"I'm tired." Do you hear this a lot? I know I say it a lot. Probably more than I should. I throw this phrase around like confetti. Why? If we're not tired in this day and age, then clearly we're not doing enough. Don't get me wrong, sometimes I feel so tired I think I can barely make it through the day and I'm actually tired. At the end of the day, most of the time, I crawl into bed thankful for it because it feels so good to rest my head on a pillow. But, on the days when I'm not as "tired," it often feels like, "oh no," did I do enough?
My teacher says this all the time. We live in the society where being stressed out, depressed and tired is normal. As he points this out, I begin to notice this concept more and more. Why is it so normal to be tired? Why is it so normal to not feel good? Why is it normal to not be happy?
Perhaps it's because we are comfortable with being tired. It actually keeps us from doing enjoyable, nourishing activities. Then, if we find ourselves doing nourishing activity we might feel like we should be working, or doing something else. Sometimes we're tired from having "too much fun." So where is the balance?
The truth is at some point or another we are all tired. The perspective is in how we look at it. When we're tired from work, we can balance it with something like eating nourishing food, playing with the dog, taking a yoga class, going for a run and being grateful for the moments when we work, and grateful for the moments when we're not working and get to unwind. When we have a lot of social activities, travel, people to see, etc., sometimes that in itself can be so exhausting I would rather be working, however I think maybe being grateful for the moments when our hearts are full and we're tired because we feel needed, loved and supported is something to be grateful for. Tired can be the best feeling in the world, or it can be a feeling that plagues us day in and day out.
The thing is we need to save the "I'm tired" for when we're really good and tired. Whether it's after those long runs, a good day with your kids, a productive day at work, being tired when you're really good and tired is a wonderful thing. So when we're tired, we say thank you. When we are constantly tired we need to look at how we live our lives and if it's healthful and helpful. I'm guilty as anyone to throw in the "I'm tired." But maybe we can shift our perspective, into a new way of viewing the feeling of tired.
When you're good and tired: rest.
When you're feeling constantly tired: rest, but give yourself some extra love and care. Take a bath! Eat some nourishing food. Watch a movie and give yourself permission to relax.
When you're feeling restored, energized and replenished: be grateful, put it to good use but don't feel like you have to go make yourself exhausted all over again.
It has been a little while since the last time I wrote here. I hope you all are doing well and your summer has been sweet. I have missed sharing with all of you on this blog! As always, time flies so quickly and it never ceases to remind us of how moments pass by and how fleeting everything really is. Lately, life has been feeling like a bit of what I would like to call a transition. Things shifting, things changing, things spinning, but what actually feels more apparent is that during these times is when it often feels that the biggest truths about our reality are revealed, or at least that is what it feels like right now in my own life. Shifts and changes are merely there to show us what is needed in our lives and what is no longer working. Perhaps transitions are there to remind us that when we are feeling a little unsteady we tend to engage ourselves the most in self care, self love and listening. They also reveal glimpses of our reality. Since times of change are often challenging in many ways, they tend to point out what is actually real versus what only seemed real. For instance, when life is "good," going smoothly and everything flows then we are a nice, wonderful version of ourselves. However, when the boat is rocked and things happen we can get into our egos, try to cling onto something of our "former" life, or become angry and resentful. We often try to hold on while our world is turning, shifting and changing. The move here to Fayetteville was the hardest change/transition I have ever made in my life. It forced me to show up for myself in a way I never had before. I could be invisible in a city, work with my head down and in turn be comfortable with a "too busy" self so I wouldn't actually have to take responsibility for anything. Once I moved out of NYC, and moved again to Houston, and began the practice of yoga, things changed in a way that set me on a path back home to myself and there was no turning back. From the first breath I took on my mat there was a shift and there was no way I could go back to my old way of living and being in the world.
When things are changing we often find a little struggle. There is a push and pull, but what the shifts and changes remind us of is our strength, and it helps us to develop even more strength. Things become very clear when we take time out for ourselves and find calm in the midst of what might look or feel like chaos. Perhaps the quote from Marilyn Monroe which states, "Maybe good things fall apart so better things can come together," just means that our perception of what we thought/felt and saw is simply different. God simply uses change to place a magnifying glass on things to show us what needs our attention. Change is often the magnifying glass revealing to us the very essence of what we need to know to move forward.
