The Great Classroom Of Relationship; and Learning To Communicate In It

Relationship is not without complication, challenge, and difficulty, even in the most well attended to and mindful of our interactions. Being in relationship requires communicating, which can lead to misunderstanding, hurt feelings, and sometimes even the end of a relationship all together. As humans we communicate in more ways than just with our words, we use our bodies, our actions, our non-actions, the reputations of our past actions, the way we dress, the work we do, these things and more relate who we are to the world as well as what we intend to do while living, and where we place the value and meaning in our lives. Relationship is the place where who we perceive ourselves to be interacts with the world around us. We have relationship with people, animals, insects, and with inanimate objects like our favorite pair of shoes or our beds. Relationship is taking place when we touch a stone, enjoy the freshness of the air when it rains, and pump gas into our cars. The varying layers of relationship all share the commonality of the way each of us singularly participates in the animate world we live in.

Our participation stems from our perception of who we believe we are and what we believe we are doing here in this world we live in. The beliefs of our experience formulate over the course of our lifetime and the varying relationships we have during it. Beliefs are created in the simplest observations of the people around us as children and the relationship those adults have to their perceived concept of the world, to the complicated study and discernment of heavy and weighted discussions on the cosmology of life and the universe, the presence of a power greater than one’s own, and the unlimited nature of energy in its limited forms of existence in the manifest world.

In Sanskrit there is the word Shraddha which does not translate directly into English. This word roughly refers to the actions we take that are founded in sincerity and faith; the ways in which we relate to the world based on the beliefs we have about the world that rarely, if ever come into question. The practice of yoga asks the student to question their Shraddha, as does life and being in relationship, which all of us are until we lock ourselves into a cave not to be bothered.

Though I give my best effort to being a human of integrity who gives thought to a deed before action, and mindfulness to intention before participation, I have traversed the rough seas of conflict in relationship more times than I can count. It is not uncommon for my sister and I to come into misunderstandings as we rub up against the boundaries of our own beliefs of who we think the other should be and how we perceive ourselves to be in relationship to the other. Currently I am in a dispute with my brother that has us in a stalemate of no communication because the communication we were working with was unsuccessfully efficient enough to clear the misunderstanding and hurt between us. I have no shame in sharing my digressions as well as the truth that I have been known to be aggressive in my desire to be right in these personal conflicts as well as being the stubborn headed contrarian, sometimes even self righteous brat, who generated the misunderstandings to begin with. These truths about my behavior I have learned while in relationship with all of my closest people from my parents to my husband, sister, brother, business partner, and dearest friends who, having been on the receiving end of my sharp and angry tongue, have cumulatively reflected this more clear picture back to me.

Diving ever more deeply into the teachings of yoga and the desire to be a person who lives a life of peace and harmony in all of my relationships, I am required to be honest with myself about who I am, the role I play in these conflicts, (my Shraddha) the beliefs I have that allow the conflicts to persist, what I can surrender to bring more harmony into the relationship experiencing conflict, and most importantly how to do it all with love. In theory this all makes great sense and seems very straight forward however in practice, when the need arises for this quality of beingness, the circumstances surrounding the need are generally immersed in emotions that create heat as they are passionately tied to perceived beliefs of myself upon which my whole world rotates. Learning to communicate in the midst of my passionate emotions without unleashing the sharpness of my tongue which is only a defense mechanism of my ego afraid to let go of a belief that has allowed it to hold up its wall of an illusion of separateness, is one of the most challenging things I have done in this life to date. It truly does not come with ease for me. For this reason, I am impressed and enthralled when I have the opportunity to witness others communicate their perceptions of the circumstances of relationship that did not leave them feeling safe, honored, or respected without becoming defensive, angry, hurtful, and cold.

This week I had the great good fortune to be on the receiving end of a person I am in relationship with clearing the air of their perceived experience of a less than enjoyable experience with me in a way that was beautifully straight forward, without baggage, respectful, honest, clear, and then done. It was a wonderful example of the use of the four pillars of communication which I attempt to skillfully use myself when I need to communicate my perceived experience in relationship with someone who I feel has not treated me in a way that is safe, respectful, or honoring of my beingness.

The four pillars of communication are:
1. Is it true?
2. Is it necessary?
3. Is it timely?
4. Is it kind?

When using language as the means of communication to smooth out any roughness in relationship with other humans that are important to you, it is proposed that you ask yourself these four questions before initiating the conversation. If the subject matter that you wish to speak on is true to you, and it is necessary to speak about to create more harmony in a relationship, and you time the conversation in a way that the receiving participant will not feel ambushed and will be able to listen and hear you, and you then approach your truth with kindness, there is a higher likelihood that the air will be cleared, harmony will return to the relationship, and both parties will feel better for having participated in relationship with such excellent skillfulness in communication.

There are of course exceptions to this wonderful way of resolving conflict. Sometimes the other party is not ready to transition into a resolution of conflict, other times the conflict itself is rooted in deep betrayal that first must be forgiven by the offended party or the words received are merely hollow and carry no weight. In these cases, should the offended party in the relationship find the spaciousness to forgive the trespass and move into a shared space of conflict resolution, then not only are the words that are communicated by the offender attempting to relay a resolution to make room for a new state of being having a great need for honesty, the offended party will generally also look to other means of communication like the offenders current and past actions as well as their body language to validate the truthfulness of what is being offered. At times the digressions between people in relationship can be so painful to one, or the other, or both, that the relationship may perhaps never go back to the freely trusting state it was once in, however with willingness on both sides in congruence with focused attention to personal behaviors and beliefs, the relationship has the potential to evolve into one of even better boundaries, more respect, more love, and true harmony, more so than even seemed possible before.

