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THE FOLLOWING IS AN INTERVIEW WITH NANCY COYNE, MD. She is a trauma therapist, psychiatrist, yoga practitioner, horse lover, and artist who has taken all her passions and made the best use of them to assist traumatized persons in healing.  She uses a combination of mind/body, creative arts, and animal-bond approaches in her therapy and has collaborated with horse professional Shelley Rosenberg at the Epona Center in Arizona to create a therapeutic program for trauma survivors incorporating all her practices and passions entitled “Horses as Healers”.

I was blown away by both Nancy and Shelly in their stories, their passion for their work, and (for my own self) having found other people out there motivated in the same direction and integrating a mix of creative arts, yoga, and equine facilitated psychotherapy for healing from trauma.  I hope you all will find as much joy, passion, and inspiration in the following interview with Nancy Coyne, MD.  I am excited to bring Shelley Rosenberg’s interview in an upcoming post–equally as passionate and poignant as the one to follow.  Enjoy.  Be inspired.  Be moved to action.

Q:  How long have your worked in the field of trauma and PTSD?  Is this your primary population in your practice?  What led you to work with this population of people?

30 plus years.  Don’t know why but people just found me.

Q:  What is your psychotherapy background?  What led you to work in Equine Facilitated Psychotherapyand train with the Epona Center apprenticeship program?

I have always studied and practiced psychotherapy-learning whatever has been current dynamic, interactive, Reichian (where I started ) CBT, DBT, somatic , and in the past 5 years equine facilitated.  Horses came back into the forefront of my life by chance- a friend who ran a therapeutic riding program wanted me to help start a program to treat trauma survivors.  Then I came out west to learn what other people were doing.

Q:  You use yoga, breathing exercises, EMDR, and creative arts as well as EFP in your therapy practice.  What led you to incorporate mind/body, creative and complementary therapies into your practice?

I started out interested in mind-body- as a Reichian therapist, and I have been a longtime yoga student and practitioner.  Also I have always been an artist so incorporating art into psychotherapy seemed natural.

Q:  What is effective about using yoga in mental health work?  Creative arts? Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy?  What have you learned about yourself, healing, and mental health practice in the process of applying the above techniques in your work as a mental health practitioner?

Effective- yoga re focusses on the body where experience lives.  Art-to right or old brain image making-by passing defenses and pointing right to the authentic self’s truth.  As for what have i learned- that I best practice what I preach and that teaching or healing is the best way to learn something.  That I best take very good compassionate care of my self and that life is brief and precious and that we can alleviate lots of suffering by meditating and accepting what is with compassion.

Q:  What has been most rewarding about this creative approach to mental health?  What has been most surprising?

I can be fully authentic and speak in my own languages .  Surprising – that the rest of the world seems to be getting interested recently (holistic healing is going mainstream)

Q:  When and why did you become involved in the Epona Center’s programming?  What drew you to this work?  Did you have any hesitations about moving into the world of EFP?  What have you learned from the horses and the work with horses about yourself, your clients, and your work as a whole?

2006-came to Epona center for experience and training.  Horses are natural yogis-slow down, stay present, breath, connect with soul, nature, one another.  No hesitations.  Horses teach me about my fears, my difficulty setting boundaries, my spaciness, my ability to have fun and just play.  Clients have life changing moments with horses much more rapidly and deeply than in the office.  We all love being outdoors, in nature, being authentic and we all meet as equal partners (horses don’t care who has the diploma)

Q:  You have created a program called “Horses as Healers” at the Epona Center in Arizona.  What led to the creation of this program with your Shelley Rosenberg?  What led you to create the program in the format you did–with the incorporation of creative arts, yoga, and other methods of complementary therapies?

About 70% of the people who came to all the programs seemed to be trauma survivors- so we crafted the program to fit their issues.

Q:  How is it working in a mental health capacity with a trained equine professional?  How do you both balance your professional backgrounds and goals for clients (re: learning horsemanship skills and creating therapeutic experiences) to create a cohesive psychotherapeutic experience for your clients?

It is challenging and also wonderful.  We work as equals, and each do what we do best.  There is lots of crossover.

Q:  What would you like to tell other mental health professionals looking into complementary therapies for mental health?  What suggestions do you have for integrating a variety of holistic approaches in treatment for mental health?

