Wednesday, January 21, 2015

connected and addicted

yogi  tears
and the sound of ujaii breath
conferring ecstatic silence
behind  prison walls
that smell like home
and maybe urine
to practice
and preach
human connection

taking up my own cross
embracing my own

asana led in the halfway house
only to find
the weekend sluts
and the greedy druggie
look like me
mirror gazing
at the inner
the one jesus loved

so they sit
in lotus
all satisfied

a woman
chin in hand
she knows more than she'll ever understand
getting high, drunk and horny
each night
it's the same

and each morning we salute the sun
praying to a god
who might crucify our minds
and prostitute our loss
making us weak

with repetition
and a fistful of


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Living life on the Inhale

So which one are you?

An     I N H A L E R
an  E X H A L E R

For approximately 45 years I was an inhaler. I often desired what is not meant for me.  I did not always know this about myself. It's the journey of a lifetime to really and truly know yourself fully isn't it?  I had plenty of negative words bouncing around in my head to describe being an Inhaler.
  • Self-absorbed
  • Selfish
  • Stingy/frugal/cheap
  • Egotistical
These are ugly, horrid words that no one in their right mind would readily admit to. But here I am on the 4th day of a new year saying not only did I identify with them but they were often quite accurate. How can I be so certain and so honest about the dark, false side of my nature?  Because by the grace of GOD, I have come to be grounded in the TRUE nature of my being more and more often.

Once I recognized who I was NOT, I found an enormous amount of peace. Once I tasted this PEACE as within my power to remain, it became my intent to protect and enjoy it above all else.

John 14:27 in the NLV states 'I am leaving you with a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid."

When you are an I N H A L E R, you are very troubled and afraid. You are literally gasping for life like it's your last breath. And when you are in fight or flight mode you are panic-stricken by the idea of just LETTING GO.  If I was really honest, I could occasionally admit to being a control freak. And yet, faking control is an unhealthy and immature step on our way to individuation or self-realization.

Without a daily stress-reduction practice  we are in this mode much of the time. The body may be trying to communicate and may manifest in physical ailments like anxiety, IBS, auto-immune disorders, depression, eating disorders among many other symptoms .

Gratefully, I have been practicing yoga and meditation daily for over two years now and can identify with the steadfast, eternal nature of LOVE alive in my heart. I have gone on a journey inward toward the peace the wold cannot give.  There are many names for this: Christ consciousness, Buddha nature, Highest Self, Inner Light, presence. Once we know who we really are (and not just in our mind), but experiencing as an embodied wisdom, we can look non-judgmentally at who we are not. We can genuinely repent for who we are NOT. This means we find ourselves humbled with the full knowledge of our need for salvation by Grace and not our works.

In John 9, Jesus tells us he came to give the blind sight. I can only see my own darkness through the forgiving lens of light in Jesus' eyes.  When I, feeling alone and disconnected, attempt to view my sinful nature, I only end up depressed and irritable.  Real repentance is about CHANGE and TRANSFORMATION.  

In her Advent message, Nadia Bolz-Weber said, 'I cannot remain unchanged and expect to have an impact on this broken world.'  Enter the Eastern wisdom traditions instructing us to practice mindfulness.

Alan Watts' book The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety, argues 'The root of our human frustration and daily anxiety is our tendency to live for the future or remain stuck in the past.  What keeps us from happiness is our inability to fully inhabit the present moment.'  
The practice of paying attention to the breath  transforms me, it continues to liberate me from my suffering. It helps me to finally and fully: EXHALE.  

