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.

Listening to the Voice of Tension

listening to the voice of tension



Eat pray love author, Elizabeth Gilbert was on Oprah Soul Series talking about her month-long journey into meditation and silence where she went to battle with the thoughts in the head. She realized this was not a battle after all. These fears, voices of negativity, past mistakes and shame represent parts of herself that one could liken to the little girl pieces that are crying out for attention.

One wouldn’t scold the child and berate her for her needs. After years of  trying what doesn’t work, one might find that with patience, love and light these “little ones” quiet and settle down, eventually acknowledging that “Mother” knows best.

I too have had a similar experience in Centering Prayer meditation numerous times. My description felt more like the “ugly, dark pieces of lead” wanted to be transformed into GOLD. By sitting with the inner blaze, following my breath, I could trust the alchemy-like process.

On my mat this morning, for the first time I began to hear the cries of my tension and stiffness as voices needing my compassion and kindness. Normally, I advise students to send breath to the sensation arising in the various parts of the physical body. Now I see for me the healing potential in identifying the resistance with a name.

Inhale up- arms overhead feel expansive and notice tightness between the shoulders in the back of the heart. “Ahhhh you are grief”. Well yes I feel the depth of your longing to be known my dear. You are like all the grief ever felt in this crazy, sad world. You are the grief of abandonment. A father never met in 49 years.

An emptiness desiring nothing but acknowledgement.

Deep and bottomless. With breath and love I hope you eventually find space to calm and then rest.

Runners lunge, exhale fold over right leg. Lengthen torso with breath. Engage root lock and steady. Yes I recognize you as the “inability to trust”. 

I know, I know…. I have not always been trustworthy.

Studying the balancing of the chakras I have learned this stems from the abandonment wound to the root chakra, the base of me. Muladhara: this place in the body should have experienced stability during childhood; but the little girl, me, didn’t know why her father left her. She felt unloved and unworthy. She went looking for attention in the world as the ego dragged her around with its lame attempts at wholeness and healing. But the ego was disconnected from the True self. How do I know this? None of it worked!

I was only left feeling guilt and shame. Yes, these beauties must live in my hips. That near constant nagging tightness. Bring on pigeon pose: stay, stay with this unease. Breathing life and spaciousness into the hips feels so necessary.

I’ll bet you can guess what word my heart whispered in our very first night of yoga teacher training when asked to allow space for one word to arise that will represent my primary area of growth over the 7 months—  R O O T E D!!  What is even more fascinating is the fact that something within me throughout our coldest winter in years was calling me to go out and lie on the ground. And each time I did this, a low level of anxiety I had awakened with would dissipate.

At the time, I wanted a word like the other students: love, connection, compassion. Now I see the accuracy of this single word in continuing to heal my childhood trauma. In a state of deficiency the root chakra can manifest as digestive issues, infertility, anxiety, poor focus and boundary issues. I suffered from all of these while I was disconnected from my physical body.

I trust I will meet students who will benefit from hearing how yoga has helped me find peace and healing and more teachers who will guide me to deeper and deeper levels of connection to myself and others.

I look forward to hearing from you and how yoga is putting the pieces of you back together!!