Quiet places (and my noisy mind)

I transport myself to a quiet place in nature, not necessarily truly quiet, but a place that calms my mind. Listening to the sound of flowing water, my nervous system feels immediately soothed.

I have often had a “noisy” mind, a busy mind, an exuberant and thoughtful (also thought-full) mind. I have been rewarded for this in many ways. And this over-active mind is also a source of suffering all too often.

Learning to calm myself through yoga, running or dance and through journaling, has helped to slow the racing thoughts. I sometimes forget these practices, like anyone, when my mind becomes triggered by a painful thought. At those times, I feel myself bracing and going into “defense” mode, constricting and pushing back.

A video of my favorite quiet place in nature (in Schroeder, MN).

When I can take a breath or two and recognize that I’m not actually under attack by anything physical, and I’m responding to a painful thought or belief, I can allow my emotional response without reacting.

I keep training myself to do this, and re-training myself. It’s a lifelong journey, it seems. And maybe that’s what it means to be human, this acknowledgement of unhealed wounds that need tending and self-compassion. We may realize intellectually that they are no longer threats, and yet they still activate a primal place within our nervous system.

When they trigger fear or sadness or another painful emotion, there is a cascade of “stories” that usually follows (for me). And then that feedback loop can lead to even more painful thoughts. I bring myself back again to my physical sensations, my senses both internal and external, and re-ground myself.

The noisy mind is still there. And now I access a place where the “watcher” can lovingly and compassionately see the pattern, and offer comfort. Nothing has gone wrong. This is what minds do, generate thoughts like bubbles in a stream. They are not necessarily true, particularly the painful ones.

Stepping back, I access that bubbling stream knowing all is well. A bit of distance, a bit of perspective, and the noisy mind calms itself.

Be well, dear readers.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Sunday haiku – sun and moon

Solstice and new moon

Stars, earth, moon: dance together

Celebrate their Song

Sunrise in Duluth
This was not taken on the new moon (obviously). But I always love pictures from the North Shore. Hope your solstice and new moon usher in good things this month. 

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cristy@meximinnesotana.com

P.S. Registration for next Sundays (Re)treat is now live! Join us for a yoga retreat in your own home with the theme: Nurturing Resilience. Hope to see you there!

Renewal in times of uncertainty

Content here first appeared on Linked in on April 14, 2020. It has been edited for WordPress and re-formatted.

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Are you feeling like your head is busy and your body is unsettled?

Maybe you are trying to work from home, and it now seems like all you do is work…

Or maybe you are managing children’s “school at home” schedules and you are also expected to get work done.

boss Gallup article
Photo credit link (Gallup)

With the uncertainty and virus concerns, many of us exist in a new reality. Even if we might worked at home before now and then, now we are possibly sharing space with more people.

We don’t necessarily have the “commute bumper” of our day to delineate starting and stopping anymore. For some of us, maybe the dining room is now our makeshift office. Pets or children may interrupt us many times a day, not understanding that it’s a Tuesday, not a weekend!

It does not help that the news can be grim, and that we worry about the state of our health, our loved ones, and of just how the world will “recover” from such a disruption. While we may be able to focus on certain aspects of our work during the day, we cannot totally keep from wondering… what is next?

During this period of collective upheaval and change it is important to schedule self-care into our day. I’m writing this while snow swirls outside in Minnesota as we speak. So while a walk would be lovely and I highly encourage that as a routine for before or after your workday, or after lunch, it does not always appeal.

Yogi tea IG photo

Other things you can do include taking a break and making a cup of tea, and allowing yourself to step away from your desk. Grab a journal and write out your thoughts, or draft a  screenplay scene with yourself as the protagonist.

If you’re like me, you will add yoga or other movement as part of your day. There are online NIA classes you might take. Perhaps some quiet meditation or listening to some soothing music will help you calm and center.  Or engaging your creativity by getting out the paints or even some play-doh (remember kindergarten?) will give your mind a rest.

Whatever you decide to do, realize that these self-care activities are not optional. They are not frivolous, because they provide a respite from our left hemispheric thinking, which can be unrelenting. While thinking and problem-solving are wonderful aspects of our human capacity, over-emphasis can lead to anxiety, a focus on doing rather than being, and sometimes even insomnia.

I wish you well. I hope you experiment with and discover the activities that nourish your whole self, and nurture calm, clarity and resilience. I would love to hear about your favorite ways to relax in the comments below!

Take much care,

Cristy

P.S. If you have not already found online yoga options and want to join a live community of people via Zoom to practice restorative or slow flow yoga online, please join my email list (cristy@meximinnesotana.com) to get a free class offer. Or you can sign up for a sliding fee yoga class here. No prior experience necessary. Thank you for your interest!  

Healing Within Tree
Click here to explore Yoga with Cristy

 

In syncopated time (re-post)

Does anyone else feel as thought they have been living in a time warp lately? Like March went by in the blink of an eye? 

Me too. In April of 2019 I wrote about the rhythms of life and how life can be a dance. It feels appropriate to re-post an edited version in the “new era” which will likely be know as the COVID-19 pandemic.

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In a recent dance class I started thinking about my life as a song or a dance. It is an interesting metaphor, and I had to ask these questions:

What type of song would it be? 

–Syncopated, lyrical, dance-worthy, synthesized?

In what type of venue would it be played? 

–Concert hall dive bar, dance club, opera house?

In what genre of music would it belong?

–Pop, rock, blues, jazz, classical, EDM, yoga, country, rap, Latin, samba, world music?

***

In syncopated time.JPG
You Tube link to Dangling Conversations (where the title of this post originates)

When I thought about my own life, I decided that while I would love for it to be smooth and lyrical, it tends to be more syncopated.

Sometimes there are some dance-able parts in there, and that makes it a lot of fun!

Other times I seem to be tripping over my own feet, struggling to keep time, and hoping to come out up right.

Generally, I enjoy the musical accompaniment of my life. The soundtrack includes Zumba, jazz (improvisation), and some classical, when I’m lucky. But usually it is a syncopated rhythm, and I trip or dance along as fluidly as I can manage.

I am grateful for it all. I recognize the value of each part of this interwoven melody, the story and the music of my life. Some of it is good, some of it is hard. And I am so fortunate to have each day in which I can live and love.

I’ll take it. Syncopated rhythms and all.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com