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Thursday, 23 September 2010


When my mind is cluttered and I cannot focus, I look for something to throw out. 

A few years back I became a de-clutterer.  De-cluttering the space around me and de-cluttering my body leads to the prize, which is a clean brain.  And what is a clean brain, but one that works efficiently and with acuity.  The idea behind clutter is that everything you have should be useful and should have its own place.  Useful things must be cared for, looked after, kept clean, and put away for next use. A less perfunctory way of explaining it, as I read in the book that first influenced this behavior of mine, Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui, is that one should only keep things that are sacred, thereby making life sacred.  De-cluttering is a method of eliminating the proverbial chaff from the wheat.

Throwing things out makes way for the new.  If something is meaningful, useful, and sacred, then it stays in our life and we care for it.  But the rest is our past, quite literally, and it keeps us locked there, unable to live in the present moment, ready for new ideas, new experiences, and new abundance.  To make life sacred is the true nature of abundance, to feel more gratitude with less stuff.

If you look at the life of hoarders, who by nature are unhappy, you can trace their lives back to a specific moment, event, and year, when their lives essentially stopped and the hoarding began.  As long as they hoard, they will be kept in that moment where time stopped.  There can be no future in this scenario because there is no ability to enter the present moment.

Cleanliness is next to Godliness?

Saucha, the first niyama, or observance, mentioned in Patanjali’s yoga sutras, translates to purity.  Literally this means to clean the body.  We wash off the day after work, we wash off the sweat after exercise and we feel cleaner than we did before, we feel fresh, all the way into our organs and our blood.  New energy is the result of de-cluttering.

The relationship I have with “things” in my life has changed since taking on de-cluttering years back.  I now think long and hard before I purchase something.  I want to know that it will last, that it will work efficiently, that its texture pleases me, and so on.  I have thrown away so many things in my life that I used very little, but spent money on, that now I part with my money far less on material objects.  As Robert Kiyosaki says in Rich Dad Poor Dad, “people turn their cash into trash”.

A life uncluttered is something I strive for, but it did not come naturally.  It is a practice, like many of the best things in life.  It can be exhausting in the beginning, but soon becomes a daily habit.  I encourage you to go out today and find a box, a pile, or a junk drawer, and push the envelope of what you are compelled to throw away or donate to charity.  Enjoy the satisfaction of a life uncluttered.  And see what else gets the opportunity to enter.  Perhaps it will be an experience, or a person, that you otherwise would not have had room for.

Creating Sacred Space With Feng Shui: Learn the Art of Space Clearing and Bring New Energy into Your Life    The Yoga Sutras of Patañjali: A New Edition, Translation, and Commentary  Rich Dad Poor Dad: What the Rich Teach Their Kids About Money-That the Poor and the Middle Class Do Not!

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Taking the next step...

Lately in the vinyasa classes I take, we have been working on Hanumanasana, which is a regular left or right-legged split, as opposed to a split where your legs are in a straddle position.  I have never ever been able to do a split, with any leg in any direction.  There was a point when I was a kid, that I was pretty close.  But still, I was never able to get into the split and then lift my arms up over head.

I have seen some people get into this position pretty easily.  It is those bendy types.  They’re just born that way I guess.  And I have really longed to reach the full expression of the pose as well.  I have wanted to feel the freedom of being in my split and reaching my arms up and arching back in a backbend.  But I have just never gotten down to the floor all the way.  I used to grip blocks on each side of me and then work myself down to the floor, really striving for the split.  But it still never happened.

So, I’ve changed my tactic.  I now take one block and place it under my pelvis once I have gone down as far as I can.  I am then propped up on my prop.  Instead of reaching the floor I have brought the floor to me.  And it still feels like a stretch, trust me.  Now, once I get that prop under me I inhale my arms over head and look back at the wall behind feeling my chest lift and open upwards, sometimes bringing the heels of my palms to rest on my third eye.  And the amazing thing is; I feel it!  I am in it.  I am in the pose, without having reached the floor I get to experience the freedom of the pose.  And it feels so good.  Why reach the floor first?  That may never happen.  Why not feel the expansiveness of the pose instead, rather than the struggle?  We can get so caught up perfecting the micro that we lose sight of the overall macro experience.

And this was the thought that I could not shake as I was job searching today.  When I get concerned about money, all my thoughts go micro.  My vision and my focus shrink further and further in.  I am plagued by myopia.  And the trick is, to solve that quandary, I have to go macro.  I have to look at the bigger picture, I have to see the forest through the trees.  You cannot find the right job or career if all you are thinking about is paying the bills.  You cannot make the right choices if you don’t have the end result in mind.  You can’t make a plan, and then half way through start making decisions based on individual cogs in the wheel.  Big picture.  Big picture.  Big picture.

