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” There is more to life than increasing its speed.”  
Mohandas K. Gandhi
A common mantra within addiction recovery it seems that it is an applicable phrase to anyone wishing to better themselves and make their life more profound and centered in every lived day.  Now is the time for New Year’s Resolutions of grand proportions and many if not most of us tend to fall off the wagon of our hopes and aspirations fairly quickly following the turn over of a new year.  We set high expectations of ourselves and what we need to accomplish and when we falter for a moment we give up and fall.  New Year’s declarations seem to imply an all or nothing follow through but what if we gave ourselves permission to falter without judgement and found the courage to continue forward despite weaknesses? 
 
 
Everything and anything is overwhelming when we look past this moment, this hour, this day in our life.  It is great to have goals but if we don’t enact a liveable now, always planning for a better tomorrow, we are easily distracted and taken off track today. What if you lived now and only now–letting go of past and future–and just breathed in the moment and released out the tensions of what was or what should be.  Yogic philosophy becomes an excellent tool in remembering to be in the moment.  
 
 
Yoga begins with breath.  Its essence is breath and everything from mindset to movement stems off of our ability to be centered in our body and breathing in sequence with motion and life.  What a great metaphor and symobilic realization of living life one day at a time.  Breath, when recognized, is the most present-centered action anyone can do.  What is more integral and visceral in the living experience than breathing?  What is a more powerful tool of self awareness and self-regulation than breath?  For me little else comes close to being viscerally and poigniantly “in the now” than breath. 
 
 
So as we all move forward into our resolutions and affirmations for 2010 maybe finding a way and a moment in each day to come back to breath, to awareness of self–body, mind, soul–in the now can help us enact whatever we have resolved to do today.  And move forward taking each moment and each experience one day at a time.  Mantras are mantras for a reason–one day at a time is something that is simple to understand and difficult to enact but possible for all.  I plan to work much harder on my own present-moment living this year.  I have a serious issue of my own living in past and future and losing the present in the process.  .Rachel over at Suburban Yogini wrote in a comment that she is planning on making this her year of mindfulness.  I, in turn, wish to focus this year on present-centered living….one day at a time. 

“In mindful eating we are not comparing or judging.  We are simply witnessing the many sensations, thoughts, and emotions, that come up around eating.  This is done in a straightforward, no-nonsense way, but is warmed with kindness and spiced with curiosity.”                                                    

Jan Chozen Bays

  

Eating.  The holidays have been built up around the joy of sharing meals with loved ones, baking cookies, and filling bellies with merriment and mint.  I have been thinking a lot about eating lately, in part because I have my own issues of food around what I can/can’t, should/shouldn’t eat due to my endometriosis and what I feel, sometimes compulsively, provoked to imbibe and scarf down to include most things NOT on my ok foods list–soda, candy canes, meats, cheese, white flour.  The other issue that has been bringing food to the forefront is issues of eating disorders in my professional practice.  Imagine living in a world in which food was enemy and eating was a dark and sinister process.  Imagine a holiday plagued by these issues. 

In one way or another we all have our issues with food.  Whether it is just a societally imposed ridiculous standard of what is “healthy” in the form of size zero’s on magazines or eating a bag of chips or box of chocolates when we have a bad day or self-imposed ideas about having to work out or work off every last holiday calorie for New Year’s everyone has their thing.  It is hard to feel good about ourselves and everyone measures themselves in some way, at some point in their life, by some invisible and unattainable standard of perfection. 

I think this time of year is the perfect time to consider taking eating and food from a perspective not just of health or general wellness but as pleasure and mindfulness all in one.  What if we could take our yoga practice off of our mats and into not just our mind, body, spirit but directly into our mouths?  The sensory experience of food could be an intensely sensual and joyful experience but most of us hurry through our meals and few linger over the immense savoryness of flavors.  Why not pause, breath, and imbibe the world’s gastronomic pleasures in a fully centered and aware way?  Usually, we just don’t think about doing so…but what better time to start then for the New Year.

I have been given a palpable and painful reminder of how much food can be an unhealthy and sinister factor in people’s lives.  How much a life of pain and aspirations of unattainable perfection can lead to finding an enemy in food and be unable to know how to eat with pleasure.  I find myself joining, as sometimes happens, my client on her journey to rediscover food with a new awareness in my own gastronomy journey.  I want to eat what I should with pleasure and not with a sense of punishment.  I want to crave the sweet and juicy explosion of blueberries popping like savory balloons on my tongue rather than aching for soda that inevitably (as it did last night) will subsequently make me ache. 

I am on a search and exploration of gastronomical joy.  I want to explore Mindful Eating to its fullest.  I want to see the Zen in mealtime and find breath in every bite.  I challenge anyone who wishes to try to do the same.  The Center for Mindful Eating is a great resource to begin and the book quoted above entitled Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food

 

 
 
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
 
T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”
 
 
I find that I am particularly bipolar in my mood when heading into a new year–I am filled with both gratitude for what was and anticipation for what could be while at the same time feeling sullenly sub-par considering the ‘could haves, would haves’, and worrying if I can live up to my projected goals for what is to come.  My husband is particularly fond of this newly discovered layer of my inner self–really, overjoyed even.  He wants me to “explain” the hows and whys of my feelings.  As an ex-philosophy major he makes my head hurt with his logic equations, in which most of my emotional meanderings have no place.   
 
