Saturday, July 7, 2012


It is officially summer. Kripalu has switched over to its summer schedule; classes are happening in the airy white tent outside; the building is buzzing with energy and heat and programs (and the occasional fire alarm); and, the bugs have transitioned from tiny mosquitoes to insistent and persistent, head-loving horse flies. The flowers are changing too; the soft whites and yellows that permeated the landscape are subtly shifting to lavenders, golds, browns, and maroons, petals large and elaborate. Yesterday, I sat under a tree and watched waves of heat climbing up out of the hot, humid grass and infusing the air with the scent of hot, happy earth. The greens are changing, being born now out of a moist richness that didn't exist a few weeks ago. Everything is new. Again.

How can we find stillness within movement? Is it really as simple as remaining connected to the breath?

This past week marked the half-way point of my time of service here, and a piece of my mind is working like crazy to erect markers of meaning, to forcibly interject its narrative atop my experience, and to protect me from the inevitable pain of leaving.

The thing is, I don't need to be protected. I can feel this, this mourning that mounts like a purple, cresting wave in my left shoulder, the shortening of my breath, the earthy pebbles that scatter themselves throughout my chest. These sensations - staying with them on their journey - leave the label "pain" churning in their wake, and I am awed by the chance to be with myself. Rumi said that "everything in the universe is within you." Bob Marley put it: "man is a universe within himself."

Could I live a life that marvels at the pain and joy with the same reverence I hold for the sweet transition from spring to summer? Every breath, everything is new. Again.

Monday, June 25, 2012


In my Embodied Meditation program this past weekend, I became very interested in the way that words and stories limit or halt the experience of my body in yoga and movement. Our teacher, Bobbie Ellis, asked us to move deep inside our bodies, allowing the sensations space and time to unfold. It was harder than I expected to release the judgment, the conclusions that pounded up against the door of my consciousness: "Your hip's sore because of the hike yesterday." "You're too full. You shouldn't have had that scone." The stories poured in faster than I had time to process them, each abruptly halting tinglings of sensations, reductive and dismissive, or perhaps interesting and lovely - but completely disconnected from my actual experience. A cosmos of experience in my body, shrunk down to an imposed and rigid cast, mindlessly flung atop it.

It's hard for me, with my immense love for words, to imagine them as villains. And so I seek to imagine a new way of being. One that's expansive, with enough room for all the layers of wisdom inside my body, blossoming out love and intelligence and health, space for the mind to be quiet and rest. I imagine words might just find a new home there, allowing dead symbols to sprout wings and horns, halos and antennae, dance with music and light and color, and breathe life again.

Today, as I tripped over language, working to express this desire to my friend, she smiled and said: "Oh, you mean art." I think I do.

Friday, June 22, 2012


I can't stop collaging. It's so damn soothing. My bunk bed is a tent filled with collages, essential oils and books. It's going to be strange to go back to actually having to maintain a space larger than my bunk bed, closet, and 5 foot space. Actually having to cook... I might stay here forever. Enjoy.

Thursday, June 21, 2012


I'm currently in program for my reiki master's training. It's such a gift, to be in a group of people that desire to be healed and to heal. Our teachers - Audrey Pearson (Devdasi) and James Pearson (Mohan) - went to Japan last year to study with a teacher from a lineage previously assumed to have disappeared, their secrecy was so effective. Their Prana-Tantra Reiki tradition is born out of that lineage.

It's fascinating to learn and experience the differences between the traditional Japanese and western-developed forms and ideas around reiki. It's amazing to imagine the courage exhibited by Madame Takada in bringing this healing to the United States at the end of WWII. It's exciting to consider the powerful ways this modality is being woven into peoples' lives and ways of being in the world.

There are a million more pieces to reflect upon, but for now, I'll content myself with sharing this nugget of insight from this morning's session:

- As you progress in your ability to your development towards peace and wisdom, don't use your heightened insight as a tool for flagellation when you aren't feeling or living in that way. Instead, your response to where you're at now becomes the place for practice. Imagine yourself as a young child, and work to show that same sense of loving compassion to yourself, wherever or however you show up.

