This is a my safe place to free write. Un-edited, raw, and completely transparent. I never go back and change my thoughts, because what I was writing at that time was genuinely what I was feeling. Any questions, just ask!
Men & Sexual Subjectivity
Disclosure: This is an echo of so many thoughts and words before me. I am here to say that I appreciate and hear each and every one of you. This needs to be said because it is not said enough. My opinion is from a heterosexual perspective. I thank the men that teach, participate in, and cultivate conscious mindful connections. For information & inspiration on the sacred masculine, I recommend following: @sacredsons @spiritualheart @prestonsmiles @thehealingmatt @adam.roa @adam__jackson
Here we go:👇🏻
There are many differences between the conscious sacred masculine man and the conditioned man that society has cultivated. Some of the most prominent differences are how they approach, perceive, interact with, and show affection to women.
Everyday we see conditioned men falling victim to societies’ normalities. In today’s society, it is normal and accepted to only see women as sexual objects. Most women are judged on outer appearance alone as a reason for partnership.
I was driving down the street and, just today, noticed how many half naked women are on billboards all over the city. It’s everywhere, on social media, on every ad, in pop culture, and in social conversation saying, “damn that girl is fine.”
What is wrong with harmless comments and pictures? The fact that they are not harmless. The multitude of attention to sexualizing females diminishes all other personal characteristics. Yes, that female may be beautiful. There is a difference between appreciating beauty and sexualizing a person. While being beautiful does feel good and has its advantages (with men), being beautiful does not impact the world in any way. Seeing only outward appearance diminishes intelligence, sense of humor, attitude, personal skills, talents, spiritual awareness, and emotions.
Approaching a woman - Instead of a conditioned A response, Try B?
A. She is pretty, I want to talk to her.
B. I like her sense of style, I wonder what makes her like that. Then finding out!
A. Look at her, wow.
B. She has a stunning smile, I want to know why she is so happy.
A. She is sexy.
B. What are your physical health practices and what makes them important to you?
A. I want to fuck her.
B. I want to know more about her.
The sacred masculine. What does this mean in relation to women sexualization? It means that you see a human soul rather than outward appearance only. It’s simple. You are a soul relating to another soul.
The problem is not realizing that sexual energy is a powerful force that has to be controlled and channeled in conscious, consensual, mindful action with intention. It is a superpower that we have to learn how to control.
There is a time and place for sexual energy. It has to be treated as sacred because it is so powerfully charged. When you give that away for free to everyone, it becomes less valuable to your partner.
When a partner gives sexual energy away to another, that action cultivates feelings of inadequacy. Making the other partner question what they are doing wrong. I realize that this all sounds like deep seeded insecurity. Which it is. I have been around men who only see women as walking sex dolls and that being accepted. All of the trauma in my life is from men who did not know how to channel or harness their sexual power.
Once we start seeing humans as idiosyncratic beings with appreciation and curiosity, we will develop a greater understanding for who that person really is and learn about ourselves through that unique relationship. We further know clearer if this human is a fit for us or not. We develop a greater knowledge base on deeper human interaction. We will learn more about ourselves and our behavioral patterns through others.
It is primitive and immature to base opinions on outward appearance alone. This topic bleeds into more than sexual attraction. It touches on the perceived “differences” that are really just idiosyncrasies. What if we lived in a society where we all saw each other as complex beings?
I am just asking, for myself, for men to honor their power. Honor their worth. Honor their feelings. I encourage men to get serious about what they want and not settle for less. Show up authentically. Know whether you are choosing sexuality vs. intimacy. Be open with communication from the beginning. Realize every single day you do not have to react from your environment, but create in response to environment.
Humans are not here merely to procreate. Our purpose here is morphing into a conscious awakening. It is every person’s duty to be the best person that they can be on a daily basis. Acting with gratitude for the mistakes that have taught hard lessons allowing awareness to consciously grow, merge, love, appreciate, and create. It is of the utmost importance to act with intention and be conscious of how actions affect others.
100 Hour Yoga Alliance Certified Ganjasana Teacher Training
10.13.17 - 10.16.17
I first heard about Ganjasana through my Kula sister, Valerie Conlin after a session at Kula Yoga Shala. I informed Val of my soon venture to Colorado. She immediately showed me Ganjasana on Instagram. I gave Ganjasana a follow and tracked her events for almost a year. Ganjasana events look completely unique, studying plants, herbs, spices, and astrology.
I knew this would be my tribe when the time was right. Students have smoked in my classes. I am cool with it. I want to be more than just cool with it. I want to educate my students about cannabis. I want to give students tools for integrating the plant into spiritual practice.
Ganjasana announced the first ever Ganjasana teacher training program, giving students 100 hours of cannabis plant medicine yoga training. I made up my mind that I would attend, not knowing how I would acquire the cash for it. I considered magnifying my credit card debt but reconsidered. I sat with this far-out idea of attending the training while meeting many wonderful people. I studied the Ganjasana website almost every day. I requested off work more than a month in advance, still remarkably so unsure about how this was going to unfold. I was talking to my boss about my reasoning for requesting off. She advised me to propose this to the marketing team. Maybe they could sponsor me.