90 % of all experience and communication is non verbal.  So complementary (non verbal) approaches are very important.  Each of us needs to utilize whatever gifts and talents we have.

Q:  Have you encountered any issues of boundaries using these versatile approaches?  How do you believe a mental health professional can implement a variety of approaches (creative, mind/body, animal-human bond) while maintaining their role as a therapist?

Humility, honesty and being willing to stay with uncomfortable conflicts, talk, work them through and move on. Compassion and humor help.

Q:  What are your hopes for the future of mental health care and integrative/complementary therapies for mental health?  What would you like to see happen in the field in the next 5 years?

I hope we continue to experiment to find ways to alleviate suffering

Q: What would you hope to accomplish in your work in the next 5 years?  What project do you want to do that you haven’t done yet?

I want to finish a book I began 15 years ago about my experiences with abandonment – It is a picture book with some text for adults.

Learn more about Nancy Coyne, MD at http://web.mac.com/coynecreations/iWeb/Site/Welcome.html

Q:  Any words of wisdom, inspiration, or anything additional you would like to leave the readers with?

Each one of us has the capacity to help and heal our own and each others’ wounds.  The horses and yoga remind us not to get too serious or arrogant.

Prison cell with bed inside Alcatraz main building san francisco califfornia by Tim Pearce, Los Gatos.

BRINGING YOGA INTO PRISONS!

A worthwhile program to send a few good thoughts and a few spare dollars towards.  Created by Swami Padma, Director of the Sivananda Vedanta Yoga Center in San Francisco.  If you feel so provoked to make a donation please click on the link below for a full description of this wonderful program & a link to paypal donations!

http://sfyoga.com/pages/prisonproject.shtml

AND…if you live in the Southern Florida…for every $15.00 you donate you get a FREE YOGA CLASS at YOGA & INNER PEACE Sivananda yoga studio in Lake Worth! Link below:

http://www.yogapeace.com/z_syvc_prison.html

It truly is a worthwhile cause and a great man at the helm.  If you do decide to donate a few bucks to this endeavor please feel free to leave a comment on the blog about your motivations in doing so!

~ Unspoken Prayer ~ by GettysGirl.
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.” Douglas Adams, writer


One week.  Two rituals.  Two spiritual practices.  But somehow familiarity in each and universality in the intention.  The more I become invested in a spiritual path that includes meditation, meditative prayer, and cultivating inner peace and connection to something divine the more threads of wonderful connectedness I find between myself and every other person, my path and every other spiritual path around me.  The greatest element of synchronicity I have been lavishing in has been in my Christian Contemplative and Mystic journey and my spiritually enlivened yogic Sivananda route.

I have made an effort to not be overtly “religious” on this blog but definitely openly spiritual.  In this instance, and for the sake of the beauty in this element of my life path (as I have found it) I want to go a little into my own personal faith space–as it were.  I was raised a Catholic, my husband a Protestant and we have been searching for a space, place, and practice where the twain should meet.  The Episcopalian tradition of faith is infused with lovely ritual and ceremony that I always found “homey” elements of Catholicism while also being richly community, mission, and textually oriented in ways that my husband has always loved.  Best of all that beyond both of our traditions of origin, the particular community of Episcopals we stumbled upon seem to embody the foundations of faith we both love–inclusion, compassion, universal love, open intrigue into the unknown, and an ability to interweave and converse with every other spiritual path there is to “God” or a cosmically larger entity than self–however one defines it.  That was abundantly clear when I discovered their series on Eastern Religions.

RITUAL 1:

Anyway, we both sort of fell in love with this beautiful evolution of our histories of faith with a core much more akin to where both our hearts are–in exploring the world and faith with open mind, open heart (as one of my favorite contemplatives Thomas Keating wrote of in his book with the same name).  And so last Sunday, on Valentines Day we became confirmed into this body of faith that we felt we could grow in and love together.  It was a far more intimate experience than I imagined it could be and intimate at every level.

I stood in the back of the church waiting for the ceremony to begin and recalled back a moment similar to that–my Catholic Confirmation–from over a decade earlier.  I remember standing in the back of that church in that “official” moment of adulthood and having nothing but questions and skepticism and some resentments.  I remember not wanting to be where I was and not sure where I wanted to be.  I was conflicted at every level of my “self” and I think I spent many of my years following in a multitude of crisis.  I wanted to believe what I believed in –everyone was equal, we all had intrinsically good souls, and there was a space in internal silence where a voice could be heard that was not mine but came from inside me at the deepest level…from the root of the root and the bud of the bud.

