Gratitude

softening up

As I go through my yoga teacher training I am continually opening myself up to new forms and practices of yoga. I am normally a power yoga, vinyasa yoga, inversion, junkie. Fast pace, breath filled movement is the way to quieten my brain. Yin yoga and restorative freak me out. Being still for an hour!? Holding poses five plus minutes. Ugh! Yoga torture!

I am always filled with stress or really up tight but the fluid movement of vinyasa or the crazy amounts of Sun Salutations in a power yoga class really calm my sea of chaos. The other styles of yoga seem to make my chaos worse, even though my  mentors say that is what I need. The great thing about yoga teacher training is you experience a wide range of classes and I also observe multiple classes. Each teacher training weekend my mentors keep telling me to explore the softer side of myself and yoga. That I need to not be afraid of the quiet and see what the quiet does.

In my three months of teacher training I have made it through a two hour restorative class and more recently a yoga nidra class. I am even able to be quiet in corpse pose for more than 5 minutes, well depending on the class I took. But it took me a few years to even be still in savasana/corpse pose for at least 5 minutes.

My first successful “quiet” class was a 2 hour restorative class in my RYT training. Out of all my classmates/peers I was the only one dreading this class. I could not imagine just laying there in poses, being still, restoring myself. An hour I could see, but 2…as class started I used my blocks, bolsters, straps, and breath to calm down and restore my body. With the help of the instructor and beautiful adjustments I was able to be quiet. Except in pigeon. Pigeon is my worst pose, I cannot do it and seeing everyone else melt into it was very difficult. My perfectionist, competitive side came out. I almost cried. But even after that I was able to calm down and find my inner stillness. I will say, after that class it was the best I felt ever! It even lasted into the following days. My body moved better, my inner workings seemed to be calmer, and I felt peaceful. I woke up that next morning with an inner peace that I hadn’t felt in quite some time or ever. Now I cannot wait to do another one and then learn to teach it and pass on this wonderful practice!

On Sunday, I took my first yoga nidra class. For those of you not familiar with yoga nidra, it is also known as yoga sleep/sleep yoga. In this practice you will hover between this state of awake and sleep. It is without a doubt the strangest thing I have experienced. Luckily there were Tibetian singing bowls to help ease into the process of nidra. I definitely spent the first ten minutes of the time fidgeting around but as I gave myself up to the relaxation/guided meditation and the sounds of the singing bowls I started to fall into the nidra, well as much as I could. I started to meditate and do the meditation exercises focusing on my breath (thank you Hanh) and continued to focus on the nidra. The next hour I just spent time getting into my body, feeling the vibrations, not beating myself up when I fell out of the nidra. Just like the restorative class, this hour flew by! I thought I would be sleepy afterwards, but I was revitalized. Energized. And hungry! Starving. I was so thankful that I got to experience yoga nidra and just like restorative, I can’t wait to try it again.

Now I can go to my mentors and with joy say that I have been still for hours, and have finally made an intention to explore the soft side of myself. Not only in yoga, but with my daily life in practicing self-lovingkindness and gentleness. I even want to take these practices off the mat and into my life, and others lives. So I challenge you today to embrace your soft side or try a challenging practice. Peace, love, and namaste darlin’s!

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Inspiration from a newsletter: Shakti in the Mountains

I received the following newsletter in my e-mail a week or so ago and I found it so moving:

 

Dear Reader,

Choosing to step into the light sounds like an easy choice. I mean who wouldn’t want to play in the sun opposed to stay in the dark. Right? Uh, right.  And yet many of us can recall times, perhaps even now, when the darkness felt, if not comfortable, familiar and safe. Like a vampire who is afraid of combusting, we, too, fear to step into the light. 

Don’t worry you are normal. Stepping into the light, while ultimately rewarding, is also scary. No longer can you hide who you are or what you want. When you move into the light, you are seen, not so much by others, but rather by yourself. No more subterfuge, no more camouflage. You see you.

This conscious choice to recognize yourself, includes the good, the bad and the ugly. I can hear you now. “What you say? I have to acknowledge the bad and the ugly too.” Yep, you sure do. However before you freak out and run screaming in the opposite direction, let me remind you that the bad and the ugly are just labels. Labels given by someone else. Someone who did not know how to be in relationship with all of us, so they segregated the part of us they could not handle and gave it a label: bad, ugly, disappointed, ashamed.

You are not really bad or really ugly. You are actually really good, and while it is true that sometimes good people make bad choices, the act of making a bad choice does not make us inherently bad. (This is why self-compassion is so important.)

Stepping into the light is honoring the parts of us that we buried to make other people comfortable. This journey is so essential not only to feeling good about yourself but also is essential to feeling whole. I want each one of you to experience this wholeness, this goodness. As someone who embarked on this journey years ago, I can tell you have no regrets and have only received many gifts.

