yoga off the mat

meeting the enemy

meeting the enemy

Ultimately, as I reflect, the greatest obstacles I have faced in life have molded me in to the person I am. Injuries have made me a clearer and safer teacher, times of financial hardship have given me insight into the value of money and empathy toward others who struggle with it, experience both first and second-hand with depression has gifted me with the ability to hold space for myself and others at their lowest. Moving to a new land where I do not speak the language or understand the cultural nuances gives me a small glimpse into what it feels like to be invisible or powerless. It has also given me a greater appreciation for the ways in which I am incredibly privileged. When I offer gratitude to my challenges, when I meet my "enemies" with thankfulness and compassion, it transforms me. Even if the person or situation is not changed at all, I am. How I see and feel and taste hardship changes. And, in my limited but real experience, it makes a profound difference. 

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Looking Deeply at Our Work

I do realize that we are in a very privileged place if we can contemplate leaving our job for any reason at all. When we contemplate right livelihood I also believe we must contemplate joblessness, unemployment, disability, poverty, famine and war. 

So please feel free to consider the following, but also consider the many many people who are unable to work or provide for themselves or their families at this time. Perhaps when you contemplate your own work you can also offer compassion to those who are unable to work for any reason. 

Right Livelihood pushes us to look at our work and also how we use the money we earn and what kinds of businesses we support with our earnings. Here are a few contemplations on right livelihood.

Does your job fulfill you? Does it inspire and motivate you to show up and be truly present in your work? Is there some other work that calls to your heart? Is there a possibility you could pursue something more in line with your heart's work? 

Does your job create suffering in yourself or others? If so, does it have to? Is that an innate part of the work (like being a butcher or selling guns)? How do you feel about the suffering it creates? Is there another way to direct your energy in a way that enables you to provide for yourself and your family? 

Is your workplace connected to or supporting other organizations that support violence, inequality, hatred or greed? Is there a way you can loosen or sever these ties? 

When we look deeply at right livelihood, we can actually see that there is no way we can remove ourselves completely from violence, inequality, poverty, hatred, war, destruction and greed. Whether it is the company we work for, a stock or savings account tied to a bank, or a brand of clothing or food we buy, so much of what we invest in (with time or money) is connected to unethical practices. We are deeply woven into the fabric of greed and exploitation that encircles this planet. 

In considering Right Livelihood, let us begin by making a commitment to become more aware of the ways in which our livelihood and our money support life and peace and freedom, or how they support injustice and suffering. Let us challenge ourselves to continue to push toward honoring each other and the planet with our work and the way we spend our money. Educate yourself and try to use the time and money you invest in your life to go toward that which sustains life and happiness and health for all. 

 

weekly theme: to hold without grasping

The Bhagavad Gita discusses action without attachment to the fruits of that action. The Yoga Sutras discuss abhyasa and vairagya, practice and non-attachment. The Buddhist literature takes this idea to the next level with the Heart Sutra's dive into the river of interbeing: nothing exists by itself in a vacuum and therefore all of the things we try to hold onto as singular (our opinions, our bodies, our relationships) are impossible to grasp because in some sense, they do not exist - at least not in the very simplified and solid way in which we tend to view them. 

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Teacher-Student Relationships - on the Jiva Lawsuit

I don't have time myself these days as a new mom to write all I feel on this topic, which is a lot. I am impressed and glad to see this written by none other than a Jiva teacher. Clear and succinct - and a good response to the Slate article. Take a look. 

We as teachers must hold ourselves accountable for our actions and fully recognize and respect the seat we hold and how it relates to our students. 

Read more here: https://holliesuemann.com/2016/04/09/thoughts-on-the-teacher-student-relationship/

My Yoga Journal Feature: Why it Doesn't "Break It Down"

My Yoga Journal Feature: Why it Doesn't "Break It Down"

So thank you Yoga Journal! Thanks for highlighting what I am not. I do appreciate the press, but what you depict (especially in the online version) has nothing to do with this work. BUT! it does make me feel like working even harder to share what is in my heart and help people find freedom in their bodies and minds. Thank you!

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Working With Fear, Difference, Other

Working With Fear, Difference, Other

Could our minds and our hearts be big enough just to hang out in that space where we're not entirely certain about who's right and who's wrong? Could we have no agenda when we walk into a room with another person, not know what to say, not make that person wrong or right? Could we see, hear, feel other people as they really are? It is powerful to practice this way, because we'll find ourselves continually rushing around to try to feel secure again - to make ourselves or them either right or wrong. But true communication can only happen in that open space. 

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