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.

Pesky Little Four Letter “F” Word

The last time I blogged the focus was on awareness. My pledge to awareness – to noticing, to staying, and to feeling – has been quite interesting. From this experience, I have taken the following: Once aware, it is impossible to un-know. The phrase, “Ignorance is bliss” has come to mind on more than one occasion. It seems awareness can be a gift as well as a curse.

A common thread which I’ve noticed presenting itself in my life is a pesky little four letter word.  One which I am not proud to admit has somewhat consistently been rearing its head of late. My belief is that all beings have the opportunity to carry out decisions, and ultimately the unfolding of this life, based upon a continuum. On one end of the continuum resides experiences associated with a love based expansive energy. On the other end of the continuum lies a fear based contracted state of existence.

My desire is to conduct my day to day in a manner which is in alignment with honoring the greater good for myself, as well as all those people, places and things with whom I have contact. Through embracing this love based reality, I find I am best suited to radiantly present in the world firmly rooted in who I am, and for what I stand. When I am not honoring this … well, let’s just say that the outcome is not near as expansive of an experience.

Unfortunately, the four letter word which has been showing up for me of late is NOT love. It happens to fall on the less than desirable end of the continuum. The word is … you guessed it … FEAR! Fear is so tricky. It’s tricky because I don’t know that there is a single human being who can escape this emotion.

I’ve been discussing this less than desirable feeling with those in my support system. I find that simply acknowledging this elephant in the room has the ability to diminish some of the power it has over me. Many well-respected authors seem to have written of this omnipresent emotion. A dear friend recently led me to a passage by one of my favorite authors, Marianne Williamson, on the topic at hand …

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be … As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

In my opinion, this passage speaks to the continuum to which I’ve referred. My experience has been that it is my yoga mat which consistently provides me with a place to face said fears!!! I once had a boyfriend antagonistically ask “Do you think that your yoga mat will be able to support you on this one, too?” as we were going through a rough patch. And the answer was/is, “YES!”

So rather than beating myself up over the fact that fear has been presenting itself, I’ve been embracing this as an opportunity to spend some quality time on my mat. I have found that stepping onto the mat provides me with a safe and supported environment to drop fully into the noticing, staying, and ultimately feeling out that which my newfound awareness has been shedding light upon. As the saying goes, “The only way to move forward is through.”

Has awareness ever yielded less than desirable feelings and/or emotions for you? Has the phrase “Ignorance is bliss” ever crossed your mind, too? How have you chosen to manage this experience?

Perhaps next time you might consider stepping onto the comfort and safety of your yoga mat to navigate through some of those feelings! Acknowledging and BE-ing with the uncomfortable can be growth inducing. By facing physically stumbling through poses while on the yoga mat, neural pathways are established. These neural pathways create the foundation for an opportunity for similar experience(s), in which you might feel safe to try to take a look at something that is less than desirable, outside of practice time while facing “real life” stuff. After all, once we know we simply cannot un-know. And so the option is yours … to flounder about with that knowing – OR – to move forward. How will you choose?!

Fool Me, Not … April is for Awareness

3:39AM … that is when I awoke – wide awake – on this blessed April 1st … April Fool’s Day … despite having nodded off only a few hours prior! The phrase which greeted me at this opportune hour was “Take responsibility, Josette.” In my restlessness, I began to consider how I might embody that statement, placing my trust wholeheartedly in the fact that it must have intuitively found me at this obscene hour for some reason. And so I was led to ponder… Responsibility for my thoughts; responsibility for my actions; and responsibility for my words.

In choosing to embrace this as an opportunity to reflect in a manner which tends to serve me best, I’ve turned to writing. Writing with the intention of sharing. For, I am striving to embrace the fact that I have valuable knowledge and insight to share.

I am aware of the fact that sharing in such a manner is an admittedly vulnerable endeavor.  I am also aware of the fact that this is simply an opportunity for growth; an opportunity to establish and nurture new neural pathways. Furthermore, in choosing to use such “I statements” through my thoughts, my words, and my actions, I am aware of the fact that I am embracing a Gestalt based approach of existence.

