Category Archives: Off-the-Wall Musings

15
May

I resemble that remark…

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Off-the-Wall Musings
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I recently had to switch doctors since my regular doctor moved on. As my new doctor was doing the routine exam, she inquired if “that” has gotten worse at all. “That”, I asked? What do you mean by “that”? She meant my belly-button! I was a bit flabbergasted. I’ve had “that” for 52 years. It’s my belly button and no, it is NOT a hernia! I have to add that my belly button is not grotesquely “out”. It is a simple “outie” button. No, I’m NOT taking a photo!

A belly button hernia should not be confused with an ‘outie’ belly button, a perfectly normal physical feature. A herniated navel will protrude much more than an outie belly button, and it may be accompanied by pain and soreness, especially in adults.”

St Thomas Aquinas saw the navel as the “bodily metaphor for spiritual things.” The navel has been considered the “ultimate power point” in yoga and other oriental disciplines. Chi and vital breath is thought to “emerge” from the navel. Sigmund Freud thought the navel point was where a dream’s message and its psychic significance connected. My dreams were where I got the name for my business—Better Day Yoga. Hmmm, something to dwell upon for this “outie” belly-button’s significance!

Your belly-button’s significance-clincher, however, is the miraculous lotus, a symbol of creation, which sprung from Vishnu’s navel. Brahma, the creator himself, sits in the lotus “spinning endless universes out of his own sleep.” (Again the association with sleep, the navel and spirit/psychic inner world.)

If your belly-button has that much significance, wouldn’t you want it to be more than a mere indentation? Yes, 90% of you have an “innie” but 10% of us have an “outie”. I didn’t know that figure until I researched it for this blog, and frankly up until I did the research, I always thought mine was the “correct” version—I mean an “innie” doesn’t look like a button now does it? I guess I knew I was in the minority, but hey—perhaps I’m special that way.

(This post was originally posted about five years ago on a Prana Pages blog I shared with a colleague. That blog has been discontinued so I am reposting some of them as I have time.)

29
March

My dream tutorial

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I had the utmost pleasure of taking several workshops by Indu Arora at the Minneapolis Yoga Conference. I always learn so much whenever she’s the presenter! And everyone who follows her workshops feels the same way—we all talk about how much we love and adore her! We are all huge fans of this amazing woman!

Her “Ratricharya” workshop—10 steps of Ayurvedic Night Routine was excellent! One of the many things she suggested doing to prepare you for sleep is a Yoga Nidra practice (Yogic Sleep) at night and that includes a “Sankalpa” or intention/resolve of heart and mind. Your Sankalpa is made with a one-pointed resolve to focus on a specific goal and it’s meant to be a noble goal that could possibly serve as a lifetime goal. It’s not just for light-hearted goals.

Since I’m in between Level 1 and Level 2 of Indu’s Yoga Nidra training, I have been practicing Yoga Nidra as part of my studies. I decided to use my Sankalpa last night before bed as I drifted off to sleep. I’m looking for “my one thing”. What is it I’m called to do—the one thing that will move my business forward? How do I get unstuck?

Last night’s dreams were like a mini-tutorial on the status of my mind and steps I could take to become unstuck:

The overflowing bag of exquisite tacks

At one point I was in line preparing to purchase an overflowing bag of what appeared to be very ornate “tacks” with beveled tips that appeared to be solid silver. In the dream, I knew that these tacks were meant for a whole other purpose than I was intending them for. Their purpose was so exquisite that most would use only one or two of them and even engrave their names upon them (my “one thing”). That’s how very special and expensive they were. They were held in the highest esteem by those who used them for a very special occasion. And here I was purchasing an overflowing bag full!

As I awoke, I realized this is my usual “M.O.”—“If a little’s good, a LOT must be better!” Well it’s not. I don’t need to acquire any more skills. I don’t need to have one more tiddlywink or doo-dad to work with. Stop the madness! I also need to focus on an “exquisite”, one-pointed goal in my business and then break that down into my daily activities. What is it I want to “tack” onto the vision board of my life? I need to choose my “one thing” and put my thumbprint on it to make it uniquely mine—to engrave my name on it. I spread myself a bit thin and many days never get to the one thing I wanted to accomplish. And my business offerings might need to be pared down as well. Less is more. The shotgun approach never worked for anyone. While I innately knew this, my dream was reminding me it was something I urgently needed to attend to.

Not worried about the opinions of others

Next I was back at an old corporate job and was moving things around in my office. My office had just been moved and I was rearranging this and that, looking at my phone monitor to see that there were customer messages blinking at me that I had to attend to, clearing away papers into a file, etc. In the dream my boss and her boss were walking around in the area and I chose NOT to be concerned with what they may or may not think about my activity. I resisted the urge to jump on the phone and appear to be in the heat of making sales calls. I had a job I started to do and was going to finish it without feeling judged upon—at least that’s what I was attempting to tell myself. Worrying about other’s opinions has always been a thing for me. But in this dream I did pretty good sticking to the project I had already started. So glass half full. Perhaps the dream was saying, “You put on a good front, but the inadequate feeling is still there. Work on it!”

The obstacle that didn’t have to be there

Still in that office setting, I was having trouble getting my rolling office chair up to the desk. It kept bumping into an obstacle under the carpet that acted like a brake. Without the ability to get my chair where it needed to be, I couldn’t function. I pushed this way and that—No luck. I was getting frustrated but kept working around it trying to figure out what to do. Suddenly in the dream I realized the obstacle was from the previous old arrangement of furniture and all I needed to do was remove whatever that bump/obstacle was under the carpet. It no longer needed to be there and I wasn’t seeing that there was no need to keep it around.

“Doesn’t that sound just like me?” I thought as I awoke and analyzed my dream. Many of the obstacles to what I need to accomplish are unnecessary and remain from a past arrangement/condition/belief. I might go so far as to say that a good majority of the “obstacles” I experience are my thoughts about what I can or can’t do—my worthiness so to speak. I need to remove them. They are no longer necessary and are hindering me from my goal.

Many times when I’ve asked a question over and over just before I fall asleep, I’ll get some sort of response between sleep and awake. I’ve written about this before. It was how I named my business, Better Day Yoga, back in 2009 after I’d been teaching for over a year. It’s a fun memory. The messages come in a strange vernacular that always tells me exactly what I need to know in the most unique way that many times only I’d be able to interpret. Sometimes it’s like I’m reading headlines off a newsreel in my mind.

Last night’s “dream tutorial” highlighted areas I need to work on and the wisdom of the presentation has me in awe. In ancient civilizations, dreams were considered messages from the heavens and the shaman would share their dream messages around the campfire to an eager audience. I, too, consider my dream last night a message from the Universe; or perhaps, a kick in the pants to get busy! “Sweet dreams”.

 

 “Have you been half asleep, and have you heard voices? I’ve heard them calling my name….” ~ Kermit the Frog 

Indu and I after the workshop

 

20
December

Reindeer Magic

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Off-the-Wall Musings
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Two nights ago, my husband and I watched a Hallmark Christmas movie about Reindeer Lodge. Reindeers were hailed as a sign of true love. I’ve read they are also a sign of positive things coming into your life like new beginnings, good news, and even new love. They remind you that you have the ability to achieve whatever you want as long as you come from the heart. (Source:  http://dreamstop.com/reindeer-dream-symbol/ )

I’ve always found flying reindeer to be as magical as those depicted in so many Christmas films. We own two magical prints that we display during the Christmas season. This year the one entitled “Earth Magic” has fallen off the wall twice now….reread that. “Earth Magic has fallen to the earth” as if to say “I’m bringing magic to the earth this time of year”. The other one entitled “Caribou Moon” also fell once—probably around the time of the recent full moon now that I think about it. Why they fell isn’t as important as the fact that they fell. They make a stunning presence on our wall but this year they are making a statement I think we all need to hear.

Caribou Moon

Earth Magic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did you know that reindeer used to be plentiful further south across the world in ancient times and in the U.S. as far south as Nevada and Tennessee?  There’s more: “Throughout the grasslands of northern Mongolia and southern Siberia are planted hundreds of stone pillars, ranging from three to fifteen feet tall, with carvings that seem to show reindeer in flight. The stones have been dated to approximately 3000 years ago. The Reindeer and its association with the sun is an important element in Siberian Shamanism.

That is interesting on its own, but what’s even more intriguing is that, because of climate change, at the time these stones were carved, it had been a thousand years since actual reindeer lived in that local landscape. The people who carved these flying reindeer on the stone pillars had likely never seen a reindeer.” (Source: http://www.drummingthesoulawake.com/blog/reindeer-in-the-dna-of-the-land)

Flying reindeer are part of actual history? How cool is that?! I like to think they did see them or at least believed in the stories told of them by their ancestors. Who’s to say?

How much magic have we overlooked thinking we need facts? The solstice is tomorrow celebrating the darkness as we wait in anticipation for the return of the light. Be open to the magic this time of year. Look up! Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

22
August

What I did this summer. Remembering to walk the talk

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I subscribe to “The Sacred Science” blogs and received an email this morning reminding me of a synchronicity I’d already forgotten about. I believe we receive messages from the Universe all the time and that acknowledging those messages is what turns the spigot on for more of the same. So receiving this reminder email simply added to the synchronicity demanding to be heard, recognized, and celebrated. Just like a good friend that’s encouraged to share more personal stories when they see we are listening and are present for them, the Universe will quit sending messages if we aren’t noticing them. So please let this post be my way of saying to the Universe: “Thanks! I needed that!”

I often share a similar sentiment in my yoga classes that the more we listen to our body’s messages, the better our intuition becomes. There’s a wise suggestion known in yogic philosophy to listen to your body whisper so you don’t have to hear it scream. As you read on, know that I needed to relearn that lesson too.

I’ve been having some physical issues this summer, to put it mildly. Without going into a lot of boring details, let me just say that it’s my opinion I may be experiencing side effects of the hypothyroid medicine I’m on. There’s a long list of them. It wasn’t until I researched and found that one of the side effects is favoring a hip with a limping gait that I sort of lost it. My hip has been an issue for about as long as I’ve been diagnosed as hypothyroid. I hadn’t connected the two until recently learning that there’s importance in knowing the root cause of an auto-immune diagnosis so I’ve been analyzing it a lot. It’s all very intriguing.

I had cut back on some anti-inflammatory supplements to trim down my intake and then my side-effect symptoms starting appearing more prominently. So I might have been medicating the side effects with anti-inflammatories for awhile. Lately my hip had literally been giving out at times, causing my sacroiliac joint to be very unhappy from all the jarring, not to mention the hip pain. Thank God for my yoga practice. It has been and always will be my lifesaver in so many ways. It’s like an etch-a-sketch for what ails me.

My visit to the doctor only resulted in “normal” thyroid readings. I plan to see a functional medicine doctor soon to see if we can unravel the mystery.

I also decided to finally get a mammogram. It had been ten years since my last one—I know, I know. I consider myself very holistic so it was incompatible to me to have X-rays looking for cancer when X-rays are known to cause cancer. But since advancing age is also a cause of cancer, I decided to pull my head out of the proverbial sand and get a mammogram. They considered this a baseline since it had been so long and I was told more than once that to try to find my ten year old mammogram would probably not be worth the effort because of the typical file purging; and that even if I did find it, it would be too old to be helpful. So I left it at that.

They needed me to come back for a second mammogram because of suspicious micro-calcifications. And that mammogram was not enough to rule out cancer so they recommended a biopsy. Again I was told finding my old mammogram would not be helpful. The biopsy was done on a Friday morning and I had to wait until the following Tuesday, early PM, to hear back on the results. I had originally thought I should write about that ordeal and my blog title was to be “walking the talk”. But it felt too personal at the time. I needed some space.

I will say that I had a good long talk with myself, during the stressful four-day-wait for results, as I kept sliding into panic mode. I told myself, “If you can’t use the skills and wisdom you share with your students about handling stress, then what kind of yoga teacher/therapist are you?”

I am always reminding my students to take the time to regularly practice stress reducing activities like yoga, meditation, and breathwork so that they’re in their “back pocket” when they’re needed most. These routine practices are like old friends, ready to soothe. It’s only a breath practice and a silent meditation away. My daily personal yoga practice always gives me just what I need physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

When I arrived for my biopsy appointment, I explained to the receptionist that I might smell like sage as I had smudged myself earlier to keep the bad juju away. I also wore my protective hand /“hamsa” shirt to ward off the evil eye. I was laughing as I shared this with the receptionist which caused her to comment that she was so glad I did what I needed to take care of myself. She shared that most of the time people show up and they’re a basket case. She didn’t know I kind of was a basket case inside. Thank God for my sweet husband, Ed, who came along for support.

Four excruciatingly long days later, the doctor called to say the micro-calcifications were benign. There was a lot more detail than that but enough said. He recommended that I come back in for a follow up mammogram in six months since this was considered the “baseline”. I mentioned the ten year old mammogram and the comments his colleagues had shared more than once about not needing to find them. On the contrary, he was very interested to see them. Okay, sure. I’d try to remember where I had the mammogram ten years ago.

It took me all of maybe ten minutes to remember, call, and have the ten-year-old mammogram digitally sent to the doctor who did my biopsy. He called me within an hour to say “Good news! It looks like the micro-calcifications have been there since 2007!” He then added, “I sure wish we’d had these sooner because it would have saved us a lot of trouble.” In other words, had he had them, he would not have seen the need to do the biopsy in the first place. Well that was more than frustrating to hear. Yet and still, good news is good news and I was more relieved than words can say! My husband and I had a celebratory dinner out that night.

The summer still had more in store. Two weeks later, Ed and I went to the Polish Festival here in the Twin Cities. Last year we attended but there was no dancing to be had since Ed had fallen 15 feet only 14 weeks prior and he broke his left talus (foot) bone and right big toe. So this year was extra special as we danced our “dupas” off on the polka floor, making up for lost time. Was that smart considering my hip had been acting up? Probably not. But I will never turn down an opportunity to dance! This I know about me! (So much for listening to my body whisper, right? The thing is, my body was also screaming to dance the polka!)

It may have been a combo of bad shoes and a tender hip but I didn’t realize until the following day that I screwed up my right knee and my left peroneal tendon pretty bad. We even walked around after dancing without issue, so who knows. It was quite warm and we were so content to have come full circle from Ed’s fall the year before. Perhaps the festive atmosphere and our sheer joy numbed us to the after effects.

I couldn’t walk without pain at all the following day. I have not been able to walk without extreme pain in the left heel and a very spongey right knee going on the second week now. In case you’re wondering, except for some soreness for sure the next day, Ed appears to have been no worse for the wear! I must have been the one out of practice! Go figure!

Here’s where the synchronicity popped in—just by “coincidence” I only had to cancel one class in the next two weeks due to vacations having cancelled the others prior. And the one class I did have was a private client appointment so it required less props to carry into the location. Plus my husband drove me so he was there to help since my car was in the shop (oh, that’s another summer story!). The Universe somehow knew I would need the time off to rest, recoup, and heal.

It’s not in my nature to take time off no matter how bad I’m feeling—which brings me back to the yogic philosophy I mentioned earlier—listening to the body whisper so you don’t have to hear it scream. Apparently I needed to learn that lesson again. I realize I really should have taken the time to do less sooner. Remember I said I’d needed some space? Why didn’t I listen?

The whole breast mammogram, recall mammogram, biopsy, four-day-wait fiasco had taken more of a toll on my psyche than I cared to admit. We can’t just keep sweeping things under the carpet and expect to continue on our merry way without repercussions. I knew this deep down, but I didn’t listen. I really hadn’t walked the talk after all, at least not as well as I could have. Lesson learned.

I have to wonder if I’d taken some time to decompress after the mammogram results like I really wanted to perhaps my body would have been in a better state overall when I danced the polkas. The mind really is connected to the body. They are inseparable. So not only did the Universe pre-plan my much needed time off in my business schedule, it also gave me reason to sit still more than I had been due to the injury. Apparently I really needed to stay put. Maybe the next time I need to learn a lesson, the Universe won’t have to resort to bodily injury to get me to listen. One can only hope.

Photo taken just after our polkas! 
So content and happy to have come full circle

16
June

Anxiously awaiting your next visit

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Off-the-Wall Musings
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I’ve written about my mother-in-law receiving the gift of daily songs from her husband after he passed in 2003. She heard those song messages every day from 2003 to when she passed in 2015. In that post I wrote “I’ve heard it said that communicating after you’ve passed is not easy.”

Dream visits are a sweet, sacred gift and you KNOW it’s not just any dream when you really feel like you’ve had an actual visit with your loved one. You wake up knowing something special just occurred.

It was several months after my Dad passed in 2003 that I had such a visit. In the dream I remember hugging him knowing that he was passed and I was being blessed with this very special visit. I was overwhelmed with just how much I missed him. I missed every little thing about him—even the smell of the nape of his neck as we hugged and I buried my nose into the hair on the side of his neck. And THAT’S the comment I made to him in my dream: “I missed your hair!” He threw back his arms away from me and said incredulously: “You missed my hair?!” and I woke up.

I’m sure he was thinking—this visit was NOT easy and your first comment is “You missed my hair?!” I chuckled to myself after I woke up knowing this would be just how he’d react. And I sent a message out to the ethers knowing he’d “hear”: “Tata, (Polish endearment for “Dad”) you know how dreams are. I just missed you so much and you did smell good. You smelled just like I remembered and I so miss our hugs.”

Since then, I’ve only had maybe two dreams of my Dad. The last one was fairly recent. I sure hope their scarcity isn’t because of my misplaced comment about missing his hair on his first visit! Here it is:

My husband, Ed, and I were swinging outside on a big two-seater swing suspended by long, thick, light blue ribbons. There was a slight breeze. It must have been spring time because we were surrounded by all kinds of flowers in every shape and color. Beneath us was a carpet of dark, lush, green grass. Ed and I were sitting close and swinging with long, graceful strides back and forth. In the dream I felt so happy there with Ed and all was well with the world. It was then that I noticed Dad sitting above us on a balcony of sorts just watching. I immediately shouted out “I love you!” and he mouthed back with a smile “I love you too!” Then I woke up. I remembered Dad used to say he loved watching us all from a distance at get-togethers when the family played baseball or croquet, having fun. I smiled thinking he was enjoying watching Ed and I as we swing through life in love together.

Dreams of my Mom are even scarcer and she doesn’t talk. She just appears in the dream. It’s still quite a special feeling.

Knowing the rarity of these visits personally, I was in complete awe of the dream my husband received a couple of days ago. I encouraged him to write it down because it was definitely an auspicious, once-in-a-lifetime, sacred gift.

Ed’s “Family” Dream…

The place is a large, spacious castle-like great room—one about 50 feet by 50 feet or more with no particular wall coverings but the room feels important like you are there to meet the King or Queen.

I see four people in this room, almost as creating a square. My Dad is to my left only a few feet away from me, my Mom to my right about 30 feet away, smiling. She gives me a slight wave. Just beyond my Dad, about 30 feet away, is my Father-in Law. My Mother-in-Law is across the room from him on the right about 30 feet from Mom. They all look about 10 – 15 years younger than when they passed.

I step to Dad, cup my hand around his neck and draw him closer. I remember looking into his face and having a sudden sense of loss, missing them all so! I break down crying uncontrollably. The dream comes to an abrupt end. ~

I got goose-bumps hearing my husband retell the dream. I could see it affected him deeply. All four parents in the dream at one time! It was as if his Dad wanted him to know “yes this really IS heaven” by the presence of all of them there. There was no mistaking that. It warms my heart thinking they’re all together “up there” perhaps playing cards as we often joke. It’s a comforting thought.

As I wrote in my “Finding Zofia” post about my maternal grandmother: I believe everything’s a message. I believe if you are open to signs, you’ll receive them. I believe our souls never die and they watch over us always. Thanks for the visits Mom and Dad. We’re anxiously awaiting your next one.

08
May

A Tribute to LaVonne

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Newsletter, Off-the-Wall Musings
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I started teaching yoga about nine years ago. There are two yogis in particular, LaVonne and Bebe, who have been coming to my classes since that time. Needless to say I absolutely adore them! We’ve become great friends!

Last year I had the utmost honor to work with LaVonne one-on-one as she battled cancer for a second time in her life. This time it was terminal cancer. There was no cure. She was a breast cancer survivor, so this news hit her and her family quite hard but they rose to the occasion, not missing a beat on staying positive. Throughout our time together this past year, she continued to be the most optimistic person I know—such an inspiration!

Everyone wanted to be around her because she was always smiling, always happy, and always looking on the bright side of life. She treasured her family. Time with her grandkids was sacred. She welcomed a new grandchild into her life earlier this year. Her husband shared with me recently how much joy that brought her. It gave her the strength to continue her treatments.

I saw her as a private client for several months. We used gentle, restorative yoga; Yoga Nidra; hand mudras; visualization; meditation/mindfulness; aromatherapy; sound therapy (tingsha bells, chakra bowls, healing music, nature sounds); grounding stones to hold onto and to surround her; and Reiki therapy in which I heavily use prayer. We consulted books on healing cancer, practiced rituals using candles and affirmations—you name it.

Mostly it was my sincere wish that our work together would give her hope and put her in a “rest and relax”/parasympathetic nervous system mode—the only time your body is empowered to regenerate. And as Wayne Dwyer used to say “If it’s placebo, I’ll take two!” She liked that quote a lot. She was up for whatever I brought to our sessions and she always had a smile and a hug for me coming and going. The trust she placed in me humbled me. I treasured our time together. It was such an honor and blessing to be invited into her home and into her family’s life throughout this tender time.

LaVonne passed away surrounded by her loving family this past weekend. I can’t stop thinking about her. Her energy goes on. As I said in my last post, I believe our souls live forever. I have been deeply blessed by this lovely lady. I will hold her close the rest of my lifetime and always remember that smile.

LaVonne’s in the middle and Bebe is on the right in this New Year’s Eve 2016 photo

P.S. A sweet addendum: My sweet husband and I went to LaVonne’s visitation as well as her funeral services the next day. Both functions were literally packed with her adoring friends and family. At the visitation, we saw many, many lovely photos of her life. There were numerous family pictures, pictures from her large group of “church ladies”, pictures from her wedding album, pictures of many fun trips to Europe and elsewhere. My husband and I really enjoyed viewing these memories and visiting with her family.

As we drove home from the visitation, “The story of my life” by the group, One Direction, came on the radio. The story of my life….I knew LaVonne’s spirit would be talking with me. I just hadn’t expected it so soon! The next song, back to back, was “Dust in the Wind” by Kansas. My husband has always told me he would like this song played at his funeral so LaVonne had this special gift for my husband too. This would be just the special consideration she’d give to a visitor—playing their song so they knew it was for them. We both broke down crying. I could just picture her joy at watching my husband and I view her lovely photos—”these are the story of my life”, she’d say. And oh what a wonderful life it was.

“If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever.” 
~ David Ellsworth from The Serenity of Selfism

 

 

05
April

Delicate…but powerful!

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My husband and I just got back from a week-long vacation in Napa, CA; and we, uh, had a chance to visit just a few wineries while we were there…hiccup @#! One day we had a professional chauffeur, Rosanna of “Sip and Swirl”, drive us around—a service offered through the Candlelight Inn where we were staying. Mental note to self: Rosanna was retired and did this part-time, she shared that she gets invited to numerous events due to the nature of her job, and she appeared to be enjoying life! Having an escort was smart on so many levels! She knew places that weren’t on our radar and they turned out to be some of our favorite spots. She also had a lot of local trivia to share as we drove around.

Chándon (“Ch is pronounced as “sh” and the accent is on the second syllable) features sparkling wine, a.k.a. champagne. Lovely name, isn’t it? Rosanna started us out there first thing in the morning, because who doesn’t want bubbles to start the day? (I think I want them every day, but that’s another story!) Chándon has a gorgeous location with a lush landscape and beautiful Adirondack chairs in their outdoor seating area surrounded with “indigenous oak trees” for an amazing view. The tasting room has floor to ceiling windows so you had that amazing view wherever you went!

 

We also loved our wine professional, Karly. She was a hoot! She was not only fun, but everything she said about our tastings could have been put on a t-shirt I’d wear all day long! Seriously, she needs to be in their marketing department! My favorite was the title of this post: Delicate but powerful. Now couldn’t you just rock that t-shirt?!
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Another golden nugget quote she used was Sweet spice not heat spice. And then there was Approachable. She had so many, shall we say, words of wisdom? Well they got your attention and made you smile! We joked about needing to take her home with us and made plans to stop by on the following Monday as we were headed back home toward the airport. At least I hope she realized it was a joke…hmmm.

The last quote I’ll mention here may have been from uh…the next winery—heck it may have been the next day (we were having too much fun!), but it’s worth a mention: Always polished/Never dull.

“Delicate but powerful” is the one I’ve haven’t been able to get off my mind. I’d love to be referred to with that descriptor, wouldn’t you? I see a black t-shirt in my future, seriously. Chándon’s beautiful star logo (the star could be a “sparkley”) and tagline “let’s catch up” on the front and the quote in royal blue or hot pink on the back would look stunning, don’t you think? It could even be a polo shirt with a collar to make it a little classier. I tried to configure something online with just the quote. It wasn’t what I was looking for but it’s a start! I’m a bit obsessed.


I wonder if Chándon realizes how valuable Karly is. How she does what she does is magic. While many of the wineries had great service, with great presentations, Karly’s was exceptional in her delivery. I mean I’m not making imaginary t-shirts out of any of the other’s now am I? She hit the mark. This was not the norm at all the wineries we went to. Karly made our visit just that much more memorable. I guess you could say she was delicate…but powerful….It’ll stick with you now, won’t it?

 

I would love it if you would subscribe to my blog/newsletter. I don’t publish on a regular timetable so subscribing is a good way to make sure you don’t miss out on any amazing posts such as this one! (Poking fun at myself. 🙂 ) You’ll also be the first to receive updates, resources, and more. I’ll even give you a free gift! 🙂 Click on the “FREE Chakra-Balancing & Loving Kindness Meditation!” link in the right-hand column. Thanks! 

08
November

Soham: I am that. Słucham: I am listening.

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Newsletter, Off-the-Wall Musings
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You’ve probably figured out by now that I am very Polish! My parents were born there and my husband’s grandparents were born there too. I have always been extremely proud of my heritage.

Hearing any Slavic language pulls on my heart strings, especially Polish. This beautiful language enveloped me in my youth. Even though my parents did not teach me how to speak fluent Polish, I totally knew certain orders: Eat! Sleep! Come here! And I’ve always joked that I knew when to duck for cover. They spoke their native language frequently, especially when they didn’t want us to know what they were saying.

I was the youngest of five, so my parents had been in the United States ten years by the time I was born. Yet, to this day, I can still distinguish a Slavic accent even with those who have been in the States for a very long time. You never forget your mother’s voice. In fact, “new research suggests that babies begin to absorb language when they are inside the womb during the last 10 weeks of pregnancy—which is earlier than previously held. Newborns can actually tell the difference between their mother’s native tongue and foreign languages just hours after they are born.”

As a yoga teacher, I’ve also picked up various Sanskrit words. Sanskrit is said to induce a sound therapy. The pronunciation of Sanskrit affects the meridians of the tongue and stimulates the roof of the mouth where the hypothalamus resides—very important to major bodily functions such as body temperature, appetite, thirst, metabolism, circadian rhythms, physiological responses to stress, etc. The science of mantra repetition creates sound currents and the vibratory effects create a sound therapy manifesting health and healing. It is considered a sacred science.

Imagine my delight when I discovered that Slavic languages, such as Polish, are believed to have common ancestry with the Sanskrit language! Perhaps it’s just me, but I find comfort and more than a little joy in the similarities. “Joga” in Polish is pronounced as “yoga” in Sanskrit, but it doesn’t stop there. The Polish word, “mówisz”, for example, means “you speak” in English and sounds close to our English word “movie”. Doesn’t it make you smile that “a movie with a sound track” is our definition of “talkies”?

Similarities such as, Soham—which means “I am That” or “I am He” in Sanskrit—sounds very similar to  S?ucham in Polish—which means “I am listening”. The word “Koham” in Sanskrit—which means “Who am I?” is also very similar to the word “Kocham” in Polish means “I love”. We are love, aren’t we?

“When Soham applies to a person’s name, according to Vedic philosophy (ancient Indian scripture) it means identifying oneself with the universe or ultimate reality. Some say that when a child is born it cries Koham-Koham which means Who am I? That is when the universe replies back Soham. You are the same as I am.”
Source: 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soham_%28Sanskrit%29

Substituting the similarly pronounced Polish words and their meanings into the quote above translates to a beautiful message:

When “I’m listening” applies to a person’s name, it means identifying oneself with the universe or ultimate reality. When a child is born it cries “I love-I love” to which the universe replies “I am listening.”

We are meant to come into this world to love. When we do things with love, the Universe responds in kind. When we pursue a dream for the sole purpose of benefitting mankind in some way, the Universe listens.

When I discovered the common ancestry of the two languages and realized the similarly pronounced words, my heart just melted. I knew there was a reason I was so enamored with Sanskrit. Its similarity to Polish is undeniable. It seemed to be a sacred kind of kismet—my two loves colliding: the love of my Polish ancestry and the love of all things yoga. It was as if the Universe was saying my two loves have the same roots in my DNA: “You are the same as I am”.

Isn’t Language beautiful?  / Nie jest j?zyk jest pi?kny?

i-love-poland-2007Koham, Kocham,
(“Who am I?”, “I love.”)

Sandy Krzyzanowski
Better Day Yoga LLC

I used to share a blog with a colleague a couple of years ago. She has since removed that web page so I am “rescuing” some of my favorite stories here. Enjoy!

01
November

The Crucifix candelabra and the wooden boy

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Off-the-Wall Musings
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One of my yoga students is preparing to move after having lived in her beautiful home for, I believe she said, almost 45 years. She and her husband are preparing for their next amazing adventure together! Isn’t that how moving should feel? It’s been a joy to watch her meticulously organize and pack in preparation week by week. Five other amazing ladies, who have stolen my heart, make up the balance of the yogis in this weekly class held in the basement of her home.

In the process of cleaning out and packing, she accumulated an assortment of treasures in her three-season porch and invited us all to peruse her “Free Garage Sale”, as she worded it. This lady is one of the most generous, big-hearted human beings on the planet. I am truly blessed to have her and this whole amazing tribe of loving souls in my life. Did I mention I adore them?

Given her decorating style and taste, I knew that I would most likely find some pieces I had to have, but I had no idea of the treasures waiting to surprise me! She used to own a gift basket business so there were many items relating to that production, as well as gardening and floral décor.

And then it happened. There in the midst of a couple vases and a candle holder was a gorgeous, antique, standing Crucifix candelabra with silver-plate and a holy water font! She had picked up this stunning gem in France! I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. It literally oozed good energy like a magnet drawing me in. It was immediate attraction.

Here you see it as the centerpiece of our “mini-altar”. Its energy permeates the room.

Here you see it as the centerpiece of our “mini-altar”. Its energy permeates the room.

I knew I wanted it but thought I should ask my sweet husband’s opinion. I casually browsed the rest of her collection.

Then another animated treasure literally stopped me in my tracks. Sitting on the ledge in front of some silk flowers and an index card holder was a sweet, sweet wooden boy she lovingly referred to as “Geppetto”. She quickly added that she knows the story goes that Geppetto was the woodworker and Pinocchio was the wooden boy come to life, but Geppetto just seemed to fit for her. She found him in Germany and he pulled her heart strings too. I was completely smitten. Geppetto is decorated in red and green hand-painted attire. Now, anyone who knows me knows how much I LOVE Christmas!

I immediately pictured Geppetto exactly where I have placed him here. (Yes we started Christmas decorating this past weekend in the basement! We have to start early in time for our party, right?)

I immediately pictured Geppetto exactly where I have placed him here. (Yes we started Christmas decorating this past weekend in the basement! We have to start early in time for our party, right?)

I swear I heard the spirit of this sweet wooden boy whisper, “Look at me! Look at me!” It was a done deal, no turning back. Sure I would ask my husband’s opinion, but we’ve been married over 33 years. This man knows me. We are on the same page energetically. He’ll pick something up in a retail store and two seconds later, without knowing he’d touched it, I’ll always pick it up too. It’s freaky cool. We are often attracted to the same things. He loved it too, but I knew he would! Geppetto jumped into my arms (okay so maybe I picked him up), and that was all she wrote!

My sweet host was enjoying our extended visit after yoga class so much she asked if I wanted a cup of coffee as I “shopped”. You always feel like an honored guest at their house. She embraces you with her warm smile and genuine appreciation, making you feel like you’ve just been hugged—which, of course, she gifts freely at least a couple of times each visit.

There were a couple of other pieces that made their way home with me that day, but these two absolutely made my heart sing. I could barely contain myself! “My Tuesday gals”, as I often refer to them, threw a birthday party for me earlier that month—one of several precious moments we’ve shared that I will always hold close to my heart. It felt like my birthday all over again that day! I remember feeling a warm, fuzzy glow of contentment the rest of the day because of her hospitality. I treasure the memory. These gorgeous works of art from their home to ours will be a constant connection to a wonderful couple I am humbled and honored to call friend.

I think they both look quite content in their new places in our home. Don’t you?

Life is so very precious,

Sandy Krzyzanowski
BetterDayYoga.com

 

 

 

 

 

27
February

Welcome to “My Better Day” Weekly Musings!

