Friday, December 31, 2010

Intention for a New Year

2011 is almost here, and it is time to reflect on what I want to do to focus on the New Year. Many people set New Year’s Resolutions, e.g., “I resolve to lose 10 pounds,” or “I resolve to finally organize the photos.” I read a blog, which I cannot find right now, that talked about Intentions rather than Resolutions. I like that notion, and I also think it is what best connects lawyers and yogis.

Yoga is about intention, called a sankalpa in sanskrit. Although we do not often think about it in that way, being a lawyer is also about intention. I remember more than one oral argument where the first question the judges asked was, “so, what exactly do you want us to do if we agree with you?” Lawyers often forget to provide the intention of their argument, their underlying goal. One of the first lessons I learned in law school was to know what I want and to make sure I ask for it. That’s intention; that’s sankalpa.

But what is the difference between a sankalpa and a New Year’s Resolution? The resolution is one thing you want changed. An intention goes deeper. It can permeate your entire life, as opposed to being just one “thing” you want to change. (I had an English teacher once who berated us for using the word thing; I almost never use it, but here it appears appropriate because, but I have to point out how difficult it is for me to write, especially the irony of my writing it in a post about intention and resolutions.) 

When I was writing about the yamas and niyamas, I talked about santosha, or contentment, and concluded that contentment is a state of being, not a state of mind. An intention vs. a resolution is similar - an intention is a state of being, while a resolution is one piece of that, a state of mind or one action to take. 

I have written a lot about my upcoming trip to New Zealand to study family law. So much about this adventure is scary to me - living with people, being uprooted, not finding the right food, not having a yoga community, etc. So, my intention for the year is to be open to these new adventures and possibilities. From the law to yoga, life requires flexibility. I remember the very first time I traveled alone. I was in Munich, and I was staying at a hostel alone. I was scared to death. Two years later, I traveled to the south of Belgium to find the city where my grandfather was during WWII. Now I only like to travel alone. We grow and change along this adventure we call life, but in order to do that, we must be willing to meet our fears and be open to the possibilities that the universe provides.

Law school brought new life to my Type A personality. Yoga Teacher Training was just part of a new “routine.” But another word for routine is rut, which is definitely where I do not want to get stuck. Many judges love hiring law clerks fresh from law school because they like the new perspective. We may trip over our metaphorical feet from time to time, but we also bring a new perspective to their view of the law. Although routine is safe, it can limit our full potential, in any area of our lives. This year, therefore, as my entire routine is uprooted and sent to the other side of the world, I intend to grow from the experience and stay open to all the possibilities it brings.

I have no idea how any of this will turn out. I bought a Lonely Planet Guide for New Zealand today, but short of that, I do not even know where I am living five days after arriving in the country. It is incredibly scary, but also incredibly exciting. Thank you all for sharing this journey with me and with each other. 

Many blessings this New Year. What is your sankalpa? What do you want to bring to your life in 2011? 


© 2010 Rebecca Stahl, all rights reserved

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Why this Jew Loves Christmas

I have never been a particularly religious person. I have always, however, been fascinated by religion, spirituality, energy, etc. My most recent fascination, once again sparked by my dear brother, is crystals. The Earth has so much to teach, and today I felt its presence once again, but more on that in a moment.

As an American Jew, Christmas meant movies and Chinese food growing up. My family never got into the habit of serving meals to the poor, though I would often feed meals at my mother’s nursing homes on Christmas and/or Thanksgiving every year. Really, Christmas was just like any other day. But then I began searching, and I found that I love Christmas.

Like Thanksgiving with gratitude, the Christmas spirit permeates the air. It is a spirit of joy and togetherness, a time when old wounds can be healed, and the person at the grocery store checkout line can become your new best friend, even if only for the . . . ahem, 30 minutes you are waiting to check out because you go grocery shopping on December 24.

There is no question that consumerism has overtaken much of the Christmas spirit, but underlying it is the desire to bring joy to people. We buy gifts for our friends and family as a way to say we care. Many days, I disagree with the outcome (the consumerist culture), but not with the joy of sharing and giving. The joy on a child’s face when he gets the Superman pajamas from Grandma (my nephew yesterday) is worth every moment. The Christmas spirit is about giving - again, yesterday, a woman at a Tibetan store gave my nephew a pair of gloves because he was so patiently waiting for the rest of us (we were deciding on the perfect Tibetan Singing Bowl for my brother).

