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Breathe by szlea.

Fear less, hope more; Eat less, chew more; Whine less, breathe more; Talk less, say more; Love more, and all good things will be yours

SWEDISH PROVERB

Everything in life lately seems to be both sped up and slowed down simultaneously;  it seems that way when we are on the precipice of the new and the verge of jumping out of the old.  When things shift in our world they can appear seismic and one shift can propel multiple shifts–with the change of pace to our life steps we can, in the process, leave people, lose people, separate from what doesn’t work from what was and finding what could work in the new.  What an exhilarating thing–the possibility of possibilities!  And how frightening as well.

As I launch of the edge in my present life and change the pace of my step I am both these things–exhilarated and frightened.  I think about my clients, coming into a therapy office is often the precipice of life–wanting something new, something else than what we have created in our world but so afraid of what that change could mean.  For a trauma survivor change means opening up the wounds of old ghosts and the things that haunt us, having to look them head on, and find a way to move beyond survival living and finding a way to thrive in existence.  For persons suffering from the disease of addiction coming into therapy or treatment means owning up to the first STEP in the recovery process: Admitting that my life has become unmanageable and I have no control over my addiction.  But isn’t that the way with all of us when we have to own up to what is not working in our life–admit that there is a problem and that life has become unmanageable as is.  What a brave thing to do!…And how frightening.

And so I return to breath as I often do in times of stress and renewal.  Breath is our life source, our origin, our beginning and our end is all breath and silence.  So we can go back to the root of ourselves through breath and silence.  I teach my clients breath first to find a way to bear the daunting task ahead–change.  And I constantly remind myself to return to breath when life and those in it surprise, disappoint, injure, or exhilarate.  Yesterday I taught a workshop at THE RED TENT in Delray Beach, Florida and I told a wonderful and strong group of women the importance of breath and keeping one’s gaze on a fixed point in life and in yoga, because without it we cannot maintain balance through the chaos and storms that always, inevitably come.  I continue to remind myself, as I do my clients to do this–breathe, find inner silence, and keep my gaze on the fixed point in the distance.

What is your stability–the point you can fix your gaze on in your life?

When do you find silence and breath in your day?

20 minutes dedicated to YOU per day can make a vital shift internally to help find the resilience and resolve to deal with all the externals that life throws at us!

Give yourself some time, some care, and some room to breathe.

PLEASE TAKE SOME TIME CHECK OUT MY NEW VIRTUAL WORKSHOP now available at THE WISH STUDIO called, apropos, ROOM TO BREATHE!  I AM VERY EXCITED ABOUT THIS NEW VENTURE THAT HAS BEEN SOME MONTHS IN THE WORKS!

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http://wishstudio.com/events/

And I wanted to thank Durga at YOGA OF RECOVERY for linking to the EMBODY MENTAL HEALTH TIMES PAGE!  Thank you Durga for both your thoughtful interview and your virtual “shout-out” to the mission of this blog and EMBODY MENTAL HEALTH of being able to discuss on issues of integrative and complementary mental health!  See Durga’s interview in the previous post.

“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts.”

Thich Nhat Hanh


While my head stand, handstand &scorpion continue to leave a lot–and I mean a lot–to be desired for the first time in the history of my yoga practice I was beginning to feel very confident and proud of my tree pose.  How I could stand, tall and unwavering, in all tree variations with my foot perched high on my opposite leg and my boughs of strength and poise unbreakable.  And then I went and got distracted.

They say, wherever they are, that how you are on the mat is how you are in the world and every time I doubt it, even for a moment it comes back taunting and laughing in my face.  I Gould know by now, a such a strong proponent of the thread of connectedness between mind and body, life and the metaphors for life we are constantly presented with, how obvious the fact would be–lose balance and focus in life and it will carry into yoga or any practice of intention or attention.

As you prepare for tree you are always direct to find a point of focus on the wall opposite you–a distant immovable spot that you can fix your eyes on and use the stability of that spot to stabilize yourself.  The same can be said for life–we must fix our gaze on the things in our lives that are stable and unchanging, something secure and outside if there day-to-day chaos of living.

You are also told before entering tree pose to root your feet into the ground, plant each toe Into the earth and plant yourself solidly in that spot.  So, too, in life we must find ways to ground ourselves, remind ourselves where we are and secure ourselves stably into the foundational earth of our existence–so we can deal with the distractions.

When you are off-balance in tree you feel it right away, you lift off the ground and immediately begin to sway. Your fixed point on the wall seems to far &your mind is unable to focus wholeheartedly on it. Every shift in the room is unbearably distracting and every sweeping wisp of air feels like tornadic winds set on toppling you over.  So goes it too in life that when we are off-balance, not grounded in our intentions and stable base, and too full of thoughts and frenzy to fix our minds on a stable place everything feels overwhelming.  Every task , new venture , old workload, and duty seems like too much and we feel ready to collapse in frustration and dizziness.

In tree and in life sometimes we have to focus harder and work more dutifully to shut or much of the self-imposed chaos and storms in our path.  We have to take a breezy wind as it comes and not deem every wisp of air to be a storm and deal with every storm as I’d it were a wisp of air (now that is the hardest!).

I know that my excitement and happiness about all the many projects upcoming and those currently in motion have been both an amazing blessing and something in which I have gotten so engrossed that I have lost my balance in the present an in my tree pose.

I noticed it first in tree and then had to take the metaphor for what it was–a signal of self-inflicted burnout off the mat.  I need to breathe, ground, and fix my gaze at my own stable point of light band let life come as it comes and adventures unfold as they will.

On that note: with all the new change and projects coming together I am going to begin a new newsletter which I will be emailing out in the next few weeks…and hopefully every other month following that! You can email me at embodymentalhealth@gmail.com to get on the mailing list now!

Thanks bloggers and blog readers alike for all of your support & I look forward to sharing all that this new life adventure has to offer with all of you–one breath at a time!

Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony.

Thomas Merton

 

Thomas Merton, who also wrote the book of essays entitled No Man Is An Island, wrote with such clarity and certitude it is hard to argue with the above statement or the one in the title of his short stories.  I have often had a problem trying to defy both of his certainties in my life–living life in intensity rather than balance and in solitary defiance rather than union with all.  I have gotten better as I age, and learn, and read more of the wisdom of people like Merton, but somehow the roots of my old patterns seem to rear their ugly heads just when I think I am dissolving them.  Like in HEADSTANDS. 

Headstands are the symbolic and literal depiction of balance.  If you are out of balance you may be able to hide it in a shoulder stand or even a tree pose but somehow the headstand always knows.  And I am a flunkie of the headstand barometer of balance.  I fall, I flop, I roll out, and crumple up.  Fear, indecision, uncertainty, and lack of personal balance all come falling onto the floor with me and leave me feeling bare.  I am brutally aware of my faltering points in headstand, or rather not-in-headstand, in a way that somehow I can ignore in the world off the mat. 

But the headstand knows–and it towers over me in mockery of what I cannot yet do.  Let go enough to just give over to the unknown.  Find centeredness at my inner core unshakable even when the world topples on its head and flips upside down.  But I am working on it and I breathe and release and try again, lifting off the mat for a moment before crumbling down again. 

I may be floppy and fumbling and anything but graceful but I persist.  And one day, hopefully sooner than later, I will lift off with confidence and equilibrium–proving that even when the world flips 180 degrees I can stand firmly on my head and face it.

 HAVE A WONDEFUL, BALANCED , & CENTERED WEEKEND!

January 2020
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