A Time to Pause and Reflect

I am getting ready to go to the studio and set up for this afternoon’s Yoga Nidra class. Every New Year’s Eve I lead this deep guided meditation called Yoga Nidra, and then offer people the opportunity to stay afterwards and write a letter to themselves.

Here is what happens: Unlike my normal classes where people arrive and chat as they take off their coats and set up their mats, today they will be greeted with signs on the doors that read: Please Keep Noble Silence.

They will enter the warm yoga room, find a mat and settle in. There will be a bowl of stones outside the yoga room door and each person will be invited to take a stone as they enter just as a way of letting other people know how many spots are still left in the room as they arrive. This is a free class, but I only have room for 16 mats.

At each mat will be a piece of paper explaining what is going to happen in the next hour. There will be a half hour of Yoga Nidra which is like a guided savasana. At the end of the Yoga Nidra experience, I will ring the bowl 3 times and people are then free then to leave, still in silence.

I will then increase the light in the room and invite those who wish to stay to take paper, a pen and an envelope, and move to any place in the room, or even into the lounge, for the letter writing part of this experience.

People tend to be in a very introspective and open place in their bodies and their minds after the Yoga Nidra experience, so it is the perfect time for some deep listening.

I invite them to start their letters by writing on the paper: “Dear (their name)” and then write: “I have been waiting for this opportunity to talk to you for a long time. Here is what I want to tell you.”

And from there, to just let their inner voice speak.

When the letter is finished, they fold it, place it in the envelope, seal it, and address it to themselves and leave it with me. I will then mail it to them so that it arrives in their mailbox on the first day of spring.

I have done this for a number of years now, and I think it is both a beautiful and a fitting way to end the year that is passing, and begin the new one that is dawning.

Happy New Year everyone.



Why Write

Take me, for example.  Not the best writer in the world.  A reluctant writer.  A shy writer, but I cannot seem to stop doing it. I have tons of journals in the basement; I am writing a book or trying to. I tried high school teaching once but couldn’t stomach it.  I Teach yoga instead, and love it.

Still writing though.  Weird.  So what’s the point?  Why continue with this?  The answer is: I can’t stop.  I am addicted in a weird way.  I can stop for a while, but not for long. I wish I could stop, but I can’t. It’s what I do.  It’s who I am. Or at least it’s a part of who I am.  Not everything, but big.  Huge, maybe.

I can’t stop doing it.  I like it and I hate it at the same time. It’s both a blessing and a curse.  Why can’t I stop?  This is what happens when I do stop, even for a little while.

At first it feels fine.  I am doing and acting in the world, and everything is fine.  Then there starts to be  discomfort.  Not in the body, but someplace inside.  There is a grouchiness that develops, a persistent feeling of being out-of-sorts.  I can’t put my finger on it but it feels wrong.  I never think it’s because I haven’t been writing, though.  I blame it on my diet, or lack of exercise, or lack of discipline in my life.  I start to worry about death, and wake up in the night and think about how old I am and how I haven’t done a damn thing with my life and it’s almost over.  I think that I am not even close to getting the “Life Well-Lived” badge.  But I am very close to getting the “Too Little Too Late” badge. Or the “Good Intentions” badge.  And that scares me.

So the next day I take out the journal and start scribbling because I need someone to talk to about all this stuff that’s worrying me.  I need to talk to my inner wisdom guide, which I have named “Stella,” only I don’t ever consciously think that that’s what I need to do.  I think I just need to sort things out in my brain.  I think I need to put it all out there and look at it rather than having all the boogie-boogies in my brain (which is a very dark and spooky place to begin with) scaring me with their creepy noises and voices.

When I finish writing there is clear and bright at the end.  Not always “happy.”  No.  But the writing shines a flashlight under the bed and I can see the boogie-boogies for what they really are, which are thoughts, and not real.

I sit down and write these words: Only actions are real.  And although this does not console me, because I am not a person of action for the most part, at least I am not worried about stuff that isn’t real anymore.

Then I realize after I’ve written for a few hours that the reason I was getting all crazy in my head was that I had not written in a while. I was disconnected from my self, my Stella, my star, my soul, whatever I want to call it.  And that’s why I needed to write.  Not because I am a good writer. Not because I need to make up elaborate other worlds like fiction writers do.  No. I write in order to connect with myself.

I write because it’s the only way I know that I can stay happy and sane.  If I don’t, I become grouchy and crazy.

It’s as simple as that.