Allowing Myself

…to feel, to love, to be.

Tag: practices

Hand To Heart

“Knowing we can create a safe space for ourselves, no matter where we are or how we feel, is a gift that will last the rest of your life.”
~Susannah Conway

It started with a simple suggestion from Heidi Taylor. That I could put my hand on my heart*, breathe in an observation (usually an unhappy, panicked one of overhwhelm) like “I don’t know how to deal with these emails” and then breathe out a response (usually a productive, supportive and self-loving suggestion) “sort them by sender, set a timer and take them one at a time”.

This practice of breathing with my hand to my heart started to create space around my responses to things. It gave me a way to acknowledge what I’m feeling and to self-soothe. Game changer.

I’ve also started meditating – short little guided meditations from Susannah Conway’s The Sacred Alone. I signed up for the class months ago, but never participated in real time. I try to do them when I wake up, between drinking some water and writing my morning pages.

These practices spilled over into my free time. I chose to go without any music or podcasts during a few of my commutes and a few 2m runs. One night, I laid down on the floor in our office, in the dark, and just watched the sky. A few days I didn’t check Twitter at all. I started reading a new book. I took my lunch break at the beach & stared at the waves.

With my anxiety up a lot the past few weeks, it’s been really amazing to have these physical practices of both self-soothing with my hand to my heart and sitting still for a few minutes while meditating. Both get me more into my body and out of my head, where the anxieties tend to grab their fuel. Making the conscious decision to limit the input/output of my days only creates more space.

It seems that what I’ve been craving is space. Safe, open, calm space. And space + noticing seems to equal presence. Because I don’t want to miss my one precious life. I want to live it.

*Heidi will tell you she found this practice via Kristin Neff.

**I highly recommend this hand-to-heart practice. Go on. Give it a try xo

 

 

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Experiencing It

Today, after writing my trusty morning pages, I rolled out my mat and did this week’s free class at YogaToday. This is not typical. My relationship with yoga is one of mostly avoidance on my part. I mean, why would I make time for something that makes me happy?

Last week, a thought hit me – how much my days are truly full of normal yet “perfect day” activities – writing, conversations, exercise, walks with the dog, podcasts, husband, cooking, photo snapping and reading. I don’t force myself to read, I just pick up a book and spend some time. Whenever I remember to snap a few photos, I feel lighter. Once I get going, exercise and cooking are both awesome, relaxing pursuits. And every morning I write 3-pages of long hand no matter what my mood, my sleep cycle, the weather or my issues. No questions.

So today while I’m smack in the middle of this yoga class, sweat beading on my forehead, my legs and arms stretched in side-angle pose, I feel this tense thought, “When is this class going to start?”

What?” another part of my mind demanded. “START?!” As if the sweat and shaky muscles weren’t enough of an indication, the sun had moved up past the window and time had obviously lapsed.

But what did this mean? How could I be half-way through a yoga class, connecting to my breathe and moving my body, and be that disconnected? Or more so, that outside of this string of present moments that my brain wasn’t on-board with the experience my body was having.

It was so odd. It was like I was expecting something, a more utopian version of what “doing yoga” should be / feel like. And it brought me back to last week’s thought about my beautifully full days and how all of these things are practices that I’ve slowly incorporated into my life. I didn’t used to write, take photos, blog, walk the dog, read and cook every day (sometimes I still don’t, but I make sure to get a few in before work). And that yoga was another practice I could add in, something I do no matter my mood, because it’s good for me and I’m always better for it after it’s done.

And how, by building in these practices of showing up, these daily rituals, I’m less inclined to be swayed by Resistance to avoid these good-for-my-soul actions. That’s where I think my thought came from today during yoga – my brain (ego) was still trying to talk me out of doing yoga by complaining that the class was so boring or low-level that it felt like it hadn’t even started yet. How silly. It comes up when I think about writing instead of moving my hand across the page or when I fantasize about baking instead of pulling the bags of flour and sugar out of the cabinet.

It’s really a matter of doing, of acknowledging the thoughts that try to deter us, thanking them for their care, and then continuing on with our practices anyways. Because the love I have for my life is not made up of the thoughts I had about doing or not doing something, but about the memories I have of actually experiencing it.