Saturday, December 15, 2012

Let Go and Let Love


"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Letting go of those you love, losing those you love and having faith in the power of the universe is a tough lesson for all of us.  I know in my heart, the loss of a child is the worst kind of woe and we are all children of the universe. We create to carry on, to grow, and to have a legacy.  When a soul is gone before there is a chance to live, we are left with a hole so deep it is hard to imagine ever clawing your way out.  I am deeply saddened by those who are poisoned in heart and mind, feeling trapped by their thoughts with emotions of hate and despair. Their wrath is great, acts of violence stimulated by their fear and negative energy wraps around us all. I am in mourning for those families who have been touched by disaster, devastation, tragedy and senseless loss, for their lives will never be the same.  Even though these people are strangers to me, they are my neighbors and I feel their loss as if it were my own. I send love, light, and hope for their future and dream of a day when we can all live in peace and the world can live as one.
Love, hold my hand
Help me see with the dawn 
That those that have left 
Are not gone 
But they carry on 
As stars looking down 
As nature's sons 
And daughters of the heavens 
You will not ever be forgotten by me 
In the procession of the mighty stars 
Your name is sung and tattooed now on my heart 
Here I will carry, carry, carry you 

Forever

You have touched my life
So that now
Cathedrals of sound are singing, are singing
The waves have come to walk with you
To where you live in the land of you,
Land of You
You will not ever be forgotten by me
In the procession of the mighty stars
Your name is sung and tattooed now on my heart 

Here I will carry, carry, carry you 
Here I will carry, carry, carry you 

Forever.


Tori Amos

Your inner island


"Don't cast away your inner island, don't cast away. Don't cast away your inner island. Your inner island, inner island.  Where you went as a child, is where you long to go, still. Where you went as a child, is where you long to go, still. Don't cast away."          El Perro Del Mar

There is an inner voice that speaks to us before we speak out to others. Taking time to pause, and listen to that inner voice is an undervalued virtue. Too quickly do we express our negative reactions to experiences, judging others and ourselves harshly. Inevitably the voice that speaks out too quickly is heard wrong or taken out of context, and we begin to regret it immediately. For me, I will often look back and obsess over what I said, or how I said it, reliving the moment in my head and kicking myself for it. Speaking from the heart, softly, quietly, respectfully and truthfully is rarely done especially when passion, fear or anger is involved. The way we say things is most important in the efforts of expression.  Verbal tone, choice of words and quality of communication can build walls or tear them down. I know from my own personal experience that it is with our most intimate family or friends that we fall short of this.  It is easy to forget, we have so much to remember in caring for ourselves and others while functioning in a stressful world day to day. We need to say what we mean, mean what we say, but don't say it mean.

Within us there is light and there is shadow.  Our light is made up of those parts of our being that have been commended, accepted and loved.  This light shines brighter when we acknowledge these qualities in ourself and in others.  Our darkness or shadow side is made up of those parts of our being that we experience as unacceptable.  Our families, friends and culture make it known early on which qualities are not valued or accepted.  We learn through our experiences, having been scolded, ignored, rejected, hurt or pushed away.  Dwelling on the feelings of shame and anger intensify our fears and disconnect us from others, we feel misunderstood and our natural coping emotions become buried deep within us.  Connecting with our mistakes, our fears, our regrets can only strengthen our light.  Remembering our own flawed moments of self-judgment and blame opens the door to forgiveness.  We need to forgive ourselves, love ourselves and listen to ourselves.  Create space for compassion within our hearts and minds.  Make room for love and patience in your daily activities. Pause, listen, and speak from the heart. Come back to your inner island, your self, the child within and feel life.  

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Well Respected Man

"And I know, I know you will keep me on the shelf, I'll come back to you someday soon myself."
R. Pecknold


When I was seventeen, I met the man I would eventually marry. He was full of happiness, creativity, uniqueness and individuality.  His caring and compassionate nature was exemplified in one simple action; offering me his shirt on a cool summer night.  That was all I needed to fall; warmth and protection. The boyfriends I had before were only superficial images of what I wanted them to be. Boys with physical qualities I found attractive, dark hair, blue eyes, glasses, and a strong healthy build.  For me, there was a need for the superhero quality in a man. A Clark Kent to Superman transition that would allow for safety and strength in the real world. A man who could be tender and step it up to defend when needed. Life isn't this simple, and there isn't a man able to fit into any woman's idea of perfect. But I was young and had romantic ideas of love, not fully understanding what is needed in a sustainable and healthy relationship.

