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Every moment, be grateful

Yesterday evening's yoga teacher is not my favorite. I am put off by her very serious followers and by the tone of her classes -- plus, I always think she talks too much. And that's odd: when I consider that statement, I realize that some teachers whom I adore also talk a lot. It most likely goes back to that tone I mentioned earlier.

Nevertheless, she does, among the many things she says over the course of an hour and a half, sometimes come out with complete gems, such as the title of this post.

What would it be like to remember, in every moment, to be grateful?

I'm going to try this and see what happens. My guess is that it'll force me into the present, since gratitude seems like a Now activity. I'm grateful in THIS moment, for THIS moment, not hung up on past or future, where I generally get caught. What a way, also, to accept what comes, to embrace what comes, even if it's an email that would normally get my hackles up or another interruption of my train of thought while I'm at work...

Every moment,
Be Grateful



The question of vulnerability

I spent 26 weeks working with a coach in 2007, during my self-proclaimed Year of Me. I became interested in coaching mostly because I recognized that I could do a better job of communicating at work, and was particularly interested in working with Ian Blei because he starts from the enneagram. I'd recently done an enneagram test and found that I liked it as a way of understanding my own and other's reactions and styles. Ian is phenomenal, and I got so much out of the process.

The main thing that Ian showed me from the very beginning is that I had/have a tremendous fear of vulnerability, to the point that I created a carapace around myself, an impermeable and indiscriminate suit of armor. I could go on for hours about why, but that's not the point. Paradoxically, it turns out that letting down my guard and being vulnerable, actually makes me more successful at work and elsewhere. This was reinforced for me lately by something in "The Power of Now":

Until there is surrender, unconscious role-playing constitutes a large part of human interaction. In surrender, you no longer need ego defenses and false masks. You become very simple, very real. “That’s dangerous,” says the ego. “You’ll get hurt. You’ll become vulnerable.” What the ego doesn’t know, of course, is that only through the letting go of resistance, through becoming “vulnerable,” can you discover your true and essential invulnerability.

But I am stunned by the ways in which I continue to perpetuate the "hard" outer shell - which has been coming back to me lately when I consider people's reactions to things I say, which I think are funny but which it appears they interpret as evidence of my mean-ness. I am thinking, in particular, about certain snarky comments I've made of late about Joe's chronic coughing and divorce. I've had the impression, from things people have responded, that they think I am without compassion for him, without love, when honestly nothing is farther from the truth.

So I'm reflecting on my pattern of hard and snarky speech which is at odds with how I want to be in the world, and which really is a throw-back to the armor and the fear of vulnerability. More work to do!


Resting in the Heart

This morning's theme in yoga was that the earth is to the hips as the heart is to the mind, that you let your hips rest into the grounding of the earth and let your mind rest into the grounding of the heart - and from there the opening happens. Or as Ulrika said last Sunday, evolution happens, on its own, without forcing.

So for the most solid handstand I have ever felt, what was required this morning was that profound resting into the focal point of the heart, pouring my entire focus into it. Then came the straight, up-and-down power of the alignment - bam! I felt strength like I never have before in the pose, ease amidst the focus, and wow - super bonus! - solidity.

I don't remember having a single thought at all while I was upside down. I can only remember the sight of my hands and the floor between my hands, and the happy feeling of being totally lined up.

As usual, the physical practice is only the beginning. That happy feeling of being physically lined up is the same feeling I want all the time - especially off the mat. Especially at work. Especially when things or people feel challenging. If I rest into the heart at those times, hips into the earth, what evolution might be possible?


Pulling in to the midline

In reviewing 2007 and thinking about 2008, what occurred to me repeatedly was that this year is for me The Year of Balance. I worked really hard in a number of areas in 2007, invested in myself as was consistent with last year's theme (The Year of Me) -- 6 months of coaching, 4 months of yoga immersion -- took hardly any vacation, no vacation with Joe, fried myself at work. Came November, we went to see the CPA and I left with the question, "how much is enough?"

As in, how much money? how much work? Ye olde balance question.

What's so cool -- I think -- is that I get to explore the balance question in the physical arena as well, through yoga. This year now has a theme, and has a pinnacle pose that I'm working toward: Scorpion. In the same way you build each practice toward one pose, opening and preparing for that pose, this year's practice as a whole builds toward Scorpion.

The thing to remember about balance is that it comes from inside and comes from intention. I can't sit around and wait for external factors to line up perfectly so that I can "achieve" balance. Instead, I need to pull in to the midline -- physical and otherwise - to create the balance that radiates out and I can stand in.

That's way more than just finding a new job!

If I don't hit Scorpion in December, that's OK, too. Practicing balance in this concerted way is enough!


Beginnings: two funny things about seeing

In observing the actions and words of a particularly negative friend earlier this year, it struck me that You See What You Are -- meaning that your internal state determines how you see. Starting from a positive place, good attitude, optimistic expectations is not only more rewarding on its own, but surely makes for a better experience, even when things suck. Things will inevitably suck sometimes, but why start there?

Of course, this is just another reinforcement of the 3 A's of Anusara Yoga. Attitude comes first.

The other funny thing about seeing that struck me in January 08 is that The More You Look, the More You See. I'm obsessed with this one actually. I never really saw birds until I started bird-watching. Now I see them everywhere, in astounding variety, every day. And it isn't just birds. The same is true of coyotes, otters, bats. This morning, in fact, there was a coyote directly across the street from me when I came out to walk my dog in the early hours. I do think it's unlikely that there's been some boom in animals in my area across all species. I think it's more likely that once the intention is there, then boom - you're seeing because you're looking.

This second funny thing about seeing reinforces the first. Having my eyes open and having this observatory state of mind, then feeling the sheer delight of seeing whatever creature is there, takes me outside me, broadens my inner space, so that I am genuinely happier and shine that out. I am happier, so I see happier.

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