Liberation

SHC IMG_7067It was recently suggested to a group of yoga teachers I was with that it is our calling to help liberate others. Many are called. They become yoga teachers and scholars, yoga nidra facilitators, Reiki masters, counselors, ministers and leaders of all sorts. But when you are told this and it hits your gut with such a fierceness that it brings tears to your eyes, you know you are on the right track. 

Let me clarify. The liberation spoken of is from our preconceived notions about ourselves, our negative self talk, our victimhood. And while I believe no one can really free another, I know it is possible to help lift the veil of illusion just enough for someone to see their own perfection. I have seen it over and over again.

The rub for me has been a disconnect. I get it. Intellectually. My mind loves this stuff, it nods vigorously in agreement. Then it sets about to disprove it or pick it apart to  try to really understand it. To get it. There must be more. It creates problems out of this one principle just so it can solve them. And when it can’t solve them it takes me to the couch with a bag of potato chips and the remote. There must be a hole in the theory. We’ll figure it out from here.

I get it. And then I forget it.

I love to teach. Almost anything. But I especially love to teach yoga and yoga nidra. I love the way people look after a class. They have accessed something so deep that most of them aren’t able to articulate it. But they know where they got it so they come back. It’s not me.  I didn’t do this for them, I just held the space for them to explore. They allowed themselves to drop into that place where the veil got a little more transparent.

This is all beautiful. But I have been moving away from teaching lately preferring instead to work on my art. A fine choice. I love creating art; painting, photographing, cut paper designs, jewelry, coloring, it doesn’t matter, I love it all. The problem lies in the reason behind the shift from teaching to art.

I wasn’t even really aware why or what that was until this past weekend. Several very skilled teachers were able to help me with that veil thing. The disconnect for me is this: How can I teach yoga and yoga nidra if I’m not practicing it? Up to now I always thought that meant physically getting on my mat striking a couple of poses then lying in savasana for yoga nidra. Part of it. Maybe.

What I got while I was salsa walking on the treadmill to Gypsy Kings yesterday was this: How can I teach liberation, how can I help free others when I am still in a cage imprisoned by my own negative self talk? By my own lack of respect for the vehicle, the physical form that I was given? By the act of self-flagellation on an energetic level?

I have gotten this concept before. It’s an old, worn idiom: Practice what you preach. But now? I. Get. It.

I do not have to be a size 2 to teach yoga. I do not have to be pious to help others find peace. I do not have to juice and starve myself to help others get healthy. BUT, for me, when I am physically practicing yoga and yoga nidra; when I am at the gym early in the morning revving my metabolism and shining my sparkle; when I am eating clean; I FEEL free. I am an expression of that which I am teaching. I am a clear channel. And people get it faster. They don’t have to work as hard.

So in the first day of this new challenge, this ginormous truth has been revealed to me. My goal, yes goal, is to dissolve the cage by being what I am teaching. It is a prison of my own construction so there is no need to look outside of myself. The journey is inward.

21 Day Challenge – Day 6 – Falter

squirrel IMG_1624

Today I made the conscious decision to abandon the 21 day challenge. Just for today. Let me explain.

I have had this big project hanging over my head like a cartoon anvil. It will take many hours to complete, and mental and creative resources I would much rather devote to my true love – anything other than this. There is so much I want to do creatively; write, make, draw, paste, but I feel powerless to be all in with this thing hovering.

Hence the day off. I’ll be right back on it tomorrow, fresh and new. Or so I thought.

I learned two very important things today:

1. There is no such thing as a finite amount of creative energy. I am under the impression that I have about 5 hours in the morning in which to write, design jewelry, draw, create greeting cards, do yoga and yoga nidra, take a photo walk, and go to the gym. Turns out it’s not true.

While I wake up fresh and an open channel for creativity I can achieve that same level of openness by doing yoga nidra or stepping outside to watch a squirrel play for a few minutes any time of the day. I learned today that I could do the creative project I was resisting as well as manage to be creative in other ways. After 10 AM.

