Whose Life Is It Anyway? Ramblings on life, yoga, romance, money, sex, life, yoga, art, music, life and life.
What is real intimacy?
Yoga is a wonderful practice that can awaken many things in a person. In my experience what it does when it is at its best is help us to slow down, get connected and feel. Its a way to develop a relationship with ourselves. It teaches the value of presence — and true intimacy. Having sex was sometimes something I would do to avoid intimacy. I think this could be true for many. So what is intimacy anyhow? Maybe this story can help explain.
I recently taught a course called "Yoga – A tool for transformation". One of the rules was NO SEX. I have come to learn that people hate to hear that they can’t do something even if it's for their own good. Even though i was aware of this aversion I didn't bother to explain why, because I believed it was something they needed to discover on their own.
A few weeks went by and the group grew closer, sharing their thoughts and feelings about many things. They talked about what pained their heart. They discussed what brought them a joy far beyond happiness. They cried and laughed together for many days and nights. I watched, what was once a group of perfect strangers, ask to be held and have their tears dried by a classmate. I watched them fall in love with themselves and one another.
One day one of the men in the course, who had mentioned he was struggling with lustful thoughts, turned to the group and explained that during this time together he got to experience real intimacy in a way he had never known it could be. From and honest and vulnerable place he told us he would not have traded those moments — that having sex would have tarnished them in someway.
How could I have told them that they would feel deep love and that love would open them to true intimacy? Who can explain the beauty of true intimacy? There are simply no words. My fear that they would confuse those feeling and believe that love/intimacy would then have to culminate is some sexual act was never realized. Instead they came to understand this on their own.
Have you looked into the eyes of your beloved? Have you asked what makes them happy or sad? Do you feel free to ask to be held on a bad day? Can you cry in their lap with no shame? If you haven’t, forget the flowers this Valentine’s day, and give real intimacy a try.
Does this story resonate with you? Check out Paula's Partner Thai Massage Workshop for Couples Here.
We are as happy as we want to be. Is this true?
It is true that we are a series of patterns that get triggered as a reaction and, on better days, as a response to our life situations. Sometimes these patterns work for us and other times they just no longer do.
When it comes to deciding whether we can be happy, as we want to be, we may claim to be satisfied in our own lives by changing our attitude towards reality. Unfortunately, this may not be a universal principle for all of us. No one can deny that real-life circumstances have a tremendous impact on our emotions. This may lead us to wonder why we feel so helpless. Our inner thoughts might run like this: “What’s wrong with me?” “Why do I let people affect me so?”, “If only (you fill in the blank) happens, then I will be okay”, “Why do I feel enslaved by my thoughts?”, or “Why can’t I just be happy?”. If only it were so easy…
These were questions I often asked myself before I found the power of meditation. Through meditation, I learned to sit with my thoughts and myself. I found a way to allow the triggers to rise up and learned to employ a different response to them. I found the power of pause. In certain meditations I was able to give my life a clear direction and then when I got off my pillow, it was easier to step in that direction. It felt good to decide how I wanted my life to be, rather than being taken for a ride by the waves of my life situation. It felt good to be in control of my own emotional world.
In January, Reflections will be holding an Winter Urban Silent Retreat , where we will introduce and develop the practice of mindfulness. Along with restorative and vinyasa yoga classes, there will be sitting meditation and intention setting. There will be time to write and just be in the energy of our Kula (group). This will be a powerful weekend where we are all gathering to bring 2011 in as a year of clarity and focus, all with the highest of intentions. I do hope you join us for one or both days of this silent bliss!
This weekend is suitable for beginners and practitioners who want some time away from life’s complexities to deepen their practice.
Does Paula’s story resonate with you? Do you think you might enjoy exploring the ways we move through life and how yoga and meditation can give us a new perspective on them? Take two days with Paula and Friends at Winter Urban Silent Retreat, Jan 8th and 9th: more info here
In any given year we can reflect back on our year and recant our experience, both good and bad. Yoga, in its many forms, has helped me to gain a deeper understanding and more importantly, acceptance of life’s inevitable shifts.
