My husband and I just got back from our third trip to Poland. This was our second time spent on the farm my dad was born on and continues to be overwhelmingly meaningful.
Most evenings, if not all, were spent around a table sharing a meal, discussing life (through translation via their two, wonderful daughters, Anita and Ola) and singing favorite Polish songs out loud. Of course, Ed and I either hummed, “la-la-la’d” or simply took it all in, smiling from ear to ear. As each evening progressed into the night, the songs became more laid back, emotional and free-flowing with less inhibition from everyone. For sure, my cousin Henia’s homemade plum wine (from their 2000+ plum trees) helped our voices to sound, um…shall we say better? We were, after all, still getting to know one another. It was all very healing and grounding. It’s hard to put to words.
I plan to make a CD of the songs we sang together to share with my Polish relatives. but I think watching the videos is even more fun. I hope you agree.
One of the first evenings included Krzys’s, parents from down the road, Adam and Johanna. Adam will be 90 soon and Johanna is 85. Krzys is Henia’s husband. Adam was a playmate of my dad’s before the war. Our visit with Adam and Johanna on our first visit five years ago was one of our favorite days and this year’s visit with them proved to be one of my husband and I’s favorite days as well. Both participated in the singing throughout the evening with Johanna becoming more and more animated as the songs continued. There were a few she basically led, being the only one who remembered all the words, a “call and response” so to speak. As many of you with European decent might already know, hand motions are very important in communicating—even more so when you’re leading in song! Johanna became our “DJ” at times, as Anita (the eldest daughter) pointed out with a chuckle. It was heart-warming to say the least.
Another evening, we again went down the road to Krysia and Czesiek’s house for dinner and song. Krysia and Henia are sisters. As mentioned earlier, the songs flowed more easily as the night progressed. Okay, so there was vodka at this house, but that’s beside the point. Swaying (to song!), hand-holding, and much laughing accented each verse.
I brought a paper copy of a 2009 email I’d saved from one of our initial connections with Anita, who found us on Facebook over nine years ago. It contained the names of relatives along with pertinent details, including the account of how my dad’s sister, Stasia, had passed away. Stasia is Henia and Krysia’s mom. Anita was moved to read this email out loud to the others that evening, in Polish of course. We were all wiping our tears away and hugging by the end of the reading. This honoring of history—of our elders, the telling and retelling of stories—does not happen enough here in the U.S.
The last song we sang as a family, was by special request of Ed and I. We requested they sing the Polish anthem, the song that made my dad cry whenever he heard it and the song Ed and I went down the aisle to. I still can’t listen to this song without crying.
When I was a child, my dad shared many stories. He did a walk-about through various areas of Poland once before World War II. He believed that you could tell the emotional state of each area by the songs they sang and the energy with which they sang them. So this tradition of singing with family and friends is part of their culture—our family’s culture. It’s in our DNA. Perhaps this is why it felt so very right. Our connections have grown stronger with each song and story. We will hold these memories in our hearts forever.
Midsummer, or Summer Solstice, is said to open the magical doorways of Nature. Ted Andrews said the physical and subtle bodies of humanity are aligned at this time and for those working with these energies, (like those of us who practice yoga), a new and more stable alignment can be established, bringing even greater growth the upcoming year. What a perfect day to ALSO be International Yoga Day!
This relationship between the physical and subtle bodies is what yoga IS to me. Working with the physical touches and works on the subtle, and vice versa. They are inextricably interwoven. Beautiful, isn’t it?
This is why emotions are stored within our body, sometimes waiting for us to be better able to handle them perhaps later, sometimes lodged so deep we don’t even know they’re there. Yoga enables them to find a peaceful untangling and release. At least that’s been my personal experience.
The longer I’ve practiced yoga (going on 30 years or more now), the more personal it becomes. I am in a continual conversation with the subtleties of my body’s language. Sensations become “familiar” like an old friend. They always have a message.
