i see ashley

Close both eyes
to see with the other eye.
- Rumi

What part of this can I do?

—Ana Forrest

Half Way to Wherever My Heart Desires

I’ve hit the half way mark. Technically, I’m 50 % of a yoga teacher. It’s an odd feeling when I stop to think about it. I don’t know if my cup of yoga is half full or half empty, though probably that analogy doesn’t apply in this scenario.  There is a natural pause when you come to the middle of anything…half way up a mountain, half way through a book, or perhaps after eating half of a chocolate bar. Do you keep going? Do you need to taste the rest of it? Is it safer to turn around? Would you rather the story not end? Sitting on my yoga mat in my studio apartment, I feel an overwhelming desire to take a deep breath.

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Looking back, staring down the mountain, I am in awe of what I’ve learned and experienced thus far in my training. The past five, twenty-hour weekends spent with my fellow trainees have been filled with technical knowledge and intuitive wisdom.  My brain, body and spirit are tingling with knowing. Most of which I can’t even begin to articulate, but I know my subconscious is hoarding it hungrily.

My eyes look to what’s in front of me and in this moment there is hesitancy as to where I am going.  Though I know there is no way I’m turning back (this path is just too darn juicy), I can see the mountain is high. A cloud inversion wraps around the peak, obstructing my view of the top. So many unknowns lie ahead of me. I can only see the next immediate step.

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The funny thing is…I don’t think I’ll ever reach “it” and honestly I’m not sure there is a peak on this ridge.  I can’t foresee this path plateauing. I am reminded of something my yoga teacher in Portugal once told me. “The best part about the practice of yoga,” he said, “is that it never comes to an end.”

You will never know all there is to know about yoga and who really cares. I am perfectly happy on the trail I’m on.  It’s a damn fine one, full of little treasures. I’m even nervous that if I move too quickly, I might miss something. I’m just so grateful I found this path, my path and can read the markers clearly enough to stay on it.

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I watched a Ted Talk recently of Diana Nyad. She’s the woman who swam 100 miles from Cuba to Florida. It took her 5 attempts over the course of 35 years to finally complete the swim at the age of 64. Not only is Diana a powerhouse of a woman, she’s also an inspiring and compelling speaker. I also realized…she is a journeyer. Sure, she strongly believes in never ever giving up. But in her quest, she also realized, it wasn’t about achieving the goal, of reaching the peak, of touching the Floridian coastline. It was about understanding that, “every day of our lives is epic.” She trained, she loved and enjoyed each day and continues to embody her appreciation of the moment.  

Is it possible to be too focused on the journey? Sometimes I forget what my goal even is, or if I even have one. At the moment, I am training to become a yoga teacher. I will hit my first mogul and receive my certification in just two and a half short months. Then what do I do?  What’s been interesting about the training and the transformation I am experiencing is that it is showing me what I am capable of doing. And, the answer is endless. With awareness, I am truly capable of just about anything. I don’t say that light heartedly. I mean, I fully embody this realization.  People use to say this to me all the time before I made big changes to my life. “You can do whatever your heart desires,” they would say.  Now I know what that feels like in my body. I can do WHATEVER MY HEART DESIRES!

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So, where shall I exert my energy? At the moment, I’m continuing to learn and test my skills as an evolving teacher. I’ve even coerced my friends into letting me teach them a class this Sunday (let’s just hope they keep breathing). Half way through the training, I have also recommitted to my own personal practice in yoga, pranayama and meditation. And, as per my teacher’s request, I found it quite helpful to take time to reflect on my ethics and core values. Reconnecting with these principles is helping me make choices and decide how to live, where to go, and what to do.

I’d like to share them to encourage others to take the time to do the same, reconnect and recommit with what you really value in life. This week I’m looking at applying my values to how I want to be as a teacher with my students in my community. Perhaps you too can evaluate whether or not your moral code is transferring into other areas of your life…with work, family, and in community.

My Values…

1. To live an authentic life where I can be truly myself in any place or situation, honoring my Path in Life.

2. To be open and willing to change with grace, embracing the magic and gifts that change brings both within myself and in the world around me. Find balance and accept both joy and suffering.

