GROWING UP: GUEST BLOGGER MARA CAMPBELL
OCTOBER 7, 2009: COURTESY OF GUEST BLOGGER MARA CAMPBELL. THIS WILL BE HER THEME FOR WEDNESDAY'S CLASSES. She writes, "Many of my friends and I are turning 40 soon and I am thinking a lot about what it means to "grow up." Not in the sense that I need to get my haircut, use reading glasses and wear sensible shoes. And I don't mean becoming ultra serious about everything and loosing the fun and innocence of life. But what I mean is a spiritual growing up. Growing up to feel more at home with myself and knowing I am bringing my very best self to my friends, family and the world as much as I can.
Lately, it seems the energy of people I know is low as the weather has turned cool and rainy. You can literally feel the heaviness in folks. I feel it too in my body and more importantly in my heart. My usual mode is to over analyze by trying to figure out the why I feel the way I do or trying to "process" my feelings. My mind wants to figure it out, make a plan to fix it and oh, maybe get a book on it!
But lately, I've had a new idea. Maybe what I need is to light my own fire both in my body and my heart with more action and less thoughts. For my body, it means yoga. It means getting out the mat and the meditation cushion even when I don't want to. And for lighting my heart...well it means I need to love even when I don't want to. I need to look at my dog, my spouse or my children and tap into the love I have for them and they have for me and remember how good this feels.
Rolf Gates says, "The aim of spiritual practice is to deliberately cultivate insight and to instill in ourselves the strength we need for courageous action. Dhyana is the place where action and insight become one." Dhyana is one of the 8 limbs of yoga and is typically translated as meditation or stillness. It is from this centered place where we begin to see ourselves a little more clearly, recognizing our childlike patterns (not judging them or beating ourselves up for them!) and begin to make decisions for our own spiritual growth. We all need to be our own good mommies and daddies....only you know what you need best and what will truly feed you and your own spiritual growth.
So please join me this week as I will lead you in a heart meditation to help us all tap into our hearts and the love that is all around us. I promise you it is there. Sometimes we just need to get ourselves and our over zealous minds out of the way. When we know what we have to do for ourselves, our families, and our world, and we do it, even if it is not convenient or easy,....well that for me is growing up. And the funny thing is....I feel lighter when I act from this place....more like a child!"
CYCLES OF LIFE BY GUEST BLOGGER MARA CAMPBELL
The thing that inspires me about this succession of life is that it never ends. After every ending, there is a new beginning. For instance, when a bone breaks, some of the cells will die but the bone will quickly start regenerating and will actually seek out similar cells to mend. Then the place where it was broken but has come together now becomes the strongest part of the bone! It is the death, that allows the rebirth of a stronger, transformed body. Another example is the prairie, where the burning of fire is necessary to release the seeds that are captured in strong shells.
Shiva, the destroyer is celebrated in Hindu mythology as much as Bhrama, the creator, or Vishnu, the sustainer, since they are connected in a constant loop of life and death and rebirth. A study on longevity found a common thread among those who live long is their ability to endure loss. This shows me it is not the losses that define us but rather how quickly we recover our emotional equilibrium after difficulties and allow the healing cycle to take place.
The inspiration for me comes when we remember this succession of life as we live our yoga. When we are in a challenging situation in life, do we cling to the drama, rehashing it over and over, staying stuck in past and future? We can actually get in the way of nature's cycle by not loosening our grip on our difficulties. I know I do this as I over analyze my life, trying to figure out my next steps or trying to understand the why things happened the way they did. Yet, the gift of the present moment is constantly moving, with or without my connection with it.
So we practice this on the mat; we present each other with challenges to learn about ourselves and practice the art of staying calm, centered and connected to the present moment. Our breath is there to help us on this journey and we practiced 4-part breath. We moved in circles to remind the brain that life is not a linear race but rather a series of cycles that expand and contract as we live our days.
As Rolf Gates states, We wake up, we are stiff, we are fatigued, our minds wander, we come to the mat, we forget, we loosen up, we relax, we have energy, we remember, we live, we sleep, we wake up, we are stiff, etc.
I hope to see you soon on the mat where we will continue to connect with our unique current moments within the cycles of life. Much peace, Mara
WE ALL SERVE AS EXAMPLES AND WARNINGS TO ONE ANOTHER
Today’s Guest Blogger is Lucy Klaczko
During a recent workshop Rolf Gates expressed how we all serve as examples and warnings to one another. How true this is! I am currently reflecting on my life and decided to do this by going to the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY.
I quickly discovered the beauty of the Eastern part of the US! I never knew it was that incredible! Driving through the Hudson Valley I felt like I had a blanket over me with all the trees. I loved getting away and meeting some really remarkable women—whom I consider my examples and warnings!
I would like to share a few stories with you.
One woman I met was attending a conference to help her cope with the fact that her husband walked out on her and two daughters after 22 years of marriage. Apparently he decided that he wanted to bike across the U.S. on a motorcycle and blog about his experience. His friends do not know that he actually left his wife! As she shared a bit more of her story, I began to see similarities between her situation early in her marriage and the struggles that I’m currently facing. I recalled Rolf’s words about us all being warnings and examples! How true!
Another woman I met had a very similar upbringing to mine. She is a first generation American and when we started comparing our lives, we were both amazed at how many parallels we shared. She comes from an Italian family, while I am Polish, yet there were so many of the same expectations and fears placed on us as kids in terms of how we must live and how life works. She's also trying to find her creative voice and to figure out what direction her life must take now that her children are a little bit older and she has some more time to focus on herself.
The third woman I met is living a life that is a reflection of who she is and wants to become. She too has some of her own struggles, but I was impressed by her dedication to live the life that she loves. She is an artist with a home studio in the Hudson Valley where she crafts fine jewelry and sells it through a gallery in NYC. In addition, she also teaches in NYC and shares her knowledge and passion with her students.
It's amazing that I met these three women -- like the Universe is trying to tell me something or at least show me the various avenues that are open to me!
After these few days away, I can't say that I have all of the answers. I'm really just beginning. One thing I know is that I need to carve out time for myself each week to concentrate on introspection. It's so easy to get back into the grind of daily life and have it take over. I know it's not going to be easy, and I may hurt some people who I care about and love very much, but I’m starting to see that I need to live my life in a way that meets and exceeds my expectations. In doing so, I hope that someday the way that I have lived my life can be an example to someone, rather than a warning.
Sending love and happiness!