Slowing Down-Breaking the Spell of Constant Doing

Tonight I am writing, cup of tea already finished and the house is quite. I’ve been off work most of the day, had a lovely lunch with my Mama, cleaned the hen house and pulled some weeds. Sun was shining today and though cold wind whipped and gusted being out of doors and not damp was a delight.

As I settle in to my study, letting the day settle around me I am just quietly content. My body tired, my heart full from love and laughter, an easeful feeling in my bones. Such a simple day, fulfilling for me one of my needs, unstructured, unscheduled time.

In my pursuit of a simpler and more spacious life I have been actually creating some of that space, working less, saying no to functions or requests, making simpler food. It all feels quite radical. And I am learning how much I need this- down time- see? we even have a phrase to name this, uncommitted, self directed time. It’s a rarity in our culture and must be guarded fiercely.

I am not a huge new years person, not reveler nor resolution maker, yet I found myself early last month, thinking about my life, my time, joy, commitments, mortality and what the fuck I am doing here…you know the everyday existential  dilemma. In response to all this swirling around in me it seemed the only solution I could find was to slow down. Slow down my schedule, my commitments, spending, consuming in all forms.

I said earlier that this feels quite radical, and you know it really is. Our whole society is telling us constantly in everyway to hurry up, do more, be more productive, spend more, earn more. Madness. Absolute madness. It is no great wonder why so many of us are sick, stressed, spiritually bankrupt and exhausted. How could we not be??

I want to take a moment here, to acknowledge that me having the space to consider such things and the implications in my life, is inherently a sign of my privileged life. There are so many women who’s lives do not bare space for such questioning. Let alone for working less and spending more time with their families. I bow in gratitude for the space and the safety I have in this life.

What does it mean to live a life of simple purpose? What does it mean to give up the pursuit of “becoming” something, anything…wealthier, more lovely, as long as it is something you have to work towards, something that makes you not actually – here.
I don’t actually know yet, because you see I am just beginning to discover, one choice at a time. And its easy to get distracted, and thrown off course. For me it is starting with paying attention, choosing rather than reacting, looking at what actually brings joy, and what resilience means… this is enough for now. It is an awful lot actually.

It’s winter, and my mind is tumbling around all sorts of things, my body snuggling in warm wraps, a hot cup of tea in hand and a good pile of books. I let myself enjoy some space, some time to rest. A period of calm before roots and shoots start clamoring for my attention and the evenings are filled again with birdsong and muddy boots. I just want to enjoy this thing called life, trust in the goodness of it all. Another day will come, and God willing I will greet that dawn, humble and quite, no words are needed when the chickadee speaks so well…
I’ll just feed the birds and go muck the hen house, simple work is good enough for me.

 

 

Body of Wisdom

I wake before dawn most mornings. Drink a glass of  water and take care of the animals. Then it is on to the mat for me. My daily practice of connection with body, breath and spirit. This is one of my life’s greatest gifts, and greatest challenges. Funny how those tend to go hand in hand…

I practice yoga because it provides a reprieve from the absolute insanity and unmanageability of my human mind. It creates some space around my personal self and the thoughts that cause the majority of my suffering in this life. It brings me a sense of freedom in my life….but first it brings up all my shit.  And I do mean all of it. My self worth issues, blame, shame, anger, disappointment, self condemnation. The list goes on and on.

Truth be told,  many days I have to drag myself out of bed, whining and complaining the whole way to my damn mat. I do not leap out of bed with glory and land softly and gracefully on my mat, I have to work just to get my ass there. I have to show up and slog through all of this suffering to reach the core of gold that yoga brings to me. I push through, following my breath. Transitions happening smoothly or not so smoothly, sweat beginning to wet my temples and the small of my back. Present in the moment, the only moment that ever existed, this now.

My body moves on my mat. I do not always love being in my body, my thighs feel too large, my belly heavy. My mind is usually quite sure that there is something terribly wrong and inherently unlovable about me. what am I even doing here? Shouldn’t I lose some weight before I practice yoga? Am I even allowed to practice in a bigger body? Am I a fraud? I come hard up against  my own inner critic. My mean girl is wide awake and talking trash.

I don’t give up, I don’t give in, I don’t even believe that harsh voice. I know  I can only live in love or fear, never both at the same time. And as I keep moving, the magic happens. It all starts to fall away. I lose pieces of my shame and blame. I breath through the self doubt and loathing. I welcome myself here, just as I am . In this human body. This woman’s body. This curvy sweet body. I am woman, I am whole, I am so glad to be here sweating on this mat! Then the joy comes rolling in It may not be there as I rise each day but it is usually there 20 minutes into my practice. I am ALIVE!

I have learned that for me, yoga is not about the shapes I can make. It is not even about shapes. It is about intuition, self mastery ,self love, and prayer. Yes, prayer. I pray with my body on my mat. I  AM a prayer of thanks and praise for all that was so freely given to me. My life, my body, this earth, all the love that holds me up. I pray to what I know not. I don’t think I have to know. I don’t think anything has to be figured out for it to make sense. It makes sense because my body says it does. It makes sense because I feel it.

Yoga is coming home. Home to my own sweet self. The wisdom of my body never fails to speak. It is only I who sometimes fail to listen. When I show up for myself on the mat, I seem to show up better everywhere, for myself and everyone else. Yoga gives me the capacity to be bigger than I thought I was, and own it.

This is why I love teaching so much. We come in through the body but we end up working on the whole package. Body, mind and spirit. The practice brings us into deeper knowledge of self and no piece or part of us is left unchanged. In teaching I get to see others start to realize this. I see students come alive in a new way to themselves. They are coming home too, to their own sweet bodies. What a gift to witness and to share. And the gift just keeps on giving. Day after day, practice after practice. The doors open wider, the heart opens wider. Freedom pours her liquid gold inside….magic.

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