Tag Archives: reflection

Scary Freedom

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Being held hostage for so long
makes freedom scary when it comes,
and I curse my tormentor
for finding another captive to ensnare.
I curse her, his new prey,
for allowing herself to be captivated by his charms.
I suppose I should instead feel sorry for her,
walking right into his trap as she has.
I suppose I should only feel compassion
as I look at their one year “anniversary” photo,
glasses of champagne on the table,
looking so pleased with themselves.
It’s only a matter of time
before he does to her
what he did to me.
And I’m free.
I’m free.
I’M FREE.
Why does freedom feel so scary?

Autumnal Thoughts

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Autumn arrives,
bringing cool air, wind,
and the promise of change.
As the days grow shorter
and the nights longer,
as nature slows down
and prepares for winter,
could I slow down too?
Could I take time
to go inwards, reflect,
see where I’ve been
and decide where I’m going?
Could I look ahead at life to come,
and choose to believe in the possibility
that after this long, dark night,
Spirit has a beautiful spring planned,
just waiting for my awakening?

Afternoon Reflection

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The afternoon light sparkles
on gently waving leaves.
My body wants rest; I listen.
I take a moment,
one little pause to reflect.
Who thinks these thoughts?
Who writes these words?
Who causes the leaves to dance
and the wind to blow through them?
It can be spacious, this moment,
this life.
The light keeps sparkling
and something within me
recognizes it.
All at once I realize,
I’m here. I made it.

Look Deeper

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I subbed a yoga class this evening.
I went into the ladies room
before I taught
and nearly ran into a woman
changing
right in front of a full length mirror.
I wondered why,
with all of the benches around,
was she changing right there,
staring at herself in the mirror…
This young woman ended up
in my class.
She was quiet and graceful;
I wondered if she was plagued
by the same body dissatisfaction
that is sold to us by our
body obsessed culture…
or maybe does she love her body??
After my class
I nearly ran into yet another woman
changing
right in front of the same mirror.
This one exclaimed
“SHIT! I forgot my pants!”
She was not as quiet
and maybe not as graceful.
I keep thinking about these two,
wondering about how we learn
to be preoccupied with our appearance,
obsessed with our reflection,
needing to see ourselves doing
the simplest things.
Maybe this is why
I often ask my students to close their eyes.
You don’t need to see to breathe.
Sometimes what we see outside
is such a distraction
that we have no attention left
for what’s inside.
Why stare at yourself
as you change one shell for another?
Could we learn to look a little deeper?

Look Into the Mirror

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When you look into the mirror
don’t be afraid–
stand naked and look
at the truth of your being.
Don’t cover yourself
with illusions;
drop the veil
that shields you from being fully alive
and stand fresh and vulnerable and spontaneous,
curious about who you really are.
There is nothing to fear,
open your eyes even wider.
Don’t ask the mirror
to reflect what you want to see
and then break it in anger
when it doesn’t comply.
Look at what is there
and love this self that is you.
The mirror is a friend.
It shows us where
the healing balm of self-love
is most needed.
As we apply this loving kindness to ourselves
the mirror will reflect it
back into the world.
All of our likes and dislikes,
our strengths and weaknesses
our shortcomings and our gifts–
the mirror reflects them all,
shining in the freshness of this now moment.
As we stand and look with courage
at the truth of ourselves
we see the whole world reflected
back to us;
the whole universe is held
in the glint of our eyes.

How to Meet an Obstacle

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When you are met with an obstacle,
don’t turn and run in the other direction.
You could run faster than the wind
to the other side of the universe
and the obstacle would be there waiting for you,
waving, saying, “Remember me? I’m still here.”

When you are met with an obstacle,
take a deep breath,
look inwards.
See what is being activated in you,
what feels sticky, hot, dark,  heavy…
what you are pushing against,
what you deny, hide, or repress
in your quest to control
the uncontrollable.

Breathe again,
let the thoughts and feelings
move the way they are meant to,
learn about yourself,
open your eyes,
awaken,
grow.

Whatever you perceive as “trouble” out there
is a juicy opportunity for self-knowing
in here.

Don’t hate the mirror
for reflecting yourself back to you–
smile,
open heart, open hands, open mind.
See your reflection in all things,
learn from all things–
there is no separation.

Choose the Reflection of the Purest Self

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Searching.
For what?
What is it that I think I want in order to be happy?
And can I look at that wanting,
and watch how it melts into more wanting?
Can I watch the anger,
and witness it fueling more anger?
Peace flowing into more peace?
Love blossoming into more love?
Joy dawning upon fathomless joy?

Whatever we give our attention to
fully and without pause,
this is what we become.

Let us awaken to our patterns,
let us choose where we send our thoughts.
The world waits for us to know it.
The universe is hushed, ready for us to see it.
Our shining self glows brightly,
let us open our eyes.
Let us see the mirrors all around us,
and choose the reflection of our purest self.

We Are All Mirrors

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As you exercise more discipline in your relationship to the world, your ability to concentrate and focus the mind will grow.  With this enhanced mental clarity and stability, new understanding and insight will reveal better approaches to living.  In this way, inner and outer discipline reinforce each other.

