I’ve been intoxicated by so much beauty down here on retreat in New Mexico these past few days and simultaneously, watching, as our world reveals so much injustice and violence. As a white privileged woman, I’ve been, quieting and tuning into what is coming up for me and how I am to take a stand without reacting from my old patterns that I know, may not serve in the highest.

Since I’ve been here I’ve observed the heavy and violent hail storms and rains coming through, that seem necessary at times, for purifying and nourishing the fertile land, feeding it with brilliant shades of green and full, flowing rivers. These last few years of my personal life have been similar. I chose my path of purifying a lot of rage and anger that was conditioned and patterned in my lineage. Initially my yoga practice is what showed me and gave me the tools to begin to heal this pattern with consciousness and love. I was aware how this unconscious pattern was bringing a lot of toxicity to me and my family and was affecting how I showed up in my world.

My white privileged upbringing, conditioned me to stay in my pride and to look the other way when things got ugly. I was never taught how to take accountability until the yoga of my relationship so clearly mirrored to me where I wasn’t doing that. I got to a place where it became more painful to keep turning away than to look the tiger in the eye. Once I did, even though it took a lot of courage, it wasn’t so bad. It reminds me of that moment in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ where Belle was able to see beyond the ugly face and into the true nature of the Beast where she finds true love and beauty.

It’s humbling without a doubt to look inside our own psyche and see the beast but it’s absolutely necessary if any of us want to shift what is happening on the outer. Through the conscious expression of rage and anger, I have been able to connect with more beauty and authenticity in myself and others. It still shows it’s ugly face but not nearly as often and I am able to move through it with much more ease and grace. Each time I face into the hurt and pain with compassion, I am given the opportunity to experience more joy and beauty in my life. What a paradox life is!! The outer is always a reflection of our inner states so when we witness what we are now in the outer, it’s truly an opportunity to have the courage to look at our disowned parts and own them so we can move beyond them.

For what it’s worth coming from a middle aged, privileged, white woman, I urge you to please, at least be open to look into the Beast of your own self as Belle finally did in the end. Look at where you carry shame and guilt around privilege. It’s okay to feel it just don’t hang out there too long. Take accountability for your part and take the action necessary to change your state from shame and guilt to love and kindness. If we are to heal the deeper wounds that are showing their ugly faces, it is the necessary path in move forward and creating a new, more evolved society.

True commitment requires us to go within and ask ourselves what matters and what are we willing to do about it?? These are warrior times we are living in, requiring us to know who we are like never before. We have to take a good, hard look at our ugly and disowned parts and to take accountability for all of it. No one wants to do this because it is downright hard. It requires an unwavering commitment and dedication to something so much bigger than. No one can do it for us and no one can do it alone. We have to stop leading from our heads and take the initiative to lead from our hearts. These times are inviting us to take a good look at what matters and drop the rest. Of course, that is much easier said than done because it requires a massive shift in consciousness. It requires a dedication to love and a longing to merge with the Beloved.

A Sufi poet once said, “Life means longing. Progress is only possible through Longing. As the Path of Progress is Infinite, there should be infinite longing. Thus Longing becomes itself, a form of the Infinite, to be desired for its own sake. The other name for Longing is Love.”

In Yoga we call this the Iccha Shakti, the power of our will to evolve, to grow and to merge with the divine.

Try this simple 10 minute Practice to Cultivate the Commitment for Transformation:

Breath of Fire

Sit comfortably in a chair or cushion. Rest the hands on the thighs or extend the arms out in a V shape. Take some deep Ujayyi breaths. Then begin breath of fire pumping the naval in on each exhale. Cultivate energy in the solar plexus and focus you intention on that area of the body. Do 2 rounds, 2 minutes each.

Tree Pose

Stand on one leg and bring the opposite foot to the inner calf or inner thigh if possible. Root down through the standing leg. Bring the hands into prayer in front of the heart or arms over head. Hold for at least 2 minutes on each side and focus on your hearts longing. Stand for what’s important to you on the inner level. Breathe and Embody your power and commitment!!!!

