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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

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

Maui Day 4 (with a twist)

Although I was in Maui six months ago, the theme of judgment with which this piece dances is back at center stage. I sometimes marvel at the returning themes as I swim in ever deeper waters of self-exploration and softening.

And the lesson of now is the lesson of then.
In the words of the sage Ice Cube, “Check yourself before you wreck yourself.”

Enjoy.

p.s. There is a plot twist at the end. And I didn’t see it coming.
—-
The chickens are still out there doing their circles thing. But the weight of the air has dissipated. The thick and heavy has cleared today and the sun is the overseer once more. Her view no longer obscured. Her radiance a gift of a rainless downpour.

This morning, I choose to walk the beach with my cousin and her friend, as well as her friend’s 6 month baby bobbing along in a front pack. This friend is a dermatologist. Her husband is a renowned foot surgeon with a practice in Phoenix. They have a home in Montana that they are leaving to move to Maui. They don’t wish to sell the Montana home though. She says it is perfect.

And my sneaky little brain decides that she is undoubtedly Perfect. I see my comparisons rolling in my head. I see my assumption that her life is sparkly. That her husband who works one week a month and is off the other three to do all the extreme sports he desires is ever fulfilled. That they are beyond happy. That they have found permanent contentment.

Assumptions. A big ol’ bunch of assumptions. I really have no idea how their life feels.

Ah, jealousy, you sneaky little gremlin.

I know what jealousy does for me. That sharpness in my chest leads to comparisons. Comparisons lead to rigidity and a toughening of my belly. In cartoon form, jealousy feels like a little furry crazy eyed green pocket monster who keeps screeching up at me from below, “She’s the best! You’re the worst! nah-nah-nah-nah boo boo!!!!”

I move on to mentally ponder the cost that may come with a husband of an adrenaline junky. With a new baby. With life split between locations. So much churning, movement, volatility in their luxurious comings and goings.

To parallel so much churning, movement, volatility in my own mind.

I feel my jealousy. I feel my confusion. I think my confusion. I think my rationalism.

We return to the parking lot and my cousin says goodbye to this dear and very sweet woman. Her friend with babe approaches a car and I’m grateful to have the control to keep my jaw hinge in tact. It is a Tesla SUV. She opens a door vertically Back to the Future style and I gawk while simultaneously attempting to look cool about this further evidence of my oozing inferiority.

(Did I mention I’m on Maui on vacation sans kids? Right – there is that. But let’s just shove that away because it isn’t convenient to how I want to feel in this moment. Back to “always me.”)

As my cousin and I continue to our cars, I glance behind and see… oh….

…the rear window of the Tesla is shattered. Gone. Kaput.

Instead, there is a gaping hole with a too-small tarp bungeed over what used to be glass on this luxury white radiant vehicle.

“What happened to their car?” I ask my cousin, expecting to hear that a tree fell on it during the rains of late or something else natural in disaster.

She smiles slightly (with a tad of discomfort) and gives a sideways look back to the Tesla, “Well, her husband is a bit of a nut. I don’t know how she does it with him. Especially with the baby. Anyhow, he was driving a bit crazy and then went and parked to go wind surfing. When he came back, someone had shattered the back window. It’s a bit flashy for the island. They really need to get a truck with a few dents or something.” She pauses and considers and then starts giggling, “The other day we were at the beach together and it started pouring. Just raining like crazy. We ran back to the cars and they tried to tarp the back but it was impossible to seal it. It was just gushing in like a swimming pool. I couldn’t stop laughing.”

I pause and smile at myself. Window busted. Story busted.
Assumptions busted.

——
Back to today. It is July in North Carolina. Moments ago following a read aloud check with my husband on the Maui Day 4 piece, he.very.carefully.and.in.measured.tone.says, “There is something missing. There is almost a righteousness in what you confirmed when you saw her window. I know your compassion is a wellspring for you but something is incomplete here…” He trails off.

I hate it. Every ounce of me hates this feedback. In my belly, there is a twisting and turning and writhing against his words. But my heart knows he is spot on. I am missing something. And it isn’t just in the writing. It is in my Seeing.

Getting called out can suck. Especially when someone hits the uncomfortable bulls eye of a Truth.

That day on the beach, I busted a story of my own. And there was righteousness in it. A relief. Undoubtedly.

And yet on this July day back in North Carolina with the support of a man I respect dearly, I allow my Seeing to go Deeper. Beyond superficially satiated me. To closing my eyes and imagining that day once more. To feeling my heart now tug and tighten for this dear woman’s Suffering. For her husband’s Seeking. For any discomfort they may feel.

For any suffering or discomfort ANY of us may feel.

