Tag Archives: yoga

Why Teenagers Occasionally Get It Right

 

Do teenagers have it right? Is sinking into your emotions, settling in among the swirling colored vortex surrounding you and whipping around you like a funnel cloud the way to make sense of things, the only real way to move safely through the angst and overwhelm of intense emotions?

I’m beginning to think so.

The universe seems to be speaking to me, and lately, in the precise moment I need something, it shows up.

A recent yoga class ended with an instructor anecdote about her son falling and hurting himself.  Listening, my brain started to tingle as she recounted how she had scooped him up and soothed him, not by simply holding him and allowing him to feel, but by jumping into the silence with words. As she repeated the phrase and advised that perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to jump into the silence of feeling and fill it with words, I felt like a cartoon characters with an idea, the light bulb forming above my head.

My yoga and meditation practices have been expanding of late without much obvious emotional change (except my increased patience!), but a while ago I noticed an uncomfortable pressure in my right lower back, directly to the right of my sacrum.  It felt like nothing so much as my pelvis needing to crack.  

During this particular class, the sequences presented were heavy on twists and hip opening sequences, and as much as I wanted to cry uncle and rest in child’s pose, I fought to focus and breathe through the discomfort.

Then, in the midst of an opening twist sequence, I started to cry.  No dainty, dignified tears for me.  These tears flowed down my cheeks like salt rivers, dripping off my jawbone and soaking my neck and shirt before I’d even worked up much of a sweat.  I wanted to hide, to hang my head and wipe away the wetness, but instead swallowed and kept going, breathing through the certainty that everyone could somehow hear my tears.

I kept crying throughout the class.  It seemed as if every time I opened my mouth that day, I cried more.  Talking it through with my sister, I realized that the uncomfortable pressure in my back had started two days prior upon awakening from a disturbing dream. I couldn’t remember the dream, just the fear I felt upon waking, my heart pounding as if I had just been chased. I had been trying to  decipher what it meant, but I hadn’t allowed myself to settle into the emotions because they were frightening. I felt threatened. 

Towards evening, the pressure began to lessen a bit.  The light bulb switched on and I realized that by trying to deny the fear and sadness I felt after the dream, I had inadvertently caused all the negative energy to gather in a ball in my lower back.  Only when I settled into moving meditation did my unconscious mind take over and allow the energy to ove through my body to release.

So I do think adolscents have this thing right: settling into your emotions, allowing them to swell around you and envelop you, really does seem to be the only way to get through them without being consumed by them. It seems to be the best way to release them so you can move on.  

My back seems to think so, anyway.

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Hibernation

I’ve been absent from this space for the last couple of months because I’ve been hibernating.

One of the definitions of “hibernation” is “to withdraw or be in seclusion.”   Every January, I try to remove myself from the daily insanity of connectedness to discourse with myself and ensure that my life is proceeding in the direction I want and need.  I intended this year to be just the same, but as I moved through the holidays and January to jump back into my routine, I realized I needed to make it different. Continue reading

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Commitment to Myself (July U.B.C. Day 8)

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The heat rises around me as I settle down onto my heels and extend my arms out in front of me and lower to the floor. The quiet chanting coming from the speakers and the hiss of ujayi breath from the practitioners in the room seems to increase the energy emanating from the air, making me drowsy and heavy. I drop lower into my pose and my back opens as the breath travels down my throat and into the burning muscles. Continue reading

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Yoga is My Friend

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I love yoga. It is my go-to workout for everything from simply feeling good about my body’s physicality to needing the hour or more of meditation and silence. I am a serious practitioner. By serious I don’t mean that I practice every day or that I have mastered all of the advanced asanas, just that I take my practice seriously and use it for the intended purpose: silence and concentration on the self and the moment. Continue reading

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Yelling Not Allowed

Yelling

One of the last times I yelled at my son was Sunday, November 10, 2013. That was the day I decided I never wanted to do it again because I never again wanted to see hurt and confusion, even fear, in his eyes when he looked at me. Although I am certain I will yell again at some point, I nevertheless keep the date posted on my refrigerator. Even when I have slipped, I see that date written on my refrigerator white board and catch myself faster. I take a breath, and then I stop. Continue reading

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Keep a Contented Heart in November

Well, here it is again. That time of the month. The time when I drag out my muse’s guide to finding happiness and write myself notes on the next layer of my happiness and joyful cake creation. Here’s what Ms. Muse has to say for the month of November.

