Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Pauses Between The Notes

"The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes—ah, that is where the art resides."-Artur Schnabel

One of the things I don't miss at all about being a control freak is the way I used to conduct conversations. Just thinking about how I used to communicate exhausts me. See the thing is, I used to be uncomfortable with pauses.

My favorite thing about the sound "Om" that we chant in yoga, is its fourth syllable. The fourth syllable is the one you can't hear, the silence after the "mmm." It's because of that silence that we know sound "Om" exists. Pauses hold the sounds that make the words that turn into a conversation. Lots of times, when I pause, it's because I've asked a question and rather that giving options for what the answer might be (told you I used to be a control freak) I can actually learn something by listening to what the answer is. Pauses in the middle of something I'm saying can open me to the "I don't knowness" of it. One thing I DO know is there's LOTS of opportunity and even freedom in "I don't know." My favorite yoga teacher in Taos, Jennifer, talks a lot about how "I don't know" is exactly where we want to be with the poses and with anything; I believe her because I feel it, it's where the openness is.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Thank You Notes

Somewhere along the way it was explained to me that it's always best to start everything with gratitude. Turns out, I LOVE starting every reply, whether in email or on the phone with: "Thank you for your phone call," or "Thank you for your email." I also notice more fluently how deeply I enjoy when other people in my life also start with a thank you. On January 1st, 2012, I arrived at Shree, a yoga studio where I teach, to find a thank you note from the owners to everyone who works there.

One of my teachers says it's very natural to have a check-in with anything (a new girlfriend, a job, etc) after having been in relationship with it for six months. Today I went for a walk over to Sunset Park, to a spot that I had gone to when I first arrived here in Taos, just about six months ago. I was drawn to that section of land in November, sensing gratitude and wanting to sit on the earth in that feeling. I was tickled to find that in the middle of this huge park, in the exact location had walked all the way over to, was the most comfortable chair I had ever sat in in my life.

The gift of the land was even more magical today, green from the spring, damp from the rain and warm from the sun. My chair found a friend in a nearby shrub and is at least twice as comfortable as it was in November.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Wind

It's time for me to get my butt to a mediation class. The technique that I use now, really worked for me when I got serious about meditating, but everyday more and more, my mind figures out ways around it. What's happening as I sit there meditating is kind of like a movie. The Princess Bride is a perfect example. In the movie, there's modern day, a grandpa telling his grandson the story of The Princess Bride and then there's the reality of the people inside that story. Me meditating is the story, I'm finding peace, I'm following my breath; but I never forget about the grandpa and the kid. I've found a loophole in my technique where I can focus on my breath and think at the same time.

Last week, fed-up with all of this, I decided, "Enough! I'm just gonna do my best to inhale every inhale all the way and exhale every exhale all the way." Newflash: there was no grandpa and the kid! If you don't already think I'm crazy, I'll bet you do now! A few minutes after I got up from my seat, I read my horoscope on Free Will Astrology:

"Have you ever had the wind knocked out of you? It feels weird for a short time, but leaves no lasting damage. I'm expecting that you will experience a form of that phenomenon sometime soon. Metaphorically speaking, the wind will get knocked out of you... The wind that will get knocked out of you will be a wind that needed to be knocked out -- a wind that was causing confusion in your gut-level intuition. In other words, you'll be lucky to get that wind knocked out of you. You'll feel much better afterwards, and you will see things more clearly."

Speaking of being a Detox Junkie, I do love to breathe out til the very bottom of my exhale. Science has all kinds of things to say about how cleansing deep breathing can be. Exhaling helps to wash the respiratory system, the lymphatic system, and the blood stream of gases like carbon dioxide. Typically, exhaling is something that requires more awareness than inhaling. Our inhale will happen, because our bodies are designed to survive. But to exhale all the way, until you can't anymore, takes a lot of attention. And in the name of spring cleaning, if nothing else, it feels good to be responsible for no-longer-needed wind getting knocked out.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Detox Junkie

Every now and then you might hear me say something like, "I'm an addict." Sounds serious I know, but one of the reasons I say it is to make it less serious. What I mean by it, essentially, is that I still feel dependent on things outside of myself to make me feel happy. Since this is hard work, and I don't yet see the light at the end of the tunnel, I try to have a good sense of humor about it. One of the things I feel dependent upon to make me feel "happy" is the physical practice of yoga. Interesting thing about the physical practice of yoga is that it's actually pretty detoxifying. I've been doing it very regularly for a bunch of years now and as a result, I have become pretty sensitive to toxins. It's easy to think about toxins as drugs that someone made in their basement or the air in Los Angeles, but thoughts can be toxic too.

In fact, I even have thoughts ABOUT toxins that are toxic. They go something like, "It's springtime, I SHOULD be doing a cleanse," "I feel gross after all of that restaurant food, best to just subsist on coconut water," or maybe, "I'm not so sure those beans were vegetarian, to be safe, I'll never eat beans again."

Lucky for me I've realized that these thoughts and the actions I might take because of them, would propel me from one place where I felt out of balance to another place of little-to-no balance. For the record, I am seeking: balance and answers that are in
me; not in a Blueprint Cleanse bottle.

