Immobile Body, Mobile Spirit.

After being immobile on my back in excruciating pain from a spasm for two days, I’m finally able to sit up on my own.  My cat just coughed up a hairball on my couch – which ocean ebb on beach
would require me prying myself out of my recliner in order to clean it up..but I’m picking my battles right now.  The hairball will wait. As will, unfortunately, the kid’s and adult yoga classes that I love teaching, the physical training I am doing with my husband and son for a spartan race, and the laundry.

Yesterday I couldn’t sit up to read or focus on anything, so today I am especially grateful that I can extend my arms, t-rex style, enough to type out this blog post.  I’m grateful that I could hold my prayer book on my lap and recite the daily blessings of my tradition.  I’m grateful I can sing again. (did I mention I was also super sick right before the back went  out?)

One of the daily blessings (nisim b’chol yom) is gratitude to Adonai, our God, who lifts up the fallen.  (Zokeif k’fufim)  Another way to interpret this is gratitude for rising to a new day.  And I am certainly thankful for that.  To rise up, to breathe without pain,  (unlike yesterday) and to have the gift of life.  A deeper appreciation for the other morning prayers arose for me…modah ani, thank you God for restoring my soul to me upon awakening, for giving me another opportunity to live as fully as a can, with what I have available.  Asher yatzar,  praised be God who created this body, and all the pathways and openings that allow for harmony within…this heart beating, these sacred breaths…the ability to use the bathroom – seriously, I take that one for granted.  Instead of saying, “Oh man, I have to pee again?” I can say , “Yes! I get to pee again!”  I can fine tune my perception, and see my life through the lens of gratitude and awe, central themes in the Jewish tradition.

As much as I detest being sick, feeling weak, and slowing down, I also know that there is a natural ebb and flow to  our lives.  It cannot be all flow, all the time.  A non- stop beautiful ocean wave is called a tsunami.  Not so fun.

So I will embrace the ebb in my life this week. I will use it as an opportunity to listen more deeply to the still small voice within.  I will  be vulnerable in offering up my voice, and sharing myself in this way. And I will embrace the sacred insights of my soul as they rise up, written in the sand, before the next wave comes in.

Namaste and Shalom,

Kendra

Steep in the tea of gratitude for Thanksgiving – A 5 minute meditation

heart_tea_cup1

“Hakarat Hatov” means  “recognizing the good” in Hebrew.

In Sanskrit, the practice of “Santosha” or “contentment” has similar meaning.

We often call it gratitude, or thanksgiving.  It is fairly easy to list a few things or people for whom you are grateful, but I invite you to take 3-4 minutes to actually fully embody gratitude…To notice the profound effect it has on your body, your heart, your breath, your spirit.

Find a comfortable place to sit and gently close your eyes.
Imagine you are a hot, steamy cup of water, preparing to make of yourself a tea of gratitude.
Take a few breaths for each of the ingredients you add to your tea.

Your infusion includes “hakarat hatov” of the following:

1) ONE  part of your body that is working well
2) ONE person in your life
3) ONE basic need that is met for you (example, clean water, heat, etc)
4) ONE  luxury you enjoy (for this, bring to mind all the people and activities that have come together to make this luxury available to you.  Feel your interconnectedness with them, and the ways you support each other)
5) Steep in this tea. Notice the changes in your body and mind, as you take in the good of your life.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Namaste and L’Shalom,
Kendra

A quote to live by!

“Your life is an occasion…rise to it.”

– Suzanne Weyn, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium. (GREAT movie)

new year hat

I heard a radio commercial the other day, and the folks were saying how they loved the station because it “made their day go by faster.” Or it helped them to “not be bored at work.” Wow. These statements touched me deeply, as I remember a time in my life when I wanted the day to hurry by. Now these comments really stand out for me and cause me to feel some sadness and compassion for those of us that want to hurry to “something or somewhere” better than the moment.

My 5 year old son gets asthma from time to time. In fact, he had pneumonia for 8 days over the holiday break from school. EVERY BREATH was a gift to him. And EVERY MOMENT that he, or any of us have breath and a heartbeat is a gift. Not to be rushed, to be cherished. Soak up each moment of your life. You don’t get to have today back when it’s over. Life truly is an occasion, a privilege. Let’s all to rise to it.

Namaste,
Kendra

Hand Mudra for New Year and More!

pushan mudra right handpushan mudra left hand

So I’m pretty excited about this new book I’ve just discovered – It’s called Yoga in Your Hands.  I won’t try to explain the process by which mudra works, for the author does that succinctly and eloquently.  I will however, share with you one of the mudras I have been using for a recent health challenge.   I also think it is perfect for the New Year – a way to let go  and bless the old, and invite in the new.  It would be perfect to use with a cleanse.

I believe mudras are effective because there is a combination of powerful forces at work.  One, you are bringing mindfulness to your body/mind while breathing.  Two, these hand positions stimulate specific meridians based on Chinese medicine that are scientifically known to create results.  And three, if you use an affirmation with the mudra, you are training your very malleable brain (its called plasticity), to create new pathways for positive thought and a chemical release that aids  healing of the whole organism.  So without further ado, let us begin.

