The Lump

I was feeling burnt out on my way to the doctor’s office, I had been teaching a lot and I was feeling particularly cranky. I found myself shouting at drivers for being in my way and driving slowly and I knew that I wasn’t being my best.

I finally arrived to see my doctor for my yearly exam and I remember thinking to myself, “I really don’t want to have to step on the scale to see how much I weigh.”

When my doctor came in, we engaged in small talk as she started my “lady exam.” I was in the middle of talking about my honeymoon, when she stopped me mid-sentence and said, “I don’t like this lump right here.” My jaw fell open as she had me feel a lump deep in the side of my left breast. She then continued on with the rest of my exam in a very non-chalant way, while I laid there, stunned. I thought to myself, “did she just say I have a fucking lump in breast? Isn’t she going to console me or something?!”

I was told that I’d needed a mammogram and an ultrasound at another center. I asked if this would be covered by insurance and I was told that it would be.

I went back home and waited for a couple of hours for my appointment. I laid in bed staring at the ceiling wondering what would happen. My heart was racing as I pondered what it would be like to have breast cancer. I didn’t have any family history of it and I was in good health, but woman like me still can get cancer…

When I arrived at the medical facility, I was more nervous than ever. My breath had become short and my palms were beginning to sweat. When I was told how much everything would cost (I hadn’t hit my deductible), I then began to fall apart.

I was brought back in a room where I broke down and started crying. I just wanted someone to hold me as the two women in the room matter-of-factly explained the procedure. While the young 20-something twisted, squeezed and pushed my breast to fit in between two pieces of plastic, my cheek was also pressed up against a board and I was crying all over myself. In that moment, I felt completely humiliated and alone. I was sad and scared, I felt like a child, I just wanted someone (ANYONE!) to hug me and tell me it’d be okay.

After my mammogram, I was taken to an empty room where I had no cell service. I wanted to call my mom. I sat there for 25 minutes. In that time, my mind went to the darkest places. I thought about what it would be like to lose my hair, to lose my breast. I thought about what it would be like to die and all the pain I would experience before that. I thought about how everyone would move on after I died, my husband would find someone else. I thought about how I wouldn’t be able to follow through with my retreat in Costa Rica, how I’d have to give up on my dream to go to Bali next year. Who would take my cats? No one would love them as much as I do. This can’t be happening, my life is just getting started.

I finally was taken into another room for my ultrasound. If you’ve never had this or a mammogram done, they’re not comfortable. There’s a lot of pressure put on your breast from all angles and if you don’t have breasts, trust me, that’s painful. I kept trying to catch a glimpse of the screen and I didn’t know what I was looking at. The woman who did the exam hardly said a word to me and it felt cold, the sadness I felt hurt my heart.

When she finished, my pictures were sent up to the radiologist and we sat in silence together, waiting. I asked God to be there with me, to hold me. I brought my attention back to my breath and tried to slow it down. “I’m thankful for this breath” I thought over and over.

As it turns out, I just have dense and lumpy breast tissue, not the sexiest prognosis, but it felt like a gift! I started to cry even more, now from a place of joy. I held my breast and took deep breaths. On my way home, I kept repeating, “Thank you for my life, thank you for my life.” When someone cut me off on the highway (which I was just getting upset about earlier that morning) I just scoffed, “It doesn’t even matter. THAT doesn’t matter. So many things that I get upset about DON’T MATTER. My life MATTERS, my family and friends MATTER, being nice MATTERS. I see more clearly now what’s really important and I’m grateful for this health scare so I can see MORE with my heart and less with my head.

Moral of the story: ladies, check ya breasts and don’t wait until you might be dying to get clear about what’s important. The scale doesn’t matter, followers/likes don’t matter, having lots of money doesn’t matter (and this is coming from someone who makes minimum wage as a yoga teacher;). Your life matters, your life is a gift. You are a gift.

The Idea of “Should”

should/verb

  1. 1.used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions.”he should have been careful”

It’s just an idea, right? A concept? A word in the dictionary? I’m not sure what sparked my interest in how “should” or “shouldn’t” plays a role in my life, but it crosses my mind daily now.

