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I step on my mat this morning. It is early. Early for me. I know that it is something I must do. Not because of anything specifically physical I feel, but because the cobwebs in my body need to be broken; because in order for me to reconnect with my spirit, the dust must be swept away; because I need to work through this tangle of thoughts and emotions and stuff inside. My meditation cushion is set up, though I know that my body must move first.

As I move through a very basic practice, I’m humbled. I have never found my body to find shapes the way the social media yogis do. However, at this point, after years of caring for another body and neglecting my own physical needs, it creaks. But again, not so unnaturally. Postures are familiar; the same challenges remain. My leg just will not come closer. I must breathe in softness to remind my quad that it does not need to contract there, my trapezius does not need to tense here. Slow, as I have always tended towards. Not stiff, but bound, wrapped in a slightly-too-tight sheath of defense and protection. The fascia holds, and holds (a little too?) well.

The physical practice and challenge is familiar; the thought patterns and emotions that arise are familiar. “I’m the tightest yoga teacher that you might ever meet,” I would often say in the midst of a yoga class, laughing, a little nervously. And then the doubts: how could I ever say that this is part of my path if this is me, getting on my mat first thing in the morning for the first time in years? This cannot be part of my career if I haven’t studied under x or put in the time with y. I should’ve stuck with… And so on.

But then, it happened.

As the movement continued, as the breath breathed, a shift. I start to see it, feel it. That earth goddess. Moderation momma starts to rise, coming out to defend this body. She smiles stronger, at Herself. She beams. She speaks of how the practice is exactly how it should be. My body is. I “should” keep doing this only because it connects me to Her – not to get bendier or shapelier, not to float away or prove anything. And I teach from this. I teach from a deeper wisdom that is linked to this body but not defined by this body. I found healing through yoga from the earthly teachers I have had the pleasure of meeting: ones who lived life right in front of us, on the mat. Who modelled for us how both feet can simultaneously be dipped in our real, raw, earthly experiences AND the divine. Who reminded us to respect the physical body, to see it’s much greater role in the whole of things. Who have inspired me to spread this news.

By the time my physical practice was winding down to meet my zafu, I had a spectator. A little body joined me in meditation, relaxed on my lap and occasionally asking me questions. It wasn’t exactly the way I had planned, but it was perfect for the practice. Life and yoga, yoga and life.

 

Photo Credit: Yepanchintcev Aleksey Flickr via Compfight cc

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Oops.

Tuesday marked the end of our first week of the “take time challenge”… and I was afraid to tally up my results. As a teacher, a naturopath, and a potential role model, I am acutely aware of the importance of “walking the talk“. Authenticity is for what I strive every day – and, when there is a disconnect between what I believe/teach and what I do, there is a deeply unsettling feeling. A mixture of anxiety, shame, guilt, and the other emotion that has no name that comes around from my core knowledge that those are all life-sucking emotions to feel.

This, unfortunately, was the feeling I walked around with over the last week.

This, alone, is an unfortunate turn in my own “Take Time Challenge”. However, on adding up my own results, the clouds cleared. Things aren’t that bad.

My total: 27 (out of a potential 35)

Where I earned points: A Wednesday night chamomile bath with a book, a fairly regular meditation practice, small breaks for sunshine even if I didn’t have time for a full “workout”, lots of connection with people

Where I lost points: A lunch skipped, a few days of not leaving my work for anything, forgetting our theme some days, procrastination

I can learn to celebrate the little achievements, and now I am conscious of my “learning objectives”.

  1. Work can often overpower my need for nourishment – in body, mind, and soul. However, to be the best that I can be in my work, I must be nourished. I must feel complete. I must be present and awake and balanced.
  2. Though it is important to walk my talk – it is more important to move forward without shame or guilt or those other unnamed feelings. Kindness and compassion towards one’s self are the answers. If the path to optimal health and balance in boy, mind and soul were simple, then we would all be there. There will be obstacles – celebrate not only when you have crossed them, but also when they become visible. This is the first step to formulating your way over, under, around and through.

“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.” ― Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

So, let us introduce the theme for week 2 (sorry I am a day late!)…

TAKE TIME FOR THE HERE AND NOW.

