walk softly

Pain

Our bodies are miraculous and beautiful transformative vessels that house all of the wondrous aspects of our being, all of which enable us to perceive and experience this magnificent thing we call life. When our bodies are healthy and experiencing comfort and ease it is common for one to take the vitality of their radiance for granted. It is when the body becomes injured or suffers in ill health that one may for the first time in their life begin to think of what it might feel like to be healthy, vital, and radiant under their skin. Many people spend their lives in discomfort and chronic pain. I know from personal experience that chronic pain in the body can lead to a degradation of life on every level. Serious injury many years ago continues to be the source of chronic pain in my every day experience. In the beginning, after the initial injury I focused so determinately on living a normal life that I compartmentalized my pain. I told myself that if I gave it no power, it would have no power over me. This worked for many years until it didn’t work anymore. Over the last three years I have experienced more pain than I ever imagined possible, which when I think of my life experiences and the pain I have endured surprises me, especially in contrast to the original pain of the injury which was so excruciating I find it impossible to describe in words. The memory of that initial pain is almost nothing in contrast to the sensation of sustained chronic pain which brings with it many other variants of pain, and it is the compounded pain that becomes almost unbearable for me sometimes and truly unbearable for others leading to many unwanted outcomes of a life that could have been otherwise. The degradation of ones life can vary from the way one perceives oneself and the rolls one plays in all relationships they are having in their life, to intense emotional discomforts of releasing old identities of self and embracing or trying to embrace new concepts of self that are easily perceived by oneself as forever impaired, unhealthy, and different, disabled, or a burden. For myself, as the chronic pain steadily increased, my identity with strength dissolved, my perception of my ability to be a contributing member of society with ease dissolved, as well as my perception of my ability to be a contributing member of my family and an example of steadfast positivity and strength to those who were in the throws of life changing events. All of these perceptions of myself I had previously held to with an unwavering confidence and honor. Despite my belief that if I did not let the pain have power over me it would have no power, the truth was that I had not processed the pain in a healthy way, and by ignoring it I was refusing to give the source of the pain a respect which in turn would enable me to create a lifestyle that could embrace my authentic nature rather than run from it. The ignorance and lack of respect for the source of my pain precluded a course of decisions that inevitably led to an acute experience of chronic pain.

Through my journey of the last three years I have been demanded of my body to deal with my pain from a new vantage point. Responding to this demand I have allowed myself to perceive the source of my pain from a perspective that permits me to be free from who I think I should be, liberating me to be who I am. For me to experience less pain less of the time I have to actively pursue more rest, less physically taxing work, more yoga, more bodywork, more rest, good food, more rest, less cold weather, and of course, more rest. Truth is, I have in my life sustained a very real and very severe injury, and I walk around in this world every day with titanium reinforcing my spine. I am fortunate to have a very mobile and strong body even though I experience pain most of the time. The mobility and strength of my body can easily fool anyone, including myself, into thinking it is in perfect health, and it is, in fact, in perfect health, for a body which has been severely compromised and is now reinforced.

As I stated earlier, many people in this world walk around in chronic pain. Some of us know the source of our pain and choose to ignore it and others have ignored so much of themselves for so long that they are not even sure what the source of their pain is. The body, miraculous vessel that it is, is incredibly linked to all aspects of our being, from our mind and our emotions to our sensate body and our soul or light body. Sometimes the only way for any aspect of our being to communicate with our oftentimes stubborn and conditioned minds that something is out of alignment with our authentic nature is through pain and illness. The more we get to know ourselves, the more permission we give ourselves to be who we are in the presence of all else that is, the more opportunity we have to feel better more often.

It has been through the continued dedicated practice of yoga that I have had the great opportunity to unwrap the layers I call myself and daily get to know myself better. Through the dedicated practice on my mat as well as my devotion to the continued remembrance of the spaciousness of my spirit and the unconditional love that is ever-present in all things, I sometimes sweetly, and sometimes with great frustration, tears, and pain, discover the truth of who I am. A common thought in the practice of yoga is that it is necessary to eliminate ones ego. However, it is in aligning to the true self that enables integration of ones ego to support authentic behavior in ones life. When the ego is demanding we live up to the standards that others set for us, standards that lead us to ignore our truths, it is then that the ego needs to be addressed.

