• Opening Our Heart

    Each time we look to another to make us feel better or valued we give our power away to them. Feeling better about ourselves, our life, and feeling valued are all inside jobs. Nothing outside of us will give us what we need because we already know deep within what we need. We just need to show up ready to pay attention to ourselves.

    I’m often asked, “How can I open my heart more?” This topic can be really challenging since the key to opening our heart lies in loving ourselves, which is difficult for a majority of us to do. When it comes to putting ourselves on the back burner to serve another, we excel, but when we try to focus some of that attention on ourselves, we often fall short. One of the reasons for that has to do with the way we’ve been programmed which started in our early years, so we honestly don’t know any better. Now that I’m older I can see very clearly how self-love was not part of my upbringing through my parents as my role models, nor any of my extended adult family members. I wasn’t even aware of what self-love was, so I evolved without it often putting my needs last.

    My first awareness that I lacked self-love came at the age of 43 in 2005 at a Debbie Ford workshop at the Omega Center in NYC. I remember her suddenly asking the question, “What do you fear other people finding out about you?” In that moment my life came front, and center and I burst into tears unexpectedly. I wasn’t even aware of what I had been suppressing until that moment. I had just started my journey as a healer, a Reiki Master, and was also in the final months of my Holistic Coaching studies at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition but the truth was I felt like a fraud because I wasn’t a size 4 talking about healthy eating. I was a size 12. My perception of self was completely distorted, and I broke down in front of the hundred or so people attending the workshop. I could not see my own beauty because I never learned how. My mom was 5’10’’ and a size 14. She was always on a diet and never saw her own worth or beauty so she could not help me see mine. Instead, she always encouraged me to go to Weight Watchers with her. I didn’t get the magnitude of my lack of self-love until this workshop, which was only the tip of the iceberg. My eyes were open to my own pain and suffering; my heart was closed to loving me.

    In this workshop, I saw examples of my life flashing in front of my eyes over and over. I remember being young going to visit my grandparents. They were German and always cooked something odd that I didn’t want to eat like pig’s knuckles and sauerkraut. I didn’t like the smell and was sure I wouldn’t like the taste. My mom told me to “Be nice” and “Don’t say that to grandma”. I didn’t realize at five years old that I was already being groomed to ignore my opinions and feelings because they had little value. My job was to make another feel good even if I was not telling the truth. My parents were doing their best, I don’t blame them. They were most likely keeping the peace for themselves through me. Parents teach their children what they have learned. Their beliefs become our beliefs and our authenticity can be stifled. We forget our needs because we are unsure of how to respond out of fear of getting it wrong.

    Where does self-love enter our life? If we’re not taught to love ourselves at home or in school, and there’s no class on self-nurturing, how do we know it’s important to feed ourselves our own love? We really won’t know so we could end up looking for love on the outside, trying to find people who can make us feel the way we would like to feel. This creates more difficulty because we are still giving our power away to another, expecting them to be the one to show us how amazing, beautiful, and special we are. What if they only do that in the beginning and then if things change, they no longer tell us those things we need to hear? We could then be in search of the next person who will tell us how wonderful we are and rely on them to make us feel special. That is called Co-dependence which outsources our power. This is a looping cycle we become locked into like a hamster on a wheel until the one day we walk into the right workshop, with the right mentor, who helps us realize we’ve had the power all along! We didn’t come with a user’s manual so we go through life and experience the ups and downs which will finally make us stop searching outside and go within. We begin to ask questions like, “Why is love so hard?” and “What’s wrong with me?” “Am I unlovable?” The answer of course is that it’s not hard, there’s nothing wrong with us, we are very loveable. We just need to see our own beauty and value.

    The moment we stop chasing what is outside of us and come back within we can shift everything and the need for another outside of us to make us feel whole is no longer necessary. Each time we look to another to make us feel better or valued we give our power away to them. Feeling better about ourselves, our life, and feeling valued are all inside jobs. Nothing outside of us will give us what we need because we already know deep within what we need. We just need to show up ready to pay attention to ourselves. When someone presents a challenge and makes us feel diminished in some way it’s because through soul contracts, we’ve asked them to step up as our mirror so the lack of love we have for ourselves can be reflected back at us. Eventually, enough becomes enough and that’s when change happens. We must take our power back by loving ourselves enough to not want to suffer anymore. This act of Self-love is the first step to expanding our heart center.

