Practices for Getting Rooted

walking in the grass

Our roots anchor us when so much of our busy lives can displace us.

Simple is always going to feel better to our spirit than busy, complicated, and overwhelmed.

Walking barefoot always feels better than with shoes on.

My Practices for Getting Rooted

  1. Simplify your schedule. Say “no” more often. Create a schedule that gives you space and allows you to get what you need done. One thing you can do is schedule this time in. I write on my schedule things like “Beth Time.” This way I am more likely to honor that time.
  2. Create a self-care routine. Routine creates balance and makes us happy. We all have a routine that when we are busy we easily forget. Getting rooted means adding some element of a self-care routine into our daily lives. For me it’s my morning tea and journal followed by some asana.
  3. Eat grounding foods. Some foods lighten and others ground. I need grains to feel grounded and connected to Earth. I also need unctuous comfort foods to feel nourished. Get connected to the Earth by eating healthy, organic, wholesome and nourishing foods for your body.
  4. Plant your bare feet on the Earth. We all need more time to feel the Earth beneath our feet—not pavement. When we connect to the Earth’s energy we reconnect to ourselves.
  5. Getting Rooted Meditation.
    Start in a comfortable cross-legged position, sitting on blankets, a meditation cushion or sit outside in nature. Close your eyes and allow your organs of perception to be quiet and passive. Become aware of your breath spending a few moments connecting to yourself. As you breathe bring your awareness to your exhale. Allow the exhale to be longer than your inhale so that the exhale releases tension throughout the body. Next, bring your attention to the base of your spine at the tailbone. Imagine roots reaching down through the Earth grounding you to the core of the Earth’s energy. Now, bring that energy up through those roots all the way up your spine to the crown of your head. Pause. On your next exhale allow Earth energy to flow back down from the crown of your head all the way back down the spine. Release all that is no longer needed. You can continue to practice in this way, or come back to regular breathing.

You can listen to the meditation below. :

P.S-This is my first attempt at adding a recording here. I will say my gratitude now to Mercury for being kind and graceful on this first attempt.

Relaxing into the Back Body

IMG_4812

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Use essential oils to awaken your spine, such as frankincense, wild orange, lavender, or fir.
  4. In meditation visualize your spine being an open channel reaching through the earth and up through the crown and beyond.
  5. 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?
  6. Lay in the grass! Rest into the earth!

 

 

 

 

To Brilliance

photo

To Brilliance

(a new poem)

To Brilliance

Of being

Agenda-less for right now

Of making no meaning

To this moment or the next

 

To Brilliance

Of being

Spellbound by life

A blade of grass surfing in wind

An empty hammock waiting for a visitor

Quiet blossoms reaching for rain

Ordinary love that completes

And, her laughter

To Brilliance

Of being

Ordinary

And, exquisitely human

(Remember this.)

Balance, A Fine Line

Everyday, I “try” to create some semblance of balance, harmony in my world, but more often than not I feel like the master of the marionette trying to get the marionette to walk on a thin tight rope and not fall off. Or, it’s a little like sirsasana (head stand) with a cute, cuddly, one-year old laughing in your face, trying to kiss you, while you stand on your head up side down about to fall over in all directions with legs flailing—and yes this has happened several times now, and I laugh.

Balance is a fine line. You move too far over the line and you are imbalanced, legs flailing, falling out of the perfect balance you have created. It doesn’t take much at times for all of us to lose balance when there are many distractions. It is actually quite easy.

Lately, my life has felt like I’m leaning over that fine-line about to fall off, and some days I completely do. All it takes for me is not doing my mantra or meditation practice, additional sleep deprivation, a conversation gone awry, a teething baby, work, and anything else. When we are out of balance we are in a place of vulnerability. We are susceptible to losing our ground, our integrity, our faith, our truth, our health, our vitality, and our selves.

As a new mom with a one-year old, balance looks different. It looks a little like chaos at times. In motherhood, (parenthood) you are not only trying to stay balanced for yourself, but for your child and family. You let go of your own desire for balance to make sure that your child receives exactly what they need. And, you know exactly what happens when needs are not met for a one-year old. Hello chaos.

I have collected a list on how to stay in some sort of balance even when it is chaos. I am still learning and growing.

  1. Breathe deeply taking a longer exhale. It will pass, keep breathing.
  2. Chant OM. It works when the baby is crying and/or not sleeping, when you feel like crying, or maybe you need to cry.
  3. I am not okay without my essential oils. I have been rubbing Balance by DoTerra on my feet daily. Essential oils save me every time.
  4. 5 minutes of any form of yoga, meditation, or mantra counts. I promise you.
  5. Eat foods that are wholesome, nourishing, healthy, and have a lot of prana. A lot of sugar is not helpful, even if deeply satisfying when you are over the tipping point. When you are imbalanced emotionally, your health suffers.
  6. Surrender deeply to where you are at, accept it, and transform what is not serving you. Easier to say, harder to do.
  7. Go for a walk in nature.
  8. Realize that none of this is about YOU or ME or I. With a child you have the opportunity to become more and more selfless, and learn what that means.
  9. Discover that harmony is not always a quiet, peaceful, tranquil, silent, retreat-space. (Trust me, I have daydreamed about a silent retreat.) Harmony is also complete chaos; learn what the chaos is about.
  10. Know that at all times something will be out of balance, always. Working towards perfection will only drive you and everyone around you nuts.
  11. See and feel the joy of life. It really is in the mundane.

