Thursday, November 20, 2014
"Lay down your arms, and come without defense into the quiet place" - A Course in Miracles
Even though I've never read A Course in Miracles, I've read about it & this line in particular really resonates with me. I shared this quote with my students in class the other night.
"Lay down your arms, and come without defense into the quiet place"
Now, I don't carry a weapon, so of course I don't have actual armaments to lay down (and I'm pretty sure that's not what this is referring to anyway!) But most of us do spend a lifetime building up our defenses.
Yet, when you get on your mat to practice, that's exactly what you're asked to do...lay down your arms, drop your defenses - allow yourself to be open & vulnerable. Come into that quiet place within yourself, where there's peace & compassion.
If you've spent a lifetime building up your defenses & reinforcing them every chance you get, you may not even realize that there is a quiet place that exists within you. But with time & breath & practice, you find it. You learn that you can drop your defenses. You learn that you can be vulnerable & open. And sure, it's scarey at first. But it allows for so much to happen....change, growth, love....
When you become accustomed to laying down your arms on your mat, you can explore doing the same in your life. Instead of sitting down at the Thanksgiving table with a snarky comeback to something that you're just waiting for your sister to say...lay down your arms. Be full of Grace & Gratitude. Recognize that if you are different, it can create a ripple effect in the other people at that table & in your life. Now, it may not happen the first time. The first time, everyone may think you're just plain nuts! But with consistency & strength, its inevitable that change will occur. Either the people at that table will start to change. Or you'll change so much that you find yourself at a different table with different people next year...you'll find yourself someplace better.
Your mat is a safe place to practice laying down your arms. It the perfect spot to practice coming into that quiet place. It's amazing to feel that transformation within yourself. But it's even more amazing to take this practice off your mat & experience the change that can happen around you.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
I love chocolate. I love raw chocolate, or cacoa. I put it in my smoothie almost every day - it's a super food & its really good for you.
When I was at Wanderlust this summer, one of the food vendors, Pizza to the People (http://www.pizzatothepeople.net/), was selling chia seed mousse. It was amazing! I had experimented with chia seed puddings before, but their's blew mine away. (check them out if you're in CT - great, great food!)
The first day I had it, I was starving! I wolfed down one serving & almost immediately went back for another. Why not?! It was delicious, it was good for me:) I got about half way through & realized...I was full. I realized I was actually full after the first serving. I just hadn't paused long enough to feel that I was full.
This happens alot, to alot of us. We eat because we can. We eat whatever we want, just about whenever we want. I say I was starving that day at Wanderlust, but I wasn't really. Thankfully I don't know what it feels like to really be starving. I was hungry, sure. But I had eaten once already that day. I didn't eat so fast that I didn't even taste the mousse - I tasted it alright. And it tasted so good I wanted more! But then I just rushed on to the next serving.
Mindful eating can be a wonderful, enjoyable experience. What I realized that day, was that we don't do a whole lot of that. I know I don't do alot of that. I eat because I want to, not because I need to. Most of the time, I do actually taste my food. But there are times when I'm rushed & distracted & I don't. I know I take food for granted. And so it becomes a practice. Mindfulness when eating is just like mindfulness in anything in life - on or off your mat. It's being present for the experience. It's feeling gratitude for what you have.
I was very grateful for that chia seed mousee & for the recipe!! By request, here's my adapted recipe:
1/4 chia seeds
1 cup milk (almond or coconut)
1-2 TBS raw cacoa
1-2 TBS melted coconut oil
1-2 TBS maple syrup
Add chia seeds to blender & run blender to break them down. Then add milk, cacoa & maple syrup & blend thoroughly. Once blended, add melted coconut oil to blender.
Yup. It's that simple.
I enjoy topping it with a sprinkle of raisins, cacoa nibs, nuts & even chocolate chips for an extra treat.
Try it! And savor each bite!!
Monday, September 15, 2014
I do most of the cleaning in my studio, with help from my family & some volunteers.
For the first couple years, I washed the studio floor with a mop. It doesn't take all that long, but it felt like I never had time to do it. It felt like just one more thing that I needed to do.
Then I scored a robot floor cleaner for a great price....we named him Scooby, after one of our favorite cartoon dogs. He's awesome. Fill him up, turn him on & watch him clean. He does an amazing job. And he saves me times.
Then one day he stopped working. Nothing major, as it turned out. But until we straightened him out, I went back to cleaning the studio floor with a mop.
Here's what I discovered...I like cleaning the floor. I decided that it didn't really take that long. That it wasn't a big deal. I love my studio. And I decided that cleaning the floor meant that I was giving my studio some love & attention & care that it needed to keep it bright & shiny.
Nothing had changed...except my attitude, and so everything changed.
You can do with anything in your life. Traffic, doing laundry, a weekly meeting at work. Things outside you don't have to change, but shifting your attitude changes your entire experience.
We practice it alot in yoga. Mostly in the poses you've decided don't like. They're too hard, they're no fun. Shift how you feel about a pose & immediately the pose feels different.
So now I enjoy the time it takes to clean my studio floor. That's my yoga off my mat.
Tuesday, July 22, 2014
One of the amazing things about the internet is that you can share your opinion on any subject with thousands (or more) people all over the world. Anyone who has access to the web, can write just about whatever they want. Just about anyone has a chance to be heard. Pretty amazing.
I see alot of stuff pop up about what people don't like, or what they think other people are doing wrong...why they hate yoga, what's wrong with parents in this country, why you shouldn't be a vegan...the list goes on.
It's cool - freedom of speech, right? It's empowering & sharing opinions is interesting. We are a diverse people - it makes life interesting, for sure. And a really opinionated blog or post gets people fired up, it gets attention, it's exciting.
It gets people talking & blogging & posting more...it's gets people thinking. And then people begin to take sides. "I'm right - you're wrong". We become divided & separated from each other.
Diversity is wonderful - thank goodness for all if it. Different opinions & contrast make for an interesting life. But beneath the superficial differences, we're the same. We are all energy & light & yes, love. We are all just trying to do our best, in different ways.
Can you voice your opinion without being divisive? I think you can. I love yoga! I love the style of yoga I teach. Does that mean everyone needs to practice my style of yoga? Does that mean if you're not practicing my style of yoga I'm better than you? Of course not! I like to think that I'm practicing something that helps me be a better person & maybe can help me make this world a better place. Don't we all want that? Does it matter if it's yoga, or going to church, or doing cross fit?
What if we spent more time trying to find ways to identity what we have in common. What if we spent more time trying to find common ground, ways to unify. It may not attract as much attention, but that's my yoga off my mat.