Lisa McKhann: Going to Ground
Recently, when it was cold and blustery outside, my cat and I shared a sunbeam on the carpet near the file cabinet. All I can say for sure is, when I woke up, curled on my side in the safe C-shape, she dozed near my head, resting hers on my wool blanket pillow. This was early in my now-almost-daily practice I call “Going to ground.”
Another cool, breezy day (there have been a lot of them here in Duluth), I walked our local trail through white and red pine, birch, and out into the dunes. There was no forecast of sun, but there, through the haze and clouds, the sun — the sun! — burned through. I dropped like a stone into the leeward side of the nearest dune, sheltered from the lake breeze, and faced into that golden orb. I lay on my back, arms, and legs splayed in shavasana, the go-to posture for ending every yoga session —the ‘rest and digest’ pose.
There is a lot to digest these days. I am finishing some yoga teacher training, which reminds me of how we can all help our nervous systems relax and be at ease.
Tip: Develop an eye for sunny spots, an ear for some flow of water, a feel for dipping out of the wind. Be ready to stop and flop to the ground at a moment’s notice. Lay your body down. Bring a blanket or a pillow, or starfish on your back and feel warmth above and support below. Sand or soil, outdoor deck or indoor sunbeam.
If there are no sunbeams, lay on the floor anyway (not on a bed or couch). Bring blankets, pillows, and whatever will make it feel like a soft nest. Silence the phone, dim the lights, crank the heat, maybe light incense. Feed or spare your senses by quieting, darkening, and stilling.
We all need to find safety and rest, in the moment of the sunbeam, the bird chirp, the quiet, a news-free zone. We can absorb the ground and let it absorb our tension. The sun’s warmth can melt us from above, and earth’s gravity can drain us from below. Relax. Rest. Repeat.
Annie Hejny: Nature
Immersing in nature has always been essential to my creative process. I regularly turn to the natural world in difficult times for inspiration and solace, and our current pandemic is no exception. Daily walks nourish me. I explore the cracks and crevices of my neighborhood. On brave days, I drive to the river to weave between my community and the budding trees. For me, this is not a time to produce, to generate, or to fill the void of unknowns that has opened before me. Rather this is a time to rest, reflect and tend to the most vulnerable parts of myself.
If I am unable to create from a place of deep alignment and knowing, then I must pause and let my paint brushes rest. For now, I am observing, listening, and waiting for the return of creative inspiration. As I watch the spring buds slowly bloom, I am reminded of the seasons of life and the resiliency of nature.
I trust that this pause is part of my creative cycle and that I will return to artistic practice when the time is right.
Details: annie-hejny.com and @anniehejny