I matter. I am important. I am loved.

This was the mantra that my instructor offered for our yoga practice tonight. It was quite inspiring, and especially supportive when she guided us to repeat this during our core work, as opposed to focusing on the core. However, I am a very lucky person: these three ideas have never been a question in my mind. Surrounding me has always been family and friends who tell me this constantly and make sure I feel it, too. So tonight, as I set my intention during my practice, I thought of my very best friend: Sarah.

My Dearest Sarah,

Before I met you, I am not sure that I truly knew what a best friend was. I had multiple people that I had considered a best friend, but it’s our relationship that makes me fully understand what a best friend is. There are no boundaries, nothing that cannot be said, no fight that cannot be fought through, and no distance that cannot be beaten.

Without question, you are the person I got to when I need the devil’s advocate and some hardcore honesty. You’ll tell me exactly what I need to hear, whether I want to or not, but you’ll make me still feel good about it, even when it’s bad. If I need a pick-me-up, all I need to ask for is a pep talk, and words instantly pour out of you, helping me get through the day. We’ve had our share of fights, even one that left us not talking, and you have no clue how happy I am we fought through that. Finally, we haven’t lived in the same town, jeez, for 8 out of 9 years of our friendship. Yet, here we are, the best of friends. But here’s the scary part: our distance is about to get a lot bigger since you are beginning a WONDERFUL adventure tomorrow. Though I know nothing will change, it’s hard to think that I won’t be able to text you and immediately get a response. So, this brings me back to my title.

You matter. You are important. You are loved. My very best friend, I know that we don’t talk often, and I’m not very good at staying in touch, but you need to know this. You matter to me, so very much. As I’m sitting here typing this, I am beginning to tear up, thinking about our years together and how we’ve both grown so much. You are so important. There isn’t another person that I am more honest with than you. Even when I float away, you are my rock, my cheerleader, my guide. And my dear, you are loved. Please, know that, I love you very much. Thank you so much, for being my very best friend.

I will be thinking of you often, sending you very good thoughts, and lots of strength to ENJOY and EXPERIENCE these next 6 months. You are taking risks that I know I could never take, and it is so inspiring. I hope that they are the best 6 months of your life. When you get a moment of peace, exploring all of those wonderful trails, please remember: You matter. You are important. You are loved.

I miss you so much, and cannot wait to hear about every single moment.

Love,
Colleen

Meditation is hard

I am a thinker. To my very core. Yet, meditation is asking me to not think. Immediately this is difficult for me, and I try anyway. Hard. Very, very hard.

During my yoga classes, my instructors either encourage meditation (gently brush the thought away, bring your focus back to the breath) or complete a guided meditation. I always struggle to keep my focus on my breath, but certainly try my hardest. The phrase “gently brush it away” is big for me. Still, my thoughts come back around and I easily maneuver into my snowball.

Today, I went to a Mediation with Reiki. It was amazing, but again, very difficult. The first 15 minutes or so, I was definitely thinking, but I could still brush my thoughts away. Actually, I was constantly trying to visualize sweeping my thoughts with a broom. But after that halfway mark, it became so much harder. Even now, my thoughts suddenly went to my jewelry class I took in high school…

Even though my meditation class was challenging, I’m glad I went. I feel ready (mostly) to take on tomorrow. I feel centered, having positive practices this weekend. (The gorgeous weather certainly help.) Still, I’m wondering if I’ll ever be truly able to meditate the way it is intended. I’m too much of a thinker…

Acceptance

I always found it relatively odd when someone went on and on about how yoga made them feel “centered” or anything really. I typically will get my “yoga drunk” but somehow that doesn’t sound as intense or serious as “centered” or “zen” or anything of the like.

Now, I am officially one of those people.

Within 24 hours of going back to work after spring break last week, I felt very uncentered as much as I tried to keep my zen. My mind was boggled, distracted, nothing felt good, everything felt busy and exhausting. Then, after my state testing, I went 5 days without doing a full yoga practice. Constantly frustrated, annoyed, confused, etc.

This morning I completed my short warrior flow, and this evening I practiced a longer flow. At this very moment, I not only feel calm and relaxed, but incredibly centered and that “all of it will work out.” Genuinely. Everything I’m stressing about right now will be completely okay. It’s seems crazy that a simply 40 minute flow can make me feel so right. There’s not much see to it. Mind you, I’m not motivated to work right now, like I should, but I’m not stressing about said work like I was an hour ago. This feeling of centered is wonderful, though I’m still not completely positive if I’m okay with just that…if that makes any sense.

I suppose this is also a part of my journey: accepting the intense spirituality that I’m searching for. Right now, it’s becoming comfortable with the idea of being centered and doing what gets me there. I’m honestly surprised by how difficult this is for me to accept. Before, this concept has always fallen under a “bad weird” for me, and now suddenly it is becoming what I want to be my normal. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m also struggling with how people will respond to this change. I know it’s a positive one, but for some reason I am very reluctant to share it. I don’t know…but something tells me that it’s okay that this is how I feel. I’d love to fast forward through this part, but I wonder if it’s one of the more important pieces of my path.

Morning

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you how, without a doubt, I am a morning person. I’d attempt to describe the moments when everything around me is quiet and peaceful, yet humming with possibility. Possibility of what they day may bring, the excitement, the sadness, the curiosity. Roommates are still sleeping, as I tiptoe through the house with my coffee, sipping each sip with a feeling of goodness. Yet, I never forget that I should be quiet, since the morning encourages the quiet naturally.

