Posted by: Bruce Black | October 1, 2014

A Wandering Mind

No matter how many times I set an intention to stay present to what’s happening on my mat, I’ll notice before long that my mind wanders.

It’s as if my mind and body become disconnected. As I twist into Triangle or stretch in Downward Dog, my body goes one way, my mind another.

When I reach for my toes in Forward Bend, my thoughts turn to options for dinner (black bean burgers or curried eggplant?). When I hold an extra-long Plank, I’ll find myself thinking about calling the handyman to fix the tile in our shower. While resting in Child’s Pose, I realize that I’m thinking not of the pose but of an unfinished manuscript on my desk.

Why this happens—why my mind wanders— is a mystery to me.

I can sit on my mat and notice my breath flowing into my lungs and out again. I can stand tall and reach for the sky in Mountain Pose. I can lift my leg and plant my foot on the opposite thigh and balance in Tree Pose. And for a moment or two my thoughts are focused on what my body is doing. But then, before I know what’s happened, my thoughts scatter like squirrels scurrying off in different directions.

It helps sometimes if I count my breath—one, two, three, four…. in, out, in, out— to root myself in the present. I try to slow down my thoughts and notice how my chest rises and falls with each breath. Counting each breath seems to keep my mind from wandering… until it starts to wander again … like a puppy wanting to explore the world.

Why is it so hard to stay in the present?

What I’ve come to understand is that pulling my thoughts back to the mat (which can feel like herding cats) requires concentration and determination, and yet no amount of concentration can keep my thoughts firmly in the moment for long.

It’s as if the moment is like a frozen pond, and my thoughts can’t help slipping and sliding across it, and there’s no railing for me to hold on to in order to keep my balance.

This becomes the practice: watching my thoughts slip and slide in different directions (using the asana poses as tools to help me notice thoughts as they arise), and letting them go, and remembering to breathe.

Each pose reminds me to breathe, to come back to the here and now.

Each breath brings my thoughts back to center, back to this moment.

If I can breathe with mindfulness, breathe into the moment, I am able to see with greater clarity how my body is experiencing the moment—this moment, then this moment, and then this and the next.

The longer that I can stay focused in this moment, the deeper I find that I can experience the moment and how it feels to sit in Easy Pose or lie on my back in Savasana, or how it feels to twist in Side Angle Pose or bend forward over my knee in High Lunge.

The thing about a wandering mind is that it keeps pulling me away from this moment into the world of my imagination, into a world of fantasy, into a world that doesn’t really exist … except in my mind.

It might pull me into a world of fears or doubts, hopes or dreams. It might pull me into a world filled with anxiety about a future that has not yet arrived, or regrets about a past that cannot be changed.

But if I can bring my thoughts back to the present by focusing on my breath or on how my thigh feels in Pigeon Pose, I can stave off my mind’s habit of pulling away from the moment and find myself rooted in the present.

And then I can see the world, not as I might want it to be or as I might dread it becoming, but as it is.

Practice journal: In what way does yoga help you stay rooted in the present and experience the full depth of each moment as it unfolds? Write: 10 min.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Bruce Black | September 1, 2014

Pickled Peppers

What do pickled peppers have to do with yoga?

Nothing… and everything.

One of my teachers, Lynn Burgess, a student of Rodney Yee’s and the owner of Yoga From The Heart in Sarasota, FL, often begins her classes by reading aloud a short passage from one of her favorite books.

Lynn will sit at the front of the class, cross-legged in Easy Pose, or facing us in Virasana, with the book open in her lap, and in a soft, gentle voice she’ll read aloud an excerpt of poetry or prose.

On this particular morning, she opens The Offering of Leaves by Ruth Lauer-Manenti and begins to read a story that Ruth tells about making a trip to a local farmer’s market.

There Ruth sees an elderly man buying two dozen or more peppers.

Curious, she goes over to ask him why he is buying so many peppers.

He tells her that he likes to pickle them.

When his wife was alive, he says, they used to pickle everything—peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc—but now he only pickles peppers.

I sit listening to this story and feel impatient. I want to begin moving. I want class to start.

But I also feel curious, intrigued by the story, and can’t help wondering about it.

Why is my teacher starting our class with this passage? What does a story about pickled peppers have to do with yoga?

So, I sit with my impatience and listen and soon begin to understand.

Pickling is something that the man used to do with his wife before she died. It was their practice. And now, although his wife is gone, he continues the practice of pickling without her.

