Mantra Monday: “I Allow Myself to be Loved.”

The chakras continue to become more tangible and meaningful as life unfolds. As I focus on the heart chakra and deepening meaningful connections with others, I am also reminded of what throws the heart chakra off balance most: GRIEF.

It’s hard to make to adulthood without experiencing some form of grief or loss. This can of course be the physical loss of a loved one, but it does not always have to be defined simply in terms of someone we love passing away. It can be the loss of a relationship, friendship or dream. Loss and the subsequent grief are apart of the human journey.

The heart chakra that has not recovered or grown calloused from these experiences can present itself as untrustworthy of others, closed off or too clingy. It can be difficult, but it is so important to let others support us in those moments of grief and continue to open our hearts up to new relationships, concepts and wonder. After a loss, it can be tempting to close ourselves down and not allow hurt to enter into our hearts again. But, we also close ourselves off to new beginnings, connections and experiences.

I was so very fortunate to have a strong support system after losing my father to a homicide. His death was sudden and unexpected. There was nothing in place for a funeral and I had to figure out a whole mess of things, quickly. But, I did not have to do it alone. I had family and close friends that rallied around me for support. I had people step up and take care of things without being asked. I had friends, co-workers and people I had not even been in contact with recently, send support, love and even money to help me bury my dad.

I will never ever forget that.

I lost my dad in an awful manner and I could have easily fell down a hole of hate and anger. But, humanity did not let me. They made it impossible to focus on the ugliness because they kept showing up with beauty.

Ed lost his dad this past week. He is now facing his own journey of grief and loss and I just hope I can show him the love and support he deserves. I took this picture at the coffee shop we met up at a few days after his dad passed, to start planning his funeral. We sat and cried. We talked about my dad. We talked about his dad. We allowed one another to grieve and be supported.

I think it was no accident that I ordered a matcha latte and the barista served it with a heart swirl. Green is the color associated with the heart chakra and this picture will now serve as a reminder to always love and allow myself to love.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

Heart In A Bun Friday: A Vocabulary for Love

Carrie:   Aside from the space issue… why’d you move to New York?
Louise:    …to fall in love.

As I continue forward along the path of my spiritual journey, I’m encountering new and exciting things about myself for which I had no vocabulary.  I’ve often heard the quote, “speak with your heart and not your mind.”  There are many variations to the quote but the one I just used pretty much sums up what I’m finding as I open myself up to the next stage.

When I learned the definition for ego I usually associated it with pretty rich people; I never imagined I had one.  Then when I went to college and learned the clinical definition for it – again – I didn’t associate myself with it.  But after I received my degrees and started to make a living for myself, I look back and realize my ego had been ruling much of my life.

This whole time I’ve been thinking with my head and not allowing my heart time to breath.  Here’s what I imagine the center of my chest must look like:

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As I put all my worldly achievements behind me and allow the next part of my life to spiritually unfold, I’d like to take on the task of thawing out my heart center. I’ll definitely need to tie my hair in a loosely fitted bun for this one.

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So that one day all parts of my heart will beat warmly throughout.

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Happy Valentine’s Day to all our sisters!

Field Trip: Lecture on Compassion

Field Trip is a new monthly blog post Angelina and I have created as we venture out from our normal Christian roots to a more diverse understanding of the Divine.  We have many trips planned for the future which include visits to other faiths, beliefs and cultures. As we move forward into the unknown, we plan on sharing the information and experiences here with all of our sisters.

Ang & Ed

A few weeks ago, we went to a lecture on compassion, given by Lama Jigme Gyatso at Viva La Vegan.

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Much of the lecture was geared towards extending compassion to our diets and adapting a plant-based, animal free diet. I have been a vegan for over two years now and a vegetarian for over eight years. I feel that I have done a decent job in making the connection between human compassion, empathy and suffering of that with my animal friends.

However,  I can personally still work on the compassion I extend out into the universe

Shortly before this school year started, I had a great conversation at my book club, about how it is that we lead….I thought about that question for almost a week afterwards, how do I lead? I have been blessed to be in a leadership position in my career, and even more privileged to be in the position where I am leading the future generation through working with high schoolers, but how is  it that I am leading them?

When I really gave it some thought, I realized that what attracted me to my career was the opportunity to help others. However, through the course of my career, I have sometimes lost this and lead through the need to be productive, efficient, responsible and useful. Often times, my focus was more on the quantity of my work and not quality. And while I most definitely still want to put out a productive amount of work, letting that alone be my motivation would leave me drained and unhappy, and potentially not giving the best of myself to my students (one of my greatest fears).

I set the intention this school year, to lead through compassion and love. I have been intending to still be efficient in my work, but let compassion, kindness and love always be the motivation behind my intentions. I have tried to reframe situations that I may not exactly like, to be done with love and be completely present with what I am doing, and the reason I am doing it.

Attempting to live compassionately has helped me find more joy in more work and hopefully, that transcends into what is best for my students.

In love & sisterhood,

~Ang

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I was really excited when Angelina and I decided that our first field trip would be a lecture from Lama Jigme .  His message on compassion and suffering had a similar theme which I’ve often heard in Catholic circles but never fully quite understood.  In the Catholic tradition, suffering is viewed as necessary to expiate sin and immorality; it is also viewed as a means to win souls for God.  If a person offers their daily cross to the Lord, many souls are released from purgatory.

Lama Jigme’s message on the other hand explored true compassion.  He viewed suffering as part of the human experience. For example, if I were to lose a close relative in a car accident, I would unite my pain with the rest of the world and suffer along with those who are experiencing the same tragedy.  In this way I’m not excluding myself from my brothers and sisters but instead I’m becoming part of the one body.

I started to practice his message the very next day.  My regular morning routine is to wake up at 4:30 and hit the shower; right before I get in, as I wait for the water to heat up, I sit on the toilet seat with my head buried in my hands thinking – “how am I ever going to make it past the first hour of work?!”  At that moment, I decided to unite my pain with the rest of the human family as they readied for work.  I felt a bit of the sting start to wear off as my thoughts surrendered the lonely feeling; I was no longer alone in my pain but united with my fellow brothers and sisters who hate getting out of bed as much as I do.

It’s not a life altering example by any means, but it gave me a jumping off point for the future.

Thank you Lama Jigme for helping me see that I am not separate from the human family.

Love,
Ed