Sunday, March 6, 2016

Internalization of Experience

We all know that experience has a huge impact on you...the "good", the "bad", and the "indifferent" all have a molding affect on you and your next experiences.  Every experience shapes you, your outlook, your memories, your relationships, your path, your passions, your emotions.  But when you look deeper, you realize it isn't the experiences that are actually promoting these changes.  Your views, thoughts, labels, emotions, and responses DURING and IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWING these experiences are what impact you the most.

These internal processes shape more than the external experiences ever can, for these internal processes will be forever linked to the experience unless we choose to change them.  The best part about this is that YOU HAVE THE ABILITY TO ALTER YOUR EXPERIENCES.  So rather than saying, "I will surround myself with positive experiences," which oftentimes is beyond our control, you have the power to change your internal processes and create positive experiences from anything that comes your way.

As you begin to build memories of positive internal process during experiences, you have the control to evoke a positive change in your life forever, regardless of your external experiences.  Change your labels on past experiences from "bad" to "learning experience" and find the good in every step of your life's journey.  No time period in your life is "wasted time" or "regretful", because you lived those moments for a reason.  You learned from them, endured them to practice discomfort, met people you needed in your life, grew as a human, became the individual that you are today because of EVERY SINGLE STEP IN YOUR JOURNEY.  

Experiences is how you process them which gives them meaning.  So what meaning are you going to give them?  What power are you going to allow them?  Choose to give them the most positive meaning that you can fathom.  Choose to live each moment as if it is brought to you for purpose and assign that purpose in a positive way.  ONLY WHEN YOU CHANGE YOUR INTERNAL PROCESSES CAN YOU TRULY CHANGE YOUR SELF.  You must dig down to your core and expose your inner wisdom.  Expose the light inside that tells you there is more to life than the external.  

There is love.  There is learning.  There is positive growth.  There is change.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Mind Control: Let it go

The only thing that can control your mind is you.

Think about that sentence for a minute.  Close your eyes and say it again.  The only thing…that can control your mind…is you.

That’s a powerful truth, isn’t it?  But with that power comes a bit of fear.  You don’t have the luxury of blaming your bad day on events in your life or on other people.  It’s only you and your perception of these events and/or people that are causing you trouble.

Let me give you an example.  Your car breaks down on the side of the road.  You are late for an appointment.  Now you have to call AAA, figure out how to get your car to a repair shop and you to your appointment.  You are frustrated, angry, annoyed.  You call your boss frantically.  You try to explain that you know he/she is mad, but you can’t get there on time.  You feel guilty.  Think of the feelings you would have.  Think of how worked up you would be.  You are having a bad morning.  

Now take that same scenario and choose not to be any of those things.  Your car broke down.  Okay.  Good thing you had AAA.  You are happy you found a mechanic to fix your car.  You call your boss and calmly explain your situation.  Whether he/she is mad is of no concern, as there was nothing that you could have done to prevent your lateness that morning.  You apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused and move on.  In the grand scheme of things, this is just a morning with a few extra things to handle.  Even just reading the words of handling the situation appropriately, doesn’t it FEEL nicer?

Of course none of these events are ideal; however, you are allowing your perception of them to affect your emotions.  If you take the situations as they come, you deal with each one singly with  grace, calmness, humility, and indifference, they hold much less power.  We cannot control many of the events that unfold during our day, just as we cannot control the people around us.  Surrendering this control allows us to better handle our reactions.  

Controlling how we see the world takes a lot of practice.  It does not happen overnight and it’s something that you will need to practice every day for the rest of your life.  Things will get us out of whack sometimes and we need to just return to that place where we surrender external control in order to take internal control.  

I control the way I react to this and I choose to be at peace.

Another example is the ending of a marriage.  It would have been very easy for my ex and I to both harbor resentment, anger, and bitterness, as neither of us acted 100% perfectly in our marriage.  It would be easy to feel like a failure, to feel guilty and betrayed.  Don’t get me wrong, there were moments where I felt all these things and I am sure he did too.  However, we both chose not to dwell in those moments.  We controlled the way we thought, felt, and acted.  I chose to see our marriage ending as, not an end of anything, but a morphing into a different type of relationship and circumstance.  I saw it as a chance to co-parent as friends who still supported each other through life’s up and downs.  I focused on the two beautiful children we made together and the many years we spent growing up together.  The rest didn’t matter.  We didn’t have the same relationship, so the things that transpired during it that weren’t ideal were simply let go…they no longer held any weight in the relationship that we had now.  Let it go.  Don’t let it have control over you.  

