Category Archives: healing

Abhyāsa Vairāgyam: Effort and Relinquishing

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I’m not sure what happened, but I forgot about blogging until 8:38pm on Thursday night. This is surprising because I’ve written and published something every single Thursday since June of 2011.

I’ve given up some old habits recently and I’ve found that this requires much discipline and causes a surprising amount of unrest and upset to my system. I didn’t expect it, really. I’ve been making my way to this point for several years, now – trying out quitting… coming back.  But I think I’m really ready to actually let these things go. This time, the letting go has happened without much fanfare. I decided that it was time and I stopped without much conversation or buildup. But I find it does require energy. The energy that I’m putting towards these efforts means I have less for the other things I need to do. Like remember things.

I’ve heard from my teachers that Mr. Desikachar would say that you can measure the strength of a person’s practice not on what they can do, but on what they can give up. I don’t think he was talking about forcing a change onto ourself as a measure of how much ascetic and painful torture we can endure without whining, but as an exercise to see how attached we are to the things that we enjoy. Or how much our balance and sense of peace depends on the weekly chocolate bar we get at the check out line, the evening run we have to take to unwind, or the glass of wine before dinner. Maybe giving something up that we enjoy is something that lets us see if we have our attention, our sense of self, or maybe even our joy anchored in the right place.

In the past, I’ve ‘let things go’ but I haven’t really. I must not have been ready. I’d decide to give it up and then thought about whatever it was constantly. My body might not have been indulging in the behavior, the substance or the distraction, but my mind was totally linked to it. This time, it’s less dramatic. It feels like I’m waiting for the old stuff to flush out of my deepest tissue layers. I’ve noticed these occasional pangs of wanting, but I’m not obsessing. Even so, I’m a little thrown off. I get confused about the timing of things and my dreams have a different quality. I’m likening the new patterns to a transplanted organ. Right now, I’m still recovering from the surgery. I’ll have to remember to take the anti-rejection medicine for a while. Then, maybe after a long time, it will be more normal and the new thing that I’ve taken in will be a part of me.

Yoga Sutra 1.12 abhyāsavairāgyābhyāṁ tannirodhaḥ

Make some efforts (abhyāsa) then relinquish what is getting in the way of your effort or goal (vairāgyām) so that you can reach a state of yoga (nirodha)

equanimity

Fall Obedient Plant in my front yard

Fall Obedient Plant in my front yard

 

I’ve been thinking about equanimity, mostly because I had a situation this week where I was not that. I was totally and unreasonably pissed off. I heard some upsetting news, started stomping around and then catastrophic thinking took over. I could see into the future… how generations of people would be affected by the incident and how the people involved were fraught with wrong thinking. They were wrong. They are wrong. Totally. Their. Fault.

It took several hours, but eventually I cooled off enough to consider my reaction. Everything I felt still seemed absolutely true –the whole part about them being totally wrong and generations of people affected, but I was very unhappy and uneasy. This motivated me to look a little closer. I thought of a similar situation that happened with a family friend in which I was able to dispassionately consider the feelings of the people on both sides of the matter. Yes, there was this unfortunate incident…and the very strong response by those involved. Yes, both people had a right to their feelings. It went on like this and I found that I felt compassion for them all. I wished them well, no matter how it turned out. and I didn’t worry about the generations to come.

This helped me to see that, perhaps, in my situation, it isn’t the incident itself that upsets me, but my relationship to the persons involved. This admission is difficult because in a relationship, all sides play a part and each person contributes something. This means I have to take responsibility for my part and that part happens to touch on deep insecurities and the some things about myself that I would rather avoid. The real (and very painful) work has to do with what’s inside of me.

How do I want it to all turn out? Eventually, I’d like to be able to come to this relationship with the kind of equanimity that allows me to see the difficult stuff clearly without all my triggers getting in the way and clogging up the glass. Clear understanding can help me to identify my role  (What can I actually do here?) so I can lovingly respond even when hit with news of crazy stuff. I think of yoga sūtra 4.7 that describes a yogi who is neither black nor white. *There’s transparency… because the yogin has no personal agenda. I won’t try to work any angle… either for my own good at the expense of another (black) nor trying to help or support so that I can feel better about myself and avoid my own suffering later (white). I’ll. Be. Clear. And ultimately, that clarity will make it easier to simply love.

