Strike a Pose of Gratitude, Mama!
A Balancing Act
It was early morning, the lights in the yoga room were at a soft glow, and the temperature was hovering around 95 degrees. Sweat was rolling down my face as I wobbled to find my balance in a challenging pose. As I zoned in on my drishti, my focal point, my mind settled, my foot rooted into the ground, and I stood still. Sure, it was only a mere 3 seconds before I started to wobble again, but for that moment in time, I experienced effortless balance.
There are many areas of my mothering where I still wobble…a lot. All of us have different life poses that challenge us. As moms, we can effortlessly balance our checkbooks, our kids on our hips, the family meals, and the crazy daily schedules, but there tends to be one area where I, and many other moms, still wobble like crazy; balancing all our giving
energy with equal parts receiving
energy. We give a lot more than we allow ourselves to receive.
This is a challenging pose, right? As women, we are natural givers and nurtures. Especially as mothers, we have an authentic desire to give and take care of our loved ones. These are wonderfully divine, selfless acts-- when we feel good doing them. But if we are not aware of the delicate balance between giving and receiving, our giving can serve to deplete us, rather than fill us up. Without balance of these two energies, our giving can become infused with palpable resentment and anger.
Now, I know what you are thinking. I’ve thought it, too. It’s impossible to find an equal
balance between giving and receiving, especially as a mother. I mean, isn’t it obvious? On a daily basis, there is simply too much to do, too much to give to find time to receive. We might even psych ourselves out more when our subconscious mind tells us that receiving is selfish. It’s okay. Just notice. Just notice when doubt creeps into your head. It’s natural. In fact, I hate to admit this, but I do it in yoga more than I should. I’ll glance over and see someone doing a pose where their body is contorted in a way that doesn’t seem at all right or realistic, and I think, “That’s impossible. I’ll never be able to get into that pose!”
But…but…someone is doing it! If someone can do it, then it is possible. Same holds true with balancing all your giving with as much (yes, as much
) receiving. It is possible. The practice, the pose, to get into is gratitude. Striking a Pose
Gratitude is a perfectly balanced practice. When you focus your attention on giving
thanks, you open yourself up to receiving
the positive energy that flows from the act of gratitude. When you give
thanks for anything in your life, you immediately receive
positive energy back. Better yet, when you give
thanks, you receive
a new, positive perspective!
Giving thanks immediately shifts your focus from what’s not working in your life to what is. You shift from focusing on lack to the abundance that surrounds you. When all you see is abundance in your life, your heart receives
good vibrations. You experience a deep sensation of your heart opening, softening, and growing in size.
When our giving and receiving energies are balanced, we experience not only a shift in our perspective but a shift in our mothering. When our hearts are full of positive energy, we are better able to do what we do best: give
compassion, care, acceptance, and respect through our doing. We find great strength in being gentle with our kids when they are expressing strong emotions, we find awesome power in not emotionally reacting to situations we can’t control, and we find unshakable peace in allowing people and situations to be exactly as they are.
Gratitude is a posture, a mental pose. It’s an attitude, a way of seeing and being. So as you go about your day, giving love, energy, and attention through all your doing, seize many moments to give thanks for the abundance that surrounds you. What you receive from the act of gratitude will not only allow you to give more, your giving will be immeasurably infused with palpable love, grace, and acceptance. Return to Home Page
Jennifer Niedzielski is a teacher, writer, mother of three young daughters, and the co-founder of Mindful Moms Network™. After teaching in the traditional classroom setting for over 12 years, she is transcending classroom walls to inspire and teach women how to reclaim their calm and take exquisite care of their mind, body, and inner-selves amidst the chaos of mothering. Through Mindful Moms, it is her intention to create a nurturing and supportive community that encourages moms to mother in the moment, celebrate themselves, and live life on purpose.
