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

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What I learned In Preschool, an Ode to Leaping Lizards

In the end of May 1999 I graduated from High School with intentions to set out and conquer the world. It was a typical adolescent understanding of the world as conquerable, coupled with an ignorant belief that the world would arrange itself to fit into me. Despite my delusions of grandeur I enrolled in University in Southern New Mexico where I lasted one semester before deciding Las Cruces, higher education, spending my days in classrooms that hummed under the heat of florescent lights, and the concept of academia, just wasn’t for me. Again, my adolescent hubris in alignment with my ignorance was calling the shots.

As I perceive that choice now, I can say it was a thoughtless step that took me from my dorm room back into my mother’s home where I found myself suffering from the only bout of insomnia I have ever had in my life. To fight off the insomnia I read voraciously, filling the sleepless nights with books, most memorably, the Dalai Lama’s Ethics For The New Millennium. I knew at the time, as I read Ethics For The New Millennium, it would be pivotal to the rest of my life. I also knew my life was definitely changing, I wasn’t sure how, but I was sure I would never be the same.

Weeks went by and I spun my wheels wondering how I was now going to conquer the world. News traveled to my best friends mom who owned a Preschool that I was back in town. She called me and told me that she needed a substitute teacher and I should come to the school and give it a shot. I remember being resistant, telling her I didn’t like kids and I wasn’t sure if I was the right person. Lucky for me Jill would not take no for an answer. She rejected my resistance with an intelligent and insightful response. “It’s not that you don’t like kids,” she said, “It’s just that you haven’t spent any time with them and you’re afraid of them. You can stop being afraid and get to know some. Besides, you might actually like it.” By this time Jill had been in the business of kids for more years than I had been alive and she knew what she was talking about. In the end I had nothing better to do and I knew that spinning my wheels wasn’t getting me anywhere, least of all, on top of the world.

Once I got over the initial fear, I found myself, as Jill said I would, really enjoying the company of children. In alignment with the teachings and wisdom I had gathered in the Dalai Lama’s Ethics For The New Millennium, it was obvious that these children understood all anyone really wanted was to be happy. From the onset I could see that the children had excellent parameters for what was fair in the context of relationship in the relationships they were having with each other. The question of were they allowed to be happy while others were seeking their own happiness seemed to be the biggest problem to solve, aside from the usual Preschool dilemmas of nap time, wet pants, and sitting in a chair while eating lunch. It became apparent to me that I had traded in higher education for what in my perspective, became an even higher education, an education in being nice, or in yogic terms, being mindful and acting from a place of nonviolence.

This May, many of those fabulous little teachers of mine graduated from High School, and Jill closed the doors to Leaping Lizards after 35 years of educating children big and small. It blows my mind to think how much time has passed and now those children are the age I was when I was so curiously learning from them. Over the last fifteen years I have continued to study the value of mindfulness in relationship, with self as well as the world around me. I hold to the knowing that being kind and treating others and ourselves well while not squashing anyone’s happiness is the most important thing any of us can do, no matter the size and age of our bodies. As the years have rolled on I have gained new tools that enable me to be present with my skillfulness in thoughts and actions of kindness, balance, and the obfuscated qualities of fairness. The practice of yoga adds tools to the toolbox as well as enhances the quality and respond-ability of these skills daily. I still like to play with toys, swing, slide, and play hide and seek. Story time is my favorite time of day and recently I am convinced everything anyone ever really needs to know can be learned from Peter Pan, hang onto your shadow and think happy thoughts.

Teaching at Leaping Lizards as well as reading Ethics For The New Millennium definitely changed the way I perceive the world around me, especially the way I perceive the people living in it, and my life has been better for the choice of dropping out of college every day since. Though Preschool may be many decades behind me, I continue daily to open the notebook to my deeper and higher learning through wonderful childlike play, and I continue to refine the greatest lesson I learned there, being kind. Through play I am often surprised and delighted to find myself enjoying the pleasure of killing dragons with my kindness and sometimes even turning them into my best friends. Rolling around on the floor in Cobra and other animal poses opens my heart and enables me to charm the venomous snakes and dangerous beasts within. Sinking into the seat of my inner warrior and exhaling helps me to steadfastly be more determined to breathe kindness, love, and humility into all of my actions through the shining and strong armor of my happy heart.

The thing about being kind and loving is that it is always rewarding. Being kind sometimes takes a little courage like going to the first day of school or making friends with someone new in the playground, and being kind especially takes courage in the face of adversity and fear. However, like Jill so elegantly said to me, “you might actually like it.” I believe being kind always beats the alternative.

If I could pass on any words of wisdom to those children now they would be to not loose your playful spirit, remember hitting hurts, it’s good to take naps, and hugs always feel good. Higher education is always important and being open to learning can be more valuable than the environment you learn in. You are still young and it is always valuable to make well informed decisions, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

I happily graduated from Preschool in May of 2001 at the ripe old age of twenty, knowing then that my desires to conquer the world were never really going to fulfill me. Rather, than and now, I graduated to just wanting to love the world, all of it, like a soft kitty cat, a great story, my dearest invisible childhood friend, or a day of absolute play.

