The Sacred Pause (3.9.17)
I would not say that I was, “born ready,” as a mother. I came into this journey with buckets of tenderness and a deep desire to get it right. But I was in no way prepared for the profound number of layers that I would need to pull back, the conditioning of so many generations I would need to shed and the depths of love I would have to unearth to become the person I've—on most days—come to be, both with my children and with myself. Because, you see, there is a deep correlation between the two. The way that we are with others is intricately woven with the way that we are with ourselves. The unfolding of this path did not happen over night. I don’t know when it happened, exactly. Somewhere between the despair of a car seat struggle gone deeply awry and the arrival at the breathtaking realization that my children were not somehow born flawed or wrong, too-loud, too shy or not developing the way that they should—and neither was I, any of those things.
Looking back, I can see that it was the repeated turning to spaciousness, to the breath—to the sacred pause—that has been my faithful guide. It was in—and it continues to be in—those spaces that I came to connect with a truer way of seeing. In those spaces, I discovered solutions that I hadn’t thought of. No one had to be wrong. There was greater compassion in those spaces, forgiveness for my children, forgiveness for myself. I found that time didn’t matter so, so much. And neither did what other people might be thinking of me. I’m too hard on them, on me. Too soft. I give too much, not enough. It was in those spaces—despite their expansiveness— that I discovered the astonishing brevity of life. I saw how fleeting it all is and how precious these times really are. It was in patiently tying a shoe for the 100th time, the calm intervention in a sibling squabble, it was in the mistakes too. My heart opened more fully and love poured through me more generously because of the thousand upon thousand little present moments of awareness that added up to something very big.
International Women’s Day (3.8.17)
There is ample reason to point out that women are as capable as men. We can do math. We can create art and music and laughter. We can run and tackle and climb. We can work construction, be on the front-lines and fix your plumbing. We can love other women and raise children on our own. We can make scientific discoveries and invent things and make loads of money. We can speak up and be heard and march and teach. We can lead. We can heal you and ourselves. We can do all of these things and more. And yet, there must be a reason women came to life—and there is no denying it—differently than men. There must be a reason for the struggle and the privilege to birth new life—new thought—to have had to claw our way up out of an idea that we were somehow less adept at living and to be seen as capable of voting and holding jobs and having control over our own bodies and minds.
There are as many ways to identify as a woman as there are women. We are not to be boxed in. That would be contrary to our very nature—creative, and expansive and divine. Let us celebrate today those many ways that we go about the world making our mark differently. Let us remember the cellular make-up of the feminine experience and let us encourage our valuable men, too, to discover the existence of these qualities within themselves so that they might better see and understand our real place—not in the kitchen—though many of us give and thrive beautifully there—but on the global stage where we can do our part to bring to life less war, less famine, greater equality and a more cohesive planet for all. This is not a competition. We—the magnificent women of this world—are a critical component in the global equation for PEACE and EQUALITY for ALL.
Study Them Now (3.7.17)
There was a time when I would write and my boys were still babes with chubby thighs and basic needs to be met. I would tiptoe from their rooms while they drifted into slumber, coming and telling about breathing through troubles and slowing my pace so that they might show me this magical world. Their arms and their legs have since lengthened along with their minds’ expansion and I find myself with a mantra pulsing through me like a heartbeat, “study them now!” “Study them now,” shouts the heart as I sense the momentum of their being growing and transforming them exponentially. When they come near, I give them my gaze – the mail, the cooking, the great aspirations – these things can wait. “Let me pick you up while I still can,” I say to my biggest boy, gathering up his lankly body into mine and holding him near.
#StudyThemNow #GrowingLikeWeeds #StopTheTrain #MindfulMothering #SacredTimes #Mother’sMeditation
River of Luminosity (3.6.17)
My ankle is on ice today, forced by a heavy log falling to temper my feverish pace to create. I’ve got a woman draped over a globe in the works, photos on my computer gone-missing, now found. There is an energy to be shaken up and separated so that I might get a glimpse of the angels in my midst. They say there really are no walls, no doors between us, and I believe them. Especially in the quiet, now, I can notice the humming of heaven beneath the purr of the heater, the purr of my cat. I know that more is there. I am thinking about what it means to my boys when I lock eyes with them in the purposeful act of intended listening. I don’t just hear their stories meandering like the delightful brook streams that they are, but I notice, too, the way our energies line up just right and I can almost hear the whoosh of connection between us. I notice that they are delighted by the light as well when I find myself really, really there and so we linger with our eyes and with their stories and with this river of luminosity flowing between us.
