Waves (or, Big Decisions: Part 2)

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Season’s salutations to you! As we find ourselves in the shortest, darkest days (here in the northern hemisphere, anyway), it is a natural time for reflection, introspection, and quite possibly some changes.

You have probably noticed by this point in your lifetime the wavelike nature of it all – the ups and downs, highs and lows, good days and bad days, success and failure, clarity and confusion, inspiration and aimlessness. These waves do not necessarily follow a regular periodic rhythm or have equal amplitude from peak to peak, but we all experience the fluctuations of being alive. To be truly skillful in navigating the course of your own individual life, it is helpful to be able to observe yourself in these different phases – without becoming overcome by the low troughs or ungrounded in the soaring heights. If you can train yourself to do that, you will find a state of equanimity, able to fully appreciate both the glowing bliss, as well as the opportunity to grow as you pull yourself out of the muck. You might be surprised what you find there.

A few recommendations:

  • On the dark days, make sure to get outside and find movement. Go to the water or the mountains, or go for a short walk.
  • If you feel isolated and alone, reconnect with a friend you haven’t seen for a while, go to a yoga class, or volunteer to serve others.
  • When you are overwhelmed by time with family, holiday parties, conferences, or being around people in general, take a break to be alone. Go out for a run, make music, paint, or curl up to read or write. Be still, be quiet, and let your awareness go inward, toward the deep internal calm that is always there.
  • Breathe fully. Let the breath move freely through the entire body.
  • Make time for what you need.

On a personal note, this fall has been an interesting transition time (see my Big Decisions post from October). After a few months of not being fully involved in science, but teaching more studio yoga classes, I realized that that was not the right balance at this point. So here is the next next Big Decision in coming back toward a state of balance and riding the waves: I have accepted a Postdoctoral Fellow position starting in January, up the hill at NCAR (the National Center for Atmospheric Research, based here in Boulder at the iconic Mesa Lab overlooking the city), modeling the polar ice sheets and their interactions with the atmosphere and oceans to understand the changes that are coming with changing climatic conditions.

It is always amusing to see what falls into place. This decision in no way compromises my commitment and dedication to the practice of yoga, or to passing on those teachings. In fact, it gives me the freedom to fully follow both paths of science and yoga, and will also allow me to teach you in the most effective way. Starting in the New Year, I will be teaching much less in the form of regularly scheduled weekly classes, and I sincerely encourage you to consider joining me for one or more retreats next year. This actually follows more closely the way yoga has traditionally been taught by sages and teachers in the Himalayas for a long time – where you physically spend time with your teacher only occasionally. The real potency lies in what you take home with you from those periods of practice and study, and how you cultivate that over time through your own individual effort and practice. So I invite you to join me in Paonia in February and/or Mexico in May! See what grows out of it.

Enjoy the holidays. Please stay in touch, and know that I am here to support you in any way that I can.

With great love,

Aleah

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