Keep a contented heart.  A contented heart is a even sea in the midst of all storms.  So said William Secker in his treatise The Nonsuch Professor in His Meridian Splendor, published in 1660.  Amazing that it’s the same some three hundred and fifty years later.

a) Laugh out loud.

She’s right. I should laugh out loud more. We all should laugh out loud more. It just feels so gosh darn fantabulous when we do it. The sun seems to shine brighter for a few moments, the air seems to warm, and the endorphins rush through our bodies. It can change my whole outlook on a day.

What do I do to ensure I laugh out loud at least once a day? For starters, I have a child who is learning to read and sometimes mispronounces words in such a way that I can barely even understand what he’s trying to say. My child also loves to sing, and I mean loves it as if it’s his favorite chocolate treat. He belts out whatever tune he is listening to, and at times it’s all I can do to keep the car on the road I’m laughing so hard. Which makes him smile and sing more loudly, which makes me laugh more…. You get the picture.

I also read amusing books. Currently on my nightstand is Jen Lancaster‘s The Tao of Martha.  Ms. Lancaster is a seriously funny woman who doesn’t take herself too seriously. Consequently, when reading her books, of which there are many, I tend to laugh out loud and try to live my life with the same grain of salt approach she seems to espouse in her essays.

Laughter is good for anything that might ail us. We all need more, so I’m going to continue laughing and smiling and feeling good. It helps me get through the days when the sun doesn’t shine so brightly, which was a lot of September.

b) Use good manners.

I have my mother and Emily Post to thank for my somewhat rigid adherence to “proper” and “appropriate” behavior. My parents drilled me like they were each an Army Drill Sergeant to ensure that I knew and utilized manners. Proper table etiquette, even when all we were eating was grilled cheese sandwiches. Thank you notes for everything and in a timely manner, e.g. no later than two weeks after the event, the gift, etc.

One year for Christmas my mother found and gifted me a book on manners penned by none other than Ms. Emily Post. I still have it on my shelf with the the note-filled margins, underlined text, and dog-eared pages. I still consult Ms. Post regularly, but these days it seems that most of her advice is considered antiquated niceties that we can all eliminate from our lives due to the instantaneous and often impersonal nature of the digital age. I disagree wholeheartedly and so stick to the advice and manners that have gotten me this far in life.

Several years ago I bought the updated version of Emily Post’s book for my two step-daughters.

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I thought that as they went out into the world as young women and began interviewing for jobs, receiving engagement, wedding or baby gifts, knowing how to deal with the acknowledging and thanking people for their kindnesses would be helpful, especially since so few people attend to social niceties these days with the advent of e-mail. I gave the books with that precise sentiment.  As both opened the gift in my presence, they both said thank you, having such a resource would be great.

Two years later?  Both books are still sitting on the shelf in their respective closets upstairs, unopened. One moved out and left her copy here.  Does anybody want to purchase a slightly used copy of Emily Post’s Etiquette? I can give you a really good deal!

c) Give positive reviews.

I consider this up there with manners. If I’ve received good service or had a good experience, I say it. I shout it from the rooftops. I am a firm believer in the maxim that if you let people know they’ve done a good job, that will make them want to do it again and again to get the feel good rush from positive feedback.

Accordingly, I’m one of those people on Amazon and Yelp and Open Table who reviews service providers. If the meal, the product, the service has been good, I let the provider know. Of course, I also let them know if it’s been bad, but I think it’s just as important to put out good vibes into the world as bad.

d) Find an area of refuge.

I’m working on this. I actually reclaimed my sunroom over Labor Day weekend and made it into a sitting/reading area.

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However, it’s off the kitchen, so although it’s a lovely spot in which to have a cup of coffee and chat with Ernie Hemingway or a friend when children are playing, it’s not really a refuge. Too public. So I’m looking for different space in the house.