And that means sometimes you will be taking steps before you are “ready”.  Some steps are more like leaps.  But those leaps are necessary if we are to do something great with our lives.  They might feel a little scary and they might even feel like something we shouldn’t do because we didn’t get permission or “perfect” the step before.  But we are all capable of so much more.  We can feel, and be, and do so much more than we think possible at times.

 “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

                                                                                                      -Marianne Williamson

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Deep Stretch

My yoga class today promised me a deep stretch.  Why on earth does anyone need a deep stretch?  For some reason I am completely drawn to treating my body like saltwater taffy, working it into longer and longer pieces.  Is this compulsion normal?  You can relax into a stretch or you can pull yourself into a stretch with your arms pulling and your scapula wrapping the outside of your back.  You can guess of which I have done more. 

I have a certain relationship with my hip flexors and my hamstrings.  Some days the relationship is: I hate them and they must be beaten into submission.  Well, that’s most days.  I long to do splits and to sit in king-pigeon pose with my head resting on my foot, a big yogic smile stretching across my face as God showers sun beams down upon me.  If I could just stretch more, if I could just stretch harder, I could…

I could what? 

Unlock the hidden mysteries of my hips?  I think actually Shakira is right, hips don’t lie.  Well hers definitely don’t.  They can “not lie” to you in just about any language too.  But mine don’t lie in other ways.  Mine seem to be holding 28 years of unclaimed emotions.  Spending a yoga class “opening” my hips is just about the biggest tension reliever I can think of.  But doing yoga certainly isn’t the only way to accomplish that.  There are other obvious ways like…riding a horse?  As my Psoas gets worked so does my stress and my emotional sensitivity.  In fact all sorts of emotions can bubble up to the surface.   

The result is: I am forced to deal.  Deal with what exactly?  The discomfort.  I have to quite literally sit on my discomfort.  I have to just sit there and be ok with it.  Sit there and struggle with it.  Sit there and sweat over it.  Sit there and be pissed off about it.  Sit there and forget about it.  Asana is the physical practice.  It is to “sit in the seat of the self”.  And that seat isn’t always comfortable but I sit there.  And at the very least I am being with myself, in an honest way. 

I can stretch by pulling and I can stretch by just sitting.  The activity of sitting into an uncomfortable pose is actually more intense than the activity of pulling and straining into a pose.  The rest of my life seems to be a tender balance of being able to sit with the uncomfortable bits and being able to pull myself out of them.

So when do you sit and when do you pull?  Sometimes we are ebbing and sometimes we are flowing.  And other times we just want to grab a branch and pull ourselves out of the river for while, have a siesta on the shore, and get swept up a bit later. 

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Why Yoga?

It has been with me through at least 8 apartments, a handful of boyfriends, a lot of weird acting auditions, many different countries, and various jobs. It has been there through my skinny wardrobe and my not so skinny wardrobe. Feeling good and feeling bad. Being happy and being, well, hormonal.

Yoga is like my houseplant, Palmy. He, being named for his attribute of being a palm tree, has been with me through thick and thin. He has even driven across country with me…twice. Palmy is just a part of my life. One day you wake up and realize that you’ve spent a third of your life with a houseplant. So too, I am starting to get used to having yoga around. It is like the song, “I’ve grown accustomed to her face”. Yoga is like that. It is the Eliza Doolittle to my Professor Higgins. At first it seems like a good project. And then you can’t imagine life without it.

It doesn’t mean that one day you get it, or you master it, or it becomes easy. It just means that practice makes practice. Yes, that’s right, you heard me. Practice makes practice. And that is yoga. And that is why yoga. Yoga is a mirror for life and it is also the leveling stick. I do yoga until my bubble comes up in the middle. And I have to do that over and over, day after day, because the stick is always moving and that bubble is always floating away.

I’ll never “get it”. I’ll never own it. I’ll never master it. I will always be chasing it, like a butterfly, content, sometimes, not to catch it. And like my Palmy, or Higgins’ Eliza, I realize that my life is better for having yoga in it. There would be a little tear in the fabric of my existence if yoga weren’t there.

So, for as long as I get to do yoga, God-willing that will be a long time, it will be a gift in my life. I don’t get to keep it, but I get to enjoy it, and give it away, perhaps to continue the gifting of the gift. Yoga, like all of the best things in life, is beautiful because it reminds us that the greatest things cannot be owned. Great things will grace our lives if we appreciate them, share them, nurture them, and let them go when it is time.

Kids will grow up and leave the nest, parents and loved ones will pass away, eventually our own bodies will fade. Fact. The things that mean the most to us will all have to be let go of one day. It makes me wonder why we hold on so tightly to things that don’t really matter at all.

Why yoga?

Monday, 28 June 2010

Engagement Ring

If I can’t stop staring at my engagement ring, will I fare the same fate as Narcissus?

