Do More Without Doing It All

Today I was dropping my children off at school on my way to get the car fixed before work.  A friend saw me and asked if everything was OK. The overwhelm I felt inside showed on my face. I answered congruently, a newer practice for me, and said, “I am overwhelmed.”

She hugged me and we moved to an area where we could talk. At this moment, I let her in. Just by walking with her, I let her help shoulder my burden, in this experience I could feel clarity and space beginning to open up. I did not realize how clamped down I had become.

As we talked I shared the tasks I was juggling, none were different than anyone else’s, none were life threatening, none were unaccomplishable individually. Together though they were creating a constriction in my solar plexus, the area in the middle of my abdomen right below my sternum which was making my breath short, shallow and fast and beginning to create an ache in my mid back.

After the conversation with my friend ,I had made one decision which eliminated a bit of stress. Though I felt better, I did not feel totally settled. I was at a crossroad. I had a family responsibility to tend to, a personal commitment to my health to uphold and work commitments to follow through on. All of these commitments were colliding to occur at the same time, which made it hard for me to make a decision as I wanted to do them all. I bet you have never felt this way!

To top it off, I bailed on my morning meditation and yoga practice on this day. I had stayed up late the last few nights getting work done and decided sleep was more important than focusing myself. My morning practice is a routine that is grounding for me. In addition to having too many things to accomplish in one morning, I was also more agitated than usual.

For me, clarity often comes with a release: running, crying, vocalizing, biking, other release methods, or an intervention of help (when I allow it and can see it as that). I have spent many years practicing doing it all myself that to ask for help does not even occur to me. Yet when I do ask, or someone asks me, surprisingly I get help and feel better, then my family feels more spacious and work feels easier.

Since practicing somatics (connection between the mind and body: meditation, breath work, body movements, focused bodywork, and paying attention to my internal stories and thoughts) I am able to connect more easily to my body, trust its wisdom to help me understand what I need, and gain clarity on which commitment is most important at that time.

After this conversation, on my bike ride home from dropping the car, before work, instead of stewing, I breathed. As my breath deepened, my shoulders relaxed and I felt more space in my belly. The relief I felt was amazing.

I did not take anything off my plate, I simply occupied myself differently. In this new way of organizing my breath and body, I felt relief. When I let go of the holding that comes with the stresses of life, I take one thing off my list. Holding a contraction in my body takes energy, now that energy is freed up for more generative purposes.

Want this for yourself? I want it for you too!! Invite perspective, the time is now!

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Expansion: set your body and mind free

This morning I attended my daughters Aikido class. Aikido is a Japanese martial art developed by Morihei Ueshiba (1883 – 1969), also known as O-Sensei, or great teacher. Within the context of Aikido, there is a way the children are called to behave. They line up, they sit silently, they bow into O-Sensei, their teacher and each other. They learn about keeping a harmonious amount of space between the people on either side of them and within the entire line of 25 children.

Children are amazingly flexible and resiliant. As they were stretching I noticed their bodies moved more than the adults in the room. Their legs rotated easily in their hip sockets with more range of motion than the teachers, their back was more supple when they bent over, and when they moved, although not as precisely as the Sensei, their bodies were more free, they had more choice. They have not had enough practice in their conditioned ways of shaping themselves to be rigid.

While watching the children move I noticed when they were ‘in their bodies’ they moved effortlessly from center. Center is a place of balance in the body, our center of gravity, which resides about 2″ below the belly button. When the teacher instucted them on something new, they instantly became off balance while they were trying to figure out the movement in their brains. As they practiced, three, four, ten times, they again began to move effortlessly from center.

As a parent, in consciously watching and noticing the difference I ask, how can I set myself and my body free from my automatic, conditioned way of moving/being in the world? In this universe which scientists posit is ever expanding, to be static, fixed, or rigid is to go against the flow of the energy. In order to set myself free, the idea that arises is to practice expansion. Seemingly a hard practice to concretize, but I will try.

Practices to create expansion could include expanding in movement. Say you move slowy or quickly, by consciously moving in a way that is opposite the normal mode of locomotion and NOTICING the difference, you create expansion. You expand into a new way of moving, of being in space, one that is different than yours. In consciously exploring this shift, you create more opportunties for choice. With more choices you increase your capacity or ability to respond to different situations. This increased capacity opens up the space to feel other ways of being which sheds light on your automatic and conditioned ways of being. A question you may want to ask is, do the old ways still serve the future I am moving toward?

Another practice is expanding your vision. Stare, or focus intently on an object in front of you. Now soften your vision and expand what you see. Take in the room around the object. What is the quality of the light? What is the quality of sound in the room? Is the room hot, warm or cold? Did you notice those sensations when you were intently focusing on the object? Now, go back to focusing on the object. Can you sense the light, sound and temperature? If you can, you just expanded your vision, you are in flow with the universe. If you can’t focus intently and sense the light, sound or temperature, keep practicing.

If we live in a comittment to expansion, opportunties to practice present themselves to us. If you need help “moving” differently or “seeing” differently, ask a friend, your partner, your family, or invite perspective. Be like the children, who are free, the universe is calling you to be in flow and expand.

Beet Sunnyseed Quinoa Burgers

Here is a recipe that our family loves. These burgers are very healthy and delicious. I love it because my kids get a ton of veggies and alternative protein sources. They even look like real burgers because of the beets and the greens. Add cheese and your kids might not even know the difference. I serve them with sweet potato fries (hand cut thin, tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper and cooked at 450 degrees until done) and salad. You do need a food processor to make these. Try it your kids will love it!

Beet Sunnyseed Burgers

2 cups raw sunflower seeds

2 cloves fresh garlic crushed and chopped

1 tbs fresh oregano

1 tbs fresh thyme

2 tsp salt

1 medium beet, chopped

1 bunch of beet greens or spinach or chard, chopped

1 cup quinoa, cooked

Olive oil

Rinse 1 cup of dry quinoa, unless it is already rinsed, put it into a pot with 1 ¾ cup water (2 cups water if already rinsed). Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat. Simmer about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In the bowl of a food processor, place sunflower seeds, garlic, oregano and thyme, pulse until finely ground. Add beet. Pulse until beets are finely ground as well. Place food processor contents into a bowl. Add greens and pulse until finely ground, place in bowl. Now add the quinoa and pulse until finely ground and sticky, but not cement, so go slowly and check frequently. Empty contents into bowl with other ingredients and mix together, I use my hands and they get all sticky but everything gets mixed well. Then form them into burgers. Heat a cast iron skillet or any other skillet. Put olive oil in the skillet and then add the burgers. Cook on medium low until brown on one side, flip, add cheese and cover until cheese melts and burgers are done. Enjoy with or without a bun and any other accoutrements you desire.