Sunday, November 18, 2012

Note to self: don't eat in the car.

Sometimes it even feels like too much of an intrusion into life even to stop somewhere to buy myself food...
it's almost like my own needs are an intrusion in my life...
of course I spend much of my life caring for other people's needs.

I am interested in the feminist perspective on this.
Also, of course beyond that...
the human, personal.

Taking care of one's self always seems out of proportion -- either people only take care of themselves or only take care of others...

I stopped at my favorite bakery for breakfast. I had the most perfect little sandwich.

I ate it in the car in under a minute.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Not Cooking for One

Ok... I've been dragging my feet on this new project.
I've been thinking about what kind of a construct would work
and if it would distract me from the writing I am supposed to be really focusing on right now...
how to begin, do I have the energy to begin, do I have anything good left to say...

I've been thinking of it like a writing project.
But that isn't how this thing started -- each year I really changed core things in my life... and each year I learned about something in my life that I wanted to understand better...

Over the last two days I have eaten frozen shumai from Trader Joe's (why I don't go there) 3 times and had crackers for dinner twice.

It's such a horrible feeling -- being hungry -- wanting something real -- settling for something unsatisfying and bad for myself.

Sometimes it actually feels like cooking for myself is a waste of time -- or self indulgent -- or too lonely.
Sometimes it is just laziness... just like oil, just like yoga -- it is so easy to be lazy about things. Good things. Things that make a difference.

Construct -- I'm going to make note every time I eat alone. Track it through the year.

Fitting now -- Thanksgiving to Thanksgiving, that will be the span of this year, give two days...  Feast. After Harvest -- we need food and light to get us through the winter...

What will I learn in every meal alone in a year...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cooking For One

Well, a year of yoga was amazing. It taught me so much. And the practice has become part of my life. 

But it is time for the blog to grow and change. This is a project for me about my own writing -- my own creativity and exploration. With each year I learn about myself -- about my own writing -- and about the process of project.

This years' project is called 

Eating For One. See -- I'm advancing -- it has a title. I think it might be a book... shhhh... don't tell.

For a very long time, I said to myself, "I never want to be a person who cooks." Now, I suppose I will have to spend some time exploring that idea -- but in this moment I would rather just shake my head at the person I was... young and... young. 

I love to cook. I love to cook for a lot of people. Harder for me is cooking just for me. And I think this has a lot to do with how I am at being alone. I grew up alone -- a lot... on 17 acres of woods... surrounded by silence. I marvel sometimes that that experience didn't make being alone easy now...
but it didn't. It was hard then...

I would like to make friends with it now. 

That's what these years have been about! That's the thread! Making friends with things that are in my life that I want to understand better -- that I can't get away from -- that I feel the need to become intimate with... very different pursuits -- oil, yoga, cooking... but how I live in the world -- how we experience what surrounds us -- what we live inside of -- that's what I'm doing here... 

All the photos this year will be mine. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

My Rebellion

I didn't practice for a month.

It's interesting to me -- when something that you work to become committed to becomes something you need to rebel against...

My teacher went on retreat at the end of July and I simply could not make myself do hardly anything... I suppose I did some headstands -- and a few poses here and there -- but I just simply wanted no part of the mat. And I couldn't change it as hard as I tried.

I missed it horribly. I so often miss sweet teacher -- and as the months goes by, some of her voice stays, and some gets dimmer and dimmer and I wish I could hear her now...
My body began to rebel in all sorts of ways -- my knees won't work and things ache -- I don't sleep well. I forget to breathe...

So today I went back. And it is interesting to see -- what stays, what leaves, what fears are true, what remains within.

My strength was better than I thought.
But my stamina was weak. It was hot -- and I haven't been to a hot class in a very long time. I remember it used to feel like it melted my muscles and held me, the heat. Today it felt uncomfortable and stifling.

But still I am thinking about the rebellion...
I think I just got tired of working so hard. Summer vacation, I suppose -- but of course, there is no such thing. I need to find a way to bring myself restorative practice and space within life...

I find mid-life very long and hard -- and I think I sometimes rebel from it all.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

on Interdependance and Dancer's Pose

I went to my first flow class today since I hurt my ankle. It was a gentle class -- it didn't feel gentle.

Healing is so slow.
I tried simply to listen and learn about my ankle...

I am amazed at how long it takes to heal.
I try to always use those times to learn compassion for people who are afflicted all the time... what if I spent my whole life in pain when I danced or ran...

