The fall season begins tonight in my corner of the world. I’m learning to welcome the shorter days, the cooler weather, the return of the rain. In the past I’ve resisted the half of the year from late September – late March as ‘not my favorite time of year,’ but in the past few years I’ve begun to embrace the opportunity to go within more, to rest more and to ‘hunker down.’
When my son was small I used to tell him often, ‘what you resist persists.’ a phrase we’ve all heard but may not have taken to heart. My encouragement to you is to try being curious about accepting what is without trying to change or control it. Be open to the possibility that the rhythms of the seasons, one of many rhythms in nature, are a natural unfolding – after all, resistance does not stop the seasons from changing. We all have our personal preferences, but even if long, warm days are your favorite, there is deep significance in more time spent in quiet, reflective pursuits and more rest.
I wrote last time about the importance of my (mostly) daily savasana ritual and that has continued to be very healing and restorative. I’m excited to begin 4-week Restorative yoga sessions at my studio in the woods next month, and to sharing the magical benefits of incorporating Restorative yoga into daily life as a way to ease and flow with transitions, including the changing of the seasons.
For the past few years, I’ve used Danielle LaPorte’s Core Desired Feelings planner/calendar and one of my CDFs is ‘connection.’ I shared some thoughts in a previous post about the importance of community, and I’ve read that research shows that having meaningful connections with others is actually more important to our health than whether or not we’re a smoker.
But given the especially horrific events of recent days and all the talk about how divided we are, both in the U.S. and worldwide, it seems that connecting with others, especially if they look different and/or come from a different background, is pretty challenging for most people. And while it’s true that technology keeps us less connected and in the moment face-to-face, there is clearly a lot more to this issue than just distraction and lack of awareness.
A big part is played by fear and judgement: fear that others won’t like us if we reveal who we truly are; judgement that we think we are superior in some way to others. Below are my favorite resources this week that I hope will inspire discussion for you that creates more connection in your life. The flip side of fear is love. And truly, as trite as it may sound, what the world needs now is love.
Most of us have heard the quote from Henry David Thoreau, “Our life is frittered away by detail. Simplify, simplify.” This has always resonated with me, and my motto, if I have one, is “As soon as things get too complicated, all your problems begin.” The thing is, as we all know all too well, contemporary life is complicated by nature. But I do think there is a lot we can do to simplify, and it all comes down to awareness and intention.
There are millions of distractions and shiny objects out there. It’s so easy to go down a rabbit hole of something that doesn’t even matter to you. This is why it’s so crucial to stay as present as possible, so that you can recognize when this is happening and, with compassion, bring your focus back to what truly matters to you.
As Oprah would say, “what I know for sure” is that I feel so much better when I keep things simple. Whether it’s planning a yoga class, cooking a meal, writing a blog post – or whatever – tuning in to how something makes me feel and only doing what feels in alignment is the best way to keep things simple. In fact, my word for 2019 is ‘aligned.’ (2017 word was ‘home’; 2018, ‘experiment.’)
It’s a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon, so what feels aligned and simple right now is to go outside and read the Sunday New York Times. What helps you to feel aligned and to simplify your life?
Now that I’ve had a week to reflect on my experience at the Relax and Renew ® Level 1 teacher training course that I took in San Francisco, I realize more than ever how important it is that we allow ourselves time to rest. As I learned from my teacher, Judith Hanson Laster, who has been teaching yoga for 48 years, rest and sleep are different, and we need both. As Judith explained, relaxation and sleep are distinct physiological states. The importance of good sleep has been on most people’s radar for the past few years, but most people still don’t give themselves time to rest. I couldn’t agree more with Judith that if everyone gave themselves 20 minutes every day in a restorative yoga pose, such as savasana (corpse pose), the world would truly be a different place. Yes – 20 minutes. It takes that long for people to truly relax and rest. And it’s worth it – in fact, I believe it’s essential.
Try it for a week and see how you feel! It’s like magic in down-regulating the sympathetic nervous system and helping you ‘come home to yourself.’ Yoga is about remembering that, not creating it.
More to come on this. For now, have a restful week.
I’m a big podcast fan; there are a bunch that I listen to every week, some every day. I really love the concept of lifelong learning, and I learn nuggets every week from podcasts (for free) that truly make a difference in my life.
This week, I really liked something I heard on Deepak Chopra’s new podcast, The Daily Breath. He was talking about the importance of various building blocks in maintaining health, such as sleep and proper nutrition. In this episode, he mentioned that he likes to think of ‘movement’ rather than ‘exercise.’ For me, this kind of simple reframing can make a tremendous shift in my outlook. I’ve never enjoyed going to gyms, and let’s be honest, if we don’t enjoy/like something, A) what’s the likelihood that we’ll make if a consistent part of our life? and B) isn’t enjoying life the whole point?
So, moving our bodies every day as much as we can is crucial for our health. I stand all day at my laptop while working at my day job – rather than sitting – because it’s healthier and it allows me to move around more, even if it’s something as simple as doing a few backbends, lunges or quad stretches a few times an hour. As Deepak mentioned, he likes to take stairs instead of elevators/escalators, and get off the subway a few stops early so he can walk more. These kinds of small, daily changes make a huge difference over time. It’s why I also make sure I get in 10 15 minutes of yoga at least 5 days a week. What’s your favorite form of movement?
I’m so excited to be heading to San Francisco tomorrow to attend a Restorative Yoga Teacher Training with Judith Hanson Lasater! Looking forward to sharing more on that experience next week. This week, I started a 40-day practice with Sianna Sherman on Yoga International, as well as a 30-day course with David Gandelman on Insight Timer (see below for links.)
I started this blog to share positive thoughts and resources that may be helpful to others. It’s a way for me to share what’s on my mind and do my part to add some positivity to the world!
Each time I post, it’s my intention to include links to a few riches I’ve found that relate to the topic. And in the interest of simplicity, one of my main values, these posts will, for the most part, be brief.
So, here goes the first post. Something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is that everything we need to know is contained in a few Beatles song titles. It reminds me of the book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum, and here’s a quote from that book: “I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.” ― Robert Fulghum
Back to those song titles:
~ All You Need is Love
~ Let it Be
~ We Can Work it Out
~ Come Together
Maybe it’s too simplistic to say, but when you think about it, there isn’t much more that we truly need than the concepts contained in those song titles. They’ve been around for a long time, but these lessons are not easily learned. Why do you think that is?