Tag Archives: rest

vision

Br(e)aking back to basics

vision

This is what July (and beyond) looks like for me.

I told myself I would take off the month of July. Ever since January I’ve been goinggoinggoing, and I am ready to be still. Or, if not actually ready, at least aware that it’s time.

In the last five months I’ve taken an 8-week grammar course, a 6-week yoga course, a 10-week writing course, 5 weeks of guitar lessons, and 4 weeks of Wholly Shift, all of which required additional time commitments outside of class. I’ve also traveled to Chicago, the Catskills (twice), Texas, Los Angeles, and Massachusetts. All along I’ve maintained friendships, somewhere in there I turned 30, and every now and then I’ve tried to date. I’ve also worked a full-time job.

I’ve also gotten tired.

All of the learning and traveling has been totally by choice, and all of it worthwhile and mostly enjoyable. But as summer set in, a line from Dirty Dancing started to echo in my head: “She needs a break.”

And now it’s July, and I’m trying to rest. I celebrated the 4th and the long weekend that followed on a retreat with my writing group, which was certainly restful, aside from the part where I spent many hours typing thousands of words and battling the discomfort that accompanied them.

(I know, I know. My job is to show up at the page and produce, not to judge the process or the output. It’s hard for me.)

So, a week into July, I’ve still been seeking stillness. Lucky for me, a new chapter of Wholly Shift started yesterday, and last night’s session was rocket fuel for my rejuvenation.

With the guidance of universal intelligence (via Laura Hames Franklin), I released worry and doubt and gave myself permission to see things I’ve never seen before. Then in a state of meditation I summoned a vision for my future. Then I put it on paper.

What showed up were open hands, clear of eczema (a lifelong struggle that has recently resurfaced), holding infinite wealth and radiance. What came to me were words: my palms are pure and powerful. Self-acceptance. No judgement. Trusting abundance.

Receiving innate wisdom is rewarding in itself, but my delight elevated when Laura asked a super practical question. What are three tangible things I can do every day to get closer to my vision?

I wasn’t sure what might directly bring about infinite wealth and radiance, but I had a few ideas about releasing chronic inflammation, doubt, and judgment. And boy, were they basic.

Today I am avoiding refined sugar, dairy, and gluten. I will meditate for nine minutes, and I will drink three big bottles of water.

Simple, simple, simple, if not always easy. All three actions are doable, nourishing, and satisfying. Exactly what I need to help me slow down, to take a break, to breathe deeply. To rest.

water bottle

My water bottle is my new BFF. Bottoms up!

 

Carrying with care

Sometimes the box goes in the backseat.

“You can put that box down,” my high school boyfriend once told me. We’d been driving for a while, and had a while left to travel, and the whole time I’d been gripping a cardboard box full of…CDs? Books? The contents weren’t particularly important, but having their weight on my lap was comfortable.

I am comfortable carrying weight, all right with responsibility. Sometimes it overwhelms me, but as long as I am honest, I usually feel light, even if my burdens are heavy.

But it matters what I hold, and why. There is no need for me to balance a box on my lap when I can just as easily put that box in the backseat. It helps to have free hands.

And while I don’t always get to choose my responsibilities, a lot of the time I do. Just because I can carry something doesn’t mean I need to. So I do my best to choose wisely, and if I notice I’m lifting unnecessary weight, I can always put it down.

(And if I really miss it, I can usually pick it up again…)

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.