My deepest gratitude continues to go to Jill Sanger for the giving me the opportunity to assimilate the teachings of the Dalai Lama in the classrooms of Leaping Lizards, incorporating the values of mindfulness, kindness, fairness, creative problem solving, and the positive vibrant love of play. It was my first peek into a life of an unconditioned heart.

With Love All Ways For Giving,
Genevieve

I, YOU, WE

More often than not when seeing ourselves in the world and forming our individual identities we overlook that which connects us and see only that which separates us. Perceiving our lives apart from the world in which we live, rather than as a-part of the whole connected to the people, animals, and other living things that share this world with us is perhaps rooted in our intrinsic desire to be unique, or to represent the personal and authentic expression of the divine which we are in a world where so much is similar. When looking at our lives and the world from this perspective, that which separates us, it becomes clear that there are many aspects to living that are authentic to each and every person. We each have our own unique stories of life, the ways we experience love and the stamps of trauma that have imprinted in our memories specific warnings of safety and danger. Along side the stories of our personal emotional experiences are the triumphs of success and the pitfalls of failures we perceive as part of our self concept, our personal skills and talents, or lack there of. No matter these stories, the truth with which they stand, and the way they have shaped the ever unfolding days of our lives, unique and personal as they are, there is an underlying reality of inalienable truths we all share, without which none of us would be here at all to have any experience of living whatsoever.

Without water and oxygen there would be no life on this planet. All living things on planet earth play a role in the continued cycle of the use and replenishment of both of these life giving resources. Without the sun and it’s ever-giving generosity to which our planets gravitational pull clings, and under which life on this Earth thrives, we would never know the concept of self. Without the incredible power of the creative energetic force that enables plants to grow in the earth, and babies to grow in the bellies of their mammalian mothers, or the eggs of their reptilian progenitors, there would be no experience of what we call separate. Without the nutrients that are given to the earth in the death and decay of plant life, or the digestion in our human bodies of the nutrients we take in as a source of energy, be it from plant or animal based food, there would be no transference that inevitably becomes the creative force of innovation, cooperation, and exploration. Without each other there would be no reflection of what hurts and what feels good, what words mean, where to cultivate our energy to fill a needed gap, where to hold boundaries when energy is excessive and overflowing flooding out the cultivation of new life. Together we make up the world we live in, the reality that holds the space for us to experience the perception of our authentic and unique I as well as what delineates us from other humans who truly are more like us than different. Without this planet, this solar system, this galaxy, this universe, our mothers and fathers, their mothers and fathers, our obnoxious or loved neighbors, our hated or respected foes, there would be no you or me or we at all.

No matter your personal story, it is and will always be true that you, me, and all of life are eternally bound. As you continue to write your story, as I continue to write mine, we write a bigger story together. Every detail, every breath, every drink of water connects us to one another. If and when you feel alone or separate from this world in which you live and the other living beings sharing it with you, take a moment to remember that if nothing else you share water and you share breath with all life, past, present, and future.

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

A Beautiful Paradox

There is a beautiful paradox in the art of “Being Here NOW”. Each present moment of life is a moment filled with the potential to drive forward the desires of ones future, as it is also inextricably linked with the moments of ones past, which inevitably effect the choices of the now and the reality of that which will come.
“Being here NOW” is a key factor to living life in a state of unconditional love. Being creatures of story and detail, it is not uncommon to get caught up in the story of the lives we have lived. It is part of our nature to pull from those stories as we make choices for our future. The stories arise from a simple truth, we have hearts that desire to feel delight and joy, and we are also fragile and easily scarred. The ability to be in the present moment allows for the feeling and awareness of the present moment. Being in the present moment also allows for newness when necessary, for it is in the present moment that we have the point of power for the future. The past only has as much control over ones current choices as one chooses to give it. To better enable for oneself a joyful, comfortable, harmonious, and peaceful life it serves to have a mindfulness practice which one can utilize to stay in each moment. Comfort arises with the practical application of mindfulness and spiritual tools that enable the increase of happiness and ease no matter the outward circumstances.
Though I think it is simple in theory “being here NOW” is the most challenging of my personal practices. As I seek my own steady state of comfort, peace, harmony and joy, the biggest challenge I find for myself is to not be so focused on the big picture of my life that I neglect to enjoy the nectar of each day, i.e. “being here NOW.” However, as I continue my diligent journey, I do continue to find it is easier and simpler to live each day enjoying it as it arises, than to try to work out my whole life in one day.
Unconditioning the heart is unconditioning the mind. It is delighting in the dance of the beautiful paradox, the wildness in the chaos, the curiosity in the not knowing, all while enjoying the feeling of the spaciousness of your heart as your feet float away from the floor,right NOW.
With Love,
All Ways,
For Giving,
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.