Tag Archives: forgiveness

Finding Light Within Loss

light

Photo by RickyLesser.com

It’s nearly impossible to find the light, any light, when lost and in pain. Any platitude will ring untrue, like a well-intentioned stranger who says, “It’s God’s plan, dear,” or “Let Go & Let God.” Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is really mis-understood. What a person ‘intellectually’ and ‘spiritually’ understands, is not felt within the body of someone who has been traumatized. Ask any veteran. Ask any survivor of horrific abuse. It leaves a water mark that I believe melts into our muscles and settles into the deep subconscious within our bones that whispers in another language—but one that triggers our insecurity, our doubt, our sense of not belonging, our sense of not being enough. One yoga class, one therapy session, one confession, one psychic healer isn’t going to fix it. Post traumatic stress is something triggered by the body, from something buried deep within. And sometimes, we aren’t even cognizant of what that is, if it’s been blocked out.

Think of the person who ducks every time she hears a car backfire because she was a young child in a war-torn area where her parents were shot. Her heart is racing, palms sweating, and she might manically race to get away from the noise—to the point of running into the line of cars. She isn’t conscious of why she is fleeing, but the noise has triggered a buried memory that she never processed fully and her body is forcing her to feel the fear, feel the anxiety, feel the terror. The problem with PTSD is that, if not treated, this flight or fight mechanism repeats over and over until a sane person is no longer sane. The woman who has been attacked, for instance, may try to shake it off. Years later, she may have a full-blown panic attack in a parking garage when her car door won’t open. Her body, reliving a time when someone grabbed her, will start an internal revolt until she is bent over, throwing up, or passes out. This same woman may begin to suddenly leave restaurants or night clubs if her friends don’t return from the bathrooms on time because her heart is racing and she can’t look other men in the eyes. Her body is forcing her to feel—but it isn’t from a healthy sense of intuition. It’s from blocked pain that has nothing to do with the reality of the present moment.

No one likes to feel pain, or relive pain. Some people may have even disassociated with what they were going through, like a child who was abused, in order to survive. Years later, she may not understand why she won’t allow men to touch her. Again, it’s the body’s memory. It’s the body echoing out through our senses to force us to feel, in order to heal. But feeling sudden panic and reactivity, spurs insanity.

That person becomes paranoid, makes bad decisions, is untrusting and desperately seeks a way to end the torture—which can make alcohol, or any escape, alluring. When trying to kick the escape habits, that person can start to isolate, become severely depressed or even suicidal.

When we can grow compassion for someone suffering from PTSD, then we can foster forgiveness for whatever escapes that person sought out—even those that caused our own suffering. Because it isn’t personal. He or she was in severe pain they couldn’t endure anymore. Period. End of story.  It wasn’t about you or me. And they didn’t mean to hurt us.

For 5 months I’ve lived every day wondering if my sister was still alive. It’s been excruciating. We both lost our mother last May and one of the last things I remember her saying at our mother’s funeral is how mom always reminded her: “there’s someone for everyone dear.” The someone my sister found hurt her badly, beyond comprehension. And she just got lost in the trauma. I won’t go into the details.

Two weeks ago I was convinced my sister had died. I grieved the loss. I cried so hard. But I also remembered her light. It’s so bright. It shines all over my house in every room with some bizarre trinket, picture or perfect gift, (usually an exotic frog of some sort, long story) that she has given me over the years. I recalled the way she played piano and sang. How rebellious and creative and genius she was. How compassionate she was: always rescuing animals and strays of any kind, lol. After two days of grieving, I found out she was alive! And I spoke with her for the first time in nearly 5 months too. She’s now getting the treatment she desperately needs.

She may think that she’s lost everything, but she hasn’t. Her eternal light is burning so bright. Her future can actually be strengthened from this, if she lets it. As a therapist, she’ll be able to help even more people, especially those going through PTSD, because she’s been there. And it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Nothing.

Those who blame, shame, or ridicule anyone who has lost their way, due to PTSD, are heartless bullies. Compassion requires that we all take a moment to think about what someone else has gone through—to imagine their pain, their anxiety, their stress—and to think about ways to extend a hand, lighten their load, lessen their pain. Once we do this, even if it is a prayer we say, a candle we light, or a note we send saying we are thinking of that person, we return to love.

Compassion always returns me back to the amazing power of love. I can no longer stay mad at you, if I love you. If I love you, and realize that nothing you did was intentional to hurt me, than I can forgive you and fill my heart with love and acknowledge your light. Whenever we are back in that space of love, that space of light, there is no room for the ego or blaming or shaming or criticizing or ridiculing. And in that light, we are one, we are equal.

