happiness

Shaped

Finally, after weeks of trying to get organized, the girl and I made it to church this morning. These past few months I’ve felt a real spiritual void and I wasn’t doing the right things to fill it. I know that for me the best way to do that is to step back, allow the quiet to come in, meditate, and just be with my tribe. Doing, or trying to make something work that does not flow easily, never works for me to get my spiritual mojo going. Sometimes I forget that.

The past couple of days I’ve been carrying around the book The Great Work of Your Life by Stephen Cope. I bought it on a trip to Kripalu a few years ago, read it, and loved it. Dharma, understanding what mine is and how it is to be of service to the world has been what has been niggling at my heart the past few weeks. So, I had the intention of getting that book read this weekend. I have not even opened it yet. And still, the theme of Dharma has been following me around. I can feel it brewing in my stomach (ignited in part thanks to my session with Asrael – that energy stuff is awesome).

I signed Jenna into her Sunday School class with the full intention of running across the street to Timmy’s to do some quiet reading. A very friendly lady came up to me, introduced herself, and invited me to join their women’s group. I was standing there trying to think of a reasonable sounding excuse to bail, when she said what the group was about. It’s called Shaped by God, and it’s purpose it to help this group of women come together to discover who we are, the purpose God has created for us, and how we can be equipped to serve according to our SHAPE (Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, Experiences). 

So, essentially I was invited to join a group of women where we could get together and discover our Dharma and then learn how to give that gift that God has given us to the world.

I can be pretty dense sometimes, but I’m learning to pay attention to these super obvious signs that God sometimes sends my way. I went to the group. It was fantastic.

One thing I really appreciated in the group was how the leader lifted up the introverts of the world. I find often when I’m in groups like this , the louder, more outspoken extroverts get a lot of time to shine while the quieter, more introspective, introverts often get lost in the shuffle. She praised how the introverts so often quietly sit and offer their gifts in such a way that it is not completely obvious, but usually so helpful and effective. As one who creates best when I come from a place of quiet peace I appreciated that.

Spiritual happiness.

I met a quieter need this afternoon when I went walking along the ridge. I’ve been missing Dad the past couple of days more and walking there where I’ve been with him so many times helped me reconnect to who he was.


Plus, there were horses there. I stopped and petted them for a while – then (and I’m not ashamed to admit this) I stood and smelled that wonderful horsey smell that was left on my hands. They bring me such incredible peace. Horses are how I’ve always connected best to my spirituality. Fall time happiness moment.

Standard
happiness

Tadasana

After a break that was much too long I spent an hour and a half easing my body into Tadasana this morning. I love the gentle yoga I learned at Kripalu and have a cd by Rudy Peirce that I purchased on a visit there years ago. Basically it’s 90 minutes spent getting into mountain pose. It sounds ridiculously easy, but there’s something about those slow and gentle stretches that is so powerful for my soul. 

I find that this yoga that is based on compassion is so much more a spiritual practice than it is a physical one. It’s such an effective way for me to realign myself and connect to my Source. I didn’t realize how disconnected I truly was until I sat in that quiet space. It was awesome and spiritual and happy. I love it. 

Standard
happiness

A little bit of grounding

Grounding myself again is something I’ve been seeking for the past few years. I firmly believe that a lot of the problems I had with my feet a few years ago were the result of me not feeling like I belonged, or like my feet were firmly planted on the ground. I’m sure it’s part and parcel of a lot of the issues I’m dealing with right now.  After a lot of work and praying my feet are better, but that feeling of grounding is still a work in progress.

It has gotten a lot better since we have come back home. Living in a family home with a view of the barn that I spent my childhood in has really helped with that cause. But, still I notice that usually my feet don’t feel like they’re firmly planted on the ground so to speak. The other day I wrote about my yoga practice, and since then I’ve been dedicating some time every day to my gentle yoga (it’s a by an instructor I was lucky enough to have lead a few classes I’ve been in at Kripalu). Basically I’ve spent the last 5 days working on mountain pose. You would think that an hour and a half spent working into one pose would drive one bananas, but it turns out that’s exactly how long I need to get there properly (well we do a few other things, but the objective is getting to mountain pose).