I am amazed at the number of different parts that come into play with an injury...
the hardest thing was balance -- and trying to balance forced me to notice all the weakness -- the weakness surrounding the entire support system...
Dancer's pose -- one of my favorites -- was out of the question.

Holding oneself up and outstretched -- it's not an easy task.
Injury radiates through the body -- weakness is shared through proximity...

Each piece has to be strong enough to do its part to hold the weight of the body.

I am amazed at how frustrating it is to feel weak -- to be out of control of the time and the process...

It's one thing to be gentle with the namable pain -- but there are so many working parts which also become fragile -- also feel wounded -- also need to be cared for and built back slowly and with patience...
and the pieces that are seem so far away from each other -- on the other side of the foot -- in the other parts of my life -- they are unmistakable joined -- unmistakably interdependent...

and there is always so much to learn in the meantime -- who you become -- it's not who you were.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Brilliant Teacher

Hard teacher needs a new name -- I think it might be Brilliant Teacher. I am learning so much from her about life and practice and myself.  I miss sweet teacher -- but feel like this new space has opened...

The work Brilliant Teacher asks us to do is really hard -- it hurts and it pushes me and it requires me to understand the ways that I need to shift what I thought I had been doing well. This work requires me to shift what I thought I knew. They talk in yoga about the beginners mind... about the importance of always learning and listening and opening. There is no achievement -- of course -- there is only exploration, curiosity, understanding. Where you are strongest is where you have to grow the most. Where you are weakest teaches you about building...

And Brilliant teacher talks all the time about discipline and commitment. Her teachings support me every day...

but I realized yesterday her teachings have also completely blockaded my practice.
I work so hard for her -- push myself so hard -- that I don't want to do my own practice. I used to wake up and look forward to the mat -- but now it just feels like another struggle -- at the beginning of a day of so much struggle.

It's important to work. Discipline. Structure.
But I have to put her out of my mind, now. Sometimes the work is not in the difficulty. Sometimes life is the difficulty enough.

This week I will set an intention to enjoy my mat -- to let my body and my heart and my energy guide my practice. There is a poem by Ann Sexton I think about often when life feels exhaustive... she says, "I'm tired of being brave."
I will let my body and my heart and my energy be my guide and I will save my hard work for her supportive time.

And I will try too to ask only that of the people I love.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

My Door

Yesterday in class, Hard Teacher read a passage from Light on Life which talks about the space within and the space outside a vessel. A vase, a body. In art there is negative space -- there is line and form and light and shadow. I have studied visually the way the one creates the other...

When we work a pose, she said, we are used to working on the outside space. What I want you to play with today is the interior space...

There are ways that when we contract, it creates freedom. When we push against ourselves from the inside, we become freer...

She had us take three belts with us to the mat.

At the end of class, we went into shoulder stand. But not just any shoulder stand; shoulder stand with three belts. It felt a little like some sort of strange bondage fiasco... One on our arms, behind our back -- one on our shins, one on our ankles.

You'd think it would be harder, holding oneself strapped in...
it's scary -- I thought I was going to fall...

but it was so unbelievably light.
it was as if, by being contained, the legs lost their connection to the earth...

So I was thinking about that this morning -- as I went to start practice -- which I will have to return to later. I was thinking about how, in life, sometimes it is the restrictions that allow the space to open up -- outside and inside... the binding brings the light.

And it feels related to this other thing I was thinking about this morning. I am trying to change my headstand ascent to both legs and once -- as Hard Teacher feels this is the right way to do the pose... sigh. I'm solid in the way I go up now -- but the baby steps of reverting to two legs has me back at the wall...

the walls, in my case, are the doors of my living room. I managed it -- with a little hop, my two legs up -- this is a major feat for me right now -- I made it almost all of the way up -- then reached my toes to the door for a moment of steadying.

The door, of course, opened.
I fell sideways.  Landed on my ankle. Left my practice for later -- for which I am also judging myself...

You know, I am pretty sure I would have been fine if the door hadn't been there.
But if you think there is support -- and it fails -- balance is nearly impossible.

Maybe it's a matter again of looking to hold tight the container -- to feel the support in the vessel itself -- not looking for the strength outside -- but allowing the strength inside to be supported by the pressures and the binds of the day -- to take strength from the space that opens in response to constraint.

