have you come over? there’s a contest!

My new site, Love Wasting Time, is up and running!

And now you have a way to sign up for posts — direct to your email or reader.

Have you been by?

If not, you’ll definitely want to check out this week’s contest (my first ever!).

You can win a weekend retreat with Pema Chödrön — in the comfort of your own home. This weekend the virtual retreat, Pema Live, will broadcast from the Omega Institute. Pema is teaching on Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change.

Come on over and leave a comment to enter to win.

Oh, and, Blogasana will self destruct in… well, never. But I won’t be posting here anymore. So come over to Love Wasting Time and get all the goods you loved here and more.

xo

 

no beginning, no end. come see my new site!

A couple of years ago I took a workshop on how to deal with holiday stress. The teacher talked about how there is no beginning and there is no end.

As in:

You finally resolved all the issues with your mother and you’ll never fight again.
This will be the start of peaceful holidays because you’ve figured it all out.

Neither of those things are true. We are never “done” with an issue. And things that seem to “start” actually began long ago.

****

Almost two years ago the seed for a new writing idea, a new website, a new direction was planted.

One year ago the idea and site started growing into shape and form.

The site has been complete for almost ten months. I set launch dates which passed by. I tinkered with the copy and design. I even talked about it on Blogasana. Still, no launch.

But folks,

today I am launching.

Here’s the deal:

The site will never be “done.”  Or perfect, or whatever unreal idea I have of how it should be. By launching with it incomplete as it is, I can get a feel for what final accessories would suit us best. The main pieces are here and now (the fun part) you get to check back to watch us try on different details.

The ideas and purpose of the site will also continually evolve. Right now I have planned yoga tip videos, poetry breaks, recipes, free audio classes and meditation and, like Blogasana, writings on life and teaching. You’ll let me know what sticks (please!) and the rest will fall away.

It’s already started. There comes a point when the thing (the idea, the shift in me, and concretely a new website) has already happened, which means the final step (actually launching) isn’t the beginning. This feels reassuring.

It doesn’t need a drumroll. I mean, I’m excited about this new thing, but it doesn’t have to be all fireworks and caviar. I don’t eat caviar anyway. And although I enjoy sparkles, I don’t need to put a lot of pressure on myself by making this a bigger deal than it is (which is a new place to do what I’ve already been doing).

****

I do want you to come over and celebrate with me.

Even though I’m not completely moved in…

And even though I’ll be moving to http://www.lovewastingtime.com (rather than the wordpress site) in the next few days…

And even though it’s not a big deal…

I still want you to come over, check it out and let me know what you think!

Love Wasting Time — ’cause Lord knows we aren’t very good at that.

Come on, check it out!!

.

who’s your number one?

This past weekend in the Enrichment Program we were talking about how hard it is to put ourselves first. To say I’m important.

How hard it is to say This is what I need. This is what I want.

there are things I have to do

Yes, there are. And people who rely on you. Most likely a job, maybe parents, maybe kids, maybe pets, probably a house plant.

I’m not suggesting that we all go around in our own bubbles taking care of only ourselves.

I am suggesting that every day we could aim to make at least one decision that is ours alone.

No to a lunch date.
Yes to a lunch date.
Go to bed 30 minutes early.
Take 15 minutes of alone time.
Take a walk.
Take a bath.
Let someone else make dinner.
Or clean up after dinner.
Put the headphones on and listen to your favorite song.
Or a meditation.

Do the thing you love that you’ve put off because there is no time.

boundaries

I have a friend who has really good boundaries. She says No kindly, but without skipping a beat. She is one of the most loving and supportive people I know, yet she rarely compromises what works for her to accommodate someone else.

It’s also about priorities. My friend is very clear that her health and sanity come first. If she isn’t healthy and sane, how can she be there for her family or friends?

Now, in certain circles you might call my friend selfish. You might wonder how her loved ones feel about her taking care of her own needs, sometimes first.

I can tell you that I feel a great sense of permission to be honest with my friend, and I make commitments to her that feel realistic for me. She has taught me not to over-promise or over-pack my day.

what you think of me is none of my business

Of course, some of our decisions are made from a wholeheartedly selfless place. We want to be of service. For many of us though, my guess is that our motivation is often based on what someone else might think.

How will it look if the house is a wreck?
What will people think if I don’t go to this party?
Everyone will think I’m weak and lazy if I take a lot of breaks in yoga class.

