You are - Whole, Complete and Perfect.
Come open and raw -- ready to surrender to your Self. Come happy and at peace -- ready to surrender to the Self. When I began practicing yoga just over ten years ago I remember thinking - "this time on the mat - this is my hour or hour and a half - to escape from myself and the stressors on my mind". Sounds freeing doesn't it? -- It wasn't. The more I resisted myself and the emotions that came forth, the harder the practice was. I physically stood and moved on the mat, but I was not there with my body. My body and spirit were separate, when they are in fact One. So I came to breathe more while on the mat ... inhaling and exhaling, one breath - one movement. With each breath I became one step closer to being with my Self and in my Self.
I begin practices that I lead with a reminder, an invitation to come into the breath... to come into the experience of the breath as it moves through your body and out into the world around you and again through the body and back out into the world. I used to also invite those on the mat to leave the stressors that they came to the mat with at the door. I no longer do that - Bring them with you, as crazy as it sounds you will be able to work through them and they will be less upon leaving instead of having them, just as many as you came to the mat with, there ready and waiting for you to pick back on up on your way out the door... "oh, hey peaceful Being - you left us to here to stress you out again upon your return to the outside world ;)" ... to this I say, no thank you! Our yoga does not end when we leave the mat. In fact, it is only there that it truly begins. We move through asanas on the mat, we connect with ourselves, yet again, deeply and truly on the mat and then we carry this energy with us, if we commit to its radiance - off the mat and into the world. Leaving stresses at the door is not a bad concept (though), in fact it makes a lot sense, still to me - leave the "stress" of your shopping list, your worry over your outfit, leave the stress of the superficial constructs of society at the door and simply, leave them there - there is, no reason to pick them back up.
But do - come to the mat with your pain, your sorrow, your concerns, your happiness, your love, your peace, your delight, your exhaustion... Come as you are. Breathe into the energy of your Self and breathe it out into the world around you. Breathe in love for your Self, forgiveness for your Self and breathe it out into the world around you.
Let the breath be your meditation.
Let your surrender to Self be your greatest gift.
Many a person has said to me, "well I would love to come to a yoga class Emily, but I am not flexible enough, I am not fit enough" ... I am not... when you all ARE - whole, complete and perfect. Are you breathing? - Then, come to the mat. When you come, all I request of you is that you breathe. You do not even have to do it, as instructed - one breath, one movement, but you do have to breathe. Now, take it a step further - you can do this right now, sitting on the couch, in bed, wherever you are - as you read this... notice your breath, feel its journey as it moves in through your nose, down your body and out into the world again. How does it feel to tune into the breath, as it courses through your Being, how does it feel as it journeys out and around you again!? ... to me, it feels like - life anew. Each breath, a new moment, each breath, permission to love myself stronger. Each breath, a gift.
Come to the mat - laugh, cry, breathe, move, or remain still - Come, as you are.
Peace, Love and Light, always.
Have you ever walked along a shoreline, only to have your footprints washed away? That is what Alzheimer's is like. The waves erase the marks we leave behind, all the sand castles. Some days are better than others - Pat Summit
To experience a loved one drift away, their cognition seeming to leave their bodies, can be painful and confusing. We long for answers and ways to ensure that this does not happen to us. We wish to be able to provide greater comfort to the ones we love when a moment of clarity, clouded with confusion comes around. Physically, the person we know stands before us, but emotionally and mentally, it is may not be the same. Many a moment is shared with a man I love dearly, my Pepe, where I see him sitting or standing there as a physical being, but I no longer feel the centered strength that came from his quiet, loving energy. During visits, as I look into his eyes, I see at times, only a shell of the man I know. When I see him look into the eyes of Mimi, his wife and my strong, loving and sassy grandmother - he is there once more. He sees her and in turn he sees himself once again. It is a beautiful moment to experience. Whether or not he remembers who I am he likes to take my hand and really the hand of any woman, as he walks down the halls of where he lives. Memory in tact or not, he continues to radiate love and wishes to help all those around him.
