Saturday, September 28, 2013

Reflection.

Mike Baird - Wikimedia Commons

Day 35.
At least these bouts of Chronic Fatigue are getting shorter in duration.  This last one has only lasted a couple of weeks, I've been so tired I haven't been able to string two words together on this blog.  I also haven't done asanas every day but what I have done is meditate and when I have rolled out the mat, I've done restorative poses using lots of pillows and yoga blocks.  I did read an article while I was ill: about yoga and Chronic Fatigue, it recommended restorative poses as opposed to active asanas because even stretching stresses the body.  Another article I read ( I'm sorry I didn't note what I read or where ), mentioned that Doctor's often prescribe exercise for people suffering Chronic Fatigue because they believe the sufferer needs to move away from a sedentary lifestyle.  I'm sorry, but that's like telling a cancer sufferer, they need to move away from having tumours.  I suppose so little is known about C.F that those in the Medical profession feel at a loss at times as to what to tell those who come to them for help.
Today I had a lovely long bath and read an article by Elena Iacovou called "Developing awareness through a spiritual diary" on page 27 of Australian Yoga Life issue 39.  While reading, I realized that this is what this blog is- it is my spiritual diary of sorts, though why I am putting this out in the World I wonder.  Here is a quote about what such a diary might be-"Begin with a fresh notebook.  To get the most potent results from keeping a spiritual diary, it is best to plan a weekly practice and stick to it.  Outline what you will do in terms of asana, meditation, yoga nidra, pranayama and reading.  You might like to look at other aspects of yoga that aren't part of your current practice such as bhakti ( devotion ), raja ( meditation ), jnana ( wisdom ) and karma yoga ( service ).  Or you might prefer to focus on wider aspects of daily life.  Think about the habits you want to transform, physical changes, mental patterns you want to understand and perhaps change or emotions you want to resolve, and begin transforming them into questions."
Although my life has been improved by daily yoga,  perhaps some of the benefits are slipping past me,  by being more observant, I think keeping record might allow me to apply yoga to all parts of my life and not just my body.
The one question that bloomed large and clear in my mind when I read this was-
"Why do I constantly punish myself with food?"  I know I eat for pleasure and comfort, but I am currently undergoing tests for a whole lot of tummy troubles, eating the wrong things have a dramatic effect on me but it seems like I am powerless in the face of food.  This is something I am hoping yoga will help me with.  So what is it about eating I want to transform?  Actually, I believe it has more to do with self love- a deep need that I've been treating with food for as long as I remember.  I hope my current practice of restorative yoga will help.  It's surprisingly difficult to do restorative yoga without thoughts such as- "this isn't real yoga" or "I'm not achieving much." coming to  mind.  It has been revealing already about my inner beliefs about striving and succeeding.  It is hard for me to nurture myself, in some ways Chronic Fatigue has been a blessing.  I don't think I would be thinking so hard about the big questions about myself if I didn't have it.

Today's practice- 30 minutes of restorative yoga, sitting in stillness, child's pose, cat and cow pose, supported bridge pose, supported legs up the wall pose, savasana.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Spaciousness.

Day 25.

"More is not always the answer.

Living Your Yoga: In this busy, busy world, we often believe that having a little more time is the answer. But you already have all the time there is in the Universe. Today, do a little less, and let the spaciousness of time around you."

(A Year of Living Your Yoga, by Judith Hanson Lassater PhD., P.T.)

We homeschool our children. We've been doing this since D.S was five years old, so we've been doing this for nearly 8 years now. For this whole time, I've struggled with feelings of guilt that I'm not doing enough with them both. We have "sit down at the table" time every weekday to do formal work and they see a tutor once a week as well. I think the reason we do worksheets is because we as parents feel better seeing something concrete. Worksheets can be useful because we can see what the kids know and what they might struggle with. It's also insurance for us in case the State Government Homeschooling rules change in the future and we will be subject to auditing. But the truth is, most of the kids learning comes from the situations we find ourselves in and the conversation that develops from them. We have discussed everything under the Sun while we have been in the car, and the kids share with me what they know and perceive in their world and they will ask questions. We often joke that we do "Car schooling" rather than "Homeschooling."