It’s taken me this long, with the additional help of my most recent Chronic Pain YogaFit two-day training, to gently remind the sensations of pain that I am safe, secure, centered, and at peace. Sometimes I even repeat the movement that just sent the pain/danger signal (because that’s what pain is—a signal of danger). And as I repeat that movement I am saying “See? —safe. I am safe. This is a safe move. See?” This one thing alone has been HUGE for me. I can literally feel the pain subside with each successive repeat of the movement. Try it! I’ve been working on many old injury muscle imbalances, scar tissue, etc that have found a home in my body from various injuries.
Creating a safe haven within your body—that’s what yoga means to me. Happy International Yoga Day!
I completed a second day of silence as part of the required homework for level II of Indu Arora’s Yoga Nidra training coming up in August. I did the first day of silence with my husband back in March and completed the second one on the anniversary of my mom’s birthday. There are various levels of silence. I chose a deeper practice the second time because my husband was to be out of town on business. I managed about 10 hours—amateur, right?
It sounded perfect originally. Ed would be out of the house so my silence wouldn’t be difficult—or so I thought. You see, I’m pretty attached to my husband so I still exchanged texts with him to make sure he arrived safely and also to wish him well on his appointments. This connection we have is not easy to turn off—especially when he’s out of town. “What if’s?” haunted me, hence the texts were something I just had to do despite my original resolve to be without technology.
I started the “count” shortly after my ritual Facebook post honoring my mom’s birthday and how she loved that her new country celebrated Flag Day on her birthday. She would raise the flag with pride that day, and I joke that my dad enjoyed the head’s up it was her birthday. Both she and my dad were prisoners of war during WWII and immigrated to the United States in 1950. Both had PTSD, which my trauma-informed YogaFit training clued me into with great detail. The training allowed my childhood to make so much more sense. I’m in the process of writing a book tentatively titled “The Why’s matter”. Because they do.
I spent much of my silent mode that day dwelling on my mom and our history, coming to some major understandings about certain events from my childhood. Without the sustained silence, my thoughts would not have gone this deep nor made the connections I was able to make. In retrospect, I’m surprised I didn’t make the connections I did earlier in life. It was like a big ole’ slap on the head for me. D’oh! Why didn’t I go there before? Silence is powerful. Or maybe I was just ready now.
I believe I connected the dots on at least one important memory. Being aware of PTSD and what triggers and flashbacks can do to hijack the brain—and I do mean hijack—not only helps in understanding the immense burden both my parents were dealing with emotionally; but also helps in making peace with it. Needless to say, reframing those events has been healing for me. This day of silence created the perfect conditions for a deeper resolution on one particular event that has troubled me over the years.
Without going into details, the evening progressed into what I can only describe as interesting. No alcohol involved. I was relaxing at one point and meditating when I woke up in the midst of deep dreams in another part of the room. I do not remember getting up and moving and it felt like I was “solving something” in my dreams. I awoke to the sound of the timer on the stove where my dinner was baking and I knew the timer had been going off for some time. As I awoke I had the realization that something wasn’t normal here. I don’t remember moving! What happened? I immediately realized my legs felt vibratory such that I was afraid to walk down the stairs, for fear of falling, to turn off the oven. I shimmied down the stairs on my butt for safety. It was all very woo-woo. Enough said.
I kept going over the details in my mind, confirming that I did NOT remember moving to the other part of the room. I have never “blacked out” like this before or woken up somewhere I didn’t remember falling asleep. I only know that my day of silence brought me some special gifts I will never forget, nor would I want to. This makes me want to practice other days of silence, perhaps for longer periods, to see where they will go. My inner self had some things to share. It’s time I listen.
You may be wondering if you are hypothyroid or know of someone who is. There’s a current upsurge in interest in this subject and using diet and lifestyle to help balance this condition. I was diagnosed over ten years ago. Typically the MD’s will check your TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) and if that’s within a given range, they’ll stop there and tell you your thyroid is fine. When I was increasingly tired, the MD I was going to at the time suggested checking my thyroid. She said if it’s your thyroid, no problem, you start on Synthroid® (brand name for levothyroxine) and you’re good to go—simple solution. She made it sound like it was quite common. “Take a pill and you’re done.” (Sadly it IS quite common. Synthroid® is the most prescribed medication in the US.)
