Posts Tagged ‘body’

Dawn: When men of reason go to bed.
Ambrose Bierce

At the moment, I have a bit of a headache from not sleeping enough and not drinking enough fluids. Going to bed without drinking a few pints of water would spell a disaster for tomorrow morning, so I’ll down a pot of green tea and put my bedtime problem through the experiential learning cycle.

Remember the steps? There are four:

  • Action that leads to Experience;
  • Reflection;
  • Analysis;
  • and New Action based on that analysis.

For the purposes of this investigation, I’ll be looking at the habitual action of not getting to bed early enough.

Background information

As you might have deduced, our daughter is nearing her first birthday. This also means I am nearing the one-year anniversary of my last eight-hour stretch of sleep. Or even four-hour stretch. Yeah, she has plenty of wonderful skills and traits but sleeping through the night has never been on that list.

We cosleep, and she still wakes up a few times each night. As she is currently learning to walk, she often wakes up in a crouching or seated position, wondering how the heck she ended up there, and it’s my task to ease her back to sleep. That takes a bit of cognitive effort, so I’m constantly waking up and drifting back to sleep again.

Suffice to say that I live for Saturday mornings – the one day during the week when hubby takes care of our daughter’s morning routine and breakfast, and I get to put on earplugs and drift off to sleep for a few uninterrupted hours.

With that level of  sleep deprivation, you’d think I’d be jumping at the slightest chance to sleep some more. And indeed, every single morning I decide to go to bed early that night. And then every single night I curse at myself for getting to bed at midnight.

This calls for some investigation!

Action / Experience

We used to have a “laptops and TV off at 10 pm” rule in our household. At one point, it worked like a charm. Then something happened – it might actually have been the baby’s arrival – that totally wrecked and destroyed that beautiful rule. Mentally, I still make a note when the clock hits 10 pm. I just don’t act on it.

One of the reasons I dropped message boards for Lent is the sheer amount of time I was spending on them, most of it at night. Now, though, as I don’t read the boards, I’m doing something else. Like reading IttyBiz archives (as well as the comment threads!), Facebook-chatting or Skype-ing (Skyping? I never know) with friends, or watching TV and doing crafts.

A few nights ago, I caught myself at eleven thirty on the couch, watching an interview episode of The Real Housewives of NY. Yes, seriously. I’ve never watched the show, and I didn’t really know why I was interested in the interview, but there you have it.


How would you describe the situation in a sentence?

I stay up too late reading or watching TV even though I know I would be better off going to sleep.

What seems good about the situation?

I get me-time, a precious commodity when you’re responsible for the baby most of the day. I learn a lot, I get to observe interesting conversations taking place (or having taken place), I get to do something that feeds my intellect.

What seems bad about the situation?

I don’t sleep enough, which isn’t really helping with the brain-work I have to do during the day. I drink too much coffee, which might be a contributing factor in the whole staying-up-too-late cycle. I get frustrated every time I notice I’ve missed my bedtime, and sometimes I unfairly take it out on my husband.

I don’t have much of an evening routine, so stuff that needs to be done before bed gets put off until the last possible minute, and then I’m putting away the dishes when I really want to be sleeping already.

What feelings do you have about the situation?

I feel annoyed at myself for not being able to just stick to the bedtime.

I feel deprived at the thought of going to bed earlier, because that would limit my me-time significantly, as I spend the baby’s nap times working.

I feel frustrated by the whole situation.

I feel worried that if I don’t find a solution to the situation, my mental and physical health will suffer.

I feel guilty about indulging in reading and stuff when I should be sleeping.

I feel annoyed at the dishes that don’t make it to the dishwasher by themselves.

I feel disappointed that my routines have been shot after the baby’s birth.

I feel a need to push myself through this situation and not allow myself the space to let it simmer.


Is there something you’ve experienced before in the situation?

I’ve done the whole staying-up-till-midnight thing a lot, especially if I find something interesting to dive into. I’ve had books that I can’t stop reading, and instead of the “few pages before bed” I devour half of the book and get to sleep at two thirty.