Visit us at Mindful Moms Network.com: http://mindfulmomsnetwork.com/index.html & our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1275432069#!/MindfulMoms
The Spiritual Perspective of the Work of Motherhood
Jennifer Niedzielski “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”
(Wayne W. Dyer)
For the past 5 years, I’ve been on the most profoundly transformational spiritual journey of my life-- motherhood. Unlike any other endeavor, the work of mothering has deepened my sense of self and brought me closer to understanding exactly who I am, what energizes and depletes me, and what I aspire to become. Okay, on a good day, this is how I view it. On a not-so-good day, it goes a little something like this: For the past 5 years I’ve been sacrificing my mind, time, sanity, body, and career to meet the unending needs of three small children. Unlike any other endeavor in my life, the unrelenting work of mothering has caused me, more times than I’d like to admit, to totally neglect myself, leaving me to feel disconnected and detached from the woman I was before having children.
Have you ever noticed how there is always more than one way to see
something? And as I see it (pun intended), how we choose to see something makes all the difference in what we actually see. Now, any way we look at it, motherhood is work; hard work. But how we see the work-- as either strengthening or depleting us-- makes a huge difference in whether this work serves to deepen our connection to or completely disconnect us from our journey to ourselves.
The truth is, transformation is never easy. I’ve finally started to accept that it isn’t designed to be. As mothers, our spiritual journey can be profoundly enriched if we abandon our attempt to strive to perfect mothering, and in turn simply shift our perspective of the failures, challenges, and stresses that are fundamentally part of our work. One Perspective
I often forget that in becoming a mother, I have not chosen to give up my life but rather evolve it.
It’s easy to forget. The challenges of mothering come fast and furious. When you’re in the thick taming a tantrum or simply trying to keep the daily routine running, it’s natural to think that motherhood “shouldn’t” be this hard. It’s tempting to think that you’ve been given more than you can realistically handle. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve looked to the sky and contended, “You’ve got the wrong girl. No, seriously. I’m not capable of handling this.”
Every time I get into this negative frame of mind, I halt my spiritual growth. Every time I curse my challenges and my failures, I become mindless. In this mindless state, my anger, resentment, and anxiety always serve to keep me feeling lost and disconnected from myself. A New Perspective “What you think is working against you is actually working for you.”
Perspective is everything. Perspective is so important in mothering because how you choose
to see motherhood, your life circumstances, your children, and most importantly yourself, makes all the difference in how you experience
these things. If we intentionally “see” the challenges of motherhood for what they are, awesome opportunities to dig a little deeper, explore a little more, and let go of this or that, then motherhood becomes a spiritual journey where every challenge, every struggle refines and helps to define who we really are.
Sounds simple, right? Well, the concept is beautifully simplistic, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. If the work of mothering is going to serve to bring out the best versions of our most awesome selves, we’ve got to cultivate the mental capacity to step back from a stressful or upsetting situation and see it from another angle. This takes practice. Lots of practice. If you’re in need of a little shift in perspective yourself, try these strategies for starters:
1) Practice Non-Reaction:
The next time your child is whining, just hear. Don’t react. The next time you walk into your child’s room, and it looks like a bomb went off, just see. Don’t react. Practice watching your thoughts and habitual reactions to these stressful mothering moments. Just watch, witness, and notice what’s going on inside your head and body. Don’t react.
2) Drop In on Yourself:
Make a commitment to check in with yourself several times a day (okay, at least once). While you are in the midst of your morning primping routine, eating your lunch, or right after you slip into your warm, cozy bed at night, turn your attention inward and witness how you are feeling. What’s going on with your body? What’s swirling around in your head? What do you need? Just observe.
3) Practice Yoga:
There is something truly powerful about connecting your breath with the movement of your body. Creating a rhythm between your breath and your body stimulates a relaxation response in your brain. When relaxed, you are naturally better at seeing things clearly and from different perspectives. The practice of yoga strengthens your resiliency to life’s challenges. The clarity and calm you achieve in your yoga practice empowers you to handle the ups and downs of motherhood with grace and centeredness.