On either side of a conversation seeking conflict resolution is an individual with their own perceived concept of the conflict and their own ideas of which direction they wish to see the relationship go. In the best of cases, like the incident in which I was confronted last week, the offender, this time being me, listens and responds with honesty and a offering to remedy the relationship, often an apology is the perfect ingredient. Other times the receiving party wishes only to be left alone, in which case patience, and the continuing pursuit of impeccable behavior in all other relationships may be the only remedy available in that moment. In any case, returning to the offering of love for self and the person(s) on the other side of the line of conflict generally generates the best feelings overall.

Having the courage to clear the air of a conflicted relationship in a quality manner can be very hard to do, even though, as it is with most things of value in this life, it is the hard jobs and the challenges that require the most of us that are most satisfying. In the face of adversity and conflict in our relationships with others, and most importantly in relationship with ourselves, may we utilize the tools that were given to us and continue to dare to be brave enough with our communication skills to try to smooth out the rough edges, willing enough with our spacious hearts to surrender the strong hold of our egos, and open enough in our incredible minds to expand into new boundaries of being, which may be better than anything we could have ever imagined.

Being in relationship with this animate and inanimate world is a wild ride, up, down, and every which way between. It is my wish to teach by example, to rise to the occasion and the invitation offered by the classroom of life with patience and loving kindness for myself and others, as I work my way toward owning the title of human being.

I’ll continue to do my best.

In deep gratitude to those who have been patient, forgiving, loving, and beautiful teachers while in relationship with me.

With love, always, in all ways, for giving, in joy,
Genevieve

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Brighten Any Day

Every day brings with it a bounty of wonder, experience, and flavor. Though some days may feel and appear like others that have come before, no day is ever the same. I am confident in my simple knowing that we all wish to enjoy our days here on Earth while we live them. This afternoon as the sun shines outside and the birds chirp I find it easy to enjoy my experience without too much effort. Yet some days, though sunny and bright, can bring with them flavors that are bitter and hard to swallow. It is on the hard to swallow days that a bit more attention is required to enjoy ones embodiment and the experiences that make up the memories of the short minutes one truly has on this beautiful planet.

No matter what the literal and figurative weather may bring, we can brighten each and every day with gratitude. Rather than perceiving what we don’t have, or wish we had, or appear to have lost, we can simply offer gratitude for what is. Gratitude for life, gratitude for breath, gratitude for the opportunity to have the experience whatever the flavor may be. Offering gratitude when you wake up in the morning and when you go to bed in the evening will color any and all of your days with a hue of brightness that will resonate throughout your heart, in a vibrant, though maybe sometimes subtle, sound of joy.

A practice of gratitude is some of the best yoga any of us can do, and the best medicine we can offer our ailing heart, body, or mind.

With gratitude and love in the joy of sharing this wondrous life,
Genevieve

Pain

Our bodies are miraculous and beautiful transformative vessels that house all of the wondrous aspects of our being, all of which enable us to perceive and experience this magnificent thing we call life. When our bodies are healthy and experiencing comfort and ease it is common for one to take the vitality of their radiance for granted. It is when the body becomes injured or suffers in ill health that one may for the first time in their life begin to think of what it might feel like to be healthy, vital, and radiant under their skin. Many people spend their lives in discomfort and chronic pain.

I know from personal experience that chronic pain in the body can lead to a degradation of life on every level. Serious injury many years ago continues to be the source of chronic pain in my every day experience. In the beginning, after the initial injury I focused so determinately on living a normal life that I compartmentalized my pain. I told myself that if I gave it no power, it would have no power over me. This worked for many years until it didn’t work anymore. Over the last three years I have experienced more pain than I ever imagined possible, which when I think of my life experiences and the pain I have endured surprises me, especially in contrast to the original pain of the injury which was so excruciating I find it impossible to describe in words. The memory of that initial pain is almost nothing in contrast to the sensation of sustained chronic pain which brings with it many other variants of pain, and it is the compounded pain that becomes almost unbearable for me sometimes and truly unbearable for others leading to many unwanted outcomes of a life that could have been otherwise. The degradation of ones life can vary from the way one perceives oneself and the rolls one plays in all relationships they are having in their life, to intense emotional discomforts of releasing old identities of self and embracing or trying to embrace new concepts of self that are easily perceived by oneself as forever impaired, unhealthy, and different, disabled, or a burden. For myself, as the chronic pain steadily increased, my identity with strength dissolved, my perception of my ability to be a contributing member of society with ease dissolved, as well as my perception of my ability to be a contributing member of my family and an example of steadfast positivity and strength to those who were in the throws of life changing events. All of these perceptions of myself I had previously held to with an unwavering confidence and honor. Despite my belief that if I did not let the pain have power over me it would have no power, the truth was that I had not processed the pain in a healthy way, and by ignoring it I was refusing to give the source of the pain a respect which in turn would enable me to create a lifestyle that could embrace my authentic nature rather than run from it. The ignorance and lack of respect for the source of my pain precluded a course of decisions that inevitably led to an acute experience of chronic pain.

Through my journey of the last three years I have been demanded of my body to deal with my pain from a new vantage point. Responding to this demand I have allowed myself to perceive the source of my pain from a perspective that permits me to be free from who I think I should be, liberating me to be who I am. For me to experience less pain less of the time I have to actively pursue more rest, less physically taxing work, more yoga, more bodywork, more rest, good food, more rest, less cold weather, and of course, more rest. Truth is, I have in my life sustained a very real and very severe injury, and I walk around in this world every day with titanium reinforcing my spine. I am fortunate to have a very mobile and strong body even though I experience pain most of the time. The mobility and strength of my body can easily fool anyone, including myself, into thinking it is in perfect health, and it is, in fact, in perfect health, for a body which has been severely compromised and is now reinforced.