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Newsletter, Off-the-Wall Musings
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Storytellers Creed has become my favorite creed to live by. It was given to me by my wonderful, and oh-so-supportive sister-in-law, Mary Ann Krzyzanowski. The Storytellers Creed is hanging on a wall in my “she-cave” providing daily inspiration:

“I believe imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more important than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.” ~ by Robert Fulghum

 

I’m moving to a weekly venue vs. bi-monthly since that obviously didn’t work for me last year. **Sigh**. I’ve also changed the headings a bit to spruce things up and add a little pizzazz and excitement to the mix. I hope you agree? Please let me know what you think. I would be honored to hear from you.

“My Better Day” is a weekly, rotating, heart-centered journal on:

  • tips to empower your personal yoga practice,
  • ways to bring the magic of yoga and meditation into your life,
  • a Chakrascope section exploring ways to work with your vital energy centers to revitalize and regenerate from the inside out
  • magical crystals, stones, talismans and other good juju (*new section for 2014!)
  • celebrating the Goddess within (*new section for 2014!)
  • whimsical, inspirational, and off-the-wall musings to invite magical elements into your life
  • delicious recipes from my good friend and excellent chef, Christine—and more!

Crack open the door to the magic awaiting inside. It’s always been there. Please visit often, as your spirit moves you to make your day a Better Day!  And please share!

Namasté,

Sandy Krzyzanowski

Founder, Better Day Yoga LLC

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” ~ Roald Dahl.

 

The Room Beneath the Tree

I’ve always had an affinity toward all things magical and totally agree with the opening quote: “Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” How about you? Have you ever wondered what instills this magic inside of you so much that it becomes innate?  Read on to hear the roots of my magical installment.

I remember my eight-year-old self riding my bicycle around with a Lego-made fairy house propped in my bicycle basket. Every fairy needs a home, right? I treasured shows like The Wizard of Oz, Cinderella, and The Borrowers. As an adult, I discovered Darby O’Gill and the Little People—a must-see this time of year with St. Patrick’s day fast approaching.

My March 2011 newsletter was my last installment on this magical, mystical, passionate subject. The time has come again. It’s long over-due if you ask me. This story has been on my periphery for some time now, begging to be shared. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did living it.

In that 2011 newsletter, I mentioned a favorite childhood book:

Similar to other children, I grew up with a fervent belief in all things magical. Houdini was one of my childhood heroes. My favorite childhood book was a book about elves, fairies and mermaids.  I think it was The Golden Books Treasury of Elves and Fairies or The Giant Golden Book of Elves and Fairies with assorted Pixies, Mermaids, Brownies, Witches, and Leprechauns by Jane Werner. Unfortunately, it didn’t survive my childhood. From the comments on Amazon for the second book mentioned, I have to believe the illustrator’s magical drawings affected more than just me as a child believing in magic.

One small mention of “the book” to my oldest sister and she went off on a tangent about the mermaids in the book. My special memory was a depiction of an elfin family beneath a tree. No space went unused. There was a loaf of bread stored in the crevice of one root, and others were used as furniture. I could get lost in that illustration and I did many times as a child.”

Well this past Fall I decided to finally go for it on Amazon and purchased what my best instinct/memory told me was the treasured childhood book. There were finally some used ones in Amazon at a price I could afford. A few years ago they were a couple of hundred dollars! From an array of various versions of Golden Books of Fairies and Elves, I chose the one with the blue cover.

I waited with anticipation for my beloved childhood book to come. Now keep in mind I knew what I was getting in the mail. I could barely open it quick enough I was so excited. The nano-second I saw the details on the cover up close and personal, my inner child let out a wistful gasp and my eyes started to tear up. With each page I turned, another and another squeal of excitement came out. “Oh! That one! I remember that one!” Hah! Yes! I remember him!” “Oh, yes! That one was really special!” And then the page came up: the elfin family beneath the tree….the tears flowed. I couldn’t quit crying. All of this happened literally within a matter of a few seconds as I quickly turned page after page. When I finally got to the mermaid story, I immediately remembered my sister’s fondness for this one and thought “of course—yes, yes of course! The mermaids!”

 

The room beneath the tree

 

While I had yearned for this book for a long time, I could not have predicted this particular reaction was buried deep inside. I knew I would enjoy it. I knew it was a special memory for me. But not for one iota of a second had I imagined I’d be moved so deeply and instantaneously upon viewing the illustrations. I was brought right back to my childhood in a split second as if on a literal time machine. It was as though I found a long, lost childhood friend and confidant. I had rediscovered the portal to my magical childhood kingdom.

I can only say as a child I must have spent literally hours getting lost within the pages of this treasured book. I intimately knew each detail and had committed to memory every minute character illustrated within its pages. They were all still there, buried in my memory, waiting for me to come back and play. They each still held a special spot within my heart. They had comforted me when I was sad and lonely and had filled me with awe and wonder so many times so long ago and they still dothis was the big surprise. This was the special treasure. This depth of emotion still amazes me.

For the next few days I’d sit down to slowly re-read, embrace, and relive these treasured stories. My husband would catch me crying profusely. One time he didn’t know I was reading. He only heard me sobbing and asked out loud from the other room if I was okay. Through tears I sobbed “he made her silver slippers…” and my voice trailed off.

Of course, I was referring to “Singeli’s Silver Slippers” translated from Swedish by Martha Inez Johnson. It’s a story of a poor, shoemaker who wanted only to provide shoes as beautiful as his beloved daughter, Singeli. So he chose to make them with silver-colored leather vs. the more frugal, common, wooden shoes. One night the fairies-of-fortune came to the shoemaker’s house and stroked the silver shoe leather Singeli’s father was crafting for his daughter, whispering: “Little slippers, Go only on bright roads, Only on good roads, Only on right roads.” And whispered to the sleeping Singeli “If you, dear child, Go astray, Silver slippers will vanish away.” The shoes then turned into real silver. I don’t want to ruin it for you.

I try to logically explain the emotion: Perhaps it was because I knew my grandfather was a shoemaker (my mom’s dad whom I’ve never met) that this story touched me so deeply, or perhaps it was because my own dad always made me feel this special and he is now passed. Re-reading the treasured stories re-awakened the hopeful child within still full of wonder and awe at the magic of it all. (I’m not certain she ever went to sleep, truth-be-told.) Most likely it was a culmination of all of the above that brought me to my knees with emotion. I could not quit crying.

Each story left me overwhelmed with heart-felt emotion. The Pixies’ Scarf by Alison Uttley tells a tale of a young boy who finds a pixies’ scarf while picking berries with his grandmother. He’s told adamantly by his grandmother to return the scarf, for surely the pixies will know he has it and come for it; but he keeps the scarf any way. The scarf imbues him with magical abilities to hear and understand all of wild life—the birds in the trees and the fish in the river—even the stones spoke. “Like a mirror on the ground” he could see wildlife below like the rabbits nestled in their homes. “The earth itself seemed to be whispering, and the stream answered back.” Of course, the pixies came to claim their scarf and the boy barters it for some pixie marbles made of “pixie rubies and emeralds” –“green as grass in April, blood-red, snow-white, and blue as the night sky”. He knew they contained magic and “would capture every other” marble.

And if you doubt the magic this book carries, please read on. Seconds after just completing this magical story, I was still in a mesmerized stupor when my husband says “Listen to this!” and he shares a story from his business magazine:  “A decades old plane crash, originating from India, has been found in the French Alps. They discovered a metal box believed to be on board the flight containing rubies, sapphires, and emeralds worth an estimated $332,000!”… Whoa!! Seriously? That’s the story he decides to share at that exact moment? Goose bumps! Does anyone reading this doubt that this book finding its way back to me was magically inclined? Thump on the head from the wee folk!

Fast forward a few weeks and I decide to order a couple more used books as Christmas presents for my siblings. My oldest sister has no idea what I am giving her. We aren’t even supposed to exchange presents. Only the younger members of the family get the gifts here.

I wasn’t sure what her reaction would be, but I was bursting out of my seat as she opened it. As she ripped the wrapping paper off, she immediately said “Why do I know this book?” She looked down at it and then at me in quick succession and immediate tears. Neither of us could quit crying. She looked and looked and looked at every page as we both bawled and hugged over and over. Our relatives have become used to our antics by now but even they were wondering “what the heck?”

She, too, shared that it “was like finding an old friend you thought you’d never see again.” She said, “It brought me right back to my childhood and I kind of want to stay there awhile.” She couldn’t believe her reaction either. It overtakes you immediately and whisks you off to the magical realm. But what about my brother….?

We celebrated Christmas with my brother’s family the next day. After some confusion as to where the second book I thought I brought was, I figured it was still in Minnesota nine hours away. So I started to ask my brother if he remembered a book from childhood about fairies and elves. I wasn’t sure if he read it. I mean do boys read about fairies and elves? We were close as children, but didn’t read together persé. He thought a moment and said “was the cover green?” “Oh no”, I said, “It’s blue—definitely blue.” All of a sudden I noticed the unwrapped book sticking out of the bag of gifts we brought. (I didn’t wrap it because I was considering giving it to my other sister if she came—which she did not. I was time-crunched for wrapping, as we all are. I knew my brother would understand.)

As I handed the book over to my brother I noticed the back was pure green. Here’s to the memories of our childhood! His reaction was slow and methodical, as is his demeanor. With girls I think it’s all about emotion and sobbing. With boys, there’s less outward emotion and more logic and details. At first I was a bit disappointed thinking he was not as moved as his sisters had been, but then he started his commentary: “Oh yah, I remember him. And that one. I remember that one. Oh yah…Oh yah.”

As he continued to page through, he came upon the page that had haunted my memory for so long—the elfin family beneath the tree. And he says “Oh…oh yah, there it is. That’s the one.” So it was a special illustration for him too! He silently continued to page through and then said with a lot of thought “I wonder what it is about this book that stays in your memory. Is it the color? Is it the storyline? There I am back in our basement again.” The basement was our toy room. We played there for hours in our childhood.

What was your favorite childhood book? Find it. It holds the key to magical memories. It is worth its weight in gold. You won’t regret a single penny spent in bringing it back into your life. Crack open the magic and take a ride back in time when scarves had magical powers and slippers turned to silver. Like Peter Pan you’ll be the boy or girl who never grew up. Meet me there and we’ll hang out.

“Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” ~ Rumi

 

 

Image of my beloved childhood book

26
September

Our Ancestors: “We Are Them; They Are Us.” And they can help us—or not. Within our DNA are our ancestors’ memories, which can nourish the dreams of our souls.” ~ Cyndi Dale

Written by Sandy. Posted in: My family history, Off-the-Wall Musings
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“My Better Day” newsletter contains tips for your yoga practice, yoga quotes to bring yoga off the mat and into your life, affirmations to brighten your day and motivate, and more!  It is my wish for your well-being that I send this newsletter to help make your day a Better Day!

In this issue:  Yoga quote, Practice yoga pose, Meditation on the go, Chakrascope, Hand Mudra, Healthy News, Featured Recipe, Favorite Yoga Music / DVD, Happenings at Better Day Yoga LLC, Final Relaxation Quote.

Namasté,

Sandy Krzyzanowski

Founder, Better Day Yoga LLC

Our Ancestors: “We Are Them; They Are Us.” And they can help us—or not. Within our DNA are our ancestors’ memories, which can nourish the dreams of our souls.” ~ Cyndi Dale

 

Five years ago my husband and I visited Poland—the homeland of our ancestors. I was having some issues with my left hip prior, but the pain was off the charts when we landed. The pain in my left hip wouldn’t allow me to walk more than half a block at a time without doing a “last resort” lunge wherever I could to alleviate the pain a little so I could walk another half a block. We had not rented a car so travel by foot was our only option within the various cities we were visiting.

It was still a beautiful trip with unforgettable, precious moments. I refused to let the pain dull the time there or the memories. We had an absolute blast visiting many of the top tourist spots like Krakow, Zakopane, and Częstochowa; as well as the larger cities near my parent’s birthplace villages: Kielce and Rzeszów. We were not in touch with Polish relatives at that time. So our visit did not include family.

More than one person shared their belief that the pain in my hip was a reflection of ancestral healing needed within either my family or even my homeland, Poland. We carry the stories of our ancestors within our energy field. Unresolved conflicts, emotional wounds, damaging judgments, and other limitations held by your ancestors past or present will continue to influence generations to follow. Our ancestor’s memories lie within our DNA. Deep, unexpressed emotions such as grief, anger, guilt, shame and fear can also be passed to us from our ancestors, just like our eye and hair color. Energy from our ancestors passes through the family tree. It’s an amazing thought, isn’t it?

My dad never made it back to the farm after World War II. He was taken from his home by the Germans when he was about 17 and was a prisoner of war on a German farm, as was my mom. Given the dates I saw on my grandparent’s graves, my dad lost his dad earlier the same year. His dad died in his arms—a story my dad repeated often. My dad never saw his mom again. This fact was driven home when during his final years with Alzheimer’s he would wander off saying “I’m going to find mama!”

We went back to Poland this past June. This time we visited family! We stayed on the farm my dad was born on in a 400-resident village in south-central Poland. My cousin, Henryka, her husband and two daughters currently live there. It was a deeply meaningful trip of a lifetime.

My cousin’s daughter, Anita, found us on Facebook in 2009. Since then, we have been in touch constantly. Her family’s connection with us and her visit here last year started the healing process of our extended families. Our visit back to Poland this year continued to “make right” the broken family relations.

Anita tells me that during WWII, my dad’s mom and younger siblings would hide in the fields for days when they knew the Germans were coming. Upon returning to the farm, the German tank tracks were visible near their home, some chickens missing, the house disheveled. When Anita recently took us for a walk in a nearby forest that surely my dad had frequented with his brother and sisters, the smoothed out hollows in the earth where the Polish soldiers and villagers would hide from the Germans were still apparent this many years later. It gave me an eerie, surreal feeling to walk through the forest. On the one hand my dad probably spent some wonderful hours playing within the forest area; but on the other hand, the energy of soldiers in wait and in fear lingered.

Back in the early 60’s my dad and mom sponsored his sister, Stanislawa, her husband, Henryk, and their three children—Maria, Krystyna, and Henryka—to come live here in America. After a huge falling out, my dad’s sister and family moved back to Poland. The details as given to me, a very small child, were sketchy.

Between the pain of being taken from his family home during WWII and then losing connection to his family a second time with the falling out years later, I’m thinking there was definitely some ancestral healing needed in my dad’s immediate family. But anyone who knows Poland’s history—(woah!..literally, as I typed the previous phrase and Googled the “history of Poland” to research the dates Poland was not even a country on the map, our electricity went out in the house for perhaps 30 seconds. Insert Twilight Zone music here. I’ve had my own experiences with electricity and communication from those that have passed, but that’s for another blog. Communicating through electricity is apparently a venue of choice for those that have passed: “They also work through electricity – turning TVs and radios on and off, affecting lights, doorbells, phones. They seem to be able to manipulate energy – most likely because they’re energy!”. “Hello!” to my Polish ancestors!) As I was saying, anyone who knows Poland’s history knows Poland’s borders have changed numerous times.

From 1796 until 1919, Poland did not exist as a county. World War II began with a massive German invasion into Poland. “Hitler’s policy was to eradicate the Polish nation and Germanise the territory.”

Within a matter of weeks, the Soviet Union moved into Poland, claiming its eastern half. “Thus, Poland was yet again partitioned. Mass arrests, exile and executions followed, and it’s estimated that between one and two million Poles were sent to Siberia, the Soviet Arctic and Kazakhstan in 1939–40. Like the Nazis, the Soviets set in motion a process of intellectual genocide.” Source: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/poland/history

When friends and therapists shared the concept of ancestral healing and connected it to the pain in my hip, I have to say I was more than a little intrigued. As a yoga teacher, I’d learned that we store a lot of emotions in our hips, especially the emotions we don’t want to, or can’t, deal with. Your hips generate any movement forward in your life. If you’re feeling stuck or blocked in some way, your hips are usually involved. The idea that an ancestral block was lodged in my hip resonated with me—especially since the pain went off the charts once we landed in Poland.

My Polish ancestors definitely had deep, unexpressed grief. Undeniably, negative influences from the past affect us mentally, emotionally, and spiritually; and as we’ve learned from mind/body science, they also affect us physically and energetically. Since the hips are where every initiative starts, any pain or trauma we have stored in the hips that’s stopping us from physically moving forward will also stop us from energetically moving forward.

Perhaps visiting Poland without connecting with family five years ago stopped my hip from moving forward with ease on our trip. Perhaps my ancestral homeland was “holding on” to my every step insisting I do more than just visit the tourist stops. Who can say? (Read about the chakra connection in the Chakrascope section below!) As we planned a return visit back to Poland five years later, it was more than a little on my mind. I didn’t want a repeat performance! But perhaps this trip with the sole purpose of meaningful connection to family would help shift the energy of unexpressed grief. At least that was my hope.

On a side note, I donned a karma bracelet for inner strength and courage early June, a month prior to our trip. Karma bracelets are designed to fall off when your karma is complete—when you have released your negative karma and achieved your personal goal. My “inner strength and courage” bracelet came with the following message: “Wear your bracelet to dissolve away any fearful or doubtful karma and give light to your inner strength. Confidence is the key to manifesting anything you desire.”

Karma is defined as “The total effect of a person’s actions and conduct during the successive phases of the person’s existence, regarded as determining the person’s destiny.” And another: “the cosmic principle of rewards and punishments for the acts performed in a previous incarnation.” If you look at karma in the light of our ancestral heritage, my bracelet was working on releasing any fearful and doubtful karma from my ancestors.

I’d witnessed a friend’s karma “complete” its journey quickly, falling off within a few days. So I expected my karmic “lesson” to be, at the most, perhaps a week or two. Why I thought I could estimate timing on karma is humorous in hindsight. Each lesson is personal, as is the timing.

As we approached the timing for our return trip to Poland, the karma bracelet still had not fallen off. I started to wonder if perhaps this once-in-a-lifetime trip to the farm my Dad was born on was to “complete” any unresolved karmic energies surrounding inner strength and courage.

The courage and inner strength it took for all Poles to rise above their violent history—let alone my parents—and to hold onto their Polish heritage under threat of death was not something I dwelled upon as a child of Polish immigrants who had been prisoners of war. My parents shared no bitterness for having had ten years of their lives stolen with the added humility of being held prisoners on farms and in war camps, their families ripped apart.

Both of my parents were prisoners of war on German farms. My mom was auctioned off to the highest bidding German farmer. She never, not once, discussed her time as a prisoner on that farm. I’m certain it wasn’t something she cared to remember and least of all share with her children. My parents and others like them buried their despair and their grief and moved on to a new life in the U.S. This is a common theme among WWII immigrants to the U.S. Their children learned to ask no questions. You were not to touch the sleeping dragon.

I was an adult before the reality of my history truly hit me: “My parents were prisoners of war on German farms, met in a war camp, got married in the war camp, and had two kids in that war camp.” And I was a yoga teacher in my 50’s studying the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) before I finally deduced that my parents weren’t just born with short fuses and erratic temperaments. Those are classic signs of PTSD.

I was told our recent visit to Poland was an “event” for this quaint village. When we would walk down the road, neighbors would step out onto the road to peak at us as we walked away. One cousin remarked as she met me for the first time: “It is impossible.” She was referring to my return to my dad’s birthplace village. Another had just lost her last sister and expressed gratitude for having met me and knowing she was not alone. Each and every one of them touched my heart and will live on there. I will hold them close as I know my dad did in his memories.

I couldn’t help but think about my parent’s decision not to remain in war-torn Poland; to move on to another land with two small children and start a new life. Now there was some inner strength and courage!

I felt lost simply not knowing the language fluently and I had a fluent bilingual relative accompanying me everywhere! My dad tried to take lessons to learn English here in the U.S. early on but holding down two to three jobs at a time got in the way of his studies and he had to abort the lessons.

My mom learned English all on her own, creating some of her own words and phrases along the way like “meat-lunch” for “lunchmeat” and things at an angle were “on an ick”*. She was my dad’s bookkeeper (he had his own ceramic tile, linoleum, slate business for close to 30 years) and took great pride in writing the checks and other business papers in perfect English after much trial and error. I know she felt self-conscious her whole life about the mastery of her second language. They both mastered the English language brilliantly, in my humble opinion.

Their struggles and accomplishments paved the way for my future just as the contributions of other famous Poles did:

Marie Curie, Pope John Paull II, Copernicus, Chopin, and I might add, Chopin’s first cousin, Wladimir Krzyzanowski (recognize the last name?) to name a few.

(*Side story here: It was last year sometime in a conversation with my second oldest sister, Barb, who is nine years older than me, that the phrase “on an ick” was used by my sister. I started to chuckle and she asked why. So I commented that “ick” was a sweet “mom-ism”—a made-up word from mom. There was a long pause, and she said “Are you serious? That’s not a word? I’ve been using that word my whole life!” –a more humorous example of an ancestor’s struggle with learning a new language in a new land.

In Zakopane, as I walked among the Tatra Mountains my dad had often spoken so fondly of, I sent a silent message off to my dad’s spirit: “I am here, dad; and it’s as beautiful as you always said it was. I am here and I am home.” By the time we were in Zakopane, it was a little more than half-way through our trip. And after hiking 18 kilometers (a little over 11 miles) the first day—half of that all uphill—I knew my hip issues from five years prior were, thankfully, not going to reoccur! Of course, my husband and I also continued doing daily yoga throughout the trip each morning as well! Let’s hear it for the healing powers of yoga!

We even took another hefty hike up the mountain the second day to do a cave tour—a precarious walk up slippery slope rock-steps with an equally precarious, if not downright dangerous, path through the cave that deemed us worthy of saying we were definitely “spelunkers”! I teased my cousin’s daughter, Anita, that we were filming “How to lose your relatives in two days”. All joking aside, she apologized several times as we were in the midst of the cave tour among other tourists who were likewise in disbelief saying “Oh my God!” and “Jesu, Jesu!”

As we were waiting to catch the bus out of Zakopane back toward Krakow, I suddenly noticed my karma bracelet was gone! It fell off somewhere in Zakopane! “Wear your bracelet to dissolve away any fearful or doubtful karma and give light to your inner strength. Confidence is the key to manifesting anything you desire.” I have to say having lost the bracelet in Poland, and particularly in the midst of the Tatra Mountains, must have made my mom and dad smile. It was a sweet feeling to have left a little part of me there. Dwelling on my parent’s inner strength and courage, as well as the inner strength and courage of all Poles, undoubtedly “gave light to” my own inner strength and I can’t thank them enough for that gift.

I’ve read that ancestral healing allows you to make peace within your family going back many generations. Some say seven generations forward and backward. If my trip to Poland has done that for those that came before me and those that follow, for this I am truly grateful. If it has cleared the path for my own life’s mission, well that would just be the icing on the cake now wouldn’t it?

Ancestral Healing can transform energetic patterns that are not in your highest good, or are preventing you from carrying out your soul’s mission and life’s purpose. If you are experiencing recurring patterns where things get in the way of feeling satisfied, enriched or successful, then Ancestral Healing may be the missing link that can free you to attain personal fulfillment.”

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, our trip to Poland has completed me. Before this trip I wouldn’t have thought I felt “incomplete” or “lost”. Yet after this trip I now know a sense of connectedness to family I have never known. It’s palpable. I have been hugged and kissed by cousins and distant cousins in numbers I cannot count. I have truly been “home”. My roots go deeper now and I am grounded in a way I’ve never felt before. I know where I come from and some of the stories that helped make me who I am. There’s a sense of security and safety in really knowing family. Having met, this family connection can only grow from here and the story continues…

How about you? What patterns, legacies, values, attitudes, key events, connections, struggles, triumphs and disappointments have been passed on from your ancestors? What impact have your ancestors had upon your present life? How will you embody their lessons and what will you pass on to those who come after? Are you disconnected from your immediate family? Only you can make the journey to complete yourself.

There’s no such thing as a lost soul.

I know where they are, and everyone makes it home.

Thanks for caring,
The Universe
(Source: Totally Unique Thoughts from the Universe daily emails.)


Photo credit: 

https://fbcdn-sphotos-h-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash3/1010353_10151722578559675_1364855751_n.jpg

 

30
March

“…it’s important to realize that questioning the intent of our practice inevitably leads us to inquire about the meaning of our life as well. We could just as pertinently ask: Why am I really alive?” ~ Richard Rosen

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Off-the-Wall Musings
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“My Better Day” newsletter contains tips for your yoga practice, yoga quotes to bring yoga off the mat and into your life, affirmations to brighten your day and motivate, and more!  It is my wish for your well-being that I send this newsletter to help make your day a Better Day!

In this issue:  Yoga quote, Practice yoga pose, Meditation on the go, Chakrascope, Hand Mudra, Healthy News, Featured Recipe, Favorite Yoga Music / DVD, Happenings at Better Day Yoga LLC, Final Relaxation Quote.

Namasté,

Sandy Krzyzanowski

Founder, Better Day Yoga LLC

“…it’s important to realize that questioning the intent of our practice inevitably leads us to inquire about the meaning of our life as well. We could just as pertinently ask: Why am I really alive?” ~ Richard Rosen

 

Inviting the sacred into your yoga practice

A recent article suggested experiencing your entrance into your home or onto your yoga mat as “entering a sacred temple”. That resonated with me. How about you? Do you approach your yoga practice as though your mat is sacred ground? The energy with which you approach anything will affect both the experience as well as the outcome.

Sometimes you don’t even realize how you are approaching a moment/project/bodywork practice and the energetic messages you instill and invest into them are not apparent—or so it seems. This is the difference between washing the dishes because you need to get the dishes done, and washing the dishes to wash the dishes; or practicing yoga as only a workout vs. approaching your yoga mat as though it were sacred ground.

You don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone.

This dovetails into a comment one of my students once made upon having missed a couple yoga classes. She said, why is it when I miss a workout at the gym I don’t really “miss it” so much; but when I miss a yoga class, I really seem to miss it?  Here is an example of experiencing your yoga practice as having entered “sacred ground”. What’s more, it’s more than words can say, isn’t it? It’s your sacred ground and no one else’s. You develop a relationship with your yoga practice that feeds your soul in a very personal way as much as it feeds your physical body. Mind and body are connected.

Like many others, you may have come to yoga for the fitness aspect, but suddenly it means much more; and sometimes you aren’t sure why—as my student attested to. So while setting the intention to approach your mat as though you were entering a sacred temple will foster your personal relationship with your yoga practice, the relationship will happen of its own accord given your dedication to the practice.

You may not even realize the difference between your mindfulness when going to “workout” vs. participating in your yoga practice. Or perhaps your approach to your yoga practice has been less than focused for various reasons—time, energy, space, personal issues, etc. You don’t realize your lack of awareness until, suddenly, the energy feels somehow different and you wonder, why? What changed?

This could pertain to anything you dedicate your time to. You might have been doing something good for you on a regular basis and one day your schedule changes and you skip doing it. You begin to notice that for some reason you no longer feel the same—like taking a moment for some grounding rituals each morning before turning on your electronic devices, or taking an afternoon walk outside. Your ten minutes of meditation really do make a difference and the five minute break outside when having a stressful moment really does regenerate you. Take the time. You may not even realize the beneficial energetic effects until one day when you haven’t been doing it and you realize the energy—is gone.

How you do anything is how you do everything.

The yoga mat is a metaphor for life. How you approach your practice, how you participate in it, the attention you dedicate to it, is a metaphor for how you approach your life. You practice yoga to learn about yourself. How do you handle challenges? How do you handle a stumble? Do you tend to rush through life, or approach it with a controlled consciousness? Are you aware, intimately aware, of what you are doing while you are doing it? “Practice, and all is forthcoming.” ~ Pattabhi Jois.

Knowing that you are afraid to balance in, say, crow pose, you can choose to ask yourself what you are really afraid of. Failure? Hurting yourself? Hurting your ego? Not being perfect? While practicing balance poses you can begin to realize that balance is not about being rigid and still, it’s about the micro-movements your body just knows to do in order to keep you upright; and it’s about letting your body do what it knows to do without fearing a momentary stumble. You can always get back up. Daily practice increases your ability to stay balanced in challenging situations. Daily practice will change your relationship with yourself.

“If you fall, I’ll be there.” ~ Floor

Just as your yoga practice teaches you to drill down into what’s going on inside your body, your yoga practice will also deliver exquisite, life-affirming messages when you take the time to notice. You’ll never have enough of something that doesn’t feed your soul. Likewise, you can never have too much of something that does. You will always undoubtedly benefit by experiencing more of that. And just as your yoga practice is very personal, the benefits you experience will likewise be very personal. It will send energy just where you need it and release it from where you don’t. It is a tonic for your soul; an anchor for your day.

This year, in the wee hours of a winter morn’, I started to turn on three specific lamps in our bedroom to light my morning yoga practice area. (See the Charkascope section below for more on the power of three.) Two of the lamps are salt lamps. After an amazing visit to the ancient salt mine in our ancestors homeland, Poland, Wieliczka Salt Mine, my husband and I will always and forever have a heart connection to salt lamps.

Many studies have shown that salt crystal lamps can increase the negative ion count. Negative ions benefit asthma patients, people with chronic lung illnesses, and allergy sufferers. As well, they help improve learning, memory, and emotional well being. By creating a balance of ions in the air, they stimulate natural drive and healthy energy. A low-cost method, a salt lamp is an excellent source of negative ion. Healthy ions cleanse the air. Ever experienced the change in the air after a good rain? That’s from negative ions. Source: http://www.natural-salt-lamps.com/polishsaltlamps.html (Another source on salt lamp claims: https://www.healthambition.com/pink-himalayan-salt-lamps-health-benefits/)

I turn the first salt lamp on as I say my morning prayers and affirmations. It not only reminds me of our trip to our ancestor’s homeland, but of our history together as man and wife.

The second lamp is a night light given to me by my dearest friend (next to my sweetheart of a husband, of course)—Christine. She writes the “featured recipes” for my newsletter. It’s a nightlight with an owl on it—for wisdom. Owls have always attracted me. How about you? I’ve always considered them magical creatures. Ted Andrews writes in Animal Speak, The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great and Small, that owls represent “The Mystery of Magic, Omens, Silent Wisdom, and Vision in the Night.” Owls are also associated with the Greek Goddess of Wisdom, Athena. When I turn this particular light on, I am, in my own way, inviting the energy and wisdom of my best friend to share my morning experience.

The last salt lamp I turn on was purchased in Poland at Wieliczka. At first we only lit it on “special occasions”—but why ration something that brings you joy? This lamp is a pink salt, like the first lamp, but a much lighter hue of pink—almost white. Lighting this salt lamp still evokes “special occasion” energy, and the memory of the ancient Wieliczka Salt Mine definitely adds an element of the sacred. (Wieliczka has many religious carvings and is sometimes referred to as “The Underground Salt Cathedral of Poland”. The religious carvings are what draw many to this mine. See for yourself.)

I practice yoga within the circle created by the three lamps. I’ve never been an “altar girl”, but lighting these three lamps evokes what I consider the equivalent of lighting the candles before mass in church—creating a sacred space, setting an intention.

At first I lit these lamps out of necessity—it was dark. Once it was lighter in the morning, I tried one day to refrain from lighting them. It felt somehow incomplete. Something was missing. The energy just wasn’t the same. So I turned the lights on again to create my circle of sacred space.

Within the confines of my sacred circle, I am safe; and as I approach my yoga mat, it is a space within a space—more sacred, more personal, simply “more”. Just as some recommend setting up a personal altar for your meditation practice, the three lights and my yoga mat have become my “altar” beckoning me inward each morning to find my connection to the sacred—to that still small voice within which says “Practice, and all is forthcoming.” ~ Pattabhi Jois.

Do you approach your yoga practice as though you were entering a sacred temple? Do you consider your yoga practice a prayer in motion? Any activity done with mind and body connected is considered “yoga”. Although it is helpful to have a dedicated area in your home for creating your sacred space, with a clear intention, you can create a sacred space within yourself. Viewing your yoga practice—or your life—as a “prayer in motion” brings new meaning to the quote from the Bible: “Pray without ceasing.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

Once you have found your sacred space upon your yoga mat, never lose your sacred connection. Come back to it again and again. Make your whole life a connection to the sacred. Draw upon that connection without ceasing. Make your whole life a prayer in motion. Your life is the Universe—God, Source, Spirit—speaking through you.

“My life is my message.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

 

28
January

“What is your larger goal in the work you do? What is the true calling behind your apparent role in the world? Hold to that, and let that vision guide you, no matter the task in front of you.” ~ Laura Cornell

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Off-the-Wall Musings
Comments Off on “What is your larger goal in the work you do? What is the true calling behind your apparent role in the world? Hold to that, and let that vision guide you, no matter the task in front of you.” ~ Laura Cornell Tagged with

“My Better Day” newsletter contains tips for your yoga practice, yoga quotes to bring yoga off the mat and into your life, affirmations to brighten your day and motivate, and more!  It is my wish for your well-being that I send this newsletter to help make your day a Better Day!

