Update – Retreat

photo of white and brown owl perched on a tree branch

Photo by Erik Karits on Pexels.com

A month ago I would have been at Kripalu for a senior yoga teacher training program… but as we all now know, along with so many other plans, it was cancelled. The latest news is that Kripalu will be closed for the rest of 2020.

I have felt sad, with a deep sense of loss. This was a place for community, learning, and more than anything, a retreat where mind, body and soul can be nourished, cared for and restored.

And then I realized … I am on retreat right now.

The pace has slowed down and I have had lots of alone time in the garden and spending time in the woods. There is also a routine of teaching classes via Zoom, and finding connection with my yoga students and community – not to mention taking other yoga classes and dancing along with Kripalu yogis from all over. My WordPress friends are still here, as well as my Words with Friends gamers!

I have attended online conventions and community calls with SAND (Science and Non Duality) and a weekend of celebration and learning with the global Non Violent Communication Community.

There has been a sense of embracing this cocoon and nurturing myself and the relationships with those I care for.

My next venture is taking a writing workshop in July with Roger Housden. I have never thought of myself as a writer or been attracted to write a book, but I am being drawn to flex my wings  and to see where my next flight might take me.

I feel hopeful for a changed world still. Turbulence, pain and chaos are needed before transformation can happen. It was brought home to me this past week, as we faced two powerful flash thunder storms that devastated our neighborhood. We had some damage, but not much compared with some others. The power was off for five days and even the mailman couldn’t navigate through the fallen tress and downed lines. 

The power is now back on and I am grateful to have clean hair and the luxury of hot water and air conditioning. With the internet happily available, I may spend more time back here. 

I have decided to venture out more with some private yoga in people’s gardens and porches. 

Perhaps this butterfly is ready to emerge from her cocoon very soon.

animal insect macro butterfly

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

 

Inspiration from the Buddhi Bird

Why is it that some of us are suffering right now, while others are doing well, despite immense challenge and adversity?
How we relate to what is happening in our lives comes from our mindset and beliefs, and our experiences in the past.

Let me bring you back to story of the two birds, as a way to see more clearly into your experience.
two birds in a tree
In Mooji’s words:
“Some time ago I saw a picture depicting a parable from the Bhagavad Gita. It showed two birds in a tree, and one of them was building a nest. This one is flying off collecting things, arranging the twigs – its active, doing many things.
Above this bird, on another branch, is a second bird. It looks identical to the first bird, and it’s not building anything. It is just observing. It’s not building a self-image out of its perceiving, and its not deeply interested in any aspect of what it sees. Its perceiving is happening quite spontaneously without effort or judgment. There’s a silence there, that feeling of Being without thought. Just looking.

This is a beautiful portrait of who we are.
These two birds are connected. The first bird represents our dynamic being, the self that is engaged in the world, in future and past, in growing. It is the aspect that is living life with the sense of my family, my children, my work and so on.

The second bird represents that conscious witnessing within us. It is the ability to observe life taking place and activities unfolding, but it is not actually doing anything…

Initially the first bird who is building the nest, may not be aware of the second bird. As soon as it is able to be quiet, it becomes aware of the second bird, which is actually itself at a deeper inner level.

When the first bird’s mind is synchronized with the second bird, the activities become much more gracious. There is a sense of unity, a oneness… The second bird represents the change of perspective from the mode of the person to the state of presence.”

Self isolation and sheltering in place, offers us an opportunity for retreat and to get to know these two different aspects of ourselves.
The first bird engages in the world around it and is also called the I-maker or ego mind. It is the part of ourselves that creates stories about life and how we are experiencing it. It is easily influenced by our feelings, especially fears and desires. For example, when we feel threatened it can create a story about being a victim or create an other version where we become the hero. It can make us feel unworthy or let us believe that we are most worthy, while others are not.
It is the judge, jury and creator of how we believe we SHOULD be living our life.

In times of challenge, this part of ourselves takes center stage. The old ways of being, the habits and the comfort of everyday life as we know it have been taken away.  The I-maker is fearful of being out of control and threatened by the unknown and possible harm.

