Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Insecurities of a Yoga Selfie

Before I began my Yoga Teacher Training, I didn't follow YogaSelfiesRUs or whatever it's called on Instagram; I didn't bother with looking through yoga poses uploaded by fellow Yogis on Facebook; and I certainly, most definitely, did not post any photos of myself doing asanas. It was all just too much. It spake of ego, of "Look at me, I'm so pretty!"and it played with my self-esteem. (Image Credit: Giesel Widmer)

I was not the most flexible in my training class, nor was I the strongest. One girl could do handstands practically on her fingertips. Another girl could hook her legs behind her head. Me? I was the grunting, gasping girl in the corner, all rounded back, and collapsing over sideways. I wasn't the most slender or serene-looking. My ujjayi breath was barely audible. I fidgeted in Easy pose. Down Dog hurt my shoulders after a few too many. I discovered I had been doing Tadasana all wrong for the past three years. I couldn't even stand properly.

So what was I going to feel when I saw pictures of these magnificent males and females contorting themselves into stunning straight lines, nary a bump or stomach roll in sight, holding themselves up effortlessly on the palms of their hands? Like shit. Yeah. It made me feel shitty, plain as that. Instead of being inspiring like how it is for quite a few co-trainees in my class, I could feel my heart sink and my cheeks flush in embarrassment. There is absolutely no way I'll ever let anyone see me blunder into that pose. I would think to myself. So I won't let them see. See, even though I went to a handful of yoga classes before my teacher training, I did a lot of home practice. Moreover, I rarely let anyone practice with me lest they see me in a less than stellar form. I was embarrassed. I felt kind of like a fraud. Here I was, saying "Yoga, yoga, yoga!" and what if I was actually doing everything wrong and had no idea?

Well, I kind of was, as evidenced by the whole Tadasana debacle, but so was everyone else. Imagine my shock when I discovered that all my co-trainees were no better or worse than me. They were all as good as they could be at that moment, and we all were slated for improvement. I had strengths in one area that I didn't in another, and another person had vice versa.

After two months straight of training, I was slightly more flexible and slightly stronger. I fit into my body better. I felt more comfortable in my skin, but I still retained a bit of that insecurity. Two months isn't enough to abolish years of conditioning you get from society. We were born in the age of Kate Moss. We watched celebrities like both Jennifer Connelly and Aniston go from pretty girls with full faces to skinny waifs. In short, there's a tremendous amount of worthless value being placed on specific bodies and looks that are not very attainable nor practical.

During my training, I gained a lot of confidence in my skills. I took my first yoga selfie and was shocked by how I looked. It wasn't what I expected at all. I looked good. More than good, I looked awesome! I did the pose right! There weren't any stomach rolls! Whaaaaaat? I felt brilliant about myself. I took more selfies, started doing scary poses that I kept falling out of in public, I stopped caring. Somewhere in there, I realized, who cares? All that mattered was that I was trying and I was improving with each trial. One day, I was going to get there.

Then, training was over. I became certified. Two months of all the yoga I could get was finished. #yogaeverydamnday wasn't true for me anymore. I was back in Cleveland where I didn't have a studio I called Home. Not only that, I went back, then I moved to Columbus. I was starting over for real. Everything from scratch. I had to find a studio I liked. I had to find a job. I had to make connections, network, meet people. I had to turn nothing into something. It was and still is a daunting and scary task, but little by little, I started chipping away at it. My training went from three-plus classes a day to three home practices a week if I was lucky. My joints were becoming creaky and my muscles were withering into floppy underarm hang. I felt like I was losing my strong Side-Crowing self.

Then, I picked up a couple back copies of Yoga Journal from the library for inspiration. They're great publications, really, but I did not expect my reaction after I finished reading. My old insecure self returned, thinking thoughts like "I can never get my legs that straight in the air," and "My abs are a joke, I can't hold myself up in Boat," and I started to panic. The insecurity took me over. In my mind, I was a fat, ugly, lumbering rhino who couldn't do a graceful Freebird anymore. All those emotions I had from when I avoided YogaSelfiesRUs rose up in me and I didn't like it. This wasn't who I've become, who I've earned the right to be after my training. This wasn't me, it never really was, and it never would be again.

So, I just let myself notice the pain. I felt it. I recognized it and identified it. I gave it time to go away on its own without fighting it or inflicting guilt on myself. I practiced ahimsa, nonviolence towards myself to get through a momentary breakdown. Today, I did another home practice. It's not back-to-back classes at Black Swan in Austin, but it was what I needed. With time, I'll be back to #yogaeverydamnday and I just need to be patient. I realize I have to give myself credit. Like I said, I'm starting from scratch and every accomplishment, no matter how tiny, is actually huge. As long as I maintain my practice and maintain the respect I give to myself, my mind, and my body, I will always be as beautiful as all those yogis in their selfies, even if I can't go from Crane into a handstand… yet.

I saw this posted on Facebook with a message: How do these photos of a woman doing yoga in the nude make you feel? At first, I was intimidated. She is beautiful and nearly perfect. I may never have a body like hers. I know I'll definitely never have boobs like her for sure. But despite that, I see it as an accurate depiction for who she is: someone who loves and has put time into her practice. Her love is so raw that she has to practice it at its barest. It's a exquisite example of a yogi's dedication. 

How does these photos make you feel? Luba Shumeyko Yoga- Nude Yoga- By Petter Hegre.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Splendor in Surprising Scenery

There's something special about walking through the woods in that time between fall and winter. The summer greenery has faded. The bright vivid hues of the autumn leaves have crumbled into a flat, muted brown. The trees have become bare and the snow has yet to come and stick around. The scenery for lack of a better word, has become drab. The trees blend into the ground which blends back into the soft ebb and flow of the landscape. The sky is either overcast and grey or filled with the harsh brightness of the late year sun.

But this is part of the charm. Without heavy cover of the leaves and without the privacy of the bushes, it's like the curtains on the outskirts of the woods have opened up to the forest within. Like an old, antiquated house with the windows bare and yawning, you can now gaze at the treasures found within. A fallen oak tree stands center stage, its majestic girth leaving you in awe. The secret lives of the woodland critters have been exposed- a squirrel's every antic, a deer's peaceful foray, a twittering bird. That little brook is finally uncovered, babbling along and caressing rocks blanketed with moss. Each vivid burst of color whether it's the green living skin on a ledge or the flash of a bluebird is more valuable, more beautiful against the monotone background.

