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I HAVE COMPASSION

17 Mar

Our farm is growing and our baby chickens are not so little any more. In the spirit of keeping it real, and always be telling the truth (ABTTT) I am not a huge fan of the chickens, I love their eggs, but they are kinda stinky little things. My sweet Blaise doesn’t think they stink, in fact he loves them as if they were his babies, that’s what he calls them, “My pretty babies.” He has compassion and caring actions for all creatures, even gross bugs.

Compassion has been on my mind a ton lately. I can’t stop thinking about compassion, finding it, keeping it, and putting it in to practice. In my mini workshop last week I told the women there to find compassion for themselves. I asked them, “Would you turn to your best friend and tell her that she is fat or ugly?” Of course we wouldn’t, but we find it completely ok to say those things to ourselves. I think this is where I am not congruent in my life, not lately. I am compassionate, I do have compassion for all others in my life, but struggle to put that practice to use on myself.

My family and I have a truly magical relationship. They are  always there to inspire me, but also there to always call me on my shit. More times than I can remember they have told me, “I am always looking for a reason to make myself feel bad.” Sadly, it’s true. I am  tired of this, I have outgrown this conversation.

I found myself today thinking of all the reasons why my yoga studio is growing slowly. I started thinking of the countless laundry list of things that were “wrong” with me. I am done with all of this, it means nothing and does nothing to improve any situation. I think if it doesn’t inspire, support or better the situation I will not speak those thoughts out loud. It all boils down to the fear of what will people find out about me? What is it that I am afraid people will see if I truly reveal myself? This is a heavy load to carry around all day, every day.

I have decided that I am going to practice loving compassion in every single morsel of my life. I am going to work on connecting the mind-body connection in my life. I am going to heal my body by healing my spirit and working on connecting the bridge between the two.

I have decided to work on completely “greening” my diet and clean out my insides. Finding balance with my inner workings and creating clarity in my spirit. I am going to practice compassion and ease into this as a life long change. I am truly excited to see what unfolds for me when I find peace with my physical and spirit self.

I am re-reading my “Eastern Body Western Mind” book. I am digging back down into my own personal chakra healing. Starting from the bottom and working up. I am ready to tear down some serious walls and dirt. I think of it like annual spring cleaning.

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Connections, Connecting, Connector

23 Feb

It feels like a Sunday morning, it’s not, it’s Saturday. Typical Saturdays at our house are so hectic, I should be out the door for karate now, not sitting and watching tv and drinking coffee. I was meant to be here, on my big plush green microfiber sofa. I was meant to sit and sip my coffee out of my new coffee mug, the one my mom bought me that reads, “Life is Good.”

I love Oprah. I really love Oprah. I cried when her show ended. I was elated to find her having her own network, The OWN network. I love it to the umpteenth degree. I have a new favorite show called, “The Trouble Next Door.” Here is the premise. A family in the neighborhood is in some type of crisis, desperate and running low on options. They call a neighborhood meeting and the family, who most don’t know, ask all of the neighborhood for help. Tons of neighbors show up to the meeting to meet this family in peril, they show up and take it on all the way.

This episode is serendipitous. This single mother has 5 children, one who is severely autistic, and one with major behavioral issues. Oh my heart beats for her. I feel like our hearts are connected. I don’t know her, she most certainly doesn’t know me, but I wish we could. Hey, this family is from just here in the Atlanta area, it could happen.

This mother is drained, she is sad, she is desperate, all emotions I have felt often. As the episode moves forward you see these connections building. They start out small, maybe like a flimsy wood suspension bridge, but then they build. Now they are the Golden Gate bridge. Miracles happen everyday, you have to ask for them. My heart is pounding as I see the courage it took for this mother to reach out to these stranger and just ask for HELP.

What changes will take place in her life? Has the course of her life been altered forever because she chose to connect, get connected, be a connector. It is powerful.

When Blaise was first diagnosed with Prader Willi Syndrome I was defeated. I was lost, angry, and hopeless. That never stopped me before in my life, why would I go there now. I got on the phone and started making connections. In 24 hours I was on the phone with two PWS families.That was nothing compared to meeting the Georgia chapter of PWS USA. I was so nervous that day. My stomach was way down by my feet. I felt the earth giving in underneath me with each step. I just kept telling myself, “put one foot in front of the other, keep walking, keep breathing.” I was completely unprepared for what was to follow. It was family, it was connection instantly, it was a group of people who genuinely looked in my eyes and let me know, “we are connected, you are one of us now, we have your back.”

I look back on that day over 3 years ago. Life changing and eye-opening. It was a day full of promise for me, a day filled with opportunity and hope that my boy would be part of something in his life.

