<![CDATA[EQUANIMITY 4 LIFELONG LEARNING - Blog]]>Tue, 08 Jan 2019 22:01:41 -0700Weebly<![CDATA[December Personal Practice]]>Mon, 31 Dec 2018 07:00:00 GMThttp://equanimity4lifelonglearning.com/blog/december-personal-practiceArchetype: Martyr
Earth Magic: Winter Solstice (Reflection)
The Artist's Way (How): Think Magic
Mudra: Hakini Mudra - Gesture of the Goddess Hakini

Reflection

When I looked at this spread again, 12 months after having drawn it, I was in awe. Obviously to pick Winter Solstice for the month of December is pretty amazing in general. However, the Martyr in the context of a cancer diagnosis is surreal. And this Martyr is floating, heart first in the ethers on the power of love. If that wasn't enough, the mudra for this month has the core quality of integration, "All the facets of my being are integrated as a seamless unity." The I in the GRIT course I'd been writing stands for Integrity and Integration. 

And finally, the "how" - Think Magic from the Artist's way says, "Think magic. Think delight. Think fun. Do not think duty. Do not do what you should do - spiritual sit-ups like reading a dull but recommended critical text. Do what intrigues you, explore what interests you; think mystery, not mastery." In November's blog, I talked about the paradox of serving with a free and open heart leading to what I want only if I don't expect to go there. I feel like that's in this card as well. I must focus on the mystery and that may lead to mastery only if I don't expect it to. 

Moving into 2019

This reflective December has led me to understand that my focus for 2019 is on writing my daughter into existence with love, magic, and mystery. I can let go of expectation and shoulds, enoying the journey as the magical, mystery ride that it is and allowing the destination to take care of itself. 
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<![CDATA[November Personal Practice]]>Fri, 30 Nov 2018 07:00:00 GMThttp://equanimity4lifelonglearning.com/blog/november-personal-practiceArchetype: Servant
Earth Magic: Dragonfly (Emergence)
How (Yoga): Camel Pose
​Mudra: Gupta Mudra - Gesture of the Inner Secret

Confession

I'm trying to recreate November from the perspective of January. I feel like I can't move forward to do my reading for 2019 until 2018 is complete. As I give myself permission to honestly write these words, though, I realize how ridiculous it is. I've already moved forward. That's how time works. It is 2019. It doesn't matter what my excuse is or why I got behind on these blogs. I did. Life happens - holidays, winter, yadda yadda yadda... and it's all okay. It's okay. 

Now to move on to why I may want to complete this blog. I'm genuinely curious about this process and how November led in to December. Toward the end of November, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. And December's reading is wildly appropriate for processing that diagnosis. 

So, I'm releasing my blame and shame around not keeping up with the blog and allowing it to be whatever it is in my memory from the perspective of January. 

Reconstructing November


According to Facebook:
  • Art with Heart back on the walls
  • Meditation based on oracle card reading for Mindful Meditation Class
  • Mid-term Elections - results were mixed and some elections were too close to call - patience and perseverance through uncertainty
  • movies that influenced my life challenge - that I graciously allowed myself to do at my own pace, taking much longer than 10 days to complete
  • Online curriculum team featured in a blog
  • Winter started - it was cold
  • tried out different hair colors and styles on my bitmoji
  • An extended family member, who I didn't really know very well in life, appears to have committed suicide by disappearing into the desert. 
  • veteran's day - thinking I want to hike Piestewa Peak next year
  • Stan Lee passed away - I realized I subconsciously believed he was immortal
  • Nephew graduates from officer training at quantico
  • video & meditation about the relationship between strength, flexibility, & stability in resilience
  • Aunt & Cousins visit for Thanksgiving and we visit Mom & Dad's memorial site
  • Watched Boy Erased with boss & respected higher-up as friends
  • Realize the hug I've shared with Mathina since yoga teacher training is the exact hug being described in Bouncing Back by Linda Graham. 
  • Honey has a disc problem in her neck

