June 19, 2014

Falling Out of Love with Yoga

by mandy lipka

Image

Every once in a while, it happens.

I fall out of love with my yoga practice.

And for the first few days, weeks, sometimes months, my mindfulness depletes– my glass lowers to mindless– and I start playing the “should” game. I should be breathing more and sitting less. I should increase my home practice when I can’t get to the studio. I should start meditating during the work day to alleviate stress. And so it goes…

In every meditation class I’ve taken, it’s a lesson learned. We must stop focusing on how it should feel, what we think we should happen, how often we should practice. And, you know, bring a little compassion into being mindful of ourselves. Sometimes all it takes is a moment to come back to ourselves… to our breath.

After a few weeks of more-than-usual melancholy (yes, of course, I’m feeling the effects of Merc retro), my most common stressor reared its ugly head again. I took a breath, checked the time, and realized I was only steps away from a sanctuary. To my bright-side surprise, I would make it in time for my most peaceful and wholesome yoga class.

A few things changed in the studio (including a sub) that at first, had me out of water. It only took a few deep and equal Ujjayi breaths in my beloved Supta Baddha Konasana before my breathing got deeper, longer, and the world washed away.

I set my intention: Come back to myself.

Nearly halfway through the class, it occurred to me how good this felt. My hip flexors open, my psoas juicy, my sacrum releasing deep tension. Plenty of oxytocin flowing. Damn, this feels good. So good I could feel my ladybits joining in the fun… It’s like amazing make-up sex but even more satisfying for the soul.

When you say something like [I love you] with your whole being, not just with your mouth or your intellect, it can transform the world. – Thich Nhat Hanh

As the class came to an end and I breathed into my feet up the wall, I felt a tingling in my toes, vibrations in the soles; and with a blanketing in-breath of lavender, it hit me…

Tonight, I came back to myself.

Photo credit: HalfMoonYoga.org

April 12, 2014

Mindfulness Meditation: An Infographic

by mandy lipka

One of my most influential yoga teachers shared this recently. I simply had to pass it on.

Mindfulness Infographic

Photo Credit: YogaInspiration.co

March 4, 2014

Violence Against Women: An Obstacle to Development

by mandy lipka

I can’t believe that in 2014, I’m posting about the societal dangers that threaten women’s lives across the world. Recently, I’ve been deep in academia again studying International Women’s Health & Human Rights (which is partly the reason I’ve been so quiet lately). I try to embark on a new learning experience 3-4 times per year– It’s my gift to myself that feeds my insatiable desire to learn and helps me pave this path that I’m on. This winter, I started this phenomenal course which completely opened my eyes to the huge extend of violence against women in our world. Even this digital activist who does her best to disseminate information to empower women of all ages had no comprehension of the sheer numbers. It’s overwhelming. And makes me angrier than ever.

In fact, throughout the course, I noticed that I have gone through several of the stages of grief. I believe our professor carefully places each chapter in a particular order to elicit a natural catharsis so that by the end of the course, we’re so moved we can’t think of anything but how we can act to help create a culture shift.

It’s the desire to help take part in this culture shift that keeps me going. During my often monotonous daily life, the drive allows me to feel like I’m slowly paddling my way toward my shore. You know the saying– Do what you love, love what you do. Well, I love women. I love empowered women who are fiercely dedicated to equality, education, health, and humanism. I want to help all women feel each one of these rights. But to do so, I need to gather as much knowledge as possible. I need to know just how bad it really is. And then, the healing can begin.

Violence Against Women: An Obstacle to Development

Roxanna Carrillo examines the extent of the violence, identifies a contradiction between human development and violence, and shares an understanding of the causes of violence. In her report, she also sheds light on female dependency. She writes: Continue reading

September 30, 2013

Masculine Spirituality & Forgiveness

by mandy lipka

A dear male friend is experiencing some deep suffering. Often at times, I’m at a loss for words, but he finds comfort in my listening. In a quest for some reinforcing passages and daily mindful reminders, I revisited The Hidden Spirituality of Men by Matthew Fox for guidance and found this:

