The Downward-Dog-In-Heat Down-Low

make time for yourselfI’m going to answer your burning questions about my introduction to hot yoga; yes, I survived.

That in itself is success.

In an attempt to come up with some sort of healthy schedule in light of my new empty nest status, I have signed up for a month of hot yoga, hoping that I love it enough to make it a habit.

Empty-nesting has left a hole in my life where all of  my put-off self care needs to go.

So, I started at my local yoga place. The greeting at the door at Moksha Yoga was not a spiritual-community-greeting.  It was extremely clear that the sinewy, dewy-faced, blonde-haired  twenty something behind the counter was running a business.   After years of meditation practice, temple visits (and spa visits…), I get it.

Although I arrived very early, she was all about the rules. I might suggest that for identified first-time visitors, that business warm up their hellos. I’m pretty outgoing, so it didn’t deter me, but for others who are coming in,  carrying more anxiety and fear, it would certainly make the experience much more attractive.

A few folks that I know helped me choose an outfit that would not be sloppy and inhibit my movements; a sports bra, tank and pair of yoga pants. I took two towels, a water bottle, and rented a mat as I tossed my old one during my recent move. AmazonPrime will save me within 36 hours with a new one.

Hair: the bain of my feminine existence. I clipped my naturally ringlet tight curls up and added a sports band for good measure. After class I looked like I was making a  half-assed attempt at blonde dreadlocks but, whatever.

joy in livingThe class slowly filled in at the last minute, and I eased back into my position on the mat which I hadn’t made time for in at least five years.

It was hot, and I was wise choosing a reduced-heat class. I survived, and felt refreshed at the end of class. Even joyful.

I will be back.

 

 

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Empaths; Diluted Spiritual Practice

pink tulipsWhen I’m sad I buy flowers.

Today I bought a bouquet of pink tulips.

I wasn’t sad for myself, or suffering any great loss. But I have been the strong shoulder on which to lean for a few of my friends lately, and it got me to thinking.

There’s been a lot of talk about ’empaths’ lately. It’s the hip catch-word for empathy, and kind of an annoying one at that. Heaven forbid we feel empathy for one another any more. It’s so fucking depressing and inconvenient after all.

Who needs that?! Aren’t we all supposed to be hap-hap-fucking-happy all of the time? Isn’t it best to dilute our suffering so we can ignore it a little easier and be productive? Maybe a new purse would help? Oooh! And the matching shoes!

Empathy has long been trickling out of our culture like a slow leak in a milk bag. The only thing  that it leaves behind is a disgusting sour mess.

Self-awareness has somehow eclipsed the sacred and ancient practice of being present. Fully present. As in, being as fully aware of your own actions and reactions in relation to the rest of the world.

I was sad today because I woke up to two phone calls from people  who are suffering. I also woke up to a text message from someone rather new in my life. I knew it was thoughtfully composed, and I knew why, and that made me sad too.  The collective ‘we’  complicate things unnecessarily, and all it really does is hurt.

“I’m an empath,” someone recently confided to me at a party. “I see,” I replied. It’s my standard response when someone’s utter oblivion catches me off-guard.

What I really wanted to say was, “We’re all empaths honey”.

We’re all human and we all feel a full spectrum of emotion. Remember that the next time you hold back. Whether you’re trying to play it cool in a romantic relationship, not break boundaries as a friend or colleague, or wondering whether you should defend someone in their absence.

Remember that we all feel deeply, this wild and wonderful bittersweet life.

Empath, schmempath! Enough pop-psychology drivel. Practice being fully present, and I promise, your heart will thank you for it.

 

The Lazy Buddhist

"You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you're too busy; then you should sit for an hour." ~ Old Zen Saying~

“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”
~ Old Zen Saying~

I’m a lazy Buddhist.

Some days I’m more of a lazy Protestant, Hindu, Jew, Taoist, Muslim or Catholic. It just depends on how I’m feeling. I like to go with the spiritual flow, if you know what I mean.

How can I be all of those things? Well, it’s kinda like this;  I really struggle to wear the uniform of any single religion. I’m spiritual, and have found a home in my Buddhist practice. It  brought me to a much deeper understanding of my Protestant roots, and my academic study of religion.

But I’m lazy about it.

Today I put off a full day of meditation because I woke up with the same headache and sniffly nose that I went to bed with last night.

Mind you, I could have taken a seat in the meditation hall full of decongestants with a side of tissues, but it was so very much easier to stay in bed and cuddle with my 1500 count, aubergine-coloured sheets.

Granted the other folks attending today’s retreat are thankful that I didn’t come and clutter up their atmosphere with sniffles, bacteria, and a high level of shifting on my organic buckwheat hull-filled cushion, I could have gone.

Instead, I got up, had a glass of water and went back to bed, where, my body and mind rested for 5 more hours.