2. There is room and time if it is important enough. I did the challenge anyway. And rather than take me out of the zone, it was a welcome reset. I fit it in. It has become important enough to me to make time for it. And it proved itself valuable.

I have been watching my mind where this project is concerned. There is so much resistance. Every time I think about all I have to do, the inner mental brat has a little tantrum, whining, kicking things and becoming gravity itself. I expend precious energy resisting this project which is really just delaying my bigness – my real work. It’s a fear of what’s on the other side of the completion of the project. Another one? More resistance?

It will not be the same thing, of course, resistance is a changeling. I will think it is something completely different, and on the surface it will be, but its end game is the same. It’s a stall tactic.

So it’s not the project that has to go away. It’s the resistance. And that’s another story all together.

Resistance is the hurdle, it is “X.” When I get done with X, then I’ll….  When I lose X, then I’ll…. When I have X I’ll… What if I suck at algebra and I never solve for X? I should have paid more attention in high school.

Do I even need to solve for X? I don’t think so. X is not real. X is the illusion, it looks real, feels real, but it can’t be. It always goes away. The real magic trick?  I am the magician. I create the illusion, I know how it’s done, and I still fall for it.

Time to pull back the curtain of doubt, remove the mirrors reflecting my own fear back to me  and blow away the smoke hiding the true self.

Time let go of the shenanigans and get on with it.

[Photo: With the French doors and windows wide open I can hear all the critters scurrying around the back yard. I was actually called out by the coo of dove, but as I opened the screen door the dove flew away and I caught this little feller.]

 

21 Day Challenge – Day 5 – Return of the Dragonflies

pink grass IMG_1600I am being stalked by dragonflies today. I’m not worried. It’s not the first time. At the post office there was one above my car. He looked me in the eye then sped away. I went to the vet to pick up flea medication, when I came out – yep. Maybe it was the same one. At the gas station they beckoned to me from the nearby landscaping. I followed; they flitted and played but would not pose for me. That’s not what this is about.

At the grocery store – all clear. Until I came back out. Another one above my car. As I pulled into my garage I wondered if one would follow me in. Nope. He just hovered over the driveway where he incorrectly suspected I’d be parking.

I would say it was the same one, but I recognize their difference readily now, soon I’ll be naming them.

Once inside my house I opened everything up and let the dogs out. I knew there would be no dragonfly on the dragonfly branch in the back yard. It’s too early in the day, too hot in the sun for stillness. But, as I was walking back inside the shadow of a huge butterfly glanced the slats of the fence leading my eye to…please tell me you know what I’m going to say here.

They are clearly my current animal totem. I used to think I could pick the animal that best fit me. I thought that about men too. Turns out I was wrong about both. For a few years snake medicine served me well, it kept me in line. If I strayed off the path a snake would show up to guide me or scare me back on. In my dreams, in my yard, in the clouds and once in my kitchen.

Dragonflies are illusion and I’ve been thinking an awful lot about magic lately. The word magic holds a charge for some people – they immediately go to the dark arts. I am talking about everyday magic created by nature, God, the Universe – whatever higher power you would like to credit.

It’s the way perfectly normal looking grass sprouts pinkish red feathers in the fall. It’s the scent of jasmine coming from the neighbor’s yard on a soft breeze after dark. It’s the hand of a loved one reaching for yours for no reason other than to be close. That’s magic.

It’s being followed by dragonflies. I get so immersed in my relationship with them that I actually speak out loud, asking them questions. “What are you trying to tell me?” “Where? Over there? Is that where you want me to go?” “Show me where you want your picture taken.” “Hold still.” “Thank you.” I’m sure I’ve been caught. With any luck at all I’ll develop an eccentric reputation and a cool name like the crazy dragonfly lady.

