Projection and Protection

I love the way these two words roll together: projection and protection. Talk about a balance! It is an art of projecting ourselves vibrantly and still protecting our needs and safety with boundaries. It is that grey area where vulnerability becomes both an exposed, unexplored territory and a comfortable, authentic place. When we project our needs and wants too much, we lose the ability to listen, relate and ultimately protect ourselves from missing out on learning from and living with others in a powerful way. Connecting on a deeper level beyond, “hey, let’s grab a beer or maybe just be facebook friends and call it good” takes the willingness to project and then protect. Grasping the knowledge of how much to protect versus how much energy to project is in constant flux depending on the “who, what, when, where and how”. The “why” is irrelevant because why we’re doing it is obvious: WE’RE ALIVE!

In Kundalini yoga, the work is focused on cultivating and radiating light and energy, while protecting the soul from harsh negativity and toxic environments. The simplicity of this powerful P mantra is wonderful! PROJECT AND PROTECT — basically, take risks but stay grounded! Live life to the fullest and never forget you are worthy enough to protect, cherish and love yourself with 108% 🙂 Build the barrier, break it down and build a new one. To me, I see it as a reminder that we are never the same from one day to the next. We have to continually push the limits on our projections and refine the level to which we protect based on how much we trust our environment. The P mantra illustrates how we do not have to be one or the other, but a cohesive unit of stability and freedom!

~Peace

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Heartbroken or defeated?

Tonight, when chatting with a good friend, she posed a brilliant question that I wanted to share with you all. In those situations, relationships, and life decisions (whether extremely major or minimally minor) where things do not go the way we planned, are we really heartbroken or are we just really pissed we lost. The trouble with creating expectations or emotionally investing in people and environments around us is that we end up broken and/or defeated more than feeling overjoyed. How often does a day at work end with no stress and a clean slate? Or how often does a friendship or relationship come to form in the way your mind builds the picture?

Of course it doesn’t…that’s the beauty of life and learning to trust. Nonetheless, we ALL are still left with sadness, confusion, struggle (to name a few!) when things take a detour from our original plan. In Buddhism, the practice encourages getting farther from clinging to ideas or things, as nothing is stagnant or permanent. Developing the patience to accept the detours, notice the new surroundings, and actually cherish the route (rather than stay hooked on the old terrain) is a hell of a lot harder than having things stay on track.

And when they do become ‘astray’ (or ‘redirected’ depending on the attitude), how often is it that we are really heartbroken versus defeated by the competitive nature to control the outcome? Especially in relationships, the term heartbroken gets thrown around like it’s candy on Halloween. Not to discount the intensity of heartbreak, or even the sweetness of candy…but next time you find yourself fighting for a relationship or a job or a personal goal, ask yourself, “would I be heartbroken?” (a.k.a. is this truly worth fighting for) OR “would I simply be extremely frustrated that I lost?” Is it a battle of winning or is it truth and genuine pursuit to follow Divinity? Clinging to the idea of something is a false mask to the inherent love that exists in certain things and people in our lives. And maybe we can only know when we’ve experienced it all — loss, heartbreak, joy and success. The one thing we can count on though is that in the end, it always returns to L.O.V.E. This is your world, I am just apart of it…so make it what you will and I will do the same.

With love and gratitude!!

Endless giant scavenger hunt

With a whole four days off, I have had the time to analyze and sit with the feelings/curiosities of where I am at in my life on a multi-dimensional level. The first reaction from my ego is to judge myself and think about the levels where I could improve or how I should be doing something differently then I already do. But thankfully, the softer side of me comes in and grants me a friendly reminder.

I have now come to the understanding that I can only physically, mentally, spiritually and professionally push myself so hard for the effort to be construcitve and sustainable. Pushing the extremes will produce fabulous temporary results, but will ultimately lead to a face plant in the ground. The Type A side of me wants to throw full passion and effort into every aspect of my life. But somewhere, there is a little Buddha on my shoulder quietly shouting at me to find some balanced stability in gentleness. From this intuition, I have come to the recognition that I have to ease up on some aspects and see where my efforts can be further spread out. And then there is the lesson that in order to gain more…it’s actually the letting go, combined with forgiveness, that is most crucial.

