For six years my dog has been bounding into my garden, crushing my plants. For six years, I have been hollering at him. This pattern of ours had become so normal that I'd almost forgotten it was a problem I could solve. It turns out that a lot of our stress comes from little bursts of friction caused by our own behaviors and choices! The self-awareness that comes from yoga can go a long way toward smoothing these self-induced bumps in the road.
"You can be the sunshine for another person." It is simple - love one another. It is also difficult. Love takes effort, courage, creativity, generosity, and trust. It is also the most empowering thing we can do. Sharing your light in this world does not dim your light at all. In fact, sharing your light actually makes your light shine brighter. It is in giving ourselves away that we receive the riches of this wonderful life we're here to share.
An adolescent lack of self-awareness in a high school math class taught me the hard way about the power of body language when my teacher mistook my extreme discomfort as extreme indifference. Decades later my yoga practice furthered my understanding that mindful body language can help me convey to those around me that they are welcome, interesting, and valued.
Yoga philosophy teaches that letting go of extra “stuff” actually frees us. When we step back from our attachment to the stuff we have, the things we have no longer own us. Helping my son clean out his closet reminded me of the power of decluttering and how important it is to the quality of our lives to regularly clean out, pare down and straighten up our spaces, our days, and our minds.
Learning to play Wordle HURT my brain! This was a felt-experience in developing neuroplasticity or flexibility and it is very, very good for us. In fact, it keeps us young. Yoga is a great way to develop and maintain plasticity of both the body and the brain. Regularly rising to its challenges is a way to stay physically and mentally younger than our years for the rest of our lives.
It turns out (as it almost always does) that yoga teaches us not how get better at doing yoga, but how to get better at living life. One of the most important skills that yoga teaches is presence. When we are in the now life is richer and more meaningful. It is also more manageable. When we are where our feet are we can navigate even the most challenging events of our life with grace and poise.
I am grateful to my new mindfulness teacher, Julia, a customer service representative who I will probably never meet, for the loving reminder that we are connected. Thank you, Julia, for the renewed certainty that in every act we take (even when online shopping), we have the power to be more than polite. We can be thoughtful and kind. And that matters greatly.
“The purpose of gathering stillness is not to enrich the sanctuary or mountaintop but to bring that calm into the motion, the commotion of the world.” My New Year's intention is to create a sense of stillness in my life. In my imagination (after all, it’s only January 3 as I write this, so I’m still exploring and might be for years) the stillness I seek is a slower, more mindful pace. It is a sense of spaciousness in my days. It is an ability to prioritize. It is a freedom from compulsive, anxiety-driven doing. While the stillness I’m describing might manifest more as a mindset, a perspective, and an attitude than anything else, it is quite real. It is tangible. I have felt it and I want more of it. If my quest for stillness resonates with you, read on for some ideas on how I hope to create a little of it every day.
Practicing mindfulness while Christmas shopping? YES. A day spent among crowds, with little likelihood of a parking spot, and crazy, mid-December drivers with whom we share the roads reveal that the only thing we control in life is ourselves. Paying attention to how we're approaching these "obstacles" is a surefire way to have a happier day.