Shedding Layers

This month in my classes, I’ve been sharing the idea of Letting Go, and this week, I’ve been talking about Letting Go of the past by “unpacking.” This is the poem I shared.

New Home

When she was ready to move into her new home,
the first thing she unpacked was from her childhood.
It was that boy who called her a name because she didn’t look like him.
Or dress like him.
Because her mother worked the register at the Five and Dime as they called it back then
and her father worked on other people’s cars.
She took that boy out of the invisible suitcase she carried on her back, shook him off, and let him go.

The next thing she unpacked was from her teen years.
She reached into her bag and with a gentle tug,
pulled forth the memory of the girls who said she couldn’t sit with them at lunch.
That she belonged somewhere else—anywhere else.
She held those girls up and stared at them long and hard, and with a whisper of forgiveness,
she let them go.

Feeling lighter now and so much stronger,
she then unpacked her college boyfriend who had broken her heart,
her first boss who yelled at her for sport, she was sure,
the series of dates that ended terribly
the jobs she abandoned
the man she was with when she should have known better,
the men she was with when she should have known better.
From her suitcase she yanked the memory of the extra money she’d stolen from the tip jar,
and the times she said she would be there and wasn’t—
She freed all the “Wrong” things she said and did
and all the “Wrong” things that were done to her.
She held up
the memory of her father’s death
and her mother’s illness.
Each was wrapped in an extra thick protective layer of guilt.
Pulling at the packaging, they unraveled quickly, so she let them go, too.   

Then, she placed each memory carefully on a quilt laid out on the floor before her
and with one deep breath, she took them all in—the sorrow, the guilt, the embarrassment, the shame, the solitude, the pain—so, so much pain—and then, she breathed them out.

She did this again and again until the people and the jobs and the memories were nothing more than dust in the palm of her hand.

With one soft blow, they were all released,
and with a full heart and a free mind, she was home.  

Taking a Break from My Phone

I’ve been taking a break from my phone. Not a big break, and not for any extended periods of time, but every day, while I walk the dog, I don’t let myself answer a call, text, or email, unless it’s an emergency.

It wasn’t an easy habit to get into, but it was one I desperately needed. Constantly engaging with my phone became an energy drain and frankly, it’s a waste of time. Yes, emails have to be checked and texts have to be answered, but most of the time, they don’t have to happen at that very moment.

I began living with my phone glued to my side years ago when my brother-in-law was very ill. As the years passed and my parents became elderly and my girls became old enough to be out with friends, my phone continued–and continues–to be attached to me. I keep it with me through work, social interaction, and I sleep with it next to my bed. There really is no choice. Many times I’ve been woken by an emergency call because someone needed to go to the hospital.

Phones can’t be avoided. But I’ve found that their constant distraction can be.

Sophie gets walked a minimum of three times a day, and I noticed that while she sniffed out new territory, I would naturally gravitate to my phone. Between a, “Good Girl” and a, “Come on, let’s run,” I’d knock out a few texts, and sometimes, standing there while holding her leash and balancing a bottle of water, I would send an email or two. While it’s great to be productive, there has to be an end point. Do we really need to work constantly?

Without my fingers scrolling through Instagram, I now hear the birds and take deeper breaths. Because of it, my mind feels clearer and my mood is better.

Just lifting my head from the thrust it had while on the phone has lifted my spirits. And since I’ve put the phone away on my walks, I’ve noticed it’s easier to put it away at other times, too.

I have definitely noticed the correlation between less screen time and a better mood.

And those emails still get sent and the texts are still answered. But now, I’m doing them during designated “work” times, rather than times I should be off my phone and enjoying myself.

Happy September! Practicing Aparigraha

Happy September.

September is a pivotal month. Not only is the weather (finally!) getting cooler and a change of seasons is upon us, but September is also represented by the number 9 in numerology which stands for both beginnings and endings. This month is a good time to say goodbye to what no longer serves you, and to allow for the new, wonderful that is waiting for you.

And if you don’t have a clue as to what that next step is for you, it’s okay. In fact, it may be better.

For example, right now, I have no idea where I’m going, and I’ve never been happier.

Let me explain.

My entire life I have been focused on becoming something. Always. The thing has changed through the years, but the drive and ambition haven’t. Through it all, I’ve remained focused.

Recently, on My Crunchy Granola Yoga Journey, I realized that I have accomplished many of those goals I’ve set for myself. I’ve checked the boxes on many of those things I thought I wanted on my long list of life goals—and guess what…? Not only did they not bring me long-term happiness, many of those “achievements” have been forgotten.

What does that mean?

I think it means that happiness is not achieved by checking a box. It comes to us when we are here, open, and present.

Does that mean we stop working toward goals?

No—goals are important. They get us up in the mornings and drive us forward with a fire in our bellies. But in my particular case, on my journey, I’ve realized that to be happy, I don’t always need to know where I am going. I don’t always have to be working toward a goal.

I can do, and let “it” whatever “it” is, come to me.

In fact, the greatest excitement I’ve found is in not knowing what’s next.

And when we are working toward a goal, the joy is in the journey, not in what that goal will bring us.

It’s living without attachment to the outcome. It is doing, without expectation. It is, Aparigraha. Non-attachment. Krishna says, “Let your concern be with action alone and never with the fruits of action.”

And it is truly one of the most freeing things I have ever experienced.

If we are only focused on what we’ll “get” when we finally achieve that goal, we can’t help but be disappointed when that thing doesn’t live up to the hype we’ve given it.

Likewise, the Universe has a plan for each of us, and if we spend all of our time in our minds setting up obstacles and blocking the Universe from showing us the way, life has to be a struggle. There’s no choice.

But, if we release and move forward– sometimes unknowingly–but with good intention, or, work toward a goal with no attachment to its outcome, we will be on the path to Santosha, or contentment, and we will begin to live our dharma.

And that, is a pretty sweet place to be.