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September 29, 2021

 

Letting Go

"Just let it go," they say, "it's toxic for you."

And they're right.

I thought I had let it go, moved on, bade farewell.  Achieved equilibrium.

But then another insult arrived and with it a rush of hurt, a flash of anger, but more a deep questioning:

Why?  Why now?  Why at all?

Why does it still hit me in the heart?

Why can't we just move on?

A clean break, no winners, no losers, just different paths.  Fare thee well.

What is the lesson here?

The scale of equilibrium is tipping.

 

So I sit.  I breathe.  I count my many blessings.  

I watch the sunrise.  I sip my tea.

I contemplate.  I write.

I move.  I rest.

And the emotion slowly recedes.

In these simple acts I find a sense of peace.  This is the real gift that yoga has given me.

While the world at times hands us, all of us, challenges to our sense of balance--disrespect, unkindness, misunderstanding, even hatred--we can move towards equilibrium by turning to simplicity.

Sit, breathe, notice, embrace, and release.

Perhaps for some, letting go is quick and easy; it isn't for all.  

It's a process.

And as I watch the trees take their time in shedding their leaves, I am reminded that there is beauty in change, and lightness in release.  And, ultimately, over time, a space is created for sunshine to enter and new growth to emerge.

And so it is,

Julie

 

Why I Do Yoga

Posted 11/21/2021

Why I "do" Yoga

Honestly, I don't really do yoga.  It's more that I am yoga.  Or that I live yoga.  Or that yoga is life.  Because it's not really about the postures.  It's not about being on the mat, practicing acrobatics.  Can I sit comfortable on the floor with my legs crossed for extended periods of time?  Yes.  Can I balance on one foot, arms to the sky, in a tree pose?  Yep.  But that's not really yoga.

Yoga happens off the mat, when I am sitting at the eye specialist's office, waiting for an hour and a half in a room separate from my mom (due to Covid protocols).  I see the minutes tick by and wonder if my mom, who is permanently hooked to oxygen tanks, is worried that her tanks will empty and we'll have to leave before finding out why she suddenly lost all vision in her left eye last night.  I think about dad, who is so sick this morning that he couldn't accompany mom to the appointment and I wonder if he is resting or worrying about mom or feeling terrible because he wishes he could be here for her.  I wonder what the doctor will say:  Torn Retina?  Eye stroke?  Vision will return?  Or not?  My mind could get quite carried away with worry, if I let it.  I need to stay grounded and focus on this moment.

So I put my feet flat on the floor and I feel the earth below me; it's solid and steady and I need that right now.  I just remarked to students this week that "the earth is here always here for us; it will literally catch you if you fall" and those words come back to me.  I say to myself "the earth is below me" and I feel it there, supporting my feet and all of me.

I wrap my fingers into the loose fist, thumb tucked, hand gesture of Adhi Mudra.  It helps to invoke stability, steadiness and we practice it often in class.  I begin to watch my breathe and I can feel the exhalation becoming gently longer that the inhalation, signaling my nervous system to calm down.  I become aware that my shoulders are slightly raised and forward, a protective posture--and my heart does want to be protected from the pain of watching my parents hurt--but I know this is counterproductive.  So I let my shoulders ease down and back so that I can take full  breaths, nourishing my body more fully and also experiencing the fullness of the moment.  It's scary, it's worrisome and it's hurtful but hiding from the truth is not going to help and to me, it represents living a half life.

So I sit like this in the waiting room, feet on the floor, hands in a discreet Mudra, joints stacked, shoulders softened, chest open, breathing into my belly.  I  allow the breath to keep my mind anchored in the present moment.  I let the inhalation bring presence and I let the exhalation bring release.  I feel my heart rate moderate, I sense my jaw relaxing and I feel stronger inside.  I can meet the diagnosis with strength, calm and equanimity.  Loving presence and a clear head.  This is what I want to give to my mom.  "Oh my God, what will we do?" will  not do her any good.  So I continue watching the breath, feeling the earth and becoming more settled.

This is why I "do" yoga.  For me, it's not a practice of physical postures that showcase the shapes my body can make.  For me, Yoga is the living, breathing presence of the body and soul in each moment.  It is the acceptance of the joys and the sorrows with equanimity.  And it is, indeed, a continuous practice--life hands us opportunities every day, to practice steadiness and ease of breath in the face of great beauty and great challenge.

Eventually we do get to see the eye specialist and we hook up mom's second oxygen tank just in time.  We receive the news that mom has suffered a stroke but it was contained in her left eye.  She is now, and will remain, completely blind in that eye but her right eye is healthy.  Not the best news but not the worst either.  I feel the earth below my feet, I take a deep breath.  I will now be the earth for my mom; I will lend her my strength, just as the earth lends me its strength and solidity.

And my mom is strong.  It shines through as she accepts the news with quiet grace.  And again when we go home to give my dad the news that his beautiful wife, his dearest love, is permanently blind in one eye.  We know that he hurts for her, so we lend him our strength and he is strong.  He accepts the news with quiet grace, thereby lending my mom more strength.  They have always been solid together.  My sister arrives with a joke and a smile and she lends her strength to all of us.  And the next morning, when I allow myself a few silent tears, my husband holds me tenderly and lends me his strength.  And so the circle goes round and round.

There will be challenges as we move forward, that's how life goes.  But we will meet them together, lending each other strength, appreciating the joys, allowing grief to release, breathing fully and feeling the support of the earth and of each other.

This is why I "do" yoga. This is how I "do" yoga.  No mat required.

In love and light, 

Julie

 

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Gratitude

Posted 10/8/2021

Gratitude

It's Thanksgiving weekend, a time we typically celebrate with lots of food, family and friends (although not last year, but let's not go there).  For many of us, it's a time when we express gratitude, outwardly or inwardly, for the many graces we have in our lives:  relationships. food, water, shelter and so on.

It's fantastic that we take a couple of days to recognize these gifts that not all beings are so fortunate to have.  But as my friend Tracey (of Tracey Drake Yoga). pointed out last month, perhaps we might take a moment of gratitude every day.  It might be gratitude for a specific person, pet or event.  It might be gratitude for work, a raise, a promotion.  It might even be as simple as gratitude for waking up in the morning because not everybody does.  For the ability to take a full, deep breath; not everyone can.  For a morning walk, legs that move, or a few moments of silence.

Lately, the world seems full of anger, envy, division, and discontent.  The success or pleasure of one person is seen as taking away from the success or pleasure of another.  Why?  Is there not enough beauty, not enough blessings in the world for all?  Most of us have a lot to be thankful for; why would we begrudge others or say things to bring them down?

Perhaps if we spent a few moments every day in contemplation of the positives in our own lives, the blessings, the laughter and beauty that exists, then perhaps we would step out into the world in a different way.  Perhaps this personal "attitude of gratitude" would have a ripple effect and begin to lift others up, in our household, in our communities and beyond.

In the spirit of giving thanks, and lifting others up, I invite you to spend a few minutes in stillness and gratitude each day--just 2 minutes--for one week.  You can call it meditation, mindfulness, prayer, journaling, counting blessings, a gratitude practice--it really doesn't matter.  What matters is the intention behind it.  What matters is that we do it.

Will it change the world at large in a drastic way?  Probably not.  But will it impact your world, your perspective, your interactions with people and life?  Quite possibly.

14 minutes over 7 days.

Are you in?

with love, light, and gratitude,

Julie

Oct. 8, 2021

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