Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Metta Meditation with a Divine Spark of Sameness.

Picture a friend, imagining the qualities of trust, joy and care. Imagine hugging them.

Stay with this for a while. Bring mindful awareness to your thoughts.
Notice how it feels to be with this friend in mind. 

Just like me this person wishes to be happy.
Just like me this person wishes to avoid suffering
Just like me this person wants to be loved, safe, and healthy.
Just like me this person does not want to feel afraid, inadequate or rejected.
Just like me this person does not want to be sick, lonely or depressed. 

Rest for a moment in essential sameness between you and the friend. 

Now picture a stranger. Someone familiar to you but not well known. It could include a co-worker, neighbor, the checker at the grocery, a celebrity... someone you don't know very well and someone you don't have any strong feelings of attraction or dislike towards. 

Just like me this person wishes to be happy.
Just like me this person wishes to avoid suffering
Just like me this person wants to be loved, safe, and healthy.
Just like me this person does not want to feel afraid, inadequate or rejected.
Just like me this person does not want to be sick, lonely or depressed. 

Rest for a moment in essential sameness between you and the stranger. 

Now picture someone you have had a rift or disagreement with. Someone who sparks some feelings of discord within you. 

Allow yourself to think about this person, visualize them. Recall a recent interaction and imagine doing what it is you know them from or anything that brings them to life in your mind. 

Just like me this person wishes to be happy.
Just like me this person wishes to avoid suffering
Just like me this person wants to be loved, safe, and healthy.
Just like me this person does not want to feel afraid, inadequate or rejected.
Just like me this person does not want to be sick, lonely or depressed. 

Rest for a moment in essential sameness between you and your perceived adversary. 
Take some time to let all these feelings resonate with you. Allow yourself become light and full of grace. Enable this feeling to wash over you like a cleansing spring rain. 

Take all the time required to breathe into the feeling of being one with each of one of these people. 

May there be a Divine spark within each of us as we recognize our sameness and feel loving kindness towards all. ~ Namaste.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Deepavali: An American's Glimpse Into the Malaysian Celebration of Lights

May the beauty of Lakshmi cover your household with good fortune
Deepavali, the festival of lights descends upon Malaysia. Only from where I sit, there is only this melancholy stillness as I look out over the city from my window at dawn. I hear the faint chanting of prayers from the Muslim temple nearby. The sky turns from star-less black to midnight blue to yellowish violet until finally white wisps fill the light blue sky. The kind of blue that feels like the day will grow hot and friendly.

True enough, the sun shone bright up until I decided to venture out to meet friends for coffee at the mall next door. My boys and I break into a skip as sheets of rain blow in. 

Monsoon season has arrived.
 I've lost count at the number of malls that have sprung up all over Kuala Lumpur, where it boasts of having Asia's largest mall. It's a haven for Malaysians who seldom use air con at home and for the women who wear traditional Muslim headscarfs. 

I wonder what is like to have my hair covered. Is it itchy and hot? In an odd thought, I wished I were wearing one now, as I shiver from the blast of cold on my wet clothes.

Today, we stand in line for free drinks from Starbucks in honor of the holiday. We're given cups and meant to cue up in a line that eventually takes more than a half hour to retrieve our grande frozen green tea with red beans and carmel frappuccino with jelly inside. Asian desserts are incomprehensibly savory rather than sweet and usually involve some kind of gelatin or corn and beans. I generally give it a miss.

After a coffee chat with new local Malaysian Chinese friends, I buy the latest Paulo Coelho book for myself. I've been reading excerpts on line and cannot wait to get back to devour it. I sneak a peak from a random page and read:
"Love always triumphs over what we call death. That's why there's no need to grieve for our loved ones, because they continue to be loved and remain by our side. It's hard for us to accept that. If you don't believe it, then there's no point in my trying to explain." 
Feeling a far away love, a lump in my throat constricts my breathing until my son snaps me back to this present moment by shoving his book discovery in my face.

Son #1 schools me on author Rick Riordan. There are 2 new books out in 2 different series. I'm having two thoughts at once: one, this guy is making a fortune. And two: I'm hoping my son will not feel too teenager-ish tonight and let me read to him.

