Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

The inner freedom that is possible in the face of fear

I was cleaning off the door of my refrigerator this morning and found that quote tucked under the delivery schedule from my bottled water. In the last few days I have been thinking a lot about fear.
How can I include the fearful feelings I have in what I find acceptable in myself? Having fear and feeling it, although it is uncomfortable, isn't bad. It doesn't mean I am weak or that all of the work I have done on myself meant nothing.Facing fear means being willing to be present with the sensations I am having in my body. Fearlessness doesn't mean the experience of fear isn't there.
It means that in facing the fear I find freedom from the obsessive reactivity that keeps the story spinning of what could happen in the future. I notice I am afraid right now. My stomach feels tight and my breathing is shortened. I am afraid I won't express myself well enough and that I am saying the same thing over and over. As I explore deeper breathing and asking myself, "What is underneath that?" I notice the familiar core belief that I am doing it wrong.
The fear energy is that whatever I am doing I am doing it wrong.I breathe into the tightness in my chest. It is so uncomfortable to face this fear again. On top of the feeling is my ego's voice saying "Are you still working with this? Why don't you go do something important like get ready to leave the house? You know you have alot to do and you won't get it all done wallowing around feeling this AGAIN." I know this is my ego's way of helping me to avoid the experience of fear. The system got created to protect myself from fear. This ironically is also protection from facing the fear which allows it to release. The ego's voice is the fear of the fear. The most important thing for me to do is to be present with what is, whatever it is. Recognizing that, I keep writing and breathing. Taking a few moments to focus only on my breathing I can feel the tension releasing. The awareness comes to me that the fear of doing it wrong and doing it wrong are two different things. I can experience the anxiety that comes up for me without buying into making the story be true. What is doing it wrong anyway? I made it up to distract myself from being present. What is so scary about being present? To my ego it is very scary because it doesn't get to exist. The ego exists only in the past and the future. Of course it tells me I am doing it wrong, so I will stay in the story of why that is true and how that will affect me.Knowing that about my ego in this moment, I can feel compassion for the ego wanting to be in control.Bringing consciousness without judgement to my inner process allows me to be present. My ego wants me to believe we have to be separate from the source to survive. I allow myself to be present and to reconnect with my own deep sense of connection, that "I am consciousness", that is always there. This is freeing. Waiting for me is the sense that everything is going to be all right and underneath that is the sense that everything is all right, just the way it is. Fear is all right too. Fearlessness is the freedom that comes from facing fear.Is there something you are afraid of that you'd be willing to explore facing? It is very heart opening. I am grateful for the experience of writing this blog.In the year since I started writing it has supported me in growing and learning. I hope that has been true for you,too. May 2009 bring you to a deeper place of including more and more of who you are in your circle, and more fun. Happy New Year

Monday, December 29, 2008

virtual sangha

With a little openheartedness and willingness to forgive relationships can change. It is a decision about whether the relationship has enough health in it to be ressurected. My brother is home from the hospital recovering well. Things are different with us. He asked how I was doing today. I was so pleased. I am looking forward to exploring a new more reciprocal relationship with him. Thanks for all of your support.
During the holiday season I have been very challenged with my meditation practice. Often at the times I need to meditate the most is when I want to the least. Although I still sat on most days my mind was noisy and the time I spent was shorter. Last night the chanting group I am in met and my friend Val talked about the virtual sangha she had started. Sangha is a pali word for spiritual community. She wanted support from other peopple in meditating daily. She had struggled to do it on her own. She asked one friend to do it with her and then the group began to grow. People meet each morning on a free conference call and sit together for 30 minutes. She has been doing it for two months and has found that she is less reactive and more relaxed. On weekdays it is at 6:15 and on weekends it is at 8:00. You can participate in as many or as few as you want. This morning at 6:15 I joined the other people from all around the country who sit together over the phone each morning. Most of the sitting groups in the area meet in the evenings. In the winter in the evening it is cold and dark and I don't feel like going anywhere. Often I work in the evenings. This morning I could be in my robe in my own meditation room and still feel the energy joining with mine that is so supportive when sitting in a group. My day was much improved by the experience. I hope to continue. I plan to continue. I intend to continue. It is so good for me to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier. I felt like I had many more hours in the day than when I stay up late and sleep until 7. If you would like to experience this virtual sangha anyone can join. E-mail me or call me and I'll give you the phone numbers. Where are you with meditation these days? Would it be useful to start a regular meditation practice or to bring renewed energy to your current practice? What would that look like?

