Mantra Monday-“I Find Peace Amongst Discomfort.”

I wanted to share another of my favorite yoga poses today, it is Chair Pose (Utkatasana).

"I Find Peace Amongst Discomfort."

I find that I am one of the few people that loves this pose. Whenever I cue this pose in my yoga classes, I get some dirty looks or groans. I start to get the side eye if I hold my students there too long and I get confused looks when I start to talk about how much I love it

It was not always this way, so I can understand their frustration and confusion. This pose can be uncomfortable and difficult. You sink your hips back as though you were sitting into a chair. You squeeze your thighs together, but keep your knees hip distance apart. You lift your arms up, but keep your shoulders plugged back into their sockets. There is so much lifting, lowering, balance and muscle engagement occurring and yet, you are supposed to remember to breathe and stay calm.

My natural instinct was to panic in this pose and wonder when it would be over. I felt anything except calm. My thighs, glutes and quads were firing up and sweat would pour into my eye. I did not feel at peace in this pose.

However, I begin to approach this pose differently and try to learn from it. I tried to find quiet in my mind, when all it wanted to do was get dramatic. I used my breath to find steadiness and begin to just be OK with the discomfort.

This pose truly taught me how to be OK, even when amongst discomfort. It is easy for me to find inner peace and relaxation while I am getting a massage, while I am reading in bed or drinking my morning tea. However, my true struggle is finding that same quiet mind, when I am in less relaxing situations; in traffic, in conflict, in new situations.

This week I am starting a new job. I do not know anyone yet and I have so much to learn. Although I am extremely excited, I am also nervous. It will be a completely unfamiliar situation, where I do not know what to completely expect. This certainly brings up discomfort, but I will work to find the peace amongst it.

How do you find peace amongst discomfort?

Indie Pendee La La Movie Friday: Samsara

This Friday’s Indie Pendee La La movie embodies the whole reason why I decided to include the words La La in my weekly post.

Let me start off with the title first – Samsara – which means: the cycle of death and rebirth to which life in the material world is bound.

Deep.

My interpretation of the movie is that it’s a visual representation of life from birth to death and everything in between.  It takes the viewer on a journey of over twenty – five countries around the world and gives us a glimpse of God’s human creation.

Spiritually, it reminds me of how small I am in the grand scheme of life.  It also helps me to visualize who God is – all of us.  His creation doing what it does best – being human.

Here’s a super fun clip of a thousand hand Guan Yin:

…and the trailer.

Field Trip – Big Bear Yoga Festival

I have been looking forward to attending Big Bear Yoga Festival (BBYF) and was eager to share the experience with my spiritual sister. Yoga is huge part of my life. I teach once per week and try to practice on my mat several times per week. I try to practice the other branches of the yoga tree, even off my mat and my life has changed because of my daily meditations. I was eager to immerse myself in a day’s worth of the festival’s activities (the festival runs all weekend) and super excited to share this experience with Ed.

hiiiiiii BBYF is held at the YMCA campgrounds in Big Bear, nestled in the San Bernardino mountains. It is located about 45 minutes from my home, but far enough to feel removed and free from everyday responsibilities. The mountain air was fresh and the trees welcoming. It was the perfect environment for a day of yoga, heart-opening, gratitude and shifting perspectives.

The first workshop we attended was Essential Oils, Chakra Oils and Flower Essences, taught by Ashley Yau.

Ashley This was not so much about learning about essential oils as it was about how to experience and connect with flower essences. We started off by each walking in a circle surrounded by the flower essences. We listened to which one called to us, then we sprayed that essence all around our chakras and spread our aura around. We then drew a flower card and tried to connect with the essence we sprayed and the one on the card we drew. Does this sound like too much esoteric, hippy nonsense? It totally was, but I loved it and felt connection with the card I drew.

BBYF BBYFBBYF  BBYF

My card was about financial healing and describing that my financial worries were now behind me. I found this interesting since I will be starting a higher paying job next week and have been thinking about changes I would like to make in my financial life.

BBYF

After we connected with our flower essence and drew our cards, Ashley led us in a meditation to discover our inner gardens.  At the end she asked us to give a message or blessing to mother earth, which we were able to express through coloring. Again, on one level I felt this was completely ridiculous, on another, I let my skepticism go and went with it and totally found my secret garden. Ashley’s authenticity and loving kindness are remarkably inviting and her innocence is contagious, she gives you permission to reconnect with a child-like curiosity and wonder.

