My Friend, YTT & Student Terry Copeland
My body, mind and spirit are so thankful for this change in seasons! Lately I have been feeling a bit crowded in my own body and mind and partly due to the long winter we have had. The last two weeks have been wonderful waking up and seeing the sun smiling back at me like it’s thanking me for being alive! This past week I have been barefoot outside a number of times offering up a tremendous amount of gratitude and thanks for being able to have such a grounded and rich relationship with the earth and my Higher Power and Global Consciousness.
I often look at my life in its current state and like anyone, I see where it can be better and I can do better, and work harder. I am not someone who will just sit and wait, that being said, I very much agree with allowing things to happen in your life, not to force them prematurely before it’s your time.
Within my own being and my own meditation and time of commune with nature and my higher consciousness, I often ponder and ask how this combination makes sense, when I think about this dynamic out loud, it kind of sounds like I am a crazy person not knowing what I want or what is the right next step.
But let me try to draw you more clarity on my findings.
You are looking for a new job, now being bum and not going out and doing the leg work, just letting or having others do it for you, will not get you the job. Just as much as trying so hard that you actually end up getting in your own way from the job you are looking for. I have this conversation in my head (yes I talk to myself) a lot that it’s a balance between allowing the Universe to give you what is waiting for you and actually putting in effort for the fruits of your labors.
I have children and if I want them to grow up and become respectable peoples in society and go for their dreams, and listen to their hearts, know what hard work is and how to be self-sufficient then I as their mother need to display that to them now. I look at my own children and on a larger scale at my students and teachers at Copper Tree and I have to work hard and keep a balance in check as to my actions and behaviors, I am not perfect but my yogic lifestyle teaches me that it’s ok to admit when I am wrong and to learn from my mistakes rather than try to cover them up or just flat out have someone else do that in which I am capable of and should myself.
For the last ten years I have worked incredible hard not only to move my career forward but to keep moving on the road of recovery. And as you and me both journey down this road (we are all recovering from something, right) it is important to realize this necessary balance. Every once in a while I get frustrated with how my life is moving and I look out and wish for a moment that I would have someone doing all the work for me. But then my inner voice speaks up and says that is no way to trying get where you are going and have karma be on your side.
Let’s be real, life is not always easy, but life is also the most easiest and enjoyable, if you can learn and master the way of the road. This crazy dynamic of comfortable yet challenged in an asana pose is a perfect metaphor for how it is we (in my opinion and experience) should live life. Learning to be happy and content with where you are, simply in this very moment, but understanding that it is not an excuse for you not to be active in your life and work to be better, dig deeper and try harder. Just as much as never allowing yourself to stop to be in the moment (which is why we meditate, and slow the asana flow down, to be in our bodies and feel) will not get you the happiness you are searching for.
Are you trying so hard you are spinning your wheels, because if that is you, then I want to encourage you to step back for just a moment and look out at what is going on, are you putting all your energies in the right direction, what are you neglecting, what are you trying to make work or prove that it’s the right way?
I like to think that my husband and I have a very good relationship, we may not always agree on things or see the order of operations they same way, but we are both willing stop and reflect; I am simply more conscious of his needs and efforts as well as his point of view and hopefully him of mine. We seek to find a balance and each day have to consciously work to not force, we have no room or sitting around and having others do our lives for us, but equally we both have to make sure we are putting our efforts into the things that ultimately matter.
So back to my initial thought, take a few minutes today and just take an honest look at how you are living, who you are blaming, what you are avoiding or trying to escape from, sometimes we have this big elephant in the room and instead of just being uncomfortable for just a short amount of time while we tackle the big elephant and then move on we decide to keep dancing around the elephant, doing all sorts of other tasks and activities to make us feel like we can then justify our elephant dance.
Where are you putting in effort and where do you need to back off? Where are you forcing and where could you offer up a bit more allowing? For me, much of my life was pushing off onto others that which I needed to do myself, so my growth was delayed MEGA delayed, because I convinced the people around me to enable me, feel sorry for me and I basically got them to help me stay stuck. This type of reflection can only be done if you are ready, only if you choose to see will you see how you are actually living your life.