Today I noticed as I was working through the final stages of the class that my feet felt different. They were touching the ground in a more firm, centered, balanced way than they have since I can remember. Almost like they were grounded. Which of course is one of the objectives of mountain pose.

My happiness moment today – a little bit of grounding, it’s a good thing.

Standard
Uncategorized

Yoga for the soul 

Discovering yoga was one of the best things that has happened to me. I consider myself very lucky because I have had wonderful people come into my life to guide my practice.

When we lived in Quebec, the mom of one of Jacob’s friends opened a yoga studio. She taught a wonderful gentle yoga class that was exactly what my body needed. She was so kind and welcoming, it made it such a safe and loving way to begin my practice.

When we moved to Rhode Island, my husband gifted me a weekend at Kripalu which was where I fell madly and deeply in love with how yoga made me feel. Kripalu yoga is exactly the kind of yoga I need to do. it does not care that I carry so much tension, or that I am not flexible, or that I am self-conscious.  It is slow and gentle, it is built on compassion, and for me it is very spiritual. The only other thing that has brought me closer to God is time on the back of a horse.

Sometime after I began my studies with New World Ayurveda, they started offering Healing Light Yoga Therapy. It was my first introduction to Asrael, who has become a very important guide and mentor. The sixth session of yoga classes began last weekend, and I was finally able to do the recorded version this morning.

It’s a pretty cool way to do a yoga class, she leads it online and we follow along at home. There is an amazing feeling of being bonded to the other people in the class even though many miles separate us. That energy knows no bounds. There’s a recorded version on their website so if you miss the live class (like I did) then you can do it at your own convenience.

I was thinking about what these classes have done for me. When I first started my anxiety was so intense I could barely function. I was actually really happy that the yoga class was online. Aside from the fact that it made it easier to fit into the day (with two kids and a busy schedule), being in the comfort of my own room meant that my general anxiety was lessened. Of course I was soon to discover that Asrael’s voice is it’s own kind of valium for calming my stress. My cat Ella agrees, anytime she hears her voice she comes and purrs beside the computer or the phone – which strongly violates her don’t let people know I like them rule.

Now I go for long periods (I mean usually days) where I don’t even remember that anxiety played such a huge role in my life. Before this it was an issue that had brought me to my knees and affected every single thing I did in my life.  A lot of factors have come into play to help with my healing – a big portion coming from my Ayurveda studies, my private sessions with Asrael, and these yoga classes.

I do practice my own breathing to calm and ground myself, but it so much easier for me to get to that groovy feeling when I am being guided. I was so happy today when I was lying on my mat and being reminded of how to take the big healing breaths.

This type of yoga is one that nourishes my soul. It feeds me on all levels and I consider it one of the most important parts of my healing and my growth. It’s not always easy, sometimes really yucky things get released, but it is always worth it. It may take a bit of time, but there is always a good feeling – right to the core of my being – that comes from these classes.

Today my happiness moment was lying on that mat breathing healing light into my soul.
Photo from the New World Ayurveda Healing Light Yoga Therapy site

Standard
Uncategorized

Chefs in the kitchen 

Tonight we brought a little New Mexico back to our kitchen. Well, a Canadianized version of southwestern cooking since it involved a lot of throwing what we had in the pantry into the mix. 

The kids decided they wanted enchiladas for supper, Jacob had made some last year in his foods class, so he declared himself head chef. 

The three of us worked in the kitchen together to prepare the meal. We used to cook together a lot, it feels like it’s been a long time since we have come together like this.  A welcome return of a fun and bonding activity. 