Have you noticed this part of your being on overdrive these days?…. I certainly have.

The second bird, or other part of ourselves is a conscious witness within us, at a deeper level. Sometimes the I-Maker is called the small self, while the other is referred to as higher Self. The higher Self has a bigger and broader perspective of life. It can see through the stories the small self makes up and sees beyond them. It is without judgment and is always present when we allow our attention to go there. It is called Buddhi and is close to Divine Presence or Source.

I believe that we can touch this deeper part of ourselves when we take time to pause and turn our attention inwards. When we Find our Middle Ground.

Now more that ever, take time to find some quiet space and reflect on this significant time of change. Take time to pause and create a space of Retreat and Reflection. Notice what stories you are telling yourself to try to make sense of what comes up. Notice resistance to the changing reality. Notice how you distract yourself from the discomfort and fear. Let go of judgment and be kind to this part of yourself.

Mindfulness and meditation will open up a bigger part of yourself, and create an anchor in the present moment. If you haven’t practiced meditation or yoga, then this is a wonderful opportunity to come to it. There is much being offered online and with apps such as HeadSpace.

A walk in nature and ten minutes of legs-up-the-wall are my practices these days, when I am not teaching yoga. I find them grounding and approachable. Take the time to explore what works for you.

Namaste

The Lost Sheep and the Shepherd

“Loneliness is not the absence of company, it is grief over that absence. The lost sheep is lonely; the shepherd is not lonely.” ~ William Deresiewicz

white sheep on farm

Photo by kailash kumar on Pexels.com

When we feel lonely, we grieve the absence of company, yet overlook our own. Perhaps we haven’t learned to like or appreciate our own company…
Many of us have relied on others to meet our needs, validate and stimulate us. The desire for the external however, prevents us from seeing and learning to appreciate what is already here within us.

Being content with our own company is a lesson that many of us only learn as we get older. As we learn more about ourselves,  we let go of conditioning and become more authentic and express ourselves in our own way. We like ourselves for who we are and how far we have come.

If we don’t like ourselves, or are afraid of what we might discover when we are alone with our thoughts, then we won’t want to spend time alone. When we do find ourselves alone, we create distraction with the TV or media, reach out for others or numb ourselves with substances.

Take a few moments to reflect on this and how it sits with you.

The second half of the quote shines a different light on loneliness. The lost sheep is missing others, while the shepherd is not lonely. The sheep is a follower of others and is dependent on their company. The shepherd is taking care of his sheep and this is his purpose. There is meaning in his life.

Take a few moments to reflect on what meaning and sense of purpose there is in your life.

Journalling is a great way to uncover our inner thoughts and desires.  Why not make this a time for reflection and self exploration.

Namaste

 

Gratitude, Grace and Celebration

I shared these words from Danna Faulds in yoga class today. Her work feels even more powerful for these times. May it enrich your day today and give you hope for tomorrow.

macro shot photography of tea candles

Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

“This is what I have to say to you. Savor the fruits of a lifetime of growth and evolution. I’m not suggesting that you rest on your laurels and declare yourself done. But its time to bask in the sunlight of your soul and let that warmth reach deep inside your bones.

The next stage of your life will rest upon a foundation of gratitude, grace and celebration. Grace simply comes when it comes and isn’t in your control. Gratitude can be nurtured and fertilized by paying attention to the gifts that come your way, saying thank you, internally and externally appreciating your life as often as you remember. Celebration means taking stock of how far you’ve come and letting delight and wonder lead the way.

What you are giving birth to today is bigger than your usual perception of yourself. Its okay that you have no idea what’s coming next. How could you? Just stay open and the universe will do the rest. Gratitude, grace and celebration are the keys.”

~ Danna Faulds taken from “What’s True Here” New Poems and Other Writings

 

 

 

 

Wu Hsin – What Is

table scraps

“Too much time is squandered on

What was and

What might be

Leaving only table scraps for

What Is”

Wu Hsin  from the Lost Writing of Wu Hsin translated by Roy Melvyn

Table scraps have their uses… yet can’t sustain us.

