Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I have been focusing on Day 1 of Elena Brower’s Yoga of living course. This first day is called PAUSE and Elena encourages us to notice the difference between expansion and contraction in the physical body. She says that contractions are almost always caused by two negative states caused by rushing or doubting. She then says when you notice yourself contracting “take one breath to shift from contraction to attentive expansion”.

The homework:
1.Write down at least 3 occasions when you noticed a contraction, what preceded it? Where it was in your body?
2.Were you were able to transform it into an expansion using the breathing? What did that feel like?

I really am enjoying today’s assignment. Using my attention to notice when I am expanding and when I am contracting. When I am expanding I feel open, spacious and full of love. When I expand I feel big and powerful, but at ease and full of acceptance. When I am contracting I feel closed, sad or anger. When I am contacted I feel so small, weak, unsure and so wrapped up in myself.

As I work up this morning I stated my intention. I took a few deep breaths and I noticed how this act of breathing with awareness helps me expand. As I started my morning I started by experiencing this wonderfully open state of expansion.

As I moved about my morning I keep my attention of this expansion and contraction. There were many times as I would be doing something that I could feel this contraction. I could feel myself getting small. Being a yogi I am very aware of my body, when I felt myself contract I felt my back slightly round, and my shoulders roll forward. I could feel my brain hurt. As I started the day I knew I would have many contractions but I was surprised how many I noticed and how such little things would set them off.

I did notice that every contraction was caused by me judging/doubting myself/others or from me rushing.

•I was thinking about how I already love this course from Elena Brower and how excited I am for working with the next assignments. Then I thought about sharing it with others…on my blog and my friends and fellow teachers. It was in this moment I contracted. I doubted how much knowledge I already have, and I wanted to hoard this wisdom and keep it to myself so I could be the best. I felt myself contracting and tightening from my brain, my heart, and into my core. I was driving my car and I felt my back slightly round like a scary Halloween cat as my shoulders rolled in as if I was protecting my heart. I paused as I noticed this, and I turned to my breath. I wasn’t even trying to figure out if I would share this knowledge or not. As I shifted my awareness to my breath I naturally sat up straighter (inner body bight) and corrected my shoulders (shoulder loop, who knew you could practice Anusara in the car). I felt myself starting to expand from my pelvis, up my ribs and out my heart. I felt open and full of gratitude, and my head felt more spacious. In this new state of expansion the choice went away, of course, I would share this knowledge.
ohttp://www.artofattention.com/ sign up for the email list sign up and you will get emailed a password, then you can access the course from that same webpage.

•Tyler (my husband)and I have been looking for apartments. I wanted to turn in my application by 9am and we didn’t even leave the house until 10:30am. After we left the house we had to stop and pick up pay stubs and we had to go to the Social Security Building to get a recipt that says our SS# on it, since I couldn’t find our cards and the apartment wouldn’t accept our passports. This caused many contractions caused by rushing.
oWhen we first got in the car after being an hour and a half late I could feel my heart beating and I was quickly calling the apartment office to see if anyone had turned in their application (we were told that 3 other couples picked up applications and it was all about who turned the application first). I asked if I could bring my passport instead of my social security card and she said no. After hanging up I noticed that I missed the start of this contraction and I was fully in it. I was rushing and not enjoying this moment. I thought just turn to your breath and expand. Unfortunately, this time it was not that easy. As I breathed I was also repeating the mantra “slow down…open” in my head. This did lesson my contraction but I was not experiencing expansion. My day continued like this. As I felt a contraction brought on from rushing I would pause and breath, this did lesson the contraction and allow me to open to the experience but I didn’t feel completely spacious and peaceful. However it was really awesome to be aware of this (noticing the contraction, bringing space to it and noticing what happens,,, a little less contracted) instead of just going through the day with each little thing continuing to close me off more and more and more.

What I learned from today’s experiment was that I was able to use my attention to see when I tightened in on myself and then used my breath to open myself back up I was aware that if I didn’t choose to pause and breath and allow myself an opportunity to expand out of the contraction I would have stayed tightly contracted. I feel very fortunate that I often take time to breath, sit quietly, and practice yoga. All of these activities give me opportunities to expand. When I do them they help assist me to expand out of any contractions that occurred earlier. But what is difficult about this is I don’t know what the contractions came from so I can’t deal with them as appropriately and use them for growth. What I liked about this assignment is it has given me a tool to help me learn how to notice when I contract, what it feels like, and what causes the contraction. This knowledge teaches me more about myself, so I may be aware when I contract and when I expand, and hopefully through discipline and attention I can start to shift some of my habits and thinking processes so I can reside in this open, peaceful, accepting nature of expansion.

(As I re read this last paragraph it reminds me of why we practice yoga, why we even care to look at our self…to know more and be happy CHIT ANANDA)

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