Mindful Poetry: "Two Kinds of Intelligence" by Rumi

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Two Kinds of Intelligence

There are two kinds of intelligence: One acquired,

as a child in school memorizes facts and concepts

from books and from what the teacher says,

collecting information from the traditional sciences

as well as from the new sciences.

With such intelligence you rise in the world.

You get ranked ahead or behind others

in regard to your competence in retaining

information. You stroll with this intelligence

in and out of fields of knowledge, getting always more

marks on your preserving tablets.

There is another kind of tablet, one

already completed and preserved inside you.

A spring overflowing its springbox. A freshness

in the center of the chest. This other intelligence

does not turn yellow or stagnate. It’s fluid,

and it doesn’t move from outside to inside

through the conduits of plumbing-learning.

This second knowing is a fountainhead

from within you, moving out.

The Essesential Rumi, Translation by Coleman Barks with John Moyne, Harper,

San Francisco, 1995.



Mindful Poetry: "Walk slowly..." by Danna Faulds

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Walk Slowly by Danna Faulds

It only takes a reminder to breathe,
a moment to be still, and just like that,
something in me settles, softens, makes
space for imperfection. The harsh voice
of judgment drops to a whisper and I
remember again that life isn't a relay
race; that we will all cross the finish
line; that waking up to life is what we
were born for. As many times as I
forget, catch myself charging forward
without even knowing where I'm going,
that many times I can make the choice
to stop, to breathe, and be, and walk
slowly into the mystery.

Mindful Yoga for Trauma Survivors

April is National Sexual Assault Awareness month. Yoga and meditation can be really helpful for survivors of trauma. It has helped me immensely. Here are a couple of practices that I have found very grounding.

A few things first, though…

First, yoga and meditation are not a panacea for survivors. Finding a great therapist, AND finding a yoga teacher that has trauma-sensitivity training can both both be important for your healing journey.

Secondly, what helps me, might be different from what helps you. Sometimes an active yoga practice is called for, sometimes, being still is the best.

Thirdly. I love this book by Kristin Neff, Ph.D called Self-Compassion, The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself. I think it should be required reading.

Breath awareness:

yogic breath awareness for trauma

Finding a comfortable space where you can take some time to pay attention to your breath can be healing. I use a breath awareness practice daily to help me connect with my body.

Here’s how:

If you can prop yourself up on an angle, (like the student in this photo) with a bolster or pillow, and some yoga blocks or books…or even the arm of your couch if that feels ok for you. Or, find a comfortable seated position…on the floor, on a chair.

The key here, is doing what feels ok for you.

Keeping your eyes open is ok. Closing your eyes is ok.

Place your hands on your heart and belly, or wherever is comfortable for you.

Begin by paying attention to how your breath feels in your body. Really pay attention. What is it like? Noticing the quality of your breath. Maybe feeling your ribs expanding and contracting. Maybe feeling your belly inflating and deflating.

It’s really normal for thoughts to distract you from your breath. Be kind to yourself, and bring your awareness back to your breath.

If you begin to feel panic, or feel uncomfortable, that’s totally ok. You can stop any time.

Keep paying attention to your breath for as long as you feel comfortable.

Legs Up the Wall Pose (viparita karani)

viparita karani for trauma

Very often, trauma survivors spend lots of time in the flight-fight-or freeze state. It’s a heightened state for our central nervous systems, and can wreak havoc on our bodies and minds.

This pose is known to activate the parasympathetic nervous system (the opposite of the flight/fight/freeze). It’s one of my personal favorites.

How to:

It’s a little awkward for many to get into this pose, but I recommend first, grabbing a pillow or yoga bolster (or even a folded towel) to have close by.

Sit with your hips near the wall, and swing your legs around and up. Sometimes you need to scooch (technical term..haha) your hips closer to the wall using your arms. I did say it could be awkward, right?!

Be mindful of tight hamstrings. If straightening your legs feels bad, then you can move your hips away from the wall until it is comfortable. Bending the knees is fine, too.

Eyes open or closed. Your choice.

Once your legs are up, you can place a bolster under the hips (like in the photo)….or not. Whatever feels right for you.

