I hope you find content in this blog that supports your self-discovery, inner-inquiry, and grand curiosity.
Love is Ready for me…Written by Krista Louise, October 20th, 2019
I had been waiting for Love to find me,
I searched high and low with my eyes.
Little did I know,
All I had to do was close my lids,
And go quietly inside.
As I sweetly sang the names of the Divine,
Love leaned up against me,
Solid, soft, and sturdy.
Little did I know,
Love was, in fact, waiting & ready for me.
Love is All you See…. written by Krista Louise
I wanted my Romance with God to look a certain way.
But, how limited my love would be, if it is only based on looks,
if it is confined to the limited spectrum of my eyes.
Instead, I learned to feel Spirit Romancing me.
I Surrendered inward to the embrace of Divine Perfection.
And when you’re coo’ing and swooning completely –
Open your eyes.
Then – you will only see Love.
Anger guards the gate to my Grief.
I’m learning – when to ask Anger to take a lunch break, or a day off.
I’m learning – how and when it’s safe to request Grief to leave the chambers and take a stroll in the fresh air and forest.
Let Grief take a walk – freely.
She may wander across Anger – fuming by a boulder or a tree.
They sit together, console each other. And, eventually, they may decide they prefer days off and fresh air, to vigilantly guarding a stagnant chamber they no longer need.
According to dictionary.com the definition of easy-going is: relaxed and tolerant in approach or manner.
For years, I’ve happily accepted the character quality of being easy-going. As a woman, I inherited the script of being obedient, putting other’s needs above my own. As the youngest and only girl in my family, it was more useful to be quiet and wish for calm than to stand up and speak about what didn’t feel good. It was more important to belong than to honor my individual values.
I learned to prioritize “being together” over embodying and speaking my truth. As I grow into a strong woman, I have learned to think and feel for myself. Now, I’m learning how to honor myself and establish peace and trust in relationships through creating and respecting boundaries.
I’ve realized forgoing your needs for the sake of “belonging” creates disconnection rather than connection, because the person who shows up as peacekeeper is not being authentic. Remaining small in order to “keep the peace” serves no one.
It is difficult for me to be constantly congruent with another and remain in integrity with what is true for me. I can remain solid in my truth and respect the differences of the other. In this place, we can find the happy medium, the appropriate spaciousness between honoring our own needs and respecting the needs of others. The truth is we will have some different needs and desires than others. We will not be in harmony with every person we meet, every moment we’re connected to them. The balance point comes in when we can respect someone’s differences and realize our commonality is committing to what is true for each individual and supporting the enactment of that truth.
Recently, I’ve noticed the unintended consequences of being “too easy-going”. I’ve noticed my tendency to go with the flow can actually be a lack of conviction to speak up about my needs and desires. Being a doormat to others is not an attractive or honorable quality. I’ve carried an old belief pattern that what is true for me is not as valuable as being “in good standing” with another. If rather than asserting my boundaries or making respectful requests, I am more attuned to maintaining peace, I am doing no one no good.
I have refrained from speaking up for fear that the other will have a differing view than me, will disagree, will not understand and thus not respect my request, or will leave if my request or boundary isn’t congruent with their desires. And I’ve realized, I’d rather fly solo and maintain my boundary than be semi-present/semi-authentic and not alone.
The consequences of not speaking up have become more apparent to me, and I have been chewing on this: because I still desire to have things “my way” I have noticed a tendency to unconsciously manipulate people or the situation to get what I want, after having not spoken up and clearly naming my desire.
Woah. (is that interesting to anyone else besides me?)
Let me repeat: Rather than speaking up for what is true, I noticed a tendency to give in to the other (either by their force or my lack of stability) and then manipulate the situation in an effort to still get what I want. That is the opposite of transparency.
This whole story of not speaking up and manipulating others stems from a lack of trust in my own value and a lack of trust in the unconditional love and acceptance of the other.
All healthy relationships require a foundation of trust. According to qualitative researcher and public speaker Brené Brown, trust is built through many small acts over time. I am silently disgracing trust when I choose “easy-going” over embodying and speaking my Truth. I am building trust in moments that I honor myself and my boundaries, and communicate them compassionately.
