Peace, Love, and Understanding
Like all of you, I have been experiencing the pandemic, following the protests, watching how the news is unfolding in the media and affecting our personal lives with concern, respect and care. I have reached out subtly on social media, but not powerfully, biding my time to feel out the best way to enter the conversation. What is the best way to share personally and professionally with peace, love and understanding for others circumstances and feelings? When and where do we take a stand or choose to guide by example?
The world is changing. History proves that change is good and true, important, but often uncomfortable and sometimes painful. Awareness of our own shortcomings, facing our fears, acknowledging our vulnerabilities is hard work. As we travel this path, change may not be comfortable for us. Change rarely is. Even if we see change as positive or necessary; support the cause or are willing to make the necessary sacrifices, raise our voices and stand tall for our beliefs, change can be a difficult journey. We may need help to navigate. Help to understand. Help to find our way. We may need a little more than peace, love, understanding and grace to navigate it all in ways that are positive and productive. We may need guidance and definitely an open heart.
Enter journaling and yoga: a little more inspiration, a little more grace, a little more understanding – a place to breath, write, create and grow can help. What I am going to share isn’t just an avenue to find more connection between your creative side and your mind-fullness, between your body and your soul, and between the world and the spirit you need right now to be kind, but a way to grow. A way to understand. A way to live a more open-hearted, purposeful life. In yoga, it is called open to grace. In the arts it is called creativity.
Processing the struggles
We are all looking for ways to process the struggles in our lives. Ways that feel purposeful and worthwhile – some process that helps us to deal with feelings of confusion and frustration, loss and possibly anger. I know these feelings too, and I have been working diligently for the last six months to develop ways to access and nurture growth through our Mind, Body, and Spirit. It is still a work in progress, but I am passionate about the process anyway. Opening ourselves to a more purposeful way to process what is happening in the world, and to practice a more mindful, inspired way to live is important. So I carry on. I have always done this searching and sorting through visual art. But now I am understanding that another practice in my life is also part of the journey. Yoga.
Every human has four endowments – self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom… The power to choose, to respond, to change. Stephen Covey
Life happens. Sometimes suddenly in ways that feel more forced than welcomed. Sometimes sneakily, creeping up on us like a cat after it’s prey, only to pounce on us out of nowhere. We realize we weren’t ready for it and feel fear, discomfort and regret. Right now, in spite of our best intentions, the control of our lives may seem to be in others hands, completely out of our control, and much more complicated than we had intentioned. But there are ways to “journey” that can help rather than hinder these difficult times.
My own life-long “creative journey” happened in a similar way, over time, surging in starts and spurts. Uncomfortable sometimes, life getting in the way, crushing my dreams, unplanned, challenging, difficult, unwieldy, exasperating and unplanned.
Creating, teaching, grasping opportunities as they arose, I always knew that the arts were where my heart was. Whether creating artwork myself or nurturing others creative endeavors, it just seemed to always make sense for me. There was an understanding that if I stayed the course, Life would eventually take care of itself.
My “yoga journey” happened for me in a different way. It’s true value creeping up so slowly over nearly twenty five years, ebbing and flowing so quietly that I didn’t even notice the progression. So slow and steady and pure its pace, that I wasn’t even aware of the importance it had taken on in my life. Yoga began as “exercise.” Seriously. I had no idea it’s power and strength at first. I just went from treadmill or step class to yoga early on. It was part of my healthy regimen at TWC. I loved it. But back then, I didn’t realize it’s gifts. A practice takes many years to develop, and there is always more.
There’s always more
Over time, I realized that not only was there more, but I knew I wanted to find a way to connect the creative parts of my life with the creative, healing, inspiring aspects of my yoga practices. I began to become interested in the philosophy, the Sanskrit names, the types of yoga; there WAS so much more to know and ponder and discover. I read about mudras, asanas, sutras, meditation, Ayurveda and more. Not really studying it at first, just casually gathering information and passion for the connections I was making. More or less admiring yoga’s story, its history, and how it was inspiring me in new directions. I attended a couple of retreats. Took notes. Grew in new ways. Asked more questions in class. But still didn’t realize the impact.
Thinking back, I began to realize more about my own yoga journey and how it was manifesting healing in my life long before I made the connection to journaling. The MIND + BODY + SOUL pieces became inseparable over time for me. My art AND my yoga practice had supported me in hard times more than once, guiding my decisions and answering my needs without me even realizing it. Learning to apply what I learned on the mat in my day to day life was something I had been doing for years. I just hadn’t connected the two aspects of my life as one journey.
I didn’t appreciate the complete picture of yoga’s profound effect on my creative life until January of 2020. But truthfully it was there all the time. Nurturing me. Supporting me. Physically, emotionally, spiritually bonding me to it, to a lifestyle. Yoga connected me to a great friendship with myself on and off the mat, to something intangible yet stable and warm and substantial. But still, the most important “moment” for me yet in my “yoga journey” snuck up on me. Journaling about my practice.
As humans we don’t always realized we are absorbing –learning something new that needs to be honored and shared. I knew from teaching visual art off and on for almost twenty years, that this could be the case. Sometimes important information is absorbed slowly, unaware, guiding us without our conscious acknowledgment. And then when we need it most, the “thing” we learned and needed is there. There for the taking, using, depending on its knowledge to sustain us. It jumps right up and says – SEE!
Yoga Journey 2020
Yoga journaling became a way for me to process and apply all the positive ways yoga was manifesting in my life. Learning about the asanas, Sanskrit, philosophically challenging myself about the pillars, chakras, mudras, meditation. I was enthralled. So much to learn! Who knew? A lot of people knew! But I hadn’t put the practice and the study together before in my own life. I was mesmerized and distracted by its powerful nature. I decided that others might be interested too. And guess what? They were. And the RAD Fresh Yoga Journey was born.
I began sharing about yoga journaling in posts on my blog. I shared in a yoga journaling group in my local studio, Montana Om: how to create a journal, what to write, how to study, and how to take what was taught by our teacher and practiced by us, engaging more with it in a journal format. And then I created a Facebook Group to connect others to this idea. It drew a small following. Friends joined. Strangers joined. Yoga teachers joined. It was real and growing. I was so proud, excited, and terrified! I still have so much to learn. The part I can share is the process, the journey, the suggestions, the lessons. I can take what I am learning within my own practice, from my teachers, and my studies, and I can offer it to others. Share it. Cultivate it. Practice it.
This yoga journaling process came to me slowly over almost twenty five years, yet blindsided me like a cat catching a bird just this year. But I WAS ready, and that cat has become my confidant. She sits in the ray of light and inspires me to practice, to write, to share and create. I am encouraged to take flight instead of being trapped. The connections I am making, the opportunities i am realizing to share and learn, and the peace I find in the process is magical. I am holding on to this journey as a way to navigate the struggles in my life and in the world, bringing truth, understanding and peace through its process.
I hope that some of you will join me. It’s pure perfection in the way yoga and art are pure perfection. What we need but different every time we step on the mat, write our thoughts, or create something new. We never find nirvana. We don’t have to. It was there all the time in the practice and in our hearts (and the journaling about the experience). Here’s to learning, creating and growing on and off the mat. Peace to you, peace to me, peace to the world.