personal growth, yoga

Falling on Your Face, Crows, and Other Defensible Fears

“Always do what you’re afraid to do.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Whenever I get angry during yoga, I know something’s up. Usually, the anger creeps up like a cat in the dark. I’ll be going through a flow sequence, leaning a little deeper into a pose I’m comfortable with, feeling really calm and strong and balanced when….BAM! The teacher will teach a new pose and for some unpredictable reason, fury wells up inside of me so that I feel like I’ll catch fire. It’s unpredictable. It’s not like that with most new poses. But with some…wow. Stay back. Things are gonna’ get ugly.

I‘ve experienced the anger enough times to realize it usually means I’m resisting something and that there might be a breakthrough coming. In fact, one of the coolest things about yoga is how it seems to mirror my experiences in the “real” world. Lack of balance in Dancer Pose = Lack of balance in my work/personal life, etc. So when certain poses bring me up against walls I didn’t even know were there, it becomes my responsibility to tear them down, brick by brick, until I get to the other side.

I know insight, strength, and new abilities lie just over the yogic and personal wall. However, even with the knowledge that getting to the other side will be totally worth it, I still crumple at its base and throw a tantrum like a baby because it all seems too hard.

It’s also scary. Yoga introduces you to fear on such a regular basis, you might as well invite it in and make some tea. Seriously. If you think I’m joking, check out these poses.

I can’t do this one yet, but I’ve practiced the set up. Supporting yourself on your forearms like that, with your head so close to the ground, is terrifying the first 20 times. It might be terrifying the first 50 times but I haven’t done it enough to find out.

I can actually do this one. When I finally got it, the feeling was liberating. But every time I push up into a back bend, I have a hard time believing I’m really doing it. I stare down at the ground from this weird new angle and use the pose to remind myself that seemingly impossible things really are possible. But it didn’t start off that way.

Which brings me to crow pose — the current bane of my existence.

 Here’s yoga rock star Kathryn Budig nailing it.

I can’t do it……anymore.

 

If you check back to the top of this post, you may be confused because there’s a picture of me doing a sorta’ kinda’ crow pose. I was just goofing around at the park and my friend took a picture. It was months ago, before I knew how to do “real” Crow Pose. Now that I know the “right” way, head down, booty high in the air, perched, let’s say, like a crow….it scares the crap out of me.

 

Last week, my teacher Shanna set us up for Crow and I could see it coming a mile away. Then, I did a seemingly inexplicable thing. I made up my mind that I couldn’t do it. That’s right. I Made Up My Mind and then half-assed the practice so it looked like I was trying when I really wasn’t. Because I’d DECIDED not to try.

 

Before I started practicing yoga, I don’t think I would have noticed my decision. I probably would have consciously believed I was really trying, even though I was faking it. I am constantly amazed at how much people lie to themselves about their own motivations and abilities, myself included. The only difference now is that I’m more aware of my own participation in selling myself short. But that doesn’t make the experience of learning new things any less terrifying.

 

It does, however, make me more determined to move past the fear because I know it’s a creation of my own, self-limiting mind.
What if nothing is standing in your way except you? What if that thing you think is impossible, isn’t? What if you DO land on your face and get back up and try again? What if you don’t?

If you don’t try, you don’t grow. If you don’t fall, you don’t get back up. It really is that simple – in yoga as in life.

So the other day, when the substitute yoga teacher set us up for Crow, I tried. For reals. And I fell. Twice.

Then you know what I did? I tried again. And every day I have committed to practicing this most terrifying pose and opening myself up to what it wants to teach  me.

Because one of these days, probably sooner than I think, I’m going to fly.

And you can too.

Namaste.

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Beastybats and Balderdash

Beastybats & Balderdash: A Very Merry Un-Birthday to You

Time doesn’t really exist, y’know, and neither do ages.” Maggie thought her little sister should know the truth and no one else seemed eager to tell her. “It’s just an illusion, like magic tricks and stuff.”

