How Yoga got me a pink slip

How yoga got me a pink slip

And I am NOT sour grapes.

I needed to be pushed out of the nest.  I had grown really comfortable teaching in prison. Every Tuesday for over a year, I taught two meditation classes at a nearby medium security facility.  The men were always open, appreciative, honest and occasionally raw.  This combination made for a sacred circle that allowed for our most authentic selves to show up.

I am not really surprised that  my badge was pulled for practicing some yoga poses. After all, there is a very real resistance in the world that operates in opposition  to light.  Its energy is much stronger in prison environs.

The week before I had made a bold proclamation and shared about it on my blog:

“I arrive home every Tuesday at 1p.m.

Home away from home for me is a federal prison where I teach mindfulness meditation.

I always say a prayer as I enter. It’s not always the same, but it is often “Bless us that we might do your will” or “Thank you for using me to be your presence here today”.

Today I felt strongly that I should boldly proclaim how grateful I am for having the greatest job in the world. I do not say this lightly.  18 men gather to sit in stillness with intention, week after week.  On a few other occasions, I  have proclaimed that God loves them, forgives them and wants to draw their hearts closer. I express my confidence that mindfulness meditation creates a safe space for feelings to arise in order to heal past hurts done by and to them.

I call my practice my time with the Divine Therapist.

Today I looked these men in the eyes one by one and from my sincerest space within, I said, “My job is to have you see yourself as God sees you when you look at me.  It’s reciprocal too.  I see myself as God sees me when I look at you.”

 It’s a beautiful thing.

I was choosing to spend more and more time behind the walls.  Why you ask?  Well, I am coming to realize that  I am my most authentic self there.  I pray to be of service and so I act with clarity of intention.  I have no one to impress. There are no ulterior motives. I am not hiding behind a persona. I have no history with these people.  I may never see them again after this class is completed and therefore there are no expectations of a future relationship.

I am driving over the Ben Franklin bridge the day I learn that I’ve been fired and the metaphor is not lost on me as I hear in my heart, “You have given us everything you had to give. We are ready. Go out into the world and shine your Light. You will be awesome!”.  The men seemed to be speaking somehow through my intuition that the next step in my journey would be powerful and again life-altering. Clarity around what the future holds feels exciting because I had made some declarations at a Jen Pastiloff manifestation retreat with 40 women in the Catskills two weeks earlier.

I had been serving without hopes of anything in return. And yet, I received everything.
It was  in a chapel behind barbed wire that  I exp erienced  incomparable beauty in a place deemed by much of the world  as ugly and forgotten.   It was there that I realize I am hiding from the world. I am hiding my talents and gifts behind those walls, in a cozy nest of my own creation.  I now know that “home” is where the heart is, is not just a quaint saying.  It’s profound truth fills me to overflowing.

 


 

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Separation is a LIE

encounterillumination

Back in May 2015 I was signed up for a weekend training in NYC with Phoenix Rising Yoga therapy.

The day before I had the thought “I Love learning new things; especially about yoga!” and suddenly a new deeper thought came in– ‘This isnt about learning dear. This is about healing.”  Woah!!  What have I got to heal?  Haven’t I done enough deep work during the 8 months of yoga teacher training I completed in Novemebr?  Such a silly girl– there is ALWAYS more to heal.

Upon arrival our very first partner activity is gently placing two fingers on one another’s heart- front and back.  As Lea’s hand approached my sternum, I felt as if she had to push through a dense block to reach me.  After a few minutes of silence and breathing together, she is  instructed to slowly remove her hands from me. 

I instantly burst into tears…

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A Poem: “Freedom Isn’t Free” [Guest Post]

1/2_Full, All GOOD

I’m delighted to share this poem from a like-minded human, a believer in God, a light in the darkness. She’s been through that darkness herself, she knows.

