• Mysticism

    Realigning with My True Self – An Oracle Card Reading

    September has been emotionally difficult because every day feels like a futile fight to stay positive and to cultivate a future. It seems like a futile fight because most days I wake up already in a bad mood, and on the few days when I actually wake up excited and I work toward my goals, I end up feeling defeated and depressed by the end of the night.

    I try not to casually throw around the word, “depressed,” because I don’t want to misuse it…but I feel like after weeks of crying daily, instigating tons unnecessary fights with my mom and with my girlfriend, emotionally beating myself up, reducing myself to nothing, and wishing I could escape from reality warrants the use of the term, “depressed.”

    I have only wished I could disappear when I am struggling to cope with change, struggling to stay afloat, and struggling to thrive. Right now I’m struggling with all three, so it’s overwhelming.

    I’m not sharing this to worry anyone…I don’t want to hurt myself, I just don’t always want to deal with my life. Not because my life is bad or anything, because my life isn’t bad at all. I have food, a home, a caring family, health insurance, and I’m finally working part-time. My life is good and comfortable, which I’m grateful for and I try to remind myself of this all of the time.

    Despite acknowledging my blessings, I get caught up in my stagnancy. When I focus my energy on taking steps toward my goals so I can move forward, I doubt myself and I doubt my ability to move forward at all. It’s a toxic cycle that unfortunately has poisoned my emotional well-being as well as my relationships. I don’t want to be around anyone because I feel like poison. Isolation exacerbates my depression too.

    So…I pulled my Ganesha cards on Monday to get some insight and guidance that I can reflect upon. I’m not going to share a picture of my cards this time because most of them I have already shared on my blog.

    My Reading

    1. The first card, which represents where I am now, I pulled Positive Outlook. I was bewildered when I saw this card because as noted previously, I wouldn’t consider myself having a positive outlook at the moment. Well, the card is about how all circumstances are neutral, and it is one’s mental attitude that influences how it is perceived. It reminds me of what I have read in The Untethered Soul as well as something I had painted on a flowerpot after my grief group concluded two years ago: Your perception is your reality. I suppose I need to take a step back from judging my experiences as negative and to at least view things as neutral.
    2. Sustenance is the card that represents my next steps. The painting on the card is of Ganesha enjoying a buffet, but the card isn’t about food. It’s about how I need to acknowledge my blessings as well as acknowledge the abundance of ways to support my desires. I need to understand my needs and satiate them, even if it’s scary or unconventional.
    3. My obstacle is Cultivation, which is strongly linked to music. Music creates communities and it soothes the soul, causing music to be a method for connecting to spirits. I haven’t been listening to music too much…I either listen to podcasts or watch something on Netflix. When I’m not listening to these things, I spend my time in silence…but I suppose it’s a little too isolating right now. Perhaps replacing the silence with my yoga playlists would facilitate some more positive thinking, creativity, and a sense of belonging.
    4. My resource for overcoming my inability to cultivate is Reflection. When I saw this card, I was like “duh, I’m great at reflecting! I reflect and write weekly!” When I read the description of this card though, I was speechless. I’ll just share what it all says.

    “You have reached the point in your life’s journey where self-judgment and criticism no longer serve you. It is imperative that you understand and appreciate the distinctive persona that you bring into all situations. Each of us has our own unique path….Through reflection and visualization, get in touch with the wise person within you.” – Whispers of Lord Ganesha Oracle Cards by Angela Hartfield

    While this card is titled “Reflection,” I feel like it is about more than that…and it really resonated with me.

    5. My new outcome is “Acceptance,” which I’ve pulled multiple times because I’m always fighting with my true self. This relates back to alignment as well. Life will become easier when I accept my true self and when I accept that I don’t have to know everything. The reality that I don’t know anything about my future has been weighing on me because it’s an uncomfortable feeling. I haven’t been enjoying living in the unknown and not having all of the answers right now. My life will improve though when I look at my experiences and the world from a more spiritual perspective as well as by not placing so much value on my thoughts.

