Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trusting Myself, Part 2

Autumn in the BerkshiresImage by Stellas mom via FlickrI have to admit that my mind was in a strange place when I stepped into the room for the first session of Seane Corn's Empower Flow Yoga workshop. I was focused inside, still processing my experiences over the three previous days. My energy felt at odds with the buzzing crowd while I set my mat down in one of the few remaining spots at the back of the room. Perhaps that's why my "fun" workshop turned into two days of torture.

Having already read posts from some of my fellow bloggers who also attended the workshop, I know my experience was different than that of the other 100+ people in the room, so please accept that this was my unique experience and nothing I write is intended to belittle Seane Corn or discourage others from taking workshops with her in the future. I only hope to share the lesson I learned in trusting myself.

When Seane entered the room my first thought was, "she's shorter than I remember." The only other time I'd seen her in person she was on the stage at Yoga Journal's Estes Park Conference. At that same conference I had been surprised that Shiva Rea wasn't taller, so maybe I just assume all celebrities are taller than me. This occupied my mind until Seane worked her way to the front of the room and called us up to sit near her.

During the first session I really tried to like Seane and kept reminding myself that this was supposed to be fun, but something wasn't right. I don't know if it was the words she used or just her delivery, but I couldn't connect to her message. Maybe with everything that went on earlier in the week I just wasn't open to being empowered.

I also didn't connect to the asana practice. After finally recovering from my last two races in September, I was taking care in my practice not to do anything that would re-injure my knee or make me hurt too bad. Perhaps because I was being cautious, or perhaps because I was already put off by the talking, the practice felt forced and uninspiring.

I spent some time Friday night trying to figure out what was wrong with me. Everyone else seemed in awe of Seane Corn, excited to be in the same room with her, and I wondered if I just didn't get it or perhaps I was not the yogini I thought I was. After spending some time with my journal over breakfast, I realized again I needed to trust my own truth and honor where I was. I had paid for the workshop, so I would gather what I could from it without internalizing those things that were not resonating with me.

By the second session I was back in teacher mode, listening for good teaching cues and checking out the adjustments Seane's assistant was doing. I was no longer listening to my body, and after doing more back bends than I should have I was hurting. The afternoon session was much more talking than practicing and when we finally got on our mats I was irritated and my back was sore from sitting. After Seane's practice did nothing to help, I stayed in the room for the Kripalu gentle class which followed.

The gentle class was great and I enjoyed the long savasana. That night I sat in the sauna for as long as I could stand, then collapsed into bed. I'd had enough of Seane Corn and I missed my family. I was ready to go home.

Sunday morning I got up for the early gentle class to work the kinks out of my low back. At breakfast I decided to skip the last session of Seane Corn's workshop. There was no point in continuing the torture. Instead I curled up with my journal for awhile, then packed, visited the Kripalu store, put my things in the car and checked out.

After a delicious lunch (the food at Kripalu is amazing) I headed for home.

While I didn't like the Empower Flow stuff, I don't regret a single minute I spent at Kripalu. I needed the break and, while it wasn't what I expected, the trip forced me to see what was going on inside and trust myself, even if it meant accepting that I am not full of fun right now.

By Sunday night I had a grip on the teaching stuff, and I went into Monday's classes prepared and organized. I feel like my teaching has been reinvigorated. My personal practice, on the other hand, has mellowed into something very gentle. I'm trusting that this is where I need to be.
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Trusting Myself, Part 1

Kripalu CenterImage via WikipediaI came home after five days at Kripalu feeling like my mind was a ping pong ball, bouncing between the mundane challenges of teaching yoga (and life in general) and the contemplation of some inner wisdom that surfaced during my stay. All week I have been torn between wanting to put some new teaching skills to work and the desire find a lonely mountaintop where I can just sit and think.

In the end, teaching won out (of course), and cold rain dampened my mountain climbing desire. I did manage to find enough quiet time to wrangle the stampeding thoughts about my trip enough to be able to share some of them.

I participated in two workshops while I was at Kripalu, Nourishing the Teacher, taught by Danny Arguetty and Anjali Budreski, and Seane Corn's Empower Flow Yoga. The former was intended to benefit my students, the latter was meant to be fun for me. But what does yoga teach us about expectations?

Yeah, a funny thing happened on the way to Kripalu ...

About a week before my trip I was planning to call and cancel. My father suffered a "cardiac event" and was going to need open-heart surgery very soon. He had an appointment with the cardiac surgeon during my planned time away, and I didn't want to be two hours from home if the surgeon deemed emergency surgery necessary. My mother pointed out that they wouldn't have waited a week if it was truly an emergency, and insisted I go.

