Meditation Monday #54 – A Prayer for Jeannie

I’ve been heavy in the heart of late. A good friend of mine and neighbor has been battling Stage 4 Lung Cancer for over a year now. She is currently in the hospital and they don’t know what made her sick enough to enter the hospital, how to fix it, and if she’ll make it home ever again.

My usual nature and pulling on my Yoga teachings tells me to be accepting of life and the challenges that come with it. My normal instinct when someone of Jeannie’s age ends up facing the eternal is that we look at the wonderful life she’s had and empathetically look for a way to see this as a blessing to end the pain. However, just a week before she entered the hospital we were chatting in her living room and she was making plans for a trip. She has been battling fatigue and some pain, but perhaps more than she’s let on. Now, three weeks later, when I saw her in the hospital the other day she said she has accepted that she may die soon. My heart broke and I told her not to lose hope and to believe that miracles can still happen.

My heart strings pulled and I reminder her of a beautiful story she told me of her own mother. Jeannie’s mother had gone in for a flu shot and slumped over in the waiting room. She ended up in the hospital in a coma and on life support. After 90 days Jeannie was asked to take her mother off of life support. She asked the doctor’s for one more day to make arrangements and say good-bye. The next day she came in and her mother opened her eyes and pulled out her trach tube and went on to live for 2.5 good years. I am usually a realist, but I also believe in miracles. I believe that people are watching over me and all of us. This surrender to some bigger connection to the universe around me is part of the yoga practices of Isvara-pranidhana.

I want to believe that Jeannie will pull through and have a few more great years left. I want to know that this person I care about and love in my life will not leave us in this way. I am unready to face the fact that for the first time my children may lose someone who they are close to. They have been sheltered from that kind of loss thus far. And so, I turn again to yoga for guidance, hope, and healing.

One of my favorite yogis is Deva Premal and she shared this mantra on her Facebook page last April:

Om Shree Dhanvantre Namaha (Healing)

Salutations to the being and power of the Celestial Healer.

This mantra helps us find the right path to healing, or directs us to the right health practitioner. In India it is also commonly chanted during cooking in order for the food to be charged with healing vibrations – either to prevent disease or assist in healing for those who are sick.

This mantra can be chanted for any situation that one would like to be healed or remedied. Good to remember and be open to the path of healing not necessarily looking the way we expect it! Dhanvantari is the celestial healer/physician – the patron saint of Ayurveda.

Jeannie needs healing from some divine power and I need to remember to be open to the path of healing my heart in whatever may come. So, today in my mediation practice, I will be using this mantra for her and for me. I will chant it out loud so that the reverberations of my words may travel to her and out into the universe for her. I will say it in my heart and my head so that I too can feel healed. This is my way of praying and may it connect us both in this world and all others to come.

Namaste.

 

Meditation Monday #53 – My Own Kind of Beautiful

Let me first start by telling you that last night did NOT go as planned. My flight out of Augusta never happened and I had to be shuttled up to Charlotte to catch the late flight. Such is travel….

Second, I am completely voiceless today. This is what lecturing with an allergy situation will get you. And finally, let me note that it’s been more than a year since I last posted an official Meditation Monday post…..when I completed my 108 Sun Salutations! Life was much different for me then and that brings me to….

Affirmations, aka the topic of today’s Meditation Monday post. Continue reading “Meditation Monday #53 – My Own Kind of Beautiful”

Release….or maybe NOT!

*Intended post for Wednesday, September 10th*
In yoga we practice a lot of letting go. Letting go of tension, stress, judgement, preconceived notions about ourselves and others, etc etc etc. Letting go and learning how to immediately set your body at ease are some of the goals of meditation and final relaxation in a yoga class. Sometimes we work with mantras, chants, readings, or other forms of mental cueing to allow the body to let go both physically and mentally. My yoga training has allowed me to be a less angry person in life by teaching me to exhale and let go of what was building inside of me. This allows me many times to avoid unnecessary confrontations and arguments over trivial matters.

The idea of releasing has also helped with tensions that build in my body physically. I’ve been doing a lot more running in the past ten days. A lot more than I did in August that is. And while I run, I often find little things that aren’t going so well. I may be breathing too hard or my stride may be off; I may find that there’s a twinge of discomfort in my shoulder or I’m just not mentally in the game at the moment. No matter what is going on, I’m using my mantras to help align my running pattern to produce the best results possible. Lately my right shoulder has been the one with that pesky twinge. I don’t know if I’ve been pushing the double jogger too much with my right arm or if I’m pulling it up as I run and allowing my shoulder to creep toward my ear? I remember back in my days of high school cross country often finishing an event with one arm that was numb because of the way I held it as I ran. I was pinching a nerve because my upper body was being carried too tightly.

