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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Live in Love. Rest in Peace.

On the mat, we learn to be present.  We focus on our breath & movement and all the spaces in between, while snuggling up to our edge.  This climate makes the ground fertile for opening up to possibility in a potent, mindful way.  We practice lessons on the mat that we hope will join us in our lives off the mat.  These lessons live out loud in the moments of our lives, to varying degrees, depending on how open we remain during our daily rhythm.

I found out yesterday that one of my best friends from high school died.

Jon called me eight years ago and left a cryptic message, one that put me off a bit.  I was nervous to call him after not talking with or seeing him since the late 80’s when we’d already begun to grow apart; a couple of days later I called and left him a message.  When I didn’t hear back from him, I didn’t pursue it and life went on.  Periodically, he would pop into my mind, but I was content to live with my happy memories of him.  If I’d been awake, would I have contented myself with letting it go without any effort?  
I wonder who is perched on the periphery of my life now, unnoticed, whose voice I’m not hearing.
When I’m on my mat, deepening my practice to truly meet my edge, do I honor the hours of effort and sweat that got me here or does all progress live in a bubble?  How do I honor Jon now, in hindsight & absentia?  His friendship was a pivotal one in the world of who I was and the paths I chose that brought me here.  His spirit lives in who I’ve become.  
While Jon’s significance in my life waned over the years since high school, his death has brought our friendship to the present moment & magnified lessons lost and lessons learned.
Love, like our spirit, does not disappear, it just changes form.  
Rest in Love & Peace, old friend!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Falling in Love

It’s still February, which means it’s still all about love on this blog (though love will be featured in many forms well beyond this month).
Right now I’m feeling the tingle of new love.  It is the love of an unexpected dream, becoming clearer ever day and slowly becoming real.  
I felt this feeling when I was dating my now husband at the start, and as the romance began to weave its way into my daily life.  I felt this feeling when I unrolled my mat for the second time and still had no idea what to expect, only that I was meant to be there.  I am feeling this feeling now, as I am beginning to discover a part of myself all grown up, but with a youthful relish I’d thought long since dormant.
I miss my mat and am looking forward to resume my asana practice (next week), but have been well Yoga-nourished through writing, breathing and blossoming in unexpected ways.
It will be a long journey to get my body reacquainted with the physical practice, but the good news is that I get to fall in love all over again.  I get to practice patience with myself, leaving a lot of room to grow perhaps not into the self I was but the person I can be.
So, as I’m returning to more than just a beginner’s mind, but a beginner’s body as well, I am returning to the sensation of falling in love.  And, while I’m growing a new business and forging ahead in the direction of my dream, I am falling dizzily in love with possibility.
There’s poetry in falling, whether it’s with a person, a direction, an experience, yourself or something altogether different.  There’s beauty in knowing that you can be true to your love and at the same time, fall in love the rest of your life.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

romance |rōˈmans; ˈrōˌmans| (noun)

romance |rōˈmans; ˈrōˌmans|

1 a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love : in search of romance.

What I like about this definition is how easily it can be translated into one’s daily journey, transforming the ordinary into something special.  
It’s been a while since I’ve engaged in any formal practice (body still in healing mode), but the love, excitement & mystery surrounding my practice still ride my breath and inform my heart.  I’m approaching a place of great anticipation with regard to diving back onto the mat.  This excitement yields to the unknown and is cradled in love.  
I guess this means that there’s an aspect of romance associated with Yoga!  
I’ve always felt love on the mat, but never imagined it a romantic love.  I guess it goes to the idea that love is love; in its wholeness, it embodies endless components--all inclusive and indistinct from any definition.
The italics at the end of this dictionary definition, in search of romance, implies a journey.  As a single person, in search of romance in the form of a partner, I was single-minded in this pursuit.  Love was in abundance in my life and the more I felt it the more I wanted to share it with one person.
And then February would arrive loaded with love under a microscope.
Valentine’s Day became a day that belonged to couples and seemed to exclude the bigger notion of love.  Even though I’m now happily married with children, Valentine’s Day still pushes my buttons.  
Love is important enough to honor on more than just one day which is why I’m taking the whole month to highlight love.  The celebration, however, is ongoing and never-ending.
In my efforts to keep love all-inclusive, I would be doing a great injustice if I ignored the romantic love that nourishes me from the inside out.  So, in the spirit of romantic love (and not the Valentine’s Day definition), I will dig out a love poem I wrote a long time ago that captures a moment of romance & all-consuming love.
From the Filing Cabinet:
A glimmer from your eyes
Inspires spontaneous words of love
It sings of days gone by
And further ones above.
Your love is rich like chocolate cake
There is nothing to compare
For when your eyes reach my gaze
My soul yearns for its share.
It leaves my body for just a moment
To contact yours inside
It breathes you in and then back out
Within my heart to reside.
My heart is full with daily bliss
The ordinary details of each day
Among my blessings I count you high
When beside your body I lay.
So be a kid with me when moments call
And reach deep when needs arise
For when it’s all said and done
Together we are the prize.

This is an example of love manifesting in nature.  This heart-shaped branch greets me every morning as a reminder that love can be found in the most unexpected places if your eyes & heart are open.

