Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cleaning up, cleaning out and perhaps a bit of procrastination

English: A Miele T8627WP heat pump clothes dryer.
English: A Miele T8627WP heat pump clothes dryer. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Two weekends ago I had a gloriously productive weekend which involved a good deal of yard work, massive amounts of laundry and 48 hours of ignoring my desk, which was, unfortunately, where all the items actually on my to-do list needed to happen.

I couldn't help it. I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I was feeling the need to clean out, and that's what I've been doing. I can now take several steps in a row in my basement without needing to climb over anything. The SPACE is amazing. When I practice yoga and make space in my body, my breath flows right in. Air and energy are doing that in my basement. I almost cry with joy every time I go down there.

The massive amounts of laundry were in part due to the basement cleanup. I uncovered a bunch of hand-me-downs from my nephew that were the size my son needed to be wearing. (Never mind that he's been going around in pants that end slightly above his ankles. I didn't tell him to grow so fast.) I also uncovered three sizes to grow into, which are now sorted and stored. Unfortunately, I also uncovered a large amount of outgrown clothes that we didn't need to save but did anyway. The charity bin in town got filled up.

I also cleaned out my closet. Despite having done this in the fall, I still have too much. I can't blame a shopping habit, because one of the side-effects of choosing a career in teaching yoga is not having extra money for things like clothes. In the past two years, I haven't purchased anything except a new pair of running shorts and a package of underwear. (You can ask the dog why I needed the latter.)

I'm getting better at letting go. The charity bin received my last suit, the one I had hung on to in case of a job interview or a funeral. After four years of freedom I'm pretty sure I would go insane in an office, and I managed to get through a couple of funerals without having to resort to my suit. It went, and perhaps it will serve someone else. The bin also received most, but not all, of my "dress up" clothes. After throwing a long tunic over my yoga pants and *gasp* brushing my hair, I was told "it's so nice to see you out of your yoga clothes." Clearly I can fake it well enough not to require actual dressy outfits. I did save my sexy black pants that are slit up the sides of the legs in case I get invited someplace classy. Hey, a girl can dream.

My husband and I cleaned up outside, mowed, mulched and planted. Although the summer solstice is a month away and we're still burning wood to keep the house warm, Memorial Day weekend feels like the start of the summer season and I needed to be ready. I also needed to be outside, where it was sunny until it started raining. And raining, and raining, and raining...

Now that the house is ready for summer, I should have no excuse not to get down to business and organize the myriad of summer events and activities on my calendar. I'd been avoiding my desk except as a repository for things that have to be dealt with. I realized I'd let it get out of hand when, in order to find the watch I run with, I had to disentangle a skein of yarn from the telephone cord. (Yes, one of our phones still has a cord. It's the North Country. Sometimes the power goes out.)

A few days ago I cleaned my desk. Now all I have to do is sit at it. I'll do that tomorrow, when it starts raining again.

* * *

In 17 weeks I will attempt my first full marathon. My mother asked me if I think I'll be able to run 26.2 miles. I guess we'll find out.

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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

I'm done

Moore, OK tornado.
Picture by Basehunters
I wrote a happy post about all the things I cleaned out of my house. I'll publish it another time. It seems inappropriate to brag about my clean basement when so many families in Oklahoma lost their homes yesterday.

It's another sad day in America. Watching parents frantically looking for their children in a school parking lot after the tornado hit, I was reminded of how precious life is. And I'm done.

I'm done telling my son I'm too busy for a hug. No matter what's in my hands, what thought I'm trying to hold onto, or what I'm angry with him about, I'll let it go and give him a hug. He's almost ten years old. Even if nothing bad happens, it won't be long until he's too cool to hug his mother. I need to get all the hugs I can now.

I'm done complaining about little inconveniences. Last night we ran out of propane, the fuel for our stove and hot water heater. We cooked pizza in the barbecue grill. We took fast, cold showers this morning. Otherwise, life went on just fine, and our tank was filled by 8:00 a.m. This was not a crisis worth devoting my energy to. Most of life's inconveniences aren't.

I'm done putting off yoga and meditation for a better time. There is no better time than now. The day my floor is covered with the remains of my roof is the day I can say it's not a good time to unroll my mat. Otherwise, I have no excuse not to practice.

I'm done holding onto things just because I feel I should have them. If I lost everything tomorrow, but had my family, I would be okay. My existence would not be diminished because I didn't have a pile of books, Halloween costumes from 2007 and a fondue pot. (Okay, it would be a little bit diminished without the fondue pot.)

I'm done forgetting that the best thing in life is life itself. Let's live life, right now.
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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Making space (and something new) #365Yoga

Chakra Muladhara
Chakra Muladhara (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I recently began leading a series of Chakra workshops. Working through the aspects of the first Chakra, I rediscovered my own imbalances. We all have an energy block or two somewhere. One of mine is at the root.

My root Chakra imbalance shows up as an accumulation of clutter. It's not that I want the stuff. I just don't take the time to get rid of it. I look at my basement and see a mess too huge to deal with in a reasonable amount of time. (Remember when I felt that way about my desk?)

