When the heart speaks….move

Aside

I remember when I first started Anusara yoga, and the teacher said to ‘melt your heart.’ I really didn’t get it, and I am still in the process of “getting it.” In fact, I always will be, and that’s one of the wonderful things about yoga. Forever a student.

One of the first thoughts I had when I realized this was an actual theme in Anusara was of Gelsey Kirkland, a ballerina I idolized when my life WAS ballet. Her first book Dancing On My Grave fascinated and scared me. Her passion for dance and perfection drove her to severe anorexia and cocaine abuse. It scared me because I wanted that intensity. I wanted to let the passion overtake me and drive me, to give in completely to it and see where it took me.

Her next book The Shape of Love amazed me. In it, she was coaching a dancer in a role that she had herself danced. She was trying to get the dancer to stand up from a chair with her heart. Over and over, she told the girl to try again. I forget how long it took (over an hour), but she would not give up until the dancer initiated and continued her movement with her heart. Gelsey really strove to get to the root of things. She was obsessed, but the beauty of the purity of what she strove for changed my view of dance and ballet forever.

Now, half a lifetime later, I am again tapping into that part of myself in both yoga and dance. Some days are better than others. I am different now. I am older, stiffer, bigger (not saying much, since I was anorexic then), a mom of a teen, and a doctor of pharmacy. For years, I went against my heart, and instead went to school. I did dance for a bit during that time, but realized I had to finish my degree, so quit dance yet again.

During that long 10 years of my life, I tried to compensate by being a gym rat, running in a marathon, competing in endless triathlons, and then cycling.  When I broke my hip in 2008, I couldn’t swim or run, so I ended up sticking mostly with cycling for the next 3 years. For three years, I was bent over a book or a computer and bent over my bike, cycling ’round and ’round in a uniplanar existence. Head down, I plunged ahead toward my goal of a terminal degree, striving for excellence, pushing, pushing, pushing my limits all the time.

Now, my psoas is tight, my sciatica is flaring up, and my heart is barely peeking through it’s little house. So, I did what I always do when I need to get back to my roots. I started yoga class.

Enter Anusara Yoga into my life.

I found myself quickly emerged in a practice where the benefits carried themselves over into my life off the mat. I am learning to listen to my heart, to feel my heart, speak from my heart, and one day to move from my heart.

I bring this all up because of an article I read today titled Love As Alchemy.  It spoke of receiving love through our backs behind our heart. Our backside, the Divine, the unknown, where we build trust. The Love that is always there. I have had a painful tightness for about 2-3 weeks now right behind my heart, between my shoulder blades. I almost feel that if I bring my should blades together tightly enough, my spine would pop. Many times, I have wanted to ask someone to press on it, for it felt like if someone pushed really hard, my spine would pop and release there, and the pinching would go away. I figured it was from the kayaking I did, but I should know better. It’s my heart, which has recently been through a lot.

I had been thinking of being a channel of love, rather than collecting it behind my heart. I guess there are multiple ways to view it. You can move love through you, soaking it up to nourish your soul, then giving it your flavor and offering it back into the world. You don’t hold onto it like a material object, but it forever changes your make up. Your cells come alive and dance, and you FEEL love. Your heart swells and glows, radiates and pulsates, with the in-pouring of love. And love is all around us. When we open up, we can fill that well, nourish our cells and our soul and offer it back to the world.

It can be scary to open up our hearts, but we are only opening to divine grace, so what is there to be afraid of? Afraid of being fully me? Afraid of my own beauty and brilliance? That’s silly, and yet it happens. And so the mission to open and receive love so that we may transform ourselves and offer love back to others continues.

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Feast of Love

Today was filled with hearts. While putting on my eye shadow, I noticed a heart shape where the bottom of the container was showing through the cake. What a great way to start my day! Then, my yoga teacher was talking, and I noticed that the way her bangs curled, combined with the curling in of her hair made a perfect heart. I almost asked her to stop so I could take a picture. To finish off my day, while driving home, it was raining and the windshield was fogging up, so I turned on the AC. It made the water condense on the outside in ….not just one, but TWO hearts, lying comfortably side by side, right in the middle of my windshield.

My life is truly blessed, for I see love all around me.

