Excavation of a Soul~The magic of Yoga


There are still those countless people who believe that practicing yoga is an “exercise”. They believe that it’s only the movement of limbs and core to tone and tighten their body to appeal to someone else, who honestly, probably isn’t worth that effort. They tell themselves it’s an “easy” way to give physical effort it’s due and carry on with their regularly scheduled program. They think yoga is about the clothes, and the malas, and the Om, and the Zen, and the whatever bullshit they have floating around in that brain so full of misconceptions.

I was one of them, until it brought me back from the dead, opened my heart, and uncovered the Goddess buried inside of me under endless layers of pretense and shitty perceptions.

I taught myself with a DVD at home, craning my neck awkwardly towards the TV screen while I assumed the next asana. I felt ridiculous and incapable at first, but I kept going. In a few weeks I no longer needed to see every move, I knew what to do when I heard her speak. I began to flow from one asana to the next and my heart began to release, and my spirit to glow.

****Silence is not an absence but a presence. Not an emptiness but repletion; A filling up.”
― Anne D. LeClaire

I felt like every morning began with a moving prayer to the Universe; one of gratitude. I was answered by the filling of my heart with peace, and my mind with power over myself. I became alive in a quiet, joyful way that began to clear my vision of all things ridiculous and  unimportant. The frenzy of my world began to calm a little, smooth out here and there, my heart began to recognize moments of peace.

**The practice of yoga itself transforms. Yoga has a magical quality.”

― Ravi Ravindra

There is a magic to the practicing of yoga that defies anything but the word magic. It is miraculous in that it can release something beautiful and rare from a generic societal state of being. It is powerful in that it’s quietness brings a still heart screaming to life in living color. It is the equivalent of the calming of the storm in biblical times, or Lazarus rising from the dead.

It’s truth, I can say that, because it happened to me.

**“When you catch yourself slipping into a pool of negativity, notice how it derives from nothing other than resistance to the current situation.” ― Donna Quesada

Practicing yoga brought me back to life by bringing me into the present.  I learned to be and show gratitude now, for my blessings now. I began to regulate the past where it belonged, and look at the future as a present to be unwrapped when it arrived. I began to look at myself more gently, and with a sense of forgiveness, which allowed me to do the same towards others.

**“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free. ~Michelangelo

I didn’t so much reinvent myself, as I began to excavate who I was from beneath a lifetime of expectations, criticisms, and societal rules. Not just those imposed on me by others all the way back to childhood, but those I imposed upon myself. I would uncover some unknown part of me and sit with myself in awe, learning to love it, or at least understand and accept what was. I began to see the beauty and purpose in even the flawed parts of me I would have normally hidden away from view. I had inadvertently fallen into a state of grace via 30 minutes of morning yoga.

**“Courage is often associated with aggression, but instead should be seen as a willingness to act from the heart.”
― Donna Quesada

I began living from my new heart, my new state of being, and it gave me joy and countless challenges. Apparently nobody likes the status quo messed with in any way. But no matter the discomfort suffered by those around me, I had to act and live in the knowledge of my newly awakened state, and although I rocked a few boats, I stayed on course. It’s frightening to step outside of all that you’re accustomed to and expand into more, but I am determined. The magic of all I’ve uncovered so far has made me more alive than ever before, given me the courage to speak and write and be as I feel I must, and to hell with the consequences.

I think of this every time I do a heart opening asana and feel the bands of bullshit release and set my heart and spirit free of fear.

**”Oh, that’s fear. Try the pose again.” Fear. I hadn’t even known it was there.”

― Claire Dederer

Welcome to the magic, to the miracle, to your heart, to the truth of who you are.

Welcome to Yoga.

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Heart of Stone


This last year or so has been an epic quest for me to find my heart. My adventure started in a dull and dimly lit place, where no one could hurt my feelings or ego, because I didn’t care enough to be hurt. No one could ever stomp on my dreams, because I packed them away, and rendered them unimportant . It was a safe, colorless, monotonous place of emotional paralysis. For a lot of years, I preferred it that way.

On the flip side of that, when I wasn’t busy not caring about life, I was borderline rage/confrontational. I wasn’t going to take any crap off of anyone.

I’m not sure exactly when I realized that I couldn’t feel anything wonderful either. I couldn’t turn off the painful stuff if I wanted to feel the good, and I couldn’t feel any quality of emotion when I was shut down to protect myself.

What a dilemma, and how exhausting it was. I finally became fed up with being unhappy about my little diatribes, and my attitudes, so I began to give myself instruction toward peaceful living.

Please understand that when I first stepped out of my dimly lit and lifeless room of monotony, I had no clue how to move toward peace. I only knew I had to find it. Somewhere out in the great unknown.

I began by acting peaceful. This first step was awesome for the rest of the world, but for me, not so much. There were many times I was certain that I would implode from the pressure of my self-control holding in my anger, or explode from my failure to do so. I read, studied, read, studied, meditated, yoga, read.

I became my own patchwork guru of survival and thrival (I know, I did just make up a word). I didn’t want to LOOK peaceful, or ACT peaceful. I realized at some point I needed to BE  peace, and it was buried beneath all this ridiculous garbage of life I carry with me every day. I mean, it IS my garbage, so why would I just dump it?

I found a yoga teacher, who became a sister/friend to me. I was able to say to another human being how hard and locked up I felt inside, that I felt I needed to bust my heart open. The constriction of it was no longer acceptable to me. I wanted to be the me I vaguely remembered who was unafraid of joy, or risk, or honesty of emotion. The fearless girl. Mendy was amazing. I really don’t know how she came to be my gift at that time, because I didn’t have anyone I felt safe enough to be honest with about what I dreamed or wanted. I felt and heard her genuine acceptance and belief in me and what I would achieve, and it has given me confidence to continue on.

