The New Moon and Space….

moon7-214x240Yesterday was the new moon and I am still playing with what my intentions are for these next couple of weeks as that reflective light comes back. It is said that intentions consciously set and spoken aloud within 24 hours of the new moon, are empowered by the moon’s energy.

What do I want right now to bring out of the dark of new beginnings and set into the motion?

It is also fall and I clearly recognize that it is time to do a little harvesting. Good, good things have grown for me over the last few years. Can I allow myself to relax and enjoy those and allow some space to open up for a while – a space that I don’t need to immediately fill with something new?

These are my questions right now.

And the answer seems yes, I can allow that space and perhaps it is the space itself that needs to grow.

My invitation to you? Find that place inside yourself that knows your answers and listen in. For most of us, we do need space to rest in for our inner voices to be heard. Fall is the perfect time to explore what is complete and through allowing it to be complete, to enjoy your own harvest.  Then, be patient to see what wants to be grown in that now open field. There are some things that can be planted now, but many seeds – in order to flourish – will do better if planted later.

From my heart to yours, namaste’.

Leslie

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Questions to Live By

I realized a few years ago that the schedule I was keeping was not sustainable over time and that unless I did something, my health was really going to suffer. There were already signs; weight gain, body pain that would come and go, fatigue. I told myself that I was fine – really, I did not feel unhappy, I was managing. But I was also exercising way less than I used to, I was spending less time with my friends and oh yeah, my marriage was falling apart!

Meditation and yoga were my lifeline. My practice served me very well helping me to keep perspective, stay motivated and not burn out. Still, it was clear that I needed to make a change, I just could not find my way to how.

Getting divorced finally gave me the real kick that I needed to stop making excuses – there’s so much to do, people need me, I can’t afford to work less….. I decided: no more.

And so I stopped. Well, I didn’t really stop completely – but for several months, I went home early. I started getting out and walking more again. I sat and daydreamed. I went to concerts and movies. I planned some trips. I started having a life that was more focused on me again. And I started feeling better. I got re-inspired. And I stopped doing some things that I didn’t find fulfilling or fun.

I have continued to look at how it is that I need to work in order to do the work I feel I am meant to do in the world AND be my very best self. I know absolutely that I must be my best self in order to do that work. I teach about being one’s best self…. (don’t they say we teach what we most need to learn?).

I don’t have all my own answers yet. I am looking deeply into what it means to really do self-care. I know all the basics and more… – I drink enough water, eat great food, get enough sleep, have a dog, exercise, meditate, do yoga, get out in nature, talk to friends, read for inspiration and growth ad nauseum….. These things are all so important. Still, there is so much more.

I am asking myself questions.
what nurtures my heart and soul?
what do I really want my day to day life to look like?
who do I want to be a part of my life?
what do I need to feel fulfilled?
how do I want to be?
how do I want to work?
am I playing?

These questions are not new to me but my approach to them is changing and I see the responses being enriched. I am taking more time with them without expecting specific answers. I realize more than ever that the questions, not the answers, are most important. I see that when I am living with the questions alive in my awareness, I recognize the answers and those things that are not the answers, much more clearly.

There is a part of me that is afraid of really living these questions. The part that sees that I am going to disappoint people. Because, in order to really do self-care, in a way I have never done it before, I have to change. And change is always hardest on those around us. But change I must because I am committed to truly being my best self.

How about you?

Please leave me a comment to let me know what you are thinking about!

Leslie_Signature

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Basking in the glow….

As Americans many of us have a strong sense and value for independence.

Independence of our country will be celebrated this weekend and I know that for many, most even, the appreciation of the personal freedom we have living here, and which has been deeply enculturated over time, will come to mind. We love being independent!

Dependency, need, an inability to provide for oneself – these all bring up discomfort, judgement – even the most compassionate of us, if honest, likely have some thought or feeling that these qualities indicate a lesser circumstance.

I do love my independence. I am proud of what I have accomplished in my life. I work hard – too hard sometimes – my efforts keep me going (and sometimes wear me down!) The places in my life where I feel dependent often grate on me. I have to actively cultivate acceptance, self-love and kindness to not feel less than. This has enhanced my sense of independence. I can truly care for myself; take care of myself; appreciate myself.

I am, at my foundation, happy and whole. woman-591576_1280
I believe that. I experience that. I stay mindfully present, although at times with effort, to remain connected, to that. It has taken some work to get to that consistent place. I celebrate that I am not dependent on external circumstances to provide it.
It is within me.

I recently started dating again. After several years of a marriage shifting, changing, ending; selling my home, moving; divorce – its fun. I feel lighter. I feel happier.

