“That’s how it is: when you are vulnerable, you feel stronger, not weaker. And if you are stronger, you will feel vulnerable, for vulnerability is an opening, and a strong person is open to all: open to death, open to all kinds of winds, open to light and darkness, to the friend and to the foe.

A strong man is open, vulnerable, and a vulnerable man is strong. If vulnerability brings the idea of weakness, then it is not vulnerability. They look alike but they are not the same, for a weak person cannot be vulnerable- they cannot afford it.

{This is why it is a great luxury to be vulnerable.}

As your strength grows, so will your vulnerability; as your vulnerability grows so will your strength.

At the highest peak of strength one is like a child…delicate, like a rose that opens. Like the water, that is fluid.

You are not afraid because you are feeling delicate and vulnerable, you are afraid because you are feeling strong — when you feel strong, fear arises because you feel power, and you know not what you will do with such power. Because to live in power, is to live with risk, and this incites fear.

…Often, because they are afraid, people decide to live at the minimum so there is no risk, and therefore no power.

But your fear is not of vulnerability; your fear is of the strength, the power, that you feel arising.

The snake is uncoiling and you do not know what to do with such power.”

-Osho, Believing the Impossible Before Breakfast

…Do not fear it. This is your vast expansion.

There is great strength, and great power, in vulnerability. And when you step into that space, you are no longer vulnerable as you once were. This balance is the tricky paradox. This balance is what I am working on.

xo
-el

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Courage

To be courageous is not to have an absence of fear. Rather, to have courage is to have mastery over the fears that reside deep within us.

It is the willingness to tear the bandage off, dissect our subconscious mind, heal old wounds, and understand our inner most processes as intimately as possible.

It is to venture into the wilderness of uncharted territory and forge ahead anyway. To step into vulnerability, and plunge into the murky depths of our hearts.

To have courage is to move in the direction of love even, and especially, when we have no other guidance besides the divine truth residing within.

Courage is the light that is shined into the darkest corners of our deepest selves, illuminating the strength and beauty within.

It is the soft and steady voice of the soul that whispers “Come now. This is the way.”

 

El1

Move the way love moves you

Last month, while visiting family in Minnesota, I taught a yoga class to some of my favorite yoginis. After class, I received this text from one of my beloveds…
“I want what you have. When you were in Warrior One today, you radiated. All of you screamed “Yes, world! This is who I am! And if you don’t like it, fuck off.” How do I get that? There was no doubt. No shame. No fear. No pain.”
…While I was touched by this message, I was also rendered speechless and did not know how to reply. Because I do have doubt. I do have shame. I do have fear. And I do have pain.


I have a lifetime full of it. We all do.


But we can radiate, anyway. By giving a fuck about our higher selves more than we give a fuck about the mistakes we have made, the things that have happened to us, and the pain we have experienced. We can radiate anyway, by allowing these hard feelings to transform us, as we transmute them and transcend. We radiate by moving in the direction love moves us, choosing instead to experience loving-kindess, compassionate understanding, forgiveness, courage and joy.


We radiate by choosing love. Love of self, and love of others.


#chooselove #giveafuck #getweird #godeep #yogawithel

lovelovelove

While shopping for the studio this morning, I was approached by a homeless man and his wife. And with the heaviest most light-filled eyes I have ever made contact with, he began to explain their hard luck and asked for anything that I could spare to help his family.

Knowing that I did not have cash on me, I invited them over to my car to see what we could find. Upon first searching my vehicle, I found nothing but a bit of change, until I looked in the back seat and saw my daughter’s purse. I opened it up to find six dollars and a handful of my healing crystals, and without a thought, I gave it all to the couple and sent them off with love and light.


As I turned to leave, they both grabbed my hands and began to cry.


…Later this afternoon, when I got Rae from school, I told her that I owed her six dollars and new crystals and explained why. And as she listened to the story of today’s exchange, her eyes both softened and lit up with empathic depth, and she too thanked me for sharing her money with this family.


…It has been said by the Mystics that everything is Love, or a call for Love, and I believe this to be true.

So, Go! Love. And be Loved.

Loving you forever,
xoxo

The Magic of the Dakini

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Tonight, I learned of being a Dakini:

“It is said that women make superior healers because they are able to dive into meditation much more easily than males, as males are afraid of dropping the intellect.  To be naked in the meditation experience is frightening for them, whereas women seem to be able to manage this naturally.

“A female embodiment of enlightenment is called a dakini in the ancient Indian language of Sanskrit.  This translates, literally, to “sky-goer” or “space-dancer”,  indicating that these ethereal awakened creatures have left the confinements of our solid earth and have taken to the vastness of open space as their elusive playground. Dakinis embody a special female quality which has a quality of soft sharpness, and a fiercely radical, courageous yet gentle heart, and a clarity of higher mind that cuts through intellectual ossification by pure and cosmic intuitive force.

