Transitions

 

SpringI finished teaching 2 classes today and came home to birds singing, the sun shining and the warmest day yet this spring. I love winter (yes, I said it) but the transition to spring is beautiful and awe inspiring as the flowers start to bloom and the earth sheds its doldrums.

Any transition, no matter how big or small, is life changing. Transitions, or learning experiences as I like to call them, can make or break us. Yoga is a great transition teacher. How you transition from pose to pose is done with ease or angst. You get to decide. Do I accept the transition, or do I deny the change? Transitions are a part of life. Decide for yourself how you are going to transition during the only life you have.

Make your transitions matter.

Moving forward by going Backward

In order to move forward, sometimes you have to go backwards.

My daughter rows for her high school crew team. Crew is the only sport where you cross the finish line going backwards. You move forward by going backwards.Crew

It’s a conundrum.

To grow from an experience, good or bad, you have to look back at the experience with fresh eyes, physically experience the experience then learn from it.

I learn from my yoga practice that burying these experiences, or emotions and feelings, don’t make them go away. They just come up at a later time.

Sooner or later the buried emotions will have to be dealt with.

Emotions, or feelings, are energy that manifest as physical reactions in our bodies. Anger, fear, sadness, and happiness are feelings.

When something happens to us that makes us feel good or bad, we have a reaction. There is a sensation of happiness, sadness, anger, frustration, joy and other emotions that occur in our bodies.

We can accept and deal with that sensation, or we can deny and bury it, thinking it will go away.

We all have had mean things said to us. Whether the person saying them meant to be mean is irrelevant. If we perceived the words as mean, we reacted to the meanness. We don’t have a choice in this, our bodies are meant to react.

Dealing with ignorance or meanness is acknowledging it for what it is. It’s feeling the emotion in our body. It’s setting our boundaries and not allowing people to talk to us in a fashion that is unacceptable to us. It is standing up for what we believe in. It is knowing who we are so when we are spoken to in a mean or ignorant way, the meanness does not break our soul. It is knowing that others being mean isn’t about us, it’s about others who are also struggling through life the same way we are.

Learning how to put this into practice takes time. It takes clarity and it is being grounded in knowing who you are and what you stand for.

My yoga practice helped me learn how to do this and helped me learn who I am.

Learning who I am took years of making mistakes and learning from them. It took constant awareness of questioning everything I thought I stood for and making sure that what I thought I stood for was a good feeling in my body. I tried to look at myself from other vantage points. I asked myself the tough questions of what I wanted to put out in the world. I questioned how I treated others. I questioned who I wanted in my life by how they treated me.

It wasn’t always pretty or easy. I’ve lost and gained friends through the years. I didn’t accept cheap behavior, which is defined by the person deciding what cheap means. I learned what was right for me using my guidelines for ethical and acceptable behavior. Everyone’s ethics are different and I only get to choose who is in my life by my guidelines. Others can choose by their guidelines.

I cannot control how others see me through their lenses. I can only know that what I put out into the world is what I want to stand for on my own. I can only be honest with myself as to who I want to be.Flying

The physical practice of yoga teaches that to balance on my hands I have to face my fear of flying. To balance in a standing twist, I have to be grounded. To extend and backbend, I have to have an open heart. To be able to stand for who I am and what I believe, I have to be willing to fight like a warrior. And when I am afraid, nervous, or full of anxiety, I have to be able to soothe myself by folding into my heart and giving it space to settle down.

The physical practice of yoga manifests off the mat into learning how to incorporate all this knowledge into becoming who we are supposed to be. Humans who have boundaries, are fearless in our moral pursuits, have open hearts and minds, and are willing to fight for what we believe in.

I have had to look back at my life and learn from the mistakes I made in order to move forward. My past and what I have learned made me who I am today.

Moving forward is possible by accepting and learning from my past. I would not be the person I am proud of now had I not lived my past that helped me move forward to who I am.

How to Eat

As a disclaimer, I want to point out that there have been a million books written on how to eat or not eat. More than likely, I am not going to solve the bad eating habits of the world in an 850 word blog entry.

Having said that, eating is much simpler then we have made it.  Organic

Our bodies are organic. When we die, we will turn back into earth. Ashes to ashes, it’s literal.

As an organism, we are meant to eat food that is organic. Organic as in matter. Not organic, a label given to food that hasn’t been sprayed and molested by inorganic material.

If you think along those lines, eating is simple. Think of the acronym for keeping things simple. KISS – Keep it Simple, Stupid.

Eat food. Food meaning that it came out of the earth. Food has roots, We come from the earth, we breathe the earth, we drink the earth. We are the earth. We need to get back to our roots, which are grounded on the earth. Eat food. Eat earth.

The earth is here to supply us with what we need. If we don’t destroy it first.

Sounds simple.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, we were also born with brains. Brains are meant to think. Thinking allows us to make choices.

Corporations and companies know we have this ability so they produce and invent things for us to choose from that seem to make our life simpler. But do they? Make it simpler, that is.

Food that comes out of a box is not food. It’s an invention. An invention invented by someone to sell to someone else so they can make money to make and sell more inventions.

My brain sees the pretty colorful pictures on the box of invented food. The signals in my brain light up, I get excited and I spend my money on the colorful yummy looking picture on the box.

I buy the box, bring it home, and eat it. I eat the invention, now I’m hooked. The visceral sensation of the invention in the box makes my brain fall in love, with the invention. The sugary viscose feel and taste of what was invented in a factory for me to feel good in the moment I eat it.

