It’s late evening, Nash has gone to bed and I’ve just been reading my book report book for yoga teacher training (Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss) and I started to think up ideas for this posting – in doing so I have been thinking of when I last posted and the things that have happened since the dates I last posted about.
I posted about our camping trip and the tapas lessons that I experienced – that was around July 5 – this post will come up on the 27th .... 22 days will have passed - 22 days!!
All I can think is WTF?!? (Pardon the acronym profanity) ...
WHERE did those days go, is time really passing by so quickly??!
Those are the first thoughts in my mind, the second cluster of thoughts is the to-do list that is racking up- the hours of YTT, Twisted Fish and Atlas Studio work I wanted to get done this week, the weekly schedule I wanted to set for this blog and all my other “to-do’s”- including dealing with the camping stuff I still haven’t put away from LAST weekend- SIGH – but as I begin to beat myself up about allll that –
In comes a quickie YOGA LESSON (beyond the Asana practice)
–The first limb of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is the Yamas, the first lesson within Yama is: Ahimsa- on the most basic level Ahisma is the practice of non-violence towards all other beings, and towards oneself. So, time to practice the teachings – non-violence towards myself; trying to be kind to myself and know that I have made a great effort in all of these endeavors, made a weekly blog posting (even though there is a bit of a lag in the dates) and I have done my best and am catching up on everything on my list – it will all get done! I need to remind myself that I do my best everyday to get the priorities, and most of all to take good care of my sweet baby.
There’s a quickie yoga lesson for anyone that needs that one – Be kind to yourself-practice non violence- We all need that one a lot I think. Use it.
Anyways, a general day for me looks something like this:
6-7: Wake up with Nash
Feed Nash & Lemon Water & Coffee Me
Chores – Feed & water chickens, turkeys, ducks, sheep & saucy the pig.
Hang with Nash – hopefully Nap time
Getting Ready And whatever laundry, sweeping, dishes, YTT work– I can fit in before..
Nash, Nash, Nash
This is where groceries, dishes, laundry, WORK, things like that fit in
Back out to feed and water animals
730 pm : Nash to Bed
Reading, YTT work, BREATHING, snuggling, Maybe personal practice if it didn’t happen earlier n the day.
Now, that’s as typical as a day gets - and day to day things change, and this schedule gets all mixed around.
The Nash naps don’t happen, or a commitment comes up, or a friend comes over, a camping trip happens, spontaneity happens – LIFE happens.
My day-to-day life generally has an element of chaos – or maybe it is just busyness (and I'm not even working full time right now ... I don't even want to think about/go there yet).
I am sure a lot of you out there deal with the same kind of day to day busyness, to-dos, and maybe even border the line that crosses to chaos. It’s not that I resent all these things I need to do in my life, I love them all, – but I tend to get so many things on the go that stress and anxiety begin to creep in to my mind and body and more often then not it will release in a burst all at once (which isn’t pretty).
I’m starting to feel a bit of this creeping stress and tension coming around now as I have a new bunch of to-dos and priorities related to yoga teacher training and my personal practice commitment. There is a LOT to learn on the path to becoming a yoga teacher - SO much to read and absorb. Learning the workings of the human body and the human yoga body is a big task -
These new commitments have been added into the priorities for the days and weeks– and some of you know, with a 6.5 month old baby – it is really hard to “schedule” anything into a day (this is all a new learning experience for me).
Though I love this wonderful season of summer, it takes trying to get things accomplished to a new level - what with all the sunshine, gardens, friends, bbq’ing, beach, patios, camping, cottaging, boating – whatever you do. I know summer seems to enhance my level of busy, but in the best way because it usually involves sun, friends, gorgeous places & delicious food. However, I still need to make sure I get things done, no matter how much I would just like to lounge in the sunshine (and we all need to make time to do just that too!).
Nash & I like to lounge in the front yard on sunny days :)
To stay on track and try to minimize the anxiety in my mind and shoulders - every-single-day- I write things down – many things.
In lieu of a “schedule” (that I will never be able to adhere to) I start with a list of things that need to get done – the “to do”. The simple to do lists everything I want to get done; laundry, reading a chapter of a YTT book, responding to emails, yoga, vacuuming, groceries, paying bills, calling a friend, washing eggs, showering (I hope I’m not the only mom out there who actual has to put that on the “to do” list).
