manifesting more through meditation in the new year

A healthy retreat

Life is noisy; we need mental rest, just as much as we need physical rest. How would you act if you spent a week without sleep? Could you function at your best? Some of us are spending weeks, months, even years, wide awake, in our thoughts, with little space for mental rest. Our minds are occupied with ideas and thoughts, almost constantly, if we do not intentionally retreat. Just as you might schedule a yearly vacation, it is important to carve out time for mindfulness vacations each day. Just five or ten minutes of mental hiatus everyday increases clarity, focus, and productivity. We deserve space to restore and nourish our mind, just as we do our body.

“True meditation is about being fully present with everything that is–including discomfort and challenges. It is not an escape from life…but preparation for being in life.”

Achieve balance

A balance of off and on, stillness and movement, activity and rest, give and take, openness and reservation, individuality and community is healthy. It gifts us variety. It allows us to inhabit the duality of being human. Meditation invites us back to the middle ground, the space between, the short pause within each breath–the inhale and exhale. On a molecular and energetic level, meditation offers us a doorway back into our home, back to ourself, back to neutrality, back to center. In stride with the times when your heart beats slower and your breath smooths out its wrinkles.
Balance is the invitation to peace.
Our true state of being–before interaction, circumstance, life on earth, communication with others, opinions, worldly imprints, trauma and comparison–is spiritual balance.

When we return there, we return home.

Overcome fears and unhealthy thought patterns

Meditation is a therapeutic method of healing. Inevitably, life circumstances get us down, sometimes. We have all experienced incidents that left us hurt and disappointed. Because of disappointment, we build barriers as a protective mechanism, yet those same fear-induced walls can also inhibit us from stepping into our purpose, fully. Limiting thoughts are a pattern, a habit; it takes intentionality to break habitual negative speech and minimizing self-talk. We all have amazing, unique talents and callings. Through meditation, we lift the veil covering the unloving parts of ourself that need self-work. In absence of denial, we identify our unreleased tension/trauma/triggers. In this state, we afford ourselves more grace. In meditation, we unpack our experiences in a way that encourages compassion and tenderness. Meditation leads our steps into beautiful, abundant visions meant specifically for each of us.

We are what we repeatedly do (think). Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.

Creates an altered awareness of self

Through meditation, we practice the art of observation. When we experience triggers that awaken past hurts and disappointments, there is a tendency to allow our reactive emotions the right to our following actions. In meditation, we spend time consciously and intentionally viewing our thoughts from a third-person-like vantage point. As opposed to experiencing our thoughts and emotions only as obligatory expressions that we must take action on, we can see them for what they are: reactive, sometimes illogical gateways that perpetuate pain cycles. Meditation allows us to move from a space of insight and curiosity about who we are, how we feel, how best to interact with others and what we might need.

“Learn to watch your drama unfold while at the same time knowing you are more than your drama.”

Move from a place of intention as opposed to emotion

We are designed to survive, and we have the choice to thrive. When discomfort, uncertainty and fear arise, our body is built to operate in fight or flight. In an intelligent way, our nervous system is created to protect us. Though, at times, our mind is incredibly erroneous in the way it perceives and evaluates social circumstances. Therefore, the stories our mind tells our body can be 1.) extremely exaggerative or 2.) completely untrue.
So often, we are triggered into fight or flight when there is another, better way. We truly decide more logically and effectively when we work from a space of mindfulness and meditation, as opposed to raw emotion and fear. Through meditation, we invite presence.

“Presence is a state of inner spaciousness.”

Let us manifest more in this new year. Let us step into our purpose fully. Let us find intentional time and space to be.

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where the palms and the pines intertwine: a love story

Houston, TX. November 2019.

Another trip back. To abundance and grounding. The future and past. The realizations and proclamations. The shortcomings and victories. The regression and growth.

A trip back to check out and simultaneously, check in and check up. It has been a long season. One with highs and lows, both career wise and relationally. We come back–back to Houston, at the end of every Autumn. No signs of the dewy summer, a crisp, chill in the evening air. An organic tradition. An invitation to cuddle up together, to debrief, to take a load off–to get more vulnerable.

The abundance of love, affection, history, heartbreak, uncertainty, joy, celebration…did I mention, Love? And a lot of it. It is heartfelt and genuine; sometimes, it is messy. Periodically, our passion seeps from unhealed wounds.

The duality of these trips. In space and time. Certain circumstances hit and trigger, by surprise. Then, tears fall with joy and gratitude just moments later. Being human means living in paradox. With passing years, the more comfortable I get with it. Living in a world that will leave you blissful and disappointed in the same inhale. When a situation can conjure up tears of pity and sadness and gratitude that intermingle so that you cannot decipher which emotion is falling from your face.

