Give Your Love Away!


Give Your Love Away!

40 Day Journey: 40 Steps For Growth & Inner Freedom
Day 6: August 10, 2014

love offerings are fun!

Under the veil of night, Post-it love messages and poetry rocks adorn random doorsteps to be found in the morning by unknown residents. Another evening, a dear friend & I thoroughly enjoyed slinking into the drama section of a neighborhood video store to leave this gift behind.

Since Aug. 5th I’ve been on a personal 40 Day Journey and each day I am taking a step in the direction of growth in five specific areas in my life. One of these daily steps is to share love anonymously with a random member of the community. Hands down, this has been the most joyful part of my journey thus far!  Each day, I have busted out my colorful markers and pens, scoured my house and the surrounding environment for special items to share and gotten crafty creating small packages of love to anonymously leave around the community for someone to find.

At first I chose not to share this particular step in my journey publicly because the joy of dancing in my creative fire and imaging someone delightedly stumbling upon my anonymous gift was treasure enough. Truly, each day as I take this step, I feel like a kindergartener at sunrise on Christmas morning still in my long fuzzy footie-pajamas rushing under the twinkling tree to see what gifts have appeared over night. The only difference is, now the excitement and childlike wonder is in the giving.

So why am breaking the anonymity silence? The answer is simple: mirror neurons. When I am teaching a yoga class and I notice a student particularly struggling with their breath (forgetting to breath, jagged breathing etc.) I often walk next to them and take a moment to align my breath with theirs and then shift to a more subtle, steady breath. More often than not, their breath follows suit without me saying a word. Our brains are hard-wired for mimicry and whether we are conscious of it or not, we are learning from, engaging with and neurologically mirroring each others behaviors, thoughts, and emotions all the time. We are highly complex social animals that are neurologically built to observe, learn from, connect and empathize with the lived experience of those around us. 

When we are inspired by what we see people doing around us, we often feel the resulting pleasurable emotions as if we have taken this action ourselves. Just think of how you respond when you watch your favorite sports icon make a game-changing slam dunk at the last pivotal moment, or score that winning touch down — even if you were only watching it on television. Better yet, remember how you’ve felt when you watched a child you adore successfully attempt to do something for the very first time. If you could see your reaction through a video camera, most likely you were rapt with attention, visually mimicking their emotions and flooded with love upon their achievement. Your body stores its own memories of you having lived this experience and your neurons are firing signals as if you were doing this action yourself!  Joy, excitement, relief, pride, awe. All of it = a greater experience of love. So for this, I am sharing this step and inviting you to walk with me either by feeling my own joy as I write about it here or by finding fun and playful ways to anonymously give love all over your community. 

Photo Aug 10, 5 29 11 PM

“If you found me, you must have been calling in love! Look how magical you are!” A highly decorated gift certificate waits for a hungry diner to discover en route to a local Arcata grill.

Lead by example. Give love like it’s all you’re here to do today. (Pssst… I’ve got a secret for you: it is! Pass it on.) Imagine the waterfall effect if it became the norm to find a parking citation envelope on your windshield with a love note inside instead of a ticket. “Took longer than you thought? We’ve all been there. I went ahead and paid your ticket just because I KNOW you are awesome. Whoever you are, have a great day!” How might it turn your day around to be grumpy and rushed at the grocery store check-out and to have the clerk say “Hey, I see you’re having a tough time. An anonymous customer bought this cookie and asked me give it to you with love.” This doesn’t have to cost a dime either. We can decorate rocks, shells, leaves, (whatever your imagination can divine) with heart-warming quotes or favorite poems and wrap them up with care and color to be found by passers-by on window-sills, bathroom sinks, hospital waiting rooms and coffee shop tables. We can notice someone looking for a parking space behind us and choose to drive past that prime spot and give it to them. That’s what I’m up to. I could say it’s an act of giving love with no need for return but that is a fallacy. The return is in the giving. 

Fun ways to anonymously give some love:

  • Leave movie tickets on a chair at a restaurant – How ’bout dinner AND a movie!
  • Collect overhanging flowers in your neighborhood & leave them tied in a bow on a random doorstep
  • Gift wrap your favorite used book with a love note and leave it on a park bench
  • Hang healthy homemade bird treats in a neighborhood tree
  • Leave a mixed CD with a friendly note at a gas station bay or rest stop
  • Leave bubbles & sidewalk chalk at a local playground
  • Make a hygiene care package (toothpaste, toothbrush, tissue, soap, hand sanitizer, deodorant, socks, a pen and a small journal) at a local bus/train station or under freeway overpasses

Wanna join me?

