Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.


The Monday After

Not too much today. I was tired, poorly rested, and in a funk all day. Come down from finishing teacher training on Saturday on top of everything else going on. Spent most of my day feeling unworthy of living up to the positive things people said about me on Saturday. Heavy with the responsibility of that praise.

Yes, today my inner critic showed up right on cue so I would spend most of the day distracted with negative feelings. Generally a lousy and unproductive day. Feeling unproductive, when I'm not intending to be, it really irritating to me. I feel very impatient with myself when I have trouble focusing when I feel I should be.

CK and I made tacos, even picked up and enjoyed an avocado with it. Such luxury! We watched Wilde, which was as well written and acted as I'd heard. It has been a nice quiet evening together. I really was happy for it since she'll be at the Inner Critic workshop this weekend.

Today should be the official end of the 30 Poems in 30 Days challenge in my Sangha. I find that I have 28 poems at the end, which is pretty good. Given the day I've had I'm trying not to focus on not having 30 and to allow for a simple haiku to end on.

Moving Forward

An ending becomes
Just another step forward.
My way along the path.


CK and I slept in and it was lovely, confirming for me that getting to sleep in is a true pleasure. Lie last Sunday we decided to indulge in brunch at Sweetpea Baking Company. This decision led to the delightful serendipity of joining several friends who were there as well.

It was wonderful to watch CK present her work on the new design of the ZCO website at the annual meeting this afternoon. I was so proud of her and so happy to see her get to take in all the applause and positive feedback from our Sangha. I know she believes me when I tell her she's doing great, but I also know that it is very powerful for a room full of people to express appreciation for her is incredibly beneficial. I felt very proud of her, happy for her accomplishment, energy, and integrity.

I shared with HB what JW had written about me, the words of commendation she spoke about me at our teacher training graduation. He commented on the responsibly it suggested. Not that he questioned my ability to meet it, just acknowledging it. He also picked up on her noting that I need to recognize the sacredness within myself, that it is as great as the sacredness of the sutras I feel so immersed in.

Talking about it, starting to put words to it and then sit silent in zazen for a few minutes left me feeling closer to the tears I was surprised didn't arise last night. I think the energy to finish is still ebbing and I may hit a point where the emotion settles down.

Later on CK & I shared a marvelous, delicious evening with friends up here from San Francisco. It was wonderful spending the time with them, chatting about life. I enjoyed that we did not so much "catch up" as just progress from the present and talk about what came to mind. We did get to get more detail, which I really enjoyed, about their trip to India last year, but mostly we just shared in one anothers company. It felt like a wonderful way to end the weekend.


I am still learning how
To have the compliment
And my view of self align.
The words of praise still
Feel heavy with responsibility
And I continue to question
My ability to carry them.
Yet to deflect them,
Minimize the words to
Fit into my comfortable view
Is to also make small the
Heartfelt words given to me.
It doesn't yet feel like
Those words are really mine,
Even though they were
Certainly given to me.
I am merely trying to
Allow myself to exist
In the same space as
These words of praise,
To try not to move
Away from honor,
To recognize my
Own accomplishment.


Fourth Noble Truth

Tonight during the graduation ceremony for completing my 200+ hour yoga teacher training my teacher said that I was the Fourth Noble Truth. The way I teach yoga is one of the paths away from suffering.

I'm still just trying to be with this compliment. Trying to not listen to the voice of the inner critic and move away from these words. I'm pretty stunned, really and am just trying to stay with it being a compliment.

E said some pretty amazing things too and made a yoga octopus pendant for me. I so love the design she came up with and the meaning behind it. It has already crossed my mind that the design would be incredible on a t-shirt or as a tattoo. I've also wondered if CK could use it on the website we're going to come up with for my yoga teaching practice.

And then CK said wonderful things about me after being put on the spot because I forgot to warn her that JW would ask her to speak. I felt so happy to have her there with me. I mostly just focused on the flower in front of me and tried not to cry. She also brought these lovely, orange flowers for me and made awesome vegan mac & cheese.

I am actually rather amazed I wasn't crying all evening!

...thinking about all this stuff to keep from thinking about something else... keep from thinking about how I embody the Fourth Noble Truth when I teach... It feels big, too big to get my mind around, so I'm going to stop trying and rest.