My primary goal for 2013 is to continue to share the transformative power of yoga and wellness with you. Can you help me with this goal? Here are a few ways that you could help:

  1. If you have enjoyed my offerings this past year including classes or newsletters, please let me know via an email testimonial or suggest new ways to improve my offerings.
  2. Spread the joy and wisdom of yoga and wellness by sharing my newsletters with friends and family
  3. If your company is interested in an on-site program, please inquire for details.  Better Day Yoga LLC offers On-Site Corporate programs like Yoga,  Meditation/Breathwork, and “At-the-desk” classes to fit your budget and benefit the physical and mental health of your employees.  Let’s talk about the many benefits to both the employer and employee that Corporate On-Site Programs offer.

Last year, I changed the timing of my newsletters from one every month to one every two months, and it even became less than that toward the end of the year. The holidays are meant to be enjoyed!  I may be switching that up this year as well. I’d rather write quality vs. quantity. I hope you agree. If I have something important to relay to you, I’ll send a dedicated email vs. a full newsletter, if need be, on the off months.

In this issue:  Yoga quote, Practice yoga pose, Meditation on the go, Chakrascope, Hand Mudra, Healthy News, Featured Recipe, Favorite Yoga Music / DVD, Happenings at Better Day Yoga LLC, Final Relaxation Quote.

Namasté,

Sandy Krzyzanowski

Founder, Better Day Yoga LLC

 “What is your larger goal in the work you do? What is the true calling behind your apparent role in the world? Hold to that, and let that vision guide you, no matter the task in front of you. You will ultimately have a lot more fun, and feel a lot more fulfilled in your life.” ~ Quote by Laura Cornell from her article “On Being a Spiritual Teacher”.

Last year at a YogaFit®  Mind Body Fitness Conference I purchased a hand-made bracelet that was created with the intention of helping you clear your energetic knots (“granthis” in Sanskrit). It has one of those “Chinese coins” in the middle picturing a dragon-like image on one side and Chinese characters on the other. There are two strands extending from each side of the coin with one of the strands on one side containing a unique “square” bead representing a “knot” or “granthi”. Several red/orange agate stones adorn the bracelet (agates are great grounding stones!) along with a few beautiful light green to milky yellow jaspers, and there’s a dove charm at the clasp. It feels very “earthy” and grounding to me.

The energy of stones speaks to me. I am enamored with energy. Working with the energy body has always been a magical subject for me. How about you?

I’ve referred to energetic knots/granthis in past newsletters. Let me recap a bit here.

Just as acupressure or acupuncture releases blocks in your energetic “subtle” body, yoga releases blocks along the nadis—or delivery system—in the body. “Nadi” means “movement”. They operate as a delivery system for the chakras and transport subtle energies throughout the body. They are often compared to the Chinese meridian system since both distribute energy and interact with the chakras.

Knots are considered “thresholds” where the energy gets stuck. When energy is stuck at the various thresholds, it develops a physical “pathology” specific to that area of the body. When the knots clear, we become “aligned with the truth of our nature, and the symptoms disappear.” (Source: Kundalini Rising. Exploring the energy of awakening by Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, Andrew Newberg, Sivananda Rhada, Ken Wilber, and John Selby.)

The knots lie within the root, heart, and third-eye chakra. (Some texts say the first knot is in the solar plexus chakra.) Yoga helps release the energetic knots or blocks. Once the blocks are released, our energy flows freely—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. When there is no energy, there is no life. Our energy—also known as prana or chi—is vital to our life-force. When it flows freely, we feel healthy, vibrant and connected to our true spiritual nature; and are able to become all that we are meant to be.

As mentioned earlier, the first knot we must unlock is located within the root chakra. This first knot is “Known as the knot of names and forms, the world of ambitions and desires..” The Chakra Bible by Patricia Mercier.

The root chakra is my “go to” chakra for health and well-being since it is typically the one I need to strengthen. It speaks to feeling safe, secure, centered and grounded—nurtured. It is the “seat of survival.” You need to satisfy your survival needs of safety and security before you can become enlightened, right? I tend to focus on staying grounded, stable, and secure sometimes at the expense of venturing out. Putting yourself out there feels vulnerable, doesn’t it?

How about you? Have you struggled with feeling centered, secure, and grounded? Do you feel stuck because the risk seems too great to be “out there”?

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom ~ Anais Nin

Here’s the rub—the first knot remains shut until you have overcome your attachment to stability, inertia and identification with the physical alone. That’s been a sticking point for me, to say the least, but it makes sense. The root chakra is all about stability and security—but when you strive to attain those things in excess, it still blocks you from recognizing your true nature—your spirit. We weren’t meant to survive life “safe”. We were meant to thrive! We were meant to let our spirit loose! We were meant to connect with our true spiritual nature!

“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, wine in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, “WHO HOO, what a ride!” ~ Author Unknown


Image Credit:  http://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/580495_10151490331099532_754692352_n.jpg

I believe we attract the lessons in life we personally need. We all have different lessons and different paths to learn those lessons. When I bought the bracelet, I knew there was something about it I needed to address—this clearing of energetic knots.

“What do you want more of in your life? Create a piece of jewelry to symbolize your desire and focus your intention.” ~ Suzanne Vadnais Monson’s “Enchanted Jewelry” Enrichuals© card.

 

We’ll come back to the “unlocking energetic knot bracelet” later! Hold that thought!

This past weekend I had the honor of presenting a recently updated version of my Facial Exercise, Acupressure, and Self-Massage workshop at my favorite yoga studio—my yoga sister, Tracey Mortensen’s, studio—Inspiring Actions, LLC. I’d presented this workshop a few times at my original studio location, within Vita Bella’s in Little Canada, as well as at Spirit River in Anoka.

The recent updated version adds more yogic philosophy. While the additions were subtle, it really clicked with my personal vision of what I wanted to communicate in this workshop. (Or to use the phrase from Cyndi Dale’s book referenced above—the workshop “aligned with the truth of my nature”.)

Ultimately, what speaks to you and feeds your soul is the true calling behind your apparent role. What is the larger goal in the work you do?

There’s always been a section reminding the student that a yoga practice is a great anti-aging practice in and of itself. And I have always stressed this workshop is not about getting a “Botox-like” perfection. The results are more subtle and natural. We aim for an improved, better you—not perfection.

Combining the two sentiments brought it home: Coming from a yoga philosophy, I added a reminder of the importance of being okay with where you are at, to love yourself “as is”. Just as your yoga practice is not meant for achieving the “perfect” pose, neither is the intent of my workshop to achieve the “perfect” face.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”  ~ Reinhold Niebuhr.

You have certain features you can improve upon, but what you have to work with is God-given and should be treasured, loved, and even nurtured. The most important element of an anti-aging routine is your mind. That message—the importance of a positive, nurturing mindset in all of your endeavors, and the importance of loving and nurturing yourself—is the larger goal in what I am called to teach. It focuses on love and joy—simple, yet not easy. While there are tools I use to convey that message, the “click” came when I switched my focus from the details of the tools to focusing on the larger aspect of love and joy.

How often have you heard to quit focusing on the details—to focus on the bigger picture—to achieve all? Detach from the details, and all will be forthcoming. Remember your true nature in the bigger picture. Flow with that. Focus on your larger goal and the details will take care of themselves.

“The wave forgets the truth that it is ocean, thinking itself
to be the grand shape, which it has temporarily taken.
For a while, it takes on the rupa (form) of wave.
Finally, it remembers its true rupa (form) of ocean.
The two coexist, though one is true, and the
other, though beautiful, is only relatively true.
So too, we humans forget our true nature,
but, through yoga, can remember.”

Source: http://movingintostillness.yuku.com/topic/3142/Yoga-Sutras#.UQr6R8Xhd2k

One of the facial acupressure points highlighted in the workshop utilizes the grounding aspects of the point to help focus on “what do you really want?” I’d never really been able to nail the answer to that when I focused on the details. It seemed so big. But when I focus on the larger goal, the answer is simple.

“The answer is simple…Love Yourself, Live Your Spirit” ~ Sonia Choquette (the tile to her new book.)

Other luscious, yogic and energy philosophy additions to my workshop included:

  • Extra chakra energy references in regards to the skin, the pineal gland and your metabolism—all important aspects of a “younger” appearance.
  • Extra reflexology point references
  • Extra “energy medicine” references

All I can say is these additions to content made the workshop literally come alive with new life for me as the teacher. It has a whole new feel to it when I present it because it speaks to my passions so much more directly. Curious? Book a workshop!

I wrote this newsletter before I received this email about Gaiam’s® “Connect 2 Happiness” program  :  “When we take a moment to listen to our inner guide, we get clues that can lead us down the path toward happiness. Choosing what makes us feel happy over what makes us feel safe can take us out of our comfort zone; yet when we connect to our passions with our actions, we stop seeking and start living. Find you joy. Listen to yourself, and take action.

Start a conversation with your inner guide. Ask yourself these three questions, and listen closely to the answers:

  1. What makes you happy?
  2. What are you passionate about?
  3. How can you bring more of that into your life?”

Infuse your current life with more that you are passionate about and watch your world pop!

The workshop being held at my yoga sister’s studio added a very special significance for me. Tracey (the owner) and I completed our first and second 200 hour yoga teacher trainings together, so we’ve walked the yoga path together for several years. Her friendship means the world to me. Presenting at her studio was, for me, a crowning achievement. She was placing her trust in my abilities and I didn’t plan on letting her down!

Feedback from the workshop was very positive, with several students giving unasked for compliments on content and presentation. I was walking on cloud nine for the rest of the weekend, feeling content and “on purpose”. “On purpose”—something I had not felt until I focused on the larger goal and putting my “passions into action” as primary and let the details be secondary.

The next day, I even treated myself to a celebratory shopping excursion at Kohl’s® and found myself in the yoga clothes section. Then it happened. I was in the try-on room when my bracelet unraveled. I was stunned and at first, disappointed. I mean, who wouldn’t be? I gathered up the beads on the floor and quickly realized all the beads weren’t there so I found some others on the floor where the yoga clothes were. **Sigh***

Glass half-full—the bracelet was hand-made with high quality materials and I didn’t question the workmanship. I used to sell beaded jewelry so I know they can’t possibly last a life-time. It’s the nature of the beast. Still, I had to sigh. What did this mean? Was it some sort of sign?

I didn’t realize until later that the only strand that unraveled was the strand with the square bead representing the knot/granthi. Then I remembered YogaFit® has a line of other simpler bracelets referred to as “Karma bracelets” that are designed to fall off when your karma is complete—when you have released your negative karma and achieved your personal goal. They are supposed to turn your intention into action. (Portions of proceeds go to the Khushi Charitable Society in India, providing after-school opportunities to impoverished children.)

Karma is defined as “the force generated by a person’s actions”. I had to wonder, did I unlock the first knot?

A couple of weeks prior to this, while in the preparation stages for the workshop, I had experienced a pretty dramatic reaction to a deep tissue/trigger point massage—Lymphatic congestion to the nth degree and subsequent kidney heaviness—all part of your detox and immune functions of the body. The first chakra, where the first knot resides, governs the immune system and the blood and is also associated with the kidney meridian. Also, in Chinese physiology the kidneys rule the emotions fear and insecurity—root chakra issues.

Note to self: If you are coming down with a cold or just getting over one, it is NOT recommended you have a deep tissue massage. Got it! Check that lesson off! Yet and still, a good mind/body expert/friend, Dori Brown, PT,  suggested that perhaps a clearing that happened quickly, albeit dramatically, was better than slowly over several weeks, adding—everything happens the way it’s supposed to, and my body was calling for a clearing. Read the Chakrascope section for more on kidneys and the root chakra (and salt cravings).

Again, to repeat an earlier quote from Cyndi Dale’s book:  When energy is stuck at the various thresholds, it develops a physical “pathology” specific to that area of the body. When the knots clear, we become “aligned with the truth of our nature, and the symptoms disappear.” (Source: Kundalini Rising. Exploring the energy of awakening by Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, Andrew Newberg, Sivananda Rhada, Ken Wilber, and John Selby.) I wondered, could this be what was happening to me?

Detox—getting rid of what you don’t want. As I contemplated the “bigger picture” message my body was trying to tell me, several questions came to mind. I am, by nature, intensely curious about how life’s lessons manifest in the body, energetically, spiritually and physically. It’s all connected.

The next time you have a physical symptom, ask yourself what might be going on in your life/mind that could be affecting your physical body. Sound strange? Why? Do you question that frustration can lead to either over or under eating or over or under exercising? And would that result in a physical manifestation? Do you question stress affecting your immune system, or causing you to clench various parts of your body? And would that result in a physical manifestation?  How else would the body speak to you if not through its symptoms? Have you let this habitual pattern of stress or frustration become your norm so that you no longer see how it leads to the physical manifestation? All I’m asking is that you try listening for a change and perhaps enlighten yourself for your own healing journey.

Inna Segal in her book The Secret Language of Your Body, states that the antidote to a rebelling lymphatic system is to practice courage, self-esteem, and leadership and focus on appreciating yourself, loving yourself, and creating a supportive environment where you can feel comfortable to be creative, lively, and spontaneous. I believe I accomplished that by creating and presenting my “new and improved” workshop. Was this all part of a transition to release the first knot? I believe you never really know.

All I do know for sure is I feel as though I am living “on purpose” and I am so enjoying my life exactly as it is. Perhaps by teaching with a focus on a larger goal, I am finally learning the lesson of love and joy for myself. I think you are called to teach what you need to learn. I’ve heard it referred to as the “wounded healer”. It is your own hurt that gives a measure of your power to promote healing.

“People who love themselves and live their Spirit are not necessarily subjected to any fewer challenges in life than those who rely solely on their egos and intellect to guide them. Life is life. Loving and living the Spirit within doesn’t prevent you from facing life’s storms. It does, however, greatly assist you in navigating the treacherous waters as painlessly and creatively as possible. And it allows you to do this while enjoying the journey.” ~ Sonia Choquette quote from her new book, The answer is simple…Love Yourself, Live Your Spirit.

 

11
October

“What turns inspiration into conversation? The power of positivity. Gains worth celebrating. And a single moment of meaningful change…” ~ Special K™ Movement manifesto

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Off-the-Wall Musings
Comments Off on “What turns inspiration into conversation? The power of positivity. Gains worth celebrating. And a single moment of meaningful change…” ~ Special K™ Movement manifesto Tagged with

“My Better Day” newsletter contains tips for your yoga practice, yoga quotes to bring yoga off the mat and into your life, affirmations to brighten your day and motivate, and more!  It is my wish for your well-being that I send this newsletter to help make your day a Better Day!

In this issue:  Yoga quote, Practice yoga pose, Meditation on the go, Chakrascope, Hand Mudra, Healthy News, Featured Recipe, Favorite Yoga Music / DVD, Happenings at Better Day Yoga LLC, Final Relaxation Quote.

Namasté,

Sandy Krzyzanowski

Founder, Better Day Yoga LLC

“What turns inspiration into conversation?
The power of positivity
Gains worth celebrating
And a single moment of meaningful change…” ~ Special K™ Movement manifesto

 

A couple of years ago I did a blog on slogans and asked what your tagline would be if you had one. I’ve always been attracted to good slogans. Being a fan of affirmations, I’m attracted to slogans that make you feel good. I’ve gathered a handful of new favorite slogans to share and invite you to ponder the slogans and taglines appearing in your life as a way to feel good inside. You won’t be bereft of advertising any time soon you may as well find a way to make the most of them, right?

 

“Celebrate the kid inside” /
“Let your inner kid loose” ~ OREO Cookies!

The impetus to gather another round of fun slogans came from a teeny tiny ad on my iPhone. At first I was just annoyed, as ads can sometimes do when they appear in the way of what you are trying to read, but then I saw the message and it made me smile. I often use affirmations in my yoga classes and one of them is from Wayne Dyer—“Don’t let an old person inside your body”.  And then another is “You will always be that young girl.” (Or guy, of course, when there are guys in the class!)

So when “Let your inner kid loose” appeared at the bottom of my iPhone, I left it there to peak at throughout the day. It was an invitation you couldn’t resist. Their website has a contest to “Bring out the kid in all of us” and I can only say “Bravo!” Watch this 30 second commercial and try not to tear up…I do every time. “You do something to me that nobody else could do.” Your inner child can do that.

Don’t you love the concept of Oreo Cookies celebrating 100 years by celebrating the kid inside? That’s the way to do it! You can do that too! You’re never too old to let your inner kid loose!

I love the sign at the end—“Next Stop:  Childhood” Let Oreo cookies take you there. Why not? What is your ticket to letting your inner kid loose? Find the trigger! Perhaps it is an Oreo cookie! If it is, use it! Perhaps it’s something else, but whatever it is, find it and pull the trigger! Which leads me to the next great slogan…


“Find what speaks to you” ~ Pier 1 Imports!

Just being open to the messages the Universe is sending you can open the floodgates to receiving more. One of the great gifts of a yoga practice is noticing the subtleties of messages you receive from your body, mind, and spirit. If you aren’t tuned in, you won’t get the right channel, right?

Finding what speaks to you might be easy—the messages might be “loud and clear”. If so, that’s great! But what about the subtle ones that may go unnoticed if you aren’t paying attention? What about the joy you get out of a great cup of coffee first thing in the morning—that you don’t always have time for, or perhaps don’t take the time for? You might not notice the good mood or peaceful feeling that stays with you the whole day when you start your day out right. Start noticing. What speaks to you? Is it the good mood you suddenly acquired? Or contentment for no reason that you can put your finger on  or a boost in self-esteem that magically happened? Find what speaks to you!

My regular readers know how much I love affirmations. My usual morning practice includes yoga, a sitting meditation, and affirmations. When I expanded my AM yoga practice, my sitting meditation practice fell to the wayside for a bit, as did the affirmations—the two are intertwined for me. Either in the middle or at the end of my mantra meditation, I have a series of chakra balancing prayers and affirmations that includes my own personal loving kindness meditation. I could tell fairly quickly by my general mood that I was feeling incomplete and down on myself more than usual. I’m happy to say I’m back to my full morning practice.

Notice when you are in a good mood and try to figure out what brought it on. What speaks to you? Listen!

And while I know retail therapy can be an addiction, if you love something enough that it speaks to you for several days after you’ve seen it in the store, perhaps it’s worth figuring out how to attain it—reasonably. I mean we all love the way too expensive things, right? But what if you saved up for the one thing that really made your heart sing? Only you can decide what your heart loves—and your budget can afford. I remember taking a class at the Open U / Learning Annex years ago and the speaker said if there’s something that makes you feel good about yourself, get it, buy it, be it. There’s some magic in that statement. Find what speaks to you.

 

“Create Wonder” ~ Samsung!

What surrounds us and what we choose to surround ourselves with defines how we live, what we do, and who we are….” –Part of the Samsung message: http://vimeo.com/41963210

This statement ties into the Open U speaker I listened to years ago. Look around your environment. What have you chosen to surround yourself with? It’s a common Feng Shui suggestion that if something in your environment sends you bad feelings—the holiday ornament that makes you feel guilty because you didn’t treat that person too nice once, or the decor you display because you feel obligated to but can’t stand—you should remove it. Makes sense to me! Is there something in your environment not sending you good juju? Remove it! Is there something you simply love to look at—add more of that.

I love Quan Yin—the Goddess of mercy and compassion—she makes me feel peaceful and protected simply looking at her image. It stems from an Asian lady statue/lamp we had in my childhood home. I didn’t realize the connection until I was an adult. I simply knew that I loved Quan Yin, but wasn’t sure how it came to be until one day it hit me. I realized that as a child, this Asian lady statue/lamp struck me with awe and dare I say “wonder”? It was as though she was watching over our whole household. Finding out she was the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion was simply an added bonus. Knowing that her image comforts me, I’ve chosen to add her into my environment as a way of adding peace. My yoga room contains two Quan Yins; my home—several! You can do that too. How can you create wonder in your life?

“The screen is your canvas to create wonder. Transform what you’ve captured into what you imagine.”—Both messages from Samsung’s SmartCamera campaign under the heading “Express Yourself”.  There is something very magical in the invitation to “create wonder” and “express yourself”, don’t you think? Have you ever thought about your ability to “create wonder”? Yes—you have the ability to create wonder. Do you have a hard time believing that statement? Who am I to think I can create wonder? Create wonder?! Yes! You can!

Don’t like photography? No worries! You can use those cues for ideas too. Once you’ve “captured” an idea in your mind to create wonder, transform it into what you imagine. Do you imagine a fun get-away weekend? Plan for it—transform your idea into reality. Do you imagine a perfect job? Write out the details of perfect job—“just for fun”. Remember writing it down gives it a life in your psyche. “Write it down, make it happen.” What do you have to lose?


“What will you gain when you lose?” ~ Special K™!

“The Special K™ Movement

It’s time to start a movement.
Let’s rise up
Join together
And change the way we talk about weight loss.

Because when we lose weight, we gain something, too.
It’s an emotion—a spark— that comes
from achieving our best selves.

What turns inspiration into conversation?
The power of positivity
Gains worth celebrating
And a single moment of meaningful change.

Starting today—and everyday—
We can radiate confidence
We can claim our own authentic beauty
And inspire our friends to do the same.

It’s time to change the conversation.

Joy. Vitality. Moxie. Sass.
What will you gain when you lose?
Rise up and declare your gain to the world.”

What a great idea—instead of focusing on loss, focus on the gain as a result of the loss! It’s seeing the glass as half full. It’s looking for the silver lining, because there always is one. Perhaps it’s looking at the lesson, and how that lesson helped you to move forward in a better way. If you didn’t have the darkness, you wouldn’t know or appreciate the light. The darkness literally helps to define the light.

Perhaps your silver lining it’s that “spark” they mention in their “movement” manifesto above—the spark that comes from achieving your best self. Remember it’s the friction that polishes the lump of coal into a diamond. Without the friction, there’s no diamond.

“It’s also helpful to realize that this very body that we have, that’s sitting right here right now…with its aches and its pleasures…is exactly what we need to be fully human, fully awake, fully alive.” ~ Pema Chödrön.

Sometimes loss requires a moment of regrouping—yes. But to stay down is not the answer. Focusing on “what’s next” helps you get up and figure out what you’ve gained from your loss. It could be you’ve gained the ability to keep on getting up. THAT is crucial—to keep on keeping on.

One of my best friends is a breast cancer survivor. She shared a story with me about a nurse who was discussing how the treatment (chemotherapy and radiation) affects various women. When my friend shared her thought that the side effects must be harder the older you get, the nurse’s response was the exact opposite. She said that older women have seen it all. They can handle more than most. They realize that in life things happen—you figure out how to keep on keeping on. THIS is one of the gifts of getting older.

Fall down seven times; get up eight ~ Japanese Proverb.

So how do you achieve your best self? Only you can answer that. What are you holding onto that you’re afraid to lose? Be it weight, am unfulfilling job, or a negative friend who drains your spirit—write down what you’ll gain when you lose and dwell on that. Be like Special K™ and “re-frame loss from deprivation to inspiration.  It really isn’t about what you have to lose—it’s all about what you have to gain.” Believe it. http://theinspirationroom.com/daily/2012/special-k-what-will-you-gain/


“Believe—because it works” ~ Weight Watchers®

I love the word “believe”. I own several rocks that have that word on it. It’s an affirmation in and of itself and attracts forces in you that you didn’t know you had. Yes—it’s magical!

The video below starts out withI am you and you are me.” This phrase resonates perfectly with the definition of “Namaste”:

“The divine in me recognizes and honors the Divine in you. I greet that place where you and I are one. I honor the place in you, which is of love, of truth, of light and of peace.” ~ Ram Dass.

Recognizing that we are each Divine—the same Divine—creates trust, unity, and strength. Believe because it works. Believe because without belief it won’t work! Believe in yourself—in your goals, in your efforts, in your greater self. Believe in the greater good of all people—because “I am you and you are me.”

“From The Secret Daily Teachings

Ask, Believe, Receive – just three simple steps to create what you want. However, very often the second step, believe, can be the most difficult one. And yet it is the greatest step you will ever take. Believing contains no doubt. Believing does not waiver. Believing is absolute faith. Believing remains steadfast despite what is happening in the outside world.

When you master believing, you have mastered your life.”

Source: http://mail.aol.com/37058-111/aol-6/en-us/mail/DisplayMessage.aspx?ws_popup=true




“Challenge what’s possible” ~ Olay®

What you think is possible is filtered through your own personal beliefs. If your background and life history contains a story—it will be difficult to conceive of another version of the story. Perhaps your parents or older siblings have repeated the phrase, “Oh it’s because I’m old.” Or, “They say you fall apart after 40.” That’s simply not true!

We’ve all fallen prey to outdated beliefs—that ache or pain that you think isn’t going to go away because you’re of a “certain age”; or the idea that you can’t do something because you’re too old.

As I mentioned earlier, one of my favorite affirmations is: “I’ll always be that young girl.” Dwelling on that makes me smile and gives me a sense of confidence so why dwell on the alternative? Visualize the younger you—and know that younger you is still inside.  Where else would she be? Your younger you is what made who you are today, so all of that younger you is still in there!

The great thing about getting older is that you don’t lose all the other ages you’ve been. ~ Madeleine L’Engle

More than once in the past when I had a major pain in my body I thought I’d just have to live with because I was over 40. Get over it! I’m over that kind of thinking and I’m here to tell you, your body heals at all ages! Your body is designed to regenerate constantly! It uses your mind power as part of the fuel—so be careful what you put into your mind.

If you aren’t healing the way you want to, try other options. Don’t be complacent. Challenge what’s possible! There’s always other options! And remember, “healing” may or may not be “cure”.

I remember buying some skincare items at the local store and the wonderful checkout lady sharing “at least you are still making the effort”. Of course I am! Another favorite mantra of mine is “I’m goin’ down fightin’!”

Old age is fifteen years older than I am. ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

Defining what you think beauty is isn’t the question here—it’s being the most beautiful you because you radiate from inside. Who needs “perfection”? What’s more, who can define it? As they say “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” Taking care of yourself—mind, body and soul—will resonate more than physical beauty. You’ll be unstoppable!

Some people, no matter how old they get, never lose their beauty – they merely move it from their faces into their hearts. ~ Martin Buxbaum

Feeling good about how you look is essential to your self-esteem, and taking excellent care of your emotional health and well-being can make your RealAge™ as much as 16 (!) years younger.” (Source:  RealAge.com)

When it comes to staying young, a mind-lift beats a face-lift any day.  ~ Marty Bucella

Here’s a Daily Holistic Beauty Regimen: Try these five habits on. Perhaps add one a day to your life and practice it mindfully for twenty-one consecutive days.

HABIT #1 – Explore PEACE: I will practice inner quiet and tranquility at least one hour a day.

HABIT #2 – Explore MENTAL CLARITY & FOCUS: I will practice doing one thing at a time for as long as I can.

HABIT #3 – Explore JOY:  I will practice creating and experiencing moments of joy until my life becomes a joy-based life.

HABIT #4 – Explore CREATIVITY, CONNECTION & CONTRIBUTION: I will practice creating daily. I will practice listening to others like every word they say is from the Divine. I will practice contributing to others with no strings attached. (Note: You can also do these three things simultaneously.)

HABIT #5 – Explore STUNNING HEALTH: I will practice only consuming things that will add life and vitality to my body.

Another way to integrate these habits slowly is to add one habit per week and practice for twenty-one consecutive days. Tip: Be easy with yourself and have fun with it.

Holistic Beauty: This perspective of beauty is a function of your whole, perfect and complete wellness. It’s a stunning and magnetic beauty that oozes from your insides. It’s how you retire in the evening, give thanks for the day and consume the miracles of nature as fuel to realize your ultimate destiny. It’s how you celebrate our respective cultures, and present the gift of yourself to others. It’s a beauty that says that everyone can be a rockstar by tapping in and utilizing what you have at your finger tips. Like Cracker Jack’s, there is a guaranteed prize inside of you (and in each one of us). Everyone is a gift and that gift deserves a lovely package.”

~ Excerpted from OMTimes Magazine article, Beauty v. Holistic Beauty: 5 New Habits, by Akua Auset, September 2012.


                                                    Image Credit:  Sakari Graphics

 

It’s not the miles, it’s how you live them ~ Volkswagen

I saw this commercial the night before I was going to release my newsletter. The commercial is a testament to the healing benefits of laughter yoga.  An excerpt from my June 2012 newsletter:

Not only is it healthy to learn to laugh at yourself, it’s very healthy to learn to laugh whenever you can; and if you can’t, fake it. There’s healing in laughter. “…laughing lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, increases muscle flexion, and boosts immune function by raising levels of infection-fighting T-cells, disease-fighting proteins called Gamma-interferon and B-cells, which produce disease-destroying antibodies. Laughter also triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, and produces a general sense of well-being.” http://www.holisticonline.com/Humor_Therapy/humor_therapy_benefits.htm

Have you tried a laughter yoga class before? “I went to a seminar on laughter yoga, and I felt elated for hours later. I didn’t have any pain,” When you combine laughter and breathing, there’s healing there. ~ Jody Ross, certified yoga laughter leader. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/06/laughter-yoga-benefits_n_1478960.html?ref=healthy-living

The tagline—It’s not the miles, it’s how you live them—speaks to your heart. My mantra: It’s the quality of your life every day that matters. So be on notice for the things that add to the quality of your life. I am finding myself saying “That makes me smile” more and more. It’s another phrase I use to “call out” the precious moments that make up the quality of my life.  (Another is “This very moment” whenever I want to claim it as precious.) Yesterday it came out as I watched a squirrel bouncing across our path as my husband and I went for a walk. Earlier, it was the call of the robin in the area. You know the one, it sounds like a giggle to me, and it happens around the 24 second mark in this link. For me, this sound is the sound of summer. So hearing it now–in the midst of fall, makes me smile. What makes you smile?

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we takebut by the moments that take our breath away. ~ Hilary Cooper

 

 

“Open up and invite life in.” ~ SC Johnson’s, Glade®

Glade was part of my last slogan article in 2010 as well. Then it was “Release the magic™”. What can I say? I like their slogans! (Truthfully, anything with the word “magic” in it appeals to me!)

The lesson here is open up! If you aren’t open to new adventures, new ways of being, new thoughts, new emotions, then you will stagnate just as you are. Remember the earlier slogan, what will you gain when you lose? Lose the old stuff!

“If you keep on doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting.”

“I am open to possibilities.”

“If you want tomorrow to be different from today, you’ll need to take yourself off autopilot and make different decisions today than the ones you made yesterday.”

 

“Make something amazing.” ~ Kraft

When I went to Kraft’s website today to check out their “Make something amazing” campaign, I found that they have other phrases following “make something”. They’re all absolutely inspiring: Make something sizzle. Make something wondrous. Make something with a touch of awesome. Make something authentic. Make something a little better. It’s amazing to me what an affirmation can do for the spirit.

Each and every one of these phrases speaks to your ability to create the life YOU want—you have the ability, and only you, to do that for yourself! And if you’re going to create something, it may as well be amazing, sizzling, wondrous, awesome, authentic and better! Why not? Not feeling up to the challenge? Let Marianne Williamson’s famous poem answer your fears:

“A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves,
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.”

So make something—anything—amazing! Make your life amazing! Use the power of your mind with each and every thought to affirm your amazing, sizzling, wondrous, awesome, authentic, better life!


24
July

“Some people say they haven’t yet found themselves. But the self is not something one finds; it is something one creates.” ~ Thomas Szasz, Hungarian psychiatrist

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Off-the-Wall Musings
Comments Off on “Some people say they haven’t yet found themselves. But the self is not something one finds; it is something one creates.” ~ Thomas Szasz, Hungarian psychiatrist Tagged with

“My Better Day” newsletter contains tips for your yoga practice, yoga quotes to bring yoga off the mat and into your life, affirmations to brighten your day and motivate, and more!  It is my wish for your well-being that I send this newsletter to help make your day a Better Day!

As a reminder, in response to my reader’s feedback, as well as my own “2012 Intention” to spend less time glued to the computer, I have shortened the newsletter format by eliminating the “Featured Deck and Quote” section, and changing the timing of my newsletter to every two months versus every month.

I continue to stock and sell one of my absolute favorite decks from local artist, Suzanne Vadnais Monson on my product page: http://betterdayyoga.com/products!

In this issue:  Yoga quote, Practice yoga pose, Meditation on the go, Chakrascope, Hand Mudra, Healthy News, Featured Recipe, Favorite Yoga Music / DVD, Happenings at Better Day Yoga LLC, Final Relaxation Quote.

Namasté,

Sandy Krzyzanowski

Founder, Better Day Yoga LLC

 “Some people say they haven’t yet found themselves. But the self is not something one finds; it is something one creates.” ~ Thomas Szasz, Hungarian psychiatrist

 

I have been going through a transformation with my yoga business. Those of you who read my blog on one of my teacher’s Prana Pages, know that I’ve been following what seems like explicit instructions from the Universe. All within one week’s time I found out my studio’s building was sold with plans to turn it into a senior center, and my second location’s retail owner lost her lease and was moving to a new location with no room for yoga.

Two weeks prior to all of this I’d met the owner of my new location at a fair I was exhibiting my yoga business at, and she wanted me to teach at her location. I was wondering just where in the heck I’d fit her into my already full schedule. We were set to meet the week after the week I found out about the demise of my two locations.

The Universe works in mysterious ways. It knew I’d need the comfort of a new location before being told the other two were gone. I can’t previously recall the Universe ever spelling out my next move so clearly, and I am humbled by it.

“That which you are seeking is also seeking you.” ~ Rumi.

I’ve always loved that quote by Rumi. Yet recent events steering me to my current new location really brought the meaning of Rumi’s quote home. The Universe really is conspiring for my full expression! (One of my favorite affirmations committed to memory.)

