Saturday, 10 November 2012

Winter Wonderland

The brightness from the newly fallen snow, lighting the world despite the darkness hovering above.  As I drive to a two hour yoga class, I notice the trees, which are outlined in white, looking radiant with their winter look.  Upon closer inspection, I realize differences in how trees are carrying the snow.  The cottonwoods stand tall and strong, radiating beauty, confident.  They look light and airy in this winter wonderland.  Smaller trees and shrubs are thickly coated and bowing under the weight of the snow, heavy.  I am reminded instantly of how I have been feeling the past few weeks.  At work, I have been surrounded by people who are struggling with how to deal with what life gives them.  And whether the changing from summer to fall and fall to winter is conscious for them, it feels like this change of seasons is also weighing on them...and in turn me. 

At the end of my day on Thursday, the weight of other's misery was engulfing me.  I was aware, yet could not find a way to let go and rise.  This also caused my mind to find more to weigh myself down...missing daily connections with friends far away, questioning my work.  Noticing the trees in this winter transition, I realized my perspective was causing this weight.  I have been allowing what I can not control to worry me, stress me, weigh down on me.  Instead, I could surrender to what is, bowing deeper, letting the snow fall from my limbs and allow me to rise, feeling radiant in the transition, feeling grateful for the change and the chance to slow down, reflect, be...  I do not need to fight against other's struggles or take them on or feel responsible.  At some point, the wind will blow and the snow spreads itself elsewhere, allowing branches to move and change.  This is not something I can control or force.  It will happen when it happens.

The latter half of the yoga class I attended was restorative poses.  The teacher had us start with awareness of our bodies, then connect deeper to friends, then connect deeper with those we may not know well but there is a knowing with, then connect with our teachers, then finally deeper, with our true self.  As sense of realizing that the body is a vehicle in which to carry connections from our lives, confirming to me, again, that what I need is within myself.  Connecting within causes longing for others to soften, knowing I continue to connect with them, even if the physical body is not.  After the class, I thanked the teacher, who gave me a hug, connecting.  A reminder that connections with others for my physical self will happen in time, it can not be forced.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Golden Reminders of the present

After a full morning or seeing four clients in four hours and quickly completing paperwork, I jumped into my car to meet a co-worker for a meeting.  I winded my way up through the dim parking garage and then punched into the sunlight of the beautiful day.  My eyes were met with spectacular beauty.  The mountainside was washed in piercing gold, the glittering Aspen trees in the depths of their fall ritual.  I paused, reflecting on the amazing transformation that happens each year.  It was a great reminder that change is always occurring and is a natural process.  Finding beauty and positive in change gives hope.  The beauty of fall is really the death of millions of leaves, which must die for a tree to live through the harsh, frigid winter.  Then in spring, the cycle is begun again.  A wonderful reminder for life.  Some days are busy and hectic, others calm and relaxing, and others everything in between.  Remembering to find the beauty in each moment and not wish it live in the present.  From personal experience, I have found when I am living in the present, I feel alive and really have no other time or place I'd rather be.  When I am living in the future (which is what happens to me most), misery starts to creep in, my mood becomes depressed, I become more grouchy.  Why would I choose to live in the future?!  I am grateful for the visual reminder that is hard to miss right now!    Later, pushing my bike pedals up, up, up...trying to not listen to the negative thoughts  ("why am I doing this, I suck at this, I'm so out of shape") and notice the rhythm of my strokes, my breathing, scan my body for where there is tension and where there is not.  Again, the golden leaves catch my eyes and take my breath away.  The wind blows and it begins to rain gold.  I am brought out of myself and into the reality of the calm serenity around me.  Greg is stopped up ahead to take in the breathtaking views and colors...I join him, catching my breath, no longer feeling the physical suffering but immense gratitude for being alive.

Monday, 3 September 2012

Yoga through mountain biking

Moving to the Vail Valley has given me endless access to enjoying the mountains.  I've been doing a lot of hiking and backpacking to many spectacular alpine lakes and summits that have stunning, 360 degree views.  It's been so wonderful to feel grateful each day to be living is such beauty.  Another way of enjoying the mountains, which is very popular here, is mountain biking.  I use to mountain bike over ten years ago, but switched to road biking when I met my partner.  Now that we are back in the mountains, I have found myself back on a mountain bike and enjoying myself immensely, even when I've found myself hiking more than riding.

We joined some friend recentlys in Crested Butte, a small mountain town with a mining history, surrounded by colorful, beautiful mountains and famous for its mountain biking trails.  On a prior ride, the weekend before, I realized that by using my breath to relax my mind while riding, I was able to ride through obstacles that were causing my mind to freak out and thus causing me to bail off my bike.  Hmmmmm, how many more yoga techniques could I apply to mountain biking?

