I was thinking about the holidays, this hectic time and how every year I strive to find the calm, the joy and peace of the season and focus on the real reason that we celebrate Christmas (substitute Hanukah, Kwanzaa, etc.) I enjoy walking in the woods foraging for holiday “decorations”, listening to holiday music writing my cards and baking and cooking holiday treats. I tend, however, to make lists in my head and work myself into some mental chaos revisiting them. I have reached some personal milestones, however, breaking things into smaller tasks and feeling ok about walking away when they are unfinished. May not sound like a lot to you, but for me - big. I am a work in process trying to find inner peace, calmness, practicing what I preach!
Our Practice – Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog)
I found this picture which is several years old from my teacher training and made me smile thinking of that time. Does the pose look different on my now, sure, does that diminish the joy that it brings me thinking of that time? Nope!
I was thinking about what yoga poses make me feal peaceful inside and then did a little comparative internet research on this topic. Some of the suggested poses made me laugh out loud at the idea that they instill peace! (For me, for example, wide legged forward fold does not do the trick). I do think that downward dog brings feelings of peace, especially during a practice as a “pause” or “aaah” moment.
The pose, one of our foundations, has a calming effect on me. Some articles suggest that breath (prana) and fluids circulate to the head and upper body clearing stress. I am not sure about the physiology of that, but the symbolism works for me and I do feel relaxed in this pose. This pose is also an inversion!
Start on hands and knees, lift the body letting the head be heavy, hanging downward. Hands shoulder width apart fingers spread and gripping slightly into the mat, press heals toward (not down to) the mat, chest towards thighs. Keep micro bend in knees – don’t lock them. Hold and breathe for as long as it feels good, allowing peaceful feelings to emerge!
This pose strengthens our legs and arms, lengthens hamstrings and stretches calves, opens, and strengthens shoulders and prepares the body for more practice.
Our Practice - Meditation – Peace Starts with Us
I had never heard of the Peace Pilgrim before but stumbled upon a quote by her that resonated with me. I think a lot about conflict in the world and how it could be resolved. I think about why world leaders, religious leaders, etc. can’t or won’t sit down and talk, find consensus and compromise. Simplistic, I realize, but also seems like common sense. In my own life I have friends that do not have the same religious or political beliefs that I do, but we have discourse and can usually find consensus and ways to coexist and respect each other. In any event, when I read this simple quote, I came up short realizing that much of this starts with us individually.
“When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others” - Peace Pilgrim
This will be something I will be thinking more about. Peace starts with us. So, if I am worrying about world peace, I should be finding peace within myself as well. I am working on it. Trying to live my yoga off the mat.
From 1953 until 1981 a silver haired woman calling herself only “Peace Pilgrim” walked more than 25,000 miles on a personal pilgrimage for peace. She carried only a few worldly possessions and shared her simple yet profound message in thousands of communities throughout the U.S. She said that “when enough of us find inner peace our institutions will become peaceful and there will be no more occasion for war”
For more on the Peace Pilgrim - which I found fascinating - follow link below:
Nurturing with Food – Mushroom Barley Soup
I have been a huge fan of the Moosewood Cookbook since I first became an (almost) vegan/vegetarian forty years ago (full disclosure I still eat some seafood and organic eggs). I think I have made every soup recipe in the book including this one. My husband made a version of this recently, adding his own tweaks, it was delicious, a wonderful winter soup with the earthy taste of mushrooms and the comfort food aspect of barley. Apparently, my son thought so also as there was not a drop left when I went searching for some!
See you on the mat