Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

relax into it

i love, love how calm and festive dc gets right before a holiday. even a little trip to a hectic safeway on my way home from teaching reminded me that we are all in the same boat of wanting to celebrate a big happy thanksgiving. to me, it's the best holiday. it's centered around food, gratitude, and being with people you care about. while the later winter holidays always seem a bit divisive and crazymaking, thanksgiving is a uniter, an opportunity to get excited about the best parts of our culture even when when times seem tough.

it's also a super good time to reflect on what is working well in life! i've heard someone talk about worrying as asking for something you don't want. i think a gratitude practice is the opposite of that--asking for seconds on the things that make you happy. in an O magazine that came out not too long ago, oprah wrote about the importance of gratitude. she said she used to journal about her weight and men and when she realized could just as easily write about what she was grateful for it transformed everything.

i was thinking in the shower this morning (where i get most of my great connections) about how love and gratitude are really the same thing. we are fed and sustained by that which we value and which values us and the most we can ever give another is our total appreciation. as lovely as thanksgiving is, this time of year of being around family can be hard or hectic for some of us. my theory is that it's because we all want love so much and then show up to get it and get kinda vulnerable feeling and scared and we cover it up through being really busy or aloof or talking to me or whatever-your-family-members do to annoy you. i received some good advice a while back that as a yogi, i have to go first in what i offer out to the world. so on this fourth thursday of november, i offer the idea of relaxing into love and gratitude--even when it's really hard, because it's what we are all truly searching for and so so worth the effort.

i am grateful to and for you all! happy t-day!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Friday, November 18, 2011

two things that make me laugh...

are this picture of me and adam and this piece about guys at yoga.

so much good stuff is happening and i can't wait for the thanksgiving break for life to slow down so i can write it all down. in the meantime, enjoy the weekend!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Friday, November 4, 2011

fist vs palm

moby came to dc! he had this totally calm, quiet vibe about him.

lovely tricia at dean's backyard soiree

steve and jill got married with baxter by their side

Trust is necessary, because we can only let things happen if we believe that things will work out all right, that events and circumstances and things and situations come from a source that wants our good. We can open our hands and receive these things without the nagging fear that they are traps. The difference between this inner openness and a kind of nervous choosiness is the difference between an open hand and a clenched fist.
- David Steindl-Rast

four years ago, i had my tarot cards read. i didn't plan to do it but i was tired for a hard day at work (this was when i was figuring out that i really shouldn't be working in an office) and i had a half hour to kill before meeting a friend for dinner. i wandered into a bookstore and before i could stop myself, i was sitting across from a normal-looking lady shuffling a deck of cards. she started flipping them over and told me in no uncertain terms that i was clinging. i asked her what that meant and she had me make a fist with my hand. she told me that i was afraid of someone taking something from me so i was keeping it all closed up inside. as a result, i wasn't allowing anyone to get close to me or the good that wanted to come my way. my practice, as she explained it, was to keep my palm open, allowing things to come and go, allowing people to get to know me. i spent the rest of the night opening and closing my palm, trying to figure out if what she said had any real meaning.

as people who read this blog know, a lot has happened in these past four years. i started my own business, grounded my yoga practice, found incredible teachers and traveled around the world and in myself to learn more about how to live an more open, joyful life. for the most part it's worked beautifully. i can honestly say that i really enjoy my life and feel incredibly blessed by how many great people and opportunities come into my experience. yet there are still times i look down and find that i am gripping my palms so tightly my knuckles are turning white.

in yogic terms, we call this aparigraha. it essentially translates to non-hoarding and it usually used when referring to material possessions and i think it hits on the nerve of fear. from my experience, it seems like i least generous when i don't feel like i have enough. it's in my most fearful times that i start getting into a survivor mentality, trying to figure out how long that money i have saved will last if the shit really hits the fan.

and it also feels like a fear of my giving not be reciprocated. i learn this again and again living communally and sharing food. there are days when i feel like i am cooking and sharing way more than i receive. i'll get worked up and then have to laugh at myself the next week when i am way too busy too cook and am so grateful to eat what my roommates have cooked for dinner. again, it's my mind playing tricks on me.

i think this is all really understandable and probably has been essentially to my evolutionary successes, yet the times i have been brave enough to experiment with sharing what i have, i am always rewarded in some way. last week i was talking about the reluctance in letting go of my painting (i sold it at the art show!) and one of the other artists told me that his painting teacher always told him that he should make his work about getting as many paintings out into the world as possible. this artist had just finished a show where he had sold half of his work.

yet deeper than material possessions (although i think the material and the spiritual always connect), lately i've also been thinking about aparigraha in terms of hoarding our good emotions around each other. four years ago, i think what my card reader was referring to was my fear of sharing myself, my true joyful self, with the people around me. it was during a time when i wasn't sure that what was going on inside of me was worth sharing and as much as i didn't like feeling shy and withdrawn, i think there was a big element of self-protection in that. the problem with that is that it set up a really negative cycle. because i wasn't sharing who i was, i wasn't able to really connect with people around me and feel their positive emotions and because i couldn't connect, i even more wanted to hide my good stuff away.

the above quote really hits it for me. we have to trust enough in the complete cycle of giving and receiving in order to be brave enough to share something that feels really scary or vulnerable. once our good comes, we also have to trust enough it in to not sabotage it and actually enjoy what we are giving. it's not a perfect process and i believe that we need to start with small steps around people we care about us. trust is like a muscle, we need to use it continually to keep it strong.

once it gets going though...wow, it's so good. to me there is nothing more exciting than to feel like i am totally in the flow of my own life, giving all i have and receiving more than i ever thought possible. it's so good that when i am white-knuckled afraid and clinging that i again and again come back to my belief in the goodness i deserve and that next step toward letting go.