September 17, 2014 at 10:05am
I have a story for you. About intention & action. And I’m not quite sure how to tell it just yet - because it involves learning something I thought I *already* knew on a deeper level. This is how it works, I know - practice (life) is a constant unfolding and there is a difference between intellectual knowledge and experiential understanding. Still, I am often surprised by these realizations - and grateful for the opportunity to learn. // Here it is, as well as I can say it, right now. Our intentions can have an actual physical impact on our bodies, our experience, and our interactions. So I’m choosing my intentions consciously, care-fully. I’m trusting that my values guide my life in ways I may never see. I’m trusting that one of my highest values has a hell of a lot to teach me about living. Talk to me about your physical or concrete experiences of intentions or values in action. I would love to hear. #trustlove #iampracticing #whatneedstobesaid
September 15, 2014 at 2:54pm
Something has shifted in my practice recently, and I’m not quite sure I can put it into words. It just feels a little… different. This morning, my body called for precision - a set & balanced sequence (thank you, Andrey Lappa) a reflection of the structure I’m welcoming to support my transition into school and studies while I continue to serve clients and fellow practitioners online and in person. Afterwards, I revisited this pose again, yin style, for a few minutes.
Years ago, I never dreamed that my body could do this. Now, it’s one of the only poses that can effectively re-set my sacrum, while bringing needed space to my hip flexors. Breathing here, I actively lengthen my tailbone. I practice connecting to the tissues deep within my low belly, hips, pelvis. Sometimes I meet sensation, some muscles I can consciously control… In some breaths I meet silence and I inhale into that possibility. I explore where I can soften while maintaining safety in my knees and low back, and where active engagement and support are fundamental. I commit to being here, with my body, with myself, with whatever comes up. I commit to listening, even if (it seems) quiet. I commit to being present for this experience right now, acknowledging and releasing the distractions my mind offers up.
"The difficulty of defining contact and presence must be acknowledged before we continue. We can experience them, we can feel them in others, and we can be moved by them, but because of their preverbal nature, they are almost impossible to put into words. Presence and contact should be the foundation of the healing and educational professions, yet outside the experience itself, we have no language to describe them. The power of presence and contact is in the experience, and it cannot be nailed down to a “this” or a “that”. Their magnetism is that they cleave straight to the heart, because they are the language of the heart. Making contact from an embodied presence communicates the essence of living things. At it’s most profound, it is the voice and expression of the human spirit. Writing about contact and presence, then, is trying to put into words what is basically a nonverbal experience. In order to understand these elements of bodily wisdom, we need to free ourself from logic and consecutive thinking and to listen with our body and an open heart.
…We must realize that the ability to perceive, connect with, and assist someone else is directly related to the depth of connection we have with ourself.”
Richard Strozzi Heckler, The Anatomy of Change, p 116-117
These very first readings are giving words to my core philosophy (which I’ve only been able to describe bluntly as “Presence trumps everything”) and affirm the intuition that brought me to study bodywork. I have no idea where this path leads, but it’s so clear that it is mine.
September 4, 2014 at 8:32pm
Tonino: What exactly do you mean by “wild”?
Turner: I mean something that is self-willed, autonomous, self-organized. Basically, it’s the opposite of controlled.
You can see the wildness in the movement of the glaciers, or you can track it in the star formations of the Orion Nebula. Wildness is everywhere. It starts with microscopic particles, and it goes more than 13 billion light years into the cosmos. It’s in the soil and in the air, it’s on our hands, it’s in our immune system, it’s in our lungs - where there are two thousand bacteria per square centimeter! In a certain respect, much of what we consider us is in fact not us. We breathe and wildness comes in. We don’t control it.
From The Sun, August 2014. Interview by Leath Tonino with writer Jack Turner.
Gratitude to my friend Donna for sending me this - she knew I would love it, and oh, do I.
These boots. They’ve been to Scandinavia, the northern presidentials in NH, the Lost Coast and Yosemite - and now back here to my childhood stomping grounds. I love these boots. I love these woods. I love this river. I love this body that allows me to visit these places. #latergram
September 3, 2014 at 3:04pm
What are you practicing today friends? I would love to hear about it. Today, I’m laying out a pile of books that (literally) weighs as much as the pack I just carried over Franconia Ridge - and I’m practicing mindful preparation. It includes moving slow and resting (at the beginning. Practicing this now - and intending to continue) - organizing materials and laying out my calendar, listing my current obligations and projects to get some clarity on where I’m spending my energy, and what’s most important. I’m practicing being here in the excited/nervousness of beginning, in the overwhelm at the thought of being a student again and of this volume of material and practice that my brain and body will be absorbing over the next 12 months. I’m practicing being here - not in the wondering or the ideas or the exciting or worrying daydreams. All these practices come down to this, again, over and over. Be here, with this task. Be here with the feelings it brings. I am right where I need to be - and this is not a reassuring mantra, for the moment it feels like a simple fact. #iampracticing
No cell service. No wifi. I almost forgot what that’s like. Just me, my breath & body, a lot of laying in the grass in between rainstorms, a lot of staring out the window, a lot of silence, a lot of space. Yes.
