OKAY

As she was falling asleep, I suddenly realized she was crying. I have learned not to make too much inquiry over bedtime tears. They often indicate a release, a shedding of the day, and most certainly a signal that sleep time is long overdue. “It’s okay, it’s all okay, ” I murmured unconsciously into her hair.

Softly, she asked, “What does that mean?” I woke up inside, knowing this was one of those important mom moments when my answer might alter our relationship forever. Or least for the next hour.

Slowly, I pieced together an answer based on one a doctor gave me a few years ago. “To me, OKAY means pause. When I hear the word OKAY, I feel better. I slow down my breathing immediately, and my thoughts loose their hold on me.”

I wanted to go on and on, to tell her how much this little word OKAY helped me when a doctor told me that no one expected more from me than just to be OKAY around them. We are truly our biggest demons as we engulf ourselves with fear of future actions and past mistakes.  Being simply OKAY reminds me that I am trying to hard to CREATE a reality other than what is, and brings me back  to the moment that I am TRULY in. It brings back the basics in its utter simplicity of state- and those basics are : breath, safety of place, and physical body. In this moment of awareness, she was breathing. She was safe in a home she knows with sturdy doors and walls, and she lay with all body parts working upon a strategically designed assortment of pillows.

I did not pontificate further, having learned from past discussions that shorter is always better. Sleep thankfully took over. A few days passed, and I checked in, with praise for her questioning such a familiar word. She googled the definition. Words like satisfactory, acceptable, safe, adequate but unremarkable, and dependable endorsement came up. We liked these definitions. Not words to hold maybe for life goals, but as mitigating factors perhaps to the daily drive that can overwhelm us. To accomplish. To live up to our full potential in every moment. Strivings are good, but returning within the process to OKAY also has value when it is used not as a cop out but as a return to center. Maybe we can think of it as High Involvement, Low Attachment. Being OKAY as you strive and then… let go. This might just be more than enough.

May this feeling of OKAY surround you this weekend as we observe a longer pause in our practices:

no class MONDAY MAY 25th for Memorial Day. Our schedule returns TUESDAY the 26th.

Please let me know your summer plans and desires as we can add afternoon and some evening classes.

In appreciation,

Michelle

accidental enlightenment

I had to get to class. I wasn’t sure why, but I just knew I had to get there that day. I suddenly excused myself to my forgiving coffee partner, and in a most UN- yogic way, floored it the 10 or so blocks to the nest that Andrea Marcum lovingly called U Studio. The room was jam-packed and I snuggled in between the warm bodies for sun salutations. I quickly but cautiously welcomed the melting pot of movement and music to my newly sore muscles which are getting quite a beating from my nightly foray as loner-turned-eco-terrorist in the play I am doing,  Suddenly, I heard her say it. I knew the closing of this lovely studio had been in the works for months, but I had no idea this was indeed the last day. I thought I had mis-heard her, and silently asked Andrea, who confirmed with an audible laugh. “You didn’t know? Yup. This is it.”

With the slow but necessary decline of my near daily ashtanga practice, I have had to find a new studio. Though most of my practice is at home, there is nothing like loosing yourself in the room of fellow practitioners with a wise teacher. Andrea’s Thursday class, however, had rested comfortably in my calendar for months without me, so what made it today? Why now, in this moment, did the need to be there overwhelm all other possible needs?

I have no idea. Tuned in? Message from the universe? Dumb luck? For whatever reason, I am more than grateful. She is a wonderful teacher, with humor and great knowledge that she imparts with ease and confidence, but judgment free. It was a gift to be introduced to her as a student years ago, then to go on and teach for her, and now, to be part of this flow on her last day at U. She played a beautiful version of  LET IT BE for the closing savasana, as is her ability to find rare covers to popular songs, and I let the tears come. I cried: for all the change that I have seen and felt this year, for all the good things that come when doors close, and for the ache attached to wanting those same doors to remain open, now and forever. There stood Andrea though, with a laugh and a gong for sale, and when I opened my eyes, I knew we would all be ok.

