I can feel the energy of the words as I write this title as well as the weight they carry It's the energy of life and living from a place of intention It's the way I wake up every morning It's what I lay aside every night It's having a purpose even when I'm not certain what that is It's the solid ground within where seeds are sprouting It's even the doubting middle of the night voice that must be hushed back to sleep It's what my heart knows to be true even when my mind says otherwise And I love that I get to be all these parts of me driven by the intensity of resolve in living this fearsome and amazing life. Don't you?
Tag Archives: awareness
Walking on the beach, living near a major airport, there are often planes that appear in the sky out over the ocean on their landing approach. What’s interesting about this occurrence is that, as one gazes at the place where they seem to be coming from, there is nothing to see. Sometimes I find myself focused on the empty spot in anticipation of the emergence of a plane, certain that one will appear, yet wondering how it makes that shift from being “unseen” to “seen.” It seems there might be a slit in the sky – an opening that I cannot see through which the plane emerges. With awareness of that thought comes a smile – I am reminded once again of how our minds attempt to alter reality to suit what we think it should be. I expect to be able to see it, so why can’t I?
This situation may seem obvious in the sense of simply not respecting or appreciating the limits of our senses, however, how many times is this exactly what we do? How would it be to take a few steps back and look at the bigger picture here, acknowledging how easy it is to slide into the practice of making up a story when we can’t see clearly – bringing our own interpretation to what may seem to be happening (or not happening). And often, even when we are aware that we are providing our own home screen entertainment, some or all of that story becomes real for us. All the more so if it’s a particularly good story!
So, why do we do this? Why do we fill in the space? What gets in the way of allowing an opening for the unseen to become seen? Not such a simple answer – is it impatience, perhaps, being uncomfortable or unaccepting of not knowing? Maybe it’s a matter of the “shoulds” – feeling that we should already know. Or is it simply a moment of groundlessness? How might we see them more as “leap of faith” moments – certain that the knowing will unfold?
In the practice of meditation and mindfulness there are also many opportunities for filling in the blanks. We practice or sit expecting (or hoping for) the insight that will help us translate our experience into the bliss of enlightenment or at least move us further along in that direction. Perhaps it’s during our yoga practice or while taking a walk, maybe even when we awaken in the middle of the night, that we long for an answer that eludes us.
So how does a new understanding come about? How do we really move from the unseen to the seen with regard to even the most burning questions in our lives? I wonder if it’s not much simpler than we might consider. It begins with a pause – taking a moment to let go of the grasping towards what we want to know. Then a shift to trust that the answer or insight will emerge – in other words, that it’s in there somewhere. Then there’s the issue of readiness – being open to whatever the insight might be and a willingness to go with it. This last is important, because often the insight might come but we find ourselves digging in our heels saying, “Oh no, this isn’t the answer I was hoping for.” I suspect that may be the point where we need to go back to the beginning and pause again…
What do you see when you close your eyes? Or is the point not to see but to allow yourself to open up to other, perhaps less dominant, senses? Consider the common situations in which you focus with eyes closed – when preparing for sleep, when desirous of intensifying a sensation being experienced, or perhaps to avoid imprinting an image that is disturbing or frightening. Most examples probably fit into these categories, though there may be times when you close your eyes in order to embrace a moment of stillness and quiet. These last are the moments that invite a closer look.
When you close eyes initially, there can be a sense of noticing the quality of the darkness. It can show up differently – sometimes close and heavy, at other times cool and spacious, and, of course, with a range of sensations in between. Sometimes it seems as if the dark is right in front of your face, and, at other times, it can feel as though it envelops your entire body. This is the period of settling in, and it carries you past the first few moments. So, if your intention is for more than a 20 second break, what is it that happens next?
Ah… This is the place that has the potential for the real beginning of a new and potentially life changing experience. Suppose you are closing your eyes to begin meditation or checking in with your inner self during your yoga practice or while being supported through a yoga therapy session. In any of these scenarios, sliding into the darkness allows you to shift focus to what’s happening from the inside out. It’s a different perspective. It’s one that frees you in a way from the connection to the senses; it changes the perspective from which you are taking in the world around you. That shift allows a mindful space to simply be with yourself.
There is something about being in the dark that provides a new, in the moment, experience. It’s different every time, and you can never be sure who or what you will encounter. Of course, after a moment or two, your mind will jump in to fill what it perceives as a void. Thoughts of future and past, judgments, expectations and concerns are just some of the characters that will take up space in the dark. What might it look like to greet them, welcome them in, invite them to sit with you a while? Consider it like “working the room” in a social setting where you acknowledge each guest, listen a bit and move on, never getting too involved with each individual but keeping close awareness of the bigger picture. Perhaps not a comfortable analogy but a serviceable one. The point is not to become too attached to any one thought or emotion but not to fight against them or try to shut them out as you move from one to the next.
