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Loud

I don’t have any great words for you right now. No eloquent speech or captivating story.

Instead, I have simple words. Objective sensations.

Tight and pulsing and throbbing ears. So much hard and sharp that meets them – so much of what we deem to be loud. Of my children. Of the news. Of my thoughts. Of my husband on conference calls. Of the grief that is surging for the loss of my nephew two years ago to this day.

Of. Of. Of.

For every thought I have, a real live little voice seems to interrupt it. A question. A request. A celebration. From these 3 little people who rely on me. Who turn to me. Who trust in me.

For every moment of peace I find, a cacophony of noise crashes in. Screeches. Dishwasher on twice a day. Doors slamming this way and that.

Even the sounds of spring feel too much right now. The birds never ceasing their back and forth calls. On and on and on and on…

Silence. I want silence so badly. Just a little quiet. Just to be off duty for a minute in time. Just a little space.

I remember this feeling. A yearning. A pleading.

“Just give me a little space.”

A tightening in my chest and a cinching in my belly.

I know how to take space in our normal. I am a master at it.
I am no master at this new way of doing. Not even close.

So that’s why I don’t have any wise words for you. Because I am swimming and surfacing for air here and there. In the stillness of the pre-dawn morning. In the pause between the voices. In the gap between you and me.

When my nephew died, I remember the silence was deafening.

In this moment of global and personal heartbreak, the sounds are crushing.

I trust myself in this. To navigate and to dance and to fall and to rise.

But oh man, I am not graceful in it. Watch me try, flounder and fall. Watch me stand up again. Learning to walk once more. Learning to breathe day by day. Learning to swell and stand down with the pulse of the world.

I don’t have wise words for you. Because I don’t have the bandwidth to separate my words from the blur of letters, words and sounds that are flying this way and that. Constantly. Day in and day out.

Fortunately, there are plenty of folks who do. The words that helped me to re-remember what I need to know right now are those of Ethan Nichtern in his weekly podcast, The Road Home, Practicing in the World As it Is.
Receive if you desire.

One step. At a time. Sleep. Feed our 5. Explore routine. See them each as I am able. Repeat.

One day this will not feel like survival. One day this will not feel so damn exhausting. Like I just had a newborn arrive in the house. Or a dear loved one abruptly exit the world. One day, I will sink into this and see the magic that was here the whole time.

And for now, this Is. My resistance. My reluctance. My frustration.

My grief for what was and what may be.

My love for what has been and what is.

Wishing me and you and all of us – every single one – peace.

With Big Love,
Rachel

Fix Not. Fuel Not.

 

 

How very curious. In my last note, I wrote about Not Knowing. I wrote about what Not Knowing feels like in my body. I wrote about what Not Knowing feels like in my thoughts.

I know that right now we are in wide company in our Not Knowing.
And I know how terrifying that can feel.
Frozen in heart. Shivering in arms. Tightening in chest.

“It is unsafe here and now,” say the body and mind.

As it has for so many, a fear wave came over me late last week. Fear of what Is happening in other places. Fear of what could happen here. Fear of my own suffering. Fear of those whom I love suffering. Fear of the vulnerable suffering. Fear. Fear. So much fear wrapped into and around this zip and zoom of the unseen migration of covid-19. I walked around in this cloud of fear for most of two days.
It’s coming… it’s coming… it’s coming,” pulsed the thoughts.

And then, a break of grace within.

On Friday, we returned from a couple of days at the lake and a few days prior to that in the Virginia Beach area. The van reflected said week of travel with its toy bags, overnight bags, sleeping bags and more packed and overflowing. We emptied the car and somewhere along the way, I tucked a magnet in my pocket. It was from my kiddos’ Curious George travel set. A big hit that has been around for the better part of eight years.

Later, in the midst of my functional fear fog, I put my hand into my pocket and felt something. I took it out and turned it over. A small sign stared back at me,

South” in black block letters on a grey background about the size of my fingernail.

I paused. I felt. Clouds parted and clarity descended.