A couple of months ago, I had come back from vacation and had planned to go to a 3-day yoga workshop a couple days later. The person who was hosting the workshop (an acquaintance) was from out of town and I had told them that I would attend. The first day of the workshop rolled around and I was feeling a lot resistance towards going. I was still tired from my trip and I was feeling low on cash. I started to feel my inner body begin to clench, this workshop was feeling like a chore. I couldn’t figure out why I was experiencing so much dis-ease. I decided that I wouldn’t go to the first day and I’d go the second. Day two rolled around, I didn’t go, day three…you get the idea. I felt like I had bailed. I felt guilty. I felt unreliable. I felt like a bad student. But, BUT–I didn’t want to go! 

Then it hit me! I didn’t want to go and that’s ok. It’s ok to not do things that you don’t want to do AND you don’t have to explain yourself to ANYONE. I had this idea in my head that I “should” go, I was “supposed” to go and because I didn’t follow this story I had created in my head, I felt guilty. That’s when I started to look deeper at the idea of SHOULD. Many of us see and feel SHOULD in our whole being as belief! A Truth. 

I think we all have a different relationship with SHOULD. A lot of people do things or say things according to what they believe they SHOULD or SHOULDN’T do. They lose their authenticity and the opportunity to get to know who they are and what they want because of these beliefs, most have been raised with. For example, “I shouldn’t eat any more”, “My body should look a certain way”, “I shouldn’t act like that” OR “I should go to that yoga workshop”. However you look at it, they all disconnect us from the harmonious state of BEING, from the birthright that we all have to be as we are. Exactly as we are. Unapologetically. SHOULD is actually COULD, not some invisible force from the universe putting moral pressure on us to stray a certain way. The “pressure” is imaginary, made up in our heads.

Because I have a natural rebellious side to me, I don’t usually do things that I don’t want to do, BUT as I mentioned before, I do feel guilty. The guilt was what weighed heavy on me. I felt guilty for not doing things that I believed I SHOULD do and man was that getting old!

I’ve become very familiar with the feeling of guilt over the years and now that I know where it stems from–>SHOULD. I have been working to rewire my relationship to it. Now when I come across something that I don’t want to do or support, I recognize that nagging “but you should! Society/your friends expect you to!” belief, and I choose to believe something different. I choose to believe that it’s my life and I can do what I want to do and not do what I don’t want to do. It’s really that simple! Not to say that I don’t struggle with it anymore, but I know I don’t want to live my life based off beliefs that make me feel like crap (to any extent!). You will probably disappoint people along the way but at the end of the day, whose beliefs do you want to live up to? YOU can create your own world of COULD and it’s allowed to change an evolve just like you do. SHOULD is just a box of black and white suffering that will keep us feeling claustrophobic in our own minds and hearts with no hope of expansion. 

We obviously need to practice love and common sense while breaking free from the chains of SHOULD or we could get ourselves into trouble depending on the situation, but I hope that we can all start small and enjoy the freedom of BEING. Ask yourself, “Do I feel like I *have* to do this or am I choosing to intentionally?” And if you feel like you *have* to do something, will you give yourself permission to do something else? Something you *want* to do?

30 Sober Days of Meditation

Week 1 Update:

1/19/18

Day 7, I made it, phew! I’ve been wanting to write a blog post on this particular experiment for a long time. And I don’t want to simply label this as an “experiment” because it’s so much more than that. This is the first time, in a LONG time, that I’ve really challenged myself…to say NO to something that I always say YES to and to commit to sitting still for at least 15 minutes a day. This can only change me for the better, right? And I’m ready to change, I’m ready to grow and expand in a meaningful way.

This blog idea has probably been on my mind for at least year and I kept coming up with excuses not to do it…I had a party coming up or a show or I was bored and wanted some wine. Something interesting that I’ve noticed this week is the panic that I experience around saying no to an ingrained habit. There’s almost a sense of dread when saying no to something that you always, ALWAYS, A L W A Y S say yes to. Exploring that gap, that dreaded gap, I believe, is the space where we have the power to make huge, sweeping changes in our lives. I’ve never had the courage to explore it until now…

Sitting has been easier for me, as I have years of experience with it and have done it for hours at a time. The tricky thing is…I’ve never done it for 30 days straight because I always let myself off the hook. It’s not that I forget, I just choose to get lazy. I watch Netflix instead (usually with wine;) or just say that I don’t want to do it. One of the things that I love about a consistent meditation practice is how sharp my focus and attention becomes and it’s certainly something that I’ve been enjoying the last couple days. This combined with not drinking has definitely cleared up my thinking, I’ve become noticeably more patient and perhaps the biggest place that I notice a difference is, is in my teaching. There are intelligent and philosophical words and thoughts flowing out of my mouth and I’m not really sure where they came from. When I put my hands on my student’s bodies, I feel as if I’m able to mold and hold them with just the right amount of pressure and in just the right way. I feel as if my ability to read my students has helped me to care for an nurture them in a way that feels honest and genuine. Everything feels more…potent.

