Tag Archives: happiness

A New Year

3 Jan

Oh, 2014.

Last year was about risk for me. Risking my heart, my business, my relationships.

There was a moment during the retreat in Thailand that I stopped and looked around at the glowing faces of my students as they danced around the room, embracing each other, revelling in the week they had shared, and I felt possibly the greatest happiness I had ever known. First: I had caused that! I had so much pride that it had come together, that it was worth all the work and hours and preparation.

Shiny People

Mostly, I felt such a profound gratitude that I was able to share myself with these people and have it land with them in a way that made a difference in their lives. Doing this work has become about what I can give away, and it has been the most rewarding experience of my life.

And then I decided to move to the big smoke.

“Why don’t you stay in the wilderness?  Because that isn’t where it is at; it’s back in the city, back in downtown St. Louis, back in Los Angeles.  The final test is whether your experience of the sacred in nature enables you to cope more effectively with the problems of people.  If it does not enable you to cope more effectively with the problems – and sometimes it doesn’t, it sometimes sucks you right out into the wilderness and you stay there the rest of your Life – then when that happens, by my scale of value; it’s failed.  You go to nature for an experience of the sacred…to re-establish your contact with the core of things, where it’s really at, in order to enable you to come back to the world of people and operate more effectively.  Seek ye first the kingdom of nature, that the kingdom of people might be realized.”  
-Willi Unsoeld

I’m so excited about the possibilities of bringing this work to city life. It’s one thing for me to be balanced and zen in the jungle in Bali, on a beach in Thailand or Mexico. It’s quite another to bring it into fluorescent lit office buildings, to stressed workers, glued to phones and computers, panicking about mortgages, obsessed with having the latest products or thinking that life can never be any other way.

But how can I operate in that world and not suffer from the same malaise?

Be Yourself
My transition to San Francisco has plugged me back into the matrix, the perfect way for me to better understand and empathize with the people I am teaching. Yet I am also experiencing a world where kindness doesn’t always feel like the best answer; where rampant honesty is not always welcomed; where bringing your heart fully can mean being battered and bruised.

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him.”
– Mahatma Ghandi

Is it naive to think I can “be the change I want to see in the world”?

I know when I show up with a full heart, good intentions and an earnest approach, my life feels more full, I expect the best in people and I feel more alive. Seeing the glass half full makes me happy.

But it’s also teaching me that bringing that energy is not always the best path. Sometimes, what’s needed is both a soft heart and a sharp elbow.

The Bhagavad Gita talks about ten Yamas, what we sometimes call the Yogi Commandments for ethical living. Dhŗiti, the sixth of these, has been translated as “to act with determination”, “patience” and “perseverance”. I love to describe it as “steadfastness”. You can read more about this tenet here, but at its core, practicing Dhŗiti, you “succeed in every undertaking by having a clear purpose, a wise plan, persistence and push.”

Smooth sea Skilled Sailor

“A ship that can endure and persevere on its course even when tossed about on the waves of a turbulent sea.” – Gurudeva

 

Sometimes, life here feels impossibly difficult. I’ve stood in front of an entire aisle of unknown brands of toilet paper and felt overwhelmed. Negotiations feel unkind. Showing too much of yourself, or admitting weakness might not be admired. Sometimes it feels like the work I’ve done to become more vulnerable and to wear my heart on my sleeve is a distinct disadvantage.

And yet, my students and clients seek that same openness. They are desperately looking for connection and a way to safely express a more vulnerable heart.

Maybe, what’s actually needed is more conviction to inhabit that space.

vulnerability

So with that, I declare 2015 to be a year of courage, growth and determination. 

I will bring my heart to every aspect of my life, even though I’m scared to do it. I will fail and get back up again. Reconnect with nature and myself. Be big and bold and vulnerable.
And practice, practice, practice, with ferocity. For all is coming.

Practice all is coming

Morning Poem

18 Jun

Zambo Sunrise 3

Every morning the world
is created.

Under the orange
sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches— and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it
the thorn
that is heavier than lead— if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging—

there is still
somewhere deep within you a beast shouting that the earth is exactly what it wanted—

each pond with its blazing lilies is a prayer heard and answered lavishly,
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy, whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

– Mary Oliver

When Did You Stop Dancing?

10 Jun

Do more of what makes you Happy

“In many shamanic societies, if you came to a shaman or medicine person complaining of being disheartened, dispirited, or depressed, they would ask one of four questions.

When did you stop dancing?
When did you stop singing?
When did you stop being enchanted by stories?
When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence? 

Where we have stopped dancing, singing, being enchanted by stories, or finding comfort in silence is where we have experience the loss of soul.
Dancing, singing, storytelling, and silence are the four universal healing salves.

– Gabrielle Roth

When Are You Coming Back?