In the days before I left, I was faced with some new issues regarding my son's SPD, a conflict popped up at the church for one day when I have classes scheduled, and I had a mountain of housework to catch up on. It wasn't until I arrived at Kripalu and found my way to the afternoon yoga class that I realized how much stress I was holding in my body.

That yoga class was the first class in six months I'd been able to take from another teacher. As I settled into the asanas I was very grateful to be able to be the student, just being on the mat without thinking three or four poses ahead. I explored all the tight spots in my body and became very aware of how much my mind was chattering. Savasana was very challenging. I think I'd forgotten how to do it!

The Nourishing the Teacher workshop started the first evening. I instantly loved Danny and Anjali. While I appreciated how knowledgeable both were, it was their openness and generous spirits that drew me in. Then they threw in some chanting and I was very, very glad I hadn't canceled.

My only problem with the workshop didn't have anything to do with the teachers and had everything to do with me. I couldn't get my head around the actual teaching part. I thoroughly enjoyed the yoga classes they offered us, including a restorative class which released a headache I'd been nursing for almost a week, but couldn't work my way back into the teacher mode. I felt like I had no creativity left, I was nervous talking in front of the other participants, and I fought back tears every time we had to do an exercise. I wanted to be perfect, and when I was critiqued it hurt deeply. I was experiencing self-doubt like I hadn't felt since the very first night of yoga teacher training.

500 hours of teacher training and two years of teaching, down the drain.

On the final morning I declined to do the last practice teach and instead cried through the classes presented by others. As the emotions welled up and spilled out, I settled back into myself. When the last workshop session ended I regrouped and joined the Kripalu vigorous vinyasa class because Danny was teaching it. I had a great practice and really felt present. Later that afternoon I took a gentle yoga class which left me feeling very peaceful.

Nourishing the Teacher lived up to it's name, not because I came away feeling like a better teacher, but because it truly nourished me, the scared and overwhelmed yogini, when I needed it most. I am very grateful to Danny and Anjali for creating space where I could be nurtured and retreat. And I trust that my experience was as it was meant to be, with no disappointment or regret.

That evening Seane Corn's workshop started, the one that was supposed to be fun for me. And that is a whole other story...
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Friday, October 15, 2010

Third Day Torture

I made it through my time at home this afternoon without turning the television on. I worked on a newsletter for a few hours with nothing but the sound of typing. It seems my computer runs much faster without Netflix streaming in the background.

Another reason I am more productive without TV.

Now it's Friday night and my husband is torturing me by watching television in the other room. Luckily we have totally different ideas about what makes a good show, so I have no interest in watching. I'm going to curl up in bed with a good book (the one I need to have read for the workshop I am taking at Kripalu on Wednesday).
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Water, water everywhere...

Adirondack Park, oblique view, computer image ...Image via Wikipediaand lots of it is unsafe to drink.

October 15th is's Blog Action Day. On this day bloggers around the world are asked to post about the same issue. This year it's water.

Living by the side of a beautiful lake in the Adirondack mountains, where melting snow keeps the rivers running, you might think that clean water isn't an issue I'd be concerned about. You'd be wrong.

Adirondack Park, the 6 million acre area of public and private land in New York State which was meant to be preserved wilderness, is suffering some of the worst damage in America from acid rain. Almost 25% of our lakes are "dead," no longer able to support the aquatic plants and animals that once thrived. Sadly, most of the acid pollution comes from outside of New York State, carried on air currents from Midwestern power plants, so New Yorkers are forced to rely on the inadequate Federal Clean Air Act for relief. Other pollution comes from the north, outside of the United States and even Federal jurisdiction. Our lakes are sitting ducks, so to speak.

Mercury is accumulating in our lakes as well, turning the remaining fish into toxic food. Run-off from chemical fertilizers and road salt also affects the lakes, creating smaller versions of the Gulf algae blooms. Invasive plants and animals, carried from lake to lake on unwashed boats, kayaks, wetsuits (yes, triathletes, your wetsuits), etc. choke out the natives and further upset already precariously balanced eco-systems.

There was a time when we could drink the lake water, fish were plentiful and no one got "swimmers' itch." That time has passed. Schroon Lake still tests okay, but we may be fighting an uphill battle.

Schroon Lake has a very active lake association fighting the battle. Members volunteer their time to collect water samples, look for patches of invasives like Eurasian Milfoil and inspect boats at launch ramps. I'd like to say we were winning, but really we are just not losing, yet.

