Yes. This post is late. Normally I might be inclined to apologize for this, but I am not going to do so today. This post is late because I have been busy – not the kind of busy that I was during my stint in school, butthe kind of busy that comes from being blessed with creative inspiration and the energy to see that inspiration through to action. May was a truly transformative and productive month, and June is proving to be a continuation of that theme, which delights me to no end.
Let me begin this post with a resolution roundup. In April I resolved to make five small additions to my daily lifestyle. Here’s what I asked of myself:
1. Meditate daily. (minimum 5 minutes)
2. Practice yoga asana daily. (minimum 15 minutes)
3. Eat clean. (No emotional feeding. Real planned meals.)
4. Do something creative every week.
5. Drink 4 liters water daily.
To be completely honest, I didn’t do all of them all days. But I did stick to this plan on many days. And I was always aware of working toward meeting these requests of myself. I think that was part of what made them easier to actualize: In considering them requests, and requests that I really had a deep desire to fulfill, I didn’t feel guilty when I didn’t do them, but rather I felt that I’d missed out on something great. That made it easier to pick myself up, dust myself off and jump right back into the practice of living these new activities.
I must admit, that I can definitely sense a difference in my life. It is simultaneously subtle and boldly evident. And it’s wonderful. I read a quote recently from Annie Dillard’s book, The Writing Life (via brain pickings weekly), which seems to sum it up perfectly and profoundly for me:
HOW WE SPEND OUR DAYS IS HOW WE SPEND OUR LIVES.
Simple, right? Yes, and so absolutely true. A life is merely a stringing together of moments, of days, of experiences. Each one affects the other in a beautiful wave of cumulative karmic energy. So how I live each day is really how I am living my life. Chew on that for a spell, and tell me you don’t begin to reevaluate your daily routines and activities. This quote just gives me further affirmation that making even the smallest changes to my daily routines can make a big impact on the quality of my life.
Thanks to my meditation practice, I am finding much more equanimity in my reactions to daily situations and experiences. I am more easily able to adjust my attitude to one of positivity, compassion and optimism. This is a most-appreciated gift as my natural (or learned?) inclination is to see the doubt before the hope, the defeat before the possibility. This new clarity also seems to be allowing for a lightness in body, mind and spirit, as well as a new opening of creative channels in which ideas are beginning to grow and flow.
This new creative flow is also, I believe, aided by my yoga asana practice. I am no longer worrying about the length of time spent on the mat. I find that puts me in my old quantifying state of mind which makes the practice seem more like drudgery to be put behind me rather than a joyful experience that I do because I love doing it. I turned to Ashtanga yoga for some inspiration and to provide a sequenced practice about which I don’t have to think. I’m beginning with small requests of myself. I started out doing a few Surya Namaskar A sequences. Then added a few more. Then added to that some Surya Namaskar B sequences. And then even more of these, too. Once I’m feeling like I have a good habitable routine with these, I will start adding in some of the Primary Series, and so on until I have a practice that I don’t have to think about doing. It will just be part of who I am. I am still feeling resistance on some – well, actually, many – mornings, but most mornings, I’m able to acknowledge the resistance and step onto the mat anyway. And I always feel better for having done so. I find that having the sequencing already mapped out for me also gets me out of my head so I can focus on the physical and spiritual experience more. I prefer to practice first thing in the morning. That’s mostly because I tend to not do it if I wait until later in the day. Now that I’m walking everywhere again, and working so much (all bodywork now – no more part time variety gigs!), my body gets very tight and a little sore during the night. Practicing in the morning helps to counter that stiffness so I can manage through my day with more grace and ease of movement. As the body opens, so, too, do the mind and spirit. My soul seems lighter, my heart seems fuller and my mind has more clarity on days when I’ve practiced my yoga. It’s a good reminder why I fell in love with the practice in the first place.
Food continues to be a bit of a struggle for me, as I have always been one to comfort myself with the stuff. However, I have been making positive strides toward truly clean eating. I have been much better about shopping the farmers’ market every week and prepping my food immediately so that meals can come together quickly and easily during the week. Mornings are typically good. I almost always start my day with a spicy breakfast soup. It’s a recipe I concocted one day that was inspired by my meals in Thailand. It’s good to consume liquids upon waking to rehydrate the body and get the systems of elimination fluid again. Heat, both in temperature and in spice, can aid this gentle waking of all the body systems. Trace elements from seaweed and protein from egg mean that I give my body a good store of energy and antioxidants to perform better during the day. It’s good stuff, plus it tastes great. Lunch is usually some protein and vegetables. Dinner, however, is a little more difficult. I’m still trying to hash out my work schedule, but this month and last I have been working a lot of afternoon-to-late-evening shifts. It’s usually about 6 hours of seeing massage clients and no time to eat. Then when I get home I am exhausted and hungry. I don’t feel like making anything, and all I want to do is reach for my comfort foods. I don’t keep those in the house anymore, so that means that I’m stopping by the market on my way home from work to spend money on things I shouldn’t be eating. It’s usually plantain chips or taro chips or cheese, or when it’s hot out, ice cream. So, this is my challenge area. And I’m working on it. At least I can say that there has been some improvement, even if it’s slow and small.
Drinking water helps when I’m feeling a feeding frenzy coming on. In fact, if I’m doing well enough to drink my water appropriately during the day (and not leaving it all for one big guzzle fest in the evening – so bad!), then I’m a million times less likely to cave to my cravings. I’ve been able to honor this request of 4 liters daily about 50% of the time. But I’ve gotten pretty close the other 50%, so I consider it good progress. It’s always amazing to me how easy it is to forget to hydrate. Oh well, onward and upward (with the water bottle!)
As I mentioned above, several of these new-ish additions to my daily life have been increasing my creative drive already. So the request to do something creative every week has been happening even when I haven’t managed to actively schedule something on the calendar. I’ve taken photo walks, completed a few sewing projects, rearranged furniture, hung and decorated shelves, reorganized LOTS of things that needed reorganizing, studied a language, baked for friends, played with makeup and nail polish, worked on art projects, and had tons upon tons of ideas. It’s been wonderful. I’ve noticed myself coming up with creative solutions to problems that would have stumped me in the past. And I’ve noticed fewer snafus in general. I’ve read books, written poems, sung songs, and danced. And I’ll be continuing to do these things and more!
In fact, I am keeping all of these resolutions/requests for June and am adding a few more to them. Here are the new ones:
6. Go to bed by 11p every night. Wake up by 6a every morning.
7. Exfoliate the skin EVERY DAY.
8. Visit with a friend(s) once a week.
9. Spend at least one hour each week researching work-related travel opportunities.
10. Spend at least 30 minutes each day working on my business. (CEUs, online research, book study, website planning, class planning, workshop planning, etc., etc.)
So, what about you? Did you make any resolutions/requests for yourself in May? Did you honor them? How has your life changed because of the practice? I’d love to hear about your experiences. Regardless of whether you choose to share or not, I hope you are having as much fun transforming your life as I am mine.
Namaste + xoxo,
one of my sewing projects – a bag for my yoga mat
image from one of my photo walks
some of the new shelves i hung in the living room
spicy breakfast soup