I often feel I am wasting my day by sleeping late but in reality, if I didn't get that extra rest, I wouldn't be able to do anything. It seems a shame that I waste that precious rest by feeling guilty about it. It's my truth that I need more rest than other people because of my health and I need to manage my time and energy to be the best I can. Because I need to rest so much, the kids spend quite a bit of time on their own which is something that I feel guilty about but really, it's been a blessing in disguise. They rarely say they're bored because they are used to amusing themselves, and DS and DD although they have other wonderful friends, they are the best of friends because they have always relied on each other for company also they have learned to learn independently. They are also very considerate and compassionate because they know that I need help sometimes.

When we are together, I am so aware of how precious that time is. I think from now on, I will try to be especially aware and thankful for my time with my family. My kids are doing well, part of that is from that time at the kitchen table but a majority of it is from the time we've spent together just living in wonder at the World. We need Spaciousness in order to do this.

Todays practice- bedtime asanas.

 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Breathe



Day 24.

"As you breathe in, cherish yourself.  As you breathe out, cherish all beings."
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama.

I've been cherishing myself a lot lately.  Mainly by allowing myself to nap and to have a little peaceful space.  So, I'm sorry I've not been posting for a couple of days. Although, I haven't blogged, of course I'm still doing yoga on a daily basis and still I feel the benefits every day.  Finally, I've worked out that my 365 days of yoga doesn't mean I have to post about it everyday-  it becomes more about the blog and less about the yoga that way. 
Saturday was spent napping a lot, which Ziggy my cat baby thought was marvelous.  On Sunday the weather was beautiful and mild and I got into the garden.  I'm currently waging war on a mat of weeds but I also got some potatoes in.  It's an exciting time in the garden right now, even though it's only early Spring and we still have very cold weather, there is a subtle change in the air- the scent of blossoms, a lack of biting chill, a little more daylight.
We had a lot of rain yesterday, it bucketed down all day.  But today is cloudy but dry.  I can see some dark clouds in the South out my window but at the moment it's perfect.  I'm excited that soon I'll be able to put my mat out on the grass to practice.  It's so special to be outside doing yoga, to feel a warm breeze on your body and to hear the gorgeous bird sounds.
Today's practice- "Freeing the feet" yogadownload.com

Friday, September 13, 2013

Do less.

Image by Richard Bartz, wikimedia creative commons licence.

Day 20.

"The secret to living well is never do as much as you can.

Living Your Yoga: Many of us measure our self-worth by how much we get accomplished each day. Consider this: our worth is not based on accomplishment but on our existence as a whole human being. Today resolve to do 10 percent less and enjoy yourself more." (A Year of Living Your Yoga by Judith Hanson Lassater Phd., P.T)

I never feel like I've accomplished enough, I can't remember a time when I didn't feel that way. It has taken a long time to realise that I've been dealing with a disorder that has sometimes been described as an energy disorder, and it has been for this reason that I don't do as much in my day as others. 
I think most people- in our culture anyway, do measure themselves in terms of what they accomplish. For us who have disabilities in this area, we often feel lazy or less than everyone else. I am slowly coming to realise that I am still a worthy member of society. I think I am still a good wife and mother, but I also accept I will probably never be able to do work outside the home and be a mother at the same time. But that is ok, I certainly do not judge those women that work and have families, but I've tried it and in the end found I became ineffective as an employee and as a mother. It's best I do less and do the job I value most the best I can. It's important to lead a happy life too!
Today's practice- in the spirit of doing 10 percent less, tonight I am going to do some relaxing asanas and meditate before bed.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Calm.


Image- "That" Japanese Maple by Jeremy Reding. Creative Commons Attribution- Share alike 2.0 Generic licence.
Day 19.
"Trying to be calm creates agitation; start with being present with your agitation.
Living Your Yoga: The residue of effort is agitation, not calmness. Today on your yoga mat, find the calmness behind the agitation your thoughts create during asana. Attach yourself to this calmness."
(A Year of Living Your Yoga by Judith Hanson Lassater PhD., P.T)
I am yet to try the above suggestion. Yes, I did get up early this morning but I did not get on the mat. I am no stranger to effort producing agitation. I am only just coming to terms that managing Bipolar Disorder and Chronic Fatigue means being very, very gentle with myself. I am just starting to accept that I may not do asanas every day, I may not blog every day. I know I will do some form of yoga each day, whether it be reading about the philosophies behind Yoga or breathing practice or meditation because it has become an integral part of my wellbeing. The book that I have been getting the above quotes from has been a real gem, each quote that I read is an "Aha!" moment for me, a message to carry through my whole day. I also read books on Buddhism as well. This study makes me more aware of the things I can do to hopefully make the World a little bit better. ( I really believe that making a difference starts with being kind to yourself.) But it's interesting that if you apply too much effort to "being good" or "being calm" or "being" anything really, you seem to get further away from whatever it is you were trying to achieve. This is the "residue of effort that is agitation". A few days ago I read a story about the monk Sona who asked Buddha- "How should I practice?" The Lord Buddha replied "When you were younger, you were a skilled lute player, were you not? How did you tune your instrument?" Sona replied "Not too tight and not too loose." "That is the way to live your life." replied Buddha.
Yoga Asanas are the perfect way to examine trying to be calm. I know when I am doing Yoga it seems like a little war is being waged inside me. Trying to find alignment, feeling discomfort, fighting unwanted thoughts feels abrasive and not calm at all. What will be behind my agitation today? I can't wait to look for the calm!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Safety.

