Tag Archives: healthy-living

Missives from the Mat 5 — Start and the Pressure Will Be Off #Yoga #Bhajan #Writing #Numerology

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It has been a long time since I’ve written.

I have actually wondered if I would be able to start up again; on the blog, I mean. I went from writing every day for 31 days about Carl Jung and how I interpreted him to stopping almost completely for almost a month. That’s a hard transition. I went from mindfulness on paper and sharing it to mindfulness in the ether and installing it.

Y’see, the yoga retreat was a profound personal experience. I remember driving away from my home, that Thursday afternoon almost three weeks ago when I began my journey looking in my rearview mirror at the three sons and husband I would be separated from for more than a fortnight. That rearview mirror moment was the last time I was the person I was before I changed.

That sounds weird. Let me rephrase: I am more the person I was meant to be now. I have less pretense, less interest in what other people think. I’ve always been pretty confident seeming, but that was because I wanted everyone to get along. Now, it’s not so much that I’m less interested in people getting along, it’s that I’m less interested in having to make people get along. They will figure out their way. I have my life to figure out and I have three boys to mother and a husband to partner. It’s just clearer now. There’s something to the power of being with complete strangers for 15 overnights (about 350 hours) for a yoga retreat. The moment some people say yoga, others envision pretzels or insane postures.

The yoga we practiced every morning at 6:00 am, one time at 4:30 am, is totally different. We would sit on a massive wraparound deck to watch the sun rise when we managed to peek out from under our shawls during a meditation. That 4:30 am practice is something that created a cosmic shift in my consciousness and it will forever be revered as one of The Most Inspired Moments of My Life. Each morning we were to be in a meditative state 10 minutes before the practice began. That meant for yours truly who loves her blankets and her bed that I had to be awake at least 40 minutes before the start. So on this 4:30 am day, I set the alarm for 3:50 am and I woke with little resistance; even with a sense of childlike glee. I’ll explain in a later post why this timing is so special. But it was as if my spirit knew I was going on a trip. And I did go on a trip even though my body never left the planet.

sun up.

sun up. 6:01am due east.

The sun never rose the same way every day; it never does and it never will. But it was always majestic the way the earth bows to the sun.

still glorious, no?

still glorious, no? this was shot at 5:53am i’m pointing west.

We were treated to some of the most wonderful weather ever for those 16 days. I kept on saying to people who were not from this area of the world that the Heavens must be smiling upon us because it has almost never been 59˚ on any morning in July or August in the Virginia Blue Ridge.

The yoga I talk about now transcends the poses. It goes right to the spirit and it means Guts, Determination, Growth, Strength and Self.

Strength and Self

The poses come later. The work, it’s a pleasure, most of it. There were some kriyas (sets of yoga exercises) that set my shoulders on fire. I miss them. I miss that wonderful, bearded wiseman, Kartar Khalsa, who would state to us, “I can show you how to get there, I can show you, but you have to do the work, you have to get there.” He wasn’t talking about stronger deltoids or trapesius muscles. He was talking about stronger Selves, with a capital S.

Kartar Khalsa Singh. Yogi. Badass. Compassionate.

Kartar Khalsa. Yogi. Badass. Genius.

This Self is part of the genius of kundalini yoga. Rephrase: the pursuit of the Self is the heart of kundalini yoga. One of our yoginis at the retreat, the owner and author of the program, Shakta Khalsa (and Kartar’s wife) has a phrase, “Yoga is the science of the self, and kundalini is the awakening of the self. It is that simple.”

This retreat was more healing than it was learning. Ok, that sounds bad. That’s not what I meant. I did a ton of learning. I can tell you all about how babies have this life stuff all figured out and if we’d just do with our bodies what they do with their bodies from time to time then we’d be totally happy. I can tell you about the eight limbs of yoga (I just can’t find the sheet in my binder) and the 3rd chakra and the lymphatic system and why cold water on the thigh is a bad idea (because it leaches calcium from the femur). I can tell you about acidic foods and the energetic transfers and releases of certain chants and kundalini exercises. I can. And intermingled in all of those discussions and lectures and yoga sessions and kriyas and asanas were life-affirming, life-changing lessons. It’s metaphysically impossible to attend a training retreat of this caliber without changing on the inside. Impossible. The bottom line is that it’s impossible also, for me to explain it all to both of you in one post. So natch, I’m considering a book.