Son #2 wants the latest Dairy of a Wimpy Kid. Another book that has become a movie franchise. Unhappy with his choice, I feel we have enough potty humor our house without learning more from a book. Sighing, I cross my fingers in what the wimpy kid calls a "cheese touch" and hope son #2 does not want me to read it to him tonight.
Walking back slowly now that the rain has stopped, I mope. Secretly I was hoping one of my very few handful of Indian friends would invite me to their Deepavali open house. No such invitation.
My only glimpses into the holiday this year included visiting Brickfields to bargain for an Indian costume for son #2  to wear to school, walking down beautiful garland alley in Little India, and seeing beautiful kolam paintings made from grains of rice dyed in bright colors that decorate the many malls. Traditionally, the paintings are placed at the entry ways of Hindu homes and said to invoke the power of Lakshmi, goddess of wealth and prosperity.
Malaysian Hindu families prepare for Deepavali (or Diwali) by buying a new costume to wear to temple where prayers of thanks are given that good has overcome evil in everyone. Candles are lit and the house is cleaned to make Lakshmi contented. Friends are invited over to eat sweets and other goodies. Children might get extra presents, if they've been good in school. Firecrackers, lots of firecrackers will be heard tonight.

Later, the kids and I will enjoy some left over Indian food forgoing the traditional murtabak which is a pancake stuffed with minced meat and garlic and dipped in curry gravy. Too bad the only stall in walking distance is a strange little hamburger stall. 

A mamak or hawker stall decorated with plastic tables and chairs on a roadside and serves up cheap local food 24 hours a day is much more common. Perhaps I'll take the boys for roti canai, yummy Indian flatbread tomorrow, as the holidays continue for 3 more days with time to explore before returning to school.
In my own entry way is a Thai spirit house decorated with various treasures collected on our adventures: a hand carved wooden elephant, a favorite mala, a unusually large snail shell...

Today, I light a candle and add a photo of goddess Lakshmi to my alter, in hopes that her beauty will cover our household with good fortune. Whispering a prayer that the Light will lead me from the darkness and Love will always triumph over what we call death. Fully grateful knowing tomorrow I will all rise again to participate in the unfolding of a colorful first light.

As posted on Rebelle Society ~ Nov 14, 2013

*Upcoming Event: Melissa will be exploring the topics of radical acceptance, community and the depths of love & service in her upcoming Escape to Thailand Music & Yoga Retreat with Steve Gold.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

heroes among us

Veterans Day honors the men and women in our military who sacrifice their lives every day. What they give up to serve and protect our country is astounding. What they gain, I'm not sure I will ever fully comprehend. Other than I can imagine that it stems from wanting to make a dfference in this crazy world. I can see the dignity and depth of honor they have in serving our country. Just typing those words gives me chills. Perhaps only those wiling to trade their life for service can understand this kind of pride.

With each Veteran encountered, I've observed an unspoken kinship among them. An inner-circle kind of knowing they have without uttering a word. And, if they choose to share their experiences, their courage in exposing their vulnerability, creates a profound empathy among them. There is an understanding of what was procured through their glories and what vanished because of their sacrifices, loneliness and atrocities. I am humbled in their presence.   

Honoring those who serve our country, on Veterans Day. 
You are the heroes among us.

If you'd like show gratitude in honor of a Veteran today, there is an organization, Expedition Balance, that is using it's resources to teach yoga and meditation to Veterans. Your support lends healing to Vets with PTSD.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

to kneel and kiss the ground

“There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” ~ Rumi 

The ways in which I am grateful from #'s 1 to 1000: they are too numerous to list. When I reflected today on this Rumi quote, I realized that the humblest of ways to be thankful is ~ prayer.

I stopped praying one day. I just stopped. I don't know why exactly or when. Then last night, as another sleepless night encroached upon me... I cried out~ for wisdom ~ for love ~ for serendipidous moments ~ for all the wild and wonderful things that would allow me to live with abundance ~ for the sun to shine on my tired body again.

And, it did.

I live and breathe and give thanks for another day to see the sunrise... the yellows brighten the dark blue of the sky  ~ and I smile. I know that my prayers did not fall onto deaf ears but soared into the Light.

#month of gratitude #creative rehab

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Perfectly Flawed

I like flaws and feel more comfortable around people who have them. I myself am made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions. ~ Augusten Burroughs

I slept with my clothes on again last night. I crawled into bed at 3pm and woke up to the sound of a call on my computer 5 hours later and immediately went back to bed. Jet lag is winning over my ability to pry my eyes open.

Children away busy with their dad, gave me an the chance to settle back in to life here in KL. Intermittently scanning Facebook for traces of home (Texas) and completely absorbed in the book Wild, it seems I'd rather do anything but what I need to do (promote my retreats, organize my finances, unpack.... ) A voice in my head whispers, all of this can wait. 