As we worked we listened to my “yoga mix” on my playlist. May it be is one of the songs. On our drive home I had to play the song to see if it was familiar to Jacob. I had thought it was familiar besides playing on my pandora station. Yesterday I realized that it was on his Hobbit album that plays non stop. His has a different singer and is just different enough that he didn’t recognize it. When he realized that we had both been enchanted by the same song we had a good giggle and then had to justify why our version was the better one. 

As we made supper, I played my yoga mix as background music. As well as May It Be, we enjoyed grooving to KDZ the Kripalu drummers. There’s something about drinking music that is good for the soul. 

My happiness moment, Jammin’ in the kitchen with my monsters. I sure missed them, we work best as a unit. 

Standard
Uncategorized

Surrender

  
I come from a long line of extremely stubborn and willful people so to say that I don’t surrender easily (or at all) into things is putting it mildly. 

Since having yoga and mediation and Ayurveda introduced into my life I have been actively seeking the way to surrender. It hasn’t been successful. 

This is likely because I’ve been trying to force myself to surrender. Stubbornly and willfully. With no success. 

I always imagined how my true surrender would go. It would be like Disney meets Kripalu. I would be sitting serenely in a field with butterflies flitting about, deer skipping by, and flowers dancing a merry rainbow of peace and serenity. I would be radiating bliss from my inner core as I sat in peaceful meditation. 

No matter how many times I tried to force this peaceful surrender it never happened. 

Today for the first time I felt myself – my whole self, body mind and spirit – surrender. 

Here’s what it looked like: me lying on the ground yelling no, no, no, no, no, no,no f*ck, f*ck (a few more hundred of those)…. FINE. Then I lay there and cried. And I’m not a pretty crier. It was heaping, drooling, snotty sobs of tears. 

Then I got up, dusted myself off, and continued to cry for the next 12 hours. Actually, since I’m still crying now it will be much longer I’m sure.

But, somewhere in that heaping, ugly mess came surrender. I felt it happen. I just gave it all up. 

Once I got to the point where I was beyond trying to force myself into a place that was not authentic for me it just happened. Right now in this moment in time, surrender for me is curled up in the fetal position crying my eyes out. And that’s ok. Because it’s real. 

Surrender meant acknowledging what is happening, having my authentic response to it and being ok with it. Knowing that what happens is beyond my control. That it’s not my job to reach for a specific outcome. Right now it’s my job to surrender, to cry, to feel, to relax and let be

Happiness moment today was sitting with dad in a sunbeam while giving him a big hug. Yes, I cried for most of it. But whatever. It was still a moment of true love and that means happiness. 

Standard
Uncategorized

Don’t worry, it’s only anxiety 

The other night I was sitting in urgent care dealing with things I know absolutely nothing about. But since we were there for hours and there’s really no privacy with just those curtains I had ample opportunity to listen in on the complaints of the woman in the bed next to us. 

As soon as I heard her listing her symptoms I thought I know what her issue is. She was in convinced she was having a heart attack or something similar. Chest pain, dizziness, shaking, feeling off, difficulty focusing mentally. As she was listing these symptoms I remembered a time where I too sat alone in urgent care convinced I was dying. 

It’s a terrible feeling. 

Panic attack. 

The nurse gave her some ideas of how to deal. Cut back to one cup of coffee or tea a day. Herbal tea is fine. She asked about green tea and was told that was fine too. That was when I wanted to leap through the curtain and talk to her. Because green tea is not herbal and that caffeine is enough to trigger more anxiety.  She finished with and lose 5-10 pounds   That will help with your high blood pressure. Which, while that may be true isn’t what you need to hear while in the middle of a panic attack. 

When I started studying Ayurveda I was one hot mess of anxiety. It wasn’t pretty and I was barely able to function. Over the past couple of years I have turned into a better version of myself (Melissa 2.0) and have been able to handle things I never thought possible. 

Here’s what I would like to have said to that poor lady. 

