Sunday, January 27, 2013

Commitment Issues??

I have been practicing yoga for about two and a half years now and in the past few months about five or six days a week.  I am not sure that there has been any activity outside of work that I have committed myself to as much as my yoga practice.  Well really what that means is that I have never before committed to taking care of myself as much as I have in the last few months.  I wrote the following on 6/29/11 and thought I would share it:
As a child I participated in many extracurricular activities.  My first memory of any sort of dance class or sport that I participated in was when I was a 5 or 6 years old living in Brooklyn and seeing the movies ‘Breakin’ and ‘Breakin 2 - Electric Boogaloo’ and immediately was drawn to Break Dancing so my mom sought out a place for me to take Break Dancing lessons.  This was my first of many short lived hobbies/extra curricular activities.
(As I just looked at that trailer...not sure a 5 or 6 year old should be watching this movie!)
I had very supportive parents that when I said I was no longer interested in something they were OK with me ending that particular activity and moving on to the next.  I participated in jazzercise, gymnastics, soccer, dance (tap, ballet, the aforementioned Break Daning, etc.), took guitar lessons and played basketball.  I would say none of these things lasted more then 6 months, a season or a year with the exception of basketball.  I even dropped out of Hebrew School (cue ‘Beauty School Drop Out’ music) and was not Bat Mitzvahed because I did not like Hebrew School and did not feel connected to the girls in class. 
As I am just over a year into my yoga practice and maybe 18 years since I did those activities I am finally realizing why I did not want to continue any of those activities.  I was “not good” at them.  I did not want to continue them because I did not think I could do them.  The reason basketball was something I committed longer to was because even though I was “not good” I was on a winning team full of supportive teammates, I got to play week after week even though I was not getting the ball in the hoop but everyone else was.  We were a family and one time (yes only one time) in the 3 years that I played I scored a basket and if they could have raised me on their shoulders and paraded me around the gym they would have.
Now about one year into my yoga practice I have been starting to think about what I am “not good” at.  My balance is poor and I should definitely forget about doing handstands.  I have been recently flashing back to childhood Stacey and thinking well it does not seem like I can progress any further in my practice, maybe it is time to move on, maybe this is it?  Then the yogi Stacey in me said no.  I am the best me I can be right now.  I am stronger inside which has been continuing to make me stronger outside.  My goal with yoga is not to perfect or do every pose that is put before me it is to connect my head with my heart through my body, find the alignment on the mat to then bring alignment off of the mat and in to my everyday world.  Similar to my basketball experience I have found a loving and supportive yoga kula (community).  One where at the end of the class I have been raised up on the shoulders of my teachers, paraded around the yoga study and given the space to reframe “not good” to  “exactly what I need right now.”  
It is about a year and a half since I wrote that and while I am still not sure I will ever do a handstand I do feel that my commitment to yoga and myself has helped me to deepen my practice, go deeper into poses and even achieve what I thought to be the unachievable!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Times They are a Changing

In Sanskrit there is a word “samskara” which roughly translated means grooves or patterns.  Patterns that have been imprinted into us.  The ways in which I chose to cope with hard times, grief and anger in the past have not always been positive.  I would fall back on negative behaviors because that is where I thought I found comfort.  It was the grooves, the samskaras that I knew and would default to.  Yoga has allowed me to change these patterns, to replace them with healthy behaviors and reactions.  
“The bad news about samskaric grooves is that as long as the negative ones are in place, it's hard to escape the limitations imposed by our personal history. The good news, however, is that we can change those grooves. The brain is so fluid and malleable, so prone to take and hold impressions, that when we keep leading it into new pathways, the accumulation of new insights, practices, and experiences will eventually overwhelm the old ones and, given the right circumstances, even eliminate them entirely.”
~Sally Kempton , (
I had a realization on Tuesday that if yoga was not a part of my life my current state of transition would be quite different.  How I have coped with negative things in my life has certainly shifted. If what I have been going through recently had occurred three years ago I would guess that I would not be as healthy as I am right now.  I would be eating differently, probably smoking a whole lot and drinking alcohol on a much more regular basis (because you know I have time to do so).  I have however turned inside, turned to what was within me, and strengthened my yoga practice.  This has then strengthened my mind, my body and my spirit.  Now I am not perfect there have been some pints of ice cream (consumed in one sitting), cigarettes smoked and beer drank but that has not been what I looked towards for comfort and support.  I have found that what I need to cope, survive and even thrive has existed within me and yoga has been the path that has simply allowed for it to come out.
“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” ~Buddha
What are those patterns in your life that you default to?  Is it because it is 'what is easy'? Or is it because it is what best serves you?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

I Drove 10 Hours to See Monkeys!

