“We need to learn that obstacles and challenges may always prevail in our lives, but we do not have to hurt.” Sri Swamini Mayatitananda (Maya Tiwari)
Denial seems to be built into the consciousness of our families, our society, and our conscious reality. We would much rather ignore than embrace. We would much rather not accept than accept. Somehow this seems to be much easier, because it requires no work at all, whereas accepting and embracing all of it takes deep inner-work.
Living in denial is not accepting some part of your life that you don’t like or want to be different. Life is miraculously imperfect and perfect.
When your child has something wrong, has an incurable condition, or genetic condition it is extremely difficult to accept. Actually, it is very painful and heartbreaking to accept. How do you accept that your child has a rare genetic condition? I will tell you that accepting that my daughter has Tuberous Sclerosis Complex is a daily practice. I share my story because I know that other parents are facing similar situations. This is not limited to my particular situation. We all at times are in a process of accepting the most challenging parts of our lives.
I have come to the conclusion that being in denial is not helpful for anyone, especially my daughter. If I deny that she has Tuberous Sclerosis Complex, I am not accepting reality and or prepared to face what she may experience with presence and compassion. I have to be present when I sit at the doctor’s office with her, give her vitamins, be attentive when she swims, gets an MRI, and watch her grow into the person she will be.
If I accept, and embrace all of it then I can work with her. I can fight and advocate for her, and work to support, and nourish her. When I accept the situation, I am ready and willing to meet what happens fully. Then, I can do everything in my power to help her heal. Yes, heal. There is no cure for this condition, yet there is a way to change the expression of her condition—I believe.
Some days more challenging than others. I pray and wish that she didn’t have this condition, and I worry about her daily. I have a choice. I can worry, and deny reality or accept it. Most days, I choose acceptance as challenging as it is. Deep breaths, prayer, meditation, asana, and mantra—it all makes a difference.
The blessing is that my daughter is doing well. She is making progress. She is seizure free, and her lesions have not grown as far as we know. She is strong willed, independent, fiery, and determined. She is not her condition, and none of us are the conditions that we have.
If we are willing to step into empowerment, we can transform our suffering and denial into the light of acceptance where it all can be healed.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you would like to know more about Tuberous Sclerosis, please visit the Tubersous Sclerosis Alliance’s homepage.
Day of Ancestors Meditation
I listen to your stories woven in the wind
Heal your lineage,
awaken your lives with deep awareness
honor ancient wisdom that speaks quietly in the leaves of our unified family tree.
Blessings on this Autumn Equinox! And, all of the abundance that the fall harvest brings, like butternut squash soup, cozy sweaters, golden sunsets, and spell binding winds of change.
It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants.
The question is; what are we busy about?
-Henry David Thoreau
Every aspect, EVERY, aspect of our lives is important. When we don’t focus on one area of our lives and give it attention, it changes and morphs into something else. That one area that we didn’t pay attention to can become something less than desirable like ill health, empty bank accounts, and lost love. When we lose our health, we have forgotten about our own needs. In our super busy lives, we can’t always focus on every area of our life. I can’t. The lesson every part of our life is important, and deserves attention. They say god(goddess) is in the details, and it may just be true.
(The funny thing about this lesson and this quote is that there are sugar ants all over my house that I can’t get rid of. I get rid of them and they come again. My daughter seems to be feeding them her small scraps. Damn those ants are persistent.)
Aha moments are like finding the perfect quartz crystal buried in the dirt. They illuminate the path.
We all have gifts to offer. We all have a divine purpose. Yet, sometimes we wander aimlessly or clearly in the wrong direction until we get there, or we don’t recognize what gifts we do have. Lately, I have been feeling less than inspired, and trying to figure out why. It hit me. I missed teaching. I missed being a teacher. I missed having a class. I missed engaging. My purpose is to teach, and when I am not actively teaching for awhile, I start to miss it, and feel without purpose. My classroom and students have changed, because I no longer have four walls and desks in front of me, but a 17-month old who is my teacher and most important student. So, I am still looking for my next classroom and waiting to meet new students.
How do you discover your divine purpose?
I look at our divine purpose as the one thing that you must do in life. It is the illuminating spark that keeps you interested, motivated, inspired, and devoted.
Actualize your PURPOSE!
1. Make a list, answering these questions: What do you do that wows people? What do you love doing? What do you dream about? What keeps you interested, motivated, inspired, and devoted? If you don’t have the answers to any of these questions, the answers will show themselves through discovery and diving into your inner-world.
