Journeys

I’m leaving for India tomorrow.  Never in my wheelhouse, I’m a bit surprised. But life falls the way it wants to fall, no matter the plans you make. So here I am, one suitcase and a backpack in, waiting to fall asleep so that I can leave on a Monday and arrive in Bangalore on Wednesday. Everyone wonders if I plan to take a yoga class or indulge in an Ayurvedic retreat. No. I have no plans to take a yoga class or to indulge in an Ayurvedic retreat. I plan to experience art in Kochi, to visit Munnar, to spend a night on a houseboat and another night at the Coconut Lagoon. The advice I’ve been given by those who have been before is to “soak it all in.” I plan to be amazed and overwhelmed, inspired and humbled.

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Bruce knows something is up…

Bruce the Cat knows something is up. Not lacking in feline intelligence, he knows that when the big black boxes come out his humans are going away. He pretends to be traumatized but the truth is he will wrap his cat sitter around his de-clawed paw (not my doing – he came that way) and will almost certainly be enjoying a little kitty spa vacay while I’m gone.

I probably wouldn’t have chosen ten days in Kerala if not for my darling Ben, who left for a short business trip to Bangalore on Friday. Having lived there for four years, India is Ben’s heart-home.

Do you have a heart-home? Maybe your heart-home is the place where you feel your spirit soar. Or maybe it’s the place you feel most loved. Your heart-home could be a physical space or a state-of-being, and it might shift and change depending on the circumstances. Where is your heart-home?


Breaking Bad

I’ve grown accustomed to avoiding what matters in order to remain dull by existing in a malaise of repetition. But habits can be broken.

Yesterday was the first day of the Build a Better Me project. I successfully avoided time sucking activities that kept me from moving toward the values and activities that are important to me. Most importantly, I didn’t lose three hours of my life obsessed by the MSNBC Chris, Rachel, Lawrence trifecta, thereby easing my obsession with the sorrow that is the current state of our government (part of the BBMP is staying true to and not hedging on my beliefs/opinions and communicating them honestly – but not offensively – when appropriate).

Of course – Monday was only one 24-hour period. There’s the whole rest of my life to consider. Baby steps, right? Yet according to statistics life expectancy in the US has dropped for the second year in a row. That means the whole ‘rest of my life’ amounts to two decades, give or take a few months. Which is the sort of realization I didn’t want to consider so early on a Tuesday morning. Then again, they say that daily contemplation of one’s death is the key to happiness.

 

A commentator to Practically Twisted shared this prescription for working Ayurvedically with habits. I’ve known people for whom going ‘cold turkey’ was the only route to success – my mother quit her heavy dependence on alcohol cold turkey. But for most of us, the calculated but gentle transition Ayurveda suggests may be the more compassionate approach.

After all, when we set the goal of running a marathon we don’t begin our training with a 26.2 mile run. We begin slowly and build our endurance. Yesterday was good but I know I can expect some days where I might feel energetically depleted and temporarily fall back into the stupefied somnambulance that has been my life for the past sixteen months. That’s ok. The benefits of living according to my values for the next two decades will be all the impetus I need to brush off any setback. This is a spiritual marathon, not a jog around the block.


Be Still My Beating Heart

While 90-year-old Reva is off gallivanting in Maui I’m back in Palo Alto, taking care of her overweight and tragically arthritic cat Koko.  Still, I have good news.  My life is officially more exciting than anything I can find on basic cable.  Comcast?  You’ll be getting a call from me today, and you’re not going to like it.

The bad news?  I’ve got some whacked out Vata imbalance.  At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Case in point: At 9:30 last night, after teaching seventy-five minutes of Yin in a darkened room, I walked into my local Whole Foods, grabbed a guy with a beard down to his belt line, held him up against a wall by his cute little green Whole Foods apron and said with clenched teeth, “Need Kava Kavanow”.

In addition, as I type it is three o’ clock in the morning.  Yep.  Three in the bloody morning and what am I doing?  I’m writing a blog post.  For someone who would, under normal circumstances, sleep through the Second Coming – something’s up.

