David Swenson Demonstration

30.12.09

My Friend



If we complete the journey of one's own heart, one will find oneself in the heart of everyone else.

(Father Thomas Keating)


This is my dear friend, Ms. J. With her help, she's inspired me to cook and prepare healthy foods, while at the same time, have fun! Guess more than anything, I've learned to maneuver in the kitchen with no fear, and the awesome part is, I've manged to make things taste good in the process, lol. Thanks Ms. J!

To have a chance to honor her on my blog somehow doesn't seem enough. It's amazing to have friends who celebrate your highest self and always see it.

Moving forward in life, I see how nothing is ever accomplished on our own. Interconnected, we weave in and out of each others lives. There is always something to learn. Behold. Offer. What has come in even more clearly is the importance in adding value to every encounter. What a nice practice to supplement consciously with the new year ahead. Am I adding value? Or, am I grasping energy from others? Important questions to ask from dialogues, gatherings, to simple social situations.

At the end of the day, I remember each person who has left their imprint on my heart. Even situations that may not have been most comfortable, but forced me to make a change. A leap of faith forward. I've found the importance of no longer judging it, but looking to the experience for what it is, and what it helped me to realize. In the end, it always comes down to our own internal dilemmas. There's nothing 'out there' that's gonna make it alright. Peace is found within. True.

Fourth Series Ashtanga Yoga

29.12.09

An Athlete of God

I came across this article from a good friend of mine, Todd, an authorized Ashtanga yoga teacher out of Chicago, Illinois. Here, Martha Graham, the innovative, ground-breaking modern dancer and choreographer comments on practice. Though it is in regards to dance, it can translate into many things in life.

A beautiful, inspiring commentary.

I believe that we learn by practice. Whether it means to learn to dance by practicing dancing, or to learn to live by practicing living, the principles are the same. In each, it is the performance of a dedicated, precise set of acts, physical or intellectual, from which come shape of achievement, the sense of one’s being, the satisfaction of spirit. One becomes in some area an athlete of God. Practice means to perform over and over again, in the face of all obstacles, some act of vision, of faith, of desire. Practice is a means of inviting the perfection desired.

I think the reason dance has held such an ageless magic for the world is that it has been the symbol of the performance of living. Many times, I hear the phrase, “the dance of life.” It is close to me for a very simple and understandable reason. The instrument through which the dance speaks is also the instrument through which life is lived: the human body. It is the instrument by which all the primaries of experience are made manifest. It holds in its memory all matters of life and death and love.

Dancing appears glamorous, easy, delightful. But the path to the paradise of that achievement is not easier than any other. There is fatigue so great that the body cries even in its sleep. There are times of complete frustration. There are daily small deaths. Then, I need all the comfort that practice has stored in my memory and the tenacity of faith. But it must be the kind of faith that Abraham had, wherein he “staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief.”

It takes about ten years to make a mature dancer. The training is twofold. There is the study and practice of the craft in order to strengthen the muscular structure of the body. The body is shaped, disciplined, honored, and in time, trusted. The movement becomes clean, precise, eloquent, truthful. Movement never lies. It is a barometer telling the state of the soul’s weather to all who can read it. This might be called the law of the dancer’s life, the law which governs its outer aspects.

Then, there is the cultivation of the being. It is through this that the legends of the soul’s journey are retold with all their gaiety and their tragedy and the bitterness and sweetness of living. It is at this point that the sweep of life catches up the mere personality of the performer, and while the individual—the undivided one—becomes greater, the personal becomes less personal. And there is grace. I mean the grace resulting from faith…faith in life, in love, in people, in the act of dancing. All this is necessary to any performance in life which is magnetic, powerful, rich in meaning.

In a dancer there is a reverence for such forgotten things as the miracle of the small beautiful bones and their delicate strength. In a thinker there is a reverence for the beauty of the alert and directed and lucid mind. In all of us who perform, there is an awareness of the smile, which is part of the equipment, or gift, of the acrobat. We have all walked the high wire of circumstance at times. We recognize the gravity of pull of the Earth as he does. The smile is there because he is practicing living at that instant of danger. He does not choose to fall.

In seven decades as a dancer and choreographer, Martha Graham created 181 ballets. A founder of modern dance, she is known for her collaborations with other leading artists, including composer Aaron Copland. Graham's company trained dance greats such as Alvin Ailey and Twyla Tharp.

(Source)

Embellished Primary Series

Hemp Seed

28.12.09



As a vegetarian for many years, and currently transitioning to entirely vegan, I often get asked, where do you get your protein? The question. Though not as important as one might think, but still important, on some scale, if one is active, or practicing up to two hours of yoga a day. On a whole, Americans get far too much protein in their diet. And, in my opinion, not really the best sources, or the most bioavailable. Assimilation is key. Especially for those eating to live, versus living to eat.

Over the course of several weeks I'll be posting on various nutritional sources I've found to be beneficial to my overall diet, health and well-being. Now more than ever, I look to my food as an important element to maintaining balance. Yes, it's important to enjoy the process of eating. However, I'm completely over eating to enjoy, to then, feel I have to pay for it later with a food hangover. It's all about energy exchange. Check in with yourself. Does this food take away or add to my overall health and well-being? Important questions to ask.

I won't start preaching why vegetarianism and veganism is essential to health. Simply put, I've approached these practices as I've become more sensitive, while in tune with my own body. Thanks to yoga. Each choice we make not only affects ourselves, but the world around us. With the information my body has provided, along with external information in regards to environmental, and social issues, making the choice was an easy one. What I implore to those, is to tune inward, and go from there. It's something one must feel from the inside out. Not necessarily from external pressures.

By opening a dialogue in regards to health and nutrition I'm talking about living to the maximum, not just getting by. For this type of living one needs maximum sources of fuel. No more numbing. It's time to feel fully alive!

Hemp Seed

Hemp seeds are one of the most nutritionally complete food sources in the world. No kidding.
Both rich in protein and essential fatty acids this power packed seed goes back thousands of years. Both hemp seed and hemp seed oil are filled with benefits. Here's the 1, 2, 3.

1. EFAs. Essential fatty acids. There are the essential fatty acids in the oil — omega-6, omega-3, omega-9 — and also minor fatty acids like gamma linolenic acid (GLA) and stearidonic acid, which is biosynthesized from the alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

GLA and ALA cannot be made by the human body and must be obtained through the diet, so they are called essential fatty acids (EFA). GLA and ALA are the most important fatty acids in human nutrition and health. They are involved in producing life energy from food and the movement of that energy throughout the body. EFAs govern growth, vitality and state of mind. Still, much is unknown about their functioning in the body. This oil comprises 35% of the total seed weight and has the lowest amount of saturated fatty acids at 8%, and the highest amount of the polyunsaturated essential fatty acids at 80%. Flax seed oil comes in second at 72% combined total essential fatty acids.

