Category Archives: YOGA

Navigating Joy & Sorrow in the Labyrinth

maninmaze

Last night I had a gold thread dream. It’s this lucid dream that sometimes happens with me. I let it. I’m aware, yet the gold thread keeps creating a scene for me. I am not in control and I can ask questions as it keeps moving, sending me a message. Bare with me. I’m not on drugs or was drunk! 🙂  So, this enormous maze or labyrinth was being formed. As it was being formed, it was like I was in it.  Then we rose high above it, reminding me of the labyrinths I saw in Peru, except this one was much larger. I could see the formation that was intricate. I could also see a bus or large image enter it. This image just kept moving and trying to navigate its way through. We were watching, like spirit guides, hoping for the best.

The night before I had dreamed of a friend who just stopped, he decided to check out. Literally, a cash register drawer opened and closed shut as he faded away. He was going to talk with me, then walked away, like walking away from life. I woke up at 4 a.m. frightened for him.

In the labyrinth dream last night, I realized that this symbol was for all of us. It is the quintessential image for life. How we all must navigate our way through dark times to the light and how these times will continue to fluctuate. It’s our ability to keep going, to keep taking baby steps forward—even when we are lost or alone or without any encouragement or faith—that matters in the end. Who musters up the courage to keep going? Who asks for help or reaches out? Who sinks into despair or hides under a mask of false pretenses in fear of letting others know they are struggling too, until their ‘hidden’ struggles manifests in addiction or illness or some other outlet to fill the gaping hole? I know, I’ve been there.

As the gold thread dream started to move, I began to wonder if the person, or persons, in the maze or intricate labyrinth would get stuck? Like Harry Potter’s maze, once inside the high dark hedgerows, without the perspective above to see how it would end, would the person just sink in despair? Taking baby steps forward with blind faith and no real indication that I’m on the right path, is hard for me. Mostly on weekends, after a long work week and without breaks from kiddos, I can sink a bit. Even with the tools that I’ve found, such as mediation and yoga, just the months on with the kiddos and long work demands can leave me drained and a bit blue. Loneliness can sink in on weekends too, even when I’m enjoying hanging with the kids. I admit that I miss the husband best friend thing, of hanging out after the boys go to bed. I don’t miss the ex, just the feeling of having that best friend to chat with. But if I focus on what I don’t have, I tend to lose grip of what I DO have. And I know that. That’s when I have to be ever mindful to just rise out of my little maze of looping thoughts to garner perspective. To realize that my situation won’t last forever. That I’ll find the me-time again, that I’ll find the time to finish my book, that I’m just in a hectic full-time solo parenting and working period in my life with little time for a social life. But it won’t last forever. And I do have beautiful yogis and friends at work who I adore. I am lucky that where I work and what I do is so enjoyable and fills me with purpose. So I mentally need to take a break through 10 to 15 minutes of mediation daily in order to rise up above the dark corridors of my daily looping thoughts or dark lonely moments, to garner perspective.

harrys-maze

Once I have perspective, I can then re-engage and start taking those baby-steps to navigate my way through those pathways again. The lucid dream, like the native indian myth of the hopi man in the maze, was a reminder to me that life is meant to be a challenge. All lives have turbulence. Most people experience sorrow, loss, disappointment, frustrations, and sometimes senseless violence. It’s hard to just keep going in dark times. Isn’t it easier to just sink and say ‘I give up,” get cynical and start thinking ‘what’s the point?’ or ‘why bother?’ But that’s exactly what I have to fight against and picture a positive end result, like a professional athlete visualizes the win. Maybe my end result is just big picture items, like more joy, more love, more time to write, more time to travel…so I just keep going, visualizing that they all start flowing in and getting on my path. And when I’m back in that faithful zone, synchronicity begins: I meet that new friend who is on the same path as me, or that creative opportunity opens up, or that person who supports my vision gives me support that lifts my mood for weeks. It happens and is happening. I remind myself of these amazing synchronicities when I feel blue.

Keep the faith people. (I say this to myself too.) And to my friend, you know who you are, what did Khalil Gibran say? “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” I’m here for you.

L. x

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Today

(Dedicated to my friends on the verge of divorce.)

What if, just for today, I loved you for exactly who you are?

What if, just for today, I decided that my joy was my own to create, and not connected to you at all. Today, my joy does not depend on your mood, your smile, your behavior, or you doing the dishes, or any other chore for me. Just for today, my joy, my bliss, is independent of you.

What if, just for today, I decided my job wasn’t to fix you, control you, or try to get you to be more like me.

What if, just for today, I asked for help, but without any conditions or any criticism.

What if, just for today, I decided to give myself to you, with such reckless abandon, that it leaves you breathless and without a clue as to what you did to deserve it.

What if, just for today, I decided that you didn’t need to ‘do’ anything, or ‘be’ a certain way, to deserve some reckless, playful love.

What if, just for today, I remember what drew me to you, what I adore about you, and I tell you what I still see, what I still respect, and what still drives me crazy about you.

What if, just for today, I don’t interrupt you, correct you, or keep record of any past wrongs.

What if, just for today, I let myself be vulnerable and raw? Instead of getting mad, shutting down, turning away or stomping off, I will pause, breathe and say: “I need you. Hold me. I’m sorry. I love you.”

Today, I will not fight with you.

Today, I will focus on being a better me and let you figure out your own journey.

Today, I will respect you enough to make your own choices.

Today, I will love you without worrying about tomorrow, or what ifs.

Today I will breathe deeply and be present.

Today I will be patient.

Today I will listen to my heart and quiet my mind so that I do not feel the need to ‘do’ anything, or react, or panic.

