Unraveling, Letting Go, and Alchemizing Pain Into Light

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Unraveling, Letting Go, and Alchemizing Pain Into Light

It can be scary to let go of our pain, to move forward and let life blossom. We fear loss. We fear letting ourselves be happy. We fear losing that happiness, but what we give our attention to is what we create. So, when we spend our time fretting and worrying we are creating more fretting and worrying. But, when we spend our time building a strong foundation of love, trust, and security we are growing roots to allow ourselves to blossom in ways we never believed possible.

I have been guilty of gripping onto pain, obsessing and creating stories around it, keeping myself small inside of it. I reveled in my tortured spirit, and in my teen years I would often binge-drink in order to avoid dealing with the stew of pain brewing inside of me. And then one beautiful night I stepped foot onto the dance floor at a rave and it was there that I found God.

This may sound strange, finding God at a rave, but it was the drum beat--the bass line--that penetrated inside; it allowed me to get to the center of my core and, by dancing my way through those dirty warehouses, I began the process of becoming meditative. It was in that space that I started to strip away the ways I'd been hiding from my pain, which meant that I had to face my pain. 

In my sober state, without any hiding or numbing mechanisms, I created systems I believed kept me safe.  I'd line my bobby pins perfectly, close my make-up bag just right, flip the light switches a certain number of times etc.. If I could maintain the perfection of these routines I felt I could keep life from changing, but what I didn't realize is life wasn't really that great anyway and the only constant in life is change.

Change was scary to me, so scary. I didn't know what was on the other side. I attached and had difficulty letting go. So I wove myself into cages that inevitably I'd always have to break free from. And then the cycle would begin all over again. And it was in these systems that I thought I had created the perfect system to keep me from loss, to keep me from pain. But, the pain was already there. It lurked inside of me and it had to be used. I had to transform it into a thing of beauty. 

On that dance floor, I felt God and from that moment forward every action contributed to my healing. Every moment since has been a process of learning to alchemize my pain into light.

It takes time and discipline and patience to transform our pain, but it is necessary. It is through the use of our darkness that we are able to shine bright, which enables others to shine bright as well.

We are always growing. We are always changing. And it is through action that we are able to move forward, that we are able to manifest the greatest versions of who we are into the world. This is not easy.

At their worst, our minds create so much fear, but once we harness them and train them to use that fear for the good, it is then that our fear becomes love. And then we are living, truly living, not merely existing and hiding, but embracing the beauty of what life is.

Peace and Love...xoxoxo

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In Stillness, We Slay Dragons...

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In Stillness, We Slay Dragons...

All we can do is listen. It sounds ridiculous, but it's true, just listen. As Ram Dass says, "the quieter we become the more hear."

And it's true.

I didn't always know this. I was filled with chatter, filling space, running my words from one end to the other with no silence in between. It felt easier that way. When I was still, when I was quiet, the fear crept in covering my mind and heart in a cesspool of excuses and distractions. It felt easier to continue this madness than it was to take the time to sort through the terrible habits I'd been avoiding breaking free from.

Eventually, the need for stillness overtook me. I was beaten into submission, and I found myself sitting still and listening.

It took me years to get to this place, one where I could just be. When I first embarked on my journey inside I was a know-it-all asshole. I truly thought I knew everything. Now, I realize how much I still have to learn. It took years of a disciplined practice for me to understand how little I knew.

Learning to be still takes patience, practice and discipline. We don't realize that. As we rush and run and fret and worry our way through the world we neglect the gift of being still and listening. We neglect what it is to let life unfold and blossom without trying to change or fix or manipulate it. We hold on instead of letting go. We fear what is on the other side and so we avoid listening for fear of what we might hear.

Yet, it is only in the silence that truth will unfold. It might not be pretty at first. We shove our darkness inside in an effort to avoid dealing with it. And, in order to get to that beautiful stillness, we have to slay the dragons we've been trying to cage.

It's the change that scares us, taking the leap to the other side, where we let go of our attachment to our pain and suffering and we become the joyful creatures that we are meant to be.

I still work on this daily. It's easier to hold on than it is to let go, but the holding on causes suffering. It keeps us small, never allowing us to expand into our lives, unfolding our strength and love onto the world. We humans have unruly minds. We are like wild horses that need to be broken. In our minds we create the most complex problems out of nothing simply because we don't know how to be still and listen. And we are too scared to let go.

But, we are learning. Every day more and more people step onto their mats. Every day more and more people sit in silence. Every day more and more people learn the beauty of simply being still and receiving, of listening.

The stiller we are the more joyful the world will be. The stiller we are the more comfortable others will be in stillness too.

