Tag Archives: effort

The Feeling of Peace

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What if I didn’t have to try so hard to succeed?
What if all I needed to do was breathe and see
and open my heart to the feeling of peace?
I give everything I have
and a part of me says
This isn’t enough.
I’m learning to listen to another part.
It’s quieter and deeper under
and I have to get still
in order to hear it and feel it.
When I tune into this part,
I remember.
I don’t have to try so hard.
I can breathe and see
and open my heart to the feeling of peace.

Can You Relate?

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So what WOULD happen
if I stopped trying so hard?
I mean, would the world spin off its axis?
Would the universe become unhinged?
Would people think less of me?
The answer is definitely NO to the first two,
and MAYBE to the third,
and in the end,
what does it really matter?
How do I stop trying so hard
after years and years and years
of my nervous system believing
that I would die if I didn’t?
I take a few breaths
and sigh loudly as I exhale.
I feel my body soften and relax.
My heart opens a little more,
my belly isn’t clenched so tightly,
the knots begin to untie.
None of this makes sense,
but maybe some of you can relate?

Momentum

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Once you get the ball rolling
it’s easier to keep it rolling
than it is to locate the ball
that once rolled into a dusty
corner and was eventually
forgotten.
Keep the momentum.
Anything counts.
Walking.
Brushing your teeth.
Sitting.
Breathing.
Chanting.
Laughing.
Dancing.
Singing.
Praying.
Playing.
Anything can count as a practice
if attended to every day
with a clear intention to awaken
as a result of your diligence.
Your momentum
builds strength and persistence.
Thank you for your willingness
to do the good work that
will help us all remember
who we really are.

Observing the Perfection

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After going and and going
and trying and trying
and wanting and wishing
and regretting and fixing
and pushing and pulling
negotiating and resisting
and persevering and persisting
achieving and believing
failing and wailing
delaying and replaying…
I’ve come to realize
that all I’ve been seeking
and all I’ve been wanting
is what I already have,
is who I already am.
And so I settle into
a quieter version of myself…
one who sits, listens,
waits and watches,
observing the perfection
of this unfolding,
ever evolving universe.

Trying

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I keep trying so hard.
Trying to be good.
Trying to be wise,
to be skillful,
to be knowledgeable,
capable,
cheerful,
likeable,
worthy of love and respect.
Hustling for my self-worth
is an endless battle.
If I could just put down my weapons,
walk away from the front lines,
go to a quiet place,
get still
and breathe,
I might become attuned
to the inherent goodness,
the worthiness that is my birthright.
But how after years of training for war
do I give up the fight?

Writing 101, Day 1: Unlock the Mind and Loosen Up!

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When I began this blog at the turn of the new year, all I knew was that I wanted to write something every day, and I wanted to examine my real life experiences through the lens of yogic philosophy.  I was tired of making every excuse under the sun for not writing–too tired, too busy, too…everything, so I decided the best way to avoid making excuses for not writing was to dive right in and write. A lot. Every day. For a year.  Initially I felt relieved to be finally writing regularly again, but  I quickly discovered that if I didn’t have a direction for this blog, then my inspiration might run out somewhere toward the middle of the year.  In an attempt to give myself some needed direction, I decided to connect my work with uncovering my writing potential–creative recovery–to the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous.  I decided that I was going to work through one step a month, on my own (no sponsor, no group meetings) and see where this work could take me.  I did quite well with that plan until April arrived and with it NaPoWriMo.  My work with the Twelve Steps was put on hold as I discovered a whole new world of creative freedom–the free verse poem.  Or perhaps I should say I rediscovered this world of freedom.  I had written many poems in my younger years but for one reason or another I sucked that part of my creativity into a deep dark hole inside myself and kept it locked up until NaPoWriMo 2014; the daily prompts and the community of bloggers who participated really helped me to liberate the inner poet and give her some fresh air, some room to breathe, some time in the sun. And she’s glad. I’ve been writing  a poem a day since then.

The decision to participate in Writing 101 came easily.  NaPoWriMo had worked so well for me, that another daily blogging challenge with a community of participants and a daily prompt seemed like a great idea.  I see Writing 101 as a way to continue building upon my writing by introducing fresh ideas and staying connected with a community of consciously evolving writers.

Today’s prompt was to just write:

To get started, let’s loosen up. Let’s unlock the mind. Today, take twenty minutes to free write. And don’t think about what you’ll write. Just write.

I was checking out the prompt from my phone and felt pretty excited about it. Yeah!  Free write! I can do this!  I opened up the laptop, brought up a new post window, and then promptly felt blocked.  So I turned to my old buddy, the journal.  Here’s what I wrote:

Dear Journal,

Have you missed me?  I have missed you.  I have missed you too, Mr. Jean-Pierre Lepine fountain pen.  What made me turn to you both after nearly two weeks away, you might be asking.  Well, I decided to participate in Writing 101 this month, and today is the first day, and the first assignment was to loosen up and just write for twenty minutes.  I thought, “Sure, no problem, yeah, I can do stream of consciousness for twenty minutes,” but when I opened up the new post window, I felt positively blocked.  I have been posting daily to my Yoga Mom blog since January 1, so it isn’t really that I feel intimidated or anything…no, it’s more that I’ve gotten into the habit of thinking about my audience when I write, trying to get in their heads, and I think a whole lot as I’m writing, and I edit and re-edit (and re-edit and re-edit) as I go, so it’s almost like I don’t know how to free write when I’m writing as Yoga Mom.  But YOU, dear journal, and YOU, dear fountain pen–no sooner do I bring you two together then I feel liberated, free to let out whatever wants to get out, and I don’t think, I just write, because no one else has to see this besides the three of us.  No audience, no pressure.  No pressure to perform, no pressure to be exactly just so clear, no agonizing over digging that ONE PERFECT WORD out of my vocabulary memory banks.   When I write in my journal, my writing brain gets a luxurious massage at a beautiful spa out in the country, with a view of majestic mountains and crystal clear blue skies.

When I’m writing in my blog, my writing brain is jumping through hoops, it’s climbing up those mountains it was staring at during the massage–it’s running uphill, it’s out of breath, it’s tired.  But still it ventures on…it climbs up to the glacier, puts on crampons, grabs the ice axes and freakin’ digs in…each step lots of kicking to find stable footing, each swing of the ice axe asking for ease but being met with challenge.  Air is thinner, lungs are gasping for breath, and still this brain keeps trying, trying to climb higher despite the amount of struggle involved…kicking and swinging and trying trying trying, hoping that up there on the peak there is someone who will tell me I’m as great as I think I should be…or maybe at the top there’s some kind of treasure, some reward for all of this effort…but there are no guarantees.  At any point I may lose my footing.  The ice might break around my axe, I’m not wearing a harness because I’m climbing solo, there is no partner keeping me on belay to catch me if I fall.  The scariest part though isn’t the potential for falling–it’s the fear that I’ll finally make it up to the top after so much work, after digging into my deepest reserves of will, after summoning stamina and courage I never knew I had–

and I’ll discover that there’s nothing here, except a nice view of that spa where I could have a hot bath and nice massage, but now there are many miles between me and that comfort.  I’m tired, cold, lonely, and now I have to climb back down.

And there you have it. I free wrote for twenty minutes and it felt good.  Now it’s time for my daily poem, and then my evening meditation practice.  Hopefully I’ll have the resolve to sit up straight and stay awake for longer than five minutes.  Maybe tonight is the night I will awaken to my true nature.

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Climb the mountain and then blow it down–
there is nothing to prove.
The mountain is an illusion,
and what you are seeking across hill and dale
across ocean and desert
in the forests, in the cities,
in the sun and the moon,
in every face,
in every place through all time–
It is right here, exactly where you are, always.
You need look no further than your heart.
For every question,
for every dream,
for every hope, fear, neurosis,
for every thought,
for every sorrow,
for every joy,
for every challenge,
there is one perfect response:

A full breath in and a complete breath out.

So breathe, child, and let it be.
There is no path to your destiny.
Your destiny is right here, now,
exactly where you are, always.

 

There I Go Trying Too Hard Again

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It doesn’t take much
and the self-doubt creeps in again
Yesterday I attended a yoga practice for myself
a very rare occurrence as I teach ten times per week
and the studio owner
who is also the head teacher
who is also my favorite teacher
was there
practicing  on her mat right beside me
the loudest voice in my head was the one saying
you’re not good enough
and you haven’t been practicing
and it shows
and you look foolish

what is up with that?
why is it so easy to doubt?
Yes, there was a sense of relief
to be freed of the duties of wife and mother and teacher,
for just a while freed of all demands others place on me
but the demands in my own head now had a chance
to yell louder, louder than my own children
could ever yell.
Distracting to the point that I almost couldn’t enjoy my practice.
Almost.
I managed to enjoy it anyway.

And now this blog…
I told myself
I promised myself
I convinced myself
that I wouldn’t pay any mind to stats
how many followers, how many likes,
how many comments, how many visits
I believed that I could manage
to make this blogging experience
an easygoing side project
a way to explore myself creatively
a way to be free creatively
without the usual pressure I put on myself
to be good, to perform, to be successful.
I told myself that I could even remain
somewhat anonymous
and indifferent to the opinions of others.
I lied.

I do care, and now I see myself trying.
There I go trying too hard again,
because some voice within
a very old voice
a scared voice
from some ancestor centuries ago
that never quite had his/her needs met
that voice is saying,
try harder, you need to make this work
your life depends on it.
you need to be loved, appreciated,
wanted, celebrated
you need to be venerated
your virtues extolled
you need to be worshipped
or else this is all meaningless
and you are worth nothing.

What?
Why is this voice so all or nothing?
Why can’t I be mediocre?
Please, let me be mediocre,
because I certainly can’t be perfect,
the standards are way too high.
And I can’t be a total failure either,
because here I sit, still wondering,
exploring, having not given up
in spite of all of the fear.

I want to not try so hard.
I want to rest, and relax,
accept, be at peace.
I want to celebrate what I am able to do
acknowledge where I have room for improvement,
and do some work there, without shame or guilt,
incubate these young creative impulses and then
let them be born
like a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis
or a baby bird from an egg,
flying when the time is right,
wings floating in space,
effortless and free.