In the talk “The Anatomy of Trust” Dr. Brown deconstructs trust, a rather intangible concept, into the pieces that build and maintain it. She dubbed this process BRAVING (Boundaries, Reliability, Accountability, Vault, Integrity, Non-judgment and Generosity). The ability to assert my boundaries builds trust because I am demonstrating that I honor and value myself.
To my hearts discontent, I’ve noticed a habit of allowing my boundaries to be too malleable and flexible and thus affirming over and over again tiny moments of betrayal, rather than cultivating trust.
True connection is when I am grounded in myself, and the other is grounded in themselves, and all parties respect each persons’ expression. Connection isn’t dependent on having the same view, but in respecting the view of the other while also respecting your own. Two distinct beings can dance with one another and experience and create beautiful magic much more authentically than two beings who are trying to be like the other or trying to make the other be like them (this is called co-dependency).
Freedom is the ultimate trust exercise. Without cords or ties or manipulation, in a moment of free choice, we see who someone really is, and who we really are. Freedom is respecting another persons’ preferences and taking care of yourself. Freedom is retaining your worth no matter the thoughts or actions of another.
Upon reflecting on this new self-observation, this mantra came to me: Given that I am Free, how do I choose to be? The preface of this phrase supposes freedom as a starting point, inherent in our existence, not something that we “get” over time. The second portion encourages choice for thoughts, words, and actions. Because my worth is not dependent on another’s opinion of me, I am free to be whomever I am. In that space of freedom, what is true for me?
Our ability to clearly and respectfully articulate our boundaries is the meeting point between the internal voice and the external world. When I set a boundary for myself, regardless of how the other person will view me, I am honoring my needs/inner self and actively building a world in which those needs are heard and respected.
Hands-on Personal Exploration: to help connect your Truth (the inner voice) with the external manifestation (speaking up for your inner voice).
- Connect to your 3rd chakra (your personal-power center), lay your hands on your solar plexus. Take 2-3 long, deep breaths feeling into the decision at hand. (*A deep breath informs you of what is true, a shallow breath indicates it is not in resonance.)
- When you find what is true, move the energy up to your 4th chakra and place your hands on your heart center. Add love to the energy of what is true for you, and then communicate it (5th chakra) with love.
Do you have awareness of where you are disproportionally easy-going? Can you relate to the experience of putting another’s needs above your own? How did the work out for you? What are practices that help you build your boundaries while remaining respectful of the other?
May we all remember our inherent worth and freedom and be clear in communicating our needs. From this place, may there be more authentic, respectful connection in the world, for the benefit of all Beings.
When people learn I am a yoga teacher, I often hear “I’m not good at yoga” or “I wouldn’t be good at yoga.” Yoga is not an “It” which one can be good or bad at. Yoga does not discriminate based on age, gender, flexibility, injury or strength. Yoga meets you where you are. Yoga teaches you to be present and breathe. You cannot be “bad at being present”, you’re either present, or you’re not present. No good or bad. You’re either breathing, or you’re not. No good or bad. If you were bad at breathing, you’d be dead. Often one could be more present or more mindful of breath; but you can’t be “bad” at either, which means you can’t be “good”. This binary, dualistic way of viewing reality is exactly the idea yoga dispels.
I also hear students ask: “am I doing it right?”; “what should I be doing?”; or “what is it supposed to look like?”. The answer: It depends, there is no one right way. Your way, for today, depends on your intention, how your body is feeling, and if you need to stoke the fire, or cool down and rest – or both. This means the teacher can’t tell you you’re doing it right or wrong, only you can know what is right for you. Teachers are excellent guides, not commanders or drill sergeants. I’m not “telling people what to do”, I give options on what might feel useful in their body from the 10+ years of experience I have practicing yoga in my body. Ultimately, not everything that works for me will work for someone else. We are unique, each day is new for everyone, and what we need varies.
I love to share with students how each pose is an archetype, a shape, which shows up in the body differently on different days, and will certainly look different for different people. Each pose is a moment in time, a snapshot on the spectrum from one place to the next. This play between movement and stillness is the beauty of flow yoga, like a practice my partner and I have developed called Yin Chi Flow. The body is the shape, then you can inquire: Where do I place my legs, arms, hands, feet, spine, head, torso etc. to embody the shape my body will feel best in right now? What asana, meaning “seat” (intentionally placing your body parts), is going to get the desired effect I want or need?
