Lessons from The Lotus Flower

Pink and White Lotus Flower · Free Stock PhotoI moved back to Texas (from North Carolina) 12 days ago.  I lived in North Carolina for 4.5 years, but before that, I was a resident of the Lone Star State for almost 10 years.  Even though I grew up in California (Los Angeles), I somehow feel that I’m more of a Texan than a Californian.  I was so excited to make the move back to where my heart is, but the move was not without challenges.  In my blog last week, I talked about the Dos and Don’ts of moving in the midst of COVID-19 (it’s so important to plan ahead because there are moving-related services that may not necessarily readily available due to business closures).  Today, I want to address the emotional aspect of moving, using the symbolism of a lotus flower.

“Be like a lotus. Let the beauty of your heart speak. Be grateful to the mud, water, air and the light.”
Amit Ray

A lotus is a very unique plant: While most plants in the northern hemisphere became extinct during the Ice Age, lotus plants survived, earning the distinction as a living fossil.  It also grows in muddy waters into a beautiful flower: This fact alone can be pondered over for many hours — and I promise to dedicate an entire blog in the near future — but today, I will talk about the following characteristics of a Lotus: Purity, Enlightenment, Self-regeneration and Rebirth.

Purity

The dictionary defines purity as “freedom from contamination.”  When I think of the word contamination, I think of something being dirty, dangerous to one’s well-being, and no longer being good for its purpose.  It seems kind of odd to think about the connection between purity and moving; but the way I connect it is by asking myself, “Am I dragging my personal baggage from state to state, or am I starting anew with a blank slate, with no pre-conceived notion of what this new chapter in my life will be like?”  Being that I’m a dreamer, I like to envision the way I think certain situations will be like.  It’s hard not to go into a new experience and environment with no expectation; however, if I want to approach this with purity, I must go into my life in Texas free from contamination of bad habits that I have previously created in my life.

Enlightenment

We use this term (or some form of it) a lot in Yoga.  Some words that are in this category are understanding, insight, awareness and awakening.  I’ve been missing my friends in Charlotte a lot the past couple of days.  I found myself wondering if we made a mistake by leaving Charlotte.  When I expressed this to my friend in Dallas, she seemed concerned for me.  But I assured her that I was glad I was feeling sad and having doubts because if I didn’t feel this way, how can I say that I gave my heart fully to my life in Charlotte?  It would also indicate that I was totally out of touch with my feelings if I didn’t feel this way.  I think part of being enlightened in one’s journey in life is to be able to have self-awareness and to be able to recognize the discomforts without avoiding or ignoring them.

Self-Regeneration

When I think self-regeneration, I think of lizards.  I remember when I was at a summer camp as a teenager, one of my friends caught a lizard and was trying to hold onto it.  When it squirmed out of his hand, he grabbed the tail (you know what’s coming next), and the tail detached from the lizard… and it was moving by itself!  This was the first time I had ever seen a lizard do that in person, so it freaked me out!  We know that lizards have the ability to regenerate their tails.  I found myself asking the question, “Are there any areas in my life where my heart has been hurt or injured?  If so, am I actively taking the necessary steps to heal and regenerate those parts of my heart?

Rebirth

Rebirth.  To be born again.  This makes me think about being like a newborn, where everything is new and fascinating.  Even though I have previously lived in Dallas for almost 10 years, I want to embrace this city with a new set of eyes and new perspective.  I don’t want to go back to who I was when I lived here before; I want to allow myself to approach this new chapter of life with freshness and excitement.

Moving is tough.  It is never without discomforts and bitter-sweetness.  If you are (or will be) in the situation of moving, know that I can relate to the myriad of emotions that you are (or will be) going though… and that transition feelings are completely normal and necessary.

With Gratitude,
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Get Out of The Way!

Since the onset of COVID-19 Pandemic and all the restrictions that have come with it, I was among the thousands of people who have lost their income due to business closures.  I was also among the numerous yoga teachers/fitness instructors that transitioned to teaching live-stream classes through Zoom.  Even though teaching through an online platform was something I had wanted to do for a while, I was “forced” into this situation sooner than I was anticipating.  I say “forced” because my other option was to not teach at all.  There are several reasons why I was delaying online teaching:

    1. I don’t like hearing my recorded voice (I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels like this).  When I hear my unrecorded-self talk, I like the tonality and the intonation in my speaking voice… which is not the case when I hear my recorded voice.
    2. I don’t like seeing myself talking in a video.  I start looking at how I move my mouth when I speak, my non-conscious movements, my lack of smile (making me look like I’m mad), my non-white teeth (from many years of tea and coffee drinking)… the list goes on and on.
    3. I wondered if people would actually switch from in-person classes with me to on-line/live-streaming classes.  Being that I specialize in teaching gentler forms of yoga (not necessarily easier, but I focus more on proper alignment and injury prevention), my morning classes consist of mostly women in their late 30’s to 50’s.  Half of these wonderful women are not big fans of technology, so I knew I would lose the number of people I can help by transitioning my classes online.
    4. I questioned my discipline.  Would I be able to consistently teach online every week, or would I start to lose motivation and quit?

It is interesting that it took a global crisis for me to take the leap into teaching classes online.  But before I decided to offer live-stream classes, I had to search in my heart and make sure I wasn’t doing it out of fear (check out my previous blog on overcoming fear).  Once I prayed, meditated and talked it over with my husband (who is often the voice of reason), I realized that this would be a great time for me to take a leap and see what God does with it.