We always have a soft place to land within ourselves. I am learning right now that no matter what, I have a soft place to land. I don't have to run, hide, move, become distracted with being too busy to notice things. I have a soft place to land... on my mat, within my heart and core, to simply breathe, watch and pay attention to what is being magnified through the gift of change.
"One who knows crying knows spiritual practice. If you can cry with a pure heart, nothing else compares to such a prayer. Crying includes all of the principles of yoga." ~Kripalvanandji
On my knees, palms together, forehead touching my mat, the tears fell one by one hitting the dark blue surface beneath me. I couldn't stop the tears from flooding out of me. I sat there, with my hips sinking down towards my heels wanting to get up, to move, I wanted to leave the room. Why is this so hard, I thought? "This morning's practice will be in honor of your soul, your light," he said. "It's you, burning bright, a bowing to yourself and the light within."
Here I was folded over on my knees bowing and bawling. With every sweep of my arms with every breath upward, the hot tears streamed down my face. As we exhaled and bowed, we said, "AUM JOYTI ATMAN," which means I bow to the light within my soul... I bow to the sacredness that lives within. As we kept moving, the tears kept falling, snot now running down my nose, my teacher made us laugh and there was even more snot, as a smile came through with laughter, I felt as if I was in some ways being torn open. In that moment, I simply didn't care what other people thought, what I looked like, or even what my teacher thought. There were things that I held in me for far too long, things that separated me from knowing myself that had to come up and out of me. I cried, I grieved, for what was lost, but now I cried even harder for the realization that I could no longer hold myself back. I pressed down through my left foot, lifting my right, my arms stretched out in front of me, "eight breaths," he said. "Hold here for eight breaths." My leg stretched behind me. I felt the shaking subside, and all the sudden I felt as if I could hold the pose forever. I pressed down through my standing leg, belly pulled in, I breathed. I pressed through my lifted leg, flexing my heel. I could feel every part of my body engage. I breathed into my chest, into my belly, then folding over my standing left leg, I bowed to myself. As one more tear rolled down my cheek, I began to get comfortable. "Aum Joyti Atman," I said loudly feeling the vibration pulsate from my throat into my entire body. I felt myself relax. The tears subsided. I did, what I came here to do. I honored myself, I bowed to my light, in all its beauty, in all its glory, in all its splendor, I bowed. I bowed again, over and over, each one with more steadiness and ease. I felt my body surrender in all the places I had held on so tightly, my breath became more and more steady, I held the pose. In that moment, I knew, I was back. I have been back. I am whole, and now it's time to embark on the journey of being who I am. It isn't to suggest that I haven't always been myself, but it is to note that I haven't given myself permission to fully exist-- recognizing the light within my soul, acknowledging it and bowing to it, I finally allowed myself to see it and feel it. It felt for the first few times, like I was in some way betraying a pact I had made with... perhaps myself. That I would keep myself safe from harm if I stayed invisible. However, God, time, yoga, my teachers, my parents, my friends have simply made being invisible to much to bear. Each time I have stepped onto my mat, has been a breaking open and now my heart, my soul feels what it's like to be free. It feels tremendously scary at first but with a little time, I think... I could get used to it. :)
So, my dear friends, even if you never step onto a yoga mat, I still think we owe it to ourselves to bow, honoring the sacredness within. Acknowledging the light and the dark, the pain and the joy, embracing it all while we dance with freedom to be who we are and who we've always been.
This I say, as I bow to my own light, I bow to yours. :namaste:
"True detachment isn't separation from life but the absolute freedom within your mind to explore living." -Rathbun
The more I write, think about writing, talk about writing and write some more, the more I realize how writing, yoga and life are all so tied together. Like yoga, writing is a form of connecting, relating. It is more often than not messy. In yoga, you are falling out of poses, breathing, trying to steady your breath, you fall over, you get mad, you talk to yourself-- maybe you even berate yourself a little bit, but at the end, when it's over, you let go. You don't care if it's imperfect what matters is that you simply showed up. Either you stepped on the yoga mat, or you sit at the computer, and you in some way, create an expression of yourself. Like writing, yoga is real, raw, vulnerable. It takes you places, it shows you things, you cry, you laugh, you smile, you sweat, you surrender. In the process of writing, I have found it to be very much the same. I write. Sometimes it's so shitty I can barely read it, other times, I wonder if I actually wrote it. I have written about this, before, yes? Yes. Why am I writing about this again? Because it is a reminder to allow ourselves to make messes-- to be messy and unclear. To make mistakes, to hate what we're doing at times, and yet knowing that it's the only way to actually find our way... it's the only way to identify what we want, what lights us up-- to be messy is to allow ourselves to live a little more bravely.
