A Heroine's Tale

I’m Deg Ajeet Kaur - sacred Princess/Lioness of God who overcomes every obstacle by embodying graciousness, hospitality and kindness in the world.  Sounds like an exciting adventure novel – a novel I would like to read.  Oh, it’s me?  I’m the heroine of this story? Um.  Can’t my novel be a Rom Com?

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We can’t choose our story from the shelf – it’s handed to us – it’s assigned reading. The heroine theme guides me, though, as I turn the pages, using my daily practice for foundation.  My name, my sadhana and a healthy lifestyle give me strength.  While it’s not an easy read, it’s a challenge I can rise to through repetition and taking it slow.  The discipline is the adventure – an adventure that goes in, up and out.   

I’m learning to see, read and digest the words of my life as they are presented to me.  I used to only read the words that were easy to understand.  If I didn’t like a prose and found it too difficult or painful, I skimmed it or jumped to the next paragraph.  Conversely, if I read a paragraph before I was ready, my mind would take care of me by forgetting the content.  I used to think some of my chapters were punishment -- that I did something to deserve them. I found it hard to accept plot lines and pages from long ago.   But it’s getting easier.  The dark parts, the hard spots and the rough edges are themes in my novel.  A story.  And we all have one. 

With reflection a subplot is revealed.  Maybe it was forgotten – or perhaps never remembered – but its impact is the subtext of subsequent story-lines.  Like a book sitting on a shelf for years – it was always there. And then one day, seemingly randomly, it was noticed and pulled off the shelf.  Something about it piqued curiosity that particular day in that particular moment.  The book is opened with trepidation and bravery.  Curled up in the corner, the book is read until it’s completed and then a wondering of why it was never noticed on the shelf – even though it was there since long ago – it was always there.  It sat patiently, waiting to be picked up when the time was right to answer questions that hadn’t been asked yet.  Questions that couldn’t be asked until now.  We all have our bookshelf.  Some of the books have been read many times – the pages curled and stained from repeated review.  Some are unopened, standing tall with a stiff spine – waiting to be cracked open for the first time.

This year, my reading assignments were a slow, deliberate read.   The content was difficult but I was ready to take on the text.  It demanded to be read again and again until the lesson was digested.  I read the same words day after day, month after month and even when I knew in my mind that it was time to move to the next chapter, and it felt like the whole world knew it too and I could recite the passages from memory, my heart wasn’t ready and I found myself back at the introduction again with the same questions and the same confusion and the same need for understanding, review and reassurance.  The words almost became like a mantra that had to be repeated and processed, reverberated through my cells to fully embody its content.  The repetition felt maddeningly slow and I didn’t know how many times I would have to read it to be finished.  Or other times, I’d read a few sentences, feel very fatigued, put down the book and move onto an easier chapter, until I felt fortified for the tougher read.  And then one day, it all came together. The confusing plot lines connected in a way that was understood and clear.  The lesson landed firmly in my body.  I was ready to complete the reading, like a final review before the test.  The test of life. The test of action. To finally let it go. To release it and move forward for the next plot line. It’s a relief.  It took a long arduous time to process, accept, release and let go of the theme. 

That’s when I coach myself in the third person.  When I’m ready to embody the lesson and feel really close to getting there, I ask my wise, inner self to guide me.  To remind me, empower me, believe in me.  My inner voice helps me stand taller, reach higher, breathe deeper, trust more, and feel my sturdiness.  The wise voice breaks through my need to re-read the chapter – and assures me that I don’t need to read it anymore.  I am ready to not only understand the lesson, but to be the lesson.  The lesson is made physical in my footsteps, my voice, in my action and in my aura. The difficult passages add to a wondrous story – rich in character.  The narrative makes me humble, compassionate, knowing, seeing, forgiving and deeply loving.

I face my path without the crutches I used to rely on. Breathing life in, as it is – daring to see and feel what is happening – and not through a watered-down version to match what I think I can handle – takes discipline.  Reading each paragraph in front of me – and not skipping sentences -- is a disciplined practice. I can read slowly, with intention and take rests as needed.  I feel the emotions that the words evoke.  I cry, rest, dig in my garden, laugh with my friends, study, love my children and practice sadhana with my elderly cat, Nico, who is near the end of his life.  With practice, I can absorb life’s content real-time, detach and let it flow and spend less time looking back to do re reads.  I’m thinking that my next difficult reading assignment will be a little easier on me – because that’s part of my lesson.  To trust.

I can revisit each one of the most painful moments in my life and find the offering in the artifacts.  We all can – when the time is right.  I examine the words in those challenging chapters and pick up the crystal, the sea glass, the flower or the scent in each one.  I wear it on a string around my neck, I feel it in the palm of my hand, I plant it in my garden, dab some on my wrists and breathe in its exotic essence.  The essence of everything being as it should be. The aroma of relaxed power.

At a point in my life, I thought I knew the next chapter – and I had some idea of the ending too.  All the threads tied up together into a pretty multi colored ribbon, free of break ups, climate change, inequality and epic surprises. There are books on the shelf that will be opened at the perfect moment.  I’ll maintain the practice.  Be in nature.  Breathe with my heart.  Trust my knowing and dare to see and feel what is in front of me.

