What I Offer At The Studio Has A Lot To Do With What I’ve Experienced In My Life…

I grew up with the notion that women were less than. This attitude was perpetuated by both parents and then siblings. I did not believe this but was victim to it time and time again. I became quiet and reserved with my feelings yet expressed my opinions aggressively. I was confused a lot of the time about who I was and what I was doing, who to love and who loved me. It took me a long time to unravel the mess that was my childhood because it was all about me trying to appease those around me, rather than listening to myself… I lost sight of who I was.

My spiritual practice and training – once I realized that it was do or die, allowed me to become whole again. Through this work, I realized my fullness, and I was able to see a way through.

This is (one of the reasons) why I practice and teach yoga, meditation and offer Transpersonal Therapy.

I believe I can assist those who want it, to see a way through as well. I realized both victim and perpetrator are in constant protection mode because of their feelings of emptiness and vulnerability. I can guide the process of unravelling and then the reasserting and rebuilding that comes after.

I grew up in a family that believed that you have to be “crazy” to go to a therapist. But I soon learned that this is a process of growth and discovery (when done well) and not an exercise in labeling and pointing fingers.

I believe EVERYONE should seek out self-knowledge – to practice self-awareness/self-observation through any means – the best of which are: yoga (taught by a teacher that practices this not only the postures), meditation (taught by a teacher that practices to see passed the egoic nature), and therapy (facilitated by a person who believes that the spirit is a huge part of the equation and that it’s not about “fixing” you). All of this can bring you leaps and bounds into another and more full sense of self that calms the storms of self-absorption/self-centredness. (Self-observation/awareness is opposite to self-absorption/centredness).

Why am I telling you this? Because this is what I do. I offer those who seek it – wholeness through the therapy I offer, and the yoga classes and meditation (private or semi-private) I have at the studio. I believe I have experienced all this – the prejudice, the name calling, the putdowns, the self-doubt, etc. – in order to work through them and come out the other side with understanding and equanimity so that I can be a light to those who are still in darkness and who believe and feel that there is more to them than what those around them are saying, and who would like to live more fully and more present in their own lives.

 

Here’s the article that inspired this note:
http://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/why-women-arent-crazy/

Restless Spirit Hours the Week of December 16th…

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Come in for a visit and let’s chat! We’ll sit here and do cards or a session for your deepening. Or we’ll sit in meditation in the space right behind me and let Grace take over. Whatever it is that you would like to do, Restless Spirit is a very harmonious, spiritual place and you are welcome anytime to come talk with me!

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I’m planning to be in the studio Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday: 11-7pm, and maybe Friday. Oh of course it all depends on the weather.

On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I have some appointments so I’ll be there for sure. Text me to make sure I’m available at the time you want to drop in.

Hope to see you all soon!

Remember to book your appointments with me here or email, or by texting or calling. Thx.

Film: Free the Mind

Film: Free the Mind

Click on Photo for Link

“Directed by Danish director Phie Ambo, Free the Mind premieres at the Rubin Museum in New York on Friday, May 3 and is expected to open in many major markets throughout the summer, so look for it then.”

Can hardly wait!

Yogas Citta Vrtti Nirodhah – Yoga Sutra #2

Yoga is “the control of thought waves of the mind” – as one translation of the Second Yoga Sutra states. Mr. Iyengar puts it another way, “Yoga is the cessation of movements in the consciousness.” Sri Swami Satchitananda says it this way, that Yogas Citta Vrtti Nirodhah translates as “the restraint of the modifications of the mind-stuff is Yoga.”

Stopping Your Thoughts

So . . . What now? What do I have to do? It sounds like your thoughts are like horses and all you have to do is build a fence around them and they’ll stay corralled and under control. Or they’re like a swarm of mosquitos; unlikable, pesky things that you shoo away with all get-out with some kind of fly swatter or bug repellent (the soy kind). Or perhaps more like a barking dog tied to a post and hopefully you can find the muzzle. Hmmm – I don’t know how to do that with my thoughts. Do you? Do I deal with each thought separately or do I lump them all together?