Fools Rush In

I believe that people come into our lives for a reason. I have said to many friends that if I hadn’t learned the lesson in one relationship, I wouldn’t have been ready for the next one that came along. Maybe that happens alot. Maybe, you encounter people daily that, if you both are in the right time to learn your lessons, you connect. Otherwise, you don’t connect on that level.

In October, I decided to stop settling for less than what I want in my heart. I have my checklist of values in a person (the rest is material). Lo and behold, within weeks of putting in my order to the universe, my order comes in. Two months later, he has decided to move on. Okay, universe, I am listening. I put in my order, I thought I got it, and then …..it returned itself? How does that happen? I am learning lesson after lesson right now, and it’s painful. And because I still hurt, I know there is something very deeply buried to work through. Evidently, my order did not come in. I must have gotten my order in the wrong size or color. Maybe my order came in, but it was a winter outfit, and it’s summer here…. all the time. Things go wrong with rush orders. I was in a hot tub the other night with a lady who said, ‘fools rush in’. I decided that would be my new mantra.

So, I stand here, naked to the possibility of what I know deep down to be true, that I am capable of great love and there is someone willing, able and ready to accept it, nurture it, and love back. I am learning big lessons lately, so I must be on the cusp of meeting someone really wonderful, and so the cycle of life and learning continues.

Staying Open

Intimate relationships bring out the best and the worst in people. It is where you have been most vulnerable, hurt the worst, and where we tend to find ourselves reacting to emotions brought up in past relationships. It is scary being vulnerable, for there is where you can get hurt. There, you lie naked to the one you open to. You offer yourself in love with the risk that they won’t accept you.

I find myself feeling very vulnerable at some point in relationships as I open myself up. At that point, I have had some people turn away. It is really hard not to take it personally, not to wonder what is wrong with me. Nothing is wrong with anyone. The people I chose to open to are hurt from prior relationships with women who manipulated them. They aren’t ready to feel vulnerable. I have been reading many excerpts by Ram Dass, and the last paragraph of this excerpt really hit home for me.

Every time you trade in a partner, you realize that there’s no good or bad about it.  I’m not talking good or bad about this.

But you begin to see how you keep coming to the same place in relationships, and then you tend to stop.  Because it gets too heavy.  Because your identity gets threatened too much.  For the relationship to move to the next level of truth requires an opening and a vulnerability that you’re not quite ready to make.  And so you entrench, you retrench, you pull back and then you start to judge and push away and then you move to the next one.  And then you have the rush of the openness and then the same thing starts to happen.  And so you keep saying “Where am I going to find the one when this doesn’t happen?”  And it will only happen when it doesn’t happen in you.  When you start to take and watch the stuff and get quiet enough inside yourself, so you can take that process as it’s happening and start to work with it.  And keep coming back to living truth in yourself or the other person even though it’s scary and hard.’

Water Flows

You say to “stay connected”, but what do you really mean?

I was drawn to you, like water to roots. I wanted to move slowly through you, take in each inch of you carefully before creating flowers with you.

Like a thirsty tree, you drank of me. I surged through you, to the top of your foliage, and the view was breathtaking. I felt safe, despite the height, and I nourished you with my essence. We played and danced up there, under the stars. We made flowers together, you and I. My essence combined with your strength to create beauty. Some flowers were soft and white and round, like a gardenia. Some were fun and bright like a daisy. Others were fiery red and deep, like a poppy, bursting open to reveal a silken heart.

Like a thirsty tree, you drank of me.

Water flows where it is needed and wanted.

I enjoyed sharing the view with you, greeting the morning sun, drinking in the early sky, dancing under the stars and moon floating by our treetop perch. You were getting stronger, drawing in my essence as my heart poured open. Such flowers I had never made before, each one unique and special, and I drank in the nectar of each, swam in the fragrance of their petals, wrapped myself in and around each stem, and kissed each morsel of pollen.
I opened up my well of endless love and nourishment, but your thirst was quenched. You set me quickly and gently on the ground, back where I started but forever changed. I sat quietly, the waters within me at once calm, then churning and spilling over the banks. The winds picked up, and storms came and passed. Some were smooth and nourishing, others were tumultuous and left chaos and unrest in their wake. The banks of my waters are rising to protect me while I rebuild.

You said to “stay connected”, but water flows where it is needed and wanted.