Penny stared at her big sister without a hint of understanding, her head tilted slightly to keep the sparkly, gold crown aloft.

But I’m six today,” she insisted, her small self framed by balloons and a birthday banner and gifts piled high at the breakfast table. “Yesterday I was five and today I’m six.”

Not according to Einstein, you’re not.” Maggie glanced up to see if her words were having any effect — they weren’t.

Oh well, Happy Birthday anyway,” she mumbled, returning to her book.

Schroedinger’s cat would have to wait another year.



I’d like to wish a very Happy Birthday to my beautiful mother 
and my incredible daughter….even if time is an illusion. 
Much love to you both, today and always!

Fly free and happy beyond birthdays and across forever, 
and we’ll meet now and then when we wish, 
in the midst of the one celebration that never can end.” 
~ Richard Bach

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Beastybats and Balderdash

Beastybats & Balderdash: Useful Information

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personal growth, poetry

You Have Permission

You Have Permission
 
You have permission to say no.
You have permission to say yes.
You have permission to say anything you like.


You have permission to like the things you like.
You have permission to like the people you like.
You have permission to disregard what other people like or think you should like.
 
You have permission to sleep more.
You have permission to work less.
You also have permission to sleep less and work more. It’s up to you.
 
You have permission to try new things.
You have permission to be bad at new things.
You have permission to try again and again until you’re great at the things you love.
 
You have permission to leave.
You have permission to stay.
You have permission to find your own true home and carry it with you.
 
You have permission to feel anger.
You have permission to feel joy.
You have permission to feel.
 
You have permission to let go of anger.
You have permission to let go of joy.
You have permission to let go.


You have permission to give up.
You have permission to keep going.
You have permission to not know what you’re going to do.


You have permission to be “too much.”
You have permission to be not enough for someone else.
You have permission to be just enough for you and you alone.


You have permission to be yourself.
You have permission to not know who “yourself” is.
You have permission to take all the time you need to figure it out.

 

You have permission.
 
Written by Amanda Amos.





This post was inspired by The Goddess Guidebook’s post titled “You Have Permission.” Check it out here.
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Beastybats and Balderdash

Beastybats & Balderdash: Gateway to Oz

But it’s just a silly plot device from a fairy tale, Lucinda protested, stomping her foot for emphasis. How can a hot-air balloon be a portal to someplace that doesn’t exist?

Margaret slid the newspaper across the kitchen table, folded like a child’s lopsided Christmas wrapping, so the front page story was the only thing visible. Her sister was a devout agnostic when it came to all things marvelous and magical so she would have to read it for herself.

I don’t believe it, Lucinda muttered, but her eyes told a different story. She scanned the page several times, rereading the scientific report, before returning the crumpled pile of paper to the chipped linoleum.

She looked at Margaret. Margaret held her breath.

Well, what are we doing still sitting here? Lucinda beamed, grabbing her sister’s hand and pulling her toward the door.  

We’d better hurry if we want to catch a Munchkin!

 

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art, birds, dreams, personal growth

How "Not" To Talk To Owls

 photo courtesy of Lynn Griffin-Roberts

Dreams are illustrations…from the book your soul is writing about you.”
~ Marsha Norman

I had this big, wonderful blog post knocking around in my head for the last week or so. It was about a fantastic dream involving eggs and owlets (and cat food!) and the beauty of growing things that will eventually fly away from you. I just need to jot it down so they’ll understand, I kept telling myself. But every time I sat down to jot, nothing came.

Well, that’s not true. Words came out — they just weren’t the right words. They kept twisting themselves up into knots, bending over backwards trying to please me. They made a valiant effort.

But it didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel right at all.

I’m embarrassed to admit I worked on this “problem” for almost a week before I finally stepped away from myself long enough to see what was going on — I was forcing it. And it didn’t want to come.

Art is a finicky business, like herding cats. You can push and prod and cajole and sprinkle moon fairy dust over an idea as much as you like. It’ll still dart behind a rock and stick it’s tongue out at you if it’s not ready to be born.