I’m the heroine. It’s my story.  It’s intended to be as it is. 

 

The theme for my June blog assignment from the 3HO blog (Association for Kundalini Yoga) is “Karma vs Dharma: Choose Your Path.”  

“Rather than see­ing karma as a punishment, one can view it as the gateway into the human experience through which we can shift into dharma. It is said that even the angels envy this opportunity for incarnation.”
-The Level 1 Aquarian Teacher Training Manual 

“When karmas remain, so do you. Karma has to become dharma. Dharma is where the account is cleared. It is where your discipline and commitments make you positive and graceful. Then you break out of your cocoon and become a leader, elevate all, and leave a legacy. That ability to turn negative into positive, to support all your actions with your facets and manners is the result of meditation. It comes with the refined mind. It is what develops through sadhana (pre dawn practice), aradhana (glorifying spirit); through jappa (meditative, repetitive mantra) and discipline.”
-Yogi Bhajan, The Level 1 Aquarian Teacher Training Manual 

“The Cosmos works for those who have discipline, who have longing, who have some goal to reach in their lives, and who make a constant, constant, constant effort to reach it. That is dharma. Dharma is in every day, in every action, on every side of the day.” 
2/9/03

 

 

 

Connecting the Dots with Vibration

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A lot of my kundalini life is solo—doing my thing pre-dawn, my cat Nico and me. I peer out the window during mantra: “What color is the world out there today?” It looks whitish gray with a tinge of blue or green or lavender, slowly waking up outside. I heard a new bird song this morning when it was still dark. It had a long clear tone. A long, clear singular tone. It made its way to me, to my sadhana, in my little room, with Nico, my cat. My soul peers out and observes the world waking up to spring and receives the bird song.

This predawn discipline is for me, even if I’m traveling or with family. It’s my primary commitment to myself, every day. No matter what’s going on or where I am or how late I stay up, it happens. It’s as sure as the tide. I can’t miss just one day. So I retire early if I can. I pass on evening festivities. But I often return home exhausted, with not enough sleep.

Reading a blog on 3HO, I digest thoughts that are familiar and resonating. It brings tears of comfort to my eyes. I’m not the only one on a journey—a journey to I don’t know where—inward, outward, in, up and out. When I teach yoga and chant with others, it’s different than when I’m alone. The energy is stronger and fills the space. I observe those joining in and see how open they are to trying something different, leaving their comfort zone. When we get the giggles after an intense mantra with challenging mudras, I love that. And I love hearing how it made them feel and what they experienced.

A kundalini community helps me feel less alone in the adventure. My heart, my soul keep me moving through the unknown. With darkness inside me and pain still finding its way out, I end the sadhana lighter and at peace. And today, as I chanted Guru Ram Das Chant, the outside hue was pale yellow, because the creamy blossoms on a dogwood tree were just opening up.

I know others are doing the same across our beautiful planet. It’s something that connects us—dots on a globe connected by vibration. We may look different, we may feel differently, we are in different landscapes and seasons.  Some are alone, some with others. Some are in a good place, others feel numb, scared or sad and are struggling through life changes.

On business trips, in airports, with kids running around, at work or at home, sadhana is the consistent thread. The energy swirls, shifts and releases out the window. And we accept life, however it is today. We chant, wherever we are and connect in vibration—naad. A flowing current that lifts, heals and elevates our voices.

I like to imagine that—little dots or stars spread across the globe, connected by vibration. All at peace together, having done bow poses, cat cows, ego eradicators and shoulder shrugs, and chanted to the stars and the changing hues at dawn. And we join a bird song, together.

At the end, feeling peaceful within, I imagine equality for all and love for all living creatures and pray for protection of our earth mother. I send out prayers for my children, anyone sick or struggling. I pray for dolphins, whales and sea turtles. For rocks, trees and dirt. And for my sacred path. I ask what I can do for the planet in this lifetime, what I can do for others. I ask for any messages for the day and support in taking my next steps

With the final tone, with an exhale and hands at heart center, I give and receive peace—in community. Heal ourselves, heal the world. Sat Nam.

Note: My assignment for blogging for 3HO (kundalini blog at www.3ho.org) was  “From Isolation to Connection & Community.”

 “Sometimes each person's load can only be taken collectively. Collectively we can pull the weight. We have a collective strength in us, hand in hand, in friendship, in the love, and in the affection. Do not keep things to yourself and say, ‘I cannot.’ There is nothing you cannot do.”
Yogi Bhajan 10/5/01
 

Isolation can be by choice or by circumstance. If you are the only Kundalini Yogi in your town or state or country, you may feel isolated from your spiritual community. The good news is that through the mindful use of social media, you can be connected and feel part of a family of like-minded souls. And attending the occasional Solstice, White Tantric Yoga® course, or other yogic event builds connection and community, even if you are the only Kundalini yogi living in your area. 