Clean water is a huge problem worldwide, and I'm sure many blog posts will cover the unsanitary conditions in developing countries. There are many charities you can support to help. But after you send your donation, take a moment to think about the seemingly plentiful water that flows out of your faucets and what would happen if it was suddenly gone.

We can't live without water. If you've got clean water, protect it. Fight for cleaner power, organic farming and ecosystem restoration, before none of our water is safe to drink.
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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Two TV-Free Days

Kitchen faucetImage by Fujin via FlickrI washed the breakfast dishes without turning the television on! It seems the faucet works even when the television is closed up in its cabinet. Who knew?

After the morning started, I really didn't have much time to miss the TV. My dad had a cardiac catheterization this morning and found out he'll need open heart surgery pretty soon. He is supposed to be sitting quietly and not using the hand that had the catheter, which is totally against my dad's nature. He also couldn't be left alone in case he started bleeding or having chest pains. I spent my free time "dad-sitting" so my mom could go to the pharmacy.

My dad decided to watch television while I was there, but, honestly, he just sits with the remote and flips channels endlessly, so even if I had watched I wouldn't have gotten to see more than 5 minutes of anything. Instead of watching, I pulled out one of my "to-do-when-I-have-a-minute" things I carry around in my bag and worked on that.

Tomorrow I'll be spending hours at home. Let's see if I can do bookkeeping and newsletter stuff without Hulu running in the background.
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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

One Day without Television

The first day without TV was hard, but could have been worse. I've had plenty to distract me today and didn't spend much time at home.

The worst parts of the day were this morning, before I left for errands and appointments, and right now, at the end of a crazy day, when some mind-numbing television show would be welcome. I'm holding out, though. I'm going to bed early and hopefully getting a decent night's sleep.

One day done. Twenty to go.
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Fall Cleanse

LaubBlätter10Image via WikipediaAfter a really good teleclass with holisticguru, I set out to plan my fall cleanse. I was thinking about 4-5 days of steamed veggies, maybe with an all-liquid diet day in the middle. But a funny thing happened on the way to the organic grocery store...

Every now and then the universe gives us a moment of insight. My most recent one came while I was sitting at my kitchen table, having just finished lunch. Season 3 of Nip/Tuck was streaming on Netflix and I was doing some journaling about this week's drawing class. I'd given myself half an hour to write, then I had other things to do around the house. I was already behind on my housework since I wasted the morning before class watching television.

But the episode of Nip/Tuck wasn't over in 30 minutes, so I decided I'd better eat something else so I had a reason to keep sitting there.

That's when the moment of insight hit me. My whole relationship with food suddenly made sense. I wasn't eating to nourish my body. I was eating to avoid unpleasant household chores. I was eating to avoid the physical and mental challenges of working out, running a business, meditating and writing. I don't down a bag of potato chips to satisfy a craving for crunchy or salty food. I put junk food in my body so I have an excuse to be sitting on my butt watching television instead of doing the things that will get me closer to my goals.

I get caught up in television. I have a hard time being in the house without the TV on, especially if I'm alone. If something catches my interest, I'll stop what I'm doing, grab something to eat and sit down to watch. I eat because in my head that justifies the wasted TV-watching time. I'm "taking a break and having a snack." Then I keep having snacks so I can keep watching until I'm forced to drag myself away because I have to be somewhere.

I feel guilty because the bed never got made, since I can't see the TV from the bedroom. I didn't write because I am too into someone else's story to create my own. I didn't get on my yoga mat because I'd have to turn off the television to focus. I didn't go to the grocery store because I needed to see the end of the movie. I stayed up too late watching and couldn't get up early for a workout. I look back on my day and feel like a failure and wonder where all the time went.

Television is toxic to me. It clouds my mind and zaps my energy.

So I decided my fall cleanse isn't about food. Since I'm not having any physical or digestive issues and my weight is what it should be, diet changes can wait. I need to change my relationship with television and stop using it as a distraction from those scary, challenging things I should be focusing on. I'm going on a 21 day television fast.

For the next three weeks, I will leave the TV off and I will not stream Netflix or Hulu on my computer. I will send the Dexter DVD back to Netflix unwatched. Cold turkey.

Today is day one. I'm having a hard time deciding what to do with myself. I'm having arguments with myself about my decision. I'm convinced I can't wash the breakfast dishes without the TV on. Luckily I can get out of the house for a good part of the day for appointments and errands.

More later...

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