Dropping in – on and off the mat

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When I hear the phrase ‘dropping in’ I often think of surfers grabbing their best wave, but when Zaquia mentioned it in her yoga class it seemed to have a different meaning all the same. Then @yogagirl wrote about how yoga is so much more than an on the mat practice and that hit home, too. Then I had a chat with a friend who maintains a plan to move houses every decade to try out a new space and be as present as possible in her new community and that landed the trilogy. Seems the universe wanted me to see that ‘dropping in’ is far more than finding the sweet spot atop the ocean.

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People seem to find it in a variety of spaces. Some on a trail, a meditation cushion, a motorbike ride, a slope, a wave or wherever their own personal zen garden may be. But perhaps there’s more to it than that. Perhaps the main crux of that ‘dropping in’ is to have the skills to do it whenever the frenetic world seems to be flinging a fireball of chaotic nonsense directly at your head. Perhaps, in the last 8 years of my yoga journey,  every instructor who ended their class with a message of hope that yoga is found in life off the mat as much as it is on, was right. I have a feeling that that take away is worth its weight in gold.

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It’s never easy to carve out that time in the day to make it to the mat, but the aftereffects far outweigh whatever hassle or schedule reroute is necessary. You’ve seen the memes of the gloomy gray colored unicorn pre yoga and the sparkly, happy, rainbow emitting one after – almost every time, it’s true. If we can drop in when we’re there, why do we find it so hard to do so in everyday life?

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My world has been a bit more chaotic than usual these past few months and the lessons of yoga have been called into play far more often than before. When I can remember to take a breath and find the gratitude in a situation that seems dreadful – it’s yoga. When I can leave the computer and head out for a walk outside because I know it’ll make me feel better and be more efficient – it’s yoga. When it seems the world is upside down and every little thing is niggling at your sanity and you can take a minute to find patience and a smidgeon of normal – it’s yoga. And when something alters the routine and seems like it will impact your world negatively forever and shifts your frame of consciousness and confidence – it’s yoga that provides the clarity and reminders to pause, take the breath, find the gratitude and remember both perspective and impermanence.

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Sure, dropping in is easier to do on my mat or in my hammock when I have a soothing voice to guide my practice, but somehow those elements of yoga and the reminders to ‘drop in’ have an even greater significance off the mat than they do on. How can we channel that pause, that presence and that calm concentration and put it to use in the day to day? How can we remember that although decisions, society, the internet, family, politics and sometimes endless negative insanity seems to be swarming in our direction that change happens, positivity is necessary, mindfulness matters and that what feels like an insurmountable pile of ick might ebb if we can take that pause, remember to breathe and know that although the tumult is palpable it can’t possibly last forever?

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This is when dropping in is paramount. This is when those yoga skills show up. It doesn’t matter that you’re not in downward dog, out of your meditative safe space and miles away from the nearest studio. It doesn’t matter that you’re at your office, picking up the kids from school or having negative energy hurled in your every direction. It matters that you can channel it, that you can find the way, that you can remember what it feels like when you stay in the moment, remember that nothing stays the same forever and that as Glinda the Good Witch says ‘ you’ve always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself’.

IMG_0279Whatever works for you to glean those moments of ‘dropping in’, do it. If it’s carrying an essential oil, consciously dreaming of sparkly unicorns, taking five cleansing breaths or knowing that you have the right to remove yourself from a situation that’s not bringing out the best you – do it. To be the best for anyone else, you first have to be the best you. For me, I’m going to do my best to remember Zaquia’s words and practice ‘dropping in’ as much off my mat as I do on. Perhaps what irked me before will bother me a little less. Perhaps words that might have before flung me off kilter and wrecked my afternoon won’t spiral me out of control for as long as they before did. Perhaps I’ll remember that I can say no to an offer that doesn’t seem right for me, or perhaps I’ll ditch the office or the dishes or the chores and head outside for a walk in the sunshine even if it’s only for five minutes.

find your yoga

Find your yoga, channel your ability to ‘drop in’ and find that pause that changes everything. And if your ‘drop in’ happens to involve a white capped wave off the coast of awesome – more power to you. Perhaps we’ll all take the opportunity to find the courage to search for that sweet spot of calm, grace and gratitude more often.

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Choosing you

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Sometimes it’s hard to choose you. For some reason, so many of us have grown up thinking that putting ourselves first or on the same playing field as others is selfish. Somehow we’ve been indoctrinated into the belief that everyone else matters more than we do, that work relationships mean we ‘should’ suffer, that we must ‘bend’ to what others need and that we put our feelings aside to make others feel better. Why on earth were we ever taught to think we matter any less than anyone else? Read the rest of this entry

One month, two weeks; Monday

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Exactly one month ago we left New York headed west to San Diego. Five seconds shy of leaving with sustenance from the bagel store, the husband slipped on black ice and that was that. The six day road trip included an urgi care visit in western Pennsylvania, an ortho clinic visit in Kentucky, amazingly compliant ADA hotel rooms and kind people along the way, a visit to the Louisville Slugger Factory, barbecue in the car in St. Louis and two weeks (exactly two weeks today) later a tibial plateau fracture surgery by a military/baseball affiliated surgeon in San Diego – this was a different kind of road trip. Read the rest of this entry

