Inspiration

hOMework: Brahmacharya

Repost from my teacher training hOMework:

Brahmacharya has always been the most abstract yama for me. And, I’ve heard it defined many different ways. Moderation? Celibacy?? Continence? I wasn’t even sure of the meaning of that one- really, what does that mean? Words are a favorite pastime of mine, especially the etymology of words. So, I did what I do, and sure enough! Continence comes from Latin ‘continens’ [con (with) + tenere (to hold)]. To hold within? To contain. I’ve often heard Brahmacharya associated with one’s ‘vital energy’. So, is it about containing my vital energy? What is my vital energy? Can I feel it? After considering this, I decided that I can feel my vital energy, and I feel it most powerfully after meditation, asana, and spiritual practices. Also, I feel its absence in other situations when I feel ‘zapped’. Deflated.

My bodies are a heart-shaped balloon. My vital energy inflates it and keeps it aloft. When I step away from my Sadhana, I begin to lose altitude. Challenges in ‘the real world’ cause my mind to stress, worry, and plan. My balloon starts sinking toward the briar patch.

This week, I decided to stay in touch with my vital energy and monitor what inflates my balloon and what torpedoes it. I was amazed at how much I could feel my balloon rise and fall. I began charting its ups and downs and listing the associated activities. As the list began to grow, I noticed that their labels could also be ‘sattvic things’ and ‘tamasic things’. I began focusing on bringing a sattvic quality to my actions, thoughts, food, intention, etc. I felt my balloon soaring! As it would dip, I noticed that a rajasic or tamasic thought would usually initiate the drop, so I focused on stopping my mind at the first negative thought and countering it with an affirmation that would pump the balloon back up.

It didn’t take long to realize that coming back to Source and giving Source its proper due was the key to smooth sailing. In fact, Source is the One filling up the balloon. When it comes to sailing over the briar patch, a simple ‘I love you, Shakti. You’re doing a great job’ works better than any amount of effort. For me, Brahmacharya is about conserving our vital energy so that we may redirect it back to Source. Any action that is not feeding that reciprocal exchange is like throwing gold into the abyss. My experiments in vital energy this week showed me very clearly that any kind of excess or action that feeds the ego has the net result of one droopy little balloon. Stick with sattva! Stick with Source! Fly high!

Love and blessings-
Holly

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Please support Team Tiger for Chelsea!

There we are… the mama tiger and the little tiger.

It’s unbelievable to me that it has nearly been a year since we took this photo at the finish line of the 3rd annual Finish Chelsea’s Run 5K. What a year it has been! There has been so much inspiration, so many changes, and so many miles covered. And much of it I can link directly to momentum that began during the preparation for last year’s race.

Last year, I wrote a post about my involvement in the race and my connection to a beautiful, radiant soul whose life was taken too soon, Chelsea King (you can read it here– please do!). It was an especially intense process for me, physically, mentally, and emotionally. I wrote at that time that I would carry in my heart the lessons I had learned long after the race had ended. I was right. On all of those levels- physically, mentally, emotionally, I have never been the same.

One of the most readily apparent changes is that I became a runner. A real runner. At this time last year, I was amazed that I could run 3 miles without stopping. Now, a 5K fun run is actually fun for me. Three miles is a light running day. I have even gone on to compete in several 10Ks over the last year.

In each of those races, and on most other days I run, I wear a little orange bracelet that I was given at the finish line of last year’s Finish Chelsea’s Run 5K. On one side, it says “Chelsea’s Light Foundation,” and on the other, “They can because they think they can” (the foundation’s motto). Whenever I put that bracelet on, I am instantly reminded to count my blessings. I am reminded to be grateful for every opportunity I have to do my best. I am reminded of Chelsea. If Holly is feeling lazy and making excuses about lacing up my shoes and hitting the road, then do it for Chelsea. That always does the trick.

The foundation’s motto has also become a mantra for me. So much of my progress as a runner is a result of mental, rather than physical, fitness. As long I keep my thoughts in positive territory, I continue putting one foot in front of the other. If an “I can’t, this is too hard” somehow creeps in, my body stops before I realize what is happening. This is a lesson I learned early on in my fledgling running career, and it is one that I’ve learned applies in everything I do. I call upon it daily, as a mother, as a runner, as a yoga instructor, as a human being who wishes to do good in the world.

