Monthly archive for November 2011

Read this… slowly

The universe has an amazing way of providing me with every lesson I need. But often, the noise of my own wheels turning keeps me from paying attention. Thank goodness that the cosmic professor is not one to throw her hands up easily. (You’re her favorite student, by the way. You. Are.)

In the Summer of 2010, I was on a hot streak with my reading list. I had been praying for guidance and I was led to three books that changed my life [Paramahansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi, Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth, and Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the Bhagavad Gita]. I was tremendously inspired. I saw creation though new eyes (or perhaps a single eye), yet I hadn’t given myself a chance to sit with what I was learning and absorb it.

So, she sat back and looked at my effort and said, “I’m very proud of you. You’ve been working very hard. You’re doing well on your homework and tests, but I still get the feeling that you’re not fully getting it. Try this.”

I skinned my knee nearly to the bone, and I couldn’t bend it. I had almost zero range of motion in my right shoulder. All the things I do in a day that I take for granted suddenly required great attention- if I could do them at all. Talk about humbling… I couldn’t walk. I could only shuffle and limp. I’m right-handed. I had to do everything one-handed with my left hand. Still, I stayed committed to meditating and practicing (the most gentle) yoga every day. In fact, almost everything but that had stopped.

In the stillness, I could hear the message loud and clear, “Slow down! You don’t have to rush. Everything you need is right here, right now.” I had to bring my full attention to the present moment… and it was awesome. It required such presence and inspired such gratitude and humility that every action became a ceremony. I had read that this moment is not just a bridge to some point in the future. Finally, I understood the power of that on every level of my being.

To learn the lessons I needed to learn about healing, I had to have it broken down like that. I had to experience that time of healing my physical body so that that energy could begin to ripple into other areas. As I’m focusing on Ahimsa now, I’m reminded that growth does not require ‘go, go, go.’ Sometimes it requires just the opposite.

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Daily reminder

“My beloved child, break your heart no longer.
Each time you judge yourself, you break your own heart,
You stop feeding on the love which is the wellspring of your vitality.
The time has come. Your time. To live. To celebrate,
and to see the goodness that you are.
Do not fight the dark. Just turn on the light.
Let go, and breathe into the goodness that you are.”

~Swami Kripalvananda

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Daily reminder

“Practice enjoying the present moment, rather than using it up consumed with guilt over the past or worrying about the future.”

~Dr. Wayne Dyer

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Shakti dancing (with cartoon penguins)

One of the most cathartic aspects of my yoga is Shakti dancing. You know that expression, “dance like no one is watching?” Well, Shakti is watching… and she can’t wait for you to let go and let her do the doing. Can. Not. Wait.

Let go! Let Shakti move you. For serious, y’all…

Pop quiz: who remembers what makes the humans human? Choice! Sooo… why not choose to liberate your dancing feet? Currently, Maxim and I are breaking it down with this penguin- who has clearly been bitten by the Shakti bug.

Get up, right now, and join us!

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The Yamas: Ahimsa and the ants

Donna Farhi explains Ahimsa (non-violence) as not doing anything that will inhibit the growth of any being. I acknowledge that I inhibit my own spiritual growth with negative thinking and habits. Those are all acts of violence against myself. I vow to be mindful of practicing Ahimsa inward and outward.

If anything, my practice of Ahimsa served to reinforce that all great things must begin in the present moment. Even if I have no bad intentions whatsoever, my actions can still create chaos when they don’t come from a place of mindfulness. This message has been brought to you by my roommates, the ants.

During my yoga teacher training, I gave myself permission to ignore housework entirely. Yay, me! Then, I came home to find that the ants had taken over. Up until then, I went about getting rid of the ants like it was just plain bad housekeeping if there was an ant. Anywhere. Ever. Even though for every one I killed, ten seemed to pop up in its place.

