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    Tiger Sanctuary in the Bitterroot

     

    I live on 20 acres in the Bitterroot Valley, Montana. As far as I know I am the only person with a Bengal Tiger Sanctuary. Is it real or is it imagined? Both I am inclined to say. It began one day while I was moving some strong energy through my body and through my heart.

    I was in a professional relationship that was no longer supporting me and on this morning I cut the cord, ending a 5 year stint of never feeling like I was good enough. I was never heard and subsequently never felt “safe” in this relationship. But I believe this was needed in order for me to heal some old wounds. I believe that we have generations of wounds and injuries stored in our tissues. I also believe that it is our journey to heal the old generational wounds in order for me and future generations to live more fully in their hearts.

    While moving this stored and blocked energy in my body I received a gift from the mythic world. A gorgeous Bengal tiger appeared to me. He was winding and pacing around the area I was in, snarling, growling and swiping his paws in the air.  I received a very clear message that my tiger was protecting me. I felt the protection and relaxed into my new reality.  I am unable to fabricate this experience. I am writing from within the energy that is flowing through my body.

    That same day while moving my body in spontaneous ways, I looked out of my studio windows and there in the tall grasses of my land were dozens of Bengal Tigers. Wow! I had a whole streak of tigers. (A streak is the name for a bunch of tigers!) Once again, a feeling of safety and protection washed over me. I have a new ally in my inner world who is showing up in my outer world. I believe this is my yoga. I feel safe to be my own unique self while meditating. I inhabit my outer world with strength and vitality, tall in my posture and with 360 degree awareness. Alert and ready. Relaxed and easy in spirit.

    And as I clear my land, ridding it of noxious weeds like thistle and the spotted knap weed, I feel as if I am in a regenerative relationship with the natural world. Just like every other relationship in my life, I am taking great care to create a sanctuary for my tiger allies. It is celebratory and a ritual that is now part of my daily existence. There are stretches of days where I sense my tiger friends are being lazy, sleeping in the tall grasses and there are days where I can feel them waking, stretching and prowling the boundaries. It always coincides with my inner world. I am aware of days that I feel settled and clear (tigers are sleeping and resting.) There are days where I feel like I need to protect myself, my professional work and my family and then the tigers are snarling and pacing. It’s wonderfully liberating and soothing to have such support from the mythic world.

    I am creature. I am human. I am Divine. This is my yoga.

    a-streak-of-tigers

     

     

    Living Instinctively

    I had another river experience over the weekend. If you live in the Bitterroot Valley you know the Bitterroot River. It seems fairly benign if you observe it from the banks. No stretches of big white water, nobody photographing the “carnage” of rafts upending. What the river does possess is a steady supply of downed trees with lots of branches and root balls. These are the hazards of the Bitterroot.

    On this particular Saturday I took my pups on a walk. I had my trusty terrier Birdie and the new addition to the pack, Rocky the Brittany. At 4 months of age she is learning everyday what it means to be a pack member. It was a sunny but chilly day, chillier than most July’s where I live. We took our walk at an area called Bell Crossing. There are a few trails available and this day I chose to stay to more inland, parallel to the river. Rocky was just getting comfortable with swimming in water that had a current. My husband and I had taken her rafting a few weeks prior, keeping her on a leash inside the raft. When we would get to a good “learning to swim” spot we would let the dogs out to jump and play in the safer, quiet waters. Rocky proved to be a natural dog paddler. I was filled with awe as she used her natural instincts to navigate the currents of the river.

    Our weekend walk was lovely. My sense of sight was wide awake, enjoying purple and white wildflowers. My cells and tissues were being nourished with the songs of birds who play and hunt along the river. I was relaxed and peaceful, watching the dogs interact with the natural world. I had put a significant amount of time into training Rocky and the fruits of my labor were evident. She came to me when called, sat down at my feet to receive her treat and was acting natural and free.

    I also felt natural and free, taking this time to be with what I love.  

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    We were coming to the end of the river trail, which dumps out at the waters edge. Rocky and Birdie were ahead of me. I had an eyeball on Birdie but Rocky was not in sight.

    I ran to the water’s edge and there she was, in the strong current with a fallen tree 3 feet from where she was!