Each of these techniques provides you with an opportunity to practice getting out of your head and into the moment seeing from a different point of view. Every time we practice stepping back and observing, or seeing the bigger picture, we get better at doing it. The better we get at it, the better we get at seeing the divine purpose of the struggles and challenges in our lives. It’s easy to forget what we think is working against us in our mothering is actually working for us. Gaining a new perspective of the struggles and strife of motherhood shifts our energy, changes our mood, and almost instantaneously, puts us right back on the path to discovering the essence of our being.Return to Home Page
is a teacher, writer, mother of three young daughters, and the co-founder of Mindful Moms Network™.
After teaching in the traditional classroom setting for over 12 years, she is transcending classroom walls to inspire and teach women how to reclaim their calm and take exquisite care of their mind, body, and inner-selves amidst the chaos of mothering. Through Mindful Moms,
it is her intention to create a nurturing and supportive community that encourages moms to mother in the moment, celebrate themselves, and live life on purpose.
Visit us at Mindful Moms Network.com: http://mindfulmomsnetwork.com/index.html
& our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1275432069#!/MindfulMoms
Discovering Bhakti Yoga Through Devotional Poetry
by Jay Schryer
Bhakti yoga is one method of attaining enlightenment in Hindu spirituality. Known as the path of love or devotion, it calls for the practitioner to love a personal god with all his heart and being. When the devotee surrenders completely, unification with the Divine is assured. Sakhya Bhakti is the practice of cultivating a personal relationship with the Divine, thinking of Him/Her/It as a parent, friend, or even lover.
There are many ways that a devotee might show his love and devotion, but one that is often overlooked is the act of composing devotional poetry. Just as countless love songs have been written for human lovers, so have they been written for the Divine. Nearly every religion and every culture has had devotional poets who expressed their love through word or song.
Traditional Hindu literature has given us many examples of this type of devotion. In the Ramayana, Hanuman is a devotee of Rama (Vishnu), and in the Mahabharata, we have the story of Draupadi who was devoted to Krishna. In the Bhagavad Gita, the relationship between Arjuna and Krishna is explored. There is also a popular 18th century Bengali poet named Ramprasad Sen who worshipped the goddess Kali as the Divine Mother and unmanifest Brahman. Looking more closely at each of these stories of devotion yields a better understanding of Sakhya Bhakti.
In the Mahabharata, Draupadi has a close friendship with Krishna. When Draupadi is at risk of being publicly humiliated, she calls out to Krishna to save her, and he does:
O Krishna, O Krishna,
O thou great yogi, thou soul of the universe,
Thou creator of all things,
O Govinda, save me who am distressed,
who am losing my senses in the midst of the Kurus.
(Ganguli, sec. LXVI).
Krishna also has a personal friendship with Arjuna. In fact, Arjuna’s relationship with Krishna is the basis for the Bhagavad Gita, a section of the Mahabharata which is sometimes read as a complete story in itself; a story that explains (among other things) the concept of bhakti yoga. Krishna tells Arjuna that those who love him are greatly loved by him (poetic line breaks added by me):
That one I love who is incapable of ill will,
who is friendly and compassionate.
Living beyond the reach of “I” and “mine” and of pleasure and pain,
patient, contented, self-controlled, firm in faith,
with all their heart and all their mind given to me:
with such as these I am in love.
Not agitating the world or by it agitated,
they stand above the sway of elation, competition, and fear:
that one is my beloved.
They are detached, pure, efficient, impartial,
never anxious, selfless in all their undertakings;
they are my devotees, very dear to me.
That one is dear to me
who runs not after the pleasant or away from the painful,
grieves not, lusts not, but lets things come and go as they happen.
That devotee who looks upon friend and foe with equal regard,
who is not buoyed up by praise nor cast down by blame,
alike in heat and cold, pleasure and pain,
free from selfish attachments,
the same in honor and dishonor,
quiet, ever full, in harmony everywhere,
firm in faith:
Such a one is dear to me.
