I really enjoy musicals, I also enjoy walking in nature and spending time with my family who I love. These things are a part of who I am in only small measure. The deeper me, the one full of experiences in this life is sometimes more difficult to get to know. Sometimes I am full-out in the sun, clear and bright. But there are places, experiences within me that are beneath the water or hidden under the protective overgrowth of scars that keep me walking through life pretty happy. Every now and then though, when a bump in the road suddenly appears, I get thrown off kilter.
Breath is life, without it we literally can’t exist. Inspiration filling us revives as the exhalation emptying creates release. Our yoga classes always begin with the breath. Feeling and deepening the breath. Then to just be, to sit with the breath as we feel this body we inhabit. Noticing tension or heaviness we can breathe into these spaces with our imagination. We become fully present as we focus on breath and body. And then, sometimes, a wondrous awareness occurs. Emotions may rise, joy or sorrow, strength or fear and connections occur to let us know a deeper part of ourselves that has been hidden away, waiting to be revealed.
This week I had the opportunity to explore some of those places within as I moved from breath, to body, to awareness, in Gestalt Pastoral Care class. A new opening to grace as I shed tears that washed away debris and allowed light to reveal a new knowing of myself. The song from “The King and I” began running through my head this morning, “Getting to Know You” “Getting to know all about you, getting to like you, getting to hope you like me. Haven’t you noticed, suddenly I am bright and breezy. Because of all the beautiful and new, things I’m learning about you, day by day” Written by Oscar Hammerstein II in 1951, in the play a teacher is singing to her new and foreign students. But I sing it to myself with joy and anticipation to greet the child, teen, adult within me and uncover the beauty and mystery of my life. I learn that deep sorrow and pain can be a wonderful teacher and that I am never alone on the journey. We can walk the road together.
May you get to know and love yourself.
The woods declare the Glory of God. This was the thought that came to me as I took a walk this weekend. It has been my experience that everything is a lesson but I find that nature is an exceptional teacher. Each stroll or view provides new insights into who I am and where I fit in the creation. Each meditation on the beauty in the stillness speaks volumes better than the A – Z in my old Britannica Encyclopedia.
Take a walk with me in these woods, silent except for bird and cricket song. The scent of pine occasionally breezes by. The soft floor of old leaves, moss and acorns provides a silencing of footfall and a gentle ground to stand. Some trees are so tall, high above our heads as they reach for the sunlight. Others, small and thin sit in their shadows with anticipation of growth. Some of the larger trees bear scars of natures effects, broken branches, leaning and bent in unusual growth. The sun which covers the tallest of tree tops filters down to gently touch the ground in a mosaic of light and dark. The smallest trees and bushes receiving only a small ray of the warmth. It is peaceful, it is beautiful, it is in some places rough and dark.
What did you notice or feel? I became aware of challenges. I wondered did the slow growth and protection of the small struggling trees create a stronger taller tree in the end? I think, they can’t uproot themselves to move into the sunlight so they must grow upward. I see children, ours, who struggle in shadows, I see elders, bent and scarred yet still tall and strong with the experiences of growth brought about by things they could not control. And in their lofty stance protecting the little ones. In the sunlight I felt the Creator of it all dappling down and calling each one to grow. It was then I thought, the Woods declare the Glory of God.
May today provide an awareness of God in nature and an insight into challenges.
My yoga practice is much like my faith practice. There are days that I can flow through with grace and ease. The path seems lit with promise and I know the way. Movement through breath and asana (poses) is a lovely dance that stirs up joy. Then there are days that are hazy, what seemed clear yesterday is distant across the far horizon of a day. I stand at the edge and choose to wait and see.
I step to my mat, thankful to God for the day and my breath. Practice becomes waiting. No flowing here with ease but holding on to each movement as the breath moves me deeper. As each movement of body, stretch with breath, release begins. The haze begins to clear and as muscle and bone remember how far they can stretch so too my heart and mind recall that the promise of yesterday is still the promise of today and tomorrow. Looking at the horizon while grounded on this far shore becomes an act of faith. What will happen there is unknown to me but known by the One who is my guide, who goes behind and before me.
Here I wait, not frozen but flowing I dip my toes into the day and wade into the promises of Love. May your day be blessed as you wait.
I saw a bumper sticker years ago that said, “I do yoga for savasana” It struck me as funny because it is mostly true, for me anyway. I step onto my mat for my body and about halfway through practice I am ready to lay down and meditate. It seems that Friday, for most is that savasana we can’t wait to get to. It is the end of a workweek and a the beginning of a weekend filled with promise. By Wednesday, now termed “hump day” those of us starting work on Monday are already rushing to Friday. During the weekend there is time to rest and relax, spend time with family, go to parties or have one for friends. Time to sleep in or time to catch up on the chores we let slip during our busy week. So we begin many Monday’s just looking forward to Friday. Sometimes when there are longer term goals in mind even the weekend is difficult to rest in. My savasana is sometimes restless with anticipation of what is to come.
My work week is no longer Monday through Friday but I still hold some of the old habits of rushing through anything to get to my purposed goal. I love that God reminds me (knowing I need constant reminding) that life’s journey is not about the middle or the end, it’s about the beginning. When we set an intention or goal for our work, when it has purpose above collecting a paycheck, the week is full of growth and grace. This week I am working at camp. It’s an easy place to discover God’s work. The beauty of the place aside, it is Holy Ground to me. Stepping on my mat this morning I enjoyed each movement and what it could teach me. My tightness about work that needs to be done today settles in my shoulders and jaw, I breathe and let it go. A wonderful Gestalt phrase is “What is happening now”. I set a new intention of momentous awareness.
