Saturday, July 25, 2015

Blue Sky Thinking

I have officially descended into summer slug mode. Part of me prefers to think of this as ascension because, really, this is the the first quarter of the only 4 months of the year during which I'm in a good mood.

I'm sure I've said this every summer (once the weather gets good) for the almost-9 years I've been blogging, but I am inexorably affected by climate, and only moreso as I get older and wiser. It's really too bad that I live in a place with horrid weather much of the year because, honestly, I wake up every blue-skied, sunny, cloudless, warm/hot/humid day feeling so content.

Look, I'm pretty well allergic to full sun. I get welts and itchy and the direct heat gives me headaches. I'm also one of the more light-sensitive people you'll meet. I've been known to wear my sunglasses inside for days at a time.

But put me in the shade, meditating on a cotton-ball cloud that ambles by, and I am nothing short of transfixed. Add a great glass of wine, some olives and cheese and it makes me want to cry at the joy of being alive and truly relaxed. It's taken me many years to understand that I am most happy when I walk from beautiful locale and restorative meal to meal but I can finally own it. If you include friends and thoughtful conversation, all's right in the world for me.

You know I'm participating in this Conscious Cleanse right now - it lasts till the end of Monday - so I've been experiencing the world through a new prism. The food's been rather clean (though I haven't given up a fraction of what the cleanse directs). I have fallen off the booze-free wagon over the past couple of days because I've had occasion to dine with friends in town for a short while and to go to an amazing cocktail party wherein this was one of the treats:

I've seen many a phenomenal raspberry tart in my day, but this was the most beautiful ever. No, I didn't taste it. It contained gluten. (I would have happily forgotten about my commitment to eschew white sugar but I'm going hardcore with the gluten cuz, really, it's an easy cut in the scheme of things.) I preferred to drink some wine, which lasts longer. And I enjoyed the gleeful expressions of those who partook of its deliciousness. There were also macarons from Nadege, pretty hard to resist. And some gorgeous savoury things - a perfectly cooked steak which I tried a slice of, colourful salads, great cheese...

I have in no way been self-sacrificing while participating in this cleanse. I've had wine, meat, dairy. Mind you, knowing myself, I didn't commit to giving them up - only to eating them with consciousness. The things I've given up full-scale are gluten and processed food. And I've persisted with those commitments. I've also been very successful (if we can even refer to this as success) when it comes to drinking 70 oz of water per day, eating many more fruits and vegetables than usual, drinking a green smoothie daily and doing a daily, pre-determined yoga practice.

I've been SO impressed with the format of this cleanse - the way it's conceptualized and organized to be gradual and thoughtful. I will definitely do it again (even as I'm totally ready for it to be done), and I may well do it differently (more strictly) next time. I want to gradually come to understand my limitations. I feel that doing this 3 times per year would be really helpful and pretty workable. And I've decided to come out of it as I went in - gradually over 2 weeks. So I'll take 3 months of the year to eat notably cleanly. And then I can eat - should I choose to go in this direction - with conscious abandonment the rest of the time :-)

One of the more interesting elements - though really, this cleanse has been awareness-motivating in small but meaningful ways on many fronts - has been the yoga. It's been a long time since I've done 12 days in a row of "full" yoga practice (not merely poses here and there on some of those days) - never mind via classes which are not devised by me to meet my self-determined needs. I'm a yoga loner, seriously self-directed, so doing 14 classes devised by someone else, to suit the aims of a cleanse, is very strange.

For starters, I can't see what's going on without my glasses no matter what time of day (so usually I just practice while listening to the teacher). Then there's the fact that I've had to do some of these practices first thing in the am, due to scheduling conflicts. I am NOT a morning yogi, morning being when my brain is most disengaged and my body at its least accommodating. So I've had to really hone my inner-focus because these practices are cross-methodological (many different styles are employed, some of which I am less familiar with than others i.e. Kundalini) and my regular resources - vision, flexibility, wakefulness, knowledge of variations - have been removed. This is to say nothing of my connectedness to the teaching style of some of the teachers who've led these classes.

For all of this, the yoga has been the easiest part for me, in that it's been the most knowable. I'm sure that's because I've had many years to acclimate to "yoga challenges", for example Sadhana (a 40 day, daily practice I've undertaken a couple of times). Sadhana was horrid for me, fwiw, because I had to travel each morning to a 6 am hour-long practice (took me 30 minutes to get there) and one of these sadhanas was during the late fall. It was like waking up to do yoga in the middle of the night. Talk about self-awareness building. Furthermore, I've had a long time to adapt to what "daily-practice-as-cleanse" means. In these instances, it really is NOT about the poses, but about the intention, the breath (tremendously) and the kriya.

I most definitely subscribe to the perspective that regular practice is devised to develop, in addition to spiritual awareness, physical skill and precision through asana. But that's not the gist of a cleanse practice. Cleanse yoga is when you call on the skills you've developed to test your limits on all the levels.

My, this post has bounced around! I began with the intention of advising you about why there's very little creative activity going on in these parts, due to the excellent weather. I've finished it by wondering if that's true :-)

At any rate, how's it going with your summer? Have you turned off the computer in favour of a patio? Are you all the more structured in your creativity right now? Doing any cleanses while the food is fresh? Let's talk!


  1. I've finally hit my summer stride, too! Absurd that it takes 3weeks to relax, and the last 3 weeks of vacation will be all gearing up for fall and losing sleep over it... 2 months off and I waste 6 weeks with stress headaches and constant lightheadedness? Ridiculous. Nevertheless, I'm in the sweet spot right now, and I'm determined to enjoy it! Glad you've recovered from your vacation and are now enjoying summer! :)

    1. Well I hope you're in the swing of it now (and still). Just hold onto that summer spirit for as long as possible. I'm working this angle and, in general, it's doable!

  2. We must be soul sisters. Your first four paragraphs are ME. — A fellow Torontonian