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Monday, July 26, 2010

Confidence

After teaching a class a few weeks back, a student approached me to chat. We made small talk, and then he mentioned a class he had taken with another instructor from the Studio. “Her class is really good,” he said, “She’s a great teacher.” “Please tell her that,” I said to him. She is amazing; truly coming into her own power; but all of us who are teachers have moments of doubt about their ability. He looked puzzled and surprised. “Okay,” he said.

Then he asked, “Hey -- what about you? You never seem to have any lack of self-confidence.” I responded as I always have to compliments, especially the back-hand variety. “Oh,” I laughed, “I’m just faking it.” He laughed. “Me, too” he said. And we went our separate ways.

I’ve been thinking about that exchange; and I’ve realized something.

I’m not faking it anymore.

Maybe that sounds like bravado; and let me tell you, it’s not that I am brimming with confidence every moment of every day for sure. I realized in that moment that most of my life I have been faking any confidence I exhibited.

It’s a given, in this society, that you have to exude self-assurance; be certain what you’re doing, and why you’re doing it – even if those concepts have yet to fall into line. So you develop a firm handshake; look people in the eye; and sometimes waste years bumbling down the wrong roads in life because you’re so busy pretending you know what you’re doing, you never stop to ask directions.

Reminds me of a family story we’ve giggled about for years; we were all in the car when my father turned the car out onto the road, going completely the opposite direction of where we were supposed to go. He was already in a grumpy mood, and no one wanted to be the one to tell him of his error. We continued, driving down the road, and my mother tactfully asked -- “Do you know where you are going?” “YES!” he bellowed. Two beat pause. “I’m going the WRONG DAMN WAY, that’s where I’m going!” Then, of course, we all cracked up.

You could pretty much describe my first marriage with this symbolism, but let’s not go there.

What is confidence, really? In my thinking, It relates to the ego. In many yogic or religious schools of thought, they talk of subduing the ego; diminishing the ego; eliminating the ego.

Not so in Kriya.

In Kriya yoga, they speak of building the ego – not to make yourself into a defiant, separate entity; not to inflate your opinion of yourself and your worth; and certainly not to compare yourself to others. You strengthen the ego so that you know who you are; what you are trying to accomplish. You know what you value; you know your own strengths and limitations.

You also know where you’re going, and what the real goals are.

Having an ego helps you to discern that faint line that differentiates between being of service to your fellow beings, and being the flat little doormat under their feet.

I’ve served my time as a doormat. And the thing is, it doesn’t help anyone to achieve anything other than the negative karma the other person creates from harming you, and the negative karma you create for yourself by ALLOWING others to diminish you.

Where does self-confidence come from?

For me, it has emerged from finally beginning to know (and accept) myself; by testing myself and pushing out of my comfort zone; understanding the outer limits of my mind; of my body; recognizing myself as spirit – unchanging, undying – untarnished.

It has come from taking responsibility for everything, EVERYTHING that comes into my life; the good, the bad; the sublime, the ridiculous.

It comes from TIME. You know, certain things just take TIME. If you want an apple pie, you need to plant the apple tree. But it takes years from planting the tree to making the pie.

So many people don’t bother planting the tree.

I am not always confident; I am sure that there will always be times when fear invades, confusion interferes; when I crawl back in time to being the person I was instead of the person I have become.

Though even the fearful me, the confused me, the lost me -- at the end of the day, can stand before a mirror, and look myself in the eye; smile; bow and say “Namaste” – which means the light of God in me sees the light of God in you; and I honor you.

Try it sometime; it is not as simple as it sounds. And it will tell you a lot about yourself.

Shanti,

Jill

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Summer 100

One of our family traditions is to create a Summer “to-do” list; 100 things we’d like to make sure we don’t forget to do over the Summer.

I started making a list years ago (1) because I’m a list-maker; I gotta write things down and (2) to appease my eldest daughter, who from the time she was very small would ask every morning if we were going to do EVERYTHING I had told her we’d do in the Summer.

Her memory is like a steel trap, and even as a preschooler, she would wake up the first morning after school was out and start questioning: “Are we going to the beach today? Are we going to Grammy and Pappy’s today? “Are we going for ice cream today?” “Are we going to the park today?” “You SAID this Summer we would . . . . .” On and on and on; ‘bout drove me nuts.

So we created a list, and it helps – it’s easy to let Summer get away from you, especially when you are trying to meet the expectations of five people in two and a half months.

At this stage, the list has evolved so that we sit down as a family, and each take a turn. Some things are family events; some just personal accomplishments. We usually have a few things that get left undone; and certainly lots of things that we do aren’t on the list; but we try our best to accomplish everything.

The list tells an interesting tale of our family; it has changed a lot through the years. This year’s list tells me several things: most prominently, that we’re mildly obsessed with food. It tells me that my children are missing all the things I used to cook or bake regularly before I opened the Studio (wee bit o’ guilt here). It tells me that we don’t go “out” much; and that’s okay with me.

I love that it was the children who came up with “Peace Day,” “No Electricity Day,” “Mommy Appreciation Day” (um, excuse me, that should be EVERYDAY), and “Guru Appreciation Day.”

Here’s our list for this Summer; what about you?

