IndiGlow - The Ordinary Illuminated

IndiGlow - The Ordinary Illuminated

Sensory Issues Suck

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Well, we almost made it to the Christmas program this year...almost.  


Our high-functioning autistic son has only agreed to do it one year before, and annually this event brings him incredible stress and frustration as they prepare and practice from the moment they return from Fall break in October, until the big day of the whole-school performance.  

I was pleasantly surprised (although cautiously optimistic) when he announced he was going to participate this year because his sister, who is now in Kindergarten, was going to perform.  He wanted to be there as a support to her, which melts my heart.  Despite his sensory & social difficulties, he takes being a big brother to his 2 sisters very seriously.


I bought him a new outfit, and of course I washed it first.  I learned long ago that if new clothes aren't washed before wearing, he breaks out in a terrible rash.  (A whole day of school was ruined and miserable the day we discovered that.)  

He looked so handsome in his black pants, white shirt, and Harry Potter tie, and while my 5 year old sweet girl was "embarrassed" I know she was excited to dress up in her pretty holiday dress and stand next to her BFF from school at the performance.


As usual, we were running a little behind (our youngest, who turns 4 tomorrow, is a wild-card to say the least).  We never know when she's going to have a fit or completely melt down, etc.  Getting these 3 and ourselves ready is a bit like herding cats, which most parents can relate to I'd imagine.  But, somehow we miraculously managed to get everyone looking pretty darn good and out of the door with just enough time to grab a quick bite of dinner on the way.  


And then, it happened.  Half-way through our sub sandwiches he started to itch and twitch.  I should have known...what a rookie mistake to not have him put a t-shirt on beneath the new white collared shirt!  Within moments he was freaking out, completely miserable, and ready to rip off all of his clothes right then and there at the restaurant.  Keeping calm, I packed up everyone's remaining food items, bundled the girls back up, and got to the van so he could get some relief.  I thought I'd take them all home and drive my pretty girl back to the performance myself, but there wouldn't have been enough time.  

It was a horrible moment on so many levels.  I know he couldn't help it, and I am still feeling crushed for my girl...I know it hurt her feelings not to be there.  I know she was embarrassed this morning to go to school. She cried this morning and I held her and kissed her tears away...knowing there is no way to make up for that lost moment.  


I wrote notes to the teachers, trying to explain, but my heart is broken.  Sensory issues are so difficult - not only for those who experience them, but also for their loved ones.  We're always learning, and I will never forget the damn t-shirt again.  In the future, we'll drive separately, so there will be time for a plan "B" when needed.  I can only plan and look toward the future, as it isn't useful to dwell on the past.  

But just for today,  I need to grieve.  I grieve for the difficulties my son faces, and I grieve for the effect it inevitably has on his sisters lives.  I'm sure there is a silver lining...there always is....but I can't look for it at this moment.  I need to get on my yoga mat - find my breath and allow my own tears to flow so that I can release this feeling.  


Namaste,

IndigoGrrl

Finding My Center After the Storm

Saturday, September 07, 2013

I'm watching Turkey Buzzards circling over my backyard as I sit and work in my office on this peaceful Saturday morning.  Through the other window I see an intricate spider web attached to the eaves of the roof swaying in the gentle breeze.  My 3 children have spent the morning playing, disagreeing, making-up, and playing some more.  There is such peace and fullness in my heart/mind at this moment.  I'm reminded of the word purnam, or "perfection," which, in this context, does not mean what we might think.  I am full...I am whole...I am perfectly content in my spirit as I observe the fluctuations of the world around me.   


After the longest Winter of my life (which bled into the Spring and even early Summer), I am refreshed to find the ground beneath my feet again.  It felt like a metaphorical hurricane swept through my life and left me completely demolished internally.  

After a month of testing in January, my son was diagnosed with High Functioning Autism.  While I had suspected this for the 5 years prior to his diagnosis, there was still a part of me wishing they would tell me I was wrong on that emotional day.  

The day before I drove to Chicago for this news, I learned that my father was diagnosed with another form of cancer (he had beat Prostate Cancer years before).  My relationship with my Dad has not been a close one, and so I was left with a mixture of feelings, including grief and fear.  

It was a hell-of-a week, and I took a few days to try to assimilate all of this news.  And then...that following Friday as I was waiting in the pick-up line at school I received a terrifying call from my mother.  She was having a stroke!  I spent the next week in and out of the hospital with her...trading shifts with my brother as we worried what would happen next.  Once released, she came to live with me for a few weeks so I could care for her, which included sorting out all of her new meds, helping her learn to give herself insulin shots 4 times a day (for her out of control diabetes), cooking heart-healthy meals, and more.  I was happy to do it, but I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders.

By the grace of God, her stroke did not leave her completely handicapped.  While it certainly affected her, with time & rehab she regained most of her speech, balance, and abilities.  It was life-changing for her (and for all of us who love her), and she made incredible lifestyle changes in an effort to avoid another stroke.