Over the past 10+ years I’ve painstakingly discovered many things about hypothyroidism. What I’m about to share is my own research and my own decisions made for myself. The list is NOT exhaustive, I’m sure. They’re not meant to be your blueprint or to make your decisions so much as for you to be aware of areas you might want to research for yourself. This is my way of saying I don’t even play a doctor on TV! So do your research and talk to your doctor!
Here’s what I wish the MD would have done and/or told me at the time of diagnosis:
It took me well over eight years to decide to switch doctors over another matter—my regular doctor left the practice and the new one thought my “outie” bellybutton was a hernia! This was after she asked why in the world I’d want to check my vitamin D levels? (Inside I was thinking—what rock have you been under and where did you go to medical school? I’m always reading how little nutrition education MDs receive, but by this time Vitamin D’s importance had gone mainstream. Mental note to self, this doctor is dangerous to my health.)
Guess what? I had Hashimotos Hypothyroid disease and low vitamin D levels. Yes, my previous doctors knew I had outgrown Juvenile Rheumatory Arthritis (another auto-immune disease) when I was younger so the increased odds of other auto-immune diseases were there. Why didn’t my first doctor wonder if I had Hashimotos Hypothyroid disease vs. just hypothyroid disease? Did you know up to 90% of all thyroid problems are autoimmune in nature—the most common of which is Hashimotos?
By the time they diagnosed my Hashimotos, my thyroid had been under attack for over the eight years it took me to get that tested. I had no idea of the above until I began researching. It’s much more difficult to correct the damage to the thyroid after a longer amount of time—a duh.
Sadly the current fix of prescribing Synthroid® only works on balancing the hormones (T4 and T3). It does nothing to address the fact that your immune system is attacking your thyroid! Which is probably why they don’t check the antibodies early. They don’t have anything in place to address this.
I remember reading with total dismay on the Synthroid® drug fact sheet that the side effects of the drug worsen as you age and the longer you’re on the drug. So, I thought, what’s the game plan here? My step-mom’s Hashimotos had progressed to Sjögren’s syndrome—another auto-immune disease also associated with Hashimotos. I had no desire to experience what I saw her go through (loss of teeth, loss of enjoyment of food, difficulty eating due to little saliva in the mouth).
Just a couple of years prior to my thyroid diagnosis, my chiropractor (yes you heard that right) diagnosed me with gluten-sensitivity via a muscle test. My knee had swelled up and it hurt to walk, let alone go up steps. I was going up steps one at a time. An MRI showed nothing to be addressed really, save a small tear on my cartilage that “really did not need surgery”. He sent me home. I was like… “Hello?! My knee is swollen here? Do you see that? I’m not making up the pain.”
Two weeks off gluten and it was night and day, black and white difference. I wanted to kiss my chiropractor but we didn’t know each other that well. So I suspect going gluten-free helped my thyroid function for a bit longer before the TSH levels no longer measured well.
Gluten-sensitivity is associated with joint pain but so is hypothyroid disease. I personally don’t think this is a coincidence.
I had cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers for lunch every day—that was it. And breakfast was a gluten free cereal with skim milk. Dinner was usually chicken with a starch and vegetable. Yes I snacked, but not excessive junk food. I prided myself on how well I ate as well as my disciplined exercise regime. If you know me, you know that I am not overweight. Giving diet suggestions was, to me, insulting. (Now my breakfasts have more protein, I eat salad daily and have less empty calories at the end of the day like chips (although they are my weakness). Dark chocolate is our dessert of choice when we indulge.) The controversy of cholesterol readings would be another blog.
It is sufficient to say being told the two are related would have gone a long way toward making me feel less inadequate. Your thyroid function affects your cholesterol measures.
