Here is a short and simple guide to help you eat better this holiday season. If you follow these simple guidelines, you will feel better in your body, put on less pounds and be less likely to get sick!
Wishing you and yours the happiest and healthiest of holidays!
I’m writing a series of blog posts on Radical Self Care: Become Your Own Best Care-giver! In my last post, in honor of the Day of the Dead, I wrote about how we learn self-care and care-giving from our own care-givers. In the next few post, I will write about how Ayurveda views self-care.
In Ayurveda, there are 3 main ways we fall into dis-ease. My teacher of Ayurveda, Cate Stillman, has written about these three causes of disease in her blog: How to Sink Your Ship (Ayurveda and the Three Causes of Disease) published by Banyan Botanicals. In this series of blog posts, I’ll unpack each cause and discuss how understanding this can help you orient toward better self-care.
According to Ayurveda, the first way that we way we fall into disease is: prajna parada, or making negligent choices.
I’ve written in a couple of blogs about what we do when life throws us a curve ball. Well, we sure got a curve ball this week. Like many of you, the election results caught me totally off guard, and I was unprepared for the wave of emotion that hit me in the early hours of Wednesday morning. Disappointment. Grief. Fear. Despair. The election of Trump feels like a blow to so much that I stand for and hold dear. I slept poorly Tuesday night and woke up Wednesday morning feeling contracted, small, and shut down.
Yet, I got up and did what I always do every morning. I got up and did my meditation practice. So did my 12 year old and my 15 year old. It’s what we do every morning. It’s a practice that I’ve cultivated over many years, and I’ve passed on to my kids. It’s the most reliable way for me to steady myself when the world is shaky. It’s a practice that that cultivates resilience in me, the ability to surf the waves of life and to steady myself when life throws a curve ball. Mediation helps me keep the container of my body-mind strong and adaptable. It’s what keeps me whole.
Meditation is no small thing. I do it, of course, for myself. I do it so that I can feel better. But, it’s not just for me. It’s a form of activism. I don’t meditate to get good at meditation. I meditate to get good at life. I meditate so that I can be a better mother, spouse, teacher, neighbor and community member. I meditate so that I can more open minded, see the big picture, and speak and act from a more compassionate and skillful place. I meditate so that I can live my life from a place of wholeness.
An on-going theme that I teach in my courses and explore in my own life is how to become your own best care-giver.
A good way to begin to explore this theme is by remembering our own care-givers and becoming aware of our learned and inherited patterns of care-giving and self-care.
Who were your primary care-givers? Name them. Your mother, father, older siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, teachers, etc. Your list can include blood relatives as well as the special people who showed up for you in your life and cared for you.
In what ways did you experience their care? Maybe it was through physical touch, nourishment, humor, coaching or teachable moments. If your caregivers are still living, consider reaching out to them and expressing gratitude for their care. If they are no longer living, find a way to remember them and inwardly express gratitude.
Was self-care something that was strongly modeled in your family of up-bringing? Did the adults in your life model self-care? Can you remember how your care-givers cared for themselves and/or reached out for support when they needed it?
How is your self-care? What habits or practices do you regularly engage in to promote your wellbeing?
Do you teach self-care to your kids or to the people in your life that you influence?
These inquiries are important. Our own personal health evolution requires a strong examination of the habits and patterns that are present in our lineage. The habits that we learned from our care-givers that are life-affirming, we aim to perpetuate. The habits that we learned from them that are not life-affirming we should release. Yoga is a tool for this process.
This week, when you go to your mat or your cushion, choose to be curious about your lineage. Tune in and inquire into the body-mind patterns (postures, emotions, mindsets, etc.) that you inherited or learned. Begin a conversation with your body, your ancestors and your ancestral lineage.
Fall is an auspicious season for remembering our ancestors and clarifying and healing our relationships with them. There are many traditions around the world for remembering our ancestors. You may choose to create a Day of the Dead altar to remember you ancestors, to celebrate their lives, and to invite their benevolent energy to be present in your life. Additionally, the Yoga and Ayurveda traditions offer us tarpana. Tarpana is a relationship healing ceremony aimed to help individuals clarify and release constraints from an ancestral relationship and invite healing. You can read more about tarpana here.