This experience, like others when I’ve lost loved ones or friends from sudden tragedies, reminds me of how fragile we all are. Even so, we all have an eternal light with lifetimes of knowledge and grace within us. If we allow ourselves to feel the pain, bless it, acknowledge it, enter stillness, and risk asking for help when we need it, we can actually feel our light as bright as the sun.

May we all find our way to loving each other, as the sun loves the Earth, without asking for anything in return, except for the blossoming of our potential, like wild flowers on a hillside.

With so much love and gratitude,

Laura x

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A New Perspective on Love

I wrote this post two years ago and looking back on it, it seems more important today, for my daily life, than it did then. I love ah-hah moments, but only when they resonate so loudly they alter my vibration permanently. I don’t always act lovingly or say loving things when I am frustrated. My thoughts aren’t always loving and forgiving toward myself or others when I’m hurt…but I am aware. I do take deep breaths and I do say I’m sorry when necessary, lol! On Valentine’s Day, I’m reposting this as a Valentine to you, my friends, and hope your day is filled with moments of authentic love for yourself, your friends, your pets, your children, your family … and life. 🙂

***

This I know for sure: Love isn’t defined by what someone can do for me or give to me. And it certainly isn’t a prize for being pretty, or smart or playful or wealthy. Love can’t be measured by how selfless I become either. Giving till it hurts, or putting someone else’s needs always above my own, isn’t necessarily a good marker of true love. (Maybe we have no choice with our children, though :-)!) But in romantic love, we have to remember to love and respect ourselves too, right?

Initially love may just spring from a feeling. A spark. Maybe even just from a look, a touch, a kiss. But to sustain love, there has to be more than attraction and chemistry, don’t you think?

Lately my mind has been wandering into existential waters. As I prepare to teach my first Valentine’s heart-opening Hatha yoga class, I find myself grappling with what love is and what love isn’t. I’ve come to believe that sustained love lies in the subtlety of how we speak to one another—much more than what we actually say. It’s about speaking kindly and respectfully, at all times, even when voicing concerns. I’ve always loved the James Taylor lyric: “It isn’t what she’s got to say, or how she thinks or where she’s been. To me the words are nice the way they sound.”

I also believe that love is tied to how gently and compassionately we live—more than by any grand gestures we make. Therefore, I’m leaning toward the definition of love as a type of vibration—a frequency—that effects how we sound and move and treat each other. It also controls how and who we attract into our lives.

So as I focus on what to address in my first Valentine’s yoga class—I realize that I don’t want to just talk about and teach poses to keep our hearts open. Yes, it’s important to trust and be open to new experiences—but without a good dose of self respect and inner core strength, we may just keep staying open to all the wrong people and opportunities. Maybe it stems back to our programming as a child, or by us feeding off of the energy of people who are the closest to us.

Maybe a lot of us may have fallen into lower vibrations due to negative childhood programming—which, if not released, feed and spiral into critical thoughts. These critical thoughts about ourselves and others just end up attracting toxic friends or partners who keep us in this status quo of a negative environment. If it sounds a bit heavy, bear with me and just think about it. How many of us as children have heard conversations from adults like: “For once, can you just listen to me?!” “Why do you always do this?” “Honestly, you look ridiculous.” “If you make it on time, it will be a miracle.” “NOT NOW! Jesus. You always nag me right when I’m on deadline.”

You get the idea. Comments such as these hurt. They place us on a lower frequency of thoughts filled with shame, low self esteem, insecurity, fear, anger, lack of respect—and these ripple into adulthood. Think about the couple who bicker constantly over such trivial things as too much hair in the sink … (Yeah, we’ve probably all been there at some point.)

So my ever-evolving definition of love starts within. How we treat each other—or allow others to treat us—triggers negative frequencies where love can’t live or last. What we mirror, or think, we attract.

I’ll leave you with these thoughts as I wrestle with my definition of love this Valentine’s day:

Love expands. Love elevates. Love enlightens. Love embraces growth. Love accepts. None of this can happen in a sea of critical or belittling comments or thoughts.

Clearly, I haven’t figured it all out. (Who has?!) But I do know that attracting someone kind, healthy and gentle requires that I be kind, healthy and gentle in my words and my thoughts—which includes how I treat and think about myself! This actually requires strength and a trust in my inner voice—as much as an open heart.

So, this Valentine’s week, I am defining love as a vibration—a frequency—that I have to tune into. Just like a violinist tunes his instrument in order to play heavenly music, I have to tune my inner strings—my inner awareness—to hear the right chords that allow me to play in a key that allows for a loving and conscious life. Do I speak lovingly and kindly to my loved ones? Do I speak lovingly and kindly to myself? Am I accepting of others? Am I accepting of myself? Am I truly forgiving? These are questions that will help me get in tune—so that I can live in a frequency of love.