The best thing about having this view is that our children saw how to handle one of life’s most difficult situations with grace, love, understanding, and mutual support.  Staying true to ourselves and our commitment to happiness in life, we could teach our children the importance of this virtue in their lives.  Let yourself be a teacher.  Handle each moment, especially the most difficult ones with calmness and good nature.  As the Chinese culture points out, the bamboo is strong because it’s so flexible.  Bend with the winds that are being blown at you and you will remain strong.  Be rigid or try to fight to hard and you will break.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Set Your Compass: Have a Direction

I think that the whole point (which I have been missing thus far) is to have a direction.  It seems like a simple point, yet I haven't internalized it the way which I needed to.  Maybe some of you haven't either.

Without a direction, we make decisions based upon the immediate need.  We end up recreating the path we are on with small improvements.  It's like planting flowers along the circular path we are already traveling.

With direction, we make decisions based on the larger picture.  We focus on what matters most and make decisions that bring us toward that space which aligns best with our true goals.  It's like taking a journey through straight and winding paths, knowing the end result will be a beautiful valley full of flowers.

It's easier to live life making quick decisions, the easiest decisions, the most rational decisions, the most logistically sound decisions.  The decisions that in the moment make the most sense to bring the best outcome to the immediate needs.

However, if you ever want to really grow and continue to mold your journey to the one that means the most to you, the best decisions you will make will be the ones that are the hardest to commit to initially.  For those are the decisions that will get your out of your comfort zone and promote the most positive change.  It may not be evident in the immediate future at the time of the decision and that's okay.

The question you need to ask yourself is, "Does this align with the direction that I want to move in?"  If the answer is no, than you need to rethink that decision.

Sometimes life changes drastically, but more often than not, your biggest life changes happen gradually.  This is how it is supposed to be.  You make small decisions that amount to a change.  Think of your life 5 years ago.  Ten years ago.  How different was it?  If you made all that change in one shot, it wouldn't be molded into your life as effectively as it has. Without the journey, marked with small decisions, that got you to where you are now, the change you see wouldn't be ingrained in you as it is now.

So what is your direction?  Think not of where exactly you want to be.  Think of what the journey looks like.  Think of what qualities in life that you assign value to.  Think of what you REALLY want from life and think deep.

Set your compass.  The universe will provide you the path.  You don't need to worry about that right now.  Just know what you want and who you want to be and make your decisions based on those internal desires and passions. You will be surprised what your life looks like five years from now.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

How Did I End Up Here?

The great lyric from Nahko and Medicine for the People often brings me to reflect on what brought me to this moment, my “here and now”.  It would take a million books to encompass the vast array of events which lead to beginning this journey.  There were several journeys that I travelled which ultimately lead to this moment and my practice.  Like I have been known to say, “It isn’t a light switch…it’s a process”.  Throughout this process, I had a musically spiritually guide, which was Nahko and Medicine for the People.  I am forever grateful to them for their “musical medicine”.

I began seeing signs.  I viewed them as “strange coincidence” at first, but after the universe kept throwing them my direction, I was forced to sit back and reflect.  “Okay, what is going on here?”  So I followed them…not without a lot of questioning and self-doubt…not without trying to back out of this terrifying journey several times…not without extreme hardship.  There was something pulling me and it was too strong to ignore.  

Most often, there is a huge change or event which forces you to look inside and make other changes in your life.  The initial, most drastic change in my case was divorce, but can be anything in your life: a job change, a move, an accident or near-accident, etc.  I needed a change from my environment, my circumstances, and my current situation.  I didn’t know what would happen; I couldn’t control how it would play out; I felt like I had no idea what the hell I was doing.  It was terrifying!  And it didn’t come without great cost to those whom I love and myself.  It was not easy.

