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So I’ve been thinking quite a bit about this lately. I realize how seldom I post yoga poses, of myself or otherwise on my social media platforms.

I guess over the years my teaching, as well as my philosophy off the mat have evolved beyond the poses. I used to be defined by my asana performance and get built up by a teacher saying ‘good job Sara.’ Lets face it, it feels great to be acknowledged.

Around that time yoga became more mainstream.

Around that time I had kids.

Around that time I became disenchanted with the abundance of handstands and arm balances parading around the social-media-yoga-scene.

To me, that is no longer what my practice is about.

Don’t get me wrong, I love asana. In fact, I have even more appreciation for it after having 2 children.  I am also more proud of my body and what its capable of after having 2 children than I EVER was before.

But the days that I don’t practice asana FAR outweigh the days that I do because I’m teaching, cleaning, cooking, feeding, bathing, emailing, texting, hugging, snuggling, wifing etc.

So how can your yoga practice continue to evolve if you don’t have time to get to a studio, let alone roll out your mat for a solid hour to do a home practice?

It will be helpful to understand that yoga poses are actually only a small part of a yoga practice or lifestyle. According to one of the ‘grandfathers’ of yoga, asana is only 1 of 8 limbs. Patanjali’s 8- limbed yoga path consists of yamas (ethical discipline), niyamas (self discipline), asana (postures), pranayama (breathing), pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), samadhi (enlightenment). You can think of these as puzzle pieces that fit together to construct a complete practice. I find it helpful to think of them this way because when you are putting a puzzle together there is often no rhyme or reason, yet your effort is spent on creating a whole piece, hence doing a yoga practice or becoming a  yogini.

Through my process of becoming a mother I needed to evolve a way of maintaining my yogi identity. So I pulled away from show-boaty poses and turned my focus to the things I was doing on a more regular basis. By accepting that I couldn’t get to my mat, I started creating opportunities to practice yoga and mindfulness in the daily tasks of motherhood.

Playing with my children became a practice of being present. Packing their lunches- an act of service. Deep breathing with them when they are upset or hurt has become a great way for me to practice breathing as well. When they creep out of bed first thing in the morning, I wrap my arms around them and close my eyes to meditate on the sound of their little angel breath and their warm sleepy bodies.

Mindfulness, breathing, meditation, presence, compassion, all things that show up in motherhood on a regular basis.  Utilizing these tools to extend your yoga practice beyond your mat will help you to evolve and appreciate the time you DO get to be on your mat.  Plus, one of the hardest things to do as a mother is to make time for yourself, so by weaving these practices into your day you will cultivate mindfulness for yourself AND your family. Its WIN-WIN.

namaste.

 

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It was New Year’s Eve.

I had gone through the motions of buying champagne and planning a dinner in the hopes that my husband and I would have a moment to watch The Dick Clark Special,  talk about the past year, and what’s to come for us.

Around 9pm I found myself scrolling through Facebook posts to find most of them reflective and intention based.

I was overcome by the sense that it just didn’t feel like New Years Eve to me because time had totally escaped my grasp.

I couldn’t hardly conjure time to sit under the Christmas tree and listen to Bing Crosby, let alone look back on an entire year and decide which new resolutions to set.

It was such an uncomfortable and disappointing feeling. For someone who  practices mindfulness, meditation, yoga and tries to be present as much as possible, I had somehow gotten swept up in the whirling durvish called ‘The Holidays as a parent’.

Suffice it to say, I knew some personal intervention was necessary.

My go-to grounding practice is meditation. I sat and breathed. I slowly started to feel my self again. Then I slowly started to feel my life again. What came to me was the observation that I had been over-doing for everyone else. I had been focusing on presents for the kids, decorations for the company, parties for the community, travel for the family.  I had created so much busy-ness that I wasn’t creating time to be.

Through this realization I decided that 2016 is my year for Presence & Prosperity.  Without the presence, the prosperity can often come in the form of drain, fatigue and overwhelm. Which is exactly how I felt on New Years Eve. In order for any type of prosperity to be of value to ME I’ve got to be present with it. And that often means doing LESS.

Easy practices to become present in any moment:

-3 deep breaths in your nose, out your mouth

-hold your body very still and observe

-bring the tips of all 10 fingers together in front of your stomach

 

 

 

Perpetual laundry…

Nursing every 3 hours…

I don’t even remember what our kitchen counter looks like…

And a house so full of love and delight that I can’t even explain it.

