"Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble." John Lewis
The wound is where the light enters Rumi
This quote by Rumi resonates with me right now. The COVID pandemic has changed our world as we know it. Many of us have experienced loss, pain and unwanted change. The choice for those of us that have been wounded is to either transform, or remain in that place of pain. As my future son-in-law, Jordan, counsels his clients; “Can you make the pivot?” Perhaps that means finding a new way to be, learning new ways to adapt, or just let go of what no longer serves you. I think once we emerge from this unusual place, we will not be the same as a society or as individuals. How we choose to move forward will help to define who we are, and how we live in our new world.
Perhaps we can learn from the Japanese tradition of repairing broken objects, called Kintsugi. In this technique, the damaged portion is not something to be disguised or hidden. Instead, those portions are repaired with adhesive mixed with gold, so the repaired parts are easily seen. This philosophy treats the breakage and the repair as a part of the object’s history, and the object actually becomes more revered because of its flaws and imperfections.
It is my hope that we all emerge from this time mended by gold, and become stronger, kinder and even more beautiful.
Happy Weekend one and all! Join Sophie and me for my public class through Prairie Yoga on Tuesdays at 5 pm CST or reach out to set up your own privates. Curious about yoga or want to do a deep dive on certain aspects of yoga? We can make the practice whatever you like. Hope to see you next week.
The ancient language of Sanskrit is based on the vibration created by combining various sounds for a desired effect. When we chant “Om” or Aum” during yoga or meditation, Indian wisdom describes it as the sound that most mimics the original vibration of the universe. So when we chant, or speak, we are connecting to our universe and pushing that vibration out into our world. However, that comes with a responsibility.
I think we have lost sight of that responsibility, and the weight that our words carry. We are too quick to go negative. Too quick to use words like hate, sucks, crazy, weird, ugly, dumb, stupid, moron, not to mention the more colorful words that I won’t print here. Granted, we have a lot to be upset about these days. But when we react to negativity with more negativity it feels like our vibration as a whole spirals downward.
When our kids were little, I recall my father-in-law disparaging our use of a pacifier beyond the first few months of their lives. He was concerned that it would stifle their ability to express themselves. I think that we continue to stifle ourselves by using the lowest denominator of words. Word choice matters. Before speaking, consider using these well known filters of speech: Is it kind? Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it helpful? It is the right time?
And what about what Grandma said? “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” It’s ok to say nothing sometimes, especially if it protects you from going down to someone else’s level.
To produce a more positive vibration, consider your words before they leave your mouth. Do they sound pleasing? Do they get your point across with ease? Can you soften the harsh edges to create a greater cadence to the sound of your voice? Let’s change the sound of our universe right now.
“If you cannot be a poet, be the poem.” David Carradine
"My heart gives thanks for empty moments given to dreams." William S. Braithwaite
Let’s practice yoga together! Join me for gentle yoga every Tuesday at 5 pm CST with Prairie Yoga. This week we will get quiet and open up the heart.
Register at prairieyoga.org.
Happy Fourth of July from the Yoga Goat! As my teacher, Tias Little, said yesterday at the end of class…Happy Interdependence Day! We are all dependent on each other for our well being. While this holiday looks different for most of us this year, let’s not forget the connections of family and friends that support and lift us up.
I am excited to announce that I will be teaching a weekly LiveStream class through Prairie Yoga! Prairie Yoga is where I received my 500 level teacher training and was my yoga home before leaving Illinois last year. Thank you, Lori Gaspar, for this opportunity.
My Gentle yoga class will be held Tuesdays at 5:00pm Central time, and will cost $18 for a virtual drop-in or $99 a month for unlimited LiveStream classes. Go to http://www.prairieyoga.org to sign up.
I have also now upgraded my Zoom capabilities, so I can teach online to more than one household at a time. That means you can get together with your friends and family across the country, and we can all do yoga together.