2. 35% consists mostly of fiber, both soluble and insoluble. Insoluble fiber possesses passive water-attracting properties that help to increase bulk, soften stool and shorten transit time through the intestinal tract. Soluble fiber undergoes metabolic processing via fermentation, yielding end-products with broad, significant health effects.

3. 25% consists of a complete and highly-digestible protein, 65% high-quality edestin protein, the most potent protein of any plant source, 35% albumin protein and glutamic acid. The globulin edestin in hemp seed closely resembles the globulin in blood plasma, and is compatible with the human digestive system. It is vital to the maintenance of a healthy immune system and is also used to manufacture antibodies. Albumin is a protein manufactured by the liver that is supportive of liver and kidney health. Its high quality amino acid composition is closer to “complete” sources of proteins (meat, milk, eggs) than all other oil seeds except quinoa and soy.

Hemp seeds are also high in essential nutrients including chlorophyll, magnesium, potassium, sulfur, phytosterols, ascorbic acid, beta-carotene, calcium, fiber, histidine, iron, potassium, phosphorus, riboflavin, niacin and thiamin.

The good thing is, hemp seeds are easy to add to one's diet and taste great. Yummy. I love to sprinkle them on my favorite sprout and avocado salad. They go well sprinkled in oatmeal, smoothies, or even raw all by themselves. Remember to keep them refrigerated and sealed. This is important. As for hemp seed oil, use just like you would flax seed oil. I've been told it's good to rotate between flax seed and hemp seed oil. Both oils are not used for cooking and must be kept refrigerated. Adding the oil to salads, smoothies, soups, oatmeal or whatever else, is key after the food as been cooked.

(Sources)

Holy Backbending!

27.12.09

Boxing Day

26.12.09

Made it further north than Stockholm for the first time. Currently in Ludvika visiting my Bf's parents. It has snowed, and snowed some more. Talk about a white Christmas.

From the train station we took a bus into town where there were miles of pine forest. The trees covered in snow. Everything white. The way the sun lays low on the horizon gave the scene a quiet, somber feel. Extremely beautiful in a melancholic way. Dark and bright at the same time. Expansive. Cozy. A winter twilight.

Sweden. I giggle at the thought. Still. A year ago if someone would have told me I'd be living here I would've been like. Huh?! What? Are you crazy?! But, you know, in reality, Sweden is a hidden jewel. There's an untouched beauty here. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys travel, such as I.

Also, I'm shocked that I'm enjoying the cold weather. How did this happen? I always thought I was a tropical girl. Palm trees. Saltwater. Drinks with little umbrellas in them. A flower in my hair. I guess I can be both. A snow bird, and a beach bum. Geez. If I can't find waves to surf, maybe I'll have to find hills to snow board on or something. Hmmm. Now there's an idea.

Xmas Demo

25.12.09

Little Miss



It doesn't get cuter than this. My niece during Christmas last year. Oh. How fast they grow.

God Jule!

Doah!

24.12.09



This is why you don't leave your camera unattended ...

Yoga Demo

23.12.09



No matter one's practice, the core principles are the same. I really appreciate how Jim illustrates and expresses the practice of yoga. Enjoy!

A Winter Wonderland



"Vulnerability means to be hurt over and over again without seeking to love less, but more."

(Father Thomas Keating)

I love how the snow rests on the trees. It's beautiful. A beauty, only nature can create.

Wishing everyone a joyous pre-holiday warm up greeting! In Swedish, Merry Christmas is, God Jul! Spoken like, Good Yule.

Blessings!

Yes. Come Visit Sweden!



I know. The video is a bit cheesy, but you get the point, lol.

Days and Weeks

22.12.09



"Whatever satisfaction come from getting what the false-self wants, is always brief."

(Father Thomas Keating)


The days and weeks since moving to Stockholm have passed by in a flash. Almost in an accelerated fashion. Which is strange, crazy, and perplexing at the same time. Unbelievably, I'm picking up words everyday. My Swedish has a long way to go. The combination of doing my Rosetta Stone program, mixed with roaming about in public, hearing conversations, and such, has really made a difference. This is something I wanna hit out of the ballpark. Learning a new language. Gotta dust off the lazy English speaking stigma and work it. Being a native English speaker is tough in that it's so easy to fall into the trap of not trying to learn another language. Nope, that's not the route I choose to take. I'm finding speaking new words, having fun with it, is unexpectedly enjoyable. A welcome challenge. Who would have thought? Already have my sights set on learning French and Italian. Also, picking up where I left off with my Spanish studies. Whooo, and Mandarin. That be fun. Hahahaha. Okay. Let's take it one step at a time. Silly me.

Practice
Well. Fortunately, I've been able to maintain the rhythm of my practice with the move. No problem. Helps to have a great practice partner, I can't deny. A wonderful thing to have when used to practicing on one's own like I have, for as long as I have. Thankfully, the cold weather hasn't had much of an affect. That being, Swedish buildings are well insulated. And when outside, I don't mess around. I layer up.

I've been consciously honing in on striking a balance between effort and surrender. Often I find the effort is in showing up. When showing up, there is much surrender to be had. To be handed over. To be given. Often there are places for me to let go, and soon, I find there is even more to let go of. How could that be as the practice progresses to places more challenging? It's interesting. I play with the dynamic, and to my amazement, the greater the challenge, the greater the letting go. Especially with embarking into 3rd Series, it's unbelievable how much softening needs to take place within the effort and strength that comes into play with each asana.

I've come to the realization that it's time to no longer hold back. It goes deeper than the mere play of asana. A wise teacher of mine once told me, over and over again, "you're holding yourself back." And, within the holding back, I was often told I need to soften as well. Soften. In every way. Finally, after all this time, I see why. I see why it's become an important focus.

It's an exciting time. A time of transformation and manifestation. As this year comes to a close, I've never felt more ready to step into what it is I've always known I was meant to be. It goes beyond labels, status, and wants.

My heart wants to sing, and I no longer want to hinder it's song.

Building a Backbend Foundation



I really like the steps presented in this video for those learning to drop back. Awesome progressions.

Strength & Grace

21.12.09



Mark Darby, Certified Ashtanga Yoga teacher.

Ashtanga Demo

20.12.09



Long time Ashtangis, Mark & Joanne Darby. Namaste!

Skin Deep

19.12.09



"Prayer is not a request; prayer is a song. Prayer is our humble answer to the inconceivable surprise of living."

(Abraham Heschel)


Ah. Love Saturdays. Day of rest ...