These women, the 13 of us and then 1 extra and 2 of our originals left and then that 1 extra did too and then 4 more came in… (it was a little revolvy-doory there for a bit) are in each others’ DNA. We just are now. I will never forget them and seeing the pictures they are posting as well as the ones I will share in a photoblog post about the retreat (to come soon) bring back all sorts of warm fuzzies.

I wonder about the numerological significance of choosing 16 days for the retreat. Numerologically, the 16 converts into a “7.” A 7 represents the seeker, the thinker, the searcher of Truth (notice the capital “T”). The 7 doesn’t take anything at face value — it is always trying to understand the underlying, hidden truths. The 7 knows that nothing is exactly as it seems and that reality is often hidden behind illusions (I got this from http://www.numerology.com/numerology-numbers/7). I have a seven in my soul position, which is sort of a big deal, and it explains a lot of things which I will go into in a later post on numerology and how learning about it and myself has vexed liberated me in a lot of ways. Go to www.3ho.org to learn about your numbers.

When the 7 is in balance, we are elevated, happy, curious, philosophical, sensitive, a “solitary spiritualist” and we lean a lot (or we should) on our inner voice, our inner knowing. When the 7 is out of balance, we can feel lonely, reclusive, aloof, hypersensitive (I AM NOT!), fear scarcity, confused, find fault and demonstrate a lack of boundaries both emotional and physical. The bottom line is that we need a lot of alone time. This was something I wasn’t sure I was allowed to express as a need for myself because I’m a fairly gregarious and social person, but man, when I saw that I was WAHOOO! All you suckas git lawst! I need some alone time! Holla!!

I’ve just recently taken out my books from training. I went to the beach for five days after I returned from the retreat and so I’m just getting back into “normal” here at the house. Just having this time alone to do some writing has been nice. I really haven’t had much alone time at all, actually.

Yogi Bhajan, who to me looks like a movie star in the photo below had five sutras (statements / aphorisms) for the Aquarian Age. One of them is applying right now: “When the time is on you, start and the pressure will be off.”

Omar Sharif, anyone? Sheesh this dude was intense. Never met him.

Omar Sharif, anyone? Sheesh this dude was intense. Never met him. He “died” in 2004; I say “died” in quotes because in the tantric yoga and metaphysical tradition, there is no death. I dig that.

So here I am, starting and deciding to write.

Ok, ok, here are the other four:

Recognize that the other person is you. (Reminds me of that phrase, “when you point the finger at someone else, you’ve got three other fingers (yours) pointing back at you.”)

There is a way through every block. (Notice he didn’t say around every block… yuk yuk a*hem.)

Understand through compassion or you will misunderstand the times. (I got nothing.)

Vibrate the Cosmos, Cosmos shall clear the path.

Woo-woo?

Heck yeah. Ask me about the Soul Retrieval. No, wait, don’t ask. Just ask me where $100 went in less than five minutes. I’ll tell you, it went on a ride on a train through the desert. (I told you not to ask… I’ll explain in a later post. I promise, Marn.)

So no, I haven’t changed in a cellular way; my yoga retreat sisters would likely agree that none of us has changed cellularly; but we have changed in an energetic way and my manner of thinking and old patterns of reactivity and blame and fear are almost things of the past. Now it seems it’s like logistics are the stepping stones.

But embracing the woo-woo isn’t new to me.

Y’see, I was already On That Bus before I left. I was someone who believed in the things that were unseen more than the things that are seen. I learned on the retreat that it’s likely because I’m left-handed that I’ve already got some of that thinking in the bag. We right-brainers tend to be more creative and as long as we’re not suppressing it, we can easily relate to other people on an energetic level. We can let things slide because we know: it’s not real. Whether it’s an intuitive realization or simply because we are geniuses, we left-handed people have a different sense of the world.

