September 05, 2015 • Leave a Comment
Yoga certainly can be a physically taxing discipline. Taking a quick browse through some of the pictures here on my site will prove that to be true. Even greater personal challenge though, can arise from what’s revealed underneath the physical practice. If I had to summarize what I’ve learned so far in my few years of practice, I’d say yoga is an exercise directed at discovering the authentic self. Within the movement we’re taught to cultivate stillness. This is done by focusing on the breath, the lines of energy as they radiate through our body and how flowing through the poses feels to our bodies. This may sound simple but it definitely is not. For a lot of people, residing in stillness and learning how to just be with oneself can be difficult. I’m sure there are many people who go their entire lives without ever making an attempt at connecting with themselves on a deep, intuitive level. In my case it came out of necessity, long before my feet ever hit the yoga mat.
Years ago due to a series of bad choices I’d made up to that point in my life, I found myself at a pretty dark crossroads without much hope that things were going to get any better. I did have options, but my limited, closed-minded self just couldn’t see what they were at the time. For all my best effort, I couldn’t sort out the situation no matter how I viewed it. As things continued to get worse, a funny thing happened. As almost a last resort, I started listening to a calm and confident inner voice that was urging me towards an alternative course of action. This voice had tried to catch my attention before, but I’d largely ignored it. Something was different this time. Basically, the misery of staying the same had become greater than the fear of change and miraculously a window of positive opportunity presented itself. The decision to follow the advice I was hearing suddenly brought me to a place of tranquility I’d not experienced in a long time. Suddenly I had some hope and along with it, something different I was willing to try. Looking back on how all that unfolded, I have no idea where that new suggestion came from. No friend, family member or anyone else had planted a seed of thought towards it. Over the years, I’ve come to terms with what happened to me in those few days. I count it as a very personal and profound experience. It was a definite turning point in how I’ve come to see the world and my place in it.
This is just one of many reasons yoga has become such an important part of my life - especially since I’ve begun to dig deeper into its applications as a mechanism to guide my behavior, not just on the mat but off it as well. In the rhythmic stillness of the breath, meditation and pause between poses, that voice I first gave in to years ago has become clearer and more recognizable through my practice. I’ve come to realize it’s always accessible if I just take a moment’s break to tune in. Long ago, it helped to steer me out of a desperate spot. Now I’m more likely to heed its advice for healthy decision making; to better align my actions with what I’ve been put on this earth to accomplish and to receive clarity on what that might be. On that track, I’ve recently felt some type of transition phase approaching. Going through major changes can always be fearful, but with this inner compass leading the way and getting stronger through my practice, I’m confident that whatever happens, I’ll be okay. I’m assured of that each time I step onto my mat. Om shanti.
July 05, 2015 • Leave a Comment
The days of waiting for film to be developed are long gone, but the anticipation of viewing a collection of full scale images on my computer screen after a photo taking session is every bit as exciting as when I used to thumb through a package of prints for the first time; usually picked up from the local drug store. There are always shots I can’t wait to see in large format, certain that when I took the photo I captured the scene exactly as my eye saw it - in all its full glory. Of course, that’s rarely the case and many times I’m disappointed at how the ‘perfect shot’ actually comes out. A slight mis-focus can ruin an otherwise beautiful picture that can’t be saved by even the most skilled Photoshopper.
Countering this disappointment however, are always the one or two shots I notice I’ve taken for some haphazard reason that turn out to be gems. It’s humbling to say, but many times these images appear out of a complete mistake in conventional practice on my part. What I actually tried to capture’s been completely lost and in its place some other wondrous scene has been substituted. These are typically pictures I don’t even remember taking. It’s as if a Divine Force took over my camera for a moment or two and took the real picture that was hidden right there in front of me. The picture above struck me that way when I first saw it. I don’t remember taking it, but I know it was in there with all the rest so it had to be my finger on the shutter.
I’ve thought about this picture all week and I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s a real lesson in this for me as a student of photography, of yoga and Life in general. Many episodes in my life are just like these unexpected pictures. I start my day with things all planned out, a clear idea of what’s going to transpire throughout the day right up to the time my head hits the pillow. I get agitated sometimes when things don’t go as I’ve got them charted out. Days that go just like I planned however, are typically mundane and fairly forgettable. It’s the unforeseen circumstances that mark a day as memorable - the chance encounter with a friendly stranger, a call out of the blue from an old friend, a rainbow that appears out of nowhere. Photography has reminded me to slow down, let go the expectations of how I think things should go and have faith that beauty is ever present if I just slow down long enough to notice it.
April 17, 2015 • Leave a Comment
The Hanuman Festival was rapidly approaching and several of my yoga studio classmates were talking about making the journey out to Boulder, Colorado to attend. It certainly sounded like fun, spending four days practicing yoga on the edge of the majestic Rocky Mountains. This group consisted of all women however and they already had a strong friendship bond between them, so I felt uncomfortable asking to be included in their plans. I really wanted to go though, because the teacher lineup was incredible. Richard Freeman, Tiffany Cruikshank, Amy Ippoliti and Kathryn Budig were just some of the names I recognized. The chance to take classes from such a diverse group of great instructors, all concentrated in one spot was very appealing. The idea of traveling out to this massive happening as a yoga newbie on my own though, and spending four days surrounded by a large group of people I didn't know, seemed a bit daunting. So I did some research and discovered another option – attending as a volunteer! In exchange for ‘working’ just 15 hours over the course of 5 days, I’d have the opportunity to attend nearly any of the classes offered during my ‘off’ times for free. Of course, this decision carried with it a number of commitments on my part, such as arriving at the Festival a day early, promising to show up for assigned shifts on time and generally just being a good steward for the festival. There were many other benefits besides the obvious one of free class access. Participating in behind the scenes operations of the festival and serving alongside teams of other shining people allowed me to feel a lot more comfortable with the experience, as opposed to just going as a participant. By the time the actual festival started, I already knew a bunch of people that I’d worked alongside getting the preliminary setup done. The structured team assignments made it easier for me to make new friends and initiate dialogue with new people. I also didn’t have to commit to specific classes in advance. Instead, I could flex the ones I wanted to attend, based on information I heard at the festival about specific teachers I’d never heard of before. Since going to that first Hanuman event several years ago, I’ve volunteered at Yoga Journal Conferences, Wanderlust and local activities like Yoga Rocks the Park in Kansas City. All offer various benefits as a part of their various work-exchange programs. If you have your eye on a particular festival or event you’d like to attend but don’t know anyone else going, or feel a little intimidated at the thought of showing up to something like this on your own, I’d definitely recommend checking out volunteer options. It’s a great way to give a little of your time and receive big rewards in return.
Look for Tim at the registration table of Hanuman 2015 in Boulder, coming up in June!
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