Monday, December 8, 2014

Gratitude Journal: Day 16-30, on love

The last 15 days of the gratitude journaling I had a lot of extra time without Internet to hand write in my personal diary, reflect and renew, catch another stomach virus, teach and practice yoga, read and cycle in the rain, fellowship in community, and be still. 

In the stillness my ears rang with new clarity. The extra sleep, lack of computer time and encouraging environment fostered some deep healing. Gratitude lists were extensive and varied throughout my adventurous 2 weeks. Doodle-filled inventories of frivolousness appreciation for things like nightshade vegetables and blue white and yellow butterflies, but also significant entries such as encounters with the prepossessing souls and an experience on Monkey Rock overlooking the valley below where I felt veritable Oneness (Samadhi) that was unexplainable. I simply wrote: ONE in all caps. It took my breath away.   

Gratitude just might be the reason I hold out so much hope and positivity for the future. Not all of life is easy to be grateful for. There was this virus that knocked me out for more than 2 days and still, I had to teach. However, there is always a thread of brilliance weaving things intricately together that isn't visible at the time. 

Two women come to mind whom I am deeply grateful for. Vastly differently, they both exemplify living yoga to me. Each overcoming great barriers in their lives but doing so with grace, integrity and by pulling up others around them rather than pushing them down. I am infatuated with their giving spirits and excited to have forged strong new friendships with them. 

One of the women inspired this journal entry from Day 9 of my trip... 

Sometimes we have to move away from that which we love the most. Love then seeps into areas untouched, melting hardened boulders strategically placed around the heart. A lifetime of experiences may twist and shape us but cannot contain us once we have pulled our heart out, exposed and free of shame or fear. Love returns us to our true home within. 
Love returned. 

*A note about 30 days of gratitude. 

Just, thank you for being a part of it either by reading or sharing your own thankfulness. If you didn't, go ahead, try it. I'm pretty sure it will significantly alter... something within you. Give it some time to stew and then taste how good it feels. 

In joy, 


Friday, November 14, 2014

Day 15: Gratitude Journal, the song of my soul through poetry

"A poet's work is to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it going to sleep." Salman Rushdie.
Today, I am grateful for the written word. When I sit to write and no words come which is frequent, there is always Yoga. Movement. Breath. Music. Words. I covet inspiration that I get from the written word. Addicted to self study and spiritual understanding... poetry reaches a part of me that other methods simply cannot.  

Poetry brings to life what is hidden beneath the layers of my protective heart, expressing songs that my soul sings. Offering comfort and a familiarity that I cannot often convey articulately, I am instantly transported to a moment in my life where I stood just where the author did. I can feel his empathy. Together, we dance and move in and between the words strung together as if it was exclusively for me. To me.

Rumi is stirring but if you're getting all your inspiration from him, the Dali Lama, Mary Oliver, or Hafiz on Facebook, then you're missing out on some of the lesser known, most influential writings of our time. These poets explore love, lust, the meaning of life and even details that you'd swear gave them a voyeuristic view into your own life. 

Feast on the words of these inspirational poets. (#3 on this list is my personal favorite.)

1. Randall Mann, author of Complaint in the Garden (2004), winner of the Kenyon Review Prize in Poetry writes with brave vulnerability. In response to critics who say that his openly gay references in his writings are bold, Mann responds, “If tenderness between two men is radical—and I suppose it is—then the shameful world needs a new radicalism.”

Bernard Hill

Something has to give.
We stand above it all.
Below, the buildings' tall
but tiny narrative.

The water's always near,
you say. And so are you,
for now. It has to do.
There's little left to fear.

A wind so cold, one might
forget that winter's gone.
The city lights are on
for us, to us, tonight.

2. Richard Blanco, the youngest, and one of only 6 poets in history to share poetry at the president's inaugural address. 

