Finding inner balance with yoga nidra

I’ve been blogging all week about how to restore the balance of your inner masculine and feminine to help restore vitality and joy. Yesterday I talked about Ayurveda as a resource and today I thought I’d share about Yoga Nidra.

When I became consciously aware that my feminine energy was tamped down and really blocked, I started looking for ways to introduce more yin practices into my world. Yin is another word for the feminine energy essence.

I think it was on a SoundsTrue Podcast that I came across a type of meditation called yoga nidra. Yoga nidra is also called “sleep yoga” because it’s done in the corpse pose (laying flat on your back) and you rest the entire time. If you are like me and that sounds like your ideal yoga class then definitely check it out! There are a ton of free yoga nidra meditations on various meditation apps, but one of the best resources I found was http://daringtorest.com/ . This organization is dedicated to help over-tired women to restore the juiciness of life and the woman who founded it has a whole program if you are interested. I’ve not done it but it look s awesome!

To share a little bit more about what Yoga Nidra is and is not, here is an excerpt from Dare to Rest’s Website:

There are no downward-facing dogs, warriors, or other physical postures. Yoga nidra is a sleep-based, conscious guided meditation in which your mind is still active. As your body relaxes, you become open to erasing emotional and mental patterns that are holding you back, combining the benefits of meditation with the benefits of sleep. Over time, consistent practice often leads to transformation in all areas of your life especially your sleep, energy, and emotions.

From Daring to Rest

One way I incorporated yoga nidra into my routine was that after I did daily oil massage I would then take a bath while listening to a Yoga Nidra mediation. It was heavenly! Talk about a way to recharge!

Have you tried any of these techniques? Any favorites?

Blogging series on reclaiming vitality and joy!

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You can change how the story ends

Like many, I’ve been gutted by the horrific story of immigrant children being separated from their families and detained. I noticed something as I scrolled social media. Whether my friends are on the right or left, the story they tell seems to finish the same way. “This is happening and we can’t stop it.”  Those on the left, out of urgent fear, point to where we are headed (“Do you see the parallels to Nazi Germany??”)–(to be fair, often out of a desire to make others see the horror and hope to stop it. Unfortunately I think this has the unintended effect of paralyzing us.) Those on the right may justify where we are headed as being okay (“Other leaders did bad stuff to immigrants, too, so what gives!). But both tend to say the same thing: this (bad/good) thing is happening and the outcome is inevitable. You do not have the power to change it.

Oh but yes you do.

When we witness horror, despair, injustice–unthinkable atrocities like children being separated from their families and detained–our heart wants to shut down. It is too much. I can’t do this. This can’t be happening. Or, serves them right, they broke the law, send them back home. I never said life was fair. Hearts shut down and fear/bitterness/anger takes hold.

This past week I was finding myself teetering between shutting down (“I’m going to ignore Facebook right now”) and also automatically writing the story’s ending. (“This is Nazi, Germany. This escalates from here. Next comes the [insert parade of horrors]”).

But then I realized that when my mind creates that ending, that is the ending we get. So I decided to choose a different endingThis story will end with love of millions raising voices and declaring, we demand ferocious, expansive love that protects, lifts, liberates, reunites and heals.  

I’ve decided that I’m going to create my reality based on love. I’m going to make the bold declaration that my choice has ripples — the people around me can also choose to be emboldened by love and light and join me in making a different ending to the story.

If you want love, be love.

If you want peace, be peace.

If you want hope, be hope. 

Every breath in, every breath out, I can choose to listen to the fear or to the love. Right now, in this moment, and for the next moment and the moment after that, I’m choosing to side with love. I’m daring to dream a new ending to the story. I dare you to do the same.

 

 

The heart wants what it wants

The heart wants what it wants. If the heart wants something that triggers intense pain or strong reactions, resist the urge to shut it down. The goal is not to repress what the heart is stirred to express (hopes, losses, despairs, longings) but rather to hold it all in love….and then release. Staying in the flow of life means feeling what needs to be felt. This alone does not make you a victim of life–it’s the story you tell about the feelings that create liberation or victimization.art by Lori Portka.