I like to take a deep deep breath in, and let out a big sigh when I am in this pose. I sometimes do that a few times, and try to soften any tense muscles that I feel.

Stay in this pose as long as you wish. To get out of the pose, bend the knees, and roll to one side. Get up slowly.

Here is a link to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

You must ask for what you really want

You must ask for what you really want

Live in this moment…right now you have the opportunity to be awake. Each morning we can wake up to new ways of doing things…of letting go of our usual habitual responses to things. I think that’s what Rumi means in his poem:

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.

Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.

Don’t go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the door sill

Where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.

Don’t go back to sleep.

Rumi

Laughter Yoga is a thing!

Happy April Fools Day everyone!

In keeping with the lighthearted nature of the day, I thought I’d introduce you to laughter yoga.

Now, I realize that it may sound absolutely crazy to you, but, I’m here to tell you that it is SO much fun! Here’s a video that explains what it is all about, and I highly recommend that you find a group in your part of the world, and give it a try!

I know, I know…it looks SO weird…BELIEVE me…it’s amazing!

Here is a link to Laughter Yoga International.

Have you tried it? What did you think? Leave a comment below!

How to let go of control, and be cool with life when it sucks.

how to let go of control, and be cool with life when it sucks.

So, apparently, Saturday is National In Control Day. Who knew that was a thing?!!

Truly…I think it should be National Letting Go of Control Day.

Here’s what I know:

  1. We can’t control all aspects of our lives…especially the outcomes.

  2. Having expectations about the way our lives will turn out can lead to disappointment when it doesn’t go as we had planned.

  3. We like to avoid that disappointment (and hurt and anger and upset and confusion and depression) as much as we can.

  4. Trying to control our lives even more doesn’t lead to less disappointment (or hurt or anger or upset or confusion or depression).

  5. We like being happy (and joyful, and contented, and peaceful), and want to hold on to that feeling as much as possible.

  6. We like to keep feelings of happiness (or joyfulness, or elation, or peacefulness) as much as we can.

  7. Trying to control our lives even more doesn’t lead to more happiness (or joyfulness or contentedness, or peacefulness).

  8. We control aspects of our lives often when we are fearful that they won’t work out. Because we want to avoid negative emotions…being happy feels great, being sad does not.

  9. This is totally normal. You are human.

Paying attention to what is happening in the present moment (this is called mindfulness!) can help ease the desire for controlling our lives. If we pay attention to what is happening right now, in THIS moment, it allows us a little space to open up to life as it presents itself. ALL of life…the happy the sad, the in-between. Because when it comes right down to it, now is all you have.

Sometimes, when we pay attention to NOW, we have to feel that pain or that upset or that sucky moment. Becoming aware of what you are feeling, what you are sensing, what you are thinking, how you are breathing in a particular moment in time can help you be cool when life seems to suck…especially because you can learn to watch things continually change. They can shift from one feeling to another while you are paying attention.

I suggest starting with a short meditation session…and make it a daily habit. Pay attention to your breathing, and learn to embrace this life and all it has to offer.


*When you CAN’T seem to shake the upset, and it doesn’t move on, and you feel stuck. PLEASE ask for help. This too, is normal. It doesn’t mean you are crazy. It means you are human, and sometimes we humans need help.

Here are a couple of websites and numbers to help if you feel like you can’t go it alone:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

You can find a therapist at this website: Psychology Today


Let it go...

let it go

LET IT GO

Let go of the ways you thought life would unfold:

the holding of plans or dreams or expectations – Let it all go.

Save your strength to swim with the tide.

The choice to fight what is here before you now will

only result in struggle, fear, and desperate attempts

to flee from the very energy you long for. Let go.

Let it all go and flow with the grace that washes

through your days whether you received it gently

or with all your quills raised to defend against invaders.

Take this on faith; the mind may never find the

explanations that it seeks, but you will move forward

nonetheless. Let go, and the wave’s crest will carry

you to unknown shores, beyond your wildest dreams

or destinations. Let it all go and find the place of

rest and peace, and certain transformation.

