Increase your sweet practice. Your practice will benefit you at another time; someday your need will be fulfilled. – Rumi
The Rumi quote above is the quote for week 3 of the Meditation Mantra of the Month; Sthira/stability, effort & Sukha/softness,ease. For now to increase my sweet practice means to remember it, cling to it, TRUST IT. That last one is it — trust your practice, Rachel.
I have not written a blog post or planned a retreat or written much of anything since this pandemic season started, despite having lots of thoughts in my head. I have depended heavily on words I wrote this summer, for All Together Now – daily practice guide. That’s how I know that the Rumi quote is week 3 of this particular Meditation Mantra of the Month. If left to my own devices right now, I’m not sure I would have been able to choose a mantra practice to focus on. I definitely would not have been able to find the quotes and write the reflections to go with it.
I wrote and edited the bulk of All Together Now this past summer, while I was on vacation with my family in Destin, FL. I would wake up super early and walk to a nearby coffee shop to write, so that I didn’t wake up the kids or my husband in our teeny tiny condo. Oddly enough, I couldn’t access the internet at the coffee shop. Everyone else could — it was just my #$@!% computer. In reality, this was like manna from God to provide me the boundaries that I desperately needed but was not able to put on myself.
Do you know the story of the Israelites crying out to God for food, and God sends manna, which literally means “what is this?”? Manna was their God-sent food to nourish them in mind, body, spirit. But with the food were built-in boundaries and practices of community that the people desperately needed, but would never have initiated themselves. Here are the ones that I remember best, you might remember others.
1. You had to go out and collect every morning — it had a shelf life. If you drag your feet because you just don’t “feel” like it some mornings — too bad — it’ll be gone and gross by the time you get in the mood for it. Part of the gift of the manna in the wilderness was the doing of collecting it, whether you felt like it or not. Also — manna isn’t going to be delivered to your front door. You had to get your butt up, regardless of how important you thought you were, and collect it yourself.
2. If you tried to hoard a little extra for your family it would turn to rot like that slimy, stinky spinach in your fridge.
3. Trust that there will be enough for tomorrow again, and you will get to/have to collect it again. You couldn’t store up enough for a few days. Saving for tomorrow or the next day gets you off the hook of trusting God and the community that there Is Enough — and in that action that seems like “being prepared” — you set yourself apart from God and community. You are then depending more on yourself, which means the community can’t depend on you, and you just let God know that you are fine on your own. Is that what you meant to do? Because all that preparedness and self-sufficiency just turns your manna into more rotting spinach with a side of fermenting quinoa.
This story of the manna in the wilderness and the grace filled gift of boundaries that came with it, is one of the two stories behind me naming this thing Daily Bread Yoga. Now you know. It’s not the Lord’s Prayer. It’s the “What Is This, God?”, practice when you don’t feel like it, a little bit every day-not once a month, don’t stock up, in the wilderness, that I relate to more.
So, back to this coffee shop in Destin where I didn’t have internet access. I didn’t need the internet to do the work. I needed to sit down and do the work, every day, and be fully present to it, whether I felt like it or not. Now I think it was the perfect set up. I wrote the daily practice guide over a couple months, but really the bulk of it happened in the early morning hours at a coffee shop, when I did not have any stress other than how blazing hot it can be in Florida in August. I was able to write during vacation what I would desperately need NOW, when I am at “safer-at-home”, losing track of what day it is, lost in the overwhelming, relentless monotony of days.
NOW — I need the daily. practice. guide, even though I literally wrote the book. I need it to keep track of what week of the month I am in – week 3. I need to be told what to focus on right now — this month it’s sthira/sukha — finding the sweet spot between effort and ease. This week the MIND practice is writing out my TRIP for the day (T-thankful, R-repent/new direction, I-intercession/prayer, P-priority). The SPIRIT practice for week 3 is balanced breath — making your inhales as long as your exhales, for 3 minutes, to feel a sensation of equilibrium.
So, dear Rumi — yes. I will increase, continue, and trust this sweet practice. What’s my sweet practice, you ask? Teaching yoga. Going outside. Dance parties in the kitchen. Thinking of new poses for chair yoga. Learning about kids brains to teach kids yoga better. Writing about the Meditation Mantra of the Month. I’m so grateful to the people who depend on me to start the ZOOM classes. You are the boundaries that keep me upright and teaching, whether I feel like it or not. I let this blog go for the last month or so because I didn’t feel like it — I was feeling SO much. I felt like I could stop writing and that would be good to rest, and I was so overwhelmed with words, and I don’t even know what else. But, I can’t. Writing is part of the practice for me — this practice of showing up and getting fed by the gift of the practice itself. [I KNOW — I have used the word practice way too many times. I think there are other tragedies in the world though, am I right?]
I didn’t mean for this to be such an obvious advertisement for the daily practice guide — BUUUUUT — If you want to buy one, two, or three, you can go over to the store on this site and buy one! I will happily send it to where ever it is that you live, and decorate the envelope too.
Normally I conclude these by inviting you to the next retreat or invite you to donate menstrual care products, or something. Instead I wonder what might be the manna for you right now in the midst of this season on pandemic? Remember, they didn’t see it as an answer to prayer right away. Their first response was more like, “What In God’s Name Is This?”.
Peace on your head — Rachel