New Start

A black and white photo of a hole in a brick sidewalkBy Carol Gray, LMT, CST, RPYT, ERYT-200

In yoga practice we often say that each breath is a new beginning, a do-over. As 2020 gets closer to the finish line, I know we all feel like we could use a good do-over, something really different, not anything like this year, especially the things we didn’t like. Enough already. We want something truly different. Yet the temptation is great to keep doing whatever we have been doing exactly the way we have been doing it – even when we get crappy results. We do love predictable routine – even when we claim to crave spontaneity. Sometimes we do the same thing over and over again and, amazingly, expect things to change on their own. I’m here to tell you that if you want things to change, you have to do something different.

There is a poem by Portia Nelson that describes this predicament. It’s called “There’s A Hole In My Sidewalk”.

“I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I am helpless. It isn’t my fault. It takes forever to find a way out.
I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend that I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I am in this same place. It still takes a long time to get out.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it is there. I still fall in… it’s a habit… It is my fault. I get out immediately.
I walk down the same street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.
I walk down another street.”

I learned about NEWSTART from my doctor, Tori Hudson, ND. She learned it from one of her mentors, Dr. Agatha Thrash, a world-renowned expert on natural health remedies.

It’s so important to nourish ourselves. I think that nighttime is when we can help ourselves the most with our food choices. Real choices. Falling back on starchy and sweet foods is easiest at night – especially when we are tired and stressed. It is also the time when we can actually balance out some of our less than ideal food choices during the day. When was the last time you reviewed your food intake during the day and made a decision about what to consume for your evening meal based on filling in the missing nutrients for that day? Ask yourself, “What do I need now?”

Years ago Dr. Hudson gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever received. She said, “Exercise for four hours a week.” She did not say exercise 30 minutes a day. If your goal is to exercise 30 minutes a day, here’s what happens: You get to the end of a day. You know you didn’t exercise. You feel too tired to do it. You don’t do it. You go to bed. You vow to start over the next day. Only you end up like the person falling into that same hole in the sidewalk. Four hours a week: Here’s how it works. You must choose a day of the week that will ALWAYS be the first day of your exercise week. You cannot change it. Then you simply exercise four hours during that week. Let’s say that my exercise week begins on Monday. It does, actually. If I get to Sunday and I have only exercised one hour, I have to exercise for three hours on Sunday. I have done that (not very often). It ‘s not cheating. I have been doing this for so many years I don’t keep track the way I used to, but I DO exercise for at least four hours every week.

I am lucky enough to have safe, clean, delicious water to drink – as much as I want every day. This is a privilege on our modern planet. I am truly grateful for it. We have the same amount of water on our planet that we have always had. Although some of it is now contaminated and undrinkable. Water forms clouds in the atmosphere, rain on the land, surface water and ground water. It’s in all living plants and animals. We are mostly water. On some level, we are all drinking dinosaur pee. We are of the water so to speak. Replenish. Hydrate. Give thanks for the water you drink.

We live in a cloudy, dark-in-the-winter climate in the Pacific Northwest. I think we especially embrace the sunshine here – when we get some. In Portland people flood the streets on those first warmish sunny days of spring. Dark winters are so hard – for some people more than others. Get outside in the light. Vitamin D is so essential to our health. Even if it’s cold. It will help. Keep the faith. The light will begin to return in less than four weeks. In late November we’re almost around the bend – again.

All things in moderation? Alcohol is something people lean on when things get tough. Aside from the well-known downsides of alcohol, it is also empty calories and a risk factor for certain types of cancers that affect women. Consider setting an alcohol week like your exercise week. Only set a maximum for your weekly alcohol consumption. If you can’t stick to it, reach out for help.

We generally have good air quality in Portland. I have taken it for granted. We had many days of the worst air quality in THE WHOLE WORLD during September wildfires. I bought air purifiers. Other people made excellent DIY versions with box fans and furnace filters. When air quality is good – get out in it. Give thanks.

I am super busy, but less scheduled since the pandemic began. I have realized that my body thrives when I get a little more sleep than I was used to getting. From here on out I vow to continue to arrange my life so I can really get the rest I need. The immune system makes repairs while we sleep. The central nervous system clears itself of metabolic waste most rapidly and efficiently when we sleep. Who wouldn’t want to maximize that?

I’m not especially religious, but I do know that I go beyond my skin. I know that there is a connection among us all and a connection to the earth from which we grew. We are all in healing bodies and I know that we innately seek balance. I trust that we all will have a new start – many new starts

About Carol Gray

Carol Gray, MamaSpace Yoga Founder and OwnerCarol is the founder and owner of MamaSpace Yoga. She has been a therapeutic bodyworker in private practice for over 30 years. She specializes in Craniosacral Therapy for pregnant and postpartum people and infants. Carol has spent years developing hands-on techniques to enhance the mobility in pregnant bodies including the bony pelvis, the abdominal organs, the support structures and lower segment of the uterus. She is  proud to have pioneered the integration of this gentle manual therapy into prenatal care, the birth place and postpartum care for birthing parents and babies. The goal is to give babies more room to develop, grow and get born. Her specially-designed yoga classes have grown naturally from the roots of bodywork and yoga.

Carol has dedicated her professional life to supporting expectant and new families by promoting gentle aware birth. She has attended births for over 35 years – at first as a doula and from 2000 to 2012 as a midwife. She has since retired from attending births in order to focus on practicing and teaching CST and prenatal yoga. Her many years as a birth worker have forever changed her and her worldview. Those experiences remain an integral part of who she is as a therapist and teacher.

Carol is the founder and director of the The Carol Gray Center for CST Studies®. She teaches high-quality, small group classes that are appropriate for bodyworkers, birth attendants and other health professionals. She is approved by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (NCBTMB) as a continuing education approved provider.