Everything Flows Onward

finding my dharma. living my dharma.

It’s been a long time, eh? October 15, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jenny @ 12:21 pm

If you’ve stuck around, then you can expect me to attempt once more to blog semi-regularly. November will be VeganMoFo again so I need to oil the wheels a bit and get back into the swing of things. In other news…

 

 

 

…Life is not so bad these days.

 

Legwarmers December 7, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jenny @ 10:20 am
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Yesterday was a rollercoaster. It started off not so bad, quickly became super bad, then became an uphill battle and finally stabilized with an inkling of a feeling of victory and control. It didn’t come without its lessons though.

I won’t get into the gory details of everything but I’ll mention the important bits that led up to my anxiety attack yesterday morning. The biggest thing was that I have, in the past few days, become very aware of

a) how isolated I’ve let myself become
b) how scared I’ve become of putting myself out there and the risk of rejection when trying to connect with people and
c) how badly I actually want to make that connection.

With that awareness, and that acknowledged desire to connect… I suddenly began feeling like I was trapped in a cage. Actually, the analogy I used with my friend, Elizabeth, was that I felt like Ariel in that scene in the Little Mermaid when Ursula has gotten really big and huge and she’s created that whirlpool in the ocean, and you see Ariel sitting on a rock in the middle of it, staring up helpless and scared… trapped and immobile.

The next thing that happened was that it was my first solo store opening as a shift manager. Being the opener has proven to be something rather stressful for me. I don’t have a good rhythm down just yet and there’s a lot to do and depending on the day, you just never know how busy it’s going to be and how easily you’ll be able to get the procedural stuff done. I was anxious already and I knew it by 5:30 a.m. yesterday.

Suffice it to say, I was set up for what could happen and it did.

Work got sort of busy, no one had time to breathe really, and for me that meant a tailspin. All of a sudden I was plunged into the bottom of that oceanic whirlpool of self-doubt and self-loathing. I was seized by my feeling of fear and utter failure. The night before, I had wanted to call someone and hang out but I was so paralyzed by fear of rejection that I didn’t, which left me at home by myself and lonely. The memory of this came bursting in with the rest of the anxiety and by 11 am I had to leave for my lunch break or else I felt I’d go into a full on anxiety attack in front of my coworkers and our customers. My first thought was that I wanted cigarettes. I’d go to the gas station. But as I got in the car and drove, this teeny tiny voice broke through the screams of anxiety and said to me: “That’s a rather addictive and behavioral response you’re having right now. Don’t be reactive. Be active.” So, instead, I drove past the gas station to my yoga studio. No one was there, so I let myself in and just sat in quiet and breathed for a bit.

I calmed down and was able to make it through the rest of my shift (thankfully I was only there til 1 yesterday). But then there was the aftermath with which I had to deal once I was free for the afternoon. I felt overwhelmed by the weight of all the emotion. I wasn’t sure how to carry it, how to sort through it. I talked to my mom for a bit. Lots of word vomit and bad phrasing on my part and things coming out in ways that I didn’t mean. It was like unpacking a box that was not packed in an organized way. Just sifting through and tossing things out haphazardly. You see… when you’re cleaning and organizing things, it usually has to get worse before it gets better. You have to lay it all out there and see what’s before you. Then you can start putting it back in an orderly manner.

I suddenly felt like I would wake up one day and be crippled with regret that I’d wasted so much of my life hiding from people and not making connections. Then suddenly something in me woke up. The fear of that regret was greater than the fear of rejection. I made the call I’d not made the night before. I got a voicemail, so I left a message. But just doing that gave me an ounce of courage. I realized I wasn’t out of the battle yet. I felt my true defenses stand up, battered and bruised but determined as hell. I could turn this around. I could manage the victory if I tried. I realized how mad my ED voice was over the victory I’d gained on Saturday. It wanted to even the score.

I had been ready to skip yoga and mope all night but I decided I’d give my tired defenses some energy and go. I recently bought my [amazing, wonderful, generous, kind] friend Nancy and I some leg warmers for our yoga practice when we get together in CT this Christmas, and so in what seemed like a very trivial event, I decided that maybe putting on legwarmers for yoga yesterday might make me feel a little spunky. And if I knew anything it was that I needed some spunk to stay in this fight.

