Leaf Lessons

It feels like the annual tree dance took quite a while to get going this year, but suddenly the leaves are turning gorgeous shades of warmth, and some branches are already appearing to bare slightly. A few of these organic masterpieces are now glowing at the height of brilliance, with such a delicate shading of green to yellow to orange to red, it almost seems to me as though the tree is a shimmering three dimensional portal to another place far away and divine.

Perhaps we are seeking to make a change in our own lives too? Much as the trees, it may feel like no change is visible for days or weeks, but if we focus our energy and will, day by day we can enact subtle shifts and before we know it, a new season is revealed in our life's journey. For example, I recently decided to give up caffeine. I wasn't drinking too much, about 1/2 a small cup of strong coffee before 7am, but I felt like I was relying on it too much to go from a coma-like state to false energy each dawn. Also I wanted to add a daily practice of yoga in the morning so I figured that could be my new cafe, replace a bad habit with good to wake me up more naturally.

I really had to think it out, because I do not instantly wake up in the morning like some people, in fact I think my brain stays in alpha waves for a while. I set my ipod alarm clock on a peaceful but peppy playlist, and programmed my autolight to come on. It seemed cold in the mornings but I made it through the week, adding small shifts along the way. I use a metal container to hold my mat right by the wall to remind me to lay it out and find my practice. I didn't do down dog or anything more energetic the first few days, I was too sleepy. I tried to use the 1/2 series some, and then decided to focus on a standing warm up because child's or supine was just too much like bed and brought those soporific alpha waves back. Today I finally reprogrammed the thermostat to automatically warm up a little more around 5am, so it's not as chilly by 5:30 when I get up.

As for the coffee that was tough as well. The first day I had some weak tea with a little caffeine, but still suffered the typical headache I get when not drinking coffee so I had some tylenol ready to help. My whole head felt like it was too big for my skull, and in general I felt a little more slow and clumsy, especially before I got out the door in the morning. However, it's been a full five days and I feel pretty good. I think my sleep has been more restful, and I feel more calm, less easily excited or stressed. I have had enjoyed a little dark chocolate here and there, so I'm not 100% caffeine free, but much closer than before. This is probably the longest I have gone without coffee for a few years. I'm not sure if I'll stay off it, spring can be difficult with soccer, my energy levels usually get absorbed more then, but maybe this year will be a little easier since last spring was the first official season. Also, I just feel that a change exists now, one that is interesting and worthwhile. When I knew I would eat out, I imagined asking for water in advance so I would not accidently order a diet coke in a weak moment. At a work lunch, they had a cooler of coke but I saw a water peeking out and grabbed it gladly.

What yoga philosophy is required to enact change? One yama and two niyamas come to mind. Tapas is our discipline, Shaucha is our purity, and Brahmacharya our moderation. Change is not easy, but it is often powerful, and always possible. May you find the change you seek, one leaf at a time. Feel free to comment and share here any new experiences that you are exploring!


1 comment:

E. Michelle said...

Good luck with your caffeine detox! Our chakra center of change is located in our throats. A good affirmation to try is place your hand over your throat and say "I am willing to change" as you focus your mind on what you want to change. You may notice afterwards you will have some activity in your throat. :-)

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