Right now, I am reading Bird by Bird written by Anne Lamott. Have you all read it? I am enjoying every word of it. I really can't get enough, which is why I am reading it at a snails pace. At night, when I'm home... I make my hot tea, climb in bed and I read and I laugh because her writing is so poignant. The book itself has the title Bird by Bird, Some Instructions on Writing and Life, because they are one in the same. We can't separate them. Writing is bringing to life a connection of being human. What it means to have your heart broken, what it means to feel like a complete failure. When I speak, I have this fear of saying too much. I have carried it over to the page. The advice that Anne has which has so far has been a blaring horn in my mind is to, "Tell the truth." Perhaps, at some point we all contract this fear of telling the truth. Especially when it comes to the things that are not so pretty in life. Disappointment, the feeling of betrayal, the language of defeat, the feeling that you've messed up, and for me the hardest truth, is to say or admit when I feel hurt. I think for the longest time I pretended like nothing bothered me-- no one could ever hurt me, but that simply isn't true. And I know I have hurt people. That is much easier to admit than the truth about my own heartbreaks and disappointments. However, there comes a point when we have to share what we have held onto, if only for the fact that once we do it no longer has power over us. This is probably what brought me so close to yoga, in a way, I can share without saying anything at all. I step onto my mat, with a sweep of my arms, I can be taken to a place inside myself I didn't know existed. It is both weak and strong, both light and dark and there it is-- the combination of both. Love and fear. This is what yoga has taught me about writing and what life has taught me about each... you can not have one without the other. If you do, you will wind up with a flat story, characters you can't relate to, and a boring sense of plot development. In yoga, the practice, simply would not be real. In yesterdays class, I talked about how the practice of yoga asks us to bring our "whole" self to the mat. Not our happy self, nice self, put together self, perfect self, work self, family self-- no, it asks for the whole self. Which, if we're honest is probably pretty messy and very imperfect. However, the beauty is that... it's real.
So when we come to the mat, come to the page, or just wake up in the morning, it is our greatest bravery to be who we are, to say what we feel and to have compassion for all the parts of ourselves that make us so very human.
What life, writing and yoga all beg us to ask ourselves, is how alive are we willing to be?
How much are we willing to feel? And will we say yes, to it all?
Hi everyone! Back again with two posts in one week.
Lately, I have been asked a lot about yoga teachers... finding a yoga teacher, finding a yoga training, how to find a good one, etc. When I went to Sedona a couple weekends ago, I went with Maria, who is my teacher, and was my first yoga teacher, I did my training with her, and even though I don't live close to her anymore, nor do I see her all the time, she is and always will be my teacher. For a long time, I wasn't aware of this. I would go take her classes every Monday and Wednesday evening. I did this consistently for about a year. Why did I like going there so much? What was it about her classes that seemed different from all the other wonderful teachers I had taken from? I was thinking about this yesterday... Maria never held onto me. Even though I am her student, she never claimed me. She never made me feel like I had to be anything. I would come on my mat every Monday/Wednesday night and I, for the first time in my life felt free. There were no demands on me, no expectations. I didn't have to go. She didn't get upset with me when I went a month without going, she allowed me to move freely and this was something that perhaps I had never experienced before. In a relationship and in my life, I for whatever reason, always felt like I was trapped-- with people, work, every aspect of my life, there were times when I felt like I simply couldn't move. But, every night, I would go to my mat. I would move, I would give her a smile at the end of class, say thank you and leave. She never took praise. You could feel it from her. She wasn't asking us to approve of her in any way. She was there for us, truly, for us. I think other teachers I took from I felt like I needed to give something to them as well, but with Maria, I could just be. Never asking anything from me, she allowed me breathing room. Space to let go, to connect to my own self, my own heart, my own voice... Every class I dug deeper. I could feel the practice working on me, as if it was shedding all the things I had placed on myself over the years. It was like I was handing things back. The wooden floor held me up and my mat became a safe place, with a voice that guided me, not only through a series of poses, but back to myself. As we would go into savasana (the lying down pose at the end), she would remind us that there is nothing left to do. I would close my eyes, feeling my body become heavy, sinking into the floor, I let my thoughts go as my mind became quiet, and in those moments, I touched complete freedom. Rolling over to my side, "starting fresh," she would say, we would then chant OM and have oranges after class. There is nothing like a slice of orange after a hot, sweaty yoga class. With my face red, hair a mess, I would smile, say thank you and leave.
