Moonlight Yoga on the Beach

I’ll be the first to admit it. I’m not a beach guy. At all.

I don’t like the sand, the non-stop sun that you can never get away from, carrying chairs/coolers/etc. back and forth every day, the mysterious sea creatures…

And while a pescatarian might have a field day down here, being vegan is quite the task.

I come down to the beach for a few reasons, none of which have anything to do with the beach.

  1. To spend time with friends and (basically) family
  2. To get away from my routine back at home

True, I’d much rather escape to the mountains, but tonight, the beach had a lot to offer.

Moonlight Yoga

I’ve done yoga before. Fairly regularly. And continue to practice it informally.

Long walks on the beach? Who hasn’t?

Moonlight star-gazing? Of course.

But yoga… on the beach… under the moonlight? This was a first.

Give it a shot

I think everyone should try it. Even if you only know 2 yoga poses. Even if for only 10 minutes. It’s 100% worth it.

  • Bring a towel. You’ll still get sand on you, but it’s much more comfortable to perform on a towel.
  • Music (optional). The wind & the waves might be all you need to put your mind at ease, but I liked having some meditation background music.
  • Tune everything out. You’ll likely hear some kids playing, fishermen talking or passersby chatting. Ignore them. Let the rhythmic flow of the waves take over.

Wind & water. Arguably the two things we need most in this world to survive. Lucky for us, they do more than just keep us alive. They make us feel alive.

  • Take your time. Have no schedule. Let your mind wander. Come in when you’re ready, and not a second sooner.
  • Stare at the stars. At the end, lay on your back & look up at the stars. Don’t think. Just look. And breathe. That’s it.

Sometimes when you do nothing, you feel everything.

So, have you tried moonlight yoga on the beach? Please drop me a line to share your experience, or any tips you have for us rookies.

 

I’m in a Funk

It’s not a running funk. Or an eating funk. Not an age funk (otherwise often inaccurately labeled a “midlife crisis”). Not even a career funk, otherwise known as the dreaded “What am I doing with my life?” self-doubt questions that happen to all of us at one point or another.

Just a life funk.

Truth be told, today felt like the beginning of the end. But to be honest, I’m not trying to rush through it.

I debated over whether or not to publish this to the world.

“My funk is none of your funking business!”

However, not unlike everything else that I say/do/experience… I thought about my funk. A lot. And while no two funks are the same, I felt the urge to share my experience with you, in hopes that you might take something away from it.

If you’re looking for all the funky details, sorry, but you won’t find them here. I’m not talking about the specifics of my funk.

And if you’re worried about me, please don’t be. I’m fine. Really. But I do love hugs & smiley face emojis, so feel free to send either (or both) my way 🙂

Now that all that’s outta the way…

Funks Happen

Too often, we try to avoid any feelings of negativity, discomfort, fear, sadness, etc. (We’ll refer to these feelings as “a funk” from here on out). It makes sense because it sucks to be down in the dumps. Who wouldn’t rather be happy?

But I think these funks could be useful, and perhaps, even a natural part of life. We can only learn from them if we embrace them. Allow them to happen. Not rush through them. And reflect on the experience as it’s happening.

My Funk

Without going into specifics, I believe my recent funk was caused by a number of different things, all converging on me at the same time. I’ll never know the true cause(s), so I didn’t spend much time thinking about that. Instead, I thought about…

How do you get out of your funk?

I have no idea. Depends on you, and the type of funk you’re in. And sometimes you might just want to let it play out on its own.

One important thing that my funk got me to do…

Break your routine.

Your funk could be caused by any number of different things, or some crazy combination of many things. You might never know exactly what caused it. This makes it difficult to predict what will help you break out of it. Soooo… just try something different.

Take a cold shower. Pick up a basketball & shoot some free throws. Look through your high school yearbook. Call your Grandma. Sign up for a new class. Take a day off from work. Go climb a mountain. Write a recap of your day before you go to bed. Try a new food. … you get the idea.

Maybe your funk is telling you it’s time to change it up.

Get something off your chest.

I’m pretty sure my funk had something to do with some feelings that I kept playing over and over again in my head. I wasn’t talking about them with anyone else. There were no changes or new developments with those feelings, so I kept playing out scenarios in my head. Not healthy.

Tell someone about it. And if there’s another person involved (a close friend, a family member, a romantic interest), tell them. If you can’t talk to them or see them (or perhaps just don’t want to), write it out.