There was a lot of back and forth.  I wasn’t sure that I was making the “right” decision.  One day,  I was overcome by this internal knowing that I was leaving my marriage.  There was no giant fight, no crazy sign, I just knew.  After my separation, there was a lot of uncertainty.  Everything was different.  It took so much from me before making the final decision to leave that I didn’t think much further than the leaving part.  I didn’t know where to go from there.  The next few months consisted a lot of me trying to heal forcibly.  I did everything but allow the process to occur naturally.  

I always dabbled in mental and physical fitness, only ever really committing to running.  Throughout the process of coming to terms with my decision to leave my marriage, I went to some yoga classes, starting meditating some again, started to connect to crystals again, and was running fairly often.  After losing my marriage commitment, I lost commitment to pretty much everything.  I struggled to get myself together.  Some people speak of an “aha moment”.  I feel I had many, I just didn’t have the mental or physical strength to carry them out at that moment.  I pushed myself to get some routine together to get back into fitness.  I thought if I could just get back into running everyday, I would be fine.  If I just surrounded myself with people, I would be okay.  If I went to a yoga class every week, I would be more grounded.  If I immersed myself in work, I would be better.  It was causing more stress and it was exhausting.  That was not my intention at all.  In fact, it was the exact opposite of my intention.

Don’t get me wrong, getting out for a run, being around friends and family, going to yoga classes, and losing myself in work helped, but trying to commit my broken self to anything was not going to happen.  I was all over the place, trying to find my center and settle into the newness of being on my own.  I began playing guitar and singing again.  It was the first thing that I did with no agenda.  I sang what I wanted, when I wanted, and however long I wanted.  I had no restrictions or commitments to my guitar.  The freedom and ease allowed for my healing.  I played for hours at night, after the kids were in bed.  I needed to get it out in a way that focused only on my mind and emotions.  Such is the process.  You must head in a direction, hold onto your intention, however, allow the process to happen naturally.

One day, I woke up and said to myself, “I need to get on the yoga mat today.  I don’t care how, where, when, or with who, but it needs to happen.”  This was different than the other times when I had said that I needed to because I felt I should.  I had an internal knowing that the mat was where I felt I needed to be that day, so I followed that intuition.  This “internal knowing” was not the only one besides my decision to leave my marriage that I had felt.  In fact, they were coming more frequently now that I had opened myself up to the possibility that they meant something.  Or perhaps I was just listening more closely.  I was not reluctant at all to follow it and attended a great yoga class that day.  

I ended up doing yoga and/or running almost everyday since that day on the mat.  Initially, there was the process of integrating the things that I knew would help, yet didn't have the energy to commit to yet.  This process lead to my process of allowing yoga, meditation, running (my “moving meditation”), yoga philosophy, and holistic healing into my life.  It transformed my life.  Slowly…because it is a process, not a light switch.

Checkpoint of my Journey: Part Three

It is a continuation, isn't it?  Nothing ever really ends or begins; it changes and morphs into other things, all built upon the events, emotions, and time before.  There have been many changes in my life over the past year.  None "good" or "bad", some more stressful than others.  However, through many moons and many suns, many rainy days and many sun-filled ones, I have morphed into a more grounded, adaptable, spiritual being.  I have grown.  I have opened my heart more than I have in years and I have found that I will no longer stand for a life that doesn't encompass all that I am in spirit.

The unknown is scary and I have moments of self-doubt and skepticism.  Many, many years of searching for the most logistically sound, practical approach to life has left me with a sense of stability.  It has become habit to search for these things for comfort in my decisions; however, it has also left a space where I have suppressed the spirit and not allowed for a very important area of growth.

My blog was always called "The mind/body link"...I was leaving out an important part: The Spirit.  This aspect of my self that I have not fully connected to since I was in my 20s, before I started to have to "think like an adult in order to provide the best I could for my children".  Even just thinking it feels silly to me now, for the best thing I can give my incredibly spirited children is a mother who is sound in spirit herself.

So, hereon continues my journey.  Linking my mind/body AND spirit to live free, while still making sound judgement calls.  Trusting in the universe, destiny and the path to living as I am purposed.  Most importantly, having the strength and the faith to move forward on the paths that I feel pulled toward...opening my mind and my heart to hear and feel the messages that my intuition provides.  And to stop being such a wuss.  :)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

My First Experience with a Holistic Healer: Polarity Massage

This is the thing about healers.  They can feel energy, know where to move it, help start you on the journey of self-healing outside their office, but they are usually not psychic.  This means that their interpretation depends on the amount of information about you and your life that you give them.  If they know nothing about you, they cannot interpret their findings as well as if you go to the same healer numerous times and allow them more into your world.  