Seeking home

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Home. For some it’s the beach, the mountain or the smell of a clean sheet. For some it’s a meadow, a valley or the smell of the leaves after the rain. For some it’s traditions, the aroma of baking bread or the sound of family waking up underneath the same roof. For some it’s a place, while for others it’s a feeling. Home is an interesting concept. As a child – home was my nuclear family, the house in which I grew up, the only street on which I lived and the town to which I was associated. Home was a short walk from the high school, down the block from the youth group, twenty minutes from the beach and about an hour from sleep away camp. Home was the people, an address, an abode, a town and a state to which I referred when introducing myself. Damn, a lot has changed. Read the rest of this entry

Finding healing spaces along a bumpy road

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Since the early days of December – it’s seemed as if the world has been spinning on its axis and we definitely feel as if it’s about to fling us off to a bumpy stop or crash landing on direct impact. If I could raise my hand and ask the ride conductor to slow it down and let me off, I would – but I’m not sure that’s how this ride goes. So, we’re taking a chance, standing on the ledge and going to make the jump before we get spit out and have no idea how many bumps, bruises and broken everything we’ll have along the way. I’m trusting that in one way or another a net will appear – but with or without the security – we’re leaping. Read the rest of this entry

Horcruxes, hindsight and happiness

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Prior to diving into a relationship with the world of Harry Potter, horcruxes and dementors were never part of my vocabulary. The creative juices of JK Rowling changed that and so much more. She added terms like hippogryphs and alohamora, wands and wizardy, put a face and voice to those things that go bump in the night, lent a figure to those things that suck out our happiness and always showed that although there might be great struggle, somehow good will triumph. Her boggarts and dementors were fairly shapeless yet the idea of their makeup held steadfast – their design is to suck the happy – somehow we’ve all encountered one or two in our lives. Read the rest of this entry

Growth in a cup of coffee

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Travel has always been my vice. A friend of mine used to tell me that the reason she thought I loved travel was that it took me away from the reality of the everyday. She knew I loved the adventure but wasn’t certain that the day-today minutiae was for me (even though she knew that at the time I adored my profession). Needless to say, that from the beginning of my teaching career (and for many years prior to it and since) I booked a holiday for every break we had. Summers were spent working, but school breaks were meant for holiday relaxation. Read the rest of this entry

Shifts and lessons

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List after list exists dictating the ten most stressful life events; turns out we’ve got at least four going on simultaneously. The death of a loved one, starting a new job, relocating, searching for a spot to stay – choose your words, oy vey, oofdah, holy sh*t or whatever works for you; needless to say there’s a lot of ‘life’ going on at the moment. My friend Kris said, ‘at worst it’s a movie plot’ and my friend Stacey said, ‘your life is always an adventure’ – I imagine they’re both right. But damn, there are a lot of balls in the air at the moment and – I’m thinking at least one is bound to smack me in the head at any moment.

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In search of santosha

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palm springs

I think I’ve been on a constant journey with twists, turns, caverns, mountains, potholes, valleys, deserts and beaches. There’s no way my fifteen, twenty or even thirty year old self could conceptualize this winding path and I imagine each of those moments were significant steps along the way. It’s shifted gears, changed direction, sought guidance, considered progress, gotten stuck and reached for paths unknown, but where it’s going is anyone’s guess. Read the rest of this entry

Living in the in between

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Here we are in the in between. Those moments of everyday that we might not think will be the ones we talk about later – these are those. With the insanity of December madness behind us and the future of another blank slate in front of us – we’re in the in between. The days (like all others) that we do our best to make the most count, find the most joy, get stuck and get unstuck, giggle, cry, dream, build, manifest, create, jump, sing, play and make magic. These, like all others, are those bonus days…now we have to remember that!

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Sometimes life gets in the way. You find your happy, grab on tightly with both hands and sometimes it slips beneath the surface. In a miracle-like matter, perspective jumps up and smacks you in the face and you’re back. You build a tribe of magical people who show up in your life when you need it most, never falter when called upon and are always open to providing those mindful messages and moments of laughter that we all, without question, need. But often, we get swept up in everyday hooey of stuff and forget that smile, forget that magic and forget that we too can create and cultivate miracles of our very own. Living in the in between, those days where the year has begun yet you’re not sure the direction it’s headed, we need to grab on tight and get that happy.

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It’s funny, I used to think that finding your happy meant going out and changing spaces. That the search for that happy would take you around the globe, to cities and countrysides, from beaches to boardwalks and everywhere in between and someplace hidden amongst the geography you’d uncover a rock and there you’d find your happy. Although the journey is fun, enticing, mind-shifting, perspective changing and definitively inviting, I was wrong. Finding your happy isn’t only about geography, it’s not only about longitude and latitude, it’s not only about a specific spot – it’s more about you than we choose to believe. Trust me, I still FIRMLY believe that there are places filled with more ease than others, spaces that make me feel better in mind, heart, body, spirit and soul than others and spots I’d choose to rather be because my heart smiles far more when I’m there than when I am not. But somehow, deep down, that happy is in us. Whether we’re talking about chemical reactions, thought processes, mindfulness, attitudes, perspectives or everyday outlooks and beliefs – that search for happy is perhaps not as solely intertwined with geography as I first thought.

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It’s hard in the in between. Those seven days of the week where teachers aren’t counting days till break, where there’s no big commercial or religious holiday on the rise, where the sporting calendar is in between the start and those ones that ‘matter’, when that next holiday booking is far beyond your reach – when it’s a plain old Tuesday – that’s when it matters perhaps even more than we think. Find those moments in the middle to take a breath, count your blessings, laugh with friends, play outside, get your rest, eat something you enjoy, practice kindness, take a class, delve deeper, smile, hug, laugh and dream. These are the days that will make up the stories of the future. Whether you believe it or not, each of these are the bonus days – let’s make them all count.