I am presented with a singular, yet universal challenge today. The particular experience bringing up my internal controversy is that of Vail's opening day on Vail's 50th Anniversary. While a small blip on the screen for anyone outside of the winter sports community, it's kind of a big deal around here. Since I moved here in 2005, I have grown to love this place and riding my snowboard as I do yoga and sitting in meditation. Sometimes, on the really hectic days, all I can think that might center me is to put my board on the snow, strap in and find that zen place of quiet turns bathed in bright sunlight. I particulary love those days when the tourists and day-trippers are minimal, and I find my favorite stashes pristine and awaiting my plunder. Sometimes I ride to a favorite spot, then lay down in the snow, by myself, and let the overwhelm of this place, and it's majesty wash over me - putting me back in my place of small fry in in the scope of big Mother Nature. Sometimes it's refuge makes me cry.
Now I am pregnant though. Many women have regaled me with stories of their fearless pregnant winters strapped into their board or snuggled into their skiis, carving sweet lines down my favorite mountain. With adventurous spirit, they have tuned into their centers, found their balance and gone for it, baby on board. I admire that a lot. But I'm not sure I can do it. Don't get me wrong, my friends and riding crew would say I'm pretty alright at at it - I'm not afraid to drop a clif or slide a rail in the park, I adore the swish of the trees on either side as I slide in between a deeply forested line and I'm not too big a fan of putting on the brakes. But because of that - I tend to fall down now and again - in the exploration of what exactly I can do and how hard I can push it. This, thankfully has only landed me in surgery on a knee once, and I'm just a soldier about my shoulder dislocating here and there. But am I able - or maybe the better question is willing, to only make a few turns down a mild slope just to say I was out there? Would I feel even sadder that I couldn't track down my favorite terrain in exchange for saying I put my board on this season?
As I write it, it even seems silly - that this is my big dilemma. To ride or not to ride - that is the question. But as I packed my husband up this morning and sent him off to meet up with all the people I love to ride with (him especially), I felt a pang of envy, I'm not gonna lie. An opening of what could become a deep crevasse of loneliness. Not just without him or my wintertime community of fun-loving, merry pranksters, but also without the mountain. Without the snow. Without that floaty feeling of long, languid turns and the quiet crinkle of the snow underboard.
This begs the question - how often do I let my selfish cravings take over my responsible and reasonable mind? How often do I choose to indulge in what I know to be less than my highest good for the sheer satisfaction of getting what I want in the moment? I think a lot is my answer - judging by how hard this is. I mean, if I would even consider putting the health - and even survival of my unborn child at risk for me to get that heady feeling that I get on my board, then there's got to be some spoiled child inside of me kicking her feet and screaming right now, as I say no - I will protect you, baby. I will be the cocoon to your butterfly, and I will take good care of myself, stay quiet and be gentle. I have to begin to get a little deeper about it, and examine where that loneliness might be coming from - that need to get outside and go fast or get the thrill of flying through the air - why is that my drug and can I be contented with myself anywhere, doing anything? Can I sit on my cushion and channel that same sense of spaciousness that I get on my board? Can I find refuge inside of myself instead of looking externally to my drug of choice?
Well, yes, I think I can. It's going to take work and it won't come without struggle. You see, surrender doesn't always come easy. Sometimes it's easier to put in effort than to loosen our grip on our mind. So when I go sit, my focus will have to be surrender. It'll have to entail not holding on to my sadness and loneliness, but opening up to the grace of my own breath creating that space inside that I always look to my mountain and sun to provide.
Happy Opening Day and Happy Anniversary Vail! We will meet again. And in the meantime, I will meet myself.
Today I am so inspired by the depth of mothering. I'm not even there yet exactly, but still there seems to be endless ways to celebrate the mystery, beauty and deep love of experiencing motherhood. As I prepare for the wonder of ushering a child into the physical world, I can only speculate curiously how life-changing and awesome it might be. There is also this shadow side of it too, though, that seems to be a danger to discount. This looming unknown of how will my body be after, how will I negotiate the challenges of raising a child - am I enough, am I prepared...?
