09 Mar

Morning Practice

Last week, I wrote about my words for the year: practice and discipline. Today, I’d like to share some of the practices that have felt really grounding for me these past couple of months. Perhaps some of these actions will resonate for you, and if so, I’d invite you to give them a try! In a broader sense, though, I’d love for this to inspire creativity in your own life – to play around with your daily routine, and experiment with activities that support your own spiritual center. Let us know in the comments how this is working for you!

Home Altar

Most days, I start my practice at 5 AM. You don’t need to start that early. The yogic tradition that guides a lot of my spiritual practice prescribes a morning sadhana, ideally performed during the Amrit Vela, or ambrosial hours, between 4 AM and 7 AM. I’m not strict about this timing, but I do find the quiet of the early morning is more supportive for my meditation, and sets the tone for the rest of my day.

Many yogis and yoginis practice for 2.5 hours each morning – that’s not realistic for my lifestyle right now. Still, I try to incorporate breathwork, physical activity, and meditation into a set that’s doable for every day. Here’s what my routine looks like:

  1. Light a candle. This is a new habit I’ve acquired through my work at Hospice. Before working with clients in grief, I didn’t understand the meaning behind lighting candles as ritual. In this setting, I see this act as a way of honoring the space, marking out time for a specific purpose, and inviting light into the world.
  2. Tune in. As with any Kundalini yoga practice, I start with the Adi Mantra, Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo, chanted three times.
  3.  Complete a (very) short yoga set. I use breath of fire for each 1-minute exercise, with a 45-second rest in between: stretch pose, nose-to-knees (while lying on my back), ego eradicator.
  4. Recite the Seven Whispers. I’ll be honest – this is where I start to get a little shy about the hippie-woo-woo of my routine. That’s okay! Creativity, people! I picked up this little book by Christina Baldwin a few months ago, and was surprised at how much power it held for me. I decided to try it out in my daily practice, and right now, I feel like this is the most important part of my morning. The words capture what I want to focus on and reinforce in my life, and reciting them in the affirmative each morning is a continual reminder of what’s meaningful to me. I sit in a cross-legged position, close my eyes, place my hands over my heart, and speak softly: I am maintaining peace of mind. I am moving at the pace of guidance. I am practicing certainty of purpose. I am surrendering to surprise. I am asking for what I need, and offering what I can. I am loving the folks in front of me. I am returning to the world.
  5. Meditate. I tend to be the queen of monkey mind, even at 5 in the morning, so I gravitate toward meditations with mantra. Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been chanting the triple mantra recording from this album, a practice that helps me to feel like I’m aligning with the flow of the universe. At the end, I whisper a “sat nam” to close this part of the practice.
  6. Consult the oracle. Had you told me at the start of the year that I would be using oracle cards on a daily basis, I think I would have laughed in your face. But! I’m working through an amazing course on self-care for healing professionals right now, and it is opening me up to new ideas. So… I’m having fun with this one. If there’s time, I shuffle the deck, ask my inner wisdom to guide me to what I need for the day, and pick a card. I’m finding this to be a fun way to connect with aspects of my consciousness that aren’t always right there at the surface.

After that, I’m up, dressed, and out the door to get some fresh air with my dog. In total, the routine above probably takes me about 20 minutes – totally doable on a daily basis. And that’s key! Start small and manageable, and see what works for your day. I’d love to hear what’s working for you.

29 Jan

The Power of Yet

Some of you may have noticed the changes around here over the past few weeks. They’re slow, in part, because I have so many balls in the air – I happen to be in the midst of one of my own life transitions. I’m trying to move at the pace of guidance, but I get frustrated with myself when I feel like things aren’t going fast enough.

I’m trying to remember the power of yet.

Growth by KimManleyOrt (via Flickr)

Growth by KimManleyOrt (via Flickr)

Last month, I was able to spend a lovely week in my Midwestern home town, connecting with loved ones and settling into a slower pace, if only for a few days. While there, I caught up with my oldest and dearest friend, and our conversation went into details that we don’t often get to on the phone. Rhonda’s been an elementary school teacher for the past 15 years, and she had recently attended an in-service training on Teaching with a Growth Mindset. In fact, she said, it was one of the best trainings she’d ever been to. I was intrigued, so I asked her to tell me more. This idea that moving from a fixed mindset – one where students assume their knowledge and abilities are fixed at a certain level – versus one of growth – where talents result from effort, good teaching, and persistence – felt really powerful.

You can read more about the topic here, but one thing that really struck me was the way Rhonda said this mindset was impacting her students’ language. Rather than saying, “I don’t know,” they were now saying, “I don’t know yet“.

I don’t know the answer to that question… yet.

I don’t know how to do that… yet.

As I sit here, creating my business plan for the next phase in my career, writing and rewriting my About page, wondering whether I really need an Instagram account – and, oh yeah, sitting with clients as a therapist trainee – it’s easy for me to get stuck in self doubt and worry that I’m never going to get there (wherever “there” is). And I realize I’m working from a fixed mindset. I don’t know how to do this right now becomes simply I don’t know how to do this (and sometimes, I can’t do this). I think of those nine-year-olds changing their language.

One little word has the power to change things. Remember the power of yet has become a simple mantra that helps me shift my own mindset from a place of stuckness to one where I can see the broader view, where I can recognize this discomfort as part of the experience of getting from here to there, instead of as proof that I’m not enough.

I’m not done with this yet. There’s still a lot of work to do. And that’s okay! The work is what keeps me moving forward.

Or, said a different way: