Screen out, walk on!

Recently we went on vacation to the mountains. It was really nice to get outside each morning, and simply put one foot in front of the other, enjoying sunlight, breeze, weather, and nature. I decided to stay computer free for the most part, and honestly it was pretty easy, even thought we had the laptop and internet access.

I question, why have computers and gadgets so absorbed our modern minds and time? How many minutes are spent, that in days gone by were used in other ways? A conversation face to face vs. email, a call vs a nebulous text. A hike vs. a facebook flop? I'm not even really speaking to those my age, we are not as supersorbed although we are on the cusp, aol chat was super popular my freshman year at KU, I got email in high school. Many teens and younger are texting hundreds of times a day. Seems like hands and wrists are going to wear out if decades are spent that way. Really we're the first generation that will approach retirement after a lifetime of computers. Should be interesting. And now, unless you actively choose, you can't escape them, and for parents, it could become a battle with children. I read about one family that consciously does weekends electronic free, not a bad idea. All tv, video games, etc are shut down Friday evening, and are not restored until Sunday evening. I think I will aim for something like that if we ever have kids. One thing that may have gone by the wayside in all this is reading. Sad!

A friend recently told us that she doesn't find watching tv relaxing, and I agree, adding to that category any electronic media, it's actually mentally stimulating and tiring! A good book is much more restful. So, here's to reading and hiking. Good for the soul, good for the hands, not to mention legs. And for those weeks we can't avoid screens, a little yoga could be just the right complement.




Have you ever felt a dreadful sense of scarcity creeping up on you? I'd say a lot of advertising plays into this very human feeling of the fear of running out. Any major disaster sends people rushing out to buy batteries, water, you name it. That's an extreme example, how about simply "2 for 1, supplies are limited, get yours now!" Why is it so effective on us? Do we truly fear that if we don't get the item, we'll never have a chance again? Do we really need 2 of something, vs, the 1? Maybe. Probably not.

I thought of this lately when our power went out for about two days, in the heat of July. Suddenly power felt like everything that was unsatisfactory or not quite right in life, in a strange way. It was sorta like life stopped a little, even though time was marching stoically on of course. Time honestly did seem to slow down, we got to chat with the tree trimmer than was very jovial and a true character, and caught up with a family member that helped fix the electricity on the snapped line.

No cool air, couldn't open the fridge for fear of spoiling the food, no chance to dry my hair or even light to see to put on makeup, until I adapted, and used a mirror by the window one day, and just went makeup free a day or two, not a huge deal in the grand scheme of life, actually probably good for you! I realized if I have a kid someday, it's going to alter my life like this, but times 1 million, and lots of awesome parts too of course! I'm not sure what really bothered me the most about no electricity, in fact I found myself realizing that it felt like my time in Mexico and Spain, where natural light was abundant, and I found a true happiness of scrimping in using the same towel for a week, (although two would have been nice, there's the scarcity elf talking!).

Eww, the American in you might bemoan, but there is an honest and simple pleasure in using a bottle to the last drop, and I think it's missing from our American lifestyle. It may actually be a source of lack of satisfaction. Lease a new car every 3 years, throw your old clothes out often, huh? I do love the fact that my car is paid off and now it's free driving for years, I hope! I have a few shirts from high school that are very dear, connecting me to another time and place so they will never get tossed, even if they're a little worn. And yet there is that scarcity imp on my shoulder that does keep egging me on. Get a fancy newer car, you can "afford" it, the newspaper is no help, neither are the multiple emails to buy buy buy. Such a good question, "just because you can, should you?"

Yoga talks about many concepts where using only what we really need is good. I'm not going to to go into them today, but they are there. To summarize, you might say, "be good, do good", and part of doing good is not stomping a Yeti-sized carbon footprint all over this lovely little planet. I know I should try to embrace austerity, even though it's hard. I'm making some progress, even if it is in baby steps. I gave away my chair and a metal shelf that were simply taking up space, now they'll get good use. I stopped delivery of the paper and donated it to local schools, rather then collect them all when I get back from a trip and probably won't even have time to read them. These are tiny movements, true, but they do mean something. I read somewhere and it keeps coming back to me, the little things that you do, actually DO count. In the end, some happiness comes from not getting what we want all the time. It's actually loathesome if we never embrace a little scarcity. Look at Willy Wonka's delightful dispatch of several spoiled children. Charlie was much happier than the rest of that lot.

Here's to embracing or at least tolerating a little lack every once in a while, goodness knows we go for extra quite a bit, and balance is often the key to enjoyment of life. Now the air is flowing, the laundry is whirring and while I'm grateful, there is a part of me realizing I enjoyed washing a few dishes by hand, and now I really appreciate a little coolness as I come in from the swampy conditions of soccer camp each morning. Ahhh! Refreshing, and I wouldn't have realized it so well, without having gone without.



Thank You

Thanks to friends and family for sharing in a fun evening of laughter, conversation, and exploring YogaMar Studio. Remember, a class of two or more can be set up at any time by appointment. If you didn't get a chance to see the studio, give me a ring or email and we can figure something out.

Remember, a studio experience is by no means necessary for your yoga practice. One nice things about yoga is that you can develop your personal practice anywhere and anytime. To me, a group class is nice to develop new poses and fresh ideas, possibly to encourage yourself to a regular practice in order to maintain flexibility and strength, and maybe as a social approach to exercise. Often we choose social support whether it is a means to foster learning (social theory of learning, supported by Bandura), vacation tour group, or yoga! It may keeps us taking care of ourselves if we value not just the experience, but also derive joy when we share the experience with others.



Present Yourself!

I posted a poll on the blog recently and it turns out staying in the present moment is one of the more difficult parts of yoga for a few of us! I looked around online a bit for ideas to staying in the present, one idea stood out. Do each action for the joy of the action, rather than a further result. For example, take joy in each dish you clean, rather than seeking a clean kitchen to feel good. If you work in the garden, select several tasks. Recently a yoga teacher shared a pearl of wisdom from her teacher, "anything worth doing at all is worth doing well". And worth enjoying I would add!!

The other day I was teaching yoga class and of course thinking ahead a bit (you sorta have to as a teach) and it was funny because it occurred to me that teaching yoga may actually be contrary to the goal (of yoga) to stay in the present. I do think teachers should take classes too, it's a 180 degree different experience! One blog I follow is a yogini that lives in Germany, most of her practice is personal, but she occasionally attends a class she calls, a led class. I like that, led. She enjoyed the group energy and interaction, which I think is one major benefit of coming together with others to explore yoga. It's at once a personal and connective experience. However, it's not the same as a shot at personal practice. Whenever I practice yoga alone, I am stunned by the experience as it guides itself.

I recall somewhere a teacher said to a yoga class I took (at the end), "coming back to the group, or if you prefer, not coming back to the group at all". I liked it, very free flow, I could have stayed curled in a ball til the others left. I'm not that advanced yet in my personal practice (or maybe it just seemed too individualistic) so I went with returning to the group, but it was cool that she threw it out there.

So honestly why the heck should we even try to stay in the present moment? After all it's very fleeting! Maybe because the past and future can be so difficult for our souls to bear. Old memories kindle, the future looms up as we try to lasso it and whip it into some kinda shape, basically we have no control in the past and future. The past cannot change, the future inevitably will. I've known a person or two that seemed perpetually upset because they wanted to control their life to the nth degree. I am sad for people that feel that way. A dent in the car or burnt cookies sets off rage and upset of epic proportions. We all have our moments of course, but for some they're having these moments real often and it's definitely not good for the health!

Some of the coolest experiences of my life have been totally the unknown. Living in Spain for a year (I came back 7 years ago today, happy fourth y'all,I think that was a Sunday too, how funny, oops I'm receding into the past Laura K!) was totally unpredictable and it was delightful. College. Australia. Teaching. All unknown avenues to embrace with my best effort. So, if we can somehow practice floating around in the present, maybe all of our greatest disappointments, hopes, fears, and pressures lift off of our souls and they can simply soar. Light but powerful, at peace in asanas, perhaps our soul adjusts and stretches out with this heavy load floating elsewhere. As we return to our typical state, the load is shifted, smaller, more manageable, and definitely easier to shoulder. So, please, give yourself a break and find the present. This could be in yoga or some other activity that takes your concentration to the here and now. A few that work for me besides yoga are: swimming laps, reading a great book, laying by a pool with some music, riding in the car with my husband on a trip, and gardening. Think of any activity in which time flies for you. I think children have an easier time with this, we adults must work a little to return to it, but it's definitely doable.

Here's to finding these Narnia closets to our present, they are different for each of us, and may even change during our lifetime but they are lovely and worth the search. One final quote I saw somewhere recently. "Why do they call it the present? Because it is a gift."


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