It’s autumn here in my part of south-west France. But step outside the flimsy back-door and it’s definitely winter. It’s about 4ºC in the mornings and I’m so thankful that – being further south – the sun is still hot when it gets toward full strength just after 10am. So really, it feels like I’m in limbo between early winter mornings, autumn past sunrise and summer again for an hour at midday.
My life, too, is in limbo for another couple of weeks. We’ve been living in Salies-de-Béarn for three and a half weeks and I’m off up to my old home in the Alpes on Friday to clear out my apartment and bring the rest of my belongings down here. I say my apartment and my belongings because The Husband is staying in the Alpes. The time has come for him to wind-up his part of his businesses in the mountains and he was keen to finish on a high, taking all we’ve learned together and applying it to one last winter season. So I’ll be on my own for a bit. Well, six months actually.
I know that’s not an extreme amount of time, and we do plan to see each other a few times in the coming months but I’m apprehensive because I’m aware that too much time alone is not something that helps me thrive. I’m okay, for a while, but I get deeply lonely and in the past have found that being alone becomes an excuse for inactivity and lack of productivity. Why bother cooking a scrummy, healthy dinner if I’m eating alone? Why write the post, edit the photos, film a vlog if there’s nobody to encourage me and no special together-time treat once I’ve met the deadline? Just admitting this makes me feel pretty sad and vulnerable, and I don’t think I’m the only one.
So, I’m determined that this time it will be different. Throughout these months of change I’ve found that my personal practice has had a hugely stabilising effect. I’ve been all over the place, with The (new!) Husband and alone, physically and emotionally in the past year. And I’ve learned that having a personal routine can really help bring me back to the moment. Whether that’s my asana practice, breathing techniques or the guided meditation I listen to before bed, it all helps me pay attention to the here and now. It helps me focus on my needs, which are just as important when The Hubster’s here as when he’s not. In the past twelve months I’ve taken this practice to India and Sri Lanka, to London, Bristol and Falmouth. To each coast of France and some of its borders. And it’s helped me today, the first morning I’ve woken married and alone, aching for the part of me that’s no longer there to reach out and touch.
It doesn’t matter what our practice involves, or how it adjusts and develops throughout the year, what matters is that we practice it. Here are some of the things that keep me focussed…
Wake before dawn and start the day with plenty of water: first glass cool with coriander, second warm, third warm with lemon, fourth cool with barley grass and chia seeds.
Asana practice, followed by pranayama and sitting quietly: again, this changes throughout the year. I’m currently on moontime so practicing a gentle sequence by Linda Sparrow and Patricia Walden in their excellent book ‘The Woman’s Book of Yoga and Health’.
Lunch preparation has to begin at midday latest… or I become a sugar-fiend! For the past few months I’ve been eating mostly soup at lunchtime as it’s easy to digest, quick to make and a great way to get lots of veggies. With the colder weather my appetite goes into overdrive so I’m adding cooked rice or quinoa to the soups so I don’t rely too much on bread.
Closing the day gently: before bed I massage my feet with a special pitta-reducing oil recommended by my Ayurvedic doctor Collette at Ayurveda Pura in London . Then, once I’m tucked-in and toasty I put my iPhone on ‘airplane mode’ (no need for wifi while I’m asleep!) and listen to two guided meditations by Marianne Williamson: Prayer for the Beloved and Evening Meditation.
What practices do you fall back on when life presents a challenge? Is there something you do every day without fail? I’d love to hear from you so please share your thoughts in the comments box below.
Wishing you peace in your soul and perseverance in your practice…