Archive of ‘mind/body’ category

What happens when you have to wait? Lessons from Cuba.

I just returned from taking a group to Cuba for a Yoga + Cultural Adventure.  And what an adventure it was!!  In order to share the immensity of what I learned, saw, felt, experienced… I decided to start at the beginning and send you a bit each week.

I hope you enjoy this peek into the magical, musical, mesmerizing island of Cuba!

Lesson #1:  You must wait.

Our group of 15 adventurous yogis and yoginis arrived ensemble on a flight from Cancun to Havana.  We excitedly awaited our bags.  After an hour, when the carousel began to move, our bags didn’t appear.  The folks who had arrived from Madrid gathered their bags and left.  We waited.  Then the folks who arrived from Paris gathered their bags and left.  We waited.  Then the folks who arrived from Berlin gathered their bags and left.  We waited.  Our group leader, a spunky American married to a Cuban, inquired about our bags.  She was told:  “You must wait.”  

This is when the true practice of yoga happens.    It’s the choice to be present to ourselves and not escape with distractions or substances.  Just be present.  Breath and mind.  Body and soul.

It reminds me of this quote from Sue Monk Kidd’s “When the Heart Waits”

“What has happened to our ability to dwell in the unknowing, to live inside a question and coexist with the tensions of uncertainty? Where is our willingness to incubate pain and let it birth something new? What has happened to patient unfolding, to endurance? These things are what form the ground of waiting.”

And so we began our Cuban Yoga Adventure.   Our patient group stretched, meditated, chatted and endured FIVE HOURS waiting for bags and then celebrated with gusto when they arrived.

 

Cuba_Airport

 

On our first morning we had the great pleasure and honor to take a yoga class with the Godfather of Yoga in Cuba, Eduardo Pimentel (I’ll tell you more about him in another installment.)  He opened class by saying “I hear you already began your yoga practice in baggage claim last night.  That is yoga.  Learning to find compassion in every situation.”

 

Cuba_Dance

 

On our last 2 days we headed to the beach.  Enthusiastically, we loaded ourselves into 2 small buses.  In less than a block, one of the buses broke down – a situation that in our former, fast-paced lives would have irritated and frustrated us.  But by this point, our yogic practice of waiting had transformed us.  Irritation and frustration were replaced with laughter and dance.  (It didn’t hurt that the bus driver had been trained in yoga while in the military. He told us dance and yoga are both good for increasing prana and opening chakras!)

There it was.  The fruit of our yoga practice:  an automatic response of laughter and dance in the face of being inconvenienced.

It may seem like a small thing, but think about it.  How much better would your life be if your automatic response to inconveniences was to laugh and dance? (Tweet it)

My wish for all of us is to be able to do just that.

Cuba_Travel

 

 

Here’s to more laughter and dance in your life,

Deb

2 of My Favorite (Simple Yet Valuable) Gifts to Make and Give

Holiday GiftsI used to love holiday baking.  But as a recovering sugar addict who recently discovered she cannot eat gluten, baking has lost its allure.

If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know that my son is a swimmer. Years ago I researched ways to help him combat chlorine damage to his hair and skin and found a swim spray that worked wonders.  The problem was that it was expensive – and he was using a bottle every week.   After ordering several bottles I finally took a close look at the ingredients and was shocked to find 2 simple items:  water and ascorbic acid (Vitamin C).

So I did a little more research and discovered I could make my own après swim spray for pennies!

If you have swimmers in your life, this is a great gift to make them!

Après Swim Spray:  12 ounces of water + 1 tsp ascorbic acid powder

The chemical structure of Vitamin C neutralizes chlorine, so after swimming, spray both hair and skin with the swim spray, rub in, and rinse in the shower (preferably one without chlorinated water).

The other gift I enjoyed making this year was a sensual salt scrub.  Healthy skin is covered in a very thin, slightly acidic film called the “acid mantle” that is secreted from the skin’s sebaceous glands.  The pH of bacteria, viruses, and other chemicals are primarily alkaline in nature, so the acid mantle acts as both a physical and chemical barrier to bacteria, viruses, and other potential contaminants from penetrating the skin.

Bathing or swimming in chlorinated water dries the skin and strips the acid mantle. By exfoliating with the salt and then rubbing in coconut, almond, sesame, macadamia nut or jojoba oil (my faves), your skin will not only feel super smooth, but also have an extra layer of protection – and smell delicious!

