Floating In A Sea Of…..

If you are anything like me, you are probably feeling more stressed out than normal. Reading the news is enough to make anyone depressed,afraid, and hopeless.

“It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”-Krishnamurti

When I feel really stressed out, I know I need to spend more time in nature. It is the best way to connect to the Divine, and get a real boost of healing energy. I feel closest to God when I am camping. ūüôā

We went camping in the Florida Keys this weekend. We camped at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and snorkeled pretty much all day Saturday, and all morning on Sunday.

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Snorkeling at Cannon Beach, Key Largo

Sunday afternoon, we drove further south, down to Islamorada for a picnic lunch and a swim. If you know the Florida Keys, you know in summer time, the water is warm, like a bath.  It was sunny. It was bright.It was HOT.  According to my phone it was 94 degrees but with the humidity, it felt like 110. 

At¬†midday, the sun’s rays were extra¬†intense, ¬†so I found a place for us to have a picnic in the shade.¬†I looked down at the water by the shoreline and instantly felt depressed and angry. There was garbage everywhere floating in the water. There was garbage in the bushes too.

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How is this for a Florida Keys Postcard?

There literally was trash everywhere!! But it was the only area with shade, so we sat down, made sandwiches and ate them quietly as we looked at the trash bobbing around the water. ¬†It was hard to eat my almond butter sandwich because the garbage was so upsetting.¬†¬†I kept shaking my head wondering¬†“who does this?” ¬†

Feeling upset and grossed out, ¬†I walked out onto a limb of a tree and looked around. Just beyond the trash, was clear, beautiful, blue water. I saw small fish swimming around. I knew the plastic could easily end up in the belly of a sea turtle, a fish, a shark, or a bird. I argued with myself that “I didn’t create that mess, so why should I touch it or get involved”. But I realized that¬†the tree I was standing on, also didn’t create that mess, a mess that was ¬†choking it. The animals that live there and depend on the ocean didn’t make that mess either, but they are now forced to swim in it.. Seriously, can¬†you imagine, floating in a sea of trash?

With that, I jumped in the knee deep water and fished out a plastic bag.  I began cleaning. My son joined in and within 20 minutes, the area was so much cleaner. It was beautiful. Amazingly, (sarcasm) there was a garbage can less that twenty feet away.

However minor our impact was, we made an impact. We felt good. We were working to heal the Earth, not harm her.

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The Tree- (After We Picked Up Garbage)

 

We jumped in the water to cleanse and cool off. And the ocean seemed to bless us with a particularly magical swimming session….

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Sea Blessings

 

I keep thinking of that experience as a big lesson. It applies to all aspects of our lives.. There are many messes in the world right now, that maybe we didn’t make, and maybe we try to argue that “it wasn’t our fault.”¬†but regardless of who is to blame, these messes are here, and if we truly want to make changes, we have to do something.

 

I prefer floating in a healthy, happy sea ~Tiff

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The Gypsy and The Sorcerer

There once was an evil sorcerer, who lived in a large dark cave, on a mystical mountain, in a land far, far away.

Everyone in the region knew  that this man possessed a mysterious gift, and people traveled throughout the lands to seek his magic. But his powers fueled his ego, and he became hungry to gain more power. He wanted more followers, more gold. As his ego and lust for power grew, his true soul began to shrink, into a tiny  tightly closed, marble sized ball of energy, which settled in the bottom of his belly.  This was a powerful man, with no compassion. A master manipulator in every way. He took advantage of men, by emptying their wallets, he took advantage of women,by putting them into a trance, and entering them.

One day, a traveling gypsy¬†came to¬†a village, near the mountain where the Sorcerer lived. The Gypsy had her own magic and wisdom, but unlike the Evil Sorcerer, the Gypsy, had a warm heart. She smiled through her eyes. Her life had always been different. She was often¬†“sent” places, for reasons that even she didn’t understand. She traveled by faith. Trusting ¬†her life was being weaved together by the strings of Fate.

When the Gypsy neared the village, the Sorcerer felt her presence, her strength, her power. Wearing a dark black cloak, he set out down the mountain, to get a glimpse of this powerful Gypsy. He noticed her right away, and for the first time in a very long time, he felt a real sense of fear. He knew she had the power to destroy him.

The Gypsy felt his eyes burning on her, she looked up, stared straight in his eyes and felt his coldness. She knew right away, that this man was dangerous.¬†Fully aware of the stare and potential threat he posed, the Gypsy felt that fate wanted her to spend some time in the village. At first, all the villagers stared at her, but one woman, walked right up to her, smiled, and held out her hand. The Gypsy instantly became friends with one of the most beautiful women in the village. The woman asked the Gypsy about her travels, her strange life, her strange stones and tarot cards.They talked and laughed and shared tea. The beautiful woman, wanting to share some knowledge, told the gypsy of the powerful Sorcerer up the mountain. She told the Gypsy stories of her visits to the powerful Sorcerer and how he chanted¬†over her head¬†causing her to become paralyzed. He “worked” on her, while she was unable to move, unable to speak.

The Gypsy sat quietly listening to the story. She knew fate had brought her to challenge that Sorcerer. She would spread true wisdom. She began to teach techniques of energy healing, she taught about nature magic, yoga, reiki, meditation, protection.

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The Sorcerer used black magic, to try to destroy the Gypsy. He sent curses her way, and even planted seeds of hatred in some of the villagers. The Gypsy endured accidents, misfortune, exhaustion, heartbreak, poverty, but still she continued.

At times, she felt his vampire energy trying to drink up her soul. She often saw him riding a horse by her house. He always stared at her. After a few years in the tiny village, and a few years of his attacks, the Gypsy was exhausted. Worn down, and feeling a little lost, she left the village, and continued her travels.

Time passed quickly. Four years past, and oceans apart, the Sorcerer was still sending psychic attacks. She met many shaman on her path, and they imparted wisdom and healing. During one healing session, it was revealed to her that it was the Sorcerer who was continuing to try to harm her. She worked to strengthen her protection magic and she developed a strong relationship with the angels, particularity Archangel Michael, and he shielded her from harm.

 

As the Gypsy grew in spirit, the evil Sorcerer grew old and tired. He developed a sickness in his belly. ¬†It ravaged him. He shriveled down to bones.When he had only hours left to live, he looked back on his life with regret and sadness. All his power was gone. In a vision, The Gypsy appeared at his bedside holding a small teacup. With compassion in her eyes, she looked at the dying¬†man, smiled, touched his arm and said, “I forgive you.” She offered him a cup of healing tea. She held the cup up to his mouth and helped him drink. ¬†And after enjoying every sip of the special tea, he smiled at her, with warmth in his eyes, and took his last breath.

The Gypsy kissed his forehead and continued her journey.

 

Say I Do…..

A few nights ago, while we were in St Augustine, we witnessed, actually we were a part of something so sweet and beautiful. We were wandering around, enjoying the crisp weather of north Florida, the art galleries, and the old buildings..   when something so unexpected happened, something that still makes me smile. IMG_2607

Downtown St Augustine is old. The city is haunted, and has a very painful and dark history. But there is something there that I am drawn to, and always have been. In the center of the downtown, is a park. A park that was once the location of the slave market. Today, it is a well used and much loved park busy with tourists. Adding to the beauty, for the holidays, there are lights strung all around the park.

Anyways, my daughter was running around, laughing, enjoying her freedom, when I noticed a young attractive couple trying to prop their phone against a railing to take a photo. I offered to take their picture. I snapped some photos, we exchanged smiles, and then they offered to take our picture.

The sweet couple took our picture, we said thank you, I started to turn away, and¬†then the young man said “Sorry, but will you take another photo of us? The photos turned out blurry.” ¬†I was a little confused, because I knew at least a few of the photos turned out nice, but I happily agreed.

As soon as I positioned the camera, he got down on one knee, pulled out a ring, and asked his beautiful girlfriend if she would marry him. I was smiling from ear to ear, snapping photos, shocked to be witnessing something so beautiful. LOVE. She was crying, in complete shock. She said “YES!!” They hugged and a huge crowd gathered around and started clapping and cheering. I was nearly crying. Everyone felt this strong, happy, magical energy of love.

I congratulated them, gave them back their camera, and we slowly walked away. My son had also snapped pictures of the couple, and he ran over to them, got their email address, and sent them their magical moment caught on camera.

So, to the beautiful couple, recently engaged, thank you. You made our night so special, full of the magic of love, and I wish you every happiness in the world.

Blessings~Tiff

Inspired: Bryan Kest Yoga Workshop

Last night I had the opportunity and pleasure of meeting and studying with a well known Yoga teacher, Bryan Kest. It was the first time I had ever met or studied with Bryan, and I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.

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Me, Bryan Kest, and Jessica McCarrick

The room was crowded, full of yogis.  The workshop began with a lecture, or a talk rather. Bryan is funny, charismatic, and a bit of a rebel.. His words are what I will remember long after these sore arms of mine recover.

