Saucha – lightening the load

This past weekend, I spent time on another round of de-cluttering, since it was cold and snowy. Though Marie Kondo claims that one can tidy in a one-time special event for a period of a few weeks or months, I believe it is more of an annual or seasonal ritual for me at minimum.

January is a great time to do this. After the holidays, we have accumulated more things. Some of those things we might use; other things we might want to gratefully pass them along to someone else via donation. The purpose of those things was to be received, and to convey care from the giver. Possessing them for longer than needed creates an unnecessary burden.

Saucha - lightening the load

For me, what accumulates is usually clothing and books. Oh, and since I did not entirely finish the “komono” clearing before (random odds and ends) I am still working through that. So many decisions!

Last month my yoga book club group focused on Saucha,or purity, the first of the 5 Niyamas, observances that make up part of the ethical guidelines. Part of this practice is to purify our bodies through healthy food and exercise. Another part of it involves taking care of the space around us, so we are not weighed down by excess possessions.

After dropping off some bags of clothing and shoes I no longer wear, a few household items and a bag of books, I felt immediately lighter. I felt less weighed down, buoyed by fresh energy after letting go of these items that were encroaching upon my space. I still have work to complete. But this flying start was such a nice reminder of the boost that comes from Outer Order (with credit to Gretchen Rubin, who has also inspired me this month via Audible).

Where might you purify your body, your space, or your thoughts? You might be amazed at the energy that’s released by letting go.

***

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Give yourself some love

February is coming soon, friends. You’ve already started to see the stores fill with Valentine chocolate, not so long after many of us made pledges toward some type of new healthy habit for the year.

Actually, I’m not so fond of resolutions in the new year. January in Minnesota is hard. The weather is ugly, and though we are gaining a minute or two of light a day, it’s still dark. We’re all pretty over-spent and broke after the holidays if we weren’t so good at budgeting the year before. And most of us gained 2-3 (or 7-10) pounds since Halloween. Ugh. Those slim jeans don’t feel so great right now.

Well, bears hibernate! Why can’t we?!? Why were my ancestors so good at storing fat? Oh right, so I wouldn’t starve to death. Give gratitude to the ance(stores) who’s superior fat storage (and hunting skills) are the reason I’m here today.

Speaking for myself, and our human species. 😉

heart shaped chocolates
Chocolate does not equal love. No matter how much I love it. Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

February, month of romance rolls around and we feel annoyed because everyone seems to have someone. If we don’t have someone, what are we supposed to do with all this Valentine chocolate except eat it ourselves?!? I’m outing myself as a person who has struggled with eating and body image issues. SO many women struggle with this, the majority of us, as it turns out.

I keep reading about epidemic levels of loneliness in our society. I believe it. We may be the most “connected” in terms of our possible virtual networks, but this can crowd our ability to maintain our close relationships. Being a true friend (or family member) takes time and energy.

Having a handful of really close and healthy relationships (and/or a pet perhaps) outweighs dozens (or hundreds) of online-only friends. But in professional networks where loose ties are also meaningful in terms of opportunities, it is important to maintain a bit of both.

Food is one way some of us fill our spiritual loneliness, as I learned from Geneen Roth. The comfort it provides is  only temporary and gives nothing “back.” Friendships are for mutual benefit.

human hands illustrations
Photo by Matheus Viana on Pexels.com

And what do we do when we (introverts) feel overwhelmed and burned out by too much social interaction? 

We must learn to down-regulate our nervous systems. We must learn how to let go of what does not serve us. We sometimes must turn down social interactions, even with people we (usually) enjoy in order to take care of ourselves.

Our species simply has not evolved emotionally for the level of inter-connectedness we now experience on the planet. We once saw ourselves as isolated tribes. Now, we know that we are in this together. Kill our environment, kill our planet, we all perish. Not pretty.

What yoga offers to me (and others) are tools to balance our nervous systems. We can cope with our feelings of stress, our difficult emotions and even our physical pain. Most of us desperately need daily and weekly doses of quiet internal reflection to center and ground ourselves.  Even if it is for 3-5 minutes a couple of times a day, give yourself that opportunity.

Your loved ones will thank you. You will thank yourself. And the world will be better served if you are generous in caring well for your whole being. 

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

This February treat yourself to (1)
I’m piloting this short class at work next month! So excited I can offer this in my department.