I work for a cannabis concentrate company called Evolab. We formulate pure CO2 distillate cartridges, disposable vape pens, and refill kits. Wait a sec… This is a weed event.. maybe they want more weed.
I am enthralled. This is it. This is my ticket to Ganjasana!! I tell the marketing team about Ganjasana and how this is a perfect advertising opportunity. I will share our product with yoga teachers who will share our product with their own yoga students.
I email the Ganjasana website immediately.
I hear nothing.
I email again.
I hear nothing.
I receive a parking ticket.
I find an old ticket in my car.
I find out that I now have a court date because I forgot to pay a ticket.
I go to a rave.
Is Ganjasana out of the picture?
Two days before the event, my phone rings while I am at work. It is Rachael Carlevale, from Ganjasana! I take off running to the break room because our service sucks. Her voice is breaking up… noooo. I finally get to the top of the stairs! We conclude; If I bring 20 disposable vape pens, 2/3 of the price will be compensated for!! I agree not knowing if Evolab will oblige. I need the product tomorrow, this is a hard maybe.
The department head of promotions and marketing (the one who agreed to sponsor Ganjasana) is out of town! I talk to the higher ups. There are so many laws around cannabis. We have to buy our product back from a dispensary at whole sale rate. We have to find a dispensary that has 20 iHits in stock, and is willing to sell them back.
Again, it is up to the universe at this point.
Not knowing if I am attending or not, I pack my car; ready to head out in the morning regardless. I get to work and wait until noon! They find Smoking Gun, which is also a strip club on the other side. With a heart full of excitement, I drive to Smoking Gun, notice a sketchy couple walking out of the strip club, pick up the iHits, and set off to Aspen Canyon Ranch, laughing in disbelief at what is happening. The drive is gorgeous, complete daggers of mountains covered by evergreen trees growing towards the sky.
I arrive at exactly 4:20
I stand out on the porch with a cup of hot lemon water, staring out into the mountains, by Williams Fort Tributary, feeling monumental gratitude deep in the pit of my soul. I am supposed to be here, now. I feel it.
I meet Rachael, she is everything I imagine. Her energy is fun, chill, vibrant, and feminine. I meet Brigitte Mars, she emanates powerful, goddess, cosmic, galaxy vibes.
Rachael informs me that I get my own private cabin to myself, by a hot tub, by the river!! I walk into my room to happy dance. I have a loft bed by the ceiling that I later turn into a perfect, cozy nook. I unpack, and head to the main cabin for the opening ceremony. I smoke with a fellow student, and expect that every one was high because this is “Ganjasana” after all. We hike up the trail and arrive to the main cabin. Rachael welcomes, “Thank you all for coming. We are going to start off the ceremony sober.“
My mental chatter begins:
“Well Shit, I fucked up. Damnit, why did I smoke? I should have come into this open… Wait a second.. I am at a YOGA TEACHER TRAINING. I am what I am and I need to be present without judgement.”
Inhale, (deep belly breath, hands open wide, on my belly, middle fingers touching at the navel)
Exhale, (initiate from the belly, middle fingers overlap)
I repeat about five times in meditation just noticing my breath, Rachael’s voice, and my body.
I become aware of the concentrated dense energy. Each breath is enveloping my practice deeper. I observe the fascia throughout my entire body pulsating with each innocent inhalation.
As the practice concludes, we all are left with ourselves on the mat, softly gazing into the circle. No one is looking at anybody, but the presence of the collective consciousness is apparent. Here I am. Here we are. An elevated tribe of high frequency emanating beings collectively present with one another.
The entire weekend felt like a gentle, safe, fierce, empowering movement. We became raw and human but also cosmic and celestial. We were informed about conscious consumption, permaculture principles, living organic soil, wild mountain plants, cannabis yoga sequencing, chakra alignment, and ultimately the Ganja spirit. The weekend was abundant in presence and wisdom.
All of this happened because I decided it would. I talked about it. I asked for help. I had direct and specific intention guiding my action. I followed through. I surrendered. I let the universe do it’s magic. I allowed this experience into my life.
Imagine if political/business/hard discussion meetings started this way; by everyone aligning with their own truth to acknowledge another truth. Living life awake, side by side.
What if our business leaders aligned themselves before any serious meeting? What if they opened up to conscious breath work, practiced some forward folds, and smoked a fat blunt before discussing a country and all the lives they are responsible for? Seriously, what if the 1% got on the same frequency and practiced presence together before dominating the land? What if we all practiced presence? What if we studied ourselves as much as we study other people? What if we learned to love ourselves? What if we learned to love our environment as much as we love ourselves?
What if the convenience lifestyle seized? What if we actually pursued our dreams with intention, purpose, research, and action!
