Tag Archives: relaxation

Sweet Summertime

Yesterday, I spent a little over an hour relaxing between a lake and a pool. It was a cooler than normal Texas Sunday afternoon, with a breeze. The puffy white clouds provided a regular respite from the sun. I had a good book and a big glass of iced tea. It is ridiculous how happy I felt in that one precious hour, soaking in summertime.

Our family is about to spend a week together at the beach so I’m feeling in vacation mode already as lists are made; the most relaxing clothes packed; our favorite games set aside for fun in the evenings.

For all you moms of older offspring, I had a brilliant idea this year. I decided everyone who is anywhere close to being an adult would be in charge of a day of meals…not just me. I told them if their menus/shopping lists were submitted early enough, their cooking ingredients would be provided by a super shopper. The most amazing thing happened, menus have been planned that I would have never thought up. I will get to do about 1/7th of the work I usually do. The person (who will remain nameless) in our family we thought might not be on board, submitted the most amazing menus which included a Tex/Mex breakfast entrée, an afternoon fresh pineapple appetizer, a sweet fire chicken dish for dinner and some kind of rice wine served (get this) out of a hollowed out watermelon. My sense of awe cannot be measured. Moms, delegate and relax for a change.

I’m wishing for all of us this summer a little extra measure of down time, relaxation, wonder, sea air, mountain air or whatever fills you up. I’m wishing for you homemade ice cream, really ripe, juicy summer fruits, porch time, grill time, a breeze, some shade and all the wonder of nature.

Poet Mary Oliver wrote, I do not know exactly what a prayer is. I do knowhow to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass; how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, which is what I have been doing all day. Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

We don’t know what the future holds. But, we do have this day. Hopefully, we also have this one wild and precious summer to pay attention to. I pray you drink it in (maybe even served out of a hollowed out watermelon, with someone else doing the hollowing out).

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, writer, mom, Mimosa, breast cancer survivor and so much more. In honor of sweet summertime, her blog will be on vacation for a bit as she savors a wild and precious summer.         

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If Only I Could Write While Doing Yoga

One of my new ventures this year is a yoga class twice a week. Obviously, I am several centuries/generations/cultures behind others who have engaged in this ancient physical/spiritual practice over time. I’m 100% aware of how late I am to this game. I am still very much a back row beginner and super clear on the fact that I know almost nothing about yoga.

There is, however, an ancient saying, When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.  I think it just took me a while to be ready for what yoga had to teach me.

I love the quietness of it. I love the stretching and the physical challenge. I love that our teacher said early on yoga is not supposed to hurt.  I tell myself when it starts hurting, which helps. I love noting my steady progress. Some things I absolutely could not do at the beginning, I do pretty well now.

What I was not expecting were the life lessons. Last class, I wished for a notepad to jot down what our teacher was saying. Then, I realized, of course, writing would not be possible while doing yoga. You pretty much need your hands to hold you up, balance, stretch and pose.

So, I can only share the good lessons that I remember. Here are a few:

Yoga is not a competitive sport. It is all about what you challenge yourself to do. This is so refreshing. 100% of my focus is on what I can do better each time, stretching a little further, balancing a little longer and no one else.

This teaching is closely related to one I made up. No one is looking at you in your yoga pants because they are focusing on their own balance, poses and issues. Get over it. 

Falling is part of the pose. Don’t worry about it. I almost screamed with delight when she taught us this. Falling is part of the pose! It is also part of every single thing I’ve ever experienced in life. Imagine finding a way to tell yourself with each fall, “this is fall is part of the pose.”

In the course of each class, there are resting moments sprinkled among the hard ones. Our teacher says, Enjoy the pause. Drink it in.  I want to do that better in life: enjoying the break, the weekend, the deep breath, the nap, the meal, the drink of water, the park bench, the good night’s sleep.

At the end we do this relaxing thing. It is only a few minutes long and it has long yoga name.  Our teacher talks us through relaxing every part of our body, softening, she says. Soften your forehead, your face and so on. As everything softens she says, now, relax more deeply.  This also makes me want to scream in happiness. Did anyone out there know you can relax more deeply than even your most relaxed self?

Our teacher says, search your body and your soul and let go of what you do not need.  It is okay to let go of what you do not need. Just, let it go. I’m still happy screaming, silently and in a relaxed way, of course.  

At the end, with prayer hands, we whisper Namaste to each other. This means the divine in me honors the divine in you.  In today’s world, I believe that one word, Namaste, could possibly transform everyone and everything.  What if we honored the divine in every single person we met, from every single walk of life? What if the Republicans and Democrats started with that? Or, the Christians and Muslims? Or people of each race? I could go on and on. Namaste.

The pose in the picture is called the Half Moon. I can pretty much do that pose and hold it when I’m not falling (which as I mentioned is part of the pose.) I think it is pretty close to a full on cartwheel. Namaste and happy silent screaming to you.