PRESENTLY SURPRISED

As a yogi, I have been on the eternal adventure of finding the present. I get the intellectual process and understanding about living in the present, but till now, the real tangible living experience of The Present was elusive.

It took pregnancy, birth, and meeting Oliver to catch my breath and my attention.

 

During pregnancy, I realised the lesson of selflessness 101. Birth was 201 and Oliver is an eternal masters course in being here, now.

Pregnancy began a process of realising that every thought and action had a consequence on another being (the reality of what all sages teach us is that every thought and action has a consequence on everyone and everything around us as the energy moves…but that is too far removed for our minds to take seriously so that has been awakened by this). As Oliver grew in my belly, he absorbed the nutrients I fed my body (good and bad), the thoughts I had about my body and him growing within, and the emotions and reactions I had to every moment of my life and how those manifested as hormonal or systemic reactions.

This accountability started a day by day awareness of what I was doing, what I was thinking about doing, and thinking about thinking about doing…and so on. It was a beginners crash course in noticing everything and taking it seriously – without losing my sense of humour. (ok, I will admit, I did lose my sense of humour in the second trimester…I could excuse it or justify it, but regardless of the where and how and why this experience arose, it arose, and that is what Oliver absorbed…not the wordy story behind it, but my visceral feelings about that time…and how that has formed his personality or his belief systems or his weaknesses or strengths, only time will tell. And will I blame myself or congratulate myself for everything he becomes, well, I have been advised not to)

The birth was 12 hours of labour and 12 hours of consistent, repeated fire in my bones  that left me no room than to be well, … present. I wished I could escape my body. I even bargained with the Gods to get me out of the intense pain. I wanted to jump ship with each and every onset of contraction…fear and dread arising like bile and breath and support releasing it back down again – perhaps to be burnt by the fire in my opening releasing changing pelvis…only to arise again. I am sure a phoenix surfaced atleast once.

And then, a teeny tiny incy wincy baby climbed into my heart. And everything I do and say and think and feel, he knows as fast as I do, and probably sometimes before I do (because my ‘stuff’ won’t let me near it). And suddenly I find myself living with a ferocious intensity I never expected. I will fight battles for him. And when I forget and take the complacent acquiescing route, I am very quickly reminded that my choices aren’t about me alone anymore. And around this intensity is a mushy squishy squeaky silliness (but that is another story!)

So, the accountability of pregnancy matures into motherhood where I will eat gluten because it won’t hurt Oliver though it will hurt me, but I won’t eat garlic which is fine for me and quite frankly I would give some teeth for a delicious meal made of all my favourites including garlic and chilli and green vegetables like o-i-miss-you-broccoli! But garlic sends Oliver into a state and so I just won’t do it. For him first, but also for me because I am the one who has to clean up the mess!

Living in the present is not so hard. And when I spend time with Oliver, but really want to be replying to that email or feeding the dogs, or just quickly tidying up the mess on the lounge floor so internaly I can try to mimic a degree of external order, he makes it known that he is not satisfied with the second rate attention I am giving him. Not to mention that there is no more ‘just quickly’ whatsoever at all anywhere in my life.

Wanting to or needing to be present has to be important enough to make the sacrifice of dizzying distraction. It is a shame that it had to be ‘another’ person who would make me accountable…why was accountability to myself not enough? Perhaps it was…but then also, I would get busy, time would pass, I would forget and bad habits would resume, and before I knew it, being present would be the hour on a yoga mat in asana and breath instead of off the yoga mat in life, with breath.

Joy! To be a mother. To be expansively present. Now. and Now. and Now. without an off button or a just wait or come back again another day. Just Now.

SOUND ADVICE

Poetry in motion

Poetry in motion

I walked onto the patio, holding my niggly 4 month old boy. He didn’t want to sleep though exhausted – why we all suffer from this phenomenon is beside me. I sat on my favourite chair which is a Zimbabwean wood recliner and which I have sat in probably 5 times since I bought it many years ago…that small fact is indicative of a lifestyle of busy-ness or stagnation, both of which kept me indoors.

As I sat on the recliner, with my boy facing up to the sky lying on my torso, I took in my surrounds – something I did as a reaction to realising Oliver would be. So I sat back, relaxed, and looked.  I saw the gorgeous blue color of sky (that happens nowhere else but in Joburg South Africa!), the tree tops hovering above me on my level 2 patio. The gorgeous golden light that spread across the garden, was caught in the trees and made my heart warm. A truly idyllic scene. Baby on board, wooden teak silence, connected poetry. I noticed the sounds of the world around me. A lot of bird life and family life all knitting their day to an end.

Smashed by the sound of traffic.