Thursday, December 25, 2008

giving without resentment

When I went to see my brother on Tuesday they were transferring him out of ICU to a regular room. I helped pushed the cart with his things on it and he walked with a walker. He is recovering very well and will be going home on December 27th. When he first arrived in his room the respiratory therapist gave him a five minute treatment during which he couldn't talk. I told him he could just listen and I would talk. After all of my upset about him not listening to me when I had my opportunity I hardly knew what to say. I told him how much I liked being listened to and how much I would appreciate him pausing and asking me how I was doing in the usual stream of his talking.I shared some of what is going on in my life. When the inhaler tube was removed he talked awhile and then said he was interested in my life and didn't realize he didn't ever ask about me. I called him today and he did ask about me. I am excited because people can and do change. I am changing, too. My heart has been softening more and more and my anger and resentment have melted away. It's a beautiful lesson that it helps me to open my heart when I give what I can without resentment. Giving freely heals the giver.
Gary and I went to his ex-wife's house for Christmas. His daughter and her family and his son were there.I give the gift of pushing through my anxiety about this arrangement so all of them can spend Christmas together. I had a pleasant time. Growing up Jewish, Christmas has often been a challenge. I feel as if I am from Neptune and all of the stressing about presents is so uncomfortable. This year I only got presents for the two grandchildren.I created a treasure hunt for them to find their presents which was very fun and allowed me private time with each child. It feels good to be creating my own rituals instead of taking on what the culture dictates. Again I gave what felt good to me without resentment.
Giving what I can without resentment is an opportunity to see what feels good from the inside rather than believing the story I tell myself about what should feel good.
In this way I use giving to strengthen my trust in my intuition. Overgiving creates resentment. Undergiving or holding back hardhearedly creates guilt. Peace comes from experimenting to find the place where there is neither guilt nor resentment.Giving freely is unmistakenly peaceful.Each time I give I get to listen to myself and all of my various voices and make a choice.Of course it is all a balancing act and a chance to experiment. The important thing is to see it as a process of moving toward peace and cut myself some slack along the way. Where are you with giving? What does thinking about how you give bring up for you?

Monday, December 22, 2008

brother part 2

My brother Ben is recovering from open heart surgery. It went well. They had him walking around ICU the day after he emerged from the six hour process. When I went to see him he was hooked up to many machines and his mortality seemed so palpable and I felt afraid he would die before we ever really reconnect. One of my wise friends said, "Just be present with him. Let go of expecting anything." That's what I have been doing the best that I can. Gary came with me to the hospital on Saturday.It meant a lot to me to have him come with me and my brother appreciated it.When we left Ben asked us both for a hug and said he was going to start living his life differently. I really want to believe him. I have opened my heart to him. I have moved from resentment guilt and duty to concern compassion and love. I love my brother. It feels so good to me to be doing my healing work about how responsible I have felt for him and how much I distanced because of that.We both have our own distancing issues. At least we are both reaching out to each other. It's a good place to start.Having his mortality so obvious brings up my fears of aging and dying.Everyone dies of something.
All I can do is follow my spiritual philosophy: Trust in God or the universe, do my part and let go of the outcome. Breathing and embracing what is will help me to do my part. In some ways all of this illness my brother is suffering is bringing us closer together.
It's exciting to see him being presented with so dramatic a wake-up call and opening to new possibilities. I think he feels cared about by the people in his life in a deeper way.It is also forcing me to face some of my fears and own some old patterns that have kept me resentful and stuck. My brother is who he is. I care about him. For now that is enough. Is there someone in your life that you care about that you want to express that to and maybe you have held back? Happy Solstice. It's always a relief to me to be past the longest night and gaining light everyday. I love lighting candles in the darkness to ritualize opening to both the darkness and the light.Embracing both seems so much more real.I want to open to both the darkness and the light in my realtionship with my brother.