Nineteen years later, I have a husband who loves me, believes in me, trusts me, matches the duties of parenthood and upholds the balance of what it means to stay strong, work hard and still find beauty in life.  A spouse who believes in marriage equality, changes diapers, folds laundry and keeps up with the housecleaning.  A father who comes home on time, if not early, with open arms full of hugs and kisses.  A kind, patient, generous man deserving of all respect and the gifts that life has to offer.  True superhero qualities in a man.

With a pact of love, a marriage commitment, and two beautiful children, this full and rich life seems to be missing something.  The day to day grind, work stress, financial troubles combined with insomnia and the physical demands of caring for two crazy boys leaves little time for self care, togetherness without interruption, and a moment to think a thought all the way through.  Late nights, parties, shows and spontaneous romance are vague and distant memories. Our lives are in tandem, balancing work, child care and home. The moments we have as husband and wife are few and when we can be together, sleep is the overpowering need.  Life changes constantly and recognizing what is happening now and not judging or reacting negatively is the challenge.  Make peace with the way things exist and find happiness there. The events occurring in life allow us to piece together our whole self, including the opportunity to see what is bigger than ourselves.

Where does the time go?  When there is a quiet moment and we close our eyes can we remember who we were, who we are now and who we want to be?  We need to remember ourselves and celebrate the journey that led us to this destination. If not living truthfully now, what do our children witness as a result.  Live for happiness and pursue passion and love. These baby years move quickly, soon our boys will be older and ready for adventure.  I know my husband will thrive in the wild with them and he will come back to himself.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Rise Up

"And I rise like a bird, in the haze when the first rays touch the sky." 
Waters and Gilmour

As I climb the stairs to the yoga studio where I teach and practice at, I am filled with gratitude.  Laying out my yoga mat, I remember all the people who support me in my efforts to find inner calm.  The benefits of my practice extend outward, in my actions and reactions to family and friends.  My mind is able to focus and I feel I have been given time and space to just be.  This is my life in balance.

In any group class, there is a common goal of learning and experiencing.  While I sit, connect to breath, I notice individual thoughts arise, scatter, and melt away.  The wisdom and offerings conveyed by the soothing voice of my teacher remind me that I am not alone in the struggles of life.  There is a balance to achieve and strive towards.  There is wisdom, strength, and compassion in shared moments of stillness, a quiet space to feel the connectedness of all that is around us.  Beside me, others are stretching out their worries and responsibility, easing their way into coordinating movement and breath.  I know they have the pressures of work, or finding work, as well as, family and friends that require attention and care, just like me.

We all need food, water, warmth, love and support around us to survive.  When there is an abnormal level of imbalance, then life spins out of control.  We look outward to find happiness, rather than inward.  Relying on an external source to give us freedom from stress, worry, loneliness, or sadness is only temporary.  Sooner or later, the issues arise and need to be dealt with.  The beauty of acknowledging the need to fight is the beginning of letting go.

We can learn from those around us, draw from their opinions, experiences and knowledge.  Sharing and communicating thoughts and feelings brings us closer to one another.  We are all one living, breathing, being reaching toward a common goal.  Rise up, take your happiness, connect with others in similar situations, know you are not alone.

Lying on my back, with the weight of my body sinking down into the earth, I relax my physical body and awaken my mind to my breath.  This is the first jewel of yoga, inner wakefulness, knowledge and wisdom, known as the Buddha.  Inhale followed by exhale, thoughts move in and thoughts move out.  Softly and slowly, I turn on my side and pause.  This is the second jewel of yoga, becoming aware of my surroundings and reawakening my internal life to my external life, known as the Dharma.  With my eyes closed, I sit up, open my heart and press my palms together.  I bow my head and thank myself for my practice, aware that this time is a gift.  The third jewel of yoga, known as the Sangha, is the connection of life, sharing, supporting, and trusting ourselves and one another.  Knowing we are all finding our path under the great big sky.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Transitions

September is a time of transition for me and many others. There is a settling back into the rhythm of life, schedule and routine.  It feels good to fall back in line and proceed strong and sure.  With the complications and details that exist in our everyday lives, the best way to cope is to attempt to make it easy, to go with the flow.  Keep things simple, clear and feeling free.  Even with the unexpected, broken down cars, delays in work, stress can build when things don't go as planned.  But life can be liberating in the challenges, enjoyable and spontaneous in its true essence if you open yourself up to the day and let it unfold.