Sleep. Make sure you’re getting a good night’s sleep. Even if it means giving up doing other things you like to do. Get to bed by 9. Be asleep by 10. Sleep until at least 6    It’s when your body heals and restores itself. Honour this time. 

Nap. Napping isn’t generally recommended in Ayurveda, but there are certain circumstances when it is encouraged. When I was in the worst of my anxiety I was so run down I had no reserves left. I used to have a cup of tea every afternoon when I would crash. I switched that for a 20-30 minute nap during my healing phase. It was a game changer. 

Caffeine.  Give it up. Seriously. After a while you won’t miss it (as much). I really noticed how it triggered my anxiety. While you’re at it give up booze. It tricks you into feeling like it relaxes you when really it causes more anxiety. 

Get out in nature. My daily walks along the river in Roanoke literally saved my life. It was a peaceful, quiet time with no distractions. I went electronic free and just relaxed into enjoying the water, the birds, and my dog. 

Be picky about what you put in your brain   I used to love watching Law and Order and other crime shows. About 4 years ago I started being much more careful about the types of shows I watched and the types of books I read. While in anxious mode it was much, much better to be putting happy thoughts into my head. Hence my current obsession with The Golden Girls. 

Clear the toxic people out of your life. I know, easier said than done. But sometimes there are people who seem to feed off your anxiety. Who seem to feel a stronger sense of power when you are anxious and insecure. There are people who are carrying so much of their own baggage they are happy to dump their negativity on you. People with no boundaries who would rather bring you down than lift you up. Be a good friend, surround yourself with good friends. 

Find your bliss. Easy right? Maybe for some people. I’m 44 and still wonder what I’ll be when I grow up. But a few years ago I read a book by Steven Cope (from Kriplau) called The Great Work Of Your Life   It started me on the path of actively finding my bliss. I find it in my Ayurvedic studies, in my yoga, in my writing, in my time with my kids. It hasn’t made me a millionaire yet, but I’m sure a lot happier following my heart. 

Listen to your intuition. How many times in life I’ve done things that go against what I believe is right to try and make someone else happy. In the end, without fail, it not only makes me miserable – but the person I’m trying to please is never satisfied either. 

Breathe. Seriously. Just stop and breathe. But the best method I’ve found for an instant anxiety cure is alternate nostril breathing. Use your thumb and ring finger to cover each nostril. Release the thumb, breathe in, cover nostril again. Release the ring finger, breathe out. Breathe in on the same side, cover nostril. Keep alternating. Do it for a few minutes or until you feel calmer. I’ve done it for a good 20 minutes before. It’s very relaxing. 

Have faith that you are worth it. My pastor continuously says you are a loved child of God. No matter what your beliefs understand that you have value and you are ok just the way you are. 

Happiness moment of the day: hiding in the corner of the grocery store with the kids pretending to look at cake and giggling while downloading and updating our mobile devices. This is what happens when you finish shopping before updating. Life without wifi makes one resourceful.

Standard
Uncategorized

An Ayurvedic Consultation

Nourish, Vitality, Excitement, Desire

Those are my new life-loving words.

Today I had an Ayurvedic consultation with Asrael from Ananda Ayurveda. She’s the same lady who teaches my Healing Light Yoga Therapy classes and it has been so uplifting for my soul to have had her come into my life.

~ As a side note, as soon as I got on my Google Hangout chat with her my cat Ella came running from the other side of the house to stick her head in the computer and see “the yoga lady”. Ella spends a lot of time hanging out with me during classes and I guess was excited to see what was going to happen today.~

It was amazing. I wish I’d done this sooner, but I’m thankful I did it now. It was good to know that a lot of the things I’ve been feeling about what’s going on with me were in fact steps in the right direction. To find out that what I’m learning and trying to apply is actually working was pretty heart warming.

