One of the walls in my sweet little city garden is packed with Impatiens flowers. Even though I planted tiny pup plants just five weeks ago, they are exploding in vibrant colors and packed with new buds. As I admire this unrelenting bounty, I see these buds as little packages of possibility. I tend this garden and am surprised by the potent visual feast that defies logic since it came from that wild, crazy, Big Orange garden center. Then I say it out loud, “MY IMPATIENTS IS FLOURISHING”. Ha! Even though the spelling is different (Impatience) the irony is not lost on me since I’ll admit to being in a patience cultivating period, it’s just taking more effort lately. After all I am in many ways still the same kid that bent my bike training wheels up when Dad took too long to get them off. To be fair-he was on his way to do it-had all the tools in his hands and everything but then got sidetracked by a visitor. I waited and waited then suddenly, it hit me-wheels up baby, WHEELS UUUUP! There you have it my personal gateway to years of taking matters into my own hands to change things I didn’t want to accept.
The ability to be resourceful is an absolute advantage for many things and I’ll bet that you too have your own MacGyver-y gift for changing things that need it. Thank goodness we eventually figure out where these skills are best utilized to support us and those we love. Then again-it’s remarkable how beings as superbly capable as we are can entirely overlook another option for dealing with things we don’t like, things that are not within our power to change, that make us ill at ease and uncomfortable. We are conditioned to suppress or run from these things, to get to our happy place. We shield our hearts with armor and in doing so; we are actually creating less and less capacity to tolerate the very thing we are running from. The feeling tone of this response shows up initially as agitation, restlessness, discursiveness, headache, a stomach ache or my current favorite-impatience. If we can begin to notice and acknowledge these built in survival alarms we can act right then and there to train in techniques that support us rather than diminish us.
This really works-but you have to put in the time on your mat regularly so you can access the benefits of the practice more quickly when you need it most. Why not keep it simple and start by using your intention setting time at the beginning of practice to ask “How am I today?” “How does my body feel?” “What is my state of mind”? By asking and answering honestly, with the care and attention you’d give your best friend, you answer with 1 word, no more than 3. The area of the body that needs it most gets to answer. Whatever the answer, you repeat the word to yourself as a form of acknowledgment-something like “Ok knee hurts today. Got it” or “Ok, mind feels agitated but you don’t know why” or perhaps “Delighted by the Impatiens you took a chance on!” Next, send feelings of love and compassion to the chosen area or thought with the intention of simply allowing space for the thing that is going on to happen, it’s real so be with it for a few moments. This is done with the same attitude you might have when putting a supportive hand on the shoulder of a friend who needs it. That’s it, that’s the practice-just start there.
Its training ground to practice really listening to yourself which helps hone awareness skills for identifying first sign triggers of stress in privacy and safety on your mat. In time we learn to honor our body messages and respond with mindful techniques rather than suppress these caution symbols; which by the way-only exacerbates stress and dis-ease! As with asana, don’t try to quantify an outcome in a timeframe, just be consistent whether you can get to the mat or not. Try to take 30 seconds each day (same time each day) to ask the question/s followed by acknowledgement and your offering of love and compassion.
The beauty of this practice is that it reminds us to trust what we already know- that we can choose not to be overwhelmed by discomfort because what is happening now will not be what’s happening 60 seconds, 60 days or 60 years from now. Everything is always changing-the stuff we think is good, the stuff we think is bad. None of it lasts forever and life is just harder when we resist the elemental truth of impermanence. Moving through this life humbly risking, falling and getting up to risk again is what creates the texture for each of our stories. It’s actually freeing to relax into the teachings of impermanence; we can then use our energy to create the life that is waiting for us in the time we have to do it.
Oh! So you want to know if I got in trouble for turning my training wheels into the shape of a Flying Nun hat? Nah. Dad tried to hide his laughter. I think he knew he had his own little package of possibility.
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