Friday, July 29, 2016

Westboro Baptist, Eye-Gazing + #demsinPhilly

Why would a Christian Yogi Mama head into Philadelphia amidst the crowds of Bernie or Bust supporters carrying her hand-made sign displaying–
We are already connected
Look into my eyes and see
Well, not to face down  the infamous, vemon-spewing  cult, Westboro Baptist, that’s for certain. But when I found myself in 93 degree sweltering heat, it was nothing compared to the hellfire and damnation being shouted from the guy with the mic.  I had never seen or heard anything like this, let alone in the name of Jesus.
Smiling,  I kept my cool, looked the speaker’s sidekick in the eye and mouthed– read my sign.
His not so cool reply? “Get outta hear you fake, effin b*tch!!”
In my best Robert DeNiro from Taxi Driver impression I replied, “You talkin’ ta me?” pointing at my own chest.  His eyes were hidden behind his Maverick mirrored aviators  but his mouth continued to threaten my eternal torment in the nether regions because of my wretchedness and sinful nature.
As others willingly gazed into my eyes nearby, we held agape, peaceful space in a silent connection lasting about a minute each. It felt all the more like necessary resistance as the screaming continued right next to us.
A total of 15 strangers took me up on my somewhat odd offer, saying they’d never done anything like it before but two men had heard of the artist Marina Abramovic’s installation at MOMA a few years back.
Each participant thanked me, hugged me and found the practice quite curious as well as emotionally  moving.  My hope is to continue to offer the eye-gazings as a healing effort toward improving race relations.  In prisons, private sessions, and yoga communities I’ve witnessed intense releases and some transforming of deep pain.
On my way through my City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, I had this incredible sense of everyone’s innate beauty as I drove past all manner of humanity.  Suddenly the thought of the Westboro Baptist guy’s pain came into my heart and I imagined that he must only see us as ugly, dirty, and worthless. He must be projecting his inner demons and self-hatred onto us.
Then I wept.
As I prayed for this man to find peace in God’s redeeming love, the Holy Spirit assured me that he’d be visited and told from on HIGH to quit his hate and fear-mongering. I will never know if this actually comes to pass, but the confidence I received that our every small effort to radiate love and light is multiplied, returned my smile to my heart.
We each have the power to turn on our inner radiance and share and shine in whatever way makes us feel that interconnectedness to our fellow citizens. From this evening at the DNC–Let’s be the moral defibrillators of our time and shock the nation with the power of love, mercy & justice for all, Rev. Dr. Barber.
13731797_10209505139523110_8496187259062936313_o Or as Billy Penn said, “Men must be governed by God or they will be ruled by tyrants.”  13738267_10209505138083074_3166853473012505680_o
A few friends have participated in a similar activity you can see here
You are the hands, feet, voice and heart of the Living God…be brave!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

this is the yoga

awaken to tired
awaken to stuck
drag body to mat
be annoyed with too happy teacher

ask 'why?"
move /breathe some more
make messy shapes
tip over
reach for the sky

energy shifts

i am one
with the universe
i am one
with all the warriors
came before

all the teachers
with the intention
to share hearts,
hard fought wisdom,

stepping out on a limb of grace
release my grip
into the marvelous
hum of

Friday, June 17, 2016

the nest

a group of 10 made strong not by your similarity and commitment to sameness
but by your unique contribution to making the nest's power last
with your promise to do you

your promise to not compromise your voice
your promise to not judge but love when one of you is suffering
your promise to bring light + laughter when there's pain
your promise to put your sisterhood first
which can only authentically take place
when you put your heart first

this lesson in coming back to yourself before offeirng anything
to the group will serve you well

you have seen how you get depleted of your 'you-ness'
when you sacrifice your sense of self
for others

the flow of life begins in your own heart

the flow of love begins in your own truth

the flow of joy never ends

you carry it with you into the world, waiting for you now

arms outstretched...announcing-- take your place
in your earthly home!!  bring your shortcomings, your failure, and fear
bring your nervous, your uncertainty and empty...

in this flow your cry out for a place
draws forth the calm, the sense that life is good
even when it feels really bad

underneath the thoughts, emotions and flow of fret
lives a current
deep and true...a place to settle, rest
sometimes it feels like enchantment other times
you will fight your way to peace
demanding through imagination
that love exists underneath the layer of worldly worry

go inside...beyond the storm, the mind's hustle and bustle
you will find a garden
and in that garden
high in oak trees
there you will spy

your NEST

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Beautifully Lonesome

She has this entirely new set of covenants she's made with herself. Something about being ever-merciful, patient, loving, kind and compassionate.  When she's not, which is quite often, she is in misery.