Stay In Your Heart

My yoga teacher, when I reached out to her in a moment of weakness, said to ‘Stay in your Heart’….. I feel this is part of what she was referring to…

“On this day of your life, Amy, we believe God wants you to know … that it’s your heart that knows who loves you, not your ears or eyes.

Listen to the words, and you can be fooled. Look at the actions, and you can be fooled. Feel deeply into your heart, and then you will know the truth.

Who makes your heart soar now?

Well, what are you waiting for?”

333/333- Coming Full Circle

With the final post of my 333 project coming up, I clicked through each and every post and was surprised at the evolution of my posts, and of my life, my focus. While riding my bike that week, I thought of all that has happened over the past two years since I started the project, and I had the complete blog all in my head. It was fabulous (or so I thought at least), but once I stopped spinning, the thoughts stopped flowing, and it wasn’t long before they trickled away. I have bits and pieces in my mind, and I scribbled down some thoughts while with a friend, but I can’t find that paper. C’est la vie. Let’s see what happens.

Beginning

I should probably talk again about what the 333 project was based on. Many friends of mine were doing 365 projects, where you post a pic a day. I liked the idea, but missed the start of the year, so I decided I could do a 333 project based on that many days in the year left, as well as 3 being my favorite number. My posts had to do with the numbers 3, 6, or 9 either literally or figuratively. If you want a quick background, please read my post HERE about the significance of the numbers. I highly recommend this, or the rest won’t make sense.

Middle

Reflecting on the number 3, and how it has played in my life since February, 2010, I see many births, beginnings, creation. Some of them were wonderful, some of them very painful. Many of them came out of loss and death, which is embodied in the number 9.

My project itself was born out of the ending of a very special relationship, which led me to focus in more on myself and start fresh and redefine myself. (Let me just add that going back and reading my old blogs is a trip!)  Here is when I made the commitment to myself.

10-17-09 symbolized for me a new beginning in my relationships with Myself and everyone I interact with. It symbolized a letting go of destructive views and behaviors and an embracing of a life based first and foremost on love.

And during my project, an old love was being rekindled and fostered. In fact, it was our third time dating since we we were 15. Heck, we even fell in love in our 15th year (1 + 5=6). Don’t they say third time is a charm?

I experienced the death of two family members, the cancellation of a very exciting trip to Nice, and received notice that I had not matched for a pharmacy residency all within two months.  The death of my grandmother brought together 3 generations of women, which was a beautiful reconnection. We all shared our love (6) while we mourned the loss of our matron (9), and this allowed us to move on and start again (3). My daughter’s father came back in the picture after 11 years, which was, and is, bittersweet. I finished up ten years of college upon graduating with my Doctor of Pharmacy, and I moved with my daughter to Maui, an island way out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Talk about a big change! I was again ready to treat myself better. The relationship I had been in all this time ended, and I found myself feeling strong, but a bit lost. I started and ended a pharmacy residency, and now I am starting my own business. I also have reached a new phase in my life, which is only just beginning to unfold.

Now is when I wonder if I do a timeline or go through each category? Everything ties into itself, with 3, 6 and 9 working together in a cycle. So, I think I will just work on reflection, rather than recounting things. Let’s start with today…..

12/18/11

Reading “The Wisdom of Patanjali‘s Yoga Sutras” by Ravi Ravindra, I found myself with a deeper understanding than in prior times. Before I could comprehend the philosophy of it, but now I can say that I have embodied just the beginnings of some of the first chapters.

I feel that I have learned to let go of a lot and flow more with the cycle of death and birth, and I have accomplished this through love. When I made that commitment to myself in October of 2009 (see above), it was powerful. It started with loving myself. I had to learn to love myself first and forgive myself for any mistakes I had made. Flowing with love requires letting go of attachments. In the yoga sutras, vairagya is the concept of non-attachment and brings freedom from personal desire. “This includes desire for salvation or enlightenment, as well as the desire for great knowledge or wonderful experiences.” My journey in love and relationships has led me to deal with my attachments to certain things, and to realize the pain these attachments cause. One by one, I identify an attachment, dive into it to find the root, and pull the plug, letting the pool drain away. My motivation for this self-reflection has been freedom from the pain that I knew I was causing myself. Yet, it has taken me on a path much wider and more beautiful than I imagined, for I never viewed the path, never projected what I thought it would be like. I was going into the unknown, and I simply knew it would be better than what I had been experiencing. Life has shown me that I can’t know the future, and to project actually prevents me from experiencing the Real, which may be oh so much nicer than what I can imagine.