Danna Faulds

Published in her book Go In and In: Poems from the Heart of Yoga

DIY Lemon Ginger Salt Scrub

Our home has become like a bed and breakfast since we moved to Tampa almost 4 years ago! It’s been so great having so many family & friends visit!! I make batches of this lemon ginger scrub to give to our guests to use when they are here. It has a wonderful scent, gets rave reviews…and couldn’t be simpler to make!!

Lemon Ginger Salt Scrub

3 cups of sea salt (I use THIS brand)
1 1/2 cups jojoba oil (Stillpoint Aromatics is my favorite…but Amazon has some HERE)
30 drops Ginger essential oil  (Zingiber officinale) (I love Pompeii Organics or buy on Amazon)
20 drops Lemon essential oil (Citrus limon) (at Stillpoint Aromatics or Amazon)

Combine the sea salt and oil in a small bowl….stir it really well! Then, drop in your oils, and stir it up again. Make sure to stir for a while to get the oils distributed evenly!

Scoop the scrub into sterilized jars….put on a cap and add a label if you’d like.

I love to use this in the shower as a scrub, or in the kitchen after chopping onions!

Some caution:

  • If you are using glass jars, they can get REALLY slippery in the shower…so use caution…OR use plastic jars like THESE.

  • Also, make sure you don’t let water get into your scrub, or it can get harmful bacteria in it. I buy little spoons (I buy THESE).

  • Be CAREFUL when buying oils on Amazon. There are only a couple of brands that I would recommend: Eden’s Garden and Plant Therapy are two trusted brands. There are tons of scammers out there who sell synthetic or altered oils….not great.

*the links to products on Amazon are affiliate links, and I get a little money for the referral.

Why I practice

private yoga instructor in Tampa

I have been practicing yoga for 18 years, and meditating for 8 years…I’ve gone in waves of being super diligent in my practice…to completely blowing it off. And, I can ABSOLUTELY tell when I’ve been blowing it off. It’s when I’m NOT practicing that I REALLY understand the reasons why I practice…because the benefits are present when I am being present, and practicing daily.

Here are 3 BIG reasons why I practice:

  1. Less anxiety. This is my absolute #1 reason for both meditation and yoga practice….but ESPECIALLY meditation. I suffered with anxiety for YEARS without even knowing it…until I started meditating. I realized that with a daily meditation practice, the anxiety that has been a constant in my life isn’t there in the way that it used to be. The constant buzz of nerves I felt in my belly (for YEARS without realizing it) goes away when I practice. I now can actually FEEL the anxiety coming on, and have the opportunity to respond to it in a different way…which has absolutely changed my life (I know, I KNOW…this sounds pretty dramatic, but it has been truly life altering!!)

  2. Greater strength. Another biggie. The physical strength that comes from my yoga practice isn’t even as important as the INNER STRENGTH that comes from both yoga and meditation. My practice leaves me feeling empowered.

  3. More self-compassion. So, with yoga I’ve learned over the years to be ok with falling out of tree pose, or my tumultuous relationship with shoulderstand. Truly, I’m ok with it…some days I nail the poses, and some days I don’t. With meditation, I’m ok with the monkey mind…and I can see when my super-judgmental thoughts creep in about it. The biggest benefits come from paying attention without judgement. I think this is why, when I’m not on the mat, or meditation bench, that I’ve gotten so much better with self-compassion.

Does any of this ring true for you? Why do you practice? I’d love to know! Leave your comments below!

Love after love

Derek Walcott poem

Love yourself…it’s going to be ok.

I adore everything about this poem by Derek Walcott:

Love After Love

The time will come

when, with elation,

you will greet yourself arriving

at your own door, in your own mirror,

and each will smile at the other's welcome

and say, sit here. Eat.

You will love again the stranger who was your self.

Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart

to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you have ignored

for another, who knows you by heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,

peel your own image from the mirror.

Sit. Feast on your life.

- Derek Walcott, Collected Poems 1948-1984, New York, Farrar Straus Giroux, 1986.

finding balance.

balance, equinox, partner yoga

The spring equinox is Wednesday, March 20th….let me tell you…my hippy-people LOVE this stuff! If you go to a yoga class this week, chances are, you’ll hear something about the moon or the equinox.