That being said, just know, sometimes it’s just not our time yet, so we need to learn to be patient and in our body and in the moment with what is offered. And while we are waiting we can work hard and be the best advocate for what else needs to be done in the mean time so that when life says OK we also say OK.
Yoga has taught me to take 150% responsibility of my life and the things and people in it. How I react to something is a direct relation to my choices prior. I choose to not get out of bed earlier then I have to accept that my kids may be rushed and not move as fast as I need them to, and I may be late. Is it their fault that they won’t put on their shoes or are eating slowly, and then I’m late and they are maybe even crying? No, it’s my fault, my learning lesson, I put them in that position and I set myself up for those behaviors and reactions. I make mistakes and don’t always plan appropriately but what yoga has taught me is that I take 150% responsibility and I stop blaming (something I was very good at), and start making change. I am OK with the outcome because I know better for tomorrow, I will not just sit at wait for something to come, especially if that means that life just passes me by. I will work to not try so hard, and when I feel frustrated it’s usually because I am forcing something that isn’t in right order. Don’t blame others, when I find myself doing that I remind myself that I am simply be a coward to my own personal being. How does that help me or anyone else grow?
So today seek balance in your efforts and that which you allow the Universe to do for you. Seek honesty in your actions and reactions towards life, your actions and the actions of others. You can only help others if they truly want to be helped and you can only change in your own personal being if you truly TRULY want to change.
I am constantly amazed at how the Universe and the world around me keep me on my toes. As I write this I am on a layover in Dallas, Texas, and just a few hours prior, I was at Madison Airport running back to my car at 5:38am (after a run into the airport because I realized how far the economy parking lot is, and heck I have legs to I can walk, but I don’t want to be late). In just a few minutes the Universe taught me to be even more conscious and do what my Inner Self, that whisper from God telling you to do something and when we don’t listen we may have to do something more complicated than what the initial request was. So that run back to my car I was talking about was because after check in (and my flight being moved from 6am to 6:30am) I went to the bathroom, and after, I had the thought to text my husband to tell him I’m at the airport, but I thought that I’d wait until later because I didn’t feel like taking my phone out of my bag. Well after security check I was searching for my phone and couldn’t find it…it was in my car. And at 5:38am I found myself, with my roller suitcase and handbag running in 8 degrees to get my phone, hoping I won’t miss my flight at 6:30pm.
Lesson here, do what your Inner Self says, and when you don’t there is a silver lining, I wasn’t mad that I had to run back to the car (after running in the first time to get my flight). Because I instantly thought of the fact that before I even made the choice to not look at my phone, God and the Universe already switched my flight to accommodate my choice five minutes later.
I have for many years now believed that being comfortable in life means that you are not growing, and that there are two different kinds of easy: one, easy because you are avoiding life’s challenges so what you come in contact with is never pushing you to be more than you currently are; and two, easy because you understand that you need to be challenged and that all the “problems” you are facing currently are because life is not giving up on you, the Universe and God want very much for you to succeed and that what is currently taking you down, is actually building you back up. The only real challenge is if you choose to listen or not.
Over the years I have had many opportunities to challenge my personal integrity, my belief system and how I act on it, my lifestyle, my truths, among many other personal convictions; and within all of those opportunities I have come face to face several times with the meshing and tangling with others integrity, belief system, lifestyle and personal convictions and what I have come to notice, and turn my awareness towards is my actions and reactions to the interactions with life in general.
And what I have come to find is that all these encounters force me to put life into actual action. Now as you read this you are probably wondering ‘life into actual action’, isn’t life actual action? But hear me out; life is only living when you chose to be an active part of it, faith is only faith when you choose to attest to it and walk in its footsteps. Yoga is only yoga when you take it off the mat and into every day life. Now readings this ask yourself a few simple questions: one, do I agree, two, if I don’t agree, why, am I not living up to my potential, three, am I consciously choosing to only do what is comfortable and the norm, only what others say is right or correct living.?
