Theme for January: What Stays the Same in a Season of Change

On Sunday, January 5th, 2020, I began teaching a 7a yin class at the studio in Maplewood where I had a regular restorative offering.

I got there early, around 6, with a leather bound journal and cleared the room. I set the lighting dim, put the battery operated candles all around and covered the supply shelf with a blanket, added height and dimension. Once the room was set, I put books of ancient text, my mug of hot water and – of course – the leather bound journal & pencil – out on the floor and I sat in the space I created and prayed.

“Backwards, moving, warming. The words are underneath my brain all the while things kept moving…”

Those are the first words I scribbled in the journal, waiting for the flow to begin… to be told what to teach. I approached that Sunday morning yin class as a door for me and others – a sacred opening for us to maybe even come fully alive in a pose or in a breath – and feel that awesome feeling we get sometimes when we are truly fully present: that suspension and peace.

Each Sunday, I held myself to the same practice: preparing the space, sitting and waiting, sketching the thoughts and the poses. Until March 22nd, 2020 – the last class in person before we went into lock down. I remember the 9a teacher arriving early for her last class and our students mixing in the lobby… a few tears… what is going on? Are things really like closing?

2020 was the first year I started with a practice and kept it up until disrupted by the world. I remember considering continuing with a weekly morning email for folks to practice at home. Doing the same thing in my own home and sharing. But it did not feel right. So I did not.

Now we are on the 2nd of January – the first Sunday in January – and having a Sunday morning practice of sitting with an open heart and listening feels right. This year, it is not a yin class I prepare for, but the continual growth of Appletreemagic.com and the four books I plan on putting into the world this year.

I am prepared to let go of any of those four books should the world force my hand while also I am confident enough in what they are and how I know them to say they are what I am doing. This is the balance of effort and ease. Trusting yourself to hold on to something with diligence while being open to the way they will be shaped, the way your hand may be forced to let go, the way creativity may ebb….

And so here lies the January theme:

What do you know well enough to allow to be constant?

What do you know well enough to allow to change?

We get our kids back over the course of this afternoon and the next couple of days from their other parents’ house where they have been for a week. David and I have had a week of hiking, eating well and rest. We feel good. I can tell we feel good. But, when you look around the house we live in – you would see our current crux: our “endless loop” of shifting a room’s purpose and furniture and stuff to work for our family.

Even with all the ideas floating around as to how to set up the family room, dining area and sitting area, I still hung four pictures in the corner of one of the rooms. Because it is where my desk is… This corner is my constant in my house of change. It’s an anchor that will baseline the evolution of how the rest of the house falls into place as well as how the year goes.

In closing, at 40 years old, I have gone through enough iterations of myself with full head on awareness of what I wanted to spin out of or step into that I know one of the tricks is to allow some thing to be constant. Overhaul as much as you want, but keep the thing that works the same. At least try to until the world forces your hand. Because even in that case, the sacred place and priority you gave it will make it fun to see how it comes fully circle.

I believe what you allow to be constant and what you allow to change is a reflection of how you keep your heart and – thus – what your life presents to you as the things you must work through. Think about it.

This One Night in California.

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Last week, I left my little annex apartment in a South Californian valley town at dusk with a blanket and a hoodie, a flashlight and my iPhone. I hiked to a clearing in front of the garden and spread out to watch the end of the sunset.

I had gone inside to prepare some dinner right when it started, but the amber behind the dark scale of the hillside would not leave my mind and I had to go see it some more.

The moon!

Of course I was nudged and so convinced to go back out! Somewhere in me knew I didn’t want me to miss the moon.

(I feel I could paint this sunset into a picture because of how it felt.

I have never been a painter… this is new.)

Then, I noticed a star. And then another star. And then another star.

Star. Star.

Star. Star. Star.

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And I didn’t leave. Hungry as I was, I laid there watching every star come out as the sun made it’s final tuck low past the horizon, dunked behind the ocean that was on the other side of my sight.

Never in my life have I watched all the stars come out. Every time I thought of my dinner, I still stayed. So patiently.

I was mesmerized – absolutely mesmerized and entertained.

And still. I was STILL.

Some constellations I knew, but I had this deep sense of desire that my mind would just open and I could understand the stars, see all the patterns, know the stories. A language I knew in my bones but wanted words. I felt this sensation rise to the top of my brain. But I didn’t pull out a constellation map, I didn’t Google anything. I just looked and was open, calm.

Needless to say, I slept well that night.

The process of staying still when your mind thinks of the next things to do is a very important part of yoga; a very important part of life. Guiding the self in a manner which is still – not busy – I have found offers deeper release of tension in the physical body.

Now that I am back home, I am committed to maintaining this posture of freedom and calm.  By finding something to engage me that requires me to do nothing but sit and look. I think it is easy to want to develop thought in these moments. To think you can understand something about yourself in these moments. Or receive revelation. Truly, I think it is likely that you can make connections and evolve through a practice like this.

However, emptying the mind and clearing the thought – these are the things of value in stillness. This is an established theme in my life and that I am taking to all my practice – as a student and as a teacher.

Have a great holiday weekend :) Find something to stare at and settle into … erin