We all seem to be walking around like we’re on a giant scavenger hunt; having to figure out the missing ingredient to a balanced life. But maybe the truth is that there is nothing missing and the scavenger hunt is really just a game to get closer to ourselves. We may have to follow others’ paths until we ultimately end up at our own. Personally, I think one of the hardest things about holding passion for multiple things is that I am torn in different directions. I feel a litte trapped into an unconscious world of fighting between the things I really love and feeling as if I should adopt a practice, activity, habit, belief into my life because someone else finds benefit in it.

I notice it is the habitual daily patterns that both enhance and provide room for growth in my life. The concept of comparison has hit our culture hard! We want to compare meaningless materialistic crap, spiritual knowledge, physical strength, etc…and then amount it all to determining someone’s worth on this Earth. I am 100% guilty of being sucked into it more often than I’d like to admit. As much as I try to say “no” and stand tall (well as tall as a 5’3″ girl can), I occasionally find myself being dragged into the mindset of hunting for the missing ingredient. But in the end, aren’t we still the same beings whether we choose to push harder or ease up? It is a difficult balance to establish because as much of it is about being rather than doing, we can do some pretty awesome, positive things that can amplify who we are and the community we create.

As 2011 creeps to an end, I vow to work on letting go at overachieving in all aspects of my life and forgiving myself for thinking I had to in the first place. I want to choose to celebrate the efforts that have enlightened my spirit, rather than categorizing them into the should haves, supposed tos, or the “thank goodness I didn’t screw that one up”. The truth is: I am not who I was six months, six days, or even six minutes ago. But no matter what, I continually question who I am based on what I do and the intention I set forth into each day.

Ask yourself — Who am I? I hope you see ALL the love over the hate and the passion over the struggle!

* deep breaths, heartbeats, and melodies *

This Thanksgiving, I am most thankful for all the deep breaths, fast heartbeats, and various artistic melodies that have gotten me through my first year of working at a non-profit, moving twice, two ACL tears/recoveries and encountering a whole new city of people and environments — all 1200 miles away from my family.

A year ago, I was home celebrating the life of my grandmother and just stepping into my job.  This year, as I now stay “home” in San Francisco, I realize that my family has kept me safe and supported through the ups and downs, but beneath their support, my deep breaths have been the most intimate and powerful source of grounding and healing for me. When I was immobile and left mentally and physically broken for months after my surgery, my reservoir of breath reminded me of the cyclical nature of new days and the inherent healing power of our bodies.

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When I regained enough strength, I was enlivened by my abundant heartbeats. It’s astonishing how easy we can take them for granted…as they drum loudly keeping us alive through every experience of our lives. To be able to push myself and be reborn into running, hiking, biking, yoga, climbing, and life at a higher frequency empowered me to spread the energetic positivity of heartbeats (and also deep breaths) to others. Teaching yoga at JCYC has been a heart-felt journey of letting structure and technique melt with vulnerability and trust. The willingness of my coworkers to get on their mat every week (and allow me to guide them through uncomfortable hamstrings stretches and sticking their butt in the air!) has impressed me enormously. Breaking down the professional and adding in the personal at my work is another aspect of my life that I am thankful for because I feel I can truly be ME when I show up each day.

Lastly, as part of my daily routines, I have invited a more extensive plethora of music into my life. When I stop to reflect on what I’m grateful for this holiday season, I am noticing the deep influence of the vibrant melodies, beats, and uplifting awesomeness of music. And the beautiful thing is that music propels and inspires my deep breaths, as well as, powers up my heartbeats. The unison (a.k.a. yoga) of these three things in my life opens my heart, expands my compassion, sharpens my patience, and invites everlasting love to each day. With this foundation, I feel closer to the people that mean the most to me and more invested in the work/play I do — with way more rhythm in the melody of my life! This life truly is Divine!

