Description of Guided Practice:
The teacher, Pattabhi Jois, was known to say: “Practice and all is coming.” With these words, he affirmed the effort of committing to practice while detaching from perfecting or receiving anything from that practice. We can cultivate a trust in our own meditation practice. By simply arriving to the moment, breath by breath, day by day, the practice will impact us. We need not fixate on perfecting the impact of our practice or rushing the timeline of our transformation. This 10-minute practice can be done reclining or sitting upright. It includes guidance for cultivating awareness of the present moment, and explores a breathing technique/pranayama for slowing down overactive thinking.
When you feel like there is no time to sit -- that is exactly when you should sit. A teacher shared this lesson with me early in my practice. I was in my twenties and certainly not regular in my efforts to sit still and find mindful awareness. But I find that sayings that hold truth tend to stick with me. They rise up out of my mental mud when I do not expect them, but when I desperately need them. Such has been the case this month.
Preparations continue at home for our house to go on the market. I browse Craigslist constantly for housing near Amherst, Massachusetts. My husband and I decide which of our belongings go into storage, get pitched, or are necessary to keep. I create lists of to-do's that inevitably fall short of the tasks that arise in the process of packing up a life and selling a home. It's hard to stay focused on the present.
I don't become a full-time student of speech pathology until September, but the coward in me dreams of leaving Maryland now just so that I don't have to watch my life here fall apart and dissolve.
The indigenous world view teaches that there are no endings -- there are instead cycles. Things arise, flourish, decay, and rest. I know this period of my life is not an ending... but it is hard.
This month's meditation was recorded inside the closet of my downstairs study. The closet has been staged with properly-folded linens and is devoid of clothes to make it look bigger. The word "swan song" kept coming to mind as I sat for this recording. If I could record one "last" (for now) practice, what would I want to share?
The following meditation is what came out of that session. Listening back to it, I hear a hope that I have for myself and for all of us - that we can trust the simple things and let our practice do the work.
Play Guided Practice:
Description of Guided Practice:
The premise of this short guided movement/breathing practice is to enjoy the feeling of free fall through suspension and release of your breath and body. Within the practice, we pair a simple breathing technique with movement to inspire a feeling of levity and joy. It is a wonderful way to greet the morning.
Find a space where there is room to stand, to extend your arms fully over your head, and for your arms to swing before you. The practice concludes with the poem "Why I Wake Early" by Mary Oliver.
Last week, I went to my first yoga-fusion body flow class - it was at a gym in an office park and the instructor wore a microphone and played pop tunes while we all moved together. It was exactly the type of experience I had neglected over the past several years somehow deciding that walking outdoors and practicing yoga in a studio were all I needed. Treadmills were whirring in the background and people were walking into the class 15 minutes late. And despite feeling a little disoriented, I found myself really getting into the movement. I found it… FUN.
There’s evidence now about rising levels of the hormone serotonin associated with longer daylight hours, which makes us feel a "spring fever." It is the feeling of wanting to blow off EVERYTHING we have built into a stabilizing routine. Questioning what we have prioritized in our life. Yearning to do something different. Maybe this was why I said “Heck yeah!” when my neighbor invited me to go to the class. Maybe that’s why I started questioning my relationship with yoga and meditation.
I find practicing yoga and meditation to be therapeutic, calming and fortifying. But, I couldn’t describe my current relationship with these practices as “new” or “fun.” And I have been missing FUN this winter. When I look more closely into past "fun" experiences, they are often moments where I have felt a little off-center.
So, this week, I’ve been sitting with that. I’ve always turned to my practice to feed, balance, and center me - what would it look like to turn to it for fun? Are there places for more fun in a spiritually-based discipline? And if so, where? How?
