In The Wake of A De-sensitized State of Being

I watched a dog die the other day.

I paused, tears welled up in my eyes, and I stared as the animal control scanned the dog’s body for a chip so someone could call the owners. I didn’t see the accident itself, just this aftermath. I did see the two men that stood with the dog until animal control could come, as they saw the whole incident.

They stayed because the driver who hit the dog didn’t.

They stayed to make sure the dog was accounted for, and that the owners could be contacted.

They stayed because it was the humane thing to do.

In a world where everyone seems to have become so de-sensitized, I was saddened by the whole event.

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How we are misusing the word “happy”

Look around. Everything and everyone is telling you how to be happy.

“10 ways for a happier life!”

“Try these yoga moves to be happy!”

“Mindfulness meditation is the new way to happiness!”

So what happens when you do all of these things in order to make yourself “happier,” but then you end up…the same? Or, worse? Confused and defeated because you aren’t any happier?

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The Blank Canvas for Living "Regretfully"

My story and life of yoga is 100% of my focus, my breath, my being. This transcends the asana practice and is about what I take away in those moments outside of the studio, the retreat, the mat, the space of others, and being in actually what lives within my heart and soul.

So when it came time to really listen to my own needs of energy, space, and quality of life, I have spent the better part of the last 1.5 years on a truly spiritual quest after I left Morocco. I practiced and studied, I led and taught many beautiful souls that also taught me something special (I remember each and every one of you, in case you are reading this). Somewhere around August of last year, I felt a yearning and a longing. I felt a willful drive to settle myself into something — looking for a situation to just make myself stay somewhere.

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An awakening at dawn

Moments of quiet and stillness are often fleeting. As I write this, the town around me has woken up and is carrying on with the day. In the distance I can hear a construction truck beeping, I hear the cars zipping off to work, and I hear and feel the general buzz that comes with the working day.

But just a couple hours ago, before all the melded background noises, I felt the sun rise on my face as my cat, Apollo, nudged in a little closer to my body. His warmth and purrs set my soul at ease. When he gave the slightest mew, indicating it was time for his breakfast, I gently opened my eyes. I took pause to reflect on my dreams before I opened my journal (I have started the process of lucid dreaming and recording). I wrote what I remembered from my dream (which wasn't much today), and ventured into give Apollo his breakfast. It was 6:36 am.

I don't always get up so early. I rarely stay up at that time. But today...there was something about this morning. I looked outside and saw the sun dancing along the pond waters in the backyard. I walked around the very quiet house as my coffee was brewing, taking in the quiet before anyone besides Apollo and me woke up. I looked out the window and saw a boy sprinting with his tiny dog as they finished their morning walk. They were both running as fast as they could before they turned up to their house. He was already dressed for school. They were so joyful and playful in that moment, and I felt a little tear well up in my eye as I witnessed that moment on the other side of the window.

Arnie, the dog, was awake by then. I took him outside for his morning rituals and mentally noted how the leaves had covered the ground in just 1 day. As he walked around and smelled the yard for who's been there and who left scents overnight, I saw a family of ducks wading in the pond. Arnie saw them too, and darted immediately when a giant, squawking blue heron flew right above the family of ducks and down the mouth of the pond that serves as part of my family's backyard. The air was crisp and cool, and I sat there and just breathed.

An awakening of the mind, the body, and the soul, all before 7 am. A morning meditation without sitting or stillness in my body, but rather an observation of the stillness and quiet around me to come within me.

 

Vanessa_Fleming_sunrise_meditation

It's the little things...

Last week, I returned to my home. Norfolk, VA. 

I’ve been away for almost a year this time, which is the longest amount of time I have spent out of the United States in general, much less the visits to my hometown. 

I didn’t realize how much and what I missed while I was gone. Familiarity. Beautiful sunsets off the Elizabeth River. People embracing my return and hugging me in a way that they just knew I needed. Finding new connections with beautiful souls in this weird little place we congregate in. The space to come unraveled because I'm supported and not judged. The space to collect myself quickly because of the support.

My family. My cat. My dog. My bed. Comfort of my own home.