I have been affirming having a perfect yoga space for so long; I almost forgot it was I who set the wheels into motion for making a change. I knew eventually my current location would be too small, and its size has limited me from going hog-wild advertising it. I kept holding on, thinking I should wait until I literally outgrew the current location, but that was a slow process. So I held on to what was comfortable.

“Intuitive guidance means having the self-esteem to recognize that the discomfort or confusion that a person feels is actually directing him to take charge of his life and make choices that will break him out of stagnation or misery. And, while we measure our own success in terms of our personal comfort and security, the universe measures our success by how much we have learned.” ~ Caroline Myss.

Comfort is highly over-rated. At least the Universe thinks so! As you shift and change, it will be uncomfortable, but it is required that you do things differently if you want different results. One of my favorite quotes is “If you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you’ll keep getting what you’ve been getting!”

I’ve been gathering positive affirmations in a journal for several years now. It all started when I purchased the book New Moon Astrology, by Jan Spiller. I wasn’t necessarily “into” astrology so much, it was all of the affirmations in the book that attracted me; and if there was a magical time with more power to use affirmations, well why not? What I didn’t know was that I purchased the book right in the midst of what Jan refers to as my “granddaddy power period”—an especially abundant time for me to work with affirmations based upon my birth date. Interestingly, the transition of my businesses is now happening during that period. As Gibb’s would say on NCIS—there is no such thing as coincidence! (Want to know when yours is? Go here ).

This journal has been a part of my life for so long now, that when a friend suggested it wasn’t just the Universe pushing me along to my new location—this outside force I have no control over—it was me, well of course, I intuitively knew that. I had been using the principles of vision-boarding by writing down affirmations monthly and repeating them as part of my morning rituals.

It’s so hard to acknowledge your power within, isn’t it? Well acknowledge it!

“I am the cause of this reflection. I am in control of what I see. The world is a reflection of what is inside of me. I create my reality.” (I wrote this one in my journal without the source. It is not mine, but I love it.)

“I am a creator. And I create with my words. I honor my words.  My words honor me. As I speak, so it shall be.” ~Sonia Choquette quote from her excellent book, Your Heart’s Desire: Instructions for Creating the Life You Really Want.

 

So as you change, you may wonder if you are changing in the right direction:

First off, the dramatic alignment of losing both of my locations within a couple of days of each other and having already had a third location lined up wanting me to teach there is a huge high sign for me! As I’d mentioned in the “Prana Pages” blog I referenced earlier, I feel it is my only option to acquiesce to the Universe. I can’t previously recall the Universe ever directing me on my next step so clearly and succinctly.

I’ve heard it said that if you don’t follow obvious signs, the future signs become a little bit more drastic. I’m not sure I want to see the next sign I’ll be sent if I don’t take this obvious direction!

I also align myself with the belief that the reason you should detach from the outcomes of your goals, or the “how to’s” to get there, is because the Universe has much bigger and more unique plans than you can imagine.

I had been holding on for some time at the current location not sure how to grow since the current location is a smaller space with no walk-in traffic in an industrial type area. A desire to stay near my current student base adds to the equation, as does the excellent rent. When the news of my two locations closing hit me, it was then that I emotionally detached from the outcome and the “how to” grow. Perhaps it was simply that I surrendered and perhaps that’s what the Universe was looking for me to do all along. If the perspective new location appointment I had set up wasn’t a blinking neon sign, then I didn’t know what was! I decided to go with the flow downstream vs. fight it upstream. (More on that later in the Chakrascope section!)

My new location is not necessarily near my old one, but it is in a very high traffic area with excellent rent. It’s also closer to my residence and in an area I’ve always personally considered one of my favorites in the Cities. I have been affirming that I want to easily find myself in perfect new location that is just right for me. This one has all the earmarks—high traffic, larger space, and excellent rent. The added benefit of less drive time is a bonus. So it is with a full heart that I surrender again to the Universe trusting that it will direct those who will benefit from my offerings appropriately to me. I wish all of my students the joy of exactly what they need for their personal journey.

Look for the signs—they’re there! Yesterday was the first of my classes at the closing studio to have its final class there. I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it through the class without some emotion breaking through. If you’re like me, you might find yourself needing constant reassurance of your choices as you grow. The Universe is only too happy to send you a sign if you are open to receiving them. So look for the signs!

The Yoga Journal email I received that same day was about how massage and yoga go hand in hand as healing modalities. The new location I’m moving to just happens to be a massage studio. I considered this email newsletter a high sign from the Universe reminding me the move was a good one—divine intervention even.

The new location being a massage studio environment will also allow me to slowly expand into working one-on-one with clients using my current training toward a yoga therapy certification. Full disclosure—I have been a bit…um..hesitant to take the leap into pursuing more one-on-one appointments—there’s that tendency of mind to hold on to the comfortable again.

Also on the same day, I ran across an article about Hanuman’s pose reminding me that Hanuman didn’t know he had the power to take the “greatest leap ever taken” until he did it. His love of serving others brought out this unknown power. (The highlighted yoga pose in this newsletter is Anjaneyasana, which is another name for Hanuman and chosen for this very reason.)

As I mentioned my goal to the owner of my new location, I added that I want to “grow into that” as I get more comfortable with it. Within a matter of a few thoughts and sentences, she was thinking of three massage clients she would refer to me.

Apparently, the Universe must want me to grow quickly vs. slowly! “They say” be careful what you wish for—affirming my goals to be in a perfect location, and to continue to grow in my yoga career in the direction best serving those that cross my path has nudged me along to where I am today.

I end every yoga class I teach with an internal prayer: “Perfect God within me, perfect life within me which is God, come forth as expression through me as that which I am.” ~ Derived from a quote from Science of Mind by Ernest Holmes.   Their magazine is one of my perennial favorites too!  Energy follows thought. “Thoughts become things. Choose good ones!” ~ Mike Dooley (Oh please, dear reader, subscribe to his emails—they deliver such heart-felt, wonderful messages personalized with your name. I mention this several times in my newsletters for a reason!)

I had been afraid to say out loud that I want to grow toward more private consultations / one-on-one yoga therapy  as I work toward that 800 hour minimum certification.   I purposely made myself mention it to the new owner so it would be “out there” as a goal with no turning back because I’m afraid. Hanuman reminded me that I, too, have the power within, even in the midst of eternal self-doubt; and yes, I should take the leap and know the net will appear.

You can do that too. Say your goal out loud. Write it down. Make it happenyes I own the book by that title too, by Henriette Anne Klauser. I recommend it highly!

“Henriette Anne Klauser, Ph.D., explains how simply writing down your goals in life is the first step toward achieving them. Writing can even help you understand what you want. (I didn’t necessarily know what I wanted in a “perfect location”.)”

Another great suggestion pertains here from Tara Mohr:

Question the voice that says ‘I’m not ready yet.’ I know, I know. Because you are so brilliant and have such high standards, you see every way that you could be more qualified. You notice every part of your idea that is not perfected yet. While you are waiting to be ready, gathering more experience, sitting on your ideas, our friends referenced in rule five are being anointed industry visionaries, getting raises, and seeing their ideas come to life in the world. They are no more ready than you, and perhaps less. Jump in the sandbox now, and start playing full out. Find out just how ready you are.”

Please see her whole, excellent  blog, Tips for Transformation. 10 Rules for Brilliant Women.

Speaking and writing your goals are the fast track to making them happen. If you don’t zero in on exactly what you desire, how will you find it? If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you get there? If you don’t make plans for your life, others will make plans for you and your life will be filled with other people’s plans. Affirm what you are reaching for—speak it, write it, believe it is happening—and let this help you remember who you are becoming. Put one small intrepid step out there in the direction of your dreams, and watch the Universal wind tunnel carry you off in the direction of your desire! Your life is still unwritten! Write it! Today is where your book begins!

…Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten

Therefore dharma—your life purpose—is action that arises from the feeling of being you. These are the actions that will support and uphold you, actions that support the right use of everything. ~ Dr Swami Shankardev Saraswati and Jayne Stevenson http://www.bigshakti.com/how-to-find-your-life-purpose/

 

24
June

“Greatness isn’t something you should always be chasing. There’s greatness within all of us, and I think that’s what we forget,” ~ Brad Meltzer

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Off-the-Wall Musings
Comments Off on “Greatness isn’t something you should always be chasing. There’s greatness within all of us, and I think that’s what we forget,” ~ Brad Meltzer Tagged with

“My Better Day” newsletter contains tips for your yoga practice, yoga quotes to bring yoga off the mat and into your life, affirmations to brighten your day and motivate, and more!  It is my wish for your well-being that I send this newsletter to help make your day a Better Day!

As a reminder, in response to my reader’s feedback, as well as my own “2012 Intention” to spend less time glued to the computer, I have shortened the newsletter format by eliminating the “Featured Deck and Quote” section, and changing the timing of my newsletter to every two months versus every month.

I continue to stock and sell one of my absolute favorite decks from local artist, Suzanne Vadnais Monson on my product page: http://betterdayyoga.com/products!

In this issue:  Yoga quote, Practice yoga pose, Meditation on the go, Chakrascope, Hand Mudra, Healthy News, Featured Recipe, Favorite Yoga Music / DVD, Happenings at Better Day Yoga LLC, Final Relaxation Quote.

Namasté,

Sandy Krzyzanowski

Founder, Better Day Yoga LLC

“Greatness isn’t something you should always be chasing. There’s greatness within all of us, and I think that’s what we forget,” ~ Brad Meltzer

My last newsletter focused on magic and suggested remembering a magical character you loved as a child. It’s ingrained in our society at a very young age to look up to a hero/heroin in our life. I’ve dwelled on the concept of heroes before. I even gave a speech once in college on the importance of heroes. The lessons brought to us through our heroes are lessons we need to learn, and what better way than via someone we hold in high esteem?

Who do you hold in high esteem? How about yourself?

“Self-esteem is the immune system of the mind and of the spirit.” ~ Lee Pulos, psychologist, entrepreneur and author

As important as the lessons you learn from the heroes in your life, it’s even more important to realize that the real hero in your life is YOU. The longest relationship you’ll ever have is with yourself. Do you look up to yourself? Do you place value in your own advice—better known as your intuition, your gut, or your instincts? How well do you know yourself? Discover your own truth. Discover the hero that resides within.

We often forget that the heroes we look up to are just as real as we are—ordinary people who rose to the occasion. They’re not all comic strip characters, are they?  If they are, well that’s another story! Hopefully, deep down you realize you look up to the characteristics of their moral code.

When cuing Virabhadrasana (Warrior) poses, in particular Warrior II, I often remind my students that Virabhadrasana loosely translates to mean hero. I use the gazing point / drishti for the pose as a focal point to focus on an important goal or intention and suggest that each student “be their own hero” and make their intentions and dreams come true by single-mindedly focusing upon it. Sometimes I include a pulse up and down with the front leg straight and then bent again as you simultaneously raise the arms overhead and then drop them down again—all the while holding your gaze in the same spot over where the front hand’s fingers are pointing toward.  It’s a sort of “calling out” your goals and intentions reminding them you have them in your sites and nothing is going to stop you from attaining them. What you focus on expands, and if done during your meditative, relaxing yoga practice, studies show that you are more receptive to affirmations and intentions. (http://ezinearticles.com/?Practicing-Meditation-and-Affirmations&id=6446268 )

I like to make my cues self-empowering, fostering a belief in oneself. With this in mind, it’s no wonder I was attracted to a compelling article in USA Today by Brian Truitt that re-ignited my curiosity in the subject of heroes once more.

The article was about Brad Meltzer’s website and the t-shirts Brad designed to celebrate six icons. The name of the website hints at the powerful message—ordinary people change the world!

There’s Muhammad Ali’s t-shirt with the phrase “I will never apologize for who I am.” There’s Amelia Earhart with the quote “I know no bounds.” Eleanor Roosevelt’s t-shirt says “I know that an open hand is more powerful than a closed fist.” George Washington’s shirt says “My faith is not just in my country—it’s in us.”

He had me at Lucille Ball. Everyone loves Lucy, don’t they? The front of Lucille Ball’s T-shirt is a cartoon character of Lucille Ball (Brad Meltzer is, among other things, a comic-book writer), and the back is the quote“I know humor can take on anything.”

I’ve read that she found escape from a troubled childhood by entertaining people after she lost her father at the age of three. Troubled childhood? Who knew?  I didn’t know her mother had remarried to a man not fond of children and had Lucy sent to his parents to live while her younger brother was sent to her mom’s parents.  (For the full bio, please see http://www.biography.com/people/lucille-ball-9196958.) She also lived with the pain of rheumatoid arthritis from the time she was diagnosed at 17.

We rarely hear about her rough start in life. She didn’t let it bring her down. Her shows are still watched by millions of viewers yet today, and “her ground-breaking work in the area of comedy paved the way for future stars such as Mary Tyler Moore, Penny Marshall, Cybill Shepard, even Robin Williams.

Her genius did not go unrecognized. During its six-year run, I Love Lucy‘s success was unmatched. For four of its seasons, the sitcom was the number one show in the country. In 1953 the programmed captured an unheard of 67.3 audience share, which included a 71.1 rating for the episode that featured Little Ricky’s birth, a turnout that surpassed the television viewing for President Eisenhower’s inauguration ceremonies.” http://www.biography.com/people/lucille-ball-9196958.

You say you’re a fan of Star Trek and Mission Impossible? Her production company, DesiLu produced the original series. I could go on, but the point is this—she was her own hero. Rest assured, you can do that too! Don’t believe me? I understand that can be a tall order if you haven’t worked up to it. So work up to it!

I’m reading an excellent book right now by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer called Wishes Fulfilled. He uses the quote by Henry David Thoreau—“I have learned, that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” He dwells on the use of the word “imagined” and suggests that this is your sacred, creative space. Never place anything in your imagination that you don’t want to materialize. If you start to notice yourself dwelling on negative thoughts, he suggests you put up a “do not disturb” sign and keep those thoughts out. He reminds you that your imagination is yours and yours alone.

I’ve often quoted Albert Einstein. He is known for the saying “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” Dr. Dyer uses another one that’s appropriate: “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” Envision your everywhere. What does your “everywhere” mean to you?

The Secret by Rhonda Byrne introduced me to the fact that the words “I am” are the two most powerful words in the Universe because whatever you place after those words dictates who you believe you are and who you in fact become. Wayne Dyer uses the “I am” teachings heavily in this book reminding us that in the bible, God tells us his name is “I am that I am.” He so eloquently points out that “Every time you put a non-God descriptor after I am, you negate your Divine nature. The words I am are your sacred identification as God—your highest self.”  Check out your inner voice. What kind of descriptors do you put after the words “I am”? Remember you can “work up to it”. None of us are perfect! Take the opportunity to laugh at yourself from time to time as you continue to do the “work”. Soon you’ll be to the point where you won’t doubt your inner greatness and all of your “I am” messages will be just what you mean them to be.

So embody Lucille Ball’s mantra for life and know that humor can take on anything. Perhaps it’s when you are least inclined to laugh that you need to the most. I like the quote: “The inside you needs the outside you to take care of you.” I’ve used it often in my classes, but am not taking credit for the quote. Some wonderful soul gave it to me. I just can’t locate the source.

Not only is it healthy to learn to laugh at yourself, it’s very healthy to learn to laugh whenever you can; and if you can’t, fake it. There’s healing in laughter. “…laughing lowers blood pressure, reduces stress hormones, increases muscle flexion, and boosts immune function by raising levels of infection-fighting T-cells, disease-fighting proteins called Gamma-interferon and B-cells, which produce disease-destroying antibodies. Laughter also triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, and produces a general sense of well-being.” http://www.holisticonline.com/Humor_Therapy/humor_therapy_benefits.htm

Have you tried a laughter yoga class before? “I went to a seminar on laughter yoga, and I felt elated for hours later. I didn’t have any pain,” When you combine laughter and breathing, there’s healing there. ~ Jody Ross, certified yoga laughter leader. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/06/laughter-yoga-benefits_n_1478960.html?ref=healthy-living

Looking back on your life, what was something that came to you as a negative, but helped you develop one of your best skills?

Did the back injury bring you to a career in healing that makes you happier than you’ve ever been? Did the failed business bring you to a crossroads that changed your direction into a better opportunity? Did losing your job open up an opportunity to go back to school for what you really want to do? Did the love of your life leaving you make you realize loving yourself can carry you through?

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ~ Thomas A. Edison.

Just as the oyster polishes the grain of sand into a pearl and the piece of polished coal becomes a diamond, your life lessons can be used to catapult you into finding something greater, or they can beat you down—only you decide—no one else. Be your own hero! Live your life and overcome any trials, discomfort or pain!

When you are focused on what’s inside of you, your core, you gather your inner reserve and can accomplish whatever you set your mind on. You can achieve balance, in physical yoga postures as in life, by one-pointed focus on your core power. If you’ve had a stressful day (week, month, year), balance will be illusive—both physically and mentally.

Single-minded focus on a spot (goal/intention) that doesn’t move (drishti), and adding extra root lift/lock (mula bhanda) and belly lock (uddiyana bhanda) adds more groundedness.

Translation?

Single-minded focus on your goal or intention with extra emphasis on connecting to your inner guidance and your special talents will keep you grounded. Finding out what your special talents are is your personal mission. Getting to know yourself and setting meaningful personal goals and intentions is a continual life-time process. That’s a yoga lesson from the mat.

It is through your own “hero’s journey” that you become your own hero. “According to folklorists and other narrative scholars, the hero’s journey forms the basic template for all great stories. Described at length in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, the hero’s journey serves as the tale every culture tells. The journey’s path is described variously, but in general it includes the call to adventure, a supernatural aide or mentor, initiation by trials and adventures, victory, and return. Many fiction- and screen-writing courses focus on the hero’s journey, and its universality can easily be seen in fairy tales and other traditional tales (like Moses and the Prodigal son in the bible), as well as in such popular culture offerings as J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and George Lucas’ Star Wars.” http://www.cramster.com/definitions/heros-journey/553.

What is your “call to adventure”? What has been your initiation by trial? Write your own great story. Find your own victory. Inspire yourself. Discover your own truth. Laugh when you want to cry, believe in your own power—the power of one:

“When you realize your own magnificence, you will attract magnificence into your life.” ~ Anita Moorjani
(From the book, Wishes Fulfilled. Mastering The Art of Manifesting. By Dr. Wayne Dyer.)

29
February

“Create your own magical realities and when truth comes and knocks on your door you can invite her into your enchanted world.” ~ Sweetpea fairy

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Off-the-Wall Musings
Comments Off on “Create your own magical realities and when truth comes and knocks on your door you can invite her into your enchanted world.” ~ Sweetpea fairy Tagged with

“My Better Day” newsletter contains tips for your yoga practice, yoga quotes to bring yoga off the mat and into your life, affirmations to brighten your day and motivate, and more!  It is my wish for your well-being that I send this newsletter to help make your day a Better Day!

As a reminder, in response to my reader’s feedback, as well as my own “2012 Intention” to spend less time glued to the computer, I have shortened the newsletter format by eliminating the “Featured Deck and Quote” section, and changing the timing of my newsletter to every two months versus every month.

I continue to stock and sell one of my absolute favorite decks from local artist, Suzanne Vadnais Monson on my product page: http://betterdayyoga.com/products!

In this issue:  Yoga quote, Practice yoga pose, Meditation on the go, Chakrascope, Hand Mudra, Healthy News, Featured Recipe, Favorite Yoga Music / DVD, Happenings at Better Day Yoga LLC, Final Relaxation Quote.

Namasté,

Sandy Krzyzanowski

Founder, Better Day Yoga LLC

“Create your own magical realities and when truth comes and knocks on your door you can invite her into your enchanted world.” ~ Sweetpea fairy

Growing up, my favorite “magic portal” was behind the big mirrored dresser in my bedroom. For a time, it was at an angle in the corner, creating a magical space behind the dresser to be out of sight, dream, doodle, pray, and just “be”. I’d relish the awe-inspiring trinkets I had placed in a whimsical, Folger’s coffee can. My can had a pink elephant on it and that touched my whimsy and made me smile (http://www.flickr.com/photos/neatocoolville/366368942/lightbox/). I can’t remember what was in the can, but I will always remember that can! Entry into my magic corner was through the opening between the dresser where the seat usually stayed. When no one was looking, I’d crawl underneath the large round mirror and “let the magic begin”! It was my own little world, my own corner, my own magic.

Where was your magic portal? The fort you made with blankets? A walk-in closet? Under the bed? A quiet place in the nearby woods? Perhaps it was a magical attic? (Ahhhh, but my regular readers know I have my own magic attic at Krista Artista’s Gallery where I teach Thursday evenings…asked and answered as to just why this is one of my favorite places. The awe-inspiring trinkets are in this wonderful, whimsical store. The Pied Piper couldn’t have done a better job than Krista has in creating a place to draw you in. Needing some magical trinkets of your own? Inquire within Krista Artista’s!)

Why do you think children like to make forts? Why do you think adults remember them fondly? Come on, secretly you still wish for that kind of place to retreat to, don’t you? Perhaps you’ve already created one. Do we ever really “grow up” in the sense that we no longer desire feelings of awe? Are we ever really too old to wonder?

“We do not quit playing because we grow old; we grow old because we quit playing.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes.

“Don’t let an old person move into your body.” ~ Jim Donovan.

If you let go of the desire for awe, please excuse me as I let out a gasp of dismay for you. I guarantee you still feel a magical calling whenever your brand of whimsy presents itself. You may not know just why you enjoyed reading the Harry Potter series, or just why a trip to Disneyland still excites you—albeit “for the kids”, of course. What is it about the sparkles of firecrackers that turn even the sternest among us into a giggling child? Come on—there’s at least one holiday tradition that you can’t live without during the winter months, isn’t there? Why is that? It’s knowing your props, your triggers, that help you create your magic inside.  It’s still there you know—your belief in magic.

“When was the last time you had a conversation with the moon? Or made a wish on a falling star? Held hope from a string of delicate things. When was the last time you got lost in an enchanted wood?” ~ A Knock at the door by Angi Sullins and Silas Toball of Duirwaigh, Inc.


Elves have been known to live in the roots of trees
Gooseberry Falls, MN

We all want to clap when asked if we believe in fairies…because it would be so very cool if they existed. Forget about what you currently deem possible to believe. Let that go for the moment. Can you at least admit how very cool it would be? First, let the idea of possibility in—then the magic will feel welcome to manifest.

“For the world is full of zanies and fools who don’t believe in sensible rules and won’t believe what sensible people say. And because these daft and dewey-eyed dopes keep building up impossible hopes impossible things are happening every day!  It’s Possible!” ~ Rodgers And Hammerstein Lyrics Impossible

Do you believe in fairies? … If you believe clap your hands. ~ from Peter Pan by James M. Barrie

You may laugh at the mere mention of believing, but it’s in the believing that the magic is allowed to enter. Are you too old to believe? Do you believe magic is only for the young? I guess you get what you believe, then, don’t you?

I’m not young enough to know everything. ~ James M. Barrie

Why is it so much easier to accept the concept of belief allowing creation to make itself manifest when it’s used in business?

“Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right. “ ~ Henry Ford

 Why not simply be curious enough to know you don’t know everything and believe anything’s possible?

“You’ll see it when you believe it.” ~ Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

“There is nothing that cannot happen today.” ~ Mark Twain

There are numerous “magic mirror portals” featured in books and movies. Perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised mine was behind a mirror. There are also numerous uses of cloaks, capes, garments, and jewelry to create their own magic—be it a disappearing act, or a “presto change-o” character-switch to one with more power. Try listening to this song without crying…and nodding in approval…It’s about a boy and his magic cape.

He’s one of those who knows that life is just a leap of faith. Spread your arms and hold your breath, and always trust your cape” ~ Eric Bibb

What is your particular brand of magic? How easily do you open up to it? If you keep putting up walls to something energetically, it will stop trying to reach you. Release to it. Quit fighting it. Why not believe in magic? Why not believe wishes can be made on stars and fairies are always there when you look for them? There are those who believe that magic happens to the extent and in the form you’ll most accept. Sounds like a good tactic. What are you open to?

We call them faerie. We don’t believe in them. Our loss. ~ Charles de Lint
Many people don’t believe in faeries, but if you look real close they’re always there. ~ Torlila

Perhaps all you need are some props like you had as a child. What is a child’s fort if not an adult’s ice house, tent, cabin, fishing boat, garden or meditation corner? Maybe the garden is your favorite place because you sense the quiet energy there, and it feeds your spirit. Maybe the workshop in the garage relaxes you because you’re allowed to create whatever you want, whenever you want. There’s magic in energy, in creating, in being in a relaxed space where you are open to receive. There’s magic in imagining.

Image credit:  valentinadesign

Original & Inspirational Art by artist Valentina Ramos

www.etsy.com/listing/58424412/everything-you-can-imagine-is-real-green

It can be as simple as a magic carpet…My husband and I make it a ritual to hug each morning on the carpet by the sink as the water brews for the coffee. I started calling it our “magic carpet”. Pretty soon, whenever I wanted to conjure up a magical moment, I’d step on that magic carpet with an expectant gaze; and obligingly, my husband would provide the missing ingredient—a hug. There’s absolutely no place else I’d rather be. Before you start to smirk, may I counter by reminding you that my magic is mine—and believe me, hugging my husband of almost 29 years with a romance that grows every single day is magic. Defining the carpet as “our spot” to let the magic in and release to it is our brand of magic. What’s yours? What can you use as your “prop”?

Once in awhile, right in the middle of an ordinary life, love gives us a fairy tale. ~ Author Unknown

Foolish, you say? Do you think we actually need the carpet to hug? Of course not! But do you think having the carpet as the instigator helps create the magic?  The answer is a resounding “yes”! A batch of playfulness helps as well. Laughter attracts magic in countless ways.

Why is a “prop” to create your own magic any different than a prop used in plays or movies to create a more believable scene? If it helps you believe, it helps create the magic, right? Think about it.  What is the definition of a placebo if not the deep belief that you’re able to heal with it? This generates the pharmaceuticals needed by your body to heal. It isn’t a hoax…it’s a healing. Those that say “it’s all in your mind” like it’s a bad thing aren’t getting it. Are they? Yes! It is all in your mind! Your mind is where the healing begins! Your mind is also where the magic begins!

“…only as long as you do not understand, is it a secret. And, indeed, do not all mysteries and miracles only appear so, in so far as we may not understand how they arise or occur?” ~Yoga Nidra: A Meditative Practice for Deep Relaxation and Healing, by Richard Miller.

One of my friends sent me a fairy door for Christmas. Yes, you heard me—a fairy door. It’s an immediate whimsy-instigator. A fairy door (a magic portal to the world of the wee folk)… All I have to do is look at it and know like I know like I know there’s something magical waiting to make its presence known, one of these times, when I open that door. There’s magic in expecting.

Attached to the fairy door is a note which reads:  “I’m just a simple Fairy Door. No promises I make. But if in fact a Fairy comes, she’ll know this is her place.” Inside it says “Fair Door Enchantment Ideas: Hide small trinkets and treasures like a shell, feather, shiny stone or pennies in your Fairy Door to encourage Fairies and imagination. Fairy Doors are usually placed in an out of sight or secret place.” Now, doesn’t that describe to a “T” my magic portal behind the mirrored dresser—right down to the trinkets and treasures? And doesn’t that totally substantiate my suggestion to let the magic know when and where it is welcome?

Here are some suggestions from last year’s March newsletter for allowing magic in:

So are you open to viewing the world a bit outside the box to allow for some magic?  Here are some ways to open to the magic, straight from Ted Andrews Enchantment of the Faerie Realm book:

“Laughter is always an open invitation.  Wherever stories are being told, those of this realm will usually gather to listen.  Simple and sincere music and song are always attractive to those of this realm.  These joyful spirits will often gather where children play and in any area in which nature is allowed to grow free—even if only a small section within your own back yard.  Wherever there is ceremony, joy and color, these beings will be found.” And a partial list to add to those not covered above to invite their presence into your life:

  1. Spend time in nature.
  2. Meditate while sitting under trees around lakes, etc.
  3. Have plants and flowers inside your house or apartment
  4. Be cognizant of the abuses of nature and do your part to clean it up and reverence it.
  5. Involve yourself in some creative activity on a regular basis.  You don’t have to be an expert in it, but enjoyment of any creative activity will draw those of the faerie realm.
  6. Leave an area in your yard to grow wild so that the faeries can play freely.
  7. Be generous in your dealings with others.
  8. Keep the child in you alive.

I’ve also read that practicing meditation and yoga weekly, daily if you can, to boost your spirituality and enhance your mind is another way to prepare for the magic.  Practicing outside so you can be one with nature is even better.

To all unbelievers still reading, please re-read the list above. At the very least you’ll have spent time outside, added meditative moments to your life, created something you enjoy, added friends and spread smiles through your generosity, and giggled more than you used to. If that isn’t creating magic in your own life, I don’t know what is. So what’s so bad about that?

(Full disclosure: Revisit last year’s March post which documents my own fairy sighting…enough said.)

Start a “Coincidence Journal” documenting lucky opportunities and watch the magic multiply! Once you’ve starting writing down your idea of synchronicity, you’ll see—the magic will feel welcome and know you’re open to more. Who doesn’t blossom when they’re noticed? http://stress.about.com/od/journaling/a/coincidence.htm

Still not sure what your particular brand of magic is? When was the last time you went some place for a couple of hours just to be there?  THAT is your answer! And if you haven’t experienced wanting to go somewhere just to be there for a couple of hours, then perhaps try slowing your life down a bit once in awhile to let stillness in.

~

Where magic is concerned, there is always an initial decision, an initial willingness to let it enter your life. If that is not there neither is magic. ~ Neil Gaiman

Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it. ~ Roald Dahl

That’s the thing with magic. You’ve got to know it’s still here, all around us, or it just stays invisible for you. ~ Charles de Lint

“If you do not believe in magic, your life will not be magical.  Magic, like the power of Stonehenge, is part of the unknowable—that which you cannot describe, but which exists and makes your life extraordinary.” –The Power Deck, The Cards of Wisdom, by Lynn V. Andrews.

~

Now I ask you—do you think a child was able to create the fairy door gift I received, market it, and sell it? Or do you think there are some “in the know” grown-ups out there who believe in the magic? Remember a grown-up bought it and gave it to me…although jury’s out as to whether I’m growing up. Think that fairy tales are for the naïve and foolish and not for intelligent people?

 “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” ~ Albert Einstein

You decide which type of adult you want to be—the kind that doesn’t let the magic in, or the type that fosters it every chance they can get! Don’t worry if you’re already grown-up and didn’t have the opportunity to indulge in fairy tales as a child. There’s still time!

It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. ~ Tom Robbins

Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. ~ C. S. Lewis

Look at your life through the eyes of the child you used to be—full of wonder and curiosity and unscathed by preconceived notions. Daily routines and stress can squeeze the spontaneity right out of you. Keeping your nose to the grindstone and never looking up to notice the subtleties of life will choke your inner child’s magic.

Was there a movie, play, or song you enjoyed as a child that made you feel that anything—even magic—was possible? Perhaps it was a place, or a costume. (For more on the magic of costumes and other outward props, take a peek at my October 20ll newsletter). Perhaps there’s a magical character you loved as a child? They’re still waiting!


Statue of Merlin in Sedona, AZ

Revisit past joys. I can’t watch The Lion King, Darby O’ Gill and the Little People, Miracle on 34th Street, Brigadoon, The Wizard of Oz, or Cinderella without letting the magic in; and I can’t go for a swing in the park with eyes closed and not feel like the world is my oyster!

Image Credit:  Aimee Stewart of Duirwaigh, Inc.

So gather your particular brand of props, and realign your beliefs to allow for possibility. Just approach the idea for now if it seems a bit over the top. First you have to approach, then you allow, then you believe; and suddenly, you won’t remember why you didn’t believe your whole life. “Magic?” you’ll ask. “Why of course I believe in magic, it’s only logical, isn’t it?”

If at first, the idea is not absurd, then there is no hope for it.  ~Albert Einstein

“Logic only gives man what he needs… Magic gives him what he wants.” ~ Tom Robbins

Science is a way of talking about the universe in words that bind it to a common reality. Magic is a method of talking to the universe in words that it cannot ignore. ~ Neil Gaiman


Reach for the stars!
Image Credit: Author Gilles Tran & Jaime Vives Piqueres

30
December

Always try to see life around ya as if you’d just come out of a tunnel.” ~ Jefferson Smith (Jimmy Stewart) quoting his dad in the movie, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Off-the-Wall Musings
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“My Better Day” newsletter contains tips for your yoga practice, yoga quotes to bring yoga off the mat and into your life, affirmations to brighten your day and motivate, and more!  It is my wish for your well-being that I send this newsletter to help make your day a Better Day!

My primary goal for 2012 is to continue to share the transformative power of yoga and wellness with you. Can you help me with this goal? Here are a few ways that you could help:

  1. If you have enjoyed my offerings this past year including classes or newsletters, please let me know via an email testimonial or suggest new ways to improve my offerings.
  2. Spread the joy and wisdom of yoga and wellness by sharing my newsletters with friends and family
  3. If your company is interested in an on-site program, please inquire for details.  Better Day Yoga LLC offers On-Site Corporate programs like Yoga,  Meditation/Breathwork, and “At-the-desk” classes to fit your budget and benefit the physical and mental health of your employees.  Let’s talk about the many benefits to both the employer and employee that Corporate On-Site Programs offer.

