On Checking In

Anyone who has taken my class, or any Jivamukti class anywhere in the world, knows that we follow a “Focus of the Month” which inspires our dharma talks in class. This month, a fellow teacher and friend wrote the focus of pratyahara, which is one of the limbs of Patanjali’s 8 limbed path to yoga, or freedom from suffering. Pratyahara means sensory withdrawal, and it is thought of as the bridge between the outer practices to find yoga – yama and niyama (how we relate to others and ourselves), asana (how we care for and conduct prana within our bodies), pranayama (purposeful control and release of energy) – with the inner practices of yoga – dharana (concentration, a precursor to meditation), dhyana (sustained mental focus/presence or meditation) and Samadhi (merging or becoming “same as” our highest self).

When we practice withdrawing from the sensory world, we realize how much energy we expend in the outer world. In fact, many people expend all their energy externally -  maintaining relationships to work, family, social obligations, maintaining/”improving” the appearance of our physique or what we own (home, car, devices, etc). While to some extent, choosing to live a householder life (rather than immersed in meditation on a Himalayan mountaintop) requires maintaining some “external” relationships/things, if we don’t watch ourselves, our inner life can suffer, or be nonexistent.

In early May, I spent 2 weeks on a small island of Greece (see free yoga video link below). It wasn’t tourist season in Hydra, so there weren’t many people around. It was reaalllllly quiet. There were no cars, no sounds of traffic, hardly any shops, and shoddy internet access. I swam, hiked, journaled, got clear on the next chapters of my teaching/coaching practice and ate simple, delicious vegetarian Greek food. The. Simple. Life. Coming off a whirlwind of public teaching, workshops, planning and teaching my first Align to Thrive Ayurveda and Habits course, I needed it. But I didn’t realize how badly I was craving quiet simplicity and just being alone in nature until I gave myself the space. Just like scheduling in checking in with friends, our kids or colleagues, we need to regularly check in with ourselves.

Meditation practice is a daily “check in” and helps me to align with how I want to show up to others and myself. But if we are on a growth-path, we may want to schedule in weekly check-ins as well to look at larger themes in our professional, personal or spiritual life. Time blocking a set time every week, setting it up in our google calendars, and keep to this appointment, just like any other appointment can keep us clear on how we are using our time and if our habits are supporting the person we are evolving into. Check-ins have to be regular, and scheduled. If left to whim, they may just happen once a year and then be forgotten. (New Year’s resolution anyone?)

Is your body, mind and spirit asking that you retreat from your regular, overextended schedule? Is it calling for simplicity? Do you need some space to align with what really matters to you, what lights you up, so you can operate from this place? Retreats can be pretty life changing, and it just so happens I still have space in my Surf and Yoga Retreat in Ericeira, Portugal. For more information, visithttps://www.omassim.com/jivamukti-surf-retreat-kari-zabel or to register, email me at info@karizabel.com 

For information on my 2-week Yogi Detox in September, 10 week Align to Thrive course, online videos or schedule, check out my website link below.