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A Meditation

24 Feb

 The Lord has blessed me with a beautiful talent.  Yet I am not told how to use it.  I must put forth the effort and time to understand the nature of it, listen with an open heart, not a busy mind, and be at peace.  God will allow it to unfold within me, as I am able to accept, and receive his gift.

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Ten Thoughts on Whole Living

21 Mar

My favorite magazine of all time was called “Body and Soul”.  I say was because I have not seen it anywhere this year, I am thinking they might have discontinued the publication (if anyone knows differently please let me know!).  I’ve searched all my usual magazine haunts, Walgreen’s, Rite aid, Walmart, Target, nada.  Makes me really sad because a dear friend (hey giiiirl), about two years ago, showed me a copy and it was instant love.  Not only was “Body and Soul” filled with yummy healthy recipes and tips on easy workout routines, it addressed the mental part of well being.  Whole living as it is very appropriately called.  It’s not about strict diets and vigorous physical and mental challenges.  It is about getting back to basics, simplifying, redirecting your priorities.

The page I am about to share with you is one that I ripped out of my magazine, and it has been center stage in my kitchen, right on the fridge, for the past year and a half now.  I always glance at it when I go to prepare something and it is such a sweet, non-intimidating reminder to taking care of yourself and your life.

Ten Thoughts on Whole Living

by Terri Trespicio

1.  See your mistakes not as personal flaws but as the source of your most valuable lessons.

2.  When it comes to living greener, a little planning goes a long way.

3.  Explore gentler, more natural remedies

4.  Authenticity means acting like the kind of person you most want to be.

5.  Explore locally grown foods, and discover the people and resources behind what you eat.

6.  Experiment with exercise that soothes as well as strengthens.

7.  In refusing to forgive old hurts, you live them over again.  Learn to let go.

8.  Think of each breath as an invitation to wellness and balance.

9.  Cultivate a few practices that keep you whole

10.  Toss the old ideas you have about yourself and discover the real you!

Spring Fever

19 Mar

Source: Uploaded by user via Craftsy on Pinterest

So we see these pallets everywhere. I mean EVERYWHERE!  Isn’t this the coolest recycling project ever?  I think I am totally gonna cover my porch with these this year.  Its is especially good for those who are space challenged as far as yards go so if you are a city dweller, or live in an apartment building with a small balcony or porch, this project is most certainly for you!  Happy Spring everyone!

Balance

28 Feb

In my adventures becoming a Yoga Instructor, I have done a lot of personal research, not just to become a better teacher but a better person as well.  So much I have learned through yoga echos what I believe in religiously and has really opened my mind with clarity on certain areas of life.  The effects have been quite amazing and for this I am grateful.  I can see myself becoming calmer, less panic attacks (or freak outs as I like to call them) and, while becoming more hands on with the positive choices, things that can cause stress and drama I have become more detached.  The joy of becoming more detached with the chaotic aspects of life is that I am finding more time for myself and for my loved ones.  Time to work on projects, time to spend out walking with my dog, time for more baking!  Its astounding the amount of time we spend on a daily basis worrying about things that really don’t need a second thought!

I wrote this little piece to tie in with one of my classes, a sort of meditation piece to open with and give students something to reflect on while they are working through their asana’s.  It is based on some of the teachings of the famous yogis, B.K.S Iyengar.  Now you don’t have to be a yogis to reap the benefits of yoga practice, a lot of it is mental well-being.  I believe God has many tools and platforms with to which he can reach His children in a way befitting their unique minds, Yoga is that tool for me and maybe it can be yours as well.

Balance
 
  Balance is something we all struggle with, whether in our physical yoga practice or simply in our everyday lives.  Every living thing around us strives for balance.  However, change is what disturbs balance and of course life being the curious thing that it is, change is the one thing that is constant in this world.  Do not fret though, without imperfection or imbalance, life would be dull.  It would be meaningless!  The struggle for balance is a dance that is essential to Life!
 