As I stated earlier, many people in this world walk around in chronic pain. Some of us know the source of our pain and choose to ignore it and others have ignored so much of themselves for so long that they are not even sure what the source of their pain is. The body, miraculous vessel that it is, is incredibly linked to all aspects of our being, from our mind and our emotions to our sensate body and our soul or light body. Sometimes the only way for any aspect of our being to communicate with our oftentimes stubborn and conditioned minds that something is out of alignment with our authentic nature is through pain and illness. The more we get to know ourselves, the more permission we give ourselves to be who we are in the presence of all else that is, the more opportunity we have to feel better more often.

It has been through the continued dedicated practice of yoga that I have had the great opportunity to unwrap the layers I call myself and daily get to know myself better. Through the dedicated practice on my mat as well as my devotion to the continued remembrance of the spaciousness of my spirit and the unconditional love that is ever-present in all things, I sometimes sweetly, and sometimes with great frustration, tears, and pain, discover the truth of who I am. A common thought in the practice of yoga is that it is necessary to eliminate ones ego. However, it is in aligning to the true self that enables integration of ones ego to support authentic behavior in ones life. When the ego is demanding we live up to the standards that others set for us, standards that lead us to ignore our truths, it is then that the ego needs to be addressed.

Pain, not only physical, but mental, and emotional as well, when seen as our higher-self communicating with us is a beautiful gift. Especially, if we choose to unwrap it in such a way that it enables us to embrace our own truths and authentic luminescent unique ways of being. As humans we have much in common yet we are all unique. It is our unique diversity that demands we each uncondition the beliefs we have of who we are supposed to be and embrace who we are, this is true acceptance and unconditional love.

Perhaps, like me, you too may experience a type of pain that may never truly dissipate. I hope this is not the case, if it is however, it is my wish that you may continue to discover many satisfying ways to manage it. In my experience I find that the most profound and beautiful way to manage my pain is with tender love and gentle acceptance of what it is and where it is sourced.

From a foundation of loving kindness it becomes far more easy to manage ones pain, to facilitate a lifestyle that enhances the quality of ones life, and to make choices that continue to value and accept oneself no matter the appearance of and feeling of ones outer package, which is in essence the miraculous body that houses ones beautiful heart and soul. Truly, fundamentally, to be alive is the greatest gift, and even some of the most tortured and ill bodies have housed the most happy and joyful human spirits of all time to set an example for those of us who might get caught up on the surface of things.

If you are breathing today you are loved and you are blessed.

If you are in great pain I encourage you to remember, this experience like all things will change, and you have the opportunity to perceive it however you choose. I encourage you to model your choice after Peter Pan, thinking happy thoughts, and asking for help finding your shadow if you need it.

