in the flow: day five

in the flow with oprah & deepak

day five: finding expression

centering thought: my truth and creativity are within.

sanskrit mantra: ham – ‘i am creativity’

 ~*~

charly

earlier this week, i talked about my yellow phase. yellow, the color of the third chakra, the seat of power and individuation. well, when my yellow phase faded away along with my sense of power and autonomy, i slipped right into blue.

blue. the color of the throat chakra. the fifth chakra. the one associated with creativity, voice, and expression.

when i started learning about the chakras, it made complete sense that over the past few years i may have been “stuck” or “working through” this chakra. at the beginning of this phase, i was trying to find and create a place of my own, where i could be creative and express myself. it was throughout the phase that i returned to my first love, writing, and decided to commit myself to it in a new and serious way. it was in this phase that i found myself rebuilding and learning to trust my voice. trying to really understand the concept that my truth and creativity are within. trying to understand that if someone doesn’t understand my truth, it doesn’t always mean that my truth is “wrong”. it can mean i haven’t found the right words, that i haven’t tapped into my power to support my expression, or that, well, the person misunderstanding may not ever understand–and that’s okay.

these are lessons i am continuing to learn these days. which is why i’m not surprised that i still find myself drawn to blue.

yesterday, i went out to lunch with a friend of mine and we discussed how we are introverts and the good things and bad things we experience because of it. we discussed how our proclivity toward silence often causes people to jump on our opinions more forcefully when and if we do speak up. and often, because we rather stay quiet more often than not, we find ourselves not speaking up at all or shrinking away from expressing our truth in full.

i added that often this reaction from people caused me to question my thoughts, my voice, my expression. i allowed this reaction to deny my creativity, my truth. i may have been coming to this blog frequently to express myself, but in everyday life i, more often than thought, chose quiet instead.

deepak chopra mentioned in the meditation today that it takes energy to block the flow, to block expression and in many ways, i think i am tired from all the energy expended trying to block it all. so i’m trying to continue working, opening up. trusting that my truth and creativity are there, here, within. trusting my voice to express myself and my beliefs without shying away from them.

this, as is everything, is a process.

a work in progress.

 

selena

What’s not to love about Fridays, right? Since I started learning about the chakras I’ve added a few more reasons, because Fridays I dedicate to the throat chakra, which is all about today’s topic: creative and honest expression.

Here is the mantra-in-progress I’ve been sculpting over the years:

“I am as open as the Great Blue Sky.

I am capable of honest, creative expression, able to reveal the innermost truths of my mind, body, and spirit through

speech, song, and the written word;

poetry an prose;

gesture, movement, and dance;

through deeds,

through actions,

through energy.

May the best of my being-Divinity itself-be that which I give to the world.”

As I’ve been sharing my personal mantras with all of you this week some unexpected things have happened. I’ve never really shared them with anyone, which has made me nervous for a host of reasons. Mixing part of my favorite novel (The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant) and an explanation I once heard an actress give about her own religious practice, somewhere in my mind there is a superstition claiming that a person only shares her personal mantras upon her deathbed. I don’t think I ever wanted to believe there was any truth to that superstition. My anxiety about sharing my mantras is as quotidian as most of my fears-and, in fact, is just another manifestation of the same one that follows me into many aspects of life: the fear of being judged and deemed unworthy.

One thing I didn’t expect before writing my mantras was that they would appear as poetry. In elementary school it was easy to have confidence in my skill as a writer (growing up in California during The Self-Esteem Movement, there were even ribbons and certificates for last place, and recognition as “honorable mention”), and in middle and high school I even thought was as lame a gift as a superhero whose power is “hyper-empathy”.

So I abandoned it.

And I lost it.

And I wondered if I’d ever get it back.

In graduate school I wrote a choreo-play, in an attempt to regain a connection to my ability to paint pictures with words, while adding on my recently developing skills in dance, and the old cliché about valuing something when it’s too late mocked me. Unlike another cliché, writing isn’t like riding a bike: it evolves. I think the best writers have brought their skill along with them like an appendage, expanding and contracting along with their growing bodies and minds. Although I may not have left writing by the wayside for long, it was long enough to feel like we were childhood friends reunited as adults, not sure if our new selves would get along as well as we did in our former existences.