The element of pushing myself through a situation, whipping myself into shape, and then getting annoyed when it doesn’t work, is a very familiar one too.

And the guilt about doing something that is purely for me (i.e. reading blogs or message boards, watching fluff on TV) when I should be doing something that benefits the greater good (i.e. sleeping to be a better mom and wife tomorrow) hits me whenever I need a break. I often have to consciously remind myself to take a break, only in this situation I’m actually hurting myself more by indulging than by sticking to the plan.

Are there common denominators in the elements of the situation?

Most of the stuff I do instead of sleeping are, in some way or form, imitations of social interaction. The message boards, the Facebook chat, blogs, even lousy reality TV – all of them share the element of social context.

They are also something that I do as an end in themselves, not as a means to some other end. Okay, maybe reading IttyBiz is a long-term investment into my future business, but it’s not like I’m actually learning anything with this sleep-deprived Swiss cheese brain.

Furthermore, they’re all mental activities, instead of physical ones. I’m relaxing by zoning out inside my head, instead of doing yoga or stretches or something else.

What seems important in the situation?

There’s the element of me-time and social context that jump out.

This has something to do with my search for identity. Somehow I seem to need reassurance that I still am an intelligent person who is able to think, learn and communicate. I seem to need space for my own thoughts about me and the world to percolate through what others think.

The social context is also important. My day-to-day social activities are so different from what they used to be that there is a deficit, a need that is not met.

Relaxation is also important. Sleep could bring that relaxation, but sleep is unconscious me-time. I seem to be looking for a sense that I am not just a mom. If I sleep whenever the baby is sleeping, my only experience of myself would be the mom identity.

Is there an element of some theory in the situation?

The guilt about not sticking to the plan makes me think of a concept I read in the first chapter of Switch – The Elephant and The Rider.

The jist is that the Elephant is our unconscious self that the Rider i.e. the conscious mind must reign in and control. When the Rider uses the right tactics to steer the Elephant, change happens more effortlessly. However, the Rider has to use a lot of energy initially to get the Elephant onto the right path.

At this point, I feel like I’m in a vicious cycle. My Rider doesn’t have the mental energy to keep steering my Elephant onto the path of going to sleep earlier. That lack of mental energy is caused by my lack of sleep. This means that the whole “deciding what happens and then pushing so hard it happens” approach won’t be much use here.

Another theory that comes to mind is the Sidetracked personality type that I learned about from Flylady. Being easily sidetracked, reading blogs or message boards is like quicksand. There’s always another conversation, another post, another link, another interesting topic. Hours upon hours go by without so much as a whisper of “hey, d’ya think maybe it’s time to do something else?”

Can you think of a recommendation for New Action?

Identity. Social context. Relaxation.

The first two needs do have to be addressed, but I have a feeling that the third one could be the ticket to try next, since it’s what I’m looking for after we’ve put the baby to bed.

If reading stuff online is out of the question (see the part about easily sidetracked and quicksand), I might try an approach where I don’t open the laptop for any reason whatsoever after 10 pm.

Also, if it’s relaxation I’m looking for, I might try to incorporate stretching, yoga or other calming physical activity into the last few hours of the night. The transition from yoga to evening routine might be gentler than trying to tear myself from an interesting (pseudo)social situation.

New Action

  • Laptop and TV off at 10 pm, if not earlier.
  • Stretch or do yoga around 10pm, possibly while watching TV (before 10 pm, that is).

I’ll see how this works out and keep you posted. 🙂

Any thoughts or comments on bedtimes, the Experiential cycle, relaxation or sleep deprivation? 😉 You’re welcome to share in the comments. Any thoughts on addressing the issues of identity and social circle are also welcome, although I do reserve the right to not take action on any advice on the matter.

Thank you so much for reading! I’ll sip up the rest of my tea and get some stretches in before bed. If you want to hear how things progress, subscribe to the feed! Oh, and keep catching your own insightings!



