Everything Flows Onward

finding my dharma. living my dharma.

twitter can’t support this kind of update February 26, 2009

Filed under: adventure,goals,life,work,yoga — Jenny @ 2:32 am

I’ve got a little down time tonight so I thought I’d take the opportunity to fill my pals in on the latest Jenny-related news.

This past weekend was the retreat in New Harmony, “Stressed Out to Blessed Out,” hosted by one of my most respected yoga instructors, Stacey Shanks, and the wonderful and amazing (did I mention Martha Beck certified life coach) Susan Hyatt. I spent the weekend with these 2 women as well as 10 others and we talked about making our lives everything they deserved to be, replacing our negative thoughts with positive ones; we did yoga; we made art with the help of the fantastic Laura Mitchell and we got massages from the magnificent Joy Timmons. It was a truly inspiring and empowering weekend and it was exactly what I needed.

I was given the opportunity to sit down and really think about how to take on my goals for my life and make them less dream, more reality. I’m very happy with the outcome and I’d like to share it with you all.

Obviously, my main goal is to be able to support myself solely by teaching yoga. What I hadn’t thought about was taking my yoga outside of the studio. Absolutely, studio teaching is something I want to do, I love a good, physical class and I love the community we have at EYC, but with the help of Susan, I was able to begin thinking outside of the box. She asked me, who would I most like to offer yoga to, if I could offer it to absolutely anyone. It was about then that I knew: I need to reach out to girls who have been affected by body image issues and eating disorders. Suddenly the reason for that period of my life became clear. (Incidentally, this became even more clear to me today when I went hiking with my friend Beth, who is also a yoga teacher, and we were talking about our similar experiences and I mentioned to her that I sometimes felt like a “fraud” with my ED because I didn’t have it nearly as bad as other girls- and guys – do. Because I was able to catch myself before it had gone too far, because I had an easier recovery, I thought I was just lucky. The more I think about it though, the more I have come to realize that my struggle was just enough for me to be given the tools to go out into the world and help girls in the same position as I was.)

I have already taken some steps in the direction of making this happen and will continue to do so. I want to help people, through yoga, who need to reestablish their mind-body connection. I want to host classes and I want to host retreats. This is also the reason I established my new blog, Off the Beaten Mat (which, by the way, has it’s first official, new post up at this time). I post a lot of my blogs on the Yoga Journal community page as well and have gotten some very affirming feedback from the people there. By way of my blog, I hope to be able to shed some light on the mental transformations that we experience when we practice yoga.

Those are my next moves “career”wise/ business wise. I am convinced I can turn these ideas into something great, something needed and useful in Evansville.

Also, March 7th is my first official day as a yoga instructor. Chris has given me the Saturday morning class on the East side of town. I’m also substitute teaching for her and Stacey several times in March and tomorrow I’m giving a private session to one of my Starbucks coworkers, trying to help her in her efforts to quit smoking, so I will be getting lots of teaching time in! There has also been mention of organizing and co-hosting a couple of workshops and/or retreats at the studio. All of this plus I’m still doing the Starbucks/Hallmark thing and trying to fit in time for a new hobby: hiking.

It’s a busy life down here in Indiana, but I’ll tell you what, it’s exactly the life I’ve always wanted for myself.

 

Introducing: Off the Beaten Mat February 23, 2009

Filed under: adventure,creativity,future,plans — Jenny @ 8:51 pm

If days were longer I’d give you a fantastic rundown of what my weekend retreat was like, but alas, they are not and I cannot. Suffice it to say that a lot of great work was done and decisions about my life and life’s purpose were made. On that note, I’d like to formally introduce the creation of my newest blog: Off the Beaten Mat

That blog is going to be my more philosophical/meditational/motivational/yogic-al one, and Living Dharma will be more personal and about day to day things. (Hopefully this means I’ll update more…?) (This also means you can expect, at some point, an explanation for all of this blog changing and the recap of the weekend, too.)

I’m starting it off with some of my older posts that I had put on here until I have time to actually write the newest blog, which is in development as we speak.

I’m really excited about sharing my plans and putting them into action, as well!

Namaste’

 

stretch and strengthen February 17, 2009

Filed under: compassion,healthy spirit,self-discovery,yoga — Jenny @ 5:16 pm

A lot of things about me have changed since I began doing yoga at EYC about 6 months ago. Physically and mentally, I am a stronger person than I have ever been. I am more forgiving to myself, am quicker to recognize hurtful thought patterns and have a progressively easier time reminding myself about that which is my Truth.

