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The Land of Enchantment: Love Lives Here

“Welcome to the Land of Enchantment!” These are the words I read as Brandon and I crossed over the New Mexico state line from Texas. The desert scenery and colorful, electic architecture was a welcomed site after having endured a 30 hour car drive from Florida. It’s hard to really say who was more fed up. Brandon and I from the long hours of sitting while driving or our cat who had nestled himself into a spot near the rear window patiently waiting for solid and stable ground. Heck who am I kidding? We were all equally fed up, waiting for solid and stable ground. For myself, I’ve been searching for that sort of connection since leaving Milwaukee.

The state’s motto struck at my heart and I thought to myself “well if I had hope for any place to help me find connection again, you would think it would be the Land of Enchantment.” So I captured this reaction in my memory bank and have come back to it throughout my visit to remind me of opportunity. Since this is my first official blog post, I am assuming some of you may not have made it over the “Read my Story” section yet. To catch you up to speed: my husband, Brandon, and I along with our sweet little cat, Griz, have left our lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin behind to take a swing at traveling the US over the next year. Brandon works remote full time and I… Well, I’m trying to figure out what’s next for me.

This blog is a diary of re-discovering who I am and what I want to do by trusting Dharma. Trusting that I’ll get there, wherever there is. Dharma is a buddhist concept that can be summed up as living in a “right" or truthful way. That is, in a way that is in accordance with universal laws or karma. In working through my own share of life’s obstacles through talk therapy, practicing and teaching yoga, I have come to realize my own Dharmic path. By embracing discomfort, change and non-attachment I can continue to find personal growth. In turn I can share these experiences with others, so that they might be inspired as they navigate the ups and downs of their own life’s pursuits. At its core, this is a story about vulnerability.

Okay, that’s enough history, back to my travels! I mentioned a bit earlier that we had come to New Mexico from visiting Florida. We were there for a month. There are a lot of lovely things about Florida including the obvious: sunshine, blue skies, soft sand, seafood and tiki bars. The loveliest aspect of all being that my parents live there. As I get older, so does everyone else. Shortly after our plans to travel were set in stone, something came up within my own family that forced me to look mortality straight in the eyes. Allowing a month with my parents to be the kick-off to this new adventure felt apropos. I say that because I see my life in two parts. Part one being my upbringing, which my parents essentially helped guide until I married Brandon. Part two being my present life where starting to travel has synched up almost exactly with the start of my marriage. I’ll be forever grateful that my parents had some sort of presence during both.

As comforting as it was to begin this journey with my mom and dad, there were of course pros and cons. Falling back into the “daughter” role brought me back to some darker times that to this day, even when I’m not around my family, I still have to work through. I want to say this point blank, I hold no responsibility to or resentment towards any member of my family or person in my past for my continued struggle with an eating disorder and mental health. Reliving the daughter role meant the potential to relive my younger days when my eating disorder had complete power over me. While in Florida, I had to put in the work everyday to make sure that I didn’t spiral out of control by communicating honestly with Brandon and setting clear boundaries for myself when I just needed to be alone. When I am in this mode my brain never shuts off; this type of work is exhausting. Even though there were moments of weakness, through practicing mindful communication I was ultimately able to refocus my attention to gratitude for the opportunity to spend quality time with my parents. I would be lying if I told you that I didn’t leave Florida wounded from the increased attention on my eating disorder.

I arrived in Silver City, New Mexico with a sense of excitement, but once the new feeling wore off my overall feelings of insecurity and inadequacy were more apparent. I could feel the self-doubt, body dysmorphia and identity loss creeping in. My mind had been working so hard at keeping my mental illness at bay that it was just getting burnt out. Through years of mindfulness based practices, I have gained the ability to recognize this pattern and understand the tools that I need to use to help myself out of it. This website is one of those tools. Part of my excitement in getting to New Mexico was that I would finally have a way to practice yoga asana (postures) regularly. I did my best in Florida to maintain some sort of practice, but it was much less physical. My mental illness relies heavily on the positive connection between the mind and body that yoga asana provides.

