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Thursday, September 20, 2012

And She Finally Makes Her Point! - Part III

I have been talking... ok ranting, for the two posts about being uncomfortable and the fact that I needed to learn to get comfortable with this state of affairs.

So, why all of this talk about discomfort?  Well, in my experience discomfort tends to take me out of my centre.  In other words, it disturbs my peace.  I figured that if I could learn to 'get comfortable with discomfort' that I could avoid this disturbance and stay centred during the 'storms' that life throws at me.  That is my over-riding intention as of late.  To stay centred, peaceful, calm, in the face of, well, anything and everything.

Over the course of this series on discomfort, I have given you some examples of situations where physical discomfort has risen within me in recent times: being tired, being hungry, having low blood sugar, having sore feet, having a sore back, being cold... and I am sure that there are more but I have blocked them from my consciousness!  When you reflect back on your own life, I am guessing that you won't have to travel very far back in time to come up with your own examples, you might even be uncomfortable right now!  The fact is, physical discomfort is a reality of the human condition.  I would even say that it is inevitable, although using that word makes me uncomfortable (ha!).

An interesting observation that I have made within myself is how readily I seem to attach myself to my feelings of physical discomfort.  My reaction to discomfort has become so ingrained that I actually lose myself in the sensation of it.  I become it.

I become tired.  I become cold.  I become sore.  I become hungry.

In each of these situations, I allow the sensations that I am experiencing to permeate my being, my consciousness.

Notice that I used the word allow.  In other words, I am saying that I am making a choice.  This is important, because it means that rather than allowing, I also have the choice to not allow.

In the last post, I talked about the voice in my head and the inner knowing that lies in my heart.  When a situation arises that causes me to feel uncomfortable, here is an example of how it would typically play out in my head before I understood that it could actually look different.

Let's use being tired as an example.  As I shared earlier, for some reason, this physical sensation is one that really pushes my buttons!

Imagine this.  Let's say that I have a young child (if you have one, you likely already know where I am going with this!)  Imagine that this particular child is not a great sleeper.  In fact, this child loves to stay up as late as possible, wakes up often during the night, gets up early and quite often doesn't nap.  After a few less-sleep-than-usual days in a row, his parents are starting to get really tired.  Then the child has a really bad night because he is getting sick.  For the mom who really hates being tired, this is the last straw...

Ok, enough imagining.  That was me.  This type of scenario has happened to me before.  Several times.  Maybe even more than several.  And each and every time, until quite recently, this type of occurrence was enough to pull me out of my centre.  Actually, quite often it was enough to push me so far out of my centre that I would entertain feelings of despair.  I know what you're thinking.  Despair?  Because she's tired?  That doesn't make any sense!

And I would have to agree with you... now.  But when I was in it, my thoughts, the voice in my head, had taken the reigns and run away with the situation.  Rather than simply telling myself, 'Okay, you're tired, it's uncomfortable, it's no big deal, this too shall pass', I found myself saying, 'I can't get through the day, I am a terrible mom, my child will never sleep, Oh no, now he's sick, it is only going to get worse'.

Do you see where I am going with this?  Our thoughts create our reality.  If my thoughts were telling me that I couldn't do it, the fact is, I couldn't, or I did it but suffered greatly.  By simply waking up to the fact that I could change my thoughts and tell myself that all was well, the truth is, it was.

As of late, we have had a few sleepless nights with Chephren, one out in the backcountry when it was below freezing and he was getting sick with a cold (talk about an opportunity for the voice in my head to FREAK OUT), and then when we got home he spent a few hours of one night coughing so hard that he was repeatedly throwing up.

A beautiful (and cold!) morning in the backcountry

Now, I will admit the backcountry scenario did take me out of my centre a little bit, after all, we were a 6-hour kayak ride from the car and there was literally nothing I could do but wait until the morning and try to keep him warm, dry and comfortable.  I didn't sleep a wink.  But I got through it.  And I learned from it.  And I am grateful for having had the experience.

The night of throwing up?  Easy-peasy.  No dramas.  Didn't sleep much that night either, and I was feeling it the next day as I taught two yoga classes, but I managed to stay in my centre.  As I write this now, I can't help but smile to think about how far the voice is my head has come...

'By choosing your thoughts, and by selecting which emotional currents you will release and which you will reinforce, you determine the quality of your Light.  You determine the effects that you will have upon others, and the nature of the experiences of your life.'  ~ Gary Zukav from 'Seat of the Soul'

Shanti, Om.