If everything is a mirror for right living, for ourselves to get a real glimpse as to what is really going on inside of us, then this is the question I ask myself is: “what is my mirror showing me today?” I don’t always like the mirror because it tells me that what I am doing and what I know I should be doing and am capable of, are different. When we accept the mirror in all aspects of life we allow another opportunity in- to grow and become the person the Universe and God intended us to be.
There is no drug, surgery or amount of money that can replace what the mirror can do for us. We live in an age of politically correct action; we are trying to save everyone from harm’s way, from hurt, from consequences to help them from seeing the mirror that is in front of them. I often times wonder if removing the mirror from people’s lives is really the right decision. As a yoga teacher, I tread both heavy and lightly on these grounds because we are all at a different place in life and within our own personal convictions.
I have a bit of abhorrence when my awareness kicks in and each night when my husband wants ice cream I want to pretend that I should have some too and it won’t affect me later. I dislike greatly that my mirror kicks in and shows me that I would be a lot less stressed, less tired, and more ready for the day if I just go to bed earlier. The list goes on, in the past I came to realize that my food choices were base on what I felt I should be doing rather than what I need for me, my body image was based solely on what I thought others thought of me. My self-worth was entangled in the worth of those around me. And what I believe in and acted on in faith was knotted in with was drilled into my head without reason why, and was in-fact faith without action. Sure I went to church and prayed and did my fair share of volunteering (which I love and would probably be a missionary if I wasn’t a yoga teacher) among other things.
But looking back in that part of my life what I needed was to be shown that all the things I needed were inside of me. That by accepting the Self is actually accepting the Universal Consciousness (however that manifests for you). And the self-hate I had towards myself and the lies, self-mutilation and anger I had was not an action in Universal Consciousness or of God, and although I did a pretty good job of looking the part and doing all the right things and even the work I was doing was supposed to “save me” the only thing that really saved me was when I realized that I had purpose, I was in-fact a part of that Universal Consciousness and that God was actually inside of me rather than some big scary thing in the sky that was going to punish me for wrong doing. My God is my mirror, showing me everything I need to know about myself, life and living, doing work and living honestly to the best of my ability.
My yoga practice (which has very much floated over into how I live) will not be all you expect: my family eats meat, I like an occasional cup of coffee, I am guilty of a late night snack, I own a T.V., you might be amazed at the fact that I don’t’ agree with all environmental actions taken that is currently taken to make the environment a safer place; which I think may actually be causing more toxic harm; and sometimes I even shop at Wal-mart (remember those people that work there chose to work there and need jobs, which this establishment has provided).
No one is perfect and if you are projecting yourself to be, I’m impressed and need to know your secret. But more important is that yoga is teaching me that I should be pure in all that I do, that I should be honest, compassionate and live to be happy, and share happiness with others. That it’s not talking the talk, but walking the walk.
I am thankful that my yoga, the yoga I know and live and teach and walk by is my mirror, both on the mat and off the mat, and when I approach that ready to listen, ready to learn and ready to do the work, I am amazed because I never know what is going to happen. The old me would have either ran or got defensive, but in understanding what the real point of a yoga practice is I thank God for my mirror to be able to see things as they actually are and know that what and how things come into play in my life are an opportunity for me to learn, grow and truly live.
In respect, Namaste.
Happy New Year! With each New Year comes yet another opportunity to regain a sense of self. Regain a sense of purpose and right attitude. I do my best to stay away from the news and adrenal overload fed media messages, but even when avoiding that stuff I am amazed at how much we as people feed into it. Commercials and television shows, new fitness fads and crazy diets. And somehow we as a people believe that this is a means to regain our sense of self, get our lives back so to speak. And what I have observed even more is that for whatever reason I notice people constantly saying in the new year or next week after such and such I will change this or stop doing that. So I wonder to myself what is so special about a day that we put off something we absolutely need or desire to do, to only self-sabotage for a few more days. So along comes the infamous New Year’s day and then for some reason the punishment starts; diets, boot camps and unhealthy “healthy” fasts and workout that are called insanity. Are we insane? Take a look at the few things I listed and notice what they all have in common…..one, they all are crazy and two, none of them offer us a sense of self-esteem, slow continuous change and an understanding as to why we are feeling the need to do these things in the first place.
