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Archive for June, 2010

Balancing Act

I had a thought the other day that I prefer the word balancing over balance.  Whereas balance sounds like the finished product, balancing is about evolving, growing, and ever-changing.  When practicing asana’s, especially standing/balancing poses, I thought the secret to balancing is to stay perfectly still.  I would pick a drishti point (a gaze or point of focus) and try to hold a pose with the least amount of movement possible.  Now while this thought can be helpful in certain poses, I realize that it can be a bit unrealistic.  Take tree pose (vrksasana) for example.  With one leg firmly planted in the ground, the other lifted and pressing into your upper thigh, and your arms reaching up towards infinity, it is easy to picture a mighty oak tree, unwavering in it’s existance.  Except… we are not unwavering.  We lean to the left, right, front, or back.  Sometimes I press too strongly with my lifted leg into the base leg and that foot will end up rocking a little.  Moments of being perfectly balanced and still are for only seconds, at best.  And yet, even with only seconds of balance, I am still able to hold the pose for minutes.  So how can that be?

I have one instructor who always likes to play in tree pose.  Sometimes he’ll have us sway our arms overhead or bounce up and down with the standing leg, or even use a game he plays with kids called “Happy, Clapping Trees” in which you hop up and down on your standing leg while also clapping your hands overhead until he says freeze where you are then supposed to stand perfectly still (so the “lumberjack” doesn’t cut you down.. lol).  The point i’m trying to make is that balancing is a continuous, evolving practice and the moment you think you “ARE” balanced is also the moment you’ll probably begin to lose it.

These days, I’m ok if my poses aren’t static.  I wobble, rock side to side, and sway all the time.  Sometimes I even purposely do it just to get a better understanding of the pose.  Even in poses such as downward-facing dog (adho mukha svanasana) or a simple forward bend (uttanasana) I will sway my hips or arms, respectively, side to side to get a better feeling in the pose.  Not only does it make it a little more fun, many times it helps ground me better.

Just wanted to share a quick observation yoga has brought into my life.  Rather than strive for the goal of balance, I am quite content to explore the journey of balancing.  It brings me greater lessons and I find the challenge particularly fun!  I hope you enjoy your journey as well.  Blessings to you.

Namaste.

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Asana as Meditation

Ever since I began to dive deeper into yoga, the concept of meditation has been very fascinating to me.  However, it was always one of those “I wish I could do that…” type of things.  I can easily share with you how I’ve always been a deep thinker and problem solver or how my mind never stops or how I love fixing things or how I do usually do very well in stressful, emergency type of situations.  I could explain to you in great detail how all these factors contribute to the fact that my brain, lifestyle, and upbringing are not conducive to meditation.  To put it simply: I can’t meditate. 

Anybody else feeling like I am lying to myself because I sure do.  One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in my life is to continually eliminate words such as can’t from my vocabulary.  Words such as this allow yourself the excuse to shut your mind off.  If you think you can’t, why would you even try?  Our words truly become flesh so rather than say “I can’t…” a better saying would be “How can I?”  That simple question can open your mind up to a world of possibilites.

I can’t do it.  —> How can I do it?

I don’t have time.  –>  How can I make time?

I can’t afford it.  —>  How can I afford it?

I can’t meditate.  —>  How can I meditate?

See what I mean?  The first is a close-minded statement with no room for solutions but the second is an open-ended question with an unlimited amount of possible answers.

When I first started my yoga practice, meditation was my unicorn.  Something that sounds so great but at least for me, didn’t exist.  But the truth is that I so badly wanted it to exist.  I bought a meditation book that came highly recommended from a friend only to read the first few pages and haven’t picked it up again since.  And it had nothing to do with the book, rather it was all the insecurities floating around in my head.  The thought that perhaps I wasn’t good (or good enough) to even attempt to incorporate mediation into my life.  Even as I write this post, I continually look up at my bookshelf to see that book staring right back at me, waiting to be read and appreciated.

