Love Note #12

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Love Note #12

Shrinking from our Dharma (Our Soul's Mission)
Finding the shadow in our Excuses

Here are a few ways we can shrink instead of expand into life:

  • We refuse to be clear about why we are really here.

Shadow: After all, if its left undefined, we never need to face failure.

  • We are each given a gift and we do something ––– or everything else instead of what we are here to do. 

Shadow: Then we can hide behind the myth that we have no time. 

  • We continue to believe that life should be amazing for everyone else but us. 

Shadow: We expect life to be hard instead of expecting it to be amazing. 

  • We pretend we will get to it tomorrow yet tomorrow never comes. 

Shadow: We distract and procrastinate to avoid owning who we really are. 

In general, we prefer suffering over joy because we never stop to look at the shadow of our actions. We are a divine. Our mission is important, if to no one else, to us. We have but one life, lets live it fully. 

Shadow: What do we have to lose

Love, Paula

Love Note #11

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To Mom  

Recently, I’ve been thinking about mothers, and the particular feeling that they innately create in us.  How different the feeling is from that of a father’s.

It’s been almost 10 years since I lost my own mother and three years now since I gave birth to my son, Otto. Becoming a mother was a powerful transition for me and I didn’t realize that the transition was happening until it did. In an instant, the beautiful carefree narcissism of childhood that was still with me well beyond my years of youth, was gone.  I went through a rite of passage and in that moment (I remember the exact moment) I learned what it meant to be an adult. I understood what it was to be a mother. And not just any mother, but my mother.  Everything that I found annoying and trivial took on a new meaning and was made clear the instant that Otto was placed in my arms. I remember not being able to sleep on the night he was born. All I could think was “what happens if he stops breathing”? and then, “god, this child is mine”. I felt all the intensity behind what she was so desperately and sometimes confusingly trying to show me. I finally heard what my arrogance told me I was too “smart” for. I felt how much she wanted to protect me and I could see that my well-being was probably the motive behind her choices, even those that were less than stellar.  

There is a kind of selfless love that a mother gives. It’s like no other love that we will ever encounter. It is primal. Beyond choice or reason. It’s a real-time experience of unconditional love and the feeling that I experienced from her love was something like having my own special place in the world. It was totally mine, no matter when and no matter what. I really miss that place. I know it’s what my son feels when he jumps into my arms because those are his arms and his place as he says, “my mama!”  But I also know that this isn’t everyone’s experience. I wish it were. It’s also not to say that Mom and I didn’t have our moments. But I was lucky because no matter what she did and more importantly, no matter what I did, she loved me in every way she could. Although many of my choices as a mother are different, this “feeling” is what I pass on to and share with my son.

Mom and I shared many things, but what I cherish most is the way she loved me.  It was without condition, without thought or reason ... it was simply love.

Love, Paula

Love Note #10

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Happiness…

Do you know anyone that isn’t looking for it or wouldn’t like a bit more than they currently have? Seems that love and happiness are two of our greatest desires and, as it goes with desires, we often feel that they are out of our hands. 

Recently, I decided to figure out how to create happiness instead of just of feeling like a victim in an endless wait for its arrival. Funny thing is, by doing the few things I mention below, I believe I am even happier now than when the universe actually graces me with the happiness jackpot.

I found that the key, for me, is gratitude. The really great thing is that just like with disappointment, the more gratitude I felt, the more good things I found to have gratitude for.

Things literally got better and better because, let me tell you, when I started this practice it seemed, to my mind, that things were getting worse and worse.

I’d like to share a few of the practical things I used to take charge of my mind and open my heart:

  • I wrote two things that “were” working in my life each day. The surprise was — I found many.
  • I made another list of all the ways I am cared for. This was very powerful, as I can tend to feel lonely in a crowd and instead, I saw love everywhere I looked.
  • This led to appreciation. I realized how much people actually did for me on a daily basis. They did things out of the kindness of their hearts, but not just that, I realized they did these things because they love me. Coming to realize this brought me indescribable joy.
  • I remembered to do one thing for myself each day, and that reminded me to also take the time to do something for someone else. I think about doing things a lot, but I actually made the time to do them. What was remarkable here was that somehow I found more time in my day to do more, not less. Somehow doing good things added time to my life.

As I was moving through this experiment I realized how important it was to create my own happiness. As I did, the current of happiness just got stronger.  It may be hard to believe but happiness is possible.

Happy Holiday and remember Give Thanks.

Love, Paula

Love Note #9

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Have you sat down with all the things you are supposed to do and asked yourself why?

