To work with runas (“Runes”) is to work with a leader’s courage, if we let ourselves…Check out the article below!
As I type this title, all I can think of is “The Giving Tree.” It ends with the visiting friend- after much “time went by and the boy grew older.”
It is nearly November. And so much time has passed. As a writer, I paused to simply let it.
We all paused.
It’s appropriate that we turn the clocks behind this weekend to save ourselves some time this year. This year that has grown more and more unpredictable much like the life of the giving tree, though we do see the pattern of the boy use nature for his own purposes. Each of us has given time and patience to the rest of our selves, families, and society. Time rests our minds and absorbs the happenings, regardless of political sides. Patience with our bodies asks of gentleness and gentleness includes the nutrition entering through our borders (nose and mouth) by way of colors. Watermelon and blueberries give way to the seasonal apples, bok choy, (it’s a favorite in my home!), while bananas, salmon, and bell peppers continue carrying us into the next season.
We’ve been giving our time to our families -whether it be a few minutes via Zoom or checking in on social media with cousins and parents. I’ve noticed that as my patience with the world begins to fray sometimes, checking in with family seems to instill that back into my system. When it comes to our time and patience with society, all we must do is be gentle and remember to use our voice. How have you been with your gentleness and voice? Has either tool disappeared? If so, that’s ok. We are not made to be static. Still. Perfect. Just come out of the position you’re in, much like a yoga shape, and find a more soothing position to be in. Play with the golden rule a bit: “Treat others and myself, my body, the way I want to be treated.”
So much time has passed since I reached out to you and that’s exactly why I’m popping in. I’ve been away from current blogging because nothing seemed “worthy enough” to send out into the universe from my own page. It felt selfish. But recently, I realized that I spent a lot of time last year sending my voice out there for writing pieces and I didn’t/couldn’t know it at the time but 2019 set in motion the accomplishments and beliefs I, and others, needed this year.
As 2020 kept moving, my “paused”/”static” voice (which echoed its way across well over three dozen publications asking for acceptance) proved to have a body of its own: ears that listened for small ideas cracking that’d heal readers; inner vibratory systems that’d carry heavy emotion; eyes that’d not unblink observed injustices. My voice’s body propelled me to create again. And has propelled me to create more.
The voice was my visiting friend, my own body.
And now I’m visiting you, fellow visiting friend.
Yes, it’s ugly outside. Right now the rain is smudging away leaves like a washed away painting.
Yes, it’s ugly outside as certain beliefs domino into violence.
Yes, it’s ugly outside.
But here’s the clarity while watching the smudges, we control our own beauties on the inside. And send it on out.
Now, let us use our gift of extra time to explore – sending one contribution at a time!
Here are some upcoming projects I’ll be sharing with you in hopes of spreading self-care:
-My exploration of self-care with Runas (Known as “Runes”) and other articles written for V’ Well Magazine
-Future blog posts from Step Up for Mental Health where I discuss personal and informative research on ‘Bodyfulness,’ self-care with Anxiety/trauma, and the journey of grief.
-A new blog on here about the adventures of being a southpaw
What may be your contribution(s) you send out to the universe?
So, we may not be all that present, or honest about New Year resolutions but we can always create space to be present for new voices-and even older voices! Is there a book you’ve been meaning to check out this winter, or even longer? I’ve been meaning to re-read The Red Tent.
Shout some titles out below!
Check out my most recent Belly Dance New England article “Creative Warm-Ups for Belly Dance”
So the first 2 weeks of meditating twice a day has been like taking cover under a warm blanket when your body needs to sigh out the cold, that heaviness in the bones. I know, I’m supposed to detach from ego cravings here, but it really has been a treat to carve time and do this for myself. And you know, studies have found that positive physical changes in the brain can occur with a sustained practice. By focusing and relaxing, we actually have the power to create new pathways and cells for ourselves. This explains why memory, stress, emotional intelligence, and learning can be strengthened after 60 days (magic number for forming a habit!) And, for those with PTSD, this really strengthens the parasympathetic nervous system, allowing one to shy away from being in fight-or-flight in the sympathetic nervous system.
Someone may want to tell cats that!
