Letting go of Fear

Love is what we are born with, fear is what we learn.

How do you grow strong at your broken places? We are all broken and wounded in this world. Some of us choose to remain broken. What keeps us in the darkness? Most often it is fear. Fear can stop us from living our best life, from going after our dreams, speaking our truth, doing the things we long to do. Fear can be paralyzing and controlling. It keeps us small.

When you look underneath painful emotions like anger, shame, and depression, you will often find unresolved fear. To release these fears and other self-defeating patterns, which keep us small and isolated, we can practice mindfulness.

There are a number of books written on the practice mindfulness, and many ways to incorporate it into daily life.

As a yoga teacher, this is precisely what I try to share with my students. Coming to your mat isn’t just about the physical asana practice; it is also about learning to quiet the monkey mind. I teach The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali to my students in an effort that they might carry a little bit of their practice off their mat and develop a practice of mindfulness. I feel it is important to use all the yogic tools we have access to, in addition to meditation, to alleviate discomfort (fear) and bring us closer to a sense of steadiness where we might shine the light of awareness on the fluctuations of the mind.

Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras describe kleshas as impediments to spiritual growth. There are five (5) kleshas, or negative mental states that cause suffering. Yoga Sutra 2.9 specifically classifies abhinivesha as fear of death. As one of the kleshas, abhinivesha works to block enlightenment and liberation. Many yogis also interpret it as general fear and anxiety that causes suffering. This fear can prevent one from living their best life. Yogic practices, such as meditation and pranayama breathing exercises, provide methods to overcome abhinivesha.

Personally, I believe that the clinging quality of abhinivesha holds priceless insights into what really matters to you. As you let go of the things you hold dear, you gradually affirm that each one is not, after all, as important as you once thought; and as you progressively let go, your life’s goal and ultimate purpose becomes more and more clear. Just like coming to one’s yoga mat, it is a practice that one must come to over and over.

To escape fear, you have to go through it, not around. ~Richie Norton


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Loving the Earth

Mary Oliver’s poem “Wild Geese” has long been a favorite of mine, and seems most appropriate for Earth Day. Let us come together in an effort to be better stewards of our Mother Earth while allowing the world to offer itself to our imagination every day.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.

Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,

are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,

the world offers itself to your imagination,

calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting ~

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.


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Kia Kaha Christchurch

For my son and his wife who lived in the beautiful land of Aotearoa, for all my friends there, and for those that lost a loved one, my heart is heavy and I am sorry for such madness.

My heart has an ache today, not unlike all the other days that came before it whenever I was made aware of some senseless act of violence. It is hard to fathom the depth of hate and cowardice that it takes to shoot people in prayer, just like it is hard for me to fathom any act of senseless violence. We humans are so fragile, and yet we treat one another with such disregard. Anger is everywhere, from the person that flipped me off last week while driving, to the man who is supposed to be the President of our country, a nation founded on FREEDOM and DEMOCRACY.  He calls out hate and further instills this madness of white supremacy, as do many others similar to him. My heart is broken. Where are we going my friends?  Hopefully we can move ourselves into a place where  we live the personal reality of peace, from which point we can become peacemakers. Our individual energy will then be able to align with the realities of other peacemakers, generating a wave of goodness throughout the world. This is how the phenomenon of faith within our awareness joins with others and becomes a great agency of transformation that creates a new, peaceful reality.  We can continue to shift this energy and create a new peaceful reality, remembering that there is no separation among us and that we all belong to each other.

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other. ~ Mother Theresa


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Kindness Warms the Soul

A kind word is like a fire in winter, it warms the soul.

So often we travel through life existing on the surface of everything, rushing here and there, always busy. It appears the aid of technology, which has been heralded as an advantage to save us time, has made this situation even worse. We are harried, worried, and stressed humans living in this 21st Century. What if we pause for just one moment in our day, and remember to say something nice to someone? Ask the checker at the grocery store how their day is going, and be prepared to listen to their response. Compliment a total stranger. Say hello, hold a door open; the options are endless when it comes to kindness.  When we practice kindness and generosity, it also helps us to become more resilient. When we cultivate generosity, it allows us to see things more easily, to accept change, and to accept the truth of the present moment.  Look what one woman was able to do when she opened her heart; she was able to warm many souls.


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Standing Tree Yoga ©

Life is easier on those days when everything seems to run smoothly, from that perfect cup of tea or coffee in the morning to the hum of everything falling into place with ease as the day evolves. Yes, on those days it is easier to smile, keep a positive outlook and to fully bask in the light. We see only the good in most everything. What happens on the other days? What happens when we have to go without, without the comforts of our home, or any home for that matter? When we have less money to purchase food, when someone we love leaves this earthly realm. Where do we go when things get dark? Are we able to sit comfortably in the darkness allowing it to wash over us? Or, do we resist kicking and screaming? It is important to have some things in place to assist one when darkness settles in, be it a physical outlet, meditation, friendships, faith and so on. Any one of these actions can help settle the mind and the soul, guiding us forward into the light once again. For some, it is almost impossible to get there without the aid of medication, and that can also be the way.  What is important is that we each figure out how to arrive back into the light and be able to adjust to the darkness when it materializes. Where do you stand in moments of challenge and controversy? I am attempting to be a healthier human being each time that I encounter challenges, sometimes I fail, and sometimes I do a better job of not being completely overwhelmed. Find your balance and you will find greater contentment wherever you might be standing. In yoga, we learn some powerful grounding postures in our practice; perhaps you might enlist one of those to help ground you back to your center. Standing Tree, the name of my yoga business, is one of my favorite postures! I have used it many times to calm my body and mind. I invite you to try it today and find some balance.


The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.  ~Martin Luther King, Jr.

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