It's snowing again. It's gotten even colder. Now I get to play the game of how much cold I can stand. Just remember this:

"Det finns inget dåligt väder, bara dåliga kläder."

Translation: There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.


My boyfriend, whose Swedish, obviously, reminds me of this. Although, they must have thicker blood here.Thick blood. Beautiful people. On average, I would have to say Swedes are a good looking people. There isn't a day goes by I don't see a stunning beauty. I'm not sure what it is. The stature, something in the eyes. The energy. There's something real about the attractiveness. No falseness or artificiality. Haven't been able to put my finger on it, as of yet. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and goes much further than skin deep.

I ♥ This

18.12.09

This. That.



"Errors are the portals to discovery."

(James Joyce, Ulysses)



Making the transition to Sweden, while anticipating my eventual move before that, left me neglecting posts about yoga and practice. I'll be getting back to that. Hopefully at some point posting more videos and such. It feels good to be reinvigorated. Brings it back. With heartfelt commitment, awareness expands. Delving into the internal landscape never gets boring. May not always be fun, nevertheless, it's never boring.

I've eased into the transition fairly well, however, most importantly, it didn't come without help. For this I'm am extremely grateful for.

My body hasn't revolted to the climate. Yet. If anything, there's been a freshness brought to the experience of living in Scandinavia. Sometimes I pinch myself thinking ... what in the hell am I doing here? Oh. Then I remember why. I smile. The crazy, beautiful part is, it feels like I'm supposed to be exactly where I am.

The Grace bestowed, walking forward, even through the dark times when all felt lost and hopeless, has renewed my faith. But this is life, isn't it? There's an ebb. There's a flow. There's this, there's that. Maintaining perspective is important.

Been offered a great opportunity in regards to teaching here in Stockholm. Looking forward to it. With a city filled with many great teachers I feel blessed for the opportunity. Just have to make it through my first Swedish Christmas, then ... sky's the limit.

The Beauty of Intermediate Series

Let it Snow

17.12.09



When thinking stops, love begins."

(Shri Shri)

Ha. So a couple weeks ago, I posted how winter felt light thus far. Well now, I'm eating my words. Winter is here, and it's full on. Snow, snow and more snow. This morning we had blizzard like conditions. And, I have no idea why, but I'm actually enjoying it. Why did it take coming to Sweden to appreciate the snow? It's not like we didn't have enough of it in the U.S. Midwest. Maybe has to do with getting around, and the attitude with the weather here. It doesn't really make big news. Swedes yawn at the sight of big snows, it's business as usual. Also, it lights everything up, which is needed, since the sun sets around 3:00 pm. I was so tickled today when I saw a few kids eating ice cream cones outside as snow was falling down around them. Hahaha. Unbelievable. Pass me the hot chocolate or a steaming mug of glögg. I'm a light weight.

With over 70% of Stockholm residents using public transportation not having to hassle with traffic, and driving makes for more fun. Although, plenty do drive in these conditions, no problem. To obtain a drivers license part of the requirements are to be able to handle conditions such as heavy snow. Cars must be inspected and safety approved too. I'm learning Swedes are all about safety, lol.

Since I'm out walking quite a bit I've learned the art of layering. I'm fascinated how the Swedes are able to stay warm while still looking fashionable. See, I've always known that it's possible to strike a balance between comfort and style. Isn't that what true luxury is all about anyway? Especially the women, they don't let frigid temps stop them from still sporting a feminine silhouette. Dresses, skirts, even mini skirts are worn, but complemented with cute patterned hosiery or leggings. And the boots, let's not forget the boots. Boots of every style and make. Some that come well up to the thighs and down to the ankles. Boot are a must, but ladies we can still look cute, put together, and warm.

For real though, my favorite are the kids. Too adorable. For fun I call toddlers weeble-wobbles, because of how bundled up they are. When they walk it's more like a teetering from side to side. It's tough walking bundled up when you're only 2 feet tall. Ah-em. I mean, 61 centimeters tall. I'm in metric country now.

Too cute, I tell you, too cute.

Winter Wonderland

16.12.09



"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music."

(Nietszche)

Christmas Market in Gamla Stan

15.12.09













"To the illumined mind, the whole world burns and sparkles with light."

(Emerson)


Grace

14.12.09



"Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell, your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace."

(Buechner)

The above quote has become one of my favorites. It pretty much sums it up.

As I learn. A student of life. I see how in the slowing down, nothing is missed. When we open, align to the surrounding flow, the pulse of life, a floodgate of knowing, the essence of being, seeps into our very cells, if we allow it.

As I surrender, I realize I wanna taste life. I wanna reveal in all that is real. Those simple moments. Raw. Unrefined. Done are the days of over processed living. Artificial. Funny how it intertwines into everything. The food I enjoy eating. The life I choose to life. Who I choose to spend my time with. I wanna taste what is real, and true.

Where the challenge resides is in accepting every moment life brings.

Grace, is everywhere, in everything.

True.

The Legend of St. Lucia

13.12.09



Honestly, I had never heard of St. Lucia until arriving to Sweden. Although I never had a Catholic upbringing, through religious studies and such, I've dabbled, learning a bit about various saints, and well, Lucia was never one of them.

Sweden celebrates St. Lucia on December 13th, which begins the traditions of the holiday season. Lucia symbolized, hope, peace, light, and love.

Cool
. I like this gal already.

History

According to legend, St. Lucia, known as the patron saint of light, was a medieval saint who carried food and drink to hungry folk in the province of Värmland during a period of famine. She was seen across Lake Vänern with her white gown and crown of lights. Today's costume has the same gown and crown. The Lucia legend is said to have originated in Syracuse on the island of Sicily. A young girl, about to be a bride, gave her entire dowry to the poor of her village and admitted that she had become a Christian. She was accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake on December 13, 304 A.D.

Much later in history, the early Church made a saint out of her - Santa (Saint) Lucia. Italian artists sometimes picture her as a blind girl holding a lamp. She is a patron saint for Italian fishermen and she is said to help guide them home through the rough seas during a storm.

There are many legends about her and in each one Lucia stands as a symbol of light and hope to all mankind. Santa Lucia's coming begins the feasting, merriment, singing and the spirit of friendliness and goodwill that lasts all through the holidays.

Celebrated in Sweden

In Sweden, the Lucia Day is celebrated all over the country in every home, school, and workplace on the morning of the 13th of December. All of the other Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Norway) celebrate Lucia as well. In each home usually the eldest daughter dresses in a white gown with a red sash and a crown of candles. She and her sisters wake the family at dawn and serve them a breakfast of sun-colored saffron buns and gingerbread cookies. At each school, there is a gathering in the auditorium or gym first thing in the morning. The lights are dimmed and the Lucia and Lucia maids enter, singing the old song "Santa Lucia".