Friends, dare to disappoint. I know we’ve been trained to care about what others think of us (maybe more than how we think of ourselves). But we learned this and we can unlearn it.

The mantra

I am increasing my tolerance for other
people’s disappointment

has been incredibly helpful for me.

I love the idea of taking it a step further and proclaiming that

What you think of me is none of my business.

I just don’t need to know. It doesn’t need to matter.

.

So what is it that you’ve been longing for? What thing do keep saying I wish I could just… ?

Call a sitter. Call a house cleaner. Tell the people you live with you’re going on a walk. They’ll be there when you get back.

And you’ll feel great for having done something for yourself.

photo credit

thought for the weekend

Reflections on Nothingness from Alan Watts. Take four minutes and thirty seconds out of the busyness of your weekend to consider: What really matters? What if it all turned to dust? What if all this hocus pocus is… nothing?

are you not listening?

We’ve had some teenage drama going on in the house with my 15 year old stepdaughter. As a “bonus” mom (my early spin on my role in the hopes of avoiding the whole stepmonster thing) I may have the slight advantage of being the tiniest bit objective. It’s just a little, but in this case a little goes a long way.

In preparation for some of the difficult conversations that have come up, Bubby and I have practiced what he might say. Which has included a whole lot of not saying anything. Understandably, this is hard for him.

It reminds me how important and rare good listening skills are. Creating the space for feelings to be there, not trying to fix, belittle, or bring the focus back to us.

If you haven’t read How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk, it’s a must. It’s not just about talking to kids, but extra bonus if you have them.

If, like Bubby, you don’t have time to read a book, try the following during your next conversation:

1.  Do not respond. I mean, you can nod and make sounds that indicate that you’re paying attention, but don’t offer your opinion, your remedy, your side, your perspective. Get comfortable with silence.

Here’s what happens when I do this with my bonus daughter (BD) — she starts talking again, and then keeps talking, and tells me more than she planned on. I think she also feels less judged and more accepted.

2. Notice what you’re feeling in your body. Do your palms sweat? Is there a knot in your stomach? Do you feel scared, insecure, angry?

Any response we have comes through the lens of our own experience. When I listen to my BD talk about her challenges with her dad, the girls at school or drama with boys, my response is at least in some way colored by my own experiences with my parents, my high school days, my friends and heart breaks.

Once I remember that and feel the reaction in my body, I can offer a more appropriate comment when necessary. But it’s rarely necessary.

Imagine yourself with big, soft ears. Catch all of the dreams and fears and truths of the person sharing and hold them there — perhaps vulnerable or incomplete, perhaps joyful and trembling.

photo credit

 .

yes, salamanders are slow processers. and a free class on the truth.

I spend a lot of time being clever…

in my head.

The truth is I’m not too quick on the draw — I’m a slow processer, like a salamander. I prefer to mull things over thousands of several times before I feel prepared to respond.

I’ve learned to accept and even appreciate this, bar momentary relapses (usually when I’m not feeling grounded or connected, i.e., not taking care of myself), as with a recent conversation with an acquaintance.

She was sharing about how well things are going in her life. Something about it triggered me: I felt a shift in my heart rate, a slight tensing in my solar plexus and instantly a voice in my head said Say something clever, be charming!

Oh, the ego is so delicate.

For better or worse, I spent a good part of a minute trying come up with something to say. Of course, I couldn’t come up with anything. Today I can, but in the moment? No.

And thank goodness.

Not saying anything left the silence and space for her to play out her story (which turned out to not be all sunshine and cherries). And space for me to be in my jealously and watch it shift in my body and eventually move through, leaving yet more space.

I notice something similar when a friend is in need or making a decision. Ooo ooo, I know what you should do!

But rushing in with fixes rob us of the opportunity to let the thing run its natural course. And, like with teaching, how much better is it for a person to find their own way to an answer than for you give it to them? Claiming that you know for them is actually quite arrogant.

In the midst of this interaction I also remembered that we’re currently studying ahimsa and sayta (non-violence and non-lying) in the Enrichment Program.

It was a great reminder that these foundational restraints and observances are a choice. The mindful life takes practice and patience, effort and discipline (but that’s tapas and we’re not there yet:).

Anyway, chances are my acquaintance wouldn’t have thought I was as brilliant and amazing as I’d have wanted her to.

