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Helm of the Heart

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Category Archives: Philosophy

introvertWhen I was in middle school, I was introduced to the concepts of introverts and extroverts. From my understanding at the time, I was definitely an extrovert. I love conversation, performing and being silly, and I have always had widely varied group of friends. In my mind, extrovert made sense, so I assumed that I was Amanda Panda: extroverted Sagittarius, born in 1986, year of the Fire-Tiger. Boom.

Last week Aimee had me take the Briggs-Meyers personality test. Since I have an obsessive sense of “self-exploration”, I was happy to take it. I really tried to be as objectively honest as possible, answering questions with my authentic, most recurrent tendencies (rather than what I’d like to think is true about myself or I feel should be true). I’d love to say that those are one and the same, they are ever-so slightly different.

The Meyer-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) was originally created by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Meyer. It is a psychometric questionnaire based on the works of Carl Jung. The test contains four main categories or functions that each have a spectrum, resulting in 16 main personality types.

  • Introversion -Extroversion
  • Sensing – Intuition
  • Thinking- Feeling
  • Judging-Perceiving

It doesn’t mean that you are one or the other, most people exist somewhere in the middle but have a tendency towards one end of the spectrum. Each person contains all functions, but this test is supposed to identify our individual “functional stack”, meaning what traits are extroverted (presented to the outside world) versus introverted (directed inwardly). Each of us has a combination of both introverted and extroverted traits, but in a different order of strength, as well as direction. Here’s a helpful website with tons of information about this:

I’ll break mine down a little further, but unless you are Aimee, (who got the same result-INFJ), your profile would be quite different, even if just one letter is off.

Amanda- INFJ (Introverted-iNtuition-Feeling-Judging)

1. Dominant- Introverted Intuition (Ni) First mode of functioning is internal. Much is subconscious, often through visual imagery and symbols. Ni notices broad patterns and trends and is able to synthesize them.
2. Auxiliary- Extroverted Feeling (Fe) This is the reason that I might be seen as an extrovert. The fact that I extrovert feeling, even in my auxiliary function, means that I am sensitive to the feelings of others, surveying for ways to improve interpersonal interactions and morale. Fe is what helps a person to read body language and nonverbal cues. It is interesting that because since feeling is extroverted (rather than introverted), combined with my introverted intuition, I am usually a sponge for other people’s emotions, but not always completely aware of my own feelings about things. This is a perfect example of how Fe (extroverted feeling) and Fi (introverted feeling) are very different.
3. Tertiary- Introverted Thinking (Ti) This tertiary function works with Fe to refine judgments, fact check, weigh logically, and on the flip-side: create self-doubts. As I am an INFJ, the J stands for “judging” although it has nothing to do with being judgmental. Based on the test you either prefer to extrovert your judging function (thinking or feeling), like me (that would be my extroverted feeling Fe), or your perceiving function (either intuition or sensing). If I were more drawn towards perceiving, I would be an INFP and then I would extrovert my perceiving function, which in that case would be intuition, Ne (extroverted intuition). Sounds confusing, but the website I gave you about has a really in-depth explanation if you want to take the test.
4. Inferior-Extroverted Sensing (Se) This is my inferior function, meaning the one that I have to work to develop. This was fascinating to me, because this extroverted sensing is the cause of much strife in my life. I am both very aware of beauty and material comforts, as I extravert this sensing, but this often clashes with my ideological/intuitive understandings. Also, because my sensing is not introverted, I am often out of touch with my body. Yoga is definitely a helpful way for me to deepen my connection to my body.

You can take the test using the link below, if you’d like. Afterwards you should tell me what you are and whether you find the description to be accurate 🙂

I wanted to share something that I thought was very helpful and fascinating in understanding my own processing, and it was also kind of liberating to see myself as more of an introvert. It’s funny, but both my mother and my husband have made comments that made me to realize that I’ve always had an introverted tendency. My mom mentioned to me that even as a child I’ve always need time by myself, and that I usually need to “recharge” my batteries after a lot of socializing, usually just by being by myself and reading a book.