What do you think? Does this resonate with you? If not, how do you define love?

Faith, in a Bubble

Bubble-In-The-Sky

Lately I’ve been visualizing a bubble when I meditate. It’s sort of like this one. I imagine it crossing an ocean, like an airplane. I can’t see it. I feel it. It’s on a planned trajectory, a mapped journey, straight toward me, wherever I am. A bit like Glenda’s bubble in the Wizard of Oz, I admit, but within this bubble is all that I want to manifest in my life. My number is 3, and I have just 3 main goals at the moment: to garner a book deal,  to reach others as I expand my yoga & meditation practice, and to attract a healthy love.

I breathe deeply and visualize this bubble floating toward me. I tell myself that just because I can’t see it, or always feel it, the bubble of manifestation is still working. It is still on its way, floating toward me, as long as I believe. And that’s the tricky part. Having faith when there are no signs that something is on its way. Sometimes it feels impossible to do. And what I’m learning is that belief is only part of the process. After taking Mike Dooley’s course, Playing the Matrix, I’ve discovered a major roadblock—the main reason why previous attempts to manifest haven’t been so good. Discovering this roadblock then revealed another one to me. If you are focussing on your intentions and goals in the New Year, maybe these tips will help you too.  Here are my two biggest road blocks to manifesting, which reveal the best ways TO manifest!

First: I have to stop attaching. I attach to details. I don’t just want a book deal, I want a specific agent or a specific publisher. Oh, but what if the Universe has other plans? What if those specific people and companies aren’t the right fit for me? What if my insistence blocks the right agent and the best publisher to flow toward me? I need to get out of my own way. “Let Go and Let God” is a popular phrase. You’ve likely heard it and agree. It’s easier than it sounds to put into practice! When I attach to details, I may just get what I want— and often that’s a bad thing. My Higher Power knows better. Mike Dooley, who I adore as much as Louise Hay (and my good friends know how much I love her!) advises to manifest with big picture goals only. So, I can imagine an agent signing or a publisher signing me, but not a specific person or publisher. Same goes for love, I can’t attach to a specific person or even specific descriptions such as height, hair color, job, etc. as it can block the perfect person, agent, yoga studio, etc. from appearing—and its appearance may not be what I’m expecting. Again, I need to get out of my own way. God knows best who and what is right for me. I can, however, ask for many other big picture items such as abundance, joy, a creative career, health…not specifics. There is so much more to Mike Dooley’s course, I’m such a big fan… everyone should take it! Seriously, my mind lit up like a strand of Christmas tree lights. He is beyond brilliant.

Second: I must face deep-rooted inner programming to persevere.
Just meditating on what I want, doesn’t help the Universe shift and bring it to me. I have to take baby steps. I have to submit more queries to agents and publishers. I have to apply to teach at more yoga studios. I may need to go out on more dates to find Mr. Right too—even if I hate dating. Taking baby steps can be really scary, especially after receiving rejection or bad experiences. Just because I received one rejection from one agent, doesn’t mean a person who said I’d never get published is right. For peat sakes! Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup for the Soul received 145 rejections before his New York Times best seller was accepted! Who do I think I am?? Well, I’m just someone who received some negativity and lack of support at some point in my life. Maybe you can relate? I have to recognize that the person who belittled me, or called me stupid, or said I’d never make it, was vomiting negativity—it had nothing to do with me. And I’ve accepted that intellectually. I’ve forgiven the few people in my life who were like that. But on a deep level. Maybe even on the subconscious level, these sort of emotionally abusive comments left water marks that reveal themselves in the forms of insecurity or lack of drive to keep trying. I have to recognize that each rejection does not reflect my worth or ability to succeed, and then take a deep breath, surround myself with supportive peps and try again. I’m now writing on my 3rd novel. I’m now working at two yoga studios. I’m now officially going out on several first dates that help me realize exactly what I don’t want! ha ha. 🙂  … But it’s all helping me on my journey!

Baby steps lead to amazing journeys. And sometimes the journeys go to the most surprising places.

So here’s to a New Year filled with baby steps that lead us to where we feel loved, heard, accepted, creative and joyful. And in between those baby steps, I’ll take the time to meditate. Maybe you’ll join me? Lets place our big picture goals and intentions (without attaching to specific details!) inside a bubble. Lets breathe deeply, close our eyes and allow it to float toward us, in God’s time.

