Christianity

comfortED

I’m baaaaccck….again. I know I keep  saying I’ll be consistent and keep writing but yet here I am three months (ish) since my last post. So where have I been? I’ve been teaching lots and lots yoga. I’ve been doing chores, lots and lots of chores. I’ve also been trying to stay one step ahead of Melvin, and dealing with the loneliness that has surfaced. With each passing day I say to myself, “I need to write”, “this would be a great post”, “you could be writing right now since you aren’t doing anything but watching Netflix “,or “I’m too emotionally spent to do anything but watch Netflix”. Lately though I have felt compelled to come back. There have been too many self discoveries, perfect post ideas, and recently I’ve been encouraging others in their recovery journey. So here I am, watching Netflix (think a British version of House Hunters) and writing my first post in three months. Here we go…

This past Sunday in Small Groups we were asked a question, “What is your favorite comfort food?”. All of us had to answer as a way to promote class bonding and get prepared for the lesson (how God is the ultimate comforter and through his comfort we can be of comfort for others-awesome right?!). We go around and everyone answers. People talk about their mom’s macaroni and cheese, their grandmother’s chicken spaghetti, ice cream, cupcakes from this cupcakery in Wilco, Texas, chocolate chip cookies with coffee,  and pad thai and other Asian noodle dishes (my husbands answer). I was last and it was my turn! All eyes were on me. I was absolutely terrified. I couldn’t think of anything. I eat avocado brownies-not comforting. I eat lentils-I have a favorite recipe but it isn’t what I’d call comfort food. I drink protein shakes with collagen-not comforting. I have sweet treats that I binge on (dairy free ice cream of the chocolate chip cookie dough persuasion to name a handful) but those indulgences don’t comfort me–they have the opposite effect. Luckily the leader’s wife helped me out. She made a really witty joke about how my food allergies keep me from having any comfort food. She has a point, I mean I can’t eat my mom’s macaroni and cheese anymore.

 

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All during class I couldn’t shake the fact that food doesn’t comfort me. Here I am six years later and I still have a hard time with food. I cannot use food for comfort because it will trigger a binge; which will lead to a purge session either on the treadmill or weightlifting bench.If it doesn’t lead to a binge it will lead to self loathing. There are times I really do enjoy food (like the vegan ramen from Goru Ramen in the Plaza District, Ridgewood BBQ back home, anytime I eat pizza, Holey Rollers donuts) but food is still a form of survival. I eat because I have to. I eat because I get hangry if I don’t. I eat because I have fitness goals. I eat because starving sucks. I eat so I can keep Melvin at bay. I eat because that’s what humans do.

Taking this a step further and using our Small Group lesson about comfort I started thinking about how ED’s are used as a comfort. Those of us who live with an eating disorder or lived with one, found comfort in it at one point in our lives. Instead of God, family, music, faith, food, yoga–counting calories, lifting sessions, and laxatives became our comfort. When our friends weren’t there our ED was. When our family didn’t understand us, our ED did. When God forsook us, our ED showed us the way. When we were alone and misunderstood, our ED “got us”. Everything was cold, hard, and dreary, except for our disorder.

We believe our ED is a comfort instead of what it really is-a discomfort. We can’t see the discomfort that our disorder is causing us because we have been so manipulated by its words and the false sense of purpose it gives us. We believe with every calorie it will replace the friends we are losing.  We believe that every minute on the treadmill will warm us up like a flannel blanket. We believe that every meal we skip will save us from the torment that is our life. When in fact its the opposite. Those skipped meals aren’t warm flannel blankets. Those perfect calorie counts and hours on the treadmill don’t comfort us like our friends and faith will. The only comfort we have is knowing that there is something bigger and better than our disease. The only comfort, even though it can be just as discomforting, is recovery and placing faith in a higher power. That is the warm flannel blanket. That is what warms our hearts. That is our comfort food.