3. David Whyte, writes with clarity, sensitivity and depth that pricks at my heart with every single poem. I am anxiously awaiting his new book. 


is a heartache and difficult to achieve because strangely, the act of forgiveness not only refuses to eliminate the original wound, but actually draws us closer to its source. To approach forgiveness is to close in on the nature of the hurt itself, the only remedy being, as we approach its raw center, to reimagine our relation to it.

It may be that the part of us that was struck and hurt can never forgive, and that forgiveness itself never arises from the part of us that was actually wounded. The wounded self may be the part of us incapable of forgetting, and perhaps, not meant to forget…stranger still, it is that wounded, branded, un-forgetting part of us that eventually makes forgiveness an act of compassion rather than one of simple forgetting.

Forgiveness is a skill, a way of preserving clarity, sanity and generosity in an individual life, a beautiful question and a way of shaping the mind to a future we want for ourselves; an admittance that if forgiveness comes through understanding, and if understanding is just a matter of time and application then we might as well begin forgiving right at the beginning of any drama, rather than put ourselves through the full cycle of festering, incapacitation, reluctant healing and eventual blessing.

…at the end of life, the wish to be forgiven is ultimately the chief desire of almost every human being. In refusing to wait; in extending forgiveness to others now, we begin the long journey of becoming the person who will be large enough, able enough and generous enough to receive, at our very end, that necessary absolution ourselves.

Excerpted from ‘FORGIVENESS’ From the upcoming book of essays CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words. ©2014 David Whyte

Who would you add to this list? 

Join 30 days of Radical Gratitude and Love and write your own poem or stanza or simply one word that is the song of your heart today. 

Day 14: Gratitude Journal, whole and healing.

This week held 5 doctors visits and 2 dentist  (combined for me and both sons). How quickly things swivel-- all well one moment- then something that seems so minor takes you down. Everyone is mending nicely at the moment, thanks for wondering. 

Grateful for...

our heath, oh so darn grateful.
perspective and to not take my body's well being for granted. 
bonus time with the boys. oh, how each moment is a gift. 

May your life be filled with endless reminders of the fragile line we walk between well and unwell, whole and healing. Keep your head up, dear ones. Keep your heart strong

30 Days of Radical Gratitude and Love. Why wait? Join us for the next 15 days and see how it's magic works to raise your spirits, bring you joy and puts a smile on those around you. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Day 13: Gratitude Journal, serendipitous encounters with greatness, better known as just showing up.

Show up… we keep moving forward by purely showing up in all of life. Not getting it perfect.. but by getting it done. 

I once heard someone share the secret of success in 2 words: right decisions. How do you know you've made right decisions? 1 word: experience. How do you gain experience? 2 words: wrong decisions.

When it comes to getting the work done- just do it. Putting things off waiting for just the right inspiration or for the moment to be flawless wastes precious time because circumstances will never be perfect.

Next, let go. Open to whatever may come. That is allowing  for serendipity, "the effect by which on accidentally stumbles upon something fortunate especially while looking for something entirely unrelated." 

I am grateful to be a decisive person who still reserves the right after making some wrong decisions, to change my mind. It's in the trial and error of life that I have navigated not the straightest path to what I love but the most interesting of paths. This path has been paved with tears, sweat, juggling elves, miles and miles of ocean between 2 continents of families and friends that I love, precious time with kids and restorative time away from my kids, lost love and gained self love, enlarged perspective, enduring friendships that span the world and joy in the most un-looked, serendipitous for places. 

life + showing up - doing too much + thankful heart = serendipitous encounters with greatness 

Join us for 30 days of Radical Gratitude and Love. Seriously, it's not too late. I'm not kidding, join us now. Could be something serendipitous in it for you. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Gratitude Journal: Day 12, on following your heart, creating abundance, & laughter.

“Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.” ~Henry David Thoreau 

Grateful today that I am allowing myself to follow my feelings more than my head. Overthinking just causes stress. There are no games in life. Just do what your heart says. Hard to go wrong when things are done with love and reverence, integrity and grace. 