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Let You Be Glad (3.25.16)
For you, let the roots in me grow deep and sturdy as a mint plant gone wild in my garden bed boldly. Let my love be relentless, taking root as immoveable, tangled stems of strength not to be untwined. Let my mind be sharp like rose thorns—peaked attention ready for the word of the divine, received without question—clear as the prick of brambles through soil stained gloves. Let my presence matter like the
Spring gusts of wind that come, “I’m here!” “I’m here!” Let you be glad I am here. Let forgiveness live in me abundantly—pardons no fewer than the one thousand acorns released from Oak tree’s embrace. Let me be serene and yielding as the tides, responding always to the seasons of you, harmonious in my letting in and letting out of the cosmic flow of you. And let me most warm you like the near Spring sun after a lengthy Winter sun’s distance and darkness have lingered.
“Orange—I’ve decided—is the color of the soothing of souls. It is the color of warmth and comfort, of holding and forgiving. It is the color of new-beginnings—like green can be. Orange was Adrian’s 3rd-year favorite color, behind red and “lellow.” It’s funny, I’ve never before been drawn to the color orange like I am in this season. Now, I take it in with my eyes—with my whole body—like an elixir, soaking it up in the setting sun, in the images I work with, in the ember glow of a wood stove fire on an icy cold day. Our walls are grey, but—orange—orange is present when we come back into our home in the afternoons. It’s in our play. I feel orange in the preparation of a hot meal and the endless coloring, puzzle making and reading of books. Orange is Adrian licking the peanut butter and jelly off of his bread as I look on. It’s Jonah telling me a very long story at bedtime in a whisper—his voice still high and lilted—giggling out into the night air. Orange is cradling my heart—making it hardy—as I sift through old ways winnowing out what is worth keeping and discovering what must go.”
New Year, New Breath (1.1.16)
“It doesn’t matter where you have been. It doesn’t matter where you are going. It doesn’t matter who you have been traveling with. Or whether you have been traveling alone. It doesn’t matter if you are well loved or love many. It doesn’t matter if you are bitter or afraid or longing. It doesn’t matter if you are falling apart or holding it all together. It doesn’t matter if you look beautiful or flawed or what size you are or whether or not your body has been working well. It doesn’t matter your age. There in your breath—this very first conscious breath of the New Year—is a revelation of peace and pace, rhythm, and the sumptuous nectar of living. It is both ancient and brand-new, mighty and gentle. There in your breath is your beloved. Follow it just as closely as you may. Notice its inception in your belly—wide and expansive. Notice how it propels upward, broadening your chest, your shoulders widening—neck lengthening, back opening. Notice the nourishment of your brain as you reach the very, very peak of your breath. Remaining there—ever so briefly—absorbing the cool cleansing of your mind, the vigorous unleashing of your heart. And just as you notice your lungs having reached their fill, allow for the exhale to flood forward, washing over you layer by layer by every-single-layer—shedding and releasing the brittle and the rigid, shedding and releasing the harsh and the cruel. Follow your breath—like an expanding and contracting wave—into the New Year, into the truth of you. Let your breath envelop you in every step—filling you up with its luscious bounty—and let it be your tender guide.”
“This day, this luscious, ordinary day stride—no leap, leap as fiercely as you may— through the dense cloaks of ancient distortions. Shed your crumbling veneers layer by layer by every-single-barren layer. And with each stratum dismantled, call out those gross untruths that you’ve been shouting at your poor, contemptible self. And in your exquisite undress—pink and salty, graced with dew—discover the delicate babe unguarded and safe within an enchanted land. Banished are the endless, bitter judgements, gone are the multitude of musts. Even your bones begin pulsing a testimony to the priceless singularity of your offerings. Here remains—the naturalness of an animal, the purity of a child, the wisdom of a tree, the significance of a beloved spec of sand. You. You are a sage. “
Morning Ritual (10.10.15)
“Arise early while darkness lingers. Shuffle about in preparation for the dawn. Strike a flame of reverence and then switch on your very own inner beacon—an heir to daylight’s quiet arrival. Sipping something warm, pour out your gratitudes, allowing your luminescence to swell in you, rising your thoughts upward for your day’s quest. Allow whispers forth and listen for the outward stretching of your soul’s expansion. I am here. I am here.”
