Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Beginning is the End.

“The most important kind of freedom is to be what you really are. You trade in your reality for a role. You trade in your sense for an act. You give up your ability to feel, and in exchange, put on a mask. There can't be any large-scale revolution until there's a personal revolution, on an individual level. It's got to happen inside first.” 
― Jim Morrison

Well said, Jim. 

I have been on a bit of a personal revolution this weekend. Identifying my masks, making them tangible and trying them on for size. My ancestors, the version of myself that I became in order to survive and be loved, and a delicious scoop of the Mandy personality...Then I spent some time breaking those ties, rewriting my story and getting tuned in to the free and innocent child I was born to be. 

The revolution is an inside job. 

I woke up feeling kind of raw. There's a reason I wear the mask. It has protected me well from, well...the well of emotions that rise to the surface so easily for me. However, with Passover, the Full Moon and Easter upon me, Freedom and Rebirth are in the air. What must be done to press the reset button and be free? 

For each of us, this may be different, but even in our daily yoga practice, we must be open to new discoveries, our very patterns running through our body's memory. Listening to ourselves becomes the practice. Forget about the mimic. Forget about the should's and the way you used to look, be. feel. True freedom is in the moment. Free of judgements. The ability to choose. I ask myself, am I contorting into the splits, because I have always been able to? Because my father gave me praise for this? Am I avoiding a handstand because of an old injury? Because I am imperfect at inversions? Because I haven't practiced in years? It's time to revise and free ourselves from the old, and reveal the sweet innocent that wants to emerge. Tiny flower bud, reaching towards the sun. 

Today, I open myself. Beginner's Mind. Beginner's Heart. Wondering where these curiosities will take me. Today I reconnect with the childlike spirit that I was born to be. 

Happy Spring!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The End is the Beginning

Today marks the end of the astrological calendar. The culmination of all the year's energies encompasses the total sum of all parts. The saying that we must close one door to open another comes to light here. This is a time to review and release all that you have integrated and become this past year.
In order to realign with the new energies, we must say goodbye to the old.

A ritual of release may be a meditation, followed by writing down all of the people, places, and things, as well as old habits and thought patterns that you release. You may write this out and burn it to ignite your inner fire, as you send it up to the ethers. Or perhaps you will want to ritualize this letting go with an offering to the ocean or a moving body of water. Rose petals or fruit that you offer to the primordial soup to which you belong.

Life, it seems to me, is a long stream of letting go.

Letting go of loved ones.
Letting go of old beliefs.
Letting go of habits that no longer serve.
Letting go of youth.
Letting go of jobs, relationships, projects we have long since completed.
Letting go of judgement and wishing things were different.

My life is a lot of big and little letting go's. Each chapter that I close, involves a loss. A grieving. But really, a celebration. What joy to be complete. What peace to put to rest a piece of my puzzle.

I encourage you to sit with the feelings you have as you consciously release the past, and open fully to this present moment.

I recently revamped my New Year's resolution/intention from: To Receive. The revision being: To Receive What Is In Alignment With the Highest Expression Of Myself.

The end is the beginning.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Meditation Preparation

Don't just do something, sit there. Easier said than done, right? The art of meditation may be ritualized. When I need to reawaken that practice, a message to the subconscious that it is now the time to sit can be helpful. Good intentions become intercepted by my to-do list, the simple enjoyment of my cup of tea and answering e-mails, or if I am lucky, the company of a close friend.

Today I commit to reconnecting.

1. Dedicate a time in the morning or evening. 15 to 20 minutes is enough. When we make a commitment and set aside time around when we sleep, we insure that we will be available and ready to be open to the meditation. When I revolve it around my sleep, it makes it much easier to make the time.

2. Create a space where you sit. It may be a corner in your bedroom, a meditation pillow, or if you are like me and live in a very small space, it can be your favorite chair. The point is to have a space where you sit down and know it's your "seat". Like having a desk where you work. Creating space to settle and ground down will help to inform your body. Our bodies have a memory, so it is helpful to allow it to remember.

3. Set a timer. It's amazing how many times I look at my clock after just five minutes. If you set a timer, you don't have to anticipate the time going by. This will get you into the habit of concentration and connecting to a timeless place.

4. Give yourself a touchstone. Mala beads, a mantra, or a power object can give you something to hold on to (literally!). A major tool of meditation is coming back to the present moment. When you have a touchstone to remind you, it's like holding the hand of a loved one. A gentle reminder to be here. Now. Your thoughts may try to take  a hold of you, but you have something to focus on and bring your back.

5. Get in the mood. Music relaxes me. Coyote Oldman, Shaman's Dream, or Krishna Das are my favorites. Lighting a candle or incense ignites the ritual of connecting me with spirit. Dimming the lights in the room helps me as well.

Now you are ready. Preparation brings awareness and honoring to our practice. Yet at any time, you may call on the constant connection that you have with spirit. Your direct line need only be activated with awareness.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Yoga, the Wave of Music

This weekend I had the opportunity to attend the Wanderlust Festival, along with a select group of yoga practitioners, teachers and Lululemon wearers. We yoga-ed and surfed by day on the North shore of Hawaii, and by night we danced to Michael Franti, Craig Kohland & Shaman's Dream, and more.

As the weekend progressed, my personal rhythm became clear: Play. I found myself on an island with a thousand people I didn't know, who were willing to play. At his outdoor concert during the day, Michael Franti began to lead what felt like an enormous school yard game. We began dancing alone, then with a partner, then in a circle of six, circles of twelve, and soon circles of fifty. Soon there were two circles of five hundred...and finally one large circle. He had us do the wave, and then run across the grassy field to hug a random stranger that we love. It reminded me, that we are like children at play. Yoga and Music. The waves pounding consistently in the background. My heart. Beating from within. Life! 

Why did it take so long? It still seems revolutionary (and a little bit naughty) to practice to music that moves me. Back in the early days, the yoga class was internal, serious, and silent. The austerity that accompanied the group yoga classes distracted us, fighting with the no-fun of the practice.

Today it is common practice to include music. Everything from hip-hop to classic rock is used in many of your local classes, giving yoga a looser energy. For me, yoga is about play, becoming detached from my judgement, critical mind, and separateness. In this way, I can see how this new movement—this wave of yoga and music—has brought with it a change in the world energy.

How natural it feels to move to your favorite tunes. Music, the vibrational art form, expresses itself through the conduit of your body. Yoga is a dance. The rhythmic focus of breath and movement mirrors our own natural environment. Just like a wave that moves through the ocean. The water is simply a conductor of the energy forces that affect it. You too are largely water, and you are conducting the elements and energies that play through you.

The rhythm of the ocean, breath, and body energies move with the sounds and vibrations of positive music. Since I am not musically trained, my body has become my interpretive instrument for the spirit of sound. Thanks to this magical, and incredible medium: Music! This yokes it all together. YO!GA

Click here for my music playlists.

Click here for more on Wanderlust and how you can become a part of the movement.

Click here for more on Lululemon.