With Love, In All Ways, Always For Giving, In Joy,
Genevieve

Perseverance

It’s fathers day.  I have to admit I am not one for the rituals of these sorts of holidays yet this morning I did find myself pondering what it means to me to have a dad and what it is that I find value in celebrating with relationship to what I have learned from him.  To truly share the whole story would fill a book as the story of my life is not only intrinsically connected to the story of my father but to his father and his fathers father and so forth until the beginning of time.  When I think of my father I cannot help but to think of his father whom I was very close to, and all day my thoughts have been with both of these men who added great value to my life.
Yesterday I spent the afternoon in the cool and dark walls of the Metta Theatre where I have been taking a once monthly acting workshop with some lovely and talented actors as well as a fantastic teacher who is doing as all good teachers do, and is asking great questions that push me beyond my comfort zone and into an opportunity to find more skillfulness in my actions as well as know my weaknesses and strengths as an actor acting for film. Acting, like yoga, is a spiritual practice, a request to be in the flow with present moment awareness and what is happening in the now. Like yoga, there are places that are comfortable and easy, and places where all the voices of my inner world scream stop, leave, run while you can. Over the course of my life I have done a reasonable amount of acting and mostly I have felt good about it. I have for much of my life held onto the dream of one day doing it for a living. The thing about that dream is that it’s a scary one, one that holds a lot of contention in my mind as being unsafe and unstable, as well as bringing up much fear around am I good enough?
Am I good enough has been a question I have asked myself too many times in my life. I like to think I am not alone in the experience of self-doubt and that the feeling of insecurity is something that I share with all other beautiful seeking people of this world. Thinking of the experience as a shared one brings me comfort and helps me to walk through this life with less feelings of shame.
Within the framework of my self-doubt rather than continue to treat myself like a failure as I have for the last ten years and never try, I have felt the room in my courageous heart and have made a choice of confident curious willingness in my mind to jump the hurdle of fear and go to this class. In class I have been working on a role that is not within my comfort zones as an actor and I am being invited to do more than what comes easy to me. There is a funny catch 22 to what I am learning about film acting. The work is in not working. The gem, the gold, is in the expression of the real experience, not a state of just acting it out. My efforts yesterday were good, however, afterward I felt like a failure and in the wake of feeling like a failure I felt devastated. The devastation I felt I had not experienced in many years.
Again the question of the dream and the value of the dream and the quality of my ability to successfully accomplish the dream came to the forefront of my awareness, and not only left me wondering, but left me flattened in a state of self-pity and self-doubt. Despite my desires to see the experience objectively I could not help but spend a period of time in tears. Luckily for me, I have a wonderful marriage to a wonderful man, Mr. Oswald, who is rational and steady and he provided a listening ear for me to tell my tails of woe to. As I talked it out, which is great medicine for feeling bad about yourself because you hear how silly and mean you may sound, what I found to be more upsetting that the self-doubt, was the challenge I was having with the stage most people call learning. In the wake of my silly childlike self-pity was a realization that I had just fallen down and I had an opportunity to pick myself up, dust myself off, and tell myself to get back on the bike.
When I was five my dad got me my first bicycle. At the time we were living with my grandparents in Minnesota and I clearly remember the day that he and G-pa assembled its pieces. It wasn’t long before my sister and I insisted the training wheels come off. Within minutes of my training wheels coming off I was out of control headed down hill and lacking the required knowledge of the use of the skills to stop. I hit a curb, went over the handlebars and tore up my face. I left the bike at the end of the cul-de-sac and ran home crying and crying in terrible shock and pain. Dad cleaned up my face, and hugged and loved me up. I said I would never ride my bike again. Dad insisted I would before putting the training wheels back onto the bike. It was over a year before I was ready to take them off again. I remember the spring day in Taos when they did, finally, at long last, come off for good. The lilacs were blooming and dad, Angelica, and I went and got donuts at Micheal’s Kitchen, it was a good ride. That was my first lesson in perseverance.
Then when I was fourteen, I decided that playing on the first ever Taos High School Girls Soccer Team was the best idea ever. About three weeks into practice I was having a miserable time, though in theory the idea was good, in reality I didn’t have the necessary skills to play like the bad ass I thought I was. Not only did I not have the skills, I perceived the coach as not very nice to me, and I was having a hard time learning the dexterity it took to play the sport well. One night I came home from practice and cried and cried to my dad, “I want to quit!” I remember telling him within a cloud of self-pity. He calmly responded “Don’t quit, you won’t get anything out of it if you quit. Besides it will feel really good to get really good and then if you still don’t like your coach, and you don’t want to play, quit.” That night we started an evening ritual of passing the ball in the street. By the end of my second season on the team, I had actually become a descent player. The team went to state that year and I scored the only two goals of that adventure, one of which was a header, that one I am still really proud of. Within months I was thrown through the windshield of a truck at sixty miles per hour and the first thing I asked when I came to on the side of the road in excruciating pain because of my severely broken back was “Will I ever play soccer again?” No one answered.
Perseverance is continuing no matter what adversity you face, and as I layed in that hospital bed with the wordless prognosis I refused to believe I would not walk again. Ten days later I was released from the hospital and demanded they let me out of my wheelchair so I could walk out the front door. I did walk through that door with my dad supporting me, and I walked all the way to the car about forty paces away with perseverance, willfulness, and pride. That first season of soccer after the accident was a definite no as it took three months for dad and I to walk the few short blocks up to the plaza. Dad walked with me every day, and by the next season I was much better. The doctors told me I could play that season though they did not recommend such an activity as there was a potential to re-injure or injure above my spinal fusion. Being the willful and persistent girl I am, no wasn’t an answer I was excited to hear, so I went to practice one beautiful fall afternoon. I kicked the ball farther that afternoon than I ever had kicked it before, I’ll never forget it. I kicked the ball so far the coach was nicer than he had ever been. As I walked away from practice that night in the sunset in discomfort and pain from the running as well as the knowing my soccer career was over, I also knew my dad was right when he said it would feel better to quit when I had gotten something out of it for myself than it would have way back before, when I was just in a state of self-pity.
This morning, after what I like to call “having a big girl talk with myself” last night, I felt over my self-doubt and self-pity, and was back in alignment with my attitude of a willingness to persevere no matter the outcome, I thought of my dad and the valuable things I have learned from him that I wanted to celebrate today. Weather its getting back on the bike, sticking with the soccer team, getting up and walking again, or perusing life-long scary dreams, perseverance is getting up, dusting yourself off, and taking another crack at it, especially when all odds are against you. Because that’s when you gain, that’s when you get to know what you are made of, and as far as I have experienced in this life, that’s where the satisfaction in the feeling of success and accomplishment resides.
Thanks dad, dad’s dad, dad’s dad’s dad, Mr. Oswald, Mr. Oswald’s dad, and all the men who persevered so I could “stand up on my own two feet” as dad likes to say, with “my shoulders back” as G-pa used to say, proud of who I am, persevering with my courageous heart, willing mind, tenacious spirit, and capable body, free to be me.
Happy Sunday, Happy Fathers Day, May you always persevere in the face of adversity and continue to follow you hearts desire.
With Love, All Ways, For Giving,
Genevieve

Perspective, Integration, Intelligence and Unconditioning the Heart.

In January of 2014 I suddenly fell into a space of deep pain and personal crises. In response to this I took a hiatus from my regularly scheduled life and journeyed deep into the core of my being and healing. This is a short telling of what I have found, without going to deeply into the personal details. I hope that you will find it informative and perhaps helpful. Genevieve

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Perspective, Integration, Intelligence and Unconditioning the Heart.

In pursuit of unconditioning my own heart to experience a life of more happiness, I have recently found myself in an opportunity to examine my beliefs. As I explore them, I recognize that the fundamental ones are not mine alone, rather they are beliefs most humans commonly share. Humans generally believe that the earth will continue to rotate and that the sun will come up tomorrow, in conjunction with that, we also generally believe that the Earth will continue to shift north to south and back again on its axis bringing winter and eventually bringing summer and vice versa, over and over and over. Humans generally believe that they will die. These beliefs exist because the earth continues to rotate and the sun continues to come up tomorrow. Twice a year the Earth alternates on it's axis bringing with it the turn into, or away from, the light. And, with the exception of a few mystical characters in stories of old, everyone dies. I individually, and we as a collective, generally all choose to believe these things as truths no matter what our religious, social, economic, racial, educational, and superimposed beliefs may be. These fundamental beliefs allow us to have a foundation of steadiness upon which to build our dreams, hopes, new beliefs and ultimately our happy lives.