Image by Deb Salter Copyright 2013.

Day 18

"All security is false.

Living Your Yoga: We spend lots of time in life trying to manipulate the things and people around us so we will feel safe. But nothing is secure, because all things change. Today notice how you cling to control as a strategy to feel safe. Instead, choose to embrace the absolute truth of change, and then notice how much safer you feel." (A Year of Living Your Yoga by Judith Hanson Lassater PhD., P.T)

Today, we had an appointment in the City. Afterwards we went to the Wave Pool at Albert Park, it's been a long time since I had last been there. The kids were quite small last time and when the waves were on, we sat right up at the shallow end and laughed and squealed as the waves washed over our toes.

This time, DD who loves the water, saw the waves swelling at the deep end and eagerly waded her way towards them. She is under 10 years of age and the rules were that she had to be within arms length at all times. I caught up with her and pointed out the rules board. She nodded, but in the next moment, off she went carried away by the excitement of it all. I got a lot of exercise today wading furiously after her. She also insisted on going on the huge waterslide, I was very apprehensive as I gazed up the three flights of stairs it took to reach the top. "I'll be fine, Mum!" was all she said before scampering off and reappearing with a huge smile on her face several minutes later.

My son is very different, he is naturally cautious and DH and I take every opportunity to encourage him to take a little risk sometimes. With him, I worry he will struggle with change like I do, I really don't want him to be hampered by the immobility that comes with overanalysing every decision. DS is quite different, she is adventurous and I often catch myself trying to hold her back or temper her impulses, yet I know I'm doing her a disservice by doing so. I know that when she is an adult, I want her to be optimistic and open to experience, I don't want her to shrink away from life.

It is true that clinging to control gives the illusion of safety. In a way it is wasted effort because we can never hope to halt change and change although scary, is good. For me personally, change came in many guises and each one was terrifying, but I gained great things from change like- a wonderful husband, trips overseas, pregnancy and lovely children, even my experiences with Bipolar Disorder have given me an appreciation for life and empathy for others. Even change that seems bad is just one swing of the pendulum, a bad experience can trigger growth or illumination. We could all do with taking a deep breath and opening our arms to change.

Today's practice- 20 mins Gentle Hatha in the a.m!

 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Mind.

(Copyright Deb Salter 2009)

Day 17.

"What seems like controlling your mind is only the dominance of one part of your mind over another part.  Soon it will switch.

Living Your Yoga:  The mind cannot be controlled; it can be observed with love.  When you step on your yoga mat today, come with curiosity.  Notice how the mind first loves a pose, then is bored with it, then hates the pose.  It keeps changing.  Watch it with love."
(A Year of Living Your Yoga, by Judith Hanson Lassater PhD.,P.T)

Day 17 of my Year of Yoga- Day 1 of getting up a little earlier.  I got on the mat as soon as I rolled out of bed and I observed with curiosity my mind really disliking the sensations of my stiff morning body.  I did find myself feeling that thinking this way was not right but Yoga made me start loving the sensations,  Before I knew it, breathing and moving made it all come together. 

I must say, even though it's only a little over two weeks of doing Yoga daily, it really is making a difference.  That's why I want to make the changes necessary to be able to practice more.  I think I'm enjoying life more, I'm noticing little things that bring me joy and I feel like I'm more connected to life. The morning alarm is still not my friend, but tomorrow I'm definitely getting up early again!

Bigger

(Copyright Deb Salter 2013)

Day 15 and 16.

"Allow yourself to become a bigger container to hold all of life.