Fourth Noble Truth

There is a way.

That is the simple
Beauty of the
Fourth Noble Truth.

All one needs is
Just the knowledge
That a path exists.


Another Check on the List

Tonight I finished my 46th asana class in the past 7 months. That doesn't count the 2 classes per week I taught during the majority of those months. My body aches, I'm tired, and I'm not sure my hoping that after 4 consecutive days my body would get used to the effort actually is true. Tonight my body feels as though it is clamouring for rest. I am so looking forward to having no class to teach or attend on Sunday and I really think I'd like to go swimming on Monday.

AM has keys to his studio and can even start moving some things over. He's trying to sell the camper he bought last year as well as some of the furniture we agreed was his to either take or put onto Craigslist. I'm relieved since it means in a few weeks I can feel like I'm not in this constant back and forth. Either missing my cats or CK and not feeling entirely settled either place. I am looking forward to sharing one space for both of us that doesn't feel cluttered.

Tomorrow night is our graduation party. I'm toying with wearing an outfit from India I bought a year and a half ago, have never worn. It is snug, especially on my arms and bright, I feel a bit conspicious in it. The feeling of tightness on my arms which makes me think about all the ugly, loose skin there after losing weight. I'm trying to remember how it brought a smile to CK's face when I tried it on to show her. I don't know, maybe I'll just wear my yoga clothes.

Sometimes I'm OK with my body and some days not so much. Tonight is really a "not so much" night. Perhaps it is feeling so tired and fatigued, that's contributing to feeling so-so about my body. I should be appreciating it, I was up in shoulder stand, in splits again tonight and it felt really good. This body I get so frustrated with did that pose.

I submitted a proposal to teach "yoga for geeks" workshop at Open Source Bridge. For some reason I feel very uncertain about the whole thing. CK reminded me that everyone I've mentioned it to in the local Open Source community has been very supportive and encouraging of the idea. She also pointed out how she doesn't have the same wrist and shoulder problems she did when I met her, all because she's doing yoga now. Besides being beneficial, healthy I think yoga practice really fits in the Open Source community. It is something people are encouraged to do themselves, to work directly with the shared knowledge of it, and even adapt it to fit each individual's needs.

As I drove to the flat from Prananda I was delighted to see lingering streaks of pink low, peeking through the clouds. The faintest hint of blue towards the top of the sky. It is so nice to not be in the dark, to feel like spring and warmth are not far.

Spring Evening

I know gratitude
For evenings streaked with last rays;
Sunlight lingering.


Hearing Through my Mother’s Ears

Joy had us working on the things we felt most uncomfortable, uncertain about teaching. She had all the trainees doing various Sun Salutations and abdominal series over and over. I may ache in the morning.

I hadn't volunteered for anything since I feel pretty steady with teaching all of those things. I've been teaching them for months, if not a few years now. When she put me on the spot about which one I wanted to practice I said really the thing that makes me most nervous is chanting and "Om" at the beginning of class, something I was doing today.

I practiced it with my training class and Joy was commenting about how to go beyond that nervousness. She was noting that she didn't want to "play therapist" but was alluding to the ways in which we're told we're too loud, etc.

I said that it wasn't all that hidden. That during childhood I was repeatedly told I was too loud, talked too much, and no one was interested. When it came to music I was told I "couldn't carry a tune in a bucket" and, except for one embarrassing talent show (all my peers thought my performance was completely, laughably lame) was actively discouraged from any interest in music. It wasn't until I was in college, over 2000 miles from home, that I took some vocal lessons.

I never got comfortable with it. Never have felt like I could just sing and get over it. Chanting service after zazen at the Dharma center has been excruciating but I've gotten a little more comfortable with it. Chanting at the beginning of a yoga class feels closer to singing and everyone looks directly at you, unlike chanting service where no one really looks at me.

What I noticed was how I'd curled up into a protective ball talking to my teacher training class about it. I'd gone from sitting cross-legged, body open, to a tight posture with knees drawn up and into the chest and my arms wrapped around the shins. Several of my co-trainees and Joy noticed the incredibly protective, defensive body posture I'd moved into.

But I chanted Om at the beginning of class with 8 co-trainees, 1 teacher and 18 students looking at me. It was OK. Not comfortable, but OK. I felt better once I moved into teaching pranayama and a meditation on the breath.