1. Go see Grandma. 2. Picnic at the park. 3. Manicures/Pedicures for the girls. 4. Make homemade pretzels. 5. Picnic at the Arboretum. 6. New kitchen party. 7. Play tennis as a family. 8. Official Cuddle Day. 9. Playdate with Jack. 10. Go to Maggie Moos for ice cream. 11. Go to Alabama for Luke’s graduation. 12. Go to the Children’s Museum in Charlottesville. 13. Bryant gets to shoot his new bb gun. 14. Sleepover with Emma. 15. Buy new shorts for Summer. 16. Stay in our PJs all day and eat pancakes. 17. Go to the Children’s Museum
in Lynchburg. 18. Go to Bubblecake. 19. Dunkin Donuts for breakfast. 20. Get Bryant a Star Wars dart gun. 21. Go to Yogaville. 22. Drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. 23. Get Alexandra a new bicycle. 24. Make homemade ├ęclairs. 25. Go to Pop’s for lunch. 26. Catch lightening bugs. 27. Make cantaloupe sherbert. 28. Fly kites. 29. Make flan. 30. Make tiramisu. 31. Make blueberry buckle. 32. Go to a baseball game. 33. Parents/kids water gun battle. 34. Have Billie over. 35. Have Mark over. 36. Rent Avatar. 37. Go to Smith Mt. Lake. 38. Mommy/Daddy overnight. 39. Go camping. 40. Go out to dinner as a family. 41. Watermelon Appreciation Day. 42. Cook on the grill. 43. Watch the sunrise. 44. Pick strawberries. 45. Go to the pool. 46. Go to the Seven Springs Farm CSA picnic. 47. Go to Issacs for lunch. 48. Invite the Fitzgerald’s for dinner. 49. Pick blueberries. 50. Make homemade sno cones. 51. Get together with Isabella. 52. Meet Daddy for lunch at Breadcraft. 53. Go to the Indian Festival. 54. Learn new harmonium song. 55. Scrapbook shopping day. 56. No Electricity Day. 57. Playdate with Bryant’s friends. 58. Go to dinner at Luigis. 59. Purchase fig trees. 60. Back to School shopping. 61. Mommy and Isabelle get massages. 62. Sleep outside. 63. Go for a family walk. 64. Make homemade ice cream. 65. Go tubing. 66. Go to the New River. 67. Toast marshmallows. 68. Jane and Tom for dinner. 69. Have the Bazaks over for dinner. 70. Paint pottery at Glazed Bisque-It. 71. Get summer reading material. 72. National Be Outside Day. 73. Make homemade sushi. 74. Go to Harvest Moon in Floyd. 75. Studio party. 76. Isabelle’s Italian lessons. 77. Make lemon poppy seed muffins. 78. Play in the rain. 79. Deal with the hill. 80. Go to Viva La Cupcake. 81. Play at Fishburn Park. 82. Cook all Day Day. 83. Movie Day. 84. Play baseball. 85. Peace Day. 86. Make biscotti. 87. Make cinnamon rolls. 88. Eat gelato. 89. Make snowman sundaes. 90. Watch the sunset. 91. Organize the living room. 92. Have Sarah and Kali over. 93. Ride the Smart Bus to Blacksburg. 94. Play catch football. 95. Mommy Appreciation Day. 96. Find 2nd Studio location. 97. Alexandra cook dinner. 98. Make truffles. 99. Guru Appreciation Day. 100. Have Fun!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Le Tour

The Tour de France begins tomorrow; I love (no – actually, I adore!) Le Tour.

Why?

Well, first of all, it’s like watching a travelogue; the scenery is spectacular; ancient mountains, verdant valleys; old and interesting cities. It is so beautiful to see all the people, lining the sides of the roads in Europe, cheering (perhaps having a little picnic – a plate of tapas, a glass of local vino, and – oh, watching a world-class cycling event) – well, it makes me dream.

I also recognize that it is a very serious, intense, mind-boggling athletic event.. In the US, our sports heroes play a great football or baseball game; a (possibly) whopping two hours of sport.

Ha.

Le Tour? Goes about a month; this is not a “show up for a couple hours, party later” event. This is a pilgrimage; a life-changing shift; a tragedy, a comedy; a time to die, or a time to live; each and every day; for 24 days.

Like a magnet, it pulls me in.

It is so much like real life; you are biking hundreds of miles; no idea whether some idiot has thrown glass on the course; perhaps some child, cheering you on, accidently catches your handlebar with their souvineer mussette (Lance!); some riders are there to make a mark on an individual day; some are there to prove their climbing ability; yet others, their endurance.

Where do you fit in?

This is all so much like life.

Some people are here to make a bold, large statement; some others are just trying to make it through the day; some would prefer a random moment of celebrity; perhaps some are just doing their job; others strive on, have their eyes on the prize (whatever THAT is).

So, what is the prize for you?

That is the ultimate question; what is it that you seek? Are you aiming for enlightenment? Connection to God? Alignment with all that is?

Do you just want not harm anyone else – just tiptoe through this life? Or, perhaps, you just want to make a lot of money, have a really nice house, hot husband, and cool car? (Which is – really – OKAY!).

Seriously; be honest.

Because God knows; the Universe knows; and whatever it is that you seek – it’s coming your way.

And if you can’t get it now – you’ll have to come back, and get it later.
Is that what you really – REALLY – want?

When I watch the Tour de France, I rationalize all that tv time by doing push ups and sit ups; folding laundry. It sometimes feels like wasted time.

And yet -- so many of us – we have no goal; no ideal; no concept of where we are going; we arrived on this planet, begIn to move through the stages – but have no idea what it is that we seek. The wasted time – it’s not just 24 days – it’s 24 months, 24 years – 24 lifetimes.

Let me tell you – you came here; you are seeking.

Set aside some time this month; watch the tenacious bicycle riders; as they ascend and descend, view the magnificent planet we reside on; go inside, to your equally magnificent inner universe; and decide.

Why are you here? What is it that you seek?

Shanti,

Jill
Uttara Yoga Studio, LLC. Blog design by Jessica Hedrick