Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ask and You Shall Receive....

or How I Manifested Two Gin & Tonics.

A few years ago I held a workshop on the movie and book 'The Secret'. Part of the workshop involved creating a Vision Board. Vision Boards are tools to help you manifest things you want in your life. The idea is that if you can see it with your eyes, then energetically you can pull it towards you. Might be bullshit, not sure.

On my board I had photos of the beach, healthy foods and dream homes. It was covered with sayings and quotes of uplifting messages. I pasted words like LOVE, DREAM, MONEY all over my foam board. The last thing I put on it I did so as a whim. I cut out the words 'Yoga Journal' off the cover of an old magazine and then cut out the words 'On the Cover' from the index section. I pasted those two together. I had absolutely no expectation or or even distant, hidden hope of it ever coming true. It was more of a feeling like, "How fun would that be?!?".

So every day I would look at my Vision Board in my office and try to imagine living in one of those wonderful homes on the beach, eating that healthy and delicious food with money to spare. Instead of imagining, I felt wanting. I could feel desperation and grasping. I could feel guilt about not being worthy of these things that I was trying to manifest in my life. It was a hard exercise and felt futile most of the time.

 Well, about 5 months after the 'Secret' workshop, I got a copy of YJ in the mail. (Here's a little known quirky fact about me; I read magazines from the back to front like in Japan) So I open up the magazine and in the back there were a series of advertisements for Kripalu and lo and behold one of those ads featured my name! Holy manifestation, Batman!

This was the first time that I can recall a manifested idea so clearly since I have stepped onto the spiritual path. I'm sure this has happened to me in the past, but none so blatant and exciting as this episode. Even if it wasn't 'on the cover', how many people can ever say their name was in Yoga Journal?

Of course, here is where the exploration piece steps in.....

How does this happen? How do you manifest your dreams?

The obvious key to my example is clear. When there is no longing, grasping or attachment the Universe graciously and gladly provides. When you hold something so tight in your wanting that you break it, the Universe says, "Umm, not quite yet Little Sister."

In Yoga, attachment is referred to as the Yama of 'aparigraha'. Swami Kripalu said that working with the Yamas and Niyamas was like picking a garland of roses; pick up one bud and the rest will follow. When I began Yoga many years ago, I picked up the Yama of aparigraha. I have been working on letting go of my attachments to ideas, things and people for nearly 9 years and as I loosen my grip I'm finding that I'm able to manifest ideas more swiftly and pretty precisely.

Case in point, a few months ago my cohort, KWB, and I were invited to a leadership retreat in Lake George, NY for the green energy company that we work with. Before the trip, our home office emailed us and asked if we would mind sharing a bed as all of the rooms with two beds were taken. I mean, I love this girl, we are often roommates, and there have been a few times when we have had to share a bed on business trips...but this was our first leadership retreat at a beautiful resort, COME ON! So before we left, I resolved that I was going to manifest not only a room with two beds, but a suite none-the-less. In the car on the way up there I told Kat that we were getting a suite and she readily agreed that we could manifest this blessing. When we got to the resort I went to check us in while she caught up with friends. After the front desk clerk gave me my keys, I walked up to her looking like a cat with a bird in my mouth. She looked at me not knowing what to think. I burst out, "I did it!" We ended up with a beautiful, two bedroom suite, right on the lake, with a gorgeous bathroom and kitchen to boot! Boy, did that feel good! I do have to admit that there might have been a little bit of wanting in that wish, but it really wasn't that much. It didn't matter either way and there were no feelings of unworthiness.

These are truly the keys to unlocking the manifestation doors: Do the work. Forgive yourself. Feel worthy. Be grateful for whatever you have. Don't be jealous of those who have more. Keep envisioning your dreams. Be okay with 'not now' for an answer. And spread all the Love you can around.

Last weekend as Kat and I were on our way to yet another business meeting I asked her if we were having drinks afterwards. We both decided it would be too late after the meeting and since she is cleasing (again) she couldn't drink anyway. Well, there ended up being a high school reunion in the room next to our meeting. The reunion folks kept trying to register at the table that we were working and when one guy realized his blunder, he said "Is there anything I can get you?" I replied as a joke, "Yeah, if you have an open bar in there I'll take a Tanqueray and tonic!" When he brought it over, Kat looked at me and said, "You just manifested that, you do realize?"

Ask and you shall receive, X two....

Me with my first T&T, ;-)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I'll Get You, My Pretty!

or, 'Surrender, Kristina!"

I had coffee with a possible future business associate a couple of weeks ago. He'd grown up in Connecticut but moved to LA and lived there for quite awhile. When he moved back he was shocked that CT still 'is the way it is'. I said, "Welcome to Puritanville...."

Growing up in New England is like growing up in a different country. There are certain things that we know as if by osmosis. For instance, we know how tobacco is dried. We know why there are spigots attached to trees at the end of winter. We know how cranberries are harvested. We know how basketball was invented. Weird, quirky trivia. Useless unless you live here.

But there are other, darker knowings that are ingrained in our cells. Anyone I know, my age or older, won't go to a circus in a tent. We're fearful of ice storms. We have nightmares of bridges collapsing under us as we drive through the night. But the biggest and darkest fear that's never, ever spoken of is being accused, especially if you are a woman, of practicing witchcraft.

Drama Queen, I know. But when you really examine it, it's true.

In February I received a 'Theta' healing from my friend and gifted healing moderator, John Odlum. He immediately tuned into my debilitating fear of 'being persecuted for standing in my full power'. This struck a cord with me and has stayed with me since.

Women who stand in their full power are called witches and bitches. Women who stand in their power are frequently ostracized from friendships with other women. They get gossiped about. They get persecuted. Sure, we don't literally hang them anymore, but we do torture them in other ways. So what's the difference between 1692 and now?

Marley wearing one of my old t-shirts.