I can be this. I am this. I am making this happen in real time. I am getting my shit together, finally. Intensely here lately, I have only spent my time on me and the things that bring me to life. Listed are tools that help me get on track. No judgement to others, this is just what’s working for me personally:
I stopped drinking as much - I didn’t realize how much I was drinking just to be social. A glass of wine here and there. A beer with friends. I had no clue how much money I was spending just on a convenient drink after work or dance.
I haven’t spent time with other people unless I 100% wanted to - I haven’t been on one empty date. I haven’t invited anyone to my house out of desire for human touch. I haven’t surrounded myself with people just to avoid loneliness. I am getting to know myself, independently.
My space is clean - If you know me, then you know how hard this has been for me. If you know me, you have seen the terror that I have inhabited in the past. Piles and piles of clothes…EVERYWHERE. A clean space helps me stay focused. I don’t carry the guilt of a messy space.
I wake up an hour earlier to organize my body and mind - I breathe, stretch, shower, make breakfast, pack a lunch, and get ready leisurely all to arrive at work on time.
I actually write when I say I will - I had a habit of opening my laptop, just to find a Facebook timeline.
I consistently go to my dance classes - it’s easy to skip when there is something better, more convenient, more fun, less productive going on.
I stay truish to a vegan diet - meh, I eat what I want without judgement.
I am being impeccable with my word - I am speaking up, being blunt, and honest. I am allowing my greatness to show rather than my insecurities. I am proving to myself on a daily basis that success is all about making the right choices with the right actions on a day-by-day basis.
If you want to write, write.
This applies to everything.
So often we find ourselves stuck in a convenient routine of life events that keep happening to us rather than from us. Now is the time to take responsibility for your life. This “now moment” is your life. Make things happen. Nothing is going to improve unless you actively craft it. It really is that simple. Decide & craft.
What if you actually did that thing.. what if you actually did it..
I have been out here in Colorado for a little over a year. I just now realized that there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. I have been creating my own havoc. I am just now seeing how powerful I am. I am making active changes. I am seeing results. I am walking the path. I feel aligned. I am constantly attracting what's meant for me. I feel like the only reason that this is happening is because I decided to go for it. I decided to stop wasting my time with the bullshit that is so easily infiltrated into life. At the end of the day, you are left with your own thoughts. At the beginning of the day you initiate the day with your own thoughts. What if we stopped beating ourselves up for all the things that we haven’t done. What if we were nicer to ourselves about how long it has taken us. What if we saw ourselves as powerful. What if we all supported each other. What if we all actually lived our truth.
This is a grassroots effort towards societal change. I want to be a part of that change, therefor I am starting with me.
Thank you Ganjasana tribe for holding a safe, densely informative environment! Thank you Evolab for sponsoring me!
Yoga. What a loaded word. What comes to mind when one hears the word “yoga”? So often when I talk about yoga, people reply with, “Oh yeah, I need yoga because my hamstrings are tight.” “I need to get back into yoga because my back hurts.” While all of this is valid, I feel like yoga goes so much deeper than the physical body.
For me, yoga is unity. Yoga will always be unity. While practicing, one is uniting with breath, the physical body, the mental body, the energetic body, the environment, and the community. In every yoga class I teach, I incorporate each of these elements. Yes, the hamstrings may open, but the heart might open too.
This past weekend, Memorial Day Weekend, I was blessed with opportunity to share yoga at Cannaventure’s Discs and Dabs Tournament & Campo
ut on Black Mountain in Guffey, Colorado. Guffey is a magical place where time slows down, nature permeates the soul, and people remove the filter that so often prevents connection. “People can let go and really be themselves here, it’s a safe place,” Eric (property owner).
The campout began Friday night and lasted until Monday afternoon. Days began with a homemade breakfast in an industrial-functioning outdoor soup kitchen, thanks to Black Mountain Family. After breakfast, participants competed in the Discs tournament while dabbing and wandering across the many acres of Black Mountain. After a full day of disc golf, participants enjoyed a homemade dinner while listening to live music on the custom built stage, all by a warm bonfire which was very needed in sub freezing temperatures after sunset.
On Monday morning, the last day, Sunrise yoga was supposed to begin at 7:00am. After a night of dabs, bocce ball, munchies, campfire shenanigans, and petting farm animals, no one was awake at 7:00am.
It was an ambitious attempt.
Instead of being attached to the 7:00am time and flowing with the newborn sun, Ben (Cannaventure Owner, President, Organizer) and I decided to wait until more beautiful souls awoke. I very much appreciate how laid back everything and everyone was at this event. It flowed the way it was meant to.
While we were waiting on folks to wake up, we made breakfast. I was honored to help out in the kitchen. Amy (property owner) prepared everything! The least I could do was help cook! I made coffee and pancakes for everyone on a huge kitchen griddle. I have never cooked on a griddle. Do you know how many pancakes you can fit on a griddle? Lots! Lots let me tell you! I filled the griddle with about seven pancakes each batch. I make about three batches. By the time the batter was gone, so were the pancakes. It felt so good to see so many people eating pancakes!
