I cannot remember now how I stumbled upon Erin's blog, or when I first subscribed to her newsletter or listened to her podcast. But each of her offerings has brought me joy, inspiration and solace. Today, I am truly blessed to welcome her here on my little corner of the net to talk about her CD project, Three Deep Breaths. From Erin's website: "Softly-spoken and artfully-crafted. Gentle guided movements and breathing exercises to help you relax and move through your day with mindfulness and ease."
Ah. To move through our days with mindfulness and ease. Isn't that what us mamas are after? I know that it is my own dearest wish, the reason I have a mindfulness practice, and the raison d'etre of this here blog. Not only does Erin's mission for her CD resonate so deeply with me, but I find she has chosen a format and content that are most effective for us mamas, that best serves the tone and rhythm of our days. Most of the CD's 8 track are only a few minutes long, but they are terrifically efficient at delivering on their promise: to help us relax, re-connnect to our center, and move through our days with an increased measure of peace.
I've had the CD downloaded onto my phone for a couple of months now, and have listened and breathed and relaxed with the practices it offers in a variety of places and times: in my bed, either first thing in the morning or last thing before lights out; in my car before daycare pick-up; in the middle of my messy kitchen. I'm here to tell you: this stuff works. Erin's voice is so soft and soothing that it in and of itself might help get you into a state of relaxation. But what I love most about the CD and its practices is that you get the sense that these were developed slowly and mindfully, over time, and they resonate as deeply genuine, as tools that Erin has crafted and used in her own days as a mom.
I'm so thrilled that she has agreed to answer a few of my questions. I'm sure you'll appreciate and enjoy her answers as much as I have.
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What inspired you to create Three Deep Breaths? Specifically, how did you settle on the format of short audio practices?
I think this format most accurately represents my own yoga / mindfulness practice. Although I do my best to get into the studio for a weekly yoga class (and more than one if I can!), it is really the small moments of mindfulness and breathing that are integrated into my daily life that are the bedrock of my practice.
By creating short audio practices, I am able to offer a product that is affordable, accessible and easy to use, which is especially important for yogis and aspiring yogis, who have major responsibilities in their lives such as parenting and working.
Can you give us the origin story of one of the practices in Three Deep Breaths? How did it evolve into its present iteration?
Absolutely. I would love to tell you about the origins of Snooze Button Stretches, the second track in my collection.
I have always considered myself a “morning person.” I generally wake up cheery and full of energy and find morning to be my most productive time of day. All this changed when my children entered school full time and I returned to working outside of our home (part time). Suddenly my mornings felt like a sprint from the moment my eyes opened until the moment we were all out the door.
After many years of waking up naturally (usually around 7 a.m.), I was now in need of using an alarm clock and often waking up in the dark - before my body and mind were ready. Needless to say, my cheery, full of energy attitude began to disappear and in its place were frustration, overwhelm and a general sense of the morning blahs.
To shift my attitude and meet my day in a better frame of mind, I started using the snooze button on my alarm to stretch and breathe and consciously focus on all that is good and wonderful in my life. It was very powerful and is something I continue to do to this day.
When I recorded the track I closed my eyes and spoke from my heart. I have never written out any of these practices and they vary a little each time I speak them or practice them myself. So what appears on my CD is the iteration that came to me on the day I recorded.
Can you paint a picture for us of when and how some of these practices serve you in your daily life as a mama, blogger, yoga teacher, interfaith minister?
These practices absolutely work into every aspect of my professional life. When I am guiding a couple as they prepare to be married, or welcome a child, or renew their commitment to each other, it is essential for me to be centered and present to their needs. The same is true when I am in the yoga studio teaching a class or leading a retreat, or even when I sit down to write.
But the place where these practices really become a guiding beacon for me is in my daily life with my family and interacting with the world. Conscious breathing, chanting, listing all I am grateful for… this is where I go when I face challenges and need to ‘dig deep’ and stay focused on my choice to live a life that is guided by peace, compassion and love.
It’s the little moments – when we are running late, when we are stuck in traffic, when my children are fighting about everything (and nothing), when my husband and I are moving too fast and are not connecting. This is where my practice serves me most deeply.
