Yet again I am at a phase of profound changes, and while the walls are falling down around me and within me I feel a bizarre interplay of freedom and overwhelm. How and what I practice, how and what I teach (and where and whom,) where I live, my priorities, the way I spend my time and think about myself, all of it seems to be under renovation, but I don't feel out of control. And THAT is a profound shift from the past.
During times of big change and transition, consistency of practice can (and usually is) the first thing to be sacrificed. There are, however, resources and reasons for prioritizing our self-care. I think that's pretty self-evident. What may not be so clear, however, is WHY we lose our practice to begin with? Well let me just speak for myself here: my practice hasn't been strong enough. My commitment to practice is and always has been strong, but what I was practicing wasn't strong enough to pull me out of my attachment to the chaos and the fatigue and the mental tail spin. Until recently.
Over the course of the last five months I have been incorporating specific techniques into my dinacharya (daily routine) which have provided not only a stronger anchor for my practice, but much deeper embodiment and resilience. Whether these techniques resonate or not for you is yours to discover, but if you're anything like me, why not give it a try, right?!
As simple as it sounds, take a breath. Becoming aware of the breath can immediately help you "relocate" to the present moment. Then, after several intentional repetitions of breath you can reinforce your sense of stability (even if it's only at 50%) and gain clarity for making a powerful choice on your own behalf.
Try this: sit or stand with even weight on both halves of the body (feet or sitting bones) and exhale with intention, even a little force. Let the inhale happen. Exhale intentionally again. Sometimes I blow the air out of my mouth, but eventually you want to inhale/exhale through the nostrils. Do this at least five times, or until you sense an evenness in the length of your inhale/exhale. Relax your head and shoulders (I usually wiggle my mouth around- tongue included!) and let yourself breathe for a full minute. It is incredibly powerful to witness how capable we are of reestablishing balance and ease at the most basic level.
Generally, the nervous system responds to "threat" (upheaval, change, conflict, etc.) in one of three ways: fight, flight or freeze. This is the animal in us attempting to survive. In all instances, "stay alive" is the primary goal. As humans, we have developed an intellectual capacity which allows us to override these instinctual responses, which makes it nice for saving face, but totally disastrous when it comes to dealing with stress. Whatever the charge, it needs to be discharged, and the best way to do that is to move. I HIGHLY encourage you to get out of any set sequencing or "cool" moves and just shake your ass. Literally. Shake, quiver, tremble, pulse, flail. Your brain will thank you for it. At some point in my practice I let my body move in whatever contorted, twisted way it pulls itself, often to discover that I am much more malleable than I thought. I have a tremendous amount of space inside of me that traditional fitness and even yoga asana simply cannot touch. It feels weird and even stupid if you think about it, so don't. Just yawn with your every pore and let your animal out.
Perhaps the most crucial part of this sequence is expression: saying, writing, painting or demonstrating how and what we feel, need, want, experience is the birthright of every human. We have needs, but so do animals and plants. Humans need to externalize our internal awakening (even in private!) in order to come into right relationship with our environment. If not, our emotional body gets suppressed. The emotional body, as real and functional as the physical body, is more often vilified than praised in our culture, and the results speak for themselves (opiates, anyone? alcohol? how about television and junk food?) I have a box full of art supplies, and while I don't fancy myself an artist, I have developed a deep passion for artistic expression. Pastels, crayons, clay, pen, pencil, whatever your medium of choice, just start making stuff. Let your emotional body "speak."
If these practices are of genuine interest to you, I encourage you to consider my eight week mentorship in the Fall. Details can be found on my website under Mentorship.