Bryan shared the story of how and why Asana practice began. He talked about the true meaning and purpose of yoga.“To still the fluctuations of the mind.” ¬†He talked about the ultimate goal of yoga, enlightenment, Samadhi. Not pose perfection.”You are never going to heal relationships with loose hamstrings. We have to try to develop the benevolent qualities of our mind. Through awareness we can start eradicating the shit that is hurting us.”

Something in him, I connected to on a deep level. Perhaps it was his honesty. He was real. He talked about his angry and wild past (which I can totally relate to). ¬†He openly shared that he smokes pot, and he said the “F” word, more than once. He did not come across as a phoney know it all yoga purist. He came across as someone just like me, a person, a parent, who came to yoga to heal. ¬†He talked with passion about the state of our world, and how we are all contributing, creating this world, this chaos. He¬†also stressed that it is up to each of us to change. We have to be the change… or nothing will change.¬†

He also talked about how even within the yoga community, there are fights, judgments, egos, teacher bashing, blacklisting.. Each style claiming they do it correctly and other practices, styles, and teachers are wrong… I have experienced this first hand, and it is really toxic. The snobbery that can be found within the yoga community is intense. Yoga is not about designer yoga pants and a perfect body. It isn’t about memorizing the sanskrit words for poses. It isn’t even about the ability to perform a difficult pose. It is about stilling the fluctuations of the mind..

Bryan is known for teaching a strong physical practice called Power Yoga. And while I am a yoga teacher, ¬†I do not have a very strong physical practice, and I certainly don’t have buns or abs of steel.¬†Since my recent car accident, my practice has become even more gentle. I am very aware of my injuries, and I am very gentle with my body.

Thankfully, during the asana practice, Bryan repeatedly reminded us to listen to our bodies. He said, “No yoga teacher on earth knows where your body should be.” He instructed us to rest in childs pose whenever we needed. “There are 7 billion right ways to do a yoga pose.” ¬†With a strong voice he told us not to look at what other people in the class were doing, but to focus on our own breath, our own body. I was dripping in sweat halfway through the practice.

We ended the practice with a long and quiet Gratitude meditation..

I feel grateful and inspired by Bryan. I feel grateful to connect with a yoga teacher who is sharing (on a much larger scale), the message that I share with my own students..

The workshop was hosted by The Cozy Yogi, a yoga studio in Lake Worth Florida. The workshop was awesome. It ended up running late, past the scheduled time. So, without a proper thank you, I had to rush off and pick up my son and breastfeed my tired daughter.

Bryan Kest, Thank you. When I do my “head touching my leg pose” I will think of you and smile.

~Tiff

 

Manta Magic

Yesterday I had an experience many people dream of. I swam with 17 giant Manta Rays.

Blessed by the Manta Magic
Blessed by the Manta Magic

One of my closest friends on this island is a dive master from the mainland of Portugal. She knew it was a dream of mine to see the Manta Rays, so she invited me to join their dive group and go explore under the sea.

I had no idea what to expect, or where we were going. I knew it was possible we wouldn’t see any Manta Rays at all. But if we didn’t see any, it would be fine. I was along for the ride. Which was beyond beautiful.¬†

We left the harbor at about 9:30am and headed out to our first dive spot, a place called ‘Joao Lopes’. There were 3 of us snorkeling¬†(I took a dive certification course years ago, but because of ear problems, I cannot dive), the rest of the group was diving. This spot, about a mile offshore, was deep but we could still see the bottom. I swam around, looking at fish and trying to stay close to the boat, when I spotted my first Manta Ray. It was really incredible. She was huge! She swam near me, then past me. I swam as fast as I could, trying to follow as the graceful giant flew through the water.

We passed a fishing boat on our way to Ambrosio
We passed a fishing boat on our way to Ambrosio

I was smiling, feeling happy and peaceful when we headed to the next spot. A famous dive spot called ‘Ambrosio’. This spot is three miles offshore and in very deep water. Very deep, very blue. ¬†At 45 meters deep (about 150 feet) even the divers did not go to the bottom.

The Beautiful Island of Santa Maria at a Distance
The Beautiful Island of Santa Maria at a Distance

The captain of the boat spotted them first, he stopped the boat and said quietly “Tiffany, get in the water right now, nice and slow” and as soon as I did, I was surrounded ¬†by Manta Rays. They were swimming in a beautiful spiral formation. I was literally inside their magical circle.

Manta Rays in The Azores
Manta Rays in The Azores
A friendship blessed by the Mantas
A friendship blessed by the Mantas
Snorkeling with Mantas Azores
Snorkeling with Mantas Azores

I was quiet on the boat ride back to the harbor. I felt a little seasick, but mostly I was just in awe, speechless. Nature.  So much magnificence.

