Mind scattering in a myriad of directions. Heart racing to a demanding beat. Confidence crumbling. Energy deteriorating. Worry and paranoia take over and you’ve suddenly puddled into a murky, slimey, pool of human consciousness. What began as a detail has escalated into a whirlwind of outrageous possibilities and you are blinded by the fear of what could go wrong.
“All day long I think of things but nothing seems to satisfy. Think I’ll lose my mind if I don’t find something to pacify. Can you help me occupy my brain?” Ozzy/Black Sabbath
Not an invalid consideration. Life twists and twirls us at times, like a marionette across a stage, we are at times flung to the furthest reaches of what we think we can handle. When we are in the depths of such despair we brood, we become anxious, we concentrate on that which can go wrong. And then things start to go wrong and we spiral out of any comprehension of positivity and the shit hits the fan. Most of us have been here. We know of the trials and tribulations of being stuck in a pattern of demise. Some of us get stuck in our heads so deeply all we see is a convoluted mess of the future. But! Worry is wasted imagination.
Our thoughts help create our reality. Not only in our perception of our companions on our journey and the events unveiling around us, but also in our moods and emotions that orbit our activities. Our thoughts influence our experiences.
Most of us are going to worry, and there is little we can do about completely letting go of the gnawing sense of dread. What we can do is shift worry into imagination. Shift the paranoia into something more productive. Shift it into the place of healthy intention. Create a mantra that resonates within you and fills you with calm. Color your thoughts with possible amazing outcomes, as surreal as they may seem, and excite your soul. Stop choosing to waste your precious time in that human suit by ruminating on the negative. Instead imagine your life the way you dream it to be, allow your beautiful mind to circulate around the amazing, and start living the life of your own design.
That word can really give some the weebeejeebees. Such small and delicate creatures and yet they send many of us into a widespread panic. Personally, I’ve never been overly scared of them, but haven’t not been scared either. (I’ve seen Arachnophobia though and that movie freaked me out.) I mean, those bulbous, brown-near-transluscent ones are not my favorite nor are the flat, close-to-the-grown brown/black ones that scurry around, fast and unpredictable. I never really minded Daddy Longlegs for whatever reason. 🙂 I could appreciate their webs catching insects and keeping areas cleaner in that regard. But I never had an affection for those brown and black beings that frequented my environments. Only loved the Fates. In Greek mythology, the Moirai—often known in English as the Fates—were the white-robed incarnations of destiny. There were three of them: Clotho (spinner), Lachesis (allotter) and Atropos (unturnable). They controlled the metaphorical thread of life of every mortal from birth to death. I even dressed up as Clotho one year for Halloween. Metaphor and reality are two different things though.
My beloved, however, is an animal and critter lover. We went to the Butterfly Pavilion to see the scorpions, the spiders, the butterflies, the chrysalis, and Rosie the tarantula. I had some trepidation about holding her, obviously. It’s one thing to see a spider and not yelp, quite another to purposely hold one. But, he told me that they removed her fangs to make sure she can’t bite anyone, but to keep it on the DL because they didn’t like to talk about it, PITA and all. So I stepped into line to hold her…if he said I was going to be fine, then I was going to be fine. And I was! Rosie was so gentle and tickled my palm. She was very still with me and just hung out on my hand. And I had this overwhelming feeling that I was communing with nature, a side I had yet to experience and appreciate. We put so much of our own human fears onto these species, thus transporting them out of their intriguing natures and into a realm of resistance and fear. As a result, many of us are blind to the genius and ingenuity of many spiders. Did you know some make trap doors to catch their preys or tunnels to get around? Many don’t even use their webs to catch their preys, they tackle their meal! Who knew? Not me 🙂
One day as I’m sitting behind my desk at work, my beloved sent me a picture of a baby blue spider. Yep, an electric-blue, fuzzy, little, baby spider. He sent me a pic of what she would look like all grown up…emerald body with pink and purple legs. I never knew spiders could be so pretty. And before I knew it, I was holding a little Avicularia Versicolor sling in my palm.
One of the things I get asked the most is about her (no, we don’t actually know if she’s a female yet) biting me. And my answer is one that I learned at a Arachnid exhibit we saw in New York.
