Our bodies as vehicles of beauty… thank you, Rachael.

Help Hope Live

In honor of Mobility Awareness Month, we are exploring how a spinal cord injury can impact your passions and your perspective on life.

Kirk Williams is an avid explorer who sustained a C5 spinal cord injury in a mountain biking accident in 2009. Kirk continues to seek out new experiences and stretch his limits every day.

spinal cord injury Kirk Williams travel photography barn adventureKirk, how did your injury influence your thirst for adventure?

My injury did influence my hobbies post-accident but I haven’t stopped doing what I love. I still do photography, camp, mountain bike and various other things. I’ve also learned how to do new hobbies like wheelchair rugby, scuba diving and hand cycling. I love travel, and I was not reluctant at all to travel after my injury. I got back into my adventure lifestyle.

Kirk Williams spinal cord injury HelpHOPELive service dog mountains river adventureAre there any hobbies that help you to stay positive?

Writing on my blog was beneficial, especially being able to…

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Posted by: Brie | February 2, 2015

On the Borderland of Soul

A Lionhearted Journey towards Authenticity©

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When the skyline falls

into the star-studded midnight blue

and a solitary Swallow

slips into a slipstream fading from view

This is the moment

when all that is so dear

feels intimately near

beautiful here

becomes the dark too

This is where I stand in awe

this soul so imperfectly embodied

I could not ask for more

standing on the borderland of Soul

What in this moment shall I believe?

when the world runs according to a particular order

Who holds the key to life’s mystery?

In this moment then with its simple beauty

I shall believe

this experience internally

not what I am told to see

but this indescribable energy

delicately enfolding me

How do I describe?

what spills into and over me

that which has no external source

Overjoyed I am

with this sensation that belongs to no one

It originates within the soul fountain

There is a…

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Posted by: Brie | March 1, 2013

Eating Disorders Awareness Week New York Tour

Eating Disorders Awareness Week New York Tour

Girls amaze me everywhere I go. I am thankful for this opportunity to touch and learn from lives. Something bigger is at play here. I can’t see it but I can feel it.

More to come when I’m rested…

Posted by: Brie | January 4, 2013

Wake Up Supergoddess! It’s 2013!

In the midst of winter I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.

– Albert Camus

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I too have been overwhelmed by the negativity – a young woman dies after brutal gang rape in India, a classroom of children are downed by a gunman, all of this after a 14-year-old girl is shot in the head by a terrorist and a 15-year-old girl is bullied to death by her classmates.  I do not want to gloss over the terrors the world has recently seen.  I have not known how to retrieve my pen from the rubble of this planetary dis–ease to communicate but in poetry over the last month.  So I didn’t blog in December.

Now here we are in January amidst it all, wondering which way to turn.  Our past patterns may have taught us to turn upon ourselves, finding ways to hurt ourselves to numb the pain.  Sometimes it’s starving, or stuffing ourselves with food or drink or substance.  But this reflects the old way, the way our unconscious once moved like shifting earth beneath the weight of snows.  It is the way of dark and cold, the way of winter.  What if this pain, this collective planetary pain reflecting as our personal pain could be the compost of our lives?  What if beneath the heavy frost of winter, new life arose.  The Mayan Medicine man I trained with years ago shared with me a cosmology that has helped me make sense of the world today.  Much of what we have seen reflects the winter season that has cloaked the earth in darkness.  But take heart, my little sisters, the best is yet to come.

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 Image shared by Shannon Port

The Mayans described 2103 as the birth of the springtime of the earth, that we are through the eye of the needle having ushered in the age of Aquarius.  As I was taught twelve years ago, I sat in meditation at 2:11 am in the wee hours of December 21st, 2012, and saw a dove being released, fluttering free before my heart.  I saw rings of people sitting in concentric circles in meditation and felt an intense energy circulating through my system out through the crown of my head.  I felt our united humanity.

CNN just announced a worldwide movement toward ending violence against women.  I am encouraged.  Women in Nepal are rallying in front of their Prime Minister for a safter world for women.  I am encouraged.  Thanks to Eve Ensler’s V-Day, Somalia is about to hold its first woman-driven rally for peace for women.  I am encouraged.  New Hampshire has become the first state to have an all-woman congress.  I am encouraged.

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Lets lay our healing in the lap of our feeling. We can rock our issues forth from our tissues and commit to being a part of creating the new consciousness.  Rather than numbing them, or pushing them aside, let’s simply feel them all the way through, then lift the veil that they present and peek beneath them.  Who are you beneath your stories?

I for one want to turn my face toward the sun that every day continues to rise and shine and set before us, painting our world with beauty. All the sun seeks to do is radiate, regardless of the ragged world around her.  So is it with us. When we gently turn our attention inward and open to our radiance outward, we can know this light and truth that is who we all are. Long may we shine, sister, and may we, in all our words, actions, and intentions light the way forth for those that need this light the most.

