Day 139: Overcoming Negative Thoughts

Two days ago, I got my septum pierced. I got the referral from my friends at the Movement Sanctuary in Bandra. It was surprising close to the studio. I have been dealing with some feelings of self-doubt and instead of letting these thoughts destroy my progress, I decided that it was time for a new piercing. I chose this piercing because I can hide it from some of the more conservative circles I am in.

See, overcoming this negative feelings and thoughts had to come out somehow. Rather than taking them out on my partner and my family, I chose to inflict some pain on myself to match the pain that was going on on the inside. It really is a release feeling the piercing needle going through your skin. It is a very safe way to deal with your emotions.

I highly recommend Ajay at Al’s on Hill Road in Mumbai. While I was there I met his mother who is beautiful with her arms covered in tattoos while wearing traditional dress. His older brother is a tattoo artist at the tattoo shop next door to the piercing shop. His sister also came in while I was getting the piercing and happens to be a graduate of the same yoga school that I went to. She even teaches for one of the instructors that taught me in my beginning teaching certification.

I have wanted this piercing for some time now and was going to wait until I went back to Rochester at Dorje Adornments where I have gotten all of my other piercings. However, my fluctuating mood brought me to a new place with new faces and new friends.

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Day 138: What Do You Cling To?

Recently, I was rejected by AppleNews to become a publisher through my blog. There reasoning was that my blog was too personal and not suited for a wider audience. There is a huge difference in my thinking and my reaction to receiving this news. At first, I was a little disappointed because it took me so long to even send in my submission. Then, my ego wanted to be mad and hurt. I said, “Not today ego, not today.”

The person that I have become is a long way from the person I was about three years ago. Facebook keeps reminding of that person everyday with posts of people I no longer speak to and have no contact with. For the most part, I have looked at these conflicts as lessons or mistakes I will never make again. Without these experiences, I would definitely be taking antidepressants and would be in deal that I have a lot of soul searching to do to find my inner happiness.

However, receiving the rejection letter from AppleNews was taken in two ways:

1. I have a lot of work to do still.

During my yoga journey, I am learning that nothing comes easy and the things that do aren’t sustainable or worth it in the end. I could have been accepted right away but then I would just mechanically type my blog post and publish it. Looking at the blog, I have a long way to go to reach a wider audience and, perhaps, a wide audience isn’t who I want to reach. With the rejection came questioning why I write in the first place. At first, this blog was to air out all the feelings and emotions that I have been holding on to. It has turned into a space where I write my thoughts gaining clarity some days and having more questions on others. Perhaps recording audio of each post would be a great way to engage people that don’t want to read.

2. My ego is what is writing all this in the first place.

We can’t wipe away our egos. Anyone who says that they are ego-less is showing their ego in that very statement. When I was hurt, at first, reading the email that stated that I didn’t comply with their guidelines. I chuckled because I have never been one to follow guidelines. The best part is on my website, I don’t have to follow anyone’s guidelines except for the basic ones provided by Squarespace. The entire site is about ego. I have a bio page where I talk generically about my story. My CV/resume is listed with all of the art shows I have done over the past decade. My photography portfolio of my travels in India is listed to show you how great of a photographer I am. Then, you can signup for my yoga newsletter to receive more information about me. This is what an honest view looks like.

I am a long way from being perfect but that is not my aim in the first place. My intent is to make the world a little better when I leave it than it was before I born into it. I expect no praise and don’t want it at the same time. Rejection can look many ways but your reaction to rejection can either hurt you or help you. The silver lining is that it is your choice if that hurt or help makes you grow or give up.

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Day 137: Changes

I have been wondering lately about my path in yoga. I have a strong desire to lead a life that is free from pain but I feel detached from others. I have been referred to as the Newton or the ‘sincere’ one in my class lately. Sometimes, I wonder if I am being mocked in some way or if people are meaning what they say because their actions regarding everything else states that I am being mocked. I don’t take offense. However, I do wonder what some people’s intent is.

I can’t change this world alone, yet, I find it hard to relate to people that want to single people out or engage in gossip. I am weak and have not gained the strength or will to not be sucked back into this world that all too familiar to me. There is so much unnecessary talking and not enough talking about what is important. Honestly, I get bored not with the people I am surrounded by but with what consumes them. This eventually consumes me.

I had a moment of clarity yesterday after my Bhagavad Gita regarding when is it ok to engage and not engage. It is ok to sit away from everyone so that I can protect myself from the negative energy circulating the room. It is ok to not talk and sit with my eyes closed. It is ok to state when something is not for me. I moved my place yesterday because there was a negativity coming through me and I didn’t want to spread that energy from the very center of the room. I moved over to the doors but it was taken that I moved because of a certain person or people.

I can’t control what people think but I can remain silent and not let them think otherwise. The Newton nickname comes from an Indian movie where a man follows his duties but lives in a world where everyone else doesn’t. I relate to this all too well. I am the accountability police. Perhaps that’s why my dad and I clash so much. The character in the movie feels that because he does his duties that everyone should as well. His problem is that he takes pride in doing his duties. I get that when you do something right that you want to feel good about it, but I get frustrated with things that are written and people that can’t follow through on their commitments.