 

Holding the Reflection of Our Compassionate Light

Jnsunset

The sun shines down, and its image reflects in a thousand different pots filled with water.

The reflections are many, but they are each reflecting the same sun.

Similarly, when we come to know who we truly are, we will see ourselves
in all people.

amma the Hugging Saint

This month I’ve been challenged to hold tightly to my compassion for others, while allowing myself the breathing room of making loving, yet firm decisions.

We all contain our own unique and direct link to God, our Higher Power, the Universe. Not one of us is more ‘Divine’ than another. We communicate, we grow, we change, we express ourselves differently. Yet Each of us is, and can be, a reflection of the same sun, the same light, the same Source we all come from. Light can’t reflect in running water easily and it’s impossible to see our own reflection in turbulent waters…we must find stillness. When I find that stillness within, I then can hear my compassion for others—I feel that light within them and me.

Each class I teach ends with me saying the light in me honors the light in you. It’s a deeply spiritual belief that I hold. I believe that we are all each a reflection of one another. Yet at times, such as this month, I had to detach, take a step back, to protect myself and my boys. We are all reflections of each other, yet some may be battling mental illness, addiction to drama, drugs, alcohol, depression…and not behaving in ways that are for their, or anyone else’s, highest good. I know I’ve had days when I’ve said something I didn’t mean—usually when I’ve pushed myself too hard, been racing around with a million activities for my boys, and have not been meditating or doing my regular practice of yoga.

I read this beautiful quote today from my friend’s organization Spirit Rock Meditation Center . I reminds me that with each day—with each conscious breath—we can begin anew. It all starts with compassion for ourselves and a willingness to let go, to forgive and to let go of our stubborn resistance to change.

spiritrock

Awareness is key. Where do I need to begin anew? That’s a big question, but I’d say mainly I need to put an oxygen mask on myself first, before helping others. For me, daily meditating, yoga and writing help me (try) to be patient, let go of expectations and find beauty in the present moment. As a single mom, a daily practice of self care is hard to achieve. But it’s worth it. I made a commitment on October 20th, after recovering from a crazy month and weekend that left me depleted mentally, physically and spiritually, that I’ll DO yoga every day for a month. I teach, but I’m going to practice daily. Some days I’ll just do a 10 minute flow at home. Some days I’ll just stretch with yin poses. Other times will be power yoga—which especially fills my body and spirit with the positive energy and knowledge that I do have power over my own life, my own choices.

And this month required a lot of effort to consciously choose decisions, rather than fall into default reactions or fear. It was hard, but bore beautiful lessons. For instance, I learned the following:

I can’t control whether a stranger continued stalking me daily and my family. … I can, and did, call the police, installed a security unit and borrowed a friend’s dog for protection.

I can’t control a former loved one’s sudden anger, outbursts or unkind words. … I can pray for him and distance myself.

I can’t control someone who hurt and lied to me. … But I can walk away, speak my truth and still wish that person well.

I can’t control not getting enough time off from full-time single parenting … But I can take breaks, I can meditate, I can take a bike ride, I can do yoga, I can hire a sitter, I can slow down.

I can’t control whether people I care about don’t take care of themselves or allow others to abuse them. … But I can love them anyway, I can pray for them, and I can try to not enable or judge.

I can’t control how disease ravishes my cancer yogis or my mother. … But I can pray, provide comfort, breathe deeply, be grateful for their presence in my life.

I can’t control the steady requests for myself to volunteer or activities for my boys. … But I can say no or find other parents to help with carpools.

I can’t control whether an agent gets back to me about my book. … But I can continue to pitch others and write my 2nd novel.

It’s all about finding balance and not losing gratitude. My goal is to hold myself and others in a reflective, compassionate and humbling light. When I’m hurt, threatened, or when I don’t take care of myself and jealousy, depression or a pity party creeps in—it’s a reminder to pause and take better care of myself so I can see my reflection and the light of others in the stillness of my heart. In this space, I am convinced that I will remain ever teachable, humble, (mostly) calm and inspired, determined and grateful.

Life is beautiful. Even more so when trouble hits—as the light of love and those who are filled with love for me, shine more brightly. I am so grateful to my senior and cancer yogis who teach me to live with positive gratitude and strength. And I am forever indebted to my dear friends, whose presence makes my life feel musical and in sync. You know who you are, dear friends, and I love you.

Have a beautiful, light-filled month. ((( ❤ )))

Beach Yoga for Balance, Strength, Inspiration

beachyoga

Photo By KellyGonzalez.com

Join me for basic yoga classes Fridays at 9 a.m. just south of the Neptune Lifeguard Tower, @ Hermosa/Manhattan Beach border: Sept. 18 – Dec. 18, 2015. Suggested donation: $10, but ALL are welcome!