(Easwaran ch. 12, v. 13-20).
Ramprasad Sen, a devotee of Kali, popularized a specific form of devotional poetry that is still popular today. In this poem, Ramprasad sings how he is without fear because his divine mother protects him:
Whom could I fear in the universe
where my Mother is matriarch?
I live with perfect ease upon her estate,
indivisible awareness and bliss.
I am her direct tenant,
free from formality and hierarchy.
There is no payment of rent for this sanctuary,
this garden of nonduality,
its value beyond assessment by the mind.
Nor can my sacred abode be sold at auction,
for there are no owners and nothing to own.
The manager of Mother's holdings, Lord Shiva,
transcends every limited conception and transaction.
There is no disharmony or injustice here,
for there is no division, no separation.
Mother does not impose the heavy tax
of religious obligation.
My only responsibility of stewardship
is constant inward remembrance,
eternally breathing Kali, Kali, Kali.
This mad poet lover,
born directly from Divine Mother,
cherishes one consuming desire:
to purchase her diamond paradise of delight
with the boundless treasure of pure love
and give it away freely to all beings
(Hixon Lines 1-26).
The concept of Bhakti is not isolated to Hinduism. Indeed, most, if not all, of the world’s religions contain an element of love and devotion for God. Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and even the religion of ancient Greece provide worthy examples of bhakti devotion through poetry.
In Buddhism, bhakti is often expressed as compassion and loving-kindness. Compassion is one of the founding principles of Buddhism, and another expression of bhakti yoga. In the Karaniya Metta Sutta, The Buddha teaches that love for all beings ends the cycle of rebirth:
As a mother would risk her life
to protect her child, her only child,
even so should one cultivate a limitless heart
with regard to all beings.
With good will for the entire cosmos,
cultivate a limitless heart:
Above, below, & all around,
unobstructed, without hostility or hate.
Whether standing, walking,
sitting, or lying down,
as long as one is alert,
one should be resolved on this mindfulness.
This is called a sublime abiding
here & now.
Not taken with views,
but virtuous & consummate in vision,
having subdued desire for sensual pleasures,
one never again
will lie in the womb.
(Bhikkhu sec. I.8)
In ancient Greece, Sappho of Lesbos could be considered one of the first Western bhakti yogis, with her devotional poetry to Aphrodite. Throughout her work, Sappho displays a very personal relationship with Aphrodite, sometimes talking with her as she would a close friend:
…you asked, What ailed me now that
made me call you again? What
was it that my distracted
heart most wanted? ‘Whom has
Persuasion to bring round now
to your love? Who, Sappho, is
unfair to you? For, let her
run, she will soon run after;
if she won't accept gifts, she
will one day give them; and if
she won't love you -- she soon will
love, although unwillingly....’
If ever – come now! Relieve
this intolerable pain!
(Barnard fig. 38)
Sappho has (or at least imagines she has) a very personal relationship with Aphrodite; she imagines the goddess will take care of her and grant her wishes, much like the relationship between Draupadi and Krishna in the Mahabharata.
Christianity could be thought of as a bhakti yogic practice, for it is centered on the love that devotees have for Christ, and the love that Christ returns to his devotees. In fact, when asked what the greatest commandment was, Christ gave an answer that could be read as the textbook definition of bhakti (poetic line breaks added by me):
Jesus said unto him,
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
(New American Standard Bible, Matt. 22:36-38)
In Judaism, the psalms are a good example of bhakti yoga, because they were originally composed as devotional hymns and poems. One Psalm that is particularly striking in its portrayal of love and devotion is Psalm 63:
God, you are my God;
I search for You,
My soul thirsts for You,
My body yearns for You,
As a parched and thirsty land that has no water.
I shall behold You in the sanctuary,
And see Your might and glory,
Truly Your faithfulness is better than life;
My lips declare Your praise.
I bless You all my life;
I lift up my hands, invoking Your name.