Try it. Make a list of all the things you believe you are supposed to do.

Now, try and figure out why you believe that to be true. Who said so?  And even if they said so, why do you need to listen?

Often, we live our lives by other peoples rules and usually never stop to ask what we want.  

Even when we feel we have broken the mold and are doing it “our way”, we typically have picked up the rules of our peer group, our chosen community, instead.  

Here are a few of my "supposed to's":

  • I’m supposed to be spiritual, which means I’m always supposed to be kind and reasonable.
  • I’m supposed to do the right thing, even if that things is wrong for me.
  • I’m supposed to love every minute with my son even if he is a huge pain in the butt. 
  • I’m supposed to do all the right and holistic things for my son because 'I practice yoga' so I feel shame if he watches TV, eats ice cream or spits out his green beans.

Okay, now, here are my choices. Here is what I what I want to do:

  • I want to respond with how I feel even it’s not kind or reasonable.  I want it to be real, have passion and yes, even anger, if I feel it.
  • I want to put myself first and hope everyone else does the same. 
  • I want to love my son deeply and be fully okay with wanting to kill him at times. 
  • I want my son to be happy and have a life of balance.  

Maybe its time for you to make a list and then make a choice. Where is what you are doing contrary to what you want or personally believe? Are you living your life by your own design?

P.S. We both love ice cream, hate green beans and laugh uncontrollably when we do tree pose.

Love, Paula

 

Love Note #8

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Life can be incredibly hard –– and feel unfair and down right wrong sometimes.
There, I said it! And I believe it to be true.
It is also so that it has breathtaking moments of beauty and is filled with overwhelming love and kindness. 
Sometimes both the dark and light exist in a moment. 
I also believe that my life experience is a choice. 
What helps me make that choice?  Meditation. It shows me the beauty in the storm.

With Love, Paula

Love Note #7

I love myself but I don't always like myself.

I'm often asked in my work if I love myself and I say 'yes, of course I do', but that doesn't mean I always like myself. There is a difference.

There are places in my life I'd like to grow and times I can certainly do better.  I like myself more when I am inline with who I believe and want myself to be... a little less when i'm not. 

I love myself for trying. I love myself for caring. I love myself because I get how hard it is to be human and I am proud I have made it this far.

With Love, Paula

Love Note #6

 

I’m a fan of making lists. I like how they make things clear and simple. Here are 4 that can change your life, but you'll need to do all four in order. They work together and build on each other. 

List 1: Your Dreams

Write 3 things you would love to do.

Ideas:
Lose ten pounds.
Become a Rock and Roll singer.
Open a business.
Travel to the moon.

Big or small, if you really want to do it, list it. Don't hold back. Its only a list.. right?

List 2: Changes

Now pick one thing from the first list you really want to see happen, even and especially if it seems scary.

Make a second list of 3 things that you would need to change or do if you were going to make this happen. 

Ideas:
I would need to hang around with people who support me.
I would need to believe I'm good enough.
I would need to talk to my accountant.
I would need to find and talk to Richard Branson.

List 3: Excuses

Now make a list of three things you know about yourself that stop you from living your dream and keep you living small.

Ideas:
You were told you weren’t good enough.
You don’t believe you have time and/or money to do it.
You're too young/old/dumb/under or over qualified.

List 4:  Network for living big

Now the big one-- Make a list of  “favorites” on your phone who you trust and who believe in you. Contact them every time you try to go back to living small. Don't hide in your limiting thoughts. Tell them why you're afraid and listen closely to what they say back. 

Let me know how it goes. I believe in you...

With Love, Paula

Love Note #5

Love Note #5:

"Where the focus goes the energy flows".

My amazing coach shared this with me and I use it as a sort of barometer for how I'm engaging with the world.  

Where are we putting our focus? If we are energy, what kind of energy are we sharing and absorbing? Remember this can work as well with negative and positive energy.Are we spending our time and energy with inspiring people and things that expand our mind? 

For just one day let's set a focus to engage in only what is positive. Zero tolerance for negativity from yourself or others.

Write and let me know how it goes.

With love, Paula

Love Note #4

American Gods.

This is my new favorite TV series for many reasons.  I love all media that wakes up my brain and offers a way to think differently about something I might have started sleeping through.

I always believed I appreciated my life –– more specifically the "essence" of being alive.  The most recent episode gave me a sense that perhaps this wasn’t true. I had a palpable experience of what it might feel like if I was looking back and I could see all I had missed. I had a flash of what I had taken for granted and allowed to fall into the realm of ordinary. That even something simple like my coffee in the morning would be missed if I could never do it again –– ever.