Usually you're by yourself. All the rest have retreated indoors to their homes or coffee shops or the mall. Each step you take is a new footprint on an unmarked path. The leaves crunch underneath. The chipmunk scurry past with a little less apprehension. As a tiny singular human body, you literally blend into the woodland, unnoticed by the wildlife, with only your breath to keep you company.

Hiking during this time of the year is seeing the same sight with a new perspective. A pink flower in the spring is beautiful, a green canopy in the summer is gorgeous, but can you find the splendor in a scene that wouldn't typically evoke a reaction? Go out to the woods today, see for yourself.

What did you find that is beautiful?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Holiday Survival Guide for Vegetarians and Cooks

Uh oh, I don't know about you but the holidays have certainly snuck up on me. For most, this means elastic waistband in preparation for the miles and miles of food that'll be put out, goodwill and joy, and that dirty old uncle that every family has.

And for a smaller group of us, we have overbearing cooks to contend with. As vegetarians, this is when we really start watching our backs, making sure no well-meaning grandmother slips a slice of turkey in underneath all that (vegetarian) stuffing. This is when we have to start analyzing all the dishes- Is there bacon in that? Did they use chicken stock?- without coming across as rude. We don't want to ruin the festivities for anyone, including ourselves, so how do we graciously tip toe our way around the meat-filled minefield that is otherwise known as "The Holiday Dinner"?

So this is my Holiday Survival Guide for Vegetarians and Cooks Expecting Vegetarians as well.

For Vegetarians:
  1. If you can, let the host know well ahead of time that he or she will be expecting a vegetarian.
  2. Then, explain very clearly exactly what you do or do not eat. Honestly, unless your great-aunt is very savvy for her age, she's definitely not going to know the difference between a vegetarian and vegan.
  3. I find myself apologizing for being an inconvenience. After a while, I realized, "Why the hell am I apologizing for being myself." Some of you are vegs for health reasons, if that's not a reason to speak up about your food, I don't know what is.
  4. Grin and bear it through all the "You are what you eat- cow-eating-grass" jokes and the like. It's only one day and you'll never have to deal with it again for another year. Likewise, no carnivore jokes. However, short-arm T-Rex jokes are always encouraged.
  5. Do not use dinnertime as the opportunity to shame and guilt your fellow meat-eating table mates as tempting as it may be. (See stupid herbivore jokes.) If someone asks and is genuinely interested, explain your lifestyle as positively as possible, answer their questions, and move on. 
  6. Forget the main dish, everyone knows that the side dishes are the best.
  7. If you are unsure about a dish, ask. Ask, ask, ask. Ask if they used meat drippings, if there's meat stock, did they garnish with bacon or use milk. Psst: You could say, "Oh, that dish looks delicious, what goes in it?" Flattery gets you everywhere.
  8. Bring a dish you know you can eat and that you know you can sustain yourself on it for the night if there are absolutely no other options. This is a great opportunity to show everyone else just how tasty vegetarian dishes are. (See sub note #3 below.)
  9. Bring another vegetarian friend. There's power in numbers and hey, they might bring their own dish too and now you have options! (God knows how excited we vegetarians get about options!)
  10. Have fun. Despite what all the media says, the holidays are more than just the food and the gifts and the material stuff, it's about the warmth of family and loved ones all gathering together and catching up.
For Cooks Expecting Vegetarians:
  1. If sending out invitations, requesting dietary restrictions as part of the RSVP is tremendously helpful.
  2. Ask questions. If someone reports that they are a vegetarian, ask them what they eat and don't eat. This includes dairy products, eggs, cheese, stock, even honey and alcoholic drinks. 
  3. Consider making at least one vegan dish so everyone is happy. The trick is to wait to tell your omnivorous guests until after they've eaten it but slip a hint to your grateful herbivore guests beforehand.
  4. Let veggies have the option of bringing their own dish. Happy herbivores equal less stress on you. And we're all pretty good at taking care of ourselves.
  5. Don't ask if they can eat chicken or pork "just this once." They made a lifestyle change and it's insulting to think they'll bend their will just for one dinner party. 
  6. Also, telling us "just a little bit of bacon won't hurt"will hurt when we're done cramming a turkey bone down your throat. "Just a little bit of bone marrow won't hurt!"
  7. Please, I beg of you, lay off the stupid carnivore jokes and the whole, "I could never give up meat" spiel. We've heard it. It's obvious you can't give up meat when you just served the whole table turducken.
  8. However, if you're genuinely interested in why and how, we're more than happy to talk about it with you! We promise to be kind and nice! (See Holiday Survival Guide for Vegetarians #5 above)
  9. When in doubt, use vegetable stock. This goes for stuffing, rice, mashed potatoes, whatever. Whenever it calls for chicken stock, vegetable stock or bullion is an easy substitution that's just as tasty.
  10. Labels with ingredients help us avoid tons of awkward or annoying questions which can bring a party down fast. Plus, we can get to the food much faster. Full vegetarians are happy holiday guests!
I've been able to cook the entire Thanksgiving meal on my own for the past four or five years, so I've been lucky to have complete control over all the dishes. However, this year will mark the first year I get to join someone else's family (so freaking excited!) Fortunately, I will not be alone in the vegetarian guests group. Here's to stuffing myself silly and elastic waistbands!

What do you do to survive the holidays? If you have any other tips, feel free to add them in the comments below!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Learning the Exquisite Existence Within You

So this is it, I'm officially a yoga instructor. I can turn you into twisty, bendy positions because I, myself, have contorted into twisty, bendy positions for the past two months and learned how to tell you to do it.

But the two months that I've spent in Austin wasn't just about learning yoga poses. It was so much more than that. It was one of the hardest times and one of the best times I've experienced in my life so far. Some people say yoga teacher training changed them and that they're different now. I disagree. No one changed. Changing isn't something people can do. Instead, we learn. I learn. I was an awesome, amazing person going into Austin, and I'm the same awesome, amazing person coming out- just with more confidence to show it. We grow to understand things whether it's people, relationships, the world, or ourselves. We discover that we're still the same person regardless of whatever emotion we're experiencing and whatever situation we're facing, because all of that- drama, events, whatever- is still outside the realm of our Self. It's like we stand in the very center of a cyclone. We can choose to stick our hands out and get hit by flying debris, or we can simply stay still and watch the world swirl around us, noticing the little things, and smiling because imagine how beautiful it'd be to be in the middle of that twister.