What does it take to be your own best care-giver?
How have your learned or not learned to take care of yourself?
Learning self-care involves acknowledging how self-care was modeled or not by your caregivers. What patterns of self-care or self-neglect have you inherited or learned? This week, notice your patterns and tendencies.
Last month I did a free talk on Healthier Eating this Fall.
You can listen to the entire talk here:
In the talk, I share:
Here is a tip sheet that you can download and put on your fridge to help you stick to healthy eating. Enjoy!
Fill up your cup! Build ojas
According to Ayurveda, ojas is the life sustaining vitality that promotes immunity in the body. I like to think of it as your energy reserves. Ojas is responsible for sustaining your physical health, mental clarity and emotional well-being. You know when you see a friend who has been taking really good care of herself? She has a radiant smile and sparkling eyes, and you comment, "Wow you look fabulous!" She is letting her ojas shine. When you have a lot of ojas, your cup is full. Your eyes are bright. You look well-rested and content.
When we spend too much time in the fast lane, we spend our ojas quick. You know what I mean - working long hours, forgetting too eat, not getting enough exercise, not getting enough social time. This is a sure way to deplete your energy reserves. The next thing you know, you'll feel crabby and cranky and come down with a cold.
We build ojas by good wholesome living. Fall is a great time to do this. Here are a few ways to build our ojas this season:
INQUIRY: What is one thing from this list that you can prioritize to build your ojas this week?
What do you do when a curve ball comes into your life? Although we can wish that life would stay neat and tidy, the reality is that life is messy. Unexpected circumstances arise. We all run into difficulties, blunders and are subject to accidents, losses and tragedies. Some great and some small. Curve balls hit even those who have the best laid plans. Every human being experiences adversity, stress, challenge and loss.
It is what we do when we experience daily stress or a curve ball hits that can make all the difference. This is resilience, and it is something we can cultivate. Resilience is the ability to adapt to new challenges, manage stress and recover quickly from adversity. While it may seem that resilience is an in-born trait, the fortunate reality is that resilience is a set of skills that can be cultivated. Resilience as the ability to surf the waves of life. Resilience requires a sensitive, strong and adaptable “container” of body-mind. This is something we cultivate through steady and reliable habits and practices that help us adapt, stabilize, rewire and thrive. These habits and practices help us effectively deal with the everyday stresses that arise, so when a curve ball hits, we have to fall back we can bounce back.
Yoga, meditation and my daily Ayurvedic routine are my pillar practices and are my saving grace. Without them, I would be much less grounded. I would be less clear-headed. I would be a less present parent and a less compassionate spouse. These practices act as a buffer and a balm to help me stay steady and grounded and keep my cool with the day-by-day predictable stresses. Of course, the unpredictable challenges or curve balls are always going to be hard. It is very tough to stay steady in the wake of a tragedy or surprising health diagnosis. Such circumstances can broadside us. They will make life topsy-turvy. We might wobble. We might fall. However, if we have practices in place, we are in a stronger place to get back up. The daily regularity of these practices cultivated over a long time cultivates resilience, the ability to rebound after adversity.
I want to be resilient and I want my kids to be resilient. So I do my practices every day. No matter how crazy life gets. In fact, the crazier life gets, the more important it is that I do my practices. When time is crunched, I may do abbreviated practices, but I still do them. I consider these practices a form of activism. I believe that the world is going to ultimately change from the inside out. I do my practices to strengthen the vessel of my human body so that I can be a strong container to do the work of being a good parent, communicating with care and respect, helping others live more vibrantly in their bodies and in this way, contributing to a better, more compassionate planet.
