recalibrate: day 6
“The art of living... is neither careless drifting on the one hand nor fearful clinging to the past on the other. It consists in being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive.”
― Alan Watts
Welcome to day 6!
If you gathered the most intelligent minds to try to engineer a structure that could bend, flex, twist, and curve, be used all day every day, withstand impact and last for up to 100 years (or more!), rarely without any need for repair - this would be a challenge! Yet, each and every one of us has one of these incredible structures within us from our first few weeks of development: our spine.
It is a beautifully complex structure where bones, ligaments, tendons, muscles, nerves, and nerve roots are woven together. It provides strength and structure to the body, allowing us to stand upright. It allows flexibility, enabling us to move in a variety of positions. It also performs the role of a shock absorber and serves as a protective mechanism for the vital nerves and nerve roots that pass through it. Maintaining mobility through the spine is the key to maintaining a healthy body that's able to move freely in all the ways you love for years to come.
This is the last piece of the puzzle, and it's a good one, that's why we've saved it for the end. But also, we often need to work through the rest of the body in order to access the spine. It's hard to work with the spine if the shoulders are tense or there's limited mobility through the hips and pelvis. It's hard to open the pelvis if the legs are quite tight. So we work systematically through the body, piece by piece, unwinding and unlocking any tension and restoring balance so that we can then experience the health of the whole body altogether.
The yoga tradition views the spine as the source of all our vital energy (or prana). The yoga poses and breathing are intended to help clear physical and energetic blockages to keep the energy flowing, evoking health of the body, balance of the mind and emotions, and vibrancy of our being.
Since we now know that the spine houses our central nervous system, it makes sense that when the spine is healthy, the nervous system keeps the flow of energy between the brain and nerves balanced. The nervous system impacts every action our bodies take – conscious or unconscious. A healthy spine allows our body to function at its greatest capacity.
While spinal health helps us remain flexible and be able to bend and not break, meditation has the same effect on the mind. In today's meditation, we will explore meeting each moment. When we unhook from judgment, expectation, preconceived ideas, and conditioned reactions, we're able to simply meet each moment as it arises with openness and receptivity. When we think we already know someone or something, we close ourselves off to the fullness of the experience. Remember, just like anything, we need to practice. As we practice becoming present, letting go of judgment and expectation, and simply arriving in the moment, we cultivate adaptability and resilience.
And even within your yoga and meditation practice, can you allow every day to be a fresh start? If one day is particularly challenging, that is totally normal. If you've missed some days this week, don't be hard on yourself. Think of this not as a linear process but rather a constant expansion. You can't do it wrong.
I hope you've enjoyed this week and perhaps been inspired to continue on with a regular self-practice. I'll share some more tips on that tomorrow. But try to appreciate that each day will be different. Every time you get on your mat or your meditation cushion, or even simply take a few deep breaths and tune in - it is a success! The days where this comes very easily - enjoy them! The days that feel challenging - trust that they are offering you an opportunity to learn and grow.
This is true of practice, but also of life.
I hope you enjoy today's practices. We'll meet one last time tomorrow at 5 pm UK time (that's 9 am PST, 10 am MST) for a meditation together to close the week. Click here from the zoom link to join live. All you'll need is a comfortable place to sit. Like last week, it will be about 30-40 minutes, and the recording will be available here afterward.
As always, any questions along the way, reach out anytime!
Today's Yoga: Back + Spine
Today you'll need:
2 blocks (or a couple of sturdy books)
Optional: a cushion or rolled-up blanket to sit on at the end
Today's Breathing + Meditation
Today's breathing and meditation are best done in a seated position.
Get comfy and enjoy!