Just Settle in Here; Take a Few Breaths

I spent the last four days in a 40-hour intensive yoga teacher training program at a local studio here in the District (hence the late post). I’ve been playing with the idea of teacher training for a bit and fell in love with this specific studio’s program in large part because of their focus on hands-on assists, but also because they require this initial 40 hours before you can register for the other 160 hours that result in your certification.

They want to make sure you’re settled in–at the studio and to your commitment to both learn and, eventually, teach.

Being on the fence regarding whether or not I want to pursue a full 200-hour certification but looking to deepen my own practice, this weekend seemed ideal.

It absolutely was, and, as it turns out, last week’s VOW had a lot to do with it.

Have you ever learned a new word and then suddenly started to see it everywhere? That’s kind of what happened to me these past four days. In fact, that’s what happened to me on a consistent basis when I played a version of this VOW game a few years ago. Each week, each verb seemed to show up for me, and settle was no different–it met me on the mat in a handful of different ways every day to teach me all that I would let it.

It started with my intentions for the training: Stay on the mat. When given the opportunity, challenge my comfort zone (e.g., volunteer for a demo, ask a question, etc.). Gain confidence in touching others. (That looks creepy.) Develop my voice; get comfortable using it. Be open to others; if you find someone uninteresting or irritating, the fault lies in you. SETTLE IN.

To be honest, I’m not sure why I wrote the last two words. Given that it was my VOW, settling had been on my mind, but I didn’t know exactly what I meant by it when I listed it as in intention. I just knew it felt right.

And as yogi Baron Baptiste says, “Your intuition is always right. ALWAYS.”

And it was.

Settle showed up for me in the form of 22 fellow yogis. It invited me to extend a hand or a hello in our first awkward meeting. It challenged me to accept them as a comrade and teacher without knowing anything more than that they had shown up too and for that to be enough. To take feedback from them and to give it, accepting and extending it as a precious gift. It gave me the chance to hold space for them to root and rise and fall and start again. And to be held by them (both figuratively and quite literally).

Settle made me touch their sacrum or pelvic bone and get comfortable there. It made me realize how energy and intention can be so powerfully communicated with the slightest bit of pressure, and that this is not only a responsibility but a gift. It reminded me that touch is not a part of everyone’s life–in the absence of a romantic relationship or close friends or family nearby, people can go years without human contact. It made me conscious of this and has be considering how I can not only hold space for another but perhaps a hand. We were made to touch.

Settle showed up as acceptance of their very-different-from-mine yoga bodies as I held those bones with reverence and awe. It showed up as acceptance of my strong-back-soft-stomach-weak-tricep-flexible-hamstring-knock-kneed  yoga body. It’s hard to hate it when you see what it can do.

Settle showed up as a focal point that told me I was strong enough all along and finally allowed me to fly.  I’ve been trying to get into crow pose for longer than I can remember, and I’ve always focused at a spot a few inches in front of my face. Turns out if I look farther ahead, finding a drishti a foot and a half or so in front of me, I can come into the posture and hold it.

Settle showed up as a reminder that yoga (and life) is a process; it’s called a yoga practice for a reason. As Baptiste wrote:

There is no prize for perfect poses…The point is that sometimes results are barely visible, but every fraction of an inch of progress is meaningful. Don’t seek better poses, a perfect body, or an immediate inner peace. Let go of the ambition and embrace the practice of peeling back your layers. Just be where you are, play your edge, and the prizes will be revealed along the way. Transformation is a process to be lived. It cannot be captured or possessed; you can only participate in it.

So settle in here; take a few breaths.

 


Steph’s SETTLE textual inspiration:

“…to live in this world

you must be able
to do three things
to love what is mortal;
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.”

Steph’s Song of the Week: Humble & Kind by Lori McKenna


Be sure to read Lin’s post on SETTLE.


& Join us next Sunday to see what we
MAKE of our weeks.

The Case for Encasing: Reflecting on SETTLE

When I saw that our first joint VOW was SETTLE, I thought to myself man, that’s kind of a bleak way to start the year. I began to run through the list of things about myself that I need to just inevitably with: my tight budget, my acne prone skin, the fact that I’ll never be able to air dry my hair without looking like either a clown or Sean White (evidenced here). Somehow, bitching about my insecurities in detail didn’t seem like the best way to endear readers.

