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.

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Opportunity for Growth

When I was a kid if I did something less than brilliant, that is acted like a kid, my parents, instead of grounding me or punishing me would say…’what did you learn from this’. Which at times, especially when I hadn’t figured it out yet, would feel like punishment enough. This approach has me as an adult realizing again and again, what did I learn from this how can I grow from this?

This weekend, memorial day, is always a rocky one for me. Not only is it near and sometimes on my birthday it’s also loaded with memories both sweet and deeply sad. It wasn’t until I graduated from college did I finally release the fear of something bad happening and instead decided to take the time to remember the loving qualities of the loss or challenge that surrounds this time of year for me. I should also add that at one point when I was a teenager my dad said to me something like “Teres, I don’t know what but there has to be something special about all of this. I know it is sad and hard, but maybe there is something good to it all”. (His father had just passed on my birthday). It doesn’t mean that the bad, or I now consider it incredibly challenging, times have vanished, I’ve just cultivated a stronger ability to continue to grow.

Two years ago we put a contract on our home in Charleston that we totally gambled on changing our lives big time. On our way back to to KY, which was my birthday, we stopped at a rest stop and the car was engulfed in smoke and covered in diesel fuel. A little scary, but the car didn’t explode and was still under warranty. My birthday was spent in a hotel in Spartanburg where I had a little time to figure out how I was going to tell everyone back in Kentucky that we were moving.

The year prior to that we were flying with my dad from Kentucky to Charleston for the weekend. The sky closed in on us and I am not going into detail but when we finally landed in Chattanooga (which is not on the way), I touched the earth and felt incredibly alive. The wild part is we refueled and got back in the plane and flew to Charleston, we were 3 hours late. My dad was really good at acting unmoved by the event, but I think he would agree on some level, that it pushed the boundary a little too far.

Where am I going with all this…? Life is full of close calls. It is inevitable that we will feel pain and be challenged. But it is also amazing how there is always something, though you may have to dig deeper than you think you can, that will allow you to grow and strengthen your character. Handling adversity is one of the greater gifts yoga has offered me. In counseling it’s called resiliency and some theorists feel everyone is born with the capability to rebound from adversity. But here is the deal, it seems like it comes in the form of punishment,which some people firmly believe. But really it is just an opportunity for growth a chance to expand and strengthen your character.

Sure some people can handle it better than others, but this is why we have each other. If you are stuck start reading stories that enhance you rather than condescend and make you feel small. It may make you cry, it may even seem like you are about to take your last breath, but there is more cheering you on than you can imagine. If you have lost anyone or anything that is holding you back, trying going out there and doing something great for them, bring forward that quality of yourself that they were attracted to, that helped cultivate the relationship that you miss. And if anything, breathe deep, let the sun hit your skin, (if it’s raining, go get soaking wet), and know that you are always changing and growing. Don’t spend too much time trying to ‘learn from this’ but instead go out and live!

In the moment…

Right? That’s the idea of yoga, to learn how to be present or this present moment is a gift… Well it turns out that at this moment -I’m wide awake and I’ve been up since 4:30AM. Yes, I should be tired, but yoga has also taught me how to utilize my energy and be more in the flow, aligned with the currents entering the life that is flowing threw me, as me, as this moment. So here I am, almost an entire year later writing on this blog.

What took me so long? Life happened. I wrote the first ten pages of a book reflecting on the past ten years and it occurred to me that I hadn’t truly processed the fact that I almost died. That day someone else’s path collided with mine I was in and out of consciousness touch and go. Ten years later I realized I hadn’t taken the time to sit with it. Yes it motivated me. You could say I’ve been on a 10 year energy drink. Yes, I have faced many of the physical aspects and even spiritual aspects, but not the subtleties of reality.  I was not in a position to process or even strong enough to stare at my own truth. To seriously encounter the fire pit of my heart, it wasn’t the right time then. So…I’ve been processing, accepting, allowing, and now here I am acting, co-creating.

Though the clock has struck midnight, I don’t consider the day over until I’ve slept and so today I am committing to 108 days of sharing my contemplations. A teacher in town has created a challenge if you will, 108 days of yoga. I meditate everyday, teach a good bit, do asana a lot, so I’ve decided to do something that scares me…write. Yep, write in a way that affords you an opportunity to bring forward the truth of your own heart. I’m dedicating it to my grandmother who on this first day of May 15 years ago had no idea that it would be the last May of her life. Besides, she always told me that I really needed to write IT down.

Gilda Joann Albano Poppleton, this is for you!

Mistakes & all…

My yoga teaching journey and how I ended up here…part one

This is part one of a rather long story and the play Anusara has had in my journey as a yoga teacher, and a journey of me and my co-creation of my life. The stories are all told from my experience and what has brought me to this moment that I am still processing daily. Why the play of Anusara? If you can make it through the many parts, you’ll see. Oh, but I have no idea yet how the story will end.

Nosara, Costa Rica, February 2003 – a beautiful ceremony recognizing the 40 of us that were graduating with a Certification for teaching Hatha Yoga. The red concrete floor, bougainvillea drapped everywhere, the breath taking Shiva in the middle, and the fact that I was earning a certification alongside those who didn’t show up for class, or participate in the manner I did, or held a great disrespect for those of us who were eager and full of enthusiasm to teach yoga with great integrity. When my name was called, I walked up to receive my certification and all frustration dissolved completely as I enjoyed a great stroke of insight. At that moment I only felt a sense of completion, honor and deep respect for my teachers and they had offered the teachings without the expectation that everyone is going to have the same experience. My experience, was mine, and at that moment I couldn’t wait to start teaching yoga!

