Welcome to November.
November has traditionally been a time for stepping back, taking stock and giving thanks for the goodness and connections in our lives that bring gladness, wholeness, completeness. This month I've been touched in small and big ways by this and would like to share some reflections with you. Read on below.
Mark your Calendars!
SUNDAY NOVEMBER 18
Yoga Nidra and the Art of Conscious Relaxation
4:30-5:30 pm at Body Grace studio in Vienna (NOTE new time for this month)
Fee: $20 pre-registered: $25 drop-in
Yoga Nidra is an ancient practice that takes people into a state of deep relaxation through a guided meditative process and conscious visualization. Also known as yogic sleep, the practice gives rest to the mind, body and senses by drawing the practitioner into a state of conscious awareness—a brain state between full wakefulness and full sleep. This practice has been linked with reducing stress, tension and pain; improving circulation and immune functioning; lowering blood pressure and inflammation; and stabilizing mood. Yoga Nidra is generally practiced while lying down or in a seated position. For your comfort, please bring a pillow and wear comfortable clothing and arrive 15 minutes before class start. Mats and blankets are available at the studio or feel free to bring your own. Please RSVP to reserve a spot with Jan at firstname.lastname@example.org
And the science says . . .Hugs Matter
I sort of have a reputation in this town. . . .
A friend recently tagged me in a Facebook post about Hugs. The timing of her tag was ironic because I'd already been planning to write a post about the science of hugs. I personally believe that when there is a natural medicine for healing that is readily available to every person on the planet--we should do our very best to pay attention and utilize it!!
Yes, I'm a full-fledged, card-carrying Hugger. And those of my friends who have accepted the task know that a required greeting ritual when they see me . . . is a hug.
I believe hugs matter. It turns out science says so too.
Here is what I found about the benefits of hugs after a little research:
*Helps fight stress and stress induced illness
*Boosts the immune system
*Lowers blood pressure and heart rate
*Increases serotonin levels and releases or produces other positive "feel good" hormones, like oxytocin and dopamine
*Balances the nervous system
*Causes muscles to relax
*Acts as an anti-aging agent (love this one)
*Protects against heart disease
*Helps with depression, insomnia and anxiety
*Decreases food cravings
*Improves self-esteem and increases feelings of happiness
Why is this important? Why would I decide to write a post about hugging as a yoga therapist?
For several reasons.
Because I believe that "feeling is healing." I believe that the whole of our mind, body, spirit is served when we understand that good health comes from utilizing our entire arsenal of resources, particularly during the often stressful times within which we find ourselves.
Hugs are a powerful tool in our healing arsenal.
So, dear readers and friends, since it is November--a time that you may be in contact with loved ones--make hugs happen.
The person you hug (who is open to receiving it of course--do make sure, I'm not advising you to accost anyone without permission) may need it just as much as you do, or need it even more. You both can benefit from a bit of hug therapy.
Take care of your body. It is the only place you have to life. ~ Jim Rohn.
Lives lived well . . .(and why I now carry a puzzle piece in my wallet)
In the last few weeks I've had a couple precious and tender opportunities to reflect on lives lived well.
What does that mean? And why do I now carry a small puzzle piece in my wallet?
It was at the funeral of the father of a dear friend. A father treasured by children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. A father who had lived an extraordinary life--spanning both continents and coasts. A life rooted in truth, devotion, drive, dedication, determination, and . . . a shake or two of self-discipline. A life lit up by a seemingly unfaltering quest to be curious, to explore and tease out new solutions to problems, and to tinker. In short, the sort of person who just loves a good jigsaw puzzle.
One by one his four children shared their remembrances of their cherished father's well-lived, well-loved life. And one by one we were called to live our lives by their father's example. To live our lives to the fullest, being the best of ourselves each and every day. Then, one of the sweetest moments arrived.
One son had brought in his father's favorite jigsaw puzzle and invited us all to take a piece in parting, and let our puzzle piece serve as a symbolic reminder of this calling. Essentially, a calling to a well-lived life.
My puzzle piece has different shades of yellow, white, orange, red and pink. It has swirls and lines. It serves as a reminder to devote myself to living well. And not only that. It also draws me back to the truth that I am connected to a larger life, a grand puzzle. It is my connection to the greater whole, my connection to others' lives where true meaning is found and where true clarity can be seen. It is in the context of my being a piece of this greater whole that I can be the best version of myself and live my purpose.
Which brings me to the other funeral I attended recently.
This time a cherished mother, sister, wife and friend. A woman renown for her generosity, devotion to her children and pride in them, dedication to her community, and her bountiful positive spirit. And the community she had committed herself to serving turned out in spades to honor her well-lived life.
At the start of his remarks her husband asked us to turn to our neighbor, to our friends and loved ones, and hug them. To tell them we loved them. And he called out to us to cherish each other and our loved ones each day. Because sometimes life is fleeting and we must appreciate one another while we can, as this mother did during her own life.
In my eyes, she had simply and deeply understood what a well-lived life was about: the sharing of the human spirit through one's connection to the greater whole.
In this month of gratitude and Thanksgiving, my wish is that you may connect with and cherish one another.
And hug and be well.
Blog Archives including Heart Tree Yoga's Yamas and Niyamas Study from January-December 2016 and seasonal newsletters.