OK, I did not actually drive the 10 hours, but it caught your attention didn't it?   I did however spend nearly 10 hours (round trip) in a bus when I was in Ghana knowing at the end of that trip there would be a beautiful waterfall and monkeys.  This was almost three years ago when I traveled with Semester at Sea yet I think about it often when I get in my car to drive to connect with friends.

That trip, the whole journey in fact, put a lot of things into perspective for me.  The lesson I learned from those monkeys was that if I was willing to spend nearly 10 hours on a bus to see monkeys for a few minutes then it was a no brainer to think about getting in my car and traveling a couple of hours to reconnect with old friends. 

Since my travels with Semester at Sea which was one extreme adventure I try to find smaller adventures on a regular basis.  Though my finances are limited right now to do any sort of major travelling (or adventuring) when the opportunity arises to connect with old friends (members of my “village”) I jump at it!  I embarked on such an adventure this past Friday night, drove the two hours to Boston, where I was able to connect with a former student who I would certainly call a dear friend, who was in town for a couple of days.  There are a number of people in my life that I would say it does not matter how much time has passed it is as if we saw each other yesterday and she would certainly be one of those people.  So, to be able to see one of these friends in two hours time when I rode a bus all day to see some monkeys (as amazing as they were) was exactly the adventure I had been looking for.  I have learned that an adventure does not need to take you half way across the world but maybe to just the other side of the state or even down the road.

I am looking forward to heading to NY this coming week to reconnect with more of my village and family and set out on another budget friendly adventure.

Who are those people in your life that no matter how long time passes it is like you just spoke with them?  How can you create an adventure to reconnect with them?  

Sunday, January 6, 2013

What do I want?

In the New Year’s Day yoga class I attended the teacher spoke about the Hindu God Ganesh.  Ganesh is the destroyer of evils and obstacles yet also can present himself as an obstacle as he holds the entire world in his stomach.  Ganesh will present these obstacles in your way if he knows that is what is needed. You can read more about Ganesh here: Ganesha: Overcomer of Obstacles.

As we look at the New Year we (I) look at crossing a threshold.  We do this as an easy way to start anew, move on, make changes, resolutions, set goals, intentions or whatever you would like to call it.  It is an easy way to mark time and the change of one’s course of action.  I feel like 2012 presented a lot of obstacles, I felt choked, overwhelmed and struggled yet I know now these obstacles served to teach great lessons.  I overcame these obstacles, I am on the other side of them now.  This threshold that is a new year fills me with hope.  Hopeful for all that will come, hopeful that the lessons that I learned in 2012 will serve me well in 2013 and hopeful that the time I have spent working on myself will manifest itself into something positive,something great.

We journaled some in that same New Year’s class and were asked what we wanted in 2013 and at first I looked at my blank page with near tears, feeling that after all of this self reflection, self revelation and soul searching I have done the last few months you would think that this would flow easily.    Easy to me were the three positives and challenges of 2012 but to contemplate what I wanted in 2013 was surprisingly difficult.   I had to take some more time to think about that.

What do I want?

I want to be happy

I want to make a difference in the world

I want  a job, a career, that allows me to make a difference.  One that I am excited to get up for and go to every day (OK almost every day)

I want to know that I do not need to worry financially

I want to find someone who will make me their priority (that one is hard to share here, but it is something I want and have recently allowed myself to say out loud)

I want to be happy (or content)

Those are some pretty lofty wants, but they are all achievable and I am ready to start moving towards them.  In fact, I have been moving towards them all along and I will continue to live day by day, taking small steps to achieve these grand things.

What do you want?