And on that theme, today's poem:

My Mother's Ears

My voice sounds
Too loud.

The ears that hear
my voice belong
To my Mother.
Her ears that
Decide the voice
Is too much,
Too often,
Too loud, and

Not sure when
I began to listen
To my voice through
My Mother's ears.
When I talk about
Singing I hear
Pure tension and
My body curls into
The smallest
Possible ball.


Something Nice for Myself

This morning we woke up early and headed downtown to CK's office building across the street from Backspace. A studio moving sale a floor above her office listed having a microwave for sale which we picked up. No more cold leftover lunches!

Microwave-mission accomplished we headed over to Blossoming Lotus for some brunch. I finally tried out the live wrap and CK ordered then Indian bowl. The wrap -- carrots, sprouts, & cashew creme rolled into kale leaves with a side of some kind of creamy, cilantro sauce -- was delicious, if messy. The curried veggies in the Indian bowl were tasty and the curry rich and satisfying over brown rice (I know, I had the leftover for a late lunch later).

Powell's was next for coffee/tea and wi-fi. Being that it was an increasingly nice day Powell's was already pretty busy by 11AM. CK spotted a table while I ordered our drinks. She read a new JQuery book she had just received while I jotted down some notes on a guided visualization to use at the end of a yoga class, Savasana. When I finished I popped upstairs and found another great Lonely Planet guide and we talked about birthday trip ideas until it was time for me to head to Prananda for another day of teacher training.

At last Saturday's class Joy had told all of the teacher trainees that we had to do something nice for ourselves this week. I've felt a little like a faker on it this week, not really making an effort at it. In reading E's blog post about really taking time to fully experience and be present for the blessings in her life really struck me a lot. How we don't have to make some grand gesture at all in doing something for ourselves.

I reigned in my Inner Critic and let up on feeling guilty for just not having the mental resources to write an OSCON proposal this year. It was due on Tuesday and Monday found me just staring at a screen with no ability to really pull anything complete together. I'm letting myself feel excited about the prospect of a birthday trip, a BIG trip, in fact the biggest trip I've ever taken in my life so far! I asked for and received a happy offer to help me in my goal for my 40th birthday -- to start the day in an unsupported headstand! To all of that I get to add a really wonderful morning today.

Despite the intense pressure going on right now with work (the weekday job that supports my Practice), with the huge changes in my personal life, and the uncertainty around my Mom's health -- despite all that I can be present for all of the beauty, joy and Love that is there too. That is the nicest thing I can ever do for myself and for the people I interact with. Practice, be present.


Delayed and Present Pain

Today kind of sucked, well the two and a half hours of asana, the same asana over and over again, really had my hips and my emotions hurting. I was just utterly spent by the time I got to the flat and found CK waiting with ibuprofen, practically at the door, and dinner well under way. I felt so entirely happy, relieved and grateful to see her tonight.

I talked to her about the hurt I've been struggling with around AM resurgence of commitment to practice. I felt it keenly last night during savasana when I had said I was grateful for my practice. What I had fully in my heart was how sweet it was to be laying in savasana next to CK, how fulfilling it feels to share my practice with someone so deeply. I feel this way at times when we are sitting zazen next to each other. Just feeling profoundly grateful to share a very vital part of myself with someone and have it by nurtured by their own practice.

She asked if what I felt wasn't new hurt so much as delayed hurt. That I dove into three years of zen practice and never really felt like I truly shared it with AM. I appreciated that we each had a separate practice, but I noted at times that I'd like to deepen our relationship by sharing being part of our Zen community. I hadn't looked at it quite like that, it feels a kind of newness, but it makes sense.

Rather like the issues dividing showing up and growing several years ago, but neither of us wanted to the be the one to point them out, I never wanted to acknowledge that I was sad my spouse didn't want to share my spiritual path with me. How I deeply wanted to feel like these things that have become such a vital part of who I am are really shared, supported and mutually appreciated.

I hold onto the fact that had AM done all those things we would have eventually come to this same place. That it doesn't change anything. I suppose I'm merely mourning what I wished could have been. Not terribly productive and I try not to get wrapped up in this, staying in past regrets and wishes. Especially not when the future holds the very thing I didn't choose to recognize I was missing.


