Just a couch, just a carpet

I don’t want to sit up straight to type and think from my elongated spine, aligning my head, heart and guts. I don’t want to shift from this slouch, merging with my new dark gray sectional in my recently renovated family room, where the only family left here most of the year is my husband of 25 years. But I need to tell you about this bubbling up of truth around my being a Christ-follower. I see HIS signature mercy, grace, presence, heart-welling up everywhere and that makes me a Sufi. I don’t like labels. I do like the word eschew..but how is that pronounced anyway? I wont’ pause the quick-fingered tapping at these keys to find out though.

And yet, I know I eschew labels…restrictions on my Self or my self. I am integrating so many parts of my Self/self lately that I am in a state of allowing. Allowing this couch to swallow me up into her puffy enveloping softness. All the selves, right here, right now…melting together. This is exactly what my self needs today. I am listening as she sighs, ‘yes’ to the no effort.

So here we are…can you see us, this 5 foot 5 inch breathing thing? You can’t really differentiate the parts because they’re smooshing down and together. Getting lost in and among themselves. All except those fingers, tap tap tapping away. Inhale….Exhale.

Earlier I was a few feet away from this spot on the new area rug, all swirly with oceanic colors and flowing designs. I needed her to hold me. The ocean. The womb. The color blue.
I was falling apart and I knew she’d let me.

She wouldn’t ask me to pull myself together. She wouldn’t command me to stop my incessant crying. She’d absorb the tears into herself…making more of her, less of me. More of her…less of me. Like a mantra now. I am one with you- carpet as ocean. Ocean as womb.

I am no longer Anita the one who can’t stop the flow of pain, the flow of tears, the flow of remembering. I am in the ocean of pain, the sea of tears, the womb of comfort.


You breathed on me too

You must have thought you had a gift to give

Why else would you lean in this way, breathing heavily on my body

Did you have an inkling about the way your passing on your shame to me would empower me

Did you internalize the message of the cross

Were you really that generous deep down in your core

Did you pray while your hands moved over my structure that in the ‘giving’ I’d be receiving fuel for transforming myself from a lowly caterpillar into a striking, colorful butterfly

Did you know this new creation would spread the word

that you cannot break us

You cannot bury us with your pressure to keep still

keep quiet

We are seedlings

We know how to patiently burrow down into the dark dank damp earthy womb of us

We know how to LISTEN inside for the stirrings of movement

We know how to stretch beyond our human form

We know the resurrection is for us

this day

and every day

We, the women, of the CROSS

have leapt down to

spread the Good News

our bodies smiling

our hearts beating

out—- F O R G I V E—- them

they know not…


Yoga for your lonely body



Our bodies have brought us this far in life. Containers for our unexpressed emotions and moving forward despite injury and illness, our bodies have faithfully experienced our lives through tastes, sights, sounds and smells. And yet, most of us barely give our hands and feet a passing thought, let alone our internal organs keeping us alive. The gateway to wholeness of mind and spirit is through the physical stardust of us.  Bringing the light of awareness into our tension, our achiness, or simply where it feels like there is no space for breath, will serve us well on this path of exploring the very ground of our being.


I hope you’ll take a listen and stretch and contemplate what it is your body has to say to you today about doing the next right thing.  Namaste!

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.



More human not less

More Human not less
If you’re anything like me, you may have spent some time and energy attempting to minimize the qualities of being human— e.g.
  • jealousy
  • distraction
  • judgment
  • frustration
  • playing victim
  • ungratefulness
  • entitlement 
Just to name a few…
I have found the practices of yoga and meditation tantamount in creating space to actually begin to witness these thoughts and emotions from a place of the witness, allowing me to respond instead of react.
Case in point:  I’m on my mat and we have a substitute teacher for my FAVORITE teacher, whom I have not seen most of the summer.  I tell myself to let go any disappointment and remain open to possibility.
I don’t actually feel that great this morning-  tired, distracted by having had nightmares, and female issues.  I don’t push myself too hard physically and as the teacher advises “take what I need”; which is lots of time in child’s pose.
I notice my desire to have her nurture me.  I notice my wishing she would run her hand down my spine, making a connection and honoring my choice.  I notice disappointment.  I breathe and let out a big, loud exhale.
I see the other women: fitter, stronger, thinner.  I notice my initial comparison and decide to let that go too. Inhaling I choose space, exhaling I choose emptiness.
We are about to enter fish pose and I go to grab for my block. The teacher unwittingly grabs it before I can and places it under her spine to demonstrate.  I notice my upset.  I grab the other block near the top of the mat and I CHOOSE to breathe into the feeling of disconnection and judgment. I lie back, open my heart and surrender into the earth. 
I tell myself to keep using my tools: pressing into earth, relying on breath, and engaging my core (the VERY CENTER of me).
If we can notice we have given our peace away, it is much easier to draw it back to us. It’s living in the space of being off-center and not recognizing our own power over the situation which leads to a downward spiral toward moodiness, anxiety, over-eating, or depression.  
What started out as me not feeling optimally could have spiraled into me having a bad day and beginning a story in my head of victimhood, woe is me.  Eventually, I would probably take this out on my unsuspecting husband.