~”Be yourself, everyone else is already taken!”

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The face in the mirror

The more challenges that come my way the more I realize that we will be presented with personal obstacles time and time again, and right when we start to think we have out-smarted ourselves, we go and do it again. In my line of work, so many of my personal challenges melt into my professional world because I invest a large amount of my energy and passion into my daily work. On one hand, I am deeply grateful for that inner fire to show up everyday at work with the same motivation. On the other hand, I am noticing how often I am faced with the lesson of managing high expectations on myself both at and away from work.

My mother provides a great safety cushion for me to fall on when I need to reflect my actions, accomplishments and disappointments. Lately, her wisdom has been crucial to reshaping the belief systems I manifest each day. Especially in the last couple months, I am working on coming to terms with the truth that the same things I am telling her are frustrating me in my day are still issues she faces when she walks into work each day. It’s the beautiful bliss of social work and direct service, but also the mindfulness practice required for Type A, over-achiever, sometimes spastic women (yes, 99% me!) Whether that’s positive or destructive…well, that can show up both in the same day!

Lately at work, I have been both taking on responsibility but also making some mistakes within new systems that I helped establish. The new initiative has deeply empowered me to dive further into the programs where I work. The mistakes are humbling me to acknowledge my humanness of imperfection and ability to expand my awareness in the menial tasks of data. It’s quite amazing how a couple of numbers can add up to much more than principally conceived.

In the moment, “humble” is not exactly the word I would use to describe my behavior and self-love. Disappointed and overall pissed would be more like it! This intense nature is when the mirror of who I am shows up and reflects where I need to invite my inner child to play and offer up some gentleness to my soul. Facing this conscious reflection also is a harsh reality. To gaze into the mirror and accept my ego’s demonic rage spitting fire back at me is not all sunflowers and sunshine. For so many years, I have been programmed to take beating myself up as a positive remedy to making mistakes. Because clearly, the threat should help me make better decisions the next time. YA, RIGHT!!

So, at the end of the day, I get done what I can — I put my best foot forward and I step into tomorrow willing to look in the mirror, with the humble gentleness to recognize I am only as beautiful as what is on the other side of the mirror. My goal is to put out the fire on the other side before it engulfs me and I get burned out on the things I love most. So whether I am 23 or 53, the obstacles will put me on the battlefield to question whether I can coexist with the bliss and the challenges? I choose blissful challenges!

~SAT NAM~

“You must know life to see decay…”

Waking up on this rain drenched San Francisco morning, I sit and contemplate the power of rain. Last night, walking back from Whole Foods with paper grocery bags, it began to rain. I was marveling about how rain is such a beautiful thing because it does not care where we are or what is on our agenda, if we have a fancy event to attend or really need a good hair day. It falls when and where it deems necessary.

 

Just five minutes later, one of the bags rip and the food goes all over the sidewalk! Hallelujah that the dinner plans included only vegetables and nuts so only a few walnuts were spared. The eggplant and peppers just got a little prewash before being layered into a baked veggie napoleon. In the end, it made for a great laugh and a moment of gratitude to see all the delicious and nutritious food I was about to cook and consume spread along the sidewalk. How fortunate I am as this Thanksgiving holiday approaches!

 

So apart from the wet pant-leg soaked jeans and the sometimes extremely bad timing of rain, it holds an extreme cleansing force. The refreshing shower that picks up environmental dust bunnies and recycles them also can invoke an internal focus in us to pick up our own dust bunnies (whatever they may be) and recycle them into more positive energy. We are forced to either hide inside and relax our busy minds or get out there and play like never before — both offering us a connection to our inner self.

 

Recently, I have been hooked on listening to Mumford and Sons. Their lyrics have been a great reminder of taking personal responsibility, exposing vulnerability, and being in touch with ourselves and our world around us. Immediately this morning, I thought of the song “After the Storm.” I couldn’t help but link my favorite part of my song to the cleanse and regrowth cycle of rain:

 

And there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

 

How true is it that so much of life is getting over our own hill?! They sing that, “you must know life to see decay.” The truth that when we start making decisions from self-love (including forgiveness) and start taking accountability for our actions (and not those of others), then it becomes much clearer and easier to recognize the decay around us that needs to be washed away. My personal goal is to hold the awareness to constantly question how much of the decay around me am I contributing to and can I continue to let go of those things, thoughts, habits, people, etc. that are not serving me to where “love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.”  