BBYFBBYF

Next, we headed to one of the most important parts of the day: lunch! We were pretty hungry and I was oh so relieved to see the selection of food. There was plenty of options for vegans (not just an iceberg lettuce salad). I piled my salad plate high with fresh veggies and filled up on vegetarian baked beans, a vegan hot dog and gluten-free crackers with hummus.

BBYF lunch After lunch we headed off to Finding Inspiration in Nature: Creating a Vision Board Workshop. We took our time being creative and thinking about our goals, desires and visions. My vision board seemed to be filled with images depicting self-care, nurturing, good health, food and movement.

vision boardsvision boards

We finished our vision boards early and we walked around the Vendor Village. I had a reading with Life Path Healer Marie Feuer and an iridology session. Both of these were revealing and eye opening. I have only begin to process the information and hope to share more about them both when I work through some of the issues brought up. I definitely have some work to do in the realms of forgiveness, emotional honesty, cleaning up my diet and overall health.

BBYF BBYF

Next up, we did a 90 minute yoga class, Juicy Yoga Movements with Elka Haeckel. This was a beautiful, feminine and definitely, juicy practice. It was extra special to practice right next to my spiritual sister. Ed has come to my yoga class before, but we had never done yoga together. It’s always extra special to share these heart-opening and vulnerable experiences with someone you trust.

BBYF sisters

After class, we were ready to eat and luckily a delicious dinner was served. I piled my plate up high with brown rice, lentils, curried vegetables, hummus, naan, salad and THE most amazing mini-samosas.

dinner We decided to end off our evening with Sunset Singing Bowl Bliss led by Julie Johnston. We started off with a beautiful chanting of one of my favorite mantras for compassion. 108 times through, we chanted Om Mani Padme Hum then Julie led us through a forgiveness session through the singing bliss bowls.

With all the heart-opening, processing and vulnerability, I was in a great place to begin meditating on forgiving. I realized I had more work to do in this area than I realized and I think I spent most of the bliss bowl session crying. However, these were healing tears and I felt pretty amazing afterwards.

singing bowls singing bliss bowls

Ed & I headed home after the bliss bowl meditation. We talked about our experiences the whole way home and listened to N.W.A to balance out the inner garden meditation. We are spiritual sisters who make vision boards, but we still keep it hood.

In love & sisterhood,

~Ang

As long as I’ve known Angelina, she’s always practiced yoga.  Although I’ve been to a couple of classes, I’m not as consistent as she is.  So for my birthday, she gifted me an entrance ticket to the festival and I had the time of my life!

It started out a bit rocky due to my lack of time management.  I’m still getting use to my work schedule so when Saturday morning came, all I could think of was sleeping in.  Even though we had planned the previous day, I was still in sleep mode.

The trip started a bit hazardous:

GPS led us to the wrong route. But it always leads to lots of laughter afterward.

GPS led us to the wrong route, but it always leads to a lot of laughter afterward.

Once we found the right road, we were well on our way:

A well manicured dirt road.

A well manicured dirt road.

Although we arrived an hour late, we definitely got our monies worth going from one event to another.  My favorite part?  The colorful vibrational bowls.

IMG_1832 IMG_1833 IMG_1834Some of it was a bit hippy-ish, but the positive energy among the people made the day even more special.

Peace,

Ed

Mantra Monday-“I Am Grounded” Legs Up the Wall Pose

I wanted to share my absolute favorite yoga pose for today’s Mantra Monday. My favorite yoga pose is Legs Up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani). The mantra I frequently pair with this pose is “I Am Grounded.”

Mantra

While being grounded may have been a negative thing at one point in my life, it is something I find I need more and more as an adult. I interpret being “grounded” to mean being connected to my true self and source. I find I lose this connection in my life when I am getting too caught up in the little things (traffic, missing a yoga class, messing up my calorie count, not getting a text back, overanalyzing something someone said or something I did and on and on). My own head is too much for me sometimes and pair that with life’s busyness (unexpected work stress, my son’s increasing homework load, my husband’s tennis coaching responsibilities, trying to walk my crazy dogs by myself) and a true recipe for a migraine+ back + neck pain (which is where my stress manifests) is born. Add in some menstrual cramps and I was a full-blown mess by Wednesday of this week.