As I left, I was struck by a different thought. This day, arguably most monumental in the life of Andrea, was an accidental part of my own. She could not believe that I did not know it was her final day, and I could not believe I did not know either. But then, I could not believe she knew nothing of the last few months of my life. The changes. The work. The miles I have put on my car… I felt all this without a shred of judgment, not only because she is more of a figure in my life, not a direct friend or family member by any means, but also, and mostly, because I realized this is the same for EVERYONE. For the people we encounter on the street or even the ones we see at the breakfast table every day (does anyone eat breakfast with other people anymore??) I can know my husband’s schedule, and I forget the events too, but the depth of an experience might remain a mystery to me. I am my stuff and you are your stuff. I can reach out an ear and you can stretch out an arm, but the rest is up to us to fill in. Either through attempted communication with an other, or through a loving kindness attempt to be the  needed acknowledgment for yourself. I feel joy and liberation in this realization, and I hope when I slip and judge others for not knowing my “stuff” or berate myself for not knowing my neighbor’s, I can remind myself of this accidental enlightenment.

waking up

The alarm clock is a weird thing. It sends a signal, most often loud and unwelcome, that jars the body into a state of being it is not necessarily looking to be in. The shift from sleep into wakefulness is profound I think, and one we don’t often investigate. When I go to sleep, I try to imagine what I will need to make that shift with as little disturbance to my psyche as possible. Sometimes though I turn off phones and turn on humidifiers, the disturbance cannot be avoided- like on the mornings when I my husband’s trusted white alarm clock from college independently decides to move its dial from our classical station to an in between station, a mixture of  Spanish news casting and static. The volume too changes, and this loud, crazy loud, noise breaks through the delicate walls of my fairy tale dreams.

Sometimes these jolts into the day make me sad, or leave me feeling a sort of woe is me quality, as if the quality of my life is impossible and isolating. In those mornings, even in the rush of lunch preparations or lost shoes or auditions, I now try to get into the warm sun, if even for a moment. The calm nourishment that warms me also connects me to all things, wild and tame, of my world and beyond. We are all being jarred in some way from state to state to state in this daily life of ours. I feel grateful to put down the potential weapons of my smaller view as I gain this wider perspective.

Here’s to hoping I will see you all in the coming weeks. Our schedule is in tact, as far as I can see, no more holidays in sight for some time, so come, find transition time with us, from one state to your mat and back in again. I will be here.

MONDAYS     8:30 (NOTE NEW START TIME)

TUESDAYS    9:00

THURSDAYS 8:30

All classes right no at Temple Emanuel, 300 N. Clark Drive.

In peace,

Michelle

toolbox

I was dying for candy. I finished an audition, and felt that open wound feeling- the one that begs to be filled by something sweet. I used to indulge this avoidance technique on a regular basis. In truth, there is nothing really wrong with a bit of a something to soften the oddness of what we as humans do when we show our wares and then have to put them away.

But today, I turned my car home, and sat. I put on my timer, nothing exceedingly long, just a short 15 minutes, propped myself up in a chair knowing that I might need a little extra support, and sat. I sat and watched and listened. My breath quiet and my mind loud. It looked to me like the printouts of telegraphy, the morse code in the movies about war time- jagged and changing and impossible to understand at first glance. I smiled and acknowledged the fight or flight feeling I was stuck in, and immediately the pulsating edges began to look more fluid, rounded and not rigid.

The meditation was not terribly deep, but I was deeply grateful for utilizing this newly resurrected tool in my tool box. We all have the ability to take ourselves from one state of mind to another, from a perception of our reality that might not be serving us to another state, that might not seem dramatic at first, but will ultimately bring less suffering.