After breakfast, I went around to the different campsites inviting everyone to my yoga class. Some people were leaving, some straight up told me no, and then I found some takers! They were our camp neighbors and bonfire musicians. The Cannaventure Crew heads up to the top of Black Mountain. It’s a peninsula with a 360 view of the magical Guffey, Colorado.
I set up my mat so that everyone can see my instruction and the mountains in the distance. I have about 12 participants. We leisurely begin by breathing together and taking in the space. Right here, right now.
The present moment. Something that you have access to at this very moment. And this one. And this one. Take a deep inhale.
Hold it. Feel the air inside your lungs take up space in your body.
Exhale. Let go of whatever you are holding on to.
Inhale. Notice something about your environment.
Exhale. Listen to the breath leave your body.
Inhale. Listen to your surroundings.
Be fully in your body and in your mind with intention. Each action is deliberate and from a space of thought and love.
This is being in the present moment, no matter the circumstance. You see, any time we are suffering, it is because of our aversion to the present moment. Too often the present moment is clouded by distraction of our phones, past emotion, present ambitions, and general mind chatter.
I too feel all of these things. I remember how it felt when I ended a relationship. I remember feeling regret, and then all of those emotions will arise. I too remember what it feels like to feel alone then those emotions arise. I too know what it feels like to be laying in one spot, crippled by thoughts. I too know what it feels like to think back to happy times and good memories. I too remember my grandmother’s famous green beans on the farm in Tennessee. I too remember what it feels like to have the security of my parents.
I too know what it feels like to not be completely satisfied with my job, my finances, my body, etc. I too know what it feels like to yearn for something more. I too know what it feels like to be hungry and anticipate dinner. I too know what it feels like to want a life that is full of love and adventure.
The thing is... I will never get there until I am fully HERE.
What a beautiful thing, being alive. Blinking and having the opportunity to see something from a refreshed perspective. Realizing that, wow, as I inhale I grow taller. As I exhale, I can get a little closer to my toes. As I inhale, I take in the space. As I exhale, I become a little more connected.
When our pre-frontal cortex in the brain is shut off with the mind chatter, we can truly be alive and in the present moment and have a choice. WE GET TO CHOSE how our life flows with OUR DIRECTION. It is magic.
With thought, intention, and energy, we can truly begin to draw, paint, sculpt, and create our existence.
After the meditation, I guided my soul friends through Surya Namaskar A & B. I incorporated a crescent flow, a virabhadrasana II flow, some partner work, and some cooling/opening stretches.
The partner work was so cool. We all got in a circle. We pressed energy into each other’s hands. We closed our eyes. Listened to the birds again, heard laughter, opened our eyes, looked at everyone’s smiling faces, and began a balancing series.
With one leg out and the opposite arm out, the entire circle can balance on one leg while relying on the balance from the rest of the community. We then held shoulder-to-shoulder and nose-dived into virabhadrasana III, which was previously a little more difficult without the support of the circle. “I can do it now! Thanks Guys!” Amy said.
We then turned our backs to one another and walked backwards into the circle. Everyone leaned back into each other and the clump began to collectively grow stronger. So often in our community we are afraid to rely on support from others. Sometimes we just have to give a little to receive a little. We took the communal support with us in our hearts as we balanced on our own and found our own mats again.
After the cooling stretching postures, savasana’s soundtrack was nature due to my phone over heating. I was so excited to play the Desert Dweller’s song, but the birds were singing more beautifully. We practiced being in the moment, and we continue to practice to be in the moment after the mat is rolled up. We continue to practice unity. We continue to practice.
For us, after the mat was rolled up, we went cliff diving at Paradise Cove. The plunge into the natural-freezing pool was literally breathtaking and exhilarating.
I am beyond grateful to have shared this experience with everyone. From the bottom of my heart I feel joy in being able to connect and aid in the practice of humans really diving in and getting into their bodies. I know without a doubt that this is my life’s work.
Also, shout out to Cannaventure and Ben Owens for creating the space for people to come, have the freedom to be themselves, freedom to smoke, and freedom to be in nature. It is because of his passion that this whole event took place. He is such an inspiring human that had a dream and is now fulfilling it. Right on man.
May 10, 2017
Failure. Goddamnit Fucking Failure. It sucks. It really really sucks. I have experienced this sensation since I arrived in Colorado. All I want to do it succeed, which I know I will. I will succeed. I will thrive so hard. But currently, I am on the battlegrounds. I am fighting myself here.
Through a daily yoga practice, gym visit, meditation, healthy eating, friends, alone time, and rest I am finding balance. I am finding a grounded process in which I am unshakable. I feel my emotions. I process my emotions, and I move on to being in and finding the present moment. This is also an on-going process of course. Every podcast, documentary, self-help book that I take in says the same thing. Failure is a part of life. All the masters have failed more than they have succeeded. They have failed more than most have even tried. Failure is inevitable and necessary.
