For the entire month of July we were on vacation. YEAH! We camped, hiked, swam, and visited friends as we slowly made our way up to New York City and then back down again. Our whole trip was based around my son’s acceptance into an “elite” theatre intensive with the Broadway Artists Alliance in New York City. On this trip, we experienced the powerful magic of nature and the crazy-making magic of the city. A little bit of everything. Perfect Gemini road trip!
One of the most beautiful places we explored on our trip is called Grayson Highlands State Park, in Southwestern Virginia. The park is home to several herds of wild ponies.
We were FORCED!!
There are signs telling visitors not to pet or harass the ponies, but in all honesty, those sweet little ponies walked right up to us and forced us to pet them! We had no choice!!! (Not sure how wild they really are, but we loved them!)
The weather on the mountain is known to change very quickly, and it did. The first afternoon we were there it was warm and sunny, but by late afternoon, and with no warning, strong winds began to blow. The temperature quickly dropped from perfect to freezing, and as the wind howled, heavy rain poured out of the sky. We huddled in the tent, feeling both excited and nervous…rain began to drip into the tent. Would our tent hold up? Thankfully the storm passed quickly but the cold stayed with us. It was so cold that we had to bundle up in our winter jackets, the only time we needed them on our trip.
The air was so fresh. The views so beautiful. The energy so calm but so alive. The forest speaks a language my soul remembers.
The park has several hiking trails, there are beautiful waterfalls, and the Appalachian trail runs right through the park too. We spent hours skipping rocks into the river. I am certain the world would be a better place if we all spent more time quietly skipping rocks.
If you ever find yourself in the mountains of Virginia, go to this park, it is worth it. So beautiful.
Our whole trip was really magical and I will try to write soon about each place.
Go on a WILD adventure~Tiff
“Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt.”~John Muir
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.
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.
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’t 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.”
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.
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