Yoga + Sinking + Whole heart living

A gradual descent into total submergence.

Say that slowly – and out loud.

A gradual

Descent

Into

Total

Submergence.

Sinking.

… into a moment; where I give myself up to the energy that surrounds me; where I hold no tension; where I am as opposed to am doing.

Bliss … but …

to sink scares me. I feel tether-less. I can’t touch the sides to get bearing; I don’t even know where the sides are.

I fight to find them, to get context, to keep head above water …

I am noting the words used here  – I see sinking as something to be battled – adversary and adversity …

Yoga is my perfect example.

I have dabbled in yoga for approximately twenty years …

I am at the age where I had to do the calculations … this age is too old to start a blog that will have impact …

There is so much competition … how will anyone find these words amongst the babble … why bother ?

If I don’t bother, I am guaranteed one result. If I do, the result in unknown … 

… reaching for that ‘zen-like’ moment of atom-level calm.

Reaching for a place where reaching doesn’t exist … #irony

Elusive.

I feel tightness, pain, discomfort and I seize. My brain still firmly ‘on’ – and yelling : “you could twist more – shoulder further back – this hurts – where is my knee – focus on the breath – push through – this huuurts”.

And my breath constricts.

And my shoulder and neck muscles tighten.

In my head there is a notion of ‘perfect’ – elements in every pose that must be achieved for the pose to be ‘good’.

Elusive.

No joy.

This week I found myself in a similar position.

A class of many twists. A class of many downward dogs that turned into split stances and hip openers. A class with discomfort.

A class where my head was wishing away time.

And then a dropped phrase that my brain paused to pick up : “living with a whole heart” … openly; all five senses accepting the now as it is …

Sinking.

I know that this is the (very) basic tenet of yoga … but for a second I stopped reaching for ‘perfect’ … or ‘ideal’ … or even ‘better’ … and I surrendered to what I was feeling in the moment …

Physical discomfort with psychological calm. In letting go of an ideal, I let go of the reins. I was.

And after the class a sensation of buoyancy; of joy.

I have already written about the Golden Circle retreat and a similar feeling … where mental and physical activity coalesced … where I sank …

What is the ‘why’ behind the ‘what’?. Was it the combination of physical and psychological exertion that allowed a descent into total submergence? Was it simply the type of physical – does my soul need to be wrung out with yogic twists and dance to connect to joy?

… what brought joy?

 

There is no joy is not licking

On the 4th of January, I started an 8-week program designed to reduce and then eliminate all sugar from life … no refined sugar, honey, maple syrup as a first step and then no sweetness of any kind including fruit as the next …

“I Quit Sugar” …

… which, on typing the title strikes me as grammatical insouciance verging on disrespect … … tangent …

My day-to-day contains very little sugar – I’ve done IQS before and the overarching habits stuck.

But I am super conscious of how I feel in the skin into which I was born as well as that in which I choose to clothe myself. I am also highly aware of my tendency to snack more than I should, to eat less than I should and do both more irregularly that I care to …

… and to overthink all of the above.

A 2-month food routine offered a solution that solved all of the above with brain computation optional.

Breakfast – particularised  :  Lunch – last night’s dinner  :  Dinner – detailed.

Easy.

… unless there is office-requested baking to be done.

ChocolateCake

Margaret Fulton’s (fail safe) Sour Cream Chocolate cake.

Rich, but not too. Light, but not too. Sweet, but not too.

Perfect, precisely.

It was 8pm when the chocolate was melted with a stream of still-steaming water,  8pm when the scent of cacao first wafted into my (super sensitive) olfactory system, 8pm when I was acutely aware of the richness offered by a cocoa, fat, sugar emulsion.

10 minutes later, the KitchenAid was creaming butter with sugar and I realised how much I craved sweetness – not just the taste, but sweetness in life … hugs and kisses and spontaneous laughter; swings in parks and spatula licking.

