Back to Blog
As I was preparing for my morning yoga/meditation practice (i.e. getting dressed; drinking a cup of hot water) I found myself hurrying through, trying to just 'get through' more quickly. As I noticed, I paused to see what was going on in my mind to influence my actions in this way. What my mind was saying was, "If I can hurry up and get through this, then I can rest!"......wait....what!? "Hurry up and get through" yoga and meditation so THEN I can relax?
Something's not right with that for me! I thought about what the past few days had looked like, and how my mind was perceiving the next few days to come. I had taught a few extra yoga classes, and then actually spend a good deal of time over the weekend INTENTIONALLY RESTING (i.e., not reading, watching TV, listening to a podcast/music, just simply laying on the couch, BEING). This was a very NEW behavior for me, as it wasn't coming off of a marathon of to=do's with my body/mind exhausted so that I new I had "earned it". About every minute or so my mind came up with a reason why I SHOULD NOT be "just laying there", that I was "wasting time", and the many other ways I could be "keeping busy"; but my BODY was SO SO SO happy! I decided to trust my body after the first day and allowed for some (thought not as much) quiet rest time the next day as well.
I continued to scan my mind and noticed that I had listened to an emotionally-charged conversation the day before, and today, am teaching classes again and preparing for travel and a workshop in a few days. My mind is racing around between the past and the future and my body is FEELING the EXHAUSTION that that creates!
Here's the shift that I realized I need and the practice that I am instilling:
1. SHIFT APPROACH IN HOW I DO: by 8:00a I had showered, done a 90-min yoga/meditation, journaled, ate breakfast, washed dishes, checked emails, washed a load of clothes- WHOA! What's important is that my ACTIVITY LEVEL was a reflection of my MENTAL ACTIVITY- WARP SPEED! No wonder my body was craving rest! Even if I had been lying in bed or sitting on the couch for that time, had my MIND been that active, I would STILL be craving rest!
2. EVERY ACTIVITY IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO CREATE/MAINTAIN PEACE: As I reflected on this mental activity and behavior, my Higher mind said "You know, if your PRACTICE was super slow, mindful, breath-infused, peaceful, it would BE RESTFUL and you wouldn't be left RUSHING THROUGH to the next opportunity to REST. We can all do this, right? It's all in how we approach the task/situation.
CHALLENGE TO YOU: How can you approach your next to=do/action item as an opportunity to create/maintain peace; a restful state of being?
So much love, support, and restfulness to you!
P.S. Were you inspired/did you receive an AHA while reading/practicing? Please share with us below!! Do you know someone who could benefit from this practice? PLEASE SHARE!!
Back to Blog
This inspiration came to me at four AM in a hotel, somewhere in Nebraska, as my husband, two dogs, and I adventured across the country moving from Illinois to California! I learned a lot about my practice while on the road:
1. That just because it may not LOOK like my "usual" practice, doesn't mean it can't feel as deep, as good, or as fulfilling.
2. That sometimes allowing the body/mind more rest, rather than getting up to do a "full practice", is the most Yogic (i.e., compassionate, peaceful, aware) thing I can do.
3. That with a mind set on increasing awareness, any landscape or situation can be an opportunity to practice (i.e., to observe the body mind and to take action toward greater awareness.
The first day of our trip, I set my alarm, got up when I usually do, and completed the morning routine and practice that I had usually been doing. It felt OK. As we were packing up the car and getting everything ready to leave, I noticed I was feeling impatient, irritable, and anxious for what was to come. I caught myself holding my breath and breathing shallowly many times throughout the nine hours we drove that day.
The second day, after a night of little and restless sleep, I decided to be gentle on myself. I set out to do a shorter practice, that was focused on more seated and supine postures with longer holds and deep breaths, to allow the tension and stress that had accumulated from the previous day to begin to release; and it DID! My body exhaled, my mind began to slow, and despite driving (well, riding; my husband drove the whole way!) for 15+ hours that day, I remained more peaceful, present, and adaptable to when we made stops, when and what we ate, and how late we drove into the night. In other words, I RELEASED the expectations of how I thought it SHOULD be, and remained present with what WAS.
