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Conversations With a Spider

For the past couple of years I have spent two hours, one Friday per month, in a Spiritual Direction Group. There are four of us in this little band of contemplatives, led by Nancy, our Spiritual Director. Each month we have a short experience, followed by silence, reflection, response, prayer, and more silence. It is one of the most enriching aspects of my life, and it has brought me great joy and insights.  

 

On one of our first gatherings, Nancy gave us the instructions to head out into nature on her beautiful property, find a place that seems to be calling you to come sit, and do just that. Sit, look around, and see what is there for you.  Listen, without expectations. It’s called Wilderness Contemplation. 

 

I love an assignment like this because you can’t possibly do it wrong, and it leaves a lot open to interpretation.  I get to be as woo-woo and magical as I want, no judgment.  So on this day, naturally I had a conversation...

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Out of Your Head and Into Your Heart

heart meditation peace retreat Oct 18, 2022

I’ve been home from a wonderful trip to Tuscany for a few days now, and my memories are already nourishing me and giving me reasons to reflect.  If you were to ask me if the trip were for business or pleasure, I’d have to say, “Yes! Both!”  The first week I was there I had the extraordinary privilege of attending a NOVA Women’s Leadership retreat, followed by four days with Nick sightseeing and driving through some of the most breathtaking vistas on Earth.  

 

This retreat came at the perfect time.  I, like so many others, have been in a state of wondering, “What’s next?” As the world has opened up again, so have our options.  And now, rather than quick pivots and reactions to studios closing or pandemics forcing us online, we get to think about and plan whatever is to come.  

 

But when there’s all the options, it can be harder to narrow things down! 

 

Lately, this has...

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When Props Expire

I was recently giving my indoor plants some TLC, which had me looking at Georgia's amazing growth, and there was a little surprise waiting for me.  (Georgia is the fiddle fig tree that appears in all my online videos.) Since I received her back in 2020, she has had two sticks and a post to support her and help her stay standing.  I went to check these support sticks, and realized they were completely loose and unnecessary! I don't know when she made the transition from wobbly to strong, but there she is, able to hold herself high. 

 

I know tons of slow and tedious growth happens while we think there's nothing going on, but this seemed like a lot. It got me thinking, where else have I experienced growth that was so slow and quiet it went unnoticed?  Where can I let go of some unneeded support that was once a helpful crutch but is no longer necessary?

 

I see this happen all the time in yoga classes.  Students who, when they started yoga, needed a...

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Leave a Hollow Space

Don't you love it when an opportunity to rethink, reimagine, or reconsider something mundane presents itself to you? Just last week in Online Yoga Membership (OYM) we did just that with something we yogis do so very often that it can start to lose the fullness of its meaning: Anjali mudra, or palms together at the heart. (See! It's so common and accepted it's an emoji!)

 

Bringing palms together at the heart is an ancient gesture of greeting and respect in Eastern cultures, and it has Western connotations of prayer. In yoga classes it often used at the beginning and end of class, as well as in some yoga poses throughout the practice. It is frequently paired with namaste, which is an acknowledgement of the Divinity in all, or as I was taught and will often say, "The light in me, bows to the light in you."   Anjali means "offering." 

 

But how much have you thought about the subtleties that can be found in this simple mudra?

 

Try it this way, and see...

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Laugh and Release!

funny grief laugh release Sep 06, 2022

You've heard the old saying, "Laughter is the best medicine," right?  Well this is SO TRUE to my experience. 

 

August 30 was a very sad day in the Goulding house. My mom's beloved boyfriend of 5 years was laid to rest.  I traveled to Houston for the ceremony and burial.  Our family, friends, and in-laws all gathered together to say goodbye and support my mom in this, her third, partner loss.  Our hearts were tight and jaws were tense, to say the least.

 

Between the funeral and the burial there was some time to pass, which we did at a local restaurant.  This is when I learned something about my brother that sent me into a laughing fit like I have never had before!  

 

While his wife was scrolling the photos in his phone looking for the one she wanted to share with us, she casually said, "You have a lot of pictures of your alarm in here."  

 

I'm sorry--what??

 

 

This little window into Whit's...

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Hatha vs Hatha Flow: What's the difference?

When someone asks you what you do for a living, do you have a good answer? Believe it or not, I get a little stymied. It usually goes something like this:

"What do you do?"

"I teach yoga."

"Really! What kind?"

At this point I kinda just stare and blink and try to come up with a decent answer that doesn't require a whole explanation! The best description I've been able to come up with is "alignment-based, contemplative, and therapeutic yoga."

Then it's their time to stare and blink a little bit.

 

Usually people know the word Hatha, which is my more succinct default answer. But after teaching for nearly 20 years, it's a lot more than that!

So as I was sitting down to describe the classes that are in the FREE Virtual Open House, I thought it was a good time to lay out the differences a little bit, especially between Hatha and Hatha Flow (both of which are in the Online Yoga Membership, or OYM).

I'd say the difference isn't always clear. Perhaps the answer lies in the...

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You Are Never Stuck

Well, it's finally here. For many parents, grandparents, caretakers, teachers, administrators, guardians, and students young and old, it's back to school. In the Goulding house, this meant a big change.

 

In case you don't know my brood, I have two high schoolers: Havia (sophomore) and Nate (junior). They have had a long and winding road in the education arena, as they have been home schooled, co-schooled, charter schooled, and now public schooled.  We have adapted their school choice to reflect the needs and values of our family at that moment in our lives, and it's been a really great journey.  

 

So it wasn't incredibly surprising that Nate decided to change schools this year.  His talents are emerging in the area of global history and economics, and he wanted to go to a school that focuses on that.  But to change at junior year!  

 

I could see the apprehension this morning.

 

So I had three things to tell him before he...

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Community is Life Support

When you hear the word community, what is your response? Does it call to mind great friends?  Positive organizations? Unwanted drama? Overcommitment? Refuge? Anxiety? Neutrality? Likely it depends on the group, and more than one of these often applies. 

 

But here's the thing: Community is necessary for our health and well-being.

 

When I was training to be a Yoga TherapistI was surprised to find out that this is one of the components of a new client intake.  Regardless of the reason for requesting a session, part of our conversation is about the client's connection to community.  This is considered an important piece of the puzzle when working towards systemic balance, happiness, and a long life.  

 

In the yogic pancha maya kosha model, we are made of five layers, or sheaths: body, energy, mind, personality, and spirit.  (Different lineages express this differently, but the overall ideas...

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Words of Wisdom from a Stoic

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Seek Bliss for Summer Fun!

Uncategorized Jul 12, 2022

I'm back from a wonderful week with my family at Lake Okoboji, Iowa, our personal definition of heaven.  I had a chance to let stress melt away and lightheartedness seep in.  I read two novels, deepened my tan, and laughed a lot.  It was just what the doctor ordered for this halfway mark in the year.  

 

I realize the outer world didn't disappear while I was in my vacation cocoon, but where I placed my attention changed and I felt the effects all week. This reminded me of what I was talking about at the start of my June 9 class in Hatha, so if you'll indulge me, I'll share the intention-setting from that class with you here: 

 

"It's a tough time to open the newspapers and look around. One could easily get dismayed or feel frustrated at the least, depressed at the most.

But here's the thing: we get to choose where we put our attention.  This is not spiritual bypassing. This is actively using our mind in a positive direction.  Where...

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