Grateful for abundance. Donated 100% of my Acroyoga class last night to a friend's charity to raise funds/awareness for cancer research and within the hour, booked a session for the same amount. Give and you shall receive. If you'd like to share or give: click here.

Grateful today for my health and for laughter. A little under the weather yesterday and yet still managed to feel good while teaching. Woke up with a bizarre rash all over my body today... and just had to laugh... always something. It was either laugh or cry, I guess... I think I'll take a Claritin then watch a clip of Ellen Degeneres and laugh some more. This woman sounds just like my Grandma Walker. Oh, so good. 

Want to feel good all month? Join us for 30 Days of Radical Gratitude and love.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Day 11: Gratitude Journal, honoring those who serve.

Grateful for those who serve our country, on Veterans Day. You are the brave 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 difference 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. 

If you'd like to 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. You can also purchase a beautiful painting by Shelly McDowell. 100% of the proceeds to go ExBal. Hurry, there are only 2 left.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Day 10: Gratitude Journal, all that is good.

Grateful that I can step back and allow others to take care of me once in a while. My generous friend Dawn did just that this weekend. From navigating my way to providing coffee and a comfy bed. But mostly she has sweet, sweet listening ears. This woman is fiercely loyal and incredibly generous. Thank you, dear one.

Grateful for friends who reach out, asking how I am and remember the small stuff... because it's in the small stuff that makes us feel cared for and nurtured. Thank you Jenn and Suji.

Grateful for snail mail... received a lovely hand written letter today that made my day... getting "old fashioned" things like this help me to remember that truly the world is full of so much good-- things to hope for - love to receive and give--  and that I should focus on the anticipation of that. Just that... for the moment.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Day 9: Gratitude Journal, Happy Birthday sweet son #2

Today I am grateful for son #2, on the day that I gave birth to him. I heard someone say once, that we should all call our mothers on our birthday because it's as much their day as ours.Drew feels strongly about family, birthdays and milestones. To him, to be there for one another is showing to love each other.

To touch, punch, hug or kick a ball with you also means he loves you.

Because of him, I have learned what it means to have a child who needs and wants so little. His whole life, he's accepted hand-me-downs from his brother: shoes, shirts, even realized the other day he was wearing his brother's underwear! Now that is a kid that just does not care about material things; he never has.

I've learned about giving and quality time from him. Toys or stuff simply don't matter to him. Consequently, he'd rather ask for money to be raised for his Nana instead of birthday gifts, and he'd rather play football outside with friends than legos inside alone.

I have learned resilience. He has lived with a benign tumor in his arm since birth and has been to so many doctors' visits that I've lost count. Although he is often conscious of it, his childlike optimism doesn't see many limitations as an adult would. 

He has shown me how to be with other kids who are "special" like him- "just act like normal, Mom."

God gave me boys for a reason, and I'm certain this little boy is why I am here in this life. He has given me sweet perspective on what it means to live in the moment, to be present and let go. He reminds me to get off the computer and to play and to not watch the clock so rigidly.

Thank you, darling for your hilarious sense of humor, your obsession with Star Wars and for making me smile, laugh and beam with delight at every single new phase that comes our way.

I adore you -- even when you try to get me to say you're THE #1 son... or that you love me more... that's just not possible. Your momma will always love you more. Always.

Happy birthday to you, sweet one.

Day 8: Gratitude Journal, breathing.

"He who breathes deepest lives most."- Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Grateful today for finding time to breathe in deep, to serve and be around incredible teachers. Thankful to receive encouragement, nourishment, Thai massage and a spark of creativity that comes from being with peers who uplift you-- thank you Greg, Marc, Crystal and Sue for being amazing. 

Grateful for weekends away to realize how much I love Kuala Lumpur. Nothing like leaving home to help you miss home. 

Grateful for the anticipation of a trip to New York around Christmas time. Ready for some magic with those who make my heart happy.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Day 6: Gratitude Journal, no holding back.

When the opportunity arises to express gratitude today don't hold back. 