“On a secret level, this being is seen as the manifestation of fundamental aspects of phenomena and the mind, and so her power is intimately associated with the profound insights. In this, her most essential aspect, she is considered to be the formless wisdom nature of the mind itself. And on an inner, ritual level, she is a meditational deity, visualized as the personification of buddhahood. On an outer, subtle-body level, she is the energetic network of the embodied mind in the subtle channels of energy and vital breath of tantric yoga. Yet, even more so, she is also, temporarily a mortal, living woman.  She takes many forms and may be a mother, a guru, a yogini, a powerful teacher, or a woman who simply teaches directly through her own life example.

 “Dakinis are the most important elements of the Enlightened Divine Femine in Tibetan Buddhism.  They are the luminous.  Subtle, yet spiritually energetic.  They are, at once, the key, the gatekeeper, and the guardian of the unconditioned state. If we are unwilling to invite the dakini into our life, will simply will not and cannot enter these subtle states of mind on our own.

As such, in order to be awakened and enlightened, we need them, and they will appear to us as messengers, nurturers, protectors, lovers, and guides.

…Yet, no matter what form they take, they will appear, and they have one purpose and one purpose only:  To open your heart.”

OwieZowie

Has something ever happened to you that cut deeply into your soul?  Have you ever allowed someone access to your heart and you ended up being hurt by them?  Have you ever loved someone unconditionally, given them your trust and found that they misused it?  Have you ever been blind-sided by an event in life involving someone you love?

Have you ever been the perpetrator of such hurt?  Have you ever been responsible for the pain of a loved one or a broken heart?  Has something ever happened in your life that you have felt the heartbreak that accompanies the knowledge that you have done damage to someone you love?

If you have been one either side of this spectrum, you are not alone.  Unfortunately for everyone, it seems that most of us have been hurt beyond words.  We know that feeling of betrayal, the sense of deceit, the break of a heart.   And likewise, many of us have been the source of a loved one’s pain and are familiar with the heartache and the broken spirit that is the result of hurting someone you love.  Many of us know that it hurts just as much, albeit differently, to be the broken hearted or to have caused the broken heart.

So when this has happened, when we are dealing with hurt feelings of this magnitude, what do we do to move on from the pain?  It certainly can be hard to be sure.  It can be quite difficult to know the best way to tend to such deep wounds while also moving forward, both with your relationship and with your life.  There is no easy way to decide if it is time to let go and when it is time to continue fighting for something you love.  Rarely is there a right or wrong way to nurse our wounds while also experiencing life as best we can.

But, I must say that even while it may be hard to know how to best recover from your pain and move forward in some way, many of us do have an idea about what we need and what might be most right for ourselves and the relationships that we are in.  Many of us have a voice that resides deep within us that whispers to us, offering us guidance and direction towards healing.  Many of us know, somewhere within us, the path it is that we should follow.  Most of us have something within ourselves that has utmost faith in our ability to recover, to carry on, and to flourish.  Something that trusts, something that wants to guide us toward love again.  Something helps us look inward in order to move forward, mending both the wounds in our hearts, as well as our loved one’s.

Even while that something within you might be difficult to hear or understand, it is worth your while to at least give it a chance.  Pause, listen and reflect on what it is trying to tell you.  Consider the message it is giving you about yourself and those you care about so that you may tend to your wounds, give and receive love, and begin to experience life as fully as possible once again.

Touchy Feely

I was once referred to as “thin-skinned”. And ironically (or perhaps not), this statement threw me off-guard as I found myself asking, “Really? Am I thin-skinned?” I have always considered the opposite to be true.

Curious of the actual definition, I looked it up and read that “thin skinned” is an adjective used to describe someone as “easily offended by criticism and rebuffs”. For good measure, I looked up “thick-skinned”, which was defined as “not easily hurt by insult; callous, unfeeling, hardhearted; and largely unaffected by others.”

After reading these definitions, I concluded that most of us fall somewhere in the middle of this spectrum, striking a healthy balance of sensitivity while also having the ability to let things go. And while some of us may veer toward one end of the spectrum or the other, most of us would say that we are not entirely thin- or thick-skinned. And personally, I think that is good. Who wants to be considered callous, unfeeling, and insensitive? Conversely, who wants to take everything personally? No one. Most of us would like to be sensitive and empathic enough to be emotionally available to those that we care about, even if that means we are vulnerable at times. Similarly, most of us would also like to have a strong enough sense of self to know which comments or actions to take to heart, and those that we should not internalize.

