What I'm Writing About
© Copyright 2011-2016
All original content on this blog is copyrighted by Bobbi Jean Ewing.
reflections and insight into my healing, transformation, and journey of the heart <3
Five years ago – June 27, 2009 – was my wedding day.
For four of the past five years I’ve taken myself some place for this anniversary – Italy, Bali, France, and Spain. Those first years it was especially important for me to get away, to take care of myself around this date. I’ve created a lot of new meaning and transformed what June 27 represents in my life. Instead of representing the beginning of the end, the explosion of my 10 year relationship just weeks after our wedding day, this date has become a celebration, an anniversary of my journey of discovery, transformation, and awakening.
That first anniversary was the biggest and the beginning of me reclaiming and transforming what June 27 means in my life. I remember saying to myself and writing in my journal something along the lines of, “my wedding day was the biggest day of my life, but this day is bigger; this day is the beginning of my NEW life.”
June 27, 2010 was the very first day of my first ever yoga retreat. That day, in the hills of Umbria in Italy, I did the biggest yoga poses of my life – adho mukha vrksasana (handstand), pincha mayurasana (peacock), and urdhva dhanurasana (wheel) – with help, of course. Reflecting back I find it very curious that the retreat leader chose me to demo supported wheel pose. I’m pretty sure every single retreat participant supported me in getting up into the pose. Wheel was the pose that did it, the pose that cracked my heart open.
At lunch after our morning yoga I started to feel shaky, started to feel my emotions rising to the surface. I found a safe, secluded, and sheltered spot under some oak trees. I lay down in the middle of a country lane and sobbed uncontrollably for hours – what a most glorious sob-fest. I remember having a sense that the branches of the trees overhead were embracing me. I remember visualizing my closest friends, and all those that supported me through my personal tragedy, in a circle around me.
Before I left my refuge under the canopy of oak trees, I went to each of the trees and thanked each one for holding me, for creating this space for me. I stopped at the last tree, was about to thank it, but noticed it was being choked by ivy, its branches broken. I realized this tree was not part of the “circle” of trees that had supported and held me; its branches were separate from the other trees. In this tree, I saw him – broken and diseased. Tears came to my eyes. I paused and then pulled myself away from that tree. I walked away. I let go. I headed down the lane back to the villa, but I knew I was setting out on my own path, my journey into my new life.
This year, four years from that day in Italy and five years from my wedding date, was the first year I was home for this anniversary. Five years. Half a decade, I knew I wanted to do something BIG, something sacred to honor myself and this anniversary. Four weeks before my anniversary, I realized June 27 would be a new moon and in that instant a WILD idea lit up in my mind: run WILD and naked in the woods. In the span of one afternoon, I created a vision for a sacred ceremony and WILD adventure.
Last Friday, June 27, 2014, nine of us, myself and 8 other spirited souls, shared a wild. exhilarating. enlivening. expansive. liberating. night together. I have never laughed and screamed (in shock and glee) so hard in my life. Felt so good. What a release!!!
The night was magical. Smudging. Calling in energies. Circle. blue Knots. Screeching owls (pretty much on que). Fire. Sharing / Being witnessed. Poetry. Personal Vows. Dancing. Playful exhibition. Screaming. Running naked in the dark. Running naked in the rain. Howls. Cackles. Laughter. Reflection. Rain sizzling. Rain steaming. on our warm, bright fire. Blessings. Singing. Love. JOY.
I vow to realize my full potential.
I vow to realize my life’s purpose, to do what I am meant to do on this earth and in this life.
Though we gathered to honor my anniversary, the experience was shared and touched and moved each person present in different ways. One woman shared, “I haven’t had this much fun in a very long time.” Another woman said something to the effect of, “I feel like a part of me came back to life.” Yet another woman said, “It was very healing and really powerful to see you ASK to be witnessed. It was exhilarating to be naked in the rain and to run into the dark.” Another expressed that she was humbled to be in company with others who were meeting their edge and stepping outside their comfort zones.