"Beneath the one who is busy is one who is not busy."


At the beginning of this month, I started a new job.  Even though I have many years experience in my field, I still feel the sense of settling and adjustment that comes with a new environment and new people.  The job is more challenging in many ways, but opening to a new way to do old tasks is refreshing.  I focus into this moment, observing and being present.  I don't create stress in my head over things that need to get done at work or at home.  Stay true, do the best you can, follow through, but don't take on more than you can handle.  Sometimes, it's okay to not do it all.  Creating this shift in my perception feels as if a weight has been lifted.  

One of my yoga teachers says, "Take the day inside of you, feel it, breathe it and let it radiate out from within you." Taking the time to notice and be in your environment, wind or rain, snow or shine.
Finding balance in life is a constant struggle, when I look back on these years, I want to remember the everyday blessings of being with my boys.  Driving away from them to go to work is already hard, when I come home I focus on being fully present in their lives.  I want them to remember being together, laughing, playing, talking and snuggling.  Enjoy the time we have, connect with nature, feel the seasons change.  When I was young, time seemed to move more slowly. I want my boys to linger and find joy in their lives.  In this culture of busyness, it is the quiet moments of inactivity that are longed for.



TRANSITION 
It is the gap of transition that shakes us.  Those moments before true movement has been achieved, that bring us to a level of uncertainty.  Let us embrace those moments when change has not yet come.  In quiet mindful moments the transition shall appear.  As we open up our hearts to the silence, we are now willing to hear.
R. Masiewicz



Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Stand Tall

"Turn your face to the sun and the shadows follow behind you."
~ Maori Proverb


Like the bloom of the sunflower that turns her face toward the sun, I too must rise every morning and face my day.   My achy body and weary head must persevere.  I need to to find strength, courage and inspiration.  My husband and my boys are my anchors, and it is for them I count my blessings. Health, home, safety, nourishment, comfort, work and love.  I can provide for my family and spend time laughing with friends.  The constant reminder of honoring and enjoying what we have now, as it can be gone tomorrow.  The cycle of life and death is known, but seems to hit hard when it happens to us personally.  Sadness and loss are part of life.  I choose to make an effort, to show up to my life and not be afraid.

My grandmother lived to be 90 years old.  She was a woman of strength, independence, faith, story, song, and stage.  A loving daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt, grandmother and great-grandmother. She was a writer, a poet, a musician, caregiver, and friend.  Our life is a constant discovery of who and what we are.  The moments we have with people turn into memories, they shape and mold us into thinking, feeling and being.

We must not give up, but surrender to the unknown.  Stand tall with a strong stalk and feel the wind move you, but do not falter.  Allow for flexibility, spontaneity and the beauty of your day to unfold.  Take the good with the bad and open yourself to what you need to grow.  Stay attentive to what is happening to us and in us.  Mistakes are inevitable and become important lessons.  Finding balance is the backbone of life.  Carry memories of people and experience with you.  Hold love, peace, patience and forgiveness in your heart.  Believe in yourself.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sit

Lately, I have been longing to linger, to stay, to sit.  My yoga practice has made more room for my mind and the calm I have received is a true gift.  If sitting, breathing, and noticing helps me to enjoy life, find patience and be more present for my family and friends, then I have to find the time to sit.

The Compassion and Understanding of Kuan Yin
My husband finds it funny that I can't even sit through a movie, let alone sit purposefully and with clarity.  I would like to sit still long enough to have a connection to my breath and my inner self.  To strengthen and cultivate meditation is a rhythm that needs to be a constant in every day life, like brushing my teeth.  I have been on retreats with a focus on meditation, and I incorporate mindfulness based meditation into my yoga classes.  There are some yoga poses that bring in the energy of stillness, as in the practice of yin yoga, which focuses on holding and staying with physical sensation, breathing and noticing changes that inevitably arise.  For me, this type of yoga practice has been a window into the world of meditation.  In true yogic spirit, the postures lead the mind and body into the ability to be still, listen, and to be aware of the breath.

