Babies flirt and we find it adorable and good. Flirting = being turned on in the presence of others. And as it is for babies, it is natural, pure, and holy. Sexuality is power and as we own our own, we can embrace our God-given divinity as a sensual creature, light up the world, and live in abundance and success.
You can only give (to your children, husband/boyfriend, work, etc.), what you yourself possess. Come rejuvenate and heal your whole self, with care, with a community of like-minded women in this sacred act of pleasure. Full details and registration can be found at https://audreydelongyoga.com/special-events-2/
This pic is from my El Camino trip in September, taken during a time I felt bold enough to show myself as a woman. I even still feel fear as I post this pic, but that’s the point: I choose to not let fear hold me back and my work then inspires you to do the same. You can feel this difference. I’m not trying to manipulate you or make you feel small, I’m empowering you. This. This will be us together: empowerment to own your womanly-ness and then showcase it with holy reverence for all to admire and get turned on by.
It’s been a journey for me to embrace my womanly beauty and feel comfortable in it enough to show it off, but I’ve been embracing the discomfort and found incredible healing: my own and yours. Come with me as we go deep, deep into the divine art of woman.
For as long as I can remember, my goal in life has been to make the world a better place: to change the world, and for the 39 years of my life, I have been seeking to pursue this goal. Through friendships, family, intimate relationships, work, schooling, yoga, cancer, meditation, God, the church, food, artistry, photography, writing, etc. I have found the same theme: I cannot change the external, the only constant in it all, is me. This is who and what needs to change.
What’s been incredible is that through each of my ventures, they have all schooled me in how to do this. From the boyfriend who told me “just go with the flow Audrey!”, to the yoga training that taught me that we are all individual water drops in the ocean (of life: we are one), to my days as an EMT and ski patroller that emphasized we cannot help someone else until we ourselves are safe, to my need for my parents to love me but in their imperfect humanness being unable to show it as I needed; all this pointed to the same variable: me, and my opportunity to grow.
All these experiences showed me that it was my own, internal beliefs that were limiting me and holding me back from accomplishing my goal, and from Goodness itself. I cannot change anyone else but I can change me.
Sometime ago I intrinsically learned this and my life has been about working to accomplish a place of stability in this: to reach an internal place where I feel safe most of the time. To reach a place where I feel loved, regardless of who loves me or is nice to me or believes what I am doing is right. To reach a place of internal joy so solid I truly feel happy most of the day, regardless of what happens or doesn’t. I’m closer to these eternal riches today more than ever before, and I like it. This is how I change the world: I change me.
The specifics of how we each impact and change the world vary, but the underlying theme is the same. What and who we are, what we believe, what we carry in our heart’s, is all felt, seen, heard, and experienced through each conversation, in our actions, our purchases, our decisions, and our reactions, and this is the work we are to do. This is how we change the world: we change ourselves.
The good news is: you are changing the world, with each moment you breathe. What you do, say, believe, and even think, is changing the world. How you change the world is your choice. I, personally, choose Goodness.
This is another spoil/pic from this weekend’s Hot Springs Yoga Retreat with my friend Shiva Reinhardt in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. I am forever changed by this epic retreat and am now seriously contemplating getting my 300 hours of yoga teacher training to become a 500-hour RYT with the same woman that Shiva trained with for her 500 hour. The style of yoga Shiva teaches is unlike any I’ve experienced and it spoke to my heart and spirit like living water for my soul. It brought a wholeness my yoga practice has been looking for. My friend Shiva has a wide influence of training, but this weekend we specifically practiced Prana Vinyasa Flow: Prana meaning the vital-life-force or creator or God, Vinyasa meaning movement synchronized with breath/energy, and Flow meaning a state of unified awareness or consciousness/enlightenment. This awareness on Prana (God) combined with a lunar (meaning of a feminine quality, gentle, beautiful, graceful) and solar (meaning active, strong, a masculine quality) asana focused practice was delicious! I want more!!!
Besides my now newfound love for Prana Vinyasa Flow yoga, I wanted to briefly share my knowledge about the sculpture behind me called Nataraja or Shiva, the lord/king of the dance.
Primarily from the book “Myths of the Asana: the Stories at the Heart of the Yoga Tradition” I’ve learned that the Shiva is one of the god’s in the Hindu trinity. Shiva is often depicted in statue form (pictured here), dancing on a dwarf, with snakes around his neck, dreadlocks sticking out from his head, and encircled by a ring of fire, as an image to convey compassion: a contradiction for those who hunger and thirst for understanding/rightehousness (Matthew 5:6). Shiva represents the ability to turn ages to moments, so that although the days may sometimes feel long and difficult, they are but a passing glimpse in eternity. In one of Shiva’s hands, he holds a drum, signaling death and rebirth, which he beats fast. Shiva dances to his own music within a circle of flame known as samsara. Samsara is likened to the cyclical pattern of birth, life, death, and thus, reincarnation. Another way to describe samsara is: patterns and habits in our live’s, some of which can inhibit us. For Shiva, dance serves to help him find the rhythm amidst this spinning karmic cycle of samsara and he is unafraid of this building wheel of fire and flame, he in untroubled.