Monday, May 21, 2012

It Was In the Cards

This morning during my practice I kept finding myself just lying on my back staring at the ceiling. I was disappointed in myself -- and the practice -- and I'm just tired of my body today. It seems unfathomable to me -- after having so many varied ailments over the last year -- that I would fall out of bed and screw up all of my mobility for months to come. Irony of all irony, my own bed is on the floor.

As I was driving around this morning, running icky errands, I kept thinking, where is the yoga lesson in my practice this morning...

This afternoon I went card shopping. I love cards. Spend silly money on cards. My absolute favorite cards are letterpressed with a dark sense of humor. Love those! I was looking for a birthday card for a friend -- I got two for myself.

One is a get well card, it says -- "Heal in your own time." Then you opened it up and it said, "Get well soon seemed bossy."

Of course. Injury happens. Healing happens.

Because I have been off my feet, I have done amazing work on strengthening my core and opening my hips. I've learned how malleable the practice can be when I need it to be. I've had to choose again and again to find ways to adapt the practice to my body -- which is, truly, the core of the practice.

My own time.

The other card has a beautiful photo of a sunset beach -- reminiscent of something you would probably see Magnum P.I. walking off into in 1982 -- very orange and pink and there's a duck and glimmering water and in swirly letters it says,

"f*#$ yoga."

I dunno, it made me laugh.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Luxury of the fast

Again, during Pranayama today I was feeling so panicky on the exhale.
And I thought, for a moment, that is just the way I feel about love.
(Then I thought, for a moment, I should get up and write my blog now -- then I thought that would be decidedly not finishing my practice... sigh.)
And I'm always amazed at what happens if you stick around...

Sweet teacher says, it is a luxury to be in your body, with this hour, on this day that will never come again... (she did it, she left to give life... I learned so much from her this year. All health and safety to you and your family, Justine.)

I usually end my practice reading Rumi. I like the way that randomly flipped to input from the outside creates metaphors and connections in my mind. I like listening -- and I like the focus on meditation...

And today he said,
There is a hidden sweetness in the stomach's emptiness."

I like it when it works that way.

"We are lutes. No more, no less. If the soundbox is stuffed full of anything, no music."

I think I will read this again before my next breath work. Maybe I will read it again before my next goodbye...

 "When you fast, good habits gather like friends who want to help..."

I think it's so interesting to notice in me the force of the feelings of loss and fear when intellectually I know there is nothing wrong in the moment. Intellectually I know I am not in danger of suffocating -- and, in fact, it would be extremely difficult to suffocate in the middle of my living room floor -- even if I set that as my intention, my body would rebel -- would take the breath I needed against my will.

And still the fear can well with force and power.

I have enough breath. I am not in danger of starving. I am not in danger of being alone.
I have the luxury of choosing not to rush this morning.
I have the luxury of noticing...

"Expect to see it, when you fast, this table spread with other food, better than the broth of cabbages."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Because of love.

Went to yoga today with a sprained ankle... I felt dumb doing it -- I knew vinyasa was not a good idea... but Sweet Teacher -- she's almost gone now. And I am going to miss her a lot. So I went. And it hurt -- I learned and I practiced and I took breaks and I was very tender...

Sometimes you just have to go ahead and be there, right -- even when it hurts, and it exacerbates an injury or it calls up sadness or separation anxiety. Because of love. I had a dinner like that this week, too.

Today I asked about how to begin to work on balance in a hand stand.

We always think about extremities, right -- Sweet Teacher said. But it's not about that at all. Balance from your core -- let the strength and straight come from your center and your legs will have no choice but to come off the wall.

We waste so much time on the extremities... those things outside of the real change that needs to be made -- the real strength that needs to be found.

Travel safe and be happy -- you will be missed.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

To Seek Out Difficulty

I think it's so interesting how things that used to be dificult become simple. How strength -- as if suddenly -- becomes possessed. The body learns.

How next to seek out difficulty... because it is in the focus and the attention to the weakness that we become strong.

Monday, April 16, 2012

In a Hurry to Inhale

In addition to taking the class from Hard Teacher, I am taking a short course from her in Pranayama. I find it very interesting to learn about the expansiveness inside.

There was a saying in graduate school in poetry -- if you have to ask the question you will never know. Poets are so snotty. I'm not sure it's different in yoga, but the teachers smile and say, listen to your body. I think it's the same answer, just one is meaner... sigh.

