A Little Nibble of Silence

Official “Kath-led Morning Yoga” has now ended for the year and will return with the rains and the robins in April.

But some of us still get up at the butt-crack of dawn on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings to practice Ashtanga.  Nobody teaches it, we just DO IT.  Christine is the expert, so we watch her for the sequence, but then we all just modify and adjust as our bodies dictate.

It’s kind of austere, this yoga.  Especially compared with the classes I teach.  There’s no directions, no guidance, no reminders, no little jokes, no music, no readings, no centering (unless you count the chanting of the Invocation—which I do).  It’s just 3-5 people in a softly-lit room, taking postures and holding them for 5 Ujjayii breaths.

We sweat.  We topple.  We do the best we can with what we have.

We make what Natalie Goldberg once called, “positive effort for the good.”

I wouldn’t do it if it weren’t for the others.  The others wouldn’t do if it weren’t for the others either.  When we leave each other and casually say, “See ya in the morning!” that’s our commitment.

Yeah, sometimes things come up and we can’t make it, but most of the time, most of us show up.  For ourselves.  For each other.

It’s a sweaty practice.  Not Bikram-sweaty in that artificially hot room way.  It’s sweaty because there are so many vinyasas, and because in certain difficult postures 5 breaths seems to take an hour.

I ended my practice this morning feeling so blissed-out.  I felt soft, sorted out, clean.  I sat up from my savasana, said my ending prayer, and then all I wanted to do was freeze the day.  Right there.

Or no.  I wanted the day to go onward, but I wanted to continue to just sit there.

And watch it.  I wanted to observe it, like a photographer observes the world through the lens of the camera.  I wanted to be in it, but not OF it.

But the dog needed to be fed.

And I had an appointment to get ready for.

And, really, I had STUFF TO DO!

But I think tomorrow I am going to let myself partake of that yummy quiet for a bit longer.  I am going to nibble at least a small piece of the silence before I launch head-first into my day.

Because really, doesn’t it seem a crime to just have the appetizer without even tasing the entrée?  Especially after all that preparation?

Commit to Something

“If you are really interested in finding out…”  –Toni Packer

When I was sitting meditation retreats regularly at Springwater Center back in the 80s and early 90s, I used to have the same discussion, over and over again, with Toni Packer (the resident wise woman there) about how hard it was to sustain my meditation practice once I got home.

At every meeting I would whine, “But Toni, you don’t understand! I live in the WORLD, I have a little kid, a husband who’s not into this stuff, and friends who aren’t into this stuff!  When I go home, it’s a battle to carve out even 15 minutes a day to sit on my cushion!

And she would always say the same thing: “If these questions are really important, if you are really interested in finding out…” and here she would become very quiet, and just look at me (lovingly).

“But I AM INTERESTED!” I would whine.

“Then just do the work,” was the implied answer.

My MO up until fairly recently has been this:  I get all excited over what appears like THE path to clarity, enlightenment, self-knowledge—whatever you want to call it, and I pursue it with great vigor and intensity until it gets really, really hard.

At that hard point, I begin to have doubts.  Is this really the way?  Is this really the way FOR ME?  Maybe I should try “X” instead. And so I switch to X.

It’s like climbing a mountain, getting to the hard part, then deciding to go back down to the trailhead and try an alternate route to the top.  No. I simply cannot keep doing this anymore.  Why?

I don’t have enough time left.

I think when you are young, you can spend some time going up halfway, then back down, then up again, then back down, exploring all kinds of trails, but after a while you’ve just got to pick one and stay on it.  You’ve got to decide: This is who I am.  This is my path.

There are thousands of routes to the top.  Some are steep and treacherous.  Some are long and arduous.  Some are dark and scary.  Some have hungry animals that will eat you if you’re not careful.  There’s no easy way to the top, so the best thing is to just pick a path and stick with it.  Even if it’s the wrong path (there are no wrong paths), or hard (all of them are hard).

Just pick and commit.

Prime Time

Everyone has their “prime time.”  Mine is before lunch.  It’s my best (really my only) truly creative time.  After lunch?  I am toast, done, finished.

And after dinner?  Really bad.  Catatonic almost.  But it’s often after dinner that I write these posts.

Today I had a rockin’ day with my journal and my pen, a real power write that lasted 3 hours (oh happy day!)  Then I  wrote and emailed my newsletter to my yoga peeps, taught my ashtanga class and by after dinner I was D.O.N.E.

I settled in on the couch to write this post and my dog came over and kissed me and said, “Not tonight, mom.  Pet me instead, okay?”

And what could I say?

Boomer Kiss500

Nothing Runs Like A Deer(e)

Except maybe me, through the woods.

Today I did the Ives Run Trail Challenge (4 miles) which, after last weekend’s Dam Half Marathon (13 miles) should have felt like a cakewalk, but didn’t.

It’s weird.  This is how my mind works: If I know it’s a 13 mile run, I get tired at mile 11.

If it’s a 4 miler, mile 2 becomes the beast.  What’s up with that?

The highlight for me today was running (read:“scampering,” or “trotting.”) through the woods alone, like a deer: leaping over rocks, maneuvering around roots, while the forest flew by in my peripheral vision.