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better. ” –¬†Albert Einstein

Adventure ~Tiff

Yoga: Lessons On And Off The Mat

So many people have started practicing yoga. And that is wonderful!  Such a beneficial practice, for the body, mind, and spirit. I believe it is through the teachings and practice of yoga and meditation that we are beginning to collectively change..and we need to!!!!

But let’s be real, there is some snobbery that can be found within the yoga community. Some straight up insanity in fact.. Like Bikram’s claim that his yoga is superior and all other styles are crap. ¬†I remember many years ago, taking a Vinyasa Flow class. ¬†I practiced next to a very strong woman. ¬†After the class was over, I smiled and said to her, “Wow I loved that class it was so creative.” She said, clearly agitated, “Humph, how can they call that Vinyasa Flow, we didnt even do one vinyasa?” ¬†In her mind, she had decided that Vinyasa Flow meant lots of plank, chaturanga, upward facing dog, and downward facing dog. And there could be no flexibility.

“There are hundreds of paths up the mountain, all leading to the same place, so it doesn‚Äôt matter which path you take. The only person wasting time is the one who runs around the mountain, telling everyone that his or her path is wrong.”

Hindu proverb

Through the years I have taken and taught a lot of yoga classes, different styles, different teachers,different states, different countries.. And to be entirely honest, sometimes the critic pops up in my head starts judging¬†and says “What the hell is this teacher doing?!?” But that is me being rigid in my thinking, in my belief of what a yoga practice should look like, how to sequence a class, etc¬†(obviously the teaching needs to be safe). However, when I quiet my mind, and shift my awareness to my breath, and to whatever is being taught, those judgements dissolve,and I end up enjoying the class. ¬†Often realizing it was exactly what I needed. Every yoga class can offer something beautiful..Intention. ¬†

There are classes, styles, and teachers that will resonate well with us, but even those that don’t can provide valuable lessons.. about our bodies, about patience, about becoming more flexible, body, mind, and spirit.¬†

Flexible Trees
Flexible Trees

Last night, I almost cancelled my yoga class due to rain…(it was going to be held on the beach). But instead, after a little coordinating, I taught the yoga class at a dive center in a hotel. Always a first for everything. Hahaha! ¬†It was a great strong class. I talked with my students about the many different types of yoga, different teaching styles, and the importance of being flexible with their yoga practice. Stay open, we shouldn’t come into a yoga class with an expectation of how it should look, feel, or be. I shared with my students (my friends), one of my favorite Buddhist stories, a beautiful lesson, Here it is:

The True Sound Of Truth

“A devoted meditator, after years concentrating on a particular mantra, had attained enough insight to begin teaching. The student’s humility was far from perfect, but the teachers at the monastery were not worried.

A few years of successful teaching left the meditator with no thoughts about learning from anyone; but upon hearing about a famous hermit living nearby, the opportunity was too exciting to be passed up.

The hermit lived alone on an island at the middle of a lake, so the meditator hired a man with a boat to row across to the island. The meditator was very respectful of the old hermit. As they shared some tea made with herbs the meditator asked him about his spiritual practice. The old man said he had no spiritual practice, except for a mantra which he repeated all the time to himself. The meditator was pleased: the hermit was using the same mantra he used himself — but when the hermit spoke the mantra aloud, the meditator was horrified!

“What’s wrong?” asked the hermit.

“I don’t know what to say. I’m afraid you’ve wasted your whole life! You are pronouncing the mantra incorrectly!”

“Oh, Dear! That is terrible. How should I say it?”

The meditator gave the correct pronunciation, and the old hermit was very grateful, asking to be left alone so he could get started right away. On the way back across the lake the meditator, now confirmed as an accomplished teacher, was pondering the sad fate of the hermit.

“It’s so fortunate that I came along. At least he will have a little time to practice correctly before he dies.” Just then, the meditator noticed that the boatman was looking quite shocked, and turned to see the hermit standing respectfully on the water, next to the boat.

“Excuse me, please. I hate to bother you, but I’ve forgotten the correct pronunciation again. Would you please repeat it for me?”

“You obviously don’t need it!” stammered the meditator; but the old man persisted in his polite request until the meditator relented and told him again the way he thought the mantra should be pronounced.

The old hermit was saying the mantra very carefully, slowly, over and over, as he walked across the surface of the water back to the island.”¬†

The spiritual path is full of many experiences and valuable lessons.. We must walk the path with flexibility….and realize the power of intention….

To The True Truth, Tiff

(I wrote this openly and honestly and dedicate it to my students from last nights yoga dive class!! hahaha)

The Buddhist story was copied from http://www.dharma-haven.org/tibetan/meaning-of-om-mani-padme-hung.htm