I wait almost everyday for class to start on time so that our asana class doesn’t have to be shortened. When we finally start class, we are interupted, don’t do prayers or wait up to 15 minutes for people that choose to wait for the elevator instead of taking the 5 minutes to walk up the stairs. It needs to be clear that I love all of these people dearly because their actions are not them. However, it doesn’t take much to be a little mindful of the commitments you make to yourself and a group of people and try to do a little better every day. In this case, it seems some of my classmates are digressing outwardly and that makes me sad. I am just stuck here wondering why I let their actions affect me so deeply because I shouldn’t feel any way about it.

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Day 136: Yoga and Depression Pt.3

To conclude my entries on Yoga and Depression, I want to help others because I am all to familiar with the fact that I do not suffer alone. Since I have worked on my strength, I have enough strength to know that fighting alone is not mandatory. My partner struggles with seasonal depression so understands to a certain extent what I go through. His support is incredible because he supports me even when I don’t know that I need it. So, you are depressed and don’t want to take medicine? Here are some things that I keep in mind that help me everyday.

1. Get Out of Bed Even When You Feel Like You Don’t Want To

This may sound very easy but for a person that struggles with depression, it may seem like to most daunting task imaginable. People experience depression differently. Some people feel a huge lack of energy and some feel more energy. If you feel like you are experiencing mania, please seek help. This blog is not meant to be medical advice. For those of you experiencing the heaviness that I have felt, you have to force yourself to get up. I have told myself out loud before to get out of bed some mornings. After getting out of bed, take a shower. This will help wake you up. I sing in the shower or hum songs to pep myself up.

2. Stay Active

Although getting out of bed may feel like enough of a challenge at first, try to resist the urge to sit down on the couch in front of the television. The moment you feel like laying down or sitting down becoming inactive do exactly the opposite. Go for a walk around your block or do something that will keep your mind active like coloring or creating something. The more you do this, the more you break the habit of stopping and thinking about your depression. Don’t be in denial about your illness. Instead, be proactive in accepting that it is an illness that you can overcome.

3. Never Forget Your Support System

I forgot about my support system and thought that I had to deal with this on my own. You should never feel like a burden to those that you love. In that same respect, don’t be the person that uses your depression to complain about everything. Tell your support system that you are having a bad day and need someone to talk to. Talk about the things that are going on inside you rather than pointing out everything wrong that is going on outside of you. Accept their love and know that you are never alone.

These three things that I did during my journey. I went through the detox of my medications completely alone and felt isolated even from my partner. However, he was as supportive as he could be and we made it through it. I also have the privilege of traveling during this time but also lost all of my friends. I would be lying to you if I told you that the road to fighting depression is easy but I am proof that you can because I still do to this day. You are never unworthy of love to yourself or others. Remember that and, if you need to, say that out loud everyday until you believe it.

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Day 135: Yoga and Depression Pt. 2

While I do doubt myself and the opportunities that I have been, I am grateful for everything that life has given me. The very fact that I have kept this website alive for 2 years and am getting ready to launch a new website specifically for yoga is reward enough to say I should keep going. I am looking at my analytics and wonder why people aren’t read but my intent was never for a huge audience in the first place. This blog, for all intents and purposes, is to log my thoughts not what people think about my thoughts.

There are various ways that my yoga practice influences my behavior. We do Pranayama in class when our class time allows. I have noticed that this calms my mind down a lot but I have also started losing weight since practicing regularly. Simple equal breathing and bhramari is something that I do everyday. I do this in the evenings or first thing in the morning. I can’t claim that this practice has had a direct affect on my weight lose but my weight did start to drop after including this in my routine.

I have also started to do Sutra Neti along with my Jal Neti practice. This is a cleansing practice from the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Sutra Neti is taking a rubber string and inserting in your nostrils, letting it go all the way to the back of your throat and grabbing the string as though you are flossing. This loosens up the mucus. Then, the practice of Jal Neti is where you wash the nasal cavities with water that has just a little bit of salt in it. Practicing both of these together has changed the way that food tastes.

Asana and meditation have also helped me be stronger physically and mentally. During my asana practice, I take the poses very slow so that I can feel my muscles working with my breath. There is no teacher telling me to go deeper or to stretch my leg more than I should. The postures always make me feel better immediately. Meditation has been a a part of my life for about a year. I started with focusing on my breath and moved to floating in a salt tank. I feel that I bring the practice of meditation into my daily life and it doesn’t always require sitting in a meditative posture.

These are a few of the things that I have been doing to combat my depression. I don’t always feel like doing them but to not do them means I let the depression win. I refuse to let that happen. Every day I will get up and deal with my thoughts. Every single day, I will win and go to bed ready to face the next day.

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Day 134: Yoga and Depression Pt. 1

I have written several times on this blog and not taking antidepressants anymore. I want to be clear that I have not stopped taken my medication and I am cured. I have had to dig deep within myself to find courage, strength and happiness even when I didn’t feel like it. I have had to make myself get out of bed because I will not let depression anxiety keep me from doing the things that I love to do or from standing up when I need to.

