Journal Entry #15-Teaching My First Sequence

Katie Willden


Journal Entry #15


Teaching my first sequence


            Well, I did it.  I taught my first sequence tonight.  I was completely nervous and vulnerable.  I have been thinking about this night since the beginning of the semester, but I didn’t think I would still be so nervous about finally teaching in front of my peers.

            I went into class tonight feeling okay, but nervous and I definitely had a front put on so I didn’t seem too nervous.  Luckily, though, I was the first one in the group, so I at least got to get it out of the way.  I started with some sun salutations and went through them pretty effortlessly.  We finished the sun salutations with setting the intention for the class and a meditation.  In this mediation I wanted to set the intention for being authentic and for being grateful for my authenticity.  I was very vulnerable at this point and I really allowed myself to reveal some things I didn’t intend to reveal, but it worked for what I was working for.

            We moved into some more powerful poses and I decided to end in a few restorative poses.  I liked my sequence and felt that it wasn’t too much of a cool down, even though it was somewhat restorative at the end.

            After I read some of the comments from my classmates, I felt that my intention was understood and felt and that people were receptive to it.  Even though the comments in the areas that I could improve were constructive and only meant to help me to be a better teacher, I still felt a twinge of sadness and self-confidence drop after reading them.  I know that the more I practice the better I’ll become, so I’m just trying to focus on growth and on walking like thunder through my training and know that I can do this.

Journal Entry #14-Giving Thanks

Katie Willden


Journal Entry #14


Giving Thanks


            Today, as I was practicing my sequence to instruct to my Yoga I classmates, I found that my original intention for the practice no longer felt appropriate for what I have been feeling and reflecting on from this past semester.  I initially felt the need to do an empowerment sequence, but I now feel that giving thanks is much more appropriate.

            This last semester has been one of strength and growth and no doubt empowerment.  But I am feeling so much gratitude for this experience.  I feel so much gratitude for my ability to change my life through yoga.  I feel so much gratitude for my authenticity. 

            If there’s anything I want to get across to people is the pure power of being authentic.  I am by no means where I want to be in my life, but I am learning more and more to be less apologetic for being who I am.  It became a habit of trying to please others, and I stopped knowing who I really am.  My identity became so wrapped up in others that it made my already bad depression worse. 

            I have let the fear of being vulnerable stop me from really trying to peel the layers back to find out who I really am.  But, with each layer I peel, my authenticity becomes more apparent and I feel better and better with who I am.  I feel much more empowered to make decisions for myself without questioning my decision incessantly.  I am feeling less and less vulnerable to let people know who I really am. 

            I am a mother of five kids in a crazy, loud blended family.  I’m a self proclaimed hip hop head and I especially love “gangsta” rap and 2 Chainz is my celebrity crush.  I am a Pisces and feel very connected to my sign.  I’m sensitive, emotional and very introspective yet I love to party and go crazy every now and then. Being pregnant and having a newborn are my absolute favorite times in my life and I secretly hope that my husband will let us have another baby someday.  I want to heal as many people as I can and I feel very strongly that yoga is the best place for me to start because I have been able to start healing myself.

            I am so grateful for so many things in my life, but mostly I’m thankful for the work I’ve been doing on being more authentic.  It has transcended all areas of my life and I a can truly say that I am happy again.

Journal Entry #13- Walk Like Thunder

Katie Willden


Journal Entry #13


Walk Like Thunder


            My last journal entry was on tattoos in general.  I have one tattoo, my most recent tattoo, that says “Walk Like Thunder”.  I got this tattoo within the first couple of weeks in the semester.  I had been feeling such a huge struggle after starting school and had been feeling completely out of place with what I was doing.  I have been feeling a sense of fear with becoming a teacher and actually fulfilling my dreams of healing.  I knew I wanted to do this, but I was just so scared. 