 

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there’s no crying in yoga! or is there?-The Time I Almost Cried in Savasana

Let’s start of with a few terms shall we?

kripaa/kripa: sanskrit for “grace”, but can also be used for “deep love”, “mercy”, “divine grace”

rainbow: a covenant from God promising us that he won’t flood the Earth again, also a symbol of hope

support: to hold up, bearing weight

savasana: the last pose of all yoga classes, where you lay on back, total rest/ultimate relaxation. Also known as corpse pose, because yogi’s imitate a dead body because once the spirit has left the body all motion stops

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I am an emotional, passionate, Fire element individual. Yet, don’t ask me to show you my emotions in public. I do not cry in front of people, I do not let go, I am not vulnerable (I have written about this a few times before). I am very guarded but slowly, ever so slowly,  my walls are breaking down.As an empath I feel a lot of emotion and sometimes it is overwhelming. I begin to feel someone else’s pain or tears and my viscera starts to turn and swell. I want to be there with them….BUT that means I would have to share that with others, GASP, I might cry in front of people. No thank you. I hear my peers talk about crying in savasana, they cry in check out, some just cry at the drop of a hat. Frankly it is annoying. I sit there in the circle and think, “Give me a break! Why don’t you suck it up? I have depression, an ED, GAD, and going through a huge transition in life and you don’t see me cry”.  Then Patanjali’s 8 Limbs and Jesus enters in and shows me that this is not very Christian, and it also violates ahimsa (non-harming). Instead of me putting my projections on others (something I am trying to work on), maybe they are in the right. Maybe it is me who has a problem. Maybe I need to let it out. Let the tears flow. Give up being strong for a brief moment, and be held…..

Being held….that takes me to my latest RYT experience.

Sunday we were blessed to have the amazing Joe Taft for the day. I have never had him before, but from the moment he walked in Mountain Yoga, I knew he would be an amazing spirit and teacher for my peers and myself. After a two hour lecture, he lead us in a masterclass that was open to the public. So all my yoga mentors and my yoga peers were all gathered in one room. The energy was electric, and there was support. All of us yogini’s were there for the other. We were there for the other on our right, on our left, in front of us, and behind us. Joe then preceded to tell us an amazing story of one of his clients and how he found yoga not on a mat but through a rainbow, to be more specific, a double rainbow. We were then guided through the intention of finding the rainbow. Making our bodies a double rainbow by arching the front of our torso and arching our back torso. We were also led to feel the support of that rainbow and the support of whatever we believe in (be it God, nature, other spiritual aspect). All through the class we were constantly brought back to that, especially in the hardest of poses. Which correlates to when we are in the most difficult of times we need to find that rainbow, find that support (for me it is Jesus, his grace, and my husband). ***I always love the moments I meet Jesus on my mat, and when yoga and Christianity just intersect together***

Asana after asana, flow after flow, cosmic surfer after cosmic surfer, we started to cool it down. Take the breath back in and find our way into our savasana. As myself and my fellow practitioners are lying there in savasana Joe talks about kripaa/kripa. Joe describes the feeling of being held by something that is greater than ourselves, what he likes to call the universal (for me, again, that is Jesus).  All of a sudden I am surrounded by Jesus’ grace, I can fill his mercy and lovingkindness. I am full. I begin to pray, as I always do in savasana, thanking God for his grace and this feeling that is pouring out through my heart, and then…..I begin to fill my tear duct swell. Tears? Tears in public? It can’t be!?  Instead of hiding from it fully, or avoiding like I usually do, I decided to just be there with that sensation. What it feels like to almost cry in public. Just what it feels like to have those tear ducts swell and the face start to get hot and melty. I didn’t cry out loud, but it definitely was a great experience to almost have it. And honestly, if I would have cried out loud, I don’t think I would’ve been embarrassed. Why? Because I could then share the love of God and his grace and how it can, as a song says, be an ocean and sink us.

As I sit here today writing this entry I still feel that grace supporting me. That grace, that mercy, that kripaa/kripa, holding me. I look for that rainbow. When I start to feel down I just imagine being in a sea kripaa/kripa. My hope for you today is that you look for that rainbow. Look for that universal thing that is bigger than you and let your universal guide you through your day and hopefully you can experience being held by it or by sinking in an ocean full of kripaa/kripa.

