Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Old Self Teaches Now Self


 Found this today. Wrote it sometime in early Feb. 2014:


On the 5:15am train ride into the city to teach my 6:30am class, I noticed a passed out homeless man who had his hips touching the seat, his feet on the ground, and the rest of his body laying on the 6 train seat. The shape of his body was an upside down “L”, the smell of his body was torturous, and seeing this somebody’s condition was heart wrenching. I did not pay too much attention to the sleeping man, in fact I remember thinking as I turned away, “That is not what I want to see first thing in the morning, no, no, no way.”

As I caught my aversion to the suffering, I created an interesting dialogue with myself. What am I turning away from? Why? I was turning away from looking at human suffering at a very extreme level. Why? Because it made me uncomfortable. So by sparing myself my own feelings of discomfort, I scoffed away.

Being interested in Buddhism, aversion, suffering, and the human condition…after catching the thought of aversion and my corresponding action, I was curious to turn around and just be with it for a moment. I wanted to embrace this. Embracing reality, embracing what is, embracing my own feelings and experience of another human’s serious suffering. Not the kind of suffering that I feel on a very superficial level…but the suffering that does not have a home. The suffering that is hardly embodied. Skin and bones so fragile, a body that is hardly breathing. As I looked at this man I even questioned if he was alive or not. It was really difficult to tell.

As I continued looking into this feeling of discomfort, I found something interesting. I asked myself “Why am I teaching yoga this morning? Why do I practice this practice?"

Yoga reminds me that I can hold space for all of it. I can handle, witness, and hold space for my own human suffering and the suffering of others as well. I can witness the darkness, greet it with empathy, and feel into it, around it, through it, and above it. Yoga strengthens my body, but mostly my heart. It reminds me that I can keep a veil of love and protection around me at all times, yet still penetrate the deepest core of feeling and witnessing to whatever comes up.

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Right now was a great time to stumble upon this writing from my past. Good reminder from a previous reflective morning. Thank you, past Self. 

Similiar theme in my life now... Sitting and dealing with discomfort. Not trying to mask it, fake it, turn away from it, suppress it, mistake it, discard it, nor escape it.

Leaning into it a bit. Leaning into letting go. Holding space for my new transition. Leaning into following my heart, all the way through---it's what got me where I am right now.

No attachment.

Gratitude.

Bye-bye Queens. Thank you for the reintroduction back to NYC. Thank you for the necessary challenges and all your moments of cozy comfort and ease. Learned a lot about my voice the past 10 months. Learned a lot about my intuition, where I am willing and not willing to compromise. You set my heart aflame and reworked and reinspired my necessary-inner-biatch. Yeah, she really got molded and sculpted in the most raging of ways. Aho!


See you soon Brooklyn! I wonder what you have planned...




Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Creating Responsibility to Create via Kapotasana

I am currently taking the Level 2 training of the Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy program. Besides having my mind blown everyday by the approach, the skills, and the people, I am amazed at what I am learning about myself in the process too.

The last 7 months of living in NYC have been a wavering, chaotic, highly emotional, and an intense ride. Fun too. Cannot forget how much fun I have had, too!

During a facilitated yoga therapy session that I received today, I explored a topic in my life that has been neglected for quite a while. I am forever grateful for the space that was held for me as I got to experience this breakthrough, realization, and insight on my own.

In a yoga therapy session, the client's eyes are closed (much like a meditative state) and they are led through a series of simple yoga postures or a guided meditation that puts all the emphasis on the clients words, stream of consciousness, feelings, emotions, etc. These words, after being heard by the practitioner or therapist, are then fed back to the client close to verbatim, or at least using the same words.

Hearing my own words has been POWERFUL! 

During my session today where my body was in pidgeon pose (see picture below), I had an image of a tree branch breaking. The exact words "tree branch break" were words that came directly from a poem I had written many years ago.

As I explored that memory, I took myself back to when I wrote that poem. I remember the day so clearly. I was in my sophomore year of college, had skipped class that day to stay in bed with my lover, and had blown off all of my worldly responsibilites. Inspired to write, I sat on my bed all day with my computer, a journal, and a few books for inspiration. I gave myself completely, whole heartedly, whole bodily to this poem that I needed to birth. I remember the room turning dark, no longer lit from the sun. I let the day pass as I devoted my entire day, all of my plans, to this creative process. This burgeoning.

