Wednesday, October 28, 2015
During my off time, I tried to stay focused on what I needed to stay grounded. It worked for the first few days, but then it didn't anymore. It was less and less easy to stay grounded without that daily practice. I could feel it in my actions, my thoughts, my feelings, my being.
Part of the reason I was so easily able to abandon this practice was because I hadn't found a video of the exact practice that I wanted. The videos I found either didn't start with tuning in (which I feel is very important) or they didn't end with a shavasana (which is equally important). I think the plan was to eliminate these components in order to shorten the amount of time needed, but they are very necessary, especially for beginners. Other videos had these components, but didn't have as many prana (breath) exercises or physical exercises to conserve time.
The video I did for those 5 days (and staggered various days before) was a 30 minute video that started with tuning in, proceeded to the prana and physical poses and ended with shavasana. Every time I did it I felt energized, relaxed and grounded, but there was this feeling that something was missing. After much thought and introspection, I decided the video wasn't long enough. I wasn't really sure what was missing, but I knew I needed a full hour to get what I needed from the practice.
This morning I tried a different video and it was much more physically demanding that I'm used to, but I found some valuable lessons in it. It was an hour long and began with tuning in. It went on to physical yoga poses (I have no idea what they are called) that focused on squatting, bending, and laying all while visualizing each chakra connected to the earth. This video ended with shavasana and meditation on staying grounded. It was perfect and I plan to complete it again tomorrow.
One thing I learned in today's video is about being able to ground myself quickly when needed. I struggle with this and know it is a learning curve that will hopefully come with time. In today's video she had us walk around the room, imagining a mirror image of ourselves connected to our feet and penetrating the earth while using your toes to grip the ground as you walk. I imagined myself in a grassy meadow, walking barefoot, gripping the earth with my toes while a golden string tethered my root chakra to the earth and the same golden string tethered my crown chakra to the heavens. It felt amazing and I know it will be useful for a quick grounding when needed.
I left today's session feeling grounded, connected, open and energized. I plan to repeat the same video tomorrow. Once I am seasoned enough I will be able to create my own sessions or use those more established in Kundalini. But right now, this baby needs to have someone guide her along and until I'm more versed in kundalini, I will need to follow someone with more experience than me. I would one day like to create a video of myself, merely for me to follow along, doing the kyrias for each of the chakras so I can include what I needed for these to be effective. However, for now, I will focus on seeing this 40 days to fruition.
A spiritual journey is not about all of the times you fall off, it is about all of the times that you get back up!
Monday, October 12, 2015
After I left roller derby, that feeling got stronger. The roller derby rink was the only place in the world that I could feel everything and nothing in the world all at one time. I felt empowered, strong, special, part of a team, while also feeling weak, unimportant, and all alone at the same time. I also didn't feel the outside stress, pain, chaos of the world when I was on the rink. I was mostly focused on surviving because it was so physically demanding, that my brain couldn't think of anything else while I was out there.
While at the time I thought that blocking out the stress and pain was cathartic, having all of those feelings that I never really dealt with come rushing back, is overwhelming. I feel the need to process at least 6 years of feelings that I put on hold while I was on the track.
The more and more I have thought about it, I have realized that the problem is that my past patterns are not working for me. I lived the first 30 years of my life on full-tilt, type A personality, expecting nothing less than perfection from everyone around me, being prepared for (or at least expecting) the next tragedy, being the voice of calm in family crisis after family crisis. While this served me for the first 30 years, it is no longer working for me. I have realized that I have no plan. No plan for my future. No plan for my children's future. No plan for what I want my life to look like. I have simply been existing and dealing with life as it comes with no real focus on what I want that life to look like.
Over the past year, I have been truly focusing on how to solve this lack of grounding in my life. I feel like you have to be truly grounded before you can begin to think about what your path, plan and life will become. I believe that we are all spiritual beings that require connection to something to feel powerful enough to make a difference in the world around us. For some people, this is a connection to Mother Earth, for some people is is a connection to a traditional trinity, while others feel a pull towards the Divine (God, Buddha, Allah, however that translates for you). Regardless of what you call it, anyone with this deep longing can tell you it is very powerful feeling. And I truly believe that it is needed for everyone.
Some people are capable of surviving without this spiritual connection, but I would argue that they are not their highest selves and are not in tune with what their soul was put here to be. While I would argue that others that do not have this grounding stability use alcohol, drugs, food, sex, shopping or any other "addiction" to fill this need. At different points in my life I have used one or more of these "addictions" to fill this void in my soul. I would further hypothesize that even OCD tendencies comes from a place where your soul does not feel stable in your body or on this Earth and therefore manifests itself as obsessive/compulsive tendencies in order to provide stability and security (rituals that give you a false sense of control).