Friday, December 19, 2008


As I write this my brother is in surgery in Boulder. He is having a quadruple bypass. It was supposed to be scheduled for 11am today and I just found out they didn't start until 5 tonight. I am very glad I called the hospital because now I'm not expecting it to be over anytime soon. The surgery takes from 5-10 hours. My father had a quadruple bypass also. He was 66. My brother is 56. My heart hurts. Physically it hurts because of that primordial connection that blood creates. My heart also hurst for the men in my family and how hard it is for both of them to be in touch with their hearts I hope this will help my brother to open his heart. I looked at a picture of him as a toddler today. He had so much light in his face. I know that little boy is still inside of him. My brother has been smoking marijuana daily since he was about 13. I have struggled with our relationship because he has been so self-centered. He talks compulsively and never say, "How are you?" He has pushed away most of the people who care about him. I had been communicating with him mostly through short e-mails. It was important to me to stay in some from of contact with him. When he called to say he was in the hospital with pneumonia I wanted to feel more than duty. I care about him and was holding a lot of resentment. Since that phone call I have been working with myself to open my heart so I can show up without resentment. I have talked to him on the phone regularly. When I can't listen anymore I get off the phone. Then he found out his heart was obstructed and he needed this surgery. I went to visit and we talked about how he pushes people away. I shared some of what I resented. He is starting to take some responsibility for all of his estranged relationships. He agreed to go to counseling when he gets out of the hospital.
When my Dad had this surgery it opened his heart. For six months he was emotionally available and vulnerable. It was joyous to be able to connect with him. I felt closer to him as I had always wanted to be. After about six months his heart began to shut down again. I remember feeling such a sense of loss. I am grateful that for six months my Dad let his emotions be known. Maybe my brother will have a heart-opening experience and turn his life around. I feel much more connected to him. This has been a good teaching about seeing past another's ego. I love my brother and I am glad to be in touch with that love.
I am learning to let go of my expectations and be present and show up. It seems important to know when to keep putting energy into a relationship and when it is time to back off and let go. Neither one is right or wrong. Have you had this dilema with someone in your life?
What has that been like for you? As long as we keep putting energy into our relationship with ourselves it is easier to be clear about what form of relationship to have with others.
Loving and accepting ourselves as we are means honoring that sometimes we need to set clear boundaries with others to honor and respect ourselves. If you feel like doing so, send my brother some energy for healing. His name is Ben. Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Taking back the night

The people who help me to maintain my car used to own a gas station on the corner of my street. I could easily take my car in and walk home. I learned to trust them. They have taken good care of my car for the eight years I have had it. It is fourteen and still running strong. Three years ago they moved about 2 1/2 miles away. I decided to build in my exercise into the days I needed to take my car in by dropping it off and walking home and walking back after my car is done. I love using walking for transportation so the arrangement worked well. Tomorrow I have to take my car in. I wanted more exercise than I got today. I decided to drop my car off after my PSYCH-K practice group tonight at 9:30. I knew it would be very cold so I dressed in my warmest clothes and checked in with myself to make sure it really felt safe. I have always been attracted to danger so I have to be careful to be wise in choosing my adventures. I've walked at night by myself in my neighborhood before and felt mostly safe. This was a stretch beyond my immediate neighborhood. I figured I had done this walk many times and knew it well. What I didn't reckon for was all of the ice. It was a good exercise in mindfulness because I had to be very aware of where I was putting my feet. I walked briskly and paid close attention to my surroundings. It was exhilarating to be alone in the cold night. I noticed Christmas decorations in a different because I was moving so much slower than whizzing by in a car.
I didn't notice the moon or see any stars. I'm not sure if that is because it was cloudy or because I didn't notice. Walking out of my front door just now, I realized there are stars visible in the sky. I guess I was too focused on what was in front of me to look up. When we were in Mexico we spent each evening on the beach looking at the stars. It is sad to me how rarely I notice them in the city. I used to go outside and look at the moon and sometimes even howl at it. Of late I have gotten way too used to being inside. Tonight inspired me to begin to at least notice the moon. I feel a strong connection with with the moon and I call it grandmother moon. When Monnya was in India we used to both gaze at the moon and think of each other . We called it moon mail. I am home safe and sound. It'sgood to have adventures so I have something to write about. I feel as if I have taken back the night. It is mine now in a different way because I stretched out of my comfort zone. To someone else this wouldn't have been a big deal at all and another wouldn't even consider doing something like that. What we each consider an adventure is unique. Would you like to give yourself an adventure? What could it be?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Reaching out