As I said earlier, there were 13 original students on the retreat. I’m not taking away from the four awesome peeps who joined us later because they are cool too, but the 13 of us altered each others’ menstrual cycles (someone foolishly suggested that it takes a month to do that, well we yoginis can get that shit done in two weeks, holla!), we shed tears with and for one another, we held hands, we held hugs for more than six seconds, we chanted, we punched the air, we pounded our fists, we asked a ton of questions, we disagreed, we snarled a little, and we grew a lot. We drank and showered in fart water — that has to count for something, right?! — and we really miss each other. I never belonged to a sorority in college. I commuted to college. So this is my first sorority and I can tell you this without a doubt: I’m glad I waited to join this one.

Some of us are having an easier time than others re-entering the Earth you inhabit. I can tell you that going to the beach for a week with my cousin and kids helped a lot. I miss the mountains though. I’ll post again soon, mostly pictures about the days there. I would go back in a heart beat… but only with those soul sisters. It wouldn’t be the same without them.

Thank you.

Tuesday Morning Press 21 — Five Fitness Tips & I’m on PPM Today

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Hi team –

Lots going on today, so I’ll have to be briefer than usual (which isn’t very brief I admit).

more.com

more.com

Fitness thoughts for those of you looking to revive or begin a program. Off the top of my head:

1) In order to gain aerobic benefits (i.e., cardiovascular health, stress reduction, improved “fitness,” which can be measured myriad ways), you need to be moving at a moderate* pace for at least 20 minutes continuously. For those first 20 minutes, your workout fuel is readily available carbs: what you recently ate (w/in the past 2 hours) or lean body mass. To start burning fat, I’m sorry: go longer.

*on a scale of 0-10, 0 being watching Vincent D’Onofrio on the couch, which admittedly for me can be aerobic: 5 is a nice attentive pace, not moseying. 7 is more focused and close to the range of people you see working out. 10 is like running from a velociraptor. So “moderate” is likely a 6-8 — but remember this is YOUR moderate. What could be a ton of work for Bipsy in accounting, could be a piece of cake for you.  This rating scale is referred to in the biz as “perceived rate of exertion.” Google it if you’re curious. Another cue: if you can talk when you’re walking, you’re likely less than a 5. If you can only fit in two or three words when you’re walking, you’re closer to a seven. If you can only yell, “HELP!” or “STOP!” or “FIRE” or “NO!” or “MOMMA!” you’re at a 10.

2) When to exercise? Whenever you will do it. Fit it in, make yourself a priority. After you start getting into a groove, you can decide if working out in the morning or in the evening or late afternoon or mid-late morning, late morning-early afternoon or late afternoon – early to mid evening is best for you… The point is to get started. Can’t do 30 at the moment: do 10 in three bites. It doesn’t matter if you go long or go short: to your heart, 30 minutes is 30 minutes. (But to hit that magic fat burn, ya gotta do 20+ continuously.)

3) Are you a sloucher? STOP IT! Want to enhance your core (trunk) — anything that’s not a large appendage (neck/head, arms and legs is core)? Do this: ESHKA. I tell it to my yoga kids all the time: Ears over Shoulders over Hips over Knees over Ankles; pretend there’s a string pulling your head to the sky and your ankles to the ground and that it’s a straight string, no curves. Are you a sitting sloucher? ESH, then your KA. Think right angles for your knees and elbows whenever you workout when you’re bending / lifting / squatting.

4) Treadmiller? Want more heartbeats per minute to build up that aerobic fitness and cardiovascular health? Move your arms in natural rhythm with your legs and body. If you’re already doing that, great! If you’re a “handle holder” at present that’s cool, just try for 30 seconds or less every couple minutes and then increase your time off the handles. Keep your incline at “0” so you can get used to the motion.

Want more? Increase your incline a level or two.

Want more? Ok: move your arms more vigorously and/or use hand weights.

