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Word of the Day: Frustrated!

4 Oct

A fun and new feature to my blog called, “Word of the Week” is in presently in the works, but as I sat down to finish up the post I started, I lost it.  I threw up my hands, slammed my computer shut and stomped out of the room.

Screw the Word of the Week (which was intended to inspire and provoke warm-fuzzy feelings), I have a word of the day: FRUSTRATED. Over the last week, my back injury has taken a turn from the worse. My pain, which had become very manageable – to the point where I was beginning to run and practice yoga again – came back with a vengeance. Sleeping, sitting, riding in the car, bending over…forget about it, these things have become my worst nightmares. I have spent every night this past week sobbing in bed, chewing pain killers like candy and praying to God to make the pain go away.

I have an extruded disc (the soft, gel-like pads that cushion the vertebrae) at my L4/L5 vertebrae that is pressing down on multiple nerve roots along my spinal column. Sounds gross because it is. I told my boyfriend the other night I wouldn’t wish this pain on my worst enemy, it’s that bad. I have been in so much pain and so irate about it that Asking the Universe to feel better sounded like a cruel joke. Who the hell was that naive, clueless person who wrote that post last week? Not me, that’s for sure!

As a yogi, I have often believed that being pissed off, irate and generally unhappy about something is spiritually immature, like a two-year old having a tantrum. I figured that if I maintained a positive attitude, took perspective and was grateful for all of my blessings, then riding the wave of this injury would be a piece of cake. I mean, would the Buddha piss and moan about a herniated disc when there are millions of others suffering and in need of compassion? Would Jesus sit around and feel sorry for himself, sob and cry all night and lament that His life was over? I mean, I’m a yoga teacher for godssakes, I’ve been through WAY WORSE, why is this so devastating?

The more I’ve sat with this, I’ve realized that the one who needs compassion is me. I fought hard to never feel or act like a victim this summer when I had a debilitating back injury…then got in a car accident that miraculously didn’t kill me or my boyfriend…then watched my father get very sick and spend weeks recovering in the hospital. It was a SHITTY SUMMER. There, I said it. I refused to say it because I didn’t want to acknowledge that I was going through another hard time in my life because (tantrum time) it’s not fair, damn it! But the big breakdowns, the hours of tears over the last several nights have more to do with just the physical pain that I am in. They happened because I am tired of being tough, tired of pretending that everything is okay, and tired of completely minimizing my own suffering.

Once I acknowledged this, once I gave myself the freedom to actually feel like shit, cry in front of my friends and family and even hash this out on my blog, I’ve noticed that my physical pain has lessened. Maybe it’s the Percocet, or maybe it’s the forgiveness I am offering myself. It’s actually okay to feel sorry for yourself. It’s okay to stay in bed, need your mom and take pain medication when you hurt. It’s okay to not have a vigorous yoga practice or be training for a marathon. Once your health is being jeopardized, it’s hard to think of anything else, and what I have realized is that the way I treat my body is related to the way I see myself in this world. Being kind and gentle with one’s body, holding it safely and honoring it for the sacred package that it is, is one of the biggest responaibilities we have on this earth. This injury plus, my terrifying car accident and my father’s illness put a big, fat blinking MORTALITY sign in my face, and I did not like what I saw. But by being with the pain, both emotionally and physically, I am starting to see that the healing process has a light at the end of the tunnel.

I am most likely getting surgery, all of this acceptance of my pain has not changed that fact (shoot!), but I am approaching it differently now. Rather than feeling like a failure for not getting better with alternative treatments, visualization, positive affirmations, massage/acupuncture and the rest of the gamut, I realized that suffering daily with back pain for months on end is what’s spiritually immature. Loving myself, accepting that I am human and that I am hurting and need help are what I need in my life, and listening to what I truly need might be one of the most spiritually evolved practices I can do.

How To Ask the Universe for What You Want

24 Sep

Last night I was talking with my boyfriend about ideas for today’s blog, and when I told him my idea he asked me what the hell I think I am–a yoga teacher or a guru? Now, I’m not a claiming to be a self-help guru, but I am most certainly a yoga teacher and throughout my years of practice I have discovered that yoga goes much deeper than physical poses. Yoga touches us physically, emotionally and spiritually. At the core of yoga it’s about uniting with the Divine, which results in living our most fulfilled, authentic and purposeful lives. So no, I ain’t no guru but I think it’s best to teach what we know, and I know that asking the Universe for what we really, truly want works. It’s not hocus pocus, it’s not magic, it is real and it works, and I’m going to tell you how. Read on, skeptics, read on.

