OK, you know from my book review of We Are All Weird that I love Seth. I even got to share the stage with him briefly last week when he invited me to say a few words at The Medicine Ball Session about meditation and getting to know how your mind works. (Which is very important when you’re trying to navigate the tremendous ups and downs of starting/growing your business–I can say with all honesty that for me the biggest obstacle is,well, me. The tremendous ups and downs of emotion, self-confidence, and creative energy…) Here is a picture of this super cool occurrence.
I’m sure you have felt gentleness time and again for those you love or admire: your child, lover, a hero of music or politics, even your pet. You think of this creature and your heart melts. You feel how deeply you wish for their ease, and not because they “deserve” it. There actually is no reason at all for this feeling, beyond love. Your heart is simply open.
When have you ever felt this toward yourself? It is very, very important that you look at yourself in just this way. Please, starting today: soften toward this precious and irreplaceable being: YOU. All you have to do is notice her. She is like no other and has gifts to give that cannot be sourced elsewhere.
From here, you are able to feel this way for everyone, not just those you already love. In this way, by opening your heart, first to yourself and then to all beings, you open up to your own life.
I love yoga. I’ve been a half-assed student (which might be an asana, I’m not sure) for close to twenty years. I remember the moment I fell in love with the practice. It was at Kripalu. The teacher was Stephen (Kaviraj) Cope. The pose was trikonasana/triangle. Following Kavi’s precise verbal instruction and watching him model the pose with his beautiful (and beautifully human) body, I suddenly found that I was suspended in space in an unexpected way, my body draped into an unaccustomed but oddly thrilling design. It can do this, too?! I thought. How cool.
Kavi gave point-by-point instruction on how to find the proper alignment. Once there, we were encouraged to feel into it and then relax, including the awesomeness, including the oddness, the beauty, the discomfort, and the enjoyment of not knowing what it was supposed to feel like. His instruction to establish the pose but “relax around the holding” has served me to this day, on and off the mat.
From this, I learned that the first step in asana practice is precision. Each pose has a magical kind of integrity that is awakened only when animated by your body. Without alignment, the integrity goes away. From this precision, an opening of the energetic body is created. The pose then starts to animate you. And the third step, to let go—of expectation, judgment, hope, and fear—allows energy to continue flowing. In this way, honest transformation, the kind that transcends mere self-improvement, can occur.
Precision. Opening. Letting go. I had never related to myself in this way before and it changed the way I felt inside my body. I still love yoga for the same reasons, only more so.
Since then, I’ve been to like a zillion yoga classes: Iyengar, Ashtanga, Kripalu, Anusara, “Power,” Bikram, heated vinyasa, and on and on. I’m not a yoga snob and I pretty much like them all. As long as I shvitz, I don’t really care what the style is. Wherever I live, I just go to the studio closest to my house. Continue
This is a wonderful project featuring women helping women to love their bodies, heal their relationship with food, and sidestep the cultural urgings to find ourselves inadequate in the looks department. The important message of this project is that we can always choose to love ourselves.
30+ women writers (including me, Julie Daley, Marianne Elliot, Anna Guest-Jelley, Angela Kelsey, my beloved Jen Louden, Amy Pearson, Kate Svoboda, and others) wrote and, in some cases, recorded readings of letters to our younger selves. My video is below and please check out all the other moving, sweet, and fierce communications on this very important and mysterious topic.
Remember: When you choose love, you have nothing to lose.
About the project:
This morning I woke up with a feeling of depression. This is not unusual for me. Perhaps you can relate. I have struggled with depression for my entire life, since I was a small child. I really don’t know why and I sort of don’t really care why anymore. Nonetheless, I have had to find a way to work with it because it has bordered on being debilitating at many different points in my life.
The feeling I woke up with this morning was very familiar. A kind of heaviness in my body and a sense of being weighted down. A kind of mental activity I know quite well—that no matter where I looked in my life: my work, my relationship, my bank account, my home, my body, my future—it all looked bleak. Very bleak. Whenever this happens I dive into stories about how it got to be this way. True stories, I might add. I missed this opportunity. I made that wrong choice. My abilities are limited. Yes, true—on one hand. And utterly meaningless on the other. Continue
Sometimes we are just too agitated to meditate. It’s not even that we can’t find 10 minutes–it’s that when we do, it just feels too uncomfortable to sit. All the things on our to do list come up. The heart starts racing. The mind flips out. The more we sit, the more we freak ourselves out.
Sound familiar? This happens to me all the time. Here is what I do to get over the agitation that prevents me from meditating. Continue
From a participant in The Open Heart Project:
Q: “How can I increase my mindfulness when all the stressors of my life come into play at once?”
A: I really appreciate your question about becoming more mindful when you are experiencing moments of particular stress. This is totally doable. However–if by becoming more mindful, you mean ceasing to feel stress, it’s not going to work. When you are stressed (or happy or sad or bored or frustrated, and so on) the way to become more mindful is by simply placing your attention on your experience.
Hello everyone! A special hello to all the new subscribers who joined up in the past week. I look forward to getting to know you and helping you enter the practice of meditation. The Open Heart Project is growing by leaps and bounds and I’m thrilled to know how many people wish to learn meditation–which is synonymous with the wish to learn who you really are. Which is synonymous with awesome.
Today’s video (the one below on the left) is a little riff on why we meditate to begin with. Is it to become all spiritual? Unflappable? Is it to become more human? More genuine? Hmmm…. Check the video for the answer…
The second video (on the right) is today’s 10 minute guided meditation practice. Please give it a try.
Here is the audio version of video #1.
Here is the audio version of video #2.
Questions? Comments? Bring. Them. On. It make take me a little bit, but I answer all emails.
If you’d like to send a link this post and/or wish to comment on it, it lives on my blog here.
If you were to ask on Twitter, “What is your #1 book on meditation or spirituality?” this is what you would get. At least from my Twitterverse. Enjoy! Read them all! Or just read one with absolute comprehension! Become enlightened! Continue
I think I could turn and live with animals,
they are so placid and/self-contained
I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth.
Walt Whitman, from Song of Myself