Take Downward-Facing-Dog, for example. I love to think about what “breed” of dog I am today. If I take a “longer” stance in my downward dog, I move closer to plank position, this accentuates the work of the arms and back. If I take a “shorter” down-dog, I am closer to standing forward fold, which moves the intention of the shape into the backs of the legs. Depending on the range of motion in your body, bending the knees allows the spine to be long, a crucial element of down-dog. No matter your level of practice or years of experience, there is value in playing with the ends of the spectrum, to discover the happy medium; what Buddhism refers to as the Middle Path. It’s difficult to know where your happy-medium is if you haven’t explored the opposite ends of the spectrum, and the spectrum changes and evolves over time. This is why yoga is an ever-evolving, life-long practice!
Additionally, it is useful to be aware of our addictions and habits. If you tend to be more gung-ho, perhaps today you soften in your down dog or take a modification like puppy-pose. If your tendency is to be a little lax, step up and add some vigor to your shape to bring you out of your habit. Yoga is a great way to balance your natural constitution and life-style patterns.
For me, the joy of yoga is applying the combination of a sharp mind and an intuitive heart to discover what shows up on my mat in the moment to create and find balance today. The ego-mind loves to say “ah yes this is it, now I have the answer forever and never have to think about it”. Combining mind and intuition creates a moment by moment check-in of what is in alignment NOW, taking habits into account and thoughtfully creating harmony. If you only ever do downward dog the same way, you will get the same results, and what we need to feel alive and nourished changes every day. Please don’t let your mind rule you on what is right or wrong, on or off your mat. Embody your innate yogic wisdom, be curious and discover your happy-place in this moment!
Teaching yoga is one of the most rewarding and joyful experiences of my life. The trust I am given to create a container for others to explore their edges is an incredible gift. The unraveling of ego attachments and the exploration of the inner world is a sacred endeavor, and I am grateful to assist the journey.
I started to notice a phenomenon a couple years ago. I’ve dubbed it the “often occupied” human. They are waiting at the doctor’s office, in line at the post office, waiting for their food to be served at a restaurant, walking down the street, sitting in the park… one thing that clearly characterizes the “often occupied” human is their technological device. Perhaps you’ve seen them as well.
You may fall under this categorization from time to time. I’ve noticed that “waiting” becomes something we can’t possibly waste our time with, so we must be “doing” something while we wait, i.e. – checking the phone.
I had a habit of this as well, and when I purposefully did not “occupy” myself while “waiting”, I felt like the odd person out. Like I wasn’t cool enough to have something to put my attention towards while I was sitting quietly, passing the time until my name was called, it was my turn, or I had something else to use my hands, eyes, and brain for.
We are at a stage in human evolution that we have never been before – we have an intimate, and sometimes insecure, relationship with technology. People can be available almost any time of day or night. You can text, call, FaceTime, Facebook, Skype, SnapChat, email and use many other methods to get in touch with someone, whenever you feel like it. For some people, the device has become like an extra appendage, something they may not be able to conceptualize their world without.
Our technology use has grown unchecked, we haven’t necessarily mindfully adapted to its presence. If you’ve ever had any type of pet or weed (even a good kind), that has endless resources and doesn’t get carefully tended – it can become an obnoxious, unhealthy problem.
While struggling several weeks ago with some dark personal emotions – I noticed I had a habit of checking my phone almost immediately when I woke up in the morning. And while waiting in line, or at a red light, or any moment something “wasn’t happening”. After a long, late night of having no choice but to sit with my sadness and listen to the message it had for me, I realized I had been abandoning myself and my need for my own attention by checking in with the virtual world before I checked in with myself.
Many of inspirations that emerged for me to look more closely at my technology use, and that of the broader society, came from reading the book “The Power of Off: The Mindful Way to Stay Sane in a Virtual World” by Nancy Colier. The day after I decided to delete Facebook and FB-Messenger from my phone, I was recommended this insightful and thought-provoking book. Good timing.
