"We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It's just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy." Pema Chodron
I won't lie to you, my friends. It's been a challenging 2015. And I won't be opaque. Like many women in the world, I am struggling with the painful effects of infertility and the loss that comes with it. As is par for the course in this arena, there have already been a few heartbreaks along the way. In the process of confronting this, I've had to visit with some ghosts from the past and goblins from the world of reproductive endocrinology, not to mention endure the long expanses of waiting ( so much waiting ) for our family to be together finally. Here comes the yoga. This is one of those experiences that tests if I mean what I say. Do I believe it's all unfolding as it should? Do I have the faith to let go of the way it all turns out? Can I connect with who I truly am: not this body, not these worried thoughts... but the wisdom within? What will I do when things fall apart?
I created this list for how the practice can support you for those times when you need to put one foot in front of the other and take it day by day. It comes from how the practice has been supporting me. My rule for myself is no matter how I feel, no matter how much time I think I don't have, no matter how strong the lure of the couch, I will spend 10 minutes per day with a practice that deeply nourishes me. I will light a candle and sit by my altar and probably do one of the things on this list.
In November when I last saw my teacher Gary Kraftsow he told me to take all the extra energy I spend overdoing it on any one occasion and put it into being consistent. I'm passing it on to you with the hopes that it worms its way into your mind as it has mine, taunting you in the best way to practice.
Without further ado, A List for When Things Fall Apart
You have the time nourish yourself for 10 minutes per day. Your body and mind deserve a chance to rest in this moment. It will make a difference to your mind, body, and spirit.
If you have 10 minutes...
- Breathe. Consciously. It does not have to be fancy. It can simply be soft, deep breathing hearing So on the inhale and Hum on the exhale (translation: I am that). If you want to get fancier, practice pranayama. Depending on the technique you use, you can help to build strength and power, release tension, or stabilize your nervous system. I'd recommend my teacher's book on the subject over any other.
- Contemplate this quote: "We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It's just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy." Pema Chodron. Then get yourself one of her books and read a chapter each time you practice. I'd highly recommend The Places That Scare You and Getting Unstuck.
- Practice legs up the wall pose, or viparita karani. It's my go-to for instant stress relief. Some instructions, photos, and other simple postures to consider here.
- Practice aromatherapy. My favorite stress reliever lately has been Tara Incense, a favorite of the monks of Tibet.
- Practice guided mindfulness meditation. I've found a great app for that called Headspace. This app features meditation instruction for beginners and experienced meditators alike. You can download it here, and it's free to start.
- Dance. Here's my latest jam for rocking it out in my living room. Shake your bones. Act wild and crazy. See if you don't feel better afterward.
- Sing. Here is a healing way to incorporate mantra and singing: kirtan. This is a practice of call-and-response singing. Krishna Das is a great place to start. Try his album Pilgrim Heart. I especially love "Om Nama Shivaya."
- Do some big picture dreaming. I love to journal to plan for the future and remember that I'm making my way toward my big goals. I've been having fun with the "Create Your Shining Year" journal this year. Taking stock of how far you've come can really help to give you the courage to keep going.
- Contemplate the Yoga Sutras. Did you know that the yoga sutras are an ancient guidebook to how to be happier and more free? True story. Some translations are super-dense, but I love this one by Pandit Rajmani Tigunait Ph.D.
- Make a list of everything you are grateful for. It will make you 70 percent happier. It's science, baby.
If you have more time...
Come to a yoga class! I've got one almost every day of the week, and we'll incorporate many of the above with the support of other yogis just like you.
We've got this, yogis. One breath at a time.