Do you know how important Vitamin A is for skin health? Do you use retinols in your skin products? I’ve had cystic acne my whole life—complete with scars, tears and embarrassment at times (I know, I know—poor baby, right?).
Another chiropractor I went to a few years ago suggested I take a thyroid support supplement. Once I started to take this supplement, my cystic acne went away. This was only a few years ago. I’m 57. I wanted to dance the jig when I noticed this side benefit. I noticed the supplement contained Vitamin A vs. Beta Carotene. This concerned me so I pulled out my thyroid books (of which I had way too many) and researched it some more and realized the conversion of Beta Carotene to Vitamin A doesn’t work well for people like me.
I should mention here that earlier, I had started using a Vitamin B cream on my areas of concern in lieu of clindamycin (which is an antibiotic) for my acne. I was trying to be more holistic overall. Vitamin B cream helped tremendously but the cystic acne was still occurring. I could just treat it a bit better and ward it off with the “B” cream. FYI, a sluggish thyroid can also make you deficient in certain B vitamins.
You might try an auto-immune paleo diet. It’s helped some extremely.
Some suggest avoiding night shade vegetables (potatoes, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant). Remember the lunches I was having when first diagnosed? I think the sensitivity to nightshade varies per person, as do most of these recommendations. I try not to overdo it but still consume them because I decided these foods are healthy and I refuse to avoid them all together. That’s my personal choice. You make your choice after consulting your doctor or dietician. I’ve tried avoiding them with no change in symptoms, but truth-be-told I probably didn’t avoid them long enough. My husband and I muscle test pretty much everything now though. Night shade vegetables can also affect arthritic joints.
You shouldn’t take your prescription medicine along with calcium supplements or coffee. So for most of you taking your prescription meds in the morning means waiting to have your vitamins and coffee. (I take my prescription later in the day. Some research suggests taking your prescription later in the day is more effective.)
Excess fat and sugar is never good but remember I said diabetes and hypothyroid disease are associated. So are gallbladder issues and hypothyroid disease. So breaking down fats can become an issue. Personally, I eat plenty of healthy fats like ghee, fish and coconut oils. I’d add avocado here but I’m allergic! (It’s a common allergen.) That’s my choice after my own research. You do yours and consult with your doctor!
You may want to avoid soy foods, which includes edamame, tofu, and miso. There’s some controversy on this one. Do your own research.
We should all avoid packaged foods and eat closer to nature. If it doesn’t look like it came from the earth, some would say don’t eat it. Do I follow this all the time? No. But I do for a majority of my diet. Hypothyroid disease is associated with blood pressure issues—as is eating packaged foods because of sodium content. Now I’m reading that both high and low blood pressure can be associated with thyroid disease.
Avoiding alcohol is recommended but red wine “on an occasional basis is fine for some people. Red wine is my alcohol of choice.
I’m currently in the process of switching from the standard treatment for hypothyroidism to a compounded formula. Without losing your interest, the standard treatment is giving you a hormone that is supposed to convert to another (T4 to T3) and fill the bill for both. Well, I wasn’t converting well. So they’re now working on a supplement containing T3 too. I wonder how many people are on the standard T4 and still feel lousy without checking further?
I think it might have been beneficial for a doctor to say exactly what she said as option #1. Many take this Synthroid® and they’re good to go, BUT if you want to investigate other lifestyle changes via your diet, here’s a good dietician and/or endocrinologist I’d recommend—option #2. AND by, the way, here’s some facts about hypothyroid disease that you should be aware of. So yes, your cholesterol is a bit high, but it can happen with hypothyroid disease. Here’s what we can do….
I’m still learning. I just read that some scientists are beginning to consider the possibility that Alzheimer’s disease is an auto-immune disease. My dad passed away of Alzheimer’s so believe me—I don’t want to go there! Keep on learning. I hope you found some of this useful. I just needed to download. Thanks for listening! Here’s to your health!
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.)