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One of my biggest ah-ha moments as a mom was when I realized- for myself- that love grows exponentially.

‘Love’ seems to be one of those buzz words lately. ‘If we just LOVE each other…’ or ‘Love is the answer’. But to be honest with you I thought this was all kind of cheesy. Now if you read my blog then you’ve probably realized I teach yoga and practice buddhist meditation- so I understand all about love and compassion. But I have felt like there was an inauthenticity in the way some people used this expression ‘LOVE’.

I remember when I was towards the end of my first pregnancy, I was driving on the highway, jamming to ‘Black and Gold’ by Sam Sparro. I got really teary thinking that I wasn’t sure how I was going to love this baby because what I did was love my husband. Thats who I was, I was his wife and we loved each other, how was I going to have enough love for them both. Now I know what you’re thinking: this seems like I felt love was a scarce commodity- but it was how I felt. A few weeks go by and the nurse hands me my firstborn- and in that moment I understood how love works.

There are, in my recent experience, no limitations and no boundaries on love. Yet we all define it and experience it differently. My becoming a mother allowed my love to become bound-less. I have been able to love more people more freely, more compassionately because my kiddos have shown me how to love- MY WAY. Love grows and multiplies at astonishing rates. The trick is that we have to be open to the timing and the possibilities. It won’t do us any good to adopt another persons version of love. I would even say that doing this can lead us down a very unfulfilled and potentially self-destructive road.

So stay your course, look for YOUR love in all the unexpected places. Let it make you hurt and let it make you cry. Question it and doubt it.  And on the other side, if you’re lucky, you’ll be able to say that you LOVED in your own way as hard as you could… and the dishes will eventually get clean. The good news is that dishes don’t matter so much when you are full of LOVE.

Imagine the most awkward day that you have had in your body…

You may have been motivated to start a new workout regime, or had a complete meltdown in the middle of the grocery store. Either way, that moment was defining. It motivated you in some way to either make the change you needed to, or it forced you to accept yourself exactly where you are.

Now, imagine that moment and take away your ability to do anything about it AND add raging hormones… You have yourself a pregnant woman.

The myriad of changes that your body goes through when you are pregnant are mostly beneath the surface. Early on you put on weight, feel sick all day, prefer sleep to any normal activity. You wait for the coveted ‘bump’ to arrive, and when it finally does you continue to put on weight, hopefully don’t feel as tired, but might cry at the drop of a hat.

While there is something extraordinarily impressive about a pregnant body (many things actually) it seems as though society isn’t really sure how to respond or treat a pregnant woman out in public. From a woman who has been pregnant twice and taught yoga to tons of pregnant students, here are some tips about what to say and how to behave around preggers in public.

1. Don’t forget that we are still women. Women are sensitive about our bodies even when we are not pregnant. I think its best to not even make a remark about her body.

2. If you ARE going to comment about her shape, size, or weight all you need to say is ‘you look great!’ Be authentic about it.

3. We love your excitement- but don’t be more excited than us. A simple ‘Congratulations!’ is all it takes.

4. Ask before you touch- if I wasn’t pregnant, you wouldn’t touch my belly. Well- its still my belly even though I am pregnant. Got it?

5. Your guesses about any of the details of my pregnancy are moot. Don’t guess if its a boy or girl, don’t guess how far along I am. If you want to know, ask… I MIGHT tell you.

6. Pregnancies are as different as the people who have them, so don’t assume that mine is like yours.

7. At any given moment we are doing our best to hold it together and not have a hormonal breakdown in regards to the changes our body- and our life- are taking on, so please don’t feel my pregnancy is an invitation for you to tell me how hard your pregnancy or L&D experience was. I have my own problems- swelling is a b%#&*

My husband and I were on our way to yoga early last Friday AM and I noticed myself prepping him for the adventure ahead. I don’t remember him practicing yoga with me during my first pregnancy, so I felt the need to preface the experience by saying ‘I have to do some weird stuff because of the belly, so don’t do everything I do.’

As we began to make our way through the class I allowed myself to go about finding my own flow and meditative state. I was awoken by a keen sense of awareness that allowed me to watch myself from his possible perspective. I started to realize that there really WASN’T that much of my practice that I needed to modify. More than any necessity to change the postures, I was noticing that the uncomfortable part of my practice was the awkward transitions and the lack of strength. But for the most part I could do everything normally.  Now, I’m going to give myself a quick pat on the back for this. I know not all preggers can make it half way through their pregnancy without many major altercations, but since I can, I’m feeling pretty good.