When moments of clarity (clouded by confusion) come, I so wish to hug him and tell him that all is OK, but who am I to say that and will he understand what I am saying?... I do not know that it matters. For, in those moments, if I am able, I simply take his hand without talking and he holds on tightly. Without words we communicate more often now than with and it is these cherished moments of silence that I hold onto with all my heart.
I recently had a very dear friend of mine reach out as he struggled to understand how something such as Alzheimer's could make any sense. In his sharing of time spent with an individual who has Alzheimer's he wondered - "how are we to learn anything from life when our mind is fading?" - Perhaps, we are not. Perhaps we are here to experience and to learn in the very moment that we have now and with the next moment, well who knows what it will bring.
I struggled for months to come to an understanding of this disease and why it "takes the mind and memories" from someone I love dearly and who has done such wonders in his life. Truth be told I have come up with little understanding when I work to find meaning (in this way). I have surrendered to the energy of love yet again here, as I have found myself believing this ...
We come full circle in this body sometimes (I understand that not all do) - so we begin life dependent and end that way ... where we must surrender this vessel, our body, to the care of others (around us), as our soul prepares for its next journey ... for the next vessel it will inhabit.
I do not expect all to share in my understanding. On a spiritual level, it just makes sense to me, that our Soul may be ready to begin writing another story before our body is ready to put an end to this one. It is not an easy journey (always) for the one moving through the experience or for those who dearly love that individual.
John - is the name of my dad, the man on the left in the above photo, Pepe is to his right. My dad, John is one of a very few people whose name is still always remembered by Pepe. It is heartwarming to see his eyes light up, as he recognizes one he loves by his side. - He, Pepe, is this way with Mimi too and every moment I get to spend together with them both is nothing short of a great gift of love.
May we be Beings of Love. May we surrender to our own love and light from within and that which is around us, always. Wishes of love and peace to all.
We must come to know and embrace our shadow, as well as our light if we wish to live in peace with our Being. It is from the darkness that the light comes forth. As I stood in this pose, I smiled - both inwardly and outwardly - at how easily my balance came in that moment, as I knew it to be a direct outward reflection of how I feel ... centered and centered in a way that I have not felt in many a year. I used to try to hide my shadow from the view of others (yes), but moreso from my sight. Doing so provided space and time for all that my shadow held to build up unresolved within me, until it manifested itself outwardly in ways that did not bring me peace and brought sadness and pain to my understanding of self and me. Coming to know and love my shadow has not been easy, but the most rewarding destinations come with some of the most challenging journeys beforehand. It has been and continues to be a journey of great self discovery, self love, forgiveness of self and others, working through pain, and coming to love not only my light but my shadow and with that - coming to know and cherish the incredible gift that is true: self love, soul love. The journey is not over, our shadow and our light remain with us, in all ways, throughout all the days. This is not to frighten us or make us feel less than another. How can it?... when we (our soul) are reflected in the other (their soul). It is a daily journey of self embrace, incredible love for both the shadow and the light - let it ground you, guide you, and fill you with hope anew. 💞
Unless you learn to face your own shadows,
I attended an extremely moving yoga class led by the radiant Sianna Sherman while at Bhakti Fest West 2017 (at Joshua Tree Retreat Center in California). The class was titled "Alchemy of the Heart" - together we created a living mandala, as we chanted a mantra together - in motion ... beginning shoulder to shoulder in a circle that completed outlined the entirety of the room we were in. Shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand, connected - we began to move in a circle towards the center of the room, creating smaller and smaller circles in motion (of people) within the larger one, the chants continuing created a vortex of loving prayer that filled the space we were in and then were being sent out into the world. As the last members of the outer circle found their way inward, those on the inside moved back out again, until we all returned, as we began - a circle of Beings, shoulder to shoulder - hand in hand - chanting and sharing in the energy of love - (outlining the entirety of the room we were in) . It was one of the most moving ways to begin a yoga practice and to be in space with others that I have ever experienced.