Last Sunday was the opposite of my initial confirmation experience I felt, instead of solidifying a membership into a religion and sect I wasn’t sure about I finally understood more clearly the heritage I came from and the progression of my spiritual journey that led me to the place where I found myself.  Where I could enjoy one path of faith and still be committed to learning, understanding, and finding likeness and beauty in all other paths to same source.  And without feeling I needed some sort of solitary allegiance to one place, space, and role to be a participant in my own faith; being able to explore all the others with a sense of the communal and eternal in all faiths.

I have read much and thought much about the young, childlike faith we all begin our lives inside of–one with strict rules, this not that, good not bad, right not wrong–a very black and white religion.  That kind of faith helps us formulate what we believe in at a beginner level and gets us, hopefully, to  a space where we are comfortable knowing our own “box” but not needing to live in it.  A space where we can live outside of our comfort zone, our known norms, and into the rich and wonderful rewarding place of exploration, questioning, and yearning to know the world at a more multidimensional level.  I think I had to get to that space in my own faith before I could enter back into a community of faith without feeling I was placing myself back into a restrictive box.  I feel a new sense of adventure about this journey of self, experience, and community.

RITUAL 2:

In the circular and cyclical nature of the world and spirituality I participated in a second ritual of sorts this past Sunday.  A Swami from San Francisco, a clever wisp of a man, cloaked in saffron with a softness and kindness in his every gesture, came to my yoga school this weekend and I participated in a Mantra Initiation and Naming Ritual.  Having missed out on Ash Wednesday, I was again blown away by the ever-increasing similarities of nuances and symbolism I find abounding the more I study faiths, philosophies, and spiritualities in various contexts.  Part of the Mantra Initiation includes the initiant having ashes placed on their forehead–to remind us all that ashes to ashes, dust to dust, as we came from the earth to the earth we return.  This is also the same reason Ashes on Ash Wednesday are used–the identical reason.  I was given the sacred mantra of my choosing–“So Ham”.

I chose “So Ham” because it means that we are not our bodies or our minds, we are connected to something larger and more divine.  Interestingly the root of the meaning in this Mantra is the same at the root of Christian Contemplative Prayer practice (as well as many other contemplative prayer practices)–we connect to the divine in self through clearing our mind of mental “garbage” and filling it only with sacred words and corollary thoughts and intentions of divinity.  Mindfulness is the beginnings of this kind of clarity–something that I have not come close to mastering in any sustainable way…yet.  I also chose it because this meditation mimics breath–in, so, out, ham.  It reminded me of the story I had heard Richard Rohr tell at his talk a few weeks ago.  He spoke about a rabbi he heard lecture who spoke about the origin of the word Yahweh in Judaism as mimicking breath.  It is interesting to me how the pace and origin of breath seems inextricably linked, in human consciousness and maybe beyond, with something larger than self, something divine in nature.

There I sat, on blond wooden floor and meditation pillow, clothed in the traditional white garb of Mantra Initiation made of gauzy linens and cottons, meditating on my sacred words, seated cross-legged and reveling in the lovely versatility of spiritual paths and experiences I had imbibed in over the last two weeks–of course in contemplating that fact I was leaving my mantra behind and becoming distracted from the very thing I had been working towards–inner silence, contemplative prayer, and peaceful mind.

As I smirked to myself at my own irony–I often do that–I found gratitude in being able to explore a world so rich with faith traditions that, while divergent in language, garb, and texts also so similar in nuance, ritual, and intention.  What an exciting exploration.  What a world of faith we can breathe in.  What wonderful new levels and pages of world knowledge I feel privileged to imbibe in as I explore yoga further, expound on christian contemplation further, and find the mystical beauty in every pocket and nook of the world.

I remember reading the prologue of Thich Naht Hanh‘s book Living Buddha, Living Christ written by the Dalai Lama where he said (I am paraphrasing) “There are places in the world where rice grows better and so people eat rice.  There are places where wheat grows better and so people eat bread.  There is nothing wrong with eating what is appropriate for where you live, what grows there, and what you were raised knowing.”  We find our faith comforts and that is often where we stay, in what we know, but in that there is no harm in learning and understanding and growing in our own faith by understanding better all those that surround it–because at the root of the root, and the bud of the bud, we all come from ashes and return to the same.