Tell everyone - Everyone how much you appreciate them. You may not get another opportunity quite like today. So when you feel that... that urge... that little tingle you get when you KNOW you should say... you look great or I've been thinking of you... or I love you. Say it. 

I appreciate you, son #1 because...

you make me smile.
you almost always have something kind to say.
you cook amazing eggs. (Can I teach you to make coffee next?!)
you forget wrongs and remember rights.
you love books and music and books and music.
you know exactly when I need a hug. 
you held it together when your tooth got knocked out, 
then, you thanked me for being there for you. 
you are taking this teen-coming-of-age thing in stride. 

I love you. You pretty much rock. 

Join us for 30 days of Radical Gratitude -- it's never too late to be thankful.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Day 7: Gratitude Journal, giving and recieving

"In life we experience great gifts and losses, but on a day to day basis, it's an ebb and flow between giving and receiving energy. When I find myself shifting towards an attitude of suffering or loss, I practice cultivating gratitude."- Lisa Machac

Today I am grateful for loss. Without it, I would not realize all that I actually do have. And that what remains are gifts, treasures of the heart.

Grateful for this month of gratitude. Without it, I would not witness the wonderful shifts in perspective from so many who are participating.

Thankful for the force of change. Without it, I would cling to the past and resist the future. Change helps me creatively navigate the way as I teether to a greater vision for the future. 

Day 5: Gratitude Journal, 8 hugs a day and 3 belly laughs

Today I am grateful because:

1. No matter how much I protest,

I am totally responsible for everything
that happens to me in my life. I 
can set my own course and fly.

2. Even though ice cream doesn't actually make me feel better, 

it sure temporarily soothes a tender heart and 
tastes mighty good.

3. Hugs are mandatory in this house. 

Going for "8 hugs a day and 3 belly laughs" ~ the Sarahs

Join the radical gratitude.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Day 4: Gratitude Journal, life is short, break the rules.

Always loved this quote. My gratitude today stems from my appreciation of the truth and fun of it.

“Life is short, Break the Rules."
At nearly 43, I am continuously surprised that the world is not spinning faster and faster with the passage of time. This quickening sometimes makes me anxious to get everything done now. Never much of a rule follower- I prefer the shortest distance to the finish line without cutting too many corners. Gratefully, I tend to finish what I set my heart to do. 

"Forgive quickly, Kiss SLOWLY."
Forgiveness comes easily for me; anger only hardens the heart. Kissing seems to cure just about anything. So, YES, please to kissing slowly. Kissing and handholding are among the sweetest most romantic gestures of tenderness I can think of. Thank you god, for kissing.

"Love truly."
Love-- is. Thank you to those who offer their love and support without condition.

"Laugh uncontrollably" 
Laughter works the deepest part of your abdominal muscles. I'd much rather watch a funny movie than work out, any day. Grateful that I can laugh- mainly with my boys and at myself.

"And never regret ANYTHING That makes you smile.” 
There are a few do-overs that I have contemplated and then dismissed-- and thankfully, nothing regrettable that accompanied a smile. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Day 3: Gratitude Journal: begin again

"The most sacred place dwells within our heart, where dreams are born and secrets sleep, a mystical refuge of darkness and light, fear and conquest, adventure and discovery, challenge and transformation. Our heart speaks for our soul every moment while we are alive. Listen... as the whispering beat repeats: be...gin, be...gin, be...gin. It's really that simple. Just begin... again."~ Royce Addington

Today I am grateful for the ability to start over. Now. And now. At any moment. Every moment!

Grateful that the person I was yesterday, last year or 10 years ago does not block or hinder me but is a reminder of how far I have traveled. I can come as I am, showing up for life. 

Grateful that I can find some humor in it all and embrace life with some sense of grace, knowing that even tomorrow I can be... gin. Just begin... again. 

Join us for 30 days of gratitude. Just be... gin. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Day 2: Gratitude Journal, everything is a miracle

Today, I am grateful to be alive. To be able to live with a sense of sacred awe for this life. 

