Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Dealing With It - Yoga Style

In the last few weeks, I have ventured into the new (and sometimes slightly painful) world of yoga.  I know that no matter what soreness I might experience the next day, I find myself looking forward to the time to stretch and hold the poses, breathe and relax while focusing on tensing specific muscles. 

At the end of this last class, we were in our normal relaxation time, but with my rear firmly planted against the corner of the wall and floor, my legs were stretched up the wall.  Letting me legs stretch out to the sides in a V, my muscles initially resisted.  I think there may have been some discussion of mutiny going on in those muscles.  Given time, letting gravity and breathing slowly relax the muscles, the stretch was deepened. 

If I had tried to force that stretch, I would really be hurting and potentially do some muscle damage.  If I didn’t relax into the stretch and let the muscles slowly relax, I wouldn’t achieve that looser muscle feel I was going for. I needed to just let it keep at it, while giving it some time. 

We all have issues we need to deal with, things that stretch us beyond what is comfortable.  We have to deal with them to be able to move on and face the future.  Yet, we cannot always just force ourselves to fully “deal with” something in a particular moment either.  It seems, at least for me, that it comes more in fits and starts.  There is no movement, and then a bit, a centimeter more, then another and another.  Perhaps even plateauing a bit, before being ready to resume; teaching us patience.

Yoga may be working on my core muscles and flexibility.  It is also reminding me that dealing with those tight muscles takes time and effort – so does life.  

Monday, February 10, 2014

Wind Just For Me

Winter in Iowa this year means cold and snowy days, bookended with bright sunshine and bitterly cold wind. Winter does have its benefits when living near the Mississippi River, watching eagles travel the waterway in search of open fishing spots. Almost two weeks ago, the wind had kicked up; making my face freeze in moments, finger tingling and nose chilling whenever I stepped outside. Wind in these cold temperatures where you have to lean into it to move forward; it makes me want to curl up in a warm blanket, in the sun, next to the pot bellied stove with a blazing fire inside of it and a cup of hot coffee inside of me! Heading out for a dentist appointment I had to brave the wind. As I walked from the office to the car in my many winter layers, I was grumbling to myself about the wind. It stung me with gravels and tiny pieces of ice kicking up with the gusts; leaving me digging in my purse for sunglasses to shield my eyes against the incoming micro assaults. 
Walking quickly to get out of the cold, I saw an eagle weaving in and out of the buildings along the road next to the river. A young eagle with wings stretched out fully, twisted into tight turns and then dove toward the earth only to catch the next wind and rocket back up into the sky. Skimming from the tree lines to the ice covered river, and then ascending in wide slow circles, other eagles performed a ballet on the wind. They seemed to only hold themselves ready, moving in faith to catch the invisible wind and trust that it would be there.

Invisible wind and eagle trust; my own thoughts started to catch flight and ascend as well as I continued to feel the wind against my face. It still made my fingers and nose tingle and my face feel frozen and stung. The same invisible wind stinging me was sending the eagles up in acrobatics against rocketing plumes of air. I saw them reach higher and higher, and then dip into dives with agility a pilot would envy, only to move to the next column of air and rise again.  Invisible wind and soaring flights; a thought was hovering on the edge of my mind and slowly built throughout the day.

I am someone who likes a plan.  I have found I can run with changes, but I prefer to know what the end game is.  Okay – the end game and all of the steps along the way.  In detail – copious detail…. When change comes without any of these things, I feel more like I have been tipped into the open space with the eagles, only with no wings and no wind. The thought of invisible wind and eagles grew in my mind, uncurling and suddenly it was a full thought; that wind was for me! That wind that stung my face suddenly held all the promise of summer as I heard the still small voice come back to me.  “Do you not know?  Have you not heard? ...They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

Winds in life have been stinging lately.  They have kicked up debris and flung them about, stinging my face and making everything so very cold.  Where is spring; where are the soft warm breezes?  Where is the comfort and ease from the gusts that will knock me over?  And then, leaning into those very gusts, cold and harsh, I find myself celebrating them!  The wind – it’s for me!  It is my reminder in the midst of these difficult cold days of eagles spiraling on pillars of invisible air, my reminder that they are not merely  catching hasty moments in the air – they are soaring!
Invisible wind and my invisible God; they can both cause stings as I am lifted higher and higher on invisible mountains to new heights.  Let me lift up and stretch out my wings and soar. 

Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,"My way is hidden from the Lordmy cause is disregarded by my God”?
Do you not know?
Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God,the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary     and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary,and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. 
They will soar on wings like eagles; 
they will run and not grow weary,    
they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40: 27-31