Imagine a tree.  A tree is  strong, the trunk is hard and dense, giving it a good foundation from which to grow.  Yet it is flexible, able to sway in the wind.  If the wind counts as change and the tree wasn’t able to move with it or, “go with the flow”, the dense foundation would mean nothing.  The tree would eventually break and fall.  So to be flexible or, “dynamic” adds to the density of the tree, making it that much stronger and amazing.  However a tree wants more from life than to be strong and sway in the breeze.  It wants to grow, to reach for the sun, produce leaves and fruit.  It loves to give shade and protection, to be a home.  This is what gives a tree luminosity.  With its protective quality, the tree is tranquil.  The gift of leaves and fruit is a quality of alertness.  The continuing quest to reach for the sun, is clarity.
 
Using a tree as an example in the strive for balance is the perfect example.  As we go through life or work through our asana’s, we want to be as strong in our foundation as the tree, but we also want to be dynamic and flexible.  For us, using the breath as a tool for this is much the same how the tree uses the earth, drawing in what we need for our minds and bodies.  Lastly, in our quest for balance, we involve our minds, to stay alert, yet more importantly, calm and accepting. 
 
It is a struggle, a dance we will forever be learning, but enormously rewarding.  We may never find perfect balance but isn’t it said that the journey, not the destination, is what matters most?

Keep Breathing

1 Feb

When I was little all I dreamed about was becoming a ballerina, chased that dream till I was 24 and finally realized after I graduated college, it was never gonna happen.  From the moment you have understanding of words, people fill your head with notions that you can do anything you want to, be anyone you want to.  In a very broad, pure sense it is true.  Why then couldn’t little Bethany grow up and be that ballerina?  I tried my heart out.  I auditioned, trained, did everything I was supposed to, really put myself out there.   Real life limitations happened, my body’s limitations.  I have scoliosis.  That is something I can’t ever change no matter how hard I try.  I couldn’t become a Ballerina because my shoulders are permanently hunched, because my hips aren’t even and when I bend forward you can actually see where my spine curves.  I was a good dancer but I was never going to be “great” because my body just wasn’t made in the image if a ballerina.  God made me perfect though, yes I have limitations, but he has taught me how to use them, and accept them.  He gave me Yoga.

Yoga, pure and simple, is a beautiful art form.  It is slow and focused, stimulating mind, body, and soul.  Technique is key but if yours isn’t perfect, you aren’t moved to stand in the back of the class, you are encouraged, welcomed with open arms.  Even with yoga I am constantly challenged.  My scoliosis doesn’t take it easy on me here either.  I have a harder time rolling my shoulders back, opening up my chest, lengthening my spine, than your average learner.  This doesn’t mean I am bad at Yoga though.  In fact it has taught me to stop beating myself up, have patience, work with my body instead of trying to force it.  I embrace my weakness because it has shown me my strength.  I am graceful, strong, and determined.  I may have rounded shoulders but I have long straight legs that are powerful and amazing.  My feet are built perfectly for balancing, I have long toes and a beautiful arch, my ankles are sturdy and flexible.  My arms are beautifully shaped and graceful.  The fact that I have something to work for just makes it all the more worthwhile.

No matter how much joy filled my heart when I was dancing, I always felt I was on trial, that I had to prove that I belonged.   Maybe I never did.  God gave me the want to be in motion.  I want to move, leap, dance, balance, stretch.  Yet dance was judgmental, it wanted something I could never give, it wanted perfection and I was just….me. 

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Which is why I feel Yoga is such a gift.  It gives me the challenge of mastering a pose or movement yet it doesn’t judge.  I am not less because of my disability.  I am more, I have more to offer.  I understand so much now about how the spine works in our bodies, and how to protect it, care for it.  I have a better grasp on it then probably someone who has a perfect spine and lovely straight shoulders.  Now when I start teaching I will be able to help my students that much more.  I have learned that I am amazing at the balancing poses, or the stretching poses.  While my back may be curved, it is strong and I will master back bends.

Before, when I was a dancer, if there was something I didn’t know how to do, I would berate myself and force myself to do it whether my body was ready and capable or not.  I probably caused some damage that I will definitely experience in my golden years.  Heck, I already get achy joints when it is going to rain.  Through Yoga I have become excited when I see something I don’t know how to do yet, or I don’t have the strength yet.  Because this isn’t a race, I have all the time in the world to master the Inverted Locust pose.  I am not competing against anyone else.  I will be able to do it when my body is ready, and my body is becoming stronger everyday!

