A few weeks ago, on August 20, I read the news that BKS Iyengar, the renowned Indian yoga teacher and founder of the Iyengar Yoga tradition, had died at age 95. Immediately I was brought back to the many memories I have as a result of his teachings. My first California yoga teachers were trained in the Iyengar tradition. In their classes I was exposed for the first time to silent meditation and chanting. I remember as a student just managing to tolerate these first few minutes of ritual as I waited for “the real yoga class” to begin. What could these Sanskrit sounds possibly have to do with my physical strength, flexibility, and fitness, which is why I did yoga (or so I thought)? Continue reading
The beauty of the present moment is that there is fast forward, no rewind, no pause, no stop. Only continuous play. The continuous supply of fresh moments, unlike any other that has occurred in the past, or any that will ever occur in the future.
Even when we repeat something we think we have done in the past, we are no longer the same in that new moment. We may want to relive an old memory again and again, try to freeze it, or reproduce it by carefully recreating the conditions surrounding it in our mind’s image. But a copy is a copy, having an original life of its own in the present moment when it is experienced.
We may want to fast forward through something unpleasant, uncomfortable, or confusing, wishing that it would pass through more quickly, so that we don’t have to experience what we fear or avoid habitually. We may wish to dictate the speed of life, the pace which is appropriate for experiences to happen.
But what if we were to rest in a state of “No Hurry, No Pause” – neither dwelling on pleasantness nor fleeing from unpleasantness? What if we maintained this tempo of “No Hurry, No Pause”, as we experienced each present moment in our lives? How might we experience it differently?
How might we change our attitude toward circumstances, if we practiced “No Hurry, No Pause”, becoming a little more resilient with ourselves when it comes to what we avoid, and a little less attached to what we consider pleasurable or ideal? What might we discover at the intersection of “No Hurry” and “No Pause”?
I get to experience myself at this intersection each time I do bodywork, whether it is Breema or traditional Thai massage. In that space of “No Hurry, No Pause”, I find my natural rhythm, the rhythm of my body in relationship to the other body, the rhythm of being in harmony with all that is. I connect with my own body’s breath, I feel the other body’s breath, and somehow the breath of the universe begins to breathe us. I notice my mind sometimes wanting to hurry things along, other times checking my progress by wondering how much time is left, and even sometimes wondering if I should even try to do the next sequence. When I remember “No Hurry, No Pause” at these moments, all thoughts dissolve and my entire being becomes one with the natural rhythm that is always present….the rhythm of the music within us. The music that is always playing. No rewind, no fast forward, no pause, no stop.
Photo credit: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/playback-lamps-your-missing-re-60728
I’ve been hosting SoulBodyMind Salons in my home, and the most recent session was centered on the theme of “Soul-Care”.
I always start each of the sessions with a story or image that grounds the group in the journey we are about to take that evening. I had easily come up with stories and images for the body and the mind – ones that I had heard from my own teachers as I gathered knowledge in these areas.
But the soul – no one had ever talked to me directly about the soul before. This was the first time I would be attempting to ask the question, “What is the soul?” in front of a group.
I am simply fascinated by the phenomenon of soul, because everyone can relate to the word, although in a totally unique way. It’s a bit like the word “music“. Ask anyone from any culture and any time period, “What is music?”, and they know what it is. However, listen to the music from any culture and any time period and you will get wildly different experiences and sounds.
I was walking around my house, dusting the wood floor, pushing chairs in different directions, thinking about this question of “What is the soul?” and how I would explain this in a brief introduction, without either getting lost in philosophy or oversimplifying.
Naturally, I picked up the nearest object and began thinking of ways to incorporate it as a visual aid.
That object was a can of tomatoes. Continue reading
“How you see determines what you see, and what you feel.” – Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche
I’ve had a love-hate relationship with vision boards since the very beginning. My very first one was an assignment for the very first personal development workshop I attended. End of Day One, before we were to break for dinner, we had a few hours to make a board of what makes our heart come alive.
The second one I made was later that year with an ex-boyfriend on a retreat in Santa Cruz. It was my first beach weekend retreat since moving to California five years before. What had taken me so long?
Then I made another one that made me feel like crap, but I didn’t quite know why.
I kept up with vision boards for some reason. Maybe it was my determination to see if they would really work for me in my life. I was a total skeptic in the beginning, going through the motions like a good student, but not truly expecting anything to happen.
I haven’t yet written about the latest example of how a vision board changed my life, and since I’m leading a vision board workshop next week, this seems like a good time to really tell the story in completeness. Continue reading
What have you been doing for too long? Being in nature reminded me of the answers to this question…
As 2010 came to a close, I realized that over the past year, I have had the opportunity to become part of three brand new communities (without even changing my physical address). As I embarked on life coach training, certification in music and sound healing, and improvisation as a violinist in the local “open mic” scene, I was welcomed into three totally new worlds for me.
As I crisscrossed the Bay Area and the internet interacting with these distinct groups, it occurred to me that no single place brought together people with such wide-ranging interests. What fun it would be if someone could create a space and purpose for gathering that would allow the expression and sharing of all these creative souls! I realized that I could be that person!
