You may have heard the word ahimsa, but weren’t quite sure what it meant. That was me. Then my yoga instructor talked about it one night before we started our class practice. Now, in the face of all the violence making the headlines and the havoc raised by folks drenched in hate, I’m trying to embrace ahimsa more than ever.
Winter is an interesting time for me — well, more specifically, an interesting time for my feet. I love summer because of the ease of slipping my toes into a pair of flip-flops and floppin’ around unencumbered by shoes. In fact, during cold months I wear winter’s flip-flop equivalent, moccasins; a shoe that is as close to a non-shoe as it gets.
In fact, one of the main reasons that I love teaching yoga as a profession is because I get to be barefoot for a living! There is something so freeing when my toes are unbound from the claustrophobic nature of high heels, tennis shoes, boots, mary janes … you name it! When my toes feel the freedom to roam, I find that my spirit has that same permission. The sense of adventure that I feel when I am liberated from the shackles of my shoes is only matched by the abundant bliss that I feel when I am out in nature, spontaneously and effortlessly awakened by the wild untamed natural world.
There is one exception to this no-shoe strategy I tend to live by: my hiking boots. When my feet inhabit these shoes, my sprit soars straight to its inherent wildness. Of course, it isn’t the shoes, per se, that illicit this magnificent response, it is what the shoes represent: trees, trails, birds, bees, sunrises, sunsets, mountains, moose, rivers, rocks … you get the idea. This wildness is as much as state of being as it is a location, in the wild, animate world. When I’m not on my yoga mat, this is certainly where you will find me — winding my way through the wide-open woods.
Tina Turner sang the successful song “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” Basically, it asked, “Why have a heart when a heart can be broken?”
In a way, I understand the feeling.
A lot of us have had our hearts broken. Many of us more than once. So, now here we are in February and reminders of Valentine’s Day are everywhere. It forces us to think about our relationship status. Are we someone’s valentine? Will we be someone’s valentine? Will our relationship Karma ever change? Will love finally come to us or continue to elude us?
Ever felt yourself going through the motions of a yoga pose without focus or purpose? I think most yogis who’ve been practicing for a while have this experience, at least sometimes.
Several years ago, I found myself rushing through the Sun Salutation, praying for the series to end so I could move on to asanas I enjoyed more. I hated the way the pose strained my wrist and left me breathless, and it seemed to take forever to get through five or six of them. But since appreciating whatever you’re doing is a key spiritual teaching, I knew I had to do something to change my perspective.
Recently, I committed to a deeper spiritual practice. It included contemplating and releasing anything that did not support my highest good. Every morning, 45 minutes was dedicated to only this aspect of my practice. What came forward was a very old belief that no longer served me. I decided to acknowledge and consciously surrender it.
The amazing thing is that shifts began to take place immediately. As I listened and opened to embracing the old paradigm, something else moved in. It was a question: “Are you living in the YES?”
The fall season is generally a time for harvesting crops. It is the time of year for seeing what has grown from the seeds that have been planted and then moving the harvest into storage for the winter. I was thinking about what I am harvesting at this time in my life, and what came is that I am harvesting a myriad of blessings.
When my children were small, I would give them “time outs” to contemplate their behavior after a challenging experience. The intention was to support them in having time to gain clarity on the consequences of their actions. It didn’t always work, but it did support all of us in stopping for a short time to gain composure.
Once a month, I meet with eight of my closest friends. We are more than just friends. We know everything about each other, and we coach each other on living big. Lauren is the one who directs the meetings, and the work we do is based on the method of life coaching she developed called “The Handel Method.” I have been coached by her for about six years now.