On the car ride home from class, my neighbor asked me, “What is the last new thing that you’ve tried?” Hmmmm. New, new, new…. Hmmmm. I literally got stuck in a mind loop. I visualized my daily routine built around enjoying my husband, home, family and dog, saving money, studying for grad school this fall, and doing my yoga and meditation. I could not come up with an answer in that moment. Can you? What is the last new thing you've tried?
This month, I’ve recorded a short breathing/movement practice that is a variation on the Breath of Joy. I’ve been known to incorporate this very movement in yoga classes after tough balancing poses where people end up scowling or silently berating themselves for their imperfect efforts. It never fails to erase the scowls and lighten the tension in the room. I find it very fun to practice.
Here’s to spring fever and to investigating our relationships with having fun and trying something new.
Play Guided Audio Practice
When my courage flags and I feel vulnerable, I wish I could remember (but I am also thankful that I can’t) what it was like to be born two months early. As a newborn, the lining of my lungs (and the lungs of my twin sister) were incomplete in their development making it harder to breathe with each breath. The doctors placed our tiny bodies inside of separate incubators and the nurses took endless blood samples to ensure that our oxygen levels stayed low enough to prevent permanent blindness and brain damage.
A few days later, I would be moved for surgery - an opening between two blood vessels leading from my heart had not closed properly at birth. Rushed to another hospital, where the opinion was that premature newborns do not have fully-developed nervous systems and therefore will not feel “as much” pain during a surgery (which the doctors told my parents as they explained that an incorrect dose of anesthesia to such a tiny, fragile body could be fatal) I underwent a surgical catheterization fully-conscious. The scar from that surgery has grown with me down the length of my left shoulder blade - a long thin thread with six puncture marks on each side from the stitches.
The repair to my heart was miraculous, and my symptoms were improving. I was moved back into the hospital of my birth, where my twin sister was still receiving care. But, I was not done fighting. The trauma from the surgery and normal loss of weight following birth meant that I would remain in the hospital for several more weeks until I reached 4lbs. 10oz. During this time, I’ve been told I constantly fought to pull the oxygen tubes out of my nose.
My sister and I came home on Christmas Day from the neonatal intensive care unit. Our bodies were still small enough for the nurses to tuck us inside of stockings.
It’s believed that the states of life where we are the most fragile are the beginning and the end. Yet, every time I am reminded of the story of my birth I am also reminded of a truth that can exist for each one of us: When we are at our weakest, we learn to fight our hardest.
When I was at my weakest, I certainly fought my hardest.
To remember that means all the world now.
Guided Meditation Description
The premise of this meditation is that you are indomitable. The times when you feel your weakest are also the times when you learn to fight your hardest. This meditation is a contemplation on the strength that arises when we are vulnerable. Indomitable translated from Latin means “not able to be tamed.”
In this meditation, we use hand gesture (Kali mudra) and a special breathing technique (ujjayi pranayama) to deepen our concentration. We follow this practice with the poem “Affirmations” by Eve Ewing and close with a brief period of unguided/silent sitting. You may find it more comfortable to be seated for this practice due to the hand gesture, but choose any position (standing or lying down) that allows you the most comfort and stability.
I've been adding up my numbers. God, this is a hard task. Taking stock of where my income came from in 2018 and where I see my income coming from in 2019. My brow feels like it is going to implode and my shoulders feel like a million ants are crawling inside of them. As all this is happening, I have students who are nearing the month-long mark of furlough due to the government shut down. I know that my story is one among many.
There is a quote I have been keeping near during this time: "If you take care of the moment with integrity, the future will take care of itself." I return to this quote as I stare at the numbers and follow a calling I received in September of 2017.
In the fall of 2017, my intuition said "It's time - you can't keep doing what you are doing and grow." It said: "Go back to school and focus on helping people who struggle to speak. Use your voice and all you have learned up to this point to help others reconnect with their voices."
