Simple Abundance

Simple abundance seems to be a way of finding beauty, nourishment, and contentment from what you already have. Most people (especially in America but maybe other places also experience this) think we need way more than what we do. There is a pervasive, underlying understanding in our culture that acquisition is important….and something by which we should measure success. Acquisition of things is valued above many (most?) other things. So much so that we seem to lose the desire for something as soon as it’s obtained…..forgetting what we even have because we’ve stored it away.

Simple abundance reminds us to look around…..realize that you likely already have what you need; to focus your energy on enjoying what you have, instead of what you don’t have. Find the value and enjoyment in what is around you: things, people, nature, time, activities, aromas, sounds, feels, etc. When you bring your awareness to all the abundance of what you already get to experience every single day (even sometimes the sucky stuff), you won’t have as much time to think about what is missing from your life.

There are times in your life when you have a car that works, and times when you don’t. Times when your house shelters and protects you, and times when it does not. Times when you’re on a strict spending budget, and times when you have a little wiggle room. Times when you have the love of friends and family surrounding you, and times when you feel secluded. Times when you love your work, and times when you despise it. Times of too much busy-ness, and times of too much quiet. There are times when you feel your cup runneth over, and times when you experience deep loss. Times when everything is stable, and all seems right in your world, and times when your world gets rocked. Times when you have it all covered, and times when you need help from your tribe.

It is the ebb and flow of life. In any given time, for most of us, one thing that is consistent is ABUNDANCE. It’s there if you look for it.

Stop. Notice. Soak it all in.

How do you move?

It sounds like a weird question….what do you mean, ‘how do you move?’.  I just do it. I don’t have to think about it…my body just responds by moving when I need to get to the other side of the room. It’s not complicated.  right? Usually, we’re blissfully unaware of the movements of our bodies until something stops working. You have an injury or soreness from a workout or maybe your joints just ache.  Then you notice it, don’t you? This lack of awareness of how we move could be the single biggest contributing factor to how you feel day in and day out.

The snow that’s falling outside my door (in April!) reminds me that I have to slow down long enough to think about how I move.  When it’s icy or the snow needs shoveled (hopefully we don’t see that much fall today), it’s sooooo easy to injure yourself.  It happens before you even know it. If I go out there and just start slinging a shovel around, I’m bound to pay mightily for it later. But, if I really take notice as I’m moving and take care to follow proper form, all I get is a good workout, not a broken back.

This is true not just when I’m shoveling snow. Every time I get in or out of a chair, as I sit, as I stand.  The more aware I become of my form, the more control I keep, and the more my form starts to work for me, instead of against me. I simply feel better in the day to day activities. This is a big part of what we do on our mats when we practice yoga: we become aware of our bodies.  We think about how we stand, sit, move. We notice. We practice movements that nourish, heal, and restore our bodies. The more often we do that on our mats, the more we begin to subconsciously do that off of our mats.

There’s a spot just below the navel that I remember a yoga teacher referring to in a class…an inch or so down. Think of this spot as the origin of all of your movement.  Draw it in toward the spine and maybe up a little….anchor there first.  Then move.  Do it every time you move (or even while you sit or stand) just for today, and see if you notice a difference. I’d love to hear about your experience. What, if anything, changes for you? Where do you notice a difference? How does your body respond?  Share with me in the comments below!

Move intentionally, friends.  ~Namaste~

When Inspiration Hits

There are a few times that I’ve felt this lately….most recently in developing yoga workshops. One came while doing my own private practice at home. An idea seemed to jump on my back and somehow enter into my bones. My body seemed to take over in a way that I hadn’t experienced before. It knew what I needed to do next and showed me the way.

The idea became my yoga teacher and guide that day.

I know that my regular private practice of yoga is important not only to me but to how well I’m able to facilitate the classes I lead. I know that it helps me become a more refined practitioner and teacher. And yet, I struggle making the time to do the physical practices of yoga when there is no one there to tell me what to do next. When I have to think about what I should do next. What I love about attending someone else’s class is that they’ve already figured that out….they know the sequence and guide me through it.

I don’t have to think about it…I only have to do what comes next.

