Thursday, April 1, 2010

Risk and Reward

So I haven't posted in over a month. I get distracted! My yogic journey continues and I find as of late the most difficult part of the parctice is getting up early and gettin' my ass to charlestown. Sure, I'm fine once I'm there but let me tell you, it is an epic battle getting out of my warm bed and ggoing to an 8am sweat fest. But, I doth protest too much. It's fantastic to start your day with and makes you feel quite accomplished when you leave.

I've found more and more that the teachings of yoga can spill over into how you act in your everyday life. What is most difficult for me is learning to be in the moment. Learning that you can't let the past taint your views of the present and you can't spend your present worrying about the future. I am queen of aniexty and worrying abotu the future is my thing. It's what I do. So, I'm trying to buy into the whole "peace in the present" thing. In yoga they teach that the present is all there is and living in the moment requires major risk and courage. You lose stability but you gain freedom. Now, just like everything else in yoga, this is much easier said then done. Of course we worry about our future, it's so unsure we have to worry about money and living situations and relationships. But the Yogi's would tell you that worrying about it does nothign for you. It doesn't mae the situation better. It doesn't make you happier. All you can do to be happy is to live in this very moment. To live 100%. After all, you could die in the next.

I'm making a big move to NYC this spring, late May. It's a major cause of concern and worry for me. So, I'm attempting to take these teachings at face value and implement them into my life. I do the work, I apply for jobs and search for apartments, but I try not to worry. Beacause what will be will be, there's no sense in obsessing over it. There's so many things to be happy for in this moment. It's taking some major work and some concious thought changes, but it seems to be helping.

If you're interested in reading a book in relation to this kind of thinking, check out-

It's a book that challenges you to live in the moment. To take risks and to jump even if you're not sure anything will be there to catch you.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Decisions, Decisions

What is currently most intriguing about yoga to me is the fact that in each moment there are always two choices…and just like everything else in yoga, this idea transfers to life as well. Each time you’re in a situation you have a choice, you cannot choose the situation or choose how the people around you act, but you can choose how you react.

If you’re in a difficult pose, you can choose peace or panic. With each breath you dial down or you dial up, choosing to react to the sensation with a rising panic, creating a story about how difficult it is, or you dial down, choosing peace, relaxing into the uncomfortable situation and reaching new grounds in your spirituality. Being present is the number one lesson of yoga and in these moments we choose presence or we choose to run away. I’m trying, really I am, but choosing presence is hard. There is a sort of letting go involved. You have to let go of your ego and all the stories that create who you are. You have to learn to just be, with no descriptors, no anguish, just be who you are in that moment and choose to deal with the situation and move on when it is time.

The same is true in life. When we are forced to deal with uncomfortable situations we can look at these as an opportunity to grow, rather than an opportunity to pit ourselves against whomever (or the world) and elaborate on the story of ourselves. We choose instead love over anger and forgiveness over condemnation. We can choose peace or panic in each moment. Now all of this is way eaiser said than done, but it rings so true for me. We constantly create our story and see ourselves as stronger or weaker, as a winner or a loser. We choose to forgive for selfish reasons, to be the bigger person. Some things hurt so much we can’t let go and we choose to see ourselves as a victim. All of these are hurting only ourselves. It’s great to know all this stuff intellectually, but how to we put that into practice?

Most teachers would answer , yoga. That is how you put it into practice. Yoga, especially power yoga, forces you to be in your body, in the moment. It’s hard to think about all your troubles when your body is pushed to its limits. That’s why yoga is called a practice. Not only for body, but even more so for the mind. The mind learns to be patient and to focus. I’ve come to learn that this journey will not be easy. We are trained to run away from truth and to continue to build a mask for ourselves. Yoga forces you to be aware of who you are, truthfully.

I realize that I will have to practice meditation. This is soooo hard for me. It’s very hard for me to quiet my brain and I find this practice far more difficult than the yoga practice. If you quiet your mind who knows what miserable and/or wonderful things could be hiding there. It’s so much easier to hide behind our story and to create problems that define who we are.

And pose of the day!
Sirsasana or Headstand

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Crying is for Sissies...or Yogis?

Last night’s yoga class got pretty intense. Let me start off by saying that I am someone who often holds back emotion. Ok pretty much all the time I hold back emotion. Yoga is supposed to help you free all that built up emotion and move your emotional blocks so that your energy can flow freely. I can’t say I had a huge break through, but there was a little nudge.

It all happened in a pose called Camel or Ustrasana.

This pose is a heart opener and for those of us who keep our hearts under serious lock and key, it can make us feel quite vulnerable. Lisa was filling in for Phillip at Salt Pond Yoga (she was fantastic) and she came over to adjust my position in this pose, pulling my chest forward and cracking my heart open. Talk about feeling vulnerable, my instincts were screaming at me to get the hell out of this crazy contortion and protect my heart…emotionally and physically. I kept myself in it, though it wasn’t pleasant and for the rest of the class, and last night, I felt on the verge of tears. Being the tough chick that I am (ha!) I kept myself from crying and pushed through the rest of class.