I am also grateful for a lovely human and friend, Carl who throughout the time I've known him has strived to serve others and live what he believes. 

Gratitude overflows as I reflect on what I have learned from him: to take it easy on Sunday mornings; that the person in front of you is the most important; serving our country is a privilege, and it's our responsibility to honor those who do; that the main thing is not to hurry: Nothing good gets away; family is everything and to remember and respect your roots; to live as simply as possible; and love is always moving and it never forgets- Love – is life

I appreciate how we are all refections of the company we keep. When we sharpen one another, the best version of ourselves shine through. I still see miracles all around me. I hope you see miracles, too.

Join us for the 30 days of gratitude. Expect miracles. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Day 1: Gratitude Journal, the gift of grace

Today, the first day of 30 days of gratitude, I am reflecting yet again on the fullness of my life. Without regrets, I know that I am where I am today because I have made many turns in the road, some unexpected yet made without question, like following my ex-husband back to Asia to raise our children together. And other choices so gut-wrentching that I felt my heart would burst into a million pieces. Mending, I feel stronger and as self-assured as I did as a bright-eye 20-something. At nearly 43, there is something so reassuring about the passage of time and not questioning everything all the time but allowing an almost invisible hand in the shape of my heart to guide me along.

Today I am grateful to my ex-husband for offering me ladles of grace and a tremendous amount of support. Without him, I would not be able to teach, travel and enjoy so many of the freedoms that I do living in Asia. 

Along with that, I appreciate his family. I haven't always. They are quirky and the road to healing and understanding has been tremendously rocky for all of us. But, I have begun to see them in a new light, one of understanding. For the sweetness that they offer my son's, I am full of gratitude. 

And, today, I am simply grateful for the generosity of others. The understanding that there is no need to repay the grace but to simply say, "Thank you." Like Elizabeth Gilbert says, "...maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it's wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.”

Join me for 30 days of gratitude. It could change your life. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ulpotha, Sri Lanka: A Unique Retreat to Nature

Spending 2 weeks in an unspoiled lush canopy of green, hidden caves tucked within mountains and birds the color of Starbursts has me giddy with anticipation. Sri Lanka's beauty and Ulpotha's charm has me returning mid-November to offer yoga to students from all over the globe.

Similar to "glamping" (glamorous camping), Ulpotha is without Internet, electricity and except for the main house. Our haciendas are beautifully designed mud and grass huts all long narrow winding pathways all around the jungle property. All centered around an Ayurvedic center where the proceeds from treatments help support a clinic for local villagers.

Returning to nature and returning to self is the magnetic draw. The quiet stillness of the morning air as we enjoy local breakfast treats and fresh coconuts, followed by a luxurious in length therapeutic yoga class. Then, the day is designed by each person-- to rest, read a book in a hammock, enjoy a massage, experience authentic Ayurvedic treatments, swim, hike, bike, be alone or share time with new friends exploring? Anything seems possible. 2 beautiful meals each day are prepared with locally grown organic vegetables and rice which makes my mouth water recalling the delicious traditional spices used. Ending the day with another yoga session of either Thai yoga massage, fun partner yoga or a relaxing restorative session feels perfect.

Ulopotha, you beauty is vast. I cannot wait to see you again.

Join me?

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Yoga Therapy and Restorative Yoga

 "Real, lasting change usually begins with discomfort and 
ends with joy and respect for oneself." 
Nicolai Bachman
Just completed leading 7 days of yoga therapy and restorative yoga 7 at Yogshakti Teacher Training in Kuala Lumpur with 18 beautiful teachers from around the world yesterday. The biggest joy was watching each one of them expand their heart-mind, begin to grasp challenging anatomy and to integrate what they've learned as they practiced teaching with each other. 
Yoga therapy is a holistic approach to yoga that makes the practice accessible, self healing, and facilitates injury prevention. It's a process of discovering what works for you as the student and teacher. Combined with intention and clear direction, we learn how to skillfully recognize a student's needs by drawing on our intuition, experiences and awareness of what's happening now in a student's body. Poses can be Active (therapeutic) for learning more functional movement or they can be restful and restorative to promote relaxation and recuperation. 
Restorative yoga uses props as adaptations of traditional yoga postures in a passively supported way by filling any space between the student's body and the floor. The focus is not on stretching but rather releasing tension, increasing circulation, bringing comfort and cultivating stillness while noticing the breath. 