 

So whatever the rain means to you, can you come from a place of love that is full of life and free of decay? Whether that means staying inside or getting out to play, my hope is that while when it comes time to cleanse and refresh, we all can have grace in our hearts and flowers in our hair (flowers optional, of course).

***

And after the storm,

I run and run as the rains come
And I look up, I look up,
on my knees and out of luck,
I look up.Night has always pushed up day
You must know life to see decay
But I won’t rot, I won’t rot
Not this mind and not this heart,
I won’t rot.And I took you by the hand
And we stood tall,
And remembered our own land,
What we lived for.And there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.And now I cling to what I knew
I saw exactly what was true
But oh no more.
That’s why I hold,
That’s why I hold with all I have.
That’s why I hold.

I will die alone and be left there.
Well I guess I’ll just go home,
Oh God knows where.
Because death is just so full and mine so small.
Well I’m scared of what’s behind and what’s before.

And there will come a time, you’ll see, with no more tears.
And love will not break your heart, but dismiss your fears.
Get over your hill and see what you find there,
With grace in your heart and flowers in your hair.

Salt and Chinese Herbs

Oh wow, what a week! To start, I have been combating an oncoming cold/sore throat with lots of sweating and gargling of salt water. I have discovered the true healing magic of basic salt; not just for french fries anymore! I now swear the salt water is better than any OTC remedy for a sore throat. However, when it comes to my internal issues like muscles, joints, circulation, pain, etc., I turned to acupuncture. For a long while, friends and colleagues have been suggesting the healing to me and I have been saying, “Oh, I know…I should…it’s expensive, (blah, blah, blah)” Like many things, it’s easy to make excuses, especially financially in my case, and not do the things we need most. But…I went to the Academy of Chinese Culture and Health Sciences in Oakland last Wednesday and had no idea what I was getting myself into.

First off, I was there for 2.5 hours, which included a lot of question answering, gazing at my tongue, and then the doctor showed up. An old wise man, he spoke to the assistant only in Chinese, leaving me wondering what the hell they were saying about me and also intrigued by all the knowledge I could not understand one bit. They proceeded to put needles into my shoulder to remedy some serious tightness and strain. Well, they hit the point! My spinal for my ACL surgeries didn’t hurt as bad as those damn small needles. Then, they proceed to lie me on my back and put burning herbs on my lower torso to warm and circulate the blood. I felt like I was at some shamanic retreat in the middle of nowhere…until I hear a fire truck and realize I’m in the middle of downtown Oakland 🙂

I end up leaving with three bags of Chinese herbs to be boiled in a specific clay pot. I expected this to be “interesting” (a.k.a disgusting) and little did I know I am now drinking what tastes like a tiny forest in my mouth for twice a day. The experience of boiling, straining, reheating and then actually drinking the herbs has been amusing and satisfying (besides the drinking part!). I have enjoyed the process of soaking, boiling, straining and processing the herbs. The cycle of cooking them and producing this sludge like liquid than supposedly can heal me feels like I’m tapping into being conscious of my health in a way that I never have.

Lately, tapping into my health has been recovering my knee with lots of physical exercises, strengthening, icing, slowing getting back into activities, etc. However, this is a more passive and thought out, organic process of connecting with the Earth and literally drinking that into my body. After the first cup, I didn’t know if I could do it, but after the first day, I am determined to stick with them. Who knows, maybe I’ll go back for more! So for this week, salt and herbs have been my saviors. I can’t imagine what next week will bring!! Maybe just some Silk Nog to balance the salty with some sweet 🙂

What remedies do you find to heal you? Are you tapping into the deeper processes of connecting in some way?

Enjoy the weekend!