I realize just how much he is devoted to the practice, and I see why. It is because his act of devotion imbues his life with meaning. It can bring back his wife’s memory, too, if only for a short time, and it can remind him of the pleasure they took in each other’s company.

And so I listen as Lynn continues reading about Ruth, who drives home from the farm stand and tells her companion about the man and the peppers, and then goes on to tell him how it makes her sad to think of the old man living alone, pickling peppers, without his wife.

But she also tells her companion how meeting the man with the peppers has given her a deeper understanding of the meaning of devotion, and made her more aware of how to live a life fully devoted to what’s important.

As Lynn reads us this story, her voice contains the same quality of kindness and care that she uses throughout class as she walks between our mats, taking the time to adjust our poses, to help us learn how to become devoted to our practice.

I stretch and twist and bend, listening closely to her voice—not so much to the words that she says but to the quality of tone and pitch and breath—and it sounds almost as if she has become the narrator of the story, as if her life was changed, too, by the encounter with the man and the peppers.

How I love when my yoga teacher shares a story that touches her heart.

And I love how Lynn’s questions—“how do I become more devoted to my practice, more sensitive, more open to life?”—bring a different quality to my practice.

It was a class that started with a story about pickled peppers.

But it was really a story about yoga and learning how to devote ourselves to what’s important in our lives.

Practice Journal: Ask yourself the questions that my teacher posed in class that morning. How do you become more devoted to your practice? How can you become more sensitive to the needs of others or to your own needs? How can you open more fully to life? And how does yoga help you? Try to answer one or all of these questions in your journal. When you’re ready, open your journal and begin. Write: 10 min.

To find out more about The Offering of Leaves by Ruth Lauer-Manenti, visit:

http://thechalkboardmag.com/an-offering-of-leaves-ruth-lauer-manenti

https://lanternbooks.presswarehouse.com/books/BookDetail.aspx?productID=217052

http://www.amazon.com/An-Offering-Leaves-Ruth-Lauer-Manenti/dp/1590561503

Posted by: Bruce Black | August 1, 2014

Ebb and Flow

It was pouring only a few minutes ago as I was gathering my mat and journal and pen to practice outside, The sky had turned almost black with thick charcoal clouds and sheets of rain were coming down hard.

But now I’m sitting outside listening to the drip-drip-drip of rainwater in the gutters and watching pools of sunlight spread across the deck and noticing how patches of blue sky are opening above the pine trees.

In Florida, especially in the summer, this ebb and flow in nature— between sun and clouds, blue sky and gray streaks of rain — reminds me of the ebb and flow of energy that is part of our practice and our lives.

There’s an ebb and flow between the days when we feel compelled to step on our mat and the days when we’d prefer to spend the day in bed eating chocolate and reading our favorite novel.

And there’s an ebb and flow of energy between our poses, too, as we move from one pose to another. Indeed, each pose has its own ebb and flow of energy, a way of challenging us to push harder through the pose or to relax into it.

In Forward Bend, for example, we can feel the energy surge in our hamstrings and calves as we bend over, and we can feel the energy relax in our upper body, from our hips to our head.

As we bend forward and stretch to touch our toes, we can feel a wave of energy spiraling up the front and back of our legs. This pulsation of energy is what helps us rise, arms extended upward, into Mountain Pose. And we can feel the energy subside as we bend forward again and move into Downward Dog.

In Downward Dog, we push into the mat with our palms and fingers, and we can feel the energy of the pose work its way up our wrists and elbows to our shoulders and head and along our spine to our hips.

At the same time, as we press our toes into the mat, we can feel the energy flowing down our legs, from our hips through our calves and ankles to the soles of our feet, ebbing only to return as we rise up to Mountain Pose once more.

This ebb and flow of energy is not just part of our yoga practice but an integral part of our lives, of being human. Life itself is made up of this ebb and flow of energy.

There’s the ebb and flow between illness and health, sleep and wakefulness, hatred and love.

And there’s the ebb and flow between war and peace, fatigue and energy, weakness and strength, friendship and love, damp and dry, hot and cold, blue sky and gray clouds, sun and moon, stars and sky.

It’s this ebb and flow of energy that sustains us in each of our poses and throughout the days of our life.

Practice Journal: How do our poses help us connect with this flow of energy so that, with practice, we can become aware of its ebb and flow and feel more fully alive in each moment? Write: 10 min.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Bruce Black | July 1, 2014

The Sharp Twinge of Pain

The sharp twinge of pain that I feel suddenly in my left hip is the red flag, the warning sign.

