• In Memory of Tobey Martin

    The following is a eulogy for my dear friend.

    The last time Tobey and I spoke was October 30th, 2019. I had (now, painfully ironic) sent him a Facebook message asking if he was still alive. Joking, but also slightly concerned. It had been months since we last connected and I know he avoided using a phone or social media.

    He had told me that he just finished a yoga teacher training in India, had left New Life, and the world was his. Happy Days, he wrote.

    I found out this morning that he was in Southern Thailand. I had wondered where he was in the world. I had thought many times about reaching out to him. I was curious how the pandemic was affecting him. To see if he was okay and if he had gone back to Australia.

    But I didn’t. We had dated for a little while and ended up agreeing that it was better to go our separate ways. I returned to the U.S. to start a new life and he was a happy, free spirit in Southeast Asia.

    Before we parted ways in Thailand, I bought two smokey quartz crystals. I gifted one to him and kept one for myself. I still have mine and keep it on my windowsill. It’s been there since I left Thailand.

    Tobey was popular. He had a collection of beautiful relationships with all different types of people. I was lucky to share a connection with him. Sometimes I felt that our connection was insignificant because he was loved by so many.

    He made a big impact on my life and who I am today. He always made me feel safe enough to share my feelings and be vulnerable. In fact, I remember sharing bits and pieces of my story and saying, wow I never told anyone that.

    I was lucky enough to know his heart. I loved hearing about the stories of his tattoos. His son. That time he spent way too much money in Hong Kong. His car accident. His childhood. How his family home was always filled with people, energy, and voices. The uncomfortable moments of his healing and recovery. How his lucky number was 3. How he fake married a girl he just met on the beach.

    Tobey was a beautiful person. And I am not sure if he knew how amazing he was. Or how much people loved and looked up to him. Leaders always have to be strong and I think he felt that burden sometimes.

    My favorite part about him was his teeth actually. They were so wild and out of control in his mouth. So imperfect and jagged. I loved the recklessness of them and how they popped out when he smiled.

    Tobey was wild and free and I am happy that he was able to live the life he did; filled with travel, adventure, connection, and community.

    I wish that I had listened to my impulse to send him a photo of the smoky quartz, ask him if he still had the other one, and wish him well with words instead of keeping it all inside. It shocks me that I will never have the chance to talk to him again. That all we have left of him now are our memories.

    I send my gratitude to his spirit for holding my heart so softly, for bringing joy and adventure into my life, for showing me around Chiang Rai on the back of his bike, for holding my hand in the market, for making me a better communicator, for his smile, for his honesty, for his strength. Thank you. I love you. And I am sorry for all the difficult moments you endured in this life. We will forever miss you.

    May Tobey Martin rest in peace.

  • Hot Stone

    It is just past midnight. I noticed light streaming in through my bedroom and went outside to gaze at the moon resting in the low sky.

    The full moon just passed, but it still glowed. I started seeing sparkles and illuminated dust in its aura. Was it truly energy flowing out or were my eyes getting dizzy? I stood sinking to the earth.

    My sensations and feelings don’t make sense to me. I ask myself directly: what do you feel right now? I don’t know. What if I knew?

    It doesn’t feel good – scared, insecure, cold, alone, lost, guilty. A heavy, concave feeling in my heart, my throat, my jaw. Uncertainty. Pressure. Anger, shock, the urge to explain myself. But there is nothing to be said or that I am allowed to say. Restricted because I can’t go back to change me or control them.

    The hot stone has been thrown to me and I am forced to hold it and let it burn my palms. Drop it. Let it go. It’s not mine and I don’t have to hold it anymore. I never had to hold it. Release it.

  • Dreamweaver

    I have ideas

    About the chapters in my book

    And sometimes I make plans

    But the best storyteller I know

    The skilled dream weaver

    Artist of life

    Veil of secrets

    Is the universe

    The ultimate creator

    And destroyer

    That force you feel mixing in the air

    Wondering which way

    The magic will blow

  • How To Find A Meditation That Works For You

    When we think of meditation, we visualize a monk sitting, legs folded, eyes closed, silent, sitting still. We think that he is in complete peace, his thoughts have ceased, and he’s not bothered by the flies and mosquitoes. His legs aren’t asleep and his back isn’t aching. From the outside, we think meditation is bliss. But when we try meditation on our own, we feel nothing like this.

    Meditation is not all peace and enlightenment. It is learning to get comfortable being uncomfortable, being in pain, and training the mind through consciousness. It’s a practice. Some days you will succeed and some days you will have a difficult time. But as long as you are trying, you will receive the benefits.

    There are an infinite number of ways to meditate. So, don’t feel discouraged thinking that you are just limited to sitting in silence. You can . . .

    • Lay down on your back (But not recommended in the morning because you have been laying down all night while you were sleeping)
    • Concentrate on breathing in and out slowly
    • Count in your head
    • Concentrate on a color
    • Walk slowly and mindfully around the room/anywhere
    • Listen to music – any music! From Nirvana to Beethoven
    • Listen to nature – the ocean, a stream, the wind, birds
    • Dance (Look up Osho meditations)
    • Sew, Stitch, Macrame (Or any other repetitive motion)
    • Cook or bake
    • Draw a mandala
    • Color – there are adult coloring books
    • Sing a mantra (I recommend the Gayatri Mantra)
    • Create your own mantra and repeat in your head or out loud or even write it out – For example, “I am grateful” or “I am deserving of love”
    • Listen to a guided meditation on Youtube
    • Try Yoga Nidra
    • Try Qi Gong

    If you choose to sit or lay down in silence, feel free to use pillows or sit against a wall to make yourself comfortable. Meditation has no rules and you have to find what works for you. And, when you feel pain or discomfort, be mindful of it and see how long you can last without moving or giving up.

