How is drinking more water going to advance me on my journey? The answer: My lack of sufficient hydration is starting to cause minor break-downs. In a word, I itch. I have to stop and itch. My ears itch. My skin itches. And every time I have to stop and itch, I have take my focus from the journey, to the itch. More water = less itch. Less itch = Westward Ho! the wagons!
Break a sweat everyday is really important for my mood, my sanity, my mental health. It is also a great detoxifier, and it has the added benefit of making me stronger and fitter; but mostly I see a good sweat-producing workout everyday as keeping me feeling young and optimistic. It’s as simple as that. Everyday I have to pass The Wet Torso Test: when my torso feels wet to the touch, and my underwear is soaked, mission accomplished. And when I feel great, I get things done and I make things happen. And Making Things Happen is one of my key mantras for this year, too. So there’s that.
Meditate. This one is so that I don’t forget my place in the scheme of things. When I devote a few minutes (ideally 20) to being quiet and just listening to my inner talk and noticing what I think about without judging it, and then just listen to the traffic or to other sounds in the room for a while, all the snow in the snow globe settles down and I feel ready to approach the day with equanimity and balance and a sense of okay-ness.
My own sadhana. (sadhana means “spiritual practice.”) This keeps me in integrity. The fact is, I have a yoga studio. I teach people how to practice yoga. That’s a big part of who I am. So if I don’t practice, what right have I to teach other people? What right do I have to tell other people to practice every day? Plus, if I practice everyday I fill my cup. I have something to give to other people because I come to know what it means to practice. One of the things I learned about myself (here we go again with the “Know Thyself” rules) when I was sitting at Springwater is that I need a holy body practice. Running or working out doesn’t do it for me. I need yoga. I need a body practice that has no goal except self-exploration. Running and lifting weights are all burdened by goals about times and how much weight you can lift, or lose, etc, etc. Yoga CAN be about goals (how deeply can you backbend, can you get up into a headstand, etc.) but I don’t really care about that stuff. Yoga for me is about moving and watching the whole “mind” show. Listening to all the chatter about how I still can’t do this, or how my hammies are so tight, or maybe I should switch to Ashtanga or Bikram or Yin. And then just staying present to whatever I happen to be doing in the moment and just doing it. Then, when it’s over, reflecting on it. In short, using the body as an instrument of awareness, as a “biofeedback tool.” If I just sit meditation without partnering it with a body practice, I feel like I am missing an opportunity to use something I have (my body) to further my insight, my development. It’s as simple as that. And the integrity piece is huge too. If I don’t practice I don’t feel I have any right to teach. Period.
Learn Spanish. Okay, how will learning Spanish help me on the pilgrimage? Well, one of the reasons I want to learn another language is simply because it is challenging to the ol’ gray matter. But the other reason is that I want to travel more. I want to go places that are exotic and new and unfamiliar and see if I can manage there. One of the things that has always frightened me about foreign travel is going to a place where I don’t speak the language. So if I go someplace new, I want to see if I can fumble around in a language that is not native to me. Plus, I am finding the learning to be really enjoyable and I am excited about it and it is fun! I would love to teach yoga in Costa Rica someday, take a group, do a retreat, like now, in the middle of the winter! So that’s why Spanish.
Express Gratitude. I feel so grateful for my life, my family, my friends, my yogarians, for random kindnesses shown to me by others. But I have come to learn that feeling grateful is swell and groovey and all, but if those who you feel loved and tended by don’t know it, what good is it? (Remember: thoughts are not REAL. Only ACTIONS are real.) So expressed gratitude is essential. Also, the act of expressing gratitude seems to remove obstacles along the path, and make the journey easier. Weird, but true!
So there it is. Onward!