At every workplace they make time for a special morning "coffee break" before the day even starts and a few ladies dress up as Lucias. At most public institutions, a table is laid ready with coffee, saffron buns and gingerbread cookies for the public to enjoy all that day. On this day, as well as around Christmas, a hot mulled drink called glögg is served.

Lucia brings a message of lighter times to come during the darkest time of the year. It is a very festive atmosphere, full of good feelings, hope, and expectations.

(Source)

Pepparkakor

12.12.09



Pepparkakor, the cookie of Christmas in Sweden. Or, better yet, traditionally eaten on the day of St. Lucia on December 13th. I'm a bit backwards, however, I'll write a little blog post on the significance of St. Lucia at some point.

Back to the cookies. I've already coined the term, peppar-crack-or, because of how delightfully addictive they are! Fun to make with the kids, and otherwise known as ginger bread cookies or ginger snaps, here's a recipe that will make the holiday season that much sweeter. Also, I apologize for not having healthier options but, whatever, sometimes we need to be a bit naughty.



Pepparkakor History

The Ginger snap or Ginger thin, Pepparkakan is a cookie that has been developed in Sweden during centuries, to become the cookie it has been the last hundred years. With its delicate flavor of ginger, pepper and other Herb’s baked so thin and crispy. It has become one of the favorite cookies in Sweden.As far back as the 15th century came the first ginger cookies to Sweden through German monks. The first documented evidence of the cookies is from 1534 the time of the famous king Gustaf Wasa, that the world’s biggest skiing event in Sweden is named after. Through the centuries the ginger cookies has mostly disappeared in the other countries and developed into the Swedish specialty that it is today.

The Name in Swedish “pepper cookie” is probably a name that the cookie got because the people in older times could not specify the spices so it was the dominant one that gave name to the cookie. The first Pepparkakor that was made was not brown as it is today. Instead they were white and often decorated with caramel color. That was the tradition in to the 1800. About 1830 changed the color to brown and the heart shaped Pepparkakan started and became popular. The heart shape is from old tradition combined with goodness and kindness. Perhaps has the belief of the cookies good influence of your spirit life connection with the heart shape of the cookie. It is believed in the folklore that you became kind after eating Pepparkaka, so just in case, take one.

(source)



Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup light molasses or dark corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Melted white chocolate or Royal Icing, for decoration (optional)

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and baking soda together until the mixture is smooth. Blend in the flour and cream to make a stiff dough. Chill at least 30 minutes, overnight, or until firm.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/8 to 1/16-inch thickness and cut into desired shapes using cookie cutters. (The thinner you roll the dough, the crispier the cookies will be). Place about 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes until lightly browned. Slide cookies and parchment off the baking sheet onto the counter top to cool. Dip cooled cookies into melted white chocolate to decorate, or decorate with Royal Icing. Icing is optional. Still good plain.

Glögg

10.12.09



Glögg. A holiday staple in Sweden. This yuletide beverage warms from the inside out. Perfect for chilly evenings and holiday cheer. If you're into trying something different, go ahead and give it a go! I've been told, Christmas wouldn't be Christmas in Sweden without a swig of this warm spicy drink! Traditionally eaten with gingerbread cookies (in Swedish, pepparkakor), yum, yum.

I took a recipe from chef Jamie Oliver, gotta love him. Glögg is also know as mulled wine. And, for those who prefer a nonalcoholic option, sub wine for grape juice. No problem.

Also, on a side note, in Sweden glögg is topped off with a spoonful of chopped almonds, and raisins once ladled out. Something worth trying. Enjoy!

• 2 clementines
• peel of 1 lemon
• peel of 1 lime
• 250g caster sugar
• 6 whole cloves
• 1 cinnamon stick
• 3 fresh bay leaves
• 1 whole nutmeg
• 1 whole vanilla pod, halved
• 2 star anise
• 2 bottles of Chianti, or other Italian red wine

Peel large sections of peel from your clementines, lemon and lime using a speed peeler. Put the sugar in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the pieces of peel and squeeze in the clementine juice. Add the cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves and about 10 to 12 gratings of nutmeg. Throw in your halved vanilla pod and stir in just enough red wine to cover the sugar. Let this simmer until the sugar has completely dissolved into the red wine and then bring to the boil. Keep on a rolling boil for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until you’ve got a beautiful thick syrup. The reason I’m doing this first is to create a wonderful flavor base by really getting the sugar and spices to infuse and blend well with the wine. It’s important to do, make a syrup base first, because it needs to be quite hot, and if you do this with both bottles of wine in there you’ll burn off the alcohol.

When your syrup is ready turn the heat down to low and add your star anise and both bottles of wine. Gently heat the wine and after around 5 minutes, when it’s warm and delicious, ladle it into glasses and serve.

(Source)


You see, I want a lot.
Perhaps I want everything
the darkness that comes with every infinite fall
and the shivering blaze of every step up.

So many live on and want nothing
and are raised to the rank of prince
by the slippery ease of their light judgments.

But what you love to see are faces
that do not work and feel thirst.
You love most of all those who need you
as they need a crowbar or a hoe.
You have not grown old, and it is not too late
to dive into your increasing depths
where life calmly gives out its own secret.

(Rainer Maria Rilke, Das Stundenbuch)

The Skinny on Fat

6.12.09

I've been meaning to write a blog post in regards to healthy fats for the past several months. As I tried to pull from several sources, including my own experience, I came across the following article that, naturally, put all down better than I could, lol. However, I will say, consuming a fair amount of ghee, olive oil, flax seed oil, coconut oil, chia seed, and walnuts doesn't bother me when it comes to weight. If anything, When consuming the above, at fairly healthy quantities, I find my metabolism revs up even more, like how a well oiled machine runs better and more efficiently. I've been guilty of adding walnuts, flax seed oil, chia seed, hemp seed and ghee in one serving of oatmeal in the morning with no issues. The important thing to remember is that all fats are not created equal!

By Dr. Ariel Policano

Omega-3's: Making healthy hormones, preventing heart disease and promoting weight loss!

When we think of fat in our diet, there often seems to be confusion surrounding the types of fat and the amount of fat that is beneficial. Some say fats are important, some say it should be no more that 10% of your diet. Fats are really crucial for optimal human health, so cutting back on them excessively does not make good sense. Some of the areas that fats play a role in are memory and brain health, preventing cardiovascular disease, creating healthy hormones and maintaining health at a cellular level.

Research shows that longevity and the reduction of illnesses like cancer and heart disease come as a result of consuming plant-based sources of fats (as in nuts and seeds). Saturated fats are typically those that come from meat and dairy and can promote inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation in the body is now associated with heart disease and cancer. A notable exception to saturated fats causing inflammation is coconut oil, which actually has anti-inflammatory properties.