I read this the other day and it brought tears to my eyes, to think how easy it is to buy into the social and cultural matrix that values only youth and beauty. How we neglect our elders, and see the wrinkles around their eyes instead of the depth of experience inside of them. How beauty is such a much deeper thread than what we see, yet we have lost our trust in experience, and allowed media and culture to tell us what beauty is. How unconsciously we pass to our daughters this feeling of not-enough - not pretty enough, not skinny enough, not popular enough, not anything enough. And we don't even realize what we do because of it's deep root in our phsyche. ... Gross. This little affirmation is one of the most beautiful things I've read in a long time. See if if doesn't resonate with you too:
And then I saw this blog. This little gem reminding me to go back to what I know - breath. To trust in the deep well of love that I know and that is the truth of me. To let go of the fear - and know that it is only a construct of my mind to keep me a slave to the ego, and to breathe. To breathe in the face of challenge, and negotiate with grace those moments that I don't know if I can make it through. Enjoy friends, as we all only have this moment to shape. Bring your mind to it, and let it expand! Thank you Mothering Magazne:
With much love and gratitude, I sign off to dive in myself!
I have been a spiritual seeker for many years. I have spent a bit of time exploring the link of the physical, emotional and energetic through yoga and meditation, searching for the non-dualistic thread, that deep knowing we each have access to when we drop the pretenses of our outward lives and dive into our experience of life. I have engaged the dance of consciousness with the breath, and it is glorious - when I get those rare glimpses of clarity. I advocate for a mindful life at least a few times a day in all of the yoga classes I teach and with all of my massage clients. And still sometimes I forget. Actually, a lot I forget.
Ego and habit have such a strong hold on our minds, that it is so easy to get drawn into their web. It is easy to see the world as "exactly as I see it". It is so much harder to let go of our fixed ideas, our expectations, anticipations, rememberances, hopes, fears and cues. It is so much harder to be simple in the moment than we give credit to. It takes a great commitment and a lot of work. And frankly, sometimes it seems so much easier not to do the work; to pretend that all really is as it seems, as we perceive it to be. That my thoughts are valid merely because I thought them - that this makes them truth. Well, upon fiurther investigation, I'm not so sure this is right. In fact, I feel quite strongly that this is totally wrong. And I'm willing to give it a bit more time and mindful exploration.
To the credit of my pregnant brain, I can't remember right now which of my inspiring yoga teachers made this analogy, but I'm going to share it with you anyway, because it's so good :) She said to envision our minds as empty vessels. Because when the vessel is full - of ideas, of judgements, of expectation and self-righteousness, we leave no room for other ideas inside. We leave no room for potential, for possibility. When we think we know how something should be, how it will be - maybe because we've tried it once or twice before so we think this time will be the same, or because someome told us their story of a similar experience - we limit the possibility of the outcome to be just that: exactly what we thought it would be. So where does that leave us on the spectrum of inspiration, of creating new things, new karma? Right...exactly where we started with nowhere to go - nowhere to grow. So we have to break out of that habit, that limitation, and see mind as an emply vessel. Where we can pour new and fresh ideas in - every time. The "I don't know" mind. We have to deeply know that each approach to what appears to be the same experience - that elusive yoga posture, that challenging co-worker, that casserole that never seems to turn out quite right, is a new one and has potential to turn out differently, if only we shift our perception and drop our expectation. ...Easier said than done. Remember that part about great commitment and a lot of work?...
So now that I'm staying home more, expecting this miracle of a baby to come bless us with her wisdom, instead of getting frustrated at not being at work, not making money and not being productive, maybe I can see this as a great opportunity to go sit down and close my eyes. Maybe I could listen and feel the breath as it courses through me, filling me with life-affirming sensation. Maybe I could dive into the charming energy of this growing child inside, and give her as much attention as I've been giving my fear. And maybe I could take my own advice and dive into that deep well of love that is the experience of life in this moment.
Dive in, friends. There is no bottom.
As a student of yoga, massage, meditation , poetry and other such introversions, I figured some of my inspirations might also touch the hearts of others. Read, ruminate, digest, create...always returning to this well of deep love inside to renew ourselves and rediscover what we are. Enjoy!