So, in spite of my initial frustration, I’m glad for the lesson I’m taking away: Always remember to feel for the resistance in a thing, feel around the edges, feel around your heart. Ask it if it wants to come out from its nice, warm hiding place in the cosmos.

Then, trust yourself. Trust the answer. 

And if need be, move on.

Namaste.

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personal growth, yoga

I Resolve Absolutely Nothing

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
~ Buddha
I tried something new this year and didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions. Not a one. It was difficult. The impulse was strong. And I’ll be the first to admit there are many, many ways in which Amanda 2.0 could be improved upon (943 ways, at last count….ha!)

But every time I came up with a halfway decent resolution, something I could look back on when 2013 rolls in and be really proud of, I realized resolving it would ruin the whole thing. You see, I’m really bad with orders (and dictates and ultimatums and a whole bunch of other things.) I’m bad with them even if they’re issued by me and happen to be fantastic ideas.

I didn’t understand why none of my resolutions worked until a couple months ago when I discovered the strangest paradox:Intentional growth only happens when you let go of the judgement that you should change yourself and, instead, accept yourself as you are right now.
 
“Yeah, yeah,” I hear myself argue from a year ago. “But how can I accept things that I don’t like about myself? Shouldn’t I try to change those things? Isn’t that the whole point of resolutions?”

You shouldn’t try to change, I now understand. You have to love yourself so you can change.

And you can start right now. Here are a few ideas to help you begin growing into the beautiful person you will be without beating up on the beautiful person you already are (hint, hint…they are one and the same.)

Step 1: Don’t hate. Meditate. (Thanks Becks for the fabulous shirt!)

Watch your thoughts. It can take a lifetime of practice to become proficient at this, but a little bit of practice is all you need for this exercise. Meditating is a great place to start. So is yoga. I’m sure there are lots of other fabulous ways, but those are the two that have worked best for me. The goal is to hear the voice in your head, not drown it out. You can work on quieting it down later, but for now, you want to know what it’s saying so you can counteract the message.

Step 2: Kill the messenger.
Once you become aware of the mind-chatter, watch for any mean things you’re saying to yourself. If you’re a woman, a good place to start is by looking in the mirror. Can you hear the voice yet? No? Impressive. Okay, strip down to your underwear (or go commando, if you dare.) There it is. Now tell that voice to shut up. Seriously. That’s all.

Step 3: Say something nice about yourself.
Not out loud, silly. To yourself. It doesn’t have to be big. But if the critical thought was about your body, think of a part of your body you do like and think the thought. It has to counteract the last message. If you’re frustrated with yourself for falling short on something, think I’m proud of myself for having the courage to try. Get creative. The time you spend thinking up a positive thought should shut down the negative pipeline for a few moments, at least. Unfortunately… 

Step 4: It’s not dead yet.
So sorry. I should have told you this at the beginning, but those negative little buggers are usually feisty and deeply ingrained. Once you’ve shot one down, another will pop up in it’s place. They’re like Gremlins. And now they’re angry because you told them to shut up and you’re trying to replace them. Alas.

Honestly, though, when you start to recognize the negative mind chatter and counteract it, you’ll often find yourself swamped in even more chatter. But that’s not really a bad thing because now you’ll be able to pinpoint the thoughts even more clearly and eliminate them that much quicker. You’ll also get better and better at finding the positives. It might not feel like it, but your brain is already changing (along with your potential for future growth and awesomeness).

Step 5: Repeat as needed.
It’s really as simple as that. However, like all things that appear simple, the process takes practice to become second-nature. But the process itself is so worth it. I’ll spare you the details from my own “battleground of negativity” (it was like Gettysburg in here!) except to say its been an exciting and rewarding adventure. 

Oh yeah. And when you get good at quieting the hurtful thoughts, loving ones move in to take their place. It feels fantastic. It’s so much quieter. And you can actually get some stuff done — without a resolution in sight. 

Namaste.

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