When we went for our morning ride on Saturday, the trail we started on was a little technical, which for me means difficult.  I was falling off like crazy. At first I found my mind saying, "I suck at this, maybe I'm not really in to it.  Should I really buy a mountain bike if I never use it because I walk it more than ride it?"  It dawned on me that some of my worry and anxiety from the work week was coming into my biking.  I told my friend, Ann, who I was riding with about it and immediately I felt myself calming.  By being honest with myself and my friend about where I was at mentally, helped improve my skills.  I started enjoying the ride more and laughing at myself when I couldn't get past an obstacle. I noticed the spectacular scenery more, the aspens and brush starting to change colors, marking the changing of the seasons.  The terrain started to get more mellow and I gained more confidence.  Accepting myself helped!

In the afternoon, we went on a great ride that matched my beginner's ability.  Towards the latter part of the ride, there was a steep downhill to a river with a nice run out.  (At least to me it was steep).  As I started to descend,  my mind screamed out in sheer terror.  Usually when this happens, my reaction is to brake, making me feel like I'm going to flip over my handle bars, so I bail off my bike.  Instead, I over road the fear and let go of the brakes.  I flew down the hill effortlessly and on to the run out.  I whooped for joy, I was so amazed and energized.  What a spectacular lesson.  In the face of fear, let go, face it head on and be met with pure joy.  How many times do we try to control fear, only to have things feel worse?  This happens to me often.  But in those moments when I'm willing to let go and face the fear, I can't think of a time when I haven't been met with a positive outcome and renewed faith in myself.  Have the courage to just let go...

Friday, 1 June 2012

Strength challenged

I am one day from leaving Mumbai after living here for the past two years.  Usually during transitions I am on a roller coaster of ups and downs...mainly feeling like someone should tether me to something so I don't float away with all the buzzing energy.  In March, I participated in Yogaprasad's Teacher Training and Self-development course.  It was an amazing and intense experience that has led to a different transition this time around.  I have been able to observe this roller coaster, but not get on for a ride...well not as much at least. :) I have recognized signs in my physical body and my mind, then paused, and reflected that if what was going on was true or just my emotions and thoughts taking over.  Usually the later was occurring.  It has allowed me to stay more present and continue to enjoy my life here before it ends.

I have also tried something new.  I have experienced two energy healings, something I've not done before.  When it was presented to me, I thought it sounded interesting and wanted to experience it for myself.  Before I did the first one, about a month after my yoga course, I had an experience that repeated itself twice.  I woke up in the middle of the night with an intense, burning sensation right above my navel and below my rib cage.  I laid there observing and wondering what it was about before finally falling back to sleep.  This happened a few nights later again.  Then I soon forgot about it.

After the first healing, which we focused on anxiety and self-doubt, a felt a lot of emotion throughout the day, mainly focused in my throat.  I spent the next week and a half feeling very present...each day stretching out, not being able to even remember the details of what I had planned for the following day unless I looked at my calender.  (Usually at this point in the last weeks before moving, I am very future focused and anxious).  The past few days, I have begun observing as I'm walking around Bandra, my neighborhood, that my breathing is only happening in my upper lungs.  When I tried to deepen my breath, I found that the area in my upper abdomen was very tight, making it very hard to take deeper breaths.

During the second healing yesterday, I felt intense burning again in my upper abdomen.  It felt like a battle of my muscles trying to hold something in.  There was a decrease in this sensation at the end and my breath was deeper.  My thought was, "Whoa...something deep is in there and it's going to take more than just this healing to get rid of it."  In the last 24 hours, part of my mind has been observing this area and I've been trying to consciously relax the upper abdomen.  But, man, it is continuously flexed. Again, it woke me up last night.  I've been reflecting that I've spent most of my adult life challenging my body and mind through risk-taking adventures...pushing my mind and body to discover how far they can go.  I've spent so much time doing this, that I've learned to ignore my body so I can persevere despite pain.  In a class recently, I was reminded to listen to my body.  In this class, immediately, during the first asana, my head had this piercing pain, yet I continued to push on.  My teacher, Aditi, stated she would not tell us when to come out of poses, but that we needed to listen to our bodies to realize when to come out.  Immediately I came out of the pose I was in.  During this class, when the pain in my head started, I came out of the asana.  I held each pose less than I usually did and by the end of the class I no longer had the pain and felt calm and centered.

I feel like this burning tightness in my upper abdomen is my body letting me know it's time to let go of something.  What that something is...still trying to figure that out.  Is it's my body manifesting the process of my mind coming up with a new definition of strength?  Strength does not need to mean physical strength, but rather being courageous to speak my truth and be myself.  Maybe the battle in my abdomen is old identities fighting to stay alive while a more true identity is coming alive...


Welcome!  I decided to create this blog for several reasons.  First, I have found that I am much better at keeping more of a journal on my computer, rather than writing in a journal.  Second, after reading a friend's blog post on meditation, I realized how helpful it was to realize how similar our experiences are.  I hear people saying often, "I tried meditating but my mind won't relax."  They had preconceived ideas of what meditation should be, rather than understanding that calming the mind is part of the process, not the starting point.  Third, I wanted to keep a record of my daily observances of myself in the process of self discovery.  It's amazing how each day brings a new insight or reminder and I don't want to forget them.  Finally, sharing my experience, though it can feel scary to be vulnerable, can be helpful to others.  We are all struggling and it's nice to know you aren't alone.  I welcome any thoughts, comments or discussions...this is how we can all grow.