Permission to Rest!

We're finally drawing to the end of winter weather here in New England and as I watch ya'll come into the studio I can tell it's taken its toll. Everyone seems to have been sick in the last couple of months (myself included!). Energy is low all around, even with the stirrings of spring. What to do to get yourself back in the swing of things so you can head outside and start to enjoy everything the warmer weather and the new season provides?

REST!

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A breathing technique for controlling stress and anxiety

I continue to hear from many of you that controlling stress and anxiety and taking care of yourself are a main focus for 2018. You are not alone! This is one of the wonderful things about marking a new year; we get to rededicate ourselves to something important. 

Here's a simple breathing technique that might help. We tend to think that in order to help ourselves the solutions need to be complicated or involve a complex sequence of steps. The truth is that it can be as simple as conscious breathing. That's not to say that you'll never be stressed out again if you do this technique! As we all know, life happens! But what we can do is make sure our toolbox is full and our practice is steady so we can reach for the right tool in that moment of anxiety.

Here's how it works:

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Lay on your back with one hand or both hands on your low belly just as you see above. Do your best to breathe through your nose, but know if you're a bit congested you can always breathe through the mouth. Close your eyes if comfortable and focus on your breath. As you breathe in, direct the breath down into the hand on your belly and allow your belly to expand so it lifts your hand up to the sky. As you exhale, let it all fall back toward the earth. Continue like this for several breaths. It may take a few tries to get your belly to relax enough to really fill with the breath. Don't get frustrated, just keep going. 

That alone is a wonderful practice and could be complete in itself!

If you'd like to take it a step or two further, try this:
Shift one hand to your rib cage. Now when you inhale, expand the belly just as you've been doing but then continue that expansion into your ribs and the hand that's there. Feel the ribs move out into your hand. On the exhale, reverse the process. Ribs draw in first, then the belly deflates.

Repeat that several times.

If you'd like to go one last step further, shift a hand to your heart center or center of the chest area, just above your breastbone. Now breathe into the belly just as you have, the ribs just as you have and then see if you can find one last little sip of air under your collarbones. Again you'll exhale in reverse, so the chest releases followed by the ribs and then the belly. Do this for several breaths.

When you're finished, let the breath return to normal for several breaths before you roll onto your right side and come up to sit. Take a moment there before moving on.

This is called three part breath and is a wonderful way to help calm mind, body and spirit when life is a bit tense. You can do this in bed before you go to sleep or even when you first wake up in the morning. If you notice you get a bit light headed at first it should pass, but just let the breath work go if it gets uncomfortable and try again at another time. 

When you finish the practice, pause to notice the difference in your body, mind and perhaps even spirit.

Bringing back Innocence in 2018

It's that time of year again! That time when we are likely reflecting on what has past and hoping to create change in the future. Whether you call them resolutions, intentions, goals or something else, chances are you're thinking about them and even if you're saying "I don't make resolutions!", you've already made one! And as we think about these changes or new things we'd like to bring into our lives or how the other times we've tried it hasn't worked out quite how we may have liked, isn't it interesting that we pretty much already think we know how it's going to go? That's where Innocence comes in.

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What do I mean by that? Well, I mean that we have to take a step back and and let our predicting mind take a break if we are going to create something different. If we already know what the outcome is going to be we likely are blocking that mysterious and wonderful quality of the universe that might actually bring us something better. I went to a church service on Christmas Eve for the first time in many years and as part of the homily the priest said "God (insert universe or whatever other term or image works for you) often doesn't help us in the way we want to be helped". I think most of us can look back at some aspect of our lives and find that what we may have really wanted at one time probably wasn't the best thing for us and (thankfully) the universe stepped in to give us something better! If you can bring back the quality of Innocence as you make your Intentions for 2018 you might just create more space for something wonderful that you haven't even imagined to happen. 

I wish you great joy and magic in 2018!!

 

Ram Dass Retreat!

I started announcing this last week, but tomorrow I’m flying to Maui to check something off my bucket list (yes I’m only 39 but I don’t think it’s ever too early to have a bucket list!). I’m going to spend some time in the same room as Ram Dass. 

 Ram Dass

Ram Dass

If you’ve never heard that name you’re not alone. But Ram Dass was instrumental in bringing yogic thought and philosophy to the West. His 1960s book “Be Here Now” is considered one of the first major texts to bring yogic philosophy and thought to the west. I read his book after finishing my first teacher training and it was certainly life changing.

I’ve listened to talks of his for years. I’ve read several of his other books (one I like quite a bit is the “Journey of Awakening” which is available for purchase in our boutique at the studio). I’ve read posts on his website. I’ve watched movies. There’s something about his energy that I find captivating. The way his mind works with information. The way he makes things clear while still being down to earth. His honesty. And his generosity of spirt in making it possible for us to know his guru, Neem Karoli Baba. It was through him, to some degree, that I was introduced to the Kirtan and teaching of Krishna Das. His path has opened up a path for me in a way I am so grateful for.

There’s so much in his teaching that I hope to embody. The clarity, the honesty, the generosity, the “smartness” if you will! To be able to spend some time in the same room with him is a blessing I can’t even begin to imagine at the moment. I still can’t believe this is really happening!

And I have you to thank. My trip wouldn’t be possible without our community of practitioners. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I hope to bring back some juicy stuff for you!

They are live streaming some of the workshops this weekend. If you’d like to follow along, check out this link:

https://www.ramdass.org/trust

I think it’s going to be an amazing set of workshops and teachings.

I'll try and post some things here and on Instagram when I can.

I’ll see you tonight for class. Much love to you all!