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To Gather: An Invitation for Saturday, December 21st


The holiday season is glittery, shiny, sparkly and oh so fast. My children are vibrating. Sometimes, I feel their massive joy overpowering my small inner shell of a body. They are a force to be reckoned with.For that, I am grateful.
And sometimes annoyed as well.
Ah, to be human.

I also know another side of the holidays. I know that we can get swept away on the current of Doing and lose touch with the essence of its stillness. Of its purity.

And I know yet another side of the holidays. I know that we can freeze in the icy reach of Grief. The overwhelming fullness of the season can also starkly contrast that which is empty. That which will never be filled by Doing or bright lights or raucous sounds. That which has passed and will never return in precisely the same way again.

And for all of it, I am grateful.

I know that there are many who do not wish to think of the darker side of the holidays. The shadow side of grief that sits in the silence with us as we stare at the fingers of branches costumed in the glow of lights. But I seem to consistently choose a different way. And in doing so, I wonder once more.. what if… what if there is room for it all?

I am honored and humbled that the path of my work, my training and my simple everyday life has allowed me to cross paths with an array of stunning souls. People who are willing to be with the hard stuff – and the joy – all in a first meeting. My recent trip to Boulder reminded me of this great Grace of my life. From students and recent graduates working the B&B at which I stayed, to the guests who sat at the breakfast table with me, to my training time with a group of shining and inquisitive humans, to my Uber rides with curious beautiful aching people, I was reminded of the unending shower of souls in which I am blessed.

For this season of giving, I would be honored if you would join me and any number of people whom I’ve crossed paths with over the years.

Wherever you may be, time zone or geography, I invite you – and anyone else in desire of community – to join me:

Saturday, December 21st
1:30-3:00pm Eastern Time
Remembering: From Grief to Gratitude
A Virtual Practice & Share Session
Link will open 15 minutes prior to start time:
https://zoom.us/j/9665363832

Let’s invite what can feel like the massive dragon of our human experience – joy, grief, and everything in between – into the expansive space of the virtual world. A space that might just be perfectly sized in its immensity to meet our collective experience.We will begin our time with a short exploratory yoga and movement practice around the cycles of contraction and expansion. Following the practice, all will have the opportunity to reflect upon their grief in whatever way desired – aloud or silent or not at all – and we will hold it  in a container so much larger than our singular all alone bodies. We will close our time with a short meditation.

There is no charge for this gathering. But I encourage you to honor your own grief by – if available to you – donating to a charity of your choice. If you are able, offer the kindness of giving to that which asks for your love and attention.

RSVPs are greatly appreciated as I’ll send out a reminder and a few suggestions on how to setup for the movement portion of our time together. But if you don’t want to RSVP, and you still desire to come, please know that we desire you to be there. RSVP or not, deciding now or at the 11th hour, you are welcome.

Join me and you and others just like us – humans who feel joy and grief and every color that comes with them both. Humans who are complex and flawed and wonderful and confused. Humans who are perfect in their imperfection.

Just like me. Just like you. Just like us.

I am grateful for you this holiday season. I am grateful for all of us navigating this messy, beautiful and so very extraordinary life.

May we hold space for one another this season.
And whatever it may offer as our gifts.

See you soon,
Rachel

Crunch

I sit here in a Bed & Breakfast in Boulder, Colorado. I am far from my husband and children. Far from my safety and comfort of friends and home and office and dear clients. And I feel that in my heart as it shivers and crunches over the unknown training to come. I’ve done thousands of hours of in-person group training over the course of my yoga and yoga therapy training. And yet still… still. I return to this place on the spiral.

I traveled. I arrived. I am here. Kind of… Because I’m not fully here. I’m also waiting for the next thing. Back and forth. Here and next. I jump forward and back. Nope… it’s not a jump. It’s a lurching. Definitely more of a lurch for now.

Closest to the surface of this fear and unsettledness, I am scared of seeing the very people that I’ve felt safest with. The very people from whom I’ve learned acceptance. And yet once again, back with the same people, I am embarrassed to be me. Ashamed that I’m not more “part of things.” Hidden in the wings and not wanting to emerge. Yet also making that wrong.