Our house has a central family room where everything happens. We also have a formal living room, which at this stage of our lives is largely unused. The only time it sees traffic is when the Christmas tree goes up and when packages are delivered to the front door. It also tends – like so many other open spaces – to attract junk and become a storage area when it’s not being used for the Christmas tree.

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For some time, I’ve been planning to make the back corner of the room into a quiet area where I can meditate and practice yoga. It’s sunny and bright, and the farthest corner of the house away from the main traffic areas, so it feels distant. Just what I need for quieting my mind and soul.

Of course, I have an office, too, but currently it’s situated in the laundry room on the other side of the master bath, and over the garage, so it’s not quite as isolated and quiet.

Plus, it’s cold. It is so cold that even when the heat is on, I need an electric space heater to keep marginally warm. It is so cold that once the outside temperature drops below 40 degrees, my cat won’t even hang out in there with me. It is so cold that the winter after we moved into our house we needed to install heat into our garage to ensure that the pipes for the laundry didn’t freeze. I don’t know precisely what the previous owners did about that particular problem, but I don’t care. I now have a garage that stays at a relatively balmy 55 degrees all winter. Getting into a cold car is not really a problem, unless of course, I’ve been lazy and haven’t put the car into the garage, nor is frozen pipes, truly the most important thing.

My husband decided several months ago that his office, located off the family room, should be mine so that I wouldn’t have to spend so much time upstairs away from the central living area, but it’s still got a lot of his books and other stuff in it, so it doesn’t feel like mine yet.

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Maybe I’ll work on getting the walls covered with my stuff and then I’ll want to use it more. I’ll keep you posted.

For now, though, I think my quiet area in the formal living room – or the Christmas tree room as we call it – is my best bet. I’ve got a folding room divider that I’ll put behind the couch, a meditation chair for which I’ve just redone the cushion, my super thick yoga mat, and a Bose sound dock into which I can pop my iPhone to play ocean music. Now I just need to get all the junk out of that room.

And did I forget to mention that Thanksgiving is at our house?  Namaste.

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Finding Guidance

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Determining to begin my January portion of my happiness project, I went looking for the guiding tome, Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project.  I read it several months ago and, knowing I wanted to follow through with doing my own version at some point, put it under the edge of my bed with the rest of my “to be read” or “read and really liked so want to keep” books.  At least I thought I did.

Of course, it wasn’t there, and I ended up ripping apart my books piles and bookshelves trying to find it.  Find it, I did, however.  Then I was faced with the herculean task of putting the shelves and piles back together.  Which I did.  Haphazardly.  Until another day.

On to the January portion of the project.  The goal for January is:  Boost Energy:  Vitality.  This includes the following items:

(a)  Go to sleep earlier.  Oh, how I would love to go to sleep earlier.  Especially tonight, when I have a cold and just want to snuggle down under the covers and shut out the world.  If I could actually get to bed by 10pm most nights, I would be oh so happy.  That would give me a solid eight hours per night, which I’ve found over the years simply makes me a nicer person to be around.

(b)  Exercise better.  I’m not really sure what “better” is supposed to man.  I am absolutely not going to be one of those crazy people who says they’re going to work out for two hours every day (been there, done that, never going back).  I just want to be healthy, so I’m going to shoot for three to four yoga classes a week.  If I can do that, I’ll feel good.  And if I cannot accomplish that every week, I’m going to give myself a break.

(c)  Toss, restore, organize.  This is a must.  I’ve let my files, my books, my magazines, my photos, my projects, my everything, get totally out of control in the name of not having the time.  I need to make the time.  I need to make the time so that I’m not wasting time trying to find things.  So, tomorrow I will put my book piles and book shelves back together.  And then I will move on to my office.  Then my closets – clothing, gifts that I’ve purchased and forgotten about, crafts projects started and never finished (I need to be honest with myself about whether I ever will finish them, and if not, throw them out).  My child’s outgrown and out of season clothing.

(d)  Tackle a nagging task.  I don’t know which task I’ll choose.  Perhaps I’ll combine (c) and (d) when cleaning/organizing/culling through the paperwork in my office.

(e)  Act more energetic.  I think this will follow naturally from getting more sleep and exercising better.

Today I’ve found my guidance and set some goals.  Tonight I’ll begin implementing those goals.  And tomorrow I’ll put my books in order.

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