Its called the Pushan Mudra, dedicated to nourishment.  Here is an overview of how to do this:

Place your hands as you see them in the photos above, resting on your lap. You can sit in meditation or lie down to do this, or perhaps make good use of time while you are in a waiting room…

During the inhalation, take in energy in the form of light.  Pause, and give time and space to imagine the light spreading within you.  During exhalation, let the expended light flow back out of you.  Pause after the exhale. With every breath, there is more light and clarity in your physical and mental/emotional realms.  (In the beginning, you may envision the exhale to contain darkness or smoke, something that encompasses what you are releasing, and then you may sense it becoming clearer).

You can also say the following affirmation, either as written here or in words that resonate with you.

” I thankfully accept everything that is good for me, let it have its effect within me, and release everything that is spent.”

As the author states, “This mudra symbolizes accepting and receiving with the gesture of one hand, and letting things flow, giving, and letting go with the other.  It influences the energy currents that are responsible for absorbing and utilizing food, as well as helping with elimination.  It intensifies breathing and therefore the absorption of oxygen and the release of carbon dioxide in the lungs.  It has a relaxing effect on the solar plexus (area of the stomach, liver, spleen, and gallbladder) and regulates energies in the autonomic nervous system.  It mobilizes energies of elimination, and detoxifies.  It has an excellent effect on general or acute nausea, motion sickness, flatulence, and the sensation of being overly full.”

It works on the physical level, but I believe it works on the psycho-spiritual level as well, when you practice  it with intention. I think its also a wonderful way to incorporate the healing of yogic practices for those who are bed bound or unable to do much physically because it’s accessible and simple.

I hope you will try it for yourself and notice the benefits.  I highly recommend this book for those who want to dive deeper into background and continue exploring the other mudras.  Yoga in Your Hands, by Gertrude Hirschi

Namaste!
Kendra

Soul Compass

wheelertrees

 “Two roads diverged in a wood and I,

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.” – Frost

Are you at a crossroads in your life right now?  Perhaps a big one – a job change, a health choice, a relationship issue?  Or maybe a small crossroads, like say, what to have for your next meal?

I had an epiphany today while practicing yoga. Every moment is a crossroads, and even the ones that feel small, aren’t.   Every moment in which we are mindful gives us a powerful opportunity to choose the highest choice for ourselves and the world. Rather than wandering along aimlessly in life, we can align ourselves with our soul’s compass.

My soul compass, originally a gift from God or the Universe, has been affected by years of collective karma and conditioning (mine and my ancestors). I envision it sometimes as being tarnished and slightly sticky, so that occasionally it has trouble pointing to true north.  However, the more I practice being present, the more easily I make life nourishing choices. These positive choices lubricate the soul compass, so that it naturally points me toward my sacred path for the next crossroads to come.

My true north is one of being a spiritual healer, minister, teacher, and guide. In order to stay on course, I often have to choose the road less traveled.  It definitely requires me to make choices that do not allow me to numb out.  How can I ever be present and truly effective for others, both professionally and as a family member, if I am not in touch with myself?

How do you numb out?  Is it television or video games? Gossip?  Alcohol or recreational drugs?  Over scheduling?  We all have something. But each and every moment that we meet courageously and consciously can be used to create new karma, new results.  Each moment is a chance to polish and tune up your soul compass. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been doing “so and so.”  Right now is your crossroads, and your soul compass can lead you on the divine path toward wholeness.

I invite you to explore taking the road less traveled.  Once you traverse over the weeds and through the density of old conditioning, you will come to a clearing – and the journey will be well worth your effort.  Namaste!

What Are You Doing Right Now?

question mark in sand

The other day I found myself frantically cleaning the kitchen.  Dishes were piled everywhere, healthy smoothie remnants were stuck to the counters, and general evidence of a very hasty departure from our home in an effort to get Evan off to preschool.   So there I was, faced with a job that is not on my favorites list.  I wanted to wave my magic wand and make it instantaneously clean and perfect.  THEN, this interruption would be over and I could get back to living my real life (aka, the shiny, pretty stuff that appeals to my ego).

Thankfully, the wisdom of my spiritual teachers arose in my mind….There are no interruptions.  I’m not missing out on a “parallel reality.”  Nowhere else I’m supposed to be.  Life is right here, right now.  I could choose to embrace it, or resist it.  And then the the inquiry arose…how can I be nourished by this moment rather than depleted by it?  I began to put into practice the moment to moment question, “What am I doing right now?”  At first the answers were generalized, like “I’m unloading the dishwasher.” But I soon recognized that I needed to fine tune my awareness.  And as I remained fully present in the moment  the quality of my answers changed.  They became, “I am putting the cups away.”  Then, “I am putting THIS cup away.”  Then,  “I am reaching for the cup.”  Gradually, this whole kitchen cleaning process was becoming a moving mindfulness meditation.   I was slowing down.  And I  discovered that I was being deeply nourished.   I wasn’t thinking about what to reach for next.  I was utterly and completely in relationship to my environment, the objects around me, and to myself.

In the beginning this exercise felt strange and even frustrating.  It didn’t take long for me to notice how often I am mentally on to the next activity…which feels energetically depleting and thoroughly unsatisfying.  But when I gave myself to the moment, it actually fed me.  It was a glorious experience in the chaos of my kitchen.  It was a glorious peek at how I can tend to “do” life.  The magic wand was mindfulness.  It didn’t make the kitchen clean, but it did make it perfect.

What are YOU doing right now?