Religiously, Christmas is about the birth of the Messiah, if you believe in that. Taking that up the abstraction ladder (as my Torts professor called it), Christmas represents the birth of possibility, of saving ourselves from ourselves, from our own internal hells. To me, and I think to many others, the answer to that is compassion, kindness, working together, sharing, etc. During Christmas, these ideas come together, and we see that in the spirit of the holidays, we can find new ways to interact with each other, through kindness instead of hate, through joy instead of sorrow. I hope this spirit permeates the legal profession. What a way to change the way we do law - through a spirit of joy instead of adversary.

So Christmas has gained new meaning as I have grown up and seen it for what it is. I took a walk this morning, and the air was just full of joy and happiness. The Earth breathes easier when we are all in this spirit. We all breathe easier. My wish/hope/prayer for today is that we continue to find ways to interact like this throughout the entire year. May we all make friends in grocery stores, spread joy, and share love with one another . . . no matter your religion.

Merry Christmas to all, and I hope you still get your movie and Chinese food, if that is your tradition. I know I am still off to a movie today!

Namaste and Blessings!

© 2010 Rebecca Stahl, all rights reserved

Friday, December 24, 2010

Life is alright - the travel edition

I have been missing the Reverb10 posts mostly because I have not felt called to answer them deeply. But there have been two I have liked, and I want to answer them together.

The December 22 prompt was: Travel How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?

Today’s prompt is: Everything’s OK What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?

Travel has defined so much of my life. I have been incredibly lucky to travel abroad, live abroad, and study abroad. I first left the country when I was 18 months old, then again in 8th grade, then again upon my graduation from college. I studied in France my second semester of my junior year and taught English in France the year between undergrad and law school.

But I have also had the joy and privilege to travel throughout North America. Since I have been self-employed, I have had the opportunity to travel around the United States to visit friends and family. I spent time getting to know my family and friends better, getting to understand how I fit with them. Traveling has opened my eyes to the world, to who I am, and to how I can best be with other people, here and abroad.

How does this tie into how I know that everything is going to be alright? That moment this year was the moment I was accepted to be a Fulbright Scholar and travel to New Zealand to study children’s representation in courts. My entire purpose for going to law school was to help children, to help families, to make the system better for all families and children. At that moment, I knew I would be given that opportunity. It also meant that I would have the opportunity to live abroad again next year.

Lawyers are not known for taking chances. We tend to be a risk averse profession. After all, we get paid to be risk averse, we get paid to consider all the horrific outcomes - we do not get paid to take chances and risk ourselves or our clients. But the opportunity to study in New Zealand is an opportunity to be non-lawyerly, to take the leap of faith that this is what te universe has in store for me and for the future of family law.

I hope that my work abroad makes a difference. I hope that I learn something wonderful about myself and the world, and that my yoga background provides me the insight to bring a new perspective. I know that I do not have to be stuck into the world that lawyers and society feel are “safe.” Even though one judge said to my dad, “isn’t it time for her to settle down?”, I know that my future lies elsewhere. I know that I have the opportunity to do something bigger than the traditional, to go outside the box and make a difference. A Fulbright is an opportunity to travel, but it is also an opportunity to do what I have always wanted to do.

Yoga has the tools to help give me the strength to “skip town” without feeling like I am skipping town. I know that this is right. I trust the universe, I trust my internal awareness, and I trust that the situation in which we are living can change. Travel and yoga have taught me that I need not be stuck in the risk-averse legal worldview. And now I get to live near penguins!

So, I knew that life would work out the moment I got that letter. and travel is where it always begins and ends for me in my life.

I hope you all have a happy holiday and know that life is unfolding exactly as it should. Many blessings this holiday season.


© 2010 Rebecca Stahl, all rights reserved

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Finding the path to healing

Today’s Reverb10 Prompt is a great way to reflect on yoga and the law. It states, “What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?”

Lawyers like to “heal.” We see problems, and we try to fix them. That is our job. Even transactional attorneys are always thinking about potential problems and “healing” them before they occur. I know that I do not like to be in situations that I cannot fix. After all, my ultimate professional goal is to heal the family law system in this country, even though I currently have no idea how I am going to do that.