If we were having coffee, I’d close my eyes and comment on how the drive was empty, with only a couple of cars, and a few like-minded people walking or running. Somehow, the gray of today’s sky would be brought up, but I’d let you know just how beautiful it was this morning. The neutrality of the sky allowed the bright pink to pop of the woman on her morning run, or how the all black of the Orthodox Jews’ dress created a dark contrast with the growing green around. Even the brisk breeze in the air made the warmth of the coffee even stronger.

If we were having coffee, I’d stop talking rather quickly to simply enjoy the morning with you near me. Before everyone else wakes up is my absolute favorite time of the day. Getting you to myself is even better. I’d hate to miss it.

5 pounds doesn’t seem like a lot…

But it feels damn good when you make it through an entire class with them. As luck should have it, I was able to get out of my second job early enough to go to my favorite Barre class tonight. It fucking rocked! I had taken the same class on Saturday. The teachers at this gym run the same choreography for a month and then switch it up, so going to the same teacher’s class even on different days gives you the same workout. On Saturday, I was not present, which I noted the other day in Being Present. Today, though I was very present, and I think I owe a lot of that to the 5 pound weights.

Going into class tonight, I knew I needed to try them. I wasn’t get much of a workout with the 3s for this one, since it was mostly biceps. I have been going consistently to classes for the last 6 weeks or so, meaning my strength is building up. The 5s were perfect! I was able to make it through every move without pause, but it wasn’t too easy. In the end, it was the perfect amount of a challenge.

This is why I think I was so completely present during my class, and what will help me in the future to stay present. With teaching, we’re constantly looking for the ZPD (Zone of Proximal Development) or “just right” level for kids. We don’t want them to be too challenged where they’re frustrated, but we also don’t want the work to be too easy where they’re bored. The same concepts, while relatively ‘duh’, apply so clearly to being present in the moment. For a gym class, if it’s not at a good challenge, then I don’t get as much out of it. In life, I think another aspect is wanting  the challenge. I have plenty of challenges in my life, but I still am not fully present. A big part of that is because I don’t want to be present, so the challenge means nothing. When the challenge means something, we naturally work so much harder at it, thus ending up with better results.

Unfortunately, a girl needs to keep her day-job, which means finding ways to stay present and challenging myself in something I don’t have a particular interest in being challenged in. Maybe that’s the challenge right there…

Being Present

Between yoga, barre, and cardiofunk today I’ve had a solid 2.5 hours of exercise today. That’s pretty impressive for me, definitely above my high average of 1/2 hour a day. What I’m noticing after each workout is a sense of release. Whether it’s a calming yoga practice, an invigorating barre class, or an energizing cardiofunk class, I feel good. Though out of the three today, I struggled with my barre class. Not because the exercises were overly difficult but because I wasn’t present.

My reiki healer had told me at the end of my treatment to be very present in the moment, not to look so far into the future or focused on something else, but solely on what I was doing. During both cardiofunk and yoga, I was very present. Strong balance (for the most part) and smooth transitions. During barre, I was distracted by other thoughts ( couldn’t even tell you what they were), kept losing my balance, and didn’t do all of the exercises fully.

Being present is not an easy thing to do. I’ve found that I struggle with single-tasking; more often than not, I’m multitasking with something. Reading and making dinner, watching a movie and playing a game on my computer, talking with someone while working on something for work. Nothing is ever quite as satisfying as when I’ve been present and single-tasked (yes I made that word up). Even my writing–I’m more confident and satisfied with my writing when I don’t get distracted and stay present. Though that is very difficult to do, especially with writing.

I’ve begun practicing meditation, though even with that, it’s a moving meditation series. Slowly but surely, I tell myself. The fact is that I’m trying to improve, to be present. That’s a hell of a lot better than not trying at all.

Everything you need is already inside you.

This week off has been quite eye opening. I’ve become very attached to yoga, again, but this time around it’s making me think and not only practice the asanas. It has led me to Reiki, which brings me to my title.

Reiki, similar to yoga, is a practice in healing the energies in your body. I went to my first treatment the other day, unsure of what to expect. The healer was incredibly kind and easy to talk with, and by the end of the session (in which few words were spoken) it was like she had known me for years. A little background…

I am at a crossroads right now. I enjoy teaching, but I’m not sure I want to continue it for the rest of my life in the traditional academic sense. Wellness has always been an interest of mine, so I started looking into how to make wellness my work. I began intensively researching different ways to become a holistic health practitioner and the many avenues that could include. This is what I do: research. When I’m unsure of the right move or where to go next, I research until I feel comfortable and confident that I “know.” My final decision always tends to be on gut instinct, but I always do my research first. It was a terrifying shock when my Reiki healer told me that “Everything you need is already inside you.”

How is that possible? I have no understanding of where to go from here, and you’re telling me not to look out to the experts, what I’ve always done, but in towards myself?  Cue breaking out of what feels like every comfort zone I’ve ever had.

Through my practice this week, my meditations, and a small bit of research (because it is who I am) I’ve come to a plan. Before I can help others on their journey with wellness, I need to focus on my own. If I can create a consistent practice for the next few months, learning more about the chakras, yoga, reiki, and more importantly, myself, then maybe I can begin to look more into ways of helping others with their own wellness.

Here’s to being open to whatever I may learn and creating a positive path.