What Must I Do Before I Die?

images-40At this exact moment, that seems like a loaded question to ask myself. I have been teaching yoga for five years and one of my very first students, Bill, just passed away. In a time of reflection I have realized that you really don’t know how much impact someone has on your life as well as you on someone else’s.

I remember the first time that Bill attended my Yoga class. He was new to Yoga; new as in it was his first class ever. However, I was also new because I at that time had just graduated from doing my Yoga Teacher Training, we were new together.

He had an amazing witty sense of humor. In fact, I use to call him The Troublemaker. He would show up and say, ‘What have you got for us today?’  The other students in the class would laugh because as you do in my classes, everyone gets to know one another, and at times it seems like more of a social gathering than Yoga.

images-29Bill was a family man who loved his daughters very much. He would show up to class with his daughter and then off they’d go for their frequent father/daughter dates. I always thought to myself how cool, how special it was that a father and daughter would come to practice together. What a unique bond. He was so very kind, always with a smile on his face.  Bill was a man full of life, who soaked up every moment. I thank him for being my student, and for trusting me when I had no idea what I was doing.

A week later I found out that my dear friend lost his husband unexpectedly. He was a wonderful, charismatic beautiful man. I hope that he is dancing in the stars, kissing the sun, and hugging the moon wherever he is.

images-43So what is the answer to this question as I tell you about the loss of two great people who impacted my life?

I am reminded that life is short. That no matter how much control we think we have; we don’t. Life is unpredictable. What can I control? I can be responsible for myself as a human being.  I can choose to act with integrity in an authentic way leaving petty emotions where they belong, which is in nothingness. I can choose to find my happiness. Instead of saying I want to do this or I wish I could. I am going to do it. Whether it is telling my parents that I love them or traveling to India like I’ve been saying I’m going to do for years. There are so many things that I want to do in my life. I want to make an imprint. I want to make a difference.

images-15I’ve learned that we should all live the life that we want to be in love with now. Love the people, your people who you refer to as your righteous posse. Your path is for you. Get on it and design your story because no one can do it like you. There is, no other you.

images-24Written By

Jessica Hinkson

Asleep

Vintage LoveSing me to sleep / Sing me to sleep / I’m tired and I / I want to go to bed / Sing me to sleep / Sing me to sleep / And then leave me alone / Don’t try to wake me in the morning / ‘Cause I will be gone / Don’t feel bad for me / I want you to know / Deep in the cell of my heart / I will feel so glad to go / Sing me to sleep / Sing me to sleep / I don’t want to wake up / On my own anymore / Sing to me / Sing to me / I don’t want to wake up / On my own anymore / Don’t feel bad for me / I want you to know / Deep in the cell of my heart / I really want to go / There is another world / There is a better world / Well, there must be / Well, there must be / Well, there must be / Well, there must be / Well… / Bye bye / Bye bye Bye… /

Asleep by The Smiths

It has been a long cold winter, and although Spring is supposed to be here, it seems as though we are still a ways away from seeing her. It has been a complicated beginning to 2013 thus far for many people including myself. I felt like I was alone in my frustration, feeling down, only to realize once again that I am not alone. Once I began to reach out to a few people, I realized that although they are on their own journey, they too were facing their challenges.

Vintage I had not been saying anything to anyone because when I feel like this, I feel alone and overwhelmed. I don’t want to be exposed for fear of being hurt further. Like an animal, I seek protection, and find it in isolation. Only to find out that so many people are in fact experiencing the same thing. Some challenged through illness, through losing their jobs, a breakup, the loss of a loved one, not knowing where their life is taking them. The list could go on and on as to why I or you or any one person gets triggered. Then down the rabbit hole we go seeking safety. Some people would argue that isolation is not healthy. I disagree. I do think that there is such a thing as ‘healthy isolation.’ My space is sacred to me. I find solace in it. Getting on my yoga mat and practicing with my favorite teachers is also sacred. There, I find strength, contentment; a quiet mind. When I eventually crawl out of my rabbit hole I reach out to my community. When I say community, I don’t mean my neighbor or mailman. What my community is, is a small group that consists of people of whom I love unconditionally and in return who love me back. They are my constant as I am a constant for them. They do not define me. Though, they are my foundation for times when my feet float so high from the ground they bring me back down re-rooting me to the earth.