The more I examine my personal power and study the spiritual arts that interest me and guide me towards ascension, the more I'm aware of this fear. Case in point: Most of the healing arts that I practice could lead me to excommunication from the Catholic church. This would break my heart if it were to happen although I know it wouldn't really matter in my relationship with the Big Guy. I am fully aware that ascension is the goal, no matter how I get there. But the fear lingers. I often am mindful when I wear certain jewelry or t-shirts to church that some of it could be considered by those who are still asleep as idol worship or 'heathenistic'.

I saw the following post on Marianne Williamson's face book the other day:
The word "wand" comes from the same root as the word "want." Your wanting is your wand, as long as your want is untainted by fear."

WOW! Think about that for a moment. I have to let go of this fear in order to create my 'want' and stand in my power. What's more associated with witchcraft than a wand? 

Am I practicing some form of witchcraft?

What I practice is not witchcraft, magic or dark arts. What I delve in is Light Arts; co-creating my destiny with my Maker, using my community of other Light Workers to walk hand-in-hand toward enlightenment using whatever spiritual arts we feel will assist the process. This is not witchcraft. This is divine Manifest Destiny. 

So, even though I'm not fully free from fear of persecution, I'll continue to explore my powers. And although I don't literally carry a wand and this is not 1692, I'll still use essences from nature to make healing 'potions'. I'll forever repeat mantras to manifest abundance. I do know how to swim. I even have an antique cauldron in the fire place and a black cat....

Hold that thought for a moment, there's some folks at the door...Oh look, one of them has a pitchfork...and others have torches....

Uh-oh....Gotta fly...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Me and My Big Mouth....

"Honey, Yoga Journal called"....

Oh crap.

I was really hoping that if, and when, I ever announced the following news that it wouldn't be like this.

I've only ever written to a magazine twice. Both times it was YJ, the most well known yoga publication in the US. Both times has been to complain. The first time it was about an article they had on full sized yoga. The model was beautiful but every photo was blurry. Goddess forbid someone should see some flesh! Never heard from them about that one.

This last time was about free yoga.

The author complained that since she was strapped for funds she would take as many free classes in her city as possible to try them all out. There was not one positive thing in the entire article. She complained about the venues, the cost of the subway to get there, yada, yada... At the end of the week of free yoga, she went online and bought a pair of $98 yoga pants that she had seen in one of the studios. Ugh.

Maybe that precious article space could have been used to talk about what a blessing free yoga is or what the teachers of free yoga give up to offer that as seva? Or how about interviewing students of free yoga and ask them why they go and take these classes above bars? Or maybe about shops where you can find those high-end yoga pants on consignment? Something other than spoiled whining?

Well, me and my big mouth. I was cranky that day and apparently in quite a judgemental mood. Ahem... So I emailed YJ about this piece. And guess what? They picked it for print. Yep. I'm getting published. In YJ. Yep, a complaint. Great.

Well, I guess we'll see if I actually make it to print. Hopefully, next time I open my big mouth I'll have something nice to say. Yikes! And next time I have this news for you, it will actually be that I am getting published.

Til then I'm zipping it up.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Christmas in July

Or The Nightmare Before Christmas....

One of the most beloved Christmas songs of all time, except by me.

I can't remember if it was 4th or 5th grade, but I was selected to sing this song with three other kids at our schools Holiday Concert. We had rehearsed a few times and it sounded good, as far as I can remember. The night of the concert, in front of 300 proud parents and families, when we started singing the kid next to me, out of nowhere, sounded like Screech from 'Saved By The Bell'....

Well, guess who started laughing right in the middle of chestnuts roasting? Yep, yours truly.

I was able to reign some of it in before the end of the song, but it was too late. The music teacher, who I'd had for years and knew me well, was irate. IRATE. After the concert, back in the band room in front of the entire student body, she clenched her fists and started jumping up and down. Her face was contorted and her hair wild. She screamed at me that I had "ruined the entire concert". I tried to explain what started the fits of laughter but she wasn't amused. I didn't mean to laugh but it was one of those moments when you can't help yourself. 

This memory has stayed with me all this time and every Christmas when I hear that song the memory comes back and I beat myself up again that I ruined the concert and let all of those people down.

When we moved to our town about 8 years ago and found a church we liked I noticed this woman who looked like my old music teacher. I had totally convinced myself that it couldn't be her, not after all these years. My childhood hometown is an hour from here. I mean, what are the chances? 

Well, this is me we're talking about. The chances are pretty good.

Sure enough, this past Christmas the priest announced that 'Betty Sue' would be organizing the holiday music. When he said her name out loud and everyone turned to look at her, I knew without doubt.

She doesn't recognize me now that I'm an adult but I'm sure she would recall that eventful disaster of my youth. What she probably doesn't realize is how her adult reaction to my childish behavior has affected me all these years. I have let myself feel like a failure frequently since then. Nothing is ever good enough. My ego feeds on this memory to continue the guilt. 

The funny thing is you can't escape 'The Christmas Song'.

So I am forced to do the work since I can't escape. Let go of this memory. Forgive myself. Heal my inner child who still wants to sing along and find a way to shake hands with this woman, look her in the eye at church and say, "Peace be with you." 

And mean it.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Daring Young Girl

or: Now, You Can Do Anything....

Yesterday I took my daughter and her best bud for a trapeze lesson. (Part 1)  It was an amazing experience. This was an event I had promised her for a year and was finally able to coordinate at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY.

She couldn't sleep the night before and the couple of hours leading up to the lesson seemed to drag on forever.....

I was so excited for her that I didn't know what to do first; take still photos? Take video? Take a video on my phone to text to friends and family? Or watch and breathe?

Well, the videos and still photos won most of my attention.

I mean, how could I not capture this moment forever?

She was blessed to work with some of the most well known, world renowned circus people in the entire world! Including:

'Uncle' Tony Steele, who, nearing 80 years old and having been in the circus since he was 15, is a Guiness World Record Holder:

Chachi, who is 5th generation in a circus family:

And Peter Gold, one of the most beloved trapeze instructors in the world:

I watched as much as I could with my own two eyes but am sooo glad I got it all on video! She and I have watched it over and over and over again...