My writing has brought me connections that would other wise never have appeared. I feel a sense of utter calm when I am in a room full of connected souls. That is what we all want. We want to feel connected. We want connections. We want to know:

WE ARE NOT ALONE, YOU AREN’T!

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Connections provide that safety net, that harness that holds you up in a ropes course. When I was 20 years old I did such a ropes course. I had to climb to the top of a tree, I don’t know it was like 80 feet high, probably not but it was really high. I had to then climb on a disc placed at the top of such tree, and jump. Oh, I had to jump and catch a trapeze. When I got to the top of the tree I could make it on the disc. My stomach was churning. I am getting nervous just thinking of that day, that moment in time. I remember yelling down, “I am going to throw up on all of you.” A voice came from down below, it was a friend I had made named Eliza. I could barely make out her words at first, she kept repeating them. “We are here for you, you can do this, we are all doing this together, keep going.” I don’t know but I just gave one big push and up I went. I said, “shit Rachel, I can’t believe this.” and then I jumped. I screamed as I leapt through the air, but I knew the 20 folks on the ground were there for me.

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In your dark night of the soul, or your brightest day of light sending, find your connections. Be a connector. I have this feeling crawling up inside of me. It is creeping up through my restless legs at night, it is finding a home in my belly, it is finding its way up to my heart. This is what i want to do. I want to make connections, keep connecting, and be a CONNECTOR.

Have you connected your soul to another yet? I say go out and make connections. Facebook connections are great, but make those real face to face connections. Get out there. Make plans with your friends even when your tired. Call up your friends on the phone, instead of texting. Make genuine and authentic connections, and then sit back and watch what unfolds for you.

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You could reach down in your soul and find more than enough things to connect with. I look at my own life and realize I am full of connections waiting to happen.

I am connected to Special Needs Families

I am connected to recovering addicts

I am connected to the Jewish community

I am connected to people from Philadelphia

I am connected to people who love the Bay area in California

I am connected to people who lost their parents too young

I am connected to those who love yoga.

I could go on forever. Sometimes I pick and choose which connection I want that day. Sometimes it is more than one. All the time I know that they are there and waiting to bust out.

Are you a connector or are you searching for connections? Share below

 

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Tiny Beautiful Things

18 Feb

It was so cold today. The sun was shining but the wind  and the air were bitter. My fatigue had set in deeply. My bones felt weak and the cold air felt as if my body was thrust into an ice bath. The burning that comes before your body parts eventually go numb. I drove home from teaching tonight with my seat warmer on and the heat on full blast. I had no need for music as I drove home. I was craving complete silence. I could only hear the wind as it rushed past my windows on the outside of my car.

My thoughts are heavy tonight, shackles weighing me down. I keep thinking I love what I do. I love teaching yoga. I love being a mom. I love writing my blog. I love so many things, but… I feel like I haven’t found my dharma yet. Is there some magical feeling that takes over when you know you have found your dharma? Is there a true physical feeling that comes over your body when you know you are doing the right thing in your life?

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I couldn’t stop thinking I am 35 and I still haven’t found my calling, I don’t think. Is it supposed to look a certain way? Oh I wish for the answers. I had this conversation running around inside my head driving home t through the black cold night.

I needed to clear my head so I picked up one of my new favorite books. “Tiny Beautiful Things” by Cheryl Strayed. An amazing book, written in question and answer. The questions are written to Dear Sugar( she is sort of like Dear Abby, but more fascinating). A truly brilliant read. I opened up a page and couldn’t believe what I was reading. A 26-year-old girl, a writer, had written her Dear Sugar letter about exactly what I am going through. A feeling of despair, a feeling of why hasn’t this happened yet,  a feeling of did I make the right choices in my life? There are no accidents, I opened this book up right when I meant to. I opened the book up right to that page. It was clearly calling me.

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Sugar responded to this young and despondent 26-year-old writer with beautiful prose. My soul understood exactly what she was saying, even though she wasn’t saying it to me. Sugar writes, although she herself had grandiose plans  that hadn’t come to fruition at a young age. Sugar writes, it took a plethora of things to take place before her first major piece of work. Things had to happen before it was to come out of her soul. She had a life to live, relationships to have, sentences to write that would go absolutely now where, and so on and so on.

Is this where I am now? Working on sentences that are going nowhere. Am I working on relationships that are just the building blocks for what is to be my grandiose final calling in life?

At the yoga retreat in Boston my sister asked a question to the room  full of 35 people. She asked, “what is possible for you?” I was assisting that weekend so I chose not to partake in the excercise. Now I want to answer.

It is possible for me to stay consistent. It is possible for me start something and  finish it. It is possible for me to find my calling and know it  in my soul.