My mind was turned southward on the wheel of awareness.
It was turned toward a single point that was all consuming.
Fear in every direction in which it looked.

Yet, it was missing more.

It was missing the other 99% of the wheel of awareness.
It was missing True North.

The birds flying to and from the feeder, the sun shining bright and warm in the sky, the moon and the stars steady and quiet, the azaleas blooming, the wind dancing, my kid screeching in protest to her older sister, the swish swash of the dishwasher, the coolness of the air on my hands, the sound of a skillsaw at the neighbor’s house, the in and out of my breath.

The great, big, humongous flood of the millions of pieces that make up any given right Now.

The loudest thought is not the only one.

True North is a choice. It is a deliberate navigation of the mind to turn toward what soothes, nurtures and quiets. I was reminded of this when I saw the magnet and realized I was turned around on my path.

No matter. Pause, reorient to the compass, and start again.

Over and over and over. A million times we lose our way from True North. And a million times we turn toward True North.

This is yoga therapy. This is the art of slowing down. This is feeling what is arising and pausing to respond with skill and compassion. This is choosing to live what we value.

Fear is sharp and loud and hard.
In the same moment exists smooth and quiet and soft.
Ever here. Ever there. Now and always.

This is Is. This immeasurable hard in our world right now is very real. And in fact, it is always here. There is death and suffering then. There is death and suffering now. There will be death and suffering again.

It is hard. It is hard hard hard.

And yet as Frank Ostaseski says in his book The Five Invitations and regularly in his teachings, there is infinite suffering. And to meet it, there is infinite compassion.

Pause. Notice.
Where do you stand right now on the wheel of awareness?

And for just one moment, just one breath, navigate to More.
Choose your True North. 

I stand with you.
We stand together.

Wishing you peace,
Rachel

Say Anything

I’m scared. I’m a bit numb. I feel flawed and out done. I see the many many yoga teachers, movement experts and mindfulness teachers who surround me and my comparative mind wanders again and again to “What do I have to contribute?”

The same piece of me watches my family and sees their impact as well. Public school teachers deeply gifted in their craft. A skilled contractor with tangible skills of mind and hand. Understood trades by the veins of our culture.

I feel the odd man out. I feel the black sheep. I feel that with my job – yoga therapist – no one knows what I do or how I do it (sometimes me included). I feel it is simply an apparition. It is not real nor of value. How do I articulate why it helps and how it can help – deeply help – in this world of hard and sharp and fast? How it is helping moment in and moment out. Now.

Sigh.

I feel light and wispy in this moment. Like the wind could blow me around if it desired to. I know I am off. I know that my tejas – my fire – is but a whisper spark. I know this because I feel great fear and doubt in how to step forward. I don’t know how to share this thing that is nebulous and ephemeral. I don’t know how to articulate why it matters. I don’t know how to offer help to those who feel helpless. To those who feel choiceless. To those who feel groundless.

But I know what those things feel like. I remember them from before.

I remember them from now.

Stuck. Small. Tiny. Flimsy. Willow the wisp.

This feeling is uncomfortable. It is sour in my mouth and acidic in my throat. This place of not knowing how to proceed or what to do is twisty in my belly – as if I can feel the coil and wind of my intestines crushed into my abdomen.

I do not like this moment. I do not enjoy it. I do not find pleasure in it. I hate exposing myself to you in my rawness and ramblingness.

But I also know something.

I know it is okay. All of this. Is okay. I know that you feel it too in your own way. I know that I have felt it many times before. And I will feel it many times again. I know that just as the foggy morning greeted me upon early rising today – I could not see the houses surrounding me for the thick of it – this foggy settling around my thoughts and feelings will burn away too. On its time. In its way.

This feels ick. It feels yuck.
It feels like… not knowing.
It feels like… sadness.
It feels like… nature at work through the living of a life.

Yesterday at dinner time, Greg came in the front door. 4 year old Nora vaulted out of her seat and away from my incredible homemade waffles. (My value is still clear to me in the waffle making arena.) She bounded over top of John and Ruthie who were mid-game on the kitchen floor, raced across the living room, down the few stairs into our foyer and leaped into her father’s arms.

