Practice Peace

I’m never quite sure what to do with the emotion that rises after these violent attacks on innocent people. I don’t know how to help or how to grieve or how to return to normal life without feeling guilty for still having a normal life.

Another senseless act of violence. Another set of emotions. Another set of fear. Another set of grief for those affected.

Another reminder to love.

To love the people that are easy to love and also those who aren’t.

And most importantly, a reminder to love the person who’s the hardest to love.

You.

There is very little I can do to stop the violent attacks that are happening in the world, but what about the violent attacks that are happening close to home—the violent attacks that are happening in your own body, expressed through your own thoughts and your own behaviors? I’d like to think that I’m not violent toward myself, but when I look closely at the dialogue I choose or the way I react to behaviors that don’t suit me, sometimes it can look like a war-zone. I’m not sure that I can go around wishing for world peace, when there isn’t peace right here, within myself.

There isn’t much I can do to prevent violent attacks on innocent people, but there is a lot I can do to stop the violent attacks that are happening within myself.

To allow diversity. Different emotions. Different thoughts. Different moods. Different behaviors. And to accept each one as unique and special and exquisitely beautiful as it builds a colorful array of variation and rich culture within myself.

To accept. The light, the dark, the deep, the shallow. To accept these varying aspects of myself, and recognize that even the things that seem imperfect lend themselves to cast perfect shadows in order to allow the light parts to shine even brighter.

To release. Release anger, release fear, release hurt, release resentment. And not just to release it, but to transform it into something that will enrich my life. To learn from these things; to alchemize my emotions into something beautiful: from sorrow to compassion; anger to activism; envy to inspiration; and fear to love.

To love. Not just to love the parts that are easy, but to love the parts that aren’t easy. The parts that scare me, trouble me, annoy, or irritate me. There is something there, beneath them, and the only way to find the gift is to love through the shadow that engulfs it.

To learn. And if, despite my best efforts, an attack still occurs, I’ll learn from it. How did it happen? What led to it? Where was I not paying attention? When did I stop listening? How can I get in front of the assault; in front of the build up; in front of the mindless cruelty toward myself?

Practice peace. Peace isn’t a onetime deal. Self-love isn’t graduation. Acceptance doesn’t show up and then stay without being entertained. It’s ongoing. It’s practice. It’s patience. It’s trying again and again and again.

World peace starts with inner peace.

Will you try?

Maggie-Lochtenberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo: Maggie Lochtenberg

That’s Okay, Too

I must have been a bear in a past life, because the moment the days get shorter, the nights get longer, and the cool autumn breeze drops just a tad below comfortable, hibernation sounds pretty good to me…all I want to do is retreat, go inside, and drink hot tea until the snow melts…

I write a lot about creating on this blog—putting yourself out there, overcoming obstacles, believing in yourself—you know, manifesting.

But what if you can’t bring yourself to change out of your sweatpants, let alone change the world?

Well, that’s okay, too.

Because sometimes the very best thing you can do for yourself (and for the rest of the world, for that matter) is to retreat, go inside, and maybe just stay in bed.

Stay inside, literally and figuratively, if you can.

If you’re tired, let yourself rest.
If you’re quiet, invite silence.
If you’re feeling like you’d like to dismiss yourself from life for a little while…then do that, even if all you can spare is a few minutes to yourself.

Because when you honor yourself and the way you feel, you align yourself with the big picture—the one that’s so big, you can’t see it all with one glance.

…Maybe you need this time because something big is just around the corner, and somewhere deep inside yourself, you know you need this time to rest up for what’s to come…
…Maybe you need this time because you’re still healing from something from the past, or something beneath the surface and it takes a lot of energy to heal an old wound…
…Maybe you need this time because you’re run down, worn out, or just plain exhausted…
…Maybe you need this time for some unknown reason, and you’ll never know why you feel the way you feel…

Honor it anyway.

When you learn to listen, and then follow through, you’re developing a trusting relationship with yourself. And with that, you’ll begin to feel safe within yourself; and you’ll know that you’re being cared for and nurtured by the person who knows you the best—you. And the other thing that’s great about developing a trusting relationship with yourself is that you’ll have an easier time trusting others, and trusting life in general.

So the next time you catch yourself resisting the way you feel, practice compassion. Don’t reach for reasons or excuses, or stumble over apologies…just let yourself be the way you are. Because the way you are, is better than okay. The way you are right now, is right on time, every time, no matter what.

