0 comments on “Cracks in the Pot Let the Light Come Through”

Cracks in the Pot Let the Light Come Through

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By Alyssa Rachel Gross

Have you ever scrolled down Facebook and felt “icky” afterwords? There’s a reason for that.

We often feel the need to lead our lives glazing over the “cracks” in who we are. We feel trapped by the inability to express our deepest frustrations, failures, insecurities or weaknesses.

In an age of social media, all we can do is show our vibrant social lives plastered with smiles in the happiest of times. We’re linked in to each “like” we get and the subsequent hits of dopamine to our brains. We’re physiologically wiring our brains for the instantaneous and transitory need of external validation.

On the other hand, I look to Facebook, Instagram and other social media for inspirational messages, news and to share in the lives of my friends and family. In many ways, it’s helpful. There’s nothing wrong with sharing our moments of joy with our extended social networks.

However, for me, as someone who experiences times of “funks” or downright depression, social media is not always my friend. On some level, social media has taught me that not all parts of myself are acceptable.

What about those moments that we feel are not Facebook worthy? We dropped the ball at work. We failed on our diet. We didn’t stick to our commitments. We didn’t do what we said we’d do.

A few months ago, I shared on social media that I’d finally quit smoking. I was hoping that the social accountability would help me quit but it didn’t at least not long term. Do I take down the post declaring my abstinence from smoking? What about all the people I inspired or who cheered me on? What happens when people see me on the street with a cigarette? Am I a fraud? I didn’t share those sentiments.

Facebook amplifies this disconnect between the image we show to the world and the person we can be in quiet moments. Perhaps, that’s why most of us never slow down enough to think or be with ourselves in moments of solitude. The prospect is too scary.

Who are we when we are not crafting the perfect narrative of ourselves to share with the world? Is that person still worthy of love, acceptance and respect? Sometimes, it doesn’t feel that way when for the majority of the day we are plugged in to seeing the veneer of perfection in the lives of others.

Yet, we don’t have the option to discard with those parts of who we are, the less than perfect.

While, I’m content with who I am when my head hits the pillow at night, I usually have my smart phone in hand scrolling through the blue glow before heading to sleep. I drift off wondering if I’m really as good, as full, as I thought I was in comparison to everyone else.

What happens when we’re struggling personally but link into the perfection of others’ Facebook profiles? We might not love our husband or wife. We might feel that the demands of life are driving us to our wits end. We may be in a job that feels like it’s going nowhere. We might be experiencing feelings of depression. We may be struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction. The list is endless. Where do these “cracks” in our lives fit into the realm of our social images and persona?

We’ve placed Facebook and social media at the crux of expressing who we are within our social lives. It’s become a place wherein we present everything from the random thought, to deeply held beliefs, the birth of a child and even the loss of a family member.

However, this virtual “home” is missing the key component that allows us to be whole, unified, complete individuals – cracks and all. This limitation of social media is part of the breaking point at which we need to disconnect, unplug and step into the real world.

We may not need to shout all our perceived shortcomings to the world virtually or otherwise. But, we secretly harbor that knowledge that we carry them with us as elements of our personality. The dichotomy we are creating, often unconsciously, between our social media persona and the person we are in our daily lives leads to a fragmented view of ourselves between that which we can share with others and that which is deemed unacceptable.

Facebook has become our virtual homes; a lifeline to our social connections. Yet, home is not simply a location made up of news feeds, the glow of a smart phone or Wi-Fi service. Home is the place where we can truly let our guard down, warts and all. To be all of who we are and still feel a sense of love, acceptance and belonging.

We’ve become so adept at creating these rock solid social images. Concomitantly, it now takes twice the effort in order to be vulnerable and connect with our truest most authentic selves. Deep within this external façade there is a person, a real person, who exists. How do we respond to this cognitive dissonance?

As Naguib Mahfouz says, “Home is where all your attempts to escape cease.” That includes no longer running from the messy, confusing and downright conflicting parts of ourselves. Home is a feeling of completeness that resides within and manifests without. Don’t settle for less.

While social media can be utilized in a number of great ways, it cannot be the mirror defining who we are. In fact, it often points us in all the wrong directions into a pit of comparison, judgment and self-criticism by setting up unrealistic expectations.

