Embodied Intelligence

What happens when the body wakes up achy and tired? When practicing yoga is the last thing on the mind? After a strenuous practice last night compounded by a sciatica flare-up, I woke up in precisely this shape this morning.

Fortunately, there are many faces of yoga and that is exactly the day NOT to skip practice. I sat on the mat and began a short meditation.

And then listened. For what the body prompted. It wasn’t the practice I thought I should do. But then it rarely is. After a couple of shoulder stretches, the tightness in my shoulders softened. A mindful forward fold released my cranky back. I continue to be amazed at what intelligence is embodied within.

With the achy muscles residing, I was able to continue. Not much more, but enough. Just what my bodied needed.Today.

The practice that started out tired and achy became an affirmation of listening within. I settled into the knowing that I have much to learn. A practice I need to return to often.listneing

Sacred Self Care

"Oklahoma" rosebud in October (barefoot photos)

One of my teachers offered a teleconference course on sacred self-care. Oh, I thought, this is pushing things a bit, I mean, really sacred self care?

Furthermore, why should I sign up, I already teach self-care. Certainly I know how important it is to devote some time everyday to the important task and pleasure of taking care of myself.

Well, it was time for me to wake up to the essence as well as the deep importance of self-care practice.

The journaling and meditations I did highlighted long held resistance to my own self-care. Could I be hard-wired to NOT take care of myself? I wondered. Was it a genetic trait? Am I simply and incorrigibly lazy?

As the class progressed week by week, I found a deep well of pleasure arose in my bodymind whenever I gave myself a gift of self-care. It’s possible to tap into that well as a means of motivating myself to continue developing self-care practices.

This week, our homework was to identify one self-care practice to focus on and try to develop it. A small step it would seem, but progress and transformation happens in small simple steps repeated time and again.

So, what am I working on? My negative self-talk. I’m growing my mindfulness around the times I call myself names or otherwise speak poorly to my beautiful self. It’s tough. Sometimes I catch myself disparaging the voice that catches, “Oh, there you go again, you idiot.” Yes, I can even use mindfulness against myself! So I’m continuing to practice softening and then softening again. I need a lot of practice. Unfortunately, it seems I’m giving myself plenty of opportunity. Grrr.

I do recognize how terribly important this is though. It forms the foundation of the spiritual path. Think about it. Better yet, conjure up the feelings in your body of an abundance of self-care. Then ask yourself what would happen if you had that available all the time….

Here’s hoping that you are floating in nirvana-land with me on this one. It’s just a little bit of self-care away!

If you are jazzed by the thought of floating on a cushion of wondrous self-care, READ MORE; visit LUMINOUS HEART.

early spring meditation, birdsong

Baby Wren (barefoot photos)

In Western New York, Spring, the mud-licked goddess of joy and rebirth, has floundered through the melting snows of March and found her way with the warmer, softer breezes, flowering snowdrops, and brilliant birdsong.

Neighbors are sweeping off salt-littered stoops and chatting in the street. All agree: it’s been a long, tough winter.

Mindfulness meditations can bring me right home into the season. I practice opening to what is happening during this, the most ephemeral of all seasons.  Sometimes I sit with a palm outstretched and filled with sunflower seeds for the chickadees.

Whether they land or not doesn’t matter. I’m offering and watching.

Sometimes the garden bench is the most inviting place in the world. I practice listening and find it much harder than watching. Doesn’t matter though. I continue and begin to feel as if life itself has slowed its push and shove. I am no longer a tacit observer of the environment, perched on the bench, waiting for life to begin. I feel the vibration of the sounds move through me. A slight shimmer passes inside my arms and I breathe through the heart center. I am no longer an alien entity; I’m a living being in an alive environment. A sense arises from deep in my spine that I’m home again.

Early spring meditation: Open a window or door, or even better, sit outside in a garden or park, tune your ears to a specific bird call and listen as long and as carefully as you can. If Mind wanders about in that spring restlessness, gently bring it back to the song. Just as you would observe your breath, observe everything you can about this particular song.

The rise and fall of the melody,

the loudness,

the harshness or softness,

the pitch,

the duration of the notes,

the repetition.

Can you hear other birds responding?

Can you feel the sound entering your ears?

What happens when your consciousness is attuned to your hearing, does that affect what or how you hear?

Invite the song to permeate your being.

Allow your life to become this birdsong. Where do you feel it?