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discomfort is not the enemy

July 3, 2023 in Blog

Ben Franklin was quoted as saying “There are no gains without pains” but in my lifetime, it was Jane Fonda, circa 1982, who popularized the saying “no pain, no gain” in her exercise videos. It spread quickly from step aerobics and athletics to just about every endeavor, and became the silent credo of a generation. In short: if you want to get somewhere, do something, or be someone, discomfort is part of the deal. Plan for it. Expect it. Your progress is directly proportional to your suffering.

As with so many other things- from trends in fashion to politics- we eventually swing from one extreme to the other.… Read the rest

what we don’t like

April 29, 2023 in Blog

In our monthly Dharma & Satsang discussions, we are continuing to work through the kleshas: the whys of our suffering as human beings. In April, we dove into dveśa. Usually, translated as aversion or strong dislike, I leaned into the richness of the Sanskrit and added some additional layers: burning; hatred; and the understanding that the root of dveśa lies in experiences and memories of pain from the past. It’s about how it’s possible that what we most dislike can take over our experience. You’d think we would prefer to focus on what we like (attachment) but it turns out we can be just as overtaken by what we don’t like.… Read the rest

faith when you don’t believe

March 31, 2023 in Blog

I remember when I was going through a messy divorce many, many, another-lifetime years ago. After the initial separation, I returned to what was once our shared home and dedicated every ounce of energy I had to the hustle. I progressed from room to room: painting, moving, fixing, anything-and-everything to change the space, to make it mine, to start over—again. 

I filled every moment with busyness, but I felt lost and I felt alone. I had no idea what to do next, how to make ends meet, where to go, or how to move forward. I clearly remember standing in the office, my bare feet on the cold hardwood floor, looking out the window into the backyard, and talking on the phone with an old friend from New York.… Read the rest

silence

March 2, 2023 in Blog

Last month at this time I was tucked away in the snowy Sawtooth mountains of Idaho for a five day silent meditation intensive. When I first read about it and saw in the description “must be prepared for and comfortable with extreme weather” my initial yes turned into an absolutely yes. I get that this is not everyone’s cup of tea; it might, in fact, send a lot of people running in the other direction. But after fifteen years of facilitating retreats— both in silence and otherwise— I was so ready to climb over a snowdrift, throw my bags into a Snowcat and head into the middle of nowhere to find out what was in store for me.… Read the rest

hibernation

January 30, 2023 in Blog

When I originally posted the January Hibernation retreat, it was early fall. At the time, I was in an extremely overwhelming work vortex and hibernation sounded like a fabulous idea. I didn’t put a whole lot of thought into it—  the theme welled up from wherever ideas arise, it resonated, and that was that. Come January, when we actually gathered, I felt good in the knowing that yes, hibernation was necessary. Why? Resources for thriving had become scarce. A refuge from challenging conditions was needed. It was time to conserve energy, and figure out how to rebuild from within what we’d allowed to be depleted from without.… Read the rest

liminal space

January 2, 2023 in Blog

Putting aside my fervent wish to enjoy a lazy morning after this morning’s practice, I got moving early to head to the store to pick up the final ingredients for a day-long cooking project. It doesn’t exist in any tradition I know of, but I say forget about bitter greens or lentils or black-eyed peas. If sticky toffee pudding can’t bring in good luck for the new year, I don’t know what can. So despite the desire to hang out by the fire, I got myself together and headed out.

The driveway here drops down to the road, which descends into the valley.… Read the rest

the work never changes

October 30, 2022 in Blog

I’ve been especially busy with 1:1 sessions lately. Students who have been with me regularly for years; people who’ve re-entered my orbit after a long spell away; and some brand-new-to-me folks that I’ve had the good fortune to meet through a mindfulness project with a local business. Whether seasoned yogis or not-at-all yogis, it never ceases to amaze me that the work never changes. It’s always the same. The same work, the same lessons, the same challenges, the same effort, the same magic over and over. Sure, it takes different forms, but at core? Same, same.

Without a doubt, I learn as much or more from those who come to me for reflection on what yoga off the mat can do to increase the happiness factor and decrease the suffering factor as they learn from me.… Read the rest

continuity

September 30, 2022 in Blog

I’m just coming out of four expansive and wonder-filled days sharing some of the sweet and subtle practices of Tantra with a beautiful group of longtime yogis. I was sleeping, eating, breathing, reviewing, studying, practicing, writing tantra for a couple of months leading up to the training, so even after four days of teaching, it’s still sort of spilling over the top. 

You know that the Yamas and Niyamas are part of the essential foundation that make yoga practice something profoundly more than a stretchy exercise class. In the same way, continuity is one of the principles with which Tantra (the practice of expanding what we find in Yoga, or awakening from our dormancy to a fuller and happier way of being in the world) begins and ends.… Read the rest

Patient Fortitude

August 31, 2022 in Blog

Patient fortitude. Could this be the yogi slogan for modern times? It certainly is a good reminder. We spent some time digging into this tenet- titikśā- in last month’s Dharma & Satsang because I think this style of life navigation is an entire path unto itself. It certainly is a relevant one. While this particular translation from Sivananda is my favorite, here are some other definitions of titikśā to give you the flavor of this word which holds no equivalent in English:

  • Patient endurance of suffering
  • Tolerance of unhappiness
  • Acceptance of circumstances without resistance 

If we have learned nothing else in the course of our lifetimes, certainly in the past few years, I think we’re all pretty clear that the storms of life are unceasing.… Read the rest

mind full or mindful?

July 31, 2022 in Blog

When there’s something we need to learn, to focus on or to remember, the forces of the universe converge to make it so. While I’ve found that a daily meditation practice is a non-negotiable element for my general sanity, these days I’ve been reminded that no matter how extensive and consistent morning cushion time may be, it’s inadequate to sustain peace of mind throughout the entire day. Things seem to shift out of clear, calm and peaceful more quickly than ever before. As we continue to roll through hard times, the choices and practices that lead us to mind full or mindful are the difference between being part of the solution or part of the problems we see in our lives and in the world.… Read the rest