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Oops, I’m Running Low on Love

lovetapThis week was our time to tell my partner’s children that they soon would be having a new little brother or sister. I was more excited than nervous, but having never had a child before I was taken by surprise by their reaction. They first looked stunned and then cried. Needless to say, both Ed and I were concerned. Wells of love and tenderness starting pouring out of me, almost wanting to take back what I’d said. Since that was clearly not a possibility, I asked them what was upsetting them. What were they imagining this meant would change in their lives? Scarlett piped up right away and said. “Daddy will love the new baby more. I want it to be just us!” Archer went silent.
 
Luckily I had seen this type of emotion in different forms in many of my adult clients who I lovingly refer to as tall children. There is a feeling out there in the world that love is a commodity and this resource is set at a fixed amount!  As a result we love in a precious way — not wanting to give too much to too many. We hold it back and often use our love as in various plays of power. If we are hurt, we almost immediately pull our love out of the game to show our assailant “who is really in charge!”. More often, we never get to this point because we are so afraid of opening to love that we never even enter the game. We make strange decisions like love and sex are mutually exclusive and that we can easily offer sex but not our heart. 
 
I noticed right away that what I was seeing in these children were the seeds of these feelings. I was deeply saddened that such small ones had already decide these things about love and affection, but was hopeful that Ed and I could soften this belief. In our own relationship, we had been working on similar feelings and were making conscious decision to love each other more at those familiar thresholds when we would typically pull back on our hearts. As a result, we have hit some beautiful peaks in our love for one another.
 
I told the children a little story that Ed had shared with me when we found out I was pregnant. He told be that after his first child, Archer was born, he was pretty sure it was impossible to love anyone or anything that deeply again. Two short years later, he discovered he was going to be a father to a second child. He seemed to have some of the very same feelings the children were expressing. Of course, when his daughter was born, he loved her deeply and differently. I personally believe that the individuality of people bring about different aspects of our infinite ability to love. I have found that the more people I open my love and kindness to the more textures and colors my love can express.
 
I told the kids this story and then asked Archer if daddy loved him. He said ” A lot!” Then I asked Scarlett. Her response ” More than anything!” I asked how that could that be. How could he love each of you? Isn’t he going to run out? They both giggled at the silliness of this statement. I then explained how much their daddy loved me. Ed told us all that the more he loved us, the more love he wanted to give us love. Ed and I explained that instead of running out of love, we would all have this new little person to help us love more!
 

The tears stopped and the smiles came. Though I think this story still has some unfolding to do, I know in my heart that giving unconditional love is why we are here. I try each day to open my own heart fully and especially when I am frightened by the act of loving. I feel blessed beyond words to have this family that has already brought me to places of love in myself I didn’t think possible. I can say that I am certain beyond all else I will never run out of love!

 

bellyloveI’m not sure how to begin this post. Though I don’t want to down play this amazing news, I’m eager to share this butt-kicking unexpected process that transpired as a result and is changing my life. The impending birth of my first child has made me grow in so many ways, I’m not sure where to begin. Yes, this sweet  baby is due in August. I’m praying for Leo; I love those fire signs! 

What I want to share most with you today is what I am finding so unexpected and life altering (besides the obvious of having a child at this point in my life): The fact is,I’m truly in an altered state. The amount of joy that exists, quite literally in my cells, is something I never thought possible. It’s beyond what I imagined could be contained in my person. All I can see these days is beauty—these hormones are great!! Not at all like the ones we suffer with PMS. These days I feel like what people explain a “Molly” high might be. I love everyone and am filled with compassion and joy! But as humans we live in duality so I thought I might share some of the less talked about feelings that have surfaced with the coming of this new life and the letting go of my own, the way that I once knew it.

I have had the privilege of living a wonderful life that centers completely around me! I care deeply for my students and for my community at Reflections, but my life has always been lived on my own terms. I have molded a life built on physical image and freedom – though I didn’t actually realize it until it was being threatened. How I looked played into who I was and the health and clarity I represented. In the last four months, both of these things have been challenged to the core as well is how I thought a pregnant woman was “supposed to feel.” I had this notion that if you were about to become a mother, you invisibly became the Mother Mary and those sweet hormones I mentioned made you think of nothing other than your unborn child, that you would care only for this child without thought of yourself or at least without the resentment for how your life will literally never be the same again! Hmmm–not so much! I find myself in the process of looking at my choices and having to modify so many things for the life of my child and it isn’t even here yet! You know what? That’s hard!