    Going within and loving ourselves takes courage. It’s the most important part of opening our heart and establishing a direct connection with our inner being. When we start to work with self-love, we must be in tune to our own heart, which requires we do a self-assessment in order to begin to establish a relationship with ourselves. We must begin to put our needs first in all situations and say no to things we do not feel aligned with. This may be looked at as selfish but it’s an important part of our journey. It helps us connect to what love feels like when we support ourselves doing things that feel right within as opposed to saying yes and suffering through something we don’t want to do.

    What is our inner being? That’s our soul self — the part of us that our intuition originates from. It’s the part of us that will help steer us down the proper path, if we allow it to. This is another key aspect of ourselves we were not taught about at an early age, unless you had parents who were practicing spirituality. Our inner being always has our best interest at heart because it’s the seat of our soul and the very essence of who we are. Its purpose is to love us even when we are not loving ourselves. It leads us to the well within ourselves where love is in abundance. Our job is to recognize its soft voice from the loud voice of the ego which was meant to keep us playing small.

    What is love? Love can feel elusive especially if we haven’t had much experience with it, but in order to know ourselves deeply, we must form a love relationship with ourselves. When we can understand how love feels, we are able to give love to another as well as receive it in return. I’ve had many experiences where I thought I had received the love of another and later realized after a painful experience, it was not actually love. When I looked at this with clarity, I saw with sadness what I had not seen previously — they were incapable of offering me their love because they didn’t value themselves, and therefore, couldn’t value me. If we are depleted from our own love and attention, then we are giving from an empty glass. How could an empty glass fill up another or quench their thirst? It can’t. Love must be given from a loving heart not a heart in lack.

    Many of us have trained ourselves to operate from a place of lack so we are always operating from a glass less than full believing that we are giving the best of ourselves… but are we? If we are operating at half a glass capacity, we don’t have much to offer another. They are not getting our complete best or the fullness of our love because we have not filled our glass. You can equate this to your bank account. You can’t keep giving money out without taking money in. After a while, you will have nothing to give or pay your bills with. Our love works the same. Energy is energy; money and love are both energies. If we don’t have it, we can’t offer it. Now that we see the truth in how important it is to fill our own cup, why aren’t we doing this as part of our everyday routine?

    It’s time to recognize our own importance and focus on ourselves first. When we do things for ourselves that feels good, and it shows. When we tune inwards and offer ourselves love first our cup is full and even overflowing at times, making it possible to share our cup of goodness with others. Doing things that support and make ourselves happy opens and expands our heart center. The more we open our heart the more we feel love, joy, bliss, and believe it or not, freedom! Yes, freedom is part of the heart center package. When we are happy life flows, we flow, and everything just falls in place. When we are not happy and feel unloved or unfulfilled, we are not operating from our fullness. The lack of self-love stops the flow of universal energy, and as a result, our vibration is low. We cannot create or expand our heart when our vibration is low. When our heart is open and full of love, we are in a higher vibrational state of being and universal energy is in great abundance. When we are operating from our heart, we do not notice the lower-level struggle or challenges life throws our way because we step over them with ease and grace. Everything becomes easier. Challenges become diminished in our life experience because they are not a match for our high vibration, which is based in self-love. Did you know that self-love raises our vibration? It does!

    When we are in a high vibe state, full of love, we are naturally more present within ourselves. We gravitate towards doing things for ourselves that nourishes as opposed to depletes us. Things like eating clean and healthy foods may require us to invest time and energy in grocery shopping, as well as preparing our meal. Making time to be in nature is another thing we can do to open and expand our heart center. When we make time to be in nature, we are present with the Earth and everything within her realm. We just need to tune into the energy of the trees, birds etc. to feel joy and contentment, all of which feed self-love.

    Exercise is another thing we can do to help ensure our body stays strong and flexible. Yoga is great for this. One of the beautiful things about Yoga is it brings us within and back to center, requiring us to focus on our posture and form. We can use our practice to gage where we are in serving our-self. A daily practice of poses that would assist and support in opening our heart center would be extremely beneficial in bringing in the energy of self-love. Poses such as puppy pose, cobra, locust pose, and bow pose would be the most beneficial.

