The air is thick with the scent of lavender, heavy with the warmth of bodies at rest. A single strand of white lights twists, dances, curls along the floor where it meets the rising wall, hinting at the outer boundary of the otherwise darkened room.
I rise from a state of complete rest, quiet inside my body, after a Restorative Yoga class with John. I am curious about what sounds I will invite into the already perfect silence and stillness enveloping me. I set up my sacred space, an altar to my joy, my circle of support, my ability to love and to transform, to play and to create.
I settle in to the energy of these objects on my altar, which bring me peace and freedom even as I step closer to the edge of vulnerability in the open space.
The sound of the shruti box calms me, grounds me with a gentle yet firm foundation. It is both undulating and constant, a launching pad into the infinite as well as a soft place to land and be nurtured.
I invite sounds from all who are in the room. Immediately we are one – a chorus. Singers who don’t need to know the song, who simply listen and offer what comes naturally from within. A sigh, an exhale, a melodious note – it doesn’t matter. We are in this space together, experiencing this magic together. We enter the practice as one. Continue reading →
Last year I made a vision board for who I am and how I feel when I express my creativity. I had devoted 2010 to my Core of Peace, and I was setting a new intention for 2011.
I didn't know exactly HOW my creativity would be expressed. But by making the vision board I connected with images and words that captured how I knew it would FEEL to be in that place of expression.
I let go of the HOW, because I didn't - and couldn't - know at the time what the exact steps would be.
I breathed deeply into the feelings of my own creativity, and allowed images to attract me without needing an explanation or a meaning or a concept. They were just images that I loved, for no "reason" at all.
Here is the vision board I made:
I have it as the wallpaper image on my laptop, so every time I open my computer, the images enter my consciousness. Most days, I don't sit and deliberately stare at every image on my screen, but I know they are there.
I haven't thought about that vision board in many months. I have gone about the business of living, of staying in my Core of Peace, of letting some things go, and picking up other things, of planting seeds and watching them grow, all the while noticing that I cannot force growth to happen any faster than it already is.
Last night I looked at it again.
It was with a sense of amazement that I noticed how many of the images had actually come into my reality during 2011. In other words, my visions had come true! Continue reading →
Today I'm reprinting a blog post I wrote over a year ago, on my Truth Love Beauty blog. It resonates with me right now, which is comforting. The truth has a way of standing the test of time. It also reminds me of a topic I have not talked about on this blog - the observations and lessons I learned from teaching violin to more than 30 toddlers in the Silicon Valley for five and a half years. These descriptions bring me back to a time that was filled with joys and challenges, and ultimately catalyzed a whole new way of being and learning for me.Here it is:
Does all the woo-woo, positive psychology, self-help talk make you feel a little queasy or, at best, skeptical? Does an email with the subject line, “You can do it!”, make you want to “Report spam” faster than you can hit “Delete”?
When I worked with parents and their children in a coaching/teaching environment, I learned that there are many ways we adults try to encourage our kids. We all have a default style of communication that is a product of the various influences in our lives – our own parents, our many teachers, our older siblings, our bosses, our mentors, or even a conglomeration of all the ways we DON’T want to be like any of those people. What I’ve learned about effective coaching I first saw by watching children who were actually allowed to learn. It’s simple: all a kid wants is to know what it feels like to try, and to know that they’ll be OK if they fail. If you give them those two things, they’ll try over and over again with great enthusiasm, and pretty soon (or maybe a lot later) they will succeed. Continue reading →
There are a few things I remember always knowing about myself, ever since I was three years old. I remember being in the back seat of the car, when I was three, hearing my parents and brother talking about someone getting into "Harvard". Something about that word rang in my ears. I asked what "Harvard" was. I don't remember what they answered, but I do remember thinking, "Someday I'm going to go there."
I let it go for the next fourteen or so years. And then I ended up going there for college.
