Monthly Archives: April 2011

Let’s Get Together And Feel Alright

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Lately, a familiar face has been showing up at the studio where I teach.  This face is unlike the other hundreds of faces that come through our doors.  You see, this face belongs to a person from my past life.  Not in a Reincarnation kind of sense, but from a time in my life that was sticky and uncomfortable.  When I see this face a feeling of nervousness comes to the pit of my belly.  I am reminded of all the reasons why I don’t like this person.  And while I politely say ‘hello’ and ‘nice to see you,’ I’m really thinking “____________”{insert any number of not so nice thoughts here}.

I’ve typically seen him coming and going from other classes, but last night he was in my class.  He has an amazing practice.  A flow like water vinyasa, ujaii breath that carries the room, and he floats into challenging poses like a feather.  He has obviously been very disciplined about his practice.  It’s a beautiful thing to see.

After class, as I was mopping sweat puddles from the studio space he walks in and asks if he can talk to me.  I could see the nervousness in his eyes.  With gratitude I said, ‘of course.’  We chatted about the time in our lives when we knew each other.  About how we were both at a point of turbulence, which made it hard to see what was really going on with the other person.  He expressed how important my husband is to him – he and my hubby used to be very close friends -and how he would like to reconnect with my hubs.  As we both shared our apologies he ended with, ‘it sounds like we’re all better people now.’  How true.

Let's get together and feel alright

I left the studio, got into my car and immediately called my husband.  He was on his way home from a meeting that ran waaaay too late and he began telling me about how annoying the meeting was.  I stopped him mid-sentence and said, ‘Well then, I have some good news I would like to share with you.”  His mood changed from irritated to delighted in a matter of seconds.

This is what Yoga does for people!  Through the use of our body and our breath we learn to trust ourselves. Forgive ourselves.  As our practice grows we start to trust and forgive others. And through the practice we can then muster the courage to tell one another how sorry we are,  how much they mean to us, or how much we love them. I am so grateful for the opportunity to reconnect with this familiar face. Obviously, it was an encounter that needed to happen and Yoga made it so.

If Yoga had a tag-line I think this is what it would be:
Yoga.  Changing lives. Connecting people. For more than 5000 years.

Kicking Inspiration To The Curb

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It’s been awhile since my last post.  Sure, I’ve been busy, but to be honest I just haven’t felt like I have much to offer the blogosphere.  I’ve been waiting for inspiration. Waiting for something big to occur in my life that brought me an ‘A-ha’ moment which I could share with all of you.  Then, yesterday, it hit me “Inspiration is for amateurs.”

There is no need to wait for inspiration. Inspiration is NOW. Right now. In the little things that occur moment to moment.  We can spend our lives waiting, looking or searching for things that inspire us OR we can simply pay attention to the abundant inspiration all around.

Here are a few slices of the Now Inspiration Pie that I have tasted lately:
1. Looking up.  Look up and see the blue sky, clouds, stars or even rain falling on your face.  Look up and witness a masterpiece.
2. Children.  Thank you to the young children who have accompanied their parents to my classes in the past few weeks.  Thank you for showing the class that power yoga can be done without moans, groans and eye rolling.  Thank you for showing us all what Yoga and life are all about.
3.Fear. When I am fearful I have one of two choices – Do or Do Not.  It’s not often my choices are so clearly black and white.  Fear can sometimes be a relief.
4. Coming Together.  When individuals make a conscious effort to come together (in a yoga class, in a book club, in a Personal Revolution) our commonalities are vibrantly displayed.  There is a thread that connects us all like one massive Mala. When we allow ourselves to be open to this connection, it grows stronger.
5. Looking in the mirror.  Not just to check my make-up or fix my hair, but to lock eyes with myself.  Try it sometime.  You may be pleasantly surprised by who looks back.

Sustainability

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When I think of sustainability I think of  LEED certified buildings, CFLs,  composting, cloth diapers, rain barrels etc… That is – until this weekend.  Friday night I was enlighted to an entirely new way of looking at sustainability.  I had the pleasure of attending Gimme Shelter, a 3 day symposium on shelter and sustainability.  The Keynote speaker was Sarah Susanka, world renowned architect and author of The Not So Big series of books.

As I sat in the audience, prepared to hear about architecture and home design, my jaw hit the floor when Sarah began speaking about inner peace, living your truth and the power of the universe!  What?!  What does this have to do with solar voltaic panels and rain gardens???

The simple and profound message of Sarah’s lecture was that sustainability comes when we live our truth. As we live our  heart’s calling we are doing our part to bring the world to balance.  We are part of the universe, the universal, the divine.  As we succeed at inner peace the world succeeds.

