My Inner Mystic

reflections and insight into my healing, transformation, and journey of the heart <3

Category Archives: travel

Maui Magic = LOVE

I am shining like the Maui sun.  I am on a high.  I am in love with Maui, with my Maui pod, with life, with the stars in the sky.

I returned late Sunday night from an ePic 13 day adventure on the magical island paradise of Maui.  I spent the first week on my own and had a lot of time to contemplate the night sky and the stars.  I became curious about the stars and asked myself, “what’s a star?”  While we were watching a sunset together I asked my pod mate, Wayne, and he gave me his PhD answer which I’ll synthesize:  stars are made up of gases and the gases are drawn together by gravity.  These gases undergo an elemental transformation which produces a burst of luminous light and BAM – stars!

Last night after yoga I was sharing with my one of my favorite teachers, Denise, about my adventure in Maui.  Her theme for our classes for January and February is Heaven and Earth.  I was connecting to her theme by sharing what I had learned about the stars and BAM, a wave of insight flowed through me.

The synergy and synchronization in my Maui pod was absolutely amazing.  More than once, we’d find ourselves saying the exact same thing at the exact same time in the exact same rhythm.  I remember this happened with me and Rosh a couple of times; I remember one time we said, “I think so” in response to a query from Shayna.  We’d anticipate each other’s thoughts or after one of us shared the other would say, “I was just thinking that exact same thought!”  This happened with me and Shayna a LOT.  Talk about cosmic synchronization and subtle energy exchanges (synergy).

Chatting with Denise, I was reflecting back how stunned I was and am at the laws of attraction that were at play with our group in Maui.  I remember having this conversation with Rosh one night, expressing, “did I attract YOU or did you attract ME??”  I think he had the same answer as my teacher, Denise, “probably a bit of both.”

The whole chemistry and alchemy of the group was incredible.  I saw in each of us a reflection of each other.  Each of us is at a different place on the same spectrum of light, but clearly living in the same light.  Each of us transmits light from amazingly beautiful qualities and some of these qualities shine more brightly in some of us, but we all shine with the same light and we are all moving toward the fullness of the light and the fullness of ourselves.  That light is what brought us together, the six of us – 3 men, 3 women – just like the forces in the sky that pull the gases together to create luminous light.  The light that brought us together is LOVE ❤.

heart rock - Haleakala

RoshRosh… I love you for your larger than life personality and I am admittedly star-struck.  I love your playfulness, your ePic sense of adventure, your ballsiness, your upbeat spirit, your self-awareness, your presence, your openness, your honesty, your creativity, your passion, your hopes, your dreams, especially your dream to be a father.  I love you for the Hope you gave me.  I love you for your good vibes.  I love the cuddle bug in you and the shy, sweet guy – he’s adorable (love that guy!).  And…I love you for your fist bump! 🙂  I love you Rosh.

WayneWayne… I love the man behind the mask and veils, the guy that lets his hair down and lets loose, who has fun and smiles and laughs, the guy that allows his feelings to come to the surface and permeate his being.  I connect with that guy.  I love that you are becoming that guy more fully.  And…I love you for your generosity, your thoughtfulness, your intention, your bright mind, and for being Wayne.  I love you Wayne.

Kyra @ Coconut Glen's

Kyra… I love you for your smile, your grace and ease, your boundless energy, and your giving and loving spirit.  I love you for your strength and for your vulnerability.  I love your maturity and self-awareness.  I love the natural, gifted teacher in you.  I admire her very much.  I love you for the love you give to others, especially in the food you cook and whip up. I love you Kyra.

JoshJosh… I love you for your sweet, innocent nature, for your thoughtfulness, for your kindness, for your care for others.  I love you for your brazen courage, for your curiosity, for your desire to learn and explore, for your sense of discovery, for your vivid imagination, and most of all, for the boldness and mindfulness and freedom you are cultivating in your life.  I love you Josh.

ShaynaShayna…You are soooo beautiful, inside and out.  I love you for your spaciousness, for your flexibility, for your burgeoning health, for the nourishment you give to others with your loving, affirming, and encouraging words.  I love you for your appreciation of nature, for your humility, for your mindfulness, for your openness, and for your willingness and desire to learn from others.  I love you for your love of all beings, just as they are, for your ability to meet them right where they are and your gift to help them blossom and grow into their fullest, brightest selves.  I love you Shayna.

Bright Joy

I love you Bobbi Jean, Bright Joy, for your laugh, your courage, your tenacity, your fire, your strength, your thoughtfulness, your presence, your sensitivity, your playfulness, and your child-like spirit.  I love you for your devotion, loyalty, humility, and integrity.  I love you for your insatiable curiosity and desire to learn and grow, for your willingness and eagerness to go deep, to explore the depths of your self and the depths of relationship.  I love you for your insight, for your bright spirit.  I love you most of all for your open-heartedness.  You have been through so much and yet you stand strong, heart open.  You are an amazing being, a bright, JOYful light.  You are a gift to this world and I love you.