“Whatever I’m doing at the moment is the biggest thing in life — whether it is conducting a symphony or peeling an orange.” – Arturo Toscanini

Ideas for how to do this daily:

  • This is an easy one, if you read the quote. The key is presence. Mindful action. Being here, now. Going a little slower to take time and “smell the roses”. Noticing the details, and delighting in them.
  • Be Here, Now.
  • Another quote for some hints:

“If you can see it, hear it, feel it, taste it, touch it, or smell it, you can be present with it. It is of the present moment, and so it brings to you the opportunity to be present with it.” – Leonard Jacobson

Enjoy!

ImageTake Time.

What does this mean? I considered the title “Make Time”, but let’s be honest: in order to insert time for “x” activities, we (as the busy people we are) have to TAKE time from other activities. Time (as energy) cannot be created or destroyed. But it can be repartitioned (like space on your hard drive) to include other (more life-affirming) activities.

What is the “Take Time Challenge”?

One of the weekly yoga classes that I teach takes place over 10-week sessions. I’m constantly looking for ways to link classes together, to theme, to further motivate yogis to take yoga off-the-mat and into the world. Yesterday, on September 18, was the beginning of approximately our 15th round of 10-week sessions together. What could I possibly do that hasn’t been done before?

Seriously, this is what my yoga-class planning looks like at times.

In light of all the online “challenges” that I have been seeing online (the “Whole Life Challenge“, “Vegan Challenge“, “1-week Veggie Challenge“, “Whole30 Challenge“, “10,000 Steps Challenge“… I need not go on), I wanted to create one that I know is needed amongst my family, friends, students, patients, and… well, me. I was inspired by a book my good friend recently gave me as a gift (a.k.a. a friendly nudge in the right direction).  A (seemingly simple) little book by Dan Zadra called “Take Time“. In it, each page is dedicated to something else for which we must “take time“. Simple, no? Easy? No. Not in true practice.

Here are the “rules”:

  1. Each day, a maximum of 5 pointscan be rewarded:
    • Take time for Body (1 pt)
    • Take time for Mind (1 pt)
    • Take Time for Soul (1 pt)
    • Take time for Others (2 pts)
      • Note: for those who attend my yoga class weekly, you receive an automatic 5 points on the day of our class!
  2. The points can be achieved in the following ways (but creativity is always encouraged!):
    • Take time for Body examples (do one per day):
      • If you are a person who skips meals, take time to eat lunch
      • If you are a person who eats on the run, take time to sit and eat, no distractions
      • If you are a person who makes poor food choices (due to time restrictions), take time to cut up some fruits, veggies, or prepare your own whole food snacks
      • If you make excuses to avoid daily movement, do something (anything!) active for at least 20 minutes
      • If you work inside, go outside for at least 10-20 minutes
    • Take time for Mind examples (do one per day):
      • Meditate, at least 20 minutes. Note – meditation can mean any of the following:
        • Sitting outside or inside, in silence
        • Walking mindfully, in silence
        • Sitting alone, breathing, in silence
        • Any meditation technique that you have previously learned
        • Any meditation technique that you have been meaning to learn
      • Take a bath and relax the nervous system, at least 20 minutes
      • Take 50-100 mindful breaths (in one “session”)
    • Take Time for Soul:
      • This is determined weekly by my little book. I read a random page and quote in class, post it online here afterwards, and we keep it in mind ALL WEEK LONG. This is your chance to be creative with your “take time activity”. Keep it simple and achievable, and aim for 10-20 minutes per day.
      • THIS WEEK’S TAKE TIME CHALLENGE:
        • Take time to IMAGINE. 
        • “Let your mind fly toward ‘what-if?’ Let your what-if become ‘why-not?’ Then you are on your way. ~ Earnie Larsen and Carole Larsen
          • Examples of activities:
            • Start making your vision board.
            • Write down a vision of yourself at the end of 10-weeks.
            • Do something creative – draw, paint, sing, play.
            • Play make-believe with children.
            • Play make-believe with adults.
    • Take time for Others (bonus points!):
      • To achieve these points, you must take 2o minutes to be fully presentwith another living being in a day. This means:
        • no distractions (tv, internet, movies, video games)
        • no multi-tasking
        • just you and ______ (and ______, and ______ …) time to CONNECT
  3. We strive to be honest with ourselves.

The Power Triad…

And then what…?

Each week, I will be posing MY results of the week and the next “soul challenge“. (Follow my blog to receive email updates!) At the end of ten weeks, we tally up our results, and see what happens. 🙂 Perhaps a prize for the highest points? Perhaps the prize will be greater personal connection, within and without? 😉

Best of luck to you all. I will try to think of ways to make this more interactive and fun as we go along! Stay tuned…

Just me…

2010 Journey

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