The problem with holding onto stuff, for whatever reason, is that it leaves no room for anything new. The unwanted items not only take up physical space, but they take up space in my mind and block the movement of energy. Rather than being a comfortable, safe place to live, prosper and grow, my house feels like it's closing in on me.

It's time to let go and make space for the energy to flow. The basement, the closets and the kitchen cabinets are about to be purged - a bit at a time.

While I was thinking about making space, my kids were thinking of another way to bring new energy into the house. My Mother's Day gift was a baby bearded dragon, to fill a space in my heart that's been empty for four years. When I need a smile, all I have to do is sit and watch the little guy scamper around the enclosure.

Oh, about that enclosure - it was in the basement collecting dust. There's already more space.
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Monday, May 6, 2013

Turtles and Stardust: Experiencing a Shamanic Journey #365Yoga

Photo of a Florida Box Turtle (Terrapene carol...
Photo of a Florida Box Turtle (Terrapene carolina bauri). Taken in Jacksonville, Florida, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Despite my endless exploration of all things spiritual, I had not, as of last Saturday morning, experienced a shamanic journey. I'm not sure how I avoided it for so long, considering that I've been in the company of shamans a number of times. I really wasn't trying to avoid the practice; there was just never a good time to try. 

True North Yoga hosted a shamanic journeying workshop last weekend, so I finally got my chance. While being led on two journeys I experienced intense physical sensations, including floating, falling and dancing. And I saw turtles.

When I first got my Medicine Cards I pulled my seven totem animals. Turtle was the first card I pulled out of the deck, and is my totem in the East, or the guide to my spiritual challenges. But I haven't seen the turtle card for quite awhile.

Turtle represents Mother Earth in the cards and in a number of cultures. Hindu and Chinese mythology (and Terry Prachett's Discworld series) describe the world as being supported by elephants standing on the back of a turtle. Native Americans call North America "Turtle Island." I wasn't surprised to find turtle in a vision in which I was guided to connect to the earth.

Besides representing earth, turtles might also represent the lunar cycle, protection, perseverance and longevity. Turtles have been around 200 million years or so. They are wise old souls.

In my vision, turtle was stepping deliberately, to the drumbeat, and stirring up stardust. 

I've had a couple of days to consider what turtle means for me, besides the obvious earth connection. A few web authors suggested a need to slow down, to practice patience. Others point to turtle's ability to withdraw, to hide in its protective shell. Both explanations are fitting, but neither feels complete.

Turtle pose adaptation
This morning I led my yoga class into turtle pose (a preparatory adaptation of Kurmasana) and as we were holding the posture I thought about turtle's ability to draw inward. It seemed to me it wasn't so much about fear as withdrawing into perfect stillness, which sounds like Pratyahara, or the withdrawal of the senses, the fifth of the eight limbs of yoga. Perhaps this is something I'm being called to practice.

Sitting on my desk is a wax turtle, meant to be a candle but unlikely to ever be burned. It was sent to me by an internet newsgroup acquaintance, someone I never knew in real life. If you remember newsgroups, you know I've had this turtle candle a long time. (If you don't remember newsgroups, just know that I accessed the newsgroup with a computer that had dual floppy drives to accommodate both sizes of floppy disks. If you don't know what a floppy disk is, please don't tell me. It makes me feel old.) I received this turtle because the person felt I should have it. It has represented earth on my personal altar many, many times. I don't remember how the turtle candle came to be on my desk today, or how long it's been sitting there, but I've decided it can stay. It seems to belong there now.

Now if I could just find some stardust...
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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Awake in the Outdoors #365Yoga

Chalis Pond, North Hudson, NY
We are finally seeing spring in the Adirondacks. When my son and I went for a hike today the temperature was sneaking past 70 degrees and the sky was bright blue. We followed a short trail into a pond, then sat at the edge and watched tadpoles and baby fish play in the water.

My son is starting to experiment with creative writing, and is often trying to imagine settings for his made-up stories. While we sat by the water, I suggested he try noticing as much as he could about the place where we were, to get an idea of the details that make a setting imaginable for others. So we sat, and we looked, and we listened. We even smelled and felt.

How often do we get lost in our thoughts and overlook all the small details of where we are? How much do we miss? What would life be like if we took the time to stop and notice? What if we were truly awake to every moment?

Sitting by the edge of the pond, we woke up. We watched the water ripple in the breeze. We saw the bigger ripples left by surfacing fish and the v's left by water bugs skating by. We watched the light dance in the leaves of the trees. We saw birds and clouds above and below, reflections in the water. We took in the frayed edges of tiny leaves just uncurling from their buds.

We heard the songs of birds, some melodious, some chattering. We heard the muffled voices of two fishermen floating in canoes across the pond. We heard the splash when a fish jumped.

We felt the warmth of the sun and the cool of the breeze. I smelled pine and decaying leaves. My son smelled my deodorant. (I suppose that could have been worse.)

I struggle to meditate with my eyes closed, focusing on my breath. My mind wanders. But out there by the pond, open-eyed, I found the calm awareness that I look for on my meditation cushion. My meditation is to become fully awake, in the outdoors.
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