yum. yum. yum.
“I am not my_____.”
A friend posted this on Facebook and it really resonated with me. The What I Be Project is a portrait photography series that is all about honesty. Each person that takes part is extremely courageous. They are putting their insecurities out in the open, and exposing a side of themselves that nobody has seen before. By stating “I am not my_____,” they are claiming that they do in fact struggle with these issues, but it does not define who they are as a person.
Besides one photo, I haven’t shared any more because up until now I just wasn’t ready. Today I have the courage to share because I felt an amazing emotional release. Our yoga teachers have said numerous times that one day during our time together: you’ll find yourself crying on the mat and you may not know why. Yoga stirs up emotion and creates space for healing. This morning I attended a super intense vinyasa class that truly marked a shift for me. While in savasana, our teacher reminded us that we always have a choice. We can allow for the hardships in our lives to take over and define us… and we can let them take a toll on our health, well being, relationships with ourselves and others… OR we can roll with them. Always a choice. (Thank you Mark Morford). So there I was in savasana dripping with sweat and tears. Not a sobbing cry of sadness, but gentle tears of release that flowed lightly out of my eyes… and I felt at peace.
In the spirit of the What I Be Project: I am not my alopecia. I am a partner, mami, daughter, sister, granddaughter, niece, cousin, friend, designer, yogini… all roles that do not require hair! I am not my alopecia. I wrote it on my palm and took a photo this evening. As I look at these photos taken over the last 4 months I no longer attach any emotion. A few months ago, when I looked at the first shot, it was a very difficult thing to see and accept. Now, I look at the progress in such a short period of time and I think it’s really fascinating… cool in a way how it fell out in certain areas and remained in others.
I’m not quite to the point where I feel completely at ease in public without a headscarf or wig, but I know that day will come. And speaking of wigs… I wasn’t open to wearing one at first, but realized how great they are to change up the hat/headscarves. The downside of alopecia: you lose your hair. The upside: fun with wigs – Halloween is one of my favorite holidays – there’s always a bright side! My perspective has been shaped by the support of my solid family and friends (old + new!), and yoga. I am forever grateful for them.
The H E A R T . . .
In the yoga tradition, the chakras are junction points between the physical body and consciousness. The human body contains seven major chakras that are aligned in a column from the base of the spine to the top of the head. The ancient sages envisioned the chakras as wheels or energy centers, and each one is associated with a specific vibration. The heart chakra, known in Sanskrit as the anahata, is the energy center located in the area of our physical heart. This is the center in the body where love and spirit are joined. It is our heart that aches or fills with love, that feels compassion and trust…that seems empty or overflowing. When the energy in the heart chakra is flowing freely, we feel deeply connected to all beings and we experience an abundance of love, peace, and acceptance. When the heart center is blocked, we tend to feel isolated and fearful, unable to trust and receive the blessings of life.
We can open and clear the heart chakra with a simple meditation practice using the Sanskrit mantra: yum – the healing sound that resonates with the heart center. Begin by sitting cross-legged, (or if you prefer to rest on your back…whatever is most comfortable!). Close your eyes and take in a few deep breaths. Begin to let go of any thoughts about the past and any expectations for the future. Gently bring your thoughts in on the present moment by putting your attention on the area of your heart and take another deep inhalation. As you exhale, say the mantra yum in one long syllable. Feel the sensations in your body and feel the energy flowing effortlessly from the base of your spine through your heart chakra. Visualize the energy as a beautiful green light that nurtures and bathes your heart in pure love, clearing away the residue of the past. Repeat the mantra yum until you feel infused with a feeling of peace and safety.
In yoga, poses that open up the front body such as backbends allow the heart to open. A friend shared this recently and it’s so beautiful (thank you Jennie!):
Ustrasana (Camel) is a wonderful heart opening pose. Practice this pose to help heal and open the heart center. Our heart is the entryway to our soul and it cannot be fully opened and activated until we integrate the light and dark within us. It is in our heart where we learn to embrace and love our vulnerabilities so we can transcend the smallness of our human ego. When we are fully open, we remember our true nature and allow the energy of creation to flow freely through us. Everyday is an opportunity to share the compassion and love that emanates from your big beautiful heart! XOXO
Yum Yum Yum Take good care. XO