But during this week, I stopped to watch the ants marching six-deep across my countertop, and I decided to let the ants be the ants. They reminded me very much of videos I had seen of blood circulating in the human body. I cleaned up what was necessary, and the ants retreated somewhat. Miracle of miracles!

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Hanging in Patanjali’s yoga tree

“Just as each limb is essential for the optimal functioning of your body, every limb of yoga practice is important.”
~Donna Farhi, from Yoga: Mind Body and Spirit

In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali describes eight aspects of yoga that mark the path to enlightenment. He call them the Eight-fold Path of yoga: Yamas (restraints), Niyamas (qualities), Asana (physical postures), Pranayama (control of breath), Pratyahara (drawing attention inward/away from the senses), Dharana (focused attention), Dhyana (meditation/concentration), and Samadhi (bliss).

Although Asana is the most familiar branch to most Westerners, I share Donna Farhi‘s sentiment that all of the limbs are necessary to achieve balance. The first steps, yama and niyama, are a lot like the yoga ten commandments.

During my Yoga Teacher Training, I devoted one week to each of the yamas and niyamas. It built a foundation that brought new depth and understanding to my asana practice. So much so that I’m going to have another go at it. I’m not giving myself any time parameters this time, though. If it takes six months to be ready to move on from Ahimsa, then so be it. Also, I’ll be sharing my original experiences with each yama from this Summer.

Get ready for Ahimsa in 3…2…1…

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Daily reminder

“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. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. 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. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

~Marianne Williamson

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So, how do you feel about banjos…

We’re pretty much going steady now, so…

There is something about the banjo that sounds so joyful to me. Something about it just screams ‘YES!’- perhaps my WV roots are showing…Shakti willing. Our solar plexus chakra (manipura) is the center of our power, our will, and our joy. When we shut this down and go on auto-pilot, we opt out of so many of the best parts of being a human being.

Check out Mean Mary doing her thing. Feelings?

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Notes on Shakti [act 1, scene 1]

So, I was on the phone the other day with my mother, Kathy Ann… the Alpha & Omega of Kamelien (or K & …n, at least). She was very confused about several things- the most bell-ringing of which was… who’s Shakti??

Whoa there, Kath… who’s Shakti?!!

Where I am, right now geographically, is thousands of miles away from anything that was familiar to me growing up. And that’s just the beginning. I am such a blessed, forgetful little bunny that I even take ‘Shakti’ for granted sometimes (wrist slap…gently).

Please begin here if you would like to learn more. ॐ

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Autumn confessions of a Vata-holic

I was in a mall in Virginia when I first heard of Ayurveda. The Body Shop had introduced a range of Ayurvedic bodycare products, and I took a dosha quiz to find out what I should buy. And it was from that time that I was aware that I am Vata… very, very Vata… whatever that means.

Thankfully, Ayurveda stuck with me and wouldn’t get off my case until I paid attention. I find now that Ayurveda integrates so helpfully into my attempts to achieve balance that it is an essential companion on my journey.

Let’s take Autumn, for example. I was never too fond of Autumn, even though I grew up with the changing colors and weather and all. At best, it was the time that connected Summer Break and Christmastime. Through Ayurveda, I learned that Fall is a Vata season. For someone as Vata-heavy as I am, I must give extra-special attention to maintaining balance during this time.

Anyway, after a busy October, I feel the need to focus on balance and being rather than doing and… doing. Get off the treadmill and into the jacuzzi, if you will. This article, Ayurveda tips for Autumn, is an excellent reminder for me because it covers all of the five senses.

I’m making an effort to move away from detoxes and cleanses (if only in name) in favor of a ‘conscious return to mindfulness about what I take in.’ I find that my former fondness of detoxes came in no small part from my perception that I needed to be fixed or corrected- flying in the face of my realization that I am already everything I must be. Our senses are our tools for navigating through this sea of human life. My sense of ‘balance’ in my body depends on input from all five of them.

What do you do to stay balanced?  What’s your dosha? Take a free dosha quiz here. ॐ

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