Sanskrit in the Mountains

   Last year, I was invited to a place called Yogaville. Hidden in the mountains of Virginia, this retreat proved to be just what I needed. Not only did it provide me with a relaxing weekend, it completely changed my life. I have craved that place since I left it. The spirit, positive energy, and genuine beauty of the people and the ashram were nothing short of inspirational.

    Before that visit, I had never experienced chanting. I remember walking into the room terrified, because I knew that my first guided meditation session would include chanting. I survived it with little embarrassment, and found it to be very relaxing. Fast-forward to the Saturday night ceremony and I was absolutely, 100% terrified. I went from being a stay at home mom and isolated student, to sitting in a room full of strangers chanting Sanskrit. I had a choice to make: I could allow my embarrassment to ruin the experience for me, or I could dive in and and learn as much as possible. I chose the latter. I thought about our human nature and how we are so easily embarrassed-an emotion that forces us to miss out on many of life’s greatest moments. So, I chose adventure. 

      I fumbled my way through the words and appreciated the music being played. I watched the other attendees swaying back and forth, eyes closed, lost in verse. I envied them. I wanted to feel free. 

      Something amazing happened and halfway through the ceremony, I felt it. I felt the energy rush over me like a wave of peace. I felt connected to the words that I previously feared, and I was completely devoted to the ceremony. When it was over, I felt relaxed, collected, energized, and awake to the world around me. I wanted to stay in that world forever. 

     Sanskrit is a beautiful language that is intimidating at first glance. Fortunately, there are many websites and videos that offer assistance with understanding and pronouncing the verses. There is something magical hidden within those words. Once you learn how and the words slide off of your tongue, you are hooked. It is also open to any religion, and is not limited to practicing Hindus. There are unrelated chants that can be used by anyone. Buddhists use chanting, and that is a philosophy that does not praise any god or idol. So, don’t feel like you are betraying your current belief system by practicing a chant.

       I am working on an at-home practice, and will be visiting another ashram within the next couple of months. I hope that this story brought hope to someone who has been afraid to try chanting, for fear of being embarrassed or doing it incorrectly. Free yourself. As long as you are practicing and are reciting them from a place of truth, you will feel the calming and restoring effects of the chant. 

Om Namah Shivaya.

Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.

                 (More on that later)
Namaste. 

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PerceptionĀ 

My hand hurts. Duh, right? I broke it.

Well, when my hand is hurt, so is my heart and mind. I can’t do some of the things that I love to do each day that put me in a great mood: yoga, hooping, playing the ukulele, etc. I was seriously bummed about this for the last few days. Then, I had a very obvious realization: I still can. I can play songs with two or three chords, I can hoop on-body, and I can practice hatha yoga. Turning my can’ts into cans completely changed my mood. 

My hand hurts and there are some things that I genuinely can’t do (such as hand-washing the dishes, I know, sad face), but turning my can’ts into cans reopened my day to happiness, peace, and joy; not just because of my ability to do those specific things, but because I had control over my day and my mood by not carrying around a defeated attitude.

Everything that is broken can be fixed, except for our day. Time is something that we can’t redo. Don’t waste it by listing the things you can’t do and start living it by experiencing the things that you can do.

Namaste. 

You want me to WHAT in bed?

I have seen so many articles that suggest doing yoga in bed as a great way to start the day. Let’s be honest-that sounded strange to me at first. I immediately imagined someone waking up and balancing atop their quivering mattress while they struggled to hold a mountain pose in their groggy state. 

Wrong. I woke up this morning and decided to give this bed yoga thing a try. I stretched my body within the comfort of my blankets and I am now a bed-yoga believer. Have you ever actually watched a cat stretch after waking up? That is exactly what I felt like. I felt like a cat. So much so, that I was distracted by this humorous thought (because I tend to have racing thoughts at the most inappropriate times-sometimes entertaining ones). 

It was even more helpful that I waited until my husband was out of bed so that I could utilize the entire space. I OWNED that bed. I didn’t have to share. I rolled around, twisted, and stretched until I felt like an energetic kitty ready to pounce on the day. It was truly refreshing, especially for someone like me who doesn’t sleep well at all. I usually wake up feeling very tired and with a general feeling of “ugh.” This technique was actually helpful. 

If you have morning grogginess and laziness, give it a go! The worst that could happen is you get tangled up in your blanket. 

Namaste.

New BeginningsĀ 

Have you ever “woken up” one day and realized that you have somehow lost yourself? Somewhere between the late night study sessions, running around with the kids, and daily responsibilities, your spirit drifted away. You can vaguely feel it there. It’s calling to you; desperate for you to rediscover it. You make several desperate attempts to find it through bar dates with friends or vacations, but you always return home feeling just as lost as you were when you hustled out of the door. Something is missing and you have absolutely no idea what it is, but you would do anything to reclaim it…but how? How do you find something that is lost when you aren’t sure what it is? You aren’t the same person you were ten years ago before starting a family and a career. You are a new development-designed and built from every decision that you have ever made. So who are you NOW?

That is how I felt. I can’t remember the exact day that it happened. For me, it was gradual at first before hitting me like a proverbial ton of bricks. I became filled with an overwhelming anxiety that grew in intensity the longer I ignored it. My husband noticed also, and we tried to think of ways for me to rediscover who I am outside of the many hats that I wear. We both knew it was time to do something, before I am lost forever.
This is my journey of self-discovery, love, and acceptance. My new beginning. I am taking you with me so that you can see what works and what flops. Hopefully, you find something that inspires you to embark on your own journey.

Namaste.