identity crisis…

i’m struggling with an identity crisis, at least here in my writing. see, as the title with which i’ve chosen to identify myself and this space says blissful, it’s important to me that this space is protected from the ruminations of indecision, fretting, sadness, fear. i generally don’t care to complain, and i don’t like to feel like i’m whining. my way when things get tough, usually, is to go inside – and at times i go so deep that often it’s to the point of becoming completely mute. paralyzed, unable to speak with the turning of my mind. i can become completely frozen – almost as though i have lock jaw. i have found this to be infuriating to people, and while i don’t do it on purpose, i realize it protects me – because then i don’t say anything i don’t mean (or that i do mean, but may be hurtful) and i can come to my own conclusions and understanding at my own pace. some people take the silence personally.

but sometimes it’s the writing that helps to unstick me, and i wonder if by keeping it “blissful” i’m also presenting a one-dimensional view to the world. too, because this site is connected to my yoga studio website (read: professional) i want to make sure that i’m presenting inspirational material – which somehow has turned into the habit that i don’t drop in here unless it’s all puppies, rainbows (boots) and unicorns (preferably pink).

sorry to disappoint any of you, but it’s just not all faerie dust all the time around here, i swear.

honestly if it weren’t for yoga and all those other things that aren’t called yoga but heal me, i wouldn’t have the good days because the bad days might never stop. or at least that’s what i become afraid of…. the pit, the paralysis, the angst, the depression might never end. but it does…it always has. metaphorical spring always comes again to my world after the darkest of cold winters.

i wasted spent the gorgeous fall day yesterday inside. on the sofa. writing in my journal and reading grace (eventually) by anne lamott in it’s entirety. looking for answers. the questions? all about finding the line between my own self-respect and compassion for another human being.

as the universe sometimes does, a perfect storm of events led me to a place where i needed to solely focus on processing heart-sinking decisions. i questioned my own reactions and motives, and suffered through a round of (intentionally) suppressed traumatic memories. over the past week i’ve had to deal with a parade of unfamiliar and uncomfortable feelings – rage for one. abandonment and fear of the primal type as well. i sobbed into my pillow for hours late saturday night, and as i mentioned never left the sofa on sunday.

this morning i woke up, still cloudy, sill a little disassociated from the life that is here now in this moment, still living in the past. i drank my coffee, did some morning work, and then did they only thing i could do, i packed my things to go to yoga where it all came pouring out in my practice. each and every emotion came to the surface. {if someone had been watching my face i imagine it would have been like that scene in terminator 2 when they push that shape-shifting T-1000 robot into the pool of molten steel to terminate it, and each time it comes up again it’s another character that it had shifted into during the film}. but somewhere in there, between the emotions, between the thoughts, there was space. and that space is where i find my peace.

i hoped to come out of the studio with the answers. i didn’t. in fact, nothing has really changed except i don’t feel so tight in the chest and jaw, and i don’t feel so closed or afraid anymore. going in to my studio this morning i could have SAID the words “it’s ok. i know we are all just doing our best.” but coming out i believed them.

and THAT, at least, is one step closer to the bliss.

so in light of authenticity…you might read a bit more of this kind of stuff here moving forward. if you’re looking for rainbows and unicorns, stay tuned. they stop by regularly too.

maybe i’ve said this all before…

photo from the cover of prana‘s latest catalog

i think what drew me to yoga in the first place was the empowerment that i found with the practice, but what has kept me practicing is the balance of the science and spirituality…the cause and effect…if you do this how does it feel? if you do it again, how does it feel? what do you notice when you do this? i have a bachelor of science degree and took every kind of science course there is – so i come at it from there. but in my heart of hearts i’m also a mystic and a seeker of truth, and yoga combines these for me in such a beautiful way.

i love that we find ourselves on the mat, rooted in the science, in the earth-bound plane, in the tangibility of earth and nature and the physical body, but with our hearts and minds touching the divine.

the physical practice is just one doorway…

when you peel away all the layers, and give yourself permission to find the bliss in every moment, every posture, every breath – and i really mean it when i say give yourself permission – you find the divine, and it’s right where you left it…inside of you and everyone and everything.

open-hearted…

dropping back.

exhilarating or terrifying depending on where you stand.

