Yoga with Mirella Nicholson

Yoga with Mirella Nicholson

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Putting down the baggage

This post may fall under the title of  T.M.I. (too much information) but I feel compelled to share it.  An astrologer friend once told me that I should say the things that I feel compelled to say but be prepared that some people won't like it.  I'll apologize now to the people who may be offended by this post. 
To those of you who are hyper sensitive - perhaps you would do best to stop reading now.

I was inspired to write on this topic of abandonment after reading a friend's facebook status.   In her status she asked the question how could a father simply walk away from their child after 38 years.   It's a good question.  My father also walked away from his family when I was about 9 years old.   Looking back now as an adult I can recognize that his alcoholism was the disease that took my father away but as a child you don't understand that.  As a child all you know is that one day your dad walks out the door and everything changes.   Perhaps it's a bit easier for me to accept it because my father was an alcoholic.   For others, it's not that simply.

I'm not an expert.  I'm someone who struggles with abandonment issues.  I speak solely from my own person experience.  I remember talking to my teacher once about my childhood and telling him that I wasn't really effected by my father's drinking because I was only 9yrs old when he left.  I actually believed that at the time.  It wasn't until I began a serious practice of self-inquiry that I realized that my father's leaving  has effected everything about my life.  This post is not about blaming our parents for all our problems.  Our parents carry with them their own childhood baggage into their role as parents.

In Ayurveda we learn that to correct a problem we need to remove the cause.  That's what this is all about......uncovering the cause and removing it.  The removing part is the key.

Back to the topic of abandonment.  I do believe that my father's absence in my life did create a void.  How could it not?  When there's a void there is the impulse to try to fill it.   What we fill it with is alcohol, drugs, food.  Sometimes we look for other people to fill that void.  We find ourselves clinging to unhealthy relationships with substances or people in the hope that it will fill the void.  Only these things are temporary.  Soon the empty feeling is back and the destructive cycle continues.

The feeling of being abandoned has become a recurring theme in my life.  This, I believe is the root cause of my issues with cupcakes and cosmopolitans.  People that I love and care about seems to disappear from my life.  Sometimes physically disappear....other times emotionally disappear.  Either way the pain is still the same.

When I read my friend's status on facebook I felt compelled to say to her...."Your father's walking out on you had nothing to do with you.  He is struggling with his own issues.  Some things just can't be figure out.  It doesn't really matter why.   Knowing why or how doesn't change the emotions that you're feeling.  It won't hurt less to know there's a reason. Acknowledge how you're feeling and then let it go."  

We cannot control other people's behavior.  All we can do is not allow their behavior to define who we are.   Ultimately, the practice of yoga brings us back to our true nature.  In the stillness of meditation we connect back to the source where we are whole.   It's time for all of us to let go of the past and move forward on our journey to spiritual evolution.  We don't need to carry our childhood baggage any longer.  We can let it go now.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A heaping helping of gratitude!

About 100 years ago, Oprah had a woman on her show who's name I can't remember. The theme of the show was gratitude. During the course of the program, it was suggested that we all keep a gratitude journal. The idea intrigued me so for a long time I kept a gratitude journal.

The exercise was simple. Every night before you go to bed you write down 5 things you are grateful for that day. The benefits of the exercise were two fold. The first is obvious, it's good to recognize the blessings in your life. The second was the added benefit of falling asleep with those blessings on your mind.

The first few nights of this practice were fairly easy. I was grateful for my healthy children, I was grateful to have a job, I was grateful that I had a roof over my head and food on the table, etc.... after that it got a bit harder. Some days I was simply grateful the day was over.

I wasn't about to give up on the gratitude challenge that easily. I was bound and determined to find something to be grateful for if it was the last thing I did! (isn't that hilarious?!) And so my day would be spent looking for things to be grateful for. That changed everything. Suddenly the annoying, irritating things that happened through out the day were just minor distractions on the journey to find things that made me feel grateful.

The journal quickly filled with the simply things in life that made me smile. Things like the sweet smell of the top of my baby's head while I rocked her to sleep. The cool breeze on my skin as I sat on the front stoop talking to my neighbor. The quiet in the house after everyone went to sleep.

Our lives are filled with blessings and beautiful moments or difficulties. It's a matter of perspective. If we can step back from the difficulties and look at them from a clear, objective state we will recognize that even the difficulties are blessings. They are perhaps the most important blessings because they give us an opportunity to grow and learn.

It's easy to be grateful for the good things in life. When you can feel gratitude for the challenges then you know you are getting somewhere. Start your own gratitude journal and see for yourself how changing your perspective can change your life.