I am taking a class with a teacher who I’ve never studied with before, and she invites us to start the class with seated hip openers so that we can prepare for Flying Crow.

For almost 30 minutes, I sit on my mat and follow her instructions as she leads us from intense seated twists to seated forward bends and back to seated twists.

And then, all at once, I feel a sharp twinge of pain, an intense burning sensation, in my left hip.

It feels as if someone has lit a large match and is holding the flame directly against my left hip bone. The bone feels like it’s on fire.

I keep the pain private, embarrassed that my body doesn’t possess the same flexibility as the bodies of the other students bending and twisting on their mats next to mine.

The teacher has no way of knowing that I feel any pain as I sit motionless on my mat, afraid to move, slightly stunned, waiting for the pain to pass.

Meanwhile, the teacher continues giving instructions to the class and encourages each of us to bend further and twist deeper.

But I remain still and notice that the pain in my hip is not like the mild discomfort that I might have been able to push through without hurting myself.

No, the pain feels like  a sharp needle digging into my hip, and, as soon as I feel it, I back off, and, luckily, the moment that I back off the pain abates.

From then on each pose that the teacher leads us through, with the intention of helping us open our hips, brings me back to a point of pain. After a while, the pain becomes so uncomfortable—so painful—that I can no longer sit on my mat and do any more bending or twisting.

So, while the class continues following the teacher’s instructions, I get to my knees and bow forward into Child’s Pose, breathing a sigh of relief when the pain goes away as soon as I come out of the intense forward bend.

When I do rejoin the class and resume the seated poses, the pain returns and is too intense to continue. I have to stand up and step off my mat, something I’ve never had to do in class before. I walk slowly to one side of the room and balance against the wall and breathe deeply and wait until the pain melts away.

Only after resting a few minutes do I return to my mat. By then the pain has made me mindful of what I can do and what I can’t do. When the teacher invites us to do a side plank and lift our hips high, I choose to do a modified version with my knee on the mat.

By the time we reach the pinnacle pose—the Flying Crow—I am able to put my right ankle over my left knee in Utkatasana (Chair Pose) and squat down without pain. But I don’t try to go all the way to the floor, just enough of a squat to feel a gentle stretch.

And that’s ok. My goal is no longer trying to do the pinnacle pose but rather to explore the steps leading up to the pinnacle pose at my own pace without feeling any pain, without noticing any red flag.

Pain, it turns out, is a useful tool. It reminds me that no matter what the rest of the class is doing, no matter what the teacher is saying, I don’t have to go as far or push myself farther than I am comfortable going or pushing.

Practice Journal: Have you ever felt pain during your yoga practice? How do you respond to it? Are you someone who believes that you don’t gain anything without pain? Or do you interpret pain as a signal to slow down and stop pushing? Write: 10 minutes

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Bruce Black | June 1, 2014

The Way That We Breathe

Something magical happens when I start my yoga practice. I can feel a change in the way that I breathe.

As I inhale, I’ll raise my arms slowly—“as if lifting them through the thickest oil or the sweetest honey,” says my teacher, Jaye—and then I’ll lower them at the same pace and repeat the movement.

In moments I’ll notice how my shoulders loosen, how the muscles around my lower ribs let go, and how my upper chest relaxes and my breathing slows.

With each breath I’ll feel a sense of peace fill my body.

As long as I follow my breath, as long as I move with care through the poses of our class or in my home practice, I can feel this sense of peace filling each muscle, each pore of skin.

But the moment that I become distracted and forget my breath, I’ll lose track of the connection between movement and breath, and I’ll feel a sense of isolation and disconnection, even dislocation. In the blink of an eye the peaceful quality of my practice will disappear.

Only when I am able to match my movements so that my breath mirrors each forward bend, each lunge, each stretch and twist do I notice peace fill me again.

With each breath I’ll notice how this sense of peace expands beyond each pose into the space between each pose, into the pause between breathing in and breathing out, inhaling and exhaling.

With each coordinated dance of movement and breath, I notice how this sense of peace keeps expanding and helps me expand so I can move with more ease and more comfort.

And I’ll notice, too, how this expansive sense of peace connects me with the other people practicing in the room, as well as with all those outside our classroom—practicing, moving, breathing, being.

Our breath is like an invisible bridge. It leads us from one moment to the next, and it helps us find our way through the most challenging poses, poses that can feel like we’re balancing on a high wire or crossing a narrow bridge from a place that no longer exists to a place that does not yet exist.