The asana practice closed with some partner poses and inner work with another. I found myself partnered with another I had never seen before this shared time on the mat together. Together we supported each other and experienced each others radiance in the practice. We all sat in our vulnerability together and whether we wanted to or not, we both displayed raw emotion. How did this come to be?... well, it came about through the simple, yet moving practice of complete recognition of the soul of another - we were instructed to look into each other's eye - to not say a word, but to sit across from another, maintaining eye contact for five minutes. Five minutes in the grand scheme of things is no time at all. When you sit in this way with another though, five minutes can feel like one's entire lifetime. This is because we see ourselves reflected in others. We feel that others see our deepest pain expressed through our eyes. It is true -- our eyes speak volumes, they speak even when our mouths do not. How often though do we take time to listen to the stories told through the eyes? ... not very ... so we can pretend the stories are not there, we can work to ignore our shadow and only display our light. When we look deep into the eyes of another - we experience and we see not only our light, but also our shadow and they in turn (experience and see theirs) the same.
On this day, in this sacred space at Joshua Tree - I sat there - vulnerable, my emotions raw, my heart full of love and moving through the tough (but beautiful) work of healing from past trauma and of coming to love my shadow (as well as my light). I sat there, legs crossed - knee to knee across from the beautiful woman I was partnered with. I looked into her eyes and felt even before vulnerable and exposed than I already was feeling. I felt the urge to avert my gaze, but resisted, as I knew this was an experience that I did not want to turn away from. Tears came to my eyes, as I saw incredible unending beauty and love in hers. I saw strength maintained through hardship, I saw discomfort and peace, and love, but most of all in that moment - I saw and was overcome with emotion by the great beauty that I saw reflected back and looking back at me through her eyes. As the tears rose up and moved down my cheeks, I saw that too began to cry and I so longed to hug her, filling the space between us with connection - both energetic and physical. I felt great love in that moment. Five minutes ended. We now could speak to our partner. For a moment, she and I did not speak, we wiped our tears away, smiled at each other, bowed in honor of the other and held each other in a loving embrace. Then she spoke. -- She said, "You saw my pain and how great it is. That is why you were crying and so I could not help but cry. It caused me great sadness in the moment to experience my pain and to know that you saw it, too." - I took her hands in mine, I held them tight. Then I said in return, "that is not why the tears came. I cried because I saw your beauty and I felt overcome with great love. I cried because I saw my own pain reflected back at me and I knew I wanted to continue embracing my shadow (my pain in this moment) even if the journey is not an easy one to be on." To this, she hugged me again, and asked simply, "wait, so you didn't just see all my pain and how deep it runs?" - "No." I said, "I saw love and I felt love." I was struck immediately, in that moment, by how we really do see ourselves reflected in the eyes of another. How our shadows are to embraced, fully, even if we wish that were not the case. It is a healing practice -- to sit in silence with another, making eye contact. It is also healing and essential (I would say) to give yourself permission to know and embrace your shadow. It is easier to embrace the light, but the shadow within provides space for the light to shine brighter, so why ignore it!?
May you always remember, the divine light within me, honors the divine light within you. Peace and Love, always.
If only our eyes saw souls instead of bodies,
I have a shirt that says just that - If only our eyes saw souls instead of bodies, how very different our ideals of beauty would be - (anonymous). -- it is one that I have worn to many a yoga class that I have attended and taught. It is my wish for humanity... I believe it could heal so many, as we would come to know each other from a space of unattached, deep love for the other's radiant soul and in turn, we would come to know and love the radiant light energy that is our soul - the place in us, where the universe resides. So that is my wish and here is one of many a story ...
Over the past few years, but really the past year and a half, I have embarked on the healing, but not always easy or pain free journey of introspection and deep self-reflection. I have come during this time to face past traumas, to forgive others and myself, to let go, to cry, to laugh, to embrace my shadow and my light, and most importantly to know and absolutely love my Soul, my Essence, the cosmos that resides within me. The more I came to love myself, the deeper my love for the world became, as I allowed myself to feel the energy of love that literally moves through the Earth and each and everyone of us. Whether we tune into its beauty or not, the vibrational energy of love moves around us and within us, it is the higher power -- you and I, we are made of this great force - Love.
