And …

SunsetAnd is a word which I have been choosing more consciously and consistently since formally beginning my studies in Gestalt therapy. A lesson entitled The Language of Responsibility provided me with an awareness of my usage of the words “but” and “or.” The lesson offered the suggestion to change these words in verbal and written dialogue to “and.” I have personally found this subtle shift to be quite powerful.

Travel teaching has been a vision of mine for some time. As I type, I have crossed into my second week of doing so. The first week of my travels was spent amidst a lovely community in North Carolina. It afforded me the opportunity to escape last week’s Nor’easter. This week I am teaching yoga at The Esalen Institute. Offering at Esalen has been on my professional bucket list, and not something which I’d believed would come to fruition by this point in my career. I feel overcome with gratitude. And, there is an underlying sadness.

I’m not sure that I’ve ever experienced the feeling of “bitter-sweetness” quite so palpably. The truth is, my Soul Momma – my mentor, greatest teacher, and woman who introduced me to the teachings of Gestalt –  is not well. I’ve been traveling to The Esalen Institute with her for a number of years.  It is truly a magnificent opportunity to be here now solo. And, the opportunity does not present without challenge.

My day to day at Esalen is quite serene. I wake with the sun to meditate. I have the opportunity to lead and to personally participate in yoga daily. I nourish myself with vegetarian meals that have been loving provided for me. I read in the sun. I soak in the hot springs. I write. I converse with like-minded, open human beings. I dance and sing by the fire at night. Picturesque, truly. (Pictured above is a sunset I captured following one of my evening yoga classes.)

All the while, in the back of my mind, I am aware of my Soul Momma thousands of miles away. Unwell. The decision of whether or not to continue on with my travels, despite Mariah’s inability to do so, was not one which was made easily. If not for her gentle nudge, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t physically be at Esalen on this trip now. And, I wouldn’t even know that this slice of Heaven on Earth even existed if not for my knowing her.

Another thing that I have taken from my study of Gestalt therapy is to become familiar with my dreams. Dreams are said to be our integration of the sub-conscious. In the weeks leading up to this trip, Mariah said to me in one of my dreams “these are the best of times” Initially, this statement didn’t mean very much to me. In fact, it felt pretty out of context. As this travel continues to unfold, I am realizing that these truly ARE the best of times, And …

With each passing day, I remain committed to BE-ing with this. What better way to ready to step into carrying on this work than through personally embodying it?! And so, I am doing my very best to show up for myself in a way that is loving, kind, and compassionate as I linger in the “and.”

I invite you now to consider aspects of your current life in which you might be experiencing “and” moments. Simply notice, without judgement, your response to these moments. How might you be able to offer yourself loving kindness around this/these aspects of your life today?

 

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What are YOUR words for 2018?

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Though I am not much of a new year’s resolution person, I did spend some time pondering how best to uphold my daily commitment to honor the greater good of all beings, starting with myself. Intentional! And, sustainable! Those were the words which felt most important. As 2018 unfolds, I am finding that both play a valuable role in my ability to achieve and to maintain balance in all facets of my life.

The curious thing about balance is that it is not a static experience. It is ever changing. Like that of the swinging of a pendulum, there is constant opportunity to assess and re-assess. Intentionally honoring a sustainable balance about my day-to-day does not come naturally, or easily. The truth is that it takes daily work.

As a healing practitioner, my default tends to be one of over-extending.  At times I feel as if my clients/students may have me – unreasonably, in my opinion – placed upon a bit of a pedestal. “Josette, you are so even-keeled, so compassionate, so attentive, so calm, so dedicated, so wise, so strong …

Ahhhhhh! Even as I type these things, I can feel my blood pressure rising. I am flattered. And, I want you to know that I am human being, too. Much like you, the human experience which I have is certainly not devoid of challenge.