Pause and take time to Find your Middle Ground.

Embrace each moment fully and nourish your very being.

Namaste

 

Inspiration – Let it Go

This poem from Danna Faulds really resonated with me this week. Her work is such an inspiration.

let it go

Let go of the ways you thought life
would unfold: the holding of plans
or dreams or expectations – Let it
all go. Save your strength to swim
with the tide. The choice to fight
what is here before you now will 
only result in struggle, fear, and
desperate attempts to flee from
the very energy you long for. Let go.

 Let it all go and flow with the grace
that washes through your days whether
you receive it gently or with all your
quills raised to defend against invaders.

 Take this on faith: the mind may never
find the explanations that it seeks, but
you will move forward nonetheless.
Let go, and the wave’s crest will carry
you to unknown shores, beyond your
wildest dreams or destinations. Let it
all go and find the place of rest and
peace, and certain transformation.

~ Danna Faulds

COVID-19 is changing our society and the globe. It is reaching deep inside every one of us and turning our world upside down. Our dreams are on hold. Our faith is being questioned. We are being asked to let go of what we have thought is “normal”.

In our culture we are conditioned from an early age to expect to shine as an individual;  to make plans and achieve goals; to stand out above others,  pushing to succeed, strategizing to overcome and competing to win. We are also expected to be good consumers in order to achieve status and happiness and to show how successful we are. We thought that the pursuit of material things was the pursuit of happiness.

Many of us have been questioning these old ways for some time, and have come to realize that the wellspring of happiness lies within us, not in the external and material realm.

COVID-19 has changed all that. The old way of being doesn’t work any more. We must come together as a community, rather than compete against each other. We must work together to overcome the challenges that society faces now and in the future. We must embrace our global humanity and support each other, and our planet to sustain us. We must get creative and use our amazing minds for good rather than greed.

When we allow ourselves to fully experience life’s highs and lows,  it becomes clear that happiness doesn’t come from what we acquire or attain. It lies within us.

To find happiness we have to bring our attention into our inner world and let go of trying to control the outcomes of our life.

When we pause we transform.
Create this space for yourself.
Find your Middle Ground

Namaste

Become the Singing Bowl

adult adventure after the rain countryside

Photo by OVAN on Pexels.com

Singing Bowl

Begin the song exactly where you are,
Remain within the world of which you’re made.
Call nothing common in the earth or air,

Accept it all and let it be for good.
Start with the very breath you breathe in now,
This moment’s pulse, this rhythm in your blood

And listen to it, ringing soft and low.
Stay with the music, words will come in time.
Slow down your breathing. Keep it deep and slow.

Become an open singing-bowl, whose chime
Is richness rising out of emptiness,
And timelessness resounding into time.

And when the heart is full of quietness
Begin the song exactly where you are.

Malcolm Guite

Embrace this Liminal Space, Sing and Let Your Yoga Dance!

liminal space

Today I attended a powerful meeting via Zoom from Michael Meade and the SAND community. SAND represents the cross pollination of ideas from science and spirituality. Michael Meade is a renowned author, and scholar of mythology, anthropology, and psychology. He took us into todays’s crisis and explored the myths and stories from ancient sources that can help us navigate this time of transition and transformation.

Where we are today is Liminal Space.

The word liminal comes from the Latin word ‘limen’, meaning threshold – any point or place of entering or beginning. A liminal space is the time between the ‘what was’ and the ‘next.’ It is a place of transition, a time of waiting and not knowing.

Liminal space is where real transformation takes place. When we learn to look into the space beyond, we find new insight and can follow our calling in the next chapter of life.

Author and theologian Richard Rohr describes this space as:

“where we are betwixt and between the familiar and the completely unknown. There alone is our old world left behind, while we are not yet sure of the new existence. That’s a good space where genuine newness can begin. Get there often and stay as long as you can by whatever means possible…This is the sacred space where the old world is able to fall apart, and a bigger world is revealed. If we don’t encounter liminal space in our lives, we start idealizing normalcy. The threshold is God’s waiting room. Here we are taught openness and patience as we come to expect an appointment with the divine Doctor.”