I realized any moment of “waiting” became boring compared to taking a peek inside my device to see what was going on in the digital realm. My media-mania was causing me to desert the present moment. Checking my device was inhibiting my ability to connect with the real world – the one that is made of matter and energy, people, plants and the planet – the world that is not always uplifting, inspiring or easeful.
The most profound realization I’ve had is: if checking our devices is a way to avoid feeling an uncomfortable emotion – a cornerstone of being human – we are less skilled, prepared, or able to sit with other people when they are experiencing dark emotions (like sadness, boredom, displeasure, annoyance, irritation, lethargy, etc.). For me, this is a key element of real community – our ability to be with one another in difficult times, to address necessary discomforts to learn and grow together.
One thing we believe we have with social media circles and online communities is a greater connection to more people. Yet, are we missing out on the people and moment right in front of us, by choosing to instead connect with the virtual field?
More recently I’ve been inquiring into the moments I would habitually check the phone. What am I experiencing in this moment that I’d rather not, and thus I use my phone as a way of running away?
It is not my intention to completely bash the digital world – one of my jobs is being a virtual assistant and I love the work I do. I love the benefits of social media to keep me connected to family and friends all over the world. I also notice, like anything, there is a fine balance – is our relationship with technology medicine or poison?
The challenging part of technology is how socially acceptable it is. Most people don’t think twice about someone checking their phone, but they may feel disconnected by it. For example, have you been hanging out with a friend in the midst of a great conversation or activity, and then someone’s phone makes a bing, and all of a sudden there is something else they are attending to? Whatever was happening in or through the phone took precedence over the moment you were both inhabiting together. Our devices are tools, and they can be distractions.
Are you interested in investigating your personal tech use?
- Start by observing your current behavior with your device. How often do you check it? When are some typically times you notice you do check (when you wake up, waiting in line)? What is the feeling you have when you want to check it, but you don’t?
- Notice how other people use their device. Ask yourself, how does it feel to be the human who isn’t being paid attention to? Or, would I feel comfortable using my device in a scenario like this?
Here are some tips for how to mindfully use your media:
- Create periods of time where you are unreachable – while at a class or event, for an afternoon hike in the woods, or taking a trip to the store without it.
- Commit to not engaging with the device until being awake for X minutes (you choose). For example, I established an agreement with myself to not check my phone for a minimum of 20-60 minutes after I wake up. What could you cherish in that time?
- Likewise, commit to not engaging with technology for a period of time before going to bed.
- Set up “tech-on” and “tech-off” times. For example, don’t check social media between the hours of 9pm – 9am, and 12pm – 3pm.
- Set up a Digital Detox for one day a month.
I’m not calling for throwing our devices away, I’m asking us all to become more mindful of the way we use them, and in doing so, discovering more about ourselves and our communities. If you are interested in learning more I recommend Nancy Colier’s book, “The Power of Off“. Please share your insights and what you discover about your relationship with technology.
My grandfather is James Blanton. He is my only remaining grandparent. He is 89 years old, and he is dying.
I recently visited my grandfather at the nursing home where he lives in Michigan. His body is dissolving, his comforts are dismantling, yet is mind and memory are quite sharp.
During my visit to the Midwest, I read a best-selling book called “Hillbilly Elegy” (2016) by author J.D. Vance. It is a memoir of a young man’s life growing up in the Midwest, and his experience of childhood and his hillbilly roots. Without giving too much away (or boring you), I learned after WWII there was a massive migration of industrial factory workers from areas in Appalachia, such as poor communities in Kentucky, to regions of the Midwest. The book gave a lens into a way of living for working class whites that I was unaware of, and yet more intimately connected to than I realized.
I cannot directly relate to the “hillbilly” lifestyle. But I learned my mother’s childhood was parallel in some ways. My grandfather left Kentucky as a young man. He grew up poor. He worked long and hard to provide for his family. He fell into patterns of addiction and stress. His children have varying degrees of closeness and connection to each other, as do their individual families to the larger extended family.
I grew up middle class, also in the Midwest. I had access to good schools, extra-curricular activities inside and outside of school, and a strong community of friends. I did not grow up living near my extended family, although we visited regularly.
During my recent trip home to Wisconsin and Michigan to visit my family, I read this book, from which I had a lens to look at human relationships, something I am fascinated by.
