February. The Shadow. Grace. A tale of release!

These frigid temperatures and the immense amount of effort involved in shoveling, making sure pipes don’t freeze, animals and children are safe and cars are maintained is nothing short of exhausting and draining.

February is a challenging month for the winter season just seems never ending and despite hot flashes that appear at the most inappropriate moments, I remain chilled to the bone.

However, there is in the four seasons and the rhythm of the cycles that it offers, a chance to sink into our practice from a different space which in Ayurvedic understanding, there is a sacred rhythm at hand here in the flow of the universe which is reflected in our sleep cycles, the different types of food we eat ( back then, seasonal) in essence, a living vinyasa. This is one of the many reasons I favor a practice that can change with everyday because truly each day, something is new and different.

I am constantly going back to the first and second limbs of yoga, the yamas and niyamas because they are so portable, practical and necessary for me to support shifting from a lifetime of negative, reactive samskaras to healthy, life affirming samskaras (habits)

Right now in my teaching practice, I am always drawn to teaching what I am relearning at deeper and deeper levels and teaching from my own experience. The idea of non stealing, non-coveting (asteya) and non possessiveness (aparigraha) have been steeping in my system all week.  I spent so much of my life unhappy in my own skin, as a victim and feeling belittled by others seeming success, good grooming, pedigree, etc…It stands to reason that I was also possessive of what I did feel define me as something that I wanted to be.  A sign of status that could be a certain friend claiming me as a peer, a label of clothing.  You get the on the surface pretty picture?

Of course, most of us know by now, the house of sand we build, blows away with the wind, gets crushed and leveled by giant waves or just plain pummeled by rain.  The times in my life when my house of sand was leveled, it forced me to make the decision to become smaller and more fearful or to find and realize what amazing tools I could harness to begin to build a solid foundation. One that is grounded in love and compassion and my own truth (ahimsa and Satya!) one that realized when I let go of the need to be Perfect. Noticed. First. The Best. The Only. I don’t have to compare myself to anyone. It is okay to be in my skin. I don’t have to be anyone other than someone who can stand in her own truth uncomfortable as that is at times. It is mine.

Non attachment has been misunderstood as this calm, placid, almost indifference to the ups and downs and trials and tribulations of life. I have experienced it as the opposite. As the mud pie, brick and mortar mixing of the solid foundation, it is getting rid of all the shit, cleaning out the basement, lightening the load, taking out the trash really messy sort of practice. What is left? We are so afraid to face the shadow. To look at our own darkness! I will never be rid of all the darkness but I am not afraid to look under the bed, open the closet doors and turn the flipping light on to shine it into that darkness. What is left? Part of my fear was that was all there was of me. A suspicion that recognized the facade of my life, the pretending part…thought this was all there is. One big fake phony.

Life has a way of allowing us in moments of the worst despair, to find something else. God. Love. Whatever you want to call it. Holy Spirit. Humanity. One of the times of my life when I felt it could not get any worse, during the month of Feb….one of many, many moments of Grace happened. Perhaps they happened before, but I wasn’t ready to notice. This time I did. I had a baby. I had to remain somewhat sane. I lost my house, security, any sort of direction for the future was foggy and unclear. I lost everything but my baby, my dog, a car that needed a transmission and a whole lot of books. But there was liberation. Grace. My soul found sanctuary in starkness. I wrote a poem. It eventually became this song. When I lost so much,  I became aware of how much I truly had. I had been given not only the gift of my own life, but the gift of my son. I was alive and on this planet. It was okay to be me. I let go of wanting to be someone else. I started building my solid foundation with prayer, trust, surrender and an immense sense of gratitude and love for life. My life. Imperfect and messy. But mine.

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