Connecting with the Divine

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In the latest post I mentioned that I would explain how yoga and art make a powerful combination for manifesting something you would like to bring into your life so here it is:

The word “yoga”, literally translated from Sanskrit means to “yoke”- as in yoking the individual with the universal divine energy which is sometimes referred to as enlightenment. The Yoga Sutras, a sort of yoga guide book recorded by an ancient yogi named Patanjali, describe 8 yogic paths to enlightenment:

Yama :  Universal morality

Niyama :  Personal observances

Asanas :  Body postures

Pranayama :  Breathing exercises, and control of prana (life-force)

Pratyahara :  Control of the senses

Dharana :  Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness

Dhyana :  Devotion, Meditation on the Divine

Samadhi :  Union with the Divine

I would argue that the creative process or “art” is another pathway to enlightenment. Now there is probably something about that in the Yoga Sutra somewhere but I confess, I have not studied the Yoga Sutra very thoroughly. If you know of a segment that condones the creative process as part of one of the 8 limbs of yoga, please feel free to share that in a comment. But just in case Patanjali omitted that section, my argument rests in the stories of creation found in just about every spiritual practice on earth. The rationale goes like this: In each creation story there is some divine force (or divine forces) that creates everything. In the Judeo-Christian tradition there is one creator who, over the course of 7 days makes the world and everything in,on and above it and frankly, produces some really cool stuff – think blow fish,T-Rex, rainbow, elephant, lavender, mangos, pink sand, sunrise, caves, etc. Looking at the world around us and all of the wonderful things in it one can easily see that the divine creator is an amazing artist.

When we participate in the creative process we are imitating the divine creator(s), tapping into that connection between ourselves and “god”. Think about how many great artists of all types have said that when they are painting, writing, drawing, preparing food, making music, etc have said that they seem to be channeling something greater than themselves as if they are merely the medium between a higher power and this earthly place.

If it were a mathematical equation it would look like this:

Higher Power + Creativity = Artist

Human + Creativity = Artist

Artist = Artist

Creativity = Creativity

Therefore when humans create they are channelling Higher Power.

Thus when we make art we are connecting with the divine – just like yoga.

So it makes sense that combining these two powerful means for connecting with the divine will make an uber connection.

More on how Mindful Visioning (a workshop that combines yoga and art to make a powerful tool for change) works in an upcoming post.

Namaste,

Mary

*this is a potential logo for a new business I am  co-starting with Art Therapist, Sigrid Eilertson.

See the Journey

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A cool desert breeze kissed my cheek as I tightened the cap on the silver glitter pen and gazed down at my handiwork. Laid out on the picnic table amongst paper scraps and art supplies was dense collage of yogic symbols, animals, ancient temples and enticing foods -my first visioning board. My guru, Valma Brenton, who was heading up the yoga teacher training in Baja, Mexico, explained that this collage would help me achieve my dreams by seeing them. Since then, I have used this visioning technique as a catalyst for a lifestyle of traveling, writing and practicing yoga.

This is a picture of the visioning board I created:

 

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What made this visioning exercise so powerful was the combination of yoga and the creative process.

Neuroscience teaches that the more synapsis that connect in our brains the better we learn something. When we participate in an activity that uses all three ways in which we learn  (visual – seeing, auditory – hearing, and kinetic – doing) the concept is more entrenched in the brain. Add the remaining senses (smell and taste) and POW! even better learning occurs.

Using yoga and art together dramatically increases the number of synapsis that connect resulting in some powerful “magic”.

Visioning can be used for changing behaviors, reaching a goal or attracting something into your life.

I have personally used this tool to:

  • land a gig as a ghost writer for a really interesting book
  • nab a spot on a junket to Tibet
  • manifest my yoga teacher training
  • bring more joy into my life
  • conquer fears
  • be a better parent, friend, human being.

In an upcoming blog I will explain why the combination of yoga and art makes so much sense.

Until then…

Namaste,

Mary

 

 

 

Mindful Muses

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So you know I am a student of Yoga, right?  Yeah, sure, you have probably noticed all of the mindful references throughout my posts if I haven’t come right out and stated, “I am a yogini.” But, yes, I have had a regular yoga practice for about 16 years, earned my 200 hour teaching certificate at Clarananda in Baja Mexico under the tutelage of Guru Valma Brenton, and have been teaching groups and private sessions since 2010.