Namaste and God Bless.

O and thank you Joe Taft for opening my heart center.

 

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sources:

Merriam-Webster

spoken sanskrit

http://www.isca-apologetics.org/sites/default/files/papers/Jared%20Martinez/Corduan-WordsForGraceInHinduism.pdf,

Light On Yoga

the Holy Bible

Looking Up

I love it when church ties in with either yoga or mental illness/recovery. Church and Jesus Christ has played a big role in recovery via the 12 Steps and coming back to Christ, trusting him more completely. Knowing that he sustains me and I can overcome with his helps….which is a great tie in to the topic for today.

In service this morning Pastor Tony led us in a sermon called, The One Who Lifts My Head.  The scripture was Psalm 3:1-6:

A Psalm of David, regarding the time David fled from his son Absalom…

O Lord, I have so many enemies; so many are against me. So many are saying, “God will never rescue him”. But you, O Lord (Jehovah), are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. I cried out to the Lord (Jehovah), and he answered me from his holy mountain. I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me (sustained me). I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies who surrounded me on every side. (NLT)

Pastor Tony then went on to discuss his own time of being lost. Almost burnt out and didn’t know if he could be a preacher. But while on his lawn mower one day he spoke out to God and this came over him. That God will sustain him, keep his promise, and lift his head high.We each all go through trials, as he said today: “If you aren’t going through one you are getting ready to go through one. Jesus loves us too much not to put us through a trial.” While we go through these trials it is important to cry out to God and ask him to lift our head. He can and he will. He lifts our head up and watches over us or in some translations it says sustain us. He is our strength, rock, strong tower.

One of the most moving parts was that he listed all these things one can go through and he mentioned depression. Most of the time mental illness is skirted in the church so it was great he mentioned depression. These verses are wonderful for those who are depressed. Depression is hard, you really can’t lift your head high. You think the worst. Nothing fuels you, nothing sustains you. While you may feel that, or your body can’t do anything but lay in bed, God can do it all. We just have to rely on him and let him wrap us in his glory while shielding us from our inner selves. With his power and faithfulness we won’t be afraid of the enemies that are surrounding us.

True, this is easier said than done. I know some of you all are thinking that. But that is why we constantly turn ourselves over to him (a huge base of the 12 steps).  It is that humbling, that earnest longing to be able to lift our head, that longing for life, that gives us the determination and the ability to be like the David in this Psalm and ask God to sustain us.

I ask you this week to meditate on this Psalm. See what comes up when you meditate. If you practice yoga, make this your intention. Pray it.

Lift your head high, because no one wants to see your forehead, we all want to see your beautiful face.

Christian Quotes, Sayings, Jesus Loves You, Drake

“Finding the Divine Within (Latex Gloves Not Necessary)” excerpt from “Happy Yoga”

This is a little lengthy, but definitely worth the read. The following passage is from Steve Ross’ book, Happy Yoga, that I have quoted/written from in previous entries. Of all that I have read from this book, this is without a doubt one of my favorite passages. Enjoy!

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There’s nowhere to go for the truth, there’s no one to pay, there’s nothing to do. You can only undo all that is not true. And then you discover that truth was with you all along, concealed by everything false. Then which is everlasting is just underneath everything that’s temporary. And that which is divine is hiding behind everything that is mundane. Ever play hide-and-seek? In the same way, life is like a game, or play (leela). You must endeavor to find the truth and the divine in everything.

God concealed and God revealed are ways that yogis often describe the play of consciousness in the world. Everything is God everywhere all the time. But some things seem more obviously God than others. When you watch a beautiful sunset, that’s obviously God. It would be considered God revealed. It’s a little more of a challenge to see that a war zone with bullets flying and people screaming and dying is God, too. That would be considered God concealed. Compassion, love, or any genuine celebration of life is an example of God revealed. So even though it’s all God, the yogis acknowledge that in duality, some things seem more like God than others. There are elements of the world that appear to be more of an expression of the perfection of God, of love and bliss, than others.

