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Monday, April 25, 2011

Perfect Moment Monday: Finding Bliss

I've been reading Fire of Love which has beautiful direction for yoga teachers to add a deeper level into teaching. I have found it inspiring and added one aspect to my class Saturday morning with lovely results.

After our pranayama (breathwork) practice I asked my students to place the fingers of their right hand at their heart center and turn inward finding their inner smile. Once connected, I instructed them to allow the sense of joy to radiate through their chest and upward to their faces.

After a few breaths I peeked my eyes open and scanned the room. Every student had the most lovely, relaxed, blissful smile upon their face. Mine radiated even bigger, both inside and on my face, seeing how this small gesture brought peace and ananda (bliss) to my students with such ease.

Try it yourself ~ find your inner smile and little moment of bliss.


Sunday, April 10, 2011

Gratitude for the simple things

After more than a week of being in the hospital my aunt is getting a bit tired of the cuisine. You can only eat so many servings of mashed potatoes and al dente does not seem to be an option in vegetables.

So, as I was heading for a visit this afternoon and stopped at Target to see what I could scrounge up. Bread and cheese are an absolute favorite of hers, so that's what I went for. The bread was not as crusty as I'd like and I had to settle for Havarti instead of Jarlsburg, but by the look on my aunt's face it definitely hit the spot. =)

We had lots of laughs and a lovely talk from the basics of medical issues to the meaning of life. Wonderful! If we had the time we could talk for days on end.

I came home to boys nearly ready for bed and tired husband. He'd made fabulous enchiladas which I promptly gobbled up. Walkingstick climbed behind me and sweetly rubbed my back and shoulders then we all read a chapter of the hilarious book we are reading - Another Whole Nother Story - and yes it's as absurd and delightful as it sounds.

The small comforts of life...good food and time spent together. So much to be grateful for.

Saturday, April 9, 2011


(photo credit)
Expectations can get us into hot water quickly. When we expect someone to behave in a certain manner and they don't, we feel confused, disappointed, and often hurt. Even when the change in behavior is positive, the unexpected divergence from the norm can throw us off.

I begin each of my yoga classes with a moment of brushing away our worries and expectations. I began to wonder today what expectations my yoga students may hold onto, what ones I hold onto, and how this impacts our experiences. Each class I teach evolves on its own as I integrate ideas I bring with the needs expressed by my students. For me it is a lovely dance of balance, trust, and inspiration.  I can only offer who I am, I have no control over (nor any desire to have) how anyone incorporates what I say and do into their lives.

There is a strange dichotomy in my life related to this. In yoga I simply offer the class for people to take whatever they need with no strings attached. But in my parenting and the trainings I offer as a school social worker, I expect my children and my staff to take away what I am specifically teaching them.

When I offer what I have without being attached to the outcome as in yoga, I feel at peace. When those offerings are made with attachment to the outcome, I so often feel frustrated and discouraged.


Can I parent and teach in other realms as I do in yoga? Practicing aparigraha, non-attachment, non-clinging, allowing my children and staff to take what they need without being attached to the outcome. Honoring where they are rather than expecting them to be somewhere they are not. Allowing them to integrate the information as it makes sense for them.

I read weekly from Pema Chodron's Start Where You Are during mediation class and have just realized while writing this that I have compartmentalized the teaching of that title to my yoga life and forgotten to carry it into the rest of my life. Yoga is more than our time on the mat, it is how we live our lives united our minds and bodies, being present and honoring where we are and others are at any given moment.

So with gentleness and lovingkindness, as I always tell my students, I notice this. I will strive to keep it in the forefront of my perceptions, being more aware of my expectations and how they impact my interactions and reactions. May you as well.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Perfect Moment Monday: Hospital Humor

I took Walkingstick and Gigglebox to visit my aunt yesterday in the hospital as she recovers from brain surgery and continues her epic journey through ovarian cancer and its many incarnations in her body.

My aunt lit up upon seeing the boys and we all hugged and giggled together. We talked a little about the day and the next steps she was expecting. Then Walkingstick stepped up to the bed with a sly grin on his face. "A pan of muffins was in the oven," he began. "One muffin turned to the other and said, 'It sure is hot in here.' The other muffin turned and screamed, "Ahhh! A talking muffin!'"

We all busted up laughing at his silly eleven-year-old joke. His eyes twinkled with the thrill of making her, and the rest of us, laugh. Mine twinkled with the wonder of my sweet boy and his ability to bring joy and humor into this surreal and difficult situation.

His humor allowed us to be fully present in that moment. Not sick, worried, exhausted...just family loving and being there for each other in one perfect moment. 

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Facing Challenges

It's amazing how we all handle the challenges life throws at us in different ways. For the most part I am constantly amazed at the strength and perseverence I am honored to witness from the people in my life.

My dear aunt was thrown another curve ball in her journey through ovarian cancer. Her doctors unexpectedly diagnosed her with three brain tumors and whooshed her off for brain surgery the next day. In the brief in between time she said to me, "I guess I have another lesson to learn." An unbelievably optimistic and courageous response in the face of such daunting news. I suggested neon signs were a more effective means of communicating what we need to learn, but the universe apparently thought otherwise.

The thing about her perspective is that is a good reminder that we all have lessons to learn in this process. We also have choices about how we will respond to this new challenge before us. Choices about how we support her and each other, whether we hold hope or give up, whether we view the struggle as part of the journey or as an unbearable burden, and whether we remember to treasure each moment with the ones we love valuing them for who they truly are or buy into the roles and stories we have created for ourselves and each other. Our responses impact how we will come through this crisis as well as how she will.

Sharing all of this with my sons has been both difficult and beautiful. Telling them what was happening seemed brutal and scary when everything was so up in the air. Yet they responded with tears and hope and an immediate desire to see her and support her. They have been able to go on with their days while still offering love, support, and understanding to each other and to me when one of us was struggling. They have shown me that they can be as strong and courageous in the face of adversity as my dear aunt has been.

For everyone facing adversity, no matter how big or small:
May you be safe.
May you be happy.
May you be healthy.
May you have peace.
May you awaken to the light of their true nature.
May you be free.