A real home is imbued with the knowledge that even as a “cracked pot” you are beautiful and worthy. Flowers can and do grow within you. The sliver of ourselves that most of us present on social media cannot compensate for the need to find our own tribe, our own home in the tactile world. I am here to proclaim that “I am perfectly imperfect”.

Each day, there are demons of unworthiness, doubts and insecurities that chase after me. But, no longer do they need to define me. Let us compassionately and gently let go of those burdens; the expectations of others that we’ve come to internalize are simply not that important.

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FB_IMG_1432670028056Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Alyssa Gross. Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Alyssa is a thirsty soul looking to help create and sustain spirituality, mindfulness, and positivity within community. She invites you to come along. For future articles and features email her at alyssarachelgross@yahoo.com or follow her on Instagram at @alyssagee00


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1 comment on “A Yoga Teacher’s Review of…Pokémon Go…”

A Yoga Teacher’s Review of…Pokémon Go…

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By Ashley Holly McEachern

Guilty as charged. Just days after Pokémon Go – Niantic and Nintendos’ crowd pleasing app- hit the market, I joined my tech-nerd of a boyfriend for a walk down Toronto’s Bloor West neighbourhood, armed with a big screen iPhone and a map of my city and its lurking Pokémon. During the two hours we ended up wandering through the nooks and crannies of our neighbourhood streets, I felt a blurry collision of complete outrage for the deepening of an already technologically addicted society and absolute awe at the fact that this ‘nintendo’ game was taking otherwise sedentary human beings walking through the great outdoors. With that in mind, here are my top ten reasons why Pokémon Go, while not without its faults, isn’t all bad. In fact, Pokémon Go just might be the antithesis to a culture that stays at home and plays video games, risking their emotional, energetic and physical health. Here is why:

1. People are walking. We walked for two entire hours. Imagine how two hours of active movement rather than sitting, even just once a week, can astronomically transform a person’s health and wellness. During the first week Pokémon Go launched, people were posting incredible Fitbit screenshots on Instagram of the 1,500-3,000 extra calories they had burned just from playing Pokémon Go one day.

2. People are exploring. We meandered into streets we hadn’t visited just minutes from our home and admired art on local schools and graffiti in nearby alleyways. My neighbourhood PokéStops (or points of interest) were awe-inspiring to the point that I started to forget I was in my own country, let alone my own city. The game became a travel guide to my own community, with secrets I somehow hadn’t uncovered until Pokémon Go came around.

3. People are engaging. Two weeks ago, I watched the world walk past, with their eyes stuck on their screens. Those folks never looked up to observe or gawk at an interesting monument or piece of art. Now, when Pokémon Go pops up a PokéStop, they do.

4. People are connecting. Despite the head down posture and eyes glued to the screen requirement of playing Pokémon Go, truth is, people are leaving the dark cyber corners of their homes and discovering other people – other real, beautiful, living, and breathing human beings – who share the same interests and passions. For many single 90’s children, this just might be the next best way to ‘catch’ a date.

5. Families are playing together. Rather than watching television together over snacks, or, more realistically, watching a series of separate shows at each persons individual laptop or iPad – families are hitting the city streets, with their kids, learning, navigating, and exploring. The game provides ample opportunities for parents and kids to connect and teach and learn together.

6. People are dancing. Maybe not all of them, but we did. In fact, on our spontaneous trip to the local park, my partner threw the phone into his pocket and pulled me onto an outdoor stage, where we slow danced beneath the urban stars amidst the cell phone glows and shadows lurking around us.

7. People are going to the GYM… and maybe, just maybe, the repetition of that word alone will filter into their subconscious and encourage them to go to an actual, literal, gym to ease all the inevitable head and neck pain that will come with Pokémon Go playing.

8. People are taking action. In Sudbury, community members involved with the local Pokémon Go Facebook Group had arranged to meet at a local park to play the game together – when faced with city demands for a permit – Pokémon players stood strong as a united front and one player declared that “this game has brought so many people close to each other,” and now the group is working to raise money to rent the park. Who knows what the Pokémon playing forces could accomplish as a united front!

9. People are going outdoors. Despite being hyper-connected to technology, Pokémon Go players are spending more time in nature, which can increase depleted energy, awaken breath awarenes, and sense experiences. The amount of sunlight, fresh air, and active movement Pokémon Go is providing to a predominantly sedentary population is priceless.

