Connecting women (revisited)

**This is a post was originally written exactly one year ago. I connected today with a woman from my alma mater who has been on a strikingly similar life path. Monday night I participated in a Moon Rising circle of sisterhood. All of it is even more important to me now. Sometimes following is as important as leading. And it is a dance: act, share, witness, support. **

There is powerful energy created when women with similar journeys and struggles connect and share stories with each other. It is a combination of relief and joy when we realize we are not alone.

connecting women
Photo credit link

I witnessed this in my learning circle on Monday night, and I was inspired to consider how fascinating it is that we connected, and all of our commonalities. I am also pondering how best to facilitate some practices that can help us stay grounded and centered along the journey.

Of course, y’all know I’m an evangelist for meditation and yoga, so we will explore some simple practices that I have found to be particularly helpful. I am also requesting that they commit to some small daily action, with the support of the group, to help build and maintain their ability to show up at their best, at home, work or in the community.

Since this is the first time I have offered this series, we will see where it goes. But for now, I am so honored and grateful that these amazing women have elected to join me in staying open to learning practices that will support their growth.

Onward,

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Postscript: my weekly “desk chair” yoga class at work is also a circle of women. Honored to see these gatherings come together. 

 

Santosha – Contentment

This Wednesday marks three years since I started meditating daily. I celebrate today by writing about my yoga book club topic for this month from the Niyamas – Santosha.

This concept, contentment, has been an enjoyable one for me, especially considering the ways in which the messages we receive via so many channels are meant to induce longing within us. They convince us that we lack something outside of ourselves to be happy.  The emotions we feel then drive us toward what brings us pleasure, and move us toward avoiding discomfort or boredom.

By staying centered and aware of what is going on within us, we can stay in a place of contentment rather than longing. We can be grateful for all the amazing gifts this life brings, and the plethora of blessings that have come our way. We can realize the freedom that most of us enjoy to choose the responses we want to bring to our circumstances.

Santosha with Willy
My cat Willy is very good at Santosha, something I am still learning.

I am starting to understand that life is about 50/50 – about half positive emotions and half negative. Without some of each, we would never know true joy, and we would never be able to empathize with the pain we all experience as humans.

When we come to accept this reality, and to feel content without constantly seeking, we experience what Swami Rama noted, that “contentment is falling in love with your life.” Nothing is missing in this moment. Life is complete as it is right now.

Are there places in your life where it is hard to be grateful? What if you could embrace all of the changing dynamics in your life, and dance with them? What if you could see them as temporary, as ever-changing, and just a part of the greater flow? 

***

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

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

 

Throwback Thursday – Walking the labyrinth

This is an edited piece posted originally August of 2018. Now that I’ve arrived at a new position at the University, I realize that the assessment phase feels like a bit of a labyrinth. 

***

After a morning appointment in St. Paul I decided to make a stop at the College of St. Catherine in order to walk the labyrinth.

labyrinth walk
Photo credit link – Meditate in a Labyrinth

Have you ever walked a labyrinth?  I considered taking a photo while there but I was without electronic devices on my walk, so I did not. However, I found a great article on how to meditate in a labyrinth, so I am cribbing a photo from that, and the link as well.

I used the walk as a meditative experience, starting from the outside and following the path toward the inside. Then I spent some time on the inside, taking a few deep breaths, and slowly walked back out again. I walked barefoot, and did not worry about the acorns that occasionally stabbed my feet. I did nudge away a few small branches that had fallen along the path to make it easier for the next person’s journey.

My intention was to reflect and consider the big changes happening in my life, the opportunities that are ahead, and any possible fears I was holding. It was a walking meditation, a slow and intentional trip back and forth through the “folds” of the labyrinth. It occurred to me how little I knew about meditation last time I had walked it a decade ago. Yet repeating it gave me sacred feeling both times.

labyrinth visual.JPG
Photo credit link – Fractal Enlightenment

As we traverse through life, our paths are rarely linear. Some of them meander and fold back on themselves. Some of them seem to go in spirals, and we wonder: Are we in the same place AGAIN? But really we are never in the same place twice. Even if an event seems similar, or we seem to repeat a mistake we have made before, we are not exactly the same people this time.

Our lived experiences give us a different context. This is why I love the work of Marion Woodman so much. She understands that many of us learn in a non-linear way. We forget things we have learned, or sometimes we must re-apply lesson we have learned, but in a different way, or in a different relationship.

Our learning and wisdom are never lost, even though it may seem like we did not absorb a lesson the first time. Maybe we are ready to learn in a new way. Maybe there was resistance the first time, and we were not ready to complete lesson. We receive multiple opportunities and invitations for our souls to expand and grow.

The journey inward allows us to check our soul’s intentions. The journey back outward allows us to live our ultimate purpose. This is the essence of a life well-lived.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com