Sensual Salt Scrub:  2 cups sea salt + 1 cup organic almond oil + your favorite essential oils  (I used lavender, orange and jasmine)

The best part about making these gifts is that you can chant and pray as you make them, so the person who uses them will receive all your good intentions for them every time they use the spray or scrub.

These simple, inexpensive gifts are proof that price does not determine the value of a gift. 

And while you’re at it, make a jar of salt scrub for yourself.  It’s sort of like licking the batter when you’re making cookies – except it’s actually good for you

Bright blessings,

Deb

This helped calm my racing mind immediately.

How do you calm your racing mind?

I dance, walk in nature, step onto my yoga mat to practice, breathe deeply, chant, connect with loved ones and pray.

But I never knew that creating a yantra would also do the trick.

What’s a yantra?  According to my teacher, Ekabhumi Charles Ellik, yantras are mystical diagrams composed of sacred geometry, symbols of cosmic unity. Roughly translated, “yantra” means “tool” or “device.” As a tool, yantras are used to withdraw consciousness from the outer world, and go beyond the normal framework of mind to a state of consciousness known as Turiya, which is the background that underlies and transcends the three common states of consciousness:  waking consciousness, dreaming, and dreamless sleep.

Yantras  are also simply beautiful.

Last weekend I learned how to create the geometric patterns of a yantra the old-fashioned way, using a compass and a straight edge.  The process was mesmerizing and the product captivating.  For some people, the process was super frustrating before it became meditative – which made it a very fruitful practice!


sacred geometry
You don’t have to create a yantra from scratch to reap the mind-calming benefits.  You can color them and then meditate on the design.  My favorite coloring book for yantras  is  Ekabhumi’s “The Shakti Coloring Book” because not only does he provide beautiful images for you to color, he also teaches the deeper wisdom and meanings of all the shapes, symbols and colors.

 
Yantra Coloring BookYou can learn more about Ekabhumi and purchase his coloring book from his website:
http://www.ekabhumi.com

Whether it’s through chanting, praying, dancing, gardening, needlepoint or coloring, my prayer is that you find ways to calm your mind this holiday season.

Everything in life is better with a calm mind. Tweet It!

 


Yoga + Old World Cuban Culture

Pinch me!  I’ve been invited to lead a yoga + cultural adventure trip to CUBA on February 6 – 13th.    This is a legal and licensed trip for US citizens, and we will have a very special itinerary and personal guides during our trip.  We will experience old Havana – the food, dancing, culture, beaches and people before it becomes widely open to US tourism (No Starbucks yet!) … and, of course, we’ll be travelling with an amazing like-minded group who are up for an experience of a lifetime!

On top of that, we will also meet the “Godfather of Yoga in Cuba”  ~ Eduardo Pimentel.
Eduardo has humbly dedicated that last 30 years of his life spreading the teachings of yoga.
Our small group will share yoga with his community…. an exchange from the heart.  I can’t wait!

 

 
There are only 6 spots left.  Click here to find out more details and join us if you feel called!

Re-entry Is As Important As Retreat

Retreat/Re-entry
Both are important facets
Of your healing path

photo re-entry

When I lead a retreat, it’s not simply a vacation. It’s a powerful healing experience. Last week I co-facilitated a super-powered healing retreat at Mt. Shasta. It was a dream come true to be on that sacred land and in those holy waters. We danced, hiked, meditated, chanted, prayed, learned energy healing techniques, ate prana-filled food, drank pure spring water, purified our bodies in wood-burning saunas followed by icy cold plunges, laughed, cried, played, unwound and rested.

Here’s a mini experience of the retreat for you:

As powerful as a retreat is, re-entry is just as important. click to tweet

Everyone who attends a retreat leaves and returns to a full life. It’s kind of like stepping off a treadmill that’s going 10 mph and then returning. My advice? Slow that treadmill way down before jumping back on.

But it’s not always easy.

Luckily, I’ve been leading retreats and re-entering life as a working mom for years and I’ve discovered a few re-entry strategies that might be helpful to you.

Before you get home:

  1. Write down what the retreat has helped you release and what you desire to call in. (You’ll use this information later)
  2. If you are coming home to loved ones (friends, spouse, children, parents…) write 1–3 bullet points to express how the retreat benefited you, how it will benefit them and how it will benefit your relationship. What I’ve discovered is that loved ones really want to hear about your retreat, but they often don’t have the bandwidth to hear a complete download all at once. So it’s nice to be able to distill a few things for your first re-entry conversations.
  3. Create a grocery list! This one is so important because while on retreat you have been fed delicious, nutritious, TIMELY meals. And since you’ve been gone, your fridge and cupboards are probably empty. So in order to continue feeling great, you’ll need to make an immediate trip to the grocery store – and since your brain has been so relaxed, you cannot depend on wandering the aisles and coming home with everything you need. Trust me. I’ve tried.

