What's in a name, anyway?

Something unexpected happened in this week's Monday Morning Yoga class, and it still has me thinking. Because we are an intimate group, we have time to share our name at the start of every class. I also usually ask a question, like favorite color or vacation place. Inevitably the answers weave themselves into the theme of our class, so it really is a custom made, one-of-a-kind experience. This week I suggested we share first names and whatever else you like! Our first yogini set us up for a great share and others quickly followed.

 

Her name is Rebecca, but her whole life, until age 38, everyone called her Becky. At 38 she decided she liked the name Rebecca much better, and made the switch. From there, we heard so many stories about names! Stephanie legally changed her middle name when she was 13. Sara still has problems traveling because a pesky "h" made it onto her birth certificate, but nowhere else. Agness as a middle name was the dismay of childhood but perfect in...

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3 Ways to Expand Your Capacity to Be Around Other Humans

I hope your Thanksgiving holiday was delightful and fun, with a healthy dose of yum! Ours was lovely–a good balance of family, friends, and good conversation while eating the feast Nick prepared.  (I’m the prep cook and decorator/table setter, which suits me just fine.)  

 

Lucky for me I’m fairly extroverted, which gives me a broad bandwidth for chit chat and the high volume that comes with a room full of people. But I have to admit, my bandwidth has decreased post-Covid. I find myself daydreaming of my jammies way earlier than I did three years ago, and I know it’s not just a natural aging progression.  It’s a nervous system that’s out of shape for marathons of social engagement. 

 

Thankfully, we have tools for this.  I believe we can get back to pre-Covid party tolerance, if that is indeed what we want to do. Either way, I think these three things will help the most in navigating our way back to balance...

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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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What to Do With All That Rage

Well, I imagine like many of you I am ANGRY.  Angry to the point of distraction!  (And if you're not angry, stay with me.  You will be at some point in the future, I'm sure.)  In my morning meditation nothing was helping me get out of my thoughts.  I couldn't get to my centering word. It felt flat and useless.  Like a joke.  There was no taming the rage.  My head was pounding and my blood was boiling--on my mat!! 

 

So I grabbed a rational moment when it came, and I went with what we practice in the good times so they're available in the bad times.  I followed my anger to what so many wise ones have called the "thing behind the thing."

Why was I so very angry? What is behind it?

 

LOVE.

 

Because I love the women who are hurting and scared right now.  Because I love a country that (historically) expands rights as it grows, not takes them away.  Because now I know how to better love anyone in the world who has...

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No More Woo-hoo

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,...

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Your Place of Safety

 
 I am back from Spring Break in Costa Rica, and it was a wonderful trip with plenty of relaxation, adventure, and family fun. I was weirdly happy to see a sloth in his natural habitat, and I found a new fascination with leaf cutter ants.  These creatures amaze me!  I'm sure there's more to discuss on that, but for now suffice it to say, the vacation was a success. 

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." ...

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The Rest of the Story

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...

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Presence and Delight

Bask in the sweetness of life.

Delight in life’s simple pleasures.

Take time to enjoy the good stuff.  

 

How do you respond to these statements?  Do you think, “Who’s got the time for that?” Or perhaps, “The guilt would kill me.”  “That stuff is for other people.” Or “The last time I basked I hurt my back.”   Maybe you’re even asking, “WHAT good stuff?” 

 

We’re going to get into this.  So right now, go get something sweet.  Maybe some leftover Valentine's chocolate or a Girl Scout Cookie. Or maybe something savory, like a tasty olive.  Whatever is in your kitchen (or hidden in your hideaway place) that is a delicious treat for you.  Then I’ll meet you back here…

 

Got something?  Good.  Let’s meditate:

  • Close your eyes and take some deep breaths.  Anchor your mind on your breath and body in the...
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Encountering Inner Resistance

Several months ago I met someone at a little gathering and she just got on my nerves.  I feel like I've already met her many times in my life in other versions, and I'm just not interested in having this person in my circle.  And this might be a totally valid response, or I might be preventing myself from engaging with, or even enjoying, someone new.   So I believe this deserves some inquiry, since that's what we do when we're in the self awareness game.

 

Interestingly, the word "resistance" keeps coming up in conversation these days, so I thought it was time to take a look at this issue from the angle of resistance. The kind of resistance I'm talking about is a sense of pushing back against what you know you should do, what you actually want to do, or to what you have to do.  For example,

  • you have to make a big change in your life because something just isn't working out the way you had hoped.
  • you know you want...
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