“MAKE WAY FOR THE PRESIDENT HUGGER!!!”
she bellowed as she found her stride and destination.

And she is. Nora is undoubtedly the President Hugger of our world.

Her enthusiasm is contagious. I will let it fill me and inspire me now.

I sit in my fog. Not liking it. But also loving it because I know it has something to offer me. In this moment, I don’t feel that I have any great action or skill or knowledge to offer this world. I have a great deal of pondering, reflecting and feeling. But I don’t pretend to know more than anyone else. In fact, I think I may just be the President Not-Knower of our world.

And then I remember a quote from a dear teacher I sat with on Maui last January.

“Not knowing is most intimate.”

Yes. Yes that is a truth. I feel it solid and steady in my bones. Clear and fluid in its light.

So, I will not know. I will trust it. I will love it. I will drink tea with it. I will remember that I am not alone. That I am never alone. And I will wait and see what flower grows from this rich and fertile soil of deep.

Oh, and clearly I’ll accept many hugs from Nora the President Hugger while I wander walk.

With gratitude for your presence,
Rachel

p.s. If you’d like to join me for a practice – after this super excellent sell of my skills and knowledge – please do signup for YogaFest on Saturday, March 28th in Raleigh. It would be lovely to share time together.

Love Is

My kids have decided that jumping through a hoola hoop is the game of the moment. I hold the hoop at the directed height of the given offspring. He or she takes the mark, runs full out and then adopts the chosen approach to get through the hoop.

Almost 5 year old Nora skips the jump part all together, splays arms high and runs full speed at the hoop linebacker style. Of course, this results in said hoop flying out of my hands with the force of her awesome body. Nora stops, spins to face me (hoop underfoot) and grins ear to ear. Why jump when you can barrel?

Ruthie, at nearly 7 years old, finds the run and the leap and has to mechanically pack up her naturally extensive body to get through the opening. It is tricky for a graceful gazelle to contract her power.

And John. John takes a deep breath and pauses in start position, hard off the line he gets up speed with the lead of his head jutting forward, and he curls into the tiniest 9 year old ball of human that I have ever seen. Nothing but net as he follows his instinct to curl in, to curve, to contract.

He hits the ground solid and steady. He comes to upright with a blank face that slowly expands into a huge smile.

“Woah! How did I know what to do there!?”

I grin and witness him. I witness his joy in this moment for the intelligence of his body. For the briefest of moments, I sit into it with him.

And then this mama yoga therapist wonderer who can’t shut up for long says,
“You know how you HATE that you can’t touch your toes in a forward fold? That you have to bend your knees in gym during them or else you can’t breathe?”

His body loses both inflation and elevation as he recalls this well felt experience of his body.

“Yeah, I know,” he sighs.

“Here is the cool thing, John. Those forward folds are hard for you for sure – which is partially because your back is able to curl in a ton. You can fold up like a snuggly baby into a ball with no problem, right?”

He ponders this and his eyes begin to light again. “Yeah… I can. Wait, is that why I can do this so easily?”

“Yup. The same reason you get so frustrated with your standing and seated forward folds is also the same reason you can curl up so tightly in your spine. And fly through that hoop with no thinking about it.”

He is quiet. His eyes are big and feeling into this funny Truth.

Something he can do beautifully with his body is the flip side of something that drives him crazy with his body.

He cocks his head and stares into nothingness for the briefest of moments. I see him sitting down in gratitude and peace for this thing that Is. This body that serves.

I recognize that there is more to it than “His spine is super flexible so his legs are tight.” There is in fact always more to consider in a moment.

But there is also a place to stop and be in the beauty of the Simple.

Because the Simple is also the stunning orange and red leaves.
That become the piles of dried and crunched debris to rake up.

Because the Simple is also the sunny and warm.
That morphs into the cold. Or rainy. Or humid.