Hearing this and experiencing this are two very different sensations. I am in the midst of a huge let down. I recently auditioned to teach yoga at 24 Hour Fitness. I had about five days to prepare ten minutes worth of material for each module. I auditioned for a Zumba position as well as a Yoga teaching position. I prepared two songs for Zumba and a ten-minute sequence for the yoga module.
I put everything into this material. I turned my living room into a mini studio for the week, thanks to my roommates. I practiced on my roommates and co-workers. I even face-timed my mom. They all gave me feedback and constructive criticism. I took the criticism, tweeked my material, and displayed my final product to them the day before. They all agreed that my material was bomb. I thought my material was bomb. I felt like my material was in alignment with whom I really am. It felt incredible to show all of my friends my authentic self in this form. I was so excited to show the 24 Hour Fitness Team who Athena Ray Sweeten is.
I arrive at the audition in Lowry, Colorado. This gym is absolutely beautiful. There are glass windows all around. The front desk lady asks me if I am here to audition and tells me to head up to the studio. I go in to find five other candidates and Jessica David. Jessica David is in charge of all the group fitness classes at 24 Hour Fitness in the greater Denver area. Everyone sits in a circle and gives a brief introduction stating name and module auditioning for.
Jessica David then informs us that she needs to make this quick because she has a plane to catch. She is heading to Nashville, Tennessee to run the Music City Marathon. She requests that we cut our material in half. Well fuck. I have everything timed out so perfectly AND NOW I HAVE TO CHANGE IT LAST SECOND?!
I demonstrate my one Zumba song. Shape of You – Ed Sheeran (Major Lazer Remix) . Every one looks so good. We have a great time. I am enjoying demonstrating. I tell the ladies to be in their bodies. Enjoy the sensation of movement and feeling sexy. I tell them to make eye contact with themselves in the mirror and be fierce, whatever that means to them. This is Zumba. You are supposed to feel a little extra spicy.
After Zumba, I immediately flip a switch and demonstrate my yoga module. I have no idea what I am going to teach for yoga because I have a perfect ten-minute sequence, which now has to be five or less. Jessica David is saying we need to wrap it up.. I lead the class through the six spinal movements, some cat/cows, and a forward fold. She then says, “thank you,” meaning stop.
I have no idea what she thinks. I participate in the other candidate’s material and the audition is over. She takes us outside one-by-one to give feedback and tell us what she thinks. She says, “First off, wow, you are a beautiful dancer. I do think that your material is too sexy for the 24 Hour Fitness demographic. Unfortunately I can’t give you a position teaching Zumba at this time but I will invite you to the next audition for Zumba. Secondly. I like how alignment based you are with yoga. I will email you possible yoga locations for a permanent teaching position.” I ecstatically thank her, get in my car, snapchat everyone, call my mom, and text my friends because I am so excited.
I hear nothing for a week. Then get an email about possibly subbing for other teachers if I teach water aerobics…? What? Lady, you give me a position and now you want me to teach water aerobics and only sub for other teachers’ classes? What? You gave me the job! I am so disappointed. My ego is bruised a little.
I feel that disappointment but I am not going to let it deter me from my dreams and passion. I will teach yoga, outside, in beautiful locations, all around the world. It’s happening world.
This experience taught me discipline of working on something daily, to confide in the people that I trust, to take and apply constructive criticism, how to not let my ego get in the way of an experience, and most importantly accepting what is.
Today in our society you always hear, “I guess its not meant for me. It’s a sign,” and then they bail out. I say no. I say try and try again. Tom Shea suggests, “Only after 10,000 times can you judge something.” Failure is inevitable and failure sucks. Its what you do with that sucky feeling that matters. Do you just sit and feel like shit? Or do you use it as fuel? Or both?
Regardless of being employed by 24 Hour Fitness, I am a yoga teacher and nothing can take that away from me. I am a sexy dancer and I accept that. I am raw, authentic, and ready.
9 January 2017 - 6:42pm
I rolled my yoga mat out for the first time in a long time. It felt as if a horrible blessing. Horrible at the fact that I went this long without practicing, and then horrible for judging myself for going this long without practicing.
Deep Breath: Feeling the stiffness in my hamstrings, upper back, and facial muscles.
What a blessing, to feel sensation. I have arrived again. I am back. I remember, I am human experiencing the now, now, now, now… now.
2016 was a year of growth. This time last year I was in the dance company of my dreams called FALL, a Nashville, Tennessee based dance company that used aerial silks, modern dance, contemporary dance, and ballet to portray a specific thematic concept. We performed repertoire about three times a year for a specific show. We performed monthly for art crawls, festivals, or local events. This gig was perfect, only I was too clouded to see the paradise right in front of me.
I was living in a quaint two-bedroom apartment right outside of Nashville with my best friend at the time, but still mourning the loss of my relationship to this wonderful human whom I thought was my everything, all while serving at a restaurant that I hated.
I was letting my hatred and sadness infiltrate my life. I was over-critical towards myself in dance classes and rehearsals to the point where I was not even enjoying dancing anymore. Dancing became a task rather than my life-breathing passion.
