Mindful Journal #1

I am definitely still having trouble with mula bandha lock and breathing fully through it.  It feels once I lock it, I can’t expand fully.  My friend says, “it will come, keep practicing”.  So that’s what I’m doing.  Isn’t that what we all do with everything?  Practice whatever it is we do?  Do we ever DO what we do or are we always practicing what is we want to do?  When does one ever say they are a master of something?  I suppose one can feel proficient and confident at something, but then, even then, a master is always practicing whatever it is at the next level, in a finer, deeper, richer sort of way?  I always ask my kids to practice their instruments, not play their instruments.  When they are not practicing, we call it performing.  Will they ever just play their instruments?  Will I ever do yoga?  Or will I practice the rest of my life?  I just looked up the definition of a yogini: a woman who practices yoga.

I guess there’s my answer.  I’m a yogini.  I am a woman who practices yoga.  Have been on and off for 20 years. Even though my practice has gotten more serious over the past 5 years, I’m still a yogini.  I guess I always will be.  It’s only now through my training do I want to write about my practice, which is actually a requirement for the training, which I suppose will deepen my practice.  There again, I’m practicing writing.  Will I ever be a writer?  Or am I already one because I practice writing?

I want to journal/blog everyday because I always find I have so much to say and it clears my mind.  However, I don’t blog/journal everyday for the very same reason…. I have so much to say and it takes a long time to sort it all out.  I don’t sit down to start because I don’t have time to finish.  I won’t be able to get it all down.  If I practiced writing wrote everyday, perhaps it would come easier.  I wouldn’t have so much stored up and need to get so much out.  So here goes, my writing practice about my yoga practice.

Wednesday, I started with my Lenten promise to go to bed by 10 pm so I can get up at 5 am to practice.  That will give me the minimum of seven hours of sleep that my body requires.  I got to bed by 10:30 that night and vowed to do better tomorrow.

Thursday at 5 in the morning was difficult and I wanted SO BADLY to go back to bed.  That little monkey in my head had all the reasons why I should.  “You love sleep, why are you denying yourself?  Sleep is important, especially to your practice.  At least get another half hour of rest.  You are so tired you will feel better if you did.  You are a busy mom; you need your rest.  You need eight at the minimum – seven was bad enough, now you have less than seven hours!”  So with great resolve,  I thought of Horton who tells the little Whos, “I said what I meant and I meant what I said, an elephant is loyal one hundred percent” and I got out of bed at 5 am.

What did I notice?  How hard it was to get up at 5am.  I made my bed so perhaps that would dissuade me from crawling back in.  Not that THAT would ever stop me.  I grabbed the burgundy floral pillow my mother made to match the rocker she had reupholstered for me 20 years ago and I sat upon it.  I lit a candle, locked the mula, and started breathing.  As soon as I inhaled, the lock opened right up.  My mula can’t stand up to my prana.  My breath is more powerful than my roots.  Okay, I will practice that.  While I concentrated on my ujai breathing, I noticed the candle.  All at once I noticed that if I looked at the candle in just the right way, the candle wasn’t just a flame in the darkness.  I noticed the delicate tiny beams of light reaching out tenderly in a perfect straight line towards my heart.  It would venture and retreat, venture and retreat.  Like a small inquisitive child who wants to play but is not quite sure how she will be accepted by the other’s heart.  Inching closer, testing the water, testing the vibration, waiting for a smile, a gesture that says, “come on, let’s play!”  If I looked at the light in an ever so slightly different angle, the little rays of light would dart away in the opposite direction.  I could see that I would need to remain absolutely still to encourage the light to reach my heart.  I decided I would try everyday to encourage the light into my heart, even if it was at 5 am.

When Friday night came, it occurred to me that I wasn’t planning on going to bed at 10pm.  I was going to go on a date with my favorite valentine.  I also wasn’t planning on getting up at 5 am on a Saturday.  So I tweaked my commitment to one that involved going to bed at 10 pm on school nights, waking at 5 am on school mornings, with the most important component being an everyday practice when I first wake up.

That did not happen on Saturday.  The food and the the drinks I mindlessly consumed got the better of me.  I practiced my breathing and vowed to do better tomorrow.  On Sunday morning, I wanted to make french toast for the kids before we headed to their three year old cousin’s birthday party.  Again, I vowed to do better next time.  I looked forward to the next time that I would connect with the playful little light of mine in the darkness.