Next Friday, I leave for Oakland for 10 days to start my 300-hour training with Annie Carpenter. I’m scared, nervous and excited about the rigorous schedule and also what I might learn about myself, what sort of depth I may uncover. I *knew* that I had to be sober for this training, I knew that I had to give this everything I possibly could because it is such a privilege to study with someone that I look up to in a million different ways. I’m also scared, nervous and excited for 7 another days of saying no to my habit and saying yes to unearthing another layer of my sanity.

Until next Friday, I can’t wait to update you…

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Week 2 Update:

1/26/18

I just arrived in Oakland and feeling eager to start my training tomorrow. I must say, week 2 of this 30-day challenge has been noticeably easier than week 1. The first week was hard, breaking habits is hard. I felt left out in a hand full of situations where people were drinking. I looked at them longingly as they appeared to “loosen up” and relax. I craved sugar and ate as much as I could get my hands on. I felt annoyed that I had put myself in this situation, that I had made this commitment for the sake of a blog post.

All the while, I was experiencing some pretty awesome changes in my teaching, my focus had become more dialed in, I felt overall “more sensitive”. I dunno…something was happening, but I was kind of vague on what.

This last week was better, saying “no” to drinking became easier. I started to question my cravings more (which are decreasing in intensity) and have been trying to use this new clarity of mind to contemplate my relationship with alcohol (Why do I do it? How will I feel physically and emotionally about it at the end of this 30 days? Will I drink less?). The sugar cravings are still there, but also becoming less loud, less physical.

I’ve really enjoyed sitting lately, I can tell that my ability to explore the spacious gap between my thoughts is becoming more and more attainable. The gap is growing. I’ve been experiencing my feelings more intensely, they more refined- like I’m able to describe them with laser-sharp detail, I’m able to assimilate them with a more fine-toothed comb.

Tomorrow begins a very physically (and I’m sure emotionally) arduous journey. “No expectations” is my mantra…easier said than done.

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Week 3 Update:

2/2/18

As I expected, this training is by far the hardest thing that I’ve ever done physically. And because I’m edging up to my physical boundaries, I’m starting to feel the effects emotionally. I come home every night feeling like a I had a “really long day at work” and the desire to reward myself is definitely there. I feel like I just want to relax a little bit knowing that I’ll have to endure something just as challenging the next day.

All in all though, I’m not around people who are drinking, which is always helpful. In an effort to get 8 or 9 hours of sleep, I’m trying to go to sleep around 10pm and I’m seeing that my ability to sleep through the night and wake up with more ease has improved immensely. I feel like good quality sleep is so underrated and I’ll definitely have to take into account whether this is worth losing to just “relax a little” the night before.

In this particular training, our focus is on really getting clear about how to do asana safely, which means long holds in poses while making small adjustments to ultimately make the spine “happy”. This is a test of endurance unlike what I’m used to. THIS is where I’ve noticed my mediation practice come into play the most. When I feel my body fatiguing, when I feel my muscles shaking– that’s when I use my mind training practice, that’s when I steady my gaze, soften my eyes, allow the breath to flow with more ease and find just an overall sense of becoming more relaxed form the inside out.

After week 3, I am truly proud of myself. I feel empowered knowing that I’m capable of saying “no” and also of creating and maintaining healthy habits. The changes I’m noticing are becoming less loud and more subtle. I’m not sure if I’ll have any big breakthroughs in the next week, but I sure am going to try and keep an open mind about it all.

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Week 4 Update:

2/10/18

Day 29! I never thought this day would come. I feel a new sense of self-control and self-awareness that was well worth the work and the wait. This week has been tempting since I’ve come home and found myself back in situations where I need to say “no” to social drinking. I’ve found this week difficult to sit as I’ve been experiencing a little bit more stress than normal; I’ve found it difficult, actually DAUNTING to sit with my anxiety and I have done more Yoga Nidra instead of actual sitting meditation.