Never once feeling guilty.

It is the poem I remember, not which classes I skipped, or how tidy my apartment felt. 

My poem, my exploration, and my self expression was the most self-serving, important, and meaningful way I could have possibly spent my day. I felt a tangible feeling of my soul embodied. I also felt a tangible feeling of my soul fleeing my body as I wrote my poetry on paper.


Checking back in with that feeling today opened up a huge field of insight.

Just a few months ago, I remember asking a friend in New York, "Hey, so...you know that feeling when you are doing something SO incredibly and completely YOU that you know exactly who you are and you love the moment, yourself, and the flow you are in completely and entirely?"

"Yes, I think I know what you are talking about...yeah I do..."she says.

"Yeah, I cannot remember the last time I felt that."

My spirit wants to sob remembering that conversation. To not have a moment of recalling the last time I have felt entirely and totally myself. Feeling painfully nostalgic to the days where that feeling felt so common. I remember driving down a dark country rode in the middle of the night, just to sit on the roof of my car, watching the stars and making wishes. Getting lost in the library for 6 hours on a Friday night, choosing books on psychology, philosophy, symbols, and dreams to pick them all apart and feel lightening bolt epiphanies of how they are all related, essentially the same, and how I felt connected to the macrocosm of life. Rolling out my yoga mat in front of a closed Catholic church devoting my practice to people who still feel small and oppressed by religion.

The poem, the stars, the books, the intentional yoga practice. All the same feeling. The allowing. Being and letting inspiration happen.

The rational mind does not have a say in this.
The rational mind does not know what this is.
The rational mind will not understand this.

Not holding back the action. Being in the flow of my life and of myself. Feeling like an individual. Alone and awesome.


Tree branch break and pidgeon pose.

I continue going inward and asking where and why has this part of myself gone. I come up with answers such as laundry, responsibility, money, work, obligation, cleanliness, perfectionism, feeling the need to keep it all together, rigidness, tightness, structure, time, calendars, transportation.

Oh my god, what has happened. 

All of this shit that I have let get in the way of letting my spirit unfold and unravel in it's divinely creative and sometimes messy ways.

I was flooded with awareness of how perceived stresses of life,  perceived feelings of obligation, perceived  responsibilities, perceived obligations to other people have hindered, stifled, belittled, and squelched my flow of creativity. 

The remedy? At least for myself...

The EMPOWERING word and art use of saying NO. Taking responsibility to say no!

No, laundry you will not be done today. I have a poem to write.
No, responsibility you can wait. I have love to make.
No, money, you are not that important that I will work myself to death and forget about life.
No, work I will no longer keep you around if you feel like work 90% of the time. Also, no more working on Saturdays and Sundays, unless I really want to.
No, obligation I will not be seduced by your clever hooks and guilt trips.
No, cleanliness you are not more important than painting.
No, perfectionism you do not exist. You are an asshole.
No, I do not have to keep it all together or pretend that I do.
No, rigidness, I cannot live with you because that is not where happy and creative mistakes happen.
No, tightness, I can't breathe with your grip.
No, structure, I don't need to follow your rules. I live very well with my own.
No, time, you will not be given to people, things, and activities I do not like. More of you will be given to things and people I LOVE and feel NOURISHED by.
No, calendars, I am going to start planning my moments, instead of my months.
No, transportation, you will not consume my idle mind anymore. I vow to read more on the subway.


So my big insight for today, can pretty much be boiled down to...

The most important and vital responsibility that I have is to create. Create and foster more joy. Everything else getting in the way of that power to create is perceived. Boundary setting and saying "No" will keep my time, energy, and creative juices protected and flowing.


Thank you, pidgeon wisdom and thank you yoga therapy! 






Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Returning & Shifting

Today was a bit magical. Actually, the last few days have been a bit magical.