    I threw off my backpack and jumped in to rescue her. I slipped a couple of fingers under her collar and gently pulled her into shore. Safe! She was non-plussed, rolling around in the sand, warming herself with her wriggling and writhing. I walked out and up the bank, picked up my backpack and off we went. I always love those moments when I can feel the adrenaline flowing through my body and then quickly returning to the rest and relax phase of my nervous system. Thank you meditation!! I have a healthy nervous system and that is a bold statement after years of anxiety and fear!

    Reflecting now, days later, I was curious about my natural instincts, in particular the protecting instinct. I had a gut instinct to jump in and rescue Rocky. No question about it. If I had denied the feeling she may well have been sucked under the tree, swirling around the roots and branches, with the possibility of being spit out the other side, or not. I wanted more of this type of surety in my day to day life. I knew exactly what to do. Gradually, due to a daily meditation practice I am learning that the instincts are innate, natural, and have been with me since birth.

    As my teachers Lorin Roche and Camille Maurine say “The instincts are the wise motions of life!” img_3331

     

    The Path of Intimacy

    The Path of Intimacy:

    A Meditation Style to Love

    It began one dark, cold morning. My meditation for today was to have my favorite morning beverage and savor the taste of the warm, sweet liquid as it flowed down into my belly. I wrapped my hands around my cup and the heat was absorbed into my skin. The color of the liquid was that of milk chocolate and the fragrance…Mmmmmmm. My favorite part of my morning coffee. This was my elixir.  hands-on-tea-cup

    And that was the beginning of my travels on the Path of Intimacy. I could really get my heart around this! 5 minutes was all I needed to begin my day with a smile on my face and an opening of my heart to the wonder of the natural world. Since that morning over 2 years ago my meditations have always been interesting. I was stepping into the flow of my life. The snow began to sparkle in ways I was never aware of. The greens and browns of the trees were buzzing in my inner world. I never miss a day of immersing myself in the brilliance that is radiating within me and around me.

    We can speak of two paths of meditation. The Path of Intimacy which includes acceptance, expressing individuality, and living in the world vs. the Path of the Renunciate where obedience, denial and celibacy reside. Which path appeals to you? We need both of these styles of meditation but what ideals are most often portrayed? Quiet the mind and return to your focus of meditation are the instructions so often spoken of in meditation circles. Which is why so many individuals feel like they have failed! Living in the world with our families, pets, jobs, financial responsibilities, stress, stress and more stress is more conducive to the path of intimacy.

    Spending ten minutes after work and before dinner to review your day is healthy.

    This is how we learn from our exchanges with others, what activities we spent time on and how we moved through each day. This is what most meditators leave out. Professional sports teams always review the tape from the game. That’s how they learn! Olympic athletes go over their performances to see how they can improve their time. Meditators on the path of intimacy review to see when they stepped away from their flow and when they were deeply immersed in it.

    I tried the path of denial, hitting myself internally when a thought would come into my meditation time and it simply was not for me. I had thoughts of failure, shame and disgust that I couldn’t block out my never- ending stream of thoughts. I’m still healing from this and I will write about this in my next blog.anchorage-meditation-photo

    So now, I spend time thinking of what I LOVE and will engage all of my senses, embrace my desires and pay attention to my natural instincts. The elemental world in which I live is such a dear friend, with the air that is being exhaled by the trees and the rivers nourishing me. I no longer run from my emotions that flood my body and my heart for I know that without them I would be dull, with no energy flowing through me.

     

    This whole universe is a path of liberation,

    A vast arena for your endless play.

    Playing, let your awareness be everywhere at once.

    Planets, stars, swirling galaxies, subatomic motes—

    All are dancing within you.

    Enter the rhythm,

    Descend into the space between beats.

    Dissolve into intimacy with the Dancing One.

                                                                 Sutra 33 from the Radiance Sutras

     

    The Golden Arches of the Magical Kingdom

    I was kickin it old school with my friend Mary on this particular Friday afternoon and I really wasn’t prepared for what was about to take place.  I had been meditating regularly for a year now after discovering a style that fit me perfectly, and this practice was the catalyst to my adventure. What I have found with the practice of meditation is that the really cool things happen after you meditate. Being relaxed and tension free open you up to a clearer picture of life.