And honestly, I am tired of about writing about dating.  You may have guessed that since there hasn’t been a fresh  blog post in quite a while. But I am a writer and I  plan to continue blogging- just with an emphasis on mindfulness and how that manifests itself throughout life.  Particularly my life since it is the only one with which I am intimately involved but I suspect the themes will be universal and relatable to a lot of people.

For now, Dating by Committee will serve as the platform and eventually these mindful musings will find a home of their own. There is just so much to share, I am eager to get started with this project as soon as possible.

I am also working on a couple of workshops to share with the world: 1) Mindful Visioning which is in partnership with Art Therapist and friend, Sigrid Eilertson and 2) A not yet titled Laugha Yoga workshop- which will guest start other Laugha Yoga professionals as time goes on.  More will be shared about these two workshops in another post.

Until then…

Namaste.

 

Mary

 

Sailing

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071119-N-3165S-029 ATLANTIC OCEAN (Nov. 19, 2007) The amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA 4) conducts flight deck qualifications with the air combat element of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit along with members of the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28. Nassau Strike Group is preparing for an upcoming deployment. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Ryan Steinhour (Released)

ATLANTIC OCEAN (Nov. 19, 2007) The amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA 4)

Yesterday I was driving across the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel on my way to a Bon Voyage Fete in Virginia Beach for a dear friend. (Cue: Bobby Daren’s version of “Sailing”.) I have traveled Eastbound across this particular connector countless times filled with thoughts of sun filled days stretched across bright colored beach towels on the sandy shores, building sand sculptures and body surfing the brownish green waves.  But yesterday as I headed towards the tunnel that allows ships docked in Norfolk to pass out to sea, my car window open to allow the salty fresh air kissing my face, I glanced to the left towards the Naval Base and a rush of phantom excitement came over me.  It was as though I passed through a time warp to a warm June day in between my Senior Year of High School and my Freshman year at Boston U when I was speeding in my 1974 Ford Mustang convertible towards a day or two of heaven spent with a dashing young sailor whom I will refer to as Trent for the sake of decorum.

My entire being recalled the tingling of every cell in my body that earmarked the thrill of anticipation. The Cheshire Cat smile that emerged across my face when I saw his ship from the bridge because it meant I was close and getting closer to someone who was waiting for me with equal enthusiasm. The freedom of youthful carelessness rushed through me-  certainly I had called in sick to my job in order to race down to the beach at the last minute to see Trent for a few days of irreverent bliss. It was all there for a moment.

I thought about Trent and how ridiculously handsome he was. A gorgeous specimen of a man with chiseled features, dark straight hair, flashing blue eyes and the muscular frame of a boxer. The broad smile on his face when I arrived at the ship. How he showed me around and showed me off to his shipmates. Two years older and a little dangerous  (he had dropped out of college to join the Navy- something that was unheard of at my prep school and he was a boxer of sorts) he was quite popular and being with him made me feel important and special. But other than growing up in the same town we had very little in common except  a frat-like penchant for drinking (Bourbon & Coke was his poison of choice), a love of dancing (and I mean ballroom – all the men in his family were fantastic dancers) and an animalistic appreciation of each other… so, sadly, relationship did not last long.

Though it was a pleasure to remember that moment and to reminisce about my old flame it made me sad that there is not someone in my life at present who gets tingly in anticipation of seeing me and I wondered if I will ever feel like that again?

Perhaps the fact that I can recall it so vividly is a good sign that it can and will.

A Deer Message

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I have been stuck lately.  Stuck in a horrible rut of self-doubt, fear and worst of all boredom.  I have been bored with myself even – a rarity in my world.

This morning while setting up for a poolside yoga class I sometimes host at my apartment complex, I discovered a fawn stuck between the fence rails behind some lounge chairs.  The poor little thing had been struggling all night to squeeze its narrow body forward through the fence. It had rubbed the skin at its hip bones raw from the effort of trying to move forward and scrapped its forelegs to the point of bleeding trying to get momentum on the cemented pool patio with its hooves.

Fortunately, one of the fabulous maintenance guys who come to clean the pool in the morning had spent many years raising deer and when he arrives a few minutes later. He knew exactly how to handle the fawn and work with a couple of his co-workers to free it without harming it further.

The message:  Sometimes we get stuck and end up in a fruitless struggle to become unstuck by ourselves.  If we are patient, (and particularly if we ask our Higher Power), the right people will appear at the right time and help us in a way that sets us back on our path.

It is the same with the search for a life partner.  Ask. Be patient. and in the right time the right person will come into our lives.

With gratitude.

