this week’s happiness is all about the unexpected, good, free things I’ve noticed this week: Continue reading
The last weeks, I’ve been struggling with reality–pushing against walls that aren’t gonna budge, scraping my hands and bruising my head. Continue reading
I used to think that shavasna was a cop-out pose, the liturgical lie-down at the end of a yoga session that was for the old ladies who really didn’t have the physical acuity left in them anymore.
Maybe I’m one of those old ladies now, but I’ve discovered shavasna to truly be not only the most important yoga pose, but a truly vital life-pose as well.
Part of the point of yoga (part of the point of liturgy!) is to mimic parts of our everyday lives, that our bodies, minds, and spirits might learn to respond differently when faced with stressors or with joys. My body gets itchy for downward dog and plank when in the midst of a rough day at the office (I’m notorious for popping down onto the carpet for some relief).
Shavasna, in English–corpse pose, lying on your back with arms and legs extended naturally, is the end of every yoga sequence and the time when the body absorbs all the energy, air, life, strength, and stretching that you’ve been pushing around in it for the last hour or so. I imagine it like a tres leche cake–the spongy cake soaking up all the milk and cream that is poured over it. Our bodies are like spongy cake, letting the goodness we’ve cultivated through stretching our bodies fill up our bodies and stick around our souls.
“Reflection upon experiences is when wisdom comes.” Instead of just grabbing and gathering experiences–stuffing them into our life-rucksacks, we need to sit down and process them both consciously and unconsciously before we can really benefit from the thing we’ve been through.
In less-grand parlance, taking a few minutes to gather thoughts after a meeting, or to think back through a day to the emails you’d promised and the epiphanies you’d had, can both keep your life on track and serve as a great boost–remembering all those things that your day entailed, accomplished, and surprised you with.
Too often, I tell myself I’ll recap later, I’ll remember later, and I’ll consider it later. You won’t be surprised to hear: I don’t.
Mostly, I don’t remember the details and nuances of the meeting or lunch, sometimes I just don’t remember anything at all. These moments are given to us as a gift, and to devote even more time to them–just a few minutes at the end of a day–gives them honor, cements the good in our mind, and perhaps even makes us better at replying to emails and keeping our promises.
Shavasna is our body’s reflection on its hard work; our minds, hearts, and souls deserve and demand the same–in our work and in our lives.
Been fighting something nasty this week. Just coming out of the tailspin now. My experience compels me to pass along to you something to help stuffy sinuses and something to fend off aches and pains.
2. yoga for colds (via yoga journal)
Then, when the oppressive virus begins to let up, try my ritual: take a shower and wash your bed linens. Nothing makes you feel alive again like a good hot shower & fresh sheets!
“But I still my soul and make it quiet, like a child upon its mother’s breast; my soul is quieted within me.” (Psalm 131:2, BCP)
From our very moment of creation–those little cells furiously dividing in a womb–there’s one voice, one heartbeat, one digestive system that calibrates reality for us. When we are again near that same heartbeat, napping on top of Mom, or hear that same voice (even decades later!) the deepest, most primal part of us responds. Some bit of ourselves, deeply coded with the nourishment (the life!) that this person provided for us, always knows Mom’s voice and body, the being that taught us by her simple presence and lifeblood what life and the world are.
God does exactly the same thing for us, but on an even deeper and more primal level. The most profound calm, the Most-Anti-Anxious-State, the greatest security, and the truest reality arrives when we sit in the presence of God. Yoga and meditation (and prayer) teach us to do this literally–to physically sit down, to face up to our racing minds (and hearts) and start digging in our heels, slowing down our minds, listening through distractions and listening into quietness.
One of my colleagues has a plaque on his office wall, “Bidden or unbidden, God is present.” God is sitting next to you, where ever you are, whether you want him there or not–when we quiet down, we can start to notice his presence.
Part of the point of yoga and meditation and prayer is to help us recalibrate to that original orientation–sometimes it’s awkward and feels uncomfortable or even painful (physically, or socially, or psychologically) to slow down, to sit down, to quiet down. Persistence in sitting quietly, in praying (or meditating or doing yoga), begins to loosen up our knotted up selves, and the searing shout of silence starts to feel more like a peaceful river of quiet.
God, his identifying heartbeat, his stirring voice, is not always the loudest or most insistent sound (often it is one of the quietest) in our lives, though it is the most profoundly sustaining.
For what God says to us in the quiet, a sermon preached by Sam Wells, “The Heart of God.“
For what struck me about Psalm 131 last September, “Psalm 131 Mash Up” (isn’t it funny how certain poems speak to you at particular moments of the year? And isn’t it funny how the same words evoke something so different in the same person a year hence?)