Mantras to calm the storm.

What would a picture of dissatisfaction, frustration, or depression look like to you? My picture is stormy, hazy, and loud. Like a cartoon drawing of a tornado that blocks out clear thoughts and disrupts any sense of calm. The noise that I hear in my head is not so much a sound, as it is a vibration that inhibits my ability to find clarity.

Often I find the need to repeat to myself, and actually write down, or type mantras to help calm the storm. Instead of judging, rejecting, and blocking the feelings and emotional response, and potentially destructive though patterns, I’ve found it helpful to allow it and to explore it.

Approach yourself, your inward journey, with curiosity and kindness.

Explore the pain.

Explore the dissatisfaction.

Explore the frustration.

Be calm.

Allow the feelings. Without judgment.

Allow the emotional response. Without judgment.

You are real.

You are beautiful.

You are exceptional.

You are human, a creature of the universe.

Seek joy and beauty.

Love is omnipresent. You just need to look through an open heart.

Share your passion.

If you know me, or have met me, you likely know that I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I’ve recently been told that my 4 year old son does the same, for which I am proud. Being in tune to your emotions and feelings should be celebrated regardless of age, gender, status, etc.

This week has been met with a roller coaster of emotions, from feeling complete defeat and dissatisfaction with myself and my work as a writer, to feeling a sense of great pride and accomplishment. The spiral of emotions can work in both directions, and should be celebrated and learned from. From this I recall several teachings that are central to living on and off my yoga mat.

Be in the now. Acknowledge the feeling self. The emotional self. The thinking mind. The physical body. Without judgement.

Allow the energy to pass through you. To inspire you to be better. Notice, and come to a better understanding of self. Be your best self.

That which brings you to tears is something to notice, and learn from (not to judge). It is the moments that are filled with such intense passions, that literally bring about a physical and emotional response, that need to be understood.

Turn inward. Notice. Learn.

Now, share your passion with the world.

Weightless-a choice.

Today the sky is clear.
The weight of the world is not on my shoulders.

Instead, I am prioritizing myself.
My practice of writing.
My practice of meditation.
My practice of happiness.

Yes – happiness is a practice, and perhaps more importantly, a choice.
So is meditation.
So is writing.

I am listening to the inner voice that nudges me to do my work because I trust it.

In these moments of clarity it is good to acknowledge the strength and growth that we work hard to harness.

Trust in self.
Clarity of intention.

Happiness in all circumstances – good, bad, and ugly.

Weight of the world.

Got the weight of the world on your shoulders?
You put it there.

Don’t.
Just let it go.

Allow the energy to pass through you.
Practice balance: the mindful distribution of energy.

Inhale.Exhale.Repeat.

Stop clinging onto blocked energy.
Be with it, then let it go, for the sake of all of us.

You are a child of the universe.
On the entire spinning planet, you are one, an important one, but not the only one.
You are not alone.

Inside out.

What to do when your world is turned upside down? Turn inward. Seek to find peace in the awareness that feelings of joy, anger, fear, disgust, and sadness are exactly that – emotions. They do not define you. The fact that you are able to witness your emotions means that you are separate from them, hence not defined by them.

Keep it lighthearted.

Have fun writing, Mom. I had fun watching you write, Mom. – Everett, 4 y.o.

Sometimes, we need to be reminded of the joy in life. To keep it lighthearted. And to listen, truly listen to children. They are wise.

A writing practice I am focusing on is putting my priority project literally first. Each time I sit down to write, I give myself time to work on my priority project.

Yesterday I sat down with three projects and had only an hour. So I set a timer, wrote on my priority project for 30 minutes, then switched to my second priority project to finish out my writing time. I felt good and accomplished. I later rewarded myself – I was present with my family, I cooked nourishing meals, I reflected on life in my blog, and smiled. (Today I practiced this 30-minute routine again and felt so good about my progress!)

Laughter is good medicine for the soul, and comes from a lighthearted place in our awareness.

Smile, dance, and celebrate being alive.

 

Wake up, write.

Woke up thinking about writing.

Got up to write.

Checked email, wordpress, and instagram.

Why?

Doesn’t matter.

I noticed this distraction.

I noticed the sense of being dissatisfied with my practice.

I decided to believe in myself.

Sat down at my desk, opened my computer to write, started writing.

This is the practice.

Me, myself, and yoga.

How does yoga influence my life off my mat? As a mother? As a writer?

 

I recently had the joy of interviewing with Meg Sirchio of Perennial Yoga and Wisdom Community in Fitchburg, WI. She asked me to reflect on this very question. In the moment, I think I told her a story about how we taught our four year old to use “lions breath” (breathe out loudly from the mouth as if fogging up an entire mirror—try it!) as a way to express frustration and calm his energy. He has gotten quite good at it, and is rather loud at times. I think I’ll teach him to practice “Om” next—a way to reintroduce the focus on calming energy, perhaps.

What I realized in thinking more about the question of how yoga influences my life off my mat, I came to understand:

If yoga and meditation is a quest for wisdom;
If yoga and meditation is a practice of compassion, of balance, of inward listening;
Then I am a yogi.
I practice compassion, balance, and inward listening.
I am on a quest for wisdom.

Wisdom comes in many forms and comes to us in many ways.

After several years of practice (starting in graduate school), and nearly 2 years of dedicated practice at Perennial Yoga and Wisdom Community, I have learned to live yoga on and off my mat.