So acknowledge any fear or reservations you may have about taking this journey and then commit to going on a Shadow Walk with me this summer. Don’t let fear tell you you do not have enough money or time to go on this journey. You will find the time and the money. I trust you will. And when you do, I will be waiting for you, waiting for ALL of you.

Love,

Kim 

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This is so beautifully written what else could there be to say? We are really good. We need to practice self-compassion and self-love. Who doesn’t want to feel whole and complete?

If you live close enough to Johnson City, TN please think about going on the Shadow Walk. I would love to be a part of it if my life wasn’t consumed with festivals and weekend engagements for work. Even if you can’t do the Shadow Walk with Kim, maybe try your own. Explore your dark places and bring light into your life.

For more information on Shakti in the Mountains, check out their website: http://www.shaktiinthemountains.com/

Peace and Namaste,

Leslie

 

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When you don’t know what to say, let Maya Angelou do the talking

Right now I am working on a few different topics for my next entries but nothing ready yet to publish. As I sit here thinking about what to write, I realize I don’t have much to say that is short, precise, moving, and gets the theme of this blog. So, why not let one of my favorite poets, Maya Angelou, say what I can’t. Enjoy!

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*One of my favorite poems of hers. I just love watching her facial expressions in this video.

*Check out Phenomenal Woman if you have never read it. That poem will make you feel great about being a woman. If you struggle with body image, ED’s, or lack of confidence, this poem really points out the beauty that all women have. The way she writes it, you can’t help but believe that YOU are phenomenal. Which YOU ARE!

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*Are you in harmony?

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*Love others…

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*How us older women need to live our lives to show the next generation of women that it is ok to be strong and kick ass…

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*Aren’t we glad that not one person is a like? How boring would life be if that was the case…

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*The following quote is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITES if Dr. Angelou’s

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*The Rock Cries Out To Us Today

A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Mark the mastodon.
The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor,
Any broad alarm of their of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully,
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.
I will give you no hiding place down here.
You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness,
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.
Your mouths spelling words
Armed for slaughter.
The rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face.
Across the wall of the world,
A river sings a beautiful song,
Come rest here by my side.
Each of you a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.
Yet, today I call you to my riverside,
If you will study war no more.
Come, clad in peace and I will sing the songs
The Creator gave to me when I
And the tree and stone were one.
Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your brow
And when you yet knew you still knew nothing.
The river sings and sings on.
There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing river and the wise rock.
So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew,
The African and Native American, the Sioux,
The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek,
The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheikh,
The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher,
The privileged, the homeless, the teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the tree.
Today, the first and last of every tree
Speaks to humankind. Come to me, here beside the river.
Plant yourself beside me, here beside the river.
Each of you, descendant of some passed on
Traveller, has been paid for.
You, who gave me my first name,
You Pawnee, Apache and Seneca,
You Cherokee Nation, who rested with me,
Then forced on bloody feet,
Left me to the employment of other seekers—
Desperate for gain, starving for gold.
You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot…
You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru,
Bought, sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.
Here, root yourselves beside me.
I am the tree planted by the river,
Which will not be moved.
I, the rock, I the river, I the tree
I am yours—your passages have been paid.
Lift up your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced with courage,
Need not be lived again.
Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you.
Give birth again
To the dream.
Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands.
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts.
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginnings.
Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
To brutishness.
The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me,
The rock, the river, the tree, your country.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.
Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes,
Into your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.

10,000 reasons and an intimate message

My therapist gave me this in one of our first sessions together. He handed me this piece of paper and told me to read it a lout. Of course I was up to it, even though I had NO idea what I was about to read. So here I am sitting on the couch in his office holding this piece of paper called “An Intimate Message From God to You.” I get half way through and I find it hard to read. I almost don’t make it through. I couldn’t say a part of Psalm 139 because I don’t believe in myself the saying of that verse (which you will see in a bit). And I started to cry because I was so moved. It isn’t easy to get me to cry publicly, so that is a huge thing. After I finished reading it, my therapist then asked me how it made me feel. I gave him the look of “honestly, don’t you see my tears?”. A look wasn’t enough so I had to verbalize (part of my recovery is learning to speak emotions). I replied, “It makes me feel better, but it is hard for me to see this in myself. I know this, but I have a hard time believing it.”

To this day I still keep this in my Bible. I have been wanting to share it since I received it about a year ago.  For those of us suffering from low self-esteem or worries about who we are or what not, this is a great reminder of who we are and what we are to be.This is also a great Bible study. Find each verse in the Bible and meditate on it and let it speak to you. It is very moving…

An Intimate Message From God to You

My Child,

         You may  not know me, but I know everything about you (Psalm 139:1). I know when you sit down and when you rise up (Psalm 139:2). I am familiar with all your ways (Psalm 139:3). Even the very hairs on your head are numbered (Matthew 10:29-31). For you were made in my image (Genesis 1:27). In me you live and move and have your being. For you are my offspring (Acts 17:28). I knew you even before you were conceived (Jeremiah 1:4-5).I chose you when I planned creation (Ephesians 1:11-12). You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book (Psalm 139:15-16). I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live (Acts 17:26). You are/I am fearfully and wonderfully  made (Psalm 139:14). I knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). And brought you forth on the day you were born (Psalm 71:6).

