I’m a big fan of ritual and candles so I’ll share with you what I’ll be doing at midnight! Feel free to try it if you like :)
Start in a sacred space…could be an altar, a special room, or the floor in your kitchen. If you like, surround yourself with things you love. I like to use candles and flowers and maybe some special items from the past year.
Sit comfortably…feel free to prop yourself up with pillows, blankets, bolsters, etc (being wary of course of any flames!). Connect with the place your body meets the ground…feel that connection. The stable ground underneath you and wonderful gravity hugging you and keeping you safely where you are.
Begin to breath deeper…as you inhale feel the spine lengthen. Send the seat and tailbone grounded towards the earth as you feel the crown of the head lift towards the sky. As you breath, imagine space coming between the vertebrae of the spine, creating length and space for the organs. Notice anywhere you can relax…the face, the shoulders, the pelvic bowl…notice anywhere that can become spacious.
Bring to mind what it is you would like to release…inhale and lift your arms above your head. As you exhale, twist to one side. Take eight breaths. As you inhale, feel yourself lengthen, and as you exhale, feel yourself relax, perhaps a little deeper into the twist. Let the breath carry you through the twist…there’s nowhere to go here…no need to push. Also as you breath, imagine each exhale is releasing whatever you need to release. You can even bring a visualization to mind…perhaps imagining what you’re letting go of as black specs being gathered and released by the breath.
When you’re ready, return to center, and relax the arms by your sides. Take a few breaths simply to observe anything that may come up (without labels, judgments, expectation, etc). When you are ready, bring to mind what you would live to cultivate for yourself in the new year. (And I mean really what you would like to cultivate…so instead of, for example, wishing for an ex to love you again, invite Love into your life, whatever form it may take.)
After this observation, once again lift the arms over head and now twist to the other side. Following the same “lengthen and release” flow of breath, this time imagine gathering what it is you need. Think of it, you just created all this space by releasing what no longer serves, no fill it up with what does! I like to visualize golden light being drawn in with the exhale and swirling through the body with the exhale, but feel free to play around or just feel what it is you’re cultivating (you do probably already have it in you anyway!).
Take as many breaths as you like (I like to do at least 8), return to center and take time again just to observe. Feel free to run through this multiple times and to play with the choreography, so to speak. And perhaps, as the days come and go, you can practice, just with the breath, inhaling what you need, and exhaling what can be released. I’d love to know if and how this felt/worked/was experienced!
“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may
stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of
your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have
always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief”
“You might say, “What a dreadful day,” without realizing that the cold, the wind, and the rain or whatever condition you react to are not dreadful. They are as they are. What is dreadful is your reaction, your inner resistance to it, and the emotion that is created by that resistance.”—Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth (via thelittlesea)
“Worrying does not accomplish anything. Even if you worry twenty times more, it will not change the situation. In fact, your anxiety will only make things worse. Even though things are not as we would like, we can still be content, knowing we are trying our best and will continue to do so.”—Thich Nhat Hanh (via yogachocolatelove)
We’ve all heard that little piece of wisdom from childhood temper tantrums to adult aggravations. What I notice is, as we get older, we start to scoff at the phrase, forgetting the truth and wisdom within it.
So what happens when we take a deep breath? There are two sections of the nervous system called the sympathetic and the parasympathetic. The sympathetic is our primal, fight or flight response system. When we get stressed, angered, reactive, etc, we are in our sympathetic system…our heart races, our breath quickens. The parasympathetic is our “rest and digest”. It connects directly with organs to help them function and also helps us to calm and rationalize.
When we take a deep breath we switch gears, so to speak, from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic. This allows our heart rate to slow and our ability to reason to come back. So, from a very scientific and anatomical standpoint, taking a deep breath really does work! (Even if, in the heat of the moment, we get irritated when someone says it.)
So here we are, in the holiday season, one of the most stressful times of year in our American culture. But we have this amazing tool that is the breath that we can always use to help calm us down. So next time you find yourself stressing over cooking, presents, family, or any number of other things, take just a few seconds to take a full breath. Engage that parasympathetic nervous system!
I would like to note that this is simply my understanding of things I have been taught. Anatomy is not my area of expertise so if I messed up please let me know so I can correct it!
The next time you find yourself grudging the “extra” cushion around your midsection or sigh longingly at (airbrushed!) model abs, remember this…
There is a layer of fat in the belly (I cannot remember the scientific name!) that mothers your organs. If an organ is sick, this layer of fat hugs that organ, both to help it heal and to protect the rest of the organs. How beautiful is that?