Reflecting on the Cards

Let's start with the Mudra - Gupta Mudra. It's core quality is protection from our limiting beliefs. "As limiting beliefs are released, I rest in the sanctuary of my inner being." I don't remember any specific limiting beliefs that were released in November; however, I think this practice laid the groundwork for the releasing I've been doing as a result of this cancer diagnosis. It seems like every time I turn around I'm facing another belief and releasing it. Just yesterday I was confronted with a belief that I have to be a good girl and compliant patient even if it means not speaking up about my pain. I'm happy to say I started speaking up, even though it's weird and uncomfortable. And now that I think about it... much of the work I was doing in November was about deciding to put The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal in a course. This book completely releases limiting beliefs around stress. I looked in my e-mails and 11/15 was when I sent an e-mail saying how much I love this book. 

Camel Pose "I release all worry and doubt. My heart is filled with calm faith and knowing." Well, I didn't do camel pose. My frozen shoulder was still keeping me from practicing fully. However, I did do heart openers to the extent I could, in an attempt to loosen up that shoulder. And I started receiving massage in November, hoping to open up enough to practice yoga more fully. I think, in retrospect, this card was more about releasing worry and doubt. And the more I saw the synchronicity in life in November, the more my heart filled with calm faith and knowing. My work on the GRIT course was providing insights for Friday's Mindful Meditation and I was nearly done with the GRIT course when I got the cancer diagnosis. Week 3 encourages students to reach out in times of stress, using the tend-and-befriend stress response to connect and release oxytocin. So even though I was afraid to share my diagnosis, I did. And I asked for hugs for a hit of oxytocin.

The Dragonfly: Emergence: Basically, this card is saying that I am in an intense process of emergence into the next stage of my life. It says to stop trying to deny who I am. Well, as I was coming to terms with this diagnosis, I had a dream about my daughter who was never conceived. I had promised her about a year ago that I would write her into existence and I haven't yet. For me, this card is about creating her. And that very morning I began to write her story. The first card I drew for 2019 seemed to be about this process. 

Servant: Delight in serving others with a free and loving heart. I do remember having the thought at the beginning of November that serving others with a free and open heart can lead to the things I want in my life, paradoxically, only if I don't expect serving to lead there. Serving puts me in the flow and ten surprisingly the flow takes me where I wanted to go. I think this also applies to writing my daughter's story. I have to do it for her, not with thoughts of publishing or being an author. If I write for her with a free and loving heart, those other things may come as a result. However, each day when I sit down and write, I need to be focussed solely on her and my love for her. 
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<![CDATA[October Personal Practice]]>Wed, 31 Oct 2018 07:00:00 GMThttp://equanimity4lifelonglearning.com/blog/october-personal-practiceHigher Self Archetype: Midas/Miser
Sacred Geometry (How): Discernment
Yoga (Action): Boat Pose
Mudra: Chaturmukham Mudra - Gesture of Four Faces

Hindsight Practice

Oh, Time, you strange relative measurement of life. I do not know where October went. Luckily, Facebook and Google Photos can let me know what I've done this month and hopefully some of it will be related to this card spread. And if it isn't, I can forgive myself. I haven't even learned my mudra for October. And I definitely didn't do a boat pose. Oh, wait... I did do this mudra this month. 

Let me refresh my memory...

October 31: Last day of teaching my first class on campus at SWIHA - it was an 8 week course, one day a week. 
October 30: mailed in my early voting ballot
October 28:  9.3 mile Fall Colors hike in Sedona.
October 25: Revising orientation at work
October 25: Mindful Meditation at SOY: Turning walls into Connection
October 15, 16, 19, 21, 23: Coached Yoga Practicums at SOY
October 21: Holistic Health Gathering at work
October 17: started 10-day movie challenge on FB and changed the instructions so that I could take as long as I wanted and not feel like I was losing at Facebook. 
October 12-24: working on Sacral Chakra quilt
October 12: started moving into new office at work
October 5: witnessed the birth of a grand-nephew 
October 2, 13: rained so much from the remnants of a hurricane that we ended up having wettest October on record.

​While I did not actually do boat pose this month, I did imagine doing boat pose several times. And for me boat pose is about the solar plexus chakra, the power center, the core, and it is also about lifting the heart. This month's mudra is also about the solar plexus. This ball of energy is held in front of the abdomen. 

