Memento Mori

Memento_Mori_by_GodfridHere’s what happened on the day of June’s full moon—a day my yoga studio closes to allow practitioners to rest the body, and reflect.  At 5:30 I began my usual morning routine, which is hugely important to me, and also responsible for the sense of joy and purpose I get to experience every day.

Here’s the routine:

1) Upon rising, I meditate for 15 minutes.

2) I make a cup of Bulletproof coffee. (I live for this coffee. It’s life-changing.)

3) Then I do my TIA journal. TIA stands for “thank,” “intend,” “ask.” It’s an expanded form of gratitude journal, and it’s pretty simple.

– I make a list of experiences from the previous day for which I am grateful.

– I make a list of all the things I am intending to be, do, or offer throughout the day ahead of me.

– And finally, I ask my higher power (what do we say? the universe? God? Source? Unity Consciousness? –whatever!) to guide me in any issue or problem I’m  grappling with.

I have filled dozens and dozens of  spiral-bound sketchbooks with this morning routine over the years, and I credit this practice with giving me a sense of clarity and purpose and joy in my life. Research has shown that the practice of gratitude really is the portal to cultivating these three qualities, just as all great wisdom traditions have told us for centuries.

4) And then, after my journal writing comes 30-60 minutes of spiritual study and reading in the wisdom traditions.

5) From there, I walk Dash, which has become our private walking meditation and sun salutation.

And then the last part of the morning routine. . .

6) I head out to The Yoga Shala for 80 minutes of astanga yoga.

Ahhhhhh. What a way to start the morning. I call it six steps to bliss.

What’s Next?

This way of starting the day sets me up to experience life in its fullness, to perform at my best, and to enjoy everything that comes my way. It is all good after this kind morning practice.

My practice today, though, was altered because, as I said,  it’s a “moon day,”— no yoga when the moon is full or new. Instead of practicing, I did a little bit of email communicating with clients, but nothing really hard or serious. Just reminders for up-coming groups.

And then I thought, what’s next?

It appeared I had nothing to do.  My  calendar revealed I had NO APPOINTMENTS OR EVENTS for the day. Yes, for the first time in a long, long time, a whole day of white space. So there was no ready answer to the question, “what’s next?”  I could not depend on my calendar to guide me.  I could choose exactly what I wanted to do: I could rest. I could paint. I could read. I could work in the garden. I could go see a sick friend. I could walk the dog. I could kill myself.

None of it would make any difference, would it? Who would care? That’s kind of where my mind went, though it might sound dramatic. But really, I thought, what difference do your days make? This is the very question that started me on a life-long quest for meaning when I was twelve years old and got kicked out of Sunday school.

The point is, in spite of all the fullness, all the joy, all the goodness, all the pleasure that makes up my life, there are also these moments of stark despair. Nothing makes any difference. There is no “next.” I can look at art, or I can walk into the lake. Don’t worry; I’m not gonna do that. But here’s my point. Even when we think we’ve created meaning and purpose in our lives, there still comes this wave of uncertainty. This silence that reveals a chasm of nothingness. This moment when we fear everything can go away at any moment, and nothing will remain.

If this sounds morbid, please know I didn’t  feel morbid. Believe me, a few minutes later, I opened a bottle of sauvignon blanc and enjoyed the vibrant colors of my little garden.  Dash curled up next to me and smacked her lips in the precious way dogs do when they are completely relaxed and completely content and just about ready to fall into a deep and happy sleep. And for a few minutes, maybe an hour, I was relaxed and content too. (Dash, my great teacher.)

But it’s days like this one that make me realize that these moments are precious and fleeting, and in the end lost. Meaningless.

I am in the end portion of my life. It doesn’t really make any difference if I get up or not. On any day, I can eat bonbons, or practice yoga, or serve the poor, or paint, or work with clients. I have the ability to choose. And this last moon day just happened to be a wide open, spacious, unscheduled day which allowed me to come face to face with this very idea. This day could mean nothing, or it could mean everything. It’s my choice. And the calendar conspired to nudge me to reflect on this fact. My heart took the opportunity to feel what it feels like to be alone, alive, aware, and totally responsible for my choices.

Totally responsible. I can choose. And in the end, that is a most, most precious gift. I bow down to the universe in gratitude.

Namasté dear friends, and memento mori,

Lezlie

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

            – Steve Jobs, Stanford University commencement speech

 

June Workshop at LifeArt Studio

imagesIf you think about it, most of us seek more freedom, in one way or another—from habitual negative thinking, from annoying relationships, from disappointing ourselves, from worry and despair. We spend so much time in our heads stressing and planning and controlling and judging, and mistakenly thinking these states of mind are going to get us out of the funk we’re experiencing. But the only thing these states do is gobble up the precious energy we need to create a life that is full and happy and beneficial.