But I’ve decided to be brave.

And so, I’m here.

Writing. Sharing. Attempting to reclaim and express my innermost truths to myself and with the world, simultaneously.

There was so much in what Oprah and Deepak shared today that touched my heart, but it was the last line that I will carry with me today. Deepak concisely reminded me why the action that became the namesake of this project, the act of finding our flow, is a venture worthy of our faith and energy:

“In this flow you can accept and honor yourself for who you are.”

-Deepak Chopra

 May it be so.

Namaste.

-Selena La’Chelle

in the flow: day four

love

in the flow with oprah & deepak

day four: finding love

centering thought: my love and compassion are within.

sanskrit mantra: vam – ‘i am love’

 

selena

This morning I was moved by Oprah’s assertion that love is the opposite of anger, and Deepak’s suggestion to treat our own harsh judgments and trespasses against ourselves as though they only as significant as a small faux pas made by a beloved houseguest.

I am one of those people who, under certain circumstances, others might perceive as a perfectionist. I am the kind of person who knows how to be patient with others, but can be heartbreakingly judgmental with myself. However, one of the reasons I chose to develop my meditation practice was because I noticed that judgmental streak beginning to bleed out into the world as well. I noticed where my first wrinkles were developing: across my forehead and around my mouth. No: it wasn’t from lots of surprises and smiles, but rather from wide-eyed expressions of “Are you kidding me?” and scowls of “Ugh. Really?” At barely thirty years of age I no longer felt wise beyond my years, as my grandma once described me, but simply grumpy beyond them instead. Somehow, when I wasn’t watching, I’d started to become bitter.

I started focusing more on meditation and less on asana, and began studying the other branches of yoga as well. I began looking into the yamas and niyamas, as well as studying the foundations of Buddhism, because I felt like something was missing. It was as though I no longer trusted myself and my connection to the Divine that had been awakened by asana practice. I sought guidance from without, rather than within, for the first time in years.

But then I started meditating.

And my inner guide revealed herself once more.

If you’ve ever attempted to meditate you’ve probably played The Thought Game.

“The Thought Game”, you ask?

You know what I mean: like Julia Roberts’ depiction of Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love, who, eyes closed, sits on her cushion telling herself not to think, then thinking about meditating, then thinking about carving out a space in her home to meditate once she leaves the ashram, then thinking a whole bunch of time must have elapsed (when, in fact it had only been a few seconds). You know, The Thought Game.

Well, one day I was playing The Thought Game, and something I’d half-understood while listening to one of my Buddhist podcasts happened: I really was able to see myself thinking. It was like a space opened up, like I saw two versions of myself: the one whose thoughts were spinning out of control like a child playing a game of make-believe, but that “me” turned around for moment and saw a wiser version of herself simply beaming a warm smile at her.

And the thoughts stopped.

Just for a second, mind you, but they stopped.

Then they started up again (of course), but when that busy version of myself paused to look back again, she felt herself in the glow of the nonjudgmental version of my/herself once more. And I was at peace.

This experience happened a few times more when I practiced, then went away. Now I think about it in a lot of ways: sure, it was probably just another round of The Thought Game itself, but there more to it than that. I don’t think it was actually God watching me, but it was something akin to it. It was as though I was able to identify with my most loving and wisest part of myself, rather than identifying with my mind, the place from which I usually experience the world, the part I say is “me”. Most importantly, I knew that that wiser version was the real me, the me that is waiting for the rest of me to settle into.

When I was in college my biggest fear was to become a self-serving addition to the world. In graduate school my therapist told me I would never be selfish, that I wouldn’t let it happen. I wanted so much to believe her, to make it true, and so I created a mantra for Thursdays, honoring the heart chakra, that goes something like this:

 

“I am loving and beloved.

The essence of my being never has and never will be selfish,

for the essence of my being is Divinity itself.”

I finish it with a prayer for those in need:

“May the homeless receive safe, comfortable shelter.

May the hungry receive nutritious, satisfying meals.

May the thirsty receive clean, replenishing drink.

May the mentally ill find clarity and peace.