Spiders work hard to develop their venom and when used, they have to create more. As a result, they don’t want to bite us. The size differences alone make spiders wary of us. We are huge beings to them and they aren’t trying to get close enough to us to bite us. They most likely know that their venom can’t affect us as we are not on their meal menu. Biting us would be an effort in futility. Spiders avoid us and would rather shit and run, or use their urticating hairs, than waste their venom on us.
There has to be a metaphor in that aspect of spiders too. Maybe it’s that there are some things about us that are too precious to give away freely. Perhaps that not everyone deserves our venom. The “pick your battles” adage comes to mind as well. They all ultimately come down to, be aware of where you exert your energy and that the quid matches quo. Some events, situations, people, etc. don’t warrant our attention and may in fact, be more detrimental and draining to ourselves than beneficial. “Precious and fragile things, need special handling,” Depeche Mode.
You are an intriguing, idiosyncratic being. Thrive in your unique flavor of venom. Exert your energy in ways that allow you to flourish as your amazing self and help you along your path. Bypass the futile. You are the only one living your journey. Revel in it 🙂
If you were asked to name all the things you love, how long would it be before you named yourself?
Things in my life have been happening in a quick succession. There have been a few really big shifts that drastically change life. Leaving the corporate world and entering the life of a gypsy with my beau (gypsy in relation to an almost-hermit that had a strict schedule, anyway) has changed so much of my day-to-day reality. My life has shifted and continues to evolve into this beautiful tapestry. It’s not perfect, it has holes, missed stitches, and the such. But it’s my life and I’ve loved watching the moments unfold.
But I’ve been watching, not participating. I’ve been keeping a safe enough distance around myself and remaining just under total excitement. Maybe I was scared of it all being ripped from me. Maybe I didn’t trust how phenomenal and amazing some aspects of my life were manifesting. Maybe I was nervous about ruining it all. Who knows.
But I suddenly found myself in San Diego for the night with my beloved on my right, an old friend from college on my left, a newer friend next to her, and a few soon-to-be friends a few rows behind. We were watching a band that I had been hearing about for over a decade casually, and intensely for the last few years. They are one of those bands about whom you hear of life-changing stories. They are powerful and brilliant. They provide a visual and auditory feast. The entire experience is gorgeous and engulfing.
Part way through the show, during the part where Alex Grey’s artwork syncs with the music in the most perfect of ways, my beloved leans over to me and whispers, “You know that guy (Alex Grey). You’ve had brunch with that guy. You’re performing Glowga & Gongs at CoSM (this home/visual artist sanctuary) this summer.” And I smiled, and said yes. Somehow, out of the thousands of fans in that auditorium, life-long and new…somehow it’s a true statement about me. And it’s unbelievable.
After that show, I felt uncomfortable. Something had shifted within and I didn’t know what, and am only just beginning to scratch the surface of the revolution that had occurred. But after much thinking, meditating, analyzing and the such, I had the thought that I was celebrating and enjoying the events in which I was participating, but I wasn’t celebrating myself as a participator/contributor in the events, or at least that’s the thought that I’m currently mulling over. It’s part being shy, part being socially awkward, part just being a wee bit mental. Analyzing and observing the moment doesn’t necessarily translate to experiencing the moment. Wondering what the best thing to say is isn’t the same thing as speaking. I’ve had all of these amazing experiences and I’ve either spent so much time observing or analyzing that I’ve missed out on some of the experiencing, mainly, the experiencing of myself. I can go deeper into the experience, draw it more into my being and integrate myself. I’m not even entirely sure what that means. And I’m sure it means something different to you than to me and all that jazz.
What I do know is this changed me…and that I have this thought in my head that I want to start celebrating being me.
Twirling round with this familiar parable
Spinning, weaving round each new experience
Recognize this as a holy gift and celebrate this chance to be alive and breathing
A chance to be alive and breathing
For the first week of January, I danced in the realms of intention and resolution. I looked at the definitions, I talked in class about them, began and ended each class with the Sankalpa Mudra and flowed with it throughout our asana practice. This exploration helped me realize how they both play an important role in our lives.