This got me thinking: a pregnant yoga practice isn’t only different for the obvious reasons, but perhaps the biggest shift is that it FEELS so different. So let it feel different. If you aren’t comfortable doing things the same way as before- then make up a new way that works for your beautiful belly. Remember, its such a short, sacred time- embrace it!

Ok, the photos to follow are small variations to poses- some that we are generally told not to do by our doctors, and some that we are forced to modify as our body suggests doing so. This is definitely one of the BIG special things about a prenatal yoga practice: your body is your boss.  Even though you may have Dr’s telling you one thing and your mother telling you something else- YOU are in charge. If you feel good, if the baby feels good, I say go for it!

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Downward Facing Dog: not much to change here, but as your belly gets larger feel free to step your feet farther than hip distance apart.

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Forward Fold: Same song as Downward Dog

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Plank: This pose is great for strength, tone, and stamina. It is also a great modification if/ when Chaturunga becomes too challenging.

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Chaturunga Dandasana/ Low Pushup: Again, not much to change- but consider using your knees. In my prenatal yoga classes we use Chaturunga as an opportunity to get in a few Tricep Pushups before we go back to Downward Facing Dog… as an option.

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This is a modification for Revolved Crescent Lunge. Dr.’s recommend to modify deep twists during pregnancy to help avoid Diastisis Recti.

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Prayer Twist: Use this Vertical Twist variation if it feels better for you.

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Hand to Big Toe Pose: If you are a Hot Yogi, then this pose is a great variation for Standing Forehead to Knee Pose. IT also feels great to open your hips nice and wide!

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Frog Pose: Great for any pregnant body- as this is really close to the most commonly used birthing position now-a-days. This pose is also great to insert into your practice during spine strengthening or belly-down yoga poses.

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These backbend variations are gentle, but great for opening the heart and shoulders. I like to do these when the rest of the class is in plow pose or working on their core… after I do plank, of course!

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Inversions are a big topic of discussion for pregnant practitioners. I’m here to tell you not to be afraid. And, you will know as soon as you try if it feels right for you or not. I did inversions all the way through my first pregnancy. I think it was more scary for the other people in the room than it was for me. AND, my baby was born perfectly healthy. You can always modify like I have here, by keeping one leg closer to the ground for balance and control.

 These poses are based on a combination of advice from my drs, my personal experience, and feedback from my prenatal yoga students. For the mamas out there who are getting to their mats even with a belly- good for you! That baby is going to know flow, rhythm and breath before they are even born.  And please, feel free to reach out to me with any questions you may have, I would love to chat with you.

MAMA-ste!

 

So the big announcement recently is that baby Cook #2 is on the way!

I posted a pregnancy pic on FB and was amazed by all of the likes and comments. Not only was the support and excitement humbling, but it helped me to realize the incredible audience thats available when the news is about babies!
As I continue to share parts of my journey I hope that if you or someone you know is expecting, there is some sliver of insight, grace, or maybe even humor that can be gleaned from my experience.

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Phase 1: Not so hot!
For about the first, oh, 6 weeks or so that I new I was pregnant I just felt terrible. I was nauseous, tired, poorly motivated and eating horribly. Its an interesting cycle because I didn’t feel good, but the only thing that made me feel slightly relieved was food that I don’t normally eat. So I was snacking on white starchy carbs and cheese, which probably contributed to some of my lack of energy, but I couldn’t pull myself out!  I’ve talked to a lot of moms-to-be who wind up doing the same things, so I don’t feel totally horrible about it, but still.  Around week 11 I finally made resolve that I would have to force some vegetables/ salads/ fruits etc.
Also, as a result of the fatigue and lack of motivation I wasn’t really working out. I’d say I was going through the motions, which may be enough for a woman in first trimester, but didn’t feel that productive. The third dimension of this phase is that the nausea DID actually keep me from practicing yoga. I couldn’t spend hardly anytime upside down because it felt so uncomfortable. Needless to say, I am very relieved to be past this part of my pregnancy.