May the physically ill receive effective, affordable treatment that leaves them better than they began-by their own standards.

May the spiritually ill feel the love of the Divine infused in the self, in the connection to others, in all of life and the universe itself.

Namaste.”

Today I will strive to be gentle with myself, smiling from the place of my wiser, nonjudgmental me. When I hear myself saying those self-effacing things we tend say so casually, I will smile as I do with young children who err, knowing they have so much to learn-and loving them for it.

May it be so.

-Selena La’Chelle

 

charly

like yesterday’s, today’s meditation was set-up differently. instead of walking back to my apartment for it, i decided to try meditating at my boyfriend’s apartment. as we plan to move in together in the fall, i know eventually i will have to find a calm, quiet meditation routine in a home that has both us and a dog (or two). so i set up shop right by his lovely great big windows. i put a pillow down, turned to let him know i was starting, smiled, and pressed play.

as soon as the meditation was starting, i heard the pit-pat of paws. it is not unusual for george, my pup, to come and sniff me during a meditation. i am sure it is a bit strange for him to see me on the ground, not really moving or responding to him. so i welcome the sniffs, the soft grumbles, and the eventual plop i feel as he relaxes beside me. so today i smiled when i heard him and then took a deep breath to relax and let go.

but that wasn’t the end of it…

squeak! squeak…squeak…squeak!

george had one of his squeak toys with him. and he was squeaking it. over and over again. not only that, he was hitting the toy up against me. george wanted to play. i smiled and didn’t move. i took a deep breath and tried to let thoughts go.

squeak. squeak. squeak.

george dropped the toy on my hand, which was palm up to receive energy and love. i placed the toy in my lap and returned my hand to its position.

this didn’t make george happy.

so he started grumbling. loudly. i could feel him trying to figure out the best way to climb over me and to the toy. so eventually, still with my eyes closed, i placed the toy to the side of me and tried to return to my meditation.

george must have thought we were playing because he grabbed the toy and started squeaking it. again. he dropped it on me. again. when i didn’t move, he went, grabbed another squeak toy, and did it again. at this point, my boyfriend tried to get george to stop. i heard him walk over, pick george up, and return to the couch.

and for a moment it was quiet. i took a deep breath in and settled back into the meditation.

but, of course, it was too good to be true. a few moments later, george jumped down off the couch and barked as he ran back toward me.

i smiled, didn’t move, and just breathed deeply. about a minute later, george calmed. i felt him plop down nearby with no squeak toy in his mouth and i tried my best to center myself for the rest of the meditation.

all of the above was probably only three to four minutes in length, but of course it affected the rest of the meditation….and not in the way i expected.

love. this meditation was really about connecting to the sense of love that we hold within. we are all love. our true nature is love. this meditation was about connecting to the love of self and in self.

at first i was worried that i wasn’t getting it. that all the love i was feeling was outwardly focused…or connected.

because i felt love shoot through me as george squeaked his toy. i wasn’t annoyed. i wasn’t frustrated. i was filled with love for this little thing who has no idea what i was doing. i was filled with love when my boyfriend tried his best to calm george so that i could meditate in peace. i was filled with love when everything settled around me.

but then i was filled with doubt. toward the end of meditation, despite my best efforts to keep my mind clear, i thought of several situations that had frustrated me in the past few weeks. all of them left me feeling unappreciated and, well, unloved.

and i smiled to myself. reaching this point was, in some ways, inevitable. it gave me the chance to breathe, let go, and return to the mantra. vam. vam. i am love. i am love.

no need to feel unloved because i am love. no need to feel unloved because i have all the love i need inside. no need to feel unloved because i am surrounded by love.

when the meditation ended, i turned to my boyfriend and we smiled. “i took pictures,” he said.

georgemed

in the flow: day three

live in strength

in the flow with oprah & deepak

day three: finding power

centering thought: my power and strength are within

sanskrit mantra: ‘ram’ – i am strength

~*~

charly

change and difference. shifts and shimmies.

today felt different in more ways than one.

today’s meditation had to happen a little differently due to my schedule changing. instead of starting my day with the meditation, it fell right in the middle of the day. late afternoon, after i had worked a bit, eaten lunch, and was finally back home to do my writing work.