At the time, this directive relieved me. I was 36 years old and had spent the past seven years of my life teaching yoga and meditation for a living. I was in love with the work, with the students I worked with, and the teachers-in-training I mentored. But, I was constantly worried about earning enough money. Six years in, I was just making enough to cover my bills and my self-employment taxes while my husband covered our larger expenses. My intuition sensed that something needed to change if I ever wanted to earn enough to contribute to our savings, donations, or retirement one day.
I was also becoming more curious about bringing the teachings of yoga and meditation to people with severe needs - those in a medical settings (hospitals, hospice, and nursing-care facilities). In August of 2017, I reunited with a college friend who was studying Speech Language Pathology and working to merge poetry and writing into therapy sessions with stroke survivors. I felt a deep pull in my gut - a pull that said, PAY ATTENTION. FOLLOW THIS THREAD. As I learned more about the field and reflected on my journey, the calling came. In a few clear, crisp images, I clearly saw myself working as a speech-language pathologist who incorporated the teachings of yoga, Ayurveda, and meditation into her therapy sessions with adults who were struggling to speak.
After the relief of finding clarity and inspiration for my next steps, reality set in. I had 12 courses (36 credits)-worth of pre-requisites to complete before I could apply for a Master's program that would entitle me to certification as a Speech-Language Pathologist. And, even more daunting, I was not entitled to federal financial aid/student loans because my pre-requisite courses were not considered a “degree-path program.” My estimated expenses totaled about $12,000 out-of-pocket.
Intuition is a powerful thing for me. This, along with the support of my husband and family, were no doubt what helped the calling stand up to these obstacles. In November of 2017, I began studying for my GRE placement exams and attending open house programs for several SLP programs in the metro-DC area.
As I write this, I am 7 out of 12 prerequisite courses down (with a 3.9 GPA!) and have pending applications in to three Masters Programs in Speech-Language Pathology. Last year, 19% of my income went towards tuition, fees, supplies and applications to graduate school. This semester, I've had to let go of several income-generating yoga classes and training programs to focus on my Speech Pathology studies (this spring semester, I am one credit shy of a full-time student course load by taking three classes and two labs.)
The total estimated costs for my Spring and Summer 2019 semesters including tuition, fees, and textbook rental are $6,933. I am also looking to replace my aging laptop this year. My family and husband have supported me throughout this journey. In writing my story, I am hoping to share my good fortune back with them with contributions from those who follow my teachings and work. If you are among those who believe in the power of yoga and meditation, the efficacy of speech and language therapy, or have benefited from my teachings on Insight Timer, you can help me through this gap period. I am offering several thank you gifts (including original audio files of guided meditations and one-on-one sessions - see full list of gifts and how to claim them below my signature**) for contributions. If it is within your heart and your financial means to donate towards this vision, you can do so through my secure, designated PayPal page.
Whether or not you donate to this cause, I do hope that this month's guided meditation will serve you where you are. The premise of the meditation is to remember that you are never alone. While your life and your circumstances are completely unique, there is someone somewhere who can identify with how you are feeling in this very moment. Your story belongs among many.
With gratitude and love,
**Thank You Gifts for Contributions and How to Claim Them**
1) For contributions of $25-49, I will email you an original mp3 file of "Yoga Nidra to Plant a Seed" so that you can listen to this recording even when you have no access to the Internet. Be sure to provide your email address among your contact information and if you prefer no gift, write that in when you donate.
2) For contributions of $50-99, I will email you an original mp3 file of "Yoga Nidra to Plant a Seed" and ANY other guided meditation of your choice (an account of all guided mediations can be found on this audio blog by looking though the archives) so that you can listen to these recordings even when you have no access to the Internet. Be sure to provide your email address among your contact information and if you prefer no gift, write that in when you donate.
3) For contributions of $100 or more, I will set up a 45-minute session with you and guide you through a personalized practice. During this call, you may also opt to ask questions, share challenges, or request inspiration. Be sure to provide your email address among your contact information and I will email you a schedule of my availability. If you prefer no gift, write that in when you donate.
