When you heard it again and again, did you listen?
Over the past countless months, maybe even a lifetime, I have been hearing reminders to lead from the heart. Have you?
As life ebbs and flows through busy movement and more calm still moments, receive this message with increasing urgency. Since this is something we hear and know, we don't always understand or surrender to it. In fact, often we find reasons not to because it can be scary, vulnerable, and might actually lead to happiness.
As the season changes toward Autumn and the days get shorter, I intuitively know that by eliminating and cleaning away the excess activities, projects, objects, and work, I can make space for the next. The next projects, endeavors, adventures, relationships, the next of what is now considered unknown. This cleaning away may not be tactile or physical, but may come in the form of energetically letting go of what I held in the hotter summer months when the energy was endless and synonymous with the long bright days.
Decreasing daylight brings a need to savor daylight and utilizing our energy advantageously to allow for adequate rest and healthy transition in to the season to come. This is the optimal time to rethink our habits, routines, and thoughts. Are our thoughts and actions in line with our hearts?
As I move through this season from late summer to early autumn, I am working on listening. I am practicing being okay with what was, and moving on to what is and what I would like to be. This sounds simplistic, but really requires the work of reflection and self-trust. I am reminded again and again to lead with the heart instead of creating and fulfilling goals created by the ego or what I think to be "right" or grandiose. Being a person with endless motivation and determination, I find the act of letting go to be uncomfortable, terrifying, and sometimes even triggering. I catch myself dreaming about it and searching for reasons to avoid listening to my heart. I catch myself looking for evidence that leading with the heart is unsafe. This sounds strange, but I am positive I am not the only one who has thought about ending up homeless if I follow my heart instead of my mind. Instead of finding evidence of this, I find stories of love and success. I see people who have started with nothing and ended up with everything plus more to share. The more I look, the more I find. The more I listen, the more the universe tells me to trust.
So I do.
Welcome Autumn. Welcome shorter days and letting go of the excess that no longer serves us. Welcome surrender to the cycles of the earth like the leaves that turn auburn and fall here on the beautiful West Coast. Welcome uncertainty and letting go of what I "think" should happen. Welcome the rises and falls. Welcome imperfection. Welcome joy and presence and love. Welcome discernment with time. Welcome sharing and open hearts. Welcome.
I am listening. Are you?
May you be well. May you be well. May you be well.
I first came to yoga as a teenager. I saw it as a chance to “lean-out”, or escape from life. Escape from the conflict in my home, the worries of everyday life, and the constant striving to be closer to what society told me was perfect. After years of practicing yoga and mindfulness, I now have a deeper understanding that yoga provides an opportunity to gently lean in. Yoga and mindfulness help us to cultivate resilience to be able to live life, this unpredictable event we all get to participate in. The process looks different for each person, which I believe is part of the magic of the practice.
I believe that any opportunity to help others foster resilience is a gift. To me, this looks like teaching yoga, teaching workshops, connecting with others, and encouraging self-compassion.
Many people come to yoga for the physical benefits, and this ancient medicinal practice has a sneaky way of keeping people for mental benefits. Combining the breath, mindfulness, and movement has an amazing balancing effect.
If we think about our nervous systems, we can reflect on where we are at in our lives most of the time. Do we spend time stressed at work? At home? Do we take the time we need time to breathe and relax? We know that chronic stress can be detrimental to our health and wellbeing. In yoga, we get an opportunity to practice balancing our nervous system to make it more resilient. This doesn’t mean being relaxed all the time, but it does mean being able to efficiently come back to a relaxed state after dealing with a stressor.
In yoga, we get into positions where our hearts beat faster, our muscles get hot, our legs shake, and the pose feels stressful (think chair pose), then we counter this with a pose that allows us to breathe slowly, the heart rate slows, and we feel relief (for me this is Uttanasana). These physical postures alone help us to practice resilience.
Additionally, yoga asanas encourage strength and range of motion. We build body awareness and we start to recognize how our bodies feel. We can more easily identify injury, pain, and prevent it from happening in the first place.
These are only a few of the benefits we see from yoga. One of my favorite things about yoga is the intentionality of it. We place our toes on the mat one by one, we root down, we rise up, we breathe with fluidity. I can recall times in my life that I perceived as extremely stressful. I could catch myself in almost any moment holding my breath. It took a vigorous practice of very intentional movement, breathing (and many sighs) to obtain the natural fluid breath. In this place of natural breathing, it is easier to lean in and focus on what is in front of us. It is easier to critically think. It is easier to look outside ourselves. It is easier to contribute to the lives of others, and I think this is what most of us are here to do.
Yoga is a very special practice and I am thrilled to share it with this community. The social connection and sea of support we can create by bringing people together to practice has a mighty influence on resilience. Social connection is essential in being resilient to trauma and stress, and we can see in our modern society how the limited social connection can be. When we make yoga accessible, we can bring people together from all different walks of life to practice resilience and self-compassion. We can come together to care for ourselves so that we can care for others. We can come together to reset. We can come together to be present. We can come together to step away from our egos, or a society that is telling us to be a certain way and we can be as we are together. This is powerful!
You can find me teaching workshops on resilience, facilitating yoga classes, studying all things human, or drinking coffee with loved ones.
May you be well.
May you be well.
May you be well.
~Nikita Paddock, RYT, Resilience Advocate
Today, I took a stroll in a special place along the ocean near my home. It is a sacred space that holds close to my heart. It is a stroll I have taken many times (probably hundreds), yet I am always speechless looking out over the rough sea at the majestic mountains covered in snow. The sun often peers out of clouds that range from bright round to streaky and grey. This walk has seen me for almost a decade. It has seen me in different relationships. It has seen me through the tears of losing a dear friend and old partner. It has seen me through the excitement of the birth of my nephew and the pregnancy of my best friend. It has cradled the stress of nursing school and facilitated the joy of earning my dream job. It has witnessed confusion.. all too often. It has created ease and ignited wonder. More importantly, in each stage of my being, it has created an opportunity to reflect and remember how small I am. This seems to relieve a lot of the confusion and uncertainty. It feels like a sense of welcoming. Welcoming us to the space of wonder without losing ourselves. Today, I am reminded that through all of these encounters with this special place, I have been in very different places in my life (job, financial status, physical fitness level, health, education, and relationship), yet I have been the same person with the same purpose in life, the same change-maker way of being, the same optimism, and the same desire. The things we have or do not have in our lives do not define us. If we switch from one job to a completely opposite job or one relationship to another, we are not different people. We are the very same person. The very essence of love that is wrapped in all of the layers of context is the same. You are you and I am me, the ocean stroll loving soul.
May you be well, may you be well, may you be well.