Archive for the 'lifestyle' Category

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

.

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.

.

.

ride

This weekend I went on my husband’s version of a horse ride.

We went down the Sacramento Delta — river-lined agricultural land south of the city. Feels like another world far away from traffic and stop lights.

We stopped at a roadside fruit stand, went to a biker bar and swung over to see Cowboy and his buddies.

 

 

Even though motorcycles aren’t my thing, I’m starting to understand why my hubby likes to ride.

 

 

 

Actually, what he enjoys about his time on the motorcycle is similar to what I enjoy about being with Cowboy: he must be present and mindful, at the same time he can slip into another realm of awareness, and it gets him out of the house and into the gorgeous world.

 

 

The last few times I’ve gone with him, I’ve found myself in an almost hypnotic state. I think it’s the fear factor and knowledge that 1) I’m not in control; and 2) I could die any second. Of course, those two things are always true, I’m just much more aware of that reality on the back of a motorcycle.

In this semi-hypnotic, hyper-aware place, I begin to wonder what the heck I’m doing with my life.

It could be over so quickly… Have I told the people in my life how much I love them? Have I given myself as fully as I can to causes and moments and making a difference? Why am I waiting for someday to do the things that matter — my dreams and life list items — and to let go of the piddly things?

I can almost imagine the moment one’s life might “flash before their eyes.” It reminds me that it’s good to do things that scare me. It’s good to check in with my priorities. It’s good to love, forgive… and go for a ride with my husband.

Now if I could just get him to take a ride with me and this sweet, beautiful beast.

 

be magpie’s guest

It’s easy to let people have ideas about who I am. As a yoga teacher, the assumptions about me are usually that I’m nice, kind, warm and generous. And, I am!

Of course, I can also be mean, petty, jealous and selfish. If you hang around Blogasana, you’ve read about the sassy tangos between these two sides.

Stepping more fully into this duality and exposing my darker side has been scary. And strangely freeing.

My guest post at Magpie Girl is no exception. When Rachelle asked me to write for her Relig-ish series about living a spiritual hybrid, the only answer that came was about my marriage.

This was the hardest and most honest post I’ve written and I thank Rachelle for the opportunity. Reflecting on my past, my beliefs and the path that has led me to this Right Now has been a lovely gesture of self-acceptance, integration and wholeness.

Would love to hear your thoughts on the Magpie post.

Happy weekend!

how sensitive is sensitive enough? and a free class

Two important parts of horse training are desensitizing the horse and sensitizing the horse.

Desensitizing to objects, sounds and places so the horse does not literally fear for it’s life, freak out, and accidentally kill you.

Sensitizing to your commands so the horse knows when you are talking to it and asking it to respond in some way.

Both pieces are equally important. You don’t want an over-sensitized horse who spooks at every rock, whistle and gesture; nor do you want a completely dull horse that is half asleep and won’t move when necessary.

The big ball

Last week Cowboy and I worked on desensitizing with a giant red and white ball.

Cowboy saw the ball as a big round predator. He was anxious and would not stand still when I rolled the ball toward him.

Eventually, though, he decided it was worth checking out.

After a few more minutes I was able to rub the ball on his legs. He was skittish and uncomfortable at first, but became more relaxed the more I did it.

By the second day of working with this (there’s no rushing a horse), I was able to pass the ball underneath his belly to the other side with no upset.

If you have a horse and a ball, all it takes is patience, love and some sweet talking.

Might we do well…

What if there were de/sensitizing exercises for humans?

Well, I believe there are.

Having an honest conversation with friend, family or lover.

Receiving constructive criticism.

Exposure to new people, places and sounds.

Stepping out of routine and comfort.

Getting lost.

Being injured or sick.

Learning something new: knitting, guitar, French.

And of course, meditation and yoga asana practice.

Sensitive enough to respond appropriately; desensitized enough to not be alarmed by every new thing.

All it takes is self-directed patience and love. A little sweet talking doesn’t hurt.

________________________________________________________

Want to jump right into sensitivity practice? You can download two yoga classes for free. These are live, as in unscripted, there are um‘s and sooo‘s, references to the room, student questions, etc. Practicing along would be a great desensitizing exercise!

Both classes start with the story about the horse. Both classes are focused around hip work. Right click the link and “Open with” iTunes.

This is a 75 minute, lighthearted, beginner-friendly class.
Blanket or towel padding for the knees and blocks (if you have them) will be helpful.

Sensitize – Beginner Yoga Class

This is a 75 minute more intermediate flow class.
Blanket or towel, blocks, a bolster or blanket roll, and a golf or tennis ball are all referenced. If you do not have these things, just interpret the poses without them.

Sensitize – Intermediate Yoga Flow

In any yoga practice, I believe we hit at least 95% of the human de/sensitizing exercises listed above: it’s like a very honest conversation, you’ll probably be out of your comfort zone at some point and you might get completely lost.

But, like Cowboy, I hope you aren’t spooked by the shadows and shapes out on the trail. Have a safe ride!

bird by bird

 


{photo}

I may be the only who has not read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott.

But don’t fear, I am remedying that. It’s a wonderful book about writing, but just as good for a laugh or a life-lesson.

My favorite story in the book thus far also happens to explain the title. Lamott writes:

Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”

Whether it’s grief, boredom, overwhelm, fear, joy, meditation, asana or minutes in the day, wouldn’t we do better by taking it bird by bird.

what’s your story?

{Photo of Cowboy completely unrelated to post}

—————————————————————————————————-

Voices

There are two ways to tell a story. You can tell it from the voice of The Reporter, or you can tell it as The Commentator.

In her beautiful workbook called Finding Your Voice, Jen Lee differentiates the two:

The Reporter sticks to the facts — what’s happening, where, when.

The Commentator offers explanations and interpretations.

While The Commentator often offers meaning and context — which most of us are very interested in and seek in our lives — sometimes we rob ourselves of raw experience. We generate conclusions and step into The Story without being aware of, let alone actually feeling, what’s happening.

The Reporter, on the other hand, takes notes, interviews witnesses, and gathers all the facts. The Reporter doesn’t make assumptions or snap judgments.

The Yoga Reporter

I believe we need more Reporting and less Commentating in yoga practice.

I feel a stretch in my hamstrings
rather than
These damn hamstrings are never going to give and I’m always going to suck at forward bends

I feel fatigued right now
rather than
I’m so lazy and I just need to push through

And instead of stopping at one or two main details (usually the ones The Commentator thinks are important), we would benefit from Reporting the whole story: How’s the breath? What’s the expression saying? What amount of effort is present, is needed?

What is happening rather than what it means.

Observations rather than conclusions.

We all have them

One of my stories is that I’m weak, not very “hardy.” It’s a story from my childhood, told to me by my family. I’ve spent much of my life compiling evidence to support this story.

My Reporter has a stack of facts that reveal giant holes in the story. I don’t feel weak. Although I need and like to rest, I also have great stamina and can do a tremendous amount of work in a day. My heart has expansive capacity and holds many sorrows and joys.

Come to find out, this story is not true.

Even this guy

This is a favorite poem for the vivid imagery and surprise at the end. I hope you enjoy.

Fake by Jordan Grumet, MD


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 73 other followers

Topics

Tweets