So, what does this REALLY mean? Well, the equinox is a time when we have almost equal amounts of day and night, right?! Whether or not you believe in the energetic qualities of the different moon phases or seasons, I think it’s a GREAT time to reflect on balance.

You COULD consider grabbing a partner and doing some snazzy yoga-balance poses (like the pic above)…

I’d like to ask you: HOW are you finding balance in your life?…and ARE you finding balance in your life? I’m talking about the balance between DOING and BEING.

We can get so caught up in constantly DOING…that we miss out on the BEING part. I get it! We get super busy! How can you find balance, then? Here are some ideas:

  1. Self care. Take time to take care of YOU. In whatever way that may be.

  2. Get out in nature. If you think my people like moon phases…don’t get us started about EARTHING! Take your shoes off, and walk through the grass, or sand, or anywhere for that matter! Or go for a hike!

  3. Turn off your phone. Pay attention to what is going on around you. Truly be there for each experience you are having.

  4. Meditate. Even if for a few minutes. Take some time to pay attention to your breath.

What do you do to find some balance in your busy life? I’d love to hear them!!

#blessed

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Thought I’d repost this from a few years ago:

3 ways you can be TRULY blessed.

A friend got a holiday card she shared with me a few years ago, and it went like this: "We are so BLESSED" it said..."*Mike got a huge promotion at work, we took a 2 week family vacation to France, and bought his & hers Audis"...it went on to talk about their gifted children and all of their accomplishments ad nauseum.

Cringeworthy...am I right?!

It's great when friends find financial success, are proud of their kids, and get to take trips and buy things. I love to hear about all the exciting stuff in their lives....but it's NOT because they are blessed!

  1. Keep your #blessed about people, not things: You are truly blessed to have people you love in your life. Your family, your friends, your spouse/partner/loved ones.

  2. Just be yourself! You've got this. You are already blessed. Being blessed isn't happening when there is no adversity in your life, you have all of life's wonder and grace with you already.

  3. Be humble. I'm not talking about the humble brag (like, "I can't believe parking is $24 for my 90 min. yoga class. #cityliving"). It's difficult to find true humbleness in the world of selfies...when we constantly share our joys and accomplishments on social media...but a humble person is helpful, conscious of others, and kind. Try it!

So, go about your day with this true feeling of being blessed...and possibly re-think that holiday card you were planning on sending out.

*not his real name!

to go into the dark...

Wendell Berry poem

Wendell Berry poem

Sometimes…the darkness can be our teacher. I adore this poem…and heard it first while on a silent retreat in Italy.

To go into the dark with a light

is to know the light.

To know the dark, go dark,

go without sight.

And find

that the dark too

blooms and sings

and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.

-- Wendell Berry



What’s up with crystals anyway?!

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…the New Age phenomenon beloved by white girls everywhere. –Katherine Gillespie

I set out to write about crystals, and their energy…and how different crystals can help different issues you may want addressed. I thought I’d attempt to demystify them…and went on to research each crystal, and how they can be healing….

Well…GUESS what I found?! The “healing energy” in crystals is no more healing that a placebo! Yep. Maybe this doesn’t come as a surprise to you. Apparently, the healing powers of crystals is just bullsh!t. Sigh. My hippie ways are being crushed right now.

I love crystals. I think they are gorgeous additions to my yoga/meditation space…I may or may not have bought a stone or two based on their energetic qualities. I will neither confirm nor deny spending money on malas based on the stone’s energetic qualities.

So, this placebo effect. It’s definitely a thing! Studies show that the placebo effect can change your brain. There is definitely a power in THINKING that you will feel grounded (or whatever quality a gem is claiming to have), can actually make you feel grounded!

I say, buy yourself some pretty crystals! And, realize that there is power in intention, and thinking a certain way. If you set your mind to feeling a sense of calm…you can achieve that state…AND you can either achieve it with a pretty gem, or without!

Just don’t use crystals to try to cure any type of sickness. That’s just nonsense.

