Unfolding

Just last week I decided the word Unfolding would be my guide. Throughout the next 12 months or so I figured I would discover some wisdom looking through this lens, but I didn’t expect to find so much so soon.

Being & Doing

If you read the clock post (Hurry Up & Rest), you know I’ve been wrestling time and working with control, productivity, and rest for as long as I’ve been a mother (17 years). My perspective began turning a corner by noticing ease and feeling what it feels like to allow. Adding this third practice has given me new eyes.

Ease was something I did, and allowing was something I decided, which also has that sense of doing. But unfolding? This is like allowing times TEN. This isn’t me doing anything. It’s me being undone. And not in a bad, scary way, but in a fascinating, journeying kind of way.

It’s almost like waiting. I’m peeling off the layers of doing and kinda hangin’ back, watching what’s moving where, and who’s doing what, and how things are shaking out. And myself, too; I’m watching how I respond to what’s being revealed, or sometimes what’s being lived in front of me. It is a great work in balancing the being & the doing, the participating & the observing.

So what’s next? Maybe a lot less forcing and a bit more receiving? I don’t know. I’m sort of ready for the moment to come to me rather than always moving into the moment. I’m often saying, Hello, moment. Here I am. I wonder what would happen if I didn’t speak. What would all the moments say to me?

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Feeling You

My beautiful and kind teacher often asks us, “How does it feel to be you, right now, in this moment?” I remember the first time I received this inquiry. It was in an iRest Yoga Nidra class, and I was totally snuggled in and supported with bolsters and blankets beneath, beside, and around me. I was so surprised I smiled out loud (not just in my mind) feeling my face move into happiness. What is this sweet thing? Who in the world is asking me what it feels like to be me?

Of course I knew who was guiding our meditation, but this question felt like it was coming from the deep, from somewhere beyond us ~ what does it feel like to be me? Perhaps it’s the moment that is asking me this question, inviting me to see and be seen. Maybe when I’m silent, and allow the moment to speak to me, this is what it offers – an opportunity to see and be seen, which is really to love and be loved.

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To Explore

There is much to explore here. Choose one of the suggestions below that seems interesting or supportive and try it out. Or, make up your own experiment and let me know how it goes.

  • Unfolding – what does it feel like to allow a moment to unfold in front of you? During simple daily interactions or activities, notice any impulse to intervene, lead, follow, speak, or act. Pause to notice if the impulse fades, and watch what’s happening around you. Decide to act on the impulse, adjust it, or let it pass. Continue to notice what’s happening around you, as well as what sensations are present within you.
  • Feeling You – How does it feel to be you, right now in this moment? Take a few minutes to settle into stillness, breathe deeply, and feel sensations in your body. Instead of thinking about how you feel, experiment with feeling how you feel. Journal or sketch your discoveries.
  • Being & Doing – Choose a block of time (an hour, a half day, a full day, a week) and notice how often you sense that you are engaged in doing, and how often you are engaged in being. Both of these ways of living are necessary and one is not valued over the other. We have to do things in order to live, such as plan, gather food, cook, study, work, and so on. These aren’t only necessary, but can be good and fun! What’s interesting to notice might be how much time we spend being alive, rather than doing life. Being alive might feel like rest or being “in the zone” or “in the flow.” “Being” doesn’t mean you are sitting still on a meditation cushion, though that is certainly one of the choices. In fact, you might not realize you are/were engaged in being until you are not.

Remember there’s no wrong or right way to explore these practices. I encourage you to make it fun. ūüôā

Happy Exploring!

Amy

The Universal Yogi

Hurry Up (& Rest)

Hey there, Dear Yogi,

How are you feeling?

Close your eyes, breathe deep. What do you sense in your body?

For a long time I felt a sense of urgency. Do you ever feel this? Not the fun kind in which you’re excited to get all your ideas out on paper or when you’re bursting with news to share. I’m thinking about Time Urgency in which you have to get a certain amount of tasks (enormous, tiny, complex, and simple) completed before time is up! And that timer can be anything: the baby’s nap, the deadline, the reservation, the family’s dinner, the board meeting, the presentation, the teacher’s meeting, the test, the class change, the committee meeting, the bell, The Meeting, the clock.

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Types of Clocks

I still feel it now, though not as intensely and not as often. And not because I’m evolved or enlightened, but because time has passed, and I have don’t have babies anymore. But if I did, I’d tell myself to hurry up and rest.

Back then I raced the “baby-clock” in Every Single Thing I Did: yoga asana, laundry, meditation, dinner prep, reading, tidying, writing, sweeping, posting, lesson planning, planting, grading, visiting, sending, gathering. The baby-clock looks like this: until the baby wakes, until the baby cries, until the baby wakes, until the baby cries, and on like this day after night after day after night.

Time passes and the toddler-clock looks like this: until the educational tv show is over, until the toys are boring, until someone gets hurts, until someone gets angry, until someone gets hungry, until someone screams, and on like this day after night after day after night. And all the urgent tasks are scattered throughout. Half done.

The little kid and big kid clocks look more like this: time for soccer, time for piano, time for games, time for a date with mom, time for violin, time for rehearsal, time for church, time for school, time for play, time for tv, time for silent reading. And also, time for breakfast, time for snack, time for lunch, time for snack, time for dinner, time for snack, time for bath, time for bed.

I answered all these clocks in the obvious and necessary ways for a long time. Then my answer to the kid-clock slowly grew (along with my children’s age, capability, and reason) into little bits of silence: “Mom’s not answering you because she’s meditating.” And this: “Mom, why are you upside down?”

