Little Red Zen

This morning, over coffee, David inquired to my morning practice of sorting envelopes with handwritten notes to myself in them; each envelope adorned with notes and reminders and ideas in various colored ink over the past couple of years.

I gave my best explanation of something that changes daily and realized the simplest answer is: it helps me orient myself at the start of my day and before my dreams. Fact: I felt I had so much to consider and work on with these 6 humans I love, that I intentionally started using sleep as productive time, trusting my subconscious and unconscious self could take care of mental repairs while I rested.

Yes… mental repairs.

Little context: My mental health game needed a reboot over the past couple of months. Fielding situations, talking talking talking and digging into relationships was unsustainable. I needed a bigger solution / longer term strategy so I resurrected a practice I dabbled in a couple of years back which is all based on understanding the archetypal patterns in your psyche.

I became interested in this after studying and practicing yoga nidra, yogic sleep.

For reference, yoga nidra is a relaxation method where one sleeps without falling asleep.

(Here’s my favorite, it will probably change your life. It is on spotify and apple music, btw.

PS: don’t listen to it while driving…)

Yoga Nidra uses revolving consciousness to numb the mind chatter and allow you to go inward… to hover on your motherboard among your belief systems and deeply embedded wiring. In several practices, I have had astounding experiences. Experiences that make me confident in recommending yoga nidra not only to relax the body and mind, but as a tool for rewiring patterns that don’t serve your life any longer.

I describe it to my yoga students as how sometimes you can stop a baby from crying simply by being in the nursery; likewise you can heal simply by being present with these patterns.

These patterns and belief systems, for me, lined up to a separate study a friend from teacher training introduced to me to via, Caroline Myss.

My dear friend gifted to me Sacred Contracts and Anatomy of the Spirit, Myss’ books that started to make things make a lot of sense to me.

Intuition as a trustworthy tool.

Archetypes as blueprints.

Caroline Myss uses the 12 house system as a way to examine one’s life, purpose and shadow work… this lined up with what I have always found fascinating in the zodiac, the divine’s great salt and pepper shakers in the sky – seasoning us all individually with planetary placements and characteristics.

Why not.

I found Chani Nicholas at some point in the last 7ish years and have been following her workshops and podcasts and teachings ever since. Practical. Abstract.

Miraculous. Realistic.

Mix these women with Jesus, the Buddha, Marcus Aurelius and the Dalai Lama and I have my mental mai tai.

Back to my necessary mental repairs: a few months ago, I started to feel really weak in my mind.

I felt overpowered, overrun and overburdened.

For somebody who published her first book, who was empowered enough to leave a corporate lifestyle that was only spending her at both ends, for somebody who got to pick “pie crusts or drawing hippos” when prioritizing their day – it really was not making sense that I felt so drained.

Life was so good and yet so hard. The future so bright but I was feeling really sad.

Collectively, I am sure we all have felt this due to the pandemic. Yet, I have always been enthusiastic, willing and happy. Funny and playful and bright. The sulk and uncertainty was serving nothing – was a total buzzkill – and taking away from really otherwise peaceful moments.

You may be in this place.

This place where where you are and what your life is, your age and your family, your children and their problems, your children and their children, your finances and your dreams, your life purpose and your day job, your puzzles and your pride – these things are conflicting, trapping you and somehow then also making it hard to know what to eat for dinner. Making it difficult to sleep. Making it impossible to do what you love.

So… here’s what I know. And I really do think I know this as somebody who has reclaimed her power in the 8th house :) of mental health.

If you are awake today? Like if you opened your eyes and have consciousness today?

There is purpose on your life.

There is reason to your name.

It may be smile at the grocery store clerk small (through your mask, a special new challenge to rise kindness) but it also may be big.

Big for me these past two weeks was turning that pouty perfect Little Red Hen into a reasonable, hardworking Little Red Zen.

I am going to keep on saying this: We are guaranteed nothing. We are not guaranteed tomorrow or our loved one’s tomorrow.

Time is actually factually too short to give power to hopelessness.

I believe, time begs us to turn hope into a noun.

I believe hope gets irritated being a verb or a feeling.

See, Hope is an anchor. (Hebrew 6:19) Hope is the thing we trust when we are rocked by the waves.