Phase 2: The baby bump
One of the most challenging parts of early pregnancy for me is that the cause of the symptoms is still hidden. I gain weight, I feel sick, I look tired, yet no one can see why. And then BUMP! Almost just like that! People start to notice and even ask me when I’m due. This is exciting to me because, I believe, being pregnant is such a sacred and special time for a woman. So now that people can tell I’m pregnant I actually feel much more confident. I don’t feel like I need to hide behind baggy shirts and avoid mirrors, but instead I can rock the baby bump and folks think its cute. And lets be honest, so do I. Interestingly, (and I am totally aware that hormones are really in charge of all of this)  the confidence impacts my physical ability. Pregnant workouts are so inspiring because its amazing the things your body can do- and all while you are creating and nourishing a whole separate human! I’m back to the gym, I’m back to my practice, and back to eating healthy and feeling great.

So- to all the mamas out there wondering if pregnancy will always feel yucky- hang in there! It just might turn around for you. And for all the mamas nearing the end of their pregnancy you are about to become the most important person in the world to one little human. Be prepared to fall head-over-heels in love. For those of us here in the middle of things- I will continue to post more specifics about how to modify workouts and yoga practice for pregnancy. Until then… I think I’ll reward myself with a DQ Blizzard.

I always look forward to the end of year as a time to reflect, regroup, and redesign my life. I get all giddy at the opportunity to hunt down the perfect visual expression of my goals and re-clip pictures for my vision boards. I’m also a list maker, so its nice to take one more look at my 2014 list(s) and refashion them for 2015.
The whole process of resolve can be quite rejuvenating, but lets face it, some of you are reading this slumping down and pulling your sweater over your eyes as you dread all of the things you WON’T be crossing off. There is an all-too-easy tendency to focus on the things we didn’t accomplish, like remodeling the kitchen (yes- thats’ from my list) or shedding that last 5 pounds so you could finally look like a ‘yogi’ (whatever that means). If this is true for you, then the end of the year can be a daunting downward spiral through the abyss of self loathing and not-enoughness.
Well, I have some good news! There are applicable ways to move yourself away from the Christmas cookies platter, and toward the excitement of the opportunity to ‘start again’ this New Years. It’s all in how you think, and that my friends, is up to YOU.
1. Sit. This doesn’t have to be on a cushion, burning incense and reciting ‘kumbaya’ (though for some of you thats helpful). Sitting could be at a coffee shop, in a park, or on the couch with a glass of wine. The idea here is that instead of jumping head first in to the shallow pool of resolutions we think we should have- we give ourselves the chance to listen to our heart and ask ‘what do I truly want’? This mindful step is imperative.
2. Walk. This may seem contradictory to number 1, though its not. Once you feel you are clear on what you want to create in your life for 2015, walk yourself through the scenario. What steps are necessary? Which resources will you need for support and fulfillment? How does the outcome feel? How does this enhance the quality of your life? This step also helps you identify whether or not the objective will really serve you and/ or how it won’t. Once you can answer these questions you are already well on your way to achieving them.
3. Speak. Ok, so these steps are starting to sound not-so-revolutionary: sit, walk, speak. I get it. But how we talk, to ourselves and to our community, has everything to do with the life we lead. Do you find yourself complaining a lot? Are you able to share your hopes, dreams and aspirations with the ones you love and who love you? Because we do so much ‘speaking’ (via phone, text, FB/ IG post) HOW we speak is our clearest and most immediate expression of who we want to be in the world.
4.Stand. Once there is something that you accomplish, stand back and take a moment to acknowledge yourself. As adults we simply DO NOT do this enough. We get the job done and we move on to the next responsibility. Taking a mindful moment to breathe, be present and feel the lightness of adding something inspirational to our lives is absolutely necessary to living the life we want.
But really, why bother with any of these steps, let alone all of them? Perhaps this is the first question you should ask yourself when looking ahead to the New Year. Why do I feel the need to have goals? Why does my life feel unfulfilled? Why do I want to add these responsibilities to my plate?
If your answer to any of these questions is ‘I want to live a more inspired life’ then you owe it to yourself to at least try.
Anyone can set a resolution. They won’t have any greater chance than you at accomplishing their goals if they aren’t mindful, authentic and heart-felt.The revolution comes in the process of learning how to communicate from whats in your heart- that means speaking and listening from a place so integrated that you can’t help but do everything possible to achieve those goals.
So start with one or two, and as you cross those things off, as you sit, walk, speak and stand, you’ll create more room in your life for another one or two heartfelt things to accomplish. Before you know it, you’ve created a cycle of opportunity to rejuvenate your aspirations and reinvent your living.

