murphyormel

wacky reflections from a nutcracker wannabe

Category: meditation

we topple over. we get back up.

We can only be authentically present with ourselves when we feel safe, loved and protected. And we can’t give that presence to others unless we find it within. The investigation of self is not only ever-changing and always within reach, but also assuredly a trail of wild and windy twists and topples and flops of fun.

As I was in a group setting seeking stillness and meditation this week, I found myself losing focus and wondering why. The setting? No. My energy level? No. Intention? No.

Instead, it was concern that I wasn’t in a safe place. Nor were my peers, also there to seek peace, held in a safe, sacred space. As I thoughtfully engaged my breathing and pushed out the “monkey mind,” I realized I would never reach a place of true stillness of self unless I could find a sacred place of safety and love. And ONLY by choosing completely to let the outside go.

You’ve likely heard the term “just be” or “to be present.” But how does one arrive at a place of presence while the world spins so chaotically around us?  Can we find stillness and safety in the chaos?

An Erich Schiffmann book, “Moving Into Stillness,” teaches the connection of life to a spinning top. “Stillness is like a perfectly centered top, spinning so fast it appears motionless. It appears this way not because it is moving, but because it is spinning at full speed. Stillness is dynamic. Unconflicted movement, life in harmony with itself, skill in action. Our lives however are more like a top that is NOT perfectly centered, instead wild, erratic and chaotic. We know we are alive. Stillness happens when we relax inside and are in harmony with ourselves.”*

But to find this stillness, I now see I must feel safe, loved, protected.  When your teenage children are first driving, “being present” is difficult as protective mama bear mode is on.  When a movie or book is disturbing to our senses, our balance of self is off kilter, and we may not sleep well.  If an ambulance or loud noise catches us off guard, our heart may race as we quickly worry for a loved one.  Essentially, fight or flight  responses send us toppling over.

So it is in the moments that precede and follow where we “practice” the opposite of chaos, and get back up.  We again search for the stillness of the perfectly centered top and find our personal harmony.  It is in those moments where we learn to be present and accept ourselves for whatever we are that day.  Meaning, it is enough to simply show up and “just be.”

You are enough.

white lights,

Mel

 

* http://www.movingintostillness.com/teachings.html

live your way into the answer.

The cool part of living your way to the answers is that you will be living the questions too.  And better yet, in the now.

Sounds a bit bass ackwards, but it isn’t. If we choose to take each day one moment at a time, truly living in the breath and present, our answers will simply arrive. When we over-think the questions, our own head actually gets in the way.

Sure, I enjoy my lists.  And yes, I did actually place large pink sticky notes on the wall to itemize searching my dharma* (our true purpose in life), but in creating these lists of what I love, what makes me happiest, how can I find balance and wellness, even how salary plays a role in my future, I was still thinking…over-thinking…looking for the solution rather than letting the solution find me.

Even this past week, I walked away from a meeting feeling like my peer had spun me in a circle 50 times and sent me off in yet another direction of intrigue.

I continue to remind myself that I am safe today (even when anxiety says the opposite), and in each day, I get to begin again, forgive, be gentle with myself, love, nurture, show gratitude for higher learnings and lessons, and “be” again.

They say the “present” is not an accident. It is in fact a daily gift.

Cheers to being given opportunity to live our way to the answer that is right and good and safe for only us. 🌺

Metta,

Mel

Type A in search of Dharma.

Type A in search of her Dharma.

 

live the questions now, by my Buddha Board.

 
 Psychotherapist and yoga teacher Stephen Cope’s new book The Great Work of Your Life challenges us to find our true purpose in life, which he believes all of us can achieve.

The mat is a magical place. Just breathe.

“Breathing gives man strength, vitality, inspiration, and magic powers.” – Chuang Tzu[1]

Teaching college coursework and years of public speaking in advance of yoga teacher training gave me confidence in front of a group. Prep work, delivery of material, study of my 20+ year professional world and critical lingo to the subject. Check!  But to be in the real seat for the first time in this new world as a Yogini Tour Guide – a world that brings me deeply profound and personal passion and emotion that I don’t teach in a college class room- has indeed been humbling. The mat is safe. It is sacred. It is mine.

I knew having fun was key. I knew prep, material, time and sharing an authentic me would make for a strong teacher and rich class experience where students want to follow and return. But when the bell rings and class starts, I am again reminded this journey of a beautiful practice of asana, pranayam and anatomy take time to strengthen (a practice of its own), and they are looking to me to guide them through a journey, an experience not for a grade or degree but for something deeper and heartfelt.

My magic wand of knowledge can indeed be magic only if treated with respect, integrity, candor, knowledge, selflessness and loving-kindness to the body.

The opposing forces of knowing what I have learned thus far; however, are causing me internal angst. I know just enough to be a yogini snob, meaning test my own waters of ego, as I briefly return to the role of student. I’m struggling with alternatively trained or not trained teachers leading postures that I now know are risky to my body and full of ‘Simon Says’ moments and ego. I find myself having to breathe deeply and let go of my want to correct their approach, cry out or protect my neighbor who doesn’t know any better. Certainly, this is some awareness to Santosha[2] (ethical concept of Indian Philosophy, one of the Niyamas meaning contentment, satisfaction) I didn’t see coming my way. But I continue to come back: 1. To remain faithful to my mat. 2. To observe this experience as it continues or dissipates. This “practice” of letting it go- like letting a passing car go without thinking about the passengers or destination – is the test.  And my self-reported inability or insecurity around the concept of “letting go” is an entirely separate blog post. 🙂

The most significant observation I’m practicing today is the role itself, meaning Teacher v Student. Sure, I can prep the class sequence with planes of movement in pratapana (warm-ups), teach basic pranayama, explain benefits/contraindications for varying asana, share a poem or reflection for meditation prior to Savasana, etc., but guiding someone’s personal journey doesn’t require a course syllabus.