Now, months later, we're all doing pretty damn well!  My father & I have become closer than we've been in years, and his cancer is under control at the moment.  My mother lives independently with a helper now who comes twice a week, and she continues to be stronger everyday.  My son, well...of course there is no cure for Autism, but we've been able to get him a 504 at school, which means he is protected for the rest of his educational days.  I've finally been able to talk to him about his diagnosis, and together we are learning how to navigate this unique path God has blessed us with. 


Everyday there are new challenges to face, but this is the nature of human existence for all of us.  For everyone of us life is going to be full of heartache, scary moments, and metaphorical hurricanes that make us feel defeated.  But, the beauty is that there are also moments of deep joy, moments to celebrate, and remarkable miracles which build us up again.  All moments pass, change, ebb & flow.  

I'm eternally grateful for the skills my yoga practice has given me.  Because of these tools I am able to find my center...remember to breathe...and accept that I am not in control of the world around me, but I can control how I react to it.  With a very glad and grateful heart, I am thankful for this moment.  


Namaste

<3 IndigoGrrl

Who's Got the Reins?

Friday, April 12, 2013

Attachment, Aversion, or Apathy:  How We Relate to the World Around Us


Our conditioned existence is perpetuated by our lack of control over our senses.  Like a chariot driven out of control by a horse with broken reins, our reactions to any given situation leaves us in a constant state of stress and tension.  Our reactions tend to fall into these 3 major themes:  attachment, aversion, and apathy.

When we firmly grasp at something we have developed an attachment for it.  That feeling that we absolutely NEED this particular thing (food, money, sex, substances, relationships, etc.) because we’re addicted to the chemical responses that happen in our bodies when we relate to whatever it might be.  Gratuitous experiences bring momentary ecstasy and the fear of losing that feeling causes us to grasp very tightly to them.

But then, what happens we have a very negative experience with a particular attachment?  Very easily we can develop the flip side of this, which is aversion.  Hating, despising, turning or pushing harshly away from something is another strong fear-based reaction to a thing, substance, person, etc.   How easily can the human psyche switch from one to the other?  Each can lead to great mental & emotional anguish and suffering. 

I believe that out of this suffering we begin to develop apathy towards the outside world.  No longer do we desire or despise…we stop caring and become hardened.  The phrase, “I just don’t give a shit anymore,” comes to mind.  

All of these states of being lead to suffering and can shut down the emotional, spiritual, and physical energetic centers of the body. 

There are at least 7 main centers of energy, known as “chakras” that govern all the functions of the body.  From these spinning, energetic vortices flow rivers of energy (or “nadis”) throughout the entire being and field of consciousness.  When these areas become affected they slow down, become sluggish, or can become completely clogged or closed off. 

After these subtle energies become affected, like dominoes the effect moves through the layers of the body and eventually manifest as physical symptoms, dis-orders, and dis-eases.  Patterns and cycles of reaction/pain/suffering begin to repeat themselves and the attachment/aversion/apathy wheel continues to spin.  Suffering ensues.

Enter yoga, meditation, and mindfulness!  We absolutely have the power and ability to change these patterns and transform suffering into peace, deep contentment & joy.  The reason for these practices is to develop equanimity (mental calmness, composure, or even-temperedness especially in difficult situations).  Through the practice of observation, awareness, breath control, physical conditioning, and deep concentration we can begin to ‘repair the reins of the wild horses’ or control our senses by learning non-reactiveness.  With these tools we can give space to our conditioned reactions…observe them mindfully…acknowledge the emotion is there but look at it through compassionate, non-judgmental eyes without grasping.  In time, the ‘chariot ride’ becomes smooth and the stress and tension melt away.  These emotional/mental shifts bring about health, vitality, and life-force to the energy centers improving not only the physical health of our bodies but also the way in which we relate to food, money, sex, relationships, etc. 

Whole health functions on many, many levels.  The more conscious we become of these subtle energies and relationships, the less we suffer in this existence.  With continued awareness and practice of letting go of attachments, aversions, and apathy we can transform our suffering into liberation and joy.  It sounds like a big task, but by taking small steps everyday (with patience, persistence, and practice) we can really learn to enjoy the process of the journey within.

Namaste,

IndigoGrrl


Yoga and the Birth of a Mama

Wednesday, April 10, 2013
This week I've been preparing my lesson plan for our upcoming weekend with our Yoga Teacher Trainees (we offer a 6-month 200-hour program annually, and this is the week we cover Prenatal Yoga.  I'm the mama of 3 and because of my practice I was able to to labor and deliver each of my big, beautiful babies completely drug-free and "naturally" through the birth canal.  While preparing I was reminded of a birthing blog I wrote while pregnant with my 3rd, and my favorite story I shared was the birth of our first child and only son.  I wrote it in 4 parts, and I'd like to share it with you.  Re-reading it has me in joyful tears tonight, and it's yet another reminder of how time flies.  Our boy will be 9 this summer!  I'll post the links to all 4 parts of my birthing story, but be forewarned:  It's a pretty realistic account and I didn't hold back on language, etc.  It might not be suitable for everyone.