These lists are important in order to:
a) remember what I have to do (or else I WILL certainly forget)
b) see how much I have to accomplish in a day or week
c) prioritize and ensure commitments to others are fulfilled
d) get all that clutter OUT OF MY head and create some clarity in there
e) Make sure there is room for fun (where-ever possible :))
Beyond the actual “to do” list I like to jot things down throughout the day. What I ate, little thoughts that pop into my head and what I have accomplished (whether it be on the to do list or not).
At the end of the day, I check off the things I have finished so I don’t have to carry them around anymore and I gain some sense of accomplishment. Some days a lot of things get checked off (that feels SWEET!) - those are the productive days. Other days maybe only one thing gets checked off – or none – so then things just shimmy on over to the next day. I also make sure that if there was a priority or a deadline (you know, that “to do” with a circle around it and star beside it and arrows pointing to it), or something that I told someone else I would have done for them, that it got done – even if everything else fell to the wayside.
To do lists, journaling, or just jotting notes down on a little piece of paper is not only a good tool for organizing your chaos, planning your days, releasing nagging thoughts that you need not to forget and checking in with your priorities- it is also a VERY useful tool for a yogi.
Yogis, you know when you sit down to your mat, close your eyes, and there is all that chatter and the to do’s floating around in your head? Yeah, you know. I have found that writing allll that stuff down even on a little piece of paper in your pocket – or keying them in your cellphone, means that when the mat is rolled out you can tell yourself, – “there is nothing to do about any of that stuff right now, the list and the reminder will be there when I’m done – so let’s do this now, and only this and see what happens”.
Try it out. You never know what will emerge out of your yoga if you ACTUALLY hit a space of ONLY BREATH, ONLY MOVEMENT – no grocery list, no to do list, no I shouldn't have eaten that, no “after I’m done”.
This is easier said than done, but it helps, I promise. And if YOU made yoga a priority in your day – none of those other things should matter for that hour or 45, 75, or 30 minutes that you set aside for YOU.
Hey Yogi’s -to the left- look familiar?
HOWEVER – While I have found that what I described above works for me very well when I am out of my house, at the Twisted Fish (or another yoga studio) and taking part in a class - it is proving to be not as helpful as I am working on my 40 day personal practice for teacher training at home.
When I’m taking part in a class, I can really take myself away from all those things to do, away from distractions and I can apply what I have intended by writing the to-do's and all the thoughts down - to just get with the yoga, get with the breath, get with the body.
Of even more significance in the class setting is that there is a teacher, a physical presence guiding my mind, body and energy to stay in the room and in the postures.
I am finding that it is much harder to dismiss and “Shhhhhhh” all that mind chatter that comes up when I am in my own house, often surrounded by the to-do’s and the priorities (or not far from them – especially the most important one (Nash) is usually sleeping in the next room while I practice).
That being said, I usually don't have a problem staying present at home if I am using one of my favourite Meghan Currie or Kathryn Budig vids to practice with - so I have realized that it is less an issue of where I am physically and more that I am alone to internally guide my practice.
Other times when I have done a practice at home without a video, I just free-flow to some music - a little wild-thing here, some side plank, cat-cows - just what-ever I am feeling - with this practice, there is a certain sequence that has an order, a rhyme and a reason.
With this particular personal practice I have to think about the sequence of asana that I have committed to (it’s getting more natural towards the goal of moving meditation as time passes) and instruct and remind myself of what I am doing.
As I internally guide my breath and body through the practice, I have found that often my mind begins to wander and chatter.
Those to-do's, those thoughts - come up, and it is really hard not having someone, a teacher, a voice - something external – reminding you to breathe, to focus, to relax the jaw, to move through Warrior now and not Surya Namaskar A-again, etc.
I have my inner teacher guiding me through my asana and breath, but then I have an almost internal dialogue between two “voices” (am I starting to sound crazy?).
One voice comes in butting the focused yogi out and trying to bring up all these other thoughts and ideas and forecasts and furrowed eyebrows because the dog barked or Nash whimpered or whatever else. Next thing I know, I've repeated the right side warrior twice or skipped extended side-angle, or have no idea what my breath is doing or how long I've been in a posture........
It's frustrating for me - this is a whole new challenge.
