Thursday, September 22, 2011

Fall Equinox - Taking Responsibility

Happy Equinox! It's hard to believe our precious Summer is officially over. (Luckily around here, we have what we call Indian Summer, so it's the one time of year we can count on a lot of sunshine). In the Celtic tradition, Fall Equinox is a time of celebrating the harvest while also reflecting back on all that has been created and how to use those creations.  This is perfect for me as I've begun a lot of inner reflection lately, looking at what I want to release and how I want to refine.

I've started doing some personal coaching with somebody who has a system and a style I really resonate with. This is awesome because I'm excited about clearing out some old habits and theories and stepping up more fully and powerfully in my life. And I love having support for this!

So one of the things we're working on is clarifying my dreams in several areas of my life. This has been a great process of putting the magnifying glass on how things actually are and why they're not a 10 and later we'll work on how I can step up to design my life as I want it. I think I've always been a self-starter and that's partly why I was attracted to yoga and meditation; because I could do it myself and help myself and empower myself. It's also why I love teaching and private sessions; because I love helping people help themselves and get empowered. I love giving people the tools they need to make a change and especially to find inner freedom. 

The other thing we're looking at is personal integrity, like being honest with oneself and others. Luckily, I've trained a lot in this over the years. It's another aspect of self-empowerment and an important part of yoga (Satya = truth or truthfulness and part of the code of ethics in yoga).  My time at Heartwood was so awesome in this way. I think it was there that I learned to "own" my feelings and to "take responsibility" for my actions and feelings, not that I've mastered it, but awareness is the first step!  My later training in Non-Violent Communication was another great tool set that helped me to distinguish my observations from my feelings and needs and again to take personal responsibility and not to blame others or situations for my feelings.  I've also been tuning into the tendency to complain.

So blaming and complaining have been on my radar lately.  I am not proud when I hear them coming out of my own mouth as it shows me I'm avoiding taking responsibility;  I may blame others, the weather, my body, my habits, etc. for why something isn't going the way I like.   It's like an excuse I don't even see until later that I didn't "own" my part.   And it's a way to get out of being completely honest.  Luckily,  I'm already recognizing these habits and catching them earlier in the process and often before they come out of my mouth.

Since my awareness is heightened around this, I'm easily triggered when others blame or complain at me.  It's no fun being blamed or whined at.  And I notice how hard it is for me not to get defensive in that moment, or even to want to blame them for blaming me!  I've gotten tested a few times lately and I can't say I've passed with flying colors, but I can certainly say that I've done my best (with room for improvement) and learned a lot, and that I'm fairly proud of my ability to use good communication skills.  Emails help for sure as they give me space to think.  I can write it and then let it steep for a while, edit again and then steep before another possible edit before sending.  Even better is sleeping on it. I am very committed to NOT sending anything impulsive.

This communication stuff and really knowing what is true is part of my karma yoga, the yoga of action and of service. I serve myself and others so much more when I'm honest with my feelings and needs and when I can share with kindness. My great practice is to breathe, to honor my truth, to not take it personally, and to speak from my heart with kindness and compassion for myself and for others.

Onward into the Fall!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Wonder of Play

- from my latest newsletter
Dear Yogis,

We've just returned from three great weekends of yoga and play: our annual Trinity River Retreat, a great workshop with Desiree Rumbaugh, and a super fun AcroYoga Intensive.

These events have sparked my intrigue about the spirit of play. What is it that makes an activity playful versus serious? Is it just the outer activity or is it how we approach the activity? I'm espec- ially interested in this now as I head from Summer into my more busy and focused season of Fall. How can I keep that playful spirit alive in these busier times?

I've definitely noticed I'm more likely to have fun when I'm with others, like in these Summer yoga events. It was a huge delight to use our bodies together in partner poses or celebrate each others explorations on the mat or in the river.

In the yoga teachings, play is known as lila, and it refers to the play of divine consciousness. The one big conscious energy (Shakti), freely and spontaneously creates all forms just for the play and the joy of it and ultimately, to know itself more fully. It plays by concealing and revealing itself to us like a cosmic game of hide- and-seek with the idea that each time there is revelation, there is greater knowing and greater wonder and joy.

And this sense of wonder or marvel (adbhuta), is an important ingredient in play. Young children model this perfectly when they get extremely fascinated in seemingly the most mundane things: an ant, a weed, a tire, a cloud. When we're in wonder, we're lighter and more expanded because we're free of attachment. The teachings tell us grown-ups to explore life in a similar way, like a big game; to remember emotions and situations are a play of energy that we can watch come and go with a sense of wonder and curiosity. When we can do this, we feel expanded and lighter, like when we play. It's when we get attached to our story as Me or My body or My beliefs, or My stuff, or how it Should be, that we get stuck in a state of contraction; life gets too serious and the wonder and lightness get lost.

So remembering to be curious, full of wonder, and free of attachments to outcome are keys to keeping life expansive and playful, even in serious times.

May your transition into Fall bring you great wonder and delight

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