It’s Time to Meditate & Change the World

The Year Long Meditation with Himalayan Institute is finally here!

No meditation experience necessary, no flexibility required ;). What is required is a commitment to cultivating your own inner light & peaceful mind in order to change the world around you.

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CLICK HERE to register (it’s free!) & join the movement.

When you register, make sure to check out Pandit Rajmani Tigunait’s (Chair & Spiritual Head of Himalayan Institute) video message. In it, he answers many questions about the YLM & offers inspiration for your practice — I so enjoy hearing his positive & direct wisdom.

If you’re in yoga classes with me, we’ll practice short meditations at the end of class, so why not add your minutes to the collective?

Setting aside time for meditation isn’t easy for me. I’ve been pretty sporadic, honestly. My teacher gave me a meditation to practice, & I’ll do it religiously for a few months, then slack off to a few days a week, then get back to every day, then do ZERO for a week. When I get back on schedule, I notice how difficult it is to find that rhythm again. That what was once just a few minutes to settle into meditation when I was practicing daily, is now fidgeting the ENTIRE time I’m trying to meditate!

Also, I overworked last week, late nights & early mornings … & now my body is exhausted & throat unhappy … so there’s another excuse as the week starts.

So I begin again … & again …

Sharon Salzberg, renowned meditation teacher, says, “We don’t meditate to become better meditators. We meditate to become better at life.”

Again, listen to Panditji’s talk about YLM — I think you’ll find yourself smiling.

So, I’m gonna continue to work on my meditation practice, & I hope you’ll join me! Our efforts multiply.

I also realize it’s the Full Moon on July 16th … & a partial Lunar Eclipse too … what an auspicious way to begin!

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I’d love to hear about your meditation practice if you have one … OR if you’d like to start a meditation practice & what inspires you to do so. What keeps you going when you want to hit the snooze button, or look at social media, or just don’t “feel like it [meditating]”? Your insights inspire me & I’m sure others reading this post too!

“Pinball Mind” from Listen Well

As I composed this month’s e-newsletter about the Year Long Meditation, the Listen Well offering came to my inbox. Give it a listen & see if you can relate … cuz I can TOTALLY relate:

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I’m looking forward to our closing meditations together in class.

Also, the book I’ve shared in classes recently:

This dude is a DOCTOR of Forest Medicine! How cool is that?! Who wouldn’t want to get a prescription to go & walk in the forest 2 hours a day?

I’m reading this book to Tortilla as he deals with the fireworks (for WEEKS now, poor puppy):

As long as I’m in my pinball mind ๐Ÿ˜‰ … Ever since I heard about “moon gardens,” I’ve wanted to cultivate one. A Moon garden can be composed of night-blooming flowers, or flowers / plants that reflect moonlight, i.e. white flowers, silvery plants. The effect is said to be cooling & calming to the senses & the mind.

Here’s what I have so far …

This last photo is of one of my faves — a Jasmine variety — I pause every morning to enjoy a moment here before walking to yoga class. The blooms last only a day yet the smell is heavenly.

See you soon, E

End of June Vibes

It’s Sunday … The humidity has dropped this evening in SW PA … So nice.

Last week was warm, humid, & peppered with pop-up storms. Thankfully, no watering needed in the garden. Unfortunately, our boy Tortilla spent the week in panic from thunder claps & lighting flashes.

Thursday evening was my first visit to Footprints Farm. What a treat!

The barn at Footprints Farm. Can you feel the pastoral vibe?! The cows had just mooooowwed this area where we practiced. ๐Ÿ˜

My friend Ashley volunteers at the farm regularly, & Thursday we enjoyed “Family Yoga at the Farm” with Jenny Dayton. Kids are welcome … No kids? No worries! Come & practice.

The yoga asana was beginner friendly & Jenny welcomed us with homemade essential oil bug spray … & Ellen, owner of Footprints Farm, welcomed us with idyllic scenery including grazing cows & horses, & a Great Pyrenees named Patch.

Patch paw-printed my mat ;). I feel famous.
Patch, ever the watchful farm dog, as we began practice.
Ashley, Patch (interested in my earring), & me. Big dog = Big Joy!

Thank you, Ashley, Jenny, Footprints Farm & Patch for a lovely evening!