Last week I wrote about gathering energy emphasizing some ways spiritual energy grows. You’ve all felt this in your “favorite” spots, clothes, people. Right? There’s a reason you are attracted/attached to those favorites. Your energy resonates with that place, person, or thing. There’s a reason we use the term “magnetic” when referring to some personalities we are drawn to. Magnets attract, right?
One of my favorite books, The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield uses synchronicity as a clue that you’re on to something, because “everything happens for a reason”. As for myself, I believe it may have been this book that introduced me to the power of three. Three is a sacred number. Trinities appear in many of the world’s religions and cultures: Father, Son, Holy Spirit; Mother, Maiden, Crone; Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. If something comes to me three times—be it an idea, a song verse, a contact, etc.—I sit up and take notice. The Universe is trying to tell me something. In the book I remember the author suggesting that if you have two roads to travel, take the one that glows with an energy you’re attracted to. What lights you up? Go there.
Another favorite book of mine is The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. The Law of Attraction would go so far as to say our thoughts are things and they create so make them good ones. Because “energy goes where attention goes”. And “what you focus on expands”. “What you resist persists”. I could go on but I think you get the idea.
The bottom line is this: Your life is a reflection of what you believe. Or as Wayne Dyer says in his best-selling book, You’ll see it when you believe it.
Energy appears to you in forms you will accept. For example, I believe Quan Yin, Tara, Athena, White Buffalo Woman, Lakshmi, and yes Isis, among others, all embody the “Divine Mother”—the loving, nurturing, magical healing energy. I believe they are different representations of the same energy and embody different forms so they’ll appear in the correct form for you to accept. We are only open to that which we believe in—yes? So why wouldn’t “Divine Mother” energy embody many forms for all the world to appreciate?
Do you believe in energy therapy? Do you believe there’s a reason we rub an injury after bumping an object? We have energy centers in the palms of our hands. Do you believe that there’s a reason we rub our forehead points when stressed? These are reflexology points that help you relax. How about when we cross our hands over our chest and rock when we are very stressed? The points below the collar bone covered by crossed over hands are also important meridian points for stress and anxiety (among many other things!) and rocking is soothing to our nervous system. Our body innately knows what it needs.
How about Reiki? Do you believe in this mode of healing energy? I don’t believe Reiki (or any type of energy therapy) will be as effective if you don’t believe in it. How could it be? Why would energy be attracted to you if your energy (and yes, we’re all scientifically proven to be energetic beings) is repelling it? Henry Ford was famous for saying “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Again, we’re only open to that which we believe in. If you can’t accept it, you won’t receive it. Body, mind, and spirit are intimately connected. There’s a reason Jesus is quoted as saying “your faith has healed you.” Placebos work because of our belief in them and as Wayne Dyer used to say “If it’s placebo, I’ll take two.” Do you believe that your beliefs/thoughts have energy?
I judge by experience. When my husband fell off the roof a couple of years ago and broke the talus bone in his left foot and his right big toe, I began sharing Reiki with him regularly sometimes several times throughout the day. Prior to his accident, I wasn’t sharing Reiki with him regularly—just here and there with no consistency. As a result, my practice was limited.
There’s something about sending your energy to someone you love that amplifies the effect. I learned the hard way that I need to set the intention not to drain my own energy. Reiki uses Universal life energy, but if you don’t set the intention right, you’ll drain your own. I gladly gave my husband all I had at the time.
He would sometimes jump as he felt what he referred to as electrical charges when I held my hands over and around his healing talus bone and toe. I’ve always believed in visualization. So I’d visualize him dancing the polka with me (we both are very Polish) and running up and down the stairs.
As he healed and as time passed, the “electrical charge sensation” that made him jump were less and less; but he can still feel the energy flowing out of my hands. I still share Reiki with him each morning as he shaves as our schedules permit. I sit on the floor, surrounding his foot with crystals to magnify the energy, and wear various crystal Malas adding yet more crystal energy. (Don’t even get me started on whether you believe in crystal energy! Crystals are in watches, computers, and even your mobile phone. That acronmym “LCD”? It stands for “liquid crystal display.) I trace the “Cho Ku Rei” symbol on the palms of my hands with a small selenite wand and proceed.