Maui pod

to my Maui pod, with so, so, SO much LOVE ❤

Celebrate! Words of the Season

words in the sand

Several weeks ago one of my yoga teachers announced the she was offering a 7 week “holiday bliss” yoga nidra series, with each week, or practice, focusing on one of the seven chakras.   Forever full of ideas and one who loves to plant seeds, I asked my teacher if she was also planning to pick a holiday word for each practice.

A woman in the class poo-pooed my idea.  I don’t remember her exact words, but whatever she said was very bah humbug, along the lines of “why celebrate the season?” Perhaps she was feeling put off by the commercialism of the season and how manufactured the holidays can feel.  Perhaps she was trying to articulate that not everyone celebrates the holidays.  Or perhaps she was speaking from a place of pain.  For many, the holidays can be a difficult time of year.  Wounds around loss are triggered. Whatever this woman was feeling on the inside, I get where she’s coming from.  I’ve been there.

A few months after my relationship ended, the holiday season arrived.  I wasn’t ready to celebrate.  It was much too painful.  I avoided all things holiday.  No tree, no presents, no cards, no cookies, no holiday music, no parties or celebrations.  I don’t remember why, but I found myself in the decorations aisle at a store a few weeks before Christmas and the pain was heart wrenching.  Cards, trees, ornaments, presents…all of this was a painful reminder of all the Christmases I had celebrated with “my person,” of how fun and special Christmas had been, and how that tradition had been “taken away” from me.  Looking back, I see that my words and feeling that something was “taken away” very clearly illustrates how victimized I felt.  But it’s ok that I felt that way.  I was in a lot of pain.  I was grieving.  I lost something and someone that was a huge part of my life and I needed to experience the fullness of that loss before I could start to heal and move forward into my new life.

A little over three years later (this is Christmas number four post ka-boom) and I still haven’t hauled out the ornaments and put up a tree.  (Putting a tree in a tree stand by oneself is a pretty difficult undertaking and I take such care in hanging ornaments that decorating the tree becomes quite a project).  I still haven’t sent out cards and I still haven’t done any gift giving, other than a few little things where I felt “obligated” to give gifts.  This year I *might* make some cookies.  That first Christmas post ka-boom I decided I wouldn’t celebrate Christmas again until I had a reason to celebrate.  And now I’ve sort of decided that I want to wait until I have someone special in my life with whom to share this season before I once again immerse myself in Christmas traditions and when I do, it might look different than my old life.

Honestly, it’s been good to have some time away from the holidays to get perspective and insight.  I’m not sad that I’m not immersed in the flurry.  For many, this season is a very stressful time of year and for me it’s nice to not have the extra stress of setting up and taking down a tree, shopping for gifts among the crowds, getting cards and packages sent off in the mail, all the parties, family gatherings, preparing holiday meals, and so on.  So much gets packed in within a span of a few weeks that there isn’t much time to relax and reflect and absorb the season and prepare oneself for the New Year.

My second Christmas after my relationship ended I began a new holiday tradition, a tradition of gift giving to oneself, of practicing self care.  I took myself to Costa Rica for a week long New Year’s yoga retreat.  Last year I returned, arriving on Christmas day.  I planned it that way.  I wanted to begin experiencing my Christmas present to myself on Christmas day.  I was greeted and welcomed with many a “Feliz Navidad.”  The simplicity of the expression and greeting was very meaningful, a true gift.  Oh, and the “Christmas” tree I discovered on the beach that was made of drift wood was pretty special too.

Feliz Navidad - Playa Guiones, Costa Rica

Feliz Navidad – Playa Guiones, Costa Rica

What a JOY to be re-united with yogis with whom I shared New Year’s the previous year.  In the beach community of Nosara, Costa Rica I found a new place to go “Home for the Holidays” and in the yoga community, I discovered a new family.  This year I’m headed to Mexico for the New Year to CELEBRATE with a new yoga family and experience the wonder of a new “home.”

In my time off from Christmas, I’ve re-invented the holidays for myself.  For me, this time of year has become an opportunity to give a very meaningful gift to myself – to be in community with like minded souls and develop new friendships, to clear my mind and rejuvenate, and to discover and set intentions for the upcoming year.  The holidays have become less about the hubbub and flurry of Christmas and more about the transition into the New Year, saying good-bye to the previous year and opening myself up to the New Year and all that awaits, allowing the momentum of the retreat experience to carry into the New Year.