When this is taught in most yoga or meditation classes, sometimes the translation of the sutra gets lost and teachers and students tend to talk about stopping a thought or a number of them. I suppose it’s a Christian thing – you know, your thoughts are the sin or . . . it’s not about what you think but rather what you do with the thought, or it is what you think and what you do with the thought, etc. Confusing, isn’t it? It occurs to me that that must have been misquoted for centuries probably as well. Stopping thoughts always catches people up. After talking to a lot of people, it is the one thing that most fixate on.

The Thought About the Thought

What I’ve been taught and what I’ve experienced though, is that it is the movement of thought rather than the individual thought itself. But how do you stop movement? And is that what we’re supposed to do? The movement of thoughts to me is like the movement of air like wind. Sometimes it’s gusty, and sometimes it’s gale force strength. And other times, it’s a welcomed breeze. Thoughts flow constantly. Sometimes you take notice. Sometimes you don’t. So when do you take notice of thoughts? When they bother you of course. When someone says something that just gets under your skin, or when something happens and you have a strong reaction to it – like you feel embarrassed, or when you have to get or do something because your life depended on it. All worthy thoughts. How many times have you reiterated a conversation in your head hours, days after the conversation – or before the conversation has even happened . . . even if you didn’t want to think about it, yet there it is? What makes thought waves so powerful? Pema Chödron said that her teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche would say – it is not the negative, but it is the negative about the negative. In other words, it is not the thought, but the thought about the thought which turns into another thought about that thought and so on, that gets us into trouble.

My First Meditation Retreat

I remember my first meditation retreat some years ago. I am a self-declared ‘idea’ person; Give me a problem and I will give you a number of solutions that are pretty creative and sometimes even original. Anyway, I was at this meditation retreat for the first time, sitting Zazen. I was determined to do a good job. I went with a friend who is a seasoned sitter, and so I mimicked him the first day. I sat for 4 hours straight without moving. OMG – I was so sore for the rest of the time. In order to get through this, I made sure I sat a lot (it was a very relaxed atmosphere about your schedule to sit – still very strict about eye contact and silence.) I battled the whole way through. I sat and sat, and still my thoughts came, ideas about: how to fix the roof; what gifts I can make each and every person there because they are so great; how much I wished I could eat (I was fasting as well); how much I wished I could wash my hair (little facility to do that at this place), and how I was right about being eaten alive by mosquitos (it was a hot week in August). Afterward, I told my teacher I found out how I wasn’t as still and silent as I thought I was; I had always thought that I was a pretty laid back, quiet person. But I wasn’t. Maybe that’s why some of you don’t want to do the meditation that asks you to be still. It can be a pretty shocking, and an eye opening experience, and some of you may not want to know. Through my years of practice, I learned that thoughts will always come and go, but it is most certainly about how your organism responds to those thoughts.

The Paradox of Still Mind

“Yoga is the suppression of the transformation of the thinking principle”, as someone else puts it. Suppression? Hmm. I am not a fan of our potential interpretation of the word suppression. In psycho-talk, it can be interpreted as ‘swallowing’ or ‘eating’ your thoughts or words and that never ends well. How I have experienced this, “suppression of the transformation of the thinking principle” has taken a number of years of hard work to understand my reactive responses to external stimuli. Most of us react because we feel threatened by something/someone, or, we are anxious to prove something, and so on. What needs to happen is simultaneous to developing a Still Mind. Once you develop the Buddha Mind, you will realize that you are not separate and there is no threat (really) because there is no you. Before you develop Buddha Mind, you struggle with all the thoughts which anchor you into an identity that is separate. In other words, you need to develop Buddha Mind before you can transcend your reactionary self and you need to transcend your reactionary self before you can realize Buddha Mind. It is a paradox. Like peeling the onion, or chipping away at a stone. The only way through is to open your heart and risk the death that all of us are so afraid of – ego-death.

