Sunday, November 12, 2017

calm in chaos

The first lesson I learned in Yoga Teacher Training was the following:
- Yoga is all about you
- Yoga is all about non-attachment

To think of embarking on something that is all about me and to let go of all the weight I carry with me daily is quite intimidating. Isn’t that selfish?

I’ve discovered that I have started to enter a selfish stage in my life where I am placing my own self as my top priority. Whether that is by allowing myself the time and space to do what feels right, and to honor that, or by saying no to things so as not to overextend myself. To be selfish doesn’t necessarily mean something egotistic or negative. The root of the word is self – and if our self is not whole, nothing else can be.

Self Love
Self Care
Self Reflection
Self Discovery
Self Worth

As we realize the value in caring for our self in every way, the attachment to things, thoughts, people are no longer lifelines for us. We slowly find our true self that is not clouded by societal norms, traditions, or upbringing.

A recent conversation has left me pondering how we introduce ourselves. In the moment where we are meant to express our truth, what we tend to identify ourselves with is surprising.

Do we identify ourselves by our profession? I am a manager of an international program.
Or what we used to be? I was a teacher.
Do we identify ourselves through someone else? I am Blake’s fiancé.
Or by what we have?  I have a dog named Toro.
Or where we live? I live in Portsmouth.
Or where we grew up? I’m from Connecticut.
Do we identify ourselves through experience? I lived abroad and traveled for a few years.

Even more perplexing, when questioned, do we answer with the negative?
What is your favorite music? I don’t like Country.
What type of food do you like? I’m not a fan of really spicy food.
What is your favorite candy? I hate licorice.
What do you want to do with your life? I don’t want a standard 9-5.

How often do we introduce ourselves by what we value? How we feel? What we love?

My name is Amelia and I am stubborn, crave novelty, enjoy the ritual of learning, feel lost sometimes, and believe love heals. 

I’ve found that one must accept and embrace that first lesson in order to be successful in the next: balance.

Yoga is also all about balance.
       Effort and ease
       Stillness and movement
       Lifting and grounding
       Strength and softness

Through opposition we find our solid base. We are able to twist our bodies into an intricate bind but still feel our lungs expand in our front and back body. We are able to fold forward but have an open chest. We are able to fuel our internal fire and speed up our heart rate while having controlled breath. We are able to be completely present in our practice but not be attached. We are able to meditate through movement of our bodies.

When our pendulum swings to either extreme we are thrown off course. In a weekend we can clean the house and complete every errand on Saturday, but then never leave the couch on a Sunday. We try to solve all the problems until we’re frustrated and exhausted and then resort to escapism and recluse. There is that delicate, and sometimes fleeting, space in between the two extremes where we need solid footing. When holding that space, we can confidently straddle both worlds. We can be the attentive friend and also give attention to ourselves. We nurture our creative dreams while still being practical in society.

The abrupt shift in the seasons this year threw me off kilter. It seems we are no longer eased through nature’s transitions so there is no grace period of adapting.  The Indian summer gave us an extended Fall that peaked with a bizarrely chaotic October, which exhausted my ability to find balance, and quickly led me into a solemn start to November. My mantra lately has been to find calm in the chaos.  The chaos of life is never-ending but we stay afloat by holding on to the serenity. You will struggle to hold a balancing posture in yoga without a drishti, a focal point. You will struggle to overcome the chaos with out finding a moment of peace.

This is why yoga is a lifestyle. It teaches us how to navigate this world after we step off our mats.  However, to end a cycle of scheduling and compartmentalizing to create a holistic outlook of our existence is not achieved overnight – or in a 200 hour yoga teacher training class. This twenty-something's journey of self-discovery just went down a new road, and is far from over.

Light Heart. Light Spirit. Light Body. Light Mind. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

Here we go.

I take after my mother in many ways; our expressive faces, fine blonde hair, love for the beach – but also in that we can’t sit still. My mother, already busy with a full time job and five children, always added more to her plate. Whether that was baking a dessert for a party or running errands, she filled any empty minutes with a task or project.

As they say, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

With a consuming yet fulfilling job, Blake’s and my immediate families within 20 minutes of us, and living downtown with social friends, there are rarely any moments of down time. But if they do show up, they are quickly forgotten by an extra exercise class or with a long walk with our beloved pup Toro.

I tend to overextend myself, saying yes to invitations not out of obligation, but rather out of desire. So in the effort of self-love, I am trying to limit the numbers of events on my calendar that are not necessary for me to be part of – and not fill that empty space with something else.

Then I signed up for a 200 hour, 8-month Yoga Teacher Training course. 

I barely have time to read through my mail, but I needed to carve out time for me. I’ve discovered, to be a better friend, sister, partner, or worker, you need to be better to yourself first. You cannot love anyone else unless you love yourself, and to live a life without fueling your passion or goals will only be a disservice when you try to do the same for others.

I hadn’t processed the commitment I had made until my walk over to the yoga studio the evening before my first class. Frantically, my brain internally alternated between rationalizing the decision and questioning it.

Is this too much of a time commitment? I’ve been busier before. Will this impact my job? It’s evenings and Sundays so it won’t.  What am I going to do once it is completed? Don’t worry about that now! Can I even be a yogi? Why not?