Today I will be grateful for you, for this journey, and for all that we have created: the good, the bad, the frustrating, the joyful, because it is teaching me something valuable.

Today I will try to realize that I chose you, I chose this journey, this lesson, this experience so that I can grow. You loved me so much that you let us have this, have all of this.

Today, I will hug you because no matter what, we are blessed.

X & O

Breaking Through Resistance

machureversenamaste

Resistance is a “Force of Nature”, a Universal Law, like gravity, according to author Steven Pressfield. In his book, The War of Art, he explains how resistance appears to everyone through fear, procrastination, distraction, anxiety, thoughts of not being worthy or good enough, etc. Steven writes that we all have our own unique creative genius, but this force called resistance often keeps us from expressing it. It’s the force that keeps us from changing careers, running a marathon, writing our novel, starting a business, even falling in love.

Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday replayed her 2013 interview with Steven this week, as his 15th novel, The Knowledge, hits book stores. Clearly, Steven is not slowing down or  giving in to resistance. Here is what he has learned in the 40+ years of tackling this force:

Resistance is strongest as we approach the precipice of our dreams, or are on the verge of growing spiritually closer to the highest version of ourselves. Watch this amazing short video clip as Steven describes “The Six Things We Resist Most in Life.”  

If this clip doesn’t launch, here is the quick list of where resistance hits most:

  1. The launching of any entrepreneurial venture (profit or nonprofit).
  2. Any diet or health regime, especially an activity to tighten abdominals.
  3. Any program of spiritual advancement.
  4. Any program to overcome an unwholesome habit or addiction.
  5. Education of any kind, even in the endeavor to help others.
  6.  Any act that entails commitment of the heart, such as the decision to get married, to have a child, to weather a rocky patch in a relationship. ANY movement away from petty EGO-based viewpoint to something more noble, “to be generous, to be kind, to be open to love,” according to Steven, attracts much resistance.

To me, resistance is very much like the law of hiking long distances. If you’ve ever hiked for days with only a compass and a topo map, you know this law. The hike will be at its most treacherous point: raining, fog, encounters with wild animals, etc. a few moments before you find your way, or make the clearing that lights your path. That’s Resistance to me. And it requires that we just keep going. We just keep doing what we are meant to do to grow, to evolve spiritually, to embody love, to create art, to fulfill a goal; any goal.

Those dreams that are the dearest to us ignite the loudest resistance due to this Universal Law. The good news is that since resistance is a force of nature, that means the voices in our heads saying we are not enough: ARE NOT US. They do not represent our souls, our highest selves. Resistance is an outside force must be pushed through, faced, in order to rise to a higher level of being, a higher level of consciousness, to LIVE our Purpose. To face resistance, we just simply have to “put our ass where our hearts want to be,” as Steven puts it, meaning, just do it. If you want to write, write. If you want to love someone, push aside your EGO and just love him or her. If you want to start a company, keep taking baby steps and start it. If you don’t know what you want to do, just meditate and start dreaming and exploring what you like in life without judgement. 

When I heard Steven Pressfield’s Super Soul Sunday interview, SO many bells went off.

Steven, who has written 15 books, as well as screenplays, said he, too, felt resistance his whole life. It took him nearly 20 years before he began earning any money from his writing. It took many years before he allowed his writing to be his vocation rather than his avocation—meaning before he just started writing every damn day. It required a shift in thinking. A push through resistance. He had to mentally embrace that he was a professional writer and each morning just go to his desk and sit his ass where his heart wanted to be. Once he started writing, all fear vanished as he entered the Universal flow of being exactly where he was supposed to be to create art, to be a conduit of something greater than himself. If you’ve ever lost yourself in creating something, you know what that feels like. Time floats by. You are so in the zone. You forget yourself, your troubles, time, and you focus on being a conduit of creation. It’s a dreamy state to be in.

I could so relate. Listening to this interview last night, I realized that I had major resistance to push through. I hadn’t written a word in my next novel since May. In early May I had flown my mother-in-law in town to watch the boys and I spent a week away writing every day. I had accomplished so much. Then my mom died. I returned on my birthday at the end of May, with summer approaching, I allowed myself to focus on my boys; their activities, and earning as much money as I could via journalism articles and teaching yoga. But at the end of the day, it was resistance in the form of distraction, fear, the need to be the perfect mom, the need to prove that I can take care of myself financially, the need to not feel, as I was filled with grief that I couldn’t allow out.

“Resistance is the highest as we come closest to manifesting our purpose.” It’s so true.

Last night, in a quiet house, with the boys in London, I picked up Between Thoughts of You, my latest novel, and started writing. Soon as I was back in the zone again.

If you are encountering resistance, just do the thing you fear. Just do it, without thinking too much about it.

Steven says resistance occurs whenever we are close to evolving in any way. So we resist allowing love in. We resist committing to marriage. We resist being compassionate, kind and giving when it means a friendship will deepen into something meaningful. We pause after we commit to starting a new career. We allow ourselves to get stuck. Why? Because that means we would evolve into the person we ultimately already are. We would reflect our highest self. Resistance is a force of nature that occurs as we approach this significant step onto the path of our growth.

Just do it. Sit at the chair and write. Sit by the easel and paint. Call the girl. Show up. Keep going. Cook that souffle. Take a class. Go on the interview. What do you have to lose?

Love & Light ~

Laura xo

You are the PATH: Loving from the Inside OUT

rebelwithin

Everything you seek is within. This is what the world’s wisdom seekers say. And it’s true. But that may be hard for you to feel where you are right now. Most of us seek ‘things’ from others. We have been given messages from a very early age that imply someone will save us, complete us, rescue us. The prince on a white horse is you. The angel to save you from your reckless ways and addictions is you.