    All of these cards address connecting with who I really am…thus, that may be the key to transforming my perspective and my life. It will take some time and patience to realign with my true self via these suggestions from my Ganesha cards. My meditation practice, although not daily (yet), will help me get there too.

    Also…while I feel like I have been stagnant, that isn’t necessarily true. As I’ve mentioned previously, I am now working a part-time job. I am also almost done with the hiring process to teach a regular yoga class in my town. I doubted I was going to be able to teach yoga this year and if I hadn’t nailed the audition, I was going to postpone my teaching dreams…but the universe surprised me. Lastly, after avoiding and debating with myself for several months, I finally booked a GRE test date!

    So…things are moving. I’m progressing, contrary to what I believe.

    If you would like an oracle card reading, please comment below or email me at hello@unziptheselips.com.

    xx Vic

  • Yoga

    Swings and Meditation

    Hello, everyone!

    I made another video, and this time I edited it! This is the first time I have edited a video in about eight years and I think it came out pretty good. I’ve really been enjoying playing with visual media a bit, and I’d like to continue to practice with it so I can improve.

    I hope you enjoy the video and comment your thoughts below!

    xx Vic

  • Yoga

    Kundalini Meditation

    Today I tried something a little different by making a video to update you all on my meditation experience! Let me know in the comments if you enjoyed a video format or if you prefer blog posts.

    Here are some of the links I promised to include in the video:

    My previous meditation post

    My vulnerable blog post

    The Journey Junkie’s Kundalini meditation tutorial

    Do you meditate? What style do you do?

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind

    Who Am I?

    My sister and my girlfriend are going back to school this week, and for the first time in about seventeen years, I am not doing the same.

    Since I am no longer a formal student at an American institution, I’ve been reflecting a lot on who I am.

    Who am I without school?

    I’m still determining how to answer this question, but I started by creating a more detailed “about me” page. It was fun to do and while it’s not comprehensive by any means, I think it was a good place to start.

    Additionally, in the last week or so, I’ve been doing some things that I’ve put off because I was busy in school. For example, I’ve finished two books recently. I’m working on finishing two more before reading or buying a new one.

    The biggest way I’ve attempted to answer my question is by deciding not to rush grad school. It was a little scary to come to this decision because I find school comforting in the sense that I know what goal I have to achieve: to graduate. The means are provided as well such as you have to take classes and study. Without school, my goal is more focused on becoming self-sufficient… I need a job to do that but the types of jobs I can have are innumerable! To me, this goal is quite a bit more overwhelming.

    I want to tackle this goal, thus, I won’t be applying for grad school until next fall at the earliest.

    Delaying grad school would also allow my work experiences and whatever else I experience to influence which grad program I will eventually pursue. I still plan to take the GREs this year but instead of taking them in November, I will take them in December or January.

    In regards to jobs…I’ve had a ton of first interviews but it’s been slow to hear back about second interviews. I’m going to follow up with some places this week to see where I am at as a prospective employee. I will also begin to apply for part-time jobs so I don’t deplete my savings waiting for a full-time job.

    Some part-time job opportunities include teaching yoga. I’ve been postponing looking for yoga jobs in person lately but I’ll have to resume it. I just created a class about creativity because it’s something I’ve been struggling with lately, and I’m super excited to teach it! I have to fine-tune some things still, but it feels good on my body and I think it’d feel good to others too.

    I’ve been struggling with my creativity because I haven’t been using it to its full-extent these days. This is definitely partially attributed to school, which is one reason not being a student will be good for me because unless you allot time for creativity, school really hinders it. I was fortunate to have time to take two creative writing courses last year, but it has been difficult to maintain the drive to be creative because I was thrust from the cocoon of being a student to suddenly being a graduate who needs a job and wants to go to grad school and needs to study and…I was putting way too much on my plate.

    Once I decided to postpone grad school another year, I allowed myself the time to breathe and to allow my creative mind to flow. In fact, I’ve been dreaming a lot at night these days, which I think is a good sign. One thing I need to work on though is disconnecting from the internet before and after bed, because that definitely stifles creativity. Instead I want to reintegrate meditation for at least 10 minutes everyday. My goal is to then create something every three days.