One thing I’ve noticed about week four is that I find I’m able to connect to my inner child more! I’ve found myself being more silly, the kind of silly that I would expect from myself when I’m drinking. I actually joked and said, “I think I’m getting sympathy drunk with you guys” because I really felt like I was letting go in that way! The one difference though is that I was more aware of my words, my filter was still in tact;)

During week 4, I also have begun to see changes in my body, extra “stuff” seems to be melting away and I feel overall lighter and more agile.

I am rewarding myself (for completing my training and these 30 days) with 10-day supergreens Purium cleanse, which I’ll begin on Monday. I’ll be continuing on alcohol-free for another10 days for my very first cleanse EVER. I’m nervous and excited, but I know if I can do everything that I’ve done over the last month, I can do anything.

Thanks for taking part of my journey!

 

Unrealistic Expectations

The last year has been full of doubt and uncertainty in my own craft. I’ve been teaching yoga and barre full-time for nine years and I’ve felt far less sure and confident of myself today than I did in the beginning.

In a world where our worth as a yoga/fitness teacher seems dependent on class numbers, high amounts of followers and likes and publicly-available Classpass and Google reviews, I have felt like I can’t compete. I’m not a competitive person and I never have been. I feel the pressure to be something extraordinary, to become a celebrity, to get people’s attention and have them care about me and praise me. I see the efforts that others in my community put into their social media and a sense of failure immediately fills my being. Everyone *seems* to have a professional photographer with them at all times, has unsurmountable inspiration and motivation while sporting the newest gear, the most perfect hair and a perfectly toned body to match.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “are you just jealous?”

Hell yes I’ve experienced jealousy! And doubt. And inadequacy. And envy. I also want to acknowledge the incredible amount of work that my community members put into building their brand. I’ve racked my brain trying to figure out how I might do the same, where I can take a visually-appealing yoga picture, how I can get people look at me and pay attention to me so that I might have bigger classes and amazing reviews and more followers because…society says that matters…

I finally realized, after reading The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson, that my standards are way too high. They’re unrealistic and feel disingenuous. The goal of yoga and meditation is about releasing our attachment to the ego, about letting go of our identity, our need to be seen and heard and admired and noticed. THAT makes sense to me. That feels like an honest and attainable goal. No doubt it requires an immense amount of work and focus (like becoming a yoga/fitness celebrity), but *this* goal actually makes my heart light up with excitement. My merits for success have been unattainable and I needed to change my perspective to something that does feel authentic and something that I have control over right now:

I can be present for my students. I can drop the overly-cheery welcomes when they walk through the doors and be calm, and hold eye contact and listen with my whole body when catching up on what’s been going on. I don’t have to put on a show during class and embellish my personality, I can give thoughtful and individualized cues and smile with gratitude for their presence in my life. I can give them adjustments with love and care and also give them space to have their own experience instead of trying to coddle them to ensure that they’re having a good time (and maybe give me a good review).

Being authentic and present in my classes would be a massive success, in fact I feel silly now thinking that I ever needed to be more. And sure, there are teachers who can be authentic and present and also be a yoga/fitness celebrity and that’s great for them. But if I can just show up and create a safe and comfortable space for people to have a present moment experience, then I would feel as though I’ve contributed positively to my community.

I wish I had realized this all sooner. In this day and age, in this society, it’s not as easy as it seems to just “be yourself”. Simple, yes. Easy, no. It’s obvious that part of our job as yoga/fitness teachers is to be likeable, if you’re not, students don’t come. Being myself unfortunately does not mean that I will build my class numbers, it won’t get me more Instagram followers (in fact, my numbers seem to drop the most when I think I’m posting something “epic”) and it might not get me better ratings online. BUT…but…it’s the only thing that I know I can actually live up to.

Right now, just simply being myself is the only standard of success that I can honestly strive towards.  I don’t have a grandiose personality, I probably don’t teach the most amazingly creative flows, I don’t have any pretty pictures to post on social media and I won’t tell you that everything is “love and light”. I can give it to you straight, I want to be able to talk about the imperfections of my humanity without being ashamed. I can only live up to being ordinary. I don’t work out every day. I sleep a lot. I overindulge. I fall off the wagon. I get back on the wagon and feel like I have things figured out and then fall off again. I set goals. I fail. Sometimes I am myself and people respond well. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes I clean my house. Lots of times I don’t. I experience insecurity about my personality, my body, my hair. my food, my mind, my choices. Sometimes I experience so much anxiety about teaching, about showing up perfectly and making people like me that I can’t even show up for my class. I’ve made myself sick trying to live up to these unrealistic standards.

