Tag Archives: Yoga

The end of the world from a fiction perspective.

19 Dec

I just finished reading Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver, and the basic focus of the novel, the concept of climate change, connects well with the possible end of the world on Friday, according to the Mayans. Here is the synopsis of the novel, according to GoodReads.com:

“Flight Behavior” transfixes from its opening scene, when a young woman’s narrow experience of life is thrown wide with the force of a raging fire. In the lyrical language of her native Appalachia, Barbara Kingsolver bares the rich, tarnished humanity of her novel’s inhabitants and unearths the modern complexities of rural existence. Characters and reader alike are quickly carried beyond familiar territory here, into the unsettled ground of science, faith, and everyday truces between reason and conviction.

Dellarobia Turnbow is a restless farm wife who gave up her own plans when she accidentally became pregnant at seventeen. Now, after a decade of domestic disharmony on a failing farm, she has settled for permanent disappointment but seeks momentary escape through an obsessive flirtation with a younger man. As she hikes up a mountain road behind her house to a secret tryst, she encounters a shocking sight: a silent, forested valley filled with what looks like a lake of fire. She can only understand it as a cautionary miracle, but it sparks a raft of other explanations from scientists, religious leaders, and the media. The bewildering emergency draws rural farmers into unexpected acquaintance with urbane journalists, opportunists, sightseers, and a striking biologist with his own stake in the outcome. As the community lines up to judge the woman and her miracle, Dellarobia confronts her family, her church, her town, and a larger world, in a flight toward truth that could undo all she has ever believed.

“Flight Behavior” takes on one of the most contentious subjects of our time: climate change. With a deft and versatile empathy Kingsolver dissects the motives that drive denial and belief in a precarious world.

Though Flight Behavior wasn’t one of my favorites by Kingsolver and I often felt like I was trudging through most of the novel, it did provide a fictional account of climate change as well as the possible end of the world. Personally, I do not believe the world is going to end on Friday. I know there are many people who either strongly believe the world will end on Friday, strongly don’t or are simply torn on the subject. In my personal opinion, I just don’t feel there is enough concrete evidence to support the end of the world. Yes, people have tried making connections by stretching the importance of certain events, but in my opinion, all of the sporadic events possibly connected to the prospect of the world ending on Friday just don’t add up to a solid reason.

Despite not believing the world is going to end on Friday, Flight Behavior got me thinking about what I would do if I knew the world was going to end within a matter of days, or even hours. My two necessities would be to tell my friends and family how much I love them, and then I’d spend my last few hours of existence sitting at a scenic overlook along the Blue Ridge Parkway. Though I doubt too many people would be able to fully understand the desire to be alone right before the end of existence, I love the mountains and the Blue Ridge Parkway in a way that’s truly hard to describe. I just know that when I am sitting at an overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway, I am the happiest I have ever been. The mountains have always been my favorite kind of landscape, and when I have the chance to simply sit and enjoy their beauty, nothing can beat that feeling of true contentment that I feel. In those moments, it’s as if all the troubles of the world melt away, and the only thing that matters is the natural beauty that is right in front of me. In my restorative yoga class, we talk a lot about striving to reach inner peace, which is also related to the Buddhist philosophy. Through meditation exercises in my restorative yoga class, I’ve gotten glimpses of that “inner peace.” And truthfully, if the world was going to end within a matter of days, I’d be perched at an overlook along the Parkway allowing the natural beauty of the mountains to help me find the pure happiness that I know resides somewhere within each one of us.

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Gilmore Girls as stress relief.

28 Nov

As stress reaches extreme levels this week due to research papers, final presentations and final exams, I’ve had to give myself daily stress relief so I can keep my sanity. Yesterday’s stress relief involved 20 minutes on the elliptical at the campus gym and 30 minutes of yoga stretches, which was just what I needed. Today, however, after a long day of classes and a night of studying for my Humanities exam tomorrow and working on my Humanities research paper ahead of me, I know I need an extra special stress relief. Therefore, I’ve turned to the stress relief classic: Gilmore Girls. It’s a tv show that never ceases to relax me and make me laugh. To make things even better, I’m giving myself a double dose. 🙂

The power of awareness.

13 Oct

Yesterday in my restorative yoga class at Asheville Community Yoga, something incredible happened. In restorative yoga, there are a number of supported poses that we do in order to reach a state of deep relaxation. Even though I’ve been going to the class since last year, I’m just starting to get back into going regularly again. In terms of my restorative class though, I often find that once I’m able to make myself go to class I remember why I started going in the first place. As well as being able to deeply relax after a busy week, yoga is another activity that I do completely for myself. It has no other purpose other than helping me to relax and making me happy.