The thought with which I ended, suggests that Intention is the basis of our Resolution. To me, resolutions ended up being more of a to-do list. We see a problem and we resolve to fix it. They are the details of our life. But we have to know what the whole picture is to make sure the details are appropriate. We shouldn’t be drawing palm trees if our picture is of the desert. Aligning ourselves with our highest truth, connecting with our Dharma and walking the path of intention allows our to-do list to be acts that keep us on our path. If an aspect of my intention is to be an artist, then my resolutions need to reflect that by including art in my daily/weekly activities. In yoga, we set an intention at the beginning of class and sometimes it is soon usurped by thoughts about the postures, about the teacher, other students, how we look in our yoga clothes, and a plethora of other tangent thoughts. It’s during these times that coming back to intention is crucial. It allows us the opportunity to weed out the irrelevant and stay true on our course.
Ultimately, the union of our daily, “individual” energy and our eternal, “universal” energy allows us to vibrate at our highest frequency. This isn’t that easy, however. If we are lucky enough to have discovered our dharma, we may still be trying to alter our lifestyle in order to live it. And even then, shit happens and then shift happens. Using a mantra with the breath can help us quiet the distractions in order to get back to our essence.
The mantra, then, is a way to experience nonlocal consciousness. Aborigines, Indians, Native Americans, and many other traditional cultures have used it for thousands of years. In every tradition mantras involve chanting to create special vibrations, sounds of the universe that create something from nothingness, that move energy from the unmanifest into the manifest. Deepak Chopra
It’s a continual commitment to maintain an awareness of our intention. To help, there is the So Hum Mantra, recommended by Deepak Chopra for synchrodestiny. The So Hum Mantra helps us connect with pure consciousness and to tap into the space where we connect with the universal vibrations. We quiet our minds and listen only to our breath to release distractions and create a space where we can just be…we can just exist. No thoughts, no emotions, no desires, no expectations…just the So Hum of our breath and of our existence.
Listen to the audio version here.
Find a quiet space and a comfortable seat. Soften your quads and your hips. Make any movements you need to find comfort. Engage your core bringing your navel in toward your spine to support the lower back. Elongate through the spine, stacking each vertebral body on top of each other. Soften your shoulders back and down, chin is parallel with the floor. Bring your hands down to your lap, palms face up. Eyes are closed. Bring your attention to your breath. Listen to your cadence and the length of your inhales and the length of your exhales. Feel the breath as you inhale it in, expanding through the lungs, lifting the chest; and, feel the breath as you exhale it, drawing the chest and the core in toward the spine, as the air leaves your body. Listen to yourself for a few moments…feel your own vibrations. Listen as your inhale whispers So…..and your exhale murmurs Hum. So…Hum…Stay attuned to the So Hum until your breath quiets, and your mind quiets. If your mind starts to wander, no worries, just let go of the tangent and come back to your So…Hum…until you disappear into the space of pure vibrational consciousness and being.
Happy New Years 🙂
As we ring in 2016, we reflect on the past year and contemplate the future. We consider setting resolutions to help us achieve the idea we have of what we should be doing, who we should be, what we should look like, and what our future should entail. Take a moment to reflect…four days into the new year…what resolutions have crossed your mind?
Personally, I’ve had some of the same resolutions on my list that I’ve had for decades now. Year after year, I was staring at the same damn things in the same journal that has “Dear Diary” entries from the 90’s. It was frustrating and disappointing. Resolutions didn’t work for me and really only made me feel like a failure that I couldn’t achieve what I penned at the beginning of each year. So I let resolutions go. And it seemed that my life started to flourish in ways I didn’t imagine possible. I even started to integrate those past resolutions (now that they weren’t a glaring port of authority of what I should be doing) into my life and started to “achieve” them.
In yoga, we talk about intentions. And I believe that it is from this space that my life started to sync. Intentions has a different feel than resolutions. Compare the definitions:
Resolution is a solution to a conflict whereas intention is an aim or purpose. Resolution begins first with a problem. We see something in our lives we think is wrong or not good enough, and we resolve to change it. Intention guides us on our life path. It aligns us with the essence of our being and sets us on our dharmic course. Both have a place in our lives. For the times of tapping into our universal selves, and setting intentions, there is the Sankalpa Mudra.