2. Do your answers complement your current situation? If not, how can you make changes to your life? Research. Find out what it may take.
3. Write a vision of the perfect scenario. Make it feel real. Make it feel dreamy. Fall in love with your vision.
4. Make a plan that outlines goals, deadlines, and how you are going to meet your goals. This is the action packed part. This is where you can actualize your purpose.
5. Let it all sink into your being.
Friends, I invite you along with me to take part in 15-Minutes of silent prayer or meditation on Friday August 29th at 10:00AM Mountain Time (9:00AM PST, 12:00PM EST). I invite you to stop what you are doing, and take a moment to pause for peace. You can honor this time how you wish, and can do this from wherever you are. The idea is to set the intention and energy towards peace.
Right now, as I write this many people around the world are experiencing some form of violence in their own homes, communities, and countries. And, here in our country a young innocent child named Michael Brown was killed-unjustly. I can’t ignore that this happened. I can’t ignore the fact that it is completely heartbreaking.
I remember a very clear moment in my last year of teaching at Chelsea High School in Chelsea, Massachusetts. One of my students had witnessed his friend being shot. I remember not knowing what to do, and I remember realizing that there was nothing I could do but show up to work the next day and teach. I knew deeply that his life would be forever changed. I knew that innocence was lost that day. As a result of a series of violence, Chelsea held a peace walk. In unison the entire school walked throughout the town of Chelsea. It was powerful and memorable.
Violence creates a ripple effect. We all feel it in subtle ways no matter how far removed we are from it. I feel we all are responsible for creating peace in our selves, our homes, and in turn our communities. Peace instead of violence can become a ripple effect when we take action towards creating more peace, and less violence.
I am asking you to join me in taking a pause for peace for everyone that is experiencing suffering in the deepest of ways, and for every child that loses his or her innocence to violence.
My deepest blessings. May all beings be free from suffering. May there be peace.
You witness, you embody, you hope, you pray daily, you cry, and you let go.
Every day transformations
Every day growth.
You attach to one moment that completely amazes you, opens your heart more and more to joy, and then another comes.
You practice impermanence quietly praying that this moment will last forever somewhere deep inside your heart,
and then the next moment comes.
“…We have only finite means to know the infinite. When the finite merges in the infinite, everything becomes infinite. Consider the sky. The sky is finite as well as infinite. None can touch it, yet we are in contact with it at every moment of our lives. Similarly, you and I have to use finite means–body, mind, intelligence and consciousness–to reach the infinite seat of the soul which is the mother of all these things.” BKS Iyengar from The Tree of Yoga
This post is in dedication to BKS Iyengar who has recently passed. His passing has deeply touched me. Iyengar yoga has been a healing practice for me. Yoga brought me and my beloved together, and it is a very much a part of our lives. Iyengar yoga is the very practice that has taught me how to be in my body, and be aware of every cell of my body. We may think and desire to get out of our body to evolve or transcend. In my experience, evolution is about being in our body and in every cell of our being becoming fully grounded, present, and connected.
Guruji leaves behind
teachings that grow like roots through
our extended limbs
our expanded minds
wisdom continuing on
in the roots of practice
ever present in experience.
My deepest gratitude, blessings, and a deep bow to Guruji BKS Iyengar. Thank you for your teachings and wisdom that carries through.
I share my practice with you that I did in celebration of Guruji Iyengar.
Before practicing this sequence please note the following as it is a more advanced sequence. Please only practice inversions if you have a regular inversions practice, and do not attempt if you have a neck or back injury. Please refrain from practicing back bends or inversions if you are on your moon cycle. Please adjust all asanas for your body, and use supports where needed i.e chair, bolster, straps, blocks. Also, check in with your regular teacher for guidance on any postures discussed here. Thank you and blessings!
1. Adho Mukha Virasana (downward facing hero pose)
2. Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog)
3. Uttanasana (forward fold)
4. Urdhva Prasarita Eka Padasana (standing split)
5. Ardha Badha Padmottanasana (standing half lotus)
6. Utthita Hasta Padangustasana (extended hand to big toe pose)
8. Parsvottanasana (intense side stretch)
9. Prasarita Padottanasana (wide angle standing forward bend)
10. Sirsasana (5-minutes)
11. Adho Mukha Virasana to Adho Mukha Svanasana with heels at the wall
12. Ustrasana 3x’s (camel pose)
13.Urdhva Danurasana 3x’s (wheel)
14. Dwi Pada Viparita Dandasana (with or without props ; two legged inverted staff pose)
15. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (bridge pose with props)
16. Supta padangustasana series (reclined hand to big toe pose)
17. Urdhva Mukha Paschimottanasana II (upward facing intense west stretch) then bring your knees into your chest
18. Rest as you wish.
A group of monastic sisters sit eating. Their backs are hunched over, bodies caved in, hearts protected, and heads bowed quietly eating. Their backs covered in energetic armor.