 

 

Be the wordless person in the world for a moment (re-post)

***I am working on a separate writing project. I also went back to read some January 2019 posts. My writing can often give me reminders and clues to what I need to do now. So I’m re-posting an edited blog in that spirit.**

I borrowed the above title from a line in a guided meditation. I wish I could remember which one so I can properly attribute it. It reminds me that building more space into my weekly time for reflection and writing my own work is more challenging than I thought. I am seldom the wordless person. I have lots of words. And I share them freely.

new journal - be bold
My brand new journal, given to me as a Christmas gift from my mother-in-law.

When you write “morning pages” in your journal, you are the only one who can give yourself praise for getting your work done. Social media and the clicks and likes can be an addictive little “hit” for affirmation. As a writer, I write every day no matter what. It is like oxygen for me. But I am susceptible to that buzz that comes from others receiving the work well.

I am comforted to know that there is brain chemistry and neurobiology behind this, of course. Those clicks and likes produce a little hit of dopamine in your brain, and because we are social creatures, approval is important to us at a primal level. There is nothing wrong with that. It is very natural. Please have compassion for yourself if you worry sometimes about what other people think. Being part of a tribe or pack was how the mammals of today survived.

As a person who loves words, and who loves the ease of publishing that blogs can offer, it is even harder for me to be the “wordless” person. I joke to my husband that this blog is my little soapbox, so that I can express my ideas freely without subjecting him to all of my opinions.  So he is grateful that it exists. 😉

Some days, I am better off going into observer mode rather than writing publicly. It is like meditation, noticing what is going on in my body, and in my mind, while not attaching to it. Emotions come and go, as thoughts do. Ideas float through and sometimes I want to grab a pen. But I sit, and allow things to flow through. My ego-ic mind can be quite impressed with my thoughts sometimes. But my higher self, the watcher, just observes and allows. No thought is better than another, they just are.

Is it challenging to be the wordless person? Heck yeah, more than I ever realized.

Cheers,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Unexpected Acts of Kindness

I had three unexpected gifts show up within the last 2 days, one at work and one delivered at home. All of them put a big smile on my face and gratitude in my heart. I’m not the best at getting gifts for people. I am more inclined to try to spend time with people I enjoy. But I really enjoyed receiving these kind gifts, and it helped me feel the spirit of the holidays.

May you have a wonderful holiday season and enjoy the blessings you receive.

Grateful for the generosity I have received from work colleagues and friends.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Unwritten protocols

Hello Friends,

Happy Thursday!

I’ve been deeply immersed in a personal writing project so I am likely to post a little less frequently in the few months. I have come to enjoy my Sunday haiku, so I’m not giving that up. We all have much going on in our lives, and YOU are no exception. But I do want to keep in touch so if you do want to connect and I’m taking an offline hiatus, you can reach me via email.

Do you know the unwritten protocols of your organization?

In the meantime, I wanted to reflect on something I posted about last week, an incident in which I was blind-sided at work by something I never saw coming.

Now that I’ve had the chance to think it through I realized I had not respected the unwritten protocols that exist in this organization. As a clinical researcher by training, I have a love/hate relationship with protocols.

Protocols are awesome because they give you a clear definition of what needs to be done. They are written in language that is specific and precise. Since scientific experiments need to be reproducible and consistent in their execution, protocols are a necessity. When you work with human subjects research, regulations require protocols that are well-vetted, statistically validated and approved by an institutional review board or medical ethics committee.

Organizations often have “power protocols” also. These are the unwritten protocols that take typically 6-18 months at any organization or department (sometimes more) to learn. They are things like:

  • Having a PhD or M.D. counts (especially true in academic organizations).
  • If you have a choice to talk with the PI for a grant, or the chief of staff, pick the latter. She’s the one who actually gets the job done; he’s the name on the letterhead. In a university system, it’s fascinating to me how this mirrors a very patriarchal structure.

I had opened the communication channels during a project in which I was gathering feedback. But I did not bank on the fact that, while I was trying to be system-agnostic in my analysis, the department wanted me to fix the tool they already have rather than to select the best tool.

Now that I understand what they want, I can execute on that. I may not agree with the decision, but others with higher grade levels are determining the parameters. And that’s where I encountered one of the unwritten protocols at this institution: if grant money has been used to build a tool, it would take a LOT for us to abandon the tool.

Lesson learned. Onward.

cristy@meximinnesota.com