So here I am, an ordinary woman, with ordinary goals. And I happen to teach yoga. I won’t try to drop esoteric spiritual knowledge on you, I’m not special and I don’t know things that you don’t know. I’m just an average person. All I can commit to is being present with my classes. I can’t think of anything more rewarding or satisfying.

Staying A Step Ahead

Last month I completed my Yoga Nidra training with Jeremy Wolf. Yoga Nidra, or yoga sleep/conscious sleeping, takes practitioners into deeper levels of relaxation where we can release the seeds of tension that keep us hooked in our neurotic thought patterns, habits and behaviors. In these deeper states of relaxation, we can also shed the layers of identification that keep us separate from each other and the from source of our creation: awareness, consciousness, God, Divine Grace, Source or whatever you want to call it. So much of the practice is about observing our current experience without investing in it, without projecting our judgement, preferences, opinions, stories or drama onto it. Essentially, without creating a problem out of what is coming up.

During the training, we did three Nidra sessions a day and since then, I’ve been doing them almost nightly before bed (although you can do it first thing in the morning or in the middle of the day as a reboot). More than any other time in my life, I’ve been practicing observing my immediate experience without creating a story or a drama around it. Certainly, this has not been a perfect practice (hence the word “practice”), but it’s drawn so much attention and awareness toward how often I twist and contort the stories in my mind about a situation or another person into senseless mental loops that get me into trouble, creating mental tension either with myself or with someone else .

Working to stay ahead of the drama is applicable in any situation, whether you’re just sitting around hypothesizing about something awful that might happen or if you’re on your yoga mat fully identifying with mental/physical angst and declaring it as Truth. I have found this theme to be extremely potent while teaching any Hatha style of yoga because for most people, including myself, we when we feel INTENSE sensation in our body, alarm bells go off in our mind and the mind begins to spin a manic story around the experience that the temporary body is having. What if we could take a step back and experience sensation of the temporary body, as the eternal witness; that piece of us that is in the background taking in information neutrally and intelligently. That piece of us that, if you subscribe to reincarnation ideology, sticks around after the physical body dies.

As mentioned, I am nowhere near mastering the role of the eternal witness. I still create stories in my mind, react to them, and then later see the insanity of my words/actions and regret them. Thankfully, I’ve come to the point in my spiritual practice where I can forgive myself on the spot (mostly). I understand that my sacred goals are going to be lifelong practices, that I am having a human experience for the next however many years and all I can do is lovingly try my best to evolve and wake up.

If you’re experiencing drama in your life, in a relationship, at work, with a behavior or a habit, I invite you to try. Join me and many others on this road of the witness. Perhaps we will find that we have far more in common that we knew.

 

The Stories That I Tell Myself

I’ve been reading a book lately about the stories that we tell ourselves. The stories we lead our lives off of and make important decisions from. The stories that, for the most part have no truth to them. The stories that I tell myself are crushing and have broken me completely. The stories that I tell myself have led to self-destructive behavior with the intention of sabotaging anything good. I decided to finally write a list of the stories that I listen to way too often and share them.  Not to have anyone say, “oh no, that’s not true!” or to have anyone pity me. We all live under the weight of and suffer from our stories, I thought that if I put mine out there that someone, even just one person would see that they are not alone. Our stories, as fucked up and twisted as they are, are not the truth. I know deep down that they can be dropped…I haven’t figured it all out yet, but I’m on an active journey…

The stories that I tell myself:

I am burden to everyone in my life

I work in a career field that is way too saturated to ever make anything of myself

I am a poor loser who can’t afford to participate in the world

My family judges me, doesn’t take me seriously or listen to me

My body is disgusting

I have no energy and I will always feel like shit

There is something wrong with me and everybody knows it

No matter how hard I try, I will always just be average

No one understands me

I’m incapable of feeling balanced

I don’t deserve to be loved

 

I’m not really concerned with shocking anyone with this post because I know that everyone in the world operates on contorted and inaccurate fantasies about themselves. My stories interfere with my job, my relationships, my drive and motivation. Like I said, I haven’t figured out how to drop them completely yet, but it’s on my radar, right in front of me. It’s hard to let go of these intangible grips that I’m so used to surrendering to and bowing down to, but I know it’s necessary for my own sanity. It’s necessary for all of our sanity.

grieve_alone_myth

It’s Been a Year…

Today marks a year since I’ve been back in Colorado. A year ago, I was completely broken. I was reeling from the betrayal of someone that I thought that I knew. I had no money, no car and I was living with my parents. I felt the lowest that I had ever felt and I didn’t know how to pick up the pieces.

