Tag Archives: meditation

She Will Move Mountains

As a lover of nature and all things symbolic there is nothing more moving to me than a mountain metaphor. The peaks and the valleys of life are the moments in which we experience our highest highs and, naturally, our lowest lows. I am drawn to the mountains for many reasons, one of which being that they are my natural habitat. Growing up in Vermont I grew up accustomed to the embrace of the Green Mountains. As such, I have always felt at home in the protection of a great mountain. And so, whether they are soft and green or jagged and rocky, it’s undeniable that the mountains are where I feel a sense of true belonging.

On this trip to Poland, I had two objectives–culture and nature (mountains), and I am grateful to say that I got everything that I wanted and more.

I just spent the last 3 days in a city called Zakopane, which is nestled away in the Polish Tatra Mountains. The down town itself is kitschy and touristy, but the mountains that surround Zakopane are magnificent and majestic. What’s more, the room I had booked for three nights in a quaint bed and breakfast called Domki Javorina, was a little slice of heaven on earth.


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I arrived in Zakopane on Thursday morning with one intention–to get myself as swiftly as possible to the peak of a mountain. I wanted to experience the natural and metaphorical high of climbing into the clouds. And like any outdoor junky feels in the presence of a gorgeous mountain range, I knew that the Tatra’s would give me my fix.

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Day one in Zakopane didn’t offer enough time to bus myself to the national park, so I opted to hike up to the top of a nearby ridge recommended by the sweet lady at my B&B. To my disappointment. there were so many strange tourist attractions on the top of this mountain, and it annoyed me that man had conquered this place and put up ridiculous games and restaurants in order to turn a profit. It was a low moment, in which I sincerely hoped that the next day in Tatra Park would rectify.

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Thankfully, the next day did not disappoint. The sun was shining with all of its force when I woke up early Friday morning. I set off to find the bus that would take me to the park so I could hike out to Morskie Oko, a well known lakeside vista that the internet instructed me was a must see. After getting 16 different sets of directions to the bus station, I boarded a bus in the direction of Kusiniçe, which I would come to find out later was not at all where I was trying to go. I had a quick and sarcastic, “oh, great” moment, before I confirmed that there were some good trails in the direction I was headed in.  And so, equipped with my trail map in hand, I started walking. To where? I had no clue. I just climbed and climbed and climbed following the blue trail markers higher and higher. IMG_2577

Along the way I met a few Polish trekkers and we exchanged some basics. They were astonished that I was from the USA and hiking alone in the Tatras. With a steep 5 miles behind me, I arrived at a large shelter. I asked around about where to head from there, and was told by various people that there was a lake nearby, perhaps another mile away. Again, I got mixed messages about where and how and if it was safe or not. Due to the glorious sun, the avalanche alert was high, and I was slightly under equipped for the snow without trekking poles or my gators, but I thought “what would Drake do?” And decided that he would tell me Y.O.L.O (you only live once). So I decided to heed the MOTTO and risk it in order to see the lake.

I walked along this narrow trail — if you could even call it that — and arrived 45 minutes later to Czarny Slaw Polski or Black Lake as it’s called in English. Ironically, Black Lake was completely covered in white snow, and it took me a second to realize that I had arrived at my destination.

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I was almost completely alone, save for one other person, whom I passively cajoled into taking my photo after he watched me struggle with the auto-timer on my Nikon for a good 5 minutes. We chatted briefly, before he returned to his spot, content, like me, to be quiet in the midst of such an awe-inspiring view.

This was the peak that I was striving for, and the funny thing was that at the beginning of the day I had imagined myself fighting against throngs of tourists up to Morskie Oko–an achievable vista for people of all athletic abilities. My original game plan was to go easy on my first day and get my footing.  I wanted to cordially get to know the park a bit before I conquered something more challenging. But of course, I never do things the “easy” way. I guess the universe knew what was best for me on this day. After all, I had set an intention that morning to proceed courageously. The Universe knew what I was craving and directed me accordingly.