Pain, not only physical, but mental, and emotional as well, when seen as our higher-self communicating with us is a beautiful gift. Especially, if we choose to unwrap it in such a way that it enables us to embrace our own truths and authentic luminescent unique ways of being. As humans we have much in common yet we are all unique. It is our unique diversity that demands we each uncondition the beliefs we have of who we are supposed to be and embrace who we are, this is true acceptance and unconditional love.

Perhaps, like me, you too may experience a type of pain that may never truly dissipate. I hope this is not the case, if it is however, it is my wish that you may continue to discover many satisfying ways to manage it. In my experience I find that the most profound and beautiful way to manage my pain is with tender love and gentle acceptance of what it is and where it is sourced.

From a foundation of loving kindness it becomes far more easy to manage ones pain, to facilitate a lifestyle that enhances the quality of ones life, and to make choices that continue to value and accept oneself no matter the appearance of and feeling of ones outer package, which is in essence the miraculous body that houses ones beautiful heart and soul. Truly, fundamentally, to be alive is the greatest gift, and even some of the most tortured and ill bodies have housed the most happy and joyful human spirits of all time to set an example for those of us who might get caught up on the surface of things.

If you are breathing today you are loved and you are blessed.

If you are in great pain I encourage you to remember, this experience like all things will change, and you have the opportunity to perceive it however you choose. I encourage you to model your choice after Peter Pan, thinking happy thoughts, and asking for help finding your shadow if you need it.