On my quest to find this stability for myself throughout my life, I have explored many religions, ways of life, paths, etc. Over the past year, I have come back time and time again to Kundalini Yoga. For those that are unfamiliar, Kundalini yoga is called the "yoga of awareness." Kundalini yoga is said to be the original yoga that all other forms of yoga originated. Kundalini yoga is comprised of the physical poses (asana) many have come to expect and enjoy in Western yoga coupled with meditation needed to clear your mind and spiritual awareness needed to soothe our souls. Kundalini has hundreds of kyrias (pattern of specific asanas) used for varying and specific reasons. Kundalini is also the source of sitting with your hands on your knees, first finger and thumb together (gyan mudra) that many mock when thinking of meditation. This mudra (hand placement) is so ancient that it has infiltrated Western culture. Kundalini has been practiced longer than any organized religion including Christianity, Buddhism or Hinduism. This sacred Indian yoga was reserved for the most elite as it was felt that most people were not able to handle the powerful nature of it. That was until Yogi Bhajan brought this teaching to California in 1969.
Now that you have a little background on Kundalini, I'm going to share my own practice. I have read everything I can get my hands on about Kundalini and followed along with many a youtube video Kundalini class. I have come to understand and focus on the seven chakras in our body and how the opening and blocking of these energy centers affect our lives. I am in no way and expert and understand that I have still have much to learn and experience.
On Saturday, I attended my first, live, in person Kundalini yoga class at the Sat Tirath Ashrum in Kansas City. I was very intimidated and scared prior to going. After talking to Troy about all of it at length, many times, he encouraged me to go. He assured me that everyone would be welcoming and no one would judge me. It finally hit home when he related it to derby. He said, remember how excited you were to share derby with the newbies and teach them everything you knew?! That's how they will feel and you will experience that. He was right, like usual.
I felt at ease and welcomed upon arrival. People greeted me, smiled at me, and introduced themselves. It was an amazingly comforting experience. In the past, I have been the new person many times (church, derby, jobs, etc.), but I have never felt that at ease, lacking self-conscience feelings, welcomed and home, like I did there. Kundalini is something that, in the grand scheme of things, I know very little about. I might know more than a friend, but I know a microscopic portion of the guru sitting at the charge of the class and an even smaller amount of the vast amount of information there is to know.
I have come to realize that the direction my soul has been pulling me is once again exactly where I need to be. The kryia we practiced was called the nabhi kriya. This kriya is composed of serval asanas to open the third (navel) chakra. This is a lot of abdominal exercises, leg lifts, pressure on the abdomen, etc. I'm not saying that I experienced anything profound, spiritually enlightening, etc., but I did feel comfort and ease and I faced my fear and did it anyway and now I am being rewarded.
Today I tried a kriya for my root chakra. I enjoyed the practice of it. I'm not sure I feel any different than I did yesterday. I don't suddenly feel grounded, or have all the answers, but I do feel like I'm on to something and I am starting down the right path. Believe me, it wasn't pretty. My postures are not perfect. My breath is not perfect. My mind is not completely focused. It's messy both in appearance and in feeling. But, I did it and that's what matters. I can thank roller derby for this ability to go through the motions until I get it right. Prior to roller derby, if I wasn't perfect at something the very first time I tried it, I would give up. I wanted to be successful at roller derby so badly that I kept on...failing, trying, skating, pushing. Now, I feel that way about kundalini and I don't think it would be possible to continue down this path of unknown circumstances without my derby experience.
And for these reasons, today begins 40 days of Kundalini practice of the same kriya. Kundalini practitioners believe that 40 days of practicing the same kriya will break any negative habits that block you from the expansion possible through that kriya. Therefore, my hope is to break the bad habits of my life in such a way that I am ready to focus on my future. I'm ready to make a plan for my future. I'm ready to visualize how I want that future to look and make plans to make it happen. I don't know what the next 40 days will look like or what they will bring, but I am excited to begin the next step in this journey. Here goes nothing...
Friday, January 27, 2012
It will pop out! Like this!
After inserting the bearings into all of the wheels, slide them on the post and screw on the nut. You will want your nut tight enough that there is no too much wiggle room, but loose enough that the wheels spin freely. Repeat for each wheel, post and nut.
After completing your project your hands will smell like grease and be dirty. The best way I have found to get rid of all of the smell and grease is using Fast Orange hand cleaner.
NOW GO ENJOY YOUR SMOOTH ROLLING, FAST MOVING SKATES AND HIP CHECK A SKINNY GIRL!