Admittedly, my preparation for this year’s race has been quite different from last year. For one thing, running a 5K is not something that I need to train for months to do. For another, I will be nearly 8 months pregnant on the day of this year’s race. I have continued running throughout my pregnancy, though distance and pace went out the window months ago. Since this year’s race is guaranteed to be an entirely different experience for me, I spent some time thinking about how I wanted to approach it and what would be the best way to honor the spirit of “Chelsea’s Run” this time around. I decided that doing everything I could to hold space for joy, hope, and positivity with every step I take in those 3.1 miles would be a fitting way to honor Chelsea’s legacy. How best to do that? Bring my little tiger. He has become a runner in his own right in the last year, competing in a couple kids’ races, winning some medals… you know. Although he can really tear it up when he gets going, it’s usually in short bursts. He’ll be a great running partner this time around. I just know it.

So there you have it… the 4th annual Finish Chelsea’s Run 5K will be a family affair for me- both of my children will be coming along to support me and the cause. It is quite fitting, in fact, since the Chelsea’s Light Foundation aims to create a better world and a brighter future for children. The 5K is the foundation’s primary annual fundraiser, benefiting their Sunflower Scholarship Fund. This fund provides educational opportunities for exceptional students who might not have access to them otherwise. Additionally, this year’s event is being co-sponsored by the Girl Scouts, an organization that was a big part of Chelsea’s young life.

Now, the rallying cry, my friends… please support Team Tiger in our efforts to help Chelsea’s light shine! If you feel moved to stand up and support our cause, we have a fundraising page that will be accepting donations through race day on Saturday, March 1. This is such a wonderful foundation and an amazing group of people that I truly want to do all that I can for them. Click here if you agree!

A huge thank you to you for your time and support! And, as always, thank you to Chelsea, the Kings, and the Chelsea’s Light Foundation for being an endless source of inspiration!

FOR CHELSEA!!!

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#28daysofgratitude

I’ve been doing daily gratitude posts on my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages, and I wanted to share the love here as well.

This picture is from last week, but it was so good it turned into more gratitude with gratitude leftovers. One of my awesome students, a master gardener, brought these home-grown goodies for me- spaghetti squash and passion fruits.

I don’t have a great deal of experience with spaghetti squash, but I am now a huge fan. I found this recipe for roasted spaghetti squash with parmigiano-reggiano and used it in place of pasta with dinner. It was ah-may-zing. The shallots and garlic gave it so much flavor, and the squash itself is the coolest thing. It’s like magic. It pulls away from its rind into noodle-like fibers when it is roasted. Super easy. Super cool. Even my five-year-old was a fan.

So there’s my gratitude upon gratitude for the garden gift basket I received last week. Shout out to Wendy the gardening goddess!

What are you grateful for today, yoga lovers? Feel free to share in the comments!

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Kamelien loves you!!

Yoga is not a religion. It is a science, science of well-being, science of youthfulness, science of integrating body, mind, and soul.

~Amit Ray, Yoga and Vipassana: An Integrated Lifestyle

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Kamelien loves you!

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

~Neale Donald Walsch

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Kamelien loves you!

The most important thing is to hold on, hold out, for your creative life, for your solitude, for your time to be and do, for your very life; hold on, for the promise from the wild nature is this: after winter, spring always comes.

~Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With Wolves

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Kamelien loves you!

We look for the blessing in the boulder we cannot remove from our path and come to be grateful for our lives, accepting the journey that is ours alone to live. The point at which we stop asking, ‘Why me?’ and accept that some things can never have rational explanations marks the beginning of our acceptance of the spiritual mystery of divine will.

~Caroline Myss, PhD, Invisible Acts of Power

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Kamelien loves you!

It is impossible to be both wise and pessimistic. Yet you have to nurture optimism consciously. ‘Wisdom arises through effort,’ Buddha said, and it disappears through lack of effort. You have to choose to make the best of a difficult situation and to trust that a reason beyond your understanding is always at work.

~Caroline Myss, PhD, Invisible Acts of Power

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Kamelien loves you!

We are born with a desire to fulfill our highest potential, purpose, or Sacred Contract, but we do have to develop the will to fulfill it. When we are off-track- usually when we are motivated more by fear and expedience than by courage and a vision of what we’re meant to do- we become restless and disappointed.

~Caroline Myss, PhD, Invisible Acts of Power

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Kamelien loves you!

Being of service is not an option, it is a biological necessity. Every kind action we do for someone is a reanimation of our own life force- and of the other person’s.

~Caroline Myss, PhD, Invisible Acts of Power

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