the mat: showing up (and falling asleep)

When you go to yoga, you are going to need a mat.  Most yoga studios have their own that you can use, or you can get your own.  I have my own.  It’s nice to have your own.  Then it becomes a sort of home away from home that you can take with you anywhere.   It’s the place where you are going to do your work.  It’s like having your own desk, or going to a school that encourages independent study.  This is your mat where you will do your thing.  This is where you will show up.  Might as well have enough space and know it’s yours and only yours, and that nobody is going to grab it out of your hands or leave foot fungus on it for you.

Sometimes, however, you can get too comfortable on your own mat.   You go into what is supposed to be meditation, and you fall dead asleep.  This can happen on your own OR a borrowed mat.  Sleep is restful, and so is meditation, but meditation is not supposed to turn into sleep.  Meditation has its own purposes.   But don’t feel bad.  Lots of people fall asleep during meditation.  Usually this means that you just need to get more sleep for real. However:  If you can help it, try not to fall asleep during meditation or you’ll miss the good stuff.

For example:  She is asleep (obviously).

Pretty relaxed.

Hey wake up!!!! Wake up!!! You’re missing something!  Pssst!  Psssst!!

PSSSSSSSSSSSTTTT!

Well anyway I guess it’s not my job to wake other people up.  It’s hard enough to keep myself awake.  We should all stay on our own mats.

Another place we can practice showing up is by doing the things we have set out to do and reading the things that we have set out to read so that we can learn the things that we have set out to learn.  Somehow, this is easier said than done.

I tend to lose focus and get distracted by things.  Who knows why this happens?  It just does.

But the things I want to do don’t go away. They just end up piling up and piling up.   Oh man.  I’ve got all these kinds of books to read.

Also these kinds of books.

 

 

 

 

 

Why is this not getting done?  I am just as bad as that lady on the mat.  I am falling asleep on the job.  I am missing out.   Get up.  Wake up.  GET UP NOW.

Maybe this will help.  It is a planner.  You write things down in it and then you look at them and they make you do the work.  The things you write down will judge you if you do not finish them.  And they will bake you a pie if you do finish them.  Risk/reward. Show up.

Here we go.  Today is March 1.  That means it’s almost spring and everything else is waking up so why not you?  This can be a mat of sorts.  It’s a place to show up.  Okay cool.  Don’t fall asleep.  Don’t fall asleep.

I’m not asleep.  Don’t worry.  I’m just showing up on the mat.  I’m totally, totally awake.

I’m here.  At least I think I am.

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snow day

So it snowed 14 inches last night and it’s still coming down, and that meant a lot of things were closed today, and it also meant no yoga for me. That’s okay.

 

 

I still got outside and took a little walk.  I’ve heard that sometimes–or, most of the time–you don’t even need to do actual “yoga” in order to do yoga.  Other things qualify, too.  Like going for a walk.  As long as the thing is meditative and it clears your head, it counts.

I’m not sure shoveling counts.  I’m guessing it doesn’t.  Then again, who am i to judge?  These guys seem pretty happy.

 

 

Oh my gosh there’s a runner out here.  Does he realize that 14 inches of snow just fell?  Does he realize that it’s painfully cold out here?  Does he realize that he weighs about 45 pounds as it is?  I’m guessing the answer is no to all three.

 

I wouldn’t be out here myself if I wasn’t meeting a friend.  I’m supposed to go walking with a friend.  We’re supposed to meet out here somewhere, by the tennis courts.  Hey does anybody know what a “plaisance” is?  How about a bearded one?

 

 

Oh there he is.  Hiding.  Always the joker, that one.

 

 

 

Aha!  Found you.  You’re lucky I didn’t give up.  It’s cold out here, I was just about to give up and go back inside.

 

 

We quickly made a decision not to walk around the lake.  Too cold.  Instead we decided to go to a coffee shop and hang out.  This was not the most difficult decision of the day.

 

 

Here’s one.

 

 

 

 

Ahhhhh.  That fire feels good.

 

 

 

 

It was a snow day AND it was President’s Day.  So we just hung out.  Not a lot of pressure on a day like that.  That’s a nice feeling.  Almost the same feeling you get when you do yoga.

the golden egg

Ahh, feel that late winter sun.  Man that feels good.  Kinda blinding.  But it feels good.