YOU are the PATH.

To some, that feels like a lonely journey. I understand. This message does not suggest that you live as a hermit meditating your days away by yourself in a remote mountain village. A journey to wholeness does not require such sacrifice. But in order to attract unconditional love, acceptance, compassion, support, forgiveness from others— you must first give it to YOURSELF. As Deepak Chopra says, “You can not receive what you do not give yourself.”

If you look to others to complete you, to fill an empty void, you ultimately become frustrated, disappointed and filled with ego-centric self loathing and victimhood. When we seek external approval, success, money, or another person who may ‘fit’ a long laundry list of what we think we want, we become lost and disconnected to what really matters in life and to our true self.

Ask a cancer patient what is important in life. Another healthy and playful moment with their child? Another hour snuggling in bed with their lover? Feeling sun on her face while sipping tea in a favorite chair with a beloved pet in her lap. Walking with a good friend out in nature. These moments are what fill us up. We connect with our highest self in these times. And we connect on a deeper level with those we love, because we are reflecting our highest selves. We are connecting in a pure, authentic, vulnerable manner.

So we must peel back the layers, the fears, the wounds that keep us from living purely and authentically. Create a loving relationship with yourself first, then you will find your PATH, find your TRIBE and begin connections on deep levels.

One reason people have a hard time keeping connections with others is due to a fear of vulnerability. We fear being judged. We fear being abandoned and hurt because we have been abandoned or hurt in the past. But the reality is that in order to truly love and be intimate with others, we must be free from the chains of fear. We must love ourselves so fiercely that no one can truly keep us from our center again. Then we know that we will always be safe whether alone or with another. From a fierce, rebel heart, we can connect on a pure level.

So how do we get there? It’s a journey. A journey through meditation, yoga, breath, writing, activity of any sort: running, dancing. For me, meditating has been remarkable. I find stillness and meditate, whether guided with DavidJi or Deepak, or on my own. I feel silence and sit with my feelings and begin to repeat over and over a silent mantra to connect with my light. My favorite is: I AM. SO HUM in Sanskrit. I repeat this over and over and like a whisper from the Universe, whatever follows I AM, I know I already am, but just need a reminder of: I AM LOVE. I AM LIGHT. I AM POWERFUL. I AM ENOUGH…I set my timer to 11 minutes. When I come out of it, I feel connected to all that is and deeply to my eternal light.

Find forgiveness for yourself. Feel what needs to be felt. You are eternal, divine and worthy of love just for being alive. You need not do anything but allow the light in.

Those who have been abused or neglected must feel the wounds to heal them. I know this from personal experience. Find a community, a tribe, a counselor, a support group and begin the journey back home to yourself.

Peace, love, non-violence, acceptance begins with you. You are the PATH. You are a REBEL. You are a Goddess. Nothing that has been done to you—nothing that you have done to cope with your past—defines you. The spark of divine light shines brightly within. Peel back the layers that cover it and shine.

The REBEL in me Bows to the REBEL in you.

~ Namaste

Laura xo

Becoming Gracefully Strong

beachballet

I dare you to find an athlete who is stronger than a a petite graceful ballet dancer. I remember working with football players when I danced and one linebacker growling at me: “This is HAAARD!” as he tried to leap. Yes, it is hard. Ballet dancers, especially, know that grace and strength come from hard work on oneself. The strongest person in the room is not always the biggest person—it is the one who can endure the most, who can continue to try to dance, even when in pain. Here are some more thoughts about strength:

Strength is never loud. It isn’t controlling. It isn’t angry. Or forceful. Or threatening. A strong person doesn’t hurt another for his own gain. Words of strength never belittle, or bully, or make fun of another. A truly strong person doesn’t boast, hold grudges, manipulate, or try to get even.

A strong person has already surrendered, accepted her situation and her role in it completely, and has forgiven her teachers—especially the cruel and harshest ones. This must happen before she can then begin the process of becoming strong. For me, it’s a process that will likely continue to unfold for the rest of my life. Today I saw a picture of myself from six years ago and it shocked me. I must have been 85 to 90 lbs, although I was trying to hide it wearing a baggy skirt and boots. Holding my nearly 2 year old in my arms, I was faking a smile. All the emotions flooded back in. I was broken hearted, tired, scared, worried, fearful. I had been taking care of two boys alone for nearly 16 months and I was with friends and trying to pretend that everything was OK. I was in a nasty divorce with an ex living abroad with his girlfriend. My mother was slipping away with Alzheimer’s. Some friends and a few in my and my ex’s family  were telling me things like I wasn’t capable and should give up. They reminded me that it was too hard; that I’d fall apart; that I would fail; that no one would want me with kids full time; that it wasn’t financially feasible to pursue a career in my field AND take care of them solo; that LA was too expensive; maybe I should take my ex back, etc. etc.  The fear and anxiety and anger and victimhood and martyrdom swirled around inside me like a raging storm. Until one day, while exhausted on the yoga mat in savasana (meditation), it all finally stopped. I could hear a little whisper that said “ENOUGH.”