After I taught a yoga class in Tribeca, I hustled in the snowy slush to get to Elena Brower's yoga class at ViraYoga. To my surprise, I saw an old friend from Austin in class who I actually did one of my yoga certifications with a few years ago. What are the chances!? Attending the same class, at the same studio, at the same time...this city amazes me.

Kismet all over Manhattan.

The theme of Elena's class was the subtle, spiritual body and it's vantage point.

To me, this is the higher self, after the ego and desire have dropped. The body and mind of grace and complete compassion...the place that feels amazing to feel and live your life from. Easy to forget about this subtle spiritual body, but also easy to return back to.

"From this place, every mood and emotion can be shifted." -Elena


Shift. This is a word to remember. This resonated deeply.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

          Last Sunday, I was getting ready to leave for work. The snow and chill had me feeling stir crazy and cooky, and my body was desperately needing a walk. I decided to leave the apt. with ample time to get to work by walking over the Queens bridge. My mood before I left the house was a recipe of antsy, claustrophobic, and peeved. I'm sure my roommates, including my boyfriend felt the subtle circuits of rage flowing through me. I left in an impatient, hurried chill. 

I was upset that "my plans" for my morning had not happened as I had wanted them to. The plan was to go to the gym with Adam, make breakfast and coffee, and spend some time together before I had to go to work. Instead, we snoozed, did not make it to the gym, and our roommate was using most bits of the kitchen to cook a laborious meal for her dinner party that night.

Expectations...such a challenge to be with how things are instead of where we think they should be.

I walked half way down the hall and felt anger boil up! I wanted to scream! In fact, I think I did a little (I'm a big fan of vocal catharsis).

And then I took in a deep breath and something shifted. I really did not want to leave that way. I really wanted to just drop my mental drama and try a different approach. I decided to let go of my expectations and flow with the changing of plans. I walked back to my apartment and knocked on the door.

I apologized for my huffy exit, decided to open up and express myself clearly instead of leave, and find the only thing I really wanted out of my entire morning, which was connection.

"Give me your gratitudes...and a brag too", Adam says.

We do this. I do this with a lot of my NYC friends. Start conversations with a gratitude, a brag, and a heartfelt desire. Try it. It sure can shift some shit.

I am deeply blessed to have the most amazing partner. 

Returning home, taking those 10 minutes to share, connect, be grateful, and humbly boast or remember our dazzle, and invite the love back in deeply shifted my day. I know it. I know that I wouldn't have had the same day if I had left on the first try. I don't think I would have been as present to the beauty around me as I walked over the bridge. I don't think I would have been as friendly, curious, and engaging with the world. I actually even got myself an interview that day, just by asking a few questions and putting myself out there.

The day may have stayed cold and a bit rigid but it shifted. From closed to open. From being "right" to just being. From a place of lack, petty mental drama to abundance and gratitude.

Man oh man, relationships ARE spiritual practices. The way we relate and navigate moment to moment gives us infinite possibilities to learn and grow, to shift the mood and tone and to wake up to the spirits vantage point, as Elena was talking about.


In yoga, we call these subtle layers the koshas.
Check out these great articles to learn more about the koshas...

http://www.yogajournal.com/wisdom/460
http://www.yogamag.net/archives/1995/fnov95/koshas.shtml



In highest vibes,

Candice 






Friday, October 11, 2013

Weight a Minute...

For some reason or another, I have never fully felt or understood the effects of societies projections on body image, womens bodies especially but mens bodies too. It was this thing that I knew existed but never paid too much attention to. Until recently, I have felt it very strongly and poignantly.

It happened a few weeks ago before I moved. I visited my grandmother and she poked (jokingly or not...i dont know) at me and said that I looked like I had gained weight in my belly.

"Really, Granny? But I feel so strong! Feel my abs of steel!", was my shocked yet humored response.

It wasn't until after I left her house, that I really felt the effects of that comment. Why would she say that? Is that true? Have I gained weight? But how!? I feel like I eat well...I exercise often...and I think well.

(And if you stop reading this post, know that that is ALL THAT MATTERS) Do you eat for nourishment and feel satisfied? Do you exercise because you love it and because it makes you feel well? Do you think well? Are your thoughts positive and clean? Are you kind? If so...continue what you are doing. Nothing else matters!!!!!)