At this time of year it is important to remember to reach out to people we feel a genuine connection with. There's lots of busyness and the pace can be faster than usual. You may be involved in holiday parties where you are around people. That can feel very lonely if you aren't giving yourself the gift of connecting with the people you love. Who do you feel comfortable enough to be yourself with? When was the last time you reached out to that person? For me, it is easy to isolate myself especially when it is cold. I am learning to call and say," I was thinking about you and wanted to connect." I love when a friend does that with me. Sometimes I talk myself out of reaching out for various reasons. "It's been too long. Why couldn't he or she pick up a phone and call me? This person is way too busy and doesn't have time for me. I am way too busy and don't have time to call." E-mail is also a viable way to connect. I would rather receive a warm e-mail than have no contact at all. When we feel separate and afraid to reach out the ego is in control. At the end of life noone ever says," I wish I would've gotten more things crossed off of my to do list. People are more often regrettful about not spending more time with people they love.
Connecting doesn't have to be around mainlining sugar. Take a walk or have tea and talk.
At this time of year when it seems there is so much to do it is most important to slow down and bring awareness within. Being single and not having family around can be very challenging during the holidays, so can having family around. The opportunity is to honor ourselves in the midst of whatever. What does reaching out to myself look like?
I just watched a movie about Louise Hay where she suggested standing in front of the mirror and looking deeply into your own eyes and saying, " I love and accept myself as I am." I have been doing it today and it really helps me to appreciate myself and feel connected. That 's where connnection starts. Try it. Using the affirmation doesn't necessarily make it feel true. It just shifts the energy toward appreciation. It feels good to me to counteract my inner critical voice with a loving one. Looking into my eyes makes me feel seen and saying the words allows me to feel heard. In that way I can be more receptive to other people reaching out to me and more apt to extend myself to others.

Friday, December 12, 2008


Winter is a challenging season. Sunlight and warmth contribute greatly to my sense of well-being. When it gets dark earlier and it very cold it is easy to feel anxious or depressed. I went out for a walk as it was getting dark today. It was very hard to get myself out of the house to do it. When it is cold and dark it is more difficult to get out of bed in the morning, too. I notice that at this time of year I want to hole up and go inward. Traditionally the holiday season has been a time for running around shopping for gifts, going to parties and eating lots of sweets. This time of year is actually called "the going within time." in native american tradition. It has become anything but that. One positive result of our current financial situation is that many people are remaking the holidays to be more simple and more peaceful.
Winter can also be a beautiful time. Walking in the park, I noticed the snow covered ground in contrast to the colors of the the setting sun . Several years ago I decided to open to winter and notice some things to appreciate. I am doing a medium job which it way better than abject hatred and holding on in survival until daylight savings time comes back. On warmer winter days it is sure easier to appreciate winter and to open to accepting what is. I am working to be present in the winter even if I don't like it much. Some people have winter as their favorite season. I think those are the people who I see walking by me in the park with four less layers on than me.
So what are some ways to cope with winter blues when winter doesn't feel very beautiful at all? One way is to recreate warmth for yourself. If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace let yourself use it. Buy some tea you really like and sip it throughout the day. Take a hot bath and stay in it till the water starts to get cool. Wear thick socks or slippers and lots of layers in the house. So far I am only doing the tea and the socks. It is hard for me to take a bath. When I was doing a week long ayurvedic cleansing fast several years ago I took a bath daily. I really grew to look forward to the time to be warmed and relax and do nothing. When the cleansing was completed it was prescribed to take one bath a week. I have probably taken one bath a year. One woman I know takes more than one a day. I admire that. It is my intention to take a long hot bath sometime during this holiday season. It is so nurturing when I do. How about you? What else can you think of to recreate warmth?
Sunlight is the other commodity that is scarcer. We are lucky to live in Colorado where there is so much sunlight. When I was growing up in upstate New York there was winter from October to April and about 10 sunny days during the whole time. I think I was depressed my entire childhood. It is important to get out into the sun even if only for a few minutes. Taking vitamin d supplements can be helpful, too. Lessening sugar and caffeine and increasing leafy green vegetables supports the immune system. Cold and flu germs are airborne longer in cold dry air. I use a warm air humidifier and I think it really helps me sleep better in the winter. Whatever you do to take care of yourself remember to do it in this season even though it seems like there isn't time. Cut yourself some slack if you are sad. This can often be a time of disappointment because of our high expectations. We are wanting to have the holidays we hoped to have as children. Stay in your circle and make choices from there. Remember to laugh even if it means looking in the mirror and laughing at yourself. Check out laughter yoga for a good laugh about nothing at all. It's a great pick-up for the winter If you happen to be off from work or your schedule permits it I am leading laughter yoga on Monday December 22 from noon til one at the Unitarian church on the corner of 14th and Lafayette (Laughfayette- haha) It's free. I'd love to have you come.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