Last week I talked to her about my anxiety about the exhale. It makes me scared to be empty of breath. I feel like I am not in control. To hold the breath out seems almost to invite emptiness... emptiness of life.

We do a three part breathing -- upper chest, ribs, abdominal... breathe each separate; pause between segments. I asked -- is there a pause again before inhaling...

It's not so much as a pause -- think about the idea that you are not in a hurry to inhale.

Isn't that wonderful. Not in a hurry to inhale. It's not an expulsion -- not a denial -- simply a moment -- like Scarlet O'Hara for pranayama... I'll thinking about it when I get to it...

Aren't we so conditioned to rush the next --
Don't leave a job without the next --
Don't leave a love without the next --
I don't even think I ever run out of peanut butter...

Of course if you know you are safe -- and loved and housed and fed...
If you know that breath is waiting to fill you and life is all around...

You don't have to be in a hurry at all.

Friday, April 13, 2012

My New Teacher

I have started taking a really hard yoga class. I mean, the class that I usually take is hard, but this is different… it’s a hard teacher, a hard style, a small group, it’s two hours. I have been wanting to study with this teacher for a long time – this is the woman who almost made us all throw up on Valentine’s day with her crazy back bends… anyway, this was the only class that was open – and she said she thought I’d be fine. Even though I haven’t taken her classes before… even though I don’t know the Sanskrit.

I'm finding it an amazing experience. Both the body opening and the thinking about life – it’s making me examine how I handle difficulty. This is important information – in the practice for life arena.

First off, I am surprised that I asked if I could join… Despite being an advanced student – in some sort of relative way – I would happily have joined her beginning class. Mind you, I’ve been practicing yoga fairly regularly for ten years. That usually meant weekly, aside from a few gaps. Different styles, and I’ve watched my body go through different phases and tasks with it – I feel like I’m really studying for the first time now – but ten years. She teaches the Iyengar series’ and I would like to begin at the beginning – I believe in that. But I’ve been trying for over a year,  and I couldn’t get in. So I am looking at this – and one the one hand, I appreciate that I have the mind that I am a beginner. I have a love of mechanics and a love of precision. At the same time, I am slow to admit skills…

It’s a really hard class – and yesterday I didn’t know if I could do it. We did a few things that made extremely uncomfortable. Hanging from ropes from the wall and pulling ourselves up and down – using the weight of gravity to enhance shoulder opening and back bending… I seriously wanted to throw up.

She also wants us to get up into headstand with our two legs together. I tried that this week at home – I don’t know how on earth I’m going to do it – ever. She said “you are not beginners anymore.” She’s going to need a name… not Sweet Teacher… sigh. Don’t get me wrong, she has her heart opening conversations – and I really love her teaching – but we aren’t just playing around in there… She talks about rigor and discipline – weakness means need for work, not ease.

So it’s hard – how do I deal with difficulty? How do I listen to my body over my pride?

And yesterday I realized – that because of this thing that I do – of always wanting to know for certain that I am qualified – I am often overqualified for situations. Also, I am rarely pushed. I would never want that scenario for my children… while we know that comfort and ego are important, we also know that challenge leads to growth and fulfillment…

Maybe it's time to hang from the walls of life a little more... start working on my core strength.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

My Least Favorite Pose

Today in class Sweet Teacher asked us what our least favorite pose was. I answered incorrectly. I said frog, but I think my least favorite pose is warrior… sigh. Sometimes shoulder stand. Not headstand anymore…

It was interesting to think about it – I realized how it changes – from day to day, the thing that is hardest is different… the day the mood the moon...

She said, again, let go of that thing you’ve been holding onto which is no longer serving you. I have one particular huge thing to let go of… it seems she always says that at a critical point in that process.

I think I understand something today. About the transitory nature of struggle. And the transitory nature of letting go. This is what is hard for me today. This is what I need to let go of today…

Something as simple as locust.
Something as difficult as love...

Tomorrow it may be entirely different.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Walking Shivasana

So - -I get these really goofy updates from Yoga Journal. They are trite, and new-agey – and sometimes nice little reminders in the morning – like the note on my phone to remind me to call the dentist for my daughter this morning…

Anyway – this morning it talked about yoga as a practice for life. This is not a new concept – but I think I like it a lot because of the play on the word practice. It talked, too, about listening – not making wrong choices – like doing a resting practice when you are feeling lethargic – or not doing a rigorous practice when you are tired or weak… So this morning I set as my intention to do the type of practice right for me today… I set as my intention to listen.