Have any of you relied on your yoga practice to get you through a birth experience?  Share your stories!
Namaste,
IndigoGrrl

Who's Howling

Saturday, January 26, 2013



...at the Full Wolf Moon tonight?


I love a Winters Full Moon more than any other, I think.  It could be that I was born in February in the snowy midwest, but when I really search my heart I know.

The moon is Yin energy:  quiet, cold, still, silver.  It is the opposite of its Yang counter-part, the Sun (which is roaring, hot, active, and golden.)  Winter herself is the energy of the Yin Goddess, so a Full Moon on a Winters Night is as Yin as it gets.  I want to be silenced by the peace of the cold, bright, beauty of her.  I want to dive into a silent retreat, immersed in introspection so that I can emerge in the Spring ready for personal growth and abundance.  

But within the very heart of Yin, is Yang. While she is shrouded in her quiet power her very heart burns with wild fire.  She looks out upon the attractive, fiery dance of Yang, but within his heart is Yin...dark & cold.  This eternal dance between the night and day, fire and ice, hot and cold preserves and sustains all of creation...of nature...what the yogis would call, Prakriti (and what we would refer to as "nature.")


How do we find that balance of these two energies within ourselves?  How do we acknowledge and accept both aspects instead of falling into the temptation to grasp to one way of being or the other?  We could just howl in agony over the pain this dilemma creates, or we could tune into the Wisdom of the Full Winters Moon, travel deeply within our own hearts, and through introspection explore the answers to these ancient questions.  

Wherever your path leads, may the light of the Full Wolf Moon shine brightly upon you tonight.  May you find the peace, wisdom, and compassion to unite both the Sun and the Moon within your heart.  May all beings be happy and free from Suffering.


Namaste,

IndigoGrrl

Practice, and Surrender?

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

We talk a lot about "surrender" in yoga.  Next time you're in class count how many times one of us instructs you to "let go."  (Just don't tell any of my instructors that I said so...ok?)
Does it ever feel more like the picture above (from a scene in the classic, "The Wizard of Oz") than the picture below when you really TRY to let go of something?  We're supposed to feel serenity...like being on the white sands near the ocean without any heavy thoughts holding us down.  Yet, living in our modern world with everyday demands and stressors can leave us feeling more like we should run and hide.  

I know.  I have those moments and those days too. 

But, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali give some direction in the principles of Kriya Yoga:

"Within this practice we orient our attitudes toward the discernment (swadhyaya) to distinguish the things we can change (tapah) from the things we cannot change (isvara pranidhana.)"  -excerpt from the Introduction of "Yoga Anatomy, 2nd Edition," written by Leslie Kaminoff & Amy Matthews.

Sounds a lot like The Serenity Prayer, doesn't it?  
That's something most of us are more familiar with, which makes it easier to relate to.  
The short version goes something like, "Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."  In essence, we are to give it to God...that which we cannot change or control we can release ourselves from by simply giving it to the Universe (Creative Source, the Divine...however you relate to that energy, no matter what you call it...it's all the same.)

Still, the white beaches WOULD be nice...but January here in the Midwest can serve as a backdrop to my inner bliss.  It just takes practice.  (lots, and lots, and lots and LOTS of daily practice)
Hmm...now where is my broomstick? 

Observing what "is"

Thursday, January 03, 2013
...is what Yoga "is."  Well, that doesn't fully sum it all up...or does it?

I was listening to a Richard Freeman (pictured above) talk today as I headed to our hot yoga studio to do my practice.  Today I didn't attend a guided class, but I was practicing in the same room as my husband.  I wasn't practicing with him, but there have been days in the past when I have been very tempted to do his yoga practice.  He is an advanced practitioner, so it can be tough at times to let go of my grasping to do what he does (check out our photo gallery to see for yourself!)

Today was different.  While I've listened to this particular 'Studio Talk' by Richard countless times before, there was a line that struck me as I pulled into the lot.  While I'm not quoting verbatim, he said that the practice of yoga is essentially the "observation of what is."  Now, I should also mention that I fell and hurt my arm last week, and so I was nervous to launch into a gazillion sun salutations (specifically Upward Facing Dog (known in Sanskrit as Urdhva Mukha Svanasana.)  

Richards words shifted something, making my practice slow and skillful today.  I spent a lot of time patiently observing the sensations in my wrist, forearms, and I was surprised to discover pain deep in my shoulder joint & beneath the scapula on the right side.  I moved through a sequence of postures that opened the shoulder and provided a deep, therapeutic stretch & release.  Updog wasn't comfortable, so I didn't push through them (as I am sometimes wont to do.)  As I moved in and out of each posture I found myself practicing keen awareness and the attachment to having a vigorous practice melted away.

The discomfort is still there, but there was a great release and relief from the practice of observation of what "is" along with the acceptance of what "is."  And, I'm happy to report I didn't notice my husbands practice at all today (well, almost...he IS pretty awesome to 'observe!')

Namaste,
IndigoGrrl   



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