Ironically, the very first yoga class I ever taught, a restorative class (meant to relax the body and mind), took place on the second floor of a yoga studio on 23rdand Park in Manhattan during a protest just before rush hour. As if the copious amounts of angry people with blow horns wasn’t enough it seemed like every fire truck in Manhattan decided to take the 23rdstreet route.
I was already anxious about teaching for the first time and now I had to attempt to help my students relax in a chaotic environment when I didn’t know how to relax myself.
I once had a meditation coach I used to work with who taught me many different forms of meditation. I would stare at a flame or the leaf of a plant with my eyes hazily open. I learned to follow my breathing; come back to the breathing. A practice. The basis of meditation and how I had interpreted it had transformed during this time as I no longer tried to shut out my thoughts or outside distractions, frustratingly trying desperately and abusively to quiet my mind. Instead, I honored my thoughts; I acknowledged them. The practice became a respect for my mind, rather than a punishment. Only then could I begin practicing to let them go and once again, return to the breath.
I have spent my life surrounded by those who have been diagnosed with some form of Attention Deficit Disorder. What a terrible word, ‘disorder.’ How inaccurate of a description. These have been some of the smartest, most talented, and inspiring people I’ve ever met. As society tells them there is something wrong with them, their attention is literally already on three other things that are probably more beneficial to them. Their energy and attention, able to be dispersed across many different subjects, quickly acknowledging and absorbing what each has to offer. And ‘disorder’ doesn’t quite compete. They are literally unstoppable.
These are both of my brothers as well as my mother. Majority rules in this case and leaves just my father and I. I remember sitting down to practice piano growing up and getting so frustrated and angry because in a house of five, it was near impossible to get a moment of silence and my mind couldn’t focus on that ONE thing.
So there I was, focusing on my sequence, my first class, my doe eyed students, sirens and blow horns, instead of relaxing.
Come back to the breath. Acknowledge. Respect. Release. Come back to the breath.
Instead of getting frustrated, instead of running away, denying the reality of the clearly distracting obstacles, I decided to run towards them. I asked the students to close their eyes and come into their breath. I asked them to choose one sound to focus on. What is the texture of the sound? What is the color of the sound itself? Where is it felt in the body? Come back to the breath. Next. What is the conversation you hear? If inaudible, what is the feeling of the conversation? Who’s faces does the conversation belong to? Come back to the breath.
Slowly, the chaotic contributors were acknowledged one by one. And although still present, our minds were able to settle after having acknowledged them and seeing/hearing them from different angles. Our ears would hear but no longer listen saying, “been there, done that.”
And we were able to practice. At the end of the class, I even had students approach me and say how relaxed they felt, that they forgot about the noise entirely.
As I write today’s post, the radio alarm is going off in my bedroom and there is a man named Vlad in my wall working on the electrical system but really just sounds like he’s trying to cut down a forest with a handsaw, yelling Russian at someone over the phone from time to time. There is a woman outside the window talking to no one in particular yet being heard by everyone. And this is New York City at 9am.
Whether in the city or anywhere else, we are always surrounded by different stimulus tugging at our attention and sipping our energy. It can be irritating, distracting, sometimes, unbearable. Perhaps if we only take a moment, come back to our breath, acknowledge, respect, and release.
Come back to the breath.
#breath #breathe #yoga #creatrix #restorative #newyorkcity #nyc #citylife #stress #noise #chaos #healing #holistic #senses #add #adhd #psychology #practice #meditation
In March of 2018, I began my training to become a Certified Creatrix, sacred leader of Women’s Circles through Goddess Ceremony. During the training, each participant was given the opportunity to indulge in a private discussion with our teacher, Cassandra. It was an hour-long Skype session (before our in-person retreat) and we were given two options as to what we would like to discuss to help us move forward in our training.
The first option was to discuss our goals and the direction we would like to take once the training was complete. The second, a bit more personal, was the opportunity to discuss our past or any personal reason we may feel held back in pursuing this new career path.