But what is healing? We think of healing disease, healing aches and pains, healing relationships, etc. True, deep healing is more than just glossing over the surface of something and getting a good outcome in court. True healing is deeper, goes to the heart (literally) and to the heart of the matter. This is where the legal system fails, at least in my opinion. We can fix problems, but do we ever reach a state of healing?

This year, I have begun to understand how I take on other peoples’ energies, their aches and pains, their joys and sorrows, etc. This has the potential to be a gift - the ability to truly understand where other people are, thus insight into how to help. It can also be a curse. There is a lot of junk in the world, and learning how to tune it out at times would be nice. But with respect to family law, it is a blessing. I can see the real problems, not the ones that show up on paper, but the ones that show up in peoples’ hearts. Unfortunately I have not found a way to translate that into actual healing.

So, personally, I’m not sure what healed for me this year. I opened up to greater community and began to seek out quality time with old friends and new. But if there is one thing I want to heal in 2011, it is my unsteadiness about the future. I know, deep down, that the answers will come. That’s the yogi in me. The lawyer in me, however, wants those answers TODAY!! I know that if I can get past that need, then the answers will come; I can already feel them. Now it’s time to understand them.

What do you want to heal? Is it personal? Is it internal or external?

Namaste and Blessings!

© 2010 Rebecca Stahl, all rights reserved

Friday, December 17, 2010

Remembering the Tools - A Lesson from 2010

I have been thinking about today’s Reverb10 prompt all day: Lesson Learned What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

I do not seem to have an answer. I learned so many things about myself, but perhaps the greatest lesson, and the one that fits into the Is Yoga Legal theme is that talking the talk is not always enough. I have written about this before, but as this year comes to an end, and I am faced leaving my Arizona life behind for a year to pursue an amazing opportunity in New Zealand, this lesson is smacking me in the face . . . constantly.

During these past few months, I have written more than once, even for the Reverb10 prompts, about having found my own path this year, meaning that I have found the courage to take my own path, whatever it is. Guidance from others, especially those who have supported me along the way to get here, is still greatly appreciated, but like all little birds, it is time to spread my own wings and fly.

But with that comes some bumps along the road. Just the other night, I was teaching a yoga class, and one of the women in the class shattered the bones in her toe. Thus, she has been unable to do her yoga practice “correctly” for several months. Although my sprained ankle did not ground me the way her toe has grounded her, I can understand how much it affects her. She asked me what to do about it, how to have her practice without her ego getting in the way.

Is there a good answer?

Yoga, on one level is about letting go of the ego, following your inner voice, ignoring those around you, and finding your own internal strength. I tell everyone who will listen (and many who would choose not to listen) that yoga is for anyone with any body. I believe that.

I also know that we live in the modern era. We are human. We have human emotions. Like so many others, I have pulled muscles, hurt my shoulder, and pushed myself beyond my limits. For what? To prove something to others? To prove something to myself?

On one level, I have gone beyond that - even when teaching, I joke about my limitations, show people bad form in postures, and then come out of going too deep to demonstrate that it is possible to get the same benefits without getting into the full expression of the post. But there are also days when I am a student in class, along with people who often take my classes, ad I find myself pushing myself a little farther . . . after all, I am a teacher, I have to look good in a class, right?

This year’s lesson is learning that as much as I “know” that my ego should not get in the way, sometimes it does, and that is okay!

So, what about lawyers? Talk about a profession of egos! We know that our lawyer egos can get in the way of our clients’ best interests sometimes; we know that being the best in the workplace can get in the way of our home life sometimes; we know that our perfectionist qualities are our biggest weakness (side note: in a mock interview once, the interviewer asked me my biggest weakness, and I was prepared to say, “I’m a perfectionist,” but he completed his question saying, “Don’t say, you’re a perfectionist.” Apparently, that is a common response among lawyers. Who knew?).

We know all this, yet we get tied up in it. As people living in this modern, fast-paced world, our egos drive us. Yoga gives us the tools to transcend the ego, but some days we forget how to use them . . . and that is okay.

So, while it would be great to always turn off the ego, allow our reminders (e.g., shattered toes and sprained ankles and deadlines) to slow us down enough to use those tools, sometimes we forget and we trudge through, and we hurt ourselves, or others, unwittingly. The important thing is that we learn, step back into the game, and remember the tools for the next lesson. After all, it turns out that what does not kill us really does make us stronger.

Where have you forgotten to use your yoga tools? What did you learn?

Namaste and Blessings!

