I had a great exchange with Kathleen this week about a student complaint. If you haven’t been in class with Kathleen, or have never had the chance to read anything she has written, you might put it on your to-do list. She has a sharp, clear mind and a way with words that I find to be so brilliant, so true, funny and precisely to the point every single time. In our chat, she was talking about being “in your practice” a turn of phrase from another teacher, from another time. To be more accurate, she was actually going on about what it looks like when you’re not in your practice, but that exchange, and the one which inspired it have been with me these past few days in a churning way.… Read the rest
Being a kid was hard for me. Not because my childhood surroundings were especially challenging but because, as far as I can tell, I landed on this planet ready to be an adult. To be a toddler, a child, a teenager was intolerable because I was on a mission to get some things done in this life, and waiting for needs to be met or just playing for the sake of play didn’t fit into my program at all. I wanted to be adulting from Day 1.
From trying to change my own diaper (not kidding) as a baby to climbing onto the kitchen counter to make my own peanut butter sandwich at age two (hence the lifelong nickname “peanut butter”) to attempting a full bedroom makeover with a couple of boxes of RIT dye and some milk crates at age 8 (probably would have gone better in the modern age of HGTV and Queer Eye), I simply didn’t have time to wait.… Read the rest
While I occasionally have a plan for what I’ll talk about in the opening meditation for class, most of the time it’s a surprise even to me what comes out. Sometimes, it’s what has been showing up in my own life and practice, what I’ve been reading about or what I am consistently hearing from students. Other times the message seems like it is arriving from the universe as a dharma lesson for me personally as much as it might be for anyone else in the room. Over the many years of teaching, I have come to trust the impulse of what rises whether planned or unplanned, comfortable or not.… Read the rest
One of the reasons I love the early morning practice so much is the quiet. The still, silent space for reflection. It’s not like my house is situated on I-40, but as the sun climbs ever higher, the volume of life increases in equal measure. More cars on the road and more humans on the sidewalk. Kids playing, sirens, construction– all of the sounds of life. The quiet is sacred, precious, short-lived. Even as I write this, part of me wants to go upstairs and turn off the dryer, because the tumble-tumble-tumble is adding more noise to my already chatty brain.… Read the rest
Do you have an end-of-year ritual? For the past decade or so, I’ve come into the habit of carving out time to do a mindful reflection on the year that’s coming to a close. I thumb through my datebook, journal entries and memory files, scanning for highlights and patterns. There’s not a goal or purpose to this review, rather, it’s just a closing out of accounts, so to speak, to honor the path traveled in the past 12 months. I’ve already started my new datebook (yes, I still use a paper calendar) and have just a few more pages to fill before beginning a new journal.… Read the rest
I’ve been really cranky lately. Irritable, tired, short-fused, impatient, or as it was called in my childhood home, owly. I don’t know the origin of that Sockmanism or why owls got such a bad rap early on. But while everyone is entitled to the occasional day of being in a Way, I’ve had too many of them lately to just let it slide. Peace of mind has given way to a piece of my mind a little too often.
I could blame this on a whole host of external happenings, circumstances and situations. I’ve been really, really, really busy. Too busy.… Read the rest
If you’ve spent much time with me in classes, workshops or trainings, you’ve likely seen me make a hand gesture with my palms facing upwards, side by side. No matter the topic, the dialogue accompanying the self-created mudra is always about two seemingly unconnected or even conflicting ideas, truths or options. And the challenge of the moment is never about figuring out which is right or better, rather, it’s opening the mind to the possibility of both/and. The contents held in each hand, no matter how incongruent they may seem, are rarely mutually exclusive. What if it’s this and that? What if both are true?… Read the rest
Newsletter. Take 3. All I can say is, if you don’t want to hear any more about it, scroll down now. But trying to write about anything else just stinks of elephant. And is completely impossible.
How to write a letter to you on a day like today, in a week like this week? How to walk a careful line of respect for everyone in our community, each opinion, each personal experience, while staying true to my own opinions and experiences? How to speak my truth knowing it will be offensive to some; when my professional mission is to create inclusivity and community and my personal work is to climb out from under the directive to “be quiet” “keep your head down” and “do as you’re told?”
I have spent a lot of time thinking about what this week would have looked like if Dr.… Read the rest
Like most everyone I know, I get a whole lot of email. Every day, at all hours, there are messages streaming into my inbox. Subjects are usually some combination of the necessary and less-than-necessary business of yoga, but every once in a while, something special comes through. Those who are connected to me through social media may have already seen this, but even so, it’s worth reading again:
Good morning. I am writing to let you know how you helped save my life.
I came out of the psychiatric hospital on June 19. I’m 43 years old and it was my 9th hospitalization, so you see, it’s always been a challenging thing to control.… Read the rest
When is the last time you made something, other than your bed or a quick meal? When was the last time you built, crafted, painted, composed, sketched or concocted something with your hands and a bit of imagination– that was not out of necessity or for money?
If you’d have asked me that question before the retreat in June, I would have been hard pressed to answer you. When I was young, I wrote music— and I am being very, very generous with that description so don’t get any ideas about my hidden musical talents, as they do not exist. However, I would sit down at the piano and just play something that had never been played before.… Read the rest