7.25.2014

Mind and Body Wellness: Looking for Mentors

Mind and Body Wellness Looking for Mentors by Beth Hemmila

When the student is ready the master appears.
- Buddhist Proverb

One of the challenges of hiking in the mountains is that the path isn't always clear. Extensive rock faces and boulders obscure the landscape, and you can't always tell which way to go.

This is when I start looking for cairns -- small piles of rocks that act like signposts for confused travelers. I think of a series of cairns as a breadcrumb trail left behind by people who went before me. 

Symbolically, in the landscape of your own life you might find these cairns dotting the way for you -- information that will help navigate the path.

Whether you call them masters, teachers, spiritual guides, or mentors, they all have one thing in common -- through work, experience, and insight they hold wisdom that can help you on your journey.

Sometimes we like to travel alone, testing our knowledge and seeing what it's like to be a maverick; however, when you're feeling lost and confused, and don't know which way to turn, like looking for cairns on a path, seek out mentors who can offer courage and help point the way.


7.23.2014

Camping & Hiking Nevada's Ruby Mountains

Camping and Hiking Nevada's Ruby Mountains by Beth Hemmila



Ever since moving to Nevada, I've wanted to visit the Ruby Mountains. Last weekend I took a spontaneous road trip and camped at Thomas Canyon in the Ruby Mountains of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. What took me so long?



Camping and Hiking Nevada's Ruby Mountains by Beth Hemmila



The Ruby Mountains are considered Nevada's answer to Yosemite, and they aren't kidding. This place is gorgeous! Every view is jaw-dropping. The best part about this Nevada secret -- it isn't overrun with crowds of people so it still has sense of wilderness.



Camping Thomas Canyon and Hiking Nevada's Ruby Mountains by Beth Hemmila



Thomas Canyon Campground is intimate too. Nestled along creek beds, I was lucky enough to snag a campsite along the water's edge.


Camping Thomas Canyon and Hiking Nevada's Ruby Mountains by Beth Hemmila



The campground is characterized by aspen trees, wildflowers, and lots of little critters. I spent one day just relaxing in private cove by the creek, taking dips in the cool water, watching birds, and reading a book.



Camping and Hiking Nevada's Ruby Mountains by Beth Hemmila



Even though I only had the weekend, I still got to do a couple of hikes. The most spectacular one was hiking the Ruby Crest trail.



Camping and Hiking Ruby Crest Trail Lamoille Lake Nevada's Ruby Mountains by Beth Hemmila



Easy enough for all ages and abilities, the Ruby Crest trail offers a glimpse of meadows, creeks, wildflowers, and alpine lakes. This is a picture of Lamoille Lake -- a place that was worth stopping by for a swim and picnic lunch.

A couple days was not enough time, so I will definitely be coming back to the Ruby Mountains next year.

Little Unknown Facts about the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest
  • 6.3 million acres (the largest national forest in the contiguous United States)
  • Nevada is the most mountainous state in the contiguous United States
  • The forest encompasses 80,000-100,000 archeological sites

7.18.2014

Mind & Body Wellness: Heating up Your Life

Mind and Body Wellness: Heat a Catalyst for Change by Beth Hemmila

In Bikram yoga, the room is heated to 105 degrees, which can feel pretty hot. When I started doing Bikram yoga 10 years ago, the heat took center stage. How am I going to deal with the heat? How am I going to make it through class? Where's the coolest spot in the room? What can I do to make it easier? The heat was one of my greatest distractions from truly understanding yoga.

In the beginning, heat was my obstacle to being fully present in body, mind, and spirit. However, because the heat feels like an extreme physical challenge I didn't realize until deeper into my practice that it's really a psychological barrier.

It took me a long time to break down this mental wall. I'd like to say it only took a couple years, but I'm guessing it wasn't until I did my 120 Day Yoga Challenge (6 years into my practice) that I actually stopped using heat as a mental and emotional distraction.

Over time as my mind continually searched for a way to escape the heat, to realize there was none, I learned to pull my consciousness into my body -- a deeper place where there is no pain or suffering only peace. In this kind of meditative state, you are still present and aware of the room and its challenges, but by drawing your consciousness into your hara (belly), you see the world from a place of non-reaction.

I imagine the whole of life as a yoga room. Moreover, the challenges we are presented with such as waiting, adapting, and losing are the same as the heat found in the yoga room. Emotional, physical, and psychological discomfort heats up your life and sets it on fire.

Being a creature of comfort, I like to avoid heating up my life as much as possible; however, to grow and evolve into something new, like an alchemist in the lab, you need to add flame to your life and embrace this catalyst as an agent of change.

Just like the heat of the yoga room broke down my mental barriers and helped me discover the peace inside suffering, every day the heat in your life is doing exactly the same thing if you let it.

7.16.2014

Free Jewelry Making Tutorial: How to Cut Designs in Metal Sheet Using a Jewelers Saw



One of the top ten skills to acquire in metalsmithing or jewelry making is how to saw and cut designs in metal sheet. This is a quick, simple Howcast video by jewelry designer Courtney Gray that will teach you how to cut out a shape in metal.

7.11.2014

MInd & Body Wellness: Meeting Each Other Where We Are


All real living is meeting.
- Martin Buber, I and Thou

While hiking, you never know who you're going to meet on the path -- people young and old, dogs, horses, bikers, etc. It's always a surprise.

Invariably I'll miss a turn off, and a stranger will appear to help point me in the right direction. Or alternatively, I'll pull out my map to show someone how get back on track. The path is one of friendliness places to be.

This quote from Martin Buber's I and Thou is one I've contemplated over the last several years because it feels rooted in our humanness. Every day we meet new people and experiences, and that point of intersection is our life.

