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Posts Tagged ‘transformation’

Fortunate to have a few days off at Christmas time, not charged with any social obligations, I took long walks in the snowy forest, watched BBC TV-series after Jane Austen’s masterpieces, did research for work from the comforting depth of my arm-chair, met with the few friends staying in town for holidays. Was reconnecting to my inner tortoise, one could say. Like Austen’s Emma, I had time to explore the workings of my own heart/mind.  Unlike Emma, I had my yoga practice to turn to for wise guidance on the begun journey into the love-light country. In romantic relationships, as in yoga, we have a chance to meet all sides of ourselves, the ugly and the beautiful, the stuff that makes us shine and that which holds us back.

Here come a couple of my favourite lessons off the yoga mat (but then again all life is one if we do not try to compartmentalize it, right?)

Am I ready?

One of the most profound lessons that yoga has been teaching me about myself and life is that at every moment it can become more than a stretch just as falling for another always has a potential to be a much larger journey than the initial experience of falling in love.  Both can be truly transforming experiences. And as I’ve discovered, transformation is simply not possible without resistance and the underlying fear of change.

As I watch the yoga teacher suspending herself in the air in a beautiful arm-balance, my heart jumps with excitement and I feel the subtle shifting in my own muscles. The next second I catch the Controller in me go, “No-no-no, you could not possibly pull this one off without injuring yourself or destroying the apartment. You certainly should not consider venturing into it without a thorough preparation.”

What I forget is that every pose I ever tried have been preparing me for this next balance. Now whenever I think the pose is too much for me, I remind myself that I don’t need to do it in its entirety right away but can break it down into components to gently and patiently explore each of them. Likewise, in relationships, whenever something feels overwhelming, my beloved and I can break down the larger issue into smaller parts and see what each of them asks from us, one at a time. Suddenly I feel how my own tension subsides, see the face of my beloved relaxing, the first glimpse of smile showing in his eyes.

Throwing oneself into the fire

One of the first things we discover in yoga is the disproportionate restrictions in our body, those tight spots. So the physical aspect of yoga is about cultivating openness in those restricted areas by constantly playing the edge. In his wonderful book on yoga Erich Schiffmann defines playing the edge as “sensing where your edges are and learning to hold the body there with awareness, moving with its often subtle shifts.  Your skill in yoga has little to do with your degree of flexibility or where your edges happen to be. Rather, it is a function of how sensitively you play your edges, no matter where they are.”* I am reminded that there are no such thing as the ideal posture (or perfect relationship for that matter!) but rather each posture is ever-evolving, changing from moment to moment. Sensitivity for me is in the first place about listening for both the words and beyond the words, the ability to drop the agenda (this is how I am going to do this pose or what I am going to say) when I am listening to my own body or to what my beloved says. Even in relationships we can practice listening with the body, as we do in yoga. We can colibrate ourselves to become more sensitive and receive the waves we otherwise might miss.

 

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Every human life is made up of the light and the dark, the happy and the sad, the vital and the deadening. How you think about this rhythm of moods makes all the difference. Are you going to hide out in self-delusion and distracting entertainment? Are you going to become cynical and depressed? Or are you going to open your heart to the mystery that is natural as the sun and the moon?..”

(Thomas Moore, Dark Nights of the Soul, p. XIV)

Some of you who occasionally stop by the site noticed that I haven’t been posting for a while and wrote me asking if I was alright. Wherever you are, please know my life would not be the same without you and for one thing you are the reason I pulled myself together to write this current entry for which I am very thankful. So – thank you! 🙂  I am alright although maybe not quite in the conventional sense of the word. In fact, there’s been quite a lot of sadness, grief, confusion, and other emotions and feelings of distress that normally would not be associated with an alright state of affairs. But who wants a normal life? Authentic is what makes me wake up in the morning with an anticipation of yet another day of this life, mess and all. If pressed, I would admit that I would not mind skipping some of those emotions but it doesn’t seem to work this way. Not if I want to live a fully expressed life of a three-dimensional human being.

When the dormant for the last 200 years volcano in south Iceland near glacier Eyjafjallajökull erupted this past summer, many of us were reminded that some forces in the universe are out of our control (surprise!). When something larger than our spilling over with entries filofax is on its way from the very core of existence, the only wise thing to do is sit and wait. Wait and wonder. In the overcrowded airports, in the company of our own distress, in the arms of a friend or a lover who cannot take away our troubles neither accompany us on our journey. This journey is to be undertaken by me and me alone, if I am to find my own voice.

Dark Night of the Soul

The phrase “the dark night of the soul” was chosen by the Spanish mystic and poet John of the Cross (1541-1597) as a title for one of his poems and is used by a monk, university professor, and psychotherapist  Thomas Moore in his book Dark Nights of the Soul in the meaning of a period of transformation.

I like the metaphor of the night as it is the natural part of the cycle of Life itself. The night is fluid and pregnant with the dawn of the next day. Only on a dark night, away from the distracting lights of the city when I pause to look up and pay attention, can I clearly see the light of the stars scattered over the cold velvety sky and find solace in the darkness. The night frames this beautiful mystery unfolding over my head of which I am a part and so are you.


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When I just started working with coaching an acquaintance of mine, who’s been sitting zazen for quite a while, asked me how I was going to combine the practice and working as a coach.  The way he put it I had to actually bury my integrity in order to get into coaching. Whatever his perceptions of coaching might be, I had looked into it before I started working with coaching professionally.  What is it about? How does it help people? It also made me realise I had been doing it for quite a while for my friends as a hobby!

Then I looked inside. What is it that drives me? What do I have to offer people? Why should they come to me? (Those are really good questions for any professional to ask. Really, get it down on paper, just like that.)

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My short visit to Russia made me nostalgic of the good old cartoons we grew up with in the former USSR. “Hedgehog in the Fog” (Russian: Ёжик в тума́не, “Yozhik v tumane”) was never among my favourites when I was a child: it had no songs in it, hardly any words at all and although the plot was straightforward I always had a feeling there was more to it only I couldn’t get it.

The stop-motion movie was made at Soyuzmultfilm by Yuri Norstein and his little film team in 1975.

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