Sunday, February 26, 2012

10 Days of Yoga: I've Learned To Breathe

A few weeks ago, I found myself heartbroken. I subsequently found--no, rediscovered by a friend's reminder--a donation-based yoga class held in a park walking distance from my home. I found I was out of my mind, realizing that I'd done just what I did at the age of 20 and had changed myself to make some guy right for me. I found I needed to breathe. I found, quite honestly, that I needed to be found!

And isn't that what yoga is about?

I started attending these park sessions. It was in some hip-opening stretch that I found myself listening to the instructor state something that I'd never once considered: that it was okay to be uncomfortable. I cried just a little in silence, my chest heaving as I exhaled as instructed. Then, with the next breath inward, that sadness, to whatever degree, was gone and those words were forever in my body.

I. was. addicted!

Day 10 in-a-row of yoga, and I've rediscovered a more colorful side of myself and realized how actually balanced the true me is. It is only when I try to align myself with who I think another wants me to be that I lose that vibrant nature.

I've noticed a shift in my body's balance, where I used to walk on my heels, I now find myself walking more towards the center of my feet, closer to the ball.

I've noticed my shoulders rolled a little further back and my heart "exposed." It's a vulnerable feeling but one that I somehow know is worth it.

And today, finally, as is one of the ultimate goals in yoga, I have rediscovered my lungs! How easy it is to have that feeling of release of breath! I used to treasure that feeling so much as a child. I'd look forward to those deep breaths in, where I'd breathe out and it would feels as if the whole world had changed.

Like a tingle of hope had crawled in through my nose, ventured down my throat, into my heart, down through the rest of my body, and gathered up any darkness that was residing in me to be released with that next exhale.

Like when a toddler has finished sobbing out their angst and has taken in air through their mouth , several breaths within one, and then has breathed it all out in one huff of air, releasing all the tension.

I've rediscovered that ability to self-release, which is a truly priceless feeling that I am presently treasuring.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Facebook-Free for 43

Day One:

I've given up Facebook "for Lent," though it isn't really for Lent at all.

The truth is that my friend Kristina posted that, although she was not Catholic, she was taking on her friend's challenge to give up Facebook for the duration of Lent. I was somewhat taken aback when I read the last sentence of the brief status update on the popular social networking site: "see you in early April!"

I sat looking at my little iPhone screen, blinking perplexedly. I wondered at first, is this a joke? And then I thought briefly, maybe I should do that.

The thoughts rushed through my head. No posting photos? That thought kept echoing in my brain. No posting my thoughts! That would be tough, too. My friends! How would I keep in touch with my friends? The answer was phone calls, text, e-mails. You know, real, quality one-on-one communication.

I then thought about how much anxiety it was causing me to think about giving up this little website for so many days, and that's when I realized just how beneficial it would probably be to to do so and take a step back. In the long run, forty-some days goes by quickly, and is nothing. All it would require of me is self-discipline, something I am practicing having more of these days, anyhow. It would be a big change, but if everything else in my gosh-darned life is changing, why not this, too?

So here it is on day one without Facebook. My fingers rove compulsively over my iPhone's face in search for that pretty little blue "f" button that would instantly plug me into the lives of all of those around me. But it was gone, deleted temporarily from my little digital device.

I wake up to Facebook, I waste my day to Facebook, I walk from class to class with Facebook, I go to bed with Facebook. It'll be interesting to discover what I see and who I meet when my face isn't buried in an application as I walk though these FORTY THREE days of no Facebook.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

"Feeling" It.

I woke up yesterday and carefully chose an inspirational card that felt right. Let me say, it was perfect.

The card reminded me that I can only focus on my own happiness, and not on that of others. I looked down at my deep colorful patch bag that I got years ago, when I was in massage school or freshly out of it, observed the yoga mat inside of it and smiled. It occurred to me just how much I like my life, even if it is, at times, uncomfortable.

I'm not sure why it is so easy for me to abandon something that I feel this strongly about time after time after time. For me to be inspired and motivated enough to get up earlier than I usually enjoy waking just to be sure that I am productive and am able to make it to a morning yoga class, is actually a pretty strong statement.

I love the experience of stretching my body and my soul. The moments that I am forced to have inner dialog with it, mastering myself with every thought that comes into mind. A negative thought comes in, I beat it down with breath and release it from my muscles and my brain. Sometimes it exits with a single salty tear from my eye and a quiver in my lip. Other times it leaves gently with my exhale. Others, with a heave and a struggle to let it go. I can feel my muscles holding that emotion back, thinking it needs it to be strong. What I really need is to let it go because it all makes me weak and heavy. When all I am is light.

The true essence of me is a spiritual, deep being, emotional and knowing.

And I know it's silly, but I am reminded of this every time that I look at my colorful bag hanging on my scarf ladder in my room. It hangs there with my yoga mat and my huge water bottle beckoning me to remember and re-embrace the happy, grounded, spiritual girl that I lost when I was 23 years old.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Abundance From A Park & Some Breath

“There is a man-made concept called lack. It does not exist. Some of us may feel lack, but it is a false perception. There is no such thing as lack. Our lives are overwhelmingly abundant.”

My favorite yoga instructor has said this in two separate sessions that I have attended. Usually it comes just at the moment that I’m stretching myself so that my body is screaming at me to stop; that it’s going to break if I push it any further, and I am feeling just that: lack. A lack in ability to cope with discomfort, both physically and emotionally. Once, just when I was thinking this, that same instructor said “It is okay to be uncomfortable,” and it was such a mind-blowing concept that it brought me to tears. Perhaps it was the fact that my hip was aching and pulling at where it attaches on my pelvic bone that also helped to bring about those little tiny droplets of salt water from my eyes. None-the-less it was a very prominent moment in my present-day life. I keep replaying it.