Like many of us, there was a time in my life when I was just chugging along, struggling to even get through the day, oftentimes asking myself,”Will I ever be happy? Is this all there is?” I was bored, directionless and sad. But under that malcontent was a budding seed of awareness that was guiding me to my new life. I was practicing yoga daily, meditating and delving deeply into my spiritual practice. At the beginning of most yoga classes I took, the teacher had us sit down, get quiet and set our intention for our practice. Because I was so unhappy, the only thing that ever came to mind was “I want to be happy so bad“. When you set that seed of intention over and over again, even if it’s somewhat vague, the Universe listens. “Okay, so you want to be happy?”, the Universe asks. “Are you ready to make some serious changes? Ask and you will receive.” Fast forward a year and a half, and I can honestly say that I am happier than I have ever been. No, it didn’t happen overnight and it wasn’t smooth sailing to get here, but I never gave up hope that I would and could be happy again, and slowly but surely I realized that that something bigger, something more powerful than myself was supporting me in my intention for happiness.

Maybe there is something very specific you have in mind that you want to ask for. It could be something as major as healing from a major illness, or something less serious, like better abs. The Universe listens when your intentions are clear, earnest and humble. I’m not sure the Universe will conspire to get you a Ferrari, but if somehow that Ferrari will serve the greater good then ya never know.

So how do you ask the Universe for what you want? First of all, you need to believe that you deserve what you want. Sounds simple, but when you take a deep, hard look at yourself you may find that you don’t believe you are worthy or deserving of what you desire. Many of us think it is selfish to want, that it is somehow narcissistic to crave happiness and fulfillment or even having our basic needs met. But I say that is B.S. What’s selfish is being miserable. Your misery and feelings of worthlessness leak into your work, relationships and the rest of your life, making other people around feel like crap.

Here are some steps in asking the Universe for what you want:

1. Get quiet. Find a place in your home or in nature where you will be undisturbed for at least 20 minutes, sit comfortably and close your eyes. Envision yourself happy, joyful and filled with purpose. What are you doing? Who is around you? Spenda good five minutes envisioning this scenario.

2. Write down in a journal what you saw, what you were doing and who you were with. Maybe you saw yourself writing that novel you’ve been dreaming about but telling yourself you’ll never have the time/resources/talent to do. Maybe you saw yourself blissfully in love with an “imaginary” partner. Write it down, describe that person. Describe their looks, their personality, their voice, etc. Be very specific, the Universe likes specificity. Remember though, even if what you want is vague the Universe can definitely work with that, it just might take a little more time.

3. Sit or kneel with your hands in the universal gesture of asking, with palms upturned. Your hands can be on your lap or even up in the air. I like this gesture, it symbolizes humility and reverence. When asking the Universe remember this is not a demand, it is a request. The more humble, the better. So go ahead, ask. Say it out loud. Don’t be shy, the more you speak it, the more real it becomes.

4. Once you are done asking it is time to listen. So again, get quiet and still and just listen. You may feel completely ridiculous and you may not hear a thing, but listen all the same. Chances are the booming voice of God isn’t going to come through your stereo speakers (I think that would scare the shit out of me anyway). It will probably be much more subtle, like a flash of insight, a feeling of deep knowing, or profound inspiration. Or you might not feel a damn thing but hey, you tried. And keep trying, perservere and you might be very surprised.

5. Repeat as necessary.

This is a starting place, and just like any new skill it gets easier with practice. Before you know it you’ll be asking the Universe for things left and right, and that’s when beautiful things begin to happen. By this I mean you begin to let go of control and trust that the Universe has your best interest in mind. Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best: “When you make a decision, the Universe conspires to make it happen.” You are a co-creator with the Universe, and it is up to you to make the decision of what is is you want, and the Universe is gonna do whatever it can to help you out. Believe you deserve it (you do), be clear in your intentions, and then trust and let go. And when you do, what you thought was impossible becomes possible and real miracles occur.