I always liked the word Transformation. Here it is talking about the transformation of the thinking principle. Transformation? Is a thought a thought if you don’t react to it? Like the falling tree in the forest thing – it is a conundrum. Is the mind-stuff just like scattered dust particles in the air and only when you start to collect them do they become annoying dust-bunnies? Is that what “transforms” thought particles into real thoughts, whether you organize them, collect them or corral them?

Steps to Yoga

Movement of thoughts is the undulation of the mind when it is reactive. Now we’re getting somewhere. It is not the thought that needs work, but the reactive mind. A lot of yogis/yoginis, swamis, etc. say that any kind of therapy is not necessary when you do yoga. But the key here is that you do “YOGA”, not little ‘y‘ yoga (mostly asana practice) or what it has now turned into because it is mostly a hedonistic practice to most – bhoga (meaning, doing yoga for its own sake for the appeasement of your own ego – i.e. look at what I can do). To do YOGA is to delve into the workings of your mind and how it effects your Being. Awareness is key, and to affect awareness, there needs to be some sort of dialogue (with a teacher who knows, a therapist who knows, etc.). But this is still not Wakefulness. Almost every yogi/yogini I know equates being aware of the present moment, of what you do or say in that moment, of how your organism reacts and so on, to and in line with Enligthenment. But this is not so. In awareness, there is still the “I” – You are aware.

The Heart Path

This is really only the beginning. The process that is the Heart Path will take you Home. The Heart Path really to me is about the final step toward Enlightenment and that is “Acceptance”. You have seen who you are and you accept it. You don’t try to hide, mask or manipulate it. You have seen the world as it is – truly, and you don’t run from it, or hide. And you don’t try to manipulate it. You have seen what other people are like and you don’t do anything to change them. You just accept them. You have seen the truth of the wild, untamed world of animals, vegetable, mineral and you see them for what they are. Without greed or fear in your Heart. There is only Love.

My friend says this – Yoga (Union) is just that. You need nothing else. We’re already there. Yoga IS the Cessation of the Thought Waves. That is Yoga. Yes, yes, yes I say. It is that simple.

. . . Yoga is the Stillness Within. Let It Be.

Walk with Grace.

Namaste

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Happy Happy Joy Joy…

It is difficult these days to teach and discuss ‘traditional’ yoga – like Ashtanga, Iyengar, etc…because of this notion that only if you feel happy, elated, and bolstered, empowered during your yoga class are you doing something worthwhile. The whole idea that if you’re not feeling that way, then you are somehow still “burdened by the pressures of everyday life” as one yoga (Anusara) teacher put it; that by virtue of the style of yoga that is perhaps more difficult during class somehow does not let you “rediscover that belief in infinite possibility” (as another teacher put it), you are not doing yourself any favors. I say – bullshit.

It is my experience of these types of teachers from this particular style of yoga that they are convinced that they are the only ones who can give you a warm and fuzzy feeling (and that that is the only target on which we are focused and which makes doing yoga “worthwhile”) and you should therefore do nothing else. Anusara is a thing with which those that teach it and practice it and are ardent supporters of it use to judge all else in the yoga world (OK – so do teachers and practitioners of Iyengar and Ashtanga – whatever). My point is that it is my experience that it is the Anusara practice (John Friend) that has USURPED, hijacked the HEART FROM ALL THE OTHER YOGA PRACTICES. As a heart-felt, sincere, mindful practitioner and teacher, I do not appreciate it.

The Heart is in ALL Traditions of Yoga Practice (including the Asana Practices of Ashtanga, Iyengar, Vinyasa, and Meditation, Satsang, etc.)

I am so tired of how Anusara and all its followers take away the joy that is inherent in the practice of yoga in ALL its traditions – even if it is not “playtime” in an Ashtanga class.

Truly, we are not kids any more and that notion that we must somehow get back to that, is a fallacy. It’s steering those people who want to deepen and give birth to their true selves in the wrong direction. As ‘adults’ we know too much to become children again. And yes, we have a lot more responsibilities to actually be able to act like one and get away with it. But through the difficulties of life, we have a choice to make – either we hide behind the tricks of the ego acting like we are spirit which only accepts ‘goofing off’ or ‘prancing about’ as a way to be ‘happy’. Or we can accept ourselves and others and all our foibles by cultivating a no-nonsense, present centered consciousness which sees things for what they are and in that find the “burden of the pressures of everyday life” lifting in the face of the truth. That is freedom. In becoming unburdened this way, we find true freedom, with that we are ‘happy’.