A Deeper Practice (7.9.15)
Of the many paths that I have traveled in search of inner balance, it is through a regular, devoted yoga asana practice that I have discovered an enduring calm and a sense of inner-spaciousness that informs all of my life, most of the time. Having practiced for nearly 20 years now, I have recently been contemplating what it is that has enabled me to deepen my practice over the years. I have come up with these 10 Suggestions for Elevating Your Yoga Asana Practice:
1. Breath Above All—Allowing your breath to be your most important guide as you go about your practice may open up a whole new world to you both on and off of your mat. Imagine the vastness of the Universe breathing through you, expanding your capacity for inhalation to that of the earth’s ability to take in oxygen. Imagine the mystery of your inner workings being breathed wide open with each in-breath and all parts of you—that aren’t you—falling away when you exhale. Notice the way in which this method of breathing follows you out of the studio and into the rest of your life.
2. Lowering Your Lids—Bring your practice from a place of outside focus to an inner focus by drawing your eyelids closed as you enter into each new posture. With eyes closed, your face will soften, your jaw might fall open slightly. Find your attention in the space between your eyebrows and allow that spaciousness to settle into you offering you insight as you flow.
3. Slowing Your Pace—It can be tempting to try to “keep up” with a class, with a teacher. Own your practice and move through your poses at a pace that coincides with your breath and in a way that is true to what you need. Yoga comes alive in the spaces that may be discovered through gentle transitions and deep inner-noticing. This cannot be rushed.
4. Balancing the Work Among You—I have recently discovered what it means to allow all parts of my body—and my mind— to share in the work of supporting each posture. Engaging all parts of your body and not relying on one joint or intersection to carry more than its share of the work has been a powerful metaphor for living a life of true balance.
5. The Inner Connectedness of All Things—There is a whole inner world to be discovered if only given our attention. Committing to an hour or so of going within and experiencing the ways in which the various parts of our bodies work in union may transform the way we view ourselves and maybe even transform the way we view the world. I find myself in awe when I consider the length of my spine and the way that I feel when I allow it to be as long and straight as it was created to be all in coordination with my core muscles and the other various muscle groups that need to be engaged to make it so.
6. Consistency is Key—It can be difficult to come to the mat day after day with all of the many responsibilities and pressures of our lives. And yet, there is a power in the cumulative effects of a consistent yoga practice. It is almost as if our body—and all that it holds—comes to trust us with this continuity and becomes more willing to reveal itself fully.
7. The Language of a Practice—I am regularly taken aback by the way in which I may learn about myself through my yoga practice. Sometimes when working through heart opening postures, I am met with the places in which my heart has become closed. A particularly inflexible day might represent an increased need for a more open mind. A willingness to be gentle with myself on the mat translates into a growing ability to show myself compassion. When I am paying attention, I almost always learn something from the way that my body and my mind meet together in asana.
8. As Gentle as Can Be—One of my favorite moments in a yoga class is just after Shavasana in which the teacher might suggest that yogis role from their backs over into a fetal position and spend a little time in the place where it all began. It is there that I meet myself most gently, engaging those parts of myself in need of healing—-the places that long for forgiveness, the places in which I feel injured, even my innermost child self can be found there in those brief moments. Bringing this gentle energy to ourselves in all parts of our practice can transform the way that we greet not only ourselves on a regular basis but also the way in which we greet the other souls who we come in contact with in the world.
9. Experiencing Your Limits—While at times it is important to experience a sense of striving in life and even in our yoga asana practice, it is equally powerful to know when practicing a posture at its most basic level is the work we are called to do. Sometimes, doing less and really sitting with and being content with the place where we need to stop can be transformative. There we may release the need to compete, to be better and instead be open to accepting ourselves exactly where we are.
10. Asanas are Just the Beginning—Yoga is multi-faceted with eight limbs—or steps—to practice. There where years when I was a practicing yogi but only infrequently made my way to the mat. In those times, I was always devoted to learning and growing with the Yamas (ethical standards/integrity) and Niyamas (self-discipline/spiritual observances). Learning about these various aspects of yoga and immersing oneself in these other paths can offer insights into the many ways that we may grow as humans and a spiritual beings.
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