 
Last night I was surrounded in a particularly prickly and heavy quilt of my own melancholy as all the yesterdays and tomorrows swam in my head.  Besides all of the cerebral churning my belly was also preoccupied with aches and pains that were endometriosis in origin.  So, preoccupied as I was, I found myself grumpy and ill at 9:00pm stumbling towards the bathroom.  In the dark I clumsily flicked the light switch and simultaneously saw and felt a giant waterbug (cuddly term for a roach on steroids) scurry over my foot and towards the opposite wall, searching for darkness.  I screamed something in the four-letter word department and my husband came running with concern, until he found out why, and then he was less than impressed by the trauma of it all. 
 
 
So it got me thinking, much as it seems most of God’s Floridian creatures have done these last few months, inspiring posts and metaphors galore.  I lay, minutes after my experience, covered with blankets, a beagle-pug sentry named Gaia who had willingly been roped into the comfy king-sized bed to watch over me, ready to pounce on anything roachy that might have decided to follow me back to my “safe place”.  I started thinking that it doesn’t matter too much how good things are, how safe we feel, how much we have planned for the way things will be or should be because into every life a few roaches must crawl.  
 
 
I can kick myself over what was and wish for a better what will be but in total this year has been amazing and how dare I diminish my life, myself, and my experiences by focusing on the roaches in the mix.  So I am going to take the path of the lovely post today “Gratitude” over at Ms. Nona’s blog and consider the positive and list it out…because I love a chance for a list!
 
 
This Year I am Grateful For:
 
 
1.  Marrying my wonderful, roach killing, husband not once but twice!
 
2.  The honor of recieving NYU’s Outstanding Recent Alumna Award for my Complementary Therapies with Trauma Survivors (thank you alma mater).
 
3.  Moving to a beautiful place in which the most wonderful new adventures have begun and people met (and where there is no ugly cold winters!).
 
4.  My work and how it metamorphasizes and expands at every new step into even more wonderful ideas and creative approaches.
 
5.  Finally deciding to write the book that has been a long time in procrastination and topic determination.
 
6.  Following my passions wherever they lead me–in love, in work, in relationship, in spirituality, and every other crevice of my life.
 
7.  Being able to start therapeutic groups in Yoga, Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy, and Creative Arts (multimedia) & being given wonderful opportunities to speak about my belief in the value of these approaches.
 
8.  Finding space to breathe in my body, mind, heart, and soul and finally putting old ghosts to rest.
 
 
Namaste and Happy Holidays to All!  Explore your own gratitude and don’t let your “woulds and shoulds” hold you back or metaphoric/literal roaches keep you down!
 

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

Victor Frankl



 

I grew up in a Catholic household where following every waistline testing, engorged bellied Thanksgiving came the ritual setting up of Christmas trees, decorating, and beginning the countdown of the Advent season.  As a young girl all that really meant was getting out the calendar covered in glitter and surprises waiting behind every door.  You open a door every day of the Advent season (the month leading up to Christmas) and either candies or pictures would lay in wait behind every door opened, or cardboard cutout removed.  It was magical, scintillating joy that comes only from the simplest of places and requires so little tangibles, only a wealth of imagination and anticipation–of which I had in overabundance as a child. 

 

Today I find so many rich metaphors and symbolism in this past time of Advent.  Advent meaning in any terms, “The coming or arrival, especially of something extremely important.”  As we creep towards the new year and holidays for a variety of faiths and creeds that symbolize new beginnings, rebirths, births, renewal, and change we are all free to celebrate this season of advent, the advent of change in one way or another. 

 

I find myself at a precipice of so many things and at this precipice I find myself assessing so much that is and that which has been in my life the last year or so.  In the advent of change in my own life I find myself pondering the present and looking expectantly towards the future–something like the adult version of my childhood self, wondering what magic awaits me behind the next door I open. 

 

There is a freedom and beauty in this time of year to shed old skins, start fresh with new journeys and to return back, with childhood wonderment, to a place of memory and nostalgia of what holiday seasons and preparations can be. 

 

I hope everyone has filled their bellies and laughed with the ones they loved this Thanksgiving season and that everyone has something they are shedding and something new they are on the precipice of beginning.  Take time to sit in your own advent of change right now.  What is the arrival of something important you are waiting for, the new project, new adventure, new journey you might be about to begin?

 

I began this blog to catalog my journey through yoga school, a tangible and solid goal.  What I have realized is as I have written, as life has meandered on a course part created by me and part formed by that which has happened in my life, things have shifted.  I have realized that, like Advent, this story has taken a more symbolic and metaphoric route.  “Yoga School”, as it were, has become everything–it is my life, my journey, and the yogic path and insights that have imbued my every step. 

 

I owe many a personal revelation to this blog and the ideas that have sprung in the writing of it.  As I creep closer to the time that I will begin my literal yoga school I realize that, that journey is only a small pieces of this larger adventure and misadventure I am on–my yogic education is this whole process, this year of change, this advent season on the precipice of beginning new and wonderful adventures, everything that has come and everything that will come, in and out of a classroom.

 

Happy holidays to everyone and I hope we all can explore together as the year comes to a close the advent of the new that we may all be on the brink of. 

 

 

“Life is a constant Advent season:  we are continually waiting to become, to discover, to complete, to fulfill.  Hope, struggle, fear, expectation and fulfillment are all part of our Advent experience.”

Life Is An Advent Season, Connections, 11-28-1993

 

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