Peace and Love...xoxoxo

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Glimpses of JOY

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Glimpses of JOY

When I was in college, I danced my way through the wee hours of the night as a raver. It was on that dance floor that I found God. With trance music moving my feet, I connected to something greater than myself for the first time since I was a child staring onto the ocean. Form there, I began to unravel years, maybe lifetimes of pain. Every action since that moment has contributed to my healing. 

That music, the dancing, the love filling my being allowed glimpses of joy to peak through the darker clouds that I'd been shroud in for years. It was moments of joy, so euphoric and real that I almost forgot the overbearing OCD that ran my life. 

One such moment came on a random afternoon on top of the Lone Mountain campus, the highest point of the USF campus. Per usual I had my headphones on and they were blaring trance music. I walked into my classroom; I was several minutes early and looked out the floor to ceiling sun-drenched window onto the campus and the world below. As the sun shone in and the trance music played my heart lifted and expanded with the connectivity of everything, the beautiful oneness of the people below, the sky above, and the music I had so completely fallen in love with. Tears formed in my eyes as the world thrived and beat below, above, and within me. It was one of my most memorable moments of joy.

On Sunday, at this month's "Alchemizing Pain Into Light" session we discussed JOY and how to uncover the joy that dwells within all of us. 

Joy is an interesting word for most of us. We feel it, in moments, but we are less likely to express it or to talk about it. And, when asked about it, it's more difficult to talk about than is heartbreak and pain. I understand why. The painful emotions torture us while the joyful ones leave us feeling infinite and connected.

But, why is it that we want to dwell on the pain instead of allowing life to expand and become joyful?

The truth is, we have to uncover the pain and release it in order to become joyful, but we avoid doing the work to get to that place. The work to get there is hard. It's easier, or seems easier, to hide and attach onto our bad habits rather than allowing our lessons to be unearthed and learned. 

Lessons repeat as needed. It's up to us to get quiet and still so that we understand what they are. Not only that, but we have to shift our thinking. And that is the hardest part, the shifting of our thinking. 

We become habitual and neurotic in our thoughts, spinning ourselves into crazy lands that we sell as reality. It's not our fault, it's merely that learning to control our mind takes mindfulness and we aren't taught that way of being. We have to learn it, which means we must create new ways of existing and that takes time.

But, it's only by dedicating ourselves to this new way of existing that we are able to use our minds instead of letting our minds use us.

And when that happens we are free and joy flows freely though us. And then we are alive...

Get to know the pain, feel it, surrender to it, and then inject it with light. Let light fill all sides of it until it transforms into love, until you alchemize it into light. That is the beauty of pain it is a vessel leading you to the light. All you have to do is learn how to use it, learn how to move to the other side, break on through until all of that pain becomes joy, real true flowing joy.

Peace and Love...xoxoxo

 

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Letting go is easy! Um, I call Bullshit!!!

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Letting go is easy! Um, I call Bullshit!!!

I was talking to a dear friend the other day and she said, "They all make letting go sound so easy. 'Just let go,' like it's the easiest thing in the world."

I looked at her and said, "They're a bunch of liars. Letting go is hard shit. In fact, it's the hardest shit ever!!!"

I've never been able to easily let go. When I was a little girl my mom took me to the zoo with my stuffed cat. It was the most perfect white stuffed cat, and it was absolutely my favorite thing in the world. 

That day, at the zoo, I lost my beloved stuffed cat. One would've thought I'd lost a leg the way I screamed and cried for this thing. For weeks, my mom couldn't get me to stop crying for the stuffed cat. It was then that I knew, attachment and letting go were going to be an issue for me. 

And they are. Over time I have learned some ways to detach and to trust the process of the universe-- to pray, to surrender, and to let go, but I have not gone down without a fight. 

It's taken me years to understand what it is to embrace these ways of being. I've always been one to try to control an outcome rather than to sit back and let it unfold naturally. As I've practiced yoga and meditated I've become more drawn to sitting back and letting life unfold, but this doesn't mean I am proficient at it. In fact, even though I find it so sexy to be this cool, it is a battle in my soul to live life this way.

Rather than a gentle submission it is a kicking and screaming the whole way. Even though I invite the freedom of letting go and the peacefulness of surrendering, my mind pulls rank and has me spinning through turmoil.

Without my even realizing it, I am caught in a whirlwind of obsession fit for a scene in a movie, creating paranoid delusions, lapping them like a hamster on a wheel until a beautiful thing happens, I close my eyes, take a breath and let go.

You might be thinking, horseshit! She can't possibly let go that easily. And, you would be right. My ability to let go, to jump off the hamster wheel, to get control of my mind has come from years and years of practice and I still have to check myself on a daily basis. Sometimes, I have to check myself several times a minute.

