Hello, sweet friends!
I hope you’re feeling grounded and getting your 2018 off to a strong, clear start.
We just celebrated the New Moon, too, and I spent a few hours with a group of women, in circle, with candles around our altar as we shared what we need to shed and digest in order to move forward. It felt yummy and supportive, but also edgy as we each bravely spoke about our challenges and fears.
I released (again and again a thousand times) the grief and anger I’ve felt through the initiation into motherhood. Hello, intensity.
I shed any shame around the difficulty of the transition and early challenges in bonding with Fern.
I let go of blaming my body for what didn’t happen.
I surrendered my expectations about control and being in command in exchange for getting support and trusting my focus and flow.
One of the things I loved about attending this women’s circle was the sense of ceremony, or a rite of passage from one year into another. A marking of time. We talked about how devoid of rites of passage and ritual our culture can be. Our body, like the moon, goes through phases and seasons. Our body, being a part of Mother Nature herself, knows.
May this list support you through your own knowing, digesting and healing.
graduation (yours or your child’s)
relocation or new home
new job or career path
marriage or divorce or dating someone new
In Yoga philosophy, we look at navigating these important life experiences as a process of digestion.
And yes, I chose to call them New and Different in this blog title instead of F-ING SCARY. Just know it’s so ok if you’re experiencing fear, rage, grief, confusion as well as the joy. Whether these were choices you made or they felt ‘made for you’ it’s important to take care of yourself through it all.
Any time life pivots we need to process.
In the Prana – Agni – Mala Model, we learn that we need vital energy, or prana, and digestive heat, agni, to purify and process that which we consume – food, water, air, thoughts, emotions, experiences – and eliminate what’s waste. If we don’t digest and eliminate properly we can accumulate the mala or waste inside our system physically or in our consciousness, and it can lead to heaviness in our body or energy, fuzziness in our focus, discomfort and over the long-term, disease.
One of the simplest ways to understand ‘digesting’ an experience means we’ve learned something in the process.
Many of you know how much I LOVE helping y’all get regular bowel movements – go here for digestion support – but today I’ll be talking about the more subtle digestion needed for processing these life experiences and transitions.
Top 5 Tips for Navigating the New and Different
1 – Get Back to Basics
When we go through massive life transitions, it can be helpful to keep our expectations in check – i.e. go easy on ourselves if we’re not also mastering business, parenting, relationships, our daily workout dropped away and our house isn’t anywhere near spotless. Trust that some of these routines or expectations can simply wait and get back to meeting your basic needs with impeccable care.
What are you eating and how can you streamline or batch your food prep so you have quick, nourishing meals on hand?
Do you have easy access to a pitcher of filtered water or hot, cozy teas so you’re hydrated?
How can you safeguard the sacred hours of sleep so you can get enough rest?
Can you shift expectations for your workouts from pushing to nourishing? How can movement help you through this?
Life transitions and learning happen on all levels – body, mind, psyche, relationships – and often warrant foods that are easy to digest, lots of water and warm drinks, regular meal times (to help stoke your agni, digestive fire), plenty of sleep – maybe even more rest than you’re used to getting.
Make your home and basic routines a sanctuary. Take good care of yourself and let some other things be on autopilot or ‘maintenance mode’ for now.
2 – Breathe
Each breath is a mirror of this digestive process. We inhale, consuming the air from the space around us – the outer world enters us. The body goes to work allowing certain gases to cross the threshold in and out of our blood stream – from air to liquid and back to air – how cool is that?! And then the all holy exhale dissipates and releases that which we no longer need.
Continual, constant balance – recalibrating with each breath.
This practice of breath awareness is with us all day and night. You have approximately 20,000 opportunities each day to release!
Also, when we feel stress our breath can become shallow or quicker – so becoming mindful of your smooth, slow breathing cycles can help you calm the mind and get back to clarity. (If, during your rising anxiety, focusing on breath makes it worse, try taking a walk in nature or dancing instead.)
Take a few breaths now, breathing out through your mouth like blowing gently toward a candle flame in your mind – try not to have it flicker very much at all. Slow, steady, quiet exhales until you reach the slight pause at completion.
3 – Watch Your Inner Storyteller
We often replay parts of our experience over and over again, and when we recount negative experiences, they can get amplified in our minds, sometimes even shifting the truth into a deeper wound. Other times, our mind will have plenty to say about how well we performed through the event or how much we suck at life (usually the latter) due to the negativity bias of our mind wanting to help us stay put, safe and in homeostasis. Change takes consciousness.
See if you can cultivate the ability to witness your story and the feelings associated with it, practicing nonjudgment. One way that I do this is to press pause mentally, slowing down the reel so I can take one frame at a time.
Can you watch or listen to this inner storyteller without reacting? No attachment, no aversion. Simply observe.
Can you notice how your thoughts inevitably will move on and change? This is as much a practice of impermanence.
4 – Get Support
Tough stuff can be isolating.
Make sure you reach out to the people you trust most and share with those you know can hold space and love on you. I love Brene Brown’s work on vulnerability, and when we first start to share our intimate self we want to be sure we will be held and carried through it wisely by our witnesses. Use discernment and trust when certain relationships call to you heart and others fall away.
And if you’re feeling hopeless or in need of a safe place, reach out to a medical or mental health professional.
5 – Dig For The Gold
One of the best ways to digest our experiences is to learn from them. I seem to have been wired this way my whole life, even had a college professor say to me once, “It’s all about growth for you, isn’t it?” When I feel an aversion to something or someone, I often feel compelled to learn more, to move closer or do the thing that I feel averse or scared to do.
The parts that hurt the most can potentially bring the most healing.
I use journaling and my running practice and time in nature to help me get new perspective or insights on the Inner Storyteller I talked about earlier. When we’re caught in the story it can feel like it’s the only reality and we are trapped. When we step away, make space, use our movement practice or get into a new place, like traveling or even just finding a new coffee shop, it can help shed some light on the story to help us see.
May you find and cherish the gold that you mine for through this transition.
What transition or experience are you digesting?
Which of these tips feels like a salve, a soothing reminder?
I’d love to hear from you in the comments and offer you support.
I’m here to witness you and all you’re becoming.