3. To recognize and cherish the understanding that we are all connected - all beings, plant and animal - and most especially, we are all one with Spirit. Honor the Divine that lives within each of us.

4. To remember not to take Life too seriously - there is no need for comparison or judgment – it’s all a game - so have fun!

5. To love deeply and from the heart - cultivating conscious and honest communities that reflect this love back into the world.

6. To face each new day with a “beginner’s mind” embracing the unknown, remembering this in being both a teacher and a student in this lifetime.

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“The really important thing is not to live, but to live well. And to live well meant, along with more enjoyable things in life, to live according to your principles.” - Socrates

Education consists mainly of what we have unlearned.

—Mark Twain

Let go. Even the light you love, this too is not yours to keep. Let it all go and be free.  (at Nokomis Beach, Florida)

Let go. Even the light you love, this too is not yours to keep. Let it all go and be free. (at Nokomis Beach, Florida)

Once upon a time…I was a blonde. #memorylane (at Mom’s House)

Once upon a time…I was a blonde. #memorylane (at Mom’s House)

Until we meet again #Bali, endless gratitude for all the love, fruit, yoga & friends! #24hoursofflyinghereicome

Until we meet again #Bali, endless gratitude for all the love, fruit, yoga & friends! #24hoursofflyinghereicome

Siesta time with Ganesh. (at Indus)

Siesta time with Ganesh. (at Indus)

Every yogi needs a cool down…taking a spirited break (at Bali Spirit Festival)

Every yogi needs a cool down…taking a spirited break (at Bali Spirit Festival)

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder,
You get your fill to eat but always keep that hunger,
May you never take one single breath for granted,
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed,
I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance… I hope you dance…

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance,
Never settle for the path of least resistance,
Livin’ might mean takin’ chances, but they’re worth takin’,
Lovin’ might be a mistake, but it’s worth makin’,
Don’t let some Hell bent heart leave you bitter,
When you come close to sellin’ out reconsider,
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

I hope you dance… I hope you dance.
I hope you dance… I hope you dance.
(Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along,
Tell me who wants to look back on their years
and wonder where those years have gone.)

I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean,
Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance,
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance.

Dance… I hope you dance.
I hope you dance… I hope you dance.
I hope you dance… I hope you dance.
(Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along,
Tell me who wants to look back on their years
and wonder where those years have gone.)

—Lee Ann Womack, “I Hope You Dance”

Temple not for Rent

Nearly one week into my Indo trip and I am still decompressing from travel, transitioning from living a Cali five-lane highway kind of life to a Bali back road scooter way. I can feel this “downsizing” in every cell of my body and I know my load is lifting day by day.  When I booked my two-week trip, I remember thinking, ‘The timing is perfect! I’ll just hop on over to Indonesia, have a rad time and cruise back home, easy peasy.’ While I am overjoyed to be in arms of Asia’s warming sun and smiles (as evidenced by the beauty in the pictures below), I find myself reflecting on the effects of transitions. I am discovering while it is fairly easy to find yourself half way around the world, transitions can affect your physical, emotional and even spiritual self on levels you might not even be aware of.

Kuta, Lombok, Indonesia

Over dinner last night I expressed my surprise over the time it has taken me to settle into this new place (especially for a veteran Southeast Asia traveler like myself.)  I shared how I was feeling a depletion of energy, even lack of creativity to the point where neurons seemed to be firing at a slower rate. I simply felt drained. Aware of what “little” I had done that day, there didn’t seem to be cause for my lack of energy.  My travel companion and dear friend Valerie chimed in with her astute knowledge of energy, “You are probably going through an adrenaline purge.”  Adrenaline what? “Your body needs to release the nasty byproduct of having too much adrenaline in it,” she said as a matter of fact. But I’m not one of those ‘adrenaline junkies’ addicted to Cross-Fit, nor have I been living a particularly high stressed lifestyle, I thought to myself. As Val continued to share her knowledge of adrenaline, it appears even highway driving can cause adrenaline to be pumped through the body. 