Within each generation, there are values and patterns that are passed down to the next generation. If done so consciously, the good can be continued, and the harmful can be healed. Of course, there are mistakes made (we are human!), and I’m learning the value in forgiving the mistakes and the importance of understanding the lineage of my family.
The values my family line holds were valued for a reason. These values include loyalty, desire for future generations to have access to a better way of life than the current generation, a commitment to family, and a high respect and value of education.
I am experiencing a mild cognitive dissonance. There is a love my family provides to me that is unmatched by anyone else. They have known me my entire life, we share genes and a family history that I don’t share with friends. Likewise, I chose to leave the Midwest, to pursue my desire for a different way of life, to be surrounded by like-minded, similar life-style individuals. My life on the West Coast has allowed me to thrive, something I felt I wouldn’t do the same way in the Midwest. I had to give up some of the family ties in order to move far away. I can relate to the struggle Appalachia migrants encountered by moving away from their roots in order to create a new life.
In this country, whose population is largely immigrants, whose grandparents’ culture and ethnic roots spread far and wide, I’ve felt lost at times to know any values of my ancestors that I would like to carry forward. Reading this book, speaking with my mother and taking a more inquisitive look at my family has given me insight into the honorable ideals that my family holds.
A culture is created by social norms that are consciously or unconsciously replicated. As humans, we learn to be human by mimicking those who surrounded us. As we become adults we can choose to continue some of the cultural and behavioral norms or to create new ones.
In a time in history where we can move almost anywhere, and become whomever we’d like to be, why is it important to maintain the link to our relatives and what they have deemed important? What is the value of continuing the thread through generations? It allows us to stay connected. This connection is something I can foster with the generations to come, to embody the positive attributes of my hard-working lineage and instill in those I care for, and request from those I choose to be around.
In this “melting pot”, we can sometimes become judgmental of those who are different. And I’m learning to respect the differences even more because those patterns and habits have remained for a reason. And if I’m struggling to see or understand the value of a behavior pattern, I can ask how it is serving someone (or a group).
I’ve heard so many times that we are “creating a new paradigm” – I believe it, and I’m grateful. AND I see the value is honoring pieces of the “old paradigm” that have value. A strong commitment to community, the hard work and dedication required to provide a comfortable life for your loved ones, and the loyalty –which requires forgiveness– to remain in relationship with people who have hurt us, whether on purpose or not.
Respect, Inquiry, and Forgiveness are essential to continue to relate to others for many years. Because we will mess up, we will unintentionally hurt others. And with awareness perhaps this can happen less often.
What do you want to carry forward? What do you need to forgive? What do you want to do differently?
- What are some of the values you know your family lineage has honored?
- Do you choose to embody the positives?
- What are you actively doing to heal the harmful behavior that you recognize doesn’t serve anymore?
- How do you honor your ancestors and their roots?
I’ve spent the first 2+ weeks of June in the Sierras of California. One of my favorite places to be is in the mountains in the woods.
Since my last post, James and I have attended three events – Lightning in a Bottle, SoulPlay Festival, and N.C.D.C. Dance Camp. I sit here, relishing at how different these events are, and yet they have a common thread – they bring humans together outside of cities.
LIB is an event that boasts incredible art, DJs, and performers and draws a crowd of 20,000+.
SoulPlay focuses on the spark of connection, sharing intimacy, embodiment, spending time in nature and establishing community, with a crowd rounding out at 400 people.
N.C.D.C Dance Camp is a 200+ person event near the epic Giant Sequoia Trees of the Sierras. There are multiple dance classes a day, dance every night a clothing optional lake and children join the fun!
Just as these events are vastly different in their audience, my experience of them was worlds apart. LIB was chilly, and I biked over a mile from my camp to the venue. SoulPlay had SNOW on the last day of the event, causing the strike crew to warm up around the fire during rest periods of cleaning up. N.C.D.C. had thunder strikes and flashes of heat lightning with a backdrop of stunning stars and the Milky Way.
Reflecting upon these events allows me to see how they fed different aspects of myself, and to remember the parts I love the most – being in nature, spending quality time with friends I adore, dancing my heart open, and sharing the gift of yoga with students new and old.
