Support Starts From Within

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Support Starts From Within

40 Day Journey: 40 Steps For Growth & Inner Freedom
Day 3: August 7, 2014

Salamba Sirsasana

When your world is turned up-side down, literally or figuratively, it is the perfect opportunity to re-orient the self back into stillness and awareness of breath. Right now, sense how your breath is influencing and shaping your mind. – (Salamba Sirsasana in my home studio in Arcata)

Salamba Sirsasana: Supported Headstand
(sah-LOM-bah shear-SHAHS-anna)
sa = with;
 alamba = support or that on which one rests or leans ; sirsa = the head

We do not exist within a vacuum. No organism alive is separate or distinct from its environment. We all need support from time to time and opening up to receive support is a masterful skill all it’s own. Today, for me support starts attitudinally from within. It starts with inviting in a deep sense of trust, surrender and remembrance that my body, mind and spirit already intrinsically know balance and all I need do is lean into the practices I already have on board to keep me moving forward, toward my dreams and goals, regardless of the obsticles along the way. In headstand, our world view is both physically and metaphorically flipped upside down.

Right now I am a couple hundred dollars shy of paying my rent. Rent was due on the 1st. My insurance was due on the first as well. Today is the 7th. My sense of being financially self-supporting through my own contributions is definitely under pressure. The nitty-gritty details of meeting my basic survival needs seem cattywonkus to say the least. I’m still smiling. I have been all day. I have a sense that life is just providing me a rich opportunity to become more skillful at remaining calm and grounded even when my world seems spun around. If nothing about my external circumstances are to change in the next 12 hours what internal landscape do I want to cultivate? Anxiety is no fun and it certainly won’t change anything. I would rather remain calm, take some action steps from a place of joy rather than panic and be ready for whatever shifts are coming next. I want to choose to enjoy my life, even if my external circomstances seem to be less than joyful. Salamba Sirsasana, or head stand, literally means with support of the head. Today has been about observing my head space and developing a quality of mindful presence that allows me to feel supported from within. No. Matter. What. Nothing is going to happen today that the universe and I can’t handle together. <3

I want to hear how you are you handling the challenging moments. How does your “head-space” serve to hinder or support you? How do you find support from within?

Go Ahead, Provoke Me!

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Go Ahead, Provoke Me!

“Over time invite and create ever more provocative situations to deliberately trigger the psyche to be disturbed, to be challenged, to feel perhaps overwhelmed in order to strengthen your capacity to remain in the witness.  It’s easy to be peaceful when there’s not provocation. It’s not so easy where there is. Welcome to marriage. Welcome to children. Welcome to your life. Those provocations that are happening externally, are only reflections of our inner lack of clarity, lack of resolution. So, the yogi works internally.” ~Yogarupa Rod Stryker
(Moon & Sun Vinyasa: Mastering the Mind, Awakening the Vital Force, Nov. 15, 2013)

40 Day Journey: 40 Steps For Growth & Inner Freedom
Day 1: August 5, 2014

Trikonasana in marsh sunrise

Sometimes the biggest battle is getting out the door and onto the mat. The early morning dewy marsh air amply rewarded my effort. – Arcata Marsh & Wildlife Sanctuary 8:30am

Utthita Trikonasana : Extended Triangle Pose
(oo-TEE-tah trik cone-NAHS-anna)
utthita = extended; tri = three, kona = angle

“The three angles (tri konas in Sanskrit) of a triangle make it one of the stronger and most stable shapes in nature…The triangle pose represents many sacred trinities in our world, such as the trinity of earth, space and heavens or that of birth, life and death. Trikonasana also symbolizes the three gunas, or qualities, that compose our bodies and minds.” (p. 36) Alanna Kaivalya & Arjuna van der Kooij, Myths of the Asanas: The Stories at the Heart of the Yoga Tradition.)

As I was riding my bike to the studio to teach my morning Hatha Flow Class, I was listening to a workshop lecture I attended last year with Yogarupa Rod Stryker. The day before I had been momentarily deeply disturbed by some personal family drama with my son’s father. It was this disturbance that inspired me to proactively choose to take intentional steps in the direction of my own personal growth.

When life is comfortable and free from challenges, it is easy to get complacent in my personal practice and neglect my continued commitment to inner growth. This summer has been far from easy. Life has provided me so many delicious opportunities and reminders to not only return to the grounded space of calm that can view my life from a place of tranquility but also to notice, question and work with the mirror that my external circumstances are providing me. Tantric philosophy states that there is nothing outside my body that does not exist within my body. There is nothing within me that does not exist externally in the world. If I take the view that what is happening in my body is a mirror for what is happening in my life, than I can also see that what is happening in my life is a reflection of what is happening in my psyche. 

Back to my bike ride…

I had just finished a sweet early morning solo yoga practice at the Arcata Marsh and was arriving  at Om Shala Yoga 15 minutes early to meditate before teaching. As I crossed the front door I saw two of my students arriving on bikes and being verbally and physically threatened by a large gentleman who had left his truck in the middle of the street to get out and scream at them over some perceived right-of way indiscretion. This gentleman returned to his truck only to stop and get out 3 more times all the while threatening physical violence and property damage and warning them that he will “remember what their bikes look like.” At that moment I hear Rod Stryker in my ear saying “It’s easy to be peaceful when there’s no provocation.”

We all get provoked. How we handle it at any given moment is our yoga, is the practice of inner asana or posture. Life is challenging. Suffering is a noble truth. The yogi works from within. Regardless of whatever swirling mass of chaos or raucous celebration is present in our lives at any given moment – our ability to drop into the witness is directly proportional to our experience of grounded, calm, ever-present spaciousness and awareness.

I came into the world on fire. I seek not to drown my fire but instead to stabilize and create a pitim (or hearth) for that fire in the sacred temple of my body at the center of my belly. Practicing trikonasana is a way to physically plant our feet firmly in the earth and our awareness in the present moment while opening our hearts to the vastness within us alongside the support of the universe. The top hand reaching to the sky is a reminder to reach into the highest aspects within us as we connect our material self with the broader consciousness of the entire cosmos. The triangle is a messenger that no matter the pressures behind us or in front of us, we can plug into the inherent stability within and reconnect with the truth and beauty that we are.

Provocation is child’s play.
I say bring it on.
It’s just a training camp for the experience of inner divinity.

Just for today, how can you use whatever is provoking you to take one small step back home to yourself?


I’m on a 40 Day Journey for personal growth. I’m taking baby steps. One. At. A. Time. Read more about it and join me here.

 

Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend

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Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend

Source: TED: Ideas Worth Spreading • Kelly McGonigal • September 2013

Pearls of wisdom gleaned from Kelly McGonigal’s talk:

  • Oxytocin is a stress hormone.
  • When oxytocin is released in the stress response, it is motivating you to seek support.
  • When life is difficult, your stress response wants you to be surrounded by people who care about you.
  • When you change your mind about stress, you change your bodies response to stress.
  • When you reach out to others under stress either to seek support or to help someone else, you release more of this hormone, your stress response becomes healthier and your recover faster from stress.
  • Your stress response has a built-in mechanism for stress resilience and that mechanism is human connection.
  • How you think and how you act can transform your experience of stress. When you choose to view your stress response as helpful, you create the biology of courage.
  • When you choose to connect with others you can create resilience.
  • When you choose to view stress this way…you are saying you can trust yourself to handle life’s challenges and you’re remembering that you don’t have to face them alone.
  • Chasing meaning is better for  your health than trying to avoid discomfort … Go after what it is that creates meaning in your life and trust yourself to handle the stress that follows.