I have always had a clear understanding of my body. I can honestly say I had a deep relationship to it and trusted it. I knew how to feed it, how much sleep it needed–I was great at  knowing how to push the limits and it responded with health and energy. These days it’s doing the craziest things and I feel I have lost the thread here. Once you figure out one thing, there is another you have to integrate, not least of all the drastic changing shape!! This is equally hard to come to grips with particularly if your life has been in some way centered around being an ambassador of health and wellness. For example, I was called to do a photo shoot for a yoga line and when I told them I was pregnant, they never even wrote back! Ouch!

The one thing that hasn’t changed, thank God, is ME. How I look at the world and the len I look through to understand myself is steady and still intact. At first I was quite disappointed in myself. How could I think of anything else but this child? How could these superficial things matter to me? Am I really living what I teach?  I finally, decided to stop feeling ashamed and start looking deeper. This little bundle of tired, achy and often nauseating joy was changing my life. What was even harder to come to terms with was that it wasn’t me changing me , it was this baby changing me and I, or my ego, was feeling out of control. From the moment I found out about the coming of this child I was 150% happy. But the truth of who I now was or what was about to happen to me was not even close to becoming a reality yet.

This feeling of being out of out of control was hard to come to terms with. When things really started to change, I remember looking at the beautiful young woman running my studio talking about the care-free things they were doing and having to pause and say, “Not me, I can’t just fly to Bali with you next September. I’ll have an infant to care for”. I’d look at how adorable they looked in the new tights we got in at the boutique while all my go-to clothes I used to feel great in started to feel tight and uncomfortable. Shopping pregnancy wear is just not that much fun.

I need to say I am very lucky to have a partner that truly thinks I look beautiful. Feeling how he sees me helps me to embody the sensuality inherent in this transformation, which does exist. I am loving the fullness of my body in a way I never had before.  I feel more sensual then sexy which I like very much; thank you my dear Ed, you make this so much more enchanting. The truth is  I don’t feel sexy in the way I was used to, which was actually more of an external experience. I notice the subtle shifts in how people interact with me. Though I don’t think I actually consciously registered it before, people do interact differently with an unencumbered woman then they do with a mom. People actually call me Ma’am. OH MY GOD! I am a Ma’am now officially! I’m being honest now, right? That stung! Who “I am” was transformed almost instantly into — a mom! Is anyone really ready for that?! What does that even mean? Nine months seems a short time to actually integrate that concept. Let’s not even bring up the issue of what it feels like to be responsible for someone else’s life when you wonder how well you are doing with your own and instead stick with the growing pains that come with the mom and a persona concept.

What I am currently dealing with is taking off my clothes and seeing parts of me I remember and then noticing other parts and saying “whoa that’s crazy looking!!” Or looking at my life and feeling “yes of course I can do that” on my lips and instead hearing “no, I’m sorry, I can no longer make that kind of commitment.” cone out of my mouth. I realized I had to honestly sit with this for a while because it was getting to me. It was actually in meditation that I came to a genuine understanding, and then respect, for the stages of life, and the knowing that they exist for a reason. I think as New Yorkers, we stay in some arrested state of development holding on to an idea of youth for far too long. At least I did. Watching the Oscars, I was keenly aware of the genuine beauty in the women who were moving gracefully into their maturity and those who Botoxed themselves in to denial.

What I am allowing myself to feel now, with the help of the love and admiration of my partner (he seems to see real beauty in my changes and it helps me take on that shape that feeling), is that what is happening is richness not a loss. I am maturing and this baby is helping me grow-up. It is pulling me out of the narcissism of an extending youth and bringing on my next journey where I have to do it all differently.  I believe there is so much  physical change inherent in this process, because there will be very little similar to my old life’s journey. Its like a metamorphosis of my soul. This is a new life with new rules and new experiences. I will of course miss my old friend, but I feel I’m about to be a better version of her, one that finds joy in guiding the life of another, one that embraces sacrifice instead of resenting it, one that perhaps finally understands the letting go of the ego and embraces the selflessness I have been teaching for 25 years.

I know the dear mothers and fathers out there reading this will say that I still have no idea how much my life is about to change. I agree! What I do know is that I have redirected my inner life mandala and I am no longer resisting the change but I’m in its full embrace. I am finding a new beauty and grace in change and feeling myself more excited then frightened. I have some inkling that this is how it is meant as it propels of our personal evolution and I’m into it!  I am most happy to watch how I grow as a person, and how we grow as parents.