    I left my house about 2 pm on this afternoon. I realized that I left the house with no driver’s license and no money and it was too much of a drive to turn around and grab my purse.  My intention was to pick up a 6 pack to share with my friend before heading to meet her. I stopped at the bank, went inside and told the teller I needed some money. No problem. They knew me well and handed over $30 out of my checking account. The beer was purchased along with a pound of my favorite coffee for the following Saturday morning.

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    I traveled to the little town of Darby, which was about an hour trip from my home. Mary and her husband Shane are living on a ranch where Shane has been working for the last couple of years. Thousands of acres of the most incredibly beautiful surroundings you could ever hope for. They live in a 400 square foot cabin, overlooking the Bitterroot River. Bison, elk and cattle are their neighbors. For me, the most perfect place to write, meditate and enjoy the beauty of nature.

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    We decided that today was the day we would float down the river on inner tubes that Mary had purchased from Costco.

    She was excited that she found a great deal at 2 for $20. 

    They had a net bottom, a cubby for your beer and a lovely headrest. We entered the river after a short drive from the cabin. On this particular afternoon it wasn’t too hot and a pretty strong breeze was blowing, causing Mary to have a bit of concern about how it would affect our float trip. We got a later start than originally planned and the sky was filling up with big puffy clouds and the wind was picking up in intensity. I wasn’t concerned.

    I had never floated a river in an inner tube before.

    My husband and I  had a Mad River canoe, a raft and a fishing boat. There was no reason for me to hang my rear end in a cold river with no way to steer my craft! We stepped into the chilly water and off we went. Quickly I discovered that this was possibly the best way to kill a Friday afternoon. My little dog Birdie, a cold beer and a gorgeous afternoon was all it took for me to settle into a state of meditation. I laid my head back and let go.

    Floating effortlessly, spinning and going down river backwards most of the time was okay with me. I was absorbed in the beauty of the sky, the leaves of the trees blowing in the wind and the ospreys dancing in the blue sky above me. Spontaneous laughter kept bubbling up in me as I enjoyed what became a moving meditation.

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    By now Mary and I were not even close to one another and I was fully engrossed in the feeling tone of being alive and in the present moment. Then, without warning I developed a funny feeling in my gut and the next thing I knew my Costco special and I were heading directly into a huge ponderosa pine that was laying halfway across the river! I had to think fast if I had a chance in hell in avoiding this fast approaching obstacle. It was too late! Birdie and I were going in. I grabbed her, reached up and hung onto a branch. The water was flowing strongly and I to my surprise I realized the best course of action was to simply let go.  (I am one of those unfortunate people that tend to freeze or laugh hysterically in times of fear.) We shot right through the obstacle with branches scratching my face, hands and arms.

    We were safe!

    Our landing spot was about 10 more minutes downriver and as my scruffy little terrier and I climbed up the rocky bank I realized I had just had a near death experience. Every year a few souls drown on this seemingly innocent river and that could have been us. I even heard in my mind, post-mortem, my friends and family saying things like “she was an excellent swimmer” and “why wasn’t she wearing a PFD?”

    After this harrowing experience my little pup and I drove into the next town and stopped at McDonald’s for a few burgers.

    If you know me at all this sentence alone will probably surprise you.

    Being a yogi and a healthy eater, this is an establishment I hadn’t been to in over 20 years, but I only had a few dollars and had left my shorts in Mary’s car.  When we drove into the lane to order our food I felt like I had just landed on Earth and everything was brand new. I was flying high and was mesmerized by the menu. Quarter Pounder? Big Mac? What was I going to order? I wanted all of them! The gal that handed me my bag of aromatic food warned me. “Be careful with those french fries. They are HOT!” I wanted to kiss her and tell her that she was an amazing person.

    mcdonalds

    This high I was experiencing lasted about 3 hours. I tried in vain to explain to my son when I got home that I was having a spiritual experience. I couldn’t find the words so I went out into my garden and twirled around, looking up at the sky and laughing. There were lots and lots of sensations that indicated that I was quite possibly standing in the middle of the magical kingdom.  French fries, Big Macs and my little dog Birdie were there with me in the kingdom. I will always fondly remember this adventure as a time when I opened myself up to all possibilities that life has to offer me. I felt like a kid again in that inner tube.