At the lake I found a nice boulder and climbed up on top of it. I sat with my legs crossed, inhaling and exhaling deeply. I traced the outline of the peaks before me with my eyes, trying to memorize all of their zigs and zags. I knew a photo would never accurately portray the view. As I sat, I meditated on my morning’s intention, and what kept coming up was how far I would travel for something or someone that I love. Sitting alone, deep in the middle of the mountains, on the border of Poland and Slovakia, thousands of miles from home, I confirmed that I would, indeed, move mountains for the ideas that I believe in and the people that I love. In order to do this, though, I realized that can’t protect my heart’s ambitions from the fear of failure or heartbreak. It just doesn’t work that way. You have to be willing to find yourself in the valley, if you ever want to reach the peak.

Walking back down the mountain, I did my favorite 5-4-3-2-1 meditation that a friend taught me on El Camino de Santiago. To do this meditation you must describe, in as much detail as possible, 5 things you see, 5 things you hear and 5 things you feel. Then 4 things, then 3, 2, 1. I love this meditation because it brings you deeply into the present moment, insisting that you experience every detail around and within you. It doesn’t allow you to relive what has happened in the past or invent what will happen in the future.

Just here. Just now. Just the conifer trees whose branches bow from the heavy green needles, or the silvery snow, which is pock-marked from the trekking poles of fellow adventurers, or the sound of a bird’s wings flapping, or the way your muscles tighten and release carrying you up and down the mountain.

As the sun began to set over the mountain, I had to remind myself to proceed slowly down the steep and slippery trail. I didn’t want to get hurt, especially all by myself. So after finding center from my meditation, I allowed myself some music to help me concentrate and to keep the fear/exhilaration of being alone in these bold mountains from overwhelming me. I had already walked some 12 miles and knew that my legs were fatigued and I still had a few more to go. I had to keep it light, physically and mentally.

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After stopping in a restaurant for a beer and a face full of pierogies Ruskie, I reached my bed and breakfast, showered off and collapsed into my bed ready to sleep instantly. As I drifted off, I gave thanks for the blue bird day, for the exciting adventure, for the wise lessons mother nature always provides, and for the mountains I moved.

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 19–“Sunergy”

Today I walked outside and felt that Spring was in the air; it is 50 degrees, blue skies and full sun. As we approach the dawn of Spring once more, I’d like to give thanks to the light.

In an earlier post I wrote about winter being the Savasana of the seasons. It is a time to go within and to be still. As I prepare to wake myself from this deep winter hibernation, I am encouraged by the extra light and the movement of my clock forward by a solid hour.

This transition reminds us that without darkness, it’s counterpart–light–cannot exist. Daylight savings time is symbolic on many accounts. The time of the year when our clocks are set back represent yin energy–we must be conservative, graceful and quiet with our movement in order to retain our store of energy through the winter. Most people (including myself) don’t know how to sit still for such a long time and crave the yang energy of the light. Thus, it is no wonder that we are all so grateful for the natural boost we receive from those extra hours of the sunlight we get when our clocks roll forward. We do not have to work so hard to sit still and save our energy, because light is in abundance.

So today I am thoroughly grateful for this beautiful day and for the energy that the extra hour of sunlight gives me. May I harness this extra energy I have today in order to be a force for good in the world.

“With Synchronicity, all the resources we need are made available to us at the precise moment that is appropriate. The people who come into our lives are the ones we need at that moment in time. Everything is perfect. We only need to recognize this to tune into the flow. Everything happens for a Reason and Every Experience is a Learning Experience.” - Alex Chua

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Slow down for what?

Recently the days, weeks and EVEN months have been passing as quickly as a flip book. If I dare to blink, I risk missing it all due to the sheer velocity of which the pages travel.

It’s October now, and I can hardly even recall the past four months. I could blame it on work, and the hectic nature of our busiest season, but ultimately I am the one to blame for letting the present moment slip away from me so effortlessly. I recall sitting at my desk at 8pm on a Wednesday night and wishing for there to be more hours in the day, just so that I could complete everything that needed to be done.

However, because I believed there was not enough time to get everything done, every action that followed this thought came with a sense of urgency. I began to eat my meals standing up in the kitchen…because let’s face it, who has time to sit? I stopped working out…because that’s a luxury for people with time. Writing? Who has time for something you love when you have no time to read all of your emails? Meditation? Ha! Sit still for fifteen minutes everyday?! You’ve got to be kidding me.