I feel I might be so drawn into the sparkles that now grace my left hand that I might fall into a pool never to come out again. It’s not quite as bad as staring in the mirror though, right?

Aren’t I rather staring at the expression of love? And not love of myself, and not even really the love of another person, but the love that comes from two people truly committing themselves to one another? It is the love that one only dreams of finding in all their lives, the love that is talked about, the love that eludes your life until it reveals itself. It is the love that can’t be known until you feel it. For this, I will fall into the pool.

And I have.

And for now that pool seems to be ice blue and sitting on my finger. But it merely teases me. It whispers in my ear and tells me to wake up from this dream, which is why I can’t stop looking at it. I am still pinching myself. I can’t believe I met him. I can’t believe he really exists. And I can’t believe it feels this good.

Narcissus was cursed to scorn the love people gave him and fall in love with himself instead. Isn’t this the plague of dating in our 20’s? If we just took the time to pull our own heads out of our own asses long enough, we might treat the people who love us a little better.

You live. You learn.

You find The One. You forget yourself.

You see yourself through your love’s eyes. You meet yourself for the first time.

When someone gives you this gift, of awakening your life, the world never looks the same. The colors change, the noises fade, the clocks ticks to a different schedule. You fall into a new pool. And I might just bathe in this pool for a while. Soak. Swim. Surf. Sip. Saturate for sixty-six years.

Go ahead. Take the plunge.

Saturday, 26 June 2010


The job search titles might as well read “slow death”. Because really that is how this feels. And not only does it feel like that now, but I am quite sure that it will feel like that in the interview and for every day that follows after I accept the position. Perhaps I should take up smoking and shorten my sentence. I thought a job was supposed to be some sort of expression of who you are. It is something interwoven with the very fabric of one’s personality and inner purpose, which of course was gifted from God. I actually do believe that God granted us all a purpose and a gift to call our very own. And when we are working in alignment with that gift we are in the act of serving God.

But then there is the directionless meandering that happens after college. I will not pretend I am the only one with this gift. Most of my friends have also enjoyed this skill since getting a diploma. It’s not for lack of drive that we can’t pull it together. It is the fluorescent-light laden cube death that steals our spirits. It is the promise of “secretary spread” or “desk-ass”. It is the faint dark circles under our eyes that tell the world we aren’t completely happy. And if you aren’t completely happy it is your fault after all. Because you should be able to have the perfect job that fulfills you and plays off your God-given talents.

Slow death. The pace actually quickens when you are searching for a job because you realize how short your life really is. How precious every moment. How loved, every loved one. The job you take is what you are trading your time for. Money is worth only what someone will give you for it. And most of us are giving our time for money. Yes, now I’m confused as well.

In my job search, to keep it fun, I like to try and decode the titles of positions. Just about everything translates into “sales”. There is “consultant”, that sounds awfully important. “Advisor”, yes, I must be an authority on the matter. And let us not forget “team member”, give me a name tag so I can make your day.

I will try not to see job-hunting as the beginning of the end, but rather the beginning of the beginning. Wish me luck.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Sit and Watch the World go By


Who sits and watches the world go by? It is the smoker at the café. It is the job seeker at her laptop. It is the man who has retired, having worked too hard all his life, slightly broken now. Watching the world is what you do when you stop feeling like you need to be somewhere else. Perhaps it happens in fleeting moments. Perhaps it comes as one day in many. But if you have never stopped to watch the world go by you live in a constant state of reaching. And reaching implies that you have not attained. And if you have not attained then perhaps you live in a constant state of discontentment. What happens if you accept that there is nothing to attain? Do you stop endeavoring?

There is a new wrinkle on my forehead, a crease that marks one long line of worry. You cannot get rid of those lines with creams containing retinol. The only thing to do is release the furrow in ones brow. The tension must be let go of. I find myself rubbing my crease to encourage my brow to relax. I find myself breathing a little more slowly so not to get anxious. I find myself releasing the need to attain something that I can’t even quite define, but that I know keeps me up at night. But I can’t release it.

Once I think I have let go, I rediscover the need to strive again, to reach, to attain, to achieve, to be something more by definition. The crease on my forehead is still there. Maybe I will buy the retinol cream. But it is not the wrinkle, it is the cause of the wrinkle. And thinking about my wrinkle makes it worse. It feeds it, giving it power.

Return to being a Zen cow. Master the art of non-attachment. Take more yoga classes. Start to become obsessed with the new muscles in my shoulders. That looks nice. I will go more. This is not non-attachment. This is not being unlinked to the result. This is not being in the moment. This is not anything close to enlightenment.

Sit and watch the world go by.

I sit and watch the world go by. One minute, one cup of coffee, one yoga class, one day, one week, one paycheck, one month, one season, one quarter, one birthday, one holiday, one death, one birth, one year, one life, at a time.