Depression is a silent disease that will strip away your energy. Perhaps some people feel great and energetic one day and the next day feel like a boulder that can’t move. Some days the little things don’t amount to anything and some days even the smallest things seem like obstacles that will never go away. There are days when I am surrounded by people that love me and cheer me on but, secretly, I feel like a failure. Today is one of those days.

Yoga has helped me build strength and find the love for myself that says, ‘I’m worthy.’ I have had constant doubts about what I am doing but I always find that the more ignore those thoughts and let them pass, I feel like I made it out on the other side. Yoga is more than standing on a mountain cliff and taking a beautiful picture of everything on the external. Everyday you are challenged to take a snapshot of what’s on the inside. The thoughts, negative and positive, the fears and the amount of acceptance of what all of that looks like is far worse than any mirror you could put to my face.

Yoga is the one thing that makes me say that I can literally do anything. I can even beat this depression but, sometimes, I fail. I do this in my thoughts more than my actions. Self-doubt is one of the things I struggle with because my pattern in life. When things go great something always happens. A school closes our art gallery before my senior show. My best friend’s mom turns a drum major pick into a popularity contest. A community theatre organization gives me the boot for sticking up for what is right. I constantly remind myself that I get depressed because of other’s actions.

This keeps me up at night. This struggle between wanting to be free and feeling self righteous or like I don’t have the right to all the happiness and success I want. I lay in bed thinking about how if I got one more hour of sleep I’ll be rested, refreshed and able to tackle any obstacle that is thrown my way. I dream of a day where my ambitions line up with the amount of energy I have and not fight or second guess why I am the one that gets the reward.

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Day 133: Connections

I have written in the past about my inability to trust people and make new connections. During this time, I have completely changed the way that I feel for my friends or new people that I meet. Now, I avoid pain. I see posts of friend and receive messages from friends on social media all the time talking about how they have been brushed aside by the very institutions that vow to protect and treat them. I too have had my medications tampered with while taking Prozac and Ambien.

The Center lost its license to prescribe medicine and I received a letter from them stating that I would no longer have medication that would be prescribe by them. The letter suggested that I contact a general practitioner to continue on my medication. This was the first step in me deciding that I would try to go off of my medication and try something new. It would be a total lie to say that the detox from this didn’t suck because it was an absolute roller coaster.

Now, before you judge me, know my story. It has been suggested to me by professionals that it was perhaps my surroundings and the people I was bringing into my life that was causing such a negative spiral in my mental health. However, I can’t blame the situations or people anymore either. This took a long time to realize and admit to myself because I wanted to so badly to blame them for my problems. It’s an amazing journey when you discover that you don’t have to fight to be other people’s lives. In yoga, you learn that you don’t have to react to or like/dislike environments that make you feel comfortable or uncomfortable.

This is where I feel the change in my relationships with people. Regardless of what people, family or friends, do or don’t do, I remain the same person and love them all the same. Any one who has met me knows that I am there for them no matter. I have even answered the calls of strangers that found a post on Facebook and need someone to talk to because of a tough time they were having. I don’t have to be caught up in drama because that is not who I am. However, since I am not perfect, I may unintentionally start drama because I also can’t control other people’s reactions.

If negativity comes my way because of something I did or didn’t do, I can always explain that I wasn’t even aware of what I did and that does not make me a bad person. I still struggle with making mistakes because for the longest time I was told that I was perfect, then I came out as gay and had been trying to make up for it every since. Every human being I meet is perfect even with their flaws. Flaws sometimes make the person unique or intriguing but not bad. This all stems from a lecture today about the soul. Our teacher talked about the mind, intellect, ego and soul. She said that a soul is never bad. The person that is saying someone is bad is speaking out of ego. Additionally, a person that thinks they are bad isn’t thinking from their intellect.

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Day 132: Presence

Today, in asana class we did only 3 asanas in 1 hour. To many Westerns, this would be a class that people would not attend again. However, in my experience I left class feeling grounded back on the floor. It was an incredible feeling.

While in Talasana, we were told to be mindful of our heels and where we place them when coming down from the asana. Our tendency is to place the feet with the toes slightly outward and our heels slightly inward. The arms and heels reach the top at the same time and the same applies to them as we come back down. Being present of that made a huge difference in my practice yesterday and the person that I was this evening.

Then, we did Utkatasana. While this asana looks simple, we made it complicated by become present to our knees. We had to make sure that our heels were up while being on our toes. Our arms had to remain at shoulder level.

Just as it was time for Shavasana at 5:52pm, some of my classmates wanted to skip out on finishing their practice. One even found it necessary to try to talk to one of the other students. I still struggle with the ‘ok’ factor of bringing my ego down because some people are just so mindless. I wanted to say something but didn’t because I am starting to change my view of what’s truly being bothered over.

The feeling of presence followed me all the way home. As I was walking my dogs, I stood in the light sprinkle of rain and watched the clouds at a distance rise literally in front of my eyes. These grey wisps of clouds lifted from hilltops and swirled around in the sky. It was this moment that I realized that my feet were standing firmly on the ground and my mind was right there, right then.