Warrior 2

Stand with feet one leg length apart. Turn one foot straight out and leave the back foot parallel to the back edge of the mat. Bend the front knee to a ninety degree angle, arms extend out from the sides. Stay for 2 minutes each side. Commit to standing strong with an open heart. Be unwavering in your stand and do it for love…as love!

Meditate

Sit for 3 minutes meditating on what your deepest desire is in your heart.

It’s my birthday today.  I am 52 and just this year, I am learning how to grow up.  It sounds funny to be this age and to finally be growing up but I am grateful that I even have that opportunity in this life.  To learn how to take accountability for myself on every level.  Many people never do. My mother never got that opportunity.  She died of cancer when I was 21 with I believe, a lot of regrets around this. 

Last summer I came the the point where I felt like I had had enough. I was done living inside of patterns that kept repeating themselves in my life. I was working on and committed to some personal development with a teacher and became radically clear that I was no longer willing tolerate the feelings of anger and disappointment that I felt inside.  They were running the show and my life was showing me where it was time to take accountability for my actions and start cleaning ups my messes.  It was hard.  Really hard.  I wanted to blame my husband, my kids…anything but myself.  I wanted to feel sorry for my situation and pout with my bottom lip way out.  How could I be where I was. But that never seemed to work out in the past.  The only choice was to take a good hard look at where I was stuck and to give that immature, little angry bitch a voice.  To express with a full on fit, screaming and yelling at the world, how life had wronged me. How could I be here after all the “spiritual work” I have done was the big question? I was a good person I thought.  Well, through the guidance of some very wise teachers I was able to see it all.  None of the downward dogs or chanting or mediating or praying to the Goddess was ever going to get me out of this one.  I had to get down on my knees and do the dirty work of looking at where I was deferring accountability over and over and over again.  Running from one thing to the next seeking some kind of refuge outside myself but not dealing with the feelings I had inside of pain, rage and injustice.

Today I am 52 years old.  I am waking up to myself, and all that I am now.  Yes I am kind, compassionate, loving and innocent. I also have anger, doubt and fear. I am human after all. Today I am more authentic and real about who I am and it feels really good. I’m a little bruised and tender but none the less, waking up. Sometimes I do feel like a newborn in this adult body. I am learning what it means to be a woman not just a little girl in a woman’s body.  Growing up is not what I thought it would be.  I never had many roles models for that in my life.  Not even many of my “spiritual” teachers.  Many of them are showing where they are just human too. Most of us are taught that being a grown up looks like being successful, owning a house, having children and starting a family or simply having some authority over something or someone.  It is all that but the part we forget about is learning how to grow up emotionally and take responsibility for how we feel, what we say, how we treat others, the actions we take or don’t take that create the outcomes in our lives. 

Yes I know, it’s all in there in the spiritual teachings.  Be kind to others and speak with integrity.  Blah, blah, blah. I was a master at spiritual bypassing.  It all sounds beautiful and blissful until you actually take the teachings and apply them to your everyday life, especially to the people that trigger you the most.  That is the real work. We all have our blind spots. Mine was big and that is why I’m convinced we need accountability people in our lives. People who can call us out and show us where we are not taking accountability. Those are true friends and allies.

I had this thought today of giving away all my yoga and self help books, my buddhas and dieties and letting go of all my stones and crystals.  It’s still just an idea. I’m not sure I’d actually do it. They have all been great teachers for me and yet, I don’t feel the need for them in the same way anymore.  I trust they are all within me and always will be. 

When I first came to yoga I was an athlete.  I could barely touch my toes.  My muscles were tight but strong.  But mostly, my body learned how to armor in an effort to feel safe.  When I came to yoga for the first time, stiff as I was, I noticed a sense of elongation in my muscles that gave me a new feeling inside.  It felt so good to feel space in my joints and muscles and it was the beginning of me as an adult remembering how to feel again.