I will always have a special spot in my heart for dancing, when ever I hear an awesome song my body starts twitching, just aching to be let loose.  But dancing and being a dancer are two entirely different things and I finally learned that.  Yoga is Yoga.  God gave me Yoga.  God is Good.

A Clean Slate

8 Jan

Last year I was exhausted.  Exhausted by all the activities I tried to commit to, the projects I picked up, old projects I had worked on for ages it seemed.  Busy, busy, busy, but I never seemed to ever catch up, I couldn’t get anything done.  I would sit down to work on one project and my mind would be racing in so many directions, all the ideas I had and wanted to bring to life, that I usually ended up getting nothing done at all.

I am happy that I am an ambitious person, full of creative ideas, crafty, and filled with excitement, but what good is all that if I am overwhelmed and hunkered down on the couch because I can’t handle how full my plate has become?  This new year is about embracing everything I love about myself, and learning to manage it.   Simplify, relax,  realize everything has a time and a place, and keep in mind that multitasking is completely over-rated.

I came across this article in “Yoga Journal”, a really amazing magazine.  It was written by a published author Helena Echlin.  It just made sense to me.  The article was all about how our true happiness is so hard to find because we are constantly filling our lives with things that only bring instant gratification, and not putting in the time to figure out what we truly need, versus worldly wants and desires, that leave us wanting more, rather than satisfying us.

In the article, Helena, states that simplicity means focusing on whats vital in your life and deciding what truly matters to you as a person.  Steer away from a more commercial lifestyle filled with mindless acquiring of possessions that usually have no true connection to you as a person.  To figure out what you truly value and what you can live without, Helena writes:

  • Identify what gives you energy
  • Talk about it
  • Slow down
  • Confront the numbers
  • Visualize the simple life

Focusing our time on something or someone who gives us energy, instead of taking away from our precious store, is key to happiness.  When we are energetic, we are optimistic, cheerful, ambitious, excited about life.

Talking to someone who you trust is important, ( I definitely don’t always know how I think or feel truly until I sit down and hash things out, with my husband, or family, or my dearest friends).  Talking is a way of thinking out loud, we hear our own thoughts, receive honest feedback and are face to face with things we don’t always notice by ourselves.

Slowing down is an amazing thing that can do wonders, ( I don’t really absorb anything when I am rushing around like a mad woman), just like when you eat too fast you aren’t really tasting all the flavors of your food.  Life is full of flavors and experiences, just waiting to be noticed.

Confronting the numbers, something everyone is scared to do, me especially.  Think about it though, how many of us are weighed down by money issues, trying to spread out every dollar, working extra hours so that we can have more of it.   Maybe the issue is not that you need more money but that your money is going towards things that don’t actually give to a lifestyle that is conducive for happiness.  Go over your bank statement and divide everything into groups such as groceries, activities, bills, entertainment, clothing, etc.  Then do the math, how much do you spend in each group?  Ask yourself the hard questions, is it worth it, is it contributing to my true happiness,  is this a necessity or something I  can do without?  Who knows, maybe you actually do have the money to take up that sewing class, or start a garden fund, or a vacation fund.

The last, visualizing the simple life, might be the hardest of all.  You need to be truly honest with yourself.  Make two lists, one filled with everything you don’t like or want to change about your life.  Things that you waste hard-earned time, money, and energy on.  Things that might not make you unhappy but don’t really give in a positive way.  The second list should be filled with everything you really want to do, or have, or be, that hasn’t happened, simply because of lack of time, energy, or funds.  Now compare the two lists, see how they can be merged together to create the life that is truly you.  Sometimes we can’t do everything we would like too, but by cutting out some unnecessary things, we are making room for something that wasn’t fitting before.

When I read that article, it was a total “light bulb” moment.  For me, life is finally becoming life again instead of just being something to get through.  It’s nice when these little bread crumbs show up, beckoning the way we should go.  Now I just have to man up and put in the work.