Time as a construct

I danced on Sunday at a place that’s become a favorite gathering at least once a month for me, and for a fellow yoga teacher who first invited me there.

It’s called “Dance Church” and it takes place at the Tapestry Folk Dance Center in Minneapolis from 11am to 1pm most Sundays (check their facebook page first in case there are other events).

She looked at the clock which read 12:45 and said: I didn’t realize the time had gone so quickly! Me, thinking that people had forgotten to turn the clock back thought: 11:45! I thought I had been dancing for longer than 10 minutes! In fact, the time was ~12:05…

dance church graphic
Graphic from the Dance Church facebook page.

I hadn’t looked at my phone and wasn’t wearing a watch. Eventually someone got up to change the clock to the “correct” time.

But the point had already been made for mewhen you are lost in a moment of flow, or the pure enjoyment of a moment, you lose all sense of time.

Also, the idea of “correct” time had me thinking of the fact that time is designated purely for arbitrary and convenience reasons. Daylight savings time changes are archaic back and forth switches that mess with our natural circadian rhythms.

It has been difficult for me to explain to people that when I am completely in “writing world” or perhaps doing something I enjoy, like dance, yoga, or sometimes even working at my new job, time can feel suspended. I have no sense of the “feeling” of time passing.

In contrast, when I am doing something I do not enjoy, or immersed in chores that aren’t my favorite, I am keenly aware of the time passing.

When I first started to meditate, I could sit for maybe 3 minutes before I would want to bolt. All of that silence got my mind stories to play far too loudly and it was hard for me to relax. I’ve since learned that anchoring with the breath, with sensations in the body or the sounds around me has helped reduce the “noise” of my mind.

People who study quantum physics, as well as many mystics, often say that time is an illusion. When the leap was made from linear, 3-dimensional thinking to quantum, infinitely dimensional thinking, suddenly the space opened up for new relationships with time.

What is your relationship with time? Do you think there is never enough? Do you feel an abundance of time when you can be fully present? 

May you, my dear readers, be curious and open to the experiences that captivate your time.

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

 

 

Yoga for over-thinkers Week 2 – Satya

Hello Friends,

I really enjoyed teaching week 1 of my class last Thursday. Five wonderful students joined me and were able to help me practice my cue-ing and my teaching. I’m so grateful for that.

This week we will focus on satya or truthfulness, the second of the yamas of yoga. I have in mind some physical practices to allow students to experience their true range of motion. In soma yoga, we are taught to start with the center. So this means we start with a stable pelvis and build the poses from the central axis or spine, and then radiate outward.

soma-yoga-movement-yoga-north.jpg
From my Yoga North SomaYoga Guidebook 

Too many students (myself included) have had the unfortunate experience of getting “pushed” by a yoga class to go too far. We go beyond our true range of motion (ROM), and may find ourselves injured. Our body instinctively protects itself. Our range of motion may even decrease over time because our body knows the truth (even if our mind wants to make the image of the yoga teacher standing in front).

Life is like this too. Our bodies sense and know truth often before our minds’ start to manufacture stories and explanations. When we get quiet, and listen internally, we can detect truths emerging from within.

However, truths are not always comfortable or convenient. Sometimes a deep yearning for growth can mean that we must leave certain people behind in our lives. As humans we are biologically wired to seeking belonging, as it was part of our early survival. At the same time, our brains are wired for growth and change as adaptation is necessary.

Thus there can be some tension here, in terms of the actions we must take in our lives. We want the comfort of belonging. We also know that by not risking some discomfort, we are in danger of stagnating.

There was a time when I identified strongly as being a runner. It served me well. I got to “run out” the craziness of my mind when I felt stressed by work or life. I met my husband (9 years ago) and a wonderful community of running friends, many who are still close. I still run and enjoy the occasional race, but do not feel compelled to build up my mileage each week.

Yoga beckoned much more strongly as I sought to integrate my body and mind, rather than simply escape the busyness of my mind. Running can still feel like a cleansing process for me. And at the same time, yoga helps me direct and focus that energy in a mindful way.

So the truth is not an either/or proposition, but in this case a both/and situation. Getting current with ourselves and knowing what we need in our lives is part of satya. Tuning in regularly to ask ourselves what we most need is a practice which serves us in the long run. At times our bodies crave motion, dance, action. Other times they crave rest, pausing and turning inward.

Being able to embrace satya in each moment leads to freedom.  If you feel internal resistance you might ask:

What truths am I avoiding? Is there anything I may not want to see about my situation?

And of course, applying ahimsasome self-compassion will go a long way here in allowing those truths to emerge.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com