There has been extensive research and documented benefits of meditation.  Dr. Herbert Benson, a Harvard Medical School professor, has studied meditation and found the effects to stimulate the relaxation response, bringing about decreased stress levels, lower blood pressure, and improved sleep and heart function.  Stress can interfere with our body's natural balance, making us less immune to disease and infection.  Relaxation, clarity, calmness and kindness allows our bodies to be in a state conducive to healing and accepting of love.

I have learned and practiced only two types of meditation, both of which bring me back from my wayward thoughts and endless to - do lists made in my head.  Vippassana meditation, or insight meditation is a detached observation of the mind and body from moment to moment. This includes any technique that cultivates insight, including contemplation, introspection, observations of bodily sensations (I use the breath) and lived experiences.  Loving kindness meditation is a more focused technique that offers a way to wish ourselves and others well.  It acts as a form of Reiki by sending out signals of energy rooted in love, and stands by the belief that all living things are interconnected.

It can start with phrases such as:

May I/We be well.
May I/We be free from suffering.
May I/We be free from greed, hatred and delusion.
May I/We live lovingly.
May I/We be peaceful and at ease.
May I/We be safe.
May I/We be happy.
May I/We become wise and compassionate.

The transition of meditation is noted in stages from the self, to others, and then to all living beings.

Resources:
The Relaxation Response Herbert Benson
Mindfulness in Plain English  B.H. Gunaratana

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Acceptance

"Thou art the Iris, fair among the fairest, who armed with golden rod and winged with celestial azure, bearest the message of some God."  H.W. Longfellow
These last few weeks have been difficult for myself and my family.  My Aunt fought a tough battle with cancer, and her life will be celebrated in every memory I have.  She was beautiful inside and out. She was an artist and had an amazing visual connection in life.  Her spirit was generous and her heart was full of love.

To be faced with only a few days left, my Aunt stayed strong, graceful, calm and somehow kept her sense of humor through it all.  She was living true mindfulness with each breath, moment to moment.

Being mindful is to be fully present, aware and awake.  To pay attention to each experience without resistance, without judgment, and without over analyzing.  Death and grief is an unwelcome situation.  It may seem that working through our grief will bring more pain, but the reality is that resisting can only deepen and prolong our pain.  Any attempt to find acceptance, calm, and peace will set us free.

Whenever there is loss, there is sadness.  To make sense of the situation seems to hold no solace.  It doesn't make it any easier to mourn, but serves as a constant reminder of how precious and fragile life is.  Say what you mean in the moment, love and let love in.  Happiness and hope is the only way.  A life worth living, is a life worth honoring.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Finding My Way

I have found being a mother is hard; but being a working mother is even harder.  There are some days I just can't do it all, I feel pulled in many directions.  I try to not bring my work home with me, but when I am struggling with a difficult issue, my mind is not in the present.  I can't focus on immediate tasks and I am quick and impatient with my children.  I need to step back, remove myself (if possible) and gain a different perspective.  Writing has always helped me, but if I don't write it out immediately I can hold on to it.  Lately, I will talk it out with a friend or a family member, which helps to not take my troubles out on others, in voice or action.  Sometimes, I am too hard on myself, judging my actions harshly and with anger.  As I strive to speak kindly and respect others, the true gift of love and compassion has to be given to myself.  It is that sympathetic energy which nourishes and showers our spirit with joy.


Live one day at a time
Keep attention in the present
Have no expectations
Make no judgments
Let go


I honor of Mother's Day, take time for yourself and care for your mind, body and spirit.  Do something that makes you happy.  Put a smile on your face, breathe deeply and with intention.  Enjoy the outdoors, get into nature, take a walk, ride a bike or work in your garden.  Have coffee or tea with a friend.  Take an exercise class, try yoga, get a massage, indulge in a beauty treatment, enjoy a hot bath or shower and relax.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Helping

Baking with my 3 year old requires patience and letting go.  You have to experience it with all your senses, and plan to make a mess.  Little ones love to help, it is a lesson for both and a wonderful way to grow and understand together. How does your child think? How do they process sequential events? How do you create a bond of trust?