 

The Why(s) of Life

Bleary-eyed I am pacing the hospital hallway at 3:30AM chanting quietly to myself and sobbing. Children are crying in rooms with closed doors. My baby is one of them, while the doctors put an IV in her little arm.  I am wondering why is this happening.

As a mother, there is nothing worse than your child being sick, hurt, or in pain. Nothing. Why is this happening? I kept asking every being I ever prayed to—why? Only to realize the answer to that why is another why with no definitive answer.

The back-story is that my daughter was having infantile spasms. At first, we were unsure of what she was doing and why. We took a video and went to the doctor. That night we were driving to the hospital. I don’t like hospitals. I don’t buy into Western Medicine. However, Western Medicine serves a purpose at times especially in this case. After many tests, ultrasounds, an MRI (I think this is by far a harrowing experience. I sat in the room with my daughter, and when I came out of there I felt like my entire being had been electric shocked and I was shaking. Maybe the best part was for the techs watching me do pranayama, braid my hair, bumblebee breath with full on digital actions, and try to not go mad in 25-minutes.), Visual EEG (They all probably loved that as I would curl up in the crib to breastfeed my baby. It was full on acrobatics.), EKG, and numerous doctors visiting until we finally received a diagnosis. My daughter has been diagnosed with Tuberous Sclerosis, which is a rare genetic condition that causes benign tubers or tumors to grow. Hers are in her brain causing seizures. Why would this happen to an innocent child? Why? Honestly, I am still struggling, because it is very unfair and I can’t seem to understand. Yes, I am pissed off at the divine for this happening to my little girl.

We have all been there before. Trying to find answers to why something horribly terrifying and heartbreaking is happening.  Sometimes we receive an answer and other times we do not.

My friend called with the answer. The most perfect answer at that moment. This is a divine orchestration she said, and part of your daughter’s path and something for all of you to learn.

Divine orchestration. I sat with that in silence listening deeply.

The next day my father gave his wisdom, “Love trumps all.”

In these moments it is hard to think that suffering can be divinely orchestrated. We may not know and ever be able to understand why something happens. What I do know is that no matter what happens love helps us to overcome adversity and that adversity strengthens us.

All we have is TODAY and it is divinely orchestrated.

**Prayers for my baby girl and our family are welcome. For it is the power of prayer that has gotten me through as well as breathing, mantra, pranayama, practice, chocolate, the love that is overflowing from our community, and my daughter’s smile. **

 

Mirror Lake

Image

We went backpacking to an Alpine Lake at 11,000 feet. The water was clear, like a mirror. We celebrated the quiet, the call of elk, and hawk. I thought how simple it would be to live within the rhythm of nature and honor it’s course. And, yet, we live so disconnected from its pulse that we can barely sense it on a day to day basis. Nature heals us, and grounds us into our own self. Without the noise of society’s conveniences, imagine what we would hear, see, feel, be? Imagine.

When I was in high school, I wrote a story about a girl named Valencia who imagined that the world went quiet  except for the sound of nature. All human sounds  went silent. She thrived. This was one of my first published pieces. In a lot of ways I am Valencia, I do wish for my yurt, in the middle of the jungle with my family, and a huge garden with only the sounds of nature.

Being in nature reminded me that everything in life is an invitation to experience life as a living prayer.

Go with the Flow

IMG_2663

I was resting in savasana. My baby girl and husband also in savasana. Each of us in our own varieties. I was laying over bolsters, he was on the sarvanghasana bench in setu bandha sarvanghasana, and the baby sleeping on wool blankets. I felt like I was in a dream I manifested…a man I love doing yoga with me, a baby resting quietly…life is sweet.

I laid there finally resting and breathing. Earlier in the day, I lit some incense on my altar and asked for help. I was feeling frustrated and as if my inner-warrior was coming out to play in a very fiery way in other words–stay clear. It appeared like nothing was working, and my communication with everyone was unclear. I also have been feeling like I am at this pivotal point as if something is about to happen that I’ve been waiting for, and I have no idea exactly what it is. Have you ever had that feeling? Like you know it’s right there waiting for you, and you feel it, but it is just not time yet. Or, maybe it is not ready yet, and you are feeling its subtle waves slowly creeping onto shore.