In response to reader feedback, as well as my own “New Years Intention” to spend less time glued to the computer, I am shortening the format by eliminating the “Featured Deck and Quote” section, and changing the timing of my newsletter to every two months versus every month. If I have something important to relay to you, I’ll send a dedicated email vs. a full newsletter, if need be, on the off months.

I will continue to stock and sell one of my absolute favorite decks from local artist, Suzanne Vadnais Monson on my product page!  I hope you’ve enjoyed these highlights for the past two years and found them useful! Thanks for your continued interest!

In this issue:  Yoga quote, Practice yoga pose, Meditation on the go, Chakrascope, Hand Mudra, Healthy News, Featured Recipe, Favorite Yoga Music / DVD, Happenings at Better Day Yoga LLC, Final Relaxation Quote.

Namasté,

Sandy Krzyzanowski

Founder, Better Day Yoga LLC

“Have you ever noticed how grateful you are to see daylight again after coming through a long dark tunnel? Always try to see life around ya as if you’d just come out of a tunnel.”

~ Jefferson Smith quoting his dad in the movie, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, as played by Jimmy Stewart.

I love this month’s yoga quote. First off, I simply adore Jimmy Stewart. I always have. I know I’m not the only one. I also love that this is a quote Jimmy’s character remembers from his dad. I think each of us has some words of wisdom or piece of advice given to us by someone special that brings us strength when we recall it.

The favorite one from my dad is similar to one YOU might recall Winston Churchill having said. “Never, never, never give up.” I think my dad said to never, never, never quit. I’m sure my dad didn’t know this was a famous quote from Winston Churchill when he shared it with me. I mean, Winston Churchill doesn’t have the corner on telling someone not to give up, right? This quote from my father has carried me through many trying times and continues to be a source of comfort and willpower.

Jimmy Stewart’s quote is a unique reminder to appreciate and celebrate life—each and every precious, moment. Sometimes the stress in our lives makes us feel like we are in a tunnel, unable to see anything but the darkness of the moment.

By adopting a view of life as if you have always just come out of a tunnel, you learn to have what many Zen meditation books refer to as “beginner’s mind”. Beginner’s mind means you have no preconceived notions about what you are experiencing. It’s all fresh and new. Every day and everything in it is a new experience waiting to be enjoyed.

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.” ~ Shunryu Suzuki-Roshi

If we had no preconceived notions about how things “should” be, we’d simply let things “be”. There would be no comparisons to an idealized perfection. Remember it’s our thoughts that dictate our reaction to a situation—good or bad. “It is what it is.” It is neither good nor bad. Adopting this attitude gives you a better chance to take on anything in your life. If you don’t label it as a stressor, maybe, just maybe, it won’t stress you. You can view the light at the end of the tunnel in two ways: as a reminder that “this too shall pass”, or as a possible oncoming train. Only you can decide.

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so”. ~ William Shakespeare

With a beginner’s mind, you have many possibilities available to you on your journey in life. You are not your age, your job title, your physique, or your possessions. When you are not defined by those things, you can be or do whatever you decide. When you don’t label yourself as good or bad, better or worse, too this or too that, you have unlimited potential. When you appreciate all of it, you have unlimited joy.

I’d read a story once about a mother who’d gone through tough times. She was out of a job, and had no money to pay rent. Rather than view her life as being in turmoil, she viewed it as having full potential because she was free—totally free—to do whatever she wanted to do. She shared a proud parent moment later in the book when her young adult son experienced several setbacks at once and announced his sudden realization that he, too, was “totally free!” What a gift she gave her son, and what a lesson to share in her book.

Perhaps it’s the time of year that invites seeing your “ordinary” life with fresh eyes. It’s a clean slate and a “do over” opportunity as we start a new year. Just as you don’t need Christmas or the holiday season to create the magic that always resides within, deep down you don’t need a date on a calendar to clean your slate or declare a “do over”! We are all always “totally free” to do whatever we want to in our lives. Sometimes it takes hard times to realize it. Why not realize it regardless of life circumstance?

If this time of year gives you a “clean slate” feeling, why not take advantage of that impetus? Accomplishment is fostered by the feelings and beliefs you hold inside. So run with it! With beginner’s mind, your mantra is always “begin again!” No matter what life hands you, begin again!

 “Live …like someone left the gate open!” ~ Christine Jobe’s Photos

 

 

I think I will…Happy New Year!

30
October

“All my life’s a circle; Sunrise and sundown; Moon rolls thru the nighttime; Till the daybreak comes around..” ~ Harry Chapin

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Off-the-Wall Musings
Comments Off on “All my life’s a circle; Sunrise and sundown; Moon rolls thru the nighttime; Till the daybreak comes around..” ~ Harry Chapin Tagged with

Each month, “My Better Day” newsletter contains tips for your yoga practice, yoga quotes to bring yoga off the mat and into your life, affirmations to brighten your day and motivate, and more!  It is my wish for your well-being that I send this newsletter to help make your day a Better Day!

In this issue:  Yoga quote, Practice yoga pose, Meditation on the go, Chakrascope, Hand Mudra, Featured Card Deck and Quote, Healthy News, Featured Recipe, Favorite Yoga Music / DVD, Happenings at Better Day Yoga LLC, Final Relaxation Quote.

Namasté,

Sandy Krzyzanowski

Founder, Better Day Yoga LLC

“All my life’s a circle; Sunrise and sundown; Moon rolls thru the nighttime; Till the daybreak comes around..” ~ Harry Chapin

In my recent meditation workshop, I highlighted “spinning” as a moving meditation.  The “Whirling Dervishes from the Sufis, such as Rumi, were known for this.  Perhaps the best known dance mediation is the Whirling Dervish from the Sufis.  See the Chakra Meditation book by Swami Saradananda for a “whirling meditation” to activate the solar plexus chakra.  The Five Tibetans by Peter Kelder also has spinning “rite” to stimulate, or speed up, the vortexes/chakras/energy centers in the body.

(Side note for those of you that are unsure of what a “chakra” is—here’s a reprint of the opening paragraph in my “Chakrascope” section below for a quick primer: The rainbow-colored spheres within my logo are representative of the chakra system within the body.

There are seven energy centers called chakras (literally “wheels”) that store energy/life force/prana.  They are along the spinal column and correlate to major nerve ganglia branching forth from the spinal column. Each has a different relationship to a gland in the body’s endocrine system. Each stimulates different organs and systems in the body. Hatha Yoga activates these energy centers releasing the energy that flows through the spine. Yoga helps these energy centers/nerve bundles to function correctly clearing blocks that may be there. Each chakra also is associated with a mental/emotional focus.)

The Five Tibetans by Peter Kelder promotes clockwise circles to stimulate the chakras/vortexes—that’s spinning from left to right. He even goes so far as to explain it one step further—“if you put a clock on the floor face up, you would turn in the same direction as the clock hands.” This is only one of the five “rites” you perform to get the energy centers (chakras) spinning normally again which is said to bring back and maintain your youthful health and vitality. The Chakra Meditation book by Swami Saradananda promotes an anticlockwise rotation of your body and focuses on using it to stimulate the solar plexus chakra—the gravitational center of your body and the center of your self worth.

I can’t explain or vouch for one direction of spin over the other except to say I have practiced the “Five Tibetans” and there was a definite effect. Let’s just say that my physical body told me something was indeed happening. That was enough for me. While I’ve read that healthy, unblocked chakras typically spin in the clockwise direction, I’ve also read that some believe the spin can change direction depending on whether you are male or female.

When I pointed the two spinning directions out as possible methods of moving meditations in my workshop, a Native American student in my class pointed out that there is “something to the direction” we take in circles. She shared that in her tribe you enter a burial ceremony walking in a counter-clockwise direction so the spirit of the recently deceased would know not to continue forward and that it was time to return to their source. It’s meant to bring peace to all.

I think modern society takes geometric shapes for granted. Had I known the rich history geometry has, I would have been a whole lot more interested in it the first time I encountered it in school! I know there is to be a “separation of church and state”, but I think it’s the magic of the spiritual that makes a subject come to life. Had they even alluded to the beginnings of geometry being “sacred geometry”, I know I would have paid more attention.

The circle, the triangle and the square “are believed to be the first symbols that were taught to man by priests over 25,000 years ago. At one level they represent sun (‘Circle and the One God’), earth (‘Square: the Earthly Mother’), and fire (‘Triangle: the Will’); at another they symbolize the base (crimson), the sacral (flame orange) and the solar (flame yellow) energy chakras. These are the chakras of the Lower (material and physical) self.” Harmony Angel Cards by Angela McGerr. (The base chakra in the second example is equal to the square, the sacral chakra is equal to the circle, and the solar (plexus) chakra is equal to the triangle.)

To encompass all the aspects of circles in our current and ancient history would be more than could be covered in a mere newsletter. This is my humble “spin”, if you will, on the magic contained within the circle.

The circle is the birthplace of all geometric shapes and patterns. The creation of the “line” was born when a second circle was made using any point on the circumference of the first as the center of the second circle. Connect the two points and you have a line. Connect the circles centers with each other and with the point above where the circles cross and you have a triangle. I could go on. You get the idea.

Literally, it is within the overlapping intersection of circles, referred to as the vesica piscis, that geometric shapes take their form. The vesica piscis is considered the “womb” within which all geometric patterns develop. The vesica piscis has had mystical and religious significance throughout history being associated with Freemasonry, some forms of the Kabbalah, and it is even referenced in the Gospel of John regarding Jesus’ miraculous catch of fish. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vesica_piscis

Why does such mysticism surround geometric shapes? Because the ancients considered geometry as sacred. Geometric patterns and shapes represented the Universe, our Source, our Gods and Goddesses. The triangle, for example, refers to the trinities found in various religions, and even science—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; Mother, Maiden, Crone; Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva; Mind, Body, Spirit; Light, Energy, and Mass. Geometry is nature expressing itself. Nature expressing itself is God expressing itself. So to say the circle is the birthplace of all geometric shapes and patterns is to say the circle represents our Source—the complete Universe. As the quotes that cap both the beginning and the end of my newsletter reflect, the circle represents the cycles of life.

Above the entrance to Plato’s academy in ancient Athens were the words “Let none ignorant of geometry enter here.” The understanding of mathematics was a prerequisite to entering the esteemed academy.

“Geometry existed before the creation” ~ Plato

“Numbers are the sources of form and energy in the world.” ~ Theon of Smyrna (Second Century A.D., Platonist mathematician)

Geometry was held with such high regard that the instruments of geometry were considered elements of the Divine—the compass, straight edge, and pencil. Geometric shapes and patterns were incorporated in art and architecture with the circle symbolizing the number “one”. The circle symbolized stability and oneness. Seated in a circle, we all have equal status, don’t we? The creation of a circle starts with a point in the center using a compass. Consider this—everything starts with a “point”—without a center, it is “pointless”; and, therefore, crumbles.

The circle is considered a sacred space:

  • “The Circle Christian Symbol represents eternity. The circle symbolizes eternity as it has no beginning or end. Because of this many early Christians believed that there was something divine in circles. Early Astronomy and astrology was connected to the divine for most medieval scholars, the circular shape of the sun, moon and the planets were related to God’s act of Creation. The following image shows the use of a compass to create the perfect circle. And a bright ring, or circle, is used (halo or aureole) to surround the heads of saints and the whole bodies of other holy persons.” http://www.catholic-saints.info/catholic-symbols/circle-christian-symbol.htm

Circle in Christian Art
Image Credit: http://www.catholic-saints.info/catholic-symbols/circle-christian-symbol.htm

 

  • “The medicine wheel is a sacred symbol used by Plains tribes and others to represent all knowledge of the universe.
    The medicine wheel consists of a circle with horizontal and vertical lines drawn through the circle’s center. Sometimes, an eagle feather is attached in the wheel’s center.Design MeaningCircle -The circle represents the sacred outer boundary of the Earth often referred to as the Sun Dance Circle or the Sacred Hoop. It represents the continuous pattern of on-going life and death.

    Lines- The horizontal and vertical lines represent the sun and man’s sacred paths, respectively; the crossing of the two lines indicates the center of the Earth where one stands when praying.

    Feather -The eagle feather is a sign of Wakan Tanka’s – the Great Spirit’s – power over everything.” To read more about the medicine wheel and the colors of the four directions, go to http://www.aktalakota.org/index.cfm?cat=1&artid=47


Image Credit: http://www.crystalinks.com/medicinewheel.html

  • Medicine wheels, or sacred hoops, were constructed by laying stones in a particular pattern on the ground. Most medicine wheels follow the basic pattern of having a center of stone(s), and surrounding that is an outer ring of stones with “spokes”, or lines of rocks radiating from the center. Some ancient types of sacred architecture were built by laying stones on the surface of the ground in particular patterns common to aboriginal peoples.Originally, and still today, medicine wheels are stone structures constructed by certain indigenous peoples of North America for various astronomical, ritual, healing, and teaching purposes. Medicine wheels are still “opened” or inaugurated in Native American spirituality where they are more often referred to as “sacred hoops”, which is the favored English rendering by some. There are various native words to describe the ancient forms and types of rock alignments. One teaching involves the description of the four directions. More recently, syncretic, hybridized uses of medicine wheels, magic circles, and mandala sacred technology are employed in New Age, Wiccan, Pagan and other spiritual discourse throughout the World.An odd variation sometimes found in medicine wheels is the presence of a passageway, or a doorway, in the circles. The outer ring of stones will be broken, and there will be a stone path leading up to the center of the wheel.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medicine_wheel

(See the “Meditation on the Go” Section below for more on Labyrinths.)

Bighorn medicine wheel in Wyoming
Image credit: http://www.sacredland.org/medicine-wheel/

Geometry is defined as “The mathematics of the properties, measurement, and relationships of points, lines, angles, surfaces, and solids.” http://www.thefreedictionary.com/geometry. As already alluded to, the ancients associated a number with each geometric shape—the circle symbolizing the number one, the line representing the number two, the triangle representing the number three, the square representing the number four, etc. In their effort to understand their Creator, our ancestors analyzed nature’s points, lines, angles, surfaces, and solids because they knew that to know the creator, we only need to look at their creation.

“If you want to understand the Creator, seek to understand created things.” ~ St. Columbanus (c. 543-615).

Pythagoras, the Greek philosopher, felt “numbers to be the ultimate elements of the universe” and established a correlation between mathematics and energy. Churches have been constructed using mystical number systems that the architects believed enhanced an experience of God while within their walls. Egyptians used magical ratios and mystical geometry to construct the pyramids. Incorporating the energy of geometric patterns into their lives was their way of worshiping their Creator—Sacred geometry indeed.

Movement, Spirals, and Spin

The rotation along the circle also mesmerized our ancestors. Going in a clockwise direction, historically, has been considered flowing with the Wheel, or circle, of Life. It was considered the natural flow.

The movement of the sun had significant influence in ancient cultures. The sun’s energy was vital to all life. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west—clockwise. Anything that flowed opposite to this movement was considered negative or unlucky. There are many stories in folklore about counterclockwise movement bringing chaos and loss of power.

Perhaps this is why there is some evidence that traveling west to east (counterclockwise) is more disruptive for most? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jet_lag. Or perhaps this is why UPS drivers find more efficiency by using right turns exclusively in all of their deliveries? http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-03-24/strategy/30081749_1_routes-engineers-map-ups We can only speculate. I’ve read that Native Americans both enter and exit the sweat lodge in a clockwise/”sunwise” direction.

But don’t discount counter-clockwise yet! The Cherokee fire and stomp dance ceremony is done in a counterclockwise direction to keep the heart toward the fire. http://www.cherokeebyblood.com/religion.htm. The earth rotates on its axis in a counterclockwise direction and it is the direction it circles around the sun. Likewise, the moon moves around the earth in a counterclockwise direction as does our solar system in the Milky Way. Our Milky Way is another type of circle, the spiral.


Map of the Milky Way. Image credit: Caltech

“The Spiral is known as an ancient symbol of evolution. One of the oldest symbols of human spirituality in existence, the spiral has been found carved into cave dwellings, rocks and tombs all over the world. It is said to symbolize the evolution of the universe, the never-ending cycles of growth, change and eternal life as well as the cycles of the seasons.

The spiral seems to tell a story about the labyrinthine journey of life and death and speaks of the possibility of rebirth. Each loop of the spiral progresses us to a higher level, yet always returns us to the same place. It demonstrates life renewal by returning to the source.

Spirals are seen in all forms of nature. Shells, plants, galaxies and even human fingertips are just a few of the places that this simple design appears.” http://www.montanadreams.net/symbology/symbols/spir_1.html

“The Celts and other ancient peoples are thought to have used spirals as symbols of the sun, source of all life. (The spiral) reflects the undying energy of the universe—as well as the progress of the soul.” Meditating with Mandalas, by David Fontana.

The spiral can be an analogy for your spiritual path in life. Journeying inward along the spiral, you find your own unique center—your “point” for being in this world at this time. While journeying outward, you experience your life lessons. Just when you think you have mastered one lesson, the spiral teaches you that there is always a next and a next around the bend. We are always journeying, always learning. The journey inward parallels your journey outward. Your progress in one direction fosters the progress in the other direction. It is through life’s lessons that you come to accumulate your inner wisdom. It is through your accumulated inner wisdom that you are better able to understand life’s lessons. This analogy echoes the dual spirals of our DNA containing the traits which make each of us unique.


The structure of part of a DNA double helix
Image credit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNA

Clockwise or counterclockwise? Is one really better, or more natural, than the other? Does one really represent a negative aspect and the other a positive one? I believe it depends on your purpose, and as always, your focus. Both directions have their “best purpose”. Yin/yang; cold/hot; male, female; light, dark—you can’t have one without the other. You can’t have the inhale without the exhale. Polar opposites define each other. Neither is better nor best.

Even if you might associate the right as “positive” and the left as “negative”, consider that we turn jar tops and other containers to the right (clockwise) to “close” and to the left (counterclockwise) to “open”. Do you associate “closing” as a positive or negative? How about “opening”? They are polar opposites. Both are required for the lids to function as intended. Neither is “good” or “bad”.

When I wrote about using my “singing Tibetan bowls” to clear the chakras, I referenced using the clockwise direction to align the chakras and the counterclockwise direction to clear any blocks. This is similar to the Reiki (energy work) spiral symbol, known as Cho Ku Rei. The counterclockwise spin decreases and disperses energy, removing blocks; and the clockwise direction increases energy. Both directions have their positive aspects. It’s all in how you define it.

“For every action there is an equal but opposite reaction.” ~ Sir Issac Newton

Wish you could retake your high school geometry class now? I didn’t think so, but it’s my hope that perhaps you’ll look twice at nature’s designs and ponder along with your ancestors.

“Even the seasons form a great circle in their changing, and always come back to where they were. The life of a man is in a circle from childhood to childhood and so it is in everything where power moves. Our teepees were round like the nests of birds, and these were always set in a circle, the nation’s hoop.” ~ Black Elk.

“All my life’s a circle;
Sunrise and sundown;
Moon rolls thru the nighttime;
Till the daybreak comes around.

All my life’s a circle;
But I can’t tell you why;
Season’s spinning round again;
The years keep rollin’ by.

It seems like I’ve been here before;
I can’t remember when;
But I have this funny feeling;
That we’ll all be together again.

No straight lines make up my life;
And all my roads have bends;
There’s no clear-cut beginnings;
And so far no dead-ends.

Chorus:
I found you a thousand times;
I guess you done the same;
But then we lose each other;
It’s like a children’s game;

As I find you here again;
A thought runs through my mind;
Our love is like a circle;
Let’s go ’round one more time.

Chorus ”

Lyrics From The Harry Chapin Archive at Harrychapin.com

(This is my favorite version of this absolutely beautiful song by one of my favorite songwriters, Harry Chapin.)

30
September

“That’s the thing with magic. You’ve got to know it’s still here, all around us, or it just stays invisible for you.” ~ Charles de Lint

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Newsletter, Off-the-Wall Musings
Comments Off on “That’s the thing with magic. You’ve got to know it’s still here, all around us, or it just stays invisible for you.” ~ Charles de Lint Tagged with

Each month, “My Better Day” newsletter contains tips for your yoga practice, yoga quotes to bring yoga off the mat and into your life, affirmations to brighten your day and motivate, and more!  It is my wish for your well-being that I send this newsletter to help make your day a Better Day!

In this issue:  Yoga quote, Practice yoga pose, Meditation on the go, Chakrascope, Hand Mudra, Featured Card Deck and Quote, Healthy News, Featured Recipe, Favorite Yoga Music / DVD, Happenings at Better Day Yoga LLC, Final Relaxation Quote.

Namasté,

Sandy Krzyzanowski

Founder, Better Day Yoga LLC

“That’s the thing with magic. You’ve got to know it’s still here, all around us, or it just stays invisible for you.” ~ Charles de Lint

The Renaissance Festival here in Minnesota ended the first weekend of October.  I’ve always considered The Renaissance Festival as my own personal “Brigadoon”.  It’s a magical city that appears for awhile to fill your life with enchantment and then, it’s gone.

I’ve often dwelled on just what makes this place and time seem so magical.  Let’s see.  You get to don a costume/persona of your choice, if you care to, act like a fool and go unnoticed—or better yet, get noticed AND enjoy it.  What’s more, you’re surrounded by people in a light-hearted, jovial mood because letting down your barriers lightens the load for everyone.

This year I had the unsurpassed joy of going twice!  As I was planning to attend the fair for a second weekend, a surge of unquenchable joy rose within as I realized—I GET TO WEAR MY PURPLE FEATHERS TWICE!  Oh joy upon joys!  (You see, I just expect you to humor me here, but that’s the point!)  Wearing a hat made of purple feathers goes with the territory, is totally acceptable, and is just plain fun!  When you are filled with childlike excitement, do you really care who approves?  Should you?  No way!

First let’s talk about the color purple—rich, royal, magical, deep purple.  How can anyone NOT look better with that addition?  I swear it gives me magical powers when I put them on.  You all know I believe in magical beings (just like the Irish and my research showed) from my March newsletter (http://betterdayyoga.com/tag/march-2011).  So it should come as no surprise to my regular readers that my purple feather wreath seems to embody faerie magic.  Yes, you heard me.

Ted Andrews book, Animal Speak, confirms the magic of feathers. This book introduces you to the personal messages nature’s creatures are trying to deliver when they make their appearance known.

Feathers represent the energy of flight since they’re required for birds to fly.  “When a feather comes into your possession, it can help give lift to some area of our life.” They connect us to the energy of the bird they come from, but also to the energy of the air.

The elements (earth, air, water, fire, ether—there are other versions of the elements as well) are associated the “Faerie Realm.”  The air element is associated with the power of your communication, your voice, your mind. Feather goose quills were one of the early writing instruments. Through feathers, we bring the spirits of the air into our life. So it should come as no surprise that my purple feather wreath brought some faerie magic along with it!

Ted Andrews reminds us that every feather is a fetish—or charm where mystical, magical powers reside.  They remind us of the energy we are aligning with connecting us to the more ethereal energies of life.  Through this alignment, we receive direction on how to bring our wishes into reality. (See the “Answer Feather” in the bullets at the end.)

“Logic only gives man what he needs… Magic gives him what he wants.” ~ Tom Robbins

Have you watched the movie Field of Dreams?  Ray Kinsella, played by Kevin Costner, doesn’t want to believe he’s hearing voices, let alone that they’re telling him to build a baseball diamond in the middle of his cash corn crop.  He fights the magic because we are all told magic is make-believe. But if you believe it, and believing it allows magic to come into your life, why fight it? 

The baseball diamond becomes a magical place where the ghosts of Shoeless Joe Jackson and the other seven Chicago Black Sox players banned from the game for throwing the 1919 World Series appear to play baseball.  They enter the baseball diamond from the cornfield that is on the perimeter of the baseball diamond, and they exit the same way, disappearing into the stalks of corn as they walk in.  The mantra from this film is the message “if you build it they will come”.

So if you build or create welcoming ground for magic to manifest, it will come.  Not maybe, not as a joke for a short time, but as a constant companion in your life sprinkling faerie dust on everything you do.  You can “will” magic into your life, just like you can “will” distress into it.  There’s that Law of Attraction again.  It doesn’t care what you focus on.  It simply hears your focus, considers it your desire, and creates it.

So when I say that placing the purple feather wreath on my head makes me feel like I embody faerie magic, believe me when I say the day is spent feeling magical and enjoying every last drop of it!  Remember I mentioned dropping the barriers?  Allowing the inhibition of being an “appropriate adult” to fall away is part of letting go of the “shoulds” and grabbing onto the “why nots?”.

Who’s to say that the barrier we wear called “normal” isn’t a mask as much as my magical feather wreath is?  What if the person you are when the barriers are dropped is the “real” you?  When you repress what you are, a vibrational energy is waiting to be expressed that will eventually bubble over.  Why not let the real you out to play in your own way?

“Pretending to be a normal person day after day is exhausting” ~ Suzy Toronto.

“You make a lousy anybody else BUT you are the best “you” in existence!” ~ Zig Ziglar

This year I added an enchanting addition to my magical wreath costume—a one-of-a-kind handmade copper chain necklace containing several copper-wrapped smoky quartz crystals.  While the feather wreath makes me feel magical, this necklace makes me feel like I can RULE THE WORLD! (Said with a loud voice and both hands raised to the sky as I tilt my head back and gaze up acknowledging the source of my power.) It was an early birthday present from my husband.(See the write-up at the end of this opening write-up for where you too can find a magical piece of your own to get your own mojo on—Krista Artista Gallery!)

My Chakrascope section below highlights stones and their energetic benefits.  To take an excerpt from the introductory paragraph below: For those of you unsure on this subject, consider that it’s scientifically proven that everything is energy.  Nothing is really solid.  Why wouldn’t the energy of a stone work effectively with the energy in our bodies just as some research speculates that the energy of computers, cell phones, and microwaves may affect our bodies?  Quartz crystals are used in wristwatches, cell phones, radios and computers for their vibrating factors and precise frequency.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crystal_oscillator

“Smoky quartz is a stone that brings abundance, prosperity, and good luck. Smoky quartz is an excellent stone for removing negativity and negative energy of any kind and transforming them to positive energy. It is also a very protective and grounding stone. It enhances survival instincts, and can help one reach personal and business goals, as well as assisting in making wishes come true.

Emotionally, smoky quartz is excellent for elevating moods, overcoming negative emotions, and relieving depression. Smoky quartz relieves stress, fear, jealousy, anger and other negative emotions by transforming them into positive energies. Smoky quartz is very comforting and calming, and can be considered a stone of serenity.”  http://www.crystalsandjewelry.com/metaphysical_healing/stoneinfo/smokyquartz.html There’s more, but isn’t this already plenty?!

I have to add that when I first saw this necklace, I really had no idea what the energetic benefits “technically” were—I just knew how they made me feel, and had faith that energetic benefits were there.  It’s all good!  Placebo?  Who cares if my belief created the magic or the magic was already there waiting to be sourced.  I judge by end results, don’t you?

So couple this sense of empowerment with the magical faerie energy from the purple feathers, surround it with the whimsical energies of The Renaissance Festival where everyone comes to enjoy letting the child inside out to play, and you have a recipe for an enchanted day!

Did I leap tall buildings with a single bound?  No—but had I wanted to, I’m fairly certain I could have given the opportunity!

“I am fairly certain that given a cape and a nice tiara, I could save the world.” ~ Leigh Standley

Now it’s your turn.  What do YOU need to feel magical or empowered?  How can you drop your “normal” barrier mask so the “real you” can come out?

  • Halloween is the perfect time to experiment with the costume of your choice to embody the energy you are looking for. Consider it a “prop” for the “real” you and let your “ideal” you out! (See my October 2010 newsletter’s chakrascope section for more on costumes. http://betterdayyoga.com/tag/october-2010.)

Isn’t it comforting that the following history of Halloween costumes reminds us of the belief that the good spirits of friends and loved ones know the real you behind the mask, so you’re free to try on your new persona without judgment?

If you haven’t celebrated Halloween in a long time, or if you are curious about Halloween’s history, here’s an interesting background:

“October 31 was the last day of the ancient Celtic year and the Festival of Samhain, the Celtic god of the dead.  As one year became another, the Celts believed, the spirits of the dead could return from the beyond to share joy and happiness with their living loved ones.  Feasting, dancing, and singing celebrated this opportunity.  Enormous bonfires lit the night sky, welcoming revelers and spirits alike.

But fearing that some of the returning spirits might have less than honorable intentions, people often donned masks and costumes to hide their true identities.  The good spirits of departed friends and relatives of course knew those behind the masks and could make contact for a joyous reunion.  The light of dawn, marking the start of the Celtic New Year, recalled the spirits to the spirit world.

In 835 Pope Gregory IV proclaimed that the last day in October was to be known within the Catholic Church as All Hallow’s Eve, or ‘All Holy Evening’. On this date, he decreed, Catholics everywhere were to gather and remember those who had given their lives in the name of their faith.  The next day, November 1, became All Saint’s Day (also called All Soul’s Day), a time to remember all who passed on.

The Catholic Church views this ‘communion of spirits’ as a reminder that there is a continuous link between the souls of the living and the souls of the dead.  Says the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Church’s official teachings, ‘Between them there is an abundant exchange of all good things.’  Various Protestant religions also observe these celebrations.”  The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Communicating with Spirits by Rita S. Berkowitz and Deborah S. Romaine.

Most of us, of course, are simply enjoying some light-hearted fun along with the younger children celebrating the “trick or treat” ritual of free candy and ghost stories around a campfire.  It’s all good!

  • Need a professional photo for your job?  You deserve to have it done right and pay for a full photo shoot where you’re treated like the star you are.  I had to foot the bill for a professional photo at my previous place of employment, so I decided to go for it and never regretted it for a moment!  Have some fun with it!
  • Find your own magical feather. It doesn’t have to be a feather wreath as mine was!  “The Answer Feather is a traditional healing tool for those seeking answers. Pick the feather you are attracted to and keep it with you throughout the day. Thank the feather and release it back to Mother Earth, or cleanse it in the moonlight and use it for another question.” Monague Native Crafts, www.monague.com.
  • Try your hand at dancing—be it in the privacy of your own home with curtains drawn or out in public.  Intimidation be damned!  Dance with complete abandon.  Let the energy of the music move through you.  Let the energy of your inner muse come out!“Music is the strongest form of magic.” ~ Marilyn Manson

I subscribe to receive email messages from Mike Dooley’s “Totally Unique Thoughts from the Universe”. http://www.tut.com/resources/notes/   Here is today’s message since I thought it was synchronistically appropriate.  They never fail to brighten my day!

“How about next time you go to work, the mall, or a labyrinth, you glide, slide, and twirl a bit? Wink, smile, and wave? Dip, bend, and high-five? Strut, saunter, and beam?

Just a bit?

Teeny, tiny?
    The Universe”

  • Looking for something a bit less intimidating to try on?  Try putting a smile on your face even when you don’t feel one.  This is where “fake it ‘til you make it” comes from.  Wearing a smile will create the feeling of the smile—I promise!  Smiling releases your “feel good” endorphins.  (Option to add broad, opened shoulders for a feeling of confidence, and lift your chin up a bit.  There! “Presto changeo!”  A new you!)

Try my new favorite go-to method for peace and ease:

Thich Nhat Hanh suggests using a half-smile technique in his book The Miracle of Mindfulness.  Half-smiling when you first awake along with three deep breaths, when you find yourself sitting or standing anywhere, while listening to music, and when irritated—all with three deep breaths.  Trying it when I’m irritated works for me, calming my mind.  It also surprises the person you’re irritated with!

A smile is an inexpensive way to change your looks.  – Charles Gordy  

  • Thinking of a new hair-do?  Experiment with hair color!  I’ve been swearing I’m going red some day—and slowly have been experimenting with red highlights.

“What makes that 4 percent of the world’s population so dangerously different? And why do so many women suddenly want to be one? According to sources at Clairol and Wella, red is the biggest rising at-home color.

Redheads are supposed to be hard to quell. The Romans considered the Picts to be some of the most mighty warriors they’ve ever faced. And the Picts were always said to have red hair.”  The Roots of Desire by Marion Roach.

I think it’s because women have become comfortable with their power,” Roach says. “What do you do when you’re in a difficult situation? You power up. ‘I now feel that, much like Dorothy’s shoes, I’ve had it on me all the time*.’ And for new redheads, “it’s really OK that you chose it yourself.” (*The author, Roach, is a natural red-head.)

http://www.azcentral.com/ent/pop/articles/0712redhead0712.html

Okay, it occurs to me that the purple feather wreath and the red hair suggestion might make some think of the “when I am old I will wear purple” poem and the reference to red hats.  I have heard that the purple referred to in this poem refers to eccentricity, and the red refers to attitude. I like this description of the book:  “..its declaration of defiance against convention appeals to all those with a secret desire to throw off the strictures of propriety and set out deliberately to shock and be outrageous.”