Monday.  I have nothing for Monday.  I have not journaled everyday like I am supposed to but I’m waiting for it to come.  As long as I’m mindful, the right thing will happen.  What is supposed to happen will happen.  I find myself waiting.  Waiting for the answers.  They come and the plan will fall into place.  It happens all the time with me.  Making a plan does not work for me.  Plans always change.  I am waiting for my plan to develop.

On Tuesday, I tried the Mysore practice.  I wanted to see what it was like.  It was great to have a place to practice with assistance if needed, but I missed my little candle.  I won’t be able to get there with any regularity anyway, so on Wednesday I went back to my routine.  I carried a deeper promise now, to practice harder, breathe deeper and let the the light in through the darkness everyday.  Hold onto my roots.

At 5 am today, Thursday, that little candle wanted to dance and play just like my little monkey mind.  I can’t even remember what I was thinking about at 5 am but I did notice that my breath wasn’t as deep.  I have noticed that when I am breathing fully, I envision my breath filling me up the way water would fill up a water jug.  As it receives, filling the bottom first, it has a deeper sound.  As the jug fills, the sound gets softer and softer until finally you might hear the ever so faint sound of a single drop of water.  The sound of one leaf blowing.  As soon as the jug is full, it is poured out again, coming from the top, gently at first and when the last bit of water or breath is emptied from the bottom, it sounds cavernous just like the bottom of a jug.  This is how I envision the process and the sound of my breath.

Tomorrow I will tell you about the five little prayers I say over and over again as I hold each pose for five breaths.  My mantras.  One – Me.  Two – Us.  Three – Eldest Son.  Four – Second Son.  Five – Baby Girl.  These are my roots.  My family.  Myself.  My Life.


Observation 1

Valerie. Thursday. 10am. Valentine’s Day.

I don’t know her age but she looks amazing.  Is that long blond thick hair really real?  No way. She must be Swedish or something.  Who has hair like that over the age of 50?  She’s definitely more than 50.  Is she more than 60?  In any event, I want to look that good in 10-15 more years with THIS body.  I will.  I will practice my asanas if that’s what it takes.  Or maybe I’ll get new yoga pants like those.  Will I still be able to do those poses when I’m her age?  Will I be able to teach yoga by the time I’m her age?  Will I look good in yoga pants at her age?  I will practice my asanas and then time will tell.

Clearly I will need to practice non-attachment also.  Non-attachment to long thick hair, or to body image, to age or defying age, to nationality, to yoga pants, to time, or to any of the things that one loves to observe when observing.

I started a yoga teacher training course this year.  As part of the training, I need to observe one instructor each month and reflect about that observation.  This month, I chose Valerie’s class to observe.  This was her intermediate Kripalu class, Thursdays, 10 am.  Valerie likes to play music and read sweet readings to impart her wisdom and grace.  I love this.  She stays on her mat and demonstrates with the utmost ease and beauty each posture she wants us to attain.  She is what I imagine sculptures might look like if they could move.  She speaks clearly and distinctly.  She reminds us over and over that we are beautiful and to breathe in loving kindness, breathe out compassion.  She asks us to let go of the burdens we carry on our shoulders, clear out the heaviness, root ourselves down into the earth, open our hearts and be at peace, wherever we are.  Create emptiness in that backpack we carry and fill it with love.  Love is light.  Light is love.  Honor your beautiful spirit, your light.

Valerie read to us short phrases from The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz.  This is a short, easy read and lovely for it’s refreshing reminder of how to begin practicing non-attachment.  For when we practice non-attachment, we can truly still the mind and honor our beautiful spirits.  The Four Agreements were lovingly intertwined with asana instruction and created a wonderful atmosphere in the room of yoga students practicing with an open heart on this Valentine’s Day, 2013.

1) Be Impeccable with Your Word.  Your word is a gift, a force, an energy, a power.  One word can change a life or destroy it.

2) Don’t take anything personally.  Allow yourself to be.  If you take it personally, maybe you think you are not enough.  Everyone’s world is different than yours.

3) Don’t make assumptions. Assumptions make us believe it is the truth, then we take it personally and react.  All drama is rooted in assumption.

4) Always do your best.  The other three agreements become more deeply ingrained when you do your best.   Keep doing your best.  No more, no less.