Book Review

Warrior Pose:  How Yoga (Literally) Saved My Life
by Brad Willis (Bhava Ram)

"Warrior Pose, to be made into a full feature length film... due out in 2016. Hope it serves to bring more people to yoga as a pathway for healing and self-empowerment." --Bhava Ram


“Warrior Pose, to be made into a full feature length film… due out in 2016. Hope it serves to bring more people to yoga as a pathway for healing and self-empowerment.”
–Bhava Ram



This beautifully written book will inspire you to take charge of your health. Willis clearly illustrates the potential for transformation, from a presumed hopeless illness, to vibrant health. Most remarkable, is that he performs this miracle of self-healing in his 50s, when many people surrender to “aging,” expecting a downhill slide.

How many of us travel a path of material success, working obsessively at the cost of health and relationships? What is really important in life? The message of this book is that no matter what our situation, we have choices in each moment—how to live and how to think. We have within, the power to make positive changes and transform our lives.

Willis is a man of formidable commitment, as illustrated by his dedication to his career path and equally unwavering path of healing. What I like about this story, is that Willis shares in detail how—like most people—he first chose shortcuts instead of dealing with his problems. Mask the pain! Forge ahead with the career! Ignore the real issue because there is no time for treatment. No time! Life is too busy. When death loomed imminent, the love of his young son inspired Willis to take charge of his health.

Self-empowerment regarding one’s health seems rare these days. I teach yoga to college students. Many of these young people suffer from debilitating physical health conditions, severe depression, extreme anxiety, chronic migraines, and little passion for life. Many of them depend on drugs for mental and physical pain management, and have lost touch with their inner guides. Yet, I see shifts in these students when they add even a small amount of yoga to their lives—one hour, twice a week.

As I read this book I wondered—how many people would be willing or able to plunge into the intense course of healing that Willis describes? Would Willis’ journey intimidate or inspire the overwhelmed populace? My wish is that Willis’ riveting tales of news correspondent adventure will draw readers in, and his deeply honest accounts of his own disconnection to his emotional and physical life will act as a mirror, or personal connection with readers, for this common human experience. Those facing severe health issues can find new hope, and those facing more ordinary challenges can start with a few small steps and discover for themselves the healing power of yoga. A knowing that tremendous change is possible is the first step, and Willis gives us that.

Paint It Black

 

There is no good reason to let depression get me down, I say!

 

Paint It Black


Paint It Black

Life is like a succulent ripe strawberry, sweet, tart, and full of possibility. Yet some

days inspiration falters. I don’t feel like talking to anyone. I question my path in life. I wonder if I have what it takes to feel worthy of the precious gift of life.

 

Today was one of those days. I turned down all invitations and slunk through my house cleaning and fixing things. When the sun came out I went for a long run in the park. Nothing lifts my mood more than a good Spring cleaning. I deep cleaned my kitchen and chipped away at household clutter. I deep cleaned by body with raw foods and home brewed Kombucha. I cleaned my skin with exercise and a good sweat.

 

Transformation came unexpectedly when Continue reading

The Perfect Man For Me

 Life is


Life is

I have found

The perfect man

For me

 

He’s cute and charismatic But that’s not the point

 

What makes him perfect

For me

Is that

He lives 833 miles away

He’s not that into me

I can dream about him Anytime

And

I need not

Face

 

A relationship

 

 

Although I might say that we are dating regularly. About once a year. But he doesn’t call me, so I still need not fear a relationship.

Continue reading

I Know Why She Jumped Off the Bridge

 

Brilliant afternoon sun danced on Sedona’s red rocks as I rode with a friend through Oak Creek Canyon for a meditation and writing retreat. As we crossed the Midgley Bridge, my friend said “A woman jumped off Wednesday—third one this year.” She shook her head. “I don’t know why anyone would do that.”

 

“I know why she jumped off the bridge,” I said. I have lived in that dark place before, planning and fantasizing my escape. She asked why, but in that moment my words couldn’t convey the misery and desperation that leads someone to throw it all away.

 

It’s true what they say about suicide—it’s not a sudden, impulsive, reckless choice. It’s a well-considered decision born from a pain so long-standing and so intense that the will to live is worn away like the walls of the Grand Canyon.

"More people die by suicide at the Golden Gate Bridge than at any other site in the world." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Gate_Bridge


“More people die by suicide at the Golden Gate Bridge than at any other site in the world.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Gate_Bridge

 

If we’re born full of bliss and innate curiosity, how does this joy de vivre drain out of us? Continue reading

Balancing Moods & Healing Depression with Yoga

 

Almost everyone has experienced depression on some level, either the fluctuations of mood with life’s ups and downs, or major depression, characterized by depressed mood or irritability most of the day, nearly every day. In the United States over 21 million people suffer from depression annually. According to current statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health between 6-10% of the U.S. population are suffering from depression at any given time. Adolescents are the most at risk. A study done by the Journal of Clinical Psychology reported that depression costs about $44 billion annually, which includes psychiatric care, lost work days, and decreased productivity. This does not include the 86 billion dollars a year that Americans spend on Antidepressants! These statistics are a few years old, and likely much lower than reality, because they only include reported cases.