San=connection with the highest truth
Sankalpa Mudra=Hand gesture of intention
Find a comfortable seat. Outstretch your arms so your elbows are parallel with your shoulders, wrists at a 90 degree, palms outstretched, facing up. Close your eyes and listen to your breath. Tap into the space of your life essence, set an intention and let it circulate in your palms.
Bring your left hand in front of your heart. In this mudra, this hand symbolizes bravery and strength. We bring the hand in front of our heart to merge with our anahata energies, to infuse our blood with these qualities. Pause for a few breaths to feel bravery and strength course through your veins.
Bring the left hand to the right knee, palm face up.
Bring the right hand, palm face down, above the left and let it hover above the left hand. This symbolizes the grounding and manifesting of the intention. Pause for a few moments to let your intention mingle with your strength and permeate the ether.
Bring the right hand to meet the left in a handshake fashion, sealing in your intention.
I’ve spent the morning deepening my relationship with my breath. I listened, I watched, I experimented, I balanced. I took in as much as it as I could and then deflated my lungs completely. I practiced sending it to various parts of my body to soothe, energize, heal. Breath is our unique rhythm, rhythm is a dancer, it’s our souls companion (yeah, I went there). What is the quality of your breath right now?
I was relaxing with my beloved the other night, just watching one of our snakes, when Indra, the piebald, started to talk to me and to show me an insight he had to share.
To me, snakes are gracefully strong creatures. They seem to be aware of every inch of their body as they maneuver through life. And Indra saw me, and started to move across his tank. It looks like such a dance of movements. If I were to relate it to the human body, I imagine it’s much like when we dance and we flow with our shoulders reaching out and exploring with our hands, and yet stabilize around and our hips, maybe they gyrate around, perhaps they are still, but they are our fulcrum as our feet root into the earth, providing a foundation upon which to move.
So he glides over to the side and looks up. And I absorb as I watch him position his body and then starts to reach up to the top. His muscle control was astounding (albeit quite natural to him) as he makes his way higher and higher, again, using only his strength. I can see the shifts in his lower body make some small movements, super small adjustments, to help him lift himself even higher.
I watched him, poised and beautiful, lift himself high. And then I saw him fall over. And I realized that what he had to show me, was that despite it all, no matter how high we lift ourselves, how aware we are, or how healthy and nurturing our choice are, we still sometimes find our edge and fall over.
Falling over didn’t even seem to make Indra flinch. It was like he gave it his all, saw what he needed to see, revealed what he needed to reveal, and that was enough. He wasn’t actually trying to touch the top (okay, maybe he was, I don’t really speak parcel tongue), but whatever he was going for, what he seemed to receive, was enough. He wasn’t upset he didn’t get all the way to the top, or that he didn’t stay there or what have you. He seemed quite content with the experience he had.
What a delightful feeling that must be…to give something your strength, your effort, your awareness, to discover your apex of ability in that unique moment, to fall, and to glide away content. Santosha, embraced.
I was enjoying a pleasant afternoon in my front yard with my mom, starting to shift the garden from summer to autumn…the autumnal equinox right around the corner. There were some gorgeous white flowers we were cutting back. I put a few of them aside so I could bring them inside and enjoy them for a bit longer. As I was putting them down I was drawn to the funky bug walking around on the white petals. It was kind of cute, actually, his hands were walking along the edge of the petal and reminded me of a praying mantis a bit. And the colors were those of Halloween. He had wings, but didn’t immediately used them as he careful grasped the petal and walked up and down the razors edge. His antenna fluttered around, sensing and learning about its surroundings. Eventually he flew off and left a bit of a smile behind on my face.
A little later as I was putting the flowers in a vase my mom had prepared for me, a lady bug emerged from the flowers. I had just had a lady bug experience on my yoga mat while I was teaching last week, and I immediately smiled at the luck of seeing this one too. I encouraged him onto my hand and brought him outside so he could join the garden. He walked around on my hand for a while, feeling the breeze and then spreading his wings, allowing himself to be lifted off and taken back to the earth.