before you even start you need to get grounded and feel the earth solid beneath you. then as you press down into your feet and lift up, you’ll feel the earth pressing back against you with all it’s mass and gravity supporting you…

and you need to open your heart in order to bend back. you have to open and lift up – essentially pulling yourself up by your heart-strings, bearing it all, thrusting heavenward and creating space in your spine so that you can ease back, slowly, with control.

you need to have so much trust as you bend your knees and peer back behind you, seeking the ground with your eyes first, then slowly, slowly, release your hands to the earth.

i love backbends…but dropping back into them is something that teases me. a skill i find i have and then i don’t and it’s a curiousity…what is my practice trying to show me? over many years, i have had to learn to trust my practice, trust my body, trust myself. and i have had to learn to honor myself, honor my fear, honor my edges, honor my body and it’s limits.

i did this drop-back  half a dozen times saturday afternoon – fearlessly dropping back and popping up again like a slinky – surrounded by friends after a day of play and conversation on the beach.

but i couldn’t do it at all on sunday morning. not a single one.

i wasn’t sore. or injured.

i was different.

i was afraid.

clearly this is something my body can do. but i can’t separate my body from my mind or my heart and my fear sunday morning was deep-rooted. far more than a fear of falling, far more than embarrassing myself, far more emotional, far less about the posture and all about where my head and heart were living that morning which was not at all in alignment with my highest self. i felt small, fragile, weak and sad. my heart was closed and so was i.

the metaphor doesn’t elude me…and that’s why i return again and again to my mat.

love.

a stroke of insight…

***this is a particularly poignant story here, now as a sweet, 13-year-old girl in our community, isabela rainey, has recently suffered a stroke due to a rare birth defect. please send reiki and prayers. donations are also being collected by the outer banks relief fund to help isabela and her family. information can be found here. thank you. thank you. thank you. ***

♥ ♥ ♥

i have a folder in my browser called ‘brainfood’. it’s where things like TED and this american life live. every once in a while, i feed myself a little piece from this folder, like a candy treat for being productive (oh yes, i know what this says about me). today i found this talk on TED, and if you haven’t seen it before please gift yourself the time to watch. it’s a fascinating story and she is a moving speaker, and yes i even got goosebumps.

i often call myself a scientist (as well as artist, teacher, and all those other things that i’ve worked hard to claim) because as yogis, i believe we are all scientists. yoga, to me, is all about observing and allowing the body and the practice to be an experiment. i’ve been drawn to anatomy and physiology my whole life, and love understanding how we are made and why we are the way we are, why we move the way we do. yoga does it for me because in addition to all that good left brain stuff, it goes beyond and links the science to these ideas of vibes and energy and intention. teaching us that we are able to go within and actually create peace…

lately, i’ve found myself being drawn more and more to sitting meditation (apart from the moving meditation that is my yoga practice) and as i watched dr. taylor speak, i felt myself saying “yes,  yes…that make sense…and that’s where i need to spend more of my time.”

below is some transcript from the video, it doesn’t really give you any real sense of the story, but i found the information interesting…and inspiring.

“Our right hemisphere is all about this present moment. It’s all about “right here, right now.” Our right hemisphere, it thinks in pictures and it learns kinesthetically through the movement of our bodies. Information, in the form of energy, streams in simultaneously through all of our sensory systems and then it explodes into this enormous collage of what this present moment looks like, what this present moment smells like and tastes like, what it feels like and what it sounds like. I am an energy-being connected to the energy all around me through the consciousness of my right hemisphere. We are energy-beings connected to one another through the consciousness of our right hemispheres as one human family. And right here, right now, we are brothers and sisters on this planet, here to make the world a better place. And in this moment we are perfect, we are whole and we are beautiful.

My left hemisphere — our left hemisphere — is a very different place. Our left hemisphere thinks linearly and methodically. Our left hemisphere is all about the past and it’s all about the future. Our left hemisphere is designed to take that enormous collage of the present moment and start picking out details, details and more details about those details. It then categorizes and organizes all that information, associates it with everything in the past we’ve ever learned, and projects into the future all of our possibilities. And our left hemisphere thinks in language. It’s that ongoing brain chatter that connects me and my internal world to my external world. It’s that little voice that says to me, “Hey, you gotta remember to pick up bananas on your way home. I need them in the morning.”