Yet, while most of us would agree with this optimal balance of sensitivity and emotional resilience, we often forget this as we interact with other people. Why are we told to toughen up when something has gotten us down? Why do we pretend that something has not hurt us if it really has? Why do some of us act as if we cannot be touched by the words and deeds of others? Conversely, why do some of us seem to take everything personally? Why do some of us tend to invalidate our own feelings, or feel victimized by every slight?

Of course, the answers to these questions depend on personal differences. We all experience life differently and therefore have different interpretations of our interactions with other people. What we all seem to have in common though, is that we are all sensitive beings. We are all capable of being hurt, whether we admit it or not, and we all care about the feelings and experiences of others.

Today, I encourage you to examine your feelings, particularly those that relate to the people surrounding you. I hope that you are able to have the softness of heart to be emotionally available, and the strength and the courage it takes to be vulnerable. Too, I hope that you are self-assured and secure enough to be true to yourself, and to know when to take things personally while also being conscious of what you internalize. Know that it is okay to feel what you are feeling, and that it is equally important to be mindful of how you express and act upon your emotions. Remind yourself that you are human, as are your loved ones, and that we are all worthy of love, acceptance, consideration and grace.

“Unseen Others”

When I was in grad school, I was introduced to the concept of “unseen others” by one of my professors. According my professor’s theory, we all have them. They are the people in the world that we choose not to see because our reaction to them makes us uncomfortable.

I would like you to take a moment and consider who your unseen others are. Is it someone of a different religion, race or ethnicity, sexuality, or socioeconomic status? Perhaps it is someone of a specific profession, age bracket, range of ability, or political belief? Or maybe there are certain appearances, interests, or personality traits that come to your mind.

Regardless of who these unseen others are or what it is about them that makes us uncomfortable, we all seem to have such reactions to a certain group of people. Most often, we avoid our unseen others because we are uncertain of how to relate to them, or we have made assumptions, passed judgments, or developed biases or prejudices against the type of person we believe them to be.

I find this to be such an interesting phenomenon. How curious it is that we have a hard time seeing people as real simply because they are different from us. How unfortunate it is that we short change people because we have unfairly made up our minds about them. What a disservice it is to everyone when we cannot look deeper into one another simply because we are unsure of how to relate to who we think they are. And isn’t it interesting that we tend to validate certain people based on their likeness to our own self-image?

If you have been able to identify your unseen others, I challenge you to consider what it is about you and them that makes them so difficult for you to see. Invite your unseen others to hold up a mirror to you, and take a long look at yourself in the reflection that you see. Ask yourself questions about what you see. Too, ask yourself if you are willing to challenge your beliefs about yourself and the people around you. Are you willing to learn from someone that you have always thought has nothing to teach you? Are you willing to allow them to touch you? Are you willing to reach out and touch them? Are you willing to venture out of your comfort zone and expand your horizons?

Although it can be difficult to deconstruct our personal biases, it is rather easy to approach people with curiosity, rather than judgment. To be kind, respectful, and accepting. It may be easier than we think to have a positive influence and be positively influenced ourselves, even when we least suspect. Just think about a time when you were surprised by someone. How good it feels to be treated as a whole person worthy of understanding and acceptance.

Take a moment today and think about what a wonderful thing it is see the goodness in one another. See that we are so much more connected by our similarities, our vulnerabilities, and our very human nature than we realize. Celebrate and embrace our differences as a source of richness, rather than a point of division. Give all people a chance, no matter who or what we assume them to be.

Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t

Have you ever been subject to unkind words, insensitive comments, or criticism? Have you ever felt that something you did or said was misunderstood, misconstrued, or picked apart by others? Have you ever invested your time and energies into something meaningful to you, something that you cared about dearly, only to learn that your efforts would be met with negative feedback? Has there ever been a time where you invited dialog from others, hoping for help and constructive suggestions, and instead received messages about what you have done wrong with no mention of alternative solutions? Have you ever felt judged unfairly or labeled because of a single trait, decision, or characteristic of yours? Have you ever felt that you were, in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “damned if you do, and damned if you don’t”?

I am willing to bet that you have. It seems that each and everyone one of us can relate to these feelings. We have all been criticized, fairly or not. Therefore, we are all familiar with the sting of harsh words. We all know that criticism can hurt.

Criticism can hurt, not just because people disagree with us or because there are people that do not prefer us. It is hurtful not only because it points out our mistakes, faults, and imperfections. Rather, criticism seems to be most painful because it leaves us feeling misunderstood, mistranslated, misconstrued. It leaves us feeling short-changed, judged, and undervalued. Quite often we feel frustrated, picked apart, ganged up on. Criticism often leads to self-doubt, insecurity, and self-consciousness. Criticism is deflating. It is discouraging. Disheartening.

