LIVE MORE.

"Forget safety. Live where you fear to live. Destroy your reputation. Be notorious." – Rumi


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HOW DO I LOVE MYSELF?

The ever kind and wonderful Thich Nat Hahn responds to the question: “How do I Love myself?”

“How do you love yourself?  First of all you breathe in…mindfully. And you become aware that you have a body. Breathing in…I know I have a body. The body is a very important part of yourself. You spend 2 hours with you computer, you are stressful and you don’t know how to stop. And you forget completely that you have a body…in these 2 hours.  You are looking for something in the future, in your work…that’s why your body suffers.  So, the first act of love is to breathe in and to go home to your body.  Breathing, I know I have a body.  Hello body, I’m home. I’ll take care of you. So, to be aware of body is the beginning of love.”


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EXHAUSTION

When I am feeling thin, exhausted, less than interesting in engaging in the visible world – I look to both nature and poetry to rekindle my inner fire and remind me how precious and brief this life experience is…to receive both the joy, the challenge and the mystery.  Poetry carries all the layers of life for me.  Simplicity and complexity – rawness and refinement.  David Whyte’s words continue to be a touchstone – he speaks here about Exhaustion, which so many of us feel from time to time.  Exhaustion is felt in the physical, but cuts so much deeper than the tissue. We need to include both – both tissue and soul.

 

Crossing the Unknown Sea (excerpt)
by David Whyte

You have ripened already, and you are waiting to be brought in. Your exhaustion is a form of inner fermentation. You are beginning, ever so slowly to rot on the vine.

The dark bottle stood there in preparation for a guest I would be seeing that night. I dropped into a chair and looked at the unopened bottle and the sea and the sky for a very long time. I could feel how utterly exhausted I was in body and spirit, and how much I needed to talk with someone, anyone, but also how marvelous it was that the person arriving to share that bottle had exactly the kind of perspectives I needed at that moment.

I could see Brother David already in my mind’s eye, sitting across from me with the glass of wine in front of him on the coffee table. A book of Rilke’s poetry balanced on his knees. He was reciting Rilke in his rich, Austrian inflection, the sounds emanating not only from deep within his body but also from far inside some powerful understanding mediated by long years of silence and prayer, Brother David was my kind of monk; no stranger to silence but equally at home in the robust world of work, its words, and its meanings. He also loved poetry with a passion similar to my own, and exhibited a far-reaching intellect and a far-reaching imagination in its exploration. You might be impressed by his extraordinary capacity for compassion, but it did not mean he would let any unthinking assertion pass him by without a challenge or a clarification.

A few hours later, Brother David was indeed sitting in that empty chair. The bottle framed by darkness now in the window, and the cork sitting next to it. He was turning the pages of the Rilke book with one hand and sipping from his glass with the other. I had a second copy of the book but it sat on my lap unopened. After the first sip of cabernet, I felt as if I was in a deep well of fatigue looking up toward a tiny ellipse of light flickering at the surface. I felt as if the tiny light might disappear altogether and the waters flow over me if I didn’t say something soon. I looked at Brother David, whose eyes had just lit up with the discovery of a poem to begin our evening, and heard him begin to read.

Diese Mühsal, durch noch Ungetanes
schwer und wie gebunden hinzugehn,
gleicht dem ugeschaffnenGang des Schwanes.

I found the poem in my own book and read, on the opposing page, Robert Bly’s marvelous translation.

This clumsy living that moves lumbering
as if in ropes through what is not done,
reminds us of the awkward way the swan walks.

And to die, which is the letting go
of the ground we stand on and cling to every day,
is like the swan, when he nervously lets himself down
into the water, which receives him gaily
and which flows joyfully under
and after him, wave after wave,
while the swan, unmoving and marvelously calm,
is pleased to be carried, each moment more fully grown,
more like a king, further and further on.

-Translated by Robert Bly

Keep reading….

http://www.gratefulness.org/readings/whyte_dsr.htm

 


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WHERE IS YOUR ATTENTION?

I find myself both resisting and embracing the daily dump of media that fills my electronic world. The endless articles, blogs and videos positioned to give me that “ah-ha!” moment feels like more distraction and manipulation than useful information.

In spite of my internal debate, I still keep moderately connected and sift through the noise to find some pretty great research and writing happening amidst the soup.  Sydney sent me this article on external vs. internal attention, from Scientific American…anyone who has worked with me knows that I believe our most powerful resource is our ability to focus our attention, partner this with the most powerful force in the Universe, our intention, and as Sylvia would say – its Real Magic.

Decoding the Body Watcher

The brain uses a fundamentally different circuit for paying attention to the internal world, and this could have important implications for stress and mental illness.
Apr 3, 2012 |By Emma Seppala
What’s the difference between noticing the rapid beat of a popular song on the radio and noticing the rapid rate of your heart when you see your crush? Between noticing the smell of fresh baked bread and noticing that you’re out of breath? Both require attention. However, the direction of that attention differs: it is either turned outward, as in the case of noticing a stop sign or a tap on your shoulder, or turned inward, as in the case of feeling full or feeling love.

