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Growing Pains


Today, I am sitting down to write. I have looked at this screen and have not known where to go with my posting. I jot down words and half sentences nearly every day, however knowing where to go with those notes is often perplexing. Today I am writing on what it means for me to be an adult. My birthday is coming up tomorrow, so what a perfect season to reflect on adulthood. I mentioned in a previous post that I had to grow up quickly. I did. I took on adult responsibilities like earning an income, buying groceries, doing my own laundry, etc. These tasks are part of being an adult, although the longer I’ve been on this earth, the more I’m finding the meaning of growing up is much deeper than the chores I manage.

Becoming emotionally mature has been a much bigger piece than the “tasks” of day-to-day adulthood. How my life goes, how it is perceived, how I struggle (or enjoy) all depends on what goes on in my mind. If the world is my mirror then I must approach the world with positive attitude so that this place I inhabit is a positive place.  In all of my self-improvement studies and yoga practices I have heard the words “forgive”, “let go”, and other flowery words that sound so nice and peaceful. My mind would always struggle with those concepts. How do I let go? How do I keep the thoughts, the pains, the pressure from returning?

The word to describe the “how” of letting go and forgiving is surrender. Surrender is the ability to balance and calm emotions when we are being very rigid or stuck in our ways. Often when we’ve experienced a trauma or a tremendous pain, we carry that pain with us for years or even decades. This can block our vision to a happier, healthier future. The negativity can create stress in our bodies, and the longer we hold the stress we create tension patterns that can then turn to disease. When we surrender, we relax our bodies and clear our minds so that we can focus on what is important and the steps to get to the “other side”. The “other side” is just living in a space where we operate from joy and from love.

If we can operate from a space of joy and love we can truly begin to enjoy life, see the beauty of what is around us. Sometimes stormy thoughts keep us from noticing what is good even if it is right in front of our face. Choosing to surrender, in a sense cleanses the mind and the body. Any fear, anxiety, or negative chemistry are then released and  softness is created in the body, a release of tension. When we release tension from negative emotions, we are maturing and defeating an enemy of sorts– the enemy that is ourselves.

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Judgement Free Zone


Tuesday evening I watched my son receive his green belt in Tae Kwon Do. Several times a week I sit in the dojang waiting on his class to end. I look around and see the tenets of Tae Kwon Do on the wall. As a yoga practitioner, it hit me that his tenants are very similar to what Patanjali spoke of in the Yoga Sutras. This is a book of attitudes and behaviors, if we embody will lead to a more purposeful life. The Sutras are a list of to-dos and restraints that we can align our actions towards.

Lately, I have been contemplating judgement. This would be addressed in the TKD tenet of courtesy and in yoga as ahimsa or non-violence. How we judge others is often a reflection of how we judge ourselves. If we are self-critical, we have a near constant stream of internal dialog running. For me, I started contemplating judgement because everything I do in my profession is of service– as a mother, a doula, a yogi, and an entrepreneur. How can I truly serve people if I am coming from a place of judgement?

I took a video of my son doing his form for his belt test, when I went back and watched it I can see that he is very aware of his body, looking at his feet and his arms to make sure his form was in proper alignment as he was supposed to be in a place of stillness and strength. Feelings of insecurity, unworthiness, fear or worry about the past and future  are often the culprits of any sort of judgement. This can cause us to become our own worst bully. The things we think are energy, and judgement creates an energy of criticism.

Becoming aware of our thoughts is the first way to begin to make a change. Thoughts have a lot of power. They are in fact, things. If we are intensely thinking negative, we can quickly downward spiral because thoughts become words, words become behaviors, behaviors become habits and our habits then become our values. Svadhyaya in yoga is self-study or observation. When we become aware of how we think, how much energy we give to certain thoughts, whether constructive or destructive we can begin to make a change. The opposite of judgement is love and compassion, so when a thought of judgement of self or others come up, quickly switch to a loving thought.

For me, the place I see my self-judgement the most is when I sit to meditate, which mimics what I see in Keenan’s forms class. I will sit and bring my focus on my breath, and that is where the judgement begins and my breath will constrict and become shallow. I judge how I breathe! I tell myself I will never be able to do it right! Breathe?!? This is something I have been doing naturally, each and every day since the moment I was born. Pretty ridiculous to judge and stop myself from breathing, lol. Being gently aware of this, I can begin to release the judgement and criticism. Love myself one breath at a time!