    There are some other things I want to talk about and share, but perhaps that’ll be for a different time.

    xx Vic

  • Mysticism

    Post-Eclipse Manifestation Journal

    Hello, everyone!

    I wanted to take a little time today to reflect and make some goals for the remainder of August, especially since the eclipse and new moon has recently happened. I encourage you all to join me in reflecting and goal-setting too! You can answer the questions I raise on your own, but I’d also love if you share some of them in the comments below.

    How do I want to feel until the next new moon?

    I want to feel content.

    I’ve been complaining a lot since there has been loud construction at my house which has disrupted my daily flow, but I want to learn how to deal with distractions like this. The reality is that life is full of distractions, so that’s where my meditation and yoga practice gets applied to my daily life. Meditation and yoga are tools, and two of the limbs of Yoga, turn into yourself completely to reach Samadhi, or bliss.

    What do I need?

    I need to continue moving toward my goals.

    Those goals include getting a job, teaching yoga, making my room my sanctuary, and completing competitive grad school applications. I was making a lot of progress until the construction started because I have allowed the disruptions to disrupt my inner state of being. Whenever I start working, I will be more tired and I will have less time to work on other goals that I have, thus, I’d like to maintain sufficient energetic movement as much as possible for the next 30 days.

    Intentions to repeat to manifest

    1. I am content where I am at.
    2. All distractions slip away.
    3. I can balance all of the goals that I want to achieve.
    4. I energetically move toward my goals.

    I’m going to repeat these intentions during meditation, which I have completely fallen off of the wagon with. Ideally, I’d like to do it in the morning, when I wake up, but I spend most mornings on social media instead. I will try to replace social media with an intentional meditation instead though!

    What are some of your intentions until the next new moon?

    xx Vic

    This journal post is inspired by Well+Good’s post as well as The Journey Junkie’s post.

  • Mysticism

    I Am Where I Need to Be (An Oracle Card Reading)

    A couple of months ago, when I was at the beginning of my yoga journey, I had asked in the yoga Facebook group I’m part of about tarot cards. I was interested in learning more about them and possibly integrating them into my practice. As someone who is not particularly spiritual, I wanted to learn about different spiritual practices. The members of the group responded that in order to get tarot cards, it is recommended that you go in person and that you purchase the cards that call to you. Well, I don’t frequent spiritual shops, in fact, I’ve never been to one, so I looked on Amazon for a couple of days to see what types of decks are available, but then I forgot about it and moved on…

    Until I was in the back of the cluttered East Meets West with my girlfriend, looking at crystals and books. It was then when I came across an amazing deck of cards that seemingly chose me. The cards honor the Hindu god, Ganesha, who has the body of a man but he has an elephant head.

    Whispers of Lord Ganesha Oracle Cards by Angela Hartfield
    Whispers of Lord Ganesha Oracle Cards by Angela Hartfield

    I was drawn to these particular cards because I had learned about Lord Ganesha in my yoga training. I found the tales about him and how he got his elephant head rather amusing thus, I was very attracted to this deck. I checked on Amazon to see if the cards were cheaper there, which they weren’t. The cards were actually the same price, and out of 103 ratings, it had 5 stars. Then I immediately purchased the deck.

    When I returned home, I eagerly opened the cards up and read the manual (which I believe is rather thorough and well-written). I became more excited about the deck when I read that Ganesha is revered for removing obstacles to allow people to achieve success. He is also a god of cleverness, learning, and intelligence. I did not know this beforehand but it made me feel like I needed this deck because of where I currently am at in my life AKA a recent college graduate who is still figuring out what to do now that I’ve graduated.

    One of the suggested spreads called, Ganesha’s Horseshoe Spread, is precisely about discerning what your next step is and what obstacles are in your way, so I did that one. Interestingly, the cards I pulled were topics I write about on my blog all of the time.

