As I leapt out of bed this morning starting to get on auto pilot with my to do list, I stopped and admonished myself. Didn’t I promise myself I would enjoy this season with a little less freneticism and a little more joy? Didn’t I tell myself, almost in a mantra last night, relaxing day tomorrow, relaxing day tomorrow? I have made progress - really, and have been truly savoring some of my early holiday preparations rather than madly dashing towards a finish line. It is a nice feeling. I used to enjoy every second of the holiday season and did it joyfully, foraging in the woods for decorations, planning parties and taking time to sip that second chai with a Christmas cookie (yes, I know there is dairy in them). 🤣 In recent years, maybe along with kids, increasing job and home responsibilities, I have become more task oriented and focused on checking things off the list. This has become the norm in much of my life, and especially this time of year. So, here goes, this year is different, the new me is taking it a little slower (I hear some of you laughing, this is all relative, remember who we are dealing with).
I am hoping you will join me, whether you celebrate Kwanza, Hanukah, Christmas or just the joys of winter, in pausing each day to savor, with all your senses, the spirit of the season, the true meaning, whatever that is for you. As I write this, it is raining so I am NOT going out to fill my containers with greenery just because it is on the list, instead I am making banana bread, letting that cinnamon scent fill my house as it competes with the pine candle and the scent of the tree (not decorated).🎄
Our Practice – Ground In The Present With Tadasana, Mountain Pose
The mountain pose is one of the first poses we are taught. It teaches us to be still, grounded and calm. It can be very challenging especially when we stay in it for a bit, savoring it, rather than blowing through it “on our way” to another pose. Practicing it mindfully helps us clear the mind, steady our breath and feel grounded.
Stand with the feel parallel, about hips width apart, or slightly less if it feels better.
Lift and spread your toes and the balls of your feet, then lay them softly back down on the floor. Move your body side to side and back and forth finding your center. Slow your movement coming to a standstill with your weight evenly balanced.
Stand tall, ankles, knees, hips stacked. Spine is long, chin is not jutting forward, core is engaged. Allow your shoulder blades to draw toward each other and down the back, away from the ears.
Let your arms relax beside your torso, palms facing where they naturally fall.
Balance the crown of your head directly over the center of your neutral pelvis with the underside of your chin parallel to the floor. Breathe!
This posture helps promote stillness, strength, relaxed power and stability that we associate with mountains. According to Alanna Kaivalya, author of Myths of the Asanas who explains the inseparable relationship between mountains and rivers, both represented by the Indian god Himavat, who represents the Himalayas and is also considered the father of Ganga Devi, the goddess of the Ganges, India’s most sacred river.
“When we stand in tadasana, the head, being nearest to heaven, is where we receive the blessings that flow through the rest of our body like a river,” she says. The even stance of Mountain Pose—the lengthened spine and steady base—sets the tone for practice.
Meditating On Being Present
In the spirit enjoying the season fully and thinking about the season as an analogy for life, let’s focus our meditation this week - not on the destination - but on enjoying the ride to get there. Let some of the to-do list slide, smell the cookies and the trees, play the holiday music; what meaningful impact will it have on the world if your cards arrive in January?
Sunrise over the Himalayas - 2019
“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” — Buddha
“Time isn’t precious at all because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time — past and future — the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.” ― Eckhart Tolle
“Life is not a race, but a journey to be savored each step of the way. Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery and today is a gift. That's why we call it the present.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Nurturing With Food – Banana Bread
As the scent of banana bread (I make mine with lots of cinnamon) fills the house I am looking forward to wrapping this week’s blog up and enjoying a piece. I have published this recipe before and it comes out great every time. Be careful not to overbake it, last time I made it I cooked it a little too long and it was a bit drier than I love. If you undercook it, pop the slice in the toaster oven, comes out great.
See you on the mat!