As summer heats up, I’ve been actively working on my cool-down strategies. Growing up in Oklahoma, I was used to heat & humidity (x1,000), & I have the frizzy orange hair pics to prove it! Yet these days my body doesn’t handle heat as gracefully.

Here are my current strategies & recipes:

* Exercise in the early morning hours.

* Avoid being outdoors for lengthy periods between 11am — 6pm. (& I’m doing better wearing sunscreen — I hate how sunscreen feels & the idea of chemicals, yet our dermatologist recommended Vanicream … I found at Walgreens … I use a little fractionated coconut oil to help it blend better … & it has fewer chemicals, yay!)

* Hydrate. I used to buy electrolyte waters, but they’re too sugary/fake sugary for my taste, so I’ve stuck with filtered water. And now I’m adding peppermint leaves from the garden, & cucumber. Both are cooling to the body. I’ve heard watermelon, basil, strawberry, rosemary are cooling additions too.

* Spritz with homemade cooling mist. Often. Like constantly. In a 4oz glass bottle, I combine a few drops Doterra peppermint & lavender, a tablespoon pure aloe vera gel, & a few tablespoons witch hazel. Fill the remainder with distilled water. Voila! (Even more awesome when stored in the fridge!)

* Eat pitta-pacifying foods. According to the science of Ayurveda, “like increases like,” so since my constitution is fiery & it’s summer to boot, I can re-balance myself by cultivating the opposite qualities. So I eat cooling foods as defined by Ayurveda (not necessarily the modern American idea of ice cream, which can aggravate, or beer, which can be heating to the body!). Here’s my fave resource right now: Eat, Taste, Heal. (You can find online elsewhere, yet purchasing from The Himalayan Institute supports their humanitarian work & where I study ๐Ÿ™‚ )

I found this Pitta-Pacifying Poha on YouTube! Recipe below.

I used leftover barley (cooling grain) instead of rice …
Youtube Channel: JADE. New to me, yet I’ll be checking out more from them!

*In addition, & congruent with Ayurvedic teachings, I do my best to organize my lifestyle in summer around routines, foods, attitudes, exercise, interactions & environments … even clothing … that are cooling, nurturing, soft, calming, & noncompetitive. These qualities can balance the fiery, hot, sharp, driven, go-go-go, light-filled nature of summer.

How do you organize your life to stay cool & nurtured during the summer months? Let’s hear feom you in the comments or in class soon!

Note: what works for your constitution may be very different than what works for me. That’s the beauty of Ayurveda, I think. Don’t know your Ayurvedic constitution? You could book an appointment with a trained Ayurvedic Health Counselor at The Himalayan Institute – Pittsburgh. Or start with the Dosha Quiz at Banyan Botanicals or Yoga International, two sources I use for education & inspiration.

Ok, I’m off to July. Hope you’ll join me! E-newsletter coming soon … New asana class sequences after the New Moon on July 2nd! Yay! Cheers, E

Happy Solstice! & Tame Summer Tensions with EOs

Hi! As promised in my recent email (sign up for my email list below!) … Here are some great ideas for using Balance, PastTense & Aromatouch essential oil blends.

Essential Oils Ebook from Doterra — Tame Summer Tensions

ENJOY!

Happy Summer Solstice! Allow time today … with all this extra daylight … to pause.

Yep, pause.

Pausing is not my M.O. … yet … so my body sent me a message today … got a little amped up & felt the panic arise in my body / breath for no apparent reason.

So here I am, sitting, “needing” to get to work, yet allowing deep breaths as my heartrate & panic recalibrate … & the sweatfest to calm down. ๐Ÿ˜‰

How does stress manifest in your body?

Today may be an opportunity. An opportunity to allow the light of solstice to illuminate areas where I still require care, compassion, a little grace.

May these musings benefit you … I’m also enjoying Jill Wintersteen’s blog today … Summer Solstice: Honoring the Light Within. Her moon workbooks have been a touchstone for reflection for me.

Until we meet again, E

Smoke Detector Induced Anxiety Gaaahhhh!

NOTE: Please check your smoke & CO detectors regularly, leave your home (remember your pets!) & call 911 when your detectors signal danger.

So I love when it’s 2:49am & I hear 2 piercing beeps from “somewhere.” Silence. Then 3 piercing beeps from the same somewhere. Silence. The mind starts jolting the body awake … I must be dreaming … this can’t be happening at 3am, right?

