Anxiety

5:32am.
No you can’t hit snooze.
Grab your phone.
Facebook says everyone is fine. Get up.
Where are your slippers?
Where are your fucking slippers!?
More people shot today; more hate and fear on tv.
Choke ’em back, go get dressed.
Look at you. You haven’t looked yet.
You don’t wanna look.
The scale fucking LIES.
The news fucking LIES.
Fuck these damn pants!
You guess you like this skirt instead.
OH SHIT! You lost track of time.
IDIOT.
Better hang your head and make the late call.
You’ve been fucking up a lot recently.
WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?

NOTHING. I am human. I am worthy. I am always learning. I am always enough.

-M

Meditation Monday

Om is a Hindu sacred sound that is considered the greatest of all mantras. It is composed of three sounds a-u-m. In Sanskrit, the A and U combine to become O.

Pranayama is the regulation of breath through techniques and exercises.
Vedas are Hindu scripture dating between 1500-1200 bce.
 
Why Aum?
 
The tradition of yoga includes the devotional practice of the chant. Aum, the simplest chant, is a call for unity at the beginning and end of each class. It is the distillation of all sound. I sat in meditation one day and heard the Aum of the ocean, the Aum of the fog horn, and the Aum of my cat snoring, all at once. Anywhere on earth, if you pause to listen, you will hear the great unifier Aum. Aum requires that we rest in the present moment.
 
We are vibrational beings.
 
When we sing together each of us calls forth from within a vibration and merges it with the vibration of others; it is a generous, unifying gesture. Chanting together quickly brings students- who may arrive with individual burdens or joys- to a state of equalizing vibration. We tune ourselves to each other at the most basic level and so announce our intention to practice together.
 
Physically, the chant clears the lungs, throat, mouth, and sinuses and stimulates essential juice (rasa). Chanting awakens the soft palate, that sheath just under the pituitary and hypothalamus glands. Chanting warms the chest, the area around the heart, and prepares the body for pranayama. The chant will purify the subtle body as well, bringing balance and tone to an overwrought nervous system.
 
Newton’s first law tells us that energy is neither created nor destroyed. Sound accretes and transforms but never dies. Some of the Sanskrit chants we sing are ancient, dating back to the Vedas. Through the gift of our voices we can harness the energy and intention of yogis who lived several thousand years ago. The vibration of the music exists whether we choose to chant or not, when we take it into ourselves and send it out again through our own channels, we are keeping alive its healing properties.
 
When a student feels uncomfortable chanting in class, silent participation is best. The vibration passes through everyone in the room.
 
Music – and the voices engaged in it- has the power to heal.
 
-Judith Mcclain, 2007

Meditation Monday

Today, there were 4 men and 4 women in my yoga class. I really love it when men come to class because I feel that the practice is not defined by gender, race, ethnicity, or religion. Of course there is some religious influence because its roots stem from the Hindu religion, but overall, the practice is what you personally make of it. There is this notion in America that yoga is feminine. It’s in magazines, movies, and on TV. I feel it is up to all us yogis to change minds and hearts, so that everyone (whether they practice or not) knows that yoga is universal.

My yoga is feminine, masculine, and the unifying knowledge of both.
My yoga is the earth, the atmosphere, and the oneness of the universe.
My yoga is within me, and respects and admires the yoga within you.

Namaste

-Madison Adams

Mediation Monday

We’re bringing it back! Here is today’s new Meditation Monday by Madison Adams!

in·ten·tion
inˈten(t)SH(ə)n/
noun
1. a thing intended; an aim or plan.
“she was full of good intentions”
2. the healing process of a wound.

1. Today, my intention is to let go of worry; to allow my thoughts and energies to flow through my fingers, and into this keyboard.