Throwback to this weekend. Saturday, preparing with seated practice to “teach” about teaching - on our biggest obstacles (aka our fears) and how to mitigate them, our biggest assets - about how much of it has to do with showing up and being present exactly as we are (as opposed to who we think we should be) so that we can connect, and respond. About how our fears sneakily put us at the center of everything and prevent the natural relationship and sharing of responsibility between teacher/student/topic or tradition/and our background - everything that brought us here and informs who we are as teacher & student. About being clear on why we’re doing this, and about teaching as translation. And ever since, I’m thinking about it - more extrapolations, more that I didn’t have time to share, more that I’m still exploring and practicing, more that I’m still not even clear on myself. And this too, I told them, is part of it - trusting that they’ll get something out of it, trusting the shared responsibility of the learning environment. Trusting that it’s enough. It’s enough. And it pushes me to keep practicing, keep thinking, keep growing and refining. I love this work that is ever challenging, ever humbling. I love that most of the time I can laugh at myself in the process. I love the moments that are my why, those moments in practicing and teaching when I AM (Whole. Present. Connected.) fleeting though they may be. #latergram #yogateacher #yoga #iampracticing
Every gesture offers
but there will be no applause
for even the most beautiful of your thoughts—
the one in which you wash ashore, beyond thought,
and set off into the hinterland
of laughter and
in advance, over and over,
forever let me say bravo.
Bravo, Andrew Johnston (thanks, Amanda Oaks)
I read this as my spirit talking. “There will be no applause. Make your gestures count. Make sure they matter - to you." For that, forever, the spirit says bravo.
August 7, 2014 at 4:06pm
The submission deadline for Perspectives on Yoga Practice is approaching (this Sunday!) I would love to see your submissions to this effort to expand the visual culture of yoga by bringing stories of direct experience into the mix. Check it out at the link in my bio or cut & paste this address: http://www.melhunt.com/yoga-the-subtext/
:: Nothing in my mind seems to want to settle today. Don’t let the closed eyes fool you - they are simply my way of shutting out external information - even here in the relative solitude of my own space I can allow myself to be distracted by the kitchen detritus, the floor that needs vacuuming, the sound of the dryer, my husband working on the couch. There is some serious effort to focus behind those eyelids. I spent a good bit of time just playing, doing all sorts of things I can’t actually do - because they require lazered attention, in those moments. When I move on, the shallow breathing and wild mind return. In every position requiring some opening, my body leans in, hungry, and so I follow… Even though opening my ribs is NOT the thing that usually settles my mind. I hope, against the evidence of prior experience, that giving my lungs some more room will do the trick. I also know, from prior experience, that the messages of my body work in mysterious ways, and sometimes those signals get crossed with the messages of my mind. I’m not sure, any longer, whether I’m following my body or my mind and so I simply decide not to worry about it. The wildness continues and I let it, without adding frustration to the mix. I finish my seated postures and come into a fidgety savasana. Would it have been better to practice in a different way today? Maybe. Would my mind be a little more settled? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, my body feels open in a lovely way - even if today, my mind hasn’t followed suit.
I’m not talking about the things we need to remember, although that also applies. I’m talking about the wild water of our thoughts - that heavy bucket sloshing, setting us off kilter. Get it out of your head and on paper (or the screen). It doesn’t matter if it’s messy or half-formed or something you’d rather not ever-ever-EVER have another person read or know. Write it out, scrawl, move that pen. Pour those thoughts out, dump them fast enough that you don’t have time to judge them. Sometimes, it’s the only way to empty out, to gain some space and clarity, to know what you think and to choose to be guided by those thoughts - or to disregard them. Breathe. Hit delete. Crumple that sheet of paper (burn it if you must) - or close the book and put it away, for another time when you need reminding. #amwriting #amjournaling #iampracticing
"8/1. Here I am again, 8/1, awake and dreaming." This, from my journal, in the wee hours of this morning. If dates are just arbitrary, why does my body know? Why is this crossover into my birth month a little wild? Last year it spawned Love More, Give More and the inception of #perspectivesonpractice which have shaped the entire year. It’s 8/1 again and I’m lazing for a few more moments. Because refueling, rest and sleep are important. And now it’s time to get up. I have work to do.
July 30, 2014 at 11:16am
Today, you’ll find part 2 of a beautiful conversation with yoga practitioner and teacher Rachel May over at #perspectivesonpractice (link in profile) This “interview” is more like a set of teachings on yoga practice - on the change that we sign up for as practitioners, the discomfort that can come with that, and taking responsibility for our feelings are all topics that she shares here - check out part 1 for a beautiful and startling description of embodiment, duality, and Ganesha’s true role of helping us to SEE our obstacles, so that they can be removed. #iampracticing
This. Again this. I would like to be able to say “this.” every morning, boredom or beauty, ease or frustration. To welcome it all (maybe?) or at least, to be with it, breath with it, to *live* it. Mornings like this it’s easy. It feels good. Trees and damp grass. Cool earth and hot sun. Breathing and moving and letting an ant off on a nearby blade of grass. Outdoor yoga may be my favorite yoga ever, asana or hiking or just sitting with the sound of the birds and the breeze. Taking advantage of the setting here, now, on a tiny weekend breather, moving through my physical practice, working out the morning stiffness, adjusting for the uneven ground, laughing with the way it shifts my balance, pausing to breath, to stabilize, to normalize. Absorbing the sun in savasana. Feeling steady, wide open, whole.
This. This is one of those mornings where I feel so incredibly grateful for this body, what it does automatically all the time without my intervention, and what it does because I ask it to. What a gift. Amazed at this practice, it subtleties and it’s bigness - more than ever being in any specific position that might give a thrill - the details, the refinements, the process, are what keep it fresh and new - and what keep me grounded, fascinated, passionate - what give me the tools, the ability to be here, to enjoy it all. What a gift. #yoga #yogaeverydamnday #yogateacher #childspose #balasana #thesubtext