My tricky and oh so beautiful mind. It knows what it needs but also fears that what it needs “isn’t right” or “isn’t normal.”

Miles down the road. And an old visitor.

Come in, old visitor. Come in.

Large groups frighten me. They expose me. They create my relative inferiority. Relative to others – maybe. But more so, relative to me at my best. At my clearest. Can I feel safe in them? I am sure that I can. I know that I have. What has learned can be over learned. Or alter-learned. I know that.

But what has been learned anew can also easily be forgotten if not practiced. And I have not practiced in 10 months. I have not practiced being in big, large, new groups. I have not practiced being exposed to others outside of my comfort zone. I have not practiced moving differently or thinking differently beyond one person – one very trusted person – watching me.

And it terrifies me. It saddens me. I let the tears roll. I do not wipe them away. May my heartbreak for me be welcome. May it fill me with the love that I need here.

I breathe.

And I wonder.

So why do I do it? Why am I here? Why did I come?

I came for the people. I came to be heart touched by these stunningly beautiful others.

That I remember. Clearly. From when I decided to do this way back in the spring.

But there is more. More that I had forgotten until now. Here. On the ground. Sitting in the unknown of tomorrow and next.

I came to remember what I’ve forgotten.
That I am safe beyond my known circle of home.
I came to remember what I’ve forgotten.
That I can be seen exactly as I am.
I came to remember what I’ve forgotten.
That I can be accepted exactly as I am.
I came to remember what I’ve forgotten.
That I can try new things. And screw up. And be perfectly imperfect.
I came to remember what I’ve forgotten.
That I haven’t truly forgotten.

I came to practice.

I am in practice.

May you hold yourself in compassion and love as you practice today. I will do the same. Returning over and over again. As many times as we leave. We return.

With you. As you are with me,
Rachel

Watching

I see her out the kitchen window nestled upon the pine straw. She is grey and soft with a hint of purple iridescence on her wing. It shimmers like mermaid scales in the falling rain. The mourning dove sits in pure stillness. And for that moment, she is our one focus of attention in this great big world.

My son in the nearby bay window alarms, “Mama, is that bird dead? No… wait. I just saw her blink!”

The grey, cool and rainy fall Saturday envelopes her. At first, I feel my trust in her. She is there, steady and still. As is my being in its empty and open. Simply present.

But then, “What if she is hurt?” John says.

Doubt quickly creeps in.
Is she there out of choice?
Is she actually injured?

My heart tightens and my throat grabs. I feel spiral and spin begin in my thoughts and chest for the maybe-possibly-could be suffering of this little being.

My kids spit out words of wound pitch and race car speed,
“She’s lifting her wing like it’s hurt!”
“She’s trying to fly!”

Panic builds in their soft hearts. I can hear the climbing of their voices and the thinning of their tone in partnership with the depth of their worry.

I bite.

“Let’s get something to cover her in this rain.” I say to my husband. I want to do something – anything – to alleviate this little one’s suffering.

Thoughts abound, “Should I call someone? Should we touch her? Will she try to get away if we go out to put a cover over her?”

The spin the spin the spin.

The turning and looking this way, that way, under, over, and all around for the right choice in the face of suffering.

My humanity.

I come out of my trance of wonder to focus on her again. I watch her lift a single wing. The tip stretches as far away from the soft mound of her body as possible. A gentle lean to the opposite side as she allows gravity to assist in her dance of counterbalance.

Her motion is Long. Slow. Spacious. Big. Beautiful. Gracious.

I feel a mix of sadness for her. Awe of her. Curiosity for her.

And then a gentle tap on my shoulder from my husband. He hands me his phone.

“Mourning doves sunbathe or rainbathe by lying on the ground or on a flat tree limb, leaning over, stretching one wing, and keeping this posture for up to twenty minutes.” (Wikipedia, 10/28/2019)

Ah – well, how interesting. How interesting is my initial trust in her. How interesting is my then crashing concern for her perfect instinct. How interesting is my desire to change and to fix that which I did not understand.

But she knew. She knew how to broaden, widen, cleanse and Be.

She was simply living her nature.

Just as I was living mine.

She is my teacher. I am her student.