And Midas - entrepreneurship and creativity. Well, I definitely tapped into my creativity this month through photography of the fall colors hike and quilting the sacral chakra. 

I think there's more for me here and I trust that I'll have the opportunity to continue working on my solar plexus chakra and my entrepreneurial and creative abilities. 

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<![CDATA[September Personal Practice]]>Sun, 30 Sep 2018 07:00:00 GMThttp://equanimity4lifelonglearning.com/blog/september-personal-practiceArchetype: Heroine
Sacred Geometry (How): Miracle
Messages from the Mat (Action): Child's Pose - Balasana
​Mudra: Mani Ratna Mudra - Gesture of the Precious Jewel

Development

I feel like this month may be a parallel practice. The above cards are applicable to my personal journey as well as the journey of the characters in my imagination. So, I will be practicing the writing habits I developed for August's blog as well as a practice for my health.

The Heroine has a "passion for a journey of personal empowerment." She "confronts increasingly difficult obstacles to awaken an inner spiritual power and achieve a heroic vision that ultimately serves the tribe."

The Miracle card invites me to "trust in the unlimited possibilities the Universe can provide" and to recognize the miracles in my life and all around me. 

Child's pose affirms, "I let go, surrender and trust. I accept all as it is in this present moment."

And the mudra's core quality is global healing. "Bathed in the crystal light of healing, I experience the sacred wholeness of my being."

For my writing practice, this seems fairly obvious. I will continue to develop my habits of writing and I need to surrender and trust the process. My heroine will experience her journey and the miracle will be that I will have been an instrument of creation.

For my physical practice, I am reading The Medical Medium and will adhere to the 28 day program. I'm walking each morning to the store to pick up celery for juicing. I'll eat fruit when I'm feeling the need for more brain food. And I'm doing the rehab exercises for my frozen shoulder.

Reflection

Personal growth doesn't always fit neatly into 30 days. Perhaps that is what I needed to surrender to. Life is messy and we often need to be torn apart in order to grow; the phoenix burns before it rises. 

I haven't written. I have started and interrupted my medical medium cleanse at least 3 times. And I have allowed myself to wallow in the grief of the travesty of the supreme court confirmation hearings. I've surrendered to trains of thought such as, "If Atwood's Gilead turns out to be prophetic, who would I want to be?" I've asked myself this question a lot during difficult situations in my life - situations with no clear right or wrong answer. "Who do I want to be in this situation?" While identifying with the main character is almost always my first reaction, the truth is I am much too old to be a handmaiden. By the time they broke my spirit, I'd be approaching menopause. Would I be a Martha? Would I live out in the woods on the border between Canada and Gilead? Could I be a part of the resistance, a member of MayDay?

One of the fears I have about writing fiction is the downward spiral into madness. What if I immerse myself in an imaginary world and I never come back out? What if I am powerful beyond measure? If I am, I could write myself back out whenever I chose. Even in my dreams, I have this power. For as long as I can remember, I've had the ability to "change the channel" on my dreams - rolling over to rework the ending or choose another story. What if becoming lost in a world of my own creation is much more empowering than being lost in despair within reality. 

p.s. this mudra was a big help whenever I felt overwhelmed by grief
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<![CDATA[August Practice]]>Fri, 31 Aug 2018 07:00:00 GMThttp://equanimity4lifelonglearning.com/blog/august-practiceArchetype: Blank/Storyteller
Sacred Geometry (How): Communication
Artist (Action): Spiritual Experience
Mudra: Uttarabodhi Mudra – gesture of highest wisdom 

Reflection

I've been doing this monthly personal development practice for eight months now, and I have felt the most resistance to this month. And surprisingly enough, this is the one I want the most. It is August 26th and I've contemplated and thought and haven't actually designed nor implemented a practice yet. For that reason, I'll reflect first and then write about the development.