With Love, In All Ways, Always For Giving, In Joy, Genevieve

Perseverance

It's fathers day.  I have to admit I am not one for the rituals of these sorts of holidays yet this morning I did find myself pondering what it means to me to have a dad and what it is that I find value in celebrating with relationship to what I have learned from him.  To truly share the whole story would fill a book as the story of my life is not only intrinsically connected to the story of my father but to his father and his fathers father and so forth until the beginning of time.  When I think of my father I cannot help but to think of his father whom I was very close to, and all day my thoughts have been with both of these men who added great value to my life.Yesterday I spent the afternoon in the cool and dark walls of the Metta Theatre where I have been taking a once monthly acting workshop with some lovely and talented actors as well as a fantastic teacher who is doing as all good teachers do, and is asking great questions that push me beyond my comfort zone and into an opportunity to find more skillfulness in my actions as well as know my weaknesses and strengths as an actor acting for film. Acting, like yoga, is a spiritual practice, a request to be in the flow with present moment awareness and what is happening in the now. Like yoga, there are places that are comfortable and easy, and places where all the voices of my inner world scream stop, leave, run while you can. Over the course of my life I have done a reasonable amount of acting and mostly I have felt good about it. I have for much of my life held onto the dream of one day doing it for a living. The thing about that dream is that it's a scary one, one that holds a lot of contention in my mind as being unsafe and unstable, as well as bringing up much fear around am I good enough? Am I good enough has been a question I have asked myself too many times in my life. I like to think I am not alone in the experience of self-doubt and that the feeling of insecurity is something that I share with all other beautiful seeking people of this world. Thinking of the experience as a shared one brings me comfort and helps me to walk through this life with less feelings of shame. Within the framework of my self-doubt rather than continue to treat myself like a failure as I have for the last ten years and never try, I have felt the room in my courageous heart and have made a choice of confident curious willingness in my mind to jump the hurdle of fear and go to this class. In class I have been working on a role that is not within my comfort zones as an actor and I am being invited to do more than what comes easy to me. There is a funny catch 22 to what I am learning about film acting. The work is in not working. The gem, the gold, is in the expression of the real experience, not a state of just acting it out. My efforts yesterday were good, however, afterward I felt like a failure and in the wake of feeling like a failure I felt devastated. The devastation I felt I had not experienced in many years. Again the question of the dream and the value of the dream and the quality of my ability to successfully accomplish the dream came to the forefront of my awareness, and not only left me wondering, but left me flattened in a state of self-pity and self-doubt. Despite my desires to see the experience objectively I could not help but spend a period of time in tears. Luckily for me, I have a wonderful marriage to a wonderful man, Mr. Oswald, who is rational and steady and he provided a listening ear for me to tell my tails of woe to. As I talked it out, which is great medicine for feeling bad about yourself because you hear how silly and mean you may sound, what I found to be more upsetting that the self-doubt, was the challenge I was having with the stage most people call learning. In the wake of my silly childlike self-pity was a realization that I had just fallen down and I had an opportunity to pick myself up, dust myself off, and tell myself to get back on the bike. When I was five my dad got me my first bicycle. At the time we were living with my grandparents in Minnesota and I clearly remember the day that he and G-pa assembled its pieces. It wasn't long before my sister and I insisted the training wheels come off. Within minutes of my training wheels coming off I was out of control headed down hill and lacking the required knowledge of the use of the skills to stop. I hit a curb, went over the handlebars and tore up my face. I left the bike at the end of the cul-de-sac and ran home crying and crying in terrible shock and pain. Dad cleaned up my face, and hugged and loved me up. I said I would never ride my bike again. Dad insisted I would before putting the training wheels back onto the bike. It was over a year before I was ready to take them off again. I remember the spring day in Taos when they did, finally, at long last, come off for good. The lilacs were blooming and dad, Angelica, and I went and got donuts at Micheal's Kitchen, it was a good ride. That was my first lesson in perseverance. Then when I was fourteen, I decided that playing on the first ever Taos High School Girls Soccer Team was the best idea ever. About three weeks into practice I was having a miserable time, though in theory the idea was good, in reality I didn't have the necessary skills to play like the bad ass I thought I was. Not only did I not have the skills, I perceived the coach as not very nice to me, and I was having a hard time learning the dexterity it took to play the sport well. One night I came home from practice and cried and cried to my dad, "I want to quit!" I remember telling him within a cloud of self-pity. He calmly responded "Don't quit, you won't get anything out of it if you quit. Besides it will feel really good to get really good and then if you still don't like your coach, and you don't want to play, quit." That night we started an evening ritual of passing the ball in the street. By the end of my second season on the team, I had actually become a descent player. The team went to state that year and I scored the only two goals of that adventure, one of which was a header, that one I am still really proud of. Within months I was thrown through the windshield of a truck at sixty miles per hour and the first thing I asked when I came to on the side of the road in excruciating pain because of my severely broken back was "Will I ever play soccer again?" No one answered. Perseverance is continuing no matter what adversity you face, and as I layed in that hospital bed with the wordless prognosis I refused to believe I would not walk again. Ten days later I was released from the hospital and demanded they let me out of my wheelchair so I could walk out the front door. I did walk through that door with my dad supporting me, and I walked all the way to the car about forty paces away with perseverance, willfulness, and pride. That first season of soccer after the accident was a definite no as it took three months for dad and I to walk the few short blocks up to the plaza. Dad walked with me every day, and by the next season I was much better. The doctors told me I could play that season though they did not recommend such an activity as there was a potential to re-injure or injure above my spinal fusion. Being the willful and persistent girl I am, no wasn't an answer I was excited to hear, so I went to practice one beautiful fall afternoon. I kicked the ball farther that afternoon than I ever had kicked it before, I'll never forget it. I kicked the ball so far the coach was nicer than he had ever been. As I walked away from practice that night in the sunset in discomfort and pain from the running as well as the knowing my soccer career was over, I also knew my dad was right when he said it would feel better to quit when I had gotten something out of it for myself than it would have way back before, when I was just in a state of self-pity. This morning, after what I like to call "having a big girl talk with myself" last night, I felt over my self-doubt and self-pity, and was back in alignment with my attitude of a willingness to persevere no matter the outcome, I thought of my dad and the valuable things I have learned from him that I wanted to celebrate today. Weather its getting back on the bike, sticking with the soccer team, getting up and walking again, or perusing life-long scary dreams, perseverance is getting up, dusting yourself off, and taking another crack at it, especially when all odds are against you. Because that's when you gain, that's when you get to know what you are made of, and as far as I have experienced in this life, that's where the satisfaction in the feeling of success and accomplishment resides. Thanks dad, dad's dad, dad's dad's dad, Mr. Oswald, Mr. Oswald's dad, and all the men who persevered so I could "stand up on my own two feet" as dad likes to say, with "my shoulders back" as G-pa used to say, proud of who I am, persevering with my courageous heart, willing mind, tenacious spirit, and capable body, free to be me. Happy Sunday, Happy Fathers Day, May you always persevere in the face of adversity and continue to follow you hearts desire. With Love, All Ways, For Giving, Genevieve

