"The heart surrenders everything to the moment.  The mind judges and holds back." - Ram Dass

When I teach I encourage a search for stillness, even for a brief moment, a breath or two.  We are always thinking about something...thoughts enter one after another, causing us to  create stories about different situations in our lives.

In yoga, we judge ourselves in the physical practice.  In life we make decisions based on the approval or disapproval of others.  When we make choices in this way we risk hurting ourselves and others, sometimes both in the same scenario.  

I have been studying for three years now.  Studying myself deeply, learning my truth, learning my mind, learning my heart but most importantly being challenged to live in the present moment from a place of love and compassion.  This is where the mind fucks with me most.  

My meditation teacher, Harshada, says "the mind is the cockblock to the heart."  My guru, Sri Dharma Mittra says "the second greatest cause of pain and suffering is the ego."  In plain terms, we allow the mind to mess us up.  No matter how much studying I do, learning to control the mind is a challenge I will face in this life always.  

Every moment of our life is a decision.  I recently made a decision....a decision in which I allowed, as in the Ram Dass quote above, the mind to judge and hold back.  In allowing myself to divert from the path of my heart and take that of the mind, I hurt someone I care deeply about, more deeply than I ever could have imagined.  

Choices are not good or bad.  They are not right or wrong. They are simply choices.  When they don't work we can make another.  The choice I made didn't work.  And it hurts me deeply as well.  But it has propelled me back to the path of my heart and for that I am thankful.  Everyday I become more and more aware of my choice to live from a place a love and compassion.  
Hibernation is my method of choice when life becomes difficult.  I pretend to go to sleep, taking a break from life.  In late March, I reached my breaking point.  I went into hibernation for almost a week, skipping out on work and ignoring people.   Then I took off to the beautiful west coast of Puerto Rico.  I returned a different person.

Life can be exhausting,  in every way.  I didn't realize just how exhausting until I arrived in Boquerón and spent much of my first 24 hours sleeping.  When I wasn't sleeping I was exploring, soul searching. 

A few years ago, I began my regular meditation practice with a lot of guidance.  Two of the first things I learned about were love and gratitude.  I realized quickly I knew little about either.  Love and gratitude go hand in hand and I had very little love for myself at that time. 

I began to find bits and pieces of love with my meditation practice.  And each morning I took time to have gratitude, not only for the biggest gifts in my life, but for the little things too.  Life is full of love and blessings, and we are so busy trying to be something or someone that we aren't that we overlook them. 

On my last morning in Boquerón, I took a long walk on the beach.  Before returning to the hotel to prepare for the day, I sat on an old wooden picnic table with my feet on the bench.  As I gazed out at the sea I was overcome with emotion.  For several moments the only things in existence were the ocean and me.  My heart was overflowing with love. 

In telling a friend about this experience, she informed me, "there is a saying from the Talmud that goes 'change your place and change your luck'.  It's about changing your physical space to change your spiritual space..."Mishaneh makom, Mishaneh mazal."

"If something is real now, it will always be real.  If it's not real now, it will never be real, no matter how hard you try to make it that way."  - Krishna Das
I attended a workshop with Krishna Das at the Dharma Yoga Center at which time I heard the above statement.  Since that day, situations in my life have played over and over in my mind.  I always caution people not to think so much and here I am not practicing what I preach.  We can replay the past and anticipate the future so much but that interferes with our ability to be present.  

However, I am not reliving the past with feelings of regret or desire for a different outcome.  Rather I am reliving these certain situations in an attempt to learn from them.  At what point did I recognize that they were indeed NOT REAL.  Did I know all along?  Did I pretend that they were for a while.   

Somewhere along the way I realized it doesn't really matter.  What matters now is that I am following my heart and doing what is dharmic to me.  I know differently now than I did then.  And when this happens again I will know differently than I do now.  Always evol
...the Urban Detox Club, that is.  There are a few things in life that I really love.  Among the top are eating, yoga, and island vacations (it is a known fact that I will someday visit Tortola and never return - you heard it here first, unless you know me in which case I have definitely shared this information with you). 
I practice yoga whenever I can.  There is no dollar amount I won't spend on yoga.  I do yoga in the city, yoga in Westchester, yoga in Florida, and yoga in Tortola, of course. 
One thing I don't do in Tortola is eat.  I am one of the few people that goes on vacation and loses weight (or at least doesn't gain).  I spend a whole week consuming fruit, vegetables, and rice and peas.  Being vegan there is not easy. 
Since most people take it upon themselves to eat and gain weight on vacation, I make sure to accomplish that when I return home.  I binge eat to make up for everything I missed while I was gone and last year I gained some of the weight back that I had lost.  And then I struggled to lose it again.
And then came the Urban Detox Club.  I met Rebecca through the yoga studio.  And after getting to know her I learned about a business she co-owns, The Urban Detox Club.  After completing my program at IIN I reached out to her to talk about opportunities to work together. 
The Urban Detox Club offers two programs - Revolution (12-day detox) and Burn (30-day fat burn). 
I wanted to find a program I could really stand behind so I decided to try out the 12-day detox program.  In 12 days I lost 8 pounds!  And I was actually chewing (juice cleanses are not good for those who like to eat).  
Due to my success on the 12-day program Rebecca suggested I try out the 30-day fat burn program.  Since I can't travel to Tortola to lose weight right now I thought I would give this a go.  So far, so good.  Today is day 5 of the program for me and I have already lost 4 pounds.  I feel amazing.  And I know you will too if you try this out.  Follow me here for more information as I continue on t
I have imagined many things for my life, but my current situation was never one of them.  Sleepless nights for weeks at a time and crippling anxiety that is eased by thoughts of running and never looking back.  I am lost in my fears and my desires, creating a worst case scenario in my mind.  It becomes the root of my suffering.

