Category Archives: Mindfulness

I own that

Jane asked us at the start of yoga class to silently  compliment ourselves on something. In the space of seconds I discounted everything that came to mind. On my body? That’s my genes. On my children? That’s someone else’s genes. On my writing? That’s due to my dad, my 7th grade teacher, Melissa, y’all who read, my agent and some good luck. My musical ability? Luck. My sense of humor? Not mine, really. Just about everything I thought of could be traced to someone else.

I was also swirling around in my mind that morning Melissa’s post on Ashley Judd, otheration and esteem privilege, as well as the BlogHer post on receiving validation online. As I write my book, I am wondering how to keep my measuring stick inside, to not be swayed by either praise from people who love my book (I hope there are some!) or disdain for people who find fault with it (I hope there are none! But there will be).

So the idea of internal vs external validation was high on my mind in yoga class as I struggled to find something to compliment myself about. Don’t argue the obvious counterpoints of my arguments to me — I already argued them to myself and it didn’t make a difference in how I felt on the mat. Everything boiled down to not mine, really. Everything I could think of came to me either through nature or nurture, through what I was born with or what others offered me.

Everything except one thing:

.

..

I show up.

That’s what I ended up complimenting myself on. I show up on my mat several times a week. It’s in my calendar — I make my physical and spiritual health a priority by scheduling other things around yoga class. I show up to write my book, at least an hour every day that my kids are in school.  I don’t always feel like writing  then or have a plan for what to say, but I show up and see what happens, shutting out other distractions (there are so many!) during that hour.

I showed up at piano lessons and flute lessons back in the day. I show up to make dinner. I show up for my kids when there are important or routine things going on. We all show up for family dinner time. I show up with my sisters and my parents and my friends. I show up in this space.

It’s simple, but it’s the one thing I can claim and be proud of. The act of showing up, over and over again? I own that.

Way to go, Lori.

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Your turn to pay yourself a compliment. What are you proud of in yourself?

Balance: Heaven on earth

Earlier this week we celebrated a time of balance, the moment in which the earth is midway on her path between solstices. Even the word equinox, equal night, denotes balance.

The precise time of the spring equinox was 11:14 pm where I live, so I didn’t mark it with much fanfare. However, 10 hours later, a friend from yoga class accompanied me to a local labyrinth on a hill.

I walked a labyrinth years ago on the autumnal equinox. I am lured to labyrinths as a walking meditation. With a winding path, you don’t really know how long the journey is or how you’ll get to where you’re going. You know only that if you keep putting one foot in front of the other, you will experience it all. The labyrinth itself leads you through and you don’t have to make any decisions other than to move forward (unlike with a maze).

As I walk I find myself wanting to look ahead to the next turn. Each time I gently bring my mind back to the one step I’m on. I find balance everywhere. I’m certain, though I haven’t counted, that the number of left turns is equal to the number of right turns. Some the time I’m walking the inside of the labyrinth and some the time I’m walking the outside of it. I am alternatively inhaling and exhaling. The earth and I are in this exquisite and fleeting moment of balance.

And I am aware of it.

The morning is chilly, about 40 degrees (4° C). Still, I remove one of my jackets and take a perch at the center of the labyrinth on a tree stump. I decide to offer up tree pose with half lotus. Nothing too difficult, but fitting in with the morning’s theme of balance and calm. My friend snaps a photo.

vrksasana

I was surprised later when I saw this photo by the joy on my face. I thought at the instant my friend clicked the shutter that I was fighting amid the shivers  to stay balanced on the stump. But clearly I was in heaven. Rooted yet rising.

Did you do anything special to usher in spring? (Or, for my southern hemisphere friends, autumn?)

Perfect Moment Monday: Retreat

As part of a year-long course I’m immersed in, I had the pleasure of spending a weekend with a group of authentic and supportive women (12 of us plus a teacher) at a dude ranch called Peaceful Valley. We drove up between snowfalls and, because of the time of year, ended up being the only people there that weekend. It was blissful in many ways.

One way was that I got a dose of the solitude I so often crave. I enjoyed some of that time and mountain air to think about and continue writing my book.

Much of the class time was spent getting acquainted (or reacquainted) with the creation stories of the book of Genesis. The beliefs within have shaped much of western civilization, regardless of which religion you personally may or may not practice.

In Chapter 1 we read about a loving God, the epitome of a good parent, who who creates and gives and blesses. After “male and female created he them,” God rests. Over and over again we read, “It was good.”

In Chapter 2, however, this LORD God dude enters the picture and the story is told all over again.

  • Only in this version, the woman comes from the man’s body (even though everything we’ve ever observed in nature is that the female body delivers new life).
  • Only in this version, god isn’t loving and blessing and giving. In fact, LORD God is a bit of a trickster and not what anyone would use as a model parent. What loving parent would set his innocent children in a beautiful room and say, “Touch anything you want except THIS REALLY SOFT AND COZY BLANKET?” When the children do succumb to the constructed temptation, what compassionate parent would then berate his children, curse them and their progeny for eternity, curse the very earth they live on and banish them from his home?

Can you imagine doing so? I think most of us mere mortals would foresee the folly of the forbidden fruit. But if we didn’t, we’d probably use any resulting disobedience as a teaching moment. Why is it we have given LORD God a pass on this?

  • Later in Genesis, LORD God chooses one brother over the other  in a pattern that later repeats itself. What kind of wise parent would praise a child who hands him a fistful of dandelions but chide the sibling who brings him a frog? The  result of the ensuing jealousy is a murder and another curse and another banishment.

The reason we were talking about the early chapters of Genesis is that we who have a relationship with God may have conflated “God-the-loving” with “LORD God-the-poser.”

Doing so leads to our collective feelings of shame, unworthiness, separation, fear, hopelessness. We have been cursed and deceived and told that our eternal life depends  on loving and being loved by this trickster of a divine parent. No wonder we have evil in the world, as we try to cover up our shame, best each other, and do unspeakable things because we feel disconnected from LORD God and from one another.

It was a lot to think about and a new way of framing my relationship with God. Liberating, really.

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Perfect Moment Monday is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between.

On the 4th Monday of each month we engage in mindfulness about something that is right with our world. Everyone is welcome to join. The next Perfect Moment Monday event will be on February 27.

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