At some other point in time, I remember falling in love with the sound of the French language. I loved learning a foreign language which enabled me to speak elegantly, fluidly, gracefully. It contrasted so much with the angular lines and frantic tempo of the Chinese dialects I heard in my family. And, like music, it was a doorway to a secret world that expanded my ability to understand others and express myself in a different way. I remember thinking, "Someday I'll study at the Sorbonne." It seemed like a throwaway thought at the time, but I remembered it. And I ended up doing just that, as a scholarship winner for six weeks during the summer between high school and college.
Six years ago I defrosted another set of childhood dreams. Continue reading →
This morning, as I was driving to the grocery store, there were these thoughts running through my head:
"What if I could just relax into ACCEPTANCE of myself, exactly as I am right now?"
"What if I could treat myself as if right now, exactly as everything is, it IS all exactly as it should be?"
I was trying to examine my recent thought patterns which were centered around "concern" for a variety of things in my life: was I spending enough time doing the right things, was I doing enough yoga, was I eating enough fruit and vegetables, was I working hard enough on the right things for my business, was I spending too much time on "non-productive" activities....
The list went on and on, and nothing seemed to be "clicking" or "flowing" during the past few weeks until the rare moments when I just let go and did the ONE thing right in front of me.
This morning, I was thinking about the feeling and energy around doing JUST THIS, RIGHT NOW. What is it about that thought which creates flow? It's certainly not a state of heightened anxiety and pushing and grasping. It's not an energy of worrying.
It's exactly the opposite. It's LETTING GO of all the worrying and relaxing the mind completely. Continue reading →
This post grew out of my reflections on being confused...read Part 1 if you haven't already.
With all the talk of clarity, power, intention, success, and purpose, it can be a little intimidating to acknowledge when you have a moment of confusion.
But there is a time for confusion.
And until we can acknowledge and admit this to ourselves, we cannot move through it. We gloss over the surface of it, trying to fix the outer appearance of our lives, staying busy and enrolled in things, buying more, doing more, hoping that all that activity will make the confusion go away.
It's true that action and forward motion is such a powerful antidote to feeling stuck and ruminating for too long. But I've also found that acknowledging the truth, and being able to rest in the feeling of truth, is an essential starting point.
A refined definition of being "open" occurred to me while in yoga class today, lying in Supta Baddha Konasana, reclined cobbler's (or bound angle) pose.
Being open does not necessarily mean being open to absolutely everything. It may mean being open to the realization that you prefer NOT to do certain things. It's part of the willingness to allow this realization to flow in and to learn to trust the truth of your own experience.
My first experience shadowing a real practicing physician was in 1996, when I spent my spring break week staying in the home of a Radcliffe alumna and saw a glimpse into "a week in the life of..." someone in the real world. I thought, if I wanted to have a credible story about wanting to go to medical school (which my essential self really didn't want to do), I should at least see what one does. I shadowed a family physician in Philadelphia, who had a beautiful family of her own and a fun group of colleagues. At the time, I was naive to many of the challenges of having a small medical practice affiliated with a teaching hospital system, but I was keenly focused on how she interacted with her patients. I noticed that every time a patient came in, she would ask, "How are things at home?"
It almost became a running joke between us, because no matter how "mechanical" the problem seemed to be at first - an annual school physical, or a follow-up visit for a broken arm - she always asked this question. And it always opened people up to some long-awaited discussion about a lingering source of stress in their lives. They seemed so relieved to be able to talk about what was going on at home. Often there was nothing more she had to do except listen to the patient for a few minutes, giving them a space to be heard. Amongst us doctors, we used to call these "psychosocial" issues or "supratentorial" problems (a medical insider's term for implying "it's all in their head"). I returned from that trip with a profound respect for the job of a family physician - in the way she had taken it on - and also a desire to find some way to play an important role in people's lives through my work.
Self care isn't as sexy as medical care
When I actually got to medical school, I quickly learned the hierarchy of "sexiness" among the medical specialties - the unspoken but pervasively understood ranking based on how "challenging" or "prestigious" or "difficult to get into" they were. Family medicine pretty much ranked at the bottom. In contrast to the people who were "really" doing important things like surgeries, intensive care, and (oooh la la!) minimally invasive procedures, family physicians were the glorified "social workers" in the pecking order of traditional western medicine. At least that's how I learned it at the time. Continue reading →