My kids, River and Sage, and I just got back from 8 days of non-stop fun, incredible music, high level creativity and awesome community at the Valley of the Moon Fiddle Camp led by master Scottish fiddler, Alasdair Fraser, in Boulder Creek, CA. I was the resident yoga teacher, teaching yoga to the musicians (who could manage to get up after late night jamming!) every morning, and participating in classes and community activities throughout the day. It was my third year of attending the camp, and it was not only a total blast, it was also a life changing experience. Fiddle camp is totally different from say, a yoga or meditation retreat, but in the end, the life changing effect is very similar.
Here are some of the lessons I learned at camp this year:
Do you struggle to find balance in your life? I know I have. In the past, I have found myself busy from morning until night rushing from here to there, “getting stuff done”, crossing off items off my “to do” list, yet not really feeling like I was living the vibrant and balanced life I wanted to be living. It hasn't always been easy to balance my responsibilities of raising and educating my kids, teaching yoga and wellness, engaging in community activities and finding time for myself. Despite my many years of being a yogi (25 +) and despite all the practices I know and teach, I have struggled a lot in life to feel balanced.
My days involve household work (cooking, meeting the kids' needs, car-pooling), my wrok (teaching, administrative tasks, and personal studies) and personal practices. It's a lot, andI'm sure you can relate to your own circumstances. There are more times than I’d like to admit that in trying to do it all, I have worked too hard, stayed up too late, slept poorly, consumed too many crunchy salty snacks or sweets, wasted time on low-level activities, suffered from poor digestion and neglected my own self-care and fun! Being in peri-menopause doesn’t help either! Ask my husband and kids. They’ll tell you a stressed-out, cranky yoga mom is not a fun person to have around!
For a long time I didn’t know what to do to make my life feel balanced. I wasn’t about to give up my family duties and dedication to raising my kids in the way that I most believed. I wasn’t going to give up the work I love. And, I certainly wasn’t going to give up my yoga!
I’ve been back in Peru for a couple of weeks now and enjoying reconnecting with my community. Since I haven’t been teaching local classes for a couple of months, I decided to reach out to plan a little gathering to reconnect with my Maple Grove Yoga and Vibrant Living folks. I hosted an outdoor yoga class followed by a potluck. It was so fun that I plan to do it again and invite all my yoga peeps, so stay tuned - I have a big backyard!
The women that came to the gathering are all long time yoga practitioners. Most of them have been taking classes at my home studio for many years. Over the years, they have become a strong community. They support one another in learning, growth and life transitions on and off the mat.
I dedicated the yoga class to the power of community. We don’t evolve on our own. Humans evolve best with support and guidance. Whether you are working on strength building, committing to a meditation practice, eating better, improving self-care, parenting better, or aging more gracefully, having community support makes all the difference.
Since we were practicing yoga outside surrounded by forest, I felt inspired to also invoke the elements of nature. I offered a guided meditation on the five elements (earth, water, fire, air, space), how these live inside us, and how different individuals serve as support and guidance to us via embodying these elements.
Try this exercise:
Read the musings below and spend a few minutes in quiet reflection or journaling. Consider how each element is embodied by different individuals in your life who serve to support you in growth, development and inspiration.
Earth – GROUNDEDNESS. Who in your life serves to ground you, anchor you and stabilize you in times of upheaval?
Water – FLUIDITY. Who in your life helps you flow, encourages you “go with the flow”, and assists you when you are stuck?
Fire – POWER + PASSION. Who in your life ignites you, empowers you, and gets you focused on taking action?
Air – MOBILITY + CREATIVITY. Who in your life inspires you to think outside of the box and gets you into your creativity?
Space – EXPANSION. Who in your life helps you expand beyond your limited constructs of yourself, and helps you step into your Big Self?
Are you looking for a supportive community to help you deepen your yoga practice?
Are you looking to find other thrive-seekers to join you and support you in creating habits for a more balanced life?
it’s not fall yet (no, not yet please!), now is a great time to make plans for joining a fall class or program with me (many of these classes fill quickly). You can check them out here.
Greetings from the Andes! I am spending six weeks in the Sacred Valley of Peru and my most recent blog posts are snippets of the lessons and experiences from my time here.
