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Bruce Lee and Butterflies: Absorbing What Is Useful June 30, 2017 17:04

I have entered my fifth decade, and yet I still occasionally struggle with self-acceptance. I wonder if I’m doing life “right,” whatever that means. Even though, on an intellectual level, I know it’s important to honor what resonates with me, when I observe others or hear them speak about their yoga or meditation practices with such confidence and authority, it can stir up questions and doubts.

This morning, I saw my favorite type of butterfly in our garden. I don’t know what it’s called. It’s not fancy or famous like the Monarch or the Tiger Swallowtail. This butterfly is very small, and it flies around in a very haphazard and erratic way—almost as if it’s surprised by its own ability to defy gravity. Its wings are white on one side, and pale blue on the other, so when it flies, it looks purple, lavender or lilac, really.

Even though it’s small, and a wobbly flyer, it’s still a butterfly, and it serves its butterfly purpose.  It’s not trying to be the Monarch, the Cabbage White, or the Blue Morpho. It’s in the garden, hanging out with the lilies and hosta blooms being true to its quirky self.

I have deep admiration for people who do this, too. People who can embrace who they are unapologetically—who can “absorb what is useful,” like badass Bruce Lee, and integrate it in such a way that they still honor and maintain their own individuality. Even if they wobble or teeter a bit, they have the courage to stay on course, their course, the path that best suits them.

I tend to descend into doubt and second-guessing when I hear a yoga or meditation practitioner singing the praises of his or her own personal practice—elaborating on how great Iyengar or Ashtanga is…hot yoga…goat yoga…or some complex, esoteric sadhana found in an obscure, scholarly text.

If Ashtanga resonates with you…great. If you can achieve Samadhi by practicing yoga with hooved livestock…awesome. If reading complicated, philosophical texts resonates with you and enhances your meditation practice…fabulous. By all means, rock on with your enlightened self.

I prefer a slower, gentler practice. One lineage is not enough for me—I like variety. Diversity matters…a lot. I like reading meditation texts that are clear, concise, practical, and…well… a little funny (thank you, Brad Warner).

So, why do I feel prickly and antsy when I hear about other people’s practices? It can feel a little jarring to me—it can make me feel like my path is inadequate somehow…less than. During these moments of doubt, I offer myself tenderness and permission to question, investigate, and reflect—to explore these practices and texts objectively, whether up close or from a distance—and then decide if they’re appropriate for me or not.

 I’m not a Monarch or a Tiger Swallowtail. I’m more like that nameless lilac butterfly haphazardly zipping around the yard. I’m still learning to navigate this life with ease, grace, and acceptance. I'm still figuring it out. I’m still learning to be gentle with myself, but strong enough to keep going and growing in my own way, even if I teeter and wobble a bit. I'm still learning to absorb what is useful, and to adapt and apply it to my own life in an authentic way...to be compassionate (and patient) with myself, and with others. Whether it's on the mat, on the cushion, with or without a mala, this, too, is the practice.


Using Malas and Mantras to Deal with Energy Bullies March 30, 2016 08:40

We've all had to deal with energy bullies at one time or another, and we have all been someone's energy bully as well. They can be family members, friends, colleagues, partners, and spouses.  Energy bullies have difficulty being accountable for their own behavior.  They are prone to blaming, complaining, judging, and playing mind games in order to protect their own egos or to manipulate others.

Being around an energy bully can deplete our own energy and erode our self-esteem.

There's good news, though.  Toxic people give us opportunities to transform ourselves and grow, and using malas and mantras can help foster this transformation.

Energy bullies are especially astute at honing in on other's vulnerabilities and blind spots. That's their hook--and if you let them--they latch on and drain you of positive energy and confidence.  So, how do you effectively deal with energy bullies?

1. Identify the Root Source

What is the Achilles' heel, trigger issue, or soft spot that they have targeted with you? It may be a behavior pattern, an issue that you are sensitive about, a belief, characteristic, or specific situation.  Identify why and how they push your buttons.

2. Pause

Once you take note of who pushes your buttons and which situations elicit strong reactions or energetically drain you....PAUSE.

Give yourself permission to allow feelings of anger, resentment, fear, exhaustion, and doubt to surface.  Sit with these feelings--invite them to tea for a few moments. Open your heart and make space for these feelings.  Then,

3. Healthy Detachment

Let them go! Strong reactions of anger and resentment only entrench us more deeply in the toxic relationship with an energy bully. Once you've identified the source and held space for the feelings surrounding it, detach from it emotionally (THIS IS EASIER SAID THAN DONE, and IT TAKES PRACTICE). 

Gently offering yourself compassion and acceptance during this process will allow you to empower yourself and bolster your strength and confidence.

4. Malas and Mantras:Tools of Empowerment

Using a mala and incorporating a mantra practice can be a very useful tool to disengage from an energy bully.  This practice can act as an antidote to the source issue.

Choose a mala and a mantra that will embody the qualities that you would like to cultivate.  

Need strength and protection? Call on Durga to help: Om Dum Durgayei Namaha

Need spiritual wisdom and maturity? Shiva can offer assistance: Om Nama Shivaya

If you're quick to anger and need peace, Kwan Yin can help: Namo Kwan Shi Yin Pusa

Need an all-purpose mantra for balance and equanimity? Om Hum So Hum 

There are thousands of mantras to choose from, and a Google search and listening to your own intuition can help you find one that's best for you.  Make time each day to chant, sing, whisper, or think this mantra while using your mala.  I recommend a 40-day sadhana, or practice, if possible. Keep note of your progress in a spiritual journal or log.  Before you know it, you'll reclaim your power and help prevent future energy bullies from sabotaging you.