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a writer. I even chose my college major, Anthropology, thinking that it would be a good background in research for a writer to have. I had the underlying belief that in order to be a writer, I must first experience life. I had no expectation of how much experience was enough, though. So, when I saw this card, The Storyteller, come up in my 2018 reading, I was excited. Finally, I will become a writer. This is my chance. However, the first card was actually blank, which I interpreted as meaning I had a choice. I could choose to be a storyteller in August. That left a lot of room for overwhelming doubt. 

What if I'm not good enough? What if no one wants to read what I want to say? What if I am really good and get pigeonholed and readers don't want to read another style of book from me? What if... what if... what if.

The truth is that writers are writers because they write. I know this in an intellectual way. I know that I need to develop a habit. That would be my yoga for August - daily writing. I'll get up in the morning and I'll write. I wouldn't even need to get up any earlier. I can just skip the social media mindless scrolling and get right to the writing. And yet, as the month progressed, I slept in later. I played this game on my phone that my grand-nephew downloaded. I mindlessly scrolled even more. I was resisting. 

This was my chance and I was wasting it. And yet, knowing that was not moving me from my bed. I realized this was my edge. My identity as a future writer needed to be dismantled. A future identity is a fantasy that can be oh so comforting. This fantasy was no different from my "when I win the lottery," "Walk from Patagonia to Alaska," and "Disney World wedding" fantasies I've had at other times in my life. The difference is that with one simple habit change, this future identity could be real. 

So my yoga this month was studying this resistance. And I'm not saying I've got it completely figured out in one month. However, I am here, on the morning of September 11th at this point, writing. My resistance has a lot to do with my desire to write something momentous and profound - overwhelming expectations. Mostly, though, I want to be heard. When someone picks up a book, they are choosing to listen to the author. My fear was that I would hear reviews and social media rants that sound too much like the many times loved ones have ended conversations with the phrase, "you think too much." While I'm sure there will be bad reviews and social media trolls. I can move forward, though, knowing they choose to pick up the book and  I think the exact right amount for me. 

Development

The next step is the development of the habits of writing. 
  1. Communing with my muse. Both the Communication card and the Uttarabodhi Mudra discuss binging the heart and throat chakra together in a loving expression of truth. In this way I'm the instrument that spirit or my muse communicates through. Elizabeth Gilbert talks about the detachment this creates in her book Big Magic. Through detachment, I can take bad reviews, social media trolls, and good intentions of loved ones less personally. The first two habits are meditation and detachment.
  2. Writing exercise. Write about whatever comes up for me in meditation. It doesn't have to be about a current writing project. Just write and see where it goes. 
  3. Intentional Distraction. Rather than distracting myself in others' stories on TV, social media,or books. I can distract myself in my imagination. When I tried to tell myself this month, I uncovered a fear that I might get lost in my imagination. As I acknowledged this fear, I realized that it is unfounded. I have the tools to stay grounded while I immerse myself in an imaginary world.
  4. Write. Just write. The Artist card, Spiritual Experience, states, "Creativity is an experience, a spiritual experience. It does not matter which way you think of it: creativity leading to spirituality or spirituality leading to creativity. In fact, I do not make a distinction between the two." ~ Julia Cameron
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<![CDATA[July Practice]]>Tue, 31 Jul 2018 07:00:00 GMThttp://equanimity4lifelonglearning.com/blog/july-practiceHigher Self Archetype: Wild/Vampire
Sacred Geometry (How): Soul Time
Past Life (Action): Medicine Man or Woman
Mudra: Dirgha Svara Mudra - gesture of expanded breath

Development


​This was an interesting draw of the cards. I originally drew a wild card, which I interpreted to mean that my choices this month determine whether or not the next card, the Vampire, comes to pass. In preparation for this struggle, I read Dodging Energy Vampires by Christiane Northrup, M.D. The book is written from the perspective that assumes the reader is an empath and that other people are the energy vampires. And I had to ask, "What if I'm the vampire?"

Last month I examined ways that I might overwhelm others with my enthusiasm and unrequested generosity. This month I'll examine how I'm depleting my own energy. No. I almost forgot about the wild card. The vampire card makes me "aware that someone or something is draining [my] life force." I choose to focus on the unlimited energy available to me through my connection to source.