My husband completely embraced my “introvert designation” (apparently I’m in my head a lot) and it was really neat to compare our results to one another- he is an ENFP and his functional stack is literally the mirror image of mine. I am Ni-Fe-Ti-Se and he is Ne-Fi-Te-Si (basically we favor the same functional ordering but where he extroverts, I introvert and vice versa).

Have fun 🙂 Here’s a neat little chart with a brief description of each type. There are tons of websites for each personality type, let me know if you want recommendations.





Holi, the festival of colors, is a celebration of winter’s end and the arrival of spring. There are many myths surrounding this tradition; stories of good conquering evil, as well as tales of Krishna mischievously applying color to his beloved Radha’s face, embodying the lively, carefree nature of this tradition.


What I love most is that Holi transcends age, ethnicity, class, and all superficial boundaries. People come together for live music, yoga and food, partaking in merriment and reverie.








Happy spring! Happy St. Patrick’s day, too 🙂



I recently went to see a chiropractor who specializes in natural medicine, specifically through “Applied Kinesiology”, muscle testing and dietary evaluation, also taking into account lab results and medical history. A number of people I trust and love have experienced significant results by working with this person, and although it isn’t covered by my ridiculously expensive insurance, it was fairly affordable (150$ for the inital consultation, dropping down to 125$ for the second visit, and reducing even more on subsequent visits, plus the cost of supplements).

Dr. Lennox is located in Encinitas, CA. Just having an excuse to go to Encinitas was a huge draw for me, I absolutely love that area and would love to live there. Here is his website:

Anyway, I have only had one session, but what I love most about my experience was the feeling of being treated as a complex human being; what I have heard referred to as a “mind/body/spirit complex”. I do not mean to insult or discredit doctors, nurses, etc., since I pay a small fortune every month for medical insurance, I am obviously someone who buys into that system and sees its value. However, there is a tendency for our Western Medicine to splice our symptoms into discrete “problems”, often solved with unnecessary medications or surgeries. Although there is surely a time and a place for these things, there is a need to view ourselves as a complex system with many overlapping and interlocking aspects that are apparent in our minds, bodies, and spirits.

I went through a long list of questions (on the website you can download all of the forms if you want to know exactly what types of questions) that ranged from my medical history, to my aches, pains, discomforts, dietary habits, allergies, sleeping habits, the list goes on and on.

While I consider myself to be in pretty good health, and yoga has healed my body in a number of ways, there are still discomforts that I continuously experience. Mostly, I want to deepen my own connection and communication with my mind/body/spirit.

After talking for a while in a very open manner, the muscle-testing began. I’m not really sure what to say about this, because it is so hard to explain in a way that doesn’t sound absurd. Dr. Lennox was incredibly professional and explained everything that he was doing. Basically, certain muscles are connected to different organs. Your ability to control those muscles and “resist” against pressure is an indication of the health in that organ or system.

I realize that I am giving a broad but shallow description here, but if you want to know more, I think you should explore and ask questions. All I know is that after this experience, I am starting to see connections that I was not aware of previously.

I am going back to have lab tests done to hone in more specifically, but I’ve discovered that a variety of internal factors (genetics) combined with external factors (what I eat, put on my skin, my environment) are all exacerbating what is most likely a singular root cause. More on that later.

It was so refreshing to approach my health in a collaborative, cooperative manner that focused on simple solutions for larger problems. These different aspects of ourselves: mind, body, spirit, all have such important functions, and none of them should be ignored or trivialized.

Most importantly, you must heal your totality through shared love, joy, compassion, and general silliness 😛




It has been far too long since I came here to reflect and record my thoughts. Part of it might be due to my new job working at an online charter school, typing and staring at a computer screen all day. But mostly, I think I have been in the throes of abundant change.

Leaving Northern California and my former school behind was difficult, but my nomadic lifestyle has hindered my ability to take root and marinate on the changes taking place both internally and externally.

There are many aspects of living in Southern California that are wonderful. I get to see my family and friends more frequently, and Mexican food now makes up approximately 30% of my diet.

There is definitely a different “overall vibe”, however. I’m not sure if it’s all the lifted trucks, orange skin and plastic bodies, because these features exist in Northern California, although seemingly to a lesser degree.

I don’t know know if it’s the fact that all the groupons and livingsocial deals in my inbox used to feature museums, yoga studios, and exotic foods, whereas now I receive constant deals for Botox and eyelash extensions.