Our back body and spine tell a story. What does their story tell—devotion, protection, shame, or obedience? What does our back body and spine say about our experience? Are we aware of what we hold in our armor?
We experience life through our front body as we engage with our world through our sense organs, while our back body responds to every one of these encounters. Energetically, we undulate between our front and back body balancing in the core of our being—our spine.
Our spine is our divine channel. When we relax into our spine we open the energetic channels of our entire being.
Practices for relaxing into back body:
- Svanasana: Resting on your back in svanasana begin to pay attention to your back body. Bring your awareness to the back of the head, neck, shoulders, back of the arms, spine, whole of the back, back of the knees, legs, ankles and heels. Once you get to the feet bring the energy back up through the spine. Focus on each vertebrae starting at the base of your spine from the sacrum and moving up towards to the back of your head. And, then rest for 10 minutes or longer.
- Elongate the spine vertebrae by vertebrae. You can do this through a series of asanas focusing on extending the spinal column. My suggested asanas are uttanasana, paschimottanasana, virasana with arm variations specifically urdhva hasta and baddhanguliyasana, sirsasana (5-minutes), sarvangasana (5-minutes). Please only attempt inversions if you have a dedicated inversion practice and can maintain alignment and stamina in those asanas. To rest into your back body more deeply, I recommend practicing restorative asanas like supta badha konasana and supta virasana.
- Use essential oils to awaken your spine, such as frankincense, wild orange, lavender, or fir.
- In meditation visualize your spine being an open channel reaching through the earth and up through the crown and beyond.
- Express the story of your back body. Are you protecting your heart so fiercely that you have built up energetic armor? Do you experience back pain from past trauma? Do you resist opening your back?
- Lay in the grass! Rest into the earth!
“The yogi never neglects or mortifies the body or the mind, but cherishes both. To him the body is not an impediment to his spiritual liberation nor is it the cause of its fall, but is an instrument of attainment. He seeks a body as a thunderbolt, healthy and free from suffering so as to dedicate it in the service of the Lord for which it is intended.” -BKS Iyengar, Light on Yoga.
Three-years ago, I didn’t feel confident and felt disconnected. I was in a new relationship with my now partner, and in that ambiguous stage of fear and uncertainty. I began to compare myself to a lot of voluptuous women. I was daydreaming of what it would actually be like to have curves, and actually be voluptuous. I was thinking of those old Vargas girls. I always thought of them as deeply feminine, and had wished I had that body type. One night at 1:30am I was curious about breast implants, and started doing all of this research. Luckily, I was incredibly horrified at what I found out. In the middle of my in-depth research my cup of almond milk, ghee, cardamom, and cinnamon spills all over my computer. My computer was covered in my tea concoction. I freak out, and laugh because clearly I needed to stop the madness. The divine has a sense of humor at times. I bring my computer to the Apple store and the Mac Genius dude opens my computer and looks at my computer very confused. Ghee and almond milk are crusted onto my entire motherboard. I had to buy a new computer, which is much cheaper than plastic surgery, I may add. Full of shame and feeling rather ridiculous, I came to realize that I needed to accept myself as I was and cherish my body, instead of focusing on what I didn’t have, which was causing me suffering.
When we look in the mirror we see what we don’t have, and desire a different image. We compare ourselves to the next woman. We don’t see our true essence or beauty. We end up embodying not our own body but the desire for another body, look, and image. This creates separation within us and between our sisters.
Our body is our sanctuary for our own unique divinity. Yet, so often we desire to recreate, and re-imagine our body. The body changes and will always change through age.
Give your body the food it needs to be healthy, honor your spirit’s sanctuary through positive and nourishing relationships, see and feel yourself as beautiful, remove the mirrors, remove the magazines, try to limit negative self-talk, practice self-love and self-acceptance daily, and feed yourself nourishment that your body needs to thrive and be vibrant.