And on this day of inspiration, this idea I had WAS my teacher and led me through the movements in such a lovely way. Being on my mat was a signal to the idea that I was open and ready to receive. And it was EASY!!!!  So different than wrestling with an idea that I want to have but perhaps just isn’t really my inspiration. Not that there won’t be some struggle in my creative process but it feels so right when it’s not there. When I have enough space in my life/day/physical space to be open and to receive.

For someone who has always worked by schedules and timelines and to-do lists, I must make space in my calendar for just being. And to greedily protect that time against all the distractions that I find myself being pulled away to. It feels as if this would be a luxury and part of me feels guilty for scheduling time for what may look like nothing…..and what may some days feel like nothing. For there is so much more to do in this world. So much more work to be done and people to see and activities to do.

But what if…..what if……just for a time, I dedicate myself to this open space.

What if….

My God Box

A few years ago, I read a lot by author Anne Lamott. She is a lovely human who has had many struggles over the years and who bravely, comically, and candidly shares her heart and her experiences through her writings. She shared that she has a God Box – something she turns to when she has no idea what to do with a situation in her life. When she’s done all she can to fix or help or soften and she hasn’t got where or what she wants, she writes the problem down on a piece of paper and puts it in her God Box.  It’s her way of turning it over to someone or something that can handle it when she no longer can. It allows her worry to lessen or disappear and it recognizes, in a very physical way, that there are many things (all things?) that are very much so out of our own control. Not everything in life can be fixed to your own liking solely through hard work and perseverance. Some things need divine intervention and even then won’t always have the outcome you hoped for. It’s a lessen that is learned more easily in theory, in our minds, in our logical thinking….but much harder to embody when it’s something that is close to our hearts.

Over the past few years, I’ve turned to my God Box (GB) so many times.  My GB is a beautiful stained glass box that one of the kids, or maybe even one of their friends, made in high school. Often, it was through tears that I wrote my concerns down, folded them up, held them in prayer, and then put them in the box. As it did for Lamott, this ritual allowed me to let go…the physical act of turning my problem over to a power that is beyond my comprehension allowed me to release being consumed with concern. It didn’t mean that I stopped caring…just that I had turned my concern into faith. I had blatantly made the statement that I recognized I didn’t have control of the outcome and put my energy toward having faith that it would work out. It took the power away from the concern…it took power away from the fear. It freed my energy up for the work that I could have impact on…the things I did have a plan for. The things that actually needed my energy at the time.

The 8-limbed path of yoga has a practice called Isvara Pranidhana. That is a Sanskrit phrase or term that translates to surrender and devotion to a higher power. Deborah Adele writes “Isvara Pranidhana, the jewel of surrender, presupposes that there is a divine force at work in our lives.” As in the ancient yogic principles, we see this faith in many (all?) formal religions. Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”  We do not know our paths or have the control we think we do and there is a peace that comes with that recognition.

fullsizerender-6-editedToday, I opened my GB and one by one, I read the concerns I had deposited. As I read them, I relived them for a moment, and then burned them symbolizing their passing as a concern of mine. Most of what was in there has worked itself out in one way or the other. Not always in the manner I would have wanted….not always without hardship and heartbreak. But one way or the other, the concerns have passed. We have come out on the other side of them and we are fine. Perhaps there were important lessons learned because of the heartbreak…perhaps the result of the situation was just what someone else needed or needed to learn. I continue to have faith, even when I don’t understand. This ritual of burning my worries and concerns was a great reminder of the life I’ve lived over the past several months. It was a reminder that I’ve been blessed with people, situations, struggles, joys of which I cared deeply. I’m honored to have had these gifts to pour my heart and soul into. I continue to pray and have faith for those things that are still working themselves out. I’m encouraged that what remains of my concern is just a small pile of ash and that my GB sits empty for now. I take all of this with me into the new year.fullsizerender-5

My wish for you in the new year is that you find your own ways of cultivating your faith. May you be reminded of that which you cared most deeply about. May you more quickly recognize when to surrender. May you find peace in the surrender.

~~Namaste – the light-love-divinity that is within me is also in you~~