The Case for Yoga

A Year in the Life

Today is my LA anniversary.  Two years ago today, I hopped a plane from Chicago and moved to LA.  I look back on the last two years and while it’s all very vivid, it seems like a life time ago.  I like to honor and celebrate such occasions as a reflection of the growth and learning that has occurred and who I’ve evolved into as a result of such experiences. My life today looks incredibly different then last year.

Last year at this time, my parents came to visit in celebration of their 45th wedding anniversary and I was still reeling from having the most challenging year of my life.  I had moved to LA with such expectations and hopes and what I imagined life would be like and I was questioning if I belonged here, If I should go back to Chicago and how life had turned out so very differently then I had anticipated.  I was out of work (having been laid off earlier in the year), trying to start a new business with a course I had created and very much in a state of fear and survival without any idea of how to move beyond that state. 2011 was a year of much loss…loss of job, of income, of a baby nephew and of letting go…of what I had expected life would be like, of my life in Chicago, of many aspects of myself.

The last few years have marked the most important journey of my life…the journey into self.  I went deep into the abyss and having made the trip, I now see that to be the light, one must be willing to experience their own darkness.  And all of the loss was necessary to remove many distractions so that I could take the trip. Looking back, I am incredibly grateful for that time, for it has brought me to the moment of now, to a deep connection to self and Source and all that I am creating.

I experienced and confronted many fears, many deep, dark thoughts about myself, about my perspective on the world and how my life had “turned out”, my failures, my sadness, grief and loneliness. I went to some extremely uncomfortable places in a very transparent way, for I lost all sense  of trying to look good or perfect or having it all together.  Somehow any pretense just seemed inauthentic.  I wasn’t OK.  Life was not OK for me at all during that time.  It was dark and ugly and scary. Every day I woke up in fear and went to bed with the same experience.  And I had no idea how or if it would turn out.  I only knew that my bank account was dwindling, money was coming out but not much was going in and I couldn’t see a way out of this, not by myself anyway. And being someone who prided themselves in being in control and also being quite the know it all, not being able to envision a way out of my situation and being in such a place of uncertainty, freaked me out.

What I most learned over the last year is to let go, to understand that I’m not in control and to think I can control anything is delusional.  I learned patience and to trust and to connect with the Divine in ways that I never imagined.  My love for Spirit and the spiritual path is so strong and continues to expand every day.  I’ve learned that there is a Divine plan for all of our greater good, even if we can’t see it, that failure is part of the path to success.  I learned compassion, acceptance, forgiveness and love. I learned to love myself unconditionally and the deeper my love and devotion for Spirit grew, so did my love of self. Most of all, I learned that we can not truly love another until we learn to love ourselves.

My access to all of that was through the physical body.  I was working out at the gym six days a week and got really burnt out.  Something kept calling me to start doing yoga.  But I was seeking a spiritual connection through a yoga practice and I didn’t even know it that existed.  I then serendipitously discovered Kundalini Yoga last October. What spoke to me about Kundalini over other yoga disciplines is that it’s intention is to raise awareness through breathing and specific poses to raise consciousness and connect to the Divine.  The movements, breathing and meditation, activates the nervous system and serves as a way to quiet the mind and create a connection to self.

I coincidentally live near two of the best Kundalini Yoga studios here in LA and continued my practice on and off throughout the fall until I was sidelined by a car accident in January of this year.  That moment of impact ended up being a transformative experience.  I started going to a chiropractor who specializes in Network Spinal Analysis,  in which gentle precise touches to the spine cues the brain to create new patterns. I not only started healing, it unlocked the Kundalini energy that was lying dormant at the base of the spine and caused an intense spiritual awakening and elevation of consciousness.

What I was experiencing was so intense, I didn’t have the understanding or language to fully articulate what was happening.  I knew that things were shifting, that I was changing and seeing life in an entirely different way and it didn’t feel safe to share my experience with people.  I retreated inward and allowed myself to go deep into what I was experiencing, building a protective cocoon around myself and creating some distance between me and others.  The experience  seemed in many ways too precious to share and I also didn’t know who would be able to understand the experience. Resuming my yoga practice further awakened me, as I learned to tame my monkey mind.