"The frequency of Soul Time asks us to allow the possibility of a new reality to emerge - one that embraces the concept that, while the corporeal body is mortal, the soul is timeless, limitless, and infinite." This card is my how. And the action card I drew is from the Past Life oracle deck by Doreen Virtue and Brian L. Weiss, M.D. The card is Medicine Man or Woman. It asks me to bring forward knowledge from my past life as a healer.

I am working on upleveling hypnotherapy courses for my day job. I feel like my practice this month is using self-hypnosis to connect to my akashic record and tap into the power of my past lives, specifically my lifetime as a healer. And I will use that wisdom to establish a fount of limitless energy and life force. The opportunity of the wild card is to create a situation where I am neither a vampire, sustaining myself on the energy of others, nor one who is drained by a vampire. 

The Dirgha Svara Mudra invites me to "attune more deeply to my breathing, the life fore revitalizes my entire being." It's core quality is the "expansion of life force energy."

Reflection

It is August 8th and I still haven't completed my reflection around this month. I was traveling with family and friends. The Medicine Man and Woman could represent our hosts - who are both healers. There was a trance and a conversation about our parents who have passed on - soul time. I did manage to conserve my energy, while traveling and living in close quarters. As an introvert, I have never managed to do this in the past. My outbursts would then drain others' energies. I wonder if that is the lesson - by protecting my boundaries and conserving my energies, I'm actually protecting others from being vampired by me. Yes.  

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<![CDATA[June Personal Practice]]>Sat, 30 Jun 2018 07:00:00 GMThttp://equanimity4lifelonglearning.com/blog/june-personal-practiceHigher Self Archetype: Prince
Bird (How): Pheasant
Artist (Action): No Fear
Mudra: Ananta Mudra - gesture of infinity

Development

I have to laugh out loud because all year I've thought that this Prince card meant that I was going to fall in love and I really, really was not about falling in love. And yet, I knew I should do the work healing my heart in preparation for whatever June had in store for me. 

However, as I re-read these cards from a place of momentum, they indicate abundance. And the healing I was doing was much deeper than a romance-related broken heart.

In the last days of May, I came face to face with many truths in the form of this blog, Why Teachers Are Walking Out. I had had many of these thoughts. I had even had conversations with other female teachers about these experiences. However, there was always a part of me that assumed I was exaggerating or overreacting or just letting off steam. Somehow reading these words from a man had the power to validate my experience. And that's another truth smack to the solar plexus and the heart. All these years of just accepting that my skills and gifts would not be valued and would not be seen... all these years of making it work and doing what was right and necessary... it was a manipulation, a systemic twisting of my nurturing nature. 

So, the Prince's "romantic charm and potential for power" is so much broader and deeper than one romantic relationship. It's systemic. "See, behind each one of these expectations lies the unspoken threat– 'Don’t you love your kids?'"

The light attribute of the prince is preparing for leadership with compassion, fairness, compassion and wisdom. And part of that for me is releasing this expectation that if I truly love my kids (clients, employees, colleagues, or community), I'll just do what I need to do to make it work. 

The Pheasant's affirmation is "I acknowledge the overlighting consciousness of the pheasant in helping me to see my attributes and glory in them." At the beginning of the year, this seemed to support the romance interpretation. However, now I see there is so much more nuance in this card. Pheasants are associated with royalty. This line, "You are connecting with your own power and authority now." And by connecting to my humanness last month, I've harnessed the "shadow aspect of [my] nature...; it no longer undermines [my] progression towards a ful connection with [my] own source of power."

​The artist's card this month is titled "No Fear," and then goes on to describe jealousy as a mask for fear.  Again, I originally thought of jealousy in the context of romance. In my current context, though, this jealousy is the fear of not being valued. If I demand or even merely ask to receive an energy exchange matching my worth, will others agree with my estimation of my worth? Maybe they don't value the same things I value. Maybe the work I've been doing is actually counterproductive to their goals. Maybe I'm the only person who places value on the services I provide. Perhaps I've been providing my service to people who don't need or want it. These are my fears.  