Tough Practice Earns Documentary

I am just utterly worn out from over 2 and half hours of asana technique and critique during the longer teacher training program I'm doing. Each of the 9 of us taught nadi sodhana (alternate nostril breathing pranayama) and two asana. For at least two student teachers you would be an assistant, doing corrections. That meant doing 6 rounds as a student, repeating two of the same sequences.

Let me break that down, everyone started with nadi sodhana.

  • Yogini A taught intense side stretch and revolved triangle (I assisted)
  • Yogini B taught figure 4 and pigeon
  • I taught warrior 1 and 2
  • Yogini C taught figure 4 and pigeon
  • Yogini D taught warrior 1 and 2
  • Yogini E taught intense side stretch and revolved triangle
  • Yogini F taught figure 4 and pigeon
  • Yogini G taught intense side stretch and revolved triangle
  • Yogi H (the one guy in the class) taught warrior 1 and 2 (I assisted)

All of the poses in red are hard for my the chronic pain I get in my lower back and hips due to the herniated disc I have at the base of my spine. The revolved triangle pose is a particularly challenging asana. I kept coming down to child's pose, resting my head on the ground. I felt very weak and upset by the pain to day. It was a really difficult and my dedication to yoga, to desiring to go more deeply into teaching yoga is what held me in my practice.

When I got home I was so delighted by the scent of roasted delicata squash hinting at dinner well under way I thought I'd cry with gratitude! the winter squash was served with some sauteed zuchinni, quinoa and mixed legumes. I noted afterward that I was still feeling rather burned out from class so CK and I decided to watch the first episode of the BBC documentary last year, The Story of India. A well done culture/history show sounded like just the thing to unwind.

I am really enjoying this documentary so far. It is beautifully filmed and just fascinating after the first episode (there are 5). I appreciate the interviews and the gorgeously shot scenes of ancient excavations of the earliest of Indus and Aryan civilizations!


Shared Practice

My hips ache from mostly sitting for six hours today at teacher training.  I can easily see how people train for 500, 800 hours.  Even the over 200 hours I'm doing means some things are done quickly.  Part of an afternoon to discuss the limbs of yoga when each limb could easily be taught in over 6 hours apiece.  

I know that I will be studying all of this for the rest of my life.  Reading more translations of Patanjali's sutras.  I look forward to reading from the teachings of Pattabhis Jois.  I've been so deeply steeped in the teachings of B.K.S. Iyengar and I look forward to studying the works of the other students of Krishnamacharya.  
It is through this practice that I think I may be of most help to others.  Today, while studying additional pranayama methods, I felt more ideas come together around a workshop for working with trauma.  The time broken up between deep, supported poses, pranayama to balance the mind, time for writing in a journal, and meditation.
Last night I got to watch CK come up into half handstand.  The teacher in me watched the assistance my teacher offered CK; learning how to help a student in this pose myself.  The rest of me just watched with absolute pleasure to be sharing this moment with CK, being there for it and the joy of seeing her smiling at meeting this challenge.  I barely did the pose myself because I wanted to watch.
I don't think I've ever shared a practice with someone.  I was the only one in my family who really swam or bicycled.  I had some cousins who hiked, but I often felt like a hindrance than really a part since I would struggle with my asthma while hiking.  It feels very special to share practices with someone.

Teacher Training Break Day!

Today was a break from yoga study since it is JW's birthday. I slept in until 8:30 and stayed in bed until past 9AM, just moving slow. I wasn't as stiff as I feared I'd be after last night's asana practice. I found some of the poses so challenging to my hips, just burning at my sit bones and aching, that I felt my face burning with suppressed tears.

That anxious fear that resides in my first chakra clamors at the times when my back and hips struggle to stay with a particular asana. It is made even more painful because I feel that struggle, the vulnerability of it, the tears springing to my eyes, and I'm surrounded by people so I don't feel safe to sink into the feelings. It was less awful during the hip opening workshop because CK was there when I was crying, so I felt the protective energy of her presence.

I spent the afternoon writing about the concept of Ahimsa for my teacher training. I also did laundry and answered messages. It was a fairly quiet afternoon, which was a nice break and I enjoyed not having to rush around. Went over to CK's flat around 6:15 and made the dinner I'd put together in my head while shopping at the Farmers' Market earlier in the day.