Compassion for my child’s mind.
Compassion for my human mind.
Deep and big love for us both.

This Thursday, November 14th at 6:30pm, I’ll join my dear friend Susan Jackson and a small group of students to explore what compassion means for each of us – including the sometimes (or often) quandry of self-compassion. We would love to have you join this intimate and authentic gathering either in-person or by Zoom. RSVP to me at Rachel@PureResilienceYoga.com and I will send you details.

Stretch your wing over there. I’ll do the same over here,
Rachel

Share Session – Thursday, November 14th

My 6 year old Ruthie bobs at the surface of my awareness this week. A friend left their school very suddenly and Ruthie had no chance to say goodbye.

I am grateful for the presence of childhood as she retains her signature lightness at home flitting from thing to thing on twinkle toes and with the barely there brush of a joyful touch. And yet in the immediacy of her friend’s absence at school, there is weight aplenty. There are tears around lunchtime. There is overwhelm in Letterland prior to lunch. There are Big Things to Feel.

Even secondhand from her teacher, Ruthie’s suffering during these discrete periods is palpable to me as a mother. It vice grips around the thud of my heart.

Meanwhile, her awareness of the many layers at 6 years old is arresting. It expands my Being.

She says she feels sad when lunch approaches.
She says she feels afraid when the sadness moves in.
She says sadness feels like going down a hill in her belly.
She says afraid starts in her head and goes down down down.
When she misses her friend, she begins to think of how she misses her cousin.
Of how she misses her neighbors who have moved.

Ru knows loss.
We learn it early.
We learn it often.

Which is also how we learn the precious Now.

It is a package deal this impermanence thing of living. Cycle after cycle after cycle.
Have and have not. Love and loss. Empty and full.
It is a package deal.

My heart swells with compassion for sweet Ruthie. I wish I could change this discomfort. I wish I could fix it. I wish I could take it away.

My heart swells with compassion for me. I wish I could not worry for her. I wish I could fully trust the moment. I wish I could completely remember that this is her story and not mine.

Compassion for her.
Compassion for me.
Compassion for us.

Compassion is a practice of broadening our experience.

Let’s talk more about it.
Let’s talk about what compassion is.
Let’s talk about what compassion is not.
Let’s talk about our own experiences with compassion.
Let’s talk about our experiences with self-compassion.
Let’s talk about when it is easier and when it is trickier.
Let’s sit and share.

Join me and my dear friend and co-teacher, Susan Jackson, for our second Share Session of the fall. This time we will discuss, reflect, and spend some time in meditation on the topics of compassion and self-compassion. I’ll bring my white board so don’t be surprised if I scribble a model or two from the compassion research to support our group inquiry. (Thus please come with compassion for my white board handwriting – it is almost as good as my stick figures.)

When: Thursday, November 14th, 6:30-8:30pm
Where: Shine Studio in Cary (Address provided to those who RSVP)
What to bring: Yourself and a favorite tea to sip upon
How much: Suggested $5 donation to Shine Studio which the owner, Diana Taggart, is passing on to an amazing organization, 321 Coffee. What a brilliant example of compassion and self-compassion in 321 Coffee. Several of Diana’s yoga students work for 321 Coffee and the group is currently raising funds to create a permanent store front to add to their indoor location at the State Farmer’s Market in Raleigh.

Please RSVP to me at Rachel@PureResilienceYoga.com . There is limited space for this authentic gathering. We would be honored to have your voice and your presence.

That which we give space to can move.
Let’s give some space to compassion.

Take good care,
Rachel

Stay

I once wrote in a self reflection for my Yoga Therapy Certification program,

“It’s like when I talk (in a session), I could actually discover more in the silence.
And when I’m silent, I have something that really should be said.”

There is beauty here in the silence. There is soft current here in the float.

Be still now. Breathe. Listen. Feel.
The details await. Drink in the magic of Now.

With you,
Rachel

Shine On

It is just after 7:00 a.m. and 4 year old Nora knocks gently.

“Come in,” I say and she opens the door grinning widely. She takes a few small steps across my tiny master bedroom and “oofs” herself up onto the bed. She flops belly to belly on me and rests her chin on my bony chest.

