Slow down and notice the gila monster!

These days much of my insights are coming when I am on the bike. For me, this is moving meditation, especially when I am mountain biking. I am completely engaged in what I am doing in the moment. There is value in this presence and focused awareness, much like when I practice mindfulness of breath or sound or a mantra, but I was reminded of another way to look at it the other day.

I was on a ride and passed by this woman who was pausing on the trail. Further along the path, I ended up stopping to stretch my back and she rolled up a few seconds later and said, “Did you see that gila monster on the trail?! I had not…in fact, I had been super focused on not getting caught by her, ha! I was totally immersed in my self-imposed game of winning that I had missed something that would have rivaled any 1st place prize that day.

I likened this moment of awareness to how I sometimes move though life unconscious of HOW I am doing it. Now if you’ve ever mountain biked on trails that have rocks, roots and downed trees, you know that you need to focus and be totally present with what you are doing, and those competitive juices start flowing! There is nothing wrong with riding like that, but I realize there are some days when I arrive at the trail and I’m not as intense or ‘into it’ as I need to be, and these are the days when I wreck or don’t enjoy it as much.

Going forward, perhaps I could consciously choose to respond to these days in a new way? Just like this woman unknowingly reminded me on the trail, there is another way to ride. One of the main reasons we moved to Tucson was to connect with nature, so maybe I could take the cues from my body that day and enjoy my ride in another way? Instead of making myself ride with the intensity that I am clearly lacking that day, I can slow down, look around, take in everything that surrounds me, and actually put this learning into practice. This seems much more in alignment with living mindfully where I pay attention to what is happening in THIS moment, and let it be just as it is rather than making it into something else.

The ‘birds’ in my head

As the full moon was still in the sky, I set up the ladder and climbed up onto our carport before sunrise. I had been thinking how the view of the mountains and the sunrise from ‘up there’ must be nice — and boy, was I right! What I didn’t expect was the beautiful symphony of bird songs…

As I closed my eyes to begin my meditation practice, I found myself hearing one bird song, then another. I recognized my desire to open my eyes to SEE the bird who was generating this sound, or at least get a visual sense of where it was so that next time I might be able to see it. This is strangely similar to the thoughts that come and go in my mind. Some thought or idea comes in from out of nowhere, and rather than just note that it is there — sometimes I explore it, play with it, try and ‘get it’ and then after a bit of time, I realize I’ve been lured away from the present moment yet again (argh and smile at the same time).

If I choose to apply this gift from nature and treat my thoughts like the bird songs, I can just smile as they come and go, and enjoy the experience without having to identify the source of it or figure out where it’s coming from or what it means. For me, using this analogy helps the process of ‘letting go’ or ‘letting it be’ feel like a natural flow rather than so much work.

Small things matter…

As many of you know, we moved from Houston to Tucson recently and for about two months, my days have become busy with DOing more than BEing. Although I have been present within the busy-ness, I realize how unbelievably valuable the small movements I used to do on a daily basis with each of my private clients mattered to my own body and mind! At the time, I was just going with the flow, leading the practice, observing my clients, guiding and cueing within the moment — but in actuality, my own body and mind were experiencing rhythm, breath, connection with another human being, and movement in a variety of directions.

Since I have been focusing on settling into this new space, and have not yet begun working with clients in Tucson, it is in the LACK of doing the small things on a regular basis that I realize their power once again. It is a reminder to me that the smaller patterns I create in life that support me may not be as evident in that moment, but when they fall by the wayside and are replaced with other patterns that are less supportive, wow – there is the gift.

A short daily self-care routine may not necessarily make my legs more toned, but what it does do is keep me feeling connected to myself; to experience where the stickiness is today and ease through it before it becomes something greater; to notice the breath happening so that I remember I am alive and ultimately responsible for my own happiness and freedom. From this latest experience with our move, I am once again reminded of this great lesson that small things really do matter!

Mindfulness next to the train tracks

I was riding my bike home from teaching a Mindful Yoga class today, and usually I ride home almost as fast as I can to really get in some leg work and cardio. Today, as I approached the railroad tracks, the lights began to flash and I knew a train was approaching. Because I was in ‘do’ or action mode, my first response was — “Crap, now I have to stop and wait for this damn train.” However, it took a short time for me to smile at that part of me who wanted to just continue with my ‘workout’ and instead see that I was being asked to practice exactly what I had just been suggesting each of my students do in the rest of their day!

I rode my bike up close to the tracks to wait, closed my eyes and enjoyed the unbelievable power of the sounds as they passed. I’ve had to wait at the tracks before on my bike, but I never noticed the subtle or not-so-subtle changes in how each kind of rail car sounds. The ones that are double stacked are much louder and sound like they’re coming at you – so much so I had to open my eyes just to make sure they weren’t! I felt quite alive standing there with my eyes closed, feeling the wind swirl by, and hearing the rhythmic sound of the rail cars clanking over the tracks. Very different than ever before.

I hope you stumble upon many moments in your day (or maybe you already have) to pause and take in the moment more fully.