This one is going in a frame:

The thrill, even from the ground, was absolutely unbelievable! Being able to give this gift to my daughter was an honor. But the highlight for me was when Peter Gold told her, "Marley, now that you have flown on a trapeze, you can do anything."

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Worlds Colliding

or Look to the Cookie.....

Within the last week and a half I have had a hardcore reminder that this is a world of dualities, kind of like a 'black & white' cookie.

Nearly two weeks ago I almost lost one of my oldest and dearest friends. This was a girl I met by chance on September 10, 1987, my first day of college. My parents had delivered me to my dorm, The Hospitality Center, on Narragansett Boulevard in Cranston, Rhode Island, lower lobby room 19. We unloaded the car, unpacked it all and waited for at least one of my roommates to show up. We waited and waited. While all of the other kids were making friends right away, I was sitting on my bunk bed all alone. My parents were getting itchy to leave when they walked in; identical twins from Mahwah, NJ. Can you fucking believe my luck.....

Well it was pretty clear within the first five minutes that I was the odd girl out. While they teased their hair and put on more make up, I headed off to discover my dorm and try to find the cafeteria. My first attempt seemed logical; take the elevator to the basement. That basically delivered me to what looked like the gates of hell. Back up I went to try the stairs at the other end of the hall. I opened the door and there were about 5 girls coming down from the second floor who immediately scooped me up. It was a sigh of relief I still feel to this day. These women became my fast friends, roommates, bridesmaids, sisters.

These memories have been flooding back this past week as I have been keeping our college friends up to date with our dear friend who is extremely ill. I have spent quite some time in the hospital with her, just holding space. I can't offer more than my love and hopefully that's enough. I love this woman. We have things in common that I can't quite share with my newer group of friends. We are die hard Yankee fans. We can recite basically any Seinfeld episode, word for word. And we share a 24 year history. It's wonderful. She makes me laugh til I'm in tears, a rare gift. Even yesterday in the hospital we were laughing so hard that we were both crying as she regaled me with stories from the hospital and her midnight male nurse who apparently is Taye Diggs' twin brother.....

Although she is healing and can start to laugh again, the hospital sucks. I hate being there as I know she does too. It's icky and I leave there feeling drained of my prana as if the death and dying surrounds me and tries to hold on to whatever life I've got. I come home and shower. I'll be glad when she's out.

But also twice within the last week I have come home from the hospital, showered changed (into what feels like a completely different person) and gone out with my newer group of friends. We must look like a 'Sex and the City' scene. We're dolled up and dressed to the nines. We're drinking martinis and talking about sex and clothes. It's fun and I feel alive, really alive. We don't have a life long friendship yet, but we're starting one. Building memories, brick by brick.

It's a complete contrast to how I have spent my days recently. There were moments during my nights out where I felt guilty about living as my dear friend lay near death. How can I even think about having cocktails and which dress to wear with what heels while she's in a johnny coat? During one of these girls nights out, as we were listening to a new friend from Helsinki play piano and sing us into a dreamland, I was consumed by the duality of it all. Here, there. Life, death.   

Are my worlds are colliding?

Will hospital Kristina kill Sex and the City Kristina?

I won't let her because I finally understand the truth that there isn't a world at all. Duality is just an insane idea that we like to buy into. It's part of the grand illusion. You can exist in each of your perceived worlds at once and feel alive in all of them. It's all love, just in different forms.

And as usual it always goes back to balance. The trick though is to 'look to the cookie'.

The key is to get a little bit of each world in every bite and all of our problems will be solved.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Party Crasher

or You Can Never Find a Rubber Chicken When You Need One....

My only daughter, Marley, will be turning 9 in a few weeks. She's the Party Crasher. That's what we called her for years after she was born. She was completely unexpected. We had suffered through 7 years of infertility when we finally succeeded with our son Elijah. We were quite content after he was born. We never, ever expected to have another baby after what it took to conceive him and we certainly were not  planning for her. But she decided to show up anyways. Elijah was only 9 months old when Marley decided to 'crash our party'....

We found out I was pregnant with her on the very day we were opening our deli and from that moment on everything about her has been a wonderful surprise, including the first time I held her. As my husband put her in my arms, she immediately latched onto my breast. I gazed down at her delicate features for the first time and I yelled out "She has a tuft of blond hair!".

We thought that blond streak was what made her unique but we were sorely wrong. She is clever, cute and dream-filled. She is what the rest of us in the family are not. Her open and loving heart often puts the rest of us to shame. She sees life in a way that is fanciful, sweet and a never-ending adventure. The rest of us all live in this magical world of hers and it is a blessing from heaven. 

She loves to skateboard and when we take her to the skate park it is fascinating to watch the teenage boys stare at her in wonder. She has wanted to be a veterinarian since she was 3 years old and loves animals. In fact, she loves animals so much that when she decided to be an animal doctor she also decided that she was a cat. Since then I have called her 'Kitten', per her request.

She is named after Bob Marley and has t-shirts, hats and posters of him all over her room. We recently learned her name also means 'marshy meadow' and 'of Magdala'. So in one powerful name she embraces beauty, faith and oneness. We couldn't have chosen a better name for her. We knew from the day of her birth that we had chosen correctly though. When they moved me from the delivery room to our recovery room my husband looked out the window on the beautiful summer day. To his surprise, facing our room was a giant air conditioning unit on the hospital roof. The sign on the unit: MARLEY. This could only be seen from the room we were in.

Her adventurous spirit will be most evident this week as we head to Omega with her best friend for her birthday celebration: a trapeze lesson. I have been conscious since she was born to not hold her back. She is not girly. She is a tomboy and we embrace that. I want her to fly and this week she will.

Along with all of this adventure and creativity, she has a distinctive sense of humor. She will frequently send us into fits of giggles with her unusual outlook. One day she told me that she was a 'colorful local character' and she couldn't have been more right.

