Holy Hour

Ocean OMWell I thought it was about time that I get back into the groove of things and welcome everyone back to yoga classes next week. I have had 5 weeks off from teaching and even though it always seems like “time flies”, there has been a spaciousness to my summer this year. As I look back and reflect on the summer there have been gentle waves of ups and downs which have been a grateful change to the crashing waves I experienced in the first half of the year. I even recall saying to friends recently as I referred to the calmness lately as “I am riding the wave”. I remember my first experience of learning Kripalu teaching of “ride the wave of experience” 12 summers ago. The ability to ride the wave in yoga invites you to hold a posture and focus on the sensations. As they intensify and change and even fall away, it naturally draws your attention inwards. As you practice staying present in your body and relaxing into the moment, you allow the wave to rise, crest, and dissipate. This process of being able to feel fully cultivates an ability of letting go and inner freedom. The practice of being present is to BREATH, RELAX, FEEL, WATCH and ALLOW.

As I continue on the path of being present I also recognize that there are many things that I and “we” as humans, avoid or run away from dealing with. We all experience stress and traumas in our lives that are difficult to be present to all the time. It requires awareness, an inner courage and energy to be present. Sometimes when we can’t be there for ourselves, because the pain is too much to bare or it is even unconscious that we are avoided it, other beings can show up to be present for us. Their light of presence shines a light for us to see where we might be hiding. Is this not the whole point of Yoga. Once we learn and practice being there for ourselves, we learn to be compassionate and can then be present for others. I recently had a visit with an Ayurvedic therapist, Matthew Remski, who has a way of “holding space” for who I am and how I show up in the moment. And although I knew on some level how much my past experiences have affected me, with Matthew I was able to acknowledge how much I have gone through and how this has affected me. His presence invited me to be gentle with myself and I felt a deep love for my wounded self. Sometimes we find strength so that we can be strong for everyone else. But I really got in that moment that it is ok to fall apart too. And it is in falling apart that we can break free and heal the wounds. Matthew asked me what my “holy hour” is. This really struck me! The idea of taking a holy hour everyday for your “true self”. It can be anything that “feeds” your soul. Yoga, meditation, walking, gardening, baking, swimming, bubble bath, sauna, writing, reading, golf, painting, or anything that allows you to be in the present moment. Not something that you use to distract from the present but something that allows you to be fully immersed in the present with yourself. So many of us in this culture are so busy and bombarded with life and all the things that need to be done. Even I get caught in this trap of feeling like there is so much to do and not enough time to do it. The Holy Hour is a commitment to step out of the “doing”. I realized that my holy hour this summer was riding my bike. Even though I have a tendency to talk myself out of going for a ride…. it’s too cold, it’s too hot, I’m too busy, I too tired etc…. I have been consistently riding a few times a week. It makes me smile and I practice saying hi to everyone I pass, even though they don’t all say hi back. And riding down to the water definitely feeds my soul. It is in this space that I can open and fully feel the joy of the wind on my face and the freedom of my legs, especially going downhill. It allows me to open where I feel joy but it also allows me to feel any sadness that arrives in the moment. It is this holy hour that is naturally healing. You don’t need to plan healing, but only to commit to a holy hour to hold space for the possibility of healing.

As I recalled my life history and this past year with Matthew I allowed myself to acknowledge the difficulties and challenges I have gone through. Matthew reminded me that it takes time to heal traumas from your past and you can’t “plan” for healing. When you allow for space in your life, maybe by giving yourself a “holy hour” everyday, and trust that healing will naturally happen in the that space/opening. This also reminded me to be gentle with myself and honour myself for all of my strength and vulnerability.

So I continue to practice awareness on the yoga mat, and take it into everyday life on my bike, in the garden, with others.  The practice is to continue to develop the ability to stay present despite the steady stream of thoughts parading through the mind. As I practice “watching” I can see the mind’s tendency to grasp what is pleasant and push away what is painful, but can still choose to be present. This produces a flowing state of choiceless awareness that enables me to remain intimate with what’s going on inside. This is healing. The practice of Yoga serves as a potent catalyst for change. Whether the ride opens you to the bliss of relaxation, the raw power of emotional release, the pain of confronting limitations, or the heightened awareness of meditative states, every yoga experience frees up the flow of life force In the holy hour, whether it is your yoga practice or something else, you dissolve rigid boundaries of the self and allow transformation to enfold. Riding the Wave is Kripalu yoga’s approach to emotional release and is highly effective way to feel fully and free yourself of buried trauma, trapped emotion, and everyday emotional baggage. This leaves space for authenticity for you to be your True Self.

What is your holy hour? Where can you make space everyday for yourself? What do you need to let go of in order to create this space? Can you make this commitment to yourself?

As the weather cools off and my teaching schedule begins again, my holy hour may transition from my bike and the garden into something different. And although the practice may change, my intention to commit to myself will remain. ‘Cause one thing I know for sure, you can only love another as much as you love yourself. So I choose to make space for presence, healing, and love.



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