I had to quit everything. My lease was over at the end of January. I was not going to stay in the apartment that reminded me of a lost love. Everything in the city reminded me of the lost love. I can't focus.
Off to Florida I go. After living on my own, I go back to my parents' house in Jupiter, Florida. I need love. Since I don't know how to love myself, I need my parents to do it for me. I feel like a failure. Here I am, a college graduate with anxiety and depression so bad that I have to crawl back to my parents house. For a few weeks, I reject doing anything productive at all. I'm just floating around, tagging along with my parents, and resisting my emotions or feeling anything at all. I distract myself by hanging out with this guy I met on a yacht, and later working on the yacht with my newfound boyfriend.
On a whim, I apply for a yoga teacher training program. I've been practicing yoga since the fifth grade with my mom. I'd rather teach yoga than go back to serving tables. I apply, I get in. I am forced wake up and stop acting out of autopilot. I'm faced with all the things that I have been avoiding. It's like I am standing in front of a mirror. Instead of seeing my actual reflection, I was seeing what I wanted to see through an imaginary filter. I was a constant victim, not taking responsibility for my actions, feelings, education, or emotions. The blame was always on someone other than myself. Now, I am seeing the real, authentic, painful events and situations that I have pushed to the back of my subconscious. I am open, raw, uncomfortable, and aware. It is all me. All of my samskaras are being revealed to me. My lost love was my fault and I accept that.
I am forced to look at myself with compassion and growth, something that I don't think I ever have done until now. Kula Yoga Shala taught me how to love myself and take responsibility for my own life. The four months of yoga teacher training were the hardest four months of my life. So many mental shifts. I am ready. I am ready to live my light.
After ytt I have the courage to move out with the money I saved from working on the yacht. I have the courage to move to Colorado.
I arrive. I am again forced into a new way of life. I am intimidated by the immense yoga community out here. There is so much yoga. How can I even compare to all of these yogis that have traveled, been to india multiple times, studied under profound gurus, and teach daily classes? Yes, I have practiced for over ten years, I have read the ancient texts, I have this gift of connecting authentically with people, but I am completely crippled by fear and anxiety of not being good enough.
I advert from going for it and getting my hands dirty. I apply for serving jobs again. I party. I learn to snowboard. I distract myself from my dream, because it's too hard and scary. Don't get me wrong, I love seeing all of this live music and art. Exploring the mountains, seeing new territory, learning a new sport are all things that bring me great happiness. Fully aware that I am distracting myself, I keep partying and exploring.
I'm not exactly sure how it happens, but i feel a shift. A yearning for something deeper. My dream is pulling at my heart strings. I can pursue my dream and have fun at the same time. Life is deep. It is possible to have it all. I just have to go for it. So here it is. Here is the new year. I am ready to dive in, to experience the life that I know is there, waiting for me.
I say it is hard to pursue a dream. I feel it is harder not to pursue the dream. It's 2017. 2016 was a year of immense growth. I am still a server. I am taking dance classes again, now without the harsh judgement. I am re-introduced to my yoga practice. I am still partying. I am still exploring. I am still learning. This go around, I am fully aware of my paradise, this luscious life that I have the privilege of experiencing.
There is a burning, fiery sensation in my chest. My heart is on fire to live yoga. I am here, in front of my dusty yoga mat, accepting the dirt, grime, fear, and anxiety that I feel fully. I am bringing all of these things with me to my practice, because they are real, authentic emotions. I embrace these emotions with love, knowing that they make me who I am. I breathe oxygen into my body. I breathe oxygen into my samskaras. I breathe oxygen into my mental blocks. I breathe oxygen into the process. I breathe.
I will succeed. I will fail. I will grow. I will succeed.
In a product driven society, we are constantly looking for the end result. We are often dissatisfied with the present situation; not realizing that this too is all part of the process.
This past weekend, 26-28 August 2016, was my first teaching experience held over a weekend rather than just an hour. The duration of a weekend vs. and hour is tremendous. You are in it, and you have to stay in it.
The location is about 3 hours from Boulder, Colorado. 31-Mile Ranch, located in Guffey, Colorado is literally in the middle of nowhere. My GPS is freaking out, I have no service, my car speedometer is going out, I am nervous about my first weekend gig, my anxiety is creeping in.
I am going by myself, to the middle of nowhere, to meet people I have only talked on the phone to. I am a single, young woman going camping by myself. I have a pack, a tent, trail shoes, a sleeping bag, and food. I'm ready and its going to be okay..
26 AUGUST 2016
I finally find the place and it is going on 10pm. I arrive and what do you know, there is another solo female putting up her tent! Immediate friends, we camp together. Independent women, going on business adventures.
I knew this business adventure was promoting responsible use of cannibis out in nature. I love nature, I love yoga, and I have smoked before. I figured there would be a little pot involved but..