I came out of training stronger, both physically and mentally. Like one wise person told me, "There's taking yourself out of the comfort zone, and there's being forced out of your comfort zone." Going to Austin was the agreement I made with myself to leave my comfort zone. Events occurred where I found myself being forced even further out of that zone. It was tough. I knew real life was waiting for me at home, but I didn't expect real life to hit me full in the face while I was still away.

To comfort me, people kept saying, "When you leap, the net will appear." As I drove away from Austin to go back north, I thought to myself: I've been free-falling from day one. There is no net. The net will never appear. But you know what else will never appear? The ground. The entirety of life is you just free-falling. You might find someone to hold hands with while you fall, or it could look like there's a whole group of people underneath you waiting to catch you. But everyone else is free-falling just as fast and far as you are. And honestly, I rather have that than to land in a net all by myself.

In the midst of my free-falling, I wasn't alone. I had my gorgeous group of yogis and my two phenomenal instructors offering support and wrapping everyone in all their beautiful energy. I had my loved ones back home. I had all the new friends that I made in the most unlikely of places. So in spite of the crazy cyclone I was in, I learned and still am learning the secrets of an exquisite existence. 

So when I interviewed for my first yoga position, they asked me why I said I wanted to get more experience. I told them, "I never stop learning."

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Knives in Corks and Coffee Grounds in Showers

Well, I have been a real MacGyver this week, it seems. I learned that you can open a wine bottle with a serrated knife when your wine opener goes AWOL.  You just basically stab the ever living daylights out of the center of the cork until you get it in there about halfway. Then, carefully twist and twist and twist until you get the cork out. I was so thrilled to have finally opened the bottle that I celebrated... with a drink.

You saw that coming.

Anyway, here in Austin, I have become very intimate with my sweaty self. I don't think there's been a single day here where I haven't ended up in a puddle of perspiration. I've now taken to carrying around an extra change of clothes and deodorant and explaining to people that I've been stanky for so long I've forgotten what I smell like clean. So sorry, everyone, but you try doing all this in 95 degree weather every day. Anyway, my skin definitely felt the burden of all those layers of grime that simply would not wash away in the shower. Finally, I realized I needed a good body scrub to bring that glow back. You know, that one you're supposed to get after a good day of exercise.

In short, I was sick of looking like a glistening pig.

There was no body scrub around though. Or even the usual characters in a body scrub like sugar or sea salt. There was, however, an abundance of coffee grounds thanks to our morning cups of sweet pour-over coffee. Probably the next best way to make coffee other than a french press. So one morning, in a pinch, I mixed together fresh coffee grounds and coconut oil and made a quick body scrub that ended up being so effective, I slathered it all over my face and my hair. (Those parts sans the coconut oil though.)

Turns out that I knew what I was doing! Coffee itself is incredibly high in antioxidants and free-radical fighting compounds and the grounds are no different. We know that coffee aids in preventing Alzheimer's and have a list of health benefits, but what does good inside your body also does good on the outside of your body. Caffeine works to firm up collagen, reduce cellulite, and brightens up the skin. The antioxidants are anti-aging and incredibly beneficial for the health of the skin. Plus, it's completely natural and chemical-free, especially if you buy organic or fair-trade coffee. 

So basically it's just: 1/4 cup of coffee grounds and 1/8 cup of coconut oil (or any oil of your preference) mixed together and applied to your skin. Rinse off and feel pretty. Play with the proportions until you get the consistency you want. I don't know how long it lasts really, so stick with making small batches.

In my research, I found other good uses for coffee grounds: 

  • Fertilizer for your plants and garden. It's high in nitrogen.
  • Increases shine in your hair. Just wash grounds in after shampooing and rinse out.
  • Fridge deodorizer. Just place a bowl of dry grounds in the fridge and let it hang out.
  • Pot and pan scrub. Just pile it on a thin rag and scrub.
So the next time I'm getting all bogged down with sweat and humidity, this coffee lover is all set. What do you do with your coffee grounds? And better yet, what's your solution for opening wine bottles without an opener? 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Santosha and Dragonflies

Hello, I'm Coriander Flax Miracle according to this Yogi Name Generator. I sound more like a powerful pooper mover than someone who can help you wrestle your head to your feet in Bow pose. Disclaimer: You're not supposed to wrest your body parts into position, but it sounds way more funny this way. I'm in the midst of my fourth week here in Austin. As everyone knows, time goes by so fast. I blinked and already I'm a good way into my yoga teacher training and I still feel so wholly unprepared to start instructing a roomful of yogis into position. 

However, life has been good to me lately. Though the universe has definitely thrown some curveballs at me thank you for the broken, dead hearing aid, I've been able to find the shining rays of sunshine that keeps me going on... like dragonflies.

If you believe in such things, I have a totem animal. Totem animals are creatures that you have extraordinary encounters with. I don't mean like a squirrel coming up to you and allowing you to pet him. Even just simple but meaningful eye contact counts. Back in the spring, I started running. (Oh by the way, I'm up to 30 minutes straight, I can call it running and not "running" anymore!) On one of my "runs," a dragonfly came up to me and started flying ahead of me. It would bob up and down, zig zag this way and that, but for the duration of the run, it just stayed right there, flying along with me. I wouldn't have thought anything of it if it weren't for a good friend of mine who was noticing some of her own totem animals and telling me about them. I went home and looked it up. This is what I found:

The dragonfly is generally associated with the symbolic meaning of transformation. Here are common meanings for this animal totem:
Change and transformation
Joy, lightness of being
Symbol of the realm of emotions, invitation to dive deeper into your feeling
Being on the lookout for illusions and deceits, whether are external or personal
Connection with nature’s spirits, fairies realms (Source)
I interpreted it as a sign that I'm about to go through a transformation both internally and externally, and it's true. If you found me from a year ago and said, "Hey, you're gonna be doing this and that and look, you're going to end up in Austin for yoga teacher training." I would've looked at you like you had three eyes. 

I was cheered by my find and started to pay attention. I noticed I would see a dragonfly in strange situations: the weirdest being when I decided to get down and do some yoga in a random laundromat and a dragonfly flew straight in and hung out until I was done. If that wasn't a giant billboard, I don't know what was. Then, I got to Austin and went for a run on Town Lake/Lady Bird Lake Trail I get people telling me both names so I'm calling it TLLBL Trail now. I looked up at one point and saw this cloud of giant dragonflies just zipping around, playing with each other. They might as well have spelt out "Hey girl, you're in the right place!" (For my Isola Bella friends, "Hey girl, I'm Ryan Gosling!")