My “go-to” meditation prayer, the Hail Mary, dominates my Reiki sessions. I’ve noticed that reciting this prayer helps the energy build. One of my yoga students, with whom I shared Reiki during a final relaxation, can actually see energy. She shared with me that my Reiki energy appeared to her as “Mary energy”. This was such a huge gift to hear! I hadn’t shared with her that I recited Hail Mary’s much of the time while sharing Reiki. A Reiki session just after I’ve meditated using this prayer has more energy at the get-go. Remember energy builds.
My husband and I have come to treasure our morning Reiki ritual. I open each session with a silent Pope John Paull II prayer (calling on our Polish ancestry) and end it with saying the St. Francis Prayer out loud—a mutual favorite of ours. As I finish reciting the prayer, my husband touches my head as a sign of endearment. Remember, I’m sitting on the floor as he stands to shave. Once he started doing that final touch, I asked him to please do it every time because it has a sense of sealing the energy of the moment.
Our mornings aren’t complete when we aren’t able to complete this morning ritual. It means something to us. It’s part of our connection—our energetic connection, if you will. Spiritual energy builds and grows stronger when you work on it. It’s all energy and it’s all good.
What are your personal spiritual entry points? What practices do you use to come to center? How often do you participate in these practices and do you notice a difference when you do them regularly?
They say it takes anywhere from 21 days or more to create a habit. Depending on the goal of your practice, the degree of difficulty, your actual desire to incorporate it into your life, and the sense of peace or joy you attain, the time it takes will vary. But one thing is agreed upon—it does take time. Time is the magic ingredient. How dedicated are you to devoting this time?
Prayer, Mantra, Affirmation
Do you have a favorite prayer, mantra, or affirmation? Why is it your favorite? My anchor prayer is the “Hail Mary”. No, I’m not holier than thou. It’s a prayer that has been with me my whole life in times of stress, in times of contemplation, when I pray on my beads—be they rosary or mala—or when I give Reiki to a loved one. It’s the first prayer that comes to mind when I’m needing comfort, solace, or energy. It’s my “go-to” prayer because it’s always been there for me.
What’s more, my prayer beads actually appear different to me once I’ve said my first round of prayers on them. It’s like I’ve energized them with prayer. They are no longer inanimate beads but living, breathing energy. I like to repeat Wayne Dyer’s wise words: “If it’s placebo, I’ll take two.”
How about your favorite rituals? One of mine is lighting a candle and some incense in my daily yoga practice at home. I’ve read that the ancients believed the rising smoke is an analogy for the rising of our prayers and intentions to the heavens to be heard. My yoga practice isn’t quite complete without the candle and incense. It’s a noticeable loss of energy when I’m practicing in a hotel room on the road without the benefit of their presence. Of course, I still do my practice but it’s not quite the same. Rituals are our way of paying reverence to what we are doing. It’s a seal of sorts.
Do you have a Mudra practice—similar to reflexology/acupressure for your hands? “Mudra” in Sanskrit translates to “seal”, “mark”, or “gesture”. Whether you call it one or not, I guarantee you have practiced Mudras because literally any position you put your body in will create a different energy loop. The one you’ve most likely held without thinking of it as a Mudra is prayer hands—or Anjali (meaning: “to offer”) Mudra. Bringing your hands together over your heart, connecting left hand to right hand, actually connects the left and right sides of the brain allowing you to communicate more effectively. Cool, huh? How appropriate.
Indu Arora’s book, Mudra The Sacred Secret, is by far my favorite book on Mudras. That’s probably because Indu is by far my favorite teacher! I’ve learned from her that it takes 30 seconds for the Mudra to form an electromagnetic circuit.