    If you haven’t found a meditation style that fits like that perfect pair of shoes, give me a call for I am becoming a meditation guide.  I’m in love with the style that I am studying and practicing. It is for you and me, householders living in the world.

    Embracing life as it comes and turning all of your war dances into love dances. 

     

    A Mantra Meditation to Balance

    Recently I have begun a meditation practice using the mantra Ahum Idam. I resisted this practice initially. It was a homework assignment from my meditation teacher Dr. Lorin Roche. I received this assignment back in October, 2017.  I know myself pretty well and if there is resistance in my body/mind there is a pretty good chance there is some juicy stuff in there for me to look at. Another opportunity to understand myself and how I move through life.

     

    The translation of “Ahum” is “I Am.” It is a state of being, a state of I am-ness. A realization that you have arrived in this world to be, you are pure light and pure love.  You are born in the energy of love and light. There is a certain vibration that is occurring as you arrive into the world. Could that vibration be AHUM? Idam is translated as “I Act or I do.” And that mantra also contains a vibration.  As I sat in my favorite meditation space, early in the morning just a couple of weeks ago, surrounded by my pack of dogs (my favorite position lately) I began the repetition of Ahum Idam. The ahum mantra was familiar to me for I had used this repetition for years. I liked it. Sometimes the English variation would come through as I sat quietly, and then the Sanskrit would float in. After a few minutes, IDAM wanderered in.  After settling into a rhythm of ahum idam, the images came streaming in. Feminine, masculine and the images of Shiva and Shakti, back and forth, flowing seamlessly from one to the other. I was in the flow and loving what this mantra was waking up within my mind, body and spirit.

     

    I am the balance of masculine and feminine.

     

    Let’s look at feminine energy and see how this relates to your life. I think it is important to remind ourselves that we are made of energy. We have electrical currents flowing through us all day and all night. The currents embody qualities and one of those qualities is femininity. And let’s be clear. Both men and women contain these energies. A feminine energy has the qualities of intuition, allowing, receptivity and dreams. Being open and aware, going with the flow, watery and fluid.  Can we be too feminine? Yes! Not standing up for yourself and giving up all control are signs of being too feminine. I also believe we become ungrounded or anxious when the feminine is taking over. AHUM.

     

    Masculine energy has an ego-driven quality to it. Living from your head, being in control (not letting go!) producing and constantly going.  We become tired, over-stimulated, stressed out and irritable. Running on auto-pilot and not living from our hearts but rather from our heads results in feeling a lack of intimacy – with others and with life.  We are taught in this culture that if we aren’t producing we’re lazy and unmotivated, not worthy of taking up space.

    masculine-feminine-energies

    I am writing this piece because of my realization that I have both of these energies.

     

    When I fail to soften, I realize that it comes from fear.

     

    It comes from not trusting myself to feel into each moment, each breath. And when I laid down my ego driven, masculine side with the ahum idam meditation, a beautiful world opened up more fully for me. Perhaps this is why I have taken to the practice of Yin Yoga, like a fish in water, a balancing practice, a way to temper my attraction to the “doing” that I was so familiar with.  A practice that has allowed me to heal my tired, overworked body and mind. A practice of trust.

    Resistance and Yin Yoga

    Recently I was invited to teach yoga teachers a course on Yin Yoga. I became a yin convert in the year 2013. Being primarily a yoga student who took classes in the “flow” style of yoga, I hadn’t been exposed to anything other than that. I was a runner, a swimmer, a biker and a skier most of my life. Basically, any sport or activity that involved speed and movement I was in!

    As I write this piece, I think back to my life growing up. I come from a competitive family, where family time included lots of games and sports. My folks worked hard and played hard. They taught us the value of “producing.” I didn’t know anything other than that. I began to tie my self-worth to how well I did in school and what place I came in during a swimming competition. I was applauded for how fast I could get down the hill at Boyne Mountain ski area. And there’s nothing wrong with any of these concepts, except if you attach your self-worth to them.