In my life, I feel that things are very unpredictable. I keep wandering into situations which then change unpredictably – rules and contracts change without my say – they disrupt. And I’ve been upset by this all weekend. These are big things -- hard things -- heartbreaking things, and issues of safety.

So I did a more rigorous vinyasa than usual. Power. Movement. Then I worked on handstand (I can kick up!). Then my headstand practice.

As I moved up into headstand, I felt strong. I wavered moving up, but also felt the strength that allowed the posture despite fluctuation. Sweet Teacher always says that it’s after the third minute that a change – heat and release – happens in the posture. Today was going to be the day…

Then the dog started barking at me. She started circling me. I had to tell her no three times. But I felt my neck had moved slightly – so I came down. She lay down, but not serenely. I did a counter pose – then a hip opener. She started getting more and more agitated. I had to do the second side of the hip opener, but could only keep her  calm by scratching her nose as I stretched…

And then the practice was over. 

I decided I would try to do a walking Shivasana…
because, of course, this is where my practice and my life is right now.
You can listen or not – but it’s easier just to notice that the strength is there – to lift up and to come down despite the fluctuations…

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Of Hyacinth and Hope

The weather is unseasonable.
It keeps going... but I keep waiting for winter...

The flowers are out. The breeze has that soft, sweet lift… it’s warm…

This morning, Sweet teacher had us hang our head back – and where our hands usually push our pose further, today, she had us take hold of our necks
and massage them.

Let go of all the tension. Relax your shoulders. Feel all the stoicism you needed to steel yourself with to make it through the winter…
and let go.

Is it really that time?

Is it really time for boughs and limbs to lift, to light?
For hyacinth?
For growth?

Saturday, March 17, 2012

So Much To Be Afraid Of

Yesterday in the Oms that opened class, Sweet Teacher said, Let the sound of Om remind us that in this world where there is so much to be afraid of, let our own voices never be one of them.

I was next to a brand new yogi – she was new to it all and had stumbled in to this hard class – with chanting and partners and headstands… like flying monkeys and wicked witches… 
She was amazing and I loved being next to her.

And I thought about being afraid of my own voice. How much has changed with this practice.
I’m learning…
the thing about chanting is… I think it feels good. The warmth of the vibration and the way it fills you. I thought about the monks – wandering around in those dank halls – they must have gotten cold when they quieted down – must have missed the music.

I love the way that breath and vibration – love too works this way – can fill and make cavernous that which seems shallow or flat at other times.

She also said, as she often does, focus on the rest moments. Is this where the difficulty is for you…

I realized that that is not where I am right now. I have worked so hard for the last six months to learn about the space inside and the quiet – suddenly I realized that for me the difficulty right now is in the engagement.

I know that the healing has been taking place. I know that I have found a good deal more peace than I had when I began – but then I suppose the next part is… well, not being afraid to come back out.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sweet Breakfast

I was away for a conference in Chicago for just under a week. I had a room that overlooked Grant Park, the city, Lake Michigan. On the first day I had some free time and thought I would do some Chicago things that I love to do... Instead, I barely got out of bed. It was King sized -- with the curtains wide open -- creatureless and tucked in... I think I slept for about 17 hours that first day. I needed that.

This morning I retrieved the dog. She alternated between running in circles and burring her head in me. Now she is sleeping, exhausted from her own vacation, sprawled and at ease.

It was like that with the kids, too. One of those huge hugs which comes with an enormous sigh...
Thank Goodness you are back. I need you.

Vacations are good. Coming home is good. Nourishment. Nurture. I needed that.

I also took a vacation from yoga. My body has been tired. My heart, at times, has felt too open for the pressures right now. The Wise One told me to trust the desire not to tune in for a minute... that it is ok to watch bad TV over Shivasana at times...

Every year that I attend this conference there is some little bit of magic. This year it was breakfast with a stranger -- a fiction writer whose work I had never read -- though I am now working on a recent novel and am absolutely enamored... as I was on Saturday.

I talked to him about my problems with writing. With my loss of faith -- or estrangement as lovers might forget each other... he protested such flowery embellishment. He told me to sit myself down and write. If you have fallen out of love, he said, that is ok. But if you haven't, then you know what you need to do. Thank Goodness you are back. I need you.

