Author: AnastasiaWritingEditing

Gong Out, Bliss In

The cell phone buzzes every twenty minutes or so with a new voicemail or text. My email box has 31 unread messages. My suitcase lays unpacked in the corner of my office—I had returned from a trip to the City a week ago. It’s 2pm.

I woke up this morning with The Plan: a course of action with the intention to strike a productive balance of work and play. Power through a round on the hamster-wheel of a to-do list. Just get this over with.

But that was hours ago. Somewhere between throwing off the covers and brushing my teeth, I derailed from The Plan. A trip to the garden led me to linger near a lavender bush; a run to the coffee shop came with an encounter of an old friend; an episode of “Dr. Who” came on and then… what was I doing?

Blasted! —Fully distracted, and it’s only Monday. The unfinished tasks today will pile up and haunt my weekend when it comes. Stress setting in…
I must take this matter out of my head: Gong, let me hear thy soothing sound!
My first experience with a gong bath was during the O+ Festival in 2011.

Jamie Leigh Reilly lead a beautiful, live session in a gallery space in Uptown Kingston. The experience left a deep impression on me, so much so that I have made it part of my grounding practice to return to the soothing vibration of
the gong. I draw the curtains, turn off every computer and device, pop in Jamie’s CD “Universal Truth: Gong Sound Healing.”

The gong has a soothing effect on the mind—essentially turning it off—and the body—the physical sound vibrations resonate through each cell. This allows an energetic shift to happen, an experience that is transformation. In other words, we each have a subtle energetic body—our own “bubble” if you will—that surrounds us. This energetic body is our frequency, and it attracts more of the same. Did you ever feel stressed out, only to have little things will set you off and add to your stress? Or, have you ever felt blissed out, when little things added to the joy you felt moment to moment?

Sound healing invokes a restoration of balance at the physical core. The vibrations from the gong’s sound clear away things that are “old” or “stuck” in the energetic body, while the healing energy also arrives at the level of the cells—and especially the nerve endings— in the physical body so that the experience of stress and imbalance is reduced. This is what allows the frequency of the energetic body to rise. If you are resonating with balance at the core, you will reflect this in your energetic body.

Back to reality.

An hour later, the CD ends. I feel focused and relaxed. I am able to re-connect with my productive intentions, and I set out to work. The Plan, redux: Move slowly through the to-do list. Take breaks. Mind what must get done versus what will eventually get done. The work isn’t going anywhere. Me? I’d also
like to stay right here in my peaceful, balanced place.

 

Published on the 2013 O+ Festival blog

Feel Good Buzz

Yoga classes have always been a major part of the health and wellness offerings during the O+ festival. But any movement—including a little shake and shimmy at any of the music venues—can add to your sense of wellness.
“Yoga is holistic and meant to support us in all aspects of our lives. A quote from one of my teachers [Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati] sums it up perfectly: ‘Each of life’s activities is a Yoga when performed in a natural, harmonious way, attentively, to balance and unite the body, mind and spirit,’” says Shawn
Harrison, yoga teacher and owner of Mudita Yoga, a studio on Fair Street in Kingston.

Yoga is part of a holistic health system that teaches the interconnectedness of everything: The way we feel affects the way we breathe. The way we move with our bodies is similar to the way we are flexible with our mind and thoughts. The way we interact with each other reflects the way we feel about ourselves.

One use of the word “yoga” is to express the idea of “coming into the present.” The moment we bring attention to any part of our actions is the moment we engage in “conscious being.” That means not wondering what’s for dinner or who has emailed—just simply being. Sometimes in a yoga class, you’ll hear the invitation to “ground” or “be present in the moment.” This experience and practice of conscious living can have a huge impact on reducing stress and increasing your sense of wellness.