"I liked the way Melissa explained Anatomy as a functional yoga applied method. I loved all the teaching tools she offered for each pose with props, alternatives and other ways to see things."

"Melissa, thank you so much for a wonderful Yoga Therapy training. I have really enjoyed the group and the learning and feel so much more knowledgable in anatomy and postural assessment and of my own body's strengths and compensations. The restorative yoga sessions have been great and after struggling a bit to see how to integrate the yoga therapy approach into my practice and teaching, it now all seems to have fallen into place. With a big happy hug!" 

"I really enjoyed going through the set up and exploration of restorative poses and also working with my peers on the postural and yoga therapy assessments. The group energy and sharing, mantras and meditations were also highlights in this training for me."

"For me it was very useful to learn how to use props correctly for specific situations and to be able to make yoga accessible to all. Yoga Therapy will be a great addition to my personal experience and teaching." 

Email here for more info on the next Yoga Therapy training in Texas, Thailand or Malaysia.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

I sure love you.

Once buzzed in, I walked past the fish tank on the left when an unusually foul smell assaulted me from the bathroom tucked to the right of the corridor and revealed a half naked woman wrestling with a caregiver. 

I moved quickly through the next room where Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart were talking flirtively in black and white. Passed a silver haired shrunken woman in a blue top shuffling by while wringing her hands and stopped short as I turned the next corner and caught glimpse of her.

Marcee, August 2013
Seated in a simple striped shirt and usual smart jeans that gaped from her recent weight loss, she gazed out the window with her now dulled blue-brown speckled eyes. She didn't move to look at me as I sat down. 

I reached for her hand tentatively. Would she be upset by the unfamiliar touch? 

'Hi Marcee,' I said. 

We sat for a while, and I tried hard to get her to laugh or even look at me. I performed silly faces and talked out loud to her in what she must have interpreted as gibberish. It felt like chattering to someone who's ignoring you, only I knew she simply wasn't comprehending. Anything. 

A heavy emptiness fell between us. 

In desperation to connect, I reached to rub her shoulder as my dad suggested that she seemed to respond to his touch. Hopeful she'd acknowledge mine, too. She didn't seem to notice. 

Curious if she would sing along, I played the entire album from Diana Krall's greatest hits, one of her favorite jazz singers. My hopes were raised with a few fleeting moments of humming and the tapping of her foot to the beat. 

Peel me a grape, a song that used to make me giggle when I was younger, came on. Smiling through pooling tears, I leaned over and said, 'I sure love you.'

Marcee, August 2014
Suddenly her words, which up to this point were incoherent, were as clear as the song itself. 'You do?' she asked. 

I managed to whisper, 'Yes. Yes, I do.' 

Alzheimer’s is an insidious disease that slowly unravels the mind and the self. It shakes families to the core, and forces them to adapt in smart and meaningful ways. These four short documentary films explore that process. I recently watched A Place Called Pluto and was reminded of my step mother, Marcee's early stages of Alzheimer's. How she knew she had the disease, and yet couldn't quite articulate it as well as award-winning journalist Greg O’Brien can. She is now in the last stages of Alzheimer's. Everyone is unrecognizable to her, and she is completely incontinent and in need of help to eat.

Reading O'Brien's story is like diving into what must have been her thoughts, her fears, and her rage when this journey first began. The curse and the blessing of this is: she is a shell of a body with so little of her once vivacious personality left, and yet she no longer knows she has the disease. 

For the caregivers, for my father... my heart aches. For the ones embodying this disease, I simply pray the quality of life left will be full of dignity and ease. 

