Self-practice: Practice in different forms and places

I wrote this post a few weeks ago – and as I’ve been alternately drowning and treading water in my current endeavors, it never got published. And here I am, with a few minutes to reach out to you – and this draft post greeted me. It’s not the whole story, of course (it never is), but it’s a starting place. Hi there. Here we go. 

It’s been awhile since I posted, and a lot has happened in that time. I celebrated anniversaries – with myself, another year in this body and with my partner, another year of marriage. I took a much needed break and travelled up the east coast – taking some quiet time with myself and spending some precious time with family. And I started school – a year long program in massage therapy at the Body Therapy Institute in Siler City, which has been the biggest reason behind the continued silence here. It’s exactly where I need to be in terms of my own practice and education and work, it’s awesome. And it’s intense.

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I’ve been practicing every day during this span, but it hasn’t always looked like what you might expect. I spent the first couple of days all by myself – hiding out on a lovely farm in Charlottesville, VA – no cell service, no wi-fi. I knew I needed a break, but I had no idea how badly until a massive exhale escaped with the realization that no, I actually couldn’t check my email. My physical practice eased me into each morning, but every bit or more important to this practice of being with myself was the time spent lying on the grass, staring out the window at the rain, drinking tea – without reading, or writing, planning or triaging email while I sipped. I took mono-tasking to a whole new level, allowing my nervous system plenty of time and space to settle.

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Then I hit the road again, stopping in beautiful Blooming Glen, Pennsylvania for a Restorative Yoga workshop with Rachel May, the latest interviewee in Perspectives on Practice. More breathing and settling. More listening, less doing. I relished the silence in the car on the beautiful drive through northeastern PA and the next day, I climbed a mountain I haven’t seen since my college days. Pranayama/breathwork all the way up, tuning into the work of calves and quads and hamstrings, the support of glutes and psoas and transverse abdominis. I laid out flat on the big rocks – feeling that unmoving (but not immovable) surface of support – these rocks that have been here long before me & will be here, static, exposed and showing only minimal wear long, long after.

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From there, I disconnected once again and headed into the woods with my brother, on a trail we did together as kids, bound for some mountains we hadn’t done in our youth. Hiking boots and trekking poles and more pranayama, this time loaded down with a heavy pack. Tent sleeping and slow mornings and muscles stiff and sore from a whole different sort of physical practice than I’m accustomed to. Brilliant sun and clouds blowing over the mountaintops. The sound of the wind in the spruces and firs, the scent of these trees, and the waterfalls we played in as kids. Patching tender feet and avoiding a persistent bear at our last campsite.

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In between, I practiced at hotels, airbnb stops and my father’s house – at rest stops and in the car itself. Wherever I was, I could make a physical connection, do some breathing, give some attention to my experience. Back here at home, the place of my practice is familiar, comforting, but the routines and schedule and tasks surrounding it have been in flux while I transition into some sort of new normal. I meeting myself here each day, sitting and moving with my breath. Greeting new tasks and old ones with the same tenderness. Feeling entirely the same, and entirely new.

How have you been? And where (internally or externally) has your practice been taking you lately? I would love to hear.

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