I am not an expert on Ayervedic medicine, but I know enough to know my Dosha.  It is predominately Pitta, leaning toward Kapha. Fiery with a smattering of easy-going Sloth-dom.  But Vata, at her worst, is all air tossed chaos.

Two weeks ago, when my appetite disappeared, I thought it was a fluke.  It happens to me from time to time. The last time being 1977.  I thought I was lucky – I’d finally lose the ten-pound “writer’s spread” I gained over the past year.

But then a few curious, totally un-Mimm like symptoms arose.  For instance, a total disinterest in television.  I couldn’t care less what intriguing case Dr. Gregory House has to solve.  It’s probably lupus anyway.  What about Meredith Grey and her Alzheimer’s study?  Not interested.  And while I’m vaguely interested in discovering if Lauren Graham’s character on Parenthood finds true love, it’s not enough to make me want to wrestle the remote from Koko’s snarled paws (Koko has a lot of time on her hands.  I think she watches Law and Order Marathons while I’m at work. I prefer hospital dramas.  I could say “myocardial infarction” by the time I was five.  Give me an ER Marathon – the early seasons with George Clooney – and I’m in).

Television has been my comfort box since I was three years old.  Right there with a heaping bowl of cheesy instant mashed potatoes. If I’m turning my nose up to both – something’s not right.

But there’s more.  Did I mention the racing heart?  The full on shaking crazies that yesterday turned what was supposed to be a gentle class for my chronic pain group into Yoga Bootcamp?  And this is without caffeine.  Because I lost my taste for coffee about six weeks ago.

Yoga Bootcamp?  Seriously?  From Yin-some Mimm?

On their own the physical symptoms might be enough for one to want to schedule an appointment with their primary care physician. Feeling as if I’ve just mainlined four Starbucks Venties while trying to teach a Yin class is uncomfortable at best.  But I’ve had some changes in my life that may account for how I feel.  The first is I’ve dramatically increased my cardiovascular exercise.  I went from – uh – no cardiovascular exercise to hitting the elliptical four to five times per week for an hour each time.  That will increase my energy and metabolism, and may account for my decreased appetite.

And then there’s the whole Reiki thing.  Don’t tell anyone, but I’m a Reiki Master.  Yeah, I know.  You wouldn’t really guess that by looking at me.  The thing is, except for a single hour of practice last August during Yin Teacher Training, I hadn’t accessed the energy in years.  Thought maybe it was a lot of patoohey.  Ok.  I’m telling a lie.  The truth is, I think I was afraid of Reiki.  Practicing Reiki meant having to access a basic truth about myself that perhaps I was trying to avoid.  (What truth?  Sorry, that’s between me an my therapist.*) For some reason, however, over the past few weeks, I’ve explored Reiki’s possibilities.  Recharged my Reiki batteries.  And I’ve been working with the energy for myself and for a number of friends who are struggling.

The result? I feel as if the Berlin Wall wrapped around my heart for the past thirty years has been torn down.

Is that why I feel as if I’m vibrating?  Why I’m experiencing every waking moment as this freakishly intense burst of energy?  Why I can’t sleep or eat and why those cute little Glee kids have lost their Gleeky hold on me?

I like to believe that these changes are the result of positive choices I’ve made.  The work I’m doing on myself physically and spiritually.  If the alternative is that I’ve entered another new and…ahem…delightful phase on my way to becoming a Crone – that is, if it’s all a cruel menopausal joke – a simple case of haywired hormones running amok or – even worse – all in my head – then maybe I won’t be giving Comcast a call after all.

Well.  That little clock on the right hand side of the screen says it’s 3:55 AM.   Time to tuck the laptop back under the bed, roll over and let the dulcet tones of my pounding heart lull me back to a fitful sleep.

*Here’s the truth:  I feel as though I’m operating on a different level of energy – that somehow, finally, I’ve found the portal to my authentic self and that I really am this kind and this good and this gentle.

*And deserving.