***

In celebration of being more honest with ourselves, here’s a free class practice based on satya. Play with the little ways you exaggerate or deny or camouflage. Let me know how it feels (honestly!).

Click to listen, right click to save or open in iTunes.

It would be great to have a strap or robe tie, padding for your knees, two blocks (or just use the seat of a chair) and a little piece of wall. Don’t let all the stuff scare you — it’s a pretty simple and lighthearted class based around Half Moon Pose.

Satya Beginner Class

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the sunglasses are on the table (and other stories I tell myself)

A couple of weekends ago my husband and I returned from the movies, and I took his sunglasses out of my purse and put them on the dining table.

I put them on the dining table.

Later that afternoon he asked where his glasses were.

They’re on the table, right where I put them.

Except… they weren’t.

.

It may or may not be important to note that we were in an argument when I put the glasses on the table, and when he asked me where they were, and when I told him where they were, and when he couldn’t find them.

It may be important because when we argue, his favorite thing to do is straighten up the house; specifically, clean off the dining table.

Which led me to believe that he, in a mad straightening frenzy, moved the glasses that I had put on the table.

.

A week went by (thank goodness the argument lasted only the afternoon) and he still could not find his glasses.

We questioned one another:

Are you sure you put the glasses on the table?

To which I answered emphatically, Yes!

And I remembered it so clearly in part because of the argument (I’m going to put these mother-lovin glasses on the table so you don’t have to ask me for them).

Are you sure you didn’t move them off the table when you were straightening?

He said No and I didn’t believe him because I was right.

.

Here’s the point of the story:

The glasses were in the car.

THE CAR.

Not on the table.

 

Now, I am not up in arms about being wrong. Truly, I’m often wrong and, contrary to how it might seem here, totally fine with it.

What I can’t get past is how clearly in my mind I remember taking the glasses out of my purse and putting them on the table. I would have bet money I don’t have. It wasn’t a maybe or I think I did — no, I can see it as distinctly as these words on the page.

And it strikes me… how have convinced myself? What stories do I believe? What other things do I think happened one way or at all that… didn’t?

Just because you have a thought doesn’t make it true.

.

.

epidemic inhale


photo credit

In classes I’ve attended recently I’ve noticed an alarming breathing trend: a rapid, loud, high-in-the-chest inhale followed by the only thing it could be: a dear-God-I-just-popped-a-blood-vessel exhale of relief.

Friends, I don’t think such drama is what the sages had in mind when they touted the benefits of yogic breathing.

My guess is this over-efforted breath comes from a combination of several things:

The instruction to take a “giiiiant inhalation”
Our desire to do well
Our belief that more is better
The brief jolt of adrenaline we get as the fight-or-flight response kicks in

breathe with me

Try this — inhale deeply through your nose as though you are sucking nose spray up into your sinuses. Then exhale. And repeat 10 times. (But not really if you get lightheaded.)

Imagine doing that for a whole class.

Yikes.

prana and pranayama

The breath is equal parts delicate and powerful. In his book The Yoga of Breath, Richard Rosen offers:

Prana literally means “to breathe forth.” It comes from the prefix pra, “to bring forth,” and the verb an, “to breath” or simply “to live.” The entry for prana in my Sanskrit-English dictionary reads, “breath of life, breath, respiration, vitality, vigor, energy, power, and spirit.”

That’s serious business, let alone the emotional effects of breath.

This is a large part of why I don’t teach much pranayama (in the way of manipulating the breath), especially with beginners.

Pranayama in my classes consists of yawning and sighing, the body’s natural response when releasing and relaxing. We also focus on un-learning and un-layering patterns of breathing rather than adding effort on top of those patterns.

I know of teachers who can instruct specific breath techniques with finesse and subtlety. I know of students who can receive such instruction and not dramatize or overdo. The combination of the two is more uncommon.

pranayama-lite

If you (or your students) feel anxious, fidgety or stressed, spend a minute or so emphasizing a long, slow, steady exhale followed by a spontaneous and relaxed inhale. This will help trigger the Parasympathetic Nervous System, or the relaxation response, of the body.

      But that’s so boring.

Consider this: how often do you feel stressed?

Rushed?

Overwhelmed?

Exhausted?