 

The good news is that yoga can help all forms of mood disturbance. When you’re fully in yoga (union of body, mind and spirit) mood reactions to the events of life fade, because you’re present in the moment. Being present means flowing with life, versus judging it, so even the ups and downs don’t register as “good” or “bad” anymore. Events are just events and each one presents an opportunity. Our moods give us messages about our lives (such as “This isn’t working for me!”), and give us opportunities to make new choices that will make us feel better.

 

Yoga shows us that we already have everything we need, including the love of pure spirit, which infuses every part of the universe.

 

 

How do we bring this level of yoga into our daily lives?

Continue reading

My Wildest Dreams

What if your dreams all came true? I challenge you to consider that they already have. What we “wish” for is actually what we think about the most. So if we obsessively ponder our problems all day, we are sending our vital energy into re-creating those problems. If we constantly focus our thoughts on the anxiety of an uncertain future, we miss what’s happening right now. Life is right now.

 

But what about those Wild Dreams? How do we make them come true if we’re always caught up in the moment?

 

Manifesting is a bit mysterious. It begins with an intention. I talk a lot with my yoga classes about creating specific visions of how we want our lives to be. Before or after we meditate we take a moment to experience our most cherished feeling, or to picture our ideal lives, including the sounds, smells, tastes, sensations and sights that bring it to life. I like to experience a feeling of joy growing in my heart and tingling through my whole body. From this place it’s easy to imagine myself doing the things I love, spending time with my dear ones, surrounded by beauty, and contributing my work happily to the world.

 


The Realm of Infinite Possibilities

 

The interesting thing about intentions is that they don’t always manifest exactly the way we picture. Sometimes they manifest in amazing ways we could have never imagined. Other times we get something different, but it gives us the feeling we were seeking in a better way.

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How Last Year’s 3 Greatest Challenges Transformed My Life

I didn’t realize how great 2011 was for me until my metaphysical friend Dennis Andres asked me over Thai food for my top three highlights of the year. Strange and wonderful things came up:

 


At The Summit: Audrey, Sage, Nik, Mike & Melissa

#1.    Taking my sons Nikolas and Sage (11 and 10 years old) up the Grand Teton with their father, Exum Mountain Guide Michael Abbey AND his girlfriend. This was significant to me for several reasons. First off, the Grand is a challenging mountaineering adventure for most adults, including myself. I was impressed to watch my boys persevere through whipping winds, chilling temperatures, sleep deprivation, continuous and strenuous hiking, snow field crossing and technical rock climbing. We achieved 7000 feet of elevation gain to reach the summit at 13,770 feet. The kids learned to use mountaineering axes, carried their own gear, and—except for one brief cold-and-hunger-induced meltdown—were joyful and enthusiastic. Now all this is nice and inspiring, but also significant for me is to have come so far since my divorce as to be able to happily embark on this adventure with my ex, and the woman he left me for. It’s been five years, and my feelings have changed radically from despair and anger, to acceptance and friendliness. I was also impressed to watch how calmly, safely, and professionally Mike guided us. Although I rock climbed with him for ten years, mountaineering is a more serious undertaking, and involving children requires the utmost attention and patience. During high season Mike takes clients up the Grand several times a week, and when we got down he commented on how guiding his own family was far more difficult than he expected. Yet he maintained a cool, controlled demeanor that projected the confidence we needed to carry on. I’m heartened to see how well he engages his career.

 

#2    Losing my primary job teaching yoga at a community college. I know, that’s not supposed to be a highlight! Dennis asked me if it was tough when I first got the news. I did feel a pang of loss, but my immediate reaction was relief and I said “Thank you.” Neither the dean nor I knew right away how thankful I was. I’d been fantasizing about leaving this job for some time. When Dennis asked me why I wanted to quit, I couldn’t explain it. I loved my job in many ways. I loved my students. I had great benefits. I could ride my bike through a lovely park to work. But I was constantly overwhelmed. My important dreams were falling away, because I didn’t have time to think about them anymore. I felt unhappy. I knew that while teaching is definitely my path, this role was not a good fit, even though I wasn’t sure why. So when budget issues required cutting my classes, I felt bittersweet gratitude that I had been spared, and the universe was forcing me to get back on track towards my Dharma, or purpose in life. One of the first things I did in this direction was start a yoga Meetup group to stay in touch with my City College Students.