As I begin to sense these waves, I force myself into the future by thinking that I should be there already. We are so ready to force ourselves into the future that we get so frustrated with ourselves and the process that we lose track of what is happening. In my projection into the future, I was losing patience with my daughter and her needs. I was losing patience with the fact that I was unable to complete the many tasks I had to, and wanted to. I was losing patience with myself.

It is amazing what asking for a little help and the gift of a small offering can do. The storm that was brewing calmed. Yoga happened, and as I laid there in svasana a voice said, ” Let go and go with the organic flow of life.”  Aha!

Rites of Passage

IMG_2946

 

This is a view of the Jemez fire. Jemez is a sacred place for me. You can feel the energy of the fires from a distance. You know they are present every day in the heat and smoke. You can feel mother nature speak through the fires. You know that she has something to say to us all. Personally, I crave a deep expanding ocean, and I pray for rain.

Fire transforms. It is from fire that new growth comes. We plant new seeds. Fire makes me think of the rites of passages we take in life. We need the energy of fire- heat, passion, conviction, courage,  determination, and motivation to walk the path.

Can you think of a time in your life when you felt like life was giving you a lot to handle? Or a time when you felt like all of you was transforming inside and out? Or a time when you didn’t know if you were actually going to make it? Or when suddenly your entire life changed and you were not given a guidebook to “figure it out?” Rites of passage are opportunities to transform and shift our inner landscape, and it takes fire or tapas.

For me being a new mom is a rite of passage. Each day I feel a part of me transform and shift. At times, like at 3:41am, I simply want to surrender and feel like giving up, yet a subtle voice says, “You can’t.” And, I really can’t. It is a daily lesson. I am being schooled by a 6-week old in the most beautiful and challenging of ways. I have looked back and now can see all of the ways I was prepared for this one rite of passage, and I can see all of the other rites of passages I went through to arrive right here.

Right now, it feels as if everyone is experiencing a rite of passage. It is collective. We all need a little fire and tapas to transform and then arrive.

 

“Rites of Passage”

Draw it in

Draw it out.

Lean in.

Lean out.

Walk in.

Walk out.

Swim into.

Swim into your evolution.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s OK to not be OK.

“When things fall apart and we can’t get the pieces back together, when we lose something dear to us, when the whole thing is just not working and we don’t know what to do this, is the time when the natural warmth of tenderness, the warmth of empathy and kindness, are just waiting to be uncovered, just waiting to be embraced. This is our chance to come out of our self-protecting bubble and to realize that we are never alone. This is our chance to finally understand that wherever we go, everyone we meet is essentially just like us. Our own suffering, if turn toward it, can open us to a loving relationship with the world.” –Pema Chodron from her book Taking the Leap

Are you or were you like me responding to every “How are you?” with “I am fine,” “I am okay,” when you are clearly not okay, not fine, not well, and may even be falling apart inside, but to keep up the facade you simply say, “I’m fine.” What if we all chose to say the truth of how we really were? What would happen?

Saying that you are doing okay when you truly are not is trying to keep up a facade that all is nice and great, even if it’s not the truth. In the yoga, healing, and wellness communities I see this all of the time. We see bright, shiny, happy people plastered all over Facebook and in ads doing asana, meditating, etc looking like all is great. Is it the truth? If you want to attract clientele and students, you have to present yourself in such a way that you have to make it look like everything in your world is peaceful, happy, and great even if it may not be.  Every time we create this “I’m okay,” “All is fabulous,” facade, we are lying to ourselves and contracting our emotional body.

The truth is one of my deeply nurtured patterns was to say that everything was okay, until it wasn’t and I could no longer lie. My students were very observant and survivalists. They knew. It was in my last year of teaching in Chelsea, and I was in the middle of my life proverbially falling apart (for the better) before me. I was trying so hard to show up everyday with a smile and pretend to be the strong, resilient teacher I had thought myself to be. I failed. I caved before them, a classroom full of teenagers.  I told them I wasn’t okay, and was crying before them. It was an awesome moment. I remember their faces, their compassion, and their complete empathy, and understanding. Why did I wait so long to tell the truth? What was I so afraid of? Was it that I was actually afraid that if I admitted I wasn’t okay that somehow I’d be rejected or unloved? Then, my friend said to me, “Beth you always say everything is fine and ya know what I know you are not okay and what you are going through is not okay.” That was that.

I made a promise after some time spent falling down to not hide anymore, and to tell the truth. I can’t lie, because it hurts my heart too much. Luckily, my partner in life sees me completely and knows when I am lying. He knows when I am not okay, and makes me communicate. At times, it’s downright uncomfortable, and I want to crawl back into my hideout, but it’s not an option.

Telling the truth to myself and those I’m in relationship with has brought me peace, greater acceptance of myself and others, a deeper knowing that we are all in this together, and in telling the truth I healed what was not okay in my life.

Start with YOU. What if you simply told the truth to yourself first? Then, it may be possible to open up to those in your world in a deeper more intimate way.

May all be healed.