Looking at life from the perspective of the natural world, or, the way I perceive the natural world to perceive life, helps me to feel more at ease with the nature of being human, with the ever changing circumstances of living, and the inevitability of the death of this mortal body. In the ever changing natural world is evidence that the natural world has a built in intelligence which learns from the experiences of the past, and integrates those experiences into an evolved future. Seeds evolve, animals evolve, DNA evolves, nature evolves.

The ultimate question that nature asks is, How can life thrive? I ask, Why does life thrive? The answer that comes back to me every time I ask this question is, because it can. Why do we ask questions and seek answers? Because we can. Why do we align ourselves to beliefs and dogmas? Because we can. Why do we flux in the rhythms of nature, like nature? Because that is the nature, of nature. Be it energy or something more, intelligence exists in the fabric of all life, and in that intelligence, all life is interconnected. In the interconnection, is the ever evolving tapestry of life thriving in the presence of natures love, unconditional and omnipresent.

In the process of living, I have experienced hard times, challenges, difficulties, hurts, or as the Buddha so liked to call it "suffering". In these experiences it has sometimes been hard for me to identify the omnipresence of love. Not romantic love, rather the love that is at the essence of natures ability to adapt and thrive. These hard times, experiences, challenging circumstances of life are the places where my mind becomes consumed in the story of the hardship. I have found, it is in this place that, great work can be done on the front of belief structures being made or demolished. In the classroom of life, I have learned that it is the belief structures we carry, that become the launchpads of our evolutions and dreams, or our dis-eases and hardships.

Over the past three months I personally have had to face my old stories, my old beliefs and my old hurts. Inevitably this journey has been a process of finding new tools to heal my body, mind and spirit, as well as create pathways that integrate my past and present into a route that allows me to adapt like nature and thrive in the future, rather than just survive. On this personal journey I have had to make choices that were new, that took me out of the places and belief structures that were comfortable and easy, and into places of deep hurt and fear. And, with this was the devising of new belief structures of great courage and love. Discovering along the way that through the integration of my past experiences and stories into new belief structures and experiences that wholeheartedly, without condition, benefit my greater self love, I not only benefit myself, I inevitably benefit the whole interconnected fabric of life that I am constantly in relationship with. This is a direct reflection of natures intelligence and natural course of adaptability and evolution. As time passes I now see these so called challenging experiences as life's greatest opportunities to know love and natures built in love of learning and evolving in love with love, unconditionally. The fundamental beauty of natures love, is that it is unbound, always spacious, always allowing, always present and always available and always intelligent. Just as our shared beliefs of the laws of this natural world; sun rising, seasons continuing and bodies dying, create the foundation that is the stepping off place from which we create our happy lives; it is our own true unconditional self love and evolving relationship with ourselves, coupled with wise discernment, through which, the weaving of honor, respect, and love for others, including our relationships to others, that we can emulate and co-create with nature the beautiful and loving tapestry in which all life is held.

Why does life thrive? Because it can.

How does life thrive? With love, and a natural intelligence which recalls and integrates past details of life experiences into what will work better now, and in the future.

It is a very interesting time to be alive on planet earth. So very much is changing, plenty of which could be seen as limiting or a challenge or even suffering. In this time is an incredible opportunity to look back and to look forward, with awareness and prudence and foresight, individually as well as collectively and with greater vision to make choices that integrate what has and has not worked, with a desire for deep self love and the thriving of the greater good of all life, we will all evolve. Evolution is what nature does after all.

With all this said, I am happy to announce that I will be returning to teach at Shree Yoga beginning Monday March 24 at 9:30 am. I am eager to share the evolved knowledge I have gained being a student of life as well as a devoted yogi on life's path, from my new and integrated perspective. I look forward to seeing you there with your bright eyes, loving hearts and curious minds.

From the wide spaciousness of my heart,
Blessings and love,
Genevieve

Unconditioning the heart, begins in the mind.

Surrender.  Let go.  Release.  Easier said than done.

Unless, you are on a long car journey and you really have to go…then when it is time, oh that sensation…it is one of my favorite releases of all. And like a full bladder that must be relieved, all things must be surrendered in time.

In time, this wild ride of a life has absolutely one thing in store for us, that it will end.  In the face of the truth of our someday demise, is another truth; It is probable and practically inevitable that we, each and everyone of us, will have attachments that we will never want to say good-bye too. These attachments may be people, things, money, thoughts and most likely the beliefs that we have built our lives on.  It is in this loving, coveting, knowing, holding onto, that we become limited and bound to the experience of what is, and feel challenged or even afraid to move into that which may become or will be.  I often find myself in a state of wonder as I ponder the fact that nothing remains forever the same, that all things will change, all humans will die, and in the face of this truth I question how it is we as a collective have not found a way to be more at peace in the process of surrender, in the face of loss, in the transitions of change.  Perhaps there is a fear in the collective conscious that if we (the entire human race) found this way, surrendering always with ease, we would become quite bored?  Perhaps we would find that everything from going to sleep, waking up, using the toilet, loosing a job, loosing a finger or even more, a leg, and loosing the ones we love to be all too easy?  I do not know.  What I do know is that energy is eternal, love is existent in everything, and it is a limited belief of the mind that says “just because something is no longer in form it no longer exits”.  I have also come to understand through the passing days of my own life that the facing of that which we do not know, mostly in the question of what lies beyond living, is the foundation upon which most practices of spirituality and religion or non-religion are based.

To know the unconditional boundaries of love, time, energy, and the universe we must first uncondition our minds of the belief that the boundaries exist.  It is the ultimate surrender, the ultimate letting go.

What would happen if we could perceive love in all things without condition?

What would happen if we could perceive the divine in all things without condition?