This rock bottom place allowed me to sit still, acknowledge the people-pleasing storm I had allowed myself to create, and to realize that it was time to walk away from the drama. As the fog lifted, I began to listen more to that inner voice and to take baby steps into finding my strength and my core vision. If you are finding yourself knocked down by a sudden turn in life or are just unsure of your path, these steps may help. I’m sharing them with the humble intention that I may be of service. Steps to Find Your Strength:

  1. Listen to you inner voice. This requires finding stillness. In the beginning, it required power yoga, running and biking with tunes. I had to exhaust my body before I could get out of my head, lay in stillness and meditate. Find what works for you. A walk in the woods or on the beach alone. Lighting a candle and sitting in the dark. Taking a bath and closing your eyes while taking deep breaths. Just listen without judgement and allow whatever needs to surface, to surface. Maybe that requires journaling. But make this an alone exercise. No chatting with friends who may try to sway you.
  2. Acknowledge. Be honest and own up to your role in your situation. Do this without being too hard on yourself. But it’s important to not always be pointing fingers at others and playing the victim. What role did you play? For me, I was co-dependent and other’s happiness was more important than my own. Another’s vision for my life, was more important than my own. What role did you play in your current circumstance?
  3. Accept. Accept your life, your circumstances, your family members, your loved one, right now, for exactly what it is and who they are. Try to change nothing about circumstances or people. Do this without bitterness, without blame, without shame, without judgement. It’s hard. But just try it.
  4. Surrender. Surrender your life to a higher power. If you are not religious or spiritual just surrender to all that is. This is your way of saying, ‘I surrender to something more powerful than myself to help me, to guide me, to let me know that I am not alone.’ For me, it felt powerless at first. But once I surrendered, and asked my angels for guidance, I started to see where I did have power, over finding my own way, finding my own voice, following my heart, finding my courage. … Surender first, you’ll love what then comes.
  5. Dream. Start to dream. Make vision boards. Just go through magazine pics and cut out what you like. If you’ve been controlled for a long time,  it may be hard to even know what you like. This is fun. What designs, what colors, what music, quotes, etc. do you like? What do YOU WANT? It’s a step towards saying you are WORTHY and DESERVING. Make lists of dream jobs, without attaching to them and see if they are all in a creative field or analytical or health-oriented field. Focus solely on what you like, what you’d love to explore: Italy, Greece, India? Put those pics on your board without a thought about finances. This is dream time. Have fun. Play your favorite music while you do it.
  6. Trust. Trust the Universe, God, a Higher Power to take care of you. Say affirmations every morning in the mirror: I trust the process of my life. I trust that my life is unfolding exactly as it is meant to. I have faith that I will always be taken care of. I trust my voice, my vision, my heart. I am capable and I trust I am led and guided every day. I am safe. I am loved. I am abundant. I trust that only those people who want the highest good for me will float into my life. I trust myself. I trust the Universe. I trust, therefore I will not try to force anything, opportunity or person. Those people and opportunities meant to be in my life will float in with ease and grace.
  7. Take Baby steps. This is where I mainly live right now. (I did a cha-cha with Trust for years, ha ha! And I know I still have more dances with trust in my future!)  Just know this: Strength isn’t loud or forceful. It doesn’t require perfection either. It just builds by taking baby steps in the direction of your heart. It requires courage. So, for me, it meant writing another chapter, then another, until my novel was finished. It meant that I had to have thick skin for rejection and edits and to then send my novel out to more editors and publishers.
    It also required taking multiple yoga trainings, trusting my voice, finding confidence, and teaching class after class. Both writing and teaching yoga are equally frightening to me. But how wonderful is it that six years ago I whispered to myself that someday I’d like my career to involve my writing and teaching yoga. I love the creative and cerebral and spiritual aspects of each. One allows me to go inward and have the alone time I crave and need. The other provides the community and family and social outlet that I also need to thrive. As a single mom without much support or family or free-time, it’s critical that I take care of my health and not become a hermit by being alone too much. It’s the Yin and Yang of my existence. I love my life so much. I’m still taking baby steps. Another book to write. Yoga classes in bigger studios to tackle. Maybe a yoga retreat? Maybe more ways to explore my trust issues with loved ones…It’s never ending. Where can you take baby-steps today? Do you want to apply for a new job? Want to explore going back to school? Want to join a MeetUp group to go hiking or attend music or art shows? Take a few baby steps and see what emerges.

    With LOVE & LIGHT,

    Laura

 

 

An Old Friend Helps me Remember to Feel, Heal & Say NO

My Witness To Madness & the Definition of Love

Recently so many miracles have been occurring in my life, at the same time as a lot of drama. But the miracles are helping me flow through the drama, accept the scary or uncomfortable issues, detach from them, and to do what I can to help, or set boundaries when I need to most. It’s nothing short of amazing.

In mid-August I got re-acquainted with my former best friend in high school and college. So, my bff from when I was 16 years – 23 years or so. We hadn’t talked in more than 20 years. And it was just like old times, chatting nonstop from 9: 30 p.m. until 2 a.m. our first conversation. The next ran from 8 p.m. – nearly 4 a.m. These conversations were amazing, but also put me on edge too, as this person has a razor sharp, nearly photographic memory. I have selective memory. As a child of an alcoholic, highly functioning successful parent who see-sawed from random explosive violence—to razor-sharp focus on himself and work—I typically was not seen and ignored, or the witness to frightening episodes that I still do not clearly remember. I found letters outlining some of the most violent episodes when I was in the room as a child, and yet, I still don’t remember, but some day I likely will.

My bff remembered finding those letters with me, that were stuffed under a bed by an older sister for me to find. We read them together in college. He remembered all the times he tried to save me or rescue me over the years, too. The time in college when my roommate called him as I had stopped eating, stopped showering, stopped going to classes. He raced down from his school and slept on the floor by my bed. I barely remember that. He said a few times on the phone: “Why wouldn’t you love me? Why wouldn’t you want to be with your best friend? Let me take care of you?”

Hard to explain that to the best person I know. I didn’t love myself.