We are beautiful people, every one. In her sparkly. In my sparkly. In your sparkly. In her thick and gooey. In my thick and gooey. In your thick and gooey. In her sharp and shattered. In my sharp and shattered. In your sharp and shattered.

In our sparkly, thick and gooey, sharp and shattered selves, We are spectacularly beautiful.

With open heart,
Rachel

Fly Free

Greg is drying off a dripping 4 year old Nora just outside the tiny bathroom in my parent’s lake house. She is shivering as the pink terry towel rubs around on her sturdy little body.

“Daddy, tell me the truth,” And without pause, she revises to, “Daddy, tell me a weird truth.”

I smile from the kitchen which is a stone’s throw away in this small and love filled home.

Greg laughs and I can almost hear him wracking his brain for an acceptable response. Yet, he’s talented and fast with a deep well of random information. He reaches in and quickly extracts a match.

“Okay… you drive on a parkway and you park on a driveway. Is that a good weird truth?”

“Hmm… no.”

I thought it was pretty good. I give the man credit.

An hour later, barely 9 year old John has just finished a runaround on where he will sleep tonight. Will it be in the bunkhouse alone with his older cousin or in his normal nest on a cot in my parent’s room? I’ve witnessed (and to be fully honest contributed to) the inner turmoil of this decision for him and I’ve also watched it come to a place of stillness. His quality has shifted entirely as he has tugged apart the strands that had him wound around himself and choice. His brain that was ‘shoulding’ and trying desperately to rationalize something that his body could not get on board with.

And now, peace in his decision to stick with the cot. Peace in the lift of a weight. Peace in the spring of his step. Peace in the lightness of his voice.

He floats through the kitchen and says in passing amused exasperation with himself,
“I ALWAYS forget that things always work out!”
Weird truth.

It may not be in the time frame that we desire or the manner in which we envision, but this beautiful and wild way of things constantly steadies herself.

A mainstay mantra for me when things feel off kilter, unpredictable, unfair, off putting (you get the drift) is,
Just wait.

Just wait and wisdom will reveal itself.
Just wait and peace will bubble back up again.
Just wait and the tugs on your heart will loosen.

We in this place and this time have been gifted a life of privilege and security. For all of your fears that trickle in by the raceway of the mind, for all the rapids that arise ahead of your boat, for all the turbulence that greets your time in the air, just wait.

Our freedom is in the choice – over and over again – to love it and leave it.
Weird truth.

Moments ago I drove by a bald eagle feet away from me beside the bridge that spans this huge lake. He will not stay still for long. Neither did my car as it swept past. But we had our moment. And man, that moment was good.

May you embrace your freedom and feel the spread of your wings. This life is grand beyond measure.

Weird truth abounds.

With admiration,
Rachel

Go

It is summer. My kids are tracked out for 5 weeks from year round school. And I am basking in the heaven of their light. I’ve turned down the dial on work and doing. I’ve turned up the dial on outside and play.

And it is glorious.

The sky is so big out there.
Go see it.

I’m under it with you.

In awe,
Rachel

To Bear Witness

To bear witness to suffering is a trust fall into our deep human resilience. To bear witness is to surrender into the not knowing how any individual’s path is meant to unfold. To bear witness is an explorer’s journey into soft heart and expanding eyes.

To bear witness is to let judgments loosen and to let love expand.

Last evening, I was given the gift of bearing witness to my daughter’s canvas in action. Many colors moving from palette to expression. A dynamic piece that was here for a moment before dissolving into the next.

At 6 years old, Ruthie was clearly heavy and thick and dense in her movement. I watched her from afar as her brother and younger sister wrestled her father on the living room floor. Meanwhile, I saw the sidelines of the match. The shadows around the edges of the main event in which dear Ruthie moved like a cat. Avoiding the doing. Parked in the middle of her Being.

I sat and waited for her approach. On her own time. And she came when that time was right.

I perched on an armchair, turquoise blue with raised floral patterning, and plenty of surface area for the both of us. She slunk up and onto me. Curled into comfort and connection with another human body. And then tucked her head into her forearm.

No melodrama was present. This was authentic and deep pain for her little body and mind. We sat. I waited. I laid a gentle hand upon her back and felt her aliveness pulsing. I thought she may have fallen asleep with her heavy head on her arm and body sinking into my bony frame of mother.

The others left the room. I felt her twitch with awakeness. And then she spoke ever so quietly. Ever so timidly of the truth at hand.

“I am excited – to go to the beach.
I am sad – that I am done with kindergarten. And I won’t see my teacher…”
Her breath caught and she choked over a lump in her delicate throat.
“And I am tired.”

