It's Bitter + It's Sweet

It is a bittersweet world we live in.  A world full of anguish, hostility, violence, fear, hate and greed.  A world full of love, kindness, support, hope and joy. 

Why must we be forced to taste the bitterness of the world?  Perhaps because it brings those of us who prefer the sweetness of life together.  When we gather round' the nectar, we create a recipe for change. 

Recently, I experienced my very first march.  A sweet cause for a bitter call to action.  I marched with the kids.  The real leaders of our world.  I marched for their lives.  I marched for all lives. 

The experience was profound.  The energy was palpable.  I felt the light of the world flood through my entire being.  The grief for the victims of gun violence ripped through my core.

To be surrounded by so many beautiful souls flocking in harmony with one another to drink from the nectar was a beautiful reminder that we are all better together.  THIS is what change looks like.  I really get it now.  No longer is it a concept of my mind, but a living truth in my body and soul. 

For those of us who have children of our own, it is our duty to answer their questions about the madness in the world.  It is our duty to take action by joining hand in hand with the one's who seek the sweetness of the world.  It is our duty to take our children's hands and guide the way for them so they may find relief from the bitterness. 

We must march together.  We must stand with one another.  If we don't, we will all drown in grief and suffering, hopelessness and fear.  And worst of all complacency and loneliness. 

Come together (insert The Beatles tune here) and grow together right now with me and other parents as we continue to plant seeds of kindness, love and hope in our kids through the practices of yoga and mindfulness.  The place where true actions aligned with true heart begins. 

 

 

Fitting the Puzzle Piece Together

I am a highly sensitive being.  Always have been.  I just never knew it, or simply had no name for it.   Until my my mid thirties while working with a woman who studies and understands emapths.  I used to think I was crazy.  Now it all makes sense!

From a very young age, I remember feeling very different from other people.  That hasn't changed.  Neither have my big feelings and emotions. 

I can't remember a time in my life when I have not felt deeply.  I am easily overstimulated by crowds, noise and stress.  I consider large gatherings to be six or more people in which I want to escape because it feels so overwhelming.  I absorb other people's emotions which makes it difficult to discern theirs from my own.  I get easily upset and have a hard time letting things that affect me negatively go.  I need A LOT of space.  I feel deep pain for the perils of our world. 

When I am feeling heavy and sad for no reason, I have to check in with myself to ask if it could possibly be a symptom of the pain of the world.  I will never forget the almost unbearable tears I shed when I heard of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico back in 2010.  It directly affected the beaches I grew up on.  As well as my spirit and soul. 

If I don't make a conscious choice to disconnect from all forms of media, I begin to spiral.  This is almost impossible to do now with social media as part of our everyday culture.  I really struggle with finding balance in this.  

Recently, Eli overheard me talking about my sensitivities and feeling like I have never fit in.  He said to me "Mom, every puzzle piece is different, but they all fit together perfectly".  This became brand new perspective for me. 

As I continue to reflect on his wisdom, I am reminded about my gift.  My highly sensitive nature. 

When I am not trying to shut this part of myself down because of its' piercing intensity, it allows me intuition, empathy, compassion and a deep connection with myself and loved ones. 

I appreciate my tenderness and openness to feel deeply.  I recognize this as a strength and act of courage.  I understand not everyone will understand me and I am okay with that.  I embrace my stand out, one of a kind puzzle piece.  This puzzle piece is one that fits in with those pieces that are similar in shape, size and color.  And I am blessed to have many in my life.

If you or your children are highly sensitive beings, I encourage you to learn about the traits and coping mechanisms for a more balanced and peaceful life by clicking this link

 

Make Em' Laugh

My son is now 11 years old.  He is kind, witty, clever, curious, crafty and artsy, intelligent and thoughtful and VERY funny.  He is my constant reminder to be playful.  Kids need us to make them laugh as much as they make us laugh.

As parents, sometimes we forget how important that is.  Parenting requires a lot of work, time and energy and as we all know, can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. 