When I got there on my mat and started moving, with me in my yoga tights and leg warmers, the image flashed before me of myself as a ballerina. It sounds silly but it’s what happened. And then my whole practice felt transformed. Suddenly I felt, for the first time in months, graceful, pretty and, dare I say it, a little light hearted. This ballet, it still felt a little tragic, but it was delicate and poetic and full of grace. It occurred to me that my yoga mat is often the only place where I feel this way. I feel confident on my yoga mat. I feel like I float with the current. I never feel this way off my mat. After class, I let this realization settle a bit. I felt like I had a little more clarity into my issues. I simply HAVE to do something about my self-esteem, I have to build myself up.

In a rare moment of softness towards myself, I realized something else. Something very important. So… when you agree to fight anorexia you aren’t just agreeing to eat food again. You’re agreeing to feel again. I’ve said this before, I know. But what occurred to me is that in all my time avoiding feeling, I’ve never learned how to deal with what comes up. So I’ve agreed to let the feelings in but I’ve no idea how to treat this new company. That being said, it’s not going to be graceful and easy at first. It’s going to be just as I feel off my mat: hyper sensitive, clumsy, awkward and uncomfortable. But I just have to keep practicing. (I realized too that this is not unique to me… EVERYONE is trying to get through life in the same way.) All of the common yoga sayings popped into my head: “Practice and all is coming” (Patthabi Jois), “Open to grace,” (John Friend/Anusara), etc.

In my attempts at getting organized, things are probably going to get really messy before they get cleaned up. (For the love of pete, let me be in the middle of the biggest mess right now, though…) Sure, it’s overwhelming when it’s all laid before me, but there’s only one thing to do and that’s to dive in head on. I’ve got to throw out the trash, I’ve got to be awkward and I’ve got to feel my way through this. But if I keep fighting, if I keep practicing, if I keep cleaning I know in my heart of hearts that one day I’ll look up and realize that there’s no more mess about me and that things are in order.

I just know it.

 

Peace September 15, 2009

Filed under: playlists,Uncategorized,yoga — Jenny @ 2:56 pm
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In honor of International Day of Peace, coming up on September 21st, I created this playlist for teaching yoga this week. I’ve called it simply, Peace.

1. Omiya – Mychael Danna

2. Mahadev – Ranga

3. Tiffany’s Party – Ranga

4. Knockin on Heaven’s Door – Avril Lavigne

5. Let it Be – The Beatles

6. My Sweet Lord – George Harrison

7. Redemption Song – Bob Marley

8. Give Peace a Chance – The Beatles

9. Examining, Examining – Mychael Danna

10. Within You, Without You –  The Beatles

11. The Times They Are A’changing – Bob Dylan

12. Peace Train –  Cat Stevens

13. Imagine – John Lennon

14. Twameva – Jai Uttal

15. Om Namo Narayanaya – Deva Premal

 

The depths of Silence September 12, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jenny @ 7:50 am

Out in the bluffs, far away from everything else, there is a special type of silence. Silence at home still includes the humming of the computer and other electronics. It includes cars driving by, cats running and playing. You know how in yin yoga, sometimes, you’re in a posture and you start getting fidgety and moving around and you can’t sit still? Your mind starts working and thinking and buzzing. Silence at home is like that sometimes. It wants to be silent, it’s trying to be silent, but silence is sometimes uncomfortable and it makes life fidgety. And so the computer continues to buzz and nothing is ever quite settled down, it seems.

But when you leave and you go out into nature, you experience Silence. This is the kind of silence that makes you feel like your ears have  had all the air sucked out of them. Your ears feel like they’re reaching for noise, desperate for something to hear. And what they find is nothing and everything at the same time.

Then the sun goes down and it is the eyes’ turn to let go. The true darkness of night is upon you and the eyes have no more work to do until you lay on your back, look up at the sky and you can see… Everything.

The stars.

Millions of stars. Big, small, shooting, flickering. In studying them, trying to comprehend the vastness is almost overwhelming. When you come close to exploring how great the universe is, the enormity takes your breath away and you have to imagine the stars as two dimensional, just to keep your sanity.

As you lay there, you breathe. You lose yourself in the stars. The eyes are no longer seeing, they are simply receiving. The ears are still not hearing, and they’ve long ago stopped trying. And this is it. This is when you become awake to the realization that Silence is not silent.

~

True Silence is felt, first. Laying beneath the stars, fully present, you can begin to feel the vibration running through you. As you lay there with the vibration you become aware that this vibration flows not just through you, but the people laying next to you as well, and you are connected. You are one. And the vibration is in the trees, and the earth and the animals, and the wind and the water. And you are connected. You are one. You are the pulse of life. You understand what immortality really means.