I am sated as with a “rich feast,”
I sing praises with joyful lips
When I call you to mind upon my bed,
When I think of You in the watches of the night;
For you are my help,
And in the shadow of your wings
I shout for joy.
My soul is attached to You;
Your right hand supports me.
(The Jewish Study Bible, Psalms 63)
Islam frowns upon any musical expression that isn’t devotional in nature, and so there is a rich tradition of devotional music and poetry. The Persian poet Rumi is the prime example of bhakti devotion in the Islamic world. Rumi believed that Love was itself a religion, better than all others:
A true Lover doesn't follow any one religion,
be sure of that.
Since in the religion of Love,
there is no irreverence or faith.
When in Love,
body, mind, heart and soul don't even exist.
fall in Love,
and you will not be separated again.
(Shiva, fig. 1)
With examples from Rumi, Sappho, the Psalms, and the Bhagavad Gita, one can see that devotional poetry is among the richest and most beautiful poetry in the world. Across time and across cultures, humans have always longed for an intimate connection with the Divine, no matter how they envision that to be. Sappho, with her friend Aphrodite; Arjuna and Draupadi, with their friend Krishna; Hanuman, with his friend Vishnu; Rumi, with his Divine Beloved; Ramprasad Sen, with his Divine Mother; and David, with his Divine Father have given the world great treasures by sharing their relationships with the Divine. Their love and devotion have shown us all how to unite with the Divine. They have taught us the meaning of bhakti yoga.
Barnard, Mary. Sappho. Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 1958. Print.
Bhikkhu, Thanissaro. “Karaniya Metta SuttaGood Will.” Sutta Nipata I.8. Vipassana Fellowship. Access to Insight, 2011. Web. 30 November 2011. <http://www.vipassana.com/canon/khuddaka/suttanipata/snp1-8.php>.
Easwaran, Eknath. The Bhagavad Gita. 2nd ed. Tomales, CA: The Blue Mountain Center of Meditation, 1985. Print.
Ganguli, Kisari Mohan. “A Translation of Mahabharata of Vyasa.” Mahabharata Online. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 November 2011. <http://www.mahabharataonline.com/translation/mahabharata_02066.php>.
Hixon, Lex. “Its Value Beyond Assessment By the Mind.” Poetry Chaikhana. Ivan M. Granger, 2002-2008. Web. 30 November 2011. <http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/R/Ramprasad/Itsvaluebeyo.htm>.
Shiva, Shahram. “Rumi Odes and Quattrains.” RumiNet. Jain Publishing, n.d. Web. 1 December 2011. <http://www.rumi.net/rumi_poems_main.htm>.
“The Nine Principles of Bhakti Yoga” The Secrets of Yoga. TheSecretsofYoga.com, n.d. Web. 30 November 2011. <http://www.thesecretsofyoga.com/Bhakti/Bhakti-nineprinciples.html>.Return to Home Page
is the God of Magic. It says so on his Facebook profile, so it must be true. When he's not busy granting wishes and altering reality, he writes. He writes a lot, but mainly fantasy, science fiction, and horror stories. His poetry has been published on four different continents, so there's that, and he also writes personalized stories for kids and kids-at-heart. As you can see from this article, he also writes spirituality articles to satisfy his deep love for the Divine in all its forms. He reads even more than he writes, which shouldn't be humanly possible, but somehow he manages to do it. When he's not reading, writing, or sleeping (which, honestly, is his favorite hobby), he is pursuing his PhD in Mythological Studies with an Emphasis in Depth Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute. He dares you to try saying that three times real fast. He's still trying to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up, but he hopes it will involve getting paid to sleep. Failing that, getting paid to write would be pretty cool, too. In the meantime, you can check out his work at http://jayschryer.com.
Now Is the Only Reality
by Kari Driscoll
I arrived at yoga 15 minutes before class was scheduled to begin and set up my mat in the front row. I wasn’t sure how many people would arrive for class and, while I don’t necessarily like being in the front, I know the instructor and she would tease me if she came in and saw that I intentionally chose to be further back.