And on the first Sun Salutation of the day, the same coming home...
Good morning, Sweet Breath. Sweet Writing, Sweet Creatures.
Thank Goodness you are here -- to hold me. I missed you.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Shivasana Kisses

A funny thing happened last week...
I had this luxurious 5 days where all I had to do was listen to wonderful yoga teachers tell me what to do -- it was spread out over a week, but started with a three hour heart opening workshop -- on the few off days I found sleep more desirable than practice.
It was really wonderful -- and by the end, I noticed, I was missing my own voice. I was tired of other people's practices. I wanted my own.

Why is it so hard to trust my own voice? Believe in it?
What if I was beginning to change that...

I had a funny headstand this morning. First, the doubt. Sweet Teacher is trying to move us into the middle of the room with our headstand. I can do that now. But I'm always scared to. I started a few today -- then chickened out. So I moved to the wall. The door, actually, in this case -- I close the door to the living room and use it as my net. I immediately moved into my strongest head stand to date. I stayed there for about a minute. Then the dog came over and kissed my nose. I didn't fall out -- and even managed a raspy, go lie down. But really, it was so sweet. I stayed another minute and came down earlier than I needed to. I always do that. It's like I have to build the muscles while I'm not paying attention...

She kissed me in Shivasana too.

This was the Rumi I opened to this morning:

Don't let your throat tighten
with fear. Take sips of breath
all day and night, before death
closes your mouth.

Good morning, Sweet Day.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Scared of my shadow...

I get superstitious about some things... it's true. I used to have the collected works of Emily Dickenson by my bed in college -- and pretty much any time I opened it it would speak directly to my situation. There have been other books too. And this crazy guy who does amazing horoscopes... I don't believe in such things -- but him...
Sometimes I think it's just a matter of what you want to hear -- of course -- like a tarot reader ready to pick up on what you are saying you don't mean to. But it's the self tricking the self into belief of insight...

Anyway -- lately -- Sweet Teacher always seems to have what I need in any given day. Sharing and touching and moving into the light.

It was hard to go today -- sort of. Physicality, a bout with insomnia, some scattered work issues... So much that I left for class with nothing -- no mat, no towel... very unlike me. I thought I forgot my phone -- which was in my bag... the picture of the scattered and tattered and entirely non-committed.

But her joy... that would make it worth it...

Any yoga practice worth its salt is not about the sunshine. It'a about the shadows.

The shadows.
If this is a practice for life...
The creatures have been having nightmares... I haven't slept soundly in over a week.
Physical and emotional upheaval.
My therapist asked -- (I need a name for her, don't I... hmmm, have to think on that...) if the pain in your stomach could tell you what it wanted to speak to what would it say? I can't quite go that far with her, but I can rephrase it... Well, I suppose if it was a metaphor it would say, it's one thing to be healing, but you need to take things gently none the less -- I can't really withstand trauma right now -- virus or difficulty is sure to throw things way back out of whack...

"Today I invite you to let any anxiety -- and discomfort -- any shadow to come and speak to you -- to give it some space and help it relax..."

It was a hard practice, but just what I needed. I don't feel like a warrior. I do not feel like a tree.
Good morning sweet shadow.

Let the anxiety tell you what it needs to now -- and then breathe it out. There is nothing left to do for it now.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Out Of Breath

January 28

A few months ago I told a teacher, who was talking to me and a friend about breath and yoga, that breath-work – pranayama – made me panicky. I get anxious in the state of trying to control my own intake – the feeling would well, suddenly, that I would not be able to breathe, that there is not enough air. This is a little ironic, I suppose, as the purpose is to learn how much expansiveness there is – in our breath, in our breathing, in our bodies…

Over the last week I have been focusing on that fear – the exercise is one of expanding breath – to longer and longer inhales and exhales. To pause at the top and bottom of each breath.
It is not when my lungs are filled with air that I am afraid – but when they are empty. At moments, I have emptied all of the air and am still… I feel as if the world is closing in. I feel as if I am suffocating. And I am working on the few moments when I begin to inhale again not to be greedy with the air – to maintain composure and discipline even with the fear not yet subsided – even with belief not yet restored.

Sweet teacher said today, can you make a practice of surrender? Can you make a practice of giving up.

Giving up, she said.
Is it the giving up with the understanding that I will breathe again? That being without is the basis of being with?