At the end of class I talked to Lisa about it. She said it’s a great class if you feel comfortable enough to cry, other people have cried before, she’s cried before, she said. Are you kidding? I don’t cry when I’m by myself, let alone in a roomful of sweaty, grunting people. And then she said something that really struck me. “You don’t have to have it all together.” “If I said I have it all together, it’d be a lie” she admitted. I was astonished. Here is this woman, years ahead of me in her yoga practice , seeming as though she’s got the inner peace thing down and she has the strength to admit that she doesn’t. Beautiful.

I’m learning that being strong often means being open to pain. Being strong means being able to set your strength aside and allow everything in, even if it could hurt. Being strong means feeling the hurt and moving on, not pushing it away. Being strong is being able to admit that you don’t have it all together and you’re still learning, a lot. These are all extremely difficult things, not just for me, but for everyone. We have a skewed view of strength and often see it as being able to muscle through things. Yoga teaches otherwise, and I dig it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Begin at The Beginning

I’m writing this blog to keep track of my own my yogic/philosophic/ spiritual journey. I’m 24, perhaps that’s too young to find inner peace but I figure it’s a worth shot. I am currently taking Bikram yoga and studying “A Course in Miracles”. ( Let me start out by giving a background of what I believe…or don’t believe.

I don’t believe in religion. In fact, I think that organized religion has caused more trouble than good. I believe that it is our biggest obstacle in the way of peace. Organized religion is inherently exclusive and requires most believers to blindly follow certain ambiguous “facts”. I am not an atheist though, in fact, I feel as though atheism is almost as silly as theism. I instead believe that anything is possible, yet I don’t believe things to be hard truths unless they are factual. I am currently reading “God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything” by Christopher Hitchens and I’m loving every second of it. So that’s really my spiritual basis. Nothing. Though I do strongly believe in energy (both scientifically..duh…and spiritually). ..where this ties into to spirituality we will have to see.

So why do this? This may sound contradictory but I’ve always felt like a spiritual person, I’ve just hated the way it’s been presented to me. I love the physical workout of yoga and I think that the spirituality of it has been sinking in a bit. I also really love the idea of being present. I’m an actor and this ties in so specifically with acting that it seems beneficial to study it just for that reason.

Now as a vehemently anti-religious person I find myself resisting what A Course in Miracles has to say. It’s just too tied into Catholicism for me. I can find kernels of wisdom and truth in what is being said but ultimately the absolute truth of what you are required to believe is a bit too much for me. I cannot be convinced the world is not real because it is all I know. If someone dies, it hurts, if I’m cut, I bleed. All of this is very real and I can’t be convinced otherwise. I believe that anything is possible, but I don’t believe things to be hard and fast truths when I can’t see and feel them as such. I don’t think this is a particularly unenlightened way of thinking. We should question everything, right?

My spirituality comes from the fact that nothing can be determined, the possibilities for our energies are endless and we can only begin to imagine the threshold of such things. I find it very hard to believe that someone has all the answers and ACM seems to purport itself to be this way. I have to give it props for being very open. It really is a book that people of all religions can find truth in, yet it’s too rigid for me. Granted, I’ve only just begun reading it and these are my initial thoughts. I’m taking a “Crash Course n Miracles” by Philip Urso. You can download it on iTunes is you’re interested. Or check out the website ( )

There are parts of ACM that I can relate to. ACM says that we create a sort of cloud around ourselves; we build up walls that keep us from really seeing God and the Holy Spirit. The cloud represents things like self-doubt, greed, things that keep us from truly seeing, feeling and giving love. I can buy into this. As humans we do anything we can to keep from being vulnerable. As ACM says we set up a story of ourselves and the ego will fight to the death to protect our self-image. Whether we see ourselves as the hero or as the loser, we have a story of self that exists only in our reality. I can buy this as well. In arguments we constantly have to see ourselves as the victim, even forgiveness is tainted because we see ourselves as being “the bigger person”. We forgive because we are better or ‘more enlightened” than the person who harmed us. ACM tells us that we have to do our best to get away from this story of self. It asks us to live in the moment. If you’re present then there’s no past or future so there’s no need for a story of self. We only live in this moment. If this is the way I’m heading I have a feeling this is going to be a long journey. I am inherently an anxious person, so this is going to be the hardest part for me. Philip tells us to quiet our mind, to focus only on breath. WAY easier said than done.

Well that’s enough for now. There’s a sort of basic idea of where I’m coming from. I think it’s pretty clear that I have no clue where I’m going.

And now just for fun, yoga pose of the day!
Bakasana or Crow Pose