Yin/Yang and in pajamas ’til noon

Good Tuesday morning to everyone from our Little House in the Big Woods, one-quarter mile from the lapping waves of Lake Superior.  The autumn colorful show ends quietly; a few green and yellow and red leaves still flap on branches, awaiting the next wind.

I, too, am feeling so quiet lately.

Whenever a creative outburst of possibility flares in the thoughts, I smile and gently say, “No.”  Not yet.  Now is now the time for big outward movements. Now is the time for inner nurturing.

You’ve all heard of the Yin/Yang circle of life, yes? 

In Asian philosophy, Yin Yang suggests how polar opposites or seemingly contrary forces are interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other in turn.

The circles describe the energies of life:  how they rise, how they fall.  You can envision that all things we usually think of as opposites (day/night, summer/winter, happy/sad and three thousand other examples) are really just two sides of the same coin, dancing eternally together.

In reality, we often forget this.  Thus, we perhaps think that we should always be “doing” something, instead of celebrating the other half of the circle which is “being”.   We imagine we should always be creating, instead of nurturing the silence out of which true creation arises. 

Our human brains sometimes seem programmed to think in black and white, for easier processing.  Yet we all know that life shimmers in rainbow colors (not just shades of gray) and that so many movements that perhaps we reject in our daily life might serve to balance and heal us.

Autumn fern magic

I’m in my quiet phase.  The dark of the circle.  The creative talker may not monopolize the day.  The quieter reflective one arises and moves with her own rhythm.  The creative talker may join a neighbor for lunch so she is not left feeling too ostracized.

I have been quite content this past week.  Even though the thoughts/feelings may protest, have been doing yoga regularly.  Three to four times a week.  I do slow yoga.  You know how slow?   You time your movements with your breath, and if you are breathing very deeply and quietly, a single movement may last a half-minute.  The Sun Salutation can go on until sunset.  (Just kidding!)  But it can last a while.  That’s why you have to do part of your yoga routine and then eat breakfast.  Then go back and do another segment.  You can be in your pajamas until noon.

Breakfast this morning:  leftover long-grain brown rice heated just slightly.  Topped with chopped apples, almonds, and a sprinkle of coconut.  I have always had a tendency to eat fast.  Last week, I noticed how the spoon enters the mouth filled with delicious food and then scoops up another spoonful before the teeth have time to chew.  So I have been insisting that the spoon wait until the food is thoroughly enjoyed before seeking the next bite.  Not only does the stomach appreciate this, mealtimes seem more lovely.  Do try it if you’re a fast eater, too.

Gate of cemetery mausoleum

As many of you know, I have been meditating since 2003.  Learning to slow down and be present in the moment.  It was mostly book-learnin’ until maybe eighteen months ago when I met an honest-to-goodness meditation teacher and was given some good advice. 

It has been very hard to focus attention on the breath, to stay with the breath, to be utterly present to the breath.  Every bone in my body (along with some atoms) staged rebellion.  The local Anishinabe (Ojibway) called me Rainbow Eagle Woman.  (Naquobmigesiquay.)  My tendency is to fly way up high in the sky, viewing the largest possible view.

The breath seemed the opposite of the largest possible view.  The eagle comes from the eastern direction.  The small animals–chipmunks, mice, insects, squirrels–are represented by the southern direction, a view which encompasses the immediate, the right-here-now, the little details.

Single fern

Only recently, after all these years, am I able to be present enough to the breath to allow it to change this life, to transform it.

I recommend meditation as a path to gaining more insight, peace, and joy.  (Although, be forewarned, it is also a path destined to wash away although that is no longer needed, all that prevents us from being fully and totally ourselves.  Therefore, it is not always FUN.  Sometimes moving through our personal debris can be very painful.  But the fruits of insight, peace and joy and equanimity will grow.)

Equanimity brings us back to that Yin/Yang circle.  It is the ability to be with what arises without going absolutely crazy, following our million & one thoughts and feelings and habits all the way to China and back in one half hour. 

From the slowness of this northwoods day, to your own day in the circle of life, I wish you your deep heart’s greatest desire.

Until the circle of life brings us back together once again…

Yin Yang tree

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33 responses to “Yin/Yang and in pajamas ’til noon

  1. Oh Jammie’d Kathy, breath always brings us together. I bless your quiet. I bless the golden leaves shining down around you. I praise you for honoring this quiet time. Thank you for this beautiful post. You brought me back to my heart, where I belong.
    All my love, from your friend to the east, Suzi of the 3 Eagles Flying High

    • Suzi of the 3 Eagles flying high! How I love that. Shall we swoop together between the clouds, driving toward our Lake Superior with gusto and joy?

  2. Slowly inhaling through my nose with you
    Slowly exhaling through my mouth with you

    Slowly, ever so slowly, inhaling to the count of 4
    Slowly, ever so slowly, exhaling to the count of 8

    Ahhhhh, it’s good to be in the circle with you.

  3. I am NOT in a circle! I am a ZIG ZAG dashing thru the sky to the still eagle, perched, and observing a leaf rustle, where a chipmunk just darted…..lifting feathers talking back to the wind calling me to the warm direction of the sun…hold…do you SEE that drop of sap reflecting? weeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee

  4. Pingback: Another Manifesto for Tuesday October 18, 2011 | Laundry Line Divine

  5. Thanks for the reminder, Kathy. Finding a balance is the tricky part for me. I’m doing an 8 week program called Managing Pain Mindfully. One of the parts to our homework was to eat one meal mindfully this week. Every meal came and went before I remembered to eat mindfully. Usually, I read or blog while I eat. It’s such a habit. Hopefully, I’ll remember to do it this coming week. Hope you have a blissful day. I’m off to the weekly meeting later today. :)

    • Oh Marianne, isn’t finding a balance such a challenge? I, too, have discovered that multi-tasking really does not help mindfulness and peace one bit. Hope you really enjoy your program and discover many new things.