2. Today, my intention is to love myself so that I may love others just as deeply.

Start small. Set an intention every day. Today, I will wear two different socks, and be o.k. with it. Today, I will find a new recipe that revolves around vegetables so I have more in my diet. Today, I will bring a warm beverage to a Salvation Army bell ringer. Today, instead of retaliating when I have been hurt, I will remove myself from the situation, and talk about it later.

You may be surprised to find that intentions that seem grand to most, become second nature to you.

-Madison Adams

I Love…

Dahlias and Daisies. Fire pits. Running fingers through my hair. Wiggling toes. Warm strawberry rhubarb pie with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Springtime sunrise on my back porch. Dissipating fog. Sunsets in Sedona. Baby animal noses and noises. Bubbles. The smell of fresh baked cookies. Rainbows. Best friends. Dancing. Bees. Naps on the sunny side of my couch. Hula hoops. Singing as loud as I can in my car. Farmer’s markets. Dogs. When little kids tell stories. Deaf culture. Yoga. Science. Music that gives me goosebumps. Coloring. Coconut. Vermont. My Adventure Time blanket. Nature documentaries. Birthdays. Laser tag. Siblings. Things that light up. Freckles. Craft beer. When you make me dinner. When you do things I want to do, even when you’d rather not, and still keep an open mind. The way you smile when you’re uncomfortable. The way you manage to make every anxious moment silly. The way you look at me. How you are a part of everything I love; every moment; every day.

-Madison Adams

Meditation Monday

This plastic ring of mine is an endless circle of strength.
It knows no boundaries other than the one it makes on its own.
I know no boundaries.
This ring of beauty, grace, intelligence, and wonder.
It swallows me into a vortex of joy that never leaves,
Even when I must.
This never ending smile of mine relentlessly calls me.
Play, grow, amaze, and allow my fears to become just a thought
That disintegrates with every fumble.
This hula hoop of mine is my weapon of choice
In a battle against a sedentary, negative, unfulfilled existence.
My love to share.
-MA

Meditation Monday

I attribute myself to being the Princess and the Pea. Sleep, to me, is precious. It is our body’s way of accepting the beating it took through out the day, forgiving you for it, and allowing you to feel safe while it mends and rejuvinates. Sleep is necessary for physiological and mental functions that we aren’t even aware of, unless you’re like me and lucid dream, eventually waking up feeling like you just ran for your life. I wake up when the sheets are tangled and when the blanket is falling off the bed. I have to sleep with a fan on and if the coyotes (or Chupa Cabre as I like to call them) are out, no fan can block out their blood curdling, child murdering cries.

So… I lay on my back and silently, slowly say my mantra for sleep.

My toes are relaxed.
My toes are relaxed.
My toes are completely relaxed.

My ankles are relaxed.
My ankles are relaxed.
My ankles are completely relaxed.

My knees are relaxed.
My knees are relaxed.
My knees are completely relaxed.

My hips are relaxed.
My hips are relaxed.
My hips are completely relaxed.

My fingers are relaxed.
My fingers are relaxed.
My fingers are completely relaxed.

My elbows are relaxed.
My elbows are relaxed.
My elbows are completely relaxed.

My shoulders are relaxed.
My shoulders are relaxed.
My shoulders are completely relaxed.

My neck is relaxed.
My neck is relaxed.
My neck is completely relaxed.

…I would go to my face, but I haven’t made it that far.

-M-

Meditation Monday

A Favorite Quote

You should never lose site of the importance of having a realistic attitude- of being very sensitive to and respectful of the concrete reality of your situation as you proceed on the patch toward your ultimate goal. Recognize the difficulties inherent in your path, and the fact that it may take time and consistent effort. It’s also important to make a clear distinction in your mind between your ideals and the standards by which you judge your progress.
-His Holiness the Dalai Lama
-M-

Meditation Monday

Ode To Feet

At one point in my life, I really hated my feet. They are small with hobbit-like qualities; not the kind of feet any girl wants. Vienna sausage toes- add glitter, pearl, or color changing polish and you get… Fancy Vienna sausage toes. These oh-so-fancy feet are even a half size different. You are useless! What good are you, feet?!