As my yoga has evolved and balanced into a mental and spiritual practice as much as a physical practice, meditation has become a much more comfortable part of the process.  I no longer see meditation as a mythical creature but instead a slowly evolving part of my practice.  I do not have a daily meditation practice, rather I have allowed myself the freedom to experiment when I see fit.  There are times I will turn off the lights, play some soothing music, and quietly sit cross-legged on the floor for a few minutes or however long the mood strikes me.

A few days ago, I was thinking to myself and trying to define what mediation meant to me.  Meditation is such a deeply unique experience for each person that there is no be-all, end-all answer to meditation.  There is no way I can define the undefinable so a better question is trying to understand what meditation means to me.  Some of the things I thought about were quieting my mind, being happy, finding balance, delving beyond the physical layer of an experience, experiencing joy and contentment in nothing (or everything?), and feeling connected with my surroundings.  Then later that day I went to an asana class when a thought suddenly struck me:

This IS my meditation.

All those things I feel meditation “is”, happens each time I walk into class and escape the rest of the world.  Each time I walk into the yoga studio, that time is deeply and personally mine.  Sitting meditation at home has been a very powerful and beneficial meditation for me BUT so has my asana practice.  I’m not sure if many yogi’s have considered asana as a form of meditation but I’m sure many would agree that there comes a point in their practice where asana’s went from being something purely physical to something so much more.  For me, it has become another form a meditation. 

In another moment of fate or coincidence, as I was contemplating this concept of “Asana as Meditation”, the chapter in the book I am reading (Yoga Beyond Belief by Ganga White) is entitled Meditation Is Your Life.  The first paragraph helped confirm what I was feeling: “Your entire life is your meditation.  All other specific forms of meditation technique are secondary.  By integrating qualities of attention, awareness, caring, and insight into all arenas of living, we reach the deeper core and more essential meaning of meditation.  This is an important contextual perspective to elucidate before proceeding further in an inquiry into specific meditation techniques.  Rather than simply asking how to meditate, it is better to explore first the essense of what meditation is.

As I continue to live my yoga, I am sure I will eventually learn and develop more of the “proper” meditation techniques.  However, today I am very content knowing that my asana practice is a very fulfilling venue of my meditation practice.  And for today, that is more than enough.

Namaste.

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This thing called Life

A few posts ago I mentioned all the great things I wanted to share with you in the coming days and then suddenly… nothing.  Life sure is interesting sometimes.  Earlier this week I finished my fast and honestly, I felt like I was on top of the world.  I was clear-headed, happy,  healthy, accomplished, motivated, balanced, etc.  I was letting go of many things, especially healing from heartbreak.  My whole life felt so energized and refreshing!  I was PRESENT in a way I haven’t been in a long time.  Life is so amazing…

And then it threw me a few curveballs.

One thing that really shocked me was.. well the best way to explain it is probably “Fast Withdrawl”.  My fast gave me a chance to really see and try to understand my eating habits.  By not eating, it was almost as if I had a bird’s eye view of my eating habits and I was excited to make some dietary changes in my life.  But the day I finished my fast, I learned a very startling lesson: The fast was the EASY part!  While on the fast, my “eating” was very simplified.  Choosing to drink only water and all natural juices, my choices became very limited.  Orange, apple, pineapple, coconut, mango, guava, etc.  It actually became pretty fun getting to drink many things I’ve neglected over the years.  But the truth was, it was simple.  If I went to a grocery store, everything I practically needed would only be on 1 or 2 shelves.  At a restaurant, I didn’t need a menu, all I had to do was ask our waiter/waitress what type of juice they had.  It was all so simple.