The universe is billions of years old.  The evolution of the universe, much like that of the human race,  is based on what will keep it alive.   We are here to keep the universe alive.  Much like a tree holds and supports it’s own ecosystem (with bugs, fungus, birds etc) humans are a vital part to the universe’s ecosystem.  As we grow and thrive – not in size, but in purpose – so does the universe.

This concept is very easy for me to accept since I practice yoga.  I imagine if you’re reading this, it may be easy for you to understand as well.  Yoga is unity, divine connection to all that is and isn’t.  When we live from a center of inner peace, peace will enter our words, actions and thus, our environment. Inner peace=outer peace. We begin living within our means and recognizing that our choices effect much more than just our immediate surroundings.

As I wander down my yoga path I never stopped to recognize that through my personal growth and transformation I may be helping the world to sustain itself.   Sure I’ve seen major changes in my relationships, in my perceptions, in my attitude, but could these changes really be helping the world to thrive?? When we pause to consider that we are the world and the world is us then personal sustainability, Sarah’s message, becomes a major A-Ha moment.

May you see the world within yourself today.  Love it, nurture it and watch it grow.

PS – Sarah will be at Kripalu this summer and again in December sharing her sustainability message.  If you are able to attend it will be for your benefit and the world’s 🙂

Do You Agree?

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Henry Brown is a homeless man who makes his way into our neighborhood when the weather gets warm.  He asks for cans, pennies, and when I smoked, he asked for cigarettes.  Henry is addicted to heroin.   A few summers ago, when he came to our door asking for change,  he looked rough. Bus run over, cat dragged in kind of rough.  I offered to make him something to eat.

“Whatdoya got?” He asked.
“I could make you a sandwich” I said.
“What kind?” Henry asked.
“Peanut Butter and Jelly, ham and cheese, turkey and cheese…”
“I’ll take turkey.  What kind of bread you got?”
“Wheat.” I said.
“That’ll be alright”, said Henry.

As I walked inside to make Henry’s sandwich I  started to get pi$$ed off.  Here I was offering to make a homeless, drug addict a sandwich and he was asking 20 questions.  Certainly, he was asking waaaaay too much of me.  When I brought the sandwich to him he asked for a drink of water. ..And then for a sandwich bag to put his leftovers in…and for a quarter.

Seriously, Henry!?  Seriously??

…..

Present Day.

As I commit to personal and spiritual growth, I am reading The Four Agreements By Don Miguel Ruiz. The Four Agreements, as the dust jacket explains, “offer a powerful code of conduct that can rapidly transform our lives to a new experience of freedom, true happiness and love.”  The Four Agreements are: 1. Be impeccable with your word 2. Don’t take anything personally 3. Don’t make assumptions and 4. Always do your best.

As I read this book, I am reminded of  my experience with Henry. Here’s why:

1. I offered to make a hungry man something to eat.  If I truly cared enough about Henry to offer to make him food, I damn well have been prepared to make whatever he asked for. Otherwise, I shouldn’t have offered in the first place.  If I wasn’t willing to give this man my best, I should have kept my mouth shut. Had I been impeccable with my word, perhaps I would have said, “Henry, it looks as though you’re hungry.  May I make you a turkey sandwich?” Had I not assumed that Henry would jump at the chance to eat any old thing I threw on a plate, I wouldn’t have gotten upset about him asking for more.

2.  Henry was brave enough to ask for what he wanted, what he believed he deserved.  How many of us can claim that? Part of the Third Agreement – Don’t Make Assumptions- is having the courage to ask questions until you are clear about what you want, or what is being asked of you.
Clarity of communication ->  leads to no assumptions -> leads to less suffering.

3.  Who am I to deny or ration a hungry soul when I have the means to provide?  How greedy, thoughtless,  and unloving of me. Were I doing my best, I would have viewed making a sandwich for Henry as a gift, something to enjoy.  Sharing from one heart to another. Rather than a chore.

4. I obviously took this experience way too personally.  My ego told me I was better than Henry.  That whatever I had to offer him should be ‘good enough.’ When it appeared that Henry wanted more than I was willing to offer, I got angry.  I made the situation about ME, rather than seeing the situation for what it truly was.

Obviously, The Four Agreements is not only causing me to reflect on past experiences, but to live each day with the Agreements as my guide.  If you haven’t read this book I highly recommend you do.   If you have read it,  I would love to hear your thoughts.

The next time I see Henry I will offer him much more than a sandwich.  I will offer grace from one soul to another.

From my heart to yours,
Amber

Courtesy of Getty Images