All our lives we’re told that settling is this dark, undesirable thing. Especially the millennial* generation who were taught by the Baby Boomers who raised them you’re a special flower, never settle, follow your path and your dreams. YOU CAN BE WHATEVER YOU WANT TO BE.

For Christmas I gifted my family Strengths Finder — a personality profiling tool I’m obsessed with that tells  you what you’re really great at. Of the 34 themes, you see only your top 5 traits; your lowest are left to your imagination. This theory is counter to how most of us lead our lives. You know, how we tend to believe that with enough practice, dedication, and grit we can excel at anything we set our sights on. We often presume that what’s worthwhile ought to be hard won. But the author, Tom Rath, reveals this mentality doesn’t actually get us as far as we assume:

The reality is that a person who was always struggled with numbers is unlikely to be a great accountant or statistician. And the person without much natural empathy will never be able to comfort an agitated customer in the warm and sincere way that the great empathizers can. Even the legendary Michael Jordan, who embodied power and raw talent on a basketball court, could not become, well, the “Michael Jordan” of golf or baseball, no matter how hard he tried.

Strengths Finder reveals one of the most simple-yet-impactful insights I’ve gained as an adult:

You cannot be anything you want to be —  but you can be a lot more of who you already are.

This further reminded me of a quote from Amy Poehler’s incredible essay memoir book Yes, Please. She talks about how she accepted early in life that she would never be considered an incredible beauty. Rather, she won people over with her tenacity, her humor, and her positivity. As Poehler advises in her book:

Decide what your currency is early.
Let go of what you will never have.

Remembering this profound advice (see, I really do love truth nuggeted in a quote), I asked myself why I considered settling so goddamn depressing. Settling can be freeing. Hell, that’s part of the whole reason I chose to EMBRACE this year — making peace with the things which do not help me thrive.

But I didn’t want to mimic my verb from last week. And yes, self acceptance is work and there is progress to be made there, but I wanted action items, dammit.

And then I came across this little article about hygge (pronounced HOU-gah) the Danish concept — nay, way of life — which is infiltrating the American mentality that we need to promote these perfectly crafted, exciting, glamorous lives via social media. Because how else would people know we were happy?

Hygge is about simplicity. It’s about  quiet, cozy spaces with those whom we consider intimates. Grab some unscented candles, hot chocolate, fleece anything, and park yourself in front of a fire with a good book or your best friends. Hygge isn’t about being impressive. It isn’t about grandiosity or social media vanity. It’s about a stillness, a realness, that comes with settling in.

Lin-Hygge.jpg

PICTURED: candles, flannel, wool socks, fluffly pillows, hot coffee, cozy blankets, captivating books. NOT PICTURED: mountain of tissues, hours of Best Fiends, general self-wallowing.

Like the rest of the country, temperatures dropped in the South, granting us enough snow (less than 1″) for a snow day and the deep desire to curl up in bed with all the makings for a good hygge. The virus I acquired some days before put me in just such a mood.

This week alone I finished two books, perfected a homemade hot chocolate recipe, enjoyed winter vegetable soup. Hell, Tuesday I didn’t even leave my bed at all.

My time in Alabama has been significantly different than my life in Colorado was. I’m alone most of the time and my true extroverted nature is coping with this change magnificently well. There are often times when I miss having a close friend nearby, miss the social life where I needed to make plans three weeks out.

But there are other times when I’m thankful for this shift. I needed a pause; in Fort Collins my life was go-go-go for a very long time. This new phase, like the general pace of the region, is steadier. It’s more settled. And simply because it is new and uncomfortable doesn’t mean I don’t wear it well.

…And really, when what I’m wearing is so comfy and snuggly, why would I want to change?

*I’m not knocking millennials; they get enough of that elsewhere anyway. I consider myself part of the transitional generation rather than a Millennial. I remember life before the internet which, working in higher ed with true Millennials, whom I feel both united and separate from. They get a bad rap, those Millennials, and I do not mean to exacerbate it. Their differences are neither good nor bad, they have simply been raised in a world very, very different than the one any of the rest of us were born into.


Lin’s VOW mantra: Find joy in the ordinary.
Lin’s Song of the Week: Home by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros


Be sure to read up on Steph’s post about #VOWsettle.


Join us next Sunday to see what we 
MAKE of our weeks.