Tag Archives: sharing

Bring Your Gifts

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What are you offering this holiday season?
What is it that you want to give, to share?

Beyond the gifts that are purchased in a store,
which of your personal gifts are you bringing to the table?

Before you rush out and get caught
in the writhing sea of maddened shoppers,
can you tune into the treasures within,
and move from this awareness?

The world does not need more jewelry
or toys or electronics–
it asks you to dig deeper
and find your peacefulness,
your patience,
your contentment,
no farther away from you than your own heart.

Whenever you meet another soul on the path
Stand in awe of your journey,
and for God’s sake,
bring your real gifts.

Heart Openings

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It was Valentine’s Day last Friday.  Saturday was the first time I went back to teaching after being ill the better part of the week.  Thinking of the recent holiday centered around all things love (and despite the holiday’s violent origins), I felt inspired to focus on heart opening in my yoga classes, incorporating awareness of the heart’s energy into our breath work and postures.

We began seated, and I asked my students to rest the back of one hand in the palm of the other, right at the heart center, creating a little cup with the hands–a mudra (hand gesture) of receptivity, a mudra of generosity.  I’m not sure of the exact name of the mudra, but after scouring Google images for some time, I came across this picture, if you’d like to have a visual of which mudra I’m talking about.  I asked my students to connect with their breathing while they held their hands at the level of the heart, to visualize they were taking the breath in and out through the heart.

Then I invited everyone to set an intention for their practice:

What is it that you want to receive (from this practice, the people around you, this world, this life)?

What is it that you want to offer (from your heart, to the people around you, to the universe)?

Breathing in, I asked them to visualize they were receiving what they wanted from the world around them.  Breathing out, they were giving what they wanted to share, radiating the energy of their heart outwardly, in all directions, without limits.

Then we released the mudra, shrugged shoulders up to ears, breathed deeply, and released the arms down.

Next we began moving with the breath.  On the inhale, we opened the arms wide, pulling the shoulder blades together on the back, looking up, lifting the heart.

On the exhale, we brought the palms together, reaching the fingertips forward, arms long, rounding the back, chin to the chest.

Opening, breathing in, take in what it is you want–let it in.

Exhaling, send out what you are willing to give, to share, to offer to this world.

We continued for a while, moving and breathing deeply, allowing the shoulders to warm up so that they might later be willing to stretch and open.

And then we moved to table top position and warmed up the spine with some rounds of cat and cow stretches.  Each time we established our movement with the breath, I asked my students to come back to what it is they want to receive, and what they want to offer, and to continue visualizing the breath entering and leaving the heart.

It is so easy to become stuck in the energy of the mind.   This is where we spend most of our time.  But it is possible to tap into wisdom beyond the knowing of the mind, to sense with the warmth, compassion, and understanding of the heart, whose capacity for giving and receiving is truly limitless.  If we are to tap into this heart wisdom, we need to remember over and over again that it is there. So keep calling your awareness back to your heart.  Breathe in and out through your heart.

We practiced a few slow rounds of sun salutation A and sun salutation B.   For the Sun B’s we held our warrior poses for longer, and incorporated more heart opening breath and movement with the arms and shoulders.

We practiced stargazer, revolved triangle, half-moon and revolved half-moon. We practiced a variation of tree incorporating a little back bend–more heart opening!

We started to wind down with a passive back bend, supported by a bolster, always returning to awareness of the heart, sending the breath in and out through the heart.

Then supported bound angle, with a bolster supporting the back parallel to the spine, so that shoulders could sink toward the floor, the chest could open, the belly could soften. I spoke to my students how the heart is considered to be the bridge between the physical world and the non-physical world.

It is important to meet the needs of this human body, to take care of it, to keep it well–but it is equally as important to remember the spirit in us that wants to be acknowledged, and nourished, and celebrated. The heart is the mediator between these two worlds, facilitating communication, that we might experience the totality of who we are, and from this wholeness, connect with others authentically–sharing warmth, compassion, kindness, and unconditional love.

And then our final pose, as we were settling into stillness, I asked my students to call into their awareness someone in need of love.  It could be a pet, a family member, friend, coworker, or just someone they knew, but I asked them to visualize this person bathed in the compassion, kindness, and warmth emanating from their heart.  To further help with creating a clear image in their minds, I invited them to imagine the heart center growing with green light.  The heart chakra is associated with the color green.

On the in breath, imagine the heart center glowing a vibrant emerald green, grass green, forest green–this light stretching and expanding.

