Experiments in … Self Discovery: My Spiky Profile

So, the other morning, as I was slugging it out with my Asthanga Yoga practice, my teacher says something to me that really piqued my interest. She told me that on the mat I am what they call in educational parlance, a ‘spiky profile’. She went on to explain that there are some poses that I do extremely well (“like, cover of Yoga Journal” well, she said), and others I can only manage in the most rudimentary and weakened form. While I wasn’t really pleased to receive this assessment, it ignited a light bulb deep within that flickered, Yes! This is me! This makes so. much. sense.

I suddenly started recalling solid examples of this behavior in the past. Of course, it’s been true in all the various incarnations of my yoga practice – sometimes more strikingly than others. But it was also true when I was a competing gymnast. In fact, there are a couple of particular moves that I can remember being so baffled by that EVERYONE else could do, but I could not. Try as I might, I couldn’t even get my brain to understand what my body was supposed to be doing at these moments. Yet, it seemed to be so natural to everyone else. And even remembering neighborhood and schoolyard play when I was a kid I see evidence of this assessment.

What I find so very frustrating and heartbreaking – aside from the fact that it’s true for me – is that not a single person was able to share this information with me when I was young enough to more easily address it. Not my gym teachers. Not my gymnastics coaches. Not my weightlifting coaches in high school nor college. And none of my yoga teachers prior to this one.  Granted, these predecessors may not have had the experience working with cognitively challenged children in the school system to know this terminology, but the terminology is irrelevant.  No one made the observation.

I find it sad and appalling that we have become so removed from the Natural state of things, so removed from our bodies and the understanding of how a truly healthy body actually looks and moves and develops. And being so blind, we are, on the whole, no longer able to do our children the very basic service of teaching them how to properly use and maintain their bodies to optimum performance and functioning.

I don’t separate myself from this cultural malady. I mean, I’ve been in this body for many long years and still don’t care for it as well as I should. But I am reminded of how important it is to keep working with teachers, mentors, therapists and other professionals who can help to give me a clearer, more complete picture of how I’m doing with this body I have been given … and with the state of health that I have cultivated thus far in my life.

A hearty thank you to the bright lights in my world who continue to notice me, observe me, teach me, heal me, and guide me. Your work is invaluable.

xoxo,
melanie

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Wheel of the Year: Lughnasadh

Lughnasadh Blessings!

This post is grossly overdue. I feel like I’m starting a lot of my posts with some derivative of that statement these days. Oh well. At least I’m posting eventually, right? Better late than never, and all that.

This is another post on our journey through the Wheel of the Year. Lughnasadh is the holiday celebrated on August 1. It is a celebration of the Sun in His final days of potency and power. An opportunity to revel in His warmth and favor before we begin to more intensely feel the descent into the darker half of the year. You might think of it as a “last call for summer fun, y’all!”

Harvest

This is traditionally the first of the harvest celebrations. Not only are the fruits and vegetables of summer’s bounty being harvested and enjoyed, but the first of the grains are also ready for harvest. This is an important time for those in agrarian societies as the grain harvests are usually what sustains those folks during the cold, dark winters. Oftentimes, the very first grains harvested will be ritualistically sacrificed (as in the legend of John Barleycorn, and the ubiquitous corn dollies making an appearance on this holiday) as a means of securing favor from the gods to provide a bountiful harvest season.

Whether or not you are living in an agrarian society – if such a thing even truly exists anymore – Lughnasadh is also a time of personal harvesting. This is a fortuitous moment in which to start the deeply contemplative practice of reviewing what results our words, thoughts and deeds have brought to bear thus far this year. It’s a wonderful opportunity to notice possible errors of course, or outright failings, and to make corrections on our paths so that we might bring about the results we are seeking while we still have some of that yang-driven Sun power to fuel our intentions.

There are many traditions and myths associated with this holiday, and you can find these listed in various and sundry articles on the subject in books and online. One of the things that I most appreciate about Lughnasadh, is that it is a celebration not only of the life and bounty that is all around us during the Summer season, but it also celebrates the death and cutting away of that which is come to the end of its life or its usefulness. It is a complete celebration of the cycle of life: life, death, and rebirth. The rebirthing aspect is seen in the spreading of the seeds from the fruits, vegetables and grains consumed and/or harvested during this time. These seeds contain the potential of new life to come.

LughnasadhI celebrated my Lughnasadh holiday simply, as usual. I set the stage for some honest reflection by lighting some candles, burning some incense and finding a comfortable seat. I kept my journal close at hand. I began to take stock of how I have been managing and cultivating the experiments/goals I set for my Self at the year’s beginning. I asked my Self where I had failings and shortcomings, and how I might make corrections to get back on track. I forgave my Self for not doing everything perfectly. Then I journaled about my intentions for the remainder of the year, including some specific actions to take (or to abstain from) to set my Self back on a higher course.

I also made myself a little besom (broom) out of some of the many fallen pine straws on my deck. I wrapped the ends in gold ribbon, in honour of Lugh, the Sun god. Then I charged that besom with my renewed intentions. I will use this broom to ritualistically sweep away any obstacles in my path over the rest of the year. It will act as a physical reminder that I am in control of my own actions, words and thoughts. And, in being mindful with my Self I am putting my Self in control of my destiny. No one can drag me down but me. And I’m working hard to stop dragging my Self down and to start lifting my Self up! [Insert favorite inspirational theme song here.]

lughnasadh sunSo, I wish you Lughnasadh blessings … a little late. Enjoy the remainder of this sweet Southern Summer. Take some time to savor the warmth of the sun on your face and shoulders, the deliciousness of immersing yourself in cool waters on a hot day, the buzz of the whole world a-flutter during these longer days while they last. Autumn will be here before you know it.

Sending you love and light and Summer Sunshine!

Melanie