Because the Simple is also the moment of stillness.
That flows into the rush of doing.

The Simple is merely the flip of the complex.
And both exist simultaneously in any given breath.

For whatever we don’t love, there is some flip that we do love.

And perhaps it will serve you, me, us for a moment to see the Simple truth of some challenge that we face. Some gift of our’s that is wrapped into a perceived obstacle. Some grace that is inherent and quiet in the shadows of the hard to hold.

I invite you to join me at YogaFest in Raleigh on March 28th to explore more of the simple in this practice of everyday.

May you embrace the Simple in whatever way you need this Valentine’s Day. May the complex rest for just a breath. Just a moment. And may our intention in this space ripple outward to all those in need.

Just like John, you do you. And see more.

Take good care,
Rachel

Mama, what is…

Nora and I are driving down Interstate 40, cars whizzing by left and right. The world in motion. We somehow sit in stillness inside of this 4,000 pound box of metal (I looked that up. Yipes!).

Her voice comes out of the quiet,
“Mama, what is ‘weak’?”

Simple questions can stall my brain. This one does for sure.
You see, to me weak isn’t just “not strong.” Weak isn’t the opposite of something.

Weak is relative to something.

I feel some twists and turns in my chest and belly as I struggle with how to communicate this to a 4 ½ year old. I feel a thickness in my throat as it is clogged for words. I rest into the sensations and allow myself to wonder wander. “What does ‘weak’ mean to Nora?”

“Nu, you know how you have the bucket in the backyard that you like to loop the rope through? And then you pull the rope to get the bucket up to the top of the playset.”

“Oh,  yeah!!” she exclaims with joy. I can tell she actually feels the exuberance of the bucket game as we sit here and talk in a van moving at 70 miles per hour. For the moment, her entire being is IN the bucket game.

“Well, if nothing is in the bucket, can the rope pull it up okay?”

“Yes! It’s easy for the rope to do that.” She is clearly back in the car with me as she squeezes her eyes, scrunches her nose and noodles on this one.

“Okay. What if you filled the bucket all the way up with sand? What would that be like for your rope?”

“uh…” she pauses. I can tell she is traveling through time and space to see the bucket. To pull on that rope. To feel its resistance.

“If it had sand, it would be really heavy. My rope might break.”

That’s right, girl.

Heavier load – that rope might break.
Lighter load – that rope is good to go.

Weak is relative to the load at hand. Whether it be physical, emotional or mental, weak is not absolute. Weak is relative to a situation or a demand.

Heavier load means we need some additional tools and skills. Maybe a new rope. Maybe a buddy helping us to pull. Maybe someone below lifting while we pull from above.

Lighter load and we’re good with what we’ve got. The rope is good. Our body, mind and heart have got it.

Either way, it’s all relative. All the time.

You are not weak.
I am not weak.
We are not weak.

We have infinite potential to grow and to expand. To carry more. To lift heavier. To breathe easier.

But we are not weak.

“But mom…” interrupts Nora to my meandering meaning making.

“Yes, love.”

“I know some ropes might break if that bucket gets too heavy. But the purple rope… the purple rope can do ANYTHING!”

I smile. The inside of my chest sparkles outward with happy for this little girl.

She is the purple rope. You are the purple rope. We are the purple rope.

So there is that. Both and.

Come play with me at YogaFest on Saturday, March 28th in Raleigh for my class “Getting Curious: Asana for Explorers”. The group will pick the poses to explore at the beginning of class and I will guide you in breaking them down and rebuilding them. It’s kind of like playing Legos with your body. And no, we won’t be doing Nora and Ruthie’s handstands from the picture above. Registration is now open here and you’ll receive a $5 discount as a student of mine when you register with the code, RMFIVE.

I know that seeing you there would help me remember the purple rope inside of me.

Come along if our path’s align.
Take good care,
Rachel

Stepping Out

Welcome to 2020. It is glorious to be here with you.