“‘If you are willing to look at another person’s behavior toward you as a reflection of the state of their relationship with themselves rather than a statement about your value as a person, then you will, over a period of time cease to react at all.”—Yogi Bhajan (via porcelainpartydress)
“Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends”—
Tomorrow is my seventh anniversary with my boyfriend. It has not always been an easy road and there are some dark chapters but, right now, at this moment, we are better than ever. I would like to share with you some lessons and advice I’ve learned along the way. We are fed this idea in our society that everything is rainbows and butterflies forever with “the right one”. This ends a lot of marriages and relationships at the first hurtle. I to, fed into that illusion and because of it I have not always been a very good partner. I have fallen on my face over and over. I have hurt him, I have blamed him, I have closed myself off from him. But each fall has been a lesson and I am just lucky enough that he has stayed in spite of it. I do not claim to be a perfect partner now. I still fall, I still hold back, I still hide. The difference is that now I see it, I own it, and I make the choice to fix it or not, honoring the consequences of both. I am not writing this as an angel or as a devil, I am simply writing my experiences and hoping that something may resonate with you.
Rule 1- Let Go of Fear- Fear totally controlled me for years in my relationship. After the honeymoon period ended, I was driven by it to do the most fucked up things (pardon my french) through my fears. I was afraid he would leave me. I was afraid he wouldn’t want to honor my needs so I kept them to myself (though I still had to get them somewhere). I was just always afraid. I knew it was silly, obviously if he wasn’t willing to at least attempt to fill my needs than he wasn’t worth being with. I, however, was the one who felt unworthy (we’ll come back to this). It is so important to let go. Trust me! Of course, I still carry knowledge that one day he might leave or I’ll need something he’s not willing to give, but it’s not debilitating fear. I know and trust that I can make it through the pain of losing him and I honor the way he has molded me, whether it’s for him or for someone else.
Rule 2- You ARE Worthy! Own it!- So much heartache arises from people feeling unworthy of love. We go after people who aren’t good for us because we don’t think we deserve better. We do hurtful things to those we love because hey, we suck anyway right? But none of it is true because you are, I am, we all are worthy of love. Why do you think you are not? I know I struggled with this after I hurt him. I figured, geez look what I did, I do not deserve anything. But what does that serve? It may give you a false and self satisfying sense of martyrdom but in the long run, it ruins you (and your relationship). So, change behavior that makes you feel unworthy and forgive yourself for past wrongs. You are worthy of love!
Rule 3-Check Your Focus- I spent a lot time focusing on what I felt was “wrong” with our relationship. We are very different people, the total opposite in a lot of ways. This naturally creates differences in what we want and how we like to spend our time. So, I complained how he didn’t like to do this or wouldn’t do that and spent all my energy focusing on what was wrong. (All the while blaming him so I didn’t have to take responsibility…aren’t I a catch? ;)) My mom was the one who woke me up to this. She had a similar period with my dad. She went to a therapist and he told her she was focusing on all the things that were wrong. What about the things that are right? They have now been married for 28 years. I tried this simple thing as well and my whole relationship shifted. I saw past the stories, fear, and self pity I had been feeding myself to this marvelous man who loves me with everything he’s got. He may not like to go apple picking but he gives me total freedom to go if I want. He supports me in so many ways, not least of all financially. He allows me to live under his roof, persuing this notion of making a living teaching yoga (I am currently lucky to make $100 in a week) without asking for a cent. I told him once that was really big of him to do and he said “Nope, that’s love”.
Rule 4- There Will Be Waves- No matter how great you are together, no matter how easy things are, there will always be periods when it’s not. There will ALWAYS be times that, no matter what, for whatever reason, things just aren’t clicking. Of course, inquire and see if there’s anything you or the other person can do or need to stop doing but there are going to be times when it just isn’t great. But, like all things, this will pass. Breath with it, explore if there any areas of growth to be found, and trust that you will be flying high again. Waves are always present but when you can relax and ride them, they don’t seem so monstrous.
Rule 5- Change And Choice Are Always Yours- Inevitably, the longer you are with someone, the more changes you are both going to go through. I’ve talked a lot about focusing on the good and by that I don’t mean ignoring or pushing down the things that don’t work. There may come a time when it becomes really important to me that my partner does go apple picking with me. I had to give myself permission to honor my needs, and if there was no way they would be met, to leave. Even with all the love I get. The choice is always yours. It sometimes doesn’t feel like it, whether it’s just been a really long time you’ve been together, there are kids involved, or you just feel stuck. You ALWAYS have choice. Always. To work on it or not. Honor and choose what is best for you.
Rule 6- The Work Doesn’t Stop…Sorry :)- You are always going to have to work at it. You’re sometimes going to make compromises. You’re going to come to hard times. You’re going to change as people. It may seem discouraging but it’s really a beautiful thing. You always have the chance to evolve and grow and get better. I am just beginning (seven years in I know) to really delve into this joy of discovery. Finding healthy ways to be with a person, learning each others boundaries and needs and how they shift with the passage of time. We’re told that butterflies are only for the beginning (first date, first kiss) but, the truth is, you get to have new beginnings throughout, with all the butterflies you want!