Vintage Friends” I have gone ahead – despite the pounding in my heart that says: turn back.”

~ Author Unknown

From me to you. May there be lightness in your heart. A feeling of warmth to soothe you. A reassurance that you are loved.

Vintage BalloonsJessica Hinkson

Check out my article, ‘ Yoga: Establishing A Home Practice – Make It Personal on The Elephant Journal

YogaYoga: Establishing A Home Practice – Make It Personal (Click Here)

I hope you enjoy it! Much love and namaste.

xxoo Jess

Forgiveness

DreamcatcherWe are swimming with the snakes at the bottom of the well
So silent and peaceful in the darkness where we fell
But we are not snakes and what’s more we never will be
And if we stay swimming here forever we will never be free
I heard them ringing the bells in heaven and hell
They got a secret they’re getting ready to tell

It’s falling from the skies
It’s calling from the graves
Open your eyes boy, I think we are saved
Open your eyes boy, I think we are saved
Let’s take a walk on the bridge right over this mess
Don’t need to tell me a thing baby, we already confessed
And I raised my voice to the air
And we were blessed

It’s hard to give
It’s hard to get
But everybody needs a little forgiveness
We are calling for help tonight on a thin phone line
As usual we’re having ourselves one hell of a time
And the planes keep flying over our heads
No matter how loud we shout

Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey
And we keep wavin and wavin our arms in the air but we’re all tired out
I heard somebody say today’s the day
Big old hurricane she’s blowing our way
Knockin over the buildings
Killing all the lights

Open your eyes boy, we made it through the night
Open your eyes boy, we made it though the night
Let’s take a walk on the bridge right over this mess
Don’t need to tell me a thing baby, we already confessed
And I raise my voice to the air
And we were blessed

It’s hard to give
It’s hard to get
It’s hard to give
But still I think it’s the best bet
Hard to give
Never gonna forget
But everybody needs a little forgiveness
Everybody needs a little forgiveness

Patty Griffin Patty Griffin

It’s the beginning of December. We are on the verge of completing a year. It is a time of stress, intense emotions, anxiety, fear, and doubt. It is a time of reflection. It is a time to shed old skins to prepare ourselves for the new. Letting go is complicated. Forgiveness is hard.  When looking at the process of Forgiveness, each of us could list off reasons as to why someone may not deserve to be forgiven. It’s not that you or I are wrong, it’s not that you or I are right. You have been hurt, as have they. The feelings that you feel are your right to experience. What makes Forgiveness so challenging is the lack of acknowledgement from both parties. It’s true giving space to a situation is a good thing to do. However, when someone constantly refuses to take responsibility for the part that they played in the scenario it is hard to leave emotion and the “making it personal” out of it. The good news is that we all have the ability to forgive ourselves as well as the individual who has hurt us. The truth is that there are many unresolved relationships whether it is a family member, a lover, or a friend. It, for the most part is due to lack of communication. With all of the resources that are available in today’s world, access to tools that help us better navigate who we are and what we present to the world; how does one adapt? There is unfortunately chaos all of the time due to poor communication skills.

DreamcatchersIf you are looking at how your year has gone, asking yourself if you did all of the things that you wanted to do? If you are asking why you can not seem to let go of a certain relationship and are losing sleep over it?  If you are wondering why you feel down all of the time? If you are questioning what you have done, where you will be going based on the choices you have made thus far – NOW is the time to figure out your process of Forgiveness and letting go. Each of us is different. What works for me isn’t necessarily going to work for you. Investigate. Where and how do you feel safe? This includes the people that you will/are working with, be it a therapist, yoga class, energy/body work, reading material, workshops, ect. Sometimes writing letters to people and tearing them up is extremely therapeutic. How do you unhook yourself? How do you get complete about your year? Investigate. Explore. Find out and be specific. I’m committed to doing something every day for my well-being. I’m on the road to getting complete with my year. Lets do it together.