I propose we would know a state of peace John Lennon invited us to Imagine.  Or even more tangible, we may hug each other more often, and say I love you more often with deep tenderness and conviction, rather than suspicion or fear.

The fundamental tenant of the spiritual practice of yoga is Ahimsa, the practice of Non-Violence, or as I like to see it, the action/s of Loving Kindness. If we wish to truly honor the beauty of Ahimsa, surrendering our preconceived notions of good/bad, right/wrong, this/that, black/white, and letting in the all encompassing power of love without condition, by feeling, or even more profound, thinking with the heart, is where we must begin.  This does not mean that the value of active intelligence has no place in love, rather it means the heart guides the active intelligence to choices of thinking that encompass unconditional love.

One can actively give more power to the practice of loving unconditionally and letting go of belief structures that do not serve, with a practice with mantra and meditation.  I find in my own practice the following mantra to be a powerful vehicle into the spaciousness of my heart through the softening of my mind.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu

Lokah:  The location of all universes existing at this moment
Samastah: All beings living in this location
Sukhino: In happiness, joy and free from all suffering
Bhav: The divine mood or state of union
Antu: May it be so –

The practice of praying for the liberation from suffering for all things existent at this moment, as well as the prayer for happiness and peace, most importantly, includes yourself, as you are, right now, today, faults or no, good or bad, black or white, animal eating or vegan.  If you truly wish to know peace and unconditional love, you must endeavor to liberate yourself from the binds of suffering chained to the limiting, nonsupporting, hurtful, painful beliefs of your mind.  By offering yourself the same love and compassion you would offer another, you come to know the depth and value of your ability to love without condition and be a conduit of love without condition.

If it is inevitable that we will have attachments throughout the duration of our lives, may we attach ourselves to the ever expanding unconditional love of our hearts and spaciousness of our spirits.  May we be disciplined in our practices of self liberation and walking with honor and integrity in relationship to all life.  May we know when to let go, and surrender like the grace of a lowering tide, an exhale of full breath and a caterpillar going into its cocoon.

It is always truly my wish that all beings may be happy, healthy, free from suffering and know peace.  May we share that love and freedom with courage and joy.  May we all reap the rewards of peace from the surrender of the boundaries of our fearful minds together.

I’m doing my best, and admittedly still learning.  However, in the face of surrendering all that I have known to be true before, and making room for all that exists now, I do feel more peace…most especially when I let the energy move, as I do my bladder empty, when it is full…

With love always, in all ways, for giving,

Genevieve

Into the Darkness

In four weeks the darkest night of the year will be upon us.  The Earth will tilt on it’s Axis, swinging the northern hemisphere as far as it can from the sun.  Somewhere, lost in the gigantic motion, her momentum will shift, and the northern hemisphere will swing back toward the sun.  For a brief moment, that has to be imagined, for it cannot be felt, the swinging of the pendulum of Earth, will pause.

Winter time is a time of darkness, turning in and magic, it is an invitation to be like nature, and not only create, but also surrender and let go.  Practicing long Savasna’s (corpse pose) during the winter (with or without asana) is an excellent way to revel in the moment, to pause in the swing of the pendulum.  Savasana is a prone position (laying on the back) with the arms at the hips and the legs extended long on the floor.  If you find this is commonly and invitation to sleep, bring your arms and legs in toward the center of your body.  If you have a mind that does not stop wandering in Savasana, take your arms and legs wider.  Turn your palms upward toward the sky.  Savasana is an invitation to deep relaxation, not napping, though naps sometimes happen here.  The ultimate aim is to be completely at ease and relaxed, mind, body and spirit, and aware.  The meditation is an offering of surrender, it is corpse pose after all.  How much are you willing to surrender?  Your tension?  Your anxiety?  That thing that person does that just gets under your skin?  Your job?  Your family?  Your life?  Truly practicing Savasana is a  process of turning into the dark, and clearing the slate for the seeds of the future.  This practice can be ultimately liberating if not just a little frightening at first.  It is practice, and after your own determined time you can get up, so why not go for it?  Who knows what gems and jewels and treasure you may find as you explore the landscape of your own being?

Tonight, white snow covers the ground, the sun sets against a back drop of multicolored blue, a golden lining rims the purple and pink clouds, nature moves into the darkness with ultimate beauty and Grace.  As we approach the darkest time of year, may we move with Grace and celebrate the magic of life.  After resting, share laughs and the lightness of your hearts with your friends, give thanks and be merry.   ‘Tis the season after all.

10 Reasons to Walk Softly

  1. Build a strong foundation. (Ahimsa) Cultivate beginners mind, go somewhere new, study with new teachers and new classmates, practice nonviolence with your self.
  2. Open your heart to our shared potential. (Satya)  The truth is, that truth is always changing. Honor your truth, take time for your self, know what is important to you, serve the highest.
  3. Be generous with your Self and others.  (Asteya) Learn ways to integrate your yoga practice with the world around you. Cultivate more skillfulness and mindfulness in the balanced use and renewal of energy.
  4. Reinforce your Integrity. (Brahmacharya) Nature does not know right or wrong, nature only knows balance and imbalance.  Explore and relish in the nature of all aspects of yourself, and over the course of the retreat, integrate your being into a more cohesive whole.
  5. Giving it all away. (Aparigraha) Cultivate a well of generosity from which your motivations arise.  Allow yourself freedom from an attachment to the results of your work.  Learn to do, and do well, for the joy of doing.
  6. Clear pathways. (Saucha)  Detox physically with Asana, and mentally with meditation, to provide for yourself purity of mind, body and spirit.
  7. Be With What Is.  (Santosa) Relax and de-stress during the day, and enjoy peaceful tranquility and ease at night while sleeping on the sacred grounds of the Mabel Dodge Lujan house, tucked sweetly beneath Taos Mountain.
  8. Know your capacity to be more, do more, get out, collaborate and create!  (Tapas) Deepen your yoga practice, and replace old habits.  Through intentionally placing yourself in the position to learn, you will adopt new ways of being: on the mat, in relationship, and in the world.
  9. Self-study leads to self-love. (Svadyaya)  Return home feeling capable and self empowered to meet life willingly, openly, as yourself, no matter how it appears in front of you.
  10. Freedom from the stress.  (Ishvara Pranidhana) Show up, experience the delight of embodiment, the spaciousness of spirit, the acrobatic skillfulness of the mind…leave renewed, refreshed, and reinforced using a system that has worked for thousands of years.

