Tag Archives: acceptance

Airport patience is a special patience.

The plane is hanging out at the gate for an indefinite period of time. Like me. But at least it is here. Like me.

The plane is hanging out at the gate for an indefinite period of time. Like me. But at least it is here. Like me.

I’m still sitting in the airport and I’m not annoyed. If that’s not evidence of spiritual growth, I don’t know what is.

I followed all the rules today: I packed my luggage light and careful, I allowed for plenty of transit time, and I arrived at my gate an hour before takeoff.

But nothing I do can control the weather or airplanes, which is why, two hours later, I’m still on land, and assuming the third announced delay is the final one*, it’ll be just another hour before I’m off the ground.

“Just another hour,” and somehow that’s okay with me.** I’ve got books to read, music to hear, people to watch, and words to write. What more could I want, except to be on my flight?

Another time, I might say “a lot.” But in this moment I’m able to be okay with what is, and that’s a gift I don’t take for granted.

 

*It wasn’t the final delay announcement.

**It was another two hours.

Shifting through the mud

walking in mud

Mud is dirty, icky, and gleefully squishy.

“I give myself permission to walk through the mud.”

That was the first of (approximately) one trillion insights offered to me during tonight’s Wholly Shift session, and it immediately resonated.

I would rather not get dirty. I take pride in keeping clean. However, dirty is part of the deal when I choose to grow and transform (or simply stay alive), and so instead of avoiding the mud, I might as well walk through it.

Sure, mud is messy, but I’ll get to a river or shower soon enough, or it’ll dry up and dust away. However it happens, the dirty never stays.

The clean doesn’t either, of course, which was another lesson the universe wanted to teach tonight. Just like washing our hair—the cycle of fresh and clean, to greasy limp, to wet and clean again—life is a flow. I might as well go with it.

And I don’t have to flow alone. Mud walking is slow going–it’s slippery, and requires awareness and careful attention. (Not unlike walking through snow.) Sometimes it’s yuck, yuck, yuck.

But it’s also affirming. Because when you’re walking in mud, you KNOW it. There’s no mistaking the terrain for smooth sidewalks or grassy meadows. Every squishy step is invigorating in its own way–there’s no doubting you are dirty and ALIVE.

Some people think mud is bad, and that’s okay. I don’t have to hang out with them, and I don’t have to feel bad either. Because I’m dynamically supported, I can holler, “Hey! I’m in the mud!” and be assured I’m in good company.

“When you’re in the mud, you can be experiencing the mud, and at the same time you can experience yourself being with yourself in the mud.”

That’s something Laura said near the end of our session, and it sums up one of the many ways I’m shifting. I can trust that it’s okay to get dirty, but with compassion, I don’t have to get stuck.

Enough IS enough

kitchen flowers

These flowers in my kitchen are definitely enough.

I don’t know why I feel so compelled to publish a blog post; there is no reason that I have to. None. Nor is there any pressure. Not externally, at least.

Internally, I admit, there is a voice warning me how easy it is to do nothing with my blog–just look at my track record in 2012. That voice would feel better if I posted twice a month, at least.

Twice a month would be plenty, I think. In 2011 I went for a minimum of weekly and while it worked out pretty well, near the end it began feeling like a chore and that was not okay. When it comes to creating in general, yes, the discipline is important. I show up at the page every morning no matter what, a tangible commitment to self-care. But this blog is meant to be a bonus, content I share because I’m compelled to, not because I’m obliged.

And it seems I just answered my own non-question: I feel compelled to publish a blog post because I feel compelled to! In fact, I’ve felt compelled six times since my last post–hence the six drafts I started and haven’t finished. Some of them I’d still like to complete.

The thing is, it usually takes at least an hour or two for me to write and polish a post for publication. And all month long I haven’t had that kind of me time.

Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans, yeah, but it’s also what happens when you make plans and show up for them. And lately I’ve had lots of plans. Kind of like an anti-hibernation, I guess, since it’s begun to feel like winter will be over by the time I catch my breath.

But tonight I caught my breath. My scheduled activity fell through, and I came home to an empty apartment, and I chose to breathe. Unaccustomed to solitude and free time, at first I wasn’t sure what to do. Then my tense shoulders told me, so I rolled out my yoga mat and started moving.

I didn’t worry about a sequence. I didn’t bother playing music. I just dove into downward dog until I was ready for something different. Because I do attend a class regularly, a familiar structure presented itself, and I followed it loosely, breathing into each pose for as long as I wanted (and then a breath more, for growth).

And for those calm and steady minutes, where my muscles and lungs were making friends and my mind was on the sidelines, I felt no judgment, no doubt, no anxiety or fear. I was just enough.

Kind of how this blog post is enough. I haven’t said any of the stuff I intended for drafts one through six, but these words are honest anyway, and it feels good to type. To claim some cyberspace and assert my online existence.

And though my perfectionism might prefer me not to impromptu publish,  I’m going to persevere. Because this is enough for now, it really truly is, and I’m grateful to feel sufficient.