But once my fast was over, a whole world of eating possibilities opened back up to me.  Now it was up to me if I wanted to eat a salad or a cheeseburger?  Pizza or acai cup?  Banana or candy bar?  Water or soda?  Meals became a struggle between new eating habits being born versus old habits fighting for their life.  And it isn’t just an internal struggle either.  Eating is very emotional and bonding which means the way you eat is usually also a reflection of how the people in your life eat.  Friends, family, coworkers, western civilization (Lol! Just kidding!), probably all share the same eating habits.  Personally, many of my friends and family didn’t really understand and while I’m thankful they didn’t try to stop me or tell me I was wrong, they didn’t really know how to support me so I was treated w/ mild indifference.  The 2 most popular questions I was asked were, “How’s your diet going?” and “How much weight have you lost?”  They really didn’t get the true meaning and outcome of my fast.  Of course, when I shared the same information with my fellow yogi’s and instructors, I was met with, “That’s so awesome!” or “Good for you!”  or “Let me know if I can help or answer any questions for you!”  It’s almost like living 2 separate lives.

Anyway, back to what I was saying.  Coming off my fast became a little frustrating.  I have to admit, there were times that the temptation (and convenience) of a burger or slice of pizza were too much and I would give in.  And while I believe that moderation is much more effective than denial, the truth was these types of food would leave me full but unsatisfied.  I was fulfilling a mental hunger not a phsyical one.  And it’s interesting to see that once that mental hunger was fulfilled, how quickly your mind can then turn around and say, “Why did you eat that?  You know you shouldn’t have done that.”  There were times I just felt like going back on my fast but that really is a short term solution to a long term problem.  This is something that I need to do baby step-by-baby step and neglecting or getting frustrated by that fact is only going to make this seem harder than it really is.  I must do the best I can each day but also remember to practice ahimsa on myself during those moments I may fall short.

Another curveball I experienced relates to the concept of living in my own vibration.  Fellow yogi’s expressed during satsang how difficult it can be to hold your own vibration among others who may be vibrating at a completely different frequency.  Even harder is knowing that at one time, you used to vibrate on the same frequency they do.  That doesn’t necessarily mean one is better than the other BUT can you still hold and maintain your own frequency or do you revert back?  I came into a few situations like this recently and I have to admit, it was tough.  I would stay vibrating at my own frequency for as long as I could until it became too much and knew I would either have to leave or find a way to take a break and recharge.  The truth is that sometimes it really took a lot of energy, especially trying to stay present when I so much wanted to just drift away.  I began feeling really frustrated that it became so much work trying to hold and maintain this vibration.  If this is the frequency I want to vibrate it, shouldn’t that be easy?  Is it hard because I’m trying to be something I’m not?  As thoughts like this began swirling in my head, I became increasingly frustrated and depressed.  All the feelings I felt the week before (balanced, motivated, clear-headed, etc) were starting to crumble and I felt powerless to stop it.  And then I read something (that I wish I had saved) that helped me put things back into perspective.  While it is very important for me to vibrate at my own frequency, I omitted a very important factor in the equation: Our frequency is not static.  For example, look at music.  Can you imagive how boring music would be if there was only one note?  Music is made by joining together many notes to create a beautiful harmony.  It’s the same for our frequency.  Stubbornly trying to hold onto one note regardless of circumstance, environment, or emotion is setting yourself up for failure and frustration.  Like music, my frequency must be a harmony of notes.  ALL of those notes are a part of MY frequency, not just one.  This was a very eye-opening, humbling, and important breakthrough in learning to live in my vibration.  And while I still need much more practice, the music is starting to sound better and better.

This thing called life sure threw me a few curveballs that temporarily left me feeling frustrated and defeated but as the cliche goes, “The important thing is not how many times you fall but how many times you are willing to get back up.”  Life has been quite the rollercoaster for me but I am glad to say that I’m still here, ready for another ride. 

This thing called life is the ultimate teacher and I humbly bow before thee.

Namaste.

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After many months, Love and I are slowly becoming friends again. Life is very different for the two of us now but I’m glad we still have a connection. I have written many posts dedicated to Love as I have tried to heal from heartbreak. Today, I write this post because I think I have finally found the strength to truly let go. Love Is So Amazing and letting her go has been one of the toughest things I have ever gone through in my life because I’ve never cared or wanted somebody so much in my life. It was a love I had and eventually, a love I lost. And after I lost her, I’ve never hated myself so much. I was so disgusted with my stupidity and felt so pathetic, I couldn’t even look at myself in the mirror. It was everything I ever wanted and it was my fault that I lost it.

