Paying Attention Among the Trees

The snow fell onto tree limbs and sparkled in the cold sunlight on January 19th at Dyken Pond.

The snow fell onto tree limbs and sparkled in the cold sunlight on January 19th at Dyken Pond.

We stopped at the beginning of the Cherry Trace trail, to feel the quality of our breath, and slow down in order to take in the rich sensory experiences to come. Then we hiked up into the hemlocks, many of which were torn off at the same height by a freak wind storm a few months back.

Into the fairy tale dark woods we crunched, listening and looking and tasting and smelling. Part-way, we broke out into a clearing full of sunlight, with sugar crystal snow dancing and sparkling in swirls of wind; we reacted with laughter and gulps of oxygen-rich air.

Magic in the woods on the Cherry Trace trail.

Magic in the woods on the Cherry Trace trail.

Afterwards we sat by the wood burning stove and warmed with tea and possible ways to write about nature. That led to discussion of how to be present in our lives, how to pay attention to the details. With pen and keyboard, we wrote and wrote about the day spent with beech trees and princess pines, what we each experienced and what it might mean.

So that’s one day, “Paying Attention Among the Trees.” Would you like to join me for the next one?

Spots are still available February 16 and March 16; see the Winter Walks with Nature Writing tab above for registration information. If you desire a whole day experience, look at the Move With Mindfulness, Write with Ease workshop option for Saturday, February 22.

Possible descriptions: like a dead bug, legs to the sky; wild hair-day; resting and snow-covered.

Possible description: dead bug, legs to the sky. Or a wild hair day. What would you jot down in your notebook?

What? Changes Already? Following the Dharma

In re: what is “of-the-essence” lately, I’ve been wrestling with how I feel about leading weekly studio classes.

They’ve been very lightly attended, and in addition, I live in a town with multiple yoga studios already offering a delightful variety of daily classes. I’ve also been reading Stephen Cope’s The Great Work of Your Life, about dharma (simply put, life purpose).

I prepared for each of my scheduled classes, warmed the space with candles and yoga mats, sat in the beautiful silence–and listened.  I watched dawn arrive in downtown Troy, and the hustle-bustle that burst open around 8 a.m. I observed the sun shift through the fall leaves on Monday afternoons.

Because only a small part of yoga is about postures and breathing–yoga also encompasses creating comfort within dis-ease–I asked in the quiet:  What is the meaning of this lack-of-energy, on my part and the part of potential students? And what I am really on fire about?

That’s what I want my life to be:  on fire, lit up, clear on the essence of who I am, what my gifts are, and what I’d like to bring to the world.

In my answers, I kept going to the presuppositions people have about yoga; they think they have to be strong and powerful first, or understand complicated concepts, or be able to wear a bikini or tight-fitting workout clothes to “qualify.”  People WANT to try yoga, but are afraid of injury or embarrassment, being rushed to know something before they are ready, or just not being good enough.

And here I am:  I love listening to people’s individual stories and experiences, having paid attention to the human body and spirit throughout my previous massage career; I know about anatomy and pain patterns, AND how to respond to stress with movement, stretch, aromatherapy, self-care–and now, yoga’s rich variety of tools.  I have used yoga to rehabilitate from surgery and devastating losses; yoga has used me to communicate great and simple truths, to myself.

So I’ve decided–I’ll be guiding people, through a variety of easy-to-attend mini-workshops, to bring themselves as they are and grow from there.  To increase self-compassion, attempt some new experiences (maybe even yoga postures), gently, and then digest them. To pay attention to where their bodies are at this moment,  To slow down. Laugh at the foibles of our busy minds, and humanity.  Feel more deeply. Be a little more present. Learn ways to deal with what life brings, painful or joyous–tools including writing, hiking & walking, breath and meditation practices, and healthful eating.

This is so enthralling! I hope you find something in my on-fire offerings that speaks to you, and I invite suggestions, ideas, dreams, through the Contact Us page here on the website, or in person.

Many of my mini-workshops will continue to be held at my colleague Lesley Kavanaugh’s Troy Healing Arts, where as a studio and healing sanctuary, she is also moving more toward introductory, anatomy- and spirit-based wellness within the approaches of yoga and bodywork.  I am thrilled to be collaborating with her. Look for us at Troy Night Out (Friday, October 25, 5-9 pm) and at Victorian Stroll (Sunday, December 8), at the 270 River Street lobby.