Self-care on the slopes

diamond snowflake sample2

“Treating myself like a precious object will make me strong.” I learned that affirmation in Week 7 of The Artist’s Way, and I have made use of it often since.

But last Sunday I felt strong already, and I didn’t want to listen to my bruising body. I wanted to treat myself like a sturdy object rather than a precious one. I wanted to go skiing.

I wanted to ignore the fact that my knee was sprained. After all, it wasn’t a bad sprain. I wasn’t in much pain, and the joint could bear weight, and it wasn’t nearly as swollen as the day before. So why not make use of my lift ticket?

Because my knee was sprained, of course. The smart part of me knew this–understood as soon as I saw the swelling that my time on the slopes was over. But the rest of me desired a different outcome, wanted permission to push myself, to prove my resilience and ability.

The day before I’d been rewarded for boldness and bravery: I’d intended to start out slow on the beginner slopes since I hadn’t skied in six years, but a rush of come-what-may confidence prompted me to launch myself onto an intermediate run instead.

To my exhilarated delight, muscle memory and courage kept me on course, and soon I was dashing down a black diamond. It felt good to face my fear of steep and icy terrain, and even though I fell a couple times, I was impressed with my performance.

The final descent of the black diamond slope I skied.

The final descent of the black diamond slope I skied.

And then I got punished for taking it easy: I next decided to take a break and glide down a long and winding beginner trail, and as I cruised around a curve, I crashed into a snowboarder who was standing still.

I knew something was wrong right away. Thankfully she was okay, and I said I was too, but I also said something like, “I’m pretty sure my knee isn’t supposed to twist out like this.”

Turns out I was correct. Within two hours the tissue above my kneecap was the size of a golf ball, and I wisely accepted a friend’s lunchtime assessment that I was done for the day.

I was less willing to accept that I was done for the weekend. But the group of great people on my ski trip included an ER doctor, and after assessing my injury that night, her diagnosis was clear: It was a sprain, and additional skiing was absolutely inadvisable.

And yet Sunday morning found me justifying, rationalizing, and minimizing. Yes, I had a sprain, but it was a very mild one. I could walk with no trouble–so why not a wee bit of skiing, on only the easiest of trails? It would be a serious shame for already-rented equipment to sit idle, and as long as I was extra careful…

If I was extra careful, I would stay inside. I would not make a minor pain worse. I would treat myself like a precious object, and I would grow stronger. The truth was I had nothing to prove, to myself or anyone else, and as soon as I accepted reality, I was able to focus on self-care with compassion.

Looking at my phone also helped.

VT ski temp

Because inside, it was a lot warmer than zero degrees. And I’m very okay with not feeling numb.

Rightly wrong

mistake

I like to be right. I’ll admit it: Not being wrong feels amazing. But being right is not important.

In truth, it’s acting rightly that matters, choosing to be “in accordance with what is just, good, or proper.” It’s actions that make a difference. And sometimes I act wrong.

Just now, for example, I should have said “wrongly”–that’s the correct way to use an adverb. But I didn’t care, because I liked the sound of the sentence better when I wrote it my way.

“My way” and “wrong” have a knack for finding each other.

Most recently my selfish will–which I’m still striving to let go of–tricked me into making a mighty mistake, one that has caused a lot of pain. Fortunately, pain is not pointless. Unfortunately, knowing this does not make it less painful.

What helps with the pain is compassion. Because there is a right way to be wrong–a loving way to accept mistakes. Feeling sad sucks, but this too shall pass. As long as I don’t harbor self-hate.

Self-hate wants me to suffer. It believes in punishment, in penance, in perpetuating pain.

Self-hate needs healing too, I know. I won’t banish it from my  “Guest House”–but I don’t have to offer it a cozy chair in which to curl up. I can give compassion the seat of honor.

I made a mistake, it’s true. I acted wrongly. And compassion says, okay.

Compassion says, be kind. It says, you tried. You did your best to be just, to be good, to be proper. And you failed. It’s all right. You are still worthy. You are still loved. Always, anyway, no matter what.

What a relief, amen.

Restful release

Some truths transecend typos.

I took a yoga class today that should have been easy. Or if not easy, easily within my asana abilities. And yet, I had to sit out about half of it.

It’s one thing to stay still because you don’t feel like moving, and another entirely to feel forced into immobility. I love my Saturday yoga class; I was eager for the opportunity and didn’t want to miss a moment. But about twenty minutes in, my vision was getting fuzzy, and a mental dialogue ensued.

Although accurately recalling a thought chain is about as impossible as inhaling the same air twice, I know my mind was spinning something like this:

What the hell? Why am I so lightheaded? Is it because I ate an egg and an apple an hour before class? I know better than to eat before yoga. But I had to eat something. And that was such a light meal! Oh, wow, I am kind of dizzy. Am I really going to have to sit down, or is this my brain being lazy? Maybe it’s because I gave blood yesterday. I probably haven’t had enough water since then. But seriously, this is just Warrior Two. I should be able to do this

And that’s when I sat down. Because “should” is a sure sign that the ego is in charge, and I know better than to let it rule. But it is hard, honoring weakness. I have been feeling quite strong, and I was shocked to find my body disagreeing.

