Lovable

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About a week ago I was up at my ashram for a yoga teacher reunion. It was little more than 24 hours, arriving at noon on Tuesday and leaving around the same time Wednesday, in which we reconnected with each other, did some yoga and made a couple new friends.

The treat in going to the ashram is being in the presence of Yogi Amrit Desai. Wednesday morning, after yoga, we had that opportunity. During trainings, and even between trainings, Gurudev – our term of endearment for him – leads philosophical, spiritual talks called darshan. He shares his thoughts about many things in the yoga world and reminds us of a few universal truths, but most of his talks circle back to consciousness. This morning was no different. This is the reason I am here.

Today he is talking about how we feel we need to do things, be something and act in certain ways to be lovable. He was giving examples and making us nod in agreement and laugh at ourselves. I would drift in and out of engagement as usual, doodling in the margins of my journal, writing the big ideas down, then I heard it.

When we hear the same word over and over again, especially in our own language, in our own accent, it sometimes loses power, or at the very least, impact. He was saying lovable repeatedly. Only in his Indian accent he was pronouncing it love-able.

This completely reframed things for me. Lovable – Love-uh-bull – sounds to me like I have to add things to me to make myself presentable to another to be loved. I have to primp and preen, be smart, make money, have nice things, not be myself. I have to behave. To be loved.

Love-able makes me feel as if I have to strip away pretense, wash my face, take off my nail polish and open my raw authentic self up in order to love another.

One sounds desperate and seeking, the other scary and exciting.

Maybe I’m the only one who sees it this way, but I don’t think so. It tracks with what we’ve been told: In order to love another you must first love yourself. In order to love yourself, you have to accept yourself AS YOU ARE and that is knowing who you are underneath it all.

Acceptance of self = Self love = Lovable. Able to love.

[Photo: Young orphaned buck that was cared for across the street from the ashram. He now comes over to visit and receive love.]

21 Day Challenge – Day 8 – Recommitment

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It’s been one week since I issued and embarked on my 21 Day Challenge. One week down, 2 to go. A few noteworthy things are happening.

This isn’t a challenge with a prize at the end. It’s not measurable in a quantifiable way. There are tasks to be completed each day that help keep me on track and that’s imperative. With a high level distraction and procrastination risk factor, I need touch points, things I can check off.

The purpose of this challenge though is to remove obstacles by adding in good practices: yoga, yoga nidra, writing, photography, etc. One is removing distraction while the other is moving in the direction I have identified as my path. Both are necessary.

Without an end game, is it really a challenge? I am working on breaking old unhelpful habit patterns and creating a new way of being. So yes, it’s super challenging. Maybe especially because there is no real quantifiable goal. My hope is these tasks, that right now are the challenge, become woven into the fabric of each day, like brushing my teeth and making the bed.

In one of Stephen Covey’s books, he says, “Begin with the end in mind,” referring to the endgame. You want $1,000. That’s your goal. That’s the end. Now work backwards and create your strategy to achieve that goal.

If I have no real goal in mind other than changing habits, how do I work backwards from that? So I have created one identifiable goal to work with that is in alignment with my intention and aided by the tasks I have set forth in my challenge. This will add a richness and satisfaction in the doing aspect of each task.

The second thing that I’ve come to realize is some of the tasks I’ve assigned myself are becoming ‘the thing to get checked off.’ I think this is a natural resistance from the ego. “Ok, we’ve played around with the ‘new lifestyle thing’ long enough, let’s get back to the way things were.” It makes a very convincing argument. Staying stuck is so easy. And if I look at it as if I am just allowing, then it feels very yogic. Forgivable.

But that’s a familiar trap. This time though I see the trigger before getting caught in the net. Instead of letting go of the challenge or forgiving myself for missing something I need to lean into it. Be completely 100% present in each task I undertake. The challenge then becomes the challenge. Sticking with it.

There is a time when action is called for, of course. In the Amrit style of yoga there are two halves of each posture; first and second half. The first half is doing the posture, making it happen; the second half is coming out of the posture, standing still with the eyes closed and feeling – letting it happen. Both are valuable, especially together.

Life is like that. Action must come first. Make it happen. Get things in motion, and then let it move forward in whatever direction and form it takes.

A few months ago I got the itch to travel again and I selected Ireland as the next big trip I want to take. That is an action. The decision. I looked online at tours, airfare, and different towns in Ireland that might interest me. I begin to get excited. I am in action, on my way.

Then I get an email from a Swami I have worked with before. She has put together a Sacred India tour that starts February 16. I love India. All the places on the tour are towns I have never been to. It looks amazing. I’m going to India in February.

Maybe I’ll still go to Ireland later next year, maybe I won’t. I took the action which allowed me to get into the mind space to travel, which was the ultimate goal, and an opportunity arose. I made the decision to travel. I allowed India become a possibility.

My challenge has not changed – the tasks have not – but a quantifiable goal has emerged that along with my intention can keep me focused on the work in the present moment. Everything I do right now affects the next moment and the next and the next. Every thought I think, every action I take is creating my future. I must choose wisely.

[Photo: Playing around inside today. While the Buddha is beautiful in his natural color, playing around with him in photoshop made him more reflective of my mood today: Vibrant!]