As I came to embrace this, I found that I could breathe easier, sleep better and stand in my truth, in complete vulnerability, unabashedly - knowing that I am imperfectly perfect. And as I watched the sun rise over the Joshua trees last week- I felt my breath move through me, like light energy filling my body and then I let it out into the world feeling as though, I too, like the sun were rising ... my soul waking anew from a long slumber. As I moved through the sacred space that is the Joshua tree desert, during the Bhakti Festival (West), I met many a person, whose light radiated so brightly, whose heart beat so fiercely with soul love -- that it was absolutely undeniable, Our eyes were seeing each other's souls -- the beauty we were witnessing (and experiencing) came forth from within.
And so the connections made are deep and true because they are that of the soul and the love felt is a true honoring of the soul of another. When I looked into the eyes of those around me, I saw:
ૐbeauty and pain
ૐlove and sorrow
ૐforgiveness and a want to be forgiven
ૐpeace and exhaustion
ૐ respect and understanding
... most of all - I saw:
ૐradiant light- and I saw the love that is my soul energy reflected back at me.
And so I say to you, as we said to each other - Namaste -
- "I bow to the God within you"
- "the light, the Divine, and the beauty in me acknowledges and bows to the light, the Divine and the beauty within you."
ૐ "My soul honors your soul. I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides. I honor the light, love, truth, beauty and peace within you, because it is also within me. In sharing these things we are united, we are the same, we are one."
This word always held deep meaning for me, but now it holds a new level of understanding, as it is no longer a beautiful word with an even more beautiful meaning - now it is (also) a feeling; a sacred offering to another, the honoring of one's soul; and a true understanding of connection that is felt in the energies of the soul as nothing short of radiant love and light. <3 Peace, love and light to all.
-- I included a short slideshow of photos above, as well because in the images I am was fortunate enough to be able to capture I feel that same soul awakening that I wrote of as I watched the sun rise over the Joshua tree. The energy within the photos cannot be adequately described through text, as it is to be felt - by the heart and the soul. What radiant beauty... ૐ
As I watched the plane I was on lower from the sky... tarmac coming into view - I felt a great sense of joy, as I now have the opportunity to share teachings and experiences had with those here in Massachusetts, I also felt a deep sense of longing to be back in the desert. To feel the heat of the sun's radiant light shining down on me, to be surrounded by and in a community of love, friendship, and understanding. I turned my phone from airplane mode to on and found myself pleasantly surprised to see so many messages had come in since I the plane took off in San Francisco. The one that caught my attention most in the moment was an audio message of song from a dear friend I nicknamed: Bhakti Bobby.
As I listened to his voice, as his singing and words touched my soul, the longing I felt for the desert strengthened. Tears welled up in my eyes and I wished so much so for another moment's chance to be able to express to all those there who touched me dearly, just how significant their impact was on my desert journey. I wished that I could share how deeply meaningful it was to be able to experience and witness the divine beauty of their soul, to experience Bhakti Fest in a true state of Being, not of Doing with them. I texted Bobby to express my longing... and he replied simply, " You have nothing to miss, for the desert is within you. " I carry those words with me now, as I move through the world.
As I breathe in the crisp air of a New England autumn. I breathe in peace, knowing that the energy shared is never lost, for our souls know no distance, know no time... they exist in the most pure state of Being and with that power, we are always together and the desert is always with me and I with it. Thank you beautiful souls for touching my life's story, until we meet in person again, Namaste -- The divine light in me, honors the divine light in you and when we are in this place - We are One.
My final night in California (for now...) was spent in the desert, under the stars - in reflection. Sharing in experiences from the week had and in life's journey ... as our soul writes its story during its time in our body now -- this temporary vessel ... what story are you writing?
... here is my stream of conscious thought that came to me once on the plane in Palm Springs, California to travel home to the Massachusetts area until the next festival <3
Yes, it is incomplete, but there is something beautiful in that to me... so incomplete it will remain.