Hope is the thing that lets us wake up and take on our purpose – whatever size – and allow time its relativity. Its stillness *and* its grand schemes.

Today is a good day to assess hope in your 8th house of mental health.

Have hope that whatever you choose as a ritual in the morning to orient your day or as your reflection in preparation for sleep will work.

Will orient you. Will help you claim your purpose.

Again, I say, “why not”.

BTW. Here’s my hippo. Isn’t she cute? She is in Words that Rhyme and Lullabies. :) But you can also buy her sticker here.

one certain thing @ my yoga mat in webster

If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that one of these five kids is going to be talking to their therapist at some point in their twenties and will experience a major break through when their therapist smiles and says, “Honey! YOU *can* get a medium concrete!” all thanks to my sincere commitment to the belief that a small really is enough.

And I do think that. David has ordered mediums for me a couple of times and I never finish them. I have been generous and gone against this belief before to find my daughters’ forgotten half eaten medium concretes and slushies in the freezer “for later”.

Part of the reason they will be in therapy about this is because it is the true battle of what you believe (small is enough) and what you want (a medium).

I believe they will also believe that smalls are enough (on some level) because my belief, in its affliction upon them, has proven itself to be true.

Life updates seem a little mundane these days. I struggle writing about the day to day because I am not really sure how it will translate. I am learning a lot about grace and forgiveness and am back studying some yoga phenomenons that I have been witnessing in my regular-ish restorative practice.

It has been well over a year since I have taught a slow flow as restorative, meditation, yin and gentle yoga have been more of my immediate audiences’ appetite. With that, I woke up on Thursday unable to move my head in a complete circle and have been experiencing major pain for a couple of days.

Part of this is because I have miles on the car and my body is my body and it is crooked in places it used to be straight. But I also am victim (like many) to weakened muscles in the neck and shoulders due to screen time and those weakened muscles, when shocked – jerked – or strained unhinged tend to kink up.

I am also extremely tight in my shoulders and back. I would say this probably is related to two years of lots of cross country travel, airplane rides and road trips as well as day to day life stressors relative to change, automatic bill pay and working for the man.

Yoga Nidra teaches there are the “threefold tensions”: muscular tension, emotional tension and mental tension. As forementioned, I have (although less now than 5 days ago) all three in my body. Likely, so do you.

Normal relaxation is understood to be closing the eyes, resting back and taking a break from the things you are plugged into. However, yoga nidra (yoga sleep) goes a little beyond this. Google it. It’s a life changing experience using revolving awareness of 61 points of the body to basically rock your consciousness to sleep while your awareness transitions to your subconsciousness and (if you’re lucky) your unconsciousness. AKA your motherboard where all your wiring and habits and beliefs (like how a small concrete is enough) live.

The first successful (although any yogic sleep is successful in that you will at least play with the consciousness) experience I had, I woke up to the image *and sensation* of a skeleton becoming dislodged from the center of my chest and relieving my body of its stagnant bony complex.

Incredible. I was hooked.

I started up nidra again last night, with my neck in shooting throbbing pain supported by a sandbag. Yes. A sandbag. Although I am pretty sure my attention got off at the exit before entering my subconsciousness, my body relaxed and I fell asleep. I woke up with full movement and a little cold nerve hangover.

I am committed to resurrecting a slow flow practice at home, even if I am not teaching. Today I got into an inversion – though shaky – and I played a lot with shifting my weight into my arms. I also heard that pulling your head back so you have triple chins for 20 seconds ever hour or so during the day is super good for you. I am hoping my slow flow practice builds up some strength and evens me out a bit. I am hoping my nidra continues to release the tension in threefold manner.

I am studying nidra again to go a little deeper into sankalpas. Rumor has it that use of sankalpas in your yoga nidra practice can actually re-wire some of that motherboard program… call it karma… archetypes… religious beliefs that won’t go away…

And I need that right now. I am getting quiet in my days and – though nothing is wrong – my heart is aching a little bit. I am thinking the shedding of the muscular tension is letting me get into some emotional tension that can be released. I want this to transform my generosity and my service towards others. AH! OMG – honestly? I’m flow of consciousness here… that may just be my sankalpa. (They say it is usually a courser, broader, directional thing than a “quit smoking” thing.)

Ok. WISH ME LUCK. Anybody out there tried yoga nidra with sankalpas??