I’ve been practicing hand Mudras more “on purpose” ever since I used a Mudra for headaches listed in her book. This was shortly after her book was published in 2015 when I was lucky enough to be at her book launch. I normally don’t get headaches but I had a huge one that wouldn’t go away for hours and I started to get nauseous—a sign of a migraine. The headache Mudra worked so well for me, I had to sit up and take notice! I’ve been using it successfully ever since whenever even a subtle hint of a headache comes along.
With Mudras, your fingers are held in various positions forming an energetic loop. When I hold a Mudra hand position, I begin to feel an energy ball—a tingling sensation—in the palm of my hands. I’ve noticed that the Mudras I regularly practice holding develop this tingly “energy ball” sensation within a shorter and shorter timeframe.
I’ve had a daily yoga practice for many years now. It feeds me in ways I can’t describe. It’s not just physical, but of course that’s one of the many benefits. It’s like an ‘Etch a Sketch’ for what ails me—a magic eraser. You may come to yoga for the physical practice but it won’t be long before spirit joins you. I consider my yoga mat sacred ground. It’s as though all the good energy from my previous practices is held within my mat; and as soon as I set foot on my mat, I’m immersed in their vibes. It’s a gathering point of cumulative energy. Your mat never forgets your previous practices. Like an old friend, it holds the memory of sacred space ready to embrace you the moment you enter.
Asana practice, done with the right intention, allows you to become acquainted with your physical body, yes; but, more importantly, your subtle body. Your body’s only way of communication is through sensation. Once it knows you’re listening, there’s no stopping the messages! The more you listen, the more you’ll hear. It’s cumulative.
This is why a Hatha Yoga is a training ground for your intuition. Your inner knowing becomes your best friend. You learn to trust your gut instincts. Do you listen to your body’s subtle messages? Your gut instincts? There’s a saying in yogic wisdom that if you listen to your body whisper you won’t have to hear it scream.
My other spiritual entry points include a meditation shawl and mat. Wrapping a meditation shawl around my shoulders brings more comfort than simple warmth. It brings all the previous meditations to accompany my next meditation. It’s like planting seeds in fertilized soil. The prayers said that day more easily take root within and bring me back to center. If you doubt the truth to this, try taking a child’s favorite blanket or stuffed animal away from them; or try substituting another blanket. Enough said.
Indu Arora says “When we meditate at a place over and over, that region becomes a magnetic field for the mind to enter the calm, clear state gracefully and effortlessly. Having a personal meditation mat helps give you a still anchor point as well as helps build a certain association to the practice.” She explains that it’s important for the passive energy that’s awakened through meditation to stay looped within the body and the meditation mat helps keep the energy contained within the body.
She further compares our body to a Yantra, or geometrical pattern of energy moving in a circle and triangle. Our body mimics the triangle in a meditation posture. Without a base, our Yantra is incomplete. A meditation mat is yet another tool for gathering and containing your energy.
The bottom line is this: Spiritual energy grows.
How do you enter your sacred ground? What do you surround yourself with to gather, contain and hold the energy of your spiritual practice? Once you start to pay attention to the subtleties of accumulating prayers and intentions, you’ll start to notice a distinct difference each time you enter your sacred space. You’ll start to notice your own spiritual vortex welcoming you home. Your sacred space is waiting….
Who is your safe place to vent or talk about what’s bothering you?
Choose those friends wisely so you feel safe when sharing. This keeps the doors open for honest communication vs. just the niceties you think everyone wants to hear. And then hold on to THAT friend.
I wasn’t always able to speak what was on my mind without constant filtering growing up in a PTSD-ridden household. I spent most of my childhood never speaking up because I was too busy trying to stay clear of the volatility in our family conversations. I’m well-versed in holding my tongue when necessary, but I also allow myself to express my opinion a whole lot more than when I was younger. I think I’m making up for lost time now. You see, my environment has changed.
I treasure those friends that love and care about me, as I am in any given moment, and listen. How about you?
