FINDING YOUR WAY BACK

“This morning, I opened two gifts. They were my eyes.” Unknown

Sometimes, I wake into a sleepy state of forgetfulness. Do you know that feeling? It has a bass note of anxiety and a through line of not good enough. It’s vaporous and shadowy and hard to pin down. An aged ring of insidious discomfort that quietly wriggles its way into those opening moments of daybreak. 

It tends to happen if I’ve been traveling or thrown out of rhythm. Adapting to new hotel rooms, cities, landscapes, languages, food, air quality, space. My particles take their time to catch up after flying too many miles in too short a time. And so the old cloak drapes itself over my sensitive head.

One of my dear friends recently shared about how her self-care practices had slipped since Christmas. How work had taken over and how easy it can be to breathe the morning shadows bigger with cruel whispers of disappointment. When, really, our practice is to simply pause, listen and tune into what is alive inside us. To listen to what our being is truly calling for. We get fooled into thinking it’s chocolate or beer or distraction but, if we look a little closer, it’s often rest, nourishment, touch, connection or the edges of an emotion that hasn’t been traced.  

And this is the practice. To strip away the stories and dissolve old patterns so we can move closer to what is really happening in each moment. To get closer to truth. To what is referred to as first order reality. Reality before you have a thought about it.

“The presence of stillness opens the body and soaks into you like a sponge, if you allow it. A silent understanding happens that is not in words but is the direct experience of what is.” Adyashanti, Emptiness Dancing

There are many portals into presence and ‘what is’: stillness, touch, art, music, movement. I’m always looking for new ones and this is a small selection that might help you find your way back home:

  1. FOLLOW THE INNER PROMPTING

If you’re feeling heavy when you wake up, break your routine and let yourself be guided to your journal, your mat, your lemon water, your shower. Mix it up. Don’t do what you always do. Let your inner voice take the lead and see where you end up. I always give myself 90 minutes in the morning to get ready, eat and allow for whatever is needed – writing, moving, dancing, meditating, breathing, sitting, sipping some warm elixir. 

  1. DO ONE THING

Whatever it is, focus entirely on just one thing. Maybe its walking outside your front door with bare feet and breathing the morning air. Maybe it’s five minutes of meditation. Maybe its being completely present while you polish every tooth. Maybe you grab your journal straight away and let the pen move across the page in words or pictures. Which leads me on to tip two.

  1. WRITE

I did this today. I sat up in bed, pulled out my laptop and started to write about the shadows. It turned into a poem. Which turned into this blog. Let life move through you and see where you end up. And then take that principle into the rest of your day. When you go into a story, feel your feet, breathe, listen, then follow the inner prompting again.

  1. BE A CREATURE

Because you are one. This really goes out to my friends in the UK and Northern hemisphere. Sleep, rest, snuggle, eat warm soups and stews, do less and be more. Go to bed earlier and catch the quiet of the winter mornings.

  1. MICRO MEDITATE

If sitting to meditate has fallen away or feels out of reach then do micro meditations throughout the day. Close your eyes and tune in to the contents of the moment. Use your senses to anchor you into presence and sit quietly for a few minutes. Ask yourself, ‘what is the quality of this moment before I have a thought about it?’ Or put your earphones in and enjoy a guided meditation for ten minutes at lunchtime. It will make all the difference.

You can practice presence in each and every moment. The portals are always there and meditation allows us to abide there more fully but you can step in at any time.

How do you find your way back to yourself when the shadows creep in? What are your ways ‘in’ when practice is out of reach? Please add to this little list and guide us all into your own magic doorways by leaving a comment ❤

MORNING SHADOWS

Still, sometimes, 

there are mornings 

where that yawning

shadow hangs

a papery lace,

yellowed and stained,

like my mothers nicotine walls.

It suffocates my deeper knowing,

rivering so freely below. 

A heavy widow’s cloak

blocks out the light and

that part that knows 

this new day is complete.

But I am sleeping

and the edges of not enough 

are sharp and ragged.

Lodged in old grooves,

achy wheels that get stuck,

carrying the ghost of uncertainty

so she can sit lightly on my chest,

almost imperceptible,

her heavy layers 

tremble with short breaths

until I let her pass through.

Silenced for the very first time

An auspicious 11 insights for vipassana virgins

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I see you. I am here. The secret to successful communication.