© 2010 Rebecca Stahl, all rights reserved

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Five minutes of memories

Today’s Reverb10 Prompt states: “5 Minutes Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.”

Can you really put all your memories into five minutes? Each moment is precious, a chance to grow into our fullest potential. But when I reflect on the year, and for only five minutes, a few big memories pop out, but what really becomes clear is what I have learned from each moment.

I would remember a trip to Mexico where I found the courage to take asana anywhere, including while waiting at the border. I would remember teaching the first time at a professional conference, having to move rooms because there were too many professionals who wanted to do yoga, and then I would remember teaching yoga the day after spraining my ankle at the Mindful Lawyer Conference.

I would want to remember receiving the letter in the mail that I am going to New Zealand to study family law and all the subsequent challenges and excitement that have arisen as a result.

Personally, this time of being self-employed has given me the opportunity to travel to see friends and families, attend a conference, and create a business teaching stress management workshops to lawyers. It has given me the opportunity to reflect on who I am and what I want to do with myself. One day it came to me, in words, for the first time: I want to be useful to people. From changing the family law system to being someone willing to lend an ear to teaching stress management and yoga, if it helps someone, it is worthwhile. If not, then what is the point? I want to remember that. And it leads to what I want to remember most about 2010.

But what do I want to remember the most? Interestingly, it has to do with a bathroom at a yoga studio. One evening, I was in there after class and chatting with everyone else in there, only to discover that we were all lawyers. There were only six of us in there, but what does that mean for the profession? It means the paradigm is shifting, better yet, it means the paradigm has shifted. It all comes back to community; when we reach a critical mass, the world begins to change.

In 2009, when I started my job at the court of appeals, I was embarrassed to talk about yoga, I was embarrassed to use my tennis ball as a foot massager. 2010 was different. From lawyers filling the restroom at a yoga studio, to tree pose around the world, to a coffee shop interview, 2010 was about breaking the boundaries, about freedom from an old paradigm, and about learning to live from the heart at all times.

There can be no greater memory than the freedom to live fully in the future, from the heart, serving others.

What do you want to remember about 2010?

Namaste and Blessings!

© 2010 Rebecca Stahl, all rights reserved

Monday, December 13, 2010

Shifting ideas into reality

The Reverb10 prompts continue to be about my life in so many ways. Today’s prompt states, “Action When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step?”

The class I just finished asked this very same question - what are you next action items to make your aspirations a reality? With respect to my aspirations regarding Is Yoga Legal?, I have recently created a webpage (link soon), and my next step is to make it useful to the public. Within the next month, the website will be full of articles about yoga and professionals, about the benefits yoga and meditation can provide to professionals, and explanations of postures you can use at your desk to make your workday work for you. Also, I hope to create a Q and A page where we can begin to create a community together, asking the questions we all share, and providing answers to one another. If you have ideas on how to make such a page useful to you, please send them my way.

My other action item, in the representation of children in legal proceedings area of my life, is to go to New Zealand. I have mentioned this several times on this blog, so now is as good a time as any to explain what I plan to do there. I will be studying the New Zealand Family Law System. Unlike most courts in the United States, all children in New Zealand have an attorney in any case in which they are affected, such as divorce, child welfare, and delinquency. I will be writing a thesis on children’s representation, and hopefully coming back to the United States armed with the information and tools to implement better systems here.

But what about combining yoga and the law? One of my goals, having little to do with New Zealand, is to help shift the paradigm of thinking that we encounter in the legal system. While many people do their best to help children, often they are coming from old ways of thinking, ways that do not work in this ever-expanding world of energy and consciousness. What if we lived in a world where compassion were the starting point? What if we lived in a world where we did not judge individuals by individual acts? What if we lived in a world where children had a voice because they are people? What if?

Yes, these are aspirations for which I have no physical action steps today, but asking the questions, opening the universe to such possibilities is the first step. After all, two years ago, I told a judge in New Zealand that I wanted to go to his country to study, and my apartment in shambles is proof that I am leaving soon. Sometimes the most important action step is just being willing to see the possibility.

What are your aspirations? How can we best connect as a community?

Namaste and Blessings!

© 2010 Rebecca Stahl, all rights reserved

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Integration - body, mind, spirit, and beyond

Today’s Reverb10 Prompt is another that hit close to home and hit on a topic I have considered a lot this year. It is: “Body Integration This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?”