4 Jun

“Here is the crux of the matter, the distilled essence, the only thing you need to remember: When considering whether to say yes or no, you must choose the response that feels like freedom. Period.”
– Martha Beck

I bumped into a friend in Bali recently who mentioned she’d hung out with a mutual friend of ours in Australia. I came up in conversation and she laughed as she relayed what he had said about me: “Poor girl. She’s kind of a little lost soul, isn’t she?” 

My friend had attended one of my retreats earlier in the year and remarked she’d never seen me so in my element, so shiny and alive. “I replied that it seemed more like you’d found yourself,” she said. 

journey understand

Right now in my life, everyone is making a point of reminding me I need to “settle down”. What does that even mean? Find a mate, buy a nest, lay eggs? Do I need to stay in one place for that to happen? Most people in my life say Yes. My single status suggests that as well. “You can’t do this forever!” they say. “You’ll never meet someone travelling like you do!”

Just as many people the following week will write and say “I wish I had your life.”

But this is not me following a plan. When I left Australia, all I wanted was to be somewhere else. To be someone else. I was tired of being unable to create a life I was inspired by, of trying to convince people I was the right person for the jobs I wanted. Nearly five years later, still living out of a bag, I’m as surprised as anyone that I haven’t unpacked somewhere. 

Alone Genius idea Lyvia Alexandra

It’s a lonely, lonely life. I’m not going to lie. I spend a lot of time alone, writing emails to people far away. I have insistent, indignant friends write me: “When are you coming back? I miss you! What are you doing?!” They offer tidbits of their lives but have never visited. Melbourne, Perth, Barcelona, London, San Francisco, Bali, Thailand…When are you coming back?

The truth is, I don’t know. I have been looking for a reason to stay still: a partner, an inspiring job, a way to express myself in a particular place, a way to make a difference.

If I take away my desire for a partner, my life is exactly as I want it to be, albeit far away from many people I love. But that too has been a blessing. I have found so many ways to say “I love you” from afar. Said things in print that I could perhaps not have said face to face. Expedient internet time has meant directness, honesty, openness – and choosing my besties carefully. 

Bizarre Travel Plans

Choosing the path that feels like freedom often looks to the people around me like choosing to run away. And I’ve done my fair share of running away. I have been in relationships that felt like I was drowning, been in jobs where I felt like my head was being pushed underwater. I had a sense of being stifled, held down, of being small. 

Somehow, out here on the road, I can breathe bigger. I can be bigger: than a place, than a city, than a job or a relationship. 

I spent a good chunk of last year in my home town, Perth, staying with my parents. I feel like it was the summer that helped me move from a whiny teenage version of myself to an adult. I’ve never loved my parents as much and now, far away from them again, I miss them terribly, in a way I haven’t since I was a child. 

For the first time in my life, being away from Perth feels like a conscious choice. When I hated that city, hated who I was in it, needed to control the distance between myself and my family, there was no way I could live there. Now I crave it’s dry air, sun, beautiful beach visits with my dad, my mum’s hugs and cooking, being close to my family. 

Now it’s yet another place I’m sad to leave, whose tendrils curl around my heart and ankles, asking me to stay. 

Be Yourself

Yet the momentum of the work I do picks up speed. More inquiries about retreats, more people writing to me, months after sessions, telling me about breakthroughs they had. “It started with you,” they say. “You changed my life. I feel truly happy for the first time.” 

I feel like the work I’m doing is truly making a difference in people’s lives, yet I often feel so alone. It’s as if the more I find my power: as a teacher, as a yogi, as a business woman, the more isolated it makes me. 

I recognise how lucky I am to have so much choice. I have portable job skills. Friends and contacts in many cities. An incredibly supporting and loving family. 

Do I look lost to you? When I’m with a group on retreat or coaching someone through an all consuming issue or teaching a class, I’ve never felt so found. 

Finding that quote from Martha Beck today brought me to tears. It was from a piece called “Do I Know How To Say No?”

I can see that for the past year, I have been trying to do what I think is the right thing, even though it doesn’t feel like freedom to me. I’ve been scared to go inextricably down the rabbit hole that I think might make me terribly, terribly alone. I’ve applied for jobs, hoping they would bring me the direction and anchor to tether me. To weigh me down. 

But the truth is, I’m already doing what feels like freedom. 

I think it’s time to acknowledge that I don’t want a conventional life, or a conventional partner or a conventional job. Even though I haven’t been doing any of those things, I have been resisting my life the way it is.

I’ve been spending time and energy worrying that I’m going about this all wrong, when, if I’m honest, if I stop and breathe and feel into it, I think I might just have it right. Shiny Inner Self

Shiny Song #26

21 May

Hello from San Francisco!

