Part Time Warrior

being with rocks - exploring plaza blanca in abiquiu, nm - march 2019

being with rocks - exploring plaza blanca in abiquiu, nm - march 2019

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

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.  

sea.glass.JPG

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 –

ocean.light.JPG

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.

Relinquish

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

flower.window.JPG

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?