            I have been misrepresented by those who don’t know me (John 8:41-44). I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love (1 John 4:16). And it is my desire to lavish my love on you (1 John 3:1). Simply because you are my child and I your Father (Matthew 5:48). I offer you more than your earthly father ever could (Matthew 7:11). For I am the perfect father (Matthew 5:48). Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand (James 1:17). For I am your provider and I meet all your needs (Matthew 6:31-33). My plan for your future has always been filled with hope (Jeremiah 29:11). Because I love you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).

           My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore (Psalm 139:17-18).And I rejoice over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17). I will never stop doing good to you (Jeremiah 32:40). For you are my treasured possession (Exodus 19:5). I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul (Jeremiah 32:41). And I want to show you great and marvelous things (Jeremiah 33:3). If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me (Deuteronomy 4:29). Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4). For it is I who gave you those desires (Philippians 2:13). I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine (Ephesians 3:20). For I am your greatest encourager (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17).

            I am also the Father that comforts you in all your troubles (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).  When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you (Psalm 34:18). As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart (Isaiah 40:11). One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. And I’ll take away all the pain you have suffered here on Earth (Revelation 21:3-4). I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus (John 17:23). For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed (John 17:26). He is the exact representation of my  being (Hebrews 1:3). He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you (Romans 8:31). And to tell you that I am not counting your sins. Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you (1 John 4:10). I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love (Romans 8:31-32). If you receive the gift of my son, Jesus, you receive me ( 1 John 2:23). and nothing will ever separate you from my love again (Romans 8:38-39). come home and I’ll throw the biggest party Heaven has ever seen (Luke 15:7).

             I have always been Father, and will always be Father (Ephesians 3:14-15). My question is, will you be my child (John 1:12-13)? I am waiting for you (Luke 15:11-32).

Love Your Dad,

God

*I believe the source is FathersLoveLetter.com*

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And now for one of my favorite worship songs….

Light.

So I have this awesome cup that my hubby got me:

Clay Art Namaste Y'all Footed Ice Tea Tumbler

I love it because it is me in a cup. It combines my Southern side (that is the ya’ll for those who are not from the south) and my yogi side (the namaste).  Besides providing me with refreshment, it is a fun conversation starter. For example, at work the other day….

 

Someone asked me what Namaste means.  “The light within me honors the light within you. It is a saying in Hindu. It can be greeting or good bye.”  I replied. It got me thinking about light. I thought of my mantra/saying the poem “Light”, and the song I learned in children’s church, “This Little Light of Mine”.  Each one has a different definition of light; from the light within to being a light out in the world.

Namaste:  My light honors your light. Gratitude. I bow to you….. Each and every one of us has a special light. An internal glow, a fire deep down that radiates out in the world, our life. We are all different. Made up of different ideas, beliefs, and characteristics that gives us our uniqueness. Everybody in the universe is different. Not one the same, just like the snowflakes that fall in the winter. Yoga teaches us respect of others and to love regardless of our beliefs, ideas, and characteristics.  It is that concept that drives Namaste. We are to see the light, bow to it, respect it and be grateful for everyone and everything.

In addition to recognizing our light, it is up to us to radiate our light out in the world. Our glow from within is to permeate the darkness in the world and light it up. As Marianne Williamson says in her poem Light, “as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear; our presence automatically liberates others.” Our light can help others see it in themselves if they aren’t aware of their own  light.

This even ties to the little song This Little Light of Mine. If you grew up in Children’s Church, especially in the Southern Baptist sect, you know all about that song. The song says, “this little light of mine I’m gonna let it shine.” It teaches us to respect our own light, and embrace it. Not to be scared of our self, but to love our self .To shine like Christ. Just like a light bulb, or a flashlight and illuminate all that is around us. We are not to “hide it under a bushel” or let someone else’s negativity blow out our light. We are to shine it out in the world like a lighthouse on a bay in a stormy night.

Be that light house, be that light bulb, that goes out and illuminates the world Help others to see their greatness, their uniqueness. Let them know that there is nothing to be afraid of when you have your light on.

 

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.

Our deepest fear is that we are powerfully beyond measure.

It is our light,

Not our darkness, that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves;

Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.

Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.

There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.

It’s not in some of us; It’s in everyone.

And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear; our presence automatically liberates others.”

Light, Marianne Williamson

 

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