The snakes around Shiva’s neck are metaphors for the power we humans have, being made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and as such, our divine nature (2 Peter 1:4) to overcome. The yoga tradition recognizes that our misunderstanding as something other than Divine will poison us with ignorance. We practice the yoga tools of asana (poses), meditation, and pranayama (breathing exercises) to remember our enlightened state of Divinity.
The dwarf that Shiva dances upon is the demon of ignorance/ego/selfishness who causes us to become caught up in our own personal and daily life and goings on, busy-ness and drama. Shiva demonstrates that we humans can use the demonic for good (Genesis 50:20) and crush it with our heels (Romans 16:20). Shiva takes a higher gaze (Psalm 123:1) and uses this dwarf as a pedestal for his dance, elevating his consciousness, rising himself above his daily life, dancing with the rhythm of the universe/God, as if lead by Holy Spirit.
Shiva shows that life is cyclical and all that is born also dies. With the understanding that destruction makes the way for rebirth and in rebirth and growth, compassion comes. Shiva is the destroyer so that the Hindu god Brahma can create and rebuild new and fertile life.
The story of Shiva is that of freedom: going with the flow of life (Holy Spirit) and the truth that nothing is permanent. Shiva dances out of liberation and shows us that we can overcome fear. Shiva rides the wave of change, attaining bliss. The scientific law of conservation of mass states that matter can neither be created nor destroyed, meaning that to make something new, something old must be destroyed. Shivas demonstrates that to create change, new life and freedom, we have to destroy social norms, old ways of thinking, and patterns that no longer serve us. So, if we truly want change and growth, we must embrace a little death and destruction.
Coincidentally, I chose to take a deep backbend for this picture. Backbends are very opening, vulnerable, and they can be scary. We often hold fear in our hearts. As we open our hearts, physically and emotionally, we have an opportunity to let go of fear and grow. This retreat was much of that for me and this Shiva statue serves to remind me of my divinity, my humility, my power, and that as I look toward heaven, I can dance with the rhythm of the Holy Spirit and have fun on this journey called life, while holding compassion for others in each of their’s.
Dance on my friends. Maybe I’ll see you on the dance floor….
Meditation focused on the breath used to bring me a lot of anxiety, agitation, frustration, fear, and a feeling of being uncomfortable in my own skin. There was an underlying feeling of control and lack-there-of, with this style of meditation, so I usually avoided it. Instead I would meditate on a word, a verse, being in nature, or I used actions like washing dishes, singing, and yoga to bring me into the present moment, these were things I could control. Just recently, however, I came across some info that explained that breath-focused-meditation literally demonstrates that we are not in control: the breath is something that changes and morphs with each moment in quality, depth, sound, sensation, inside of us/from us/through us, so using breath-focused-meditation is a technique to build trust and let go. Breath-focused-meditation therefore builds faith: we face fears head-on, we surrender to the Divine, we work through struggles, and with regularity, the breath shows us that moments and life change but we will be ok, transformation happens and we can move with this flow of breath and life, if we so choose. This simple explanation has changed everything for me and now I’m longing to use breath as my meditative focal point.
For so long I’ve been trying to control my thoughts in breath-focused-meditation, violently pushing thoughts away and forcing myself to “come back to the breath,” pushing thoughts away and chastising myself to “stay present.” This was my way of control, or should I say, lack of trust, and thus I built anxiety, frustration, and discomfort. It’s no wonder I didn’t like this style of meditation! Now that I realize breath is the physical representation of faith, of the Divine, I’m experiencing a subtle shift and I’m letting go, trusting. In my meditation practice when I notice the feeling of anxiety I pause, and take a step back, and gently and easily turn my attention back to the breath; when I notice feelings of frustration, I pause and acknowledge these feelings, I take a step back and gently turn my attention back to the breath; when I notice thoughts racing through my mind, I pause, I take a step back, and easily turn my attention back to the breath and I become present. Instead of forcefully pushing thoughts away and chastising myself, I acknowledge these thoughts and feelings: I call them out and literally label them “thinking,” “feelings,” or “judgement,” and maybe most significantly, I step back and observe. As I separate myself from the thoughts, I then gently come back to the breath and the flow of it, and I build faith, I build a deeper connection with the Lord. With this subtle practice, I come back to the moment, this one right now, and I center myself with grace and ease on this flow. This stepping back and separating my identity from thought, this stepping back and separating myself from feelings, this stepping back and trusting in the breath and flow of life has made all the difference and my practice builds peace. This watching, observing, and acknowledgment of thinking and feeling loosens the hold my mind tries to have on my spirit and soul. This stepping back and witnessing breath is building a harmony in my triune being and I am loving the effects.