So I'm diving in headfirst. In my training, I learned about santosha. It means contentment and finding satisfaction in the good things and all the non-good things. Upon further study, I discovered it also meant willingness to take risks. Who knew? Contentment equals being openminded. I would've never put the two together, but there it was, existing in this concept called santosha. I decided then and there, that was it, I had nothing to lose and never would. Instead, I'd have the whole world- no, the universe- to gain.

Even though it seems like you're not making progress or facing one struggle after another. The universe is constantly watching over you and sending you signs. All it takes is to be just aware at one moment, and you'll start finding out your truth at every turn. Whether it's through a totem animal or meeting the right person at the right time, open yourself up and find santosha.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Making Friends and Losing Them

There's an unspoken agreement among women and girls when it comes to friendship. It's kind of like "I give you one of my secrets and you give me one of yours and we'll see where this friendship can go." Females as a general are the more emotionally outspoken one. We barter with our feelings, trade secrets, place our emotional rants out on the table for everyone to examine. It can be freeing and it is very unguarded.

We're asking, "Can I trust you? Will you even out the playing field if I say or do this?" Before we know it, it becomes a therapy session over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. Everyone has a story to share, a tidbit to add, advice to give. Each one is from a different background with varying experiences, but it all comes down to one thing: sharing them.

You get lucky and you find the right person, that one friend that you just click with and your risk to trust her has paid off. Other times, you walk away with a sour taste in your mouth and a gaping feeling of vulnerability. You've realized that instead of listening, she was just waiting for her turn to talk. Your risk let your secrets out and now there's a person walking around with them.

I read an article a while ago about how a break-up between two close friends can be more detrimental to one's emotional health than a romantic break-up. After you break up, there's someone out there who knows everything about you- your confessions, your quirks, your bad habits and good- and she is no longer obligated to keep them in for you. They aren't gifts of friendship anymore. They are collateral or the spoils of war. They can be used against you, whether directly or indirectly. And don't forget the loss of what a best friend brings to life: support, love, a sound-board, a shoulder to cry on, a cheering voice of happiness, the knowledge that there is always someone there for you.

When you lose all of that, you lose a part of yourself. It isn't the norm to mourn that loss. It's not like the death of a loved one or a break-up with your significant other. There are rituals in place to deal with those kind of losses. Sitting shiva or eating a pint of ice cream. Allowance to mope in bed for a few days. But no one ever came up with a way to deal with the loss of a close friend. We're supposed to hate them and move on. Start all over again. Find a new best friend.

I had a term for a handful of friends in my life. I called them my Life-Support. Usually I just had one at a time. That one girl who I would go to for everything- every thought in my head, every fight I had with my family, every idea I wanted to try, every happy instance, every sad moment. I would contact her every day, say random stuff that would make sense to only her, and have several simultaneous conversations about various topics. We never needed a "break," and if we did somehow go a while without talking, we'd pick things up right where we left off.

I was lucky enough to never be without a Life-Support for a long period of time, until one friend. For reasons I still can't quite seem to explain, we blew up and stopped speaking to each other. That loss was heart-breaking and I have yet to get over it. Fortunately, since then I've had the privilege to meet fantastic, amazing women who I can never imagine my life without.

But it doesn't make the whole process any easier. In fact, it becomes more taxing over time. Our stories grow heavier, our confessions more contrite, our trial-therapy sessions more demanding. In some small ways, our desperation grows depending on the day, time, and situation. We all want to be liked, and we all want to be loved. We're looking for that Life-Support and as life goes on, friends are less easy to come by. It's not the pure innocent game of playing on the jungle gym anymore. We have busy lives and our own problems to deal with and all we're looking for is that kind face to smile at us and tell us it'll be okay when we need it.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Temporary Austinite

The Colorado River on my morning run

It's been a week since I've arrived in Austin and I've basically hit the ground running. Week one of Yoga Teacher Training is complete, my body hates me, but my mind wants more: "Moooaaaar!" That's a good thing right? My shoulders disagree.

So to fill up all of my non-yoga time and believe me, there's a lot of it, I've been trying to explore the city. It's large and slightly overwhelming. I am definitely not a city girl though the potential to become one is very, very good. I knew I would like Austin when I got here, but I didn't think I'd like it this much. To be honest, it just feels kind of normal to be here. Like Cinderella's foot in her slipper, I slipped right in. 

I'm a lover not a loner, though, and there's something to be said about the ease and comfort of good old friends you already know. While I've met so many amazing people so far, there's still the whole process of 'getting to know you, do I like you, will you like me, will we mesh or are we just different levels of weird that we'll never figure out a common ground?' and it's onerous. I'm not going to lie. Plus, I think that "re-joining" the hearing world has sent me for a loop. I feel somewhat spoiled that I've created a huge friend-family of deaf people and people who know ASL that when I go back to lip-reading and trying really hard to keep up with conversations in loud acoustically-unfriendly rooms, I'm lost. I don't know how I've managed to do this for so long before I discovered the deaf community and really, I can't remember how I did it.

I have faith though. Practically everyone is a transplant to Austin so they all have this general accepting vibe and willingness to help the newbies. It's pretty awesome because coming from a place where everyone knew each other for ages, I felt like I could start over. Try on different versions of myself and see what I like. No one's here to judge or to say, "That's not who you are." I'm making myself who I am and I like it so far. Plus, the rate of normalcy that people treat doing things alone is astounding. It's nice to not be gawked at so much.

I just keep telling myself, "Look, you got into a car with nothing but a bag to drive 22 hours all by yourself to go take Yoga Teacher Training at a school you've never even been to in a new city full of strangers. If you got this far, you have no choice but to go further."

"To be alive is the biggest fear humans have. Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive - the risk to be alive and express what we really are."
-The Four Agreements; Don Miguel Ruiz 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

In Case of Emergency: Om Namah Shivaya

What do Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Texas have in common? Besides being in the United States. 

Road, they have lots of road. Apparently, not everyone had the same idea as me this past couple days so I was basically on a free-and-clear highway until I ran into the macho truck idiots with nothing but the wind in my hair, the sweat on my back, and myself. And all that road.

