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What a day of listening to my life!

This morning (in my daily inspirational reading ritual) I happened to flip open Rolf Gates’ Meditations from the Mat to an entry on brahmacharya, the fourth yama or foundation of yoga practice, and it had to do with a broader interpretation of the word to mean “moderation”. Rolf talked about how we often attach to doing our yoga at a certain studio, with a certain teacher, at a certain time, using a certain mat, in order to feel we’ve accomplished something in our practice. He suggests that the observation of moderation in our approach to yoga could mean greater flexibility in our practice. He also related brahmacharya to the concept of vairagya or non-attachment.

Interesting, I thought. Then I went about the rest of my morning, and when it was time to leave the house for my normal yoga class at 10:30, I did. I remembered that there were some slight schedule changes since the studio moved recently, but I was already driving and didn’t want to pull over to check the internet on my Blackberry. I just went with it to see what would happen.

Turns out the schedule DID change, and in “my” class time slot, there is now a “Beginner’s Yoga” class, taught by a new instructor. It also started 15 minutes later. The owner, knowing I was a regular at the old class, said, “Oh, I’m sorry, you know we changed the schedule, right? I’m so sorry.” Part of me was thinking, “Oh, should I leave then?” but the other part of me felt like I had created the space for yoga, I had already driven down here, and I should just stay. I was debating this in my mind as I walked through the studio. The instructor, sitting in meditation, looked up and started talking to me. Something clicked in that moment that YES, I was going to stay. Read the rest of this entry »

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Most people are fearful of change. Our social systems are designed with this in mind. We are given a set of rules to follow, a group to feel we belong to, a language we speak in common, and in return we expect that nice warm feeling of security to fall asleep to each night.

The problem is most people secretly crave change. This is what I hypothesize, at least. We see the world as a projection of ourselves – our innocent hope, our sparkles of joy, our dark looming fears, our deepest regrets. How we feel at a particular moment of our lives can create a whole set of circumstances to validate that feeling. We see through eyes of our own choosing. And while the brain rapidly becomes accustomed to patterns and systems and habits, the heart – which is the seat of these longings of the soul – seeks constantly to breathe new life force into the experience of each moment. We long to feel alive.

The problem is we don’t realize that holding tightly to everything we already have, everything we think we “have to” have or “have to” do, everything that “should” have been, our lives begin to be ruled by fear of change, resignation that things will never change, and anger that we are tied to the way things will always be. “Suck it up”, our mind tells us. “Drown it in some alcohol,” suggests another voice. “You’ll never be able to change,” says another. And most of us actually believe these thoughts.

We want “better” results, “higher” status, “more” of everything, but we don’t want to face the reality and necessity of change. “You mean, in order to get what I want, I’ll have to do all that??!!” you say to yourself. “No way! I’ll stay right here, thank you very much.” Even if it means clinging to the past, holding on to things we no longer need, and pleasing people who are no longer part of our lives.

I recently saw the Pixar movie Up, a charming love story and beautiful film about an old widower, Carl, who, on the brink of grinding out his last days on earth in a state of rage and regret, decides to take a final risk and follow a childhood dream. On the eve of being carted off to die in the local nursing home, he acquires superhuman energy and inflates thousands of helium balloons, releases them through the chimney of his house, and the entire building takes flight, foundation and all.  [Definitely go see this movie, too! It’s a keeper!] Read the rest of this entry »

I realized I never debriefed on my first-ever “Music Improvisation for Everyone” class last Saturday. It was the first time in a few years that I taught from a place of total relaxation and not needing any particular results to happen. Everything was already perfect before the class even started, because I had put myself out there to offer the class. How the participants responded, what they got out of it, how they felt about me – none of that was within my control, so none of it could affect my own experience unless I chose to allow it in. I just kept offering myself in an open way, knowing I was giving with love. I was sharing what I really truly loved, not expecting – and importantly, not needing – anyone else to love it like I do in order to feel “successful” or “good” at what I was doing.

When I received the positive feedback – and I did receive plenty of good juicy comments – I saw it as a bonus for THEM, not for me. I had already received the positive feedback of my own experience in the moment of delivering all of my offerings. I was already happy. Their comments augmented it but I was not attached to having them, so it didn’t change things so much. I had my own knowledge that I would be doing it again soon, because I wanted to, and nothing that happened on Saturday was going to change that.

Of course it’s wonderful to hear that the very first class was well-received! But it just doesn’t mean I’ll be striving to make future classes more “like” this first one. It’s a starting point. And I am practicing, building, growing, and becoming more curious as I go. There will be more offerings to come!

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