Some Practices that Help: A Collection

I consider 'a practice' to be anything that can't really be perfected, but brings benefits anyway. I do not have a clear and organized idea of where each of these came from because I have had so many beautiful teachers and moments in my life. This collection is an attempt to honor the practices that have offered me refuge in my life. I'm trying to share the goodness in me that has been inspired by the goodness in others. I hope these paintings and words remind you of your unique beauty, and inspire you stretch outside your comfort zone to share the things that you treasure.

Most photos referenced for paintings from Erik Rausch

Surrender Sometimes - I think of surrender like the way butter changes when it's left out of the fridge and allows room temperature to soften it. A lot of the time I tend to analyze myself and events in my life to the point where it kind of hurts. Every once in a while during this happening, a thought will arise saying ' just let it be good'. Sometimes it's difficult to accept or receive good things because I feel so used to getting beat up by life. When good things are happening, when I get a genuine compliment, when someone is trying to show me they love me... these are the times I have to remind myself to surrender, because although life has felt like a war much of the time, it can never be anything else unless I soften to the possibility of true goodness. Sometimes letting go, not giving up, is the way. Right after I painted this one, I thought it looked like the way surrender feels. Then, I opened up my Rumi book and saw 'Art is a Flirtation With Surrender', and I just love that.


Look at the Sky - My mom's advice has most often been to look at the sky. It doesn't matter how I am feeling, I look to the sky and it always gives me something as long as I am open to it. Some of my favorite moments were spent getting lost in the infinite sky. I think the practice here is looking to the sky and letting it change you. To me life is a lot like a clear sky at night, mostly dark but sprinkled with bright spots that you can apply your own meaning to.


Just the Next Step - Overwhelm happens to me quite often, there is just so much to do sometimes! One day, I went on a walk and was so overwhelmed about teaching elementary school, being a mom, and life in general. Then, I started thinking about how far I was about to walk and how much time it would take, but then a thought came 'just the next step'. I felt relief as I became more present and just worried about that one little step, and then just the next step after that. Always present and just taking one little step. That walk was the only time in all my time living here in Arizona that I actually saw a fox!


Reaching to Reach - In the Yoga Sutra this is about contacting more spiritually advanced beings through a regular practice, and eventually becoming them. My takeaway from this is reaching is the goal, being open to growing forever is the goal. Once I think I've got something down, I stop trying. There are things to be mastered, but things like being loving, patient, grateful, present... these types of things are infinitely expanding and presenting new opportunities/challenges. Even in a consistent physical yoga practice, the work is never 'done'. There are depths that can be reached and subtle adjustments that can be found, which can restructure your entire reality. Gentle and consistent effort is the way. Alignment is essential, without it there can be no progress. I think for this one it's about showing up to your practice each day, finding your limits, and gently testing those limits.


Find the Door - We are in a state of being at all times. Sometimes we are in a positive state, a neutral state, or a negative state. Humans beings are layered like onions; thoughts, energy, breath, and the physical body(and maybe more!) are interdependent. When thoughts are racing, so are the energy and breath, most likely causing tension and clenching in the body. For me it's shoulder and jaw tension that let me know I'm 'in the shit' or having a hard time. I think the most accessible door to adjust your state of being, is the breath. It is always with you and it is just below the physical body layer. The next time you find yourself in a state of distress, find your breath and ride it to a state of neutrality. Just meet yourself where you are and focus on breathing. Being able to catch yourself and access a neutral state using the breath allows for more choice.


Authenticity - You are the only you there is and your authenticity is a gift to others. Just remember who the fuck you really are. This doesn't need a lot of words, you can feel the truth of who you are if you are willing. I find reaching for my authenticity to be extremely nourishing. What a relief to just try to figure out who I really am and rest in that truth. I'm still exploring this one!


Feel Everything - Constriction around and resistance to pain cause more pain. Being willing to feel pain allows alignment to resume and healing to begin. When I started doing yoga I would feel little knots in my body, I noticed that I would constrict my muscles around that little pain and hold poses out of alignment. Kind of lying to myself about being able to 'do the pose'. This kind of misalignment with truth and compounding constriction led to even more pain. Eventually I allowed alignment to lead and I trusted myself to feel the pain I was clenching around and afraid to feel... and it would release! It is the same with emotional pain, the fear of feeling it just compounds it. Being open to feeling it allows it the option to release.


Love Your Shadow - The pieces of myself that I don't want to be aware of, I hide away in my 'shadow'. To do shadow work is to turn towards those parts that don't fit the stories I tell myself about who I am. In bringing awareness to my shadow with curiosity and compassion, I am able to own and digest the misunderstood truth of the 'me', that I really am, a little bit more.


Fuck the Noise - There is so much noise in the world, you know? It's okay to shut out the sensory over stimulation. I try to enjoy some silence at least once a day, it can be challenging sometimes. I think that is why I've loved the night time since I was little, it is a different kind of quiet and stillness at night. (This was one of the first ones I painted and I think it shows how much I learned about painting foxes by completing this series. I was not going to share it, but my son said it is his favorite.)


Let Laughter - I love to laugh and get others to laugh. Laughing really is the best medicine and it's benefits are scientifically proven! To me humor is magical and I do my best honor it. I try to find the humor as often as I can. Sometimes I think if I was a character in a show, would the audience laugh at how shitty this moment is? Often I'm just taking myself too seriously. Many of my best moments were spent in fits of laughter. My practice with this is when I'm feeling shitty and something funny happens and I almost want to laugh, but I fight it because 'I'm pouting right now'. Once I started letting the laughter win in those moments I wouldn't get so stuck in my feelings. Life is short, let laughter work it's magic when it can.


Curiosity - I don't know who said it first, but when I first heard someone say don't get mad, get curious it changed my life. Being curious about everything brings an amazing quality to life. If I had known this sooner it would have been so liberating. I love what happens when I approach life with curiosity.


Potential - We humans see things as we are, not as they are. The true nature of everything that is, is that it lacks a nature of its own. If you have dog shit in your nose, then wherever you go will smell like dogshit. Being aware that I'm viewing reality through a filter of myself gives me more choice in adjusting my filter. Take care of your filter by loving yourself and others.


The End: Thank you so much for looking! I don't enjoy writing, and I've never thought I was very good at it... so I hope my words make sense, and you got something out of reading this. There are so many practices or little pieces of goodness that I'd love to show appreciation for in paintings or somehow, but this is what came out this time. I really hope it is a bright spot for you, and that it makes you smile.

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