Another trip around the sun does this to me each year; I have a longing to reflect and think about where I have been and where I want to go. With so much emotionally happening in the world around us it is clear that life truly is a gift. It is something that Doug Melroe has been shouting into a microphone as I dance around the studio at The Firm (my first experiences was at 22; I am due to dance around soon)! Fourteen plus years later those words are louder than ever in my head and heart. (note: I worked at the Firm from 2003 until recently and this message is loud and clear in my bones, and a big reason is because of those Saturday morning classes and the passion that Doug fills that space with).
Ironically, I just completed a yoga training with Rod Stryker (in March) on the lotus of the heart and we left with three very important contemplations that have continued to resonate in my heart and soul:
Life is a Gift
Life is Beautiful
I am part of the Divine
And no matter where you stand on the above words/contemplation, my take-away guided by Yogarupa: my life is better when I think this way. Why wouldn't I want to accept in all of me those words if it makes everything better? When I live my life living by these three phrases, my thoughts, speech and actions embrace the now and are significantly less about my accomplishments or my next anything. We live in a world of constant distractions of a million topics and items. Just the smart phone alone interrupts our life and mind in a way that 20 years ago we couldn't even imagine. In fact, I recall being on a train during my study-abroad trip in Australia in 2001 and I saw a teenager on her cell phone (and many more). It felt so odd for her to be talking on a phone on a train while life was happening. I remember thinking: "what is so important that she has to talk on the phone on the train now?"
Fast forward to 2017 and the smart phone is so important that even teachers, in most schools, have zero control over whether a student is on his/her phone. How is that even possible? How can we expect the future of America to learn when their brain is interrupted so many times? I have seen this first-hand as I have had the opportunity to teach yoga at a local high school. Of course this got me fired up and I started having conversations with fellow school teachers. I quickly learned this particular school is NOT an anomaly, rather phones and students is the norm and a big problem.
My point in this all: if ever there was ever a time when it is vital that we find a way to remove ourselves from these many distractions and find our inner peace, now would be that time. For many of us what is happening in the world has disturbed us on a level that is incomprehensible. One that recently hits home to me is the loss of an amazing man and former trainer at the Firm. Since the tragic shooting in Miami that killed Mario Hortis (click here for obituary). It makes me sick that stories like this are in and out of the news so fast it is barely noticed. How can this be? I still remember exactly where I was when the Colombine High School shootings happened in 1999. It was a BIG deal and it should be. How are things like public shootings of ANY KIND acceptable??? When did this happen? Everytown for Gun Safety is something that I follow and support (here is more about Everytown and some data on school shootings).
And to not go off too much on any sort of a rant I will say that of course most of us know that this is not right but I still question how is this the norm? Obviously getting to the bottom of gun violence or any other political issues is not the intention or place of my writing. However, it is impossible not to feel the heartache and wonder, "what can I do?" I know that is what I ask myself. Again, since we are not talking actions that impact anything politically, what I will talk about today is ourselves. We are in charge of taking care of ourselves first! Getting to the bottom of any political issue is for another day and venue. However, what I can offer and what I do know is that peace and love live in our hearts always. Thus, there is no better time than right now to find moments in our lives to access that peace in our heart. From what I have experienced, it is that place in our hearts that is unchanging and that isn't seeking happiness but able to find peace and love right now. It sheds light on yourself as a 'seeer" and gives you a sense of perspective, faith that definitely won't come from watching too much news or grabbing your smart phone yet another time (myself included). Recently my teacher Rod Stryker wrote this on Facebook, "My teachers taught me that yoga was about peace; yoga was about transformation; yoga was about transforming oneself and one’s world..." I know that I can show up on my path and my yoga to transform me and the way I see the world and change starts within.
For me transforming me and the way I see the world is a huge part of what yoga has taught me. I was recently reminded of this when I read my notes from that weekend. After the last meditation on the heart I opened my eyes and started writing (as I typically like to reflect at these workshops). What happened was a beautiful poem that illustrated the power of what lies within: a true self-love and peace that isn't something you can buy in a store or on the phone, rather it is already there.
As you know, I have battled a bit of self-love that has shown up in an eating disorder on and off in my life since I was in middle school. Most recently I am struggling with trying to heal my hormones, and in particular manage my gut health, psoriasis, and weight in unwanted places. Is it that big of a deal? Not always, but sometimes I feel like I am trying so hard to heal and feel better, fit into clothes, not yell at my kiddos, etc, and it isn't enough. I feel like I am for sure failing and I want to say, "f@$# it!" and give up. But that is NOT an option. Each time I am in that place, those closest to me remind me to keep going or my practice or even the memory of my practice remains in me. And I know, the answer is..NO WAY; I cannot give up.
So in closing I want to share with you this deep place of self-love that simply showed up to me after a meditation in practice. I share this with you, at this significant time around my birthday, to honor these words that are so true. I share this with you because thinking of what I want in the next year to come is to LIVE these words. To actually feel this self love that is at my core always. I don't want to feel like I have to try so hard but to simply stand tall in my being. No matter where I am on my journey or if things are going exactly as I would like them (or not), I WILL STAND TALL! Because again, life is a gift, life is beautiful and I am part of the divine.
Poem: Self-Love, the true self love that is already there
Ah...my imperfections are to be loved as much as my ability to love is...
To Love it ALL brings peace
To Love it all brings immediate forgiveness to being human
To love it all brings a sense of "I am doing my best."
To love it all means loving me now...
...not the self-love that I've been trying to achieve/feel, but the self love, the love of the divine, that is already there.
~Kristin Gourde, 3.19.2017
After that day of meditation, something was different in me. My meditation reflection in addition to this poem writes, "meditation felt like me...like less of trying to feel something and more of a being." I also remember a sort of pulsing of my heart. It is something I have never experienced, but I know tapping into my heart is where I want to keep going to remember how that felt.
And after that day, even on the bad days, my heart feels lighter with this sense of knowing. And my confidence, faith, and knowing is growing. My ability to adapt is too. I am grateful for that day and grateful for the opportunity to share.
Your action? Love YOU! Honor YOU, even if you don't feel it or believe it, that sense of knowing that your self-love and simply 'being you' always lives within. You are loved.
Thank you for reading. Thank you to all of my teachers. And thank you for showing up for you in this crazy and beautiful life!
Namaste, Gratitude, and Love beautiful people,