Think mirror neurons are cool and want to learn more: check this out!

Have a heart inspiring story of someone anonymously sharing love with you? I want to hear it!


~ artemisia shine

ps. MC Yogi knows what’s up!

Support Starts From Within


Support Starts From Within

40 Day Journey: 40 Steps For Growth & Inner Freedom
Day 3: August 7, 2014

Salamba Sirsasana

When your world is turned up-side down, literally or figuratively, it is the perfect opportunity to re-orient the self back into stillness and awareness of breath. Right now, sense how your breath is influencing and shaping your mind. – (Salamba Sirsasana in my home studio in Arcata)

Salamba Sirsasana: Supported Headstand
(sah-LOM-bah shear-SHAHS-anna)
sa = with;
 alamba = support or that on which one rests or leans ; sirsa = the head

We do not exist within a vacuum. No organism alive is separate or distinct from its environment. We all need support from time to time and opening up to receive support is a masterful skill all it’s own. Today, for me support starts attitudinally from within. It starts with inviting in a deep sense of trust, surrender and remembrance that my body, mind and spirit already intrinsically know balance and all I need do is lean into the practices I already have on board to keep me moving forward, toward my dreams and goals, regardless of the obsticles along the way. In headstand, our world view is both physically and metaphorically flipped upside down.

Right now I am a couple hundred dollars shy of paying my rent. Rent was due on the 1st. My insurance was due on the first as well. Today is the 7th. My sense of being financially self-supporting through my own contributions is definitely under pressure. The nitty-gritty details of meeting my basic survival needs seem cattywonkus to say the least. I’m still smiling. I have been all day. I have a sense that life is just providing me a rich opportunity to become more skillful at remaining calm and grounded even when my world seems spun around. If nothing about my external circumstances are to change in the next 12 hours what internal landscape do I want to cultivate? Anxiety is no fun and it certainly won’t change anything. I would rather remain calm, take some action steps from a place of joy rather than panic and be ready for whatever shifts are coming next. I want to choose to enjoy my life, even if my external circomstances seem to be less than joyful. Salamba Sirsasana, or head stand, literally means with support of the head. Today has been about observing my head space and developing a quality of mindful presence that allows me to feel supported from within. No. Matter. What. Nothing is going to happen today that the universe and I can’t handle together. <3

I want to hear how you are you handling the challenging moments. How does your “head-space” serve to hinder or support you? How do you find support from within?

Go Ahead, Provoke Me!


Go Ahead, Provoke Me!

“Over time invite and create ever more provocative situations to deliberately trigger the psyche to be disturbed, to be challenged, to feel perhaps overwhelmed in order to strengthen your capacity to remain in the witness.  It’s easy to be peaceful when there’s not provocation. It’s not so easy where there is. Welcome to marriage. Welcome to children. Welcome to your life. Those provocations that are happening externally, are only reflections of our inner lack of clarity, lack of resolution. So, the yogi works internally.” ~Yogarupa Rod Stryker
(Moon & Sun Vinyasa: Mastering the Mind, Awakening the Vital Force, Nov. 15, 2013)

40 Day Journey: 40 Steps For Growth & Inner Freedom
Day 1: August 5, 2014

Trikonasana in marsh sunrise

Sometimes the biggest battle is getting out the door and onto the mat. The early morning dewy marsh air amply rewarded my effort. – Arcata Marsh & Wildlife Sanctuary 8:30am

Utthita Trikonasana : Extended Triangle Pose
(oo-TEE-tah trik cone-NAHS-anna)
utthita = extended; tri = three, kona = angle

“The three angles (tri konas in Sanskrit) of a triangle make it one of the stronger and most stable shapes in nature…The triangle pose represents many sacred trinities in our world, such as the trinity of earth, space and heavens or that of birth, life and death. Trikonasana also symbolizes the three gunas, or qualities, that compose our bodies and minds.” (p. 36) Alanna Kaivalya & Arjuna van der Kooij, Myths of the Asanas: The Stories at the Heart of the Yoga Tradition.)