Listening and sharing builds a strong foundation of confidence and self-esteem in a child. It enhances a loving relationship, sets ground rules for the future, and a creates a beautiful moment of togetherness. Cooking and baking together instills the very foundation of caring for the self, nurturing a love for healthy eating and wholesome creations. I have so many warm memories of baking with my Grandmother and my Mother. When I put together a few ingredients, the taste and the smell of them remind me of their love.

I found this recipe for oatmeal cookies in my search for an allergen free dough, it is also adaptable for gluten free.  The best part is you can eat it raw, because no matter how many times you say, "Don't eat the dough!" They do it anyway....


Vegan Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup quick cooking rolled oats
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (gluten free: rice flour, almond flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Combine the dry ingredients and set aside.

3/4 cup safflower oil (vegetable, canola, or flax seed oil)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon molasses
1/4 cup dried fruit, nuts or seeds

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, dough will be crumbly.  Fold the dried fruit, nuts or seeds.  Using your hands, roll tablespoon-size scoops of dough into balls.  Press down on the balls to flatten the tops.  Bake cookies on a parchment paper lined baking sheet for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly browned.  Cool cookies completely, they will be crumbly.

Get creative with add-ins of your choice; chocolate chips, and finely shredded coconut.  The texture of these cookies add a nice crunch to a cup of yogurt or fruit too.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Giving

"And the tree was happy...."
The most amazing accomplishment in my life has been becoming a mother to my beautiful boys.  It is a challenge and the greatest joy I have ever experienced. My heart hurts when I think of them feeling pain, sadness, or loss.  My rational mind knows this is inevitable, and realizes how important it is for them to feel such discomfort.  My emotions can be overwhelming, even my happiness can appear as sadness to them as my eyes start to tear up with a kiss, hug, or a laugh.  I am sentimental, and hold on to things that remind me of a special day or feeling.  Bittersweet moments of my ordinary days linger lovingly in the journals I have kept for them.

My favorite time of the day with my boys is story time.  We snuggle into bed and read a couple books together.  I set my littlest boy on my left and my older boy on my right.  Typically, the larger, brightly illustrated books are winners and engage them both in rapt attention, but today we read, 'The Giving Tree' by Shel Silverstein.  I had never read this one out loud to them before and found myself with so many mixed emotions by the middle of the book, I had to compose myself in an effort to finish it.  This small story brought me to tears as I reflected on my actions growing up with my parents, and then becoming a parent.  I remember the love that my parents have given and continue to give to me, and now, give to my boys.  I feel ashamed at my selfish ways and reactions to their love.  I understand so much more now, and am humbled by the knowledge of it all.  I have never experienced a love so great that I didn't expect anything in return, until I had my boys.

Although Silverstein's story has some differing interpretations, I identified with the selfless giving tree and understood its happiness when the boy came back, and to give him all that he desired.  Another layer can be added by staying connected to my children.  Fulfilling all aspects of mind, body, and spirit for myself, sharing what I know and what I have with my boys, in hopes they will sustain and fulfill themselves.  Attention, time, and discovery between each other is the blessing, creating moments of real love.  Giving of yourself should feel good and when it is true, it nourishes and sustains us through difficult times in life.

Right now, I can only imagine my boys around me, wanting and needing me.  Although, I crave for solitary moments in my day, just to breathe, think, shower, or go to the bathroom.  I know that this time is a gift, it will change and evolve into something different.  As a new parent I have and will make mistakes.  I try to focus on love, discipline, support and guidance for myself, so I will have the tools to share the most important things with them when they are ready to receive them.  The precious moments I have with them now will soon be few and far between.  Already, my older son isn't hugging me goodbye when I am off to work, as he is too busy to tear himself away from play.  I am happy he is excited and curious to discover, and enjoy all life has to offer, but I am grateful I have another little baby to adore for another couple of years.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Loving Kindness

In my ongoing efforts to be a calm, happy, mother, wife, and working woman, I attempt to embody the four Noble Truths in buddhist philosophy: suffering exists, attachment causes suffering, suffering can end and there is a path to end it.  The Divine Abodes of loving kindness, along with compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity are important tools to assist us in finding a release and a way of ending our suffering.  Moving out of unhappiness into wisdom and joy is possible with one wish for ourselves and others, 'May all beings be happy and free from suffering.'