When we affect the body we affect the self.  Over time, when we keep exploring our relationship with our bodies, we observe all the stories and narratives we carry in the structure of our bodies.  We hunch our shoulders forward is an effort to protect our sensitive feelings.  We push our hips forward out of pride, so we don’t have to feel our true power.

Through Yoga, Rolfing and other somatic practices, we work on literally reshaping or rebuilding your body.  We start by disorganizing the old shape through movement, conversation, bodily practices and when possible, bodywork. This interrupts the old pattern, and in doing this you begin to reorganize your body.  You can then create the new embodiment needed to support you in being the person you desire. It can literally change the way you feel about yourself and how you are in the world.  I went from being shy and introverted to feeling an inner confidence and vitality simply by how I related to my body.

Practice

Try this simple practice of standing with your feet a few inches apart, arms by your sides.  Close your eyes and bring your attention inside.  Notice your whole posture and how its supported by the feet. Then rest your attention down into your feet.  Notice if you are collapsing to the inner or outer edges or if you are to far forward or back.  Then work to balance the weight evenly through the activation of your arches by spreading the toes and leaning your weight forward and back until you find center.  Notice what it feels like to stand balances in your feet.  Do you have a better sense of your self?  Do you feel more grounded and present by standing firmly in and on your own two feet?

A few years ago, one of my yoga teachers shared a wisdom that has sat with me ever since. She said, “When we get older we need to get quiet and still.  We have to let the inner body expand out more.  This is the work.”

This was at a time where I was starting to feel my body in a different way but wasn’t quite ready to hear it.  My joints were starting to feel a little less mobile and showing up for my practice in the same way was feeling like a lot of effort. Hearing this in that moment was invaluable because it gave me the wisdom to start listening in a different way to my body.  I could feel how I was still pushing to keep up with my younger self. Though I could feel my body wanting to move in a different way, I was still willing my shoulders to open instead of inviting the opening to occur from within.

 

I’ve spent so much of my life pushing, particularly my body even through my yoga practice.  I was gifted a strong, athletic body and it can become a crutch in a way, pushing and willing my way through things. The last year and a half, I have felt stretched on so many levels.  My husband has had some major health issues that have required me to show up in different ways.  My younger son lost a very close friend suddenly and my oldest son became a teenager and mothering has been challenging in whole new ways.  With all of this is going on I turned 50 and felt the pressure of age on my side.  It’s been a big and challenging time for many of us who have chosen a path that is committed to growth and evolution and the older I get the more I realize it takes slowing down and turning inward to resource that deeper well of life force energy. .

 

I am grateful for this strength that has carried me through these last years and I am learning how to manage my life force energy so that I can live from a vibrant, healthy and resourced place.  It’s so beautiful to get more quiet and still.  There is so much there in the spaciousness.  I took a deep breath and softened from inside.  I felt vulnerable, almost teary around how much I’ve relied on that strength.  Then I softened again and opened to the energy expanding from inside out.

 

Old patterns are shedding for me and I am grateful for the wise woman teachers I have access to as I go through these subtle but huge changes in my body and the way I expend energy in my life.  It’s early December and I am coming up on my birthday and the end of my 50th year and I feel better than I ever had on so many levels.  I took a walk today in the fresh snowfall, aware of the bright blue sky and cold, invigorating winter air.  I listened. The warm sun was on my face and I tuned into the peaceful nature of life, receiving all that I needed, exhaling my breath and letting go of any effort to get somewhere or do something. My exhale reminded me that all is well. I am alive in this body, breathing with the rest of existence and that I am grateful for. At least for this moment and any moment I choose to rest there.