LifeArt Studio offers a two-day intensive workshop that explores some of the reasons we find ourselves in this unfortunate state, and examines practices that quickly disarm the conditions of this unfortunate state.

The workshop is called “Living the Beautiful Questions,” and it shows how asking a powerful question can disarm obstacles and direct us to new ways of thinking about what is possible. The quality of your life is directly related to the quality of the questions you’re posing to yourself every day. Think on that!

What Will I Learn?

In this workshop, you’ll learn how you are resisting, how to stop blaming and judging , what issues or conditions trigger you into negative states, the role focus plays in creating artfully, the mistake we have all made about cause and effect, and more.

The workshop is limited to 5 participants, giving us the time necessary to identify patterns in your own thinking that are keeping you from living your life with more ease and joy.

When Do We Start?

We’ll meet on Saturday, June 24, from 9-12 and 1:30-4:30, and again on Sunday, June 25 from 9-12 and 1:30-4:30. This is a deep (and fast) immersion into the core ideas of the great Wisdom Traditions and how the lessons of these traditions are valid and constructive for many of the negative states of mind we find prevalent in the 21st century.

What Does This Workshop Cost?

The fee for this two-day workshop is $195 and includes a celebratory happy hour on Sunday, and a follow-up practice session in July.

If you’re ready to live your life with more freedom and more equanimity, join us for this weekend of “living the beautiful questions.”  Please contact me here to register.  Your place will be secured upon payment, which is non-refundable after June 19.

 

 

The Perennial Philosophy

images-1For the past several months I have been offering a teaching that I call “Living the Beautiful Questions.” This teaching is based on the “perennial philosophy,” a term that describes the precepts and teachings that are common to all wisdom traditions. Yes, there are many ideas that ALL great spiritual teachers, great religions, great philosophies have in common. Seems we would be well-served to pay attention to these ideas.

In this intensive, two-day workshop, we will identify many of these “core concepts” that most of the wisdom traditions embrace. If you have read the Bible, the Koran, the Torah, the Bhagavad-Gita, the Upanishads, or any of the work of Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now), Marianne Williamson (A Return to Love, or A Course in Miracles), Gangi (I am That or Diamond in Your Pocket), Ken Wilber (Grace and Grit), Andrew Cohen (Evolutionary Consciousness), Michael Brown (The Presence Process), or Sarah Susanka (The Not so Big Life), you will be familiar with some of the core work that will guide me as I lead us in the discussion and exercises. We will deal with big ideas:

consciousness
presence
integral theory
identity
gratitude
resistance and letting go
acceptance of what is
essential self
fear/love
judgment
happiness/contentment
and of course, living life creatively.

And there’s more: In addition to learning these concepts and how they affect our twenty-first century mindset, we will examine some of the advice and practices that have grown out of these core concepts. You’ll practice ways to drop resistance.   You’ll come to see your own shadow side more clearly. You’ll understand the confusion that has kept most of us in a frustrated state of blaming and judging others, and thus derailing our own personal growth. And you’ll come to see that we all have only one problem.

In essence, you’ll get closer and closer to living your life with freedom and equanimity, instead of guilt, shame, fear, or frustration. If we work well together, we’ll all become more aware who we really are, and what is truly possible for each one of us.

I’m thrilled about this work, and I want to share it with you, too. In the past year, I’ve presented this teaching in 5 two-hour sessions spread out over two months. This coming June and July, I’m going to offer the work in a two-day intensive session over a Saturday and a Sunday (9 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.) The May sessions are filled, but four weekends are available in June and July, and I would be honored to share this approach to living happily and productively in this “one wild and precious life” we’ve been given.

If you find yourself stuck with a problem, or stymied in a life goal, or hindered in relating to people the way you want to, this intensive workshop might just offer a new lens through which to view your world and the ways you respond to that world. Check out the dates below, and if you have the time and the interested to take a deep dive with me, a dive that I promise will lead to a greater degree of awareness, clarity, and joy in your life, let me know and I’ll put you on the reserved list.

June 10-11 (9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.)
June 24-25 (9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.)
July 8-9 (9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.)
July 22-23 (9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.)

The fee for this two-day workshop is $195.  Contact me here to register for one of the weekends.

Call me or email with any questions or concerns you may have. You’ll know if this is the right experience for you. Listen to your heart. You’ll know.

I wish you well, always and always.

much love,
Lezlie