Tag Archives: warmth

Happy Student of Life

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Flip-flops on my feet in February
Sun shines and warms my heart
Learning a new skill
Wholeness within myself
Excited about what I can
make, think and do.
Anticipating fun times ahead
Happy to be here, to be alive
Life as a constant experience
of creativity
Feeling fulfilled by the day to day stuff
Grateful for my health,
my family, my home,
my resources
Wonderful peace in breathing
Wondering what the future holds
Happy to have the option
of remaining present in body mind
Grateful for my teachers
A happy student of life.

NaPoWriMo 2015 Day 29: A Review

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It was so cold for so long
I thought you would never get here
And then you teased me
for a few delicious days.

Then suddenly, mercilessly,
Old Man Winter came back and cackled,
placed icy hands around my poor heart and squeezed.

I just about lost all hope as I struggled to break free
of that cold, bony death grip…
But now you’re back,
I think.

I’m hesitant now.
Before I celebrate your return I must know–
How long will you stay?

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The prompt for today:  write a review. It was really open-ended.  I thought I’d write a review of this spring.  It ended up being more of a confession than a review, but that’s okay. Poetic license.

Valentine’s Day Metta

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Snow falling
Wind gusting
Roads freezing
People hurrying, bundled,
running to the warmth of their homes.

But there are those without homes.

I wonder about the homeless;
I hope they will find shelter tonight.
Already this year,
six people in Baltimore have lost their lives
because of the bitter cold.

On this Valentine’s Day,
my heart breaks to think of it.
What  can I do now but send metta?

May all beings be safe
May all beings be free from suffering
May all beings have mental and physical happiness.
May all beings be at ease.
May all beings be happy.

Grateful Now

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Late afternoon,
and the shadows begin to lengthen into the street.
Little wisps of smoke
curl out of the neighbor’s chimney,
mingling with the wind’s frigid kiss.
The golden sun shines bravely
through the winter chill
and promises that one day
it will be warm again.
Inside our furnace runs almost continuously
trying to keep up with our desire for comfort,
for warmth.

I wonder about the homeless.
I hope they have some warm place to go.
I wish for them every comfort that they need–
shelter, clothing, food, community.

For one moment
somehow,
miraculously,
both of my children are quiet,
and I have this little moment to myself
to look around and see all that I have.

Grateful now.

Invincible Summer

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Invincible Summer

“Au milieu de l’hiver, j’ai découvert en moi un invincible été.”  –Albert Camus

I have seen the above quote translated in many different versions, but here I prefer the most direct translation:

“In the middle of winter, I discovered in me an invincible summer.”

Ahhhh, so beautiful.

It has been doggone cold in Maryland, and it seems like the winter will drag itself all the way into April.  Being cooped up in the house, always having to bundle up before venturing outside, and in general missing the sunshine has really worn my patience and my spirits thin.  So I’ve been thinking about old Albert’s beautiful words a lot lately, so much so that they’ve been running through my head several times an hour, seemingly on their own.

I think about the cold of this winter season, and the drear…how they manifest in the world of form:  ice, snow, bitter winds, nights that are long, the waiting, waiting, and more waiting for warmth, renewed life, renewed vigor.

And then I think about the winter that I have finally begun to face within me–the winter of my self, my spirit–and how this inner winter has manifested in my life:  darkness, loneliness, anger, resentment, rage, hopelessness, depression, doubt, envy, lack of motivation, holding on to things past their time because of a fear of letting go.  As I write these words, it seems to me on one hand as if I may never be fully  prepared to face the challenge of freeing myself from the bondage of my past, my conditioning, my genetic inheritance, and the choices I have made that haunt me.  On the other hand, it strikes me that I can greet this inner winter the same way I handle the outer one–I have no control over it, might as well be patient until the right conditions arise and things change naturally, of their own accord, when the time is right.