This is something which I embodied throughout my time spent at The Esalen Institute. I’d brainstormed that the reflective blog which I might draft to share publicly of my time away could be entitled checking out to check in. And yet, throwing my plan out the window in an effort to trust what feels right in this moment is precisely in accordance with that which I’ve learned to embrace during my time away. And so, in the wee hours of this AM … on this joyous April 1st … I feel this to be a ridiculously fortuitous time to reflect. So, here goes nothing …

I’ve been home one week now to date and re-integration has been nothing short of a whirlwind. It seems my body still has NO idea upon what coast I am currently residing. Each night as I lay my head upon my pillow with the intention of a full night’s rest, unfortunately I wake after a few short hours. Some nights 5 – 6 hours of shut eye, though last night only 3 – 4, having obtained what one might consider a respectable nap, but certainly NOT a full night’s rest. And yet, somehow, someway, I have been incredibly productive. I have sincerely enjoyed re-connecting with many of my family, friends, and clients. I feel abundantly grateful for these connections, and even more grateful for the resilience of my body.

I’ve come to learn, in short, that the body is miraculous. And, with regards to my body in particular, I have come to acknowledge and accept the fact that it has been through a heck of a lot! I would be remiss in neglecting to admit that some of that which I’ve been challenged to overcome has been admittedly self-induced.

In removing myself from “normal life,” as I’ve seemingly known it, to reside in the remoteness of community based living at the fairy-tale existence of reality which I grew to know and love at The Esalen Institute- shout out to the gods/goddess which I’ve left behind – I was provided with what proved to be a fabulous opportunity to learn that which truly enables me to function well. And what I learned is that absolutely no one is control of  me but me.

What enables me to function optimally is likely quite different than what enables you to function optimally. The beauty, and opportunity for application, of this realization is that each one of us has been given our own unique body, our vessel, through which to navigate this life. While this seems to be common sense, I found it to be a profound realization. I’ve learned that I can choose to embrace this by taking responsibility for myself fully, by consciously choosing to conduct my thoughts, my actions, and my words, in a manner which will truly honor that which serves me best … or not. At the end of the day, no one but is in control of this but ME!

And so I challenge you now to take a look at your life. How have you been showing up (or not) for you? How might you optimally honor that which serves your greater good? I challenge you to consider the following … have you been taking responsibility for your thoughts, for your actions, and for your words in a manner which can and will optimally serve your greater good?

Perhaps you too might look to this April 1st … this April Fool’s Day … as not a day for foolery, but rather, as a day of opportunity. As the saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Through an embracing of a Gestalt based existence, I vow publicly to truly take responsibility! In the month ahead, I elect to embody this phrase. I choose to take responsibility … for my thoughts … for my actions … and for my words. I choose April as a month of Awareness; to honor that which will serve me optimally. I offer you the opportunity to join me!!!!

Doing It DIfferently

As we face the new-ness of the start of a calendar year, I’ve been finding myself feeling rather disenchanted by the rah rah rah which enters into the vocabulary of so many in January. I am not typically someone who makes New Year’s Resolutions. In fact, I find the conventional approach to grandiose celebration around NYE to be somewhat confusing. And, to each his own.

At some point about mid-December, I was asked directly “Have you placed any thought towards your 2016 New Year’s Resolution yet?” I find many of the common suspects – a renewed commitment to eat healthfully, to exercise with regularity, to get enough rest etc – to be aspects of self-care which I strive to maintain throughout the calendar year. This is not to say that I honor that notion optimally 365 days/year. As humans we all falter; therein lies the phrase human nature.

And yet, I am aware of the fact that being asked to consider a New Year’s Resolution provided me with a lovely opportunity to reflect upon how I might consider shifting my day-to-day such that it would be conducive to my overall well-being. Doing so lent itself nicely to a practice which I have exercised on NYE for the past three years. After being gifted a Gratitude Jar for Christmas, I began the practice of jotting down simple things for which I am grateful. I document not only positive experiences, but also challenging lessons learned. On December 31st, I read each and every slip of paper which has made its way into my jar for the year.  Reflecting in this manner affords me the opportunity to notice trends having occurred throughout the past calendar year. People, places, and things by which I was moved – good, bad, or indifferently. I take it for what it’s worth. And, I make note of these trends. People, places, or things which consistently show up are good information.

Through this practice I gain an awareness of concepts which I may have lost sight of that feel beneficial to revisit. Additionally, I am provided with an opportunity to consider how might I do things differently! I recently attended a master’s yoga class with my teacher, Sherry Sidoti, in which she approached the entire class from this perspective. “Raise your leg, but maybe not quite as high as you usually would; step forward, but maybe a little bit to the right/left of your typical foot placement; sweep your arms to the sky, but if you always do so rigidly perhaps notice this time how/where you might soften.” Sherry taught that the yoga mat is safe place in which to practice doing things differently. To rise above our samskaras (Sanskrit), or habitual patterns. This is so very true, and yet, this does not make it any easier.