If we can follow our breath in each pose, we can learn to let go of the previous pose while simultaneously summoning the courage to cross that narrow bridge and enter a new pose.

And for a miraculous moment, we can feel suspended in thin air, held there by our breath and by our faith in the next pose, the next breath.

Practice Journal: Describe how your breathing changes when you step onto your mat. Does noticing your breath change the way you enter and leave a pose? Do you find it hard or easy to coordinate your movements with your breath? What happens when you move in rhythm to your breath? Do you think your breath guides your movements, or do your movements guide your breath? Write: 15 minutes.

Posted by: Bruce Black | May 1, 2014

The Space To Be

Amidst the tumult and rush of our lives, each of us searches for a space to be.

It doesn’t matter if we are single or married, if we’ve just found romance or just lost it, if we prefer being alone or if we’re addicted to groups, each of us needs a space to be ourselves.

In this space we can find freedom from expectations, whether our own expectations or those that other people might place on our shoulders.

In this space we can rest for a moment, undistracted by fear or worry or anxiety.

We can take a breath and listen to our heart beating its unique rhythm, and we can remember who we truly are.

When I step onto my mat or open my journal before beginning my practice, I find this space and breathe a sigh of relief.

It’s still here, I tell myself, inhaling the sense of freedom and gratitude that I feel when I find myself in this space again.

Sometimes, as I rush around town on errands or find myself impatiently stuck in traffic or waiting on line at the grocery store or in an unexpected argument with a friend or colleague, I forget this space exists, or I fear that I’ve lost it and will never be able to find it again.

But then I’ll pick up my pen and open my journal and begin writing, and the act of writing will bring me back to my breath.

Or I’ll unfurl my mat and move into my asana practice, and the stretches and twists will bring me back to the pulse of my heart.

Each practice—writing, yoga—reveals the place where I need to be.

A page in my journal can offer a doorway into this space, just as an asana pose can show me a pathway into it.

Downward Dog, Lunge, Plank, Tree Pose, Savasanna—these aren’t just poses.

They are gateways into an interior space, a space that I can always find within myself if I’m mindful and pay attention and notice the space opening up to welcome me whenever I’m ready to step into it.

This is the beauty of yoga, as well as its mystery.

It offers us the space—this magical, mysterious, miraculous space—to be.

Practice Journal: How does your yoga practice help you find the space where you can be yourself, unfettered by the expectations of others or by the voices that attempt to diminish your faith in yourself? How does keeping a journal help you find this space and sense the power, confidence, and faith that is at the core of your existence? How does your practice of writing and yoga help you hear your true voice? Write: 10 minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted by: Bruce Black | April 1, 2014

My Yoga Mat

The mat that I carry to my yoga class each week is falling apart.

It was my wife’s mat originally. She bought it when she started taking classes, and then found a thicker, sturdier mat when she became serious about yoga.

Using her old mat, I feel close to her when I practice, even if she’s not beside me.

I take it to class even though it’s a pale purple, the color of lilacs, because it’s lighter and smaller than the mat that I use for my home practice.

I know that I could trade it in and get a new mat, a mat of a different color, but I hold onto it, as if the mat itself holds much of what I’ve learned from my practice over the past decade–insights gained from various poses; banished fears and anxieties; restored hopes and faith.

The mat is almost ten years old, with pockmarks and divots up and down its length, and each time I draw my foot back going from Lunge to Plank, I notice how its rubber surface wears away a little more, and yet the sight of it beneath my feet gives me a sense of peace and security.

Its erosion reminds me of the passage of time, the spilling of sand in an hourglass, the moments that I’ve spent on it learning something new, moments that I treasure even as they melt into the past, replaced by new moments.

The mat is so pliable that the rubber holds the imprint of each toe, as well as the heel of each foot, for a few seconds after I move out of one pose into another. It’s almost like magic the way I move my foot yet can see its imprint remain, evidence that I am here, on the mat, in this body.

Practicing on this mat helps me remember all the years that I’ve spent moving into different poses, and the memories fortify me (like a multivitamin) during class as we practice the poses again.

I know the mat won’t last forever. Every day the lilac color seems to fade, and more and more of its surface erodes away.

If I’ve learned anything while practicing on my mat, it’s that nothing lasts forever.

But I’ve also learned to treasure what we are given in this life for as long as we have it.

So, I’ll keep carrying the mat to class for as long as I can.

I want to feel it beneath my feet and breathe in the scent of its mysteries for as long as possible.