It’s then, from your heart, your soul, your Truth, that you begin to Hear. It comes from inside and outside of your body simultaneously. You recognize this is the sound of the vibration. This is the sound of inter-being. It seems to be a simple sound. But in the three syllables you Hear/Feel rests the truth of life. To attempt to explore the depth of this sound is similar to exploring the depths of space. You feel you might explode trying to comprehend such vastness.

~

The sound never ends. It never wavers. It continues ceaselessly.

Close your eyes.

Hear it.

Feel it.

It is…

Aaaaauuuuuuuummmmmmmmm

AUM

 

Feel August 25, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jenny @ 3:20 pm
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I’ve been trying to blog for about a month now. I swear. You should see how many drafts I have sitting here, wanting to be filled out, completed, posted. But I get so far in and then I lose it. Whatever light I was chasing, trying to capture, it disappears.

It occurs to me that it’s not that I’m not feeling creative. In fact, I feel quite creative, but that energy is being invested elsewhere. Ironically, once I admitted and recognized that my energy was elsewhere, I was struck with inspiration for a blog. Where my energy has been channeled lately is into the art that is my yoga. For various reasons, my yoga practice has had to change recently. I fought it at first but recently I have come to embrace it and am now happily exploring something new.

I’ve gone from a daily Ashtanga yoga practice to a gentler, intensely intuitive Hatha practice. In light of recent events in my life, I have realized the importance of slowing down. The benefits of holding still, of breathing, of feeling the present moment. I have experienced the fulfillment of turning mind off and letting body lead body where it wants to go next. Instead of matching breath to the quick movements and upbeat pace of a practice, I let my breath dictate the length of my movement and thus, my pace. The result for me is a long, fluid, graceful movement, felt by body and soul from beginning to end (or should I say, rather, new beginning?).

The importance of spontaneity is number one these days. Even when I am taking a yoga class, I find that I sometimes ignore what the instructor has cued in favor of a hint my body has given me to do something else. Today I tried to return to an Ashtanga practice. Because of the pace of my breath I moved so slowly that, had I finished, I would have been on my mat all day just to get half way through the primary series. And as you may have deduced then, I didn’t finish. One quarter of the way in I heard my body whisper, “That’s plenty. I know what’s coming up and it’s not what I need right now. Please, I invite you to do something else instead.” And so there, one quarter of the way through Primary Series, I stopped. A couple counter-poses to balance myself out and then I carried on with an intuitive, slower practice for a bit. I sometimes read a quote to my yoga students. (I think it’s by Osho, but unfortunately, I can’t currently recall and my efforts at googling it have been in vain…) To paraphrase, the author says that we should never do one thing that goes against our truth or our will. He says if you are walking, and you suddenly lose the desire to walk, then you should sit down right where you are and take not one step further until you wish to do so. (Sounds like an Osho thing to say, doesn’t it?) But this is how my body is in the present moment. It fights restriction, predictability, plans. It wants what it wants and I am happily surrendering to its wishes.

This all has taught me a lesson in non-attachment. I love Ashtanga yoga, and I anticipate that I will return to it on occasion in the future. But I know that I was becoming attached to the progress and not the process- the results and not the effort – to the extent that I injured myself and jeopardized my practice on the whole. It was a lesson I had to learn the hard way. Looking back I can see how attached I was and how willing I was to ignore my body’s true desires.

Now, both on and off my yoga mat, I am appreciating a slower, intuitive pace. Backing off, releasing my ego and pride. Taking my awareness inward again. I often say to my students, “It’s not what you do, but HOW you do what you do that matters on your yoga mat.” That is to say, it’s your intention on your mat that matters, not how “fully” your body may express a posture or how bendy or open you may be. Your body needn’t express the posture, your intention should express the posture.

Finally, I have begun taking my own advice.

I intend to move with grace and compassion; with lightness and fluidity; with devotion and love.

I intend to feel from beginning to new beginning to new beginning…

 

Late Summer Playlist July 23, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jenny @ 6:52 am

I thought about posting this before, and then when the wonderful @cupcakemafia did it, I decided to go on ahead and follow her lead.

I love good music for yoga practice and when I teach I try to make playlists that inspire grace, movement and flow. This is by far my best play list yet (in my opinion) and I’ve even had students tell me so! Alors, I decided to share it with you all.