Some may choose isolation from social interactions, even while living in an inspiring spiritual community. But humans are hardwired to interact with others. When we are socially isolated, we lack emotional support, friendship, and a sense of belonging and connection. And all kinds of opportunities may pass us by because we aren’t reaching out.

“By isolation, you block all the opportunities, all the wealth, all the happiness and everything which should come to you and belong to you. You put your shields up and nothing can enter. If you are open, wide, honest, giving, receiving, smiling, and kind, even God can walk into you. 
-Yogi Bhajan 7/19/94

Part Time Warrior

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This warrior’s armor is an aura.

With roots coming out of its feet.

Flowers and leaves in its hair.

A song floating from its lips.

There’s a readiness.

Daring to feel it all.  Take it on.

3:50 alarm and then a cold shower.

No matter how tired, questioning or confused.

A daily spring cleaning – sweeping out the dust.

Making space for peace, love, serenity and power.

 The protective coating slowly flakes off.

Revealing and then releasing whatever is stuck – from way back in the corners – like dust bunnies under a dresser.

Little by little they’re swept out the door.

But they aren’t all dust bunnies.

Some are heavier than that.

And a big heavy chunk can be released -- all at once.  It can surprise.  Thud, like a rock to a dirt road.

It goes to the red earth and is beautiful sitting there. 

Part of the landscape.  An artifact – solid, wise and old.

 

Some days, the warrior stumbles and can still skin a knee.

When there is a trigger – an old hurt somehow creeps back in.

It settles in for a moment.

With an urge to fall back.

But instead of falling – instead of scolding or running away – or getting mad at oneself

The warrior sits down with intention and lets the tears flow – like a cleanse – like warm waves washing over.

Without fear, knowing it’s temporary – it’s okay.

Rest. Sleep. Say a prayer. Go slow. Be quiet.

Stroke the warrior’s head. Cradle its face and smile into its eyes.

 

There’s a strength, looking humbly within.

Wanting to be better.

Daring to see the parts not needed anymore.

Giving thanks for their protection.

Saying goodbye and seeing them to the door.

 

The warrior breathes in strength from the earth.

And let’s go of the debris.

Starts the day with gratitude and sets positive intention.

 

The part time warrior –

This warrior’s armor is an aura.

With roots coming out of its feet.

Flowers and leaves in its hair.

And a song floating from its lips.

Note: My assignment for blogging for 3HO (kundalini blog) was “The Spiritual Warrior: Courage, Integrity and Grace.”

“These times are demanding that we  live as Spiritual Warriors—fearless, standing for truth, and lit from within by the radiance of the soul. The life of a spiritual warrior is a life of courage, compassion, strength and discipline. These qualities enable us to conquer our inner doubts and insecurities with steady determination and grace. In addition, as spiritual warriors we are called to stand up for the dignity and human rights of our neighbors, our communities, our nation and our planet.”

“As we are entering the Age of Aquarius, we have to become responsible, outspoken, leading teachers of this Age. That's what we have trained for and that's what we have grown into. You cannot live under a camouflage. You have to live openly, honestly, brightly, and forthrightly. Your words should be so strong that they affect every heart; your truth should be so pure that it lifts a person's soul to the heights.”
7/28/02 Yogi Bhajan

Beautiful Landing

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I was particularly tired during my morning sadhana.* I was in a dreamy state during my mantras. Instead of making my morning coffee like I usually do, I lay down on a day bed by the fire and fell into a sleep. I dreamed I was in a boat, up in the front, in the bow. It was a small boat that you might see in a lake, with people fishing - it’s not a large or powerful vessel - it’s nice. I don’t know who was driving the boat - I was looking ahead. We were going up the gentle current of a river but we had to get over a large vertical rise to the flatness above. And at the top of the vertical rise was a cement barrier going across the width of the river. It wasn’t a damn, it wasn’t high up, but it was creating a line between the vertical to the flat so I didn’t know how we would get over it. The cement barrier was just slightly above the top of the water, so the water was lapping. Sometimes the cement surface was under the water, sometimes just coming above. Whomever was driving the boat was skilled, as if they had done this before. They approached the barrier and seemed to know how to edge over it in the best spot. I witnessed it, from the front bow seat. I didn’t look back at the driver. I felt pretty confident that they knew what they were doing. They did get the bow of the boat up over the cement barrier but I didn’t know if we would make it. I used my hands to reach off the boat and try to hold onto the surface, the shallow water on the cement, holding on, to keep us from falling. I wasn’t panicking, but was trying to help. And then we fell back. As the boat fell in slow motion, I breathed. I was calm. The boat circled down with gravity in spirals, as if it was on an invisible circular slide. And I breathed. I prepared myself for making contact with the water - I was calm, i held my spine straight but ready to meet the surface below and give with the landing. We landed softly. We landed gently. It was okay. I was relieved. People came to us, commenting on our beautiful landing.

When I woke up, at first I reflected on the dream as an anxiety dream — trying to get somewhere and failing and falling back. But I don’t feel that way now.

It’s okay to fall. Just breathe.

* sadhana is a morning yoga practice. My practice starts at 4 am, before the sunrise.