But, WAIT!!! I don’t need someone else’s validation or presence to feel happy or good about myself. I find myself in resistance – I don’t want that! I have worked hard to be in this state regardless of the other. It IS within me. AND, it is beautifully supported, nurtured and even growing by being in the presence of attention, attraction and acknowledgement. By being seen by another and validated something more opens up.

Once again, a sweet reminder about the importance of connection. Yes, it is within AND having it reflected back helps magnify it.
Is that dependence that makes me weak? Needy? Less than?
No!

Still, even after all this time,
the sun never says to the earth:
“You owe me.”
Look what happens with a love like that,
it lights up the whole sky!
Hafiz

My interdependence: something to celebrate as firecracker exploding brilliance far exceeding what I can ever do all on my own.
Ah, this is love! And no, I am not “in love” (yet?) but this, this is what love is about.

So be brilliant on your own. And love. Love with your heart wide open. Connect and let your brilliance magnify under that light.

Namaste’,

Leslie_Signature

 

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Mothers……. For Peace

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day and while I love the sentiment of celebrating Mom, mothering and all involved with that, I read that the origin of Mother’s Day in the US is not necessarily tied to what it has become.

Mother’s Day was originally petitioned for by mothers rather than for mothers. The intention was to make a statement about war and to recognize the power of mothers standing for peace. Mothers who were seeing the horrors of combat were boldly saying that there is something inherent in the act of mothering that makes one specifically tuned to the promotion of life and especially adept at seeing the absolute wrongness of war.

I may be biased here since I have not actually given birth to a baby, but I sincerely believe that we all have the mothering instinct within us. We all incubate, birth and grow much in our lives and if we were really honest with ourselves, we would see that war is never an answer to our suffering. Only that which promotes life and the inherent goodness of all that lives, can really bring us to our greatest power.

The paradox is that we do sometimes have to take a stand. A stand for what we really believe in, want with all our hearts and know is right to create or sustain. And sometimes a stand for one thing is a stand against something else. Which could seem like a conflict – a war of sorts.

So what’s the difference?

The difference, I believe, is found in the approach – that of peace. The underlying foundation, not only of the intent, but of the attitude and energy of carrying out the stance and whatever it takes to make that stand, must be peace. When we come from a place of deep inward peacefulness, we are much less likely to cause devastation in doing what we do. We will be much more likely to promote positivity and make a lasting difference that celebrates life and is life sustaining.

To gain strength in a muscle you have to tear the muscle fibers. It is the healing that strengthens. However, if this is done too aggressively you create injury and then scar tissue – which is not resilient. When however, you work from a mindful place where the foundation is respect and relaxation, the process develops tissue that is movable, fluid and powerful. These elements are the nature of the feminine and the nurturing approach of the wise mother.

Consider this in other areas of life too….where you find that you must tear something down, put a stop to something or stand against – how can you let go of the “fight” and but engage in the situation in a way that nurtures and grows; how can you approach your “battles” not with a war cry but with a big, deep breath?

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I am in the perfect place…..

french-squiggle-2-heart[1]Metta – loving kindness, friendliness; a feeling of love in light of whatever is happening.
Compassion – a wide open acceptance of the human-ness in each of us and the vast array of experiences we have in living a human life.
In my studies of both yoga and Buddhism these teachings have been some of the most beneficial.

As I move through my days there are many opportunities for both loving kindness and compassion. Any moment of tension, stress, dissatisfaction or discontent becomes a chance to pause, breathe, remember; to put myself in the shoes of the other, relax.
It is a practice, not a perfection. However it brings me back every time – “I am in the perfect place, right now!”
I have found that this is what I am most drawn to sharing in my teaching right now. Relax and see what is wanting to emerge – don’t push; no need to work so hard. Like usual, what I am drawn to teach is just what I am learning. I am in the perfect place.

Here is a prayer I say every day to Kuan Yin, the goddess of compassion and “she who listens”:

“Please help me to show compassion
in the face of all suffering,
my own and that of others.
Assist me to listen in and accept
whatis now, what is right now;
and to trust it is perfect.
May all beings be held in love and light.
And so it is.”

I am really excited to share teachings that include an awareness of Kuan Yin and the blessings of compassion and deep listening with my Sunrise Sangha group at our Wisdom of the Goddess Retreat in a couple of weeks. Likely, if you are in other classes with me, you will be hearing some of the same encouragements. And if you want to explore the possibility of relaxing, self nurturing and not working so hard in your yoga, give me a call. I would be happy to talk with you about how we might bring that light into your practice more fully.