It’s been a year since I was paralyzed with sadness and grief over the loss of my life in California, I was hopeless. Fast-forward a year, I am thriving and feeling abundant. I feel a sense of being whole and having purpose and I see the deep thread of connection between my past and my present. It was all necessary.

My recovery began almost immediately, but I got lost in the throes of despair many times along the way. Over the past year I’ve experienced tons of anger towards this certain someone. During these times, I went through deep bouts of depression that I thought would go on for forever. I pushed people away, I didn’t go out, I lost hope, I got it back, I lost it again…it seemed like a never-ending cycle of up and down. Throughout the last year, I’ve felt more unstable and stable than ever.

Back to my recovery, my parents really showed up for me. They helped me buy a new car, made sure that I had everything I needed to maintain my then vegan, gluten-free diet and let me come and go as I pleased. I felt free and supported and for that I am eternally grateful.

I met an amazing man soon after my return. I didn’t think that I was ready to open up and I didn’t think that I would be for a longggg, long time. He was ready to deal with my emotional baggage. He gave me space to grieve and only interacted with me from a place to love and patience. He never judged me, he never held my sometimes poor behavior against me and offered me support and space whenever I needed it. It took months for me to let him really love me the way that I always wanted, I’m so glad he waited. He is my yoga partner, my music partner, hiking partner, cooking partner, my co-creator of brilliant ideas—he makes me feel alive and because of him I am so much kinder and more thoughtful. On August 11th, we will be co-teaching and co-DJing a yoga class on a rooftop in downtown Denver during the sunset. More details to come:)

Almost immediately, I was offered a full-time teaching opportunity at my old studio. I have been supported in ways that I could have never have dreamed of by my bosses and have been able to dive back into teaching students who I’ve known for years, students who were present during my conception as a yoga and fitness instructor. I feel so deeply rooted in and connected to my community of students and teachers and I couldn’t imagine more amazing people to spend my days with. I am also in the planning stages of leading my first solo yoga retreat in Feb 2017 in Roatan, Honduras. More details to come:)

The thing that really helped me come to a place of feeling like I could fully move on was going to therapy. I’ve found someone that I’ve been able to unload on, someone who is unbiased and can help me see my patterns and other perspectives. Having the space to speak freely, to emote and to ask for help has been so healing. Going to therapy has allowed me to want to communicate more with my parents, my partner and my friends and articulate my thoughts and feelings more honestly and clearly. I have seen and felt a huge shift in my relationships and it feels really good to be more connected to people.

Hitting rock bottom is fucking hard. But I know that it was completely necessary to find myself where I am. Now when I experience lows in my life, I know that they are temporary, I know that I am supported. I mean I knew this stuff before, but I didn’t really know it in a way where I could intelligently apply it to my life. I am stronger now and I finally feel like I’m in a place where I can support others wholeheartedly. I am a survivor and I’m ready to pay it forward.

survivor

My First Festival

Last week I went to my first music/yoga festival, Sonic Bloom. It was important not only because it was a first, but I taught a yoga class there. Teaching at a festival was always something that I wanted to do, but it seemed so out of reach. Fear and doubt told me that I wasn’t “good enough” to ever pull something like that off, I just assumed it was for those “other” teachers that had something that I didn’t.

I applied to teach, with my partner as my DJ and we were accepted. We had put together an amazing set, the music was supposed to really set the tone for our class that centered on connecting to Svadhisthana, the Sacral Chakra.

The four days that led up to us teaching, were some of the most transformative. We were surrounded by motivated, creative, intelligent people who were on a journey to consciousness, just like us. Everyone was ready and willing to lend a hand, they acknowledged our presence with a wave, a smile or a simple, “hello.” There wasn’t any drama. As someone whose been slowly making their way out of a year-long hermitage, this was initially uncomfortable for me. It was uncomfortable to be seen, to have people look at me with such open hearts and curiosity. People that I didn’t even know were giving me hugs and telling me their life stories, it was out-of-the-ordinary to say the least.