Prayer for Loving Kindness

May you be filled with loving kindness
May you be peaceful and at ease
May you be well
May you be happy

I try to remember this at work, throughout my day, and when my older son continues to whine, not listen, and scream his way to what he wants.  In his world, there is only passion and desire to be fulfilled.  My attention, be it positive or negative, is what he craves.  Life is diverse, complicated and confusing on best days, there are challenges and stressors everywhere.  I speak from a truthful heart, sometimes I am quick to judge, angry, bitter, guilty, or sad.  The raw emotions of my children are real and my reaction to them is not always calm, clear, or loving.  I may be holding on to a situation from work, thinking over a discussion with a friend, or coming to a decision about an important life matter.  Practicing the art of cultivating loving relations with all living things is one path to follow. My husband is a constant support to me, as I am to him.  When I react quickly, raise my voice, and take my day out on him, I am not practicing loving kindness.  I am being selfish, as I do not know what he has experienced throughout his day.  Take a moment to look at the other side, there is always another way to see things.

Our relationships with children, partners, family, friends, foes, co-workers, and strangers offer us many opportunities to utilize the Divine Abodes.  When we truly love another, it is easy to be happy when they are happy, to feel sadness when they feel sadness.  The act of loving kindness is effortless as we feel compassion and sympathetic joy.  It is most difficult to practice these efforts with our enemies.  Let go, stay free of attaching yourself, try to acknowledge, love and support without becoming one with the situation, emotion or person.  There is so much unknown in this world, we have no real control over anything, but we do have the power to stay calm and react respectfully, with compassion, and kindness.

"So if you wake up to the sunrise, and all your dreams are still as new, and happiness is what you need so bad, the answer lies with you." ~ Page & Plant

Monday, April 9, 2012

Patience

What if an act of patience had the ability to change the outcome of events in your life?  A small hesitation before moving toward something, pausing before answering a question or statement, sitting with an uncomfortable feeling for a while before reacting to it.  I find the quicker I respond or act, the more I worry or agonize over what I could have done differently.  Living in the past instead of the present, offers no growth and only disillusions us to what our future can offer.

"Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there someday." A.A. Milne

Teaching patience to my little ones is a challenge in itself, especially when I am still learning it.  The simple moments in our daily life offer an opportunity to learn, listen, and practice patience.  With an infant and a toddler that crave my immediate attention, my time is spread thin.  I need to speak with truth and clarity, keep it simple and communicate exactly what is happening and what will happen.  Children interpret what you say literally, and figuratively.  As explained by Sarah Napthalie, "listening can be a form of meditation requiring concentration, restraint and a degree of silence."  If we want our children to listen, it starts with our ability as parents to practice the same openness and patience we expect from our children.

My older son experiences many situations where he can practice patience. Today, I couldn't get breakfast together in our usual way, as I was delayed.  Hunger rage was in full effect.  My effort to communicate begins with, "patience, grasshopper."  We have been using this imagery for a while now as it was inspired from friends.  It is fun to say and envisioning a fast, jumping, grasshopper being patient mimics a toddler being still and listening.  On another level, patience teaches us the value of sitting with discomfort.  All life is filled with suffering, this is one of the first Noble Truths of buddhist philosophy.  As we sit and experience a thought or feeling that is uncomfortable, the value of impermanence is alive and well.  Impermanence is knowing that everything must and will change into something else.  Experiences vary in intensity and form, practicing patience assists that energy to pass.  I want my children to grow into responsible, strong, loving, kind, and compassionate people.  Teaching my children that they will have to experience discomfort of the mind, body or spirit is important in creating a favorable outcome.  There is unknown joy and surprise in life, experiencing it fully allows us to explore, observe and notice every moment.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Measures of Mindfulness


Be happy.

Be grateful and thankful for everything.

Inner beauty reflects outer beauty.

Find your true self, speak from your heart, and communicate in a loving and nurturing way.

