One Word


Now that I’ve reflected on the previous year, it’s time to think about what I want for this new one.  Some years the inspiration comes quickly and easily.  I rattle off page after page in my notebook of hopes, dreams, ideas, and goals.  The word that I want to guide my year seemingly materializes before my eyes.

Other years, this year, it is crickets.  I was stumped for the first two weeks of the year.  I knew I wanted to continue, and build on, much of what I started last year.  I also knew I needed to tweak some things to really make them work for me.  But for a long time no word came to mind that seemed like it encompassed the feeling I was striving for this year.

Then, in what has become a too rare occurrence in my life, I was spending a morning puttering around in the kitchen.  I was chopping, baking, simmering, and general mess-making away when suddenly I thought, “I really miss being in this space.”

2015 01 21 SpaceThere it was: SPACE.  It just immediately felt right.  That one word seemed to have a way of holding all that I hoped and wished to sustain, build, and change this year.  It felt full of possibility.

I will hold space for my yoga community in both old and new, exciting ways.  I will clear space for new opportunities.  I will reclaim space for cooking, reading, creating, and self-care.  I will makeover my home space.  I will make space for getting out on the town.

Here’s to embracing SPACE in all its myriad forms this year!

Lessons from a Year of Surrender

Nearly a year ago today I revealed my one word for 2014 to be surrender. It wasn’t in the context of giving up but of sinking into the grace of a situation. It was all about taking the part I am good at (abhyasa – putting in the work) and trying to marry it more consistently to the part I stink at (vairagya – surrender and letting go).

When I did my first quick glance back over the year I came to the rather firm conclusion that I sucked at surrender. There was not a single success, not one little moment of surrender to be had in all 365 days of that year. I decided there was nothing to be gained from the whole experience of dedicating a year of my life to that adventure. It was a failure. Let’s move on. {Note: this is clearly not the kind of surrender I was going for.}

Except I know myself too well. When I have such a strong reaction to something I know that there is something simmering below the surface that needs to be examined. So I let it sit and marinate. I attempted to write and re-write where I had been in the past year. It came out all wrong. I tried again. It was still all wrong. I did it again. And suddenly it came to me.

Yes! I had sucked at surrender but I learned a whole lot along the way. It suddenly all became so obvious. So here I share with you the 4 lessons I learned in my year of surrender:

1. It may never be easy but it just might get easier with practice.

The art of surrender was not achieved in a day or a quick weekend intensive. What I noticed were several subtle shifts along the way. My thinking around surrender started very academically. This is what it is. This is how I’ll do it. A little too in my head you might say. Umm, yes! Then around mid-year I started to notice that I would instinctively know the situations where practicing a bit of surrender might be wise. It didn’t mean I was interested in heeding this small voice but I heard it. (More likely than not I’d tamp that voice down and refuse to surrender out of stubborness). Until one day, late in the fall, I really did it. I listened to the voice and surrendered into the flow of one situation and let it ride. It ended up being one of the pieces of 2014 that I am most proud of. Who knew? Not easy but easier. Now the work becomes figuring out how to string more and more of these examples together.

2. Listen to your inner voice.

You know that mind we’re working so hard to quiet in our yoga practice? Now is the time to take advantage of that quiet. Whatever you want to call it – intuition, your gut, your heart, God, god, the universe – take a moment to listen and tune into it. It just might be giving you the best advice you could get. See above.

3. Five minutes – nay 5 seconds – of surrender is a win.

Give yourself a break. When it comes to surrender don’t discount your small victories. You better believe I’m counting the moments where I at least tried to entertain the thought of surrender, the times it lasted for five minutes, and those rare time it lasted for a blissful 5 days. Over the course of a year they’ve added up to something significant and rather impressive.

4. Some words are the work of a lifetime.
Having not checked off a little box on a big list and admitting there is still so far to go are the hardest parts of this little enterprise. But I’m going to trust that my start last year has me moving in the right direction. There will be missteps and restarts but they will be my teachers. I will get there in the end.

