From my experience working in retail, cooler days means heated pressure to deliver during the holiday season. For most of my friends, it’s been a growing trend to take on two or more jobs while finishing school. It seems to me that constant stimulation and chaos from the daily hustle and bustle has become the new normal.
If you’re not careful, it’s easy to get tangled in the chaos of the concrete jungle. As my family frequently reminds me, I do not handle stress well. I bottle up my emotions to the point of getting painful knots in my neck and become so irritable I snap at the slightest question thrown my way. So how do you control it?
I’m just beginning to realize the importance of taking care of myself, especially through meditation. For me, meditation can be sitting for five minutes deep breathing before taking on a stressful situation. But really, it’s setting aside time for something that brings me happiness. Making time to see people and do things that make you happy can help you appreciate the little things and can bring light in the midst of darkness. When I stayed with Ariel in Phoenix, I had the pleasure of taking a yoga class instructed by her lovely friend, Cherise, complete with wine and a painting session that opened my eyes to a new way to manage my stress.
Cherise is one of the most genuine, kind souls I’ve had the honor to meet. Wearing a smile as sweet as honey, I was humbled by her strategic one hour Vinyasa flow followed by a two-hour guided painting session. As she puts it- “A perfect Saturday night with yoga, snacks, wine, painting, great company, and wine!”
I wish I had taken more pictures at the event to share my experience. But this moment, I wanted to take it all in without documenting every detail. It was, after all, supposed to relieve my stress, not add to it.
We began with a few easy stretches with deep breathing. At first, I was completely aware of everyone in the room, the odd hum from the lights, the hunger from my belly. Then as our bodies warmed up, the sequence of movements began to flow like a synchronized dance. I became perfectly attuned to my body, becoming aware of every muscle, bone, vein, and breath that helped my body function. It took a little while but for a few awesome moments, I escaped from my reality, gliding swiftly from move to move, freedom from thought, and the power of my strength taking over.
The best (and my favorite part) was ending in the Savasana, or corpse pose, where you relax on your back for five minutes in order to reap all the third-eye-harmonious-energy-benefits from the previous exercises. During this time, Cherise came around to each person and put this amazing lavender scented oil on our shoulders that tingled for a few seconds, then seeped into my skin, easing any other muscle tension I had been harnessing. Both figuratively and literally, I felt as if a weight had been lifted.
Next, came the painting. We each had our own canvas with paints set before us. For the night, Cherise suggested we paint “Trees of Life,” but encouraged us to choose whatever creative endeavor our so-called chakras desired. Despite the perfect theme to paint trees with subliminal life messages, our ideas actually came from scrolling through Pinterest.No artsy fartsy interpretations laced with determining the hidden meaning behind brush strokes, just simply paint what you want. Everyone grabbed a glass of wine and snacks and sat enjoying each other’s company. Ariel ended up creating a weeping willow which reminded me of the tree from Fern Gully, Cherise did her signature cherry blossoms, and I did my take on a starry night. I am happy to say the session lived up to Cherise’s promise of the perfect Saturday night.
Sharing this experience with other people reminded me that life is too precious to stress out about in the first place -regain control of your breathing, release your tense muscles with a good stretch, let go and laugh- then soldier on. Allow yourself the idea that there will be times when you feel lost, your path will get stormy, your sight blurry. You have to regain your footing to get through your journey because as a great author once said…”not all who wander are lost.”
P.s.- If you ever find yourself in the Phoenix area, be sure to hit up Cherise!