Joel & Michelle Levey, The Fine Arts of Relaxation, Concentration, and Meditation, p 22

Lovely isn’t it?  As we forge more meaningful relationships with everyone in our lives, we are able to enjoy a more meaningful relationship with ourselves.  And isn’t it beautiful–this idea that when we do the work of finding clarity in our inner life, our external lives will mirror that clarity?  This kind of thinking really puts us in the driver’s seat of all of our life experiences.

It has been said many times in many different ways, but it’s worth saying again because so many of us never grasp the responsibility that we have in creating lives that bring us joy and fulfillment–we need to start with our selves if we want our lives to be different.  Ghandi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”  The Buddha said, “All that we are is the result of what we have thought.”  Michael Jackson was aware of his supreme responsibility in making the world a better place when he sang, “I’m starting with the man in the mirror.”

What would happen if we were taught from the very beginning to start with the person in the mirror when we wished to experience change?  In our yoga asana practice we learn how to view life and ourselves from different angles as we move into inverted, standing, seated, prone and supine postures.  We learn how to breathe, and we see how our breathing affects our experience of our bodies and ourselves.  As we relax into a posture that challenges us and as we discover that the thoughts we bring with us into the pose will color how we experience it, we gain the insight necessary to apply this same awareness to the postures, angles, and challenges of our lives.

If we can commit to moving in the world with peace in our hearts, if we are dedicated to serving those around us with the sincere desire to see them flourish, if we are able to slow down and enjoy the precious little moments that combine into a lifetime of experiences, then when it is time to be still and go inwards, we know that there is nothing to fear.  We have nothing to hide from anyone out in the world, and we have nothing to hide from ourselves.  Slow down just a little, and you’ll be able to notice tiny little details of this grand existence that you otherwise would’ve missed in your rush to get on to the next thing.  Slow down a little, and when it is time to sit, you’ll find that each slow, mindful breath is a miracle.

The spiritual path has been likened to a steep ascent to the peak of a majestic mountain.  Treacherous footing makes it dangerous, there is so much effort involved that at times it seems impossible, and often there might be a strong feeling of wanting to give up completely.  But walk the path one step at a time and the peak is highly attainable.  It is the same with the path of self-knowing.  It is the same with the path of being a courageous crusader of lovingkindness out in a world that often seems bleak and stricken with pain. One step at a time, and it is possible.

Courage my friends.  We can all make this place, this life as beautiful, as enjoyable, as healthy, and as balanced as we dream they could be–but we need to begin with ourselves.  Discover your beauty, your joy, your wholeness, and your balance within, and then mirror these gifts out into the world.  Look for the beauty, the joy, the wholeness, and the balance that already exist in the world around you, and you’ll be able to see the reflection of those qualities within yourself.  We are all mirrors.  Let us choose to reflect the very best in ourselves, let us choose to see the the good in this world, and let us give back to this existence that has offered us so much.  Joy awaits!

 

Towson Town Center

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Today I was feeling pretty ambitious, so after I got back home from teaching my morning yoga class, I packed the kids up in the car and drove to the mall. On a Saturday. A mere ten days after Christmas. What was I thinking?

My mom’s birthday was January 2 and I still hadn’t found a moment in my jam-packed schedule to get her a present. We had a dinner reservation in just a few hours so it was now or never. I didn’t want to show up empty-handed to her birthday dinner with some lame excuse about how busy I am, so to the mall we went.

On our way there, my mom called and announced that she was still in pain from a back injury she sustained on New Year’s Day. In addition to her back pain, her car was still covered in snow from last Thursday’s snow storm, it needed to be cleared off before she could drive it, my dad didn’t feel like taking care of it, and she just didn’t have the energy to be out and about–so she would prefer it if we could postpone dinner to another day. Could I blame the woman? It’s winter time, which means that we should all be hibernating. Her back is hurting, so she doesn’t feel like clearing all that snow off of her car herself. No argument from me. “Well,” I said, “I guess I’ll get a hold of the restaurant and cancel our reservation.” We hung up the phone.

I felt really disappointed. This was the second time this week that we’d have to cancel mom’s birthday dinner reservation. The first cancelation happened New Year’s day when my mom threw her back out. Both times I had built up lots of anticipation around spending time with my family and being served delicious food that I didn’t have to prepare myself. Something about becoming a mom and having to prepare meal after meal after meal, day in and day out, has greatly enhanced my appreciation of food that is just served to me, food that I didn’t have to go out and procure from the grocery store, recipes that I didn’t have to select, ingredients that I didn’t have to combine, vigilance that wasn’t required from me to make the dish turn into something edible. Just sitting at a table and having food brought to me is a beautiful, relaxing, precious thing. No restaurant tonight? So. Disappointed.

I’m driving in the car turning things over in my mind. Really? My dad doesn’t want to clean the snow off the car? Well, I’m not going to see my mom tonight, so why should I bother dragging the kids to the mall and looking for a present? If I do get her a present, when will I actually be able to get it to her? Maybe I won’t go to the mall after all. This is pointless.