Allow me to share with you a real life example …

Last weekend I co-facilitated a workshop with my Gestalt training classmates. For a number of reasons, this workshop was particularly challenging for me. In an effort to yield to the aforementioned attributes – to remain strong for my group, and the workshop attendees – I found myself losing sight of what was most important for my own well-being. I leaned over to one of my classmates towards the end of the experience and whispered, “I can’t be strong anymore!

Believe it or not, I make mistakes. I don’t always make the best choices. I have weak moments. And, I hit walls, too. As I stared squarely at my wall, I was grateful to receive a gentle reminder from a dear friend, “Walls are good because they teach us what we’ve been doing is not working!

This wall served me. It served me because it forced me to re-assess my schedule. I had intended to continue on the path of going … going … going! Instead, it provided me with an unexpected, but oh so necessary, mid-week pause. It seems that already – less than two weeks into 2018 – I’d been losing sight of my commitment to myself to proceed in an intentional, and sustainable manner. And so goes the swinging of the pendulum. Slightly too far off to one side … Divine opportunity to re-establish balance!

As I continue on the path of integrating the concepts of Gestalt into both my life and my work, it is the relationship which I have with myself that I know creates the foundation for everything else. Being true to this relationship requires me to remain curious, willing to proceed fluidly with the dawning of each new day, and open to yielding in an intentional and sustainable manner to whatever lies before me.

Daily practices of self-care rooted in Ayurveda, gratitude, mantra, meditation, movement, and conscious fueling and hydrating sustain me. These practices are non-negotiable.

So when my pendulum swings slightly too far off to one side or another, it becomes an opportunity to check in with these foundational practices. Have I truly been honoring them?!

In the case of last week, the answer was NO! And so, I turned inward. I did not beat myself up. Instead, I slept. A lot. I created nourishing meals for myself. I bundled up and I took myself to Valley Forge mountain (pictured above) to reconnect to the loving frequency of Mother Nature!

Interesting to reflect upon how very quickly I’d gotten caught up in the vortex of life, proceeding in a scarily unsustainable manner. And, how quickly I was able to re-calibrate by taking an intentional pause.

I challenge you to notice what it is that keeps you feeling balanced? What supports you in re-calibrating your pendulum when it’s gotten a bit too far off to one side or the other? That which comes to mind is invaluable information to know, and to re-visit often. Why not take a moment for yourself to identify a few words that will support you in showing up as the very best version of you in 2018?!

Do it for your well-being, not your butt

Thanksgiving

I was led to the practice of yoga nearly a decade ago during a chapter of my life in which I was significantly overtraining. Kind and gentle were not in my vocabulary, as it related to the conditions under which I was placing my body. At the time, I was participating in triathlons. It was with reluctance that I agreed to join one of my training buddies at her yoga class. Yoga sounded … slow? And, boring!  I can’t honestly say that I was immediately “sold” on the practice. What I do know is that I went back. Again, and again, and again.

As my yoga practice evolved, I found my way to the lovely studio in Phoenixville where I ultimately completed a 200-hour yoga teacher training. I learned as the training unfolded that my teacher, Danielle, wouldn’t be caught in the studio where I took that first yoga class. As Danielle taught of the lineage of yoga, and the many different approaches to the practice which exist in the western world today, she spoke of a concept which she referred to as yoga for your butt.

As it turns out, that first studio was offering me yoga for my butt. And, I have nothing but gratitude for that studio. Because it was this athletic approach to the practice which met me where I was. It was an accessible way, at the time, for me to reap the benefits – well beyond a nice butt – which the practice of yoga stands to offer.

For a long while, I practiced this athletic yoga for your butt approach. I was drawn to the teacher who used cueing which supported the mindset of pushing and twisting … more, more, more … But, somewhere along the way, something shifted. And, as I continue to deepen my practice, my interest continues to shift significantly from that of the impact which the practice will have upon my butt to more of a focus upon the balance which I will experience of mind, body, and soul.

It has been my journey which influences how sensitive I am to the postings commonly seen around the holidays offering a practice of “burning off the turkey” or “twisting out the toxins.”