Sometimes you want someone to know how you feel so badly that it can start eating away at you inside. You gotta let it out, man. Worry about the consequences later. And have confidence that the immediate consequence you’ll experience is, “Ahhhh. I’m so glad I got that off my chest.”

Maybe it’s natural to feel what you’re feeling.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) associates 5 elements with different seasons throughout the year. It also uses the Yin/Yang relationship as a guide to explaining inward & outward energy in the world.

Check out the chart below. And before you jump to any conclusions, read on to hear me out.

5 Elements of Nature
5 Elements of Nature. Image courtesy of Chiball.com

Late Summer is associated with worry. It is also associated with transformation & ripening.

Autumn is associated with grief, as well as crying, harvest & collection.

(this chart lists out all the associations)

I reference these two seasons because my funk spanned across both of them. And sure enough, I was filled with worry & grief.

Even more specifically, the grief just hit two days ago. I’ve felt worried over the past few weeks, but just starting this weekend, I was sad all day Saturday & Sunday. When did Autumn officially start? Sunday.

Transformation. Hey, that sounds a lot like change. Yup. Remember that “Break your routine” thing we just talked about?

So what does all this Yin/Yang stuff mean?

That, you’ll have to figure out for yourself. But here’s what it could mean for me.

Late Summer is preparing me for Autumn. I’m going through some changes now, in preparation for some harvest & collection in the Fall. Do I have 3 months of grief coming my way? Perhaps some sad things will occur in-and-around my life, but I can still choose how I respond. Sad things might happen, but because of my recent transformation & ripening, I’ll be better prepared to deal with them.

But this I know for sure, and I mean this with 100% of my being:

It’s OK to worry. There’s nothing wrong with feeling sad. And sometimes crying is the best funk[ing] medicine on the planet.

Area 10 Church (Take Two) – List Making

I decided to go to church today for basically the second time ever. While I was much less prepared for this go-around, and was there more to provide support for a friend… I still came away with a great piece I can apply to my life.

Today’s speaker was a woman, and she focused on a topic geared towards women. But it’s one that we can all learn from.

She opened with some examples from Pinterest. So many people see projects on Pinterest and try to recreate them. They often turn out to be a disaster.

But it’s this idea of Pinterest perfection that we all strive for. We compare ourselves to others based on how well we complete these projects, and when they don’t turn out well, we feel inadequate.

Our society is driven by these types of lists. They’re easy to make comparisons, and it’s human nature to seek out comparison. It’s a great form of feedback.

But our obsession with lists has led us to always strive to do more. It becomes all about getting things done, that we care so little about what we’re doing and who we’re doing it with.

As an American culture, we’re awful with this. As a small business owner, I struggle with this. As a perfectionist who obsesses over details, I can’t always get my mind around this.

But as a human being who is really starting to value relationships more and more each day, this is apparent.

A list-driven lifestyle will only continue to push us to do more and more. And where do we draw the line? And how quickly do we stop caring about the actual work we’re doing?

I, for one, am going to think twice before making another list. Life has so much more to offer than simply getting a bunch of menial tasks completed. We’re all much more capable than that. We have so much more to share with our friends, our family & even those we haven’t met yet.

It’s ironic how we always demand more from others. We’re not satisfied with anything less than exceptional quality & service, yet when it’s time to do our own work, we resort back to our list, and fall victim to just “getting it done.” Are we putting forth that same quality that we demand from others?

Put the list down and pick up a book. Skip a few to-do items, and go hang out on your buddy’s porch. Turn something in late if it doesn’t have to be finished today. And be proud of whatever situation you’re currently in, even if you know it won’t be pinned on Pinterest any time soon.

Sedona Vortex – Boynton Canyon

If you just want to see photos, jump down to the photo gallery.

Finding the Vortex

After arriving in the parking area, I started out towards the vortex on the Boynton Canyon Trail. A few hundred feet in, the trail split, and off to the right was the Boynton Canyon Vista Trail. This would lead me to the knoll, where the vortex energy is said to be greatest.

Sedona Vortex Parking Lot Sedona Vortex Trailhead Sedona Vortex Trail Split Sedona Vortex Boynton Canyon Trail Sedona Vortex Boynton Canyon Vista Trail

Approaching the Vortex

As I approached the knoll, there were 2 tall, skinny rock formations, with a plateau in the middle. Picture a game of Jenga. And now I’ll try to paint in some of the details.

  • The rocks were a beautiful, rustic red. Must’ve been 50 different shades, each on its own layer.
  • Nothing was strategically placed, yet somehow, it managed to stay erect.
  • Each rock had its own unique shape, its own personality. Yet together, they stood tall.

