I’ve moved….

I am growing up and created a website that includes all the musings from this blog. Come say hello on my new page, http://www.teresaphelpsmartin.com

With love!

Teresa

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A whole new process

Yoga teaches a simple concept that comes through the three letters A-U-M. The idea that things are created, sustained and then dissolve. But it is continuous, constant, and non linear. This concept has enabled me to  acknowledged many moments in my life when anything new to develops, something has to let go, fade or dissolve completely. For something to have the opportunity to be sustained, it has to be created and ultimately that creation will also dissolve. For me it is a dance, the rhythm of life. For some they reflect on how it signals that there is a beginning, middle and end to all things. What was, what is, and what shall be. This view has helped me through some of the harder times in my life as I could trust that if I had to say goodbye to someone or something, it only allowed for another hello. But as I am in a new cycle in my life this holds even greater meaning and reveals a major importance in my ability to let go. Mind you, intellectually I get it, experientially it is brutal and one of the more challenging aspects of life.

We live it everyday. The sun rises, a new day is created, the sun’s light (even if it is hiding behind a cloud) shines on each of us sustaining this day, and then ultimately it will set, the day dissolves into night. The cycle repeats itself, yet that day that was sustained is now over, forever, but the creation of it is with us always. This simple display of the movement of consciousness demonstrates, on one level, what was created is never really lost. The form in which we new it simply changes in order for something new and marvelous to arise. However knowing that we will never get it back, that’s tough. I don’t think we can be good at always sustaining this level of awareness, we need the ability to forget. The healing process is even a process of letting go yet we are always graced with the opportunity to remember.

Here now, at this juncture of my life, I am watching a new life be created. This life is depleting me of some of my own vitality and enthusiasm, but also sustaining me on a level I never knew possible. Yes it is sustaining me! Science will tell you I am sustaining them, while science is important, it robs the individual of a miraculous experience. My body, my womb, is home to this manifestation of consciousness right now. In order for this to happen, I had to let go of being scared. I had to release the fear of will I be good enough, will I still have moments to dance in the moonlight, will I be a good partner, will I loose my mind? I had to let go of my tough and independent self that loves to show she can do it all on her own. I have had to create a new partnership, not just with my husband, but with the universe, the mysterious, magical, and miraculous. I had to let go of being in control and had to be ok with not always sustaining a presence that looks like I know what I am doing (or even talking about) – period. But it doesn’t stop there.

As I opened myself to being a vehicle to create new life, I have witnessed stronger connections with people. This belief that we are all in this together, united by a higher consciousness, well it is being sustained with every encounter. There is a level of union and connection that goes well beyond anything I have ever experienced. It’s a connection to the feminine and masculine expression of divine love that sparkles in everyone’s eyes. I am sensitive to the heart ache, the loss, and the difficulties in being able to conceive. I have watched first hand how it can beat the heart up to a point where the world appears incredibly dark. This process in of itself blows my mind as so many have experienced painful loss in order to create. So I am humbled to a new level and discovering that humility and patience truly sustain us. It’s that space in between the creation and dissolution that is a little scary, murky, yet it is the space that love is sustained, the space that allows for the continuous cycle of life and death, love and heartbreak. It’s beautiful even though it is uncomfortable.

It blows me away really, that this life will surface through a great destruction on a physical, mental and emotional level, but that terrifying moment (for me anyways) of giving birth, well, it promises to provide a memory that will last a lifetime. Destroying what has been to sustain a new level of consciousness that is guaranteed to create a new level of experience that I can hardly imagine. This I think is really what it is all about…for me, right now, at this moment…until this contemplation fades and a new one begins to reveal itself.

Yoga…what is it really about?

This…of course…is my own opinion. Which in turn has been shaped by my teachers and my experiences, yep conceptual learning and experiential learning. This process of taking the knowledge and living the knowledge is a common theme from my teachers, both those that are yogis and those that are not…even though we all are in some way or another… Yes, yoga is more than just a physical practice. That, really, is just the gateway.

