This is Bliss - Spring 2006

Well my friends…another season, another issue of this is bliss. I always have mixed emotions as spring arrives. I feel the tinge of anticipation for the warmth of the sun and the sweet breeze on my cheek mixed with the sadness of leaving winter with its holidays, the cuddliness of blankets, the rich darkness, topped off with dread over the heat of summer and joy over having a little extra time with family and friends once the school year is over. (As you can see this is a very confusing time for me!!!!!)

One thing I know for sure is that spring has a way of awakening me. I feel the little pinpricks of excitement as I see the buds on the magnolia trees beginning to form, leaves starting to return, green poking its way through the remnants of multi-colored snow and ice. In that I always find hope and inspiration – hope for new beginnings, new opportunities; inspiration to be bold and begin anew, to see things in a new light. We can learn so much from nature and from the world around us. By simply looking out the window and seeing the persistent daffodils making their way up through the barely softened soil each year, we can discover for ourselves so many ways to become inspired to grow, transform, and evolve. Wherever, however that inspiration arrives it has a profound effect on us. I happened to become very aware of just that over the last few months as I taught a creative movement residency with three classes of special needs students. Some were physically challenged, some emotionally challenged, and others mentally challenged, but they each brought a richness, a creative spark, a sense of playfulness to our classes, making it a very unique experience. One student named Lupe continues to amaze me. Even though the residency has been over for some three weeks now, her spirit, her enthusiasm, her ingenuity remain with me and continue to inspire me. Although she’s in a wheelchair and doesn’t have a ton of verbal skills, Lupe understands and remembers everything, is always the first to raise her hand when I ask questions, which she always answers correctly, and is so engaged with the world around her. Despite her verbal “limitations” she never stops trying to communicate – repeating words louder or slower, pointing, even miming. And nothing can stop her from participating. She found her own ways – before I did – to modify some of the exercises I was teaching. And as I look back over the six weeks of the residency and recall my time with her and her class not only this year, but last year too, I realize just how much she has touched my life - her determination, her creativity, her smile, her openness – in essence her beautiful spirit.

It’s so easy sometimes to ignore or take for granted all of the beauty that surrounds us. Whether it’s other people, nature, animals, a book, a poem, a live performance, there is always something we can draw inspiration from. So in light of spring and Lupe and all that they both have to offer can we allow ourselves to stay open to the beauty, can we give ourselves the time and the room to grow and explore, and can we offer back into the world all the joy and richness that whatever inspires us has brought us? With ever-growing and blossoming blessings….

Words of Wisdom and Inspiration

Kiss the Earth by Thich Nhat Hanh
Walk and touch peace every moment.
Walk and touch happiness every moment.
Each step brings a fresh breeze.
Each step makes a flower bloom.
Kiss the Earth with your feet.
Bring the Earth your love and happiness.
The Earth will be safe
when we feel safe in ourselves.

 

Best Practices

Find pauses throughout the day. Simply stop for about 1 minute 3 times a day (in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening) to take notice of what’s around you (the people you are with, the sights and smells that surround you, even the food you are eating). Notice how pausing affects your mood, your heart and your soul.

Take time to look up when you’re outside walking. This is something I always forget to do, but whenever I remember and do so, I am always awed by the magnificence of the architecture. Not only the architecture of the buildings, but of the trees as well – how they bow in toward each other in great arcs of branches and leaves or how they reach tall to the heavens.

 

More to Chew On
One or Two Things (#3) by Mary Oliver
The god of dirt
Came up to me many times and said
So many wise and delectable things, I lay
On the grass listening
To his dog voice,
Crow voice,
Frog voice, now,
He said, and now,
And never once mentioned forever.

 

Pose of the Season

Marichyasana III

With the arrival of spring comes the age-old tradition of spring cleaning. And what better way to “clean” the home that is your body than with a twist. Twisting is a wonderful way to rid the body of toxins, bring flexibility not only to the spine but to the mind as well. “Once the blocks that came about by twisting are removed, there is a change of perspective – seeing from a new angle.” (from Hatha Yoga the Hidden Language, by Swami Sivananda Radha).

  • Start by sitting on the edge of a blanket with your legs outstretched in front of you.
  • Feel your sitting bones snuggling together underneath and your tailbone rooting deep into the earth. Grow the spine long through the crown of your head.
  • Flex through both feet and allow the thighs to roll gently in toward each other.
  • Bend the right knee in, so the sole of the foot is on the earth and the knee is pointing toward the sky. Make sure the heel is line with the right sitting bone (there will probably be a little space between your right foot and your left inner thigh).
  • Walk your right hand as far behind you as feels comfortable, inhale and reach your left arm up into the sky to get long through the sides of the waist. From the back of the left side of your pelvis initiate the twist to the right, hugging your right knee with your left arm.

Go Deeper

Foundation
Ground down through the sitting bones. Lengthen the back of the left leg through the heel and the ball of the foot. Allow the toes to gently curl back to you. Draw the energy of the inner thighs in toward each other so the left leg stays very parallel.

Pelvis/Spine
Allow the twist to begin from the pelvis and take it with you as you twist. With each inhale grow the spine a little taller and as you exhale deepen your twist. Encourage the lower back to move into the body, rather than sink and round. Release the right hip crease toward to earth

Arms, shoulders, neck
Allow the shoulder blades to soften toward the hips. Broaden through the collar bones and allow the neck to follow in the direction of the twist, continuing the shape of the spine. Soften your jaw, your tongue and your mouth. Let your breath take you even deeper into the shape, lengthening the spine and revolving the left ribs around to the right. Enjoy the spiraling, sweeping sensation moving through your whole body. Breathe here in the twist for about 6 to 8 breaths and then explore it on the other side.

Thanks so much for reading this is bliss. Please feel free to share any thoughts, ideas, suggestions, or comments. And certainly feel free to pass this along to anyone else you think might enjoy reading it!

Spring Smiles!
Beth

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