In the book, vairagya is “freedom from myself, the self which is constituted by all my past actions, fears, desires, ambitions. It is a dying to myself.” I feel that is what I am working toward. I was a dancer. I still am, but not in action. To call myself a dancer is to identify with certain ways of being. After 10 years of college and several years of triathlon, I have realized that movement is what moves me. It’s all a dance, an internal dance with one’s self. It is a constant meeting of doubts and insecurities, and ideally a spinning away of those feelings and thoughts, leading to a lightness, an elevation of spirit within. It brings tears to my eyes thinking of the beauty of the lifting of the soul in movement. There, right there, is an attachment to past feelings, and that’s okay, for now.

From the book on dying to myself:

“We are like

A bird in a cage.

It’s door wide open.

With no practice in flying,

sitting in the cage,

composing an ode

To freedom.”

How sad to have the ability to fly, but be so settled in what we DO know that we never try.

I have always felt there is something very powerful within me, a certain “greatness”. I never dared to say this to anyone, for it may come across as pompous. This quote from Krishnamurti, one of my favorites, explains what I have sensed all my life but denied until recently.

“To be absolutely nothing is to be beyond measure.” (Journal, p. 73)

To be empty is to be full. When you let go of what you “know”, you make room for the Real. When riding my bike that day that I planned this post, I had a feeling of being a channel of positive energy. What you put out in the world comes back to you, and what you put out in the world comes from others. When you channel positive energy, you are simply a receiver. Love moves through you. It is no longer just from you to others. It is boundless, for you accept love from others and give it freely. Like the torus, it is a constant flow, and the more you are empty and can let go of attachment to love and what you “know” love to be, the more love you have in your life. I had a day recently where the love was running so freely through me, that everything glowed. Everything was vibrant and beautiful, and my skin prickled with calm excitement. I was an open channel and would have kissed any of my dear friends and let them know how beautiful they are.

The End? No, for that is only the opening for another beginning……

“To be absolutely nothing is to be beyond measure.”

By letting go of the image I had built of myself in others’ eyes, and letting go of what I thought I once was, I am allowing myself to be me, truly me. I have been taking more yoga and putting my bike aside, for my body and mind are wanting more movement. I recently decided I want to dance again, to try any and all movement possibilities available to me. Right when I decided that, I was told of a dance class being offered just one night by some women from Phoenix. It was three classes rolled into one: classical jazz, hip-hop, and modern/contemporary. I was ecstatic to realize that my body was strong enough (thank you yoga!) to fully express and go into the movements with conviction. My training did not fail me. It’s all there. All those years of sweat, tears, dedication, and LOVE of movement are in my cells, in my heart. My energy level was so high afterward, I can’t describe the joy I felt to dance again, to truly move through the space within me and within the room. I had ideas of what I would like to do with my experience, which I will save for later.

Right now, I am letting go so that I can fly. I am learning to trust myself and let myself fly. No longer composing that ode to freedom. The door is wide open, and with the new year, I am taking that leap of faith into the beautiful unknown. Like my friend TJ Frank said, “In Faith, No Fear”.

Have You Been Vulnerable Today?

I have seen this video from TedX before, and I may have shared it before, but I felt it worth sharing again. Especially during the holidaze, when so many family issues come to the surface, this is a great reminder and eye opener. I have struggled for a long time to feel the comfort with vulnerability Brene Brown speaks of in this video. It has been a slow process. I recently hung out with a new friend who is on the cusp of a new outlook on life, one step closer to living his truth. I told him why I now feel so emotionally and mentally secure, which is because I had a nervous breakdown in 2008, and I vowed NEVER, EVER to let myself get that way again. After sharing that, I was driving away, and I was overwhelmed with the realization of how far I have come. The tears welled up, which confused me, but I realized that it’s a good thing. I am okay with me, and I am proud of how much I have let go. I have a long way to go, but I have turned my life around for the better. Enjoy this video. Share it. Digest it. Watch it as many times as you care to. Then watch the second one. Wash, rinse, repeat.

Much love, Me.

Spinning

Lots of jumbled thoughts today, tonight, lately.

