"Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself?" Lao Tzu I like the concept in meditation that when we first sit to meditate our minds are like a jar, filled with water and mud, that has been shaken. As we settle in and become quiet, the sediment starts to sink to the bottom of the jar and the water becomes clear. The constant stream of thoughts that normally bombard us begin to slow their assault, and there begins to be a bit of space between those thoughts. Yoking the mind to focus on breath or mantra allows even more sediment to settle. Right now it feels as if the cosmic jar has been shaken, and there is significant mud to wade through. Each day it feels like there is another tragedy or event to try to take in and understand. Lao Tau's suggests that in times like these, we do our best to remain patient. Take in the events and feel all that is going on around us, but then wait before reacting. Step away from all media. Go outside, unplug and be in nature. Sit and just be, and wait for your own mud to settle. Start with trying this for just five minutes. Let your mind's eye watch the movement of your breath and be still. See if the thoughts begin to slow down. I believe the world would be a kinder, more thoughtful place if everyone would spend a few moments a day in meditation. The mud is always going to be there. It's up to us how we choose to react to it. In the words of one of my favorite teachers, Judith Hanson Lasater: "May you be like the lotus, at home in the muddy waters."
I subscribed to a blog for years called Peaceful Daily by Sandy Corso. I have kept one of her posts called “No, Yes and Wow” as a reminder not only for myself, but also for my yoga students. It’s based on the book by Nischala Joy Devi’s called “The Secret Power of Yoga.” The concept is very simple yet powerful, and I think it hits home even more during this pandemic.
“No” is a powerful word. We are saying “No” to a lot right now; to social gatherings, to vacations, and especially to dining out. Saying “No” gives the illusion that one has control over their life. Sometimes “No” is the knee jerk reaction to the unknown. Saying “No” too much can make one fearful and rigid. It can create a heaviness in the heart as well.
“Yes” on the other hand brings a sense of possibilities, adventure and joy. Saying “Yes” opens us up to letting go of control and embracing the unknown. While saying “Yes” and doing it safely is a not as easy, we should all try to say a small “Yes” every day. It can be as simple as trying a new recipe or a new workout routine. While these adventures may be smaller, they can still help lift the heart.
Now to the “Wow.” Saying “Wow” as often and as enthusiastically as possible instills joy and gratitude. This is not the kind of “Wow” that comes easily off the tongue, such as when you have an immediate negative reaction to something. It’s a “Wow”of simple wonder that is almost childlike. It could be something seen in nature or the kind action of a friend. Life is still amazing and we need to keep noticing the wonders around us.
It’s an interesting exercise to notice on any given day how often you find yourself saying “No,” “Yes” and “Wow”. We should notice what too much “No” feels like. Too much “Yes” can be unhealthy as well. And it’s definitely ok to have lots of “Wow.” The trick is finding the balance of the three. It is my hope that you can find a combination that feels right to you.
Written with thanks to Kerry Wekelo who wrote the original blog back in 2012.
Heart, I implore you, it's time to come back from the dark, it's morning, the hills are pink and the roses whatever they felt in the valley of night are opening now their soft dresses, their leaves are shining. Why are you laggard? Sure you have seen this a thousand times, which isn't half enough. Let the world have its way with you, luminous as it is with mystery and pain~ graced as it is with the ordinary. By Mary Oliver
I like to ride my bike. I like to cook at home. I love time with my hubby. I miss hugs. I love the library. Trader Joe's is the best. I still feel connected to others in zoom yoga class. Sunlight brightens my mood. So does being in nature. Naps, oh yes. The air fryer is a game changer. Good neighbors mean even more right now. It's hard to stay off the phone. There is a a lot of suffering around us. Time passes quickly even when you don't know what day it is. I've forgotten what my clothes are like. Staying home and wearing a mask cuts down on need for lipstick/lipgloss. Why can't I remember to not bother putting on aforementioned lipgloss when I know I'll be wearing a mask? Zoom happy hours are more fun than I thought they would be. I don't remember living with this much uncertainty ever before. I feel the love of family and friends more acutely.
"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.