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.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


I've arrived. At one of the most beautiful, extraordinary and intentional places I've ever been. The woods, the lake, the people are amazing. I am part of a 35 person volunteer group that arrived yesterday to join the 30 returning volunteers. The last two days have been a blur, filled with information, groundings, stories, people that I feel already a part of. Today we received our seva (service) positions, and I'll be working within the marketing department over the next 4 months.

There is so much more to say, but it is time to sleep. Happy last note: my suitcase arrived here during the night.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


I got optimistic last night, at 2 in the morning, suitcase groaning at its capacity. I convinced myself that the person who checked me in at the airport would be kind and generous with regards to luggage weight requirements. I tossed a reusable grocery bag into my suitcase's side pocket, just in case my plan didn't materialize.

My plan didn't materialize.

At 4:15 am, I became that person at the airport who holds up the line, draining their suitcase of its heaviest inhabitants. I spent the next two flights - and a vigorous jaunt through the Chicago airport - hauling a thin, bulging sack filled with 25 pounds of books, pants, and shoes. I spent a majority of my travel time praying that my bag wouldn't rip or explode out of the overhead storage compartment.

I made it to Albany with no incident, outside that of a throbbing back. Marveling at the ingenuity of wheels on suitcases, I arrived at baggage claim. My suitcase is still in Chicago. Luckily, I have a bagful of stuff to get me through the next few days.