This week I express gratitude for the therapeutic value of music when it comes to calming and centering yourself.
On the way home from work today I listened to Cloud Cult and there are two particular songs I have come to love, after a fellow trainee in my YTT class shared one of her favorites.
It is called The Show Starts Now and it brought tears to my eyes when I heard it. The message was one I needed to hear. My heart was very full that day, and the song resonated with the knowledge that my yoga sisters and I were leaving this lovely experience behind. We are now moving to another phase of our personal work and teaching practice.
I explored other songs on the same album. You’re the Only Thing In Your Way was another one with a message I needed to hear. Sometimes poetry and music can express and help you process emotions in a way that no other medium can reach. Perhaps this is why social movements always seem to rely on the collective experience of music to unite people.
Another lovely piece that I wish could become an anthem for all women is I Am Enough by Daphne Willis.
Rhythm and resonance have the power to move us all.
What music resonates with you when you are in a place of tenderness?
Have you ever spent time gazing deeply into someone’s eyes while they were talking with you? Really paying attention to every word, doing your best to understand?
Rather than interrupt with question or let your mind wander off into its stories (the way minds do), you truly tried to feel the emotion behind their words?
If you have, then you might know what I mean about the power of deep listening to heal many ills of the world. As humans, we deeply yearn to be seen and understood by other sentient beings. It is deeply wired into our survival DNA as a species.
When we feel seen and deeply appreciated by another human being, we start to mirror back that feeling toward the world. We connect more deeply with others around us, and we start to heal the wounds we all carry, personally and collectively.
I have to admit that listening deeply is something I have not practiced as consistently as I would like with loved ones. Listening without judgment and with true curiosity is an art and a practice. It requires awareness of your own mind, and the ability to stay present and return even when you feel distracted.
All I know is that when I listen deeply to people, whether my family or my coworkers or colleagues, I am transformed as well. When I have made that connection with intention to deeply understand not just the words but the emotion behind them, all of my relationships improve.
In an era where it is too easy to be distracted, try deeply listening to someone today. Ignore the pings and dings from your phone. Set aside the opinions and judgments. Just watch how this practice brings greater joy and ease to your life and your work.
For my blog readers who live in the Twin Cities area, here’s an opportunity to get 50% off early-bird registration for my first actual yoga class that is open to the public. It is part of my certification requirement to teach a 5-hour series over a period of time so I can watch an average of 6 “bodies” make progress over time.
I set up my registration info right after I finished my last yoga weekend. All of my YTT-200 teachers will have access to the discount as well, as I truly would love feedback on my teaching. I will need a consistent group so I am pricing this series as a package.
I humbly appreciate it if you spread the word to anyone you know who could benefit from such an opportunity. The sign-up link is here. Use the coupon code TULA50 to get half off the registration by September 15th.
If you cannot commit just yet, there is another coupon code listed in the brochure for signing up by the 25th of this month. Most of the fee goes to overhead for the lovely space and rental of regular yoga props gratefully furnished by Tula Yoga & Wellness.
Thank you for helping me become a better teacher through this experience!
This is an edited piece posted originally August of 2018. Now that I’ve arrived at a new position at the University, I realize that the assessment phase feels like a bit of a labyrinth.
After a morning appointment in St. Paul I decided to make a stop at the College of St. Catherine in order to walk the labyrinth.
Have you ever walked a labyrinth? I considered taking a photo while there but I was without electronic devices on my walk, so I did not. However, I found a great article on how to meditate in a labyrinth, so I am cribbing a photo from that, and the link as well.
I used the walk as a meditative experience, starting from the outside and following the path toward the inside. Then I spent some time on the inside, taking a few deep breaths, and slowly walked back out again. I walked barefoot, and did not worry about the acorns that occasionally stabbed my feet. I did nudge away a few small branches that had fallen along the path to make it easier for the next person’s journey.
My intention was to reflect and consider the big changes happening in my life, the opportunities that are ahead, and any possible fears I was holding. It was a walking meditation, a slow and intentional trip back and forth through the “folds” of the labyrinth. It occurred to me how little I knew about meditation last time I had walked it a decade ago. Yet repeating it gave me sacred feeling both times.
As we traverse through life, our paths are rarely linear. Some of them meander and fold back on themselves. Some of them seem to go in spirals, and we wonder: Are we in the same place AGAIN? But really we are never in the same place twice. Even if an event seems similar, or we seem to repeat a mistake we have made before, we are not exactly the same people this time.
Our lived experiences give us a different context. This is why I love the work of Marion Woodman so much. She understands that many of us learn in a non-linear way. We forget things we have learned, or sometimes we must re-apply lesson we have learned, but in a different way, or in a different relationship.
Our learning and wisdom are never lost, even though it may seem like we did not absorb a lesson the first time. Maybe we are ready to learn in a new way. Maybe there was resistance the first time, and we were not ready to complete lesson. We receive multiple opportunities and invitations for our souls to expand and grow.
The journey inward allows us to check our soul’s intentions. The journey back outward allows us to live our ultimate purpose. This is the essence of a life well-lived.
This is an edited post I wrote in July of 2018. As I have decided to take an August sabbatical from writing new content while finishing my YTT certification, I am reading and editing some pieces from my 2018 archive. Hope you enjoy!
One of my favorite guided meditations is spoken by Sarah Blondin on Insight Timer called “I would like to give you permission.” It is about the ways in which we tend to hide our true selves from the world, and I think it was originally recorded for the Live Awake podcast.
Sometimes we have a good reason we hide our true selves (Martha Beck would call this the essential self vs the social self). Most of the time it is because we have been taught to act “appropriately” or to hide our feelings. These are often well-intentioned pieces of advice, but they may not serve our highest good.
There is a line in this particular meditation that moves me: “Force no pain away, for it is all conspiring to bring you home.” What I like about this is the fact that we must embrace our feelings, admit them to ourselves, in order to be fully human. To push them away, or not to acknowledge our sadness, pain or discomfort, is to run away from our experience. We often do this in an attempt to be more positive, or because we think we should not experience negative emotions.
But emotions are just vibrations in the body, and we are likely to experience about half and half, positive and negative. It is the contrast between these emotions that makes joy so sweet. There is nothing wrong with us when we experience sadness or grief. These are normal and appropriate parts of being human. Getting angry at injustice can help us realize when we need to take action, for example.
When I consider how my emotions bring me home to myself, and I understand what thoughts drive these emotions, I fully claim my experience. There is no need for denial or resistance of these feelings. Indeed they provide the compass for a live well lived.