Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Little Silence

There seems to be a theme here.

I received a cryptic and prescient text message from a friend in Colorado last Wednesday. All it read was "slippery elm." I felt that it applied to both the friend I was spending the day with, in Buffalo for a brief time while her show "sat down" at University of Buffalo's Center for the Arts, and to myself. So after seeing if Wegeman's had the little boxes full of magical dissolving lozenges for throat heath, we learned that they didn't, and headed to the Coop.

I took one and let it dissolve on my tongue, a more stubborn part of my self thinking "What do I need these for? I'm not sick.. "

Next morning, after a lovely day spent with my friend I awoke to a tightness in my throat and some pain and laughed. Got up and called to reschedule my early morning session with a client, toddled in my animal slippers ( animal, that is from the Muppet's) to the bathroom where I massaged some sandalwood oil mixed with a carrier oil on my neck and throat, had a cup of throat tea, and took some echinacea and then went back to bed. Woke up a few hours later, no pain. "I licked it!" the competitive, warrior part of me rejoiced.

No more throat pain, but some mild sniffles and breathing difficulty. I had to fill in for a friend, who runs the program in Buffalo for the baby's music class I teach, and duck into her house quickly to pick up something, her house full of boys home with the flu jumping on the couches... I put a shield of wellness around me and ducked out. The girls downstairs me have each had a fever over 102 a week apart. "I'm upstairs." I would tell myself. "I have a killer immune system."

Meanwhile, during my busy days, I would take a few minutes while enjoying a meal to thumb through a yoga magazine. This month was taking about retreats... for all budgets. One right at home, in your own home; or in another city; or the luxurious kind... I was pining for that. Like many I have been feeling that peculiar rhythm of the fall, as things sprint and then halt, and so many new projects are all happening at the same time, leaving you trying to find some balance and breath. "A retreat, that sounds nice."

"And I'm going on one, in mid-December." But it's mid-October, or was last week.

While I've been running around, trying to commune with "she who is not busy" inside, even if everything is whirring outside, there has been a part of me longing to just be home. I really love the nest I've created and I'm looking forward this year to Buffalo's long winter as a time to hibernate and do some deep reflection. Over the weekend I was looking for my keys in my bag and my hand found a little box, "what's this?" I wondered. "Slippery elm... oh good, thing I don't need that anymore!" And my digging and sprinting resumed.

Monday morning. I wake up and do my morning pages, and take a pause to notice that as my internal chatter quiets, my ears prick up and I can hear the music in everything around me. So we speak about listening, tuning in at class. Not only feeling and paying attention to one's breath, but listening to it, its actual sound of the ocean moving through you, curling and uncurling. A similar theme continued in my class that night. Learning to listen to the little voice within, making some space as we clear through the mental clutter and chatter for that much quieter voice, that wisdom that lives within us, the home of "She who is not busy" to come peacefully to the surface. Also noting that when we expand our listening sense, we also aren't ruffled as much. The cars driving by are part of the music, not an interruption. I took a long soak when I got home from teaching, spoke with a friend on the phone for a bit and turned in early.

So yesterday when I woke up and went to speak and sounded like Marge Simpson, I realized my wish had been granted inadvertently. I was on retreat. Now was my time to be quiet. To listen.

As I am writing this, sirens are moving past, and moving through me, I am sending breath to their destination...

The past few days have been a strange gift of a retreat from the universe. Long walks during this glorious fall weather. A nice long soak in the bath. Flannel pajamas and sheets. A much needed respite from the phone, as no one could understand me where I to try and talk on it. Normally I teach on Wednesday nights, but had to cancel due to lack of voice, so instead I actually was able to go take a class. What an amazing experience to listen to and receive and contribute through "audiating" (or hearing sound in one's mind/consciousness) oms and chants without making any physical sound. My voice may be shifting, and there's sometimes a light cough, but my practice was deep and meaningful, and the theme... Michelle's focus for the class was remembering that we already have everything we need inside of us, the internal to the external, letting each sequence originate from within. Closing eyes during many of the asanas, and locating that internal center again and again...

I came home after a restful and rejuvenating practice and made some ginger carrot soup with orange juice and a wild rice dish with veggies. I don't always have the time for slow cooking food in my kitchen, and it was a delightful restorative process.

Through all this I have had a smile on my face, and a lilt in my step. I am enjoying not speaking. Yes I have to sing on Saturday, and I have a rehearsal tomorrow night, but for now I can be in that "retreat" mode, even in the middle of everyday life. Barbara Brennan, author of "Hands of Light" says that "Illness is a pathway back to ourselves." I identify with this phrase. Sometimes it is easy to put more layers on top of the imbalance and blame ourselves for our being sick, rather than noticing that this is a deeper opportunity to come into balance and love and nurture ourselves in thought, word and deed.

So sick or well, see how you can retreat into yourself a bit, walk the pathway back into the self.. find a respite, however brief from the world. Maybe shut off the phone for an afternoon, or even an hour. Make a date with yourself for a bath. Meditate in the music of everyday life and sounds... walking or sitting, doesn't matter. I am going to do my best as I emerge from this real world retreat, to let some of its lessons linger and resonate and continue to surface, the most important one, to take moments each day to be quiet and still.


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