So every week for over a year I have written this blog and it is an opportunity to reflect upon the learnings, the reading, the state of affairs, the needs that alter in this time of year, seasons, experiences and yet most of all the Art of Living.
That term you may have heard coined many a times, but I can think of no better one and none that I love more than this, in describing how we conduct our lives. It has been so apparent this week how rhythmic life becomes at this time of year, as we enter back in to our own little day to day movements and responsibilities, whether that be with work, kids, studies, partnerships etc... we create these little patterns of behaviour and navigate our way through the week in often similar formats. I even have bumped in to the same people, in the same place under a street light in fact :), at the same time, on the same day these past couple of weeks! My initial response, due to my nomadic nature is 'holy moly' i need to shake life up a little and break the cycle'. But then, as I watched this fear, which is essentially what it is, rise up in me, I asked myself - why? What is so bad about having a rhythm of life that each week is the same? Because in actual fact, is it really ever truly exactly the same? In Steiner education, they talk a lot about rhythms and how important these are for children and what is important to identify is the word 'rhythm', as opposed to 'routine'. The difference that is highlighted between these two words, is that one of them has 'space' and 'potential' to breathe and be 'flexible' and the other is 'stiff' and 'uncompromising'. So i realised that in actual fact, my life was rhythmic and not routine by any stretch of the imagination. I love rhythm and definitely do not fear that word or connotation. A rhythm is something that i'll happily move around to.... in my body, in my ears, in my heart and soul, rhythm is crucial to my day to day and I love it, not fear it.
I have some friends that say that they are lacking rhythm and feel lost. They need a little steady beat that they can wake up for and move about to in their day at times, to feel value and purpose.
That state of flux, is in fact often more unsettling to many of us in actuality.
However, what my rhythmic world highlighted for me, when I delved deeper in to that very powerful fear I felt that one night, was actually 'the beat' that my rhythm was lacking and in fact, it was not the beat itself, it was 'the pause'... like that bit in the song (and I am no musician so no need to feel the need to perfect my knowledge here) but it's that part of a song that pauses for a moment to allow you to really love and then feel the drop. You know what I mean?! Well... to make my Art of Living far more beneficial and wholehearted, that was it ...
I needed to add in the 'pauses'.
So this weekend, I did just that. I cherished the rhythmic values and the incredible benefit they offered and then, I simply paused and took my time to 'just be' within it all. This looked like many things, whether it be reading books to my children without being aware of the time or how many, taking time to get washed and dressed as opposed to cracking on with the day, taking time away from social media and technology in general or not feeling the need to respond to messages straight away, to doing o n e t h i n g a t a t i m e, creating household tasks in to an art form, creating mini meditations in the day, smiling and talking to strangers for a minute or two more... there are lots more, but these small things made a HUGE difference. I have realised that doing this brings more clarity.
It brings less attachment and need for anything at all. It brings contentment. It creates space.
You must be thinking, 'blimey o riley, surely she knows all this by now - she is a yoga teacher - this is what she teaches us!' Well, you would be right in thinking so, but as a single mother, a self employed person, someone who loves community and making time to see and meet up with many friends, family and loved ones, time is pretty limited. Add in a yoga practice, sleep and socialising... PAUSING isn't always something that comes abundantly. I made up a little mantra the other morning as I was heading out of the door from one mode to the next... 'work mode, mum mode, lover mode, friend mode, study mode, yoga mode, rest mode" (REPEAT). I know that I am not alone in all of this.
So what we do is we daydream... we daydream of the alternatives, our mind takes us off on hot holidays, retreats, wild nights out, new job ideas, hair cuts and what treats we may offer ourselves.... Do you know what, I do it, believe me.
BUT, this PAUSING REALLY DOES WORK.
It eliminates the need for anything at all and brings you right back to this state of being that we, as we are, as life is, is pretty blooming marvellous. It also offers us the space to ignite ideas (not fire :) as to how we might alter our rhythm in one way or another to make the flow work better for us. On that same night that I bumped in to the same people, same place, again... a couple hours before I had had a very powerful realisation to my bodies needs and had no choice but to listen, as I previously dashed off to do a very strong regular yoga practice of my own with a teacher I love and all the way there my body was saying, stay home and rest, do something else tonight but stuck in my same flow I ignored all that thinking it was the mind trying to demotivate me. As I arrived and attempted to get stuck in, I did the radical move and paused and made the choice that it was not what I needed. I literally paused and listened and got up, walked out, and took a walk instead. I needed to move, there was no question, but the form of movement that i needed was of a different form. I needed to take in the night lights of the city, and breathe in the spring air. I found a corner spot in Stokescroft, sat, and took in the movements all around me of others and breathed in my city!!! That place that I rush around in all week, but never often pause in to soak it all in and appreciate the beauty it has to offer and why I love it so much. I really do Love Bristol and feel blessed to live and teach in this vibrant place. I reflected upon my relationship to it, my relations within it and the value that all of it offered me in my life now----- not 4 years ago when I arrived here, but now. As we arrive on our mats you know that I always make sure we are each checking in with how we feel in that moment, not how we felt before we walked in the room and led down, but the now! This applies to every pause you take, check in with the now. Never needing to delve in to the past or project in to the future, as you are making attempts to work out your needs and make sense of you here and now. Both past and future play vital parts, in so much of our state of play, but it's feeling in to the now that is most relevent in making vital alterations in the end.
To take me in to this state of now, outside of Yoga, but to compliment it and the idea of breaking fears and idealisms, I have been attempting to jump on a skateboard now and again recently and I am already seeing improvements if and when I apply this attitude on the board. This sense of flow, rhythm and being in the present feels very much a natural way of needing to be when riding a skateboard and I am loving it, as a meditation! I am not very good at all (anyone want to offer Skateboarding tips in exchange for Yoga - hola at me) but that isn't the point of anything!!!! It's how it makes you feel and it makes me feel fearless and like a child again, away from this sense of responsibility that dawns upon us suddenly as we become older :) with more responsibilities ad commitments. To play again, it totally and utterly, completely and for goodness sake 'PLAY' is dam right necessary for us all!!!!!! My son got given his first ever skateboarding magazine 'Thrasher' this week and I was having a read through it and what I loved to read most was how everything whether it be YOGA or Skateboarding has various styles, various times of popularity, various communities that surround it and always has an underground scene, that breaks the mould. What I love to share and encourage in Yoga is just like what some skateboarders from America had described identifying in Budapest, was how we experience what is available to us and what we directly experience is crucial beyond what we see in a magazine or on instagram/ youtube these days - it is YOUR practice! and YOUR experience! of it and where and who you like to engage in Yoga with that is important to value for YOU. We can play around with the various schools of yoga chords or we can stick rigidly to the same track or style of Yoga, but what is your experience of it?!
Make whatever you choose relevant and nourishing for you! LOVE IT, THRASH IT, WAX UP AND PLAY!!!!!!!
I choose to practice Yoga in a way that is about the art of feeling Yoga and Living it in a way that compliments my life and I teach students to make a connection with their practice and their life and that considers your whole world - your city 'Bristol' or other place you live, your family, your community, your work, the food you eat, everything.
Connect it! Create a rhythm with it that you would want to dance to!!!!! Transcend any barriers!!! Call the shots creatively, be responsible for managing your sense of Art and Life. Hold the Key. Don't just daydream.
Get A Grip, Wax up and get ready to play... feel the rhthym of your own practice, be flexibile in your mind approach and feel it in your body, be fearlessness, be like a child again as if you know nothing and just feel!!!!!! Create Art and a sense of Living on your mat this week!