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.
I am not flexible. That is not really true. As a yoga teacher I have greatly improved my physical flexibility with practice and patience. But if I look at myself compared to others, specifically other yoga teachers, children, those who are double jointed or acrobatically inclined, I am not flexible. There is much more to this though and if I look through the narrow lens of body image and ego I make judgments about myself that serve only to hinder my growth.
I am flexible. At the age of 60 I can move into poses I could not have done in my twenties. It is work and devotion to keep moving toward growth and includes the knowledge that God strengthens and uplift me to overcoming fear and my own self inflicted limitations.
I am flexible. Through life events and changes I have learned to be flexible in attitudes and beliefs. Change is a good teacher if we allow it to be and God’s grace is always available to help along the way.
This week I will continue my physical practice of flexibility but will also spend time to look in. To seek awareness of how others and my own thoughts and ideas hinder growth. As trees sway in the wind, I hope to sway in the winds of life, firmly rooted and grounded in God’s grace as well as growing tall and strong, remaining flexible.
May your week be filled with flexibility and growth in mind, body and spirit.
Moving through Sun Salutations in my mind and heart, another steps on to the deck to practice. Her mat ready and her mind set on movement of body with focus and intention….she is present.
My mind tends to jump ahead more often than it slips behind but at times the review of events is appealing as well.
Sweeping my arms to the sky with a gaze toward heaven….I know it’s not there.
Diving slowly to surrender is where I find it. Letting go the grip of burdens and attachments in worldly terms there is a peace that enters.
Stepping back to open my heart in acceptance. What is……is. The gifts of release….
To Just Be
Breathing in the Son rise there is nothing left to do or that can be done to enter this state of Grace.