After a few overly-sensitive moments, I realized I needed to get in those pose quick and ground myself back down. I needed some quiet in my mind and body and re-connection to what was truly important.

This is a wonderful pose to help with lower back pain. It really helps relieve my headaches and something about reversing the flow of blood is incredibly calming. Somehow, this pose forces me to shut up. It instantly quiets my mind and gives me the space and permission I need to just be quiet and re-connect back to the earth, myself and my own heart.

For added self-care, I rub lavender oil on my forehead, put my eye pillow over my eyes, turn on my salt rock and sink in to the earth, myself and quiet.

Have you ever tried this pose? Please let me know if it helps you!

Indie Pendee La La Movie Friday: Dior and I

After women, flowers are the most lovely thing God has given the world. ~ Christian Dior

On Wednesday’s post, I wrote about Liz Gilbert’s podcast and new upcoming book on creativity.  Personally, the subject of creativity keeps popping up in random places which I take as the universe’s way of letting me know it’s time to stop and reflect.  This week as I travel to and from work, I’ve been listening to Neale Donald Walsch’s audio book Conversations With God and it emphasizes our co-creative partnership with the divine.  Everything we do and believe is created by us – we are the ultimate creators of our own reality.

So keeping in line with the great responsibility we’ve been given, I chose Dior and I as my independent movie of the week.  First of all I’d like to say: I HEART THE FASHION WORLD; it’s beautiful, worldly, eccentric, over the top, bitchy but most of all FUN!

And if Lucy and Ethel “scooped the fashion world” – I have to scoop the fashion world.

Lucy and Ethel 2 Lucy and EthelIn Dior and I, Raf Simons has been given eight weeks to create a new collection of women’s clothing that align themselves with the Dior tradition.   It’s a fun little movie that I rented on iTunes over the weekend while locked up in my room as I starved away the flu . There isn’t much else to say about it except that it reminded me of an extended episode of Project Runway.  The clothes are beautiful and the gays are bitchy!

Here are some of the clothes from the documentary:

Dior and I 4 Dior and I 5 dior and I Dior and I2 Dior and I3

…and I’m loving the zombie model at the beginning of the trailer.  Byyyyyyyye!

Elizabeth Gilbert & the Power of Goodbye

As somebody who, in my second marriage, insisted on a prenuptial agreement, I can also testify that sometimes it is an act of love to chart the exit strategy before you enter the union, in order to make sure that not only you, but your partner as well, knows that there will be no World War III should hearts and minds, for any sad reason, change ~ Elizabeth Gilbert

Currently, Angelina and I are on a Liz Gilbert obsession fest.  We’ve been listening to her new Podcast through iTunes and we’re eagerly anticipating her new book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear.  We’ll also be blogging about our field trip to her book signing in either Pasadena or San Diego.  Ever since she wrote Eat, Pray, Love and Committed I’ve read and listened to everything she has to say.

Just recently I found out she’s going to follow up Eat, Pray, Love with a book entitled: Eat, Pray, Love Made Me Do it.  It’s a chance for fans of the book to write about their own Eat, Pray, Love experiences.

Angelina and I often find ourselves on the same spiritual frequency and we end up texting each other about things we are experiencing at the same time.  It was an early Saturday morning when I found out about the contest and decided to write about my own experience.  Once I finished the first draft  Angelina text me about the contest.  When a connection like that happens, I take it as a sign that I am where I’m supposed to be that particular moment.

Here’s my entry for the contest:

In September of 2000, at the age of twenty – eight, I made a decision to enter into a life long commitment.  After many years of discernment, courtship and love I entered a Roman Catholic seminary to pursue the priesthood.  My idealized version of a marriage to chastity, poverty and celibacy was soon replaced after I met a man who would help me understand why I wanted to escape in the first place.    

At the start of my second year I met Richard, a new seminarian who was handsome and shared the same interests as me.  One of those interests being a love and devotion for their overbearing Hispanic mothers who would love nothing more than to say they have a priest for a son.  That year, in the safety of a religious institution, Richard and I both discovered the one thing that we were trying to escape  – homosexuality.      