Sincere and massive thanks to Anita Grace Brown for allowing me to share this poem on this blog.


resist the urge to scream

So. hard. to. be. thankful. for. these. dark. days

telling all
in confident terms

all is well

freedom’s at hand!

back inside

there’s no escape

a vice-like grip

on heart and mind…

soul like a specter

slipping through

bony, superhuman restraint

resist

resist the urge

resist the urge to scream

focus on the blue sky

thy kingdom come…

in the luminous darkness

i remain

See the original post here:

https://www.elephantjournal.com/2014/01/freedom-is-not-free-anita-brown-poem/

Her website: http://www.smilingheartyoga.org/#home

Find her on twitter via: @namasteanita

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Miriam

Loving this bold message

Radical Discipleship

DSC_0158.JPGBy Tevyn East, Carnival de Resistance

“So Miriam was shut out of the camp for seven days; and the people did not set out on the march until Miriam had been brought in again.”      Numbers 12: 15

In May of 2012, I entered into an artistic collaboration with Jay Beck, my now husband and partner in producing the Carnival de Resistance. We had established that I would come up to Philadelphia and together we would create works of theater that re-contextualize stories from scripture, based around each of the four elements: Water, Air, Earth, and Fire. Immediately upon landing, we discerned that we would first focus on the voice of water and that I would delve into the story of Miriam, Moses’ sister. Little did I know that this choice would throw me straight into the deep end!

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Mama puts on her oxygen mask first

Mama’s peace.

Mama’s come to recognize the value and necessity of self-nurturance, and homeostasis.

All the accolades and recognition don’t mean a hoot if Mama’s mind is on the what’s missing piece.
The gradual journey home begins with that eensy weensie brave step toward trusting there’s a sun behind those clouds.  If confusion and emotions are tossing her about, she must get still and lean in, lean into the pain, grief and fear (you know the place we generally and naturally want to run from?).

Maybe, just maybe she is all alone.  And if this is truly the case…no one is coming to rescue her, no one is going to turn on a light in the dark, or dry these tears. No distraction, sugary dessert, cocktail or habit is going to make her gray sky blue.

She might just find herself tethered to her own sweet soul.

The path a sled makes

The day after snowmageddon hit the northeast, the sun shone and I decided I wanted nothing more than to go sledding.  I practically begged my husband and was disappointed in his decline.  I turned to my 16 year old son only to hear ‘Not really, mom”.  So off I went sled in hand, outfitted in ski attire.

My first run taken over the already excavated path, I nearly hit a tree but giggled joy the whole time.  At the bottom I paused and looked up: the robin’s egg blue sky was serene and lovely. The naked, near dead tree branches blocking a clear view, I initially said to them, “Must you block the expansive spaciousness?”.  When instantly the story changed to — AHHHHH, you beckon me to love you just as deeply as the sky!!  You ask that I not see you as something in the way of glory but a part of GLORY.

The branches represent all the ‘troubles’ and challenges in life. When we can view them from a place of grounded awareness we might be graced with the big picture.

Climbing back up the slippery slope I stepped firmly and felt strong in my own footing.

The next few runs down, I navigated the trees and squealed as I caught some air. Gliding to the bottom and always just staying still long enough to catch my breath and be filled with gratitude for exhiliration and this amazing life.  I realized I was finding balance between riding high and embracing stillness.

My final run I held tight to my sled’s rope and forged a new path. I landed rougly against some tree branches jutting up and laughed hysterically at where my little adventure had taken me. I lay there and thought about how being stopped by these trees was fine by me.  I resist nothing; I am fierce with reality.

Separation is a LIE

Back in May 2015 I was signed up for a weekend training in NYC with Phoenix Rising Yoga therapy.

The day before I had the thought “I Love learning new things; especially about yoga!” and suddenly a new deeper thought came in– ‘This isnt about learning dear. This is about healing.”  Woah!!  What have I got to heal?  Haven’t I done enough deep work during the 8 months of yoga teacher training I completed in Novemebr?  Such a silly girl– there is ALWAYS more to heal.