Having learned to let go, the warrior does not harbor resentments or become motivated by revenge to chase after others. Forgiveness, another word for letting go, is learned drip by drip, day by day, not as an act of altruism but as a necessary cleansing of the past, a purification of our souls so we can live and function effectively in the now. The soul does not grow into its potential fullness when it harbors past hurt and turns it over and over. This is the way to grow bitterness, not soul. The warrior is committed to growing the heart and soul, not freezing it in the puny size it was yesterday or in years past. Here too discipline is needed, even sacrifice, when offering a burnt soul, a soul burnt by the betrayal of life, whether self-induced or not. The warrior learns to live beyond betrayal, neither denying it nor dwelling on it. Beyond betrayal. Beyond the pain of broken love and bleeding relationships and misunderstood communications and unfulfilled yearnings. The warrior has undergone the deep purification of longing that is the lesson learned in the schoolhouse the mystics call the dark night of the soul. He or she does not run from the darkness, but enters it, overcoming the fear of the dark as well as the fear of the light.

Universally powerful, isn’t it?

May all beings find forgiveness.

August 16, 2013

Here’s to Mindful Sexuality!

by mandy lipka

I don’t know about you, but I’m fed up with stifled sexuality. Particularly, the feminine kind. It’s time we drop the shame and continue to keep conversation open about our emotions, rights, and discoveries. Because really, as Candice Holdorf points out, this is our current reality:

  • Ah, sex. It seems like it’s all around us, huh?

  • However, the truth behind the “sexy” façade is this: sex sells, but sexuality does not

  • We are talking around sex, but never actually experiencing it

  • The erotic has much more than just the act of fucking

Take a moment to read Candice’s post and all of the juicy links in it. At the very least, watch her video at the end.

Here’s to more posts about sexuality!

May 17, 2013

Boston Gives: The Lower Leg

by mandy lipka

There’s so much on which I’ve ruminated after the Boston Marathon bombings and still I feel a need to keep silence. Everyone knows someone who was in that race. We all weren’t sure if our loved ones were safe  spectators or tragically injured. Many knew someone who died during that race.

I didn’t know Krystle Campbell personally, but I saw her often while she worked at Summer Shack. She was a dear friend of the Bukowski Tavern family and she lit up every room she entered. Karen Rand, who called Krystle her best friend, survived the bombing, but lost both her best friend and her left leg. She is also part of the same restaurant family, so the family dedicated Sunday afternoon to help raise money for the fund her sons set up through GiveForward: http://is.gd/KarenRandFund.

Continue reading

March 23, 2013

Mindful Earth Hour

by mandy lipka

Earth Hour - Costa Rica

Earth Hour is upon us again and I thought, what a perfect opportunity for a meditation practice! Join me at 8:30pm local time. Shut off the lights and sit for 60 minutes. Imagine the power that would create in the world if we did that once a month!

A few years ago, I had the electrifying chance to sit on a restaurant deck overlooking the entire city of San José, Costa Rica on March 23rd. As if the breathtaking sunset wasn’t enough, my best friend (who lived there at the time) and I watched as one by one, the city lights turned black. That hour was one I will never forget– this image of ticos captures that sentiment perfectly.

¡Salud!

March 13, 2013

Mindful Sip: Let Us Breathe

by mandy lipka

breathe

Word play is a wonderful thing. The Latin word spirare has given us not only “breathe,” but also the Latin word spiritus, which means both “breath” and “spirit.” A spiracle is a breathing hole used by dolphins and whales. So to inspire is to breathe in, and to expire is to breathe out. To transpire and to perspire are to breathe through, while to respire is to breathe again. To suspire (ever hear that one?) is to breathe from below, as in “to sigh.” To aspire is simply to breathe. Try connecting these ideas with the general idea of “spirit,” too; it’s an interesting thought experiment. Conspire, as you might imagine, is to breathe together. Let us breathe.

Phenomenal insights from a nameless meditation classmate. Definitely one to consider during practice.

March 5, 2013

March: The Month of Self-Love

by mandy lipka

It’s wise to direct our intentions toward accomplishing real goals now instead of aiming toward unreachable ideals. The Moon’s shift into powerful Scorpio helps us find the resources we need to be successful. Significant gains are likely if we’re willing to work for what we want.

March has begun. And what an exciting month it is! It’s Women’s History Month (which includes International Women’s Day on the 8th), National Nutrition Month, and my birthday month. And spring– a symbol of nature’s rebirth– is only weeks away. So, in honor of these occasions, I’ve officially launched my month of self-love. It’s a small tribute to myself and our mother. Continue reading

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