Thank you David Bowie for that intro.
Life is full of stories about change. I love a good story, particularly one that illustrates the strength/love/resilience of the human spirit.
And the one's lately I'm really into, are the small personal victories. The tales of people making small steps toward their best selves. Now, I'm not going to go all Anthony Robbins on you but it really makes to jump for joy to hear these from my friends, family and students.
Because the big change, the large platform, the overnight success, and the list goes on, well that makes headlines, right? And I think this is because we underestimate and shrug off small change. We dismiss it because on some level I think we believe as a culture, that BIG CHANGE is the only change. That we need to look like we are "making it happen", we are edgy change agents!
I have learned, through personal experience, that small change is sustainable and often endures. If I use a Yoga example, you might see someone really pushing to nail a pose, say a handstand, and they push and push each class to get "there". Or a friend decides to "give up sugar" (been there!!!) and clean out every cupboard, every crevice where its hidden, and after day 3 ..... they are a cranky mess (um, yes maybe me!!).
Through studying ourselves and really knowing what works for us, we can implement change that will stick. The old "Svadhyaya", getting to know ourselves, all of ourselves, really & truthfully. That's really a very worthwhile step to take, before implementing any new habits or rituals in our lives.
So, lately I've jumped for joy (internally) after these small but awesome things happened:
- A student told me after class that they are feeling their body opening up in Yoga, they can feel it week after week of class. Yes! Yes! Yes! When this happens to us we are literally living into Yoga Sutra 1.12, we are living into the practice with a sense of not being attached to a certain outcome.
- After a Yin class recently, a student said that they finally are feeling a sense of calm when they do Yoga. She mentioned that in her day to day life at work that the breathing I talk about really works!
- For me, rolling out the mat or just doing 3 to 4 Yoga postures before bed really helps me to get a good nights rest. Its not fancy, its usually in my PJ's and its only 3 to 4. I talk about these in class often, but incase you want to know I do:
This can take about 3 minutes or up to 15! It depends. But I do it most nights and it makes a difference, I can feel it in my body.
So the story here is, do you have a small victory? A small insight? Have you made any little changes that are holding up, that feel like they are becoming embedded in your life? I'd love to hear.
Until then, keep tinkering!
Lately, I've been guided to ask myself this question: what is your medicine?
Where do you go?
What do you eat?
What little rituals do you have?
What do you read?
What conversations are you in?
Do any of these contain medicine? What is it that heals you? What is it that supports you? What "life vitamins" are you taking to keep you well, supported, right-side up, happy, shining, loved even?
My teacher Kelly Sunrose has a mantra; "You are your own medicine". Elena Brower talks about your gifts being your medicine for the world, what you uniquely have to offer is your medicine.
What do you do, that you know and trust is good medicine for you? When you do these things, or visit these places, how do you feel? How you feel, or how we feel, lets us know if this medicine is good or if its just a placebo.
Here's some medicine suggestions:
- Nature, yes! Being in nature, smelling, looking, listening, feeling. Nature is a healing balm for us all, and it doesn't need to be fancy. It can be local and easy! You could wander into your backyard, sit on your balcony, raining? find a window with something green to gaze upon. A long time favourite of mine, which I didn't even realise was "medicine", is to go outside at night. Usually I do this before bed, and I gaze up to see some stars, maybe the moon if its not a new moon, clouds if its luminous, just to take in that beautiful picture before bed time.
- Bath. I love a good soak in a warm bath. Sometimes I light candles, maybe a rose petal or 10, perhaps some music. Taking the time to immerse myself in the warmth of a bath can be quite the medicine before the evening finishes.
- Bike. Yes, I love to bike. I ADORE my red bike! It makes me feel so happy, as I leisurely peddle my way to class, coffee, the shops. I am NOT a competitive cyclist, I cycle for the love of it. I can slow down, my senses can absorb the beauty around me and its intentionally slow. Yummmmmmmm!
- Poetry. I am IN LOVE with Salt by Nayyirah Waheed and The Radiance Sutras by Lorin Roche. I don't need any more books, probably not for many years (but we will see how that goes!!). For me its so calming, so grounding, to bask in the beauty of these books. They are deeeeeeeeeeep! They are yummy, they are like olive oil, so nourishing, so much in just a few words. This probably also is why I love Sanskrit, just the one word unfolding can keep me going for a few weeks.
So, think about your life, your days, your rhythm. What do you do, that feels so good to you? It might be different to mine, it might be same-same. But its so good for us to find out what they are, so when life is all topsy-turvy, all "average", or the boat feels like its sinking, turn to these medicines! Soak in them. Let them restore and uplift, or even just soothe you.
Love to know what your good medicine is?
I get pretty excited on the approach of a New Year.
I feel because I love a fresh start, a clean slate, a new beginning. And its funny, because its not really a new beginning, or a fresh start. But an opportunity for some pause, reflection and some planning. Its a continuation of our selves, into a new year.
A great time for Yoga Sutra 2.1.
Sutra 2.1 discusses; discipline, self study and surrender. Wow! What great ingredients to start a new year, a revisiting of these 3 qualities is a superb start.
Its akin to a recipe.
Which might look like this:
1. Prepare yourself and sit quietly, that's the discipline. Turn off your mobile, TV, music etc. Get your favourite notebook, pen, burn some Nag Champa incense, find your favourite crystal and your mala beads. Light a beautiful candle.
2. Sprinkle a little Self-Study. Perhaps reflect on the year that has passed, review your diary to see where you went, with whom, what worked, what didn't. Consider the year ahead, what kind of person are you becoming? What do you feel pulled toward, what people/places/recipes are calling you from the heart? Write it all down, maybe into some sort or category, or if that doesn't call to you what about writing down how you want your first month to look? Our truest desires lead us to step forward into the flow, the place where it feels like we are where we feel we are supposed to be, it feels almost familiar?
3. Let go. Yes, we plan, write it out, put it in the calendar and move toward it but we also need to have a quality of flow, and to have this we need a little trust and ease in our beingness. Because sometimes what we are wishing for, what we are moving towards is just a small part of a bigger picture, sometimes the timing just isnt right, or it morphs into something we could never have imagined.
So. Thats my little recipe to start the year right.
I want to bring forward more of what lights me up and the Yoga Sutras lead me there, along with Danielle Laport and Elena Brower.
I'd love to know how you start your year? Does it work? I hope the above helps you in some small (or medium size!) way.