More than 5 million Americans are living with this disease. To make a difference, please get involved.

Marcee and me, August 2014

Marcee passed away, December 8, 2016. May her soul finally rest in peace. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

breath inside the breath

" 'Take your eyes away from the needle. Slow your breath, baby. Take a slow, long sip of air and exhale longer," I tell my 8 year old son who is undergoing chemo for tumor in his arm. Using imagination and breathing has helped his anxiety and calmed his butterfly stomach each week. On weeks where he doesn't focus on breathing, he often throws up before we even start treatment."

This is my yoga. The breath inside the breath."

Read more on Yoga Vibes:

Sunday, August 17, 2014

To Rest

The human brain is a glutton, constantly demanding 20 percent of all the energy the body produces. It's no wonder with all the digital impact we live with that we can never seem to turn it off. Unless of course, we need to recall something critical during a test or make an important quick decision. Or when we are in love, our wisdom and intuitive part of our brain appears to have hit the pause button. 

Oh the crazed choices I have made when love induced dopamine gave me a feeling of euphoria and clouded my senses. Over time though, that fortunately fades and the wisdom body kicks in. Suddenly, I realize how damn tired I am. How I have been spinning my wheels to please others or even a passionate attempt at doing what I love: yoga. 

Many things are good but there are paths that are more soul-quenching than others. 

I think I've found it within Rest.

"To rest is not self indulgent, to rest is to prepare to give the best of ourselves, and perhaps, most importantly, arrive at a place where we are able to understand what we have already been given."

Rest is an essential part of healthy brain function. In order to function optimally, at our best, we all have to have it. When life, kids or work demands I wake up and my body is not rested, I feel drained. I reach for things like coffee or plunge into naps at odd hours just to keep up. When I travel abroad, I'm usually so fatigued that I can sleep the entire 17 hour first flight. Entirely. Now that's tired. 

Lack of rest and adequate sleep can cause depression, weight gain, dull your brain, age your skin, health problems, disinterest in sex, and increase your risk of death. We all know the end of our story, but wouldn't it be a gift to ourselves and certainly to those we love to prolong our life by getting the rest our body is craving?

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” ~John Lubbock

Now home in Asia after months of traveling, I'm coming back to a routine of nurturing myself. Catching up on work emails, yes, but also making time for quiet, writing, a realistic yoga asana and pranayama practice, my kids, or just simply walking the dog without my phone. And, of course, sleep. Just doing life at it's normal rhythm without forcing things or over scheduling. Creating space for Rest.

From my favorite author and poet, Davide Whyte. He shares his definition of rest which resonates with my desire to return to inner stillness, breath and feeling whole again.

"REST is the conversation between what we love to do and how we love to be. Rest is the essence of giving and receiving. Rest is an act of remembering, imaginatively and intellectually but also physiologically and physically. To rest is to give up on the already exhausted will as the prime motivator of endeavor, with its endless outward need to reward itself through established goals. To rest is to give up on worrying and fretting and the sense that there is something wrong with the world unless we are there to put it right; to rest is to fall back literally or figuratively from outer targets and shift the goal not to an inner static bulls eye, an imagined state of perfect stillness, but to an inner state of natural exchange.
The template of natural exchange is the breath, the autonomic giving and receiving which is the basis and the measure of life itself. We are rested when we are a living exchange between what lies inside and what lies outside, when we are an intriguing conversation between the potential that lies in our imagination and the possibilities for making that internal image real in the world; we are rested when we let things alone and let ourselves alone, to do what we do best, breathe as the body intended us to breathe, to walk as we were meant to walk, to live with the rhythm of a house and a home, giving and taking through cooking and cleaning. When we give and take in this easy foundational way we are closest to the authentic self, and closest to that self when we are most rested. To rest is not self indulgent, to rest is to prepare to give the best of ourselves, and perhaps, most importantly, arrive at a place where we are able to understand what we have already been given."