This misery is the 'pointer' to return home to her heart.

Embracing her brokenness, she feels everything-- but most of all lonesome.  Facing this emptiness sure feels real, like a bottomless pit she's being tossed into, with someone yelling 'TRUST!!'  On her way down she might remember a bible verse or two, grasping onto anything that resembles a lifeline.

This doesn't feel brave she tells herself, it just feels, um, like, um...shit.

Scary shit filled with resentment and questions, lots of unanswered ones.

Why do people suck is the main one.

Fortunately, she must teach a class and needs to get clear enough to hold space for others and not project this unresolved emotional drama onto the unsuspecing and wide-open yoga students.  These people trust her. And so with this thought, she steps into faking trust and steadfastness until it feels real.

She's in this partnership with the Spirit of the living God. And his side of the covenant is to conform her to His likeness. And so when she's filled with all her undesirable, very human emotions causing deep suffering, He asks her to trust and surrender them...NOW.  In an attempt to be obedient, she wipes her tears and just lets go. Just like that she chooses to not be angry and falls sound asleep.

When morning comes, her connection is newly aligned.

God was there in the darkness-- even thougth she couldnt see or feel him.

Thursday, March 10, 2016


 Human  Mosaic
Good and evil intertwined   in a complicated prism
Each action sending off light and dark into unknown direction
Labeling a human  evil- far too easy
 Evil is not inherent,
 but an uncomplicated label for something quite
Evil is more an act
Not a human being
A Scarlet Letter emblazoned on the chest of all
Inescapable sin manipulated into guilt and shame
Merely pinning an A in Scarlet
on others is an attempt at removal
of shame on the Self
One's own log must be acknowledged
Before identifying another's splinter
Evil is ever-present and unchanging                                                                                                                
A human being is ever-evolving
incapable of description
By such a simple word
Change, our only constant
Evil, a simple cop-out
A world revealing only two extremes
a world of eternal blandness

Yoga: The Greatest Story Ever Told?

I have a yoga client. I guess you could call her that.  She lives at the  FDC for a crime I know nothing about.  And I don't really care. Let's call her Dee.   Dee shared an experience in class today about how she has been practicing with me and several other inmates a couple of times a month since October but honestly, she  never really understood what the fuss was about.  She had no idea if yoga was just stretching or something more, she just wanted to participate and stay active.

The women at the FDC are stuck in a high-rise in center city and NEVER, I repeat,  NEVER get outside.  They eat, sleep, exercise and exist on one floor of a 10-story building.  They have a rec-deck on the third floor where they can see the sky out of the top of a two story space,  the top 10 feet of which, is covered in bars.  A slice of sky and a few birds flying  in several times a day--  that is the extent of their experience with nature while doing their time.  It breaks my heart.

I am fortunate to offer a chance to embody a yogic connection once a week. If you have never practiced, I would describe yoga as the chance to merge with the DIVINE alive inside of you, inside each and every one of us.   I  leave only  hoping that other than relaxation, yoga  (more on this later) will work its magic in its own time.  Today was one of those moments as Dee shared, that I recognized as life-changing  or magical, for her and of course, for me.

Dee  told us that the day before as she bent over to tie her shoes, she was overcome with the wave of an awful memory of her abusive boyfriend's face and denigrating attitude.  Dee was filled with just a moment of self-loathing that after a year of daily exercise, maybe she had not come that far after all.  You see, every time she would simply tie her shoes in front of him, he would remark that she was fat and worthless and continue  'just look at you, all out of breath just from  bending over'.  She took to tying her shoes in a room wherever he was NOT.