Anything that you can imagine, it was there. Dabs, edibles, CBD oil, the highest quality flower, hash. Cannabis was in everything: food, liquid, wax, oil. The glass, quartz, titanium pieces were of all shapes and sizes. All of them were incredibly beautiful.
They offer me a dab, which I had never tried before. I just moved to legal Colorado from the south east where anything cannabis is very illegal. They set it up for me. I am holding a glass and quartz pig. They heat up the quartz piece with a blow torch, let it sit, and then use a magic want to dip the wax and dab it in. I inhale..
Instantly, I am so high. We explore the property, talk around the campfire, gaze at the stars. All is well and I drift to my tent and pass out.
27 August 2016
I wake up, immediately they offer me a dab, I take it, they offer me another dab, I take it. They offer me an edible, I take it. Another dab, I take it. I take all responsibility for how fucked I was. I should have known that I am not some super woman hella smoker. I am a smaller female that works out all of the time, who hardly ever uses any kind of substance. Too much sugar or caffeine, my body system freaks out. I should have listened to my body, I know my body. I got so caught up in the moment, forgetting that I was with cannabis professionals, who's body systems are used to this.
Before I know it, it is 1:00pm, and I am sitting at a table, dehydrated, and wayyyy tooo fucked up. I have to teach yoga at 5:00pm! WHAT. THE. FUCK. AM I GOING TO DO?! My eyes are heavy. I am getting tunnel vision. Everything turns red. I wake up probably 10 minutes later, realize how serious this is and float to my tent. I am questioning myself, asking myself why the fuck did I do that? Pissed off, freaking out, and anxious, I lay down and luckily my camelbak mouthpiece is right by my face. I sip water, just laying there, and fall asleep for three hours. I wake up, feeling better than I was, but still immensely high.
When I am uncomfortable, I clam up and keep to myself, so no one even realizes that anything is wrong. I just tell them that I am tired and had to take a nap. Little do they know that my entire existence is melting red.
My yoga class is on communication and creativity, lol. The throat chakra... Why does this keep happening?
I meditate on these thematic concepts, intensely practice them in my daily life, and then on the day to teach, I totally bomb my own theme. . . I didn't listen to my body, I didn't communicate how I was feeling. I felt like shit, but I still want to teach.. I want people to connect, be in their bodies, and interact with others.
How can I take the attention off of how I am feeling and give them a worthwhile experience collectively?
The moon is rising, we are practicing Moon Salutation. My man, Johnny Blue is playing loud and clear. People are smoking in Goddess Pose. This is magical. I realize that we are all in this together.
It is okay. I am okay.
We practice weight sharing, partner balancing, and rolling points of contact. People are laughing. Mid balance, a dude throws a joint to another dude, dude catches it. Everyone cheers. Its rad. Shavasana is long and the vibe is chill.
I know that people enjoyed moving their bodies but I am still over-analytical because I know I wasn't 100%. I metaphorically wash my hands of the situation and change out of my yoga clothes.
I attend a group discussion on the benefits of CBD oil. CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of about 60 compounds found in cannibis that belong to a class of molecules called cannabinoids. The results are endless. CBD is non-psychoactive, unlike THC, CBD does not get you high. CBD prevents nausea and suppresses seizures. CBD also combats inflammation, cancer cells, anxiety, and depression.
CBD actually represses the negative effects of THC, which I had clearly experienced earlier in the day.
After this discussion, I give CBD a try. I only take 10mg. In about half an hour, I feel myself gradually coming down and my anxiety dissipating.
Relief!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!
I start to feel like myself again, naturally social and wanting to connect with others rather than hiding in my tent. I tell @InfiniteCBD how thankful I am. He gives me a whole canister of capsules for free.
What an experience.
I learned about myself. I learned that:
1) No matter the circumstance, do you.
2) My body likes to be natural
3) No matter the circumstance, do you.
The remainder of the night was a blast. I was cured of my red melt. I made so many friends. I went on a night hike, saw a snake, heard owls, heard coyotes, sat around a fire talking, connecting, laughing with like minded people until about 4am.
I made up my mind that tomorrow will be great.
28 August 2016
I wake up to a drizzly, cool Sunday morning. The wind is fresh and crisp. I hear the chatter of people packing up their tents, getting ready for the day, eating breakfast, waking and baking, hanging out by the morning fire. I make an announcement that morning yoga will begin with a brief meditation. Anyone that wants to come to meditation does not have to stay for the asana flow.
I head down to a little spot where the grass is muddy, the mountains are vivid, and the stream is singing behind me. I lay out my yoga mat, close my eyes, and then open them again.. seeing all the beauty that my mind chatter made me overlook yesterday. I am about to teach YOGA out here!! I am completely sober, I feel amazing, I am captivated by gratitude. I close my eyes once again. Inhale the love I feel for myself and all of the CannaCrew. I exhale out the experience of yesterday. I inhale the good vibrations that today has to offer. I exhale and let go of any expectation I have for this class. I hear people approaching. I stay in my pre-class meditation, holding space for others to find their own breath.