Each year people ask me what my client retention is at the studio after the first of the year, and usually reply oh good, like anything we of course have a few new people come and a few old people come back and after a few months we have a few of those new people fade away and a few old people do the same. And what I continually remind people is that neither one outcome is good or bad but rather an important thing to remember is that change takes time, and change is hard, and real change takes effort and does not happen overnight. I struggled with an eating disorder for over ten years and I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I tried to stop, to cold turkey turn away from this daunting habit, an addiction-what I know as pure hell.
And maybe some of you are like me and wake up in the morning and say today I’m going to stop doing XYZ, only to find that three hours later you are doing the exact thing you said you were not going to do. And maybe you are also like me in that you get something in your head and instead of finding a healthy balance you go to the extreme and practically kill yourself in the hopes of getting the results you want at literally all costs.
What I am getting at is you can do all the Jillian Boot Camps and go inane on your insanity videos, cut out carbs, gluten, and drink only juice, but none of these things will help you to understand why in the first place you are doing the things you are doing or not doing the things you desire to do.
What you choose to offer yourself in the New Year should allow you to dig deep, be slow and steady and help you change your mind set and attitude. Because what good is a killer body if the person living inside it is rude, negative, insecure or scared.
So for the New Year consider five things:
1. Try adding something to your life that will nourish your soul a bit more.
All that bleeping, shouting, arguing, hitting we accept as normal, is not only imposing violence in us as adults but into our children as well. Choose to step away, and it is as simple as turning off the T.V. and turning on a family conversation.
2. Don’t start a gratitude journal. I love the idea, but to be honest, sharing what you are grateful for with those you love is much more empowering and nurturing for everyone involved. Plus if you have kids it shows them what gratitude really is and for a partner that may not see the light quite yet, may come around sooner than later.
3. Stop with the excuses. My yoga has allowed me to notice the large amount of excuses I was using at one time and now how many the world uses. One thing I have been working on for quite some time is to stop making excuses. Excuses as to why you haven’t been to yoga or why your kids are out of control, why you’re stressed or say you have no time. Realizing my excuses has allowed me to take back responsibility for my life, stop blaming and start living. I don’t get all done I would like but, I know it’s me that can change that, not everyone else.
4. Finally, commit to something. We all have these crazy big plans for the new year, class every day, health harming diets, earlier bed times, no candy for our kids, just to name a few, and the reality is that we just need to commit, and once we commit, realize that we need to start slow in order to find long term results. Few students I have that come three to four times a week started that way initially. Over time they saw value in the classes they were taking and they over time noticed their bodies change as well as their minds and relationships change. And most say it usually just happened without force.
So if you are forcing something in your life I urge you to step back and take a breath because an all or nothing attitude will usually leave you with all stress or nothing left to give.
Re think your plan of action for the new year and consider stepping back before going all in, because is what you are diving into going to help you resolve what the real issue is, and give you the long term happiness? The happiness we all are craving.
Image provided by: Quotes to Live By
It’s that time of year again where the hustle and bustle of shoppers, parties and concerts fill every moment of free time we have. I am familiar with the catch phrase Christmas Creep and in driving home from a Thanksgiving dinner we passed Wal-Mart and looking over my husband and I see the entire parking lot of the local store plum full with no room to spare. I glance at the clock and see the time 8:06pm and am in amazement that there are this many people thinking about shopping, deals, T.V., tablets, and games they probably don’t need and worst yet, feeling the need to get in their cars on a day to my understanding is about family, thanks and coming together, and they want to spend it at Wal-Mart.
As I get older and continue down my path the more I realize what is important to me, I realize what I truly want and need in life to be happy and it is nothing a Wal-Mart Superstore on the evening of Thanksgiving could ever give me. My yoga practice (my life) has brought me a level of consciousness that to me is irreplaceable and sometimes unexplainable to others. From the second I wake up I notice the bombarding of the message, that what we have isn’t good enough, that there is something better out there than what we have, and it is no surprise that this is amplified at a time in the year that is so not about gifts, and instead we are being sent messages of all sort that we need to get up now and go to a store and buy a gift or else. And in noticing this all, I have also realized that we as a people have adapted this mindset to our lives as well.