My husband is my absolute best friend. He’ll let me rant when I need to because he knows me, I mean really knows me. So he listens. And he respects who I am and where I’ve come from enough to know that sometimes it’s best just to let me say what I need to say to get it out. Getting it out is healing. He understands that he’s the only one I share everything with and he honors that relationship. Being able to speak my thoughts without filtering is healing. He is healing.
Are you that someone for your friends?
My mind/body training as a yoga instructor and yoga therapist has had a huge influence on the state of my well-being and resiliency to stress. I no longer spin out of control with worry or upset like I did many years ago. But there are those occasions.
On the occasion that I’m really upset and my husband knows I’m ramping up, he’s the only one that can pull me back to center with a gentle nudge and a deep caring. There are no digs or insults in our relationship save the joke or two that we know are joking. My words are safe in his presence and his words are safe in mine. There is no armor to shield our energy. The walls are down. It’s an unfiltered relationship. Or perhaps, maybe in retrospect, it’s so naturally filtered that we just don’t let the bad stuff through. Either way, we know we are in a safety zone when speaking.
I’ve heard that when someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.
Do you have a friend in your life that you feel safe sharing with—that unfiltered relationship with the shields down? Treasure them. Hold them close. Revel in it. They are so far and few between. The longer I know my husband the more in awe I am of him, the man that he is and what our relationship means to me. There’s a depth that’s palpable. It’s a friendship unfiltered. I shudder to think where I’d be emotionally without his huge heart surrounding my world.
So here’s to all those out there who will let their loved ones speak without a filter—those who will be the healing balm of “listening and responding with respect” for the person standing before them; and who will say your name differently because it’s safe in their mouth.
“Our days are happier when we give people a bit of our heart rather than a piece of our mind.” ~ Unknown
“The quieter you become the more you can hear.” ~ Ram Dass
#thequieteryoubecomethemoreyoucanhear #ramdass #unfiltered #unfilteredfriendship #safe #wallsaredown #Shieldsdown #friendshipunfiltered #Ilovehim #healingfriends #reallylisten #respondwithcare #treadsoftly #areyouthatfriend #betterdayyoga
Have you ever been driving down the road and someone cuts you off? It’s hard to hold your tongue sometimes, isn’t it? Oh if my car had ears it would be blushing! This is something I’ve worked on and have been much better at being detached when upsets happen—in the car any way!
During one of Indu Arora’s workshops at the Minneapolis Yoga Conference, she likened it to giving each upset one of your remote controls. It’s true, isn’t it? We’re allowing them to push our buttons, right?! She said we should make a point to reclaim our remote controls. At the end of class she suggested to ask for at least five of our remotes back.
So now when I start to have an upset while driving, or whenever, I’ll either mentally say or say out loud “I’m taking my remote back, thank you!” This small exercise has made me chuckle at the situation because it really is funny when you think about it. We’re allowing someone else to push our buttons and by asking for our remote back, it lightens the mood and makes you smile at your silliness for allowing it in the first place. Try it! You’ll start laughing at what just a few seconds ago made you angry! I love this little phrase: “I’m taking my remote back, thank you!” It has allowed me to become a witness to the emotion vs. become the emotion. And it’s also very liberating!
What ways have you come up with to stay detached when situations become heated? You know your body can’t tell the difference between real danger and imagined danger. Our upset moments really are a creation of our imagination.
By allowing our body to gear up for action with our anger, we are turning on our fight/flight mode—our sympathetic nervous system. These constant assaults to our body DO affect our health and longevity in a very real way. Our adrenal glands release the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol which increases our blood pressure, heart rate, and respiration. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg! See the infographic on how anger affects the brain and body from NICABM below.
Our body is preparing for physical exertion so it directs the blood away from our gut and into our extremities, affecting our digestion in a negative way. Can you say irritable bowel?
Using your upsets as a prompt to release anger and detach from the emotion is a not just smart, it increases the health and well-being of your physical, emotional, and spiritual body. Who has your remote controls? Take a moment right now to think of five remote controls you’d like to claim back and then visualize taking them back. Smile and repeat.
(click here for your own printable copy of the above great infographic from NICABM!)