Tucked into the historic downtown area we are staying in, is the Lotus Center of Silver City. The studio offers styles of yoga in: kundalini, hatha, vinyasa and mindfulness based meditation. As primarily a vinyasa practitioner and teacher I am typically craving dynamic, breath-centric and flowing movement. After taking a few classes it became apparent to me that what I was seeking, I wouldn’t find and for good reasons. The instructors taught classes focused on the awareness of prana (life-force) and how energy moves throughout the body with breath and shifting attention. While the physical connection to the body was there, it wasn’t through the complex shapes, big movements and transitions that I’m used to. The physical connection to the body was about subtle awareness. When considering the subtle body you have to slow down or, god forbid, even be still.

My ego wanted the familiar movement, but my heart wanted something softer. Because I opened myself up to receiving this different type of offering, I sank into the sweetest Savasana (rest) that I have since my early days of yoga. For a few moments I was just existing and everything I am was enough. Reflecting on that experience, I know that I need to let go of the control over what I believe being a student and teacher of yoga looks like. What’s the point if in the end it just keeps me searching for “more?” I don’t want more. I am looking for contentment. The “more” mentality belongs to a person that I’ve long left behind. That person seeks ways to self medicate. That person is so unsettled with who they are themselves, they can’t possibly have any decent relationships. I refuse to feel alone again.

My visit to New Mexico has been filled with tough adventures and realizations. While Brandon works during the week, I’ve been trying to get this website published. When Brandon isn’t working, we leave our AirBB to experience what the outdoors have to offer. I began working on the first draft of this post before our most recent camping trip to the City of Rocks State Park. My first attempt was so disastrous that it had me questioning why I am even doing this in the first place. I was so frustrated by the process I decided the best thing for me to do was to just get some space from the entire project (taking what I had learned from my experience with stillness at the Lotus Center). Time in nature means time in contemplation. The quiet of the desert was so deafening that my internal dialogue was screaming at me.

Something that I often guide at the end of my yoga classes as students come out of Savasana (rest) is an inquiry into the awareness of silence. In observing the silence I ask students to notice if the silence is speaking. If the silence is speaking, I ask them to listen to what it’s saying. For myself, I refer to this as the voice of the heart. So as I listened to my heart speak to me among the whispers of the wind in the desert, I realized that what I had written initially for the blog lacked vulnerability. I essentially had typed out a recap for a travel blog about memorable situations that Brandon and myself got into while backpacking, hiking and camping. That is not the intention of this blog. Sharing those types of experiences is not my Dharma.

I knew it was time to let go of the first draft and start completely fresh. The morning I wrote out this final version, I also rolled out my yoga mat to move my body freely and connect once again with the voice of my heart. During this practice I meditated on all of the moments of truth I’ve collected up until this point. “Love Lives Here” is written in brightly colored paint above a doorway in my favorite coffee shop in Silver City (check out Tranquil Buzz Coffee House link in the Sangha section to catch the vibe). In this land of enchantment I've been able to re-establish a connection to a feeling of love deeply rooted within me.

Ultimately by choosing to trust, consciously letting go and giving into the call of the wild I'm starting to be at home in myself. Putting this out to you all is just the first step, but for the first time in months I feel like a yoga teacher once again. By reawakening my body and my voice I was able to create a 75 minute Vinyasa inspired by love and connection. Scroll to the bottom of this page to flow. You can find a playlist to go along with this class here <3

“The heavy is the root of the light.

The unmoved is the source of all movement.

Thus the Master travels all day

without leaving home.

However splendid the views,

She stays serenely in herself.

Why should the lord of the country

flit about like a fool?

If you let yourself be blown to and fro

you lose touch with your root.

If you let restlessness move you,

You lose touch with who you are.”

- tao te ching

[Note the video freezes at 29:03 and catches back up at 35:45. The audio still goes so try to follow along with my verbal cues. They will get you where you need to be, I promise! Bare with me as I work through my tech issues, I'm still new at this ]

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