Om and blessings on all of your personal paths and journeys of faith and belief and finding what fits for you in a world rich with ideas and spiritual passions.

“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts.”

Thich Nhat Hanh


While my head stand, handstand &scorpion continue to leave a lot–and I mean a lot–to be desired for the first time in the history of my yoga practice I was beginning to feel very confident and proud of my tree pose.  How I could stand, tall and unwavering, in all tree variations with my foot perched high on my opposite leg and my boughs of strength and poise unbreakable.  And then I went and got distracted.

They say, wherever they are, that how you are on the mat is how you are in the world and every time I doubt it, even for a moment it comes back taunting and laughing in my face.  I Gould know by now, a such a strong proponent of the thread of connectedness between mind and body, life and the metaphors for life we are constantly presented with, how obvious the fact would be–lose balance and focus in life and it will carry into yoga or any practice of intention or attention.

As you prepare for tree you are always direct to find a point of focus on the wall opposite you–a distant immovable spot that you can fix your eyes on and use the stability of that spot to stabilize yourself.  The same can be said for life–we must fix our gaze on the things in our lives that are stable and unchanging, something secure and outside if there day-to-day chaos of living.

You are also told before entering tree pose to root your feet into the ground, plant each toe Into the earth and plant yourself solidly in that spot.  So, too, in life we must find ways to ground ourselves, remind ourselves where we are and secure ourselves stably into the foundational earth of our existence–so we can deal with the distractions.

When you are off-balance in tree you feel it right away, you lift off the ground and immediately begin to sway. Your fixed point on the wall seems to far &your mind is unable to focus wholeheartedly on it. Every shift in the room is unbearably distracting and every sweeping wisp of air feels like tornadic winds set on toppling you over.  So goes it too in life that when we are off-balance, not grounded in our intentions and stable base, and too full of thoughts and frenzy to fix our minds on a stable place everything feels overwhelming.  Every task , new venture , old workload, and duty seems like too much and we feel ready to collapse in frustration and dizziness.

In tree and in life sometimes we have to focus harder and work more dutifully to shut or much of the self-imposed chaos and storms in our path.  We have to take a breezy wind as it comes and not deem every wisp of air to be a storm and deal with every storm as I’d it were a wisp of air (now that is the hardest!).

I know that my excitement and happiness about all the many projects upcoming and those currently in motion have been both an amazing blessing and something in which I have gotten so engrossed that I have lost my balance in the present an in my tree pose.

I noticed it first in tree and then had to take the metaphor for what it was–a signal of self-inflicted burnout off the mat.  I need to breathe, ground, and fix my gaze at my own stable point of light band let life come as it comes and adventures unfold as they will.

On that note: with all the new change and projects coming together I am going to begin a new newsletter which I will be emailing out in the next few weeks…and hopefully every other month following that! You can email me at embodymentalhealth@gmail.com to get on the mailing list now!

Thanks bloggers and blog readers alike for all of your support & I look forward to sharing all that this new life adventure has to offer with all of you–one breath at a time!

(Susan Tebb, PhD in yoga class; lower right corner in turquoise.)

THE LAUNCH OF MY NEWLY REVAMPED WEBSITE “EMBODY MENTAL HEALTH” at www.embodymentalhealth.com (final edits to website content still being made), Q&A SERIES, & THE NEW LOOK OF ALL MY SITES INCLUDING THE ARTICLES PAGE OF MY WEBSITE at www.embodyarticles.blogspot.com brings with great excitement the first of a series of interviews with professionals in the field of mental health, mind/body medicine, trauma therapy, yoga and equine professionals and more.

Today’s Q&A is with Professor Susan Tebb, Ph.D.  Sue Tebb,Professor of Social Work at St. Louis University , a former Dean/Director, has centered her research interests around family caregiving.  She has written two books and over forty book chapters and/or publications in this area.  She has been a social worker for more than forty years working with many diverse family configurations in adoptions, medical social work, court mediation and caregiving situations.  Lately her caregiving research , knowledge building and skill training has begun to involve more complementary and integrative interventions, such as yogic techniques,  to deal with stress and trauma.

Q:  What is your background in the field of social work?  Which populations have you worked with and in what kind of mental health settings?