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It’s trusting that doing things to take care of yourself doesn’t mean that anyone else is less important.
Havi Brooks (on sovereignity)

I’ve been wanting to re-establish my Shiva Nata practice for a while, now. The fact that it’s been gone for a while, though, suggests that there’s something else lurking in the shadows, too. And what would be a better way to figure out the lurkers than to do some Shiva Nata and then let my mind associate its way to the answer.

Meta Nata

The good thing about not having done serious Shiva Nata for a while is that I’m really rusty. In other words, it doesn’t take too much to get me mixed up and open to epiphany central. This time, I only had to do a few starting positions of Level 2 with legs, and it wasn’t long until I was getting lost and having to start again.

Excellent. 🙂

After doing about four starting positions and mirror reflections of Level 2, I grabbed a glass of water and sat down at my computer. My husband had agreed to take care of the baby while I did my Shiva Nata and writing, so I could concentrate.

At the top of the document, I wrote “Why am I not doing Shiva Nata?” and took a sip of water. Then, I started writing all the things that popped into my awareness. And believe me, there was a lot of popping happening


It has been quite a while since I’ve had one of those “well, duh!” -moments about my patterns. Then again, with the break in Shiva Nata, that’s no surprise either. 🙂 I discovered a few different threads behind my resistance (or maybe indifference?) towards doing Shiva Nata.

The biggest pattern behind it, however, was the whole “not putting myself first” thing. As in, I often remember the possibility of doing Shiva Nata late in the evening, when I’m already going to bed. At that point, I don’t want to give my brain the kind of zap Shiva Nata would cause, so I skip it. In the morning, I hardly have any time to grab breakfast, since the baby needs to be fed, changed, clad and cuddled. And all through the day, I’m more or less tied to the baby when she’s awake.

My husband does help with the baby, of course, but since I’m the one with the food, I can’t delegate all of the responsibility to him. And when the baby sleeps during the day, I seem to gravitate towards less physical activities, such as watching TV or hanging out online.

There’s also the body aspect. During pregnancy and right after giving birth, there’s a kind of protective barrier around the body image. It’s not as much my body as it is a vessel of taking care of, and bringing about, a whole new person. As soon as I start taking care of my body purely for the sake of me, I become (as the voices in my head bellow) a selfish person who puts her own well-being before that of her baby, and how can I be such a horrible monster.

The oxygen mask thing

Yesterday, Havi wrote about sovereignity. About putting your own oxygen mask on first. Incidentally, that’s also what Flylady is all about – loving yourself first so there’s enough of you left to take care of others, too.

I’ve already realized I have to drink enough water and eat well to be able to feed the baby. I’m also beginning to realize I have to get my sleep when the baby sleeps (even though she currently sleeps like an angel, only getting up a few times a night to feed) so I’m not overwhelmingly tired when she’s awake. Being tired makes it easier to start resenting her for demanding care – something I don’t want to end up doing.

In addition to the physical aspects, I think I also have to take care of my mind. The better I feel about myself both physically and mentally, the better equipped I am to interact with her, to connect with my baby, to find ways to communicate. It’s easier for me to try and figure out the message she’s sending when she cries, so I can respond to her needs and eventually remove the cause of her discomfort. I have the energy and the motivation to provide her with inspiration and learning opportunities. In short, I’ll be a better mother when I take care of myself.

Plus, I’ll be a happier person for my own sake. And no, it’s not selfishness, if I’m not doing it at the expense of other people. (This is a huge statement, coming from me, by the way.) Now, if only I could find a way to remember this tomorrow. And the day after, and the day after that.

My goal? Trying to put in five minutes of Shiva Nata every day, topped off with a few minutes of quiet sitting down. I think that’s manageable, even with a two-month-old fighting for my attention. After all, we’ll both benefit from it.

Thank you for stopping by again – and keep catching your own (possibly Shiva Nata-inspired) insightings!