I approached the plateau slowly, not sure what to expect. What was this vortex energy going to feel like?

Sedona Vortex Trail Approaching Sedona Vortex Sedona Vortex Red Rock

I arrived atop the plateau, both rock formations on either side, and stood mesmerized by the view. A 360° view of red rock canyon walls. Luscious green trees scattered throughout. Forest meets desert.

Cairns

Sedona Vortex Cairns

There were a bunch of smaller handmade rock formations sitting on a ledge. Then a few more appeared. And a few more. They are called cairns. I didn’t know what to make of them at first, but I felt compelled to leave them be. They were constructed by humans, but at the same time, they were still part of the Earth. This type of connection brought me to my next action…

Meditation

I started to fall into a slight meditation, focusing on each breath. At this point, I had to take a seat on a nearby rock in order for my body to relax. Sitting down for a few minutes, I closed my eyes, searching for the vortex energy. Nothing.

I stood up & took another look around. I noticed a tree about 30 feet away. It was right next to one of the 2 larger rocks. As I approached it, I put my hand on one branch. I felt as though the tree was calling me, and thought, maybe it wanted to pass on some of its energy. Nothing.

Next, I leaned up against that large rock formation right next to the tree. I was leaning back slightly, but still mostly vertical. I closed my eyes. I felt the wind pickup, especially around my legs. A powerful yet subtle breeze was blowing constantly, passing in-between the backside of my lower legs and the rock. The hair on my legs stood up, and I felt a slight tingly sensation.

When I opened my eyes, I looked at the sky. It’s an overcast day, but there was a blue cutout in the clouds directly overhead. At first I thought it was the letter X. But then, I thought maybe I should spread my body to match that shape, extending my arms & legs out wide as far as they could reach. I closed my eyes once again.

Sedona Vortex Clouds X

The birds chirping became more clear. I had no idea what they were saying, but it sounded like they were getting closer. I stayed here for a minute before opening my eyes again.

Already facing the sky, when I opened my eyes, the X in the clouds was gone. Or better yet, it had morphed into something different. Take a look below & let me know if you see what I saw: a bird.

Sedona Vortex Bird 1
His face/beak on the left, tail on the right, wings are very faint, but curving up & to the left.

Before I left, I felt compelled to build a cairn of my own. I laid 4 rocks right there next to the large formation, where I felt the energy. Each rock gently placed on top of the other. I spun each rock as I placed it upon the next, until it felt like it found the place where it was supposed to rest.

Sedona Vortex Cairn by Dave
My Cairn
Sedona Vortex Cairn by Dave
My cairn from another angle

There were two women from Minnesota visiting this Sedona Vortex for the first time. They had been up there for much of the time I had. I asked them to take a picture of me before I headed back down. Homegirl took 10 photos, the first of which she invited herself into. I gladly accepted.

Girl from Minnesota
Homegirl from Minnesota
Dave at Sedona Vortex Boynton Canyon
Top of the vortex site
Dave at Sedona Vortex Boynton Canyon
Top of the vortex site. It looks Photoshopped, but I promise you it’s not. The lighting was just that good.

Right before I walked away, one woman said, “Look, over there. Do you see that feather?” There was a dark swirly cloud that formed directly over a plateau in the distance. The sun was barely gleaming through the clouds. I saw the feather. It didn’t dawn on me until 2 hours later… perhaps that was the feather of the bird that had been speaking to me just minutes before.

If I had to describe the vortex energy, I’d say it was a mix between upward/outward & downward/inward. As I left the trail & began to jog back to the trailhead, I noticed an increase in awareness. My senses were heightened. I was naturally smiling.

If you’re visiting Sedona, or anywhere in central Arizona, this is a must-see. It’s easy to get to, not a difficult hike, and the experience is worth every second. Even if you don’t have a spiritual experience with the vortex, the view is stunning enough by itself.

The Space Between Conviction & Action Is…

…procrastination.

For the first time in 10 years, and probably only the 3rd time EVER… I went to church today.

They’re a non-denominational church called Area10, and actually brand themselves as a “Faith Community,” which I think is pretty cool. They hold their Sunday service at an historic Richmond landmark (and $2 movie theatre) called the Byrd Theatre.

I didn’t know what to expect, but I went into it with a slightly-skeptical, but open, mind. I wanted to at least enjoy a part (or parts) of the service, and possibly walk out of there with something to ponder. My wish was granted, and here’s how it all went down.