According to the Medicine Cards dragonfly is asking me to look at the habits I want to change. A bit ironic considering the 21 day challenge I just issued myself. It could be that I haven’t challenged myself enough, but I don’t think that’s it. I think I know exactly why they’re staring me down like a petulant child waiting for the correct answer – which is always permission to do the thing that makes them grow and you let go.

So this thing, this habit I have to change, might be more a belief and that takes some emotional surgery. A belief is an attachment. It is something so strongly identified with that any other way is hard to imagine. It has already been assimilated; it’s snuggled nicely into the DNA. Illusion.

The smoke and mirrors in my life surround money.

My entire adult life I have been in debt. Sometimes magnificently, other times just annoyingly and repetitively, just out of reach of solvency. I have lots of great reasons why. They have not helped me eradicate this “issue.” It is a weight. I play it off, “I’ll take care of it, but I’m not going to stop living just because I owe money on my credit cards.” There is so much truth in that last statement for me that I really can’t see my way around it.

Sitting still, denying myself experiences and working a job I hate feel like death to my spirit. I have done that. It feels completely unhealthy. Maybe being in debt isn’t a bad thing or a big deal. But if I am giving it this much energy and attention, it is a detrimental thing for me.

The option then, if I am truly genetically pre-disposed to indebtedness – and if my actual physical DNA is any indication, then yes, I am – is to make more money. The concept is so simple. I am of an age now where I can see how the income to debt ratio works. Got more money? Spend it. Stay stuck. No, just make more than you spend. Simple. In theory.

Why then am I still in debt? How is staying at this level of “almost there” serving me? Do I feel I owe the world something? Do I feel I don’t deserve to go where I want when I want? Or is it deeper than that? Am I afraid that I will no longer be tethered to this life? Owing money creates a line of energy between me and that entity. If I’m solvent, I’m cut free. If being in debt has been part of my identity for as long as it has, who am I without it?

Here’s the more interesting question. If I were to pay everything off tomorrow – everything, all of it, credit cards, student loan, car – would anyone else see a difference in who they know me to be? I suspect on the face of it the answer is no. But if this act of financial freedom opens me up, then the answer is decidedly a yes. Or is it? Perhaps I project to the world the free Allison. Perhaps you are holding that space for me to move into it and you don’t even know it.

It comes down to fear. Letting go of the illusion of who I am. You and I do not see me the same way. You and I do not see you the same way. We are more than likely much more forgiving of each other. We accept the other as they are; appreciate the differences and intersections in the relationship. So I can’t use you. You can’t fix it. You can’t hurt it. You have nothing to do with it. Never did.

My fear, and I suspect yours as well, is stepping into my own power. It scares the shit out of me. In my mind it’s this huge, big, scary thing. But I think it’s not as big of deal as I make it out to be. It’s the monster under the bed that’s just forgotten clothes. It’s illusion.

Does this resonate? Wherever you see the word “debt” insert your obstacle. The “thing” could just as easily be weight or relationships or a disability or pick an issue. Pick an excuse. This could just as easily be you. Illusion is about seeing beyond the smoke and mirrors. It is identifying that very specific roadblock on the road to the bigger self and healing it. It’s trusting the process and knowing that maybe what has been a solid truth is actually the block. The illusion.

It is stepping into your personal power, my personal power and wearing it like the cape and tiara I deserve. It is owning the essence of me that I believe is hidden. But that’s an illusion too. You can already see it. I can see yours too.

So let’s make an agreement. Let’s continue to recognize that we only see each other because our bigger selves, our powerful selves, recognize each other. It can be no other way. We are all mirrors for each other. My bigger self salutes yours. You are wise and powerful and so I must be too if I see it in you.

So dear dragonflies, thank you for the messages and persistence. Thank you for the reminder that beliefs can be illusions too. I promise to continue the work if you promise to keep following me.

[Photo: You were expecting a dragonfly maybe? Not today, they won’t sit still, so instead I present to you magic grass, also known as Muhly grass. It is native to Florida and grows quite easily and heartily sprouting these magical pink feathers in the fall.]