And being in love–that shows me the best parts of humanity, and it makes me recognize what I need to change in myself.

Traveling.

The meaning laced within each drive through the open roads, countrysides and cotton fields, decorated by wild flowers. Wild flowers that live in the dirt, and those that live in a half-drank water bottle, symbolic of the beauty I wanted to savor.

The grounding into our relationship, our connections, our values, what is truly important. It is the settling after a storm. Dropping of confetti after the pop. The stillness after a gust of wind. The last grain of sand sliding through my fingertips. It is the knowledge of who we are dancing with the freedom to be who we are destined to be. For one another, for our family, for our parents, for our grandchildren.

Now, it is the ground, the soil in which my daughter is rooted deeply. The ground she prances over, with her tip-toe run. The flowerbeds she rummages through in search of nothing to find countless somethings. The origin of the blades of grass she delicately plucks from her grandmother’s yard.

Her existence is intertwined with our relationship, our past experiences, and our enduring love story. She is her father’s child and her dad grew up here. In the figurative and the literal. He grew into this family, into this city, into these circles. It all hits so differently now that we have her. I stand in awe of everything Texas and bloodlines have brought to us.

All of the blessings, and just as importantly, all of the heartaches we did not see as blessings; yet and still, they truly are. The places where we have hurt the most have taught us the greatest lessons. How is it that pain can be our wisest teacher? I am blessed by everything this life with him has brought to me.

My partner. My love for a lifetime. A seed-bearer. A water-bearer. My spirit guide. My best friend. My protector. My Home.

The first person who was safe. The only one who showed me extensive loyalty, aside from my brother. I can be who I want to, who I need to, who I was made to be. That is the type of love I wish for everyone. Are there issues? Sure. Humans have issues. That is in our fiber make-up. What issues are worth the time though?

I just finished this book Crazy Little Thing Called Marriage … it has me thinking. When we fight, we fight for peace. How are we bringing glory to our disagreements? Not just to squabble, but to resolve. Not to win, but to conquer as a couple. Not just to self-satisfy, but to make God content.

And, he has brought me to this place of knowing God, deeper. He has encouraged me to know myself, better. He has wrapped me up and comforted me when all I did was push away. He leans in, even when I have leaned out. He listens to my intuition and is courageous in his own pursuits.

My man will lift my chin to turn my eyes up when I am depleted, because he actually cares. Nurture resounds within his spirit.

He reminds me of who I am in the eyes of God when I lose touch. The type of friend I pray to be. The loyalty and love through action is impeccable, even when verbal affirmations fall short. He is the grounded visionary perfectly coupled with a lofty dreamer.

And we have grown as differently as The Pine and The Palm. If you have ever been to Houston, you know these two trees stand prominently, on each corner of every street; you can find one or the other.

We speak a different love language, and family language, and body language, and any other language and still…we love one another, immensely. We have a pact to keep loving each other, better and better, as we get to know ourselves more and more, to fall in love again and again.

And it has not been easy. It can be uncomfortable. To trust someone. To trust yourself, fully. To step into your worth completely. To be depended upon. To embrace what you deserve–the gift of love and happiness and peace. Without drama and mystery, some of us falsely question our relevance and power. I have been there in the past, but here and now:

I feel…

Pure and sensual.

Confident and humble.

Desired and cherished.

Free and accountable.

As one is evergreen, the other sprouts new leaves from the top of the tree, while the remaining ones fan and fall, turning brown as they droop to the ground. The Pine has fine needles and cones, as The Palm has tough, broad greenery. This place is where they meet, in perfect harmony.

With vastly different appearances, varied attributes and unique characteristics, they still thrive in the same city, the same environment.

Surely, The Palm and The Pine originated from two particular places, with needs specific to their homeland. Still, they have the ability to sustain and flourish in this environment, together, side by side.

I remember times of mutual revelation. The times when we knew we will remember this encounter, forever. When we locked eyes and saw the importance of a particular moment. When the ‘right’ words danced gracefully across our lips. I can recollect the episodes when tears welled and desperately begged us are you ten toes deep in this?

The Palm is vibrant in its expression, tall with much to bare. The Pine is full and dark and rich. We smell it before we see it. The Palm’s nature forces us to look up in admiration, while The Pine makes a subtle appearance that can be enjoyed on eye-level.

We are as different as Palm and Pine, yet we grow together and complement one another. We balance each other in the way we play off our strengths and hold each other up in our weaknesses. It was–we are created in that way.

Staying here, I see the beauty. The beauty that grows so readily, so effortless. Fertile soil produces healthy trees that bear good fruit. It is my prayer that we continue to turn over the soil, to plant seeds in the most optimal spaces of our life as a trio.

