My Favorite Self Care Ritual

I can’t remember exactly when I was introduced to Abhyanga, the Ayurvedic practice of massaging your own body with warm oil, but it quickly became part of my daily self care routine. As a person who seems perpetually Vata imbalanced, this simple act of self love calms my mind, soothes my body, and gives me a ‘time out’. This is definitely an Ayurvedic practice I recommend to EVERYONE!

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Trust Your Treads

Tonight I walked out to the barn to turn down the heat since an event I was supposed to hold the next day wasn’t going to happen. As I walked, I realized I was walking down our driveway with ease and without fear – without a flashlight in the dark pretty darn near the new moon – knowing it was covered in snow and ice in spots. Once I realized what I was doing, my truck-driving-farmer-fiancé’s voice came to me: “Trust Your Treads”.

Those simple words hold so much meaning, don’t they?

The first time he spoke them, he was driving quite fast through a snowstorm. I was nervous. And that’s what he said because he had years of experience “trusting his treads”.

I made it to the barn safe and sound because I didn’t really think about it. I was enjoying the crisp air, the clear starry sky, and the crunching of snow under my feet as the dog pranced along happily beside me. I was present, in the moment.

On the way back… a whole other story: I thought about it. I got nervous. The ‘what if’s’ got to me and I tensed up, losing my footing a couple of times.

It always amazes me how the mind can play tricks! So like my wise man says, you just gotta “TRUST YOUR TREADS”!

Let All of Your Actions Be in Praise to the Divine

With every breath you take, remember that you are here out of grace. Your human birth is a true and rare gift. The fact that you opened your eyes for another day on this crazy and awe-inspiring Earth: a miracle!

When you cook a meal, make love, go to work, become upset, talk with someone else… remember that you are manifesting lila, divine play. We create because we are made in God’s image. The divine needs us for his play. Therefore, there is no reason to become attached to any thought, experience or action because it is not you performing these things. It is God manifesting through you.

As an artist, you may have encountered a situation where you had a vision, a dream or some kind of tap on the shoulder about a piece of artwork you should create. You ignore it. Then months later, you see that exact same thing “you” thought of – only someone else did it! This is the divine making his will happen – with or without your cooperation!

All the gods and goddesses, the angels and the devas long to have the human experience. Can you challenge yourself to live for them and let them live through you? May you let your divine light shine! Namaste!

Breathwork as a Pathway to Samadhi

After conducting my last breathwork class, I realized that the #1 reason why I love breathwork is because it can give the practitioner a taste of samadhi in a very short time. Samadhi is, generally, a state that only seasoned meditators experience after many years of practice and a whole lot of grace. In Hinduism, this is the ultimate goal of yoga – the final stage of meditation – at which union with the divine is reached. For many of us, this state will only occur at death.

According to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, there are two main types of samadhi: “with seed” and “without seed”.

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What is Breathwork Therapy?

Pranayama (control of prana or life force energy via the breath), is one of the 8 Limbs of Yoga, and as such has very ancient healing roots. However, the more modern version of therapeutic breathwork was born in the 1960s out of LSD research. When the government banned LSD, Stanislov Grof turned his attention to something that couldn’t be outlawed: breathing. Grof went on to trademark “Holotropic Breathwork“, a non-drug alternative to reaching altered states of consciousness.

Today, there are numerous styles of therapeutic breathwork. At the core, all breathwork therapy has benefits similar to other “psychedelic therapies” (such as Ayahuasca, magic mushrooms, and LSD) in that, as oxygen builds up in the blood, the breather experiences a mild sort of trip with the aim of promoting transcendental, ecstatic, religious or mystical peak experiences. Types of experiences usually fall into one or more of several categories:  sensory, biographic, perinatal, and yogic sleep states.

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How Changing My Diet Changed My Life

This is the fourth article in the series, “The 12 Healing Tools“. These articles outline the things that I have found most useful in my journey to overcome childhood trauma and abuse, drug addiction, and debilitating depression.

At the end of 2003, I hit rock bottom – again. Looking back, I think it would be appropriate to say that I had a nervous breakdown. The stresses of a bad relationship, living a life not authentic to who I was, working long hours at a high stress job, my past drug abuse, and undiagnosed PTSD all took their toll. But, as many of you know, once you hit bottom, the only way out is UP. So once again, I pulled myself together to find a way out.

I had been practicing yoga and going to Buddhist meditation classes for about a year after this breakdown when I decided to go on an elimination diet. My gut was totally messed up and I was hearing a buzz about how going gluten free could fix that. So for two weeks, I ate all veggies and rice. When I introduced bread again, I thought I was going to die. The stomach pains and racing heart were unreal! I had my answer and stayed entirely gluten-free after that.

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Low Back Pain and the Psoas

I’ve noticed since I moved back to Pennsylvania that I’m experiencing a TON of pain in my hips and low back. I’ve been sitting more and walking less because it rained pretty much all summer (and now it’s freezing). And as my teaching gigs have decreased, I haven’t been doing as much yoga either. I’m sure there are also some trauma and emotional issues involved, but I’ll save that for another post.

Anyway… Since I generally turn to my yoga practices for healing, I started experimenting with more psoas stretches to see if they might alleviate some of the pain in my hips and low back. (The psoas attaches to the torso to the legs starting in the lumbar spine, through the hips and inner thighs which led me to believe I might be experiencing tension in my psoas.) I was also surprised to learn that a tensed psoas influences the operation of the vagus nerve, which means when your psoas stays tensed, you stay in the fight or flight system! Well I’m happy to report, that in a short amount of time, these practices really seem to be helping. I usually do them first thing in the morning; however, if I’ve been sitting a lot and I notice that painful sensation coming back, I’ll take a few minutes to stretch again – up to three times a day. So here are the asanas that have been working best for me. I make sure to practice full yogic breathing as I hold the postures for about 1 minute on each side.

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How Art Can Save Your Soul

“You must not fear, hold back, count or be a miser with your thoughts and feelings. It is also true that creation comes from an overflow, so you have to learn to intake, to imbibe, to nourish yourself and not be afraid of fullness. The fullness is like a tidal wave which then carries you, sweeps you into experience and into writing. Permit yourself to flow and overflow, allow for the rise in temperature, all the expansions and intensifications. Something is always born of excess: great art was born of great terrors, great loneliness, great inhibitions, instabilities, and it always balances them.” — Anais Nin

From a very young age, I turned to art as a way to process and sometimes escape the world around me. Art provided a space for me to create the kind of life I dreamed of: horses and unicorns, happy families, and all things cute and pretty. There were no arguments, no angry faces, no fear in the world I drew on my paper. Coloring absorbed my mind and passed the time.

As I moved into my teenage years, art gave me a way to express all of the emotions I was overflowing with and overwhelmed by on a daily basis. I continued to color even then because I found it so relaxing.

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