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“The greatest weakness of all is the great fear of appearing weak”
Jacques Benigne Bossuel

For several months now, my life has been different from what it used to be. My husband and I are expecting our first child in early April. Of course I knew pregnancy throws curve balls at you and changes your life. I just never realized all the changes that were coming.

Oh, the weakness

Despite the fact the pregnancy  has gone well, I’ve been surprised that my physical stamina has decreased so much. On the one hand, the physical changes are the easiest ones to understand. After all, there’s a whole new person in there to carry around and feed and nurture. Weight distribution as well as hormonal changes in ligaments and muscles play a part, of course.

It’s still amusing, though. Anything I drop on the floor I have to struggle to get up, because there’s a baby bump in the way. My walking speed has decreased to a third of what it used to be. I can’t really lift anything or climb anywhere.  Not that I was an olympic gymnast or a triathlete before – still, the distinction is obvious.

The funny thing is, though, that physical weakness is not the only effect I’ve noticed.

Not getting things done

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been efficient at everything. Studying full-time while working part-time and having several hobbies and activities has been the norm. Sure, there have been times when I’ve felt exhausted in the process, but I’ve always enjoyed having a stack of plates spinning in the air.

I tried that this past fall and winter, too. Result? I was about five minutes away from burning out completely, when I finally realized I had to cut back on the stress and activities. I was constantly exhausted, procrastinating and missing deadlines, simply because I did not have the energy to do everything. Missing deadlines led to guilt, which kept eating at what little resources I had left. Even though I kept to eight hours of sleep each night and tried my best to unwind during weekends, I was beat.

I finally realized I had to slow down. If not for my own sake then for the sake of my baby. Giving up interesting projects and rescheduling my studies was incredibly difficult – mentally, that is. People were very understanding when I told them I had to take it easy because of the pregnancy. In my head, though, I struggled for quite a while before I dared to pull out the pregnancy card. Everyone says pregnancy is not an illness or a disease. I didn’t want to be the “ooh, I’m pregnant, I can’t do that” girl. The thing was, though, that I couldn’t do all of it.

Pregnancy brain

Being inefficient and tired is, of course, pretty unpleasant. The one thing that has really annoyed me about the pregnancy symptoms, though, is pregnancy brain. I don’t know if it’s caused by the tiredness and stress or if there’s some other reason for it, but I notice I’ve lost some of my mental mojo during the past few months.

The thing is, I’m used to being the sharp one. I know I’m intelligent, and with the added bonus of Shiva Nata, there have been times when I’ve probably been exceptionally smart. This pregnancy, though, has not been one of those times.

True, my Shiva Nata practice has been on the back burner, partly due to the fatigue. Still, it’s incredibly annoying to forget things, to not think of something perfectly logical, or to have to ask others to explain things to me. It’s somewhat scary, too – does this mean my wit and smarts are gone for good? Am I regressing to the level where I’m fit to communicate with an infant and nobody else? Geesh.

Um, embrace it?

For the past month, I’ve been trying to wrap my pregnancy brain around all this. It seems I have two choices: either I accept what’s going on and admit I’m this mentally, physically and intellectually weak person, or I don’t. If I choose not to accept it, I’ll have to draw up a plan of action to energise and invigorate myself.

Either way, I still have to start with the realisation that yes, this is where I am now. At the moment, my body-mind is going crazy with hormonal and other changes, and the only thing that will stop that from happening is having the baby. And since I’m hoping not to do that in the next month, I’ll have to live with the weaknesses.

For what it’s worth, for the next two months I still have the pregnancy card I can whip out whenever anyone asks. 🙂

Because of my pregnancy brain, I can’t think of a good way to end the post except saying thank you again for stopping by and reading these thoughts. And, as always, keep catching your own insightings!