One of the hardest parts of meeting each other is recognizing that though we may be crossing paths in the same time and space, our emotional, mental, and spiritual baggage that we carry affects our perception of things. 

To meet each other exactly where we are takes the courage to drop our baggage, put our perceptions in neutral, and accept the other exactly as they are. 

We are all who we need to be at each meeting point in time and space. And when we find the willingness to drop our judgments of good or bad, we then naturally encounter a kind of openness, friendliness, and helpfulness found on the path.

6.27.2014

Mind & Body Wellness: Laughing at Walls

Mind & Body Wellness Laughing at Walls by Beth Hemmila


We build walls.

We create emotional walls out of confusion and fear.

Should we break them down? Maybe. Sometimes.

Lately I've taken to just laughing at my walls. Noticing "The Beth Show," recognizing that what I'm creating is a wall, acknowledging my fear, and either seeing if I can push past it or just accept that's where I am for right now.

Awareness is the first step. What are the walls that I use to distance myself from others and make myself unavailable to more and more love?

Here are some subtle emotional walls that I have noticed in myself during vulnerable times, which seem to be erected out of a desire to create the illusion of safety and push others away:

  • Sickness
  • Depression
  • Exhaustion
  • Overworking, excessive busy-ness
  • Excuses 
  • Anger
  • Mental, emotional, and spiritual stinginess
  • Withholding forgiveness
  • Saying "I can't"
  • Crying to get out of doing something uncomfortable
  • "Rescue Me" dramas
  • Addiction
  • Denial 
  • Fake happiness

6.21.2014

Love's Crumbs




Love's Crumbs
by Beth Hemmila

Love is breaking me down
into bite sized pieces.

And life is swallowing
every crumb.

6.20.2014

Mind & Body Wellness: Cultivating Patience & Savoring the Experience

Whale Beach, Lake Tahoe

I'm impatient. I've always been that way, so it's a surprise to me how much patience I've cultivated through yoga the last couple years.

We all have to wait in grocery lines, traffic lights, and doctor's offices. There is ample opportunity to practice this skill so as to get ready for life experiences that demand a great deal patience such as waiting to hear about a job interview, surgical result, or birth of a child.

Lately, I find myself enjoying the wait. In fact, most of the time I happily let people go in front of me.

Before I developed this patience, I forced polite behavior, following social protocol. The difference now is that I consciously sit with the wait.

To take my patience one step future, I've learned to savor the moment of waiting. If the waiting feels uncomfortable I savor the feelings of discomfort through meditation. I use waiting in lines as an opportunity to deepen my meditation practice either by emptying my mind or savoring the whole experience -- people, conversations, sights, sounds, and feelings that arise.

I owe my new found patience to both my meditation and yoga practice. Both ways teach me that I don't have to be anywhere in a rush. I'm starting to understand that the most important thing happening in my life is happening right now and not in the future. I know that nothing is coming to rescue the moment from discomfort and make me any more happy than I am right now.


6.13.2014

Mind & Body Wellness: The Beauty of Silence

Mind and Body Wellness The Beauty of Silence by Beth Hemmila
Churches Pond, Galena Creek Regional Park, Reno, Nevada
 
Souls meet in between words.
- Beth Hemmila

Once I was sitting in a workshop, and we were all patiently waiting for someone to finish writing so we could start the next section. Quite spontaneously, a beautiful moment of silence appeared. In that brief space of time, I sensed that we all felt comfortable with each other, ourselves, and the moment. Then the energy in the room shifted, and a couple people started to exhibit nervousness. I could almost read their thoughts: "What's happening? What do we do with the silence? How do I fix this discomfort? Why isn't anyone saying anything? Should I fill it?"

Needless to say our moment of silence passed, and someone spoke up and said something about the silence, which led to a whole conversation about how uncomfortable this experience had been for some people.

We seem to have a hard time leaving space for the natural silences that occur in our lives. We like our machines, talking, music, and thinking.

However, if you sit with the discomfort of silence either alone or with others, what you'll notice is that eventually you will feel connected to your most natural state of being -- a place that takes you out of time and into eternity.

People sometimes talk as if they were “looking for silence,” as if silence had gone away or they had misplaced it somewhere. But it is hardly something they could have misplaced. Silence is the infinite horizon against which is set every word they have ever spoken, and they can't find it? Not to worry—it will find them.
- Trappist Monk, "How Silence Works"
 

6.06.2014

Mind & Body Wellness: Ready, Willing and Able

The Key: And The Name of the Key is Willingness by Cheri Huber is on my reading list. A friend introduced me to it -- an easy introduction to Zen Buddhism -- after she told me about a dream where she was given "The Key of Willingness."

Since her story, I started thinking about willingness and how it shapes my life. Most often I use this word in regards to a goal -- something to accomplish. Alternatively, I've thought about willingness as taking on greater and greater responsibility. In this way, it seems to stem from the idea of will -- a sense of internal power that spurs you to action.

However, I realized there was another side to the concept of willingness -- one that is quiet and still. We don't often acknowledge the courage it takes to be in this state of willingness because perhaps in these moments of discomfort we don't recognize it as willingness.

This is the willingness to experience the totality of life in all it's joys and sufferings. Such as the willingness to face death, illness, loss of love, and poverty.

The willingness to adapt and change. The willingness to listen when you want to shut down. The willingness to stay put when you'd rather run away.

This kind of willingness doesn't come with a tangible reward at the end, rather it asks you to remain more and more open and to face more and more personal challenges with acceptance and ease.

Whether you like it or not life will hand you challenges, which ask you to cultivate this tender quality of willingness. However, it's up to you to be ready, willing, and able to accept them.