The thunder was rolling, like the growl from deep in the gut of the discontent and indifference I had been feeling for the last few weeks: A familiar, yet long unvisited territory. As the thunder was reminding me of the shifts that were set to occur, the lightening was the resurrection. The sharp flash of lights that would stretch from one edge of the cloud through the belly of the thunder was fierce, powerful, determined and necessary.

Just like change.

As I sat and watched Mother Nature’s magical theater display I was struck by something all at once: when I feel like this I feel disconnected and separate, when I feel like that I feel connected and supported. Just as the thunder and lightening are created by each other, they create for each other. What they create for each other is meaning- a purpose for their moment in time. When I feel disconnected and indifferent I feel no sense of purpose or any good reason why.

I find it so interesting what even a small dose of depression will completely un-do any kind of motivation or momentum that you might carry into any and all aspects of your life.

Sometimes, stepping away from our ‘normal’ state of living gives us the breathing room to redefine the life we want to be living.

So there, in rural Missouri, I started to look at what in my life was working, and what wasn’t. I started to ask myself about the things I was holding myself accountable for. I needed to understand what was serving me and what wasn’t so that I had a road map to redirect these feelings of discontent and exhaustion, really. How could I make reasonable changes that would serve to create the life that I wanted to live: a life of love, contentment, creativity and fulfillment.

Here are a few things I was able to distill:

  1. I was spending a lot of time supporting people who didn’t necessarily support me in the same way. Relationships of all kinds can be a big piece of the exhaustion puzzle.
  2. The 30-day challenge is not my gig (anymore). After trying a few of these and ‘failing’ miserably I’m ready to let this Insta-standard go. At first I thought it was because my life didn’t have the room for this type of commitment. Now I realize I just haven’t ever bought in 100% because it’s not authentic to me.
  3. Several of my daily habits- even self-care habits, weren’t helping to restore ME. Now- I am a yoga teacher. I know all about meditation, and breathing, and eating right etc. But some of the things I was doing because I ‘should’ were adding pressure on me to achieve them. They were great rituals and they served a purpose at some point. But I needed to revitalize in ways that were effective for ME.

From these realizations I’ve created a new check-in list. Something to keep me on track with decisions about time management and truly living the life I want to be living:

  1. I am done with ‘shoulds’! I intend to pause and ask myself: Is this something I should be doing, or is this something I want to be doing. Inevitably there will be coffee dates that I want to do, and those that I should do. At least this mantra helps me to create a moment of pause before I make the commitment. Time is a valuable commodity!
  2. Acceptance and Authenticity. My life is what it is because I created it this way. Accepting it and accepting myself gives me room to breathe and to be. One of my core values is authenticity. When I feel the competitive voice speaking up I intend to remind myself of acceptance and authenticity, and to move, work, love, post from that place.
  3. Mindfulness. It truly is important to me to live with intention, to love with intention, to teach with intention. So a lot of what this comes down to is time. Making the time for myself to light a candle and be still, or to wake up just a bit earlier to drink some lemon water. But maybe more than that, mindfulness allows for the opportunity to explore: what am I really needing to feel good, grounded, balanced, alive.

I have intentionally kept this list short- reflective of the main realizations I had while I was away. When I need to be tender with myself the last thing I want to do is write up a shopping list of all of the things I’m unsettled about. Instead I choose to focus on these main ideas that cast a broad net so that more of the little things are impacted by my new way of thinking and tuning in.

I also head in to this challenge fully aware that it doesn’t happen overnight. I don’t just wake up and say: I’m gonna change x,y and z so that my life is more fulfilling. It takes time. Besides- I have a great life, yet something in me was still stirring. The press to improve ourselves is a process. And if we are lucky enough we get to watch it and participate fully in this dance with grace.

The process itself can be quite transformative. Like the fade of a magnificent thunder and lightening show into the tranquil dance of tall green grasses in the residual wind of the storm across the plains. A beautiful reminder that the storm magnifies the tranquility. One gives purpose to the other. Its the dance between the two, storm and serenity, that makes us whole.

I’ve been on this earth for a while now. But I think I am finally starting to understand the powerful difference between setting a goal, and the will to achieve it. We can set intentions all day long, but if they don’t hit us on a heart level… on a soul level, we might as well throw in the towel.

After I had my baby it was really important to me to get back to my health. Going through pregnancy and labor is a perfectly healthy thing to do, but there is a lot of strength and endurance that’s lost. Not to mention the complete 180 that your lifestyle has the opportunity to take once the baby has arrived.