Strive toward your highest potential and enjoy it.

You have the possibility to make anything good become great.

Create art from everyday life.

Tend to daily tasks in a meditative way.

Simplify as much as possible.

Stay organized, efficient, lighthearted and flexible, enjoy the spontaneity in life.

Be kind to yourself and others, encourage compassionate self talk.

Respect yourself; respect others.

Value the dignity of all life.

Allow every action to be rooted in love.

Be patient.

Let go of worry, fear and anxiety.

Believe in Truth.

Your whole life is a discovery of who you are; find your passion and pursue it ferociously.

See the difficult moments in life as a challenge and an opportunity to grow stronger and confident.

The expression of love is the most powerful healer of all.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Reiki Energy

Anahata


One of my students recently asked, "What is Reiki?" my attempt to respond after class in a simple and broad statement about a complex system of healing leads me to this post.

Reiki
REI (ray) means universal
KI (key) means life force energy

The Chinese identify this energy as Chi (chee), in India it is called Prana (prah-na), and the Japanese know it as Ki (key).  Reiki is a gentle Japanese technique used to transfer universal life force energy through various hand positions over the body.  Reiki is a subtle form of energy work that can be done hands on, hands above, or across a distance.  The energy transferred goes wherever it is needed in your physical, mental, or energetic systems.  Reiki promotes the relaxation response; activating the autonomic nervous system to lower blood pressure and heart rate, relieving tension and anxiety.  Reiki augments the immune systems defenses and stimulates the production of endorphins, decreasing pain perception and creating a sense of well being.  Reiki addresses both chronic and acute conditions, gently and powerfully promoting and restoring balance to all the systems of the body and the regenerative processes of the mind.  Many hospitals and medical clinics are recognizing the benefits of Reiki and offering it as a healing option in their facilities.

The practice of Reiki is based on the teachings of a Japanese monk, Dr. Mikao Usui, who taught and practiced Reiki in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  The origins of Reiki are found in the Tibetan sutras, cosmology, and philosophy.  Quantum physics has demonstrated that all substance is composed of invisible energy fields.  These energy systems sustain the body and mind.  The chakra-nadi system (India) and the acupuncture meridian system (China) are two ancient models describing the flow of universal life force energy through the body.  These energy fields are known as Chakras, which is Sanskrit for wheels, as these energy fields are believed to be moving and spinning.  There are seven major chakras located from the base of the spine to the crown of the head.  They correspond to endocrine glands and the six major nerve plexuses of the body.  Conditions of imbalance are thought to be rooted in the human energy patterns, Reiki offers the possibility of bringing a healing balance back to the body and mind.

For more information and links on this subject:

The Original Reiki Handbook of Dr. Mikao Usui ~ Dr. Usui and F. A. Petter

Reiki Energy Medicine: Bringing the Healing Touch into Home, Hospital and Hospice ~ L. Barnett, M. Chambers, and S. Davidson

www.reikienergy.com

For an opportunity to experience a wonderful Reiki session contact:

Michelle Heron RN, BSN, E-RYT
Kripalu Yoga Teaher
Yin Yoga & Mindfulness
Certified Usui Reiki Master

978 314 1156
heronyoga@gmail.com


Reiki I $100 3 hour session with initial attunement, focusing on self-healing and the ability to perform Reiki on others.

Reiki II $200 3 hour session with 2nd attunement, focusing on harnessing Reiki for travel over time and distance.

Reiki III $300 3-4 hour session with 3rd attunement, open discussion of Reiki treatment, fine tuning chakra awareness using crystals, and grids.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mind ~ Body ~ Breath



Yoga is the union of mind, body, and breath.  Utilizing gravity, the body can be manipulated into various postures enhancing the flow of energy.  Yoga affects the whole body, the poses produce a balanced foundation for the breath to move in and out.  My yoga practice is based on two distinct styles of yoga, of which there are many more.  My training is built on the principles of Kripalu (Krih-PAH-loo) yoga and my advanced training focus is on Yin yoga and Mindfulness Meditation.

