The Places That Scare You

September 30, 2013

October’s Yoga Book Club selection is The Places That Scare You by Pema Chodron.  Please note, that due to a scheduling conflict we have moved the date of book club up by one week.  We will be meeting at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at the Sacred Thread Ashram.  This book club is open to all; feel free to join us!

 

We always have a choice, Pema Chödrön teaches: We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us and make us increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder. Here Pema provides the tools to deal with the problems and difficulties that life throws our way. This wisdom is always available to us, she teaches, but we usually block it with habitual patterns rooted in fear. Beyond that fear lies a state of openheartedness and tenderness. This book teaches us how to awaken our basic goodness and connect with others, to accept ourselves and others complete with faults and imperfections, and to stay in the present moment by seeing through the strategies of ego that cause us to resist life as it is.

Scarcity

September 30, 2013

For me and for many of us, our first waking thought of the day is “I didn’t get enough sleep.” The next one is “I don’t have enough time.” … We spend most of the hours and days of our lives hearing, explaining, complaining, or worrying about what we don’t have enough of…  We don’t have enough exercise.  We don’t have enough work.  We don’t have enough profits.  We don’t have enough weekends.  Of course, we don’t have enough money – ever.

We’re not thin enough, we’re not smart enough, we’re not pretty enough or fit enough or educated or successful enough, or rich enough – ever.  Before we sit up in bed, before our feet touch the floor, we’re already inadequate, already behind, already losing, already lacking something.

This excerpt, from The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist, speaks truth, doesn’t it?  When I read this I literally pulled out a pen and wrote “WOW” next to those paragraphs.

Today, I’ve spent most of the day trying to have a day off.  All weekend, I was assisting in a training that was incredibly fun but also incredibly tiring.  Rightfully so, I felt as though I deserved a day off.  Normally, on Mondays I teach 2 privates; sadly, one of those clients has just moved to L.A. and the other client had a conflict today and needed to reschedule.  Equally Normal, on Mondays, I have a list a mile long of to dos like “check email,” “update website,” etc. etc.  But today, I didn’t set an alarm.  I woke up around 9 and sat on my front porch with the coffee and the paper.  Sounds awesome, right?  Except the entire time I was “reading” I was actually making lists in my head of things to be done.  I need to book another private client to replace the one I’ve lost.  I need to start reading this month’s Yoga Book Club selection.  I need to pay the American Express bill.  And then, HOW am I going to pay the American Express bill….

So, I put down the paper, picked up the computer and started responding to emails.  I added more to my to do list.  I snapped at my husband.  I tried to let go and take a nap only to get back up because it felt too decadent to take a nap. Who has time for naps? Finally, in a fit of frustration, I rolled out my mat and committed to a 20 minute practice to help clear my head.  I ended up practicing for a little over an hour, and then I sat down to reflect on what I’d like to share in my classes this week.  Something about Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book and her TED talk? No. Something from this weekend’s training? How many times have I done that already?! No.

Nothing resonated until I picked up this book and read the paragraphs above.  Wow.  There was my day staring back at me from these pages.  While telling myself I was going to enjoy a day off, instead I spent the majority of the day worrying about not having enough time, clients or money.  None of which is actually true.  So, what is the solution?  How can we clear our heads and hearts from this auto-pilot thinking that we don’t have enough?

Twist suggests the following:

We each have the choice in any setting to step back and let go of the mind-set scarcity.  Once we let go of scarcity, we discover the surprising truth of sufficiency.  By sufficiency, I don’t mean a quantity of anything.  Sufficiency isn’t two steps up from poverty or one step short of abundance… Sufficiency isn’t an amount at all.  It is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough, and that we are enough.

Now, I get that just believing in sufficiency or believing in abundance can seem a little woo-woo, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “I only have time for a 20 minute practice today,” and then ended up practicing for 60 minutes. Or 90 minutes.  Somehow, by giving myself the space to do what is needed (for me, I always need to practice) I still magically have enough time to get done the other thing that need to be accomplished for the day.  I don’t practice in lieu of doing something else on my to do list.  I practice and then I tackle those never-ending bullets on my lists.  And somehow, some way, it all gets done.  Sufficiently.

After wasting my morning in a scarcity panic, I enjoyed a practice and walk (truly decadent), I read most of the paper (actually read it this time), and planned out my classes for the week.  Now, I’m taking the rest of the evening off to enjoy a glass of red wine and the crossword puzzle.  Totally sufficient.

Talking to Myself

September 23, 2013

Last night, while driving to the studio to teach a class, I was stopped at a red light waiting to turn right on to Peachtree St.  As I waited, I watched a very old woman with a walker and grocery bags cross over Peachtree against the light.  With traffic whizzing by her, my heart almost stopped as I watched petrified she would get hit by a car.  It was clear to anyone who was watching that this woman was confused; no one would walk out in traffic the way she did.  Happily, cars in most lanes came to a stop to block traffic and let her cross. Except for one car who furiously cut out from behind these stopped cars, blew by this woman and honked his horn at her.

Now, my gut reaction and I’m sure most of our reactions was to think, “what a horrible jerk.”  But, recently I’ve been diving into the work of compassion, and compassion, like everything else, is only available to us if we practice it on ourselves.  We can only be as compassionate, kind, loving to others as we are to ourselves.  If someone has so little concern for the well-being of a clearly confused elderly woman, imagine how hurtful s/he must be to her/himself.  It makes you pause before throwing out words like, “what a horrible jerk.”