So yes, go ahead and associate those attributes with me. Who says you need to be “old” to do that?  I will never be old. I will always be that young girl!  Eccentric?  Perhaps.  Attitude?  You bet!  How about you? What do YOU want to be known for?  We could all take a page from Betty White’s page:  http://blog.music.aol.com/2011/10/13/betty-white-im-still-hot-video/

  • KRISTA ARTISTA GALLERY—Home of the “magic attic” where I teach yoga Thursday evenings!  Come find your own magic!
    Wondering where you, too, can get your own one-of-a-kind piece of magical jewelry to get your own personal mojo on?  Krista Artista Gallery in Anoka has the most unique, one-of-a-kind, well-priced jewelry I have ever run across—and that is saying a whole heck of a lot!  Anoka is also the Halloween capital of the world—bonus!To use the language of the Renaissance—“Get thee to Krista Artista’s!  You shan’t regret it!”  Each week Krista has rearranged her wide variety of hand-crafted temptations to make room for more enticing treasures, and I invariably find several pieces that speak to me—loudly! Yes—I hear voices, doesn’t everyone?I believe that the energy of the crafter is contained within the piece.  Maybe that’s why, when I walk into Krista’s store, I am surrounded with an overwhelming feeling of good juju energy.  Perhaps this is where the “magic” in the attic comes from—or perhaps it’s the huge heart of the owner, Krista, who hand picks each and every item in her amazing store.  She has been a blessing in my life hosting my yoga classes for over a year now as well as the meditation workshops I just completed.  Come find your own magic in her store!

    Krista Artista Gallery features the work of more than seventy local artists, with everything from paintings to pottery, woodcuts to woodturnings, jewelry to glass.  Whether you’re looking for a hand-dyed tablecloth, a one-of-a-kind handbag, or something stunning to hang over your sofa, you’ll find it in our fun and friendly shop. http://www.kristaartistagallery.com/

    So how will your magic manifest in your life?  You get to choose.  The power of your transformation lies in the form of your intent.  Intend now to create your own magic.  Remember the magic of the feathers?

    Feathers “remind us constantly that, regardless of appearance, we not only have the capability of flying to new heights, but we each need to do it in the manner that works best for us.” ~ Ted Andrews.

    “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” ~ Roald Dahl 

30
August

“A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is a visible labor and there is an invisible labor.” ~ Victor Hugo

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Off-the-Wall Musings
Comments Off on “A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is a visible labor and there is an invisible labor.” ~ Victor Hugo Tagged with

Each month, “My Better Day” newsletter contains tips for your yoga practice, yoga quotes to bring yoga off the mat and into your life, affirmations to brighten your day and motivate, and more!  It is my wish for your well-being that I send this newsletter to help make your day a Better Day!

In this issue:  Yoga quote, Practice yoga pose, Meditation on the go, Chakrascope, Hand Mudra, Featured Card Deck and Quote, Healthy News, Featured Recipe, Favorite Yoga Music / DVD, Happenings at Better Day Yoga LLC, Final Relaxation Quote.

Namasté,

Sandy Krzyzanowski

Founder, Better Day Yoga LLC

“A man is not idle because he is absorbed in thought. There is a visible labor and there is an invisible labor.” ~ Victor Hugo

The other day I had the unplanned pleasure of watching a favorite old movie, Apollo 13.

I love anything with Tom Hanks in it.  I personally consider him to be a modern day Jimmy Stewart—another personal favorite of mine!  For those of you who don’t know who Jimmy Stewart is, please give yourself a real treat and watch It’s a Wonderful Life.

I enjoyed every minute of Apollo 13 even though I’d watched the movie many times before.  You have to burst with pride for the effort those men went through to have what they described as a “successful failure”.  Tears rolled down my cheeks as the movie ended and suddenly a gift….the credits started rolling without any commercial interruption. (Can you tell I don’t make it to the theaters much?)

I was given the luxury of time to experience the full aftereffect of emotions from an absolutely compelling, real-life story while listening to the Oscar nominated music chosen to compliment the mood.

 

The main title is also excellent:

The end of anything excellent absolutely deserves the punctuation of time to take it all in, to honor it, to revel in it. I would even go so far as to say that if you aren’t taking the time in your life to breathe in between the moments you are missing out on the full experience—that includes all the moments, not just the ones you deem excellent.

I suspect our current mode is to negate the “unproductive” moments as being fluff and dispensable. You have to question the mentality that doesn’t allow for a pause.

Something as simple as allowing yourself the time to dwell on what just happened, or is happening, in your life, be it a movie you just experienced or a moment you want to remember—a spacer of sorts—will give you clarity.  Once you start to make it a practice to take note of your moments, I promise you they’ll all start to have redeeming qualities.  Bring attention to all the things you’ve taken for granted—the smell of fresh coffee in the morning, the hot water in your shower, the sunrise and sunset, the smell of fresh sheets on your bed.  Now it’s your turn to add to the list.

Take the time to notice your breath throughout the day and it will bring you to the present…to “this very moment”—a mantra I suggest you use throughout the day to “call out” your moments compliments of A Year of Living Your Yoga, Daily Practices to shape your life, Judith Hanson Lasater, PhD., P.T.

Yes,Life isn`t measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away. ~ Hilary Cooper. But in both instances, breath is required.  We’re so used to having one more thing squeezed into every last second that we no longer take for granted that it’s not only okay to sit in repose, it’s downright healthy!

When was the last time you stepped off the fast track?  We don’t take times like this like we used to.  We rush off to the next thing on the agenda with people to see, places to go, things to do.  Where’s the balance?

Every inhale needs an exhale.  It doesn’t just ask for it.  It must have it.  Without the exhale, the inhale won’t happen and vice versa.  All of your output requires time to regenerate, or you’ll break.  Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but you will burn out if you don’t take the time to be still—to be in repose.

“How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then rest afterward” ~ Spanish proverb

Being in a hurry doesn’t get more done.  On the contrary, it dims your awareness so that your life becomes a blur.  Allow time to expand by taking a luxurious pace and see how being centered and focused within the moment not only stretches the time you have, but makes you more productive.

Research is documenting that taking time to be still, meditate, be mindful—whatever label you want to put on it, contributes to our well-being.  When did contributing to our well being fall on to the back burner?

Ah, there’s that word “meditation”.  The second you hear it I’ll bet you’re thinking “no way!  I don’t have time for that!”  I’m not suggesting you incorporate more time than you already have.  Yes, that is a “trick” comment, because, of course, we all have the same 24 hours each day, don’t we?  If calling it “meditation” stops you dead in your tracks, why not consider it “mindful moments”, or whatever makes you open to the idea that increasing reflective pauses in your life will make you not only healthier, but happier.  Be unconcerned about any rules and regulations you attach to the concept of “meditation”.  This will be your joy!  I promise!  Do you consider reflective moments daydreaming?

I love to legitimize what some consider “foo-foo fluff”.  Do you consider Einstein “fluff”?  I think not.  I used his status to remind you that Einstein developed his theory of relativity through a dream when I introduced the concept of “dream messages” back in my March 2010 newsletter (http://betterdayyoga.com/how-better-day-yoga-got-its-name-from-the-march-2010-newsletter/1162).  The documentary on Einstein’s theory of relativity on the History channel introduced me to another definition for “daydreaming”.  He referred to them as “thought experiments” and this was how he developed his theory of relativity.  What monumental, perhaps life changing idea are you squelching by not being open to reflective pauses?

Consider these benefits of a meditative practice taken from An Easy Guide to Meditation For Personal Benefits and Spiritual Growth, by Roy Eugene Davis:

• Mental transformations and thinking processes become more organized as the result of meditative calmness and the influence of refined states of consciousness.

• The body’s immune system is strengthened and physiological functions are encouraged to be more balanced and efficient.

• Biologic aging processes are slowed. Older, long-term meditators are mentally and physically younger than their calendar years might suggest.

• Stress symptoms are reduced. The nervous system is refreshed and enlivened, allowing awareness to be more easily processed through it.

• Regenerative energies are awakened. These, directed by innate intelligence, vitalize the body, empower the mind, and have restorative and healing influences.

• Intellectual skills are improved, causing delusions and illusions to be dispelled. Intuition awakens, allowing us to directly know whatever we desire to know and to experience a vivid sense of unerring inner guidance.

• Appreciation for living is enhanced.

• Creativity is stimulated.

• Innate spiritual qualities awaken, enabling us to be more insightful, and functionally skillful.

• Rapid, more satisfying, authentic spiritual growth is nurtured because body, mind, and awareness are beneficially influenced by refined superconscious states.”

Re-read the list above—intellectual skills are improved and your thinking processes become more organized.  You’ll be more efficient so you’ll have more time to do whatever it is you want to do (and make up for the time you think right now that you’ll be wasting if you start a meditative practice)!  Einstein was working six days a week as a patent clerk when he found the time to develop his first groundbreaking theories.  Oh, and he also had a new wife and child.  Ready to try some “daydreaming”?

Another treasure from the list above—Biologic aging processes are slowed. Older, long-term meditators are mentally and physically younger than their calendar years might suggest.  Think you’d like to try the quick-fix methods out there for youth enhancement?  Why not save your dollars and try a few minutes of quiet time?

And if you “only” notice that adding reflective moments into your life makes you appreciate your life more (another beauty on the list), then would you consider this an honorable goal?  Are you “in”?!

Even a few minutes a day reaps benefit.  Once you start to incorporate contemplative moments into your daily realm, you’ll notice that time expands. Trust that it will.  My “Meditation on the Go” section has been giving you some ideas of how to take baby steps into the meditative world.

You don’t have to jump into more than a few minutes a dayAs a matter of fact, it’s better to start small, see the benefits, and build from there.  Try it on for size.  Just like anything, the more you can ease into something, the less chance you’ll start off like gangbusters and then decide it’s just too much or too hard.  Remember your New Year’s resolutions?  I don’t have to remind you of the percentage of people who’ve forgotten them by week number two.

September is a great time to decide to incorporate resolutions.  Please allow me the indulgence of repeating a section from my September 2010 newsletter:

The amazing Simple Abundance, A Daybook of Comfort and Joy, by Sara Ban Breathnach, has been a frequent companion of mine as I “come to the source” each morning to fill my cup for the day. The following is one of my absolute favorite readings since it heralds the beginning of September and speaks to the September doer in all of us. I’ve copied it for many friends since I find it so inspiring. It’s called Turning over a new leaf. Enjoy!

“Since ancient times, September has been viewed as the beginning of the new year, a time for reflection and resolution. Jews observe the High Holiday of Yom Kippur, the day of public and private atonement, a sacred withdrawal from the world for twenty-four hours in order to become right with God and others, so that real life might be renewed with passion and purpose.

Change in the natural world is subtle but relentless; seasons seem to give way gently to one another, even if the monthly motion is so swift we don’t realize we’re moving. But when the leaves start turning colors, it’s time for turning over a personal new leaf so that our lives might be restored. ‘What we need in autumn is an emotional or spiritual shot in the arm,’ Katharine Elizabeth Fite wrote in Good Housekeeping in 1949, urging the beginning of a new tradition for women: personal and positive resolutions in September. ‘Why do you suppose so many of us waste the autumn? Why don’t we make the effort that would provide something new in our lives?’ January’s negative resolutions ‘are made when we are worn out in spirit, body, and pocketbook, and have no real urge to do anything but rest.’

It seems to me that January resolutions are about will; September resolutions are about authentic wants. What do you want more or less of in your life, so that you can love the life you’re leading? It could be as simple as seeing friends more often, setting aside time to have adventures with your children while they still want your companionship, rekindling romance in your daily round, calling a solitary hour a day your own (perhaps to add a meditative practice?), or just taking more walks in the dazzling sunshine.

The beauty of autumnal resolutions is that no one else knows we’re making them. Autumnal resolutions don’t require horns, confetti, and champagne. September resolutions ask only that we be open to positive change. I can try that. So can you.”

Remember change is meant to be different by its very definition. It’s meant to transform you in some way.  You have to acknowledge that something in your life is going to change to introduce meditation/mindfulness into your life.  If you’ve been stressed lately, you may intuitively know that you need “something” in your life to introduce calm—that’s a start.  The power of your transformation is formed by your initial intention.  So set that intention now.  Commit to doing “something” for 28 days—the time it takes to create a habit.  Commit to bring something new, something healing into your life.

You have the power within you to create the energy you need for anything you set your mind to.  I can say that with utmost belief—the power is within you—within your breath. Let’s start with a simple breath exercise—

“Breathe courage and confidence into your aura from within.  Practice this all day long.  You’ll soon feel the difference and love it.  Repeat.” (Unknown author)

Yes, it can be that simple.  The next time you find yourself worrying or over thinking, simply make an effort to breathe courage and confidence in.  You may not know “how” to breathe into your “aura”.  No matter.  Trust the feeling that you generate when you breathe in what you believe to be courage and confidence.  Who said someone else had to be the expert on how you breathe in?  Enjoy!

“Assume that you are the expert on your own experience, and that you have information which other people need to hear.” ~ Ricky Sherover-Marcuse

30
July

“If you can’t see God in all, you can’t see God at all.”~ Yogi Bhajan

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Off-the-Wall Musings
Comments Off on “If you can’t see God in all, you can’t see God at all.”~ Yogi Bhajan Tagged with

Each month, “My Better Day” newsletter contains tips for your yoga practice, yoga quotes to bring yoga off the mat and into your life, affirmations to brighten your day and motivate, and more!  It is my wish for your well-being that I send this newsletter to help make your day a Better Day!

In this issue:  Yoga quote, Practice yoga pose, Meditation on the go, Chakrascope, Hand Mudra, Featured Card Deck and Quote, Healthy News, Featured Recipe (to be Posted 8/9/11), Favorite Yoga Music / DVD, Happenings at Better Day Yoga LLC, Final Relaxation Quote.

Namasté,

Sandy Krzyzanowski

Founder, Better Day Yoga LLC

Yoga quote:  “If you can’t see God in all, you can’t see God at all.”~ Yogi Bhajan

A few weeks ago I had the absolute pleasure of interviewing the CEO of Yogamint LLC, Hari Bhajan Khalsa.  If that company name rings a bell to my readers, it’s because I reference this absolutely wonderful resource often in both my newsletter and my Better Day Yoga Facebook page.  I signed up for their emails some time ago and have enjoyed every last one of them. You can sign up for the emails on their home page:  http://www.yogamint.com/.

As I read about Hari Bhajan Khalsa in preparation for the interview, what amazed me the most was the many paths she has taken in her life.  Now I know we all have similar versions of our various paths in life, but dear reader, I know that mine is nowhere near as interesting as hers:  Dressage, Life Coach, improv, published poet, wife, mother, and currently Yogamint LLC “CEO”—that’s Chief Enlightenment Officer, thank you!  She would, of course, emphatically deny that her life is any more special than anyone else’s, and perhaps that’s another endearing quality of this enchanting lady.  She walks her talk.

Did you get stuck on dressage?  So did I.  She describes it as gymnastics of the horse or “doing yoga with the horse”.  After reading the definition I found online, I’d have to agree:  “The method of training a horse to perform maneuvers in response to the rider’s body signals.”  http://www.thefreedictionary.com/dressage.  It’s a competition in the Olympics—a bona fide sport.  Who knew?  Fifteen years and three horses later, she has an immense love of horses.  Having never been an athlete, working with horses gave her a sense of confidence and fearlessness.

I can count the number of times I’ve sat upon a horse on one hand.  Each time someone much more qualified than I was nearby to monitor.  Two of those times I was part of a trail of horses going for a trail ride.  I fell off the horse on the first one—cut me some slack!  My sunglasses fell off and I had to get off the horse to get them, didn’t I?  Then when I tried to get back on the saddle, the horse moved on me and I fell off—into a cactus!

The second time I was with a group that included my husband.  All of a sudden he flew by on his horse toward the ocean at top speed.  I could hear the others commenting on what an experienced rider he must be going that speed.  I was the only one who knew his horse had to be out of control since he’d never been on a horse before and also couldn’t swim.  So flying toward the ocean on a speeding horse was not something he’d initiated!  So that’s why they made us wear helmets!

So, yes, I could see how working with these amazing creatures, honing your ability to communicate with the horse through subtle movements, could increase not only self-confidence but also promote fearlessness.  Sure beats landing in a cactus or headed for water over your head!  Hari Bhajan doesn’t ride anymore.  But horses are a part of her.  She says “A special something happens” in her heart when she sees a horse.  Now that is something we can all relate to.

How about you?  Is there some skill or hobby you’ve always wanted to try?  Maybe you admire someone else who’s already doing it?  Do you love horses and want to commune with horses as Hari Bhajan did?  Take the first step!  I wrote about this subject in my April, 2010 newsletter:

Maybe you love horses, but don’t own one and/or have never ridden one. Find a petting zoo, a horse riding club, or horse sanctuary to go to. There’s a wonderful wild horse sanctuary in the Black Hills of South Dakota, a day’s drive away from the Twin Cities (http://www.wildmustangs.com/) that I recommend highly. They have a wonderful tour, and you’ll fall in love with all the horses in their natural environment.

Minnesotan’s can try http://www.horserentals.com/minnesota.html and take to the trails on a horse! Locally, there’s also River Valley Riders (http://www.rivervalleyriders.org/) which is a therapeutic horseback-riding and carriage driving program serving people with special needs. Try the Renaissance Festival late summer and watch some jousting. Just be around what you love and listen to your heart sing!

Want to combine yoga and horsemanship?  Hari Bhajan got me to thinking what a great combo yoga and horsemanship would be.  Of course I didn’t need to look far.  I even found a Kundalini Yoga instructor doing it.  To schedule Yoga Ride Retreats in your area:

Malika and Veronica are available to conduct Yoga Ride Retreats world-wide. Scheduling now for 2011-12.  Please contact us to schedule an exciting, personally fulfilling and healing yoga retreat for riders at an equestrian facility in your area.
http://montanahorsecenter.com/education/yoga-for-riders/  Another great site I found is:  http://www.gallopingyoga.com/gallopingyoga-training.html.

It’s amazing how I always get a timely email from Yogamint as I’m writing my newsletter:

Get With Your Program What’s Calling You?

It’s the excitement you feel when you listen to a solo violinist or read a book by your favorite author, inspiring you to get up and follow in their footsteps. It’s why you never miss a yoga class and enjoy making hand-made gifts for your loved ones. It’s something that makes your heart sing and your toes tap, and most importantly, doing it fulfills you. It’s where you belong and maybe even what makes you unique. This is what’s known as a “calling” and it’s what wants to happen in your life.

If you’re living like a square peg in a round hole—doing data entry when you’d rather be dancing, selling real estate when you’d rather be eco-farming—heed your calling! Start by acceptingyour present work and consciously acknowledge it’s time to move on. Next, write down exactly what is calling you. Then get into action: take a class, subscribe to a trade magazine, join a club or mentor with an expert. As you begin to embody and nurture your calling, it will surely manifest—so go for it! http://www.yogamint.com/_webapp_3930137/Get_With_Your_Program

Moving on!  True to her “MO”, when Hari Bhajan decided to train as a Life Coach, she immersed herself 110%.  She was coached herself, took all the classes and seminars and knew that she would use these skills forever.  She knew she wanted to teach and speak more, but public speaking made her uncomfortable—as it does for many of us!  So she tried a more formal training in public speaking and found it too boring.

Someone recommended she try improvHow do you know when the path is the right one for you?  When you’re a Kundalini yoga teacher and your new improv teacher ends up synchronistically being a Kundalini practitioner.  He greeted her as she walked in the door with “Sat Nam!”—the common Sanskrit greeting used in Kundalini yoga.  (More on that later!)  “Larry” told her that Kundalini yoga saved his life and he became like a brother to her.

She considers the concepts Larry taught as life concepts:  “Being in the moment, saying ‘Yes’ more often, daring to suck and perhaps to fail.  It was, at times, tortuous.” She loved it.  Just hearing her talk about Larry, it’s obvious that she has an undying gratitude for the energy he brought to class and her life.

How about you?  Remember my theme last month was looking at what you defined as “uncomfortable” and deciding if that was a habit you wanted to keep or kick to the curb?  Tried anything “tortuous” lately? Dared to suck and perhaps fail?  You just may find that you love it when all is said and done. 

Wondering whether the path you’ve chosen is the right one?  Take a page from Hari Bhajan and follow the synchronicities.  The Universe will cajole you toward where you need to be by the “God-winks”.  For a short, fun video on “What’s a God-wink?” go to: 
http://www.beliefnet.com/Video/Godwink-Stories/2009/04/What-Is-A-Godwink.aspx

Speaking of “God-winks”—A Vedic Astrology reading acknowledged she had “writing” in her future.  The astrologer referred her to a friend to pursue her writing interest further if she so chose.  Shortly after that she just happened to be talking with a cranio-sacral therapist at her husband’s chiropractic office.  She mentioned her astrology reading with an emphasis on “writing” in her future. He responded with “I have a friend,” and referred her on to the exact same guy the astrologer had referred her to!  “God-wink” serendipity strikes again!  Similar to her improv teacher, this connection became a beloved mentor who “brought so much out of her”.

Oh—wondering what “Vedic Astrology” is?  I’m glad you asked!  Yogamint.com has your answer, of course!

http://www.yogamint.com/_webapp_2990070/Make_the_Planets_Your_Own?A=SearchResult&SearchID=2535827&ObjectID=2990070&ObjectType=35

http://www.yogamint.com/_webapp_2842350/Astrology_for_Yogis?A=SearchResult&SearchID=2535827&ObjectID=2842350&ObjectType=35

The astrology reading and her new mentor led her to go back to school—after a 30-year hiatus from school

As she puts it, she didn’t “decide” to go back to school, really.  As emphasized earlier, she believes in signs.  When she knows something is directing her she has to listen to it.  During the summer of 2003 she saw some ads for schools in her poetry magazines and checked out a couple.  Then she saw a summer workshop opportunity.  On a spur of the moment decision, she submitted poems to be considered for the Squaw Valley Community of Writers Summer Workshop (http://www.squawvalleywriters.org/).  She mailed her submission literally the day before it was due—via FedEx.  It was a one-week workshop of esteemed writers.  There were 400-plus applicants and only 60 were accepted.  When she got the acceptance e-mail she broke into tears—the “nod” from the Universe overwhelmed her.  The workshop “changed her whole perspective—her whole universe.”  Her life totally shifted.  There was so much to know and learn.  Time to finish her degree!

Hari Bhajan needed 30 more credits to graduate for her bachelors.   She chose the Vermont College of Fine Arts and flew to Vermont (http://www.vermontcollege.edu/about) every six months for two incredible years—a total immersion—Learning, meeting, challenging

“Every blade of grass has an Angel bending over it saying, ‘grow’ ‘grow’” ~ The Talmud (ancient Jewish text).

Have you been listening to YOUR personal Angel guides?  What “spur of the moment” decisions do you hear calling you?  Are you listening?  Maybe they aren’t just “spur of the moment”.  Those urgings have been there a while, haven’t they?  That restlessness you feel is not just boredom.  It’s YOUR Angels telling YOU to “Grow!”  “Grow!” 

Take the leap!  Throw your hat in the ring!  Be the source of your own manifestations!  Acknowledge that you are ready and give the Universe a chance to respond, “Yes! It is your time because you leapt—because you said I am going to try.  All this time the power was in you to make the net appear by taking the first step.”

“She decided to start living the life she’d imagined” ~Kobi Yamada

College at 50 was “like living through high school again,”  she shared: “It was good to process through what I hadn’t processed through in high school.  The beauty of yoga and meditation is it teaches you to be the observer.  Here I’m 50 and happily married and I’m having things like crushes on guys.  I found myself watching my reactions and saying to myself ‘Isn’t that interesting?  You just acted like you were 16-years-old there.  I can’t believe you said that!  Wow! Where did that come from?’  Through the course of the two years, people died, divorced, and rose to the occasion.  It was a great experience—a memorable experience.”

Wondering if you could go back to school after some time off, or a lot of time off?!  Just remember:  

“If you keep doin’ what you’ve been doin’, you’ll keep gettin’ what you’ve been gettin’!” ~ Zig Ziglar. 

You may hear your “doubting Thomas” voice as your excuse—“Do you have any idea how old I’ll be when I’ve completed that?”…the answer from the Universe comes with a thump on the head—“You’ll be as old as you would have been had you NOT completed that!”

Hari Bhajan’s poems have appeared in over 30 publications with her poem, “I Would Tell You” selected for The Best of the Web 2009.  She has been a fellow at the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences and Associate Artist at the Atlantic Center for the Arts.

To purchase Hari Bhajan’s poetry book, “Life in Two Parts”, please go to:  http://www.mainstreetrag.com/HBKhalsa.html

When asked if she still writes poetry, she responded:  “With Poetry there are two aspects.  There’s the craft of writing a poem and then there’s being a poet and looking at life as a poet.  The actual craft expands your vocabulary.  Words you use expand in meaning and concept.  There is a beautiful respect for putting words together in a way that evokes meaning.  Being a poet is a huge thing.  I only went so far with it.  It requires such a commitment.  I think you almost have to be in a dream state.  You need to be idle to be a poet.  You need to have an immersion.  You need days, weeks, months to get into that space.  In the business world and all it involves, it’s too hard.”  Read the “Meditation to go” section for her first published poem.

I can relate to Hari Bhajan’s comment about the beautiful respect for putting words together in a way that evokes meaning.  My eldest sister read poems to me when I was young and cried many times as she read them.  Her tears over the meaning of the poems made an impression on me.  Did I feel the emotion toward the poem before she read the poems with tears or did the tears from someone I loved dearly create the emotions?  All I know is I fell in love with poems.

Poems that didn’t rhyme intrigued me the most.  I’d sit outside in my rocking lawn chair reading poems for hours when most kids my age were playing other games.  Some of my friends considered that a bit odd, but I never felt odd.  The poems became some of my closest friends connecting me to myself.  That connection is how poetry and the poets who wrote them enchriched my mind and made me think in ways I never would have otherwise.  With heartfelt gratitude to all the poets, I say “Thank you!”

“If you do not believe in magic, your life will not be magical.  Magic, like the power of Stonehenge, is part of the unknowable—that which you cannot describe, but which exists and makes your life extraordinary.” –The Power Deck, The Cards of Wisdom, by Lynn V. Andrews.

I think as a poet waiting for your muse, you have to be willing to expect magic and whimsy to play through your expression.  YOU are the poet of your life.  Your life is your poem.  What is your muse?  What inspires you?  Expect the magic.  Expect the miracle.  It needs your welcoming invite to make its appearance.  You have to prepare the way. 

Hari Bhajan took the time to immerse herself into writing poetry to find her muse.  Once she found it, she used that as a stepping stone to what was next.  Take the time to immerse yourself into finding your inspiration. Make the commitment to believe in the magic until it finds you.  Believe it and you’ll see it.

At this point you may be wondering about Hari Bhajan Khalsa’s name.  It intrigued me as well.  Hari Bhajan Khalsa is the spiritual name she received from her spiritual teacher, Yogi Bhajan, in 1973. 

“In Kundalini Yoga, the spiritual name that you receive is based on your full name, and also the numerology that is associated with your date of birth. Your spiritual name is your challenge but also your destiny. For many it is also the strength that you may not have necessarily learned to harness just yet.

Additionally, a spiritual name is based on Naad Yoga, which can be described as the power of a sound vibration.  Any time we think, speak, chant, or utter a sound, we set a new vibration into motion. That thought, word, or sound may be a vibration of high frequency that serves to elevate us and those around us, or maybe one of a lower vibration that diminishes us and others. In the case of Kundalini Yoga and spiritual names, the experience is of the former.

Each of us has experienced the powerful impact of sound when we have been on the receiving end of hurtful words that have had a lingering harsh effect on our emotional state. A spiritual name based on a high quality sound vibration reinforces and accelerates our progress for our highest destiny. It challenges us to live in highest consciousness and awareness. Your sacred name is one of your first steps in leaving past patterns behind and embracing your spiritual identity.

A spiritual name reinforces and accelerates your progress on your path to your highest destiny. Making the choice to receive a spiritual name (and using it) is taking a rebirth in consciousness. It has positive benefits every time one says it, meditates on it, or hears it.”  http://www.karmicecology.com/body/environment/patty-kikos/1072/change-your-namechange-your-life

Hari Bhajan told me that a name is something to live up to—it’s an identification.  Her name means “Song of God.”  Echoing the sentiments above that your spiritual name reinforces and accelerates your progress toward your highest destiny, she is a writer, speaker, teacher, poet, and CEO of an inspiring, educational website.  She uses her voice to help people change their lives—“Song of God” indeed.

A name representing a spiritual identity is not uncommon.  One of my yoga teachers, TeriLeigh Schmidt has studied extensively with a West African Shaman from the Dagara Tribe of Burkina Faso, Malidoma Somé.  In the Dagara Tribe there is something known as the hearing ritual—or naming ceremony.  A shaman comes in to help name a newly conceived baby speaking through the voice of the mother.  The baby communicates why they are coming this time.  They communicate their purpose for this new life.

“Malidoma” means “he who would be friends with the stranger/enemy.”  Malidoma was literally kidnapped when he was four and taken to live in the modern world until he was an adult.  When he escaped back to his tribe he was initiated and given the purpose of using his modern-world knowledge to communicate with those that were threatening the Dagara Tribe’s way of life.  He is a bridge between two worlds, a man whose self- expressed goal in life is to convey his knowledge of the spiritual life of his people to the rest of the world.

Malidoma came to the United States originally because the tribal elders said it was where he needed to be. They knew his role in life was to explain the Dagara culture, to be “swallowed” by the West, in order to teach others about the African world. http://www.answers.com/topic/malidoma-patrice-some

There are many traditions for “naming” a child or changing a name.  In Poland, where my parents were born, they name the child after the saint that is celebrated nearest the child’s date of birth fostering a spiritual connection and blessings from the saint.  Also, historically it’s been common to take your husband’s name upon marriage.

Those of us who have changed their name know that it feels different to be called by another name.  With Hari Bhajan Khalsa, or newlywed brides for that matter, the new name represents a new path.  I know from experience that when I started referring to myself as “Krzyzanowski” vs. my maiden name, “Bronicki” it felt very different.  Just as when I refer to myself as “Sandra” vs. “Sandy” there is a difference in both how I feel as well as how I construe others feel toward me.  “Sandy” evokes more warmth and familiarity.  “Sandra” feels like a wall of formality is present.  In all instances, it is an absolute honor and privilege to be part of the family that my names have come from, and I aim to live up to the legacy of my ancestors.

“’When one asks for a spiritual name, that name describes the destiny’ says Yogi Bhajan (Hari Bhajan’s teacher).  This is a particularly poignant thing to remember regardless of whether you are known by your birth name, spiritual name or even pet nickname. The manifestation of your current situation will be shaped by how people address you.” http://www.karmicecology.com/body/environment/patty-kikos/1072/change-your-namechange-your-life.

How about you?  Have you experienced what it feels like to use a different name than your birth name?  Do you have a nickname?  Do you notice how you feel when you are called one vs. the other? 

Changing your name “changes your nature because it changes your behavior.  It changes the vibration of who you are.” ~ TeriLeigh Schmidt.  Choosing to take on a spiritual name carries with it the responsibility of living in accordance with the spiritual path you have chosen.

It is traditional, for Kundalini Yoga Teachers, to wear all white and a white turban. Natural fiber clothing (cotton) allows the body to breathe and is comfortable during yoga. White is good for the body energetically and for the nervous system. Turbans, in particular, are useful for holding energy in, and for creating a meditative focus at the third eye point (brow point). This creates a focus of the functional circuit of the hemispheres, and wearing white tunes the neurological system and electromagnetic field.  Some teachers wear white and some don’t.  Some teachers wear turbans and some don’t.” http://www.kundalini-yoga-info.com/

Hari Bhajan chooses to wear white and does wear a turban.  “I don’t feel right if I have no white in my outfit.”  She echoes the wisdom of her teacher, Yogi Bhajan, when she shared:  “Don’t wear white because I tell you to, or because anyone else tells you too.  Try it for yourself. Wear it for a week and see what happens.”  In her experience, wearing white is not easy!  It can get pretty mess pretty quick!  Can you relate to that?  I feel like I’m tempting fate whenever I wear white!

I shared with Hari Bhajan that I’d read that wearing white was supposed to make you feel younger.  She responded:  “I don’t know if I feel younger or not, but I do feel clearer, cleaner, brighter.”  To which I replied, “If clearer, cleaner, brighter doesn’t define younger, I don’t know what does!”

Aside from esthetics, however, Hari Bhajan shared that “wearing white makes you move more consciously throughout your day.  You are more aware of your space in the world, more aware of your actions.  People view you differently.  You stick out more so you are aware that others are aware of your actions as well. White increases your aura by three feet so your presence becomes bigger.  It’s symbolic.  Of itself, it doesn’t change the world, but Yogi Bhajan always said all three aspects – body, mind, spirit –are involved in everything you do.” For her, taking her spiritual name as well as wearing white honors the Kundalini Yoga teacher lineage and all they stand for.  She truly embodies a connection of mind, body, and spirit—a sentiment her teacher, Yogi Bhajan imparts in his “3HO” foundation—“Happy, Healthy, Holy”.  http://www.3ho.org/kundalini-yoga/yogi-bhajan/  Also see http://yogamint.com/_webapp_3043631/Dress_for_Success for more on wearing white.

“Find the answer in your own words.  Ground yourself in the foundation of your own experience.  You cannot know something until you discover it for yourself.”  ~ Susan Woldman’s Yoga Path Cards. 