I was inspired to create the Essential Self Extravaganza. The name refers to a central concept of Martha Beck’s life coaching approach, which guides us to find and follow the voice of our essential self, versus the social self we so readily construct as an identity to show the world and “fit in” with the rules of our families, religions, cultures, professional group, or demographic.
I had had enough of the typical “holiday party”, where the focus is on the display of our social selves. The typical conversations starting with the question, “So, what do you do?” or “Where are you from?” were familiar to me, yet no longer of interest. Instead of complaining or lamenting about these kinds of parties, I decided (in the empowerment I am growing into) to host my own gathering – the kind of party I would want to attend myself. Continue reading
I had an Energy Release Ritual this morning. Spur of the moment, totally unplanned, but absolutely inspired.
I’ve been reading a few mind-body healing books ever since attending Dr. Mitchell Gaynor‘s workshop at CIIS this weekend. Dr. Gaynor is an integrative oncologist based at Cornell Medical Center in New York City and is the embodiment of physician-healer, embracing all of his life experiences and learning from diverse traditions in order to create healing partnerships with his patients.
I don’t see myself working with disease, but still find myself fascinated by healing stories. Disease is merely one form of communication, through the vehicle of our bodies, to help us become more aware of ourselves. Some people experience healing through a financial crisis, or a job loss, or the death of a loved one. Any time our expectations about life are challenged or even shattered, we are being handed the gift of an opportunity to heal and grow.
Somehow this morning I was inspired to let go of some of the energies that I am still carrying and am no longer in need of. I knew that I wanted to have a total body experience of this letting go – not just writing it, or saying it, but experiencing it with all of my senses.
I created an altar, which incorporated items representing the five elements – earth, fire, air, water, and ether.
I also included a symbol of inner peace, which to me is beautifully exemplified in the image of the Buddha. Continue reading
I’ve never really been good at celebrating my birthday.
There are a few birthdays in my life that I remember – one was my 6th birthday when I had a party at my house with my favorite girls from second grade, complete with musical chairs, Bozo buckets, a violin serenade by my brother, and hand-selected party favors for each guest. Another was my sophomore year in college, when my roommate totally surprised me by inviting over half a dozen or so of my best friends, who arrived with cake, balloons, and songs to sing. Yet another was in my twenties, when my brother procured tickets to see Itzhak Perlman and the Minnesota Orchestra, and my parents came into town to join us.
But when it has come to my really knowing how to celebrate myself, and knowing what I really have wanted to do on my birthday, I’ve mostly come up blank.
Now I know that it’s because I have been more focused on what it LOOKS like to celebrate than how it FEELS to celebrate.
What Celebrating Looks Like
In our image-obsessed culture, we can easily be led to believe that what we SHOW about our lives – how we make things appear – is actually more important than how we FEEL about our selves as we live our lives.
Even the lyrics to popular songs teach young girls what it means to “party in the USA” – “Welcome to the land of fame, excess, whoa am I gonna fit in?”.
Because feelings are often difficult to express in words, or not accurately captured by images, or perhaps don’t match up with the social pressure to perform and please, I have (perhaps like you) defaulted to suppressing the feelings, not bothering to connect with them, and making choices based on what will make me LOOK like I’m doing fine.
I did this without being conscious of it. It happened slowly, in small steps, over time, like any changes do. Continue reading
It seems to me that there’s this game we play around the holidays. We somehow feel obligated to replay the old tapes of the past, gathering together in the same ways, repeating the same “traditions”, whether or not they still work for us.
The result? A clenching of the jaw, a tensing of our shoulders, a knotted up feeling in our stomach, as we enter this “joyous” holiday season. Some of us might even roll our eyes without knowing it when we say the word “family”.
Since all the messages around us are shouting, “Peace! Joy! Love! Thankfulness! Giving!” we feel downright guilty about our deepest truth: we just don’t want to do the holidays the same way anymore.
That guilt gnaws at our energy for a good two months. We conduct our surface actions under the weight of the thought, “This is what I have to do.” So we suck it up. We buy our plane tickets, or get in our cars, battling the crowds of people who all seem to be happily going to visit family, but very well could be gnawing away inside too.
Or we buy the new sparkly red dress, the high heels, the purse, the whole deal. We show up at the party with all the people we don’t even like. We do it anyway. Why? Not exactly by choice, but because we think “we have to”.
Or else what?
When was the last time you questioned your own holiday patterns of action and so-called “traditions”?
When was the last time you gave yourself permission to even ask the question, “What do I want to do for the holidays?” Continue reading
Do you find yourself waiting?
Waiting to act, waiting for the right time, waiting for the perfect conditions, waiting for a reason, waiting for more money, waiting for someone else to finish, before you begin?
The difference between creativity and productivity is the energy behind our actions. Our society has conditioned us to be driven by measures of productivity. This means we have been conditioned to run our lives based on what to do next. We wrack our brains making “to do” lists, we pack our schedules full of “things to do”, we commute, we rush, we move constantly in our effort to achieve more productivity.
What we have not been taught – and what is not valued as publicly – is how to act from the energy of creativity. I have learned from my own deep practice that the energy of creativity is openness, space, and peace. The act of creativity is allowing.
All of that may sound way too passive to you, if you, like me, are a product of this culture we live in. Continue reading