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!!

It was the Best of Times/It was the Worst of Times

An ordinary Tuesday that began and ended in tears. But what happened in between is where the magic happens.

It’s 6:30 a.m.

Making breakfasts and packing lunches for the teens. Telling myself to bring joy & gratitude to the activity– totally faking it.

Before I descend the basement steps for my daily meditation, I take a peek at the twitter feed and read “90 year old sisters still making each other laugh”.

I try and sit still and follow my breath and hold my spine upright. Really I do.

But after a few minutes it feels impossible and even a bit painful. I surrender and take child’s pose. I’m clasping my hands behind my head and willing the earth to absorb my tears and fill my heart with calm.  I am saying “I’m sorry for all the times I EFFED up! I am doing the BEST I can!”

The day you break your own heart and call bullsh*t on yourself for playing small, for believing the lies, for not knowing any better: you step into your power.

You NEVER look back.

I was ASLEEP at the wheel.

I am awake now.

What do you think the  bible means in 1 thessalonians 5:17 when it says to pray continually?
I used to wonder what the heck that could look like?  Now that I have a daily mindfulness practice I pay attention!!  To what I am thinking and feeling..I am fully alive and no longer on auto-pilot.

Right now I am feeling like a lonely, little girl desiring more time with my Oma to laugh with.  My grandmother and I were more like sisters, sharing a room for 18 years.

I decide to try to “sit” once again. I am still crying and imagining I am at the foot of the cross, pleading to my deceased Oma and Jesus to give me comfort.  Now I am saying, “I just want someone to laugh with. All I’ve ever wanted all those desperate times I forced relationships — boyfriends and girlfriends. God made me so serious. I just want someone to laugh with.”

I begin praying– show me new ways to serve. How do you want me to serve and self-empty?  Kenosis:  I love that word.

More kenosis…yes...more of YOU, less of me.

Then I am transported to utter emptiness, connection to ALL and a stillness beyond understanding. The crown of my head feels open and as if the contents are being drawn upward. Then there are bands of energy-like chords connecting me to something above. I sit in awe to the Presence.
I hear

  • That which you are seeking is seeking YOU
  • I am you and you are me
  • Stay….Rest
  • Yours are His hands, feet and heart
  • You will continue to be used well…Trust
Once in this place of deep, abiding grace I feel complete. There is nothing I need. I can barely sense where I end and everything else begins. 
Inhaling I expand. 
Exhaling I am ready.

I return to my laptop and check email and Facebook.  Here is an opportunity to serve:  Trans4m network event in DC this April.  I  sign-up as a volunteer and can attend for a very reasonable price.  Within minutes I hear from the administrator, ‘How would you like to serve?  Would you enjoy teaching yoga?’

Am I on Candid Camera?
I am laughing at the beauty of this opportunity.  My Oma and I used to watch that show and laugh till we cried.  My mind is blown open for the second time in an hour—- this is yet another occasion to come my way in 2 days to teach yoga in our Capital City.  Less than a week before I had put out into our benevolent universe my desire to teach healing mindfulness practices specifically to Congress after praying to be a part of the solution and not the problem.  Here are two steps in that direction.

Later in the day I am reading Jim Palmer’s daily blog, “Imagine yourself walking in that Garden, an atmosphere where there is only harmony, wholeness, and oneness. Feel it deep within you. Know it to be real in your deepest awareness and gut feelings. That reality runs through us all. That reality within us will save us and this world forever if we will turn toward it and lift it up.”

If this anawim (divine nobody) can have these profound experiences of bliss and one-ness with our creator, ANYBODY can!!!  Palmer is challenging us to lift it up out into the world.

I was sent this platform to share how one ordinary mom in New Jersey experiences daily challenges raising two teens, feeling loneliness and grief and then finds meaning, connection, love and opportunities for service. Yes, I have tools to share that bring reconciliation to the broken parts and I do believe my Oma is helping send me to DC to share them.  Happy tears.