I could feel myself burning out and kept telling myself, “push through, next month will be better.” But as the days turned to weeks and the weeks to months, I realized that it wouldn’t get better unless I slowed down. What’s more,  I was solidifying a dangerous pattern into my psyche that is very hard to unlearn.

I began to think in terms of lack rather than abundance.

Not only was there not enough time, there wasn’t enough money, not enough love! On this slippery slope, I began to slide. The slide wasn’t fast and it wasn’t without resistance. I saw what was happening to myself, but I ultimately couldn’t control it.  Until I finally took a deep breath.

(INSERT DEEP BREATH HERE).

AH, there it is, the key to it all. A conscious deep breath is an acknowledgement of the present moment, in which we always reside whether we are aware of it or not.

So now that I am breathing again, how do I make a 180-turn around from lack to abundance? Here are a few steps I am taking to bring myself back into alignment and achieve abundance in all aspects of my life.

1. Fake it til you make it. When we have functioned with the idea of lack in the back of our heads for a significant period of time it is hard to believe that you are enough and will always have enough. So, fake it until you begin to see some results.

If you don’t think you have enough money, give away the last 5 dollars in your wallet.

If you don’t think you have enough love, send someone you love a handwritten note proclaiming your love.

If you don’t think you have enough time, sit down and, as slowly as you can, drink a hot cup of tea.

2. Give thanks. Gratitude is a huge factor in how we perceive abundance in our lives. A gracious mentality will shift our energy field from negative to positive, and in doing so attract like-minded thoughts, people and events into our lives.

Today I am grateful that I was able to sit down and write this post. The satisfaction I receive from writing is so much more than than the satisfaction of checking off items from my daily to-do list. Laundry? Sure it needs to be done, but hey, I’ve got time …and 2 more pair of underwear until I actually NEED to do it.

3. Take a time out from your screens. I, like the rest of humanity these days, am addicted to my cell phone, my computer, my social networks, etc. etc. etc. Commit to powering down every now and then. It will help you to manage the sense of urgency that technology creates for us to be (in the words of Daft Punk) harder, better, faster, stronger. The world will not stop if you turn your phone off periodically. In fact, by taking some time away from our handhelds I would argue that we will increase our productivity. The world will continue to spin and we will be more present to the beauty and opportunity around us in the moment.

4. Make yourself a priority. When everyone else’s needs come before your own, you can be sure that you will become resentful. Do specific things for yourself everyday that contribute to your mental health and well-being.

Go to the gym. Read a book. Cook a healthy meal! Go for a nice walk in the woods. Create something beautiful. Meditate. Dance. These are just a few things that make me happy and restore me. Ask yourself what makes you happy, and make doing it a priority!

At first, slowing down means more routine, because it takes a bit more planning and commitment. However, the ultimate goal is to turn it into ritual–the more positive and spiritual counterpart of routine.

Slow down for what? 

Slow down for your health, Slow down for your well being. Slow down so you will reap the bounty of abundant gifts from the universe.

lil john\

Lil Jon agrees.

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 38: The Labyrinth

Release, receive, return.

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I took a deep breath centered myself and walked into the labyrinth. As I snaked around the first corner, I asked for guidance, for clarity, for peace, for answers. No sooner had I wound the second slithery turn did I begin to unleash the truths within.

Walking in, I experienced an emotional release of energy that has been building up within me for months. I let the tears fall as I released my pent up fear of being secluded and alone, which has been amplified to elephantine heights by my recent move to Long Island. You see, although I am a highly independent being with transience pulsing through my veins, being in a new place prods at a very needy shadow that resides within me. This neediness shows itself when I am most vulnerable, and it turns me into a very irrational being. I bcome full of demands and expectations of those close to me, and these demands are impossible to fulfill by anyone except myself.