Another thing that I noticed was, being around 6,000 people, I came up against a lot of judgment, doubt and comparison. It was interesting to watch all of this go on in my mind and making conscious decisions to let it go, it felt good. I couldn’t believe how easy it became, I couldn’t believe how much was shifting in me and how many walls and boundaries in my heart and mind that I was able to let go of. It was so inspiring to be around people that appeared far more comfortable being their authentic selves than I’ve ever been and to watch other yoga instructors connect to their students and really move them physically and emotionally. People weren’t there just to party, they were there to grow; there were classes on permaculture, politics, painting, energy dynamics, sexual consciousness, belly dancing, etc. I was surrounded by people who had discovered their strengths through personal and social connections and were using that knowledge to help change the world for the better. I felt like I was buzzing, I was feeding off of them and saw that I hadn’t been showing up in my life as my best for a while. I became very clear about where I want to go with my career, and also how I want to show up for my friends and my family. I left realizing that I truly want to do every moment well and I am fully capable of doing that. How I let so much fear and doubt creep into my life I’m not sure, but I felt and still feel done with it and am ready to take charge of my life.

It finally came time to teach my class: Sonic Flow. Again, the music was supposed to drive the feel and flow of the class. When we arrived to teach, we found out that the generator for the tent we were teaching in had just broken. No music. And no mic to talk over the bass music stage right next to us with blaring music. I experienced such an intense moment of resistance, anger, bewilderment, shock, denial—I mean you name it, the whole works. All I wanted to do was run away. It took me a minute to come to grips with the fact that there was nothing I could do about it, I had to drop the attachment to my emotions and put on a happy face. I had to teach and give the people ready to take my class my best effort.

Through my nervousness, I ended up teaching a class that I was really proud of, given the circumstances. I felt genuinely connected to the people in class and they were so graciously receptive. I was buzzing again, but in a different way. I was buzzing because I discovered that I was capable of dropping really difficult emotions that seemed to be taking over my entire being. I had felt so intensely upset and I felt so empowered by the fact that I was able to drop it completely, on the spot. It was a moment of realizing that I am more capable and more powerful than I ever knew. I will never forget that.

I also want to give a shout-out to Artisan Jones, he handled himself so well when finding out that he wouldn’t be able to play the set that he had put so much time and energy into. I was so inspired by his ability to accept the bad news with grace and support me in teaching the class.

Since being back, I’ve felt almost like a hyper-engagement with my life. I’ve been practicing doing each moment well, the best that I can and it’s brought a sense of purpose to everything that I do. I feel different, I feel lighter and I’ve been letting shit go like a motherfucker. I didn’t realize it could be so easy. All I want to do, is share this shift with my friends and with my students. I want to help people in their journey of letting go and freeing up more energy to be in the moment. I am eternally grateful for my time at Sonic Bloom. I danced for 4 days without a shower, I left hairy and dirty and feeling so alive and open. I grew in my relationship with myself and also with my partner. We became closer than ever during our time together and I can’t wait to change the world with him as we discover our fullest potential. See you on the mat!

Namaste.

13524524_10101471963859842_8056311947077768068_nI was shaking with nervousness when I started class with meditation.

13569833_10101480921872912_748717090_oArtisan Jones practicing our set in the midst of the festival in the back of his truck. We will be unveiling our class at the end of July with both of us co-teaching/co-DJing! Stay tuned…

 

Heart Chakra Melt Down

I’ve been doing a series of classes over the last few weeks on the chakras. It’s been a couple of years since I’ve taught these classes and I’m not the same person anymore. Teaching these classes has held up a mirror to the many ways that I need to work on myself. It’s brought both clarity and anxiety. This series is not only a journey for my students, but also for myself.

In week one, we broke down the root chakra, Muladhara, our connection to the Earth. As I guided my students through a series of postures to ground them in an effort to feel safe and secure in the world, my own insecurities about money and my ability to take care of myself were highlighted. I’ve felt ungrounded for the last couple years, since I moved to the Bay Area and its high prices constantly loomed over my head. Since I’ve moved back, I’ve had a hard time escaping fight or flight mode, I’ve had a hard time trusting the world I live in.

In week two, we discussed Svadhisthana, the sacral chakra.  This chakra is about enjoying the pleasures of life, the “demon” for this chakra is guilt. I became hyper-aware of the immense amount of guilt I feel, it seems to pop up everywhere. I feel guilt with food, I feel guilt every time I spend money, I feel guilt when I miss yoga or meditation, I feel guilt when I don’t teach the best class I know I can. All fucking day, it never ends. This was a huge eye-opener for me. I know that big brother isn’t looking over my shoulder making sure that I’m picture perfect. I have to constantly remind myself that my guilt is made up in my mind, it’s only real if I make it real.