P.S. If you are being affected by the government shut down and you are also looking for support right now, know that both Sky House Yoga and Blue Heron Wellness are offering you free yoga and meditation classes during this time.
The other day I was in a good mood. I left the house early needing time to drive, find parking, and arrive to copy handouts for my 10:00 am yoga class. Leaf change was peaking and the reds, yellows, and oranges were so vibrant outside of my windshield. I felt calm as I came to a stop just a few car lengths from a flagger and the road construction that had shut down the two-way street to a one-lane road. Then, from the corner of my eye, passes a black streak - another car, come from behind to squeak into the gap between me and the flagger.
My instinct was to try to stop the car by rolling down my window and yelling "Hey, what are you doing?!" but I have manual windows and the Mercedes Benz had easily passed by before that could happen. As the driver stopped within a few feet of the flagger, they realized the oncoming traffic wouldn't be able to pass given their proximity. So next, I see their reverse lights flash on.
I have a moment where I think to myself. "Well, now you see why I was stopped where I was!" and just after that, "I'll just stay put so that you can't back up. You'll have to deal with the drivers who can't get past you."
It was petty, and I cringe as I write this. But, at the time, there was this simmering heat that had exploded in the core of my body. An indignant heat that made my anger uncomfortable. And I wanted the person who had made it happen to be uncomfortable too. In that moment, I thought: "YOU have STOLEN my peace."
Eventually, I did back up. The oncoming traffic passed by, the flagger switched his stop sign to a "slow" sign and the driver and I passed. I was only behind that car for a half-minute more before they turned their way and I went mine. But that driver was in my mind for the rest of the morning. At the end of my yoga class, I thought to myself - you know, it wasn't anything personal. It wasn't "YOU stole my peace." Maybe more like "Your ACTIONS stole my peace."
But event that thought didn't take away the charge. Another hour later, after teaching my second yoga class, I recalled the situation again. My temperature rose instantly at the memory. I thought to myself: "No, the driver did not steal your peace. Their actions may have momentarily stolen your peace, but your reaction to their actions are what is continuing to steal your peace. It's you sister. YOU." And with that, I let out a DEEP sigh -- heat rushed out of my mouth.
I can't speak for all yoga teachers, but I am not perfect at equanimity. It's easy for me to hold on to the sweet moments and the frustrations long after they are over. I ruminate and revise the response I SHOULD have had in the moment countless times throughout the hours that follow it. And that's exactly why I practice meditation and yoga. Sweet lord I do not know WHERE I would be without these practices given that this is where I am with them :)
As 2018 rolls to a close and we get the reminder that nothing lasts forever and everything will pass, I hope you'll enjoy this meditation for cultivating equanimity.
P.S. I'll be leading a 2-hour practice with gentle yoga, deep relaxation, and meditation on New Year's Eve (Monday, December 31st) from 2-4pm. The practice will provide space to mark the end of the year and to set an intention for 2019. If you are in DC then, I'd love to see you.
Yesterday, I was crying hot, constant tears that I did not know were present within me. I was sitting in a church pew morning the loss of a mentor and friend, and a great teacher Peter Mosher. Since moving to Maryland, Peter has been an amazing guide teaching me so much about the practice of meditation and how to live a contemplative life. Being in his presence often felt like entering an ancient forest -- a sense of wisdom and kindness permeated and I felt comforted.
Sitting in the pew listening to the choir sing “Wanting Memories” while I stared at his picture, I had the thought that crying must be a liquefying of something solid that lives deep inside of me. While still solid, this thing holds tightly to everyone and everything I’ve ever loved. When transformed and released as tears maybe my tight grip on this love will ease ever so slightly. This solid thing is large - the tears are plentiful.
