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!

I have done goat yoga

Hi Friends,

It has been a challenging week, but I know that grief and sadness need to be processed, need to be felt in the body, in order to release them. I hope you are finding safe places to do that as well.

I know I was planning to start a series on clinical trials, and I intend to start that next week. But this week, I think it is more important to hear from people of color on their perspective, to highlight voices that are often unheard. I love the poignancy of this 3-minute Tyler Merritt YouTube video, so I encourage you to watch.

 

I am committed to help end racism and also to help us unwind the “traumas” that black bodies, white bodies and police bodies have suffered. This is why I practice yoga. This is why I dance. This is why I take time each day to breathe and pay attention to my emotions.

Sometimes the situation in our country can feel hopeless, like there are so many forces pushing against justice. And other times, like when one of my yoga students told me today that the book I recommended, My Grandmother’s Hands by Resma Menakem is actually sold out in all the places she tried to find it, I have great hope.

Here’s to learning more about each other, and teaching ourselves to love all, and extend justice to all.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

 

Yoga is not about fitness

As a new yoga teacher, I am surprised sometimes to learn how many people have misconceptions about yoga. Many are scared to try it – “it looks too hard!” they claim. Or “I’m not flexible enough!”

Because of the way yoga is marketed typically, I can understand where these misconceptions arise. Look at most covers of Yoga Journal or even ads in your Instagram feed that feature yoga and you will see taut bodies in shapes that may not look possible for you.

In truth, yoga is about “union” of mind and body (and some say spirit). It is a practice that allows us to realize our true nature. And perhaps most importantly, it is a practice to calm your nervous system. For me, that latter part is especially important. I find that, with all of the available “feeds” coming in, it is far too easy for me to become over-stimulated. A good yoga practice brings me back to my body, my breath and the present moment.

Yoga is preparation for meditation practice, for a process of getting still and looking inward. Generally meditation calls for an upright spine and focused attention. It is awfully hard to sit for very long if you have tight hips or a sore back. So yes, there is an aspect of physicality that is important. And, with an attitude of play and curiosity, yoga becomes an exploration of oneself and our inner being.

The more I teach, the deeper I go into the traditions and into the vast layers of this ancient practice. It is a science and also an art. I’m so grateful to have this tool for calming my nervous system, especially in times of great change and upheaval globally.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

P.S. If you want to try an accessible practice, our next online Sunday (re)Treat is SomaRestore for Gardening and features guest teacher Grant Foster. Register at this link by choosing “Sunday (re)Treat” from the drop-down menu. Hope to see you there! 

SomaRestore ticket for Instagram in JPG format