done tricking you, the reader, my friend on the other side of this screen
what i say, experience, share makes little difference in your life
it is what you say, experience and share
you must be the one who rises up in your agency
you are the only one you need to be in integrity for
you are the only one you need to look at in that morning mirror
and say-- well done good & faithful servant
only you can live a life that recognizes your inherent value
yes, you are always being transfigured, becoming more of who the Divine created you to be
BUT...more importantly, GOD announced
when you cheated,
SHE said ***YOU are MINE***
when you had that angry outburst,
HE whispered ****come closer****
when you ran far away or got lost
somehow you have become a foreign traveller in your own being
somehow you abandoned the idea of returning home to yourself
because you feared
there was no one there with the
LIGHT left on for you
Hear the you who desires all the foodstuff, all the yummy drinks?
See her, love her-- she's the youngest one inside, still frightened she'll starve and be no more
Hear the you hoarding all the shiny things, all the green stuff? See her, love her-- she's barely walking now, very unsteady on her feet
Hear the you shouting WHO AM I???
See her, love her-- she's asking the most valid questions of all
Hear the you daring to love the ones who will break her heart?
See her, love her-- she's so brave and vulnerable
She's growing up into quite a lady
Hear the you trying out her voice?
speaking truth in love...speaking truth in anger
speaking, writing, shouting, whispering, mumbling
See her, love her-- she's not sure you are listening
She's pretty convinced NO ONE is
Hear the you intuiting her life?
Imagining her connecting to God, the rocks crying out, the trees waving at her, applauding her goodness
See her, love her-- she's learning a new language now
deciphering her body's tension, her tears, her goosebumps
Hear the you answering the great call?
Love is guiding her, the river is flowing through her
some days she's sure she's drowning
others, she's floating and overcome with wonder
a prophet for our age
for all to join in this kingdom
of heaven coming down
yoked herself to a tree shaped into
an upright beast.
tear-soaked teeth (some rotted)
haltingly at first
on the notes
a recognizable melody
from deep within
the creature's chambers
her heartbeat echoed truth
its what she was called to
bring back home
to the natives
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.
I spent Holy Saturday at the Philadelphia FDC 3South floor with 12 incarcerated women attending a 2-day Heart to Heart retreat. I was there to share the gift of yoga and meditation. The women really appreciate our visits and openly express their desire to learn.
Our last exercise was an eye-gazing and I was partnered with Smoke, an African American woman of about 35. Smoke smiled a lot and agreed that she was willing to try it but admitted it made her nervous to stare into a stranger’s eyes for a total of 6 minutes. I looked forward to it immensely- you hear how the eyes are the windows to the soul and what I have seen each of the prior 3 times is infinite love.
During the first 2 minutes we were instructed to repeat to ourselves ‘I, just like you, have experienced pain, grief and fear’. Smoke didn’t seem to have too difficult of a time focusing and we both had tears prick our eyes as at once we knew the other had certainly experienced these human emotions. Her body continued to move however, as she crossed her arms over her chest, pulling her arms into her gray T-shirt. I realized she was trying to keep warm while I had a North Face jacket on.
The second 2 minutes we were to repeat ‘I, just like you have experienced joy, love and peace’. This time Smoke nervously laughed a lot which made me laugh. She couldn’t keep our gaze going for very long and fidgeted in her shirt some more.
Finally, as we took a short break before round 3, I got up and put my jacket around Smoke’s shoulders. She vehemently resisted and tried to take it off but I insisted that she wear it for the last round and warm-up. It wasn’t a big deal— to me. We returned to our silent gazing and repeated in our minds ‘I just like you have dreams and aspirations for myself and my loved ones’. I just remember thinking, you have such a warm, inviting smile Smoke. I sure hope you see how beautiful you are when you look in my eyes.
We briefly circled up before departing for a few insights on the exercise. Smoke shared that she enjoyed it very much and that she could see right down to my very goodness. She repeated that she knew for certain that I was very, very good inside. Hearing this made my heart sing because I believe I was just a mirror for this brave woman. I came home and penned this poem for her.