Want more? (You badass!) Increase your incline and raise your arms above your head: do shoulder presses or swing your arms in “windmills.” You’ll be heating up in no time.

Are you insane? Increase your incline, slow it way down and increase your range of motion: lonnnng, slowwww, striiiiides with connnntrolllll.

Try a lunge or two if you’re certifiable. I am. I call it “LungeMilling” it takes some coordination though.

Treadmills are amazing devices, but I think people consider them one-dimensional. They can really aid you in your exercise endeavors.

Are you ready to pick up the pace? Go for it, but bring it down when you feel woo-woo: lightheaded, excessively winded (you simply CAN NOT catch your breath), chills or nauseated (no matter what you’re doing).

5) Do you use the stairs? Good for you! Here’s more: soften your step. Consider feather steps: they require more abdominal control and posture awareness. Anything that keeps you in the moment is better than taking you to that imaginary terrible meeting with the boss or awkward moment in carpool.

A great article in the Wall Street Journal discussing meeting exercise where YOU are is here: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324432004578304250252788528.html

There’s a great debate about slow speeds and their mythical efficacy in a workout. Curious about it? Go here: http://www.more.com/health/wellness/are-you-working-out-hard-enough

Behaviors:

1) What to eat? Anything you can purchase in the perimeter of your grocery store is going to be WAAAAAAAAAAAAAY better for you than anything in the middle aisle (especially the aluminum foil). I like to think of it this way: the inside of the store is where the grinder (processor) is — so try to stay away from that stuff. Think caveman diet: they ate what they killed and picked. There was no Entenmann’s back then.

5 little meals throughout the day or 3 squares? — I’ve tried both and I usually ends up just grazing. The rule here (and it should really be considered a rule) is that you eat when you’re hungry and you stop when you’re full. Eat foods rich in color, from the ground or something with a heart (I’m not a vegetarian) and be aware. Love chocolate? Fine! Have a Gharadelli square but stop there. As I said last week: cravings last 14 minutes. Beat the craving, you win the moment. Awareness.

2) Drink water — as often as you can. I am a sludge: I hate the taste of plain water, so I add flavor to mine. For every 20 ounces of water, I add 5 ounces of a juice or lemonade. I just do. It makes the water taste better for me. Glam it up: add lemons or orange slices or bits of strawberries: treat yourself as if you’re at a spa. You are the spa.

3) In a bad mood? Get off the couch, walk around. Crank up the dance music. Sometimes just a change of scenery or posture or noise can be the thing to get you out of the funk. I realize this can sound glib; there are people who suffer from depression and other similar mood disorders. I’m not being intentionally glib. But I will say this: moving around will always help. What you don’t wanna do is go online. Nope. Close the laptop. Put down the iPhone.

4) see #2. Having enough water in our systems can remedy a TON of common complaints. Don’t believe me? Maaaaybe you’ll believe my friends at the MAYO CLINIC: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/water/NU00283

5) Get to bed on time. Really. If your house is like mine, we put the kids to bed at 8:30 and they’re up again at least three more times in the next 30 minutes. Thirsty. Bad dream (already?!). Cold. Blankets all smushed. There can be no relief. You know what the relief is? If you go to bed when they do. (I know, it sounds nuts — but even if you’re just in your room reading or watching a little TV and folding laundry) they will be more quiet when you’re on the same landing as they are. After a little while, when they dial down, you can go back downstairs to:

  • Fold laundry
  • Make lunches
  • Sweep up the kitchen
  • Walk the dog for the night
  • Let the cat in/out
  • Load the dishwasher
  • Start another load of wash
  • Let the other cat in/out

Believe me: there will always be something waiting downstairs.

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I’m really not here today. I wrote my monthly post about writing for Peevish Penman at this link: http://peevishpenman.blogspot.com/2013/03/are-you-ready-or-not-new-beginnings.html — some of it might be repetitive for you; but in that post I talk about revising my book with the foreword because I’m feeling a little confused at the moment. The good news is that I read and edited like a boss yesterday, so I’m happy with that progress.

Thank you.