As I get up to continue my day, I still have the want, but the vibration of my mind’s overly attached connection to this outcome has died down. From here, I can now make choices that are more my own. I can get the candy or not, but it will be MY hand that takes it into my mouth and not the habituated hand guided by emotion. Check your tool box this week maybe. See what wonders you might just have inside it that need some polishing off, and then… who knows where they can lead you.

MANY  changes to our schedule for the next couple weeks as we move toward Passover, and as I move closer toward the opening of the new play I am grateful to be doing. First, TONIGHT AT TEMPLE EMANUEL: OM SHALOM YOGA
Om Shalom
Friday, March 27
8:00 pm
Bess P. Maltz Center A 
a very cool, transformative Shabbat yoga practice led by Zach Lodmer. Definitely worth a try!

THEN…

MONDAY 3/30     NO CLASS

TUESDAY 3/31     9am

THURSDAY 4/1-  NO CLASS

week of 4/6 most likely as scheduled, but with the Monday will be at 8:30 not 8:15

thank you for your continued practices,

Michelle

 

traffic un-jam

One of my students asked me today was it worth it. No, not the yoga practice, the driving. She was referring to the new play I am doing at the Boston Court Theatre in Pasadena. Pasadena is one of those places in the Los Angeles area that I never understand how to get to, never understand how to get home from, and in which magic always seems to take place.

My student’s question was one to which I barely paused. “Absolutely,” I answered. There is no doubt in my mind. The morning fatigue is intense, and the meanderings amongst streets and freeways and sights as I bravely try to negotiate the directional calls simultaneously chirped out by WAZE and my Siri’s regular navigation system are really giving my irrational fear of maps and new routes a daily workout. But as I sit in this lovely room with my new and temporary little family, I can feel that holiness take over. The holy and whole-ly feeling you get when you are feeding your insides. Dissection of character and script, playing with others and bringing words from page into body in order to send them out with meaning for others to hear and learn from just  cannot be restricted because of a little (or long!) thing like traffic.

Our practices will, for the most part, remain the same, at least until the beginning of April. I remain ever grateful that you choose to spend your mornings with me.

In peace,

Michelle

@Temple Emanuel of Beverly Hills

MONDAY       8:15 am

TUESDAY       9:00 am

THURSDAY  8:30 am

mecca

I have found mecca. The fountain of youth. The happiest place on earth. It’s just minutes from my house and not nearly as expensive as Disneyland. It’s the Number One Mailbox place on the corner of La Peer and Olympic in Beverly Hills.

I was trying to be a good mom on a bad day, so I set out to finally return the greatly anticipated new backpack that sadly did not work as planned. I don’t often frequent mailbox places. Rather when I need to engage in mail activities I choose the route of the martyr, standing in line with the masses at the local post office with others whose bad mood might match my own. But I was trying to treat myself more kindly that day, and had splurged on a nearly five dollar latte when I noticed the possibility to get that hateful returning-by-mail errand out of the way with one less movement of my car.

One person stood in front of me. She was opening a big box and was offering some of its contents to Michael, the store owner. Seems she gets this box monthly, some kind of health box, and I was reminded we are in Beverly Hills after all. She didn’t like the protein flavor of the month and was sure her kids would not want the trail mix. Michael was happy to take these items off her hands. He was a fresh faced, smiling kind of guy. A calm, surfer dude blend of office effieicney Michael interacted with all his customers, knowing their names, their dogs names, and sometimes even their kids. They knew him too, and asked after his parents with whom he apparently resides. There was much light hearted yet genuine banter as some entrusted him with deeply personal items.

I loved it. I wanted to be part of this easy looking interchange. I noticed a bit of birthday cake on his desk and asked if he was celebrating a new year. He explained that a customer (I think he called her client) had brought it to share. Seems she is  an older woman, a former Broadway dancer, living here with no friends or family, and brought her birthday cake over to the store to share with Michael and some other shop owners in the strip mall. That clinched it for me.  This little pocket of the world truly was the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. This could have been a super sad state of affairs to hear about, but nope, not here. Not at the Number One Mailbox place. It was just sort of a lovely little piece of this woman’s reality that was warmly accepted and reciprocated by the realities of these other humans with whom she interacts on a daily basis.

