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The Hallway is Hell

Last spring I attended an inspirational workshop with Todd Norian titled “A Touch of Grace.” Along with other wisdom, Todd encouraged us to remember that “when one door closes, another opens.” A voice came from the back of the room: “yeah, but the hallway is hell.”

Indeed. We’ve all been in that hallway some time or another. Sometimes we choose it, sometimes we’re pushed headlong. Either way, we have to go through it. There’s no shortcut through the hall.

But we don’t have to suffer alone. We can remember it is part of our growth, part of our quest for freedom to pass through that hallway.

We have support in our endings and in our beginnings. John O’Donohue encourages us to embrace the journey. With big gratitude to him, here is his Blessing for a New Beginning, quoted from his book of blessings: “To Bless the Space Between Us”.

You can listen to Krista Tippett’s interview with John O’Donohue here: OnBeing

Blessing for a New Beginning
by John O’Donohue

In out of the way places of the heart
Where your thoughts never think to wander
This beginning has been quietly forming
Waiting until you were ready to emerge.
For a long time it has watched your desire
Feeling the emptiness grow inside you
Noticing how you willed yourself on
Still unable to leave what you had outgrown.
It watched you play with the seduction of safety
And the grey promises that sameness whispered
Heard the waves of turmoil rise and relent
Wondered would you always live like this.
Then the delight, when your courage kindled,
And out you stepped onto new ground,
Your eyes young again with energy and dream
A path of plenitude opening before you.
Though your destination is not clear
You can trust the promise of this opening;
Unfurl yourself into the grace of beginning
That is one with your life’s desire.
Awaken your spirit to adventure
Hold nothing back, learn to find ease in risk
Soon you will be home in a new rhythm
For your soul senses the world that awaits you

The Silence

We all carry it. The silence within. Often we fear it and keep it a bay. Sometimes we struggle to touch it through meditation and breath. I want to cultivate my silence, grow with it, radiate from it.

Waking by Matthew SanfordMatthew Sanford was thrown into his silence with great force. A car accident killed his father and sister, and Matthew woke up in the hospital a paraplegic at 13. His body, his mind, his spirit became silent.

It was a long, long time before he made friends with his silence. But he learned to listen more deeply than I am capable of doing. He learned that yoga happens from the inside out.

His book Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence is a journey through his silence. It is a courageous affirmation of life, growth, acceptance, and flourishing through the energy of yoga.

His work now is teaching us through yoga to embrace our silence and to find the courage to listen, the wisdom to understand, and the strength to act.

I encourage you to explore your own silence.

And you might want to get to know Matthew Sanford:

Visualize your Vagus Nerve

Your vagus nerve is the commander-in-chief when it comes to having grace under pressure.
Christopher Bergland, Psychology Today

Do you know about your vagus nerve? Know its characteristics?

I didn’t even know I had one until a few weeks ago. Wow, this one is major and perhaps you’ll join me on this inquiry about a fascinating part of us.

Vagus nerveHere’s an early anatomical illustration of the nerve, borrowed from an article in Psychology Today by Christopher Bergland. This should give you an idea of its importance.

Rooted in the cerebellum and brainstem, the nerve branches to both sides of the body and feeds information to and from most of our organs, all the way to the lowest area of our abdomen.

Mr. Bergland’s article is well written, informative, and easy to understand. I suggest you check it out. And then breathe deeply as you visualize your vagus.

The sympathetic nervous system is geared to rev you up like the gas pedal in an automobile – it thrives on adrenaline and cortisol and is part of the fight-or-flight response. The parasympathetic nervous system is the polar opposite. The vagus nerve is command central for the function of your parasympathetic nervous system. It is geared to slow you down like the brakes on your car and uses neurotransmitters like acetylcholine and GABA to literally lower heart rate, blood pressure, and help your heart and organs slow down.

Christopher Bergland, Psychology Today

Is Yoga a Spiritual Practice?

Sometimes we think of yoga as a physical practice.

There is also a spiritual aspect, and some practitioners of yoga delve into a religious component through Hinduism and/or Buddhism. The history of yoga is vast and sometimes quite strange to me, as well as transforming and peaceful.

Once in a while someone in my class will ask me about this, and wonder about a conflict with their own religious beliefs.

My experience is that yoga can be practiced for many reasons and at many levels.

As for me, I delve into mindfulness and yoga as my path to physical and emotional health. Others focus primarily on the physical benefits. My objective is to cultivate a space that makes it easy for each of us to bring our own belief systems to the practice without imposition.

The closing at the end of my class is meant to remind us to dwell inside in awareness and acceptance, and a way for me to wish us all well.

Here are the words I use at the close of class:

May our hearts be filled with loving kindness.

May we be well.

May we be secure, peaceful, and at ease.

May we always be open to joy.

May each of us follow our path with heart.

“Namaste” means “I salute the spirit in you that is you” (or some variation of that…it is meant as respect for another person).

“Om” is a universal sound of unity. The chanting of it is meant to open our voices and unite us in a positive community.

I hope you all choose your own practice and continue with yoga free of conflict.

Namaste.

Choose Joy

Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.
~Thich Nhat Hanh

Try it… Smile.

It works. You have found a moment of joy.

Happiness? It’s ephemeral, temporary. I choose joy.

It comes from the inside, from mindfulness, from choosing to see, really see.

Now notice something.

Anything.

A feeling, a sight, a sound.

Notice your reaction to it.

Try not to judge your reaction. Just notice.

“How fascinating.”

Mindfulness reminds us to notice the small things, and rejoice in them.

By choosing joy, you are inviting it into your life.

 

“How fascinating”

Watch a delightful 13-minute video with Benjamin Zander, from whom I’ve borrowed the idea of “how fascinating.” Or just watch the first few minutes.