Life is a real trip isn’t it—and babies do create miracles!

If you resonated with this post, you may be interested in our 5-week PreNatal Yoga Class, which begins April 2, 2014.

 

love treeLooking For Love In All The Wrong Places

Yes it’s February – the month to ponder love – why does it always seem it’s the one topic we are never content with? We don’t have enough, we don’t like the love we get, we’re chasing it – it’s chasing us. You get it, and then it’s… not all that! Whatever the case, it never seems right.

I’ve been teaching a 200-hour training for the past month. As many of you know, love is the thing I like to talk the most about during my classes. But when I get a group for a full month, it becomes an investigation! I believe in my heart that if we can ever get this love thing straight, the rest is easy.

I thought I’d share a little of what we discovered this month.

Like a simple equation, we found that the amount of love we can feel = the amount of true compassion we are able to feel for anyone. But there is a hitch. The first person on that compassion list has to be us. Let me elaborate.

Mostly my mind judges: “I don’t like him because he is too needy. She drives me crazy because she is too closed off”. On the days when I can go a little deeper and step away from my judging mind and step into my heart I can see the needy part of me is what I really don’t like; that part that is a bit scared and vulnerable, that part of me that wants to be loved. When I can see my own reflection in my needy friend and see he needs the same love I do, in that moment the judgment falls away and all I’m left with is love for us both.

But what of my closed off girlfriend; could it be that all she wants is love, but like myself she is too afraid to ask so she hardens her heart. When I see it in this light I have a tear and want to hug her and myself and tell us both to trust that I love you and that we are in fact lovable and that anyone would love us if we could simply open our hearts to that possibility.

When we take the judgment out of the love, what we are left with is the true and exposed experience of being human – we can see all the defenses, the hiding, the pretending and the grasping as the cry of our inner child not knowing how to ask for what it needs. When you can see it all in this way, who don’t you feel love for?

If this blog posts touches you in some way, you may want to explore this topic in more depth at our event on Valentine’s Day, Friday, February 14th. We’ll explore love as an emanation, a gift that comes from deep within yourself, rather than as a projection, something you get from others. Happy Valentine’s Day! Join us at Reflections Yoga and see our loving community in action!

I Learned How To Unlock My Mind and Found My Freedom

unlock mindThe great guru’s (I’m speaking here of the ancient teachers) tell us that our experience of the world is really an illusion. We create the world based on our thoughts or – our belief systems.  Our belief systems – are based on our morality. Often, they are so ingrained that we emphatically believe them to be universal truths, instead of something we have invented or inherited from others to stabilize what might otherwise be a very confused existence.   Let me offer an example: A generation or so ago people believed that we were all meant to marry and have children.  Moreover, we should only marry once to a single person till death do us part.  Most of those people are no longer on the planet, rest their souls, and I bet you would be hard pressed to find someone between the ages of 40-50 married, married only one time.  I know they’re out there – but you get my point.

Our world is designed, expanded or limited, by what we believe to be true.  Those beliefs are based on our parents, where we live, our economic status, and our religion mostly.  When I started to examine my beliefs I found quite a few that just weren’t working for me anymore.  In fact they were stopping me from being me.  I found I was aligning with a “system of belief’ more than who I really was, behaving as I thought I was “supposed to” instead of how I actually felt.

One of the strongest beliefs I discovered I held was to do with acceptance. I believed if people were to like me I had to be entertaining, funny and tell interesting stories all the time.  I had to know about pop culture (I know virtually nothing).  I should be able to make small talk and not be so damn serious otherwise I was uninteresting to others.  When I would meet new people, let’s say at a party, I would try so hard to be entertaining that they not only didn’t like me – I am pretty sure they thought I was simply a drag!  In contrast, my friends –the ones that laugh because I can’t tell you the name of a single actor, say that I’m not funny –but love how I laugh really hard at their jokes.  The ones that say I’m not at all light but enjoy my depth, really like me for me. Mostly, because they actually have met me… not my “supposed to” impostor.

In doing the work I found that getting under the hood of these systems of belief is no easy job.   Some are so fixed to our ego they need more then a crowbar to pull them away while others just take a hard shake.   I’d like to suggest a few easy steps that I have found helpful.   Take a look and see if there are a few that you are ready to give back in order to be more you then your “supposed to” impostor.