No one is exempt from experiencing both the beauty and the challenges that life has to offer. The Yoga Sutras explains this so elegantly through the dance of the Gunas. The continuous movement of light to dark and back again. When we can truly see that nothing is wrong, but that both sadness and happiness are inherent in the cycle of life, the challenging times become richer in their lessons and the gifts more precious in their beauty. Knowing that my life is as magical as the changing of day to night, or as beautiful as the turn of the seasons, offers me deep peace and the knowledge that I am part of something much bigger than my particular life situation.
We are both massive and very small. When we can find the wisdom to simply let it be, we can see the innate beauty in everything.
I wanted to take a moment to thank you all for your incredible love and support this year. Reflections continues to grow with many new and exciting ways for our community to find their path, their own voice as we all walk this amazing journey of life.
Whether it be in our teachers training, our philosophy,dance or nutrition classes, We are here to explore it all. Please continue your input on our blog. We are excited to make it a place where you can get useful information and tap into the bigger energy and love that is undeniably what Reflections is about.
Much Love and Happy holidays
Does Paula’s story resonate with you? Do you think you might enjoy exploring the ways we move through life and how yoga can give us a new perspective on them? Join New York Teacher Teacher Training: Jan 21-Mar 13: more info here or Take two days with Paula and Friends at Winter Urban Silent Retreat, Jan 8th and 9th: more info here
When we increase consciousness we decrease the need for will or willpower.
As I was looking through my millions of notebooks one day, I stumbled upon this statement. It was so intriguing, I had to give it some thought. I began to think about the times I felt I needed to assert my will and what was behind that. What was the “power” behind my will and was it actually powerful or just something I have always done without question. If I stopped doing it what would have happened? What would I have done instead?
I guess it’s safe to assume that if you are applying your will you are striving for something you want but don’t yet have and inherent in that is a fear you won’t get it. Make sense?
The easiest tactic to getting what it is we want or at least the one that makes us feel most at ease is “doing” something about it. Making it happen, so to speak. This might or might not work, depending on the situation.
Okay, so I apply my will based on a fear that there is something I want that I don’t yet have and I am afraid I might not get. I will “do” anything as the doing keeps me busy and the busy keeps me less anxious and lord knows we all hate being anxious !!! Sounds like a recipe for disaster.
I thought about what I do when I want something I don’t yet have. I came up with a list of things that I do almost exactly in the same order every time.
I go to Barnes and Noble and get a book on the topic.
I then go online and read what I can, which is never very fruitful but it keeps me busy.
I find others who have done it and ask them tons of questions.
I take classes with people who have done what it is I want to do.
Essentially I fill my head with information.
Then I get really active in “trying” to make it happen. I make connections, meet all the right people, and so it goes. So what could be wrong with this??
Nothing! Except that all my actions were somehow based on a lack. I try because I am not there yet; I assert my will because I am demanding something I don’t have. I seem to always be running two steps behind what it is I want. What I am not doing is bringing a consciousness connection to this desire. I have not tried to understand it on its own terms; I haven’t even rested in the idea that I am supposed to have it but instead I’m running around trying to convince others and myself that I should.
If, in order to truly get what it is I am wanting, I need a resonance with that thing, how do I increase consciousness/resonance in order to decrease a need for will or willpower?
This is what has worked for me (and quite honestly, it starts with the list above, though I don’t think it is actually necessary once I get better at what I am about to explain…):
At some point, I decide to meditate on what it is I want. I try to call it in to understand its vibration and since everything on the planet has a specific vibration, this is not too crazy. What I am doing at this point is closing that two step gap I mentioned before and feeling the want as a part of who I am. Feeling it takes it out of thought and makes it a part of the present moment and my real life experience.