Our little family of 5 has begun a new tradition in the past couple of months. It is that of “thanking ourselves.” We sit at the dinner table and if someone has something they know they did but also know that others won’t really know about otherwise – and gosh darnit they want to be seen for it – then they announce, “I would like to thank myself for…” Emptying the dishwasher. Or picking up my room. Or cleaning up the cat puke. Or whatever. We all tend to giggle when we go around and thank ourselves. It’s a funny feeling but there is also a reverential silence.

So, as the New Year kicks off, I want to thank myself for something.

I would like to thank myself for doing hard work on myself and for loving myself. And for continually practicing the art of “give time time.”

My heart used to sit in fractures. Rachel the parent had a specific toolbox of tone and mannerisms. Which gave way to having to “ramp up” for Rachel the yoga teacher. Which gave way to crashing after teaching for “Rachel who just left it all on the floor.” Which gave way to the cycle repeating itself. And then there was “Rachel the sister” and “Rachel the wife” and “Rachel the daughter” and on and on. It took a lot of energy to switch masks, tones, and (figurative) makeup in all of those scene changes.

And I didn’t even know I was doing it.

I just knew I was perpetually exhausted, suffering many migraines, and overall unsettled. I felt like something was missing and I didn’t even know what it was.

Then I was given the gift of authentic community. I was given the gift of learning more about the science of my body and brain, more about embodied movement, and more about the science of Ayurveda.

Most importantly, beyond the concepts, I was given the structure and support to practice the integration of the concepts into my life in my own very particular and unique way. And over time, I saw the fractured Rachel merge into one Rachel.

Just me.

I am me. In whatever I do, I get to be me. Because that’s actually all I’ve got. Me. Steady and ever present Me. All of it is Me. All of it is now fed by my heart.

Is my business really my heart? Undoubtedly it is. The Rachel that parents her children also works with my clients. The Rachel that loves her grieving friends and family is also the Rachel that leads my teacher training. The Rachel that moves in her morning practice is also the Rachel that listens to my husband. Me. Myself. And I. So, yes, my business is my heart. I can say that with full conviction.

And my heart has two things right now that are close to its center that I find vulnerable and scary and unknown. Because I don’t know if they will be received by the public “out there.” I don’t know if they will be valued. I don’t know if they will be wanted.

So, I feel my short and tight breath. I pause for it and offer it acknowledgment, “I feel your sticky and scared – and I’m with you breath. I also know that these offerings are needed… so we’ll step forward together, breath. All is well.”

Here we go.

Share time for a couple of big things that present opportunities for us to be together.

1) SAVE THE DATE: YogaFest, Saturday, March 28th
For the first time, I will teach at YogaFest in Raleigh. This is the largest annual fundraiser for You Call this Yoga (YCTY), an organization that tirelessly provides yoga opportunities for underserved populations. I am deeply grateful to support YCTY in the work that they do. I would love for anyone who will be in the Raleigh area to come and join me on this day for my session as well as any other teachers that pique your interest. More information is at www.YogaFestNC.com . I’ll keep you posted on registration details as they are released.

2) 2020-21 Teacher Emersion Program, Begins March 13th
Susan Jackson, my dear friend and colleague, and I are slated to begin our second Teacher Emersion Program the weekend of March 13th. This program is unique. It is demanding in its curriculum both in the classroom and on your own time – exploring biomechanics and movement on your mat, applying Ayurveda in your everyday life, living the ethical precepts of yoga and selected tenets of Buddhism, and practicing the integration of all of these tools. The core word that both Susan and I use here is “integration.” This training values what yoga can bring to a class of students in a studio – and will certify you to teach others as a registered yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance – yet its focus and  structure assume that trainees are taking the tools as far as they desire into their own lives.