Being a yoga teacher means that I have studied the body a lot. During teacher training, I found myself fascinated by the body, the physical body through anatomy and also the energetic body, for which I never had the words to describe. Then I learned about the koshas and finally, my fascination with the body was given words and expression. But today’s prompt is about something slightly different - when I felt the most integrated with the body. Interestingly, it will come back to the koshas, but from a different angle.

My lawyer background makes me want to determine the definition of integration. The prompt defines it as pure cohesion between body and mind. I would add spirit to the definition. This is the point where we are as close to balance as we can ever be, where our inner perfection begins to shine through to our outer lives.

This integration happens for me in two arenas, and they perfectly embody the reason for this blog - one is in yoga, and the other is professionally. Integration often begins on the yoga mat. Certainly, it does not happen every time, but it is through the body that I have begun to understand my mental/psychological world so much more. The body is the gateway to so much more, and as I have begun to believe this, the world has opened up for me. I have written about body awareness and its effect on me, several times, such as here and here, so I will not go anymore into it in this post.

Instead, the second arena is more pertinent to professionals. There is perfect body mind integration when I am doing work that I absolutely love to do. For example, at the AFCC conference in Denver earlier this year, where I was inspired over and over again, I remember barely feeling my body, yet being absolutely in tune with everything it told me. It allowed me to do exactly what the conference offered even though I was giving it little rest and poor nutrition. 

This professional integration is the moment when you are in flow, when time goes by, and you do not even notice that it has moved. For me, this happens when I am doing legal work that involves children, reading about children’s issues around the world. It inspires me in ways I cannot put into words, which is how I know that it is pure integration. It is the reason I am heading to New Zealand to study their family law system, in order to help make ours better. When studying these issues, the world is opportunity, and imagination is the only limit.

Everyone has their own moment of such flow. Everyone has times when their body speaks to them, sometimes we enjoy those moments more than others. But the point is that you learn to utilize these moments because it is in these moments of body-mind integration that we hit our peak state. It is where we are capable of changing not only our own lives, but the world. It is in these moments that anything is truly possible.

I recently took a class on achieving business success, but we focused on so much more than just business success. The class began by asking “why do you do what you do?” The class ended asking us, “what makes you tick?” When we know the answers to these questions, our integration is in the most perfect balance it will ever achieve, and in that state, anything is possible.

Thus, my answer to today’s prompt goes right back to the koshas - the different koshas interact until they come into their optimum state. From there, we eventually reach bliss/divinity. Those moments can begin at any point, but the important piece is that we recognize them.

When are you most integrated between your body and mind?

Namaste and Blessings!

© 2010 Rebecca Stahl, all rights reserved

Friday, December 10, 2010

A decision to change a year

Today’s Reverb10 prompt asks, “What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?”

There is no doubt that is a loaded question. What makes a decision wise? The second half of the question, I think, answers the first for many of us. Do we determine that a decision is wise based upon the outcome of that decision? How is the wisdom of a decision different whether it is in a personal or professioal setting?

After considering these questions, and considering many big decisions I have made this year, I think I have some sempblance of an answer, especially because it fits so nicely into the general theme - integrating yoga and the law as a profession. This year, I made the decision to follow my own heart. I have been writing about this a lot this year, but just as my year has been about creating a solid foundation, deciding to follow my own heart was a huge step in that process.

But what does this mean? It means that I took the leap and said yes to going to New Zealand to study family law. Sure, I have no idea what I will do when I get back, but I trust that my work there will not go to waste, and I will come back to the United States ready to be a part of creating new family and juvenile law systems here. It means that I took the plunge and taught Stress Management workshops for lawyers, not allowing the State Bar or low sign-ups to deter me from doing what I know is going to help people. It meant, perhaps most importantly, giving up the fear of talking about yoga and heart in the professional world. That was probably the biggest step.

The other day I taught a workshop at a law firm, and one of the attendees was invited by others; ok, they used peer pressure and dragged him into the room. The poor guy had no idea what to expect. I felt myself going to that place of fear of being open about yoga, heart, meditation, etc., but then I realized that my true self would not come through, and I gave the same presentation I always do. Perhaps I did not change his views, but the possibility is there. The possibility toward openness is always there. I am lucky that I live in a time where others have set this path for me. Ten years ago, I would not be able to do the work I do now. I could barely have this blog. But because of others and their courage, I can talk about the heart chakra in a law firm and not get kicked out.