While an enlightened master sees that everything is God, given a option of the experience of God concealed or God revealed, there’s usually a preference twoard God revealed-love, compassion, freedom, bliss, truth-you get the picture.

God revealed is a little taste of the infinite, but so is God concealed; it just requires an able eye to see it. Yogis say that there’s a big picture-and it’s huge. An individual can only see a tiny piece of a this big picture. So you might look at your tiny piece and think, “What the hell is this? This doesn’t look like anything! This looks like non-sense, fear, pain!” But when you see it in the context of the huge, enormous, gigantic, big picture, it all makes sense. Aha! Through love, compassion, surrender, allowing, forgiveness, joy, and other aspects of God revealed, you get a tiny glimpse of the big picture. But if you’re stuck in a world where God is concealed through resistance, anger, hatred, violence, loathing, and so on, you’re stuck with those little tidbits of the big picture that don’t look like much.

What about experiences that seem like God revealed at first but later reveal themselves as God concealed? The drug heroin, for example, induces deep peace for some people-at first. Then it slowly ruins your entire life by destroying your body, depleting your finances, and, of course, requiring larger and larger doses to make you feel normal. Any recovering user will tell you the same story. This is true of many elements in the world. The yogis say these aspects of worldly life are like poison honey. The first symptom might be sweet, but the end is bitter.

Spiritual life is like a medicinal herb: bitter in the beginning, sweet in the end. Becoming conscious can initially be challenging. But once you get rolling, your life becomes peaceful, blissful, and much sweeter for your efforts.

How can a yogi experience God revealed all the time? God is what you are. The more you can let go of excessive thinking, the more you’ll experience it. To reveal the God energy that you are, accept each moment. Acknowledge each moment as sacred. Don’t resist what it is. Look past the appearance through to the God just underneath.

Many yoga students are able to attain beautiful states of peace in yoga class, especially at the deeply relaxing end in shavasana. They experience God revealed when they feel happy and light, bliss pulsing through their bodies. But the moment they walk through the door and back into the real world, they get sucked back into the outward chaos of their lives and the inward chaos of their minds (God concealed). Pick up the kids from school, is the husband happy? Massage at six, make sure the business is running smoothly, do I have enough money? I want to be single, I want to be in a relationship, are my kids smart enough? My mother’s in the hospital, and on and on and on and on. This kind of activity could continue for the rest of your life, accelerating and picking up momentum like an avalanche. It can drive you insane or it can provoke inner surrender.

What’s going to happen is going to happen. You can do what you can about it, but compulsive thought will only make it worse. Why not let go? If it succeeds in blissing you out at the end of yoga class, why not try it in your life? Do what you can and release the rest.

Your life is perfect as it is. Every aspect is exactly as it should be, pointing you precisely in the direction you’re meant to go. Whether you are able to see it or not depends on how resistant you are to what is. Whether you can see it as God revealed or God concealed is a result of your point of view. What might seem like problems may actually be invitations for change. To reside as love, joy, compassion, stillness, and grace is to reside as the divine within and without. And this is true yoga.

His Masterpiece Theater

On this journey to a recovered life, or at least a more manageable and happy one, I occasionally pick up my Bible or read devotionals that speak to me. It is God’s timing that this happens. I know it is. For someone who does not read The Word as one needs to, God definitely blesses the word and jumps out at me from the pages of my Bible. Lately some of my favorite verses have been about new life, being God’s perfect creation, how we are works of art.

As a Christian we are given a new life. Once we believe in Jesus and give our life over to him we are new. We are not our old former self for we have died to the world and became washed in his blood and grace. Then we become a blank canvas, white as snow and ready to be painted with mercy, grace, love, peace, kindness, joy, happiness, and even sorrow(yes, sorrow can be a color that adds to our lives). Over the course of our life here on Earth we become a masterpiece. We become God’s masterpiece. He paints the canvas of our lives, or even sculpt us from clay (for all you potters out there), and turns our unworthy, dark, bleak selves into a beautiful masterpiece fit for the Metropolitan Art Museum.