How about them (meditation) apples!

According to my meditation app, in 2017 I meditated an average of 16 minutes a day with a total of 37 hours of meditation! That doesn’t include my walking meditations, which I try to take every day.

2017 was the first year where meditation became a habit. I noticed if I didn’t meditate. (Or to put it another way, my family usually noticed because when I didn’t I was an irritable cranky-butt.)

I don’t need more convincing on the benefits of meditation, but if I did, this story might seal the deal. A few weeks ago I saw our family doctor for a well check and I had my my blood pressure/pulse taken. My blood pressure was really good but that didn’t surprise me because I’ve shed some weight.. What I was not expecting was my resting pulse to be so low. My entire life I’ve had a fast pulse. Weight loss and exercise never really impacted it much–even at my lowest weight and highest amount of exercise, my heart rate stayed stubbornly high.

This new rate was by far the lowest it had ever been. In fact, it was so good that I had a hunch it might be getting close to my husband’s heart rate range. The dude runs three miles a day and has the healthiest heart rate of pretty much anyone I know.

Well, well, well. Guess whose resting heart rate is now LOWER her husband’s? This gal’s. 

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Totally. Amazing.

Have you seen unexpected results from your meditation routine? Feel free to share!


Want to brag about your heart rate too? Share and follow posts on Facebook and Instagram!

 

“Trust the process”

At least, that is what my wise-woman self tells me.

Trust the process.

artwork my own.

The process is not linear.

The process will not be understood by your monkey mind (which undoubtedly will want to dictate the process and will fail miserably).  

The process may be met with all your defenses. The sudden need to sleep. The sudden need to hide into a book. The sudden need to shove mouthfuls of popcorn into your mouth while reading said book.

If your body says rest, rest. If you body says dig in, dig in. If your body says, “you are putting up your defenses” then stay curious. 

Allow your partner to call you out (they always will). Allow your dreams to speak to you (make sure you’re listening).

Move. Shake. Walk. Dance. Tickle. Flail. Kick. Conga. [really wise self? Conga?]

Walk, relax, meditate in savasana.

Self-care, self-care, self-care. And then some more.

The sun will rise again. It didn’t disappear, it was just out of view. Relax into the orbit of your life.

Holiday self-care: visions versus reality

Me every year before Christmas season:

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This year I’m going to make healthy choices for myself to stay grounded. Like, stick to my calming decaf teas instead of coffee, which my body tells me feels so much better.

 

Me yesterday:

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GIVE ME ALL THE COFFEEEEEES.

Before the holidays:

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I’m going to buy gifts early and ship in plenty of time to reduce stress!

Me this week:

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OH CRAP OH CRAP WHY DON’T I HAVE PRIORITY MAIL BOXES! I’LL TRADE MY FIRSTBORN AND A COFFEE FOR ONE RIGHT NOW!

 

Me before Christmas:

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We will make homemade hand-crafted thoughtful teacher gifts made of love and unicorns

Me two days before the last day of preschool:

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PEACE OUT, MAKING MY THIRD RUN TO THE STORE TO BUY GIFT CARDS!

 

Merry Christmas everyone. May you stay sane amidst the chaos and find time for self-care. (Real self-care. Like, time to breathe deep and tune out the noise. Coffees are optional. Though I am totally drinking one as I type this.)

 

Keep the faith, but reckon with the present

Keep the faith, but reckon with the present.

That’s the mantra that came to me recently during a walking meditation. (Walking meditation=me walking, trying not to have incessant mind-chatter and instead trying to breathe deep and stay present. Occasionally it works!) Well, the mantra keeps ringing in my ears lately, probably because I haven’t been following the mantra. I’m not sure if it is the holidays and their capacity to bring out grief, or the fact that we are nearing the end of one HECK of a sober year (though I still contend that 2016 was worse), but it seems every new day brings reckoning of truths I’d rather not deal with.

I’m old enough to know that what resists, persists, so reckon with them I shall. That doesn’t mean I always do so immediately and quickly.

