LIFE AFTER 200 HOURS OF YOGA

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AMBER LOVE 17-AUG-2017 Thank you for all your patience as Vodka O’Clock was on hold while I attended Yoga teacher training in NJ and PA. I hope everyone has enjoyed The Winchester-Nabu Detective Agency stories available to Patreon backers Patreon.com/amberunmaskedbefore being unlocked for the public.

GRATITUDE

As I said, I’m grateful for all the backers who have tipped my account at Patreon. I know it’s something that people generally do for a while then switch to support someone else or because they have life changes. All of it is appreciated and helps me pay my car insurance.

Since I wasn’t around to do anything on my birthday as far as offering book discounts, I’ve decided to offer Full Body Manslaughter and Miscarriage of Justice (Kindle editions) for free at some point in August. Now here’s the trick: you have to follow me on a form of social media to get the announcement for which days they will be.

Even though I say it like a broken record, star ratings and reviews at Amazon help.They give consumers confidence that a product is worth their time and dollars. And I’m not going to lie, good reviews make me feel better.

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SHOUT OUTS

Before I forget, I want to share some links about my experience in case anyone is interested in giving any of the Eight Limbs of Yoga a chance in their life:

  1. Yama: first 5 guidelines of yoga – Ahimsa (non-violence/non-harm), Satya (truthfulness), Asteya (non-stealing), Brahmacharya (moderation/restraint), Aparigraha (non-possessiveness)
  2. Niyama: second 5 guidelines of yoga – Saucha (purity/cleanliness), Santosha (contentment), Tapas (self-discipline), Svadhayana (self-reflection), Ishvara Pranidhana (surrender)
  3. Asanas: these are the postures and poses that most Americans today thinks of as “yoga” because it’s been co-opted by the fitness/beauty industries. Yogis don’t do the asanas in order to look better or fit in a bikini. The components are flexibility, strength, and balance and they can be adapted for all abilities and body types.
  4. Pranayama: breath control
  5. Pratyahara: drawing awareness away from the external world; controlling the senses
  6. Dharana: concentration on a single point of focus
  7. Dhyana: meditation
  8. Samadhi: the state of being to reach enlightenment

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There are tons of places online to look up more information on these subjects. I practiced yoga asanas and meditation on and off for decades before committing more fully. I finally took this step with Romy Toussaint, a Bhakti Yoga teacher. If you want a good blog to follow for the Tantra Yoga (which has zero to do with sexual enhancement, btw) follow Hareesh Christopher Wallis. Hareesh was one of our guest speakers and he often hosts retreats to various places around the world. Romy is also working on plans to have retreats in other parts of the world.

YOGA AND MENTAL ILLNESS

You know I am completely open in discussing my own mental health and mental illnesses. After completing this leg of the yoga journey, I feel so much better – for this moment. However, if you follow my social media (which I barely had access to while training), I did suffer several episodes of panic attacks, exhaustion, fatigue, pain and breakdowns. That shit doesn’t just get “cured” by anything. No one single drug. Not a singular therapy. Not 200 hours of yoga surrounded by trees.

Amber at Ringing Rocks
Amber at Ringing Rocks before a panic attack.

 

People who suffer as I do or worse integrate what we choose in order to get by and sometimes that means we “pass” for well. As the saying goes, “but you don’t look sick,” which is what pushed Christine Miserandino to coin the Spoon Theory of chronic illness. At the time, Miserandino was only referencing physical illnesses, but many people in the mental health community like myself have been able to utilize this communication tool for mental health status too since there are often physical symptoms present. I reached a point after this beautiful hike where I was out of spoons and I still had to drive home. The next day I hurt so much I didn’t want to get out of bed.

Amber at Ringing Rocks
Amber at Ringing Rocks after a panic attack.

 

Physical symptoms for me include things like dizziness to outright vertigo; tiredness to utter exhaustion barely able to move; nauseated; headaches to migraines; hives; trichotillomania; excoriation (skin crawling and scratching); hyperventilation; phobias; and rapid heart rate. Who wants to list all that shit? Whatever, it’s what life is like. It was inescapable even among my favorite things like waterfalls, calming music, and Romy. This is what I mean by CHRONIC.