 

 

 

Here are just a few ways:

  • Study yourself intimately and practice self love. This is the practice of inner Svadyaya. Know your shadow and where you feel limited. Until you have done the inner work required, the attempt to raise your vibration will be in vain.
  • Be humble and unwavering in your commitment.
  • Have some sort of physical practice to move energy.  Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong, dance.
  • Be and think positive:  The universe operates as vibrational frequency. Positive thinking is lighter than negative thinking. Only say positive things about people.
  • Connect with nature: Nurture your relationship with the spirit of plants and animals.  Connect with their frequency of vibration.
  • Eat well: Eat food that is light, peak and well balanced.
  • Laugh as much as possible: Don’t take yourself seriously. In order to raise your vibration you have to be light and laughter makes you lighter.  When you are too serious, you get caught into the mental plane and that energy is  heavy. So have fun as much as possible.
  • Be of service to other people. It makes you feel better and raise your vibration.
  • Touch and contact. Can be hugs, massage, lovemaking, holding you children.
  • Practice meditation.

Even now, after 30 years of yoga practice, as I write this article I realize the impact that a scarcity mindset and shame have had on my life. Questions swirl in my mind like… Am I good enough? Are people going to like me? Am I going to be criticized or judged for my work and what I have to say?

 

For a long time, I kept the shame safe and hidden… and as far out of sight of the public eye as possible. My logic was that if I hide and keep myself composed, I’ll be safer and won’t have to deal with the pain of being judged. Hiding, however, ultimately caused me more pain and suffering. Why? The short answer is that I wasn’t living authentically. I was cutting a part of myself off and therefore, wasn’t being real with myself or anyone else. How I started to feel on the inside began to reflect my outer circumstances. Less people showed up for my yoga classes. My private client work felt flat and my world starting to cave in on me. All of my old tactics of staying strong forced me to look deeper. What I saw was painful, ugly and hard to swallow but my practice gave me the courage to go inside and deal.

 

What shifted? I got tired of listening to the voice that didn’t align with who I was choosing to be NOW. One of the big things that has helped me come to this new place has been to know that I’m not alone. We all have an inner critic that comes up at times in our life to help us grow. I was at a talk last week with Lynn Twist, Author of “The Soul of Money”, and she spoke of the scarcity mindset that is embedded in our western culture. This belief that we are not enough is woven into the very fabric of who we are and, even though it is not true, we all have work to do around this issue.

 

How does this play out in our daily lives? We wake up with not enough sleep, jacking our bodies with caffeine and rushing around as if we don’t have enough time. We create stress around not having enough money to buy all the things we think we need in order to feel like we are enough. We’ve ultimately been conditioned to live from a deeply un-resourced place and to feel like there is never enough. As a result, we have created all kinds of money issues, body image issues, addiction, anxiety and depression to try and fill that place that can’t seem to get enough.

 

I grew up in a white, upper middle class family in Westchester, New York. One would think as a privileged white girl, I would be have a good sense of myself and yet I entered my teenage years, feeling like I wasn’t enough. I had many of the typical challenges of a young teenage girl—I didn’t feel smart enough, pretty enough or thin enough— I compared myself to others and found my value in how I looked rather than how I felt. I learned how to put up masks and walls and repress my feelings and emotions so I didn’t have to feel what was under the surface; unworthiness.

 

 

At age 21, however, I lost my mother to cancer and everything changed… just a few months later I found yoga and it was a blessing that altered my life. Practicing daily and getting in touch with my body allowed me to begin the process of feeling who I was, possibly for the first time. Over the years, being more and more present in my body and with my emotions helped me move from self-judgment and low self-worth to appreciating and understanding my humanness. It also allowed me to connect to a bigger source outside of myself giving me the understanding that I was not separate.

 

Another big turning point for me was when I came across the teachings of Lakshmi through Tantric teachers Douglas Brooks and Sally Kempton. Lakshmi is the Hindu Goddess of abundance and prosperity. Her mythic story reflects that true character comes not from external beauty but from being willing to take all parts of ourselves, including the dark, shadowy, disowned parts, and churn them through yoga and mantra using the dark stuff as medicine to heal. The first time I heard this, I was blown away. Up until then, my identity was wrapped up in my external beauty and thought that showing pain and vulnerability was associated with weakness.

 

These teachings allowed me to get real with myself and look at the deep shame I was carrying by hiding from my shadow. It was profound how I was able to turn my vulnerable feelings into strength and then be able to help others work through their deepest patterns and triggers.