I sat with chest open and full for this brave little girl. This girl who clearly knew that more than one thing was present in the given moment. This girl who was sitting into her discomfort with courage and support.

And then she said with a tad more fullness in her voice, “Actually, I think I am not just a little tired, I am REALLY tired.”

Silence. Space. Room for all of it in our chair.

Life can feel grippy and hard and impossible when it hits with a punch. And then there are moments of light and airy and bouncy.

And then there is a sneaky truth. That it is all present all of the time, dancing its way through light and across shadow.

No one presence in any given moment but instead a canvas of liberally radiant hues.

There is room for it all. Now. Then. Next.
Room for all of it.

Turn toward one another.
Turn within.
Cry and scream and laugh and blush.
Ride baby ride.
I’m over here waving at you. Blowing kisses to you. Smiling from heart to head. Crying from heart to belly. Loving you from this place of not knowing.

We ride. Oh yes, how we ride.

With gratitude,
Rachel

Maui Day 2

My arm continues to heal. And does not wish to type yet. Thus, another installment of Maui for you. It makes me smile as I see my ride on the round about of time. Back again in the moment of surrendering to less.

Time is a jolly jokester making us think she is linear.

Back to the islands we go.

—————–
Maui. Day 2.

I have done almost everything I can to avoid sitting down and writing this. From ground zero of inspiration, I first did email cleanup and made appointments. Then I figured I should get dressed. Then I renewed library books (on the phone since I’m in Hawaii). Then I decided I was definitely hungry and needed a snack. And now I’m out of distractions. Because I’m sitting in the middle of paradise with no kids, no to do list, and just me myself and I. I have an island full of things I could do.

And. I’m. Just. Sitting. Here.

Earlier, at least I was watching the chickens.

They are insane. You can see their incredibly airiness as they blow themselves and each other around the yard. And they don’t stop chattering. They disappear into the tall, thick, pokey sugar cane field yobble sqwabling at one another.

“WHERE ARE YOU!?”

“I DON’T KNOW!! WHERE ARE YOU?”

“I’M OVER HERE!!!!”

“WHERE IS OVER HERE?”

“BAH!”

“BAH!”

“ACKKKKK!!!”

And by some miracle they coalesce back in the green yard of my Air Bnb and they proceed to run around in circles.

At one point, I thought I was going to get to see a cock fight. But the two combed roosters just ran at each other and pretty much sideswiped one another with a forgetfulness of their surge of rage.

No excitement there. Lots of garble but circles. Circles. And they ran more circles.

My favorite part may have been when it started raining and they were all running around together in a pod – with a straggler or two behind – looking for a place to shelter. It’s Maui. These are wild chickens. And they are panicking over rain. I think. Maybe. Who knows? Maybe there was a dude looking for dinner in the cane field and I never saw him. Who am I to doubt the native chickens? Or at least the acclimated chickens. Because I am definitely not acclimated.

I can feel my heavy and my thick and my tired. Yesterday was a doing day of wandering, seeing, and settling. Today I need some stillness. I want to do it all. But I need to do very little.

I know that I am here to do very little. That’s a tad infuriating when you’re on a gorgeous island on which the weather changes every 30 seconds. Within the course of an hour, there is pouring rain, startling blue skies, coarsing winds, and thick cloud immersions. The weather is fickle here and now. I move from sweatshirt to t-shirt. From pants to capris. From no socks to socks. In every combination possible, I feel the elements of spring in the heavy humidity (my host says this is as humid as it gets), in the summer cleansing and clearing rains (everyone is saying this is way more rainfall than they’ve had recently), in the fallish dead and decaying leaves piled and browning beside the lanai (no one has tried to explain those away to me but I think the trick is that I haven’t asked about them), and in the wintery bite of the wind last evening which descended into my bones on the central part of the island. After a relaxing and settling somatic movement class, any released muscles contracted to guard my defenseless frame of a body against the cold whip. Brrr.

4 seasons. One day. Over and over again, they ride.

One full day. I have been here one full day. And the weather has me feeling like it is a full year. The seasons in their constant turn. Others may say island life doesn’t have four seasons like the mainland. No doubt that is true. But change here is unrelenting in a whole different way. Is that why the locals inherited a deep sense of nature? Because she is constantly shaping, shifting, and moving hour to hour and even minute to minute here? Because she always has a new secret to reveal? Because she doesn’t let you hold too tightly to one moment as you don’t know when that sunshine will obscure. When that blue sky will draw clouds in sleep. When the quiet of stillness will be smothered by the winds of smooth.

The chickens run in circles. I sit still.

What’s the difference really?

Cluck cluck,
Rachel