As usual, I made my way to my preferred coffee shop, sat back, and read the news. The piece that caught my ever-distracted eye was in the Focus section of the Globe and Mail. Crushed, by Erin Anderssen was a bell back to some thought about my own practice, and how, when I need it the most, I abandon it like a kitten distracted by an ant.

I have been worrying a lot lately. A lot. Worry is something that used to drive me toward my goals and accomplishments. Now it just drives me to bourbon, quick fixes and eventually, back to my breath.

Friendships wax and wane. Everyone has their own problems, and let’s face it, even though you may ask for someone to share their perspective, decisions have to be made with your very own unique concoction of rational thought and intuition. I tend to go heavy on the rational thought, and overboard on the intuition.

In the past, decisions that I’ve made from a place of fear or worry have been quick fixes that offered only temporary satisfaction.

For a week I’ve been stewing over something pretty hard. A simple ten minute session on my cushion mid-week, just before bedtime,  offered some release, and the most solid night of sleep I’ve had in months. I woke up with a new perspective.

So today I missed a great opportunity to share sacred, even holy, space with other people who know the power of practice within the safe space of a sangha. Instead, I chose to rest my own body and mind.

I felt guilty about not going, but then I decided to be at peace with peace. Both at letting myself get some solid rest, and for making a decision that wavered contrary to popular opinion. Just to be sure, I did some math, and realized that both my intuition and rational thought process were right on the money.

This week I had expressed my fears, hopes and thoughts to my friends, soliciting their perspectives and advice. They offered support  when I had come to a conclusion, and confided that with regard to this matter that was on my mind, I had made a poor decision before. I had to agree, and then, after calming my mind, I had to disagree.

This is life. Lived uniquely on our own, despite being surrounded by people; some caring, some sent teachers, and some we will never know.

Am I a lazy Buddhist, or am I just one who, working intensely with human loss each and every day, needed some space?

Breathing room and solitude are often mistaken for sloth. Don’t let anyone else’s ideas fool you.

When in doubt, hit the floor and give yourself ten for  zen. You won’t be disappointed, I promise.

 

Keeping the Fun in Fitness

Stretching never looked that good!

Stretching never looked that good! (Photo credit: deleted.scenes)

Today was the day I made the effort to reconcile with my friend the gym.

It’s been a while. Since I took to outdoor running and paddling, the stale air of indoors hasn’t held the same appeal.

After having a rotator cuff tear in two places, be repaired and torn again, it was with a heavy heart that I made the decision to  abandon ship (my dragon boat team), and get back to the gym.

As much as I will miss being on the water with a great team of women, I know that my shoulder is done. Shot. Finito. Caput.

So, it is with sadness that I leave the river and go back to the gym. Back with gratitude too though, because it’s within walking distance, and I love it.

Combined with my yoga in an oak and stained glass sanctuary, and my running on the trails by the lake, I think it will all balance itself out, and my little, worn out soul will be happy.

Besides the stale air, the gym is also a festering pool of  dodgy material to write about. Writers are always observing. Perhaps we all have a slightly perverse voyeuristic bent, but that’s kinda sexy. Right?

As my torn tendon screamed in pain, I ignored it and focussed instead on some of the general truisms about gym life. I bundled them all up in my teeny, tiny girl brain, and brought them home to share with you;

1) The men who like to have their women covered head to toe in the name of religion, are the first ones to settle into a cardio spot with an excellent sight line to the women’s fitness room. The gym is a haven for sexual hypocrites and perverts.

2) The older you get the less you care about your panties showing above your yoga pants. You just hope you don’t toot or actually shit yourself.

3) Men in spandex all look less than attractive. Unless you’re Channing Tatum or some such masculine delight, wear  something else. Please.

4) Fill-in instructors all have full-timer envy, and make it their mission to push you to that psychological breaking  point where you fantasize about giving them a thong wedgie and a slap.

5) Where there is cinder block, there is sweat and bacteria. I’ve never stretched against a gym wall that wasn’t appallingly moist.

6)  Someone will always hog the piece of cardio equipment you were hoping for. (That’s why I do my running outside.)

7) Gym yoga will always be the cheap, trashy version of the real thing.

8) When you least feel like going, you get the best work-out. Some deep breathing and sweat make you feel alive, and tickle your smile out where everyone can see it.

9) Gym water fountains. Ew. Just ew.

10) Squash courts have always been, and will always be THE very best place to pick up quality men. Trust me on this one ladies.

11) Any class description that includes the word ‘Bootcamp’ makes you want to die, but is totally worth it…in a week or so when you can walk again.

12) Open showers. A good indication that your gym needs a reno.  Shower at home – see number one.

***If you don’t hear from me for a while, it’s because my right arm mercifully fell off.***