Maybe you had to be there. But it stuck with me, this little slowed down quiet moment in time. We all talked further about what makes a community for a moment, the elected version of family. Then Michael gave me the CD his band just finished, and I gave him my yoga teacher’s card for his retired dancer friend.

These people, this spot, secured my connection to the world around me on a day that I was not at all sure of my footing. I know well the benefits of being alone, but I know too the suffering that can come from feeling isolated. May we we all find the courage on those days to look out and up and around you as you might be hit with unexpected enjoyment. The truth is, I will not likely go back to this particular Mailbox place. Sweet as Michael was, he sweetly sent my package to the wrong place. But who am I to judge. He was too buys smiling and exchanging his kindness with me to fuss over the details of the actual work. I am ever grateful his accidental teaching.

 

Please come share in our community this week! Many BONUS practices available in addition to our regular schedule

FRIDAY     2/27     5:30-6:30 pm      U STUDIO     5410 Wilshire Blvd

SUNDAY    3/1       9:30-10:30 am     Alliance        9000 W. Washington Blvd, Culver City

MONDAY   3/2      8:15-9:15  am        Emanuel

TUESDAY   3/3      9:00-10:00 am     Emanuel

5:30-6:45 pm         U STUDIO

7:00-8:00 pm       U STUDIO

THURSDAY 3/5     8:30-9:30 am         EMANUEL

7:00-8:00 pm        U STUDIO

SUNDAY       3/8     9:30-10:30 am        Alliance

mind as parent

It is truly remarkable to me how much time our brains have to fool around. As I become more deeply immersed in watching my thoughts, the more astounded I am. It seems with all its power, it could be doing a great bit more than admonish me for things I did not do, things I have done, or things I just might mess up tomorrow. Certainly, at times, it gives healthy advice. It might drum up an inspiring quote it read, a kind of friendly pat on the back. Sometimes, it even does better. Sometimes my mind might offer up a less specific and more open ended kind of thought, These quieter moments might better be regarded as self- compassion. Compassion from the mind to the self seems awfully hard to come by for the regular pedestrian with whom I speak. It seems like we all might have learned to be compassionate towards others but very stingy in offering it toward ourselves.

I think this has something that happens when we move away from home. The environments of our childhood seem more structured. Rules which were either clear or not, fair or not, were most likely enforced by a host of adults for you. Whether you were self motivated or not, there were most likely people pushed you to do things, from homework to chores, to practicing or to just being nice and stop hitting your brother. These were most likely constants, pleasant or unpleasant, they were the tenets that organized your household. And they helped too to focus our monkey minds.

When we leave though, it seems we have to take on the role of inner parent, and that’s when our minds, which had been used to solving algebra equations or memorizing spelling words, or trying to get the boy to like you, or practicing for the big game, now has nothing more to do than jump in and keep you in the organization you grew up with, because lets’ face it, creatures of habit we all tend to be. So now we are out there adjusting to this new, unbridled mind power that seems often meant to destroy us. The mind that is unfocused and untended swerves toward the negative. There is a great deal of research being done on why the unpleasant things we notice take more of our attention than the pleasant.

I know, for some of us, it is not so dramatic. The parent inside the mind can be both compassionate AND an a ball buster.  But my real wondering is: is anyone truly living out there free from the constant mutterings of your mind?

Come share your thoughts with me this week as we practice. Our regular schedule plus bonus classes for the next week.

THURSDAY          8:30 am       Temple Emanuel

                             7:00 pm       U Studio, 5410 Wilshire Blvd.

SUNDAY               9:30 am       Alliance Cross Fit, 9000 W. Washington Blvd. Culver City

MONDAY              8:15 am        Temple Emanuel

Previous Older Entries

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,860 other followers