the changes continued as i decided to meditate in my bedroom. my pup, george, had cuddled up in his bed in there and, for some reason, i wanted to be near him during the meditation. maybe i didn’t want to feel alone. i’m not sure what it was, but that combined with the sunlight coming through my bedroom windows (the light in my bedroom is especially beautiful in the afternoons) made me plop down on my bedroom floor.

from the start of the meditation, i felt vulnerable–evidenced by wanting to be closer to a living thing. i could feel my mind going to some not-so-strong feeling places as i pressed play to get going. for some reason, i could feel tears forming in my eyes and i could feel a part of me resisting. i wasn’t sure i wanted to close my eyes in this state.

i wasn’t sure i wanted to sit.

but that is the whole point, right? to sit. especially when it is hard.

so i sat and listened. as i listened to deepak and oprah discussing power and strength, i thought of the third chakra. one could go on and on about the chakras, but the following are the details that came up for me: the third chakra is associated with power, will, energy, authority, individuation, and more. it is associated with the seed sound/mantra “ram” (which is what we were repeating today). and it is also associated with the color yellow….

i went through a yellow phase my senior year of college that lasted about a year and a half. i didn’t know then that it is also associated with the third chakra and power, etc. but looking back, it makes sense that i was drawn to that color, to that chakra, at that time. i was embarking on a time of my life when i both felt filled with power and strength and also felt as though i would need to draw from them heavily. it is not surprising to me that when i felt a loss of power at the end of that period, that my yellow phase came to an end too.

as i closed my eyes and meditated, i saw the color yellow again and again. this is where the meditation started. but as i began to let thoughts go, the colors changed. i saw blue and purple, green and yellow. i saw red. they would come in flashes and then fade.

toward the end of the meditation, the colors stopped. and suddenly i was looking at pictures. in my mind. eyes closed. pictures i couldn’t always place. they were gray or sepia and they came in from the sides of my view and disappeared. i’ve seen images in my head before. like memories. but this time felt different. this time i felt like i was being shown clues to a mystery i didn’t know about, even though i couldn’t figure out what those clues meant.

and just like that, they were gone. no pictures. no colors.

moments later, the meditation ended.

when i opened my eyes, i felt shifted from where i was at the start of the meditation. on the website, today’s message for the meditation was this: During today’s meditation, our individual flow of energy will be joined by the flow of unlimited power—universal power. This connection can transform our outlook from one of fear and doubt into an easy confidence and strength as we let our life flow with the almighty force of nature.

i certainly felt that transformation today. i was so happy to have taken the time to sit and, for the first time in a long time, i left feeling the effects immediately. if only every meditation could feel as palpable…

(p.s. if you are interested in the chakras, pick up wheels of life or eastern mind, western body by anodea judith)

selena

Before I begin getting my thoughts down about today’s meditation, I wanted to share with you my mantra-in-progress for yesterday’s topic:

“There is immense beauty and abundant joy in the world. I am able to contribute to and relish in both, inhaling the Divine light I need to thrive, exhaling loving kindness with which I may feed the world.”

I generally follow Tuesday’s mantra with a gratitude prayer giving thanks for each of my senses in turn:

“Thank you for the gift of sight, by which I am able to experience light, and color, and patterns.

Thank you for the gift of smell, which allows me to be instantly soothed or energized by the presence of chemical compounds.

Thank you for the gift of taste, which allows me to savor my food rather than eat mechanically.

Thank you for the gift of hearing, which allows me to enjoy music, birdsong, and feel connected to my loved ones over great distances.

And thank you, querida Diosa, for the gift of touch, through which I found my connection to myself and to you.

Thank you for my senses, which keep me safe, while also connecting me to beauty.”

My reason to be grateful for the sense of touch may seem particularly peculiar if you are not a kinesthetic learner. I doubt that I was myself before the year I began dancing and practicing yoga. The year I came to dance and yoga I felt as though a light switch had clicked on, and suddenly I could see-inside. As someone who’d been raised to believe that her mind was her source of power and identity (and who, as a child wished she would wake up without the sense of touch so that she couldn’t feel the spankings of which she lived in fear), it was universe-altering to discover that there is a full body of knowledge living in my physical being which I had only to pause and take note. I finally understood there was more to be had by the sense of touch than altering us to physical danger. Which leads me back to today’s topic: power.