I have stretched and strengthened more than muscles, but also my mind. I am more open to new ideas than I have ever been. It’s been years since I said with any morsel of true faith that I believe in a higher power and now I say it proudly and, what’s more, I feel it with all of my being. I have developed more than just physical flexibility. Now I find it easier to adapt to changing situations, to get in where I fit in, to deal with situations as they occur rather than ignoring them and fighting with the emotions they bring up.

But perhaps one of the most remarkable changes in myself that I noticed was the stretching and strengthening of my compassion towards others. I was known in the past as a very sarcastic person. I’ve got it in me to be condescending and stuck up. I spent a lot of time with a “holier-than-thou” mentality. But two things happened to begin changing this in me. (It’s still in the process too– don’t be mistaken and think that I’m saying I’m Mother Theresa over here. In fact, the reason I’m writing about this now is because of recent struggles with compassion.) The first was my yoga practice. The second is thanks to the novels by the YA author and beloved Nerdfighter, John Green, who themes his works around the idea of imagining other people as complex beings and not just props and scenery outside of ourselves. As I got deeper into it and began to understand more about the energies flowing throughout the earth and the power of love and gratitude and kindness, I softened. During our asana practice, it’s important to be soft in all of our poses. Even if it’s a powerful pose and takes concentration and strength and we feel ourselves tighten on that edge, we must find the softness. And so did my heart find that softness. I found myself considering the feelings of others more. I became more aware of how what I said or did may have the power to either help or harm someone and I gradually, and unconsciously, began straying from the behaviors that may hurt others.

For instance, without meaning to, I began cursing less. Me. Who loved to throw out the F-bombs and other powerful, almost pornographic words with astonishing frequency. Also without knowingly doing so, I gradually left my sarcastic nature behind me. It didn’t give me anything to feel good about to be insulting or belittling to others. Then I started noticing a pang of guilt when I said something judgemental about someone. This has become something that I am making a conscious effort to control. (Also, let me say that it’s not that I’ve become uptight. There’s good-natured ribbing and joking with friends and then there’s the behaviors that I was engaging in. They’re totally different and it’s the latter that I am trying to more fully release.)

The more I’ve come to understand ideas of interconnectedness and unity of life, I’ve realized that these negative behaviors hurt me too. When we consider that we are one, everything is part of the same whole, and I am hurtful to another, then I am hurtful to myself. I am more fulfilled when I honor others and respect them.

Lately I have felt that I haven’t been so true to these ideals as I should like to be. I’ve consciously engaged in negative behaviors and sent forth negative thoughts to others simply because that is what the company by which I was surrounded was doing. I took their cue. My mind and my mouth were saying two different things. My mouth uttered negativities and my mind watched in silent disgust. And I felt badly because I knew that the things I said were not me. I am not that person any longer.

Thus, I’ve got a new yoga practice to work on right now. I am going to continue to stretch and strengthen my compassion towards others and remain true to myself, for mine is a quest for truth, peace and honor.

 

the case for rain February 10, 2009

Filed under: being present,freedom,life,rain — Jenny @ 9:04 pm

“The gentle spring rain permeates the soil of my soul. A seed that has lain deeply in the earth for many years just smiles.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

Have you ever thought about how frightened we seem to be of the rain? It rains and we blame it for our bad mood. We run for cover, seemingly convinced we might melt if a rain drop should touch us. We hide from it, stay in doors and even in bed, as though low clouds and water have turned us into bed-ridden wretches.

This morning, after yoga, I said to our instructor Stacey that it was a shame it was raining because I had wanted to go for a walk. Stacey replied, “Oh don’t let that stop you! It’s just a little rain.” I said, “You know, you’re right! We didn’t always have shelter from the rain, did we?” And I began wondering, why are we so scared of the rain? Of getting wet?

Last summer, when I was just beginning my yoga journey, I read a few of Thich Nhat Hanh’s books in succession. He often talked about the rain and the clouds when he talked about oneness. He drove home the point that we are the same as the rain. The rain falls from the sky, feeds the soil, brings us the food that we eat, the air that we breath. And when we die and return to the earth, our bodies break down and we become the soil and part of us is water that goes back up in the sky and eventually rains back down on the earth. Obviously he is more eloquent than I, but it was by way of this explanation that I was able to find a lot of peace in the world. I became less afraid of our conventional ideas of death and more certain that death is a notion and doesn’t really exist. We will never stop existing. We will never die. And how wonderful is that when our bodies are done here, we will return to the Earth and be a reason life continues?

For a while, whenever it rained was when I felt most full of life. A lot of times I would look at the rain and I would think of my ancestors, who are the rain, and I would smile at the rain and say hello to them again, or for the first time. It would be a peaceful and beautiful moment. I can even remember one day, filled with this knowledge and peace, I was reading Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and considering this cycle of life and I felt a raptuous joy that I have never before experienced in my life. I realized that “death” is beautiful. At that moment I actually thought I might look fondly upon the day that I returned to the Earth. I haven’t felt that since then and it’s an appreciation and feeling I hope to experience again some day.