Try it out right now. Full belly inhale to the top of the collarbones to a count of 5. Empty out until the belly contracts for 5. Inhale in all four directions of the torso, not just front and back but side to side. Release the breath pulling the belly to the spine.  
I suspect the EXHALERS out there have their issues too; maybe with accepting love, help, fullness of joy and aliveness. You might give till it hurts, leaving yourself spent and depleted.  Try focusing on expanding with new, fresh breath. We can experience rebirth with our very next breath, becoming a new creation!
In the 4th century, St. Gregory of Nyssa wrote, “What was achieved in the body of Mary will happen in the soul of everyone who receives the Word.” The Word became living breathing flesh! In John 22 we hear, 'He breathed on them and gave them the Holy Spirit.'  Let us find balance as we inhale LIFE/Spirit/Incarnation and exhale tension, desire, attachment and expectation.  The first step to allowing more LIGHT and LOVE in is to surrender and make plenty of room.
Breathing lessons (app) by Carla Ardito recommended

Saturday, January 3, 2015


I find the Buddhist concept of non-attachment or no preference  fascinating.  While I would like to share my experience of being in Buddha mind, what I recognize is that there remains a subtle desire to stay in Buddha mind. This in and of itself is a sneaky form of desire.

The setting:  a holiday party where family and friends are laughing light-heartedly and I observe more than participate.  The next morning on a walk through the woods with my Golden, I sense the tears building. The energy in the world on what a few days before Christmas feels heavy and occupies an unhealthy place in my brain.  I am confident the cold air and wooded stillness will be the perfect cure.

I breathe and trust the full, emptying exhales.

Ahhh, here it is:  I am envying their laughter and I wonder why some of my days are filled with more tears than laughter. Then I think of the women at the FDC downtown in a high-rise where I volunteer teaching yoga and how sad I feel when I contemplate their inability to participate in nature's healing.  I begin to step on the fallen leaves and say, "With each step my feet kiss the earth in honor and reverence on your behalf."

And then I picture them one by one. The tears are raging now and I hear in my spirit, "They are the same you know: Joy and sadness.  Have no preference because deep emotion brings aliveness."

My ego would just love for me to write about this insight and have it published in a national magazine. Yet there is a subtler message that the world needs to know-- an ordinary mom and wife in South Jersey can find equanimity through daily practice.

Flashback December 23rd 2011: I'm in the Best Buy parking lot and I am having a breakdown (AKA break through!!).    I call my gynecologist because I don't have a therapist and I practically beg her to prescribe something, anything for the pain of being me.  She declines and suggests it is  hormones and holiday overwhelm and I will feel better soon.

I couldn't stand myself any longer-- the mood swings, angry outbursts, and control issues were bad enough but the dark emptiness was threatening to drown me.

I, like so many others, had experienced a childhood wound that required tending but I never knew how harmfully it was impacting my life's choices. I was blind to it.  Mindfulness and deepening Presence imparted new eyes to see.  I had been abandoned at birth by my father and he denies me to this day.  Some days feel like I'm being re-abandoned.

Most days I live with gratitude and wonder for this precious life.

Most days I have a deep TRUST in the goodness of the universe and faith that all will work together for our good.

I have found that sitting in centering prayer meditation has created the space and stillness for God's love and compassion to transform what was ugly into something very beautiful.  He uses the pain as raw material for HIS divine alchemy:  like turing lead to GOLD.

What absolutely is not helpful? Judgment and shame.

Each time one of those feelings or thoughts arises we notice them, say thank you and B R E A T HE. It is in this space we allow  LOVE to arise.

I am grateful that my wildly- beating heart is smiling a genuine smile.  There resides in me a tenderness and compassion for all and a connection to God's beautiful mystery. A lie about separation has been perpetuated.  This work and transformation needs to begin inside where all is interconnected.

Maybe you can identify where you are still holding onto a "story or grudge or victim" mentality?

I now feel more like the real me: which feels like freedom...or like a canary singing just because she has a song.

Mindfulness practices have deepened my faith and now I am blessed to share my unique gifts with others, journeying together on this beautiful path full of twists and turns, yet finding the treasure at each juncture.  May 2015 bring you deep awareness of the preciousness of life and may you THRIVE!!!!