I found myself being led to my mat daily over the Thanksgiving holiday. The inspiration was not to offset what I was, or had been, eating and drinking. I took the 20-minute drive to the sweet studio where I practice by my parent’s home for my well-being.

On Thanksgiving Day, the studio was full to capacity. The class wasn’t advertised as a “detox to retox” (another Danielle reference) class. Rather, it was described as “Great Full Yoga,” leaving a great deal of space for interpretation. While the class was relatively gentle from a physical body standpoint, it provided connection through breath to the mind, body, and soul thus yielding space for reflection and for a giving of thanks. As I left that class, I felt balanced; I felt grounded; And, I felt so ready to consciously embrace time spent among my loved ones.

I know well the sense of schedules feeling over-full amidst the holiday season. I acknowledge that when it doesn’t feel as if there are enough hours in the day, it is often self-care which falls in priority on the “To-Do’s” list. Alas, there is holiday decorating, and shopping, and wrapping, and we can’t forget about all the social engagements …

And so, I invite you to take a look at how you are approaching your relationship with YOU this holiday season. Are you being kind and gentle to yourself? What is the underlying motivator for you to be led to your yoga mat, or not? To go for that walk with your loved one, or not? To slow down long enough to take a few meditative breaths and truly check-in with your body, or not?

You may notice an interesting shifting of priorities as motivation extends beyond how your butt will look in the holiday pants to that of your overall well-being. My wish for you this holiday season is that you too may experience that feeling which I had after Thanksgiving Day yoga – the balance, the grounding, and the readiness to consciously embrace times spent among loved ones.

*The image (above) was taken the day after Thanksgiving while I was on a walk with my father and brother. There was a time in years past when I would have passed on a walk of this nature because it was not a “turkey burner” day after the holiday sort of work-out. And, what sweetness I’d have missed.

Dismantle the insanity

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As I continue to navigate what feels to be a season of transition, the teachings could not be guiding me more. There has never been a time in my life in which I have leaned more heavily upon the practices of yoga, and of late, even more-so meditation. I’ve been very drawn to the practice of Kundalini. As someone who has the Sanskrit for “breath” tattooed on the inside of my right wrist, I suppose it makes sense that I’d be drawn to a breath-based practice when facing change – an experience which is never really all that comfortable.

It seems I cannot expose myself to enough Kundalini. I’ve been traveling almost 40 minutes to a weekly yoga/meditation class. I find myself chanting on the regular in my apartment, in the studio, and in my treatment room before/after classes and 1:1 clients. The car is perhaps my most preferred location in which to chant at the top of my lungs. This past weekend I shared in an incredibly transformative and awakening practice guided by the widely respected Mahan Rishi at Sit Meditation Space. I took away a great deal from this amazing evening spent at Sit, the beautiful safe-haven which has been providing me with a home away from my own home and studio.

Mahan Rishi openly and authentically shared that one must look to meditation as a means to dismantle the insanity which is our day-to-day. Society asks of us to maintain a rather intense pace of life. Mahan Rishi challenged participants to ask of one’s self: Why do you comply to this? And, how is that serving you? Hmmm …

By the end of the evening, I was very moved. It was palpable. I was in no position to go anywhere quickly. As I lingered, I embraced the opportunity to assist Mahan Rishi in packing up his equipment. As has been my experience with many guru figures, Mahan Rishi said a great deal to me in very few words. In short, he encouraged me to share the teachings. Anywhere, and everywhere, and through whatever means feels most right.

Wow … needless to say, I heard him! And, this directly aligns with what my intuition, that voice which I hear most clearly when I honor daily time spent in mantra and meditation, has been guiding me towards. When a guru speaks, I believe there to be no choice but to listen. And so I am. I am consistently and intentionally choosing to dismantle the insanity; I am throwing caution to the wind; and I am stepping fully into my Dharma – honoring my life’s calling.