To date my holiday retreats have been near the equator along the warm beaches of the Pacific Ocean and I’ve discovered that the sand is a great canvas for discovering what’s in my heart and the qualities and states of being I want to cultivate and manifest in my life.

2012 intentions

Looking back I see that for the last two years I captured words and images in the sand that are often associated with the holiday season.  Yet these words are not exclusive to Christmas or New Year’s.  These are powerful, affirming words that can be intentions we set and manifest in our lives every day of the year.  And if we make a practice of cultivating these qualities and states of being in our lives, we will transform our hearts and our lives and inspire the lives of those around us.  And isn’t that the most beautiful, empowering, and inspiring gift we can give ourselves and to others? to transform our hearts, allowing our being to be filled with pure, limitless LOVE that we can give to ourselves and to others?  I BELIEVE it is and so this holiday season I am gifting myself once again with a gift that will keep on giving.

CELEBRATE with me words of ALL seasons!

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HOPE photo provided courtesy of my friend and member of my Costa Rica yoga family, Heather.

Yoga Toes

My Inner Mystic says:  When a friend of mine saw me in my new Chaco sandals, she said, “it’s like a party on your feet.” I love the tan lines because like the sandals, they are a “party on my feet.”  These yoga toes are “mindful” – that’s the name of the spa ritual nail lacquer.

Happy Birthday, Katy!!!

Staying Present in Switzerland

When I was planning my visit to Switzerland, I had visions of cloudless blue skies, wildflowers carpeting the valleys and hillsides, vistas of the Swiss Alps.

I traveled to Switzerland after spending just over one week in warm, sunny, and dry Provence, France, which to me was divine.  I enjoyed a picturesque train ride showcasing the many peaks and green valleys and hillsides of Switzerland.  The closer I got to my destination, the darker and more ominous the skies above.

When I stepped off the cable car in Gimmelwald, the air was warm, but it was overcast and the mountain peaks were obscured.  The friendly Barnaby from England checked me in to Pension Gimmelwald and I remember asking him, “is the weather usually like this?”  He said, “yesterday, we were melting up here.”  I prodded, “do the clouds usually clear?”  I don’t remember his answer or if he had one, but that evening it did clear up, which was very exciting to me.

Gimmelwald – after the clearing

When I went to bed, the skies were clear.  A waxing and almost full moon rose just over the peaks of the Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau.  Sometime around 5:00 am I woke to the sounds of booming thunder and pouring rain.  I slept a few more hours, hoping it might clear.

The weather was ok after breakfast – cloudy, but not ominous; decent enough visibility so I could see across the valley and make out some rugged formations below the cloud ceiling.  I enjoyed a cloudy, yet thankfully rain free, hike from Gimmelwald to Chilchbalm, a dramatic glacier bowl.  The clouds started to stir and at one point, the clouds lifted just enough so I could momentarily begin to make out the peaks above the glacier bowl.  As I headed back, it started to sprinkle.  During lunch the rain set in.  I stayed inside the rest of the day.

As expected, according to the weather forecast from the friendly pension staff, things were still gloomy the next day.  My trusty travel guide writer, Rick Steves, recommended if it were a cloudy day, to head down to the Lauterbrunnen Valley to take in all the waterfalls.  I did just that.  I call this valley the Yosemite of Switzerland.  It is a giant U-shaped valley carved out by a massive glacier during one of the ice ages and a multitude of waterfalls cascade down the valley walls.

Clouds hugged the valley walls, but the scenery was still very majestic.  I was aware that I felt disappointment that the scenery was obscured by the clouds, but I paused and mindfully chose to stay present, to allow my experience to be moment by moment and let got of expectation.

present moment: finding a 4 leaf clover

I felt a sense of gratitude that I had a mindfulness practice that enabled me to be with and embrace what is, to more deeply appreciate the beauty of each moment.  As I made my way down the valley, the clouds grew darker and started to express themselves:  rain.

Later that afternoon the weather shifted:  the clouds broke, the vast blue sky emerged, and the radiant sun dried things out.  Of all my moments in Switzerland, this may have been my hallelujah moment.  I was sitting under cover of the eave of the town church when the sun broke through the clouds.

hallelujah! here comes the light

I bolted out into the light.  As I took in and was warmed by the bright light filling the valley, I could practically hear angels singing “hallelujah” from the heavens.

hallelujah moment – Lauterbrunnen Valley

In a moment of inspiration, I took a cable car up to the west rim of the valley for a gentle hike back to Gimmelwald.  Though still somewhat obstructed by clouds, the views of the mountain peaks across the valley were exciting and energizing.  But…it didn’t last.  About 20 minutes into my 1.5 hour hike, the clouds closed up and drew in and it started to rain.