Priestess, when did you lose your Head Dress?
beloved i have come to remind you of your internal compass, guiding you toward goodness. you speak of guilt and shame, temptation and unruly thoughts.
as a child, one never imagines she will end up behind bars, locked away from society— a common criminal. you are someone’s daughter. if your earthly parents did not know better to tell you of your royal bloodline, it should be my honor.
there is no past. there is no future. just here and now where you make your peace, in this body you very well may abhor.
i have crept into the wilderness of your heart whenthe darkness returned to breatheyou into newness of life. with each exhale, I, with a force and power heretofore unknown to you, release you from the ties that bind. emptying the trashy contents of your mind.
i have come prepared to speak words of SURETY and CERTAINTY. without a doubt, you once walked and talked like no other, the natural one. you did not pose, nor attempt to impress, attracting that devil named greed.
once you robustly sang lyricsof a long-forgotten song in a soap shop, smelling the fragrance of the sandalwood (love) and the rose(hate), and scrunching up your nose to show exactly what you thought.
as you lay sobbing and crumpled like a page torn our of a diary, mumbling abouthaving lost something, not sure exactly what or where, in a hushed tone i say i see through your temporary breakdown and remind you that a bad day for the ego is a celebration of the soul. i shall singleonard cohen’s infamous tune about cracks and light and shattering and all things working toward the highest good, if only you can surrender to the pain. this pain– name it.
it desires freedom!!! exhale! let it go..
i will you draw you into the nonjudgmental space and capture the cruciformjuxtapositon of good and evil. where gray pervades and paints broad strokes until the time comes to step back into the light, out of darkness where dirty underground creatures dwell .
your birthright is one of phoenix and pegasus, star, ash, flame and all things vivid and taking flight.
refusing to classify the profane as wrong
preferringcrow-speak over hummingbird
prison over church
its an upside down and backwards proposition .
replete with lullabys and magic
because the darkness will revisit
and you will likely forget for a while .
so gaze into my soul as i whisper
‘you are a priestess.’
press onward with purity of devotion
beyond the cheating heart
and spiritual bankruptcy.
you are clothed in moonbeams
and crowned in angelic halo.
you cannot feel
the stardust in your veins so
i hold up a mirror that unveils its sparkle.
an invitation: place your hands over your heart
THIS IS THE PLACE WHERE TRUTH LIVES!!
hello self that desires to FEEL– ALIVE, PASSION, Connection…these are not WRONG!!
my words spin out across space + time reaching into your heart and shaking it — wake up!! you are still BEATING.
if i’m not a mirror i should drain my pen.
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.
- playing victim
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 !!!!
The Body of Christ has a missing limb
multiply my eyes
so that i might glimpse all their glorious +
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
the body of christ
revealed in mud--
in holy flame
cooled only by
a cyclone of
transforming ashen wreckage
the body of Christ has a missing limb
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
stigmata-wound bruised for my iniquities
the body of christ
has a missing limb
one breath separates
in the hollows
you are the missing
Deep calls unto Deep
found peace on my board
that sacred space meant to carry both ego and spirit
surfing a life well-lived
just might prove that our humanity is not
the opposite of our divinity but the manifestation of it!
sensing we all might just be royalty after-all
confident in my mission
in my uniqueness
like a drop of water in the ocean
I am at once an individual
and yet complete and integrated with the whole
I am one with the rolling deep
because deep calls unto deep you know
and the mystery that is profoundly curling in on itself is
undulating out a rhythm in a cadence called Life
surrender to it
the ultimate in revelatory freedom
listening to the voice of tension
by anita brown
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!!
I have spoke with the tongue of angels
I have held the hand of a devil
Wisdom from U2
Last night my loving husband of 22 years spoke truth to my heart. And it hurt like HELL. But apparently was exactly what I needed to hear from the person who loves me most.
"I don't understand where this self-loathing comes from. You used to be so confident in your intelligence. I think for some reason, you don't feel worthy of how very smart you are."
Tears sprang to my eyes because he had hit the nail on the head. And I actually thought I had made so much progress on my healing path, addressing my abandonment wound over the past two years. A memory of the words that sprang from my heart in meditation shouted "There is no EFFIN path! There is only HERE and NOW. Show up in the way that I have taught you. With compassion and LOVE for yourSELF, without judgment. Period." Yep...God said "EFFIN".