    Going to a meditation group can also be helpful because it forces you to stay with the practice. The group energy keeps everyone together and gives you the strength to keep going and maintain. Also, you can make new friends!

    The easiest time to meditate is after the body has been moving and exerting itself. This is why we go into Savasana at the end of a yoga class. Working the body allows more space for the mind to calm down. So, no matter your physical practice, try to take 5 minutes to sit still at the end. If you’re having trouble finding stillness, do 20 jumping jacks and try again.

    Meditation allows us the space to stop and just exist. To be one with ourselves and the universe. When we give ourselves this time and space, we can remove blockages, we can hear our intuition, we can feel the feelings we were repressing, and we can release tension and de-stress. It is easy for our mind to be a tangled web. Meditation teaches us that things don’t have to be so messy and cloudy. Actually, life is simple. We are blessed to be alive and to experience life. Not all experiences will be pleasurable and meditation can teach us how to accept the unpleasant and even appreciate it.

  • What is Yoga?

    Common Yoga Aversions

    When I encourage people to try yoga or explain that I am a yoga teacher, the most common response is: “I can’t do yoga because I am not flexible.” This is like me saying, “I can’t play basketball because I am not 6 feet tall,” or “I can’t run because I have poor stamina.” It does not mean that we cannot participate in these activities, but, perhaps, we don’t have the natural talents or luxurious tools. Some people were born tall and others naturally flexible. One of the beauties of yoga is that the only equipment required is your body. This includes disabled bodies, overweight bodies, bodies of all skin colors, sick bodies, healthy bodies, all bodies.

    So when I hear this response, I view it as an excuse. A misconception. Yoga is not only for flexible people. Developing a flexible body is a result of practicing. So is strength and balance.

    Unite the Mind-Body-Spirit

    Yoga translates as union. It is a union between your body and mind. Between your spirit and the universal energy. Ancient Indian texts describe it as the coming into being and the ceasing to be.

    We move our body to the flow of our breath. We are not meant to think about the laundry or work or our date tonight. We are thinking about our lungs inhaling and exhaling air. We are observing the present moment through sensations and physical assessments.

    The path to the mind-body connection is through managing our thoughts and impulses. For example, concentration is required when we are upside down, balancing in a headstand. Discipline is required while we are holding our body in Warrior II. We teach our hips to relax in pigeon pose by mentally directing our muscles to soften while intentionally slowing the pace of the breath.

    Intimacy With Your Body’s Boundaries

    Each time we practice, the state of our mind and body may be different. Where is the threshold today and is it right to push it? Perhaps only a millimeter forward is appropriate. Perhaps we don’t push it at all. Only you know what is best for your body.

    Yoga is listening to the body and the mind, instead of reacting. It is surrendering. Letting go. Relaxing. Fighting. Breathing. Releasing. Existing. Healing. You can learn a lot about yourself by getting on the mat for one hour a day. The practice of focusing on the movement of the body, breathing, and being present leads to positive mental and physical health outcomes.

    Practice, Not Perfection

    Your mind may wander. You may experience frustration. You may feel uncomfortable. Thus, we refer to its application as a yoga practice, not yoga perfection. Maintain consistency as the drops of bliss that you may feel at times will turn into liters. What you cultivate and build on the mat spreads to the rest of your everyday life.

  • Our Relationship With Death

    I found out this morning that some one I have known since I was a little girl has passed away. I remember going to her house. I remember her at parties that my parents took me along to. I remember her at the office everyday when I was working for my dad. I remember when I found out that she was diagnosed with lung cancer. And I will remember, today, when I found out that she passed on.

    Death reaches out and touches me more and more the older I get. My cousin passed away a month ago. My last relationship ended because he couldn’t deal with a death. Last year, a woman that I worked with, who I used to see everyday, had a heart attack in her sleep. My friend from high school overdosed. Relationships die. Friendships die. Periods of our life die.

    I know that I am sensitive, but I cry in the face of death. The tears come from love. They come from knowing that I will never get to be with this person or have this same experience twice. I cried when my yoga teacher training was over. The community that we had built broke itself away and our time all together was finished. Our teacher told us not to cry. Everything changes. People come and go like stars and butterflies and seasons and weather.Read More

  • How Your Mind Is Like A House

    Your mind is a place full of thoughts. Your consciousness controls the weight of each thought and has the power to change them. But can it control which thoughts are produced? There are many factors: your subconscious, patterns and behaviors you learned in childhood, your traumas, your experiences, the outside world, drugs, and alcohol. Life comes at you in good and bad ways and your mind processes it and stores it.

    If you were wronged, it is not your fault. But it is your responsibility to deal with it.

    If your mind is like a house then all your negative experiences are like clutter. It is easy to have the clutter and shove it in a corner. It is easy to ignore the clutter by leaving your house. When you are working, involved in an activity or hanging out with friends, you leave your house. You leave the inside of your mind and focus on your outside experience. When you drink, smoke, or do drugs, you escape your mind as well.

    The less time you spend inside your mind, the more the clutter builds. The more the clutter builds, the more you feel like you need to escape it. Mess is uncomfortable. It is not pleasant to be inside a dirty house with trash, dirt, and things thrown around. You don’t want to be there. When you see the mess, it is overwhelming. Where do I start? Just like when your real house or your room is messy, you rather ignore it than spend the time organizing and doing laundry.

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