Detox This

As I ride the train home from Kripalu to bustling NYC I am savoring my last few hours of quiet before I head back to my life at home. Reflecting on this week I am inspired and motivated from another amazing Chakra Detox Immersion with Ashley Turner! It is an honor and a privilege to be working closely with Ashley as her assistant at these workshops.

The Chakra Detox is a workshop like no other, and this work is not for the faint of heart. Come to this workshop planning to do deep emotional exploration. Breakthrough your barriers, fears, and insecurities to open to your deepest truest self. Through asana, meditation, chanting, yantras, mudras, discussions, lecture, and aromatherapy Ashley guides you to open on the deepest cellular level.

Each workshop has a group with their own unique connections and qualities. This year there were so many strong and vibrant women. The resonance of the group and Ashley’s teaching was so solid and true. Ashley is an accessible teacher who challenges and supports her students through the path of self-discovery and transformation. With Ashley’s support and the connection between the women in the group many powerful breakthroughs occurred over the week. The women no longer looked at each other from the surface level, but straight through to each others souls.

Personally in the past I have struggled with my relationships with women and it wasn’t until I began my own self-inquiry that my connection with other women began to blossom. A takeaway for me this week is that I have a love and desire for women of all ages, backgrounds, and histories to connect on a deeper level. I was able to watch these women as their barriers fell away, and discover that all of our sacred wounds are so different yet have common threads connecting us. Through this deep chakra work we are able to truly see ourselves and others on a pure love level.

When practicing or working with Ashley Turner transformation happens. In her workshops you have to face the shadow as well as the light. Each time I am with her I find a shift and a power in my own life that I feel so lucky to experience. The path of yoga, the path of self-discovery, the path of self-love is deep, joyful, painful, and the best thing you can ever do for yourself. No matter where you are on this path you will gain a new perspective and clarity in your life from taking a workshop with Ashley Turner.

Upcoming workshops with Ashley Turner:
Lift Off!, July 9th 12-2pm, Mala Yoga
HeartFire, July 9th 4-6pm, Laughing Lotus
Urban Priestess, Sept 29-Oct 2, 2011, Kripalu

Jul08

Power Center

In yoga we often talk about the ‘power center’, the core of our physical, mental, and energetic bodies. This internal strength or will is what gives us the self-confidence to live to our fullest potential. At times we can let our internal fire dwindle and we need to find a way to ignite our inner power in order to create a strong self identity, and a sustainable internal fire that will continue to burn even on the darkest of days.

This power center correlates with our ego, and the third chakra – Manipura. Chakras are ‘wheels’ of energy within our body. There are many chakras, but there are seven major chakras that correspond with our levels of consciousness. The lowest of the chakras beginning at the base of our spine and connects with our most primal level of consciousness and as you move up the spine the other chakras also develop into deeper levels of consciousness. All of the chakras are interrelated and cannot be separated, however, from an intellectual perspective they can be. By separating the chakras on an intellectual level we learn to understand them, ourselves, and our consciousness, which allows us to function in the world at a more present, and deeper level.

The manipura chakra can manifest in excess as overly aggressive, dominating, and controlling or deficiencies in the third chakra shows up as low energy, weak will, easily manipulated, and low self-esteem. Once we identify the excesses, deficiencies, or balances we can decide if we want to continue with our self-perpetuating tendencies or take action to create positive change in our lives. The purpose of focusing on the manipura chakra is to overcome inertia and help create transformation.

Tapas in sanskrit translates to ‘heat’ or ‘to burn’, and it is a term in yoga which describes the process of inner cleansing. Cleansing of not only the physical but mental impurities that no longer serve us. Tapas is a process of purification. The storing of excess fat, negative or obsessive thoughts, etc are burned away during a practice that focuses on twists and core. This is recommended as a daily practice as we daily need to burn away the impurities that we have piled on over the years.

The purification is not only of what you put into your body, but what you see, what you read, the people you surround yourself with. You can control what you eat, read, and most of what you see. When you begin to eliminate things that deplete you, you create space for those that you love, things that ignite you, your inner strength, and strong self-confidence.

The practice of tapas is not an aggressive act of purification, but a disciplined approach to change. The energy and power generated with the Manipura chakra is dependent on our basic self-confidence and our willingness to change. Our ability to identify and overcome our own patterns of inertia, and transform ourselves to the powerful self-confident self who can direct more attention to those people and things we love, to go after what challenges us, renews us, and ignites us.

In order to overcome inertia we must initiate movement – energy begets energy. Once we get up off our asses we get our muscles oxidizing and our heart pumping and we have more energy. It is not only through movement that we can begin to over come inertia and purify. Another way to purify is to remove ourselves from a situation that depletes us. It could be friends who make us feel smaller, television shows that cloud our judgements, or a certain job we are in, etc. It is by removing ourselves from something we don’t want to be a part of that takes us away from perpetuating situations and habits and then through stillness we purify.

