Ritual, Reflections and Being Relatable
Updated: 5 days ago
I have thought about how I can be more relatable. The last thing I want to do is to come across as smug, like I have it all together.
My life and the lessons within it are a series of practices and insights from those practices. How did I reach this point right now? How can I articulate concisely and in a way that translates into another persons life?
I have had a morning ritual for 50 days now. I have spoken about it being something I have wanted for the longest time, and yet I haven’t found it until this year. Did it just manifest from intention? No. It evolved from a regular and ever evolving practice, a willingness to see things differently and an openness to redefine my conditioned ideas of what a practice looks like as I have navigated the different seasons of my life.
Essentially I have practiced creating space for myself within pockets of time.
It hasn't always been smooth sailing. I have had to work my muscles so to speak to build up the strength and resilience I have needed to honour this commitment to myself.
It has taken me 5 and a half years to reach this point of arriving at 50 days. 5o days of movement, meditation, and connection in the wee hours of the morning, before my family wakes. The light still dim, the floors creaking beneath every one of my footsteps.
When I look back, this practice started just a few months after Anna was born in 2017. I was so disconnected from my yoga practice and I certainly missed it. I was used to 90 min to 2 hour practices in the morning before heading into London for a day of teaching. There was often an in-person hot class or 2 hour intensive, thrown into those days between teaching classes. It was my inspiration, my drive, my passion, my oxygen...it was also rigid at times too.
My practice post birth wasn’t even a shadow of my past reality. After I had Anna it was just her and I. Michele went into London every day for work and Anna wasn’t a sleeper. I held out on my practice, waiting for the perfect opportunity to sink into an interrupted hour. That interrupted hour never arrived. Anna slept 20-30 mins tops on her own, and I crammed those slots with cleaning up and organising in attempt to make some part of life feel organised and ordered. Tidying up stuff that would inevitably end up on the floor an hour later.
Then something shifted. Maybe the desire to connect with my body grew stronger than my commitment to sweating the small stuff and I started to sit on my mat, or even on the rug in the living room in whatever I was wearing, while Anna kicked around on the floor or had a power nap. I started with some breathing, then a side stretch, then maybe a twist, into a Dolphin. I was most likely interrupted along the way, but those few minutes of breathing and movement were enough for me in that moment to recuperate, reconnect, nourish myself, and wipe the slate clean. Those few moments felt better than nothing.
Within this process a lot of acceptance was needed. My practice wasn’t going to look the same as it once did, but the way it was felt so much better than nothing at all. It beat waiting for that interrupted hour that rarely eventuated.
I started going to a post natal plates class with Anna in tow and although I spent half the class feeding her rather than joining in on the exercises, it feed the mover and teacher in me. New movements started to take shape in my practice, along with new inspiration to approach my practices differently. I continued to practice as Anna grew, and as she became more mobile, I involved her in the practices. My ability to meet her in these moments, rather than get frustrated started to feel like a huge breakthrough within the process. From that my practice started to evolve into abdominal work and standing poses. Anna would climb on me, I’d use her for resistance where I could, and in Savansana that was her moment to ‘assist’ or freestyle by playing with my hair and stoking my face with different objects. It was a practice in surrender as much as anything else.
By the time I had Giorgia 2 years later I had already redefined what my practice looked like as a full time mother and so it was easier to settle into a second time around. I had already built the groundwork and so I was back on the mat much sooner, having the tools to support myself much earlier within my second postnatal experience.
My practice became a question of what is doable. What part of this CAN I do?
A further letting go of attachment to how it looked before ,or how I wanted it to look was required, to create space for it to evolve into what was possible in that moment.
We were thick into the first weeks of lockdown here in the UK and space was anything but abundant. One evening every second week, for 6 weeks, when the girls were tucked up in bed, I joined a live call for a pelvic floor/core pilates training that I had signed up for.
It further inspired new pathways of thinking and approaching my practice, and at the time I knew it was necessary to feed my inner teacher, and explorer. To inspire myself and carve out time for learning and practice. In many ways it was my lifeline at the time, the place I felt connected to me and my passion.
With 2 small children in lockdown my practice had changed shape once again. I remember sitting down to practice and eventually getting up about 10 times throughout. I did some breathing, tended to baby Giorgia, did a side-bend and got up to grab Anna a snack, did some Abdominals and tended to one of them again… In that moment in my life that was what my practice looked like. A series of interrupted moments between movements.
It was better than nothing, and at that time a non-negotiable.
Once life settled into a place where Anna was at school and Giorgia was having a generous post lunch nap, I used that time mostly to study and build my business, but I also made a once/twice weekly commitment to lie down on the floor with earphones, an eye covering and a blanket and sink into a Yoga Nidra practice. It felt doable at that time, and such a nourishing reset.
So as I look back I recognise that my practice has been forever evolving, even since day one. I have had to let go of what it looked like, approach it without attachment to a particular outcome, and most importantly to make the commitment to myself no matter what. The discipline I held shifted from vigorous daily practices to Yoga Nidra and early nights so I could step into a new day with the quality of energy I wanted to bring in.
My practice, the way it took shape, and the ritual of my practice moulded around the shape of my life.
At the end of last year I tried on a morning ritual for size. I didn’t put any pressure on myself. I returned to the evening ritual of an earlier bed time and a short amount of time spent with my journal listing my 3 proud of statements for the day. Then in the morning, in fear of prematurely waking anyone up I would sit up in my bed to do some controlled breathing. The next day I felt like a little movement so I incorporated that, then the day after I added a little more. Then in a few days I organically moved from my bed onto the rug at the end of the bed to engage in some movement there. From there I placed my yoga mat and block in the corner of the room so they were handy. No expectation, just an organic evolution of a ritual. Every day I responded to what my body was asking for, and what felt doable, and it evolved naturally.
And that’s where the seeds for my morning ritual were planted all those years ago, and now those seeds have started to sprout and take form.
Entering 2023 I felt ready to step into the morning ritual that I have envisioned for myself.
I signed up for A Course in Miracles with Marianne Williamson in the form of morning mediations. I had signed up for it 2 years previously but I struggled to bring the practices into an early morning ritual and after about a week I disappointedly let them go. I did question this time whether I could commit to it but it felt like such a huge hell yeah and so I signed up.
I started by leaving myself to wake naturally. I would listen to the lesson and meditate on it. My body would wake around 5.30am but in my head I talked myself out of getting up and went back to sleep for an hour. It left me half an hour at the very most before the girls woke up. Then I started to listen to my body and crept down the stairs in the coolness of 5.30am. My body craved it so bad I started to listen. Before sitting with the daily meditation I began by moving through a simple yoga practice that evolved. Some mornings more active, and others less so, then I sat with the lesson from A Course in Miracles. Some mornings there has been time left over for another meditation or some spontaneous writing, or I have decided to write instead of move, which has birthed these words I am writing now. There have also been mornings where Giorgia has woken early and has created a scene, but my practice is there. I am better practiced at being able to meet myself where I am and therefore better equipped at meeting everyone else where they are.
So here I am, 50 days in, steadfast and flexible. Committed and spacious in my approach.
And with a deeper understanding of how ongoing practice is. The day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit as they say.