I find it interesting that no one seems to ever complain about the brainwashing messages our media sends us, but during the holidays the second we see a bumper sticker, hear a radio ad or overhear someone chatting about how we should keep Christ in Christmas we feel offended, irritated and uncomfortable. From my childhood to today I have noticed a decrease in “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Chanukah” ads and an increase in political correct greetings such as “Happy Holidays”. Really people? Kids can’t even have a Christmas party at school anymore in the fear that a parent might feel offended by the word “Christ-mas”. Weather you believe in Christ or not, weather you follow a certain religion or not, I think we all can agree that no matter what, this season is about family, it’s about giving from the heart, it’s about going outside yourself and realizing that there is someone out there that has less than you and guess what, there is someone out there that has more than you, so what. Because what if Christmas really mean Content-mas, Kind-mas, Forgive-mas, Together-mas.
The day I stopped trying to fit in a box, the day I stopped trying to fit the mold exactly, I was able to learn what faith really meant, what religion was possibly originally designed to do, bring people of like values and beliefs together to create a family. How have we gotten so far away from this?
So if you see me in passing please don’t feel offended if I offer you a Merry Christmas, a Peace be with You, a God Bless or a Happy Chanukah, I have learned over the last several years that when we take something so personal, when we get upset over something so out of context, it is because we ourselves don’t understand it, we ourselves are trying to figure out where we stand, and we ourselves might just be missing the point. I’ve been there, I get it and my hope and prayer is that you are able to get it too. When something is offered from the heart it can never turn bad unless you let it.
Happy Christmas, Merry Holidays, Peace be with you and Happy Chanukah to all!
I love fall weather, as long as I dress for the wind, I love fall weather! There is nothing like the smell of leaves, a cool breeze and for me the aroma of cut pines in my backyard. I find myself lately stopping dead in my tracks to take a moment and breathe in the moment, literally, breathe in the moment. And in that moment, life is just so sweet. I often think about the people who are simply too busy or who haven’t cultivated the means to “stop and smell the roses” and what they are missing out on.
Each day I find myself working to be a better version of myself from the day before. And as I continually work to do this I find myself being reminded that a yogi is not someone who necessarily practices asana two hours every day, but rather someone who understands what the asanas are trying to do for them, understands that a yogic mindset and life style will take you farther than a two hour practice. I am partly saddened at the direction yoga in the West is taking, and find it pivotal to educate thirsty yogis for what the asana really feels like and further more how to truly translate that into their everyday life. Now I want you to know that I am not the world’s greatest yogini, I unfortunately do not have a daily asana practice that one would think is necessary to be a yoga teacher, I make mistakes, I can’t please everyone, I tend to have a late night snack and I sometimes get in a funk that is less than impressive. But that all being said, I am living a life more in the moment that I have ever before, I am more aware, more comfortable in my own skin and have cultivated the means in which I am 99% of the time O.K. with my choices because I know that everything is an opportunity to learn.
And this opportunity is such a sacred one, that when we turn away from it we are the only ones who lose out. The person I once was ran with fear every time something got hard, was judgmental about everyone and their uncle because I was fearful and judgmental of myself and the choices I was making, or to be more exact, the choices I was not making. My fear has turned into compassion for those still turning away from opportunities to be better versions of themselves simply because it was not what they expected, because fear steps in and they liked it better being stuck and feeling crappy about who they are or worse yet, critical about the situation at hand, not really realizing how their actions and reactions have a direct affect on everyone around them.