So good.

So good, in fact, I’m learning to really love them. They march to the beats of my own percussion. They support me even when I’m not feeling as strong as they are. They dance my blues away. They hike me up the Tetons, and balance me in natarajasana. They wear a symbol for my siblings proudly. They are the classiest in Betsy and ready for battle in Earth.

But, I love them most when they’re just havin’ a groovy, tattooed, glittered mini sausage wiggling, grass loving, hang out at the arboretum kind of day.

-M-

Meditation Monday

We are starting a new weekly column called Meditation Monday by a new contributor Madison. Check back every Monday for some advice on mediation and how it can help you find some calmness in a crazy world.

med·i·tate
ˈmedəˌtāt/
verb

  1. think deeply or focus one’s mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation.
  2. think deeply or carefully about (something).

Meditation, by definition, is very overwhelming to me. I tried to picture myself sitting in full lotus (cross-leg tops of feet on tops of thighs) fingers in OK formation, and chanting. Ridiculous. Not happening. I toned it down a little and just sat quietly on a pillow on my floor. This was nice and all, but my mind was racing. First the conflicts of the day repeated over and over, then the meals I ate (which I felt guilty about), then songs- some I was happy to think about, others I wish never existed-, then more food, and worrying. So much worrying. This meditation shit isn’t working. I only THINK the whole time! Aren’t I supposed to be able to CLEAR my mind so I can focus? This is impossible and definitely not relaxing. So I asked my therapist, “What am I doing wrong!?” What he told me changed everything.

What if I didn’t focus on what the dictionary told me meditation is? What if I sat down and contemplated on what meditation means to me and what I can get out of it?

The mind is one big rolodex of information. When it’s racing and experiencing multiple emotions all in 1 day, the little cards that were once in order are flying all over the place, creating a giant mess. How could anyone make sense of any information that’s there if nothing is where it should be? What if I went home, sat down, and ALLOWED my mind to wander instead of fight it?

I felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. My definition of Meditate started like this: to sit in silence for a period of time and let go.

I did just that. I allowed the good and bad songs, allowed the food I ate and wanted to eat, allowed the negativity that was spewed all over me at work, allowed the overdue hospital bills and car insurance bill and whatever other worries I had. I let it all flow freely like evil ooze under the streets of NYC. And to my surprise, they left as quickly as they came. Some of them returned only to be pushed aside by thoughts of my dog as a puppy, my little sister’s Santa-like laugh, my brother playing the Beatles on piano, maple muffins with chocolate ganache sprinkled with bacon. I only sat for 3 min the first time. I knew that if I sat longer I may expect something Disney-esq to happen so I decided that 3 min was a good enough time. I made a commitment to myself that I was going to meditate every day. That didn’t happen at all. I was bummed and felt so much guilt. So I when I did meditate again, I allowed myself to forgive myself.

My mind felt like I just prepared my house for family on Christmas eve.

My definition of meditate changed: to sit in quiet for a period of time, allow, accept, and forgive.

Sometimes I would sit outside and listen to the wind while letting my rolodex re-file itself. Sometimes I would light a candle because I wanted to smell nice things while my rolodex was re-filing itself. Enhancing my senses sometimes brought up things that my mind had filed under Miscellaneous and hid in the proverbial closet. Sometimes I sat for longer and sometimes I cried. But every time, I allowed my thoughts to come forward. I accepted them for what they were, thoughts, and I allowed them to pass. I forgave myself for any negative emotion I had, for anyone who had cast their negativity on me. This meditation thing was really starting to make sense!

One day at a time. Yesterday happened. Tomorrow hasn’t happened. All you can do is allow today, accept what it brings you, forgive yourself, and allow it to pass when you go to sleep.It only takes 3 min.

-M-

mend.