The mantra I’m developing for Wednesdays, dedicated to the solar plexus and center of power, goes something like this:

“The golden light of the Divine is within.

I have the power to achieve my goals, create life, and inspire renewal, for my strength is that of the Divine, who shines through me.

Gracias por confiar tanto en mi, querida Diosa.

May I use my power to make the world a better place.”

I added that last sentence on awhile back when I realized the privilege and responsibility that comes with immense power. I thought about the people whom we traditionally think of as powerful, as Oprah mentioned, and their responsibility to those around them. I thought about something my first yoga teacher once said, about having to consider the personality of the people to whom you hold up the mirror revealing to them their inner power, when he considered the possible reasons why one might hesitate before teaching yoga to people who have been convicted of murder. Then I thought again about myself. Whatever amount of power I may possess, I would like to say that I used it in service of others, and not merely myself.

I have to admit that more than the stress caused by insecurity over the last year, what has been most difficult for me to cope with has been a sense of powerlessness. I’ve always been the kind of person who plans for fun, literally filling up diaries and journals with “dream schedules” and ways to achieve my shifting goals. Living in Mexico for nearly six years has been perhaps the single most character-(re)forming experience of my life, and working here for the last five school years has been the most challenging. I have witnessed myself on an embarrassing rollercoaster of emotions and shifting worldviews that has been activated by a sense of powerlessness regarding my career advancement, my physical safety, and even my ability to choose where I live or when and how I return to my homeland. Yet, I have learned that each of these things, alone or combined, has not the ability to take away my true power.

My favorite part of what Deepak shared this morning was his description of what it feels like to be connected to one’s own power: silent, unassuming, self-assured. I remember what that feels like: the silent knowledge resting within my own being that I was able to connect with when I most needed it; the understanding that my power will never be used to harm others; and the confidence to trust that I need only stick to my path, working faithfully to keep one foot in front of the other, and everything will work out as it should. In moments of uncertainty this is the gift that taking time to sit and meditate can give me: the knowledge that my sense of powerlessness is merely an illusion. The path of truth is far larger than any of the roadblocks that may temporarily get in the way.

May it be so.

Namaste.

-Selena La’Chelle

in the flow: day two

in the flow with oprah & deepak

day two: finding happiness

centering thought: i am the source of unlimited happiness

sanskrit mantra: yam – ‘i am happiness’

 

selena

Now this is a concept I can get into!

Thinking of security as coming from within is still a challenge for me, but understanding happiness as independent from the events that surround me was probably a subconscious survival strategy in my childhood, and became a deliberate approach to life once I found my way to yoga. As a kid adults would always ask me in awe how I was able to be optimistic despite the difficulties that seemed to break them down, and while most probably chalked it up to the innocence of youth (which was probably a significant part of it), my grandma believed the opposite: she told me that I had an old soul. In hindsight I now wonder if what she acknowledged in me was simply an ability to see the beauty and light in the world, rather than focusing on the shadows. Of course, now that I’m in my thirties, I realize that such ability is far easier to develop in childhood, and becomes increasingly difficult to maintain we age and are asked, as in our culture, to live in the “real world”.

I have always been what most people consider a morning person. Those observing me they may notice the smile on my face with the first rays of the sun, or my tendency to launch into a conversation the moment I see them, despite the early hour. (Both of these things certainly came in handy when I was an elementary school teacher!) However, the lived experience goes much deeper than that. Despite the fact that I have come to savor the pre- and post-dawn hour as a quiet, spiritual time, a moment best used to communicate with myself and connect to the Divine rather than launching into conversations and Facebook posts, I still identify as a ‘morning person’ in the same way that I now also identify as an introvert: I feel energized and at my emotional peak first thing in morning.