Restorative yoga is made up of a number of supported poses. The final pose is called shavasana, or corpse pose. During shavasana, my yoga teacher leads us through a guided meditation in order to reach yoga nidra. Yoga nidra is a “sleep-like” state in which you reach a state of deep relaxation. During the yoga nidra yesterday, as my yoga teacher was guiding us through a meditation, he reminded us to become aware of what was happening around us. He urged us to become aware of ourselves, our bodies, our breath, and our thoughts. During the awareness exercise, a dog started barking outside. After a while, my yoga teacher instructed us to become aware to the dog barking outside. A few minutes later, the dog stopped barking, and my yoga teacher told us to become aware to the fact that the dog stopped barking as soon as we focused our awareness towards it.

Even though the fact that the dog stopped barking as soon as we were made aware of it doesn’t seem like such a big deal now, it was an incredible experience in the moment. It helped me better understand the power of awareness and why it’s such a key tool in yoga. As I was talking with my yoga teacher after class, we both were still amazed at the experience with the dog. I think it’s one of the coolest moments I’ve experienced since beginning restorative yoga. The awesome thing is that now my yoga teacher and I (and everyone else in the class yesterday) are able to share that moment, and no one is able to take that experience from us. It’s made us more connected, even if we may never see each other again. We have that shared experience, and I bet that for many of us, that moment will stay with us for quite a while.

NPR: Music Therapy Treats Stress And Speech Disorders.

5 Apr

I just listened to this on NPR’s website, an article about the benefits of music therapy in the field of mental health. Here’s the story: Treating Stress, Speech Disorders With Music

This was a really interesting story for me to hear. I was introduced to the concept of music therapy when I read Jodi Picoult’s, Sing You Home, last year. Though I had heard that music could have an impact on the mentally ill and those who are sick, it was interesting to read Picoult’s novel so that I could learn more about how music therapy works.

This NPR story explains music therapy in greater detail, so have a listen if you’d like. Within the story, when a musician gives a snippet of a musical therapy session, it reminded of meditation and visual meditation. According to the musician, he instructs one to listen to the music that he is playing while focusing on your breathing. Therefore, I found it interesting that music therapy has a strong connection with yoga and guided meditation.

Become Aware.

25 Mar

I went to my first early morning meditation class today at Asheville Community Yoga. Even though it was raining most of the day, it was nice to be leaving campus before much of the campus was awake. I love the quiet that comes with the rain in the mountains, and I’m happy I got to experience it “by myself” this morning. There were only me and 3 other people at ACY for the early morning meditation (not including Michael, the instructor), which was actually kind of nice. For the first part of the class, we spent time “waking up our bodies” so that when we sat for meditation we’d be awake and focused. The beginning exercises felt good, especially the stretches and the movements that allowed us to make our bodies feel as comfortable as possible (like massaging our neck and back).

We then sat down, and we began by counting our breaths. We’d inhale and count 1-2-3 and then count again on the exhale. After about 5 or 6 breaths this way, Michael rang a bell in order to signal the beginning of our meditation. Michael said that we’d sit and meditate for 20 minutes, and then the ringing of the bell would indicate the end of the meditation. Michael reminded us throughout to concentrate on our breath when we started to get lost/when our mind began to wander. In the beginning, I thought that 20 minutes of sitting and breathing would feel like forever. However, it wasn’t as hard as I thought. Though I did have to return to counting my breaths a good bit, the experience was quite eye-opening.

Through the simple act of sitting and breathing in and out, I became more aware of myself….more aware of my body…and more aware of the world around me. It was a great way to start my morning, especially since I felt refreshed and prepared to begin my day of studying and homework. I can’t wait to go back in a week!

I hope you all have had a happy Sunday.

Learning To Love Myself.

