A Raw Account of Starting Over and Beginning to Trust

“Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth” ~Pema Chödrön

What does it take to rebuild trust?

Ideally one does not break it in the first place. But what if it is inevitable? What if in one way or another you let someone down? Then what? Is your foundation ruined? Your sheets soiled? Your garden dismantled?

No.

Do you know what really happens when trust is broken? It provides a creative opportunity for new life, for new growth, and new beginnings. It is a strange concept, but true none the less, that only when trust has been broken can authentic trust begin. Authentic trust is dynamic, deep, and pliable. It creates a foundation made not of rock, stone, concrete, or shoddy plumbing, but that of which holds the ocean, the mountains, volcanoes, and the sky; something that shifts, adapts, and changes. Something designed to meet the other exactly where they are, exactly as they are.

What does it take to rebuild trust once it has been broken?

My honest opinion:

Sweet relentlessness and devotion.
What does it take to trust someone who has betrayed you?

Forgiveness and the willingness to let go of all that you have known for the possibility that something could be new.

Moving forward into authentic trust does not mean that the other person is not responsible for their actions, but that there is a willingness from both parties to relay the foundation and take the time necessary to mend together with honesty and vulnerability. When we shed our labels, identities, and ideologies of who or what the other should be, we see there are no others, for the other is ourself. The people who have wounded us, betrayed us, and abandoned us are merely an aspect of our own shadow self. We spend our time delineating, dwelling, repeating, and fantasizing about the future or reminiscing about the past. Real love however, and real forgiveness, is here and now. All that we can remember or anticipate is merely a shadow of love. When we give into our true nature, we relinquish our need to be separate, to isolate, to judge, to be right or wrong. Let go today. Judge not today. For when we judge, we make another person wrong for thinking a certain way or acting a certain way.

The interesting part of this journey is that we are all God playing hide and seek with ourself, and when we find ourself, we realize there is no amount of abandonment or betrayal that could harm us.

So how do we begin again?

Trust, the absence of fear, and the willingness to let reality be new. 

“People get into a heavy-duty sin and guilt trip, feeling that if things are going wrong, that means that they did something bad and they are being punished. That’s not the idea at all. The idea of karma is that you continually get the teachings that you need to open your heart. To the degree that you didn’t understand in the past how to stop protecting your soft spot, how to stop armoring your heart, you’re given this gift of teachings in the form of your life, to give you everything you need to open further.” ~ Pema Chödrön

Pose of The Week: Hanumanasana

hanumanasanaModel: Lacey Grillos 

Monkey Pose

HANUMANASANA

“Hanuman not only gives us liberation, but he also fulfills our beneficial desires.”

~Krishna Das

Hanuman, the monkey king and son of the wind, teaches us the strength in surrender and devotion. We learn through surrender, the balance of holding on and letting go. When we come to this space, we can open ourselves to peace, clarity, and stillness in the heart.

Benefits of the pose:

  • Relief for Sciatica
  • Opens hips and groin
  • Engages abdomen
  • Improves function of vital organs
  • Stretches and strengthens hamstrings and thighs

Asana Break Down:

Begin kneeling on the floor with both legs slightly apart. Place one foot in front of you extended with your heal touching the floor. Sink into your hips, allowing your heart to move forward as your hands come to frame both sides of your extended leg. Slowly begin to extend your back knee behind yourself until both knees are simultaneously touching the floor. Once you have come into the split position, raise your arms over head and gently find length in the spine. Stay here for a few breaths. To get out of this posture, press both hands into the earth and slide your back knee under your hip coming into the initial position. Then repeat on the other side.

Variations:

Advanced:

1) From the split position, exhale and bring your arms down and fold your heart down towards your front knee.

2) From the split position, inhale and lift your back foot. Reach for your foot with one hand, open the chest forward, and tilt your head back.

Adjustments: 

1) Place a bolster or folded blanket underneath your pelvis or your back knee.