Through my yoga practice, I connected even deeper to self and Spirit and this knowingness started to return.  Remembering who I was…beyond the ego.  I think we are all born knowing who we are and experiencing a connection to the Divine.  Our environment, culture, upbringing tells us otherwise and we stop trusting that inner compass.  One day during meditation, I heard that inner voice of wisdom whisper to me,  “Trust, the answer can be found within.”  It is in going deep inside ourselves that we can experience that wisdom and intuition and learn to distinguish the difference between the voice of ego and the voice of Spirit.

As I  listen more to that voice, to be guided by it and follow the fascination, it’s been leading me down some interesting paths.  I’ve learned to move away from situations that are a struggle or a challenge and doors that are closed (they are closed for a reason) and towards things that are in the flow of life.  When a situation becomes a struggle, that’s usually a good indication to me that it might be a good idea to move away from it, that perhaps it’s not for the greater good.  For example, after seeking work for over a year, a succession of events happened that quickly resulted in me landing the consulting project I have.  I’m so happy with my work situation.  The company is great, I work with intelligent, kind, collaborative people and every day, I get to add value and contribute by doing what I do best, creating relationships, solving problems, causing change and effectively managing communication to produce results.

That inner voice of guidance also led me to embark on a six month Kundalini Yoga Teacher training that I just started this weekend at one of my yoga studios.  A year ago, I had never even heard of Kundalini Yoga, but following the fascination of where I was being led took me on that journey.  As I sat in the course this weekend, with 40 other yogis it all became clear to me…this isn’t about being trained to teach yoga….this is the curriculum for my training as a spiritual teacher.  I will share more about the weekend, my journey through teacher training  and about the principles and history of Kundalini Yoga in future blogs.

Almost five years ago on my 40th birthday, I asked Spirit what would be possible if my life were bigger then me, if I was living in service to something.  That question led me on the journey to the here and now.  I was coming to LA for a global communications course every two months for about a year and each time, I felt this pull…something beckoning me here.  At first I ignored it and then the voice got louder.  During the last weekend of my course, I had the opportunity to speak to the group…all 250 of them…from different countries, different religions, different life experiences.  I opened my mouth and impacted each person in the room.  It was then I saw my life’s purpose…to inspire and empower others to awaken to who they are and why they are here through using my voice, as a channel for a message for change.

While I didn’t understand at the time what that all meant, I knew that I needed to move to Los Angeles because my teachers were here.  And five months later, I was living here.  And then the life I knew unraveled. And I discovered that when you are being called to something, whether, you choose it or not your life will radically disrupt itself to lead you down the path you are to follow.  I’ve also started meeting other people with similar awakenings and our experiences were quite similar.   When your destiny is calling you forward, the life you have known will often fall apart and you will experience much loss to wake you up, to have you answer the phone.  The longer you wait to pick up the phone and answer the call, the more disruption, the greater the loss and the higher the cost.  Until you surrender and let go, listen and enter into the Divine flow, allowing yourself to follow the fascination of where you are being led.  For you see, freedom isn’t free.  You must pay a price to enter into a state of freedom.

Each moment, each experience over the last year (and the previous few years) has led me to here, to this moment.  Having cleared much away, my work can now begin.  I’m now prepared to listen and at an elevated energetic frequency to be able to hear the teachings I’m learning in my studies, so that I may in turn teach others.

While I have vision and idea of where this will all lead, I don’t now how this will all unfold or how long it will take to get there.  And for the first time in my life, I’m not concerned about the uncertainty or feel this need to know.  I’m perfectly OK being in this moment and trusting that my inner compass and connection to the Divine will lead the way.  In the mean time, I’ll be right here right now happily living my life, being grateful for the gift of every breath and being in the wonderment of all of it.