Reflection

Enthusiasm is my charm. I have come to understand this month that I will dive head first into a project with so much enthusiasm. And it appears that I have done an awe-inspiring amount of work, even if it was just an hour of pure inspiration download. And then other stakeholders are either charmed by my passion and enthusiasm and agree without consideration or they agree to my suggestions just because they don't want to let all my hard work go to waste - they assume I'm attached to the outcome after so much work. Then I end up doing a lot of work that was never wanted or needed in the first place.

I'm not sure I could change my process if I wanted to. I will always dive in enthusiastic and brainstorm while inspiration is fresh. However, I can use discernment to choose when and how to share the results of that process with other stakeholders. 

I also need an outlet for my creative expression that is fully mine. Through this avenue, I can channel my full-energy enthusiasm. I won't need to give 150% to a job that really only wants, pays for, or values 50% of my contribution. That was a hard pill to swallow this month. My giving more than is asked of me is not a bonus. It is not a gift. It is a burden to others. I thought I was being generous and that the extra would be appreciated and eventually awarded. The truth is that the extra creates more work for others down the line. They have to undo what I've done. 

This realization has been a pretty heavy one. I've been experiencing a lot of grief this month as a result. Which is leading into July. Vampire - depletion, something is draining my life force. And I'm guessing it is me. Yikes. A year of intuitive personal growth is not for the faint of heart. 
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<![CDATA[May Practice]]>Thu, 31 May 2018 07:00:00 GMThttp://equanimity4lifelonglearning.com/blog/may-practiceHigher Self: Father
How: Nightingale
Action: Spirituality
Mudra: Vishuddha Mudra

Development

It's hard to imagine the part of my Self that is the archetype of the father. Gender roles can be blinding, even when we're clearly talking about metaphors. I turn to the shadow attributes of this card: "Dictatorial control. Abuse of authority." Okay, I can imagine myself doing the work to avoid abusing authority. The light attributes are a "talent for creating and supporting life. Positive guiding light within a tribal unit." That is a lot of responsibility for my little s self. Which is undoubtedly why the rest of the reading is about surrendering to Spirit. 

"The nightingale sings to us of the reality behind the illusion of life. The nightingale reminds us that while we think we suffer and weep, our universe is singing all the time. If we could but tune into that song, our suffering would just evaporate... You have a choice today: hold onto your attachment to this particular form of things, or let go, and discover that - instead of losing something - you have gained an expanded possibility."

The Spirituality card from The Artist's Way, reminds me to continue last month's work with connection. "Spirituality has often been misused as a route to an unloving solitude, a stance where we proclaim ourselves above our human nature. This spiritual superiority is really only one more form of denial." 

So, in essence, I can avoid abuse of authority and be a guiding light, if I surrender to Spirit through my humanness, as it is in my role as a human that I am connected to the All in this moment.

The Vishuddha Mudra is the gesture of purification. It is helpful for releasing tension in the neck and vocal cords and awakening the intuition. If I am meant to be a guiding light, I will need to speak. 

Reflection

This month I showed up in my humanness and connected with divinity.

Showing UP:
I showed up this month and breathed through my imperfection. With my partner in presence, Jennifer, I said an enthusiastic yes to a Mindful Meditation Studio Class at Spirit of Yoga. I facilitated a Love Talk on privilege and definitely breathed through my imperfection on that one. I did my first Facebook Live. I also gave a bit of tough love to someone who needed a bit of encouragement to face some fears. I'm normally not a tough love person.

Seeing Others:
In allowing myself to be seen, I also have the opportunity to truly see others. I coached several yoga teacher training practicums this month and realized what a privilege it is and how much I love this work. In observing others take that giant leap of faith by stepping into the seat of the teacher, I see so much. I'm not even sure I can describe or explain it. I just know it is beautiful experience. I feel trusted and blessed and honored to be a witness.