I felt my life as an old friend I had taken for granted without considering it wouldn't always be there. It's true, I had been forgetting to say the important things and neglected to have gratitude for the precious –– and familiar moments. 

In a very new way I started to appreciate even the things that had a tendency to rile me. What if I could never feel the rain or take a taxi or wait on a line. I considered my dear friend whose life is ending now and thought, just a simpe walk would have such meaning to her. I thought of all the things I would yearn to feel or do one more time if I were her.

I feel re-awoken in my life and for today I'm reminded that life is not a given but an offering, and supremely amazing. 

With love, Paula

Love Note #3

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Empathy isn’t easy–– but important things seldom are.

Showing up with empathy is difficult. We are taught to compete, not understand. We are shown how to keep going without regard for how we or others might be feeling. 

Can you count how many times you have heard "Don't cry." instead of "Why are you sad?" even by the well meaning?

Its true, empathy isn't instinctual, but learning how is what makes us conscious and evolving humans, instead of one of the characters in Darwin's natural selection.

When a person comes to you with a problem do you meet them in judgment or do you offer them an open mind and heart. Do you listen instead of advise? 

Showing up with empathy is difficult, it takes your effort, your time, your care.

But it's precisely what will lead you to your own loving heart.
 

With love, Paula

Love Note #2

Why do the hard work?

Why do the hard work? The work that takes more time, more effort, more intimacy and typically feels uncomfortable. 
Why do the hard work of confronting something when you could take the easy road and avoid it? 
Why do the hard work that leads to longer and deeper relationships when you can just split? 
Why think about the long term when you can get what you “need” right now?
Why do it "right" when you can just get it "done"!? 
Why have integrity, show up, be vulnerable?
Why do what you believe in rather than what's popular?
Why care? Why listen? Why lend a hand?
Why think about another person when you have your own problems? 
Why do we do it?  
We do it for our ourselves. 
 

With love, Paula

How to Meditate

How to Meditate: Advice For Beginners from NYC's Top Teachers

New to Mediation? Wanting to build your practice but don’t know where to start?

See this article by Esme Benjamin of Culture Trip featuring a bit of advice from Paula Tursi!

“People tell me frequently they aren’t “good at meditation”, but there is no way to be bad at it unless you simply don’t do it. It’s the act of simply giving yourself permission to be with whatever’s up without needing to change it. Simply observing the ups and downs of all things.” —Paula Tursi MS, MEd , ERYT Director of Reflections Center for Conscious Living & Yoga

The Next Chapter

I’m so excited to be launching this blog with a team of wonderful people helping me. Its has been an step into reclaiming my identity as a teacher and healer.

I have worked hard to be a supportive pillar for Reflections to firmly root and then grow.  I’m proud to say in its 7th year it is doing well and serving many. 

Though it is my supportive base, I’m at the next chapter of my journey. The first part of what comes next has been a beautiful path to motherhood. This has been where so many of my important life lessons have culminated. Of all the things I have done in my life, this has expanded and made me question the most.

 I have closely watched all the turns on my path. From a very early on I knew that my life, lived in a raw way, as the conscious observer, would be my teacher and ultimately what I would have to share. I have had many important teachers on the path to guide and mold my "seeing" Bonnie Bainbridge, Stephen Gilligan, as well as Eido Shimano Roshi
in all his infamy and yes love. 

I am sure they each said many profound things, but what I heard was: Love. I think I have been able to sit closely with this very important concept and its many layers. I say 'think', because what I do know is the veils keep shedding and I will be learning and understanding for life times. In this second phase of my life I hope  I have some truthful and honest stuff to share.

What I feel confident about is that finding a relationship to love is the way. It is what all the disconnects we feel are seeking –– how to love and be love. Its true between you and your parents, your beloved and even your boss. All relationships boil down to it and stem from it. 

My work now is about setting it free. Yes, its in there. As I settle more deeply into my counseling practice, what I hope to offer is sacred and safe space  for people to find it for themselves. Whether it be in generative trace or a hypnotic yoga class this relationship can be experienced. 

Remembering Love

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"You love me too much!" I remember the day I told you this, the pained look on your face.

 Karma.

I love him too much!  I see you in me, the pain and joy of loving someone so deeply it makes you tremble. 

 The future, now a string of happenings I cannot control.

The mind,  endless worry: "What if ...

Take a breath— no–– hold your breath and let him go,.. while a part of you dies inside. 