25 Feb

I’m visiting one of my best friends, Kayley, in Virginia this weekend, and we’ve spent the last few hours talking about our lives. We talked about my book, and Kayley said “Amelia, not many people can do what you’re doing. And hardly anyone can do it at 19.” And though I understand that, her next question caught me off guard. We started talking about happiness and love, and Kayley asked me if I loved myself. Through my tears, I told her that I didn’t know. I didn’t know how to love myself

People tell me all the time that I’m a happy person, and I am. However, there’s a difference in being happy and loving myself. I mean, I like to think that I love myself, but when asked the simple question of whether I loved myself, I couldn’t even choke out a simple yes. Since August, I’ve done a lot of soul-searching. I’ve begun to try to find myself. Being in Asheville has really helped that. I’ve found restorative yoga. I’ve discovered how much meditation helps me feel grounded in the moment, in the now. But one thing Kayley pointed out tonight was that learning to love yourself isn’t immediate. It’s a process, and it takes time. Waiting is hard. And so I’m not exactly a fan of the fact that it could take me a while to learn to love myself.

We talked about my book for a while, and Kayley actually read what I’ve written so far because I’ve wanted her feedback since she knows me really well. The advice she gave was to include more personal experiences. Even though I’ve included a lot, at this point the majority of my book is also explaining to others that they can come to enjoy their lives. Anyway, Kayley did point out that when she read it last night, she had to hold back tears. Some of the memories that I’ve included so far she didn’t even know about, so it impacted her. That made me feel good though. I mean, isn’t that what we as writers want? To touch people. To impact them. To reach them. To connect, even for a minute.

Another thing Kayley pointed out as we were talking about my book was this: “I can’t imagine the pain you went through…and I can’t imagine what you’re feeling all over again, but you can do this. It’ll probably be one of the hardest things you’ve ever faced, but I believe that once you finish it, you’ll know what it means to love yourself.”

I met Kayley during my freshman year in college (when I was still at Wofford), and she’s one of the most incredible best friends I’ve had. She supports me through everything, and I know that I can always count on her to help me realize what’s important. Though we are very different people, we’re also a lot alike. Through our talk, I’ve realized that since I faced so much physical and emotional pain when I was younger, I’m scared to allow people to love me since I don’t want to feel anymore pain. I feel like the majority of the issue is that I need to learn to love myself. Yes, I’ve already said this, and it seems really easy to say. But it’s not quite as easy to do. I mean, I said that being happy is different from loving yourself. Happiness is being cheerful and enjoying little things and trying to find the joy. But loving yourself…..that’s remembering all the crap that’s happened in your life, but still being able to say that you’ve loved all of it too, not because it’s been easy, but because it’s taught you something. And that’s what I need to work on. There are things that happened in my past that I still haven’t quite come to terms with, but I’m trying. I’m beginning to learn that once I love myself, it’ll allow others to love me just as much.

Inspired By Jewel.

19 Feb

“If I could tell the world just one thing
It would be that we’re all OK
And not to worry ’cause worry is wasteful
And useless in times like these.”

Ever since hearing Hands by Jewel on Pandora last night, this first stanza of the song has been on my mind. I think it has stuck with me, especially the line “It would be that we’re all OK,” because it relates to what I’ve been feeling recently. Though I know that writing my book/sharing my story is something I feel I need to do, some days it’s hard. It’s hard to remind myself how far I’ve come. Since I’m focusing on a lot of the hard stuff I faced in the beginning of my book, it’s a little to see the good stuff at this point. I have to constantly remind myself to look around at the life that I’m currently living to show myself how happy I am.

Truthfully, I haven’t been generally this happy in a long time. It was definitely the right choice to transfer to Asheville. I’ve made amazing friends that mean a lot to me, and I’ve been able to do some “soul-searching.” I also just feel better about myself. I feel like I’m finally able to start truly living my life. That sounds weird, but as I’m discovering new things, I’m also discovering the things that make me feel good about myself. For example, back in October, I got a new wardrobe. I’ve never been one to really care much about my appearance, but getting a new wardrobe lead to a big change in my personality in general. Since I’ve started to care about how I look, I’ve felt happier. Also, I’ve slowly started to come out of my shell and not be scared to experience new things. In November, I was introduced to restorative yoga and meditation. It’s helped me realize the importance of having time to myself and the benefits of trying to live in the present moment as much as I can. However, if I wasn’t in Asheville, I don’t know if I would feel as comfortable trying new things. It’s just nice to be among the strangeness. As many stickers say: “Keep Asheville Weird.” Now, it’s February, and I’m so grateful for all the amazing friends I’ve made thus far. It’s been a while since so many people have simply accepted me for who I am without question, and it is seriously one of the most wonderful feelings in the world. Knowing that the people around me love me for exactly who I am is amazing.

“Would you not like to be
Sitting on top of the world with
Your legs hanging free.”

-Dave Matthews Band