There’s a Transformation Happening. (Not Just Right Now. Always.)

An Announcement

There’s a transformation happening over here. It was in the works long before this moment (as transformations always are), and I know the pandemic has hastened its arrival. I’m thankful for this. This strange year gave me time. To sit, to feel, to wait, to think; to let go, hold on, cry, decide.

That long pause in the writing was reasonable; the tentative and shaky entrance into Advent, appropriate. Signing my recent posts with “The Universal Yogi,” necessary.

A few months ago I asked a friend and fellow seeker if she’d consider taking over The Catholic Yogi. It was the only way forward I could see, and I could not think of a better person to steward the mission of this online space. She said Yes. With enthusiasm! A few weeks later I texted another friend to share this life-changing news, the only person outside of my immediate family to know, and her response totally surprised me. She said she thought it was amazing that I was taking this “step towards healing.” This was crazy to me – I had no idea I was in need of healing until she said it.

There will be much more to come regarding the transition, which won’t be complete until July or August, 2021. In the meantime, Incarnation!

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Being in a Body

The Christian feast of Christmas is a celebration of the birth of divinity in a human body. I love this. What a sweet joy to know our sacredness in this way. I am divine because Jesus Christ is, and so are you. And so is every last one of us. The problem is that I forget this a lot. This is why even though it is always Christmas (God is always coming to us in a body) it’s helpful to celebrate it with intention.

December 25th doesn’t matter, of course. We can intentionally celebrate our embodiment any time we want. Every time we dance, bow, run, cook, build, carve, paint, sweep. Every time we perform surgery or a piano solo. Every time we collect the trash, address an envelop, hit send on an email, fill out a form. Every time we bring our attention to the sacredness of our being here, now, as part of the whole environment that surrounds us, it’s a chance to celebrate Christmas.

For Practice

The next time you decide to celebrate the sacredness of your humanity, try any of these suggestions for practicing embodiment:

  • Stand close to someone side by side and notice the energy of your own body. Then notice the energy of their body. If you like, hover your open hands close to each other without touching. If no energetic sensation is noticeable, each person can rub their own hands together vigorously creating some heat and then experiment again. My kids love this.
  • Do something that will truly help someone else (cook dinner and drop it off, spend and share time connecting on the phone, through text, zoom, or in person?). Notice how it feels in your body to do all that is involved.
  • Teach someone else how to do something for themselves (knit, bake, start the laundry, write a poem, practice yoga?). Notice how your body feels when teaching, listening, and learning.
  • Rest quietly and feel your breath coming in and going out. Let your hands rest on your body where the movement of your breath is the most obvious.
  • Think of something you do and then do it as a celebration of embodiment(!)

Practicing embodiment can feel like a transformation, like an “Oh! This is what it feels like to be alive. But transformation is a tricky word. Sometimes I think I actually mean an uncovering of what was always there, of what was becoming, what was waiting to be born, waiting to crack through the shell or to split open the chrysalis.

Wishing you many moments, happy or something else, of noticing that you are alive, being in a body. And not just today, but all the days. There’s a way of thinking of God as the Eternal Now, or, one of my absolute favorites, The Everlasting Instant. Implicit in these names is the concept of always. They scoop up every moment that ever was and every moment that ever will be and places them here, now.

Keep transforming,
Keep uncovering,
incarnating,
embodying,
celebrating,

Amy

The Universal Yogi

For further reading, visit the Center for Christogenesis and the article by Diarmuid O’Murchu, Incarnation as Embodiment of Spirit.

Joy (?)

My family has chosen “Joy” as the theme of our last week of Advent (even though it really doesn’t matter). For years my intention in practicing Yoga was to find, manifest, exude, realize “my true nature,” Contentment. And then one day on my first silent retreat, which happened to fall into the virtual zoom world of the 2020 pandemic lockdown, I had a realization – maybe I should be going for Joy. Seems crazy, but in my efforts toward living a contented life, I had employed non-attachment to the degree that (maybe) I had (unwittingly) crossed joy off the list.

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Joy Isn’t Bad

Not that I had already experienced enough joy and so I didn’t need to experience it anymore, but that it had become a thing I thought I didn’t need because I was content. (Such an interesting turn of events!) It’s possible that aspiring to a joyful life can seem indulgent, privileged, or naïve, so, not necessarily a “good thing.” However, during a period of journaling on that silent retreat, it occurred to me that perhaps I was selling myself short, barring myself from some real sweet moments. It was like – Hey, why not Joy?!

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Striving

I think it’s in the striving that I get caught. When I effort after everything, that’s when I get tired. This includes the “good stuff,” like contentment, children laughing, time for rest and being together. When I allow life’s moments to come to me, and I experience them without judgement to the degree that I’m able, there’s a peacefulness present regardless of the negative or positive flavor of what’s happening. The peace is there because I’m not striving or “efforting,” willing everything to go the way I think I want it to go.

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A Spectrum of Emotion

As an observation, I don’t strive toward despair or “alone-ness,” and yet these emotions come my way. I practice non-attachment for a little space between myself and them and as a way back toward balance. So, why don’t I let joy come the same way, and instead of using non-attachment to create separation, I use a little savoring to create union? As human beings we are able to experience a full range of emotions to varying degrees, so I might as well embrace the good ones and let them make a lasting imprint. I can choose when to employ non-attachment and when not to, right?

For Practice

To round out this Advent season (though I feel myself wishing for just a few more days, just a few more days!), and to usher in a celebration of our divine-human nature, consider being “extravagant.” Here are some questions for self-inquiry. Use them if they seem supportive. Skip them if not!

  1. What positive emotions seem elusive?
  2. Which do you shy away from?
  3. Has your focus been on contentment or somewhere else?
  4. What are you tired of striving after?

The “Yoga” Practice Part

  1. How does this show up in your yoga practice?
  2. What are you tired of practicing?
  3. Are there postures you don’t spend time in even though you’d love to savor them?
  4. Are there breathing practices that really feel sweet but you don’t make them a priority?
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Encouragement

Note what your inquiry reveals to you; then, instead of striving after whatever you’ve noticed, let it come to you with any amount of peacefulness.

Happy Practicing (a little, a lot, in new ways, and in old),

Amy

The Universal Yogi