I really can’t put into words why two parts of the same state seem so different. What I’ve come to realize is that it really doesn’t matter.

Having true “peace of mind” means that you are unswayed by your external stimulus.

I certainly wouldn’t claim that I have achieved this. I’m not sure if it is something to be achieved. It’s more of a practice, like yoga. Something that you constantly work towards, bringing your everyday awareness into harmony with your inner truth.

Since moving down here, I have been practicing at CorePower Yoga. Many people critique CorePower for being “too Western” or “gym yoga”. In essence, I think that many yogis see the chain of studios and the franchise-esque feel and they are turned off. I initially chose these studios because they are all over Orange County and San Diego, and since I am moving around a lot, it’s nice to have that flexibility.

While I loved my studios in San Jose (Just Breathe Yoga & Downtown Yoga Shala) and I credit these studios and their teachers for nurturing my own path as a yogi, I have also found solace in creating my own personal tranquilly, without my beloved community.

I aim to examine the seemingly difficult or frustrating aspects of my life as “catalyst for growth” rather than dwelling on what isn’t the way I think it should be. Throughout this transition, yoga has been one of my constants, and while it may not be in a studio adorned with the works of local artists and we don’t chant, and no one has had me scream with every ounce of my lung capacity before savasana (that was awesome, Noell!), I still crave the time I have on my mat to forget everything and just absorb.

We refer to yoga as a “practice”, but most important things in life should be viewed that way. By letting go of the images and constructs of what we think we should be, and acknowledging our progressions and regressions, we can actually accomplish more.



Most yogis have a pose or two that they avoid like the plague. For me, that pose is called “Hanumanasana”, also known as “monkey pose” or the splits.

Even as a child in gymnastics and dance, this was extremely challenging for me, and I never mastered the splits in any way, shape, or form. When I began practicing yoga regularly, I was saddened to see this pose as a part of my practice because it always meant that I would have to hold myself up high on my hands or use bolsters/blocks to even hold the shape remotely.

Often I would become so frustrated that I would resign myself to a half hanuman, sitting on my back thigh. I told myself that my body just doesn’t bend that way. Every body is unique and we all have our own strengths and limitations. Honoring these limitations is beneficial, but creating a mental block can be a trap.

Lord Hanuman has an interesting story, which you can read about here:

Symbolically, Hanuman represents a pure devotion, a complete surrender to a higher power. His ego is completely absent and he demonstrates what is possible when we completely let go of our attachments and expectations.

Hanumanasana embodies Hanuman’s great leap from the southern tip of India to Sri Lanka to save Lord Rama’s beloved wife Sita. Hanuman represents the magnificent feats that we are able to master when we let go of the fear and the uncertainty in our “monkey mind” (the lower, turbulent forces that keep our minds from calmness and peace) and surrender ourselves to something higher.

Today in yoga, the teacher guided us into Hanuman, and I was instantly filled with dread. I decided that instead of feeling frustrated, I should just do my best and hope that an ounce of progress might be made. On the first side, things were still pretty shaky, but when I switched to my second side, I was amazed to see my hips sink down further into the pose than I have ever been in my life! It wasn’t perfect, and I still had a few inches from being flat in the ground, but it was a huge milestone for me! It made me rethink the stories that I have built up around my body. The things people have told me about myself, as well as the expectations I have created on my own. Realizing that these are all just stories that rattle around in my mind and that they have very little relevance is incredibly liberating.

We all have stories that we carry with us, and usually for a reason. In my quest to embody a guru mentality, I have been trying to judge myself less. Being able to get deeper into a yoga pose is not an end result. The greater flexibility and space in my body is a direct reflection of the space in my mind that is clearing and making way for new possibilities.



Daniel and I are currently house sitting in San Jose. I’m going to yoga school, he’s digging through our storage unit, gardening, and taking care of Daisy (she’s such a sweetheart). We’ve been indulging in television since we don’t usually have it, so basically we’re watching The Food Network, Animal Planet, and Antiques Roadshow. Go figure.

Miss Daisy

We were watching The Colbert Report the other night, although I think it was an old one, and there was this guy that came on and spoke about a documentary film that he made in which he posed as a guru named Kumaré.

