Thursday, November 26, 2015

Finding Flow Through Teaching

Teaching yoga provides me the "flow experience" psychologist Mihaly Czikszentmihali defines as "the feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task." It's when you do one of those things that spans hours yet feels like minutes. Maybe that's why my classes run a little long... and why I spend oodles of hours researching others' classes... or perfecting playlists... or creating sequences to lead the body and mind towards a greater sense of connectedness. Flow is based on the dual concepts of challenge & skill. It arrives when you are skilled and challenged to a high degree -- physically, mentally, or a combination thereof.

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Bingo-Loving Babe that Ran Away

Well... it happened. She ran away for the first time. 7 years old, and not so sure it will be the last. Our little bingo-playing gal just wasn't ready to miss out on this week's big-time affair at the Legion. 

My heart aches for her, but I know she’s learning about life, disappointment, joy, struggle, about others and most importantly, about herself. She is headstrong, funny, beautiful, creative, stubborn. And oh my goodness, how the love flows out of her in exuberant ways! We spoil her with freedom, but how can you harness a free spirit -- and why would you want to?! 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Coop's Playfully Exasperated "Maaa-haammm"

I'm in the final week of my 200-hr Yoga Teacher Training... it's been a ride. The biggest area of growth for me was not in my on-the-mat practice but in a willingness to embrace vulnerability, allowing myself to be seen in a new way. I learned how my fear of failure and drive for success (as defined by others) was holding me down and keeping me from dreaming. I also learned a bit more about perception... when I was feeling "heavy," my introverted nature led others to view me as aloof, serious, untrustworthy and arrogant. This confused me because inside I was trying so hard to please, albeit alongside bouts of insecurity and frustration when things didn't go as they should. Now that I'm embracing a lighter way of being, my quieter self shines through in a different way. Words my co-teacher trainees used to describe me in a recent exercise were: casually calm; someone with an amusing appreciation of life and an unsuspecting sense of humor. I like the lighter me better:)

The transformation... well it's certainly ongoing and I can't say everyday I have this sense of being. It's a struggle but an enjoyable one to be more mindful of. It's funny, the one that seems to notice the most is my little Cooper, now 8 years old. I hope to always remember his playfully exasperated "maaa-haammm" (i.e. "mom"). He calls out my little snippets of humor often, and it's interesting because I'm pretty sure they were mostly absent before. When harried busyness was the norm, slowing down outwardly and inwardly wasn't something I perceived as an option. I wasn't a bad mom, just not as regularly present and engaged. Yet -- I'm ever thankful for that time in my life. It helped me find my purpose, gave me skills I now feel blessed to share with others, and has put me on a new, exciting life path.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Spring Biking in Wisconsin’s Northwoods

Spring is a time of renewal... the skies open and temperatures warm, inviting us to experience our first ride of the season. The days are longer, the sun shines brighter, the bugs are yet to hatch, and the warm and cool air fluctuates dramatically with slight elevation changes. 

The ephemeral ponds are full of frog calls, and the forests rich with wildlife song & movement. Porcupine and wild turkeys are frequent visitors. Baby turtles hatch and find their way to the water. Hawks and grouse exit and appear in forest openings. Loons and swans glide through diamond-sparkling waters. Eagles and hawks fly overhead, riding the warm thermals.

All of this reminds us we are part of something beautiful. A delicious sense of being is experienced as the sunshine warms our bodies, as the Hermit Thrush sings its ethereal song, and when the butt aches but we continue on because it feels oh-so-good! And, the smells... sometimes brackish, sometimes so fresh with ferns, soils and more it’s indescribable. 

Nature-rich roads with company, in solitude.
Open views and lavender sunset skies.

Hearing sounds clearly, seeing more vividly.
Letting loose your voice, singing or humming along.

Fresh air pitstops along crystal clear lakes.
Ice cream, coffee, beer, iced tea - what’s your pleasure.

Make it your pleasure. 

Enjoy a ride this beautiful spring day.

Monday, April 20, 2015

A Balance of Holding On, and Letting Go

Several months ago after leaving my job, I tried out an exercise to help me find my “true purpose.” (blog here). I can’t remember where or when I came across it, but the instructions were to write starting with “My purpose in life is...” So, I tried this. The author of the activity said it may not come right away, but that once it does you’ll feel it and react with a great sense of relief. I was ready to stop wondering and understand my purpose.  So, I got to writing, and writing, and writing some more... and little breakthroughs but really not much. What now?

Since that time, I’ve relaxed, focusing instead on self-improvement and joy. Packer games. Job interviews. Exercise. Wondering a bit less about what was next. I stopped volunteering for things that weren’t fun. I signed up for graduate school. And I found myself worrying about money less (even with much less), and found ways to spend less while still buying myself a few new things. I started practicing yoga more regularly and signed up for a Yoga Teacher Training (YTT). I stopped asking the “true purpose” question and started to make decisions that felt right without a full understanding of what the outcome would be.  

My roomie Breia and I at Yoga Teacher Training in Tulum, MX.
And stress has lessened. But my craving for less stress has increased, so I’m searching for ways to go further. I believe yoga can help. I am ready to believe the decisions I make are right, and to respect and give freedom to those not yet ready to be acted upon. 

A Rumi quote: “Life is a balance of holding on, and letting go.” I view this as representative of a yogic viewpoint, and look forward to practicing that... more. I’m excited about joining a community. My greatest sense of belonging was actually in my teens when I was part of sports and rifle teams. The connection to these teams was powerful albeit youthful. But it wasn’t competition that created this (although outwardly this seemed the driver), it was the camaraderie and shared dedication. We shared a commitment to learning more, and to being the best we could be individually and collectively. Together, I was stronger. Together, we were awesome! I enjoyed the movement and synchronization -- twirling that rifle became a part of me, an act of meditation. We practiced form, fitness, focus, perseverance; and felt accomplished, alive, and healthy. Through yoga and living more mindfully and joyfully, I know I can now bring this sense of community and wellness back to my everyday.