I get this great opportunity to teach a practice that helps people connect to their many parts. One class in particular, a Beginning Yoga class here at the College, which happens to be the same school where I first had my eyes and heart opened to this practice. The academic class allows me to slowly share with people that yoga is a practice of humility, patience, courage, compassion and curiosity which is a dream come true. The dream that is taking truth…that people are learning a practice that allows for more freedom … connection to their essential nature. College is a time when people are in a huge developmental phase of their life. In this class they are learning a life skill, gaining insight of how to turn into their own inner wisdom and participate with the greater wisdom of their external environment. And it happens over three months, not just 60, 75, or 90 minutes when they feel like it. They have to be there, but they signed up for it, and some of them begged to be allowed in… They get a chance to learn about the practice, on a very introductory level, and they get to watch the experience unfold through the semester.

This upcoming weekend I also get to share with a small intimate group a weekend of yoga. It’s part of a bigger picture, but the weekend involves movement, conversation, inquiry, and a large amount of consciousness taking a creative form. This in of itself is the deeper intention of the studio, but mine as well. Sure we will do a physical practice, it is an important means to making a larger energetic connection with our own selves and the people around us. But more than the physical aspect it is an uncovering or blossoming of what the shape one’s yoga can take, how it integrates into their life, and how then one can express their yoga back into the world. A chance to learn, understand and experience the many expressions of consciousness.

But what is yoga? In a very simple definition it means to yoke. But what are you bringing together? What is being connected? Why would you want to connect anything in the first place? The first contemplation of this brought into writing suggests through this practice of connection, union, and bringing together the different pieces the divine would be favorable. Interestingly enough, the first mention of yoga didn’t include a rubber sticky mat, it didn’t include modern day sun salutations where most everyone (including me) is wearing synthetic material, it did though include sacrifice and discipline. This initial contemplation, weaving or connecting spirit and being to be helped in one’s efforts, came with the beginning of civilization. Since the beginning of humanity yoga has continued to develop many expressions and ways which encourages a bond between multiple aspects.

Perhaps then yoga is the reminder that we are never alone, that it takes many parts, many players, many pieces of the puzzle to create this life. Then the next part…how do you step into this process….? Are you interested in connecting to the light that shine’s in you, as you, as all of us? Are you willing to step on the path of knowledge and experience regarding your life, becoming conscious through humility, patience, courage, love, devotion, compassion, curiosity, discipline? This is what, for me, yoga is really about…learning and understanding how to stand tall in the light that has taken the form of me. It hasn’t nor will it always be pretty, but it’s the best practice and journey I’ve ever encountered.

How about you? What is it really about for you?

Hello Stranger….

Yes, I am talking to myself. As I continue to recognize we never have it figured out…really…on some level we are constantly reintroducing ourselves to a part of ourself that at one time was nothing more than a stranger. (That and I haven’t posted anything in months).

I was listening to advice being given to my sister about having a new born baby. (Yes, if you know any of her story, she has a healthy little 7 week boy!!!) But the advice was in reference to parenting in these first few weeks. “As soon as you have it figured out, just know it will all change”. I’ve thought on this for a few days, as I think, in my late 30’s, this is still true. No I am not a parent, but in reference to my own life…there is always something changing.

The other day the class I taught just barely touched on the topic of the 3 malas, or what I like to call “that which hides your deepest truth”. Afterwards a participant in class confessed to his practice being one of those practices where he was being bullied by his mind the whole time and he apologized. This caught me by surprise as he later went on to say, if my mind is my enemy, how can I make friends. Right?!?! But the surprise was, for me, I don’t see the mind as an enemy, nor do I see a reason to feel bad for having a practice where you are working through the shit storm of your life. The practice of yoga is BODY, MIND, & SPIRIT. So, please don’t ask your mind to shut up, instead give it the acknowledgement it deserves. Yes, sometimes the mind dresses up in tough guy gear and bosses you around, and sometimes it starts to cry when you hear of an amazing triumph, but it’s not an enemy, not for me at least. It’s just asking for attention, acknowledgement, acceptance and then there is a chance for transformation.