I’ve digressed a little. So today I decided to go for a walk, rain or no rain. After all, I reminded myself, remember how much beauty I know is in the rain? When I began my walk it was drizzling very, very lightly. Then the rain stopped, but when I turned back onto the last street before mine, the rain started to come down harder and I slowed my pace. I’m sure people maybe thought I was crazy. I was in no hurry to get out of the weather, I was smiling and if it hadn’t been for all the cars and the lack of a sidewalk, I would’ve had my eyes closed too. It felt so good to have the rain coming down and feeling like I had melted into the earth. Feeling it drop on my face and my clothes, each pellet filling me back up with life. I came as close to that moment reading Walt Whitman as I have ever been.

The French have a phrase, “La Joie de Vivre.” It translates to “the joy of living” but it’s common knowledge in French class that the phrase encompasses so much more than the English translation allows. These moments I’ve been fortunate enough to experience… that is la joie de vivre. And they have all been inspired by the rain. That which we shy from so severely.

Let it rain. Run, dance, walk, sing, sit in the rain. Embrace, hug, smile at, appreciate the rain. The rain is in us, the rain is life. Let us love the rain. Let us love life.

 

The Good February 2, 2009

Filed under: adventure,divine intervention,thanks — Jenny @ 4:01 pm

Well I’m back from my Refugee Adventures. For the past 5 days my roommate, Natasha, her son and I have been making the rounds in Evansville and Henderson, KY borrowing couches and heat and electricity from generous folks who were willing and able to share. Last night our electricity came back on and it was the greatest relief I’ve known in quite some time. Morale was taking a steep decline on Sunday so the restoration really couldn’t have come at a better time.

It was easy to find something to complain about in all of this, but I think that we all did a bang up job and staying positive and avoiding the slippery slope that would have been moping. So as I’m thinking back on the past almost-week, I want to remember the good things that came out of it because, as it turns out, a lot of good really did come from this experience.

For instance, my roommate and I got to know each other real quick-like. If it hadn’t been for this situation, it would’ve taken a lot longer for she and I to develop our relationship. This really got us over the “adjusting to each other” hump at an accelerated speed. Having said as much, I can’t leave this subject without expressing my gratitude to her for taking me with her everywhere and making sure I had a place to be warm as well. If I hadn’t been in this house with her, I would’ve surely been at a shelter or something and much less comfortable.

I’m also grateful because through this it turns out that my roommate and I get along quite well and so I feel like it was divine intervention that I found this house and this person. This whole situation is going to be so good for me, I’m convinced of it.

Next: I like a kid. Yes folks. I live with a boy who is about to be 4 years old and I quite enjoy his company. It’s weird. And after these 5 days, I found myself going to work and going on and on about stuff he did or said or how well he was handling everything. I mean, it was close to gushing. I don’t pretend to understand it, it’s just happened.

Moving on: Through Natasha, I was able to meet such a magnificent group of people who are involved in wonderful things for this community and who I think will be so beneficial to my own personal development. I’d again like to reiterate my new-found belief in divine intervention. I don’t see how it could have happened any other way. I really feel like I was led here and for a reason. These are exactly the types of people that I want to surround myself with and if it hadn’t been for the storm I may have never found them.

Also, I was given the chance to volunteer for the Red Cross for part of 2 days and help them out at their disaster shelters. It was humbling and I think if it hadn’t been for that, for the chance to be active and help others, I would have begun complaining a lot sooner than I did. I felt so lucky to have a warm bed or couch every night throughout this ordeal. I was well fed and able to shower. And I think, most importantly, I wasn’t alone. If I was still in my apartment and this had happened, I might have gone to the Red Cross to ask for help instead of to offer it and I would’ve gone there alone. Instead I was lucky enough to be surrounded by great, great people and together we were able to try to make the lives of those in the shelter a little bit more comfortable.

All in all, this situation gave me the opportunity to recognize the things in my life I should be grateful for. And it really has made me question the validity of divine intervention in my life. For me, it seems like all of this was handed to me on a silver platter, if you will. I was here in my new residence being pretty isolationist and not really making many moves to connect with my roommate. All the while she was there, with all of those people I got to meet, and I had no idea what I was missing out on. It just feels to me like this was a less-than-subtle nudge in the right direction. It’s a nudge I certainly do not plan on ignoring. I feel more attached to Evansville than I have before right now. I feel like I could be a part of very, very good things here. Things I wanted to be a part of that I thought I’d have to leave in order to do. I feel like the horizons have opened up before me with more opportunity once more and it’s a very, very good feeling.