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It is so easy to get wrapped up in the lives around you. The lives of your friends, your family, your neighbors. They can easily seem to have so much, to have  a sense of love and contentment in their lives, something that you easily feel is missing. It is much harder to just send those people love and turn that attention on your own soul.

I want to find my dharma and sit with it. I want my dharma to feel like a bean bag chair. I want to sit in that bean bag chair with the feeling that you can’t or don’t want to get up.

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Hide and Seek

13 Feb

The boat ride leaving the yoga retreat in Mexico lasted a lifetime. I watched as the palapa’s in the mountain became smaller and more difficult to make out. The tops of the mountains began to disappear into the clouds. I felt the wind whipping across my face and into my eyes as they grew heavy with sadness. It was a life changing experience for me. It felt like my own tiny piece of heaven, I wasn’t ready to come back down to earth yet. I left with two temporary tattoos on my arm, one of them read: COURAGE.

My sticky note from Mexico reads:

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I came back home and that tattoo stayed on my inner arm for almost a week. When the letters started to fade, when they started to peel off my skin, I felt a sense of loss. What was the next thing I needed to do? What could I do to get them back? The only obvious choice for me was to get the real thing done. I called up my tattoo artist and said I am coming back in, I just been in a few months earlier for a large piece on my shoulder. I had a beautiful cherry blossom and the jewish symbol CHAI placed on my right shoulder. Symbolizing for me new beginnings and embracing all the best that my life has to offer.  I wanted the word COURAGE tattooed on my right wrist. I wanted it facing me. I want to see those words blaring at me when ever I use my hand. I want a constant reminder of what is possible for me. Oh and by the way put a heart and a dove with it. Let’ s add some love and hope with that courage.

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A year has passed since that tattoo needle pierced my skin and forever imprinted my courage. I found my courage in a myriad of places in the past 365 days. I found most times when I never even thought it was there. A year has passed, another long year. Another year full of opportunity to rise up with my courage.

Time makes things dwindle. Too much time can suck the inspiration out of you. With each day passing your courage can get eaten by its evil twins fear and doubt. At times I am playing hide and seek with my courage. It’s mine,  I am frustrated that I can’t find it. Where did you go? Why do you allude me, why when I need you most?

Here is a quote from Brene Brown. When I read her words it hit me like the slap in my face from my mother when I was 15. I had pushed her to the limit, there was anywhere left for her to go. It was eye-opening and life altering. I had to make a shift. I had to weave my courage into every thing that I was.

The root of the word courage is cor—the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage literally had a very different definition than it does today. Courage originally meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has actually changed, and today, courage is synonymous with being heroic or performing brave deeds

I have fallen of course just slightly. I had temporarily lost my courage. It takes practice for me to keep it so close to my heart. I struggle with consistency like that. My courage is calling me. I believe in the motto ‘Fake it till you make it’ but, I don’t want to fake it anymore. I desire the freedom that comes with speaking ones mind and telling ones heart. I long for that full and total expression of joy that comes with owning up to who you are and what you stand for.

I am peeking over the edge now. Lately I have noticed hints of that courage popping up in my life. I want to turn those hints into full-blown courage attacks.

Attacks of massive courage that take complete control over my soul.

Are you ready for your courage attack?

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The Animal Planet

24 Oct

Have you lost your wonder?

I sit and watch my 3-year-old watch his favorite television show. It is a show all about nature on the Animal Planet network. He is in such wonder at all the information he sees. He listens with such intent at every morsel of science and nature coming his way. Tomorrow as we go about our day he will recall all the material he learned a day earlier. He is a little sponge.

I watch my son and think to myself, “Have I lost my wonder?” If so, when did I lose it? I would like to think that I am still in wonder of the many amazing things that surround me, there is always room to have more.

Be Awe. Be Wonder  – Jennifer Pastiloff

This past weekend I spent 48 hours in Ojai Valley, California. I was there assisting my sister on her Manifestation Yoga retreat. It was amazing! I was definitely in wonder of my surroundings, the people, and the energy.

(the view of the pool and valley at Casa Barranca in Ojai Valley, California)

Then real life happens.

Upon returning home yesterday I found that I had lost my steam. I felt deflated. I was missing my wonder. As I put my head down for sleep last night I asked myself a question. “How can I be in wonder in real life? How can I be in wonder when I am doing laundry or washing the dishes? Wonder is one of the beautiful things that look different for all of us. It is not quantifiable or measurable, it just is.

I feel wonder when I stop focusing on myself.

 I spent the morning today surrounded by 3 year olds at my youngest son’s preschool. We sang, danced, painted, and played. It is hard not to feel wonder in the presence of smiling and laughing children. I truly had so much fun. They are so full of pride and joy. They experience wonder at least a dozen times an hour.

I am in wonder of the body that moves me.

I am in wonder of my children.

I am in wonder of the amazing weather today.