10 Reasons to Walk Softly

  1. Build a strong foundation. (Ahimsa) Cultivate beginners mind, go somewhere new, study with new teachers and new classmates, practice nonviolence with your self.
  2. Open your heart to our shared potential. (Satya)  The truth is, that truth is always changing. Honor your truth, take time for your self, know what is important to you, serve the highest.
  3. Be generous with your Self and others.  (Asteya) Learn ways to integrate your yoga practice with the world around you. Cultivate more skillfulness and mindfulness in the balanced use and renewal of energy.
  4. Reinforce your Integrity. (Brahmacharya) Nature does not know right or wrong, nature only knows balance and imbalance.  Explore and relish in the nature of all aspects of yourself, and over the course of the retreat, integrate your being into a more cohesive whole.
  5. Giving it all away. (Aparigraha) Cultivate a well of generosity from which your motivations arise.  Allow yourself freedom from an attachment to the results of your work.  Learn to do, and do well, for the joy of doing.
  6. Clear pathways. (Saucha)  Detox physically with Asana, and mentally with meditation, to provide for yourself purity of mind, body and spirit.
  7. Be With What Is.  (Santosa) Relax and de-stress during the day, and enjoy peaceful tranquility and ease at night while sleeping on the sacred grounds of the Mabel Dodge Lujan house, tucked sweetly beneath Taos Mountain.
  8. Know your capacity to be more, do more, get out, collaborate and create!  (Tapas) Deepen your yoga practice, and replace old habits.  Through intentionally placing yourself in the position to learn, you will adopt new ways of being: on the mat, in relationship, and in the world.
  9. Self-study leads to self-love. (Svadyaya)  Return home feeling capable and self empowered to meet life willingly, openly, as yourself, no matter how it appears in front of you.
  10. Freedom from the stress.  (Ishvara Pranidhana) Show up, experience the delight of embodiment, the spaciousness of spirit, the acrobatic skillfulness of the mind…leave renewed, refreshed, and reinforced using a system that has worked for thousands of years.

Join experienced and registered yoga teachers Suki Dalury and Genevieve Oswald for a beautiful journey into the Yamas (precepts for being with community) and the Niyamas (precepts for being with self.  Apply the ancient secrets of yoga and invite the future with internal power and open arms.  Lecture, creative workshoping with visual art and written word combine with the sacred practices of asana, pranayama, and meditation to align with your most alive and vibrant self. Awaken awareness and lay the groundwork for a lifetime of well-being in your body, and in the world.  Yoga Alliance CEU’s available.

Walk Softly: Yoga and Our Future Yoga Retreat at Mabel Dodge Lujan House in Taos New Mexico Nov. 14-19, 2013.  Check out www.shreeyogataos.com for more details, and http://mabeldodgeluhan.com for information regarding the beautiful grounds and accommodations.  The Mabel Dodge Luhan House is one of the most quintessential Taos places. Rooms must be booked on or before October 7, 2013.  Board includes breakfast and lunch. Single and Double room occupancy available.  $1425.00-$1725.00  For those wishing to attend the retreat and not lodge at the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, the cost is $800.00.

Please call or email Shree Yoga Taos to register.

shreeyogataos@gmail.com

575-758-8014