But, after years of practice, I can honestly say that I have the ability to pray, surrender, and to let go...

I urge you to join me in this process. Free yourself from the control of your mind, get into your heart, converge it with the beat of the universe and learn to let go. Even to feel that freedom for a second is the most beautiful feeling of all. 

When you notice yourself lapping around like a hamster on a wheel. Close your eyes, pray to God to help you see this situation differently, surrender to the Divine, take a breathe, and LET GO...

Less thinking, more praying. Less worrying, more praying. Less doing, more praying. Less controlling, more praying. Less thinking, more praying. More praying, more surrendering. More surrendering, more letting go!

Prayer. Surrender. Let go.

Peace and Love...xo

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The Most Beautiful Artform of All

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The Most Beautiful Artform of All

The other night, just before bed, I read an interview that my friend and teacher, Jared Mccann, did for Asana Journal. In it he discusses his journey to becoming a teacher where he states, "But I still think that deep down I am going to be a pop star."

As I sat at my computer reading this I started dying laughing. Like water coming out of my nose, snorting laughter and I was transported back in time to this moment a couple of years ago when I was leading an advanced class that he was in. Whenever he was in my advanced class I felt like a co-pilot to a class that I was piloting. Anyway, he was talking about a workshop he was attending and he was telling me that I should go. I came up with some excuse why I couldn't. To which he responded, "Yarrow, you are a yoga teacher you need to continue learning."

His words stung my heart and I got defensive. I barely remember how I actually responded to him, but in my head I was screaming," I'M A WRITER, NOT A YOGA TEACHER!!!"

But, he was right. I was a yoga teacher. I was teaching and practicing yoga far more often than I was writing. But, I was holding on to this notion of being a tortured writer. I gripped tightly to it and let it keep me tied to a path that I wasn't even sure I wanted to walk down. 

About a year after that advanced class, I lay on the grass in central park, staring up at the sky, as layers of pain peeled off of me. I lay there, with tears, coming down my face and I knew that all I wanted to do was to help people heal the way that I had been blessed to heal.

As Jared said in his article, "I believe that the real teachers have all been through hell and made it to the other side."

He's right. A real teacher knows the suffering, the pain, the agony of working through the demons so that the light can shine through. This yoga, it's hard work. It's a burning through so that we can purify and tame our poisonous and unruly minds. Many people aren't ready for the real work, for getting deep into what it takes to be joyful...

Oh to be joyful, such a foreign concept for most of us, to feel the lightness in our step and the smile on our faces that comes from our hearts soaring. To be in that place of light and love and freedom and beauty. To dance with the stars and let our hearts guide us. It takes the ability to let go, to get out of our minds, to relinquish control and to surrender to the contract of our soul.

My contract is to teach yoga, meditation, and to help others to traverse through their pain to get to the other side the way that I have and still am. We are human. We suffer. Our minds make us suffer, but the more conscious we become, the more aware and the more completely we learn to move through our darkness to get to the other side the more we are able to embrace the beauty and joy of life.

It takes tremendous strength to get deep into one's own soul and to extract the pain, examine it, move through it and then release it. Yoga allows for that process. Through practicing with right intention you will get to the other side. 

Spiritual practice is every artform tied together. It is poetry and dance and music painted through the limbs of our bodies and the vibration of our hearts and minds. And, as such, Jared can write music the same that I can string together poetry with the bodies, spirits, hearts and minds of the students in the classes that we teach. It's a beautiful gift and the most amazing artform of all, that of guiding people to become more aware human beings capable of giving and receiving love-- the art of bringing people through their darkness and into their light. 

Peace and Love...xo 

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Be Receptive To The Grace of Love...

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Be Receptive To The Grace of Love...

On Sunday, at this month's "Alchemizing Pain Into Light" we got real and we went deep. It's when we get to the root of the pain that we are able to heal it.

We all have pain and we all have to heal it, continually. It's a process, and the more aware we become the more healing there is to do. God gives each of us what we can handle, so take your lessons with grace and let them unfold and be learned with love.

This is new for me, being able to take my lessons with grace. Grace is a new word for me. To live life gracefully. It's a new concept, one I'm growing to increasingly appreciate. I spent so many years trying to force and control and own that to sit back and gracefully let life happen took many years of practice. 

I'm still practicing it. 

But tonight, as I sit typing these words I can feel the healing inside me. I can feel the calm where there used to be anxiety. I can feel the love where there used to be fear. And I can feel the joy where there used to be sadness.

I've had a difficult week. I've been confronted with a lesson again, one that I thought I was dealing with in the right way, only to find that I hadn't been. Lessons repeat as needed...

This one has been thrown at me several times, and I continue greeting it the wrong way. It's time I learn, it's time I have the strength to do what I've been dreading doing. It's time to release the old way of greeting this issue. 