This year, I’ve been asked to return to feeling loss and grief many times over. These are feelings that usually seem distant for me until October hits and I watch the leaves fall. I remember autumn of 2010. That year, I moved from my home in Atlanta up to Maryland and, in the process, I felt the loss of the teacher who first opened my eyes to the depth of yoga and the sacred practices therein. Along with losing her presence, I lost a community that supported my growth and encouraged me to think bigger -- to remember I am more than this body with a set history. I am of something that has been around and will be around indefinitely.
In feeling that I lost my teacher 8 years ago, a gift was born. I slowly learned that my breath could be my teacher. Without the voice and the calming presence of my teacher in the same room with me, I found a new way to tap into peace. Listening to my breath - voiceless, but speaking each time I breathed in and each time I breathed out - I began to learn and grow again.
As Peter’s service went on, the pastor shared one of their last conversations together. When asked what sources were sustaining him through his year-long journey of chronic pain, Peter offered this wisdom: “It may sound simple, but my breath.” Given all of the study, practice, and exploration that Peter had done into Sufism, Buddhism, Kundalini Yoga, Tai Chi and many other faiths and practices, his Pastor concluded succinctly that in the end, the ultimate source of Peter’s strength came from within.
As Peter’s Memorial service concluded, a message that continues to sit with me emerged from a poem offered by another student of his. This student credited Peter for saving her life when she was experiencing the loss of her husband and an enormous mountain of grief. The parting words of this poem were: “Love doesn’t die. People do. When all that’s left is love, give it away.”
I think part of my purpose for being here is to give away these teachings. I’d like to give away this solid thing that lives inside of me, not as tears, but as teachings. In this month’s meditation, I offer a simple practice to connect you with breath. A simple practice to remind you of what is inside of you that can teach you in the midst of loss and in the midst of grief, that some things never die.
NOTE: This recording is 15 minutes long and includes instruction in altered patterns of breathing. There are long pauses and silence within the recording for you to focus on your breath. Remember to return to normal breathing if you feel any discomfort or strain with the given practice, you will still receive benefits.
Last weekend, I made my husband Bobby go on a scavenger hunt. He was out with the car tending to his sailboat and his route took him past several farm stands on his way home. At each one, no cider. ALAS. Earlier this week, not to be deterred, I went to Whole Foods and found (to my great joy!) a quart of organic apple cider beaming out from the back isle of the produce section. As autumn arrives here in Maryland, there is a craving deep in my bones to curl up in one of my grandmother's quilts and sip cider. Ayurveda has taught me how to navigate the change of seasons and the entry of autumn. It offers a description of this time of year being de-stabilizing for the energies of air and space (vata dosha). The teachings say that we find balance when we take time to ground ourselves, increase our warmth, and let go of what is unnecessary through diet, lifestyle, and yoga practice.
In terms of diet, this looks like adding in more well-cooked meals with warming spices - I personally like ginger and cardamom-laced oatmeal for breakfast, followed by some roasted root vegetables and crockpot stews in the evenings. In terms of lifestyle, it encourages us to consider that with the daylight hours growing shorter we might take an activity or two off of our plates to simplify our schedule. In terms of practice, well I can tell you what we did today in Wise Earth Yoga class... we laid on the earth for 3/4 of the practice! We took long-held postures that increased our circulation and created space in the lower part of our backs and in our hips. We dove deep into our legs-up practice (Check out this tutorial - I'll guide you through getting into the posture, being in it, and coming out.) What a profound effect halting activity and literally putting your feet up has for your soul! You can see in the picture above that my dog, Daisy, is totally into the legs-up-the-wall vibe. Shrouding yourself in blankets adds an extra cozy element to this practice - the warmth and weight of being still and covered are undeniably antidotes to excess air/space/vata.
Because I find that the lifestyle of a yoga teacher inherently increases vata energy, I have created an evening ritual to address my further need for grounding, warmth and simplicity. As I settle into bed each night, I call the word "TUCK" out into our house and wherever Bobby is, he dutifully arrives to tuck me into bed. He arranges the covers, lies down on me, and anchors me into place. We lay and breath together for a little while. Sometimes we talk, other times, we just lay. When the tuck happens, I feel all the extra movement and hustle from the day seep out of me and my body and mind never misinterpret this cue for rest.
