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Helm of the Heart

We are the ones we've been waiting for

Category Archives: Rambling

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.




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.

♥ /☼


There is something innately comforting about being around family and friends that have know you for decades.

My mother’s home is definitely a safe-haven for me. It’s always clean, comfortable, and there is usually a baked good of some sort that has been freshly made. I came back to my mom’s after taking an intense, heated yoga class at Core Power, and was greeted by a tray of freshly baked brownies. Hot yoga + brownies = balance. Right? Right!

It has been a long time since I took at heated class, which I find to be both magical and exhausting. Magical because my muscles become so warm and flexible that I find poses like “Bird of Paradise” to be so much more accessible. There’s nothing quite like the post yoga “glow”, and when you take a heated power class you end up completely drenched in your own sweat. But when you leave the studio, the outside 86 degree weather feels positively frigid! And the shower after is the best thing in world.

I’m going to take my first PiYo class this evening with one of my dearest friends Rachelle, who described PiYo as “yoga on crack”. Should be fun!

♥ /☼


It’s been awhile since I spent some time reflecting here on pandasana, and it feels great to be back. The past month or so has been ripe with changes of all types.

I recently wrote about the “Cycle of Dissolution” and about how I felt as though I was in the Kali or destructive/rebirth phase, and because of this, I have begun a creation phase that’s a pretty radical departure from my previous life in San Jose.

I really only moved a few hundred miles down the coast of California, but moving is always an adjustment. We took our belated honeymoon in France from June 26-July 10th and it was an amazing experience that really helped put some things into perspective.

Before we left for our trip, we had every intention of returning to San Jose, finding a new apartment (our lease was up at our previous place in downtown San Jose and since they have raised our rent over 400$ in the past three years, we figured it was time to move. We had all of our stuff in storage and we planned to find a new place upon our return.

Daniel’s parents have been generous enough to offer us a place to stay in Dana Point while we find new jobs and look for a new place to live, and Daniel and I both felt like it was a good step for us, for a variety of reasons.

I will miss Northern California very much, but since I am still going back pretty regularly until September when I finish yoga school, I have a little time to soak it all up and say goodbye. Mostly, I’m going to miss the school I taught at for four years and the amazing friendships I’ve made. That part hasn’t really hit me yet, but I’m sure it will soon.

Anyway, I’m happy to be visiting my mom right now, smelling the amazing aroma of her cooking and having a few minutes to write and reflect on all that is changing. Being close to family and old friends is definitely making the transition comfortable.

It is interesting that I seem to have a four year cycle of transitions that take place in my life: four years of high school in San Diego, four years of college in Irvine, four years of teaching in San Jose. Each stage has had highs and lows, but I am able to observe some pretty significant differences in who I’ve become through each stage.

I am excited for creation. Building something new is always a little scary, but I know that I am always evolving into something better, stronger, and hopefully wiser.

Regardless of where I am, I’ll be yoga-ing 😉

At the airport in Toronto

In Père Lachaise

More later, I promise. In the meantime…. lots of  ♥/☼


Recently Daniel and I have been working for a restaurant/catering company. Well, Daniel worked 25 hours in two days this weekend while I was at yoga school. He’s been using his 10 years of fine dining/restaurant/serving/bar-tending/business experience to basically manage a lot of things for them, things that I know nothing about. I’m helping out where I can.

Anyway, the other day Daniel mentioned to me that there is a little vegetable garden growing in the back of the restaurant. There are artichokes, peppers, chives, carrots, herbs, and other things that could easily be used in the restaurant in the food or as garnishes. I thought that is was such a lovely idea- actually GROWING food at a place where food is sold! Such a seemingly obvious connection, but it is rarely done.

Then Daniel told me that when he discovered the garden, he met the little 80 year old woman that cultivated the vegetables and they had a laugh about “how ridiculous it is that they can’t actually use any of the garden in the restaurant”.

Apparently, for food to be “safe” for our consumption, it has to pass certain guidelines and be processed through proper channels. I just about died laughing/crying because this has got to be one of the most backward things I have ever heard in my life. The food industry that feeds us pink slime and says that pizza is a vegetable has to “process” natural food grown by actual people?! This is the very height of an idiotic relationship to food.

How much better would it be if restaurants could grow fresh food right on site? I’m sure it would save costs and it would probably taste a lot better.

I am really looking forward to one day having my own garden to cultivate. Obviously, not everyone has access to resources, but why not build structures with gardens in mind? Why not create sustainable ecosystems that will be cost effective in the long run and better for the people that work or live there?

We could do so much better!



by Andy Warhol

Venus- Andy Warhol

I’ve been on a bit of a technology detox for the last few days. I was sick with the flu over the weekend, and feeling drained of all of my vital energy. I had planned to write a post about the Venus transit before it happened, but life interfered.

The transit of Venus is a rare event that occurs in 8 year pairs (June 2004/June 2012) every 121 or so years.  Venus represents the divine feminine, love and harmony, and its presence in front of our sun is thought to activate and shine light on the divine feminine energy within our earth and ourselves. This integrates with our masculine energy (which is dominant on our earth, currently) and brings about a great balance between masculine and feminine, yin and yang.

There is also a surge of creativity and communication taking place between transits. I think about the previous transit in 2004, which I knew nothing about. I was just graduating high school and although the internet was definitely up and running, it was nothing like it is today. Since 2004, there have been many strides in our ability to communicate as a whole, as a human race. Alternate news sites are readily available to anyone with internet access. I think about Wikileaks and other organizations that have used our technology to expose great injustices and increase awareness among people.

I awoke this morning, feeling reborn. I do not know if it has anything to do with the Venus transit, but I know that I awoke to lightness, calm, and a strange feeling that something inside me has changed. While I was sick and shunning the demands of the outside world, I kept trying to reassure myself that I needed time to allow for healing and integration, and that I was not suffering needlessly.

Lately, when I am feeling heavy or sad, I go outside and surround myself in the beauty that is this planet. I walk barefoot, look around and think about how fortunate I am to be here, at this time.  I try my best not to feel guilty about taking time for myself, to heal myself. I am the most effective when I am well-rested and rejuvenated, and I want to be as helpful as possible to the people in my life.

School is out for summer on Friday, and I am SO ready. I can’t believe I’ve been a teacher at Sheppard for four years. To think how much I have changed and grown in that period of time, and then thinking back to the transit in 2004- it is amazing to see and feel how much has changed. I’d like to think that Amanda circa 2004 would be proud of Amanda 2012 🙂

♥ /☼