radical acceptance

About five weeks ago, while I was in Italy studying with my yoga teacher, I got a phone call from my brother. My biological father, who I hadn’t spoken to in three years, was dying of cancer. He had never met my daughter, his only grandchild, and I had not seen him in about ten years. I did not meet him or know where he was until I was 10 years old. There is, as you can imagine, much more to this story.

I hung up with my brother and wept.

Two days later, Peter, my father, heard the voice of my daughter, his granddaughter, for the very first time. I asked him if he wanted to meet her. Through tears, over the phone, he expressed how wonderful that could be.

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I have decided to start being more honest about my life in writing. Before I was a mother and a wife, I was fairly open about the challenges I faced, and wrote about much of it freely. Since moving to Switzerland, which places quite a premium on privacy and silence, my writing and public sharing has become increasingly scarce and hushed. Certainly, that has been affected also by the privacy I wish for my daughter and family, as well as the very real strains on time that I have found in motherhood. However, as I review the past three years, it is clear that my silence has been largely dominated by my immigration to a place that has, despite my best efforts, never felt like home.

Maybe it is because I turn 40 this week. Maybe it is because I am faced with the mortality of my own father, and have come face to face once again with the fleeting, wondrous and unapologetic nature of life. Maybe it is because I have finally simultaneously accepted and reached my limit in the struggles I have borne quietly here in beautiful, idyllic Switzerland. Or that I have both accepted and reached my limit on the abuses I bear from certain family members or colleagues. For all of these reasons, I feel called to share; as a purge, as a potential connection to others who might read, as a basic trait of my own humanity… and most importantly for me at this time, as a clear mark of my process of acceptance and forgiveness.

These two active states of being, acceptance and forgiveness, go hand in hand, as they are deeply connected with the process of loosening our grip on what we want now and what we wanted in the past. They radically alter our need to be right or to be safe. They shift our perception from dream-state to pure presence. Acceptance moves us from fear and clinging. Forgiveness places us in the seat of our heart and out of our stranglehold on the past.

~

Within two weeks of my brother’s phone call, I was sitting at my father’s bedside, holding his hand and tenderly laying aside years of my own suffering to share in what has always amounted to a profound connection. It was maybe the most intense and radical process of acceptance and forgiveness I have ever encountered. He met my my daughter, his granddaughter. We wept and laughed and shared our hearts.

This process continues to tenderize my heart and break me wide open. It has proven to me how strong and resilient I am, as much as it has brought me to my knees.

My old anger sifts through my heart like sand in a sieve, and I am left with the shells and beach glass of grief and sadness… but also those of joy and wonder and connection.

I wade in the tides and collect the beauties, only to set them free to the ocean again.

Reverse Namaskar - step by step

Reverse Namaskar - step by step

I wanted to share the how and why for this sequence... I hope it inspires and contributes to your own process! 

As I said on Instagram, suryanamaskara A is so ubiquitous. I have loved practicing it in my years but I also found teaching it leaves me feeling unsatisfied and not up to my own standards. So often as I look around a class, I see people approaching self-aggression, checking out, and either not paying attention or not knowing exactly where to place their attention. In many ways, the sequence allows for one to move into a flow state of sorts, but it also has some problem areas; the most prominent being the jump back to chaturanga and the step or jump forward. I readily admit I love both of those transitions, but so often in my own practice they have been like a little point of added inner competition that didn't feel necessary anymore. I have wanted to change the script and have been working on several namaskars that do just that. 

So one of those I came up with is Reverse Namaskar. 

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navigating, resurfacing

navigating, resurfacing

Yoga is not a practice of navigating the light. It is a practice of life, which means that it cocoons us in as much presence as we can handle, whether we are soaring in the skies or are so wrought with sorrow that we cannot move off of the floor. It gives us tools, should we choose to use them, to look directly at our joy and suffering, and to attempt to make choices that give us the opportunity to let go and let in whatever it is we are experiencing. Yoga and movement and breath and meditation have, throughout these last years, given me the space to see myself clearly, even when that vision was painful to witness. And in the depths of the dark waters in which I often found myself, that space and insight ultimately gave me permission to keep moving forward and to do what was necessary to take care of my self, my spirit, and therefore my family and all that I love. 

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