What I have discovered is there are many ways for both parents and children to recharge and the most fun way is through humor and silliness.

One of my latest playful moves is to greet Eli with a cheer upon his entrance home from school.  He loves this now (maybe not for much longer) and it always makes him smile.  E - L - I (insert body shaped letters).... ELI!! 

He now has a cheer for me too.  M - O - M .... MOM!!  Imagine if someone greeted you with a cheer after your long day of responsibilities!  I would bet you'd join in too.

When I notice Eli feeling grumpy, I start a game of chase around the house.  We giggle and hide and bat at each other.  Even Max, our dog, joins in for the excitement.  It changes his energetic state instantly.  And mine too.

Wrestling is another way I like to engage Eli in play.  It is definitely a mood lifter.  We have always wrestled as a family.  Our karate matches are super exciting.  I have some mean high kicks and sweet kung fu tricks.  And he has some good tips on pressure points. 

We play music around the house quite often and when I hear a groovy tune, I can't help but move my body to the beat.  Eli will usually join in and sometimes will lead me in a do - si - do or a sweet lil' waltz.  This is one of my favorite forms of play. 

As an observer of myself in these moments with my son, I realize more deeply the importance of my job as a parent.  It is my responsibility, not Eli's, to lean in.  To ask subtle questions, to share with him my experiences, my joys and my sorrows, to hold space for him always and to make him laugh. 

All without the expectation that he should have to lean in closer to me first for anything.  No matter how old he is.  No matter how much he tells me he doesn't want me around. 

I will give him space, but I will not stay away.  I will initiate texts and phone calls.  I will remind myself not to take it personally when he wants to distance himself from me or his dad.  And I will always try to stay lighthearted and playful.  This is my promise to myself and to my son.

 

 

 

Words Matter

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me".

This old saying is one that many people grew up believing, still do believe and teach their children to believe.  I have tried to see truth in this expression.  Like most children, I used it as a shield against feeling hurt by other people's words.  It proved itself to be effective, but only for the short term.  In the long term, I see how this old adage served as a temporary fix and am no longer fooled by its' falsities. 

Sticks and stones may break our bones and words can sometimes hurt us.  Because words matter. 

We are seeing this more than ever before now that social media has become the norm.  Twitter wars are breaking out and cyber bullying is now an epidemic.  The evidence is there.  There is no denying the simple fact that words can have damaging effects on one another.  The ramifications are very real and run deep. 

Harmful words can lead to the rupturing of a soul.  As a mother and wife, I am keenly aware of this truth.  Now that my son is 10 years old, he is beginning to share his earliest childhood memories with me.  Most of his memories of Mike and I are full of love and kindness (thankfully!).  However, one of his most recent shared memories was of unkind words spoken to him around the age of 4 by his father and I, in which he suffered negative consequences.  He said our words made him feel unimportant.  This was heartbreaking news for my husband and I.  Fortunately, we have been able to hear our son, feel his feelings, and repair the rupture we blindly caused him.  We have helped our son establish a new thought pattern about himself when he notices that he is feeling unimportant.  That new thought pattern is: "I am full of treasures".  We revisit these words with him often.  We also use our blunder as an opportunity to learn from and grow from as a family.  The most important lesson we have all gained from this is that we must choose our words carefully.  All of us.  Towards ourselves and towards others. 

Why do humans sometimes use hurtful words towards one another?  Or why do we behave aggressively or defensively towards each other?  I have been thinking quite a lot about these questions lately.  My conclusion is because we ourselves have been treated this way by other people in our lives at some point.  Some of us so much, that it's all we know.  Some of us are hurting so badly inside that all we know to do is treat others poorly through our words.  It's really a cry for help.  I am convinced that not one single person on this planet wants to alienate themselves from another human being.  We are all longing for love, connection, reassurance and acceptance.  But sometimes one's pain runs so deep, they subconsciously believe that in order to protect themselves from more pain, they must cause pain to another.  Not because they want to intentionally hurt someone, but because they are hurting inside.  And what that person doesn't realize is the power of their words.  Our brains are hardwired for story, so when someone says something hurtful to us, it's more than normal than not, to attach meaning to it and create a story around it, usually a story that has a negative charge.  This is why teaching our children that sticks and stones won't break our bones isn't good enough.  We must do more than that.  We must infuse pure magic into their souls through positive thought processes and affirmations so that they may be armed with a shield of truth. 