In between these events I was blessed to explore Yosemite National Park and Sequoia National Park. I give thanks for a couple epic weeks in some of the most magical places California has to offer. Tomorrow I get on a plane to go back to Wisconsin to visit my family for a couple weeks.
Life doesn’t stop shifting and changing – and being amazing. As I rest on the brink of Summer Solstice – the longest day of the year – I notice the flow of life and the paradox that lives within it. After the longest daylight, we move back towards less light, but the heat of summer is just emerging.
Honoring the Divine Mother, I spent Mother’s Day weekend at Shakti Fest, a yoga, kirtan and conscious-living festival honoring the Feminine, placed lovingly at Joshua Tree Retreat Center in Southern California.
Shakti Fest curates some of the most insightful minds in the yoga, kirtan and conscious living worlds, such as Shiva Rae, Mark Whitwell, Saul David Raye, Mas Vidal, Hemaylayaa, Jai Uttal and Fannah Fi Allah, among many others.
I have been a yoga practitioner for over ten years. Time on my mat helps me cultivate my intuition and my ability to listen deeply to guidance available in any moment. During the weekend, guidance lead me to lectures and discussions, and away from packed yoga halls with uplifting live music. I realize most people, at least from what I’ve observed in the United States, who practice yoga stick to asana, and for whatever reason, I was called to drop in with a different form of wisdom.
I participated in a discussion and public reading of The Radiance Sutras by Lorin Roche, Ph.D. This commentary is a colorful translation of an ancient hymn that captures the illumination of life. This engaging lecture reminded me that in the sincerity of our wonder and curiosity the cosmos respond with illogical magnificence. If in our questions we seek only answers, there is a dryness (like the desert!), but when we commitment to living in a state of awe and wonder, life reveals its beauty and magic continuously.
I practiced pranayama with Mas Vidal, a student of Paramahansa Yogananda, and chanted So-Hum, Hum-Sa in a room of 100+ people, vibrating with the purr of the harmonium, and felt energy ripple up my spine, shiver and shake over the crown of my head and expand my energetic body and awareness well beyond my skin.
My weekend in the desert imprinted on me no one particular teaching, saying or moment of “enlightenment”, rather the profound impact I had was the feeling of stability and truth in the vibration of these incredible teachers. I was in the presence of individuals who have been committed to their personal practices for decades. Many of these teachers are walking the talk, making self-inquiry and self-care a discipline, that at times is surely difficult and perhaps uninspiring, yet over time leads to a profound steadiness of insight and connection to Source.
I was deeply inspired by the reminder that 4-6am is a POWERFUL time, and Saturday morning of the event I woke to watch the sunrise over the mountains, painting the landscape an iridescent gold, with Joshua Tree’s playfully extending towards the sky, somehow saying – “Hey Sun, thanks for the rays. I will do my best to grow strong here in this intense climate.” It is as though a glowing jewel emerged from a vast, dark, oceanic sky. I know I could have a mentality a bit more like a Joshua Tree, grateful, steadfast and bizarrely beautiful.
I’ve committed myself the gift of early morning rising, to experience this paradoxically lively and peaceful time of day. I was reminded of the energy that is available for us to receive when we awake at such an hour. It fuels me more than an extra hour or so of sleep, or a coffee ever could. When I wake up with the sun it’s as though I’m swimming directly in its energy, pulsing and shimmering, heightening my senses and calming my mind. I am inspired to fully commit to the practices that connect me to myself and the Great Mystery, and trust that the path will unfold before me, perfectly.
I, like many of you, can get caught in “What am I doing? What is my purpose here?”. I realized that spending time every day slowing down, breathing and reverently honoring Divinity within me through self-care practices, means I will be in alignment consistently. And I trust the guidance I receive when I’m in alignment.
During the weekend, I saw more smiling faces than I would walking through a hugely crowded city. I’m reminded of how important it is to attend events like Shakti Fest, and experience beautiful natural environments, like Joshua Tree. It is imperative to connect with other uplifted, inspired, enthusiastic people, so that when we go back to a world of metal, cement and gray streets and skies, we bring the light of the sun, and the subtle vibrancy, stability and consistency of the desert back with us.