    Self-talk is also a very important part of opening and expanding our heart center. Words, thoughts and actions set intention in motion. We must pay attention to everything we are creating, as well as where we are placing our attention. Self judgement through negative thoughts, words and actions can keep us locked in a lower vibration. Positive self-talk is just as important as doing things for ourselves that make us feel good. I see so many people doing amazing things for themselves, but they negate all of it with negative self-talk. This seems to be one of the most difficult areas for people when it comes to loving themselves. Once our vibration falls it takes a lot of work to raise it back up and hold feelings of happiness and joy, which are based in love.

    Love is energy, based in its own frequency of 528 Hz. If we want to feel love and open our heart center, we must tune our vibration to the frequency of love. This means that we must do things for ourselves that are an energetic match to the frequency of love. This is why it’s so important to find out and know what the frequency of love “feels” like within and bring in more of that. We can’t use our mind; we must feel it to know it. If we expect our frequency to be raised by things and people outside of ourselves, we are in trouble. When we hold love we have the power to help shift someone into their own love. When everyone around us feels the power of our love, we all win!

    If you are unsure of what love feels like a simple exercise would be to lay in bed at night just before you’re ready to fall asleep. Place your hands on your heart and tell your heart you love it. As you are doing this think about how it’s always there for you, more than anyone else you know. Think about how your heart holds up its end of the bargain by performing its simple job of beating in each moment to sustain your life. Now take a step back and look at how many years it’s been doing that. See how you have not paid attention to your own heart? We should never offer our heart to another unless they are going to care for our heart the way our heart cares for us.

    Another exercise is to stand in front of the mirror and place your hands on your heart. Look deep into your own eyes and tell yourself how much you love yourself for all the magic you are. Start pointing out all the things that are unique about who you are. You are, after all, the only one like you. Next, look at all the ways you stop yourself from truly experiencing happiness in your life. Make decisions now to improve it instead of waiting until a future moment or event.

    We must be present to see all we are creating. We want to make choices that are highly aligned with our own joy and happiness in each moment. This means doing a personal inventory of what feels good and not just going with the flow because everyone else is doing it. When we go with the flow we are not in our own personal alignment and this will bring our energy down. Being present and showing up for ourselves must be our priority so we can be at our personal best for ourselves and everyone else around us. Self-love is the key to expanding our heart and opening us up to our greatest joy.

    By Maria Deesy

    Maria is an Energy Intuitive, Ascension Guide and Wayshower working within the energetic blueprint of both Gaia and her clients to access and assist in transmuting trauma at all levels. Maria’s also able to read to solar frequencies of the cosmos and can provide insight Into the energies presenting in order to better navigate our physical experience during our Ascension. Her work supports the awakening process of humanity. Connect with Maria on the following sites: website, blog, Instagram, or Twitter. Copyright©2020 MariaDeesy.com

    Photo by Amy Shamblen on Unsplash

  • Encyclopedia of Yoga: Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

    Yoga comes from India, and especially India’s historic past.  If you have ever made the trip to India, one thing that is definitely ubiquitous on the streets of India are, cows. This is a pose that always brings me right back to the spiritual heart of the practice and the trips that I have made to study with my teacher in Mysore.

    It is traditionally translated as the “cow facing pose” or “the cow pose.” Another way to think about this posture is what the cow–the Go–actually symbolizes. The cow is the sacred symbol of the being, like the Earth, which is willing to give more than she receives.

    The Lesson of Patience and Kindness

    We could think about Gomukhasana as teaching us the lesson of patience and kindness, of respect and, really, sustainability. In the easy version of the pose, if you start off from a comfortable seated position, you will pick your knees up, and then layer your right knee over the left. Drawing the left knee in.

    First, the knees are elevated. Then, come forward until the knees kind of stack on top of each other. You can let the feet open as much as necessary, as to be comfortable for you.  If it is easier for you, you can grab your feet and bring them in.  This will increase the demand of the internal rotation of the hips.