Lord knows, I don't curse.
My children had felt their mother’s sense of unfulfilled, unrealized potential, and the emptiness inside that she occasionally tried to fill with wine, shopping, or gossip. Yet I knew that she hadn’t found the truth that she was looking for. All the while 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!
We much prefer joy over sadness and yet they are inextricably related. I have awoken with anxiety each morning for months now. The challenge for me was to trust that a daily crying/meditation practice was necessary to simply BE ME, the natural one. Then one day in the shower, it hit me-- the anxiety is a gift. My body's natural intelligence was relaying a need to release and connect through centering prayer. I have begun each day in the presence of the LIVING GOD.
I used to stuff the negative emotions down, hoping they would disappear. But energy never just evaporates. It settles into the body and for me manifested as infertility, IBS, depression, PMDD, loss of 4 teeth, and insomnia. But, it can only be shifted and transformed, with awareness and mindfulness practices like yoga. I am grateful to share that I have NEVER been healthier and no longer suffer from any of these physical conditions.
I have come to realize that denying my wounds and faults has kept me from being my authentic self; that the quest is full of 'On my knees in humility' moments that can turn into days. Just last month I failed my yoga teacher training written exam. Not once, but TWICE!! Staying with the question, not needing an answer just yet, I waited. After a few days I recognized a disconnect:
For 4 years I had put off yoga teacher training out of fear around failing the exam. All my prior scholastic and career successes- 5th in my HS graduating class, finance degree and 12 years in commercial banking had been erased while I stayed home, raising our now teenagers. I didn't "feel" smart any longer and my mind convinced me I should play very small. Maybe you can relate?
During the training my most frequent prayer had been for God to create in me a humble teacher. How did I think She was going to accomplish this??
All kindling for the internal fire of transformation. So in the stillness of my practice, I continued to surrender.
The " I am not good enough" voice in the head is that of a frightened little girl. I acknowledge it simply as resistance to change, a fear of losing my center—— "Authentic competence has arisen" said the deeper, truer voice and so I begin....to dare to be brilliant and wild.
I would like to share this "dark" poem I penned after learning of my failure on 11/1, All Souls Day, after 7 months of hard work and dedication to the practice I love.
Hallowing the Day of the Dead
bounce off dingy, urine-scented walls.
spiders scrutinize and hold vigil,
as I lie prone.
bowels twist like fishtail braid.
darkness arriving to shroud and
eclipse my soul.
resolutely, the will
shame mostly, demands
anger cloaked in blame
disguised and unrecognizable.
corner of veil lifts.
malevolent, restless ones threaten insemination.
barrenness echoes a prayer:
"impregnate from the enchanted souls lying beneath the earth!"
YOU, the Christ!
Enter and shed eternal light.
I choose to carry your salvation
In all its Crowning glory.
I choose resurrection and hope.
I choose love.
My Truth and Peace lie in the shadows, the interplay between light and dark, joy and solemnity. I heard in my spirt on my mat a few days later, "Meet Grace". I took that to mean I was being re-birthed with a new name. God sure answers prayers. I think She especially likes to grant the ones that begin with
fraught with peace
clarity and confusion
share gray matter space
the fibers marry
body sways and rocks
through cerulean gloom
like a ballerina on tiptoe
above the rising pain
releasing the world's anguish
one angry fist
one praise hand at a time
the heart speaks:
imperceptibly at first
lifts the dense
fog of mourn
immobility and helplessness
spiral into backbone
erect and courageous
like a monarch being beckoned
to life's garden
boldly, colorfully demonstrating
IT as all Bliss
a good friday indeed
why did you come?
if not to pierce and taste
the flesh bread of life
allowing it to
the nooks and crannies
pressed from olive sweet,
of your own
surrender to the mystery
of digesting your discomfort
a moveable feast
ordering reverence off life's menu
savoring its sacred sweetness
the invisible layers of grief,
we've been spoon-fed lies
the manna is hidden,
we are anorexic,
desirous of the ambrosial nectar.
getting tipsy on our own
him who makes mercy wine
from arrogant tears
clear the haze from your eyes
scrape disbelief from your tongue
pass and drink