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Posts Tagged ‘yoga’

I’ve found inspiration in the NY Times… again.  But, inspiration is all around us, everywhere, in everything, it’s just a matter of committing to using it.  If we are beings of energy, all of us, living in a universe of seen and unseen energy, then we are constantly being touched by grace, energy.  The tricky part is seeing it and using it with purpose.

Philip Roth gives his last interview (so he says) to Charles McGrath of the Times, about his retiring from fiction. After 31 books, who can blame him?  31 books?! That is amazing, but obviously, not without effort or its own frustration: 

“I know I’m not going to write as well as I used to. I no longer have the stamina to endure the frustration. Writing is frustration — it’s daily frustration, not to mention humiliation. It’s just like baseball: you fail two-thirds of the time.”

It’s like a gift of sorts to read that someone who has written 31 books (not counting all those thrown away pages) has struggled so much to produce them, that doing something well, something that you love is HARD work.  What a gift to hear that it sucks [my words] and yet, he did it anyway.  On my quest to find what I loved to do, I always thought, that once I figured it out, the rest would be easy.  Ha!  Total bullshit. Totally a myth.  The irony is that once you finally decide what you’re going to do with you life, then the real work begins.  Hard work. Effort.  Commitment.  Because inspiration is one thing, but then making something real and lasting out of it, is a whole other thing.  And it sucks, but it also is uplifting and joyful and inspiring in itself, its own gift.  

“You know, I needed my life as a springboard for my fiction. I have to have something solid under my feet when I write.”  Roth says about his process.  Which makes me think of life and work, our best comes from a place of grounding, knowing who we are and using that to move forward.  Like yoga, if we aren’t grounding down in our poses, we lose balance or hurt ourselves- the weight needs to be even, balanced, moving in two directions at once.  Up and down; forward and back; in and out; inspired and committed- both at the same time.

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Flying to get unstuck

Sometimes, it feels like the best we can do is just get by.  As if just making it through the day is all we can do.   Then it becomes a trap, with the mind on a loop tape playing out all the faults, mistakes, and tragedies of our lives at once.  The trick is not getting attached to what we think we should be doing, or who we think we should be at this point in our lives, or how we got there but (the real kicker), why we are such a mess in the first place.

So, how does one get out of this place of staleness; hitting stop on the tape loop in our head? How do we get unstuck?

Well, for starters, it helps to recognize that you’re doing the best you can. Honestly though, sometimes this works and sometimes, it sounds like canned new age advice.  That’s the thing though, what works one time, doesn’t the next.  But, loving kindness, accepting oneself, warts and all, is everyday wisdom that when put into action can change everything – truly.  I’ve had moments of loving kindness, when for whatever reason in that moment, I was able to accept myself, without judgment, pity, anger or resentment for whoever I was in the ‘now’ of that moment. And it was liberating, freeing… opening.

Sometimes, the change comes not from a mental place, but a physical one.  Last week in yoga class, the teacher had us doing shoulder work throughout the class and in one pose near the end, we leaned forward in parsvottanasana or side stretch. (Visual link without arms, here.)  With a flat back, we strapped our upper arms behind our backs, palms facing.  Kind of like Superman, but hands behind the back instead of the side.  I leaned over half way, bringing awareness to my pose – not locking the knees, bringing my hips together, using my core for strength and strapped my arms.  I went to a ninety degree pose and all of sudden, my shoulders went “up” my back!  Technically, I think they lifted off my shoulders but I felt liberated, open, as if my whole chest was in alignment allowing me to take my first, full deep breath.  It was a huge opening, as if I could breathe – my neck was free, and all of my sudden, my spine felt an extra three feet long.  I was tall and long and lean and open, really open.  For someone with tight shoulders and a lot of time spent hunched over a desk,  it was such an amazing feeling, I felt as if I could lift off and fly.

Those moments in yoga, when a subtle adjustment in a pose or the use of a prop to get into a new place or a teacher’s instruction that finally clicks in the mind, is like life, when everything comes together for a moment and it all makes sense.  Loving kindness to the body, mental acceptance of where the body is at, a willingness to see beyond the physical limitations, to try something new without judgment, and no matter what happens, to be kind to ourselves even when we fall.  Because falling is alright, falling is just another way of getting unstuck, again.

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