Rock and Roll Yogi

sonic wisdom, stories, sojourns from an artist rocker writer

Archive for the tag “Yoga Across America”

The Yogi Who Fell To Earth, Yoga Month – and, The Thirsty Alien Mind Cure…

Inhale, Exhale.  Sigh.  Yaaaawn.  Still trying to find my breathing apparatus flow over here.  Just getting up.  The mental is a little slow today, despite Almost Husband’s painstakingly complex scientific strong coffee making ritual.  Long night of various cats and dogs taking turns burrowing in the covers, human and canine snoring, dreams – nightmares? – of water drainage yard issues, wedding guest lists (not to mention where, what, when?), visions of patios and walls sinking into mud, then waking up in the wee hours and being led half awake into the living room by the sounds of Ira’s insomniac TV watching adventure, The Man Who Fell To Earth.

I’d like to fall to Earth.  Feel a little more human, less humanoid.  And drink more water. (Movie reference, IMDB it).  But really, drink more water, its good for you.  Lately I’ve been reaching a little too much into the worry stratosphere, my breathing getting lost in arbitrary thoughts, concerns, what if’s.  Hmmm.

There’s a lot going on this month – preparing for a CD release show in November, work is picking up, writing, promoting, house reno.  All the things to do are swirling around like the tree branches outside my window right now. Feels like there’s no rhyme or reason.  Just swirl.  I’d like to say I can control the wind.  But sometimes we need to just let that swirling be;  Things will calm down eventually.  Even though it is scary. We cling, we want.  We thirst. I try to focus on now.  Try to detach a little more.  This is part of my daily yoga practice.  It has nothing to do with Down Dog, Child’s Pose, Triangle.

Which brings me to Yoga Month.  Is this the beginning of a new Hallmark Holiday: Cards for loved ones that tell them to “Just Breathe”?.  Flowers with cards that say “Just stop and smell the roses”?  I was just going about my weekly yoga teaching, when suddenly I noticed it everywhere – yoga class discounts, community yoga activism, articles in my local Natural Awakenings magazine…When did this happen? Why September?  And just, Why?

I could be cynical and go on about corporate yoga land’s efforts at promoting and selling yoga products and such – and in some ways, for any business person, a month focussing on such things can only help the bottom line.  I wish though, that the name of this new month of __________ (Insert your Bottom Line Here) would be a little more descriptive, more proactive.  Less VAGUE. Less room for the cynics.

Some ideas: “Fall Back to Earth” month? “Help your Neighbor” month. “Be Kind to Yourself” month. And so on.  Weirdly, when I launched this blog in early September, I dubbed September “Pay it Forward” Month.

I like it.  That sums it up for me right now. That’s my RIGHT NOW bottom line.  I want to bring yoga MIND into action.  This not only helps me get out of my own Thirsty Alien Mind (Too much clinging, too much desiring, too much disconnection, too much upper stratosphere reaching), but gets me moving, connecting. giving back.

There are great organizations out there that are doing such things – like Yoga Across AmericaThe Yoga Health Foundation, and etc.  I’m learning about new ones everyday.  My idea is not an original one.  And its being done on a much smaller scale.

But for me, giving back in a small yet direct, intimate way is most gratifying right now. Kind of like how it feels when I perform and can feel the audience connecting, receiving, opening.  Dare I say, even transforming.  I launched my Pay it Forward Campaign to help a fellow musician and aspring yogi take her next step by going to yoga school.

Helping Shelley this month has been a cure for my Thirsty Alien Mind (TAM) like no other. Knowing that all the promotion, the work, the worry, has been to ease someone else’s burdens – and to help birth another healer, has been so beautiful a process for me.  Thank you to all near and far in my life who have donated your energy/$$.  We thank you.  Shelley has made her downpayment at Kripalu – and now needs to raise the rest of the funds to actually get her in the door (and have someplace to sleep).

TONIGHT at 8PM I am performing my original music as part of this process – and will donate all proceeds to Shelley’s yoga school fund.  Read about the show here!