So once the excitement of going off on my first road trip all by myself wore off, I needed something to distract myself from all the perfectly rational scary thoughts such as "Where am I sleeping tonight in the middle of nowhere?" and "Will I get abducted at this next rest stop?" and "Oh my god, this coffee shop is in the heart of the ghetto and I'm gonna get killed and they're going to interview my family and they'll say things like 'She just turned 25!' and 'She was on her way here to start a new life with yoga teacher training!'" I mean, seriously. My thoughts are sinister

Reading was clearly out of the question. And I couldn't call anyone because all I'd do was babble about how I was going to get kidnapped and raped or gush about the 85 bazillion gorgeous trees I saw in Kentucky. No one wants to hear that.

Then, my thoughts travelled to a mantra I found to help my boyfriend on his 50 mile bike ride. Om Gum Ganapataye Namaha. A mouthful, right? I found it because I thought he'd appreciate having a mantra to focus on when his mind went on autopilot. And if it can help us spiritually, all the better. I found a couple other mantras to work over in my head as I drove. When I found myself getting all worked up whether it was because of traffic or sudden rain or my own spooky thoughts, I returned to one of these mantras to help calm my mind and bring myself back to the present. After all, I'm in a car speeding along at 70+ MPH and there were those stupid macho truck drivers to watch out for.

It's not just for driving. I found myself using a couple of these to help soothe my nerves with my first yoga class for my training program. They helped center me enough to relax and go with the flow. And all that with just a few words? Amazing.

Om Gam Ganapataye Namaha
"Om and salutations to the remover of obstacles for which Gam is the seed." (Gam is the power sound of Ganesh.) This is a mantra for Ganesh, the elephant-headed god, who is known as the remover of obstacles. This mantra helps calm the chatter in your mind and grounds you. 

Om Namah Shivaya
"I honor the divinity within myself." This is a mantra to help boost your self-esteem. We have divine energy inside us and remember that in how we treat ourselves. When you are feeling less than whole, this reminds you that you are indeed perfect in its very definition.
I adore this one. It is a mantra to do with your breath. Your inhale makes the sound of "SOOO" and your exhale makes the sound of "HUMMM." It means you are the universe. There is a belief that when a person is born, he or she cries out, koham-koham- "Who am I?" The universe replies, soham-"You are the same as I." The Sanskirt origin this word comes from means "Self-Pride."

When you are feeling overwhelmed or losing control, chanting any of these mantras will help bring you out of that clutter. Will it solve life's problems? I believe with the right state of mind, it can.

Do you have a mantra you like to use? 

Things You Learn on a Road Trip To Austin

Lessons learned during my twenty hour drive to Austin:
  1. Stop at your boyfriend's place and spend two nights with him. Especially if his place cuts about two hours off your drive. And especially more so if there's an awesome outdoor rock climbing wall and an opportunity for a picnic.
  2. There are no toll roads even though Maps on my iPhone says there is. You lie, Apple, you lie.
  3. Cincinnati does have a very pretty skyline.
  4. Kentucky is surprisingly beautiful.
  5. Driving around the ghetto in Nashville looking for a coffee shop that claims to specialize in local and vegan goods only to find a rundown mechanic shop and a dive bar is scary. Maps was wrong however it redeemed itself by guiding me to the second coffee shop. You lie again, Apple, you lie again.
  6. But stopping in Nashville for coffee and cookies is worth it.
  7. People driving between Nashville and Memphis are stupid.
  8. Though Memphis is about halfway, the coffee and cookie you just had in Nashville will manage to keep you awake for another good four hours.
  9. If you don't like the first rest stop, keep going until you find one you like.
  10. When you're an abductable girl trying to go to the bathroom at a dark and nearly empty rest stop, running back and forth to your car is a good idea.
  11. Arkansas is kind of ugly but has very interesting attractions: Gangster Museum of America and Toltec Mounds State Park for example.
  12. You can drive for four hours in Texas and still be in Texas.
  13. You can run over turtles. 
  14. And it does not feel good.
  15. I'm sorry, beautiful turtle, rest in peace.
  16. You will come across two trucks having a macho standoff by refusing to let the other pass, backing traffic up for miles on a two-lane highway. Thanks guys, guess we all know whose dick is bigger now?
  17. Health Camp is a burger and shake place in Waco. Well done, Texas, I like your style.
  18. Texas has lots of land with nothing on it.
  19. I'm over this drive. Oh hey! I'm here. Alive and kicking.
Thank you all for your well-wishes, blessings, and Namastes. It meant so much to me to get all your love and positivity and I'm completely certain that is exactly why my drive was as easy as it was. Your words buoyed my car across the country! Now... for the hard part...

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Beginner-Beginner's Guide to Meditation

When it comes to meditation, I am nowhere near a source of authority. In fact, if there was a category that comes before beginner, you would find me residing squarely in it. However, since my whole life turned upside down at the beginning of the year, I was introduced to the idea of meditation, and moreover, I was introduced to the idea of meditation as a realistic and attainable thing to add to my life.

I'll be honest. It's hard. Your mind wanders. You have about eight million other things to worry about. You feel silly. You get interrupted. You have no clue what you're doing then you start wondering if you're doing it right. When I first meditated, I had no idea what to do. All I had were a few tips from people I knew and instructions to "make your mind blank" and to "be in the now."

Yeah, okay. Real helpful.

So here's my beginner-beginner's take on meditation: Start with the breathing. Breathe in, imagine your belly filling up with all that air, count to four, pause and hold for a hot second, then breathe out. Let the air expel out of your belly while counting to four or eight. Count 1. Repeat, and count up to twenty total breaths. By this time, your breathing should be more or less automatic. Your mind will wander and you'll start making a mental to-do list. Great! Your mind is calm enough that you can focus on organizing your day. Now, finish that thought and go back to your breathing.

Sometimes you'll see images, sometimes you'll have, like I wrote above, a mental to-do list. Sometimes you might meet someone- a person, or animal, or yourself. Do what feels right. Hold a conversation. Sometimes it's just darkness, so stare into it. Think about the positive in your life, liberate the negativity. Imagine each thought, negative or neutral, as a leaf falling out of a tree and landing in a stream just to float away from you. Release that thought.

