Grace

As I sat at the beginning of yoga class, the teacher read something inspirational from a book, and I  don’t remember anything about it except that it was about grace. When she finished, she asked us to close our eyes and ask  “What is grace to me, today?”

So I asked, and immediately heard, “Everything is all right.”

I wasn’t sure I heard right, so I asked, “Grace is – that everything is all right?”

Grace is KNOWING that everything is all right.”

Not that everything is going to be all right, everything is all right.

EVERYTHING is all right.

Everything IS all right.

Everything is ALL right.

Everything is all RIGHT.

And, in the midst of peace, or in the midst of trouble and turmoil, I KNOW that everything is all right, and THIS is grace.

I have a Bible verse tattooed on my left upper arm, the culmination of 25+ years of being a conservative Christian, the last 12 of those years as an active member of the Christian Motorcyclists Association, where tattoos are common and grace abounds.

“I am saved by GRACE through Faith. It is God’s GIFT.” -Ephesians 2:8

I’ve heard a lot of definitions for the word grace and what it takes to be “saved”, but the only thing I really understood is that it is a gift. I got this tattoo only 4 years ago, when I was on my way out of a bad marriage and out of the CMA. I stopped going to church regularly a few months later.  As I freed myself from the dogmatism of the churches I had been in, I began to find more love, peace and compassion within myself, as well as great gratitude for grace.

I still pondered the meaning of grace. And many times I have wished I didn’t have this tattoo. But now, I know that everything is all right, and that THIS is my saving grace.

Let us be like little children, with simple faith, knowing that everything is all right.

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Pelicans and playdough

I love looking at the world through the eyes of a child.

wp-1478539610438.jpgMy granddaughter is not quite 3. Everything is new and interesting and amazing. We sat outside for a long time watching the pelicans who have come to roost for a while. It is still balmy here on the Gulf Coast, and I think they will leave when the weather turns cool. It is amazing watching them skim the surface of the water, or dive for a fish, or propel themselves to land. (wish I had a better camera!)

“Why?” is the question from her lips today. Why do the birds fly, why are the birds here, why do they want to eat the fish? Then when we’ve exhausted those answers, she asks “why not?” I don’t think she really knows what she is asking, but it certainly makes me think. I’ve always been one to try to answer those questions for my children without being cliche. I don’t like to say just because, or God made them that way. Why  do the birds fly? How do you answer?

wp-1478540617187.pngAfter a while we got hot and came inside for a cool drink and the next thing. I had made some homemade playdough so we had fun with that for a while. She likes to cut and squish and “make pizza” and I made snails, which she thought was pretty cool. This, too, was accompanied by the delightful conversation of someone just discovering the world and learning to use words.

Delightful day.

 

Yoga, I love you

I may have mentioned this before, but I am in love.

Since leaving my day job, I have spent more time with yoga, and this love I have for it – it is the real thing.

I was briefly introduced to yoga five years ago at a gym I belonged to. I thought it was pretty great, but didn’t have much time for it. Two years ago, we were reacquainted during my trip to the Chopra Center. The best thing I learned there is that I can have a relationship with yoga even if I can’t sit in lotus or do certain asanas (postures).

Shortly after that I discovered the yoga studio less than two miles from where I live, and began to go weekly, for a while. Then I began studying ayurveda, and since I still worked full time, it was a challenge to get to class, so I stopped going regularly. In the meantime, I began to learn more about what yoga actually is.

The word yoga means union, and is a means to bring your entire being into balance and union with the greater consciousness many people call God. A common perception of yoga is that it is about moving your body into different positions to increase physical fitness, but there is so much more to it than that.

There are eight limbs of yoga:

  • Yama – this is about our behavior, principles, and how we conduct ourselves in life
  • Niyama – has to do with self- discipline and spiritual practices and routines
  • Asana – the postures practiced in yoga, through which we develop habits of discipline
  • Pranayama – this is about the breath
  • Pratyahara – withdrawing from sensory stimulation and looking inside
  • Dharana – concentration, dealing with the distractions of the mind
  • Dhyana – meditation or contemplation
  • Samadhi – transcendence, connection with the Divine, interconnectedness with all living beings

There are quite a few flavors of yoga, and this Mind Body Green piece explains the most common. I personally prefer a very slow flow, with stretching and holding poses for longer periods, a combination of hatha, sivananda, and yin. A have a friend who is dedicated to kundalini. Others love the more workout like flow of vinyasa or the heat of Bikram. There is something for everyone.

I am so happy to have found yoga. Or, as the owner of The Yoga Institute in Clear Lake, Rae Lynn Rath says “You don’t find yoga. Yoga finds you.”

I am elated that I have the time to pursue this practice. Yoga and ayurveda are sister sciences, so it makes sense to me to be able to teach this to those who are following this path of seeking better health through greater awareness.

And so, I have enrolled in a yoga teacher training course! Namaste. 🙂

 

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Semi-retirement and following passions

I went down to the lake this morning with a cup of coffee. It waswp-1473004970418.jpg a beautiful clear morning – birds singing, fish jumping – and it was nice for about 10 minutes. Then the humidity started creating a sheen of moisture on me, so I went back inside. It gave me enough time to decide to write a blog post.

If you’ve been reading here, you know that I recently quit my job. I decided that I would call myself “semi-retired” rather than “unemployed”. After all, I am of an age when many retire, and I do have that 401k, although if I tried to just live off of that, it wouldn’t last long. Anyway, I’m not unemployed. I am picking up some part-time hours doing medical reviews from home.

So, what’s been happening with me since I made the big decision? How does one adjust to not having the boundaries of a 40-hour-week job, after years of arranging the rest of one’s life around that box? It’s mostly mental, I think. (pun intended!)

Day to day life is great. Robert and I continue to find ourselves compatible and happy together, which is such an amazing blessing. I’ve started going to yoga class four times a week, and spend regular quality time with my grandchildren. I love getting to eat at home, preparing simple meals of grains and fresh organic vegetables from the farmer’s market.

Then there is the following of my passion, what I really care about. I am an Ayurvedic Practitioner, and have the intention of introducing those who want better health to a new way of living. (and being paid for it!) There are simple changes in lifestyle that can make a huge difference, that can help with stress, anxiety, digestive and weight issues, insomnia, and overall health management. But I find that I am a bit of a procrastinator, a little stuck. I know that I have something of value to offer, and it is just a matter of finding the clients who want to be committed to making positive changes.

So I decided to get some help to move me in the right direction, and am taking a course with Brian Whetten called Selling by Giving. The premise is that it can “transform the way I relate to my fears and inner doubts, and shift from judging them as problems to seeing that they are reliable course indicators showing me that I am heading in the right direction.”

And I’m not finished being a student. I am studying Ayurvedic Spiritual Counseling with New World Ayurveda. I’ve got skills and knowledge about how to make diet and lifestyle changes, but most people are resistant to change. So in this course, I’ll learn how to “help my clients understand what is truly at the root of their obstacles and have the inner transformational skills needed to permanently overcome those blocks.”  I need this for me, first, because I am as resistant to change as anyone I may try to help. Change always has to start with me!

Sounds like a lot when I put it on paper! And it is, but not too much. I’ve found time to paint, to take walks, to have wine with friends. In the midst of all these plans and possibilities, I remember that what matters most is this moment – am I being kind, compassionate, and loving to whomever is around me, and to myself?