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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My Living Your Moksha

I recently participated in Living Your Moksha - a 7-week on and off the yoga mat challenge that follows the 7 pillars of moksha yoga  Every week you receive emails and Facebook updates and inspirations to help you on your journey.  Each participant donates $10, which goes towards Free The Children, and the movement raised almost $100,000 - enough to build 7 schools in 7 countries!

I started a week late.  I admit it was tough to do with starting a new job, the baby 10-12 months old during the challenge, my teen graduating from highschool, and my mother-in-law (soon-to-be) sick.  But everyone has 'stuff' in their life so I decided to attempt it anyway.

I had limited success... or at least that was my original thought.

Week 1: Be Healthy

Sounds easy.  Not.  This challenge meant no processed foods, yoga everyday, and remove all toxins in your home.  How did I fare?   Well, cut me some slack... I did week 1 and week 2 at the same time because I started late.  However, I probably fared 3/10 on the processed foods that week (probably worse than normal!) and 2/7 on the yoga everyday - which given my life at the moment, I was OK with.  I chose not to remove the toxins from my home... this meant throwing away all of the cleaning supplies and replacing with natural products.  Given one of the pillars is Live Green, I decided to use the products I currently have and work harder at purchasing more green cleaning products as they run out... which I've been doing.  I can't bring myself to use vinegar and water to clean... I used that mix at KFC when I worked there in 1986 and I have too many memories.....

I beat myself up over my seemingly inability to commit to no processed foods.  Many years ago I studied dietetics and was a bit of a health nut... hence, being unsuccessful with this really drove me insane.  One of the reasons I say above to 'cut me some slack' is because I know I have to do that for myself.

Week 2: Be Accessible

This is about active listening and reflecting at the end of each day by writing in a journal.  I was incredibly conscious of my listening skills that week!  I made extra efforts to be present and really listen to my daughter, partner, parents, friends, and strangers (one that I don't always put so much effort into).  I found it quite empowering actually.  I didn't reflect at the end of each day so much.... I usually plop into bed and fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow - I do have a 12 month old you know!  But I did mentally assess how I was doing.

I felt good after week 2.  In fact, while attempting to listen more, I also found myself being available more.  I made extra efforts to visit my parents.  Consciously being accessible made me less self-absorbed.  It was an excellent lesson.... and I try to go back to that week now when I'm feeling overwhelmed... which is often a result of thinking about myself too much.

Week 3: Live Green

Green your plate.  Eat only vegetarian or vegan and only locally produced food.  Reduce your waste to zero for seven days.  Soooo..... I ate vegetarian at least twice a day and sometimes more.  Finding things to cook and having the ingredients on hand was a pain.  We also tried to reduce waste as much as possible.  I can't say I get a 10/10 on this.  But we're all more conscious of waste and living green and we're making baby steps towards a greener life.

What I liked about this challenge was that I got the whole family involved.  And by week 3, I realized that it was OK not to get 10/10... it was about progressing through the baby steps... not so different from anything in life.  I also found myself reading more about the environment during this week.  So it wasn't all about being vegetarian.  Not for me anyway.  I realized I need to plan my life a bit more.  Oh, I know... plan my life.... I'm a spur of the moment, spontaneous kind of girl!  But I need more structure in order to have more freedom.  And this week taught me that.

Week 4: Sangha Support

The challenge was to commit one or more acts of kindness each day.  You could also bring a friend to yoga for free to share the benefits of yoga.  I brought my daughter to yoga that week.  She loved it!  She'd done yoga in Singapore and thought it was nuts.... I believe she did Kundalini yoga.  But doing Ashtanga yoga was something she could better relate to and enjoy.  I loved sharing my passion with my daughter AND having her love it too!