Mary

Oh Great! Another F-ing Valentine’s Day

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I have said this before, I detest Valentine’s Day.  It is hardly the holiday itself, which is adorable by nature- the celebration of love and all.  I like the idea of Valentine’s, I just hate my experience of it.  So many awful ones… like the humiliation of observing throughout the day the growing bouquets of pink, red or white carnations carried by other girls in high school as I  navigated the halls empty handed EVERY YEAR weather I was dating someone or not. I remember one year when the boy I was “dating” sent a flower to a rather unpopular girl in our theatre class because he thought she wouldn’t get any and that I would get dozens. Ouch! Then there was the year that as a young college grad living in New York City, my boyfriend presented me with a Swiss Army Knife – because it was red. We had a huge fight because, though I was appreciative albeit  a tad confused by the Freudian interpretation one might derive from such a gift, he spent the better part of the evening apologizing and berating himself which after a few hours sent me into a rage. Or the several years I worked retail and sold thousands of dollars of nice jewelry and clothing to men who were eager to please their sweethearts whilst my guys failed to cough up the sentiment to even pick up a card. No wonder the day often fills me with snark.

H2, though, as I have said, did a good job of gift giving and being romantic on Valentine’s. He would shower me with gifts of jewelry, flowers and nice dinners. Actually, until recently and post divorce mind you, he would send me flowers. But now he is otherwise occupied and it is a day that just evokes painful memories. A day that provides an excuse for my critical self to hold a mental magnifying glass over my insecurity and nag at me,”Why don’t you have some special significant other in your life? Look at all these couples around you doing lovely things for each other today?  What is so terribly wrong with you that you lack a partner?”

To make matters worse, I recently had a conversation with a woman who is not even moved out of the home she shares with her soon- to -be- ex. She is already mooning over a new man she is “seeing” but not “dating” and boasts of plans for a future together.  And another friend who last year at this time was miserable in a marriage, is 365 days later divorced and starting a new fairly serious relationship. There are of course more examples- I could go on and on. And my male friends are even faster to get connected.  One married within a year of getting divorced without knowing the woman beforehand.  Another is simply “having trouble” in his marriage and is already looking for someone to date – just in case things don’t turn out with his wife. AGGGHHH!

The fact that these people can find a satisfying  relationship so quickly pisses me off.  It seems unfair.  I know I am whining here but it does feel like something is wrong with me when I would not have any of these guys (either the ones so eager to find mates or the ones my female friends have hooked up with) served on a silver platter.  Am I sabotaging any chances of having a relationship in the guise of being picky?  I don’t know but I seem to have a total aversion to being with someone for the sake of having someone to be with.  It seems to me that it is difficult enough to find someone who is actually single. After that it would be nice to find someone with whom I actually enjoyed spending time and for whom I felt a physical attraction.  Outside of those requirements, being gainfully employed, non-addicted and having a positive attitude would be great. So until I find a man who fits those requirements, I will revel in the fact that being alone is better than being with just anyone.

In terms of my Valentine’s angst- I gave myself permission to enjoy being pissy about Valtentine’s rather than trying to make myself feel better and somehow it feels empowering. I realized while leaning into my angst, that I can  stop fantasizing that all the couples I see around me are all happy or monogamous. (Statistics prove that many of them are miserable and putting on a show or at least one of them is having an affair.) I am resolved to  enjoy my independence and embrace all the great things I have because I am single like having a bed and a bathroom all to myself, setting the thermostat to the temperature of my liking and not having to work around the schedule of some sports team’s game time on the weekend.  Besides no one can spoil me as well as I spoil myself. I can celebrate Valentine’s as a day of love for me.

So I started writhing this post on February 12th and now it is the 14th.  Feeling empowered as a single person who on this day can express my love for myself, I decided to go to a long anticipated concert of classical music in my home town.  No date – just trusting the magic that the extra ticket would get used by someone who really wanted it and was willing to take a chance at the door.  I decided I would feel my best by looking my best and planned to wear a classic little black dress with some sexy tall boots and my unapologetic full length mink (originally belonging to my mother and a symbol of her independence – she bought it for herself from money she earned from her own business).  The idea- taking myself out on a date. A date which would be totally magical for ME.  Looking good and listening, unencumbered by concern for anyone else’s thoughts or opinions, to music that pleased me.

Then this afternoon a text came from one of the few single men my age in my town.  It was an invitation to a special wine dinner and he just happened to have an extra ticket.