The mat that I carry to class helps me stay rooted in the present, even as it offers me the chance to see where I’ve been and where I might be going.

Practice Journal: Is your mat a prop that you forget about once you begin your practice or does it help you notice where you are and what you’re thinking as you move from pose to pose? Take a few minutes to notice the mat that you carry to class or unfurl at home. Describe the color, the thickness, the way your toes feel when you step on it. Then contrast that feeling with the way it feels to walk across a hardwood floor or along a forest path strewn with pine needles or on a sandy beach. Write: 10 min.

Posted by: Bruce Black | March 1, 2014

Sitting With Sadness

“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.” – Carl Jung

“Sadness is but a wall between two gardens.” – Khalil Gibran

Even my practice of yoga, as wonderful as it is, isn’t always enough to send the sadness that I feel at times scurrying away.

But the gentle twists and forward bends, the breath work and mindful attention to the way my body feels in each pose, can help me sit with sadness.

This sadness has a way of worming its way into my heart on some days. It’s not just fatigue, the kind of tiredness that comes after a hard day of work or the morning after a restless night, nor is it the byproduct of the major surgery that I underwent almost a year ago (though at times I think it is related).

I’m talking about a feeling of sadness that’s deeper and darker than fatigue, a feeling that reminds me of life’s fragility, finitude, and imperfection. The missed opportunities. The mistakes. The resistance to change. The reluctance to opening up. The days of stubbornness and frustration and pain.

This kind of sadness brings with it a deep sense of powerlessness and loneliness, an excruciating awareness of my mortality and how much of life is out of my control. It makes me feel as if life itself is like a steamroller, preparing the inevitable crushing experience that has the power to steal away the very breath of life.

It’s a sadness that is pervasive. It is everywhere—in the kitchen, the office, the backyard, the yoga studio—and it can siphon all the air and joy out of a room in the blink of an eye.

It’s numbing, paralyzing, perplexing.

In the midst of such sadness, though, I can step onto my mat and begin my home practice, and the sound of my breath or the movement of my body can help dissipate the feeling of sadness and remind me of my connection to something larger than myself, a river of energy flowing not just through me but through everyone and through all of life.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of waiting patiently for the sadness to leave on its own. Like the fog. Like storm clouds that gather overhead obscuring the sun and then float away to reveal a bright blue sky.

My practice can help me sit with sadness rather than run from it, and, in sitting with it–actually exploring it in my poses–I may be able to find a way to accept what is with gratitude and bid sadness goodbye.

On my mat, if I lean forward in Child’s Pose or recline in Bound Angle, I may gain the ability to see through the fog to a distant memory, a person who I love deeply or someone who is no longer alive but whose life once touched mine and whose spirit can still inspire a sense of worth (and worthiness) that I seem to have forgotten.

If I listen closely to the sound of my breath and feel the beat of my heart, the pulse like the rhythm of the sea, I may notice how the fog has tiny fissures in it, cracks through which I can catch a glimpse of a bright blue sky.

Sometimes it’s just a matter of closing my eyes while lying in Savassana and finding the courage to let go of sadness, and then rising refreshed, the sadness only a memory.

There are different levels of sadness, of course, some deeper and darker levels than others (and in some extreme cases life-threatening). Sometimes you can’t sit with sadness alone. You need help.

The thing that yoga has taught me is this: I may not be able to avoid sadness, but if I sit with it in my practice, I can remind myself that sadness is simply another part of life, impermanent, like darkness or clouds or fog, another way to experience the full variety and depth of life’s always changing offerings.

If I learn to sit with sadness, rather than seek ways to avoid it, I may find a path that will lift me out of sadness back to gratitude and joy.

Practice Journal: How do you deal with feelings of sadness on and off your mat? Do you try to run from these feelings? Or do you attempt to understand them? How does your yoga practice help you sit with these feelings. And how do the poses help alleviate sadness? Write: 10 min.

Posted by: Bruce Black | February 1, 2014

The Gift of Time

During an ordinary day—though, really, who can say a day is ever ordinary?—I often forget that time is a gift that is given to us. 

So much of my day is spent rushing to perform a set of seemingly endless tasks. Pushing a cart through the supermarket, driving a car, folding laundry, typing at my desk, putting up a pot of coffee, washing dishes. I may be aware of the simplest movements required to accomplish these tasks but I lose sight of the time—the gift of minutes or hours—that it takes to do these things.