References:

http://www.artofliving.org/us-en/yoga/yoga-poses/hanumanasana-monkey-pose

http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/monkey-pose/

Pose of the Week: Peaceful Warrior

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Peaceful Warrior

SHANTI VIRABHADRASANA

“There is no path to happiness. Happiness is the path. There is no path to love. Love is the path. There is no path to peace. Peace is the path.”

~Dan Millman

After the incredible amount of violence this week, it only seems fitting that the pose of the week would be peaceful warrior. I love that traditional yoga often centers around the warrior postures. It reminds us, we do not need vengeance to be strong. We do not need to inflict pain upon another to be triumphant. It reminds us that we do not count our victories as the number of wars have defeated on the battle field, but rather the amount of wars we have overcome within ourselves.

My heart goes out to those suffering right now at the hand of another. I feel so removed from that reality, I can only say this: The war stops externally, when the war stops internally. Peace is a choice. And it is possible. Do not lose faith. Do not lose your smile to grief. Draw inward and we will be triumphant. ❤

om shanti om shanti om shanti om.

Benefits of the Pose:

  • Strengthens the Legs
  • Stretches abdominal muscles and engages core
  • Stretches and supports the lungs
  • Opens Chest & Shoulder
  • Opens Heart

Asana Break Down:

Come into Warrior II (Virabhadrasana II), check your alignment with the front ankle. Make sure it is in alignment with the arch of the back foot. The back foot should be flat at a 45 degree angle. Bend deeply into the front knee. Make sure your front knee does not go past the front ankle. Draw the thighs together, squaring the hips, as if they were being pressed between two panes of glass. Arms should come out directly from the shoulder blades. Turn the hands towards the sky and bend backwards. Back and highly presses into the back leg. Most of the strength is being drawn from the core; the weight is not on the back knee. Open the chest and the heart lifts and spreads. Front arm comes over head, gaze comes towards the sky or the thumb.

 

Above, I have a chant you can say out loud or silently to yourself, either in this posture or sitting quietly. Om shanti translates into “om” the divine universe and “shanti” translates to peace, as a phrase it means may the divine creator, energy, and wisdom grant eternal peace to all things.

Light on Life

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Yoga is the practice of tolerating the consequences of being yourself.   ~Bhagavad Gita

The last year of my life has been a mixture of both great pain and great wonder. I started the year off in Nosara, Costa Rica where I was certified by Marianne Wells in Hatha yoga. When I came back home from this delightful experience, I was fully immersed in my practice. Every day, with great enthusiasm and devotion, I took to the mat. Intermingled with knowledge of Ayurveda, holy texts, meditation and chanting, I had a daily routine which would last up to two glorious hours. I was in love. Yoga consumed every part of my life with welcome arms and moments of ecstatic and spontaneous elation. 

As the summer blossomed I was working a series of three jobs, an internship, and I volunteered as yoga instructor. My practice was evident in my life, in my manner and in my speech, but my actual time on the mat began to diminish. It was not until the fall, once school had begun, that I lost touch with my practice. Papers began to take president over breath work and sitting in lecture halls replaced my practice of asana. As you can imagine my elated nature began to deflate and my energy began to dwindle. Five months passed like this until my well was dry and I was feeding off of what felt like my own soul. My absence of practice had left a void in my life that lead me into the depth of the shadow self. My kind and patient nature became one of depression, confusion, and unruly ego-feeding. Thus creating a life of discomfort.