I’ve been listening to several lectures from Audio Dharma (http://audiodharma.org), and I recall one that described anger and other emotions as being created in the moment rather than being remembered the way we more commonly tend to think of them. As someone trained in psychology and the art of psychotherapy, I found that concept worth considering. What would it mean for our lived experience if we believed that rather than repressing or acknowledging emotions we actively created and fueled them moment by moment? Keeping that possibility in the back of my mind for the last few weeks, I’ve started to notice something powerful: when I am awakened by the sounds of birds chirping just before dawn (rather than the shock of even the most subtle alarm), optimism is my default setting. Regardless of the frustration, anger, disappointment, or other psychologically heavy emotions that may have been present when I went to bed, in the moments just before I open my eyes, all I feel is peace. It’s as though I have to remember to be resentful, stressed, or whatever else comes washing over me with consciousness-and once I do, it’s hard to push those thoughts away again. However, I’ve also discovered that by meditating first thing in the morning I am able to stay connected to that lightness, to that openness, for just a little longer. At this stage in my journey, meditation is my way to develop awareness and mindfulness, with the goal of developing the skill of “checking in” emotionally and mentally throughout the day to see if I can reconnect with my base, which I have identified as happiness.

 

charly

i couldn’t find my meditation cushion.

i got home from my boyfriend’s apartment this morning, opened the windows, turned on the fan, and set up for my meditation and realized i had no idea where my meditation cushion had gone.

i didn’t use it yesterday so i didn’t occur to me to look until this morning. and then, of course, i couldn’t find it.

did i need a cushion? no. i was just as comfortable sitting on one of my yoga blocks on my living room floor, but now i needed to know where the cushion was….so i opened all the closets, looked under the bed…to no avail. all i was reminded of was how much crap i have that i never use and don’t want and suddenly i was overwhelmed (now that i think about it, i’m pretty sure the meditation cushion is sitting in one of those piles right now…of course).

finally i gave up, realizing that this search for the meditation cushion was a distraction from just sitting down and getting started.

so i sat.

and i got started.

when i saw today’s focus, i smiled. this is what we are all trying to do, right? find happiness. it is a lifelong journey, we hear. i feel as though i’ve been on the journey to find happiness from within for the past five years. i remember, when in grad school in england, walking into a store–i can’t remember the name but it focused on mindfulness–and reading the backs of some of the books they had. they discussed meditation, happiness, contentment…all the things i yearned for so badly in that moment. that was the beginning of me reading, learning, and realizing that i really couldn’t depend on outside factors–people, places, circumstances–to sustain my happiness. it had to come from within me.

which seemed, and seems, both easier and harder…

maybe that is why sitting and meditating felt harder today. my focus, which isn’t necessarily there to begin with, felt miles and miles away. my brain kept jumping from thought to thought and i found myself screaming ‘YAM!’ at the top of my lungs, in my head, to try to block out everything else.

of course, that doesn’t work.

so i quieted back down and tried to just let the thoughts flow through me.

this meditation feels like one i will return to time and again, as my brain quiets and i get more comfortable coming to meditate every morning, as i hope i continue to do after this 21-day challenge.

i’ll return to let that thought settle in: i am happiness. i am happiness. i. am. happiness.

in the flow: day one

so it is finally here! the first day of finding your flow with oprah winfrey and deepack chopra and therefore, the first day of my project with selena.

as we explained before, the first week selena and i will be doing the daily meditations and then writing for 20 minutes afterward. you’ll get our first impressions, a glimpse into our thoughts. we hope you enjoy reading along…

~*~

day one: finding security

centering thought: my security and peace are within.

sanskrit mantra: lam – ‘i am security’

 

charly

meditation is difficult.

it is.

to sit and do “nothing” can be so freaking difficult. i watched my monkey mind dance around so many ridiculous thoughts… watching my mind dance around like that always reminds me of several things:

1- i don’t let me mind quiet down

2- i don’t let my body quiet down.

basically, i don’t give my mind, my body, or my spirit time to recover, to rejuvenate. i am always making it move. coincidentally, right before starting this meditation, i saw this quote from Brené Brown on her facebook page:

“if we want to live a wholehearted life, we have to become intentional about cultivating rest and play and we must work to let go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth.”

