Yoga is a journey. There may or may not be a clearly defined beginning, but there is absolutely, positively no end.Read More
When I first began practicing yoga, the epiphanies came fast and furious. It was all so new. I was hearing ideas that I’d never heard before. I was hearing music I’d never heard before. I was moving in ways I’d never moved before. But mostly, I was finding a peaceful contentment that I hadn’t felt before… let alone anticipated…or was even looking for. I was on a path that felt true, and I did not want the journey to end. And I now know that it never will.
If anyone had told me 20+ years ago that one day I would 1) be a yoga teacher, 2) own a yoga studio, or 3) be in business with my daughter, I would have 1) sneered a derisive sneer, 2) shrieked with laughter, and 3) taken another sip of my beer. It’s not that I am not a candidate for such titles, it’s simply that I had never imagined it, let alone aspired to such. Yet here I am. After putting one foot in front of the other, this is where I am. After taking to my mat, learning to breathe, and turning inward, this is blessedly, thankfully where I am. And I have my first teacher to thank for that, as the one phrase that she often repeated became my mantra: Trust the process.
It is said that “yoga is a journey of the self, through the self, to the self”. There should be an asterisk at the end that notes, “…and it’s going to simultaneously rock your world, amaze you, frighten you, baffle you, and open your heart in ways you’d never imagined. But trust the process, because it is so worth it.”
Many of you are just beginning your yoga journey. Some have been at it for long enough to sagely nod your head in agreement of that previous quote. Wherever you are on the path, whether you practice once a week, or hit your mat every morning at 5:00 am, you are on the path. And whether you “feel all the feels” all the time is inconsequential. Once you have set foot on your mat, you are on the path. And everything that happens from that point on is part of the process.
It’s not always easy to see the process working. You might feel a little stronger after having committed to a power/flow class once a week, and actually stuck to it. And maybe you felt a little pat on your back as you found yourself taking deep breaths while waiting patiently for the stoplight to change. I’ll never forget the first time I picked up a spider and returned it to it’s more appropriate environment outside, as opposed to stomping it to a heartless death in my kitchen. I did NOT see that coming. The subtle process at work.
So, wherever you are on your journey, know that there will be twists and turns, mind-boggling surprises, and possibilities that are endless. Perhaps the words I share in this, and future posts about my yoga journey will support you on yours, and make you think, make you smile, or make you shake your head. Who knows? Just like you, I’m putting one foot in front of the other. Enjoy the ride, yogis. Stay on your mat, open your heart, and by all means, trust the process.
Hello Lighthouse Light-Keepers and Light-Shiners!
Perhaps you have noticed that our blog page has been somewhat…hmm…feeble sounds pretty harsh….so shall I say, tame? The weekly, if not daily postings we had been advised to strive toward might have been a little overzealous, as we found it difficult to meet those lofty ambitions. We did our best to find a consistency for such an undertaking, but all too often it was banished the bottom of the to do list.
As we move in to our third year, it has been suggested that it might be time to reconsider and resurrect the initial blog intent, but maybe take it down a notch. A monthly post sounds do-able, and a quarterly post seems absolutely, positively attainable. So let’s do this!
In an effort to ease the burden from Bridget being the sole blogger, you can expect to see posts from a few others in the Lighthouse community. I am honored to have first dibs. Give me a minute, and I'll figure out how to post it (insert snarky picture of me...I'll figure that out in due time also).
As a personal rule for my own sanity I stay out of politics, and I don’t usually talk about my education. Not because I am not proud of it, I am very proud to have graduated from Creighton University. I received an excellent education. But as a yoga teacher/studio owner, I always joke about how I don’t use my degree. And often I tell people I majored in history, just because it’s easier than explaining what I really studied.
The truth is I use my degree all the time. It has shaped me as a person, taught me how to see beyond the surface of problems, and emphasized the importance of being a just and inclusive member of society.
I majored in American Studies with an emphasis on racial relations. My classes included topics about immigration, social injustice, regulation of development, white privilege, diversity, and the making of America. It was not glamorous. Often, what I was learning about was heartbreaking, and the system seemed so locked, the racism so embedded in people’s heart that I graduated thinking I couldn't change much of anything. So, I set most of what I learned aside and went off in selfish pursuit of my own peace. I am proud to say that I have done a great deal of self-study and found a sense of peace that may waver, but for the most part I can always find my way back to. However, there is a part of my healing that is incomplete because it is deeply intertwined with the healing of our nation, and really, the healing of humanity.
Over the last two years I have observed us, the American people...us, humans...a little more closely. Watching our issues, our inability to relate, difficulties accepting each other, differences of opinions creating hate, and downright injustices taking place. Sadly, and truly, it’s nothing new. As I quietly observed I have found myself remembering my classes, the textbooks, and the stories that explained the roots of all these problems. The roots are so deep and very tangled. I am gravitating back to my studies. Re-reading some of the books I found illuminating 10 years ago and seeing if there’s anything I missed. I am all for looking forward rather than backward, but we cannot go anywhere if we don't understand the gap holding us back from evolving as humans.
There are lots of bridges to repair, issues to address: economic division, racial segregation, inequality, unfair policies, poverty, violence, political insanity, unheard voices, and more. I believe we are at pivotal moment in history. One of my professors might say, "These are defining times".
Today, I encourage you to ask yourself, How are you defining these times? What part do you play in this pivotal moment in history? Do you stand on one side of a bridge? Are you digging a wider gap beneath it? Are you knocking bridges down? Or working to build a better more durable one?
