Monday, March 21, 2016

You're a human being not a human doing

You know those times when your yoga teacher tells you to "be still", "slow down", "quiet your mind" and you immediately start thinking about refinishing your floors or making a date with your new eyebrow stylist? I do. It's taken years of consistent practice-- both yoga and meditation-- to be able to even remotely get to stillness. In times of great life chaos or strife, my brain is even more vulnerable to slipping into distraction.

I recently went to see an intuitive. She called herself a Celestial Oracle, which I think sounds so much better. Anyway, she read my angel cards, and the first things she said to me was, "You are a teacher and a healer are you not?" Slack-jawed, I nodded. The next thing she said was, "and you are emerging from a time of great turmoil." Again, correcto!

Later on in our time together, this woman offered more guidance to help me through this post-tumolt phase that I am now in. "Laura," she said, "you are a human being. Not a human doing." Could I bring this woman home with me to sit on my bedside table beside my light therapy alarm clock? 

But alas, I am a grown up and I need to steer my own ship, even if I consistently get lots of help navigating. Those words, "You are human being, not a human doing" offer me a direction when I slip into old, dysfunctional patterns. We all need time and place to slow down, to settle, to be in the present moment. It is why I have to do yoga every day. If I didn't, I would live in an almost constant state of fighting the "doing" voices. I need the guidance of my teachers, my postures, my focused breath to coax me into stillness, to remind me that being is the state I was born into, my natural homeostasis.

Doing is the state I have grown into. I am still working out this stuff. For example, would I find my yoga practice, my meditation, as satisfying if I wasn't such a doer? I'm not sure. I do know that I am programmed high on the doer spectrum and I am glad to have found a path that nurtures my origins as a human being. This time the magic reminding words came from a Celestial Oracle named Donna, but I am grateful to hear similar messages every day from the teachers in my life who remind me to "slow down", "be still", and "quiet my mind."

Monday, March 7, 2016

Silver Dragon.... Golden Dragon

I took my first Qigong class last week in Desert Hot Springs, California. The teacher was a man in his 70s named Michael. We practiced in the early morning, outside on the dewy grass next to a turtle-filled pond with palm trees above and ducks wandering back and forth behind us. Nancy, my partner, had gone to the class the day before and thought I’d like it. As we started the class, I felt my “quick-to-judge” voice come out. “Who is this guy?”; "Is he the real deal?” and other stupid thoughts that come when the mind goes to the too-quick-to judge responses. He had some quirks-- like spitting in the middle of a posture instruction or belching on an exhale, but he was a great instructor, a wise old man indeed.  After the hour-long class, I felt both challenged and relaxed. My mind was in the perfect resting place of quiet thoughtfulness.

I went back the next morning for another Qigong lesson. We did an entirely different series and I was again surprised by how challenged I felt in this new practice. My acupuncturist, over the years has introduced me to various Qigong postures, but I’d never done a whole class and I was humbled by how much my body needed to try, how much I needed to focus my mind in order to do what Michael instructed.

On our second day of class, Michael led us through a series of moves that was much more rigorous than the day before. As we bounced up and down off of our heels and back to the earth and shook our arms from our shoulders to our wrists, he’s say, “Silver dragon shakes the universe.”  And then, just when I thought I couldn’t shake anymore, he’d guide us into our foundational stillness posture. Once there, quiet and calm, he’d say, “Golden dragon calms the universe.” At the end of class, we did a beautiful closing series that simultaneously wrapped everything up and set it all free.

It reminded me of yoga in this way. In yoga we move from stillness to action and back again until we rest in final Savasana. My Qigong experience, because it was new for my body and my mind, gave me the opportunity to experience these opposing energies in a fresh way. The experience left me with boundless gratitude—for the beauty of the surroundings I was in; for Nancy for encouraging me to try Qigong; for Michael who built his knowledge and practice for forty years and shared it with all of us; and for my own daily yoga practice.

A daily practice of yoga is something I take for granted. I could see this clearly after taking those two Qigong classes—the way my body felt, how it had to work and the way my mind felt during and after the practice. It is a gift, a blessing some would say, to experience this kind of body-mind connection. “Silver dragon shakes the universe. Golden dragon calms the universe.” It happens in Qigong, and it happens in yoga. Thank you Michael for those beautiful classes and reminding me of my daily blessings.