Upon arrival our very first partner activity is gently placing two fingers on one another’s heart- front and back.  As Lea’s hand approached my sternum, I felt as if she had to push through a dense block to reach me.  After a few minutes of silence and breathing together, she is  instructed to slowly remove her hands from me. 

I instantly burst into tears. We have only just begun and there are two more days ahead of us.

I go home and sleep like a rock for over 10 hours, missing my alarm.  Arriving late to class, I apologize and explain that emotionally I do not feel up to partner work and will observe for awhile.  Within 45 minutes I am curled in a ball on the floor and back asleep!!

Suddenly, I am awakened crying and feeling ashamed.  I glance around the room and see everyone assisting one another in hip-openers. They are rolling and stretching one another and no one is crying.  I hear in my spirit ‘The hips hold shame. Release your shame’.  I yell in head — You are not even experiencing a hip stretch!!  How in the world are you the one releasing shame??

The crying stops. The emotion passes and we take a lunch break.  I head outside to take in the hustle and bustle of New York’s Soho neighborhood.  I find a tasty Indian spiced potato flatbread and chow hungrily.  I am awake, alive, grateful and open.

The afternoon continues uneventfully and I head back to my friend’s house on the other side of Hudson.

Sunday morning and I had almost forgotten I would awaken in a strange bed on Mother’s Day. I am filled with sadness missing my mom and my children.   But my friend had very thoughtfully been prepared this might be the case and greets me with flowers and a card!  I am verklempt. 

Heading back into the Big Apple, I feel mature and excited for our final hours together.  Living in South Jersey and mostly working from home, I don’t enjoy these adventures often enough I decide.

It’s now about 5pm and we are just a few hours away from finalizing our level 1.  We are instructed while sitting cross-legged, to close our eyes and imagine being divided in half, top of head to seat.

My eyes fly open and I am filled with terror as I had felt my body violently sliced in half with a huge machete. I look around. No one else seems bothered.  I wait, feeling anxiety rising.

The teacher wraps up and asks if anyone has any feedback.  I say with a tremor in my voice what just happened.  I then begin to lose sensation in my hands so I stand up and begin shaking them, hard. 
The tears come hard and fast and I almost hyperventilate but then return to focus on deep inhales and slow exhales. I say I am ok now and retreat to the ladies room for some water and rest.

As the months have passed since that experience, I have contemplated numerous times what my body was releasing and relaying.  My birth father visited me once in the hospital Novemebr 5th 1965 and I never saw him again after that day.  I believe there was a part of my psyche that believed it had been ripped from him.

This part was integrated back that day relaying the message that I am healed, whole and fully connected.

God wants the body to function efficiently and effectively in unity. Therefore, what happens to one part, or what one part does, affects the whole. What we do does indeed make a difference because we are individual parts of a living, spiritual organism. Our actions will produce an increase of good or evil, efficiency or inefficiency in the use of spiritual resources, effectiveness or ineffectiveness. For me personally, the practice of YOGA (union, yoking) has been key in healing abandonment trauma.
To understand this, perhaps we need nothing more than a deeper awareness that, despite the way things may presently look on the surface, our worldview – how we look at life and all its jumble of events – is quite narrow compared to God’s.  We are not separate from God now or ever. Just as we cannot disconnect from our own arm, we cannot sin or feel enough shame to plunge us into eternal darkness.
Isaiah 60:19
No longer will you need the sun to shine by day, nor the moon to give its light by night, for the LORD your God will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.
Once we see things from His perspective, we can see we bear a major responsibility to the body of Christ because God has included us in His great purpose.
Are you spiritually disconnected or knitted into the Body with Christ as the Head?  Actually, this would be a more accurate description –to ask your heart all the ways it has hardened from hurt and surrender to resurrected Love preparing a space in you for something new to be birthed this Christmas.