I went to yoga this morning. It was wonderful, but there were no mountains to stare at outside the window (there wasn’t even any window in the yoga room) like there was when I was doing yoga almost two weeks ago during my trip to the Miraval Spa in Tucson.
This morning’s Zen card said “Purpose” on the front. It said that “I should not search for my purpose in life, but I should lead a purposeful life and give to myself and to others.”
Oh, how I wish I was back among the mountains in Tucson. When I was surrounded by the mountains they made me feel more courageous and strong. (I seemed to be able to do more of my yoga asanas at Miraval than I was able to do this morning. I bet those mountains emit certain spirits that enter your body and help you hold a pose.)
It’s hard to believe that two weeks have already past since my touchdown in Tucson. I remember I was exhausted after the 4.5 hour plane ride, but when the Miraval shuttle driver picked me up, along with five other Miraval visitors, and he gave me a Miraval brochure filled with all the week’s activities, I started to perk up. Almost all the others on the shuttle had, like me, been to Miraval before. Many had been there several times. They too, knew the magic of Miraval and came back to get some more.
So, what did I do (and not do) during this second time around?
– Physical Challenges: I decided to leave my superwoman cape at home and didn’t do any physical challenges like the new Desert Sky Zipline. I wasn’t ready to soar from a height of 40 feet above the desert floor. Nor, did I go Out on a Limb, walk the Desert Tightrope, or try Quantum Leap and leap from a 25-foot pole. I decided to stay on the ground this trip. I didn’t climb the Climbing Wall either. While I’ve made incredible progress in moving forward and accepting change this past year, I just wasn’t sure my legs or my mind were ready to reach for higher ground just yet.
– Yoga and Breath Work: I did challenge myself physically in other ways. I spent several mornings at the Agave Center, doing yoga and breath work. I learned the art of breathing. According to the Miraval brochure, the Yogis call breath work, Pranayama. I learned how to work with my breath to strengthen my body’s energetic system. It was not easy.
“Breathe in,” said the instructor Mary Grace, “Let your diaphragm go down and let your stomach go out.” It sounded easy enough. Or so I thought.
“Breathe out,” said the instructor Mary Grace, “Let your diaphragm go up and your stomach pull in.” It sounded pretty simple. I can do this, I said to myself.
“Now put the two together,” said Mary Grace. It sounded like a good idea. Up and out and down and in. Piece of cake.
Ha, ha, ha! Nope, it’s not a piece of cake. You try it. Go ahead, see if you can do it. Breathe in for two seconds and then breathe out for 3 seconds and pause. Try it again. I like Pranayama, but it takes a lot of practice. (Note to self: practice Pranayama every day. Second note to self: try to practice Pranayama at least once a week. Third note to self: make sure to keep breathing at all times whether the stomach hangs in or out.)
– Skillfully Aware: I attended Mark Farris Pirtle’s class to learn how to manage stress. Mark said that “Emotions come from lousy things and if emotions escalate they can lead to stress illnesses, like depression, insomnia, anxiety and rage.”
Mark also said that “emotions are a mind/body sensation.” Talk and image come from our mind that does our thinking. Touch and feel come from the body. And the world can trigger good things and lousy things with sights and sounds.
“Mindfulness is you watching your own experience,” said Mark, “However, as you watch you don’t offer any judgement.”
After sitting through this session, I realized that while I am doing a good job of integrating the loss of my husband into my life, I’m not doing as good a job when it comes to improving my insomnia or dealing with my menopausal moments. (Here I go again, judging myself, just like Mark said NOT TO DO. Note to self: practice being skillfully aware and don’t judge myself so harshly. Second note to self: check out Mark’s website called skillfullyaware.com for more tips. Third note to self: stop, breathe and be more…yes, yes, yes.)
– Cultivating Resilience: I went to Anne Parker’s session to learn how to cultivate resilience through the power of my heart. Anne told us that “the heart sends more information to the brain than it receives from the brain.” She said that “in the womb, the heart develops first before the baby’s brain.”
My ears were really turned on when Anne started to explain the heart some more. “The heart is also a gland,” said Anne. “It secretes oxytocin and cortisol which is bad stuff. But when you meditate, it secretes good stuff to modulate the bad stuff. And when you have good emotions and are calmer, more joyful and relaxed it secretes even better stuff that can help slow aging.” (Note to self: think good thoughts all the time. Second note to self: try to meditate more often. Third note to self: Open up the double CD by Tony Redhouse on Native American Healing Meditation that you paid a lot of money for at the Miraval bookstore and use it every day…or at least once a week…you better use it once a month!)
Anne shared so much more about resilience. She said the seven emotions that support coherence which make a person more resilient are:
1. Emotions that are heartfelt. (I must make my emotions sincere from my heart.)
2. Emotions that are savoring. (I need to just be in it and not move ahead.)
3. Emotions that emit gratitude. (I should keep a journal of what I am grateful for.)
4. Emotions that are healthy distractions (Sometimes I need to put my energy into another state instead of harping on the negative.)
5. Emotions that are present. (If I remind myself to practice mindfulness and live in the moment I will not be overwhelmed as much. Note to self: be present, present, present, don’t think ahead or behind so much.)
6. Emotions that provide connections. (I’m good at this. I like to connect with others. That’s why I blog.)
7. Emotions that are playful. (Do you know that people who have fun are more resilient? Note to self: Have more fun.)
So how can I be in coherence when I’m under so much stress? “Practice shifting your emotional state to one of the seven states,” said Anne.
That’s all for now. I’m skillfully aware that I am hungry, so I’m going to eat some dinner (something healthy of course like the leftover salmon and spinach I cooked last night). Then I’m going to practice my breathing…although my stomach may not go in like it should after I eat. And I’m going to improve my resilience by having some fun while I dance around and listen to Lady Gaga sing “Bad Romance” at the Grammys. I hope Lady Gaga wins a Grammy Award tonight.
Stay tuned, there’s more to share. I have to, have to, have to tell you all about the Sexuality classes I attended. Plus, there’s more to tell about my one-on-one astrology session.
Can’t wait to do more reminiscing.
P.S.- Have you checked out my new review blog yet?
Sounds wonderful, Judi. Your point that when we are "… more joyful and relaxed it secretes even better stuff that can help slow aging," is spot on for me at present: I've just written about 'Growing Younger' in my blog (Baby Boomergirl Blog on WordPress – if you want to crosslink blogrolls, let me know).
So being happy & relaxed is the secret of secreting youthful hormones! … Not sure whether to head off to yoga, or into my man's arms!
What a wonderful journey you are on! Keep up the good work…you are a true inspiration to us all. Just reading your blog about Miraval and picturing your activities helps reduce my stress. Next year….I am going with you!!
looking ahead to hear about your Sexuality classes….. exciting topic.
You crack me up! I am laughing as I read, so you have not only gotten yourself to destress, you've gotten me to destress thru laughter. Truly inspiring!
I'm so happy when my writing makes a difference to my readers. Thanks to all for your comments. My wish for each of you is that you live a stress-free life.
wow, what a great post. Made me think about a lot of things.