I am in a new mode: take care of myself. 

Come, come whoever you are-- wanderer- worshiper, lover of leaving, what does it matter? Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come even if you have broken your vow a hundred times, come, come again, come. ~ Rumi

Today, rising before the sun, I feel the weight of unfinished tasks. Life does not stop thrusting forward just because you have filled your day to overflowing. "White space. Where is the white space in your calendar?" I can hear one of my dear friends saying who always appears to be relaxed. How does she manage it all? She claims she's not perfect and knows she cannot do it all. The most important thing is conquered and then she enjoys her day, allowing things to be undone. Undone.

Life, however muddled and undone at times, is too sacred, too full of possibilities to worry over whether you got it all in or did it perfectly.

Most of my most goals, agendas and to do lists are hand written, self driven opportunities to strive toward something. Why do I strive so much?

"Life's meaning can be found not in a few great deeds but in thousands of little ones." That's what I've always thought. Life is in the details. The thank you notes, the remembrances of birthdays, the smiles to strangers, the offering of yourself in service when you can, as you can. 

But maybe, just maybe, it's also about me. I have for so long felt like I was the one upholding certain friendships and relationships... the glue that kept my family together for so long. And, now, NOW is the time to look after myself. 

Stop searching for meaning and be happy, I tell myself. When I keep looking for a greater purpose or toward the future, I'm struck by the fact that there is no sure thing. The future will continue to throw me curve balls no matter how meticulously I plan.

This morning I sought silence. Uncomfortable. Uneasy. Edging myself up onto a floor cushion, I sat still for a very long, excruciating 10 minutes. I let my mind chase topics, run around issues, form lists, tackle monsters, and finally just before the timer went off... I pictured the mind-chasers dissolving into a clear blue sky. 

Rather than unraveling, the threads that hold me together remained in tact. Feeling the rawness of my flaws, I begin to see that I am perfectly imperfect. 

A calm washed over me. An audible sigh released from my lips. Moments of clarity. Beyond what I can see, what I feel, there is the endless Sun. There is this present moment that I choose to take care of myself in a way that I have not in a very long time. 

I am coming into the stage of being less able to accomplish and more able to enjoy. And that, along with loving and being loved are all the supplies I need to begin my journey into self care. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

I've been in a bit of a battle with the many voices in my head while attempting to allow the flow of life to happen rather than the illusion of trying to control it. The depth of loneliness that comes with trying to orchestrate all the details of your life is sometimes hard to wrap my head around. I find creating budgets and organizing my calendar of work empowering yet unfulfilling. 
But it seemed to me that this was the way we all lived: full to the brim with gratitude and joy one day, wrecked on the rocks the next. Finding the balance between the two was the art and the salvation.” ~ Elizabeth Berg from "The Year of Pleasures"
I try to go back to the source, looking for the Truth. Throwing out all the lists of what I should do. "I just need to be still," I tell myself. Can I sit with the sensations that come with my tears? Can I allow the people who have flowed in and out of my life to be the human support that I seek? Can I just be OK with it as life is right now, in this very moment? 

Sometimes the answer is yes, and I am strong and feel almost invincible. Often the answer is no. I don't know how to navigate life as gracefully as I once did, and certainly not alone. 

The reality of Truth is not to be bought, to be sold, to be repeated,it cannot be caught in books. It has to be found from moment to moment,in the smile, in the tear, under the dead leaf, in the vagrant thought, in thefullness of LOVE.Krishnamurti
Instead of running away or creating distractions, I begin to change my story. I'm crafting it new every morning. Releasing the belief that I am unworthy of great love or too small to accomplish something so wonderful. I take a deep breath and just ... do IT ---- following my heart in pursuit of the fullness of LOVE. Somebody said, you have to jump off the cliff all the time and build your wings on the way down. I'm ready to earn my wings. 

For a New Beginning
In out-of-the-way places of the heart,
Where your thoughts never think to wander,
This beginning has been quietly forming,
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire,
Feeling the emptiness growing inside you,
Noticing how you willed yourself on,
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the gray promises that sameness whispered,
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent,
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream,
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not yet clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is at one with your life's desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure;
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk;
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm,
For your soul senses the world that awaits you.
~ John O'Donohue 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

In Flux

"The importance of how I feel- on any given day, about any given subject is highly overrated. 
I'm a feeling person, yes, but the truest thing about me isn't how I feel. 
There is something truer than my emotions." 
~ Leigh McLeroy 

When things start to look as if they could not possibly get darker, sometimes they do. The peaks and valleys I feel, I'm beginning to receive with curiosity and perspective. Sometimes it's simply how I view my emotions that makes all the difference. 