Join experienced and registered yoga teachers Suki Dalury and Genevieve Oswald for a beautiful journey into the Yamas (precepts for being with community) and the Niyamas (precepts for being with self.  Apply the ancient secrets of yoga and invite the future with internal power and open arms.  Lecture, creative workshoping with visual art and written word combine with the sacred practices of asana, pranayama, and meditation to align with your most alive and vibrant self. Awaken awareness and lay the groundwork for a lifetime of well-being in your body, and in the world.  Yoga Alliance CEU’s available.

Walk Softly: Yoga and Our Future Yoga Retreat at Mabel Dodge Lujan House in Taos New Mexico Nov. 14-19, 2013.  Check out www.shreeyogataos.com for more details, and http://mabeldodgeluhan.com for information regarding the beautiful grounds and accommodations.  The Mabel Dodge Luhan House is one of the most quintessential Taos places. Rooms must be booked on or before October 7, 2013.  Board includes breakfast and lunch. Single and Double room occupancy available.  $1425.00-$1725.00  For those wishing to attend the retreat and not lodge at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, the cost is $800.00.

Please call or email Shree Yoga Taos to register.

shreeyogataos@gmail.com

575-758-8014

 

 

Patience

It has been just over a month since I have fallen down a flight of stairs, resulting in hurting myself quite a bit. For the last month, yoga has been a practice of sitting and laying in stillness, resting, and knowing that in time, this too will pass.  It is not my first rodeo, as they say.  Even though I have known the wearing on patience long bouts of healing bring, it has been a small gift to be reminded of the remarkable practice of patience.  As I see it today, patience is waiting with purpose, being still in the not knowing, believing in and leaving room for time to tell the story.  Patience is a practice in mindfulness, it requires only being, without being attached.  As I return to my practice on the mat I practice slowly, mindful of the places where my body has been screaming out for months, as the fall just compounded pains that already existed.  I take into mind what I have been teaching my students, be nice to yourself, mind your body.  I listen, I mind, I move slow.  My body urges me to seek out the places where space can be made, and to move with more strength in the places where there is instability.  Every time I am on my mat I feel my body is echoing the voice of spirit as well as the song of my soul, and my mind is just catching up to the good news;  No need to move so quickly, move slowly and see more, feel more, sense more, observe more, or as Ram Das would say “be here now”.  My body responds to the amount of rest by alerting me to its needs with the awareness of more sensation.  I continue to remind myself that on the journey of my on the mat, or in my life, showing up is what really counts.  I continue to show up on my mat, even when it hurts, and in my daily life, especially when its hard.  Showing up for what is, and being patient for what will be, is the best we can do.

If we are fortunate we have many things to bring to the mat, or to the table, or even more magnificent the game of life, when we show up.  If we are clear enough about our intentions, motivations, needs, boundaries, and skills we are extraordinarily prepared to respond to what is at hand.  If we are patient, we can hold energetic boundaries that enable us to continue perpetual positive progressive momentum.  If we are humble, we allow ourselves to have the journey, and others to have theirs as well.

Today I am grateful, I have a heart that enlivens, harmonizes, and pumps the blood through the entirety of my being.  I have a mind and consciousness to ask questions and to answer them, to acknowledge the sensation of being in the animate world and to respond in whatever way I may choose.  I have the ability to respond with awareness and the use of all of the extraordinary capacities of my body including the limitations of my hurt bones and muscles.  Recognizing all of this is enough to make me happy,  and in that happiness, it is with a sense of ease that I can continue to be patient for the arrival of whatever gift comes next.

Following is my personal practice from this morning, dedicated to the patient and the teachers of patience, who most often are children and old people, the slow moving people, and to the healing, the creating, and the waiting.

Practicing the Art of Patience on the Mat:

(This practice is supported by strong muscular drawing in, and deep long holds in each pose.  Focusing on the surrender of the exhale to allow for a softening within the strength, or the waiting.)

Seated in Sukhasana (Easy Seated Posture) 5 rounds Ujjayi Pranayama, and 10 rounds Nadi Shodana Pranayama.

(Ujjayi Pranayama: breathing in and out through both nostrils with a contraction at back of the throat.)

(Nadi Shodana Pranayama: maintaining Ujjayi Pranayama while using ring finger and pinky finger as well as thumb of the right hand to alternate breath between nostrils.  Begin after an inhalation through both nostrils, close one nostril, exhale and inhale through open nostril then switch.  Continue in this pattern, exhale/inhale switch.)

Sukhasana: Switch cross of legs, forward fold arms outstretched.

Standing forward fold.  (Uttanasana) Bowing over strong legs, fingertips touch the floor (or blocks).

(Tadasana) Stand tall in Mountain pose arms along sides.

Extend arms overhead while bringing your gaze high on your inhalation, and lower arms and gaze to Tadasana (Mountain Pose) on the exhale.  Repeat 5 times.

(Uttanasana) Bow forward over strong legs, fingertips touch the floor.