I invite you to have a look at my website to check out the offerings that I have scheduled for the weeks/months ahead. Stay tuned as there is much more awaiting manifestation which remains to be in the visionary phases of evolution! I have never felt more motivated to share. And, I sincerely hope that you will allow me to guide you to an enhanced relationship with yourself through the practices of yoga and meditation. It would be my honor and pleasure to support you in an exploration of dismantling the insanity … to hear the whisperings of your intuition … and to be able to proceed with clarity and utmost consciousness.

All the Feels

Wrightsville Beach1

I’ve just returned from a wonderful extended birthday celebration with one of my dearest girlfriends. A quick early AM flight on my birthday to Myrtle Beach, SC followed by a few hour drive to Wrightsville Beach, NC led me to a SURPRISE two evening stay at a gorgeous beachfront resort (pictured above). We enjoyed luxuriating for a few days beach/poolside until our road trip to Darlington, MD for a weekend of camping at a yoga/music festival where my Shakti Goddess – diva, as I was referring to her – was to lead Kirtan! Alas torrential rainstorms presented, causing us to retreat, yet again, to the nearest town – 3o minutes by car.  We welcomed the thought of showers, and comfortable, warm, dry beds to rest. Yet another surprise crossed our path, this time in the form of a magical restaurant which offered incredibly generous portions of amazing island inspired cuisine and beverages! An unexpected, and surprisingly pleasant, Lyft provided me with transport for the final leg of my journey from MD back home to PA a few days earlier than anticipated. Whew … quite a whirlwind of a trip, huh?!

Amidst all of the excitement, one of us actively navigating a broken heart and the other facing the reality of crossing paths with a past partner all the while striving to remain fully present for the blossoming of beautiful new(ish) relationship. Though society seems to place an unspoken expectation of us to keep it together, as two yogis who are both empathetic light-workers, this is simply not an option. Needless to say, a myriad of emotions were experienced over the course of the five days which we shared together.

“I’m feeling all of the feels” is our go-to phrase. And, throughout our time spent together this could not have been more true. Which got me to thinking; And, to reflecting upon all the feels. Good, bad, and/or indifferent … Assuming you allow for them to bubble up, all sorts of feels can be present, sometimes seemingly simultaneously.

Attempting to stuff emotions down (via your numbing technique of preference) is a means of coping which I am finding to be less and less serving for my well-being, of late. My belief is that the feels long to be seen. And, my experience has been that the feels don’t ever truly disappear. Thus, it’s conceivable to argue that one might simply be prolonging the inevitable by striving to ignore said feels.

I am placing my trust in the fact that creating the space for myself to breathe and to truly feel – albeit downright uncomfortable at times – ultimately yields healing and growth. The practices of yoga and meditation provide this space for me. Through the practices, I enhance my ability to stand in the role of observer and to bear witness to the space between thoughts. As my ability to watch my thoughts/feelings is fine-tuned, I have been inviting a curiosity to do so without judgement.

Throughout my week of birthday adventures, it has been truly fascinating to notice amidst moments of happiness how sadness can also be present. I feel so grateful to have such a dear friend who was open/willing to remain present and supportive of my doing so. I consistently remind myself that without a knowingness of pain, abundance and joy could not be fully appreciated. And so, I continue to turn to the practices which consistently support me in feeling all the feels.

Perhaps you have an interest in enhancing your ability to bear witness to ALL the feels?! With no real travel plans in sight, I will be offering many opportunities in the weeks ahead for you to consciously step onto your mat to connect deeply to YOU through breath guided awareness. Consider taking me up on this! I intend to hold a safe space for all the feels to bubble up, as I too vulnerably navigate my very own feels.

Grateful, Grateful, Grateful

Thanksgiving Togetherness -  Male hands  cradling female cupped hands on a wide blue sky background with a GRATITUDE word cloud and large sun burst in top left corner

If you’ve ever attended a yoga class which I’ve led, you may have heard me share one of my favorite quotes by Melanie Beatty… “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.