For much of my life, I have been a student, traveler and explorer of many cultures and spiritual traditions. As such, I deeply appreciate this quote by ethnographer, writer and filmmaker Wade Davis:
“Every culture is a unique answer to the fundamental question: what does is it means to be human and alive. When asked that question, the peoples of the world respond with 7000 sources of knowledge and wisdom, history and intuition which collectively comprise humanity’s repertoire for dealing with all the challenges that we’ll face as a species in the coming centuries. Every culture deserves a place at the council of the human experience.”
I have spent a good portion of my adult life as a student and explorer of the traditions of Latin America, particularly the Andes, and the spiritual traditions of India, particularly yoga and Ayurveda. I appreciate the diversity of the human experience and expression, and I love it when I find intersections and common ground between different cultures. Over the past seven years that our family has been spending time in Peru, I have been interested in exploring the intersections between yoga philosophy and the Andean cosmo-vision. I am fascinated with the notion of sacred landscape and ritual offerings in both cultures. As I write this blog post from my home in the Peruvian Andes with a majestic view of the mountains of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, I ask:
What does it mean for a culture to believe that the earth is alive, and how does one act when one has a sacred relationship to the land?
Greetings from the Sacred Valley of Peru!
Oh how I love the food of Peru! Whole, nutritious, hearty fare. I spend quite a lot of time in the markets and in my kitchen when I'm down here each year. In today’s blog, I invite you to check out my best Peruvian breakfast:
Andean super-grains porridge and tropical green smoothie
Here is a 30 minute straight forward Sun Salutation and Standing Pose practice, perfect for getting you up and moving in the morning.
Want more audio practices? Click here.
Off your mat and into the yard, garden and forest!
Spring is full on here in the Pacific Northwest. I love it. Out my window, I’m enjoying the lovely blossoms on all the fruit trees, and in the yard, garden and forest, a feast awaits. I'm not talking about the lettuce plants, although they are growing nicely. I’m talking about the wild and weedy edibles that Nature has provided for my spring feasting.
Eat from your ecosystem!
The deeper I go into yoga and Ayurveda, the more keenly primed I am to align my body with the rhythms of nature. In the spring, our bodies sense the seasonal change and there is a natural urge to make a clean, fresh start. Our physiology is primed for lightening up and clearing winter stagnation. I feel the desire to hit the reset button and detox my body, and the forest, yards and garden are full of nutrient dense greens to support this process.
Most of what nature has to offer in the greens department right now have flavors that are BITTER, ASTRINGENT and PUNGENT flavors found in plant foods that are anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and generally detoxifying. Some of these flavors may be strong or unfamiliar to you, and I give you the challenge to "wild your palate", that is, to get curious about the flavors of the wild edibles in your ecosystem.
Here’s a sampling of what I’ve been eating lately:
How is 2016 going for you so far? This month, I continue to be in conversation with my dharma, my life purpose, and with what is stirring in me and coming alive right now. It feels like a very important conversation to be having with myself. I have been taking some time each morning for BIG LISTENING. The time before dawn is a great time to tap into the BIG SPACE, the space that is bigger than my sometimes small, sometimes contracted self. I love to take this time in the early morning to open myself up to the VASTNESS and to really listen for what is stirring in me.
As a yogi, I recognize that I’m on an evolutionary journey. It’s a journey of body, mind and spirit. I’m in a process of growth, and my yoga is a superb tool for this journey. My mediation teacher, Dr. Paul Muller Ortega, uses a term to describe the dynamic place where you find yourself on your evolutionary trajectory: your identity assemblage point. That is, the place around which you assemble your identity. In my last blog post, I wrote about how dharma is dynamic, and how, as you grow and change, your life work the person you are becoming and the person you wish to become shifts. So, it follows that your identity is dynamic too. We are not static. We are plastic beings. (Thank God!)
New Year, New You. Open yourself to new possibilities.