Her baby book is filled with these kinds of memories. One of my all time favorites, though, is from when she was graduating from pre-school to kindergarten. When I asked her what she wanted for a graduation gift she firmly replied, "A rubber chicken".

And let me tell you, you can never find a rubber chicken when you need one.... 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Thick Skin or Lack Thereof....

or 'The Issues in my Tissues' part 2

Since I first wrote 'The Issues in my Tissues' part 1 I have been working on forgiving and healing a particular incident in my childhood. It hasn't been easy. It has been ugly, messy and painful. After that post I was flooded by comments from friends near and far. I was, in truth, angered by so many people telling me I'd find healing in forgiving the perpetrator. I knew they were right but it was infuriating to read their sentiments. I wanted to be coddled, to be held in the warmth and love of my friends, not for them to coddle the bad guy. They weren't saying that it was okay what he did to me. They weren't saying that I deserved it. They were just trying to point out that I couldn't (and still can't) see the big picture. That kinda hurt.

We are never capable of seeing the big picture. That privilege is reserved for the Big Guy, the heavenly director of this comedy called life. I don't know why things happen or what the outcome may produce. All I can do is be in each moment and apply as much Love to that moment as possible. So as I take each moment and apply as much Love as I can, why do I continue to have hurt feelings?

I'm a pleaser. You know, one of these folks who can't say 'no'. I'm the one who is always thinking of the other person. The one who picks up little surprises for a friend as I go about my day. I send cards just to say 'hi'. That girl. Love me. Love me. Love me. And when you can't love me how I think I want you to love me, I get hurt. I hate being that girl. It's clear that the school bus beat down was the catalyst to my present behavior. I'm so fearful of being shunned that I begin to cling. I detest this about myself.

I don't want to be an island but it does feel safer alone. I am working on finding the self-confidence that is buried deep under the scars. And I'm working on loving myself. Yikes... Ok, there's the core of it.

How does one fall in love with them self?

The more I realize that I am divinity the easier it is to feel self love. Greater self love can only lead to more peace in my heart. Peace in my heart can only lead to more love and peace to share with others. Right? Then, the question remains, where did my thick skin go?

When I worked for GMRI right out of college, we were taught to put our thick skin on. Don't get hurt and, as my mentor drilled into my head, NEVER let them see you cry. I was never the most resilient girl but as I have gotten into a holistic practice it has completely dissolved. I can cry at the drop of a hat. My nerves are raw from too much emotion. Everything has turned into a spiritual life lesson. It's exhausting. So now I work on finding that balance. Ugh.

Tink sent me some writings this morning on the 'wounded healer' complex. I think this describes me to a tee. And I know I'm not alone. Many folks who get into 'healer mode' do so in self preservation. When we realize that there is only one Self, then do we see the greater healing of all. This is where I am in healing my school bus drama. I do wish that It didn't hurt so much to heal though.

One of the revelations I had after working with my dear friend and healer, KWB, was that when I chose to drive my own kids to school every day so they wouldn't have to ride the bus, I put myself 'on the bus' instead. Every day I take them to school and pick them up. It is a burden that I willingly offer up for their benefit as I perceive it. I am forced, every day twice a day, to wait in the lobby of the elementary school. It is unbearably loud. There are children running all over. I am surrounded by my peers. And I stand alone. Every day. I have put myself back on the bus. It was this revelation that started the deep healing process from pain that was caused when I was 12 years old.

So the healing has begun as well as the forgiveness. I am trying to forgive that boy who damaged me. I am trying to forgive my inner child for taking the abuse and letting it continue to be a part of me. And I am forgiving myself for putting grown me on the bus everyday for the last 5 years.

This week is Marley's last day at the elementary school. I know there will still be times when I'll feel like I'm 'back on the bus' again as my children continue through school but I won't be in this situation everyday twice a day anymore. I definitely have learned lessons and have grown through this experience. I am conscious that I chose this situation as a means to growth. 

Although I am finding answers and even forgiveness in this most recent life lesson I do wish that the feelings of being 'left out' and 'not good enough' would go away. I'm looking for some thick skin to put on that only allows for Love to pass in and out and enables me to stand strong even in the strongest winds of betrayal. 

Even though it's finally summer vacation I already know that this is the next subject on the lesson plan.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Exit Light....Enter Night.....

Take my hand.... Off to Never Never Land.

"Krissy, you'll always remember what street you live on if you remember what Peter Pan lost."

Hello Darkness, my old friend. Not really glad that you're back, but now that you are, and so soon after your last visit, we must find a way for you to leave quickly.

Yup, I'm blue again. Things have gotten dark in my world. I'm having such a hard time shaking this off. Trying to find the bright side of life when you keep getting kicked while you're down is anything but easy or cheery. And why this continues to happen at certain times of the year is perplexing. 

A myriad of issues can trigger the darkness but the underlying recent issue is something that I am going through this past year or so. I can't talk about it just yet for many reasons but hopefully I'll be able to soon. It's not a life or death issue and I understand that this is only a blip on the radar. Compared to what a lot of people are going through, this is only a minor challenge. I get it. I do, really. Nonetheless, it is sending me into the depths of darkness. When you start to pile on the daily woes and personal growth obstacles, the weight of the shadows begins to become unbearable.

The best way to describe it is like a pool of bloody ink in my belly that starts to swirl, churning my bowels. Then the bony hands begin to reach up from the depths of my gut and strangle me from the inside out until I can't breathe and the panic sets in. Once I'm in that state, it's feels like it's impossible to get out.

Eventually the light will start to filter in. It may come as a hug from my daughter or a laugh from my son. The full recovery still feels like it is a million miles away. I'll be grasping for the light-filled moments until they become more regular attendees at this morbid party.

I've been here before and gotten out before. I know the party will end eventually. I keep reminding myself that I can choose to skip these dark events. How much of this is my choice is something that I struggle to understand. How much of this I created is another story. So now I choose to find some light, even if it's only in the backyard sunshine.