On the out breath, imagine that the person who is in need of love is enveloped in this beautiful green light.  Maybe you say to yourself, “Well, I need a little love.” So imagine yourself being surrounded by this green light as you breathe out.  Or perhaps you want to visualize the whole planet Earth from space, and as you breath out, you imagine the entire planet is being bathed in this energy from your heart.  

This holding another being in the space of the heart, and offering the heart’s energy to them, is a very old form of meditation called metta–lovingkindness.

Traditionally you begin with offering this love to yourself, for how can you give authentically to another what you haven’t yet experienced  yourself?  I think, however, that we don’t have to wait to have a perfect feeling of self-love before we can offer this heart energy to others.  I’m still very much working on cultivating a genuine self-love and self-compassion that heals the hurts of the past and gives me lightness in this moment.  I’m such a perfectionist that if I waited and waited to find self-love before I offered it to another, my self-love would never be good enough and therefore I would never offer up what love I have found.  So I love now, with what I have…and I keep working at it.

And this is why we call it a practice.  Just to show up, to cultivate a little more awareness, a little more strength in this moment, gives us the momentum to keep moving forward on this spiraling path to awakening.

May your hearts be open, full of love and courage. May you know your worthiness to receive your heart’s desire, and may you trust in the beauty of what you have to offer, and to give it fearlessly to this world that waits for your gifts!

Namaste, my friends.

 

 

Therapeutic Sharing

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I saw my therapist today. It’s something I do every week, unless it’s Christmas, Thanksgiving, or his three week summer vacation. I mentioned before that my decision to see a therapist regularly is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my entire life. I’m grateful for the safe space therapy provides, so that I may explore my life in a non-judgmental way, to be curious, to laugh about my neuroses, to hear feedback from someone who has been doing this for decades. I really look forward to therapy; it’s time to be myself, to not have to take care of anyone else. It’s a breathing space. It’s a time to rest. Even if I’m feeling emotionally charged and I begin to cry, there is still something so restful about just sitting there, sharing what’s on my mind, and being heard.

Today I brought up my blog and the direction I decided to take with the Twelve Steps. I heard myself saying, “I won’t have a sponsor, and I won’t attend group meetings, but I’ll work through these steps.” And then I thought, Well, why shouldn’t I attend meetings? Why shouldn’t I have a sponsor? 

Am I afraid of going through with it all the way? I have been telling myself that my Twelve Step work isn’t the same as the person who is recovering from alcohol addiction, or the one who is trying to stop sticking themselves with needles. My work isn’t the same as someone who is addicted to sex or binge eating or…is that true?

My therapist said, We all have our addictions.

I found out recently that people do in fact attend Twelve Step meetings for dealing with anger, which kind of blew me away, because I always thought the Twelve Steps mainly revolved around people recovering from substance abuse, and then perhaps sexual addictions, and addictions to food.  But anger?   My therapist related to me an anecdote of a guy who described his fits of rage as mood altering, like any drug–and I was struck by the truth of it. When I get to the point where I’m feeling put upon over and over and over again, and that feeling accumulates and then resentment consumes me and I explode… just after that explosion, I’m not feeling put upon any more. I’m feeling really charged up, really on fire, full of energy, but I’m not feeling put upon. After I explode, my mood has been altered, like it would be altered on alcohol or pot or a whole bar of chocolate. Okay, maybe not in the exact same way as alcohol or pot or chocolate, but it has been changed in some way.

So today I’m thinking I might try to find a Twelve Step group near me. I don’t know if I will find one that deals specifically with anger, but maybe I’ll find a welcoming space where people are working through their own addictions and I’ll be able join with my energy and intentions. I’m starting to see that being a part of a group is a big deal in this whole Twelve Step process. I thought that I would sort of just tra-la-la through a year of the Twelve Steps in my own mind, on this blog, with anyone in cyber space who wanted to comment–but having real person to person contact, hearing other people’s stories, and experiencing the collective energy of people who are doing this tried and true work together–I suspect that I might experience greater transformation this way.

I haven’t addressed my readers before, because I thought this was going to be a project just for myself (and I kind of assumed that no one would be reading anyway)…but as time goes on, I get surprised by people liking, commenting, and even following this blog. Which means I have a few readers out there, which means a whole lot to me. So I guess I’m going to address you now. Have any of you been to Twelve Step groups before? Have any of you worked through all of the Twelve Steps? What is the greatest benefit of attending regular group meetings?

My therapist said that my idea to work through the Twelve Steps made a lot of sense. It came out of left field one day, which makes me think that something greater than my every day behaviors was calling to me to give this a try. And I’m listening now. Now, who wants to share?