So, here I go on a new journey, down a different road, one that I wish will produce much different results. 

A release, a letting go, a trusting in the process of the universe. 

And so I will breathe and I will let go and I will be receptive to the grace of love as I alchemize my pain into light. I will be receptive to the grace of love...

Peace and Love...xo

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Love Is Fire

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Love Is Fire

Osho says, "Love is fire."

It is a burning through, a transformation. He says that most people go through life loveless because they are too scared to go through the transformation.

Love, real love, brings forth our insecurities, our fears, our jealousies...

It makes us feel, really feel until our vulnerabilities are bleeding out onto our beloved. 

We fear this uncovering of our hearts. It makes us feel out of control. And we, as a culture, have carefully crafted our lives so that we control everything. But, the truth, the real truth, is that we don't control anything!

I spent years trying to control, letting my monkey mind create systems, routines that I believed kept me safe, but they never did. I always ended up being thrown into the fire anyway. I fought it and closed up, acted childish, blamed...

I abused myself and the people in my life because I was so scared, so scared to let go, so scared of loss, but what I didn't realize is that we can't ever lose anything. That love inside of us, the love we feel for others, it is always there. It is real and it can never be taken away.

And now here I am, taking ownership, looking inside and letting feelings be felt. Here I am, learning how to be vulnerable.

As we sit on the precipice of Spring, I am reminded of burning through, transforming, so that we may create new. The blooms of new life were once buried in the dark. They had to grow into the light. We all have to go through to get to the other side.

Our hearts have to break, our plans of the kind of life we thought we should live have to get tossed aside for the life we are supposed to live. It is up to us to listen, to let the old shed so that we may blossom into the new.

It takes great courage to transform. We want to hold onto to the dark. It's comfortable there, but it's time to shine. It's time to let joy guide you home, to the place deep in the center of your being, the one that reverberates love, the place that gives that love freely without expectation, without fear.

It's scary. It's hard. It's painful. But, above all, this transformation is the most beautiful facet of life. It is the letting go of this self created hell so that we may become the love we are meant to be. Only love is real.

If we can remember that. If we can feel the pain, sit with it and remember that only love is real that is when our rebirth begins, that is when we have had the courage to step into the fire, to let it destroy us so that, ultimately, it can create us!

Happy Spring!

Peace and love...xo

Yarrow

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In Faith, I Trust

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In Faith, I Trust

Trust and faith were never words that I believed in.

I thought too much, analyzed too deeply, created catastrophic outcomes. It felt safer that way. As though if I expected the worst I would never be disappointed. What I didn't realize is that in expecting the worst I was keeping myself from experiencing beauty. I was blocking the wonder that exists in the unknown.

Life is full of lessons. It's packed with them. And the lessons repeat as needed. I, apparently, am supposed to learn to trust and have faith. I'm a stubborn asshole, less of one now than I used to be, but the stubborn-ness still lingers. 

Faith and trust are intimately connected. In order to have faith one must trust and in order to trust one must have faith. I never used to have much of either. It was way more comfortable to try and control until I couldn't breathe and I was suffocating everything and everyone around me. At least, I thought it was more comfortable.

But, the universe was relentless in her pursuit to teach me this lesson. And, after putting up a great fight, I believe I am finally surrendering my mind and my paranoia to faith.

As a writer, it is easy for me to tangent off into paranoid delusions, stories that feed the strings of fear I've not yet been able to break free of. It is only recently, in the last few weeks, that I have been successful at releasing from them completely. It is only recently that I have been able to sit and breathe and trust on the deepest of levels. I've had moments of this feeling, glimpses, if you will, but more recently these moments stretch to days.

I spent so much of my life in a state of fearful control that it felt normal. To control was the right way to be, but as I grew and changed I had to surrender. If only I'd know it was that simple. Yet, even in surrendering I had to go through the dark to get to the light. In surrendering, the fear came out of hiding. It floated to the surface so that it could be removed. 

It's not been an easy task. Removing fear and accepting faith. It feels like being thrown into a big black unknown part of space. Everything is foreign. It's all unknown. I don't have control and that is the most beautiful part. To relinquish my false sense of control and let life unfold, blossom naturally. As humans, we are all meant to let go this way. To let live life in the moment and trust. If only it were so easy, but it is a daily surrendering to something greater than ourselves, a daily letting go, a daily acceptance with grace. With grace, that's the key, with grace.

Faith, a foreign word and one that I am coming to regard with such fondness. In a world built on control and allusions, to take a deep breath and with love in my heart know that I have faith is one of the greatest gifts of all. I have faith in you. I have faith in me. I have faith...