i’m coming off a weekend sickness. food poisoning or a stomach bug–i’m not sure–but i spent all weekend in bed, trying to recalibrate after vomiting up my insides. as i rested in bed, i thought about how i wasn’t taking care of myself as much as i wanted. not eating the way i wanted. not working out as often as i wanted. not taking the time to really self-care. i had been running around quite a bit, trying to make my dreams into realities and my body reminded me all week that ignoring it was not the way to get ahead. no health, no way i am achieving my goals. of course, i didn’t listen…and, well, we see how that worked out.

this meditation came at the perfect time. i need to be secure in myself. i need to feel that peace within in order to feel health, strong, and motivated. i need that peace because my body longs for it. also, my spirit longs for security– security is one of the main things i worry about. in some ways, nothing feels secure–in part because nothing really is secure…my job, my home, my relationships… this lack of security contributes to my monkey mind, i believe. all my insecurities bubble up to the surface.

i love the reminder that security resides within me.

lam. lam. lam.

 

selena

How wonderful it feels to begin my fourth ChOprah challenge! As often occurs, despite the long-awaited arrival of “Finding Your Flow”, today’s meditation felt serendipitous. Rather than meditating shortly after opening my eyes and rising from bed as I usually do, I spent the first few hours of my day in quotidian tasks, challenges, and (inevitably), painful disputes. Only then, compassionately, I arrived on my meditation cushion, or zafu. I use the word “compassionately” because that’s exactly how it feels now that I’m sitting here writing about it: like an act of compassion for my wounded self. I did not feel it when I arrived on my zafu, but I certainly felt it upon rising at the close of my meditation and prayer session.

Deepak often says to trust that the meditation will be exactly what is needed, and I sit here no longer surprised by the fact that, yet again, for me the topic chosen was precisely that. In ways big and small, “security”-or rather the general sense of a lack thereof-has been precisely what has colored my days for nearly the last year and a half. Preparing to leave those fears behind for a few minutes, I felt myself sink down, melting deep into myself, connecting to my root chakra, which was alluded to by both Oprah and Deepak but remained unnamed as such today. The first of the seven energy centers Oprah mentioned, it is the root chakra from whence ascends our sense of security.

A few years ago I started developing my own mantras, each inspired by one of the chakras, which I commemorate in turn each day of the week. The root chakra, whose color is red, I commemorate on Mondays. The sacral chakra, whose color is orange and from whence our connection to others through the senses arises, I focus upon on Tuesdays. On Wednesdays I focus on the chakra associated with the solar plexus, whose color is yellow or gold, and from whence our willpower arises. Thursdays are dedicated to the heart chakra, glowing a deep green, from which love and compassion arise. Fridays I highlight the throat chakra, the light blue center of communication and expression. Saturdays I try to connect with the third eye chakra, the deep blue center of intuition. Sundays a sense of calm washes over me as I contemplate my connection to the Divine, focusing on the crown chakra.

The evolving mantra-in-progress that I wrote to coincide with Mondays is all about a sense of security, and connecting to my most basic truths:

“I am rooted: safe, secure, and developing mental, emotional, and physical flexibility rooted in the knowledge that I have all I need to thrive. May this knowledge bring me peace and allow me to focus on helping others rather than simply seek to advance my own place in the world.”

The first draft of the mantra arose out of a need to believe that I would not be easily tossed about by unstable emotions and circumstances; I needed to feel rooted. As my yoga practice continued and I thought about my changing body, which was being sculpted through aging, yoga, and dance, I realized that what beging grounded gives us is the ability to reach higher. I thought about flowers bending in the wind, and realized that it is because of their roots that they are able to remain stable while shifting in the breeze. Over time I added the word “flexibility” because I realized that without bending, the stalks supporting the flowers would be destined to break.