Near and far, a hum of white noise, and a louder more intrusive chaos that seeped into my observation.  My first instinct on these sounds was anger at the intrusion of noise pollution, a bubbling sensation of irritability at my powerlessness to do anything about it  – a regular internal dialogue I had developed as the city around me got busier and busier.

When I bought the property, Fourways was a quiet suburb, now a metropolis of taxis, and motorists, cyclists, and people afoot. I love the life on the streets as I drive around Fourways which to me feels more alive and tactile than other quieter suburbs. But the traffic had come to cause serious headache and I often bemoaned the traffuck’s daily incision into my peace of mind.

And then a little voice in my head advised: why, when you go to India do you absorb and love and make poetry of the smells and sounds and yet at home, it shares none of the romance of a travellers’ distanced observer?

And in that instance, the experience of the sounds around me changed. Instead of a constricting, annoying itchy rash of an experience, I felt expansive and dreamy and let a love of this city start to grow. Instead of resisting it and pushing it away and trying my best to pretend and avoid its presence in my life, I have started to allow it in. My home doesn’t end at my four wall boundary around my garden, my home is this city and all its inhabitants…driving, walking, talking, cycling, living, breathing, pulsing city. My perspective is way more humane, and I am happy to be ‘being’ a little more human, with the other humans around me….making the best of life!

NAMASTE. Truly.

Reinventing Importance

On maternity leave….sort of….I can account for the time in my days only by hours spent with baby, and a loud knocking in the back of my mind from the old me that needed to be on top of things at work.

The perfectionist in me died out of necessity as I embarked on this journey. From pregnancy to a 4 month old boy, not much of that has changed…I will do what is needed to be done, absolutely but also not perfectly.

This shift in what is important has introduced a whole new spectrum of reality. I expanded my business to satisfy my mind and with the idea that it would be great for everybody – more yoga opportunity for students and teachers – but as I make that business model work I find myself digging a deeper hole at every turn to get out of the hole.

They say to get out of a hole stop digging, but they also say to make money you have to spend money. I am somewhere in the middle of this quagmire on maternity leave. A lot of time to think but not a lot of time to act.

A  new  business needs as much attention as a child and with the opening of a second branch, I thought I would be exempt from new business status but alas…this child is asking for attention. Different kind of attention so the adventure is fabulous, but is it where I wanted to take my life, as it requires the necessity of a spade which I also had to spend money on to get.

I watch people around me who want to simplify their lives, but see that doing that costs money. It is the chasing of simplicity that costs us. It costs us our freedom (just a few more Rands will mean I can have a comfier car which will make my life simpler. Or just a few more rands and I can buy a new iPod which will mean I can do xyz and that will make my life simpler. And so we dig our futures…).

I want to know how I can stop digging and still have certain comforts and more importantly satisfaction in my life without the need to dig. It is as if the need to dig outweighs what is being dug for. That action more important than what is achieved by the action. And so in pursuit of discovering what is important, for me it is not the things, it is the expression of my creativity and intellect, which requires I consume things in order to express and the circle bites me in the bum every time.

I am happy to have a gentle lifestyle but need to be stimulated enough and have enough creative energy outlets to be happy in that simplicity. Without it, I will just go and complicate my life and create the need to keep on digging.

Furthermore, now that I have a child, the hole and the spade just got a whole lot bigger because I need a will, and I need a policy for in case, and I need an education fund, and I need need need. SO all that I thought was important before is now suffocated by a whole other set of needs which could be classified as wants if I changed my perspective and so step off the spade-digging hamster wheel by adopting a whole new philosophy. But what if?

And so we get caught up in wants that look like needs which have more importance than wants, and we keep digging ourselves deeper and deeper into having to life a certain lifestyle to keep up with these needwants.

It is exhausting! Now let me get back on the floor to elicit a smile from my 4-month old. Happiness truly is. If only all the other stuff didn’t exist or didn’t matter!

the most important ...

the most important …

Celebrate your Body. Celebrate your Life.

Your body is a work of art, a moving sculpture infused with wisdom, confused by intellect and innocent until out of balance in which case it becomes incredibly guilty.  The body’s guilt is because it is wired to maintain homeostasis i.e. balance…whatever environment you set up in your body, your body will try and perpetuate.  Add sugar, your body will crave sugar once that initial sugar is depleted, add chaos, your body will crave adrenal input once that chaos subsides.

Symptoms of being out of balance:

Irritability

Lack of vitality

Depression

Restlessness/sleeplessness

Food Cravings/intolerances

Disease/illness… ok, will have to stop here because the list is actually infinite.

The unique body is to be celebrated, in a way that changes your internal drive to punish or control your body…or in particular to measure exercise or movement for weightloss only in pursuit of fitness. That is when the listening stops.