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
I'm not sure those that do not participate in roller derby realize what all it takes to maintain a league, put on games, and fund all of it. The league I skate for, Dead Girl Derby, is a skater owned and operated league. What this means is, we make the decisions, we dot the i's and cross the t's and we pay for all of it or raise the money to pay for it through our hard work, sweat and tears. Our league participates in at least two events per month that raise money for non-profit organizations and charities around the Metro as well as several larger fundraisers that stretch over several days and/or weeks. We also practice 3 times a week, host a game once a month from February through August and participate in other events and fundraisers as required.
All of this being said, Roller Derby would not be possible without the men of roller derby. The women of roller derby get all the spotlight and credit, but I will fight to the death with anyone that discounts the need for men in the world of roller derby. There are things that are required in roller derby that we just can't do. The obvious contributor is our refs. Most leagues have predominately male referees because, let's face it, women involved in roller derby want to skate in games and knock people around, not worry about calling penalties and keeping the game on track. That doesn't mean we don't have female referees for any number of reasons, but predominately in our league and most others, the refs are male. Additionally, it is impossible to announce our own games and skate them at the same time. Also, most of the coaches on our league and others are men. Again, we have some female coaches, but are predominately male. Another example is on game day when we are skating or getting ready to skate, we don't and can't worry about where people are parking, who is taking tickets and the many other aspects of game day operations. We call these people Horde members that help make game day run smoothly.
All of our Horde members, referees, announcers, and coaches are very imperative to the smooth operation of our league. However, in my opinion, the MOST important men of roller derby are the men that hold down the fort at home, care for the children, buy their significant others roller derby gifts and constantly take a back seat to the independent, strong, roller derby playing women they love. Without my QDP (qualified domestic partner; boyfriend just doesn't do him justice), Troy, I could not do derby. I have very few family members and even fewer that live close enough to help with all of the things that are required of Troy. I cannot imagine my life without him. Not only does he help hold the house and kids together when I have to be gone for derby, he loves me unconditionally and makes me laugh harder than anyone I have ever known. I am grateful every day for the love and support he shows me. He never gets resentful of the time I spend away from the family for derby. We try really hard to balance it out. Even on weeks that I have practice on Monday, an event on Tuesday, another practice on Wednesday and team practice on Thursday, he stands by me 100% and supports my decision to play roller derby. Those of us that are moms have to have a strong support system to be able to play roller derby. Mine happens to be wrapped up into one person that I could not live without and am so happy to share my life with.
When you see a roller derby girl and realize she is also a mom, don't forget about those men behind the scenes that help with the home and kids to make it possible for her to practice, attend events and skate her heart out in games.
On this Thanksgiving eve, I am thankful for the men of roller derby, but most importantly Troy!
Tuesday, November 1, 2011
The specific issue I would like to discuss is illegal immigration. I know this is a very polarizing issue, but I want to be really clear before starting this post, I do not want this post to become a chance to bash certain political views or ethnic groups. I would simply like to encourage you to think outside of the box when thinking about this issue and many others. Regardless of your opinion of illegal immigration, there are several facts I would like to point out:
This blog originally began as an attempt to debate the issue of gay marriage. I quickly realized that I was not going to be able to change anyone's mind about the issue if they had already made their decision. I then began thinking of all of the times I have been asked "When are you getting married?" In my opinion these two issues go hand in hand. A same sex couples' right to marry is just as important as my choice not to get married. So, I'm keeping this post short and sweet. When this beautiful, completely in love couple can legally get married in all 50 states, Troy and I will get married. There's your answer, so stop asking me.
*Picture used with permission of Mary Harmon.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
This all started to ring true for me a few weeks ago when I had to confront an older kid in my neighborhood for picking on my young children. After the confrontation, I came back inside and thought, wow, that is something my mom would have done. I never really viewed my mom as old (she died when she was 43), but she was my mom so therefore, must have been old! The fact that I am on the PTA and help out with things at my daughter's school make me feel old. I remember not too long ago walking into her school and thinking, I'm not old enough to be volunteering for a school party of a 1st grader. It's almost like it snuck up on me. It was happening all around me and I didn't even notice.
In the past couple of years, I have begun gardening. That's another thing that makes me feel old. I love it, but when I think about it, I remember my retired neighbor growing up working in his garden a lot. I also have a bird feeder that I worry about if it has food in it or not. I also a hummingbird feeder that I check constantly. The fact that I have tried for 3 days to get a picture of the oriole that is eating out of it, makes me feel old.
I care more about politics and recycling than TMZ and the latest styles. I care more about spending time with my family, than I do about going out to the bar. I care more about making sure my kids have fun than I do about what band is coming to town. I care more about what the weather is going to do so I know how to dress my kids than I do about how late I can stay up.
Things change. People change. Times change. We all evolve and grow. If these things make me old then so be it. I'm happier with my life right now than I have ever been. It's like my life has finally caught up with my soul and all is well with my soul.