• being human,  breath,  embodiment,  learning,  spiritual direction

    Spirit vs. Ego

    The concept of True Self/false self is not new to me. As a long time yogi, I’ve been working on recognizing ego vs. spirit for a long time. One would think that I’d be ‘good at it’ by now, having mastered it, even. Not so much. But I am convinced that simply understanding the fact that they both exist (and are both necessary), is the first step in working my way through them. Since finding the work of the Center for Action and Contemplation, I’ve recognized many full-circle moments, events, concepts and situations. Having spent two and a half decades dedicating my life to yoga—practice and philosophy—it was quite a moment to recognize that many of the concepts I’d learned from yogic philosophy have direct correlations within the context of Christian Mysticism (as well as mysticism within other traditions).  The church (religion), for me,…

  • being human,  embodiment,  learning,  spiritual direction

    Metta & Growing in Compassion

    Metta (lovingkindness) practice is a tool to grow compassion, and compassion is absolutely essential to the work of spiritual guidance. Metta, it seems to me, is a deep internal practice that uses the mind, yet bypasses it entirely. It meshes the heart with the mind with the soul. As we repeat the short simple phrases for ourselves, our loved ones and those we don’t hold in high esteem, our hearts begin to incline toward a softer way of being; our hearts grow more compassionate. We cannot will compassion per se; it is more of a graced way of being. We can, however, practice metta to nurture its growth within us. What I sense from the readings and recordings is an intention on your part, as our guides and teachers, to help us grow contemplatively. The contemplative mind, to me, is non-dual. It is not…

  • being human,  embodiment,  learning

    Herbal Healing Journey

    Sometimes (most of the time), we don’t see ourselves clearly. I wonder if we are supposed to. We form our identities and sense of self through everything we experience, our surroundings, our people, our histories, genetics and many other things of life. No two people are alike and no two people should be treated the same for their ailments. My story relates to my nervous system and the ways it’s wreaked havoc on all of me. Long story short, I’ve only been diagnosed with hypertension and for over twenty years I’ve been taking a light dose of medication for this diagnosis. The problem? There is a much larger, more complex story around this diagnosis … my hypertension is the manifestation of a dis-regulated nervous system; it’s the end result of many other things going on inside. The problem is that my doctor (and most…

  • being human,  embodiment,  learning,  writing

    We Are One

    We, as individuals, are one. We are one connected system, within ourselves. The body, heart, mind and soul share one system, yet the system is often not in agreement with each of the individual parts. Conscious mind, subconscious mind, deep wounding (still residing) in the body, the shadow self, false self, true self, all of our conditioning, our reactions … each of these live inside of us. We try our hardest to live the best way we know how, all the while these forces work on us in big and small ways. We do the work. We begin to heal. We are better than ever, but in my experience, we never ‘arrive’ in this lifetime as perfect, completely enlightened beings. I used to think it was possible but I’m no longer convinced. I believe we learn and get better as life goes on. I…

  • being human,  breath,  embodiment,  learning,  writing

    Aliveness is a Gift

    I am learning to connect to my life by caring deeply about it, by being fully in it. It’s not that I never cared before. My conditioning just leaned more toward rush and anxiety. As my nervous system calmed, I learned new ways of being. My beloved’s smile is a gift. A friend in need is a gift. The sound of the morning. Every sunrise and sunset. This delicious food in abundance. Sharing my life with others. Each day, night, breath. All gifts. And it is my job to savor this one ‘wild and precious life’ I’ve been given. Please accept my apologies for not learning this lesson sooner. I’m here now. Fully. Completely. Honoring the divinity that resides within. I love you. I tend to my life and it gives back in ways I could never have imagined. There is sacredness in the…

  • being human,  embodiment,  learning

    The Mystery of Contemplation

    “The more you are free of yourself, the more you shall find light, truth and understanding …“ Meister Eckert  The practice of contemplation is more of an undoing than a doing and so confusing to the brain. I continue to practice each day. The following are excerpts that touched me from the Center for Action & Contemplation: Our blessedness does not lie in our active doing, rather in our passive reception of God … And so your unknowing is not a lack but rather your highest perfection, and passively to receive is your highest action. In this way you must cease being active and must draw all your powers to a point of stillness, if you truly desire to experience this birth within yourself.  Christ is the fundamental ordering principle of the universe, allowing things to be as they are and holding them together…

  • 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,  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