She got quieter as she got older. Listening to the silence, she heard the words in between. They left no room for a response. Fewer words spoken, allowed for more to be absorbed. No need to interrupt with a quick reply she waited, as a long silent pause ebbed out. Enveloping the space, with the wisdom of the years, brought her peace to the present moment. The comfort of quiet brought her to a place of ease. No longer in need of answering questions or arguing concerns, she was free to be. Her own inner understanding was enough without a desire for others to see her the way she saw herself.
The echo breath in yoga, a technique of finding more breath to release after the initial exhale, is a concept to bring forward in life. When I think I have exhausted all possibilities, I find I have a bit left to push out. It signifies that I'm not done. There is more to let go of if I dig deep. A final cleansing can be found if a slight amount of effort is practiced. Thinking of my life and the need for the echo breath, in possessions, partnerships, and parenting, I reflect on what is left to exhale.
Organizing is therapeutic for me. I continuously review what items are in my home. Often, I rearrange them or set them aside for a season. Finding the ”echo breath” in my material goods, I rethink what I really need. Does it serve a purpose? What is its importance? Echoing the desire for minimalism I bring the breath into my buying. Considering an item, I breathe in. On the exhale I release the impetuous desire. Furthering exhaling, I determine whether the need is real or imagined. The breath gives pause to the moment, allowing for space and reason to override impulse. The right decision settles in.
A partnership is with a spouse, friends, or business associates. Limiting relationships, so the focus can be on the quality of it versus the quantity is what matters most to me. We have unlimited opportunities to partner with various people and groups. Time constraints only allow for a certain amount of choices. Choose wisely. Perhaps the echo breath is needed to really determine who and what you want to partner with? Breathing deeply and think about each significant partnership in your life. Does it line up with your current value system? Over the years my priorities have changed drastically. I am very conscious of how I spend my time. Who I am with and what I am doing matters. Make sure your partners align with your wants and needs. Boundaries or total release may be needed if they do not. Use your extra out breath to determine who’s right for you.
Using the echo breath while parenting can be the most difficult. You cannot donate or disregard your children. Boundaries can be set to a point, but if they are in your care, then total release is not possible. Finding the breath situationally could be the answer. Parenting gives us chances to practice breathing in response to escalating encounters. Learning to breathe through the chaos and discomfort provides the needed hesitation before conflict heightens. Adding an expiration at the end brings clarity and calm.
The practice of the echo breath in yoga class and beyond could supply the clearing of toxins that are housed in the physical, mental and spiritual realms. Finding a bit more breath to release can give you much needed space opening your world to new possibilities.
Susan J. McFarland
March 7, 2019
Sitting at a traffic light on a frosty, icy morning, I wait. The yoga studio is less than a mile away, but I must cross over the river. The light turns green, we inch our way up a bit closer than it’s red again. We sit. We wait. I am here, in the midst of freezing rain and snowy roads. Now is not the Now I want to be in. Drifting off into the realms of my imagination I dream of green trees, warm temperatures, and dry roads.
I could sit and bemoan the fact that I will be delayed in arriving to class. Being here, I could fret and fuss about the current driving conditions or curse the driver in front of me for going slow. Instead, I chose to casually drift away to a place of peace. Avoiding the Now is calling me to calm instead of chaos. Breathing in, I relax. Breathing out, I release.
There are moments in our lives where unpleasant activities occur. We must be in places that are physically or mentally uncomfortable. These are opportunities for practice. We practice remaining in a balanced state, while our surroundings are in confusion. Using tools from breathing and meditation, we observe the happenings without engaging in them. No need for reaction, we remain in tranquility. Staying in a state of serenity, the time passes and the light turns green.
Susan J. McFarland
February 28, 2019
A new teacher arrived at my yoga studio. First of all, most of the teachers are female. This teacher is a male. English is his second language, so he can be hard to understand. He is from India. His yoga teachings are authentic. Chanting OM and Hindu prayers, we began class. Feeling unsure, I followed instructions to the best of my ability. The class was challenging. Losing focus at times, I became impatient. The next day I was sore but happy that I was able to experience this form of yoga here in the USA. It was a gift.