Started out my day very early, hit the snooze for too long, then jetted off to Paia around 5:15am. At Anthony’s, the girl working there showed another customer and me a counterfeit dollar bill. It looked and felt exactly like a real dollar bill, but it had Santa Claus in the middle instead of George. Just one of those fun oddities in an otherwise “normal” day. On the way to Twin Falls, the weather was bad…very wet and windy. Part of our group decided we would join a 7:30am group going out to West Maui instead. Since we had an hour to kill, we went back to Anthony’s. Yum!

It was a good group of riders that headed out. We kept the pace pretty easy, but it was hard not to with the headwinds. One thing I did notice was that people didn’t seem to understand how to draft in crosswind, which means they didn’t seem to know the best place to be when at the front of the line either. I find that on every ride with a crosswind here, the person up front tends to be on the opposite side of the shoulder they need to be on. When I thought about a windsurfer (because most of the cyclists I ride with have a windsurfing background), they don’t want to get behind another windsurfer, because they need that wind. Perhaps that thinking affects their cycling? I like to think of the peleton as a cat and its tail. The person up front is the cat, and everyone after is the tail. You need to leave room for the tail to blow with the wind in the shoulder of the road without it running off the road or into traffic where it could get run over. It would be good to have a clinic on intermediate cycling skills, such as how to ride in a pack, how to draft in a pack, in wind, etc, and tactics for races…… I know a few people who could do that. 🙂

So, the ride was brutal. The headwinds were so tough on parts that I was out of my saddle pumping uphill just to keep myself moving forward. I wasn’t able to hydrate or fuel well because I had my hands on the handlebars all the time, prepared for the next unpredictable gust of wind. We went from Paia to Lahaina, all around West Maui, then back into Paia, with a short stop at the art gallery outside of Kahakuloa.

I made myself some yummy fish tacos when I got home and proceeded to chill, but my mind was racing… I have to move stuff downstairs, and clean the whole upstairs top to bottom. I didn’t feel like moving anything or cleaning anything. I have stuff for work I need to do, but I didn’t want to get in front of the computer right away, and I had questions in my head about relationships. So, I layed on my bed, immobilized by indecision. One must not get attached. It’s that simple. Then you don’t get hurt. BUT, if you don’t let yourself get attached, you are guarding and not fully loving. So, what’s a girl to do? It’s a vicious cycle, but I saw a quote today from Dr. Seuss that pretty much sums up how I look at ANY disappointment in life:

 “I won’t cry because it’s over, I’ll smile because it happened.”

Tonight, my daughter and I fought about her schoolwork. I want her to do well, she thinks it’s boring and thus hard. She said, ” I don’t need this boring stuff for what I want to do anyway. You don’t need this for art.” HA! Little does she know. I pulled up Juilliard and Berklee College of Music to see their admission stats. The lowest GPA of people Juilliard accepted was 3.9. Berklee was not the same, but the % of people below 3.0 was very small. They must have been geniuses at music, or rich, or both.

We battled, and she spun things around, put words in my mouth, talked in circles…I kept  trying to bring her back to what I was trying to say. Then, I explained to her that I believe with all my heart she can do whatever she sets her mind to. She is a very creative, loving, bright girl with the potential to do well at many things. I wanted her to have the opportunity to be all she could be, to really explore her talents to the utmost. Then, I reminded her that I left my family when I was 16 to study ballet, and I experienced some of the most amazing things through my art because I had the opportunity to really take my dancing to the next level. I want that for her, but I can’t do it for her. She heard that, I think.

Then, I told her she had to skip swimming until her homework was done. That was the end of the quiet listening. Oh well. All in all, a good day with lots of spinning….. on my bike, in my head, and in my heart.

I don’t have to be a hippy

A heart being used as a symbol of love. Photo ...

All you need is love, love....love is all you need

I realized today that somewhere, somehow, I have reached the point where I honestly have love in my heart for everyone. It sounds cheesy at first, but really it just means that I can see beyond actions and not take things personally. I am in charge of myself and my reactions. After having gone through some really tough times, I can see what may be the root of some people’s “poor” behavior.

We are each alone in our struggle in this world, at least internally. While we can connect with people, and we affect people, we each can only battle our internal demons with ourself. Even with therapy, we must do the dirty work ourselves. Knowing this, and having sympathy for every other human being who has to battle whatever their demons are every day, I feel compassion over hurt or anger.

I have love in my heart for everyone, and I don’t even have to be a hippy to live that way.