At present, we have a handful of dedicated and ready students – and we desire to find 1 or 2 more with equal passion for the work. This is not to be taken lightly and we know that. If you are ready to understand your body, your mind, and your heart with more skill and depth – if you are interested in delving into becoming a superb learner and your own best teacher – then please do reach out to us. Rachel@PureResilienceYoga.com and Sunny.Yoga@gmail.com .
We know you’re out there… we just don’t know who you are yet. 🙂

———-

That’s it for now. I sit on this chair in my living room as the weather turns grey and the rain moves in. The few remaining dried brown leaves skitter dance with one another. The birds chirp in staccato and the distant cars go in whoosh. I sit here. While you sit there. Wherever you are. With whatever it is that you see and hear.

Wherever and however our paths cross, may our ripples travel far and wide.

Oh, and if you haven’t done so already, go ahead and thank yourself for something. That will be a ripple all in itself.

With gratitude,
Rachel

Choose

Nora is fast forwarding in this moment. She knows that kindergarten is approaching and yet at 4 ½, she has very little concept of it being six months away. We are driving in the car in silence to pick up her brother and sister from school and out of the silence emerge her crisp and yet halted words.

“When I think about kindergarten, I’m feeling kind of excited. And I’m feeling kind of nervous. I feel somewhere in between.”

Wisdom in its imperative smallest of nutshells.

“I feel somewhere in between.”
I feel both and.
I feel all of that. And more.

Nora is brilliant. As are all of us.

This work that I do is about letting it all in.

The good stuff is easier to let in. Kind of. Most of the time. Because we can also do a hard stop “Woah, horses” pull on the reigns of life when we realize how good things are. Or perhaps even that they are better than they used to be. We can spin into wonder of “When will the other shoe drop?” meanwhile missing the beautiful Is.

The harder stuff is… well, harder for most of us to let in. We don’t tend to like the heavy that comes with it. And without skillful practice and support in leaning in, the harder stuff can also bring “hardening.” A toughness. A resistance. A stickiness.

Yet the hard stuff for me has inevitably held the most magic as well. When I touch it, I touch the overwhelming, earth shattering joy that is its flipside. The joy rests in the slipstream of the timeless moment. The moment that is always Now. The grief rests in my attachment to what was or what I think should have been.

And there is room for all of it.

Somewhere in between. Where the rivers meet.
Both and.
All of that. And more.

Grief is the death of a loved one. Expected or unexpected. Grief is the loss of a job or a home. Grief is a child leaving home. Grief is hardship in health and body. Grief is in our helplessness as we witness suffering of our children and our loved ones and our world. Grief is not making a home cooked dinner when we are sure that is what our family most needs. Grief is not being able to “do it all” in the way we envision.

Grief is the past not going how we thought it would. Grief is the future not going how we thought it should.

Grief is wrapped into all of this. Big and small. It is a visitor that reminds us of our choice in this matter of life. It is a visitor that kicks us in our bum and says, “Choose wisely.” Grief is Big Love waiting to catch us when we let go into the fall.

On this Saturday, December 21st, I’ll provide a virtual gathering room on Zoom in which any and all are welcome. We will move a bit in a short all levels practice (beginners welcome) and then we will sit with each other. We will listen to one another. We will see one another.

Please know that I am not an active social media person. Instead, I ask you to honor any niggling feeling and to forward this to anyone who comes to mind as needing it. Do not ignore that wise and quiet whispering.

Saturday, December 21st
1:30-3:00pm Eastern Time
Remembering: From Grief to Gratitude
A Virtual All levels Yoga Practice & Share Session
Link will open 15 minutes prior to start time:
https://zoom.us/j/9665363832
Needed: A chair, a comfy blanket, & a warm beverage
Suggested action: A donation to a charity of your choice in honor of your grief

We will speak to and of something bigger than our grief. Memory weaved with Now. Hard weaved with heal. Close in weaved with coming out.

We all have pain. We all have joy. And our deepest connection and sense of belonging is built in the trenches of shared hard and joy. As the soldiers in the trenches, as the rebuilders following tornados, as the mourners side by side after loss. As the humans in joy and sadness.

May we gather and Be all that we are. No shame. No remorse. No apologies for our stumbling splendor.

I send my gratitude and deep joy for your eyes on these words.
I hope to see you soon.

Take good care,
Rachel

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