And there I was in the desert ... feet sandy, mind, body and spirit one with the great Mother Earth. I breathe in and breathe out. Each inhale full of love for the Earth, for shared energy of the higher power within each and everyone of us and for the journeys that my soul has traversed prior to it's time in my body - this temporary vessel. The sun rises and I inhale deeply, closing my eyes, tuning into the energy of the breath as it travels down my lungs and into my whole body. Holding the inhale for a moment, I feel the power of love, as it literally fills my whole body, as it is my Being, Our true essence - Love. I let it all go on the exhale, breathing the energy of peace, love and light into the world around me. The sun radiates above the cacti now, above the Joshua trees. The warmth held in its rays assures me that the energy of love, the energy of love and peace will rise, always from the shadows, from the light, as it is always within and around us.
For the past ten months, I have had the absolute privilege to be a part of the lives of two boys, ages 6 and 3. The younger one, I nicknamed Brave King James. I originally did this to remind him of his strength and bravery, at times when he was unsure of his ability to try something new or step outside of his comfort zone. Now, Mr. Brave King James, without even meaning to has become one my greatest teachers (over the course of the past year) - reminding me each day that we get together, that he is "my Brave King James" -- upon hearing these words and seeing his confident smile I am reminded that I too am strong, even when I falter and to breathe easy with this knowledge.
A few short months before I met, Mr. Brave King James, he had been diagnosed with Doose syndrome. He was only two and a half years old when the diagnosis came so to him, a life of medication and occasional trips to the Boston Children's Office (hospital) have become the norm. Does he like being a patient? No, not really, but who would?! He does though, approach the situation with a hesitant smile, knowing that he is surrounded by those that love him dearly. This strong young kiddo has kept me smiling when dynamics in my life felt unsettled or sad. It has been nothing short of a gift to be able to witness him blossom into the dynamic personality and energetic boy that he is. At first, saying "No, Emily, I can't do that!" to "Hey, Emily, watch me do this!!" (sometimes, I wonder if I empowered him too much as he now shimmies up the rope "spider web" ladder structure at the local playground, fearless and proud) - he truly is a very Brave King James. To watch him grow, take chances and gain confidence in himself demonstrates to me the importance of remembering that within each of us lives a Brave King or Brave Queen -- we just have to let go of doubt and trust in our true self.
To stay in one location and not move frequently, to allow my mind to still, to let love in, and to trust that I truly can create beauty in my life takes strength for me -- I really do have to channel my own Brave Queen Emily. And I recently did just this! I made the decision to stay in Massachusetts to live, instead of moving away from many people who I love and who love me deeply in return, from an area I love, from new connections and from dreams that are beginning to turn into realities. Taking more than one deep breath, talking with my father, sitting in meditation and moving through meditative practice on the yoga mat, as well as, listening to Brave King James triumphantly exclaim that he is -- Brave King James! -- helped empower me to listen to my heart, to trust my soul and to let go of fear -- to stay instead of run. As Marianne Williamson once said:
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine as children do. It's not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own lights shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
So, I say thank you to Mr. Brave King James - for trusting me to keep you safe, to guide you in the right way and to care for you in the way of love. Thank you to Brave King James's parents, for trusting me and welcoming me into their home with open arms and for letting me love your children, as if they are my own. Thank you to his brother, one of the coolest dudes I know, for letting me in to your life to share in adventure and wonder with you.
Thank you to my father, who has always been a smooth stone in the water for me, even when it got rough. Conversations with you are grounding, introspective and reassuring, reminding me of the beautiful light that truly does shine within each and everyone of us, including my Brave Queen self (when I forget).
Thank you to my mother, whose unconditional and selfless love provided a strong foundation of trust and security for me, especially as I began to take on the world on my own. Conversations with you are real and true, allowing me space to explore the good moments and hardships of growing up.
Mom and Dad, your love inspires me -- radiating bright, filling even the darkest day with sunshine.
Love, it is what we all seek -- to be accepted for who we are, as we are, flaws and all, imperfectly perfect in our right. To know this love is the greatest gift.
May you all know this love, especially in the way of love for self, love for the Brave King or Brave Queen that you are. The light that shines within is there to shine bright.