yoga for the holidays

I taught my yoga class today. I was a little nervous about being rusty because I haven't taught for three weeks. In Mexico I had the opportunity to take three classes from a gifted yoga teacher so I had alot I wanted to share. Once the class began I felt the energy of the class picking me up and carrying me and my fears into the flow. When I first started teaching severeal years ago I was really anxious, feeling like I didn't know what I was doing. A seasoned teacher told me that my students want me to do a good job. They are not there to judge me and figure out what I am doing wrong. They are there intending to have a satisfying experience in body mind and spirit. They aren't looking for the opportunity for me to get in the way of that. That really helped. It was so good to be back today. Teaching yoga is a double blessing because I get to do yoga, too. Yoga centers me in my body and brings me to the present. Today in class we focused on breathing into our bodies to bring aware of the sensations in our bodies. Focusing on the sensations in my body brings me out of my head. For instance writing this I am aware of a familiar tension in my lower back that lets me know that my automatic chair is up too high. There that's better. I am aware of tension in the right side of my neck. Breathing into the tension without an agenda to change it or fix it is comforting. Focusing on what I notice in my body in this moment, brings me to this moment more fully. Yoga is a perfect vehicle to develop awareness of the body. When I'm teaching I encourage students to draw their circles around themselves at the beginning of class. The sacred space this creates reminds them to use the breath to return their focus back to awareness of the body. Yoga is such an important part of my life. I know that a regular yoga practice contributes to graceful aging.
I started my home practice with three poses a day. Think about whether yoga might contribute to your life. If you think your body is too inflexible to do yoga that is when yoga could be the most helpful. If you already practice be sure to acknowledge yourself for the gift you are giving yourself. I would love to have you come to my class. The holiday season is such a good time to nurture ourselves in a way that really is nurturing. I teach Wednesdays from noon to one at Whole Yoga on 17th and Williams. If that time doesn't work for you there are many classes on the website. If it's too far away check out a studio nearby or go to for ideas on starting a home practice.