As I walked with my head down, eyes focused on the path that I strained to make out in the dense clouds, a voice from my past played in my mind, “I’ll never be good enough for you.”  I knew this voice.  I remembered when these words were spoken to me.  This was one of the many incredibly hurtful things said to me by “my person” at the end of our relationship, when he finally, after 10 years, decided to “get real.”  Something about being in less than perfect conditions, on a vacation dreamt up from hope and expectation, brought this memory from the deep recesses of my mind.

After I got back to Seattle and my mind cleared and I transitioned out of travel mode, I was able to take a closer look at this moment and dig deeper into the issue that surfaced:  perfection.  I was triggered by a less than perfect, less than ideal situation which brought up a memory of a time where the words spoken made me feel that anything that is less than perfect is not good enough for me.  I am sensitive to this notion of “perfection” because I have high standards and strive for excellence and have a tendency to influence outcomes instead of letting things emerge.

Even though I had enough presence of mind and spirit to recognize I was in less than ideal weather conditions and instead chose to practice mindfulness, I clearly was not immune to the “imperfections” of wet, gloomy weather and cloudy skies when my heart desired sweeping vistas and hallelujah moments.

I think everyone can identify things in their lives that they want to be perfect:  a new purchase, a dinner prepared for special guests, our hair for a special occasion, the family holiday photo, a party that we host, the restaurant chosen for our birthday dinner, the colors we are painting in our new house, the weather on a special day, our vacation.  Where does our need, or more specifically our propensity, for perfection come from?  Some of it is rooted in a desire for excellence.  This can be a positive thing.  It keeps us striving to do better, to improve, to grow.  Some of our desire for perfection is fed by the idealism created through culture and media.  This can set us up for disappoint.

Much of our compulsion toward perfection comes from a place of inflexibility within us.  We have a tendency to hold on to an ideal or expectation and have an inability or a difficult time letting go and adapting to unforeseen or unimagined circumstances, to unexpected outcomes.  We have a difficult time accepting and feeling contented with things just as they are and this leaves us feeling let down, disappointed, disgruntled.  We see what is not perfect.   We do not feel happy or content with what is.

I pondered this:  Why is it that some people see more perfection and beauty and some people see more imperfection or flaws?  I believe that the lens through which we see and experience the world is shaped by our life experiences, by how light or heavy those experiences.  If we had loving, nurturing parents and a childhood of stability, we probably see our experiences through a brighter lens.  If we had a tumultuous childhood filled with strife and instability, we probably see the world through a darker lens.  Our experiences shape our pattern of thinking.  I believe this “not good enough” mentality is rooted in hard wired negative thoughts patterns which develop during difficult times or unhealthy situations or relationships.  Without the ability or mindfulness it takes to begin to rewire our thought patterns (our neural pathways) and let more light and beauty filter in through our lens, we get stuck seeing imperfection where in fact so much perfection exists.

As one who has lived through heavy and painful experiences and had a very tumultuous childhood, I know how hard it can be to let the light come in, to see the vast beauty and perfection that surrounds us.  How do we do it?  We cultivate.  We get out our gardening tools and plant seeds. We plant gratitude, peace, love.  We nurture new growth.  We begin to see the blossoms of contentment, happiness, joy emerge in our lives and fill our being.  We become less rigid and more flexible.  We soften.  We begin to feel and see the love and beauty that exist all around us and in us all the time.

What is perhaps most illuminating about my hallelujah moment, when I stepped out from under the eave of the church in Switzerland, is that the Universe gave me this very important message:  come out of the darkness and into the light; let the light fill your heart and warm your spirit, allow yourself to feel love, allow yourself to be love and you will see clearly and without obstruction, the infinite beauty that surrounds you in all its perfection.

PRESENT MOMENTS

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Saluting the Sun

La Madelene, Provence, France

La Madelène, Provence, Southern France

On the heals of the summer solstice, perhaps my favorite day of the year, our yoga retreat instructor, Anne, shared this reading at the end of our first morning yoga practice, a practice enjoyed on the deck of La Madelène whilst looking out over the vineyards and facing the sun:

Some people say there is a new sun every day, that it begins its life at dawn and lives for one day only.  They say you have to welcome it.  You have to make the sun happy.  You have to make a good day for it.  You have to make a good world for it to live its one-day life in.  And the way to start, they say, is just by looking east at dawn.  When they look east tomorrow, you can too.  Your song will be an offering — and you’ll be one person in one more place at one more time in the world saying hello to the sun, letting it know you are there.  If the sky turns a color sky never was before, just watch it.  That’s part of the magic.  That’s the way to start a day.                               ~ Bryd Baylor

Provence is divine!  I absolutely love the climate here (warm, dry, arid) and of course I love and salute the sun!