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Day 131: The Male Excuse

Lately, I have been thinking about genders and the roles that they play in regards to excuses or blame we place on them. Being male, I have a protective nature but have a horrible relationship with my dad. I pretend everything is ok because I have come to terms that nothing will ever change in the relationship with my dad. He will continue to be defensive when I bring up little things while all of my childhood was - If you don’t change, I’ll leave. This has been hanging over my head the past couple of weeks.

My dad says that he doesn’t like texting or being on his phone but yet during a phone call, which my mom always initiates, he couldn’t engage in a conversation that lasted maybe twenty minutes as his head was in the phone. It’s almost like he does this out of nervousness or pretends to be glued to his phone to avoid being social. To say that this doesn’t hurt me or leave an impression on me in some way would be a lie. I can’t change him just like I can’t change the way it hurts and digs at me every time I call him out for not communicating with me. If I over communicate, I’m pressuring him. If I don’t communicate then how can he care or know. It’s a vicious cycle that feels horrible.

On top of this, I shout, ‘Families helping families since 1984.’ Sometimes, I feel like that was the year that my dad gave up on his own family and focused on everyone else’s and ways that they should improve. My dad uses me as a person to vent his frustration about my mom, sister and my brother and their families and situation but seldom asks me randomly how I am doing. He missed concerts, award ceremonies and a good chunk of my life. That has been forgiven but the currently the lack of my dad is confusing because it’s like he talks out of both sides of his face. You never know who you are going to get.

Is it just an excuse that men, or fathers, are not as talkative as women, or mothers. Should the mother care for the children more than the father? I grew up in a household where both of my parent’s worked so it’s not like my mom didn’t have just as much to do but she was still expected to do housework and make sure that everyone was fed when it was just throwing potpies in the oven and, eventually, the microwave. I feel like men get a pass when it comes to their involvement in children’s lives. You can tell when a father is actively engaged in a child’s life and when the children have just become a burden that they brought into the world.

Men also get a free pass when it comes to talking about their feelings. Men, just like women, have no problem gossiping to friends about someone they have a problem with. However, I’m talking about saying, ‘I love you,’ or genuinely asking how someone is doing without it being tied to an email that requires some work-related request for a task to be completed. When something frustrates you, the right to express yourself is just available to you as it is for everyone else.

India is still very traditional in regards to the family and the roles everyone is to play within the confines of society. However, these confines are made up. Just like the elephant tied to the spike, we can realize that there is no chain and choose something else. To the dads that don’t let their children question, if they are loved, I give you props. For the dads out there that let your children guess according to your actions if you love or hate them, shame on you. It is just as much your responsibility as it is of the mother to make sure that the children are loved and care for as it is yours. Text your son or daughter, because you never know when the phone might be silent on the end. Sons and daughters, love your parents for bringing you into this world regardless of their actions, they love you.

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Day 130: Kittens

For almost 6 months now, we have had a litter of kittens in our backyard. At first, it was cute but scary for my dogs because the mother of the kittens was very protective. She will still attack my Mercury if we are too close or just walking in the yard. I never knew that watching a group of playful kittens could be so entertaining.

The mother, called Mama, is very vocal. They are well taken care of for food and water but their shelter is non-existent. They climb trees, scale 3’ foot walls and run along the edges of the building so that they are protected from the huge crows. Birds killed two of the kittens in the last litter that Mama had. Last night, I made an attempt to have them adopted by posting them on my InstaStory. (@jeremyeatonyoga)

I have Batman who was adopted this morning by a classmate. I am so happy that Batman is going to a home that I know will be loved. My friend is a completely amazing person that recently lost her cat. Robin I named because it has the same marking shapes as Batman but different colors. Robin has the perfect shape of a heart on its side also. I named Lemon because of its love of Lemongrass leaves.

Pirate is the most lovable our of all of them. Its name comes from the the black streak over its eye. Dot is beautiful and very playful with its brothers and sisters. Mama and all of her kittens deserve a home. I have seen her eat snakes and bring bread to places in the watersystem to feed her babies. She hid them once in a box by this huge fountain. We actually all thought that this litter of kittens were dead because they were not seen for about 4 weeks after they were born. We would see Mama but no babies were anywhere in site.

We have been taking care of them along with the other guests and children in the apartment building. They eat sausages, warm milk cat food and treats along with whatever they are starting to find fro themselves. They have brought smiles to so many people. I want to repay them by making sure that they they go to homes and get out of the rain.

The timing of this life lesson seems kismet during my yoga training and the constant reminder of Karma Yoga. I don’t even know if I would call it that. I find words hard to describe the amount of love I have for these kittens. It was like God gave me this lesson to take care of his creation. I’m going to continue to try to find homes for these precious babies.

Day 129: Cardiac and Hypertension Pt.2

While the Cardiac Camp was full of rich information, I am always shocked at the way that people act when they are supposedly sitting through something that could change their life or career path. Several of the people, mostly younger, were talking the entire time, playing games on their phones or even sleeping. These people are training to be Yoga Therapists and help others live a life of health and wealth. It makes me very hesitant to refer people to therapists that I know because I haven’t seen how they were as a student.

