In the home I'm currently caring for, there is a room on the very top floor full of books and a large colourful couch. These books are offered from custom hung shelves that hang from the vaulted ceiling. There are 100's of them, no 1000's. It would take reading for hours every single day for many years to crack each and every binding. Some are large leather bound volumes, others are hard covered texts and many are soft paperbacks. They are presented in a handful of different languages, many of them ancient - English, German, Italian, Tamil, Nepalese, Tibetan, Sanskrit to name a few. The knowledge these books promise is immense. Some are so intellectually dense they cause me great anxiety. Others instil a sense of wonder and intrigue while some are very accessible and inviting. The ones with glittery gold inscriptions on the binding attract my eye and others have such beautiful covers they transport me into another world in a single glance.
For the first month here, I avoided this amazing room as I felt the books would devour me. It felt too easy to get lost in them as in, I'd begin to read and not surface again for a long long while. Even now, months later I've barely opened a cover. I just sit and look at them. In awe mostly. So many words laboured over by so many authors - scholars, academics, doctors, spiritual teachers, some women but mainly men. I now have my altar in this room so I sit here often. Listening and breathing. Hoping to hear some of their words floating in the silence. Sometimes I find myself trying to breathe the words in as if I'm able to absorb all the knowledge this room contains through prana alone or failing that, through some sort of osmosis. I have deep respect for these books and the power of the words within them yet still struggle to crack one open.
Today - finally - a book caught my attention. I opened it. I opened it for a few reasons. In this room full of books whose contents follow a similar spiritual theme, this book stood out. It was a small paperback set aside on an end table by the colourful couch. It's title told me it had little to do with the linked theme the other books share, these related books from far away lands. The author of this book - a woman from this city - Toronto, Ontario. I opened the book to find a poem at the start. Interestingly enough, a poem from another author - a German-born American man. I read the poem and stopped. It's message struck me. I let it sink in. And as it did, much to my relief the anxiety this knowledge-filled room caused me lifted up and away. I realized that somehow, amazingly enough, sitting here in this awesome room full of books, this single poem placed before the contents page in this seemingly out of place book managed to give me the message I needed to hear most.
It's message to me helped me understand I don't need to read the contents of any of these books. It reminded me of something I already knew. Rather than sitting here and reading to gain knowledge from these books, I must simply go out and truly LIVE my life. And through fully living my life and making brave choices and staying true to my path, I'll learn in my own way what these books have to teach me.
Metta to all!
the laughing heart
by Charles Bukowski
your life is your life
don't let it be clubbed into dank
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you
know them, take them.
you can't beat death but
you can beat death
and the more often you
learn to do it,
the more light there will
your life is your life.
know it while you have
you are marvellous.
the gods wait to delight
Restorative yoga is a fabulous practise to include in your busy life or to complement your regular active yoga practice or fitness regime. The 4 reasons mentioned are only a few of the amazing health benefits to this style of yoga which is typically passive in nature rather than active. This style of yoga If Restorative Yoga is new to you, it's a very healing practice that allows your body-mind to unwind, distress and heal.
Many props - bolsters, blocks, straps, blankets, the wall, the floor - are used to support your body during postures. Your body should feel 100% supported by the props during postures so it can relax more fully & completely. The props are strategically placed in each posture to open different areas of your body. As your body relaxes as fully as possible over the props and into the effects of gravity, the area being targeted is gently stretched and slowly opened. I usually recommend not surpassing 50-60% of your maximum stretch capacity in any given posture so it may be held for a more restorative duration. Each restorative is often held 5 to 20 minutes long depending on the pose. However like any practise, to begin you may stay in postures a shorter period of time at a stretch capacity closer to 30-40% of your maximum then over time build to longer holds with a stretch that is closer to 50-60% of your maximum. This does vary for each individual. In any case, if the amount of stretch you are getting in a posture disrupts your ability to rest deeply, it's too much.
Throughout this practise, deep rest is desired. Yet the rest is a conscious relaxation wherein your body is resting as deeply as possible and you are mindful of your breath, aware of the changing nature of sensations in your body while you stay in the posture. In others words, you're not sleeping. But not to worry, falling asleep in these postures can happen easily especially if you are sleep deprived. Also because here in the West, typically the only time we give our bodies a chance to rest is when it's bedtime so we naturally associate rest with sleep. Again the more you practise conscious relaxation within restorative postures, the more accessible it becomes.
Most yoga studios are starting to understand the importance of including restorative yoga to their roster of classes. As a result, it's becoming easier to find throughout the city. If your life has been running at a full pace, if you are a city dweller constantly bombarded with noise, bright lights & stimulus or if you are recovering from illness, injury or have limited mobility, give restorative yoga a try. It will reduce stress responses, help you heal and balance out the busy-ness!
I look forward to sharing and exploring more about how awesome restorative yoga and other healing practices & modalities can be for maintaining optimum wellness ! If you are interested in training or taking yoga classes or thai massage courses with me, you can learn more here: http://bit.ly/1SL4whQ
©Metta Movement Arts/RestoraTHAI