I'm sorry if this is too much 'honesty' for you. I could easily write about all of the wonderful, positive moments that happen every day in my life and conveniently skip this side of myself. I could, as many bloggers I know do, but how true would that be? This is part of my healing process and if you don't like it I'm quite sure you can find fluff to read elsewhere.

In the meantime, I'm trying to learn to embrace my dark side as much as I celebrate my light. I can't escape it, it's part of me. Only Peter Pan had to have his dark side sewed on to him. I already have Tink by my side so I know I'll be okay.  

I guess that's what you get when you grow up on Shadow Lane.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Eat. Pray. Crap.

I admit it, I'm a Yoga snob.

Once upon a time in Litchfield, Connecticut there was a little girl who lived on a Christmas tree farm. That little girl grew up to become extremely wealthy by selling out her spirituality in a very famous book which then became a movie starring a very famous actress....

Alright, so I'm a snob and a jealous bitch. But at least I admit it.

I really disliked this book. I admit I read it, cover to cover, but I forced myself most of the way. The more I tried to find something in it of value the more I detested it. There are several reasons for my extreme opinion of this book:

First off, it irritated me no end that, although he is married to a Yoga teacher, my husband was swayed by the women he worked with to read it. We've been together going on a quarter century and he has read less than 5 books in this time. EPL was one of them. Can you fucking believe this?!?

Secondly, how come the author never divulges the name of her guru? Most of the disciples I know do whatever they can for their beloved teacher. It just comes across as shady that there aren't more pranams offered to this mysterious guru.

Thirdly, (here's the big one) it must be really nice to have the means, time and lack of responsibility to wander off in your thirties to try to find yourself. Hurl. Told you I was jealous.

Ok, let's expound on that last one.

Anyone can re-find their passion for food in Italy. I mean, for crying out loud, who the hell doesn't like pizza? And if you don't like pizza, there's gelatti. And if you don't like ice cream, there's wine and cheese. Sheesh. Here's a test, try re-finding your love of food when you are cooking for a fussy kid and it's either pb&j or mac and cheese 10 times per week! It's in the moment of sinking your teeth into an orange marmalade and peanut butter on white bread sandwich while having a carpet picnic with your fussy kids  surrounded by laundry piles that you also re-find love in your life.

And sure, one of my dreams is to go to my own Guru's ashram in India and pray with Her. But I learned how to pray because of what She has taught me when I am away from Her. It is the blessings She has bestowed upon me that have led me to the people in my life that I pray with today. I actually was missing Her earlier this week and thanks to the wonders of the Internet I was able to look up my Guru on 'You Tube'. I know it sounds foolish but I was able to connect with Her and feel Her divine Love right through the computer. Even this was unnecessary and I knew it but it made me feel better. When I went to visit my bestie, Tink, a couple of weeks ago I was green with envy when I saw her Yoga room and there were beautiful photos of our Guru on the wall. Just looking at photos of Her feet filled my soul with Love. But even photos are unnecessary. She is with me always. I know this in my heart and when I feel disconnected I am not disconnected from my Guru, but rather from my own heart. Meditation, chanting or reading of the scriptures can bring me right back, all without a passport to India.

And let's talk about Love. Sure, it's a tough one. The heroine of our crappy story felt like she got married too early and they grew apart...yada, yada, yada. Her only way out was a divorce, a rebound lover and then a trip around the world to find a millionaire in Bali. Let's try this instead; look over to the man snoring beside you in his threadbare long underwear. Pretend he is a sexy, foreign millionaire. Then try to remember why you picked him to snore beside you. Instead of thinking about how you've 'grown apart' think about how you've grown up together. People change. I mean, here is the man that wanted me to give up Yoga for him, before he read EPL....

I never recommend EPL as a book for serious students to read. It's fine for the 'designer label spiritual seekers' but for someone who is looking to truly find their own heart there are much better tomes. Start with Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda. It reads like fiction but is true. From there go to The Bhagavad Gita. I like the Stephen Mitchell translation. It's short and easy to digest. Then finally read The Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali. It is also short and there are many translations to choose from. The 'Sutras' and the 'Gita' are scriptures, thousands of years old. They are the foundations of Yogic spirituality.

If you can get through those three, then pick up EPL and see if you haven't already found out that there's no place like home to find yourself. 

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Girl with the Curl

"There once was a girl with a curl right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good, she was very good but when she was bad, she was awful!"

"Sure! You gave her all the good stuff!"

"Comb that hair, Krissy! You look like the wild woman of Borneo!"

My hair has always been a source of envy of other people as well as one of the things I can't decide if I love or hate about myself. I know I'm not alone. A lot of women have hair issues. It has just been within the last few years that I have realized just how much I have misunderstood my hair and how my hair has caused others to misunderstand me.

I'm stuck in the 80's. I loved that time in my life! Fun clothes, great music and BIG, CURLY hair was in!!! I mean, what's not to love?? I tried a short do for awhile in high school but I have so many 'cowlicks' around my face that a short style was impossible to keep up with. My high school sweetheart loved long hair, so as many women do to try and please their men, I grew my hair and never looked back.

Basically my entire adult life I have had long hair. It is all over the place and I can't help it. It is unruly and I try to control it. My hair truly has a life of it's own. It's stuck on my clothes. It gets caught in the car window. I hate when it gets in my face but I can't stand to have it restrained. When it's too long it gives me a headache. So much of it comes out in the shower that my father used to tease me and say that he was going to collect it to sew himself a toupee....

But this wild hair is mine and I own it. I really am not into spending hundreds of dollars and hours like other women trying to change it. When I get a haircut my stylist will blow it straight, just for a change. I can barely recognize myself in the mirror. I think I look ridiculous with straight hair. It is a bizarre experience for me. It will usually last a couple of days until it screams at me to be washed and then it's curly again. I don't have the skills to blow it straight myself or to even set it in curlers to try and control it. A woman's hair is exhausting.