There is nothing better than listening to the steady crash of the ocean, feeling the pacific breeze in your hair, watching a few surfers or dolphins float by as you flow, sweat, and breathe deeply into intentions that ignite your soul. What a way to start off the weekend too?! Lets beat the heat together. All that is needed is your yoga mat. These are basic yoga classes, for all levels of fitness, that will still ignite your heart, strengthen your body, increase balance, aid in prevention of injuries and just make you feel GOOD. It’s my happy pill. After we sweat and flow, we’ll lay in savasana, listening to the ocean, allowing our minds to find stillness so we can listen to our hearts, our inner voice that is never critical, never negative—allowing you to connect to your dreams, to your best self, to visualize your unlimited potential. That’s the magic of yoga. And a backdrop of the gorgeous Pacific ain’t too shabby. So, Join Me!

I’ll leave you with a powerful excerpt / affirmation from Louise Hay, who has been critical in my own journey to fitness and self love. This summer I spent a few weeks solo in Barcelona and read from her book You Can Heal Your Life every day as I did yoga from my rooftop with views of the Mediterranean Sea. The healing, the joy, the inspiration was incredible and hard to explain—some things in life must be felt to be understood, even for this writer!  I hope to see you soon. Shoot me a message with any questions. Until then, have a beautiful week. Namaste. xo

## From You Can Heal Your Life:

In the infinity of life where I am,
All is perfect, whole, and complete.
I live in harmony and balance with everyone I know.
Deep at the center of my being, there is an infinite well of love.
I now allow this love to flow to the surface.
It fills my heart, my body, my mind, my consciousness,
my very being, and radiates out from me in all directions
and returns to me multiplied.
The more love I use and give, the more I have to give.
The supply is endless.
The use of love makes me feel good;
it is an expression of my inner joy. I love myself;
therefore, I take loving care of my body.
I lovingly feed it nourishing foods and beverages,
I lovingly groom it and dress it, and my body lovingly
Responds to me with vibrant health and energy.
I love myself; therefore, I provide for myself a comfortable home,
One that fills all my needs and is a pleasure to be in.
I fill the rooms with the vibration of love
so that all who enter, myself included, will feel this love
and be nourished by it.
I love myself; therefore, I work at a job I truly enjoy doing.
One that uses my creative talents and abilities,
working with and for people I love and who love me,
and earning a good income.
I love myself; therefore, I behave and think in a loving way
to all people for I know that which I give out
returns to me multiplied.
I only attract loving people in my world,
for they are a mirror of what I am.
I love myself; therefore, I forgive and totally release the past
and all past experiences, and I am free.
I love myself; therefore, I live totally for the now,
experiencing each moment as good and knowing that my future
is bright and joyous and secure,
for I am a beloved child of the Universe,
and the Universe lovingly takes care of me
now and forever more. All is well in my world.

Got Power?

photo by @rickylesser

photo by @rickylesser

Where is your power? What represents it? Is it your car? Is it your house? Is it your job and who reports to you? Does it stem from giving a husband or a wife a “honey-do list” of chores a mile long? Is it in your job as a parent “guiding your children?” i.e. telling them what to do, who to be, what to think? How’s it all working out for you? Do you feel powerful? Maybe. For a little while.

Authentic power doesn’t come from how much money you have or with the ability to boss minions around. Authentic power can’t be created by trying to control someone else, either. Shaming, blaming, criticizing, cajoling, nagging, belittling—none of these control tactics will change another person’s behavior or thoughts—and especially not make a dent in their addictions. That’s the kick. Addictions can’t be managed because they trigger a chemical reaction that make a person crave that substance, or hormone high from a behavior, again and again and again. They give a temporary relief, a ‘time-out’ from life or feeling whatever a person doesn’t want to feel or think about. I’ve been there. Alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, food (sugar!), porn, multiple dramatic relationships, gambling, compulsive shopping—it’s all a way to distract from whatever ails a person. They all distract from feelings of sadness, from trauma, from betrayal, from neglect, from frustrations, lost dreams…whatever needs to be felt, gets stuffed or shuffled or juggled with drama, things, substances. And there is NOTHING you can say or do to stop another person from doing any of it. Some are offended by that. Some don’t believe addictions are real. I’ve heard some, who continue to try to change a person, say: “If he loved me, he wouldn’t do this (insert alcohol, cigarettes, porn, compulsive shopping),” or, “If he cared about having a good life or this family, he wouldn’t drink every night” or “She chooses to binge eat every night. No one put a gun to her head. It’s disgusting.”