About Baptism (or you could call it… commitment)

The pastor, Chris, focused his talk around Baptism: what it means & how it should be done. Before today, this topic meant very little to me. While I do have a better understanding of it now, I still can’t really relate. But Chris used a few examples that opened my eyes to an important concept.

A significant event to solidify a commitment

I’ve never been one to celebrate. Little victories, big accomplishments, anything really. I often saw the celebration as just a formality. It didn’t make the journey I took to get there any sweeter. And I didn’t need a celebration to validate what I had done.

I used to have a similar feeling towards various commitments. I’ve mocked New Year’s Resolutions in the past. I’ve never been a huge fan of putting labels on a relationship at various stages. And on and on with many other things.

Chris used getting married as an analogy for getting baptized. “Many people ask me this question, and I hate it when they do. They say, ‘I was already baptized as a child. So do I really have to [get baptized]?’

Chris’ answer was,

“Well, no, you don’t have to do anything. But if you want to give your life to Christ, than yes, you have to.”

Marriage is the same way

Do you really have to get married if you already know you both love each other? If you’re already living together? What’s the point? Isn’t it just a formality?

No. It’s more than just a formality. It’s a significant event that you can look back on to remind yourself of your commitment. When we don’t have these events to look back on, guess what happens? We break the commitment.

How many times has a doctor, or dentist, or nutritionist, or trainer, or psychiatrist, told you that in order to achieve your goal, you had to make this change? Did you make it? Yeah, of course you did… for a little while. A few days, a few weeks, maybe a year or two. But without a significant event, or some type of symbolism that we carry with us, we eventually revert back to our old habits… even when we know deep down that it’s not the best thing for us.

“You don’t have to wear a wedding ring. I know I love my wife here [pointing to heart] and here [pointing to head]. But having that ring on my finger reminds me that I’m taking her with me wherever I go. And every time I see it I am reminded of our commitment.”

Appreciation & Selflessness

During one of the final songs, since I wasn’t able to connect with the lyrics… I bowed my head, closed my eyes & reflected on the past 60 minutes I had just experienced. My mind took me to a place of kindness & selflessness. It was clear I had 3 groups of people to thank for my experience.

James, Jennifer & Jennifer’s parents… for their invitation, open-minded approach & welcoming attitude. They helped me feel comfortable in what could have been an uncomfortable situation.

The pastor, Chris… for sharing not only his thoughts on spirituality, but his life experiences. And for being incredibly humble, occasionally funny & an engaging speaker.

The musicians & singers… for giving their time to create wonderful music, and exuding a great deal of passion for what they were singing about. In my mind, passion is, and always will be contagious, regardless what it’s for.

“What Are You Waiting For?”

The pastor, Chris, kept repeating this question at the end of his talk. Even though his question was in relation to getting Baptized—and that’s not happening for me in the immediate future—I was still able to take something away from this.

I’m notorious for starting things but never seeing them through. I’m also really good at coming up with ideas. Unfortunately, more than half of them never see the light of day. I have extremely strong conviction, but only act on a small percentage of it. Looks like I’m a procrastinator after all.

So that question he kept repeating, “What are you waiting for?” Regardless of what it’s in relation to, it’s a great question. And it’s one in which most of us don’t have any good answers for. And if you can’t answer it, than it’s time to start taking action.

Huge Thanks

I want to say “Thank You” to James, Jennifer & Jennifer’s family for sharing the experience with me. And to James & Jennifer for their invitations to join them at church. I enjoyed myself, and would definitely not have gone without the invitation or the company.

Give It A Try

Regardless of your faith, I would encourage you all to consider attending church. Perhaps you’re selective with exactly which church you attend, as I realize they are not all the same. In fact, I do believe there are a number of churches I could’ve chosen to attend this morning that would have scared the bejesus out of me (pun intended). So choose wisely. But if you have awesome friends, whose opinions you respect & value, take them up on their offer.

Take from it what you want. And leave what you don’t.

You don’t have to take the pastor’s word as literal truth. You don’t have to participate in communion, or anything else that you aren’t comfortable with (or just don’t see the meaning in). I walked up to the communion table, and just bowed my head, said a few words of thanks under my breath, and moved on. No bread. No wine. No problem.

Think about what’s being said in your own way. Apply it to your own life, and your own beliefs.

If the music moves you, let it in. If you feel positive energy, smile, and give it back to those around you. If you relate to something, nod your head in acknowledgement. And remember… just because you don’t agree, it doesn’t mean you don’t belong.