I first worked in the field following my undergraduate degree in psychology as a social work intern at the Red Cross in downtown Chicago in the middle of the Vietnam Crisis.  It was my first introduction to working with families and military men and women who were injured both physically and mentally by combat.  I then got my MSW degree at Wayne State because they were just beginning to work with families and not the traditionally, casework, group work, community organization that were what most schools offered.

After my MSW degree I worked as a maternity and adoption worker and then moved into medical social worker, working in cancer clinics, rehab, medical services and dialysis/transplant.  I enjoyed working with dialysis and transplant and so when I was offered a job to work for a group of doctors beginning dialysis centers I grabbed it because I enjoyed the holistic way we worked with people on dialysis, we got to know them and their families.  I continued this type of work in two other states and then left that area of work to return to adoption and maternity work.

I enjoyed working with families as they went through the adoption process to adopt an older child or a child from another country.  I also was touched by the women who made the decision to relinquish rights to their child and tried to help make this process a healing one for them.  At this time I was a single mom with two young children; their dad had died in a car accident five years earlier.  I realized I needed to make plans to have a secure position with good health benefits and so I decided to go back to school and get a Ph.D. in social work.  Something I had often thought about but never thought it was the right moment, well then was the right moment.

I moved our family to Kansas from California to attend the program at the University of Kansas.  This was exactly the program for me because  it was at this time that the strengths model was forming at Kansas.  I did my research and work while there on positive coping and strengths in family caregivers at the VA hospital.

Q:  How long have you been a professor at St. Louis University?  What do think are the most important things a graduate social work student can learn?

I have been at Saint Louis University almost 18 years.  Longer than I ever thought but it has offered me opportunities to grow and change and to keep challenged.  I think social work students need to learn to stay open to change, to
work for change and to embrace change in themselves and the people
they work with.

Q:  When, how, and why did you become interested in yoga?  How did this interest turn into a professional inclination towards yoga for mental health?

My first yoga class was in Chicago after I moved back following receipt of my MSW degree.  I have always liked sports and have been open to all kinds.  At that time I saw yoga as only the postures and enjoyed it but never pursued it more than an occasional class.  Then when my daughter was in high school we took yoga classes together for about one year, again it was still a physical exercise for me.  I have been running since my daughter was born and she will be 33 this year.

As I got older I realized I could not run as much as I had and needed to find other things to do.  I became interested in triathlons and in preparing for triathlons I read that yoga was a great thing to do to prepare for a race and so I thought, “Oh, I like yoga”.  I will try and see if that doesn’t help my longevity at  triathlons.  So I started going to yoga classes and it began to help my achy joints.  I still only saw yoga as asanas but I went every week for a class.

About four years ago I began to plan for a sabbatical and ran across an article about using yoga in mental health, especially with depression and so I began to look for more information in this area.  My academic scholarship is in the area of family caregivers of older adults; depression and anxiety are experienced by many caregivers.  I wanted to better help caregivers and so I continued pursuing yoga and mental health.

During my sabbatical I had the opportunity to visit Lynn Waelde at Pacific Graduate School of Psychology who uses meditation and yoga with many populations with very good results.  Lynn was so gracious in working with me because I had not a clue about yoga other than postures.  I also decided to take Amy Weintraub’s LifeForce Yoga Training and completed that and became a Level 1 LifeForce Yoga instructor and realized in the training that this could work with all kinds of mental health issues, in particular, anxiety, depression and PTSD.

This workshop opened my awareness to the eight limbs of yoga and thus I began to read, study, practice and meditate more.  I am now involved in yoga teacher training and will be a registered yoga teacher next month.  This training has helped me look at ways that I might work to help others incorporate more yogic techniques into their lives.  I go for my Level 2 LifeForce Yoga Training this spring and look forward to where all of this is taking me and will take me.

Q:  What are the effects you have seen in integrating yoga into mental health?  What do you think the impact of yoga is on a person’s mental health?  Why do you believe this to be true?

So often we forget that we can control our mind and that much of what we fear is in the mind.  There are severe mental health issues and I believe in integrative health care where western medicine and eastern medicine can work together.  Just breathing and being conscious of breath can change people.  Postures are important because they help us begin to bring the body and mind with the spirit together.  We compartmentalize so much and really we are connected to all that happens in our mind and body just as we are connected to all that happens around us.  I believe yoga, working with the various limbs of yoga, help us to begin to see the connections within  and without.

