Inventing the word Efforting

It was day 7 of a 9 day intensive training in mindfulness. There were 50 of us and many came from other countries and were immersed in teachings that were not in their native language. Several times one of them would speak about the mental exhaustion that came with learning this way. I gave myself a mental note.  I really focused on it.

“Karen, do not take a training in a second language. It is just too hard.” Reserving some of my limited mental space for this important directive.

Then, I remembered, “You don’t HAVE a second language.”

There was absolutely no risk that I might sign up for anything whatsoever in a nonexistent second language! I laughed at myself for putting so much energy into remembering something that required absolutely no energy at all.
On the last morning of the training I recognized how often I do that. How frequently I make something effortful that will unfold naturally on its own. I saw my habit of “efforting”; of outlining and planning and attempting to organize the future.

So often, what is called for is simply “being.”
Any effort that might be required will arise naturally out of the being.
A question I am holding when I am on my yoga mat now is
“Where am I efforting? Where I am trying to make something happen when I could relax into being and just watch what unfolds?
And how does holding that question shift things in my mind, body and breath?”

Karen

Photo by Mike Summers – www.mikesummers.net

Meditations on Love from Unexpected Places

I LOVE Valentine’s Day! I know a lot of folks think of it as a Hallmark holiday but for me it has always been a day of getting to watch expressions of love as action (which along with chocolate, is my love language—but we’ll get to that later). For me, words can be wonderful, but action? Well, it can bust my heart wide open.

Having my heart busted open is what has happened for me every Valentines Day for the past 8 years. You see, I have a specific meditation practice that I do every Valentines Day. Have you seen the movie “Love Actually”? The ending (spoiler alert) shows clips of expressions of love between families, friends, and lovers all happening as they greet each other at the airport. I have never looked at an airport arrival area the same since watching that movie. Well, translate that scene to the Fred Meyers parking lot on Valentine’s Day. I sit in my car in the morning with my Starbucks drink and watch (mostly) men walk into the store with determination, fear, concern, bewilderment on their faces and walk out with carnations, roses balloons, chocolates. For the bewildered ones, all of the above. Then there are the kids coming out with something they are proud of for a teacher, a parent or a grandparent. It is love in action and it gets me every year.

How we love each other and find ways to love each other can be tricky. We all have unmet needs, we all have past wounds, we all have an ego that can jump in the way and muck things up; but I think for most of us there is an enormous discomfort with laying it all out there and allowing ourselves to be vulnerable. So this might knock your socks off, the way it did mine…

Recently, a sweet man and beautiful soul called me with a question that he had been contemplating since reading an article from Buddhist Monk and meditation guru, Thich Naht Hahn.   He asked simply, “How can I love you better?”

Can you imagine being asked that question? I believe my response was a 3-minute, “uhhhhhhhhhhhh” while my brain melted down.   It was like some small corner of my heart that had never seen daylight just had the blinds thrown open. When my brain was back on-line, my response was the truest thing I have ever said, “you just did.”

Since then, I think about that question a lot in relation to my sons, my parents, friends, my peeps in my 7am class on Mondays; I even thought it recently of a guy working at the pharmacy that I wanted to throttle (a story for another day.) I allowed myself to feel the throttling urge for a bit, but I eventually got to “love you better” with him. Which consisted of simply choosing to not throttle him, of course.

This Valentine’s Day, I invite you to melt the brains of the people you love. “How can I love you better?”

Their answers may surprise you. If they are speechless, like I was, pick up the book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. It’s a guide that helps you outline how you best feel and receive love (acts of service, words of affirmation, receiving gifts, quality time or physical touch). It also helps you identify which language resonates with your loved ones best, how they best feel loved.   Often times, we give in a language that we like to receive in, when the target of our love may have a heart that speaks a completely different language. There is a version of the book for every relationship: couples, kids, teens, singles even an edition for those in the military.

Brene’ Brown says “vulnerability is about having the courage to show up and be seen.” So I invite you, on the Valentines Day, be courageous, show up, ask good questions, melt someone’s brain. And don’t forget to ask this question of yourself as well. How can you show up for yourself, love yourself better, allow for more self –compassion with the same care that you do the people you love most?

In the spirit of this deep practice, I will meet you on the mat…and possibly in the Fred Meyer’s parking lot on Valentines Day.

Suzy

 

 

 

 

 

Another Way to Meet You on Your Mat

The three of us are sitting by a fire in the Cedarwood Hotel. We are on a planning retreat and contemplating our 10 year anniversary which arrives this June. Already we have repeated a favorite mantra of ours which has been joyfully proclaimed in the past while singing at the top of our lungs with Kirtan, dancing with a beautiful group of new training graduates, sun saluting amidst yogis and fishermen at the waters edge or whispered in the heart of a labrynth …
“We’re working right now.”

In 2005 we aspired to create a studio as a way to connect with others and build community around all things yoga. Time and again we marvel at the privilege of immersing ourselves in the practices that speak to our hearts along side others who share in that joy and inspire us at every turn. Yet through this decade-long journey we have found that running a business has a tendency to pull us away from our mats. We didn’t anticipate government audits, fighting to change tax codes, unreliable HVAC units , break-ins, and having to meet with so many professionals whose attire does not include yoga pants. Yet it was returning to our mats again and again that kept it alive and juicy and sustaining for us. We don’t get excited over paint quotes, but we are deeply fed by sharing what we are learning and practicing with you, who are willing to come and play.

Before we opened our doors, we made an intention that Three Trees Yoga would be a safe-space that builds community of like-minded hearts and minds and that the people who visit feel supported. Our intention now with this blog is to cast that net in a virtual way; for us to connect and continue strengthening our yogic community. In truth, we do it with trepidation. There is risk involved in putting ourselves out there in black and white with no take-backs; which explains why it has been lingering on our to-do list for a few years now. Yet something calls us to share our stories of how these ancient truths of yoga support and direct us in this real world of unexpected challenges and glorious surprises.   We hope this serves as another opportunity to meet you on your mat.

Suzy, Karen & Jeni