Last month a friend in Barcelona hared that a waiter brought their table a free bottle of champagne one glorious afternoon. A man, sober 10 years, said that while looking around at all the beautiful, smiling faces at other tables who were sipping exotic drinks by the sea, he hands began to shake violently. “Why can’t I be like them?” he thought. When he told the waiter to take it back, he said it was the first time in many years that he was “gutted.” He was so tempted, haunted, by the thought of having a sip that he had to excuse himself  because if he had one drink, he’d have to have more and more and might end up divorced and on a park bench again by month-end. Where is his power? In knowing that he is powerless over his addiction and in getting help. But no one can do it for him. No one can shame him, or blame him or criticize him into it. Why would they want to? This beautiful person knows he isn’t like social drinkers. By embracing his powerlessness, he can embrace his authentic power.

Where are you powerless? That’s our theme for our first Recovery Yoga class today at 2 p.m. at Haute Yogi Manhattan Beach. Join us!

I am powerless over what another person chooses to do—or say—or think—or be—in this life. If that person is my partner or family member or best friend, it may be excruciating to watch—especially if they habitually drink, smoke, neglect their health, binge eat, gamble, make bad choices, etc… In fact, the more that I try “to help” i.e. suggest, criticize, nag, cajole, beg for whatever I want (therapy, exercise, better choices) the more likely it is that this person will resent me and continue with these behaviors. And when it comes to addictions, like the dis-ease of alcohol, I am truly powerless. If a person refuses to get help, they won’t be able to stop. Even if they say they will. Even if they go a month sober, even if they only drink on weekends, without help, without support, without therapy, the ‘dis-ease’ builds until it’s a gnarly chemical compulsion, needed, in fact, to stuff pain, mimic joy, mimic normalcy—and they will reach for it again and again. It’s not in my control. It’s not in their control. It isn’t “manageable.” I can’t save anyone. And putting my life on hold, my dreams on hold, my goals at bay in an attempt to rescue anyone, is surely another means of distraction, right? That’s co-dependency and it’s a wicked “dis-ease” as well.

So what can I control? What can you control? Where is our authentic power?

I can control my thoughts. I choose to spin negative thoughts into positive ones. 

I can control what I put into my body.

I can meditate for 5, 10 minutes a day.

I can find a way to exercise every day. (Can you? Even if it means taking the stairs at work, power walking at lunch…there are many options.)

I can stop criticizing, myself or others.

I can allow others to help me.

I can choose who I hang out with and who I live my life with.

I can create boundaries with those who hurt me.

I can choose a peaceful environment: what I watch on TV, what music I listen to, is within my power.

I can forgive others AND myself for not being what I needed them to be. (Read that again, it’s HUGE.)

I can breathe deeply, count to 10 and respond, instead of react, when drama emerges.

I can learn how to be present and be a good listener.

I can focus one hour a day on one of my dreams (and “not listen” to any of the negative or insecure thoughts that may linger or may have been said to me about it…for one hour, I can go for it and have fun with it.)

I can create traditions with my children: gratitude lists at bedime, love bombs at dinner, family game night or movie night…

I can dream, visualize, manifest as I meditate and write.

I can let go of expectations.

I can accept others for exactly who they are—AND love them, AND myself, anyway.

I can do one good deed a day, or week, without letting anyone know about it.

I can cut off my phone and my computer for a few hours every day.

I can de-clutter and give away what I don’t use: cluttered house=cluttered mind.

I can try to understand first, before being understood, or being right.

I can control what I say. I can ask myself the following before I spit out whatever is on my mind: “Is it kind? Is it true? Does it need to be said right now? Does it need to be said by me?”

I can open up my heart, take healthy chances, ‘get out of my head’ and open up to new experiences, new friendships.

What can you control? Where is your authentic power? Join us, as we meditate, flow and sweat while thinking about one area of our lives that we can control. We will breathe into that intention for the week and feel the power of letting go of what we can not control and embracing what we can: our own lives.

The light in me, honors the light in you ~ Namaste

How do You Define Love?

vibratingheart

This I know for sure: Love isn’t defined by what someone can do for me or give to me. And it certainly isn’t a prize for being pretty, or smart or playful or wealthy. Love can’t be measured by how selfless I become either. Giving till it hurts, or putting someone else’s needs always above my own, isn’t necessarily a good marker of true love. (Maybe we have no choice with our children, though :-)!) But in romantic love, we have to remember to love and respect ourselves too, right?

Initially love may just spring from a feeling. A spark. Maybe even just from a look, a touch, a kiss. But to sustain love, there has to be more than attraction and chemistry, don’t you think?

