Thursday, March 28, 2013

Enslaved No More

     "It is for freedom that I have set you free." These words in the New Testament have never been particularly clear to me. I am happy to be free but what exactly does that even mean? With the exception of incarceration most people in this country are thankfully free to come and go as they please. Free to chose wise choices or spend their days watching daytime television with a bag of Cheetos on their laps. On the surface of our lives we all appear to be free. But in this season of Passover as I think about freedom my mind goes to the people who aren't free and what that means.
At the very most basic level a loss of freedom means constriction (jail cell) or tightness and freedom means space and expansiveness. So, as I do in my search for embodied spirituality I turn to my body for answers.

     The areas where we hold tension are areas where we are metaphorically enslaving ourselves.
The clenched jaw does not allow our words to be free, the tight neck does not allow the chest muscles to soften and free the heart. Where we clench we stop our life force from flowing freely. We lose our freedom.

     One of my favorite meditation techniques is Breathwords. In this simple techniques you reign in the mind by repetitively thinking one word as you inhale and another as you exhale. for example inhale thinking "peace" exhaling thinking "health", really any life affirming words will work. This gives the mind boundaries to become stiller allowing us to tap into our inner quiet. So this week I have been combining the breathwords "Be free" with body awareness. Every time I inhale I think the word "Be" and let my attention rest on my feet or face, but it is the exhales that are amazing me. With every exhale as I think the word "free" I find an area of tension to release. The more fluidity and softness I find in my body through this technique the more expansiveness I feel in my spirit. I have been doing this on and off the mat. You can do it anywhere really.

So this week just a short blog to share what I am up to. Something simple, yet profound as I continue to seek out areas where I have enslaved my body with tension and loosen the shackles the freedom is ever increasing in my heart and mind.

So how about it? Wanna "Be/Free" with me? Try this simple technique and you may be surprised as you find new levels of freedom.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery
Galatians 5:1

Sunday, March 3, 2013

One year later

     Today I really don't have any grand plan for writing something helpful, no story that will neatly illustrate a usable lesson for you. I have had a hard time blogging lately because I have been having a hard time in general and I don't want a whiny blog, but there it is. life has it's ups and downs, doesn't it? Yoga for me is acknowledging the brightness in dark moments and remembering in moments of joy that they can be fleeting. The life we attempt to flow in is made much smoother by not fighting the currents. When the current gets rough and threatens to smash us against a rock that is ironically the time to relax a little to soften the blow, but when we hit a smooth patch where the sun warms us as we drift lazily, well we need to make a choice to swim a little in order to keep moving.
I forget this and in life when struggles come up I tend to struggle more and when things are easy sometimes I forget to swim and begin to slowly sink until losing my breath reminds me to move.

     Today is the one year anniversary of my studio, Quiet. The one year anniversary of throwing myself off the deep end, officially linking my spiritual and professional journeys. 365 days and each one a mini adventure in soothing sorrow, taming pride, falling down, getting up. Adventures in being amazed at the students who teach me, being grateful for the times a lesson I have shared has helped someone along their path. Even now a year later it doesn't quite feel "right" to call the people who come to Quiet students. We are co-learners/seekers walking a slow but steady path. It is a simple path but not an easy one. The path to victory passes through many gates of surrender. Some surrenders are easy: release that posture when your breath grows jagged and your limbs shake. Some surrender is harder, surrendering the need to be right is a good one. Some surrenders are perplexing. This year I hear God whispering to me to "surrender my image" and I don't even know what that means. But all surrender is made easier to realize we are surrendering our will to a loving, omnipotent and benevolent God who "works all things together for our good". That has been the one steady constant through the ups and downs of this year. God's goodness which shines down on us like the rays of the sun. Not dependant on my behavior, the sun keeps shining on the best and the worst of us.

     One of the more recent shifts God has given me at Quiet is realizing that the traits that we assign to God are the traits that we will subconsciously grow in ourselves. Recently I taught a class themed on dealing with suffering and the next day I broke out in a painful itchy head to toe rash. For the first few days I thought "well, God allowed this rash to emphasize the lesson I had taught". Kind of a subtle way to label God "mean". But through prayer and time I realized that maybe God had used the suffering class to prepare me for what He knew was coming. Wow, much nicer of the great I AM!
So what would I believe? I rooted out some deeply hidden belief that God was just a little harsh (head to toe rash?!) and returned to the belief that God is with us and guiding us and preparing us for all things. I will continue to examine what I really think of Gods character as I continue to walk the Quiet path. I have learned this year that a teacher doesn't really "tell students stuff" but rather leads them to their own wisdom. So I am going to go meditate now and not try to tell myself how this first day of my second year will go but rather I will go sit and listen and enjoy the waters of life.

Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me
Psalm 42:7