“Don’t believe what I say.  Do it.  Experience it.  This call to experience it yourself puts more on the individual to find their own truth.” ~ Hari Bhajan Khalsa. 

Hari Bhajan feels that this is why yoga and meditation are on the rise—the dawning of what many refer to as the “Aquarian Age”—an age where we are learning to rely on our own experience for our truth vs. believing what is told to you by others.  “We need a system to act consciously.”  Yoga and meditation teaches us to observe what is within and to connect with that.

So just how did Hari Bhajan meet her spiritual Kundalini Yoga teacher, Yogi Bhajan?  Her future husband found Yogi Bhajan and started to train with him.  She was not at all sure about this thing called “Kundalini Yoga”, but she was sure about the man that led her to it. (See the Chakrascope section below for more about “Kundalini”.)

She wanted something spiritual vs. hypocritical in her life.  She was resistant at first, but once she started doing Kundalini Yoga, “you can’t help but feel something shift.”  She was hungry for community.  Kundalini Yoga provided it.  Kundalini Yoga “had everything:  Spirit, community, philosophy, relationships, soul—the ‘whole shamoley’,” as she puts it.  She shared that a lot of those like her coming out of the “flower child” culture wanted a revolutionary change in consciousness.  Click here to read her account of how she went “From Hippie Chick to Kundalini Yogi”. (http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/03/inhale-up-exhale-down)

She will have been involved with Kundalini Yoga for 40 years next spring.  What a testament!

So yes, she followed her husband “ranting and raving” as she describes herself.  But she shared that her husband’s effervescent patience allowed her to learn her own lesson that—“this stuff is amazing!”  She was 21.  For the story of her transition from “ranting and raving” to “this stuff is amazing”, click here for her account on “The Summer Vacation that Wasn’t:  How My Heart Chakra Cracked open on a Hillside in Elk, CA in 1972.”  (http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/04/the-summer-vacation-that-wasnt-how-my-heart-chakra-cracked-open-on-a-hillside-in-elk-ca-in-1972)

Little has changed over the years since she married her husband in January, 1973.  She shared that she still does her share of ranting and raving and he still supports her with effervescent patience and love. Another testament!  I love to share the sentiment that marriage gets better every day.  Her blog from her wedding day in 1973 ended with “We are young. We are in love. We are beginning.” http://www.ourtruetales.com/2007/03/14/our-wedding-january-13-1973/

How about you?  Have you ever gone down a path you were unsure of but a trusted advisor suggested it?  Remember we are not in this world alone.  Our “helper guides” are always around sending us signs and giving us inspiration.  Don’t try to take it all on yourself.  Know that sometimes the Universe uses those that you love and trust to deliver just what you need until you know it for yourself.  Listen to your heart.  Trust that the Universe is on your side. 

It’s good to know there are angels in our midst—even more so when that angel is your husband (or husband-to-be). 

Finally, what you’ve all been waiting for me to cover!  Hari Bhajan’s is “Chief Enlightenment Officer”/CEO of Yogamint, LLC.  Their Website says it best:

About Yogamint.com

“Yogamint is an online spiritual spa for the body, mind and soul. Based on ancient yogic teachings and designed for the fast-pace of today, Yogamint shares information through bite-size articles, or ‘mints,’ that support and energize all aspects of your being.

Visit www.yogamint.com and sign up for your twice-weekly mints, such as: Have a big meeting in five minutes and need to relax? Smile. Did you know smiling affects your mood and tone of voice? Smiling during a conversation not only helps you feel better, but the other person feels better just by seeing and hearing your smile.

The folks at Yogamint all practice Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan. You will find that a good portion of what we share on the web site and in the newsletter is derived from this tradition. Because yoga isn’t a brand name, nor does any one group or lineage have a patent on it, and because we ourselves enjoy the fruits of many paths of wisdom, we’ll also be sharing information and inspiration from other yogic, cosmic and wellness traditions that are in harmony with our message. As for our physical location: We’re based in Los Angeles with links to New Mexico, Oregon, the U.K., New Zealand and beyond.” http://www.yogamint.com/about-us

Monthly Videos

I have found their videos to be invaluable.  The “Sign Up” box to receive their “e-mints” appears on each page of their Website, http://www.yogamint.com/.  Go subscribe now!  I’ll wait…Once you subscribe to their “e-mints”, you’ll receive a once-a-month link to a video in one of two categories:

  1. “All Kundalini” presents a meditation demonstration.
    “Your issues are in your tissues” was the July video:  http://www.yogamint.com/_webapp_3931238/Your_Issues_are_in_Your_Tissues, or
  2. “Food & Flow” presents a video series with vegan cooking and yoga in each monthly episode.
    “The Cool Factor” was the most recent “Food & Flow” video featuring a melon drink and a meditation/yoga practice for emotional balance:
    http://www.yogamint.com/_webapp_3935994/The_Cool_Factor.
    “Food & Flow” also has a Facebook page. So for more, I suggest you “friend” it!:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Food-Flow/104255402985276?v=wall&sk=wall#!/pages/Food-Flow/104255402985276?sk=wall

Both of the above videos also feature free downloads with the recipes and meditations as well as have links to recommended books for reference on the featured subject!  See the “Hand Mudra” section below for the free download that came as part of the “The Cool Factor” mudra and meditation referenced above.

Bite-size Mints, Cosmic Corner, In Depth

Your emails will also feature “bite-size articles”, or “mints” such as the one referenced earlier in this article called Get With Your Program What’s Calling You?” http://www.yogamint.com/_webapp_3930137/Get_With_Your_ProgramI reference these wonderful “bite-size mints” often in my newsletters. They cover topics for a healthy lifestyle.

They also have an interesting section called “Cosmic Corner” featuring topics such as the Vedic Astrology one I referenced earlier, tarot cards, or an “astral weather report” for what to expect for the month of August, for example, which appeared in a recent “e-mint”:  http://www.yogamint.com/_webapp_3931816/Ruled_by_the_Heart

Other meditations, recipes, articles, etc. are covered in their “In Depth” article section:  http://www.yogamint.com/in-depth/all

Whenever you need a moment of refresh-mint, go to the Yogamint Website and click on any mint, article or video and see what you get! Or use the “search” box and look up a topic of your choice.  It’s easy and fun to investigate all that Yogamint has to offer! The challenge will be to stop at one topic!

I promise you’ll love your subscription so much, you’ll be recommending it to friends!  (http://www.yogamint.com/tell-a-friend).    

Teach in a classroom?  Health Practitioner in a clinic?

  1. The supportive, friendly folks at Yogamint will provide a set of free “elevate” postcards featuring one of their “mints”/articles to hand out to your students or clients.  The back side has beautiful graphics with the “Yogamint” yogi in lotus position, hands at “Namaste”/prayer position, and the heading “elevate”. 
  2. Add their widget to your website, which will connect your visitors to one of the many “bite-size mints/article” referenced above:http://www.yogamint.com/widget.html
  3. Use their “mint/articles” as content for your newsletters or blogs or print them out as handouts for your students or clients.  Yogamint invites you to share their content!

Coming soon:  Yogamint Ambassador program!

If you are a teacher in a classroom, or a health practitioner in a clinic, become an advocate of Yogamint and receive soon-to-be-announced perks and benefits of the program.  I would be an advocate without the perks!  So I, for one, can’t wait to see what the generous, supportive, friendly, fantastic Yogamint folks will come up with!  Stay tuned!

Sat Nam

I mentioned earlier that “Sat Nam” is a popular mantra that is used in Kundalini Yoga.  I’ve referred to this mantra in past newsletters. Hari Bhajan uses it as a greeting in her communications as well.  It evoked such a warm feeling of having been blessed when she used it to greet me—surrounding me like a warm hug.  It means “Truth is my identity” or, “I honor your identity and the truth within you all.”

I’ve read that chanting “Sat Nam” awakens the soul and give you your identity as well as balances the five elements (sometimes referred to as: fire, water, earth, mineral, and nature—there are many philosophies that refer to the elements).  In closing my wonderful visit with Hari Bhajan, I asked her to speak to how the recitation of “Sat Nam” has influenced her life:

“I am so grateful for your bringing this up and grateful to Yogi Bhajan for bringing the teachings here.”  She emphasized Yogi Bhajan always said he came to create teachers, making it clear she didn’t “worship” him, nor did he ask his students to.  He shifted a culture of non-awareness.  She and others like her were “so hungry to have the tools.  You need something to sustain you.  ‘Sat Nam’ is two syllables—innocuous—but those two syllables hold the whole world.  Your truth, my truth, identity is truth, the infinite truth, you and I—we are one.  Yogi Bhajan said ‘If you can’t see God in all, you can’t see God at all’.  Having that simple tool—‘Sat Nam’, or writing it, affects you.  Many of us use the “f” word without even thinking about it.  What does it really mean?  Think about THAT.  I’m not judging—been there done that.  Saying ‘Sat Nam’ affects you.  I am grateful for having it in my life.  It is like a gem, a jewel, a diamond to wear.  Gemstones have (energetic) affects—that word/phrase is like a gemstone.  How beautiful.

Hari Bhajan ended with words of encouragement—telling me to keep on doing what I’m doing—that there is no big or bigger. (I had referred to Yogamint being so much bigger then what I’m doing) and she said “everything you do ripples out.”  You have to love this lady!

Today I received another poignant “refresh-mint” from Yogamint that included the same sentiment:  “Every person you touch with a generous act or mannerly deed may potentially pay that kindness forward.  Although unknown to you, the goodwill you send out today will return back to you tomorrow. You may have learned manners in kindergarten, but being polite goes a long way at any age!”

Hari Bhajan Khalsa, you are the gem.  You are an inspiration!  It has been my honor and privilege to have had the opportunity to interview you.  You have touched my heart with your openness and sharing.  I have been so very blessed to have had this small glimpse into your life.  From the bottom of my heart, I say “Thank you!  Sat Nam and Namaste!”

30
June

“God, make me so uncomfortable that I will do the very thing I fear.” ~ Ruby Dee

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Off-the-Wall Musings
Comments Off on “God, make me so uncomfortable that I will do the very thing I fear.” ~ Ruby Dee Tagged with

Each month, “My Better Day” newsletter contains tips for your yoga practice, yoga quotes to bring yoga off the mat and into your life, affirmations to brighten your day and motivate, and more!  It is my wish for your well-being that I send this newsletter to help make your day a Better Day!

In this issue: Yoga quote, Practice yoga pose, Meditation on the go, Chakrascope, Hand Mudra, Featured Card Deck and Quote, Healthy News, Featured Recipe, Favorite Yoga Music / DVD, Happenings at Better Day Yoga LLC, Final Relaxation Quote.

Namasté,

Sandy Krzyzanowski

Founder, Better Day Yoga LLC

God, make me so uncomfortable that I will do the very thing I fear. ~ Ruby Dee

Last month I talked about graduating from a second 200-hour yoga teacher-training program.  Two weeks later I completed a four-day yoga therapy II training toward a 300-hour yoga therapy certification I am pursuing through YogaFit®.  We had “master” yoga classes daily, sometimes twice daily.  One of the instructors, Kristy Manuel, held us in poses much longer than I was used to, and then drew our attention to our resistance.  She asked us to connect with our resistance to holding a pose suggesting we convert the energy of that resistance to stay with the pose.  After my initial gut-reaction to curse under my breath, I found that it really intrigued me.

We are all so used to avoiding anything uncomfortable whenever possible, aren’t we?  We live in a society of quick-fixes so we’ve trained our minds to believe avoiding the uncomfortable is not only easy to do but also desirable.  Have you ever stopped to consider how many feelings, situations, etc. that we habitually define as “uncomfortable”?  As I analyzed the resistance I felt, I realized I couldn’t even say that it was necessarily uncomfortable to continue holding the pose past my usual time so much as it was different than the norm.  It was a change.  Ah, there’s the rub—change.  We don’t like change.

“I don’t mind change.  I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”~ Detective Adrian Monk character from Monk TV series.

There is a famous yogi, Pantajali, who lived somewhere between 200 BC and 450 CE, and wrote a classical text on the “eight-step” path to yoga called the Yoga Sutras. (There’s a whole lot more available on the Yoga path than just the physical postures!)  Within the Sutras, were Classic Yoga “do’s” (Niyamas) and Yoga “don’ts” (Yamas)—sort of like the yogic version of the Ten Commandments:

Yamas: Wise Characteristics                                             Niyamas: Codes for Soulful Living

Compassion for all living things                                                Purity (cleanliness/orderliness)

Commitment to truth                                                             Contentment

Not stealing (belief in abundance)                                            Disciplined awareness

Merging with the Divine/Energy management                            Self-Study

Not grasping/No greed                                                           Dedication to God/Devotion

The Sanskrit word for “disciplined awareness” is “Tapas”.  In addition to “discipline”, tapas is defined as “heat” and perseverance.  It is what is required for change to happen.  If you have a habit you want to change or create, you’ll need discipline to do it. 

Kristy’s lesson was an excellent way to drive home the meaning of “tapas” or “discipline”.  Discipline can mean sticking with your asana (physical postures) practice and choosing to practice regularly or it can also mean allowing the holds within a pose to be a bit longer than is “comfortable” to facilitate change.  It could also mean that you might attempt a pose you don’t personally enjoy and notice the feelings in your body as you explore the reasons you don’t enjoy it.

Now I’m getting into the self-study “Niyama”.  Be curious about you.  This could apply to any situation or activity.  Exploring the reasons you do or don’t enjoy any activity will go a long way toward helping you either stick with it or eliminate it from your life—you get to choose how you apply discipline

I often invite my students to be curious about their bodies and what’s going on within their bodies.  For example, your inner dialogue could be:

“Why is one side tighter than the other?  Is that why I don’t enjoy this pose?”  Maybe you can hold that side a smidgen longer to enable your body to stretch more on the tight side.  Notice if you tend to stand leaning to one side more than the other during your day or use only one side when you pick up and hold items, or open doors.  You could catch yourself during your day and consciously correct the imbalance.  Do you know which side of your body is tighter than the other and where that tightness sits in your body?  You don’t have to be actively doing a Hatha yoga practice to be paying attention to what’s going on in your body—be it physical or emotional.

Listen to the whispers and you won’t have to hear the screams.” ~ Cherokee Proverb

Recognizing that you “dislike” a situation or are “uncomfortable” in your life and then analyzing why you label it that way can be an interesting exercise.  For example, we sometimes use “fear” as a label we might apply to a situation when perhaps it’s partly exhilaration for performing the unknown.  Notice how labeling a situation you’re afraid of as “exhilaration” changes the whole scenario in your mind?  Mind games?  Perhaps, but isn’t it important to monitor your self-talk to be on your side?

“The loudest and most influential voice you hear is your own inner voice, your self critic.  It can work for you or against you, depending on the messages you allow.”~Keith Harrell

Perhaps we could remove some of the resistance we feel if we apply the fun factor and decide to have fun with whatever we are having difficulty with.  Many times the situation is “serious” only because you’ve defined it that way.  You are more in tune with your real self when you take time to laugh and play.  Lightening up will give you a new perspective and allow less pushing and more enjoying.  Remember it’s not the situation that’s bugging you; it’s how you react to it.  See what happens when you decide what you’re feeling just needs some comic relief.

(Check out the Practice Yoga Pose below for a reminder of just what happens when not being able to stay in a pose evokes our inner child and makes us laugh.  Noticing the attempts to hold the pose really tunes you into what’s going on in your body and where the balance effort is needed–intuitively.  I promise it’ll make you giggle as you wiggle!  You just may enjoy the journey of the pose and find that the destination isn’t necessarily what it’s all aboutAnother Kristy sentiment I enjoyed analyzing very much.)

How about you?  Have you ever completed a tough project and realized that the final euphoria was less than the joy of getting there?  Kind of like “these are the good ole’ days”—recognize the contentment and joy you are having as you are having it.  This not so little practice could eliminate your habit to procrastinate starting the next “tough” project.  I contend that it’s the very toughness of the project that brought the contentment—satisfaction of a job well done.

Ah!  There’s another “Niyama”—Contentment.  Recognize that contentment is within you all along, and not in the outer achievement or attainment of things. Contentment is a natural state.  You intuitively know you have all you need to feel content emotionally and spiritually just as you intuitively know how to move to stay in balance in the yoga pose.

As I dwelled upon staying with the resistance within my own yoga practice during the training, I realized I’m so used to telling my students to “stay within their own pain-free range of motion” that I may be guilty of encouraging this avoidance of resistance—this avoidance of the uncomfortable.  I often tell my yoga students that if you feel a sensation, it’s good.  It’s when that sensation “crescendos*” that you need to pull back.

*Yes, I know “crescendos” refers to volume and intensity of sound, but to me it also relays the message I’m trying to deliver to my students.  Heck—I’ll bet your body wishes it could make a sound before it goes beyond its limit!  So it’s become what I like to call a “Sandyism” in class.  “Oooshka”—“oo” as in room—is another one.  I thought it was a made-up exclamation to be used in place of other less pleasant words.  Come to find out “Ushka” means meat-filled dumpling in Ukrainian which just adds to the fun of using it.  It’s especially gratifying to say after you’ve held a pose for a long time. Try it sometime.  Just humor me.

We don’t want a building sensation.  We do want a sensation that we are, in fact, doing something for our bodies.  If you felt no sensation, you wouldn’t be in class, right?  Staying with what is uncomfortable sometimes has its benefits, and not just in your Hatha yoga practice. 

Realize Your Inner Diamond

Diamonds are forever. Maybe so, but did you know that diamonds come from coal? Under pressure, an unromantic lump of black coal transforms into the crystalline strength of a sparkling diamond. Just as heat and pressure turns a piece of coal into a multi-faceted gemstone of prized value, so the pressures in your own life can allow your unrealized potential to become successes. It takes some time and challenge, but it is so worth the effort to realize your inner diamond.

Life is not always peaceful and calm. Yet, the very difficulties and heartaches that test your inner grit can ultimately create a purity and strength of spirit. As you keep up and go through the pain, whether it’s physical, emotional or mental, you put the pressure on the lumps of coal that are your doubts and insecurities and chisel out the brilliant diamond that is your true being. The result?—Priceless!” http://www.yogamint.com/_webapp_3918902/The_Pressure_is_On

If everything in our life was exactly as we wanted it to be, it would be pretty darned boring, wouldn’t it?  It’s the obstacles in the path, both mental and physical, that encourage our growth.  They give us something to strive for.  Perhaps that’s why they refer to it as “growing pains”.  It’s through the discomfort that we learn.

“Discomfort journeys with us through life and we learn” ~ Kristy Manuel.   

Think about this for a moment:  Wouldn’t it be terrible if you were never uncomfortable again?  Think winning the lottery and retiring early is the ticket to longevity?  Think again:

“In 1921, Lewis Terman, a psychologist at Stanford University began a long-term study of 1,528 twelve year old American children.  The goal of this project was to study their lives and habits until they died.  Recently, Howard Friedman, a Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California Riverside and Leslie Martin, Professor of Psychology at La Sierra University in Riverside, California analyzed the data from this 90 year old study and published their conclusions in a book titled The Longevity Project.

One of the more fascinating things they found was that the people who lived the longest were not the ones who were the happiest or the most laid back, but the ones who were the most engaged in pursuing their goals.  The authors concluded the idea that working too hard can shorten your life is a myth.  What they found instead was that, “The people who worked the hardest lived the longest.”  Janice Lloyd from USA Today reviewed the book and came up with this prescription for longevity: ‘Work hard (at something you enjoy).  Don’t retire early.’” http://reminders.rossreck.com/?p=521

If moving beyond your “habitual” comfort zone has been difficult for you either physically or emotionally—all is not lost.  Your willpower is like a muscle.  How cool is that?

Your willpower muscle can be fatigued so it can’t perform indefinitely, which means you need to pick and choose your priority tasks to get the greatest bang for your willpower buck.  If you’ve had a stressful day at work, you’re more likely not to want to exercise when you get home, for example—no newsflash there!  So perhaps change your workout routine to morning, before work; or add some form of motivation to exercise after work, like meeting a friend at yoga class!

Studies also show if you constantly put forth willpower toward a given goal, it will be easier and easier to do so the next time.  In addition to that, if you take care of yourself by getting the right amount of sleep and nutrition as well as work on positive emotions, you’ll fatigue your willpower muscle less easily http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/dont-delay/200902/self-regulation-failure-part-2-willpower-is-muscle

So being curious about your resistance, but not giving in to that resistance, will build your willpower muscle as it trains your mind. This sentiment is similar to one a famous yogi expressed in his book, The Art of Joyful Living by Swami Rama.  (He was one of the first yogis to allow himself to be studied by Western scientists. In the 1960s he allowed himself to be examined by scientists at the Menninger Clinic who studied his ability to voluntarily control bodily processes—such as heartbeat, blood pressure, body temperature, etc.—that are normally considered to be non-voluntary—autonomic). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swami_Rama

In his book, he talks about transforming our habit patterns.  I mentioned earlier that it’s becoming a habit for most of us simply to avoid the uncomfortable, but is this a habit we really want to keep?  He suggests that when we train ourselves physically, that trains our mind as well; and vice versa—a common sentiment expressed on the benefits of yoga.

Learn to focus on the mat, and you’ll learn to focus off the mat.  Learn to use the energy of resistance on the mat to stay in the pose, and you’ll learn to use the energy of resistance in life to work through seeming problems.  Shine the light of curiosity on any resistance you feel physically, mentally, or emotionally and watch what happens to the resistance.  It may not totally go away, but in trying to define it, you just may find it weakens.

“If you are awake, but you remain in bed, it is because there is a coloring of tamas, laziness or inertia, in your personality. Your mind will say, ‘Oh, it’s Sunday, I don’t have to work, let me stay in bed.’ That’s a bad way of training yourself; it’s a bad way of teaching your mind. Regardless of whether it’s Sunday or Monday, you should get up. Otherwise, you are wasting time and energy, and at the same time you are forming a bad habit that affects you on both the physical and mental levels. Training the physical habits in this way has a direct result in training the mind.

This is an important secret of life: if you remain idle without doing something useful, your mind thinks scattered and random thoughts, and wastes its energy.” https://www.himalayaninstitute.org/YI/article.aspx?id=4018

“We cannot improve the caliber of the human being, but we can guide it.  When we guide ourselves and are not at the mercy of subconscious habits then we become master of the self.  But overcoming old habits and starting new ones requires strong nerves and willpower.  ~ Gurudarshan Khalsa, Kundalini Blessings Meditations for the Aquarian Age. 

All I’m saying is if you are curious about just what the resistance is and where it’s coming from, perhaps it will go away when you shine your light of attention on it.  The capacity to understand what makes up your personality develops your willpower.

This is exactly what happened to me as I held the poses longer in the recent training.  By the end of the four-day training, I was enjoying the long holds and looked forward to the exhilaration of going beyond my usual resistance to what I know knew was a habit to avoid being “uncomfortable”. It was fun being more challenged than I normally challenge myself.

Yes, I felt the muscles the next few days, but it wasn’t a pain of misuse.  It was the pain of a muscle who went beyond its “habitual” comfort zone—which is part of the goal if I want to grow.  If I were always comfortable, my body would never get stronger.  It would plateau.  There would be no change.  Did I drop out of a pose before the others at times?  Of course I did.  Only you know where your edge is.

I suspect we’ve all become so used to avoiding anything uncomfortable that we challenge ourselves less and less.  How about you?  Do you think you could raise the bar on challenging yourself? Are you trying to omit all feelings from your life that aren’t pleasant? 

To build character, do something for no other reason than its difficulty. ~ William James

“Remember, Yoga practice is like an obstacle race:  many obstructions are purposely put on the way for us to pass through.  They are there to make us understand and express our own capacities.  We all have that strength, but we don’t seem to know it.  We seem to need to be challenged and tested in order to understand our own capacities.  In fact, that is the natural law:  If a river just flows easily, the water in the river does not express its power.  But once you put an obstacle to the flow by constructing a dam, then you can see its strength in the form of tremendous electrical power.”  ~ Swami Satchidananda

How are your habits affecting your goals?  “We can become too used to what is usual and miss what is important.” ~ Judith Lasater.

We all have goals about where we want to be in five years, ten years, twenty years, etc.  If you want to be active and happy emotionally, mentally and physically throughout your life, what do you need to be doing now?  If you want to pursue your life’s dreams, what do you need to start doing now?  If you want to be able to take long walks and play with your grandchildren, what do you need to start doing now? 

Look at your resistance to starting those things and shine your attention to just what it is you are resisting.  We can resist success as much as failure because sometimes deep down we are afraid of both. Try to understand the reasons you resist starting to work on your goals.  How is your ability to totally commit to your goals related to the resistance you feel?  First ask yourself: What is the worst that can happen? Then prepare to accept it. Then proceed to improve on the worst.” ~ Dale Carnegie.

Don’t live your life on autopilot.  If you want tomorrow to be different from today, you’ll need to take yourself off autopilot and make different decisions today than the ones you made yesterday.”  ~ Unknown author.

“If you desire a glorious future, transform the present.” ~ Pantanjali

“So long as we are on automatic, we are propelled by our own habit patterns, and this merely reproduces our state of unenlightenment.  The moment we introduce mindfulness, however, we can control undesirable thoughts, motivations, emotions, and actions and activate their positive counterparts.” ~ Georg Feuerstein, Yoga Gems, A Treasury of Practical and Spiritual Wisdom from Ancient and Modern Masters.

I am a firm believer that all change is good.  It literally means you are alive!  Looking at your habits and deciding if it’s time for a change is something we should all do regularly.  How about you?  Are you afraid of change?  Perhaps analyzing your habits makes you “uncomfortable”?  There’s that word “uncomfortable” again!  Invite change into your life physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Get curious about any resistance to change.  Is it a habit?  Try something new.  You just may find out you like it better than what you’ve been doing. 

“We limit the expression of God in our lives when we simply exist, rather than when we exist in a way that allows for the biggest expression of the Infinite that is possible for us at the time.”  Ask yourself where am I living small?  Allow yourself to contemplate what living large would look like in those areas of your life.  Source:  Science of Mind, July 12 daily reading.

Here’s where I add the common sense rule.  If you’re trying to change something that cannot be changed, like make yourself small-boned when you are big-boned, or you want to change someone else for example, you are just inviting trouble.  Drilling down to the “whys” of your habits and your resistance doesn’t mean you are not taking care of yourself.  On the contrary, it means you are getting to know you so well that you know exactly what you need when you need it.

Remember the serenity prayer:  God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. 

Accept all is as it is supposed to be although you have the power to change it.  You get to decide.  How can I change it?  If it’s something that cannot be changed, you still have the power to change it from resistance to acceptance.  Accept things you cannot change without resistance. 

So yes I am challenging you to reassess what you consider comfortable and decide if it’s something you habitually strive for.  There’s nothing wrong with comfort and there’s nothing wrong with habits as long as you are aware of why you are doing what you are doing.  Once you really, really know the whys, you may decide you want to change it. It’s about getting to know you and how you tick. Analyze your habits and decide if you like them.

Habits you may not be aware of:

  • Speaking negatively or using negative descriptors 

Take a look at the words that you use when you share your day with your friends and loved ones.  Are you using positive words and focusing on positive experiences? This leads to the following bullet.

  • Referring to yourself as a victim

Even if you feel victimized, try not to speak about it negatively.  The next time you want to talk about a situation that bothers you, remember that “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” ~Eleanor Roosevelt It’s up to you to decide how you react to a situation.  Try it for a week.  Speak only of yourself as being stronger than you think you are.  Watch the magic happen.  You’ll begin to feel empowered, I promise.

  • Exercising at the same level of intensity because it’s what you’re used to 

This is where I started today’s musing.  I consider myself in pretty good shape.  When I realized I was dropping out of poses much sooner than I was really capable of, I have to say I was actually a bit embarrassed.  I wouldn’t have described myself as a slacker!  Keep the common sense rule in mind that I mentioned earlier.  If working out longer or harder means you’ll be in sincere pain of misuse later, DON’T do it!  But if it means you’ll feel your muscles a bit more and perhaps gain a newly improved physique in the process, why not?

  • Breaking down easily when stressed

I read once that if you make it a habit to break down regularly—be it crying, pouting, sulking, or any other such thing—you are bleeding your power.  You’re creating a habit where your first reaction will be to fall apart.  Sometimes releasing anxiety is helpful and therapeutic.  I’m not talking about the sighs of release I recommend when holding pigeon pose (a great hip-opener that helps release the emotions stored there), or going for a walk to blow off some steam.  I’m talking about feeling beat before you’ve even tried because it’s your habit to break down first.  Don’t bleed your power.

It took me a long time to learn this one.  I remember getting an inkling of it years ago when I went off the road during a snow storm and immediately started to cry.  Only a few seconds into the crying I realized that crying wasn’t going to get me any closer to being out of the ditch!  I actually giggled to myself when I saw how silly the crying was and proceeded to get my shovel out of the trunk.  Catch yourself the next time you start to break down out of habit.  Don’t bleed your power. Keep your power within you.

  • Being easily distracted

How about the habit of not completing the task before us (or staying in a pose for any length of time) because society has trained us to do too many things at once, moving from one task to the next so quickly we may not even realize we haven’t completed the task we started.  I call it “There goes a bird!” syndrome.  Analyze who is driving you to move so quickly.  I sometimes find myself speeding more than I should even though I’m not late for where I’m going.  Is this you?  Is this healthy?

You are exactly where you are supposed to be right now regardless of past habits.  Sometimes those habits needed to be there to protect you for awhile.  That’s okay.  Now is the time to touch your power—to shine your light of curiosity onto your habits and decide if you want to keep them or not. 

It doesn’t matter where they came from.  What matters is you get to decide where they’re going. 

30
May

“Dorothy: Did you say something? Tin Woodsman: [indiscernible sounds from the Tin Man, who is rusted] Dorothy: He said oil can!

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Off-the-Wall Musings
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Each month, “My Better Day” newsletter contains tips for your yoga practice, yoga quotes to bring yoga off the mat and into your life, affirmations to brighten your day and motivate, and more!  It is my wish for your well-being that I send this newsletter to help make your day a Better Day!

In this issue: Yoga quote, Practice yoga pose, Meditation on the go, Chakrascope, Hand Mudra, Featured Card Deck and Quote, Healthy News, Featured Recipe, Favorite Yoga Music / DVD, Happenings at Better Day Yoga LLC, Final Relaxation Quote.

Namasté,

Sandy Krzyzanowski

Founder, Better Day Yoga LLC

Dorothy: Did you say something?
Tin Woodsman: [indiscernible sounds from the Tin Man, who is rusted]
Dorothy: He said oil can!
Scarecrow: Oil can what?
Dorothy: Oil can.
Dorothy: Where do you want to be oiled first?”

 

If you haven’t watched The Wizard of Oz, the above quote is new to you.  But let me just add that if you haven’t watched The Wizard of Oz, you need to!  I quit counting how many times I’ve watched it.  I grew up in a world of no videos or DVDs so when The Wizard of Oz came on annually, I was committed to being there—as was every last child in my neighborhood!  I think when something is only going to be available for a short time; we take the time to be present with it. We appreciate things more when we don’t have access to them all the time.  They take on their own magic, don’t they?

Take flowering bushes and trees, for example. As I write this, I can see lilac bushes from my window, and when those bushes are done, there’s another group of bushes closer to our house that will bloom a bit later—sort of like “take two”.  My husband grew up with lilacs on his family’s farmland, so they’re sentimental to him.  I have grown to love them both for their beauty as well as the emotion they evoke in my husband.  In our front yard, there are both white and pink flowering trees, and another in the cul-de-sac.  They are all a yearly reminder that it’s time to bloom, so be present, or the opportunity to enjoy it will be gone. “The earth laughs in flowers.”~E.E. Cummings.

We each have the ability to stop our thoughts, stop all the doing, and be present with what’s in front of us—A constant theme in my yoga classes.  “There’s no place else you need to be, nothing else you need to do, but be present.”

If you’ve been reading my newsletters, you already know I love The Wizard of Oz. In my March 2011 newsletter (http://betterdayyoga.com/tag/march-2011), I wrote about magical events and “the little people”, and I highlighted The Wizard of Oz:

The Wizard of Oz had me believing in a place far away over the rainbow where wizards and good witches helped you find your way home along with your good friends—the talking scarecrow, tin man, and lion.  Will you ever doubt you have the power within you after hearing it from Glinda, the good witch?  watch?v=11BQQvVy8LI

I’ve often said that I believe everything is a sign; and in particular, when things come to me in threes, I pay attention.  So when there were four references to Wizard of Oz during the graduation day from my second 200-hour yoga teacher training, I knew I had my next newsletter topic.

We started the last day of our final three-day module (eight months of three-day modules, once a month, comprised this training), doing what’s called a “Popcorn Yoga” class.  This means that all eight teacher trainers and our master teacher, TeriLeigh, taught the class to each other with guests also present as students.  We each popped up when the spirit moved us, or when we were “tagged” by a teacher.

One of the teachers was cueing “Cat/Cow” pose and I popped up to share that I like to refer to this pose as “my Tin Man pose” since it’s like the oil can in The Wizard of Oz.  It warms and lubricates the spine, giving it flexibility.  This is a great pose to do every day.  (See the Practice Yoga Pose below for more.)

