This installment is more of an update on our living situation than related to yoga, but several of you have been asking for the next post, so here it is! We have now been living on our property for one month exactly. So far, we are clean, dry, well-fed, and have cleared about one-third of our acre. The first part of that has been challenging, as the Big Island experienced about 18 days of straight rain, beginning the day we moved into the tent. The type of rain that fills a 50-gallon barrel every day. Sigh. Though we average a high amount of rain and live in a temperate climate zone, I’m glad that storm front has passed…I was tempted to build an ark rather than a house! Staying dry became an art form and we wear mud boots more than slippers. Did we regret our decision to move out of the rental house at any point? NO!
In addition to the rain, last week the boys were sick…like throwing up, running to the toilet type of sick. In a tent, in an 18-day downpour. Without running water or a washing machine or a flushing toilet. Though I try to avoid using bleach, THANK God for Clorox wipes, rubberized mattress protectors, a floor that can be easily wiped down and extra sheets! That illness lasted about three days, and unfortunately, it triggered Kaeden’s acid reflux which has been dormant for six years. About an hour into his sleep cycle, he would roll over and projectile vomit all over the bed while half-asleep. One time he left a pool of vomit a single INCH away from his sleeping brother’s face. I wish I had taken a picture. After three nights of that, I realized that he had recovered from the flu and was experiencing acid reflux, so that’s now under control, too. Whew!
Clearing the property has been the easy part. And I’ve determined that I enjoy using a machete, which was novel to me. In fact, I much prefer using a machete to normal housework, hands down! It’s like a pressure valve for frustration and irritation, and makes it easier to live with three males, in a tent, in downpour conditions. Lol. Overall, the transition from living in a house to camping has been fun and easier than I anticipated. I enjoy working outside with my family, building things and gardening, reading both to the boys and to myself for hours each day, playing more games, going to sleep when it gets dark and rising earlier in the morning, hiking the property and planning our house and orchard, eliminating TV and reserving the boys’ screen access to the times I’m in class, and enjoying the vastness of the stars on a nightly basis. Our day most closely mirrors the natural rhythms of the day than it ever has, and other than the boys’ bout with the flu, we’re all healthier than we have been in a long time…in fact, with these changes in routine, this is the first time since the kids were born that the effects of hypothyroidism haven’t overwhelmed me on a daily basis!
So how can I tie this into yoga? Easy! In order to make progress, we must practice consistency. One of my favorite passages from the yoga sutras is verse 1.30, which is one of the most concrete passages in the entire 196 verse collection, which if you’re familiar with the paradoxical and open-ended nature of the sutras, is quite rare in this book. This verse points out obstacles that you will very likely encounter at some point in your practice and in your life, many of which I encountered in the past month, but rather than losing faith, motivation or the path, I reminded myself WHY we were doing this and kept on going! “Verse 1.30: There are nine predictable mental obstacles along the path:
These are considered to occur as a domino effect. Allow me to offer a gross overgeneralization: Let’s say you have a consistent yoga and meditation practice that helps you stay sane, healthy and attentive. Then you get the flu and it lasts for an entire week, in that week you don’t practice because you have no energy and feel like crap (#1). You feel dull; it’s difficult to eat, drink and breathe which leads to low energy, mental fogginess and a strong need for sleep (#2). After a week of feeling dull and lacking practice, you begin to doubt the necessity of a regular practice (#3) and become careless about practicing once you recover from the illness, maybe reducing your practice to once per week and without as much attentiveness as usual (#4). This lack of practice becomes a habit (#5), and you become erratic in other self-care practices, such as giving into unhealthy cravings rather than selecting healthful foods (#6), which leads you to thinking that the health habits you had established were not so important to begin with (#7), your quality of health becomes unstable (#8), and the habits you had established have completely disappeared (#9).
While these often occur as a domino effect from #1 on down, that’s not always the case…you may have a proclivity towards one or two of these over the others…mine is doubt, more on that another time.
The “path” mentioned above is your practice, which is defined in a myriad of ways in the yoga sutras, but if you look at the underlying message “practice” is anything you do in order to calm the mind to free yourself from the conditional forces around (and within!) you that then allows you to see and act more clearly. CONSISTENCY is a necessary component of practice. For example, will one bridge pose counter slouched posture that you reinforce every day while sitting at your desk? No! Will practicing bridge pose every day for five minutes help you counter slouched posture? YES! For me, simplicity, organization, and structured flow are necessary for my state of wellness, both on the mat and off…these are the qualities that also pervade my teaching and inspire my parenting style…more on that in the third installment of the Dirty Hippy series.
I encourage you to reflect upon the top three things that are most important to you, then to contemplate what you are doing on a daily basis to continue honoring those priorities. Is there an obstacle that you continually encounter? Is there too much busyness in your life that is draining the time, energy or attention you want to devote to those values? Is there some practice you need to ADD to your daily routine? Sit with those conclusions for a few minutes, set an intention, and then every night before you go to bed, take five minutes, breathe deeply and slowly, and reflect upon your intention. Offer up gratitude for where you are at, what and who you have in your life. Then in the morning, before jumping out of bed and racing to get ready, take five minutes and remind yourself of your three priorities and offer gratitude; perhaps journal about this practice on a daily or weekly basis for the next few weeks and observe what happens.
Hope you are healthy and happy and having a great summer! If you’re in Hilo, I hope to see you in the studio; if you’re on Oahu, hope to see you in July; and if you’re elsewhere in the world, my thoughts are with you!