No, we should go. We’re already halfway there. 

When we got to the mall’s parking garage, I drove around a good while looking for just one little parking spot, and could feel my blood pressure rising with each passing second. I was growing more and more irritated and disappointed about having to call the restaurant and cancel a second time. I was pitying  myself for having to make alternate dinner plans. And people just ahead of me were getting all the good parking spaces, leaving nothing for me–ME with TWO children! I see able-bodied lads hop out of the cars they parked in the convenient parking spots that were clearly meant for me, and I begin to grumble. Goddamned post-Christmas returns. Goddamned winter weather driving everyone indoors. Goddamned everybody taking my parking spot. Goddamn.

I finally found a place to park, dialed the restaurant, and canceled the reservation. The woman who answered the phone was sympathetic about my mother’s situation and wished us well. I managed to get the second-born child into the stroller, and the firstborn’s hand held tightly in my own, and we slowly made our way into the mall, which has been synonymous with hell, for much of my life.

I generally don’t like crowds. I like to wind my way from point A to B with speed and strategy, and I find crowds to be slow-moving amoebic masses that pose a great impediment to my plan of getting things done quickly. My type A personality doesn’t handle people on cell phones not noticing that I’m trying to get somewhere with two kids, three coats, a diaper bag, a purse, two sippy cups, one stroller, and a PMS induced bad attitude. After decades of feeling inwardly anxious, impatient, and doubtful of humanity’s inherent goodness whilst doing my business in these crowded centers of commerce,  I have decided there must be a different way. Something healthier, more enjoyable. In recent years I’ve slowly learned to approach the mall as a fertile opportunity for self-reflection.

A lot of the time I’m successful in reminding myself that waiting behind a slow moving mass of people is an opportunity to step back from my normal frantic pace, to radiate good will toward my fellow human beings, to take in all of the rich sights and sounds that a palace of commercial delights can offer. But sometimes I end up feeling just really damn annoyed. When that one person steps out in front of the stroller and just stops to talk to their friend, or look at their phone, or rummage in their purse–it makes me want to scream “DON’T YOU KNOW YOU’RE NOT THE ONLY PERSON IN THE UNIVERSE?”

Ok, so mall yoga. That happened today. After we finished lunch and I got the kids moving in the direction of the jewelry store, a young dude stopped right in front of the stroller without warning, causing a mini collision. He didn’t appear to notice that I had rammed one of the stroller wheels into his left ankle.   He just sauntered off in another direction talking to his buddy, laughing and pointing at who knows what. I didn’t bother to apologize for my part in the collision.

All of a sudden, I became aware of the tension I was holding in my body. My shoulders were hunched up close to my face, and as I looked ahead of me, scanning a path through the sea of bodies, every other person in the mall had become a human obstacle. My jaw was set, and I was fuming.

Breathe now. Let your shoulders relax. Take another deep breath. Walk gently.  Acknowledge the presence within these beings around you. All of them want happiness. All of them have friends and family. All of them experience joy and pain.

I slowed down and stopped fighting. I went with the flow. I was still my vigilant, strategic self, winding myself, the stroller and the kids through the crowd, but I was no longer looking at people as if they were deliberately trying to piss me off. I just saw people, sharing this mall space with me.

I felt more relaxed as I found some pretty citrine earrings for my mom, and then a couple of birthday cards. I didn’t react to my three year old’s impulse to touch every single thing in the store; I merely reminded her to look, but don’t touch. I applauded myself for being patient with her as we went through the never ending bathroom routine . My son’s diaper was wet, and I sang to him and goofed around as I changed it. No hurry. This moment. I felt calm as I got the kids back into their coats and car seats. I only fussed a little bit at the obscene mass of traffic waiting to get out of the mall parking garage.

Out on the road, I got my dad on the phone and announced that I was coming to clean off Mom’s car.

It’s a good day. I survived the mall. Why not keep up the momentum?

Thirty minutes later, I picked up my parents’ mail from the top of the driveway, and my mom came out to meet us. I gave her two birthday cards, two earrings, and one big hug. She gave the kids some chocolate.

It took me about ten minutes to clear the snow off of the car. I watched myself feeling judgmental about my father not stepping up and just taking care of it, and then I realized that regardless, it feels really good to help, and that I don’t have this opportunity to show up for my parents so often. I asked my mom to wear her earrings the next time I saw her, if she could remember. She laughed quietly.

On the drive home, sun shining directly in my eyes and illuminating the road with a golden fire, I felt this distinct sense of completeness. My son was snoring softly in his seat, and my daughter was quiet, watching the suburban landscape fly past her window. I reflected on the inner challenges I had confronted today. To an outsider, getting the kids to the mall, having lunch, and purchasing a gift might not seem like such a big deal. Coming to the aid of one’s parents following a snowstorm is to be expected. Such simple experiences, however, when viewed through the lens of self-awareness, can be the greatest of teachers. Where situations seemed so dark, and impossible, and heavy, now they are simple, workable, and light.

If I keep this up, maybe I won’t need to walk through the mall any more. Maybe I’ll levitate.