Sometimes, particularly when driving on pilot, I get sucked into a trend of negative thoughts. I'll start acting out a scene in my head where terrible things happen, or I'll become acutely focused on a particularly dissenting theory. The next thing I know, I arrive to my destination steaming or depressed. Whomever I'm meeting doesn't deserve that. So I start a breathing meditation. While driving, I start to verbally note everything I see in my head. There's the lovely green grass. There's a beautiful pasture. There's a bright red mailbox. Sometimes, I'll invite my loved ones into my head like a friend or significant other, and we'll smile and breathe together. When you see someone you love smiling at you, you can't help but smile back, right? It works just as well even when you're just thinking about it.

If I consciously remove myself from the negativity during my drive, I arrive refreshed and renewed, and most of all happy which is a great deal better than arriving angry because of a scenario I basically made up in my head.

Another thing I find myself doing a lot recently, is a visualization I do during savasana, the Corpse pose, at the end of nearly every yoga session. I'm usually so loose, warm, and relaxed by this time that it's easy to free my mind. Deep belly breathing is automatic and I can clearly see my body in my mind's eye. When I breathe in, I imagine fresh and pure air free of negativity entering through every pore of my body. When I breathe out, I see the negativity and sadness in the form of grey smoke, pouring out of my body. With each breath, I watch the clear clean air fill up my body, forcing the smoke out until soon enough, there is no more grey smoke anymore. Now, my body is full of positivity and the negativity is expelled, allowing me to start my day over with a new attitude.

It really makes all the difference in the world. Before I started trying, visualization and clearing my mind wasn't worth my time. I wasn't open to it and moreover, I didn't think I'd be any good at it. My visualization skills sucked. I couldn't hold onto an image without having it disappear into the ether of my mind. Now, with practice, I can hold on to the image and work it to my advantage. My patience has increased and my willingness alongside it. There are days where I just can't get into it. I don't push myself. I move on and know there'll be another opportunity where I will succeed.

What are your tips and advice for meditation? Was it hard to begin? What did you do to persevere and find your way?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Beach Bums

I could quite literally turn into a beach bum if I was allowed but fortunately? there are a few people in my life who who *ahem* expects me to actually do something with my life. What a concept! But no, I'm glad that I'm being held accountable. If I actually ran away with my imagination, I'll likely end up flat broke with a faulty retro camper for which I've been completely ripped off and no friends. Thanks guys, for ensuring that I am not in above situation.

I can, however, pretend to be a functioning beach bum for one single weekend for my birthday. And that's exactly what I did. It did not unfortunately deter me from wishing I could be in above described situation because as woeful as it sounds, it has a certain romance to it. At the very least, it'd make a best-selling memoir.

A group of my dearest friends and myself scrambled for a spot at first-come-first-served beach campsite, Sara's Campground, in Erie, PA. Granted that it's a lake and not the crashing oceanside everyone usually envisions, it does not make it any less beautiful. And imagine, I finally saw the sun set over the waterfront of my childhood. Just the thought that I can experience something new with something I've known for my entire life gives me hope. Hope that life will constantly be changing when you're not looking.

Myself overlooking the strong men setting up camp - Sara's Campground on Lake Erie

Doing an extraordinarily good job of being a beach bum

The moon making its final goodbye over the calm tide in the dawn

I just want to say thank you to the universe for giving me an unforgettable experience and a beautiful way to celebrate my birthday with almost all my good friends. I've missed a few of you, sadly. However, there'll be many more birthdays and many more beachside bumming!

On a final note, can we just admire this fire pit we adorned with flat stones and finished off with a fancy little patio. I mean really, genius! That is, until we realized all the stones were keeping the air the fire needed to sustain itself, but it was nothing a few Jenga-style rock removal fixed!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

When You Just Suck at Running

So I've started running. Well, "running" is more like it. It's not real running like that 40+ lady with a few extra pounds you see on the trail just huffing and puffing by without stopping and before you know it, you see her coming back towards you still huffing and puffing and you wonder why, why in hell you can't last more than five minutes and she just outlasted you by an hour. Nothing like getting owned by the unexpected.

Anyway, I'm on the Couch to 5K program. Yes me, the fairly young, fairly fit girl who's about to take on eight solid weeks of yoga, yoga, yoga in an effort to become a certified instructor. I'm only on week, what, five? (I had to take a good long break during camp. No way in hell was I sacrificing my precious little sleep to stumble/run pathetically in front of not one, but two triathlon competitors.) And seriously, I am so freaking proud to finally reach the point where I can run a full five minute, albeit I am grateful for the walking intervals, not gonna lie. One day, one day, I'll run for a half hour straight and be a happy little clam. If clams had feet... and can wear running shoes.

In any case, if you're wondering why I'm telling you all this, it's to make you feel better. No really. Now you have no excuse not to get up and do whatever it was you've been thinking you should do. It could be running, hiking, biking, yoga (cough, cough,) rock climbing, swimming, whatever it is. I look like I'd be a fabulous runner, able to blast on by that 40+ lady, but no, she's the one leaving me behind in the dust. 

I don't have fancy running clothes. I basically throw on an old teal tank top from high school, a cheap bra, and whatever shorts I can move around in. My shoes are not fancy running shoes. They're ballet slipper style sneakers with velcro laces and barefoot sole technology. Not even Vibrams, just some knock-offs I found at Marshalls. (Seen on my feet in the picture below with my lovely boys on top of a mountain in Connecticut.) And I start slow. Couch to 5K have been such a huge help. In the beginning, even 90 seconds of running had me winded. Now I'm up to five minutes, and I'm still winded, but it takes longer now! The app for the iPhone is free. Just stick your earphones in, slap on some sunglasses so no one can identify your huffing puffing ass right away, and get going. 

One thing I do strongly recommend is stretching before and after. If you're like me, basically clueless about the general stretches, just think yoga! Yay! (You totally saw that coming.) DoYogaWithMe.com is an awesome site that provides free yoga videos of all kinds. I particularly love Fiji McAlpine's pre-and post-run yoga. I kind of slack on the pre-run one but definitely go for the post-run session every time. 

Can we discuss what an awesome name Fiji McAlpine is. I need a yoga name now.

Anyway, happy running or climbing or whatever it is you've been tempted to do. Both videos are below and guess what, your excuses? All gone. Poof! What's your "feel better" trick if you're feeling less than confident about yourself when you exercise? Share in the comments below. I know I definitely need more tricks up my sleeve for moments like this!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Yoga Tales of Discomfit

Embarrassing yoga stories. We all have them. My sweaty palms have betrayed me a few too many times. Come out, damned sweat, out! A reader and fellow yogi had her own tale of discomfit to offer up. Let's just say, turn off the television set, we have a wardrobe malfunction!

