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

Input fatigue (a timely re-post)

I went back into some entries from last year (Nov 2018) and found one I especially like so I’m posting it as a reminder to myself for this weekend. Hope you have a delightful Thanksgiving and a beautiful weekend!

‘Tis the season for me. I can feel it. Holidays approach. Work deadlines and projects to wrap up.

Countless emails in my inbox imploring me to get in on Cyber-Monday deals… that feeling of trying to filter it all out but feeling that it has clogged up my internal operating system somehow.

My plan is to give myself extra quiet time tonight, wind down early and allow for some rest from it all. My body and mind feel tired. What I have learned in my last couple of years is to honor that call for rest. 

The beautiful discovery about this rest, when I take it, is that I discover nothing falls apart when I take that time away. It is all still there when I return, though usually I have fresh perspective on it. 

How often do you turn everything off and allow for rest? What happens as a result?

Next August – one hundred years

Next year on August 18th the U.S. will celebrate 100 years since the ratification of the 19th Amendment of the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. A couple of Western states had given women the right to vote already in 1910. Idaho and Utah had given women the right to vote at the turn of the 19th century.

Lucretia Mott socks
I have socks with Lucretia Mott‘s likeness, which I wore with pride on election day this year. 

It is hard for me to imagine the changes in democratic consciousness that have taken place in the last 100 years. Generations of women and men began to understand that true democracy could not exist until more people could exercise their right to representation.

Granted, some people probably wish we had gone back to a world where men were in charge and women were property. I don’t tend to hang out with people like that for obvious reasons.

I am looking forward to seeing what happens in the next year with various candidates. I’m hoping we winnow down to less than 5 options by February caucus season. I would like to follow election politics but right now it’s hard to take any candidate too seriously. Unfortunately we do not regulate campaign spending very well in this country. So the people who raise the most money tend to dominate the airwaves.

Given the shock and trauma of the election 3 years ago, and the disastrous result of electing someone who has openly bragging about assaulting women, I am ready to help with GOTV efforts. Let’s make it a celebration! 100 years – can we imagine some new leadership? I say YES WE CAN!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

 

 

 

Yoga for over-thinkers Week 5 – Aparigraha

It is our fifth and final week of this series exploring the Yamas and learning asanas and soma yoga practices to support these principles.

Aparigraha is often translated as non-possessiveness, non-attachment or non-clinging. It is about understanding impermanence and honoring the divine flow of life. Nothing that is vital and growing stays the same. This teaching can help us to realize that what we cling to can keep us imprisoned.

Many of us cling to possessions, like cars or homes, fearing what we will become if we don’t have these things. Sometimes we cling to friendships that have come to an end, not realizing that the energy to maintain those relationships is actually stealing energy from other relationships or own vitality.

Aparigraha can also be applied to our expectations of ourselves or of other people. How often do we become prisoners of our expectations of others, rather than letting people be who they are? Can we learn to let go of those expectations, understanding that we not only free the other person, we free ourselves too?

Letting go w yoga mat
How are we best able to let go and receive? With a closed hand or an open one?

One of my favorite parts of the practice of aparigraha is the letting go of old ideas about ourselves. Sometimes this is scary. We have told ourselves a story of our limitations and this has kept us from being vulnerable, from being truly seen. By getting truthful and current with ourselves (practicing satya), we realize there is growth and possibility that we miss by being stuck in the old story.

Letting go of beliefs and thoughts we have can be facilitated through coaching or mentoring. This is because it is sometimes hard to realize we are not stating “truth” but rather just re-playing an old pattern of thoughts. While they are not true, the may feel true, simply because we have repeated them without examining and questioning them. A good coach can gently challenge our beliefs and help us begin the process of letting go.

For the over-thinkers among us, letting go of worries and concerns may be challenging. In yoga, we settle our nervous systems in preparation for meditation, a practice of watching our thoughts without attachment. Often a mantra can help when watching the breath may not be enough. A mantra or phrase repeated again and again can keep the mind busy, so that the quiet openness does not tempt the mind to run off. And when it does (as mine inevitably does) we apply ahimsa and gently bring it back.

When it comes to letting go, what is most challenging for you? Feel free to post a comment. I am curious.

***

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Yoga for over-thinkers Week 4 – Brahmacharya

This week’s yoga class will focus on the 4th of the Yamas, Brahmacharya, or non-excess. The term literally means to “walk with God” and it is a guideline to leave greed and excess behind while we experience the world with wonder and awe. When we attend to each moment as holy, we are less inclined to feel lacking, and to over-indulge.

Salad from Campus Club
Rather than eat ALL of this beautiful salad in one sitting, I got a to-go box to eat half of it later. Serving sizes are so big!

My experience with this concept is first as a practice with food and with consciousness around eating. For many years I struggled with this, since food was used as a coping mechanism in my family, a way to dull our feelings. We were not allowed to express anger, and I recall getting ice cream more than once when I was sad rather than just being able to cry.

I have since learned that all feelings, even difficult ones like grief or loneliness, are tolerable if we sit with them rather than resist them. Acknowledging that our feelings are valid, and having compassion for ourselves (practicing ahimsa) and our basic humanity, can go a long way toward curbing any sense of “lack.”

Sometimes uncomfortable truths can emerge for us, and that can lead us to want to eat, or spend, or distract ourselves rather than to courageously act to improve our situation. This is a natural impulse, to stay with our familiar patterns rather than to move outside our comfortable habits.

Many of us can relate to an excess of busy-ness in our lives, a pull to be “always on” and always positive. And yet, acknowledging our need for rest, for pauses in our day, and for experiencing the whole spectrum of emotion is how we realize we are whole. We are never lacking. In every moment, there is abundance, if we can take the time and space to become present.

May you, my lovely readers, take time to slow down, take good care of yourself, and realize the abundance within you.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com