When we practice positive mental thought patterns, we are literally rewiring our brains and undoing all of the lies from this world we have learned to believe.  And this is the magic.  With thoughts alone, which eventually become words, we have the power to either create healing.  Recently, my family and I have been infusing magic into our souls through positive thought processes and affirmations before we go to bed.  The following affirmations have been particularly healing and comforting for us all:

I love and approve of myself and I trust the process of life.  I am safe.

I am seen with love, compassion and understanding.  All is well. 

I trust myself.  I am free to be me.

I forgive myself.  I forgive others. 

I express my emotions freely.  It is safe to be me.  I express who I am. 

I am full of treasures. 

This practice allows us to return to our true state, that which we were born into - pure joy and love.  We all enter the world as tiny babies, loving fully, expressing ourselves openly and trusting completely.  These are all the truths of our being.  All the rest is learned nonsense and can be unlearned.  How we talk to ourselves will be how we talk to others.  Let's all use our thoughts and our words with care and attention.  And may we always remember.. words matter.

Please join me this Sunday, January 22nd at AWARE LANCASTER.  As a Create Karma Generator and Ambassador, I will be presenting a mini workshop on Nurturing the Next Generation through Yoga + Mindfulness and would love to see you there!  It is through mindful actions that we, together, can make lasting changes from within and ultimately for our next generation. 


With Love,

Michelle Newman
Your Yoga & Wellness Educator

 

 

 

Move + Learn. Move + Grow. Move + Connect.

Movement matters.  In our modern world, we tend to place a higher value on mental functions like language and reasoning over functions like motor control and body awareness.  We see this dynamic playing out in schools when math time takes precedence over recess.  Movement is powerfully healing, in more ways than one.

Movement helps to regulate our brains emotionally.  Current research is telling us that yoga is like miracle grow for the brain because it helps our brain cells grow, in other words, to be in a state of neuroplasticity.  Yoga and other forms of movement help to stimulate a protein inside of our brains called BDNF or brain derived neurotrophic factor, a crucial biological link between thought, emotions, and movement.  A thinking brain is a movement brain.  The only way to get a kid to sit still and concentrate is to move first.

Yoga increases hippocampus growth, the part of our brain that stores memory.  Yoga releases GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain that helps slow down the release of cortisol (a stress hormone), thus helping to put the breaks on parts of the brain that are overstimulated.  When we are able to access feelings of calm and ease, we are not only better able to focus and concentrate, but are better able to pay attention to our own well - being, thus take greater care of ourselves. 

Because yoga is a discipline in mind, body and spirit, when we practice, we become more syncrhonised in these areas.  When we are more synchronised in mind, body and spirit, we become more present minded.  When we are present minded, we gain more awareness of the world around us, including our relationships with other human beings.  In recognizing that we are all connected through the vital life force (prana) that flows within and all around us, we begin to understand the energetic effect we have on people through our thoughts, words, and actions.  Through this recognition, our relationships become more meaningful and we see very clearly the importance of treating everyone in our lives; friends, colleagues, strangers and family with dignity, respect, and loving kindness.  This is the very heart and soul of a yoga practice.

My life's purpose and my heart's work is to plant the seeds of the powerful practices of yoga for all of our children.  My hope is that they understand that to move is to learn, to move is to grow, and to move is to connect to both themselves and to others.  This takes a village, which means we, as their mentors, need these practices in our lives as well.  I invite you and your children to grow together through moving, learning and connecting in my Family Yoga Classes and Child + Me Yoga Classes, now being offered in Lititz and downtown Lancaster.  You can visit me at www.GrowWiseYoga.com for details on class offerings.  I look forward to moving, learning, growing and connecting with you and your family!