The room was warm and there was one other woman at the far end of the front row. I settled in, cross-legged, to close my eyes and clear my mind. I didn’t expect it to be an easy job. We were just coming off of a long Thanksgiving weekend and I felt catapulted in to the holiday season. With only six days to go before my daughter’s birthday, I had yet to purchase her gift. Once her special day was over, I anticipated a mad dash of shopping, decorating, cooking and traveling until January 2nd. In the meantime, we were looking forward to a move in the late Spring which meant fixing up our house to put it on the market. Add to that all of the “normal” things on my weekly schedule and my mind resembled a plasma static electricity ball when I closed my eyes. You know, the ones that make your hair stand on end when you put your palms to the glass?
I sat for a minute, warring with myself about whether or not I ought to even be attempting this. Maybe the best thing to do would be to get up and go get some of the things crossed off of my list instead of indulging in a 90-minute yoga class. No, I would look silly walking out now and the instructor would surely catch me leaving. Perhaps I should sit and address some of the items in my head right now – devise the menu for my daughter’s birthday party or make a mental list of which things I can likely get done today. I felt my anxiety level ratchet up a notch. What I needed to do was to sit with my anxiety. Just experience without judgment. Acknowledge my discomfort and not try to solve anything.
The teacher entered the room and welcomed us all. I steeled myself for the beginning of class, knowing that once I started it was like strapping in to an amusement park ride – I was here for the duration. Especially in the front row. She asked us to close our eyes and do our best to stay within the confines of our mats. No, stay here, yelled my mind. This is what is really real. These things need to be done. This is real life.
“That means not looking at your neighbor’s practice or thinking about what is for lunch. Just truly arrive on your own mat and be here. Simply here,” Mary gently reminded us.
At that moment I realized that being here in this moment, anxieties and all, was what was truly Real. Those expectations either existed in the past or the future, which really means not at all. The only place to be was here, on my mat, in my body and my mind. I know that yoga and meditation offer me peace and solace as well as strength and a sense of achievement. Despite that, I often trick myself into thinking that activity and busyness are more valuable. More “real.” Because I can get instant gratification when I cross something off of my list, it feels like an accomplishment. The benefits I get from stopping, slowing down, and being deliberate and planful about my actions and thoughts are much less tangible. But if I think about it, I can always add more tasks to my list. That conveyor belt is never-ending. The act of coming back to myself, grounding my actions and thoughts in this moment right now, wherever I am, feels solid and constant. It may not be “progress” in that sense, but without a stable base from which to act, that conveyor belt will drop into the abyss.
As always, by the time Mary had led the class through our second set of sun salutations, my mind and body were firmly on my mat. Halfway through class, I realized the static electricity had completely dissipated and the realization that now is enough carried me through the rest of the 90 minutes.
Whether or not I actually cross everything off of my to-do list doesn’t seem to matter anymore. For now, I am reminded that Now is Reality and everything else will follow. Return to Home Page
Kari Driscoll is a mother of two daughters and wife to a busy executive who is writing her way through a spiritual journey towards greater happiness and acceptance of the beauty of life. Her blog can be found at http://www.the-writing-life.blogspot.com
or through the BlogHer Publishing Network (www.blogher.com). She writes mainly nonfiction and is seeking a publisher for her first book about difficult reproductive choices while working on her second, a memoir of a summer spent in Italy and France with two toddlers that brought her to a greater understanding of how to experience joy.
A Book Review and Book Giveaway: Ana Forrest
Fierce Medicine: Breakthrough Practices to Heal the Body and Ignite the Spirit“If you want to use yoga to heal emotional pain, you must find out where it resides in your body and learn to take your breath there. I don't teach yoga to help people to transcend. I want people's Spirits to reside in their body. I literally want to help people embody their Spirit, not go through life fragmented." Ana Forrest
As the creator of Forrest Yoga, Ana T. Forrest has been transforming people’s lives throughout the world for more than thirty-five years. Recently, I was offered the opportunity by her publisher to review her new book, Fierce Medicine Breakthrough Practices to Heal the Body and Ignite the Spirit.