The yoga teacher in me seeks the balance that can be found between the two extremes of fighting to change and waiting for change.  Somewhere in there is Lorien, who can wake up and realize that she is doing the best she can, and know that it is enough to attend to the small details of childrearing, to navigate being in a marriage, to show up for work and pour her heart into teaching her students, and somehow manage to carve out time for self-exploration in the midst of all of her roles and responsibilities.

I want to believe that this process of realizing the awakened self in me can be just as natural as a flower opening in the light of the sun.  Just for this moment, I do believe it can be like this.  I can drop the ideas of pain and limitation, of toil and struggle and torment, and just let myself be who I am right now.  This knowing is the invincible summer in the midst of the seemingly endless winter.  No matter how much I am challenged by my doubts, fears, and regrets, and no matter how many beatings I may take from my inner critic, there is some wise part in me that holds my tenderest self with so much love and compassion that I know I have nothing to fear.  May I listen more and more to that wise part.

May I have the courage, strength, and endurance to do what needs to be done. And may I have the patience to allow the blossom of my true nature to unfurl when the time is right.

Note:  The picture of the blossom below was taken two days ago.  It’s a pomegranate bloom from one of my husband’s carefully tended banzai.  Such a cheerful sight in the middle of winter!

The flower of consciousness does not fade or wither, but grows more beautiful as time passes.

The flower of consciousness does not fade or wither, but grows more beautiful as time passes.

Heart Openings

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It was Valentine’s Day last Friday.  Saturday was the first time I went back to teaching after being ill the better part of the week.  Thinking of the recent holiday centered around all things love (and despite the holiday’s violent origins), I felt inspired to focus on heart opening in my yoga classes, incorporating awareness of the heart’s energy into our breath work and postures.

We began seated, and I asked my students to rest the back of one hand in the palm of the other, right at the heart center, creating a little cup with the hands–a mudra (hand gesture) of receptivity, a mudra of generosity.  I’m not sure of the exact name of the mudra, but after scouring Google images for some time, I came across this picture, if you’d like to have a visual of which mudra I’m talking about.  I asked my students to connect with their breathing while they held their hands at the level of the heart, to visualize they were taking the breath in and out through the heart.

Then I invited everyone to set an intention for their practice:

What is it that you want to receive (from this practice, the people around you, this world, this life)?

What is it that you want to offer (from your heart, to the people around you, to the universe)?

Breathing in, I asked them to visualize they were receiving what they wanted from the world around them.  Breathing out, they were giving what they wanted to share, radiating the energy of their heart outwardly, in all directions, without limits.

Then we released the mudra, shrugged shoulders up to ears, breathed deeply, and released the arms down.

Next we began moving with the breath.  On the inhale, we opened the arms wide, pulling the shoulder blades together on the back, looking up, lifting the heart.

On the exhale, we brought the palms together, reaching the fingertips forward, arms long, rounding the back, chin to the chest.

Opening, breathing in, take in what it is you want–let it in.

Exhaling, send out what you are willing to give, to share, to offer to this world.

We continued for a while, moving and breathing deeply, allowing the shoulders to warm up so that they might later be willing to stretch and open.

And then we moved to table top position and warmed up the spine with some rounds of cat and cow stretches.  Each time we established our movement with the breath, I asked my students to come back to what it is they want to receive, and what they want to offer, and to continue visualizing the breath entering and leaving the heart.

It is so easy to become stuck in the energy of the mind.   This is where we spend most of our time.  But it is possible to tap into wisdom beyond the knowing of the mind, to sense with the warmth, compassion, and understanding of the heart, whose capacity for giving and receiving is truly limitless.  If we are to tap into this heart wisdom, we need to remember over and over again that it is there. So keep calling your awareness back to your heart.  Breathe in and out through your heart.

We practiced a few slow rounds of sun salutation A and sun salutation B.   For the Sun B’s we held our warrior poses for longer, and incorporated more heart opening breath and movement with the arms and shoulders.