A few nights ago, I had a version of a dream that I have had before. I dreamed that I found a new room in my house, a room I had never seen before. I was delighted to find this room. The room itself was quite lovely with a window looking out to water. I couldn’t believe I had never encountered it before. Maybe you’ve had this kind of dream. It’s not uncommon. According to dream analysts, the symbolism of the new room can relate to areas of our lives where we are discovering new skills, abilities or strengths within ourselves. The new room serves as an invitation to open our minds to new possibilities and potentials. I love that I had this dream at this time, at this juncture between the old year and the new.
The New Year, a time for self-study and dharma alignment.
The New Year is a new beginning, a time for contemplating, reviewing, re-prioritizing and re-aligning one’s life. In yoga, this type of exercise falls under the category of svadhyaya, broadly defined as the “study of the self.”
I can't believe how time is flying! I don’t know about you, but my December is very full. I have lots to do this month and there are lots of people who need lots of things from me. I can imagine this scenario might be pretty similar for you too. The holiday season can get pretty crazy.
This is when I do my best to remember the command from the airlines to put on your own oxygen mask first before helping others. December is a good time to do this!
Here are 4 Tips for Self-Care in December:
Go to bed early. Seriously! Do it. Insufficient sleep is now recognized as a serious public health concern. Unplug from the enticing holiday internet deals. Lay your work aside. Put your devices away at least an hour before bed. Have a nice cup of tea and get to bed no later than 10 PM for a long winter’s nap.
Stick to a daily routine for exercise. Whether it’s yoga, walking, jogging, or a fitness class, keep it up this month. You will feel better and be less inclined to over-indulge in holiday treats. The endorphins you get from moving your body will make you feel uplifted and will make you a more pleasant person to be around. If you want a short yoga routine: I have several you can download. Look here and here.
Do Restorative yoga. When the pressure from the holidays gets to you, take a break and do some restorative yoga.. My favorites are Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle Pose) (L) and Viparita Karani (Legs up the Wall Pose) (R). I love to do these poses in the later afternoon or right before bed.
Drink warm, soothing beverages. Here are two recipes that are perfect for this month: Herbal Chai with warming spices and Soothing, Anti-Inflammatory Golden Milk.
Place one star anise, 1/2 tsp black pepper, two small slices of fresh ginger, 1 tsp cardamom seed, 1 cinnamon stick, and 1/2 tsp cloves in small pot. Add one quart water. Bring to a boil. Turn off heat. Add 2-4 Rooibos Tea bags. Serve with milk (dairy, almond, soy, etc.) and honey or agave nectar.
Spice and warm. Stimulates digestion. Tasty!
Golden Milk (better than eggnog!)
Heat 2 cups milk (coconut milk, dairy, almond or soymilk) with 1 tablespoon peeled, grated fresh ginger and 1/2 tsp ground turmeric and 3-4 black peppercorns, and a dash of nutmeg and cardamom. Bring to a simmer and simmer covered for 10 minutes. Strain and sweeten to taste (if desired) with honey or agave. Add a small spoonful of ghee for a rich buttery flavor.
Turmeric has amazing anti-inflammatory properties. This is a great before bed drink. Simple, healing and delicious!
These days, I am stunningly aware of the importance of my yoga practices. For myself. For my family. For the world. There are those days that I feel like I am just doing the practice for myself. Just barely making it to my mat or cushion, so that I can feel less anxious, less stressed, less grumpy, whatever it is. But, it is always more than that. Each and every time I practice asana and meditation, there is a shift toward a better state. Something in my that was contracted expands, and there is just a bit more space for light to come through me for myself, for my family, for my community.
As we enter this paradoxical time of the holiday season in the midst of world tragedy, remember that each of us has a role in bringing more light into the world. Practicing yoga is way of creating change, a real and potent way in which each of us shifts our own consciousness toward the light and creates the possibility for more light and peace in the world.
For the past several years, I have chosen as my teaching focus around the holiday time the teachings of the Brahma Viharas, literally, the Heavenly Abodes, the 4 sublime states that are upheld in the Yoga and Buddhist Traditions. These are:
Maitri – friendliness and loving-kindness
Who could use some visual reminders about how to stay healthy at work and school? Me! We are living in a culture that is hyper-focused on productivity at the expense of balance and sanity. The American lifestyle is becoming increasingly sedentary which is leading to huge health problems: obesity, diabetes, anxiety, depression, low back pain, neck pain, and the list goes on. Maybe you’ve heard the line: Sitting is the new smoking.
