Pressing the Annual Pause Button 

Unknown-1 “When we cultivate the discipline to pause, it becomes possible for us to make a choice that is outside our normal habit pattern. And it is in breaking through these entrained patterns that we can begin to experience a more liberated way of being. Gradually we become the freedom that we previously longed for.” Donna Farhi

This week while flipping through one of my favourite yoga books, “Bringing Yoga To Life” by Donna Farhi, I came across this underlined passage and it reminded me of exactly why I do all of the yoga practices I do, but particularly reinforced why I detox.

I see detoxing as pressing the annual pause button. A time to stop the “entrained patterns” as Fahri puts it, look at what they are exactly, and then consciously decide how, what or if any of them need changing so that I may live in a more liberated and happy way.

Fahri says what happens in the pause between longing for a feeling of freedom and how we respond to that longing is worth consideration because it is in the pause that we make a choice.

One of the most simple yet profound skills I’ve learned through practicing yoga is to take a deep breath before acting. We learn to do this in the yoga class room by slowing down, listening to the breath and then making conscious movements…and not only does it generate a beautiful grace, control and strength, but also a peace of mind and steady nervous system that is palpable.

The longer I practice yoga the better I get at taking a deep breath, a pause, in hard or intense moments of life, and then moving through them in a more graceful and conscious way.

But that pause, that moment of non action and just looking at what is, can be really uncomfortable.  In nanoseconds we may experience and feel anxiety, depression, unbound enthusiasm, fear, love, longing, aversion…so many powerful emotions. What ever they are it is their potency that often makes us feel uncomfortable and want to rush into a decision that gets us out of experiencing those strong feelings.

So often we’re launched into reactiveness just to escape the intensity of our feelings. On a day to day basis it may happen when we come home from work at night and feel lonely or overwhelmed and without thinking pour a drink, flip on the T.V., over eat or snap at our partner.

All of these little moments of unconscious reactions end up creating habits that we can become trapped by. Rather than listening the the message of the emotions which guide us to our deepest desires and life purpose we become trapped in patterns of avoiding them.

What would happen if we instead stopped, paused, and asked what would true satisfy us? Well, we might just discover the answer!

In previous detoxes when I’ve slowed down my life, created more me time for just a few weeks, stopped the habits like overstimulation, overeating and overexerting that lead me away from feeling all my deeper feeling — when I just paused normal life and looked within — I found answers and pathways to my hearts desire, to my inner power, my life-force.

Fahri says, “When we contain rather than constantly discharge [avoid] our feeling state, we allow ourselves to feel completely. In feeling completely we re-experience our aliveness and the source of that aliveness.”

This is why I detox. Yes, it is to cleanse my body and clear my mind, but these I do in order to re-experience my aliveness and the source of that aliveness within me.

Each time I detox I feel more and I also see the contrast of what is causing me to feel dull, low energy or foggy in my mind and intentions.

The seeing is uncomfortable at first, but the truth is, the long term experience of living without that life-force energy connection is more uncomfortable.

Fahri also talks about how this practice of pausing reminds us that we are not all the things we experience. When we pause we connect to our observer mind and remember our true identity is the part within us that does not change, the soul or purusa as it’s called in Sanskrit.

The perspective shifts to, “I feel anxious right now, but I am not this anxiety. I have the habit of emotional eating right now, but I am not that habit.”

There is so much freedom generated when we remember this! I always fell like a weight is lifted off my shoulders when I re-identify with my pure essence rather than the momentary life experience. And again, this is a huge part of detoxing. Clearing out the self identity that doesn’t serve us, and reconnecting to our identity as pure, powerful, conscious beings.

My New Years Yoga Detox starts tomorrow and I’m so looking forward to this journey, this reconnection to the source of my aliveness, and to sharing the journey with others. It makes such a  difference to support and be supported by others begin brave enough to pause and look a little deeper.

If you can join we’d love to have you, and if not I’ll be keeping you posted in my blogs about the experience.

Curiosity, an Act of Self Love?

 

“Curiosity is an act of self love.” Whoa! 10625000_10205131255750845_3181629407312370686_n

I was listening to an interview by Geneen Roth, author of “Women, Food and God” and this statement just rolled off her tongue like it was the most apparent thing ever. 