So, my exercise of writing things down and remembering the time I have set aside just for this focus- hasn’t worked so well for me when it's just me and my internal dialogue.
Here’s what I have been working with as I have been struggling with all the mind chatter:
An Exercise in Imagination & Visualization
I always try and envision that in my practice I ride the breath like waves – so as thoughts come up I imagine that those thoughts get put into a bottle and I let them float around-contained by the bottle; knowing that these thoughts will float back to me when the waves calm down and I wash up on shore when my practice, my ride, is done.
This works in my mind, I can see it clearly– though I may have to bottle and send those thoughts to float several times through the practice – I am getting better. Someday it won't be difficult - practice, practice, practice.
In my favourite shape- wild-thing or flip your dog (I've hear it called many things).
This shape feels like the best de-tangler for me - where I can let everything fall away.
With around 24 days of this practice under my belt as I am writing this, it isn't difficult to get to the mat most days- but I will admit - this same sequence every day is getting to me a little bit (how spoiled am I?!) - but that's part of the commitment - observing what comes up for us as we practice these asana for 40 days - and obviously, things are coming up! (I think I'm learning some yoga teacher in training lessons here people!!!)
And I do manage to fit in a little extra time for a power class at Twisted Fish, or a serious Meghan Currie flowy play, or a sweaty core session with Miss Budig - but it is definitely not feasible to indulge in all these extra treats every day.
One other exercise that I have drawn from yoga and have since used daily to calm the chaos in my mind on the mat and in the day to bring some perspective out of bad moment- is INTENTION.
It took me awhile to figure out “Intention”.
I used to only set intentions when I was asked to at the beginning of a yoga class and it was usually “Be Here Now” or "Breathe" – because Christie said those might be good ones :) - and they ARE good ones, always! Those two intentions are simple and help me through the practice to stay in the room, in my body, in a tough posture.
Now I set intentions daily and I branch out from thinking of an intention only relating to my practice – though I may set it on my mat, the intention applies to my yoga practice and to all aspects of my life.
Here’s what works for me:
Think of the intention as you wake in the morning, or when you are in the shower, or driving to work, or if you practice asana early in the day – when you come to your mat.
Repeat it a few times in your mind – or aloud – whatever works for you.
Maybe it's an intention you think will serve you through a tough day ahead, maybe it's "Perseverance" or "Strength" or "Calm" or "Smile"
Breathe with it & in to it.
Common intentions I find myself setting in the morning are:
Patience, Sweetness, Love, Trust,
Understanding and "Guts"
I breath into it, I bring it up in my practice and/or I write it down and remind myself when I need to – like when I am uncomfortable in a posture or struggling with my chattering mind, I bring in the "Strength" or "Calm" or "SMILE" - at 3 o’clock when Nash hasn’t napped all day and its getting cranky and I haven’t been able to practice yoga or go to the grocery store or shower– I just remind myself, “Hey, remember?- "PATIENCE" - Life is good. There are countless times when remembering an intention could turn your day and your attitude around.
Try to write it down - make it real & remember it–
and don’t let it fade as the day wears on you
I used to get angry and bitter and grumble when things didn’t get done. And you know, sometimes I still do. Day by day I am getting better at organizing my chaos a little bit and remembering all I can do is try my best, focus on the priorities, and not beat myself up when things don't go how I thought they would.
I hope this post hasn't seemed like I am whining about how much I have to do - and maybe I am - not much though :)
Amidst everything that could come up - I remember my intention, I focus on the SWEETNESS and that life is wonderful and beautiful and I have every reason to smile - constantly.
But I am human and things get to me sometimes :)
If you struggle with this type of wandering, chattering mind while you practice –
How do you deal?
Do you notice a difference if you practice at home versus at a studio?
Would or does visualization like the one I described above work for you?
Do you set a daily intention? Does it pull you out of a rut in your day?
“Out of clutter, find simplicity. From discord, find harmony. In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”
This isn’t a quote from an insightful yogi or Buddha, Lao Tzu, Osho or Iyengar– but Einstein is good in
my books. I've never heard tell of Einstein doing yoga- but I'm sure he could appreciate it.
I find this quote speaks to me and probably resonates with many other people. It is a good way to think about how we should approach resolution when we are amidst clutter, discord and difficulty in our lives –
which are aspects of every life, almost every day to some degree.
Until Next Time,
Sending out Peace,