I have learned to decide, when I become angry, whether to address the cause at the time~or accept it’s not worth my attention and let it go. I’ve learned to expect to be treated differently, that I get to decide who I am and what I do. Absolutely no one else has that power or authority over me. I’ve learned people are the most important thing, and that I am one of them. I’ve learned to be kind to me, to listen to my intuition, to hug my inner brat for wanting to lop off heads and just let it go. Let it go.

I am learning that my excitement doesn’t need to be contained or watered down so people are comfortable with it. Isn’t that what led me to my locked up sad place? Yes it is. I can be brave and try things other people won’t. I can be fearless and give up things that no longer serve me. I can dream as big as I want and know that what the Universe has for me is even bigger than what I can imagine for myself. I don’t have to stay where I am and be who I’ve been. I can keep changing every day until I run out of days, and I’m excited to see what version of me I’ll become next.

I am softening my heart, doing the work to open up to life so I may actually live it. I will open my heart, unafraid, so I have the ability and the desire to love my family and friends, and be involved in a community of like-minded individuals because we’re really all a part of each other anyway.

I will be strong enough within me, to accept you as you, and not the potential clone of  me that I want to turn you into. I won’t change myself, I’ll just uncover me by dumping my garbage where it belongs, and admiring you for doing the same when you’re ready.

Let’s crack it wide open, let the Light in.

Breaking the Chains


Time is a factory

where everyone slaves away

earning enough love

to break their own chains.

~Hafiz

 

The funny/sad part of this is~the love we are working so hard to earn is our own. The respect we want is self-respect. The eyes we want so badly to smile at us, are our own. We want to be proud of us, to know that when all else fails, the love and integrity we are will carry us. We will be victorious, we will break our own chains.

The other funny/sad part of this is~we put ourselves in the chains we need freed from. We are the ones who set the limits on our achievements, dreams, and willingness to take risks. We are the ones that said, “NO! Do what you should, not what you desire.  Be responsible, punch the clock, take the crap, do the duties, dim the light, don’t be ridiculous, foolish, stupid, wrong.”  We did that to us, no one else even helped until we gave them permission, WHICH WE DID!

I can be who ever I want, and do what ever I want. So can you. I can be a writer, poet, healer, teacher of meditation, mother, wife, daughter, friend. I can be and do all of these things. I can be a chaser of dreams, a healer of hearts, a lover of beauty, a sharer of joy. I can be a guide to the heart, and an example of how to know if you have one to find! You can’t stop me, nobody can, except me.

We live so small, think so small, dream so small. When we begin to transform ourselves by asking the first questions of who am I? and what do I want? we step into a power so astounding that many step back out quickly and consider themselves lucky. I’m more like the character in Pleasantville who refused to give up the color she was starting to see in her gray tone world. I’m with you sister, I like living in color and I’m not going back.

Wars and Rumors of Wars


Hate and discontent seem to abound recently. Countries fighting other countries, all divided among themselves, democrats vs republicans, state vs federal vs city, rich vs poor, and families imploding within the home; loved ones turning on each other. Are you asking yourselves “what the hell?”, if you are, you’re right, it is hell~and we made it ourselves.

I go into the laundry room to process a load and the knob on the washer just comes right off in my hands. Since I know I didn’t do anything to it (and my hubby is the only other person living here) who could be the cause of this?? So I ask what in the world happened to the washer and he doesn’t know! It’s a freaking mystery. So I begin to ask questions in a very nice voice, but I have already determined several things in a split second.

1. He broke it

2. He just doesn’t want to admit it.

3. He is trying to put me on the offensive so I’ll drop my inquiry.

As we continue on with this sad excuse of a conversation this morning, he becomes louder and more angry (I mean, I am pretty much calling him a liar or a dufus right?) and I finally just stop and say blah blah blah I’m sure it’s my fault, sorry, blah blah blah. At that moment I mean none of this. I’m just wanting to go be pissed because my washer is broke and he won’t admit to breaking it. For God’s sake.

So, I’m standing in the laundry room (doing some Zen breathing) and I kind of step aside and look at myself. What. The. Hell? I do prayers and meditation, practice yoga, study spiritual writings, do constant self-observation to uncover the awesome person under the world’s bullshit…and not only am I pissed, but I’ve offended someone I love BECAUSE OF A BROKEN WASHER KNOB!!  Seriously?? And I am baffled as to why there is so much hate and discontent in the world, and wonder why the world can’t get along and live and let live in the light of everyday joys?

We will only achieve world peace when we become peace in our own hearts and lives. If there is not peace in our hearts as individuals, there will not be peace in our homes. Without peace in our homes there is no hope for our cities, states, countries, or world as a whole. We can pass laws for “hate crimes” but if we carry it in our hearts the laws mean nothing. The hypocrisy is astounding and it begins in our own hearts and homes.

There is nothing in our brains that physically forces us to have a fit when we’re  angry. We choose that. We are taught that reaction. And we can choose differently if we want to.  So I’m going to start practicing a different way. Maybe just be mad and figure out why I am, and what that means, and what I should do to change that circumstance. Maybe I’ll come to the conclusion (again) that I’m irritated about my own behaviour and want to poke at someone else for it. Maybe I’ll even realize a few truths here and there that the guy I love is more important than the washer knob, and that even if he did break it(and who knows which one of us did) him going to work in a good mood instead of re-enacting a scene from the exorcist is what I should help him achieve.

So let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with me…Seriously. This is where it starts~go!