Anyway, if you’re still skeptical with meditating, that’s ok. I have come and gone with what works for me. I’ve loved meditating on my own, but in class, I’ve been on the edge of my seat because I jump at everything. So it wasn’t that I didn’t want to meditate, I just needed to find where and how was right for me. Like being a writer at a mobile work station, I need to find out how I can be a mobile meditator.
I really look forward to getting up 15-20 minutes early, and doing some slight stretches on the yoga mat to prepare my spine for sitting still. This is what yoga is intended for: Yoga has been known to warm the body up for hours and days of meditation. The gentle flow of mine begins before 6 a.m. This is when I explore spinal twists, pelvic tilts with Cat/Cow pose, and open my back with either Child or Embryo pose. I try to remember, though not always, to do legs up the wall. This is great to reverse blood circulation, especially if you’re sitting all day. This is also helpful for varicose veins and blood clots in the legs if either run in the family or you have a history of it. Check with a doctor if you think it’s something you want to try.
I’ll stretch the calves after seated forward fold prior to meditating. After my 8-10 minutes of meditating, I’ll march in place to re-ground myself and visit standing forward fold. This brings in some yang yoga. For those of you who are not familiar with the yin and yang styles of yoga, Yang is the more active practice of yoga where Yin Yoga is more sedentary. So, in the morning, I am sure to move my spine, shoulders, and legs. I wake up as much of myself as I can before heading out the door. I sit all day so to have any movement is greatly appreciated.
When sitting on my bolster just seconds before dropping into my meditation I’ve been getting more and more used to neck stretching and exercising the muscles in my eyes. Huh? Exercising the eyes? Yup! I do this by imagining an analog clock and following each number around with my eyes- clockwise two times and counterclockwise two times. While I set my timer on the phone for 10 minutes, I will admit that sometimes I do open my eyes or begin to come out of it just a minute or two before my timer dings its melody.
The first morning of my new habit, my focus was not on my belly breath at all, but instead on my shoulders that were rising up and down. Later that day, after belly dancing, I dropped into my evening meditation and I was much more focused on my belly breath. Since then, I’ve been remembering my core breath more and more. For the first few seconds each time, I will stay there and then usually melt into the mantra So Ham. The Hindu translation is “I am He/I am that.” I don’t have any real connection with this mantra so in the future I plan to explore more phrases, possible mudras ( hand gestures), and even yoga shapes to meditate with.
Sometimes visual thoughts pop up and catch my attention like a cat noticing subtle movement from a hidden place. I re-focus my breath from the beginning of an inhale. I don’t necessarily need to match my inhale to “So” and exhale to “Ham” but I find myself doing that because I simply like it. Dialogs will randomly show up, too. Whether it’s a dialog that has been had or will be had. Again, I re-focus on my breath and find the So…then the Ham….
No, I am not “perfectly still” and will admit this truth, too. I try to sit with tightness in my shoulders but occasionally I will twist the slightest bit to see if anything cracks. My eyelids and jaw tighten almost immediately upon sitting so I’ve made it a habit of checking in with those features. If I notice anything else that’s held in tension I just start a breath over. There’s no score chart. It’s just me and my breath. When I give up trying to perfect any tension or breath pattern, I just exhale a bit harder and sink into relaxing. I give up, sort of speak, but by giving up on “trying” here, I give up and give in. And guess what? I welcome the health benefits into my body and brain!
I admire people who have a schedule to blog daily, or, every few days. I’ll notice when fellow writers have been bitten by the Creative Bug as I scroll through my email, catching the headline for their newest blog. Sometimes I’ll spot a few emails from one blogger with quite the number of bites- Holy cripes, good for you! The energy has found you and pushed through your finger tips, or rather, YOU have found the energy and have taken it for a ride through your cells only to release the bursts externally!
I’d love to blog daily but the truth is I enjoy being up and moving around. Dancing, walking, and yoga stimulate project ideas, whether they are blogging projects or freelance article projects. For me, taking care of my spine, joints, and breath is the equivalent to freewriting. I warm up and go with whatever flow I find. I follow my intuition. And whatever concoctions find me I try to hold on to with every wire in my mind; I’ll keep post-its and journals nearby to release the creative bursts. I make them immortal quick! Just…don’t do this while driving. Shoulder shimmies, maybe, but no writing or talk-text.