Once when I was in college one of my co-workers put his hand on my shoulder and accidentally touched my hair. He said out loud, "I can't believe how soft your hair is. I mean it's so curly I just thought it would be bristly...." That was the first time I had ever heard that! I was so surprised at the comment that it has stayed with me but I never examined the thought process behind it until a couple of years ago. I was watching the 'Millionaire Matchmaker'; a stupid reality show about millionaires who can't find women and have to be professionally matched up. The 'matchmaker' interviews each prospective woman and if the women don't come in with pin straight hair, they get sent home. She tells them, in her thick New York accent that, "Men don't wanna get their hair stuck in that bush." I was shocked! Do men actually think like that?!? It can't be!

It has to be more than just the physicality of the mechanics. I refuse to believe that all men are that shallow. Some maybe, but not all. This revelation made me start to take notice of other women. Take for example a wedding we recently attended. There were about 140 people there and you figure about half of them are women. So out of roughly 70 women of all kinds of ethnicity, I was the only one with curly hair in the room. One of the bridesmaids had curls, but it was clear to see they were produced by rollers. There was not one other woman there embracing her Goddess-given curls. Hmm...

As a child I had considered joining a nunnery until I found out that the first thing they did to you when you got there was shave your head. I have always heard that a woman's hair is her 'crowning glory', so shaving my head sounded traumatic. I'll take a pass on the nunnery, thank you. When Shri Dhyanyogiji came to America, He was shocked to see women with short hair. When His disciples asked why this was bothersome, He replied that a woman's hair hides her karma. That's a huge concept to wrap your mind around. To fully grasp it you must first have to have a immense understanding of karma. Karma is so complex that many gurus tell their students to not even try to understand it. So the fact that your hair can hide it is mind blowing.

But this still doesn't address the issue of curly VS straight....

When I was little, my 'gram' would recite to me the poem at the top of the page. This made me wonder, even as a child, if it was my curly hair that made me naughty. My sisters taunt me to this day that I got the 'good hair', whatever that means. As a child I was endlessly harassed to, "Comb it! What will people think if your hair is so wild?"

OK, now we're getting somewhere!

There is a huge misconception about women that they are their hair. If your hair is straight and breezy but doesn't fly away, you are perceived as easy to get along with and in control of yourself. If your hair is curly, unruly and maybe even frizzy you are perceived as complicated and uncontrollable. (It seems that misconceptions are magnified 1000x if you are an African-American woman!)

My favorite discussion on this topic was in the show 'Sex and the City' when Carrie loses Big to a straight haired girl:

Although I am not my hair, it is just like my spirit; unruly and wild. It's mine and I love it. Love me? Love my hair too.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Which Do/Be Youbie?

'To be or not to be?' This truly is the question, now isn't it?

I have had a lot of brand new students to my classes lately. This is a wonderful thing and brings me incredible joy. It really pushes me to get back into my 'Beginner's Mind' and to try to remember what 'downward facing dog' felt like that first time. Newbies force me to check my languaging; to find more creative ways of leading a posture or breath. Plus there is that bliss of bringing others to the path that has given me so much passion and Love. I have always said that even if I can only bring this passion and Love to one other person, then I have done what God has asked. Hopefully it will be way more than one.

But as a human and an instructor there is an element of newbies that intrigues me. It is the energy of their postures. Rarely do I see a beginner that, as corny and cliche as it sounds, IS a posture. This is something that I usually only see from seasoned students or other Yoga instructors. And I do know how truly corny this does sound. I am one of those folks who thinks a lot of stuff is corny and weird and to 'be the posture' is probably the absolute corniest thing I can say as a teacher.

But there is Truth in it.

You can either DO or BE. You have the choice. Some days I just 'do' but most times, in my Yoga practice at least, I 'be'. On days that I 'do' Yoga, I am usually tired and in a lot of pain. When, in those moments, I am able to give in to the Prana suddenly I will find myself not doing but being. Here is the magic of Yoga. Surrendering to Prana takes a huge leap of faith and trust in the unknown. I mean, what the hell is prana anyway?!? It's the same as asking, "What is electricity?" But you trust that when you flip the switch that the lights will come on. Prana is the same thing. Flip the prana switch and the Light will come on. Maybe it is that unconscious fear of the Light that causes us to just 'do'.... (Hmmm, I'm gonna ponder on that one for a bit...)

'Being a posture' has an energy behind it that is hard to describe but you can see it in a beginner's frame. When an arm is up over the head but is not energized, it looks dead. The energy actually stops where the Prana is stuck. Try this: flex your feet towards your face. Feel the energy in that simple movement? Now let go of the flexion. Feel how the energy 'dies'? This is what I'm referring to. And you may not feel anything at all. That's ok, but this story will seem really weird if that's the case...

Lots of times the do/be shows in the face. The 'do' student often has the uncertain 'deer in the headlights' fear look. When you see the awake student 'being a posture', Light actually radiates from the face. They glow from the inside out. The Prana switch has been flipped on! Jai! (victory!)

So now the question is posed again: To be or not to be? Are you a human doing or a human being? Are you holding the posture or is the posture holding you? Personally, I'd rather be shining Light than not, but that's just me. So I'm going to BE. BE ME!!

Now you decide, for now at least. At some point you may not have a choice. As 'A Course In Miracles' declares, "This is a required course. Only the time you take it is voluntary. Free will does not mean that you can establish the curriculum. It means only that you can elect what you want to take at a given time."

Do or be?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Shakti Shimmy

"Hey, girl! Wanna a burger with that shake?"
Tink and I have been talking about 'kriyas' lately. This is a very bizarre part of a spiritual path, so indulge me a little.
Kriyas (cree-ya) are involuntary movements caused by spiritual energy moving through the body. This website describes them pretty well. The first time you experience a kriya you think you are going out of your mind. It is even hard to tell where the movement is generated. The best way for me to describe how they feel is to say it is similar to when you are just falling asleep and your body jerks. Although those jerky movements are more electrical currents from the brain and kriyas are not.