As I was riding my bike to the studio to teach my morning Hatha Flow Class, I was listening to a workshop lecture I attended last year with Yogarupa Rod Stryker. The day before I had been momentarily deeply disturbed by some personal family drama with my son’s father. It was this disturbance that inspired me to proactively choose to take intentional steps in the direction of my own personal growth.

When life is comfortable and free from challenges, it is easy to get complacent in my personal practice and neglect my continued commitment to inner growth. This summer has been far from easy. Life has provided me so many delicious opportunities and reminders to not only return to the grounded space of calm that can view my life from a place of tranquility but also to notice, question and work with the mirror that my external circumstances are providing me. Tantric philosophy states that there is nothing outside my body that does not exist within my body. There is nothing within me that does not exist externally in the world. If I take the view that what is happening in my body is a mirror for what is happening in my life, than I can also see that what is happening in my life is a reflection of what is happening in my psyche. 

Back to my bike ride…

I had just finished a sweet early morning solo yoga practice at the Arcata Marsh and was arriving  at Om Shala Yoga 15 minutes early to meditate before teaching. As I crossed the front door I saw two of my students arriving on bikes and being verbally and physically threatened by a large gentleman who had left his truck in the middle of the street to get out and scream at them over some perceived right-of way indiscretion. This gentleman returned to his truck only to stop and get out 3 more times all the while threatening physical violence and property damage and warning them that he will “remember what their bikes look like.” At that moment I hear Rod Stryker in my ear saying “It’s easy to be peaceful when there’s no provocation.”

We all get provoked. How we handle it at any given moment is our yoga, is the practice of inner asana or posture. Life is challenging. Suffering is a noble truth. The yogi works from within. Regardless of whatever swirling mass of chaos or raucous celebration is present in our lives at any given moment – our ability to drop into the witness is directly proportional to our experience of grounded, calm, ever-present spaciousness and awareness.

I came into the world on fire. I seek not to drown my fire but instead to stabilize and create a pitim (or hearth) for that fire in the sacred temple of my body at the center of my belly. Practicing trikonasana is a way to physically plant our feet firmly in the earth and our awareness in the present moment while opening our hearts to the vastness within us alongside the support of the universe. The top hand reaching to the sky is a reminder to reach into the highest aspects within us as we connect our material self with the broader consciousness of the entire cosmos. The triangle is a messenger that no matter the pressures behind us or in front of us, we can plug into the inherent stability within and reconnect with the truth and beauty that we are.

Provocation is child’s play.
I say bring it on.
It’s just a training camp for the experience of inner divinity.

Just for today, how can you use whatever is provoking you to take one small step back home to yourself?

I’m on a 40 Day Journey for personal growth. I’m taking baby steps. One. At. A. Time. Read more about it and join me here.


The Journey Begins..


40 Day Journey – 40 Steps for Growth

“Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

40StepsThis summer has been hard. Really hard. It is the first summer that my pre-teen son has not been in summer camp during the day; which mean he has been home. A lot. While I am working. (Or not working when I want to be doing the work I love. Which has also been tough. Really tough.) Financial challenges have both inspired my creativity and really forced me to come back to my breath and remember my relationship with the present moment. Moment. by. challenging. moment. I have been in panic, forgetfulness, remembrance and then celebration only to get up the next day and do it all over again.

I feel as if I am rounding a corner into the next incarnation of my life. I want to actively participate in my process as well as be in gratitude for whatever life has in store for me. I want to remember lila, or the divine play inherent the cosmic expanse as well as the everyday mundanity. I am an actor in my own life. I want to enter the stage with loving, proactive awareness.

Starting right now, I choose to consciously take one step each day, over the next 40 days, towards growth with myself through my yoga practice, in my relationship with my son, my dharma thru the work I do in the world & experiencing my childlike heart. I commit to one small, achievable action each day day to:

  • deepen my connection with my personal yoga practice
  • further my connection with my son
  • create professional growth and support/enhance my business
  • create a moment of wild abandon & childlike joy in my life
  • share love anonymously with a random member of my community

For accountability I will share my journey with you here and on my blog. I will end/(or re-begin) my 40 Day Journey by hosting a celebratory gathering on September 13, 2014. Please join me in this! What energy would you like to actively animate in the next 40 days? What small steps can you take now to walk in the direction of your own inner freedom?

The journey begins…