In this week filled with promise I promise to look beyond each whole day to see the present. I seek to find rest in each day even for a short time so that I need not glare into the future. To look in instead of looking out or past. I intend on loving and living in each moment and rely on God’s grace of reminders to live fully and appreciate instead of anticipate.
Thank you to Meg who is teaching at the Library and the studio this week. Enjoy her practice and teaching.
May you be blessed this Monday and each day of this week.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. [2Co 1:3 RSV]
Some days what I see right in front of me are challenges and when I attempt to see beyond them anxiety empties me and I am filled with lethargy. I can choose to go with this feeling, to sit in self-absorbing distress in front of the TV with a bag of chips. And believe me, I have done this. Or, I can turn to what I know is true. Love.
Another word for Comfort is Contentment – Santosha is the Sanskrit word for contentment and is one of the Niyamas (rules of behavior) in the eight limbs of yoga. It means finding peace within you when outer experience causes distress. The big things, like losing a loved one or loss of a job or home can be overwhelming and comparably small things like financial difficulty, conflict at home or work or just having way too much on our plate create emotional and physical pain. Even the anticipation of these creates dis-contentment. What it is within me that can bring relief? “To be or not to be” content is really the question.
It is interesting that in New Testament Scripture (NIV) Jesus never used the word “comfort”. He does use the word “Love” 217 times. “Love God , Love your neighbor, Love your enemy” are foremost in his direction. He goes on with stories of what that looks like. It is the decision to Love God and not money, it is the generosity of sharing loaves and fish, and it is the help toward healing of the Samaritan. It is in His example to go into the garden or up on the mountain alone to pray that I find my direction.
In the quiet space and time of meditation I focus on Love. I use it as a mantra along with “peace be still” (Mark 4:39 ) to slow my breath and busy mind. Here I come to the truth of Love. Love is not always comfortable but it always comforts and God’s love fills my empty spaces with light so that I can see there is nothing in the present or future that can’t be healed. I remember with gratitude those who have and will help me and I am inspired to be a help of Love to others. Peace and contentment fill me now, for this day.
May you find peace and contentment this week.
Everything is wet….rain and more rain creating soggy ground and it seems a mushy brain and body. Still, the new plantings in the garden grow taller by the minute and their greens become greener. Droplets glisten on their leaves. For me a time to sit and read, clean out a closet and take a nap. . A rainy day can be splendid after a week of hot dry days. But a rainy week?? After a few days I become lazy, I feel too tired to take on any chores or read (as that seems to send me directly to nap-time).
I made an attempt, really I did. In the yoga studio I practiced sun salutations with the intention of warming up my inner being, getting that light to shine from within. I forced myself to tidy up some spaces and prepare for upcoming events, but the things I usually like to do were onerous. And on this particular Sunday I attended the funeral of a long-time family friend.
Now this week of rain seems different. It is still wet and even soggier in the garden but the plants are not complaining. Perhaps they know that warmer, drier days will be coming so they drink it all in now. Death reminds us of our terminal physical nature and a funeral in the rain seems appropriate. The hearts of those who remain are waterlogged with grief yet still full of wonderful memories and blessings for having known such a man.
There is no controlling the weather; there is no keeping back the rain, or the tears. Our physical mortality eventually claims us. . There is a time for everything and in the every things a time for us to drink it all in. Learn lessons, clean out the closets, take a nap and wait, for the sun will come out. Life has changed as it is always doing and I can choose to turn my face to the rain, slosh my feet in the puddles or take a nap. Whichever I choose, I pray to do it with an awareness of the blessings that arrive even when the rain keeps coming. At the end of the day it is my faith in God that opens my eyes to the blessings of the rain, the continuity of life in changing seasons and the hope of life eternal.
May you have a blessed week no matter the weather.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Do you ever wish someone would just come to their senses and do the right thing? Do you ever think that about yourself? I know that many times I do not. I can be quick to point the finger away from myself and slow to turn the wrist the other way. What’s up with that? Finger pointing is not a yoga pose, nor is it helpful in relationships. A very famous and humble teacher once said, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2
Sensibility is the coming to know your-self and how we see that self in our relationship with the world and with others. It is also awareness of our presence in a space and time. When I am excessively occupied with activities, things-to-do and worry, my sense of self is diminished. I separate myself from what is present and important, from people and from God.
Every time I teach a yoga class we begin by creating awareness. We feel and deepen our breath; we feel our feet or bottom on the floor. We begin to feel – become sensitive to the space we are in. It is a part of what I have been studying in Gestalt Pastoral Care courses that demonstrate how we hold wounds, physical and emotional in parts of our body. And in our human nature to protect our image of self we bury the hurt, the shame or the fear. We get busy or overeat or use substances to entomb the feelings.
So often in my own Gestalt work I come to the truth that the flaws I see in others are present in my own wounds. In the practice of yoga the asana (poses) opens areas of the body we hold closed much of the time. The breath combined with movement may bring about feelings or sensations that rise to our awareness. The time of meditation opens space to experience internal and external sensations. We become sensitive to our inner being and can explore our self while God’s grace meets us there.
When I practice this, a light of compassion always rises in the morning of my soul. Others become mirrors for me instead of irritations, and I learn. Yet still I avoid or distract myself and a reminder comes that urges me to get out the mat and get to work.
This week I pray you are open to your senses, all of them. And that you find your-self growing to find peace and compassion for yourself and others.