Sat Nam.

(A Kundalini Yoga mantra that means Truth is my identity)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Car as a Metaphor for Relationships

I’m in the process of buying a new car.  I’ve lived most of my adult life without a car, having lived in cities where it’s fairly easy to get around on public transportation or by cab.   I only got a car about seven years ago when my Dad gave me my grandmother’s 1988 Grey Buick Century after she died. It was in decent condition and only had 35,000 miles at the time.  When I lived in Chicago, I drove the car about two to three days a week and rarely during the winter.  It was a nice convenience.
Los Angeles is a completely different story. This is very much a car culture and it’s virtually impossible to get around anywhere without a car.  The public transportation system is not entirely safe or convenient and cabs aren’t in abundance like in Chicago and certainly more expensive.  My Buick has seen better days and although it only has 51,000 miles it’s been in a few accidents, I’ve broken down on the freeway, I’ve had to replace the breaks, and have other repairs.  While it’s been nice not having a monthly car payment, the cost of the repairs is starting to add up and I no longer feel entirely safe in my car.

I’ve spent the last few months researching cars.  At first it was entirely overwhelming there are just so many options out there. I spent a lot of time in conversation with people about their cars learning what they liked and didn’t like. Listening to their recommendations.  And inquiring into my likes and dislikes, what features I wanted and the type of car I wanted and what would be a match for my lifestyle.  After much research I narrowed it down to four brands (Mini Cooper, Ford, Hyundai and Scion) and I test drove six cars.

At first I was sold on the Mini Cooper.  It was the first car I test drove and I think it’s a completely adorable car. My reasons for wanting the car were purely emotional with no thought into the practicality of the car and the longevity over time.  After further investigation, I learned more about the cost to service the car over time and other things that made me rethink that choice.

I have now narrowed my choices down to the Scion Fr-S and the Scion Tc.  Both great cars, made by Toyota, very similar in their features with may options being standard on both.  There are things I like and don’t like about each car. The Fr-S is a sportier car with 200 hpr, but doesn’t come with a moon roof and there is not a lot of room in the back seat. The Tc is a lower price point, but the Fr-S is definitely the cooler, younger sibling.  I could get the Tc next week and get a deal on a 2012 model.  I’d have to wait 2-4 months for the Fr-S, as there is a waiting list. The difference in monthly payments, a little over $100.

I keep weighing my options, wondering if I go the practical route and spend less money or get the sportier model, which at first glance was my first choice.  I lean in one direction and then the other, which has been frustrating for me, because by nature, while I do spend time discerning things, I can get to choice fairly quickly.  With this situation, I choose one, then the other, not choosing either. I’m so fearful that I’ll make the wrong decision or choose one and regret it and long for the other and then it will be too late to change things, that my mind is blocked from choosing anything. I’m afraid then that I’ll be locked into the “bad decision” I’ve made, as I’m making a commitment in the form of a 5 year car loan and then be stuck and full of regrets.  I have moments of thinking it’s easier to just keep the Buick but I know, for many reasons, it’s time to let it go and step into something new, even though it’s uncomfortable and risky and requires me to choose.

I was talking to my friend Bob today and as I was sharing this with him, I had this revelation.  Many of the conversations, fears and concerns I have about choosing a car, I have about committed relationships, and marriage. I have this innate fear that I will commit to someone, realize I’ve made horrible choice and regret it for the rest of my life.  Then I’ll be trapped in this stifling, dominating relationship, lose my sense of freedom and independence, wither on the vine and become this person I don’t know or like and end up resenting my partner for holding me back from pursuing my passions. I have really viewed committing myself to another or being married as a life sentence with no parole.

It’s no wonder I see no reason to be married or have been fully willing to commit myself to any man I’ve dated.  I’m always thinking that there might be someone better and that perhaps I’m missing out on something if I’m with the one I’m with.  I’ve even designed some of my relationships to be long distance, so that I get to experience the best of both worlds by having my freedom and my own life and sharing aspects of that life with someone else.

And quite honestly, I’ve also not really observed people, over time, in marriages who seem that happy or fulfilled.  And I can count about 10 couples I know that really seem happy in their marriage and who have really put in the work; and who not only love each other, but who actually like each other, treat each other respectfully and have a genuine partnership.

I got off the phone with Bob wondering where in the world did all of my thoughts, opinions, fears points of view about marriage, committed relationships and committing myself to a man come from.

I’ve been in love before, and  when I love, it’s so deeply and purely. And, while it can be exhilarating (like being behind the wheel of that Fr-S), it’s also been risky to be to open and vulnerable. It’s safer and easier, like keeping the Buick, to remain untethered and free, but am I in some way limiting myself?   And am I really free? Is there something available in fully opening my heart, surrendering and committing to someone and to something beyond myself? What might be possible in choosing partnership?  For myself? For my partner? For what we might create together?  And what about marriage?  Does it expand or contract a relationship?  Is it time to reinvent the idea of marriage?

Quite the interesting inquiry my car selection process has turned into.  None of which I need to solve or answer tonight…or tomorrow for that matter. But it has given me some things to think about.
The car, is a different story. I’ve given myself a week to choose.  I’ve made an appointment with the Scion dealer for next Thursday.

So, do I choose

This?
Scion Tc

Or this?
Scion Fr-S

How to Change the World

This cartoon spoke to me when I saw it, as it served as a great reminder that you can change the world one person at a time. At times I can get caught up in thinking I have to cause drastic change all at once and by myself.  That notion becomes so daunting, I don’t even want to get out bed let alone take any action to “do my part for humanity.”I feel so small and ill-equipped to make any difference at all.  It’s easy to become resigned and indifferent coming from that space and find reasons to do nothing but complain…which is just the worst…then it contributes to the problem and adds to the fear and negativity.

While the beginning of change can be at an individual level, like someone having the thought that something new might be possible, one does not have to change the world alone. It starts with you and the willingness to choose love over fear.  And then your commitment, courage and willingness to think or say something new.  That one shift can be the spark that ignites a  fundamental shift in the consciousness of others.

And then, it takes one to know one.  In the cartoon, one soon becomes two.  Then you are not alone…there is partnership, collaboration. Two can become three, three can become four, and so on.  Pretty soon, you have momentum, a movement, a tribe of people willing to give up what they know and think and believe to consider that perhaps their way isn’t the only way or the “right way.”  And if they were willing to band together…what becomes possible then?

So, how to change the world?

Be love, open your mouth, and start with one conversation at a time.

 

 

Change your Habits, Change your Life

There is a lot of newness in my life.  New consulting gig. I’ve been with my client for a little under three months and there is still so much to learn about their organization and their industry.  I’m starting teacher training this week to become a certified Kundalini Yoga teacher.  I’m shopping for a new car.  I’ve started working out again with a trainer.  And I’m starting to run in some new circles and meeting new people.  All very exciting and at times overwhelming. I’m expanding myself and reinventing my life.

My brain is taking in a lot of information, trying to reorganize itself around new schedules, new ways of doing things, stepping into unknown territory.  Some days I don’t know how to keep up with it all and I’ve been observing myself very much in the same way I observe an organization when I start to access where the opportunities for change are.

What I’ve observed is that as I’ve expanded, many of the current habits have not.  How I structure my time, how much time I spend on tasks, getting out the door in the morning, driving to work. To evolve into the person I’m becoming and the life I’m inventing, my habits need an overhaul.  Some of my habits are no longer consistent with my commitments and others are just not sufficient enough to contain all that I’m managing at work, in my exercise routine, in how I spend my free time.