Q:  What other complementary practices are you a proponent of?

I am a proponent of whatever works for you.  I teach a MSW course on CAM (Complementary & Alternative Medicine) and love to see students begin to think of other possibilities for themselves and for those they work with.

Q:  How are you integrating your yoga background into your professional sphere as a mental health professional and graduate professor of social work?

I teach practice courses both to graduate and undergraduate students and I have a section on integrative and complementary interventions so they can begin to see alternatives to talk therapy and that talk does not always work.  There are times it is what people need but then there are times people need to make a connection to body/mind/spirit and that can be through yoga or other methods.

I am also working with several yoga teachers in the area giving workshops for the general public on the benefits of yoga and to social work professionals on how to integrate yoga into your personal practice and/or into your professional practice.  Many social workers were not introduced to CAM while in school so workshops such as these does just that.
Q:  What made you decide to take yoga teacher training?  What school/methodology of yoga are you training with? Why did you pick this particular style of practice?

I decided if I was going to bring it into the classroom I needed a better understanding and instead of bringing a yoga teacher in decided I would get the training so I could teach the section myself.  I picked a teacher who is very open to all the various types of yoga because I wanted to remain open to the various kinds myself and so he is a hatha yoga teacher.  We have been introduced through various teachers in the area to many of the styles of yoga and I probably prefer kundalini, Iyengar, viniyoga and ashtanga/power-and I like anusara and the therapeutic holds in Phoenix Rising and thus you see why I chose the teacher I did.  I teach a combination and on some days with some people more one style than another.

Q:  What are you most passionate about in your life and your work?

Happiness and enjoyment of life.

Q:  What are your hopes for the future of complementary medicine and
integrative mental health?

That insurance companies pay for it and more physicians prescribe it.

Q:  What are your hopes for the future of yoga in the mental health arena?

That more mental health professionals refer to it and/or recommend it to clients and use it themselves.
Q:  Anything you would like to leave the readers with–inspirations, aspirations, words of wisdom?

Listen to your body/mind/spirit connection and connect with it.

Q:  How long have you been a professor at St. Louis University?  What do think are the most important things a graduate social work student can learn?

I have been at Saint Louis University almost 18 years.  Longer than I ever thought but it has offered me opportunities to grow and change and to keep challenged.  I think social work students need to learn to stay open to change, to work for change and to embrace change in themselves and the people they work with.

(BELOW: Susan Tebb, PhD)

I began this blog, once upon a warmish New Jersey summer, in aspirations of great daily feats and defeats being regailed on the page during an arduous but manageable 8 weeks in yoga school.  I am rounding the end of week four, reaching the halfway point of the program, and find that my prolific nature has been more than somewhat stunted by no sleep, 5am wake ups, less sleep, more 5 am wakeups, work, yoga homework, work, more homework, even less sleep, and always, always 5am wakeups!

I have learned an immense amount in a short period of time, about self, perspective, and as my yoga teacher says: “Attitude, attitude, attitude.”  And I cannot wait to relay and give full account of it in detail.  Every inspiring moment, and flickering insight–I want to share in it, revel in it, learn more in the writing of it.  I find, however, that most of my reflection time lately is done in the 20 minutes of silence during morning meditation, before chants, and when my mind is supposed to be silent but instead clamoring with thoughts and inspirations that never make it to the page because by 630am my brain has begun to switch into “Survive through the day” mode and all whimsy and revelling is lost in exhaustion. 

So, here I sit, at 8:20 EST, feeling like it’s 1am.  And feeling a bit like a marathoner that accidentally sprinted the first leg of the race, cramped, and is way behind the others…huffing and puffing and searching for the finish line but not quite seeing it yet.  I have nothing particularly insightful buzzing in my groggy mind and only the thoughts of all the “should haves” put off till tomorrow and “wish I coulds” temporarily on hold. 

This experience is certainly once in a lifetime and quite blissful even in the painful moments (which are a’plenty!).  But I fear, for today, I have little in the way of clarity and great inspiration and much in the way of sheep counting and daydreaming of nightdreaming. 

I am excited to say that my newly revamped website will be online at www.embodymentalhealth.com probably by week’s end!  It is in limbo while it is being renovated and made lovely by my wonderful graphic artist miss Sandra Busta of Pole to Pole Consulting.