On one hand is what I feel, on the other, what I know to be True. When an emotion arises, I try not to stomp on it and pound it into submission. 
Let go? Transform? Or receive it? 

"Wherever you are, be there totally. If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally."– Eckhart Tolle
now Accepting.

Is it possible to do all 3 at once? I think so in order to moving beyond the emotions. I often have to realize that emotion or situation is not a reflection of my True character. I release. Watch it pass.

"All will be well.
And all will be well,
And all manner of things 
Will be well."
~ Dame Julian of Norwich

Monday, September 17, 2012

Dreams by Edgar Allen Poe

Edgar Allen Poe was the favorite poet of my cousin, David, who's life was abruptly ended by a drunk driver years ago. Every time I read Poe's works, I am reminded of David's passion (an artist, musician, dreamer) and the tragic loss of his a blooming life. 
Today, as I read it, I am reminded that each of has some element of this dreamer in us. The one who longs for something just out of reach. And yet, there is this glimmer of hope that the power of intention, prayer, magnetic forces, whatever... will allow something that is seemingly impossible become a reality. Love can be become as vivid as a rainbow in the distance, in our waking hours, rather than only in our dreams. 
Oh! that my young life were a lasting dream!
My spirit not awakening, till the beam
Of an Eternity should bring the morrow.
Yes! tho' that long dream were of hopeless sorrow,
'Twere better than the cold reality
Of waking life, to him whose heart must be,
And hath been still, upon the lovely earth,
A chaos of deep passion, from his birth.
But should it be- that dream eternally
Continuing- as dreams have been to me
In my young boyhood- should it thus be given,
'Twere folly still to hope for higher Heaven.
For I have revell'd, when the sun was bright
I' the summer sky, in dreams of living light
And loveliness,- have left my very heart
In climes of my imagining, apart
From mine own home, with beings that have been
Of mine own thought- what more could I have seen?
'Twas once- and only once- and the wild hour
From my remembrance shall not pass- some power
Or spell had bound me- 'twas the chilly wind
Came o'er me in the night, and left behind
Its image on my spirit- or the moon
Shone on my slumbers in her lofty noon
Too coldly- or the stars- howe'er it was
That dream was as that night-wind- let it pass.
I have been happy, tho' in a dream.
I have been happy- and I love the theme:
Dreams! in their vivid coloring of life,
As in that fleeting, shadowy, misty strife
Of semblance with reality, which brings
To the delirious eye, more lovely things
Of Paradise and Love- and all our own!
Than young Hope in his sunniest hour hath known.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Diary of an AcroYogi

"Sometimes our light goes out but is blown again into instant flame by an encounter with another human being." ~ Albert Schweitzer

My light felt veiled completely before I arrived at teacher training and upon departure, I could feel my strength and resilience as a student, teacher, friend and mother renewed. If you've ever experienced the power of community, then you'll know what I mean when I say that I felt enveloped, accepted and loved by my peers and teachers through metta, loving kindness. 

Here are just a few snapshots from my journey over the nearly 3 week period. 

Journal Entries from AcroYoga Teacher Training Level One, Group 8

Day 1
What's the point of being alive if I don't at least try to do something remarkable? 

Day 2
The first day was an orientation and settling in. Today, the real work begins. The Solar Asana sequence was lead by Jenny to prepare us for acrobatics and incorporating the inversion pyramid. I feel weak from a long break, a little insecure, and my head is still foggy from jet lag and no coffee. The 4 months leading up to the training have been some of the most transitional of my life. I began again as a 40 year old single mom, said goodbye to my Texas roots and kula there and moved to a new country. Travel has been nonstop, and many times I've woken up and had to think hard about where I am. Today was no different as I looked over at my roommate, Sandy and smiled at the fact that we're sleeping in a yurt in beautiful yet desert-like Ojai, California.
the yurt

Singing: Maa Durga Jai Jagadambe Ma Durga. A chant to burn off what doesn't serve us today. My insecurities and feelings of unworthiness linger under the surface. 

We ended the day with reflections and affirmations on what our greatest offerings are as a teacher. Mine are: strength, passion, connection and building community. There, feeling better already. Ma Durga!