Living Your Yoga:  Sit quietly with a long spine and slightly dropped head.  As you breathe, visualize your awareness expanding until it holds this whole moment as it is:  sounds, sights, and smells.  Take it all in and let it all go.  Observe the storms we call thoughts, rising and falling.  Remain for ten minutes, and then slowly get up to live your day fully."
( A Year of Living Your Yoga by Judith Hanson Lassater PhD.,P.T)

Yesterday, my daughter and I went to visit my family.  It was lovely to see them, we took Mum out for lunch and then went to my Brother's house.  We got home late in the day and well......I managed to sit in child's pose before bed and listened to this fabulous Tibetan chant, but that was it.
And today, the day is about done.  I have come to the realization that there is more to simply committing to 365 days of Yoga, I need to actually timetable this.  Assuming that there will be time at the end of every day to do Yoga is not working for me, too many unexpected things pop up to derail my plans.  It does seem obvious that if I do Yoga first thing in the morning, then that will get rid of any problem.  It is still a problem.  Because of my extreme fatigue, I certainly do not feel great in the morning. I've found that little steps work best for me.  Starting tomorrow, I am going to do at least 20mins of Yoga.

This day is nearly over but I still have time to sit for ten minutes, then off to bed!



Saturday, September 7, 2013

Delicious Bananas.

(Photo from Flickr Creative Commons.)

Day 14.

"God has given us a delicious banana, and we are eating the peel.

Living Your Yoga:  Sit quietly and notice how many of your thoughts are about things that are truly unimportant in the scope of a whole life.  Inhale, and as you exhale, focus on the gifts of life and the presence of someone to love.  Then continue your day with a lighter heart."
(A Year of Living Your Yoga by Judith Hanson Lassater PhD.,P.T)

On the night that Australia votes to elect a new government, I am filled with trepidation because the outcome has not gone how I would have liked.  How easy it would be to carry this negativity.  I am eating the peel.  The truth of the matter is that no matter which side gets in, I am so, so lucky to be living in this country where I live comfortably and relatively worry free.  I am not hungry, I am not afraid, I love and am loved in return.
Tonight I will do my yoga with a light heart and be in the moment.  Already, I feel optimistic for tomorrow!


Friday, September 6, 2013

A meditation experience.

 

(Photo Deb Salter copyright 2013)

Day 13.

I had an odd experience while meditating today. My thoughts were rolling through my mind like they usually do, I was trying to not try hard at making them stop. I kept coming back to my breath and letting the thoughts float by, suddenly, it was like my thoughts were superimposed on film, I watched it scroll by until I realised I could see behind the it. I had a strong feeling that if I could only see what was behind there, I would be able to see who I really am. I saw what was behind the film.......nothing!

I think this experience was showing me that I am not my thoughts. I kind of know this already on one level but it's very hard to apply this to life. I feel a little unnerved by this experience, but feel this message is so important. Although there was nothing behind the film, it was like being released from the prison of myself and catching a glimpse of vastness and peace! Heavy, huh!

On a lighter note, my practice today was 20 minutes of gentle Hatha. I think Tree Pose is my favourite pose. When I press one foot into the ground and point my head to the heavens, I can almost feel a current of energy rising from the Earth and descending from the sky.

 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Tension



Day 12

"Tension is your body's response to the past.

Living Your Yoga:  Close your eyes and notice where you are holding tension in your body.  This holding is related to your thoughts from the past.  Find time today to lie in Savasana (Basic Relaxation Pose), supporting your head and under your knees, covering your eyes.  Consciously observe your tension for fifteen minutes.  Watch it melt away."
(A Year of Living Your Yoga by Judith Hanson Lassater Ph.D.,P.T)

Apart from taking Pepe Dog to the vet this morning, today was the first day in quite some time that I've spent at home.  It was heavenly!  I did this yoga sequence by Ekhart Yoga on Youtube and then I tried to do the above suggestion- 15 minutes in Savasana.  Although I'm loving my daily yoga and writing about it on this blog, I find I have to be careful that my daily practice doesn't become too "result" oriented.  I do often find myself grinding through a sequence so I have something to report here, but it's important to keep in mind that yoga is not just about asanas.

While lying in Savasana, the thoughts where swirling in my mind and all my muscles were tight.  I had not supported my head or put something under my knees and I was lying on my mat on the cold tiled floor.  I realised later that in my haste to slap the mat down and get it over and done with, I had ignored the real purpose of the exercise.  There was no way I could have sunk into deep relaxation, to have gone inside myself to see the spots that held tension.   But, of course even when things don't work out, there is always a lesson to be learned!  