And then a pincher bug (apparently called earwigs) emerged. These bugs have always freaked me out a bit. Their pinchers seem sharp and able to rip my face off. They’re fast and slinky-like, skuttering around and being all intimidating like. Definitely no roly poly. And my breath got caught in the back of my throat as I watched it trying to figure out how to get off the flower and attack me. And then I had a flashback of holding my beloved’s scorpion in my hand (no, it’s not a euphemism). They were intimidating, are still intimidating, little Isis and Osiris, but watching the curiosity of my beloved has given me new perspectives on these little creatures that aren’t actually out to attack us, despite how we may perceive them, they’re just trying to live. So I took a deep breath and allowed the little pincher bug to crawl onto my gloved hand and then I took him outside to the garden as well. I didn’t necessarily just let him wander on my hand, I was a bit more efficient about getting him onto a blade of grass. And I reflected for a moment on what had happened, and had the simple thought, he has a place in the garden too.
It was one of those moments that made me realize the respect I had developed for all of life. It made me happy to realize I would go to the same efforts to save a bug that scared me a bit as I would any other bug. I know, they were bugs. But I’d like to think that I treat humans similarly. Or at least that’s my goal.
It’s amazing how we forget that most of our lives mirror the decisions we make. It’s easy to get into a negative space and say, the world is against me. And it feels that way; but, somehow, I cannot believe that that is true. What I do think is true is that our lives are littered with distractions. And yes, distractions can have their place and time and can be exactly what we need. But at some point they become procrastination tools that deepen our sense of dread because we are avoiding that which needs our attention the most: ourselves. When we get stressed out, tired, angry, whatever your poison, why is it such a challenge to take care of ourselves? I get that happy hour is more exciting than cleaning (it even has the word happy in it so it immediately brightens our thoughts), and that writing blog posts are more entertaining than getting car lights fixed. And watching TV is easier than self-reflection. But at the end of the day, is it more important to have had a couple hours of fun or to remove obstacles?
It’s a balance. Sometimes it’s time to chose fun and other times it’s time to fucking take care of business.
So why the hesitation, why the resistance? Why is it so hard to attend to the nitty gritty in life? It can be a scary thing. I sometimes think it’s a fear of failure. But the older I get, the more I see how silly that is. How it’s not about failing, but about discovering. It’s about putting our energy in the places that serve us, grow us, transform us. It’s about knowing that sometimes our failures are our greatest teachers, and that they can be what help us discover our true path. But not doing the work, not putting our energy where our dreams and passions are, is the failure, the stagnation. I believe life is a dance with the universe…both are taking the steps in grace, and it involves twisting and turning and dipping. The universe is asking you to dance, it’s up to you if you say yes.
So again, it comes down to the decisions we make. It’s about how we address life when it gets a little wild. What are the decisions that you make and are they the ones that avoid the most amount of injury?
It’s been a while. I was even a little nervous. What was it going to be like? Was it going to be hard? Was I even going to be able to make it for the entire hour? I have this crick in my neck, my back is stiff, I’m not even sure if my hips remember what it’s like to be open. But I need it, I need it bad.
And so I laid my mat out. I inhaled and told myself that whatever happened, it was going to be exactly what I needed. I set my intention on just observing. I found my way to my childspose and started to lengthen.
I lengthened out of my hips, into my spine and through my shoulders. I worked each vertebral body into alignment from my coccyx through my lumbar, up my thoracic and out my cervical spine. The power of the bone elements ignited as the flexibility of my intervertebral disks expanded. I felt the strength of my practice take hold of my energy as the class began and I started to reconnect with my self, and with my breath. And as I listened to the teacher take over the thoughts in my head and lead me through an exalted and nurturing practice, I recommitted myself to my mat.
Find a comfortable seat. Feel your ass cheeks spread across the surface. Lean forward and back, maybe make some circles with your hips. And then find stillness. Push your butt into the mat and become aware of your core strength. Engage it as you start to stack each vertebra on top of the one below it. Discover how much space you can put between your hips and your ribs. Reach the crown of the head up to the sky. Find space between your shoulders and your ears. And watch your breath.