The Way to Happiness

Unburdening yourself of the constraints of an ego that can’t face ‘ordinary’, sometimes ‘boring’ moments is the work of true yoga and is made accessible by embracing all aspects of yoga not only asana. Meditation, reading thoughtful spiritual books (not only the Power of Now), going to a really good therapist that recognizes Spirit as a part of our worldly experience, etc., all help to open you up to those “infinite possibilities” beyond the pacification and gratification of our ego-ic nature.

What is really scary and really exciting about it all is that it takes years! Not months. Really, the work to unravel you; what you’ve built up over the years to protect you: your defenses, your opinions, your preferences all must dissolve to make Yoga happen and it’s quite a journey. You don’t get rid of the ego entirely (see my other writings). You need your ego to survive.

So for the first real step: cultivate awareness. How you do that by convincing yourself that there is nothing you need to work on, is beyond me. Somehow though, it is thought that if you admit you have things to work on, you are admitting to being irreversibly flawed. That there is something ‘wrong’ with you. That you are unworthy of love and attention because you are not perfect. That, my friends, is the first thing to work on. It is not awful to admit to yourself that “I can be a real bitch/bastard sometimes”. It is actually pretty freeing. And it’s scary at the same time. Still, just because you grow to accept that about yourself doesn’t mean you go around being one. The point is to go toward the unpleasantness, toward the things you’re afraid of, the dislikes, the repulsions. This work is not dwelling on the negative, as the New Agers fear (something else to look into) nor is it holding on for dear life to the positive, the light that everyone seems to be seeking.  You may find as some have often done so, is that the thing you fear the most is your beauty or your talent, etc. As human beings, we don’t only hide the stuff of anger, jealousy, envy. Go, see what you can learn about yourself.

We Are All Perfect In Our Imperfection

There are many aspects of ourselves we don’t know and won’t know if the idea of admitting to our flaws repulses us. So the next step is acceptance of yourself. Can you accept that you are not perfect? And that Perfection IS in the acceptance of all that is you! When you accept that can you accept that people aren’t perfect. That means everyone. If you can open your heart to that then you are well on your way.

Surround yourself with those who know that it is not readily accessible in just a few months. When you are with others who know, then when your ego flares up because it is fighting for its life, those around will show you the way to go deeper. Trust them even if what they say ‘hurts’ you or ‘insults’ you – that’s a good way to tell your ego has a hold of you.

The Playground That Is Yoga

There’s nothing wrong with being playful. In fact, all of this is play in one way or another. The key is to pair your asana practice with counseling, reading and meditation. Ask questions and accept guidance. Be wary of those who tell you to ignore or forget about the dark and move only into the light. Be wary of classes which only stress to appease your tendency to look for distractions and your ego-ic nature’s incessant whining. And as well, be wary of those who say yoga is about being stern. Even the most disciplined class of Ashtanga, practiced with an open heart can be light-hearted and very loving.

Joy Joy

Truly the joy comes from within – and when you and only you are ready to express it, will you find “joy” in your practice. No one can give you that and show you it. The teacher is just there to give you the practice – meaning the practice is what teaches not the teacher. The moment a teacher really feels that within their bones that’s the minute they’re a good teacher.

The wonder of it all is that when you do not hide from yourself or others, there is joy. When you can stay focussed and present in the most difficult, challenging posture (for you) or situation, there is elation. When you can accept guidance and assistance (teacher and student) without expressing arrogance, there is love. When you can look at yourself without criticism, there is peace. Let YOGA teach you this. Then life will be so much fun!

This was inspired by this blog post: http://yogaspy.com/2011/07/22/hooping-and-the-hybridization-of-yoga-in-america/#comment-4309