Kumaré basically believes the same same thing that the actor/film maker believes: that every individual has the power to be his or her own guru (guru is sanskrit for teacher or master). Although there were a lot of mixed reactions to his little experiment, a lot of Kumarés followers were empowered by the message that he delivered, which is that each of us has the powers within in us to heal ourselves and become our own masters.We don’t really need to follow “gurus” or other religious leaders in order to gain the type of fulfillment that we seek.

This doesn’t mean that our teachers aren’t vital; we all have room to grow and we can all serve as teachers for one another in some manner. I think that it is important to understand that we all have the ability to lead the type of life we want.

This got me to thinking about how differently I would live my life if I had people following and emulating my every move. I guess having children is similar in some ways, although children rarely follow every action of their parent. But in a scenario where a person is responsible for truly leading and living by example… well that would probably change some of my behaviors.

So I’m challenging myself. I’m going to start with one week where I am going to try to live my life as if I needed to be a constant example for others. If what I am doing is not something I would encourage others to do, then why would I do it myself? The main areas I think will be impacted by this are my eating habits and the way that I nurture my mind and body. Who knows though? I’m sure there are plenty other aspects of my life that could be influenced with this kind of challenge. I’m not claiming that I will be living in some perfect, enlightened state for the next week, but I hope to gain some perspective on the idea that we are each our own guru. That each of us can be a positive reflection for the beings around us.

I’ll keep you updated on my guru experiment, and I encourage anyone reading to try the same- even for just a day. Let me know how it goes!

♥ /☼


Creativity is simultaneously exalted and undervalued in our culture. We have produced some amazing artists and invented groundbreaking technology. In our current state, art and music are all but absent in schools and the majority of musicians that are successful in our country (and others) have been manufactured by producers that write the music and create “images” for our culture to worship, rather than paying attention to what is going on around us.

Don’t even get me started on the media and Hollywood.

I don’t mean to get on some high horse and proclaim that all pop music is terrible or something, because I certainly enjoy modern artists. I could go on forever about the deterioration of creativity via our education system, and about how we are now just taught to be unhealthy consumers, only focused on acquiring MORE, but I’ll save that for anyone that wants direct engagement on the subject. If you are reading this, chances are I’m probably preaching to the choir.

Anyway, I saw this Einstein quote the other day and it made me think about how vital creativity is to my life. I have never considered myself to be an artist. I’ve always loved to draw, but I’m not particularly good at it. I’ve always loved music, but I don’t play any instruments or sing. I’ve always loved acting, dancing, and theater in general, but for some reason it never seemed like the path to follow.

Daniel is someone that I would consider to be an artist, through and through. He draws beautifully, in my opinion:

If you’d like to see more of his art, go here:

He taught himself to play the guitar, and seems to figure out any instrument he picks up to some degree. He is also an incredibly talented photographer, cook, and interior designer. He has a gift for making something out of nothing.

What I appreciate about him the most is that he has always thought for himself. He broke away from the religion he was raised in at a very early age because he was disgusted that women didn’t have the same rights as men, and that there were obviously racists components within the religion. He still got up early to go with his family to services, but he would wander around outside because he felt a much stronger spiritual connection to nature, rather than the inside of a building. I commend his parents for allowing him that freedom.

The term artist is interesting because it means so many different things to so many different people. I would define an artist as a person with a very specific view of life, a person that is usually quite sensitive and observant of the world around them.

Daniel insists that I am a creative person because I celebrate the beauty around me and I think in a creative way. It is hard to define myself as an artist, but perhaps some day I will learn to play an instrument (I’d love to learn the harp or the violin) or maybe I’ll take some painting classes. Either way, I figure artists need other creative types to appreciate what they do.

Creativity is indeed a manifestation of intelligence, or “intelligent at play”, and I think it is vital for any healthy individual or society because it stimulates evolution and new ways of thinking. In order to solve the problems of our world, we need to develop new ways of thinking and being.

I get so tired of the political discussions because I feel so disillusioned with it all. I see our system as a dysfunctional giant that distracts us with semantics and ridiculous policies that are designed to fail. We need our artists now more than ever. We need people to reflect on the world, people with perspectives that are different than the status quo.

♥ /☼