murphyormel

wacky reflections from a nutcracker wannabe

Category: safe place

The mat is a magical place. Just breathe.

“Breathing gives man strength, vitality, inspiration, and magic powers.” – Chuang Tzu[1]

Teaching college coursework and years of public speaking in advance of yoga teacher training gave me confidence in front of a group. Prep work, delivery of material, study of my 20+ year professional world and critical lingo to the subject. Check!  But to be in the real seat for the first time in this new world as a Yogini Tour Guide – a world that brings me deeply profound and personal passion and emotion that I don’t teach in a college class room- has indeed been humbling. The mat is safe. It is sacred. It is mine.

I knew having fun was key. I knew prep, material, time and sharing an authentic me would make for a strong teacher and rich class experience where students want to follow and return. But when the bell rings and class starts, I am again reminded this journey of a beautiful practice of asana, pranayam and anatomy take time to strengthen (a practice of its own), and they are looking to me to guide them through a journey, an experience not for a grade or degree but for something deeper and heartfelt.

My magic wand of knowledge can indeed be magic only if treated with respect, integrity, candor, knowledge, selflessness and loving-kindness to the body.

The opposing forces of knowing what I have learned thus far; however, are causing me internal angst. I know just enough to be a yogini snob, meaning test my own waters of ego, as I briefly return to the role of student. I’m struggling with alternatively trained or not trained teachers leading postures that I now know are risky to my body and full of ‘Simon Says’ moments and ego. I find myself having to breathe deeply and let go of my want to correct their approach, cry out or protect my neighbor who doesn’t know any better. Certainly, this is some awareness to Santosha[2] (ethical concept of Indian Philosophy, one of the Niyamas meaning contentment, satisfaction) I didn’t see coming my way. But I continue to come back: 1. To remain faithful to my mat. 2. To observe this experience as it continues or dissipates. This “practice” of letting it go- like letting a passing car go without thinking about the passengers or destination – is the test.  And my self-reported inability or insecurity around the concept of “letting go” is an entirely separate blog post. 🙂

The most significant observation I’m practicing today is the role itself, meaning Teacher v Student. Sure, I can prep the class sequence with planes of movement in pratapana (warm-ups), teach basic pranayama, explain benefits/contraindications for varying asana, share a poem or reflection for meditation prior to Savasana, etc., but guiding someone’s personal journey doesn’t require a course syllabus.

As I continue this transition from student to teacher and back to student, I continue to observe my ability to be in the moment (or not). A student yogini for many years, I know my own body, I shift when good pain turns to bad, I adjust/realign based on my own anatomy, and I know to breathe thoughtfully in order to maintain my balance. I don’t even think when I do these things, the mat is the magic carpet with a guide leading the way.

So now, I face a world knowing far more about anatomy, philosophy and pranayam (breath work) than ever before. Acting as the tour guide not the traveler is a shift of self-awareness, breath, and trust. I must be AHEAD of the moment for the students’ experience and protection rather than IN the moment with my own body. And most importantly, I must learn to let go of my own ego as “teacher”. I am honored to know what I have been taught thus far, but realize this is simply the beginning of the practice as teacher.

Joyfully and with thoughtful intention, I commit to inhale the experience and accept my opportunities for change as new learnings of discipline, philosophy, acceptance, non-judgment and friendship emerge.

The mat is a magical place. Just breathe.

Om Shanti,

Mel

[1] Anatomy and Asana, Suzi Hately, Section 3:Principles, pg. 27

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santosha

The dark.

I like this part of the morning when I am actually awake and not due somewhere.  It’s quiet.  There is no rush.  I am not late.  The sun waits to shine.  Moments feel slower than in light.

But reality feels more real.  And the depth and self-awareness we protect is glaring, scary and sometimes painful to study, change, forgive or address.

The dark is safety under the covers and concurrent, powerful transparency when not.

Why does the dark force us to ponder the moment differently than in light?

When a lonely girl misses human touch, is the $20 tip for the massage*, legal?