I hope this month's guided meditation offer you a similar feeling to being tucked, propping your legs, and cozying up - it offers guidance for grounding your body and a soothing soundscape to draw your mind to the moment.
Lots of Love,
This month feels like some sort of destiny fulfilled for me. Eight months in the making, the 10-session course “How to Embrace Your Unique Nature” was released on the Insight Timer app two weeks ago!
I'm not sure where that "destined" feeling comes from, but it's clear that sharing this course feels like a duty to me. The concepts within it have altered my perspective forever and I feel like I owe it to you to explain where I am coming from when I teach meditation and yoga. I've been exploring the concepts in this course for half a decade, since undergoing more rigorous studies in India's traditional healing system known as Ayurveda. On the surface, you might see me as a calm and pleasant yoga/meditation teacher... but underneath this exterior, I can assure you that I am also an in-the-closet perfectionist and a worry wart!
The subtext of this course is that you are not broken. You do not need to be fixed. You are as captivating as the moon on a clear night and as awe-inspiring as the endless waves of the ocean. The beauty that you find in nature is no different than your own. If you take nothing else away from the next few words about these teachings, take away this simple truth and run with it.
I've created this course not to "make you better," but as the title suggests, to encourage full acceptance of you as an intelligently-designed part of the species. You have unique strengths and vulnerabilities that will follow you throughout your life. The course involves 10 recorded sessions, each from 8-12 minutes long, in which you get to study these qualities and traits by studying nature. Through several guided meditations, we explore the five natural energies that combine to create your unique nature. Once you have this framework, then we learn the natural strengths and vulnerabilities of each of theses energies. The course concludes by describing qualities that bring balance to your energy when you are feeling off.
I've always believed that it is best to lead by example, so, I'll offer a personal story on the idea of how the study of nature and Ayurveda helped me to further embrace my unique nature (I'm not claiming a complete embrace just yet, but I've made some good progress!) One fairly common sign of my energy feeling “off” in my life is absent-mindedness. At its least harmful, this pattern used to make me feel like a space-cadet and at its worst, like I fundamentally lacked intelligence and was destined for failure in life. Forgetting appointments and misplacing my wallet during already stressful periods of my life is a pattern for me. Until I studied the concepts in this course, the most frequent ways I related to this pattern were firstly, to berate myself for doing something so stupid AGAIN, and secondly to hide my mistakes and feel ashamed.
I designed this course for others who feel like they have failed to outgrow patterns and qualities that they’ve owned for years and dislike. These aspects could relate to body image, common mental patterns, or emotions they find themselves meeting again and again in their lives. The concepts in this course have softened my internal reactions of shame and self-criticism, as well as, my external reactions of blame and criticism towards those around me.
I still forget the basic truth that I am whole. I forget all the time. When I forget, I turn to nature to remind me. She has not failed me once.
I look forward to sharing more teachings with you in the months to come, whether its through the course or just through my regular classes and meditations. I've attached Lesson 1 from the course below so you might determine if the teachings are something that you'd benefit from. If the lesson speaks to you, the rest of the course can be purchased and listened to through the Insight Timer app. It's $4.99 to "rent" the course or $19.99 to buy the course. I will receive a fair portion of the fees, which will go directly towards my monthly income for things like groceries, my mortgage, and doggie dental chews for my pup Daisy. As a full-time yoga/meditation teacher, this is significant! I am so thankful to Insight Timer for this opportunity.
Another bonus about this course: if you have questions as you listen, you can ask them in the course classroom and I will respond to them in both text and audio form. This means we have a real virtual classroom so that we can keep learning together no matter how far apart we live!