Kriyas don't scare me. In fact, I enjoy them because when I am having increased kriyas I know that I am near Truth. I have seen amazing displays of kriyas whenever I have been in the physical presence of my Guru, Shri Anandi Ma. The most vigorous, almost violent display was from a woman sitting near me when I was a new disciple. It was so uncontrolled that I thought she had tic douloureux. I have seen a woman uncontrollably writhing with delight at Ma's feet during meditation. Dileepji, Anandi Ma's husband, often will just tell people to control their kriyas when Ma is instructing. It is hard to receive when all of this energy wants to escape the physical body. When he gives this command, the kriyas will just stop. Just like that.

My beloved Shri Anandi Ma

This leads to an interesting quandary.... If kriyas start on their own and are caused by energy, how come you can stop them with your mind? The answer, as I have understood it, is simple: Ask and you shall receive. That's why. As disciples of an enlightened being, we are instructed to pray to Anandi Ma for help to stop these. This works.

Kriyas can be disturbing though. When your body is flinching, shaking, or trembling we automatically think of the central nervous system. This is correct even when analyzing this completely weird part of spirituality because the sushumna lies near the spinal column and the ida and pingala wrap around the sushumna. The Kundalini's shakti winds it's way up towards the crown and sometimes Her shakti is so powerful that is is released through other parts of the body. This is nothing to be scared of or disturbed by.

(I bet if you are not a yogi, you are surprised to recognize this symbol! Yes, this is the sushumna, ida and pingala. Amazing, huh?)

One case of kriyas that I always think of is Swami Kripalu. His sadhana (personal, spiritual practice) created so much prana that it was violent at times. He practiced behind locked doors, only allowing a select few to bear witness. He often came out battered and bruised. This neither scared nor phased him. It only brought him closer to enlightenment. Also consider American religions; Shakers and Quakers. Kriyas are how they got their names. The often shook during prayer.


So you may someday find yourself quaking during class, meditation or prayer. Have no fear. Feel free to shake what the good Lord gave ya'!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

That's Why They Call it the Blues. The Kapha Blues, that is.

The following is my own experience. Feel free to have your own opinion.

I'm a kapha. I couldn't get more kapha if I tried. Kapha is one of the three Ayurveda constitutions. You can determine your own dosha by taking this simple, basic quiz. In fact when I took this quiz lately I actually had 0% pitta and 0% vata....ugh.

We all have qualities of all three doshas. Vata is primarily an air quality. Pitta is fire. Kapha is water and earth. Think of people you know. We use terms like 'air head', 'hot head', 'sluggish' to describe other people or how we're feeling. This is often a reflection of our doshas.

I've talked about my dosha before but I'm really out of balance right now. The month of January has put me in a kapha funk for the last few years. I'm usually out of it by February but this year it's taking me a little longer. (hence no blogs for most of those two months this year)

Here's my experience of what it feels like being as kapha as I am: If I'm in a water imbalance, I feel like I'm drowning. If the water and the earth are both prevailing, my blood actually feels like mud. If I'm finding some pitta (fire) in my life, I feel grounded. (the fire evaporates the water element and dries out the earth that enables me to stand firm) I rarely have a vata (air) imbalance but when I do I can actually get light-headed.

Sometimes being kaphic is fun. We're lovers, huggers and so very giving. We love to eat. My husband is also a kapha so our best vacations are lounging on a beach then going out to dinner. Personally, I think it is not so great to have two kaphas in a close relationship for that very reason. We struggle to find the motivating fire that can keep our lives going...but again, that's my experience.

The last two months I have been enveloped in a kaphic depression. I feel like that commercial with the swimmers in a pool of caramel. I can barely move. My thoughts are muddy. I don't want to face life, especially the aspects of life that require me to be fiery. I have absolutely no fire at all.

I have just started to emerge from this mud bath in the last few weeks. It's been rough though. Aas I start to emerge and feel better I can look back and see all the things in my life that have fallen through the cracks while I've been down. Here is where I have to give myself some space and not beat myself up. This is probably the worst case of the blues I have had in many years. This time around I have been excellent about not feeling guilty about feeling bad. I have done specific things to take care of myself. And most importantly, I have been honest with those around me that I haven't been feeling well, including my children. I took this time in my life to explain to them that Mom's brain isn't working as best as it can right now. We talked about, "What would we do if one of us had a broken leg? Or the flu?". We talked about how sometimes we go to a doctor. Sometimes we take medicine. Sometimes we pray. Sometimes we do all three and more. They understand this. They have even checked in with me to say, "How are you feeling today, Mom?". They are amazing.

Your brain is the most important part of your body. You must take care of it. When it doesn't feel good, it's ok. All of us get the blues, kaphic or not. Just know that it's ok to seek help. Realize why you're blue. Take preventative measures if you feel it coming on and let the people who love you the most know so that they can support you as you would them.


Here's a wonderful website I found that specifically deals with kaphic depression. Click here.

Many blessings to my fellow kaphas. May you find your fire somewhere....

Friday, February 25, 2011

Tink on the Bridge

There's nothing better than a bff.

When I was saying my affirmations this morning I threw an extra one in: "I am so happy and grateful that I am surrounded by like-minded, light bearing friends." And I truly am. During the last few years I have found amazing people in my life. Not just a living guru but several sister-friends, brother-friends, mentors and healers. All beloved by yours truly. Each unique and gifted in their own right. Each called forth by my karma to help me 'work it out'.

But there still is nothing like your very bestest friend. And if you've been following along with me, you know mine by the moniker of Tink. (read our story here)

Even though we live only about an hour or so away from each other, busy lives keep us apart. We have been planning a trip to a fantasy spa in New York for months and are determined to get there in March. She's been there once before and can't help regale me with the details; my mouth drooling. Ice rooms, several whirlpools, steam baths, heated floors.....aaahhhhh! I can't wait! Oh, the stories there will be to tell after that adventure....