Now, before you give yourself permission to hunker down with Netflix for the next 3-4 months, there is one caveat to spending quality time with your solitude: Don’t let it become who you are. Don’t let it last so long that it becomes your new identity. Never forget that the shadow days are fleeting; they come and they go; so don’t forget to let them go.

You’ll know it’s time to let your shadow days go when the feeling becomes too heavy or suffocating. You’ll know it’s too much when it feels like your quiet mood has a hold on you, rather than the other way around. Remember, that ultimately, you own the way you feel, and sometimes you might need to take action to usher those feeling through. So honor the way you feel, but if the feeling isn’t serving you anymore, you need to take charge of the situation—shake it off, get outside, force yourself to do something, anything...because winter isn’t supposed to last forever, and neither are those shadow days.

But if you’re listening, feeling, honoring what’s there, but also taking action when necessary, then by all means, get quiet, brew up some tea, and stay inside…and if your winter wardrobe consists of a steady rotation of sweatpants…

Well, that’s okay, too.

okaytoo

Maybe You Were Meant To Fall

“Please don’t let me fall. Please don’t let me fall. Please don’t let me fall….”

These are the words that go through my mind whenever I go rock climbing. Yes, I’m secured to a rope. Yes, I have a trustworthy belay partner who would catch me in his arms if he had to. Yes, I’ve done this. Yes, I can do this….Yet, when I’m clinging to the side of a cliff; muscles shaking, fingers aching, and tiny footholds holding the weight of my body, all I can think is…

“Dear God, Please. Don’t let me fall.’

Time after time, climb after climb, this mantra played in my head, until one day, I fell.

And guess what?

It was the very best thing that could have happened to me.

You know why?

Because then I could stop worrying (so much) about falling and focus on the climb.

Now here’s the lesson in this story:

You’re going to fall.
You’re going to fail.
You’re going to have to start all over…

Probably again and again and again.

And I think it’s important for you to know that falling, failing, and starting over is okay.

It’s better than okay.
It’s necessary.
It’s part of growth and expansion and witnessing the miracle of you expanding into YOU.
It’s about glorious evolution: Rise. Fall. Rise again. Bigger, Better, Stronger, Faster….

And here’s another scenario that’s happened to me, too many times to count:

I tune in. I do the work. I trust my heart. I trust my gut. I listen to my intuition like it’s my job. I meditate like a monk, pray like a priest, and do updogs and downdogs like my life depends on it. I step up; show up; and take action….I’m brave, goddamnit….

And you know what happens?

Sometimes, in spite of all my honest efforts, I still fall.

Do I like it?

Nope.

Do I recover?

Eventually.

Do I try again?

Usually.

Do I learn something?

Every.Single.Time.

I learn about listening. I learn about trying. I learn about falling gracefully. I learn about desire vs. want vs. need….but mostly, what I learn is that what I think I want is not always in line with what this life wants for me.

Because no matter how in touch you are; how in tune you are; or how anchored you are to the truth of who you are…sometimes you just don’t know what life has planned for you.

And sometimes you’re not meant to know.

Maybe you were meant to fall.
Maybe you were meant to fail.
Maybe you were meant start all over again and again and again…

You know why?

Because it makes you stronger.
It makes you wiser.
It carves out your courage like a motherf*cker.
It makes you more compassionate; understanding, and honest with yourself and others.
It helps you recognize what you are capable of; really capable of.

And it helps you remember that you don’t have to run the show, because you are being held and supported in the most loving way….

Every time you fall; you will be caught.
Every time you fail; you’ll be redeemed.
Every time you start over, the new beginning will be sweeter than anything you could have ever imagined at the onset.

So the next time you’re out climbing on the proverbial path of life; remember:

Sometimes you are meant to fall.

If only, to remind you,
you’ve been held all along.

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You Are Everything

One of the most unexpected benefits of being a yoga teacher is that, over the past ten years of observing my students—observing their movement as they expand, contract, close, open, stretch and strengthen—I have fallen completely in love with the human body. And not just the physical form, but everything it contains—the beauty within—the emotional, mental and spiritual aspects as they are reflected in physical form.

It doesn’t matter how it moves or how it doesn’t move; it doesn’t matter if it is young or old; graceful or awkward; strong or weak; tight or open. It doesn’t matter what it can or cannot do, or how it compares to societal standards.

It is all perfection to me.