Sometimes when I think I’ve been bitten by the Creative Bug, sometimes it’s just an annoying mosquito bite. But even that helps to know for the future what to look out for.
The ideal creative life for me would include coming home to blog at the same time every day to spread my creative thoughts that swirl around just like cinnamon swirls itself into the eggs for French toast.
But…French toast is heavy….
Sitting down to write…is heavy.
I don’t make French toast often. And I don’t sit down to write often.
Instead, I have a creative routine. Going from a sedentary day job to a sedentary writing job at home adds to any shoulder knots, tension headaches, and charley horses I may have had from the day. So, to be sure to take care and still be a writer at work, I’ll promise myself to move around. Sometimes that means I’m a writer tracing an invisible line with my toes in the dance studio, or I’m a writer exploring connections between Crescent Lunge and working with one’s roots; Whatever the activity, I make sure I’m a writer at a mobile work station. This is how writing fits my body, and really, how it fits my lifestyle.
How does it fit yours? What is the writing life for you?
This week you channeled yourself right down to my feet and re-taught me a valuable lesson. As I guided my way around three flat hula-hoops on the balls of my feet, you reminded me to check in with not only my current physical balance, but also my mental and energetic balance. As I hip kicked the air, I felt my energy subside the slightest bit. Why can’t I skootch along faster? I thought. But with only a few days of a meditation routine under my coin belt, I was able to let go of that A.N.T. or Automatic Negative Thought as soon as it arrived. Just let it pass. My energy is where it is, I told myself. I have a day without a migraine, without being dehydrated, I love the song I am moving to (In fact, I have it on repeat!), this is all that counts in the moment. This is the wisdom I can give to myself, well, the wisdom that Dance can contribute to my slow moving body.
So I skootch along. And along…and al…
And here comes another thought to distract me. Wait, why does my slow moving body need to be a bad thing? One part of beauty within Belly dance IS moving slowly and gracefully. This is still part of the practice even if it’s not cardio. The slow movement is actually more challenging and works the muscles more. So, I’m not losing out on anything by moving forward slowly. A few images of people I know pop up as I round the middle hula-hoop. I wish they could see that they don’t actually lose out by moving more slowly in their day-to-day lives. These are the people who have told me that yoga is too slow for them. Have you ever noticed how anxiety can be contagious? A co-worker pulls open the door to the office with a heavy sigh- about what you don’t know- but your heart rate jumps a bit for a few moments.
I work my way from dancing around hula hoops to visiting my three slim mirrors where I take my time exploring hip kicks and pelvic tilts.
My movement and energy, when quickening my pace with the tempo, is not bad! For whatever reason, I’m programmed to believe that to get an appropriately healthy cardio workout that doctors suggest, I need to move as fast as I can…and get my intuitive dance steps perfectly right.
Hmm…There’s so much wrong with that…Well, taking the judgment out ( which is a healthy practice in and of itself)… I challenge this thought after my workout. What’s going on here?
I need to shift this perspective. So, I ask Google “What is cardio exercise?” It is any exercise that raises your heart rate. Okay, that’s all the comfort I need; I don’t need to escalate my heart beat from, say a 1 to a 10 and flat line across my hula hoops. Now, I also do not need to be assuming that my steps need to be perfect. Especially if they’re based on intuition! Where is perfection in using intuitive senses? Where is perfection in dance “Practice”? This calls for a Dear Meditation…Please take “Perfection” away next time the image or word moves along my mental reel. I’ll be on the lookout for getting rid of it, too, but I’m just saying….
So thank you, Dance. And Meditation. Within this first week, you both certainly have allowed me to re-balance my mind and energy. I have to say, not to let it get to your egos, that the best kind of teacher is one who teaches inside and outside the classroom ( or studio!)
Note: If you know of anyone who spreads anxiety, this letter is for him/her/them. And if you suffer from that strain that makes its round, then this is also for you. Because guess what? Slowing down is also contagious! And speeding up to the point of keeling over just because we hear it’s the thing to do, whether at work or at the gym, is non-informative suicide. So let it be known here: you’ve been informed!