I can feel my own blood pressure rise when talking about this. I tend to take things very seriously especially when it comes to classes and when I will be trusted with someone’s life through my guidance and advice. I’m not joking when I say that the completion of this course will change my life. It is changing my life already while sitting on the marble floor everyday listening to people that have been right where I am. There is not one teacher that I have gained knowledge from.

Observing the volunteers was an eyeopener for me because I didn’t feel the need to go correct the person. I didn’t wake the kid up that just crawled up on bench and started to take a nap. I didn’t tell the same kid to put his phone down and pay attention. I didn’t tell the group of people playing some game with pen and a piece of paper to stop and listen. They knew everything they needed to know. I slightly feel offended for The Yoga institute and confused that this behavior would even happen in that space.

I have found that less words are needed to communicate and that most conversations are completely empty calories. They feel good to have but without connection you run out of things to talk about. I have a hearing loss so paying attention is very important for me. I had to completely exclude myself from classmates so that I could take notes. I am not mad at my classmates or fellow volunteers for talking. I simply look at it as they made different choices for me.

At the end of the day, I feel good about my choices and relieved that I can’t say I was a victim to someone else’s. I have to simmer the love that I have for people because I love like my mother. I love you so much that I will do whatever you don’t so you will love me. This layer is falling off of me in sheets and I am lighting getting lighter. In my twenties, I used to write poetry about puppets and how their string would be cut. Lately, I have been wondering if I was predicting back then about this feeling because my heart feels free.

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Day 128: Cardiac and Hypertension Pt.1

I went to a camp today where the attendees all had an issue with their cardiovascular system. The age ranges were from their 20’s to their 60’s. It was a shock to see someone as young as their mid twenties already struggling with their heart. It was a wake up call for me because my grandmother passed away at the beginning of last year with a long history of heart conditions.

My grandmother loved baking pies, cookies, old fashioned sweet for Christmas time. She had things hidden in cabinets after being diagnosed with diabetes. I kept thinking that I would not do something that extreme and perhaps the desire would disappear completely because too many of those items could kill me. However, they are bad for me right now and I still can’t help myself because sweets and bad food surround me constantly. It seems the more that I try to pull out of this habit, the more that the foods I’m trying to avoid appear.

I feel like I need a shirt that says, ‘Please don’t force food on me,’ because every where I go there is some new food item being put in front of me. I could say no but in Indian culture it is rude to say this and my friends are very insistent that I try it. And, of course it is aways an amazing treat, but every time it feels like I put another tick mark in the times I ate something even though I knew I shouldn’t. It’s also a form of self-sabotage that keeps me from my goals so if I were to blame my friend what would be a lie.

Although, I have cut refined sugar out of my diet for the most part, I still crave ice cream and cream cheese frosting. These two things are constantly available to me and it takes so much will power to not go into the kitchen and grab one or both. We had a snack, Halwa, yesterday that was an alternative to sugar, jaggery. It had a sweet taste without the chemical taste of refined sugar. There were cashews in the mixture as well.

The Cardiac camp had me thinking about my own lifestyle and that no matter the amount of mindfulness you bring into your life, there will always be something that you can adjust. I need to be more mindful of the amounts of food I bring in and the times. For the most part, my diet is completely good with my shift towards primarily vegetarian a few months ago. I have started to learn that eating smaller amounts of food 4-5 times a day is more helpful than just eating 2-3 larger meals.

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Day 127: Television

I live in a household where the television is on 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. There are 3 TV’s in a less than 1200 sq. ft space. I used to find myself on the couch watching anything that remotely sounded interesting. If i got sucked into a program or series, I could pretty much forget about getting anything other than work completed. I have noted 3 ways that you can ween yourself off of the television and get back to some more productive past times.

1. Is this serving an educational purpose or am I trying to zone out?

I have found that most of the time I’m watching television not to make my mind stop but to put it on pilot mode and sit back and enjoy the ride. This is not a healthy form of consumption. Anything which enables the body to not be active causes a problem. We wonder why we require stimulants like coffee, dietary supplements and tea. Our brains are taking in information but no one is there guiding the thoughts. It may be an interesting story but this could also be looking at as one of the failures of yoga practice. Television could be tied to gossip, wrong conversation or the wrong crowd.

2. Being conscious of how much time you spend sitting down in front of a screen.

Our television come in a wide range of sizes. The larger ones found in our living and bedrooms and the ones that we carry with us everyday in our pockets or purses. Some phones makers have now taken partial responsibility for this new culture of social avoidance and narcism by placing takers on the time you spend on your phone and what you spend time doing on your phone. Huge time eaters in today’s world is YouTube and Facebook. We consume millions of minutes a day watching people smear makeup all over their faces and blow stuff up but rarely engage our minds on our dreams and goals. I haven’t met many people that have said that they wanted to be a YouTube addict when they grew up.