I drank a beer & I liked it

Sung to the tune of my least favorite Katy Perry song.

I know next to nothing about Katy Perry, aside from a few song lyrics. And I have no idea whether she actually kissed a girl (and possibly liked it), nor do I really care.

But I have a confession to make.

Today, I drank a beer and I liked it (two, actually).

Those who know me well know that I don’t drink alcohol. I haven’t for 5+ years now (with one or two exceptions).

I have my reasons for making this choice years ago, and I’m not going to get into all of them. That’s a face-to-face discussion we can have at another time, if you truly care to know. But I will say this…

One reason is because I saw alcohol as a hindrance to achieving something I believe in. This is 100% a personal decision, and in no way implies that alcohol is a bad influence on anyone. Nor does it imply that alcohol hinders people from achieving their goals.

We all make decisions on how we move through life; what we choose to believe in; and we act accordingly. For me, alcohol didn’t fit into my way of life.

Another reason is because I don’t like the way it tastes. I’ve never had a beer that I enjoyed. Not one. Ever.

Today changed that.

With a little encouragement (and financial support) from a friend, to go along with a good bartender who gave me a free sample of what appeared to be apple juice… I decided to have a few beers.

It was a cider beer (or something like that). Apparently, there are different flavors of cider beers. And they contain just as much alcohol as most other beers (sometimes more). And this one tasted like apple juice.

Debunking previous reasoning

Now that reason #2 (taste) has been overruled, I still have the more deep-rooted reason #1 to consider. Even though I’ve found a beer that actually tastes good, why drink it if it still doesn’t fit into my way of life?

Because I’m taking my “way of life” a little too seriously. And alcohol isn’t as much of a hindrance as I used to believe (if any at all).

I can become addicted to things a little easier than some. And occasionally I take things to the extreme. But this certainly doesn’t have to be one of them. My all-or-nothing approach to alcohol was misguided.

Shortly after giving up alcohol altogether, I began to notice the respect I garnered. It feels good to have others’ respect. This reaction from others began to influence my decision-making. I didn’t want to start drinking again because I was afraid of losing the respect I had gained from my peers. I felt as if the second I took a sip of alcohol, I could no longer tell people that “I don’t drink,” and I’d lose some of that respect I carried around for years.

Childish? Yeah, a little. Self-serving? Definitely. But it’s the truth, and it’s humbling to admit it.

The real truth

I can still lead a life of inward-looking reflection. A life inspired by many of the Eastern religions. A grounded, well-balanced, compassionate & forgiving life. A life of great purpose, discovery & exploration. A life of respecting others for their choices, just as I know they’ll respect me for mine (alcohol or not).

“Stop being so damn serious all the time”

I put that in quotes because I’m sure someone has said those exact words to me at some point. Probably a few someones. Multiple times.

I also used the word “damn” which I don’t normally like to do. “Darn” is much more my style. But letting a harmless word like that slip through is just another part of this exercise.

And that’s a phrase I’m going to use on myself in the coming weeks & months. While there are many stone-cold-sober moments I have created that are the farthest thing from serious, there are moments like the one tonight at the bar where I need to let go.

The moral of the story

Great people (and adorable dogs) riding bikes in an awesome city on a fantastic weekend with incredible weather… celebrating birthdays, Saints named Patrick & the color green… with a little apple juice on the side…

If that doesn’t fit into my “way of life,” than I have much more serious problems than a few glasses of beer.

Predicting the weather

Here’s my take on how to deal with the weather. In short, be one with Mother Nature. Experience her ups and downs with her.

Why even bother?

Today, it’s absolutely beautiful out. Some might say Fall is finally here. And they might be right.

But we have no idea what tomorrow will bring. We don’t even know what will happen later today.

Here’s my approach to the weather:

Just let it be. Let it happen. We, as human beings, will never be able to control Mother Nature. So it’s a waste of time to spend any energy on even thinking about it.

It will get cold, and it will warm back up.

Leaves will change colors, fall off trees, and eventually grow back.

The weather will ebb. And it will flow.

When it rains, accept the fact that it is raining. Don’t complain. Don’t wish for it to be sunny. Go outside & get wet. Or stay in and watch a movie. But understand that rain is a natural occurrence, and a necessary one for Planet Earth.

I try to ebb and flow with Mother Nature—enjoy her ups and downs the same as she does.

In the end, we’re all a part of this planet, and we’re all in this together. Just as we’ve learned to get along with other human beings to create a civilized world, I believe we should do the same with Mother Nature.