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Plateaus happen. When you’re ready for the practice it will call to you.
Havi Brooks, Dance of Shiva Special Report #1

After a long silence in Insightings-ville, I received a comment on the I Heart Shiva Nata post. Kat wanted to hear my thoughts on Shiva Nata after doing it for more than nine months now. In fact, this was something I’d been meaning to post about, but there were some obstacles in the way. I’ll dedicate this post to answering Kat’s question, and then address the obstacles in a future post – there are some interesting threads to untangle there, too. 🙂

A year’s worth of Shiva Nata

I first tried Shiva Nata in June, 2008. From the first moment, I was hooked. I managed to establish a morning routine of Shiva Nata, yoga and meditation, and I felt awesome. Once or twice I taught the basics to a few people, and they were psyched as well. I was doing level 3 with movements in space, slowly moving on to level 4.

The morning routine carried as far as last spring. Then, for reasons I’ll get back to, I fell of the proverbial Shiva Nata wagon, and did maybe one or two practices a month for a good while. I’d do a few starting positions of level 4 arms to get my brain going in the middle of a work day, or a few level 4 arms-and-legs if I managed to get up early enough in the morning. Nothing as habitual as the routine I used to have, though.

What surprised me about that was how okay I was with that. 🙂 In the Starter Kit (that I devoured right in the beginning as I was waiting for the DVD to hit my mailbox), Havi makes several fabulous points about the practice, but one of them was especially important to a recovering perfectionist like myself.

Plateaus happen.

Maybe this was one thing Shiva Nata had managed to drill into my unconscious. Not doing the practice is no reason to feel guilty. Not doing the practice is just something that works for you right now. When doing the practice starts working for you again, it will feel more natural and less guilt-inducing.

And it will start calling to you. 🙂 Within two days, I received an email from Havi telling me the access information to the Starter Kit (which I’d incidentally lost as my hard drive crashed in the spring) and Kat’s comment asking me about Shiva Nata. If that’s not the universe nudging me, I don’t know what is. 😉

So currently, I’m feeling a growing warmth towards Shiva Nata again. There’s no need for me to rush things with the practice – there will still be a lot of brain-pudding-inducing hardness in the future levels, and I don’t need to catch up with the time I’ve “lost” not doing the practice. I’m still working on level 4 with legs, and hope to move to level 4 with movements in space sometime. And after that? I’ll figure it out when I get there.

I’m still convinced by the fabulousness that is Shiva Nata, and consider myself a Shivanaut. Maybe one on an orbit?

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading my thoughts on this, and feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments! And as always – keep catching your own insightings!



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Unless you move, the place where you are is the place where you will always be.
Ashleigh Brilliant

It’s Day Three of the Great Move. So far, we’ve managed to get most of the essentials to the new place, but there’s still a lot left to pack at the old apartment.

Even though a move only counts for about 20 points on the Holmes Stress Scale (here and here), it does provide suitable conditions for a makeshift life laboratory.

It’s just round the corner.

Our old place and our new place are no more than a few kilometers apart. In other words, it’s no trouble driving between the two to get a few boxes, right? Especially since we don’t have to give up the old place until next Friday, right?

Right this moment, I’m sitting on the living room floor at our old apartment, and looking around at the stuff that still needs to be packed. In all honesty, we would’ve had to start packing three weeks ago if we’d wanted to get things wrapped up before last Friday. We didn’t. Sure, there were work deadlines, renovations at the new place and other pressing matters, but I think the biggest thing stopping us from packing was the perceived convenience of “Oh, we’ll just get the stuff over one car load at a time.”

If, on the other hand, we had moved across the country, or even across the city, we’d have been forced to get the stuff shifted in one day. No matter how tired, no matter how busy, we’d have found a way to get everything set.

I’m sure that if we’d taken the “get it all packed now” route, we would be just as exhausted at this point as we are now. We would, however, have everything in one place. We’d still have 150 boxes marked ‘miscellaneous’, but the effort would be contained within the walls of one apartment, not in two places.

And I won’t even mention the fact that we wouldn’t have to drive tired.