For moments, if not hours, of a day—even when I’m talking on the phone with my brother, or when I’m sitting in a coffee shop with friends enjoying a conversation—I can forget that time is passing, the seconds slipping through my inattentive grasp.

This isn’t about memory issues or being forgetful. It’s not about forgetting my name or where I live or what I do for a living. No, it’s not that kind of amnesia or dementia, thank goodness. It’s about being unaware of the moment-to-moment ecstasy of living. How is it possible to be unconscious of the joy that each moment brings? And yet that’s exactly what happens.

Every day, it seems, I can fall into the trap of seeing each day as “ordinary” instead of extraordinary. And seeing each day as “ordinary” —losing sight of the gift of time— leads to other traps, as well, such as the trap of telling myself that I’m not working hard enough or earning enough or caring enough. Or the trap of believing that I should be reading more books, composing more letters, writing more blog posts, meeting more people, learning more things, making more friends on Facebook, doing more than I’m doing.

Only when I step on my mat do I remember the gift of time, the moment-to-moment ecstasy of life, and savor the opportunity to stop doing and simply be.

On the mat I can hear my breath for the first time all day and remember that the seconds of life are passing through me right now.

I can stop berating myself for not doing enough, for not doing what others (including myself) think I “should” be doing. In each pose I can remember to slow down and let myself feel each heartbeat, each breath.

I can stop grasping for a foothold on my climb up an invisible mountain, and, instead, I can let my feet sink into the level earth and stand still in Mountain Pose, just breathing.

The sound of my breath restores the memory of the gift of time, the wonder of the moment. By listening closely to my own inhalation and exhalation, and to the breath of other yogis on the mats beside mine, I can experience life’s moment-to-moment ecstasy of living again and again.

Yoga offers us this gift of time. It helps us learn how to slow down long enough to hear our breath so we can catch a glimpse of the moment-to-moment ecstasy of life.

Practice Journal: How does your yoga practice remind you that time is passing, that each moment is precious, that time is a gift? Write: 10 min.

Posted by: Bruce Black | January 1, 2014

The Gifts of a New Year

Today is the first day of the New Year, a fresh page in our journals, an empty mat inviting our bodies to explore new poses, new ways of being.

On this day of the year, as on each day of the year, we are the recipients of many gifts, if only we take a moment to notice them.

Look around as you open your journal or step on your mat today. What gifts do you see?

Each time we move and stretch, twist and bend—even the simple act of stepping on our mat to begin our practice—we are receiving gifts.

The muscles and bones that support us, even when we are unaware of the foundation they provide, are gifts.

The gift of our practice, which helps us strengthen our foundation and gives us the gift of strong, healthy muscles.

Mindfulness, too, is a gift, a skill that practice helps us cultivate so we can appreciate our lives more deeply, and feel gratitude for all the gifts that come our way.

The days themselves, each hour, each moment, are gifts, offering us the opportunity to choose how to live our lives or simply listen to our breath (another gift).

All of these choices—the simple ability to make choices—are gifts.

Each breath, a gift.

Our senses—the ability to feel, taste, hear, smell, and see—gifts.

The ability to move our toes, blink open and close our eyes—gifts.

The ability to use our mouth and tongue to speak, to kiss, our hands to hold a pen, to touch and express love, our fingers to type—gifts.

The chance to meet new people or find the courage to say hello, to break through the wall of isolation and step outside our own solitude, to make a new friend or study with a new teacher—gifts.

Even changes in your life—both the changes that you desire and those that you wish didn’t have to happen—are gifts, bringing awareness and gratitude to each moment for what you experience now.

Your practice can help you learn to change, to let go and welcome change rather than resist it. What changes will you choose to make in your life today and in the year ahead?

What gifts will you give yourself, as well as those you love and the strangers who you’ll meet, this year?

What will you give yourself in this moment so you can fully enjoy the gift of your life?

New Year’s Day is a gift, a blank page waiting for your first words to appear.

May your words—and the days ahead—bring you the gift of awareness to experience your life and your practice more fully in this moment and in all the moments yet to come.

Practice Journal: Close your eyes, inhale deeply to welcome the New Year, and exhale slowly. Then open your eyes and let your pen dance across the page, taking you to a place that you hadn’t expected to go. Give yourself the gift of a surprise as the New Year begins. Start writing and see where your pen takes you as the year unfolds. (If you’re stuck, think about a time when a surprise opened your eyes to the beauty in your life.) Write: 15 min.

Older Posts »

Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 160 other followers