Blessings of love, and blessings of sumptuous light. The first of February was, in the calendar of old, the celebration of Bride, the goddess of the light, whose smouldering heart-fire burns in the dark of winter, as we begin our turn towards Spring- increased light and warmer climes. That fire is creative and romantic, as evidenced by the proximity to Valentine’s Day – but it also brightens focus and brings clarity, burning away those obfuscations that prevent us from knowing who we truly are and what we are authentically about – those occlusions that keep us from interacting – loving, sharing, expressing, receiving – from that centered place.
I hope that this message finds you well at this extraordinary moment in time. I hope it finds you well – despite the pre-holiday rush and all the madness that can ensue; and it is extraordinary, just like every other moment in time – because you are here, and it’s a miracle to be alive, and so much more is possible now than ever before. Extraordinary because 2012 was, as I have often written here in this newsletter – such a wild ride!
Last night I addressed a stellar collective of dedicated students in the East End on the subject of using our yoga practice for down-regulating the nervous system and staying grounded this time of year. Because now more than any other time of year – we get ungrounded. We spend the whole month working harder, staying up later, eating less optimal foods, attending less yoga class, and drinking more alcohol than we do at possibly any other time of the year – and then at the end of the month, once our nervous systems are good and jangled, and we are in a state of exhausted hyper-arousal…
then what do most of us do?
We go and spend a few quiet days, sometimes in remote settings, with the most triggering people in our lives.
Of course, many of us do have wonderful relationships with our family, and the holidays are indeed a very nourishing time. I do wish to honour, however, that for many people, this season brings up some sad memories; for folks (like me) who come from a divorced family of origin, or folks who have divorced families themselves – for people who always have felt out of step with their family, or who don’t see their families very often – or who might be estranged from their families… this can be a high stress period of time. Even when the familial relationships are fairly light-hearted and fun, or feel ok on the surface – sometimes inside, possibly on a more subtle level, we have a whole emotional tide rising that we only experience when we are in their company. And for parents raising young families, just the stress of providing the under-tree surprises can be an added challenge. Regardless of our personal story – the winter holidays can be freighted emotionally in many ways.
Saliently, I was speaking to my outstanding therapist, who is also spiritually awake, on the subject of speed of awakening process. I was recalling how another of my teachers, Hareesh Wallis, had taught me that the medieval texts of the nondual Shaiva Tantra tradition state that the awakening process, once begun, provided you do the practices, should not take more than a handful of years on the outside. ‘Oh, sure,’ my therapist said, ‘They did say that in those days.’
‘Huh!’, I started in surprise, ‘So you think that human consciousness has become denser or more convoluted through the ages?’.
‘Oh, no,’ he replied in his characteristically subtle tone, ‘Consciousness is not more convoluted. But the human nervous system is.’ (Italics mine)
Hasn’t that just opened an interesting line of thinking for me? And it’s obvious, really – because, of course, so much of what we do in the yoga room is geared to the down-regulation of the nervous system. The conscious ability to down-regulate your own hyper-activated nervous system at any moment is both the first step and, from this perspective on awakening, a key goal of expanding into the fullness of your true Self. Here’s the challenge: on top of all the plain old-fashioned karma (which is one yogic way of talking about that family stuff that gets kicked up at Christmastime), at this moment in time, we have the further hyper-stimulatory effects of the Information Age embedded in there.
This week, I am reminding people of the solace of the full, steady breath, and the amazing fact that the ground is always under us, resourcing us, even at our most challenging moments. I am encouraging people to take the radical step, if they get triggered, of going into another room and trying to lengthen the hip flexor muscles and take a few deep breaths. (think pigeon thigh stretches, lunges with the back inner thigh lifted high and a big back waistline breath, or laying on your back, interlacing fingers around your thigh bone, and pressing that thigh bone into your hands).
And I am offering a loving remembrance to those in our community for whom this time of year brings back challenging memories and uncomfortable feelings. I know that the yoga practice, and other great healing modalities I have learned, offer radical and highly effective ways to shift even the most entrenched emotional holding, and completely re-pattern the beleaguered nervous system. And I also know that, as I often like to say, it ain’t over ’til it’s over. Stuff comes up until it is complete, and sometimes, even the seasoned practitioner finds herself face to face with an old demon we thought had long taken leave of our inner world.
Whatever comes up this Christmas, may you continually move into that beautiful, unshakeable centre of yours. May you know that solid ground under your feet mirrors the very ground of your own awareness; unshakeable, ever-present, never-changing.