And in having faith, I trust. I trust. And, I remind myself of my faith and trust in every moment of every day!

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When I came HOME...

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When I came HOME...

I never knew the meaning of the word home. I always mocked the word, made fun of feeling attached to that place. Home. It didn’t do anything for me. I rolled my eyes at its corny meaning. I was in my head, building puzzles, making diagrams, creating worlds, but the one world I was forgetting to create, the most important one of all was…HOME.

Recently, as I sat in meditation, a warmth came over me, tears rolled down my cheeks and I realized that I was in fact home. The word reverberated through me, filling my heart with so much love.

I had never felt like I was home before. I had always been running, rushing, fretting, anxiety ridden and searching, never creating home. I didn’t even know how to create home. It was this entirely foreign concept to me. Words like warmth and nourish became something new. They became life, like breathing, settling in, nesting.

And what I realized was that, creating home was not something that one does on the outside rather it is a settling in on the inside. It is the ability to be inside oneself without looking to the outside. The ability to nest and create a beautiful space representative of what is happening on the inside.

I was always searching on the outside, even when I knew it needed to come from the inside, I still didn’t know how to settle in and truly create home within myself…create home within myself. Truly, that is what home is, it’s a going inside and nourishing yourself so that you are able to nourish others. Home is the ability to love and let go and to trust and root down without feeling trapped or stagnant. It is a comfort in the deepest core of your being, a knowing that all is okay. All is right. You are being taken care of and you are home.

You are home within yourself. You are home in the center of your own being, in your own heart, you are home. Home is having the strength to be vulnerable and the softness to settle into that vulnerability. Home is the quieting of the loudness within. It is trusting yourself, trusting that you are safe and loved. Home is unpacking the boxes and getting comfortable.

I spent most of my life living out of boxes. I never unpacked, never got cozy, and that translated into worry, fear and anxiety. Once I was able to settle in, to root down, to nest within, I came home. Once I breathed deeper and let my heart unwind, once I unpacked the boxes I’d been lugging around for years, once I breathed into those spaces, I came home. And once I came home, my world made so much more sense.

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I Believe!

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I Believe!

I believe. Say it, out loud. Let it sit inside and reverberate through you. Do you BELIEVE it?

I believe.

Seems so simple, right?

It's far from. Believing comes from extracting fear and worry. The extracting of fear and worry is hard work. And in order to get to the other side. In order to get to the place where you believe, you have to go through the fear and the worry. 

When I go through, I've found that the old habits and fears come to the forefront and it's quite easy to latch onto those, to let them run amok on my mind and send my heart into a panic. To attach to my habitual ways of being and to need validation that everything is going to be okay.

I've been guilty of this always. Even though my intuition is strong, I have a had a hard time believing. I let my mind play tricks on me. I build paranoid delusions, something I thought was a malfunction of my sixth chakra, but as I started healing my first chakra, I realized that this is the place where the fear and paranoia breeds.

When we don't feel safe and secure in the material world, when we don't feel grounded, it leads us to create fears and worries. These fears and worries  stop us from believing. And when we don't believe we can't achieve. Our first chakra is that palce where we ground. It's where we become safe and secure.

I never realized how strong the world BELIEVE actually is. It's in our believing that we create our own magical joyful world. I was one who enjoyed the cynicism, the painful analyzing of a situation. I am still guilty of falling into this habit at times. I did it yesterday. My paranoia took over and I was off on a tangent analyzing, trying to make myself feel safe. No amount of analyzing ever makes me feel safe. Rather, it makes me feel fucking crazy. But I do it anyway. I run away with stories and talk myself in circles driving myself and everyone around me nuts. Over the years, I've developed systems to release instead of attach, to trust instead of analyze, but sometimes I get crazy. One of those systems is meditation.

Yesterday, what made me feel safe was when I sat on my meditation pillow, when I closed my eyes and went inside, when I let the magic of silence unravel the truth, that is what made me feel safe. 

It was there, on that pillow, where I realized what I needed to forgive, what I needed to heal, who I needed to forgive, who needed my love so that they can heal too. It was on my pillow where I let my anger unravel and dissolve from my body. 

Anger is not an emotion I feel often these days. Last night, it came on strong, suffocating me under it's fiery weight. And it was when I sat and breathed that I knew my anger came from letting my mind wreak havoc on me. From my reverting back to old patterns, old behaviors, where fear and worry ran the show. 

Though, as I sat and breathed, as I released I realized that I had to go through to get to the other side. I had to feel those uncomfortable feelings. I had to fret and worry and analyze and get angry so that I could release it, so that I could be free and let go, so that I could realize that I believe.

For the first time ever, I believe and when you believe magic unfolds. When you take the leap and forgo a plan B. When you trust and let go and truly, completely commit to yourself and belief in your path that is when the world opens up for you.