As I continue this transition from student to teacher and back to student, I continue to observe my ability to be in the moment (or not). A student yogini for many years, I know my own body, I shift when good pain turns to bad, I adjust/realign based on my own anatomy, and I know to breathe thoughtfully in order to maintain my balance. I don’t even think when I do these things, the mat is the magic carpet with a guide leading the way.

So now, I face a world knowing far more about anatomy, philosophy and pranayam (breath work) than ever before. Acting as the tour guide not the traveler is a shift of self-awareness, breath, and trust. I must be AHEAD of the moment for the students’ experience and protection rather than IN the moment with my own body. And most importantly, I must learn to let go of my own ego as “teacher”. I am honored to know what I have been taught thus far, but realize this is simply the beginning of the practice as teacher.

Joyfully and with thoughtful intention, I commit to inhale the experience and accept my opportunities for change as new learnings of discipline, philosophy, acceptance, non-judgment and friendship emerge.

The mat is a magical place. Just breathe.

Om Shanti,

Mel

[1] Anatomy and Asana, Suzi Hately, Section 3:Principles, pg. 27

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santosha

The Sacred Lotus rises towards the light.

Sometimes called the Sacred Lotus, this flower often symbolizes beauty, perfection, purity and grace.  The lotus flower grows in muddy water, yet the dirt and mud fall off its leaves and petals, keeping it clean and pure. A lotus flower is born in water, grows in water and rises from water to stand above it unsoiled, raised in the world but having overcome the world, or living unsoiled by the world. In turn, the lotus is often viewed as a symbol of aspirations to rise towards the light. *

51,183 participants walked yesterday for the 14th Annual Susan Komen Walk for the Cure.  700+ teams of survivor family and friends and an epic energy for one cancer filled downtown STL.  A veteran motorcyclist was individually saluting each survivor as she passed.

As we passed him, I wondered how many other folks like myself are facing some type of treatment for their own internal pain and offering daily prayer for good health and energy along with these 3000+ breast cancer survivors.  I noticed parents, sisters, brothers, grandkids, spouses and those on the brink of being married, celebrate their loved one in pink clearly at their side through the fight and continued success.  The morning hit me in a way I didn’t expect- 1.  we all need a survivor team of dedicated love and support, and 2. cancer has a ripple effect.

Just as the melancholy began once again to set in, I looked to my right and saw I wasn’t alone.  And I was ok.

In the evening, I was lucky enough to visit the profound and peaceful Chinese Lantern Festival.  “Elaborate outdoor sets crafted of silk and steel celebrate Chinese culture through bold color, dazzling light and striking design.”**

The Lotus Flower exhibition felt timely after the morning of both powerful group energy and a silent internal reality.  But once again, I wasn’t alone.

The Confucian scholar, Zhou Dunyi (1017-1073) wrote: “I love the lotus because while growing from mud, it is unstained.”

Cheers to the pink that surrounds us all!  The ‘Warriors in Pink’ of Ford say, “Courage has many faces.  And every one is beautiful.”.

So too are you.

Om Shanti,

Mel

* http://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/things-to-do/events/special-exhibitions/lantern-festival/chinese-lantern-fun-facts.aspx ** http://www.ksdk.com/news/article/325267/105/14th-annual-Race-for-the-Cure-raises-more-than-24-million-

In our house, going to the therapist was like an annual dental checkup.

And as I reread that title, you might read two different ways. LOL!  I meant it a positive.  No joke, in our house, we look at a visit to the therapist like a check up.  You break a leg, you visit the hospital.  You get a cold, you see the doc.  Why would your mind and soul not get the same important attention?

I’ve joked in previous posts about prepaying psychotherapy for my sweet daughter after all she has watched of my silliness and life changes, but it’s not a joke anymore.  She is fully aware of why therapy is important and how it can nurture, enhance and lead us to find our authentic self…..even as the journey is ever-changing.

High achievers don’t like to fail.  And for some, therapy feels like failure.  But why?  1.  It’s private and no one needs to know. 2.  It’s healthy.  Just imagine the peace in the world if we gave ourselves permission for daily reflection, quiet time or meditation and weekly therapy, like we do to watch Big Bang Theory (for goodness sakes, we enjoy reality tv, but we don’t look ourselves in the mirror?)?  3.  If you get an unbiased source to just listen to your “stuff”, where is there downside?, and 4.  You receive confirmation, kindness, call outs on your own behavior and likely learn to be a better friend, partner, and/or parent in the process.

But I was raised to know it’s healthy.  And as such have been very transparent and open to the need in my life to ask for help and take action to receive.  So cheers to a new account or spin-off angle on the 401K or CD option for psychotherapy use after 2025!

Don’t be afraid of looking in the mirror.  It’s ok to see the real you, embrace, understand and seek support.

Namaste’,

M

p.s.  And you must find the right fit for you, and all therapists know that and want the same, so, if #1 or #2 isn’t right, keep looking.  It’s a lot like a serious relationship, but it isn’t easy if you have to “break up”.  Pick someone you will share all and not sell them on being someone you are not just to hear, you are fine.  The good ones know better.

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