In this process all of my fear and feelings of unworthiness come up. I get to look at each fear and decide if it is true or not. I look at why I choose to believe the fear and I also get to really see if I want what I say I want. When I have thoughts I try to use them for the good of what I am wanting in that I imagine it already happening. I make it consciousness and what leaves is the doubt. Not to say it doesn’t pop up again — but inside of this real connection I can look at it without the need to assert anything but instead say: “ahh, you again my old and doubtful friend. Do you have any use here?” and if it doesn’t, it seems to float away.
Then I live my life as if it already happened. For me the deal is closed and I am just waiting for the final papers to be signed. I try not to get anxious about it if it takes longer than I’d like. Instead, I get connected to it. I continue to resonate with it and try to understand and even harmonize with it more and look at what the benefits of waiting might be.
I can honestly say that I have gotten everything I have truly wanted and the things I didn’t get, I was so very thankful for not getting — in retrospect, I actually didn’t really want it or believe it would have happened. I do believe we are that powerful when we align with out body, mind and spirit. In fact, I will be so bold as to say that I know we are.
This can work for any and every thing: Getting a job, finding a proper union, selling or buying a home, having a child – anything that feels outside of you that you want to be in your life. Why not practice with something small and see what happens? Trust that life is filled with wonderful gifts, if we choose to see it that way.
Give Thanks ~ Daily Life Savasana
Recently, I began to notice that I was doing so many things that ranged from making a great dinner, to teaching a class, to starting a big new project — and it didn’t matter what it was or how it turned out, I still felt a weird emptiness inside. How could that be if I was essentially doing good work, work I believed I should be able to learn and grow from?
I began to realize that I never took even a minute to pat myself on the back and honor what I had done. Suddenly I saw the importance of acknowledging that something had been brought to completion and to take the time to sit with it and see how it had changed me. What had I learned about the meal, my teaching, any of it? That was the nectar the Sutras speak about when we are in a juicy asana. It’s that pause of really resting in it and feeling its value.
In a best-case scenario, aren’t our life experiences here for our growth? If not, isn’t life a routinely-lived, mind-numbing, never ending series of days, weeks and months where we have forgotten our successes and spend too much valuable time thinking about our lack? That sounds terrible!! So how do we find this growth and the value of each experience we’ve lived?
I found it in the sitting, reviewing, and in giving my experiences time to resonate — not unlike Savasana at the end of our yoga practice. It didn’t matter how small I thought these successes were, they were still a part of how I was spending my time and so they must have importance, as the Sutras remind us all of our actions are sacred.
I have made a practice of taking just a few minutes before bed to make a list of what I have done in that day and what it means to me. I decided to stop letting my days feel like run-on sentences. As a result, I am feeling accomplished and also really clear about how to direct my life so I can continue to grow. I am more clearly able to see what is working and what is not and giving thanks for all the lessons in between.
It seems small but it works like a charm. So sit down and make a list of why life is good and what is still there for you to learn ~ and give thanks!
What is Sacred Sex and why is it so scary?
Listen, the fact is I was brought up a catholic girl. I even taught religion in a catholic school for 4 years! OMG I can hardly believe it. Sex was not discussed! Luckily for me sex was fun, but people who spoke about it openly were weird and perverted. They were overly sexual and not very polite. That was how I saw it. Do it for sure but please keep it to yourself because it makes me uncomfortable!
In fact intimacy makes many of us uncomfortable. Looking into the eyes of a stranger can bring deep panic into the hearts of many. I know this first hand as I ask many people to do it and often find it just isn’t possible. We all have our limits or boundaries around intimacy. For me, looking in to someone’s eyes is not a problem but perhaps hearing about his or her sex life… not so comfortable. For others, hugging can feel very strange, as touch with emotion can be very intense. We all have our “no ways”! Even partner yoga can freak people out. This is life and it is good to know our own and others’ limits. I’d like to share with you my journey into the world of sacred sex (SS) because it was my “no way” at one point.