Hmm, sounds like I got something out of this one word after all.

{from my kitchen} smoky black bean burgers

Yoga translates as union.  And there is no better example of that in my kitchen right now than these Smoky Black Bean Burgers.  They are the union of two of my favorite recipes: Smoky Black Bean Dip and Veggie Burgers.  I’m not one to turn up my nose at a snack dinner but sometimes you want something a little more wholesome with all the delicious flavors of a snack time favorite.  I think this delivers on all counts.

Smoky Black Bean Burgers, vegetarian recipes

{Truth in advertising – This recipe makes six burgers but I may have eaten two of them before they made it to their photo shoot.  It was an extreme case of post practice hunger fueled by the delicious aromas wafting through my kitchen.  So go ahead, have two….I’d never tell!}

Smoky Black Bean Burgers Recipe Card

May Challenge: Don’t Wait for Someday

 

Someday

Dreaming of someday is nice, isn’t it? Someday I’ll learn photography, to speak French, to make bread. Someday I’ll have clean closets, grown-up furniture, and a gorgeous garden. Someday I’ll travel the world. Someday I’ll have a job I love. Someday I’ll [fill in the blank].

Yet too often someday ends up being our fallback position. It’s safe and easy to stay within our daydream. To hope for the day that the stars align and magically our someday dreams are realized. I’m sorry to say, that sort of magic doesn’t just happen. Our dreams require action.

So my challenge to you this month is this…What big someday dream can you start working on right now? What small steps can you take towards that dream?

Dream of being a master baker? Sign up for an introductory class.
Dream of clean closets? Donate or sell 5 items.
Dream of traveling the world? Start your travel fund.
Dream of a job you love? Join a networking group….and go!

Me? I’m going to find an app that teaches me some conversational French. To prepare for that month I dream of spending in Paris.

I hope you’ll share yours in the comments. I’d love to hear what you’re going to tackle in order to make someday a reality.

{Practice} Gratitude

Welcome back to our Friday ritual!  A moment to pause and practice gratitude, recognizing the seemingly simple and ordinary moments that make up an extraordinarily beautiful life.  I hope that you are inspired to look back on your week and find these moments as well.  Feel free to share your list in the comments.

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This week I am grateful for

* daffodils popping up along the roadside * the deep sense of relief that good news brings * hauling out the ice cream maker for its first run of the season * stories of my nieces that make me laugh every time * putting the winter coat into retirement * opening the windows and feeling the fresh air *

Surrender and Trust

One of the most helpful lessons I’ve had this year in the beauty of surrendering came from an unexpected place.  I was sitting in a session of my advanced teacher training.  It was a class being taught by Masaaki Okamura on the art of assisting students through hands-on adjustments.  We were discussing the finer points of types of assists, how to use them, when to use them, and what to be aware of when entering and exiting a person’s space.

While at first the discussion was quite technical and asana practice based I soon discovered we had made a subtle shift.  Sure we were talking about teaching and assisting but we were also talking about life.  My fingers could not keep up with me as I frantically wrote in my notebook.

It all comes down to this one beautiful summation of what he shared with us.

Trust Your Arc of Time

What does this mean?  Practice {and then more practice} is what builds skill.  Know that you will make mistakes so remain teachable.  You can never know everything.  Savor the small victories.  It all takes time.

When I chose surrender as the word to guide my year it became clear that trust was going to be the mechanism that made that possible.  How to even begin to do that though was beyond my grasp.  Yet somehow this simple statement gave me the permission and reassurance I needed that I could surrender all that I was holding onto so dearly.

It reminded me that I could have my big, huge dreams and goals for what I want to learn, for what I want to teach and share with my students and growing community, and for what I want my life to look like.  It’s setting an intention for all those areas of my life.  I can then allow all of that to take time because it does take time.   Others have done it before me and I can too.  I just have to remember to practice, surrender, and trust.

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