The summer that I found out I was pregnant I ran my first half marathon. I actually WAS pregnant when I ran it. I remember the preparation and the running of that race were such milestones in my love-hate relationship with running (read previous blog post here).

In an effort to ‘get my body back’ I set a tentative goal to run my second half marathon this summer- two years post baby. I say tentative because its become so much more important to me to be doing things smart rather than hard. I have a back injury and I just didn’t know how my body would feel pushing those long running distances.  As the deadline of this half marathon got closer and I danced with the reality of actually having to run it I intensified my training. I knew I would have to run at least 10 miles before I would be comfortable considering 13.1.

Well, I had my longest training run this week- 8 miles. As you can imagine, there is a lot you can think about with an hour plus of handsfree time and no where else to go.  While the corner of mind my is chanting ‘light on your feet, lift up from your core, this feels easy- keep it easy’ the rest of my mind is pondering a full spectrum of things from the problems of the world to why the Panera I just ran past doesn’t have a drive-thru.

Previously I had run 6 miles, which is a personal obstacle. My struggle through that first 6-mile run is completely mental. I fight myself the whole time. But once I’m past it my whole mindset changes from doubt to assurance.

So for 8 miles I chose a familiar path, one with plenty of shade, not too many hills, good scenery and I set off. I usually find my stride about 2.5 miles in (lift up through your core, use your muscles, this is easy).

Around mile 3 I really started to believe that this WAS easy. My cross training at Red Rocks and running trails HAD made me stronger (shoulders back, land light, this feels easy).

End of mile 4 was exuberant- just turn around and trace your steps (you’ve already run this, now you’re just running home).

At mile 6 I was high as a kite. I’d come to the realization that I AM as strong as I was before the baby- if not STRONGER. The ease that I was running with was unbeliveable, mostly because I WANTED to be there. I WANTED to be a strong-by-my-standards runner. I wanted to be able to run 13.1 miles if that was what I chose for myself. I WANTED it.

Now that I’m on the other side of that 8 mile run, the half marathon itself is less of a prize. Mostly because I KNOW I can do it. The goal- which was the race- has shrunken in measure compared to the confidence and pride I have gained as a result of my training.  I wanted to be prepared and focused. And now I am. I wanted to be strong. And now I am. I wanted to run as far as my heart could take me. And now I will.

 

 

When I was in high school, my dad imprinted me with something that I had no way of realizing the impact of at the time.

His words, something like ‘Bear (what he calls me to this day), you should try to be friends with the people who are different from you. They need friends as much as anyone else.’

Now if you will allow yourself a flashback to high school- sorry, I know that might not be how you wanted to start your day- but to make my point, I don’t think many of us remember trying to play the ‘make friends with everyone’ game. I would imagine many of you felt the way I did… its a dog-eat-dog world! I spent much of my high school career trying to socially keep up with forever changing popularity trends and gossip channels that made me feel like perhaps I was surviving, when really, I was drowning… just slowly enough that it didn’t feel like it… everyday. Especially as a young woman, I found it very challenging to be at the right place, at the right time, with the right outfit and the right people, so to speak. Nonetheless, I introduced myself to the ‘different girl’. We ate lunch together several times and went our separate ways. I like to believe that we knew each other well enough that she remembers me as well as I remember her.

Looking back now at the posse I ran with for most of my time in high school, we were the offbeat kids. We were just different enough that we didn’t fit in to the ‘popular club’, but seemed normal enough to avoid the ‘different kids’.

Now before this all gets any more cliche- the point.

Since high school, I’ve been open to making friends with whomever steps on to my path. Since college My Path has been largely guided by yoga teachers and meditation studies, spiritual wanderings etc. About six years ago I started an exploration of Buddhism. A teacher of mine suggested I try Tonglen and a Loving Compassion Meditation. Since then a large part of my meditation practice has been centered around compassion, understanding compassion and empathy, living compassion and empathy.

So the other day I drew a connection between what this meditation has shown me, and what my dad was trying to teach me so many years ago. He didn’t say ‘Bear, feel sorry for everyone and give them a friend.’ No, he said ‘everyone deserves a friend.’ In many fewer words he was trying to get me to see that everyone has a story, and we usually don’t know it, but that regardless of that story we are all deserving of connection. See people as yourself, treat people as you want to be treated. Be compassionate.

Now all of this has me thinking… is my Dad a reincarnation of the Buddha??? (He does have a round belly… love you Dad!)