Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Work in Progress

When I was a young teenager, on the cusp of becoming a woman, I was looking for love. I was craving acceptance and I feared rejection. My vision of the world was driven by my external view. It did not matter what my heart said and I am not certain I was able to really listen to it with all the confusion in my head. I was going down the wrong path. I talked to the wrong people, I allowed boys what they wanted in hopes of getting some validation. I was around illicit activity so I wouldn't be rejected. The world felt more desperate than loving.

We are fortunate that society sets us up to leave high school and change our lives in the twenties because that shift forces a shift in who we see, and what we are able to choose. Going to university was not just a great educational choice, it was a fantastic mental health choice. It took me away from the negative influences and introduced me to more positive influences. I still partied, I was still looking for love from outside of me and I was desperately seeking validation... Still, but at least I was looking for it in a group that was less likely to take advantage of me.

By the time the next decade passes, there are many accomplishes and more responsibilities thrust into ones life. You have to eventually pay those university fees, the degree(s) are complete and you really do need to get moving in the real adult world out there whether you have found a partner or not. This is a time when all of that begins to take shape.
Lots of young twenty-something's are heading west to tree plant and then off to climbing adventures in the big badass way that they can. It is what I did at that time too. They will see that chasing those grades doesn't necessarily get boring, but eventually you long for something tangible to ground you. You want a home, a partner, maybe a baby. Mostly you want to be able to not live in the dirt.

By the time you get here, which is where I still am, you realize shit happens and it is not what you want. Life can suck and in a very big way. Maybe you get to stave it off for a few more years or maybe it happens a little before this point, but at some point you begin to look back and see that all that striving and doing hasn't made you feel one little bit safer.
The question is, 'what's next?'
The transforming experience for me was a divorce. It shattered everything I wanted to believe and the burning insecurity of my youth erupted all over me. It was an undeniable statement of "you, Heather, are not enough." At least that was my early interpretation. That was the thought lurking behind wanting to drink it all away and that kept me from keeping meat on my bones.
In this turmoil, a life ring was thrown and I was able to see it and grasp it. I believe we all have a safety switch, a reflex in our hearts and minds that wants to see us through the challenges we are here to meet and move through. It's like finding little Easter eggs on Easter morning, but if you stay curious about what this shit is happening to you, you eventually begin to see there is a possibility in all the painful emotion you are experiencing. It is that moment that the transformation begins and so does your growth.
As I look around me these days, I see so much more of myself, an inner light that I did not really acknowledge before. I am no longer denying myself food in some bizarre attempt to end my feelings of insecurity. I no longer feel the need to drink to soothe my feeling of not being able to do it all, do it perfectly and not break a sweat. And I no longer feel the need to run a marathon, climb V10, and do the most challenging Yoga postures to prove my strength and physical beauty.
Okay so some habits die hard and I occasionally have flashbacks of these things.
But more often I recognize that these feelings low self worth are being crowded out by a realization that everyone has them to some degree. I am more than this small insignificant human doing, I am a part of a much larger organism of life. My interactions with young teenagers, ten year olds and twenty something's impacts their lives in ways I can not even imagine and maybe not even today, maybe the impact comes down the road. Maybe it will be my high bar of expectation that will encourage a life altering choice. Maybe it will be the soft arms of loyalty and acceptance they feel that will remind them how to feel compassion.
Who knows?
I can't determine any of that, except by truly being who I am in as many moments as possible. Rather than trying to be who they want me to be, perhaps the pure raw honesty of being truthful about my own fear, my own sorrow and my joy, will touch someone's heart and that will make all the difference. For both of us.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

A little non doing

In a recent attempt to let go of a bad habit, I realized something about this habit. I indulged in the routine of this vice because in doing so there was a little part of me giving permission to no longer be responsible. The reward of the habit was an escape, a moment of peace. Now the joke is, I wasn't really craving the vice, I was craving the feeling of not being the one who had to keep doing, who had to be responsible. BUT I would indulge in the vice and yet still be responsible. That led to frustration and resentment. Disappointment.

Reading this book, "The Power of the Habit," I am beginning to understand a couple of things... recognizing the reward is important. Recognizing the cue, the desire that sparks the craving for the vice is a part of the process and then to find another way to satisfy the reward. This is going to be tough. What do you do when you want to feel like you don't have to be responsible. The very nature of trying to change this habit is a responsibility I am placing on myself.