It's hard to believe. But, if you practice saying it, if you commit to it, and let it unfurl through your body you truly start to allow the power of belief to overtake you and, in that, worry and fear become a bad relationship from a distant place.

I believe. I believe in you. I believe in me. I believe in the God that lives within. I believe in love. I believe in life. I believe in beauty and in truth. I believe in magic and unicorns and the love in my heart. I believe in goodness and prayer. I believe in forgiveness and in life. I believe in the power of the moonlight. I believe in my heart and in yours. I believe in my dreams. I'll say that again, I believe in my dreams. 

I believe in your healing and in mine. I believe in the beauty of the night and the grace of the rising sun. I believe in silence and in laughter and in music that makes me cry. I believe in breath. I believe in yoga. I beleive in God. I believe in you and in me. I believe...

I believe!

It's a gift, to believe. Give that gift to yourself. Give that gift to the world. So many people are too scared to have faith, too scared to believe. Be courageous. Take a risk and believe.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Peace and Love...xoxoxo

Yarrow

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Riffing On Our Pain

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Riffing On Our Pain

On Saturday, November 7th a group of beautiful souls came to my first workshop called, "Alchemizing Pain Into Light," where we meditated, breathed, I told them my journey through emotional pain, and we riffed on theirs. Thank you all for your vulnerabilty, participation, and openness; it truly was an amazing experience.

We made music with our pain and it was the beginning of something beautiful. It was the first of many "Alchemizing Pain Into Light," sessions. It is by going through our pain, connecting its dots and uncovering its root that we can then use it to create us rather than let it destroy us.

I spent years suckling on my pain. I so badly wanted to latch onto it and make it a piece of me, but my spirit knew better. My spirit took me on a ride through it so that, ultimately, I could alchemize it into light.

In order to go through, my heart had to split open so that I could fall out and discover my own magic. It was in that discovery that I was able to use my pain. If we always dance the midline, never really letting our hearts break open, then we never uncover the beauty of who we are.

We all carry emotional pain, some of us carry greater depths of it than others. It is by facing it, releasing it, and getting to know it that we are free. When we anesthetize our pain through varying activities like drugs, alcohol, emotional addictions, yoga (yes you read that right, even yoga can act as a way to numb our pain. Everything is balance), exercise, eating etc. we avoid ourselves.

Brene Brown in her talk about vulnerability says we numb by having a beer and banana nut muffin. Both are seemingly harmless things to consume, but the truth is, if we drink enough beers and eat enough banana nut muffins we avoid our feelings. And when we avoid our feelings we never truly live the lives we are meant to live.

We live in a time filled with ways to avoid, and yet, people are waking up. Yoga and meditation are becoming more common. We are opening our eyes to the true purpose of living and we are giving that back to other people. We are spreading love and light.

On that journey to giving love and light, we must address the dark, the pain that lives inside our bodies. We must go through the pain, the insecurity, the jealousy, the guilt, the fear...so much fear. Society breeds fear. And it is by going through that we come to the other side and are able to peacefully give love. It is by going through and riffing on our pain that we make music with it.

And when we make music with our pain we can help others do the same. When we acknowledge our fear, our pain, we are able to use it to live artfully and beautifully; we are able to love gracefully. 

We live in a world filled with beauty and love, but we also live in a world filled with hurt and pain. What happened in Paris last week is violence that I cannot even comprehend. And, praying for Paris is not enough, but Paris is still in my prayers as are the terrorists. Hurt people hurt people. I pray that one day they heal their pain and their souls feel a love strong enough that they can no longer commit acts of violence. I pray that one day understanding flows strong enough between all humans that we no longer experience death in that way.

Prayer is not enough. We need to do more. But, we can't change other people. We can only change ourselves and by changing ourselves and being brave enough to address our own pain we give others permission to do the same. The way to help is by starting with ourselves, with our community, by keeping our eyes and our hearts open and our heads out of our phones long enough to look into the eyes of another. Human connection, keep the channels open, understand the heart of another and that understanding spreads.

I am an idealist and a pacifist. I don't believe in violence. I don't believe in war. I believe in forgiveness and understanding. I believe in love. 

Go inside. Everything you need is there. And let your light and your love spread over the world. Be a beacon, be an example, and give fully from your heart without expecting return.

I hope you will join me for the next "Alchemizing Pain Into Light" session on Saturday, December 12 from 1:15-4:15 at Earth Yoga NYC

Let us riff on our pain so that we can help others do the same, so that we can make music with it and give our love to the world.