What does your work or school day look like Are your habits supporting your well-being?
Time for some self-inquiry:
To help my family and your family cultivate healthier habits during the work/school week, I have created two downloadable tip sheets:
Healthier Habits for Work – 5 Great Tips for balance at work. Plus, Carl Dawson's Chair Yoga
Healthy Lunches for Work and School… How to make a mason jar salad and ideas for thermos lunches
Print some off for yourself, for your friends and colleagues or for your kids!
And, for more healthy habits, check out my 10 Weeks to Vibrant Living Course.
To your health!
Autumn is in full swing here in the Pacific Northwest, and it's beautiful! Yet as much as I have always loved the show of colors this time of year, to be perfectly honest, Autumn has always been a challenging season for me. It is a time of year that I am prone to anxiety and overwhelm, and a general feeling of ungrounded-ness.
Despite my many years of yoga and meditation, it wasn't until I seriously began to dive into the lifestyle and dietary principles and practices of Ayurveda and apply them to my life that I really began to feel balanced and vibrant in the Fall. Some of the habits I have cultivated that keep me healthy and happy this season are:
Many us us are waking up in this lifetime to the idea that we can and indeed we must consciously choose to act in ways that will facilitate our own growth and development. We want to release the negative patterns that we carry and we want to adopt more life affirming patterns and habits. That is to say, we want to transform, which is not to say, we don't want to be ourselves, but is to say that we want to be more and more of ourselves. We want to grow into our BIG SELF, our HIGHEST SELF, and to live and act from that place more and more. It is a project of a lifetime for sure. Transformation is possible and it is facilitated by our committing to the activities, people, lifestyles, habits and practices that are in alignment with our BIG SELF.
So, as yogis, we turn to our yoga. We commit to asana, pranayama, meditation, and self inquiry. And, to be successful in this, we need support, guidance, and good teachers and community to stay on our course. Going to classes, workshops and the like are crucial. Yet, at a certain point, you also have to be willing to take responsibility for doing these practices on your own as well.
I know that it's tough to begin practicing on your own. To this end, I will be regularly offering FREE TALKS on subjects of interest to yogis, and in particular, these talks will focus on habits and practices that support vibrant living. The first one is INTRO TO MEDITATION
scheduled for October 20, at 7:30 PM.
As well, I have created a new page on my website: FREE RESOURCES where I will regularly be adding tools and tips to help you with your growth and transformation Here you can access, audio podcasts, short videos and tip sheets to support your yoga, meditation and healthy living.
Please be in touch and tell me how I can support you!
With love and respect,
I have some big stuff to talk about this week. But first of all, how are you? Have you fallen into a Fall rhythm yet? In my last post, I wrote about predictability and boundaries as necessary ingredients for creating a grounded and easeful Fall rhythm. Creating such a life takes work. And, even when we get to a place where we feel pretty grounded and easeful, there are going to be curve balls, and curve balls always test our resilience. This is where daily regularity of practice becomes crucial.
An honest assessment of most anyone’s life reveals that certain stresses and challenges will show up daily in some way or another. Some of these challenges and stresses will be quite predictable. I can count on the fact that school day mornings will be hectic at my house, and that parenting my tween and teen will have its challenging moments pretty much every day. There are the other stresses that are going to happen that are unpredictable: household plumbing problems, unexpected health issues, accidents, the loss of a loved one, natural disasters and human tragedies.
I experienced a curve ball Sunday morning when I went down to the kitchen to fix breakfast for my kids. My 14 year old was listening to the NPR coverage of the shooting incident in southern Oregon. I already knew about the incident, but I hadn’t yet created the time to properly talk about it with my kids. At the moment of entering the kitchen, I had other things on my mind. But, as I heard the latest coverage and watched both my sons intently listening, I realized that I absolutely had to switch gears mentally and be present for what they were listening to and to sit down and talk about the event in a candid way.