All of this takes time. It doesn’t happen over night. Any artist can tell you that a masterpiece is not complete in one sitting. There are many rough drafts, bad outlines, blow ups, and miscalculations along they way. Christians aren’t just one canvas or one piece of clay. Christians become multiple canvas’s or pieces of clay. God, being our artist, goes through many drafts. It isn’t because He makes a mistake, it is because his subject matter, US, tends to not cooperate (an ill fitting canvas on the screen, clay that can’t become mold-able, an out of tune instrument). Due to the Christian walk being filled with missteps and mess ups, it takes our whole life to become the masterpiece God wants.

This whole masterpiece analogy is also true for those of us in recovery. We view ourselves as scraps, trash, ready to be thrown out. There is no masterpiece within. We cannot see it because we are head over heels with self-loathing, selfishness, inability to cope, perfection, people-pleasing, self mutilating/harming, depressed, low self-esteem, manic,  with distorted perception. This is all we can see; we cannot see the beauty that is there, our own masterpiece. This life of the fore mentioned is all we know. The pain, the self torture, the lies, the unhappiness. Yet, we cannot imagine our lives without it or feel like no one would want us. All the time we dwell there we yearn to be beautiful. To be something great. To be colorful, magnetic, charismatic.

It is not till we decide to take that step into recovery that the artist begins to mold us. To paint us. To tune us. To slowly start to reveal his masterpiece. Recovery is when most of us end up finding God and completely turning our lives over to him. For some, like myself, we stray and then come back into the fold. We fight and elude Him, we still give into our inner demon, but we also make progress. Through relapses, He is there. Though the mountain highs, He is there. Through the carving, chipping, and painting of our souls, He is there. As those of us on recovery’s never ending journey, we eventually learn to see what God sees. This beautiful creation. In our mirror, our soul reflection, our eyes begin to see the masterpiece that is within us. The beautiful, the great, the colorful, the magnetic, the charismatic individual we always wanted to be.

“But God is so rich in mercy, and he loves us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us new life when he raised Christ from the dead. It is only by  God’s grace that you have been saved!”Ephesians 2: 4-5

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2: 10

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. the old life is gone, a new life has begun!” 2 Corinthians 5:17

“Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2

Peace, Love, Namaste, and God Bless!

 

 

Soulprint, Part 5: THE END

Finally, I have finished Soulprint. I believe it has taken me just as long to read it as it did to receive it. This book had a lot of strong, valuable, and pondering moments. I hope I can keep reflecting on it and use the words to help discover my own soulprint. If you have been blessed by just reading my entries on this book than maybe you need to pick up a copy. Now onto my next book….The Four Agreements.

*[David] reaches the end of his spiritual rope. None of us like reaching the end of our rope. It’s the scariest, weakest, and loneliest place we can find ourselves. But sometimes we have to reach the end of our rope before we will reach out for God. And that’s when we discover a knot at the end of our rope. That knot is the mercy of God. And it’s the only thing that will stop a spiritual free fall.

*We try so hard to fix our own brokenness, but there are problems beyond our ability to solve, hurts beyond our ability to heal, and memories beyond our ability to forget. What do we do with those? How do we get out of the prison of past pain? How do we overcome the regrets that haunt us? The only way out is through allowing God to reconstruct our minds, our hearts, and our spirits. And that is God’s specialty.

*You are God’s palace God’s temple. And He wants to dwell in you. But that requires major renovation. And it often starts with demolition. God needs to tear down the facade so he can re-lay the foundation.

*It’s in our brokenness that God’s holiness is most clearly revealed.

*If you want to discover your soulprint, you’ve got to being and end with Scripture.

*He [God] want to resurrect your personality that has died at the hands of those who have hurt you. He wants to resurrect dreams that have died of dissappointment. He wants to resurrect relationships and give them a fresh start. He wants to give you and abundant life, both quantitative and qualitative.