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On the boulders in the wooded hiking area of Ringing Rocks Park, I suddenly and without warning, felt like I was spinning and going to throw up and believe it or not, I’m not afraid of heights. We were sitting on boulders meditating (or trying to, I obviously couldn’t). I jumped up, already at my limit physically from the hike, and jumped like Spider-Man from boulder to boulder to get away from the group. I didn’t want to vomit on any of them or let them see me if it happened. I didn’t want to ruin the trip for anyone else. (Hello, Guilt!)

YOGA AND CREATIVITY

I felt that I had some opportunity to be creative with the yoga practice, in particular while working on the classes I would be teaching. I’m pretty great at the warm-up portion and guided meditation. One of the classes was going to be my one-hour “final exam” if you will. I drafted it and reviewed it with a classmate. Then after this particular panic attack at Ringing Rocks (there were others), I decided my theme was too depressing but the sequences were fine. I revised. Then stayed up way too late working on a playlist. I told myself, “Ok, no matter when I’m called for the one-hour, I’m ready!

August 11 was my 45th birthday and a Friday. We were only scheduled to be there half a day on Saturday so I knew my class would come soon. In the morning, I wasn’t chosen. Someone else was and it was a lovely class that I enjoyed. We had options in the afternoon of taking a break at the cabin or going for a walk. I was staying at the cabin since my pain was stupidly high after the previous hike. That’s when Romy came over to me in the dining room and showed me a book. She asked me if I would lead a Yin Yoga class that night. “Yin? I love it. I’ve only done it three or four times, but I can’t teach that! It’s Chinese medicine and I can barely understand the sanskrit!” She told me to think about it in that way where I knew it was what she really wanted. She had more confidence in me than I had. So I spent that break studying a book on Yin.

yoga room

The class went great, by the way. Only one classmate knew it wasn’t what I prepared. I cleaned up the room and gave everyone’s place blankets and blocks. I happened to have a cool looking blanket with me and my Kindle. Good thing I did spend that $20 on the Relax Melodies app because my playlist wasn’t suitable for the Yin program. I had also fortunately packed my Angel oracle deck and Little Buddha cards which I draw from to come up with intentions and themes. “Trust” came up and that’s what I used as a foundation for the things I said and the guided meditations.

trust quote for yoga

KARMA YOGA

I’ll continue to practice Karma Yoga (obviously I’ve heard of what karma is before but not that it was yoga) which I heard about from one of my former instructors but now have read about in the Bhagavad Gita. There are many different things that make up yoga so if you think you have to meet some kind of standard, you don’t.

Before I forget, Comic Fusion is hosting possibly its last Superhero Day fundraiser on August 26, 2017. Come join us for cosplay or just geeking out on the latest cool stories and action figures. This year, all proceeds from art sales will again go to CASA-SHaW, the foster family court appointed special advocates who represent children in the court system.

Also the Pennsylvania Star Wars Collecting Society is running a fundraiser in September at the Sellersville Museum. This will benefit Fox Chase Cancer Center in memory of Brad Kulp.

A few months ago I decided to up my game. I usually find time somewhere in my week to tweet animals looking for forever homes or charities that people may not know. I’m pretty low (basically without) funds of my own so I shared a bunch of Kiva links for people who truly need the basics like toilets or a cow. Later on, I decided that I could part with $29 to use as one of Kiva’s microloans (it’s pure genius to be able to loan so little). If something happens and it’s never paid back, oh well, it’s only $25 of a loan and $4 in fees. I went through so many profiles. Eventually, I chose to give to Gertrude who runs a small business selling household items.

kiva page
My first microloan is to Gertrude in Liberia.

 

You can join my team, Seeking Dharma and begin funding microloans too. Then we can see how we perform together as a team. At the moment, the Seeking Dharma team is set up so it needs approval, but that’s just me. It can be opened up to be without approval later, I think. You can also give Kiva cards to someone else so they can decide who gets the loan.

Kiva team logoINTEGRATING INTO LIFE AND WRITING

Now to take all this back home and weave it into my daily life which may or not include teaching yoga classes. I have no idea. I still have some work to do before being eligible for registration (and PS that includes spending more money on CPR certification and paying into the alliance and then getting insurance). In the meantime, I’m sorting through ideas for books and short stories. I already had Farrah Wethers and June Cho at a retreat center when they encountered a murder to solve so I need to come up with something new (Full Body Manslaughter).

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