Spirituality in Humanity:
I also had the opportunity to create a coaching program aligned with Ramadan [long pause where I don't say all the awesome things I'm thinking because of client confidentiality.] And of course, my google searches were noted by the data collectors. In my news feed was a video of a woman discussing being period shamed during Ramadan. Talk about being human in your spirituality. Women are excused from fasting while pregnant, breast-feeding, or menstruating. This makes a lot of sense, from a purely biological perspective. However, the shame and stigma around menstruation in most cultures just makes everything weird. When I look for the divinity, the spirituality, within the humanity of menstruation, though, I wonder if women will ever be able to proudly display to the world the evidence of their fertility. Will there come a day that a muslim woman eating during Ramadan, a blood stain, a tampon purchase, or hot water bottle at work will get a nod of, "hey, goddess, I see you cleaning out your uterus and preparing for another cycle of potential creation." 

Inner Child VS Adulting:
I did not suppress my inner child this month, no matter how silly I might appear. One of the pieces of advice from the WomanSpeak Festival last month was to imagine a tail of any animal species extending from your tailbone. It automatically straightens your posture and distracts you from your nervousness. It even gives me a little sassy attitude like I've got a secret and no one else can see my lion tail. So, this month I actually bought a clip-on tail and lion ears. And I wore them to work. 

I also bought a mermaid tail for myself and my grand-niece. I realized afterwards that my niece is much too young for the mermaid tail as you have to be able to swim underwater with a dolphin kick. I had just bought one for her to justify getting one for myself. Hopefully that will be the last time I hide my inner child behind actual children, lol. I will play if I want to play. 

Ironically, by not fighting the inner child, I also made some progress with adulting this month. I've cleaned the pool as a mermaid. I spilled a giant bucket of celery water out of the fridge and my sister and I ended up using it to mop. It was fun. I was later able to stick with a couple of other spills until they were completely clean, without too much negative self-talk.

By showing up in my full humanness, I have expanded my possibilities and I integrate my Father archetype and show up as a guiding light.
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<![CDATA[Engage Your Core]]>Sat, 19 May 2018 22:02:13 GMThttp://equanimity4lifelonglearning.com/blog/engage-your-coreEngage without striving; flow without force.
Engage your core.

For many of us this is a pretty loaded request. It sounds an awful lot like “suck in your gut,” which sounds a lot like your belly is not allowed to be here in this space. For me, the act of sucking in my gut is violent. It feels like my organs are being stifled, “Shhhh…. Stay quiet and take up as little space as possible until bed time, then you can be organs.” 

When I stopped caring about the belly-should-brigade, I just let it all hang out… I had organs floating around 10 feet in front of me, leading the way as I walked.   

Through the practice of yoga, though, I’ve discovered that engaging the core is more subtle, intentional, and loving. It’s not about the belly and the organs, it’s about the spine.  When we engage the core, it’s an invitation to support the spine with love.  

​“Suck in your gut” is the Elmyra version of love.  

Picture
Engage your core is the kind of love in the anonymous quote “When you like a flower, you pluck it. When you love a flower, you water it.” 

Engage the core just enough to support the spine. There is still room in the abdomen to breathe and for the organs to do their thing. Imagine the spine is a baby just learning to sit up.  You want the baby to learn to sit up, so you’re not going to hold on to her tightly. However, you hold your hands so close so that if she topples, you’ve got her. You might even provide a soft cushion for support. 

​Experiment with the differences between these experiences in the body. Pay attention to how each feels. 

First suck in your gut in the way that you normally would. Do you have room to breathe? Do you feel relaxed or anxious? Does this feel sustainable? Perhaps you've been engaging all along.

Next relax your core completely. Does your spine feel supported? Do you feel like you can do what needs to be done safely or do you feel a bit disjointed or untethered? Do your organs feel like they have room to do their work? 

Now move between these two extremes like a pendulum. Engaging the core a little at a time, checking in with your breath, feelings, and organs. The goal is to support the spine while remaining pliable in the abdomen for breath and digestion.

This is engagement without striving, flow without force. 

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<![CDATA[April Practice]]>Mon, 30 Apr 2018 07:00:00 GMThttp://equanimity4lifelonglearning.com/blog/april-practiceArchetype: Addict
Bird: Phoenix
Artist's Way: Criticism
​Mudra: Kurma Mudra
​Clarification Cards: The Curse, The Drum, The Crow, The Eagle

Development

I find it very interesting that I'm not as intimidated or afraid of this month as I would've been at the end of 2017. Each monthly practice of 2018 has built on the last and I feel prepared and even a little excited to confront my addictions.