Perhaps I invoked the sleeping magic contained within the characters of this movie by using the Tin Man analogy.  Perhaps it was the graduation ritual TeriLeigh had prepared for us that day that brought forth the magic.  (Not your usual graduation “ceremony”–this one was filled with the magic of nature, the five elements, remembering and calling in our ancestors, and speaking to the power and light within each other. We then sealed it with song, a special commemorative necklace and journal, and a toast from each of us to each of us. What an awesome ending to an awesome eight months!)

It was after the graduation ritual that we added our own fire ritual.  Now don’t laugh.  Over eight months we all worked hard to remove our schmaltzy yoga teacher voice.  You know the one.  It sounds like we’re almost wanting to hypnotize our students and we’re saying the same flowery phrases. There were many times over the past eight months that we were each called on the carpet for using that voice!  We vowed many times to be rid of her.  So, we nicknamed that voice, gave the name to a doll at our graduation ceremony, and burned her!

As the doll burned and then melted, more than one of us jokingly mimicked the words of the Wicked Witch of the West as she melted:  “I’m melting! I’m melting!” It was then that we noticed the doll’s red shoes, still intact and peeking out from under the wood—recalling the Wicked Witch of the East’s death when Dorothy’s house landed on her. This was the second and third of four Wizard of Oz connections that day…Good bye yoga teacher voice!

The Fire Ritual wasn’t part of the original plan for our graduation.  It wasn’t until each student expressed the heated desire to be rid of their yoga teacher voice persona that someone suggested a more symbolic way to be rid of her. What would YOU like to be rid of once and for all?  Try making your own personal fire ritual by making a list of what is holding you back, or what you’re afraid of, and then ritually burning it (in a safe place of course!).

“Fire is the Gateway to the world of the Ancestral Realm. As that which is burned turns to ash and smoke, fire serves as the element transgresses the physical to the spiritual. Through drumming, chanting, dancing, and interaction with fire inside the sacred space of community, fire ritual is how we connect and communicate with Ancestors in Spirit World to help us burn through that which no longer serves us, to let go of that which we no longer need, and to ignite our motivation, inspire our passion, and motivate our action in the direction of our purpose.” http://www.terileigh.com/fireritual.html.  (TeriLeigh offers other wonderful group rituals for cleansing and purifying—water, nurturing and abundance—earth, and release—grief).

Rituals are done for their symbolic value. Repetitive use of ritual builds your inner commitment, your inner energy. Rituals connect you to Spirit. “even though you can’t control the outside world, with the power of your Spirit, you can create a sense of purpose within that brings about profound contentment and personal peace—no matter what is going on around you. Unless we maintain a daily practice of connecting with our Spirit, we won’t feel its presence and support in our lives. My grace in life was learning early on how to connect with the Holy Spirit within on a daily basis. In fact, I was shown how to make it the foundation of my existence through many practices that have been so reinforced by repetition that they are now woven into the very fabric of who I am.”~The Power of Your Spirit by Sonia Choquette.
http://www.dailyom.com/library/000/002/000002586.html

I compose my newsletters in my home office in the basement which sometimes gets into disarray with all my reference books, calendars, bookkeeping, etc.  I have struggled with making this corner of the basement a place I want to be in—an inspiring place.  For awhile I moved my computer upstairs in the kitchen whenever I worked on the newsletter because it was brighter up there, and I felt less isolated…until I started this self-created ritual:

My husband knows I love sound healing and “singing bowls.”  “Singing bowls (also known as Tibetan Singing Bowls, rin gongs, medicine bowls, Tibetan bowls or suzu gongs in Japan) are a type of bell, specifically classified as a standing bell. Rather than hanging inverted or attached to a handle, standing bells sit with the bottom surface resting. The sides and rim of singing bowls vibrate to produce sound. Singing bowls were traditionally used throughout Asia and the tradition of making sound with bronze bowls could go back 3,000 years to the bronze age. Today they are employed worldwide both within and without spiritual traditions, for meditation, music, relaxation, personal well-being and religious practice. Singing bowls are used in health care by oncologists, psychotherapists, massage therapists, recovery, stress and meditation specialists. They are popular in classrooms to help facilitate group activities and focus students’ attention.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singing_bowl

One of our weekend jaunts took us to Grand Avenue in St. Paul.  There’s a wonderful shop called Ten Thousand Villages (http://stpaul.tenthousandvillages.com/php/stores.festivals/store.homepage.php).  You must visit this wonderful store if you haven’t yet!  “Ten Thousand Villages in St. Paul, MN, is a fair trade retailer of artisan-crafted home decor, personal accessories and gift items from across the globe. Featuring products from more than 130 artisan groups in some 38 countries, we are part of a network of over 390 retail outlets throughout the United States selling Ten Thousand Villages products.”

We found a shelf with three or four different singing bowls made of metal and proceeded to play on each of them.  My husband has a knack for this.  He often makes wine glasses sing while I futilely try to do the same.  I’ve often said he could make a paper cup sing.  Well there was one small metal bowl that I could make sing without fail.  It was close to my birthday…you’ve probably figured out the rest.  My husband bought it for me.

Each morning when I go down to my office, after turning on the computer, I ring a small bell hanging from my dragonfly lamp announcing the opening of my day, and then I light my salt lamp. (Many studies have shown that salt crystal lamps can increase the negative ion count. Negative ions benefit asthma patients, people with chronic lung illnesses, and allergy sufferers. As well, they help improve learning, memory, and emotional well being. By creating a balance of ions in the air, they stimulate natural drive and healthy energy. A low-cost method, a salt lamp is an excellent source of negative ion. Healthy ions cleanse the air. Ever experienced the change in the air after a good rain? That’s from negative ions. http://www.natural-salt-lamps.com/polishsaltlamps.html )

Then I play my singing bowl either clockwise or counterclockwise, depending on my intent.  I’d read (can’t find the source!) that clockwise aligns the chakras and counterclockwise clears them of negativity or blocks.  “It is said that Tibetan singing bowls are forged with a prayer in every hammer blow, infusing them with a million prayers of pure intention for the highest good.” http://www.crystalsingingbowls.com/about_crystal_singing_bowls.htm.  I imagine the highest good coming out of my time in my office that day.

Next I light a candle and some incense. After the lighting I say two blessings. The first is from one of my favorite kit of three candles called “Office Blessing” from Coventry Creations:  A Votive Triad of Prosperity, Sacred Space and Inspiration.  The intent on the label of the “votive triad” is:  “Work Space is an expression of our creativity as well as our attitude about work. Let the place where you spend so much of your adult life show you joy, abundance and the pure satisfaction of achievement. Keep this in focus while blessing your career.”

Now here’s the first blessing: “This place that I create in is sacred and holds gifts most precious to me. It holds my heart which bears my truth. It holds my mind which bears my life. It holds my spirit which bears my inspiration. With all three, I create joy.” http://www.coventrycreations.com/product_info.php?products_id=118

The second blessing is also from a Coventry Creations candle entitled “Guardian Protector Affirmation candle” and reads:

“Guardian Protector, I am in need of you.  Clear away the interference of others, be they in body or spirit, and strengthen my personal fortress of protection.  I am safe and comforted in your presence.” http://www.coventrycreations.com/product_info.php?products_id=31

I love affirmations—which is a constant theme in my newsletters.  Perhaps that’s why I love these candles and lighting candles with blessings. On the side of the Guardian Protector candle, it reads:  “Affirmations, when fully embraced, can fill your body, mind and spirit with their life changing powers.  The strength of an affirmation comes from the inner commitment you make to its success.  Combining your affirmation with a candle specially designed for the same purpose further enhances your personal magic, deepening its effect.”  I simply love these candles for the ritual and empowerment they’ve brought to my life, and they smell awesome!  I burn other candles, but these two blessings are a constant.  They’ve created a sense of the sacred for me as I enter my office, and infuse a deeper sense of purpose.

A great way to invite ritual into your life would be to create a sacred space in your home. “When you compare the floor plans of modern homes with those of ancient times, you will see that our needs have essentially gone unchanged. There is one major difference, however. In the space where the ancients once kept their altars, most modern homes now sport a television.

The effects of having a sacred space in the home are profound. In times of loss, extra stress, or when the world seems unfair, this place can be a refuge. No matter where you live or how much room you have, a corner or small shelf space can become a tool for creating closure, initiating new changes, setting goals and opening yourself to inner guidance. So make room for a few items (a candle, crystals, fresh flowers or pictures) that represent peace, calm and inspiration. Spend a little time every day in front of your altar and watch your capacity for reverence grow and overflow.”~ From the book Your Altar:  Creating a Sacred Space for Prayer and Meditation by Sandra Kynes.  http://www.yogamint.com/_webapp_1964078/Altar_Your_Space

Other ways to initiate new changes, or let go of what we no longer need, includes writing a list of things we’re afraid of or that we feel are holding us back.  Then drown the fears and limitations by immersing the list in water, burning the list, or burying it into the earth. You can also tear the list up into little pieces, throw it away, and then write a list of clearing affirmations that affirm what you want.

Now onto the fourth magical reference to The Wizard of Oz on graduation day.  We held our graduation rituals at the home of a fellow student—and what an awesome home it was—Thanks, Dana and Mark!  My husband and I joked about moving in on the deck.  The view out their lovely, green back yard was amazing—lush, green trees, a serene lake, deer roaming, ahh!  You could even call it an “Emerald City” now that I think about it—wink, wink.

Dana and Mark own a terrier just like the one on The Wizard of Oz. It wasn’t until after the other Wizard of Oz references that I heard the story of their dog “Jojo” and how they adopted the dog from a previous owner.  Perhaps to honor “Jojo’s” new beginnings and the freedom to roam her beautiful, new surroundings, they renamed their adorable terrier “Jojo”.  “Jojo’s” original name was—yes you guessed it—“Toto”!

Wizard of Oz analogy: I couldn’t help but wonder what message The Wizard of Oz characters were trying to tell us.  The last eight months had been an amazing journey—perhaps it could be called our very own “Hero’s Journey”.

“According to folklorists and other narrative scholars, the hero’s journey forms the basic template for all great stories. Described at length in Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces, the hero’s journey serves as the tale every culture tells. The journey’s path is described variously, but in general it includes the call to adventure, a supernatural aide or mentor, initiation by trials and adventures, victory, and return. Many fiction- and screen-writing courses focus on the hero’s journey, and its universality can easily be seen in fairy tales and other traditional tales (like Moses and the Prodigal son in the bible), as well as in such popular culture offerings as J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and George Lucas’ Star Wars.” http://www.cramster.com/definitions/heros-journey/553.

Over the past eight months of training, each of us were called to grow beyond our comfort zones and at times I was petrified just like Dorothy and just like the Wizard of Oz himself:  Dorothy: Weren’t you frightened? Wizard of Oz: Frightened? Child, you’re talking to a man who’s laughed in the face of death, sneered at doom, and chuckled at catastrophe… I was petrified.

There were times I wanted to quit for fear of losing what I thought was myself, but was really a fear of change.  This training confirmed for me that we do our best learning when we’re scared.  When you’re scared, you tend to learn very quickly and efficiently, or you run.  I wasn’t going to run because while I was afraid, I also knew that change requires feeling different—it demands it.  I knew I’d always regret it if I didn’t see it through to the end, and I knew I would use all that I learned to become better.  There’s always a lesson.

“Change of any sort requires courage”~Maryanne Radmacher.

So I became like the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz in search of courage.  I started out faking it hoping I wouldn’t be found out, and ended up finding out I had it within all along—like Dorothy.  I felt inadequate and lacking in knowledge, like the Scarecrow, but I ended up being the one everyone acknowledged and admired for having the most “nuggets of knowledge” to share during my classes.

Side note on the Scarecrow—I remember it was my Dad who always pointed out that Scarecrow was always the brains of Dorothy’s rescue—before the Wizard bestowed him with the diploma and “honorary degree of Th.D, …that’s Doctor of Thinkology”.  The knowledge was there all along. Had my Dad been alive he would have been the first to tell me I was as smart as the next person—if not smarter (he was my Dad after all).  During my part of the graduation ritual, my fellow students affirmed their belief that I had much knowledge to share, among many other beautiful comments; and a magical bird sang loudly as they spoke.  TeriLeigh pointed the bird out so we’d all make a note of it.  Later the only birds Dana and Mark acknowledged as being prominent in the area were cardinals.  I don’t know if the bird was a cardinal or not.  Just the mention of a cardinal reminds me of my Dad.  My Dad loved cardinals which is why the cardinal is the bird I always use as a sign that Dad is close by.  Thanks for always being there, Dad.

How about you?  Do you feel inadequate to the task at times?  Find your inner scarecrow.  We all have inner knowledge that is waiting inside to be revealed.  We just need to acknowledge it, and there it is.  What haven’t YOU acknowledged in yourself that’s YOUR special gift?  It’s there.

“Assume that you are the expert on your own experience, and that you have information which other people need to hear.”~Ricky Sherover Marcuse

The Wizard as he presented Tin Man with his ‘heart’: “Therefore, in consideration of your kindness, I take pleasure at this time in presenting you with a small token of our esteem and affection. And remember, my sentimental friend, that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.”

There were many moments during graduation and the past eight months where my fellow students showed kindness and friendship towards me—and vice versa.  I will always treasure each and every one of them.  During our graduation ritual, each of us had a chance to speak, all at the same time, to the one being acknowledged at the time (who remained silent).  Two were assigned to write the comments they heard into your personal journal that TeriLeigh gave each of us as a gift for our graduation.  Each and every comment written in my journal brings tears of joy and I am filled with immense gratitude. Tin Man to Dorothy: “Now I know I’ve got a heart, because it’s breaking.”

“We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed.  As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over. So in a series of kindness there is, at last, one which makes the heart run over.”~James Boswell.

We all meet new people in our daily round.  Sometimes they start out seemingly plain and perhaps even ordinary. Sometimes it isn’t until the end of the journey that you realize and appreciate the gifts each person has brought you—the magic inside is revealed.  And like the famous Joni Mitchell song, Big Yellow Taxi, “Don’t it always seem to go, you don’t know what you got ‘till it’s gone.”—suddenly the moment has passed and the journey has ended. I know I’ll have these friends forever, but the monthly training modules, and the final graduation ritual—those moments are precious moments to be honored and acknowledged for We may never pass this way again”~Seals and Crofts. watch?v=Vd6zYQPCgsc&feature=related

“Sometimes, the hero’s journey involves learning to believe in ourselves and our ability to play our part. We may even need to grow into and accept our ability to lead others, overcoming guilt or confusion–you remember Simba in The Lion King? Joseph Campbell taught that the hero’s journey is primarily a journey to the center of yourself, an inner journey to wholeness and understanding.

So it’s possible to see your entire life as a hero’s journey. And at the end of your life, you have the opportunity to look back with wonder, awe, and compassionate understanding at all that you have learned and experienced.” http://www.lyricalworks.com/herojourney/herojourney.htm

I would be remiss if I didn’t give a special thanks to our master teacher, TeriLeigh Schmidt.  Thank you for helping me become a better me—for helping me find the courage within.

Cowardly Lion: “I never would’ve found it if it hadn’t been for you…”

30
April

“Be with air, add water—physiological weather.” Dream message 4/28/11.

Written by Sandy. Posted in: Off-the-Wall Musings
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Each month, “My Better Day” newsletter contains tips for your yoga practice, yoga quotes to bring yoga off the mat and into your life, affirmations to brighten your day and motivate, and more!  It is my wish for your well-being that I send this newsletter to help make your day a Better Day!

In this issue: Yoga quote, Practice yoga pose, Meditation on the go, Chakrascope, Hand Mudra, Featured Card Deck and Quote, Healthy News, Featured Recipe, Favorite Yoga Music / DVD, Happenings at Better Day Yoga LLC, Final Relaxation Quote.

Namasté,

Sandy Krzyzanowski

Founder, Better Day Yoga LLC

“Be with air, add water—physiological weather.” Dream message 4/28/11.

I introduced dream messages back in my March 2010 newsletter (http://betterdayyoga.com/how-better-day-yoga-got-its-name-from-the-march-2010-newsletter/1162) when I explained how Better Day Yoga got its name, and my yoga quote was Kermit the Frog singing “The Rainbow Connection” song:

Have you been fast asleep
And have you heard voices,
I’ve heard them calling my name,
……
I’ve heard it too many times to ignore it
It’s something that I’m s’posed to be…

Someday we’ll find it
The Rainbow Connection
The lovers, the dreamers and me”
The Rainbow Connection song sung by Kermit the Frog

watch?v=lRvhRhWWE44

My April 2010 newsletter also used a dream message as the yoga quote just in time for the Easter season. Here’s another dream message newsletter!  I’m going to recap three of the opening paragraphs from March 2010 since it’s been a bit some time, and they’ll also serve as my “fair warning”:

I heard my favorite author, Wayne Dyer, once say in a presentation—and I’m paraphrasing here—that what he was about to say will sound a bit strange to some, but since he warned us in the listening crowd, it should be okay—like a “pass” of sorts. So fair warning to those out there who may think my story is a bit strange.

So, really, have YOU been half asleep, and have YOU heard voices? Well I have. I’m not the only one. Everyone has the ability to listen to their inner voice. Many cultures have considered the “between times”—the time between sleep and awake, dawn and dusk, or any time that is neither one nor the other—“times of greatest inspiration and power” when “You will find yourself more effective in all of your activities.” Animal Speak, Ted Andrews. If that doesn’t hit home for you, remember Albert Einstein developed his theory of relativity through a dream. Enough said.

I knew I’d get simple statements that would pop into my head that weren’t in my typical syntax as I was coming out of sleep. At first I thought little of them, but then realized they were, to say the least, a bit interesting. So I started to ask this inner voice/guide/insert your comfortable title here, to help with advice and inspiration.

I consistently receive these wonderful tidbits from the Universe.  Sometimes they make sense, and other times they require more sleuthing.

Earlier this month (April, 2011), I’d been listening over and over to the section in “The Secret” CD where Rhonda Byrne explains how we are “the most powerful transmission tower in the Universe.  In simple terms, all energy vibrates at a frequency.  Being energy, you also vibrate at a frequency, and what determines your frequency at any time is whatever you are thinking and feeling.  All the things you want are made of energy, and they are vibrating to you.  Everything is energy.

Here is the ‘wow’ factor.  When you think about what you want, and you emit that frequency, you cause the energy of what you want to vibrate at that frequency and you bring it to you!  As you focus on what you want, you are changing the vibration of the atoms of that thing, and you are causing it to vibrate to You.  The reason you are the most powerful transmission tower in the Universe is because you have been given the power to focus your energy through your thoughts and alter the vibrations of what you are focused on, which then magnetically draws it to you.”

I simply loved that excerpt and kept hitting the replay on that section over and over.  Well a day or so after that, I got the in between sleep and awake message:  “Get wired with your regrets. Will freely.”  See what I mean by atypical syntax?  You might think, what the heck?  “Get wired” to me implied energy and vibration.  I immediately knew that I was being told to take the regrets I have in life, and turn them around with the focus of what I want instead and use my will to do that “freely”, or “a lot”.

Here’s another dream message that like most personal messages, meant something to me immediately: “Be with air, add water—physiological weather”, is last night’s dream message.  When I received this message, I immediately thought of it as an Ayurvedic message (sister science to Yoga) since I’m the poster child for “Vata” which is of the elements “ether” and “air”.  What’s Ayurveda you ask?

I touched upon Ayurveda in my June 2010 newsletter since I’d recently participated in a wonderful two-day introduction training through YogaFit® on Ayurveda taught by uber-qualified Felicia M. Tomasko, R.N., http://www.ayurveda-caam.org/about/board.html#tomasko.

Here’s a quick recap:

Ayurveda is the “sister science” to yoga and is a natural system of medicine that has been practiced for more than 5000 years.  A dosha is your Ayurvedic mind and body type.  There are three doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha) and we all have all three doshas in us to varying degrees. Our “mix” of each dosha is our “constitution” or “Prakriti”.

Vata types (my dominant dosha) are connected to the air and space, so they are similar to the wind—dry, cool, and capable of fast, unpredictable movement and thought. Pittas are aligned with fire, influenced by air, and act with intense determination. Finally, kaphas are a combination of earth and water, move slowly and gracefully, and tend to be both stable and loyal. http://www.yogajournal.com/health/859?utm_source=DailyInsight&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_campaign=DailyInsight

Another interesting, knowledgeable yogi I follow specializes in Ayurveda—Melina Meza.  Here’s an excerpt from her wonderful book, Art of Sequencing, Volume Two: “The more familiar you are with your Prakriti (constitution or “mix” of doshas), the more you can prepare yourself for the physical and mental health issues that typically affect people with your constitution. For example, if your constitution is composed predominantly of ether and air (Vata), you would typically see health issues related to anxiety, nerve disorders, joint issues, or constipation. Knowing these strengths and weaknesses based on the elements, you might consider drinking less caffeine, consuming less sugar, eating more fiber, and booking regular massages to ward off the typical imbalances related to ether and air.

Prakritis with strong affiliation to fire and water (Pitta) will often experience heat-related imbalances such as skin rashes, diarrhea, digestive disorders, or high blood pressure. To help manage the fire and water elements, you might consider decreasing hot and spicy foods, meditating, and avoiding being outside in the hottest part of the day.

Earth- and water-based constitutions (Kapha) often discover swelling, depression, excess mucus, or challenges managing their weight and metabolism with a base Prakriti rooted in the heavy, wet elements. Often proper diet, nutrition, and exercise will keep the earth- and water-based constitutions healthy. Knowing your Prakriti and your physical and mental patterns—something you can learn by a consultation with an Ayurvedic practitioner—might inspire you to cultivate a more holistic lifestyle, one connected to Nature and her five elements.” To read more, order your copy today: www.melinameza.com

I’ll repeat the links from the June 2010 newsletter to help you zero in on what your dominant dosha might be or which dosha might be out of balance.  Caution!  Ayurveda is like eating potato chips…you can’t stop with just one piece!  You’ll want to consume all you can!  Remember, you have all three doshas in you so you’ll find attributes of each:

http://www.whatsyourdosha.com/

http://www.holisticonline.com/w_ayurveda-dvikruti1.htm
http://www.yogajournal.com/health/498

http://www.yogajournal.com/health/1517?utm_source=DailyInsight&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_content=b&utm_campaign=DI_2009-12-06#doc

Being dominantly “Vata” makes me prone to worry and stress.  The Vata dosha is aggravated by change (movement), and dryness, among other things.  Too much activity (think of movement as an air quality), and too many thoughts causing anxiety (again think of the turbulence of monkey mind.)

The world we live in is Vata-oriented.  So a Vata in a Vata environment, well that’s a recipe for becoming out of balance.  We are constantly in motion, using electronics filled with movement, in cars and airplanes in dry environments, etc., etc.  I think we’re all in agreement here.  Vata is the one dosha that easily gets out of balance in today’s world.

So I thought the dream message was telling me to “be with air”—to be okay and present with that since that is what I am—Vata.  I really have no choice but to be with it, and to learn how to be with it.

Yoga teaches us to accept what is both on and off the mat.  The pose you’re in may not be perfect to you, but it’s perfect for your body for that moment of that day.  So be with it.  Listen to your body as it is in that pose.  Listen to your body throughout the day and be with whatever is, without reacting to it.  Notice the feelings in your body as they come up. Be with them.

My dream message says to “add water”.  My secondary dosha is Pitta which is of the element fire and involves transformation of all kinds.  Unbalanced Pitta has to do with being driven and overly ambitious which can create inflammatory conditions in the body and mind.  The way to balance Pitta is to emphasize the relaxation of effort and flow like water to cool the heat and fire in the body and mind.  Also cultivating a one-pointed mind will balance Pitta.

Have you heard the quote, “You can’t push the river”?  That applies here.  Nature’s time / the Universe’s time has its own schedule. We can’t push it.  It will do no good.  It’s like the infamous story of the gardener who plants carrots but keeps digging them up to see if they’re growing yet thinking that will help them along—no patience!  It only deters their growth and adds frustration to the process.  I know I get out of balance with my Pitta/fire dosha.  I know that “add water” is definitely good advice!  How about you?  Remember we all have all three doshas in varying degrees.

So “Be with air, add water—physiological weather” was a perfect way to call out the Ayurvedic mind and body types and to refer to the “weather” of what was going on physiologically in my body.  The thing that I love most about the dream messages is the unique, succinct way the message is given.  I couldn’t have come up with a more succinct way to say “Ayurveda doshas” than to define them as physiological markers or the physiological weather of the body at the time.

I thought I was done analyzing this simple, beautiful dream message, but there is more.  If you’ve been reading my recent newsletters, you know that I am currently participating in a second 200-hour yoga teacher training with TeriLeigh Schmidt.  In addition to being able to see the energy centers (chakras and auras) of the body, TeriLeigh has studied extensively with West African Shaman, Malidoma Somé.  In 2009, she was initiated as an Elder into the Dagara Tribe of Burkina Faso. The cosmology of the Dagara Tribe teaches the value of spiritual ritual, relationship to ancestors, and the healing powers of five elements: fire, water, earth, mineral, and nature.

Yesterday I met with TeriLeigh for a private “Shamanic divination” which makes my dream message even more magical since it came to me that night.  I am sure the message was “divination induced” since a divination connects you to your ancestors and through the process that follows you are inviting them to speak back.

Here’s TeriLeigh’s description of a “Shamanic divination”:  “A private cowry shell divination with TeriLeigh is conducted in the manner designed by Malidoma Some. TeriLeigh has completed Malidoma Some’s 2-year intensive training, which included sessions on conducting cowry shell divination. This personal session is ‘tailored to assist you in living more harmoniously in the natural world and in relationships with the spirit world.  You may be assigned personal rituals designed to support your growth and your deepening relationship with the natural and spiritual worlds’ (www.malidoma.com).

After a brief interview in which the client expresses the intention for the divination, the client will spread a small pile of cowry shells and other small items on a divination cloth decorated with the Dagara medicine wheel. Where the items land on the cloth and in relation to each other offer information for the client from the Spirit realm.” http://www.terileigh.com/shamanicdiv.html

I can’t begin to do justice to how very interesting, thought-provoking, and downright cool the divination was.  I’d definitely recommend it!  Some of the most interesting messages from my divination were in the “fire section” of the divination cloth.  It was there that the “transformation stone” landed as well as the “Divine Feminine” piece.  A small item that represented me landed in the water section.

Part of the message was to surrender to the flow of the universe—to let the flow happen vs. try to control everything.  The item that represented me was face up in the water section, which represents the part of me that wants to control the flow and doesn’t trust, so it watches with eyes open. Had it been relaxed and face down with eyes closed, it would have represented that I had trust and that I was going with and surrendering to the flow.

How about you? How often do we want to “push the river” and not “surrender to the flow”?  It’s hard isn’t it?  But actuality attempting to “push the river” is what makes life hard.  It’s when we can let go and surrender that life becomes easy.  “Letting go” involves trust.  Trust that the intelligence of the Universe knows what’s best and why wouldn’t it?

Matthew 6:26-30:  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

Now how about that “Divine Feminine” piece and the Transformation stone?  We each have a feminine and a masculine side.  The feminine energies give compassion, love, nurturing.  It also allows us to receive those qualities—be it from others, or more importantly, ourselves.  The masculine energies give strength, willpower, effort.  It also enables us to create and do all the wonderful things in life we set out to do.

Surrendering to the flow of life adds the water element to your life—flow.  Surrendering to the flow of life is letting the “divine feminine” within you receive all that life has to offer, no holds barred.  Did you get that?  No holds barred. That means no filtering of what comes through.  No needing to control when, where, or how it comes through.  No holds barred.

So “add water”, as my dream message directed, overlaps the Ayurvedic message to “cool it”.  To quit “doing” and start just letting it “be”.  To quit letting the masculine side be driven and overly ambitious just like the unbalanced “Pitta” dosha described above.

Air is the manifestation of movement and the power of the mind to think—masculine energies of effort and will.  This overlaps with the Ayurvedic message acknowledging that “air” is my dominant dosha and starting point.  “Vata” becomes unbalanced with too much movement, too many thoughts. This causes anxiety.  So just be with it.  “Be” vs. “do”.

The air is the masculine, the water the feminine.  “Be with air, add water—physiological weather.”  Let your desire “to do” relax and surrender to the flow.  The abundance that will make you personally abundant will follow.  Each of us has a different way to define what will make us abundant—that’s your physiological weather.

One of the rituals prescribed by the divination involves using water as medicine—running water, like a stream, river, or creek, and the use of milk which represents abundance.  “Water allows things to be, gets out of the way to accept things as they are.  Water represents the cycles of life always present.  It equals the flow of life and milk represents abundance so you are adding abundance into the flow of life.  Water flows, evaporates, and comes back to you.  What you give away comes back.” –TeriLeigh Schmidt.

(I’m thinking by now most of my readers know what chakras are.  Typically I discuss chakras in the “Chakrascope” section below.  If you are one of those readers that don’t go there because chakras are foreign to you, please give the next paragraph a try.  Chakra enthusiasts can skip the next paragraph!

Think of chakras like “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs”…remember those?  You need food and shelter before you can think about becoming enlightened.  For a crash course on chakras, here’s the intro to the chakrascope section just for you: There are seven energy centers called chakras (literally “wheels”) that store energy/life force/prana.  They are along the spinal column and correlate to major nerve ganglia branching forth from the spinal column.  Each has a different relationship to a gland in the body’s endocrine system.  Each stimulates different organs and systems in the body.  Hatha Yoga activates these energy centers releasing the energy that flows through the spine.  Yoga helps these energy centers/nerve bundles to function correctly clearing blocks that may be there.  Each chakra also is associated with a mental/emotional focus.)

In the chakra system, air is represented by the heart chakra—the love energy center, and water is represented by the sacral chakra—the creativity energy center. Every good thing in your life always begins with love and expands when love is added. Abundance cannot be obtained without love. When you do anything as a service out of love for others, your actions will always be abundant.

“Be with air, add water—physiological weather”.  So the dream message deepens—Be with the heart, add water as medicine to create abundance.  “Be with” or “focus on” doing things as a service to others with love, then release control by surrendering to the flow of life—allow life to deliver to you in its own natural time and way.  This will create/transform into the abundance you are looking for—be it financial, spiritual, or other.  How you define abundance for yourself will be what comes to you.  How you feel about abundance is your physiological weather.

Ayurveda, Shamanic Divination, Chakras—All true, real wisdom and knowledge overlaps. They lead to the same message. Don’t they?  Notice how each of these sources of information use the five elements of nature—they call them by different names, but they all go back to the creative forces in nature:  fire, water, earth, mineral, and nature, or earth, water, fire, air, and ether/space.  There are others.

Feng Shui, the science of placement, uses elements as well.  My favorite local but internationally known author on this subject is Carole J. Hyder. My favorite book by her is—wait for it—“Wind and Water”!    Be with air, add water!  I drove behind a semi-truck yesterday with Asian markings.  I was stuck behind it for some time so I started to ask what it might be telling me.  (Yes, everything is a message.  Are you listening?)  My mind went to Feng Shui which is another topic I’m enthralled with.  I realized as I drove that this system also uses the elements and I thought, gosh my intro this month is way too long already.  Really?  You think I should add another analogy of the dream message?  It wasn’t until this very moment that I pulled my favorite book and made the title-to-dream message connection.

I looked up the “Bagua” map in the front of the book.  It is a mental tool or map used to determine the placement of nine life issues as they are represented in your space.  Feng Shui science tells us that your space reflects your life.  Fix one, and the other benefits.

Be with air—the air element on the Bagua is represented by “wind” which corresponds to the wealth corner of the map.  Add water—the water element on the map has a couple different appearances.  “River” corresponds to the career area of the map and “Lake” corresponds to the creativity area.  How cool is that?  It starts with the abundance area—wealth—and adds career and creativity.

“Be with air, Add water—Physiological weather.”  This becomes “to be with abundance, develop your career using your creative talents”.  Be with what you already have and add creativity to experience the abundance you are looking for.  You’ll find your particular version of abundance based upon what your DNA needs to feel abundant. Do what you love and what brings you joy, and the flow of abundance will come to you naturally, the way nature intended, without struggle.

Just as the words of the prophets repeat throughout time with the same messages.  If you didn’t get it right or hear it the first time you, it will come to you in another form that perhaps now you’ll understand or accept. The Universe doesn’t give up on you.  It will keep sending you the lessons in different forms.

“You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”—Buddha You shall love your neighbor as yourself.“—Jesus (Matthew 22.37-40)

I invite you to listen for your own dream messages just as I did in March 2010:  Ask for inspiration on some subject of interest before you go to sleep. Do it several times knowing there’s inspiration if you look for it. Obviously you have to put a little heart into it.  Remember, “If you do not believe in magic, your life will not be magical”–Lynn V. Andrews.

Then find some mornings where it’s not the alarm waking you up. The key is to be in between sleep and awake, not jolted awake. Wait for it. You can also pay attention to your dreams. Find which works for you, and enjoy sleuthing out the answer.  Just as many dream books suggest you are the only one who knows what your dreams mean, the same goes for between sleep and awake messages.  Think of how you speak in code to those you love.  My husband and I have our own language!  Why not the Universe and you?

I’ve said it before—the more you practice listening, the easier it will be to hear the message.  The more you acknowledge that you’ve heard, the more messages make their presence known.  The more receptive you are, the more likely you’ll be aware of the miracles that surround you.  Go ahead, what’s stopping you?  There’s no reason you can’t receive your own magical messages.  Let your journey begin.