But in the last year of deep introspection and hundreds of hours of self-practice and self-reckoning, I have reached another conclusion. I cannot ignore the magic. it is written in the folds of each breath, every clear moment of attention, every careful and beautiful and compassionate action carried out in the name of yoga or meditation or mindfulness. It is the very reason why I continue to share this work. It moves me at my essence because it is, by its nature, founded in a profound exploration of who we all are. It is founded in magic.Read More
I choose to be a mother who works. I choose to be a worker who mothers. It makes me feel whole and deeply purposeful to offer my talents to others, to help other people feel good in their bodies and hearts and minds. The exorbitant cost of childcare that we are able to afford is worth that to me, but the difficulties and the “either/or” scenario that this world gives me and other women like me is not fair or ok. It should not be this difficult for a mother, for a woman, for anyone, to mother and WORK.. so that she can build the HOME she so wishes for her familyRead More
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.
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.
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.Read More
New Year's has come and gone... and while I (and some others I have spoken to) have some pretty exciting things in store for 2018, it is no secret that 2017 was a really tough year on a lot of levels. Like many of you who have Instagram, I saw all the "top nines" rolling through as the year closed. At one point, I ventured over to make my own, but I never ended up sharing, as it didn't necessarily speak to anything "top" in my own world... but then I caught the blog post of an IDP sangha friend, Robin Anderson, with the same title, and it woke me up to reflect on the amazing things I did get to experience last year. Robin was inspired by the post of a writer she follows, and I am similarly inspired by her. Maybe someone else will follow suit in their own way from this post.
Flecked like stars in the night, here are nine life-changing, soul-touching experiences that shaped me in 2017.Read More
For a period of my life, the yoga postures served me well. I grew through them and they offered healing to my wrecked dancer's body for a time. But then, as many of us do, I allowed the postures to guide my physicality and I ultimately suffered because of that. You could see photos of me in postures or practice next to me in class and think, "wow she is strong and flexible". The problem was that I unwittingly pushed myself to be strong and flexible only in the places the poses required and in the end this was not balanced or wholesome, no matter how much alignment and breath and safe sequencing I applied.
When I was in my final months of pregnancy and just afterward, my body was pulled apart where it was weak and disconnected. I am not alone in this experience and it definitely doesn't just happen to pregnant yoga practitioners, although the elevated levels of relaxin in the body along with the increased abdominal pressure certainly enabled this to worsen quickly. Through the process of reconstructing myself in the last two years and working with many other students who I believe have been harmed by yoga, I have realized how insufficient the posturing, and more specifically how insufficient so much of the instruction in this work is.
I am not saying the postures do not contain insights, for they do, endlessly. I am simply saying that they are not enough by themselves. We have to keep looking beyond, beneath, inside and through them. The postures are patterns we set into bodies that already contain their own patterns, imbalances, incongruencies, imperfections and deeply individual insights. How can we not take the individual into consideration as we apply them? Alignment, as we may witness in some forms of yoga, takes us only so far on a personal level before it causes us to become rigid. Geometry certainly has its merits and beauty in certain yoga styles, but it doesn't break down or build up everything; it doesn't give space for all of the organic nuance and multitudes of asymmetry, in my experience. Flow is wonderful for moving without overthinking but it falls short in the realm of detail and precision, no matter how clear instructions may be. Breath work and opening pranic pathways means nothing if the physical structures are not addressed with integrity and after all, what ARE pranic pathways? What does that actually mean?Read More