I was born and grew up in Kenya and Cote d’Ivoire. From the age of fifteen I lived in the UK. However, I always knew that I wanted to raise my children (whenever I had them) at home in Kenya.
I’ve had the pleasure to care for countless expectant and new mommies and their babies for over a decade as a registered nurse working obstetrics in hospitals and homecare..and now it’s my turn. I’m so grateful to be 5 1/2 months pregnant! I’ve been blessed with a wonderful pregnancy so far and despite the common minor discomforts of course, I have felt great! We’ve been tracking the size of the baby through the produce department, from blueberry to kiwi to mango to cantaloupe (love those What to Expect weekly updates and development videos…this week, the uterine cafe is hosting a spaghetti squash!), focusing on eating organic and eliminating toxins from our home and environment, and I’ve been allowing my yoga practice to take me wherever my body and mind have requested (which has sometimes been to a long hold in child’s pose or legs up the wall-particularly during the first trimester). I really credit my yoga practice for keeping me comfortable, grounded and feeling my best. Naturally, my mind has been occupied with all things baby- from creating the most healthy environment for my baby to thoughts on labor, birth, breastfeeding, and new mommy-hood. So the focus of my writing on this blog will be shifting along with me. Please suggest the blog to anyone you know who may be interested! I’m not sure how often I’ll post, but will be posting about things I love to think and learn about and everything that connects them!
It’s so amazing how you can be at just the right place at the exact right time. I caught a few minutes of the View the other afternoon on a break at work. Paulina Pinsky, daughter of the famous addiction specialist “Dr. Drew” and former figure skater, was on the couch opening up about her 7-year battle with eating disorders. The ladies were asking about her recovery and how she deals with her body image today.
And she said, simply:
I remain neutral.
It could have been a phrase offered to her by specialists in her recovery or perhaps she came up with that articulation on her own. Either way, it was profound and I had never heard it before. Remain neutral. In other words, offer no judgement. I can see how this strategy can be extremely helpful in healing an eating disorder, when the balance of judging body image as “good” or “bad”, “fat” or “skinny” is so delicate with so many consequences.
We can all cultivate more self-love and acceptance by remaining neutral in any temptation to self-judge or criticize.
Yoga practitioners aspire to follow the principle of ahimsa (non-violence, non-harming, non-injury), the first of the yamas (disciplines) which we learn about in the Yoga Sutras (II.35). Non-judgment is an important aspect of ahimsa, as the suffering that judging causes is harmful and painful. To remain neutral gives permission NOT to judge. It means there is no NEED to label. There is no obligation to discern what is good or bad, right or wrong, appropriate or inappropriate. Remaining neutral steers us away from suffering. It’s a way to find more freedom in your life, relationships, yoga practice, or work. When judgment turns to criticism, a portion of that negative, critical energy remains with you. It’s exhausting and painful to constantly carry that negative energy around with you.
It is possible to look on reality without judgment and merely know that it is there.
A Course in Miracles
Not to mention that often our judgements are misguided or incorrect. What we think we know to be truth, may actually be far from it. With more information, opinions shift and change.
So I think it’s a far safer and more healthy plan to remain neutral. The next time you’re faced with the desire to cast a judgement, whether it be directed internally or externally, see how it feels to simply remain neutral.
Freedom comes from discipline.
Last fall, we adopted a dog. I’ve always wanted to have a dog and after fostering one a few years ago, we made the decision to walk into the North Shore Animal League on Long Island and we walked out with Lui. In the harsh winter months since we got him, I have realized that having a dog is a lot like practicing yoga. And, no, I don’t mean doga.
Dogs are our mirrors. We’ve all heard the joke about people beginning to look like their dogs. When we give negative energy (anxious, chaotic, inconsistent or angry) to our dogs, it is reflected back in the form of behavior problems. If instead the energy we emit is calm, consistent, and assertive, we will draw different behavior from the dog.
Dogs demand discipline. Unless you want your sofa chewed and carpet peed on, walking your dog is your daily routine. It was during my morning walks with Lui that I first realized this connection with my yoga practice. It would be freezing cold and very early; I could be tired and/or sick, but I still have to get out of bed, bundle up, and walk my dog.
Dogs bring us into the present moment. They live completely in the moment. No matter how many times I take my dog down the same street, it is like new every time. He is just as excited as the first time to sniff and watch the animals and people go by. There is no obsessing over the past, no matter how horrible. Just watch any episode of The Dog Whisperer and you’ll see this demonstrated in their amazing capacity for rehabilitation.
Walking a dog is a moving meditation. When I’m out with Lui, I don’t listen to music, talk on the phone, or think about the day. I practice clearing my mind, seeing and hearing what’s around me, and breathing deeply. It is the best way to wake up and start a day.
Dogs tune us into the rhythm of nature. They act on instinct. They sense and respond to the energy that’s being provided to them. They eat when they’re hungry and stop eating when they’re not. They balance work and play! They love to be outside. They crave exercise.
Dogs live simply. The simpler, the better. They don’t need much besides the basics to be content. Feed me, walk me, pet me, play with me. Period.
Self reflection, discipline, present moment awareness, meditation, attunement to nature, and simplified living are all among the beautiful benefits of a regular yoga practice. Many people are drawn to the practice mainly because they are searching for a way to cultivate these things in their lives. So on days where there is no asana, no time spent on my mat, no sun salutations or savasana, I have found an extension of my yoga practice in my dog.
Humility is the solid foundation of all virtues.
When we face challenges in life, we become more grateful and humble human beings. When it takes time, practice, or patience to accomplish a goal or to get what you want, finally getting there is so much sweeter and we are so much more thankful for it. The whole process humbles us…with its slow progress, imperfections, stumbles, setbacks and falls. On the flip side, if everything always comes easily, you may take that gift for granted, the ego would expect to continue always having everything come easily, leaving no opportunity to be thankful and humbled. I can speak from experience, being someone that can admit to having things come easily in life. However the universe, it seems, had to return me to some sort of balance. So, recently something was hard..something really important and easily taken for granted. When the struggle ended, the challenge lifted, and the hard work paid off…I am now left feeling so intensely grateful and lucky! Humbled. Aware of my humanity. Aware of my limits. Aware of my potential. Aware of my strength and my truth. That is the blessing in the struggle.
Do you wish to rise? Begin by descending. You plan a tower that will pierce the clouds? Lay first the foundation of humility.