 

Yoga sūtra 4.7 karma-aśukla-akṛṣṇaṁ yoginaḥ-trividham-itareṣām

The yogin’s action is neither white nor black; for the others, it is of three kinds

Patañjali emphasizes the transparency… because the yogin has no personal agenda.

 

*From Franz Moors, Liberating Isolation, The Yogasutra of Patañjali, Media Garuda 2012

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Practice with me in Ojai, CA this summer!

AUGUST 31ST TO SEPT. 5TH, 2016 ** Peppertree Retreat Center

I’ve been invited to participate in this year’s Hands-On Retreat.   This is truly a unique 5-day experience, designed especially for women in beautiful Ojai, Ca. This retreat will focus on Practical Transformation: Healing Your Life from the Inside Out. You’ll work with 3 systems of transformation to heal and learn to age with grace, vitality and restore our body’s innate balance. We have an extraordinary group of teachers who each have decades of experience in their field and our committed to helping women flourish and grow in Body, Mind and Spirit.

Take advantage of Early bird registration until July 11th. It takes a deposit of $500 to hold the space. For as little as $1475, enjoy 5 days of gourmet ayurvedic food, beautiful accommodations, plus full days of working with these amazing disciplines!

Contact me with any questions or visit www. hands-onretreats.com for more information.

How to Take a Nap

MY husband, Dave, follows this comedian guy, David Rees, who hosts a series of how to videos about regular stuff. It’s called “Going Deep with David Rees.” Hot topics include: How to shake a hand, How to dig a hole, and How to open a door. With charm, seeming candor, clever graphics and a few expert special guests, he provides really good insight into the given topic in 22 minutes. Last night, we watched the episode: How to take a nap.

I’ve known that sleep has a function and the different cycles of sleep are important so the body can recover and recuperate from the work of the day. Ayurveda offers several guidelines to follow for good sleep. One suggestion is that you don’t eat right before sleep so that the body can do its best R&R without also having to divert energy toward digestive functioning. But there’s more happening during our sleep than letting the body recover and repair on a physical level. The different cycles of sleep are important for memory, processing experiences, and creativity. It helps us on a mental level, too!

According to our video’s sleep expert, there are 4 sleep cycles and they each serve a function.

  1. Hypnogogic or hypnic jerk can happen in this very light sleep stage. You might have the feeling of falling and then jerk awake.
  2. We visit a transitional stage at the beginning of sleep and again toward the end of sleep. This stage is believed to be important for motor skill learning.
  3. During Slow wave sleep we replay memories of the day
  4. In REM sleep, the recent memories that were reactivated during slow wave sleep are integrated creatively with other experiences. This is where the bizarre scenarios and random people may appear. .

It takes time to get all the way through a session REM sleep. A nap can serve a different function depending on it’s length

20 minutes can refresh your attention when energy slumps during the day.

60 minutes can take you through slow wave sleep allowing you to process your memories—good if you are studying for an exam or learning something new.

90 minutes is typically long enough to go through a cylce of REM sleep, which can be useful if you are an artist in need of a creative boost or a scientist awaiting the next breakthrough.

Of course these cycles also apply during our night-time sleep, too.

The more I learn about the wonderful and endlessly complex human system, the more humbled I am. There’s a wisdom to the way that we function and every aspect of that functioning can support us in balance and wellness. More and more, the effort I put toward healthy living is about setting up my activities and the pace of my days so that my system can do what it does with the fewest obstacles from me. If I want good sleep, I have to stay off of the computer after dinner. I need to have a daily schedule that isn’t super stressful, so I can feel at ease and relaxed most of the time. I need to practice yoga and go for a walk. I need days that aren’t so scheduled that I can lie down for that 20 minute nap when I feel the need. The way I see it, good sleep and general health isn’t going to come from tips and tricks. It comes out of a lifestyle that is balanced, and attitudes and behaviors that respect the inherent wisdom of the body.

ojai valley

REGISTRATION OPENS SOON!

OJAI WOMEN’S RETREAT

Practical Transformation: Healing your life from the inside out

with Amanda Green and Carol Prentice

AUGUST 31ST TO SEPT 5TH, 2016

Join me for 5 days in beautiful Ojai, CA, where you can replenish and reset with master teachers as your guides.  Steep in the wisdom of yoga, ayurveda, and the Alexander technique and well-being while enjoying delicious food,  beautiful accommodations and the surrounding Ojai valley.