Even though the opposite technique is true to balance lethargic or depressed energy — long, steady inhales followed by natural exhales (the difference is to do only a few of these breaths, versus a couple of minutes of the exhale emphasis — this will have an energizing effect without stressing the nervous system), many of us are simply overextended and what we really need is… sleep.

Using a dear-God-I-just-popped-a-blood-vessel (or even a more sophisticated energizing inhalation) is similar to reaching for a Coke or Snickers Bar… it’s a rush. An adrenaline cocktail. And sometimes we do it (the inhale or the Snickers) and because the body is brilliant it accommodates us and life goes on.

And other times that rush camouflages the fact that we are under-nourished and lacking vital sleep, or we’re entering a cycle or season that calls for more rest and down time.

coming soon to a mat near you

Have you seen signs of the epidemic inhale? I hope not.

But if so, exhale for that well-meaning, tender soul.

And for all of us, just wanting to do well, to do it right — take a smooth inhalation . . .

    and long

             deep

                  sigh.

Ahhh… how do you feel now?

the house of belonging

This past winter I was at my dad’s place picking up tack (horse riding goods). He was tossing around halters and ropes and headstalls when he threw an old pair of spurs aside. I asked him where they were from and he said they were his dad’s.

My grandfather died when I was two. I know very little about him.

I picked up one of the spurs as my dad continued to rifle through boxes. Underneath layers of dirt and grime, it was beautiful. The metal was etched with a floral design and the leather had carved flowers, my grandfather’s initials, ranch brand and the town where he lived.

My dad picked up the other spur and threw it in the old oil bin he was using as a storage container and motioned for me to do the same.

As I walked away with my horse riding loot, I felt sad that such a beautiful piece of history was decaying in an old oil bin.

Later that night I snuck back out into the shop and stole the spurs.

After some TLC (and secret communication with my stepmom), the newly polished spurs, along with a photo of my grandfather and a badge from the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Posse he was in during the early 40s are displayed in a shadow box, which I gave to my dad for his birthday this past weekend.

Kitty sent a little extra love on the corner.

 

One thing I related to early on as a small business owner is people really want to belong. We want to belong to a cause, to a group, to ourselves.

That feeling of recognition, of being known, of acceptance and belonging starts in our families.

In this internet age of things we can’t touch, distance between each other and emoticons in place of face to face expression, this feeling of belonging has been redefined by time and geography (in many positive ways) but lacks pulse and texture.

I long for a sense of history, to know the stories the weave the roots of my ancestry together. The feeling of belonging.

To this end, I plan to do a family history, a modern “family tree” of sorts, for my dad for his next birthday. If you have ideas or tips on resources, let me know!

p.s. Even though my dad’s favorite birthday gift was probably the huge bag of taffy, I think he was really moved by the shadow box. :)

++

In honor of belonging… one of my favorite poems from David Whyte. Take another moment of pause and read the poem slowly, as if enjoying your favorite beverage.

THE HOUSE OF BELONGING

I awoke
this morning
in the gold light
turning this way
and that

thinking for
a moment
it was one
day
like any other.

But
the veil had gone
from my
darkened heart
and
I thought

it must have been the quiet
candlelight
that filled my room,

it must have been
the first
easy rhythm
with which I breathed
myself to sleep,

it must have been
the prayer I said
speaking to the otherness
of the night.

And
I thought
this is the good day
you could
meet your love,

this is the black day
someone close
to you could die.

This is the day
you realize
how easily the thread
is broken
between this world
and the next

and I found myself
sitting up
in the quiet pathway
of light,

the tawny
close grained cedar
burning round
me like fire
and all the angels of this housely
heaven ascending
through the first
roof of light
the sun has made.

This is the bright home
in which I live,
this is where
I ask
my friends
to come,
this is where I want
to love all the things
it has taken me so long
to learn to love.

This is the temple
of my adult aloneness
and I belong
to that aloneness
as I belong to my life.

There is no house
like the house of belonging.

by accepting our brokenness, we are made whole

 

The Unbroken
Rashani Rea

There is a brokenness
out of which comes the unbroken,
a shatteredness
out of which blooms the unshatterable.

There is a sorrow
beyond all grief which leads to joy
and a fragility
out of whose depths emerges strength.

There is a hollow space
too vast for words
through which we pass with each loss,
out of whose darkness
we are sanctioned into being.

There is a cry deeper than all sound
whose serrated edges cut the heart
as we break open to the place inside
which is unbreakable and whole,
while learning to sing.


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