After a few too many late nights out, many people in the gay community begin to feel that they are ready for a new routine. Within the course of a year, I went from being lost in a college daze to feeding orphanages one pair of yoga pants at a time. This story is about how I woke up and moved on.
Last weekend I started my year long immersion training with The Interdependence Project in New York City. Entering those doors and climbing the 200 stairs to the loving space of my Sangha I was nervous with the teeming possiblities. What would this training mean to me? How would it change me? What would I learn? Am I smart enough to complete this? Will the others understand me? Will I be a good teacher? Will I be a good student?
As we took our seats, Ethan Nichtern started by giving us some meditation instruction. At the end, he asked us to get in touch with what we feel in our bodies and to start getting comfortable with being on the spot, showing up and staying in the present, no matter how fearful we may be. At that moment, all the questions in my mind vanished. I made a commitment to be available to what the world was teaching me at that moment.
Being completely open to what was arising didn’t mean I wasn’t scared anymore. I don’t think I stopped sweating for the rest of the weekend. We went through a study session and taking turns teaching mindfulness meditation and giving feedback. I was nervous for all of it except when I was actually leading meditation. I stayed with those feelings, I felt them. And what do ya know, I didn’t die. I’m still here to relate this story to you. I always assume whatever hard task is in front of me will kill me but some how I prevail. I should start remembering that from the beginning.
As the weekend progressed, I kept feeling more inspired and grateful for the opportunity to learn from 15 different teachers during the course of this year. People from all walks of life with such vastly different experiences. Each unique in their own way, yet we have so much in common. It’s nice to share a space with so many indivuduals who are interested in learning more about themselves and their own minds.
I’m no longer nervous about being put on the spot. I know it’s exactly what I need to do to learn more about myself, become accepting, and grow. I’m inspired to continue on this journey and learn how to better relate the teachings so that others may benefit.
"We hope this interfaith event connecting LGBTQ teens with open-and-affirming faith communities will help prevent LGBTQ youth deaths by suicide," says MyOutSpirit.com founder, Clayton Gibson. "Thousands of churches, temples, synagogues and other spiritual communities are LGBTQ-affirming, and this event will help them get the word out. For once it's not about politics, not about equality. This time, it's about serving the spiritual needs of LGBTQ teens and their families."
Young people who live in areas with a more negative cultural climate towards LGBTQ issues are at an increased risk. Some 70% of calls to The Trevor Project's suicide hotline come from the southern and central regions of the United States.
Two out of three Americans agree with us that gay people suffer discrimination and violence and die from suicide at least partly because of anti-gay messages coming out of churches and other places of worship. We wondered:
What can WE do to help prevent gay teen suicide?
We believe that LGBTQ-affirming spiritual guidance and community can help lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer and questioning youth who are in crisis.
We know from personal experience that deep community and spiritual practices like prayer, meditation, mindfulness, forgiveness and yoga help human beings weather hard times. Bringing an LGBTQ teen to a certified welcoming church, synagogue, temple, sangha or other spiritual community can help empower them to "Make It Better" starting today.
That's why we invite your donation to support "Bring Your Gay Teen to Church Day."
We want to change the cultural mindset by making it common knowledge that many spiritual communities would love to welcome, support and inspire LGBTQ young people, without trying to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.
We can replace the incorrect assumption that LGBTQ people are "an abomination"
with our message that "God Loves Gays."
Most importantly, we want everyLGBTQ youth to hear that they are sacred, whole, valuable and loved, just as they are. And we want their parents, families and classmates to hear it, too!
September is National Yoga Month, when twisting, toe-touching yogis will roll out their mats at more than 1,500 free classes and events across America. Here's a look at the vital stats of this 5,000-year-old practice from the East turned booming business in the West.
Americans spend more than $5.7 BILLION A YEAR on yoga classes and products annually, up 87% since 2004.
The average cost of a YOGA CLASS is $12.
Lululemon Athletica, the world's biggest yoga-inspired retailer, posted $452.9million in net revenue for fiscal 2009, up 28% from 2008.Its stores generate an average of $1,800 in sales per square foot, about three times as much as apparel retailer J.Crew.
ON JUNE 22, New York's Central Park hosted the largest-ever group yoga session, with more than 10,000 people gathered on the GREAT LAWN.
For his 1967 film "Easy Come, Easy Go,"ELVIS Presley recorded the song "Yoga Is as Yoga Does." Other artists who have recorded songs with "Yoga" in the title: Lupe Fiasco ("Yoga Flame"), CSS ("Jager Yoga"), and the Mountain Goats ("Yoga").
BIKRAM CHOUDHURY,father of a fast-growing style of yoga done in rooms heated to105°F,copyrighted his script of 26 poses in 2002. In response, a team of 100 historians & scientists in India has documented nearly 1,500 poses recorded in ancient texts in an effort to stop people from patenting them.
71% of American yoga practitioners are college educated, compared with just 30% of the overall population. 44% have household incomes of $75,000 OR MORE, compared with 32% of the overall population.
108 is a sacred number in yoga and in Hinduism. For instance, the body is said to have 108marma points(sacred spots in the body that can be stimulated during yoga).
Forms of yoga have been practiced in India for at least 5,000 YEARS. More than 5,500 yoga-related injuries were treated in the U.S. in 2008, the most recent year for which data are available.
Nearly 16 MILLION adults in the U.S. practice yoga. 72% of them are Women.
THREE-QUARTERS of practitioners in the U.S. have been doing yoga for 5 years or less.
Why is it that we put so much pressure on ourselves to know exactly what we want at any given point in time? Naturally, there are instances when it’s important to identify a direction in which we would like to move, but the trouble is in getting so attached to that direction that we resist the inevitability of change. I think the key is to be able to establish goals and identify what we want when necessary, but to also learn to embrace the fluidity of life and become less rigid with ourselves. Life can be a lot less stressful than we tend to make it. I look back through the years that I’ve been in existence, and reflect about how many times I’ve changed directions.
And now, storytime! My own career path began with a major interest in music, which led me to music school where I studied performance. From the moment I stepped foot onto campus, I concluded that being a professional musician would be my life’s work. When I developed tendonitis during my studies, I had to really step back from music, and examine the driving force that pushed me towards my goal to the detriment of my own body. I had already been practicing yoga for a while, and my recently deeper exploration of spirituality as it related to my music, life, and ego led me to ask myself what the point of my rigidity was. Music was a part of my life from an early age, and I felt so strongly identified with a career in music that I was terrified of imagining my life without it. I had convinced myself that if I lost that, I would greatly diminish my own self worth. I’ve had moments of identity crisis like that with other things in my life as well, including my own body image. The reality is that I would be no more or less a person if I didn’t end up as a professional musician, or have the perfect body, and neither would anyone else. But that devious little ego in us all would have us see it differently. The miraculous part of this story is that as soon as I let go of my need to hold onto this lifelong goal of being a concert pianist, my body let go of the pain and my tendonitis began to heal after 5 years of sweat and tears. Since then, I have a renewed and far greater passion for music, yoga, understanding what my body needs, and life in itself, and I owe that to learning the beautiful, but very difficult lesson above.
So what’s the point of all of this? I didn’t find this renewed passion for life by searching for it relentlessly. That doesn’t mean that you won’t either, but rather that you should question the source of your inner drive to know your future from time to time, because it won’t always serve you spiritually, emotionally, or even physically if it’s ego driven. If you constantly need to know what your passion or purpose is, how open will you be to change when it eventually arrives in some form or another. For all you know, that change, as difficult or unexpected as it may be, will be the key to moving forward through your obstacles or discovering a passion for life you never knew existed.