I’m delighted to share my thoughts with you about this power-filled book and to give away a copy to one lucky commenter, courtesy of HarperOne.
Ana’s yoga practice and teacher training program are unique—a blend of physical practice, Eastern wisdom, and Native American ceremony. She takes her teachings off the mat and into daily life. Her focus is on healing—emotional pain, as well as addictive behaviors and eating disorders, to chronic pain and injury.
In Fierce Medicine, she tells her own story of healing, of calming the storms within her body: paralysis, epilepsy, bulimia, and inflicted physical and sexual abuse. It is not always an easy story to read, but it is compelling, power-filled, practical and truly healing. The book’s approach is unique too.
Ana begins each chapter with a personal accounting of her loss and reclamation of self around a particular issue, including “Stalking Fear: From Prey to Predator,” which chronicles her journey through emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Others include “Truth Speaking,” “Embodying Spirit” and healing our relationship around food and hunger.
She wisely conveys how each of is personally invited to restore ourselves—to identify what the spiritual call is of each “injury”—and then, very practically, how to go about healing that. She explains this in the “Spiritual Focus” section of each chapter.
Next, Ana presents the “Physical Focus” for each issue. The yoga poses presented are in photo form and explained well. Some appear more difficult than others, depending on your level of yogic experience. Breathing exercises are also presented. She selects poses that have the ability to move emotions through the body, build strength and courage, open our hearts, and bring us through the door of transformation.
She speaks of “the Brave-Hearted Path” of healing throughout the book. “Have the courage to truly feel what’s going on inside you when you’re afraid and respond appropriately. This requires patience.” And compassion.
In the chapter on “Truth Speaking,” Ana writes, “Truth Speaking means speaking from the heart with honesty and compassion. When I say from the heart, I don’t mean to gush—as in, “I love you, man!” I believe the heart has a number of attitudes; it has its own wisdom and compassion, and it will guide in Truth Speaking. Compassion is a funny word: we think of it as being kind to someone else. I don’t agree. As I see it, compassion needs to encompass ourselves, the person we’re dealing with, and the situation. It means looking at and feeling for a resolution that feels more correct by the standards of the heart, mind and gut. In learning a truth about myself, I found that I could be completely honest but without compassion for the other person and the situation. Words were used as weapons and shields. I needed to develop some generosity of heart to cultivate compassion.” (pg. 77)
I heartily recommend this book to anyone who is ready and willing to heal herself. It is moving, inspiring and practical, a sagacious program and handbook to personal freedom on all levels. Ana is a fierce but wise guide. She feels trustworthy, surefooted, and passionate about our healing.
“Part of my mission,” she writes, “in Mending the Hoop of the People is to teach others to become healers. I believe that we can all develop our intuition to help heal ourselves and others.”
May we it be so for all of us. Ho!
Remember, leave a comment on this post to be entered into a Giveaway for Fierce Medicine. (2011, Hardcover, 263 pgs., HarperOne, SanFrancisco)Fierce Medicine can be purchased here at amazon.comYou can learn more about Ana Forrest and Forrest Yoga at:
You may also enjoy listening to this radio interview with Ana.
by Elizabeth Glixman
The word relentless is often
used to describe this kind of fatigue
are other words that will do
She does daily forward bends
hoping for a miracle
Some days she gets one
a golden one that radiates
a miracle of unrelenting hope
No matter how tired she is
this constant source of swirling energy
rising from her feet to her head
a volcanic eruption of hope
There are angelique, human, heavenly beings
in this miracle who hold up her world
Her impulse to give up
leaves on wings of their grace
and returns on wings they attach to her
like she is a clay woman sculpture
a human masterpiece in the making
who needs an armature
until the she can stand firm
in the belief that
all is possible
Return to Home Page
Elizabeth P. Glixman
is a poet, writer and artist. Her poetry, fiction, nonfiction, interviews and artwork have been published on the Web and in print magazines and anthologies. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, A White Girl Lynching
(2008) and Cowboy Writes a Letter & Other Love Poems
(2010), both published by Pudding House Publications, Ohio. A new poetry chapbook The Wonder of It All
will be published by Alternating Currents. Elizabeth uses mind body spirit modalities to help manage and heal from chronic fatigue syndrome.