And yet, criticism serves a purpose. When delivered with care, criticism can be eye-opening. It can lead to growth, self-discovery, and awareness. Criticism, when constructive, can lead to much better outcomes for ourselves and others. It can help us learn, overcome difficulty, and master our skills. Criticism is necessary for objectivity, critical thinking, and honest feedback. At its best, criticism allows us to better understand ourselves and strive for improvement. At its worst, however, criticism is damaging and destructive.

So how do we handle criticism, if it is such a necessary part of communication and understanding? How do we tell someone something negative, knowing that such a message has the potential to hurt them? Do we tiptoe and skirt around sensitive issues, forgoing such honesty? Do we avoid an opportunity to help someone because it might be uncomfortable for them?

No, we do not. Instead, we ensure that our messages, if they are necessary at all, are delivered with compassion, empathy, understanding, and balance. We give careful consideration so that we are helpful, constructive, and supportive. We may even consider offering suggestions and alternative solutions, ideas, and perspectives and providing an explanation of the rationale behind them. Additionally, we make certain that we understand what it is that we are discussing, and we take into account the perspectives and experiences of the people involved.

So how then, might we better receive such criticism, especially when it is not delivered with care? Do we take offense, particularly if we are insulted? Do we disregard everything we heard about ourselves that we do not agree with? Conversely, do we internalize any and all criticism and assume it to be true? Do we allow it to alter our self-image or our belief in ourselves? Should we apologize, excuse, or deny parts of who we are because they were subject to criticism?

No. Not at all. Instead, I encourage you to listen to criticism with strong ears and considerate it with an open mind. Refrain from all-or-none thinking, and do not assume everything you hear to be true. Instead, adopt an objective perspective when making sense of such feedback, and take it for what it is worth to you. Ask yourself what can be learned from it, if anything, and do what you would like with such information.

Take a moment to consider criticism from a new angle. Recall what it feels like to be on the receiving end of such messages, and show compassion to those that you speak to. Ensure that your words come from your heart, and be selective with what you choose to share with others. As you take the time to reconsider criticism, also reflect on how you might better receive such messages the next time you are criticized. Assume an objective stance if you can, and be selective with what you let affect you. Remind yourself that there is nothing on this earth that cannot be criticized and do not allow yourself to be negatively impacted by the opinions of others. Instead, try only to learn, grow, and evolve from such experiences, or do not allow yourself to be affected at all.

You are unique. You are beautiful. Capable. Loveable. You have a calling, you have dreams, and you should absolutely follow your heart and know that you are a precious rarity. Hold this to be true, revel in who you are, and let no one take that from you. No matter what they have to say about it. Ever.

Hurt People Hurt People

If you have ever been a part of a relationship, I am willing to bet that you have also found yourself amidst an internal struggle that is, at least in part, due to something that has happened within that relationship. Something that was confusing, hurtful, or upsetting. Something that was difficult to let go of, move on from, or understand. As such, I am willing to bet that whatever it was that had caused you discomfort has also had a lasting impact on you in some meaningful way. Perhaps it has influenced how you approach people. Perhaps it taught you a valuable lesson. Perhaps it shaped you in some other meaningful way, for better or for worse. Rarely do we make it through such things without an impact being made.

Because of this, it comes as no surprise that such lesson can be quite difficult to learn. That we may be rendered incapable of embracing a lesson until we are capable of approaching the situation from an entirely different perspective. A perspective that does not focus on the hurt and is instead driven by a compassionate empathy for all that are involved. A perspective that allows us to let go of what may otherwise hard to set free.

When you take a moment to think about the implications of approaching painful circumstance in such a loving way, it is no wonder that many of us undergo a transformation of sorts as we move forward. It is no wonder that we also begin to soften, forgive, and let go of that which has hurt us in the past. I say that this is no wonder, because I believe that when we are able to approach another human being from a point of compassion, we begin to see life through their eyes, instead of through our own, and in doing so, we often gain a better understanding of their true intentions and greater insight into their deeper experiences. Rather than being convinced that we have been hurt by their selfishness or deceit, we may see instead that they were driven by another force entirely. Or, rather than looking down upon them with disappointment, judgment, or condemnation, we may soften our gaze and realize that they are coming from a place that we otherwise may not understand.

And of course, as I say this, please understand that I do not mean to minimize any pain that has been experienced, nor excuse any wounds that have been inflicted. I only mean to say that it does seem to feel better, and therefore take us farther, when we are able to invest in love and compassion and allow our pain to be transformed, rather than submerge ourselves in negative and destructive emotions.

So today, if you find yourself revisiting a painful relationship, I challenge you to consider the alternative perspective. Attempt to understand what may otherwise be unfathomable. Reject the victim mentality and let go of blame. Instead, hold fast to your optimism in humankind and have faith in what you believe to be good.