The third and final day of our trip, I chose not to set an alarm. I woke when I woke, and showed up on my mat with what time was available. As my dogs clobbered me with good morning kisses and excitement (an act that would normally annoy me when trying to focus), I took a few moments to be with them and show them love back. As I was watching them, I watched how they woke their bodies, instinctively moving in a way that would open up and release for greater ease of movement. I decided to try the same approach in my morning practice. I took a few moments to check in, notice how my body/mind was feeling, and move accordingly. It was slow, deep, fluid, and grounding. My breath was full and even. In total, my practice was under 20 minutes, but it felt more "complete" than it had in a while. I thought back to the ancient Yogic story of how Sages created the initial body postures that lead to a state of greater awareness and enlightenment: by watching how nature moves and copying it. Our dogs didn't need a class, or 200+ hours of study to learn how to open up their bodies, they simply trust their instincts. They don't "try" to meditate; being 100% present is all they know.
And I thought, how would we move our bodies if we hadn't been told what was "right" and "wrong"? How would we breathe if we weren't trying to do 100 million things at a time, or if our minds weren't focused on some painful past or stressful (and IMAGINARY!) future? How present and happy might we be? I'm taking a lesson from my dogs on this one; they carry greater wisdom than they'll ever know.
I hope this serves to increase peace, compassion, and awareness toward your own practice; whatever that looks like from day to day.
Back to Blog
This realization came to me in the process of moving, and the deep clean that ensues with it. I started with the bedrooms and my bathroom, and that felt pretty smooth and light. I let go of/gave away shoes (TOO MANY!), clothing, jewelry, and beauty products that may be of use or bring joy to someone else’s life, although it was no longer needed in mine. I was feeling in good spirits as I entered into day two, packing the remainder of our clothing into crates so that we are able to give away a dresser, bedframe, and a few other home goods that may be of use to someone. As I moved into the office/yoga space, a heaviness settled in- there was SO MUCH stuff there; not just physical stuff, but the emotional/mental/and spiritual stuff of memories and experiences that I had associated with the physical objects (aka developed an attachment to). There were notebooks filled with notes from meaningful college courses, yoga studies journals, personal journals, job interview and audition notes, old career projects; as I pieced through them it felt as though I was time traveling through my (what felt like) many lives! And as I packed them into garbage bags, knowing on some level that I did not NEED to carry them with me anymore, a sort of grief came over me, like I was throwing away so much of who I’d known myself to be.
Becoming aware of this feeling moving through me, I paused to reflect where it was stemming from and heard a voice say, “do you really need these material things to remind you of what you already know?” And the answer to that, I knew, was “no”. I don’t need the binders, books, stacks, and piles to prove that I’ve done important things; the stacks actually represented a habitual pattern on my part of overconsumption of knowledge to compensate for a deep-seated fear of not knowing and therefore not being enough. What Yogic philosophy has taught me is that knowledge without wisdom is dead weight; it’s in the application of the learning that true growth and evolution occurs.
As I paged through the notebooks and journals, I realized that I had been learning the same lessons over and over, presented by different teachers and in different environments, like the Universe was just hitting repeat until I finally realized I was on the merry-go-round and intentionally chose to get off. Attachments keep us stuck like that, and for the past decade, I have had a strong attachment to the many titles that identify me with knowledge: student, grad student, corporate performance coach, health coach, yoga student and yoga teacher. In truth, I can be all of them and I am none of them. Unhooking from the ego attachment to each of the roles created more space for me, which many of us say we want but when it comes we don’t know what to do with it! As I am writing/saying this aloud to you, I am settling into the lightness that now lives where fear used to, and it feels GOOD.
As we close out this spring season, I would encourage you to take a space of time to reflect for yourself:
What are you holding onto?
What are you identifying yourself with?
What’s weighing you down?
Can you let go of/release any or all of it?
Can you sit with unfilled space, internally and externally?
As you cultivate this practice, what do you notice?
The emptier/less consumed we become, the closer we move toward our truth.
“Travel light spread the light be the light.” – Yogi Bhajan