First…

Make three lists:

· Make a list of things you are suppose to do. ( get married, be interesting, save for the future, have figured it all out etc)

· Next go through the list and make a second list and decide where you inherited each of them from (get married-mother, save for the future-dad and TV commercials )

· Your third list is the list of things you’d like to keep and those you can offer back to its creator. (Get married mom’s fear of being alone- not mine)

· Tidy this up making a final list of all the things you have consciously chosen to be in your life. This will be your “I want to” list

Second…

· Ask a close friend to tell you three things that they notice you believe to be true. No big discussion just have them write it down and give it to you. Note: The one you are most bothered by is the one that needs the most work.

· Ask yourself if this belief is serving you. Is it offering you a richer life or is it keeping you small and stuck in some social fear.

· If you don’t feel richer ask yourself why you keep it. What belief about yourself and the world does it support? Does keeping it keep you small or help you to live a more expansive and truthful life?

· Try to develop a new way of looking at yourself without with belief. Write down what that is and put it in a place you can see every day. Reminding ourselves daily of the things we are changing is important part of real long lasting transformation

I find doing this one or twice a year helps me to remember to think like me. To stay aligned with my own happiness and to be brave and take responsibility for living my own life the way I want it to be. It reminds me as the gurus tell us– life is an illusion of my own making and I can make it look however I desire it to be.

 

Interested in unlocking your mind and going deeper into uncovering belief systems that may be holding you back? Join Paula in Costa Rica for a Spiritual Development Retreat/Training in 2014!

Life is for Living

2012-11-29_living_life_to_the_fullestI have to say the truth– the holidays make me anxious! There is so much I love about them, but they also signify the end of yet another year. It’s a time spent with family and so there is a lot of catching up to do. This offers another opportunity for me to look at the year and wonder what I have done and if any of it was actually worth it!

As the anxiety starts to rise I run a tape in my mind of all the things I have done and how I might present my year long resume to my friends and family when they asked to dreaded question, ” So — what have you been doing?”

This year I needed to sit with this and try to figure out why this simple question bothers me so. Its a valid question, its nice that people are interested. So what is the issue?!

I began to understand that I was evaluating myself by how much I did in any given year. If I had a long list of things I had completed I was ” successful” if it was short I felt lazy and totally bad about myself. I wanted to find a way to rethink this. I started to wonder what actually mattered to me. In reality I am often daunted by too many things to do in a day, month, year. If the list is too long there is less quality in my interactions, I’m less present and I get resentful. I completely hate that feeling!! How deeply I can sit with anyone or thing is really when I feel the most fulfilled and grateful.

So, if I knew this what was I doing all these years? I suddenly realized I was adopting the belief system and also the anxiety of other people, and in reality, perhaps an unexamined definition of success. I sat down and started to slash my calendar. I looked at each day and each appointment and decided if it felt like I could be fully present and happy doing what was listed. If “no” came up as the answer I reduced the list. I needed to own the idea that I have never been an over achiever and perhaps a bit of a slacker in the best possible way! Time spent was really a joy for me. A long lunch with a friend, a day of reading a good book, a project that took time, love and effort were the things that made me feel like a richer person.
I decided I didn’t want my life to be a list of things I have done but instead, experiences I have had.

This is certainly new to me. When I share my life this holiday I hope to tell about how I have lived my life over this year and not offer an endless list of empty occurrences. I hope to give thanks and celebrate my ability to be and not judge myself for what I have or haven’t done. Life is for living, isn’t it?

Paula Costa RicaI am in Costa Rica in the midst of teaching a powerful course in Spiritual Development, held in the arms of this spectacular terrain—such a healer to us all.

The course is powerful because of the honesty of the work, but more powerful because of the sincerity and courage of the people here with me. They are ready and willing to look deeply at themselves and each other and raise the bar of their integrity mostly to themselves. As the facilitator and student –always– I have looked deeper than before at what motivates me and what is stopping me from making the change that will allow me to take it all in! I am thankful to the group for holding space for me to look into me.

As I write this I am also excited to tell you that Reflections is presenting a few master teachers in the world of movement and discovery this month.  Bonnie Bainbridge and Eric Franklin as well and the burgeoning teachers from Soma System will be filling the rooms of Reflections this fall. If you are judged by the company you keep, then we are pulling in a pretty high resonance! Don’t miss the opportunity to study with the teachers that discovered and designed the fundamentals of our practice. If you love our teachers and I know that you do (how could you not!)- these are the teachers that are the roots of their practice.

As always humble and filled with gratitude!