Read more at http://www.spiritofchange.org/alternative-medicine/chronic-fatigue-syndrome-more-than-just-being-tired
Visit her writing blog http://elizabeth-inthemoment.blogspot.com/
Check out Elizabeth’s blog to find links to her recent work and check out her crossposting blog where she posts information on urgent homeless dogs and cats in animal shelters.
Replacing Fearby Kari DriscollI love yoga. Not only for the sweating, quiet determination, sore muscles and peace I gain from it, but because it is where I hear that strong, inner voice most clearly. Without fail, as soon as I let my guard down and begin my physical practice, words come to my head. Simple words that don't necessarily strike me as being important at the time, but they resonate for days afterward. Last week's epiphany was no exception. It didn't knock me over with a shout inside my head or jolt me into instant clarity. It fell like a raindrop in a deep pool. It was quiet, melted into my brain without a trace, and rippled. And rippled. And rippled.
What would this look like if it didn't come from a place of fear?
Throughout the week I continued to examine that thought. Throughout the week I found myself amazed at how often my reactions originate in fear and how fear is responsible for outlining the space in which I act. When I recognize the source for what it is and consciously move from fear to acceptance or love, everything changes. I can feel a shift in my body as I relax into groundedness and space. My mind becomes open and possibilities expand forward. The walls around begin to dissolve.
When I operate from a place of fear, my options are restricted and I begin to make connections that aren't necessarily related. If this happens, next comes this and then it swells into that and...Oh, No! Spiraling anxiety as the fear feeds on the tightly coiled energy inside my body and brain and I'm locked inside with it.
When my responses originate from love or acceptance or groundedness there are no boundaries. In fact, once I make that subtle course change, I no longer feel the need to drive any agenda. Whereas with fear, I'm compelled to either stick to the course my anxiety has laid out or fight to alter it in some way, when I let go of fear, I am more likely to sit back and see where things go next. I don't need to act within any particular moment to make something happen or prevent it from happening. I am able to temper my responses and, very often, the next step reveals itself or negates any action on my part at all.
In the last several days I have been able to watch myself and come to realize just how often angry or frustrated or anxious feelings arise from my fears. When Eve and Lola begin bickering, it is my fear that leads me to snap at them to "knock it off!" When I send out yet another email to a prospective agent or publisher, it is fear that drives me to downplay my own writing abilities or the importance of this book project to me. When I get annoyed at being interrupted while I'm mentally planning my day, it is because I am afraid that I'll lose the thread of thought and somehow "fail" to do all of the things I've convinced myself I ought to do in order to be the best mother/writer/wife/friend.
When I sit back and ask myself the question, "What would this look like if it weren't coming from a place of fear?" I am astonished at the possibilities. What if I trust my own abilities as a mother/writer/wife/friend and simply act out of love and the understanding that I have enough. I am good enough. There is an abundance of love/compassion/intelligence/patience/money/whatever I need. When I source my feelings and thoughts and actions from that well, life looks pretty damned amazing.
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Kari O'Driscoll is a mother of two daughters and wife to a busy executive who is writing her way through a spiritual journey towards greater happiness and acceptance of the beauty of life. Her blog can be found at http://www.the-writing-life.blogspot.com
or through the BlogHer Publishing Network (www.blogher.com). She writes mainly nonfiction and is seeking a publisher for her first book about difficult reproductive choices while working on her second, a memoir of a summer spent in Italy and France with two toddlers that brought her to a greater understanding of how to experience joy.