When you get home:

  1. Create your new daily routine based on the things you committed to during your retreat. If you committed to morning meditation and a morning workout – start before checking emails and doing laundry. This is such a key moment that will determine how you will integrate and continue to expand the healing you received from the retreat.
  2. Give yourself at least 2 days before fully jumping into your life if at all possible. If this isn’t possible (like my current situation where I literally jumped back into life as a traveling swim mom) then stay focused on one or two things you decided to call in (from #1 above.)
    For example, I committed to add a specific meditation to my daily practice and to take the same good care of myself as I do of my son (this is huge.) So here I am, in an AirBnB house shuttling 2 swimmers back and forth to warm-ups and events, feeding them meals and snacks and coordinating with coaches…and I’m starting each day with that meditation and making sure I have my morning smoothie and timely, prana-filled meals.
  3. Stay in touch with at least one person who was on the retreat with you. This is a great way to share creative solutions for re-entry conundrums.
  4. Remember…. healing happens when you slow down and connect with nature. You can bring yourself back into the feeling of the retreat by taking a few moments to walk barefoot in grass. It can be that easy.

Wishing you moments of healing throughout your day,

Deb

PS- My next women’s retreat is in Costa Rica. Do you want to join us? There are 8 spots remaining, maybe one is for you! Learn more, HERE.

Set Your Loved Ones Free

deb_blog_setyourloveonesfree

On Children
 Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Last week as I was helping my son pack for a 2 week trip to California with his swim team, I found myself feeling the same kind of ‘not wanting to let him go’ feelings I had on the first day of preschool.  After he left for his big adventure I found myself feeling a sort of dull ache in my heart.  Sort of a homesick kind of feeling.   I have those feelings often.  Not just for my son, but for people I love deeply.   Over the years I’ve learned that I tend to over-nurture and hold on in co-dependent ways – and having worked with hundreds of clients, I realize I’m not alone in those tendencies!  So I’ve developed a practice that helps me and my clients let go of people we love so that they – and we – are free.

When I first began this practice, I was very hesitant.  I thought letting someone go was synonymous with not loving them.   I thought cutting energy cords was synonymous with cutting someone out of my life.  But after using this technique (and tweaking it over the years) I have discovered that letting someone go in this way is a most loving and caring action – for them and for me.  It allows them to connect to the real source of life energy rather than mistakenly believing that I am the source of their life energy.  It allows them to be free to expand into their fullness without any limitations that I might unwittingly be placing on them.  And it allows me to do the same.

You can do this with your children, parents, siblings, pets, friends, spouse, co-workers…anyone you love and wish to set free. 

Set your loved ones free.twitter-icon

Here’s how I do it:

  1. I create a small altar with items that represent the person I am setting free and items that represent Divine Love. (I always have a representation of earth, air, fire and water on my altars. In this photo you’ll see crystals (earth), a vase of flowers (water and air – flowers represent air), a candle (fire)  You’ll also see other items that represent my son and Divine Love.)
  2. I light a candle
  3. I offer gratitude for the person.
  4. I close my eyes and ask to be filled with Divine Love.
  5. I take a deep breath.
  6. Then I imagine the person standing in front of me. I imagine all the energetic cords connecting the two of us.  (Relax.  If you are someone who doesn’t easily ‘see’ things in your imagination, just have the thought.)
  7. With my heart, I call forth Archangel Michael and ask him to cut all the cords of energy connecting me to this person.
  8. As the cords of energy are cut, I imagine the person’s energy returning to them and my energy returning to me. I feel my energy fill up and I see their energy fill up and get bigger.
  9. Then I say (out loud or silently): “I love you and I release you to your experience of life.  You are connected to the source of life and you are free to expand.  And I am connected to the source of life, and I am free to expand.”
  10. As I say that I imagine them being held in the palm of God’s hand, surrounded by angels and I imagine myself the same way.
  11. Then I say “thank you, thank you, thank you.” (as the Christian mystic, Meister Eckhart said “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘thank you,’ it will be enough.”)

I hope this practice helps you as much as it has helped me.

In love and freedom,

Deb

PS- There are only 11 Divine Your Life sessions available this summer.

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