  6. Peaceful greetings to my quiet, thoughtful friend in the north woods. It’s good to see you are well, I was wondering about you and decided late last night that I would check in with you today. You beat me to it!
    I used to do the breathing meditation and guided imagery nearly everyday but have gotten away from it the past couple years. Perhaps it’s time to resume as I have been feeling quite “edgy” lately. The mindful eating is something I always do, I’ve always been a slow eater, which drives my sister crazy because she is a fast eater and is always in a hurry. I think she and Elisa would have great fun zig zagging around us! :)
    Thank you for the reminder to allow the quiet side.
    By the way, I was in my jammies till noon today too…just felt right on this cold, windy, gray day. :)

    • It’s interesting, Brenda, how we can get away from practices which have helped us so much. I have gotten away from yoga on a daily basis, but am trying to get back to it. Meditation is something I can’t seem to move away from. It feels too close to my heart.

  7. What a profound post… I too practice meditation… with the emphasis on ‘practice’, i.e. not necessarily ‘getting it right’! Calming the monkey-mind, as the Buddhists like to call it, seems like a daunting prospect some days.

    It is good to spend time with you like this… breathing more slowly…

    I am amazed and touched that you have an Anishinabe name… and I’m sure there is a story behind that…

    Thank you for finding the right words and images to share your quiet inward-looking phase with us, Kathy.

    • yep, it surely is practice, Reggie. I’m not sure that there is such a thing as “getting it right”. Maybe it’s just a matter of returning to the breath again and again and again and did I say again? LOL. And, yes, there is quite a long story involved with that Anishnabe name. I think I blogged it all once. Should try to find it sometime.

  8. In pajamas until noon? I can’t remember when I’ve had THAT luxury!
    I’m a fast eater, too…. I think it’s because moms learn to eat fast if they want a hot (or even warm) meal ;-)

    • Michaela, I have never been a jammie-til-noon person. Never! It’s only because jammies are like sweat pants, and you can’t wear jeans when you do yoga. I am afraid someone is going to come to the house one of these mornings. Of course, on work days this would NOT be possible.

  9. I’m reading your post after a busy day – fun, but tiring. Your writing about the Yin/Yang is a good reminder to me. I am often out of balance in the two areas. My mind runs ahead, and I’m left exhausted. It would seem that focusing on the breath would be simple, but it seems to require daily practice.

    • Yes, Barb, I find that it requires daily practice, too. It is never ending. If we don’t watch out that racing mind races to the forefront and we’re lost in its exciting crazy movements. Balance is a good thing…

  10. Thanks for this and all your other posts on meditation. I’ve yet to sit and meditate as a ritual of sorts, but I find it helps me get to sleep, and I even use the techniques while running. It’s good to be fully in the moment, even if it takes a surprising amount of effort!

    • You would think that being in the moment would be a simple easy thing, yes? But, like you say, it takes practice and effort and commitment. But its fruits are SO worth it!

  11. I needed this tonight. Namaste.

  12. Good reading. Wish I had time to relax! LOL!

    • Hmmm, I could have sworn that I replied to you last night. The computer must have munched the comment. **smile** I wish you had more time to relax, too.

  13. Kathy, appreciating the peace and stillness here. And as always, you.

  14. Quiet times are precious… Your breakfast sounds very healthy and appetizing – lately I’ve been trying to slow down while eating, too…

    • We are in synch, Barbara! I am delighted to hear that you, too, have been trying to slow down while eating. It seems to work best when I’m eating alone. when Barry’s present, it’s easy to get absorbed in the conversation. Do you find that the same? Or do you always eat meals with Tim?

      • We usually have one meal a day together. I think eating fast started for me in school – we had so little time for lunch and much of it was wasted standing in line in the cafeteria. Then it was a rush to eat as much food as possible before being sent out for recess. By the time I got home from school I was starving and wolfed down my dinner. Even though the need to eat fast is no longer there it remains a habit I’m finding difficult to break.

        • I’m finding it difficult to break, too. Must remind myself again and again. It’s interesting how we oftentimes learn this early and then it’s a hard habit to break.

  15. Great post Kathy. I started meditating a few years ago but I dont do it regularly, just as I don’t do my yoga practice regularly. Whenever I try to do yoga at home I zip through the exercises in minutes. Gotta learn to slow down. I eat too fast too. My Mr F has barely started eating and I’m finished my food. I-will-eat-slowly-at-dinner-tonight- – -

    I’m also intrigued to hear that you have an Anishinabe name.

    • Rose, I find it is SO easy to quit the rhythm of daily yoga, and am trying to find a balance between excessive yoga & not-enough yoga. What seems to be working is doing the “easy” daily sunrise salutations really slow for about ten minutes. We can fit in ten minutes, can’t we? When it seems hard to fit in twenty. Then, maybe a few times a week I’ll do the entire routine which is probably an hour. Breaking it up in between times.

      Maybe I’ll share the Anishinabe name story again some day.

  16. Pingback: Ma in her kerchief and I in my cap had just settled down for a long winter’s nap… « Lake Superior Spirit

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