The arrival of the New Year during the winter, when the natural world lies dormant for at least another two months, has always seemed strange. My Vata/Pitta constitution in particular suffers from the cold and dry season, but the urge to hibernate indoors and alone gives me more time to reflect and recalibrate, which I've been doing this week, while nursing a post-vacation cold.
Who gets a cold after a relaxing and fun week of sunshine and surf? People whose bodies are resisting going back to burning the candle at both ends. And if you've been reading these posts for years or paying attention to what we've been up to for the last five months, you'll not be surprised by my admitting that I'm yet again skirting the edge of burnout.
One of my Beloved teachers shared a story many years ago when I recognized that I was stuck once again in a destructive loop: One day, you are walking down the road and you fall into a hole. You shout and rage and curse and it takes you ages to get out. Some time later, you are walking down the road and again, you step into the same hole. This time, you skip the drama and get yourself out. Another time, you are walking down the road and you remember the hole; you walk around it. Eventually, you take another road.
We are all of us going to fall into holes. In Yogic terms, this is how we work with samskaras or the impressions of our past actions. Sometimes described as grooves in the mind, samskaras are the accumulated result of our habits and altering them requires intentional effort (tapas) and begins with awareness (purusha).
With this particular pattern of mine, spending more energy than I save and paying the price, I seem to be somewhere between remembering the hole and stepping in. It’s not perfection, but it is progress and being aware of the effects of my actions, even after the fact, helps to prevent a spectacular crash and burn. Instead of wasting precious energy beating myself up for falling into the trap of over-doing, I'm having a good laugh at myself and putting into practice all the tools that I've accumulated over the years. Most of them Ayurvedic, all of them simple and practical, none of them requiring much thought beyond remembering that, oh yeah, I know how to take the best care of myself, I just have to do it.
It's no accident that maitrī is the heart of my teaching and our community. We not only teach what we need to learn, but when our teaching is sourced from the trials and triumphs of our own lives, it possesses a particular resonance and relatability. That we can be our own best caregiver is where the practice of lovingkindness (maitrī) and Ayurveda intersect, and this month, I'll be launching a new course that integrates my years of learning and living these principles and practices.
“Ayurveda for Every Body: Study Sessions and Simple Meals” is an opportunity to learn an approach to living well that respects your body, works with instead of against your natural tendencies, and empowers you with practical solutions for self-care. Known as the "sister science" to Yoga, Ayurveda emphasizes balance and harmony; once you understand the basic principles you will be able to apply them to key areas of your life to understand what is truly best for YOU. There is no one-size-fits all recipe for health and in our interactive sessions, you will learn how, by understanding the interplay between your individual constitution and the cycles of nature, you can optimize your diet, sleep, schedule, and overall energy while minimizing stress, mood swings, depletion and burn out. Plus, we will will share a delicious, Ayurvedic meal that you will be able to easily make again at home. You’re welcome to get the full benefit and take the whole series, or drop in for your favorite sessions. Either way, I’m thrilled to explore together new roads that can support us all to live well and love our lives.
Last week, we made Vision Boards at our monthly Women's Circle. I was delighted to find a cutout that said "A Glorious Failure" and I glued it on to my board, in between a colorful picture of Tibetan singing bowls and a stretch of coast with ripples of waves. I don't know what exactly this phrase refers to, but I do know that failure is part of the game. The problem is not falling into the holes along the road, it’s how we respond to them. So much of what we are up to at Mytree is about refining our responses and discovering new routes to guide us through the universal territory of being human. This new year, I hope you will join me in not only paying attention to the bumps (and holes) along the road, but in welcoming, with kindness for ourselves and each other, the glorious failures.