            I have a good friend that I worked with last year and she was in the teacher training program.  She and I bonded over yoga and the more she talked about her education, the more I wanted to go into the training myself.  I loved the idea of being able to educate myself in a way that I knew would be instantly beneficial to my life.  But, as I tend to do to myself, I questioned my abilities and I thought I didn’t fit the mold of what a yoga teacher should look like or be.  But, Megan persisted and she kept telling me how awesome the program was, and how great I’d be at teaching, and how much I would gain from it even if I never ended up teaching.  She sent me this quote:  “Most of our obstacles would melt away if, instead of cowering before them, we should make up our minds to walk boldly through them.”  That quote hit me so hard because I realized that I was allowing my fear to hold me back.

            The following weekend I was out on a run and I was thinking about the quote and was thinking about how scared I was to be getting into this program.  I realized how much I was letting the fear affect me and how I wanted to reverse this trend.  Tattoos are such a huge part of my story and a huge reminder for me, so it only seemed fitting to find a way to make the thought of boldly walking through my fears into a tattoo that would help me remember to keep working through these fears.  As I was running, a vision hit me so hard.  I was listening to my hip hop, hardcore running music, but suddenly, a completely different song came to my mind:  Walk Like Thunder by Kimya Dawson.

 The song is long and slow and story filed and it’s completely beautiful and true with what I was feeling.  That was it!  Walk Like Thunder would be my tattoo.  And so it was, tattoo’d on my inner forearm, with a lotus to remind me that from the muck and the mud comes beauty.

Journal Entry #12-Tattoos

Katie Willden


Journal Entry #12





            Tattoos have become very commonplace in our society.  It is becoming more uncommon to not have tattoos.  I love tattoos.  For me, tattoos are a piece of a story; a piece of art.  Something I will take care of and love and mean more than just a picture inked on my body. 

            Each of my tattoos has a story.  No matter how small the tattoo (coffee beans on my wrist), it has a story and a meaning.  The coffee beans tattoo is one that I actually share with my ex-husband.  He and I used to go to coffee with his brother and his brother’s wife weekly and it was a great time for us to reconnect as friends and as couples.  When his brother and his family moved away to Washington, we knew we needed to commemorate our relationship.  The best scenario was definitely a tattoo.  Nothing fit our group as well as a tattoo and coffee beans were just obscure enough to work for us.  Even though I look at that tattoo and I seem to think about my ex, I still have great memories flood back to me about those times.  I feel that I get to honor that time in my life and I can remember what I learned as well.  I reflect back on that time and I remember that I was happy there, but I’m happy somewhere else and I appreciate both.

            My other tattoos that mean so much to me are my lotus flowers on the tops of my feet.  I got those tattoos as a way to remind myself that I am strong and that I could handle the physical pain of giving birth naturally.  I knew that I wanted to have a natural birth, but I questioned my physical ability to do it.  I knew that the tops of the feet was one of the most painful places I could get tattoo’d, so naturally I went for that option!  It was so painful, but I love those tattoos so much!  They represent my style, my strength, my purpose in life.

            I love tattoos and respect them so much, regardless of the reason behind them.  I appreciate them and love them even if it’s a drunken night and a dare.  I love and respect them if they were thought out and planned and was done by a famous artist.  Tattoos mean a lot to me, because they mean a lot to the people that have them.  I am so grateful that they are becoming more commonplace because it shows that we are becoming more open minded and we understand each others differences better.

Journal Entry #11-Compulsion & Delayed Gratification

Katie Willden


Journal Entry #11


Compulsion & Delayed Gratification


            As humans we all seem to have our own compulsions.  Desires to do certain things that make us feel centered or whole, or just good, and they can be completely different than the next person’s compulsions.  The question for me is:  Is compulsion different from Addiction?  I’m not sure.  I can’t really say that I have any other compulsion other than the fact that I LOVE to have a few glasses of wine each night.  But, at the same time, if I run out of wine, I make a special effort to be sure to have it and that I don’t go too long without it.  Often times I find myself saying that I am going to have a wine free week, but I can’t ever get past the first night or two.  Is that compulsion or addiction?

            The other side of compulsion and addiction is the thought of delayed gratification.  I have a couple of friends that seem to have this theory down.  They do a fall and spring lent.  It is not associated with any religion; they just practice giving something up that they know is not good for them.  Now, they are pretty amazing in general and don’t seem to have any compulsions or addictions, so they have to get creative with what they give up.  Erin gave up driving for a month.  James gave up pizza.  They seem to know how to deal with delayed gratification.  They use the time to give things up as a time of reflection and a time to re-appreciate what they have.  They know that they will have what they gave up again.  I don’t seem to have the same ability.  I definitely have a hard time with delayed gratification.  I know logically that I will be better off for giving my body a rest form my compulsions/addictions, but my emotions and feelings are so much stronger than my mind and my logic. 