Namaste’,

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And behind door number 1 is….YOU!

Happy February! The love month!!

This month began in a bittersweet way for me. I have been through some challenges this last year that have encouraged me to really look at how I care for myself, especially in relation to really spending time with me, in deep listening. And, I can happily say that my commitment to myself and living to my highest heartdoorpotential is even higher than ever and that indeed, I am giving myself a lot of love these days.

At the same time, I just got word that my divorce is final.

The two processes divorcing and disengaging from a very important and substantial 20 year relationship, while at the same time recognizing that even with the most sincere intent to engage in radical self-care, I had let myself put my marriage above the relationship I so desire with myself, even as it became more and more clear that the marriage was not sustainable, has been amazing food for thought and growth even if sometimes frustrating, disheartening and downright sad.

That said I feel like I have come through a very powerful time with again, a deeper and richer relationship with me. As one door closes, the opportunity is there to turn around, look down the hall and see all the other doors and choose, anew. And while my relationship with self is not new, I am enjoying the opportunity to see myself newly, embarking on new roles, reinvigorating old interests that had been set aside and simply enjoying each day as it comes.

As Derek Walcott so beautifully says in his poem “Love After Love”,

“There will come a day when with elation you will greet yourself
arriving at your own door, in your own mirror and each will smile
at the other’s welcome and say sit here …………feast on your life”

May you in this month of love enjoy all your relationships including and perhaps more than any other, the one with your very special someone, you!

Namaste’,

Leslie_Signature

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Make the Solstice Your Personal Holy Holiday

I have heard so many people say recently, something about “this time of year” and the fact that they feel overwhelmed in some way by it. There is an anticipation of activity, family gatherings, needing to meet expectations and just a sheer energy output required that is already setting them up for stress.

“The Holidays” come every year and with them a sense of hurry, responsibility and overwhelm.  You may feel both the draw toward the excitement and want to really experience joy in your world while also feeling that there is too much to do and that the commercialization of the holidays takes away from the quality of peace and connection that you want. You may cherish your family traditions and the spirit of Chanukah or Christmas, you may enjoy the beautiful lights and decorations, you may love getting together with family and friends and still you may find that there is something not quite right – you may feel tired, or irritable or even, stressed.

Over the years I have found that having some time during “this time of year” just for myself and for some ceremony and ritual that is intended to really connect me to spirit – the divine light in everything – and to stop and contemplate the return of light to the earth, has been immensely helpful in sustaining me.

The Solstice can be a perfect personal holiday to help ground your energy and support you in being your best in all the other activities that have come to represent “the holidays”. The word Solstice means, sun stands still – and the Solstice itself occurs on the longest night of the year. What more perfect time to stop for personal reflection and quietude. And there it is bundled up right in the middle of the mad dash of preparing, visiting, shopping and all – a moment when time can stand still and you might rest.

The Solstice has come to be a time, for me, of remembering. Remembering that as winter is in her depths, she calls us as all of nature to be quiet and still. Remembering that all the lights and décor were originally intended to be a reminder that the light will be returning and to appreciate that. I love the family and friend get togethers, but I make sure that I have some celebrations that are really for me and for filling myself back up.

Here are a few tips for self-nurturing this Solstice season – I hope they make your Holidays, more holy.

  • Right now put a few times in your calendar over the next few weeks, that are dates with yourself where you will stay in, have some time to relax, put on quiet music, burn candles, take a bath….anything that helps you to feel relaxed. It will allow you to be more fully present in the times you are with others.
  • Cook simple, nourishing meals – consider root vegetables, soups and stews to help support grounding and nurturing. If you know you are going to be busy, consider cooking some ahead and putting in the freezer for easy meals that will keep you from stopping at a restaurant for take-out. If you are going to a party, don’t skip lunch! Eat something healthy and nourishing so you don’t arrive at the party famished and ungrounded.
  • Take time every day to simply be quiet. Light a candle and set yourself up in a simple restorative pose. Set a timer for 10 – 15 minutes and give yourself space to be. On the days that even that seems impossible, at least take 5 minutes in the morning to close your eyes and focus on your breath. Do the same right before you go to bed and see how it affects your sleep!
  • With each invitation, stop and be honest with yourself – does this event feel nourishing to you? Are you going out of obligation or joy? If you are going out of obligation, do you really have to go? If you choose to go, what can you do to allow you to be present and to actually enjoy yourself?
  • Consider joining me for my annual Solstice Restorative Yoga Event. By giving yourself the gift of deep rest in the company of others, you just may find a way to bring a little bliss in the season that will help carry you through into the new year.

Many blessings to you,

Leslie

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