When Brave King James, questions his strength or feels frustrated, which of course still happens, I ask him if he is breathing... of course he is, naturally, to be alive. But is he aware of how!? When he is scared, nervous or frustrated, his breath becomes shallow, his body tenses - the same takes place in us, as adults. After asking Brave King James if he is breathing, I ask him if his body is calm and then sometimes, before a response comes - I let him know that we are going to breathe together and then we will both have calm bodies. To this, he smiles, melting my heart instantly. And together, we Breathe. Inhaling slowly and exhaling slowly. His little body relaxing right before my eyes. Sometimes, as we do this, we touch foreheads - Brave King James, once said that it is "to make sure that our third eye breathes too". ... Kiddos really do say the darnedest things. ૐ
We all breathe, we must to survive, but do we always breathe into our strength - I know we do not and that is OK. We can return to the breath, when we falter, when we doubt ourselves, or become fearful - we can breathe into our light shining within.
From the moment I met Brave King James, he stole a piece of my heart and has continued to do so over the past several months. I will forever be thankful that our paths crossed, that he and his family came into my life and I into theirs and am grateful that when one role ends, the connections made do not. To Brave King James and his cool dude older brother, in the words of A.A. Milne, words spoken to Winnie the Pooh by Christopher Robin:
"Promise me you'll always remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."
Children may be our greatest teachers, viewing the world as is, with a deep curiosity - always wanting to experience more and understand why things are as they are. If you want to know love, hold a child in your arms, they have yet to learn to judge another, to feel as though they are less than another, they embrace differences as a new adventure instead of something to fear... they are totally honest and true.
Thank you Brave King James - thank you for stealing a piece of my heart.
No, I am not Muslim and I do not practice Islam, but I do not believe that to matter. I am human, as are you - who finds yourself reading my words in this moment. I maintain the belief that we are spiritual beings experiencing human existence. I hold onto the truth that there is more than brings us together, than divides us. Societies have created labels to define, categorize and separate us. Perhaps, in our human state, we did this originally as a means of survival -- I do not know -- but I do know that definitions placed on one person or another seem to have increased, not only in number of definitions, but also in importance (to me this is silly and not based on love, which is the foundation that I chose for my journey now). So, I fasted in solidarity with my Muslim brothers and sisters. My dad and I both participated in fasting from sunrise to sundown -- this is something that a large majority of Muslims do during the entire month of Ramadan.
Now, I have a confession to make. I did not fast properly, as I drank two glasses of water throughout the day and chewed gum. I did not know that chewing gum was not allowed while fasting, but must confess that I did know that drinking water was something to abstain from. -- I found myself developing quite the headache come mid afternoon and as a nanny at work, I felt it best to drink water. I read an article after fasting, written by a Muslim gentleman titled -- Ramadan 2017: 9 questions about the Muslim holy month you were too embarrassed to ask -- It was in this article that I learned that gum is not to be chewed even or the fast is broken. I also learned from those that lead EnjoinGood Inc. that the act of fasting, which begins at sunrise, begins much earlier than I first thought - it begins at 3:30 a.m. when prayers begin. It is during the time when prayers are said that people fast. I did do this correctly, but not in the same way, as I learned after participating in a solidarity fast, that those who fast for Ramadan do. When fasting for Ramadan, persons begin their day before the sun is up, before the act of fasting is to begin with a large, protein-filled meal. After this, many return to bed for a couple more hours of sleep. My father and I had our last meal before fasting at 6 pm the night prior, so perhaps our pains of hunger were a bit more than others - I do not know - but that is not what it is about.
My favorite meal of the day is breakfast, without it I find myself feeling lethargic and a bit impatient sometimes (if I am to be completely honest!). So, when I awoke on the day that I fasted, I felt a tinge of grumpiness creeping up on me, as I thought about how I could not eat breakfast or indulge in my morning coffee that day. When I became aware of this thought, I realized that I was being a genuine participant in the act of fasting if I was going to be bitter about what I could not have, but wanted. I thought even, well it's just coffee - I can get away with that, but I knew that would break the fast, so I withheld. I found that my energy levels were lower that day and that my thoughts were less hectic. As the day continued, I just felt that my whole Being, my body, mind and spirit fell into a sense of calm. I thought much of those who fast for the entire month of Ramadan and the spirit of community that must come from this shared experience - the article above, speaks to this, in a way that I did not completely expect - as the author wrote that many look forward to the act of fasting during the month of Ramadan.