3. Start counting the number of people you verbal speak to a day.

When on the train or in a car, it is easy to forget that the outside world exists. People have now become dependent on their phones for the communication with friends and family to where they don’t speak out loud for long spans of time. While it is important to maintain silence and not waste your words, speaking verbally to others or yourself is important. If you never use your voice, you may forget you have one. People that don’t speak up are usually preyed upon by others that look at their silence as weakness. Don’t become so quiet that you don’t use your voice even when you are supposed to.

It is easy to fall into the binge-watching world of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon but don’t forget that there is a whole out there full of social environments that might interest you. Recreation can include some television or screen time. However, when you start to notice a habit or a pattern, make a different choice as too much of anything can eventually turn bad for you. If you are a complete screen addict, I highly recommend something that is made by National Geographic or start watching the documentaries about the world we live in. People have forgotten our relationship to Mother Earth so watching these types of consumable media will hopefully get you off the couch and back into nature.

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Day 126: This Next Generation

When ever I think about the generation behind me I get very excited and nervous about our future. In many ways, this next generation has already lifted the doors off of centuries old judgements and mindsets. On the other hand, it seems at times that they want a society with no rules but create rules even within that society. To speak about philosophy and innovative ideas is completely exhilarating, but counting on many of these Gen Z to follow through with an idea or even show up is frustrating.

I have recently had a person take photos for my parent’s company for social media and other promotional materials and was shocked at the lack of drive this person had in taking this opportunity. In the United States, most children are out of school and consuming all the marketing for back-to-school. You would think a paying gig would have motivated this person to complete the assignment and be proud of their work. There is almost a false confidence that exists within the youth getting ready to complete high school.

One on hand, you have the confidence that they have around friends and peers and then when you take them into a real world situation, they freeze and completely don’t know who they are. This person that took on the job has an incredibly talented eye for photography, but asked if she could use her phone instead. She then wondered why people weren’t taking her seriously. I didn’t even have a chance to be angry or disappointed because I was shocked at the collection of photos that were sent to me.

Then, you have these free-loving souls that are breaking the limits placed on gender and sexuality. They impress me with knowing about current topics and even historical ones. They speak from a place of knowing where they want the world to go. You can tell by the expressions on their faces while speaking that they can actually see the world they want. After experiencing that, I’m completely all in and inspired to see what they do with what my generation does with the world.

I’m starting to shed off the idea that I alone can fix and that the entire world’s problems are my problem to fix. As I do this, I am starting to hear other’s solutions and becoming more solid in what my purpose is. I want to simply make this world a better place by helping people of all ages create calm when needed and focus when it is required. The everyday stresses that I put on myself are becoming less and my mind while always going 1,000 MPH is starting to slow down to about 700 MPH. I am a part of this change in thinking. I’m sure that during my very short lifetime this far, I have changed someone’s way of thinking. I would like to think that there is at least one person’s life I have changed forever.

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Day 125: The Robber in All of Us Pt. 3

So, “Sorry, you’ve been dooped?” as the recently deceased Beth Chapman said. How do you respond to a robber? The process of being a victim, of understanding and of forgiveness begins. You start to go through anger depending how large the theft or your attachment was. Then, with time, you start to notice the anger and confusion is costing you. You have to realize that the pay off is that you cannot own any other person’s thefts. A robber makes all the choices to rob a person or not. Therefore, the pay off is that the robber has to live with this debt that is not yours to collect.

See, Wesley stole more than money from me. He stole my story and, for a while, my ability to trust people. To this day, I still don’t trust gurus, coaches, guides, social media entrepreneurs or anyone that has to do with the look-at-my-life-so-that-i-can-make-money-off-of-you-while-you-try-to-copy-my-life-or-business-model type of people. So, in essence, he also stole my faith. However, there comes a time when I have to have faith that Wesley will one day be the Grinch at the exact moment he grew a heart, that he will someday sit and talk with his father with professional help to clear his mind so that one day everyone gets the privilege to meet the real Wesley. I know that he is an amazing human he just has to find that person that he wants to be. However, right now, he doesn’t even know that he needs to search.

Coming this far has taken me over a year and I live 8,000 miles away from this person. There are no common places that we could run into each other. I have him blocked on most social media along with his wife. I was so upset when I returned from visiting his ranch that it made me very depressed and upset because he wouldn’t give me a piece of paper that would in some way validate that I can help people. Used toilet paper is worth more than his validation. I paid the money, did the hard work including an internship and still ended up with nothing. What do you do with that? Where do you put all the emotions you feel?

To all the readers of this from Garden Grove, California, Usk, Washington and Sandpoint, Idaho, I hope that the right person reads this and feels a little better knowing that they are not alone. I hope that any child that Wesley has promised things to know that they are important and that they are worth more than any of the propaganda material he uses them for. I want you to make sure that if you talk to Wesley that, unfortunately, I still can remember the way that he treated me but that I work every day to forget. I hope that someone reading this thinks twice before giving this man money especially for the sake of helping kids or horses for that matter. I don’t have these feelings for any other human being on this planet and I have had some pretty shitty things done to me by friends, family and strangers. I want you to know that although I can’t forget, I do forgive him because it is clear that he can’t help himself.