The first holistic nurse that I went to did a polarity massage.  She stated the following findings:
  1. I had gone very deep into my self.
  2. I had a very open heart.
  3. I had a black energy in my entire head.  Toward the end, there was a sliver of bright, white light.
  4. My body was very receptive to her moving the energy.

She was concerned and asked if I had headaches (yes, often) and what was going on in my life.  My first thought was that I was going through a divorce.  So her interpretation was based off these things.  I must be allowing too much negativity in due to the divorce and I needed to ground myself to get through.  I should close myself off to receiving negative energies…protect myself.

However, what I didn’t tell her was that my divorce wasn’t really embodying a whole lot of negativity.  It was actually mostly cordial.  I also didn’t tell her that I had a history of dissociative coping mechanisms.  Because of this, I can pretty much turn my thinking brain completely off (unfortunately, I often “turn off” my emotional and spiritual bodies in the process).  I have begun to use it positively and it makes reaching a meditative state much easier for me.

If she had known this about me and had asked me if I was in a meditative state, which I most certainly was, she would have probably interpreted my black head, much less as a blackhead to be popped and more as a positive reading.  Bright, white light often indicates divinity, enlightenment and truth.  By the end of the massage, I was much deeper into the meditation and, although my thinking mind was off, it was accepting the things that it strives for.  

I was very excited about her findings after researching things on my own.  I saw it as a sign that I was learning to better control my dissociative tendencies.  I was happy that I was able to shut out the thoughts, while keeping my heart open and ready to receive.  I was really intrigued by the white light and was hoping to explore that even more.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

My First Yoga Festival: MayFest 2015

I went to my first festival, MayFest Yoga and Music Festival, in May of 2015, with my boyfriend, Tom.  Our first day/night there was all music and vendors.  I felt introverted (a very rare experience for me), but I accepted it.  Through yoga, I have learned to accept the moods, like tides of the ocean.  There are benefits to all moods, as long as you use them with good intention.  That day, we explored the grounds with no real agenda.  We met our “tent neighbors”, who had a 2.5 year old named Marley.  There were very nice and Marley’s free-spirited engagement was a joy to watch.

That night, we watched some great musicians.  In between sets, Tom wanted to take some photos of some amazing hoola-hoopers.  I took the time to delve inside myself.  Although it was “off-limits” (oops), I walked the lakeside beach to a small pier.  I looked out onto the water for a while, noticing the vast contrast between the white moonlight’s reflection and the seemingly black water.  I then closed my eyes and meditated, coming to my center, focusing my intention.  

The next day, I woke up and sang softly to my guitar in my tent.  I was still feeling a bit introverted and I didn't want anyone to hear me.  A few minutes later, the two yogis in the tent next to us left their tent.  They stopped and thanked me for playing, saying it was a treat.  I was embarrassed, yet grateful that they shared their appreciation.  It was touching.  It made me wonder what I was so afraid of. The people here came for yoga, art, and music!  They didn’t come to judge my singing.  I’m sure that most of them were on their own journey, finding an appreciation for the more creative and inspiring things in life.  What better people could I surround myself with?

We had scheduled SUP Yoga for the morning, but it was really cold, so we skipped it.  We went to MC Yogi’s Beastie Yoga Class later, where DJ Drez played all Beastie Boys mixes, while MC Yogi lead the class and his wife, Amanda, assisted.  It was my first class that people who were really into yoga travelled to come to.  It was a bit intimidating, but once I got on my mat, I felt better.  Looking around, I saw the same people that I would go to any yoga studio and see.  There were people of all shapes, genders, ages, and skin types.  Somehow it felt more like a community, even though we were all displaced from our own community environment.  I was pleasantly surprised by how well they conducted class.  It was lighthearted, funny at times, fun, and inspirational.  It encompassed everything I loved about yoga.