Living yoga off my mat means practicing compassion toward everyone (including myself), finding calm and balance amidst a storm through concentrated breath and asana (e.g., sun salutation) practice, and celebrating my beautiful spirit.

Exude compassion.
I practice compassion toward myself by allowing. I am empathetic toward myself when I become distracted, when I make mistakes, and when I am otherwise dissatisfied with myself. By learning to be more empathetic toward myself, I am more capable of being compassionate toward others.

Children ask for tenderness in their serene gaze, in their temper tantrums, their tears, the tremble of their lips, their smile, and their angelic state in their sleep. I seek to parent from a place of love and sensitivity.

And when I don’t practice compassion, I notice it. I recall a focus on compassion. Then, the next experience is yet another opportunity to practice kindness. This is the practice of yoga.

 

Live from my center, heart forward.
I live from the true, wholehearted center of my being. And to find the center is to practice balance. As a wise yoga instructor explained,

Balance is the mindful distribution of energy.

Embrace an expression that draws the heart forward. I listen, and seek to find balance from this heart center. This is the practice of yoga.

 

Be the best.
I am perfect.
Not in the ~wordly~ sense as you might think.
Instead, I am perfect from an inward stance.
There is no judgment in the realm of awareness.
Yet when I do fall into a trap of judgment and dissatisfaction, I practice.
I notice, I breathe, I allow, I act from my true intentions.
For that which is false will dissolve.

In short, my practice teaches me how to be the best possible version of myself.

Living yoga off my mat doesn’t necessarily mean I’m doing poses wherever I go—although I do more often than not sit in lotus or pigeon pose, and sleep lying down in tree pose—it means I seek wisdom and live from my heart to find it.

 

Just do you.

You will have moments of clarity, and moments of doubt.
The important thing to remember is that you are uniquely you.
No one else can express how you do.
No one else sees the world as you do.

Be confident in the truth that you are important.
Your ideas have merit and are worth sharing.
Your self worth is not defined by worldly accomplishments, nor experiences you have had.

When you come from a strong place, you are able to share the fullest version of yourself.
The fullest version of yourself is true and wise.
It is through your practice of writing, meditation, parenting, running that you find your center of strength and clarity.
It is through your center of strength and clarity, that you practice writing, yoga, meditation, mothering, running.

Let go of attachment to results.
Trust in the practice.
Practice with an open heart, and you fill find you.

Just do you.

I have moments of clarity and moments of doubt.
The important thing to remember is that I am uniquely me.
No one else can express how I do.
No one else sees the world as I do.

I am confident in the truth that I am important.
My ideas have merit and are worth sharing.
My self worth is not defined by worldly accomplishments, nor experiences I have had.

When I come from a strong place, I am able to share the fullest version of myself.
The fullest version of myself is true and wise.
It is through my practice of writing, yoga, meditation, parenting, running, that I find strength and clarity.
It is through my center of strength and clarity that I practice writing, yoga, meditation, parenting, running.

I let go of my attachment to results.
I trust in my practice.
I practice with an open heart, and find myself.

Just do me.

The world is my playground.

A common thread to my recent practices as a writer, researcher, and yogi, is around the theme of finding my purpose, passions, and igniting activity the is true to my way or ~dharma~.

By opening my mind and my sensibilities to learning from every experience, I’ve re-learned that having my own ideas, finding clarity in those ideas, and sharing them with others is something to celebrate.

I’m learning to let go of feelings and experiences of shutting in and shutting down. This frees up space for pursuing new connections that build toward my own ideas.

The practice of deep breathing and offering through the physical aspects or asanas of yoga are transformative. These physical offerings afford deep insight into the cognitive and spiritual facets of our beings. You just need to be open to listening. Trust in your self. Believe in yourself.

The world is your playground. Don’t be stymied by others putting you down. Accept those experiences for what they are – experiences. Those experiences and associated feelings do not define who you are as a person. There is always a silver lining, a learning opportunity. To grow, to change, to be a better person.

Living with the acceptance of change is a powerful mantra.

It’s quite liberating to acknowledge an openness to new ideas and opportunities. Now having space for those ideas, I also need time to support and nourish those ideas into fruition. My ideas lately are centered around representational fluency in problem solving with technology. Time to turn that progress in press to published ideas…

A characterization of a students’ sophistication in representational fluency tells an important story regarding their ability to solve problems using multiple representations, and their ability to create, interpret and connect these representations in communicating their strategies. The processes of creating, interpreting, and connecting representations are universal across the activity of doing mathematics (and are not specific to algebra, for example). This leads to many questions…

How do students use multiple representations in solving problems? My hypothesis is that a student who has a higher level of representational fluency is able to demonstrate a great deal of persistence and perseverance in their problem solving. They are able to take a problem situation and view it from multiple perspectives, creating and interpreting multiple representations in order to come to some success in solving the problem. An untested hypothesis is that a student who has a higher level of representational fluency in solving problems with technology has a richer conception of the mathematical idea being represented.

There is much theory around the notion that multiple representations help support students’ meaning making in mathematics, but less support for the notion that students actually understand what the representations mean with respect to the mathematical idea or concept being represented.

Do students see these representations as signifiers for a sign? How can instruction be designed to foster and cultivate representationally fluent students whilst at the same time supporting rich conceptions of mathematical ideas in technology-rich settings?

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