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Despair.


Day 11.

"Despair is anger turned inward.
Living Your Yoga: Despair is an emotion built on thoughts. The next time you are feeling down about your life, ask yourself this question: Am I feeling trapped, as if there is no choice in my situation right now? Thinking you are stuck can stimulate and contribute to depression. Get up and go for a brisk fifteen-minute walk right now. Focus on the myriad of choices life actually offers you."
(Living Your Yoga by Judith Hanson Lassater).

Today I can feel my shoulders creeping up to my ears. I woke feeling unrested and I feel unwell in my stomach. Six weeks ago, I went off gluten and for the first time ever, I felt light and healthy, I went one step further and adopted a "paleo diet". My fatigue began to lift and I felt, well.....happy.
I mentioned this to my doctor and she took some bloods. I have the gene for coeliac disease and am going to have further tests, however I need to do a gluten challenge, ie. challenge my system by consuming quite a bit of gluten for the next 6-8 weeks. I already feel pretty crappy and in my mind I am terrified of going back to how I was months ago.
Today's "Living Your Yoga" made me realise that yes, life does offer options. I love this phrase. Life is generous, it can give us so much if we can open up and allow those options to happen. Some options I could try are to eat as healthy as possible and just add some sources of extra gluten, I can do yoga daily, but I need to be mindful of my energy levels and remember not to beat myself up if I don't get everything done that I had planned. I feel more positive already!
Today's practice- Sun Salutations facing the sunset.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Tired

 


Day ten.
The past week has been so hectic. Today, I am worried. My body is showing signs of returning Chronic Fatigue. I noticed that I was feeling guilty about it so I gave myself a stern talking to and went and had a nap. I'm about to go up to bed, lie in child's pose then sit for awhile and imagine surrounding myself with a light of kindness.

 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Listening



"Listening heals a lot of grief and sadness.

 Living Your Yoga: Someone in your life needs to be heard, needs your attention.  Today, take the opportunity to listen to her for ten minutes, without planning your reply."
(Living Your Yoga- Judith Hanson Lassater)

Well, our snow holiday didn't turn out quite as expected.  DD fell ill on the first day.  She wasn't too bad yet and the kids managed to experience trudging through a land of white and they went tobogganing, so much fun!  But by evening she was very poorly.  The next day was worse and we spent the whole day in the apartment.  Because it was the weekend we couldn't get anything to make her feel better, DH drove a round trip of 3 hours for pain relief.  On the following day, the last day of our holiday we prepared for the 5 hour trip home and in the end we had to stop at the hospital at Mount Beauty where DD was examined, given pain relief and finally we got home.

Today has been spent at the doctors and she had her first x-ray, which she thought was pretty cool!
All will be well, but I have spent the whole weekend listening.  Listening to your child in pain hits you right in the heart.  Thank goodness for yoga, it kept me in the present.

Today's practice- 20 min gentle Hatha.

Excitement

Day 5.

"Excitement is the surface of fear.
Living Your Yoga: Notice today what excites you. Then look deeper and see what it is about that exciting thing that stimulates fear in you."
(Living Your Yoga, Judith Hanson Lassater)

Another busy day but I managed some Sun Salutations. I was glad to have done them. The kids and I drove to the city to pick up my husband, we were to start our snow holiday as soon as he finished work. I had been so busy packing and getting the animals fed and watered I had not felt the least bit excited.
I finally relaxed enough to get excited when my DH arrived and we left the city on our 5 hour journey up to the mountains. It rained. I mean it was coming down in sheets, that pounding rain that is so heavy that you have to put your wipers on hard and you still can't see. I was well and truly feeling excitement.....and fear! We were heading up to Mount Beauty to stay the night, the kids were so sick of being in the car "how much longer?" "But you said 20 minutes before!" It was about 8.30pm, the rain had eased a little but lightning was blazing in the sky over the mountain, suddenly we saw several cars all stopped on the road with their hazard lights on. A huge branch had come down, shattering on the road. Everyone had just finished hauling pieces of tree off the road and we were able to continue on not long after.
About 10 km further along, the car in front of us put their hazard lights on again and came to a stop. We all got out to clear the debris on the road, someone said they had hit the previous branch but luckily they were going slow and no damage had been done. On we went, driving around smashed bits of tree, I was so relieved when we got to the motel. As I lay in bed that night, I had to consciously relax every part of me, it had been hard work trying to appear calm.