We came back to the tent before our next class.  I noticed on my way into our tent that Marley was protesting a nap in our neighbor’s tent.  Upon entering our tent, I saw the guitar and thought about how quickly my daughter falls asleep when I play.  I would play one song and hope I was helping and not disturbing.  I sung loud and with the regular emotion I feel when I sing.  I sang like I do in my living room.  Tom sang with me, which I love.  I really enjoy sharing music.  Later, Marley’s dad was holding him outside the tent.  Without me saying anything about my intention to play, he told me that he enjoyed our playing/singing and that it put Marley right to sleep.  Imagine that.  Abandon fear and you can do anything…even put a two-year-old to sleep who is fighting nap time.

Our next class started with chanting.  I had never chanted anything more than “Om” and once “Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti”.  I had definitely never had a chanting experience like this.  It was beautiful music, hearing everyone sing Sanskrit words together.  The meanings explained to us before to let us feel what we were chanting.  What followed was a yoga class that moved quicker than what I was used to.  The instructor was teaching us to move into the poses on each inhale and each exhale.  It made me dizzy, literally.  I expressed my problem with moving too quickly in yoga moves with Tom.  He pointed out that I have a similar issue with moving too quickly in life, but that sometimes life doesn’t offer us the luxury of waiting around while we analyze, evaluate each decision’s consequences, and make an educated deduction.  Sometimes, we just need to breathe through the changes and flow with them.  I need practice in this.  I was thinking that practicing a quicker Vinyasa Flow will help me to make the connection to being better with a similar issue in life.  

We got something to eat and were buzzing about the Nahko and Medicine for the People (MFTP) show later.  We couldn’t wait, wondered if they arrived yet, if we would get a chance to talk to them, etc.  We decided to get massages: I got a polarity massage, Tom got a Reiki massage, and MC Yogi was right in the middle of us getting a Thai massage (which I thought was pretty cool).  After the massages, we sat on the top of the hill, while MC Yogi sat with his friends at the bottom of the hill.  A little while later, we noticed him talking to Chase, the guitarist from MFTP. 

We were star-struck.  Should we talk to him?  No, we didn’t want to interrupt.  Should we?  I mean, we could keep it short and just tell him how much their music affected us.  No, it would be awkward.  We ended up walking down toward the food carts as Chase did.  He said hi to Tom, noticing his MFTP shirt.  We walked away and we talked about how that was our opening!  I bee-lined it back and said, “I’m sorry to bother you, but we just wanted to tell you how much your music has changed our lives.”  What followed was a great conversation and a few hugs.  We met his friend, Geary, who we ended up having several conversations with that night.  They were both so appreciative of our sentiments and such great people.

After charging all our modern technology, we ended up with a drained car battery.  As we tried to turn it on, only to hear the awful clicking of an engine that won’t turn over, we hear from a car behind us our rescuer, Nate.  He jumped our car and after a funny story, a photo to prove to his girlfriend that he was making friends, we ended up walking to the main stage together, all very excited about the Nahko and Medicine for the People show later.  On our way, who do we see?  Nahko Bear.  

Talk about star-struck.  Wow.  This man was a prophet in our eyes.  His words and his music fostered such a change in both of us and in our lives.  We had to stop and talk to him.  Courageous from our positive meeting with Chase, we stopped him and told him how his music and words were our guide through an incredibly emotionally confusing time in our lives.  He stared into my eyes when I spoke.  He listened.  Intently.  He was so gracious and understanding and we took a photo to remember the experience.  I sometimes look at the photo and still marvel that this experience happened.  It was perfection.  Serendipitous.  We cried.  We were washed over with closure.  We were grateful that we were able to personally meet and thank Nahko himself.

We saw Nahko and Medicine for the People play just a few short hours later.  Of course, we stood right up in front.  We were excited and engaged…surrounded by the music that had become a guiding force in our life in the live version.  It was an amazing experience.  After the show, we went to the food carts and met Justin, the drummer in the band.  Is this for real?  The universe provided us the opportunity to meet practically everyone in the band and thank them.  Absolutely amazing.

The next day, reflecting on everything that happened the day before seemed like we were reflecting on a dream that we had over the night.  But it happened because we followed our hearts and made the choice to attend a festival in a place we had never been to and “check it out”.

Live life.  Check things out.  Go places.  You will be surprised at the things that the universe will throw your way.