The PathWritten By

Jessica Hinkson

Yoga: Establishing A Home Practice – Make It Personal

When I enrolled in the Yoga Teacher Training Program at YogaSpace, I had never entertained the idea of having a home practice. As I entered the studio for my first day of training with Kathryn Beet and Patricia White that was what we spent the entire first day establishing. Kathryn and Patricia introduced us to a basic wall series. The postures may have been basic, simple, and easy to understand, however they were also extremely active. There was a lot of moaning and groaning sounds throughout the day along with muffled laughter at ourselves. On a personal level, it was surprising to realize how tight my body felt on all levels. Physically, emotionally, and mentally. To say the least, I definitely had my homework cut out for me. As we were wrapping up our first day, Kathryn and Patricia  reinforced that establishing a home practice for self was of the utmost importance. Why? I simply like to look at that old saying, ‘Practice What You Preach.’

How can I be asking people to breathe, to scan their bodies from head to toe investigating places of stored tension when I myself am not?  How do I create a safe environment for my students if I haven’t learned to establish one for myself? If I am not continuing the investigation of myself to become more open as I stretch my tight muscles, massaging my internal organs, moving blocked energy, than how is it that I have a right to be leading anyone else, if I can’t lead myself?

Establishing a home practice is hard. It is easier to be in a classroom. In a classroom you cannot escape and attack those dirty dishes or re-organize your closet. It’s easy to get distracted at home and not do your practice with the idea that you will do it later. Trust me. I am an expert at procrastinating. So what are some tips for establishing a home practice that works for you? It took me a while to find out what worked best for me. I thought I’d share my tips with you.

1. What form of Yoga do you love to practice? Restorative, Yin, Hatha, Vinyasa, or Flow? Find out by being open to attending a variety of classes with different teachers, especially if your practice is new or if you feel unsure about your favorite form of Yoga. Once you are feeling confident in your practice in a class environment, you are probably ready to begin designing your home practice. For me, Restorative Yoga is my absolute favorite. I often refer to it as magic time. I also use books for guidance sometimes. Here are a few of my favorites!

The Woman’s Book of Yoga & Health by Linda Sparrowe and Patricia Walden

Yoga: The Spirit and Practice of Moving Into Stillness by Erich Schiffmann

Relax & Renew, Restful Yoga For Stressful Times by Judith Lasater

2. What works best for you? Is it morning, day, or night? When first beginning your home practice make sure that you do try practicing at different times of the day. Some days, I like to practice as soon as I get up, jumping right in to my sun salutations to wake up! Sometimes afternoons are great for a gentle practice combining both Hatha and Restorative instead of a nap. I love doing a Restorative practice right before bed at night. My mind slows down, my breath becomes steady and calm, and I am ready for a deep sleep by the time I am finished. Unless, I already passed out in Savasana. A successful practice in my books!

3. Setting up your space. What makes you feel warm, cozy, and great? My living space is sacred, as it should be for everyone. How everyone establishes that sense of sacredness, of feeling safe is dependent upon the individual. What do I do? I light a ton of candles, I role out my mat in the center of my living room and line up all of my props ( 2 Bolsters, 2 Blocks, 1 Eye Pillow, 3 Blankets). I put on whatever music it is that I feel my body is craving to listen to. To me, there is no right or wrong music. Your body knows what it needs, trust yourself that you are right.