Day 4
Began the day with the sound of a gong, announcing 10 minutes to go before class begins. Another acrobatic day of drills, same size trios, trees and elves and even some 2 highs outside on the charming lawn preparing us for our initiation to the acro green on Sunday. Acro green is a patch of grass near the Santa Monica Pier where acrobats have been coming since the 1940's and 50's. AcroYoga has helped revive it. I've never been, and I feel nervous thinking who would want to fly with me when they can do more and greater tricks than I can base? I'm still excited and am beginning to feel and believe I deserve to be here. 

Accepting and recieving because I have nothing to prove.

Day 5
Trust yourself, Mel. You know way more than you think you do. I think I can becomes... I know I can.

Day 7
We had an in depth overview of the Inversion Pyramid 1 with Jason. "Every physical exercise has 3 elements: strength, flexibility and technique. Technique is when you use the right amount of strength and flexibility skillfully." I believe this is one of the factors that makes AcroYoga so unique. It's one thing to do tricks or therapeutics, but it's another thing all together to be able to do it well using these 3 skills. He continued "speed is the spice you add when technique (the foundation) is good." 

Yuki's handstand clinics
He also quoted his teacher Lu Yi saying, "It's not one technique for 100 students, it's 100 techniques for 1 student". I love this. It follows my belief that we have to teach to the body in front of us with a discerning eye. 

Began refining my handstands with Jason. For the first time I understood how to pike slightly in handstand to make my body more aligned. "You can't choose your obstacles. It's what you do with it." Jason Nemer 

Day 8
Angry birds (teaching the correct foot placement in folded leaf) in my awesome group of 4. Co-teaching with Bex. Today could not be better. 

Day 10
Group teaching each day and learning the ins and outs of co-teaching has been fun. We have a wonderful, cohesive group. They've named us Euro-Asia, however, we renamed ourselves Jambalaya because we feel like a really diverse mixture of personalities and locations. 

teaching group
The group teaching aspect of the training has surprised me most. Teaching for over 22 years, I am continuously humbled by others who have only been teaching a short while or not at all. We all have so many different talents we bring to the table. At the end of the day, for me, it's how we can allow each other to shine, be playful and safely layer the elements in class while helping students feel confident and wanting more. Or, better yet, the manifesto and song that our entire group created was: "we empower playful revolutions in communities around the world by sowing the seeds of compassion and joy." 

My absolute biggest challenge thus far has been to give myself positive feedback in a group. "What I felt I did well was…". Why is it so hard to affirm myself? 

Maha Teaching
We are also required to give solutionary/ evolutionary feedback which is far easier than affirmations. 2 of the phrases I've incorporated from Jenny in providing solutionary feedback are "I would invite you to…" and " I wonder if…" in other words, to have "benevolent curiosity" when offering what could be better next time. 

Day 13
"Your mind is the strongest muscle in your body." Jenny Sauer-Klein. 
My hurdles up until now have been more emotional than physical. Today I began to feel a twinge of inflammation in my left shoulder. One thing that our facilitators stress continuously to us is: "use accurate self assessment". To not push ourselves beyond what is necessary. We have nothing to prove. We all have the skills and have earned the honor of being here. Now is the time to dig in and learn whatever it is that our bodies have for us to learn. Today I am hurting.

daily hike
Day 15
Hard to believe tomorrow is our last day. I took some time this morning to hike, as I have every day. There is a beautiful trail that leads up the mountain to spectacular views of the winery and valley below. While others have braved 6am meditation with Pau, my daily walking meditation is where I have processed each 12 hour day and reflected on how I will take all of this knowledge back with me. Today, words from Abraham Hicks sink in deeply, "When you let go, you are transformed". I finally let go of my unworthiness and my feelings of "I'm not like them, why am I here?" 

Immersing in the AcroYoga teaching philosophy has only solidified my commitment to this incredible practice. What is the deeper learning? It's not about handstands. I believe we cultivate what we embody, we receive what we give, and create relationship by realizing we are all the same. One + One = One. 
AcroYoga Teacher Training Group 8 Graduates

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

the green mango

The passage of time will prepare us to find our heart's desires just as it does a green mango. "When we try to eat the mango before it's ripe, it's not tasty. But when we wait, we can fully appreciate the taste, smell and texture of the juicy fruit. When we try to squeeze in a lifetime in only a short while, we miss the beauty of the ripening." ~ Poncho Cottier

Fidgeting when something was taking a bit too long (all day), I announced how impatient I am. My friend questioned, "you're a yoga teacher, right?" Yes, I am. But I'm human, and it's not possible to always  display Dali Lama like patience. If you have kids, you know what what I mean. Sigh.