P.S.  I know that you probably don't want to hear this, but I think that I might have one more post about this topic in me.  Stay tuned for Part IV...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Discomfort Continues: Part II

So yes, the backcountry trip.  With only a five-day turnaround planned between the Vancouver trip and the backpacking trip, I was already uncomfortable and I hadn't even packed!  I had committed to the trip on a last-minute whim when I heard that my good friend Darcie would be joining in on the last half of the 'Mega-hike' - a 9-day backpacking trip planned by my other good friends Mo and Jody (affectionately called MoJo).  First of all, let me just say that to refer to them as my 'good friends' is quite an understatement.  These girls are like my sisters.  Earlier this summer we even named ourselves 'The Four Directions'.  I just couldn't bare the thought of leaving them a direction short... lest they end up walking in circles!  Haha.  I jest, but seriously, it was an opportunity that I felt I couldn't turn down.

I had agreed to the backpacking trip prior to the Vancouver trip, thinking that it would be fine and that I would 'deal with it later'.  When 'later' arrived the voice in my head shook off some of it's new-found inner yin-like peace and gave me a stern talking to.  After all, didn't I have a responsibility to my young son and my husband?  Didn't I have work to do (I did just start a business after all)?  Didn't my mom, dad, and brothers need me?  Oh no!  I would be out of cell range!  What if something happened?  How would I know?  And ON and ON and ON.  Damn voice.  I wish that sometimes it would just leave me ALONE!

I am used to this voice.  We all have it.  Another way to describe it would be to call it the ego.  I would hazard a guess and say that some people's voices are quite a bit more loud and bossy than others.  Not only does the voice in my head possess both of these qualities, but it has a special knack for giving me a million reasons not to do what is really in my heart.  And what was in my heart was that darned backpacking trip with those three beautiful ladies!

My heart is getting smarter though.  It is learning how to manage that voice.  My heart sat that voice down, gave it a sucker, and told it that we didn't have to do anything for sure.  It told that voice that as a collective, mind, body and soul, we would continue to move in the direction of the trip.  Pack the bags, buy the food, plan for childcare etc.  BUT, it we got a single reason to call it quits, and it was VALID, from both the heart and the head standpoint, we would call it.  The voice seemed satisfied, after all, it had it's mouth full with the sucker.

Again, I am jesting here, but this is kind of exactly how it happened.  I didn't know if I was going to be going on the hike for sure until my boots were on, my pack was strapped to my back and I was walking up the trail, holding the space of the 'fourth'.

Of course, you know by now that I went.  I walked.  I talked.  I packed a big old bag for about 60 kms over 4 days.   And like most trips of this nature, it was wonderful and not-so-wonderful at the same time.  I haven't been on a similar trip since back in 2007... pre-CD (Before Chephren Dax :)  and I was pleased to find that all of my 'stuff' was still in working order.  Of course I did make a few 'rookie mistakes'.  Darcie and I hauled in my awesome single-walled four-season tent and I forgot how to set it up.  I also forgot most of the tent pegs (can you say, all but two?!), and one of our four poles was busted.  Don't worry, I redeemed myself by bringing in a huge lightweight tarp for us to use in case of rainy weather.  Oh, did I mention that I forgot to check if it had any guy-wires to set it up?  It didn't.  Oh well.  It made a good sitting cushion while we cooked under Mo's tarp.

If you have never done it before, backpacking can be quite physically uncomfortable, even if you have your gear sorted out and dialled in.  I mean, think about it, you are hauling around a 50+ pound backpack while you are trekking around in the mountains.  You are going to feel it.  And if you are a pro-star and you are claiming to not feel anything, than keep it to yourself.  My ego can't handle it.

Team MoJo hiked about 80 km before they got to us and they looked absolutely shattered from an exceptionally intense Day 5.  They elected to rest up at the hostel before heading back out onto the trail.  I would have ran for the hills after the day that they had, and I was secretly already plotting to move our party to someplace with hot springs, but those girls are Mountain CHAMPS.  Darcie and I were a bit in awe of team MoJo and decided that we were the Mountain Chimps hiking along with the true Champs.

Now that I am out of the backcountry, sitting in my kitchen, cozy in my warm house, I am reminiscing about what a wonderful trip it was.  This is quite odd, because in direct contrast to this thought, I can remember a few times walking on that trail, my back aching, my bad knee flaring, my hands freezing, and I can remember thinking, 'Oh my God.  When is this trip going to be over?  Why did I sign up for this?'  Ok.  Truth.  I am sparing you many of the more 'colorful' thoughts.

And yet, I would do it again.  In a heartbeat.

