Kajal · writing

Don’t think, just write

Overthinking is a shackle. If I do X, then Y. Saying this will result in that. What if scenario A, B and on and on to Z? By the time you get to Z, you will have completely talked yourself out of the thing you were doing.

As children, we are fearless, playful and curious. Over time, a parent slaps our hand when we reach for something, a teacher says we didn’t color in between the lines properly, a coach or teammate says we can’t do it that way and pretty soon we are programmed to try to just figure out what others want and please them.

Writing is a creative process. Overthinking obstructs the process of letting an idea come to life. Once where there were thoughts and ideas flowing freely, the shackle presses down on your brain and holds the creativity back like a vice. It boils down to just going for it and not second-guessing yourself, in other words, it comes down to confidence.

Lately, I’ve become more self aware of how my desire to please takes over my confidence. My fear of being or doing something wrong freezes me dead in my tracks.

What’s the cure?

Being highly aware of the behaviors and realizing when I’m doing it is a start. And then when it starts, I tell myself, “Stop overthinking, do it.” Or in the case of writing, personal or professional, “Don’t think, just write.”

-Kajal

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Guest Post

Where is Love?

Valentine’s Day words of wisdom from Sharyn Hahn.

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As I was teaching my recent Valentine’s Day themed yoga class, which focused on the 4th chakra (anahata- the heart chakra) through heart-opening poses and self-love mantras, I became aware of the wisdom that I have gained on my path during the past 10 years. It felt very natural and comfortable to invite my students to acknowledge their respective uniqueness and worth, and to set an intention regarding self-love. I embraced my own, and felt strong and centered, connected to my love for myself.

“When anahata is open and energy is flowing freely, you are not only loving to others, you are also loving to yourself. You know when you need to say no and when you need care and self-nurturing.”[1]

When we shared out at the end of the class after the final journaling moments, it was clear that the older students in the class had an easier time connecting to the self-affirmations that I offered throughout the session. Everyone thanked me for reminding them of the powerful balancing energy of self-love. It made me remember that in my 20’s and 30’s I also struggled with this concept of being worthy of love not only from others, but also for myself.

During a series of unfulfilling and emotionally abusive relationships, along with health issues and family trauma, I slowly unpeeled the many layers of self-doubt, and I became aware of the disconnection between my mind, body and spirit. Although I had always respected all of my different “parts”, I had never honored and nurtured them as a “wholeness.” Each time a barrier presented itself on my path, I found the strength to climb it or go through it, and I slowly chipped away at them as they appeared. Most importantly, I acknowledged them and learned to recognize the choices I made that did not serve me.

This is how age and experience are positive aspects in our lives! When we have to struggle when we are younger, we are stronger when we are older. We are able to embrace our lives and appreciate our circumstances (even if they are not “perfect”); we can surround ourselves with that which makes us happy. When we are happy, we can share that energy and pass it on to others. “I let my happiness be visible to others. My happiness overflows from me. I can use my happiness to bring joy to others.”[2] This is very powerful. When we are able to reach out to those who may need love and support, it returns to us tenfold! And the result is that not only do we have more to give, but those whom we touched will also do so, thus setting a cycle of positive energy in motion.

Even if I am feeling sad or anxious, I always remind myself that I am worthy of love- from myself first and foremost. When the intentions that I set are not fulfilled yet, or the goals in daily life (exercise, diet, more sleep, etc.) are not met, I no longer beat myself up. I definitely engage in self-talk, which is very helpful. I remember to breathe and stay focused on my yoga practice. This has served me well! And I love sharing it with students, colleagues and friends, because it truly is a healing gift.

Heart-opening poses encourage the breath to flow, the shoulders to relax, and the inner energy to shine forward. Embrace yourself and you will continue to become the best person that you can be. I invite you to recite the mantra that is shared in this post and to practice the poses that I offer here in this order:

1. Cow Pose

2. Cobra Pose

3. Upward-Facing Dog Pose

4. Sphinx Pose

5. Bridge Pose

6. Full Wheel Pose (more challenging)

Enjoy your day, take care of yourself, eat chocolate, and share your love and happiness with others.

Namaste.