Online yoga sessions are $40 per person for an hour, $35 with a subscription to my blog, http://www.the-yoga-goat.com. A block of 4 privates will be $150 per person, and $130 with a subscription. You can reach out via email to email@example.com, comment to this blog or DM me.
Back in March I was fortunate to enjoy a free webinar from one of my favorite teachers, Judith Hanson Lasater, and her daughter Lizzie Lasater entitled “Love in the time of the Virus.” It was a great experience and, as expected, I was able to pull several nourishing nuggets from the session.
One that has really stuck with me is a visualization technique to help quiet what Buddhists refer to as the “Monkey Mind.” Monkey Mind is a state of being where your thoughts are swirling and rapid, so much so that they become your focal point. These intruding thoughts could be fear or stressed based, oriented in the past or future, and can make you feel consumed and agitated.
The technique starts with simply taking a moment to see that you are breathing diaphragmatically, which is taking slow, deep breaths that allow the belly to expand with the inhale and release with the exhale. Do this a few times and slowly shift your focus and awareness to your skull. Notice the front and back of the skull. Then notice both sides of the skull. Then shift your focus to the center of the brain, and rest there. Deep in the center of the brain is the basal ganglia. They are neurons responsible for movement, emotion, learning and complex motor activity. With your awareness here, relax and try to feel as if you are uniting and quieting all of these activities.
When I practice this, I feel an almost instant quieting of these swirling thoughts. Try this technique as part of a meditation practice or when you just need that moment of zen during the day. Maybe it’s while you are making dinner, or standing in line at Trader Joe’s. Shift the focus back to yourself, find the center of your brain, and bring some calm into your world.
"We are of the Earth, and belong to You. Every step that we take upon You should be done in a sacred manner, each step should be as a prayer." Black Elk, Native American spiritual leader
A dear, thoughtful friend has gifted me yoga classes with one of our favorite teachers, Tias Little. Many of his classes begin by lying on the mat in Savasana, which for non-yogis means lying supine on the mat. Beginning this way resonates with me because, with everything that is swirling around us right now, it feels nice to be grounded and connected to the earth. When I give up fighting gravity and let go into earth’s pull, I feel a sense of comfort. The earth is always here underneath us, gently spinning on its axis, and yet we are rarely still enough to try to sense it. Being on the earth can be a healing salve.
How do you know if you need to take Savasana? Here are some symptoms that might be telling: feeling ungrounded; overstimulated by events around you; spacey; trouble making decisions; restless; trouble sleeping; anxious and stressed. Feeling just one of these symptoms qualifies you for a 10 to 20 minute time-out in Savasana. Rest on the earth and do nothing. When I had a yard, I loved lying on the grass and looking up at the sky. If it’s hard to lie down, take your shoes off and feel the earth under your feet. Give yourself rest in any comfortable position that works for you. Rest from the media, rest from technology, or just rest from those around you. Allow yourself to feel the nourishment of your bones sinking down into the earth.
In “Peace is Every Step,” a wonderful book by Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn, he says to focus on mindful breathing. “While we practice conscious breathing, our thinking will slow down, and we can give ourselves a real rest. Most of the time, we think too much, and mindful breathing helps us to be calm, relaxed, and peaceful. It helps us stop thinking so much and stop being possessed by sorrows of the past and worries about the future. It enables us to be in touch with life, which is wonderful in the present moment.”
When I come out of Savasana, having rested on the earth, I often have a new perspective and attitude. Those few minutes I give to myself helps me face the rest of the day with a sense of ease and well-being.
A poem by David Whyte, from the book "Songs for Coming Home" That day I saw beneath dark clouds the passing of light over the water and I heard the voice of the world speak out. I knew then as I had before life is no passing memory of what has been, nor the remaining pages in a great book waiting to be read. It is the opening of eyes long closed. It is the vision of far off things seen for the silence they hold. It is the heart after years of secret conversing speaking out loud in the clear air. It is Moses in the desert falling to his knees before the lit bush. It is the man throwing away his shoes as if to enter heaven and finding himself astonished, opened at last, fallen in love with solid ground.