Today is my second week of online teaching, and it’s going great so far.  Last week, I taught three All-Levels Yoga classes, two Yoga Nidra classes (if you don’t know what this is, sign up for my class here), and a Biblical Meditation Workshop (click here for future workshops)… and I’m happy to report that I did not feel self-conscious, and I was able to stay disciplined and organized with my schedule!  The greatest lesson I learned in this whole process is that I get in my own way (and in God’s way) which prevents me from doing and experiencing greater things.

How often do you convince yourself not to pursue a dream or an idea because you think it is:

  1. Too much work?
  2. Too much effort?
  3. Too scary?
  4. Too intimidating?
  5. Too out of your comfort zone?

Next time you feel any of the feelings above, remind yourself to get out of your way so that you can go after accomplishing and experiencing things that you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.  And if you don’t succeed in your definition of success (more on this topic next week), know that IT IS OKAY.  You are still wonderful.  You are still loved.  You are still uniquely YOU!

COVID-19 Self-Quarantine: Finding Your New Normal

I recently saw a meme of a teenager holding a landline phone and trying to figure out how to use it.  I’m among the last generation that remembers fighting over who gets to use the phone next.  As a Gen-X’er, I used payphones at the mall and mail hand-written letters. I remember when we transitioned from records to cassette tapes, from cassette tapes to CDs, and from CDs to mp3.  With each transition came a new normal… but the transition we’re all facing today in social distancing and self-quarantining has been shoved into our lives.

Just like many people in the service-providing industry, I have been impacted as a yoga teacher and pilates instructor.  As of last week, the facilities that I teach weekly classes at have temporarily closed, so I decided to offer On-Demand (aka live streaming) yoga and meditation classes via Zoom (click here to see my schedule of classes).  Instead of using this time to binge-watch TV shows and movies on Netflix 24/7, I decided to keep myself on a schedule to prevent going into hermit-mode.

There are many benefits to keeping a routine in your schedule:  Mentally, stay disciplined allows our minds to be sharper and have more control over negative thoughts and feelings.  Physically, we’re able to burn more calories and prevent muscular atrophy if we stay on task and active.  Our mental and physical discipline can create a sense of safety for our souls to be still and experience the beauty of the present.

Here are some ideas to consider while you create your new normal:

Set your alarm (then wake up and face the sun).

You don’t necessarily have to wake up at 5 AM (unless you want to), but set your alarm at a reasonable hour.  Once you wake up, get out of bed and do some gentle warm-ups and slow stretches (maybe some Cat/Cow Yoga poses or Table Pose to Child’s Pose flow).  After your stretching and warming up, find a spot in your front porch or backyard (or in your house where you can be in sunlight).  Sit or stand still, close your eyes and enjoy the sunlight on your face as you take some deep diaphragmatic breaths.  When you feel present and calm, slowly open your eyes.

Go for a walk.

I’m generally not an outdoor person because of seasonal allergies during the Spring and Fall, and mosquitoes during the Summer.  But we’ve been having great weather here in North Carolina lately, so my family and I’ve been taking advantage of being outside and going for walks in different neighborhoods.  While keeping our social distance from people, we’ve been able to give them a wave, a smile or even say hello in passing.  I also take “podcast walks.” My favorites are BEMA Discipleship (for a deep-dive into context of The Bible), The Creative Penn (for indie authors), and Yoga Teacher Resource (for — you guessed it — yoga teachers).

Have a Game Night with your family.

My family and I love playing card games and board games.  Our current favorites card games are Rummy, King’s Corner, Idiot (yes, it’s an actual card game).  We also love non-card games like The Settlers of Catan, Mexican Train, and Rummikub.  Having some laughter and silliness can definitely bond a family… Just make sure you keep your competitive nature in check so that no one leaves angry.

Enjoy a Weekly Spa Day at home.

Once a week, block out 1-3 hours (or more) to enjoy some time to yourself with a spa day.  All you need are some candles, a bathtub filled with warm water, a great bathbomb (my favorite ones are from Sweet Home Bath+ Body from Plano, TX.  Free shipping until the end of March!), a sheet face mask, some spa music, a difuser with lavender essential oil and some DIY spa water (slices of cucumber and lemon in purified water is nice a refreshing).  This will be quality time of relaxation that you won’t regret.  If you have young kids, you might want to consider having a spa evening after the kids go to bed.

Read a book (or two, or three).

Most of us have several unread books on our bookshelves (or a drawer); I have over 25 unread books because I seem to buy books faster than I can finish them.  This is a great time to pick up those books and read them.  You many not have another extended stay-at-home time like this, so make the most of the time that you have by filling your brain with some useful knowledge with some non-fiction/self-help/DIY books or immerse yourself in a great fiction book to engage your great imagination.  If you need a new book to read, check out my book on biblical meditation.

Do your spring cleaning now.

In the midst of the current world pandemic, Spring has sprung!  Go from room to room to de-clutter and organize. Donate your gently worn clothes (you can find drop-off stations as well as donation bins throughout the city).  Plant some plants and flowers.  Get rid of expired canned goods and freeze-burned foods.  Whether or not you like to organize and clean, it can prove to be a therapeutic experience as you let go of the things that no longer serve your highest good.

 

 

As we all look forward to the day when we no longer need to keep 6 feet away from each other, let’s make it a goal to be better versions of ourselves than when all this began.

 

With Gratitude,
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