I'm hoping that these next few weeks at AcroYoga Teacher Training will not only refine my skills as a practitioner but as a partner. Acrobatic skills are developed over time, just as compassion, communication and patience are cultivated with trial and error and yes, time. I am hopeful that even with my inexperience in comparison to my peers, that my heart's desires will be clarified and the green mango will begin to ripen. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

The song of my soul was freed.
The one who holds the light that guides me is found. 
Together we uncover the beauty that was always abundant and radiant
yet hidden from my view.
We were searching for each other through many lifetimes.
And now here we are under the same sun, the same moon.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Things I Have No Words For

Some days I can only see the world through art. A sunset. A flower. A smile. When I see a brilliant creation, I am reminded I was created, too.
I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn't say any other way... things I had no words for.― Georgia O'Keeffe  

Some days I can only see the world through music. My eyes close, and I hear the depth of pain, sorrow or even rapture in the lyrics written and unfolded in a song.

Some days I can only see the world through words. What my heart feels comes alive when I dress it in expressive words. 
A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.
I say it just
Begins to live
That day.
~ Emily Dickenson
Some days I wish I could see the world through someone else's eyes. Try as I can to empathize with a friend, partner, or stranger, I can never know exactly how they feel inside.

Son #1 said to son #2, I wish we could switch places, for just a minute and you could see how much that hurts when you're on my shoulders in the pool (pretty wise kiddo). No parent wants their children to experience any kind of pain but people who have been through painful experiences, are filled with compassion. To begin to see and feel things from another's perspective is the beginning of compassion. It is the beginning of living life with heart.

Lord, teach me to live with heart and to be inspired by the beauty that surrounds me, the things I have no words for.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Look Toward Today And Leap

I wake everyday with a new hope. Stirring from a restless sleep, I attempt to shake the residue of the previous day's mood off. My emotions form a pool around my bed which I must leap over. I have made a game of it in my mind. If I make over the puddle, then the sun will shine. If cannot jump far enough, I fall into the clouds and feel gravity pull me deep into the earth or at least back into bed. 

Melancholy is a giant shadow that envelops me. And, I wonder aloud, "what to do to move into the light?" My companions, sadness and tears come at regular intervals. It's all I can do to smile when I am with my precious boys playing the pool or chasing each other through the park. The desire to run is great but my lethargy is greater. 

The healing I experienced in Thailand faded quickly. I must try to remember how bathe myself in forgiveness and unconditional love when I am alone and far from home. When I step into the sunlight, it helps. I can feel myself under the same sky as my Beloved.

While new fears gnaw at my heart, my dreams hold me and give me comfort. I cannot change the past, but I can navigate my future. Plan, then let go of the reigns and allow things to unfold in a way that is usually better than I have schemed. 

Taking a yoga class yesterday after some time away from a personal practice and teaching, I realized I am not doing what it is that I am most passionate about. I need to keep doing what feeds my soul and refills me when I feel far from Love and the future feels unmapped. I can only look toward today and try to leap far enough to land on my feet.
Look to this day! 
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course 
lie all the verities and realities of your existence:
The Bliss of growth
The glory of action
The splendor of beauty
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow only a vision
But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope. 
Look well, therefore to this day! 
Such is the salutation to the dawn.
~ Kalidasa, Indian Poet

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

If The Rain Thailand Were Music

If the rain Thailand were music, it would sound like this.  As I listen and look out into the clouds sweeping over the mountains, I can taste the rain. Like ginger on my tongue, it is healing.

Rainy season in Chiang Mai can be temperamental. The week before we came, it was monsoon like and nearly prevented us from going out on the cottages on the water. Uncharacteristically, once I arrived, all the way up until the last person left from the retreat, there was scarcely a sprinkle.  

As I cycled in the rain yesterday, a shivery breeze came in quick, like someone blowing cold wind up my skirt followed by a yellow thread that struck the road just a few meters in front of me. It was the first time I experienced thunder and lightning on this trip. A vast contrast to the gentle rain dances that came unpredictably each day.

Jarred by the closeness of the strike, I cycled hard and fast back to my guest house. Arriving sweaty and breathless, a sense of relief and excitement filled me. 

I felt alive and human. Feeling my body respond in fight or flight mode is to begin to know how fragile life is. Here today and reborn another day. Each rain seems to fall into the subtle wounds of my body and purifies me. My heart is open to it's cleansing powers.