    Whispers of Lord Ganesha Oracle Cards Horseshoe Spread
    Whispers of Lord Ganesha Oracle Cards Horseshoe Spread

    (Underneath is my wooden picture of Baymax from Big Hero 6, so don’t mind that. Aren’t these cards beautiful though?!)

    The first card, which for me is “Positive Outlook,” represents where I am in my life now. While I always struggle with maintaining a positive outlook similarly to everyone else, I believe that I have made great strides in achieving this as a more permanent state of mind. I’ve been working on quieting my negative outlook by meditating and/or using breathing techniques. By changing my outlook on life, I’ve also been inspiring others to change their outlook. A recent example is when my dad was complaining about a meeting he had the next day, and he was already saying it was going to be horrible. I suggested that he change his perspective because if he went in with that mindset, it definitely would be horrible. I didn’t think he would heed my advice at all, but the next day he surprised me and told me he tried what I had said and his meeting actually went well! It was a cool and inspiring moment.

    The second card that I pulled is what my next step or task is, which is “Perseverance.” This resonated with me because my mind has been so focused on my previous “failures,” which makes me want to give up entirely.

    Despite applying to at least thirty jobs this summer, I have not even had an invitation for a phone interview. Why bother applying to jobs then? What’s the point of this yoga teacher training if I’m not part of a local yoga community? Is it just another avenue for interminable failure? Is it just another degree where I still won’t be able to get a job?

    It is important for me to maintain my positive outlook so I can continue to persevere, which would look something like this…

    Okay, so I haven’t had any job interviews yet. SO WHAT? When this training is over, I’ll buckle down and keep applying. I will apply to jobs I actually want to do. I will get a yoga teaching job too. I will go to different yoga studios and try out their classes and find my place somewhere. It is an accomplishment and a blessing to be able to have my Bachelor’s as well as a yoga teaching license. They will provide me with opportunities I will otherwise not have. I will keep going because I have all of these skills and so much knowledge, and it’d be a waste to not share it with others!

    The third card represents an obstacle I have to overcome, which for me is “Nurture.” When I first flipped this card over, I thought that it meant I needed to overcome my family. To me, this could mean that I need to worry less about how they perceive me and that I need to have difficult conversations with them when/if necessary to be visible. When I read the instruction manual’s description of what the card meant though, I realized the card could be referring to an obstacle that is greater than my family. The card represents taking care of yourself before taking care of others and being more resourceful and practical. I feel like this description is applicable to my life as well as how I interpreted the card because I have been rather exhausted lately with the intensive yoga training. While I have had some alone time…it hasn’t been sufficient because when I’m not doing yoga, I want to spend time with my family or with my girlfriend. So…I will work more on nurturing myself which means to prioritize myself, and that can be expressed by overcoming obstacles I encounter with my family.

    The fourth card indicates that my strength and resource for overcoming obstacles and for discerning my next step is “Cultivation.” Without reading the meaning of the card in the manual, I thought that this card was about how I need to focus more on what I want to cultivate in my life than on what I cannot do, which relates to the previous cards I described. The manual gave an interesting description of this card though, which I think is valuable to me as well. The manual describes this card as indicating how music can heal, encourage, and nurture the soul. The manual recommends listening to soothing music to inspire me and to gain more clarity about what I am creating in my life. For anyone who has read my blog and has seen the music I include with poems and stories and/or knows me, my taste in music is not calming. It is the complete opposite. I’m just a sucker for gravel-y voices, screaming, emotional lyrics, and heavy drums, what can I say?

    Regardless, it may be beneficial to integrate calming music into my daily routine. We’ll see what happens!

    The last card tells me what my new focus or outcome is, and mine is “Acceptance.” This kinda surprised me because while this is something that is certainly important to me, considering it is a major theme of my blog and in my life, I thought I had achieved it. But…upon a second reflection, maybe I haven’t.