I feel incredibly grateful to be traversing the path which has led me to my life’s work. This, my life’s work, demands that I honor my truths. It is absolutely amazing to me how being of service can and does support not only my livelihood, but also my overall well-being.

The truth is that I have been facing some challenging life shifts, of late. I feel quite certain that if I worked a conventional 9 -5, I’d likely be calling out … A lot! Staying in bed curled up in fetal position has felt pretty darn tempting. And, if not for my students/clients I might do so.

And yet, the draw to show up fully, amidst all my vulnerability, is consistently proving to serve me well. I vividly recall early on in my yogic journey when one of the my most influential teachers, a brilliantly wise and skilled local studio owner (shout out to Susan Madden-Cox, my yoga momma), spoke to this. I was recently in said momma’s company, and was granted the opportunity to hear her elaborate further upon the topic. Susan shared, “To offer this body of work to support people in realigning in authenticity with who they truly are, requires that I do the same.  I say/speak/teach/offer/model what I need most in any moment and I get to do that every day. The beauty is that we ARE the same, so what I need resonates with others and then I am fed by witnessing their eyes open. It’s a badass cycle … ” My oh my, that could not feel more true!

In facing trying times, the option of choosing how to proceed exists for each and every one of us: to wallow – OR – to consciously stride forward. What a gift that that which I call work affords me the opportunity to guide individuals towards a deepened relationship with one’s self?! Each and every day, I hear myself encouraging my students/client to invite a gentleness in relating to themselves – to slow down, to take the time to notice, to breathe, and to feel. I invite individuals to consider how/if the choices that they are making will truly serve them well.

Certainly, hearing this session after session … class after class … it’s bound to sink in. And it has. And, I trust that it will continue to do so. Slowly, but surely, I am learning that when trying times present it is increasingly important for me to be conscious of relating to myself in a loving, nurturing, and gentle manner. Providing myself with ample rest, sound nourishment, adequate hydrate, intentional movement and breath, and extra time/space for reflection and meditation become paramount. For, if I do not honor these truths, I am unable to show up fully to be of service. And, I simply will not stand for this. My students/clients deserve my best.

So, consider yourself warned. This girl IS on fire. And, blazing a path which is paved by awareness, an honoring of truth and authenticity … with eyes set on BIG things to come.

In closing, I’d like to say THANK YOU! Thank you to my students, to my clients, and to my loved ones. For being a mirror for me. And, for providing me with the opportunity to show up – fully, and authentically. I invite you to do the very same for YOU. Afterall, you deserve nothing less!

Slooooooow Down

There’s this little voice inside of my head. I hear it whisper to me with some regularity. Truth be told, I actively watch myself tell it to “shut the **** up” more often than I might like to admit. Until it gets louder … and louder still. It’s the voice which invites me to sloooooow down! Sometimes, it has to work rather hard to be heard. Until it gets so loud that I have no choice but to acknowledge it. This was the case last week.

Getting sick just as the warmer weather decided to consistently grace us with its presence was definitely not very high on my to-do’s list. In fact, for several days I decided that I was, in fact, not getting sick. Over the weekend my boyfriend commented upon how I sounded terrible and asked how I was feeling. I responded by saying “Oh I’m fine, it feels as if I’m fighting something, but don’t worry …. I’m winning!” He gently suggested that this might not be the best approach. And still, I pressed onward. This continued for a few days. It wasn’t until Tuesday that I realized I might have to acknowledge I was not well. During my afternoon yoga class my students asked me if I wanted to cut class short on account of a rather intense bout of coughing.

I was embarrassed. And, I was ashamed. Ashamed that I had been trying to ignore my body’s signs/symptoms for days. I was, in fact, sick. This realization was a tough one to wrap my head, and perhaps more importantly, my heart around. You see, I don’t customarily get sick. I’d like to think that I am pretty in-tune with when I’ve been burning the candle at both ends. I strive to honor my body’s need for rest. I do my best to fuel and hydrate myself in a way which will provide my body with optimal nourishment. I am conscious of moving my body with regularity offering it a balance of aerobic, strengthening and stretching. My goal is to maintain balance.