Last week we moved through a naval chakra flow to stoke the inner fire, our place of confidence, power and discipline. This class brought up a lot of questions such as, “Am I disciplined enough?” Is teaching 18 classes a week enough? Is it okay to nap and enjoy downtime? Am I slacker because I don’t have the energy or desire to take pictures of myself and post them on social media with some sort of inspirational quote? Between being in survival mode and feeling guilty all the time, I find it so incredibly hard to discipline myself and do more. Is it enough or not?

This week is Anahata, the heart charka. After the trauma of returning from California under the circumstances that I did, my heart is not the same. Yesterday as I led the first classes on connecting to the heart, I felt like a fraud. I could barely look my students in the eye and discuss self-love and the importance of being open and vulnerable. I felt like a fake, a phony. I don’t know how I made it through. I went home and broke down.

After a night of engaging in self-pity and doubt, I woke up feeling surprisingly refreshed. I realized that I need to make my friendship with myself my number one priority. I rolled out my mat and did my own heart chakra class with kriyas, chanting, pranayama, asana. As I lay in savasana, I felt connected to my essence. I was able to see myself again, I saw that it was possible to reconnect to my heart. I’m not saying that 90 minutes on my yoga mat solved all my problems, but it filled me with hope and possibility. I connected with that unstuck part of myself that can’t be touched by rejection, betrayal or doubt. I felt that warm, gooey center where unadulterated awareness resides.

While I may not be able to teach the most moving heart chakra class ever this week, I do understand what it means to be in pain, to feel deceived and abandoned and to choose to heal by falling in love with myself and in turn being kind to others. Love is a currency, you get what you give. I can at least teach this much. Alas, I’ve found some footing to be authentic with this week.

heart

I See You.

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed today. In fact, I was feeling a little blue yesterday too. It has nothing to do with anyone, but myself and how I’ve been showing up in the world lately. It’s a reality that I created and I know exactly what I need to do to change things.

Tonight was the first night of a meditation group that I put together called, Food for Thought. It took me months to get the guts to put things together. I was and still am afraid of putting my idea out there in such a vulnerably exposed way, but I eventually held myself accountable and got it going. The group is donation-based (suggested $10) with all of the money going to charity. This month I decided to support the Denver Rescue Mission in an effort to help feed the homeless. As the facilitator of the group, I began with a talk about the importance of of helping others. We are helping others by training our minds to become more present and conscious of opportunities to reach out and lend a hand when needed. Being compassionate towards our fellow brothers and sisters who are suffering in this world is how we can make effective and long-lasting change.

We sat for 20 minutes and spent another 30 minutes talking about our experience and different things that we struggle with in life. We raised $114 that will feed 218 people a meal. Afterwards, people were talking about other ways to help the community and exchanging numbers. The night went far better than expected. While I was feeling extremely full of gratitude, I still felt a sense of sadness. As I drove home and recapped the night in my head, I began to think about all of the people in this world that are suffering. The truth is, all of us are suffering. In Buddhism, the word Samsara is used to describe this never-ending cycle of suffering. We are all at the mercy of our thoughts and it causes us so much grief. I began to realize that there are tons of other people out there that feel just like me. When I think of them also hurting, it melts my heart into puddle of sympathetic sadness. I ache for them, I ache for you.

This post is for anyone who experienced a shred or a landslide of self-doubt today. This is for anyone who forgot that they were inherently good, that their natural and raw state of their being is love. This post is for anyone who felt guilty about their words or actions, for anyone who’s been letting things slip lately and are seeing the ramifications of that. I experienced all of this today.

For anyone who felt alone, misunderstood, or even hopeless: I see you and I get you. I’ve been there, I am there and I’ll be there again, as will you. Next week, I hope that when we look into each other’s eyes, there’s a transmission of understanding that we see each other in our suffering and we are the same in that way. We are connected in all the ways that we feel different and separate. Don’t forget, this is all temporary. Stay present for this experience, the more inquisitive we get about it, we begin to see its fluid and illusory nature. The impermanence of this moment is the one thing that we can count on. You’re not alone, we’re in this together. This too will pass.

 

food for thought