I aimed for compromise, avoiding the full surrender of child’s pose and instead sitting tall on my knees, the way I learned to do in Bikram. In the hot room, it seemed borderline shameful to sit down (no matter what the teacher said, the energy told me otherwise), but if you had to, there was protocol: on your knees, head above the heart, focus on the breath.

Focus on the breath, oh yes. That was where I’d lost my way, in the first ten minutes of class. As the teacher guided us through a beautifully modified set of sun salutations I noticed I was panting to keep up. But instead of slowing down, I told myself, C’mon, this isn’t even fast. 

Which, it wasn’t. The pace was perfectly reasonable–all the more reason for my ego to resist defeat.

That resistance, that ego, is how I ended up pretending I was fine and almost passing out before finally snatching at that mental “should” and sinking to my mat. I pressed my palms together at my chest, my mouth closed in a firm line. You’re okay. You’re okay. You have been here before. Just breathe. Keep your heart lifted, your focus strong, and–

“Rest.” The teacher’s hand was on my back, gently pressing me down into child’s pose. “Rest, rest, rest.”

I trusted my teacher’s touch and I relaxed. I let go. I listened to my breath, long and steady with the rise and fall of my spine. I released my expectations and accepted what I was feeling. I soaked in the sounds of the kirtan playing in the background.

I realized as I mentally chanted along with one of my favorite artists that even at rest–maybe especially at rest–I was still doing yoga. I felt my fingertips tingle and I agreed with the lyrics: “I am so thankful, jai, I am so thankful for this moment right now.”

What a gift, what good yoga, to allow for rest. As class progressed, at some points I was able to participate, and at others I again required retreat. Thoughts of failure, of weakness, of inadquacy showed up from time to time, but the music and the mood reminded me to stick with bhakti, the yoga of love and devotion.

I devoted myself to my breath, and I followed it with patience and compassion, and I was grateful.

Acceptably uncertain

The first-ever Yoga Service Conference starts tomorrow, and I’m not sure why I’m going.

It’s not that I’ve lost interest in the cause–I’m as emphatic as ever that yoga can be both profoundly healing and accessible to everyone, and I remain deeply committed to the practice of seva (yoga-speak for “selfless service”).

It’s just that I’m a little lost.

A year ago it seemed I’d found my path, and while I trust that I’m still on it, it’s led to unexpected places, and I don’t know what comes next. The intensity of purpose I felt when I first discovered the yoga service sector was thrilling and continues to inspire me, but my daily life looks much the same it did a year ago: I still have a full-time job that’s unrelated to yoga; I still talk and write about yoga more than I teach it.

And so, because I’m not entirely transformed, because, despite my 200-hour, Om Schooled, and Street Yoga certifications, I haven’t yet fully found my way, my insecure ego tells me I don’t belong at the conference; that because I’m not “walking the walk” (whatever that means!) of someone who’s professed passion for a career in yoga service, I’m somehow an impostor among the truly devoted (whoever they are!).

But the Yoga Service Council says their conference “is intended for anyone interested in working to create strong, engaged and resilient communities.” That means me.

So my ego can take a hike, because I am walking the walk. I’m just traveling at my own pace–and I’m practicing yoga every breath of the way. Just because I haven’t quit my job doesn’t mean I don’t do seva every day. I do, and I’ll continue to.

And just because I don’t know exactly where I’m going doesn’t mean I won’t get there–and connecting with inspirational, like-minded people will surely help me navigate. As I once concluded in a previous post about pathways: “No doubt about it, there is always somewhere to go, even if figuring out the way involves uncertainty.”

Oh yes, I am uncertain. But uncertainty is more than acceptable, it’s exciting. Uncertainty pairs with possibility, after all—and I am confident there will be plenty of that this weekend. Looking forward to what I will learn!

Resting in unrest

“Acceptance”
Image courtesy of “Annie” Nancy JonesFrancis (annieo76) via Flickr Creative Commons

I don’t always get what I want, but I always, always get what I need.

The first time I heard the Rolling Stones sing something similar, I instantly related, though it’s taken me years to realize I can try more than sometimes, and there is no “just might” about it:

I get what I need.

(And so do you, particularly if you’re reading this, since to do so you’ve got to be breathing.)

For the past few days my yoga has been slippery. I’ve been grasping for peace and it’s been shimmering just beyond reach. I’ve gotten caught up with wanting, nearly forgotten that I am not in need.

When I think I need something I get anxious, and when I am anxious I am uneasy. Usually I’m making things harder than they have to be. The solution is simple, but I don’t always see it.

When I upset the balance of my existence–when I attempt to control my life more than accept it–anxiety shows up and I am in unrest. The trick is, the only way out of unrest is to rest in it. If I stay still with the situation, if I gently steer my thought-tangled mind toward silence for even a minute, I start to see what I was missing before.

Nothing. Nothing is missing, nothing is needed. And if I allow myself to accept that reality–a truth I perceive with my own senses–anxiety has nowhere to nestle.