Here is where I screwed this Valentine’s up.  I agreed to go for the early part of the dinner which would still get me to the concert on time. I Love good food and wine but really, I have so much to do tomorrow I shouldn’t be drinking at all and I should just stay true to myself and follow my original plan, right?  But no.  I was lured by the flattery of being invited by a single man, the promise of good wine and delicious food so agreed to go for the first course then run off to the concert.

Evening came and I got dressed. As I started to pull out of the parking garage where I live I saw about three snow flakes drift delightfully down from the sky. Less than one minute and a quarter mile later it looked like a blizzard. Loads of snow and blasting winds so that by the time I parked at the venue, maybe five minutes later, there was a quarter inch of snow on the ground. I hadn’t seen snow like that since I lived in Boston – very unusual for Charlottesville, Virginia!  Things get cancelled for less. I arrived at the wine event flustered and a tad soggy after walking only a half block in the wet snow and blustering wind, was seated to the left of the host (the person who invited me) and began chatting with the people at the table.  Comfortable, sipping a bubbly red wine while snow continued to fall, I made a judgement call within a half hour of the start time not to go to the concert. It seemed like a good idea in moment. It was still snowing and I had the wrong shoes on for walking in the snow and then I would have to park and walk blah blah blah. So I stayed only to discover towards the end of the dinner and too late to change tact and make it even to the second half of the concert, that my host is obviously involved with the woman sitting across from me. The big clue was the discussion of their pending trip  to Eastern Europe in the spring. At the end of the evening I left  feeling at first, embarrassed then shortly following, pissed that I had ditched my own empowering plans only to discover myself in a confusing and awkward situation.

The man involved was being gracious (other than failing to mention his relationship with the woman seated across from me ahead of time).  He obviously (giving him the benefit of the doubt here) invited me as a friend to join a party of interesting people at a posh event. It was nice to be invited. The dinner was delish. It was my own expectation of special treatment that got me in trouble and I am grateful that  I wasn’t flirting profusely or otherwise potentially making the evening stressful for anyone else.

I am simply tired of the awkward situations that tend to be the hallmark of my experiences where men are concerned these days.

Like the man I dated for a short time who invited me and several of my friends to a party at his home under the guise that I should meet his friends because he was that interested in me. I will call him Double Trouble – DT for short. On the night of the party DT ignored me after a brief greeting. When it came time to leave I noticed one guest lagging behind, the only other single woman present, and she was obviously not going anywhere and was very comfortable. Awkward. A few days later DT invited me to go on a nice trip to the islands.  I asked about the woman. He said they had a wonderful relationship that fulfilled all his emotional needs but he failed to feel a sexual attraction for her.  I broke it off.

But more significantly, I am also tired of ignoring the importance of taking care of myself before others.  If I had made plans with another person to go to the concert, I would not have even considered dropping by the wine event in the first place.  Why did I feel it was OK to ignore a great date with myself?

Oh well, perhaps, one day, I will learn my lesson: To thine own self be true -despite the promise of a good dinner and bubbles  or the potential of attention from the opposite sex.

Happy Valentine’s day!

How Do You Know?

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The Shoop Shoop Song by Betty Everett was a number 1 hit back in 1964 which claimed:

“If you want to know if he loves you so, its in his kiss.”

Though I am fairly unsure if you can tell if someone loves you by a kiss, I do agree with Betty that they way to discern a person’s feelings for you is through their actions rather than their words.  I am fairly sure that I have written on this subject before so I apologize to those of you dear readers who find this a repeat subject matter but this post has been burbling in my brain and must be written or I might mentally explode.

A few years ago I became completely enamored with a man who had a considerable command of the English language. After a few months of spending time together he used his words to woo me and won my heart as surely as Cyrano won the heart of Roxanne. . His professions of my beauty, wit and charm soothed my battered post-divorce ego while his expressions of undying love hypnotized me into utter stupidity. He formulated a verbal roofee which I cheerfully swallowed. In fact I became so punch-drunk with love, I flat out ignored how he was acting.  I even made excuses for his behavior to my friends who could clearly see the reality of the situation. Of course, after a year-and-a-half, to no one’s surprise except my own, shortly after sharing his feelings of commitment towards me, the relationship became slightly less geographically convenient and he rather nonchalantly dumped me.  I was devastated while he seemed to move on with ease.  I share this embarrassing story because the scenario is all too common and if I had simply paid attention to this man’s behavior rather than his words, I could have avoided a huge heartache.