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In the words of my visionary sister Shannon Port, Women are uniting in the Heart. We are remembering that we are One Woman. We could never really compete with each other for anything. The illusion taught us that we could be threatened by another woman. It taught us a false belief that we had to compete for love. This has never been so. All that is Real belongs to all of us. Nothing that is real can ever be taken away. Anything that is won by the false will perish. The Truth will remain when all else is gone. We are one Body and Soul with one purpose. This lifetime is only a flash and everything in the material world changes. The young grow old and the old grow young again. To compete in the physical realm is to be in bondage of the Ego. The Spirit is alive in every Woman in the world. All are expressions of the Divine Primordial Woman.

The most important thing to do now is to check in with our Self and make sure that every one of our thoughts, words and feelings is aligned with the knowing that we are One. When we align with this KNOWING – the Force of Love will work Miracles through our Presence in the World. The old paradigm divided women and caused them to work against each other keeping them from UNITY. The support for this paradigm has left the planet. Anyone who chooses to stay in it will be shaken quite dramatically. We are moving into the knowing of our Oneness. When we align with Oneness willingly, we will be supported by the Universe in ways we never even imagined. The Feminine is being restored to its auspicious place in the World. Those who hold the Vibration of Love in their Heart will be the Teachers, Healers and Leaders of the New Era.

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 Venus being birthed from the center of the galaxy, shared by Shannon Port

So this 2013, I ask you, What do you dream of?

I dream of giggles and gigs galore, good books, loving food choices, saunas, a new book unfolding, friendships with little girls that remind me of when I was five, alignment with partners that feel the magic of this work, sisterhood with women, and conscious relating with all.  I release the old – mental attachment to stories, doubt, thinking I know how things should go, trading old habits of mind in for surrender, softness, and receptivity amidst the storms of life.

2013 is a good time to dream.  There is a momentum building.  I believe in our potential to set a new course.  2013 has been coined the year of the Goddess.  What sister, do you dream of, and more importantly, how will you serve?

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One of the lines that has always gotten me through life as an activist was given to me by my boyfriend.  Don’t let the turkeys get you down! he always says and no matter what is going on when I hear it, my face lights up and giggles spill.  What I love most about Thanksgiving is that it is a time to reflect on the abundance that surrounds us.  While it may not always seem apparent, life itself is an endlessly regenerating gift and sacred opportunity for self-realization.  This season’s blog is a tribute to all the women who have offered their ineffable goodness to Love the Skin You’re In.  You are too numerous for a single blog; every time I go to publish this another one of you pops into my consciousness.  Whether you find yourself in what follows or not, know that I couldn’t be where I am without you.

While many people are moved by this project, I have never seen someone so actively clear barriers as Dr Mary Tantillo.  Despite the demands of heading up the University of Rochester School of Nursing and directing the Western New York Comprehensive Care Center for Eating Disorders, she has wholeheartedly thrown herself into this initiative.  When Mary discovered Love the Skin You’re In, she reached out to every school region across greater Rochester encouraging them to host a seminar.  She then submitted a grant proposal, returned countless correspondences, and reached into her pocket to cover my travel with her tiny budget.  It will be my honor to speak at her Lovin’ Cup event there on February 24th in celebration of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.  This woman is my champion.

Thank you spirit, for bringing me Mary Tantillo.

It is Sunday morning.  I’m at my computer immersed in email networking to further my dream when the phone rings.  On the other end of the line, a woman’s voice sounds in high tones, awash in apology for calling on a Sunday.  To this day I do not understand the apology, from a Philadelphia angel disguised as a mother whose effusive goodness pours forth from her like maple sugar water early in spring. She has watched my video online and wants to do whatever she can to further Love the Skin You’re In’s message.  My heart starts to feel like a firefly as we begin the dance of female friendship, our energy at once meeting in the vast and sacred territory of the heart.

It isn’t until the call’s end that I catch her name: Merry-Lita Bliss.  Now I am apologizing:  I’m sorry, did I catch that right?  Did you just say your name is Merry Bliss?  As in the word that comes before Christmas and awakening spelled out? A pause.  Laughter rings magnanimously like Christmas bells on the other end of the phone.  Merry Bliss swiftly becomes a spiritual partner in ushering this work forth into the world.  Over the phone she becomes my confidante, a kindred spirit whom I’ve never met whose courage, born of heart, led her to pick up the phone and let me know that I am not alone in this plight.  We now have 10,000 young women in eighteen schools lined up in Philadelphia ready and waiting to hear this message.

 Thank you, spirit, for bringing me Merry Lita Bliss.

Here she is all yogified.

Okay I admit it:  I am on facebook, eyes trained to the homepage where photos by the hundreds scroll.  Over time, one woman stands out as one of my favourite cyber beacons.  Like a lighthouse in the social media world, Katherine Witteman’s posts shine through cyberspace guiding cyberbullies home to their true natures not by admonishing the darkness, but by bringing the light.  I am moved to connect with this Portland Mama Goddess whose family photographs carve pathways of possibility for mother-daughter relationships everywhere.  Katherine, whose daughters are featured as whole, multi-dimensional human beings sparkling like the sun.  Katherine, whose 14-year-old daugther Julia is beginning a grassroot documentary called The Courage Project.