Some form of saturated fat is needed in the human diet, and I will cover that in more depth in future articles. Until then, let me give you some quick advice: Consume coconut oil! Especially vegans. This is a healthy form of saturated fat, which is needed by the cell membrane and helps to give you a complete spectrum of necessary fats for good health.

Unsaturated fats are beneficial for our health because they act as healthy building blocks for hormones as well as our cells. An important part of each cell in our body is the cell membrane. This allows nutrition into the cell and effectively allows waste to be pumped out of the cell. The health of this cell membrane is determined to some degree by the fats that we consume, and our overall health is of course related to the health of our cells. The brain is also made up in large part of fats, and many of these unsaturated fats are instrumental in creating good health.

There are polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats. Flax seeds, hemp seeds and chia seeds are all a form of a polyunsaturated fat. The nature of a polyunsaturated fat makes it highly reactive. Don't ever heat polyunsaturated fatty acids because they oxidize very rapidly. This means that by heating or cooking with them, they produce free radicals. Flax seed oil should be consumed as close to the date it was pressed as possible. Similarly, grind your flax seeds right before consuming them, if possible.

Monounsaturated fats are somewhat more stable than polyunsaturated fats. Olive oil is an example of a monounsaturated fat.

People often wonder about the root of the names for the unsaturated fats - omegas 3, 6 and 9. The names take their cue from their chemical structure. This is a bit technical, so hold onto your hat. The location of a double bond, which connects two carbon atoms, determines the name of these essential fatty acids (EFAs). "Omega" tells us that when we start to count the double bond, we start from the end (the right hand side). The "3" indicates where the first double bond occurs along the chain. The point is that it is the location of double bonds that causes omega-3s to behave differently in the body compared to other fatty acids.

Let's take a look at some of the omega-3 essential fatty acids. One of that we hear about a lot is called ALA, or alpha linolenic acid. ALA is found in flax seeds and hemp seeds. Then there is EPA (eicosopentanoic acid), which is typically found in fish and DHA (docosohexanoic acid) which is also found in fish like salmon and others. However, marine phytoplankton contains both EPA and DHA! This is truly amazing because these two omega-3 fatty acids are very anti-inflammatory and have been used as key therapeutics in reducing the risk of heart disease. Fish oil has been the knee-jerk recommendation to many people who have or are at risk of developing heart disease. It is wonderful to have an alternative to fish and fish oil to derive the same benefits.

It makes sense that the phytoplankton would be more bio-available because it is the source of EPA and DHA for the fish. The fish eat the plankton and then we eat the fish, so we have quite a task then of extracting the oil from the fish. If we consume the fish oil, there are then other questions. Is the oil truly fresh? With the processing, transport time and the time it sits in a gelatin cap on the shelf of your health food store, does it have a chance to become rancid? Is the fish safe in terms of being free from heavy metal contamination? Marine phytoplankton does not carry any of those concerns. The plankton are very small and are easily broken down and assimilated.

Here is a summary of recommended foods and oils that contain omega-3 fatty acids: flax (seeds and oil), hemp (seeds and oil), chia seeds, walnuts and marine phytoplankton.

The benefits of omega-3s include reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke while helping to reduce symptoms of hypertension, depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Some research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids support the health of the immune system and may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.

One of the most important benefits of omega-3 fatty acids is that they reduce inflammation. The omega-3 fatty acids are the ingredients actually change chemical reactions to produce fewer substances called leukotrienes and prostaglandins. These substances will tend to increase aches and pains in the body. When we compare these to saturated fats, the saturated fats actually promote inflammation. Chronic inflammation, as measured in the blood with markers like C-reactive protein, is now known to be associated with cancer and heart disease.

One of the most interesting things about omega-3 fatty acids is that they do not make you "fat" in the way that saturated fats (as from meat and dairy) do. The omega-3 fatty acids help your body and your metabolism to function much more effectively. And when your body and brain function better, you feel better. Your cardiovascular system functions better because of the effects on the bloodstream.

And finally, here is an amazing key to maintaining healthy weight! By consuming foods that contain omega-3's like flax and hemp, the body secretes a substance called leptin. The leptin will help you to feel more satisfied with less food. It also improves the body's ability to respond to insulin. If you process insulin more effectively, you will also regulate blood sugar and manage your weight much more easily. High levels of circulating insulin tell the body "store fat!" and literally block the biochemical pathway that breaks fats down. The secretion of these leptins in response to omega-3 fatty acid consumption will reduce these circulating insulin levels. Pass the hemp seeds, please!

Enjoy the fats listed below in moderation and you will likely experience fewer aches and pains, better mood and memory, better hormonal health and maybe even some weight loss! After all, now you have the skinny on fats.

Healthy Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

Flax seeds and flax oil
Hemp seeds and hemp oil
Chia seeds
Walnuts
Marine phytoplankton
(Source)

5.12.09


There are millions of people in this world, but in the end it all comes down to one. I still panic sometimes, forget to breathe, but I know that there’s something beautiful in my imperfections; the beauty that he held up for me to see. The strength that I will never be able to say.

(Crazy/Beautiful)

Ah. Yes. What a lovely experience. To be shown love in all it's beauty, to then have it begin to dissolve those dark places still held inside. Enraptured to a place that heals. That ultimately sets me free. Defenses, walls, come crumbling down. Old patterns cease in the face of genuine, heartfelt love. Nothing is more true. Nothing is more real. Nothing is more worth living than that.

Sleep Through the Static

4.12.09

Trouble travels fast
When you’re specially designed for crash testing
Or wearing wool sunglasses in the afternoon
Come on and tell us what you’re trying to prove

Because it’s a battle when you dabble in war
You store it up, unleash it, then you piece it together
Whether the storm drain running rampant just stamp it
And send it to somebody who’s pretending to care

Just cash in your blanks for little toy tanks
Learn how to use them, then abuse them and choose them
Over conversations relationships are overrated
“I hated everyone” said the sun

And so I will cook all your books
You’re too good looking and mistooken
You could watch it instead
From the comfort of your burning beds
…Or you can sleep through the static

Who needs sleep when we’ve got love?
Who needs keys when we’ve got clubs?
Who needs please when we’ve got guns?
Who needs peace when we’ve gone above
But beyond where we should have gone?
We went beyond where we should have gone

Stuck between channels my thoughts all quit
I thought about them too much, allowed them to touch
The feelings that rained down on the plains all dried and cracked
Waiting for things that never came

Shock and awful thing to make somebody think
That they have to choose pushing for peace supporting the troops
And either you’re weak or you’ll use brut force-feed the truth
The truth is we say not as we do

We say anytime, anywhere, just show your teeth and strike the fear
Of god wears camouflage, cries at night and drives a dodge
Pick up the beat and stop hogging the feast
That’s no way to treat an enemy

Well mighty mighty appetite
we just eat ‘em up and keep on driving
Freedom can be freezing take a picture from the pretty side
Mind your manners wave your banners
What a wonderful world that this angle can see

But who needs to see what we’ve done?
Who needs please when we’ve got guns?
Who needs keys when we’ve got clubs?
Who needs peace when we’ve gone above
But beyond where we should have gone?
Beyond where we should have gone
We went beyond where we should have gone
Beyond where we should have gone

(Jack Johnson)

Love in the face of Hate



Love dissolves hate. A simple Truth.