Though I don’t always have time, I love listening to people after class. For one, since I was the one leading, hearing people’s contemplation then leads me to be a better guide in the future. Maybe I am just curious, but I find an individual’s thoughts during their practice to be just as significant as their body’s movement. So I had the time to listen to the insight of the participant that shifted from wanting to find friendship with the enemy and train the mind to hold only peaceful and loving thoughts. Yes, this is what we are told a yoga practitioner is supposed to do. But then the conversation went onto how no one is immune to hardship, sadness, or even being bullied by their own self not to mention each other. Recognizing that we can greet these ‘strange’ or unwanted feelings and thoughts and allow them to be noticed rather than silencing them, there is a way to celebrate the many expressions. Sure, witness the emotional roller coaster, but each emotion is the one great love dressed up in different clothing. It’s part of our nature to see the darkness and well, it becomes a more simple yet sophisticated practice when you realize you can choose the light.

 

One of my teachers shared with me the practice of meditation is the practice of making friends with your consciousness. Rather than the mind being a stranger or an enemy that your trying to control, it’s a beautiful expression of the divine that helps and assists in the recognition of the beauty and love life holds.

Yes we will battle our own thoughts. Our own thoughts will frighten us and even make us feel heavy and insignificant. Alright then…come on we are human. For me the practice of yoga, seated or moving, isn’t about emptying out or leaving your troubles at the door, nor is it a practice of perfection. Rather it’s a practice of listening to the full gamete and learning how to connect, hear, and trust the many expressions of love. This process/practice allows one to choose in the highest way available at that moment. Because it’s all going to change. Yep, as soon as you think you have it all figured out…

 

Finding BALANCE

It’s true, the 108 day mark has come and gone as I took a little break from sharing my…perspective and contemplation. Whops, it turns out I am human, just like the rest of us, and even though I teach yoga, doesn’t mean I have anything more figured out. (Maybe I have just spent a little too much time thinking about it, yoga, life, how to participate).

In this little space, I woke up to how out of balance my own life has become. In some sense I was cracked open to my own little ‘shit’ story and served a royal serving of humble pie. Sounds great…not. But since that moment that where my own personal practice of yoga helped me out (which by the way there wasn’t a single handstand, pigeon, down dog, or twist for that matter) my perspective has radically shifted. It was seeing that too much energy was going in one direction and not enough energy in the other directions and I personally was the biggest problem standing in the way.

(It’s my stuff, so I am not going into it, and there is no need to because if you are reading this, then you probably have stuff as well and if your life is balanced, then you probably have something you could share with me.)

But I wonder…is your life balanced…where are you choosing to act from…are you sitting in the dark….are you dancing in the light? I don’t have the answers, but I am learning it’s ok to stand in the brackish waters with open wounds. Yes it stings at first, but then with acceptance, the true healing can begin and balance is restored (that or the tide goes out :).

 

The calm before the storm

The forecast suggests intense weather, there is a weird light in the sky. Then it get’s real calm. Perhaps mother nature gives us this little glimpse to remind us to gather ourselves, get it together, but remember that it will pass. Wear your rain boots, purchase flood insurance, stay away from windows, flights will be delayed maybe even canceled…she (mother nature) means business. But once the storm passes more often then not the air is fresh, crisp even, and you go about your life. Perhaps there is a bit of a mess to tend to and it’s a little inconvenient, but it works – unless it all got demolished… I really hope I have the tools to weather this storm.

Simple comforts

Being back home in your own bed…priceless. Especially when you know your sleep will be filled with pleasant memories of seeing and having time with family and friends. The sweeter part of this past weeks journey? This morning I left my brother’s place in Kentucky and now that I am back in Charleston we went to my sisters for dinner. Leaving home on one level only to come home. I also love that part of my routine involves going for a walk on the beach in the morning….