I am in wonder of the delicious food on my table.

I am in wonder of the curiosity of my dogs.

I am in wonder of the love of new friends.

What is your wonder today?

 

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Is it Right?

11 Oct

English: This is a photograph I personally too...

When I went with my sister and saw Wayne Dyer speak in Atlanta is was magical. Wow, is really all that I can say. The energy in that room was electrifying. Dr. Dyer spoke about the book he had just released entitled ‘Wishes Fulfilled’ and he spoke about many of the main points of his message in the book. The following point really stuck with me.

It must feel natural to you. You have to be able to say to yourself ” Even if I don’t know how to do it, even if I have no experience, even if everyone has told me I can’t do it, my wish fulfilled feels natural to me!”

Last night as I drove to work and waited, nobody came. It was the first time in a month that I didn’t have at least one student. It does make you feel a bit defeated. As I drove home I began to feel a flurry of emotions. Things that caused me to really dig deep within myself to find the answers.

Does this feel natural to me? Is this right for me? Am I a fraud, a phony? 

Am I really meant to be a yoga teacher, a leader, a connector?

So how do you know when it’s right? Is there a magic formula for equating the “rightness” of something?

I suspect not but I do know a few things:

1. Is an old conversation you have about yourself  preventing you from feeling comfortable in your life? If so, what would happen if you took away that conversation and replaced it with one that serves you better?

2. Are you living your dream and not the dream that others have decided for you? If you are living your dream then give yourself some time and you will slip into your skin soon enough.

3. Fake it till you make it. If you love what you do but still feel a bit unsure of yourself then ‘Fake it till you make it.’ Wing it as they say. Eventually all the pieces will fall into place.

I thought about all the above things in relation to my situation. Here is what I cam up with.

I realized quickly that my ‘old and bothersome’ old conversations about myself are butting in and interfering with my ‘rightness’.

Old conversations like, “I am not good at this. I haven’t been doing yoga long enough. People are going to find out I am a fraud. I don’t know what I am doing. I am not as good as others, blah..blah…blah…”

I am not special we all do this, some to a deeper degree than others. 

Wanting to be at point Z before barely leaving point A. Yet another behavior that many of fall into. It’s a trap. Of course it doesn’t feel completely ‘right’ yet. I am barely beginning. I am a rookie. It is like a pair of leather pants that are brand new and never worn, it is going to take some time for them to fit all my curves and melt into my body just the way I want them to. It is going to take time for me to find my voice, to find my way of teaching, leading, and connecting.

I am a lover of yoga. I am a writer. I am a connector and sometimes I feel not quite right in my own shoes. 

Can you relate?

“Watch your thoughts, for they become words.  Watch your words, for they become actions.  Watch your actions, for they become habits. Watch your habits, for they become character. Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.” – Unknown

A Little Heartbreak

15 Sep

I drove into my studio today thinking I would definitely have students for my Saturday class. I thought for sure that my client from last week would be waiting for me in the parking lot. We had a great session together and she seemed really happy. However, as I pulled into the lot I had a feeling that I would be all alone today. When you show up and there is nobody there waiting to take your class, well it definitely tears at your soul a little.

What inevitably happens is that I immediately begin to question my abilities, my worth, and my being in general. I start to immediately think that, “I must have done something wrong for them not to come back.” “I must have scared them away.” ” I am never going to make this work.” “What was I thinking, this is crazy.” “I just want to run for the hills.”

So I have all these feelings and the fluttering in your heart when you are sad and want to cry. I take a moment and decide that I need to leave the building and get in my car. I get in my car and do what I always do, I crank up the tunes and sing. Not long after I commenced with my own private AMERICAN IDOL routine do I realize that my useless conversation from the moments before had left me. Of course I still felt disappointed and not as peppy as I was in the wee hours of the morning, but I wasn’t completely defeated.

Instead I decided to run around town and give out my business cards to everybody I met and knew. I decided to create a special for the first six months of business as an incentive for new clients. I felt better being pro-active and being full of self-pity.

I have experienced many emotions over the last few weeks since my studio opened. Mostly they are related to being scared and doubtful of myself. When situations like this arise in my life I feel sometimes like it is a self fulling prophecy.

I made a promise to myself this morning that I was going to do everything in my power to fight that “old version” of me, to fight the “version of me that lives in fear.” I am not there yet 100% but I am working on it. It is so hard when you are in a vulnerable state to stand up to that nasty little voice inside you that wants you to be small and fearful of the life.

Days like today really force me to examine where I am on my journey of self discovery.

So there it is folks, I said it. I am scared, self-conscious, heartbroken at times, and fighting a battle with myself, to stand tall in spite of the winds that want to knock me over.

That is the nitty-gritty truth.

Namaste-

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