Well, on this day, in this moment,  she acknowledged the old feelings of  shame and looked them straight in the eye and then took a deep breath.  Within that breath, she held a new voice, a new memory.  It was of me telling her to just exhale and go a little lower, a little deeper into the expression of the pose. As she folded over to tie her shoe, she exhaled and within that place of surrender, she felt a new emotion arising:


Dee told us she had never felt such a strong sense of worthiness emanate from her own body before.  She often hated her body but on this day, she loved what her body was relaying in no uncertain terms:  YOU ARE ENOUGH.  Her tears  seemed to mix with our tears as we acknowledged the truth in her exclamation, "I feel like I finally know what yoga is about and for".

 I can't help but notice that in all the articles we read about yoga's benefits and life-changing qualities, one could just as easily replace the word "yoga" with "G O D".

-Yoga is making me a better mother, friend, daughter and wife

-Yoga has been a savior to reduce my stress and relieve my anxiety

-Yoga helps me feel more connected to myself and others and less depressed

-Yoga helps me manage my eating disorder

-Yoga eases my desire for my drug of choice and has impacted me staying clean

Some people say going to yoga feels like going to church.  Again, I will repeat, your yoga practice is meant to connect your mind, body and spirit in a way that God meant for us to operate.  Out of wholeness and connection to our authentic self, we know, REALLY KNOW how much we are loved, how we could never do anything to separate us from G O D. That which we are desiring, is desiring us.  What are you yearning for?

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Covenant with the imprisoned Goddess

One day she's mired in her own lonesome loser story, misunderstood, destined for an obit that reads,
Anita rarely left her living room couch during the long, dark days of New Jersey winters. No one called- she had told them how much she HATED to speak on the phone, after all.  No one visited- she had no tolerance for chit chat.  No one texted- their busy lives and jobs and friends didnt leave a lot of spare time. Only she had all this time...time...and more time. This endless stream of the ever-present now felt interminable.

Anita was known for her deep faith and relationship with the Christ. She devoured books on spirituality, always searching for the common threads. One day in particular she read in Rolf Gates Meditations on the mat, 'Perfectly balanced, motionless in a yoga posture, we are able to catch a glimpse of the intersection of energy,  matter and awareness...connecting to a deeper reality'.  And she nearly shouted AHA! in the corner coffee shop as she realized YES, there it is plain as day-- this statement describes the Christ:  that place where fully human and fully divine merge. Where matter and energy are know, Einstein's God formula E=MC2.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Mama puts on her oxygen mask first

Mama's peace.

Mama's come to recognize the value and necessity of self-nurturance, and homeostasis.

All the accolades and recognition don't mean a hoot if Mama's mind is on the what's missing piece.
The gradual journey home begins with that eensy weensie brave step toward trusting there's a sun behind those clouds.  If confusion and emotions are tossing her about, she must get still and lean in, lean into the pain, grief and fear (you know the place we generally and naturally want to run from?).

Maybe, just maybe she is all alone.  And if this is truly the one is coming to rescue her, no one is going to turn on a light in the dark, or dry these tears. No distraction, sugary dessert, cocktail or habit is going to make her gray sky blue.

She might just find herself tethered to her own sweet soul.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

The path a sled makes

The day after snowmageddon hit the northeast, the sun shone and I decided I wanted nothing more than to go sledding.  I practically begged my husband and was disappointed in his decline.  I turned to my 16 year old son only to hear 'Not really, mom".  So off I went sled in hand, outfitted in ski attire.

My first run taken over the already excavated path, I nearly hit a tree but giggled joy the whole time.  At the bottom I paused and looked up: the robin's egg blue sky was serene and lovely. The naked, near dead tree branches blocking a clear view, I initially said to them, "Must you block the expansive spaciousness?".  When instantly the story changed to -- AHHHHH, you beckon me to love you just as deeply as the sky!!  You ask that I not see you as something in the way of glory but a part of GLORY.

The branches represent all the 'troubles' and challenges in life. When we can view them from a place of grounded awareness we might be graced with the big picture.

Climbing back up the slippery slope I stepped firmly and felt strong in my own footing.

The next few runs down, I navigated the trees and squealed as I caught some air. Gliding to the bottom and always just staying still long enough to catch my breath and be filled with gratitude for exhiliration and this amazing life.  I realized I was finding balance between riding high and embracing stillness.

My final run I held tight to my sled's rope and forged a new path. I landed rougly against some tree branches jutting up and laughed hysterically at where my little adventure had taken me. I lay there and thought about how being stopped by these trees was fine by me.  I resist nothing; I am fierce with reality.