Extend your spine and look forward as you inhale, maintain strong legs, come to finger tips with straight arms or hands to shins.  As you exhale bow in.  Repeat 5 times.

Inhale to stand tall and reach for the sky, gazing upward.  (Urdhva Hastasana), exhale for Tadasana (Mountain Pose).

Inhale for Undvha Hastasana (arms over head) take your left wrist in your right hand and as you exhale reach- hands, arms, spine, ribcage, head,-up and over to the right.  After a patient amount of breath, return on an inhale to center, switch hands and exhale to the second side.

Exhale to bow over strong legs.  (Uttanasana)  Take 5 breaths.

Exhale to Plank pose and all the way down to the mat.

Cobra Prep: Laying on your stomach bend your elbows and place your fingertips in line with your shoulders wider than your mat.  Lift your elbows higher to place your shoulders with strength on your back, hold for 5-10 breaths. Rest and repeat 1 time.

Inchworm:  Laying on your stomach bend your knees lifting your feet as if you were standing on the ceiling.  Press your knees down to lift your hips off the mat, the closer you draw your knees in toward your heart, the deeper the back bend.  Take 5-10 breaths, exhale to draw your tailbone down toward the floor, bringing your hips and legs down in succession.  As you inhale lift your head and heart and inchworm them forward on the mat.  Rest and repeat 1 time.

Cobra. (Bhujangasana)  Build cobra pose using Cobra Prep and Inchworm.  Move with your breath and repeat as many times as you like.

Childs Pose. (Balasana)

Uttanasana (Standing forward fold)

Lizard Lunge: Begin in a lunge, back leg straight, front knee bent to 90 degrees.  Walk hands inside front leg enough to stretch the side of the body nearest the front leg, not so much you feel tightening in the side body (ribs) of the back leg.  Turn the top of the back leg in and down toward the floor, take hands wider and onto finger tips, (Cobra Prep in the arms).  Look forward and slowly move your heart toward the floor as you tuck your tailbone toward your front foot.  Hold for 5-10 breaths, repeat on the second side.

Wide legged forward fold.  (Prasarita Padottanasana), hands in Cobra Prep alongside shoulders.

Triangle Pose.  (Trikonasana)  In Prasarita Padottanasana turn your right foot out so that the heal of the right foot intersects the arch of the left foot.  Keeping this, pull your hips back toward the left foot.  As you exhale tuck your tailbone to initiate the action of extending your right hand toward your right shin; the floor outstide the right shin; or the big toe of the right foot; on your next exhalation the left arm extends toward the ceiling.  Hold 5-10 breaths.  Repeat on left side.

Uttanasana (Standing forward fold.)

Intense Hamstring Stretch.  (Parsvottanasana) Step one foot back behind you, with the length of one of your legs between each foot.  Turn the back foot’s toes out 45 degrees.  Pull both hips back toward your back foot and bow over your front leg.  Refine by lifting your waist and using your tailbone to root your heals as you bow in more deeply.  Patiently take 5-10 breaths and repeat on the second side, moving through Uttanasana to switch.

Parsvakonasana Prep/Parsvakonasana (Side Angle Stretch) From Uttanasana (standing forward fold) exhale to a lunge.  Turn your back heal to the mat and mindfully placing your front foot so that the heal intersects the arch of the back foot.  Walk your hands inside your front foot and place them like you did for Lizard Lunge.  Using the strength of your legs, isometrically draw your feet toward each other, with this strength lift your hips and move both hips back beyond your heals.  On your inhalation, breathe into the back of your waist between your ribs and hips.  Use your breath to expand into the space there, broadening and widening the inside of the back of your pelvis.  With an exhalation pull your tailbone down toward your front foot, your pelvic bone and glutial muscle on the front leg will follow.  Spin your waist and ribs toward the ceiling, and place your hands accordingly: bottom elbow on the knee and top hand on the hip; or bottom hand on the  floor inside or outside the front leg, and top hand and arm extending over the top ear.  Take patient breaths and move through Down Dog to repeat on the second side.

Down Dog. (Adho Muhka Svanasana) 5-10 breaths. Use the strength of your legs and abdomen to press your hips up and back, allowing room for and open chest, softness in the back of the heart, and deep breath.

Balasana (Childs Pose) 10 + Breaths

Laying Supine (on your back), bend your knees and lift your hips to place a block under your sacrum (the base of your spine).  The following poses can be done without the hips supported if a block is not accessible.

Supta Padangusthasana Prep (Reclined hand to big toe pose) Bend both knees, lift one foot off the floor and draw the knee into your chest.  Use the strength of your legs to pull your hips toward your bottom foot.  Hold 5-10 breaths, repeat on the second side.  After the second side return to the first leg, drawing the knee into your chest and interlacing your hands behind the thigh, as you exhale extend both legs long with the bottom legs heal on the floor, and top leg reaching for the ceiling.  Continue to use the strength of your legs to pull your hips toward your bottom foot.  Hold 5-10 breaths, repeat on the second side.

Setubhandasana (Bridge Pose) Laying on your back with your knees bent and your shoulders underneath your heart, inhale to make your legs strong and feet heavy, exhale to lift your hips away from the mat.  If you have a block support your sacrum and spend 3-5 minutes.  If you have no block enjoy 5-10 breaths.  Follow an exhale to place sitting bones (the boney part of your butt) down on the mat.

Savasana (Corpse Pose) The epoch of patience on the yoga mat.  Enjoy the stillness, the waiting with purpose, the calm and the quiet for as long as you like.

Close with a comfortable seat, and an acknowledgement of your own capacity to be in stillness, to wait with purpose, to move slow, and to know patience.

Love,

Always, In All Ways, For Giving,

Genevieve