I keep telling people that I do not want this blog to be just about me, but I want it to be useful to others. These prompts have asked me to reflect on my year. Why share them? What good does that do the world? What good does it do other professionals? With this post, I hope that people can see that the professions are more open than ever to new paradigms. The world is rapidly changing, faster than any of us can comprehend, and what is “right” will continue to change each and every day. But when you follow your heart, you know that what you are doing is right for you. What I have found is that people respond best to me when I am my true self. We all “know” this, but sometimes we wonder. This year, this decision to be me, fully me, has allowed me to see that truism in its full light. 

Bringing this into the workplace is vital. Following your heart means you know what your heart wants. In work, when we know why we do the work, we are more likely to enjoy the actual doing of the work. In short, having the ability to follow your heart makes your work your livelihood and not only a way to afford the food you eat. Are you ready to make this decision?

Wise? I do not know if this decision is wisdom. What I do know is that it has made for an exciting and fulfilling year. How have you followed your heart this year?

Namaste and Blessings! 

© 2010 Rebecca Stahl, all rights reserved

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Community? Just Community!

As may be abundantly clear, community matters to me. I have blogged about it several times, from the professional conference of an organization in which I feel like I grew up, to a brand-new professional organization’s conference to yoga classes and my own workshops. I think community is what drives us.

Today’s Reverb10 prompt: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

Can you think of anything more perfect?

While I have focused on so many communities before, I want to focus on a new one with this post. I joined an executive coaching class this year, actually the last 100 days, and today was the last day, so what better time than now to discuss the community it helped me create? The class focused on many different business-related themes, both internal and external (from determining your reason for doing the work you do to learning concise, time-management techniques). The hardest/scariest one for me was the focus on networking.

Seeing as I have been un-self-employed since August 21, I have had sufficient time to take advantage of the networking opportunities offered through the class and with the class teacher. Never have I felt more out of my element, but never have I gained so much about myself. Sure, I went to networking events and met some really wonderful people. I loved that aspect, and I enjoyed many of the conversations I shared. I heard about people doing fascinating work here in Phoenix, and hopefully when I return those connections will be incredibly beneficial to me. So, there was that community - professionals.

But I gained something more, something deeper, and it explains why I have yearned so much for community and written about it more frequently than any other topic on this blog - I created a new community of friends. In the past, I have been very much a home-body. When in public, I connect with people, and then I go to yoga classes, go home, and stay at home, often alone. Getting me out of the house outside of my routine is nearly impossible. But the combination of being jobless and learning to branch out, I have found myself reaching out to more and more friends. Perhaps the fear (is that the right word) that I am leaving the country for a year was a motivating factor as well.

What I learned is that I enjoy it. I still enjoy my nights home alone, seeing as I am having one right now, but only after a full day, during which I made time to meet with a friend I had not seen in months. In the last few months, I have reconnected with old friends, made plans to go to CA over Christmas to make sure to see people, made jam-packed plans every time I go to Tucson, and made new friends and colleagues along the way. In short, I have entered community, in all its meanings. There was not one particular community, just community. Instead of only being part of it when it found me, I decided to find it.

What a blessing.

In addition to the more personal community of daily interactions, I have found community through this blog, through reading other blogs, and through facebook. The digital community has helped spark a real-life community for me, and for the first time in my life, I am enjoying it. Thank you all for being part of it, whether we have met in person, chatted online, or never communicated in any way except through your reading of this blog. I hope that is not the case, but if it is, know that your presence is felt.

So, for next year, what do I want? In some ways, I fear that I will be losing this community I have just begun to create, but then I realize that community is larger than that, never to be lost. Creating community is a skill, and over the next year I want to keep this openness to building community. I want to not fear living among people with a different culture and different time schedule. New Zealand is on the other side of the world, and my life has already literally been turned upside down. Thank you, universe, for preparing me, yet again, for what lies ahead.

To community!

Namaste and Blessings!

© 2010 Rebecca Stahl, all rights reserved

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Let go and soar

Today’s Reverb10 prompt is about letting go. Where have you let go over the past year? This prompt sort of felt like a punch to the gut when I first ready it. This is my work. This is lawyer work. This is yoga. While wonder are important to yoga and the law, letting go are necessary, not only to each of them, but to life itself. I have written before about letting go, about how I learned to release energy, but I have grown since that post, and here I offer some of that growth and reflection.