Lately, breath work is one of my favorite parts of the day. Each morning I am amazed at the space inside. At the way fear can be worked through...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Practice for life.

January 16

This morning I came to the mat distracted. I resisted the beginning. I started late. I missed the breath work entirely trying to work on half lotus at the same time.

It is amazing that I can begin to work on half lotus. I injured my hip in 2010 and through the middle of last year I couldn’t even sit cross-legged.

I am wavering in my dedication to something else today. Something I believe to be right and true.

So I thought about Sweet Teacher – her voice telling us this is a practice for life.

In wavering on dedication I lost the enjoyment and the benefit of the breath. I lost the peace of the moment. The resistance to what I have set in my path is fruitless then. I am here. I am sitting and I am breathing. I can feel what it is life to find the expansive space inside me – I can feel what it is life to work in coordination with the body and living… or I can resist.

I kept waiting for my daughter to walk in this morning. Hoping I could ask her to take a seat on my mat…
She is fast asleep in her bed.

Sunday, January 15, 2012


January 15

For the past two weeks I’ve been quietly assessing what personal practice means to me…
I thought, at the beginning of this project, that this endeavor might have a profound effect on my life – it has. A week ago I went to another workshop on personal practice. This time, it was less warm and fuzzy – more practical. More practiced.

Devotion. Discipline.
These were the things she said that hit me most.
What do you really want your life to include.

Somehow at that moment something shifted for me.

For the past week I have been really strong at home. I have been writing practices ahead of time. I have missed one day and shortened another from going out at night – a few glasses of wine later I found myself needing sleep I couldn’t get up… that leads me to ask this question again – what do I want in my life… to what am I devoted, what does discipline mean. I know that I need to be social. I know that I need to relax with friends. So what does this mean – what do I need to miss or make up… Life feels crowded on those days. How do we find the time for the things that are most important?

Mostly this week I have been in a really good space, despite it being an externally difficult week..

But this morning I woke up uncomfortable. Edgy, sad. Creaky too. I decided to work on my hips. I decided to try to hold warrior. I overshot. I couldn’t do what I’d hoped – and I was annoyed at my own resistance.

My daughter woke up and came in. interrupting as I was closing the practice. I didn’t feel radiant. I still feel edgy. I still feel sad.

It’s disappointing. I’m disappointed. In myself. In the practice, I suppose. Where is that feeling of peace I left practice with so many times this week? Why didn't I look up, smile, ask her if she wanted to join me?

I’ve taken to reading Rumi as part of the morning – this morning a poem said, people cannot withstand the understanding of the darkness within people… something like that.

Sweet teacher is back – which is such a relief. She talked this week about the practice being practice for life…

How do I accept disappointment? What do I do with that moment? How do I ride out the sad, with the peace to accept the day?

Well, blueberry pancakes are a start. I burned them a little though...

Monday, January 2, 2012

Good Morning!

January 2, 2012

Last evening I went to a two hour yoga workshop aimed at marking the passage of the year. It was a relief – I had somehow frittered away the actual midnight passage being cranky at my children who, though too young, insisted on staying up. My last bad mommy moment of 2011.

I was amazed to look back at the year. What do you bring with you? she asked. What do you leave behind…

What is your intention for the New Year?

I was amazed at the strength I found, as I looked backward. At the wisdom. At the growth.

I noticed another thing, too.
For the second day in a row I was in that room, filled to capacity. Two days in a row we were two inches apart from one another. People turned away…
Yesterday was much warmer – candle light and mantras ending in peace…
shanti, shanti, shanti…

But I missed Sweet Teacher even more, and noticed her lessons most through her absence.
When I started going to her class in September I hated the forced interaction with my neighbor. It felt invasive and forced and hard.
Strange, isn’t it, how hard it can be to acknowledge the person next to you. Don’t say Sorry when you touch someone, she says, say Good Morning.
In the two amazing days at the studio this weekend, neither beautiful brave teacher had us say hello to each other. Because it is rare, isn’t it – the encouragement of connection.

Good morning.

Some amazing people have written me this year because of this little project of mine. I have been grateful for the warmth. It has been far more personal a thing than I have published in years, and has forced me to let go of a lot of who I like to be in public… Thank you for reading. It feels strange to write that – this is, really, mostly internal ramblings of some small bit of what is going on with me one day... 
But I think I bumped into you by accident this morning. 
Good morning!