    Even though your knees kind of point to the side, they are actually rolling towards each other in the ball and socket of the hip joint to create a foundation. It may feel like you want to tilt back, but to move into Gomukhasana, you want to lift your sacrum up and forward so you almost feel like you are about to lift your sitting bones off the ground. Don’t lift them off the ground, but feel as though you are about to lift them off of the ground.

    Then, place your left hand on top of the right knee.  Your right hand on top, and just a nice, easy chin down. Keep a little activation in the legs, and draw the belly in. Moving into this version of Gomukhasana is almost a meditative pose. There is a softness in the body. A softness. A calm, inner awareness. If you notice there is any tension in the front of your hip, see if you can soften a little bit, keeping the activation in the pelvic bowl.

    Creating Length and Space

    Work on challenging Gomukhasana. Take your right hand up, reaching it back behind you.  holding onto your right elbow with the left hand, and then just, layer it back. Then, drop the left arm down, and see if it is possible to reach your hands for each other, behind your back. It may not be possible, so you could just leave the hands in position, and we will hold here for just a moment. Nice breath in, soften through the shoulders, and create length and space through the center line. Let it go down. You are noticing an internal rotation of the left shoulder, and an external rotation of the right shoulder.

    Openness in the Shoulders

    If that was impossible for you, another option to create some openness in the shoulders, is to sort of do the Eagle arm position.  Your right hand, and the left hand layers, raising the arms up. In this version, you are going to look up at the thumbs, finding the center line.  This is that not-stressful version. Do not hit it too hard, just let your body kind of ease its way into the pose. If the easy Gomukhasana is not really comfortable for you, just work on whatever level is appropriate for where you are at.

    Work on the Balance

    The cow facing pose, Gomukhasana, from Ashtanga Yoga, comes at the end of the second series, which is a challenging series. We will start off in the relaxed cow position. The knees cross over each other, using that internal rotation. To get yourself into that full, kind of, elevated, lifted Gomukhasana position, you want to come all the way forward.  Your knees almost layer on top of each other.

    Cross at the top of the thighs. Instead of the feet apart, just bring the feet towards each other. Drawing the belly in, settle the hips gently down. As you settle the hips gently down, you will feel like there is nothing to sit on. You are actively squeezing the legs into each other, and you are squeezing the knees down. Settling your hips back onto your feet, avoid rounding your back, and then, perch yourself forward in the same way.  Keep your hips close to your feet. Take your hands down onto your thighs, work on the balance.

    Interlock the Fingers

    Only if you work on the balance, then, lean forward, and interlock your fingers under you knees. You can round your back to get the grip, but then, pop your chest forward. This balance is very precarious. Gaze down the bridge of the nose, holding it there for a moment.

    The Full Posture

    Then, you can layer yourself forward by squeezing the knees slightly forward, keeping your sternum oriented in line with the pubic bone. Pubic bone, forward.  Your legs should feel a little active. Your pelvic floor should be on. Avoid rounding the back, but pop the chest forward.  Like that easy version of Gomukhasana, right hand reaches back, left one around, and find that center line. Lift the chest up, and forward.  Now, the gaze up, here, is real precarious, because you feel like you do not have that stable foundation of your hips down.  You are really actively squeezing yourself into the pose. I always seem to almost lose the balance when I look up. You want to find a small spot and gaze at that spot. Then gently release it, taking your hands down. Come on down to that easy version of Gomukhasana.

    Gomukhasana, the cow facing pose, will help you find a calm and even center. When you have that tightness in your shoulders, what can happen is that, your shoulders kind of cave in and collapse the heart. As you practice Gomukhasana, your heart center opens. Your heart expands. The shoulders relax and you can find the happy freedom, the trusting heart of the spiritual center, really, of the sacred. Remember that when you are practicing a deceptively simple pose, like Gomukhasana, there are hidden benefits along the spirit that will start to shine through as you begin to practice. I hope you keep the seed of peace in your heart, and the inspiration to practice everyday. Namaste.

    By Kino MacGregor

    Why do you practice yoga? Kino Macgregor Ashtanga Yoga teacher, OMstars

    Learn More from Kino on Omstars.com

    Kino MacGregor is a world renowned Ashtanga Yoga teacher, the author of several yoga inspired books, including The Yogi Assignment, and founder of OmStars.com. Practice the Ashtanga Yoga Full Primary Series online with Kino to get started on your journey today.