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Filtering by Tag: stillness

CHATTER

Cindy Maddera

My head space has been really crowded with chatter lately. There are fifty different thoughts and conversation happening loudly all at once in there. The other day it was so bad that I almost stepped off my yoga mat five minutes into my practice, but I stayed put and did my best to make the yoga teacher voice the loudest. There have been moments during my practice while holding a pose for an extended period of time, it has felt as if my brain would explode from the vibration of noise in there. There is a screaming voice yelling at me to get up, move, stop being still. 

Buddha said that the human mind is full of drunken monkeys. What an amazingly accurate description and such a visual one. I can easily see a wild pack of monkeys in various states of drunkenness with all the drunk personalities represented. It's like the party scene from Breakfast at Tiffany's except all the actors are played by monkeys. There's even one laughing hysterically one minute at it's reflection and then sobbing the next minute. Buddha taught that you should not try to fight these monkeys (because monkeys can bite), but instead learn to tame them by sitting quietly in daily meditation. The Yoga Sutras refer to these monkeys as chitta vritti. Sutra 1.2, "yoga chitta vritti nirodha" translates to "yoga is the silencing of the modifications of the mind." For years and years and years, yoga has been taught as a way to prepare the body for meditation and can even be a moving meditation in of itself. 

There are loads of scientific papers that validate the importance of meditation. It reduces anxiety. It lowers blood pressure. It down regulates inflammatory genes and up regulates immune system genes. Researchers even believe that meditation could aid in the prevention of Alzheimer's disease. So I really should be meditating. My meditation practice fell apart years ago though and every attempt I've made to revive that practice has failed. I have settled into the idea that my meditation practice is a moving meditation practice. It happens when I am flowing through rounds of sun salutations and when I take my walks. Yet, I recognize that I really need to practice the art of stillness. Those evenings around the campfire when I sat and journaled our day and then drew cartoons in the margins were the closest to stillness that I have come in a long time. That is why I have signed up for a meditation and journaling workshop on Sunday at Sunshine Studio. We all need a little nudge and I am hoping to gain some momentum from this workshop rebuild my meditation practice.

Because those drunk monkeys are starting to look like an out of control Frat party. 

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

This week, I walked into my therapist's office and immediately flopped down onto her chase lounge just like you see people do in the movies. She looked down at me and asked "are we laying down today?". I nodded my head yes and she went to her chair and sat down with an "okay!". I usually sit. Sometimes I kick my shoes off and tuck my feet into a lotus position, but I never lay down. Usually because I'm pretty sure I'm going to fall asleep. For some reason though, I decided that maybe the possibility of accidentally falling asleep through a session wasn't on the top of my list of some of the worst things I could do. I laid there for a few minutes, not saying anything, just being still. Finally, I took a deep breath and said "sometimes, it is nice to just be still." and my therapist agreed with me and then we sat in stillness for a few minutes before beginning our session. 

I struggle with stillness. While we were on our camping trip a couple of weekends ago, I was constantly up and fiddling about, straightening this, cleaning up that. Michael and Ted had gone to the store, leaving me and Jennifer alone at camp with the girls. They had been gone long enough for Jennifer and I to realize that we had made a terrible mistake in letting the two of them go to the store by themselves. I sat down in my camp chair and said "Okay...I'm going to not move from this chair for fifteen minutes." A second later I was up and doing something around the camp site. This is normal behavior. When Talaura was visiting, I kept us busy running us around the city all day. We would get home and I would still be up and about, messing with laundry or cleaning the kitchen. At one point Talaura even said "Cindy...why don't you sit down and rest?" She knew that I had to be running on fumes and she knew that I probably needed permission from someone else that it was okay to relax.

I know it must sound kind of surprising to hear that someone who practices yoga and writes about mindfulness has a hard time being still. Savasana, or final relaxation pose, still remains the most challenging, yet most important pose in my practice. Some days are better than others of course. This is true of anything, but there are times when I surrender easily into savasana. I get up from my mat after those easy savasanas feeling slightly loopy and then take forever getting my mat folded up and my shoes back on. I know it is possible for me to be still. I just have to work at it. This week, I have been practicing moments of stillness. I've been looking into going back to temple to get my meditation practice under control. I've sat with the dog draped across my lap while reading a book. I have surrendered completely to savasanas.

I am thankful for this practice in stillness.  

THANKFUL FRIDAY

Cindy Maddera

Monday evening, I got home from work and the sun was still up and the temperatures where near sixty. I wrangled Josephine into her walking harness and hooked on her leash just as she grabbed the middle section of her leash and pulled towards the door. She always wants to be clear; she is walking me and not the other way around. We stepped outside and headed out onto the sidewalk with Josephine's little feet dancing from smell to smell. We walked to the park where Josephine sniffed noses with another pooch who was there with his people and wiggled her butt at other walkers on the trail. 

It has been months since I have taken Josephine for a walk after work. The lack of daylight and cooler weather just zapped me. I gave it a good try and ended up walking in the dark for a while, Michael didn't care for that. He bought me a personal alarm that I am supposed to clip to my coat. There's a plastic pin, like a grenade, that I pull if someone is attacking me and the clip starts screeching in a loud high pitched alarm sound. When he gave it to me, he clipped it to my coat and said "Okay. Someone's coming at you. What do you do?" I grabbed the pin and threw it across the living room. In the scramble to retrieve the pin and stop the alarm, Michael knocked the pin under the china cabinet that has a very low clearance with the floor. His giant man hands had a hard time recovering the pin. If the attacker feels like he needs to go after the pin and things turn out like they did for Michael, I think I'll be fine. Any way, it is not the dark that upsets me as much as it is the cold. 

We've reached that part of winter where it is obviously still winter. Today's temperatures are in the thirties, but occasionally there's a mix up (or global warming...it's really because of global warming) and we get a day that is filled with sun and Spring like temperatures. I am always thankful for those days and do what I can to make the most of the sunshine. I am even more thankful that this opportunity presented itself at the beginning of the week. It set a tone of calmness and reflection that I have not been making enough time for and the result has been reflected in my response to conflict. I've taken a moment to reason before reacting. This does not mean I'm backing down from my fight against racism and anti-science and all of the other horrible things the Trump administration represent. It just means I won't stoop to the level of "your mother" in my attacks and defenses. My weapons are truth and reasoning and critical thinking. My goal is not to increase the divide but to convince those on the other side to have compassion and empathy for others not like them. "Do unto others...."

On Tuesday, I discovered four eggs in the chicken coop. On Wednesday I went to yoga class and discussed setting up a time with Shannon to go over the workshop I have developed for yoga straps. On Thursday, I spent a minute laying in a sunny windowsill. On Friday, I re-watched a video that Amy sent me from Charolette that began with "Cindy...I love you." and ended with "chickens poop and eggs come out." This has been a good week filled with gratitude. I hope that you have had moments in the week to be thankful for as well. Here's to a quiet weekend and a very Thankful Friday.