In his book, Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, Steve Harvey makes the point that a man who is truly interested in a woman is naturally driven to do three things:

Profess,

Protect,

and

Provide.

Harvey observes that if a man is seriously interested in a woman he will want to profess his feelings for you.  I will venture to stretch this statement to include women and say that a person who is genuinely interested in another person will want to profess their feelings.  In any case,  the message is that the action of wanting to share this special person or at least tell everyone about them and how fabulous they are is inherent to genuine affection. So if somebody really likes you and has a plan to keep you around for the long run, they are going to make an effort to introduce you to their family, friends and co-workers. In 18 months, this man, I will call him Wordsmith Duane, introduced me to only one of his friends and just two of his family members – hardly the action of a person so madly in love as he claimed to be. The concept of professing his admiration, devotion and love of me to others was absent from his agenda. If we ran into someone he knew while we were out he would leave me standing there without introducing me.

It is logical that when you love someone or are at least thinking of them as long-term relationship material you will want to protect them form harm. Harvey claims this is a primal main function of the human male but I argue that women are similar in this behavior.  Note that parents are programmed to love their offspring and do all matter of things to ensure children’s survival to adulthood otherwise there would be no such things as baby monitors, car seats and bike helmets. At any rate, I have a food allergy to something that is often concealed in foods and though not a death threat has an unpleasant affect on my body resulting in misery for those around me. Wordsmith Duane failed to remember that I had this allergy and even up to the last few days of our relationship, would thoughtlessly offer this type of  food to me.  If he were genuinely concerned for my welfare he would have taken a conscious mental note of my health issue and would have not offered me this food and may have evolved to the place of asking about it at restaurants before I did.  He would have been keen to protect me in order to keep me around longer.

Then there is the providing part.  Men and women traditionally provide differently for their long-term mates and most men in my age range still tend to think in terms of providing financially for a woman. So, in our culture, if a man is comfortable paying for some things other than some dinners out, it is a sign that he is thinking about providing for you in his future. I am talking about investing in things that bring you together like a class you are both interested in or buying you a gift simply because it will bring you joy like a signed copy of your favorite book, a scarf you admired in a shop window when you were out somewhere together or picking up an umbrella when an unexpected down poor occurs (this may fall under the protection column as well).  Wordsmith Duane only paid for things he could figure out a way write off on his taxes.  In the 18 months we spent together in a “romantic” relationship he… Hah, I was just thinking about the things he bought me like flowers when I was sick and a box of chocolates for my birthday and just realized he probably wrote those off as well – I actually fail to recall one single item he gave me that didn’t come from his office as a vendor gift or that wasn’t a tax write-off. That is a bitter pill to swallow at this moment- Agh. But  you get the idea, this man was far from financially invested in our relationship.  I mean, really people, if you are treated like a business expense  then you are engaged in business not a romance.

Other indications that this guy’s brain was somewhere other than in a relationship with me were:

  • A tendency to repeat the same conversations.  I don’t mean subjects we were debating like legalization of abortion or how to cook the perfect hamburger, I mean repeated actual monologues and would tell me about something we did together like see a movie without recalling that I was there.
  • After 18 months of serious dating, he didn’t  know my middle name.
  • He didn’t read my blog- either of them.  Now if you had a practical handbook on a person  you were genuinely interested in or at least a window into that person’s likes and dislikes, you would read it, right?
  • I was constantly making excuses for his lame -ass behavior like “He is so busy,” or “He is super stressed by his work, family, or ingrown toenail….or whatever.”  But worst of all was the, “Oh, but he tells me how important I am to him and how much he loves me so I must just be making to much out of this behavior.” I was being ridiculously disrespectful to myself.

What should happen when a person is seriously interested in you and thinking about the long term?  They want to introduce you to family, friends and co-workers. He /She will invite you to social events with his friends or co-workers and make sure you all have a chance to get to know each other a little.  He/She will include you in family gatherings and chat you up to  familial elders and close relatives. That person will be eager to protect you by driving responsibly and making sure you have what you need to be comfortable. They wi

So heed my words dating people (or better yet, follow my wiser example of noticing actions), you can drink in the compliments and other nice words but when it comes to really understanding how someone feels about you it’s in their actions.

For a complimentary post click here.

To hear the Shoop Shoop Song click here.

To hear Whitney Houston’s immortal, How Will I Know click here.

 

Whitney Houston asks, "How will I know?" in her 1985 music video

Whitney Houston asks, “How will I know?” in her 1985 music video