My ole Kentucky home

This past weekend me and my two dogs drove some 8 hours to meet up with my husband back in Kentucky. A little time away that’s taken me back to where I came from. This trip I’ve been the girl who grew up in Lexington and married a boy from Frankfort. These two character’s haven’t had much time together. We are more of the college kids from Charleston whose separate world travels landed both of them back in Louisville, KY.

An interesting detail is that I left after high school with no real plan to return, not because I didn’t like Lexington, but because there was a whole wide world out there that I couldn’t wait to explore. Even my time in Louisville, 9 years almost, wasn’t what I had intended. Actually, I had to be in Kentucky for physical therapy and a monthly osteopathic visit in order to function both mentally and physically after being t-boned by a huge pick up truck. International travel was out of the picture, partly because September 11 had changed the ease of travel as well as nearly dying. Louisville became the alternative to a new adventure that kept me close to home, but still very far from the girl who grew up in the bluegrass. Which by the way, this July the grass is more blue than I can ever remember.

This trip I am not the girl who’s been teaching yoga for 10 years. It’s been tough to be so close to seeing my yoga support group (you know who you are) and it’s really hard not being that person, but it’s great getting in touch with the girl that cruised through Lexington in her cabriolet smoking cigarettes and being so totally innocent to what life would offer. Today has offered chances to be with people that I spent most of my childhood romping around with, being silly and now…we are all grown up dealing with grown up stuff. I haven’t seen these friends in years, and certainly haven’t been able to stand in a kitchen with kiddos in the background, but it was just like old times. But when you get older, these moments somehow are even better than old times…as I think I didn’t know how great it was to have such good friends growing up…and now I cherish the two brief hours we got to catch up…as adults with all of our adult stuff…and knowing that not as much time will go by before we get to do it again.

Quality time…

With family, specifically sister’s and their kiddos, really is tough to beat. It definitely puts the importance of the bigger picture at the forefront…why are we doing all this? To love and be loved. My oldest niece who is 14, saw the name of my upcoming retreat…love the flow. She’s an instagram professional and I posted a photo saying ‘love the flow, be the flow’ ~ I don’t think she’s stopped laughing. Even when I mentioned that yoga teacher’s live to say funny and catchy things, she still is laughing. This honestly makes me happy. That we get to share this little glimpse of our lives and well that we just get to be in each other’s lives. This is the flow, and yes I am learning to love it more and more.

Life gets messy

In the process of facing a quality or aspect of my life that has been hiding out in the shadow for a little while. It’s all good cause I am here, living and breathing to deal with it, it’s just becoming apparent that I need to spend some time with this layer of my story.

As I move deeper into the identity of myself I obviously can’t do it alone (that was my intention for 2011, being able to ask for help ~ for this girl that is freakin’ hard). But in the past week I’ve also realized how many people like to help and actually want to help. So rather than be like ‘I got this one…it’s not going to be fun…but I can handle it…’ I am finally realizing the importance to include other people in the process. (deep sigh). One layer of the process is that pretending like it’s all pretty, even doing the work, the uncomfortable, challenging layer of life, I would have to say I’ve been in the place pretending like I have it all wrapped up in the little Teresa package. Throw on a smile and poof the light breaks through the crack, because the crack is what lets the light in… But I am entering into a place that I don’t think I have the strength to go alone. It’s dark, and the last time I really stepped in this corner of my heart, well, my only relationship is that it was the end…totally over…and I am realizing that on some level it was totally over, I did leave…but then I came back only to leave again.

However I am here, right now, consciously choosing to even share my life through words (because they are helping me ~ and maybe they will help someone else). But this is the big part (for me). We are always feeling guilty or that there must be something wrong with us if everything isn’t peachy keen. There must be something wrong if death is actually dark, but there is beauty in the darkness as everything is contained in the darkness. Even as I write this, the sun is nowhere to be seen, if I went for a walk outside I wouldn’t be able to see all that is in front of me. Yet there is a diverse display of divine grace in every direction. There is a level of the unknown that is powerful, wonderful, and I hope to one day say I’m not scared anymore. But for now my personal saying is, ‘Teresa, you are still sane, it just isn’t always pretty because life gets messy.’