Creating a Sustainable Home Practice
“ It's a philosophy of life. A practice. If you do this, something will change, what will change is that you will change, your life will change, and if you can change you, you can perhaps change the world." ~ Vivienne Westwood
This year's Healing Heart Retreat at Tamarack is now nestling into the dusty pages of history, and my hope is that everyone who attended was able to take home at least one practice that will sustain them through the ups and downs of everyday life.
It was a glorious week, with beautiful weather (mostly no rain), clear starry skies, relaxing yoga and meditation on the grass with a view of Lake Tamarack in the background. Barbara's culinary creations were out of this world. Each year she outdoes herself, and this year was no exception. If you'd like to but haven't had the opportunity yet to join us on a retreat, I hope you'll be with us next year!
When you practise yoga and meditation daily for a week, the benefits accrue much more quickly. A yoga practice has a short half life, so practising for a short time several times a week will be more beneficial than once a week for a longer time. But even if you practise yoga only once a week fairly regularly, you've probably felt the benefits - more calmness, strength, energy, flexibility, more open to possibility.
Yet establishing a home practice, whether you've been away for a week immersed in gentle movement and quiet relaxation, or come to class once a week, can be challenging. Whether you work out of the home or in it, the day's busyness can start to call you almost before you open your eyes - especially if you keep your cell phone by your bed!
I like to start each day with a short yoga practice and meditation. The other day I jumped into my day with just a short meditation, and partway through the day I was standing in the kitchen with a nagging thought in the back of my mind - "I need to do my yoga practice." My upstairs studio seemed very far away, and another thought floated through my mind - "Do it in the kitchen." So I did a few minutes' practice where I stood, and immediately felt refreshed and energized.
As a friend said later when I told her about this, "Your yoga practice came to meet you." I loved this! That's so exactly it. If our yoga and meditation practice becomes yet another "to-do" on our endless list of busy to-dos, how do we ever find the time to fit it in? Yet we always have an inner voice nudging us in the right direction, and when we can slow down and listen to it, and follow its promptings, the path may open up - and we become more open to possibilities.
How long does a practice have to be? Do I have to do it on my mat? Do I need to do it at a particular time? Do I have to be in a certain frame of mind? Are there a certain number of poses I need to do before it's a "valid" practice? The answers to these questions, and more, may be much more fluid than you assume. Examining and challenging your own assumptions about what constitutes a "proper yoga practice" may help you to move toward a practice that will sustain you through the years.
Here's a short 10-minute meditation on the breath I made to help you move towards greater clarity, self-compassion and healing.
And now, I'd love to hear from you. Do you have a practice that sustains you through the ups and downs of daily life?
Donna offers a holistic perspective on the relationship and healing of physical and emotional pain.