We all have a shadow self. This is the part of us we may find unattractive, problematic, troublesome. You may try to hide or ignore this part of you. It can take great effort to do this, and emotional vulnerability can prompt its emergence. Two years ago I found a beautiful meditation that allowed me to lovingly work with my shadow self, the Meditation for Guidance. I shared this meditation video a few months ago if you would like to practice it. It is my go to meditation when I'm finding that I have resistance with my shadow self or its causing me problems (again). Through this meditation practice, you can learn to embrace your shadow self and lovingly, compassionately integrate it with your total self. Sit quietly or with music and allow yourself to gently call forth this part of you. Cradle it in your loving arms, breathe healing breath through it and breathe out as you reflect on all that you love within yourself. You cannot have one without the other and through this practice you can learn to love every part of you.
I have been enjoying Rumi lately and sharing his wisdom in my classes. Here is a favorite:
“The universe is not outside of you. Look inside yourself; everything that you want, you already are.” ~ Rumi
This morning as Ollie and I walked, it was pretty quiet outside except for the sounds of birds chirping and squirrels chattering. Lately it feels like the animals are more lively and enthusiastic or perhaps that is just my perception. I noticed the daffodils have bloomed and wondered when did that happen? Spring is one of those seasons that seems to happen over night no matter how much you try to pay attention to it.
As we walked, I heard a woodpecker. I find those birds so hard to spot! Given there are no leaves on the trees yet, it felt like the opportunity to find and observe this little bird. We stopped and looked up toward the sound of the pecking and I saw it. This cute black and white bird gently pecking and then lifting her head to look around and pecking again.
When I see an unusual animal, or have a stand out encounter or dream about one, I like to look up the animal totem meaning of that animal. After arriving home, I looked up the woodpecker and read that it symbolizes a time to pay attention to changes that are happening in life and the opportunities these changes bring, success is imminent especially when you can maintain your own sense of self without interference from others. Key words include: attention, creativity, energy, creativity, determination, intuition, listening, opportunity and passion.
I resonate with this symbol at this time in my life and see it as a sign to continue with my current projects and focus and to embrace this time as an opportunity for creative and passionate growth and development.
My husband loves football. Playing it, watching it, reffing it - he loves it all. Often he talks about how the quarterback needs to have short term memory. For example, if the QB throws an interception, he needs to forget about it right away and move on. Talk about a practice of being present!
Teachers need to be this way too. It's a practice to become comfortable with because I remember when I first started teaching, I second guessed a lot of what I said and did. Analyzing every class after and sometimes during thinking why did I say that?? was that too hard?? Eventually I learned to stay connected into my heart and my intuition and to teach through those spaces. But every once in awhile something happens and there is a real challenge to stay focused and fully present. I had the fortune of this experience last night.
I began my class as usual and just as we were tuning in Ollie started barking LOUDLY. Now I live in a condo with hard wood floors and we don't have a lot of things that absorb sound. When he barks- even though I'm in a room with the door closed - you can hear it. And I knew that I had foolishly left the back door open and little Harry from upstairs was probably outside our door having a barkfest with Ollie. Lesson 1 learned - close that door before teaching. As we finished tuning in, I pressed mute and yelled OLLIE!!! And immediately after, I questioned did I hit mute?? I had to immediately put this out of my mind and move forward with class. Yes barking is annoying and there is never a good time for it during class, but we are also practicing yoga to allow us to be present with chaos around us so thank you Ollie for giving us an opportunity to practice that. Worrying if I pressed mute was going to rob me from being fully present with my class so I pushed it to the back of my mind.
And guess what? I DIDN"T PRESS MUTE!! 🤦🏻♀️ As we chatted after class, my class lovingly let me know. Needless to say I was mortified and felt awful. But sitting in those feelings also doesn't serve me. So I let it go as I write this blog. We all can ask for a little extra grace to cover us. In fact last night we meditated on this phrase: "To remain graceful in the most ungraceful times is our true human worth".
As I grew up I learned to hate my voice.
Reading what I just wrote is painful, but it's true. I received messages as a child, but particularly as a teen that my voice was loud and whiny. In some ways, I could embrace loud, but whiny was a tough one. To make this more challenging, we didn't talk much in our family so talking and sharing, especially feelings, was something I had little practice in. I can remember my throat closing and feeling a lump in my throat anytime I tried to talk about myself or share feelings.
