Energy Sensitives, Healing, yoga

Change Takes Alignment, Not Time

I was practicing yoga on the deck today (one of many reasons I will never complain about being a grown-ass woman living with my parents: private home/yard surrounded by nature where the continuous sound of birds overrides the sound of traffic) and I had one of those common sense epiphanies. Always love those. And me being me, I got super meta about it. I was simply re-centering myself in Tadasana, the blueprint of all poses (aka standing in anatomical neutral). Just as I noticed tension in my low back I was guided by the words: “Just come back into alignment to avoid injury.” As I scooped my tail and relaxed my lower ribs, my back calmed. 

Good advice, I’d say. Proper alignment it crucial to injury prevention. I’ve been practicing alignment-based yoga for years and have loved getting technical and geeking out about body mechanics and how they effect our non-physical layers. I also have a long history of chronic injuries, and I sense that a part of my fascination with alignment has to do with avoiding pain. The truth is that with my ultra sensitive nature I end up feeling pain after most of my practices. I have a tendency to look at this in two ways: 

1. My injuries run deep enough that they will never heal.

2. I failed at alignment and that’s why I am in pain…I STILLLLLL need to work on        boundaries. Typical. 

Neither are very positive… At this particular moment I realized I have been approaching alignment as a form of protection, and have been ignoring the overall essence of what alignment is: It is what allows for all things to manifest. It is the foundation for us to reach out and create the pose of our choice with integrity and wisdom. It is what keeps us balanced and centered so that we can reach and stretch and explore sensations that keep us engaged and curious about living. It is the framework for feeling, rather than just doing and thinking. Form means nothing, can provide no nourishment when the alignment is not there. You can take any position you want, and it will not transform you unless you are holding yourself in such a way that allows energy to flow smoothly. Lack of integrity is what makes us scattered, compressed or unreceptive. 

I will say that I have excellent form and integrity. Yet, I often “reach”because I should, and not as an authentic result of energy flow. It is interesting that my injuries keep nagging, while I keep nagging myself, to uphold structure and safety, and let possibility and potential stay on the back burner. I bet you will be surprised (not…ha!) to hear that I have lived my entire life playing it safe, and now I want to explore what alignment can do for my spirit, or rather how my spirit will guide me when I am in alignment, and can access the sweet space of expansion and freedom. (How exciting and scary!!!) We cannot make such things happen by fighting. I must not punish myself for having imbalanced flesh. It is only trying to communicate what I do not yet know how to care for. 

We cannot assume that time is what determines the outcome. Time means nothing when our actions and intentions do not support our desires. Time is what happens in our minds while we learn how to live in harmony, and thus for dreams to enter reality. When things don’t manifest we often assume or worry that they never will, and that they are not meant to be (the job, the vacation, the love, the healing etc). This may not be so, for things will only manifest when they are meant to, which is when your intentions and your actions are aligned with what you seek. Things can happen, shift, transform, manifest immediately if we are ready. We can can learn in an instant if we are open to it, and if we can handle the shift it will create in us. 

This is not to say that I expect to accelerate through all my lessons, and quickly reclaim my status as back-bending queen. Not at all. I don’t even know if that would serve me. (As long as I can do Mermaid Pose and embody my Disney childhood I’m happy.) However, I do claim a new intention and a renewed relationship with alignment on and off the mat. That is to play in the realm of what is possible and what I am wanting, rather than containing myself for the sake of wishfully imagined safety. 

balance, Healing, Self-compassion, Transitions, yoga

Balance is a Moving Target

Buzzword Alert: balance and core

In today’s westernized hot bod yoga workout craze, how many times have you heard the phrases: 

I want to find balance in my life…

If only I could create a work-life balance…

Move from your core!

Engage your core!

Ok don’t literally try to count. These concepts are all over the place. Capitalism has taken hold of yet another thing that cannot be generalized or materialized and has given it a name and face, and convinced us that we need it and that we don’t have the capacity to create it within ourselves.  Everything society feeds us throws us into extremes, and then we come crawling back, desperate for a remedy (temporary if that), remaining trapped without examples of what true, real-life balance looks like. We are told that the more we do, the more we get. Maybe if we made it to a couple classes and chanted a few “Oms” then we would feel better, or even be on the cover of Yoga Journal! The truth I believe I that when you do the optimal amount, you get the best. 

Being that EVERYTHING on my natal chart lives entirely on one side, I obviously have no innate sense of what balance is for me. Besides that, I’m an earth sign surrounded by two water signs, which means my need for stability is often thrown on some wild rides. SWEET. I mean, I may have some intellectual sense of what balance is, but when it comes to actually creating it for myself….well that’s just funny. I may seem all centered and stuff, but trust me, I am working HARD because all of my mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual tendencies work to scatter me. That’s great, cuz it makes me highly curious and versatile, but ultimately it can be exhausting and debilitating, especially within modern culture. Thus, I now announce that I have dedicated my life to exploring what balance feels like for me. So, because I have no natural capacity for balance, I have become quite the expert in my experimental self-inquiry. 

Of course we want to be proactive in creating balance and harmony in our lives. Balance begets health and we all want health. Health is NORMAL. It is the middle between too much and too little.  We know deep within us the familiar place of peace, yet we accept a life that works in the opposite direction. Health and disease are two sides of the same coin. Disease is a deviation of the normal balance. It isn’t a different thing. Thus, healing from dis-ease requires more than just waging war on our imbalances, but to reinstate the natural balance. This natural state of being may not be in your conscious memory and it may seem so far away that you may not even know what feeling you are seeking. Keep listening. Patiently. Compassionately. Consider how long you have been doing things the “other” way….habit evolution takes tiiiiiime. 

