Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Day After

What has surprised me in today's conversations was the "day after" theme.  September 11 has left an imprint in our lives as do all tragedies, heartbreaks or major life challenges.  Until today, I had not thought about the "day after" these momentous occasions.  What do we do to pick up the pieces?  How do we find peace despite the chaos?  Where do we go?  How do we move forward?  The questions and what ifs are endless.

My practice prepares me for the "day after."  As a holistic yoga practitioner, my practice is not just of asana or physical poses but that of breath, meditation and ritual.  My yoga practice seeks to establish balance of mind, body & spirit as well as the emotional, chemical and structural elements of my being.

It is on my mat that I seek refuge and find quiet.  My yoga practice connects me to myself, the community and the Divine.  On my mat I am fearless, strong, empowered with choice, brave and courageous.  My practice helps me remember that off my mat I am all of those things.  My practice is in the everyday activities on and off that magic carpet.  So the "day after" I remain fearless, strong, empowered with choice, brave and courageous.

My business' tagline is, "To illuminate your path for life's adventure."  My intention is to teach you tips and tricks to enable you to practice on and off the mat today and the "day after".  May you find inspiration in my written and spoken words.  May you be supported by your practice.  May this day by a reminder to be present... after all it is a gift.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Gift of Love in All Relationships

My Sister Allison & I
Today would be my sixth wedding anniversary.  Not being good with remembering this date, I forgot all about it until a colleague brought up the Renaissance Festival.  Ah yes... an anniversary celebration included a trip to the festival.  Since Monday, I've been plagued with the approaching "holiday".

Throughout the entire week I struggled with anxious feelings.  Not knowing why... perhaps not stopping long enough to recognize what it was... I did my stress relieving things.  Salt baths, yoga, meditation, hikes and cooking helped me feel good but didn't relieve the underlying anxiety.  It was in conversation with friends I began to notice a pattern.  When I admitted the day was approaching and came clean with my feelings of anger, the anxiety lifted.

My Father & I
My divorce was two years in the making.  The first a year of non-traditional marriage and although the divorce was amicable, the second year included resolution of other legal obligations.  In the dissolution of my marriage, I single-handedly bared the weight of five years worth of legal and financial troubles.  My anger had been building.  In the end over $7000 spent with 2 lawyers and banker telling me they hadn't seen a case like mine before.  The day, once a celebration of two friends joining in marriage, has become a reminder of the anger I have for the lack of respect from my once best friend.

So this day has arrived.  I laid in bed reflecting... meditating.  I had been challenged to find a way to acknowledge this day.  The choice is mine.  Not only did Ron and I join in marriage but my friends and family gathered to celebrate love.  That beautiful undying and mysterious feeling does not haunt this day but blesses it.  My morning intention becomes obvious... My anger dissolves and I bathe in Loving Kindness.

My Cousin & I
The best parts of my wedding day were the kisses and hugs from all who gathered.  Today, I celebrate the gift of love in all relationships.  I honor the friends and family that have wiped my tears, embraced me in their arms and supported my growth.  Each has given me smiles and reminded me of my light.  This day I see the love in all of my relationships and I give thanks.

Perhaps you are wondering... How can I share gratitude with those I love?  How can I honor my relationships?  Let's all try.  Please join me today in celebrating the Gift of Love in All Relationships.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Are You Hearing or Listening?

Are you tuned out or busy thinking about what you're going to say next?  Are you asking for clarification on what is being shared?  When we are completely present with the people we're communicating with, the engagement can be a meditative practice.

We bring an openhearted presence to our thoughts and feelings rather than reacting out of fear or hurt when we approach our conversations as we do meditation.  Being in meditation is being in a place of patience, observation and objectivity of the moment.  A good listener has those skills and is often a widely-valued friend, employee and family member.

Most of these tips I learned when working with teenagers; from suicide to break ups and sex to God, we talked about it all.  I cannot imagine a tougher group to communicate with.  I find the following tips help me to be a good listener to people of all ages.

Paraphrase what you hear... An active listener will listen to what you are saying and may often repeat the main points to establish an understanding.  This may be done by saying, “What I am hearing you say is…” finishing the sentence by paraphrasing the speaker's points.  This helps to avoid mis-communication and develops trust with the person talking. 

Ask about their experience or feelings... With this tip, you will be avoiding the pitfalls of unintentionally assuming, judging or labeling the other person’s experiences.  Ask, “How does that make you feel?”  This question opens the door for your friend to share about their experience.  For those individuals that are shy or the topic is sensitive they may use the “I don’t know” excuse.  You can easily turn it around by saying, “If you did know…?”  That usually elicits a response and keeps the conversation flowing.  The response may not be the answer you are looking for but it will keep the person from closing conversation's door.

Stay grounded... Remember you always have your breath.  Just as your breath grounds you on the mat, it will ground you in a conversation allowing you to ride the wave of emotion rather than be swept away with it.  

Let’s bring our meditation practice to our relationships and listen.