Monday, July 30, 2012

Heart-Opening in the Light of the Sun

With Summertime comes childhood memories, and recollections of Summers past. Wonderful heart-opening memories, like falling in love. Painful and eye-opening memories like the death of my father. One thing I find for sure: Summer sheds a light upon me and lifts the veil of Winter, revealing all that I can handle and more. At times, this can feel like it is too much, but over the years I have learned from my life experience that nothing is 'too much'. So I have committed to opening my heart to whatever the Universe brings me.

Sphinx Pose on the streets of NYC.
I have discovered that in the world of art and the theatre of the heart, everything is useful. Everything is beautiful. In my youth, I often felt that my emotions would be too large for the world to handle. Today, I have experienced the opposite, because I am not too much and no situation is too much for my large open heart to handle, process and give back from. I have trained myself to channel my emotions into creativity and re-creation: I re-create my body by harnessing the power of my emotions, or do something productive with my heart-break, like write a book or paint my feelings onto a canvas. Art and creativity reside in the home of the heart. The word "heart" even contains the word "art"!

Working from the outside-in, you can train yourself to open your heart by taking actions. You can do subtle exercises, like cultivating an awareness of the energetic heart. One simple meditation you can do is place your hand right there in the center of your chest, breathe into it and feel. Mentally remind yourself of your gratitude by listing 5 things you are grateful for. Gratitude enlarges your heart.

Yoga provides a variety of heart-opening postures. The most lovely and subtle is Sphinx Pose. It is very gentle on your back, as it opens the chest cavity and the shoulders. Think about presenting your heart to the Universe, and being thankful for your gift. An exercise in true humility at the grace that rises from within you in the face of life's terrain. This life is a beauty. It is waiting for you with open arms.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Feeling is Healing

The pointless tragedy that happened in Colorado last week had me dumbstruck and in shock, just like the rest of the world. The idea that in one moment, so many lives could be altered on a random Friday night in an unsuspecting entertainment outing. As I read the news on Twitter, Facebook and the internet (almost instantly), it was very difficult to process. I don't know that I have a file for this particular category in my brain. It isn't political, personal or logical. No matter how I try to spin it, there doesn't seem to be a correct intelligent response. Who can I become angry with and blame? If I don't get angry and point the finger, does that mean I condone this? Compassion and imagination will not allow me to completely check-out and ignore it. If I don't use this to prove my case, if I don't get behind my cause and my belief systems, if I don't personalize it and make it about me, if I don't ignore the problem (saying it was a troubled person, a symptom, an accident), or if I don't try to immediately solve it with a healing salve of white light and reason...where does this leave me?

I have experienced personal loss, and some events in my life that have not made sense, so as I reach into those moments, I try to stretch to relate to the event. What occurs to me today, is that sometimes things don't have a logical answer. They don't make sense. There are mistakes. There are tragedies that will alter us. In what way, we do not know. When I choose to sit in the moment and weather the storm in my heart, and do nothing to fix myself or it, I find that what is left is simply feeling. The feeling of grief and compassion, beneath the logic. Beneath the fear and anger. Beneath the knowledge. What sits in me is simply my heart, breaking open. And it occurs to me that sometimes when things do not make sense, the only thing left to do is to sit and allow my heart to break right open. It is in the feeling that the healing begins.

As I breathe, I do remember: "Pain is God's Hand In My Heart."

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Is your bikini ready for YOU?

I have just spent the past 10 days with girls, all shapes and sizes from ages 13 to 65. From women who have given birth to 4 children, to 13-year-old girls with pure white skin, some hippy, some busty, even cover girls that are on the magazines challenging you to get bikini-ready. And guess what? We were ALL bikini-ready. It probably helped that is was scorching hot and that there were no men present, otherwise we may have banished ourselves from wearing that two-piece for fear we would be ranked. However, what I have found is that men are not really the just like naked women. They like women's bodies, and those "last 5 lbs." don't really matter much. In fact, they probably don't even notice. Really, the freedom to just put that bikini on and be among other women who are not the same, and to accept ourselves, actually gives others the permission to do so too. Perhaps to allow the vulnerability and softness that mirrors our very own bodies is enough.