 

Sharyn Hahn has been a teacher to students of all ages for 33 years, with a focus on teaching French at a private school in NYC. During the past eight years she has added a new dimension to passion for teaching and is now an ACE certified Personal Trainer (FitWomaNow!), and a YogaFit instructor with a 200-hour RYT certification in Mind-Body Balancing from the Deep Yoga Center in San Diego, California. She is currently pursuing a certification in Yoga for Traumaas she continues to broaden her understanding of the significance of yoga, meditation, and breath in her students’ lives. Sharyn holds a Master’s degree in French literature and language and runs Tutorcise.com.

[1] http://www.egreenway.com/yoga/heart.htm#Quotations

 

[2] Sarah Samuel- https://www.gaia.com/article/10-powerful-self-loving-mantras

 

Kajal

Mid-Winter Funk

I really loved Sharyn’s post on January 27th where she gave advice to start of the New Year right. The tips and insights were spot on and perfect to get me through my present mid-Winter funk.

February is always tough. I feel like I get through December with the holidays and it takes the next 31 days to settle in and adjust to the New Year. Once February rolls around, the deep freeze, grey skies and snowy wet weather start to wear on me. All motivation seems lost. Everything is moving at a slug-like pace. I feel like a drone punching in a clock at work (or in this case logging on and off my laptop), crossing things off my to do list, showering, eating, sleeping, waking up, repeat all over again. It’s a heavy kapha-esque feeling.

I woke up Monday morning with an urge to shake myself out of this stupor and reached for a Wild Orange essential oil. As I inhaled deeply, the vibrant scent electrified my nostrils and knocked the kapha right out of me. The bitter orange peel, bold citrus, mixed with audacious juicy flavors hit me like a lightning bolt. I was alive. It made me see sunlight again and filled my heart with warmth and joy, keeping the cold, icy claw of that mid-Winter funk away.

Walking outside this evening, as I made my way down East 47th Street, I could see the sun setting in the West, a rosy glow emanating from between the skyscrapers. It reminded me of a bright, beautiful, zesty orange and made me smile in anticipation of longer days and sunny weather.

-Kajal

Health · Kajal · Uncategorized

Setting Boundaries

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about boundaries. I clearly needed to set some with fellow yoga classmates in my last blog. This time I am just thinking about boundaries in general.

I always thought that a boundary was a negative or implied something was wrong. It meant you are closing something off or building some type of wall. Apparently, boundaries today are viewed as part of having a healthy life. And setting boundaries is a skill, but one that most of us have not learned, which makes sense why it feels so foreign to me, but keeps turning up as a theme.

But, in this new age of health and well-being, I’m learning that boundaries are good things. That having them means you know and understand what your limits are. They are the sign of a healthy relationship and giving yourself permission to put yourself and your needs first, especially at work.

It means speaking up for yourself, and not being a doormat. For instance, at physical therapy for my ankle, I was displeased with the young woman who was supposed to help me with physical activity after my therapy. Her efforts were mediocre at best and she finished up well before my time was up. I was and still am not happy about it and plan to speak to the person who runs the place.

At the very minimum, you have to speak up or politely push back without making it feel like you are pushing back, which is an art in and of itself. But, one I guess I am going to learn. Hopefully, younger generations are learning this stuff at an earlier age.

Kajal

Yoga Etiquette (or revenge is a blog best served cold)

January is over and February has started. While I went on a hiatus from blogging last month, I did continue my yoga classes…along with everyone else. January in NYC is the month of people trying to keep their New Year’s resolutions. Go to the gym, start taking yoga, so on and so forth. In addition to all the Groupons and Class Passers, you have to deal with a bunch of yoga newbies.

And since starting this blog with Rachel, I’ve always tried to stay neutral or very Zen, calling out myself more than others. So advance apologies for doing something very un-yogic and venting about some of my pet peeves when taking a yoga class.

Body odor. Stinky, stinkable B.O. I mean the ripest of the ripe that curdles your blood. A whiff here or there is one thing but when it makes your soul want to gag instead of sigh, that’s a whole other level. A few weeks back, I was in class behind a lovely gentleman whose body odor was emanating from every single pore. It took all my strength to not wretch and set my gag reflex off. I ran out of that class so fast afterwards and scrubbed the B.O. off of me.