As I said before, letting go is the yoga paradox - the more you learn to let go, the more you learn to open up and receive and the stronger you can eventually become. My teacher explained it best, with the body as an example; your muscles will not relax until they know that something else will support them. This is the root of so much of our tension, of our pain, physically, emotionally, spiritually.

But why is letting go so important? Why does it matter to lawyers? Why does it matter in life? When we are gripping and holding on, we are using all of our energy for that process. All of our energy goes to keeping ourselves locked in a situation because we think that is the best situation for us. With all of our our energy (physical, emotional, spiritual) locked up holding on, we have no more energy reserves to open up to new possibilities, to increase our wonder, to interact in new and exciting ways.

Letting go is scary. There is no question about that. As I mentioned before, for lawyers it can mean a malpractice suit. It can mean that others will think less of us. It could mean that we no longer understand our lives. It could mean that we lose our sense of identity.

But letting go is also that sense of excitement. It is about new opportunities. It is about new relationships. It is about new ways to see the world. Letting go does not mean giving up. It does not mean passivity in the face of extreme hardship. It does not mean that you have no control.

For me, personally, that is what I have let go of this year. I have let go of what it means to let go. We all do it differently; we all do it in different ways. It opens different doors for each of us. For me, it has meant that the universe has a plan for me. I am an integral actor in that plan, and choices I make will change that outcome, but I need not fear what tomorrow will bring. I have (begun to) let go of that fear. I know that in less than 6 weeks, I will be on the other side of the world in a situation I have never encountered - doing empirical research. I could have a comfortable job right here in Arizona, but this adventure means more to me.

Of course, I will still have the internet, facebook, skype, and a cell phone. I am going to a country where they speak English (somewhat understandably), and where electricity and indoor sanitation are normal. In short, not very much outside my comfort zone. People keep asking me what I will do when I get back. The answer is that I could end up in the very same job I would otherwise have already started. I could also end up . . . well, who knows, right? My third year in law school, I was scared to death about finding work, paying back the loans, and settling down. Today, I’m packing my apartment to learn about family law in another country. One judge recently asked my dad, “shouldn’t she be settling down soon?” Perhaps. But instead, I’m going to keep working on letting go of that requirement. The universe has never failed me yet.

Where have you let go? What adventures are you seeking? What do you have to offer the universe? If the body is any example (and we know it is), if you let yourself be supported (by the universe), you can let go and soar to your greatest heights.

Namaste and Blessings!

© 2010 Rebecca Stahl, all rights reserved

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Wonder opens new possibilities

Today’s Reverb10 Prompt: Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

I cannot think of a better connection between yoga and the law than wonder. But what about also including wondering? A sense of wonder is something that we can create through yoga. For me, this path has been opened most recently by looking at the koshas and truly tuning in to see how the body and mind interact, how the body is such an incredible reflection of the soul. Throughout this year, I have allowed myself to open up to wonder, coming back to the basics, in yoga as well as life. (and I say this understanding that it’s silly to quote Internet dictionaries) defines wonder:  to be filled with admiration, amazement, or awe; marvel. It is like going back to being a child and seeing the world through new eyes. Each day, I try to open my eyes in new ways, see each interaction from a different perspective. My yoga teacher training, along with my job at the court of appeals, helped me to do this each and every day.

Interestingly, this is where yoga and the law have both helped. At the court, you have to look at both sides, analyze every aspect of the situation to find the correct answer. Thinking outside of the box is the only way to work. In yoga, you have to pay attention to each moment, the body, the breath. If not, you can hurt yourself. As you wonder where the body and breath are going, they begin to change, and you can work with them. Together, these different worlds have opened my eyes broader than either one would alone . . . and more than just my eyes. My entire being has opened.

That new being leads to wondering. Wonder creates the opportunity for wondering. Wondering is about seeing the possibilities of all that can happen in the world. My opportunity in New Zealand is to study their system for children’s representation in court. I wonder how I will be able to bring that system back to the United States. Instead of being stuck in the current paradigm, we can see the possibilities that we can create. Wonder opens those doors. Just being willing to see the other side, to see more of the picture opens us to a new world.

What has wonder given you? Where do you allow yourself to wonder about new possibilities?

Namaste and Blessings!

© 2010 Rebecca Stahl, all rights reserved