Nora gazes at the candle flickering beside me on the table. A leftover remnant of the sacred time of my daily early morning alone-ness. She starts to giggle. I have no idea what she is laughing at. Or with. A secret she is privy to and I am not.

“The candle is silly. It is dancing,” she giggles some more from deep within her belly. “Can you make it dance more?”

I blow gently from my place in the bed a couple of feet away. This is a familiar game for us. We usually play it at the kitchen table with Thomas’ candle. And in this moment, we both wait as invisible air traverses the distance between us and the fuel of fire. And then, seconds later, a response. The flame bobs and weaves and responds to the slice in air.

“Does it always stay still?” she asks.

And then she is on to the next thing. Older brother busts in like a cop in the midst of a t.v. show drug bust. His loud overcomes our quiet and she moves onward. But I’m held in quiet watching. Watching her. Watching them. Marveling at their very existence. Marveling at their very fragility.

“Does it always stay still?” she had pondered.

I remember my journaling from the very same morning. From that sacred time of quiet before my house rises. From the early hours of the new day in which I find movement, stillness, breath and fresh words on the page. In that time, Nora’s question was already with me.

Natural light comes and goes. The moon waxes and wanes. Light expands and contracts. Leaving us in brightness to do. Trusting us in darkness to Be. Where we go in the dark is of our choice. To rest, settle, quiet down. To listen. To ride the waves of our Being into life’s quiet pulse. A place so much quieter than the hubbub of our man made daily. The darkness bears no evil. It bears the unseen inviting our trust. Our faith in the return of the light. Our faith in the light’s existence on the other side of the world even we don’t see it here in the blanket of night. Our trust in the pinpricks of starlight into the hollows of our soul. The shafts and dances of vibrant being that slither shine their way into the hidden crevices of our inner night. Of our outer night. One in the same. The heart beats boldly.

Yes, dear Nora. The light is steady. We move and bob and weave and go, but the light stays still. It is always there.

In awe of us,
Rachel

A Homecoming – 6 week yoga class

“Is he going to fall, Mom!?”
“Is he going to pee on us?”
“How does he stay up there?”

Probably not.
Maybe.
Trust.
And how do you all know it’s a He? My eyes tell me that powerhouse is probably a She.

Our family of five gazes up into the sky at an awe inspiring orangutan at the National Zoo in Washington, DC. She traverses the sky with all the time in the world. There is no time to rush. No one has sent her on this sojourn. Her climb and travels are of her own choosing. Her movement and pause are of her own volition.

“Huh…” wonders my husband quietly by my side. “Look at how she’s in her body. She isn’t puffing up her chest or scrunching her shoulders. She is so relaxed up there.”

Swami Greg is observant. And he’s right. She is beautiful in her ongoing dance between contraction and release, strength and flexibility, groundedness and surrender.

I smile as I flash in my mind’s eye to the end of a private session with any one of my magical clients. I ask my guaranteed question, “What do you feel?”

And the myriad of answers (all real things I have been told),
“Sturdy.”
“Soft.”
“Grounded.”
“Relaxed.”
“Strong.”
“Open.”
“My feet.”

This Orangutan knows steadiness. She knows how to balance contraction and release to create freedom. I catch my breath as she pauses, turns her body open toward the big sky and leans in. Her hands clasp just enough on the line above. Her toes curl no more than necessary on the line below. She leans forward into the air, she leans into her breath, she leans into her freedom that no one can take away from her. Her counterweight is perfection in its soft engagement behind her expansive chest.

She leans into her body. She trusts it. And in this moment, she is flying.

Just as we can too.

I haven’t taught an open group class in over three years. It feels like a homecoming of sorts to offer one. Details are below on a very special 6 week fall series class. Join me and let’s explore the freedom that your body has to offer through appropriate tension and appropriate release. Let’s explore along with our dear friend in the sky.

Take good care,
Rachel
—————

What: Therapeutic Yoga for the upper body: Movement, stillness and breath with Rachel Manetti, Certified Yoga Therapist

We will focus this series on tension in the neck, shoulders and upper back. (Those sneaky buggers.) Participants will complete a questionnaire in advance which will allow me to focus the class to particular areas of both class and functional need. (FYI, this is the gold of working with a Yoga Therapist. We are trained extensively to support you in the integration of yoga into your everyday so that your tools from class go far beyond just strengthening and stretching while on the mat.)