He reminded me of the time in college he drove to Georgia and realized I had no food in the apartment, and he shopped for me, held me all night, even though he always wanted more. I couldn’t let anyone touch me. Not back then. But I didn’t explain myself. Nor did I feel worthy of asking for help or of being the recipient of such constant love. We’ve talked about it all over this past month, he ‘sort of’ gets it now. He was so hurt when he begged me to move to Colorado after two of my best friends were killed my junior year (a super hard year), but I just couldn’t do it. No one had ever taken care of me. I drove myself up to college. No parents came to my graduations either. I had been alone for a very long time and because of the abuse and neglect, I didn’t feel worthy of being taken care of. He didn’t understand. I didn’t understand, so couldn’t explain it. So, I ran off to Europe at the end of my junior year. I was a good student. I got an internship with the BBC. I worked three- four jobs while in school my senior year too, the student paper, radio station and at a Japanese restaurant and as a lifeguard. All came in handy when my father forgot to pay room and board for a year while he was divorcing my mom and living with another woman. He was distracted. But, I could take care of myself. And I was trained at an early age not to make a fuss, not to complain, not to talk about my feelings, or I’d likely get screamed at or ignored— which is worse, much worse. So, I worked my ass off and paid my own way, even eating one potato a day for at least 2 months at one point because money was so tight. My bff came down for a weekend and saw that, tried to help, but I just wouldn’t let him fully in. See, his love was so unwavering. That had to be a mistake. I didn’t deserve that. If I had gained 15 pounds, he still thought I was beautiful. If I was down to 90 pounds with my hair falling out and so depressed I couldn’t get out of bed, he wanted to take care of me. If I wanted to just talk about everything but what really mattered and couldn’t let him make love to me, he listened and waited. And he waited for longer than anyone could imagine.

So, I was stubborn and wasn’t going to quit college and let someone who loved me, take care of me. Wasn’t I more comfortable being ignored and / or treated like pond scum? Wasn’t I more comfortable working my ass off and still never being enough or worthy of a phone call or a birthday card? See, abuse and neglect leave watermarks on our souls. And they are very hard to remove, even with yoga, therapy and mediation, if a person refuses to remember and just keeps going and going and saying intellectually that it’s all ok, but not feeling it. I know now that I have to feel to heal. I recall trying to confront my father and getting a three word reply: GET OVER IT.

And I thought I had. But maybe not. Maybe the watermarks of not feeling enough manifested in marrying someone who would leave me at the most vulnerable time in my life: with a baby and another child and a sick mother. Maybe it has manifested in me choosing men who are narcissistic and can never truly think I am enough: always looking for the younger or more hip model, trying to change me, or ignoring me. Maybe the Universe just kept putting people into my life to wake me up. To help me remember what I lived through so that I can so NO.

It’s taken me a long time to get that.

So, my former bff, who likely saved my life my junior year, came back into my life. Our long conversations have been healing but they sure dug up a lot of memories that I kept tucked deep down. And for a while I wasn’t sure why they needed to be resurrected. But maybe he came back solely to be a reminder to me of all that I’ve lived through and gone through and why I need to say no to all the men who will never be true to me, who will neglect me, who will think I’m not enough. And he has also reminded me, just from his example and his love, to set boundaries with those who will continue to dim my light, even if they are family members.

I’m more dedicated than ever to helping those with post-traumatic stress. I’m honored to be the editor of NEW KIND OF REBEL, an apparel company started by yogis who have experienced some sort of abuse, neglect, PTSD in war.  We will provide free yoga to veterans and domestic abuse victims, as well as give a percentage of all proceeds to charities that provide assistance to all who are victims of abuse: abusers and victims. Both are in equal pain. I’m honored to teach my therapeutic yoga classes to cancer patients whose disease is sometimes a manifestation of deep wounds. I love bowing to their inner light, that they may not truly acknowledge. Their tears in savasana, when I apply lavender oil to their foreheads, wash away my own pain. We ignite more flame into our own heart lights when we give and receive. I love what I do.

The past few weeks have been challenging, yet I know these events are setting me on my path. My father is having heart surgery and called me twice, for the first time in maybe 20 years that has ever happened. I lit him a candle. I visualized his highest self healing. I said a prayer. I sent him a text. But didn’t call back. And, an ex-boyfriend who broke my heart twice, who I’m still attracted to, got in touch, wanting to see me again. I said no. Saying no to someone who will never truly love me—whose actions are contrary to his words—is saying  yes to a better future for me. It’s allowing space for a future that is filled only with those who lift me up and accept me, rather than tear me down. From a place of support, I can continue to help others, and support my boys fully by being someone they can respect.

Sending love & light,

L. x

Wisdom about LOVE from an 105 Yr Old

We need to ask, not what we can get or what we need or when is the next break happening, but instead, to ask “what can we give?” And we also need to remember that it’s God’s plan “for us to give” so we need to listen to God, 105-year-old Edythe Kirchmaier explains in a video shot for Oprah’s SuperSoulSunday.

“God is like a voice in my heart. We need to learn that the voice is trying to lead us in the right way,” she adds, striking such a cord in my heart. When I heard her say that, I felt like I knew EXACTLY what she spoke of.

To get still and listen to the voice within is what connects me to you, and keeps me open and less judgmental and more forgiving. I love this woman so much. She reminds me of my mother a bit, who was a social worker and volunteer for as long as she was able. 105-year-old Edythe also reminds me of the four  88-year-old yogis I teach each week who all still volunteer and give back in multiple ways to their community, church, neighbors and friends. A body in motion stays in motion right? And it’s better to stay in motion like a dance with others—to lean on sometimes and to support at other times— rather than maroon on an island of isolation when life is difficult. All these wise women remind me, especially when times are hard, to find comfort in stillness and to  listen to the vulnerable wide-open heart that whispers truth and seeks hope and love in others. Then it’s so much easier to say thank you every day for all that I have, before turning my attention to help someone in need.

