Saturday, January 26, 2008

receive what you have been given ...

This morning at yoga, I found myself so thankful for my body and all that it has taught and continues to teach me.

In 10 years of ballet, it taught me about perseverance and challenging myself, trying again and again with determination and strength …

In ballroom and salsa dancing, my body taught me how to interact with another closely and cooperatively; one of the greatest joys of being a dancer is when the two of you connect so well that you are both in total harmony with one another, singing the music with your bodies …

When I was pregnant, it taught me about miracles, as I was amazed at this new human life growing and moving within me, connecting not just my heart but my now body to God in His miracle …

When I went through an extended labor, my body taught me that I am connected to all other creatures, sharing in the most primal experience of birth, raw and guttural and painful in its amazing beauty …

When I had cervical cancer, it taught me that I could either be fearful and worried, or I could be strong and accepting – I could receive what I’d been given – releasing any worry and simply taking the steps I needed to take, knowing that we are all only here temporarily and what would be, would be…

When I hug a loved one or a new friend, it teaches me the importance of physical touch, how a physical embrace, heart to heart, arms wrapped around one another, can bring joy in good times and enormous comfort in bad; the same embrace, yet experienced differently when it’s infused with emotional intention …

Through fibromyalgia, my body has taught me to slow down and pay attention to how I’m feeling each day and to make any necessary adjustments, a lesson I use at work and in relationships: slowing down to pay attention and then adjusting accordingly …

My body has taught me that knowledge truly is power; when I found out last year that the back and hip pain I’ve had for many years was due to a transitional vertebrae, scoliosis and spondylolisthesis – and when I saw the x-rays and truly understood how my spine and bones were formed – I was given a beautiful gift; now that I have an “inside view”, I can make the necessary adjustments to manage and even reduce the pain …

This morning in yoga, as I extended my arms up to the heavens in Sun Salutation, I felt the strength and wholeness of the entire length of my body, fingertips to heels.

I leaned forward in Warrior III, balancing on one strong, straight leg and extending the other leg back and up. Heart slightly lifted, I focused my gaze, pressing my hands together at heart center, and held the balance.

Still body, still mind;
still mind, still body.

Thank you, body/self, for serving me so well!


Monday, January 21, 2008

release and surrender

Where am I?
I am here.

What time is it?
Right now.

Eyes closed, legs crossed, hands at heart center

I sit. I breathe.

I am here, on my mat.
I am present here, now.

I am trying to release an issue that occurred earlier in the day,
but the emotion keeps nibbling at the edges of my consciousness.

Breathing in, I fill my lungs with a smooth, steady, great inhale of air -(release the emotion)
Breathing out, I extend the exhale, wringing every last bit of air from my lungs. (surrender it ... let it go ...)

Breathing in, I am aware -
I scan my body for tight spots, I scan my mind for any tight spots
Breathing out, I smile - to all that is me, here, tonight

gain, I breathe in, counting 1 ... 2 ... 3 ... 4 ... 5 ... 6 ... I am aware ...
Breathing out ... I smile (there! it's released. Thank you, God.)

We begin our surya namaskars (sun salutations):

Inhale - hands out and up, extending the spine, legs strong, muscles engaged
Exhale - dive down to Forward Fold, spine extended, head relaxed

Inhale - right foot back, lunge deeply, heart raised up, legs engaged
Exhale - Down Dog, spine extended (oh, yes, this feels so good, I smile), core engaged as I push back and lift my tailbone

Inhale - forward into Plank, arms are strong, legs straight and engaged
Exhale - lower down to knees, chest, chin ... noting the strength of the triceps ... eight-point namaskar ... strong, muscles engaged

Inhale - lower down to the mat ... rise into Cobra, heart raised, back muscles tightly engaged
Exhale - push back into Down Dog ... lengthen the spine, extend the arms, raise the tailbone

Inhale - left foot forward into lunge, heart raised, deeply lowering the hips
Exhale - bring the right foot foward to Forward Fold again, muscles starting to feel fluid ... engaged and relaxed at the same time

Inhale - with straight back, engage the back muscles and extend the arms forward and up, looking up between the hands
Exhale - arms forward and then pulled back in to heart center

Inhale - the sound of the ocean as it sighs, pulling the wave back from shore
Exhale - the wave returning to lap at the shore, happily releasing the tug of gravity

Set after set - like sets of ocean waves - we go through the surya namaskars, releasing, surrendering to the flow of the breath ...

Inhale - I am aware ...
Exhale - I smile ...

Where am I?
I am here.
What time is it?
Right now.

Friday, January 11, 2008

just catching up ...

Hey, remember me? Wow, I feel like I just slipped down a rabbit hole and out of sight this past week. Just been working late nights, juggling several concurrent projects, meetings, business requirements, use cases, wireframes, deadlines - busy, busy. I am really loving my job! This is the kind of stuff that makes me feel vibrantly alive in my work, engaged, fully present, jazzed to come to work every day. I feel so blessed!