 

 

 

Oops, now there’s clouds.  Of course.  Right when it’s time for yoga. Wait, is that SNOW?!?!  It’s SNOWING!!!  Shoot, I’d better put on my sweater.  I’m going to get there early today.  Just watch me.  You think I can’t, just watch.

 

See?  Already on my way.  You want to talk about late, check out this Christmas wreath.  Still looks good though.  I wouldn’t take that thing down, either.  Keep the party going!  Why not?

 

Boy.  It’s treacherous walking out here.  Inches of fluffy snow already, but what’s right below that? Sheer ice.  I almost fell twice.  I hear we’re supposed to get up to 17 to 20 inches of snow today.  Whooee!

 

I thought for a minute that I was going to be the only one at class.  Luckily a bunch of other people showed up, too.  It’s kind of awkward when you’re the only one in class.  It sort of feels like a date.  And that’s not really the vibe I’m after right now.

 

I don’t like to take pictures during class, because I think it’s disruptive.  But anyway during today’s class we did a lot of twists, which are said to be “detoxifying” .  After doing a lot of twists it’s good to take it easy, like rest on a bolster or something, which is what I’m doing here.  Bolsters are great.  I enjoy that there’s an entire prop dedicated to helping you relax.  A lot of people around here don’t know how to relax.  They think relaxing means running 10 miles around the lakes at 6:00 in the morning when it’s dark out and there’s sheer ice under the snow.  Here’s a news flash:  that’s not relaxing.  That’s stressful. Maybe it feels relaxing when you’re done though.  I can see how that would be confusing.

At the end of class we did some yoga nidra, which is like a deep guided visualization/relaxation sort of thing.  It’s a little hard to describe.  Maybe because I don’t really get it yet. But we went through all parts of our bodies, right and then left, and moved our awareness around, and then we went through all the different chakras and the seed sounds that go with each of the 7, head to toe (lam, vam, ram, ham, etc) and then I fell asleep a little bit and when I woke up the teacher was talking about a tiny little golden egg that is just in your midbrain, and represents your higher self.  A tiny little golden egg, right there in my brain.  Now that sounds curious.  Especially because my brain is already a little small.  I feel like that is something worth poking into.  Not the kind of thing that you just casually  mention and then order a slice of pizza.

Apparently all of this stuff becomes clear if you study it.  Like for example, here is a folder from a yoga manual, that probably has the secrets of the golden egg somewhere in its pages.  Here’s a little-known thing about me:  I am minimally certified in yoga. Yes, I have been trained at the 200-hour level.  I can assure you right now that it doesn’t mean that much in terms of what I know or what I remember.  This happened back in 2003.  I have not had the  money or the time since then to pursue my 500-hour certification.  I tried again this year and failed. I want to know about the golden egg though.  I will keep trying.  Maybe this year I will just do the reading.  That’s a start.  I’ve got the time to do the reading.

And then maybe someday I’ll know as much as Juliet.  That’s Juliet.  She’s the teacher.  Today she revealed a secret to our class.  She told us that even if we want to pursue all the most advanced yoga techniques, at the core it’s all just about steadiness and ease.  I shouldn’t say “just”.  Steadiness and ease are not the easiest thing to achieve.  If they were, then none of us would be here.  We’d all be gallivanting around out in the slippery snow without giving it a second thought. Maybe all those runners have steadiness and ease.  Maybe that’s why it’s relaxing for them to run outside in the winter, on ice covered in a layer of snow.

I guess it takes patience.  More than I thought.  It’s something to think about.  Although, sometimes patience is better achieved by not thinking about it too much.

So that’s what I’m gonna do.  Not think about it too much.  Namaste, people-readers.  See you soon.

blanket-folding 101

Guess what time it is? 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s a little hint.

 

 

 

 

I’m not going to talk about the practice today.  Let’s just say it was good.  It opened up a lot of space in my brain.   I took a lot of mental junk to the Goodwill of the Brain.  Gone.   Mission Accomplished.

 

Okay so when you get done with your practice, you often have a blanket that looks something like this.  At least I do.  And usually I want to run away.

Because I’m relaxed.  And who wants to deal with this crap when they’re relaxed and feeling good?  Nobody.  I want to enjoy my good feeling a little–not immediately squander that good feeling on this.