Karma

I understand now that he will tell me the same thing one day."You love me too much!"

I’ll want to reach out, like you did, Tell him, "Thats not possible. I'm filling you my sweet boy. I filling you will all that really matters.  

I'll want to say, "Live as love, so in your presence they can feel that you stand in the confidence of knowing love and give it freely." 

Because you, like me, never felt its scarcity.

You taught me many things. You taught me one thing ... to love. 
 

Yoga- Over and Under 40

It is true I have been doing yoga for a good, long time but it wasn’t until I hit my 40’s that I really found what I believe to be the truth of the practice. There is something about forty that just makes you wiser. How could it not, more years on the planet more opportunities to learn from my mistakes!

The older, and perhaps wiser, I became the more I understood the innate beauty of this ancient practice for a woman of any age.

It seems to me that women spend a lifetime trying to get and or stay skinny! It is one of the things we think about a good part of our day and typically, we are dissatisfied with the results! What yoga and the deeper practices can teach us is not about being thin, but being healthy — then we are always the perfect shape! We don’t try to lose weight, but by being more connected to our bodies, we stop eating what isn’t good for us. It just doesn’t taste or feel right. We understand that it isn’t about another, better, diet but about getting to know ourselves. When we are feeling angry or lonely, we might reach for our yoga mat or even a hug instead of a doughnut because we know what will really make us feel better in the long run.

Yoga teaches us to listen. It brings us back to an intuitive nature that is the true gift of the feminine. Yoga helps us to see the body as sacred and suddenly we stop dragging it around like an old purse. We become wiser about how and with whom we spend our time as we come to understand that what we surround ourselves molds who we are. We begin to make choices that bring us less stress and more joy.

The yoga poses will surely make us fit and help us to look youthful longer, but perhaps not in the way you might think.

Striving is something we have all gotten too good at. Listening to ourselves has become much more difficult. Yoga teaches us how to pause, accept and more then that, love who we are as we are.

Yoga is a way of live and a life long friend. Its wisdom teaches us how to find self-respect and thus self-love. Yoga asks us to practice presences and to appreciate everything exactly as it– because it is as it should be– us included.

Why We Can't Meditate

Why we cant meditate ?

Lucky for me my intense curiosity for other worldly dimensions kept me steadfast on my cushion. I meditated in the hopes of finding the ultimate enlightened state where all of my troubles would fall away and I would be one with the divine! I swear this is true!

Needless to say this never happened. What I did find was a way to be kind to others as well as my self, I found the path to humility, true compassion and a lifetime companion.

In my years of teaching meditation and yoga I think I have heard every excuse as to why one just can’t meditate:

“I don’t have the time”, “I can’t sit still”, “I find it boring”,

“I’m afraid to be alone with my thoughts”, “It doesn’t work for me”

“I'm too busy”, “My mind is too busy for meditation”, “I can’t sit on the floor” “I’ll start once my alter is set up, after I buy the mala beads” and so it goes.

I understand how true each of these reasons can feel, but I also know how important it is to invite the possibility of a peaceful mind into your life. I explain in my teaching that mediation is like brushing your teeth. You wouldn’t leave the house with dirty teeth, why would you leave with a cluttered mind? Meditation, in my experience, is a way to purify the thoughts by placing them one by one into the heart and loving them, so that I can learn to love all of me and as an extension all of humanity. I do this for myself, and so all those around me can experience a clean, tidy and peaceful me.  Without my practice I find I am less smooth and much more prone to impulsive reactions instead of thoughtful responses. I often feel what I explain as “outside of myself” on those days I don’t sit.

When I am teaching class or on retreat one of the biggest resistances I get from my students is the story of time —  there simply isn’t enough.  I always reply, “Do you have 5 minutes? Cause that’s all it takes!”  It is true in days gone by we would be made to sit for hours. We would often be shamed if we didn’t sit for an hour in the morning and one before bed. I will say,  I'm glad I did it, but I am also not entirely certain it was necessary.

You see, ultimately, we are working to re-pattern our nervous system.  In that light if you show up for yourself for 5 minutes every day you are certainly making an effect. If you can do it for 10 or 20 minutes, all the better. The longer you sit with you the more “you” will resist. It’s all that resistance we need to practice loving. Before long that resistance smooths out and you are left with acceptance and compassion– the only true  ingredient for happiness

My students also tell me how busy their minds are!  To that I reply, “Whose aren’t!?” A busy mind is not the issue. Meditation is not the act of clearing the mind as much as it is what you do with the thoughts. Can you notice them enough not to think them through, but instead love each and every one – both the positive and the negative?  Then, by doing this, you have spent your time in a loving vibration instead of aggression and self-hatred. I can guarantee if you do that five minutes each day you will most certainly be a happier person and you will have found the beauty of self-love.