If you are like me, you might be staring frustratedly at something that is clearly broken, but you don't know where the problem is and you have no idea how to fix it. That's okay. The first way to fix anything, is to understand why its broken. Start by educating yourself. Pick up a book! Listen to a podcast! Have conscious respectful conversations with people who think differently than you, with people who look different than you, and with people who have a different social and/or economic background than you. The picture above shows some of my favorite books from my extremely thorough education. And I fully recognize that being able to receive the education I did is in part because of my white privilege. But we live in the age of information. There are SO many more books, podcasts, and resources out there for FREE! Find them. Communicate. Educating ourselves is like gathering the tools we need to rebuild a better more peaceful world.
I believe in Oneness. And I believe we can dissolve our issues and work together. I believe we can bridge America to be a place of peace, integrated diversity, true equality, inclusivity, and radical freedom. I believe we are in a evolutional era not just in our country, but within the human species as well. I believe we are progressing toward collaboration, understanding, and wholeness. And unlike how I felt as a young graduate, I now believe that I can make a difference and contribute to this beautiful expansion and rise of the conscious collective. And I believe you can too. So, let's do this. Let's bridge these gaps. Let's heal...together.
There’s a tree in my backyard that has been dying for sometime...I spent a great deal of time near this tree. Swinging over its roots, reading against its trunk, and staring into its mystery. Sometimes, I would swing and think of everything. Other times, I would sway and think of nothing. Days spent in smiles and nights marked by tears lay under the branches. All the while, the tree held this all-knowing wisdom. At the first signs of sickness, I was devastated. "Why MY tree?"Read More
The other day my mom and I were having a conversation about Glennon Doyle Melton’s Warrior books, and the ideas of laying down our armor, unbecoming what we’ve been taught, and sharing the raw hidden parts of ourselves. Glennon’s blogs about vulnerability and authenticity have spoken deeply to me, as you might have guessed from my last blog. At this point in my life, this notion of dropping shields and opening my bleeding heart to the world is second nature to me. I was surprised when my mom probed the question, "But isn't it important to have soooome armor to protect yourself, so you don't get hurt? I mean, you don't have to lay it all down do you?"
I could see the concern in my mother’s eyes and her rooted want to protect me from pain. Like every mom, I’ve always known my mother hates to see her beloved children suffer. My sister’s despair, my brother’s distress, and my desolation are my mother’s greatest and deepest pain. The conversation unleashed a flood of thoughts about humanity’s severe aversion to pain. We aim to be freed from suffering, and avoid discomfort at all costs. We fear it. But, why?
Pema Chodron says, “Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.”
Could pain and suffering lead us closer to truth? What would happen if we embraced our grief with gratitude the way we sing praise for our joy? Is it possible to see unhappiness as the doorway to peace? Sorrow, the gift to unwrap happiness. Heartbreak, the answer to more love.
A few years ago, I was hitting the mat hard, strengthening my asana practice, so, naturally, the universe sent me something to slow me down. I fell onto broken glass and cut my leg open. It was my first time getting stitches, and I had to get 38 of them. There goes that handstand I almost had. Frustration, anger, and depression took their seat inside me as I longed to move my body and resented the flappy sewn-up skin of my leg. It was a nasty wound. The kind even the doctor’s knew wouldn’t heal pretty. I had to clean and re-bandage it multiple times a day. Once the initial bitterness wore off I started to become curious about the wound. I would poke at it. Ow. And pick it. Gross. And eventually I started proudly showing it off to people. Look at this badass cut!
And then, it started to heal. I was fascinated! Look at my body…it’s healing itself! How does it do this? It was incredible. People would ask, did it hurt? And I would say yes, but I really don’t remember it. The initial worst pain had passed. I was reminded that pain is impermanent, temporary. I also learned that I can heal. My body has an innate healing system in itself. All I had to do was pay attention to the wound. Wash it, examine it, check in with it, give it my time and energy, and my body would take care of the rest.
Looking back at that time, I wonder: What if we did that with all our wounds? What if we invited the pain in with curiosity, trusting and knowing that this, like everything in our lives, is just another teacher? Because it’s usually a really good teacher.
The injury on my leg was physically painful, but personally, I think emotional pain is harder. Still, it’s a teacher. It can be examined and mined for golden nuggets of wisdom. Each time I survive heartache, there’s a part of me that stands a little taller. It’s like the pain has destroyed everything false and left only the truth. And the truth is that I am so much stronger than I thought. There is a part of me that no pain, suffering, or trauma can destroy.
Pema Chodron also said, “Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible in us be found.”
So, back to my vulnerability discussion with my mom. My answer to do we really need to lay it all out there is why not? No, you don't have to lay it all down. But we can handle more than we think. I refuse to hold back because of potential pain. Of course, I don’t wish for pain. But I’m not scared of it anymore. Sometimes, I put myself out there unprotected with a target on my head. And sometimes, people shoot. They take the open punch. And it hurts. And I cry. And the pain is so hard it feels unbearable. But then I bear it. I survive.
My mom can’t protect me from the world, but I hope she knows that she raised a woman brave enough to take whatever is thrown at her. I’ll take the impermanent pain, sit with it, examine it, and use it to destroy the veil that separates me from my infinite, impenetrable Self. Besides, I’m a yogi, not a weight lifter, and armor is heavy.
Walking in this world without armor is hard, and pain is inevitable. But as Glennon says, “you can do hard things”, and it’s all temporary. In the words of Rumi,
Live where you fear to live.
Destroy your reputation.
Thus, I surrender my shield and my weapons, and I open my heart to pain; I will sit with it, look closer, and examine where it hurts, how it hurts, why it hurts. I will invite it in as a friend, curl up with a cup of tea, breathe, and settle with the wound and a journal nearby to extract those precious diamonds of truth yielded from the dark coals of pain. Because I know I can take it. Because I know the truest parts of me will survive. And because I know…I will heal.
I can't promise that I will always be my best self, but I promise that I will always show up…raw, real, and vulnerable.Read More