Monday, December 8, 2008

meditation: soother and cleanser

My computer has been testy and unresponsive for the past few days and since I am mostly computer illiterate I called for help today. I am uneasy now because even it is exhibiting similar behavior. I am trusting that I will either get to finish writing this blog or I won't. It's hard to relax and not let my sense of urgency be in charge of writing this. When I am rushing I make more mistakes and my thought process is less creative as well as less skillful. I am taking a deep breathe. I didn't meditate today. I have the kind of high energy prone to anxiety personality that needs the thorough daily soothing and cleansing that meditation provides. This morning I didn't get up soon enough before my 8:00 client came to do more than a little yoga and eat some breakfast.
Meditation allows me to sit still and is a way for me to stop my doing and just be. It is challenging when I have a lot to do to give some time to being and the rewards are great. My critical voice is quieter. It is easier for me to recognize that I am not my critical voice. I sit most mornings. I am reminded by the more frenetic quality of my energy, when I haven't made time for meditation. Sometimes before I sit it feels like a chore - something to be crossed off my to do list. Usually by the time I am finished I am grateful. I used to think that I could have good meditations and bad meditations. Good meditations would be when my thoughts would settle down and I could sustain a feeling of genuine peace. Bad meditations would be days that my mind was bouncing all over the place and I would bring myself back to my breath only to be drawn away into my thoughts again over and over until the time was up. After many years I realized that judging myself for my meditations was pretty amusing. It was a function of my ever-active ego's resourcefulness at finding opportunities for me to feel like I am doing something wrong. I decided that whether the meditation was satisfying in terms of my evaluative standards would be a moot point. That I meditated would be enough. Since then meditation has been more rewarding and even more fun. It's funny how removing the judge and letting the witness
come off of the bench and play makes for such a better game. I have been thinking about what is fun for me. To many, fun is about moving consciousness away from the present with alcohol, drugs and entertainment. I have my share of compulsive behaviors which sometimes feels like fun. I have been doing way too much window shopping on e-bay which is one reason my computer has been protesting. I want to find a balance between rigidity and indulgence so I can do what I need to do and enjoy my life more. Meditation is a way for me to more clearly know what feels ri9ght to me to do with my time. It slows me down enough to look at my choices in a more conscious way. It looks like I will be able to finish writing this blog. It certainly has been helpful to look at my sense of urgency and to recognize it and set it aside. I am going to meditate before I go to sleep. I know I'll sleep better. Where are you about meditation? Could it be useful to you to start or restart or reenergize a regular meditation practice?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

ocean ego

I am glad to be home. I am also in shock because yesterday I left the ocean and came back in my hoodie to twelve degrees and snow. I hadn't driven a car for ten days because the town in Mexico has none. This year they did have about ten ATV's doing business on the narrow cobblestone paths. I know it's progress and much easier to be building a house with the noisy little machines to help carry the load rather than using only burros.
I had a great time and am very grateful to have had such a lovely vacation. One highlight is the wonderful yoga teacher who teaches in a studio in the middle of town with a gorgeous ocean view. Another was swimming in the ocean with Gary almost every day. It also was worth getting wet crossing the river to get outside of town to meditate to the sound of the ocean waves crashing on the rocks. Each night we had a ritual of watching the stars and listening to the ocean. My spanish has progressed to the point where people who live there are actually correcting me. When you are beginning people just appreciate you trying at all. I can order in a restaurent with all of my food allergies and carry on completely rudimentary conversation. The best thing is that after going to the same place for three years I can easily relax there. That is such a blessing.
I want to share what happened on my last day. I had the decision about which water taxi to take to get to Puerto Vallerta. The ride takes an hour and is the only way to get to the pier where there is transportation to the airport. I had two choices. The later boat was cutting it quite close to my flight home. I decided to risk it because it gave me four more hours of paradise. I was practicing yoga and my ego was berating me telling me I was doing it wrong and that I would miss my flight. I listened for a while, getting more and more scared. I then told my ego that what it was saying might be true and if it was I would listen to it more. If it wasn't true I wouldn't listen to it. I asked it to back off until I was done doing yoga and moved my attention to my third eye. After yoga and one last time meditating on the rocks to the crashing waves I felt very joyous.Instead of "hoping for the best and planning for the worst," I could trust that everything would be OK. As I've said many times before, that can only happen when my definition of OK is very broad. I got home safely and smoothly. I learned that my ego gets loud and tries to use fear to move me out of the present. I think it would rather merge with the flow, it just isn't used to it. Bringing my attention to my third eye really helps, too. So today when it started being the voice of doom about several clients cancelling I was on to it. When I realized what was going on I breathed deeply into the fear and released the story. Then I went to meditate and focused on my third eye. What if there is no such thing as doing it wrong? What if there is only me making a choice to do what I am doing with a willingness to take responsibility for the natural consequences of each choice? Would it be useful for you to notice your ego talking to you today and respond to it by saying, " that might be true? Then focus your attention and your breath on your third eye bringing yourself to the present moment where the ego doesn't exist.
I am so glad to be writing again. I missed writing. I am glad to be sharing this with you. Thanks.