Ah well, you live and you learn, right?

Basic maintenance

Eat. Drink water. Sleep. Sit down and stare into nothingness.

With so much to do, it’s easy to slip into a frenzy of “I have to finish one more thing, and one more thing, and one more…” Before you know it, you’ve been awake for eight hours and haven’t had breakfast yet.

All through this moving process, I’ve tried to be deliberately selfish in getting enough sleep. With no days off between my latest work deadline and the move, however, I’ve managed to morph into a nagging, irritable witch. After listening to me all morning, my fiancé gently told me that maybe I should take a break.

After my break – watching Shrek the Third – I had a bunch of energy to start working on the apartment again. In hindsight, it was obvious that I needed the break, but I couldn’t see it until someone else pointed it out.

A few hours later we’d taken a nap and were drinking coffee, and I realized my fiancé hadn’t taken a proper break all day. Then and there, I advised him to sit down on the couch and spend the next hour watching sports. It was like someone had switched on a lightbulb in his eyes – “oh, right, I must be pretty tired.”

My brain knows I have to sleep, eat, drink water and slack off every now and then. When it’s tired, hungry, dehydrated or super-stressed, though, it doesn’t remember. It needs reminders.

Everyone’s not moving

Whenever there’s a huge life change going on, you’re naturally immersed in it. A big percentage of your thought processes revolve around it – a death, a wedding, a move, a trip, a fight with a loved one.

Up until last summer, I worked as a church camp teacher every summer. The camps were seven nights long, and we’d have between twenty and thirty fifteen-year-olds, a handful of sixteen-year-olds, and a few older teenagers as well as the teachers. During the eight days, the days were packed with activity from eight in the morning to eleven at night – and sometimes after that, too, if the kids decided to break the rules and seek each other’s company after bedtime.

After we’d said goodnight to the kids, I’d often call home to chat about the day. Every time, it was a surprise that there was life outside the camp bubble as well. The things that were huge in the bubble were not that interesting to people outside, and vice versa.

During this move, I’m noticing a similar phenomenon. The days have been so intense that I have little mental capacity for anything else. Talking to my friends, though, I get a few questions and the eventual polite “uhhuh, really?”.

On the one hand, it’s refreshing – there’s life outside, there really is! On the other hand, though, it feels easier to just communicate within the same frame of reference, and at the moment the only person sharing my frame is my fiancé. After the stress wears down, I’ll have more energy to focus outside the bubble as well.

Lovely of you to stop by again – feel free to share your insightings, moving-related or otherwise, in the comments!



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Feedback is the breakfast of champions.
Ken Blanchard quotes

I found a late Christmas present for myself: a book on The Alexander Technique by Missy Vineyard. Immersed in it all weekend long, I’ve several times felt the need to put down the book and go stand in front of a mirror. Getting the full hang of the Technique without a teacher is naturally very difficult, but seeing as Alexander himself managed to get somewhere with the help of a mirror, so can I.

One of the most powerful realizations that has come to me while reading the book is the notion that my body sometimes thinks wrong is right and right is wrong. Case in point: I’m standing in front of the mirror, trying to correct my posture, and I constantly feel like I’ll tip over on my face, even though I can see I’m standing up straight.

Or I notice I lift my shoulders as I inhale, even though I know my lungs don’t need to expand into the space occupied by my shoulder muscles.

This is difficult, of course, since I’d have to have a set of full-length mirrors to see myself from every angle without straining my neck and changing my posture. This is why it’s useful to have a real Alexander Technique teacher to give you feedback on the process.

Human mirrors

One of the courses I’m taking involves evaluating and grading students’ performance. We’ve had interesting discussions about all the aspects that influence the grade a student gets – from their performance to the features of the exam to the alertness of the teacher grading the exam to the gender of the student to the overall grading culture of the school.

All the external things aside, the grade should ideally function as a device of feedback, both to the student and the teacher. If the student gets a C in English, it says something about the way he or she has been studying – the time and effort as well as studying skills – not just the natural aptitude he or she has for the topic. If the entire class gets a D after a certain course, it says something about the teaching, too.