I slept soundly that night. I felt at peace, contented. I received a highly symbolic message in my dreams. One of my teachers and model of ritual and sacred ceremony, Cosetta Romani, wrote a note for me that said:
Beyond my own self-expansion, my experience of creating and officiating a sacred ceremony to honor myself and my anniversary has revealed my unique gifts and birthed a new dream: a dream to be a CELEBRANT, to create sacred rituals and ceremonies to remember, honor, and celebrate life.
washed by rain, both fierce and gentle
warmed by light, both harsh and tender
become the furrows
where seeds long buried burst their hardened hulls at last
And fall gently into the fertile earth, made rich by cruel disaster.
Dreams long stifled dare to send forth tender shoots
(from a poem written for me for my anniversary by my good friend, Kristen)
A seed has burst through its hull!!!
My new dream was officially born on July 1, 2014, my deceased brother’s 44th birthday. My brother died of brain cancer at the age of 27.
Grazie Mille, Cosetta, for the inspiration. Thank you, Robert, for planting Cosmic seeds. Thank you, Kristen, for the beautiful poem, for truly understanding the depths of my pain and wounding. Thank you, naked Rosh, for inspiring me to grow and stretch, to love and be love.
Thank you most of all to the 8 spirited souls who trusted me, showed up with open hearts, and filled the forest with laughter and de LIGHT! What a hoot!
The calendar tells us that today is a day for love, a day to celebrate love, specifically romantic love. Instead of celebrating romantic love, I am choosing to celebrate self love because I truly believe that loving others starts with loving ourselves. The more love we give to ourselves, the more love we have to give to others and the more we love from a place of abundance.
I have been conceptualizing self love through symbols. Last weekend I was immersed in a yoga teacher training weekend. We were discussing The Yogic Life and one of my teachers, Bianca, drew this diagram for the group to illustrate this concept.
I was feeling a wee bit troubled that that top triangle was so small in relation to the whole, that in this diagram, the life affirming practices one does to cultivate a positive relationship with oneself was small in comparison. Sure, our relationship with ourselves is foundational and informs how our lives unfold, but if we wish to grow positive feelings toward ourselves, I think many would agree that we certainly improve how we feel about ourselves and have a better relationship with ourselves when we increase our life affirming practices.
What do life affirming practices look like? Yoga. Meditation. Mindfulness. Time in Nature. Sacred Ritual. Connection and Communion with others who share our values/passions/beliefs. Therapy (mental health, physical, massage). A slow, leisurely walk. Gazing at the Stars. Enjoying a cup of tea. Lighting a candle. Playing with kids. Volunteering. Gardening. Cooking. Sharing a meal with loved ones. Singing. Dancing. Retreat. . .
I was turning Bianca’s diagram around in my mind and re-conceptualizing it when this wave of geometrical inspiration/insight flowed through me.
I continued to play from this place of balance. What I discovered in shifting and re-framing the diagram was a symbol for sattvic love.
Sattva, the “highest” of the three gunas (strands of existence, primordial energy), is one of my favorite Sanskrit words and its meanings include tranquility, peace, and happiness. Energetically, sattva is luminous light. Here I have to pause and marvel at my own “genius” / intuitive wisdom. Luminous light and love…this is *exactly* what I wrote about in “Maui Magic = LOVE.” In my symbol, I saw an energetic play of sattva; I saw balance, harmony, love.
My contemplation of symbols representing love continued throughout the weekend. I began to think about love through the symbol for infinity. What I saw taking shape is something I call the rebound of love, the idea that the energy we send out travels back to us.