A threshold of waiting. Between the step before that was the past and the step forward into the unknown future. It is often seen as a sacred time where we retreat and contemplate the world as we have known it, and our place in it.

It feels just right for these times.

As I was exploring I came across more inspiration:

Sing to the shadows, sing and do not fear

But sing them into love little by little.

Begin the song exactly where you are.

And so I start again here in the middle.

– Malcolm Guite, The Singing Bowl

Yes, sing and transform fear into love. Start in your Middle Ground.

Coincidentally (or not), yesterday I attended a Kripalu Let your Yoga Dance class via Zoom with Jurian Hughes. We paused, then moved, danced, breathed, sang and found our own joyous rhythm in community. It was so uplifting.

Each one of us can find the joy and open our hearts to love. Find your voice, your song, your passion, your joy and a new rhythm for these times.
I truly believe that when we do this we will be better prepared to meet the collapse of the old and embrace the new.

Namaste

 

Breathing to Let Go

This quote stood out for me today: “Sometimes you don’t realize the weight of something you’ve been carrying until you feel the weight of its release.”

 

When you find yourself tense, overwhelmed or feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. Take a moment to sit comfortably and simply notice your breath.

Every inhale brings in new life, nourishment and energy.

Every exhale is a release and letting go.

Our breath reflects the ebb and flow of life itself.

Do you notice that there is a slight pause at the end on the inhale as you hold onto the air? This holding on creates more tension in our body and it feels so good to release some of it with this simple exercise:

Take a nice big inhale and then sigh on the exhale. Really focus on the noise you can make when you breath out! Make it loud and long. The biggest and best sigh in the world.

Next, If this feels good, bring your shoulders up to your ears on your inhale and then release them away from your ears on the exhale.

You may want to bring in some shoulder rolls now. Inhale raising your shoulder up and then exhale releasing forwards. (3 times) Then inhale raising them up and exhale releasing them backwards (3 times).

As the energy moves, can you feel the shift? A lightening. As you practice this can you feel the burden releasing?

Namaste

 

Inspiration – Light beyond Dark

green leafed trees

Photo by Jonathan Petersson on Pexels.com

“The dark does not destroy the light;

it defines it.

Its our fear of the dark that casts our

joy into the shadows.”

~ Brene Brown

Take a moment to reflect on how this appears in your life right now.

Instead of wishing the dark away, how can we embrace it and uncover our joy?

In this time of crisis, accepting the difficulties, the fear and the rollercoaster of emotions that show up is so important. Only in facing our fear can we allow the light to shine forth.

I have found the light when I shift my focus from anxiety to gratitude.

I am grateful to have the hot water to shower in the morning and wash my hands throughout the day. I am grateful that I can get food at the store. I am grateful for Spring and the changing landscape of colors and textures every day. I am grateful for the feel of sun on my face. I am grateful to have furry and non furry beings who love me. I am grateful for technology that lets me connect with people near and far. I am grateful to be alive and well.

Take a moment and reflect on what you are grateful for….

Notice the inner shift.

From anxiety to gratitude.
From fear to love.

There is a nourishing power here. Find your middle ground.

Namaste

Find our Ground of Being

May this Danna Fauld’s poem fill you with strength and inspiration. “We come from stronger stuff than feelings” 💛

inner landscape

Bonneville Salt Flats

Remember This

Vast and changeless
the ground of being
is not rocked by
ripples on the pond.

The firmament from
which we spring, the
divinity at the heart
of things doesn’t wax
or wane with mind states,
or wither in the wind.

We come from stronger
stuff than feelings.
Essence does not fail
or fade, diminish or
trade reality for illusion.

We are wordless, wide,
and wise beyond time.
Within us is a flame
of truth that never dies.
Let that be the focal
point of life. Let that
be the light that guides
us from the shadows.

~ Danna Faulds