Happy Valentine's Day, One & All!

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Secret of Love

There is a secret to love.  It’s unique in its nature.  
That is, the more you love the more you can love.
I whispered this truth over and over in my eldest daughter’s ear when our second daughter was born, and again to both of them when our third arrived.  This simple profundity is clearer every day. 

I am baffled by this expansive force.  There are times I can’t imagine loving my children more than I do in that moment and then tomorrow comes and I do.  When I think I have enough friends, that love is stretched to the limit, I meet someone I feel I’ve known my whole life and realize there are no limits to loving.  I think of the love my husband and I felt for each other on our wedding day and now see it as the bud it was, watching it flourish every day.
Yoga weaves a similar sense of boundlessness which is no less baffling.  How is it that these physical poses and stretches can be so magical?  Is the partnership of breath and mindfulness that powerful?  What is it about this practice and its philosophies that inspire such strong feelings and experiences on and off the mat?
Whether it’s a family member, friend or experience, there are similarities which encourage this mystery of love to unfold.  Each is a landscape of discovery, opening up to possibility with every new moment.  
Love is life's permission to explore and rejoice, be still and recognize a universal sadness.  It is whole and ever-growing.
Remember, the secret of love is that the more you love, the more room you have to love.  Don’t keep it to yourself; spread the word.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Ambient Love

Love can arrive in unexpected ways.  
On the mat I find love in every drop of sweat that rides my breath.  Every movement holds a physical or emotional memory that releases love in one way or another.  The scent of Nag Champa incense makes me smile & adds to the feelings of love while it transports me to places where love reigns.
Today, I am in a converted warehouse coffee shop waiting to meet an artist to discuss a logo design.  Sitting here, amid the daytime activities of those around me, I am “on my mat” being transported and feeling the love.
love this place.
It has a small town vibe and isn’t very crowded, but it also feels charged with creativity and possibility.  Pockets of people discussing projects and fleshing out details, while individuals occupy corners, reading the NY Times, rocking babies in strollers or typing away at their laptops.  There’s a writer talking to her editor about wanting her chapters to flow into one another without the reader getting attached to any character or action (love how she explained it) and a group of men, who look like web designers from the dot com years but are really discussing green building construction projects.  I love the energy generated by brains storming with ideas on the road to fruition.
Conversations cross over tables and aisles when locals recognize each other or strangers feel inspired to start chatting.  The door opens and in comes in a hooded man bringing in the cold breeze he’s shielding himself from, followed by a professional looking lady who gets her coffee to go.  A woman in a wheelchair navigates the space with ease and her smile invites others to join in the exchange of words and ideas.  
The neighborhood feeling is inescapable. 
Then there’s me, drinking my coffee and eating my pastry, waiting to meet an artist to discuss my logo.  But I’m early by a good twenty minutes.  Before he arrives it’s just me, notebook still tucked in my bag, listening and observing the surrounding activities.  This is one of the things I miss from living in Manhattan.  Not just everyday, pedestrian eavesdropping, but ears perking to words worthy of attention.
While I’m waiting for my interesting creative meeting to begin, the space has thinned out, leaving the funkiness of the place and beat of the music to fill the air.  That, and the anticipation of what’s to come.
This is much the same as the feeling of falling in love.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Love Is...

I love the idea of celebrating love.  
When I think of Valentine’s Day, though, it’s not that celebration that comes to mind.  I think of Hallmark doing great business, flower shops selling out of roses, couples out for romantic dinners, people attaching the essence of their love to that day & feeling sad when significant others forget and people whose love is no less potent but who may not have one special person with whom to share it on that day.  
It’s February.  Rather than focusing the celebration of love on Valentine’s Day, and exclusively on romantic love, I will use this month to dabble in various expressions of love.  
When I was in college, some friends were talking about their love lives and one of them had mentioned that she said, “I love you” to the guy she was dating, after just days being together.  I offered my opinion that it seemed too soon for that sort of declaration.  My friend, Dana, then blurted out (in a sort of snarky way), “That, from YOU!  Miss love Everyone.”  
I froze, searching for my truth.  How could I be someone who approaches most people with love and still think it was too early for her to say it out loud to a new boyfriend?  (Now, the answer seems fairly obvious.)
I was (and still am) unapologetically a hippie at heart.  I like to frame things through the lens of love (though sometimes it can be challenging & I miss the mark).  Dana’s comment, though, caught me off guard and I didn’t have the sense to answer it as I would today.  And that is, in my daily expressions I love my parents in a different way than I love my husband who I love differently than I love my kids, friends and pets who I love in a different way than I love the ocean, trees, mountains & forests.  That’s when I break it down and recognize love's various shades, grades & levels of intensity.  
When the silence before sleep descends, however, all of those variants blend into one picture of love, where there are no distinguishing lines.  I am reminded that love is love.
As I rediscover my Yoga practice, with the temporary physical limitations I must honor, I will extend love's reach & set my intention to love where I am now.  I am grateful for a body & mind that are open to being flexible & surprised.  
Rather than catagorizing love any further, I will take this month as an opportunity to use this space to express, share, explore & celebrate the ever-giving gift of love.