The 3 beeps sound again. Silence. My mind bolts my body up out of bed & down the stairs … Do I smell smoke? No. What is going on? Gahhh! BEEP BEEP BEEP right above my head …

Then my naturally low blood pressure takes over as I get a little lightheaded from getting up too quickly. For God’s sake … Ok, slow down & breathe.

Rationality takes over for a moment … Change the battery. Ok, search for batteries. BEEP BEEP BEEP. Turn the f*** off!

Ok, batteries found, new battery inserted. Test. BEEP BEEP BEEP. Ok, done.

Back to bed. But the heart rate is still trying to recover, mind racing. What if it’s real? What if it wasn’t THAT detector, but a different one? What if it was CO detector? You can’t smell CO … Ok, get back up.

Check the basement, the kitchen, etc. Nothing. Check the CO detectors. Check the other smoke detectors. They’re good.

Meanwhile, Baxter is following me around wearily, ever my shadow ๐Ÿพ.

Back to bed. Mind still thinking, over thinking … Stomach churning.

BEEP BEEP BEEP

F***!

OK, calm down. Now I’m awake, & thinking, well, it’s 4:30 … They say the yogis woke up before sunrise to meditate … It’s also the full moon … A good time to reflect, release, move forward. So maybe this is a serendipitous thing.

BEEP BEEP BEEP.

Serendipity. I don’t think so.

So after over an hour of this anxiety loop … Including entertaining the idea that I have ghosts in my house … googling “why is my smoke detector beeping 3 times” & freaking out about the answers offered … watching youtube videos about how to reset the detector … which, by the way, I resorted to because First Alert makes REALLY difficult to find answers on their website at 4am … Heading to the bathroom for an anxiety BM (c’mon, I can’t be the only one who’s GI tract kicks in) … Going back to bed & hearing the BEEP 3 times, then 2 times again …

After all that, here I am typing the saga on my phone at 5:30am.

BTW, after that 3 beep, 2 beep combo, the detector has been silent since. Maybe that’s the sign it’s reset? I’ll have to remember this the next time it goes off at 3am … which my anxiety is already preparing for this evening.

So, in sum, now that I’ve had some tea & am coming back to myself … this was a pretty fascinating scenario of how anxiety works in me, in my body (activated muscles, blood pressure, digestion) how the rational mind tries to get in there with some logic, but has a wicked challenge in getting the flight/fight response to calm her sh** down.

The pause was key for me, yet I’m still dealing with the adrenaline/cortisol rush 2 hours later. Before I began my yoga/meditation practices 10 years ago, I’d be chastising myself as weak, not able to handle this “small” thing, & trying to “get over it” in any way possible.

This morning, I still chastised myself … Yet was able to pause that inner voice for moments here & there … & instead make some tea, soothe Baxter & Tortilla, & just decide to begin my morning routine a bit earlier. Progress on my path? I think so.

I also learned more about smoke detectors — that dust, changes in temp/humidity, or even a spider crawling into the detector can set it off. Who knew? (You probably did! I’ll call you in a panic next time ;).)

Maybe you can identify with parts of my experience with anxiety. Maybe you’re thinking, My God, this girl has issues (you would be correct). And maybe you’re finding a slice of compassion for yourself or those around you that have freak-out moments, hours, or days.

In any case, I’m so thankful you’ve read this post. A little more compassion in this world is a monumental thing, a change-the-world thing.

Thanks for reading. Now go check your smoke detectors …

P.S. Here’s the anxiety-inducing smoke detector. Quiet for now. It needs your good vibes. Because if it goes off again at 3am for no good reason, this detector may not survive. Just sayin’.

P.P.S. It’s been 4 hours … Silence. I hope I get a nap this afternoon ๐Ÿ˜ด.

P.P.P.S. June 18th – Update – This one beeped twice, then 3 times at 1:45am this morning. Needless to say it did not survive.

DIY Sunday

Sunday.

What are you up to today?

Here’s the view from here:

It’s breezy & right now there’s some blue sky … yet it’s been threatening to take a dive all morning …

So! I’ve decided to indulge my homebody self! After abhyanga & meditation, a workout & some cleaning — the furballs from B & T are mobile ๐Ÿ˜‚ — & I’m on to some DIY cleaning supplies.

Here’s the view from our kitchen:

I decided on 3 recipes today: shower cleaner, tub scrub & all-purpose cleaner.