    During the winter of 2013, I attended a yoga workshop at Boulder Hot Springs. The hot springs is located in the beautiful Peace Valley, surrounded by hills and open spaces. There is a sacredness to this place. If you haven’t visited Boulder Hot Springs, you must. It’s magical. I went with my good friend Karen, for she was a student of Charles and Judy from Helena. They are Iyengar teachers who have stayed true to their lineage. I appreciated the discipline and precision which comes along with the Iyengar method of yoga.

    The first day we spent an unbelievable amount of time in Mountain Pose. It felt like hours to this fast-flowing yogini! I remember thinking “when is this going to be over with!” several times during the pose. Gradually, I surrendered my resistance. My body and monkey mind were going crazy, but I also trusted these two teachers. My friend Karen kept looking over at me, with a somewhat worried look on her face!

    In the afternoon of the first day we finally moved from Mountain Pose to some seated postures. Again, no flow, no movement. What was happening here? Was there something other than flow? Why didn’t we practice a vinyasa to get to the floor? Again, I trusted someone other than me.

    A theme was forming here in my mind.

    Trust and surrender.

    My teachers invited us into a supported variation of Janu Shirshasana, head-to-knee pose. I was sitting on the corner of a dark, wool blanket. They gave me a moss colored bolster and two purple blocks with the words “you are going to need these.” The next instruction was to fold over our straight, left leg. I was sitting up on a blanket so that I could rotate my pelvis forward. I was encouraged to place a small towel under my left knee due to the tightness of my hamstring muscles. Thank you years of running with no stretching!

    I had the impression I had been running from many things in my life, not just the road under my feet.

    After what seems like an eternity, I felt the tears begin to roll down my face. Something magical was happening in the back of my left leg. I felt it begin to soften, to let go. And with this surrendering, came freedom! Freedom from tight hamstrings and freedom from limiting beliefs about myself. I tell this story today with a huge soft spot in my heart for these incredible teachers, for they showed me a different way. Did they realize it? I’m pretty sure they did, even though I was too shy and unsure of myself to speak to them about my experience. They silently handed me a Kleenex to sop up my tears that were puddling on my yoga mat under my face. Was my head on my knee like the pose suggested? No, but it was closer than it had ever been before. I was closer to something magical.

    Today, 5 years later I teach Yin Yoga, the practice of quiet power. Was the term Yin Yoga ever mentioned at this Iyengar workshop? No. But I began my journey of this new style of yoga on my own. I researched and read all I could about long held postures.

    What I discovered was this may be the “original” style of yoga.

    The type of yoga asana that is written about in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali is very yin in nature. Feminine, dark, yielding and cold. We are learning how to establish a comfortable and steady seat for the practice of meditation. Since most of the population of the West sits on furniture this comfy seat is challenging. Tight hips, challenged knee joints and ankles that don’t move are common among us Westerners.

    I consider myself to be a reformed resistor.

    Once in a while I catch myself resisting an idea, a dogma, a style of yoga. Now I trust myself. Those teachers opened the doorway to something magical, healing and liberating. I am now a certified yin instructor because I believe in the incredible benefits we receive from slowing down and turning inward.

    Not to mention it feels fantastic to have hamstrings that do not resemble guitar strings!

    Martha will be teaching another Yin Yoga workshop in Missoula, MT. You can read about and register for this workshop on the trainings/workshop page.

    red-hat

    The Red Hat

    It was a few days after Christmas and I received a notice from the post office that a package was waiting for me. The notice arrived on a particularly snowy Wednesday afternoon. So snowy in fact that I thought twice about driving the 12 miles into town to pick it up. It was from my sister-in-law. It had been almost 13 years since my brother Jon had passed away, but I didn’t find it unusual that she was sending me something. We were still close, as close as sisters, able to talk about anything with one another.