Balance does not eliminate challenges or highlights. But it does work to keep you centered in yourself as you face exciting circumstances. Being centered does not imply being settled. You can be centered in who you are and what you are doing, and still desire more of what the world has to offer. Enjoy all the contrast that exists on this magnificent planet. 

The thing is, since you are always shifting, growing, moving, changing, your ideal balance does the same. Take it moment by moment to eventually see the shape of your own balance curve. Every moment you are shifting from pose to pose, your center of gravity shifts as well. 

This brings me to the second buzzword: core.

There is a lot of talk these days about moving from your core…engaging your core, for it is a place to engage, contract, and tighten to become strong. with this approach, our preciously reliable core becomes this condensed point. To remain integrated and balanced, we need our cores to radiate through our entire body, fluffy, radiant and full, not sucked in and flattened. Your center of gravity moves as you do. Allow your core to shape-shift with you as well. Don’t expect the center of your being to stay in one place. That is not what it was meant to do. Balance is a moving target, not a fixed place. Get used to being a work in progress.

Healing, Humor, Patience, Self-compassion, yoga

Self-Compassion and All That

I was at a restorative yoga sound bath last night, and my teacher invited us to have an intention for our practice, as teachers often do. What came to me sounds normal and yogi-like, but for myself, I was caught off-guard: COMPASSION. I’ve been practicing yoga for years and the concept of compassion has always been like, “Duh, that’s why I’m here.”  But I suppose the truth is that I was never ACTUALLY experiencing the practice of compassion beyond an intellectual concept. I would always ask for patience, gentleness, or presence to be my intentions. So when I curled into child’s pose last night, I was like, “Ok lets see how this goes!”  And it went well! My body experienced discomfort and my mind was quite active, especially regarding the discomfort, but my mind also said, “Hey you are feeling things and there is a reason for it.” This doesn’t mean I knew why…and wanting to know the reason is a function of the ego. So I tried to let that go and just say it was ok to be whatever. 

So I woke up this morning with the same intention of compassion and lets just say I’m liking it. I mean, usually I operate in such a way that I hold nervous, rising energy in me when I do EVERYTHING, such as assembling my breakfast, walking into my bedroom to put on chapstick, making sure I push my pee out as fast as I can so I can get on with my life! But today! The constant reminder, “all of that stuff is ok,” has actually made for a smooth ride where my gut doesn’t feel like it is rising into my chest, and I can feel my feet on the ground. My back doesn’t hurt as much as usual. My creativity has been flowing and I have been grounded enough to write this blog! I even pooped three times before 10AM and if you know me, you know that this is monumental! And I’m talking ACTUAL BMs…not those fake-outs that leave you more annoyed than relieved. (Sidetone: the large intestine is emotionally linked to forgiveness, letting go….can anyone guess what I’m working on? Eh?) If you weren’t prepared to hear about bodily functions, pardon me.  I just thought I would offer some tangible examples of how this is going for me. 

All these years of trying to calm my anxious tendencies and be ok with where I am in my life has taught me a lot. Mainly, how much I need to work on patience. Having a lot of ideas and energy and not know how to direct them can cause problems. It can make you more anxious and feel like you are letting yourself down for not being where you want to be. I move fast, but my life moves slowly. (I’ve been told MANY times how quickly I pee but that I made decisions like molasses.) Patience is key to allowing yourself to develop organically and in alignment with what you are truly wanting. It isn’t the way of today’s world. To be patient is to be bold. But, I’m finding that practicing patience doesn’t necessarily make me grounded or at peace. It brings a lot of awareness to my tendencies, but having that awareness usually just makes me hit myself on the head with a stick and say, “BE MORE PATIENT. CALM THE F DOWN.” And then judgement and guilt arise, which even if it isn’t crippling guilt, still perpetuates shame and dissatisfaction with myself. “I’m still operating in a way that aggravates me and I haven’t reached my goal yet,” are the thoughts, even if I don’t know what my goal is.  Patience is important whether you know you goal or not. 

But, COMPASSION has reminded me that it is ok to be impatient. It is ok to be anxious. For me, anxiety is an every-present sense that “something is just not right.” I have a predisposition to feel (even if I don’t think it) something is off. And then that makes me feel like I am off. I’m the problem. So when I practice compassion, I am reminded that whatever is there, is ok for now. You see, GIULT brings shame and keeps you locked in discomfort. ACCEPTANCE makes you feel safe, which allows you to let your guard down and actually let yourself expand into something else. COMPASSION has been the practice that actually helps me find calm and peace. I sense this is because I am inviting myself to just be, in order to transform into something else. I’m not punishing myself for my habits and I’m not forcing myself to be something else.  How can you have patience for where you are without having compassion for where you are? And for the record, acceptance doesn’t mean you identify with what you accept. It means you acknowledge it as a valid experience for the time being. This is soothing and allows energy to shift and expand into something else…something you are wanting. Something that feels more you. Not immediately, let’s be real. It may take time and a lot of patience, but with compassion, you create a context for patience to exist. And to tie forgiveness back into all this, I wonder about the relationship between it and compassion. What I currently say is that forgiveness a post-experience state rather than an in-the-moment state. Forgiveness helps us let go of what has happened, while compassion helps us be with what is currently and continuously arising. Regardless of whether you attribute your tendencies to illness, trauma, your natal chart, your constitution, or your environment, I suggest compassion. No matter the origin, these are experiences you are having.  

So there we go…a little Sunday-morning musing. I wish you all a beautiful week, and that you allow yourself the patience, acceptance, forgiveness and compassion to take a BIG cosmic dump, making space for new life enter you. My guess is that everything gets a lot more funny when you can laugh at al the stupid shit you do. Have fun.