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Do What You Got To, But Choose Love

Like many small business owners, I wear my heart on my sleeve these days. My thoughts are dominated by a yearning to move forward. I’m doing my best to be pragmatic when looking at things through the local lens.  But I have worked hard the past 10 years to get where I am and watching it dissolve is disheartening. Why can I drive by Menards on this sunny day and see a parking lot full of cars but my business has to remain closed? What is Right Action? How do I let these hard lessons come through and trust the process when there is so much anger on all sides?

Below are thoughts I wrote May 1, 2009, while creating a mission statement for my business. I don’t think it is an accident that I stumbled on them last night. Reading my own words was the necessary agony of teaching the teacher.

“Give students the ability to further their spiritual growth through the practice of yoga. Create a sense of community and friendship where you have a group of open-minded individuals who are all on their own spiritual path and support each other.  Offer a space where people feel safe and comfortable when going through difficult times. Challenge them to connect with themselves in a more intimate and brave way even when it is uncomfortable.  Empower them to take care of their own health and control their own mind. Get them to recognize and live by their personal values. Remind them that regardless of our differences, we all experience similar obstacles and the same joy when we overcome them.”

The spiritual ride continues, but our training wheels came off. Bear Foot Yoga is just brick and mortar. The studio inside of you is still open to explore your spiritual path.  Keep showing up and moving forward even if you feel stuck. The subtle energy body is the more enduring body; it does not wax and wane with the hard lessons of the collective conscious – the Lila or play of life.  And protect yourself and support yourself in whatever way feels like Right Action for you. Take this situation seriously. Have a sense of humor. Learn something new. Do exactly what you normally do. Stay active. Sleep More. Be in the unknown and uncomfortable. Recognize and focus on what is expected and familiar. Live small and be private. Know yourself better through your connections and relationships.  Be in a funk.  Be jubilant.  Ask for your highest good.  Hold space for others. Watch the birds and the buds move and change. Trust that the planet is the same.

Please continue on your own journey; it is not inside a yoga studio or any other building. Your path is spiritual. So is everyone else’s. Part of trust is accepting your karma and not judging others for theirs.  Don’t let anger drive you to act in ways that are not an expression of who you are.  If you catch yourself doing that, come back. Spirit is always connecting us. The core center of self is divine love. There cannot be fear or loneliness in love. Let the bad guys battle it out. Please Choose Love.

Peace, Megan

Social Distancing or Spiritual Retreat

See this sunrise? It’s not an NCAA basketball game where I could have won my bracket. It’s not the voice of Sinead O’Connor at the canceled concert I was looking forward to seeing Sunday (and Happy St. Patrick’s day today!) It does not come with the knowledge I stood to gain training with Dr. Vasant Lad at the Ayurvedic Institute in 2 weeks. It also doesn’t give me back the proud mom moment of watching my daughters unfinished musical or the happy human contact of the postponed trip to visit my companion in another state that FaceTime can’t replace. But this sunrise brought joy to my reality after a sleepless night. Today, that is what the world gave me and it is enough.

A difficult but confident decision was made Sunday night to close the studio until April 1. I attended my last class for awhile yesterday knowing that it didn’t feel right. My desire to support neighboring studios at this time cannot take precedence over protecting loved ones and those who may be asked to care for them. If attending a class as a student comes with guilt, why would I offer them? No amount of essential oils or pranayama will keep my parents, my kid’s teachers, our health care workers or anyone else safe right now.

What I struggled with in making this decision is not the idea of closing or staying at home, but how it is being presented. The terms “social distancing” and “quarantine” make me cringe and contract. Sorry, I accept the purpose, but the languaging is brutally depressing right now, even for an introvert. Its only a stones throw from solitary confinement to me. So in finding purpose in my petulance this weekend, I am training my brain to substitute “ spiritual awareness” for “social distancing” and “retreat” for “quarantine”.

Disassociation from the outside world does not need to be seen as a punishment. It’s an opportunity. When I first got divorced, the 4 day weekends without my kids were devastating.  Their bedroom doors were kept closed as if I couldn’t see the empty space, it didn’t exist. I went from being “mommy multi-tasker”, to experiencing painful absences from my kids and acquaintances and having time on my hands to brood. In an unconscious argument with what was real, I made plans doing anything that would avoid silent time alone;  keeping so busy that there was barely a moment for denial. In time, those moments left deep cracks in me. The saying goes that the cracks are where the light comes in. Exhaustion. Grief. Financial fears. Loneliness. Anger. You can only hide yourself from those feelings for so long. Then, against my best judgment and pocketbook, I went on a silent retreat. Intentional silence was nails on my chalk board. I realized I was drowning myself in busy when I didn’t even know I was in the water. Compassionate spiritual silence (mauna as it’s called) was a life vest. Since that retreat, when I’m submerged, I can’t hide from myself. Coming up for air looks a lot like “social distancing”.

As a result of the painful yet insightful retreat, I  began to occasionally schedule purposeful silent extended weekends that I called “home hibernation”.  There was lots of outdoor time to practice presence and gratitude. I had “dates” with myself for dinner, consciously cooking a healthy meal. In time, something changed. Slowing down brought clarity and spiritual awakening. “Home hibernation” was re-titled “ashram weekends”.  I could open the door to my kids empty bedrooms again without tears. I learned to reach out socially not as an act of defiance but with love. I get it that a global pandemic is not a fair comparison, but it invokes the same feelings for me and I recognize them. What do you feel right now? Can you name it, be with it, and know that you are still a Divine Being?