Practice for the Children Pendants!!!

3.12.09


Designed by Lena
"Acts of sacrifice, charity and penance purify even the great souls. Charity is for the purification of the heart; when given to suitable persons, it leads one to advanced spiritual life."

(Bhagavad-gita)

Okay, everybody! My inspiration. The one who shoots me rays of sunshine over cyberspace. Tracy! An absolutely amazing woman. I so enjoy sitting back and seeing what she will come up with next, and she NEVER disappoints.

Being a passionate supporter of charitable causes in India, her current project is coined "Practice for the Children Pendants." By purchasing the following pendant in honor of Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, proceeds go the following charity Operation Shanti.

Operation Shanti Envisions...

A world in which the poor are given the opportunity to reach their full potential in life.

Spreading peace, goodwill, and hope throughout our world by helping the poorest and neediest gain status and their rightful place in their societies is the vision of Operation Shanti. Often, the poor are robbed of their human rights, are discarded, treated inhumanely, or are ignored. The ultimate goal of our work strives to give the poor back their rights as human beings.

Operation Shanti's Mission is...

To directly improve the lives of exploited, at-risk, destitute children and the forgotten, suffering elderly, enabling them to become "beacons of light" and share the same gifts of peace, goodwill, and generosity with others for the rest of their lifetimes.

We help the poorest and neediest children and elderly, and the forgotten destitute, with the basic human needs: food, shelter, medical services and educational assistance. As we believe that every human can and should stand on his/her own, we are there to help the destitute begin to help themselves.


With such commitment, and undying selfless enthusiasm Tracy brings to this current project and to the children of Operation Shanti, I encourage those interested to click on the following link, to her blog, to purchase a pendant in honor of our dear Guruji, that will in turn better the lives of children this great charity touches. For only $34 USD. the pendant can be shipped anywhere in the world. So don't delay!

I say this because it comes from a heart, so big, I continually draw unlimited sources of inspiration from her. Dear Tracy!

A Lotus Girl (click here, look for 'pendant' in the right hand column once you reach the site)




Designed by Lena



Just got mine the other day, and happy to be supporting such a great cause!
3.9. Impressions of externalization are subdued by the appearance of impressions of nirodha. As the mind begins to be permeated by moments of nirodha, there is development in nirodha.

Like the sunrise which always overpowers the darkness of night, nirodha unfailingly counteracts vyutthana, externalization.

Our efforts are like powerful seeds that do most of their work out of sight. No effort in Yoga is ever wasted. Our practices plant and nourish seeds of nirodha, of stillness and clarity. In times they will sprout, grow, and blossom.

It is apparent that practices such as meditation, prayer, study, and self-analysis develop nirodha. But nirodha really gains momentum when we create the inner environment in which nirodha thrives. In practical terms, this means looking to principles of scared wisdom as the standard by which we make choices and by which we adjust our perception of life and the world. By adopting sacred standards as our guidelines for living, we create an inner universe where fears, anxieties, and restlessness are diminished by faith, compassion, and clear, steady focus.

Development in nirodha is greatly accelerated when we live our lives guided by the principles found in the yamas and niyamas. Once we include guidelines such as these in our lives, Yoga practice ceases to be limited to a couple of hours a day. The advantage of this is that more and more of our thoughts and acts add to our momentum towards liberation.

Inside the Yoga Sutras - by Reverend Jaganath Carrera
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SKPJ

"Vāyu, the subtle power of the breath, is the very epitome of God. In fact, vāyu is God himself. So, when a person breathes, God is at work. As you know, without the power of the breath, a human body will die. The śāstras recognize this vital fact of life, and accord it all the importance that it deserves. The reason that proper breathing is vital to the practice of yoga is that it enables you to calm your mind, and allows good thoughts to filter in. Without it, disorientation of the mind will occur and breathing patterns will become seriously affected. The whole basis of proper breathing is to insure a perfect state of mind, that is, a mind that is not agitated, angry and unstable. The Bhagavad Gitā, which is all encompassing, explains the importance of uniform breathing, as I said earlier. So, if you inhale for ten seconds, for example, you should also exhale for the same length of time. This will insure the maintenance of the body's equilibrium. Before we conclude, though, I would like to stress again that yoga is for everyone - man, woman, the young, old, healthy, infirm. It is all a matter of having an inclination for it. Laziness or lack of interest are the only things that get in the way of its practice, nothing else. That is a universal truth."

(Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, Sūryanamaskāra)

Two Weeks

1.12.09




You need not do anything. Remain sitting at your table and listen. You need not even listen, just wait. You need not even wait, just learn to be quiet, still and solitary. And the world will freely offer itself to you unmasked. It has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.

(Frank Kafka)


It's been a little over two weeks since landing in Stockholm, and I'm already feeling at home. The short days haven't really gotten to me. All I can say is, it's different, just like the summers, when the days are especially long and bright.

Already, I've been congratulated on arriving in November, coined the worst month in Sweden, because of the rain and clouds that make up the majority of the days. Now that December has arrived, I have the pleasure of experiencing all that comes with Swedish Christmas celebrations. If there's a country with contrast, Sweden would be it. My three months during the spring and summer were vibrating. The brightness. The daylight. The clear blue skies. Now with the clouds hovering low in the sky it brings a whole different energy to the place. And the snow. Well, that hasn't come yet, but I'm sure it's well on it's way.

So what have I been doing? Not anything earth shattering as of yet. Getting settled. Feeling things out. Good thing is, I didn't move here blind. I've already had a good taste, so nothing feels too out of the ordinary. One thing I've learned from all my recent travels is learning the art of adaptability. Not sure if I always get it down, however I've appreciated the importance of getting into a rhythm when in a new place.

Just before leaving for Sweden, I was given a strong sense it's time to enter back into my creativity. Something I've left dormant for quite a while now. I'm still sussing it out. Although, my problem tends to be getting started. I have a world of ideas, but all to often not sure where to take it all. Not sure what actions to take. But also, I've learned sometimes I must be patient. Sometimes it's important to simply ask. Ask a higher power for guidance. For assistance. Ask the place where inspiration is born.

