can I proceed with caution …. and still maintain an open heart ?

imageHow do we deal with the challenges of being human— the fear and pain of loss and experiences of grief and hurt…..?  For some, the question becomes:  “How do I carry on?”   Most of us at some point in our lives retreat in one form or another, finding temporary solace in a self-protective sheath we have carefully woven to safe-guard our hearts from,  and everything else which has the potential to become vulnerable to, the unsafe world surrounding us.   Continue Reading →

blogging– A disclaimer

ManRayandCc
Milan Kundera in his remarkable The Book of  Laughter and Forgetting (1979) notes, “The proliferation of mass graphomania among politicians, cab drivers, women on the delivery table, lovers, mistresses, murderers, criminals, prostitutes, police chiefs, doctors, and patients proves to me that every individual without exception bears a potential writer within himself and that all mankind has every right to rush out into the streets with a cry of ‘We are all writers!”
Kundera continues,
“The reason is that everyone has trouble accepting the fact he will disappear unheard of and unnoticed in an indifferent universe, and everyone wants to make himself into a universe of words before it’s too late. Once the writer in every individual comes to life (and that time is not far off), we are in for an age of universal deafness and lack of understanding.”

Well, I must say, Mr. Kundera seems to have anticipated this age of tweeting and posting — so many of us clamoring for attention. I’d like to believe that I’m not guilty as charged. Before we disappear unnoticed, we should try to make the most of our time here. I believe I can help.

the art of becoming real

imageUnless you have been living under a rock, you are familiar with (and probably cannot help but be captivated by) Don Draper, the rough tough cream puff protagonist of AMC’s Mad Men.  Season 7, part 1, Don has definitely evolved.. We have sat and watched him suffer, being plagued by the painful memories of his past and his unsuccessful and unsatisfying attempts to escape this pain through countless drinks and women. This year, however, although he is still experiencing a great deal of internal conflict, he seems to be moving toward true growth.  He wants to be different…..   more real.  “The past is not the future” could be the mantra of this new Don.  Unfortunately, not everyone in his life sees or appreciates the beauty of this.    The character arc of Don Draper is worthy of discussion– particularly because it so brilliantly demonstrates how challenging the change process can be—  one fraught with obstacles and certainly not without consequence. Continue Reading →

we are all in this together

cassandra-flowerDespite our individual differences and the varied details of our “unique” lives,  we all struggle — and the ways in which we do so are more similar than one might imagine.

As my clients reveal each in their own way,  the motivation to seek help ultimately surrounds issues of “how can I be more happy, or less stressed, or more healthy, or a better mother, father, partner, daughter”, etc.  We may have different stressors in our lives– sometimes financial, sometimes spiritual, sometimes health issues, work-related challenges, relationship/ family dramas— but for the most part, we want to live in more balance, with more peace.   We are ultimately looking to reestablish or reconnect to the natural order of things. Continue Reading →

savasana (corpse pose)

ccbackarnoriverI was talking with a friend of mine who recently lost her father.   He had a good life, having been healthy and sound of mind to the end.   He was in his late 80′s and died peacefully in his sleep after a lovely weekend with friends and family.  Although the death of my friend’s father was a huge loss to her, she was comforted by the fact that he had died so peacefully, without any awareness of what was to pass.  We agreed that this was indeed the preferred path to “the end”.

Another friend overheard our conversation and related a story of an older man he knew quite well, who courageously stated:  “When I die, I do not want to go peacefully in my sleep …… I have been waiting my whole life to die,  I want to be completely awake and aware the whole time!”  Wow— how impressive….. I thought…

The concept of not wanting to miss out on one’s own death sends chills up my spine— I think, with the recognition that this is what we are all doing– living, practicing, and ultimately preparing for our final relaxation… I hope to do all of it well….. as… this is the practice–  living well so that we can die well– moving peacefully and consciously into savasana– without resistance, without regret.

yoga and becoming tall(er)

image

I know that I have grown at least a 1/2 inch — possibly even 3/4 of an inch— since I started practicing yoga, about 14 years ago.  This “growth spurt” has been measured and documented at my doctor’s office.  Since I am in my late (nay, let’s say, mid)- forties , this change is certainly not due to the natural growth process  and, as far as I can tell, would have been impossible without my diligent practice of yoga.

According to most sources yoga asanas strengthen the back and spine, which in turn corrects and straightens the posture.  Conventional wisdom dictates, however, that yoga will not increase the length of your skeleton or bones,  or change the genetic code that determines your adult height.   Yoga exercises will improve  posture and help keep posture-related muscles from degenerating due to atrophy or old age.  In this way, yoga can make you appear and feel taller but not actually increase your height. What we know for certain is that yoga can and does increase blood circulation, clear the digestive system of toxins and give a boost to energy levels. This increases the fluid in disks of the spinal column and in turn strengthens the cartilage in the spinal column.   But does this account for the actual, measured change in my height at this point in my life? It makes sense to me that  spine lengthening poses over time would indeed create  more space in the spinal column, allowing for an actual increase in height.   BKS Iyengar, , in Light on Yoga, talks about the importance of establishing the tallest spine/posture we can imagine in each pose.      Although Iyengar is defintely speaking anatomically  about proper alignment, I believe, he is also referring to being the tallest we can be in our lives…. in other words, inviting us on a very spiritual and emotional level, to inhabit our bodies in space fully, not to shrink or become small or less, as so many of us have learned to do to accomodate others and our lives.   Rather, we can move through space, fully engaged in the practice of yoga, growing taller on all levels, taking up the space that we deserve…. growing into our true height, if you will.   so today, at 5′ 3′ I am happily arriving in  that space and making it home.

Spain on the Brain

imageHaving just returned from a few-week long trip to Spain, I cannot help but romanticize the Spanish way of life. As we traveled through central Spain— from big city Madrid with its world class art museums, through Segovia to Salamanca for a few-day stay and a mid-day stop in the palace-laden Renaissance town of Caceres, the expansive plains stretched to hills and eventually to the beautiful mountainous countryside. We continued our journey to southern Spain, exploring the cities of Seville and Granda, where we were fortunate enough to experience the awesome sights and timeless beauty of the Alcazar and the Alhambra, respectively. The deep sense of history and culture permeates the towns and cities and seems to connect the people to one another in ways that made me envy them. Family and friends spend time with one another in the middle of the day, eating and drinking; children play soccer (football) nearby in the streets; mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts and uncles, gather together at restaurants, playgrounds, or just outside of their homes. People seem serene. There is a sense of joyfulness, a simplicity to life that felt so attractive, even necessary, to me. After the big afternoon meal, shops close for several hours, as everyone retreats, either to take their siesta or find some other form of rejuvenation. What a concept, right? Then, later many come out again from about 8:30pm and into the night, sometimes into the wee hours of the morning. The people of Spain seem to be truly happy and relaxed, taking the time to celebrate, and appreciate, what they have… and sharing what is important with one another. Call me a romantic —but who wouldn’t be swept away by the notion of living a life that brings one a sense of joy, serenity, and liveliness.

imageI may be suffering from “the grass is always greener” syndrome, but wow, I must take pause here, and consider how I might integrate some of what I saw and felt in sunny Spain into my own daily life. Back here, we are all so busy; we often talk about how overwhelmed or stressed our lives have become. Maybe it is time to do less and breathe a little more. Maybe it’s not so much about how much I accomplished in one day but how much I enjoyed this day.