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Brain by dierk schaefer.

“Every man can, of he so desires, become the sculptor of his own brain”
Santiago Ramon y Cajal

Santiago Ramon y Cajal was a nobel laureate and one of the greatest neurobiologists in history.  His assertion above has been proved more and more true as time has gone on and more elaborate science has been able to affirm the brain’s ability to change.  REMEMBER one of my favorite words for 2010 NEUROPLASTICITY?  I have been, as a trauma therapist, trauma survivor, and passionate advocate for people’s ability to find healing out of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, more invigorated by the day with the overwhelming new science proving that my experience and beliefs are more than just hypothesis in the mist.

I went to a lecture last Friday on “Neurobiology & Trauma” presented by the highly esteemed and eloquent Dr. Amanda Evans of Florida Gulf Coast University (and President of Florida’s National Association of Social Work).  I love a good neurobiology and trauma lecture as much as the next person–well, ok I guess I love it probably more than MOST of the people next to me–but I never know what to expect and get nervous for a 101 type generalist discussion.  I was blown away by Dr. Evans workshop–she affirmed all of what I have already learned and threw her own vantage point into the mix in a refreshing way.

One of the things she stressed, and I loved her description (I will paraphrase), was the difference between a traumatic experience, trauma survivor, and a person living with Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  I loved that she made this distinction because as a trauma therapist in a small field with this focus–most mental health professionals don’t specialize in this area–I have found there are so many perpetuated myths and misconceptions about PTSD that often get passed on as truths to clients and other professionals.  Some of the greatest myths I have heard perpetuated by other mental health professionals (well-intentioned but can be so damaging for clients and the perceptions of PTSD as a whole) are:

  • PTSD is a terminal diagnosis–You will have it forever.
  • PTSD is incurable, un-healable and can only be moderated with medication.
  • PTSD exists if you have even one or two of the symptoms and even if they go away if they return (even one symptom) then it means you have had it all along.
  • PTSD happens to anyone who has experienced trauma–if something traumatic happened you have PTSD.
  • PTSD is treated with talk therapy and medication–there are no other treatment approaches that do any good.
  • …I know there are more but these are the biggest.

Dr. Evans, in her eloquence, stated: (paraphrased)

“Having a symptom of PTSD does not make the diagnosis.  A person may have a flashback or intrusive thought at some point triggered by something that happens but that does not mean they have PTSD.  Post traumatic stress disorder is a persistent cluster of symptoms so great and overwhelming that they impact functioning and living life.  They affect a person’s ability to work, have personal relationships, and generally function in the world.  If you are not experiencing these elements in your daily life then you are having a normal response to a traumatic experience if you occasionally are reminded and it brings on a singular nightmare, thought, flashback–that is ok and does not mean that you have a disordered condition.  There is a misrepresentation of the difference between a normative response of a trauma survivor and a disordered way of being.”

Again, this is my paraphrasing of her words but the gist is what she stated.  It is always exciting for me to hear another professional, especially a well-versed specialist in the area of trauma, neurobiology, and diagnosis, describe what I know to be true as well.  Our brains can change.  The very nature of our own capacity for survival–mind,body, and spirit–that help us to SURVIVE are what can entrench that survival instinct and create a disordered response to the world–one that is all survival mode all the time.  This entrenched way of being that becomes a disordered response to the world in all aspects (mind,body, and spirit) are PTSD.  We can chip away at those responses and CHANGE our brain with the same resilience and survival capacity that brought us into a PTSD state in the first place.  The brain and our humanity are complex but also simple–we survive and hopefully through work we can do more than that and begin to THRIVE.  This is true for trauma survivors and everyone overcoming difficulties in life.

This also relates so much to MIND, BODY, and SPIRIT WELLNESS in that it gives hope and the potential for hope and change in ourselves and our lives grounding in reality and science!  Whether you are dealing with traumatic issues, stress, anxiety, or any emotionally distressing experience you can know that there is hope in our world and in our own BRAINS for CHANGE.  Neuroscientists are saying it, therapists are saying it, and the illusions and myths are being dispelled to make way for the truths of hard science and soft science.  I have known my own truth in my life, PTSD, and recovery journey in a visceral way…these new facts only help me to depict this truth concretely for others and be able to be an instiller of hope in my clients lives rather than handing out terminal diagnosis of disorder with no end.

APRIL is the beginning of Sexual Assault Awareness month and in the honor of that I wanted to discuss the exciting world of hope in recovery and healing from traumatic experience.  I hope more people can believe in themselves, their brains, their spirits, their bodies and the ability to find healing from a variety of sources!  I discovered yoga as an avenue to my own wellness and found, through neurobiology and the roots of trauma and trouble with speech in trauma, that movement can often be a great outlet for emotional pain when talk cannot.  I hope everyone, trauma survivor, and just those surviving their own issues of life, takes the time to search for their own avenues to wellness!  What do you love? What brings you comfort? Start there and reach out for professional help if you need it–there are ways to healing and there are people who can help!