Salty Rivulets

Tears release, streaming down branches and rocks, making puddles along the shore and salty rivulets.  Gravity pulls them down the beach, to the ocean, going around and over shards of broken glass, rocks, seaweed and shells.  They’ve been called home.  Ocean ancestors welcome the tears’ return.  

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Glass tumbles in the gentle, waves - a quiet rhythm.  They hurt, sting and are comforted by movement and repetition.  The predawn sadhana* is as predictable and dependable as the tide.   Movement and breathing release tears, storm, fog and thunder clouds.  By the end, dark turns to dawn, the view is serene, the ocean is flat and a tern makes its call. 

Walking the shore, eyes gaze down, inspecting artifacts offered from the last tide – seeking the perfect piece of sea glass -- brown, white, green and the rare blue.  No. Not ready yet.  Sharp edges remain.  Lay it back at rest on the earth. It’s too soon.  Give it time.  Sometimes it may appear ready, but a crack at the core, deep within is working its way out.  It’s not ready to be held in a hand - not ready to share its story. Trust it will be found on the right day, by a knowing hand, with a clear eye when the time is right.  Trust that day will come. But for now, let it rest.

Grandmother moon pulls the tide in and out.  Fog brings a quiet heaviness with no clear path in sight.  Salty tears continue their rhythmic flow.  There is no time in this space.  With acceptance of how things are – not how they should be or were with someone else or as it was in a movie or because someone said it should be done by now.  Without watching a tide, trying to perceive its shift.   Predawn, waves wash in the sadhana to the sandy shore.   A thunderous summer storm clears the fog and adds clarity.  A mantra provides flight to the stars – where it’s quiet, with respite from any turbulence below. A daily prayer offered to the heavens – for strength, for understanding, for peace.  Tide comes in.  Stretch and breathe.  Tide recedes - relax and let go.

Meanwhile, pick berries, watch the meadow grass move in the gentle wind.  Dangle legs on a dock edge, witnessing sun dancing with the water and its currents.  Look for a bird feather and ponder its beauty.  Focus on work, cook, write a poem, sing a song, pet a cat, sleep and feel.  And practice daily sadhana.

And then one day, the soft-edged sea glass lies open on the sand – usually when a walk is just a walk – and not a search for the perfect piece of sea glass.  Feel it in the palm of your hand and admire it.  Sharp edges are smoothed, tumbled in the sand, warmed by the sun, energized by the moon and bathed in the ocean of tears.   The quiet sea glass shares its wisdom, like a mantra –

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Salty tears cleanse – you are never alone

Everything is as it should be – trust the flow of life

Happiness is right next to you – spend time with yourself

Practice Seva - feel gratitude

Forgive and be forgiven

Life is an adventure, follow your bliss

Walk in beauty 

Hold the sea glass in your hand and listen to its wisdom when you need it. Or offer it to a child, a friend or place it in a pocket or in a special spot – or leave it right where it was found and let it slowly reveal its next layer for healing.  It holds strength. 

Letting things go is hard for me.  I look to the tide for comfort.  It knows what it’s doing.  It comes in and brings us gifts.  It goes out and takes things away.  In life, things come and they go.  Some things on the beach aren’t meant to be there for long.  In they come and out they go and it’s perfect.  Like a tide. Like a sadhana.  Like a breath. Like life.

I offer my tears to the salty rivulets. One day, my sea glass will be lavender, soft and perfect.  But for now, it’s resting its rough edges in fine sand, surrounded by mussel shells.  Water flows back and forth in a gentle rhythm, gurgling as sea weed sways.  The sun sends its healing energy through the water.  The moon watches over at night.  Currents wash over it like a gong bath.  There is a cadence to it, an earth dance; an acceptance of how things are right now.  A Great Blue heron stands still in observation and patience in the quiet light of dawn.    

"In love we honor. In love we grace people. In love we support. In love we sacrifice. In love we give. In love we elevate. In love we pray." Yogi Bhajan

*sadhana - a disciplined morning yoga and meditation practice.

Inside Out

I’m sitting here in my kitchen, feeling my home as an energy system.  It breathes with me.  It holds me.  It holds anyone who is invited to enter it.  26 Beston Street or Rosehip26 – that’s its name.

I asked my real estate friend to keep an eye out for me – in town – so Frances could walk to school.  It came fast – too soon really.  It was our home – no question.  Built in 1860 by Irish immigrants who came for a better life, on a quiet dead end street, in town.   With low ceilings, painted floors and a sagging front porch, it had its own story. It was loved.  I bought the fixer-upper in summer 2014, with big life changes underway.   Selling a house, buying a house, swinging loans and payments and lawyers, while working, being a mom and grieving the end of my life as I had known it – uncomfortable. I operated on instinct, from the gut.  Everything fell into place.  The earth came up to meet my bare foot with each step. 