This sickness, which has been subtly lingering on for about a week now, has afforded me the opportunity to notice my resistance to slowing down. Even amidst sickness my tendency to go-go-go has wanted to rear its’ head. On the day which I cancelled all of my clients and teaching obligations (with reluctance), I found myself wanting to default to the aforementioned to-do’s list: to work on my newsletter, to catch up on emails, to balance my check-book, to do a gentle youtube yoga class, even to clean my kitchen floor. All things which tend to fall to the bottom of said to-do’s list. Yet, clearly not things which would serve me at a time when body was truly craving R/R. Reflecting upon this experience has led me to the realization that perhaps that I can stand to improve upon the degree to which I maintain balance in my life.

Of late, I have felt more and more drawn to the gentler practices of restorative and/or yin yoga. I immediately watch myself want to judge this … isn’t that “lazy” yoga?! Maybe so. Or, maybe not! The truth is that a slower approach to the practice which incorporates long holds in postures can be downright uncomfortable – both for the physical body, as well as the mental endurance. One of my most impactful teachers says, “Growth begins at the point of the pose when we begin to notice discomfort.” I believe that this is true when speaking of the yoga practice as well as of life’s experiences which take place off of the mat, too. It goes against my nature to sloooooooow down! If left to my own devices, I seem to default to the go-go-go mentality.

My belief is that this is actually why life has led me to the practices of yoga and meditation. The mindfulness which results from these practices is what allows me to notice my habits. It provides me with an opportunity to do so without judgement. Rather than judging, I can embrace change. And so that is what I am choosing to do.

I am striving to be gentle with myself as I return fully back to wellness. I am often checking in with myself … “Josette, are you caring for YOU in a loving way – much the same as you might love, care for, and nurture a client or loved one recovering from an illness?!” I am noticing my resistances, stretching my comfort zone, and striving to listen that subtle (or not so subtle voice) which encourages me to sloooooooow down!

I am wondering how/if a similar voice might show up for you? And, how you may or may not be aware of fighting it, too. I invite you to notice this with me. Perhaps you may similarly choose to stretch your comfort zone and welcome a newfound refreshing sense of balance into your life!

Be Here Now

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Even yoga and meditation instructors, well at least this one, experience ebbs and flows in the degree to which they are committed to the practices.

The Christmas holiday this year provided me with more joyous moments than I’ve experienced in years. This was wonderful; And, it made for a rather abundantly full calendar. Knowing this, I set the intention at the beginning of December for what I began calling a Concscious Christmas.

I would fully BE with each one of experiences that were to unfold. To fully embrace the wrapping of the presents, until I was fully in the Christmas Eve mass experience, until the next day when I was fully experiencing the drive to my boyfriend’s brother’s house … Throughout each one of these experiences, I must admit that I found my mind wandering. Each time I began to notice that I was able to gently encourage myself back to the present moment through use of the phrase, “Be here now, Josette!”

While I’m not a big New Year’s Resolution kind of gal, I do believe in using the beginning of a new calendar year as an opportunity to assess how I’ve been conducting my life. Through reflection, I became aware of a few notable things. A) I’d been cutting corners in my meditation practice. Not sitting as long in the AM’s. Or, skipping it altogether. Certainly, sleep was what my body needed after a late evening out at a holiday gathering rather than meditation, right?! B.) I’d also been swapping out my daily yoga practice for the spin bike on many occasions. Certainly, that is where my hindquarters – now grossly at risk of expanding due to the increased caloric intake associated with the holidays – needed to be. And, there just didn’t seem to be enough time for both spinning AND yoga in any given day, right?!