Robbers are innocent too. Blaming or judging someone is pointless and you are always going to be the one that loses in the end. I have no idea how long the process of letting go lasts but I do know that with hard work you start to think about it less. You start to see things from a perspective that you didn’t even know existed. Right now, I’m in the stage where I just feel pity for the person that is wounded but don’t I understand the hurt from their actions. It takes time but approaching anything with an open heart and mind will always end in your favor.

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Day 124: The Robber in All of Us Pt. 2

Although I have talked about robbing from ourselves and others, it should not be lost that true criminals also face the same issues. When you have a lack of something, you take it from somewhere else. Wesley Chapman would be one of these people to me. He has so many secrets and even more sleepless nights because he robs people intentionally with the guise of doing good for youth. I know this because he robbed money from me and never fulfilled his promise. He collects donations for a camp that hasn’t existed in years now and uses the donations for his own personal lifestyle. I can’t even imagine the amount of lack he feels from being a shadow of his father and a complete fake. He feels this so he takes from other people like a parasite.

Had Wesley ever practiced the Yamas or Niyamas, he would have probably had some form of self-realization that he not only steals from strangers, from the very family that he claims to protect and himself. He wants to provide everything for his two wonderful children and his ‘beautiful bride’ but the means in which he does this robs them of knowing the real Wesley. Unfortunately, he will take a wrong step somewhere in his plans and they will read about his true self in newspaper headlines with pictures of him in shackles.

For people who have no criminal intent whatsoever, you can still rob someone of something. For example, when I opened the Griffey School for the Arts, I had a lack of purpose and a starved lack of community for whatever reason. I filled that lack with a lot of positive things for our community. It was my first true act of Karma Yoga. My mission was to show people that you can do good with the arts and our community while spending very little money. No one took a salary from running the school. All of the money went right back into the school for the programming.

The school’s mission was to combat and bring attention to suicide awareness and suicide prevention through the arts. I had a friend commit suicide and I had no idea where to put that grief and pain so I got in front of people to do good for everyone. The community was robbed when the board and myself dissolved the organization. We did programs with Mosiac Lifecare’s Behavioral Unit, at-risk youth, artists of all kinds, yogis and brought people to a safe space to create and let out whatever was on their mind. All of these people were robbed because programs like ours no longer exist.

I, meanwhile, robbed myself of my sanity, energy and taking care of myself. I, myself, struggled and dealt with suicidal thoughts. I gained almost 45 lbs in a year when I was prescribed anti-depressants along with sleep aids. While I was doing great things for the community, I was at the lowest point in my life and I didn’t let anyone see it. I robbed all of them of the ability to help me as my friends and my support system. On the outside, I was like this Superman with never-ending powers and on the inside I was hollow and burnt out.

The robber in all of us always present. How present are we to that robber? Anytime you are not present you are robbing yourself of living your life right here and right now. It is safe to say that, in that moment, you don’t even exist if you are not present. So, next time you are on your cell phone scrolling through social media and your child is trying to tell you something about their day, don’t rob them of their joy and listen. When your parents are trying to pass on knowledge to you, don’t rob them of the experience of having an impact on your life. And, think twice about the child that is insistently knocking on your window trying to sell you umbrellas because none of us have the right to rob anyone of the very best life they deserve.

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Day 123: The Robber In All of Us Pt. 1

Right now, in Mumbai, there is a child working in the streets to sell umbrellas or ink pens. This child had every chance of life that any other baby did at the time of birth. This child’s parents stole their innocence. Us, as potential customers, steal that child’s chance of getting out of that vicious cycle. Rarely are we the catalyst for changing that child’s life. We enable a system that we say is horrible to watch. Not all of these stories turn out bad and some kids find their way out and become functional members of society.

While this may be an extreme example of how we steal when looking into the Yama, Asteya, we are all thieves to someone just as we are saints. Do we not steal protection from insects when we trim our lawns? Perhaps, to the birds, we become saints for uncovering their feast. Everything has a pay off and a cost just as every situation has give and take.

Even in the very class that we are learning mindfulness, we can never start on time. I have been late for circumstances beyond my control and robbed my classmates of time since we only have a short 4 hours a day in the classroom. I often observe people robbing themselves of the opportunity to try something new or shine. We give so much credit to the negative feelings and doubts that we rob ourselves of true presence and joy.

We do this because of ego, negative emotions and pride. Sometimes, we get more attention if we act like the shy, bashful person. While acting in a group setting you rob everyone in that group of knowing the true you and celebrating a victory of overcoming fears and doubts. This also robs people of time to perform their tasks and learning something new.

Robbing people of your presence is sometimes necessary to recharge and regroup especially if the emotions are too high and you need room to think. But, still, the robber within us all exists regardless of how much you clean your Yamas and Niyamas. The point is not to be perfect but to be mindful and with intent. The robber is not always a criminal but a person that doesn’t understand their importance in this world.

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Day 122: Not Today Satan

Waking up on a Monday gets easier and easier without an alarm but waking up in a mood where I want to jump out of bed and start singing is not happening. This morning’s rains are so relaxing and peaceful you could stay in bed and just watch the rain fall all day. It doesn’t help that I have 4 dogs laying bed as little space heaters to add to the comfort. However, the day must start and performing my duties are not a choice.