Yoga has been popularized as a physical practice through asanas or postures that encourage body strength and flexibility. A yoga class, like the intro to yoga class, will include some mix of asanas. A vinyasa yoga class involves breath—movement coordination; a vinyasa practice is more vigorous than a gentle or basic yoga class. Kundalini yoga classes mix rapid body movements with chanting and visualization exercises. Gong baths, which are complementary to kundalini yoga, are soothing and still. You simply lie on the ground and receive healing through sound. Bikram yoga classes are “hot yoga”—a series of active postures done in a heated space.

But you don’t have to stop there. Hooping and pilates, two other classes offered at ExplO+re, can be “yoga” if done as a meditation in motion. All the musical performances during the festival are opportunities to just “shake it out.” Have you seen the awesome list of bands? Just take your pick.

When you create conscious movement through the body, you are also creating space in the mind to come fully into the present. Doesn’t it feel good to not think so much?

Published on the 2013 O+ Festival blog

Traveller Identity

 

Ever since I can remember, I’ve questioned my cultural identity.

I am, technically, a white-skinned girl of Polish American heritage from northwestern New Jersey—past the mixed urban jungles of apartment blocks, past the hive-like Italian-filled McMansion suburban developments, past the clustered mixes of second- and third-generation Irish and German families who lingered in haphazard neighborhoods that evolved in awkward shapes from farmlands sliced by interstates. I grew up in the woods, part of a blue-collar family, the kind that clings tightly to red county lines and pick-up trucks and little league football games. My heart and mind have never been contained within those cultural boundaries, even though I was groomed from childhood to carry on that tradition.

There is a pattern in my memories being a little girl, watching my dad move through his day: When the work day was over, the 8 or 10 hours of manual labor at his construction business, my dad came home and plopped in front of the boob toob, downing glasses of vodka, stopping to eat dinner with my step mother, then consuming sandwich after lunch-meat laden sandwich (after-dinner snacks), and watching whatever was on Fox or ABC that night. Later, in the middle of the night, the phone would ring—his shop’s lines were forwarded to his house—getting him out of bed to do something for somebody. There was always something he needed to build, fix, excavate and in the winter, plow. Eat, drink, work, repeat. Do, do, do.

As a little girl, I watched his routine and thought: How fucking boring?

I was home alone often. My dad called the house repeatedly throughout the day, but never said, “Hello” when I picked up. He always asked, “What are you doing?”

“I’m sitting around, thinking.”

“Get up and do something. Go feed the chickens. Go mow the lawn. Go clean out the—“

I usually hung up mid-sentence.

[Unpublished essay. To read more, please inquire…]

Choosing Me

There was a particularly cold winter in Kingston, New York, a few years ago, and I had a hard time going out. I don’t mean going out as in to a bar or hanging out with friends, but as in I could barely walk out of the house and down the street to buy a cup of coffee at the deli. Each attempt to do normal activities was an excruciating task: my legs didn’t work. They didn’t want to walk me. My torso and upper body didn’t work. They didn’t want to be unglued from the bed I’d pegged myself in.  My brain didn’t work.  The voice inside me said go somewhere, but the brain said nope, not moving. My rogue body followed suit and ignored me.

There was an art store down the street, closer than the deli. I liked the motley medley of crafts made by local artisans, exquisite etched-glass tiles with medieval symbols, colorful felted hats, cotton underpants with oogly-eyed creature designs, one-of-a-kind jewelry handmade from copper and glass. There was a steady sound of 90s dance music dashed with chunks of Bjork and boogaloo.

The woman who owned the store entertained my occasional and abrupt visits with a worked-in-retail-a-lot chagrin. She was able to strike up and sustain a conversation with me, even when I wasn’t able to sustain a conversation with me. Even when I walked into the store slowly, bundled up tightly during that cold winter, and just stood there.

It’s in bits and pieces, the memory, of a particular night during the particularly cold winter. I was, like usual that winter, just standing there, stiff, wrapped, awkward, surrounded by things that I would have loved if I were me. But I wasn’t right then.

[Unpublished essay. To read more, please inquire…]

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