The process of creating was something I inherently felt when young. The space of unmanifested potential where anything and everything is generated. Why does so much of life pull us out of that? The little girl who loved to create, who loved the arts, who loved to dance. Where did she go? I tried the "other" stuff, and well, I have to say, it left me uninspired and dried up. No longer do I desire to follow the path that has already been traveled down. Why not charter new territory? Yeah, sure, I'm in a new country, but I'm talking about that place within myself.

So, I have these questions. I'll sit with it, and see what comes.

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Sweden Beauty

29.11.09


"Yoga says experience. Just like science says experiment, yoga says experience. Experiment and experience are both the same, their directions are different. Experiment means something you can do outside; experience means something you can do inside. Experience is an inside experiment."

(OSHO)

Took the above photo on my walk today. Whenever it's clear and sunny I take the opportunity to be outside for a good block of time. There's a freshness here that is unlike anything I've experienced. Truly enjoyable.

Horizon

28.11.09

Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds

(Albert Einstein)

The sun lays low on the horizon in the winter time. Something I'm not entirely used to, but it's cool. It's different. Gives off an unique vibe. Like I've said before, since being in Stockholm, the weather has been fairly mild. Damp. Cloudy. With peaks of sunshine here and there. There is something cozy about it. Instead of reacting to the changes, or the weather, I look to it with open awareness. Fascination. Curiosity.

With Christmas coming around the corner the decorations are coming out. It will be interesting to see how the city comes alive during the holidays. With the winters being dark. The sun setting at around 3 pm, Swedes like to light things up. Candles in the all the windows. Lights. This is the weekend to let it all out. I guess the tree comes later though. Still learning.

I've easily transitioned my practice. With change, as always, it's nice to have an anchor. A grounding force to put it all into proper perspective. It's a happy time. A time of open possibility. Never quite knowing what door will open, or where certain paths will lead.

The horizon is wide open, and I like the view.

Giving Thanks

26.11.09

Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

(Steve Jobs)

Swedes don't celebrate Thanksgiving. Obviously. So, it's any other day. However, it's still an excuse to celebrate!! A celebration in gratitude. Stepping into the energy of appreciation, and graciousness seems to be the ladder that lifts me out of negativity, and despair. There is always something to be grateful for no matter how bad things get. Taking a moment to consciously bring yourself into the alignment of gratitude puts everything into perspective and proper order. Graciousness brings more grace. Grace brings lightness into our souls as we trust that all we need is available to us.

On this day I'm reminded that the most important things in life are those of the immaterial. What carries on through eternity is the love, kindness, and compassion we've given, acquired and received in our lives. And how interesting is it that what causes the most conflict in our world are over the material that in no way sustain our spirits or are taken with us when we pass from this life. Talk about putting things into perspective.

So, even though there will be no grand Thanksgiving feast for me today to fill my belly, my heart is full, and I must say, there's no better feeling.

Blessings to you and yours!!!
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Green Stockholm

24.11.09

Shortie

23.11.09

No human relation gives one possession in another…every two souls are absolutely different. In friendship and in love, the two side by side raise hands together to find what one cannot reach alone.

(Kahlil Gibran)


Towering a staggering 5 feet 2 inches (right, should have the metric thing down by now, sorry) I'm not necessarily what you call tall. Wonder what that's like? Hahaha. Anyway, I'm amazed how tall Swedes are. Even compared to Americans, they seem to be taller on average, especially the women. Wow. It's interesting, In Asia I felt normal, even big at times, but here, well, even the kids seems to look at me at eye level, lol.

Besides feeling short, living in Stockholm feels like the most natural thing in the world. Going in, I had a brace yourself mentality regarding the weather, but really, come on Mother Nature, bring it. It hasn't been that bad. A bit damp for my taste, but that's what November is like. No biggie. One thing I can say is, the holidays are gonna be beautiful in the city. Already, I've learned some of the Swedish holiday traditions, so it's kinda nice to get wrapped up in it. Enjoy. Learn and experience something new. Why not. This is home now.

Speaking of home, I've been doing quite a bit of cooking. Today, I made ghee for the first time. Yay! It went well. Extremely easy, so I'm happy. There's something empowering about taking charge and learning something new. Now I know how to make ghee! Yipee! I know I sound totally nerdy right now. Beyond that, I'm learning how to sprout too! Fun. Fun. I'm experimenting with mung beans first. The nutritious qualities of sprouts are unparalleled, and soooo easy.

"Ghee is sweet in taste and cooling in energy, rejuvenating, good for the eyes and vision, enkindles digestion, bestows lustre and beauty, enhances memory and stamina, increases the intellect, promotes longevity, is an aphrodisiac and protects the body from various diseases."

(Bhavaprakasha, 16th Century Ayurvedic text)

So many projects. This week David and I are doing the liver/gallbladder cleanse. His first. My second. It's recommended to repeat the cleanse until no more stones are past. I'm pretty committed to it, and since going through it my first time it's a fairly simple process to endure again. Basically, I'm following the protocol and recommendations in the book, The Liver and Gallbladder Miracle Cleanse, by Andreas Moritz.

Now, after everything it's time to get back to my Swedish language studies. Hahahaha. I was going pretty hard at it until I found out my residency status went through. Totally backwards, I know. Yep, call me a slacker. So, it's time to amp into high gear again. As an observer, it such an interesting language. Intricate. Melodic. Not sure if this American girl can swing it, lol. But, like I said before, it's all about learning something new. Expanding. No fear. Whew!


Link here for more info on Sprouting!!

Here for ghee!
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Simple Swedish Lesson

20.11.09

Landing

19.11.09

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to change you is the hardest thing of all.

(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

Wow. So I've landed. I think. Hahaha. Well actually, I landed last Saturday. However, my travel experience didn't happen without a few bumps. With all the new baggage requirements we are inundated with as travelers these days makes for a perplexing experience. How wonderful that when moving to Sweden I was only allowed to check one bag for a transatlantic flight. Wonderful. Talk about downsizing. Talk about an excuse to simplify. I managed to check only one bag, and it was over weight. Once I was raped $50 USD I was on my way. So I thought.

Just remember, any travel that has to do with Chicago O'Hare International Airport means delay. Delay all the way. My scheduled flight from Columbus to Chicago was late because it was coming from Chicago. Chicago O'Hare that is. Let's get this straight, Chicago O'Hare = LATE. I've heard this from other travelers. So from the get go, I was delayed and missed every connection thereafter. Lovely.