Scientists have long held that attention – regardless to what – involves mostly the prefrontal cortex, that frontal region of the brain responsible for complex thought and unique to humans and advanced mammals. A recent study by Norman Farb from the University of Toronto published in Cerebral Cortex, however, suggests a radically new view: there are different ways of paying attention. While the prefrontal cortex may indeed be specialized for attending to external information, older and more buried parts of the brain including the “insula” and “posterior cingulate cortex” appear to be specialized in observing our internal landscape.

Read the entire article here:

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/decoding-body-watcher/


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Restoring the Body: Bessel van der Kolk on Yoga, EMDR, and Treating Trauma

Great podcast from On Being with Krista Tippett:

http://www.onbeing.org/program/restoring-the-body-bessel-van-der-kolk-on-yoga-emdr-and-treating-trauma/5801

Human memory is a sensory experience says psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk. Through his longtime research and innovation in trauma treatment, he shares what he’s learning how bodywork like yoga or eye movement therapy can restore a sense of goodness and safety. And what he’s learning speaks to a resilience we can all cultivate in the face of the overwhelming events that after all make up the drama of culture, of news, of life.


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KEEPING IT SIMPLE.

I was facilitating a breathwork class this past weekend and was reminded…

We are brilliant.  We are powerful.  We are a bio-mechanical expression of spirit in motion, possible of radical transformation at any moment.

This being of ours (body, consciousness and spirit) is both simple and intelligent beyond comprehension. Instinctively seeking homeostasis, this creative balancing act is our natural state.  From eating breakfast to witnessing the death of a loved one, our beings are wired to move, pulsate, metabolize and digest every experience – with and without our conscious attention.  This ability to process and digest allows us to not only exist within polarity and paradox, but to assimilate, thrive and witness the beauty and breadth of it all.

And yet…even with this natural ability to keep energy moving, to keep life force moving – why do we perpetuate an experience of life that is more difficult than need be?  If our natural state is spacious, why do we instinctively contract, react and “get stuck” under stress? Contraction serves a primal protective purpose and certainly a balanced response contains both contraction and expansion, but we tend to hunker down within a psycho, mental, physical, emotional contractile loop, preferring the seeming safety of closing to the vulnerability of opening.  This steady stream of conscious and more often, unconscious, mental fears, angst and doubt then take root within our tissues as palpable feelings of pain, stiffness, congestion, anxiety, numbness and more.  This is a very real experience with very real health implications.

In a world that often still reflects a “survival of the fittest” mentality and seemingly rewards strength over softness, assurance over question, it is not surprising that we continue to struggle with questions of safety, identity and inclusion.

I see this struggle played out in the flesh over and over again within myself, my clients and students. The face is tense, the eyes clouded, the muscles guarded, the diaphragm and breath stiff and shallow, the voice hushed and obscured…and as we work together in body and breath – we can interrupt this pattern.  We can interrupt the contraction and remind our beings of our inherent peace, of our inherent spaciousness, of our inherent ability to keep energy moving, to keep emotions moving, to keep the body supple and moving.

Choosing to be aware, to interrupt psycho-mental-emotional patterning, to live authentically, is a life long path of work. And is worthy of larger inquiry than these few thoughts.  But what I can offer is…keep it simple.

I have spent years observing clients profound personal revelations and their quick reactions to change the undesirable pattern. Lasting change comes from consistent practice. Don’t numb out on the idea that Grace can come from a series of small choices as opposed to grand plans. You don’t need me to change you life, you need You to change your life.

Every moment is an opportunity to make a choice of how we treat our bodies and where we place our thoughts and energies. This is work – it takes a non-judgmental willingness to refine our awareness and notice our reactions to interrupt a psycho-emotional-physical pattern. While potentially revelatory, your transformation does not hinge upon a 3-month silent retreat, it can be as simple as the day to day practice of making choices that truly serve your passion and the health of your being.

Simple and consistent daily choices from foods that nourish and support you – to – remembering to breath – to – getting enough rest – to – moving your body on a regular basis - to – hydrating – to – tuning into what is beautiful instead of what is wrong…all of these suggestions are tangible ways to focus your attention toward creating a you that reflects the you that you really want.

 


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FOR THE BEGINNERS & THE PROS…

I love when my clients new to massage and bodywork get curious about the benefits of massage outside of it’s “feel good” status.  I get to wax poetic AND scientific on the multitude of possible positive physical, emotional, mental and spiritual outcomes that can result from a single session.  I am pleased to have found this short, sweet (and VISUAL!) article from the Huffington Post that highlight a few of the benefits of receiving massage:

Massage Benefits: 9 Healthy Reasons To Make An Appointment Today

Great for you newbies and as a reminder for you veterans who have never thought to ask or have forgotten to give yourself some kudos for taking such good care of yourself!

 


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GRACE

“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.” / Now and Then / Frederick Buechner

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