Breath

I can still remember my first good yoga class. My breath was quite literally taken away, and when it returned, it was flowing freely and my body was responding in a way that I cannot describe with words.

Of course my muscles were tight and my body was tense and my breath was sporadic and labored when I first began, because I was not conditioned for such movement. Even though I was challenged beyond what I had imagined walking into that class, I knew that this was something I would come back time and again.

I took sporadic classes while in college, mostly when I had money and could afford to go, and then back to running or weights when I couldn’t. After college, when I first began doing personal training was when I re-explored the world of yoga. I found a small studio close by to where I was working and I signed up for my first month of unlimited classes, and I committed to three ninety minute classes each week, to really give my body a chance to get used to the movement and flexibility it required. It was a challenge but it was so worth it.

I fell in love. I would crave going to classes, and I would think about breathing and length of breath and holding my breath and three part breath, and belly breathing, and nostril breathing… I came to crave this movement and breath, deep in my bones. And through continued practice I came to experience a sense of peace and calm that I don’t believe I had ever experienced before. Somehow being guided to an inner stillness, in the midst of slow and steady movement combined with deep breathing, brought me to life.

I signed up for my first yoga teacher training, being taught my current yoga instructor. I knew during that first weekend training that I would take many more of these, and I knew in an instant that I wanted to share what I had personally discovered in my body, with everyone I came in contact with.

Through the program I was enrolled in, we were required to do community services hours of teaching for our level 1 completion, and I signed up to do this at the studio I took classes at. I was so nervous, and I was insecure and self-conscious, and I stumbled all over my words during my first class. Thankfully those who attended were very patient and came back for the next one. Through those first few months of teaching and continuing to attend classes, I felt that I was right where I was supposed to be, perhaps for the first time in my life, I was really enjoying what I was doing. I was training at a gym most days of the week, journeying alongside others who were seeking health and strength in their lives, and I was guiding others through yoga practice one day a week, and I was actually taking care of myself in between, which was such a beautiful experience and balance,  I had been seeking for years.

Over the years, yoga has continued to be a source of strength and stillness for me, reminding me of the importance of being present for my own body, and learning to moderate my own breath, and acknowledge the communication my body was trying to have with my mind. As I have become more personally aware of my body and my thoughts/feelings, I have been able to be far more present for others. This has in turn guided my practice as a therapist, as I continually seek to create healthy connections that I believe have the power to heal much of the pain that life gifts us with.

Today I am reminded of a quote by Rush Fishel, that I have come back to time and time again… “I will take time to be alone today. I will take time to be quiet. In the silence, I will listen.. and I will hear my answers”.

May you create a moment in your world today, to pause, to breathe and to connect with a higher purpose for what you’re all about.Image

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Unplugged

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...

I had the very humbling experience of being without my iphone 5 for just over 24 hours this past week. I stepped out of the shower to find that my precious toddler had ever so cleverly placed my phone in the toilet bowl. I imagined that she stood there and watched it sink to the bottom, tiny bubbles rising to the surface, and then walked away as if there was nothing more to see here. By the time I found it, she had long moved onto to more interesting endeavors. I stood there for what felt like a very long time, felt my pulse began to quicken, and then slow once again, as a state of defeat washed over me. I calmly reached into the bowl and retrieved the now saturated and dripping phone. I walked out to my husband and told him in a very apathetic tone of voice “found this in the toilet, probably should try to put it in rice” to which he immediately came over and did, no further words exchanged.

I finished getting ready for my day, all the while contemplating just how different life would be without an iphone, all the while completely in denial that this was my reality. I’m sure I don’t need to do a lot of elaborating  as most of us are in the same situation, in that we have come to rely very heavily on our phones, not only as means of communication, but also for our entire calendar, our to do’s, notes, addresses, phone numbers, pictures, music, podcasts, videos, online shopping, email, even a calculator and of course a Starbucks app tracking points toward free drinks! What do we even have without this phone?

After the first hour or two of constantly looking for my phone or habitually seeking to check my email or text messages, I actually found myself settle into a kind of freedom that I did not even realize I missed.  As the minutes passed on and I came into more of an acceptance  of not having everything readily accessible to my fingertips, I quite literally found myself relaxing my shoulders a little, paying less attention to the time and my agenda and more able to just role with the flow a little, feeling less confined. My husband even offered to lend me his phone for an afternoon outing, and I declined, honestly thinking to myself “it might be really nice to be unplugged, unreachable, unfindable, even if just for a couple hours”.

How is it that I have allowed such a small device to have such a big presence in my life? I gained some perspective on this and realized that I have allowed this electronic piece of equipment to dictate how I spend so much of my time, whenever idle, just using it as a pass time filler; facebook, pinterest, amazon prime, stocks, NPR news… I even have apps that track when my daughter sleeps and eats and fills her diaper. Modern day conveniences? Yes, absolutely. But perhaps time consuming, creativity zapping, low brain usage, ADD fostering distractions from real life moments, that simply pass by, without our even noticing.

Seriously, tic through your day and ask yourself, “what did I use my phone for today”?, and honestly answer perhaps with a bulleted list of what all you did… and then follow up that question with this one “how much time did I spend on my phone today”? The truth can be unsettling.

For some of you, maybe your phone isn’t your vice, maybe you use it sparingly and you don’t simply use it as a go to whenever there is a free moment, but I am wagering that most of us would not say that we are balanced in our electronic usage (maybe it’s not your phone, but it’s your ipad or your macbook). Try something for a day or two; track your usage of your electronics, be that phone, computer, ipad, tv etc., just track the amount of time, even if it’s in 30 second-5 minute increments, track it, just to take an honest look at how you’re spending your time, your minutes, your hours, your days, you life…

One of the complaints that I hear more than any other is that “I just don’t have the time”, and for some of us this might be true, we don’t have time for certain things because we have prioritized what we want to have time for and we have filled up our allotted hours and have no more to fill. However for many, there is little to no prioritization and much wasted or unintentionally filled time, and what is the outcome of this?

Well, we appear to be creating, busy, tired, fragmented people who feel that they never have time for what they really want in life and are missing out, and somehow despite all the “connections” that these devices provide for us, feeling disconnected and alone.

I don’t mean to say that we should all throw away our smart phones, to the contrary, I believe that they can be very effective tools in helping us be more time efficient and productive, in order to have time for those things that matter deeply to us, like exercise, and time for our families.

I am challenging myself to re-prioritize my moments, for there are many of them and yet not enough of them each and every day.

May we all find more moments filled with meaning and less idle wasted.

P.S for those of you who were curious, my phone did not come back to life, even after 24 hours in rice, and a lot of blow drying…. I in turn got to purchase yet another iphone. Long live Apple.