This month I’m acutely aware of the importance of intentions. Not just setting an intention, but remembering it as a priority again and again - no matter what comes and what goes.
This week, I found myself standing inside of a GIANT tile store. Wandering beside me is the designer my husband and I have hired to choose tiles that compliment our personalities (me: organic, zen, cozy; he: classic, elegant, simple.) She is here to break the tie in crucial decisions. Here to co-create a bathroom design that the next owners of our house (if/when it comes time to sell) will not balk at. I am so thankful for her.
But, an hour into our appointment with tile samples beginning to crowd our cart, I get this overwhelming fatigue. There are too many options and this is taking much longer than I planned. I’m getting seriously hungry - bordering on hangry - and I tell the designer I might need to run to the cafe next door to eat. She offers me her apple, and I gratefully eat it in four bites munching on the soft, mealy fruit. But even after the apple, I feel this funk. I’m in this REAL funk. There is something the apple has not fixed. I feel like I’m spinning my wheels. The designer can show me anything right now and I will just smile and nod. I want this to be over. Just get this over with.
After another 45 minutes, I finally extricate myself to my car and begin driving home. I am blasting classical music and practicing sitali pranayama to sooth my hunger pangs and calm my frustration. In the back seat, a dozen samples of tile are clanking against each other with every pothole I hit. I am struggling to figure out what the heck just happened. I’m mad at myself. I’m kinda mad at the designer. Why did everything feel so unfocused? Why did I get this panic reflex when the options started adding up? Then, it hits me.
I showed up without a clear intention.
No surprise, I got lost.
When I feel lost, I get defensive, frustrated and I want to run (“just get this over with.”)
I begin to envision an alternate morning at the tile store. One where I arrive to the store with my own apple, knowing that this appointment might take time. I see myself walking into the store with some tile colors and shapes clearly imprinted in my mind because I’ve spent the night before envisioning and dreaming about what I want. In this vision, I walk down the aisles with purpose, and the exact tiles I want greet me as I go. Yes, I’ll take that classic white honeycomb for the new floor. Yes, I’ll take that soft green sea glass for the shower niche. At the end of this vision, I see myself walking out of the store with a smile - long before lunch hunger sets in.
The vision ends and I’m left with the realization that I don’t get a redo on the tile store.
But, I do get a chance to set an intention for the rest of the afternoon.
I arrive home to my crazy terrier and I greet her with tile samples in my hands. Together, we enter my practice room and I begin to set out a pallet of blankets and bolsters. I pull out the lavender-filled eye mask that a generous student gifted me. I open Insight Timer to the guided meditation section. I type “yoga nidra” in the search bar.
Yoga nidra is a practice I have turned to for deep relaxation before falling asleep, but it has another use entirely. When I am seeking to plant an intention deeply in my subconscious, yoga nidra offers me a beautiful spade and shovel. My teachers have referred to the yoga nidra practice as a way to plant a seed and to trust that it has taken root. Once the seed is planted, I approach my activities after the practice with an altered approach. It’s as if the intention is a light that catches my eye and glimmers at intermittent moments throughout my day. The glimmer makes me pause. Each action I take is colored by that hint of light.
Back in my practice room, I find a yoga nidra NOT designated as helpful for “falling asleep” and I press play. My guide asks me to state my “resolve” for the practice and I find these words:
I will live today in gratitude and I will find my confidence.
The guide asks me to repeat these words twice more, uttering them in the present tense, in simple language:
I live today in gratitude and with confidence.
I live today in gratitude and with confidence.
My guide takes me through a yoga nidra practice. It is over before I realize it. Upon waking, I open my eyes. I turn my head to the side. My terrier has settled in the crook of my arm and the tile samples rest beside us on the floor. It’s like there’s this light in the corner of my eyes glimmering.
I rise from the earth and pick up the tiles. I walk towards the bathroom.
I got this. Thank you.
In this month’s recording, I’ll guide you through a yoga nidra practice. I hope you enjoy.