Take for example the story of the misplaced lost driver’s license.  I recently misplaced my driver’s license. I resisted the idea that I lost it. So certain that I would find it, I didn’t deal with it for mumble-mumble-seven-days-mumble.

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I lose things so frequently that I’m asking for this guy for Christmas so my family doesn’t have to go, you lost your damn glasses again??? Apparently I need more of these in my life. (From https://www.uncommongoods.com/product/owl-eyeglasses-holder)

I literally had to bribe myself with a fancy starbucks coffee to get myself to go to the DMV and replace the license yesterday. And. . .while they took a downright horrible photo of me with what can only be described as CRAZY EYES--overall the whole thing was pretty painless. It turns out my identification is “verified” in the system (whatever that means) and I didn’t even have to schlep fifteen forms of ID with me to get it taken care of. So much mental energy thinking about it and really, what for? I got a coffee out of the deal. I got a crazy-eyed photo out of the deal. I’m good with the law. What was the problem here.

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I feel your pain piggy. 

The moral of this story is that the reckoning is sometimes easier than the thinking about the reckoning. The heartaches, the fears, the unknowns, the unspeakables, the not-pretties, the lost objects, all the junk you just don’t want to think about or deal with. . .just like my lost license, I have a hunch they won’t magically resolve on their own.

Of course, I’m holding onto the fact that mantra has another part to it: keep the faith. I mean, there is only so much compost to be made from all this sh*t, and I am told it helps to grow beautiful gardens. This too shall pass. 2018 is around the corner and I have a hunch maybe, just maybe, good things are in store. We survived 2016, and 2017, so hey things have got to chill out eventually right? (If not, we can always look at my cross-eyed DMV photo and have a good laugh.)


What do you have to reckon with that you are resisting? You can do it, really you can.

Be here now (no, really!)

What does it look like to be here now?*

(*I started reading Be Here Now, the classic Harvard-prof-drops-acid-expands-mind-seeks-enlightenment-goes-to-India-discovers-guru-but-guess-what-the-guru-is-in-us-all book. It’s awesome. I can’t put it down.)

Let me back up and first say that I used to believe be here now was a way of escaping reality. What do you mean, be here now? I need to think about next week’s fall festival at my daughter’s pre-school which means making a “princess-witch” costume (which is not a thing but my daughter has envisioned it so we will make it a thing). And I need to think about the mortgage payment next week, and blah blah blah blah blah.

I’m starting to really get that being in the here and now is not escaping all of that, no, but in many ways is RECKONING with all of it. Let me give you an example. 

In the here and now I realized that my life was out of balance. In the here and now I realized I was experiencing stress–because all those worries about all the stuff I had to do came bubbling up in the here and now–and by sitting and staring at it in the face I reckoned with it. And in the next here and now (which is not this here and now) I made some hard choices about volunteer gigs I had promised and realized I’d overextended myself (something I do) and in the here and now I said, I cannot do this, something’s gotta give. And in the here and now I cancelled commitments I very much feared cancelling for fear of letting others down, and I faced some shame, gave some love to the shame, and reckoned with it all. Stuff that if I’d pushed away and pushed away would have likely bubbled up in more dramatic ways down the road.

In the here and now I reckon with the fact that I drank too many margaritas with my husband on date night (ok and ate too many chips and salsa too) and saw my weight loss successes diminish. (OUCH.) In the here and now I see that it was easier to blame my husband for the morning’s snafu trying to get our daughter out the door rather than facing the hard reality that she simply struggles with separation anxiety and it is what it whether I like it or not! In the here and now I look at all the laundry, so much laundry, a lot of clean (YAY) but not put away, some if it dirty (sigh) and I think, yikes why can’t I get it together. In the here and now I respond to that critical voice with, hey Sarah I love you doing the best you can juggling the mess of life.

There is no escape in the here and now. There is no hiding in the here and now. Here and now is HARD. It is hard with marriage and a kid. It is hard with the stuff we don’t want to see. But when we see it and face and and release it…wow it transforms.

How can you sit in the here and now? What might you reckon with if you do so? I’m cheering you on. You got this.

~Sarah