Monday, May 27, 2013

Remembering my greatness

A number of the yoga classes I attended this week focused on one of the stories of Hanuman (the Hindu monkey God).  The essence of the story was that Hanuman had been gifted tremendous powers but had also been cursed to forget these powers.  Hanuman in service to Rama very quickly needed to get from India to Sri Lanka to rescue Rama's wife Sita.  Hanuman was reminded of the powers he possessed to become very large and very small and to leap great distances.  Hanuman was then able to leap across to Sri Lanka and rescue Sita.  It took a moment of crisis and a good friend to remind him of these powers and once they were reminded the possibilities became endless.

This theme certainly resonated with me (I know I say that a lot)!  How often do we forget our strengths and greatness and it takes others to remind us.  I  know that I am often reminded of my capabilities in yoga.  The physical pose that represents Hanuman is Hanumanasana and it is essentially a full split, representing Hanuman's leap.  
Now I can not necessarily do this pose fully, nor can many human beings for that matter.  However with each attempt I did get deeper into the pose and remembered my capabilities and also my greatness.  The fact that I am putting myself out there in this way on a regular basis and attempting to do things with my body that I never imagined to be physically possible is kind of awesome.  Most people do not and can not do a split and I came pretty freakin' close!  Now that shows possibility, courage and greatness.  And when I say this I do not mean the actual achievement of the pose but the persistence, patience and desire to get there.

I just celebrated three years of yoga practice and one of the first things out of my mouth was, 'but I still can't do a handstand'.  This was an unfair response to a pretty big accomplishment in my life.  I know that at this point I am physically capable of doing a handstand and I also know that most people do not and can not do handstands, I just have some roadblocks (mostly mental) to getting there.  Just like most people do not and can not run marathons, but those who do are pretty amazing and I hold a certain level of awe for them.  I think that wanting to achieve something and the persistence in pursuit of it is as great as the achievement of it.

On the mat and off of the mat it is always good to be reminded of your own capabilities.  Yoga has certainly shown me things that I am capable of that I never could have imagined to be possible.  Yoga has taught me that things that I thought were out of my reach certainly were within my reach.  Yoga has also reminded me that things do not necessarily happen without working hard to achieve them and that is not a bad thing.  Yoga has boosted my confidence and allowed me to see and own my greatness.

"Surround yourself with the dreamers and doers, the believers and thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don't see it yourself."  
~Edmund Lee

How do you remember your greatness? How will you remember your greatness?  Who do you need in your life to remind you?

Sunday, May 19, 2013


So an academic year has flown by and I did not work in academia.  This is the first year of my life that I have not measured time by semesters, though I am quite aware that two have just passed me by.

The word commencement not only means the ceremony that happens where one receives their degree it also means the beginning.  College graduates across the country this month will be receiving their degrees but also beginning the next stages of their life.  It is very odd for me to not be part of the pomp and circumstance (pun intended) that surrounds this time of year.  The reflections, preparation for transition and celebration that is a part of the end of an academic year is a time that I always greet with mixed feelings.   To work in Higher Education is to know that life becomes quite cyclical and you can expect certain things and emotions at certain times of the year, however it is never the same, because we are  talking about people.

I have not been a part of creating the reflection space, transition conversations or celebration for college students this year but I have done those things for myself.  I have reflected a lot, through this blog, conversations with friends and former colleagues and in meditation and yoga.  I have thought about what transition should and could look like for me, what I want to do next and how to best get there.  I have also celebrated; celebrated this gift of time that I have been given and certainly took advantage of the time in a really positive way. So really this is the first year that I can recall in recent history that has been focused on taking care of me.  I have seen the results of this already in deepened relationships with friends and my community.  And I know this time will serve to make me a better professional, one who not just understands but lives 'I am no good to others if I do not take care of myself'.

I am ready to commence, to begin whatever the next step in life holds for me.  I am no longer freaking out (See Six Months Have Passed) and really do believe that life will unfold as it should.  I believe that things happen when and how they are supposed to.  I also believe that this does not mean you can just sit back and wait for this to happen, you must be an active participant in creating your life.  I have been an active participant in creating my life and I am ready for the next stage to commence.

A commencement is a time of joy.  It is also a time of melancholy.  But then again, so is life. ~Paul Tsongas

Monday, May 13, 2013

Standing on my Foundation

This past week in yoga a good majority of the classes that I attended seemed to focus on foundation.  We looked at our physical foundation in poses and I pondered foundation on a deeper level.  The timing of this happened to be perfect.  The following poem by Danna Foulds was read in one of those classes and it certainly resonated with me.

Foundations Stones 
 by Danna Foulds
Here is my past--

what I've been proud of,
and what I've pushed away.
Today I see how each piece
was needed, not a single
step wasted on the way.

Like a stone wall,
every rock resting
on what came before-
no stone can be
suspended in mid-air.

Foundation laid by every
act and omission,
each decision, even
those the mind would
label "big mistake".

These things I thought
were sins, these are as
necessary as successes,
each one resting on the
surface of the last, stone
upon stone, the fit
particular, complete,
the rough, uneven
face of these rocks
makes surprising,
satisfying patterns
in the sunlight.

Everything that I have experienced in life so far has laid the foundation for what will come next.  This means that I need to take the good with the bad and stand tall on top of it all.  It has all been necessary to get me to where I am at this very moment in time and will continue to prepare me for the great things to come.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

My Spiritual Sanctuary

I don't go to church or temple, and if you asked me if I practiced a religion I would say I am spiritual and not religious. Some days I would say I was Jew-ish, emphasis on the ish; where I still feel connected to the culture and traditions from my youth but not necessarily the religious aspects.  Then comes the question, well do you believe in G-d (typed like that out of respect for my upbringing)? And my response is that what I do believe in is that there is something out there greater than myself but I may define that as Grace, Nature, Love or the Universe depending on the day or the way I am feeling.

Recently more and more I understand why some people regardless of how devoted they may be to their particular religion have found a true need to connect to a religious (spiritual) community.  This past Friday we had a community yoga class at Yoga Sanctuary, where I practice yoga and have been spending a significant amount of time these last few months.  At this class all of the teachers taught between 5- 10 minutes but their teaching flowed wonderfully from one to the next.  Following the practice we potlucked (yes it is a verb now) and connected over food.  As I sat in that space I realized that the physical space had actually become a Sanctuary to me.  At one point as I looked around I became overwhelmed with emotion.  I knew most people that were there, some close friends, some true confidants and some just casual acquaintances but regardless of the relationship we all shared something.  This community that I have become part of is one that has become something very significant to me, something that is an integral part of me.  On any given day that I walk around town I can almost be guaranteed to see someone from this community and just having that presence is so grounding to me.

I believe that the relationship  that I have to and with my yoga community is not unlike that of others and their relationship to their religious community.  Maybe this is my way of defining and connecting to spirituality. This Sanctuary of mine has allowed me to breathe deeper than ever before, reflect on life and what it means to me and find acceptance and profound connections.  I have done this through yoga, meditation and just simply by holding a space in this Sanctuary.

"Well I'm done searching now
I found what this life is worth
Not in the books did I find
But by searching my mind
I don't condemn, I don't convert
This is the calling have you heard?
Bring all the lovers to the fold
No one is gonna lose their soul
Love is my religion
Love is my religion
Love is my religion
Love is my religion
You can take it or leave it
And you don't have to believe it"
 ~Lyrics from "Love is my Religion," by Ziggy Marley