    I knew that she had sifted through some of my brother’s memorabilia. She was moving from the house that she had shared with Jon and their daughter, Martha. She was moving on, retiring, and moving into a home with her partner Andy. A couple of months back we had chatted about a box full of old slides, pictures of times long ago that she had found in the basement. Jon loved taking photographs and as I pulled them from the box I realized that here on the table was a trip down memory lane.

    slides

    As the snow continued to fall I settled in with a glass of red wine and dinner bubbling away on the stove. I found an envelop marked “these are the oldest!” so I started there. I held each one up to the light shining over my dining room table. There was a picture of me, floating in our swimming pool, on a styrofoam surfboard with my dog Fritz. I took a deep breath as the memories flooded my mind. I allowed myself to feel, to smell, to touch the sensations that came with that one slide.

    In the box were pictures of my ancestors. Great-grandparents that I had never met. I studied their faces, trying to picture what kind of life they had lived. Long dresses, button up shoes and an artists easel. I can only imagine as the stories of their lives died long ago with so many family members. I wondered what I had inherited from them. Personality traits, traumas, gifts and pain from long ago that had unknowingly been passed down from them to me. I often wonder about that sort of thing.

    ancestor

    A picture of my dad from his high school graduation was also in the memory box. I haven’t seen my dad in a few years because of a mis-understanding, a hurt that I know is still present in my heart. We talk from time to time but the phone calls are really about surface stuff. The weather is always a safe subject, void of memories and pain. I suddenly realize that I am ready to heal those hurts. I don’t want to pass on any of my suffering to my children. I want to pass on my joy.

    The one item that caused me to gasp was this red hat. My brother Jon wore this hat, a lot. He paired it with a grey jacket that had pink fleece on the inside. I miss him, especially this time of year. He would give silly gifts, antique store treasures. A dinner plate that had the “1960” calendar on it was one of the gifts I received.  I was born in 1960 and I have used that plate so much that the gold lettering is now fading. My memories of him aren’t. He was a gift, a treasure to me. He was my soulmate. He still is, from a place far beyond. A place that we can only imagine.

     

     

    Joy – Is it attainable today?

    It’s the season of holidays and dark, long nights. I am writing this piece just before the winter solstice and in Montana where I live the sun will set at 4:49 pm and will reappear at 8:17 am. Even at 9:30 in the morning I have a candle burning next to me, shedding a bit of warmth and light as I contemplate my angel card of the day, “JOY”. It’s a silly little daily habit I have – the picking of the angel card.  

    As I read the card my sarcastic side came alive! I actually spoke out loud to no one in particular “Oh sure – the environment is a mess, our health care system is broken and it’s raining and 36 degrees!

    And I pick JOY?”

    When faced with these types of dilemmas my go-to is to google the word in question. What is the definition of JOY? 

    A feeling of great pleasure and happiness

    Ok. I get it. Do things that are pleasurable and happy. My curious nature takes over at this point. Like all of you I have daily habits. Some of them are supportive of my well being (joyful) and some of them aren’t (agonizing, sad and disappointing). Activities like meditating and daily stretches, being in nature, and my morning cup of coffee invite in joy. Getting lost in face book land and checking my emails 1,000 times a day evoke disappointment. I have found that the supportive activities lead to feelings of joyfulness, peace and calm. The obsessive checking of emails bring about feelings of “I am not enough-ness”, sluggishness and worry.
    I realize the feelings of not enough-ness or anxiety or obsessive and spinning thoughts are the remnents of trauma. I also realize that taking good care of myself and doing something I love everyday are signs of health and wellness. They are signs of feeling worthy of experiencing JOY. And joy is attainable for everyone. Actually, it is your birthright.
    Can I ask you to do a relatively simple exercise?  I’m saying “relatively simple” because I think so many of us have forgotten what it feels like to connect with what feels good. Write down 3 things that you LOVE to do. That’s it. Just write them down and notice how you feel looking at the words. Maybe even visualize the activity in your mind. Take a few deep breaths and soak it up into every nook and cranny of your being. Breathe into your heart. It is your birthright to feel JOY.
    If you are at a point in your life where things aren’t going so great I understand. I’ve been there. It’s the holidays after all and life can feel overwhelming and sad. Joy seems like it is a million miles away. My holiday wish for you is to feel joy. Even if it is for 10 seconds. That is where it all begins.

    Allow yourself to open your heart and feel JOY.

    The author lives in Stevensville, MT with her husband and is mom to a scruffy little terrier.

