constancy, gratitude and everlasting love
A bereavement counselor once asked me what I did in the mornings when my thoughts often drifted to the negative. Good question. Some days I remember this question. Just asking it allows space for positive thoughts.
This morning I purposefully reflected on hopeful words rather than the list of to-dos.
The 23rd Psalm came to mind in wholeness, then in key words of comfort.
Laying down in green pastures.
Cup running over.
Goodness and mercy.
Led me to . . .
Let the day wash over you.
To my delight I found these words returning while driving and doing, keeping my spirit quiet throughout the day.
Then around five o’clock I started mowing my grass and forgot these words. I dropped into DO mode and the to-do list started over.
Then they returned. Sweetness and comfort.
So I close my day in gratitude for the beautiful washing . . . throughout the day and with each new morning. What words come to you in moments of pause where you create space?
Have you had times when . . . you’re going about your day and are aware of pausing and breathing? You held a moment of space for yourself, gave yourself presence to the moment. Have you had the moment of realizing . . . this person crossed by mind. Then you send up a simple prayer, a thought, an intent, holding space for that person.
A friend once told me that her purpose in life was prayer. She had sold her home and lived in a senior community. Her mobility was limited and she no longer was able to drive. Her physical space of living was mostly inside the walls of her one room apartment. She had faced these transitions and losses and many others in her lifetime, yet found the joy in her spiritual gift of presence. She held space for others and herself. Her words carried great meaning to me. They were a broadcast of her hope and joy.
Last year a friend said to me that my journey may be an example to others. I haven’t really stopped to think about that much until this week. I was called upon to talk about grief and loss and presence. I found myself talking about ways others had been present with me and taught me how to be present to myself and my grief. One big thing I learned was balancing holding space for myself and space for others. I was so good at witnessing journeys of others that I forgot to observe my own. With some spiritual companions accompanying me, my journey then began to unfold . . .
I became conscious of restoring and rejuvenating myself, my energy, my spirit . . . I opened to allowing others to hold space for me . . . I looked at who I was and eventually how I could genuinely be present to my journey to genuinely witness for others. I especially need this gift of presence as a hospice worker and a yoga teacher. Here’s a few things I’ve learned —
- That when I hold space for myself, then I can give others that gift.
- That allowing others to hold space for me is a powerful part of the healing process.
- Giving myself the gift of presence includes honoring ways that I am not ready to be present or fully present.
- Grief and loss are like the tide, each wave is it’s own experience, it’s own expression, often beginning before the perceived loss — anticipating the later loss.
- Observing and experiencing are much more powerful than judging.
- The timing may not be what was hoped or planned for, but may be more beautiful that way.
- Being gentle with myself and others is a beautiful thing.
Sacred Companions: The Gift of Spiritual Friendship & Direction by David G. Benner
How to hold space for yourself first
What does it mean to “hold space” for people, plus eight tips on how to do it well
Dealing with a loved ones serious illness
The Grief Toolbox
3 class series: March 12, April 9 & May 14, 2016
Cost: $54 early registration by 3/5/2016; $59 after March 5, 2016; $21 drop-in.
Hosted a Yoga on the Square
Bring your mind to stillness for reflective writing. This playful class will cultivate melting deeply with gentle yoga postures of the mind, body and spirit blended with time and prompts for reflective writing.
Expand your inquiry. Each month will focus on a rich theme of self exploration.
Bring paper and pens, pencils or markers that inspire you. No prior experience needed for this low-key free writing, doodling or simply mindful reflection.
Class led by Charity Leonette, 500 RYT and BA in English with Creative Writing focus. She blends writing, prayer, and stillness into her practice and believes that yoga is for everyone. Her special interest in yoga service is supporting the body for rejuvenation. She works as a volunteer coordinator at a local hospice and teaches Gentle Yoga on Friday evenings from 5-6:15pm at YOTS.