Well, maybe not so much. I was taking liberties. I’d been falling into not so great habits. As a result, I was slowly, over time, becoming less present. I began to notice that I was having to catch myself more and more. I found myself gently drawing back to the phrase, “Be here now, Josette!” Despite the best of intentions, I came to realize that it was high time to re-commit. To move from a month of Conscious Christmas onward into 2017 with a new intention: to proceed with presence.

So, throughout January I’ve been embracing this experience. Research suggests that it takes three weeks, or 21 days, to make or break a habit. With 21 days now under my belt of having re-committed to sitting in daily meditation, as well as connecting through breath to mindful movement most days/week, I can soundly say that I’ve been experiencing that which one of my favorite authors, Marianne Williamson, teaches: “Once everything falls into place, I’ll feel peace. Spirit says, ‘Find your peace, and then everything will fall into place.’”

I invite you to join me through presence. Join me in BE-ing here now!

The struggle IS real

 

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This is a statement which I received in a text message from a girlfriend this AM. The text was referring to the mayhem which unfolds amidst schedules around this time of the year. For those of you who are parents, you know all too well the reality of the eminent shift which takes place in the Fall. At present, you are likely facing full-on back to school chaos. Ahhh, the joys of juggling back to school night with Fall sport commitment(s) all the while striving to stay on top of the typical week night obligations. How interesting it can be when you notice that you literally have to be in several places at one time! Interesting and/or discouraging and overwhelming … yes?!

If I’m being candid, it’s worth admitting that as an independent thirty something woman there are no shortage of days in which I face challenge simply taking sound care of myself. Forget about having other human(s) who depend upon me to care for them. God bless those of you who have more than one child … I honestly don’t know how you do it!

I noticed that the text message which I received this AM caused me to have what seemed to be an un-explainably strong response. I wanted to convey the fact that the struggle can undoubtedly be real IF that is a notion in which you choose to extend energy – Or, not! Intellectually I know and believe this to be so, but I wasn’t quite sure, at least not at first, why I was having such a strong response. Until the day continued to unfold.

I am noticing a trend among almost everyone with whom I have contact of late. No matter who … male or female … adolescent, or middle aged, or retired … people from all walks of life seem to be expressing a challenge in maintaining a sense of balance amidst the mayhem which this time of the year ensues. Though I do not have any little people to get off to school, or sports practice etc., even I am aware of the certain sense of hectic about my day-to-day which seems to present in direct alignment with the introduction of the first glimpses of crisp Fall air.

As I currently embark upon partnership with a wonderful man who has recently entered into my life (photo creds to him for the above image), I notice the struggle to nurture this blossoming relationship amidst a busy schedule. I am aware of the fact that this could be said in the Fall, or any season of life, for that matter. This realization, I suspect, impacted the strong response which I had to the text message this AM. For, the struggle IS real if you choose to feed that notion. And yet, I personally prefer to go with the – Or, not option.

There’s no disputing the fact that nurturing relationship(s) can be challenging during busy times. This can be said not only of relationships with loved ones, but also of one’s relationship with self. The irony is that it is quite arguably during the busiest of times that one could stand to most benefit from honoring those relationship(s) which are truly valued and have proven to be serving. Enter in the conversation of yoga.

Today during my yoga practice, my teacher asked that students draw to mind one word which could fuel the day ahead. My word was honor. Honor was a call to action for me. A call to action to remind myself to honor that/those practices in the moments, hours, and days ahead – amidst the busy – which have consistently proven to serve me well. Maintaining my relationship with loved ones is integral, and yet, the foundation which enables me to do so is maintaining my relationship with myself. For me this includes fueling myself with nourishing food/beverage. It includes getting enough rest. It includes getting myself outdoors with the intention of moving with purpose. And, it most definitely includes regularly finding myself on my yoga mat.