I imagine the palms and the pines have roots under this city that perfectly intertwine. Many seem old; as old as my love’s life. To think that he drove past, looked up at, played under, ran toward, jumped up to touch the leaves of these trees. I sit underneath, reading and writing, thinking of how his energy lives in this place. His family’s energy is within this dirt and dust, in an eternal way that sustains beyond recognition or physical form.

If one tree is extracted, uprooted with entangled roots, isn’t the other bound to feel the effects? If one tree is pulled up from the ground while intermingled and wrapped within the roots of another, the tree left standing still shows signs of distress and unrest. The welfare of dancing trees.

No matter where we go, the blood, the love, the sweat and the tears will live here. It has passed on here. It exceeds the earthly, human things. The connections that have connected us with one another and our destinies are God gifted– perfectly proportioned and prompted. It is not of us, but of The Source.

Every light time, dark time and in between time. Every ray of sun and lurking shadow, every storm cloud and rainbow has created us to be the people and parents we are, right now. For our daughter and for ourselves. We take each other’s hands and trace back to the hurts of our past, together. That is our hope and prayer. To let God in each day like the sunshine through our window, to grow our hearts, to love each other and the world better.

The Pine and The Palm.

Dhāraṇā: focus

Dhāraṇā: holding steady, single focus, holding

The importance of having a clear vision, a vocal point. The importance of telling our story to express our intention and our ‘why’.

This last week has been bountiful. The universe and god have shown us blessings and abundance, again and again. Aniya’s first birthday is my first reflective birth-day as a mother. My rebirth of being human. An event that transforms you and shifts your gaze, instantaneously. Women never return from motherhood and for me, the times before have blurred. 

I meditated and prayed over new goals, looked toward new beginnings, manifested new endeavors, welcomed new intentions. I did feel like the sun was setting on certain opportunities and rising on others……

Sunday morning came, and I lost my job. Woah. 

Ya know when you seek clarity and guidance but it comes in a way you weren’t expecting? A way you were not hoping for? A way you initially hoped not? Uncertainty that left a sense of fear and unrest?

I was shown clearly and abruptly exactly what I should not be doing, but I was scrambling to reason with the universe/god… like no, but not in this way! 

The solid job that was bringing in that extra income to give us more stability. The job that uncovered my creativity. The one that allowed me to stay at home with Aniya and work while she napped. The job that gave me many more opportunities to lead than I had expected. 

The job that was starting to become comfortable, usual, routine. 

My boss called to lay me off. Blessedly so, she also believes in transparency, clear intention and explaining the ‘why’, while leaving space for questions. She gracefully and thoroughly explained her reasoning, which is really beside the point.

My heart sank, my eyes welled, my throat pinched together in the back of my neck. My pride fell in a heap. I felt my ego making up stories to cope with my disappointment.

The soft realization came over me, “Kristen. This is for your good.”

I went from the high of my daughter’s first birthday to the low of losing a job that I really loved. 

This weekend brought unadulterated joy. Our families traveled to us–we were gathered under one roof for the first time, ever. Our baby girl had a great entrance into ONE. Her future is bright. So, I reflect on my own. 

Sometimes, being a mom is unfairly synonymous with boundless sacrifice. Boundary-less matriarchs in familial relationships have been glorified. The type that will put her passions on the back-burner because as a girl, that equated to deeper love *a toxic mindset* I just don’t get with. 

Aniya is a girl that already dreams and aspires, and if my prayers are answered— she will think BIG. So how will she know how that looks? Who will she look to for examples? me

It is my responsibility to prioritize goals and passions, along side being a mother so I can exemplify the qualities I want her to embody. 

Quarreling over things out of our control, and stressing about what is to come from change is smallminded.

I almost got caught in it.

It steals our energy and drains our joy. It distracts our focus and minimizes us to what we perceive we can’t do instead of confidently claiming all we can do.

So, to start this week, I had choices. 

I could wallow away my time, listening to the false stories made up to cope with my disappointments or I can feel all of the emotions and then, release them. 

I could channel my energy of anger and resentment of time spent or I can see the amazing lessons that I learned during that valuable time in my life, then release it. 

I could stress and strain over the finances lost or I can focus (Dhāraṇā) my energy on my ‘next’. My next opportunity, my next business endeavor, my next brilliant idea. 

I could react based solely off of my emotion or I can leave space to feel, then act with a level-head, a full heart and a free spirit. 

I could get lost in the ‘what ifs’ or ‘could have beens’ or I can stand fully in the reality of right now, acceptant and ready to receive my next blessing. 