The book states it, my teacher has said it.... I must cultivate will.
My solution... I will start with something a little more manageable. I will measure and record my success and build on my success, which in turn will build on my will.

Time to do nothing.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Confidence, courage and will

It's a Saturday morning and I am relaxing through the hangover of a week of March Break camps. Lots of youth, little and not so little, coming together to learn some stuff, have some fun and, most importantly for the parents, to be kept safe and sound while they (the parents) get to work. All these little lives coming together, many for the first time and many with very different backgrounds. Some happy, loving homes and others no home and violence. And yet all here for the same thing. How does an instructor make it work for all of them at the same time? When I walk into the Yoga studio to teach asana, how can I offer a positive experience for everyone?

It's tough. It's pretty much impossible. Or is it? I think it depends on what you measure.

I just watched Brene Brown, TED talks... the new one on shame.

None of us like to think about it, or talk about our shaem. Some people experience more shame than others. But we all have some. Perhaps if my goal is not to just teach a pose, rather my real goal is to make people feel safe, safe in their shame, then perhaps that is the path to success.

As I reflect on my own experiences with profound teachers, this is what I know. When there is a space to accept who I am as I see myself to be, then I am free to love me. And really that is the only way to continually build my confidence, courage and will. These qualities are the foundation for real change and allowing even more of me to shine.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


I just returned from 5 days of study with my teacher, Yogarupa, Rod Stryker. I learn as much studying the texts and the knowledge around Yoga as I do studying myself. Every day in Asana I watched my mind roll through it's vast array of thoughts about how good or not so open my body is. I saw my longing for an assist, my fear of not getting one and what that might mean. And also the fear of receiving an assist and what that may mean. I watched how I engaged with others, pushing my opinion on them or allowing them to force their ideas toward me.

With a return to routine and the busy nature of life, I am sitting back a little and noticing my thoughts around what it means if someone thinks I am right or wrong. Noticing my own judgment of others and the shield that places in front of me. This stance has also allowed me a glimpse also, that I am not the only one wielding the shield.

With just curiosity, without really believing I know already, there is a space for wondering. A space where there is more openness, possibility. It's much less stressful. At the very least this is an incredible gift of Yoga practice.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mining truth

Cereal or oatmeal?
To get up or not to get up?
To go to work with a positive attitude or to go with dread?
Everything is a choice. What makes that choice? Is it from the reactive part of my brain, from habit, or from my memory or from a sense of what I know to be true? Or does it come from a place deeper?
Most time I do not even think about where it comes from. Most of the time the choice is made with a limited degree of consideration. Last summer, I attended a training on discovering what you really want and developing a strategy for heading in the right direction. The doing was left with me. As I have progressed through this process of trying to fulfill my desires, I have become very aware that when I take a moment to witness a less helpful choice, and in that pause, I remember what I really want, then sometimes, I choose differently. Eventually, as I repeat this process, it gets a little easier. Some days, it gets harder again.
I am also very aware, that the choices and the process doesn't end there. It is a choice again to continue to work with the process, or not.

The training? Yoga for Fulfillment. A choice you should consider. ;)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Practicing with the witness

Day one of Sutras and the insights roll over me. Not surprising. This is the nature of training with Rod. Paying attention to my experience. As I go into pose after pose with the intention to witness the experience, I do not only experience the pose, the lengthening of my hamstrings, the opening in the side body, I also experience my thoughts and the emotions arising with them. Only this time there is space - distance as another person said it. It is as if I am a fly on the wall hearing a private conversation. "Why is my side shaking like that? I should be more stable. Maybe I should not have gone in this deep. Aww.. I always push so hard? Why am I so intense?"
Self-rejection, defence, anxiety...
Slowly it comes to me that these thoughts are all seeded with my vikalpas, the wrong thinking I have. I am stewing in ongoing thoughts of defence of my ego and striving for approval. I am striving for love and acceptance and in the process completely and utterly rejecting myself.
A smile creeps onto my face... Why am I taking myself so seriously? All of this is what I am here to learn. Learning to discover how I create my own experience... one of suffering. Obviously suffering can be the only outcome of feelings of rejection and defence.
Sitting in curiosity, in the seat of the witness, there is so much more room to enjoy the show.