We live indulgent lives, many of us, whether we feel that way or not -- that is the main reflection that I left that day with. I woke up thinking "I need a cup of coffee". I can attest to the fact that I did not and do not need the morning cup of coffee, sorry Dunks, but I can make it without the stop. We need water, we need sustenance to survive, all of this is true. Much of what I find myself and others defining as a need, is in fact, a want. There is nothing wrong with wants, that is not what I am saying here -- but it is important for us to be able to distinguish between our needs and wants. Humans need connection for developmental, emotional and spiritual growth. Humans need water and sustenance for physical development and well being. Humans need rest so the body may restore from the day's activities... much past this, the things we need are more so wants than anything else.
To go without for a period of time, especially by choice is a humbling experience. It provides space for reflection. Whenever something we are used to having in our routine is cut out for a moment, space for all else that is there is created so that more attention may be given to it. To go without, without a choice in the matter, is what millions do each day. I have not had to do this in my life, so I cannot speak to the experience, but I can only imagine that a greater appreciation for all that is there is created. When I traveled to India in 2010, a country that I miss dearly, I found myself immersed in a village of people who lived off the Earth. Their homes were made from tarps found around in trash piles or donated to the village. Many of the children were bare, except for a colorful piece of string wrapped around their midsection so that they were not completely nude. The majority went without shoes . All ate food sparingly, when it was available. And yet, despite all this, I was immersed in the most giving village of persons that I have met in my entire life! Each day when we arrived to build homes, alongside the villagers, they greeted us with coconuts they cut from the trees and necklaces they made from local flowers. It was humbling, emotional and nothing short of incredibly beautiful. They are who I hope to someday be -- a person who is appreciative for all I have, who wants what I have, who needs no more than what is necessary, who gives without reservation. I will admit, I do not find it easy, always. I worry about finances at times, I wonder how I can give, when I am striving to earn more... and yet, I remember those who had what appeared to be nothing in a material sense and yet had more than I may ever have in regard to their level of appreciation and willingness to give to others. Fasting for Ramadan reminded me of this colorful, love-filled village in Pondicherry, India, it reminded me of just how much I do have, of how much more I have to give etc...
I believe it can do us all a bit of good, to give without from time to time, to let go of the comforts of life to help those less fortunate than ourselves, to sit in reflection, to just Be present more with the journey we are on and less connected to the journey of earning and buying. Peace and Blessings to all and to my Muslim brothers and sisters, thank you - participating in the tradition of fasting opened my eyes and heart.
I typically love to wake up early and never found myself to be someone who hits snooze on the alarm, until I started to make that a habit a couple years ago. Once I hit snooze, my sleep is not as meditative and rejuvenating, my thoughts begin to stir up and I wonder why it is that I feel the need for a few more moments of rest. Then I begin to think about what time it was when I actually turned off the light for the night and began to rest. It almost always is hours later than when I first decided that it was time to rest for the day.
Today, on the sunniest day that we central Massachusetts has seen in what feels like weeks, I hit snooze. I hit the snooze button for a complete hour. My body needed the additional rest, so I was appreciative for my willingness to simply hit snooze again and again, without shame. When I finally decided that I had hit snooze enough and I woke up - I felt the beautiful shine of the morning sun coming in through the window. I heard the spring time songs of the birds and yet again found myself remembering what it is that I love so much about the morning. I love the peaceful way that it unfolds. I love the moments of quiet, quiet from the emails and phone calls and traffic that will come later in the day. For the beginning moments of my day, especially those where I do not hit snooze - the only thoughts on my mind are of the sounds that surround me, the energy of the new day unfolding.
I have felt tired most of the time lately, number of hours asleep aside and have wondered why. What is it that I am missing or getting too much of? For starters, I know that for myself I am overwhelmed by stimuli at times, which quickens my thoughts, making it a bit harder for me to calm down at night and to awake in the morning when the first alarm goes off.
