• being human,  breath,  embodiment

    Conscious Breath is a Superpower

    I work with breath every day, but today is an extra special one, a day of celebration. A human who once shared my very breath has been on the planet for twenty-one years today. Yes, I brought life into the world that day — a beautiful, blue eyed, red headed, breathing, loving, feeling human who has blessed me in unimaginable ways. And so, in honor of Madison, of life, of breath itself, I’d like to tell you a little story of how the day unfolded and why I think conscious breath is a superpower. I came into the pregnancy a novice yogi but could not find a prenatal yoga teacher to work with me, so I did what I knew I could to stay healthy and active: early in the pregnancy, I committed to regular breath practice and walked 5+ miles every day. I…

  • being human,  breath,  learning

    Connected by Breath

    I think most of you know that I am a yoga teacher, but what you may not know is that I stopped teaching–almost entirely–as my mom took her final breath just over three and a half years ago. In some ways I stopped breathing too; I couldn’t inhabit my body in my grief. Teaching yoga is a giving profession and I literally had nothing to give; continuing to teach would have been unfair to my students and to myself, even though saying goodbye presented another loss. For a full two years I grieved my mom, a daughter who came of age and a life I knew and loved. It was a dark night of the soul I’d never wish on anyone, but it was necessary. I devoted time to healing. I relearned how to fully inhabit my body and how to breathe again. Lots…

  • being human,  embodiment,  learning

    Embracing the Right to be Real + Awkward

    I am real; I always have been. I am awkward too, although I bet most people who know me wouldn’t tell you that about me. I’m far too controlled to show it. I, probably not unlike you, have lived from my ego self for my entire life. And that ego self is very concerned with how I look and seem to others. I over drank for years to feel comfortable around people. I didn’t know I was doing it at the time. I just knew that I was fun and had a lot more things to talk about when I was drunk. I could also be my loving, generous self when drunk. I could tell people how I felt easily. The only way I could talk and feel comfortable in a crowd was if I was a few glasses deep. I am still not…

  • being human,  embodiment,  learning

    Field Notes on Mystical Embodiment

    I am currently enrolled in The Living School through the Center for Action and Contemplation, and in a nutshell it is a living (alive, breathing, adaptable, embodied) school that deeply, methodically (thoroughly) explores the contemplative Christian mystical tradition. I applied and was accepted last year; the two year program kicked off with a symposium in July. Though my experiences feel really hard to process and write about, I plan to try during the time I spend in the program. As a deep seeker of spiritual truth, I’ve walked many roads in my life from West to East and back again. And the auspicious thing about it all is that the truth I’ve been seeking has been here all along. It was here in my eastern studies as much as west. It was here as I learned about yogic philosophy and Ayurveda and astrology and…

  • being human,  embodiment,  writing

    Permission to Feel and Heal

    I read something a few years ago that helped me heal from trauma significantly. It validated my experience. I remember my therapist saying to me that my type of trauma was the hardest to heal … low level trauma. I didn’t even recognize it as trauma until I was well into adulthood and life began to unravel. Here is the passage:  “It’s crucial to remember that no one but the writer can determine what might be perceived as traumatic nor is it essential that the experience be defined as ‘trauma.’ What matters is if the difficult experience produces a stress response––or a complex trauma response––and this can result from surviving an attack, being in a car accident, or fighting in a war. It also can come from the separation from parents, or living with a depressed parent, or being in a household with marital…

  • being human,  embodiment,  learning,  writing

    Being Alive Takes Time

    Oh my, how I need to internalize this lesson …. “I am always surprised at the aftereffect of being moved deeply by something. I can be hurt or disappointed or feel the warmth of being loved or the gentle sway of being temporarily left, and then I’m ready to chew on something else, seldom allowing for the feelings to digest completely. In fact, I’ve come to see that much of my confusion in life comes from giving my attention to the next thing too soon, and then wrapping new experience in the remnants of feeling that are not finished with me. … Being alive takes time.” Mark Nepo: The Book of Awakening Photo by Maksym Kaharlytskyi on Unsplash

  • being human,  embodiment,  writing

    Words Harm. Words Heal.

    As humans, we are naturally feeling creatures. Emotions move through us every day, and unless we pay attention to those feelings, they can rule our very behavior. They can also make us use words to manipulate other people’s behavior. This very thing happened to me this week. A friend of mine, someone I know pretty well, used words in a conversation with me that made me feel uncomfortable. I don’t think she meant for me to feel this way, but I do believe she used her words to achieve a result, to make herself feel better. She was hurt by me, I believe. She wanted something from me I didn’t provide to her. She had needs and looked to me to meet those needs. When I did not meet them, she used words that felt like shame to me, deep in my body, deep…

  • being human,  learning,  writing

    Doing Hard Things

    Doing hard things looks a lot different than what it used to look like. Doing hard things used to look like exerting my will. It used to look like a lot of effort. It used to look like grinding out each day. It used to look like making a name for myself and being in the spotlight. It is so funny how all of the things I used to want I have zero need for any more. Living in a calmer, more quiet way is the thing that most soothes my soul. It is not that I have nothing to prove, it’s just that I have much less to prove to others than I have to prove to myself. These days, mostly what I have to prove to myself is that I have the capacity of becoming the person I am supposed to be.…

  • being human,  embodiment,  learning

    The Past Informs the Present

    Have you ever had an existential crisis? I’m pretty sure I just lived through one, and I continue to have glimpses of it flash into my consciousness periodically. An existential crisis refers to feelings of unease about meaning, choice, and freedom in life. I was thrown into this phase a little over three years ago, as mom was leaving her earthly body and my only child moved out of our home. I was in deep grief and sadness for well over two years. In my eyes, I lived through two deaths, of the most primal relationships I have. I wasn’t the same person I used to be and reflecting on it now, I can see that that period forever changed who I am. In many ways I am incredibly happy to be in this stage of life. NOW. (I certainly didn’t feel it in…

  • being human,  embodiment,  writing

    Our Practices Help Us Become Our Best Selves

    I’ve been thinking about practices, habits and routines. How are they different? Are they different? How are they similar? Each contributes to who we are, who we become and how we spend our days. Two quotes that come to me often are “How you do anything is how you do everything,” and “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.” But habit gets a bad rap, rightfully so. It’s easy to slip into bad habits and they are hard to break. I also believe that good habits come from practice and practices are filled with intention. We envision who and how we wish to be and put practices in place that support those intentions. Done often enough, they become habits and perhaps routine. Practices are intentional whereas habit and routine can ultimately become less mindful. And I…