I talked to River and Sage about how this could possibly happen. Of course, I don’t really know. Such crimes are unfathomable to me. But I explained to them in yoga terms about the notion of samskaras, the impressions that life leaves on the medium of life itself. Whatever we think, feel, experience or do leaves an impression on the mind-body. These impressions are samskaras. They are patterns that are etched into the body-mind. These samskaras can be positive, negative or neutral. Each day, we accumulate more samskaras. In the case of someone who commits a heinous crime against humanity, one can only surmise that that this person had a very large accumulation of negative samskaras, a tremendous amount of hurt and pain housed in a human body, and quite likely, a life situation severely lacking in sufficient love and support.
I told them that this is where yoga practices come in. As we mature, we have to take responsibility for the samskaras housed in our body-minds. Yoga practices are ultimately designed to be tools for the release of negative samskaras and tools for the patterning of positive and liberating samskaras. We practice yoga asana postures and meditation daily in order to rid our body-mind of negative thought patterns, emotions and physical tension and to replace these with more life affirming habits and patterns. In this way, we become more resilient, more able to handle what life throws our way. And, as well, as best we can, given our individual life circumstances, we cultivate a positive community of supportive individuals.
Not a day goes by that I don’t feel the supreme gratitude for the practices of yoga and meditation and for the teachers who have given me these practices. Just over a week ago my meditation teacher, Dr. Paul Muller Ortega, was in here in Olympia offering his beautiful Neelakantha Meditation practice and stressing the importance of the daily regularity of practice. Both my kids and husband were present for this event and I’m grateful that they now they have this practice.
Yoga and meditation are my saving grace. Without them, I would be much less grounded, and I would be a less present parent and a less compassionate spouse. These practices act as a buffer and a balm to help me stay steady and grounded and keep my cool with the day-by-day predictable stresses. Of course, the unpredictable challenges are always going to be hard. It is very tough to stay steady in the wake of a tragedy or surprising health diagnosis. Such circumstances can broadside us. They will make life topsy-turvy. We might wobble. We might fall. However, if we have practices in place, we are in a stronger place to get back up. The daily regularity of these practices cultivated over a long time cultivates resilience, the ability to rebound after adversity.
I want to be resilient and I want my kids to be resilient. So I do my practices every day. No matter how crazy life gets. In fact, the crazier life gets, the more important it is that I do my practices. When time is crunched, I may do abbreviated practices, but I still do them. I consider doing yoga a form of activism. I believe that the world is going to ultimately change from the inside out. I do my practices to strengthen the vessel of my human body so that I can be a strong container to do the work of peace in the world. As more and more people learn yoga practices, there is a greater possibility for widespread positive transformation in the world. Peace on the inside creates peace on the outside.
Om Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.
It's finally autumn, and my family is fully immersed in our fall schedule: school schedules, work schedules, yoga classes, soccer practices, music lessons, doctor appointments, dentist appointments, homework, grocery shopping, meal preparation for 4, and the list goes on and on. Everyday the schedule is packed. It's nothing new for my family, this ramp up in the Fall. You'd think I'd be good at it after many years, and yet it always seems to catch me off guard and makes butterflies in my tummy and leaves my head swirling.
What to do? It isn't likely that we are going to eliminate any of the activities. I'm dedicated to the idea that each of us in our family will be supported in doing "what makes us come alive." I'm all for passionate pursuits! And one of my passionate pursuits is to create a grounded and easeful daily and weekly rhythm.
When our family is in Peru, this happens fairly naturally because the Andean culture is more rhythmic and grounded and tied to nature than ours is here. Rhythm and ease are respected and built into the day and when we get there, we fall into the rhythm of rising early, eating healthily, getting lots of exercise and going to bed early. This doesn't happen so easily when we return to our U.S. life.
Luckily, I have been working on dinacharya, the Ayurvedic daily rhythm for months now. Fall is the time to hone in on it and make it even stronger. The necessary components for creating a GROUNDED and EASEFUL daily routine lie in PREDICTABILITY and BOUNDARIES.