            I know that I will benefit from cutting down on my wine compulsion/addiction and I know that it does not serve me fully and that it is holding me back from certain things.  It keeps weight on my body and keeps me unhealthy.  I know this, so I will continue to work on the strength that my mind has to overcome my compulsions/addictions.

Journal Entry #10-Courage and Trust

Katie Willden


Journal Entry #10


Courage & Trust


            The question is:  In what do you trust?  As a baby, all we can do is trust our parents and the adults that give us care.  They are the ones that brought us into the world and they take care of our core basic needs for survival.  As we get a little older, we learn that there are others that we can also trust to take care of us, grandparents, teachers, friends and family members.  Then we get later into childhood and we start to have experiences that start to make our trust shake a little.  We learn that people are fallible and they make mistakes and our trust in that person is shaken.  But, we still have open hearts and still want to trust, so we keep trying to trust.  As adults, however, we have had a journal full of experiences that have shaken our trust in many things and we don’t trust as easily.  So, in the end, we decide that all we can trust is ourselves.

            It takes real courage to choose to trust again.  It also takes great practice.  When I was left by my ex-husband, I didn’t know if I could ever trust again.  My closest friend, my partner in life, the father of my children, had chosen to leave me because he “didn’t know if he could be married anymore”.  In my deepest despair I thought I would never trust again.  If the one person I loved more than anything could do this to me, I would never want to leave myself so vulnerable again.

            But, life happens and people come around that restore your faith and trust little by little.  At least that’s what happened for me.  As I started to see that I could possibly start trusting again, I met Mike.  He showed me that it’s worth being courageous and trying to trust again.  He had been through his own trust shaking experiences and we both chose to be courageous and trust in each other.  We both trust each other with our hurt hearts and we both trust that we’ll be better for allowing ourselves to trust again.

            If we allow negative experiences to scar us for life and we choose not to trust again, we become hardened.  I believe that trust is an integral part in living an authentic and compassionate life.  Trust and courage go hand in hand because it is courageous to trust, especially when trust has been shaken.

Journal Entry #9-Being Centered

Katie Willden


Journal Entry #9


Being Centered


            The most centered I’ve ever felt has been at the verge of giving birth.  There is a certain amount of awareness that comes to your body and mind right before the baby comes.  It’s a beautiful synchronicity of a mind body connection that I haven’t truly been able to experience except for when I give birth.

            To actively be able to practice getting to that place or as closely as possible, asana is the best place to start.  I think that is why I love yoga so much.  I love being able to put myself in positions that are difficult and require great concentration, and focus on my mind and its ability to overcome the pain.  Having an hour of a warming practice and then ending in some really deep restorative poses with a long mediation and savasana is the closest way I’ve been able to get as centered as when I am about to give birth.  

            I would love to be able to bring myself to this centered place outside of giving birth.  It has taken a lot of practice in meditation to try to recreate the thought patterns that brought me to that centered place.  But, with this practice I’ve been able to get better and better at sitting for longer periods of time in mediation and I’ve been able to find a centered place in my mind more easily because of this practice.

Journal Entry #8- Live Now

Katie Willden


Journal #8


Live Now


            The only day that we can truly have any control over is today.  There is no point in looking to the future except to set goals and there is no point in looking to the past except to learn from it.  So many people in our society get so caught up in holding grudges from the past and not fully moving on.  Constantly looking to the past keeps us from truly moving forward in our lives.  I see this so often, but it is in front of my face constantly because of my little brother and his struggles.  He has suffered from major depression in his life and the common thing I noticed about his thinking cycles was that he always got hung up on something in his past.

            I have struggled with depression in my life as well and still struggle with it.  It has been a constant thought in my head and it wasn’t until the last year or so that I got really committed to getting through my depression.  In getting serious, I had to look at the way I think and really decide which methods were not serving me in my mental health.  I noticed that there is a common denominator in the way I think and the way my little brother thinks.  We have a habit of looking in the past rather than just living now.