Let’s face it, we all adore “our stuff”- meaning, things we enjoy to help keep us happy and feel safe in our home space.  For my dad, it’s a Hawaiian shirt even in 30 degree weather and gloves, for mom, it’s an artsy shawl or groovy bangles, for my stepmom, it’s a glass of vino with a friend, for Zac, it’s his snowboard, for HJ, it’s DNA, a new molecule or something I can’t pronounce, and for my daughter and bonus son, it’s a smart phone, etc. We just each choose our game differently.

What brings me that “I’m safe and makes me feel like “home” feeling?”  

– My yoga mat (Nothing exists but the breath.  There is no ego.  There is only emotion and me.)

– An every night routine of reading and holding hands with my daughter before bed.  (well, the days of being called “mama” are over.  I take what I can get.)

– My Macs- all of them- and since the late, late 80s…. (it might be near cult member obsession.  I do own a bumper sticker “my mac is smarter than your honor student”.  That’s mac love.  That’s mac chic.)

– Human Contact/Touch, and lots more touch!  (OMG, I gave the masseuse a $20 tip last week. When you are lonely and miss human touch, is that legal?)

– My new pup, Kenny Rogers (even though he is shaggy today, needs a haircut as his current “doo” might be damaging his peripheral vision)

– My beautifully made and all fluffy and crisp, white “fake it to you make it Westin Heavenly Bed”- with high count sheets, comfy duvet and enough pillows you can’t find the headboard.

– A hot, bubble bath with a lavender or new yummy scent in my new bathtub

– Being on my road bike, completely in my own head with the rush and sound and smell of nature flying by me (course, that near death deer experience two years ago has put a damper on going alone these days)  Who else buys the $1K+ bike BEFORE signing up and completing the MS150?  

– My Uggs

– Scented candles – ocean, lavender, lilac, fresh linen, lovely! (though not a Yankee Candle Company fan after an “incident” with my Saab.  They didn’t come out looking so good, but I did personally send a love note to the CEO, COO, corporate attorney, CMO, and I suspect I might be on a banned list somewhere.  The local Saab dealership did however love the drama and did the repairs for free- I think they were proud of the local O’Fallon chutzpah!)

– French toast with blueberries and strawberries and lots ‘o syrup piled high (G-F of course)

– Reflexology (and for years, I hated feet, after seeing a dude on an airplane cutting this thick toenails then hanging them on the magazine rack NEXT to me….ick.)

– New perfume. (but nothing that smells like I might have smelled it over my shoulder in church, the bowling alley or on anyone over 80+ years of age.)

– A personal card that comes in the mailbox.

– Tulips, Gerberas or darn it….. any bouquet of fresh flowers that has a card and special note attached to my name.

– My family (my mom has made me the exact same G-F casserole for four years. I can’t stop her.)

– Valentine’s Day.  (Hey, I’m a markete(e)r, plus the reality is that “I love you” can never be said enough)

– Grandma used to make Shrove Tuesday donuts.  I miss those. (but I cook like my mom and they are full of “glue”)

– A beautiful piece of stained glass with the bright sun shining through.

– My Loreal #860 Lipstick. (and Bare Essentials makeup to remind me beauty isn’t a number. 🙂

– I’ve discovered how good my life is after something called “Jerseylicious” and “Big Rich Texas”.  Thanks, Kirsten.  And I’m not a TV watcher but a big reader.  This however is unbelievable stuff.  It’s fantastic and should be part of my therapy copay.

– Fine wine, great artwork and quotations that say something different to each of us.

We all need “our stuff” to feel safe in our space.  And after years and years of travel, my “stuff” and a safe space to call my own, is a necessity to a healthy me.  Love your own “stuff”!

Now, make your own list, and what you don’t have, set a goal to get.  Only you are stopping yourself.  

*  Massage Envy is a reputable business, and I am thankful for talented hands that take away pain and let me relax.  There is nothing inappropriate and clearly can’t be worse or anything near what I suspect a man does with his Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. 

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