When I step on the mat though and move through the physical practice of yoga, the meditative, inward journey of yoga begins. My thoughts calm, until the only thought on my mind is that of my breath. The inhale and the exhale. The journey of each breath through my body and out into the world. The breath-movement connection as I link one breath with one movement, flowing through the practice with mindfulness. The mind-body connection moves to the forefront of my awareness when I am on the mat and this is a practice that I strive to take off the mat with me too so that I may walk through this work with a deeper connection to myself, my actions, others and the environment around me. Through this deepened connection, questions such as what am I missing or what do I have too much of are easier to answer, even if the answer if one that we may wish was not the case.
So, what is missing? Well, sleep. Falling asleep at an earlier hour if I am to wake up as early as I intend - that is what is missing. Taking the meditative practice of yoga off the mat and into the world with me is sometimes missing too, as I allow my mind to be distracted by the superficialities of life. It is important for us to notice what is "missing" without placing judgement on it or ourselves. While we are spiritual beings on a human journey, our humanness will shine through - each day - and that is more than OK, let it be there, explore it and live to be the best version of yourself that you can be with each new day - that is what I strive to do and I invite you to do the same.
Wherever you are today, I wish you sunshine along the way, the beautiful songs of birds and the stillness of mind that comes when the focus is placed solely on the breath and its incredible journey through your body. Peace, now and always.
I believe in love at first sight, because I have loved my mom since I first opened up my eyes. - author unknown.
This photo was taken about 6 years ago in one of my favorite places in the whole world -- Upper Wilson Pond, Greenville, Maine. My mom to left and I on the right, have changed in many ways in the years that have followed this photo, I have moved in and out and back in to my parent's home throughout the years since when this picture was taken and now. One thing that has not changed though is my unending and unconditional love for my mom. Well, I suppose that has changed a bit too, as it has grown with the years -- my mom really did show me that love at first sight is possible - when I read the above quote I felt moved by its words and it has been on my mind since.
As I led a yoga class yesterday for my mom, dad, sister and dear friend Michele - I found the words of that quote coming to mind throughout my teaching -
I believe in love at first sight, because I have loved my mom since I first opened up my eyes. - author unknown
I listened to the way that those there spoke of their expectations for the class ... they were excited and happy that they had taken the time out of their day to be there, one person wondered if my teaching would differ from a week and a half ago before I was officially 200 hour certified through Yoga Alliance, another questioned their strength and ability to make it through the practice, another still mentioned falling at some point, as they do not practice yoga much... I noted that the words spoken of Self and to one's Self were not always kind, they did not reflect the love at first sight - that our mother, that our father can teach us and did teach me.
While all were in Shavasana, I briefly spoke about this. I shared the words that touched me -- I believe in love at first sight, because I have loved my mom since I opened my eyes -- I thought of how these words also reflected the love that my mom and many other parents I know spoke of immediately feeling for their little one. I had the beautiful opportunity in that moment to look at out at those that practiced with me yesterday morning, such beautiful people from the inside out, and I thought "why is it that we do not afford ourselves that same love at first sight?". I shared my thoughts on that -- at birth we learned about love at first sight, but as we grew up, we did not extend that love at first sight notion to our own Beings -- why not!? -- when we are each radiant. So, I offered a challenge -- Stand in front of the mirror and allow your Self to fall in love at first sight, again and again, with each new day, with the one looking back at you -- your beautiful Self, your radiant Being.
It is a challenge that I accept.
As we work at being forces of Light in this world in desperate need of light, it is important to not forget that we must be that light for ourselves, now and always.
If we do not love ourselves and do not shine light for our own Being, then we cannot truly be a shining force of light for others... it begins within and moves outward.
Love your Self, your Being at first sight with the dawn of each new day -- what a beautiful gift that can be. Peace, everyone.
A spiritual being on a physical journey, striving to make a positive impact on this world through my actions and loving intention. I believe that we are all capable of greatness, it is how we channel this great energy that matters... I choose to express it in the name of -- peace and love.