     

     

     

    Deep Listening

    As a member of the  collective of women on the path of yoga and self-transformation I am dedicated to supporting our values at the YogaMotion Academy.  This is the beauty that I volunteered to write about:

    We actuate deep listening and conscious communication.

    In this day and age we have different forms of communications. Text messages, face book messaging, emails, phone calls, face time, Zoom, Skype, face to face and this isn’t even including the conversations you have with yourself! It’s exhausting!

    As  I sit at my computer to write about deep listening and conscious communication I am being met head on with my own challenges with conscious communication. I know that I am good with this when I am in the teachers seat, leading a group of yogis through breath work, asana or meditation. But I do have a hard time with it when I’m having a conversation with friends and family members.

    Is it possible that we are not pausing before we engage in day to day conversations?  My guess is probably! We live in a world of to-go meals, coffee on the run, deadlines and running the kids to soccer games and school events. Is the lack of mindfulness contributing to so many of our worldly issues? Isn’t this what we are really talking about? What would the world be like if we all just chilled out a bit and took 3 deep breaths?

    In the YogaMotion Academy we take pride in motivating our students to listen deeply to their own hearts. Through connection with ourselves we become more effective in communicating with our community. It is from this passion that we share the yoga. It does begin with the breath moving through us and around us that we are able to listen deeply to ourselves. As a teacher at the Academy my intention as I step into my role is to teach from a place of inner knowing. When we speak from our hearts it is more likely that whoever we are talking to will be more apt to listen. There is a certain type of energy that fills the space when someone is speaking from their hearts. I think I’ll try it in my own day to day interactions.

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    As you sit with yourself and absorb these writings please be gentle. Take a mental note as you move through your day. Are you listening deeply? From this place of deep listening do you feel closer to the person you are communicating with?

    Through honesty, consciousness and listening deeply we pave the road to peace. 

    Even if it is a text message or an email please take a deep breath during your reading of the message. Before you push SEND take a breath. Is this really what you are wanting to say? 

    Through my process of writing I have discovered:

     Like Peanut Butter and Jelly

    Deep Listening and Conscious Communication go hand in hand.

     

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    Sleepless in Stevensville

    As I sit at my dining room table and look out my windows, surveying the “view” I have been wondering about the effect of fire season 2017 has on my nervous system.

    My asana practice has been very limited this summer. I neither have the energy or desire to engage in a strong physical sequences of poses. Rather, I have spent time on my mat doing gentle stretches to ease stressful feelings. I have also enjoyed deepening my meditation practice. It seems to be the one aspect of yoga that invites a sense of peace and calm. And at times that elusive joyfulness. And isn’t that wonderful. After 6 plus weeks of a challenging summer I am incredibly grateful for my meditation.

    One of my favorite meditations at this point is acknowledging the fact that I am breathing. Dropping into my breath does create a sense of calm. I feel our nervous systems have been in the “on” position for several weeks. This means that the stress hormones of cortisol and adrenaline are being produced by the adrenal glands. When we step outside the air quality is challenging our breathing, making it shallow. That fact alone triggers your stress response. Another stressful part of the fire season is the sight of helicopters as well as the sound that the blades make as they sluice through the smoky air.

    Itchy eyes, runny noses and scratchy throats are symptoms many valley residents are experiencing. Personally, I haven’t had a good night’s sleep for about 4 nights. Last night I decided to get out of bed, sit on my couch and do a breathing meditation. Here is what it looked like:

    Step One.  Get comfortable and place one hand on my belly and one hand in the center of my chest.

    Step Two.  Feeling my body expanding and contracting with the inhalations and exhalations.  Belly, ribs and chest rising and falling.

    Step Three. I took my awareness behind my sternum, deep into my body close to the spine. This is my heart space. The place where love resides. Breathing into this space.

    Step Four: As I breathe in and out I simply became aware of emotions that were residing in my heart. These emotions included: Relief, sorrow, peacefulness, anger, happiness, comfort. (No wonder I wasn’t sleeping)

    Step Five: Simply be with these sensations.

    Step Six: Turning off the stress response and turning on relaxation response means climbing back into bed and falling peacefully asleep.

    Thank you Breath.

    Give it a try next time you find yourself Sleepless in Stevensville.