I’ve lived here since January 2015, after a six month renovation.  Frances and I lived in someone else’s home during that time – a rental down the street – surrounded by their things, their pictures, their artifacts, their books on healing and contemplation.  I felt like I was supposed to read those books.  I saw them on the shelves but didn’t touch them.  I peeked into the meditation room, with butterflies and a walking stick, but didn’t meditate.  All our things were in storage.  It was a waiting period – like our lives were in suspension.  We couldn’t move from one life to the next without a period of pause – almost like a suspended inhale.   

During the renovation, the craftsmen discovered artifacts in the walls – two short canes, ice skate blades, a tiny book of the New Testament, a photograph of a gentleman, a glass half pint bottle.  History held in bones.  Held in cell structure.  Artifacts capturing an experience - An image.  Recreation.  A support.  Nourishment. Spiritual guidance.

I started doing Air BnB when Frances went to college, to help with expenses.  Initially, it was a sacrifice.  Renting a room off the kitchen, people entered our sacred space.  Two years later, I have increased clarity of who I am and who I am not and what my house is and what it is not.    Spirit travelers are meant to come here.  I have something to learn from them, to teach them or both.  Or the house can help them in some way.  I get a snapshot of someone’s life. Young love; found love again; recovering; long-distant travelers missing their family; healing; college visiting, re-visiting, studying, teaching; fans of Emily Dickinson, of changing leaves, marching band, theater, astronomy, art, homeopathy and weddings.  They like the fat cat, the wise cat and the cuddly cat very much. They feel the warmth and love in our home.  They sleep well.   

The house holds me.  As I heal, it absorbs and facilitates the energetic movement and release to the outside, where it diffuses with nature.  The house has its own chakras – its own spinning circles of energy – that mirror my own.  The house works with me to sort it all out, getting out of sync and then together again.  Like in waves, like reverberations.  In tune and then off tune and then in again.  Energy within energy.  A breath within a breath. As emotions and pains are shed, the movement becomes literal and shows itself in some way – The house takes on what I release and physically manifests it before it is released.   The house makes sure I catch the drift -- making sure the lesson is learned.  It’s showing me my progress as if it were cinema or a narrative.  This summer the house got infested with fleas.  It needed clearing out – a daily removal of dust, debris, fleas and their eggs.  It needed professional support.  All Air BnB reservations were cancelled.  No visitors.  It was gross.  It gave us the shivers.   An empty house that needed space clearing and focused attention.  No one wanted to be there. 

Pondering the house as a living organism with its energy system, we start with the root chakra – Muladhara – the base chakra. Its element is earth and color red. The foundation.  I go down to the basement and see the root chakra, smell the root chakra.  The floor is literally earth – a dirt floor.  There is a french drain and when water rises up from the earth, a pump flushes it outside into the neighboring wetland.  It’s wet down there and dark and scary.  When I made the house renovation photo album, I had a photo down the dark stairs with the caption “Never going down there.”  Haha – how untrue those words were.  “Down there” was exactly where I needed to go and I needed to spend some time down there – precisely because it was dark and wet and scary.  But when you walk back to shut off the hose for the winter or to bring up an old paint can, there really isn’t anything to be afraid of down there.  The old foundation is made of stones and brick.  It’s solid.   It’s earth.  This past month, each week I brought up one old can of dried-up paint – slowly moving what is no longer needed from the darkness below.  Clearing out the root cellar chakra a little bit at a time.  There are several cans still down there. They aren’t all empty. They aren’t ready to be discarded.   Chakra clearing was also physically manifested this summer, when buzzing yellow hornets built a nest by the outdoor shower in a crack in the foundation.  When the shower water naturally and peacefully ran into the crack, where the nest was, the hornets buzzed angrily and aggressively dove at anyone out there.  They went on attack.   I had the foundation cracks filled in so the angry hornets would move on to the flowers, the trees, the grasses and earth.  And they did.  Firming up the foundation helped them dissipate.  Free and on their way, without dive-bombing unsuspecting, innocent people.

The second chakra is the Sacral Chakra – Svadhisthana.  The element is water and the color orange.  This chakra is about sexuality and pleasure but also materialism and overindulgence.   Frances invited me to be vegan with her for a school project in this house, bonding over missing cheese and butter – and it stuck – going on three years.  Alcohol left two years ago.  Using food as medication has moved to food as meditation but will always be one of my harder edges.  I feel the emotional fluctuations.  Waters ebb and flow, the power of tides and their connection to the moon.   Darkness comes in, I retreat and rest and then return outside to the stars, our healing garden, for nourishment and strength, when the moon pulls me back out.   I’m a Pisces – a water person.  My photographs are shifting shapes of water, depending on time, tide and weather.   It represents power and depth, the subconscious. It changes right before our eyes.  I love swimming in water and in emotions.  As a child, I would dream that I could breathe underwater and explore its depths.  The houses’ physical manifestation appeared as dark, black spots of mold on the downstairs bathroom ceiling where the water vapor couldn’t escape.  It hung there, suspended in space, like a cloud or a fog.   They represented blockage, no movement and shallow breath.  The inhale of an exhaust fan and an open window did the trick, learning how to breathe deeply and regularly.   

