is offer you a new way to look at your practice.
When I took my teacher training I was advised to not become friends with my students. And though I love my teacher immensely, I chose to disregard this suggestion. I am glad I did. I understand the tightness of friendships here at this studio. But they will not dissipate. We can all friend each other on social media to share insights into our new practices and where we might re-convene in the near future.
Lily Tomlin is asked what she looks for in a friend. She answers, "I look for someone who has a sense of fun, who's audacious, who's forthcoming, who has politics, who has even a small scrap of passion for the planet, someone who's decent, has a sense of justice and who thinks I'm worthwhile." What a great answer. I could lose the political part but listen to that last part again...someone who thinks I am worthwhile. That's why our connections are so strong. I know everyone inside of my classes is worthwhile and I can feel that reciprocated in the studio amongst all the yogi's. Where else can you go sit for 75 minutes knowing that everyone surrounding you sends you love and light and thinks you are worthwhile??
Fonda adds, "Women's friendships are like a renewable source of power." We have been each others renewable source of power and we will continue to be. It is as simple as that. It just is.
Most of you who take my classes at Living Yoga are probably aware by now that Living Yoga, quite suddenly and unexpectedly, has not been renewed its lease. We have all considered Living Yoga to be a home base, of sorts, where we could practice without judgment surrounded by a community of yogi's unlike any other. After a successful 8 years in the same location, none of us expected deeper pockets to "take" our space from us, but the yogic point I want to make is that they cannot.
Your yoga practice exists within you; not within the confines of where we taught and took classes. This is a yoga theme for sure and how you choose to react is just that...a choice. Having taught in Claudine's studio for 7 years, you and I have covered a lot of yoga topics. You are well prepared to embrace aparigraha, non-attachment, towards the physical studio space. We have talked about flowing through life like water, mobile and adapting. The old phrase, "When one door closes another opens" comes to mind. Your yoga practice is not gone; it is simply undergoing a change. Patanjali tells us in the Yoga Sutras everything changes because everything is temporary. If your immediate reaction is anger or sadness, know this too is passing and will be replaced by something else. I thank you immensely for coming to your mat every week and allowing me to ramble on about the Law of Attraction, mantras, the Bhagavad Gita, my ridiculous dogs (!) and how our practice equates to Life.
Open your heart and mind to what the Universe intends to fill your time and energy with...or where it intends to take you. I will be teaching at Living Yoga up until the very last day, which is Sunday August 29. After that, I cannot say right now. I, too, am awaiting what the Universe has in store for me next! But, if it is teaching at another location or, perhaps, in a different capacity, you will be the first to know right here. Friend me on Facebook and follow my Inspired by Earth Yoga and Reiki FB page, as well, so I can keep you updated.
Do not forget the old Zen story about the old man who falls in a fast-paced river. Onlookers gaze in horror as he is swept towards an amazingly huge waterfall. They run past the falls and peer down, surprised to see the man emerge unharmed. When they asked him how he managed to survive such a fall, he simply said, "I accommodated myself to the water, not the water to me."
The bumper to bumper traffic seemed non-ending; much like the yellow snake of some fifty school buses that pour forth from my son's high school trying to get everyone home. With cars everywhere, brake lights were like Christmas tree lights constantly blinking on and off and the stop/start motion of the car soon led to three out of four of us feeling carsick. I lay down in the backseat, my son's leg my pillow, and focused on my breath. Ujjayi breath in, hold my breath, ujjayi breath out, hold my breath. I thought it was working until the next quick brake of the car and my stomach reminded me it was still very present. I tried just witnessing the breath's travels in and out through my nose but that, too, proved to be no contest for my increasing discomfort. My thoughts turned to jello...
I had actually had two recent conversations about what people put on jello. Side story...I never knew this was weird until my twenties, but my mom always served jello with miracle whip to put on top; I think most people serve it with whipped cream?? Not sure about that. Anyway...
Maybe if I relaxed completely and let my body move with the car like a bowl of jello I would feel better. It seemed to work. Jello wiggles and moves with its environment. Sitting on a plate on the counter, it sits still. When the plate is lifted and carried to the table, the jello moves as the plate does. It "goes with the flow". Isn't that what we should really try to apply in life? Without resistance, we take our energy back.
Grateful to a fellow yogi for a gift of oracle-type cards, I drew one this morning to base my class theme around. The card I drew was titled "Fugacious Flower Impermanance". Admittedly, I first had to look up the word "fugacious"! Once I did, it seemed redundant with the use of the word impermanence, but I digress...it means fleeting. It's a card about flow; about moving eloquently with change rather than not. It reads:
"Your awareness of impermanence is blooming. Notice the beauty of a flower in every stage. The only certainty in life is the nature of change. Be at one with, and ride, the wave of change, without egotistical force. Follow the wisdom of your heart and move forward while honoring valuable lessons of the past."
This card, for me, is very apropos considering I was at a funeral on Friday, but what does it mean to you? I drew it with the intention the card was for the class so figure out how this idea of being okay with the non-permanent nature of life relates to you.
Impermanence is one of the three aspects of existence in Buddhism. The other two are suffering and the idea of non-self or non-soul.
From the Bhagavad Gita:
"Whatever happened was good
Whatever is happening is good
Whatever will happen will also be good
What of yours has gone to make you cry ?
What did you bring with you that you have lost ?
What did you create which is now destroyed ?
What you have taken you have taken only from here.
What was given was given only from here.
What is yours today, was someone else's yesterday, will be someone else's tomorrow.
Change is the law of the Universe"
Buddhism and Hinduism debate the third point regarding the soul. I believe we do have an ever changing soul that grows and learns with each lifetime it explores. Regardless, we are simply talking about change. Being okay with the idea that everything does and will always change is where the jello-like refuge becomes your saving grace.
Byron Katie wrote, "Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon or too late. You don't have to like it...it's just easier if you do."
You may have seen me post this on facebook last week after my mother-in-law died. I think it is a fabulous reminder that change is okay and perspective is paramount.
What is Dying? by Bishop Brent
"I am standing upon that foreshore, a ship at my side spreads her white sails to the morning breeze and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength and I stand and watch her until at length she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea and sky come down to mingle with each other. Then someone at my side says, “there! she’s gone!”
“Gone where?” “Gone from my sight, that’s all”, she is just as large in mast and spar and hull as ever she was when she left my side; just as able to bear her load of living freight to the place of her destination.
Her diminished size is in me, not in her.
And just at that moment when someone at my side says, “there! she’s gone!” there are other eyes watching her coming and other voices ready to take up the glad shout, “here she comes!”
And that is dying."