Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Give it up.

I didn't grow up really celebrating the Lenten season, but when I went to Westmont I learned about the anticipation of Jesus' death and resurrection and how poignant that can be in my spiritual life. Christmas always had a well-known season, should Easter not as well?

I guess people don't get as excited about fasting, sacrificing, or surrendering earthly pleasures with the purpose of drawing nearer to their Savior, as they do holiday parties, egg nog and such. Understandable. I was (am?) right there with you.

So a few years ago, I went to chapel one day and someone put some gray stuff on my forehead and I was ushered in to the Christian tradition of Lent. Over breakfast burritos in the DC I discussed what superfluous (borderline sinful) indulgence I should give up. Dessert? Way too hard. Carbs? (Note how my Lenten sacrifice begins to resemble a diet). No, I need bread. TV? I don't watch it anyway. Gossiping? Oh, that's a good one.

I settled on Diet Coke. Let me tell you, it was rough.

Since that first season I haven't really participated wholeheartedly (that is, faithfully), and ironically, while living in one of the most Catholic countries in the world, Lent totally escaped me last year. So this year, I have been thinking about what I could abstain from that will give me more time to focus on the Lord and spend time meditating on Him and reading His word.

Don't make fun of me. Facebook.

To be honest, I didn't really think I was one who fbooked excessively. Maybe in college, but not now. However, since I added the fbook app to my iPhone, it has become a compulsion. Every time I drive between clients, have an awkward 5-10 minute break, or just can't wait to see which of my friends has the wittiest status, I just press the little icon. I haven't checked it all day, and let me tell you, I already feel disconnected. I also don't have fbook notifications sent to an email address that I ever check so I am totally out of the loop.

I'm really looking forward to the next 40 days though. I anticipate this "sacrifice" in particular doing a lot to foster that "otherworldly" mindset.

So, if you need to contact me, well....yeah, so there are still a number of virtual ways you can do it (email, blog, text), but maybe some of you will pick up the phone! Exciting. ;)

p.s. Props to Michele who inspired this decision. We'll be accountability partners;)

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Surrender Your Myth

After over 12 hours of yoga in the last couple weeks (I'm on a kick;)...I realized that the yogi's have it all wrong. Fundamentally, the entire practice is flawed. Yet, somehow, they get so much right. So, my challenge this week was to try to silence all that the wonderful, kind, soft-spoken yogi had to say while still focusing on balance, patience, endurance, and breath...or to embrace what he had to say, with my own (rather crucial) variations.

About the third or fourth class of praying that the Lord would spare me from any evil philosophy that the well-meaning master was trying to impart and trying to direct my focus and meditation to God, I realized that the yogi was, in fact, speaking truth. He just had his terminology confused. ;)

Allow me to demonstrate...

Yogi: Surrender yourself to your breath. (V: Surrender yourself to the Lord)
Your mind spends so much time trying to convince you that all of these other things are important, when really they are nothing. As you move into the shape (through life) and focus on your breath (focus on the Lord) you will find that the only truth that exists is between your breath and the love it creates in your body (between you and the love relationship you have with the Lord). It is so freeing (Amen!).

Your breath and the shape are the only things that exist. You do not exist in space or time (in it, not of it). You think you do. You move through life wanting something and then getting angry at yourself for wanting it the next moment (yep). That is all in your mind. Your mind will always wrestle with things that do not matter (mm-hm). None of those things matter. If they ceased to exist, would you? No. If your breath ceases, do you? Your breath is all there is. (God is all there is.)

So, I found with a few conscious changes, the practice of yoga to be rather uplifting. There are so many things I love about what yoga teaches. Tonight my teacher challenged us to surrender the myth that we all go around so desperately trying to write about ourselves and live into. Our reputation, our self-worth, our need for approval- and so much of it based on so little. He poked fun at the public monologues we hold to define ourselves; we update our status on Facebook and as soon as we have the moment no longer exists. It is fleeting and false. He asked challenging questions about the assumed seriousness of it all. He said, "If any of you are going to party tonight, ask yourself, would you rather walk away knowing that people thought very highly of you and lauded you with compliments, or to have had a wonderful time?"

He summed it up, "What would happen if you just stopped trying? Just stop worrying what it looks like. Find your breath." (Find GOD).

I just love his flavor of yoga. The description of Yoga Soup is "a class offering nothing, if we're lucky." It is a practice that can feel intimidating for its serious, ethereal, meditative qualities (not to mention pretzel poses and handstands) yet Eddie will weave in a little Sound of Music, a little Coldplay, a little no-name folk guy with guitar, and "I just want to dance with somebody" and pull us out of Half Moon to jump around like small children, much in the vein of Nia. Tonight, he actually played the famous song of the Academy Awards and had us ride horseback.

It is delightfully self-deprecating....although I suppose only self-deprecating if you give any weight to the self. That's the challenge. Worth considering, I think. :)

Monday, February 16, 2009

If I had a million dollars...

(Said through clenched throat, with tears of joy brimming in my eyes)
I would give everyone I possibly could a gift certificate to Nia so that they too could experience the pure euphoria of dancing like a 3-year-old-through-the- sprinklers in a room full of strangers. And solve world hunger, of course. ;)

This is literally what was going through my head as I left Yoga Soup this afternoon. I could write a lot about how dance has been unjustly appropriated by the hip-hop or club culture and thus become a cause of self-consciousness or stress rather than freedom and unfettered joy...but this post is not about a soap box....

It's about play, laughter, movement, dizziness, feeling like a tribal warrior and a tiny spright, lacking all thoughts of self and feeling the music flow out of you. It's about dancing like no one is watching. It's about shared space that is free of expectations. It's super new-age and I don't even care. It's freedom.

I got this sweet battle-scar after last week's class and didn't notice it at all as I jumped and pranced around for over an hour:)

In all seriousness, if I had a million big ones I would give it to Opportunity International. But, that's a more serious post, for a more serious time.

Go dance.