When traveling to Bandra this morning my fare was almost triple the normal price and on my way back the cost was quadruple the normal cost because of the rains and demand. Despite not having any of my students come, I saw another student in the class before mine. My first reaction was, ‘Oh, great, I lost one.’ Then, the personal attack on myself started. You always wonder what you are not giving students when they go to another teacher.

Questions about the last session go through your mind like a never-ending looping gif. However, not today. I started to think about how maybe my classes have helped her gain the strength to take a more ‘advanced’ class that uses so many props that I have to question what type of yoga it is at all. We are so material that we forget that our own bodies are all we need to be fit. Instead, we add kettle balls, chairs, blocks, bands or whatever else we can think of to enhance our workout.

So, after thinking to myself that the student is not really my student at all, I started to change my tune. I am not going to let my expectations and the circumstances that surrounded me this morning cloud my day. This rain can only make me wet not cause me to be in a bad mood. The price of the fairs can only take away from my monetary bank account not my emotional one. The fact that I had no students can break me or I can be compassionate that they wanted to stay in bed and watch the rain as well.

What I love most about my training in yoga is not the physical fitness but the mental fitness that is molding my thoughts and strength in any situation. I have gained my power back in ways that I don’t even think I can imagine at the moment. There is something to be said when you realize that you are a force to be reckoned with. None of the name calling or bullying can affect you because the slime slides right off. I chose this path so therefore I own this path.

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Day 121: Relaxation

There is always a day during the week that is needed for pampering. Doug and I both lead lives of long days and, seemingly, short nights. With my yoga practice, I experience body aches as my muscles are stretching and growing. Doug’s job is more mentally taxing as dealing with two different managing styles - American and Indian. Sunday’s are generally all about resting and relaxing.

This Sunday we went to Shen Reflexology. This place is the best known secret of Mumbai. The treatments here are always consistent and amazing. While the place is very small, you don’t have therapists trying to have a conversation with other therapists during your massage and the staff are all very friendly. We have made this a staple in our wellness routine as reflexology helps your entire body.

We both got 90 minutes of foot reflexology, 30 minutes of hand reflexology and a 30 minute facial acupressure massage. I leave there feeling somewhere between tired and energized. The therapy room holds about 8 people plus a space for a chair massage. There are two body massage rooms off of the entrance which is about 4’X10’. The room is dimly lit and has a sculpture of the face of the Buddha. They use almond oil which is always a good sign because almond oil is of a higher quality than what most massage places use. It also smells very good.

The therapists ask for feedback about their pressure which is something else that is commonly missed because your therapist rarely speaks English at other places. They do not get offended if you are really needing some heavy pressure and they deliver beautifully. While I usually just enjoy the pressure that the person gives, this Sunday I asked for heavier pressure and he even communicated that to the other person doing the hand and facial massages. They are just amazing.

If you are looking for a place in Mumbai to relax for a Sunday pampering, I highly suggest Shen Reflexology as it is my favorite place in Mumbai to go after a long week. You have all of the comforts of Bandra but all the relaxation of a retreat right in the heart of the city. Located right off of Linking Road, it is convenient and safe. You can schedule ahead of time and take a large group or just enjoy all by yourself. Also, I hear they are going to be running a monsoon special soon and they always have the best promotions.

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Day 120: Rains

Today was the first morning that I opened the studio and wasn’t hit with a wall of humidity. It was a cool 24 degrees C. I still had the fans on but slow just to move the air. The mosquito population had almost tripled as the floor looked like a graveyard while sweeping them up after the end of three sessions. While teaching these amazing souls, I started to get a little emotional thinking about how all of this will change soon.

My teaching is becoming more present to the classes that are in front of me rather than the classes that I had planned and duplicated for all three classes. I make modifications for each class given the students but don’t stray far from what we are practicing that particular day. I did do sound therapy for all three sessions this Saturday and they all seemed to enjoy it. I was even asked if I could do this every Saturday. I said, ‘Yes!’

I have a variety of students that come to my sessions. There are students that come to relieve mental illness, knee pain or to recover from surgeries. I love each and every one of my students the same. They share very personal things about their life with me and trust me with their minds and bodies. To say that I am honored and delighted with these opportunities would be an understatement.

With all of this comes the rains. The heavy downpours that wash this very dirty city clean. It also washes our minds as well. So many days here in India are filled with thoughts about the heat and about the perfect amount of water to be consumed. These rainy mornings provide a sort of relief for all of those thoughts. You rest easier and smile more. Maybe it was my intense anticipation for these rains to begin that has provided so my joy.

It goes without saying that many of the commuters here in Mumbai do not enjoy the rain. I can’t blame them either. You have to pack an umbrella, a change of clothes and a long raincoat in addition to your ordinary items that you carry with you. If you look beyond all of that, you see the smile on children’s faces splashing in puddles of rain. You see the normal cricket players anticipating the rain to slow down to get back out on the field. You see a city operating just as it always does but with water falling from the sky - a miracle to say the least.

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