We call each other once a week or so. It's the usual friend talk; How's things going on your end? How many classes are you teaching this week? What's new in the physical ailment department? What holistic treatments are you experimenting with for that? And on and on....

One of the most wonderful things about our friendship is that we are both Yoga teachers. Since we met in Yoga school, we received the same basic education in postures and have a similar understanding of asana and their energetics. I'll frequently think about Tink when I'm teaching. I wonder if she leads a posture the same way I do. I'm curious if she'll lead in to an asana the same way I do. I wonder if she has a different understanding of the energetics. We've never taken each other's classes, much to our mutual dismay. Someday.

This morning in my class we were working on setu bandhasana, bridge. During bridge I had an awakening. My upper body was so tight. Why have I been leading the muscle engagement this way all this time?!? I played with adjusting contracted muscles to see if I could still get the chest lift I was looking for while relaxing my torso. It was an experiment, as all Yoga is, but I kept thinking about Tink. I knew she would understand my question and be able to not only relate but also give me other philosophies behind this very complex posture.

So there we were on the phone tonight talking about bridge. I explained my dilemma and described to her how I lead students into bridge. She asked why I don't lead the more difficult arm position for bridge, only the torso part. I explained that I see so many students who are desperate for the 'look' of a full bridge that they'll contort their arms regardless of how poorly the rest of their posture is aligned. I got so tired of over explaining bridge and still seeing this that I just stopped leading arms. There's also my fear factor that someone will get hurt because they think it has to look a certain way.

Tink and I kept on this subject for nearly half an hour. One asana! And we could have gone on longer... There was one moment in this rather serious conversation, though, that made me laugh as only my bff can do. It was when she said, "Wait. I'm in bridge on my kitchen floor." I should have known she would have gotten into the posture. That's what Yoga teachers do. It was easier for her to feel the energetics and my dilemma if she actually could feel it in her body.

It's not unheard of for us to break into postures anywhere when we're together. We'll get on the topic of class, students or asanas and all of a sudden it's spontaneous Yoga! This includes restrooms, restaurants, shops, parking lots, etc. I had to laugh at the thought of us at the fantasy spa, sans Yoga clothes, breaking into asana in the Ice Room.... I told you there would be stories to tell!


It's not the first time that Tink and I have 'been on the bridge' together. We both have the same guru although we received Shaktipat several years apart. One of the post-Shaktipat ceremonies is to throw a coconut into a body of natural water. Weird, I know. I won't get into why you have to do this, but you have to. So after Tink went through Shaktipat we had scheduled a play date. We hadn't seen each other in over a year and a half. We had so much to talk about. She brought her coconut with her. It was a cold winter day and we walked to the nearby bridge over the Naugatuck River . We ceremoniously threw her coconut off the bridge. It made a loud thunk on a rock then floated away downstream. This is a once in all your lifetimes experience and I was honored she allowed me to be there when she did it. We laughed at what the drivers in the cars next to us must have thought. We walked arm in arm off the bridge. Every time I drive over that bridge, I see us there and hear her Shaktipat coconut's thunk.


I guess friends are the bridges of life. There to support you over turbulent waters. There to keep you on the right road. And there to hold you up as you throw your karma downstream.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sh!t I say in class....

Inhale....exhale....stretch...keep mindful.... Yada. Yada. Yada.

We Yoga teachers all have the same basic vocabulary. It's part of the brainwashing process I like to refer to as 'Yoga School'. The magic happens when the words are strung together, during asana (postures), with inflection and personality. Most classes the same spiel is used and it can get very boring when you are saying pretty much the same thing over and over and over. I often wonder if my students get tired of this dribble but then I remember that it's me, not them, who has to listen to me speak at every class...

Sometimes though, true pearls fall out of mouth and I amaze myself. Those are moments I treasure during class and I'll silently tease myself that "I haven't heard that one before!" Then I wonder if I'll remember to use the new phrase again next time I'm leading that certain asana. Many times I don't.

A lot of the language is actually taught in Yoga school but a great deal of it comes out through the asana itself. It is during the times of holding a posture when I intuitively vocalize a stream of consciousness that is generated through the energy of the asana. I have studied Sanskrit and I am a firm believer in the science of it. I strongly feel that it should be used in Yoga class because much of the energy of the posture is actually in the name itself. There are a lot of teachers who don't use the Sanskrit names of postures and feel they don't need to. That's fine for a lot of people but I'm a traditionalist.

I love Sanskrit. It is a mathematical language; genius in it's development and powerful in it's vibrational frequencies. It is beautiful to look at in written form. Chanting the names of the divine in Sanskrit leads to pure bliss. Don't believe that? Check out a Krishna Das kirtan then get back to me. In fact, I can't count the times I have had a new student come up to me at the end of class and ask, "What IS that music you are playing??? I loved it!" Take one look in their glassy eyes and you'll see the power kirtan.

There are days in class when the language won't flow the way I want it. I'll be so tongue tied between English and Sanskrit that I won't know my right hand from my left leg. I can laugh at myself and it's always funnier when the students catch me before I can catch my own flub. Sometimes I get so blissed out that I'll lead them, accidentally, into a physically impossible pose. I'll realize what I've said when I see the looks on their faces trying to figure out what I just asked them to do. My regular students know my shtick, if you will, but the newbies get caught off guard when I make these gaffes. I'll catch myself and the whole class will have a laugh.

My first Yoga teacher, in all the years I studied with her, made only one verbal flub that I ever heard. This made me put so much pressure on myself when I became a teacher. I was so focused on clear speech during class that the first time I got tongue tied I almost cried. Finally I realized that I just needed to be myself regardless of the flubs and the students would just have to come to terms with my humanness.

Every now and then something slips out that isn't a flub that turns into 'Yoga Twister' but just comes out not how I intended. When you are talking about the human body this is pretty easy to do. It's during those awkward moments that I never know how to get myself out of it but just keep going and hope no one holds it against me. Such as the time during an intense asana that I announced to the students, "Now's a good time to explore your body.".....


Breathe in. Breathe out. Move on.