I have a great deal of respect for a woman who has done a lot of work with this stuff named Geneen Roth. She wrote a book called Women, Food and God that does a fabulous job of pointing me back to myself. Sometimes when I feel toxic and that toxicity creates toxic thoughts, I just open to any page from that book and read. Today's page said:

"Diets are based on the unspoken fear that you are a madwoman, a food terrorist, a lunatic. Eventually you will destroy all you love and so you need to be stopped. The promise of a diet is not only that you will have a different body; it is that having a different body, you will have a different life. If you hate yourself enough, you will love yourself. If you torture yourself enough, you will become a peaceful, relaxed human being."

Word up, Geneen. I'm working on it.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

A Three Legged Crow

When I came to Taos a few weeks before my move to look for apartments, I met a man named Crowfeather. He told me Taos Mountain welcomed me and gave me a crow's feather for protection. He also gave me some rocks for other reasons. I forgot about that crow's feather until the other day when it somehow slid back into sight on my dashboard.

One thing you should know about me is that I have a super-groovy neighbor named Raven. I would like to be besties with her, but we're both just so darn busy. A few weeks ago I figured I ought to look up "Raven" in my Animal Speak book since she's been my neighbor for almost six months now. The Raven section of the book referred me to the Crow section of the book, and Little Miss A.D.D. over here lost momentum.

Then yesterday I wore my hair down, and everybody went live on me. "DUDE, you look SO good!" "Wow, you look so different, you should wear your hair down EVERY DAY." "I didn't even recognize you, I thought you were Sheryl Crow!" Goodness gracious everybody, thanks, geez, eh. Sheryl Who? Nobody's ever told me I look like Sheryl Crow before. Guess it's finally time to get with the whole crow program.

Big section, that Crow section of the book, and I think I will reread it many times. These two sentences are what I needed to hear now: "In China a three-legged sun crow was worshiped. It was the symbol of solitude." I've never even heard of a three-legged crow! Far-out.

Speaking of Raven and being too busy, I am in the process of making a better commitment to time alone. There are so many answers in solitude. A great teacher of mine once told me that it doesn't even matter what I DO in that time, she even mentioned "puttering or rolling pennies, whatever works." Not to toot my own horn, but I'm a world-class putterer. Rolling pennies might just be my next big thing.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Fear and Self-Loathing in New Mexico

The spell has been broken. I started tipsandtricks on Thursday Sept 1st, 2011 and wrote every single Tuesday and Thursday, until the Ides of March. This year on the Ides of March, also known as the day before my birthday, I went on a 14 mile hike to a Boiling Lake with my yoga retreat. I didn't write that day. I considered writing the next day, but it was my birthday, so I encouraged myself to relax and let go of routine. For years I have tried to act cool and not be affected by a change in routine only to be reminded, every time, that I'm just not that cool. I fooled myself that I could fall back into the flow the following Tuesday, barely mentioning the skip, even to myself.

Little Miss Uncool over here has been coming to tipsandtricks every Tuesday and Thursday since the skip, shy to say the least, more like scared. I lost my routine around it. I lost my good habit of writing down every idea I had worth writing about. And most importantly, I lost my confidence.

Last Thursday, as I was TRYING to write, I had an unexpected visit from my neighbor, Lynne. She came to return my 3rd favorite book of all time, Just Kids, which I hadn't even realized I had lent to her. She asked me to come over for tea. We both moved to Taos from New York and keep small studio apartments with no pets and lots of antiques. It felt good to be in her place, drinking chai and listening to her talk excitedly. She's a writer. I told her a little bit about some of the things I had been struggling with and said I felt like I needed a teacher, maybe a writing teacher, one here in New Mexico. She was VERY adamant that I didn't need a writing teacher; I just needed to practice, like, you know, have a routine. She asked me if I knew about Morning Pages. Dude. I love my life. The more specific I get about who I am, the more likely I am to meet my people. I've been doing Morning Pages for years. I could have stayed there forever, listening to her talk about her friends Dennis Hopper and Bob Dylan, but I had to get back for a phone session with my teacher in New York, Jen.

In the beginning of our conversation I heard myself tell Jen about my mind, my enemy, menacing my writing. As I talked it out, I surprised myself by telling her I wanted to sign up for voice lessons. A huge fan of the Throat Chakra, I believe deeply that what our voices need is to be developed. Develop: transitive verb, "to work out the possibilities of." I like it.

I have my first voice lesson today at 2:15. Wish me luck.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

"Even if it doesn't pay"

Oh boy have I been over here trying the FIGURE IT OUT: "Why am I here?" "How come I don't like Spring?" But really, "What the heck should I be doing with my life?"

Silly me, I've been looking for answers everywhere. Nikki McClure is good for one answer every month. The answer according to my wall for April:

So I got on the whole "Free" case. I have a memory of a homework assignment I had in yoga school about freedom. The assignment, in me, caused an epiphany, so I went looking for my answer. I couldn't find that response, but my computer did have these answers:

Ohmygoodness! I LOVE that song "Everything is Free," by Gillian Welch. According to Gillian Welch SHE figured it out, (glad I don't have to) that "we're gonna do it anyway, even if it doesn't pay."

What do I want to do even if it doesn't pay? You know, like, with my FREE time. Turns out, lots of stuff, and, those things that don't pay make me SO HAPPY! Those are the things that I want to keep moving towards, ANY way.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Silent Movie

Whenever I want to analyze a disturbing dream I had, figure out why somebody doesn't like my class, or understand why this married guy keeps flirting with me, I remember what my teacher Jen recommends. She says to watch life, just like it's a silent movie.