“If you do not take it personally, you are immune in the middle of hell. Immunity in the middle of hell is the gift of this agreement.”
— Miguel Ruiz
The second agreement can make us feel stuck and free at the same time. This is the agreement that keeps us on the threshold of receiving love or not--of trusting ourselves or not. Our fear of rejection and ridicule leaves us open to hell and closed to peace. Yet here is the key to the door—recognizing our fear for what it is allows us to see the disguised fear in others. The confusion from this agreement runs deep. As children, we were conditioned for competition and approval. Most of the standards we were asked to meet were formed from general consensus, not from seeing us as we were as individuals. This week, when you pay attention to what you are doing, are you in approval or disapproval of yourself? If you are practiced in hearing disapproval, this is what you will hear...
“This feeling will pass. This workload will pass. These people will pass. But look at you, with the gift of memory. You can time travel to the good stuff just by closing your eyes and breathing. Then come right back to now, eyes up for the good stuff ahead. You magic thing.”
— Lin-Manuel Miranda
Growth wears many costumes. It can be clothed in progress and expansion, or bear the garment of loss and change. This week at Yoga Lab Naples and Yoga Lab Estero, we celebrate all of this. This is a time of a new location, new teachers, and new classes. Yet we bow with reverence to the change that looked like hardship and regression in the moment. The hard work is trusting those times. When we are upset about the past and worried about the future, nothing grows. This is just a moment waiting for you to find the treasure of potential. Trust is the deep and strong root system of beautiful growth. This week on the mat, look for the roots...
“So let me be very clear: I do not live in the light all the time. I do not expect you to either. I don’t care about how perfect of a meditator you are. I don’t care about how often you pray. I don’t care about how many Kundalini kriyas you do. What I care about is your comeback rate. I care about how quickly you come back to love.”
— Gabby Bernstein
What is your comeback rate? When your “best” looks all too real; like judgment, or sorrow, or stress, or anger, how quickly can you come back to love? This practice is not about living a life of perfection and yogic moral principles all of the time. This practice is about hearing the callback to love. Dignity is freedom and the dignity is not in the display of your best. The dignity is in knowing that you are being called in the first place. This week on the mat, show up for the call. Whether you hear it as a shout or are waiting for it as a...
“Be Impeccable With Your Word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love. ”
— Don Miguel Ruiz
The Four Agreements, as written by Don Miguel Ruiz, are principles that create a code of conduct based on Toltec wisdom. The Toltec path advises us to create ultimate freedom by abandoning practices that lead us to separation from one another. This week on the mat, we will embody the first of these principles—Be impeccable with your word. Off the mat, the difficulty of this instruction is clear. We live in a world where we can say anything on various personal and social platforms; therefore we are well practiced on giving our opinions without first analyzing the thoughts that precede them. When you look at the intention behind words we can often see agenda and manipulation. We rarely...
Today is your birthday.
This fact is unfamiliar because my moments and my thoughts have been so wrapped up in your death day. Even so, I think back to this day last year. Tea in your kitchen, a gift of a bracelet with an ice skate charm, a conversation, the question of how you were feeling to which you responded “great.” The head-to-toe flood of relief that I hoped for each time I asked.
Two months later you stood before me and answered the same question through tears, “horrible.” Head-to-toe despair that I still wear like a heavy coat. Understatement. I wear it like a lead apron. When I was a research scientist and worked with certain radioactive isotopes I had to wear a lead apron. The weight of it seemed urgent, a protection against something unseen.
I remember the day you were in the hospital and I accompanied you to x-ray. I stood behind glass while you stood bare and cold in front of the machine. The technician lowered his own lead apron upon his...
“Usually there’s about a three-month love affair with yoga .’I feel so good.’ After about two months of practice, people think they are practically enlightened. Then usually around the third month, something happens and the yoga actually starts to work. And the first thing the ego structure does is to look for an escape route. People start heading for the door just at the moment when they should stay.”
— Richard Freeman
Most Americans are not used to tolerating discomfort. Within seconds we can change the temperature of the room, the volume of the radio, quench our thirst, and lessen our hunger. When we feel emotional discomfort, we can employ any number of tactics to run from it rather than examining what it really means on a deeper level. Discomfort is a threshold for transformation, and on that threshold we are faced with the choice to stay the same or change. One of the controversial aspects of the yoga practice is discerning how much...
She stood in front of me and looked me straight in the eyes and said it will get better. And I am almost ready to believe her.
I’ve really messed this year up so far. I allowed my cup to empty and remain empty and I tried to run on that very empty. Guess where that left me? Just empty. Time and vitality leaked away and before I knew it I was standing half-dressed in the bathroom one morning telling Dan that I just could not do what I had to do that day. But I did it anyway and the next day I got a quarter of the way dressed before saying it and doing it anyway again. The next week I said it from bed but got up again.
As I was guiding the last group of 200-hour teacher trainees for the last 15 weeks, I even heard the hollow in my own words. Be careful of burnout. Make sure you are receiving as much as you are giving. Stop when you need to stop, when life throws you curve balls; recognize your need for rest.
I am still ducking from life’s most recent wild curve ball. I...
The following was read at the Celebration of Amy Marlowe Anstead's life
on January 11, 2017
One of the things I used to laugh about with Amy is how I never felt connected to having the name Amy. When I was younger, I was an avid reader and loved the stories of girls and women with proper and beautiful names, like Anastasia. I was just Amy and it did not seem to fit. Our friend Teresa encouraged me to look up the origin of the name Amy as a way to help process my grief and so I did. It's meaning is beloved, but it comes from the French verb "to love." This is a fact that strikes me square in the heart. The verb. To Love.
Because there is Love the Noun and Love the Verb and Amy was the Verb.
Now it is the only name I want.
We shared a common favorite author, Barbara Kingsolver, who said, "It is surprising how much memory is built around things unnoticed at the time." She also said,
“Life’s experiences, regardless of how they show up, are the means though which we get to love one another.”
You can do yoga all day long and never experience yoga. One of the great hindrances to yoga as described in the Yoga Sutras is maintaining a narrow-minded focus on the self and an obsession with progress in our own personal practice. We want to attain difficult postures and floaty transitions and often carry the anxiety that we are not progressing fast enough. For many people, yoga begins as an endless self-improvement project. This week on the mat, we step forward into a different view. We will move from the desire to achieve in the practice to discover the practice that creates a sense of service and connection. The last two weeks of cleanse and illuminate have prepared our bodies and minds for this type of dedication. Now we are ready to practice from a space of devotion, trust, and...
“The opposite of aggression is not passivity, it is true strength. We when have lost a sense of innate nobility, we mistakenly believe in our fear and weakness. We try to be strong through hate and aggression. When we release aggression, we discover true strength, a natural fearlessness, the courage to face our griefs and fears, and to respond without hate.”
— Jack Kornfield
The equanimous mind and non-contentious heart is the shining jewel of our practice. This skill is truly precious because it is rare and elusive in a world where we have been trained to form quick opinions about right and wrong, good and bad. The practice of equanimity is a practice of seeing the space of possibility between an event and a reaction. We are often quick to form an opinion that we do not even see this space. On our mats in our asana practice, we find many good opportunities to recognize where we become...