The solar plexus chakra, navel center is Manipura – Fire.  The color is yellow.  I can hear my teacher’s voice - “Manipura!” He says it with enthusiasm – that’s the power of the navel center.  Manipura!  That’s where we get our conviction, our “keep up” spirit and drive.  This is the fire in the belly – passion.  The Manipura can link with the ego and impact the state of mind – anxiety, worry and fear. I’m careful to protect my energy field, hosting so many visitors and inviting energies into the home.  Smudging with sage frequently and clearing energy in the rooms calms my own nerves and helps move any lingering energy that the house doesn’t need and that we might confuse with our own.

Yellow, as it turns out relates to the mind.  It carries positive currents. I’ve pondered why different colors attract me at varying times in my life.  I’ve been drawn to yellow ever since starting the new chapter.  My friend helped me pick out the perfect yellow egg yolk color for the doors to our dark gray house.  It makes sense – the yellow doors – the entry way to our home.  Positive, happy, uplifting – for anyone invited to enter. 

Worrying at night when in bed has manifested as squirrels in the attic – imitating the chatter in my mind.  I hear a nut rolling around and a shuffling above me.  The house makes sure I have this literal experience as a reminder to be present.  To give thanks for what was and to let go.  To love, forgive and love again.  To allow the earth to rise up and meet my bare foot.  With reiki hands on the heart, a focus on the breath, the squirrels in the attic calm down, gather their nuts and go on their way, diffused in the trees where they belong. 

The kitchen is the Heart Chakra - Anahata – Air and green.  The heart – it has its own rhythm – its balance. Photographs of my kids, family, friends, homemade pottery, a view to the garden and avocado toast with hot pepper flakes.   It’s where we nourish and create.  The heart center combined with the manipura – navel center – is where we want to come from in life.  We have conviction and passion – and act from a place of love.  That’s the balance I seek.  That’s what’s in the kitchen.

I look up to the heavens, to the clouds, to the sky above for guidance. Clear communication is associated with the throat chakra - Vishuddha – Ether – Blue.   When it’s warm outside, the energetic vibration of a morning mantra chant is set free from my porch to the stars, the moon and the lavender dawn.  When it’s cold, the vibration is absorbed and bounced in the floors, walls, ceiling – it travels room to room and up the stairs. It explores.  It’s like sweeping and it vibrates to the outside and beyond.   While I find my voice in chanting, I’m learning to use my daily voice more gently.  Less energy, less power, less force.  Allowing quiet, allowing softness, sweet tones or no tones at all. 

The third eye is the Brow Chakra or Ajna.  The element is ether and the color is Indigo.  This is wisdom, intuition, a knowingness.  The Ajna has led me to great adventures like biking up Haleakala, creating our healing home, deciding on a whim to take Kundalini Yoga teacher training or to go to New Mexico for a month next year.  Decisions are made quickly and in retrospect, I can’t remember where the idea came from.  When the earth raised up to meet my step, finding the right contractor – that’s Ajna.  I told him I felt I could trust him and he told me that I could.  I let the garden develop organically.  I plant. I move things, create pathways with wild flowers, rocks and wood, without a plan.  The house spills out into the yard – it breathes out, into the surrounding neighborhood.  And connects with neighbors, like the new neighbors across the street, with a young girl, who reminds me how to play. 

The crown chakra or Sahasrara is violet and the opening to the infinite.  It’s a rainbow after a summer rain.  A late afternoon light.  A fox trotting down the street, at predawn hours, unaware that I’m awake too.  A fresh raspberry plucked from my garden.  The smell of mint.  Bare feet on soil. A dreamy state, just falling asleep or waking up, when angels are heard.  Voices in dreams, spirit visitors.  Ideas when exercising or thinking about nothing. 

And in Kundalini Yoga – there is an 8th chakra – the Aura, with no element – it’s white.  It’s the combination of all the others and how we connect to the universe.  It’s the energy that surrounds the whole, the electromagnetic field – And that’s literally our house – the 8th chakra.  My friend did a Feng shui and akashic record for our home.  She saw the home like a cat with its paws curled underneath - resting comfortably on the land, the indoors connected to the outside.  She describes, “26 Beston Street was built many years ago as a container for a new life. A place to land after a tough voyage to a sweet calm. The renovations “whooshed’ it to a fuller flower - a renewed and refreshed sense of purpose and a re-setting as a place to rest. It’s almost like an echo of the original - a place to be safe in the turning of a page, a vantage point to remember the past and its purpose - to bring hope. The house supports abundance - a place to feel the fullness of life.”  And she was right.  The pulsating energy of Rosehip26.

Living alone, my favorite time of day is post yoga and pre work – from 6:30 to 8:00 am or so.  It’s quiet.  It’s prayer, intention, introspection.  Petting a cat.  Contemplating an oracle card.  Lighting candles and sage. Reading a poem.  Making oatmeal.  Giving Nico cream in a ceramic dish.  Digging in the dirt or cutting some flowers.  Sweeping the floor.   Strong coffee. 

The house expands and contracts with our breath.  The front porch faces east – breathing in new beginnings.  In my bed, I face the west and close my eyes as the sun goes down.   And in between, artifacts are revealed from walls, cells and bones.  Some are treasured and put on a shelf.  Others are released out the window.  