I know that it can be all too tempting amidst the chaos of a busy Fall schedule to let one’s yoga practice slip by the wayside. I acknowledge that perhaps I may be biased … But, for me, neglecting my yoga practice has never proven to serve me well. So, here and now, I ask you to consider for yourself what the practice(s) are which consistently have proven to serve you well? Why not take this opportunity to commit in the same way that I have to take a call to action? To honor that/those practices which enable you to function optimally. Why not commit to drop the struggle. For, the struggle is real IF you choose to feed that notion – Or, not!

Flow

Grandmother Tree

Having left PA on June 15th, my journey thus far has had no shortages of ups and downs. As many of you know, I have been actively calling more travel into my life. I consciously created space from the normalcy of my day-to-day existence in which to manifest a month of learning, exploration, and growth.

The plan was loosely defined. I would spend one week in Sedona, then one week in San Diego, followed by about a week of wiggle room to roam as guided by my heart before ultimately landing in Big Sur prior to my return home mid-July. What I forgot to plan for was the fact that actually surrendering to the concept of flowing with the unfolding of said series of events would prove to stretch me hugely outside of my innately Type A (FYI: west coasters seem to believe this to be a deep seeded neuroses instilled among us east coasters) comfort zone.

Intellectually, I acknowledge and accept the fact that it is only through stretching one’s comfort zone that growth can be experienced. In fact, I believe this to be why I have taken to traveling more of late. And yet, to date, this has not proven to make it any easier. So yes, it’s true, even the yogi/meditation instructor struggles with the concept of fully releasing control and going with the flow.

Use your imagination, if you would, now to consider how it might prove to be interesting for a planner such as myself to share space with an individual whose daily mantra is committed to the word flow. Enter into the equation my dear friend and fellow healer, Heather Fleming of http://www.consciousnutrition.com It is thanks to Heather that I have a safe place to call home-base during my stay in San Diego. Heather seemed to catch on pretty quickly to the fact that I was struggling a bit with the concept of truly surrendering to the concept of flowing. One morning as she observed me moving through my Ayurvedic AM practices, Heather casually commented “Wow! You have quite the morning routine. Does that help to (brief pause) ground you?” Whether she realized it or not, Heather was totally calling my bluff. I was simply moving through the motions of my morning practice.

I allowed this to go on for maybe a day or two more before I found myself lacing up my sneaks to set out for some me time. To check out to check in. To move some energy. To simply get lost – which I actually did at first – in nature. To trust physically stepping well outside of my comfort zone. To notice what that brought up. And, to surrender to feeling that experience.

Stumbling upon this tree provided me with a wonderful reality check. What beauty and wisdom she had to offer! Tucked – seemingly –  in the middle of nowhere. But, no more than a few blocks from Heather’s home. As I sat in silence in the presence of this tree, I surrendered to that something which is bigger than anything worldly. I asked for support in navigating through the next few weeks. To trusting the unfolding of my journey. As if my prayer had been instantaneously answered, I was granted the gift of an incredibly supportive phone conversation with a dear friend whom I’d been missing from home.

After hanging up, I sat for a few moments longer continuing to enjoy this sacred space. I drew in a very deep breath – the deepest breath I believe that I’d taken throughout my entire trip thus far. Breath, or prana, literally translates to life force. In that moment, I visualized myself breathing in life and all that it had to offer. I knew whole-heartedly that I was ready to embark upon the remainder of my journey from a different perspective. With the agenda of dropping the plan. With the agenda of surrendering to flow

As you now gaze at the image of this beautifully wise tree, I challenge you to ask yourself how/what supports you in surrendering to flowing from one moment to the next amidst the chaos of this life? Maybe it’s a walk outdoors. Maybe it’s time spent on your yoga mat. Maybe it’s prayer/meditation to whatever higher presence aligns with your belief system. Maybe it’s a cup of tea and a heartfelt talk with a loved one. Whatever the approach, my hope is that you may be inspired by my faltering to commit, or perhaps to re-commit, to embrace your practice(s) of choice! I implore you to try stepping outside of your comfort zone – to take the time to slow down, to notice, to feel, and to surrender to the flow of life.