Well, I won't go further into detail, but I made it. Obviously. The good thing is, I didn't have to sleep overnight in an airport terminal. With all the bumps I touched down in Stockholm 6 hours later than scheduled. Whew! With all that it felt good to be back.

I bundled myself up before leaving Arlanda International Airport thinking it would be freezing outside, and to my pleasant surprise it was nice. Not too cold. Not warm. Perfect. The perfect part being getting the warmest smile and hug from DF.

As I settle into the rhythm in Stockholm I feel a sense of calm. I feel a sense of goodness. This is nice. I've got lots to grow into. I've got a language to tackle. Change in climate. Culture.

Changes. This is a stretch. A new posture, and all I need to do is just breathe.

A Reflection

10.11.09



Risk! Risk anything! Care no more for the opinions of others, or those voices. Do the hardest thing on earth for you. Act for yourself. Face the truth.

(Katherine Mansfield)



Setting up to live in another country gives me pause in times of change and transition. I guess it's natural. Another phase. Another journey. Another adventure. It's a change I feel calm and certain about for some unknown reason. So, I roll with it. Moving forward with a confidence that I haven't had in a long time or may have never had. No. Not blind confidence. But, a confidence that feels natural, that feels good, because I'm stepping into the heart of life. The unknown.

No. It doesn't take traveling to distant lands to find one's heart's fulfillment, but it does take a certain amount of trust to step into the unknown. Somehow the unknown has become knowable. A knowing made manifest by surrendering complete control, and allowing my heart to take the lead.

Yes. There have been times I've taken those timid heart felt steps, to have begun to fly, to end up taking a complete nose dive. Hahaha. It's true. But, I survived. I lived. I became stronger. Those lessons were priceless, and somehow I'm not as fearful. When fears take hold they choke the life out of our essence. Our soul.

Yes. Fears are a natural part of life. However, shockingly, when scared, I continued, I stepped forward. Sometimes limping! And I learned every little step had meaning. Truly.

Yes. There is much ahead for me to behold. To learn. To grow into. And, I find. Wow. This is what it's all about. Loving and learning. Growing and trusting. Living and laughing. I mean, it's such a simple concept. When standing in the little 'i', the 'me', oh, how heavy life becomes. When truly embodying myself, my essence, I expand beyond the little stuff, and breathe in what really matters.

Freedom. Expansion. Love. Open, adventurous abandon. I like the sound of it. Give me all of it!


Sweden Bound

3.11.09



You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.

(Dr. Suess)



Just recently made it back from Portland, Oregon to visit my sister, her husband, and my adorable, energetic, two-year-old niece. Had to make my rounds before my eventual move to Sweden.

Stockholm, Sweden that is. Yipee!

The trip to the Northwest was fab, and relaxing. Hanging out with my niece was a delight. I love the toddler age when the personality and soul start to bloom. It's fun. Nobody brings you into the present moment more than little ones, that's for sure.

Had the pleasure of practicing at one of Portland's Ashtanga yoga studios, Near East Yoga. Really liked the vibe, with it primarily focused on Mysore style. Which we all know is the way the method is best transmuted. If ever in the area, I highly recommend dropping in.

This has been a time to count every blessing. From the littlest to the most grand, so much has touched my heart, it renders me speechless ...

Sacred Ritual

25.10.09



Fear is the question. Love is the answer.

(Rain Bojangles)


Sacred ritual. A time of offering, a handing over, an alignment to a greater/larger power, in our daily practices. A practice that has continued to nourish me beyond what is comprehensible. As it should be. Going beyond the realities of time and space. Going beyond what is outside and taking me deep to the universe that resides within.

The daily showing up to the mat has taken me to a place of grander discovery to my surprise. No more is it about accomplishment. Somehow it's developed into a sacred place. It's become a sacred ritual of inner to outer connection. As I connect within, my physical body comes alive, fueled by conscious breath to conscious breath. Every movement has meaning. The turn of my foot. The bend of my knee. The gaze to my big toe has just of a significance as twisting, lifting, and jumping. All of it. Every bit of it, becomes scared, and in that, I loose sense of me, and become one with the movement, the breath, the experience.

Ahh. It's THAT, that brings me back. Every morning.

Process

23.10.09



Do not seek the because - in love there is no because, no reason, no explanation, no solutions.

(Anais Nin)

Process. I had a new practitioner of the practice tell me they were tired of being a process. This was after a highly emotional breakdown/breakthrough. It never ceases to amaze how through the practice of yoga layers start to dismantle. I've seen it time and time again. It isn't always necessary one go through a massive emotional upheaval, but sometimes it does happen. Sometimes it's necessary. Sometimes we need to feel something for once in our lives instead of numbing, running, hiding, deflecting those dark places within us.

After I heard this, I asked what they meant by being tired of being a process, even though I already felt every bit of what they meant by it. Because, I've been there. Oh my, I've soooo been there. I've felt this. Sometimes still do. But, yeah, I totally understood what the meaning behind it was.

The feeling of being a process. The process of becoming. Becoming what? It. That. That thing. That place that is just beyond grasp. Ugh. Then will I find happiness?

It's easy to fall into this space. Thinking there is some type of salvation to work toward. When really, salvation lives in every single moment. Each moment culminating into profound awareness if only we stop resisting what is. Sounds so completely simple. And is. However, to put into practice, daily, moment to moment, requires a fair amount of letting go. Which happened through the emotional release.

Scaling the mountain of perfection is an endless climb. The ego feeds on this energy. The energy of continual dissatisfaction for what is right in front of our faces. We climb. We reach. Thinking fulfillment is 'out there' somewhere.

On the flip side, it doesn't mean apathy. Not caring. Never desiring. But, a little thing I've learned along the way is the importance of embracing the imperfections. Embrace that our hearts will get broken. Embrace the rejection. Embrace what we feel for God's sake! Embrace those dark places. When we open to who we are NOT rather than push it away, we start to feel who it is we ARE. As we embrace everything, we can use it as fuel to further understand.

Embrace meaning to be present.

As I further listened. I really had no words to speak of. For, how do you illustrate to someone that this too will pass, and to be cut open as such will lead one where they need to go even though it feels uncomfortable?

I've never been the best at giving advice because often I feel as if I'm bumbling along in life, figuring it out as I go along. However, I will say, I've started to soften with time versus harden. I don't want this life to make me hard. I don't want to shut down. I don't want to live feeling like I have to build a fence around me exuding the need to build on to my exterior. Yes, it leaves me more vulnerable, but through it all, I've learned this is a strength.

Love is the strongest power of all. It's a softening, yielding energy. Such a strong amount of trust it takes. I trust a little more everyday ... and oh, how I soften. A settling into. A settling into my own being.

It never matters if we get knocked down. It's in the getting up where we find what we are made of.


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