But for me, in that moment, those words hit me light a lightening bolt. I felt like a cartoon character with bulging eyes and almost jumped up and said, “Eureka!” 

Along my journey of figuring out how to live a content, joyous and healthy life, I’ve again and again come back to two big things. 

No matter if the topic is food and diet, relationships and communication, fitness and yoga practice or business and purpose in life — there seems to be a re-occurring theme. It’s almost like the universe is singing her answers to me in a little mantra. 

I ask, “What should I do with my life?”

She answers, “Self reflect, self love.” 

I cry, “My relationship is falling apart, what should I do?”

She answers, “Self reflect, self love.” 

I tell her, “I totally F*#^ed this one up! I’m lost, desperate, shamed.”

She answers, “Self reflect, self love.” 

I say to her, “My body is sick and I don’t understand why.” 

She answers, “Self reflect, self love.” 

OK, ok, I get it. Self reflect, self love.  

Self reflect. 

And so I do my practice. Sometimes is hard. It’s hard to self reflect, to look inward and see what’s there, when what’s there feels dark and uncomfortable. My throat tightens and the fear of facing a thousand writhing monsters that live in the dark places grips me. 

But I do my practice. I breath. I move. I close my eyes, and simply FEEL it all. It’s harder and takes more courage than any epic warrior sequence or crazy upside down balancing posture. This is the yoga that requires my true warrior energy. 

The Yoga Sutras calls this Svadyaya, self study, and lists it as one of five (meaning it’s pretty important) of the personal practices we need to cultivate for health and enlightenment.  

It’s harder still to stick to it. 

To keep looking, keep being curious and keep breathing when the practice of self reflection starts to get uncomfortable. 

A part of me desperately wants to wait and see what’s there and what will happen if I just relax into the sensations and feelings of observing.  

But, another part of me screams, “Save yourself, run away!” convinced that looking at the dark side will break me. Or worse, become me. 

And there in lies the basis of all of my fears — the belief that I am or can become defined by the uncomfortable mistake, terrible experience, sickness, broken heart, confusion, ect. 

The ironic thing is that when we fear looking at the hard stuff because we don’t want it to consume us, the running away from it ends up controlling us. 

We become like bouncy balls ping ponging around a room. Each time we hit a wall we don’t want to look at we go flying in the opposite direction ad infinitum. Our path becomes determined and controlled by our desire to run away.

I’m fiercely independent, and seeing how running away controls me, motivates me to stop and face those walls. 

So I’ll self reflect, but I’m not going to like what I see or love myself for it. 

I tell myself, “Ok Morgan, I’ll look at that ugly wall. Maybe I just need to admit that this is part of me and I’m ugly, just give in to it.” 

At this point a fascinating thing always happens. I look. I see the ugliness — the pain, the shame, the fear, the anger. I stop the ball bouncing and flying, in other words, I stop my mind spinning me out into stories around this thing. I just see it. 

So many sensations come up in my body, in my throat and heart and belly, and in a way it does break me — breaks me out of the cage of stories I had trapped myself in. 

The minute I really stop and simply observe, the self criticism, worry, judgements and projecting also stop — in it’s places comes a sigh (or sob) of self acceptance. And it is the biggest and most wonderful relief ever! 

Self love. 

This is what Roth meant when she said curiosity is an act of self love. When we truly approach ourselves and our lives with curiosity we step into the observer mind, like a child, not judging and criticising, just wondering and watching. 

All of the wisdom traditions of the world teach us the importance of observing objectively and gazing inward, either through meditation, prayer, chanting, ritual or service. And all of them teach this as a path to liberation, or God, which to me are one in the same. 

Every time I stop the stories I’m reminded of who I was before the story. The innocent child born into this world full of light, peace and purity. And every time I remember that self it feels like coming home. It feels like safety and happiness. And I cry out of relief and joy, just like I always have the feeling of crying when I see my mom after being gone for too long. 

I’m reminded that this is not a game of changing who I am, but of coming back to who I’ve always been, and that it never was and never will be those monsters I make up in my head. And then I feel strong.