You are beautiful.

It’s International Women’s Day! The theme this year is #BalanceForBetter, and focuses on bringing gender equality to the world.

I’d like to bring attention to the crazy standard of beauty that women are held to…and the inequality that is ever-present. It’s certainly a topic that has been talked about ad nauseam. And yet, many of us STILL aspire to look like someone else...to an unattainable ideal. We base our self-worth on our appearance. This sh!t gets old…things need to change. Change can start with you. And me.

Mindfulness is paying purposeful attention. So…if you are hard on yourself for not looking a certain way, or weighing a certain amount…bring some awareness to your thoughts and emotions that come up around this. Bring a little curiosity to the way you react. Give yourself a little compassion, too (sometimes this can be the hardest part!).

I adore this short animation that my daughter sent me. It shows how women’s body ideals have changed so much over time.

So, take some time today to appreciate being YOU. Because, you are beautiful just the way you are.

Stand firm in that which you are.

kabir stand firm poem

This is one of my very favorite poems of all time. I think about all the time I spend with thoughts of “imaginary things”…with conversations I should have, or things I should do.

I recite the phrase, “Just throw away all thoughts of imaginary things, and stand firm in that which you are.” often…it has become a way for me to check in with myself…to make sure I am here now.

I said to the wanting-creature inside me:
What is this river you want to cross?
There are no travelers on the river-road, and no road.
Do you see anyone moving about on that bank, or nesting?

There is no river at all, and no boat, and no boatman.
There is no tow rope either, and no one to pull it.
There is no ground, no sky, no time, no bank, no ford!

And there is no body, and no mind!
Do you believe there is some place that will make the
soul less thirsty?
In that great absence you will find nothing.

Be strong then, and enter into your own body;
there you have a solid place for your feet.
Think about it carefully!
Don't go off somewhere else!

Kabir says this: just throw away all thoughts of
imaginary things,
and stand firm in that which you are. 

The Kabir Book: Forty Four of the Ecstatic Poems of Kabir, Translation by Robert Bly.

Beacon Press, Boston, 1993.

How do you know if someone is vegan?

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It’s one of my favorite jokes…How do you know if someone is vegan? Don’t worry, they TELL you!!

(this joke works for Crossfitters too! haha)

I’m not vegan all the time…but every once & a while I eat a completely plant based diet…no meat, no eggs and NO CHEESE (gah!!). I’ve been known to get on my high horse about how people should eat less meat, and how a plant based diet should be the rule more than the exception.

Really, though…I think it’s most important to pay attention to what you are eating while you are eating it…whether you are eating vegan or not! Sounds simple, right?! But…how many times have you snarfed down a thing of popcorn at the movies, gotten to the end, and wondered where it all went (or, maybe it’s just ME?!). Taking the time to become aware of what you are eating is a way to bring mindfulness practice into your daily life. Try it with one bite of your next meal!

Over the years I’ve found some amazing sites with phenomenal vegan recipes. Thought I’d introduce you to four of my favorites!

Oh She Glows- Everything I have made from Angela Liddon’s blog has been stellar…one of my go-to sites for plant based recipes. Her recipe for a veggie burger is the very best I’ve made! She has written cookbooks too: here and here.


Yum Universe - Another tried and true blog with amazing recipes! I can always count on Heather Crosby’s recipes to be delicious! Here is her cookbook…so many great recipes to choose from.


Minimalist Baker - A great resource for plant based recipes…all of which use 10 ingredients or less. And, of course…there is a cookbook (I don’t have this cookbook yet…but if it’s anything like the blog…it will be great!)


Restorative Kitchen - This is a shameless plug for my cousin-in-law’s new whole food blog. She is awesome, and her recipes are too! Check out her blog!

mindful travel: Galapagos

mindful travel: Galapagos

I wanted a more mindful approach to traveling to the Galapagos. Rather than doing an outrageously expensive cruise, where tourists get more of a "feel" of the ship, and only leave the ship en masse to check out an island for a couple of hours, I wanted to experience life on the islands. I wanted to have the time to go at my own pace, and really take things in.