It has recently come to our attention that our dog is afraid of...we don't know what exactly. Seemingly from out of nowhere, Lila (pronounced Lee-la) won't go in Nick's office here at home. She stands at the threshold and waits, even play-challenges, for him to come out so she can see him. But she won't go all the way in. This is strange behavior.
There's a certain place on the entry floor that distresses her. So I picked her up and brought her all the way into the office. Once in, she was fine! She checked the activity on the balcony and sat down on the rug. Totally normal behavior.
We walked out of the office and called her to the hallway. She acted as if there's an invisible wall or force field that she doesn't want to cross! She hunched down, sniffed all over the area, and carefully, carefully, made her way to the other side of whatever it is. Then she was fine and ready to...
There's some good stuff happening in Chakra Savvy: Reset Your Life Game Plan right now, and I wanted to let you in a bit. We are focusing on the fifth chakra, or the area of the neck, throat, and upper shoulders. This is the energetic bottleneck between our ideas and manifesting them in the world. It's also the bottleneck between our feeling and emotions, felt in the lower chakras, and our ability to speak, them, understand them, and gain insight from them, which is the work of the upper chakras. No wonder we get tight! There can be quite an internal traffic jam. And with all the digital devices we use and driving we do, which tends to pull and tighten our necks and shoulders, we need to do some good stretches on the daily. (If you want to check out your work space ergonomics and make sure you're set up for success, try my YouTube video Work Space Healthy Habits.)
It doesn't even have to be a long or complicated yoga sequence.
Is it just me, or does it seem like there’s no woo-hoo! anymore? One of my dearest friends was back in town recently, and this was one of our first topics of conversation. She is someone I used to woo-hoo! with. I mean girls night out, dancing on bars on 6th Street, house parties ‘til 3am kind of woo-hoo! (By the way, please read woo-hoo! like a cowboy swinging his hat around his head with a full blown Texas accent.)
Maybe it’s post-pandemic, maybe it’s maturity. Or maybe it’s that those things that used to make me want to shout woo-hoo! just don’t sound as fun as they used to. It’s not like I’ve become introverted or don’t love a good party. It’s that now I crave depth over thrills and connection over sensation. I think this is one of the side effects of yoga, once again.
Joy doesn’t look like it used to.
After contemplating this in my morning meditation,...
I once heard, from someone who made a study of trees, that the Live Oak trees here in Austin don’t just drop their leaves. The old leaves are pushed out by the new ones.
These days when you look around our current landscape here in the capitol city you will see masses of brown leaves on the ground, on rooftops, in truck beds, and in your hammock. It’s kind of a strange sight, considering we are busting out in springtime colors everywhere else. It’s like a mixing of death and life, old ways and new plans, last year and this. But it’s that pushing that has me thinking.
When you’re in the transformation game, as we are as soon as we step on the yoga mat, these anomalies that Nature displays provide an opportunity for self-study and personal reflection. So in case you haven’t guessed where I’m going with this, I’ll ask you a few questions as if you are an Austin oak tree:
“You have earned this spot. You are worthy. You are a great American.”
These are the words of Senator Cory Booker as he was addressing now Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson on the third day of her confirmation hearings. His impassioned speech brought joy and tears to the hearts of many, including Justice Jackson. What he did was speak a truth into her that I imagine she needed to hear. And judging from her response, her whole being needed to hear it. She needed that truth to come in, settle in, and take the lead.
What he gave her were affirmations, or, in yoga terms, sankalpa. These short phrases speak against our negative or self-sabotaging thought patterns and replace them with thoughts that uplift, encourage, and affirm the truth of our life and who we are. They can feel like wishful thinking, but to the mind they are just as real as reality. (This is why you can cry at movies and have empathy with fictional...
I don't know about you, but for me, time is starting to feel compressed. Like there's a lot to fit into a 24 hour period or a seven-day week. And when I start to feel that compression, what I've realized is that what I need is inner spaciousness.
To get this feeling of inner spaciousness, start by doing all you can do about the outer world, like removing things from the calendar or reducing commitments as much as possible. From there, try these things:
This week you are in for a treat! My friend and Walking with Divine Feminine partner, Nancy Herlin, has written a beautiful personal piece about what the practice of labyrinth walking is and and what it means to her. Please enjoy, and join us April 9.
When people find out that I have a labyrinth and walk it regularly as one of my spiritual practices, I find most don’t know what to say. Many confuse it with a maze, but unlike a maze, a labyrinth has only one path in and out, and isn’t designed to get you lost. Some excitedly recount their own stories of time spent in a labyrinth. Others are curious about how a walking meditation tool can help them access their own inner knowing and enhance their relationship with God.
What is a labyrinth? It is an ancient symbol and usually outdoor space used as a metaphor for our own spiritual journey. There are many uses for a labyrinth. Some use a labyrinth as a walking meditation tool to pause and slow...
One thing I delighted in was reading on the beach every morning. What a luxury! In preparation for Walking With Divine Feminine, Teresa of Ávila, I read The Interior Castle, written by Teresa (1515-1582) and translated by Mirabai Starr in 2003. This book sang to me! It's a long explanatory metaphor comparing our inner landscape to a castle:
"It came to me that the soul is like a castle made exclusively of diamond or some other very clear crystal. In this castle are a multitude of dwellings, just as in heaven there are many mansions." ...
Today as I sat to meditate, I was so hungry. My stomach was growling. My blood sugar was low. I thought about abandoning my meditation and go make some breakfast! Delicious soft boiled eggs kept floating across the backs of my eyelids, tempting me to leave my mat.
Then I remembered the teachings of Richard Rohr and Pema Chödrön. This hunger I felt was a universal feeling. Every human has been hungry at some point in their lives. And some are hungry all the time.
I have never really known hunger. The long-lasting hunger that comes from a long-term lack of food and nutrition. So I can bear these tummy rumbles. I can understand the hunger of humanity better if I sit with my individual hunger. I move my sense of hunger from myself out into the world and it becomes a prayer. How else can a suburban, middle class, white woman relate to this suffering? I've never been hungry...
Why, you may ask, do I want to do yoga about Mary Magdalene?
Because to me, she is the rest of the story.
Growing up in the Christian church meant inheriting a spirituality and faith that was very yang, or masculine. I saw at the pulpit men telling us what mostly men said and did many years ago and how and why it matters now. This was enough for me...until I saw another way.
My yoga teachers were women. Wise women. They related all matter of heart-based concepts to our bodies. We didn't just learn stories and study the way to live. We placed it on our breath. We drew from our open hearts in meditation. We strengthened our courage as we strengthened our core. We stretched our chest and shoulders along with our capacity for compassion. For me, it was an embodied faith.
Mary Magdalene is the embodiment of faith. She was there the whole time--during Jesus' teaching, throughout his crucifixion, and she...