One of my yoga teachers Katrina Woodworth shared this great quote in her recent Movement, Breath & Stillness Yoga newsletter: “Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass, under trees on a summer day, listening to the murmur of water, or watch the clouds float by, is by no means, a waste of time.” — John Lubbock
How will you be present in this moment and the moments of summer? This month in my weekly classes we are focusing on the breath. It has the amazing ability to bring us to the present moment, to cultivate beautiful stillness and observation there.
Steady and even, our breath can guide us to a centered place. Where do you find center?
This morning three birds sang in different places on my roof top. I love that I thought to take note. Life gets busy and we don’t always. The idea of being present has come up several times over the past week — with a friend over dinner who talked about focusing on the grace and blessings rather than failures, with a friend who takes time to be present through out the work day through intentional prayer, with another friend who especially encourages with the gift of presence!
Yoga has stretched my “present” skills. Breathing and sinking and moving, ebbing through the stillness of mind, body and spirit. When we are still we can then listen to the still, small Voice. Happy listening.
Little things in life.
A few years ago a friend gave me a copy of Journal Keeper by Margaret D. Smith. It’s quite a lovely, simple book with thoughts on journaling that make it accessible to all of us. My friend also gave me a journal with a painting of a girl dancing in a field of flowers. She’s reaching for the sky with a flower laced dress. I love it!
Around the same time I attended a yoga and writing workshop which inspired me to leave my journal at the end of my mat. What happened next? I started to write after my yoga practice. In fact, a collection of poetry poured out. Sinking into your yoga practice can bring out you — it may be the creative you, the loving you, the wisdom in you.
So today as I remember this friend, I give thanks of her wisdom especially shown in this creative gift with stickers placed in love next to her favorite quotes and verses. I ask you: What inspires you? Do you have a favorite quote or verse to share with a friend? What personal touches can you add to a gift — a gift to yourself or to someone you love?
I have learned . . . that the head does not hear anything until the heart has listened, and what the heart knows today the head will understand tomorrow. — James Stephens, writer, as quoted in Journal Keeper
PS The journal is by Brush Dance – “The Brush Dance is a Yurok Indian healing ritual where being true to yourself means giving your best to help a person in need. Being true to yourself is the one and only Yurok Indian law.” Perfect!
Often we get caught in our regular patterns of living, breathing and moving. We are used to being there and it feels easy to stay there. Yoga helps us find new ways of being and reconnect with patterns we’ve lost track of. We can find integration internally that changes our external. We may feel a little lighter and a little more creative. We may be inspired and may pass along some inspiration to others.
In a recent post from Psychology Today Magazine on acceptance and creativity Magdalena Bak-Maier invites us to find and dance in the “rhythm of life”. She concluded with these powerful words:
“My invitation to you is to practice acceptance and celebrate the rhythm within your life. Examine its different scales from the night and day—sunrise to sunset— as well as the smaller details of the people present in your life. Examine the patterns of your thoughts. Get and give energy to what is— by accepting the present, you will find richness and inspiration to create what awaits within you to be born.” -Magdalena Bak-Maier, PhD
So today let’s move about with attention and intention breathing in all that life has to offer, moment by moment. As the fellow in the coffee shop said today — I’m living the dream. He turned to me and ask — How about you?
I’m trying, I said. I’m trying, and feeling good about it!
Through yoga, we can cultivate attention to the breath that flows through each of us. As we listen to our breath, we slow down in our thoughts and may even find that we slow down in life.
Over the past several months as my yoga training wrapped up and after, I’ve found myself walking more slowly, taking more photos and pausing to reflect. I’ve been more present to these moments of observation and have found my attention in general growing.
How can you slow down today and tomorrow? Start by asking yourself: What do I really enjoy in life? Then take some special moments to observe, reflect and savior what you really enjoy.
Having trouble slowing down? Begin with breathing. A few deep breathes can make all the difference. Coordinate some of your every day movements to breath. You may discover a new slowness and enjoyment in the usual.