At the end of his viral TED talk, Johann Hari says, "The opposite of addiction is not sobriety; it's human connection." Shame and disconnection often lead to more addictive behavior. Every time I've focussed on eliminating my behaviors, I've just spiraled further into the behavior. However, when I focus on the benefits of the replacement behavior, I have a bit more success.

Hari described an experiment where rats who had a stimulating environment, friends, and mates chose water over heroin-laced water. He transferred that understanding to humans, saying that the audience could be drinking vodka and yet they're choosing to drink water. He attributed this choice to having "bonds and connections [they] want to be present for."

As I confront my addictive behaviors this month, I'll ask myself what part of this situation do I want to be present for and connected with? Yes, a part of me is wanting to escape and check out from some aspect of the experience. That's why I mindlessly sugar up, shop, marathon television reruns, and pick at my skin. I have both tendencies within me: the desire to connect and the desire to withdraw. I'm choosing to seek and strengthen connections. I'm choosing to be fully present in my rat park.

The affirmation of the Phoenix in the Bird Cards is, "I ask the overlighting consciousness of the phoenix to help me transcend the destruction of my old support structures." On my April 2nd hike in the desert I kept seeing images of the cycle of life, death, and rebirth. The dead cacti were becoming one with the soil that fed the nearby living cacti. I experienced an overwhelming feeling of connection and simultaneous non-attachment. We are all connected and eternal and yet constantly changing form. This is the energy of the Phoenix.

I asked a new deck of cards for clarification. I drew three cards: The Curse, The Drum, and The Eagle. The Curse seems to connect my disconnection with karma from past lives and/or ancestral limiting beliefs. For me, that thought releases me from judgement. I need not be perfect and beyond reproach. I am but one expression of this struggle between disconnection and connection. I need not know the whys and the specifics. I just need to do the work along my journey in this present moment. The Drum can provide the rhythmic trance to keep me present in the moment. And The Eagle invites me to become my observer self during these moments of connection and disconnection. 

In this first week of April, The Spirit of Yoga issued a pose of the week challenge to practice Crow. Crow is a pose that takes equanimity of plank to the next level. How does one stay balanced when deliberately off-balance? Crow, Eagle, Phoenix... a lot of birds. A lot of opportunities to "be taught how to fly." The Crow card says it is the keeper of universal law of truth. It is about walking my talk and maintaining integrity between my word and my deed. Later this year I'll be teaching a mindfulness class. And to be in integrity with that work, I must release the last of these addictive, evasive, disconnecting behaviors. I choose to be present and connect with this existence and my fellow beings. 

In connecting, there is collaboration and co-creation. In order to collaborate, I must be able to receive criticism. Receiving criticism is also a practice of non-attachment and simultaneous engagement. 

The intention of the Kurma Mudra is to reduce sensory overload. Hari also discussed one of the crises of our culture - our replacement of human connection with stuff collection. When the sensory overload of our modern world overwhelms me, I create the gesture of the tortoise and breathe, resting inward, finding clarity and vitality.

Reflection

I started this month realizing that it's time to face my sugar addiction. I had just polished off a big bag of M&Ms. And today, May 2nd, I ate only one of a 3 pack of a healthy chocolate macaroon that I bought two days ago. I used to have this feeling of urgency, like I had to eat treats before they went bad. I couldn't let them go to waste. This has to be the past-life or ancestral limiting belief, probably related to the Great Depression or other times of lack. I can limit my contribution to food waste by not purchasing food in great quantities. I feel like I can enjoy healthy treats now without being attached to them. 

Over the course of the month, my screen time became less mindless and more intentional. There was less random sharing and more connecting with specific people. 

My focus on connecting also had some unintended consequences. I was able to release some limiting beliefs around money, specifically some resentment I had around paying my student loans (ageist fine print on teacher loan forgiveness conditions). That resentment had been addictive in its own way. 

Most of my yoga this month has been off the mat. I've been connecting and collaborating with friends, loved ones, and coworkers. And yet, when I needed to be in my body, my asana practice was there.
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