‘Some people possess something very special: they have the now in their heart.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

I’m barefoot on the volcanic path, the jungle fully awake and the morning sky all silly blue, taking the 20 or so paces from home to the studio. Ten minutes early for class and there are a few people sitting quietly in the space. I set myself up and approach them, one at a time, careful not to intrude. I’ve meditated and am deep in the dimension of relationship. It’s the theme for my class and it’s a good one as it keeps me anchored into my big Self. I’ve got my presence on in a big way. And I am here. Ain’t got my head in no other place. I’m not with anyone else doing any other thing, following any other story, making any other plans. I’m here.

Yoga and the tickle that ends with a blaze

‘It begins with a tickle and ends with a blaze of petrol’.

Jacques Lacan

I’ve become a heavy breather. A hefty exhaler. An uninhibited sigher, catching the high notes as they roll down the back of my throat. Purring at the end of the exhale and letting the ripple take a soft seat in my cells. I think it started in meditation. Bliss trills would surprise me and trail out in whispers. That moment when everything settles down and you can really exhale for the first time.

Stillness is my jam

‘The one you are looking for is the one who is looking’.

St Francis of Assisi

I’ve been doing a lot of Power Vinyasa. It’s not my go-to but it seems to be the main domain around Melbourne so I’m embracing it. Get me strong. Make me sweat. Work me hard. Rrrrrr. A big part of me loves it but it’s really not my jam. It’s not where I’m at in my home practice. I can’t go deep enough into my tissue and travel my awareness down carefully when we move so quickly. I can’t pause and feel into my experience for long enough. My breath gets ragged as we shift from one pose to another. The sweat is pouring off me and my travel mat is getting all kinds of manky. I’m being pushed. Hard. And I’m not sure that’s what I need.

I want to sit in the seat of the asana and become intimate with the shape. I want to engage down to my bones and be still inside myself. I want to feel into the silence that sits beneath the sounds. That frequency and baseline of presence that calls to me and asks me to hover for just a moment. To hang out there. Take the time to sense into the space and dance inside the continuum.

But that’s a trip that’s only got deeper as I’ve gone deeper. So what would happen if I committed to Power Vinyasa. It’s all an experiment, right? So I’ve gone all in. I’ve found a studio that has incredibly knowledgeable and experienced teachers who weave together a mix of traditional teachings with Anusara, Jivamukti and Power Yoga. Grrrr. Thank you Moksha and your faculty of deep-seated mavens. My head gets food, my heart gets wide and my body is gratefully served by the whole arrangement. The more I practice and trust and dive into this style that I don’t think I ‘want’, the more focused I become, the stronger I get and the stiller I can be inside the poses.

Now, that’s not news but we can get so caught up in our preferences and identifications that other ideas can be cast aside without giving them a proper chance. I’m pretty guilty of this in my life so it’s a daily practice for me to remember that I don’t know everything. Pete holds that mirror up more times than I care for and I’ve learnt that I’m afraid to not know the answers. I’m afraid to ask questions and I’m often jumping in when I could be listening. But this is why I love stillness. So I can see reality more clearly and catch myself in the thicket of my conditioning.

Whether it’s through meditation, two hours of sweating and flowing, two hours of deep, slow and juicy tissue travel or watching myself interacting with the world. I’m getting still. And through that practice I come to connect with my fundamental nature. Yoga means to yoke or connect but it also means a ‘method’ of accomplishing something and it also means ‘endeavor, diligence, care and attention’. So, as Hareesh explains in The Sutra Project, yoga is “a method of becoming firmly connected to one’s true nature. A method that must be pursued with diligence and careful attention.”

This coming back to stillness is a coming back to my Self. To my true nature so I can experience reality more directly. Whether I like it or not. It is, Hareesh’s translation, “to see reality directly. Not through the mind filter of your conditioned thought”. And what a relief that is. What a liberation. To be gently untangled from conditioned thought and to observe. To see myself and others more clearly by resting back into my true nature and witnessing reality as it comes. Not how I think it is or want it to be. Trusting in the power of the practices to reveal that reality and draw me back into stillness. Again and again and again. In each moment, a new invitation. To step back into the state of yoga.

Photo credit to Sonia Guzzo.