Cat From The Mat

Let Freedom Be

It’s the first day of attending a Living Compassion seminar with my local Nonviolent Communication cohorts. I’m sitting front row and center, excited to learn about what I don’t know that I don’t know.  I want to get the “it” there is to get.  

As the session begins, I notice that there are two ongoing loud sounds from the back of the room.   My judgmental mind immediately jumps into the all too familiar terrain of “something’s wrong,” wanting to do change it.  The culprits: two struggling air conditioners. My thinking is that by fixing the issue at hand, I am honoring my need for self-care as well as care for others, since I believe that this racket is distracting to the whole room.  But no one else seems to be as bothered as I am.  The reality is that there’s nothing to be done, but to sit with my discomfort.

Cut to…Day Three.  I am in the same chilly room, with noisy ACs going on and off at whim.  And I no longer hear the relentless din.  When I do focus on it, I am now amused.  I imagine that there are two distinct birds singing back and forth to one another.  So what has happened?  How is it that I am finding ease in the previous annoyance?  What immeasurable steps brought me peace of mind?

My brain is quick to try to figure out every experience that I encounter.  I’m well versed in connecting my feelings to their associated deeper needs.  However, I’m not so patient pausing in that space between experiencing feelings/needs and naming them.  I tend to quickly define my experience then leap into the next stage of taking subsequent action.  This process of slowing down is one way to connect my human being to my human doing.  It’s so simple, yet not easy. 

The ‘it” that I ended up receiving in the weekend intensive was an unexpected inner calmness.  Since then, I have been enjoying ease within my immediate, habitual doer-ship.  When I think that I am stuck behind the slowest person at the grocery store, I first acknowledge and feel my frustration without making it wrong.  I then practice agency…whether to be okay with the leisurely pace or to change to another queue.  If I skip over the preliminary step of pausing to first feel, then I might not shift my relationship to the experience.   There’s no expansion when I get stuck in the contraction of my judgments.

What if I could make room for everything to be as is, without having to edit it?  What if the obstacle was the path itself?  Welcome any irritant as an invitation.  This endeavor is anything but complacent.   This is also my current inner approach to self-care. 

Self-sovereignty, not anxious tyranny, is where the rubber meets the road.  May your month of July be full of hosting moments to observe acceptance of self.  Inner freedom might be most liberating event you’ll ever celebrate!



Cat From The Mat

July 2017 Blog

Filing for Emotional Bankruptcy?

When life is uncertain, it’s helpful to anchor into certainty.  In the realm of science, measurability determines existence.  As concrete tools of calculation continue to refine, does that mean that if something is not quantifiable yet, then it doesn’t exist? How is it you measure up?

Culturally, success is often determined by income or achieved accolades.  Financial security affords a sense of freedom, ease, and support. It can also place the focus solely on external sources.  Measuring just one type of currency can be limited, by not gauging one’s deep worth.

You might have all of the money that you need, but what if you feel emotionally bankrupt inside?  What if you inner savings account is overdrawn or your checks are bouncing? If you no longer feel solvent, how can you reinvest in yourself?  You might consider building up a different type of nest egg. 

One of the things I treasure about yoga is that I never know what someone does for a living.  The question “What do you do?” rarely comes up in class.  The unspoken invitation of asana is to discover who you are being each day with curiosity and compassion.  The practice is a way to assess an ongoing quest of self-awareness as you step off the mat. 

Dignity is your greatest asset. It’s your principal.  Only you can discern how secure you feel inside.  Value is generated within.  Your appreciation appreciates, like a high interest fund.  Gratitude yields immense dividends, which can be contagious.

To quote the Bhagavad Gita, “On this path, no effort is wasted, no gain is ever reversed; even a little practice will shelter you from great sorrow.”  Consider bringing your focus to that which is working in your life, especially the incalculable.  Just because you don’t see immediate results, doesn’t mean that you are not benefiting from your labor.  Foster the relationship between your intrinsic and extrinsic wealth and share your “enriches” with the world.


Cat From The Mat

June 2017

Healthy Boundaries, Not Walls

There has recently been a lot of talk about walls.  Walls can be perceived as dividers, either to contain something in or to keep something out.  This vertical surface can be a structure to climb, a surrounding layer, or a strategy for emotional protection.  In any case, a separating wall is not often designed to be porous.  In an effort to encourage both global and local understanding, I would like to make a case for healthy boundaries instead of walls.

A cell is the smallest structural unit of life that can replicate itself.  It is surrounded by a permeable membrane that acts as a gatekeeper of what to let in and out, like the simple exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide.  A cellular membrane is a boundary that has agency, acting on behalf of its cell, neighboring cells, and the cellular matrix at large.  The body’s innate intelligence can determine just how permeable this barrier needs to be for survival.

Emotional intelligence is the capacity of using the clever mind to make healthy choices. In my recent studies of relationships, I have been learning about ways in which we humans might put up psychological partitions, such as a wall of anger, of fear, of silence, or of words.   When excavating the common emotions of anger or fear, there might be feelings of sadness or self-alienation lurking below.  Too many unedited projected words can be harmful while too little can send a message of not caring. Although a person might feel safer within this chosen refuge, overtime this façade of security can become disconnecting and even imprisoning.  Walls are helpful in the short-term to pause and reorganize within, but they might not be sustainable in the long run.

When I have defined boundaries, I can be more self-honoring and compassionate by taking accountability for my two-way participation in interactions.  Just like a cell adjusting based on circumstances, I would like to become more self-regulating in how I interact concurrently with my inner and outer worlds.  I like to think that how I am anywhere, is how I am everywhere. 

I travel quite a bit to teach, so my outer terrain is in a constant state of flux.  If context impacts my behavior, then my challenge is to adapt and accommodate without losing my sense of “cellf.”  My hope is to be true and versatile, in relationship to any given situation.  This is my constant quest as a yogin.

Yoga is defined as “skill in action.”  It is a practice of being flexible (on physical, mental, and emotional levels) and adept in assuming many perspectives.  It’s the ongoing ancient conversation of how to live in the world. Becoming more of who I am while being a part of the bigger picture, takes discipline and trust over time.  This balance requires establishing supple boundaries that can be as impervious as concrete or as penetrable as a sponge. 

Why are we focusing on outer barriers when we might first need to tear them down inside?  As I break down any inner walls brick by brick, I can build discernable boundaries, breath by breath.  A more resilient enclosure provides a supportive environment in which to choose what and how to receive and thus offer back.  With self-care and self-connection, I am more curious about how to relate with another.  There’s a lot waiting on the other side of the wall! 

Happy “rechoicing” this Easter, Passover, and Springtime!

Cat From The Mat

April 2017