All my thoughts and blessings to those suffering from emotional pains today and every day.


NOW ADDED to my WEBSITE at www.embodymentalhealth.com and it’s own BLOG PAGE at http://pranaequus.blogspot.com is my newly launching program called PRANA EQUUS!  I am super excited about this as I have been working towards it since I began integrating yoga and creative arts into Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy programming!

I will be working in collaboration with Therapeutic Riding Instructor Maurette Hanson of ANGEL SMILE FARM, LLC.  Check out the blog for more information and new posts here and on that blog upcoming!

YAY–exciting things on the horizon!

ALSO: I made the logo myself on my software I have been fiddling around with–thought it was worth a shot to try on a Sunday afternoon :).  It may not be the permanent solution to a logo but it encompasses the essence of what I want to convey so it is a beginning!  Feel free to weigh in on your thoughts about the look or ideas–I would love to hear!  My initial thought was to have the horse breathing colorful (pink, purple,or  grey) smoke but I lack the skills for that so perhaps another draft might integrate that piece.  Again, let me know your thoughts–on the program, the logo, and my phrase–which, yes, is an equine play on “off the mat” philosophy in a psychotherapy context!

Namaste and hope you all had a great weekend!

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!

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 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.

Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance and order and rhythm and harmony.

Thomas Merton

 

Thomas Merton, who also wrote the book of essays entitled No Man Is An Island, wrote with such clarity and certitude it is hard to argue with the above statement or the one in the title of his short stories.  I have often had a problem trying to defy both of his certainties in my life–living life in intensity rather than balance and in solitary defiance rather than union with all.  I have gotten better as I age, and learn, and read more of the wisdom of people like Merton, but somehow the roots of my old patterns seem to rear their ugly heads just when I think I am dissolving them.  Like in HEADSTANDS. 

Headstands are the symbolic and literal depiction of balance.  If you are out of balance you may be able to hide it in a shoulder stand or even a tree pose but somehow the headstand always knows.  And I am a flunkie of the headstand barometer of balance.  I fall, I flop, I roll out, and crumple up.  Fear, indecision, uncertainty, and lack of personal balance all come falling onto the floor with me and leave me feeling bare.  I am brutally aware of my faltering points in headstand, or rather not-in-headstand, in a way that somehow I can ignore in the world off the mat. 

But the headstand knows–and it towers over me in mockery of what I cannot yet do.  Let go enough to just give over to the unknown.  Find centeredness at my inner core unshakable even when the world topples on its head and flips upside down.  But I am working on it and I breathe and release and try again, lifting off the mat for a moment before crumbling down again. 

I may be floppy and fumbling and anything but graceful but I persist.  And one day, hopefully sooner than later, I will lift off with confidence and equilibrium–proving that even when the world flips 180 degrees I can stand firmly on my head and face it.

 HAVE A WONDEFUL, BALANCED , & CENTERED WEEKEND!

 
“A horse loves freedom, and the weariest old work horse will roll on the ground or break into a lumbering gallop when he is turned loose into the open.”
 
 Gerald Raferty
 
 
Monday mornings at work are always a swirl of mystery, magic, and surprises.  I suppose this is bound to be the case in beginning my work week at a Therapeutic Riding Center.  The facility I run my Equine Facilitated Psychotherapy group out of is a quiet nook of the world on a sandy dirt road edging a canal ravine.  I don’t know if anyone else does this on this particular stretch of street but I find myself glancing down at the murky green waters waiting to see round, black alligator eyes peering up at me.  The center itself is vast acreage lined with white wooden fences and a crisp white barn that houses 16 or so horses.  Monday mornings are reserved just for my group and the cleaning crew, inmates from a local prison facility.  It is an interesting mix of life–horses in stables, convicts driving small tractors, and my little group of trauma survivors working with their equine counterparts.  In its surreality it is quite freeing and outside of social norms and constructs.  We are dancing a dance that is part magic, part illusion, and yet more real than most that life has to offer.  Something in horses brings real to the surface and pushes out all the tedium and strife that are found outside stable gates.  Horses, like yoga, strip life away to its naked essence and allow for us to breathe in the moment and leave everything else behind. 
 
 
This particular Monday morning I was absurdly alert and reflective, still lingering on my 5am wake up, 6am meditation and the lack of television, radio, and all superfluous noise in my life.  My mind was paradoxically more quiet and more active than it normally is on any given Monday.  In that I mean that my brain had omitted a lot of the white noise from conscious thought and in its place was an awakened clarity and sharpness that I guess is the result of having been up for hours and having meditated to start my day.
 