“Sometimes we are slow learners,” says Edythe. “I think if we could just love one another, there would be less pain, less fighting, more harmony.”

Watch this beautiful video and I dare you not to cry. 🙂

Off to teach my Wed. night class. Sending you lots Love!

Laura XO

***

 

The Science Behind Sanskara

Photo on 2015-06-04 at 10.56 #2

When one carries years of regret, shame, guilt, resentment, pain within, it leaves a watermark, an imprint, on the mind and soul, resulting in a variety of behaviors and karmic experiences. It requires a burning off of all the embedded pain in order to heal. One must remember, if possible, and feel the painful experiences in order to let them go. Writing or talking isn’t enough, that’s intellectual. It takes a burning off physically and emotionally. In Sanskrit this is called Sanskara ( संस्कार). In Hindu and Jain communities Samskara (or Sanskara as most in the West know it) is described in ancient Sanskrit texts as a rite of passage. This is our journey in every lifetime. We must learn to burn off layers of pain lodged deep within the body through movement, through breath, through meditation. And then we become love again. We are stripped down to our original pure state when we were born. We strive to become the embodiment of Universal love, as nothing more is left but that. All the veils are lifted. No more self doubt, self criticism, negative programming from childhood, scars. It’s all gone. So we are now free to let go and live love. Forgiveness, joy flow through us and ripple outward lifting others and attracting others on this journey.  And of course, we are human, so to live in love can sometimes be difficult. So Sanskara may never completely end. We burn off ancient wounds (from this lifetime and others) and as we experience more loss, we continue with this burning off process. But once we learn how to do this and have burned off the oldest, deepest wounds, it becomes easier each time to accept, surrender and let go with love.

Letting go of pain and feeling love again for yourself (the Divine within you) and everyone around you—including your ‘teachers’ whom must be forgiven and thanked for the lessons learned—is transformative.

Yogis know this.

We flow. We sweat. We find a position that stretches us to our limits, like pigeon pose that opens the hips, and then we sit in the stillness accepting what is, allowing the Universe to flow through our hearts and minds to help us get through the powerful ‘sensations’ now burning within our hips. And sometimes the fascia (connective tissue that surrounds or binds or separates muscles, organs and other soft structures of the body) releases and opens. And then a powerful emotional memory may appear in our mind and heart. We don’t just remember something. We are, for a moment, there again, feeling it all. While we lay on our mats, tears may roll down our cheeks and love fills our hearts as we comfort ourselves—our younger selves who need to let go of the loss of a loved one, or pain that someone once caused us, yet we refused to deal with. I know I stuffed many experiences, frightening memories and abuse deeply—or pretended that I had intellectually mastered a loss or a painful experience that I was too afraid, or too young, to know how to heal from.

It’s hard to explain if you haven’t experienced this. But once you do, you will not question that our bodies hold our pain, our regret, our shame, our guilt. It lodges into our connective tissues and we age faster, we spiral into injury, we form bad posture and we are more susceptible to a host of dis-eases that seems to mirror our embedded beliefs and pain and negative thinking. Yoga helps us heal and let go and find love, truth and worth for ourselves, while attracting and receiving love from others. And as we physically begin to heal, we also physically appear younger, feel more youthful, joyful, energetic, vibrant.

I’ve felt this for a few years as a yoga teacher, yet was thrilled to hear Dartmouth Medical School graduate, Christiane Northrup MD, a well-respected board-certified obstetrician and best-selling author of books such as Goddesses Never Age, confirm this.

In a recent interview with Oprah on her SuperSoul Sunday TV show, Dr. Northrup explained how scientists now measure and quantify the toil shame takes on our physical health via a hormone produced by shame that releases a toxic inflammatory chemical into our body. Aha! As Oprah would say. I knew it! Since a video of this entire interview isn’t available online, I transcribed part of it here for you:

On #SuperSoulSunday Oprah says: “Ok, this is a biggie: You say, shame can take a toil on physical well being, and that’s why SO many people age rather than just getting older because they are carrying all of this toxic stuff into-”

Dr. Northrup interjects: “OK, let me tell you what that is. Shame produces hormones of an inflammatory chemical called iL6.”

“What? They measured shame?” Oprah says, leaning forward in her chair. She continues excitedly, waving her finger in the air: “That is why when you carry all that stuff around, I’ve said this for years on all the shows I’ve ever done—that it lodges in your body and actually, physically does.”

Dr. Northrup interrupts: “This is interesting. Yes. And it (iL6) lives in the fascia of our body. The connective tissue. The fascia holds our belief system into place. So when you do yoga or when you do resistance flexibility, you are literally releasing that and getting a new life in the connective tissue of your body, which is where all the acupuncture meridians run.”

Oprah then tells a story about crying as a masseuse hits a spot that triggers a memory about an old boyfriend, She said she could feel herself re-living and letting go of the experience.

Dr. Northrup: “That’s why we have to use our bodies to be with our bodies.”

Oprah: “So that shame for not forgiving people or holding onto past grudges all of that’s in there.”

Dr. Northrup: “Oh yes. But what people need to know about forgiveness is releasing yourself from self entrapment. You gave them your self worth. You didn’t know, you were too young often. The little four-year-old girl who has been sexually abused, like hello, that’s not your problem. But the little kid thinks it’s her problem and she takes on the shame that the perpetrator should have been feeling, but didn’t. And then we hold it for them!”