Personal and interpersonal factors distort the mirrors. A teacher who thinks girls are hopeless at physics might give female students a break and grade their exam more leniently than the male students’ exams. This could have two outcomes.

One, the female student feels hopeful and inspired and takes a sudden interest in physics. Two, the female student falsely reasons that there is nothing wrong with the way she studies physics, and changes nothing.

When I was in high school, the second course of physics I took was course number five, wave physics. I loved it. I totally got what the teacher was saying, I understood the concepts and how they linked, I learned how to tune a guitar based on what I learned about sound wave interference. I totally rocked.

Then I took the exam, and got an F.

What I had failed to realize was that you can’t study physics the same way you study history or psychology. You need to remember formulae and be able to calculate the numbers that prove your point. If the teacher had given me a D for trying, I probably would never had studied extended physics all through high school.

Incidentally, I did retake the course a year later and got an A-. By then, I had learned the necessary skills to study physics in high school. I needed the feedback so I could develop myself.

Are you here to educate?

In purely behavioristic terms*, we teach other people how to treat us. If we never object when our friends blow off a date at the last minute, they will learn that we don’t mind them doing so. Response to the stimulus, or feedback, is very important in interpersonal relationships as well.

*There are naturally plenty of other mechanisms to learning as well, and I’m certainly not advocating it’s a purely stimulus-and-response process. 🙂

There is a fine line between giving actual honest feedback and teaching someone a lesson, though.

Say a friend calls me thirty minutes before we were supposed to meet for coffee, and tells me she has made other plans. Again. I feel hurt, neglected and unappreciated.

If I want to give feedback, I’ll tell her I’m feeling hurt, neglected and unappreciated. Or that I don’t appreciate her behavior and I’d like her to change it, please.

If I want to teach her a lesson, I’ll act as if nothing is wrong, take a raincheck on our coffee, and then call her to cancel thirty minutes before we’re supposed to meet. By doing so, I’m hoping to make her notice how bad it feels when someone blows you off.

Except that they might already have other plans again. Or they might be all right with sudden schedule changes and happily agree to cancel the date. Or they deduce that since I’m doing this too, it’s perfectly all right to keep on doing it. In which case my lesson is a complete waste of time and effort, and I’m worse off than when I started.

Trying to force empathy is never a good strategy. Being open and honest about the way you feel and being consistent about the way you react to someone’s behavior are more likely to get you somewhere. If they aren’t here to be taught, don’t try to force realizations on them.

If I told my friend I couldn’t accept her behavior and she ignored me, I could just tell her I didn’t want to set any schedules to meet up with her. That consequence might spark a real learning experience that would result in a changed behavior.

Again, thank you for stopping by, and until we meet again – keep catching your insightings!



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It’s like liquid math. Only you don’t have to understand it to have it work for you.
Havi Brooks

Shiva Nata is a mind-bogglingly difficult system of forms that is based on eight basic arm positions and all the possible combinations and configurations of those positions.

When you’re doing it wrong, you’re doing it right.

When you’re doing it right, it’s time to up the stakes.

And there’s no way you’ll ever get to a level where you’re done.

For some time now, I’ve been hooked on it, both for the physical aspects and the mental ones. Activating your entire body and rewiring your brain? Brilliant.

How I started?

First, there was Havi’s blog.  Or that’s what I found first. Eventually I found my way to the Shiva Nata Starter Kit page, and read it at least five times during the course of a week before I was finally brave enough to invest in it. Sure, it was a bit of a splurge on a student budget, but I figured I’d get it for myself for an early birthday present.

Background: I’m not what you’d call an athlete. I used to do folk dance for ten years, and I guess that taught me to isolate arm and leg movements, but other than that, I was far from graceful. In fact, just the previous year, I’d given myself a concussion as I hit my head on a wall.