Now, the acts of kindness I completed were not anything special.  I found myself letting people turn in traffic and leaving my change for the clerk more than normal.  I realized I was not so bad in the kindness area.... but could improve on it for sure.  There's a fantastic list of 29 ideas for random acts of kindness here  I have to admit that I do some of them and it feels fantabulous!!!   Since this week I have caught myself in situations to be kind and acting differently because I'm more aware of it.

Week 5: Outreach

Volunteer one hour of your time this week.  OK, so I didn't do this.  I scored 0/10!  I guess it just needs to be the right time in your life.  I did think about it, though.... and I even asked a question about volunteering for something.  Let's just say it got me thinking.  I have volunteered for many things in the past, but I haven't committed long-term to anything I'm really passionate about.  So... I thought.

Part of the learning this week was how do I serve others (karma yoga)?  I realized that I spend a chunk of my time every week reaching out to friends.  I give advice and guidance and I lend a shoulder and an ear.  I've always done this and I love doing it.  I like being able to be responsive to the people in my life.  I don't want to give that up.  I'm still thinking about how I can add a more structured volunteer activity.  I'm not sure I need to at this point.  I would not want to reduce my presence in my loved ones' lives... unless they wanted that of course!  There are days!  :)

Week 6: Live to Learn

Read 30 minutes a day and 2 hours on the weekend.  Go for a walk every day with an undetermined destination and observe nature.  I'm trying to recall that week.... oh yeah.... busy, busy, busy.  That was the week my baby was brought to the doc twice and the hospital once and we learned she had pneumonia.  I probably didn't do so well with the challenge that week.  But I do this stuff.  Frequently.  I have been challenged with fitting it all in, but I do read and observe nature.

I would like to take on this challenge again.  What I DID learn was to listen... and I thought I was such a good listener!!!  Terry wanted to bring the baby to the doc earlier and I didn't.  My first daughter and I don't really get sick... hardly ever... and she was a very healthy baby... almost never sick.  So I want my second daughter to be the same.  My learning.... she's not my first child.  When she's sick... we need to accept that and deal with it.  I found this very challenging at work because I had to leave work a lot that week.  I still struggle with the whole work-life balance thing.....

Week 7: Be Peace

Practice one hour of silence every day.  Oh how I love this!  I love having silence every day.  I am more balanced and feel healthier when I do it.  I was not good with it that week though.  I don't have an excuse... not that any above reasons are excuses:)  I just didn't do it.  I tried a couple of times and fell asleep.

And that was the end.  But not really - not even close!  I'm more aware of where I need to put my energy.  I'm more in love with yoga.  And I contributed towards 7 schools being built in 7 countries that need them.  Moksha means freedom.  Having completed this challenge, I feel even more free to be me and also to strengthen parts of me.


Monday, June 11, 2012

Little Hands

Babies hands are so little.  Yet they can lift so much.

Last week was a tough one for Terry's family.  One of my earlier posts, Here's Mud In Your Eye, disclosed that Terry's mom has cancer.  She's been fighting it since last summer.  First a surgery.  Then chemo.  An infection.  More chemo.  Sickness.  Loss of appetite.  Weak legs.  Weight loss.  Weight gain!    Appetite back!  Feeling good.  Getting out.  Weight loss again.  Dehydration.  A few overnights in the hospital.  And then last week, she was so sick that we wondered what's next - if anything.  After a diagnosis of thrush and treatment thereof, she is improving.  Slightly each day.  Everyone is relieved.  And although there are many unknowns, we all know what's in store.

The whole family was called and we were all in Central Newfoundland this weekend.  Everyone's emotions and stress levels are high.  Everyone wants the best care for their mom.  And nobody has the answers everyone wants.  But when our baby enters the room, all attention is switched from the heaviness of the situation to the beautiful lightness of baby giggles, first steps (Yes!  First steps last week!), and bright, curious eyes.  Our little girl lifted everyone's spirits and gave the minds in the room a rest.  And Nanny's face smiled.

The next few months will be difficult.  What comes after that is unknown.  But our baby's little hands will be there to lift us all when we need it.