Volià my late summer yoga class playlist:

1. Om Namah Shivayah (ft. Bhagavan Das) by MC Yogi

2. Om by The Moody Blues

3. How Deep is Your Love by The Bird and the Bee

4. She Moves in Her Own Way by The Kooks

5. Love is My Religion by Ziggy Marley

6. For the Widows in Paradise by Sufjan Stevens

7. Your Hand in Mine by Explosions in the Sky

8. People Should Smile More by Newton Faulkner *

9. True Love Leaves No Traces by Leonard Cohen

10. Live is Wonderful by Jason Mraz

11. Back to Where I Was by Eric Hutchinson

12. One Step Closer to You by Michael Franti & Spearhead

13. Remember Me as a Time of Day by Explosions in the Sky

14. Ha-tha (Sun Meets Moon- Sixth Chakra or Third-Eye) by Chinmaya Dunster

15. Breathing-Prana (Third Chakra or Hara) by Chinmaya Dunster

The last two songs come from an album called Yoga on Sacred Ground and each song plays to/ is meant to awaken a particular chakra, which is why I like to play them at the end of class for deep relaxation and Pranayama (respectively).

I’m working on a new playlist right now so I can incorporate a great artist I met at a house concert last night named Jonathan Stark. He’s ridiculously talented, has a beautiful voice and lyrics to match. It will probably also include a tune or two from my good friend Eric (and his band The Apprentice)**, just to give you a little sneak peek.

*Class favorite

**The Apprentice (band name came about BEFORE Donald Trump’s stupid show…) can be found/purchased on iTunes and highly encourage you to take a listen. They are a wonderfully inspiring, thoughtful group of musicians and I can’t say enough about how much I enjoy their music. Songs that they are best known for include: Be My Home, We Were Just Eighteen and my personal faves also include Disease and Riverside.

 

Perfect moment. Only moment. July 8, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jenny @ 3:16 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

I talked briefly on this subject yesterday, but today I’d like to talk more about the cleansing diet that Baron Baptiste offers in his book Journey Into Power.  The idea is that as you go along the week, you are able to connect with your body and notice your hunger patterns, stop cravings for foods that your body doesn’t need, and truly doesn’t really want anyway, and just to generally tune your radio to receive clearer signals from the body on the whole. As I previously mentioned, I have been partaking in the week-long cleanse since last Saturday. It starts with two days of a light, macrobiotic diet, followed by 3 days of a fruit fast and then the last 2 days you gently ease your way back into a more regular eating pattern. Also like I stated before, I did not go on this journey to try and lose weight. I decided to start it because I was feeling disconnected to my body. I noticed that I hadn’t actually allowed my stomach to so much as attempt to growl in probably weeks. I was eating unconsciously and eating even if I wasn’t hungry just because “it was time to eat.”

I have tried other cleanses before but at the base of them, I was out to shed a few pounds. I am 100% certain that the reason I have been successful this past week is truly because my intention has been different. I have not wanted to deprive myself of anything, in fact, I have only wanted to honor my body and provide it with just what it needs to be healthy and happy.

Today I am on the last day of the fruit fast. It’s been surprisingly easy. I honestly haven’t felt like I’ve missed out on anything that I’ve “wanted.” (I think this is partly because I have a natural sweet tooth and so feasting on fruit all day long is no big for me…) Tomorrow I begin my foray back in to regular eating (the tofu is baking as we speak! yummm).

I wanted to talk about this because of how much I really feel this whole week has helped me on a level deeper than just paying attention to when I’m actually hungry. To have been honoring my body and tuning into the signals it provides me has been just what I have needed to do lately, as I am suffering from an injury (strained pectoralis major) that has me physically unable to practice yoga.

At any other time in my life, even just a few weeks ago, I would have fought against my body, pushed it past its limit and made things a whole lot worse than they are now. But something about being so in tune to myself this week set me up to be in the right place to recognize my body needs a serious break. Even more importantly, I have come to this conclusion without the slightest bit of resentment towards myself. I don’t blame myself for the injury, I don’t think my body failed me because a weakness had been exposed. Instead, I am truly practicing ahimsa here, and it has left me resting happily in a state that can only be known as Serenity. I’m floating with the wind, riding the wave of the moment. I’m not fighting an uphill battle with my body, instead I am accepting the present moment just as it is. These are the ebbs and flows of life.

It really does bring a lot of peace to be in harmony of body and mind. I am truly surprised that all of this week I have actually been in a mood ranging anywhere from Just Plain Good all the way to Spectacular. It’s the kind of feeling that truly only comes from living in harmony, mindfulness and awareness of the present moment.

I’m very, very thankful that I happened upon Baron’s book when I did. It seems like the universe timed this one perfectly (but then again, when doesn’t it?) This was a lesson I really needed to focus on and understand.

Breathing in, I know this is a perfect moment.
Breathing out, I know this is the only moment.

Thich Nhat Hanh