Reflection and introspection have led me to the following truth: Human nature is a pesky little concept which consistently tempts me to move through life conducting my decisions based upon how things should be done, rather than always honoring what feels innately right. Even if it’s different than how I normally would. Maybe even a little uncomfortable. In choosing to step outside of the comfort zone, one consciously enters into the realm of endless potential. I challenge you to consider how you might do so for yourself in 2016 – both on and off of your yoga mat! Then trust, breathe, and revel at the growth as it unfolds.

BUSY

Busy … things have been busy … in fact, things are busy … so very, very busy! I feel as if this is a common response that I’ve been both giving and receiving of late. For a while, I was looking to the shifting of schedules, the ushering in of Fall, as the excuse. But I’m beginning to think that perhaps it was just that – simply an excuse. At least for me, it seems to have become a convenient excuse to offset the unfortunate reality of acknowledging the fact that I, single handedly, have been making myself so very, very busy.

It’s interesting being in business for one’s self. It’s truly a beautiful reality which affords me so many freedoms. And, in living this reality, there is no one but myself to blame if/as life takes on the degree of chaos which I’ve recently been experiencing.

The fortunate news, because misery loves company, is that many of my peers are similarly in business for themselves and seem to be similarly reporting that things have been so very, very busy for them as well. So much so that it seems impossible to even catch a phone call with a few of my dearest friends. In fact, the games of phone tag which I’ve been enduring have reached a level of all-time extreme sport intensity.

This now somewhat chronic state of busy – at least for me – seems to have been building, and building, and building. Yet, as if it happened in the blink of an eye, over the past 24 hours it seems to have come to a culmination. I found myself in my bed this AM reflecting upon how this was the first day in quite a few in which I wasn’t committed to springing up and out prior to the rising of the sun. It was then that I realized … WOAH! I need an intervention! I need to slooooow down. I need to take a look at what the hell I’ve been doing that’s been keeping me so very, very busy!!!

And so I did. I rescheduled my day altogether. I began to watch myself as all that I simply must accomplish came rushing into my awareness. Almost instantaneously, I was reminded of an email trail which has been unfolding between the folks of the co-op where I work. In one of my last emails, in an up on my soap box manner, I suggested how when life feels overwhelming I find it very helpful to pose the question what’s important to myself. And to revisit, to reassess, and to reconsider this question regularly!

Once I’d mustered up the energy to pry myself from my bed, I immediately began starting to do a number of things. My apartment began to take on the look of a scene in which you’d have thought a tornado passed through. I suspect that you may know this feeling. In staying true to my commitment to slooooow down, I began to watch this experience and to consider the whirlwind which was unfolding.

Were the things that I was doing actually important? What’s most important? What will prove to be optimally serving of this time I’d created for myself … right here … right now?

As the hours of sunlight of the day begin to draw to an end, having never left my apartment, I feel overcome with a wonderful sense of productivity, grounding, and clarity. It’s almost as if I’ve hit the re-set button on my person. Having embraced this time to re-assess my priorities, I realize that I may have been staying so busy, perhaps subconsciously, in an effort to shy away from some of the truly important stuff. That real deal stuff that tugs at our heart, and weighs on our soul. I’ve found that staying busy can be a really nice way to escape from reality. For a while, this may be serving, until it’s not anymore. I know this feeling. I’ve been here before, and I would be foolish to think that I won’t be here again at some point.

Yet, in having watched my thoughts closely throughout this entire day, I believe it safe to say that my busy has been a mix of things. Some of these things have proven to be actually important, while others have proven to be things which have been either sound distractions OR things which can be placed on my list to accomplish in the days ahead, as I recommit to embark upon each moment of each day mindfully. To seal the deal, I am off to enjoy a walk at dusk in an effort to fully re-set by exposing myself to the healing energy of nature.

I challenge you to take a look at your busy. Perhaps, you may be lucky enough to intervene on it before your body physically stops you in your tracks due to exhaustion. Either way, notice what comes up for you when you do. Perhaps you too may consider embracing a reality in which you honor that which is truly most important rather than choosing to stay on the, often times self-induced, “hamster wheel” which so many of us know to be our reality.

