Saturday, December 17, 2011

Opening to Grace

I am in the middle of a yoga workshop with John Friend. He is the founder of Anusara yoga, a worldwide yoga practice whose first principal is opening to grace. I had an experience of opening to grace today. There are over 100 students in the training. Weeks ago I e-mailed the workshop logistics guy Roger about my hearing challenges and asked him if John Friend could use my special microphone which sends the speaker's voice directly into my hearing aids. He said he would work with me and even asked me for the name of the company who makes the microphone and called them.
I got to the workshop very early to work out the details and Roger put the microphone on John Friend's shirt. I was so excited anticipating being able to hear clearly without straining or trying to do what the person next to me does. My microphone placed where it was got deactivated by John's other microphone to amplify his voice to the group and wouldn't work. I kept thinking I was doing something wrong and urgently adjusting the devise I wear around my neck that streams the microphone into my hearing aids. Nothing I did made any difference. For two hours I strained to hear and was always one step behind except when John came in front of the group and I could read his lips. Mostly he walked around the room and didn't demonstrate the poses. All sorts of thoughts ran through my mind. What was I thinking signing up for an eight hour training when I didn't know for sure if it would work for me? I felt so sad and discouraged and disabled. I made it through the two hours and in shivasana or relaxation pose I remembered my present moment activating statement from this week of the presence process. I feel unconditionally. I lay there with tears streaming down my cheeks feeling my sadness and anger.
I became aware of the tight place around my heart where I hold all of my evidence that there is something wrong with me. I held myself in love and cried. I could see that my hearing loss or tight hips or difficulty getting jokes do not make me a defective human being. There is nothing wrong with me. I could just accept that this training was possibly going to be very challenging for me to hear and that it would be a loss to miss John Friend's sweetly spiritual and funny comments and wise yoga cues. Even with all of my feelings I would be OK. When we were done Roger said he was so sorry it didn't work and that he was willing to try again after the break.
I spent my break with my two friends Linza and Eric. I was able to be honest with them about my disappointment and get loving support. We had fun at lunch and then went for a walk around the lake at City park. It was a cold crisp walk and the gorgeous mountain view, clear blue sky and the warmth of the sun brought forth my gratitude for being alive.
We returned to the afternoon training and I decided to sit in meditation and ask for help from all of my spiritual support to have things work out and to be able to meet whatever happened
with grace or at least some level of acceptance of all of my feelings. I asked for guidance and help and I could feel my breath slow down and deepen and the anxiety and shame of the morning dissolve even more. Roger found me and put the microphone on John in a different way and it worked perfectly. I was able to hear every word. I felt so much joy in my soaring heart. I could feel the part of me that is afraid to trust that things work out well and is always waiting for the other shoe to drop. I gave that space too, feeling it unconditioinally and it stepped into the backgroud like an understudy in a play. The rest of the afternoon was filled with hard practice that didn't seem hard because I was so happy to be able to hear well enough to do it. It was a pleasure to learn from someone who has been teaching for 31 years and knows so much about how bodies work and how minds and spirits work with them. His passion for teaching and yoga was so inspiring and fueled my desire to continue to practice and to grow as a student and a teacher. I am so grateful to have opened to grace. ( I just realized as I am writing that opening to grace means opening to Grace which is the name of one of my spirit guides. Thank you Grace.)
In the relaxation pose at the end of the day I felt such a sense of the blessings in my life. I get to have experiences that stretch me and allow me to let go of my beliefs in my own unworthiness and embrace all of who I am. This is what I also wish for you.
Many blessings to you all at this holiday season. May you all continue to stretch and grow and open to all of who you are in all of your beauty. Andrea

Thursday, December 1, 2011

We grow

Now I am used to writing in plain black. I remember when my blog settings changed for no reason I could figure out and I couldn't write in color anymore. I was so upset and felt like there was something wrong with me for not being able to be tech-savy enough to figure it out. That has been a good teaching for me because now it doesn't matter. Maybe part of progress is that things that used to be upsetting and that I reacted to strongly no longer are triggers. Being willing to get underneath the story of my inadequacy to the felt sensation in my body allows the spaciousness to integrate formerly upsetting things.
I am now doing the Presence Process for the third time. I love Michael Brown and I wish I could sit at his feet drink in his wisdom which thankfully he would hate. He is so committed to people learning to increase present moment awareness by practicing it themselves that he put his message in a book rather than training facilitators to teach his process. It all feels new to me as if I had never heard a lot of what he is saying before. I think that is because I am in a different place and can absorb and integrate differently. Last week I walked around saying, " this moment matters" whenever I thought of it. It was a powerful way to bring myself out of my thoughts into my body. Doing the fifteen minutes twice a day of connected breathing gives me a structure that I appreciate. The last two times I went through the Presence Process I struggled with doing the evening breathing meditation and this time it is easier. Even if I am tired I do my connected breathing and not in my bed. When I let myself do my breathing session in my bed at night I usually fell asleep. I am being kinder to myself this time and more realistic about honoring my limitations.
I never pushed the right button to publish this blog and the other two thirds got erased somehow. Of course I have no idea what I wrote about nor what I want to write about now. If I use this moment to be with what is I notice tension in my shoulders and a too full feeling in my belly. That moment of stillness brought back to me what I had written about. I wrote about the very difficult time Gary and I had reconnecting. We had a values conflict to work out and my world was shaken for more than two weeks. It's so interesting to me that all of my angst didn't get saved and the whole blog didn't get published. I had the sense as I was writing that I needed to continue to work this out with Gary rather than blogging about it. Tonight I had the intuition to re read the blog because I couldn't remember what I wrote about. I discovered most of it had disappeared into thin air a week ago.
We are past our conflict now and I got a chance to soothe myself when I was in a very threatened place, reach out for support and clarify my boundaries. Gary got a chance to look at what was important to him in a deeper way. Together we grew closer. I am grateful that we do repair work so well even if it isn't pretty. In relationships there is harmony and disharmony. What determins the health of any relationship is how well repair work is done to bring disharmony back to harmony. Gary and I are committed to repair and that's the main thing I love about our relationship. On our first date we agreed to support each other in our spiritual growth no matter what. That is the definition of a spiritual partnership. That may even mean agreeing to change the form of the relationship if that is what best supports the spiritual development of both people. I am glad that the romantic partnership we are in now is the one that best supports both of us. A spiritual partnership embodies the conscious knowledge that we each trigger each other so we have the opportunity to heal. In the middle of being triggered it is hard to remember this and even harder to see beyond the messenger to the message. The definition of a trigger is something that reminds us of unresolved pain from the past. It's a challenge to stop and breathe and own the past pain. It's easier to blame the other guy and go for the jugular.
Out of this conflict that Gary and I faced he got to look at his tendency toward craving and I got to look at my tendency toward aversion. Both of them come from our attempts to protect ourselves from painful experiences in the past. I think this past two weeks has enabled both of us to peel away layers of the painbody and to trust each other in a deeper way. I am grateful. I'd like to paraphrase the words of Rumi, Beyond craving and aversion there is a field. I will meet you there. We are all spiritual beings in human bodies making mistakes and deserving of forgiveness both our own and each other's. Out of acknowledging each others' humanity and forgiving mistakes, we grow.