Immediately, I began to reflect on all the seemingly little things we experience everyday in Western culture that cause us to have heightened sensitivity and be on alert…driving, alarm clocks, deadlines, even certain decision making.  Too much adrenaline can have negative side effects on our organs and can also result in extreme “lows” after experiencing such a high. I had no idea how destabilizing and harmful unnecessary adrenaline is on the body. Nor had I realized how accustomed I was to the feeling of adrenaline in my own body. My recent transition from a more stress induced, adrenaline-filled, Western state of being, to a more calm, balanced, Eastern, albeit vacation lifestyle has shown me just how drastic this change is on the body, mind and spirit. Even though I consider myself a conscious yogini, living a healthy and fairly stress-free lifestyle in the Bay Area, I do in fact have an ever so slight addiction to adrenaline.  This addiction exists purely because adrenaline in my body keeps me safe and functioning in this type of environment. Over the five short months I had been back in the States, adrenaline had become my go-to state of normalcy.

Laying on Mawan beach in Lombok, watching the waves roll into shore my Self is able to relax, calmly and freely. My lethargy may be part jet-lag, part sun induced, but I also agree with Valerie, it is part my body detoxing.  I have found new affirmation for the importance of taking time out of your day to be still and come back to center.

Mawi Beach, Lombok, Indonesia

Not only does taking a break and experiencing a peaceful setting provide you with the opportunity to detox, purging old matter and even behaviors you no longer need, but it also leaves you open to experiencing something new. This openness happens the moment you step on the plane, train or automobile taking you to your place of refuge. As an open being ready for new experiences ahead, you are also open to any energies that cross your path. Bare with me now…I’m going to take you for a journey down energy lane.

My first full day in Indonesia I noticed a red splotch on my thigh. A lover of bananas (I hear a mosquito’s wet dream), it was of no surprise to see they had found me.  What appeared to be a nasty bug bite surprisingly didn’t itch. When the spot persisted 3 days later, I began to second-guess my mosquito verdict. After two more days of perplexed quandary, dear Valerie came to my trouble-shooting rescue.  One by one we crossed potential leads of the mystery spot list and were left with ringworm. I know I got the heebee jeebees too, but truth be told, ringworm isn’t a worm, it’s a fungus. To validate our hypothesis, utilizing her ‘Light/Heavy’, Truth-Telling, Access Consciousness skills, she asked, “Truth, is the stuff on Ashley’s leg ringworm?” The resulting energy felt light and thus the answer was, “yes.”  Ringworm, how in the world did I get that?!  And so Valerie asked, “Truth, is the ringworm Ashley’s?” The energy that followed was heavy. The ringworm wasn’t actually mine!? I had apparently taken on the healing for someone else. What this means is I never actually came in contact with the fungus. My open and empathetic vessel decided it was going to work through the healing process for another person. Now, I’m all for helping others, but I’ve got enough on my plate and my own healing to do. I am not the martyr that desires to heal others and definitely not through my body. This temple is mine… for me to keep comfy and clean to house my own soul. It is not for rent.

Valerie and I, Lombok, Indonesia

On one level I didn’t ask for the ringworm, but on another I did leave myself unguarded. Excited for travel and open to possibilities, I neglected to protect myself from what does not serve me. I desire to be free, but that doesn’t mean I will allow myself to be used. Freedom comes with responsibility. What I am learning is that I have a responsibility to my Self to take good care of me. This means listening and honoring what it is I need and desire. If it’s to be still and let the adrenaline aftermath pour out of me, then I won’t sign up to trek a mountain that day. If responsibility means setting boundaries and clearing energy that is not mine on a daily basis, then I’ll dedicate time to protecting this temple of “Me-dom.”

Tomorrow I am taking a class in Access Consciousness, to learn to deeper connect with my Truth and clear energy. Stay tuned, for I will hopefully understand a bit more of what it is I am actually writing about right now. Until then, I see no harm in asking, “What is the source of this feeling or emotion?” You never know, it could be just what your body needs to be experiencing, or it could be someone else’s baggage dumped on to your lap.

Inquire within.

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