Oprah: “I think little children do it for sure, but I’ve seen so many women who go through divorce and then just HOLD ON to what their marriage shoulda, coulda been. They are HOLDING ON and they are STILL mad at him. And their ex has gone on, has another wife, another family and they are holding on and they ARE STILL MAD!”

Both ladies laugh.

Oprah: “And it’s interesting because some of them actually look like they are shriveling in it. They gotta let it go.”

Dr. Northrup nods and adds: “Goddesses grieve and rage and move on. … What will keep you ageless is how you deal with loss. If you are carrying that on your back … It’s painful. But if you feel the pain, it’s the old adage, if you feel it, you can heal it. It’s not easy stuff.”

###

Nope it’s not easy. But you know what is more difficult? Living within a hard, bitter, cynical shell that won’t allow light in, won’t allow love in. So feel the burn people. Let that shit GO. 

Until we meet again.

With Love & Light ~

Laura

The Death Grip of Holding On Too Tight

woodyallen

This post is dedicated to all I have a hard time with letting go. Even those that I just mentally hang on to, maybe especially for them. 🙂

So, I find myself on this Tuesday morning in my house alone. It is quiet, except for construction workers getting ready for a day in the sun building the beach mansion across from me for a wealthy Sketcher family member. (I try not to get angry about it, but it’s blocking my view of the ocean as I live in an original surf shack, one of the few, sigh.) And then of course, I can hear the ever-present surfers slamming car doors excitedly, filled with energy, ready to run to the surf and tackle waves. I love them in a way I can’t explain. No, it’s not for the abs and sexy shoulders gals. It’s because they remind me, that every day is new. You’ll see excitement in the old guys and the young ones who can’t wait to find out just how tough or soft the waves are that morning. This spot in front of my house is never the same. It may look the same, but underneath is magic. A full moon appears and the ocean responds with so much energy you can feel the electric pull along with all those trying to ride. The sun sets, especially in winter, and it’s exploding apricot and violet and cinnamon just at its edge and I’m filled with gratitude with my neighbors who watch with me while sipping their wine. (I sit in the sand, they sit on the balconies of their mansions, but we are all the same in that moment.)

Why am I sharing this? Because lately, I’ve been away and my mind became cluttered with negative energy and fear. I’ve missed just watching these daily rituals in my hood that remind me that every day is filled with raw potential and it demands that I get in that flow and out of my house and my head. (a hard task for a writer!) This morning I find myself writing in my empty house and listening to the world outside that is asking me to join in. But I stay inside as I find myself hold on mentally to those I love. How are my boys, now away and with their dad for the first time in what, five months? How is my friend who is suffering from depression? Why hasn’t another dear friend gotten back to me? Is he ok? Is he mad at me? Am I a good enough friend? And then there is this, that I’ve been hanging on to for years…why do I still want to hear from that person who is clearly wrong for me? Sigh. These thoughts swirl in my mind. So instead of going for a run on the beach, or doing my yoga routine or the 22 pushups I’m doing every day for 22 days as a challenge, I’m sitting with my thoughts, my worries, and allowing them to just be. Today, I will embrace them. Then I’m going to let them go. (And really let them go, as I have to leave to teach some beautiful souls fighting cancer. It’s hard to not be in the present moment with those who are acutely aware that today may be their last.) But back to my lingering, looping thoughts of those I just won’t let out of my heart and mind…When it comes to my friends and those who I need to let go, I will see them in a golden light. I will see them as free and happy and I will mentally lift them up to the clouds. When it comes to my children, well that’s a bit harder.

For the longest time I thought letting go meant I was a bad mother. But in reality, I don’t own my children. I can love them and give them guidance, but then I have to let them follow their own path. I adore this passage by Kahlil Gibran:

“Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts.

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.”

 

When I hold on it takes the mental form of worrying or being filled with regret or longing or what ifs. It’s a form of fear. It’s a form of distraction, as it’s keeping me from embracing the new day, the new potential, the new chance to ride my own wave and get into a flow with the Universe.

 

Jack Kornfield, renown Buddhist author and monk  said in his article Letting Go:

“In the end we discover that to love and let go can be the same thing. Both ways do not seek to possess. Both allow us to touch each moment of this changing life and allow us to be there fully for whatever arises next.”

And I’ll add that allowing ‘whatever arises next’ is not in ANY way a form of disregarding or disrespecting the love you have for others. For a few months now I have been letting go some very dear souls and it is a loss. A deep loss. But they need to follow different paths and I want them to be happy. It’s that simple. If you love in the truest sense, you want everyone to be happy. Not happy doing what you envision. Not happy being there for you always. But happy in the way they define happy. So I love them and want them to do what makes their hearts sing, even if that is without me in their lives.

Once I start letting go, others come in. But for whatever reason, when I start to let others in, I feel a bit unfaithful to those who used to be such a big part of my life. It’s silly. It’s another form or getting in my own way and stopping the flow or current the Universe wants me to be in. This weekend I’m meeting some beautiful souls. They are even staying with me, although I don’t yet know them. They are yoga teachers from the East Coast who are dear friends with a new friend of mine I met in Peru. These guys have started a clothing line and need a place to stay as they go on photo shoots, etc. to promote it. Every time we speak or text, it’s quite funny as we are in sync. Both have to go to meditate and get more sleep after being in or teaching a class. They are definitely sweet souls and new friends with viewpoints I get and a positivity that is infectious.