Before the second year ended I already knew the priesthood wasn’t in my future; I left the idealized version of myself behind and decided to pursue my education and live as an out and proud gay man.  The early part of my thirties was spent catching up with lost time by hitting the night club scene, dating as many men as possible all while working on my undergrad as well as graduate degree.  By October 2007, I had finished my first credential; I was well on my way in creating an intellectual and stimulating career – until I met Joe.

Joe was supposed to be the icing on the cake; the last piece to a perfect puzzle, but instead, he turned out to be the end of the second idealized version I had created of myself. 

What I didn’t know at the time was that I had spent so many years searching for an identity that I never cultivated who I truly was and what I really wanted.  I kept my ability to love hidden for so long that by the time I was ready to give it, I had no understanding of how to do it.  My ability to love was so raw, unshaped and so unmanageable it manifested itself as obsessive, compulsive and was too great to contain.  It was so great that I was too much for Joe to handle which ultimately scared him away.

By the end of 2007, I was on a career high but my heart was shattered into a million pieces. 

All of these events happened right around the time Eat, Pray, Love was published.  I was such an internal mess I quickly became a frequent visitor of the self – help isle of every bookstore.  I had been hearing a lot about A New Earth and decided to read it.  But it wasn’t until I read Eat, Pray, Love that I decided to take action. 

In 2008, my parents had retired, moved to Arizona and needed to rent out the 800 square foot house they owned in California.  It was the place of my birth and happened to be vacant while I was reading the book.  I decided to turn it into my own private sanctuary where I would visit the foreign places of my soul.  Instead of Italy, Bali and India, I would visit my past, my heart and God.

There were several rules I had for myself the year I rented out my parent’s home: no T.V, no bringing work home and no wild parties.  Instead, I’d come home, light many candles, burn incense, journal and pray.  It was a ritual I practiced for one year straight.  In this time I learned the art of meditation and reestablished my relationship with God based on my own experiences with life.  In my journal entries I deconstructed and healed the relationship I had with my parents; allowed myself to express the deep feelings and longing I had for Joe and made peace with God and homosexuality.

After reading Liz Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love I was inspired to give myself time to heal.  I connected with her when she wrote the lines: “I dated so many guys when I was young, I never gave myself the opportunity to find out who I was or what I wanted.”

I’ve been on a spiritual journey to find the truth about myself and life; one thing I’ve learned is that the more I search, the more I evolve. 

Peace,

Ed

 

 

 

Mantra Monday: “Why Not Me?”

For years, I suffered from “Why Me?” syndrome. I guess I thought I should be exempt from life’s tests and trails and would dramatically wonder what I had done to deserve any pain, heartache or stress.

I begin letting go of this attitude more and more as I entered adulthood, but it was truly put to the test after my dad was shot and killed in 2012. Losing my dad to a homicide was completely senseless, unfair and maddening. The more I thought about it, the more angry I became and I felt myself stuck in anger following his death and unable to move forward in my grief in healing.

The old “Why Me?” thoughts begin to creep back in. Why did this have to happen to me and my family? What had we done to deserve this? What good could possibly come of this? I wallowed in this place of questioning for a few weeks, when finally one day in my meditation, the mantra “Why Not Me?” begin to repeat itself in my soul.

why not me?

Whenever I got stuck in the unhealthy thought patterns, “Why Not Me?” would pull me out. I begin to realize I was no one special to be above suffering. It helped me remind myself that everything is not fair or just and sometimes the lessons we are meant to learn are not immediately evident.  This mantra helped me move through anger and make peace with the situation that life had laid before me. I no longer question why it happened and I have made peace with what my new reality is.

I have also had to use “Why Not Me?” when good things happen. I have recently realized that not only did I not truly believe that I deserve the bad, but also the good. I noticed I am uncomfortable when good fortune comes may way and feel undeserving. In the last few weeks, I have interviewed, and been offered a job at a school district I was eager to get into. When I received the call, I immediately thought “there must be some mistake.” “Why would they choose me?” When I hung up the phone and told my husband, he was excited and asked why I wasn’t happy. It took me awhile for the news to sink and for me to realize and accept that my hard work and experience had me deserving of this opportunity.

“Why Not Me?” has helped me in both positive and negative situations. I hope it can help you at some point this week.