Lately my mind has been wandering into existential waters. As I prepare to teach my first Valentine’s heart-opening Hatha yoga class, I find myself grappling with what love is and what love isn’t. I’ve come to believe that sustained love lies in the subtlety of how we speak to one another—much more than what we actually say. It’s about speaking kindly and respectfully, at all times, even when voicing concerns. I’ve always loved the James Taylor lyric: “It isn’t what she’s got to say, or how she thinks or where she’s been. To me the words are nice the way they sound.”

I also believe that love is tied to how gently and compassionately we live—more than by any grand gestures we make. Therefore, I’m leaning toward the definition of love as a type of vibration—a frequency—that effects how we sound and move and treat each other. It also controls how and who we attract into our lives.

So as I focus on what to address in my first Valentine’s yoga class—I realize that I don’t want to just talk about and teach poses to keep our hearts open. Yes, it’s important to trust and be open to new experiences—but without a good dose of self respect and inner core strength, we may just keep staying open to all the wrong people and opportunities. Maybe it stems back to our programming as a child, or by us feeding off of the energy of people who are the closest to us.

Maybe a lot of us may have fallen into lower vibrations due to negative childhood programming—which, if not released, feed and spiral into critical thoughts. These critical thoughts about ourselves and others just end up attracting toxic friends or partners who keep us in this status quo of a negative environment. If it sounds a bit heavy, bear with me and just think about it. How many of us as children have heard conversations from adults like: “For once, can you just listen to me?!” “Why do you always do this?” “Honestly, you look ridiculous.” “If you make it on time, it will be a miracle.” “NOT NOW! Jesus. You always nag me right when I’m on deadline.”

You get the idea. Comments such as these hurt. They place us on a lower frequency of thoughts filled with shame, low self esteem, insecurity, fear, anger, lack of respect—and these ripple into adulthood. Think about the couple who bicker constantly over such trivial things as too much hair in the sink … (Yeah, we’ve probably all been there at some point.)

So my ever-evolving definition of love starts within. How we treat each other—or allow others to treat us—triggers negative frequencies where love can’t live or last. What we mirror, or think, we attract.

I’ll leave you with these thoughts as I wrestle with my definition of love this Valentine’s day:

Love expands. Love elevates. Love enlightens. Love embraces growth. Love accepts. None of this can happen in a sea of critical or belittling comments or thoughts.

Clearly, I haven’t figured it all out. (Who has?!) But I do know that attracting someone kind, healthy and gentle requires that I be kind, healthy and gentle in my words and my thoughts—which includes how I treat and think about myself! This actually requires strength and a trust in my inner voice—as much as an open heart.

So, this Valentine’s week, I am defining love as a vibration—a frequency—that I have to tune into. Just like a violinist tunes his instrument in order to play heavenly music, I have to tune my inner strings—my inner awareness—to hear the right chords that allow me to play in a key that allows for a loving and conscious life. Do I speak lovingly and kindly to my loved ones? Do I speak lovingly and kindly to myself? Am I accepting of others? Am I accepting of myself? Am I truly forgiving? These are questions that will help me get in tune—so that I can live in a frequency of love.

What do you think? Does this resonate with you? If not, how do you define love?

Permission to Feel Again

“Like the tiny spark of fire that consumes a forest, the spark of love is all you need to experience love in its full power and glory, in all its aspects, earthly and divine.”
Deepak Chopra

Experts like Deepak Chopra often tell us that “living in the present moment is what best serves us.” In fact, I received an email today on that topic from his website. I think it is a wise sentiment, but one that can be truly hard for women going through divorce (or for anyone whose “present moment” is far from peaceful.) For women experiencing separation or a contentious divorce, it can be extremely hard to live in the moment—AND for it to be healthy—when one is living in fear. So many of my friends and readers who are going through a divorce know just what I mean. There is financial fear. There is emotional fear. There is fear of litigation. There may be nasty text messages or phone messages or child custody issues. There may be moments of dread and longing and regret and guilt—so much so—that you may get temporarily consumed with thoughts about mistakes from the past, or future moments for your children. All of these feelings are okay, and perhaps do need to be felt. And yet, they can keep us apart from our every-day lives. They keep us from making good decisions. They can consume us. They can keep us from enjoying the moment, our surroundings, our friends, our children, our community.

And with all that going on in our minds, how then, can we possibly allow ourselves to open up, be vulnerable, and to feel again? How does it allow for spontaneity or making new friends? How can we begin to love ourselves again?

