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 :).

 

Just enough

As yoga teachers we are taught to notice patterns, tendencies, and for myself find ways to enhance rather than make someone feel small or insignificant. I am a firm believer in alignment, but I don’t believe there is just one way to get there. One thing I truly find frustrating is when a person preaches of how their way is better than anyone else’s. This is one thing about Anusara that felt out of alignment as I was getting certified ~ the way teachers projected themselves as the best. Yes I think some of them are awesome, but not the best. Today I recognized that alignment for me is a position where you don’t become obsessed but rather utilize it just enough. There isn’t just one pattern in everyone and for me you honor the individual first.

Come Alive

Conversations today include reflection, family dynamics, expansion and magnificence. Feeling part of something really aids in the ability to find contentment. Invited to be a part of something because you’ve always been your true self holds a larger benefit than pretending. Even pretending that you don’t need to be a part of something. I  think if you can learn how to come alive, what gets you going in the morning, motivates you to see beyond the surface layer of life ~ of your life ~ then being true to yourself is being true to the great self, god, absolute,or that which is none higher. Because your coming alive brings life to the divine.

Feedback

Is so important. Hearing what people have to say after you put something out there. It could be a class, a work of art, a meal, a complement…anything really. The feedback I get from my dogs is unconditional and very much necessary. But as a yoga teacher, for me, feedback is what allows me to become better.

Yes, I love hearing if you like a class, if you enjoyed something. The one thing I hear more than anything is that people love coming to hear what I have to say – heard this one so much I finally started a blog. (Which I think it comes across better as a class than this blog in my opinion). So thank you for all your positive feedback it’s helped me in many moments I have doubted myself – which happens more than you know.

This week my favorite remarks…have all been from male students. Most the time we don’t really know what we liked about the practice. We just know we feel better so when someone takes the time to let me know, I listen. I teach a lot of ‘non-traditional’ classes because I feel yoga is more about awareness than it is about triangle pose. But I wish if you really wanted to do triangle pose and I didn’t, that you’d let me know…

 

 

Keep it real…

I don’t do well with false fluffy bull sh**. Yes I realize we are all navigating the waters of life but please is it necessary to pretend or even fake it? It seems that yoga is everywhere these days and something that bothers me is the commercialization. Perhaps it’s a good thing as long as whatever is being offered, whoever is offering it is held accountable.

Yes I am all about opening your heart seriously, but I’m gonna stick with you as you discover the swampy crude that hides your truth. It isn’t all unicorns and rainbows even if it appears that way and you may even start to notice more pots of gold in your life. When you continuously open yourself to new discoveries you get comfortable in the discomfort. You realize that you don’t need fancy pants or mat. Instead you just need a willing heart.

 

(this could easily sound like fluffy bs, but it’s just who & how I am)

life…

sometimes it grabs you and takes over…
somehow it is Monday night and I am exhausted, should have been in bed an hour ago and tomorrow’s alarm is going to feel early at 4:30am. but I’ll get back in the groove.
something happens this time of year, days are longer, schedule is jam packed.
i’m grateful to be busy, juggling the different aspects, people, events and commitments. i couldn’t do it though without my meditation. not even certain I could ride the fast pace waves of life with out the skills that yoga has brought me. sure an arm balance is fun and builds confidence, but it’s seeing clearly when everything is coming quickly, maintaining awareness when it feels a bit blurry, knowing how to find a connection to your breath amidst the chaos, this is the gift of meditation.
benefits abound really. it’s so simple, but it requires a commitment. a wonder filled commitment to sit with the love of god everyday. it doesn’t save you nor does it have all the answers, but it gives you a small moment in your day to plug in and connect with the great absolute. it becomes a stabilizing force, a inner circuitry that you tap into, know that you can reach for, even when you’re not certain you’ll ever get it all done.