So that one comment got me thinking a bit. But I let it go shortly. Maybe the next day.

Then it really happened! I did it to myself!

I just had a photoshoot with a great photographer here in NYC. I needed an updated headshot and a few yoga pics. He took 250 pictures and gave me the unedited version on a cd to look through.

At home, alone, I was browsing my pictures. Terrible idea. Oh boy, did I start to get critical. "Wow, is that what I look like in that pose? My back and belly make rolls when I do yoga asanas!"

All of a sudden, my self image was shot to shit (temporarily) for at least a few days. Days!

Days of thinking less of myself because of my visual image is too long, even hours is too long. Days of not loving myself completely and entirely is too long. Because you know what? I started to judge and criticize other peoples shortcomings because I was unhappy with my own.

It rippled fast. But I guess when you live with a partner or loved one...there is a mirror to reflect it all. Being critical of my lover (not about self image...but little, silly things) reflected my criticisms of myself. Just like that. Disconnect. An argument. Too many hours of feeling distant and alone.

Too long to not feel love. Yoga is loving the spirit inside of the postures. Not the poses. Or the documented pictures of them. All of that is illusion. Deception. Pictures can be such liars.

Yoga never wants to make you feel less of yourself. If yoga was embodied and wrapped in one enlightened being, yoga would never judge the back or belly rolls. Yoga loves you. Yoga is a tool and guide to loving yourself so you can love your partner, spouse, children, and neighbors more deeply.

Deeply and completely. 

Yoga goes inward. Image is outward. So go inward.

It seems recently that I have practiced in or taught yoga in a lot of studios that have huge mirrors showing our physical, outward practice right to ourselves in the moment. Very lovely for all the perfectionistic yogis out there, right?

Okay. So this is the deal. If you are practicing yoga in front of a mirror, or even the next time you look at a mirror...you better damn well be telling yourself that "MY, MY, I AM A SEXY GODDESS (or GOD)"

 Critique less and love more. 

Love yourself as a way of loving those closest to you. Be good to yourself.

Inwardly, be kind and the rest will follow. Stay soft. Or at least have moments of that soft, truly connected, whole hearted, "I love you no matter what" feeling.

Next time you catch yourself judging your weight, appearance, or image or someone else is judging yours...wait just a minute.

Find interest in this shallow and surface mask society can wear. Ask it where it comes from? Who is affected? What might a trail of these thoughts look like? And what may happen if we don't catch it after a few days? How much pain are we self creating? How much pain can an unconscious and unkind comment cause?

Go deeper. Rise above it. Know it. It exists. Understand it. And turn the critical eye into an open heart.

Our society deeply needs it.

So these pictures are from the shoot.  Real. Raw. Imperfect. Zero editing. The truth.


And you know what?

They are fucking fabulous.









Saturday, September 7, 2013

Okay, Cupid. Okay.

I'm moving back to NYC in 3 weeks. Pretty much since I moved back to Texas almost a year ago, I have wanted to go back, it has been just a matter of when and how.


I have a feeling this time will be much more successful.

Close to 4 months ago  I got off of the Appalachian trail, ended a year+ long relationship, and had no idea where I was going next. I took a bus to NYC to stay for a few days.  It was in my last few days in NYC that I figured out a living situation in Austin to take place 2 weeks later. While in NY, I ended up able to teach a little bit of yoga, work at my old job, and see old friends. Including, meeting a new friend.

When I lived in NYC, I created an OkCupid account (yeah, yeah I am one of those online dating weirdos). Not really in hopes of  a romantic relationship, but just to meet exciting people and do fun things in the city. I think the entire time I was in NYC, I met two people from the site.

One who was moving the next day out of the city into the country because he was a writer and couldn't focus in the city. He was incredibly bitter about New York and wished me luck in a hissing voice. I thought he was crazy. Not loving New York? Come on. Fail.

 The second date was with a very flighty, whim wisher, acid tripping type, who reminded me of an ex, which I found unsettling and unwelcome at the time. Fail...However, he did enlighten me on the fact that you do not need a visa to visit Nepal. Awesome!