“Please… let me go back. Let me go back one more time…..  I’ll do it right, I’ll do it right this time….. I’m sorry, Penny. I’ll change it… I’ll change it…”

-Desmond Hume, LOST (Flashes Before Your Eyes)

Now after many months and a sometimes very lonely journey, I’m healing. I’m not quite all the way there yet but I’m close, closer than I’ve ever been. I’m no longer jolted awake, clutching a pillow, desperately wishing it was her but instead I wake up gently with a smile on my face. No longer haunted by the memories flashing before my eyes. No longer focusing on blame but instead fixing my mistakes and seeking forgiveness instead. My heart is opening and eventually will be ready to love again.

I’ll be honest, I’m not good at letting go.  It’s tough for me because I am fiercely loyal and protective to those I care about.  I am the eternal Mr. Fix-it which can sometimes make me stubborn and hard-headed because giving up doesn’t get much practice in my vocabulary.  But in this instance, I must let go.  Not because I want to but because I need to.  I need to heal.  I need to move on.  I need inner peace.  I need to smile, laugh, and be happy.  I need to love life again.  And most important, I need to love myself again as much as I love Love.

I must let go.  It is time for me to let go.  I also realize that my last and probably biggest concession is that I must stop calling her Love.  After this post (I hope), I will no longer refer to her as Love anymore.  We are friends and I will refer to her as such.  For a long time, I thought for sure that this story ends with happily ever after but things don’t always work out that way.  Instead, I find myself needing to let go.

Dear Love,

You are amazing and I miss you so much.  Thank you for everything you are and everything you have done for me.  You have taught me so much about myself, love, and life.  Many things that  I will remember it for the rest of my life.  You truly changed my life.  I still love you so much and sometimes I wish I could hold you just one more time.  If I could go back and do it all over again, I would be sure to show you every single day how much I love you.  But if I can take solace in anything, it is this:

It started with a Perfect Kiss… And ended the same way.

Love Is So Amazing.

Thank you Love,

I Love You.

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LOST and Letting Go

I started this post about a month ago but it’s still something I want to write about and I think will be a good preface to my next post.  As you know, LOST is my favorite tv show and after 6 seasons, May 23 marked the final episode and the end of another chapter in my life.  I know it sounds strange to consider a mere tv show as a chapter in my life but LOST taught me so much about myself and made such a huge impact that it became a very real part of my life.  LOST and the triumphs, struggles, and personal growth of the characters truly captured my mind, heart, and spirit.  In many ways, LOST was the biggest constant in my life over the past 5 years.  In a fan tribute song I watched on YouTube, the singer said it best, “It’s just a show but it feels like losing a friend.”

While the original intent of this post was to share the many valuable lessons I took from this show (they are such integral parts of my life, I’m sure I’ll share them soon enough), I decided to share just one instead that was a central, recurring theme throughout the show and I think was wrapped up beautifully in the final episode which I have posted a short video below.  The theme was Letting Go.

For those who have never watch LOST, this scene is between the main character, Jack, and his father, Christian.  In the very first episode of this show, we learned that Christian had died and Jack was transporting the coffin and body back from Australia to Los Angeles for his father’s funeral.  Long story short, the plane crashes on a mysterious island, Jack becomes the leader of the survivors, and after much adventure, challenges, and heartbreak, eventually gives his life to save his friends.  During the final season, we are led to believe we are watching a parallel (ie. sideways) world in which we think “What if the plane never crashed?” However, as the the survivors unknowingly meet each other in this sideways world, they experience flashes of “island enlightenment” and all the memories come rushing back to them.  Jack is the toughest as he time and time again stubbornly refuses to accept these memories of struggle, leadership, failure, love and heartbreak, regrets, etc versus his seemingly perfect sideways life.  But eventually as his story comes full circle and he finds himself standing in the church for his father’s funeral, he is greeted by his father and finally remembers and accepts his past.  As Jack and Christian discuss in this scene, this sideways world was not “What if the plane didn’t crash?”… The plane did crash, they lived the life the were supposed to live, and this “world” was something they created so one day the people he cared for and loved the most could all be together again.

