As I sit down to write the summer issue of this is bliss, my mom is closing the sale on the house that I grew up in. Luckily I got to go home last weekend to say my final good-byes: to walk through each room and remember the feelings, sensations, and memories associated with each room; to hang out in the backyard where I learned to play football and baseball, where we hosted many outdoor family gatherings, where, with my dad’s coaxing, I first let Jasper, the ex-street dog, run free. I realized we had really done a lot of living in that house.
How bittersweet the visit and the memories it conjured. Bitter in that this would be the last time I could go home and hang out in those rooms with my family. Bitter in that someone else will now be calling my home theirs. And sweet in that I got to say goodbye, make peace, enjoy the familiarity, warmth, comfort and safety of my home one more time.
As I drove away from mom’s final wave in the driveway, tears in my eyes, I realized that my memories of that home would stay with me long after my family stopped living there. All that was created there - the celebrations, activities, dreams, joys, sorrows – would travel with me and exist in me and all my family and friends who played a part in making that house a home.
And of course “home” is only as far away as my heart is. My heart, where I store all of those memories. If I can inhabit my heart, my body, my breath the way I inhabited each room of my home, allowing myself to be still, to feel, enjoy, recount every sensation each room conjured up, then I am never truly far away from the safety, security, and wisdom of my heart’s home. Everything I needed growing up – love, support, kindness, compassion, trust, wisdom, guidance – was in the four walls of that house, and everything I need now - love, support, kindness, compassion, trust, wisdom, guidance – is really in the home of my heart and body.
The second sutra of the Yoga Sutras, “Yogas citta vrtti nirodhah,” gives us the “goal” of yoga – to quiet or still the mind of all the movement so that we can sit with ourselves and open up to the love, wisdom and the divine guidance that exists within each of us. Our yoga practice helps to get agitation and anxiety under control so that that we can come more fully home to ourselves, to our lives, to who and what we love.
So many things distract us from home – be it the obligations and appointments that kept me from visiting my home that I grew up in or the many obligations that keep us from sitting with ourselves – hanging out in the home of our bodies, minds and souls. YOGA BRINGS US HOME! It allows us to become more peaceful within ourselves and helps us to see that everything we need is already inside of us. Our home is already decorated, waiting for us to fully inhabit it.
We have never stayed home long enough to experience the truth about ourselves. Erich Schiffmann from Meditations from the Mat by Rolf Gates
Inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that’s where you renew your springs that never dry up. Pearl Buck from Relax and Renew by Judith Lasater
As you explore your next yoga practice, be it in class or on your own, see if you can feel all the different parts of your body leading you through the practice. As the arms rise up overhead, feel the fingers leading the arms upward. As you fold over let the heart lead the way. When you lunge, see what happens if you let the toes lead the leg back. And maybe in Downward Dog, feel the navel center drawing you upwards and back. Maybe it’s the shoulders that lead you into plank and the sides of the waist that open you in baby cobra…and on and on.
These are just suggestions. Feel which body parts want to lead you through each shape so you can feel yourself completely inhabiting every corner and curve of your being.
WORDS OF WISDOM
Sincerely explore for yourself, are you here or not? Are you in your body or oblivious, or only aware of parts of it? When I say, “Are you in your body?” I mean, “Are you completely filling your body?” I want to know whether you are in your feet, or just have feet. Do you live in them, or are they just things you use when you walk? Are you in your belly, or do you just know vaguely that you have a belly? Or is it just for food?
Are you really in your hands, or do you move them from a distance? Are you present in your cells, inhabiting and filling your body? If you aren’t in your body, what significance is there in your experience this moment? Are you preparing, so that you can be here in the future? Are you setting up conditions by saying to yourself, “When such and such happens I’ll have time, I’ll be here.” If you are not here, what are you saving yourself for?
Hameed Ali, excerpted from Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach
This meditation practice was adapted from Radical Acceptance by Tara Brach
To access more meditation ideas, check out www.yogajournal.com
POSE OF THE SEASON
Tarasana is one of those yummy shapes that opens the hips and back body. I love it because it is one of the few shapes in yoga where you can allow the spine to round and be full. I love how it allows me full access to breathing into my whole back body, from my low waist up to the base of my neck. I’m also grateful for how it draws me back into myself and quiets my ever-churning mind – I sometimes feel like a turtle snuggling up in its shell!
(If you have knee, hip, ankle, or low back issues this may not be the pose for you. As with any physical/exercise program you should always consult your doctor before trying a new practice.)
Ground the sitting bones down into the earth. Feel the thigh bones grow heavy. Allow the outside hip creases to drip down toward the earth. Anchor the pinky toe sides of the feet to the ground and gently press the balls of the feet toward each other.
Allow the spine to unwind and drape over, creating a long, soft arc from your tail through your head. Continue to widen through the back waist, drawing the tailbone down. As you inhale, allow the breath to lengthen the sides of the waist, floating the rib cage away from the pelvis. As you exhale, continue to anchor through the tailbone and melt over. Play with the rounding of the spine, while keeping the heart energy moving forward toward your feet.
Allow the neck to release over – maybe resting the forehead on your feet or a block or two. Let the arms relax, and allow the weight of the arms to open up the space between the shoulder blades. Feel the shoulder blades sliding away from each other, right off the back.
Enjoy the breath rippling over the length of the spine. Let go of whatever you think this shape should look like and move into the sensations you feel. Let your awareness of your breath and the sensations of each part of your body bring you back home to your wonderful self!
Thank you so much for reading the Summer 2007 issue of 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. If you would like to be removed from the mailing list, please email and let me know.
Peace, Love, and BLISS!
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