How would it be to enter the dark with the kind of anticipation of seeing a great movie you’ve heard about – to bring that kind of energy in but without the sense of attachment to what the movie turns out to be? Might that draw you to want to sit in meditation or close eyes during yoga practice or a yoga therapy session and see what happens? Think of the richness that is you and all that is waiting to be discovered. Most of all, allow yourself to entertain the possibility of getting to know the person you are from the inside out.
Consider that you are at that moment in your life, probably one of many such moments, when you are conscious of a focus on what lies ahead of you. I am aware of your smile as you think about how you do that almost every day. The moment that I am speaking of is the one where you set an intention about what’s next – not necessarily with worry or apprehension or dread or even excitement, and, yes, it might actually include all those feelings. However, what’s important about this looking ahead moment is the attitude with which you are facing forward.
Isn’t this, in fact, what you do, intentionally or otherwise, at this time of witnessing the transition to a new year? So, how’s that going for you? Is it all about what could have been different during the past twelve months, or is it about how you resolve that this year will be different? There’s such a wide open space in between that sometimes it seems better to focus on what’s happening now!
So, standing at the edge of your yoga mat or sitting on your meditation cushion, take in a deeper breath – in through your nose and let it fall out of your mouth – feel your shoulders let go a bit – and settle into who you are right now. What is ahead of you might seem like it encompasses the whole of your journey, moving toward some inner (or outer) goal. It is possible though, to experience it as simply the next step on your journey and then whatever happens after that. This is not to say that you don’t need a plan, but your plan may have little to do with the attitude that surfaces for you when facing forward.
Suppose that you bring to this moment, imagining what’s ahead, the strength of standing in your truth – it doesn’t have to be an astounding truth; it can be a simple truth (as most really are). What’s significant is bringing your awareness to an opening in how you greet what’s ahead. The image that comes to mind is standing or sitting in stillness with hands open to receive. Isn’t that how you want to be greeting this next step on your journey? If you are open to receive, then whatever happens next can be used, can serve you in moving forward. You will have welcomed it without judgment or preconceived ideas about how it is supposed to be. Then it can be a gift…
Of course, the other side of facing forward is looking back. That can be a stuck place, full of story, where bags are weighed down with what has gone before. So, without exploring all those past moments, perhaps it would be enough to find a place to put them, at least temporarily. Certainly, it’s possible to find space in a closet or rent a storage locker. You will be wanting your next step to be less encumbered; you can always retrieve later what has been set aside.
Then, see how this feels in your body – how letting go translates into lightening up and, perhaps, more energy. It doesn’t matter that it’s not forever; what is crucial is that, at this moment, you are free to face forward with an open attitude and receive what’s next. Happy New Year!
Suppose you are at an edge, standing at a point where moving forward feels like stepping off into the unknown yet staying where you are is increasingly uncomfortable, and, of course, moving backward isn’t even a choice. What happens now?
Sounds like a big deal – yet we do this over and over again every day. Mostly, however, moving forward happens within the context of what we know and what is familiar. Driving the car, making a call, walking down the street – all these actions happen without us knowing exactly what will happen next. We do, for the most part, have expectations based on past experiences that allow us to take up these activities with confidence or ease. But if enough about the activity is outside our familiar set of past experiences, then the sense of the unknown surfaces. How we meet this can range from anxious resistance to enthusiastic excitement.
Think of children for whom almost all experiences are unknown. Would any of us have learned to walk or run if we chose staying with what is familiar? Or if we had a lengthy internal conversation about what was about to happen next? Unlikely! So we all have the capacity to choose moving forward, taking the next step, even in the face of not knowing.
Consider how we meet these edges in our life situations – right now, today. Could it be that what seems edgy to us does so because some aspect of it strikes us at our core? How do we choose moving forward or staying when our perception of what is at stake is the sense of who we are or what our truth is? It isn’t simply about “not knowing.” What stirs us is the dissonance of the potential before us compared with what we think of ourselves, our idea of who we are, our self image. Perhaps this is actually the edge of awareness. And our choice is to explore and take the next step or hunker down and stay put.
So, what might make the difference in how we choose? If you go back to the childhood reference, moving forward was possible then because we felt safe, accepted and had a sense that someone had our back if things didn’t go well. Or else the motivation was that consequences of failing weren’t clear and/or the risk seemed worth it. Or simply being curious.
How to bring some more of that curiosity into how we make choices to explore edges and step out into the unknown as who we are right now? Can we use the tools we have and the gifts we’ve been offered? Meditation, mindfulness techniques and yoga can support the sense of who we are and strengthen the ability to take the next step. They can provide a safe home and make it easier to move forward. Yoga therapy, in particular Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, offers a unique structure for supporting this kind of exploration of the edge – one in which you can explore with safety and acceptance, with the sense of someone having your back. What matters most in the way you meet your edges is that you get to choose – how far, how fast, even whether to go at all…