Months would roll by, and I started to linger around the studio. It began to feel like home for me. My apartment certainly didn't feel like home and I was living in Houston where I knew about two people. The studio, without me even knowing it slowly became the place where I spent most of my time. When I applied to Maria's teacher training, I am not sure what came over me. I had never thought about becoming a yoga teacher before, but all of the sudden I didn't wait two seconds after I glanced at the application to start filling it out. We were asked a lot of questions... questions about our life.
The training was more than anything I ever could have hoped for or would have even dreamed it to be. When I came to Maria and began talking to her about moving and starting my own studio, this is a moment I never expected. She didn't talk me out of it. She didn't say I should wait, that I needed more experience as a teacher. She simply held space for me to feel my way through it. She was with me through the entire process. When I left, she wrote to me, she told me this is not the end, but only the beginning. Holding me with open hands, I felt endlessly supported by her and still do. She didn't try to take anything away from me, instead she gave me the greatest gift. The ability to believe in myself, to dig deep and know that I have everything I need, she gave me permission to go. She didn't slap my hand or become angry at me for leaving. She let me go, and she let me stay, all at the same time. I was free. I am free.
So when asked about finding a yoga teacher, a teacher training, even being in a relationship... I will say this... find the one that sets you free.
Forgiveness liberates the soul. It removes fear. That is why it is such a powerful weapon. - Nelson Mandela
Hi all! It feels like forever since I have written here. I have missed it and although I think about writing all the time, it just hasn't been happening very much. I hope all of of you are doing well. Life has been good. :) Since the last time we spoke I turned another year older, I caught up with my college friends in the mountains, I went on a retreat in Sedona, (which was beautiful), and I spent Easter with my family. Everything is blooming here in Arkansas and it is gorgeous! The dogwoods are out, and the flowers are planted. Every day, I have been so thankful for the arrival of spring.
This morning I went on a little walk/run and was thinking about a lot of different things. Lately I have been having very vivid dreams. All of them seem to have a running theme when looking closely. Thinking about it, the dreams seem to signify that I have a fear of losing the things I love. I'm pretty sure this fear started when I was young. I lost one of my best friends around the age of 12 or 13. When it happened I was very confused. There was something I didn't understand. Why did I have to lose her? I have no idea. Really to this day, I suppose there are things I will never know. I think there's a part of me that has always blamed myself for this loss. I blamed myself not knowing why or how this could happen. Only looking back do I realize how sad I felt. To lose a best friend, it's a grief and grieving over the first time you recognize yourself in someone else other than your family. She was my first friend. We wore matching t-shirts. We would spend the night with each other the night before Christmas Eve. We would read to each other and talk about God. We played outside. We built forts. We rode horses together and as we grew up, perhaps we slowly grew apart.
The reason why I am sharing this is because at some point in our lives we all experience loss. It can occur in so many different ways and appear in so many different forms. We can often blame ourselves for the loss and try to think of all the things we could have done to prevent it. There are so many things I wish I would have known, but looking back, I know I was too young to see it. That's the thing about forgiveness, it is permission to recognize that we/he/she/it/whatever it is... did their best. We're all doing our best.
We will all experience in our lives something that we have to forgive within ourselves and within someone else. It is then we recognize our humanness within each other, then we have compassion, then we recognize that we are all "just walking each other home." The more we can forgive ourselves and each other, the more freedom we have to live our lives, to not let it keep us from experiencing all the beautiful things that will be. So, forgive yourself. Forgive others. Love and let go.