So this week, I’m inviting you to join me in self-love.  The most self-love you can possibly muster.  Notice what you say to yourself all day long.  Write it down in a journal; give your internal voice an external one just for a moment, and then practice turing those thoughts & words around.  Support yourself, be your own cheerleader and treat yourself with the kindness that you deserve.  Being a compassionate, loving person starts within.

Great Enough

September 9, 2013

“There is a crack in everything.  That’s how the light gets in.” ~Leonard Cohen

This weekend, I had the privilege of being witness to 24 incredible yogis stepping out of their comfort zones and teaching their first yoga classes.   They all did phenomenal.  Like, seriously wonderful.  But, what I really want to talk about is the pre-class moments, the nervous flipping through notes, last minute changes to the plan, the feelings of doubt and fear…  As a seriously committed perfectionist, I saw perfectionist tendencies practically dripping off the walls.  It takes one to know one.  And here is the truth, we are ALL perfectionist.  Maybe not to the same degree, but along a spectrum, we all find ourselves with some degree of the Please-Perform-Perfect syndrome.

There is this mis-guided belief that if we are perfect enough, we won’t feel shamed, judged or blamed.  Why do we do this to ourselves? How unfair to put such a huge amount of pressure on ourselves to avoid feelings that are realities of the human experience.

 

Pinterest gives us the greatest quotes sometimes….

To be clear, perfectionism is NOT the same thing as striving to do your best.  It is not healthy achievement and growth.  According to Brené Brown, “perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around thinking it will protect us when, in fact, it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from taking flight.”  What do we miss in life by being afraid to put down our shields?  You know that slightly sweaty, tight-stomached feeling you get before you do something that feels risky?  What if we were able to be comfortable with that feeling?

What if we developed the tools to acknowledge our vulnerabilities to shame, judgement and blame and practiced self-compassion instead? What if we could be loving and compassionate enough that we swallowed the lump in our throats, wiped the sweat from our upper lips, and did the thing that scares us most?  What if when we were finished, we smiled and said that was Great Enough?  I saw 24 yogis do Great Enough this weekend, and this week, I’m attempting to set aside my perfectionist habits and instead trusting that it is all Great Enough.  What would that look like/feel like for you?

 

Red Hot & Holy

August 28, 2013

September’s Yoga Book Club is hot, hot, hot.  We are reading Red Hot & Holy by Sera Beak.  Pick up a copy and join us on Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 8 p.m. at the Sacred Thread Ashram for what I’m sure will be a smoking hot discussion.

Editorial Review:

When one person dares to speak her truth, it challenges us all to live our own. With Red Hot and Holy, Sera Beak offers a provocative and intimate view of what it means to get up close and personal with the divine in modern times.

With a rare combination of audacious wit, scholarly acumen, and tender vulnerability-vibrantly mixed with red wine, rock songs, tattoos, and erotic encounters-Sera candidly chronicles the highs and lows of her mystical journey. From the innocence of her childhood crush on God; through a whirlwind of torrid liaisons and bitter break-ups with Christianity, Buddhism, Sufism, Hinduism, and the New Age; and finally into committed monogamy with her own red hot and holy Goddess, Sera shares transformative insights, encouraging us all to trust our unique path and ignite our own spiritual love affair.

Sera Beak’s luscious writing and renegade spiritual wisdom that slices through religious and new age dogma made her debut book The Red Book a breakout success. With Red Hot & Holy she offers a far more personal book- an illuminating, hilarious, and above all utterly honest portrait of the heart-opening process of mystical realization. This hot and holy book invites you to embrace your soul, unleash your true Self, and burn, baby, burn with divine love.

It’s All A Practice

August 26, 2013

I keep reading books that require me to work.  I want so badly to pick up a fluffy little novel and read without thinking or feeling the need to highlight every other sentence… But, for some reason, the books that stack up on my nightstand are the books of practice.

I shouldn’t be surprised; I’ve always picked practice.  I love to work, to learn in whatever ways life allows.  Most often, this practice shows up on my yoga mat.  If you are reading this blog post, I’m guessing you unroll your mat on occasion too.  Regardless of whether our goals on the mat involve finally balancing in Flying Pigeon or more deeply understanding ourselves, the work is a PRACTICE.  We have to try, to study, to experiment and, sometimes, to fail.

When it is on the mat and our practice involves a physical pursuit, it seems likely to use the word – PRACTICE.  But, when we start to talk about some of the larger things we’d like to cultivate in our lives: courage, compassion, connection – the word PRACTICE isn’t used as frequently.  Why?  Why do we expect ourselves to “just be” courageous or compassionate?  As if those mighty words were easy feats to accomplish.

The book that has been the most recent victim of my highlighter is Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection, and I love it.  I love it not because the writing is brilliant or I’m reading ideas that I’ve never read before; I love it because she takes huge concepts and defines them clearly and concisely, and perhaps best of all, she reminds us that we have to PRACTICE these concepts if we want to live authentically.

This week, I am practicing:

1. COURAGE: To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart

2. COMPASSION: To Suffer With

3. CONNECTION: The energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.

I’m also practicing Flying Pigeon.

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