meditation

What really matters

Last week's post on creating a bigger container seemed to resonate with many people. Grief and loss touch all our lives and remind us of our togetherness.

Related... for the past couple of months, a friend and I have been sitting together every morning at 7 am. "Together" is a loose term, since we live 15 miles from each other; a text check in lets us know the other is there.

Meditation is something I always mean to do and I've gone in and out of steady practice with it over the years. But getting it to stick again has been hard.

In Gretchen Rubin's Tendencies model, I'm an Obliger -- I stick to commitments best when there's external accountability. (A large part of the population fall in this category.)

Admitting I need accountability is helpful because then I can set myself up to succeed. Like knowing a friend is expecting a text from the meditation cushion.

And, it's more than that.


For me, this text-buddy arrangement is about more than the accountability piece -- it's about knowing that I'm not alone. And knowing I'm not alone helps me stay consistent, it encourages me to go deeper, it reminds me that there are "others" out there who I can call on.

We have hundreds of thousands of years of tribal memory in our DNA and only a couple hundred years of modern life, which has turned into an obsession with individualism. I feel a longing for connection -- and deep relief when I get it -- in my bones.

This is why I continue to put out invitations to you for ways to come together. Where we can share perspectives, question, listen, encourage. It's easy to get caught up in life and forget how essential these moments of deep connection are.

Being together also helps expand the container.

So I ask you, gentle reader...
What are some helpful ways you have set up accountability for yourself?
How can you create support or community in your day/week for the things that *really* matter?


If you are looking for accountability, consistency, a like-minded group for practice, discussion and some time to take care of yourself this fall, consider one of my upcoming offerings.

I'd love to be together, in whatever form that takes.

If you have a story, a question or a comment, share it! Always love to hear from you!

With love,
Michelle


P.S. I apologize for the recent faulty link for the Fall Renewal.

get uncomfortable

The Discomfort Zone… 

It’s not a place we talk about often. Certainly not a place we strive to be.

But it is a very important place.

It’s possible that our extreme desire for comfort keeps us a little too protected. We successfully avoid situations where we are forced to grow, where there is uncertainty, where we don’t already feel adept and safe. This can make us reactive, entitled and a little lazy.

Not to mention what our desire for comfort — and convenience — has done to the planet…but that’s a topic for another time.

In The Book of Joy, the Dalai Lama offer his sage wisdom on building resilience against mental/emotional suffering. He says:

     “Like physical illness, preventative measures are the best way. Yes, if some disease has already developed, then there’s no other choice but to take medicine. So similarly, once a person develops a strong negative emotion, like anger or jealousy, it is very difficult to counter it at that moment. So the best thing is to cultivate your mind through practice so that you can learn to prevent it from arising in the first place.” 

By getting into our Discomfort Zone, we can practice non-reactivity, observe how a feeling or sensation changes and meet the moment in reality as it is, not as we wish it to be.

You might be familiar with these qualities in your yoga practice, certainly in your meditation and asana practices.

This is one of the skills Yoga helps to develop — being with what is, as it is, without immediately discharging it, trying to fix or distract from it. 

Here are a few ways to strengthen this skill, like a muscle, on your mat:

  • Practice meditation — anywhere from a few minutes to 30 minutes — in complete stillness. Sit with the itch, the wanting to fidget, and watch the feeling or sensation change, maybe even disappear.

  • When in a yoga pose, stay even when it becomes (safely) intense. Warmth and tingling in the thighs in Warrior II? Awkward and humbling in the arm balance? Again, stay with it and watch the sensations change and move.

  • In Savasana, resist the impulse to move immediately at the “end” of the time. Notice that some of your urges are habitual rather than conscious choice.

  • How does aversion to discomfort show up in the rest of your life? Especially considering the attitudes and actions surfacing in our country right now, it's crucial for us to stretch out the comfort of complacency. What's one thing you could do -- make a phone call? Write a letter? Volunteer? Organize a group?

Why does any of this matter? What good does it do to go into a discomfort zone? Isn’t that opposite of what Yoga is for?

As my teacher Mary often says, Yoga is not a practice to make us feel better, it is an opportunity to feel.

Additionally, Yoga is a practice of Action, not just witnessing.

This is a whole-life path. It builds mental, emotional AND physical strength and flexibility.

And goodness knows we need it.