Peace and Love..xo

Yarrow

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We All Want To Be Free

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We All Want To Be Free

Last month, as the moon became new, I stayed home and did mundane things like clean out my underwear drawer. I always forget how cathartic it is to sort through old underwear. To throw it out because it has simply been worn long enough (read: too long) or because it has too many memories attached to it and needs to go.

As a person who once saved the most ridiculous items for fear of change, being able to throw out the old to let in the new is huge growth for me. The irony is, I've never had a hard time letting go of relationships. When they are over, I recognize it and I let go. In some cases, maybe too quickly. In others, maybe not quickly enough. 

But, ultimately, when it is time to go, I go.

It was always during the relationship that I held on too tightly, couldn't let go, give it space, room to breathe. I feared what that space might bring. I feared loss. What I didn't acknowledge or accept is that everything is impermanent. We can't hold onto anything. But, I certainly tried. And, as a result, I suffocated myself within these relationships until I had to break free.

And break free I would, leaving broken pieces of my beloved scattered underneath my fleeing feet. And then I'd go crazy, run wild, and free until I met another boy to tame me, repeating the cycle again.

It didn't take me many years to figure out the destructive nature of this pattern. But, that didn't mean change came easily. I spent hundreds of tortured hours forcing myself to give others space the way that I needed space, which means I was really learning how to give myself space. To feel safe and confident being alone, silent, and at peace.

Tortured in my own silence, I had to break the pattern of control. I had to learn to trust. Have any of you ever sat with yourself and learned to let go of your need to know? Your need to control?

Do you have any idea how fucking hard this is? 

Your insides rip you apart and your mind spins you into some vortex of fear and worry until all you want is to do the thing you know you shouldn't do; reach for the phone, the email, the Internet and try to push, coerce, control...try to pacify your need to know.

My ways of dealing with the fear of what could be was to create a safety net in the form of objects, place them strategically in spots that they would stay, locking in the safety of my life. Rows of bobby pins here, water glasses there, clicking on and off the light switch X number of times until it felt right to let it go. If those items stayed there or I continued that routine everything would be okay.

In the beginning phases of my letting go, these actions were off the charts. Shit had to get really bad before it began to get better. I was trapped within my own fear, unable to let go, unable to see clearly the life that waited for me on the other side.

I didn't even know what I was scared of. All I knew was that I didn't know and that was the scariest thing of all. The fear ate me alive paralyzed me, kept me walking in circles, the same cirlces, for fear of breaking out of my self-made cage. Until, slowly, through hours of disciplined yoga practice I began to see through the cracks. Soon those cracks became windows, and soon after that the windows opened and I was able to step through.

You see, we never know. That is one of the most beautiful facets of life. It's this amazing journey through the unknown. And, the most magic blossoms in the unknown. If I'd known this maybe I wouldn't have wasted so many precious moments trying to control. Instead, I would've spent those moments loving.

I would have loved and understood and loved myself enough to understand that it is only by letting go that we truly love another, only by letting them be free do they feel loved enough to let the most amazing pieces of themselves grow. And only when they feel loved are they able to love us too, not out of obligation or guilt or fear, but truly and completely, unconditionally until we know that we are safe and we let ourselves grow too. We are never alone. Love is all around us.

It is in the letting go that life unfolds. When we are able to dissolve our resistance and give space between we are free. And, we all want to be free.

Peace and Love,

Yarrow

 

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Feel This Way Too

When I was nineteen, I stepped foot inside of my first rave, and it changed my life. I was coming out of a deep teenage depression wrought with mild alcoholism. The rave called me to it. I felt such a strong pull towards that dark, dank ice rink in Oakland, but I had no idea the lasting effect that night would have.

It was on that dance floor that I first connected with my spiritual self. I had felt that connectedness, that oneness before, but not since I was a child running free amidst the ocean breeze.

On that dance floor, with the bass pounding, I felt the presense of God/the universe/the divine. I felt my heart open and my lungs expand. With that first breath, I knew I would never be the same. I had never felt a breath so deep and, though it would be three years until I started practicing yoga, those moments on the dance floor, connecting with the oneness of everything, were preparing me for a journey I had no idea I was about to go on.

Through the music and the dancing, I began to heal. Like anything the beginning phases of healing are exciting, beautiful, freeing, but as time goes on the real work begins and the darkness comes out. It is then that you are given a choice--continue forward or shove it back down inside pretending that beautiful moment in time never existed.

In his yoga sutras, Patanjali talks about how drugs can bring you to an enlightened state, but that for most people the state isn't lasting.

Raves were known for their drug culture. Fortunately, I danced my way through one that flaunted the motto, "Love the music, not the drugs."

And, though I did still do some drugs, they were mostly of the hallucinogenic variety. With each trip, I delved deeper into myself and extracted new pieces of me. After every trip, I was inspired and motivated to follow through on the revelations I'd had while tripping. Not everyone had that same ability.

