Thursday, 25 July 2019

Grateful for Awareness

If you have worked with me as a client, group member, or co-worker, you will know that 'awareness' is at the forefront of my mind. It is the first step in conscious change. It can be a mind-blowing explosion and quick, it can be a subtle process like cleaning a really dirty mirror, or it can be a 'huh, interesting.'  However awareness manifests, it is the beginning of empowerment to do something different.  I say beginning with emphasis because our mind can get confused with labeling it as an end.

When we identify awareness as an end, when change doesn't just happen right away, the mind may start to beat it's self up.  "I should know better.  Why do I keep doing this?"  When we become aware of a pattern, it's the beginning of the process to start changing it.

I've had several of those BIG 'ah ha' moments over my life.  One happened when we lived in India, about eight years ago and was the catalyst to deepening my yoga practice.  I have had seasonal depression for quite some time in the winter.  I would feel low, self-doubt and low motivation.  My worst bout of it was in graduate school and I did seek professional help for the first time, which was helpful in taking steps with assertive communication rather than holding things in.

Fast forward five years to India.  My mother and her partner were visiting us and I had put together all of our travel plans, going to some places that were on my bucket list to see.  We were in Hampi, which is in Southern India and a fascinating place both visually and historically.  I had been wanting to go there for a number of years after seeing Chris Sharma's climbing video documenting his time rock climbing there. 

Despite this, I noticed I was being grumpy and irritated with my husband though there was nothing specific to warrant feeling this way.  I was mad at myself for being so mean to him. It thought, "What is this?! I'm in India, halfway across the world from 'home' and it's here again?! It's not even dark and cold out!"  It was that moment and really looking at it a couple months later at my first yoga teacher training with my guru, that a light switch went on.  "This depression is ME.  It's how I'm viewing things.  My expectations, the 'shoulds,' and my perceptions." 

This newfound awareness was a big step in my process of gaining more control over my mind, emotions and reactions.  I'm am definitely still on the path of self-transformation with this awareness and a long way to go...though I've come a long way. The practices of yoga, more so Pranayama (breath work), Dharana and Dhyana (meditation), questioning and being curious about my thoughts and beliefs, have done so much to land me where I am today.

I've gone from someone who is an addicted planner with every moment planned out months in advanced and a chronic mover having moved 20 times in my adult life before the age of 40! (The thought of living in one place for longer than a year terrified me until I lived in India, the same flat for two years...Wow!) To now having more weekends that aren't plan than are, actually buying a house that I've lived in for four years with no plan to move, and in all of it just feeling soooo much more content.  Don't get me wrong, some of these patterns show up in other places, more subtly but because I'm aware, I can meet them and make more conscious choices.

This would not have happened, I'm pretty sure, without my yoga practice, the yoga teachers I've had along the way, my guru, and my personal commitment to holding myself accountable for my actions, thoughts and emotions.

Thank you Awareness!!

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Even hummingbirds take time to pause

I looked out of my back window where we put up a hummingbird feeder this year and I saw a hummingbird sitting on the feeder.  It was the first time I had ever seen a hummingbird at rest!  Even hummingbirds take time to rest and pause!

There are so many examples of pausing all around us.  The thing is, we need to pause in order to notice them.  Now that it's summer, the heat of the day is the time when so many insects, birds, animals take pause and rest.  My husband and I were reminded this past weekend why we like to get outside in the morning and then relax in the afternoon in the summer as we sweated buckets in the heat of the day while hiking a favorite trail.

The more subtle practices of yoga like pranayama and meditation are a perfect way to give time to pause and just notice what is going on with ourselves.  There is a natural pause at the top of the inhale, then again at the bottom of the exhale that can only be noticed when we are sitting still. 

Taking time to pause, whether a few minutes during the day or for multiple days of silence...or even
just turning off the phone for a few hours, does wonders to calm our nervous system, slow down, and enjoy the present moment. It helps to help us discern what really is important and what can be let go. It is in the pause where true learning and reflection happen.

Work in pause breaks each day to take care of your body, mind, and spirit. You deserve it!  Whatever is on the 'To Do' list can wait.