In many ways, Jack was a tortured soul.  Jack was a leader who always tried to do what was in the best interest of everyone.  Sometimes he succeeded and sometimes he failed.  He always wanted to be the best and stubbornly held tight to his belief that no matter what the problem, he could fix it.  He was equally loved and hated.  He saved many only to lose probably just as much.  He found the love of his life only to lose her.  He lived a life of many heroic moments but also many regrets.  He spent the majority of his life refusing to let go.

In the end, he finally stopped living in regret and embraced the life he had lived. He forgave himself and when he finally let go, he found himself surrounded by love.

I will miss you LOST.  You touched my heart and changed my life.  Thank you for all that you have given me.  I too will remember and let go. And if not in this one again, I will see you in another life.

Namaste.

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Where has the time gone?? Sorry it’s been awhile since my last post but I feel like I have been truly living my yoga.  I tried multiple times to write but the words just weren’t ready yet.  I needed to internalize and let the experience simmer for a few days so I could truly appreciate it.  Now I feel ready to share! 🙂

One of the biggest things happening in my life is today is the completion of my 7 day juice fast.  My diet consisted only of all-natural juices, water, and senna tea (to flush out my system of toxins).  This was the first time I’ve ever fasted (for any length of time) and I did it for 2 reasons: 1) To understand/change my bad eating habits and attachment to food, and 2) To detox and cleanse my body.  As I am less than 24 hours from completion, I have to say that this was an amazing, eye-opening experience for me. When I first decided that I was going to fast, my original plan was to consume only fruits, vegetables, and juice.  A few of my yoga instructors were just completing their juice fast but I didn’t think I was mentally, physically, or psychologically prepared to not eat (ie. chew) anything for a few days.  However, the first day of my fast, I was sitting at my table when my grandma placed a bowl of edamame (soy beans) in front of me.  A few minutes later I realized that I had unconsciously started eating it not because I was hungry but because it was in front of me.  That was my first wake-up call and decided to challenge myself to go the rest of the day with only juice and water.  To be honest, I was surpised how easy that first day went.  I rarely felt hungry and no feelings of weakness or being tired.  The next day went by much the same as did the next and I soon realized that yes, I could do a juice fast.  The hardest day of my fast happened on the 5th day.  That night I had a family dinner and having to sit around a table of food for the entire night was the first time I felt REALLY hungry.  I did feel guilty for not “participating” and I nearly succumbed during a moment of weakness but I am proud to say that I didn’t.  This was something I needed to do for me and I’m glad I stuck with it.  One of the unexpected benefits I experienced this week was this happiness and mental clarity I have felt all week.  I want to attribute it to the detox but whatever it was, I’ve just felt happier, more alive, and balanced.  Fellow yogi’s have even said they’ve noticed a change.  They said I looked “clear”.  Overall, I loved this juice fast and I’m so glad I did it! It has been such a huge learning experience for me and I’m looking forward to the healthy changes I will be making in my diet.