Where: Christ the King Lutheran Church, 600 Walnut Street, Cary

When: 9:30-10:45 a.m., on 6 consecutive Tuesdays,
October 8, 15, 22, 29, November 5 & 12

Who: Maximum of 12 students. Please bring 1 mat, 1 blanket, 1 strap (or belt) and 1 block.

How: Signup for full series required in advance. Space is limited. Please email me at Rachel@PureResilienceYoga.com to join this practice group.

How much: $120 for this customized class

Join me on Tuesday, October 1st

I didn’t write to you last week. And I’ve missed you for that reason. But I suppose my tendency – and purpose – is to dive in and to share. My intention in writing is to share me and to allow you to see a mirror of yourself. Not all of you. But parts of you. How you serve, how you save, how you blunder. My purpose in writing is to show you that none of it is shameful. All of it is human. All of it is opportunity.

But last week, I didn’t want to share. I wanted to hide. And hiding works too. It is as human as all of the rest of it.

The trick is, we must come out of hiding as well.

So, here I am.

Nice to see you out there. Nice to know that your eyes are there reading this as I tap away on the keyboard.

Writing is lovely for me (most of the time). Yet, there is nothing like being in the room with another person talking about the real stuff. There is nothing like being in the room with another person as they expand their awareness through the exploration of yoga poses, stillness, and their own breath. There is nothing like being in the room with another person as we learn from one another.

For that reason, I invite you to join me in-person on October 1st. Let’s talk about why I work in this way that I work. Let’s talk about how I work in this way that I work. Let’s talk about the intention of my writing. And let’s talk about whether any of those things are areas of interest for you.

As part of this gathering, we’ll talk about:

  • How yoga therapy differs from yoga.
  • How my experiences have landed me in the work that I do.
  • How all of my work with clients and students revolves around the cultivation of five key areas:
    • Gratitude
    • Compassion
    • Wisdom
    • Peace
    • Joy
  • How my private sessions work. And what the heck happens in them.
  • How my yoga teacher training goes beyond training people to be yoga teachers to offering them the chance to be more at home in themselves.
The date is Tuesday, October 1st.
The time is 6:00-8:00pm.
The location will be shared with those who rsvp.

If you can’t make it in-person but still wish to join, let me know and I’ll setup a video conference option to link in.

This gathering is a chance to explore growth, evolution and how the future might look and feel different than the present for you.

Please email me at rachel@pureresilienceyoga.com to join me, and my dear friend and colleague Susan Jackson, on October 1st.

When we want things to be different than they are, we must explore new options.

Come share you. And we’ll share us.

With gratitude,
Rachel

Shoulda’ Coulda’

“What’s reality?” 9 year old John asks me this morning as he looks up from his graphic novel, Dogman.

I freeze a little. Well, I’m actually already frozen because the tissue inside of my shoulder blade HURTS LIKE THE DICKENS. It is cranky beyond words upon awakening today. Definitely a full out 10 rating on the pain scale whenever I move. My breath is caught and I. Am. Stuck.

It sucks.

It sucks because reality is that the plan for my day did not call for this surprise visitor of pain. I have kids to take to school, clients to see, a therapy appointment 30 minutes away in Chapel Hill, more kids to pickup from school and meals to figure out.

And yet, reality now is this moment.

Intense, excruciating pain that has me stuck on the floor and with any small movement, I gasp for oxygen.

So, yes, it sucks hugely.

The Buddha said something along the lines of “Pain is non-negotiable. It will happen.”

It is happening alright.

AND, it is actually all good.

For real.

Because the Buddha had more to say.
The Buddha also said that suffering is optional.

And the way to check the “No thank you on an order of suffering” box, is by letting go of what we think should be and arriving in what Is.

This pain I’m experiencing is in and out, sharp and burning, licking and splitting. But it isn’t constant. Its texture is different depending upon my position. Its intensity shifts depending upon the choices I make here on the floor.

I think of my go-to question in times of high stress and translate it now to this physical load:
What do I need in this moment?