So how can you apply this to your life? How can you make changes that will allow you to have a stronger sense of self, power, and will? Here are a few effective suggestions that you could try in your life today:

– Go for a run
– Take a Power Yoga class
– Go swimming
– Make decisions about your life that involve going for what you want

You will learn to follow your integrity, in your day to day life you will begin to notice it is easier for you to say no – to stick with your truth and values.

May we all live light, because everything is already okay.

Shanti,

Liza

Jul07

The ring of non-attachment

I recently went out to dinner with my boyfriend, Tom, and a few other friends. I had started a juice fast earlier that day and was feeling pretty tired and mellow that evening. To make sure that I kept myself on the juice fast and didn’t cheat, I brought my juice to dinner. So, I was drinking my juice as my friends were enjoying solid foods, beer, and scotch. Surprisingly, I didn’t mind and felt stronger as I stuck to my juicing.

One thing that comes from my juicing is that I’m constantly peeing! So a few moments after we sat for dinner I went to the restroom. As I was washing my hands in the bathroom the ring on my left middle finger flew off and went right down the drain! In shock, I yelped and with a wide open mouth looked straight down the black hole of piping to see nothing but the abyss. I was simply stunned that that just happened. My brows furrowed and I thought ‘really? really, that just happened?’. My mother’s beautiful ring that she lets me borrow just disappeared down the drain of some random restaurant’s sink – and I was completely sober! For some reason I feel like I could have been more understanding of this happening if I had been drunk. I guess it would be a way for me to excuse my clumsy behavior.

Anyway, I slowly walked back to the dinner table with nothing going through my head other than ‘did that really just happen?’. I sat down, took a deep breath, didn’t mention anything to the table, and realized the best action I could take right at that moment was to tell someone at the restaurant about it and call my mom.

In the hopes that the sink could be opened at that moment, I found a waiter and tried to find a manager to talk to. I was surprised by the lack of concern or even sympathy by the waiters, waitresses, and hostess. They refused to direct me to the manager. It was like I told them I dropped my fork and needed another one. It was as if each person who worked for the restaurant had a flat affect, no emotional reaction whatsoever. Basically, they said there was nothing they could do as they would not disrupt service to the bathroom – which I understand, it was a busy Saturday night after all. I guess I just expected a little more sympathy or concern.  Plus, there was another bathroom for customers to access. The only option I had was to write my name and phone number down, and they promised they would call me the next day.

I felt so terrible that I lost my mother’s ring. It was 10pm and very late for me to call my parents, but I knew I would only feel okay once I told her what happened. I hate to wake up my parents for a minor thing like this, and the fact that the next day was Mother’s Day didn’t help! But, I knew that I would be able to relax and hopefully detach from the guilt once I spoke to her.

From the moment this ring snafu began I had not felt like crying, but the moment my dad picked up the phone and I asked for mom, I started crying. I was so terrified that she would be angry with me; it was as if I turned into this small ball of an insecure twelve year old. My perception and fear of what she would think caused me to weep. I have a very close relationship with my mom and feel so lucky because of it. It is not like she has ever yelled or become extremely angry with me over something like this, and I am not sure where my fears of her being angry with me came from, but they all came bubbling up to the surface that night.

My mom thought at first that something very bad had happened, which is a normal reaction when your daughter calls at 10pm crying. She was so kind and supportive when she realized it was simply that I had lost her ring. My mother comforted me and made sure that I had friends around me to help support and cheer me up. Her kind words, truly not being attached to or caring about the ring, and being happy that I was okay, allowed me to also become unattached. My tears and guilt fell away, and I went back into the restaurant to be with friends.

When I made it back to the table and told Tom what happened, I think I was still in shock, and everyone at the table reminded me – there was really nothing we could do until the next day when we could get into the bathroom with a plumber. To help me feel better, my friends were coming up with different plans to help save the day. My favorite plan they came up with was going out to buy a wrench, sneak it into the restaurant, and have a whole covert operation of taking apart the sink, getting the ring and having no one but our table know.

Comforting words from my mother and friends allowed me to breath deep and relax with the fact that there was probably a big chance that I would get my ring back, and at the same time I realized if I didn’t get it back, I was okay with it. If it was meant to be mine again it would be.

This event ended up becoming a beautiful lesson in vairagya or non-attachment. The beginning of the explanation of non-attachment shows up in Sutra 1.12: Abhyasa Vairagyabhyam Tannirodhah (These mental modification are restrained by practice and non-attachment). So, through practice and non-attachment you begin to be able to maintain thought control – and that is why I am glad that I was in the middle of a juice detox because I had a lot more willpower to keep myself with the understanding that it wasn’t the end of the world. Once the ring went down the drain there was nothing for me to do, except tell someone, have someone open up the pipes, and then let go of whether or not the ring would come out.