Isn’t it time you started to live in your body, properly, celebrating it with everything you have got?

By celebrating your body, you can celebrate your life, since your life is expressed by the body you are living in… healthy body, happy life.

Most of us are not living with our bodies…we are living in spite of them. We ignore the body’s signals which start off as silent whispers and end up in disastrous disease, somewhere before disease, the body warned us.

I do yoga because I can feel the healing that happens, and because of the strength that I can feel   alleviating my symptoms of stress. Somehow the strength I gained physically changed how I relate to difficult situations.

She does yoga because of injuries, and  a need to balance what she gets from her sporting activities with flexibility and muscular elasticity to prevent long term suffering, so she can be fit and healthy in her body for longer, forever.

He does yoga because it is fun to balance on his hands, or to exceed his own physical and mental expectations.

We do yoga because it gives us personal power to negotiate relationships with greater strength that is not domineering or forceful but flexible and heartfelt without sacrificing ourselves for the relationship. Yoga directs us to operate from the heart from a clear understanding of ourselves and our boundaries!

Do yoga to meet people and belong to a community.

celebrate body image

Perhaps it is better to ask why you don’t do yoga?

Yoga is for every single kind of body that there is, and that includes yours. The benefits of yoga are yours to own whether you are young, old, skinny, bigger bodied, flexible, or an athlete needing strength but have lost some of the bounce back.

Yoga is for every kind of personality and can fit into every lifestyle choice, for whatever you do in life, can be enhanced with the practice of Yoga. Yoga is not damaging, does not need rest periods and will surprise you with its benefits.

So what is the down side – a good excuse to avoid yoga?  It requires commitment, regularity … and it requires definite mindfulness and attention. It asks you to do things differently than how you live your life so it means you need to be prepared to change. You need to be prepared to stop and take a breath – in other words to start doing the very thing you have been procrastinating against forever.  It requires an open mind and perseverance. It requires you start now!

 

Got it in you? I dare you.

Cooking up a Yoga Culture

Raw Sattvic Soup

Yoga communitree.
1 part raw sattvic ingredients. 1 part inspiration. 1 part 108 seeds.

 

It has been on my mind lately that there is a big question around ‘how’ to create a yoga culture or ethic that propagates itself, and has a creative force or energy all its own.

I know that one way is to tap into the self-perfectionism of people who need to improve themselves or fix something that is wrong…or to ignite the adrenal side of things so it fits in with a lifestyle of go! go! go! But neither of these to me speak of the BIG yoga (yoga outside of body-ability focus). Without these though, what is the motivation to get on the mat? If you are not aspiring to be better than someone else at a pose or to better your own practice, or to lose weight or cure an ailment, what is there really to pull you onto the mat?

The recipe is:

1 part yoga offering/style

1 enthusiastic teacher

1 yoga space

1 yoga student

Bake

Until 1 yoga student matures into 1 dedicated yoga student (years?)

Serve up

So 1 dedicated yoga student multiplies into a culture of dedication

(the concept of working on individual consciousness to affect universal consciousness).

What makes that 1 dedicated yoga student ‘dedicated’?

How do we as style/teacher/space ensure that ‘bake’ develops dedication?

Dedication here is defined as inner-motivation, involvement, enthusiasm, consistency. It feels a bit like a chicken/egg story (vegan of course). Does the dedication come from a serving of experience that entices a repeat, or is dedication an inherent quality in a person? Is a studio/teacher/style necessary at all or merely distraction, or a fun way to express dedication?

The sutras imply that dedication is work. It is a presence of mind to remain consistent with your intention – in this case to get on the mat regularly and repeatedly. We fall off the mat purely because we forget – forget that we made a commitment to ourselves. Presence of mind is cultivated by a regular yoga practice. The good news is that the more one practices yoga, the more likely one is going to ‘remember’ to get on the mat.

So the first step to dedication is faith – getting on the mat despite results or a lack thereof, continuing, persevering until the work dissolves and there is no longer a debate about today and whether to yoga or not.

Faith eliminates the emotion of liking or disliking the experience – it is something you decide to follow through on and do it, without letting a qualifying statement deter you.

And where faith wanes, add extra parts yoga space, yoga teacher, yoga style or other dedicated yoga students. Like a sapling is surrounded by hessian to protect it in early growth, a yoga student on the way to becoming a dedicated yoga student is best cooked up by mingling with the right ingredients!

And the proof is in the pudding!

start at the beginning….

this is what I have to offer you…

yoga philosophy and everything related…i.e. life.

It started at http://www.108seeds.blogspot.com

and though I have abandoned this blogspot, I don’t think you should.

Some interesting stuff there (even if I say so myself)

 

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