Wednesday, March 25, 2015

To Share Is Human

I didn’t mean for it to happen. I only started reading "Fangirl" because I liked “Eleanor and Park” so much, and I had a feeling I couldn’t go wrong with Rainbow. (Yeah, in my head, we are on a first-name basis.) But then I found out that Cath’s, mom left her when she was 8, and that she never really recovered. That all of her relationships were affected, and that she was incapable of telling if a boy liked her, even when she was in college. And as if that wasn’t enough, I also found out that her Dad was bipolar, and that he used running to self-medicate. Oh, and, of course, she writes fan fiction, which I don’t do, but I do write for, which is pretty similar, especially since I use Dave Matthew's lyrics in many of my articles.

It was all just too close. It reminded me of how many things in my life were affected by the fact that my Mom left me. And how I hate that so much. How it shouldn’t be that an action by such a careless person could define any part of me. I’ve spent such a huge part of my life thinking that there was something wrong with me, and later, that there is something wrong with her. Okay, so I still think the latter.

But then, I decided to pull a card, and got the Wisdom/Gratitude card, Number 11, in the Native American “Sacred Path,” deck, and it tells me to be grateful for the knowledge that I have and to give thanks for that knowledge to complete the cycle of receiving it. And at first, I got mad, because I cannot be grateful for the fact that my mother left me, even if it did play a role in making me who I am. But then, I read the larger story associated with the card, and the fact that the author was talking about more of a knowledge of the way that the Universe works, rather than knowledge of a single, small event. Well, small in the cosmic sense. Because when you are 8, and your mother leaves, how much bigger of a thing could there be?

But Jamie Sams was talking about the knowledge that there are all kinds of beings in this Universe, not just humans. And that oneness is where it’s at. Looking at it like that, I can almost see some kind of a greater good aspect of what happened to me. Like, if my mother had never left me, then I would never have done so much deep personal work, which means I could never have been the spiritual teacher, (I say that Very Lightly), that I am today. But then that makes me feel like I’ve been sacrificed for the good of the whole, and I don’t think that’s the point either. Somehow, it must be that this has been good for me too. Right?

It’s just hard to see the good when so much of my life was filled with emotional pain. When, to this day, I struggle with an addiction to sweets and buying jewelry online. When I couldn’t tell my husband that I loved him until waaaayyyy after he told me, and I couldn’t tell him that I believed that we were meant to be a couple, until we’d been together for a decade.

But then, I have to look at the growth and how far I’ve come. Even that dismays me though, because I always wonder how far I would be if I’d had a better starting point. As if life assigned me the inside lane, which is the hardest to run because of the tight curve. But, I know it doesn’t really work like that. Or, at least I hope it doesn’t.

So, for today, I will be grateful for what, and who, I have in my life. I will listen to the cards and be thankful for the understandings that I have, even when, at times, those understandings has been painful. I will trust that everything that has happened in my life was supposed to happen, just as it did. That my experience was not a mistake. And, above all:


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

From Reluctance to Reverence: A Yogini's Journey

Image result for yogaEight years ago, when my husband finally convinced me to try yoga, I approached it with serious skepticism. Yoga, I thought, was for those who could not handle the weight and interval training that I was accustomed to. At that time, my yoga days masqueraded as my “easy” days. I had no idea that yoga would, one day, be the catalyst to a grand change in my internal landscape.

Since I was a teen, I’ve always exercised religiously. At times, I’ve even equated going to the gym as my version of going to temple, minus the yarmulkas, Torahs, and conservatively dressed devotees. While my methods for shaping my body have varied, (swimming, spinning, zumba, personal training, running, hiking, biking, etc) my goal was always the same. To lose weight. Only in the last decade have I dropped my preoccupation with appearance, replacing it with a desire to feel healthy; physically, emotionally, and spiritually. But it wasn’t until after I had my second child, four months ago, that I decided to take a leap, and make yoga my primary practice.

I’ve always known that good yoga is supposed to affect more than just the physical being. That it is designed to move a person into an alternate state of consciousness, where expansion and contraction affect more than just muscles and skin. But recently, the intellectual awareness that I have has started to integrate into my being, sinking lower, further, toward my heart. It’s as if something inside me has clicked, and the emotional and spiritual benefits of yoga have started to present themselves to me. I can’t take credit for discovering any of what I’m about to explain. All I’ve done is practice yoga daily. The rest has settled upon me like dust on a ceramic cat. Or a cat doing yoga.
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Okay, enough cats. For now. 

Some of the realizations that have entered my mind focus on generalization, or, the way in which the qualities that I am seeking through my yoga practice spread to other parts of my daily life. For example, I now understand that finding balance in Half Moon pose will affect the way that I balance activities throughout my day. That seeking stillness in Warrior Three will allow me to quiet my emotions when a triggering situation presents itself. That being upside down in Shoulder Stand will help to expand my perceptions to be able to look at things from a different viewpoint. And that garnering strength in Three Legged Dog will bring forth an ability to set boundaries in relationships, and say no when I need to. I don’t know why all of these insights are so surprising to me. Perhaps, it’s my tendency to compartmentalize and put everything neatly in boxes, each issue in it’s place. But learning that everything is, in fact, connected, in ways that I can barely comprehend, has a calming effect. Maybe I always had this knowing deep down, the way that the Moon knows that the Sun loves her. Why else would he dim himself, each night, to let her shine?

Image result for sun loves the moonImage result for sun loves the moonOther lessons have centered around the idea of letting go, and the paradoxical nature of doing less to experience more. When I relax into a Seated Forward Bend, it’s about letting my muscles release, which unexpectedly assists my body by improving various functions, including circulation, nervous system performance, and illness prevention. In fact, I’ve now come to expect that if I feel as if I did “nothing” in my practice, my body will respond by releasing fluids and expressing toxins. Where “No Pain, No Gain,” used to be my motto, “Let Go and Flow,” is now my mantra.

It’s astonishing, really. The change that this physical practice has had on my mindset. Instead of pushing to get to the next level, or forcing my will over various situations, I have learned, or, I am learning to believe in the old saying that all will be well in the end. And that if all is not well, it is not the end.

Incidentally, I still don’t consider yoga a workout. Instead, I consider it a work-in, one that I practice in a sacred space, complete with all of nature’s elements. I have a miniature rock garden, (Earth), a window, (air), a water fountain, (water), and a candle, (fire), all of which ritualize my experience, helping to bring me to a place of peace, and well-being. In turn, I aspire to recycle those positive feelings, sending them outward into the beyond where they are free, like the wind beneath a butterflies’ wings, to perform Mitzvahs.
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