I find myself back in this super inspiring city and am looking forward to spending a lot more time here.
Last week, I was lucky enough to see the amazing Spencer Day  here and this song brought me to tears.

Come on turn the lights down low
And sit with me in second row
Tonight they’ll show the movie of your life

The heartache and the tragedy
A light romantic comedy
You oughta see the movie of your life

Did you have a happy ever after?
Underneath the technocolor sky
Did it make you sing with joy and laughter?
Did it ever make you want to cry?
And when the final frame was fading
Did it leave you satisfied?
Or was there too much that it lacked
And did you want your money back
How did you like the movie of your life?

Come on let the camera’s roll
You wrote the lines now run the show
It’s yours to own the movie of your life

Strange and cloudy mysteries
Unravel cinematically
The beauty of the movie of your life

Then the plot begins to twist
Around the poor protagonist
And everyone’s a villain in disguise

When you hurt and if you bleed
Remember that it’s make believe
Cause in the movies no one ever dies
It’s just a

Clicker then it’s over
And they never tell you why
But boy I’m really glad I came
I hoping that you feel the same
I really love the movie of your life

Did you have a happy ever after?
Underneath the technocolor sky
Did it make you sing with joy and laughter?
Did it ever make you want to cry?

And when the final frame was fading
Did it leave you satisfied?
Did you cheer and beg for more
Or angrily walk out the door
And think of all you meant to say
Another chance a second take
You did your best, you gave your all
You made the final casting call
To save a little scene for me
And tell me that I’ll always be
A moment in the movie of your life
A moment in the movie of your life

Advice to Myself

20 May

Just breathe
Leave the dishes.
Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don’t patch the cup.
Don’t patch anything. Don’t mend. Buy safety pins.
Don’t even sew on a button.

Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don’t keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll’s tiny shoes in pairs, don’t worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic-decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don’t even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don’t sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we’re all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don’t answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in though the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.

Recycle the mail, don’t read it, don’t read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.

– Louise Erdrich, from Original Fire: Selected and New Poems

Here’s To The Crazy Ones…

5 Mar

thecrazyones

– Steve Jobs

All The Hemispheres

26 Feb

Tioman Sunset

Leave the familiar for a while.
Let your senses and bodies stretch out 
Like a welcomed season
Onto the meadow and shores and hills. 
Open up to the Roof.
Make a new watermark on your excitement
And love.
Like a blooming night flower,
Bestow your vital fragrance of happiness
And giving
Upon our intimate assembly.
Change rooms in your mind for a day.
All the hemispheres in existence
Lie beside an equator
In your heart.
Greet Yourself
In your thousand other forms
As you mount the hidden tide and travel
Back home.
All the hemispheres in heaven
Are sitting around a fire 
Chatting
While stitching themselves together
Into the Great Circle inside of
You.

-Hafiz

Why You Are Here

23 Feb

Life will break you.

Apple Tree

Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning.

You have to love. You have to feel.
It is the reason you are here on this earth.

You are here to risk your heart.

You are here to be swallowed up.

And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness.

Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.

~Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum

How To Be Alone…

14 Feb

Oh, Valentine’s Day.

A joyous combination of love, commercialism and expectation.

LOVE

However you feel about it, VDay is definitely enough to give you a pang to see couples holding hands and canoodling around the city.

I’ve had single Valentines Days, celebrated raucously with girlfriends or quietly and softly with a broken heart.

Coupled Valentines Days, marred by disappointments or swept off my feet by flowers, jewellery and romance. It’s just another day, but for a girl with love on her mind, it’s a great time to reflect.

Last year, I met a wise woman who invited me to imagine the man of my dreams. She had me visualise him, the energy I experienced around him and to feel the love I had for him.

Then she had me imagine my world without him, but to maintain those emotions and energies.

“They exist within you, whether or not he’s in the picture,” she said.

It was such a lightbulb moment for me.

Alone Genius idea Lyvia Alexandra
In yoga, we talk about detachment and the ability to cultivate anything we desire within ourselves. We can learn to be content with a situation as it is and as it is not.

I noticed I was carrying around an idea that love was only available if somebody came along and gifted it to me, as though my lovability was somehow contingent on someone else.

By paying attention to the feelings I had about love, I realised it can only exist inside me. As such, nothing anyone could do to take that love away from me.

Learn to Be Alone

I have the ability to cultivate love within myself. For myself.
For anyone or anything I want, really…

Suddenly, love becomes a permanent fixture.
Suddenly, I start to appreciate the things about myself that I was waiting for someone else to notice. I start giving myself the love and attention I have been patiently waiting for.

I adore this poem, written and performed by Tanya Davis  and beautifully filmed and illustrated by Andrea Dorfman.

Take some time to yourself this Valentines and appreciate your unique and wonderful heart.

You really are worth it.