I am working on 2013 intentions. Are you?
I am excited about upcoming offerings. I hope you can come and play with me.
Please read on for information on New Year’s Day events, upcoming Shakti Shops, Body Rolling workshops, the Practices of Freedom and Wellbeing Immersion, and a new amazing healing circle to be held in my home…
I am, as always, sending you great love. Please let me know how you are doing – what the holidays mean for you; how you resource yourself at this time… I love to hear from you.
With Deep Respect,
Photo by Ruben Wu | http://www.mysticmamma.com
Hello Dear One,
I hope that this message finds you delighted in this moment in time, soaring high on spirited wings! And if I don’t meet you in that state – if you feel weird or or busy or sad or angry or tired or anything else – then I greet you with love. However you show up, I greet you with love.
Standing outside the front door of her Hollywood apartment, my eyes full of her great height propping open the screen door, I offered Tara the following compliment:
that a class with her was as satisfying for me as sinking my teeth into a good essay. Now, for her at the time, I suspect this rang as somewhat oblique praise. But for me – for whom the essay has both solved the problem of not having enough time for my great pleasure in reading, and sated my pressing desire for a certain kind of company, this is the highest acclaim.
Photo by Amanda Churchian | http://www.mysticmamma.com
My Dear Ones,
So there I was, feeling contracted. Someone I love was saying something that I didn’t like, that I didn’t want to hear. I didn’t feel appreciated; I felt as though what was true for me was not okay. Some time went by – it was the next day. I thought maybe some time would ease things. And again, I was stonewalled, doubted, felt I was seen in the worst light. You know that feeling inside when it’s like you just start to clam up from the inside out? The world seems to get smaller! And suddenly, in the midst of it, I could hear the pain in this person’s voice. I sensed the weightiness of his contraction, his feelings. And something inside me let go. I stopped resisting the movement of energy between us that felt so sticky. I let go of my own inner challenge, started to feel into more of what was happening, and everything expanded. Whatever the outcome, I was ready to follow the flow of what was actually going on – to be an anusarin. Into that space, love began to flow. That energy formed into words of understanding, and a pattern of willingness. My identification with the ‘problem’ had dissolved, and I was free again, beyond the realm of the conceptual, beyond the ideas about what was going on, and right into the flow of reality as it was unfolding. When the thoughts started to arise again, they were rich with revelation.
Phew! What a winter, eh? Welcome, glorious sun!
Phew, I should say, what a deep shadowy pass I have moved through this winter. Of course, those of us who are more connected to the global Anusara community have been doing a great deal of processing about the seismic shifts in participation, leadership, and structure of the community. So much of the shadow, the unconsidered, that which sits below conscious awareness, has been opened and lived out and sifted through. And for me, not just in Anusara community. In many relationships, the shadow has arisen to be lived and met and seen and felt. I have opened to darker energies in myself, darker feelings, that I have not seen or felt for some time.
It is a great pleasure to be back from the Peruvian Amazon and teaching here in London this winter.
It is one of those beautiful affirmations of the rightness and resonance of my path to return from ‘paradise’ and feel invigorated and so delighted to share my experiences here in community, rather than bummed out to be returning to such a chilly clime. I have loved sharing the plenitude of teachings I received from the shamans, fellow participants, and spirit medicines, and, indeed, am grateful for the space of reflection and integration that my teaching practice has offered since my return.
Here I am, ensconced in the loving embrace of my family, just off the Chesapeake in Maryland. I am here to celebrate my very favourite holiday with some of my favourite people: Thanksgiving with my clan.
When contemplating what to share in this newsletter, I was rather intimidated. Indeed, what can I say about gratitude that has not been said before, and with greater eloquence? Further, this is the time of year – possibly the only time – when I completely let go, and relax. Around my family, I feel so fulfilled, and so at home, that I find it difficult to motivate myself to the space of practice and contemplation – the space where I spend the rest of the year and most of my time hanging out.
Last night a journalist rang me, and told me some startling breaking news – hold onto your seat, guys:
The Top Cause of Days Off Work in the UK is Stress.
I know! Shocking! (Yes, this is sarcasm – does it read in print?)
- October 2017
- January 2017
- June 2016
- March 2016
- January 2016
- December 2015
- November 2015
- August 2015
- May 2015
- March 2015
- January 2015
- December 2014
- August 2014
- June 2014
- November 2013
- May 2013
- February 2013
- December 2012
- October 2012
- July 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- December 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- January 2011
- November 2010
- October 2010