Friday, May 30, 2008

How do you live mindfully?

"I cultivate gratitude for the heart's capacity to experience,
by listening to the way feelings register in my body during my practice.
Particularly in poses where balance and trust are involved.
It is in this way that I stay responsive to the constant evolution of my life's path,
and to how my existence on this planet can be of service
at this exquisite moment in time."
- Jenny Sauer Klein

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Saturday, May 24, 2008

happy birthday to me

So you'll have to bear with my dose of self-love here.

Today I declare: I am a headstand-ing, cartwheeling, frontwalk-ing, eat-my-dust running power walking, loving-life 29-year-old.

I've been having the perfect day... I got to do all the things that I love to do. It really doesn't take much to make me happy...

I should say this celebration of life, love, and friendship started last night when a group of friends and I gathered at this awesome sushi bar, where we sampled amazing Japanese edible art, shared stories, and got into fits of laughter. Thank you, my dear friends.

Then I woke up this morning to cloudless blue skies.

I started my day with a yoga class at this studio, where I stretched with a sense of gratitude and acceptance for my changing body (as a friend of mine says, as you approach 30, the warranty's over), and drifted into a blissful relaxation.

Then I went food and produce shopping in this bustling market, and had my favorite there-are-no-words-for-it waffle.

I received several calls and messages from family and friends.

Then I went for a long walk, and couldn't help but smile at strangers I passed on the street. I walked with a spring in my step, and ended in this park where I practiced more yoga and some gymnastics (didn't I say I would do cartwheels outside this spring?), enjoyed the soft grass, the warm sunshine, and the cool refreshing breeze. As I was practicing downward dogs and headstands, I gazed at the grass right in front of me, and despite the seemingly random, chaotic sea of green, I realized that I found a point for meditation, right in the center of it all: "order in chaos."

It's amazing how nature can really heighten your awareness of the present, and of being alive... I drew long, deep breaths while in headstand, feeling supported by the soft earth.

So of course I had to run walk back home to grab my camera and capture the moment. Thank goodness this park is only about a mile from my home!

(view from a headstand)

So I'd like to share some more of the beautiful moments I captured today.
Who would have thought weeds could be so interesting?

The amazing thing about weeds is that they just GROW, against all odds. As nature intended. And so do we... with every experience, pleasant or unpleasant. We grow, when we embrace all that life has to offer, while saying, "Bring it on." We grow, when we open ourselves to new perspectives, and when we accept and learn from past mistakes. We grow, against all odds.

 It's amazing to see a different perspective the closer you are to the ground.

"If you want to kiss the sky, better learn how to kneel." --U2

And so I kneel, with a deep sense of gratitude, for all the wonderful souls who brought joy and beauty into my life for the past 29 years. Thank you for celebrating with me!

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Friday, May 16, 2008

let love be your guide

"Let love be your guide. When you love what you do, the means to do it will be revealed to you." - Sharon Gannon and David Life, Jivamukti Yoga

It's been a few days since I've posted a real entry, but these days I'm trying to quiet my mind and listen to my intuition. Quite honestly, I'm not the most patient person. So in times like these I find that the words of others give me some direction.

I love what I do. That's a good enough start. If only I knew the "means".

Patience, my dear. Patience.

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Monday, May 5, 2008

souls collide

In the age of cyberspace and information technology, one has to keep up with the fast-paced changes... and I jumped on the bandwagon and joined yet another networking site. What can I say? A lot of my friends from home were on it, and if I want to know what's going on with whom and who's doing what, it would be a good idea to join. I feel like that's the only way to know what's-going-on-with-whom and who's-doing-what nowadays. Even my uber-youthful mom has an account on one of these social networking sites (I LOVE how she keeps up with everyone -- she has that "everyone's mom" personality, and she keeps up with my long-distance friends better than I do!).

On one hand, these networking sites can certainly bring long-lost friends together. Or it can give you the "heads up" on a company doing some hiring. Or it can give you the latest update on so-and-so's newborn baby through online photo albums.

On the other hand, it amazes me how we now have to go through a third party to simply send a message to someone. It used to be that we wrote a letter, or picked up the phone to call a friend. Or sent a direct email. Now, even if both sides actually HAVE each other's email address, we go through this third party -- a networking site -- to make a connection.

Of course, this is just my own humble opinion... I have nothing against these networking sites, and I am one of the millions of people who are members of one or more sites. Let's face it, it's fun, albeit addicting and time-consuming.

At church this past Sunday, when it was time to wish each other peace, I turned to this little old lady next to me. We looked straight into each other's eyes, shook hands, and said to each other, "Peace be with you." In that brief, fleeting moment, I felt an amazing connection, just by looking into another person's eyes. I wondered about her past experiences, and the wisdom of her years, and what strength, beauty, and grace those eyes held. I'd like to think she was also wondering about my life, and what might lay ahead of me. I thought about how alike and different we were. And then I thought, how often do we stop and look directly into another person's eyes? And how often do we say a prayer of peace for another person?

What a refreshing change of pace from online networking.

(photo: Collective Soul, 2007)

"There is nothing brighter, more beautiful, more bountiful, more wonderful than your own living soul."
- Yogi Bhajan

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Saturday, May 3, 2008

We shall never cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
T. S. Eliot
Dramatist & poet (1888 - 1965)

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living, growing, being

"One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star."
- Nietzsche

Sometimes I wonder why I complicate my life. My life could be so much simpler. But I think my self-imposed overbooking and overscheduling reflects a certain unrest, a desire for more -- a richer, more fulfilled experience; taking in all that life has to offer.

People do it all the time... whether it's pushing oneself to run 26.2 miles at a marathon, reaching the summit of a mountain, or diving to the depths of the sea. Or on a different level, going back to school.

The concept of "more", I think, is so much a part of being human... which does not necessarily mean a lack of contentment or a desire for more materially. It's about the need for self-actualization, a term coined by Abraham Maslow:

"A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be. This is the need we may call self-actualization...It refers to man's desire for fulfillment, namely to the tendency for him to become actually in what he is potentially: to become everything that one is capable of becoming."

Maslow says there are two processes necessary for self-actualization: self-exploration and action. The action is the harder part.

Which is probably why I love to-do lists. After thinking about what I want, I write everything down, and I love being able to check items on my list, one at a time. It's part of holding myself accountable, using pen and paper as my witnesses.

We're almost halfway into the year, and I'm s-l-o-w-l-y putting check marks on my list:

  • display photography at an art show: check
  • plant herbs and tomatoes: check
  • write and submit a research proposal (in progress)
  • travel to a new place this summer
  • present at a research conference? (gulp.)
  • worry less. (a constant work in progress)

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