instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Extra Grace Required - Our Blog

Intention and Heat

"When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground." Psalm 104:30

It’s spring time in the Midwest: the crocuses are up and the daffodils are blooming. I’ve got a big bare spot in my backyard that needs to be raked and planted with grass seed. It’s time to start thinking about putting my gardening chores back into my daily routine. Years of gardening have taught me a little about myself: 1) that I’m apt to do too much too early, itching to plant before the frost-free “safe” planting date and 2) that in my enthusiasm to be outdoors digging in the dirt I’ll put in too long of a day, and my back will be complaining by evening. So I’ve learned to curb my spring-fever exuberance, and set up a schedule for myself, working a little bit in the garden each day, pacing myself.

I suppose you could say that my daily gardening routine is, shudder, a discipline. I shudder because the word discipline by itself instantly conjures up punitive images of a naughty child being spanked on the bum, or ranks of young military recruits piping in unison, “Yes, Sir!”, to the command of a drill sergeant. The word self-discipline is almost worse, conjuring up images of rigidity, self-absorption, and obsession. But disciplines—and I’m using the word in its non-punitive sense-- can be very, very helpful. In the dog days of summer, mid-to-late July, when everything is wilting in the heat and high humidity (plants and me, both) the last thing I want to be doing is sweating in the dirt, outside, gardening. That’s when my moderate gardening routine really pays off and I’m able to coach myself, “Just put in a half hour in the garden, the roses really do need to be deadheaded”.  Read More 

Be the first to comment

Quick to Listen - The Ethical Practice of Nonattachment

"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry."
James 1:13

The yoga ethic of aparigrapha—nonattachment or nonpossessiveness is an idea with which I have had to grapple. At first glance this ethic or yama seems to be about materialism, and I’m all about simplifying my life. But it gets harder for me to apply the ethic to my relationships. I love my family and my friends. Why on earth would I ever try to be unattached from them?

Watching my kids grow into independent adults, moving away from home, has helped me understand this yoga ethic. As many empty-nesters know, this can be a very painful, emotional experience for the parent. There is a profound feeling of loss and grief when the formerly dependent child, who you love so much, is no longer physically present in your home. But at the same time you know, deep down, that this was your job as a parent—to nurture and allow your child to grow into their own person, to follow their own path. As your adult child detaches from you, and you from them, you don’t stop loving the child, but rather, in letting go, you acknowledge that child’s inherent right to learn from life's lessons in their own time, trusting them to become the person they were created to be.  Read More 

Be the first to comment

House Envy, Contentment Stealing, and Yoga

"Though you may not be aware of it, you are already a vessel containing hidden light...within you are all the powers that are in all the worlds, within you is the hidden light of the first day of creation."

Diane Bloomfield, Torah Yoga

Most of the time, I am a really lousy Christian. Do I love my neighbor as myself? No. Do I give all that I can to the poor? No. Do I welcome the stranger? No. Do I comfort the sick? No. For me, living my Christian faith as Jesus taught is hard work. Some days it seems like the only thing I’ve got going for me, is that I love God, and that I am hugely grateful that I am loved back, warts and all.

But I do try. My Judeo-Christian heritage and the ten commandments help ground me. I like to think I’ve got most of the ten commandments covered (admittedly I’m wobbly on keeping the Sabbath), and therein lies the issue. But there’s one commandment in particular that drives me to distraction: I’m a coveter. Specifically, I suffer from periodic episodes of extreme house-envy.  Read More 

Be the first to comment

Guest Blog! Lent & Yoga:Exploring Connections

A Reflection
by Michel Le Gribble-Dates

I go to my mat to wonder about whether a connection exists between Lent and my yoga practice, and if so, what that connection is…and I am filled with wonder.

I begin in Child's Pose and consider how during Lent my Christian tradition encourages me to pray, fast, and give alms.

Prayer, fasting, almsgiving…three disciplines that my yoga practice also leads me to.

Of prayer: To speak or sing a prayer, to stand or sit while praying all require my body. And yet, it wasn’t until I embodied prayer on my yoga mat that I came fully to God in prayer.

Of fasting: Like Lent, Yoga moves me to let go. Loosening areas of the body that tend to grip when I experience stress makes fasting, or letting go, a daily focus on my mat.

Of almsgiving: As I transition through postures on my mat I focus on keeping the entire front of my physical body open…the side that I approach all of life with. My heart softens and I become more generous just as Lent calls me to do.
 Read More 

Be the first to comment