In savasana or final rest I fully embraced nurturing MYSELF, no one else needs to do this for me.  I fully leaned into being human and having thoughts and emotions that in the past may have led me to judge myself but now I see are not the real me, they stem from a place of disconnection to my true self.  My Highest self desires peace and wholeness and that can only be embodied when I can allow plenty of space for every human emotion.  I don’t dare ever again trap my wild, flourishing & tender self in a cage of disparaging thoughts.  I am F R E E !!!!


Whose voice was it which said we are weak?  Whose voice was it which said the body is less  intuitive than the mind?

I lie awake home in my bed attentive to the sensation  of anxiety in my chest 8 hours post-surgery.  a story on repeat in my brain– you are not ok…you are not ok.  My  husband  tries to  comfort  me saying ‘i don’t know why you’re upset, you don’t have cancer’.   He’s right isn’t he?  I shouldn’t be upset…so now the message on repeat becomes- you have nothing to be upset over. 

And yet just a few hours  earlier  the nurse  repeatedly  yelled  at me  to “breathe deeply Anita!!”  So I would inhale  fully  causing the  machine to  stop  beeping  its  alarm.  Once  she even had to put the oxygen mask on.

This type of urgent instruction to a  woman  not  fully  conscious  and  in pain  will instill  trauma  in the subconscious and  become stored  in the  physical  body– that is certain.

The  mind will  not,  cannot  calm the body  in the midst of full-blown  anxiety with a false mantra.

“If we can truly be mindful of what is going on in us or around us–that’s how we can find or feel ‘the Spirit’ in it. Then our response to the situation will be originating from the Spirit rather than from our knee-jerk feelings of fear or anger or envy. And whether the response is to endure bravely or to act creatively, it will be done with understanding and compassion–which means it will be life-giving.” Paul Knitter

i am grateful that i did not fall prey to an old habit of  ignoring and  distracting  myself  away  from a shouting  energetic  presence.

Because one minute  I am telling  my husband  I need to  pay attention to my body’s signals and the next I  am ready  to  put on  netflix.  One  minute I  am  telling  myself just be grateful the mass was benign and the next I  am wondering why my heart is pounding and I want to scream.

When suddenly a prick of tears  threatened to fall that I made the decision to just get  still.  In that space of breath and  acknowledgement I  recognized  something  indeed was in  need of prayer.  And so i queried  my heart, ‘what is  going on  in there?’.

How often do we place a hand on our chest and listen for love’s blessing over our lives?  Because this is how we begin to heal…old wounds, new wounds, makes no matter– it can only happen in the very moment the body is relaying distress.

Are we so bogged down with being entertained/distracted from wholeness that we’ve forgotten how good a belly laugh feels or how rich and peaceful silence can be?  
Sure enough–within just a few minutes, a peace beyond understanding descended and I heard this message:

You have been through a LOT these past few months (unnecessary surgery, a full-blown panic attack in yoga class and preparing to meet my bio-dad for the first time in 50 years)…allow yourself the opportunity to reveal what is alive in each moment expressed through bodily communication.  It is really quite simple…WHEN we  pay attention.  I  suddenly felt  strong, empowered, connected and  ready to  fully rest.

We are not fragile: 

The Body of Christ has a missing limb

multiply my eyes
so that i might glimpse all their glorious +
ravaged scars
O I see you!!

make me a hundred ears to
hearken sorrow’s echo
through the canyons
O I hear you!!

a thousand arms to embrace
the multitude of plagued + broken
O how I feel you!

a million feet
to walk a trillion miles
just to hold a single
thorn-pierced heart

the body of christ
revealed in mud–
winged lotus
gracefully blooming
dove engulfed
in holy flame

feverish pain
swirling inward
cooled only by
a cyclone of

transforming ashen wreckage
the body of Christ has a missing limb

weary, I
my own
tender + brambled belly
If one part suffers, every part suffers 
if one part is honored, 
every part rejoices 

the body of christ
has a missing limb

center-placed palm
stigmata-wound bruised for my iniquities
presses back
the body of christ
has a missing limb

one breath separates
from surrender
submerged then
knitted together
in the hollows

you…your wounds
your story
your limbs
your love
your peace
your voice

you are the missing