My pitta nature gets impatient with the long explanations of why a blogger is making what they’re making, so here are the recipes. (You’re always welcome to read my other posts, where I go on ad nauseum ๐Ÿ˜‚)

Note: Remember to use glass or metal containers when storing your concoctions made with essential oils.

Shower Cleaning Spray (mold/mildew preventer)

2 cups water

30 drops melaleuca essential oil

10 drops peppermint essential oil

Add ingredients to glass spray bottle and shake well. Spray directly on mold/mildew. Do not rinse. Repeat daily/weekly as needed.

The other 2 reciped I found in Doterra’s blog archive:

The other 2 recipes I made:

Tub Scrub Recipe

All-Purpose Cleaning Spray

(I used the Eucalyptus, Wild Orange, Peppermint blend ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Alrighty, there you have it! If it inspires you, let me know in the comments or in class!

Now I’m off to watch some Wanda Sykes comedy. Keep it light as summer approaches, friends! More light, less heat ๐Ÿ™๐ŸŒžโค๐ŸŒฑ.

See you in class soon!

June, Flow, Milestones

It’s been one year since some of our Love Yoga community moved to the The Ave. Thank you for sharing your practice with me there, at The Yoga Garden, St. Peter’s and/or in community spaces. I’m so grateful for each of you, & that you invite friends, colleagues & family to share practice with us. There’s no exclusive club in Yoga. All are welcome, & we adjust our practice to include each other! The more people practicing yoga on & off their mats = a better world.

As you know, I’ve started a new adventure! Recently, I accepted a part-time position with Penn State Extension as Fayette County 4-H Program Assistant. I’ll be supporting the various clubs & their important youth development work, along with going into the schools to provide ag literacy & STEM-based programming.

Here’s what happened this week:

These young men from the Fayette County 4-H Lamb Club demonstrated & taught younger 4-H members how to be show their lambs at the County Fair.

 

Giving my lamb show-womanship skills a try.
Pretty cool, huh? (I look cool bc Brandon, the young man training me, is holding the lead ๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚๐Ÿ˜‚)

Last week I got to reunite with my 3rd graders at Lafayette … Shared a book & lesson on honeybees & pollination:

See the eggs, larvae, capped cells & adults? All the growth stages!
Honey ready for extraction ๐Ÿ˜

I have a LOT to learn & re-learn with this position … which is both exciting & overwhelming. My personality wants to know NOW, get it right NOW, & do the job NOW.

Why?

Well, it might be my upbringing. Maybe you relate — your parents / grandparents worked hard & expected you to do the same. Not a bad thing, a healthy work ethic.

I also think that our culture has sped up to ridiculous speed, & expects us to keep up. How many of us have relied on caffeine to push our bodies/ minds further, alarm clocks to keep us ahead of constant appointments, or pushing the gas pedal just a little harder to get there faster?

I know I have, & still do rely on “hacks” to keep up.

And yet …

One of my favorite teachers, Rod Stryker, continues to challenge my ingrained compulsion to keep up, go faster, do more. Having practiced yoga nidra for almost 2 years now, I can attest to the exhilaration, the rejuvenation, & the urgency of slowing down. While I gain much from asana (postures), the depths of meditation & yoga nidra have offered rich ground for renewal & exploration.

How are you slowing down in an age of speed & distraction? Let your practices be your manifesto for life. A few thoughts come to my mind as I ask you this question & give us all that challenge:

“There is more to life than increasing its speed.”

“Adopt the pace of Nature; her secret is patience.”

I hope you’ll join me in classes or schedule a private lesson for yourself and/or friends. This summer my classes guide us (I teach what I need to practice!) toward slowing down amidst our efforts & hard work — both in class & off the mat. I look forward to practicing with you!

May the 4th Be With You

This morning, Jim walked downstairs to find the Star Wars theme song blasting in the kitchen. Star Wars was a major part of my childhood … the first movie came out when I was 3 years old. Gah! The whole thing was EPIC. When prequels started coming out not long ago, I felt a bit snitty about the whole thing … NOTHING could compare to the originals (spoiler alert: I still kinda feel that way).

 

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So I’m listening to the Star Wars playlist on Amazon Music today.