Learning that this teacher is starting a yoga teacher training class with the owner of the studio, I was intrigued. Having considered yoga instruction as my next step, I started to inquire about the details. Asking questions of the studio and myself I pondered the idea of receiving authentic knowledge and ancient wisdom from India. Is this the right time and place for me to begin this journey? Am I up for the challenge? It would require a large time commitment. Pushing my body, mind, and spirit to its limit would be the reward.
We can become complacent with our lives. Once certain abilities are mastered, it is easy to remain in the comfort zone. The constant push and pull between ease and challenge, is the “yoga of life.” In poses, there is rest and effort. Some asanas are easy, others require extra endurance. This is the Yin and Yang of yoga called balance. Yoga teaches us to go beyond the confinement of our perceived limitations. A yoga practice is about personal growth and expansion, literally and figuratively. Some days, we exert more effort, while other days we might need to take it slow. Where are you in life? Is it time to challenge yourself? Authentic challenges can bring freshness and vitality to your soul.
Susan J. McFarland
February 21, 2019
As I sit here on Valentine’s Day, home with a sick daughter, I am coming to realize the true meaning of Love. Love is holding space for another when they can’t hold it for themselves. It’s going to the med center at night after a long day or bringing a hot cup of tea to soothe a sore throat. Love is allowing your baby, even if she’s a teen, to rest on your lap, risking illness of your own, just to give her a moment of comfort. Cards, flowers, and chocolates are nice, but they are only mere tokens of the deep and abiding Love of a parent for a child. God’s Love goes beyond this. The Love of the Universe is vast and ever-present. We just need to know where to look?
My older daughter asked if Valentine’s Day is just for romantic couples. No, I replied. It’s about bringing awareness to the Love in your life. It could be the Love of friends, family, pets, or even Nature. Love is all around us, but it’s especially within us. Love of others, nature, and life starts with self-love. Self-love is not something outside of us, but lives inward, near the heart. Search today for Love, find it, not in the external trappings of the world, but in the genuine and internal Heart of the Universe.
Susan J. McFarland
February 14, 2019
In its complication, winter has a way of simplifying life. We have had two days of school in two weeks due to snow, ice, and now power outages. I’ve created a simple morning routine of reading, yoga, writing, and language lessons, before the day begins. Since I’m up early with three cats, sleeping in is not an option.
We’ve lost power the last two days. Thankfully it came back both days by nightfall. Appreciating the simple things, like electricity, running water, and heat has reduced the complications in our lives. Waking up to power, I’m in a state of gratitude, as the temperatures are now dipping into single digits. The girls, with less school stress, are bonding together, like never before. Having a grocery store a mile away, has helped to simplify life, without an oven or a refrigerator. I didn’t need to worry about dinner this week! In the end, we managed to work together to stay safe and warm.
For now, I will learn from Nature. She asks us to examine our lives, by slowing way down to the fundamentals. What really matters? What truly needs to be done? We add so much to our lives, in order to gain an elusive feeling of worth and connection. It appears the reverse is true. It can actually be found, by simplifying life to our core needs, often found right in our own home, certainly found within our own spirit.
Susan J. McFarland
February 8, 2019
There is a photo circulating, about Michigan being closed for the day. We are in the middle of a winter weather advisory, with low temperatures and heavy snow accumulations. Living life as a snow globe has its advantages. School closed early, one daughter is at a friend’s house. I’m debating whether to drive to yoga this morning or enjoy my home practice? Getting groceries was on the “to do list," but It can wait a day or two, if needed. Snow days insist we change plans.
