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?!

Learning and Growing

Learning and growing … This is a phrase which seems to be consistently showing up in each and every one of my journal entries of late. Thus, I had been feeling called to use this as the foundation for this month’s blog post. It was only after having the incredibly fortunate experience of studying this past weekend with my teacher from Martha’s Vineyard, Sherry Sidoti, that I felt inspired to fully divulge upon this.

Sherry spoke on patterns … “Go into the patterns, the habits, the stuck-ness,” she encouraged and went on to say “then commit to FEEL.” For, it is only through facing this – in stirring stuff up that we are then able to sit with, process, and ultimately move through these things. Thus, therein lies the practice of yoga.

Physical body yoga, the asana practice, is only the first layer of yoga. By investing time and energy in this, we begin to touch, perhaps only superficially at first, upon the practice. I say this not to discredit or devalue that which we do during our time invested on our mats in the asana practice. And, I applaud each and every one of you who has been steadfast in your gathering to practice at Balanced for Life Yoga Therapy, for this is what readies us for the deeper layers of yoga.

Of late, the true practice for me has not been with the physical practice. Instead, it has been presenting itself throughout day to day “life stuff” in moments spent off the mat. For instance … the wherewithal to not implode after hours of troubleshooting with the MindBody system, the patience to sort through how to best co-operatively ready monthly newsletters with Denise, or the perseverance to observe, without judgment, how I am triggered both in relationship with myself and others.

Perhaps it should come as no surprise to me that in discussing patterns, old habits of mine were triggered this past weekend. As I laid awake restless in the wee hours of the night , amidst an irrefutable desire to with a snapping of my fingers reverse the systemic effects of fatigue and dehydration, for a moment this journey did not feel so picturesque. For a moment, I wanted to fall into the familiar negative thought patterning of beating myself up. Instead, I began to draw in gratitude for my awareness of the fact that these feelings were the direct result of my not fully honoring practices which I’ve identified to be serving to my greater good. (Note to self: my body does NOT like to metabolize margaritas with loads of salt – though it tastes divine in the moment). Mark my words – I will be damned if I allow myself to falter down this very same path again.

For as the saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on ME.” So … I chose to write, to breathe, and to surrender to rest. A new dawn presented a new opportunity. My morning practices of detoxifying, cleansing, healthful food selection, and adequate hydration allowed me to source energy for my final day of study with Sherry. As my yoga momma so often encourages me, “Lather, rinse, repeat.” Thus, I continue to learn, and I will continue to grow.

This life is a challenging path. In choosing to face the challenge by fully doing the yoga –meshing the mind/body/spirit – or perhaps in allowing the yoga to do you, to move through you, one can take on the course of what Sherry refers to as devotional warrior. She went on to quote Sri Auorbindo, “By your stumbling the world is perfected.” On this journey, we stand to enrich not only our own lives but also the lives of those around us. I challenge you to remain in close relationship with your breath throughout this process … learning and growing!