Om Shanti Om!    (If you can't think of anything you feel grateful for be grateful you're not a turkey!)

Monday, November 19, 2012

A letter to God

I've written and deleted this letter to God about 100 times.  I keep deleting it because it sounds so desperate.  I find myself asking God..... why?  Why do people have to suffer?  Why is there so much turmoil and despair?  I beg.....Merciful God!  Give us a break!  Please God! I think the switch is broken because it feels like the world is spinning out of control!!  I start to think that maybe the Mayans were right.  Maybe 12/21/12 is the end of the world.  Today I was sitting at my desk thinking that if the world is going to end next month I don't want to spend my last days pushing papers behind a desk.

Do you see why I had to delete the 100 previous posts?

Okay.... Let me start again. 

Dear God,

I know that even though it feels like the world is spinning out of control it really isn't it.  I know that you have everything under control.  I know that even though it feels like everything is coming to an end that you are only creating space for something different.   I know that even though things are changing at a head spinning pace you know exactly the changes that are required for your master plan.

I understand that  the challenges you give us are opportunities for spiritual evolution.  No challenge is every random or arbitrary.   Each and every moment of our lives is perfectly orchestrated by you.   Even when it doesn't feel that way. 

From our limited perspective life seems desperate right now.  It isn't until we remember you that we realize that everything happens for a reason.  Even when we don't understand what the reason is.

It seems to me that tragedy brings out the best in people.  Remember after the attacks of 9/11 how everyone, everywhere seemed to join forces to offer support.  People everywhere were praying.  After a natural disaster people everywhere want to help in whatever way they can.  People put aside their differences when times are desperate.

I am sensing that this is the reason for all the turmoil in the world.   You are calling us to join together to help one another.  If we don't do it willingly we will be forced to by war and other disasters.   Why is it that it takes a Hurricane for people to offer a helping hand to a neighbor?  It's madness. 

I'm trying, God, to shake people and make them see that the old ways of living are not working.  It's time for drastic changes.  It's time for people to come together for the greater good....but it seems no one is listening.   How do I make people see that supporting one another is more than just lip service.  It means
helping others even when it's inconvenient.  It's about putting other people's needs before your own.

I know you want people to see that their old ways of coping with difficulties will no longer work but how do I get them to understand.  How can I make people understand that sticking their head in the sand and avoiding their problems won't work.  We are all being called to look in the mirror and make drastic changes before you do it for us.

God help me to remember and when I remember, help me to remind others.

Sincerely,
~Mirella



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Being human is messy.

Being human is messy. It's not all lollipops and gum drops. Sometimes we experience the natural human emotions of anger, sadness, frustration. Does that make us any less a yogi? Does being a yogi mean we need to be devoid of emotions? Or only devoid of any emotion other than love and bliss?


I'm knee deep in my Ayurveda studies. I've learned that suppressing your emotions effects your physical body. Suppressed anger damages the liver. We certainly don't want to damage our liver yet expressing anger in yoga-land is not acceptable (at least that has been my perception)

My friend Jon posted a quote on our message board that read "Let go or be dragged".

The initial thought upon reading this quote was that I need to have it tattooed on my arm. Let's explore how we can apply this simple idea to the messy business of being human.

Some people avoid feelings at all cost. When emotions become uncomfortable some run away. Some use drugs or alcohol or even food to try to numb their feelings. Others wallow in their emotions, spending hours and hours telling everyone within ear shot how they are feeling. They let their emotions define who they are. For those of us aspiring yogis recognize that neither extreme is useful. Yogis know the middle ground is the best option. Or do we?

The reality is that yogis are humans trying to heal from their messy past. Healing - is the operative word...Not avoiding or hiding. In order to heal we need to learn how to feel our feelings without running from them and not getting stuck in them. Did you hear that? Feel what you feel, acknowledge the feeling and THEN let it go. Suppressing emotions and pretending that we aren't feeling them in an effort to be a good yogi is not healthy. That doesn't make you a better yogi than the person stuck in their emotions.

Remember the yoga sutras talk about the cravings of pleasure and aversion to pain are BOTH obstacles on the path of yoga.


The bottom line is that being a yogi doesn't mean we're not human and being human is sometimes messy. Feel what you feel....then let go or be dragged. You can't skip the step of feeling what you're feeling. If you do, you run the risk of damaging your liver and missing a great opportunity to really heal.

Om Namah Shivaya! Om Namah Shivaya! Om Namah Shivaya!
 Om Shanti Shanti Shanti!