But I've really missed visiting my favorite blogs, catching up with everyone, enjoying each person's stories. Reading my faves can lighten my heart ... or fill me with laughter. They can bring a tear to my eye as the writer reveals a vulnerable humanity and I nod in recognition of having experienced my own version of their story. I learn about lives in places I've never experienced before, and about experiences that I will most likely never encounter in this lifetime. Through these blogs, I've "been" to Paris and Guam ... been mesmerized by Madonna shrines in Tuscany ... I've "heard" the laughter and felt powerful love in a lively household with five daughters and their remarkable mother ... I've felt a kinship with another single mother raising a daughter, just as I did ... I've enjoyed time on a ranch and on a military base. I feel so blessed!

This weekend, I just had to recharge my batteries after last week's full immersion into work. I did little more than some light housekeeping and some yoga. Today was a glorious day! Weather was in the low- to mid-70s, clear skies and sunshine. Earlier, as I left my place, I had to smile, seeing a young couple riding bikes and eating ice cream. Just soooo Huntington Beach! I count my blessings at being able to live in a place that suits me so well. I feel so blessed!

There's something in the air right now, a sense that change is on the horizon. I've had the strongest sense of anticipation all week, as if something wonderful is just around the corner. I feel a shift is about to happen. I imagine myself standing on tiptoe, straining to see what it could be. I'm already feeling so blessed and don't want for anything, so I can't begin to imagine what could lie ahead to add to my already-overflowing cup of blessings.

I was happily surprised when one of my good friends dropped me a note earlier, mentioning that she's sensing a change coming in her life. Coincidence? I wonder if others feel it, that anticipation of a shift beginning in their lives, alongside the current of change happening in the world. May all these shifts be positive and loving changes that enhance and bless the lives of all on and of this planet.


Thursday, January 3, 2008

reflections and intentions

I open the top drawer of the entertainment center to put away the candle lighter and - mmmmmmmmm! - I pause for a few seconds, close my eyes and take a loooooong, deep breath. mmmmmmmmm! I smile. I'm happy in that "I don't quite know what I'm so happy about but I just am", satisfied, contented way.

This is the drawer where I keep candles with soft scents of lavender and jasmine, and others with names like Rain and Heaven. All soft, not strong or overpowering. Inside the drawer are also several types of incense: a favorite is a temple incense that seems to change its perfume as it burns. And there's pinon incense shaped in a rectangular tablet, Nag Champa incense sticks and lavender cones. Is it odd to have a favorite drawer in one's home? Especially one that puts your heart and spirit in such a happy place just by opening it and breathing in such gentle, aromatic scents? Oh, the power of scent to evoke such a beautiful response!

Truth is, though, I was happy before opening it, in that satisfied, contented way.
I had cleaned my home top to bottom to welcome in the new year, moving things around, fixing up stuff, tending to little chores that I tend to overlook like scrubbing the kitchen cabinet doors and rotating the mattress. (In my defense, it's rather awkward to try to flip that full-size mattress by myself, so I don't do it as often as I probably should.) I did a couple of fixes, replaced the harp on a lamp, organized some jewelry and tossed a couple of bags of trash and some shipping boxes. Baseboards were scrubbed, carpet edges vacuumed, floors mopped, the front walkway swept. All I needed was a pretty little apron to complete the picture. There was even a vase of pink peonies in the kitchen window.

That night, the eve of 2008, I burned some sage given to me by a dear friend, letting the smoke waft through the house, sneaking into those very clean corners and those empty spaces freed of clutter. I thought about the intentions I wanted to set for my life, the changes I'd like to make, the growth I'd like to see. That night, I fell asleep with prayers still on my lips, happily curled up in my warm bed and so thankful for its comfort and ease.

The space clearing is symbolic of my intentions. For example, clearing clutter from my home, I want to clear clutter from my thoughts and enjoy greater clarity and understanding. Tossing my excess, I energetically release those things that do not serve a higher purpose in my life. I's all just symbolism and setting intentions, giving careful consideration and being fully present in the moment. Hitting the pause button in order to engage and experience with the fullness of my being.

I thought of the things I'd accomplished in 2007, the challenges that I'd addressed. I'm grateful to recognize that I'm doing better in some areas, I improved some this past year and can handle difficult situations (like being laid off) with calm acceptance and can see the joy and opportunity in experiencing change. I also paid attention to areas that are great opportunities for improvement, areas in behaviors and responses where I can seek a higher path and break old patterns. I'm much more in touch with my inner Kwai Chang Caine. Oh, and I've made new friends who offer their kindness and friendship in such caring ways.

It's funny how the turn of a calendar page prompts such introspection and reflection among people the world over. May your 2008 be one with happy, new discoveries and wonderful adventure, filled with love and goodness.

Lokah Samasta Sukinoh Bhavantu: May all beings everywhere be happy and free.

Namaste - and happy 2008!

PS. Christmas music and photos up through the 12 days of Christmas (til Jan. 6). Blessed Christmas!