In other words, the prospect of gaining more grace and coordination was very welcome. I was also as flexible as concrete, and I have a genetically wonky back that requires daily attention and exercise. Which I was skipping. And reaping the *ouch* benefits.

Since the DVD took a few days to ship, I started out with the printable arm position sheet and level 1 sequences.

There I was, standing in our kitchen, arms sticking out in weird positions that I never knew my shoulders could bend into, trying to remember the next movement, feeling my brain boiling. Brilliant.

The thing that stuck with me from the starter kit was the permission to only do five minutes. Especially when I did it without the DVD, five minutes of trying to remember how the sequence went was plenty.

With the DVD, I could outsource the remembering process and was able to do ten or fifteen minutes before I felt my brain and arms were about to fry.

Meditation and journaling

Doing Shiva Nata also introduced me to meditation – something I’d been too jittery to do before. I mean, sitting still for five minutes and breathing and not thinking about anything? Yeah, right.

The recommendation was that after doing a practice of Shiva Nata, it’s wise to take a few moments to sit still and let everything absorb and connect.

For me, it’s also something I need to even out my focus so I’m able to communicate with others without snapping. If someone (read: my darling fiancé) interrupts me during my Shiva Nata sequence and asks me a question, I’m literally so focused on the practice that I can’t answer him in polysyllabic words.

In addition to the sitting-still-and-absorbing (or what the more enlightened ones call meditation), I’ve started journaling after the practice as well. Whatever comes up, I write down. It helps me catch the ideas and insightings whirring in my head and put them into a form I can process further.

Where am I now?

I won’t even go into the spectacular pattern-busting powers of Shiva Nata. You can read all about that from the spectacular Havi Brooks herself. Spectacular.

As far as patterns go, though, I have managed to create myself a morning practice of Shiva Nata, yoga, meditation and journaling. So much so that I feel I can’t really function before I get a few starting positions done. Kind of like a morning cup of coffee for some people.

Whenever I’m stuck with a brain project – blogging, studies, writing – I take a few minutes to do a few starting positions from level 1 or 2 followed by a few minutes of sitting down. More often than not, I get a *ding* insighting about the project when I get back to work.

So far, I haven’t had a life-changing, mind-blowing, *BOOM* epiphany or insighting during my practice. Instead, I have these little *ding* *ding* insightings more or less every day. Some I blog about. Some I talk about with my friends. Some I only journal about.

I do get scaredy-pants about the practice as well. Skipping days or doing sequences that are not holy-baloney difficult.

The cool thing is I can often catch myself mid-process. I can see the motives for skipping or procrastinating – in this and in other things – and I can try to be all accepting about it.

And my back sings the praise of Shiva Nata. All the standing-on-one-leg-waving-arms-around stuff really targets your core muscles, y’know? The yoga helps too, of course. I mean, I’ve actually learned to like yoga. Imagine that. 🙂

I don’t think I’d ever started blogging, either, if it wasn’t for Shiva Nata. I wouldn’t have had the confidence to put myself out there, or the security that I can come up with things to write about several times a week.

Incidentally, before I started crafting today’s post, I did a few starting positions of level 3 with square feet, and got royally lost. Halfway through one cycle I realized I was doing something terribly wrong. My reaction? “Yess.” For a recovering perfectionist, this is a big deal.

I’ll try and write about my Shiva Nata practice (that word still sounds so official) as I progress.

In the meantime, if you want to read more, I recommend visiting Havi and James, who are both totally awesome. And cool enough to call themselves Shivanauts* – I’m still wrestling the we’re-not-worthy syndrome with that. Say hi from me if you decide to pop over for a visit. 🙂

*a term that makes me think of a four-arm Shiva statue with a space helmet. Funnily enough, when I started doing Shiva Nata, my fiancé called it “the astro dance” without ever having heard the term. I might be the only person in the world who finds that funny.

And until we meet again – keep catching your own, possibly Shiva Nata -inspired, insightings!



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