Why is it such a big deal,  you might wonder?  It’s just a blanket.  Well.  Anybody who has taken a little yoga knows how strongly yoga teachers feel about having neatly folded blankets.  You would think we were defusing an atomic bomb or something.  It’s a blanket.  And so when you get up from your meditation, immediately there’s this pressure to do something The Right Way.  And if you don’t do it The Right Way, then there’s a good chance you’ll be mocked and scorned your good feeling is in danger of slipping away down the toilet.  So.  Today we have to learn about folding a blanket.

What you need to do is get all the fringy parts on one side.  When you match up fringe end to fringe end, and do it neatly (no haphazard diagonal lumpy folds or someone will sneak up behind you and re-do your blanket, and that = good feeling going down the toilet).  You might want to smooth it down a few times and have your yoga teacher notice you doing this.

 

So here’s what it looks like when step 1 is completed.  It gets easier from here.

 

 

Now you do that a few more times, keeping the fringe ends together.  This is probably folded one fold too many, actually.  And it’s not precisely done, as you will notice. Actually, this blanket fold will likely get me in trouble.  However, this particular yoga studio keeps the blankets in a little cupboard and they’re a little crammed in, and so doing the one extra fold makes sense.  The important thing is that you actually make the effort, and don’t moan about it, for cripe’s sake.  Oh great.  See?  I’m getting cranky already.  And actually, nothing has happened.  I am just anticipating failure and judgment.

Crap.  Maybe I need to take another yoga class.  But I just TOOK a yoga class.  See, this is the problem with yoga.  You start taking it and you actually become aware of how much more of it you need to take.

Infinite amounts of it, as it turns out.

 

Now you can journal about it.  Pour all your blanket-folding rage onto the page.   Really rip into it. Like, “Fuck you, messy blanket!  You’re trying to sabotage me!  Get out of my sight! I don’t need you!”  That kind of thing.

 

Then you can burn the letter in a big bonfire and watch all those feelings go up in smoke.   Nobody has to know what you did.  And now you have lost a good deal of emotional weight.  You are no longer emotionally obese.  Maybe you’re just emotionally chunky.   We’ll get there.

 

 

 

 

It’s all happening for a reason.

 

 

 

lateness

What time is it?  Oh my God, 10:55?  I’ve been dicking around all morning and now I have FIVE  MINUTES to get to yoga?  Well shit.  This isn’t good.  Move move move move move.  Where’s my mat?

 

 

Okay.  Mat.  Keys.  Bag.  Wallet.  What else? Oh right.  It’s cold outside.  I need a thing formy head.  And my  neck gets cold. Quick quick quick.  Ai this place is a mess.  I can’t deal with it right now. Gotta go to yoga.

 

 

 

Whatever, so it’s a feminine headscarf.  So what?  I’m an open-minded being.  It suits me.  So deal with it. Plus I don’t have time to find something else.  Man, why can’t I ever leave earlier?  Okay I’m out.

Duly noted for later.  That’s a good price.  In fact, that’s an absurd price.  How are they possibly making money on that?  That price almost seems exploitative.  What is this, a hardware store with bad self-esteem?  A self-loathing hardware store?  Still, five bucks.  Awesome.  Okay, move the feet.  Yoga.

 

I’m not taking a detour.  This is right on the way.  I need some new movies and I need to pay this icky bill using money I don’t currently have just so that it’s not late.  Gross.  That’s why I put this cool stamp on here.  To make me feel better about sending such a disgusting piece of mail with my name on it.  Actually I think this stamp is a little too good for this bill.  I’m sorry, tropical fish.  You’ve got a big job to do.  Good luck and goodbye.

 

 

 

Almost there.  Whoa, this walk looks pretty slippery.

 

 

 

 

 

Get outta my way, tree.  I’ve got enough problems.

 

 

Here we go.  Cool.  Made it. Now I just have to slide in nonchalantly and  pretend that my annoying borderline lateness is no big deal.  No big deal.  It’s all cool.  It’s yoga, right?  Yoga is chill.  Um.  Except I’ve heard of teachers who don’t let you in when you’re late.  They lock the door or they let you come in and then they berate you in front of the whole class.  Because like, being there on time is part of the yoga.  And you mess up everybody else’s yoga if you come in late.  Did you know that yogis are some of the angriest persons that exist in the universe?   It’s true.  Why else do you think they’re there?  Is it because they’re already calm and peaceful and feeling great?  No.  So it’s best not to mess up their yoga by being late.  Too late for me right now, but next time.  Mental note.

 

Sneak sneak sneak sneak sneak sneak sneak.  Ahh.  Okay.  All clear so far.