My friends from my TUT trip to Peru are coming in as well this week. One of my yoga students has given us her house in Topanga—only one of my favorite places in LA or the world! How lucky am I?? I’m beyond excited to hike and practice yoga and just reconnect with these new girlfriends that I adore. And on Monday, my soul sister I met last summer in Barcelona is coming in. She is a new friend, yet an old one. It’s hard to explain. It’s like we knew each other before or have been friends a very, long time. So she’ll be here visiting till Wed. and may go to classes with me, hang on the beach. I’m so very lucky to have such soulful friends. The connections are pure and deep and it’s what I’ve always wanted.

So, I pause today, feeling my feelings of loss. I will accept that I miss some people who are precious to me, still very important to me, yet aren’t in my life right now. I accept that I miss them. I accept that they still have pieces of my heart with their names on them, pieces that will always be theirs. But I do not own them. And they do not own me. I will accept these feelings that I have. Even the ones where I worry that I’m being unfaithful by embarking on new friendships. I am not. I just miss them. But they are on their own journey. I respect that. Love is free. Love is simple. Love just requires us to love, accept and let others be happy on their journey. The only crime is when I don’t love myself enough to let myself be free, fly, flow, and seek out a new day with new opportunities, new friendships. So to love others freely, requires that I love myself with as much compassion.

My habit for the past year, every day when I wake up, is to mentally say to myself: thank you for this new day. May I love well. May I live presently and please God, let me let go.

I don’t own this life. I am only passing through. I don’t even own this body. So just because I love my children or love family or friends doesn’t mean that I own them either. My love isn’t a chain. It doesn’t mean they are forced to DO anything. They are free to live how they choose, even if that way hurts themselves or shuts me out or goes down a path that I never considered. I let go with love. I wish them well with love. Because in the end, love is all about letting go. It is all about acceptance and not just validation or meeting my needs. If I truly love someone, anyone, then I want them to be happy. It’s as simple as that. And only those who are wild and free and following their dreams are truly happy. Those who feel chained or trapped out of obligation can never truly be content.

Just my wandering Tuesday morning thoughts, straight from my heart, filled with love.

Have a beautiful day,

Laura

100+ Follows!

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WOOHOO!! I received word a few weeks ago that I reached a milestone of 100 followers…I believe it’s 104 today. Isn’t that amazing? I’m so grateful to all of you who read my musings and who are on this journey with me as I evolve into a more conscious human being and navigate this world of mine as a single mom, yoga teacher, writer and budding novelist. Phew! That’s a lot isn’t it? Geez. And that doesn’t even touch my day to day life juggling needs as a FT mom and being single: striving to stay positive, focussed, motivated and find time to eek in a little fun, love, travel, adventure. You know, what we all seek—the spice in our rice, the music that makes us want to dance, or the moment our heart races when we recognize a person as a dear friend or potential ‘one’ that makes life so much more than just life. You know?

 

So, thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of you—new and old followers—of NavigatingVita. Since I started this blog August 26, 2011 a lot has changed in my life. My divorce became official. I broke up with a man that I thought I might marry. (The first man I had kissed in 15 years since my husband, so maybe I needed more experience dating too…) I joined a support group. I began and finished 4 yoga trainings. I now teach yoga. I wrote a novel. Yup, after taking a 15 year hiatus from creative writing after I completed my first novel in grad school, well, I jumped back in. I wrote a novel that was inspired by a true story uncovered when I was a newspaper reporter in the North Carolina mountains, moons ago. And, I started writing another novel. (See excerpt here.) I’ve travelled a lot: England, Italy (3 x), Spain, Czech, Hawaii (3x) Costa Rica, Peru, Mexico…And stumbled upon some cool experiences, such as being on the Queen Latifah show as a Contestant # 3 for her Dating Game Show. A well-intentioned neighbor, who happened to be a producer for her, decided I needed help finding a date since I rarely get out except to take or do yoga. It was a hilarious experience! And even with the help of Queen Latifah, her bachelor chose the grandmother out of the three contestants because she was the one who talked dirty and promised sex on the first date. (Men, is that all that it takes? Maybe for another blog post, but seriously?! My kids were watching too, could NOT go there. Hmmm.) Here I am last Feb. embarrassed after Queen Latifah tried to insinuate that I was a southern good girl, but not that good. Go figure. Still didn’t get the date! Probably a good thing. 🙂
The Queen Latifah Show Season 2

So, what can I say? Life is good. Life is challenging. Life can be upsetting and then suddenly delicious. It can become overwhelming and tedious and boring and then suddenly beautiful without words sufficient to express that beauty or the enormous amount of gratitude felt. Throughout it all: throughout the disappointments of agents not accepting my work, and then the high of one who does— or the boy who breaks my heart so completely that I can barely function … And of course my boys who are my anchor and mean everything to me. Throughout it all, I write as a means to seek, to find my center, to garner a balance, catch my breath and to embrace compassion, patience and forgiveness. And…still find time to dance and travel—at least once a  year! This is what motivates all my blog posts in one way or another. Even if indirectly as I am somewhat private. If I write about how to discover your worth and uncover hidden, sabotaging beliefs, trust me, it’s because I need to write about that topic due to poor or impulsive choices. If I write about how yoga enhances creativity and helps bash self-doubt, it’s likely because I’m teaching too much, not practicing daily yoga and therefore, finding it hard to carve out time every day to feel entitled to write that novel. Who do I think I am, right? So, I often write about what I need to learn. It’s the same when I teach yoga as each week there is a theme to my classes: forgiveness, acceptance, surrender, strength, combating anger, staying open, trust, faith, etc. You get the idea. I teach and write about what I need to learn. And if any of this has resonated with you, I’m truly honored.

Thank you for being on this journey with me.

I’m sending so much love & light & laughter to you all. Life is a trip—and one only worth navigating with dear friends. Thank you for the support.

With gratitude,

Laura x