Sunday, October 7, 2018

Listening for the birds

About ten years ago I was on a family nature walk in Seward Park. My daughter Lucia was about four-years-old at the time and the naturalist leading the hike was a young man who looked barely out of high school. I was a little disappointed. I wondered what I could learn from this young guy. The docent took us along the path pointing out the different barks on the trees, poison oak, variations of ferns and moss. Then he stopped suddenly and became completely silent. We all followed suit, even the kids. After about a minute he said, "No matter where you are in the world, if you stop, be still, and listen, you will hear birds. Even in New York City," he went on, "birds will be there. Birds are everywhere. You just have to stop, be still and listen."

I've followed that naturalist's words at least once a week for the last ten years. He's right. In New York, Chicago, Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma..... the birds are always there.  Today I am completing the fifth day of a meditation training.* This particular training is about coming back to our true nature by welcoming all our experiences. We get to this, in part by opening all of our senses. The training is at a beautiful retreat center in Northern California.  There are deer everywhere, wild turkeys, snakes, lizards, jack rabbits, hawks, owls and so many other birds. For this training, most of the time we're sitting or lying down so every morning for the last five days I've gotten up at 6:30am to walk the hills to prepare my body for the long days of stillness. At 6:30am, when I leave my dorm, the sky is still dark and the sounds of the birds are loud and clear. They too might still be just waking up. In the dark I can't see any of the other creatures, but I can hear the birds.

As I walked the hills at sunrise these last few days, as the sun illuminated the golden grass of the hills, I have spotted deer and a few times, a lucky jack rabbit. I stepped on a snake yesterday and the squirrels, lizards and hawks have been everywhere. This morning I noticed that, as my visual senses came alive with the sunrise, I stopped hearing the sounds of the birds. So as I got to the top of a hill, I closed my eyes and stopped. I stood still. I heard the wind in the grass. I heard the highway in the distance. But I couldn't hear any birds. Just as I began to worry, I heard one.  Then I heard many. They were there. They always are.


*Integrative Restoration Yoga Nidra is a form of yoga and mediation. If you're interested in learning more, sign up for one of Laura's workshops at The SweatBox Loft.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Growth

People throw around the term ADD a lot. I hear many adults, myself included sometimes say, in reference to being distracted, "I'm so ADD" or "I probably have ADD." My nephew and many other people I know truly have ADD or ADHD and it's not a joke, so I've really tried to temper my use of that term. What I have, and what I think many people have, is a lack of focus. I believe this is exacerbated by the easy access to distraction via our smart phones, tablets and laptops. Yesterday I was writing my mom and email about coming to visit. As I was driving home I thought to myself, "What ever happened with that email?" A few hours later when I opened my laptop, I saw it, just sitting there half-written, abandoned mid-sentence.

About a year ago I felt strongly that I needed to move on from owning and running The SweatBox. I wasn't feeling inspired or motivated. I felt distracted and unsettled. Then my landlord called me to tell me that a new space was opening up in the building and did I want to look at it. It was the day before I was to leave for Chicago for a long family trip, but something made me say yes and I met her to look at the space. Of course I loved it. The building my yoga studio is in is old and filled with character. In this new space, there are original wood floors and brick walls. The ceilings are 13 feet high and the windows look towards a beautiful patinated church spire west of the studio.

I spent the week in Chicago meditating over the idea of expanding. How could I go from uninspired to excited in such a short time? What did this mean? I tried to process this and figure out if this was just my lack of focus taking over or if there was something bigger. I told my landlord that I was unsure but to tell me right away if anyone else showed serious interest. I hemmed and hawed for a few more weeks until one day I talked to my friend Vanessa in New York. Vanessa is an old friend. I've known her more than twenty years. She's also a therapist and we've had many conversations dissecting both of our psyches. I told Vanessa of my challenge making this decision. I shared my concern that I had flip-flopped from being ready to sell my business to wanting to expand in such a short time. Was I being impulsive? Was I losing my mind?

Vanessa listened. And listened. And listened. And then she said, "Laura, for as long as I've known you, you've craved risk. You've always needed some element of risk in your life. It's okay. It's part of who you are." The MOMENT I heard these words it was as if the final piece of the puzzle had been placed. She was right. My lack of motivation was not for lack of passion, it was that there was something missing. Adding this element of risk and creativity, was what I needed. So I said yes to my landlord and The SweatBox Loft was born.

Opening The SweatBox Loft has been challenging, stressful and chaotic. It's definitely adding an element of risk to my life! But it's also made me feel complete, like all the parts of my brain are being attended to. I'm excited and motivated for this new adventure. Mostly I'm relieved to have this clarity. Sometimes my lack of focus and distraction is poor technology hygiene and bad habits. This time though, it was something else. It was that neglected part of my brain asking for some attention. I'm grateful to Vanessa for helping me shine a light on it.

What am I worth?

For the first time in my adult life I am in the position of not having a "real job." I am on a chosen hiatus from being fully d...