These are challenges my adult self has embraced. Chanting mantra has been a savior in helping me to embrace my voice and to let it ring out clear and true and from my heart. Chanting creates a safe space through which I can express my feelings and my truth. I love to chant and tend to chant loudly especially with others, though I'm sure my neighbors hear it through the walls! Recently, I began singing to my class during deep relaxation. Normally, I would play gentle music or the gong or crystal singing bowls, but now that we are teaching classes virtually this is not an option. I felt quite inspired when another teacher sang during her class, it was very soothing and peaceful. A couple of weeks ago, I planned and practiced a mantra to sing and when it came time to do it I thought for a moment - DON'T DO IT!!! But, I took a deep breath and knew if I didn't try it then I may never try and I sang from my heart. And the class felt that.
I felt proud of my courage in taking this action.
I still have challenges around speaking and sharing what is in my heart and mind, what I'm feeling. I take this courage with me into my interactions with those I love as I challenge myself to let the words flow from my hear. And see where this leads.
"The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something." ~ Barack Obama
The meaning and essence of the mantra Har Har Mukanday is liberation from the obstacles that hold you back. Chanting this mantra helps you turn your challenges into opportunities.
What a mantra for this time we are living in!
Try chanting this mantra every day in April if:
...you find yourself sinking into fear or anxiety
...you are feeling stuck
...you are running out of projects to complete at home
...you are uncertain about your future
...you are tired of being in the house
...you are frustrated by your current circumstances
...you are bored with technology
...you are worried about the health of yourself, your loved ones, your finances
...your mind isn't turning off even when it's time to sleep
...you are consuming too much media
...you feel things will be different, but aren't sure how
...you are feeling called to make changes in your life big or small.
Chant the mantra with music or without. Commit to chanting it daily for a minimum of 11 minutes and notice the shifts that take place within you. Shift your vibration and your mindset. And turn your obstacles into opportunities.
Notice shifts in your vibration, emotions, mindset and thought patterns.
And turn your obstacles into opportunities.
We all experience stress and frustration right? And in this pressure cooker environment we are currently living in that stress and frustration can seemingly come out of nowhere. Maybe you have been managing everything in your life so well for the last few weeks and are suddenly feeling stress or anxiety creep in. Or maybe you are missing your normal outlets - sports, meals out, social activities, classes - and feel the confinement is getting to you.
Take a deep breath.
It's okay and you are allowed to have the feelings you are experiencing. This is your time to use your tools. Get your heart rate up, move your body vigorously, it will help you return to a more relaxed state. Today I felt it... and a run while talking with a friend was my salvation. I was able to speak my mind, feel validated and exercise all at the same time. We need that and it's good to know who you can turn to when you are feeling, stressed or scared or frustrated or uncertain... or all of the above. Breathe deeply and allow yourself to experience your challenges as gifts. Learn what you can and keep moving forward.
I use Momentum as my home page and when I opened a new tab this morning, the message there was Invest in yourself. It's an excellent daily reminder to do one thing to nurture and invest in myself. That could be anything from making the challenging sales call to creating space for a bath to pushing myself on my run to eating a nourishing meal. Set a goal to do one thing to invest in yourself every day. This allows you sense of control and mastery in your life as you send yourself the message that you matter.
Last night we had our first rainstorm of the spring. Thunder and lightening makes my pup nervous so he woke me up as the lightening began (he knows that thunder is coming!). As a result, I had the gift of lying in bed in the middle of the night sandwiched in between my cat on one side and my pup on the other - it's amazing there is actually room for my husband and me too - listening to the pouring rain, the thunder and experiencing the lightening. Despite the crashing thunder and the pounding rain on the window, it was peaceful. It felt cleansing like Mother Earth is giving us a much needed shower. I find myself thinking twice before touching anything outside of my home with my bare hand these days. The rain felt like a momentary reprieve where all was cleansed and pure. I felt very grateful for the quiet time in the middle of the night. Cozy, cuddled and at peace (I wish I could say the same for Ollie). And I find myself anticipating the storms this afternoon and some warmer weather and what it will bring.
I am an animal loving-Vegan runner, I practice and teach Kundalini Yoga and I love to cook and eat flavorful plant-based food.