I am also excited to preliminarily announce a new collaboration with the lovely Mindy and the gang over at Wish Studio who is also launching a revamped site this spring complete with virtual studio space!  I will be presenting an e-course over there; more info to come soon! 

ALL MY BEST TO EVERYONE OUT THERE STRUGGLING THROUGH THE POSSIBILITIES IN THE IMPOSSIBLE & REACHING FOR DREAMS AND WISHES (both conscious ones and slumbering ones)!

I am sick.  I burnt the Candle (not the posture but rather my lifeline) at both ends and ended up pretty burnt out, a day off of work to recoup, and hoping tonight and tomorrow bring enough energy to get what needs to be done with yoga school done–this is no time to get behind now heading into the 1/3 mark of the program!

So how do I stay present, centered, grounded and not curmudgenly when the present is all  headaches and sinus pressure?  No, really, how?  I am sorting through this one and my favorite word of this blog seems to pop back up–perspective.  I need to take what is for what it is without spinning out in frustration.  I have to modify my do-five-things-at-once and collapse motto that I have been living by to get through two jobs and yoga school down to doing what needs to be done and giving myself room to breathe in between. 

MY TOP 5YOGA SCHOOL TIPS (for me &  for anyone else for whom this might apply):

1) Sleep, sleep, sleep.  Whenever you have a free minute give yourself a break and a rest.

2) If you have a low immune system take lots of Airborne!

3)  As my yoga teacher says “Attitude, attitude, attitude.”  It’s all about the attitude.

4) Keep a balance–yoga school, work, home.  And ease up the reins on each one–don’t expect perfection when juggling life tasks (or at any other time).

5) Sleep! Rest! Relaxation!  And so I am going to go lay down again although everything in my brain is saying get more stuff done!

 

I always loved the chewy taste of a rare, juicy, meaty steak and even when I would have “bouts” of vegetarianism for a week or a month I always said it was just for healthful purposes, I wasn’t one of those people who wouldn’t eat meat because it was mean to the animals because it seemed an unrealistic premise–we were born omnivores. Recently I have been having a change of heart and stomach.

The steps on this journey are as follows:

  • Watching the movie “Avatar” of all things and being reminded of the ancient, native traditions of blessing all animals that give us food and killing them in kind ways (reminiscent in the movie of Native American traditions where the animal is given a blessing as and after it is killed).
  • Reading John Robbins (heir to the Baskin Robbins throne) Food Revolution which was by mandate for yoga school but brought me to a new consciously aware place about what I eat, where it comes from, what that food can do to me, and what was done to it before it got to my plate.
  •  The desimation of our Iguana population at work by people poaching them for food.
  • And Max The Duck who wanders in front of our door (at work) with more and more frequency and who I find myself conversing (well briefly) alone with at 730am when I come from meditation to work very early and he is waiting hungrily for the crackers I feed him.

 

My realization that my consciousness about what I am doing and what is being done to others calls me to see that as a real piece in the process before my trip to the supermarket for plastic wrapped limbs. My learnings from yoga school to the amazing lecture by Richard Rohr who was introduced at the beginning of his lecture on his new book The Naked Now as part contemplative mystic and a proponent of eco-spirituality. He spoke about all the same wisdom as my yoga teacher in terms of our relationship and treatment of the world around us and how reflective it is of our inner selves–how neglect of these things are as much spiritual void as nature negligence.

My world and life, as it often works, seems to be circling back to an eco-friendly framework. One that spans beyond just recycling when I can and trying to be sustainable in a small scope. In a world where livestock has become an industry of warehousing and cruelty unless I plan on building a humane farm for one there is no way to really participate in mainstream omnivore lifestyle without being an affront to consciousness and conscience-ness.

This is of course a personal plight and journey and I by no means want to send waves of negativity towards the vibrantly carnivorous among us (ahem, my husband). I have not decided yet how this new attempt at gastronomy is going to go or what I am going to leave on the table–literally or figuratively.

What I do know is that I will have to do whatever I do with awareness and mindfulness of what I know and not be capricious about eating at any level. I think it is, also, no random coincidence, that my dietary suggestions for my chronic illness (endometriosis) include avoiding, if possible, most meat and most dairy altogether. Perhaps I am on a path I was meant to be on–spiritually and corporeally.

February 2010
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