We practiced stargazer, revolved triangle, half-moon and revolved half-moon. We practiced a variation of tree incorporating a little back bend–more heart opening!

We started to wind down with a passive back bend, supported by a bolster, always returning to awareness of the heart, sending the breath in and out through the heart.

Then supported bound angle, with a bolster supporting the back parallel to the spine, so that shoulders could sink toward the floor, the chest could open, the belly could soften. I spoke to my students how the heart is considered to be the bridge between the physical world and the non-physical world.

It is important to meet the needs of this human body, to take care of it, to keep it well–but it is equally as important to remember the spirit in us that wants to be acknowledged, and nourished, and celebrated. The heart is the mediator between these two worlds, facilitating communication, that we might experience the totality of who we are, and from this wholeness, connect with others authentically–sharing warmth, compassion, kindness, and unconditional love.

And then our final pose, as we were settling into stillness, I asked my students to call into their awareness someone in need of love.  It could be a pet, a family member, friend, coworker, or just someone they knew, but I asked them to visualize this person bathed in the compassion, kindness, and warmth emanating from their heart.  To further help with creating a clear image in their minds, I invited them to imagine the heart center growing with green light.  The heart chakra is associated with the color green.

On the in breath, imagine the heart center glowing a vibrant emerald green, grass green, forest green–this light stretching and expanding.

On the out breath, imagine that the person who is in need of love is enveloped in this beautiful green light.  Maybe you say to yourself, “Well, I need a little love.” So imagine yourself being surrounded by this green light as you breathe out.  Or perhaps you want to visualize the whole planet Earth from space, and as you breath out, you imagine the entire planet is being bathed in this energy from your heart.  

This holding another being in the space of the heart, and offering the heart’s energy to them, is a very old form of meditation called metta–lovingkindness.

Traditionally you begin with offering this love to yourself, for how can you give authentically to another what you haven’t yet experienced  yourself?  I think, however, that we don’t have to wait to have a perfect feeling of self-love before we can offer this heart energy to others.  I’m still very much working on cultivating a genuine self-love and self-compassion that heals the hurts of the past and gives me lightness in this moment.  I’m such a perfectionist that if I waited and waited to find self-love before I offered it to another, my self-love would never be good enough and therefore I would never offer up what love I have found.  So I love now, with what I have…and I keep working at it.

And this is why we call it a practice.  Just to show up, to cultivate a little more awareness, a little more strength in this moment, gives us the momentum to keep moving forward on this spiraling path to awakening.

May your hearts be open, full of love and courage. May you know your worthiness to receive your heart’s desire, and may you trust in the beauty of what you have to offer, and to give it fearlessly to this world that waits for your gifts!

Namaste, my friends.

 

 

Fifty-Two

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Fifty-two–the number of weeks in a year.

Fifty-two–the number of cards in a deck.

Fifty-two–the temperature inside our house at 7:00 this morning, when we awoke and realized that the furnace wasn’t working.

Brrrrr! Husband got on the phone with the guy who sold us the furnace just two years ago, who promised to send someone out to look at it as soon as possible.

We set up space heaters around the table, put the kids in extra layers of clothing, and ate some oatmeal for breakfast. I felt uncomfortable, a bit inwardly disgruntled about the chill air. Again my morning routine was disrupted. How will I find a moment to meditate if I have to greet the technician and show him where the furnace is?

I asked my husband for help so that I could meditate before he left for work. He agreed, and I went up to my cushion. Shortly thereafter, my husband took the kids upstairs to my son’s room; I had already brought out my son’s toys for them to play with: trucks, an airplane, a train set.

Both of the upstairs bedrooms have their own heating/air conditioning units attached to the wall. Can’t remember right now what those things are called; they’re made by Fujitsu, they have neat little remotes, and they keep the rooms warm in winter and cool in summer. Thank the heavens those things were working; the upstairs felt like a tropical paradise in comparison to the rest of the house.