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Early this morning, as I wept to my friend about missing home, missing traveling, missing nature and feeling so uncomfortable in so many aspects of my life, she comforted me and asked me what I was going to do to center myself today. I had no real answer to her question, though I placated her by saying I’d be extra kind to myself. Later, when I arrived at the train station in Oakdale, I drove right past my home and into the town of Sayville. I didn’t want to mope in my apartment so I went for a nice lunch at the health food store. There, a goofy looking kid behind the counter chatted me up. I told him I was new here and looking for community. He asked me if I did yoga. When I replied, “Yes?” he said to me, “You’ve moved to the right town!” Unbeknownst to me, there is an amazing community of spiritual beings in Sayville and I needn’t look much farther than Mainstreet to meet a few souls that could support me. He told me of a few yoga studios and some other nice meditation centers in the area.

As today was an incredibly beautiful day, I decided to walk down the street and happened on a store called Guru’s. In the shop a sweet Indian couple greeted me and let me be as they tended to another customer buying crystals for her son and daughter. I noted this mom, who looked so unassuming in her mom jeans and tee-shirt. I was amused by her regularity. No dreadlocks, nothing hippy-dippy at all. Yet there she was, talking crystals with the owner and her little children. That’s kind of awesome. I want to be that kind of mom!

After the mom and her children left, Navi, the owner, turned his attention to me. He asked me if I wanted my aura read. Sure, why not? I held my palm out as he held a copper spiral on a string above my hands. As the spiral began to spin in small clockwise he told me my first chakra, my root chakra, was in balance. As he hovered the object over my ring finger, it began to swing forward and backward and he noted that my sacral chakra was blocked. “You’re giving and not receiving and it’s draining your energy,” he told me.  My heart chakra, unsurprisingly, made the copper object swing in gigantic circles, denoting my very open and emotional heart. We went through each chakra and he gave me a quick run down of what I needed to do to find balance.

Standing in his store, I began to feel better by the minute. He handed me a bracelet made of carnelian and told me it is the stone of the second chakra. It’s also the stone of gratitude, and that whenever I see it I should offer up a thought of gratitude. I liked this VERY much (obviously)! He also told me it would give me confidence and eloquence to speak my mind, which unbeknownst to him, is something I’ve been working on for the past few days. Sold.

Then he pointed me outside and told me that I should go walk the labyrinth.

Oh, my heart did a little flip of joy when it heard the word labyrinth! I’ve been borderline obsessed with them since returning from El Camino and have even decided that my very first tattoo will be of a labyrinth and a the camino shell. I thanked him, took my new purchase and headed directly for the labyrinth.

***

As I released the fear I began to hear my angels speaking to me. They told me I am never alone. And I must say, what a message to receive there in the labyrinth.

As I rounded the last corner and came to the center of the labyrinth my being came to center as well. I stood there breathing for quite some time, and received the message. I wrapped my arms around myself and gave myself a much deserved hug. I received the love and felt a sense of peace and clarity wash over me.

As I returned out the way I came in, I thought about the fact that I now lived in a community that had a labyrinth in the park and goofy kids that work at the health food store and moms that buy their kids healing crystals and a cute little Indian couples who read auras… And for some strange and disturbing reason, my feelings towards this place might best described by Old Gregg….I think I could like you, Sayville.

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And while I know that this place is still very new and foreign, I don’t actually have to fret too much about finding people whose souls are as old as mine. They are here. I just need to remain open and they will come.

I am never alone, and I am so grateful.

carnelian

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Attitude of Gratitude–Day 18: All the Things!

Today, I have not had to stretch to find things I am grateful for, so instead of my usual thematic post I am just going to let my cup runneth over with all the things I would life to give thanks for today!

This fine Saturday:

I’m thankful for the early morning alarm that prompted a yoga class to stretched out my sore muscles.

I’m thankful to Ms. Paula for taking me plant shopping, and for helping me pick out some green life to fill my apartment with!

I’m thankful to the healthy home cooked meals I ate today that nourished my body.

I am thankful for a visit from my parents and my puppy, and to finally live somewhere close enough to them for a weekend drop by.

I am thankful for the beautiful walk on the beach and a seaside meditation to remind myself of the infinite ocean of love within my heart.

I am thankful for a nice conversation with Wendy and Virginia, my role models and friends who always inspire to be true to mySelf.

I’m thankful for all the light hours of the day, that I’ve had to do all of these wonderful things!

And, last but not least, I’m grateful for the 70’s…. for this:

 

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