Good morning. yes, it’s morning. another day.
No, you can’t stay in bed. You’ve got to get up. You’ve got a job to do. People are counting on you, and when your job is done, you’re gonna go dancing!
Yes, you are absolutely going. You’ve already promised your best friend you would be DD and you know she never let’s loose so you can’t deprive her of a good time.
So what if he’s gonna be there? You can’t let him ruin your favorite thing. At this point it’s the only thing that makes you happy. It’s your drug free coping mechanism! How amazing is that? You can do this.

Yes, you have a muffin top, and yes you carry most of your body fat on your thighs. So do most of the women in the U.S.! Do you know what no woman in the U.S. has? Your eyes. Your smile. Your sparkle. He may have smothered it, buried it, and left it for dead, but this sparkle is immortal. That’s right. It will NEVER die. You can do this.

You did it! You danced your heart out! You looked fabulous! Your friends were so happy to see you… and what did they say? “I’m so proud of you.” They’re proud of you for getting out of bed, even though you felt smothered. They’re proud of you for being brave and having a good time, even though you were scared.

Be proud of you. You did it. You found a way to help mend your broken heart.
Allow it to be broken again.

to the one & only disco

Disco,
    I knew that having you was going to be a learning experience, but I never expected to learn so much about myself because of you. I learned discipline from willingly waking up at 5am every day to play and train with you before I left for work. You showed me that by being determined and never giving up, you could be a fantastic agility dog. You really shined and made me so proud. You were my gardening partner, keeping me company and getting into things you shouldn’t, always reminding me to be patient. I was. You were my therapist at times, listening to me talk about anything and looking at me with approval every once and a while, but when our eyes meet, you wiggle your tail and come give me love. Disco+Mommy quiet time was always my favorite. You were so smart. I was very impressed when I figured out how you manipulated the cat to get what you wanted!
      You also made me aware of my weaknesses and in turn, made me face them. And, just for the record, living in a loft with a puppy is not easy! I learned that in order to help you conquer your fears, I had to conquer my own. For every difficult, painful, disappointing moment, there is a beautiful, exciting, super fun moment right beside. There’s moments where I questioned your sanity. I know now that you had OCD, but I still laugh remembering the countless hours of entertainment on your behalf. Watching your decline was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, however, I learned what it feels like to love something with all my being. Waking up early, staying up late, hours of researching, hundreds of dollars, and almost all my free time… all dedicated to you without a second thought. I wanted you to live the best life you could, despite your special needs.
     There will be future canine homies, but know that you will never be forgotten and your essence will forever be with me. I will be riding my bike down a sunny neighborhood street, basket full of honeydew melon, tennis balls, and a shaaahk, with my comrade by my side, and you to thank for that.

I love you and miss you,
Momma Bear

image

“can’t stop, won’t stop”

For over 10 years now I have been through primary care doctors, specialists, and a hospital stay. I’ve gotten into more knock down, hair dragging arguments with my mother than I’d like to admit. I’ve been on numerous medications, most of which the side effects are almost unbearable. In the past 5 years I’ve had at least 3 bi-polar episodes that left me exhausted in bed for days. I’ve had 4 long term relationships, all of which have gone miserably sour and the last one was full of so much verbal and emotional abuse that when it was over I went into a severe depression. Tack on a painful muscle disorder that only exists because no other diagnoses fit, and I was down for the count. 

Don’t you see you’re hurting everyone around you? Aren’t you tired of all this? Why don’t you just give up? Why continue on when no one can help you? 

For years these questions kept me running in circles until one day, a friend of mine (who stood up to my abuser for me on several occasions) suggested I try therapy again. What the heck. Why not?

Little did I know my life would change forever.

Before I continue, I’d like to answer the previous questions.
 
I was not hurting the people around me. They were hurting because I was hurting and they wanted me to feel better. No one is without fault.