Last summer, I had the amazing opportunity to backpack into a secluded high mountain lake and have nothing else to do for an entire afternoon, except stare at that lake.

It was absolutely mesmerizing.

As I watched, the reflection danced between perfect clarity and distorted images; the water rippled and stilled; ebbed and flowed; and the colors in the sky mingled with shadows and light that displayed an exquisite array of colors—light and dark; dull and vibrant—every color you can imagine. It was like watching a light show on the water. It never stayed the same for more than a breath.

It reminded me of the human body.

Your body, and everything within it, is mesmerizing. Sometimes it reflects back perfect clarity and understanding; sometimes it distorts the reflection. It is movement and stillness, and sometimes both at the same time. Your body passes through moments of light and dark; dull or vibrant—every color you can imagine.

You are absolutely mesmerizing.

Have you ever stared in awe at a newborn baby? The delicate features; the light on their skin; the clarity in their eyes? Would you dare to look at yourself the same way, even if only for a moment?

Could you allow yourself to slip away from the barriers of your mind and the rigid ideas contained there so you can have a love affair with yourself?

To feel your skin, young or old, smooth or rough, and adore it either way?

To appreciate the features of your face—the way they’ve been passed on to you like sacred treasure, holding the history of your family and the generations before you?

To look into your own eyes and see what’s there—the love, the hurt, the pain, the strength, and the deep, deep knowing that you are so much more than what you see?

Could you slip away with yourself, if only for one solitary afternoon, or one deep breath?

Would you give yourself the gift of you?

I hope you’ll see what I see when I look at you.
I hope you’ll see that you are magic; that your body is perfect, in spite of perceived imperfections.
I hope you’ll see that your ‘flaws’ are not flaws at all; that they are what make you unique and special.
I hope you’ll see that you are always and forever changing; that this moment now is already gone.

One brief moment of love for yourself will heal you in ways you could never imagine.
One brief moment of love for yourself will show you the truth;
…that you are more than what you see.

That you are beauty.
Grace.
Light.
Courage.
Strength.
Hope.
Faith.
and
Love.
You are so. much. more. than what you see.

You are everything.

MountainLake

Indescribable Moments of Perfection

I breathe in, and before I breathe out completely, the moment has ended.

It is another end to another long day.

I have fed, cleaned, changed, cared for, failed, endured, triumphed, loved, enjoyed, denied, resisted, began and ended, again and again and again…

Together we sink into the wide, deep chair that sits next to his crib. His scent intoxicates and hits me like a memory—he smells like heaven.

The moment we settle, I pull him close. Both arms engulf his tiny frame as I pull him against my heart and we fit like two hands holding.

He nuzzles his downy hair beneath my chin and I breathe the longest breath I can contain, because I know, that by the time that breath expels from my body, the moment will be over.

He loves holding his own space already.

He pushes away and sprawls out wide like a puppy waiting for a tummy rub. We enjoy the last few moments of another day together this way.

These are the moments worth living for—the indescribable moments of perfection;

A lover’s kiss.
Morning light.
The scent of rain.
Waves crashing.

These are the moments that remind you that you are loved.

Words can’t quite grasp it; and really, they don’t have to—because you already know. You may not be able to explain it or define it, or even remember the details of whatever it is, or was, or will be. But you know it when you’re in it. You know it when you smell it, see it, hear it, taste it, touch it, and breathe it in like a melody you’ve been in love with all your life. And it’s because of these moments that you keep trying, failing, loving, regretting, fighting, forgiving, winning, laughing, crying and everything above, below, and in between.

It is a glimpse of Grace.
…a slice of light.
…a sliver of recognition.
It is the grandest of all things caught in the quiet; the small; and the tender.

It is the remembering.

The indescribable moments of perfection in your life are the reminders of where you’ve been, where you’re going, and the opportunity to experience it here. Right here. Right now.

Don’t wait for it to come to you.

Call it up in every moment.

Fight for it. Live for it. Breathe for it. Love for it.

This is your life, and within it, is everything. Everything you can imagine, and so much more.

Look inside and draw it close.

Search for the indescribable moments of perfection in the tiniest moments and smallest spaces; in open vistas and grand adventures. Call it up and let the magic of the moment sparkle and shine from your eyes as a reminder to others to search for what belongs to them also.

And when you find it, take it all in, like a long, lost lover;

One inhale.
One exhale.
One more reason to love.

And be grateful.

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