 


Yoga & Meditation Adventure Meetup
Photo Credit: Nikolas Karolides

My Meetup group now has 127 yogis, including current college students and community members. Every Friday that I’m in town, rain or shine, we meet in the park to practice yoga amidst the rustling trees and scampering squirrels. I love this experience of connecting with nature while practicing yoga. Sometimes the lesson is the joy of the sun’s warmth, fall days we’re greeted by gold, rust, and fiery red maple leaves, and on a rare morning it’s the tickle of misting rain. Always, it’s spontaneous and real.

 

#3    Lost love. This one is the most unexpected for me, and at first I didn’t want to admit this as a highlight to myself or to Dennis. First the back-story. I have not felt inclined to date since my divorce. In five years I’ve gone on less than a dozen dates, and in all cases the experience was lukewarm, resulted in a desire for only friendship, or there was some glaring glitch that killed any thoughts of engaging in relationship—like he got smashed on the first date, smoked or didn’t exercise, or he was still fighting with his former wife. But last month I had this one, really fun date. Yep, just one. It didn’t work out. Although we exchanged a few friendly texts, he never called me or asked me out again. I was crazy about him, and when I realized that it wasn’t happening, I was devastated for a full 24-hours. I was singing Adele’s “Someone Like You” while mincing parsley. I wondered what went wrong. Was it my sleep-deprived delirium from driving 800 miles and the silly things I subsequently said? Should I have not told him I liked him? Am I too fat? Was it that I didn’t dress up and wear make-up or earrings? Or is it my underlying low self-esteem, which subconsciously dictated that I don’t deserve this guy and I energetically pushed him away? Oh, the ranting of a heartbroken female mind! I decided that it was better to be single than go through the torture of dating ever-ever-ever again.

 


The Players are Swift, Small & Sly

Fortunately four people gave me some perspective. A woman named Connie Baxter Marlow whom I met while playing pond hockey in Aspen, introduced me to “The Trust Frequency” and esoterically reminded me that the Universe loved me so much as to give me the experience that reflected my inner world and my soul’s path. “There is only love,” she said. All this, after we discussed her retreats for aligning our beliefs with our highest selves, and I made a flippant comment like, “So if I believed I deserved love, the guy who’s blowing me off would actually call me?” And she answered, “Yes!!” Oh my, I’ve got work to do! The next day I arrived in Sedona, and Dear Dennis led me through a process where I reflected on why I feel as if I AM good enough to be in a healthy relationship. After what seemed like forever, actually 6 seconds (Dennis was timing), I burst into tears because I couldn’t think of a single thing. Dennis directed me to ignore my brain and listen to my heart. Finally “I am” arose. I deserve love, just because “I am.” This quality of beingness is all that life offers. All we need to do is show up with a spontaneous heart and see what happens next.

 


Sarah on the cover of her new book!

A while later I was with my dear friends Sarah and Marty, who are both brilliant and amusing in their approach to life. Sarah shared some thoughts she had about me recently that she said set me apart from others, and they surprised me, because they are exactly how I view her! She said I live with integrity, I am authentic, and I strive to grow personally more than anyone else she knows. Wow! I wrote her thoughts down, because embracing these qualities as my own is my ticket to the self-esteem I have been struggling with. Then Marty introduced me to “The Four Man Plan.” We watched a hilarious You Tube clip, and bursting with laughter I said, “You’ve got to be kidding, I don’t want to date at all, and I’m supposed to date FOUR MEN AT ONCE?” In my 20s I once dated three men at once, and it was horrendous running around like that. The difference in “The Four Man Plan” is a specific strategy involving total honesty and side-by-side comparisons (before sex) while shopping around for the most honest, loving and willing partner. Marty pointed out that while my friend seemed to be honest and loving, he obviously wasn’t willing. Meanwhile, we were listening to my estranged friend’s cd, and among other tunes, a sweet cover of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t think Twice, It’s Alright.” Marty sagely blurted:  “Listen to those songs he resonates with enough to sing so beautifully—they’re about relationships ending! Lost love! That’s the space he’s in!” We laughed some more. Ironically, the first song I taught myself on the piano, specifically so I could sing along, was “Speed of the Sound of Loneliness.”  Of course it had to end before it began. How lucky I find myself, surrounded by clever and present-in-the moment friends when life gets tricky for me.

 

I can’t think of a better way to wrap up a year than with a reality check. I loved experiencing the flirtation, the arising of desire, feeling young and silly, the intrigue of the unknown, and finally feeling like it was possible to like someone again. The seed is planted for a bright future, even though it didn’t work out this time. Dylan said it so aptly:  “Well, it ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, babe…it don’t matter anyhow…” I had a terrific moment with this guy. Memories and dreams for the future can be nice, but the only thing real, is THIS moment.

 


The Promise of a Bright New Day
Photo Credit: Melissa Karolides ©2012

 

Check out my website www.createyourdream.net and Facebook page!  Upcoming events include teaching at The Yoga of Writing, an amazing retreat hosted by Sarah McLean, author of  Soul-Centered: Transform Your Life in 8 Weeks with Meditation.

 

 

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