The following summer began to bear the fruit of my shadow self: every aspect of my life could no longer be served by my absent practice and demanded modification. My life at work, my choice of career and how to pursue it, my relationships, and my living situation were all up for grabs by the hands of change. It seemed pain was within every encumbered decision and clarity was no where to be found. In Iyengar’s book Light on Life he writes a passage which explains the intricacies of suffering titled Pain: Finding Comfort Even in Discomfort. He begins this section saying, “Pain is there as a teacher, because life is filled with pain. In the struggle alone, there is knowledge. Only when there is pain do you see the light. Pain is your guru. As we experience pleasures happily we must also learn not to lose our happiness when pain comes” (Iyengar 47). It was with this knowledge that my perspective began to adjust. I remember one of the first ways this knowledge was re-introduced to me. I was invited to an Ashtanga yoga class that was taught by my soon-to-be mentor. I didn’t know it at the time, but this class was one of the first dominos to fall in the series of events that would lead me back to my spiritual practice. During this class, the instructor lead us into what seemed to be a version of Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide Legged Forward Fold), only in this variation we were instructed to heal-toe our feet as far away from one another as bearable and lower our forearms to the floor. The pain was real and mind consuming; the kind that stops your breath from flowing with ease and causes your body to shake. I look up to hear my teacher say, “This pose is just like life, right? It’s so painful and uncomfortable, but it’s all about how you approach it.”

In Light on Life and on the mat a new concept had been introduced to me: the idea that intense, heat building yoga was not solely meant to tone the abs or strengthen the legs, but also to create an uncomfortable sensation that teaches us to go beyond the visceral pain of they body and enter into the meditative mind. As yogis, we do this because “practice is not just about the pleasurable sensations. It is about awareness, and awareness leads us to understand both the pleasure and the pain” (Iyengar 48). Recently, I have been able to gain elements of this lucidity. I have begun a mental practice which reminds myself when I reflect on a trying moment that it has passed: it is no longer something the mind has to endure. Thus, I am able to take the role of the observer and can allow the rumination to dissipate and, consequentially, ease the tortured nature of the mind. Iyengar and the reintroduction of my practice has reminded me that “If you can adapt to and balance in a world that is always moving and unstable, you learn how to become tolerant to the permanence of change and difference” (Iyengar 48). Including those pieces of change that carry elements of hardship and mental or emotional suffering.

When I first came back to my practice, I would go to classes where the teacher would by chance say something to the effect of giving gratitude for your life or this breath and it would cause me to cry, for I knew I had spent the last several months forsaking my life. My mind was so wrapped in the webs my ego had spun, I could not even see past the illusion long enough to be grateful for one breath. Surely, it is no coincidence these experiences happened on the mat. Yoga seems to have a way of putting a bright mirror in front of ourselves, which can unveil shocking and painfully disagreeable qualities. However, “It is not just that yoga is causing all of this pain; pain is already there. It is hidden” (Iyengar 49). Even so, the presence of pain can be a welcome visitor. Iyengar moves to speak in this passage about the difference between good and bad pain. He describes good pain as something that is arduous and leads you towards greater growth, compassion and understanding, whereas bad pain can be misdirected, disheartening, and selfish (Iyengar 50-51). As Iyengar expands on his ideology of pain, I am reminded of my favorite poem by Rumi titled The Guest House. In one of his verses he muses: “Be grateful for whatever comes [A joy, a depressions, a meanness,/ some momentary awareness comes/ as an unexpected visitor]/ because each has been sent/ as a guide from the beyond.” It is for this reason these experiences of pain have become my most cherished moments of my life. I have begun to see new love for the parts of me that harbor pain and darkness because they are the reason I no longer have to be afraid of it. Iyengar says “There are only two ways to confront pain: to live with the pain forever or to work with the pain and see if you can eradicate it” (Iyengar 49). These bouts of circumstance that have elicited pain in my life have caused me to see that there is no way out, but through. Like the variation of Prasarita Padottanasana, the things that can elicit some of the greatest pains are not only temporary, but can also lead to the greatest of joy. And again I am reminded why I practice yoga, “not just for the enjoyment…[but] for ultimate emancipation” (Iyengar 52).

Citation:

Iyengar, B.K.S. “Light on Life: The Yoga Journey to Wholeness, Inner Peace, and Ultimate Freedom Paperback – September 19, 2006.