These were all my choices. 

So, on Monday, when I would have been curating posts and captions, my time was spent gathering and organizing. I spent hours with the material for my 4-week prenatal yoga session (there is a virtual course available). 

It was clear, now. I needed the time. I needed that energy. These soon-to-be-mommas deserved that much from me. And I deserved that much from myself. I hadn’t realized how thin I was stretched. 

I finally enrolled in the Yoga for Changemakers training. I had questioned again and again if we should be spending money on that right now. The self talk had stopped me from ever clicking the ‘enroll now’ button, even though I had read through the course info four times in the last month. Even with less money now than before, I knew I needed to move the stagnant energy. This was a way to invest back into myself, my business, my movement….and my story.

The same course that is leading me to my (shameless, guilt-free) Dhāraṇā. 

Last night, when I was asked to identify my Dhāraṇā, my heart rested in the comfortable response. I retreated into the cover of a safe focus, one I had held for months with my previous job.

As I dug deeper, the mantra repeated: I am made for more.

There are times when we take a great picture, but we notice that someone or something in the frame is a bit blurry. One part is beautifully illuminated but the other details are blurred. The photo is still satisfactory and depending upon what the eye behind the camera is trying to capture, it might match her intention.

Sometimes, we try again. We set up another photo opportunity, we stage another shot, because we know there is something greater to capture. We just know that there is more to be seen and to be archived. We have that desire to encapsulate everything: the subject, the background, the details.

I took the opportunity to write after class. To reach for the camera again. To take another shot. To create this picture of my Dhāraṇā once again.

And damn, it was more beautiful than I first thought. Ridden with pains and uncertainties, messy and misunderstood, still unclear but much more colorful.

I don’t believe in coincidences. I don’t believe in irony without purpose. I believe in universe/god winks. I believe in divine affirmation. I believe in a human’s ability to focus on and gather interpretation from the subconscious to see messages they need most, during certain chapters of life. 

The significance of metaphor and symbolism is there, comforting and cradling us, shaking and angering us, acting as an inspiring painting created by an insightful, intentional creator. 

So I leave you with the same questions Susanna asked of us:

-What angers you?
-What lights you up?
-What is the story of YOU?
-What is the story of US?

intention.

Yes, I am burning sage. Bundles of sage, of course. I am a yogini. ah ha!

Really though, I am smudging and cleansing.

Clearing out my limiting thoughts and setting intention for this next chapter. The chapter in which I dive deeper into my fears, get lost in the uncertain. Expand in the ways that make my body feel nearly too small to hold my soul. Then, setting aside that time to manifest in safe spaces.

Intention matters. I used to pride myself on being that ‘go with the flow’ girl. When it comes to pizza toppings and what movie to watch, it’s all good! But, at some point, manifestation called to me for a deeper presence, and it is still calling. In setting, saying, repeating, writing, thinking intentions we road trip our way to manifestation. We align our energy of desire to dance with faith–then we can truly let go, surrender and feel content, no matter what happens. It is only after I set my intentions that true peace avails (sometimes slower than I would like, haha). Inshallah!

I am exhausted, mentally. And I am in-joy, too. The ideas, the thoughts, the events, the experiences that have collected, lately. The culmination of suggestions and desires. The supposedly coincidental run-ins (that you cannot tell me are on accident, at all). The conversations that literally echo back to me in my sleep and the whispers in the wind.

I washed my hair today. It is a ceremony every time. I have made it a ritual done (mostly) once every two weeks. I spent more than 10 minutes in the shower. I am a mom now, so that does not happen often, unless it is the day for washing. I let the water run down over me. A baptism that rinsed my uncertainties down the drain, slowly. I am kind of scared to launch. Unsure about the reception. Will people from high school think I am an imposter or will my family feel imposed upon? Gosh, I hope not.

I am a recovered people pleaser, so bare with me here. Then I remember that other people’s opinions about me are their business, not mine.

I am doing this…even amid the fear. Like I tell my yoga students. Being uncomfortable gives space for growth, and it heals parts of yourself that you never knew needed it. Yeah, those are my words. The ones I reach for every time I click publish on a post or talk with a new client for the first time or schedule an anticipated business meeting or sometimes, even when I pray. I am learning how to love and live in my life even when it is uncomfortable, while retreating back into my safe space by night–cuddled up with my lover and my baby. There is balance in that.

The intention here: To ignite mindfulness and conscious conversation in our community through yoga, health and engagement. To coach people on how to heal, transform, rise and live intentionally. To increase the quality of life by becoming more aware and loving to self and others. To create safe spaces for people who are healing. To shift the energy and perspective. To manifest desires, goals, dreams, and aspirations.