Tag Archives: Yoga

Life’s Cyclical Flow

I read a short piece today from one of the required books for my Yoga teacher training course that beautifully captures a concept I have been trying to articulate for years and so I scrapped my original blog idea for this week so I could share this instead. It’s something I have tried numerous times to write about, but no matter how hard I tried I never really felt like I had captured the essence of the idea.

The concept I am referring to is that of how we have a tendency in our society to move from one thing right into the next without ever really being present, without ever really experiencing each individual moment or the time in between each thing that we are doing. But Rolf Gates describes it so well in his book, Meditations from the Mat. He begins by talking about the style of yoga he teaches (flow yoga).  In flow yoga you go from one yoga posture right into the next – one flows into the other seamlessly so the multiple postures are like one long posture and the breath and meditation remain unbroken throughout the practice.  But he points out that not all yoga styles are like that.  (In fact the style of yoga I have practiced all of my life is not like that.)  Neither way is right or wrong, but Rolf points out that there is an important lesson we can learn:

“…it is our tendency to pay attention to the postures themselves, but not to the spaces in between.  So it is in life.  We leave one relationship or job and set our sights on the next.  We cross one item off our to-do list and dive into the next chore.  The illusion is that the posture ends.  The reality is that the posture never ends, it just shifts from one form to the next, one lesson to the next, one opportunity to the next.  We remain life’s student whether we are inhaling or exhaling, in a relationship or out of one…” – Rolf Gates, Day 35, from Meditations from the Mat.

And while his analogy may speak more clearly to those of us who have done yoga at some point in our lives, the truth behind the message is relevant for all of us. We move from one thing in our lives to the next without taking the time to enjoy or appreciate the space in between those things. Often we plan to enjoy that space when we reach a certain point in our lives (after we are married, after we have kids, after we get that new job, after the kids are out of the house, after retirement, etc.), when instead we can and should be taking the time now to be in that space.  This rat race we call our daily lives takes such a toll on us – if only we would just slow down long enough to be in that space between the events in our lives, we would be so much the better for it.

My goal personally for the past several years has been to cultivate a practice that allows for a cyclical flow in which I pause to reflect and appreciate between the things I am doing in my life rather than rushing from one thing to the next. It is a practice, as is all things, but with practice I have gotten so much better at it wherein now I am pretty good at taking time to be in the space between the things happening in my life instead of rushing off to the next one. The result has been that I feel better, calmer, and I enjoy my days so much more.

Life truly is cyclical – the flow from one thing to the next, one day to the next, one goal to the next continues in what can become a vicious circle. But we have the ability to pause, breath, and experience the space in between, to slow things down and enjoy. If nothing else, take some time to celebrate and reflect on what you accomplished before going on to the next thing.  As Rolf Gates pointed out, we are all students of this life.  The question is what kind of student will we be?  How will you flow from one thing to the next in your own life?  As someone in the midst of this practice now, and as a former teacher, I would highly recommend taking the time to enjoy being a student of life.

Finding Peace

I have spent the better part of the past 2 years redefining my life and my goals. After my divorce left me wondering what was next for me and what I wanted to do with my life now that it was all mine to decide again, I set out on a path of discernment (though I didn’t necessarily know that’s what it was at that time). I worked with an amazing life coach to first decide what my goals were and then to figure out how to go about making them a reality. Deciding on what goals I wanted to achieve was actually easier than I thought. It actually all came down to wanting a little peace in my life – after a long and difficult divorce journey, I just wanted some peace. And while I don’t know that I could clearly define what I meant by that at the time, I just knew that’s what I wanted and needed. And so the harder part became determining how best to achieve that goal I had identified. My life coach gave me lots of wonderful ideas and resources (books to read, the idea of doing an audio journal, meditating, deepening my yoga practice, clearing out and reclaiming the space in my home, etc.). In addition, I researched online and found lots more ideas and resources (more book suggestions, websites and blogs, different meditation techniques, etc.). I also discovered the world of podcasts, which offered me a ton of ideas and resources as well (more websites, blogs, and books, the art of journaling, other people who have gone through similar experiences, the importance and relevance of morning and evening routines, etc.). To be honest, at one point, it was a little overwhelming because I had so many ideas, resources, strategies, etc. that I didn’t know where to begin. Enter discernment.

Discernment is one of the key factors involved in helping you manifest peace in your life. The dictionary defines discernment as keenly selective judgment or the ability to see and understand people, things, or situations clearly and intelligently. In short, it’s your ability to decide how someone or some thing resonates with you and your situation.

And so I began a process of discerning which of these ideas and resources might best suit my needs. Think “try before you buy”, because in essence that is sort of what I did. I would choose one idea or resource a week to try out and then reflect, really being honest with myself, as to how that resonated with me. And in that way I cycled through most of the ideas and resources I had collected. As a result of using this process of discernment, I now clearly know:

  1. I prefer writing a journal to doing an audio one
  2. I have found 4 or 5 podcasts that provide education and support in areas that are very meaningful to me
  3. I have learned to become gentler with myself about my morning and evening routines (the art of forgiving yourself is such an important thing)
  4. I find shorter meditative practices (5-10 minutes) to be more powerful and helpful than longer ones

And I could go on because honestly, I am still moving through the process of discernment today as I work to continually fine tune my life so that it is bringing me optimal peace and helping me reach my goals. It has proven to be an invaluable tool in my personal growth journey.

So many of us get caught up in what society or our friends and family say we should do. That’s totally understandable, especially in terms of our friends and family as we look to them for guidance and support…after all, they know us as well as, if not better, than we know ourselves most times, right? While this may be true, they are still making suggestions to you through their own filters or lens, so it may not truly resonate with you and your situation or your goals. There’s no doubt they mean well, but we are each our own unique person. So what feels good and supportive to you may not to your best friend, parents, colleagues, etc. While gathering ideas and suggestions from those close to you, or even society as a whole is not a bad thing, just be discerning as to which ones you actually put into practice. For that matter, don’t be afraid to try something out and discard it after only one “use”. Don’t get caught up in thinking there is anything wrong with you when something doesn’t work for you the way it did for someone else because there’s not – we are all unique beings…different things work for different people. And there’s no hard and fast rule that says you have to stick with something for a specific amount of time before allowing yourself to move on. Don’t allow the inner critic to tell you that you have to/should stick it out if it doesn’t feel right to you. Listen to your body and your mind. What resonates with you? What feels supportive, helpful, right or good to you? Those questions are excellent examples of how you can discern the path to peace in your life.

Remember, with discernment there is no should or could. There is only how does this fit…how does this feel. And in your quest for peace in your life, however you may define that, only what feels good to you, what is supportive of you and your goals, is what you want to discern as something to incorporate into your life. Your desired peace is attainable, but it has to be in a way that resonates with you.

New month, new focus

My purpose in publishing this website and blog is to share, educate, inspire and motivate on the things that excite me – personal growth, yoga, meditation, health and wellness, being a positive influence, and making a difference.  Each month will feature a different theme around which most of the things that are posted will center.  March’s focus will be on the concepts of rebirth & renewal, an appropriate theme, I think, with Spring on its way.

Through weekly meditation ideas and yoga poses, inspirational quotes and photos, personal reflections, and sharing a few of my favorites things, I hope to provide you with something to ponder…something new to try…something to make you reach just a little farther. The only limits we have are those we place on ourselves. Don’t be afraid to gently push your limits a little bit each day!