Meditation Myth Number 2: When we meditate, we should be feeling great all the time like we're thinking about bunny rabbits and cotton candy and love and light and unicorns and fairy dust. . .
Yeah no, in fact, yeah just no. I mean you can try, but when that mask falls off it's going to make one hell of a thud.
Part 1 of a 4 part post on the common myths surrounding meditation practice, of which there are many! Meditation has literally revolutionized my life for the last 15 years and the myths I seek to dispell here come from my own pitfalls, lessons, mistakes, and the frustrating aspects of my meditation practice I misunderstood for a long time.
As a thought for the New Year, I wanted to share with all of you some of my favorite affirmations that I use daily in my life. These are born out of my own experiences in life, what I have discovered by the grace of many gifted teachers, and my own meditation practice. These affirmations affirm the truths of our beings, the basis of what we are. And when we affirm these truths, all gates open for us and we get to live a truly phenomenal, spontanious, and rich life.
In the almost 10 years I have been teaching yoga, I have gone through many incarnations of my role as a teacher. At one time or another, I have had to learn some lessons and make some choices to keep teaching not only fun, but also manageable and fulfilling. Here are four of my 4 biggest suggestions to help teachers relax and enjoy the wonderful craft of teaching yoga.
I love to be in my house and the home I've created. It feels like a sanctuary to me. When I come home, even from a stressful day, I can be at peace. There are many aspects of my home that I love, but maybe the most important is that my space feels good to me. When I am in it, it feels peaceful. Our outer homes, where we house our bodies, are the places where we let go from the outer world. Our inner homes, where we house our minds, bodies, and psyches, are where we all truly have to live 24/7. It is in this inner space where we often feel we are not at home, like we are strangers in our own lives. It's the space that when not tended can turn into a scary and unwelcoming place. One of the most important feelings we can work towards is a feeling of being at home in ourselves. It's an aspiration, and takes a long time to excavate the layers that clutter our internal space, but it is possible. When we do that work, we truly begin to relax and rediscover a sense of happiness.
1. You allow yourself to fully feel, process, and release stored emotional tension in your body. You realize that this is the most important aspect of keeping your body's systems in balance.
2. You begin to change your inner dialogue from one of condemnation, of self and others, to one of blessing self and others.
3. You can manage your own stress response with your breath, choice of perspective, and healthy movement.
4. You move your body in ways that make you feel alive, balanced, energized, and whole. You also move your body in ways you enjoy!
5. You move your body for the way it makes you feel more than the way it makes you look.
Spiritual betrayal can be one of the most psychologically and emotionally damaging forms of betrayal we can experience. It is a betrayal that splits our hearts so deeply that recovery can feel next to impossible. Although it can be felt in any relationship, it is often found in the moment when we realize, in small or big ways, that our spiritual teachers (read for our purposes: yoga teachers), the people in whom we have entrusted so much faith, are not perfect.
My friends, I want to introduce you to J. Forrest Conway, known to his friends as "Josh", the Founder and Head Coach at Gymnasium in West Newton MA. Josh is my trainer, colleague, and friend who has developed a style of personal training that I believe to be on the cutting edge of fitness training and thought in this country. He has a deep knowledge of and respect for the body, the body's mechanics, and how to create work out plans that are highly effective and at the same time sane and balanced. I specifically asked Josh to write this blog as we think very much alike about the idea of intensity in fitness and why a balanced approach makes most sense for our bodies and minds. Please enjoy!
Years ago, long before yoga, I received a fantastic piece of advice from a boss and mentor, "put your hands on the wheel of your own ship." And one of the best ways to do that is to create relationships around us that give us power and strength. In my own life, I have found this to be the most helpful and most difficult thing to do for my own health.
I know a lot of people, including yours truly, who have been practicing yoga for a very long time now. We have felt the profound effects of asana practice, and have discovered the life-changing freedom much of the yoga philosophy can bring. And then we begin to realize something disturbing and scary: at some point, yoga stops working.
A guest blog from my good friend and Registered Dietician Marci Anderson. Not only do I love Marci as a person, but I deeply admire and respect her work. She brings a wealth of professional education, knowledge, practicality, mindfulness, and deep compassion to her work with food and the psychology of eating. Please enjoy her words below.
A while ago I plastered my Facebook page with "Proud to Be an Introvert" type posts. It was just after I discovered, with the help of some wonderful mentors, what it really meant to be introverted. And as I began to understand what it really meant to be introverted it felt like I had just been released from prison. Finally I realized all the things about myself I had been trying to overcome for years were totally normal and ok.
These five ideas form the core of how I try to live my life. They are born out of my own lessons and mistakes. Now god knows, I don't always get these ideas perfect, but when I do apply them as best as I can, life works pretty well. I hope you find them helpful!
We have been hypnotized my friends. Hyper-sexualized advertising, unrealistic TV shows, and a society that pins gold medals on our chests for how busy we can make ourselves have hypnotized us. We have been hypnotized into believing that we are not already worthy, that we are not enough, our bodies are not beautiful, and that we'd better make up all of that deficiency in some way or god only knows what will happen.
A lot of practitioners in my classes lately have been talking to me about having some mild insomnia and mental fatigue. Energetically this is quite normal for the spring, and it is exacerbated by the emotional stress we all feel from the marathon anniversary as well as the sudden warm weather.
From a very early age, I have been called anything from "emotional" to "too sensitive" to "you take things too hard". For a long time in my life, I thought these were things about me that needed to be fixed, that somehow my emotional sensitivity was a bad thing.
The quality of sequencing in a yoga class determines the quality of a class as much as the quality of the teacher. "Sequencing" has become one of the major elements in continuing education for yoga teachers. We hear about "innovative" sequencing or "dynamic" sequencing being able to lead to easier advanced poses, deeper flexibility, and powerful strength.
Newer teachers, I want to give you a word of advice that I really hope will help you and empower your teaching. When you are subbing a class for a well-known senior teacher, don't ever start with a sheepish, "Hi everyone, I know I'm not so and so but thank you for coming anyway. . ." It's so unnecessary, and so unfair to you.
I sense other people's feelings. I don't know how, and I don't know why, but I do. I have been doing it my whole life but only recently have begun to understand it. No, it doesn't make me Obe Wan Kenobe, but I guess a girl can dream! Basically, what it just means is I can sense in my own body the felt states of other people, be it one person or an entire group of people.
Modern Yoga has been growing at a phenomenal rate over the last few years. I still am amazed by how much the industry has expanded since I started teaching in 2005. With this growth there are more and more of us practitioners who have been doing yoga for a long time. We have moved through the phase of simple asana. We have tried being vegetarian, vegan, raw vegan, giving up coffee, going back on coffee, meditating, stopping meditating and feeling guilty about it, tried Reiki, massage, not to mention vows of poverty, chastity, and six trips to India. And you know what I see? For the most part, we are still confused.
1. You can blame and play victim, but ultimately your life is your responsibility.
2. Not everyone has to like you.
3. And you don't have to like everyone.
4. There's a difference between liking someone and loving someone.
I love it when people say they are "very intuitive" as if they expect some sort of applause and lots of "oos" and "ahs." Intuition is not some great mystery nor is it a gift reserved for a privileged few. We are all intuitive, and we can all develop and refine this gift at anytime.
It's a brave new world, and a little thrilling, to come out with my own blog! I'll be talking some yoga tips, some meditation, some of the lessons that I've learned over the years, and the lessons I continue to learn. And if you know me, you will definetely find an opinion or 2!