All we have to decide

pocket watch

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” ~JRR Tolkien (from The Fellowship of the Ring)

It’s so easy to spend our time wishing we were facing some other set of circumstances, living in some other time and place, or had made some other big choice in life that would have led us to a different situation, but they only thing we can decide upon is what to do with the life we have here and now just as it really is.

Facing what is and dealing with it as it is in a proactive way will get us much farther along than ignoring the situation.

What do you need to decide today about the time that is given you?


Posts from other divisions of Chrysalis Wellness for this week

Broken glass
Three approaches to life’s broken places from the A Kintsugi Life blog
Lavender fields soap bar
Lavender fields soap bar from Autumn Leaf Botanicals featured products
Obsidian stacking stretch bracelet with a sterling silver open butterfly charm
Obsidian stacking stretch bracelet with a sterling silver open butterfly charm from the Earthwear Collection portfolio

The power of yoga is awareness

Yoga pose

Life has been good the last few months. Although I still have all of my usual challenges (plus a few sometimes), I continue to feel better and better about my life, about  myself, and about the way things are going. I have more energy. I feel stronger (emotionally and mentally). Opportunities keep appearing and things keep falling into place at just the right time.

As much as I am enjoying this shift, I keep noticing myself anxiously trying to pinpoint the reason behind this change. After all, if I know what is causing this improvement now, I’ll know how to hang onto it and/or repeat it in the future.

But it hasn’t been all that easy to locate the magical key to this shift I’m experiencing. For one thing, there are so many small changes I’ve made to my self-talk, my habits, my attitude, and my self care. Any or all of these things could be the cause of this shift. It’s been a positive cycle for me where each small shift makes room for another shift which makes room for yet another shift in an ever-increasing spiral of growth.

However, I did uncover one change I made that very well may be the foundation for all of the rest. I realized the other day that I started teaching yoga right after the start of the year, and that roughly coincides with the time when things started moving in a more positive direction. This may not sound like a big deal, but the discipline of teaching yoga has been the accountability I needed to re-engage in my own regular practice of yoga.

As I’ve pondered the possibility that a regular practice of yoga could the foundation for this positive spiral I’m experiencing, I have gone back to think about times in the past when I have had a regular yoga practice and times when I have not. To the best of my recollection, every time period where I have maintained a regular yoga practice has been a much more positive period of my life. Those times when I have neglected a regular practice have not been nearly as positive or as stable.

This is very interesting to me. You’d think that I would already have been aware of this connection since I am a yoga teacher. Clearly I see the benefits of yoga in my life or I wouldn’t have taken the time, money, and effort to become a certified teacher. And yet, the degree to which this is true in my life took me completely by surprise.

In this case, at least, it’s clear that there have many other choices and changes that I have made that have contributed to my current positive state, but I am also convinced that yoga provided the foundation that made all of those other choices and changes possible. The practice of yoga does so much to reconnect me to my body and to bring me back into the present moment. Although I’m sure the extra physical activity from the asanas helps, it’s truly the power of being present to my body and its wisdom and being present in the here and now that is such a transformative practice for me.

This awareness of the impact it’s had in my own life leaves me feeling ever more grateful that I have the opportunity and the honor to share this practice with others in my classes. I hear so many people say that yoga is not for them because they are not flexible enough (or strong enough or thin enough or whatever their excuse is), but it’s the awareness yoga brings that matters. Find a style of yoga or a teacher that resonates with you and give it try. You just might be as surprised as I am at what happens!

Soaking up the sun

Max

The last couple of days have been bright and sunny ones, and without the leaves on the trees this time of year, the skylights in the living room create large patches of sunshine that travel slowly across the room as the sun moves through the sky over the course of the day. My two cats, like every cat I’ve ever known, love the sunshine. They have both paid a great deal of attention to the spots of sunshine moving across the room the last two days, but their reactions could not have been more different.

Max
Max

Max is the more dominant of my two cats. He doesn’t seem to be scared of much of anything, and he spends a great deal of time bullying my other cat. His biggest fascinations in life, though, are light and shadow. He is convinced that if he just tries hard enough, he can capture the light and hold onto it. As the spots of sun moved through the room, he attacked every surface the sun landed on.

He tried to dig through the carpet and the seat cushion of one chair to find the source of the light below it. He tried to eat my tax paperwork when the light shone on it to consume the light he was seeing. He knocked over another chair to look beneath it for the source of the light. He chased the light, he pounced on it, he tried every tactic he knew to capture and hold onto it.

Needless to say, it didn’t work. The sun still set at the end of the day, and the spots of light disappeared from the room. And in all that time, he never looked up see where the light was coming from or take a moment just to revel in the joy of its presence.