            Once I made this realization, I have been trying really hard to correct the thought pattern.  It is difficult because I have to be aware of myself at all times.  I have to remember to not think that way.  It has been getting easier as time has passed, though, and I’m dealing with my depression much more effectively than I ever did before. 

            One of the hardest things in life is to not get hung up on what happened in the past or what could happen in the future.  When I find myself in a depressed state, I just need to remind myself to just live now.  The past has already happened and there’s nothing I can do to change anything from it expect for learn from it and move on.  The future has yet to happen and there’s no reason to stress myself out about it unnecessarily.  Life can be so overwhelming for me and I really have to be conscious of my thinking so I can always live now and keep my depression at bay.

Journal Entry #7-Awareness

Katie Willden


Journal Entry #7




            I tell my kids to be aware all the time.  Be aware of your surroundings.  Be aware of what your little brother is doing.  Be aware of your time.  But, what does being aware really mean?  Awareness means being aware of something, acknowledging something, paying attention to something.  In terms or relating awareness to mindfulness, being aware or mindful is acknowledging your true self.  When a lot of our truths remained buried in the subconscious, awareness becomes learning about where the buried truths lie and how to overcome them.

            I have been practicing bringing up my subconscious programming for years.  It hasn’t been an active practice, but I have been trying to recognize what could be subconscious programming as issues come up.  For example, I find myself comparing myself to others quite often and I have noticed that these comparisons make me feel worse about myself than I need.  I don’t need to have the same things as someone else in order to feel good about myself, but the subconscious programming of appearing a certain way always comes up when I’m with certain people. 

            Subconscious programming holds me back from achieving what I want in life because of major part of my programming comes from a place of shame and worthlessness.  I know that this comes from a very traumatic experience that I had as a very young child, but it affects what I do every day.  This programming makes me question myself on pretty much every decision I make.  Subsequently, I have been holding myself back from my true self for pretty much my whole life.  I have been stuck in the place of uncertainty and true mindfulness because of my fear of actually being aware.  Being aware will bring true clarity, and for someone that worries about shame and worthiness, clarity can be too much to see.

            This subconscious programming has affected my true actions and beliefs for many years, contributing to my lack of awareness.  I am trying to reprogram these deep seeded beliefs so that my true self can come through and I can be truly aware.

Journal Entry #6-Reunions

Katie Willden


Journal Entry #6




            Reunions have a funny way of really messing with your mind.  When I speak of reunions I’m not referring to high school reunions or family reunions, although both of those reunions can mess with your head big time.  Today I had a little reunion of some friends/acquaintances to see a mutual friend that was in town for Thanksgiving.  We have all known each other for years, although the majority of them were friends from high school.  I left that three hour coffee date feeling like the scum of the earth.  Why is it messing with my head so badly?

            As I reflect upon my experience, I’m trying to figure out what I’m projecting onto the situation and what bugged me so bad about it.  A lot of what I fall back into after these experiences is the “keeping up with the Jones’” mentality.  Because of the way I was raised, appearance is a big part of my parent’s life, specifically my dad.  My dad wanted to appear that we were successful, even though the majority of my life was spent with money being a concern.  Even though envy is something that we shouldn’t have, being raised with the concern of appearance, I have always found myself feeling envious of others.  I have always compared myself to others and felt that I was less than others and that I didn’t measure up.  I think this way of thinking comes rushing back to me when I reunite with these friends.  I see them wearing cuter clothes than me, they are thinner than me, their husband’s are more successful than mine, they don’t have to worry about money as much as I do.  I walk away just feeling like crap.

            I don’t know why being surrounded by women of the same age as me makes me feel so insecure.  I can go into a new job and become friends with women of all different ages, I feel confident in who I am and I don’t feel the need to prove myself to them.  But, when I get around those women, I can’t do anything but compare myself to them.

            Ultimately I know that I need to not compare myself to them and remember that each of us have our own issues that we’re all working through.  I need to work through my own hang ups with feeling that I have to be a certain way to be accepted.