Balance

I’ve been drawn to the concept of balance quite a bit of late. I know that when I feel I am in balance there’s something simply unstoppable about it. It’s as if nothing can get in the way of me and that which I hope to manifest. I have my eyes on the prize and I’m cruising mindfully along at full speed ahead. And then, there are the times when I seem to fall out of balance.

I’m not really sure what that means, per say, though the feeling is one which I hope to not consciously expose myself to with any great frequency. It’s almost like a hangover. When we wake up in that out of balance place and go “UGH! How did I let myself get here?!?”

And, I’ve been challenging myself to see this as a gift. Displayed on my refrigerator are images, quotes, and memorabilia which nourish me through daily reminders and support to “stay the course.” Among them is the Mary Oliver quote, “Someone I once loved gave me a box of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”

I find the funny thing with balance is that sometimes we have no idea how in or out of sync we may be until something shakes our world such that we are forced to stop and reflect. Denise, Leslie, and I were chatting the other day about placing the visualization of a swinging pendulum to this concept of balance. A pendulum is always moving. Though it appears to be in balance when hanging in the center, the pendulum will always be in a position of swaying, even if it’s just ever so slightly, to the right or to the left.

This past week marked the annual Cicacci Family Jersey Shore trip. Ahhh, the joys of family time! I love my family from the depths of my being with everything that I have. We are a very close bunch … And, they can push my buttons in a big way. I embarked upon this trip having set the intention to remain in a grounded, conscious state of presence with each passing breath. Overall, that served me quite well. However, no family vacation would be complete without the gift of a good challenge or two.

A series of triggering events provided me with the perfect opportunity to watch myself swing farther than I might have chosen away from my center. As I began to swing off center, although I was aware as it was happening, it became clear to me that I was not fully certain how to intervene in the most effective and efficient manner. My response in striving to swing back towards my center has been one worth noting. For, through reflection, I’ve been able to identify how I can and will proceed in facing similar challenge(s) next time. As you and I know both know, there very well may be a next time.

I’ve taken to the challenge of seeking clarity on what is most serving to my greater good, and ultimately the greater good for all those with whom I have contact. I am finding that this means exposing myself to the people, places, and things which prevent my pendulum from wavering too far off to the right or to the left.

For me this includes a number of things. Above all else, I’ve identified that it means remaining with my breath at all times. It means staying pure and authentic in my relationships with both myself and those with whom I interact on a day-to-day basis. It means physically fueling myself with nourishment in the form of foods and drink which enable me to thrive, as well as providing myself with an adequate balance of rest and mindful movement and meditation daily.

For you, this will undoubtedly look very different. Alas, we are all humans moving through this life in our own ways. I hope that you may choose to acknowledge, and perhaps even soften to the fact that, sometimes the greatest gift of all is in experiencing those moments in which we feel off center, as they provide us with insight for which to return, with gratitude, back towards balance.

Longing to be seen

As I strive to integrate the teachings of the immersion that I just completed with my teacher from Martha’s Vineyard, Sherry Sidoti, I can’t help but reflect back to two years ago when I last attended a teacher’s immersion on island. It feels empowering to acknowledge the growth – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – which has evolved, and it is incredibly humbling to realize how much of my “stuff” is still so very present in my life. “Longing to be seen,” as Sherry rather matter of factly explained it. I am learning to accept the fact that when we create the space in our lives for ourselves to fully drop into the teachings, our “stuff” undeniably rears its head.

Through her teachings, Sherry shared of the subtle bodies of yogic philosophy – the different layers of the body which exist beyond one’s physical form. These bodies encompass the mental, emotional, spiritual, and ultimately, the soul bodies. It is only through addressing EACH layer that we may have the potential to truly find inner peace, contentment, and joy. Devoted practice to the asana (yoga poses) can be the catalyst in through the physical body to see what lies beneath this on a deeper level, that which is longing to be seen.

I am grateful to have provided myself with a few days on the island to decompress following this immersion to receive the fruitful riches of Martha’s land. I feel fully here, and fully open. Simple blessings have been finding me and from them I am sourcing strength for continued growth.

I’ve taken a few walks along one of my favorites beaches on the island, Lucy Vincent’s Beach. As I was drawn to particular rocks, I began to notice a trend. Each of the rocks which were catching my eye was some blending of white, black, and/or gray. Some of the rocks appeared to be white with black speckles and spots throughout, some black with white speckles and spots throughout, and some a complete marriage of the two, thus yielding a rock which appeared to be gray.