 I never did get enlightened, but I feel each time I sit in meditation I am sitting in a divine vibration, a companion I could not do without!

Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places

Yes it’s February – the month to ponder love – why does it always seem it’s the one topic we are never content with? We don’t have enough, we don’t like the love we get, we’re chasing it – it’s chasing us. You get it, and then it’s… not all that! Whatever the case, it never seems right.

I’ve been teaching a 200-hour training for the past month. As many of you know, love is the thing I like to talk the most about during my classes. But when I get a group for a full month, it becomes an investigation! I believe in my heart that if we can ever get this love thing straight, the rest is easy.

I thought I’d share a little of what we discovered this month.

Like a simple equation, we found that the amount of love we can feel = the amount of true compassion we are able to feel for anyone. But there is a hitch. The first person on that compassion list has to be us. Let me elaborate.

Mostly my mind judges: “I don’t like him because he is too needy. She drives me crazy because she is too closed off”. On the days when I can go a little deeper and step away from my judging mind and step into my heart I can see the needy part of me is what I really don’t like; that part that is a bit scared and vulnerable, that part of me that wants to be loved. When I can see my own reflection in my needy friend and see he needs the same love I do, in that moment the judgment falls away and all I’m left with is love for us both.

But what of my closed off girlfriend; could it be that all she wants is love, but like myself she is too afraid to ask so she hardens her heart. When I see it in this light I have a tear and want to hug her and myself and tell us both to trust that I love you and that we are in fact lovable and that anyone would love us if we could simply open our hearts to that possibility.

When we take the judgment out of the love, what we are left with is the true and exposed experience of being human – we can see all the defenses, the hiding, the pretending and the grasping as the cry of our inner child not knowing how to ask for what it needs. When you can see it all in this way, who don’t you feel love for?

Keeping The Faith

As I sat chatting with a very sad and anxious friend the other night I found myself looking to my own life and speaking to her from the deep wisdom of knowing– which was born of years of FREAKING out!!!!  I tried to explain as she sat, tears running down her face, that all we can do is trust that when we aren’t getting what we want its because there is a better plan out there for us. That over years I have come to believe that the episodes of life are already written, and it is merely our job to stay present and learn the lessons they hold for us to grow and mature as conscious beings. 

The truth is we learn as we do, and change reluctantly. It’s always curious to me what we, as humans, believe we are holding on to when we resist change. What are we so afraid of losing? Why can we never see that there might be more to gain instead of living in this constant worry of impeding loss? In the case of my friend it wasn’t possible for her to see that her life might turn out for the better from where she was sitting.  I could see in a few months time it might all become humorously clear that what she wanted so badly was not what was best and perhaps not even what she really wanted in light of the new gifts life might offer. I knew that to be true from times in my own life where I clenched my heart to the unfairness of it all only to later dry my tears with humility and gratitude for what it eventually offered me.

Today I find solace when I turn to my practice and work the tenets so I am reminded how impermanent it all really is. Life is always changing and all I can do is be present for what is there for me in any moment. If I hold on to the past or rush to some unknown future, I fail to live. Instead, I can choose to be here now and let the water rush over me. I simply shift with the moment that is before me and suddenly I find myself in alignment with the master plan! 

Not easy, for sure. Often we need to sit with others to help us see how this is possible. It is difficult to find our way alone, we need good tools to be so versatile… but versatility– or surrender is what is needed–  and our ability to respond to what life is offering is directly related to the level of our overall happiness. The more I struggle with things not being as I would like, the more pain I am in. The more I awaken and sit with what is, even if what is–is pain, mourning, loss, happiness, success, failure, death, birth … the happier I am – because I am in alignment with nature. If I have faith that the divine is a much better artist then I could ever be I can see the amazing tapestry which has been created for me. If I choose a false sense of control I find myself lost in the failure and pain.

Here’s the thing: the more I am  capable of maneuvering through the flow of life, like a bird or a fish, just riding the flow, not thinking, just gracefully responding to what is, then I am always in the right place with no fear of loss. When I can find the courage to let go of my fear, what I am offered is the ability to ride life in its fullest expression. I sat with my friend for a long time knowing that part of this awakening is experiencing the pain of resistance and the best I could do for her in the moment is let her be and keep holding love and faith in my heart trusting her own divinity would do the rest.