“Quiet the mind, and the soul will speak.” ~~ Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati
Let me just start this post by saying that this past month has been amazing, stressful, sad, crazy…and a whole bunch more. All I can say to it all is, “Wow!” In last month’s post, I talked about how Autumn is a time of transition, a time of change that can seem chaotic if you’re not careful. In that post, I mentioned the things I was going to incorporate into my life in order to help the transition go a little more smoothly. I am so glad I did, as I was not quite prepared for all the things that hit me during the month. Some were amazing, some have been not so amazing, but that’s life, right? Like Forrest Gump said, “Life is like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re going to get.”
At one of the studios I teach at, the focus for October has been on pratyahara. Pratyahara usually happens during meditation, asana or breathwork, when you become so immersed in the present moment that you become unaware of outside situations. Your awareness and focus goes inward and you are unaffected by anything happening externally. Pratyahara teaches us to be able to stay still and calm, despite everything that is happening in the external world around us. And it helps us to make conscious choices, rather than being too attached to the world around us.
Putting my focus so strongly this month on staying grounded and balanced really helped me with developing pratyahara. Here’s where I’ve noticed pratyahara in my life this month:
- In my full-time job, I was approached about applying for a new position that is considered to be a promotion. It is an opportunity for me to take my career there to the next level, but I was apprehensive. After all, it is moving towards a role that is more of a management position, and that usually means more stress. But I prayed about it and meditated on it, and I really felt like it was the right move. So I applied, was offered the job, and accepted. I am very excited for this opportunity, but I am CHOOSING not to focus on the stress that others in this role tell me about. Rather, I am focusing on how I can use this role to make more of an impact in the world of healthcare that I work in. I am CHOOSING to let go of the negatives and instead, I am focusing on all the positives I know there will be.
- My Lyme Disease treatment knocked me for a few loops this month. Side effects from treatment included severe vertigo, headaches, horrible brain fog and stomach issues. I had to take a couple of days off work, and two weeks off from teaching yoga. I was THAT out of sorts. I was depressed and feeling all sorry for myself. And because of the brain fog, I was scared about accepting the new job at work. I mean, how could I be in a higher level position if I can barely remember my own name??? But I accepted it for what it was. The side effects are what is called a Herxheimer Reaction, and that is a GOOD thing. It means the treatment is working. And then I noticed all the other symptoms that had improved, like my joint and muscle pain, and the extreme fatigue. So I let go of worrying about it, and focused on the positives. My doctor switched a couple of my meds, and gave me something to address the brain inflammation, and I noticed a HUGE improvement. My vertigo is much more manageable now, and I can think clearly again a lot more.
- I asked to be taken off weekend rotations for teaching yoga. My doctor emphasized that I really need to take 1-2 days off per week so that I can focus on resting and getting better. Well, I work full-time Monday through Friday, and I can’t give that job up. I’ve got a daughter in college, and another to put through college, so we kind of need that salary for a bit longer, you know? That meant really looking within and making the tough decision to let go of my weekend teaching. I am already committed through November, but after that, I am done. I am sad, and have cried about it, but it’s what I’ve got to do. After all, what good am I to anyone if I’m not willing to do everything needed to be my absolute best?
- I completed a 6-week elimination diet that my doctor put me on, and I also participated in a 10-day Yoga Autumn Ayurvedic Cleanse. After completing these, I eagerly added tortilla chips back into my diet to see what kind of effect it would have. Those of you know me…well, you know that if I were to be committed to rehab for an addiction, it would be for addiction to tortilla chips. Sadly, I experienced very unpleasant stomach issues after reintroducing them (NOOOOO….say it ain’t so!!!) So I had to let them go. No longer will they be a regular snack in my life. As I came to this realization, I kept finding myself singing “Let it Go” from Frozen over and over…I may just have to do that song next time I go to karaoke….I will be able to sing with a lot of passion as I think fondly of my beloved tortilla chips and what we once shared. :)
- Finally — and this is the toughest one of all — I am coming to terms with the fact that my precious Beta (my hound mix who is almost 15 years old) may not have much longer with us. This breaks my heart. My husband, Travis, and I got Beta from the shelter a week before we moved into our first house together. She’s the original Deal Dog! She has the most expressive face, she talks to us ALL the time, and when we walk her, she puts the leash in her mouth for the first few minutes, just to let us know she is in charge. But these past few months, she has been going downhill fast. She rarely ever comes out from under the guest room bed, her legs are weak and shaking, her whole body trembles so bad that her teeth chatter, she’s pooping under the bed almost every night, and she isn’t eating a lot. We’ve been giving her pain meds and anxiety meds, but it’s not really helping much anymore. She can’t even make it down the stairs now without a lot of effort. My heart is breaking, because I don’t know what to do. My husband thinks it’s time to let her go, because she is obviously in a lot of pain.
So during these past few weeks, I’ve really been trying hard to work on letting go of my attachments. My attachments to fear (of not being able to do the new job I’ve been hired to do). My attachments to my students, so that I can focus on getting better. My attachment to salty, crunchy tortilla chips. Most of all, my attachment to Beta…I can’t continue to let her be in pain just because I can’t bear to have a day without her in it. I’m still working on this last one. I’m not quite there yet, and I am desperately praying for the strength to know what the right decision is, but I am just not quite there. I pray for the strength to know, to not be selfish, and to do what is best for Beta.
In my yoga practice, one way I will be working on continuing to turn inward and stay grounded during these changes I am going through is to incorporate more forward folds, particularly Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold). This pose is known for its ability to calm the mind and improve concentration, as well as being very grounding. Perfect for helping one to look within!
(Photo Courtesy of Advaita Yoga Ashrama)
As we move through November, I am looking forward to continuing my journey of looking within. No more avoiding the tough things…they are part of life, and I need to be OK with the bad things that life sometimes tosses at me. It’s all good, as long as we can learn from it and apply it in a way that makes us better and able to move on to the next phase life has to offer.