My breath found a rhythm: “in, out, in, out ha, ha, ha.”

Soon though, there was someone behind me, and a few people in front of me.  Then I was back in The Ives Run Trail Challenge.  I tried to pretend I was still that deer but it didn’t work.

What I want to do now is train by myself in the woods.  Just me and my breath.  Just me being a deer, or a faun, or a dryad, cavorting through the trees!

100 New Recipes, #2

I took out the slow cooker today.  (Must be fall, huh?)  Tonight I needed to rush home from yoga and be finished eating by 7 PM because tomorrow I am having the Community Diagnostic Blood Analysis done.

For a mere $49 I will allow a fledgling phlebotomist to poke me about 17 times in the arm in the attempt to find one “good vein,” and then draw 2 vials of blood.  This blood will then be subjected to the GRE of blood tests, and in a few weeks I will get a 2 page report telling me more about my blood than I probably care to know.

It’s a “fasting” blood test, so that’s why I had to eat quickly tonight.  No food for 12-14 hours before.

I found an intriguing recipe for lasagna in a slow cooker.  Worth a try, right?  Who wouldn’t want to walk in from a tough day on the yoga mat to the aroma of lasagna cooking, right, Garfield?

I had my doubts about this, but it turned out great, so I’m adding it as #2 in the long trudge toward 100 new recipes.

Tomorrow I am doing the Ives Run Trail Challenge.  (I’ll be one with the hiking poles and the junkie arms.)

Vegetarian Lasagna

Prep: 15 minutes

Slow cook: about 2.5 hours on low or 1.5 hours on high.

Makes 8 Main dish servings

Ingredients:

1 jar Mainara sauce (25 oz size)

1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz size)

1 Package oven-ready (no boil) lasagna noodles (8 – 9 oz size)

1 container (15 oz) part-skim ricotta cheese

1 package (8 oz) shredded Italian cheese or shredded mozzarella cheese

1 package (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

1 cup frozen veggie crumbles (or 8 oz ground beef)

Grated Parmesean (optional)

Directions:

  1. In medium bowl combine marinara and tomatoes with their juice.
  2. Spray slow cooker bowl with non-stick cooking spray.  Spoon 1 cup tomato sauce mixture into bowl. Arrange one-quarter of noodles over sauce, overlapping noodles and breaking into large pieces to cover as much sauce as possible. Spoon about three-quarters cup of sauce over noodles, then top with one third of ricotta (about half cup), and a half cup shredded cheese.  Spread half of spinach over cheese.
  3. Repeat layering 2 more times beginning with noodles, but in middle layer, replace spinach with frozen veggie crumbles.  Place the remaining noodles over spinach, then top with remaining sauce and shredded cheese.
  4. Cover slow cooker with lid and cook on low for 2 – 3 hours or high for 1 and half to 1 and three-quarter hours or until cheese is melted and noodles are very tender.  Sprinkle parmesean on top and serve.

About 415 calories per serving. 24g protein, 41g carbs, 17g fat (8 saturated), 6g fiber, 37mg cholesterol, 1120mg sodium.

The Real Story

So here is the real story .

I’ve been taking the advice of Chris Brogan in his great book Trust Agents and stepping out of the safety of “Lurker-ville “

What this means is that I am blogging more myself, and I’m  starting to comment on blogs I enjoy, telling the authors what I like, and how what they write impacts my life.

I did this on Steven Pressfield’s blog, and I wrote about his book on mine.

So, the internet being what it is, you can go on Technorati, plug in your name, and see what’s being said about you out in Ether Land.

Steve Pressfield’s publicist does this for him and in the course of her research she found my blog, read my comments, contacted me, and that’s how the interview came to be.

Pressfield  is very smart. He knows what it means  be a good citizen in this new social media neighborhood.  He’s generous and web savvy.  He understands that it’s not just about him and his book and his sales, but more about putting out great content and helping people.  Lending them your tools. Helping out the little guy.

I am a “little guy”.  My blog has a very small readership at this point, so his motivation for answering my questions and letting me post them on my blog clearly isn’t sales.  Or if it IS sales, he is willing to grow his sales slowly, one book at a time, one happy customer at a time—one happy customer who will hopefully  “sneeze” about his book to all her friends, and spread the word around.

Now I ask you,  how smart is that?

Yeah, I’m a Fan Girl

Today I got an email from Steven Pressfield’s publicist.

Seems I’ve been foisting The War of Art on all my friends so relentlessly and with such vigor and over-the-top-ness, that news of all this foisting has finally reached Steven’s “people,” and they wrote, begging, in the name of all my friends, and all that’s decent, to please, please please, cease and desist!

I said I would, but only on one condition: that Steven answer 3 of my questions and that I be allowed to post those questions, and his answers, on my blog.  Oh yeah, and how about throwing in a few signed copies of The War of Art as give-aways to my loyal readers?

His publicist agreed!  Now I just have to think up some juicy, insightful, deep, piercing, (yet light and funny) questions for Steven (Resistance Warrior) Pressfield.

If you’ve read the book, you can help.  Is there anything you want to know, about Steve?  About resistance?  About the muse?  About turning Pro?  About failure?

If you haven’t read The War of Art, why the hell not??

(the real story tomorrow)