If this had happened to me a few years ago I probably would have gotten drunk, cried for a long time, and been upset for days after, but what good would that have done? What yoga has taught me is that I don’t have to react; I can witness and observe what is happening and then decide how to approach the situation. Yes, I did cry at first, but the length of time that I wept was much shorter than it ever would have been years ago. I didn’t fight my emotions, but allowed myself to feel the guilt, sorrow, and eventually contentment with the moment.

When the restaurant opened on Sunday I was teaching, so I had Tom go to the restaurant to meet a plumber who could open up the sink. I expressed to Tom how important it was for me to have him there taking care of it, and he did just that. Tom was the perfect person to have at the restaurant that day because his passion (which I love) often leads him to exaggerating a little. His skillful exaggeration is exactly what was needed to get the ring back.

Tom had to wait for the plumber, who ended up being 1 hr and 45 min late, so late that the restaurant manager wasn’t going to let them continue with the process because people would be coming in for dinner soon as it was almost 6pm. Mind you this was not the only bathroom, and not many people actually have dinner at 6pm in Manhattan! Anyway, through my boyfriend’s strong personality and ability to drive people to get their work done, he was able to get my ring back. His drive to get the plumber to do his job also came from the fact that my father called him during the plumbing situation. His phone call was not to instill fear in Tom, but as general questioning and concern on how it was going since he is a plumber by trade. His knowledge could have helped Tom if he needed it, but ultimately I think his call gave Tom even more fuel to explain to the restaurant manager why the pipes must be opened!

With Tom’s direction and perseverance the plumber found the ring! I am grateful to Tom for taking what ended up being a 3 hour endeavor to retrieve the ring. I think Tom would have been upset if the plumber wasn’t able to find it, but I had prepared myself for the chance that the ring was gone. If I stayed attached to the ring, I would only cause suffering for myself, and there are much more important ways to spend my time.

This experience reminded me to enjoy things at the very moment when I have them because at any second, things can change. It also reminded me that life is much more easeful when being a witness and not blindly reacting to situations. Even more crucial has been the lesson that I must wash my hands much more carefully and put my rings in my pockets if there is no cover on the drain! Just another reason to be fully present in every moment – so your rings don’t fly into the abyss.

Another important lesson from this event was that my perception of how people are and how I think they will react in situations are very different from reality. My perception and anticipation of my mom’s anger led to my guilt and tears. If I had not built up her negative reaction in my head I may have handled that situation much differently.

This ‘event’ was a short part of my long life. It was less than 24 hours of uncertainty over a material item. What a great lesson for me to practice non-attachment, being present, and that sometimes perception isn’t reality.

When attachment begins to blind and restrict you, it is time to notice and then just let it go. Next time you find your self grasping and attaching to something, see how you can soften around the edges. Non-attachment has much deeper levels to it but this can be a basic and small step to start the understanding and eventually you may go deeper, but this small step in non-attachment will translate into how you handle your relationships.
May we all live light, because everything is already okay.

Shanti

Liza

May14

Spring Detox – Day 5

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Happy Friday all! Today is the last day of my 5 day detox and I feel the most energized that I have all week! The juice fasting was wonderful and I’m slowly introducing solid foods. I started the day with pear juice, a lemonade and then in the afternoon had an apple and a pear. The only foods I was craving were bread and pasta so I just had some nuts and decided to wait till dinner to introduce more foods.

When doing a juice fast the day after the juice fasting can be hard, be sure to come off the juice fast slowly and consciously. Start the day after with a juice or fruit smoothie, for lunch light soup and for dinner a heartier soup. If you are feeling okay you can try eating an apple, but beware of how your stomach is reacting.

Even on the day after the cleanse, be careful and mindful of the foods you are putting into your body. Keep the lightness going by slowly adding in solid foods to your diet. Juice fasting is giving your digestive system a rest, which will equate to new and higher levels of energy.

Dinner tonight was Hoisin-glazed tempeh with Green beans and cashews with brown rice. (pictured above) It was delicious and the rice helped with my carb craving. Tomorrow I will ease into a diet of 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables, animal proteins, and over the next few days my favorite breads and pastas! I plan to continue with the smaller portion sizes and I’m not sure yet when I will reintroduce coffee.

Overall it has been a great experience. This week I was able to release unnecessary insecurities, purge clothing from my apartment, cross things off of my to do list, and I shed 3 lbs.

Curious about doing this 5 day detox? Email info@lizalaird.com to find out details on the 5 day detox package which includes private sessions and day-to-day guidance during the cleanse.

Shanti,

Liza

Mar25