I have perceptions of what things look like and what things will be.  At the darkest times I believe everything I tell myself.  I am unable to let my soul be my guiding light.

Learning to be present allows my fears and desires, my inaccurate perceptions to fall away.  The goal of practice is liberation.  I can free myself from mental formations and emotional experiences by being therefor myself.  At the deepest place inside of me I am perfect.  My soul is there  reminding me I am here I am now I am home. 
Every time we suffer, the object of our suffering becomes our obsession.  It seems to be all we can focus on.  Lately I have been suffering, obsessing over decisions I have made and the fear those decisions instill in me.  I haven't had a good nights sleep in months.  I wake up in panic.  I have the tools, but in the darkest moments, I can't remember how to use them.    
Luckily, I am surrounded by people in my daily life who I can call on for support, who have their own darkness but also have the tools.  They are people I have chosen to walk side by side with in this lifetime.  And although they are willing to sit with me in the darkness, that usually doesn't happen.  Instead, they help me see the light.
Relief comes when I release the suffering and shift my focus to what is right in my life.  Because when life feels daunting and a mess it's difficult to stay awake and aware. 
I have the tools to let gratitude step in and I am learning to make that the object of my devotion.  Because when I think there needs to be something else in my life that is when I am wrong.  I have blessings and abundance in many ways.  That relieves me of my anxiety.  And I can, if even temporarily, find peace in the present moment.

"Very difficult things have happened, and very difficult things may yet happen, but when we encounter them from a state of openness, we realize, bit by bit, that we have a capacity that we never knew was there.  We come to know there is a great reservoir of well-being even in the midst of incredible grief and loss."  - Adyashanti

I am good at playing the victim.  I let emotions and suffering of past and present experiences take over.  I build walls around my heart.  I cower.  I do NOT stand in my power.  I try hard to let these experiences define me.

Another thing I am good at....having a couple of drinks to numb the outside.  But while the outside is numbed, the wounds inside me swell greatly.   When that happens, everything spirals out of control, slowly at first and then more rapidly until I panic and anticipate situations that have yet to even occur. 

I am going to end the suffering, especially from past situations, releasing the mental position that has locked the painful emotions in my system.  I am going to try each time experiences of suffering arise to tap into the part of me where everything is okay, even in the midst of the situation. 

I am going to experience the vastness of what I am. 
Better to perform one's own duty poorly, than to perform another person's duty well.  Better is death in one's own duty; the duty of another invites great fear. 3:35 (Bhagavad Gita)

"If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you.  If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you." - Jesus in the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas

For years I walked a path that was not my own, but the one that others thought was best for me.  And until I started on this spiritual journey, I didn't realize how unhappy I was.  At the time I would not have classified myself as unhappy.  Unconsciously, I moved through life, going with the flow and pretending. 

At a workshop with my teacher, Big Heart Meditation, I came to the realization that I couldn't remember a time in my life when I was free.  I couldn't look back on my life and find a time when I felt freedom, happiness, and joy in the way I was living.  And with the lack of freedom, happiness, and joy, came a heaviness in my heart.  It was a heaviness that was always present but became more pronounced when I realized what I have been lacking in my life.  No matter how deeply I meditated or for how long, I couldn't release the pain inside my chest.

Days later, I saw my teacher.  His last words to me as I left his office were "don't fear your truth".  It was as if I needed someone else to say it's okay to feel a certain way.  Leaving there knowing there was no judgment but much support was all I needed.  Weeks later, and still pain free, I am following my heart.  And for the first time in a long time feeling happy, joyful and free. 

Look into your heart.  Follow your nature. - Buddha
It's probably safe to say we have all been told "shame on you" or "I'm ashamed of you" in our lives.  But as adults how often do we hear it?  We may do shameful things but how often do we reflect on those actions and take responsibility for them. 
While I was asleep in my life, I made mistakes...mistakes that I hate myself for.  Everyday I am reminded of those mistakes when I wake up, when I interact with people in my life, when I lay down at night.  Although those mistakes will haunt people close to me for the rest of their lives, the mistakes haunt me equally as much, which brings me to shame. 
Although I thought I was moving forward, I have actually been stuck.  I have been stuck as the entitled princess bitch, the obnoxious teenager, and many other characters that I have created to avoid my shame.  But yesterday, my teacher told me, "Shame is not going to kill you if you face it - however much it hurts.  But it will rob you of your life if you don't face it". 
I want to own my life, every step of the way, no matter how shameful the choices.  So with that I face my shame.  I am hurting but I own the pain.  This leg of the journey will be a long one but a necessary
My teacher told me today "it's called having your heart open.  We throw that phrase around so much in yoga - but when it really happens, it's quite profound."  

After a tumultuous several years and much self study I am more awake than I have ever been.  Karma has brought into my life an amazing group of friends on a path similar to my own.  They have pushed me to stay awake in life, even when things get difficult.

Life is about taking chances.  But the choices we make can be the wrong ones for us.  As long as we heed the warning and learn a lesson we can do the work to turn things around.  The work can be grueling at times.  And it is easy to lose touch with our most tender parts by getting lost in the chaos of life. 

It is a humbling experience to be raw and exposed.   When the universe gives you a second chance, take note, be thankful and breathe into it one step deeper than before.  Go there.  I did.