So who are we? We are the life force power of the universe, with manual dexterity and two cognitive minds. And we have the power to choose, moment by moment, who and how we want to be in the world. Right here, right now, I can step into theconsciousness of my right hemisphere, where we are. I am the life-force power of the universe. I am the life-force power of the 50 trillion beautiful molecular geniuses that make up my form, at one with all that is. Or, I can choose to step into the consciousness of my left hemisphere, where I become a single individual, a solid. Separate from the flow, separate from you. I am Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor: intellectual, neuroanatomist. These are the “we” inside of me. Which would you choose? Which do you choose? And when? I believe that the more time we spend choosing to run the deep inner-peace circuitry of our right hemispheres, the more peace we will project into the world, and the more peaceful our planet will be.

And I thought that was an idea worth spreading.”


…getting out of my own way

“there are ways that i limit myself in doing what i want, and then i later become resentful-which is ironic because no one is stopping me from anything but me.” – dancingmermaid

fascinating how sometimes it feels as though some soul has the strength, courage & clarity to put into words some quality or habit or feeling about themselves that rings a big giant gong in my own head. see, there are days when i am so clear about what i want, and i know exactly how i’m going to get there and it’s going to be so easy and i just have to begin and it will all fall into place and happen. but then it doesn’t. because…”I” come up with an obstacle of some kind – something i like to call “reality” but really it’s “fear”.

there’s not really anything i want in my life that i’m incapable of getting. not. one. thing. honestly. granted my wants and wishes aren’t pie in the sky – i don’t really want to go into space or be a celebrity, i don’t have grand material desires for yachts or jewelry. what i want is to write a book and have it published, and to be a self-supporting artist. i want a little art studio space that i love being in every day (instead of wanting yet resisting it because i cry when i try to paint something). i want yoga and my yoga studio to be my only job. i want to have a little mountain house escape. i want to go to tuscany and have a little italian roadtrip. i want to sit less in front of my computer and be outside more. i want to feel exhausted from playing all day and crawl happily into bed and the arms of love.

but as the lovely dancing mermaid said above…somehow i limit myself and then resent it later. what is that about? why do we limit ourselves? my soul sister sufi asked me the other day “what are you afraid of?” one of my responses was that i’m afraid of not living up to the expectations i have of myself. but what does that mean? and if this is true, why do i sabotage myself? and how do i get out of my own way? these are my questions. and as rilke says, i’m tryng to “learn to love the questions themselves”…

do you do this? what do you do to right yourself and get yourself back on course?

How deep is your foundation?

“Whence come the highest mountains? I once asked. Then I learned that they came out of the sea. The evidence is written in their rocks and in the walls of their peaks. It is out of the deepest depth that the highest must come to its height.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche from Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Commentary by Brian Johnson of Philosophers Notes: I love that. I like to look at it two different ways: First, Nietzsche’s talking about suffering here. It’s out of our greatest suffering that our greatness rises. Look at a Lincoln or an Oprah. It’s out of their deepest suffering that their greatness (and compassion!) rises.

I also think of the “foundation” on which a skyscraper is built. You’ve probably heard the truism that if you want to see how tall a building is going to be you need to look at how deeply they’re digging the foundation. Want a 2-story house? No big deal. Don’t need to dig too deep. Don’t need to spend much time or energy on the foundation. Want a 200-story building? Totally (!) different story. Your foundation is perhaps your most important work. It had better be deep. How about you? Are you willing to go deep?

…More Friedrich love:

“I overcame myself, the sufferer; I carried my own ashes to the mountains; I invented a brighter flame for myself.”

“It is out of the deepest depth that the highest must come to its height.”

to all you mommies out there…

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in my own personal quest to learn everything i can about motherhood, i keep getting book suggestions. this one has been recommended to me by several friends. today it was also featured as an interview with the author, karen maezen miller, in one of the blogs i’ve been reading. like karen maezen miller, i have sidestepped the issue of children for a long time. i guess i’ve been in a bit of denial about my advancing age (i’m now 37) but for many other reasons, too…fear and the what-if mind game being just a few of them.

this is one idea that got me in the interview:

What’s your greatest challenge in motherhood right now? Your greatest joy?
My greatest challenge is what it has always been: me. My limitations, my breaking points, my anger, my ideas, my ambitions, my judgments, my fears, my stinginess, my stubbornness. My greatest joy is always my daughter Georgia just as she is. Such pure life! Such whimsy! Such honesty! As she approaches age 9 I see how eternal is our vigil; how tricky the steps. My job now is to watch her turn and not run after, to watch her jump and not buffer the fall; to see her question her place, her heart, and even her body. My job is still to be close by, just to be close by. To feel everything and prevent nothing; to let her life unfold.

wow, what a gift to give your child… the chance to be fully, a child. i suppose it’s about finding that balance between protecting them and allowing them to make their own mistakes. i think this would be such a tremendous practice, as our {my} urge is to protect is so strong. my heart leaps into my throat just watching the children on my street play on skateboards or swingsets. they aren’t even my kids and i’m a nervous mother.

i loved this answer too…

When do you feel most happy?
Now. What other time could there possibly be?

you can just imagine the twinkle in her eye when she says it!

if you’d like to know more about the book, you can also visit her website www.mommazen.com. i particularly love that she used cheerios as her little icons!

if you read it, let me know what you think!

xox

p.s. she also wrote a great article called the dharma of barbie that you can find on her site…

i love…

…that eddie vedder has become the beat poet of our generation (listen to the into the wild soundtrack).

…that the first words on the back of a box of annie’s organic mac n’ cheese are *thank you*!

…that {we} have created the sort of life where a friend can stop over any time and visit for hours and throw off all our plans, but that makes the day better than it would have been.

… the interweb :) and how it connects countless soul sisters, and like minds and hearts through words and pictures over thousands of miles and dozens of countries.

…digital photography and the way you can capture a moment and share it with everyone so quickly and how it has opened up so many people creatively to share the vignettes of their lives.

…the sound of the mandolin.

…the deep stutter-breath sigh of duncan when he finally gets everything just right and can relax…meaning…both bryan and i are sitting still (preferably one of us is rubbing his ears) and he doesn’t have to worry about being left behind – whether we are going downstairs or to costa rica doesn’t matter to his little brain

…candlelight and how it makes even the mundane feel special.

…organic tomatoes.

…words and putting them together just so.

…cafe’s and cafe latte’s and belgian waffles with fresh fruit.

…saturday night and sunday morning and…

…yoga…

…and you :).

love!

eco-retail therapy…

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feeding my bag fetish today. i’m very excited about this new bag found here. i’m always searching for the perfect bag for this and that and this one jumped up at me all “w00-hoo, yoga-girl, over here…you’re going to love this one!” my intention is that it is going to be my summer beach bag, but i’m thinking it might be too cute to reserve just for beach days. it’s big (12x 21 inches), lightweight, and the best part is…it’s made from recycled rice bags. so actually pretty sturdy and oh so cute and hip and eco-friendly. love love love it.

i’m passionate about the environment, and try hard to make good decisions about my purchases. i’m not perfect. i can tell you a number of things that are wrong about the bag above (the fact that i ordered it online so it’s being delivered here via many greenhouse gas-emitting vehicles for one). but i do think a lot about my choices, trying to find balance between living a modern lifestyle with all our conveniences, and doing more than my share for the planet. i compost, i eat locally and organically whenever possible. i believe in leaving things better than i found them.

deepak chopra in his book the seven spiritual laws of yoga writes about the connection between yoga and environmentalism, and i’ve always loved his way of explaining it:

“Within your physical domain, you have an extended body, a personally body, and an energetic body. Your extended body is the environment, containing the never-ending supply of energy and information that is available to you. Every sound, sensation, sight, flavor, and aroma you ingest from the environment influences your body and mind. Although your senses may tell you otherwise, there is no distinct boundary between your personal and extended bodies, which are in constant and dynamic exchange. Each breath that you inhale and exhale is a reminder of the continuous conversation taking place between your body and your environment.

This recognition requires you to take responsibility for what is happening in your environment.

As a yogi, you are an environmentalist because you recognize that the rivers flowing through the valleys and those flowing through your veins are intimately related. The breath of an old-growth forest and your most recent breath are inextricably intertwined. The quality of the soil in which your food is raised is directly connected to the health of your tissues and organs. Your environment is your extended body. You are inseparably interwoven with your ecosystem.”

so, how about you? in what ways do you try to honor your connection with our environment?

love!