This brought about some serious consideration for me. I admire Cassandra so very much, not only as a person but very much so as a businesswoman as well. I can listen to her speak for hours on end and soak up the wealth of knowledge she possesses like a sponge. I knew I would greatly benefit from her advice with moving forward in my new endeavors.
However, something was nagging at me deep inside, a feeling of uneasiness with the intention of taking off his hat and coat to stay for a while. He is the familiar and deceitful face of fear mixed with shame and guilt.
I wanted to focus on the future. I wanted to look forward and I knew I would, no matter what. However, this dark feeling had a hold on me and I knew I possessed a deep need for healing I couldn’t ignore.
I spoke with Cassandra for a long time. I cried. A lot. There were many moments I found myself unable even to speak (, an issue I later learned to involve a blockage in the throat chakra: our center for self-expression). What I felt was incredibly intense. I had been carrying such baggage for a long time. And although I was given the opportunity to release, I knew those bags would still find their way into the cab with me when I left.
I loved all that I learned. My background in psychology and as a yoga teacher allowed me to feel that leading Women’s Circles is something I could be good at and truly enjoy. But I knew my credentials as far as the scars I’ve carved and together they spelled out “Unworthy.”
I have not always been kind to other women. In fact, at times I have been cruel, careless, and reckless. I am not proud. To do so has become a behavior commonly accepted, even encouraged in society. When we are told so young that our worth is merely our physical appearance, we begin to compare ourselves to our peers. Distance comes between us as society locks us in a cage of self-doubt and self-judgement. To “love yourself” seems like a joke. No, you must be BETTER than the girl next to you or face the consequences. It becomes you or her. It becomes a fight for social survival which, let’s face it, is our world when we are young. And some never learn of sisterhood or our ancient histories to grow out of it.
Those teenage years were certainly cruel.
These habits have been ingrained in many of us, to be on the defense every time a new woman enters into our lives. It isn’t natural. It’s far from, actually. What is natural is for women to share community. Something I didn’t experience much of. Something so many of us have lost. I would imagine my self-esteem might be much different otherwise.
I didn’t respect myself. I didn’t respect my body, my sacred temple. I just kept thinking, “I hope its good enough.” Even worse, I allowed others to do the same. As if disrespecting my time wasn’t enough, I allowed equally if not more-so damaged men to convince me with their actions that I was worthless, that my body was not sacred and beautiful. I was conditioned to expect to be used and thrown away. How very wrong they were. And how beautiful and vulnerable was I.
None of these scars fade easily. All of the above mentioned haunts me, hidden in my subconscious even in my strongest moments. My anger persists at the slightest hint of an attack on me or any other woman. I feel robbed of the sisterhood that was meant for me.
I confessed my sins to Cassandra, my head held in shame. I expected a familiar distant nurturing and attempt at comfort without having any anticipation for it to penetrate and actually make a difference. It was too embedded in my heart. The wound was on a soul-level.
Unexpectedly, what she said did penetrate my mindset. Not in a comforting or condescending way but in a very real way which held that much more worth to me. She told me, if I had known the sense of community I felt robbed of, I would know that I was not alone in any of what I expressed or have experienced. And other women need to know that they too, are not alone. And I would be the woman to hold that space. I was meant to hold that space.
What we are not given, we must give life to. For we are women; The creators, the givers of life.
Cassandra was right. In the last six months I’ve spent leading circles, I have felt the most purpose in my life. I know I am making a difference. I know I am providing a safe space that many women have never experienced; to express, to share, to feel connected, and most importantly to feel accepted.
So as we enter into 2019, I ask you to consider and indulge in both options; Do not pass up the opportunity to heal. I promise you, you will feel lighter. When we are lighter, it’s easier to fly.
And sister, you will soar.
Happy New Year!
#goddessceremony #skype #creatrix #goals #newyear #healing #health #metoo #womensmovement #sisterhood #womenscircles #shewolfwellness