Sigh. Yup, I get it. It is true that I do have the choice to power through my old plan for the day and make it all happen come hell or high water.

Or I can stop the struggle here and now. I can lie on the floor and breathe. I can let my kids place their hands on my ribs and remind me to soften as I am able. I can text a friend to ask that she drive carpool this morning. I can tell my dear clients that I need to cancel their sessions. I can text my therapist and tell her my predicament and offer fairness and request a reschedule.

I can be here and breathe.
Inhale. Exhale.

I can see my children surrounding me. Loving me. Butterflies adoring their flower. I can text my husband and hear his compassion in a simple word, “Sorry.” I can wait for the Advil to kick in and then make tea and Ayurvedic takra to nourish me. I can text my acupuncturist to see if she has availability to see my today.

I can. I can. I can.

I cannot tell this pain to turn off with a switch. But I can absolutely love it and respond to it and give it what it is asking for. And within those offerings, I can nourish gratitude and joy for the infinite number of options to settle in and care for sweet, over eager, and beautiful Me.

So, it sucks for sure to hurt.

And it is freeing beyond words to embrace choice.

To love me.
To be honest.
To be human.

Later, there will be reflection on what brought me to this point of excruciating pangs of protest from my body. And after that there will be refinement of how I do things in the future to stop myself before the battleship of my body is sinking into the depths of the Mariana Trench of pain. But all that is to come.

Right now, I settle into what Is.

And I respond to John,
“Reality is what is real, John.”

“Oh.” he says.

May we all be well,
Rachel

A Grand Dragon

Summer’s heat has built up inside of me. And something wants to bust out.

My jaw is held. My chest is tight. My throat is tough. And man are my ears ever braced against the world out there.

It is loud. It is all so very loud.

In this very moment, I want to scream. I want to scratch and claw my way out of discomfort. I want to bust open so I am no longer caught inside.

What power resides in these little bodies of our’s.

And so the work becomes sitting down in this incredible power. The churn in my belly. The throb in my throat. The heat in my ears. The pulse in my legs.

Go. Go. Go,” chants every tissue in my body.

Stay. Visit. Feel,” softly guides my heart.

This is not knowing. This is my body and nervous system wanting confirmation that everything. will. work. out. forever. and ever.

Curious request but true nonetheless.

We are exceptional at distracting ourselves from the fragility of this all. We pretend to know what the next day, the next hour, the next five minutes will bring. But we really know nothing.

And that can feel terrifying in its expansiveness.
Or it can feel liberating in its possibility.
It all hinges on how we’ve cultivated our relationship with Not Knowing.

Because if we’ve never spent quality time with Not Knowing then it is still terrifying. If we distract ourselves every time it arises, or we don’t have the skill to feel our experience in Not Knowing, or we don’t have the words to name it, then it remains untrustworthy.

Without meeting and exploring Not Knowing, it remains the beast in the closet.

And therein lies the trick. The opportunity.

If we’ve chosen to sit down with Not Knowing, to see its shape, to feel its texture. to listen to its layered arguments of distraction, then we may have found that it isn’t as scary as we think. We may have found that the Not Knowing is also spacious.

Infinitely spacious.

And the Not Knowing is absolutely full of possibility that we cannot even fathom.

And just when the Not Knowing might feel so big that we think we are going to disappear into its abyss, we find…

There is more.

Its not all Not Knowing. Ah, yes… the simple magic of truth.

We know Now. The past is already warping herself into tricky truths and winding wonderments. The future is a dream of our curling creativity.

But Now – Now is the elixir of softening. Now is the breath I take. Now is the heat and pulse of life confirmed in my ears. Now is the floor beneath my feet. Now is the tightening in my heart. Now is the gentle rain falling outside. Now is the sound of my girls with a friend upstairs playing (loudly). .

Now Is.

The rest was or will be – perhaps maybe. But now Is.

And so Now, I sit in this downpour of sensations. I pause the churning and I simply feel the bonfire of Me.

What power resides in Now. Embrace the Not Knowing and explore the underbelly of a shimmering, soaring, spectacular beast.

May you be gentle in your exploring.
Walk well,
Rachel