In a letter that I wrote my friend during my first teacher training, it read something like… I get to help people realize that they contain a goodness, a bliss, a joy inside of them and that through yoga they can awaken this potential and help make the world a better place. My friend, now husband, came across this letter last spring, 8 years later, and said, you should read this. I did and realized that this has been my intention from the very beginning. This message was written before I had even heard the word Anusara or John Friend, however it was only days after receiving my first yoga certification that the Anusara manual landed in my lap.

I spent additional time in Costa Rica, traveling with a few people and visiting my cousin. One person was going to head back to Arizona and begin her studies with Anusara. She was so passionate about it and had come to Costa Rica for her teacher training as, if I am not mistaken, she needed to have completed a 200 hour teacher training. While we were in Arenal I read the manual. Hmm, isn’t that interesting, I thought to myself. But I couldn’t get past the fact that there was this guy that said ultimately we are all free, but to experience this freedom we must abide by a set of ‘rules’ or principles. I thought to myself, who does this guy think he is? We are all free, but we have to do what he says. Besides, I didn’t like the idea of leaping immediately into another training without taking the time to sit with the beautiful offerings we had just received.

While I was in Costa Rica, my little sister and my friend moved her and I to Louisville, KY, a place I had never taken a yoga class or even visited all that much. Not to mention I had little awareness to what the yoga politics were at that time. So I saw a studio had to cancel classes two nights a week as the owner was going to be traveling to do an Anusara Immersion. I didn’t think anything of the method, but rather saw an opportunity to be of service. March of 2003, I began teaching Thursday evenings at 6pm and continued teaching that same time slot for the next 8 years. The owner did the Immersion, and she had another teacher there who taught Anusara, but the method didn’t stand out to me. Sure trying out handstand at the wall with jump switches was exciting and scary, but I also saw too much personality conflict and a huge amount of arrogance. The guy who was really into Anusara, his beliefs and behaviors were totally out of alignment between his home life and his yoga teaching. But, what did I know, I was a new teacher on the block and put my energy into the classes and hearts that were in front of me to teach what I knew to be true through my experiences on and off the mat. The owner was supportive of me and I hold deep gratitude for her opening her door to my teaching in her space, fresh off a teacher training, her initial trust is a big reason why I have evolved as a teacher.

The fall of 2003 I went to Estes Park for the Yoga Journal Conference. I did the continuing education prior to the weekend event. It was an eye opener for certain, Richard Freeman, Rodney Yee, Ana Forest, Gary Kraftsow, and Patricia Walden. I had been taught that there is something to gain with every teacher and every class. To this day I still utilize little nuggets from each of these teachers as well as a deep respect for everyone devoted to the path of yoga. In the workshop with Ana Forest I met a girl who held just as much enthusiasm for being here as I did, but hers came from a different space. Her boyfriend was one of the presenters in the evening panels and she highly encouraged me to go listen to him. Though I was totally buzzing from all the expansive experiences I had been having, I went. I saw the girl and she was in a whole different space, it was obvious that she was excited to be associated with this guy who was obviously a good bit older than her, but who was I to judge. Then a guy, John Friend got up to introduce this speaker, he too held great admiration for his friend and thanked him for all he was contributing, but I didn’t understand what John was talking about nor did I understand anything that this girl’s boyfriend was saying. There words were complex and overly intelligent, obviously not landing in my heart. But I was also intoxicated by the physical practice of yoga, three days, 5 different teachers, if this girl wanted to hang out with an ‘older’ intellectual man, power to her, I was more interested in getting back on my yoga mat.

The next day, the whole day was spent with Shiva Rea and it was magical. It was my first experience of being in a room with 200 other people, live music, sitar and drums, assistants that took the time to connect with you if you had an injury, and a practice that moved me in a way I had never quite moved before. I knew I had landed right where I was supposed to be. I gained so much from that class and I remember when there continued to be roars of applause in the other space next to us that Shiva Rea would say, that’s my friend John and it sounds like they are having just as much fun as we are. There it was again, a little less then a foot of a wall between me and the merry band. I remember thinking, how great it is that so many people are enjoying their yoga and that there are so many offerings to choose from, this was the beginning of my addiction to yoga training.

After that conference, I sat with all the offerings I had receive and the one that was most potent for me was the fluid connection to the source of joy that Shiva Rea had inspired, so January 2004 I began to learn how to Embody the Flow. At the same time I was communicating about doing an Immersion of sorts in Cincinatti, it was close to home, and this Anusara stuff kept coming up, but after the two weeks in Venice, CA I decided I should stick with one teaching method and let it soak in before leaping into another practice. The studio I taught at in Kentucky was loving the flow, the owner not so much, but she gave me the space to teach. She brought the teacher from Cincinnati down to do a workshop, I remember practicing and thinking, oh this is nice, but I like my flow so much better and thank goodness for variety.

I continued studying with Shiva Rea, California, New York, India. I loved the combined ability to travel and deepen my knowledge. Shiva Rea taught me how to connect to my heart, to give people the space to experience a deeper current of their own heart as well. I watched my classes grow and everyone’s awareness and enthusiasm for yoga increasing. My hunger to know more began and at about the same time, the owner of the studio was going to move, she offered the purchase of the studio to me, but our views didn’t align, she found another buyer, and I was super excited for everyone involved…

To be continued…