When Reflections first opened its doors we were… let’s just say, BROKE! Through a strange confluence of events the people who hosted the SS round-up found us and asked if they could rent our space for the weekend. My mind said ”weirdoes”, while my pocket said “Sure, we’d love to have to have you! “.
Now sex and sexuality have always been a very healthy part of my life, but not something I ever would discuss in groups or go to lectures on. It was something you worked out on your own with your partner and maybe not so much with words even. More like a dance where you took turns leading but never discussed how the dance should or shouldn’t go. The thought of what might be taking place in the studio freaked me out and totally sent my staff into a panic, but we all need to get paid, so bowed to the pressures of economy!
I think many people feel that sex should be done but not discussed. My goodness, the easiest way to make a crowd giggle is to say the word sex!! The fact is, as adults we do have sex. Some more, some less, some alone, others in groups, most with a single partner at one time or for a lifetime… but we all do it. Because it has been kept in the shadows, or orphaned, as I like to put it, it has been allowed to gather many misconceptions and straight up perversions about what it really is. Since is was coming into to my studio in a big way I felt I needed to see what these people were really doing, scary as it might be. What I found surprised, shocked and illuminated me. Over the last two years I have gained a beautiful understanding of SS, some from these teachings and others from my own personal and deep exploration — and this is what I have learnt.
It was first important for me to understand that orgasm was just energy! Take away all the images and ideas that have been put upon it and it is the essence of creative energy. When the body has sex from a physiological point of view it is preparing to procreate, whether you are wanting to or not. It is a high spiritual energy that creates life and it is the most sacred energy we have. We are all energy — the entire planet is energy — so we can all have orgasm, but sometimes it takes practice, like getting up in a full wheel or a doing a headstand.
I found that often sex was “used” as a release, or worse as a bargaining tool or power play if you will and not the union or joining of sacred energies that it can be. I find this often with married couples. So I had to ask what about love or connection? There is no higher energy than love. I am speaking here of real love, not the love that most relationships are based on, that seems to function more on commerce than love. If you do this for me, I will love you more and if you don’t, I will withhold my love. I have come to learn that “Love” is actually god. God is not an image or person, but if we have loved purely for even one moment we have met god. God stripped of the crazy images we have put upon it is simply any moment we feel pure love.
So when we put orgasmic creative energy together with pure love we create a vortex that can literally move mountains. Think about how you feel in the first days of a great relationship. I often feel invincible! That anything is possible… all my issues fall away and I see my partner as pure source and so they see themselves and me the same way. Our reflections of each other are so strong, powerful… for good or bad.
If we nurture this energy it can grow and we can change consciousness. Anything in fact is possible. Knowing we have this ability, we can avoid what typically happens in a relationship, which is it becomes a business. The infatuation falls away and you see the void. “Hey, you you stopped making me feel good so I am going to stop giving you all that love I was just giving you…”, and so the story goes. But this is a choice. The ‘in love god space” can keep growing and this is how.
Sacred sex/love is a practice. It isn’t about immediate gratification. In SS even the physical act asks us not to come to full orgasm but to dance in the doorway of desire. Desire is where we feel most attracted. It is the deep state of eroticism that we yearn for yet we are always rushing to the finish line. If we can step back and admire our beloved and not try to know them so quickly, so completely, it can “live” forever. Yoga tells us anything we “know” or think we know is now dead. By thinking we know it we kill it, as it has no room to grow and change. By keeping the energy of learning and growing alive, the sex and relationship evolves forever and “is” the sacred space we are seeking, just perhaps in the wrong places.
If it is so easy why don’t we do it? Why do we try to know so quickly? Mostly because what is unknown causes us anxiety. We are uncomfortable with this feeling of anxiety or what I like to call free fall. So the practice for me has been to enjoy the sacredness of the ride. To find the thrill in the moments before anything is complete, whether it be a yoga pose, an orgasm or just life itself. Allowing life to linger to enjoy finding out about my beloved and leaving all things space to be unpredictable and thus opening the door to change and growth has been most satisfying. Exploring this type of union has allowed me to play joyfully in the realm of god. It is a holy place… a space where we can both be who we are — and who we are is human,imperfect and sacred.