 

Most of us that live in the western world participate on some level with the “not enough” mindset. If we are willing to look deeper at how we participate in that we can consciously choose to change. Change begins with each of us. When we feel into our inner worthiness we can’t help but to then offer love, kindness and generosity to the world. It literally spills out of us. What we appreciate then appreciates. What we focus on then expands. It’s the real practice of abundance—to cultivate and feel resourced from the inside out.

How do we practice feeling this?? The practices of mindfulness and yoga can give us the tools we need to help us remember our wholeness.

 

Slow down. Feel what’s just under the surface for you. In your busy day, take a few moments and stop what you are doing. Close your eyes and simply receive your breath. Practice the 4 part breath by inhaling and exhaling to the count of 4 with a slight pause between breaths. As you inhale, appreciate the breath filling your lungs with oxygen. As you exhale, let go of unnecessary tension. If you spend time in your car, a great time to practice is while stopped at a red light. Notice any anxiety, fear, anger or any other emotion arise. Simply give it space and then let it go with your out breath. This simple practice teaches us to be present with what is and, ultimately, that’s where we change the stuck patterns in the mind.

 

Practice mantra. If you notice you are comparing yourself to others, catch yourself and then practice focusing on the things you love about yourself and your life. Then try slowly chanting the mantra “Shrim” to invoke Lakshmi’s energy or simply repeat “I am enough!” as you feel your inner being fill up and radiate like the sun. Mantra helps us focus the mind so we can shift the unconscious patterns.

 

 

Spend time in nature. Nature is naturally generous and full of vital life force energy, especially in springtime. It offers an abundance of beauty and nourishment. Take a moment in your day to sit quietly in the sun or by a creek and simply appreciate the beauty and peace being offered.

 

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As you practice these simple things on a daily basis, you will start to notice your energy shift from scarcity to appreciation and gratitude. From that place, we can be a great contribution to each other and the planet!!

 

Namaste,

Alison

 

LAKSHMI  LOVE ~ 5 week nourishing series for women.

Lakshmi is a Hindu Goddess who represents abundance and the principle of Shri,  the unlimited resource that always gives.

She’s the outpouring of Amrita, the elixir of life!!

As women, all too often we give our energy out without first tapping in and allowing ourselves to connect and receive that very potent energy within our bodies. When we do, we find there is always enough and more.

Spring is the time to awaken this energy within us as her fullness is evidenced in the abundance and beauty arising all around us.

Women, come and nourish your beautiful self as we…..
cleanse our thoughts, deepen our breath and lighten up for the Spring season!.

When??  Friday mornings 9-10:30am to reset and kick off Spring feeling fully resourced and alive! Begins April 6 at my home studio in downtown Boulder.

What Will I Receive?  Yoga practice to strengthen and balance your body. Mantra and chanting to focus your mind.  Writing practices to clarify your intentions., Nutritional guidelines to cleanse and nourish your body.

How Much? $100.00 or $22 for drop in if there is space

Where? The Lakshmi Temple (My home studio 474 Marine Street)

When?  Friday mornings 9-10:30 am. April 6th-May 11th (No Class April 27th)

Please contact Alison at [email protected] to reserve your spot. Space is limited!

Today, I let go.  I let go of all the resistance inside my being to the beauty of what is. I take a breath as I open to the rays of the warm sun. It feels like dipping in a warm pool of water.  I feel the layers of tension in my body let go.  I say yes to more spaciousness and freedom and remember that I have choice. I can choose to go into unconscious patterns of tension or choose consciousness and keep opening to the possibility of the moment and let grace descend. Thank you breath, thank you sun and thank you infinite sky!!!

 

“When you surrender to what is
and so become fully present,
the past ceases to have any power.
The realm of being, which had been obscured
by the mind, then opens up.
Suddenly, a great stillness arises within you,
An unfathomable sense of peace.
And within that peace, there is great joy.
And within that joy, there is love.
And at the innermost core, there is the sacred,
The immeasurable. That which cannot be named.

~Eckhart Tolle