Yes I was tired, exhausted even… but not too tired to remember that tomorrow, there may be rainbows, coloring fuzzy posters, cheese and crackers, being silly with my siblings, glitter, baking cookies, scary movies and popcorn, sunshine on my cheeks, flowers of all colors and sizes, hula hooping, bubbles, trees, dancing in socks on a hardwood floor, dogs playing at the park and coming over to say hello. These are just a few things that I was definitely not tired of and a huge motivation for me to NEVER GIVE UP. 

No one can help you. That’s a load of bull. I totally believed it though. 

Here is my advice to EVERYONE. Mental illness, drug/alcohol addiction, single parent, over achiever, college grad, happily married with or with out children.

Talk to someone. My therapist is the best medical decision I have ever made. What have I learned that is so profound you might ask? I learned that the only person that can fix me, is me. Who cares what other people say, or do. Why am I worrying about anyone other than myself? Here I was, so concerned about everything and everyone around me that I forgot to take care of myself. It seems so simple, yet I was completely blind to the fact that I was slowly dying inside. These things worth living for (as I mentioned above) I had forgotten my love for them and I remember my therapist asking me once, “what are some things that you enjoy alone? Think about them and do them. Who cares what you’re doing. You are enjoying you time.” That one question sparked a fire inside that now burns so brightly there’s no putting it out ever again.

Get physical. It is scientifically proven that exercise releases dopamine. Dopamine is your body’s natural happy juice. We as a society look at people in wheel chairs or with canes and think, “poor them” but we take for granted our own abilities. Now, I’m no ‘wake up at 5am to run in the rain’ kinda girl by any means, but being physical doesn’t mean “exercise”. To me, it means celebrate your body! Dance! Go for a walk in the woods, ride a bike, build a fire pit in your back yard, help a neighbor with a project, hula hoop. You will notice that you start making better decisions about the food you put into your body and the lifestyle changes that come naturally with both.

While thinking of all the things I have learned, I realized the single most comforting thing to me was the natural world. The earth has been here for so long. No matter what kind of day you’re having, the earth will continue to turn, grow, change, and tomorrow will come. When you feel like everything has let you down, even yourself, the earth will be right there to hold you up right under your feet. Trees are very good listeners. Despite hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, and their respective metaphors in your life, the earth says, “can’t stop, won’t stop” and busts out a rainbow. And so, in honor of the earth and yourself, next time you need a little support, bust out some bubbles! And maybe some glitter.

everyday is a challenge.

About a year ago, I went through the most challenging time of my life to
date. I lost everything that I had known to be consistent, happy,
comfortable. I kept thinking “what did I do to deserve this”, “I’ll do
anything to make things the way they were”. The way they were? Do I
really want things to be the way they were? That was the most
important question I needed to answer.

I read an article about a man who can swim in sub-zero water and his
body temperature remains constant. He does this by meditating and
breathing exercises. Amazing. Coincidentally, I was at a hair salon
and noticed a book in the waiting area. It had excerpts from other
books that were written by the Dalai Lama. I opened to the chapter
about breathing. The more I read the simple yet profound passages, the
more I applied these basic principles to my situation.

Clarity. I had been trying desperately to mend my emotional, physical,
spiritual wounds. But how could I do this with a troubled mind? I
needed a clear head and so my practice began. I started reading more
about breathing techniques and discovered that in that moment of
reading and practicing, I became peaceful. I wasn’t thinking about
what happened yesterday, earlier that day, or what might happen
tomorrow. Just that one breath, and that one paragraph telling me to
take a deep one in and hold for 3 seconds, release deeply, then
repeat. If I could have many of these moments through out the day,
then this is the “medicine” I’m looking for! I also read a chapter
from the Dalai Lama book every night before I went to bed. I thought,
“this guy has only kind, thoughtful, peaceful, intelligent things to
say about life. I should have things like this in my head when I go to
sleep.”

A clear head, a calm body, a peaceful existence. Every day is a
challenge, we can either rise to meet it, or don’t. You are the only
person who can change your life. One breath at a time.

-M-