I came back to the USA at a very difficult time for everyone. My first reaction was to bolt and not come back. But I realized, once I arrived, that what we all need is community and connection. I was walking around the Freemason area of Norfolk just a few days ago, and I was overwhelmed by the incredibly strong energy that was around me. I was walking around to film this short video for a campaign I am participating in, called the Thank You campaign. As I recorded my statement about the power of Thank You, I looked around me. I heard people chatting, I smelled the fresh air, I saw the sun go behind clouds and burst the sky with hues of orange, pink, yellow, purple and grey. In that video, one of the requirements was to state who you would like to thank.

I thanked Norfolk, VA for everything it is. I was born here, and I left. But it never left me. From my mannerisms to my accent, to the words I use to the way I react, no matter where I've been and what I've done, Norfolk has always been here for me.

So at this time, this very tumultuous time, I encourage everyone to take a moment to feel what we are all feeling, support each other, know where we come from, and be proud of it. It certainly isn't easy. But love, and only love, will help us get over this heap right now.

 

Norfolk_sunset

Transition Time - Ease into Fall

It’s official. September is in full swing and summer is quickly becoming a glimmer in the eye, slipping away. Everyone’s back in school, summer holidays are finished, and we are just coming off a very intense full moon in Virgo, which brings about change and new settlement.

As time moves and the weather transitions into the cooler temperatures and airiness of fall sweeps in, it’s more important than ever to understand the qualities of Dosha Vata, and all that it brings.

What is the “Dosha Vata?”

In Ayurveda, or the science behind the art of yoga, the are 3 qualities of energy that rule our bodies as well as the nature surrounding us, called Doshas. The 3 energies are Kapha, Pitta, and Vata. Each person has a dominant Dosha. (Find out what yours is here.)

Those same qualities are found in the seasons. Kapha is wet and heavy and is linked to Winter / Early Spring, Pitta is fiery and energetic, linked to late Spring / Summer, Vata is airy and soft, linked to Autumn.

So as we transition from the heat and fire of summer into the softer fall, it’s important to remember that this time is about change. Just as the leaves on the trees change color and start to fall, the wind picks up a bit and things are in flux, we as humans are affected by this ungrounded state.

Some things you may notice is a tendency to feel flighty or forgetful…leaving the keys behind, having to check something numerous times without any memory retention, or anything that seems a bit more difficult to grasp than what normally is.

Don’t worry. You don’t have dementia or short-term memory loss. It’s completely natural to have this happen in this time! This is the time of change, clearing the slate for something new, releasing all the stresses and worries of the previous 9 months to prepare for what’s being planted. The flightiness is synonymous with the air changing and becoming cooler, the wind becoming stronger to sweep out all the dying flowers and leaves. Just like nature, your mind and body is making space for what’s to come. But it has to cleanse itself first.

Staying grounded is particularly challenging during this transition. As you prepare for this transitional time, here are a few points and tips to get you started and reduce Vata, from practical maintenance to deeper spiritual contemplation.

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Create The Space For The Body and The Soul, Part I: Energy in Stillness.

Energy. Stillness. Two seemingly paradoxical ideas, but I’d like to talk about how energy and stillness are perfect compliments to each other.

Last December, I attended a retreat focused around Yoga for Emotions in the hills of Andalucia in Spain. This retreat was coming at the end of my contract in Morocco, a place where I had been shaken to my core and where I had watched my emotions become exposed like raw nerve endings - everything little thing I encountered seemed so big, dramatic, and unmanageable. One day a simple moment of the internet connection loss while trying to Skype with my parents on their anniversary sent me into an uncontrollable state infused with crying, anger, helplessness, and loss.

This was not the me that I had grown into. This was the me from a young adult stage, when I was unable to connect to, understand, or work with my own emotions. I’ve always been an extremely emotional person with many ups and downs. I’ve also been a very slow learner, so it took me well into my adulthood - in my 30s, really - to learn how to bear witness to these emotions and learn how to handle them without completely falling apart. (I’ll give you a hint on how I did it: Yoga.)

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