*Your mistakes may define your past, but they don’t have to define your present. And they certainly don’t have to define your future. If you’re still breathing, it means that god isn’t finished with you yet. He is still chipping and chiseling. He is still remodeling you into His image. He is still setting the captive free and creating the unique masterpiece that is you.

 *The reason so many of us are strangers to ourselves is because we don’t sit before the Lord. If you want to discover your destiny, you’ve got to spend time in the presence of God. There is no alternative. There is no substitute. True self-discovery happens only in the presence of God. It’s only when you seek God that you will find yourself. And if you try to find yourself outside of a relationship with your Designer it will lead to a case of mistaken identity.

*The best form of worship is becoming the best version of who God has created you to be.

*Ultimately, your destiny is determined by your decisions. It’s your actions, and reactions, that define you. So don’t play the victim. Play the victor. After all, that is who you are in Christ.

 

“Your real, new self…will not come as long as your are looking for it. It will come when you are looking for him.”

C.S Lewis

Soulprint, part 4

Almost done with Soulprint. I have just finished section four, getting ready to start the last section. I will say this has been one motivating and challenging book. For those who are new to this blog or checking this out for the first time you can look at these previous entries to see what I have been sharing: https://imageoftheheart.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/soulprint-part-3/, https://imageoftheheart.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/soulprint-part-2/, https://imageoftheheart.wordpress.com/2013/08/29/soulprint-part-1/

Out of all the sections so far I believe this past one was the most challenging and provoking for me. There was a lot that spoke to me and provided a lot of discussion in my therapy sessions.the title of part four was called Alter Ego. All about who we are inside, who we are when no one is looking, breaking down barriers, being awkward, and letting ourselves become embarrassed, which all leads to greater intimacy with God, our self, and others.

Here we go….

*But we need to be embarrassed for the same reason we need to fail: it keeps us humble. And humility is the key to fulfilling our destiny.

*All we have to do is stay out of the way. And the way we stay out of the way is by staying humble. If we stay humble, there is nothing God cannot do in us and through us. And nothing expands our capacity for humility like embarrassment.

*Embarrassing moments…purge the ego of prideful impurities.

*Few things are as freeing as a little embarrassment. It frees us from the burden of pretense, and it forces us to stop taking ourselves so seriously. In a sense, embarrassment is one way we die to self. And dying to self is one way we come to life.

*Too many people live as if the purpose of life is to avoid embarrassment at all costs. They never put themselves in situations that might be awkward. So they forfeit joy. They never reveal who they really are. So they forfeit intimacy. They never take risks. So they forfeit the opportunity. They try to avoid embarrassment at all cost, and the cost is their souls. Or should I say, their soulprints.

*Criticism is a defense mechanism for fragile egos. We criticize in others what we don’t like about ourselves. And part of our soulprint dies in the process.

*You have to be stripped of the things you find your identity in. You have to let go of the things you find your security in. And it will feel like you are losing yourself in the process. But it is only in losing yourself that you truly find yourself.

*Is there something you find your identity or security in outside your relationship with Christ? Is your identity based on who you are or whose you are? Is your identity based on what you can do for Christ, or is it based on what Christ has done for you? Do you find security in what you have? Or is your security solely found in the seal the Holy Spirit set on you when you submitted to the Lordship of Christ? Discovering your soulprint means finding your identity and security in Christ alone. He becomes your identity. He becomes your security. Nothing else. Nothing less. And the Cross becomes your status symbol.

*The way you see yourself is determined by what you base your identity on. And you have lots of choices. You can base your identity on how you look or who you know. You can base your identity on what you do or how much you make doing it. You can base your identity on titles or degrees. You can even base your identity on what you wear or what you drive. There are a million factors that form the composite of our self-concept, but all of us base our identities on something. And what we base our identities on will make us or break us spiritually.

*Are you willing to do things that feel awkward, like kneel at an altar or obey a crazy prompting of the Holy Spirit or have a tough conversation with a good friend? If you are, then God can use you!