Ms. Kathryn of Kate's Spot:

Let me preface this by saying that I passionately love yoga. It is my most favorite form of exercise. Since I had my daughter, I have mostly been practicing on my own at home, but in the spring and summer of 2010 I was regularly attending evening classes at Lifesource in Fairlawn. A particular male instructor (Roger, or Robert I think?) offered a class that I just loved. Intense, challenging, and after a few weeks I really, really mastered it.

Now, I am not sure if you are familiar with Lifesource, but at the time it was a very popular studio. However, it was the size of your average suburban living room. And they never seemed to close the classes. We would literally be piled on top of each other to the point that it was probably almost dangerous. I made a point of getting there early for class so I could put myself kind of in the middle. Close enough so that I could still see, but not so close that I was right in front. The reason I did not want to be right in front was a particular guy in the class. When I first started going, he was there with his girlfriend, but at the time I stopped he was coming alone. Now, I am all about yoga classes being accepting and freeing and all that, but this guy took it a step too far. He would strip down to simply his short-shorts and was quite possibly the hairest man I have ever laid eyes on. And he would grunt and groan and sweat... It was unreal.

One Tuesday night I was running a little late. Too late to get my usual spot. So I was stuck in a corner. The mirror dead in front of me, the wall to my right, and on my left was sweaty, hairy, groany guy. The class was packed as usual, and we were just way, way too close. Now again, that is kind of a given in yoga and just kind of goes with the territory.

Then, I had to do Triangle pose. And I. Saw. Everything. That kind of pushed the limits for me! I was so freaked out that I never went back to that class. Like I said, yoga teaches you to be accepting and sweat and being a little close for comfort comes with the territory. But I was NOT prepared to get the full monty right in the middle of class!

Needless to say, Ms. Kathryn never went back to that particular studio again. The moral of the story? Make sure all your bouncy bits are securely strapped in, your seat is upright, your tray down, and enjoy your class!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Apology to My Body

I need to make an apology.

I'm sorry I overstretched you, my muscles. Now, you are on fire and my lower back is paying for the trouble as well.

I'm sorry I overfeed you, my stomach, now you're bloated and upset and barely fit under the waistband of my pants.

I'm sorry I underfeed you, my stomach, because then you're empty and growling and that leads to the overfeeding. (See: above comment.)

I'm sorry I overthink you, my brain, now all neurons are firing out the wrong holes and my thoughts lead me down scary and strange paths.

I'm sorry for neglecting you, my education, but I'm ready to be taught now.

I'm sorry I hate you, my body, because you get me up in the morning, you move me from point A to point B, you don't look half bad in my clothes (and out of them, sometimes,) and most of all, because you're the home for my heart and soul.

I'm sorry I grow frustrated with you, my heart, you love and love and love until you stretch too thin and break. Mending you is difficult but necessary.

I'm sorry I doubt you, my soul, because you make life worth living and help me find people worth loving and create purpose for my time on Earth.

I'm sorry for being a bad friend, my friends, but I make an awesome hermit. (Don't worry, I'll be back in fine form with wine and chocolate soon.)

I'm sorry for being so insane, my boyfriend, I'm still figuring out the happy middle ground as I'm sure you are too. I'll bear with you if you'll bear with me?

I'm sorry for being a bad daughter, my parents, for there is still so much to learn and so much to accept and I lack the wisdom to help me do so.

I'm sorry for being a bad sister, my sister, because I'm lost in my own world and I've decided it's a place I need to escape.

I'm sorry for being a bad aunt, my nephew, your tiny little toddler youth scares the crap out of me and half the time, I haven't a clue what to do with you. But I love how you always seem so damn happy to see me.

I'm sorry for not contributing to society yet, World, but I'm working on it.

As the title states, this began as an apology to my body for overworking it in sheer desperation and fear of my upcoming yoga teacher training classes. As I typed out my apologies, I realized I had so much more to apologize for. As I explored all the wrongs I've done, I felt a freeing feeling in letting it all out.

This is my apology to my body, myself, my loved ones, and the world. I'm sorry. I'm already starting to do better.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Arrrgh, What the Hell?!

I have these thoughts swirling around my head, like a giant vat of guilt. "You should be doing this." "You should be doing that." "You should be out running." "You should be cleaning." "You should be productive." "You should be better."

You should, you should, you should. 

And then I get to the point where I just want to crawl into a dark space, lie down, and cry. A lot. You know, ugly cry where your face gets all scrunched up and red and you make scary sounds. I want to give up. I feel hopeless and all the choices don't work. I doubt myself and second-guess myself so much to the point where I feel like every thought I have is a load of crap and that I don't know anything. That, even, I'm not fit to make a splash on the face of this earth.

Sometimes, I can't even trust myself. If I'm at a point where I feel like nothing is right and I fucked up too much, then clearly, I can't be trusted to make the right decisions. And you just want to rip out your hair and go, "Arrrrgh, what the hell!?"

What do you even do? Ride it out, wait for things to look up again? Go out and just change everything completely? Get into your car and leave everyone behind in the dust? How do you even know? What do you do when your internal barometer is so skewed you glance at it with the same wary eye you give your bathroom scale?

I wish I had an answer. Some sort of Indian mumbo jumbo full of Sanskrit words that float through the air like fizzy pop. But that only makes me crave aloo gobi.

I know. You're not supposed to give up. Keep striving for your goal. Failure is nothing but a good lesson. It makes you stronger. La la la la la. I would give anything to just know what I'm doing is right. My intuition is kaput. I'm swimming through Jello here and I can't see shit.

So.... Arrrgh, what the hell?! What do you do? How do you figure it out?

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

So Why Bother?

A few days ago, I was lying in bed just thinking about life. Thinking about what I chose to do with it, what I do differently from the majority of people out there, what I'm trying to work on both internally and externally. This one thought eeked its way into my head.

"Why do you even bother?"

I stopped and listened to that question. It felt like up until then, everything had been floating in bliss, searching their way through the ether of the universe and boosting me along. Then, the question popped into my head and it all dropped to the ground. Why do I bother being a vegetarian when almost everyone I know could care less, "likes meat too much," or thinks I'm a picky eater? Why do I bother with this spiritual journey, learning to be more mindful, and being more at peace with myself and others when they're all hollering at me and using me as target practice for their own misery? Why bother loving? It can fucking hurt sometimes. Why bother being there for people when you find yourself completely alone when you need company the most?