Of course there is a lot I don’t know and so to have her start to fill in some of the blank spaces fills me with gratitude. It was so wonderful to have someone sit down and walk through where I’m at and how I’m doing physically, spiritually, and energetically. To have someone hold my hand and help guide me down the path that I feel like I’ve been walking blindfolded and trying to peek out the corners feels like a weight being lifted off my shoulders (and my lower back and hips).

I now have better ideas on how to ground and nourish my self. How to regain my center of balance and power up that strength.

Interestingly, one of the things she suggested I do is to start Morning Pages which I did years ago after going to a course led by Julia Cameron at Kripalu. I did them faithfully for about 2 years, when I loved doing them and when I hated doing them. Then as I really got into those dark night of the soul times I quit doing them because they made me angry and upset. Ironically had I kept doing them I probably could have worked a lot of that junk out because that is the point of having all those feelings in morning pages. But, I couldn’t deal with that then. So now here I am…. back to Morning Pages. Great…. (it is great. It will be a good thing, it just won’t always feel like a good thing)

That was my happiness moment. I highly recommend doing it if you are able. It’s a wonderful way to be able to discover more healthful ways to live life. And think…. soon I will be able to give guidance similar to this to other people! It’s life-changing!

My other, naughtier, yummier, less Ayurvedic happiness moment came later when we went out for supper and I had this big old piece of chocolate cake for dessert. Oh, yummmmmm!!!!

Standard
Uncategorized

Living with an open heart

Life with an open heart is life truly lived. I remember when I used to live with my heart completely open. Wore it on my sleeve you could say. When things hurt, they really hurt – but oh, when things were good they were amazing because I was able to breathe fully in that wonderful feeling with my heart open.

Things happened, and I made a conscious decision to try and close off parts of my heart (didn’t really work because it was still screaming at me, but I tried to ignore it). Then a few more things happened and I worked harder at blocking off more parts.

The problem with blocking off your heart so that you aren’t hurt by things is that it also means that you can’t experience all the joy and love and blissful happiness that exists through living. It kind of turns you into a shell. Like Pinocchio, not a real person.

Thank God for my animals and my children because they all live life with hearts fully open. They have guided me back towards a life of a full and open heart. I watch them and interact with them, and they are just so there. When things are good they’re fantastic, when things suck, they’re terrible. But, because their hearts are open, when things suck they also get over them quickly. The great thing about an open heart is that you can’t hold onto grudges and anger and resentment. You just move on into the next present moment. And trustingly breathe in love.

A few years ago I went to a workshop at Kripalu called Opening The Heart which was really difficult and also really fantastic. I’m not sure I really knew what I was getting into when I got there -which was a good thing because it was something I desperately needed but probably would have shied away from had I known how intense it was going to be. What I do remember from it is that the vice like grip that used to live around my chest lifted because I let some stuff go. Opened my heart a bit you might say.

I hope my children never have to go somewhere and learn how to open their hearts because right now their hearts are so beautifully and wonderfully open. I would be sad if something happened to their beautiful souls that lead them to a place where they decided to close up. They live so fully and purely and beautifully. It inspires me to take the chances to open up.

Because of course with opening there is always the chance of getting hurt. But, I think when you live open and freely and with love the fear of getting hurt is so much less because you are also reaping the rewards.

This morning I was reading my emails and my parents forwarded to me a tribute to Mrs. Mackay who recently passed away. The tribute was written by her daughter Robyn and while the entire thing was eye-leakingly touching this part really hit home for me given my intentions on living life with a free, loving, open heart:

Love, is one of the forces in life that leads all of us directly into suffering, 

because we will ultimately lose every person and everything that we love.  

After dad died,  MOM is the one who taught me to be fearless enough to love anyway,  

without conditions, and take the great risk that loving HER, would  break my heart.

That is exactly it! To be fearless enough to love anyway. What a gift to give someone. That is exactly what we all need to do. Because everyone we know eventually will die, nothing lasts forever. But to be fearless enough to love anyway, without conditions – that is kind of the point of life. Why else are we here if not to love fully and completely?