 

 

And bang, right into the practice. Everybody’s doing something else, but I feel like doing this.  I need it, somehow. I hope I’m not being a total douchebag.  I always wonder about those people who come to class and then do their own private practice in the back, and basically pay no attention to the teacher.  What’s that about?  Why even come then?  Why not just stay home? I think it’s just to feed on the group prana without having to submit to the authority of the teacher.  They’re prana vampires.    Okay I’m gonna get up.  I don’t want to be a prana vampire.

Christ almighty, the adjustments!  Ow, get off my back!  I don’t move that way!  Stop touching me!

 

 

 

Okay I’m good now.  No seriously, I’m good.  Whatever that was, it released something.  Not saying I need that to happen again anytime soon, but it’s okay.  I release it. Sort of.

So now we’re doing inversions.  Inversions are supposed to change your world view, really turn things upside down and give you a fresh perspective on things.   ……….     …………….

Maybe it will come to me in savasana.  Corpse pose.  Ew.  Why can’t they just call this sleeping pose?  Why corpse?  Gross.  That name kind of ruins the fact that this is my favorite part of the practice.  The part where you pretend to be dead.

PS I am aware that there is someone else’s leg or something basically on my mat right now.  But again, I’d probably be a big douchebag if I said something about it.  Like GET OFF MY MAT!!!!! I don’t want to waste the energy.  I’m actually quite relaxed right now.  Notice my hand positioning, on the belly.  Again, it’s not what you’re supposed to do but it’s what I feel like doing.  ………

Okay I’m cold.  I need a blanket.  Oh what, we’re done?  That was it?  Wow, that seemed really fast.  That was an hour and a half?  Whoa.

And now I can take on the rest of my day with vigor and calm.  They are not mutually exclusive.  We’ll talk about that later.  Namaste.  Oh wait where’s my scarf?

ganesha can only do so much

It’s important to meditate every day.  An expert meditation source whose last name is Finger and first name is Alan often stresses that meditation is like brushing the teeth of your mind.  You have to do it every day.  You can’t just do it sometimes.

I don’t have teeth.  I have a beak.  But I get what he’s saying.

Sometimes I scrape  my tongue.

I guess I should do that every day.

Anyway.

Oh Ganesha, you elephant thing –you are the remover of obstacles and you’ve got a big job all the time. No wonder you’ve got so many arms. Plus a trunk. I’ve only got two legs and a couple little wing things.  I could use your help.

Psst.  Let’s make today a good day, shall we?  Let’s bust up some obstacles and send them on their way.

Let’s do this thing Ganesha.  You and me.  Chicken and elephant.

Cool.

I hope that was okay.  I don’t really know how to talk to that guy. Dang it’s cold out here. Oh man I’ve got that song in my head.

Bahh bah bah bah bah ba baaahh baah baahhh. Baahhh Bah bah bah buh bah bahhh bahhh.

A guy I know sings that song.  Those are the actual words.  The title is not what you think it might be. Hang on——

Um.

Where’s my car?

Where’s anybody’s car?

Oh no.  Shit.

I’ve been towed!  Aaaaaaaaaaaaghgghghgh!

AAAAAAAGGGAAHAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!

YOU did this, you desperate little ninnies!  You fastidious little jerks!  This winter can go to hell!   I hope you’re making tons on money you bloodsucking leeches!  Maybe you’ll make enough to build another crappy bridge that collapses with people still on it!  Minnesota: Land of the Expensive Self-Imploding Infrastructure.

Bite me. Bite your lutefisk.  Bite Prince, I don’t care. AAAAHHHHH!

Ungh.   Yeah.  So there goes the rest of the day.

Getting to the impound lot.

Standing in line.

Forking over a load of cash.

Packing into a van to get driven to my car.

Driving back home.

Ungh.  Uuuunnnngh.

And now THIS.  Where did THIS come from?

Land of 1,000 Lakes?  More like Land of 1,000 Hit & Runs.

Minnesota Nice.  BITE.  ME.

AAAAAAAHHHHH!

You know what? Forget it.  Just forget it.

It’s not worth it.

I’ve got insurance.

I’ve got better things to do with my brain.

Better things.

Ungh.

Uunnnnngh.

Ungh.  Eh.  Emph.  Urgh.

We’ll do that later.

Let’s try this again, shall we?

Hey elephant guy!  I’m back.  What’s up with the stuff? You mad at me or something?