After those two experiences, I realized OkCupid was a waste and spending time in the city alone was more beneficial and productive. So I forgot about the account and went on with my life.

I remembered my account on my 10day NYC trip in early May. This was the trip to the city after I left the trail and had newly found my single self again. Happy and inspired. Inquisitive about life again. Feeling very much myself. 

Again, I thought it would be fun to meet a stranger and just chat. I signed in, responded to a few messages, and soon enough I had plans to meet a guy who seemed quite interesting for tea. He was a Cancer, had The Prophet on his list of favorite books, was interested in personal growth and spirituality, and by the looks of his pictures was incredibly good looking, and seemed to know how to have a good time.

With little emphasis on the meeting, I ended up blowing him off and not showing up to our first "date". I didn't think much of it and life continued on. A few days later, with a proper apology, we decided to try again.

It is a damn good thing we did. I'm moving in with him in 3 weeks.
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Double you-tee-eff. WTF.

So lets back up just a bit. The meeting is important. The first look is important. The feeling in that first moment is important. If you have ever read Malcolm Gladwells book, Blink or Ori and Rom Brafman's book, Click: The Magic of Instant Connections or any other book or essay that acknowledges and gives merit to first gut reactions, maybe you will get it. I hope you have felt it before or eventually do. It's a bit like lucid dreaming. I hope you experience that too.

Sometimes you just know.

These are our instincts. These feelings are real. Our minds cannot exactly comprehend them, but our bodies react accordingly. Maybe that is why falling in love feels like you are losing your mind...because you are. Brain off. Heart and body on. Oh shit!

Lets delve into the science of this phenomenon. Please read this article. It's so great! http://scienceofstrategy.org/main/content/your-gut-and-your-brain


So after this one hour tea date with this new hottie, I walked away in a total tizzy! If I remember correctly, we were texting each other half way down the block asking each other "Excuse me, what just happened there?" We met once more for lunch before I moved back to Austin.

For the last 4 months those two hours have been our inspiration to maintain a long distance relationship with one another. One 5 day visit to Austin, one 7 day visit to NYC. A ridiculous number of text messages, phone calls, skype sessions, facebook conversations, a few written letters, and nonstop telepathy.

Part of me feels like I have no idea what I am doing, but the bigger and wiser woman knows that this is exactly the path. It's energetic and exciting...it must be the right way. I heard once that The Fool was actually the wisest character in the entire Tarot. Fools seem to take chances. To go for it. To risk it is to win it! Even if it results in a new direction. Isn't that the point?

My mind still cannot quite fathom this new direction. Mainly, because I wasn't looking for it. I was just looking to have a good time on vacation. But I found something much more meaningful than just a memory on vacation.

I love Adam. Loving Adam is easy. Being understood by Adam is easy. I can be exactly who I am with him in every single moment. All shades of crazy and all shades of simply wonderful. No more of having to live in a "safety" range, or fearing that my partner won't be able to handle me if I am 100% myself. My spectrum of emotion and being is far too colorful to live in black and white.

So, it's a very simple decision really.

Just a choice to follow who and where makes my heart happy. Happiest, I should say. Happiness is ever present...but life is much more fun and exciting with a loquacious, electronic dance raving, hilarious, sensitive and sexy Jew to hold hands with.

Mazel, mazel baby!
And thank you Cupid!

Your arrow is shooting me in the most perfect direction. 



Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Freedom & Security

The earth and her energy,
Always changing, always positioning herself
Where the light and black holes are needed the most.
Her quest of topical balance.

Trust self.
Solace in self. 
Faith. Buckets of it!

Never promise comfort.
It is a sham place to stay, anyways.
Be responsible.
Own your rent. It's all over your skin.
Seek it yourself.
Security lives inside freedom, that I promise!


I don't want a house on a plot of land.
I want a house on a string, tied to a balloon.
I'm okay with getting a little carried away. 
And I'm okay if you never do.

Helios, God of the Sun, what is this?
Big Bang of creation!
Stars of continuation! 
You are abundant.