In their sober state fear would take over, they'd push the drug experience aside and continue on through life in the same anxiety ridden way they had been in before. I never understood it. How could they have this experience that connected them so deeply to the divine, to the universe, only to go back to the same dark hole?

For me, each trip inspired me to move forward, to let go, to embrace life more deeply. And then I started practicing yoga and meditating, which only furthered the connectedness I'd developed on the dance floor.

With these experiences being a part of my daily life, I found that my true darkness, insecurity, and fear were coming at me strongly. They had to be released before I would be free. The beginning phases of this releasing process are extremely shattering. It invokes levels of fear I never thought possible, but I knew I had to keep going forward. And, as I am a "stubborn asshole," to quote a dear friend of mine, in the beginning I thought I knew EVERYTHING! In the beginning, I was very arrogant about my journey.

I didn't know shit.

And I know even less now. What I do know is that I am so grateful I continued to face my fears, that I took my experiences and used them to catapult me forward, to help me heal, and ultimately, to help others heal. I am grateful that I spent the time doing the work and that I will spend time every day for the rest of my life working on healing and helping the world heal. I am grateful that I didn't shove the shit back inside and ignorantly become numb to life. I am grateful I have the courage to feel my feelings so that I can be free, so that I can love.

Having the courage to work through and release these hidden beasts takes time. It takes dedication. It takes patience. And it isn't easy, but once a glimpse of freedom shines through you know that all of the work was worth it. Every moment of pain was worth it to be able to breathe deeply and feel completley, without fear, without strain, without attaching and holding on. 

Every moment is worth it. And, along the way, that pain, that hurt, the angst, the fear, it can be used. You have a choice you can avoid it or you can face it and use it, alchemize it into light, into beauty, into music, into poetry, into stories that you can give to the world to help it heal too.

Recently, I went to a yoga class on a helipad taught by Elena Brower and Jennifer Pansa with beats by DJ Tasha Blank. It was such a beautiful experience and it evoked memories from my time on the dance floor. With the setting sun and the water behind me, the soft beats in my ears and the guidance of a beautifully meditative flow, I felt the convergence of every piece of my spiritual life being brought together in one place. My heart swelled, and all I felt was grateful, so grateful for the beauty of my life. 

In those moments of deep gratitude, I am reminded of times when my angst was so bad that I couldn't see outside of myself, that I cried more than I smiled, that I battled to get out of bed because my heart ached so deeply, and then I thank God that I had the strength to feel those feelings completely, that I used that pain and wrote my heart out, that I do yoga and meditate every day and that today, I am lighter, freer, happier; I am able to smile and breathe and feel the beat of my happy, grateful heart. In those moments, all I want is to help others see that they can feel this way too.

Peace and Love,

Yarrow

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Come Play With Me

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Come Play With Me

Hello Rock and Roll Yoginis/Yogis!

About a year ago I decided to answer the call as a healer. It wasn't an easy decision for me. I had spent many years thinking I'd rather be holed up in my apartment in front of my computer creating dark, twisted and dysfunctional fiction characters than giving light to to the world.

I was teaching yoga and practicing yoga, but I hadn't committed to the path of being a true healing force. I found safety in my fiction writing. My own practice still felt too precious and necessary for me to commit to helping others heal full time. 

I needed to heal first. My practice and my healing were private and I didn't have the strength to share, not yet.

Strangely, through the creation of those dark and twisty characters I was healing my heart and my soul, which was giving me the needed strength to answer this call. At the time I had no idea the ways in which my writing was adding to this path, but in retrospect I can see that it was the combination of my fiction journey and my yogic one that was healing me enough to be able to truly help others heal themselves too.

We are never completely healed. We are always in the process of healing. But, we do eventually come to a place where we are healed enough to be a guide for others to heal.

Last year, as the last days of summer danced me through the park, I realized that this was my call. It was a struggle at first to come to terms with, but once I accepted it I truly felt like I had never made a more right decision in my entire life.

I realized that every moment in my life has added up to this point, including my name, Yarrow, a healing herb.

So, as we end summer and head into fall I invite you to join me at the Rock And Roll Yogini where I will be using my energy to help you alchemize your pain into light. I look forward to sharing with you the love and light that was generated from my own tortured soul and emotional pain. I was born into this world an emotional creature with deep hurt that can only be explained as having come from a previous life. And it is through my yoga and meditation practices that I have moved through it and alchemized it into light. 

It is from a place of understanding and love that I want to give back. It is my belief that we are all alchemists. We all have the power of healing and we all have a unique gift to give to the world. Now is the time to uncover it and let others bathe in that light.

Peace and Love,

Yarrow

 

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