You know the expression, 'hindsight is 20/20?'  I say it's bollox!  My judgement has been completely clouded over by the wonderful people I was with, the two-hour lunch in the warm sunshine, bathing in the cool, fresh mountain streams, picking and eating fresh huckleberries, the amazing mountain scenery and all of the pictures in which I am wearing a HUGE grin!

Ah life.  So freaking awesome.

Get out there!  It might be uncomfortable, but often, it's SO WORTH IT!

So much love,


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Getting comfortable with discomfort - Part I

I am back after another brief blogging hiatus.  I have been travelling quite a bit over the past few weeks, my first trip taking me to Vancouver to partake in a 50 hour Yin Yoga workshop with Bernie Clark.  This workshop was transformational.  I know, I know, more about transformation, but as someone who had previously engaged almost exclusively in the world of the more yang-styles of the practice, this workshop absolutely blew my mind!

One of the original 'Yinsters' and a MASTER teacher: Bernie Clark

The theme of the week for me was 'getting comfortable with discomfort'.  Yin yoga is a style of yoga where you perform a relatively few number of postures and hold each of them for a long time.  It is done mostly on the floor and a lot of props are often used to help you stay supported in the pose.  The main idea is to get the muscles to fully relax so that you can exercise the joints and connective tissues of the body.  What does it feel like?  Well, it feels like whatever part of the body you are targeting is in traction!  And if you have never had traction, well, it is kind of like having braces.  If you haven't had either, well you must be perfect and not need yin yoga.  No, I am just kidding.  Yin yoga is for everyone, and for those of you who have never experienced anything like it, the sensation that you are trying to create is a bit of a dull, achy sensation.  In other words, its a bit uncomfortable.

But this is only the physical side of the practice.  This style of yoga also has energetic benefits.  It works to unblock the energy meridians of the body -- the same ones that acupuncture and acupressure work on.  One of the catch phrases in Yin is that we all have 'issues in the tissues'.  This is alluding to the fact that we store emotions in our body as energy and when we unblock these meridians, these emotions come bubbling up again.  This is creates a wonderful opportunity to release this stored energy, which is very good for us, however, it can be quite uncomfortable.

What is more, Yin yoga also has many benefits for the mind.  Given how still you are for most of the practice, it is quite meditative in nature.  Again, this practice is quite rigorous in that it is asking you to quiet the mind amidst the relative chaos that is happening in the body - more about getting comfortable with the discomfort.

Not surprisingly, my need to get in touch with my 'Yin-side' (haha, no pun intended, but it is funny, get it?  In-side?) spilled out into the rest of my trip.  I felt like I was being tested - as if the Universe was saying, 'so you want to be more Yin do you...'  For starters, we had to get up each day at 5:30 in order to get to the sessions on time.  I am not a morning person and I typically to do not enjoy getting up so early.  Okay, that is a HUGE understatement.  Being tired is one sensation that I loathe and waking up after so few hours of sleep (I was staying with two friends and we tended to stay up LATE) would normally send me into a state of complete and utter panic.  This has been the case since I was a young child, and my family learned to steer clear of me in the morning lest they say the wrong thing or look at me the wrong way.  For me, being tired, especially first thing in the morning when my blood sugar is so low, is very uncomfortable.

I would be lying if I said that I woke up each day with a huge grin on my face, but I did manage to keep myself calm, cool, and collected.  My only incidents were on the first day where I nearly threw up as I was signing in at the studio (darn low blood sugar), and nearly knocking myself out as I left the house one morning, but otherwise, I simply took deep breaths into my low belly and rode out the discomfort I was experiencing.  I was surprised at how quickly the discomfort surrendered into ease.

More tests arose throughout the week, needing to sit on the floor for long periods of time, doing a lot of walking in shoes that had no business doing so, sharing a small space with two lovely gals and not getting on each others nerves and more.  In the end, I have to say that it was all much, much easier than I thought it would be.  I had a lot of fears going into the week, many of which turned out to be unfounded.  As I said at the beginning of this post, overall it was a great experience.  I learned a TON of information that I will be integrating in both my classes at the studio and my retreats in Nordegg.

Myself and my two beautiful travelling companions and roommates: Krista and Melanie

As Bernie would say, 'Yin is IN'... and I would have to agree!

Much love,
MareBare xoxo

P.S. If you want to know more about where I took this course: click here:
Semperviva Studios in Vancouver, BC

P.P.S Stay tuned for Part II of this post (coming soon) -- I took my new Yin-self into the backcountry with three beautiful gals!