I found myself in conversations with young girls about what foods they should avoid to have a better body. Girls with awesome young bodies, hiding and covering them (if I knew then what I know now...), completely unaware of their perfection. I wanted so badly to take away the self-consciousness. To give back what it has taken me 30+ years to know. I shared with them that if I had a regret, it was that in my youth I worried and thought about and criticized my body too much. This knowing took time and experience.Ultimately my body and mind found their way into a relationship. A very accepting relationship, that has seen me through weight gain and loss, muscle tone, broken bones, broken hearts, exhaustion and resilience. Just like with any relationship, it took some challenges, time and experiences and to come through the other side. Oh to fall in love with this awesome and beautiful vehicle that encases the depth of emotion, that has the ability to enjoy sensations like getting wet when jumping into the ocean and getting to see with my eyes a magical sunset.

Of course, teenagers have an extra challenge. The hormones that cause the body to shift and morph. We find attraction, and begin to measure ourselves against others. Because they are noticing change for the first time, they do not realize the body is dynamic. I wondered, at that age what I would look like when I grew up, what my body would ultimately be. The funny thing is, it has never stopped shifting and growing and changing. Today, there is less elasticity and fat in some places, yet in others (like my back!!), I am seeing more folds. So the real change has come with the comfort in this body as it is. Soft belly, sometimes fleshier than other times.

The question remains: How to become accepting of this body? This life is a moment in time. The body is in constant change and flux. There is no perfection, except for in the unfoldment. The body is unfolding and falling right into place. When I take my clothes off and put my bikini on, I am saying "YES" to my body exactly as it is. 

So I say not are you ready for your bikini, but is your bikini ready for you?! Watch out, here I come.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Home Is Where The Heart Is: "You Are Here"

Summertime is for enjoying the fruits of our labor. It is a time to ground into the nurture that brings joy into your heart and supports your ventures and adventures. My home base is very mobile at the moment, so I am learning to center into my true home, which is my heart. The connection to the heart is highlighted by the full moon on July 3rd. When the moon is full, there is a natural pull between your internal emotions and external expression. This particular full moon highlights how you can express your deepest self as you take authority in the world. We are all being asked to find this balance as we are being forced to revolutionize and evolve out of the comforts of home base. Many of us are being thrust out of the nest, yet are being called to take our tools with us. In the past two months, I have found myself in Toronto, New Orleans, East Hampton, Ibiza and Provence. Without my below practices, I feel ungrounded, with little to give. Finding the connection to my heart is key. This featured video, from my Marilyn Denis Show appearance, is for the arms, which are extensions of the heart. It's the way we hold our loved ones, give, and receive. When your foundation is in flux, it is essential to find the constant. That means home is with you wherever you go. I suggest some grounding practices that you can take with you into the world. As I travel and move, here are some ways that I find my home base:

1. Heart as Home base: Heart-based meditations. You can literally meditate on the feeling in your heart. As you breathe, notice the physical sensation. Allow your emotions to flow freely, and genuinely receive yourself. If you begin this way daily, you will find a true home base. I do this 20-60 minutes each day, no matter when or where I am.

2. Body as Home base: The next constant is my physical body. I get my heart-rate up, pumping my blood to the extremities. Walking is completely available no matter where you are and is my favorite way to see a city when I am away from my home town, Los Angeles. Try the suggested 20-60 minute daily dose.

3. Spirit as Home base: You may have other habits, techniques, and objects that symbolize and connect you with spirit such as music, objects, practices. Perhaps a spiritual book, mala beads, or a crystal. Find your personal touchstone.

As the days get longer, feel your way through. Create home base no matter where you go. Enjoy the fruits of your labor. Reach out to others and share the love you have cultivated from within.