So, fall is a time in which we “change with the seasons”, where we transform from who we were into who we are; and even though we may not exactly love or even really like who we are right now, we need to be that person in order to become the person we are striving to be. A student told me just yesterday that she is learning how to really live her yoga off the mat, she is really beginning to see the difference between what I continually say on the mat about “honoring the pain but learn to sit through the discomfort”. And she went on to say how she is actually O.K. with the discomfort, knowing it will pass. Simply put, discomfort is a way for us to not be comfortable, because when we are comfortable then we aren’t growing. For many of us, we stop thinking we need to pay attention, we stop working our butts off to be the best version of our selves.
Now that being said I’m not saying you need to be a manic workaholic, but rather continually work to be in the moment, discomfort or not, and remember that this moment will soon pass; just like the trees, you look out your window right now and they have leaves, but tomorrow when you wake up they may not, and yet they are still trees, you don’t judge them and you simply let that moment pass. You are that tree who is learning to be O.K. with how and when your leaves fall.
In this instant, as we move forward and accept life in a more loving, authentic, honest way, know that things get easier, and they feels more effortless. And what I have come to better understand is that our mindset’s change, not so much the trauma or drama that comes, but rather our actions and reactions change and things feel simpler. So my intention for all of my students and reader is that you let your leaves fall more simply and enjoy the surroundings in which this occurs. That you learn to step back and smell the roses and head into the discomfort with your head held high, even if you have to grit your teeth because your ego thinks otherwise. Because the only thing constant in life is change itself.
(C) 1984 Saskia Davis, check out her amazing website for more infomation www.symptomsofinnerpeace.net (some of these symptoms are compliments of this website)
- A tendency to think & act spontaneously rather than from fear.
- An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.
- Loss of interest in judging others.
- Loss of interest in judging yourself.
- Loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.
- Loss of interest in conflict.
- Loss of interest in always being the best, and more interested in being.
- Loss of ability to worry (a very serious symptom)
- Frequent, overwhelming episodes of appreciation.
- Feeling connected with others and with nature.
- Frequent attacks of smiling for no apparent reason at all.
- Increased tendency to let things happen, rather than make them happen.
- Increased susceptibility to giving and receiving love.
- Increased tendency to laugh at what life continues to offer you.
- An overwhelming feeling of thankfulness for people in your life that are difficult to feel grateful for.
- An overwhelming feeling of thankfulness for all the things you have been given.
- A deep understanding of living life rather than doing life.
So as many of you know, I tend to write about my own personal experiences and my life. And as I continue to grow and evolve with the rest of the “willing” world, I am continually awed at the notion of what growth is. Many of us like the idea of growth, but what we often leave out is that we like it on our own terms. We prefer it to be how we see fit, how it “makes sense to us”. I say HA! You wish, heck, I wish! It can’t be growth if you are controlling it. A great teacher of mine says that “you can’t engage in anger and frustration and still expect to grow spiritually, you are just kidding yourself. The only thing that grows is your ego to thinking you have grown”. Frustration simply put, is mental confusion. And so, when I get frustrated am I always able to stay cool and calm, not 100%, but what I am really working on is noticing that when I do get frustrated it’s usually not the other person, but me that needs to learn something (well them too but that is for them to see). And so we have a choice. Do I stay as I am or breathe, and see if there is a different way to look at what is in front of me?
There is a big world out there and you will only be holding yourself back if you continually pride yourself on remembering every little thing someone did to you and that you are older and wiser that everyone else. Wisdom is not counted by the number of years on this earth in this lifetime, but rather if you have taken the knowledge you have and applied it to life, you have actually “learned”. Rudi, a great Swami says in many of his books, that a teacher will want to be on your level with you and grow with you, not want to be above you or put you below him or herself, but rather be side by side. And I think of this only because I was just talking about Kids Yoga classes with a instructor friend and I told her the number one thing to remember is “play with the kids” their whole life is people telling them what to do, you can reach them in a much better way if you become a child, and simply maintain a understanding that you are leading the group. For me this is something I often try to implement into my teaching and life. So to all my yogi friends, my hope is that we walk side by side rather than in a single file line. That when growth is stunted we are all a big enough person to look to ourselves first, that at the end of the day real growth has to do with the total annihilation of your limited definition of self. So grow to your potential, because you are the only one holding you back.