* After this training, I will be certified to teach Reiki I, II, and master's level. I'm hoping to schedule these for the winter 2012-2013. I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, May 27, 2012


Things change when there's nowhere to retreat to, no place to back up inside of and clean yourself off. People don't get much of a chance to pretty themselves up here, emotionally. Every day, you work, eat, live, and sleep in community. You delve into the joy and pain and confusion of practice, surrounded by, and held in the space of intentional community. The edge of that, the sharp corners and grace-filled embraces, has forever changed how I think of yoga.
The other night, I heard a quote: "9 out of 10 people quit yoga, because it's working." I've known that yoga shifts paradigms; it has to. If one is burning away illusions, and truly connecting to one's true soul self, the day-to-day of life is not going to harmoniously and effortlessly flow. There is going to be struggle and pain; transformation is powerful. The piece I never really dug into during my sweet imaginings was how - exactly - this might look with other people in my life, every one of them wholeheartedly engaged in their own struggle and joy-filled journeys.
It's hard and messy, scary and confusing. It's also precious and healing, and has animated my hopefulness around how a journey inward can radiate light out into the world. Brene Brown has said that one "cannot selectively numb experience." In an attempt to blunt the edges of painful sensation, we've cooled our reception to joy as well.  Perhaps there is another way, a way we can learn to breathe it all in. Together.

Truth's Illumination - by Danna Faulds
One glowing flame can
light a hundred candles,
and then a hundred times
a hundred more. I pray to
be such a flame, my illusions
giving fuel to what is real.

Light recognizes light,
and leaps to meet it.
May this sweet contagion
increase until light prevails,
and we all live in the
glow of truth’s illumination.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


Tonight, after dinner, I ran down the green grass hill, beside the labyrinth whose flowers are becoming more extravagant every day, and to the path towards the lake. Beside the water, the light switched to the mystical, just-before-dusk lightness that reflects unexpected colors in the bark of white pine trees, makes reflections feel profound and romantic, and drenches everything with a special clarity of gratitude.

This morning, Micah (our volunteer coordinator) taught a pranayama workshop. In his discussion around breath work, he emphasized the spiritual and profound impact of intentionally concentrating on, and using, the breath. One of the participants in the workshop (who identified herself as a principal) shared that she never begins a meeting with fighting students until they all take 3 cleansing breaths together. My eyes filled with tears, just imagining the impact of this knowledge on students, on teachers, on a system that is so structured around reaction, fear, and struggle. What if all of us had a little bit of space around us? Space to breathe and notice? Space to choose.

Micah likened our journey on this earth as the moment a wave crests up high enough to launch tiny droplets of water into the air. Imagining ourselves as these droplets, crying out "Woo hoo! This is me!" Individuals. Yoga, he said, the arrival point of the practice, the eight limbs, the breath work, and meditation, is the opportunity to remember who we truly are. Even in droplet form, distinct, hurdling through the air, we get the chance to remember that we are truly at home in the infinite ocean. Home.

Wove (a poem)

Willfull willing weaving wove. One religion broken, torn. Heart asunder. Eyes aghast. Time it plunders, so so fast. A tiny flower. A billboard crass. The final hours. The days relax. The soft of summer. Sunshine like grass. Afraid no longer. No thing to ask.

How could conversations move if fear were not inside? How could I live out my song if I didn't have to try?

My heart it aches for deep-down blues. Summer sunny. This I choose. I wrap my love in fire, water, earth. I plant it deep and pray for birth. And then I trust, dance upon the site. I trust perfection, that all is right.

And when the fear, that frantic puppy, hops on my leg, I'll smile real sweet and pat its head. There is nothing that I have to fear, not even fear itself. It strolls in for a reason, takes good care of itself. But my gait is lovely, and my legs are strong. I can walk this mystery trail without taking fear along.

The clouds like lions, barrel down on me. I breathe in this day, and how I feel I so free. And all the meaning, regret and loss, I tied up so tightly, I can lightly toss. And rolling down this field, green like I've never seen. The ball unravels, symbols pouring out like dreams.

Skipping, lightly, laughing, home. Remember, finally, I've never been alone. And a heart so open, and with eyes so free, I'm going to walk through fire, and it won't touch me. I'm gonna sing like purple. I'm gonna glide through pain. I'm gonna dance in circles. I'll never cower again.

This freedom, like a flame, just catching on a twig. Then a miracle, it happens. It gets picked up by the wind. And the fire starts expanding, creating its own song. And the pieces keep it burning, and they gladly sing along.

Heat builds. Winds change. Hearts burn. Nothing stays the same. So, with light feet and tiny bag, I'm gonna strut through this world, and I'm gonna do it glad. Glad for all the struggles, the pain that made me strong, the questions that kept me growing, the beauty that made me long (for more). The heart that kept expanding, though unbearable it seemed. The cracks that let the light in, the water that nourished the dream. The words that wrapped in meaning, all the starts and stretches of mind.

And underneath it all, deep pulsing of the earth. Ancient, aching longing. The same true song is heard.