I discovered this ancient temple outside Cortona, Italy the other week, on a day when fear was bubbling up again as I thought about my boys back in the States and pending issues with my divorce. As I snapped pictures of this basilica, I saw how weathered, yet proud it seemed—how elegant and timeless. I decided that each one of us going through hard times such as a divorce needs to remember that we are elegant and timeless. We need to be less hard on ourselves, less judgmental, less critical. We need to forgive ourselves. We need to be okay with not being perfect.

Meditation helps tremendously for those who become a bit panic-ridden or consumed with fear. As ironic as it seems, letting go of all of our fears for a few minutes—just breathing and thinking of nothing but our breath—helps to let go of the pain and just be.

I’ve been meditating almost every day while I’ve been in Italy. I breathe deeply, let go of any guilt or fear and just observe what I am feeling. It’s so nice to be allowed your feelings. There is nothing wrong with being angry or sad or unsure.

Italians are certainly not people to hold in their feelings. As I walk around our village I hear loud discussions over card games or dinner. I hear much laughter. I also sometimes hear yelling, but luckily, it doesn’t last long. I see couples that kiss very passionately without any qualms or embarrassment. I see women holding hands, men kiss hello and children who run and hug each other. It’s nice to be among people who feel deeply and whose culture embraces that.

If you are feeling overwhelmed with fears that are consuming you as your embark on your divorce, I encourage you to meditate. If you can, sign up for the Chopra 21-day meditation challenge. http://www.chopracentermeditation.com/

If that is too much for you, give yourself five minutes to just breathe. Don’t think about anything other than listening to your heart. It will awaken again some day. You will get over your pain and your sorrow. You will forgive yourself. You will let go of the criticisms thrust upon you. You will trust someone again, some day. Just listen to your heart and breathe deeply with each thought. Set an intention for your day. Today, mine is to listen. I will listen to myself and to others.

Have a wonderful day my friends. Tomorrow I am off to Naples in the search of the world’s best pizza. Food, is my new passion. Stay tuned! 🙂

Beauty, Forgiveness in Letting Go

I can’t stop thinking about The New York Times article “Untying the Knot in Japan” by Paige Ferrari. In fact, ever since reading the article that outlines this new Japanese trend of divorce ceremonies, I can’t stop the steady stream of images from daydreams, clearly inspired by this idea. Obviously, I crave closure. One snippet of my dream keeps popping into my mind—like disjointed, still frame, romantic images. I even sent a message to my soon-to-be Ex about wanting to have a divorce ceremony. Not surprisingly, he didn’t reply.

Perhaps I’ll just have one on my own. Before reading this article, I had thought (once the divorce was final) I’d invite a friend or two to come with me as I throw my wedding band off the end of one of the Southern California piers into the Pacific Ocean. I imagined I’d say a few things before the toss about mixed blessings; becoming stronger; putting my sons first; or living a better life. But now I see what I really want is a ceremony that would honor the 12 years my husband and I spent together. I’d love a ceremony that is like a symbolic blessing to us both—releasing us to move on and inspiring us to be respectful of one another for the sake of our boys.

In Ferrari’s article, a divorce ceremony is outlined where both the ex-husband and ex-wife come together, say a few words in front of a witness, and then both use a hammer to crush their wedding bands. It’s a somber occasion, but one that respects their former union, blesses the two to move on, and confirms the importance of their child’s health and happiness. More ex-couples would benefit from a ceremony such as this, don’t you think? Since I’ll likely never have one with my Ex who lives in London, I will dream of one that allows me to let go and continue on with beauty and hope.

In my recurring dream, a paper lantern floats wobbly in a river—the candle light inside flickering in and out through a heavy layer of fog. It moves with fragility in the water and I am compelled to reach out to it. I have been waiting for it alone on a dock and I stretch to reach it, but can not. I am frightened that the light will burn out, so I stretch my body along the scratchy wood planks of the dock, my upper torso dangling precariously over the water. Finally one long finger touches the side of the lantern and I pull it towards me. I lift it up and put my wedding ring inside. I let myself think for a moment about the beauty of our wedding, the sweetness of our love that day, and the hope we both once had. Inside the other crease of the lantern, I place two folded pieces of paper with messages to my soon-to-be ex-husband.

“Don’t forget your boys,” is written on one note.

“I forgive you,” on the other.

I visualize all the hurt and pain that I have felt over the past two years as a smoke rising from a flame. The wind lifts it up in the crisp night air and allows it to combine with the fog. I place the paper lantern with my ring and messages back into the river and push it gently into the current.

As I watch it drift away, I let go of all anger and bitterness.

I close my eyes, envision my beautiful boys, and allow myself to feel blessed in this parting.