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Cultural Expectation (?)

I did rest a lot. But I kinda wish I’d have rested more back then, and not just my body, but my mind. The sense of time urgency was largely in my mind. I wanted to get everything done everyday. The urgency to produce and do it efficiently was heavy and oppressive. Produce anything: a folded load of laundry, a meal, a clean room, a poem, a journal entry, a completed lesson plan, a smiling baby, a plate of cookies, an empty trash can, a graded stack of essays, a happy family, a successful class. All my worth was tied up in it, even when I told myself that simply growing and raising human beings was enough, that simply showing up was enough. Efficient Productivity Loomed.

I don’t know why this was such a part of my way of being, but my guess is that western culture saturates us with the idea that our worth is based on how much we can produce and whether or not we can produce it efficiently. Can we do it better, cheaper, faster? Try. Can you make your family happier? Try. Can you get more papers graded in less time? Try. Can you clean, cook, plan, and create at the same time? Try!

Hurry Up & Rest

If there’s a sense of urgency now, while I have big-kid-clocks and young-adult-clocks all around me, it’s this: sit down, rest, stand up, rest, turn upside down, rest, lie down, rest. Practicing ease, allowing, and unfolding helps me do this. I’m inviting you to find rest alongside me.

It’s good to remember that rest doesn’t necessarily mean sitting down, lying down, sleeping, napping, “doing nothing,” or “just being.” Play is really, really, really good rest. So, I’m inviting you to play, too. Play piano, play painting, play yoga, play ball, play games, play meditation, play climbing trees, play knitting, play visiting, play telling jokes, anything just for the fun of it.

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To Experiment

To practice being restful rather than being productive every waking moment and even in your sleep, consider recommitting to your sabbath practice or your dedicated time-off. Or try pausing for a moment to consider what is necessary, then do that one thing and leave the rest. This section is not about time management. This section will invite you to notice how you value your time and how you value yourself. After a couple days of practice, you might begin to shift, just a little, the way you move through the world.

Your unique set of circumstances will affect how the details shake out for you, but here are a few ideas to get you started. Try one that seems supportive or interesting, or try them all over a couple of weeks.

  • When pressed for time with a lot to do, ask for help. (Crazy, right?)
  • If faced with a daunting to-do list (that might be partly self-imposed), decide in the morning what is necessary for today, and what can shift to tomorrow.
  • Ask yourself what you value most in any given day. Take 3-5 minutes to journal or sketch about this and allow your answers to inform your choices for the next 24 hours.
  • Notice if you experience a resistance to resting or if you crave it, or both. When you rest do you feel bored, unproductive, or worth less? Do you notice a sense of receiving, renewing, or ease? There’s no right answer. Any answer will supply you with interesting information.
  • Do you experience a sense of all or nothing, either work, work, work, or rest, rest, rest? What would it be like to work a bit then rest a bit? What do you allow yourself to do when you’re “on vacation” but not when you’re “at home?”
  • If you have an aversion to “being unproductive,” consider the perspective that resting will make you more productive in the long run. Not the purpose of this practice, of course, but it just might get you to experiment with resting and see what it’s like!
  • Find an accountability partner. Check in with each other to support adding a dose of restfulness to your days.

No matter how productive we want to be, no matter how much we want the to-do list checked off, there are just some things that have to unfold in their own time. So maybe consider allowing things to unfold. Remember, you can’t feed the kids breakfast before they’ve had dinner.

Happy Resting, Happy Playing,

Amy

The Universal Yogi

PS – I forgot the pet-clock! There’s a pet-clock, too, the puppy-clock, the aquarium clock, the list goes on!

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This Week in Yoga ~ Unfolding

Hi Yogis,

Last week in yoga (I know, someday I’ll catch up) we¬†worked with the concept of¬†unfolding.¬† In a mat-based yoga practice, this means two things:¬† 1) we allow the¬†pose to unfold during the course of several breaths, and 2) within the pose unfolding,¬†the body unfolds, as well.

For instance, when practicing Utthita Trikonasana (Extended Triangle pose), instead of leaping into a pre-conceived¬†“final” version of the pose on breath¬†#1,¬†we start gently by simply reaching to the side with straight legs, both arms parallel to the floor.¬† On breath #2, we lower the front arm,¬†pressing the back of the hand gently into the¬†inside¬†of the front¬†thigh, or, resting the palm on a block, while the back arm drapes behind the lumbar spine.¬† Breath #3 will take the fold at the hip deeper, if that seems wise, and the bottom hand closer to the floor.¬† 20190110_0715412322849988521377645.jpgThe top arm is invited to reach upward, and the gaze is directed to the ceiling, side wall, or floor.¬† Breaths #4 & #5 will offer the space to remain, back out, or go deeper into the pose.¬† In this way, we take the pose in stages, which allows the body to warm up to the shape without any pressure to find the edge.¬†¬†Only by¬†the final breath(s), if it seems wise to do so, will we explore the edges of the pose as they manifest uniquely in each of us.

During practice, we unfold the pose and the pose unfolds the body, so that by the end we might feel like we’ve arrived in a totally new place, not just “regular old triangle pose.”¬† The fuel for¬†all this unfolding is the breath. It is in each inhalation that the body expands and creates space, and in each exhalation that the body stabilizes and grounds.¬† In this way, the breath acts as “the great unfolder,”¬†a beautiful thing to experience.

Happy Practicing,

The Catholic Yogi