I have been listening with hopeful anticipation for either the state or federal government to close non-essential businesses, or for other local business to start the trend. Then I would not have to make this decision and I wouldn’t be alone in my community. Removing props and extra studio cleaning per CDC guidelines carries good intentions, but no guarantees; and perhaps a false sense of security for some students with compromised heath. It is a simple supply chain. If I keep the studio open, it gives people a place to go. I would like to avoid being one of the places that potentially held the bomb if it goes off. The financial implications of closing scare the crap out of me as they do any small business owner, but worry plants aggressive seeds. Fear is a form of self-mutilation, as opposed to human insufficiencies and difficulty which are normal. I cannot control a pandemic that at times still doesn’t seem real. However, I can influence my own biology with my thoughts and perhaps shine positivity through the veil of universal consciousness. Imperfection is human – the “I, me, my” of what I am forced to give up keeps surfacing. But part of my is job to keep up the morale. I see my daughters’ grief and my son’s anger and feel both of those things. Spiritual awareness is not perfection; it is recognizing, accepting and redirecting selfish egoic thoughts. More than ever, our connection is obvious and terrifying all the same. Are the choices you are making helpful to some and harming to none?

Ask yourself, “what’s my role?” Mine is to take my classes online. I believe it is my highest good and the best way to reach out to my students and beyond. I am genuinely excited to offer daily video classes and communal meditations! I know the difference between creating “busy work” that blinds me and using my gifts. What are your gifts? Find your purpose and reach out to others with that purpose in whatever wacky cyber-social ways you can. We are still allowed to laugh and smile. Thank you for the spoken, written and silent support you offer me and each other. I am here for you and we are all on retreat together.

When I got in the car yesterday to drive to class, the first random song that came on was the Pretenders “Hymn to Her”.  Many years ago in a time of difficult transition, that song gave me strength.

Let me inside you
into your room
I’ve hear it’s lined
With the thing you don’t show
Lay me beside you
down on the floor
I’ve been your lover
From the womb to the tomb
I dress as your daughter
When the moon becomes round
You be my mother
When everything’s gone

And she will always carry on
Something is lost
But something is found…

Peace, Megan

Yoga is Not About Getting Your Toe in Your Ear

Before we get into our new blog post, I have some exciting news to share!  My new studio Bear Foot Yoga Healing is opening next month with classes starting soon in Burlington, Wisconsin.  More details coming shortly, in the meantime, visit our Website!

Yoga Journal

I’m about to “paint my masterpiece” in the words of Bob Dylan and open a yoga studio, but first I have a confession. I stopped reading Yoga Journal magazine in the past year, which in my industry is like a trader choosing not to check the stock exchange. In part, my time is better spent doing studio preparations. That is not the reason for ditching YJ though. I haven’t been able to get beyond the cover photos lately. In the vein of “a picture is worth a thousand words” my preconceived perception of the cover is that it frustrates potential yogi’s more than it motivates them. Yes, the models are always gorgeous and wafting with a Shakti power that any woman (and man for a different reason) would want. That is not a truthful representation of yoga.

Truthfulness, or Satya is one of Yamas (principles)of yoga. The YJ cover makes any pose look flawless and effortless. But this is not the truth. Or at least the full truth. It has been drilled into me in every training – yoga is not about attainment of the perfect form. It is about the process not the pose. Why doesn’t YJ get this? Perhaps I am stretching it a bit by discussing Satya . I assume the intention is not to purposely deceive, but very few bodies are capable of achieving YJ photo perfection. With the exception of some Cirque du Soleil potentials, these woman have put countless hours in on the mat to achieve near perfect form for that one photo. Still it is not their beautiful physical bodies that keep them coming back to yoga.

When I look at the current cover, all I can think is “who in their right mind would wear an all white spandex outfit to class”? By the time I unrolled my mat, I would be wearing a patchwork quilt of spilled morning java, kiddie goo and dog prints among other things. Furthermore, what woman would dare, if she could, stick one leg straight up in the air a foot above her head wearing see-through white pants and smile? Too young for mentalpause, obviously, the model does not have her mensies. At least this month’s model is not in some funky version of handstand, abdomen fully exposed, sans Buddha belly and muffin top. Hair is not a point for discussion just on the assumption that the models most likely showered before the photo shoot. Until the glorious day they put a woman on the cover with messy hair, panties hanging off a sweaty bum, and an “I don’t give a crap if I look like hell because I feel good look”, I will not offer to model.

 

Perhaps I am being a bit hard on YJ. Please YJ people, don’t hold this against me. Your articles are informational and interesting. For decades, you have brought yoga to the people. I also get that it is good to have goals. And for some that may be the ascertainment of one of what I label the “party poses”; usually when some tiny part of the body is grounded to the earth and one of the four limbs is wrapped around it like a scarf in a blizzard. Even after years of practice, your cover shots are unattainable to most yogis. Until there is a camera that shows what yoga does to the body on the subtle level, your cover photos are intimidating art. Beautiful, but laughable. Even if you read YJ, please come and visit me when the studio opens. I will have copies available for your viewing pleasure. Just know that that the goddess cover models don’t have anything on you. Because what they don’t tell you on the cover is that if you breath you can do yoga. And even if you can’t smile in a pose, yoga will make you smile in the heart.