The invention has nothing to do with feeding the organism of my body, nor does it feed my soul. The invention feeds my need to be full. The invention makes me think I can’t afford to eat real food. The invention tricks my body into thinking that I want more of the invention. The marketing sells me that real food is the enemy.

IMG_3686 It goes on an on like that. We buy with our senses, our brains, and our pocket  books. We buy to satisfy a need we have. The need may not be nutritional, it may be emotional, societal, or something that was marketed to us.

If you want to eat “right”, decide what right is for you. If you want to eat healthy, eat food. Real food is kept on the exterior of the grocery store, at the farm market, and at the farm. Except for Wegman’s. Their vegetables and fruit are in the middle of the store. Shop the perimeter. Eat food, not manufactured products. The only reason to shop the aisles is to buy spices to add to the flavor of the real food you just bought.  Spices are also a nutritional staple.

If “right” for you is not about nutrition, decide why it is you are eating. Is it emotional? Boredom? Social? Are your taste buds infected by the sugary taste of the boxed variety? Sugar will eventually make you sick, if you eat a lot of it . A lot is a different amount for everyone.

Figure it out. Question your food supply. Learn, Educate yourself. Know what you are putting in the only body you have.

If you feel like crap all the time, check in with your food supply. It might be killing you.

Resources:

Learn about what is really in the box

Learning how to eat right with useful information and baby steps Crazy Sexy Kitchen

An awesome book for trying to figure out why you eat the way you do:  The Yoga of Eating

Emotions are a Human Experience

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I had the distinct pleasure and ability to spend some time on a hospital psychiatric ward.

No, I wasn’t a patient. Although some people think I should be.Irish Wall

I was an advocate for a family member who had been put there by her cheating, double life leading, soon to be ex husband.

My family member was put there because of her reaction to this news. It wasn’t deemed appropriate by the person who put her there.

Hanging out on a psychiatric ward is sobering and humbling.

I learned many important lessons the week I spent there watching out for, and loving my family member.

I learned there is a very fine line between sanity and insanity.

I learned that sometimes, the sane people are on the wrong side of the door.

As children, we are taught to be strong. We are taught to suck it up. Don’t be a sissy. Get over it. Pull up your boots by their bootstraps and get back on the horse.

In other words, don’t show emotion.

So we suck it up, keep it in, and go through life.

Emotionless.

As we age, the emotions try to come out. A baby is born and we cry. It’s okay to cry when it’s a happy occasion. That shows what a great emotional human you are. You can cry when you show love. You are allowed to cry at a funeral.

But cry and show emotion  when the person you trusted, loved, honored and were vulnerable for leaves after a few decades of living together. That will get you driven to the psychiatric ward.

Cry when you go to war and see people blown up in front of your face and you will be thought of as weak.

Cry when you see another human die in a tragic way and you’re told to get over it.

Cry over a childhood lost from physical or mental abuse and you’re told to take medication so you don’t feel the pain.

We spend our lives running and hiding from the emotion that life inflicts on us.

Where does that emotion go if we don’t release it?

Emotion changes and morphs. It gets angry and frustrated. It eventually comes out as the emotions we shoved inside and is released as emotions we can’t control. Usually anger or self inflicted pain.

It’s like a match in a trash can that smolders then sets a curtain on fire. It starts small and grows. When it isn’t put out, it gets out of control.

Showing emotion should not be a bad thing. We should not be criticized because we are human. Humans are supposed to have emotions.

Emotions are a human experience.

Hiding our emotions is harmful to our health.

Emotions are energy. If the energy isn’t released, it stays with us. In our bodies. Our bodies know, they remember.

Drugs (or medications) don’t release the energy. Drugs bury emotional feelings and temporarily make them go away. They bury the bad emotions. They bury the good emotions. Drugs aren’t picky, they bury all emotion.

Medication can be helpful to get over the trauma of a given event. Long term use doesn’t make emotions disappear and solve the problem. It creates more problems that need to be dealt with later on, mental and physical.

I used yoga to rid my body of the emotional pain and agony it felt when my 24 year marriage abruptly ended.

Yoga became my vice. The harder the better. The faster the yoga, the more anger was released. The more strength I gained, the more anguish disappeared. The louder the music, the happier I became. The more yoga I practiced and the more sweat I dripped on my mat, the quicker I healed my mind.

I owe yoga my sanity.

Painful emotions are physical. Heartbreak hurts. Betrayal hurts. The loss of trust hurts. Emotional abuse is as painful, sometimes more painful than physical pain. Physical pain can heal. Bruises go away. Cuts leave scars but skin repairs itself.

Healing mental pain is much more challenging.

My family member was criticized for getting emotional after her marriage broke up and her family was broken. My Ex told me I had to get over it. He couldn’t understand why I was upset. He told me my emotions were out of control and I needed help.

Upset emotions do need help. For me, I went and got help. I was a lucky one.

People who don’t feel any emotions also need help.

Feeling no emotions, or the inability to have empathy and compassion for others is a far worse way to live then feeling life. Emotions are part of who we are. Emotions are life.

Feeling emotion is sanity.

For me, living without understanding the struggle that others live with, being compassionate for the emotional fear that humans experience daily, and trying to do what I can to help relieve suffering, would not be living.

Questioning the emotional response of a painful experience when an emotional response is valid and normal doesn’t make the human having the emotional experience insane.

It means the person doing the questioning is on the wrong side of the door.

Don’t run and hide from your emotions. Express them . Let them go. Feel them. Own them. Know that feeling emotions are normal.

Release your emotions when they need to be released so you can keep them coming. The good, the bad and they ugly.