In other news related to the stars, I completed a revolution around the sun on May 1st. As with all of us, a lot has happened in a year. My grandfather moved into an assisted living home, away from my grandmother, which has been challenging for the whole family. I’m far away & unfortunately removed from day-to-day events. My aunt & her family have been solid rocks with my grandparents day in & out for many years. I’m beyond grateful to know there’s love around my grandparents from their kids, grandkids AND great-grandkids!

My father, whom I’ve rarely seen sick or out-of-sorts, was diagnosed with a heart arrhythmia … so that rocked my world a bit. I know many of you in our yoga community have cared for or are caring for parents / loved ones … Does your yoga practice benefit you? My parents are independent, each doing their work, making decisions, & living their lives … I still feel like the “kid” even at my age …

My boys, Baxter & Tortilla, are now part of what Jim & I call “the white-chinned posse” — Baxter is 10-ish & Tortilla 8-ish. We’ve noticed Baxter a little more deliberate when going down the stairs, & 9:30pm zoomies around the house are getting more rare. We have old yoga mats on the hardwood floors to reduce their sliding around as they rush to bark at the mail carrier or out the door for a W-A-L-K (yes, we spell it out in our home ๐Ÿ˜‰ ).

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It can be a bit sobering for me, this getting older. I know there will be loss to come — of my loved ones, of things I used to be able to do, etc. I don’t “think” I’ve been around 45 years most days … the mirror & my joints tell me differently sometimes, haha!

 

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The New Moon is TODAY.

What an opportunity for reflection, for going inward. I won’t claim to be a master meditator … I’ve been sitting most mornings for a while, that’s what I can say ;). Most of the time I’m distracted or thinking about where I need to be in 10 minutes. Or angry with myself for being so distracted.

In those rare moments when I get a glimpse of going inward & settling, I realize how grateful I am for that unchanging part of me, that Spark of the Divine (you may call it God/dess, Higher Power, The Force ;), etc.). A bit of stability in changing times.

And there is much gratefulness for my grandparents, parents, & family members — & now for my extended family through Jim! — we don’t see each other often or talk daily, yet they are such amazing souls doing their lives & being there for the people around them. They inspire me to be where I am & add something positive to the world around me.

Speaking of doing something positive … Just in time for my birthday, I accepted a part-time position with Penn State Extension working with the Fayette County 4-H programs. As you know, my background is in outdoor & adventure education, & I very much enjoy teaching & working with youth in school, in the garden, & in the Great Outdoors. I’m discovering that 4-H is so much more than agriculture-based (though the foods we eat & how plants/animals are raised is crucial to our health & well-being). I’m looking forward to supporting local kids in their learning about everything from engineering to dog training to plant science to mindfulness <– yep, mindfulness!

With this new work, I’ll be looking at my yoga teaching schedule & adjusting the summer schedule … Stay tuned. It’ll be one year (!!) in June that we’ve been enjoying the space at The Ave for yoga classes, & almost one year that I’ve been fortunate to be part ofย  The Yoga Garden community. The weekly class at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church is in its 3rd year I believe! You continue to be an important part of embodying & spreading the benefits of traditional hatha yoga practices in our modern community.

My goal is to continue my yoga training & study so that 1) I continue my own Yoga journey & 2) I provide you & those who join our community with high-quality, time-tested teachings & practices. Specifically, I’ll be saving my pennies for the 500-hour teacher training at my alma mater, Himalayan Institute of Pittsburgh. This almost 2-year program is the real deal — steeped in traditional teachings for the modern yogi.

I believe the more people who practice Yoga (not only asana/poses, but ALL of Yoga) … the better our world becomes for everyone. We choose how to practice, but we practice — for our Selves in the beginning, then for our families, our communities, our world. We choose to see ourselves as light … & as not separate, rather part of a whole … & we see that our practice matters to that whole.

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May the Force be with us. See you on your mat or meditation cushion soon, E

What I’m seeing, reading, enjoying today:

The Moon begins waxing this week โค … Last night’s moon …
Last night … Evening walk … Streetlight highlights the spring blossoms.
Our boy Tortilla … Specialty: naps in the sunpots.

Words of wisdom: Yogarupa Rod Stryker

Moon & daffodils outside The Yoga Garden tonight.
I’m not into this quote, but it came up in both chocolates (you can’t eat just one!), so it must be needed info …

Happy Wednesday!

Check out Chair Yoga with me this Sunday, and/or sign up for the next Beginner’s Series in May!