"All afternoon it rained, thensuch a power came down from the cloudson a yellow thread,as authoritative as God is supposed to be.When it hit the tree, her bodyopened forever." ~ Mary Oliver

Sunday, July 1, 2012

My half drunk latte sits beside my Mac attracting ants with the stray crystals of sugar sprinkled around the saucer. The texture of the air is stale, even with the oscillating fan above me. A waft of spices and grilling rises up from the kitchen to the second floor of Good Morning Chiang Mai Cafe where I sit dreaming of home.

Only home isn't Texas any longer. All my worldly belongings are divided and scattered across the globe. Some on a container that will arrive in South East Asia after a month long journey across the sea. Another quarter somewhere in a temperature controlled storage unit in Houston. A combination of large suitcases and duffle bags sit in the living room of a loved one in the Heights. And, the rest of my collection is with me, here in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

As I reflect on how this trip has affected me through journaling and planning the next installment of retreats, I am struck by my absolute exhaustion. 6 flights to arrive, 26 days thus far, countless moments of insight, joy, sadness, and even despair.

The warmth and rain in this city, make me feel as if I am moving through liquid air. My stomach feels the abuse of eating too many delicious fruits and stall foods, my heart feels the the tug of being away from loved ones, and my body feels tight and loose at the same time from alternating between yoga and giving and receiving massage.

Making time for stillness yesterday and today forced me to see around the corners of my mind that has been crowded with agendas. These plans constantly evolve as I seek to make my world as full as I can. "Americans," my friend said to me before she left this enchanted world, "do not know this kind of stillness. How can they? Nor do they know how tired they really are."

In a few days time, I will trade in this slow dance for a quick step into Houston traffic, blistering heat, children and more rounds of goodbyes. But the "me" that will arrive is not the same "me" that left in early June.  I am transformed by the Thai culture and people scattered along my path.

Most people do not see the world as magical. How can I bottle the enthralling, timeless energy of this place and the beauty of the people and carry it with me? A Chinese friend once said to me "good friend never part in mind".  The same is true of a place. Chiang Mai influenced me in ways that I could never plan even with the most elaborate of agendas and will remain a part of me.

"I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself." ~ Maya Angelou

As much as I love Texas and Thailand, I feel home is no longer a place. It is found in the people I love. This is where my soul resides.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

With New Eyes, Time Is Infinite

Is there ever enough time? Will we run out before our life is experienced and tasted fully? Is living a 100 years or more enough to absorb all that life has to offer? Life must be touched and felt beyond the surface and there never seems to be enough hours to uncover its secrets.

And yet, the only the thing we have is this precious moment. We cannot pack the future into our suitcase, like we can mementos of our past. 

I journal and document with photos because I fear I will forget my past. My memory is sketchy at best. And, I tend to recall only the vivid seconds that make my heart pound with dread or joy. Will I one day forget the name of the flower that was in my grandmother's hat at my wedding and smells like fresh morning after the rains? Or the name of the fruit that I ate in Thailand until it stained my fingers a bright red as I pried the hard shell open? Will I remember what my beloved looks like or how his face feels after a shave? 

So I write and remember. As I read the words, my own history, I evoke how deeply I felt in that very moment. 

I was lovingly reminded today by a new friend that there is only here and now (Eckhart Tolle). Speculating about the future only invites anxiousness and fear. When I hold back from making plans, is it so I do not have to choose? Am I waiting for God, luck or "the Universe" to unfold my plans for me? Why is making a choice so hard? 

I found that living in indecision was slowly chipping away at my soul. As soon as I moved forward, fear was replaced by a sense of conviction and a clarity that revealed my path was there all along. As if there was a trail guide clearing the path with a machete, one swift cut at a time. The only thing visible through the jungle vines was the very next step. 

As I view the life that surrounds me here in Thailand, I am reminded of the words of Marcel Proust. "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes...but in having new eyes." It is with these new eyes that time feels infinite, with no past or future. 

"Open up the broken cup
Let goodly sin and sunshine in
Yes that's today."
Things Behind the Sun by Nick Drake

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Amazing Grace Is Pouring Down

The Dalai Lama says " We can best tell if our practice is working after five, ten, twenty-five years".

I don't want to wait that long. I am impatient. If we are honest, most of us are. We want what everyone else has: a stronger core, a different body, power poses, more of this or maybe we just want to be the person we thought we were in our 20's. Or we want to be someone, anyone but ourselves. For me, I want to stop belittling myself and wishing, hoping for something I don't have. 