It is that kind of morning today. Last night, I sat down on the couch with my super-fancy day-planner. I bought it after watching a promotional video that made me cry. After mapping out a game plan for my week, I anticipated this morning being really focused.
But, Daisy dog is super hungry this morning. She wakes me up by rustling around on my bed. When I am unresponsive, she finally puts her paw directly on the center of my chest -- I both love and fear her intelligence. I know it is before 5:00 a.m. because the birds are not yet singing.
I feed her and provide a sluggish walk in the pre-pre-dawn hours. Upon its completion, my whole body spills back into bed. I don’t wake again until 7:10 a.m. LATE. I skip going to my normal spot for practice, and prop myself up against some bed pillows. My husband is oddly awake (still running on London time after his travels) and he offers to bring me my warm lemon water and a bowl of blueberries in bed. He can tell when I’m struggling. God bless him.
I muddle my way through a shower and drop Bobby off at work. I am still going to get back in time to tackle my carefully-planned goals. But, as I’m stopped at the red light, I look at my gauge and realize I’m running on empty. I head to the 7-11 just down the street. If I can pump this gas in 5 minutes, I’ll be golden. As the gas flows into my tank, I’m cleaning off a stunning combination of bird poop and pollen from my windshield. I suddenly feel really energized. Bumpy start to the morning, but no big deal. You got this girl! I wipe off the last of the dirty windshield water with the squeegee and plunk it in the bucket and turn to open my door. When I tug the handle, it thunks. It’s locked. Through the window, I can see my car keys sitting on the passenger seat along with my purse and cell phone. All I took to the pump was the debit card.
OK, no big deal. This is not my first rodeo with locking myself out of the car. There is a 90% chance one of the other four doors are unlocked because I have manual locks and I forget to lock my doors. Unfortunately (fortunately?), I have attended to locking my doors this week. OK, but the weather has been super nice after a week of rain, so maybe I’ve left the windows slightly open... NOPE.
I use the 7-11 phone to call Bobby. He assures me that he can come back to meet me via Uber with his set of car keys. His voice momentarily replaces the voice in my head.
In the minutes I am waiting for him to arrive, I berate myself for being so spacy. For inconveniencing Bobby. For mucking up my game plan.
Somewhere deep inside these minutes, however, there is a gift. In these minutes, I realize that I have forgotten.
While I have forgotten, something deep inside of me has known. It knew as it locked my door with my keys still inside. It knew that in embarrassment and helplessness, I would finally check in.
After dropping Bobby at work for a second time, I turn back around, pass the 7-11, and pull into the parking lot at Lake Artemesia.
I follow the tree-lined path to the lake and smell the season’s first honeysuckles. The lake opens up and along its path, red-winged blackbirds hop past and stare from nearby branches. Frogs sporadically croak watching the sun rise higher in the sky. An intersection on the path becomes a cathedral of cardinals; a half-dozen birds swoop in red flashes from tree to tree. Their chirps are as piercing as gospel.
This morning walking the edges of the lake, I feel myself waking up from my forgetfulness.
I am of THIS.
I will forget this simple truth thousands more times.
But I am comforted by this:
Over time, I have learned what my specific brand of forgetfulness feels like. I get better and better at spotting it all the time. All I have to do is tell myself: “You’ve seen the signs, and it’s time,” and I begin the process of remembering.
I pray to remember as many times as I forget.
This Sanskrit mantra is a wonderful reminder:
Purnam adah purnam idam
Purnat purnam udacyate
Purnasya purnam adaya purnam evavasisyate
That is whole; this is whole
From the whole, this whole came
Remove this whole from that whole, what remains is still whole
In this month’s recording, I’ll teach you the mantra. I hope you enjoy.
I get tired when I don't take time every day to stop, breathe and listen. The recordings offered here are guided soundtracks designed to help you take a mental time out and reset.