Yoga is a return to wholeness.  Kripalu yoga is a compassionate, conscious practice of breath and movement through postures, meditation, relaxation, sensation, experience, and expression.  The practice of yoga lies in the understanding of Prana (life force energy) as a link between the mind, body, and spirit.  Kripalu yoga begins with listening to the wisdom of your body, focusing your mind on your breath while moving through various postures.  For your mind, the breath work can calm restless thoughts, cultivate concentration and support mental clarity and confidence.  For your body, the postures stretch and tone, release chronic tension and unlock hidden stress within the muscles.  For your spirit, the union of mind, body, and breath can encourage self acceptance, honor inner wisdom and invite peace.  A regular yoga practice initiates a process of personal transformation.  It is important to practice yoga with a caring and non-judgmental awareness of self.

There are three stages of Kripalu yoga:
1. Body and Breath awareness
2. Focusing Inward
3. Meditation in Motion

There are five elements of awareness in Kripalu yoga that enhance the practice.

~ BREATHE ~ RELAX ~ FEEL ~ WATCH ~ ALLOW ~

www.kripalu.org

Yin yoga consists of holding various poses for several minutes.  Yin yoga is preventative, nourishing, regenerative, stimulating, and balancing.  These holding poses stimulate energetic meridians which flow through the connective tissues of the body.  Meridians are pathways of energy that continuously flow through the body.  These pathways carry Qi (chi, pronounced chee) which is defined as energy, vitality, and the universal force in all life.  These energetic pathways are invisible, a comprehensive network of flowing that links all substances and organs of the body.  The pathways are unseen but embody a physical reality.  Illness is the body's way of communicating that one or more of these pathways do not have the proper amount  or the correct quality of energy flowing through it.  The care and strength of the meridian system is essential for maintaining the harmonious balance of the mind, body, spirit connection.  Before each meridian can be in harmony with other pathways, it has to be in harmony with itself.  This leads to the balance of yin and yang energy.  Yin yoga is a wonderful way to warm up the body before a yang practice, pranayama (breathing exercises), or meditation.  Yin yoga can draw insight into the body by staying and breathing into a pose while acknowledging sensations or feelings that may arise.  This act of moment to moment awareness in the postures is mindfulness.  Mindfulness is the direct registry of what is happening in us and to us at successive moments of our experience, without going into reaction for or against what we notice.

Tonight I am teaching for the first time in three months, since I had my second baby.  It has been twelve years since my first yoga class, I remember everything and how it kept me wanting more.  I have been teaching and guiding group yoga classes for seven years.  Attempting to re-inspire my skills, I am going back to those first days of practice that brought me increased strength and poise, while decreasing stress and anxiety.  Teaching yoga has given me a new reflection into my personal practice.  Connecting the mind with the breath to the action of the body, sparks intuition and alters perception from which creativity is born.  Let go, embrace truth, beauty, transform and breathe.

To share in a yoga class with me, please visit www.yogamandala.com for details.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Life Begins Now

Mindfulness refers to a quality that involves bringing one's complete attention to the present experience on a moment-to-moment basis.  To pay attention in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.

Hope for the Flowers


In this moment, my maternity leave for my second son is coming to an end, but it is just the beginning of something new.  This week I will return to work and begin teaching yoga again.  This being my first blog entry coinciding with Spring and personal change, I will develop and learn a new routine to balance, life, love, and work.  Once a routine develops and runs smoothly, it will inevitably change again, it is a cycle.  The constancy of change can bring about many emotions; fear of the unknown, insecurity of how to handle a new situation, excitement, hope or anger.  These days my ability to cope with whatever happens in life is matched by my way of thinking.  It is impossible to not live in the moment when you are around young children.  They live, breathe, eat, sleep, cry, laugh, scream, procrastinate, and rebel.  Rather than become frenzied, irrational, or impatient, I just go with it.  My effort is to remain calm with whatever is happening, and perceive all aspects of life with acceptance and patience.  When I find myself overwhelmed, anxious or angry in any situation, which can happen often on any given day, I stop, breathe, and remember the big picture.  What is most important right now?  My goal is to not react with fear, anger or violence but with wisdom, kindness and compassion.  This morning my older son of three years, started to stand up in his chair and climb up and out the kitchen window, I stopped and before I reacted, I asked him calmly, "Where are you going?" and his reply was simple; "I want to see the world."