Ahhh.  The winds have died down.  There.  I feel a little bit better.  My breath is back.  I’m ready to birth this baby and go out walking with Hazel.  A little walking meditation never hurt anyone.

Earth is closer than I thought.

When Ego Gets a little Crazy, Reach Beyond The Self – Or,

…How to Play Music in the Dark, Tune a Broken Guitar in front of a large crowd, and Be OK with Other Major and Minor Technical Mishaps…

Ahhhhhh.  Can we all breathe a collective sigh of _____________?!  Yes.  Let it go people.

Summer is winding down.  September is here.

Its That Feeling of – “Uh, oh, Its time for me to really (Insert your Goal Chart/Vision Board, or List of Things to Get Done, or Pile of Bills, Here).”  Here.  How on earth did we get Here?!  Summer flew by.  And man have I been flying every which way.

I’m trying to be oh so Cool and Grounded about it all. But lately, it’s been “One of those weeks” – Dare I say, one of those Summers.  A whole lotta work, rallying, family obligations, running around, practicing, writing, cleaning, teaching, animal tending, fundraising, marketing, commuting.  Bickering with AH (Almost Husband) on the State of Things House. Lots of things I love, Yes. But Lots of Busy-ness to make it Manifest. It’s the nature of work.  Even partying has become a little tiring.  I LOVE connecting and meeting new folks, but when my own inner well is down to a few droplets, I need a vacation from it all.  But that’s not been reality.  So I’m pushing through.

This push through anyway thing has unfortunately (and naturally) gotten me a little out of whack.

Ego -The thing that has nothing to do with pure Katie (Insert Your Name Here)-ness – has gotten the better of me this week.  She just won’t leave me alone, just won’t let me be.

She’s become a strange, mean little cartoonish creature following me around from room to room, gig to gig, yoga pose to yoga pose.  She says:

“Haha!, what’s up with those extreme dust bunnies in the bedroom messing with The Romance and Love Feng Shui, mingling with Large Dog hairs and Cat hairs into a Super Nova Power Allergen Ball of Hell?  Get with the Cleaning Program Now or Forever be Blocked by Furry Anti-Chi Balls”.  Sigh.  Vacuuming has seen better days.

OR,

“Yogi Chick, get on the mat and breathe.  Stop all this Life Stuff.  You need your Yoga, and your Yoga needs you.  Down Dog is waiting.”  But then when I get there, my body hurts, my pains and aches start screaming.  “Haha!” says EvilEgoElevitch – “You are being punished for lack of Practice!  How dare you Abandon Yourself like this!”  So much for Yoga being a path to happiness.

AND THEN,

“Girl, what is UP with your hands flopping all over the guitar neck like you’ve never played a Chord in your Life?!  Get it Together!  What are you – A Beginner?! I mean, ALL THOSE YEARS OF VOICE LESSONS, and you’ve got weird posture and a frog in your throat, those high notes have seen better days.”  The Triple E has a way with me sometimes. I really hope my audiences this week didn’t hear that one as I humbly worked my way through songs in the dark.

The Darkness.  Well, that’s a loaded term.  We’ve all been there in some way or another. There will always be more to say on this.

But actually, this week I really did play, sing and try to connect to my audience in the dark.

The venue was outdoors (the lovely Art Café in Nyack, NY), and although there were petite lanterns peppered about, I found myself not really seeing my sheet music, my lyrics, and, well, my hands on my guitar.  Nor could I see my lovely fans.  And I wondered: Could they see me?  We were swimming in sound in the dark.  And it appears I was the one creating the sound.  Although at times, I wasn’t even sure about that.

The week leading up to this gig I had had a vision of an outdoor silken summer night of easy breezy communing under the full moon with friends and fans.  Instead, time slogged by as if I was sorta not there.  Cuz I wanted it to feel like something I’d envisioned. Not something that it was. I wanted out of reality.  Tsk, tsk, Katie. Reality. This. Is all there Is.