What I love best about the practices is having someone hold space for me for those few minutes. Who has held space for you? Who are your teachers, your sources of inspiration and guidance?
I have had a number of different teachers and guides over the years who have touched my heart in a very deep way. It’s funny though, when I stop and think about all the teachers who have deeply impacted me, there are very few names that would be widely recognized. I have had some of my most profound healing and learning experiences in quiet, tucked away yoga studios, in private homes, around camp fires and in community centers.
I do not have a Guru or master teacher, which at various times in my life has been something I long for and at other times has felt like a tremendous freedom and blessing as I meander my way through life, eyes always open for inspiration and guidance everywhere I look.
I do have a healer / energy coach that I have worked very closely with for a number of years who holds sacred space for me to process my spiritual journey. She understands me and my creative process more than anyone else (perhaps more than me, at times) and holds space in a beautiful, supportive, non-judgmental way.
(Julianna’s website: www.jriccienergy.com)
Do you use some of these practices with or around your children? How do you think they benefit from this work?
I definitely use these practices with my children but over the years I have (finally) realized that they learn so much more based on what I do rather than what I say.
I used to sit us all down for “yoga time” and try to offer a lesson like I do in the yoga studio and this just did not work. My children resisted and rolled their eyes. They simply did not want to have this type of “instruction” from their mother.
These days I focus much more on myself and truly living my yoga. When I am struggling, I use the tools I have learned to refocus my energy, and I intentionally do this in the presence of my children (when it is appropriate to do so). For example, when I am angry I might stomp around the house, grump, and growl – but I do so in a conscious way and I tell them why I am doing it. Or when I am facing a challenge with a friend or a colleague, I often talk about it with my children (filtering the details and translating to a language they can understand).
So I’m doing a lot less direct teaching and “this is what you should do” and much more intentional practice for myself, which allows my children to witness the yoga of everyday life in action.
(And of course, I still lose it from time to time. Sometimes I slam doors and scream and act like a two-year-old when I am frustrated. And then I look to my practice to bring me back to center, to meet myself with compassion and love, and to model the sacred act of saying “I’m sorry” to those I’ve hurt.)
Can you tell us a little bit about what it's been like to create Three Deep Breaths and send it out into the world? What elements have been surprising?
I think the most beautiful and satisfying thing about this project is that I absolutely, fully lived my practice while I was creating it. I set clear intentions, I showed up each day to work on it, but if it just wasn’t flowing for some reason, I honored that and didn’t try to push through. When it came time for a cover shot for the album, I had the exact image I wanted in my mind, but when I went to the beach to shoot the photos, I had a few technical challenges and it was the very tools highlighted in this audio collection that helped to guide me through with some measure of grace and ease.
(I actually wrote a blog post about the photo shoot, if you are interested: http://eringoodman.com/blog/
So, I can’t say that was surprising to me that these practices actually work. I know that in my heart. But to use them during the process of creating the album and to really live what I was creating was a beautiful and very affirming process.
What are you working on right now? Any future projects or offerings we can get excited about?
Right now I am in a bit of a dormant period, creatively speaking. I put a lot of energy out into the world last year in creating my first two e-courses, recording my podcast and creating this CD. Since the start of this year I have been pulling my energy back in and focusing more on daily life with my family and the work I do with my private clients, which has been really lovely and nourishing.
I’m really not quite sure what’s coming next for me in terms of projects and offerings, but I trust that this much-needed down time is nourishing the soil in which those future offerings will be planted.
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Isn't she great? But don't take my word for it: do check out her many lovely offerings. And buy her CD, and have a lovely and effective resource for calm and ease at your fingertips at all times.
One lucky reader will win a copy of Three Deep Breaths! Just leave a comment below before midnight, Central time, on March 6th, and I will announce the winner in this post on March 7th. Good luck to all, and thanks for Erin for sharing her time and insights! The contest is now closed. Congrats to the winner, Missy K, and to all who stopped by, read, and commented!
(All images in this post are from Erin's website.)