4. Have fun! If you feel like laughing, DO! If you feel like crying, DO! If you want to make sound, stick out your tongue, stay in child’s pose for twenty minutes than DO it! Leave the idea of what you think you should be doing outside to the naked streets. My first Yoga teacher Maher Benham used to get my entire class to say, ‘I take the puppet that is of myself, and I fling it against the sky.’ – Emily Dickinson

We all thought that she was nuts! We couldn’t figure out why she would have us say that phrase repeatedly as if our lives depended on it! Until one day, I had an “aha” moment. What I realized was that she was trying to get us to realize that who we were as individuals was enough. To not try and be the person we thought we were supposed to be, but the person that we all already were.

“Today more than ever, it’s crucial that we include practices in our daily lives that promote health and spiritual growth. The state of the environment, the stresses created by the world’s ever-increasing population’s demand on dwindling resources, and political unrest are signposts of the critical state we face. If we want a world worth living in, and worth leaving to future generations, we need to take responsibility by creating well-being in our lives and by supporting others as they choose healthier lives. In other words, to transform the world, we first have to transform ourselves.”

~ Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph. D., P.T.  

Written By

Jessica Hinkson

You Need To See Things More Clearly

Fall is my absolute favorite time of year! I get to make yummy hearty soups, TIFF just finished, Nuit Blanche is around the corner, not to mention open fires, getting cozy, and surrounding yourself with love. Whether it be that you re-commit to your yoga practice, dive in to a friendship that seems to have fallen by the wayside, or giving yourself a time out to read that book you have been wanting to read since last January. Now is a great time to re-evaluate. To ask yourself what else it is that you need to do to make your journey a content one. It is an amazing time of year to get outside for long walks. Walking in times of stress, anxiety, or restlessness has always been something that has brought me a sense of calm. I take my golden retriever, who lives for long walks, and I breathe. Sometimes I play a game with myself when I feel like I have no control over what is happening in my life. It is a game that I made up for myself years a go, back, when I had attended the Neighborhood Playhouse School of the Theatre in New York.

During my first year at the Playhouse one of my teachers had asked me to look at a desk and tell him what I saw. Besides the desk, I told him I saw a pen, some paper, and that was about all. He patiently  pointed out to me that there was a shadow that was mirroring the pen on the desk. There were particles of dust both on the desk, and floating through the air due to the ray of sunlight shining through on to the desk. The surface of the desk also had a color, it was smooth, it was old. Not to mention the paper- I could go on and on. The point was, as he said, ‘You need to see things more clearly.‘ It was true.

I realized that it is scary to really look at something or someone. To really take someone in. It is scary to see them but most importantly to allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to be seen. So over the years when I walk, I ask myself, ‘How much can I see?‘ I ignite my five senses. What colors do I see? What are the sounds that I hear? What does the surface of what I’m walking on feel like? Is it hot? Is it cold? What does the air taste like? What do I smell? I get as specific as I can. Why do I do this? I do this because it takes me out of my head. You know that noise upstairs, the thoughts that should technically be leaving and entering, seem to enter but not leave. By walking, my breath moves down towards my pelvis. By walking, I get my heart rate up. By walking, I am moving blocked energy. By walking, I find my feet again. My mind becomes quiet. My breath steady. I am grounded. I see clearly. I am present.

Written By

Jessica Hinkson

The Spirit Of The Warrior

Although we have been made to believe that if we let go we will end up with nothing, life itself reveals again and again the opposite: that letting go is the path to real freedom.

Just as when the waves lash at the shore, the rocks suffer no damage but are sculpted and eroded into beautiful shapes, so our character can be molded and our rough edges worn smooth by changes. Through weathering changes we can learn how to develop a gentle but unshakable composure. Our confidence in ourselves grows, and becomes so much greater that goodness and compassion begin naturally to radiate out from us and bring joy to others. That goodness is what survives death, a fundamental goodness that is in every one of us. The whole of our life is a teaching of how to uncover that strong goodness, and a training towards realizing it.

– Excerpt from The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying By Sogyal Rinpoche