 
Suddenly, I heard a loud thunk and vocal commotion and turned around the side of the barn to see a white mare galloping off through the back of the stalls.  I see a correctional officer, the guardian of the inmates, standing baffled and amused holding the chain latch of the horse’s stall.  “I can’t believe it, she chewed through the damn thing again.  That is the second time she has done that,” he said and kept repeating it as if he could not imagine such tenaciousness in a horse.  An older inmate standing next to me, and dressed in his working blue cotton uniform, looked in my eyes and said, “She just wants that freedom, you can see it in how she’s running.”  He stared after her, mesmerized, as the last bit of her white mane disappeared around the corner and I looked over at him wondering if he knew how profoundly metaphoric his statement had just been.
 
 
Here stood a man who was living in a world that was predominantly caged and in the one place in his week where he was given freedom, space, clean country air, and equine surroundings.  And as he watched this white mare’s dedicated effort to break free of her cage I could feel, in my proximity to him, his understanding of her yearning.  And in them both I saw a moment of magic–connection between human and horse and metaphor from the stables into the world.  It was one of those moments you want to bottle both miraculous, soulful, joyful, and sorrowful.  The smile on the inmate’s face lingered as he turned from the horse and went back to his shovel, back to his work, and back into the mind of a man who understood the yearning to be free. 
 
 
In that moment I shared with both of them, before the white mare was brought back to her stall, I saw a sliver of that man and a glimmer of that horse, and both of their natural longing to be free in the world–the way they once were.  Some days, especially lately, juggling worlds upon worlds, I feel like maybe I am overloaded and completely insane in my juggling efforts.  On days like Monday I am grateful for the world I live in, the life I have, and the honor I feel in being able to work in a way that facilitates moments like these–spontaneous and amazing. 
 

 

“Serve, Love, Give, Purify, Meditate, Realize.” 

Swami Sivananda

What I expected to find in my foray into a monastic lifestyle and 5 am wake ups was a bit of delirium and a lot of discomfort.  This is true, there is no doubt.  But in the process, even 8 days into my 8 week internment into the monastic protocols of my Sivananda yoga teacher training I have also found a teensy bit of peace of mind that seems to, in my brighter moments, more than make up for complete body and mind exhaustion by day’s end.  Here is a bit inside my Sivananda world  and tandum work experience for a bit of insight into this whole endeavor:

Monday :

5am rising

6am-715am meditation

730 (early) to work-4:30pm TRAUMA THERAPY

5-600pm second work ADDICTIONS THERAPY

630pm Home to write some notes and go to sleep

Tuesday:

5am rising

6am-715am meditation

730 (early) to work-5:10pm (late staying and early coming most days because there is not enough time to come home between the two in the am and pm) TRAUMA THERAPY

5:30-6:45pm Yoga class (take or assist in the class)

7-10pm yoga academics class

10:30 Home for sleeps

Wednesday:

5am rising

6am-715am meditation

7:15-8:45am Yoga class

9-10:30am Yoga class (make up for missed class Mondays because of night job)

IF I can 11:00-12:00pm yoga class (make up for missed class on Friday because of night job)

12:30pm-9:00pm TRAUMA THERAPY

9:30pm Home for sleeps

Thursday:

5am rising

6am-715am meditation

730 (early) to work-5:10pm (late staying and early coming most days because there is not enough time to come home between the two in the am and pm) TRAUMA THERAPY

5:30-6:45pm Yoga class (take or assist in the class)

7-10pm yoga academics class

10:30 Home for sleeps

Friday

5am rising

6am-715am meditation

730 (early) to work-4:30pm TRAUMA THERAPY

5-7:30pm second work ADDICTIONS THERAPY

8:00pm Home to write some notes and go to sleep

Saturday

5am rising

6am-715am meditation

745-845am YOGA CLASS  (take or assist)

9-1030am YOGA CLASS (take or assist)

HOME FOR COLLAPSE J

Sunday:

7:45-8:30am Breathing class

8:30-9:00am Karmic yoga (ie: clean up the studio)

9-11:00am ADVANCED YOGA CLASS (take)

5:45-7:15 Meditation

7:15-8:15pm Vegetarian Pot Luck (mental note, must remember to make something each and every week—when I don’t know!)

WEEK 1 of yoga school completed.  WEEK 2 is moving forward–with or without my consciousness!  I am proud to say I have only had an emotional or exhaustion breakdown 1-2 times per day!  Hoping to maintain or improve over the next week!

May 2020
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