 
26 Beston street project

26 Beston street project

Artifacts in walls, bones and cells

Artifacts in walls, bones and cells

“never going down there (went down there)

“never going down there (went down there)

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Relinquish

re·lin·quish (verb): Voluntarily cease to keep or claim; give up

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My morning sadhana, a disciplined pre-dawn kundalini yoga practice, is over a year old now.  I was getting somewhere.  Learning to let go, calm myself down, breathe, process pain, let emotions flow, grieve losses, feel strength, find hope and hit refresh each morning.  But there is an intensity in me that I bring to the practice.  I work hard at yoga.  I push through at yoga – just like life.  Kundalini yoga strengthens the nervous system, helping us stay calm during stressful times.  It turns out, that’s not my biggest challenge with yoga or with life.  I know how to push through.  I know how to keep it up.  I know how to be strong.  It’s the other side of that equation where I am learning.  How to slow down.  How to loosen the grip.  How to sit. How to be.  How to not think.

This weekend I had planned a yoga weekend retreat -- a reunion with other yoga students. But the Monday before the retreat, I felt weak.  I woke up with a sore throat.   I tried to push through it.  I worked.  I took extra vitamin C. Had tea, got plenty of rest and figured it would be left in the dust, like most of my obstacles.

I couldn’t play the usual card this time. Instead of force, I relinquished.  Even the sound of that word embodies what it felt like.  Re-link-quishhhh – say it soft and slow and you can feel time slowing down.  Re-link-quisshhhhh - It feels like a mantra.  Like a healing mantra.  I cancelled my travel.

I didn’t give up my morning sadhana – I’m committed to it and it’s happening regardless of how I feel.   I slowly moved towards my yoga mat.  I was exhausted in every way – physically, emotionally and spiritually.  And the result was a shift in the yoga experience.  I moved in slow motion.   My breathing was deeper than usual and I could hear my breath.  I couldn’t rush.  I couldn’t think anymore – I didn’t have the energy to figure out solutions to all my challenges.  I conceded.   I felt like I was wrestled to the ground and forced to be still.  I visualized the cowboy who ropes a powerful steer, jumps off the horse and twists the intense energetic being to the ground and the powerful animal has no choice but to come to a restful state.  My mind was wrestled to the ground by a force greater than myself and I gave up.  I stopped fighting.  It took great power to stop me.  The power of exhaustion.

I didn’t realize that I push through emotions too.  I thought I was feeling my feelings – I cry regularly – I have bad days.  But in this state of relinquishing my power and endurance, my emotional state dropped down into deep sadness.  A sadness took over my whole self and I let it happen.  I opened up and let it in.  I had no fight left in me. I took the day off, had cough drops, watched movies, slept and let my emotions sink to the ocean floor, where they rested and settled. 

When I woke up the next morning, I recalled the sadness from the day before.  I had coughed a lot during the night.  The weakness and emotional state felt the same.  I pondered – should I push through this or do I allow myself be sad and weak for another day?  What is the balance?  When does “allowing” turn into “wallowing”? I never pondered those two words together – allow and wallow – interesting.  One letter shifts the vibration.   

My routine continued – hair knotted, dog let out and in, cats fed, ginger tea -- to my mat in the darkness.  I had no intention of pushing through it – I would experience slow motion predawn yoga again.  But something interesting happened.  I had no expectation of feeling better – no expectation that my strength or emotional state would rise up – fully accepting that I was sad and weak.  I noticed my power filling back up, my peace replenishing; my calm – coming back into focus.  And my acceptance of things being the way they are.  That I lack nothing.  That all is as it’s meant to be.  Quiet and slow could be an alternate way of existing – with practice.  The weakness of mind, body and spirit, helped crack open the window and let a little bit more energy in and out.

We don’t know what we don’t know about ourselves – my intensity is all I have ever known – so to get to know anything else – is a mystery.  Spending time with the sad part wasn’t as scary as I thought.  Sitting with sad and letting sad in, showed me that it’s not a permanent state.  I was scared that if I let sad in, if I opened the window, she would whoosh in with such power that she would knock me down and never leave.  It would be too much for me to handle.  I have too many responsibilities to be knocked down for more than a day or two.  But when I allowed sad in – she came in with intensity, but evened out.  With a released grip and softened control – she floated around and then slipped away.  She wasn’t that bad.   Letting sadness in, opening up the window, relinquishing control, wasn’t giving up.  I thought that allowing or conceding, was a sign of weakness, but now I see it as the opposite – it takes courage and trust (or a bad cold).  With practice, it could be by choice -- strength - inverted.  Sadness and pain will come and go along with all my other emotions that I’ve pushed through but by opening up the windows, and letting the breezes in, maybe I can learn to put my face to the breeze – to take it in, open my arms to it – not put my head down and march through it with a grimace. 

My cold offered me a gift this week.  It wrestled me to the ground.  I conceded, panting under its force.  It cracked the window and let the elements in.  It let sadness in.  She came.  She stayed.  She floated around.  She left. 

