I’m a bit of a work-a-holic. Not in the “I’m obsessed with my job and do it all the time” kind of work-a-holic. Mainly the kind that suddenly looks around and realizes she is an art director has more responsibilities at work and working more hours, teaches four yoga classes a week, has been kissed by the muse and craves the time to paint and draw, suddenly has a social life from out of nowhere and has some side projects that she’s working on. I even wrote a post about loving my fast-paced life a few weeks ago. Things kept coming up and I was moving along, moving, progressing, learning, breathing in a flurry of new experiences, diving into the unknown of that which I had not yet experienced. But as I was dancing along, I started to twirl, twirl and twirl, letting the blur of movement engulf me and when I tried to focus on one thing, I stumbled. The harder I tried to focus and get my balance, the more I fell. Ungraceful, a little crazy and loving it less as I started to tumble into the hole. That may be hyperbole. But I was stressed and not handling life the way I wanted to. <shrug> Shit Happens.
And then I went to Costa Rica for a yoga retreat.
And there, Shift Happened.
I was there in my element because I love and adore yoga and I was at a yoga retreat. And I was out of my element b/c I was literally out of my environmental element, and I was unplugged.
An entire week without a computer…without my email…without work…without an iPod…without my Nook (I turned pages, I didn’t tap them)…without my car…without Facebook….without Pinterest…without IM…without my phone…without my cats…without my bed…without my closet…without my stilettos…without my craziness…without my ‘my…’.
And in return for giving all of those up, I was able to watch the eagles soar. The way they dived, turned, breathed across their collarbones opening their hearts to ascend, and then, leading with their gaze dive to descend. I woke up in the mornings with the sun (and a rooster and his cockafuckingdoodle do) and walked down to the beach. I wandered. Ate clean, healthy food. Gazed upon the Lightening Bugs as they danced in the trees. I read and journaled. I went deeper inside and considered the essential over the superfluous. I looked. I listened. I listened to sounds of the ocean and the waves crashing and flowing on the beach. I laughed and had actual face-to-face conversations with friends. I hugged often. I paddle boarded in the middle of the ocean during a storm, drenched from the waves, the rain pattering my face and body, the thunder rumbling in my ears and the sun setting in this fiery red ball and me giggling with joy. I was able to do yoga twice a day, stretching my body, detoxing my muscles, discovering my strength. I meditated often…quieting my mind…observing without judgement, without thought. Experiencing the rawness of no-mind experiences. I walked around in flats and long dresses.
A shift happened. I let all the stress slip slowly down my shoulders and down my back with every Tadasana, down my hips and legs in every Uttanasana, and drip off my feet with every step I took. And I breathed in my connection to the universe with every Urdhva Mukha Svanasana and rooted deep into the earth with every Adho Mukha Svanasana. I felt and experienced harmony with nature.
It was bliss.
And for a week.
And at the end of the week, people didn’t want to leave, didn’t want to go back home. And totally me too! I mean, shit, it was pretty fucking awesome out there. It was Costa Rica. But ultimately, I was content to go home. I love my life. I just wasn’t loving the stress aspect. And I can change that. I can take the things I adored and felt amazing in while in Costa Rica, those things that helped me to shift and to be open to experiencing shift. I can make small micro-movements in my life and meld or wrap or fuse those shift-causing experiences into my daily, moment-to-moment experience.
There are so many things I came back with but my initial focus will be on enjoying and simplifying my life. Loving the people I surround myself with and enjoying how I live. Cutting back on the clutter that slows me down and creating space. Being aware of what I am eating/drinking and just making healthy decisions. I’ve been talking about meditating for a while now and finally just following through with that and sitting down for at little bit each day and quieting my mind. And trying things. Trying different yoga classes that lend themselves to my practice so I can have a practice. Trying anything (within reason, I’m not going to eat weird things and go skydiving or anything nuts like that) at least once. Even if I don’t like it, I’ve still experienced it.
Shit happens. And then allow Shift to Happen.
Enjoy and Simplify
Enjoy life. This looks different for everyone. Choose your version. Choose to do things that make you happy, that make you smile, that nurture you and things that you need to experience. Spend time with family and friends, invest time in your life plans. Find time to love being you. Bring awareness into your actions and intentions, and actually experience them. What’s the favorite part of your day?
Simplify life. Again, this changes from individual to individual. Maybe it’s simplifying your apartment. De-cluttering, organizing…what ever suits you. Maybe learning to say no to invitations that don’t suit you and simplifying your calendar. Maybe it’s simplifying your thoughts. Quieting the voices and their chatter. Or following one line of thinking at a time (AKA meditation, which is also on the list). How can you simplify your life?
Eat clean, for the most part. Maybe try cooking more, playing with different spices and how they complement the dish and trying new combinations. Perhaps buy fresh produce and limit the microwave. Creating a balance of foods and really just bringing awareness to what you bring into your body. Learning what you need and listening to your body. Learning what foods do what so you know their benefits and why you are eating them.
It’s difficult to start a practice for many reasons but in part because you don’t know just how fabulous it is to have a meditation practice until you’ve experienced one. It’s difficult to make it a priority without first feeling and experiencing the effects of meditation. Try to quiet the mind. A seated meditation practice is obviously recommended, but it could be easier to start in a different spot. Focus on one task at a time. Quiet the voices that are leading your mind astray to to do lists, people to text, distractions that are dividing your focus. This kind of focus, in its own way, is meditation. You can also focus on your breath whenever you need to take a moment from life. So many different ways to incorporate meditation that don’t involve sitting on a cushion “Om-ing” Discover what, if anything, works for you.
I love yoga. So I say try it, experience it, find a class and just try it. Try a few different types if you have time. If you don’t enjoy it, if you simply aren’t interested in it, then don’t do it. It’s okay if it’s not for you. It’s okay if any of this stuff I am offering up for consideration doesn’t work for you. I’m speaking from my experience.What have you tried? What works for you? You don’t know until you try right? So try everything, even just once, so you know whether you like it or not. Even if you don’t like something, at least you’ve experienced it.