10. People are smiling. Perhaps the most powerful series of social media posts I have uncovered post-Pokémon Go relate to how the game – and all of the aforementioned points – have helped to ease the very things most of my students come to yoga for – stress, depression, loneliness, and anxiety. One twitter user posits, “#PokemonGO has honestly helped so much with my depression and anxiety I’m actually talking to people and being active I love this so much,” while another declares, “Real talk – as someone with anxiety/depression, the fact that I’ve spent most of this weekend outside with friends is unreal. #PokemonGo,” to the most powerful post this week, “I’ve made so many new friends with #PokemonGO, it’s helped my social anxiety, and I’m actually getting out. This is more than just a game.”

While I don’t plan on spending my forthcoming days chasing Pokémon, I believe that this shift in gaming – to an outdoor, interactive, and social environment – can have unprecedented benefits for a specific population of people who might never come to the yoga studio. My belief is that yoga is a practice of union and wellbeing, two things I think this new app have already mastered.

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IMG_1395Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Ashley Holly McEachern, who discovered yoga after completing her MA in International Development and working with some of the world’s most at-risk populations. It was during a Yoga Teacher Training in the Sacred Valley of Peru where she realized that mindfulness is the path towards truly eradicating disease, poverty, and exploitation. Ashley currently lives in Toronto, leads yin yoga teacher trainings at YYOGA, consults with Skyfall Blue and Core Essence, and writes for various blogs and magazines across the globe. Visit her online at www.ashleyholly.com and follow her adventures on Instagram.

0 comments on “Crowdfunding Meditation Across the World: See & Do Together Could Use a Little Spare Change”

Crowdfunding Meditation Across the World: See & Do Together Could Use a Little Spare Change

saagara--meditate with the world--see and do together

How cool would it be to meditate with millions of people across the world at the same time?  It would be totally awesome!

Well, we’re big fans of the mindfulness-based tech company, Saagara, which recently launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to aid in the development of a new meditation app that will hopefully stretch the limits of global meditation.  The new campaign platform, See & Do Together, will work in tandem with their upcoming app, Universal Meditation, to allow users to engage in group meditation without actually sharing a physical space. Saagara hopes to use this platform to attain one of their ultimate goals: one million people meditating in unison regardless of location.

Saagara’s goal is to raise $150,000 to fund the completion of this project and I’m sure they’d be happy for any spare change you can grub out of the couch to help the cause of bringing millions together in meditation.

Here’s a little video about the project:

If nothing else, you should check out the See & Do Together Facebook page for some inspiring meditation quotes and graphics.  These are a few of my favorites.

saagara--group meditation

saagara--look inside

saagara--still the mind

saagara--thoreau

saagara--conquer the mind

If you’re interested in donating, I also found this video that lays out the awards for the different donation levels.

Have a great weekend and namaste!

2 comments on “Lululemon’s Yoga for (SeaWheeze) Runners = Match Made in Heaven”

Lululemon’s Yoga for (SeaWheeze) Runners = Match Made in Heaven

I’ve long been a big believer that…

yoga + running = a match made in heaven.

This smooth 30 minute yoga practice, led by official lululemon SeaWheeze ambassador Kerri Kelly, is perfect for runners who need to get a little bendy after pounding the pavement.

mzl.uzxncxao.320x480-75I won’t be able to run SeaWheeze this year, but I was really impressed by lulu’s new SeaWheeze half-marathon training app for iOS. The SeaWheeze app [Update: SeaWheeze app is no longer available; here is a link to the lululemon app] is

one part pocket sized personal trainer, one part DJ and one part Vancouver city guide. Beginner and intermediate training programs include cross training, yoga and running options designed to help you reach your running goals, regardless if you’re training for SeaWheeze or another half marathon. The app lets you track your training, share your progress and listen to incredible music to keep you motivated.

I don’t really need the Vancouver city guide (right now), but I can definitely use the personal training and DJ features. It would be an especially awesome tool if they eventually allowed users to select their own training start dates so it can be effectively used for other races. But, for what it is–the SeaWheeze Half-Marathon app–it does a pretty amazing job. Check out all the details on lululemon’s blog.

Happy running and stretchy yoga goodness, friends:)