It has been an incredible journey that has brought richness to my life. There are many amazing people who teach this concept from many different lenses: some purely physical, others as a place of healing from abuse and rejection, others as a way to understand their particular manifestation of sexuality, which might be more intense than others, less intense than others, or simply not what the mainstream might consider the norm. For me it was another way to know god. A way to understand my body and its desires; how those desires affect my mind; and how that in turns affects the world. I believe that anything we leave in the shadows can be dangerous and can lead us to act unconsciously. The spiritual walk is all about illumination. This is just another place that needs to be in the light. Bringing it there has added great beauty to my life. It has made me a much higher spiritual being than I was before. I have lifted the veil of ignorance — which is always so rewarding — and opened the door for many to come and investigate freely in my space. By investigating this for myself I have opened myself for others to come to me with questions and fears as it is clear that together, we can learn so much if we are earnestly on the path.
We are here to learn by keeping all doors open for heartfelt conversation. When we do this the world becomes a much more exciting and better place to be. The SS movement is very much a part of the Reflections community as are all practices that seek to find the truth of life.
This has been my experience with sacred sexuality. I welcome you to find yours and know that it can be different — you are welcome to share or not, but please do put it on your radar as I know that it has the ability to bring all of us to places of real love, clarity and deep beauty.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the this video. I have felt for years that the Yoga Sutras are based on the science of the mind and a deep understanding of how the universe works. Its never been clear to me how that understanding came about but is was clear that the sutras where speaking the same language as all the greats I had read in my study of Psychology. It has been fascinating that as science progresses it seems to support what Yoga has been saying all along regarding the Universe and how it was created, what time is or isn’t, etc..
I have been an avid reader of Stephen Hawkin for many years. This is such an amazing moment for me to see Deepak and Stephen speaking on the same topic. Its such as exciting time in our growth as enlightening beings.
What if you were asked to make a list of what the most important characteristics were in the people you have chosen to be in your life? What would be on that list? Would it be that they were super intelligent or generous? Would it be their looks? Perhaps it’s that they know all the best places to hang out? Maybe they are super supportive? Or do you simply have great chemistry?
When I asked myself this question, my answer surprised me. All the things I assumed were really important weren’t. The one thing I just couldn’t do without was that they made me laugh. It was the one thing I just couldn’t trade. It seemed to encompass most of the rest in one way or another.
My sister and I speak everyday, more or less, and on every call she makes me belly laugh. I love to call her when my day turns hellish, because I can count on her to transform the day’s absurdities into a nice hearty laugh.
As a single woman, I have had the great fortune of spending time with many wonderful men. Of course as open minded and committed to unconditional love as I might be, I certainly have my list of what makes me say yes to that second drink or the bigger commitment of the second date.
It’s wonderful when a man is well put together, interesting, does a little yoga or can afford to buy a drink. But the thing I find makes me say “Yes!!” to a second anything is our ability to laugh together.
In the words of Victor Borge: “Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.”
Those of you who spend time at the studio know we laugh away most of the day. It’s what gets us through the hard times and what brings us all together. We laugh at the day, ourselves, the crazy world of yoga … all of it!
Why is laughter so important? I believe when a person can laugh at life it lets me know they can move through the world with ease. It shows that they know we are here to learn and have fun doing it. They don’t take it all so seriously. Together we can enjoy life’s many blessings instead of thinking too much on the harder times.
For me life can sometimes be like an extra long sitcom and I am so glad I have such great friends to share it with! I think about the future, when I am older and all my milestones have been reached, my hair is shiny grey and am sitting in my rocking chair. I am certain that what will move me through those contemplative years will be my ability to laugh about the stories of my past and what lies in the precious days ahead.
“Laughter on one’s lips is a sign that the person down deep has a pretty good grasp of life.” ~Hugh Sidey