Those thoughts were immediately shushed as soon as we started our practice with setting our intention and transitioned into an amazing flow that energized and grounded those in the room.

A main reason why I jumped on the opportunity to join this Yoga Teacher Training was because the primary teacher is my favorite instructor, Ankati Day. An eloquent poet, speaker, and singer – she captivates you and encourages you to self-reflect unknowingly. She’s the only one I could envision being my guru on this next journey of self-discovery and self-love.

The first week entailed of a practice and class from 6-10:30pm on Wednesday and two workshops from 12:30-7pm on Sunday. Although those were long stretches of time, they passed quickly because I was doing something I had almost forgotten I really enjoyed doing: learning.

Of course I learn every day in my job and in my interactions with others, but to be the pupil again feels as though I am actively acquiring knowledge.

While my suffocating undergraduate Penn State student loans are the reason I haven’t gone to receive my Masters, I hadn’t lost the desire to study again. The act of opening up textbooks, highlighting, and taking notes is cathartic for me.

I have been the teacher for the past five years; I am ready to be a student once again.

{10 interesting things I’ve learned from Week 1 in YTT}
  1. Yoga is all about you and is all about non-attachment
  2. Gesture becomes habit, habit becomes permanence
  3. In my posture evaluation my left shoulder is higher and my right pelvis has a slight outward rotation
  4. It always comes back to the elements in Yoga: earth, water, fire, air, space.
  5. The similarities across religions: a “holy trinity” in Catholicism and in Hinduism
  6. The Upanishads and the Vedas are the oldest Yoga texts.
  7. The story of Ganesha; remover of obstacles and protector of thresholds.
  8. There are 72,000 nadis – energy channels in Chakras – but we focus on 3
  9. Chakras 1-4 represent your relationship with others; Chakras 5-7 represent your relationship with yourself.
  10. Someone with excessiveness in Chakra 1 would physically manifest that as being a stomper or have thick legs; a deficiency would manifest with walking on toes or having thin legs.

Light Heart. Light Spirt. Light Body. Light Mind. 

Friday, September 22, 2017


Time is a funny thing.  Days feel like minutes or pass in an instant. Dark moments an eternity and laughter longer than expected.

You can get caught up in a moment, unaware of the seconds passing.

That is where I’ve been the past two years - caught up in the moment.

Immersed in a new job where I feel valued and fulfilled, my life follows a school calendar once again. A new job equates to new colleagues and friends, so workdays poured into happy hours and weekend outings. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t alert the instinct to be planning my next move. There was no agenda besides socializing with a new friend group and exploring the Seacoast. It is ever so clear that the intensity of that friendship was necessary in order to keep me in New Hampshire long enough.

Long enough to meet the guy that would keep me by his side forever.

I’ve always known that I would never settle for ordinary. Whether that was in an opportunity, a job, a friendship, or a partner.  I’m meant to do great things and I know I’m meant to share them with someone extraordinary. I know that perfection does not exist but I believe that healthy relationships do.

There is a type of love that reaches beyond your heart, the place where love is cultivated, but to your soul, the place where love is awakened.

I’ve been caught up in love. Falling madly and deeply in love for someone who makes me be the best version of myself.  Someone who challenges me, supports me, and thinks the world of me.  Someone who is gentle and genuine, yet confident and ambitious. He possesses the qualities I had only dreamed of in a partner. There is no doubt, no jealousy, and no fear.

 From the moment I met Blake I didn’t think about our relationship. I did not put it under a microscope and analyze it, or tried to convince myself that it wasn’t flawed. It simply and organically came to life. It was effortless.

Of course, there will be challenges in life. I’m sure I will face tragedy, setbacks, and uncertainty. However, I don’t believe love is meant to be a challenge if it is meant to be. Of course it will require time, effort, and heart – as any relationships does, but it should not require struggle, rationalizing, or defending. 

I’ve devoted my time to a job that I love, my life partner, and friends and family around me.  Although I’ve been present, I’ve also seen that time has passed by far too quickly. My ambition startles me when time pauses for just a moment and I can see my life before me, reminding me of what I want to accomplish. I’m caught up in all wonderful things, but have let my own goals no longer be my guiding light. What I wish to achieve is no longer what directs me and my passions are no longer what defines me.  Am I still a traveler and writer, or now a manager and fiancé? Have I been so immersed in what is that I have forgotten on what could be?

If anything over the past five years, I’ve learned to seek balance.

I love my job, my fiancé, and my family – but what about me? I am happy and fulfilled, but self-love is a ritual, a constant process. This twenty-something’s journey of self-discovery is long from over. I have not found the answer to who I am or feel that I have gained enough wisdom to live out the rest of my days. I will forever need to continue pushing the boundaries of my comfort zone, going deeper into self-reflection, and learning ways to better myself and this world – but not in hopes of finding a solution.

There is nothing to figure out, but something always to discover.

So I signed up for a yoga teacher-training course to discover new depths of my practice and new forms of self-care. I’m welcoming this opportunity with an open mind and no expectations – only with the hope of nurturing a balanced, present, and loving life. 

This journey will be shared to show my evolution, no matter how small or grand it may be, my imperfections, which are many, and my patience with myself. 

Light Heart. Light Spirt. Light Body. Light Mind.