Another big thing in my life is a lesson a fellow yogi shared during satsang.  She shared the concept of “Living in Your Own Vibration”.  Our thoughts, actions, interests, values, friendships, emotions, etc. all contribute to our own unique vibration or frequency and it’s important for us to recognize and honor that.  Whenever we lose that vibration (ie. trying to please others, being in uncomfortable situations/surroundings, stressful environments, etc.) we will feel unbalanced.  We are most balanced, grounded, happy, content, and loved when we continuously live in our own vibration.  Once we learn to live in our own vibration, the next step is to become a frequency holder.  Can you go into less than ideal situations and still vibrate at your own frequency?  And the truth is that if you can vibrate and hold at your own frequency, you can help raise the frequency of other people or the entire room.  People will naturally attract and absorb your frequency.  This concept has been huge in my life because for a long time I wasn’t living in my own vibration.  I was so severely unbalanced because I was trying to be everything to everybody.   I was being the person everyone wanted me to be instead of what I needed to be.  I didn’t allow people to just accept me for me and it wreaked havoc on my life.  I lost some of the most important people and things in my life and it took a long time to start forgiving myself, fixing my mistakes, and not feel broken anymore.  As I have begun to live more and more in my own vibration, the Universe has begun to open itself back up.  I finally feel love pouring back into my life again and I feel blessed.

I have so much more to share with you but I think I will stop here for now.  I’m so excited and I should have a few more posts in the upcoming days.  Thank you for your support, I truly appreciate you.

Namaste.

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I Melt

A few days ago I was reading Yoga Beyond Belief and it mentions how sometimes emotional pain can be hidden within our physical body.  Have you ever been practicing an asana when you suddenly experience a flood of emotions that can suddenly overtake you?  Sometimes joy and happiness, other times sorrow and regret?  And most likely the particular asana that let out all these emotions had nothing to do with it.  I’ve had fellow yogis mention moments when they would feel like crying during class.

I’m a person that crying does not come easy to.  I’ll get sad, maybe shed a tear or two but never cry.  I found myself in that situation yesterday.  Had lunch with a close friend and told her a little bit about my current struggles and challenges.  She has no idea about Love and myself and as much as I want to tell her, I’m trying to stay silent and let it go.  However, she inadvertently shared something about Love that made me happy but also very sad.  It was a very innocent comment and something deep down I think I already knew but that didn’t make hearing it out loud any easier.  I want Love to be happy.  I want her to have everything life has to offer.  I want her to live the life she’s meant to live.  But it’s also tough knowing that I’m not a part of that anymore.  It’s tough knowing that I’m not that person for her anymore.  She’s happy and while a part of me is very happy for her, another part still gets sad for me.  Time is helping to heal me but it’s been a slow process.

A few hours after this lunch, I went to yoga.  The comment my friend made was still on my mind which was frustrating but I was doing a fairly good job refocusing on our asana’s whenever it would pop back up.  Around the middle of class we were practicing Pigeon Pose.  We would practice it upright and then bring it down into a forward fold.  As we laid there, I was working on bringing my outer hip down and level with the other side.  Doing this helps with proper alignment but also intensifies the stretch in that outer hip.  But I knew that if I can quiet my mind and take deep breaths, eventually the pain would release.  And release it did… except it wasn’t just my hip that released, it was the emotional pain I was holding in.  It caught me so completely by surprise that I’m sure I shed a tear or two before holding the rest in.  For a second I was ready to pick up my mat and walk out of class but I knew that would have done me no good.  Throughout this whole ordeal, yoga has been my constant, my salvation.  Walking out of class would only make me feel worse later.  I stayed and even though it was a little tough, I also enjoyed it and was glad I stayed.

Later that night I was working on my computer while listening to some music.  On my playlist I saw a song that I really like but it also holds a lot of sentimental value.  The song is the same title as this blog post, I Melt by Rascal Flatts.  I hesitated for a second but decided to play it.  I couldn’t finish it.  All that emotion that was ready to release in class came rushing back up again.  The frustrating thing though is that I can’t seem to let it out.  It’s like I’m filling a cup with boiling water but it always seems to stop right before overflowing.  I’ve been able to let the thoughts go but I can’t seem to get the emotion out… Does that make sense?  My emotions want to let it out, release, cry, etc but my body (and mind) doesn’t know how.  Eventually that time will come and I hope that when it does, I will readily accept and welcome it.

As I finish this post, I will leave you with the song I mentioned, I Melt by Rascal Flatts.  It is such a beautiful song that holds a lot of meaning to me.  Please enjoy.

Love Is So Amazing.

Namaste.

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