Thursday, April 2, 2015

Cultivating gentleness

image compliments of
Consider this blog post 4,561 that you've clicked on to read about how destructive "chronic busyness" is to our tender souls.  So welcome!  Take a breath!  Slow down for a second.  There is no rush to reach the end of this post...

I can't remember a time I wasn't over-scheduled and living a bit beyond my means in terms of time.  Even at this point in my yoga therapy training I'm still working a full time job, juggling family, teaching a group class or two a week, and trying to see clients individually.  In order to do all of this, I sort of crash and thrash my way through the clock... always feeling like I'm a little behind.  I've learned to schedule self care like going to the gym and the occasional massage... and I'm finally at the point where I'm not rushing to and from those appointments.  Rather, I try to take time to feel the sun on my face and my feet on the ground.

I've had a longstanding resistance to meditation.  I've got a hyper, screaming, monkey-mind and some very negative thought tendencies.  Moving from crash and thrash through the world (doing) to sitting in meditation (being) has been a difficult transition energetically.  I thought that captured the essence of the issue - but I've gone a bit deeper and found something else that I'd like to share with you in hopes that it helps others find a way to a few peaceful minutes here and there.

Not only is going from moving to stillness difficult, when where you land is a very discursive place... but going from aggressive to gentle is an even bigger shift and challenge.  Doing the first without the latter is a gruesome transition.

I've never learned to be gentle.  There are natural times when gentleness manifests... like caring for an infant or cultivating seedlings.   However my day-to-day life does not manifest gentleness.  Within busyness, gentleness is a hindrance, not a value.  And that is, from what I'm learning, a fantastically easy way to waste a life.

There are a few things that I've put in place that have the effect of allowing a touch of gentleness, or tenderness, to enter.

  • A pre-meal blessing with my family, touching each other's hands.
  • Some kind of transition to honor the moment before sleep - whether it's breathing, reiki, or a 10 minute practice of asana and pranayama geared toward slowing down.
  • In my morning practice, using chanting to awake feeling, then allowing asana to transition to pranayama to prepare for meditation... to lead to prayer/sankalpa (intention).
  • In pranayama technique itself, being mindful of how the breath starts.  It's so easy to have a forceful beginning to every exhale.  I find that desiring gentleness in the moment of first exhale really gets me in the gentle and tender heart space.
In love and hope I share these small gifts I've found to help me cultivate gentleness in a crash-and-thrash world.  How does it work for you?

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