Lights & Nights of the Season

The end-of-year holiday season is upon us, whether we like it or not. I grew up in a Baptist family that celebrated Christmas. My Jewish friend, Jane, and her family observed Hanukkah. I enjoyed the lighting of the menorah when I visited her family. She came to my house to help decorate our Christmas tree. I was enamored with the bright, colorful lights on trees, bushes, rooftops, and cars. I was scared of Santa. 

Those were the traditions I knew existed. Now, I’m aware of Kwanzaa, the winter solstice, St. Lucia Day, St. Nicolas Day, as well as New Year’s Day, and others. Everyone seems to want to celebrate any spark of light during these dark days of winter.

As I reflect on my family’s traditions, my first thought is that they haven’t changed much. We still go to the Moravian Lovefeast at Messiah Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, where we hold up candles at the end of the service as the church lights are dimmed. We still ride around my hometown and look at lights while singing off-key to the familiar Christmas music playing on the radio. We still read “A Visit from St. Nicolas” by Clement Clarke Moore before going to our respective beds, although our ages range from 30 to 66 years. 

My nephew Davis.

Yet, everything has changed. Our family size has changed due to marriages, divorces, deaths, and births. The big news is that we now we have a five-month-old baby boy in our midst. My grandnephew, Davis, was born on my birthday, July 23, to my niece, Kathryn, and her husband, Jake. I love that he is as enamored with lights as I am. Although Davis probably won’t remember his first Christmas, he is a part of the Dollar family tradition, whether he likes it or not. 

Although we still gather together, the meeting location changes yearly. The Christmas Eve supper has evolved from soup and crackers to nachos and now to a sous vide meal that we have yet to taste or understand.

Looking back over what I’ve written, I realize how much the lights of the season affect me. The outdoor lights remind me of our inner light and the love it represents to me. Even on days when I feel cranky, I remember that the light is there in each of us. Sometimes it’s covered up by stress or anger. That will dissipate. The love and light shine continue to shine. I can see it when I stop and look.

Love remains constant. Love, not affection or attraction. Pure love. When all the change is said and done, what remains is the love and light of the season of life. One phrase that I’ve heard is this: We are light wrapped up in love experiencing itself through life. 

May you have a bright, healthy, and joyful holiday season.

No Classes December 24 & 25!

The class schedule will continue as normal for the rest of the month except for December 24 (Tuesday) & 25 (Wednesday) when we will not have class.

Best wishes for the holiday season!

Grateful for Thanksgiving Day

Jack in the Weaverville Studio

Thank you for being in my life. Really, each of you who reads these words holds an important place in my life. For real real, as we say in my family. For real real

Most recently, I’m thankful for those of you who have come to classes at my new home studio in Weaverville. Thank you for finding the new place. Thank you for showing up for yourself, the practice, and for me. I’m grateful for Iyengar Yoga Asheville, for the other Iyengar teachers, and for those of you who attend classes there. 

I know it can take time to adjust to change; it has taken me a few weeks to get used to teaching in my new yoga studio in Weaverville, and I look forward to sharing it with you. And I know YOU know that we experience such deep benefits when we practice yoga. Your body and mind will thank you for showing up on the mat!  

Overall, I feel like I’m a thankful person. I thank my husband for fixing delicious meals. I thank each kind person who opens a door for me. I thank my friend who comes to the house to tend to our dog, Jack, when I’m unavailable.

I have another friend who gets cranky when someone opens a door for her. She knows that she is strong and capable. She doesn’t need the help. As much as I love this woman, I feel like she’s missing out on the feeling of gratitude. 

Numerous research papers expound on the benefits of feeling grateful. A few of the benefits I found listed in an article online at PositivePsychology.com are more satisfaction with life, less fatigue, greater resiliency, and lower levels of cellular inflammation. I find that I actually feel better when I’m grateful. When I’m stressed, my body and mind feel hard. When I’m grateful I feel lighter. Test this out for yourself if you’re doubtful. 

Gratitude is a practice, like yoga. It’s kind of like a scavenger hunt: when I look for people, places, and things to be grateful for, I find them! I don’t deny that I get cranky sometimes (like when I’m packing and moving). Without dwelling on that, I take a moment to feel that emotion, and then move on, rather than focus on the crankiness and the external events that triggered it.    

With all that being said, I’m thankful to have a national day of thanksgiving here in the US. I know that some people feel left out, lonely, or sad about missing loved ones. I don’t deny that. Can we reach out to each other and hold each other up? Open a door? Smile? For those of you who volunteer at a soup kitchen or a food bank over the holidays, thank you. Of course, every day of the year is an opportunity to be kind and generous. We never know how one kind word to a stranger or friend can lift that person’s spirit—and our own! 

With tremendous gratitude for your place in my life and on the planet, I hold you in my thankful heart.

I wish you a joyous and peaceful Thanksgiving!


The Challenges and Joys of Silent Retreat

From October 4-13, I will be participating in a nine-day workshop called “Concentration, Jhana, and Breath,” taught by Shaila Catherine, at Heartwood Refuge and Retreat Center in Hendersonville, NC. This silent retreat is structured with alternating periods of sitting and walking meditation, dhamma teachings, and teacher consultations. It will utilize the breath as the primary meditation object and will encourage the development of meditative skills that lead to deep concentration (samadhi) and insight (vipassana). For my work meditation portion of the retreat, I will be teaching a yoga class, and, yes, I’ll be able to talk in order to give instruction to the students. I am looking forward to (and will definitely be challenged by) these nine days ahead, during which I will have ample opportunity to observe the antics of my “monkey mind” and to experience the stillness and expanded awareness that arise during sustained mediation.

Guest Teachers, October 4 – 11

While Cindy is on retreat, these wonderful teachers will be leading her classes.

Monday:

  • 2 PM – Julie LaFleur at Cindy’s Home Studio
  • 4 PM – Gea Skeens at Cindy’s Home Studio

Tuesday:

  • 9:30 AM – Gea Skeens at Cindy’s Home Studio
  • 4 PM – Randy Loftus at Iyengar Yoga Asheville

Wednesday:

  • 12 PM – Jayne Alenier at Iyengar Yoga Asheville
  • 6 PM – Lindsay Majer at Cindy’s Home Studio

Workshop: Striking a Pose Toward Inner Freedom

Cindy is teaching a four-session workshop at Sunrise Yoga in Winston-Salem from Friday, Nov. 1 – Sunday, November 3. Striking a Pose Toward Inner Freedom: Yoga and the Four Immeasurables blends hatha yoga asana with teachings on friendliness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity. In combination, these practices can lead to a path through life of personal growth, awakening, clarity, and freedom.

You can register for all four sessions for $190 (by 10/18), or for $210 thereafter. Individual sessions can be purchased separately. See the Sunrise Yoga Workshop page for more.