Why bother? What is my reason? This wasn't supposed to be easy. If it were, then everyone would be enlightened Buddhas stepping lightly around with a half-smile plastered across their faces. All of our gazes would be eternally soft as we live our lives in semi-meditation mode. Instead, we're stalking around with a scowl, bleating at people, and hurting our environment. 

There are philosophies meant to keep everything in focus such as Great Law of the Iroquois which implores you to think seven generations ahead for every action and decision you make. It's kind of scary to think that what you do right now can hold a lasting impact for the next 140 years. It certainly makes me feel better about the eco-friendliness of my vegetarian lifestyle. However, how does my spiritual growth right now affect any of these next seven generation? 

Granted, it can help make my life more bearable for my short time on Earth, but how important is it really? We're just tiny ants with heavy burdens on our backs and eventually we're going to get stepped on and disappear. I know it sounds depressing, but that's exactly where my thoughts wandered. And I know some of you are probably saying that mindfulness is all about not letting your mind wander down paths such as these. But my problem was, I needed to know. I needed to know why. Am I so important that I must be enlightened? Why do I deserve that? Why does it matter?

The only answer I could come up with was that it was just right to do. It's the right thing. Loving people even though I get hurt? They needed that love and I was the one to give it to them despite whatever happens. Being there for people? I can't not be there for them. I can feel their pain almost as purely as they do and all I want is to give them what I would want if I were in their situation. There aren't any other options.

So why do I bother? Because there are no other options. Selfishness isn't an option. Hiding isn't an option. Pain and suffering is a part of life and in a way, it reminds me that I'm doing the right thing. The least I can do is leave a trail of good where I go.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Notes on "Peace is Every Step" by Thich Nhat Hanh

My boyfriend gave me this book to read when he felt I needed it most. He was right. I needed it more than I thought. 

As I was reading it, quite a few quotes and phrases stood out so I thought I write them down. Maybe I was hoping that it would help ingrain them in my mind or that I'd have the sense to go back to it one day when I needed it again. Either way, I want to share them with you. 

Some of this are direct quotes and others are just paraphrases and interpretations of my own.

  • "Peace is in the present."
  • Smile. When you wake up, go through your day, and get ready to sleep. Always smile.
  • Think less. It allows us to let go of the sorrows of the past and the worries of the future. A significant amount of our thinking is an inefficient use of our energy.
  • Our senses are our windows. Opening them allows the whatever it is on the outside to come in and permeate us. Be mindful of what you choose to open your windows to.
  • Breathe mindfully wherever you are. "I am breathing in. I am breathing out."
  • You may move during sitting meditation as long as you do it slowly and attentively. This made me cheer, no more uncomfortable sleeping leg syndrome!
  • Meditation is not an escape from your problems.
  • Eat mindfully.
  • "Walk as if your feet are kissing the earth."
  • Wherever you go, there you are.
  • Drive consciously. Let each red light be a "bell" of mindfulness.
  • De-compartmentalize. Separation and avoidance causes distress and negative energy.
  • Coordinate your movements with your breath to feel less tired and increase awareness of your body and surroundings.
  • "Don't just do something, sit there!" 
  • Pragmatism, looking things with the intent of gaining something, inhibits your mindfulness. 
  • Art is acting in the moment.
  • Hope is an obstacle. Spend all your energy looking to the future, and you cannot be in the present.
  • "Simple practices like conscious breathing and smiling are very important. They can change our civilization."
  • Don't be angry at your anger. Then, you'll have two angers to worry about. 
  • Transform, do not let go or remove, the negative into a positive. Like anger into understanding.
  • The seeds of negativity must be addressed and transformed into positivity before you can confront the person who sowed them.
  • ""Suchness, the essence of particular characteristics of a thing or person, its true nature." Once you understand the suchness of a person, you can live peacefully and happily with that person."
  • "Most of us are victims of a kind of living that is not mindful."
  • "When we look at your parents with compassion, often we see that our parents are only victims who never had the chance to practice mindfulness."
  • Every seed of negative or positive emotion manifests more seeds. Anger produces more anger. Joy creates more joy.
  • "Each one of us needs a reserve of seeds that are beautiful, healthy, and strong enough to help us during difficult moments."
  • If you have a friend or loved one who makes you happy and feel better, invite her up into your consciousness and "breathe together."
  • We always focus on what is wrong when we should take the time to ask "What is not wrong?"
  • "We cannot resist loving another person when you really understand him or her."
  • "Anyone who made us suffer is undoubtedly suffering too."
  • Thoughts manifest words and actions. Having love in your heart brings about miracles through thoughts, and consequentially, words and actions.
  • Hugging meditation: Take a deep breath in and out to bring yourself to the present in the moment before a hug. While hugging, consciously breathe in and out three times. Your mindset with transform and your hug with take on a deeper, more powerful meaning.
  • Friends and community are investments in finding comfort in difficult times and having those with whom to share joy and happiness.
  • "Real strength is not in power, money, or weapons, but in deep, inner peace."
  • "The forests are our lungs outside of our bodies, just as the sun is our heart outside of our bodies." We must have "both" bodies to find our true self.
  • "Because we are so distant from our Mother Earth, we become sick."
  • If we seek peace, can we find it through loving, peaceful words?
  • "If we cannot smile, we cannot help other people smile."
  • "Peace is based on respect for life. Not only do we have to respect the lives of human beings, but we have to respect the lives of animals, vegetables, and minerals."
  • "I am your brother. I am your sister. We are all humankind, and our life is one."
  • Sometimes, we don't intend to hurt, but in lacking mindfulness and the skill of compassion, we can say hurtful words. Mindfulness helps us speak in a way that is loving and kind.
  • "When you see in yourself the wish that the other person stop suffering, that is a sign of real love."
  • What you are looking for is already in yourself. The clouds and river are one. You and your enemy are one. We are inter-being with each other, the world, and everything within. There is nothing to chase after.
Did any of these stand out to you? The bolded words and phrases were the one that struck me the most out of all my notes. They are either things that I adored or that I needed to become more mindful of. This is, by no means, a "Cliff's Note" of Peace is Every Step. If you have the chance to read it, do it, you'll be grateful you did.