PREDICTABILITY: Ease happens in the body-mind when life is predictable. Not everything needs to be predictable, but enough of life should be predictable that there is a felt sense of rhythm to the day. Rising, moving, eating, working, hydrating, having fun and sleeping need to be pretty predictable, that is they should happen at similar times each day. This rhythm is settling for the nervous system and optimizes our metabolism and digestion.
To create predictability in our modern life, I have to use a calendar. In my calendar, I enter all of the work time, school schedules and appointments as well as everything else that I want to happen in order to feel easeful. I enter in my ideal meal times, my meditation, my yoga, and walking time into the calendar. I use a digital calendar and a paper one. The digital one is handy, but I also need to print one out because somehow I feel more grounded when I have a paper copy.
BOUNDARIES: It's great to have a calendar, but for predictability to happen, I have to have boundaries. I have to hold myself accountable for what's on the calendar: getting up when my alarm says to get up, taking a break from work when I say I will, eating on a regular schedule and getting off my devices at night and winding down and getting to bed at the time I say I will (10 PM at the latest!). If I don't enforce these boundaries, I'll sleep in. I won't do my morning meditation or yoga practice. I might forget to eat a good lunch. I'll probably do screen time too late. And, then, I'll go to bed late and not sleep as long or as deeply as I need. And, the next day, I'll sleep in again and not exercise again. So, this Fall, I'm learning to do what my calendar says I will do. And, when that doesn't happen (because it won't always happen!) I have to reflect on why it didn't happen. Maybe there was something spontaneous that was a fabulous opportunity and was better than the regular scheduled activity. Great! Or, maybe I just chose to not honor my fatigue and I kept doing something at the computer rather than winding down and going to sleep.
When I adhere to healthy boundaries, my life feels more grounded and easeful because I am less likely to over commit myself to people or projects, and I am protecting the time in my schedule set aside for movement, relaxation, friends and family.
Over the next several months, I'll share with you my tips for creating a GROUNDED AND EASEFUL FALL RHYTHM. You can look forward to posts on:
Until next time!
Recently, I asked this question to several of my long-time meditator friends. All of us have been practitioners of Neelakantha meditation for many years and have experienced the transformative effects of this very practical and potent meditation practice.
Here are their responses:
“Meditation is on my (very) short list of favorite things. It has profoundly touched every aspect of my life, both inner and outer.” - Graham F.
“I feel like meditation is a profound remembering that helps me operate daily from a more authentic space. As a mother I also enjoy basking in the resonant silence.”- Jean M.
“I meditate to return to the center, to experience the spaciousness of the heart and to experience the deep stillness that permeates everything. I meditate so that I have more of that to offer out in the world.” - Catherine R.
“Meditation for me is a pause from distraction, facilitating repose in a deeper, more subtle space which allows me to reconnect with my highest self. This reminds me to live and act from that place.” - Nancy H.
"I meditate because it helps me come back to myself in a world so focused on the external. I needed a practice to help ground me, to support my process of healing, and to help me walk to the great return home, out of which everything wonderful arises naturally - Neelakantha Meditation is exactly this for me. I am grateful and humbled every day by the grace of this practice." - Anonymous
Neelakantha Meditation is an elegant practice that is easy to learn, is governed by the principle of effortlessness, and does not involve concentration or other forms of effortful manipulation of the mind.
Interested in starting a meditation practice or learning more about Neelakantha Meditation?
If you live in the Pacific Northwest, join me next month for Initiation into Neelakantha Meditation in Olympia, WA, the weekend of September 25-27 for a two day course that serves as a foundation for a lifetime of deep meditation practice.
Find out more here.
Educator, certified health coach, educator and yoga instructor.
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The information on this website is for educational and informational purposes only and solely as a self-help tool for your own use. I am not providing medical, psychological, or nutrition therapy advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your own medical practitioner. Always seek the advice of your own medical practitioner and/or mental health provider about your specific health situation. For my full Disclaimer, please go here.