It is enough.
I have enough.
I am enough.

I must be allowed to see the ocean inside of everything.
I must be allowed to touch the ocean inside of everyone.
I cannot compromise, for this swim is far too precious and terrifying! 

I'm going swimming now!

This is me. This is me. This is me.
Shameless, and full embodied. 


Restless, but rest assured,
 We are not really going anywhere.
We are already there.

The light, the black holes, the helium houses, the midnight swims...

Do not ask where I went, or where I have been.
I never left.
Not once. 









Sunday, May 19, 2013

Quit Trailing Off and Come Back to Center


Quit Trailing Off and Come Back to Center: How the Appalachian Trail Taught Me What I Needed to Know in Just 200 miles

The Appalachian Trail, one of North America’s most beautiful and scenic hiking trails, covering over 2,000 miles, weaving through 14 different east coast states, is a journey and an adventure of a lifetime. It’s a journey and a trip that one must feel from within. Just like any path, it too is sacred and divine in its own right, if you have the heart and trail legs for it.

My journey along the Appalachian Trail taught me many great life lessons in a very short amount of time. Lessons on letting myself be the leader, knowing when to merge and when to part, trusting time and nature, and reclaiming my own happiness and curiosity along my life path.

I must admit that hiking the Appalachian Trail in its entirety or in sections was never part of my life plan. Yes, I enjoy a lengthy day hike every now and then or a spontaneous weekend backpacking trip, but living in the forest for a month has never been a goal of mine. The driving force for this hike was love. Or was it fear?

Since I had started dating my boyfriend, hiking the AT had always been a goal and dream of his. Before we started dating, he talked about the trail. In the middle of our courtship, the trail was still in his plan. When he asked me to jump on board, my go-to answer was always, “Nope. I support you fully, but that is just not my thing”. I kept true to that answer up until two months before he was leaving. All of a sudden, I felt a shortness of breath, not ready to let him go, stressed by how fast time had passed, and not knowing where I would be if he left and I stayed behind.

I changed my mind. I like to think I followed my heart, but that I may never know.

I decided to go with him. With no camping or backpacking gear, I decided to spend almost all of my savings for everything I would need. With countless trips to REI, shopping and researching equipment, and hundreds of e-mail threads to my boyfriend discussing gear, weight, ounces, incessantly weighing out pros and cons of every single purchase, I finally had everything that I needed. I was ready to venture off with just a backpack, live a simple life, and be happy. This was my lesson in knowing when to merge.

My experience on the trail was not easy. I imagined the trail to be contemplative, mindful, a bit desolate, and something more spiritual. I imagined my days filled with ample time to read, write, practice yoga, and make love. In reality I found myself feeling rushed, expected to hike many more miles than I comfortably wanted, with poison sumac on my butt, and a urinary tract infection that lasted for days. I found myself unhappy, lonely and separated from my boyfriend, and I seemed to cry or feel like crying a lot with no safe place to go. I was in one of the most beautiful forests that was just revealing it’s beauty as spring time was just beginning to show herself, but something was not aligned and I felt deeply unsatisfied. How could this be? I had just worked so hard to make this happen for myself. I thought this was what I wanted.

After 200 miles on the trail, experiencing both highs and lows, I confidently decided to step off the trail, to follow my passion, and my true path no matter where that path would lead me. I decided to not be guided so much by external love or fear, and to listen to myself. I decided to find my own happiness, no matter what, even letting go of a relationship, and once again embarking on a new trail alone. After I left the trail, life was simple again. I guess sometimes living with just a backpack can have it’s own satchel of complications.

This is when I learned to radically let go.
What I found was bliss, love, and my innermost center. 

And more love. 

There is a distinct feeling when one is on their true path. It is a feeling of unfolding, of great excitement, and of true wisdom. It is a feeling of inspiration and great confidence, moments where instant manifestation is available, and new growth, faces, and opportunities appear abundant. The true path and knowingness feels fertile and supportive of life. The true path has infinite surprises and gifts to show us. The unique journey we all have yet to uncover lies in a moment’s choice to choose to listen to our internal compass, and allow ourselves to be guided by our own divinity.