Spatula-licking gives such satisfaction – such joy. Feeling the still-crystallised sugar on tongue-tip and tasting the creamy, light-as-air sweetness of the whipped beginnings of a cake.

There is something deliciously illicit about the action …

… and the smell and imagined taste enticed my brain like mythical nymphs of the classics.

But I didn’t. No sugar. None. Not a crystal.

The stoic addition of three yolks. The stiff beating of an equal number of whites.

Shoulders tense. Stress rising. Concentration wavering.

I added melted chocolate in a steady stream. Again, the spatula, hugging the sides of the bowl, the final droplets submitting to gravity.

Rising desire … caving to distraction of Kombucha fizz. Skolled.

I added flour … and mixed in the two thirds of sour cream. I folded in the air of egg white and created the perfectly toned batter.

There was little love but an all-consuming desire to taste; to leave an index-finger strip across the mixture. There was little care, but a need to finish before the desire was consummated.

The pillowy-plop of batter dropping onto tin, and the resolute mind of the batter-dropper.

And those last streaks of batter in bowl. The ones crying for a finger to capture or tongue to lick. The ones that I would hope that my Mother would leave; the ones that my grandmother did leave.

The chocolate batter of childhood – made in family kitchens, with shared understandings, complicit spatula sneaking and bowl licking. The innocent joys …

And the chocolate batter of adulthood – made in the quiet, with self-imposed rules, calories. The ‘shoulds’ ruling the ‘wants’.

There is no joy in not licking.

 

The Journey to ‘Here’

I feel slightly fraudulent …

… because I don’t feel as ‘pushed’ as I was a year ago; and not even a quarter of that ‘swallowed-whole’ feeling of 12 years ago.

I remember both … but at a distance.

So – can I write about my current ‘location’ now? When a previous one has been so much more ‘reader-worthy’?

… while I’m not back in the suffocating world of self-imposed and self-regulated expectations with self-rated outcomes (generally ‘not-quite-enough’), my current space is not not in the same general vicinity.

I have landed back at a cross-roads where I can hesitate a little longer or plough headlong down the unknown path … which has the allure that only the unknown can have … until it becomes known.

But can I truly write about something so mundane? Can I be a writer of ‘non-critical life-assessment’?

Pfft … why not … let’s see what happens …

May as well jump and splash for a while – just to see …

 

What is joy? (#2)

I’m not so very religious …

I’m actually not religious at all.

I don’t believe in one god, because even each of those who believe in ‘one god’ have a different idea of what s/he is/does/looks like. I don’t believe that there is one set of detailed rules, although I do find it interesting that most of the religions that I have been introduced to are founded on the same basic handful. I don’t believe that one book, in any religion, tells the whole truth … because there is no truth, only perception by both author and reader.

So when I started researching the definition of ‘joy’, I was dismayed to find that the majority of the texts were published by theologians or spiritual schools … and I started to think that I should change the subject matter of this blog.

But then I found this:

Joy

Disney-imagined ‘joy’ …

Which made me smile.

And from there I found this :

“Happiness is an outward expression of elation. Joy is an inner peace or sense of contentment … ”

Through happiness – laughter, silliness, smiles – joy develops … ” Joy is believing in yourself. Joy is knowing we will make mistakes … but that we are still valuable and magnificent exactly as we are. Joy is knowing that laughter will lead us as we face difficult tasks. Joy is feeling the connection to each other.

… Joy is not in things, it is in us.”*

 

Where I thought that possibly joy is a subset of happiness – possibly it’s the other way round … or possibly they’re interdependent – can you be joyful without being happy? No. Can you be happy without being joyful – yes … I think …

So I’m going to embrace the Disney image and couple it with my own definition of joy:

“‘Joy’ is an emotion. It is transient. It is bright. It goes deep. It is a whole of body sensation felt when all is completely right with the world”

 

 

*https://www.girlsontherun.org/remarkable/323/What-is-Joy,-Really