    I’ve been primarily focused on what I don’t have when comparing myself to everyone else: I don’t have a job opportunity, I don’t have any interviews, I haven’t taken the GRE’s, I don’t have a clue what I want to study for grad school, if I even want to go to grad school…I don’t live on my own, I don’t have a car, I don’t have a clean room. I’m not hanging out with my friends in my spare time and I’m not doing the summer activities I want to do, while everyone else is. I don’t have any answers to questions anyone asks me about my aspirations!

    Or at least I don’t think I do.

    I’ve tried to refrain from social media to reduce the comparison trap, but lately, I’ve been spending my spare time on social media. How does that make sense?? Of course I’d be complaining about what I don’t have and how I don’t have any answers to my life when all I’m doing in my spare time is mindlessly scrolling through what everyone else is doing.

    So, I need to stop. I need to focus on accepting where I am now, and only focus on myself. That’s how I’m going to get to wherever I need to be. Plus, it’ll make me happier overall.

    Even though it may feel bleak when I wonder how I will achieve success, and what that success will even look like, it’s only bleak because I’m not practicing the most yogic lifestyle. I will heed the advice from my card reading as I make these changes.

    I decided that instead of looking at Instagram first thing when I will wake up, I will pull one card and gain some insight into what I should focus on for that day. I will make that card my daily intention. Then, whenever it feels right to do a horseshoe spread again, I will do it and I will write about my experience.

    What obstacles do you feel like you need to overcome to achieve a new outcome? Please let me know in the comments below!

    If you are interested in a card reading, comment below or email me at yoga@unziptheselips.com!

    xx Vic

     

     

     

  • Speaking My Mind

    Faith + Bravery: Taking the First Steps on a New Adventure

    My aunt took me and my sister out to lunch, and as per usual, we had a wonderful conversation.

    She had recently returned from a trip to Memphis with her husband, and they went to several Civil Rights museums. I confessed to her that the things I must do in order to get to the next chapter of my life seem impossible, so she told me this quote she saw in the museum that blew her away:

    “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

    ― Martin Luther King Jr.Let Nobody Turn Us Around: Voices on Resistance, Reform, and Renewal an African American Anthology

    When she shared it with me, I was also floored. This quote is obviously in regards to civil rights, however, it also encapsulates exactly what I need to do that would answer my own questions:

    How do I get a car so I can be independent? How do I get a job but also prepare for the GRE’s and figure out what doctorate program I want to do? How do I make new friends since all of my closest friends are moving away? How do I become a self-sufficient adult even though I’m afraid to do so?

    Between these worries and fears as well as my disastrous room, which seems to reflect my inner turmoil, I have been feeling so overwhelmed that I haven’t done much to move forward at all. Naturally, I’m not going to get to the next chapter if I’m not taking any steps at all…thus, I should trust the Universe more. I should also trust myself more.

    Evidence of the Universe conspiring to support each individual is evident in my own life in the past, as well as in my girlfriend’s life currently. Per Max Ehrmann’s “Desiderata: A Poem for a Way of Life” :

    “You are a child of the universe,
    no less than the trees and the stars;
    you have a right to be here.
    And whether or not it is clear to you,
    no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

    I’ve sited this quote what feels like 10 times now on my blog, yet I always need to be reminded of it. Perhaps I should make it one of my mantras in addition to the Sanskrit mantra, Ananta Swa Bhava, I repeat for my japamala meditation. It means my state of being is infinite and boundless.

    I am infinite and I am a child of the Universe too so…I need to have a little more faith.

    So the first steps I will take until my yoga training starts in a little over two weeks will be to apply for at least one job a day and to finish organizing my room. Instead of watching endless YouTube videos at night, I will read material that will inspire me especially because I have an obscene amount of partially read books on my Kindle. I will also allot one hour each day toward researching doctorate programs that I may be interested in.

    By the time my yoga program rolls around, hopefully, my personal space will be less cluttered and more organized and I will at least have some ideas percolating in my mind in regards to future education plans. Then I can write them down in the new journal my aunt got for me! It’s a beautiful journal and I’ve never had such a nice one before!

    IMG_4438

    I hope you can see the gold detail on it in this photo above!