So, today on my 9th day of my 44 days of happiness – I am happy that I am learning to live life with an open heart again. And I am happy and so blessed that I have such wonderful teachers showing me how blissfully easy that is.

IMG_2910

Standard
Uncategorized

Music for the spirit

I have always been a very musical person. To clarify, that means I’ve always been moved right to the core of my soul by music. Not that *I* can create that music. I love singing but the only one who likes listening to me sing is the dog (not the cat). The most entertainment my singing has ever brought me is watching the looks of mortification on the faces of my children while I sing and dance around the kitchen singing loudly to some 80s song. It actually brings me a lot more enjoyment than it should, doing that.

This morning I was driving to my walk after dropping the kids off when I started watching the lady at the red light across the intersection from me. She was maybe in her early 30s and was all dressed up so I assume she was going to work. Usually I pass people on their way to work and they already look so exhausted and unhappy. I often think what a miserable way to start the day off, big frown of stress, coffee in one hand, cigarette in the other, cell phone going (yes, I’m aware that that’s more hands than we have – you should see the drivers here, it’s insane). But back to this lady. I don’t know what she was listening to but oh man she must have loved it. She was full on car dancing. Hands waving up in the air, head flinging around, mouth singing. She was having a blast. She had an advance green while I was still waiting and I smiled as I watched her happily sing her way through the intersection. I don’t know where she was going or what is happening in her life – but for that moment in time she was radiating happiness. I was having kind of a groggy morning and she lifted me out of my fog and put a big smile on my face that I carried through my cold morning walk.

The power of music.

Music has always been able to enhance my moods. When I need to get myself up and moving, I have a song for that. When I’m feeling melancholy, I have a song for that. When I’m homesick, I have a song for that (Alberta Bound by Paul Brandt – I just had to stop and watch that 3 times – now I really am homesick. That is where my soul lives while the rest of me is stuck elsewhere). When I’m happy I, I have a song for that. Songs bring back memories of good times – every time I hear Billy Idol I see my badass little pony Pirate bouncing his head along to White Wedding.

A few years ago I was lucky enough to go to a JourneyDance at Kripalu which was probably the first time I spent 3 whole days dancing – in public – to the rhythm of my soul. I remember Toni Bergins saying something to the effect that she didn’t need therapy as long as she could dance. Very true. I loved it – and I’m not really one usually to be shaking my moves in public. I could tell things were going the wrong direction for me when I was back a couple of years later and couldn’t do the lunch time dance because I could feel there was so much sadness in my body and I couldn’t stop and deal with it then. I’m dancing again now though!

Every morning the kids and I listen to Deva Premal  on Pandora. Every once in a while the ipad is missing or I forget to turn it on and always the kids say “mom, don’t forget to turn on your yoga music. It makes me feel so relaxed and ready for the day.” The morning whining and fighting has all but disappeared since we started listening to her to begin our day.

I was first introduced to her music 8 years ago in Quebec at my first yoga class. The Gayatri Mantra affected me in a way that no other piece of music ever has. Without being able to understand a single word of it, it reached right into the core of my soul and shone some light. It made me feel safe, happy, warm, relaxed and at peace.

GAYATRI MANTRA (from Deva Premal’s website)

Om bhur bhuvaha svaha

Tat savitur varenyam

Bhargo devasya dhimahi

Dhiyo yonah prachodayat

Translation:

Praise to the source of
all things.

It is due to you that we attain

true happiness on the planes
of earth, astral, causal.
It is due to your transcendent
nature that you are worthy of
being worshipped and adored.
Ignite us with your all
pervading light

I listen to that song at least once – and often many more times – a day. It lightens my soul and makes me a happier person. Day 3 of my 44 days of happiness was brought to me by that lady car dancing at the light. I’m thankful she gave me the opportunity to reflect on what joy music brings to my life.

Standard