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July 9, 2023-Sadness & Joy-Ustrasana (Camel Pose)-Fresh Basil Pesto

Updated: Jul 9, 2023

I attended two memorial services yesterday. One was for a friend I have known since I was about 5 (our dads taught with each other, and our moms were best friends). The other service was my friend’s mom - we became friends in 2nd grade, and I have known the family since then. I was thinking about how relationships that span our entire life but are outside our own nuclear family can be so impactful. Families become entwined when a relationship is forged during childhood and whether you see each other often during adult years, it hardly seems to matter when you reconnect – having that solid early foundation brings you right back when you come together. So many experiences are shared, lessons are taught and learned and spending time with other families teaches us so much about living gracefully in a community. I am so grateful for these experiences. Looking around yesterday, seeing faces of people I have not seen for many years, found me reflecting on how I wished it did not take grief to bring us together; I also joyfully acknowledged the impact that these two women had on all of our lives and recognized that all of us gathered shared that. Godspeed Bernice and Holly.

Experiencing this grief (and joy) reminds me, yet again, of the importance of living every day to its fullest. How many events or circumstances will have to occur in our lives for us to get that and incorporate that into our daily routine? As I have said before, if you are already there, bravo to you! I am not, but I vow to continue trying. We get one life, there is no dress rehearsal.

Why did I pick a flip flop to represent these musings? I spent much time with both families growing up at the beach as many kids raised in South County do. Secret of all moms in these parts: load all kids up early in the morning, bring food, water, toys and head to Sand Hill Cove (aka Roger Wheeler Beach) and you can relax and talk to your friend all day and the kids will amuse themselves!

Our Practice – Camel Pose (Ustrasana)

In the spirit of opening our hearts with joy, celebrating relationships and seizing the day, I suggest we practice heart opening (back bending) poses this week. The imagery of opening our hearts to others, to possibility, to the world, is powerful for me and I think about it when doing back bending poses.

The physical benefits of back bending poses can include creating space in the chest/lungs and can increase breathing capacity. The poses have been purported to stimulate the kidneys, improving digestion. In addition to the benefits outlined for heart openers above, camel stretches the front of the body, particularly the chest, abdomen, quadriceps, and hip flexors.

  • Begin in a high kneeling position with your thighs parallel to each other and your hands on your lower back (fingers up or down). Tuck your toes under (later you can try with tops of the feet flat).

  • Lift up out of your belly and waist to lengthen your spine. As you move into the backbend, lead with your chest, and let your head follow (think rainbow versus leaning back). Try not to toss your head back but also avoid tucking your chin or not moving your head at all. Initiate the backbend with your chest and move the back of your head back (not the crown) to keep length in the back of your neck. This could be enough, hold for several breaths.

  • If you want to take it a little further, you can reach one hand or both hands back towards your heels. Press your pelvis forward thinking about the rainbow image or back bending over a huge exercise ball as you lead with your chest and move the back of your head back to follow.

  • When you're ready to come up out of the pose, lead with your chest, pressing your hands at the lower back to support. Head comes up last.

Meditation on Appreciating the Here and Now

This week I am meditating on finding a little joy in every day and not sweating the small stuff. As my friend Lisa C used to say to me, “will you remember this in 5 years? If the answer is no, let it go!”. Let’s not wait for an excuse to get together with the people we care for but do not see enough of, call them, have that coffee! Spend some time in peaceful solitude, notice the sun on the water, the smell of honeysuckle, the hummingbirds in your feeders, enjoy a snuggle from your pet. You get my drift. Or as my friend Diane would say, carpe diem!

“Yesterday is the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift, that is why it is called the present”.

“We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand-and melting like a snowflake”-Sir Thomas Bacon

Nurturing with Food – Fresh Basil Pesto

Peter makes the pesto in our family. This time of year we start to harvest much basil and he makes a lot of pesto. When I was in Italy, we learned to make pesto the traditional way with a mortar and pestle. Our teacher did acknowledge that the food processor or blender was acceptable – especially if you are making many batches at once. So while the picture of Barbara and I making pesto in Italy is real, the true pesto maker around here is Pete. And it is delicious. Enjoy!

See you on the mat!

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