Sadie
Sadie

My other cat, Sadie, has the timid, easily-frightened demeanor of one who is bullied. He took great care of stay out of Max’s frantic chasing of the light, but when he could safely do so, he would settle into a patch of sunlight, point his little face into the sun with his eyes squinting shut, and purr with contentment as he soaked up the light and warmth.

He made no attempt to capture it or contain it. He didn’t fight Max for the right to have more space in the sun, he just took pleasure in what he had in that moment. I don’t know if cats are capable of gratitude, but he sure looked like a picture of it!

As I watched the two of them today, I realized that I so often treat good things in life the way Max responded to the sunshine. I race around trying to capture the good moments so I can keep them. I want to possess them, so they can never leave. I frantically dig and them trying to analyze where they came from to ensure that I can make them happen again. I fret about the likelihood that the moment won’t last.

I would be so much better served to be more like Sadie. To settle in and enjoy the moment for all its worth, with my face turned toward the source of all good things radiating gratitude. I could soak up every morsel of pleasure and contentment available in that moment. How much richer life would be!

The power of now

I start all of my yoga classes with a brief meditation on the breath. The reason I do that is to help my students become aware of the present moment—the eternal now. Our bodies are always present in the current moment and in our current location. Our minds, however, spend most of the time in the past or in the future or somewhere else other than here and now. The practice of focusing the mind on the breath brings the mind back to be present in current moment and the current space with our bodies. For this reason, yoga refers the breath the link between the mind and the body.

It sounds so easy, doesn’t it? Just focus on the breath, and it will bring you back to the present moment, the here and now. And it really is that simple. It’s also that difficult. Anyone who has tried meditation knows just how challenging this practice really is. And yet, everything we will ever do or accomplish in our lives must be done with our bodies. All of our actions, all of our communication, all of our work in this world happens via our bodies, which are always present in the here and now. It makes sense, therefore, to spend more time with our minds joining our bodies in the now to maximize our accomplishments.

This doesn’t mean that there is no value in thinking on the past or the future, however. The past can be a rich source of learning as we uncover lessons we have learned, patterns we keep recreating in our lives, or practices that we can make use of now. Thoughts of the future and the goals we hope to achieve can be very important in keeping us on track to continue growing and learning and becoming the people we wish to be. The problem comes when we want to live in some place and time other than the here and now.

My personal measure for determining whether I am consulting the past or the future for useful information or whether I am trying to live in the past or the future is to check my emotional barometer. When I am checking the past for lessons that might be useful to me today or envisioning future possibilities to help me make decisions or set goals, my emotions are those of curiosity and detachment. I am in a place of learning and inquiry. When I am living in the past by obsessing over things that have happened to me or dwelling in the future by worrying over things that I cannot do anything about in this moment, my emotions tend to be anxious, sad, angry, or discouraged. Most importantly, though, I am not learning. I am not detached. I am not curious.

When I find myself in those  spaces (and I often do), I find it helpful to start with a deep breath to bring me back to my body in this moment in this place. Then I can acknowledge the emotions that have come up and inquire about what I can learn from my sojourn in that other place and time that can inform my actions in this moment. By being curious about what it can do for me now, I don’t invalidate my feelings or my concerns, but it reminds me that I can only act in the here and now where my body is.

Here and now is all I have. It’s all you have too. What strategies do you use to bring yourself back to the here and now when your mind has gone off to another place and time?

This post is part of a blog hop series sponsored by students and graduate Coaches of ICA. Please hop on over to their posts and see what else you can learn about ”The Power of Now.

Esme Gosling – Money Coach  http://bit.ly/xu0bLi

Sandra Seibert – Joyful Growth Coach  http://joyfulgrowthcoach.com/2012/02/the-power-of-now-a-moment-of-stillness/

 Renee Vos de Wael – Intuitive Coach   http://reneevosdewael.com/2012/02/20/is-the-power-now/

 Namrata Arora – Life and Career Coach for women in transitions  http://aboutcoaching.wordpress.com/2012/02/18/the-power-of-now/

Tracy Coan – Bodacious Possibilities  http://bodaciouspossibilities.com/2012/02/choose-you-choose-now/

Jayde Gilmore – Wings LifeCoaching  http://wingslifecoaching.tumblr.com/

Brandy Morris-Chaudhry – Illuminated Perspective  http://www.illuminatingpotential.com/

Nuria Lencina – Coachinu  http://coachinublog.com/2012/02/20/the-power-of-now/

Pamela Rudisill – In Sight Life Coaching  http://insightlifecoaching.co/2012/02/20/the-power-of-now/

Louise Gray – Communication Coach, Learner Focused Coaching  http://learnerfocusedcoaching.com/2012/02/20/what-was-i-saying/

Jenn Brockman – Kick Ass Website Coach  http://kickasswebsitecoach.com/the-power-of-now

Rebecca Macfarlane – Turning Stones Coaching (Business Start Up and Career Coach)  http://wp.me/p1xmJl-dZ