I believe our inner dynamic shapes the outer dynamics of our lives. Do we treat ourselves with kindness and compassion? If we have difficulty offering ourselves kindness and compassion, how can we offer this to others genuinely and from a place of authenticity? If we are impatient and irritable with ourselves, those we interact with are likely to be met with impatience and irritability. The laws of attraction illuminate that “like attracts like.” If we are angry and irritable inside and out, we are likely to attract angry and irritable people into our lives. However, if we are kind, loving, giving, and caring toward ourselves (and others), we are more likely to attract kind, loving, giving, and caring people into our lives. This is one way we experience an energetic rebound, by attracting someone into our life that mirrors our inner and outer being.
Another way we experience an energetic rebound is to use the loving energy we have cultivated within to shift an interpersonal dynamic without. I have seen this play out in several relationships in my life. Over time I have cultivated love and warmth in relationships that were previously difficult and because of this difficulty I suffered. In places where I might have acted impatiently, I slowed down inside and breathed space into the moment and moved from a place of patience and equanimity. I began to bring lightness and humor into our interactions. I began to sprinkle expressions of care and affection, even if these expressions were as simple as “hey, I like your orange shirt.” I began to infuse more love into these relationships in various forms, shades, and colors. I showed up and continue to show up differently in relationships – from a place of loving presence. I have begun to feel the changes. More love and warmth and care is flowing back to me which affirms for me that we have the power to shape our lives and our relationships by first loving ourselves.
This 14th day of February, I invite you give yourself some love, to do something for yourself that is life affirming, to continue loving yourself throughout the year, and allow the love to flow / bounce back to you.
How can we practice yoga off the mat? One way is by cultivating and practicing compassionate or non-violent communication, toward ourselves and toward others. Does practicing yoga in our communication sound like a stretch?
As I learned from my teacher, Karl, non-violent communication (NVC) has its roots in ancient yoga philosophy. Marshall Rosenberg drew inspiration from the The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali when he crafted non-violent communication. Ahiṁsā, or non-violence, is the first of the five yamas and the yamas are the first of the eight limbs of yoga (see sutra II.30).
I was recently interviewed by one of my yoga teachers and peers, Erin Goldman of Awakened Heart Yoga, about my studies in NVC and the relationship between yoga and NVC. I invite you to listen to my interview with Erin as I share how practicing NVC is an extension of my yoga practice. I speak of the idea that learning and practicing NVC is “stretching on the inside” and the importance of cultivating deeper listening to ourselves and others.
I was struck, in listening to myself speak, how much knowledge and wisdom I’ve absorbed and integrated from my teachers of yoga and non-violent communication. I can hear their voices in my voice!
“Compassionate action is a practice, one of the most advanced. There’s nothing more advanced than communication—compassionate communication.”~ Pema Chödrön, When Things Fall Apart
“Since in order to speak,
one must first listen,
learn to speak by listening.”
Today is the birthday of one of my yoga teachers and peer, Erin.
Erin has made a very simple birthday wish, or goal. Her birthday wish is to receive 50 comments in answer to her question: “how has yoga impacted your life?”
In her birthday blog post, “The Best Birthday Present Ever,” Erin invites readers to share one sentence (or even one word) to characterize how yoga has impacted their lives.
Erin’s birthday wish for people to share the positive benefits of yoga in their lives grows out of her desire to foster a “more enlightened community” through her blog. Erin blogs daily at Awakened Heart Yoga where she often speaks from her own experience of coming out of the darkness and into the light, encouraging and inspiring others to discover the light as well.
Please join me in celebrating Erin’s birthday and helping to make her birthday wish come true by sharing how yoga has impacted YOUR life.
To share, simply click here: “The Best Birthday Present Ever”
What did “My Inner Mystic” come up with for a word or words?
The first word that came to mind was “stronger.” Because of yoga I am stronger in my body, my mind, my heart/emotional center, and my spirit.
Other words that came to me upon deeper reflection are “richer,” “integrated,” and “aligned.”
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.
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.
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.
HOPE photo provided courtesy of my friend and member of my Costa Rica yoga family, Heather.