We must have faith in the efficacy of the practices of yoga. Unless we have faith in the ability of these practices to facilitate self-transformation, we will be unable to continue them when the going gets tough, boring, or demanding.– Patanjali
The next Saturday Morning Retreat is this Saturday, December 14th. I was going to cancel it for maybe a few reasons, but mostly because I felt the need for a spiritual palate cleanser. I wanted a mental break, not because I’m tired but because I feel stuck and redundant. I’m kind of bored by me, right now. I’m sick of hearing myself talk. Some seasons I have so much energy, so many ideas and new ways of seeing something, and then other times, all I’m thinking about is funny dog videos. That’s where I’m at.
My classes and retreats have been sparse lately. I’m thinking that other people might also be feeling the winter blahs and thinking they need to sleep in, take a break, rest. So, I thought that maybe we all “deserved” a break from the monthly Saturday Morning Retreat, and what better time to take a break than in mid-December, right? But after a very humbling sit-down with myself, I recognized that if I cancelled the retreat there is a chance I might not even put on a bra or brush my teeth that day. It would be a lazy Saturday morning in which I drag myself around the house drinking coffee and wishing OUT LOUD that the other people in my house would pick up after themselves. Who deserves that kind of fun day?
The Meditation Mantra of the Month is Sthira & Sukha. Sthira is the stability, effort, and strength in a pose. Sukha is the ease, comfort, and softness. The practice of sthira and sukha is to find that sweet spot between effort and ease. Finding that sweet spot of alignment, grounding, releasing, moving breath. That sweet spot is going to keep changing with each pose and depending on the day, so you need to keep tuning-in and notice where maybe your putting way too much effort into it, or maybe where you feel too soft — like a cold bowl of oatmeal, soft.
I looked at the retreat through the lens of sthira and sukha. How do I still do the retreat, but ease the heck up a little bit? How do I ease up without calling the whole thing off and meeting for coffee (this is always a temptation)? How do I not do the same old thing, and yet be consistent and true to myself? While unloading the dishwasher it occurred to me that MAYBE it didn’t have to all be on me. I can bring the container that is the Saturday Morning Retreat, practice some good, warming yoga, and then maybe we all care for each other a little bit? That might work?
This Saturday is our First Annual Spaluck Retreat! It’s like a potluck, but you don’t have to bring that same dish you bring to every potluck – please don’t. To this Spaluck Retreat participants will bring some kind of sweet practice of love, kindness, and advocacy that they enjoy at home. There are 13 of us (including me!) coming on Saturday morning. I don’t want to give away all of the special, small delights that we will be doing – maybe This Time I will remember to take pictures. But, they are all practices/pleasures/routines that fine tune the balance between effort and ease; sthira and sukha. There will be no $100 massages or Hawaiian vacations suggested. No one will be shoulding on us about drinking this elixir, or committing to a diet, or any “life-changing” gadget in particular. Just the small, daily delights that we practice in our own imperfect and messy lives (in central Illinois, where it is currently cold, dreary, and very gray).
If you aren’t one of the 12 other people who are coming to the First Annual Spaluck Retreat – and you would know if you are – maybe you can bring your spa practice to you? Or invite a friend over for a little spa time? Honestly, getting together with a friend is probably more rejuvenating than any pedicure.
Anyway. What I am taking away from all of this is Big Gratitude that the Saturday Morning Retreat dates are set in the calendar many months before they happen. I am so grateful that this yoga practice is routine enough in my life that it is not dependent on my mood, will power, or creativity. I am showing up, and trusting that the showing up is the far greater work than standing on one leg. And I am so stinking grateful for the grace in the practice of sthira and sukha; reminding me to check in and fine tune my effort and my ease. Sometimes it gives me a wee kick in the behind and whispers “come on – do this”, and other times it tucks me in under a heavy quilt and turns out the light.
Yes, there most definitely will be a Saturday Morning Retreat this weekend, and next month too. Retreats are sweet mornings of yoga, community, and quiet; a sweet little balance of effort and ease. Peace on your head, you.