When I whisper relinquish – slowly – re-link-quissshhhh --the healing mantra travels around my body.  I feel it in my heart and in my aura. Relinquish.  Such a pretty sound.  Such a beautiful feeling.  Such a powerful action.

 

 

Fear

What does fear feel like in your body?  Being held down and tickled.   A bike accident – that moment when you know it’s happening and nothing can be done.  A crick in the neck. A shallow breath.  A populated mind.  A sick loved one. A tummy ache.

This year – I chose fear.  That’s what being out of my comfort zone brought on at age 55.  I can push myself in my career – that’s not too scary.  But taking on Kundalini yoga teacher training and a biking challenge simultaneously – that was by choice.  I dove into the deep end on both fronts – however –at times it feels more like diving into freezing water – shocking, breathless.  And then liberating.

This Saturday as part of the yoga Kundalini Level One Teacher training certification, we have an all-day white tantric event in Worcester, MA, where over 200 people will be participating in a variety of meditations from 13 to 62 minutes each.   My neck is tight and stiff.  Will I be able to hold the position?  Will I get enough air?  I can’t say too much about it because I haven’t done it yet but last weekend was Mind and Meditation weekend in our training at the Ashram and we got a bit of practice.  One of the meditations was 13 minutes, called “Sodarshan Chakra Kriya” which brought out fear in me.  The Kriya involves chanting in one breath before an exhale through one nostril and inhale through the other and repeat.  The fear it brought on reminded me of being held down by bullies - not enough air. Two times, I took big gulps, rather than breathing through the single nostril, as guided.   “Your Capacity for Infinity Meditation” was a very different experience.  The fast pace of the mantra, accompanied by our instructor Dr. Sham-Rang Khalsa’s uplifting commentary during the group inhale helped me relax.  I felt a smile emerge on my intense expression.  I had trouble with the proper pronunciation, due to the speed of the mantra.  This forced my mind to let go and stop trying so hard.  When I relaxed and smiled, it was like allowing myself to coast on my bike down a hill – with no brakes – which is something I don’t do.  It created a safe space to virtually withhold brakes and trust the words to come from my mouth.  When I did this – and let go – the words flowed and it was a more satisfying experience.  A reached a new place through this meditation – to let go, not worry about it and trust that the words would come.

On the biking front – I love biking and I love exercise.  I don’t remember when I decided that I wanted to bike up a volcano in Maui called Haleakala.  I don’t recall when that came into my mind.  It is about 38 miles and a 10,000 foot elevation.  It takes about 5 or 6 hours and it’s comparable to a 100 mile ride on a regular road.  (I’ve only biked 50.) But the goal has been set and I’ve been spinning all winter and going to the gym and trying to prepare myself.  I need to get out on the real roads but that’s not happening just yet, due to New England weather.  I have a guide, I’ve plotted my course.  It’s definitely doable – people do it every day.  But now that it’s the month after next – I’m asking myself why I chose to bite into fear like that.  I think I know the answer, though.  I’ve been road biking for about 5 years now and find that the physical experience of pushing up a hill, imitates life.  Slow and steady – keep the head down – find the pacing – this leads to success.  But the opposite also holds true – going too fast – looking too far ahead – this can lead to fear and doubt. 

Since I started the yoga training last October, I’ve been rising each morning at 3:50 am for my short splash of a cold shower (as instructed, not by choice haha) and morning sadhana or practice.  After practice I have been training for the bike ride.  I’ve been fine – I’m an empty nester, single – I like it.  Others get a puppy – I do yoga and biking.   It’s fine.  I’m breathing.  I’m going to bed early.  I’m taking it slow -- focusing on the day and trying not to look out too far. 

But now I’m getting scared. I haven’t picked this big a challenge yet.  I’m 55 years old – I have to be careful. I know what it feels like to fall off my bike.  I don’t think it’s by chance that I have taken on Kundalini training and this bike challenge at this time in my life – a time of healing, pushing through past pain, finding renewed strength and adventure – and tackling discomfort.   Doing something by myself and for myself. 

Wendy, my therapist and my friends wonder why I’m so hung up on getting to the top when it’s the effort that counts.  I used to tell my daughter that trying out for a play was the cake and getting a part was only the frosting.  And I meant it.   Why did I believe that for her and not for myself?   If the hill imitates life, then I guess that’s it – fear of failure – of losing momentum, and running the risk of heading backwards and down.  But it doesn’t have to be losing momentum.  It doesn’t have to be falling back.  It could be getting off the bike.  Looking at the view and then cruising down the hill – with brakes.  Or getting off the bike and slowly walking to the top.

Pushing through fear is important right now.  Chewing it up and digesting it.  Diving into it.  Because it’s been sitting in my belly for a long time.  It perches on my neck.  It startles me.  Maybe these experiences can help me engage with it in a new way.  It’s cold. It’s shocking.  But it’s freeing.  And could be joyful.  I’ll let you know in May after the bike ride and June – when I receive certification as a Level 1 Kundalini Yoga Teacher.

What does fear feel like in your body?  When did you last choose fear?