By observing myself with non-judgment, I am starting to see what’s missing, what I’d like to add, what I’d like to retire and I’m taking the actions to make those changes.  There have been some growing pains, as I incorporate some of these new habits…I’m still not reliable to hit the gym outside of the two days I work out with my trainer.  That alone has been an interesting observation, as rather than judge myself for not getting to the gym, I’m seeing that while I have a commitment to being active, I’d rather spend that time doing yoga in community with others then going it solo at the gym on a treadmill. I even view my time at the gym as time I don’t get to be doing yoga.   So once I’ve finished up this round of sessions with my trainer, I plan on giving up my gym membership. A year ago I craved a gym workout as that’s the place I was in my life back then and what my body wanted.  Today, I crave my time on the mat as my body and soul want and need that.  Time is precious, and I want to spend my energy doing things that I love and have fun doing. And what I wanted a year ago, I no longer am interested in.

So, if you are looking to make some changes be it losing weight, learning a new hobby or playing a bigger game in life.  Start to observe your habits and what new habits you’ll need to adopt and what actions you’ll need to take to achieve that goal and make that change lasting. Habits and actions that worked at one time, may not work for you now and that’s OK.  As we evolve, we require different things.   Incorporate things you love and enjoy, not things you think you “should” be doing. You will more likely stick with the plan, accomplish your goal and be on your way to becoming the person  you aspire to be.  Changing your habits can change your life.

Time for a Change

I’ve been blogging on and off for the last three years under the name Happy, Healthy and Hot.  There was much to say at the time about the start of my journey towards being balanced in mind/body and spirit.  I spoke about my own health, the lifestyle I adopted, my spiritual practice , my move from Chicago to Los Angeles and the experience of becoming  happy, healthy and hot.  My experiences evolved into a 12-week course I started teaching women (called Happy, Healthy and Hot) to empower and inspire them to love and accept themselves by becoming integrated in mind/body and spirit.  This all came from learning to love and accept myself.

What I most discovered on the journey was my voice…and the desire to use that voice to inspire and contribute to others.  It’s truly why I’m here on this earth in this time and place.  The fulfillment of that that will become is still being formulated and I continue to trust and listen to Spirit and follow the fascination of where I’m being led.  It’s been quite a ride so far, with more to come.

At the moment…it’s leading me to start blogging again…but in a new format, as there are new conversations to share. Unlike John Mayer says in his song…I am NOT  waiting for the world to change…I simply believe we no longer have the luxury.  I need to be the change I want to see in the world…and so change begins…with me.  And it is my desire that by publicly sharing my own journey, it will inspire others to awaken their own consciousness and join the tribe…for together we do have the power to heal and change this world…and it starts with ourselves….the world needs us, our children need us…the future needs us….the time is NOW.

I’ve moved the blog to a new format, I’ve chosen to no longer hide behind a catchy title and there are new conversations to engage in.  I’m still passionate about the integration of mind/body and spirit and how that contributes to people living happy, healthy and purpose filled lives. I am clear that is the foundation to awakening to a higher state of consciousness.  I’m also passionate about explorations around the masculine and the feminine and how there is much for men and women to learn and teach each other through the understanding of how the other see’s the world.  I am also passionate about the Divine Feminine and empowering women to access that in themselves.  Most of all I am passionate about creating conversations that invoke a new way of thinking, exploring and learning that awakens people and that causes transformation.

Next weekend, I start a six month program to be trained as a Kundalini Yoga teacher.  This is the beginning of a whole new exploration and set of learning that I look forward to sharing in this format.  I’ve been practicing Kundalini Yoga for almost a year and it has made a profound difference in my life and in me getting to the core of who I am…beyond the ego.  It has also made a profound difference in my spiritual awakening and my connection to the Divine.  I’ve learned to surrender, let go and trust that Spirit is working in my life even when things don’t look in the moment the way I’d like them to.

So if any or all of this if of interest…I invite you to join the conversation.  Read and follow my blog, follow me on Twitter, share my blog with others and please  comment so that we can keep the conversation going. I’m interested in hearing about what is of interest and importance to you and what corner of the world you would like to change and how I might support you on your path.