To realize that life isn’t always beautiful and easy and comfortable was one thing. However, coupled with the idea that there is no such thing as lack, the concept becomes completely different! That, for me, was a moment of epiphany, which sounded something like this in my mind:

To be alone…….isn’t……lack!?

Essentially, I realized that the only person creating an emptiness in my life is myself. I questioned myself about what is missing. Friends? No, I’ve had them, I just haven’t reached out (and to my astonishment, they’re all still right there—even new ones—when I’ve come crying to them recently). A social life? No, because I can create one with those friends as long as I do reach out. Money? To an extent, but only because I make the decision every day to go to school and work minimally, providing for excellent grades and ample time for what I consider to be, actually, a rather good balance in my life. Love? I’m missing a lover--missing in more than one sense of the word—but is there an actual lack of love in my life? No, I am also surrounded by that. Drenched in it, even!

The bottom line is that the only true lack is in confidence and acceptance of my self. I lost it, honestly, so many years ago, that I’m not sure where exactly I left it. I assume I probably left it in the apartment where I played into the role of the heart-broken ex-fiance who had the relationship terminated on her. You’re supposed to feel a deep lack when that happens, so I made sure I created a giant hole and then buried it up like so many love stories tells us is normal.

Truth is: there’s never been a lack in me. It’s all right here. I just have to have the courage to implement, daily, an appreciation for everything that I am, that I do, and that I have right in front of me. I need to re-discover life’s little pleasures as I used to when I was young(er).

It’s amazing what a park, some breathing, and a number of truly good souls can do!

I am thankful.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Self Safari

Today I took a stroll along the streets of Long Beach, camera in hand. I went out looking high and low for the little quirks in the city.

The city may not always be beautiful. In fact at first some parts of it seem downright ugly with its occasional lack of greenery or over-population of cars clunky, old, and new lining its stretch-marked streets in need of repaving. The unkempt yards—or rather, housing in general—add to the eye-sore and create a definite harshness to certain areas yet simultaneously it is a more endearing metropolis when looked at as the sort of patch-work quilt that it is.

Now, I don’t venture into the ghetto. I only balance on the thread that is between the truly rough and textured patches and the guaranteed silky smooth safe zones of Long Beach. This line I call the edge of nice or, a new term I recently coined over drinks with friends—“demi-ghetto.” None-the-less there is a definite quilting to the city’s ‘hoods.

One square block has been picked up, and cute, charming little places on quiet streets say “this could be home.” You go up and over a block and you have where I reside, an older condo building whose trash can is busily “tagged” in its placement nestled between a printing factory and an apartment building always teeming with screaming unhappy children and overflowing with the scent of some sort of beans and rice dish. Just a few blocks away are what I now would consider mansions, but once would have considered only to be very large houses.

And this, First street, is where I had my little epiphany; this little recognition of perhaps an area in life I could work on. Along first street the homes are mostly beautiful. The streets are lined with big, old, knowingtrees and grassy, sometimes even ivy-filled patches between the street and the sidewalk. Signs ordering cars not to “cruise” stand tall and boast neighborhood watch programs just beneath them as an ornate street lamp stands behind like celebrities behind body-guards. So many older folk promenade along this hushed street, that it is almost startling to find what I did today and be greeted by ten year old girls awkwardly trampling about on roller-skates.

Admiring these beautiful homes, I found myself nit-picking. “This house is nice but could use more windows,” I thought. Or, “that house has a beautiful yard, but the whole look would be more beautiful with shutters. I wonder why the owner hasn’t purchased any yet.” That’s when I realized that I tend to see the beauty in things, and I appreciate it. But often times, I also note too clearly what could improve it, and see it so clearly in my mind that I lose sight of what is actually there and no longer, then, focus on an actual thing, but an imaginary one. It takes away from the enjoyment to whatever degree. Metaphorically, I realized this said a lot about me and the way I live my life.

Oddly, it is at about that moment that I veered away from these perfectly imperfect homes and ventured back towards the mostly flawed areas that I could photograph and appreciate for all their quirks and roughness. I suppose that means that I am, in some manner, in search of appreciation and acceptance of those things in life which I consider flaws.

A little alone time for this reflection with my camera was just the medicine that I needed for the day. Then again, I always find a new reflection of myself through the lens.

I’m glad to discover who is coming about through it right now.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine

I can’t blame the gentleman. When a man knows it is not a fit, he knows just that: it is not a fit. It does not matter if it is but twelve days from Saint Valentine’s Day. There is no use, when there exists not the genuine feeling, in buying a woman flowers. For what reason should he, if he does not mean to say what those petals would whisper to her heart? What benefit could there be if he were to go along with a pointless gesture, only to abandon all of the emotion in a departure from the relationship some days later? He would be nothing but a small fortune less endowed, and she would remain alone wondering if everything of sentiment before this had ever held any real meaning if he hadn’t meant what he implied on the day of love.

It could have been a Sunday or a Tuesday in the middle of June when no holidays were near and I had made no plans. It would still have stung exactly as much. The willing departure of a man from a woman’s life is not the sensation of needle prick, but the lasting sting of a wasp. A man’s termination of a relationship is a pain that persists. A hurt so enduring that when one so randomly cognizes in the middle of some thought or chore, that the end has come about, one relives that sensation as if the wasp had just stuck her and injected its venom. It lingers and lurks, for some time, to know and stumble across mental reminders that she, for someone else, was not “it.”

To know that someone else will one day completely claim, by law and by mutual adoration, the man which she once imagined was her very own, if only for a brief breath in a long series of life’s exhalations, is a sort of injury without a medicine to sufficiently treat it. Like a virus, only time can let the hurt run its course.