Outside my window is a world blanketed in white. Serene, quiet, and calm, falls the snow, gently, one flake at a time. Flakes don’t hurry. Each one is unique, beautiful, and alone, on its own. It floats happily to the ground, meeting up with friends, upon arrival. Snow days remind us to slow down. They give us space for living life; with friends, family, or a cat on the lap. One option I could choose, is to finish reading my book. Choices to be made, each moment, until the next, guide us to remember what matters most.
As the hustle retreats, we can truly enjoy each precious instant, beautiful and unique, like the snowflake. As moments accumulate together, over a lifetime, they create a scene much like a winter wonderland, within a snow globe. It is our responsibility to notice and appreciate the beauty of each unique one.
Susan J. McFarland
January 28, 2019
The first month of the year, provides us with a fresh start and a new beginning. After reflecting on the past year, I’m ready to welcome the new year with its new experiences. After returning from vacation post holidays, I not only unpacked, but reorganized, cleaned, and cleared a large part of my home. I’m not done yet. I probably will never be all done, but fresh starts need clean and clear spaces, in order to have room for the growth they require.
The starting point matters. The environment from which to begin again is important. Whether it be physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional, we must empty our vessel, to understand the base of our beginning. The start of the year is perfect to do this both in home and in body, but it can also be done daily or even throughout the day, if and as needed.
I love clear and organized spaces. If my home is messy, my mind is anxious. Not everyone feels this way, but if you do, starting from a place of tidiness will ease the stress of an over active mind. The worst is when I feel behind on my “to dos," both my mind and body are overwhelmed. Providing time each day for a moment to clear my head space helps ease the unsteady emotions associated with a busy schedule.
Start each today, first my clearing your mind, and then my managing your home of the daily clutter life brings. Done every day, there is less overwhelm and anxiousness. Living in calm and peace is the ultimate goal for the year.
Susan J. McFarland
January 11, 2019
Schedules have cleared. The house is free of Christmas decor. Presents have been unwrapped and put away. What’s left is the stillness and the silence of a year coming to a close. It is important to reflect on the past year and contemplate the one on the horizon. On the surface, much has changed, but at the core, all is the same. Love lives on, now, as it did a year ago.
We’ve experienced challenges and growth, opportunities and joy. School, sports, driving, homecoming dances, and break ups, have brought us together as a family. None of it has been easy, only necessary to learn how to maneuver our way through life. So many firsts, for teens and their parents, during these tumultuous years.
On the last Sunday of the year, I sit, while they sleep in their beds, resting from the constant distractions and drama that smart phones bring. In this moment, I breathe. I exhale that which no longer serves me and inhale that which brings me peace. I welcome the experiences of 2019, with an open heart. Knowing I have the awakened understanding of what it takes to care and comfort myself and those I love.
Susan J. McFarland
December 30, 2018
Mid December is here, Christmas fast approaching. The rush of present buying and birthday celebrations has passed, at least for me. Accomplishing December’s requirements in the first few weeks, makes us feel the hustle of the season. Then, the transition starts. Speeding into December with unheralded abandon, we switch gears to slowness and serenity, or at least that is the goal.
It’s not easy, to change direction. Momentum pushes us forward on the chosen path. It takes intention and a conscious effort to stop the machine. Holidays and vacations offer this gift. Forced alteration from the current path, brings a focus and renewal from any situation. Sometimes we just need to stop. Breathe. Look around and see where we are actually heading. Is this where we want to go? Is this the best way to get there? Life offers unlimited distractions. Are they providing us with growth toward our goal or do they give us an escape from our current status? There is nothing wrong with an occasional break from reality, as long as there is a conscious intention involved.
Christmas is a time when we can get caught up in expectations without intention; our’s, other’s, or society’s. Running full speed, we loose sight of our need for slowness and serenity. Moments of peace quietly call us. Christmas reminds us that the light and love we are searching for in all are comings and goings, is actually found in the stillness of any given moment. Christmas presents us with this gift, it is up to us to unwrap it.
Susan J. McFarland
December 12, 2018