This is really stellar advice for people either in relationships or not! Really key practices to a healthy and lasting relationship. We are fed this idea of rainbows and butterflies and ease with “the right person” and while that’s true in the beginning, sooner or later you are going to have to work. And that’s not a bad thing! It makes you grow and become better and closer. Take it from one who knows!
As I said a few posts back (actually following through…this is how passionate I am about this), I’d like to speak a bit about seafood and the state of our oceans. I promise this will not be a lecture about how you are an evil person if you eat fish, I just want to try to get this information out there. I could go on about this for days but, since I am never drawn to blogs that go on forever, I am going to make this as concise as possible. Please, please, I would love to answer any questions if you have any or want to set up a discussion please do so. And again if you’d like more information, I really encourage checking out the documentary “The End of the Line”.
In a nutshell, commercialized fishing is expected to collapse by 2048. We (developed nations) steam into the worlds oceans with the most large-scale, general, and wasteful methods of fishing which not only destroy populations we target but also everything else in the ocean (organisms and ecosystems and native people who do actually rely on fish). The ocean is what allows life on this to be as we know and need it. Destroying it is like cutting into your heart and expecting to continue living.
Methods of Fishing—-A few examples of our high tech fishing gear…
Purse-seine nets—-These gigantic nets are either circled around schooling fish or dragged behind boats. They can cover huge ground and sweep up everything in it’s path. These are often used to catch tuna and yes, dolphins (and many other creatures) are still caught, killed, and tossed.
Long lines—-Just how they sound, long lines are usually miles long with baited hooks dropped into the water at intervals. Used to catch everything from tuna to swordfish to sharks for finning (the ultimate cruel and wasteful practice), they also have large numbers of bycatch (species that weren’t targeted) because most things in the ocean are going to go after a baited hook!
Dredges and Trawl Nets—-Dredges and bottom trawls are weighted nets that drag the oceans floor (destroying everything in the way) to catch bottom dwelling fish. Midwater trawls (shrimp is often caught this way) are dragged behind boats grabbing everything and often also drag the bottom when full.
Gill nets—-The most widely used method, these catch everything and often get loose from boats turning into “ghost nets” which are basically floating death traps.
Consequences of Fishing Methods
Bycatch—-Bycatch basically is the word for things fisherman catch that they didn’t intend. Billions of tonnes of fish, mammals, birds, and endangered species are caught “accidentally” in these general methods and wasted.
Endangered Species—-Because of all of these methods, many fish have joined the ranks of endangered species. However, because all of this happens “out there” and we don’t see it and mostly don’t know about it, ocean creatures don’t get the same protection land animals do. After seeing mako shark in my local supermarket, I looked up the land creatures who were in the same boat, population wise. Along with mako sharks at “vulnerable” were red pandas, lions, and cheetahs. If those animals were on the shelves, that place would be shut down due to public outcry. Also, many creatures who need protection don’t even get on the list. CITIES (an organization designed to protect endangered species) refused spots on the list for shark and tuna species due to pressure from countries making a lot of money off of them. Large, predatory species are especially vulnerable due to their slow reproduction rates.
Ecosystem Destruction—-Not only does fishing physically take out ecosystems, but they also throw off the balance of life. For example, along the US Atlantic coast, scallop farms have been wiped out from a sudden burst in cownose ray populations because we’ve killed most of the sharks that prey on them.
Affects on People—-Not only does the ocean suffer, but people in other countries, mostly third world, who actually rely on the ocean for sustenance and a living, are now out of fish.
Pollution—-Because we have contaminated the oceans with years and years of pollution, many fish contain toxins. Mercury settles in plankton and gets more concentrated the higher you get up the food chain and into bigger fish. An experiment done by the filmmaker Louis Psyhouis (his film, “The Cove” is another to check out), showed that the mercury in his system grew eight times itself from eating tuna rolls once a week for a month.
What about fish farming? While farming fish is a good idea in theory (setting up farm for popular seafood like salmon and shrimp in order to not kill wild populations), it so far is often just as destructive as fishing. The facilities are often centers for pollution and the fish are more often that not fed fish meal. This fish meal is made from small fish, such as anchovies, which are fished out all over the world. It is something, however, that people are working on and there are some huge successes happening in this arena.
There is hope. While this all seems doom and gloom, there is a lot of hope. People are starting to fish in more sustainable ways, for instance, with hook and line. This method pretty much eliminates all bycatch and takes less of the population, allowing the numbers to recover. This is truly a simple problem to solve. It lies with us. When we get educated and make smart decisions when it comes to our seafood, we can put our money into sustainability. It’s all up to us! For a great resource on sustainable fish, visit http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx. You can search by area and find out what fish are sustainable (or not) and why. I know this was long but I hope you read, educate, and act for our planet and our future. Namaste :)