My intention as always, was to connect.  Yet, although I was singing out into the open air under the stars, within my own heart, I was unraveling with Mind.  Tension.  Disconnect.

Those of you who are performers or teachers might know this moment – when the inner and the outer just won’t match no matter how hard we try.  It’s a hard thing to explain to non-performers.  Because maybe to them, things seemed a little off, but still “good”, “fun”, “fine”.

To us, we are lost in some limbo of – “Why couldn’t I just get in the flow?”.

And those moments are magic.  I will be sharing some of those moments in this blog too in future posts…2012 brought me many of those moments thankfully.  And I am truly grateful when it does happen.

I try to help my students find this flow.  I use imagery, music, pacing, movement.  Breath.  But ultimately, there’s some crazy letting go that must happen in order for it to all come together.  And I can’t make you get there.  Nor, can I make myself.

Getting there requires – even demands – no effort at all.  Huh? So how do I “DO” that!?

Time to face off with that Ego.  That “to do” should be first on that list as we enter into even busier times this fall.

Creepy Ego Creatures exist simply to keep us from that flowing joy that we feel when we know we are in the zone.

Hear her out, be amused, even angered by her insistence, but then freakin’ let that stuff go.  It does not have to win.

Easier said than done, I know people.  This is an on-going process, not a step 1-2-3 simple check it off your list kind of task.  It takes practice.

What has helped me this Summer and now, this September, to ultimately stay out of my tension, my EEE, and into my flow, is to actually get out of my Self Focus altogether.  As AH gently reminds: Katie, you are a little TOO self aware, sometimes.

So what do we do?

Pay it forward.  Do Unto Others.  Help Others Find their Flow.  Leave your own mind and take action.  Bring that intention of connection and push outwards into the space around you, feeling that in whatever you do.  Maybe it’s noticing a neighbor in need, and taking action.  AH spent his Labor Day holiday helping Chad and family re-grade their driveway.  AH is more of a Yogi than he realizes.

Or, notice and help an older person at the store, open a door, smile, engage from a heartfelt place.  It doesn’t take much to get outside of our selves and back into that flow by connecting to others.

I jump started this way of being yesterday by performing at a fundraiser at the wonderful new Union Arts Center in Sparkill, NY to help raise $ for Yoga Across America – an organization that brings yoga to veterans for healing and stress reduction.  Wow. You will hear more on this topic as the blog progresses this year.

Once I started my set, my voice lifted with emotion as I sang a few songs about my Dad who was a WWII Vet. I felt connected again to my music and sound.  I could see folks nodding their heads and tapping their feet.  I think I’m onto something a little voice murmured as I continued just flowing.

Somehow I got there, even though, a few minutes before, I stood talking to the crowd trying to tune a guitar that has finally reached a point of non-tuning.  She needs a total re-string, neck adjustment. Ugh, not now, I thought as I muttered, sputtered, apologized, as I turned knobs and adjusted capos.  I was flustered, but all I needed was just enough alignment to get me to where I knew I could go.  Finally, although the crowd had lost hope and began distractedly chatting, my guitar cooperated.  Was this the perfect, seamless, professional introduction I had in mind?  No.

Did I overcome that moment and trust the next moment was a new reality?  Yes.

I still am kicking myself a little for not taking better care of my guitar, but in the end, despite all those visible and invisible technical gaffs firing off in my brain, trying to keep me from joy and flow, I salvaged enough wisdom and courage to allow my voice to soar out into the open room and potentially touch someone else in need of soothing.

For that lesson, I am grateful.  Namaste.

Please read more about my Pay It Forward Campaign to help another Rock and Roll Yogi like me realize her dreams of becoming a Yoga Teacher – “Get Shelley To Yoga School” on GoFundMe.com, a fundraising collaboration between RockandRollYogi.com and Shelley Nicole Jefferson, reiki healer, band leader, musician and aspiring yogi.

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