When will I to learn to accept where and who I am today? A big part of the process of acceptance has been influenced by the unfolding of my yoga practice, and it's infusion into my life. 
"When you feel the urge to leave a path, try to honestly assess if you are running away from hard work or self-confrontation, or if you have indeed completed what you came to do." Elizbeth Lesser, The Seeker's Guide
When is it time to move away from a type of practice that no longer serves me?  To retreat from a teacher that has taught me what I needed to learn, and I know I have reached the edge of growth through their teachings? Or, is it simply time for a shift in other areas of my life so that a new season may begin? 

By allowing myself to feel these things, even with a twinge of reluctance, there will be freedom.
"To go with the drift of things, To yeild with a grace to reason, And to bow and accept the endOf a love or a season." ~ Robert Frost's poem, Reluctance
May we all go with the drift of things. Allowing ourselves to yield with grace and to "be a light unto yourself". (Buddha). 

"Good and great teachers will help you become such a light. ... ultimately, you will find yourself wondering what took you so long, and why you kept searching for something you had all the time." 

Good, really good teachers give us a thread of light that allows us to discover that the brightness is within. It's been there all along. 

I am grateful for those that show me the path and light my way toward acceptance. Amazing grace is pouring down. 


Welcome Enter One Playlist*
Amazing grace is pouring down. 

Daybreak Vision, Carlos Nakai
If Melancholy were music, Fabrizio Paterlini (beautiful. he offers free downloads on soundcloud.)
Lotus Flower, Radiohead 
Towers, Bon Iver
Long Ride Home, Patty Griffin (someone I admire adores Patty Griffin, this is for Mike, yoga teacher + heart giver.)
Clean State, M. Ward
Chasing Cars, Snow Patrol (sweet longing)
Nothing Left to Lose, Mat Kearney (for Phuong)
Home Again, Michael Kiwanuka (a must listen)
Just Breathe, Pearl Jam
Hand Covers Bruise, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (beautiful instrumental)
Something beautiful , Alexi Murdoch
Make Your Heart, Azure Ray (thank you Rose for the gift of this song. it inspired me to write about my mom for mother's day.)
Enter One, Sol Seppy
Try, Ben Sollee & Daniel Martin Moore  (gorgeous version on Daytrotter)

*The playlist from my last yoga class at Lulu Lemon City Centre. It's been a joy to represent Lulu and to get to know such a sweet, friendly crew that you have there. Loved every moment of it. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Soul in Flight Amongst the Clouds

"The body has death, but not the soul. The body sleeps, the soul flies." ~ The Gita

You have been here with us in Thailand. 

I felt you on the floating cottages last week. A sudden, cool rain blew in and refreshed our sunburned bodies. I felt your spirit smile, knowing we were completely without electricity, running water, or technology with the ability to slip off alone to find a peaceful spot to meditate.

In the temple yesterday, I felt you in a monk that passed through the narrow iron gate. You carried a round brass pail ready to receive offerings of food.  
While sitting on the steps, I flipped back in my journal to what I wrote at the time of your memorial. "Life lived in moments. Brief snippets of time as if I were watching it from the outside in. Like a vivid, brilliant movie, these moments go fast, and then they are gone. How could we possibly know when our last moment will be with a friend? And if we could, what would we alter?"

Glancing up, you walked by again, another monk, orange robe spilling over your shoulder, sweeping. Your eyes caught mine and with a soft grin, you turned and continued to push the dirt and leaves to a pile just near the temple steps. 

After returning home from your memorial in May, I slept. This is significant since I generally do not sleep and if I do, never well. It was as though you gave me the rest my body craved and needed. 

And here in this beautiful city, I am reminded of you again and again, when I find myself rested or as I gaze into the trees that surround this city of smiles. Not just because you were going to take this trip with us at one point, but because I feel your spirit at rest in the blue and grey wispy clouds that periodically hide the massive beauty of Doi Sutep mountain.

You once said you were really happy in how you "turned out to be." How many of us can say that in this very moment? It looks as though you would not have altered any moments. Death, while hard for us here on earth, seemed to be on time. Thankfully, your soul is still in flight amongst the clouds.

Jeff Goodman's favorite quote:
“The kindness I have longest remembered has been of this sort, the sort unsaid; so far behind the speaker's lips that almost it already lay in my heart. It did not have far to go to be communicated.” ~Thoreau