I am looking forward to the gifts each morning of this challenge will bring, and I am so grateful to be sharing this journey with Charly and all of you. May each day bring you deeper insight, and may each of us find our flow.
Namaste.
-Selena La’Chelle

in the flow: it starts on monday

on monday, selena and i are diving in to our in the flow with oprah and deepak project and getting our meditation and writing on. as i mentioned, every day next week there will be something on the blog from the both of us. our thoughts, our struggles, our commitment to meditation. it will be a process, an experience…we hope you join us!

sign up for finding your flow. find a comfortable seat. and a few moments to be alone.

breathe.

and let go.

and then visit the blog to connect, to see that you aren’t alone on this journey. :)

If you meditate, sooner or later you will come upon love. If you meditate deeply, sooner or later you will start feeling a tremendous love arising in you that you have never known before. – Osho

 

see you monday!

a simplifier

one of my new year’s resolutions is to simplify.

every freaking year it is to simplify.

and every freaking year I end up accumulating more crap.

it is annoying.

this need to simplify has really been present since i started practicing yoga. i guess the time spent trying to just focus on my breath and the present moment seeped off my yoga mat and into my everyday consciousness. i want to feel like i do when i am in the middle of a sun salutation. i want to feel calm. i want to feel light. and i know there is enough about my everyday life that may prevent me from feeling that way which i have no control over.

i want to simplify the things i have control over.

but wanting doesn’t always lead to action…

for almost two years i worked in retail and i watched my already crazy consuming tendencies take a turn for the worst. you see, it is easier to rationalize a purchase when you are asked to consider yourself a walking mannequin. it is a great excuse you can use. believe me. even my mother (love you mom!) was able to rationalize my purchases….but my more rational and reasonable co-workers were able to keep their buying under control. me, not so much. very often i would come back to my apartment, filled with guilt and disgust. here i went again, spending money i had no business spending, in order to buy a pair of crops that don’t even fit me well.

and yet, no matter how disgusted i was, i found myself doing it again the next day.

in my free time, i would go home and find myself drawn to blogs that discussed less.

that discussed simplifying.

that discussed minimalism.

i’ve always been a pack rat. always. i like clothes. i like books. i like bags. i like posters and paintings. i like knick knacks. i used to pride myself on not liking jewelry. until i started liking it… i like pretty much everything. and i therefore have a lot. i don’t necessarily think that is a bad thing. i just don’t think it works for me. i want things to be simpler. i want to have routines that fill me, not drain me. i want a home that feels homey and clean, that feels streamlined, that feels like a space i want to rest in, to work in, to live in.

i would want all of this and stare at the pictures and read the posts on simplifying, even take notes, and then i’d be back, bringing more crap into my home the next day. or sometimes i’d last a month…or two…but always, always…the crap found its way back…

well, this morning i had enough of this stupid routine. this annoying habit.

i started slimming down my wardrobe, using project 333 as a guide. the simple explanation: chose 33 things to wear for 3 months. this excludes things like workout clothes and underwear, but includes outwear and jewelry. of course, being a yoga teacher, someone who works part time in a yoga studio, and someone who used to be the assistant manger of a retail store that focuses on yoga and run, my life is pretty much all about yoga pants and workout clothes. so i had to get real and include my yoga pants in the count. my running crops, which i hate wearing unless i’m running, i didn’t include. you get the picture.

and as i opened the closet this morning, and went through the drawers, i got angrier. i just had so much. so many things i had forgotten about. so many things i could no longer wear. so many things i knew i shouldn’t have bought and yet there it was in my closet.

i had to take a deep breath and regroup.

i created piles. donate. keep for other seasons. wear.

even with my anger, my keep pile(s) were huge. they went from “to keep” piles to “to keep until i do this again tomorrow” piles. my donate pile got bigger and bigger. three bags so far. so far, being the key words.

as i went through the clothes, i looked around. i noticed a pile of bags, purses, totes. i noticed bags of stuff that have yet to find a home in my home and that i haven’t needed in over a year. i noticed the shoes i hadn’t worn since i worked in boston four years ago. i noticed the pile of papers on my desk.

and i had to breathe and regroup. again.

simplifying will take time. it will take practice. for instance, i’m not down to 33 items yet. more like 50. ugh…but…again. it will take practice…it has taken practice. i get on the wagon and fall off again. over and over. practice. practice.

man…everything is a freaking practice, isn’t it?

but i want it. i don’t think i’ll ever be a full-on minimalist. my books alone, which will probably be the last things i give away, will keep me from ever attaining that level.

but a simplifier, yes. that i can practice. that is a practice, a habit, a routine i can keep.