June 21, 2021: Living in Rhythm

Today is the solstice. So if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, it is the light and life of summer in which you are welcoming. And if you are in the Southern Hemisphere, it is the darkness of winter to which you release. Either way, it’s a reminder that life is cyclical — full of shifting rhythms, energies, and forces.

And, as Meghan recently wrote, what we acknowledge in each sun salutation: 

We inhale, reaching the arms up in a gesture of prayer.
Then dissolve with the exhale, bowing to the moment as it unfolds.

So no matter where you are as part of that cycle, we hope you take a moment to honor just that.

The Fruit of our Efforts

The pea vines are starting to climb, the beans are a few inches tall, and the peppers I started in March (now in the hoop house) finally have flowers.

Last year, around this same time, my garden was much more robust. Peas were blooming and broccoli was being harvested. It was all very rewarding and I’m sure I took all the credit. “Look how good I am at this farming thing,” should have read my caption in my Instagram stories. 

But this year has been a strange one. We skipped spring and went right from a snowy May into a full on summer heat. Today will be 90. My poor broccoli never had a chance before It already bolted. Meanwhile, everything else had to wait until now. So if my garden looks a bit meager – it is. Definitely underwhelming. 

Kind of like my yoga practice, come to think of it. Nothing to write home about (or post about) there. Then again, conditions this year haven’t exactly been optimal for that either. I’ve had to work a lot harder and to achieve a lot less.

I know, I know — it’s not about achievement. It’s not the fruit of our efforts that counts. But I’m human. I know my practice is not defined by the asana. Any more than the size of my plants defines me as a gardener. But I have my moments. As I’m sure you do too. 

It’s hard not to feel disappointed in years like this. Even judge ourselves unfairly: Like – look how crappy I am at this farming or yoga thing. Which you and I both know isn’t true. Pandemic or no pandemic, some years are just like this. 

Nothing is linear. Everything progresses in cycles. It all ebbs and flows. We have babies. And jobs. We get older. Or hurt. Or just stop feeling the need for a physically intense practice. We take breaks. We come back. We forget. We remember. 

But also, sometimes our idea of practice just expands, or changes. Actually, THAT is progress. 

Like gardening has become a practice for me — an outgrowth, if you will, of what we do on our mat. I have my daily ritual of watering and weeding. I check in with my plants, see what they are needing. I notice activity in the air — the birds, the bees, and other bugs. And look to the sky to anticipate weather. All of this reminds me how interconnected and interdependent all of nature truly is. 

How is this not also yoga? 

Though no denying — it’s also a lot of work. Work that I love. There’s something deeply satisfying, while on my hands and knees, working into the soil compost we started back before the pandemic. Compost that’s been cooking all year, even in winter. And some of these seeds I started way back in March — and probably won’t even produce until August. Like my tomatoes. That’s half a year. 

Still, they will be smaller than your store bought. Or those grown in more accommodating climates. Like the asana on a younger or more able body. But you know what? I don’t care. I know the work so I know the worth. For me, every tomato is a labor of love.

And it’s the way I look at my yoga practice as well. It’s one I’ve watered with my own sweat and tears, often on my knees. And it’s means so much more to me than the shapes you can see. Anyway, that’s just a tiny part of it.

True, I have my moments. Especially when I spend too long on Instagram. That social comparison can be wickedly distracting. But I love my practice.  And while it may not look like much to anyone else — to me, it is everything. 

June’s full moon is called the Strawberry Moon for the fruit that is beginning to ripen right about now. Except my strawberry plants all died thanks to this year’s late hitting frost. And so I’ve had to start all over again. Luckily, I’ve had a lot of practice with that — in many areas of my life. 

Just remember, fruit comes in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes it’s bountiful and other times, it might feel a bit sparse. It’s taken me a lot of years to appreciate — some harvests are just like that. 

Not everything is meant to be easy. The very best things in life often require us to invest our own toil and grit, not to mention, an awful lot of patience. Otherwise, they lose their value. And we stop appreciating them. 

But to know the work is to know the worth. And I’d take a strawberry I’ve grown myself over any store bought variety. What we grow by hand will always taste sweeter. 

Philosophy Talk with David Garrigues and Peg Mulqueen

“There is a natural confusion of words, meanings, and conceptual knowledge that arises when one is superimposed upon the other. In distinguishing the three, comes the language of all beings.”

Join David Garrigues and me as we discuss Yoga Sūtra 3.17

Parts of a Whole: A Live Zoom Yoga Class with Meghan Powell

Our yoga practices are a multifaceted experience. Through breath, attention, and movement we dive beneath the surface to uncover the experiences that’s beneath our thoughts.

During this class with Meghan, we will weave together those three threads – letting them connect the practices of meditation, chanting, and āsana. These parts of our practice aiding us – creating space for us – to explore residing intimately within our internal world.

When & Where: July 23rd @3pm EDT on Zoom 

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