10:00 AM arrives. I see the beautiful open minds that have decided to begin their day with mindful heart-opening, loving-kindness meditation. Only the sounds of the day are present: the trickling water, insects, birds, and nearby pasture of cows. Some people leave after the meditation, getting what they needed, and part ways with peace. The remaining cluster stays for warm sun salutations via a morning vinyasa practice. By the end of our practice, the sun is peeping out from the clouds and falling on our skin. We summoned the sun with our love vibrations and heart openings. (:
This class, organic in entirety, made my entire being so happy. By far to this day, my favorite class that I have ever taught. Out in nature, mentally prepared, with loving and supportive people. I'll never forget this experience. I learned. I lived. The day was concluded by cliff diving, a bear sighting, and a final meal together in Guffey, Colorado. These people, their knowledge, their openness, their vibes.. are forever treasured!
The overall process of this entire adventure was such a wave of inspiration for growth in my teaching. I am overjoyed that I have the opportunity to share my process. The awesome thing is that we ALL have the opportunity to share our process, share our gift, share who we really are.. if we just allow ourselves to.
Yes, this experience was heavy, light, scary, and joyful; but I learned. Failure is only failure when you aren't aware of the growth process. There are little treasures sprinkled within every single situation. Breathe. Feel. Allow. Create Space. Experience. Learn. Flourish. We are all alive process beings, so embrace it and be alive.
As always, we ALL are : AHIMSABYNATURE.
Thank you to all the awesome photographers for capturing this event!
So okay, I did it. I graduated college, I graduated yoga teacher training. Now I'm here. I made it to the dream location of Boulder, Colorado. What now you ask?
13 August 2016:
I wake up early, walk out my back door to sit on my back porch. I begin to listen to the birds, gaze upon the flat irons, close my eyes to meditate, and then crazy Joe (the neighbor) begins yelling.. Are you serious? I think to myself that this yelling will seize shortly. The longer I sit, the louder he gets.
I am going to go on a bike ride. I put air in my tires, find my helmet, grab my lock, put on my cycling shoes, fill up my water, and I am out the door. I proceed up Table Mesa (keep in mind that I am new to the area and altitude still kills me). This bike ride is insane! Will I even make it up the hill? Cyclists are blowing by me in what seems to be a single file line, just one after another. I am loosing hope here.
I pull over as some dude rides past me and tells me that I am almost there. I am breathing hard, sweat is dripping down my back, I am discouraged. I start walking down a little path with my bike and cycling shoes in hand. Luckily I always keep extra shoes in my backpack.
I lock my bike up to a fence and begin to hike up a little hill named Skunk Trail. As I hike, I notice that I am not as out of breath as the first time I hiked in Colorado. I keep going up and I notice..
Wow, I have not been very nice to myself today.
You would think that sitting out on a porch, riding a bike, and hiking would be relaxing. Due to my mind chatter, these activities were actually causing stress rather than eliminate it. I keep hiking. As I get to the top I feel small. Looking at the city of Boulder, I find my house, I find the dance studio, I find the yoga studio, and I am grateful. Here I am. I am living in the mountains. I have a place to do yoga. I have a place to dance. I have a place to rest my head at night. I am so lucky.
I come across a beautiful tree. If any of you know me, then you know how obsessed I am with trees. This tree is thick and healthy. The root system is vast. The leaves are blowing in the mountain breeze, green in luster.
I stop in my tracks, look around to find nobody. I begin Sun Salutation A. I Inhale my arms up the sky. I exhale with a flat back to foreword fold. Inhale, rise to flat back. Exhale into plank position down to chaturanga dandasana. Inhale to up-dog, urdva mukha shvanasana. I see the sky. I notice the fluffy, cotton candy clouds. Exhale hips up and back into downward-facing dog, adho mukha shvanasana. Upsideown and in between my legs, I see the sky and the mountains. It looks like the mountains are dipping into the sky. During my five breaths here in down-dog, I am still feeling grateful.
I love myself enough to go for it, to chase my dreams.
Letting go of how hard I was on myself earlier this morning, I accept love. Ahimsa. I am practicing ahimsa in this very moment. I surrender to the newness of not being enough, and not ready, and I accept that I am here, on the path, and things will eventually happen. Non-violence to myself.
I begin to think of how awesome it would be to have my friends with me. I could teach a bomb yoga class on this high I'm feeling right now. I am out in nature, practicing ahimsa & BOOM!!!
AHIMSA BY NATURE
I want people to gather outside. I want my fellow humans to connect with themselves, nature and each other. Let's embrace our struggle. We all have one. Let's acknowledge that everyone experiences strife, abandonment, trials, loneliness, hell. We also experience happiness, glee, euphoria, bliss. This, my friend, is life. We are all doing it together. So let's move our bodies in recognition of that process. Let's process information like a computer. Let's process our shit going through the 5 koshas. Don't know what that is? Come find out! Welcome all!! Welcome to you.
You are Ahimsa by Nature.