    IMG_3439 It also has beautiful quotes throughout the book too!

    Anyway…that’s all from me for now. Let me know in the comments if you have any quotes that inspire you!

    xx Vic

  • Yoga

    My 30-Day Mantra Meditation Experience

    Meditation is a buzzword right now, and understandably so because it is a great practice for a variety of reasons. I’m not going to go into depth about the benefits of meditation because, as evident in the title of this post, I’ve only been meditating for more or less, 30 days. Instead of me discussing meditation at length, I’ll just link y’all with some great posts to check out if you want to learn more about it at the end of this post.

    I was inspired to meditate because I’ve been deepening my yoga practice and I am going to train to become a teacher in about three months, and meditation is critical to the yoga practice, especially if I anticipate teaching at some point. So I decided to attempt a 40-day mantra meditation challenge, hosted by the Journey Junkie.

    You are supposed to do 40 consecutive days of meditation to ensure you build a habit of meditation, and for mantra meditation, you have to say the mantra 108 times. People hypothesize that 108 is significant because 1= God or a Higher Power, 0= Emptiness or Completeness, 8= Infinity. 108 is significant for other reasons, but you can read more about that on the Journey Junkie’s post that I linked above.

    In order to ensure that you are repeating your mantra 108 times, it is helpful to have a mala necklace. Mala necklaces have 108 beads, plus the guru bead (which you don’t use for the meditation) and tassel (not all malas have tassels though). When you use the mala to do a mantra meditation, it is called japa mala meditation, because japa means repetition.

  • Speaking My Mind

    Glamping + Spring Break

    While many college seniors are enjoying their last spring break on the beach, I was glamping in my parents’ house. Due to the storm that hit us recently, my parents’ town had no power for about five days. The power is back on, thankfully, so the glamping (glamorous camping) has ended.

    My spring break is coming to an end too since I am returning to my apartment tomorrow to study for an exam I have next Friday. It’s been pretty chill. On Sunday I went to my step-grandma’s, sister’s birthday party. The food was delicious and it was a surprisingly nice time.

    Other than that, my spring break has been low-key. I’ve been primarily doing schoolwork. My thesis is due the Monday after the next, and I’m feeling…not great. I have done some work, which is definitely better than nothing, but I don’t feel like I’ve been productive enough. I’m feeling a bit stressed and the stress is ruining my sleep, so I feel exhausted.

  • Speaking My Mind

    Practicing Mindfulness

    “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” -Mark Twain

    My therapist recommended I try a counseling group that focuses on behaviors and emotions, and I went to my first session last week.  It’s only been a week as I write this, but it’s been insightful thus far.  Our first assignment is to practice mindfulness because it is helpful when it comes to reducing suffering, increasing control of your mind, and experiencing reality as it is.

    Unfortunately, this assignment has gone to the wayside a bit since my dad had to go to the ER last week and spent three nights at the hospital.  That would’ve been a prime time to practice meditating because I was consumed with anxiety and the thoughts I used to have after my cousin passed resurfaced…I was experiencing very intense emotions.  I tried working out in the morning, which did help a little bit but…I didn’t deal with my emotions sufficiently I guess.  It all blew up in my face a couple of hours later when my mom was nagging me to text my aunt.  I erupted and we got into a dramatic fight…and she stormed out of the house.  Then I yelled at my sister until I finally broke down and cried uncontrollably.

    Anyway…I forgot about this assignment but I will work on it every day going forward because practicing mindfulness would help regulate my mood swings.

    I have practiced yoga twice in the last two weeks, which is a method for practicing mindfulness though.  I watched the Yoga with Adrienne videos that my good friend, Lana, recommended on her site.  I think I would rather learn the moves enough to do it on my own but for now, watching the videos and following along has been a little helpful.

    Thankfully, my dad is doing pretty well and he’s home from the hospital, so my anxiety surrounding medical issues and death has decreased.  Instead, I’ve been having a lot of anxiety about my future.  I think as far ahead as a year from now, which is ridiculous because then I miss out on enjoying the present moment.

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