When I feel this issue creeping in, I often say to myself….. RELEASE! I do this during difficult yoga poses, when I’m stressed and need my breath to actually leave my body, and when I feel like I’m about to grind my teeth. Teaching your body to release, no matter how you get there, is of great advantage when you’re running. If I can let go of the tension when it starts to build and let my body fall loosely into it’s natural and free movement patterns, I find that every other aspect of the training then falls into place for the day. My mind clears, my breathing eases, my strides lengthen and turn over more quickly. And then there is the one negative effect to all of this releasing…..my body doesn’t know how to let go of some muscles while holding on to others.

You know what I mean. That moment when you’re flying down hill at top speeds feeling your legs stretch out to their fullest and all of your muscles are relaxed yet working and then it hits you….

You have just released all of your muscles…even the ones that you don’t want letting go at that moment! Then you have a choice to make….do I keep going and let nature take its course?

Or do you do “The Walk”? You know the one I’m talking about right? The one where you clench your lady parts as tightly as you can and curse yourself for skipping your Kegels that week while you also attempt to take as long of strides as you can to get to the nearest facility as quickly as possible.Yeah, I always opt for the latter of the two…ALWAYS!

This has made me feel like many of my training runs are ruined because I have to walk it off or walk it home. But I need to start focusing on all of the reasons that walking during my run or at the end of a run are okay and good for me. I need to let go of that judgement of myself and my workout and accept it for what it is on those days.

Today I ran with a friend who was getting back into running. We did long intervals (~1 mile each) of walking and running. It was slower than my usual pace, but thankfully not interrupted by bathroom breaks for either of us (kids…yes, and of course it was mine). I didn’t judge my performance on the run or hers, we just did it and it was fun. Sometimes letting go is more than just the physical or the mental tension, but it’s also allowing yourself to enjoy an experience.

Unity…Wholeness…A whole lot of disjointed mess

Yoga has many translated definitions. It’s more than just a practice, it’s a Sanskrit word. Many define it with the root as “to yoke”, join, or unite. This fits well for the practice as a “mind-body” exercise because you link the mind and body through Asanas (postures or poses) and Pranayama (breath work) and a somatic awareness of who you are and where you are and what your body needs.  Others define it as a unity or wholeness with the world around you; a spiritual enlightenment and recognition of your place in this universe. For me, I am striving to achieve anything that resembles peace from my practice.

My daily practice has some days included practicing Sun Salutations or other poses. It has also involved some personal reflection. It has even involved further education about yoga. Mostly it has been a practice of breath because that is what I have found to be most calming of all parts of yoga to me. I picked up Amy Weintraub’s book again a few days ago. I really need to finish it because the library won’t let me renew it again after the 17th. I was re-reading part of the last section before I’d last set it down so that it would be more fluid in my mind and in my reading I wrote a few notes that resonate today more than ever.

I have been using a mantra while I run lately where I tell myself that “my strides are long and propulsive”. This has been very effective for me in both changing my stride to land more on the ball of my foot instead of having a heavy heel strike and in reminding me that I can be fast and stretch out using my whole leg to run with. If you jog with a stroller you may have discovered what I deal with daily, the fear of stepping on the stroller and thereby a shortening of your stride. I have used this mantra for about a month now, possibly more and my time has gotten faster, my legs feel more loose, and I don’t feel heavy in my step as often.

On p.114 of Weintraub’s book she is talking about her daily practice and from that I have taken a new mantra that must stay with me 24/7.

“You are bigger than this body, this mind, and these emotions.”

I need to remind myself of this daily, not so that I can feel at one with the world around me, but so that I can remember that life and the world around me do not define me. When my body is hurting from a long run, I cannot think that I am getting old or that I am out of shape or that success is not within my grasp. When my mind is clouded and I’m questioning my own judgement I cannot let others make me feel inferior. And, most importantly for me at this time, I must know that I am allowed to feel emotions, but should not be consumed by them.

The emotion I’ve been letting taking control of late is anger. Anger makes me feel helpless and out of control. Anger makes me want to run away and give up my responsibilities and disappear. I am angry sometimes and I don’t know why. When I am happy I always know why I am happy, but lately anger keeps creeping in on me and I want to remember that it does not control me. I am bigger than anger and I am better than anger. I am a happy, loving, caring, talented, smart, and ambitious person who has a lot in her life to be grateful for. Anger has no room in my life.

Here is a little practice that I am going to try for the next few days to help sink this mantra in (also adapted from Weintraub’s book):
From Hero pose I will inhale reaching up to the sky; exhale as I lower into extended Child’s pose; place my hands in prayer position and express my gratitude to myself for being me. I love me and I am bigger than this 33 year old body, this sometimes clouded mind, and these negative emotions.