Monday, April 29, 2013


Last week I themed my classes on Change.

It's an interesting thing, really, how we respond to change.  Some of us are paralyzed by the concept of change while others readily accept it.  I would argue, though, that change is hard for us all, even when we logically know it's for the best.

Sometimes, we create, or life presents us with, issues and challenges that require us to adapt.  Other times, we find ourselves droning on in unfulfilling or untenable situations, and we must initiate the change on our own.  Albert Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  We recognize the accuracy of this statement, yet we often have difficulty beginning something new.

I believe that the only thing over which we have absolute control is how we respond to that which we can not control.  The essence of life is that it is a natural, spontaneous flow of changes.  Change will, invariably and inevitably, occur.  Our goal, then, should be to acknowledge change, surrender to it, manage our reactivity to it, and move through it, ever onward, with gratitude for lessons learned from past experiences, as well as for the new opportunities that lie ahead.

Marilyn Monroe once said, "Sometimes good things fall apart so that better things can fall together."  I tend to believe that our lives don't improve by chance, but, rather, by choice and by change.  The hand we are dealt in life is, indeed, largely determined by things beyond our control.  However, we can play that hand strategically in order to stay in the game and, ultimately, win.

May you embrace the changes that present themselves to you today and may they provide you with a more beautiful tomorrow.  After all, "what the caterpillar calls the end, the rest of the world calls a butterfly."  ~ Lao Tzu.

Changes Playlist

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Peace, Love, Freedom, Boots & Yoga

It started with a pair of boots.   A pair of outrageously expensive boots.  OK, well they weren't really outrageously expensive, but at that time, in that moment, the cost was something I couldn't rationalize or justify.  It was just one month before I would venture out into the world alone for the first time in almost twenty years, and I was suddenly very aware of every penny I was spending.

Perhaps it didn't really start with the boots.  Perhaps it started long before the boots, on a night, just one week shy of my 40th birthday, when my world was shattered into a million little pieces.  On a night when I realized everything I thought I knew, everything in which I believed, everywhere I thought I was going, was simply an illusion.  I didn't know which piece to pick up first or how to pick it up without its jagged edges reminding me, in a painful wash of crimson, how fragile life really is.

Ultimately, I realized that there was not enough super glue and duct tape in the entire universe to put my world back together again, and the decision was made that I would set out on a new path.

Along came these boots.

These boots, so clearly made for walking.  These boots that somehow screamed peace, love, freedom and hope to me.  I resisted the urge to buy them immediately, yet my mind kept wandering back to them.  Eventually, I splurged.

Not long after the boots came home, I began my 200-hour yoga teacher training.  It was a journey begun in the most painful time in my life.  I questioned the timing, I questioned my ability to focus.  In fact, I questioned everything about myself.  My gut told me I needed to do it, and I tried desperately to ignore it.  Upon hearing me say "I don't think it's the right time..." my teacher confidently responded, "This is exactly the right time."

And it was.

One of the first exercises we did was a meditation during which we were asked to think of a symbol that we drew immediately afterward.  Though I really hadn't been thinking of the boots while meditating, the image that came to me was that of the winged heart, and the words peace, love and freedom were circling in my mind.  I sketched this.

Later that evening, we discussed the extremes of pain/hate/aversion and pleasure/craving.  According to our studies, along that continuum, there is a middle ground wherein lies "peace, love, freedom and yoga".  It was a powerful moment for me.  A moment in which I was reminded that succumbing to the pull of the intuitive mind creates freedom and space for us, but that we often look so long and hard at the past, at the coulda, shoulda, wouldas, or at the desire to have something more, different, better, that we deny ourselves the ability to be present and to simply follow our hearts... our winged, peaceful hearts.

Although I did not know then that Metta Yoga would eventually be born, I did know, with great certainty, that I wanted my life to center around peace, love, freedom and, of course, yoga.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Metta Begins with Me

Metta means loving kindness.

Most of us would agree, I believe, that the practice of metta... extending loving kindness, goodwill, benevolence... is a beautiful guide for how we should treat other beings.  We cultivate metta not only with our loved ones and friends, but also with teachers, strangers, those with whom we have conflict,  and, ultimately, all sentient beings.  However, a key element that might get lost in translation is that metta does, indeed, begin with "me".

In order to cultivate metta, one must first treat oneself with loving kindness.  This is, perhaps, the most difficult form of love for many of us to extend, and even more difficult, sometimes, to receive.  What makes this so?  We are worthy of our own love, yet often we are our own worst critics, we have difficulty getting out of our own way, and we focus on our disappointments rather than our triumphs.  In order to truly cultivate metta, we must recognize and accept who we are at our cores, for it is impossible to love others if we can not love ourselves.

So as we begin this Metta Yoga journey, be authentic.  Be present.  Be forgiving.  Be loving.  Be kind. Be encouraging.  Above all, be aware that by loving yourself enough to let your own light shine brightly you support those around you in their efforts to shine, too.