My meditation was interrupted a few minutes in by Alan the technician, who called to make sure I’d be home when he arrived to check out the furnace. Yes, my kids and I will be homethank you for coming. I tried to settle back into the meditation zone.

Then I heard Cliff come upstairs to spend time with the kids before he left for work. I heard the door opening and then him saying, “Oh, did you poop? Say, I pooped!” 

My son answered him, “Ah poopoop!

All this is happening right next door to my tiny meditation room, which doesn’t have its own heating/air conditioning unit, by the way. I wrap up with blankets every time I sit in the winter, because it’s pretty dang cold in there. Trying to focus. Trying not to listen to their conversation as Cliff changes Aren’s icky diaper. Grateful that Cliff is taking care of it and not leaving it to me.

Meditation finished, I joined the trio in my son’s room, and noticed a pungent quality to the air that only those who have changed many diapers can really understand or imagine. Cliff needed to get to work; after a few minutes he kissed us and took his leave. Yep, this air is unpleasantly odiferous, I thought to myself. We can’t stay in here all day. We might as well figure out how to be warm downstairs and let this place air out already. I brought the little ones back down with me.

I made us all some tea, wrapped the kids up in blankets on the sofa and settled them in with a movie. I kept moving to stay warm, tidying up the kitchen, the dining room, getting the day’s laundry sorted and ready for the washer.

I kept feeling annoyed that it was so cold. I can’t sew in these conditions. You can’t sew if you can’t feel your hands.

Alan the heating technician arrived, and he made a bee-line to the furnace in the basement. He came back up a short time later reporting that the inducer motor was bad and he would need to drive out to fetch a replacement motor; he doesn’t carry that part in his van. “There is a 99 dollar diagnostic fee, and the labor will be 185. So, $284 total.” Right then my son fell down, was fussing on the floor, and I saw little puffs of breath appearing in front of his face with each little whimper. Yes, it was that cold. That’s fine, I told him, Thank you.

I kept myself busy until Alan the technician came back. More laundry. More tidying. I noticed I was feeling increasingly impatient for the heat to come on, wanting Alan to return with the new inducer motor, wanting him to get the work done quickly so that the house could be comfortable again.

The whole  morning a realization had been slowly sneaking up on me, and I finally stopped and took a good look at it. Yes, this is inconvenient, this is uncomfortable, but this is finite. I have a house. It might be colder than normal, but I have a house. Imagine not having a house, no shelter, no bed. I know the heat will come back on at some point. Imagine being so cold that you are suffering from the cold, with no hope of being warm any time soon. Imagine being afraid that you might die in this cold, knowing that you have no place to take shelter. So enjoy this time, this contrast. The discomfort helps me to fully appreciate comfort. To see my children on the couch wrapped up in blankets, safe–what a wonderful luxury this is!

I got lunch together, again set the space heaters up around the table, and we ate. Alan returned, got to work replacing the faulty motor, and I had the kids once again wrapped up like little burritos on the couch. They were on to their second movie by this time.

Alan worked his magic; the heat came back on. By early afternoon the kids were settled into nap time, and I was working on a new sewing project, a lined zipper pouch. The warmth of the afternoon sun felt wonderful on the back of my neck. I felt gratitude for this warm house, this life.

It’s now late, 11pm. I’m in my meditation room, wrapped in blankets, feeling a bit cold, and really tired. My evening meditation will most likely be thirty minutes of me struggling to stay awake; it was a busy day and my body is exhausted. I’m tempted to skip the meditation and just go to bed, but I’ve committed to my meditation practice in the same way I’ve committed to this writing project, so I’ll sit down in spite of the resistance.

When I settle into bed this evening, I’ll bask in the warmth of a down comforter and a soft mattress. My husband and our two cats will be dozing away. I’ll close my eyes with a roof over my head, my two children nearby, safe, slumbering in their own rooms, a furnace downstairs that is working hard to keep the house warm.

I am the richest woman in the world.