As I walked further, I started to consider the fact that there was opportunity for learning from these rocks. Right before my eyes, Martha was delivering me with a message. In life there is darkness, and there is light … Always!!! Even when we are devout in our practice, there will be challenging days. Not one of us is exempt from this. Life is NOT always about happiness and sunshine. Acknowledging and accepting this can be pivotal in releasing our conditioned human response to achieve a sense of perfection which is never actually attainable, nor is it sustainable. What we DO have control over is how we choose to perceive that which life throws our way.

Some days life may feel generally light – like a white rock – with dark spots interspersed here and there, while some days life may feel generally dark – like a black rock – with only glimpses of light here and there. Other days may feel like a true mix of darkness and light – gray. As a human being who’s been granted embodiment in this physical form on our planet, I challenge you to decide how you will greet the gift of each passing day.

Our “stuff” may never fully go away. Gray moments, days, and sometimes even longer stretches of time are all a part of our journey. It is impossible to appreciate and fully experience pleasure, if you’ve not also faced trying times. Afterall, the tough moments show up only because they are longing to be seen. By choosing to face rather than to ignore and/or to distract ourselves from them, we can make conscious strides towards freedom from the control of that which they may have over us.

The practice of yoga seems to find us in the most pristine of times. Ancient yogic philosophy supports that which I feel blessed to be learning as my practice continues to evolve. Remaining dedicated to the practice and striving to commit to BE with the lows and the highs – both the darkness and the light – becomes more manageable. This awareness, has and continues to yield an increased ability to hear my true essence, the voice of the intuitive self, which speaks the loudest and the clearest when I remain steadfast in honoring alignment of the mind, body, and spirit. Some days through the asana, the physical body practice, and other days through stillness and breath. And that it is ok, too.

Don’t be selfish … Choose to place your needs above all else!

Initially this may strike you as somewhat of an oxymoron, yes? Interestingly enough, this message has been coming to me from a number of different angles of late. In a recent training my teacher, Sherry Sidoti, discussed how the role of a yogi involves a prioritizing of self. Sherry advised “Do not give away your power by engaging in a conversation in which you are asked to justify a self-serving lifestyle.” She went on to discuss how it is impossible to effectively carry out ones’ life’s work if not foundationally maintaining your own well-being through mindful self-care.

At times I admittedly feel challenged to be fully at peace in carrying out a self-serving lifestyle. I acknowledge that it is not only what’s best for me, but also for the greater good of all individuals with whom I interact on a day-to-day basis. Yet still, unfortunately, sometimes that filthy seven letter word – selfish – comes to mind. During these times I try to draw to mind the fact that I have experienced times throughout my life when I may not have been able to offer my best self to my family, friends, colleagues, and clients because I was simply not prioritizing my own self-care.

Recently I read a blog post written by Chelsea Roff, another teacher who has a strong presence in my life. In this post she shared, “I grew up thinking of self-care as something indulgent, even selfish ‒ something you do only after you’ve checked off everything else on your list. The truth is, neglecting self-care and trying to give from a half empty tank is a lot more selfish than heroic.” This truly hit home for me. It inspired me to write …

As I basked in the sunshine partaking in a delicious late afternoon snack from the daily harvest of the garden following a fabulous Esalen massage, I endeavored to soak up my first significant stretch of me time since heading off to the west coast one week prior. And still, I found myself struggling to simply take in the goodness of an afternoon off. For, it seems that we are hardwired to “go go go” and “do do do.” Even as I sat immersed in an environment which I’ve come to believe to be one of the most beautiful places on the planet, I felt challenged to give myself permission to just be; to fully take it all in; to embrace the pampering, and the downtime.

I elected to optimize upon this time. I mindfully drew to my awareness the most important aspects of my self-care routine such that when I returned home I might be able to re-affirm these as priority throughout my normal day-to-day. For, this is simply not optional. My loved ones, my colleagues, and my clients deserve to experience the best Josette possible. In proceeding, I am consciously choosing to acknowledge the fact that it is only through maintaining myself as priority – and through softening to the thought of some pampering here and there – that I can and will be able to best offer this.

As I sat reflecting, I was reminded of a mantra to which I was first introduced a number of years ago … “I nourish myself for the service of others.” Makes sense, yes? I challenge you now to consider what crucial aspects of self-care you might choose to grant to yourself on a daily basis so that you too will be able to face each day offering those around you your best (enter name here) possible?!