Stagger your mats, people. For Pete’s sake, don’t stand right in the same line as the person next to you. And if you do, have the courtesy not to bang into them each time you swan dive or lift your arms in a high prayer, you might poke their eye out. Even worse, they might poke your eye out, even when they don’t want to. This is so simple, yet, I see this all the time. It drives me bonkers. If you see me with my mat laid out, please set your mat 4-6 inches behind or ahead of mine so we don’t collide. My arms and body are not tiny and petite like yours. They are long and goofy and all mine.

Don’t, I repeat, don’t, move others’ props. This is the worst offense of all. I honestly feel that I shouldn’t even have to explain this, but here goes. I was in class last month and I had two blocks and a bolster in front of my mat. The class was crowded (all those resolutions still being kept) but they were not touching anyone else’s mat. This woman who is in front of me and a little to my right has the gall right smack dab in the middle of class, to move my stuff up by her to her left. So it’s completely out of my reach. It’s not like anything was in her way or on her mat. She kept rolling down on her mat, but as long as my props are not on the mat, that’s not my problem. Argh, it gets me worked up just thinking about it. Anyways, when the teacher said it was time to get the bolster, as I went up to get my stuff, I made an audible HISS in the guilty prop mover’s direction. It was a piercing HISS that caused her to jump back a bit. I dropped my bolster down with polite, yet, solid thud. If I ever come across that prop mover again, I will say something…

-Kajal

Rachel

In a Blue Moon, Once

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Two more hours of the eclipse. We didn’t catch a glimpse of the super moon or the blood moon or any penumbral activity at all. But knowing it has been going on has given an extra charge to the day, a mystical quality.

It was quite cold as I jogged up the river and I was underdressed. My only goal was to get home as fast as possible. I noticed that because of the cold, my attention was very focused. I did not take notice of the usual things that bother me. Often I am attentive to how tired and uncomfortable I feel, of irritation at all the construction, wishing I had brought a protein bar. But this time all those irritations faded so far into the background that they were out of my awareness.

I wasn’t sure what to make of it except to remark on how powerful a strong focus can be.

Rachel

To read, perchance to dream

 

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I have had a lot more time for reading books lately. Not that I am reading luxuriously, curled up for a few hours with tea. Mostly I read on the subway and a little bit at night before going to sleep.

A few years ago we tried something I read about where everyone in the family reads separately. SQUIRT it was called in some magazine or other. Super Quiet Uninterrupted Reading Time. It never really caught on. For me it was important that everyone read books, physical books, not something on a Kindle or Ipad or phone. Why? If one is “legitimately” reading a book on a phone, why doesn’t that feel right to me? I guess I fear the person will be pinged and otherwise interrupted and tempted to scroll around and look at other stuff, won’t be immersed fully in the book. I need to be less controlling about how and what other people choose to read, however. Alex (my partner) likes to scroll around on news sites, particularly Brazilian ones. He claims to like books—and wants to hold on to all his accounts of the Hungarian Empire, counterpoint melodies and Tai Chi—but I rarely ever see him holding one. But anyway it shouldn’t matter to me what someone else chooses to read, or in what format. I need only focus on myself. I have to remind myself of this constantly.

Anyway, the reason I’m getting to read books more often is very simple—I choose them instead of scrolling around, clicking on links, checking various cites. There still are blogs I follow and I almost always read The New York Times digitally, but aimless clicking and scrolling, I am trying to avoid. It brings me so very little satisfaction, and yet for years I willing jumped down into rabbit holes rather than pick up a book. Laziness or a feeling of wanted to be connected, current, “in the know.” Somehow not having the energy to step away from the computer and push through the initial resistance that can attend opening a book. Why should there be so much resistance to something we love doing? I suppose part of it is knowing that we’ll be interrupted, and can’t read the way we want to, so instead we settle for fragmented online reading, a few minutes here, a few minutes there.

It took me a while to realize most books don’t demand so much attention that we can’t read them the same fragmented way.

Mindful decision-making brings clarity to almost every aspect of our lives.

Now step away from the computer.

 

—Rachel