The Amazing Julia, Founder and Visionary Director of  The Courage Project

Katherine, whose posts of Rumi, Michelle Obama and other inspirational figureheads remind me that I am not alone.  I send Katherine my video from my recent New Zealand tour.  Her superlatives evoke a party in my heart as she exclaims that she and her daughters have watched it three times and would love to bring Love the Skin You’re In to Portland, calling the work ‘life-saving.’  The light within me softens, the bright glare of beaming this work hard into the world of adolescent girls suddenly turning to a sure and steady flame.  Katherine is teaching me what it is to be a lantern.  In the blessing of her collaboration I know surrender and sisterhood, her gentle light like the moon reflecting on the stilling waters within me.

 Thank you, spirit, for bringing me Katherine Witteman.

I am home for Canadian Thanksgiving.  We meet in coffee shops with brick walls, attend leadership gatherings hosted by the local YWCA, pad through the forest in mukluks and soft-soled shoes communing with the trees and finding the perfect rocks on which to meditate.

Our laughter spills onto pine needles quilting the autumn forest floor as I learn to pronounce her Ojibway name: Waabska Biizhiiki Kwe.  It means White Buffalo Woman and she is reaching and stretching and leaning from the shadows into what it is to embody this name, a gift from a medicine woman of her tribe.  Waabska and I have been sisters for four years.  Spirit brought us together after a talk at her high school.  Her healing journey from anorexia sparked, she reached out to clasp my hand and a flurry of emails and phone calls ensued.  What an honour it has been to hold the candle she chose to warm her mind and body, to witness the sacred soul retrieval one embarks upon when knowing lands.

Waabska Biizhiiki Kwe shimmers as we walk.  Like a woodland fairy from our shared Muskoka roots, she seems not to be putting one foot before the other, but floating.  I bask in the waves of her joy.  I may nudge her when her mind gets stuck and suggest readings to light her way…but clearly this incarnation of White Buffalo Woman is my teacher.

Thank you spirit, for bringing me Waabska Biizhiiki Kwe, White Buffalo Woman.

I’m going to be a lion.  Her tone is insistent.  No matter the handmade-with-love fairy princess costume her Nana (my mother) has made for her five-year-old granddaughter, her earlier-requested Halloween costume.  Admittedly I wasn’t exactly stoked on the fairy princess role to begin with, but having watched my mother at the sewing machine for days making even a perfect silver wand to match, I felt my stomach sink just a little. Why is that Leah?, we all ask as she races around the house in the princess costume imagining her billowing out into the night all silvery and flush beneath layers of lavender.

Because princesses can’t run!, she says before racing to fetch her lion costume (also hand-sewn by my mother for her big brother three years ago).  Sam lovingly helps her into her costume as she lets out a mighty roar and I watch rapt as the two take flight across the stretching lawns of neighbours on Halloween night, Leah’s legs wheeling to keep up with her big brother.

But of course being able to run is the most important thing on Halloween.  A feminist is born.  In my heart a full-blown celebrative bash ignites as I imagine a world in which little girls everywhere duly ditched their princess duds for the garb of mighty lions.  What a wonderful world it could be.

Thank you spirit, for bringing me lionhearted Leah.

And so I muse: I love what happens when women unite, the mountains that move when they wake.  I love the lines of connection we forge – often at a distance, seemingly out of thin air.  I am grateful for these connections sewn together not by trust that is earned, but by trust that is given.

Thank you, sweet women, for joining me.

Posted by: Brie | October 14, 2012

Reflections on Amanda Todd’s Choice and Community

I am wracked with pain over the recent death of Amanda Todd, whose devastating line-up of experiences lead to her choice to end her life.  Having worked with young women for over a decade to inspire their sense of confidence and community, I am moved to speak to this issue.  
 
In a fleeting single moment informed by vulnerability, Amanda Todd made a choice that changed the course of her destiny.  She objectified herself to find external affirmation because that experience outshone what it was for her to source it from within.  Her choice represents that of hundreds that have simply gone unseen.  It speaks to a sexually exploiting cultural fabric in which young women are challenged to know their own boundaries, to say nothing of their true and inherent worth. Youth are taught roles and value before they have the maturity to moderate their understanding of where stereotypes are coming from.  A culture that presents such a narrow range of options for whole construction of identity is not a healthy one.  Nor is one in which one man’s deleterious choice to blackmail – enough harm done – eilicits a domino effect: a whole troop of youth bring physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual violence to an aching member of their community.
 
As a society, we are all accountable.  Amanda’s death is a call to action.  We must bring medicine to remedy the social malheurs that befall our communities.  This I know is true:  Youth are sensitive and emotional; they move with inspiration or desparation.  They are vulnerable, but taught their own strength, are courageous as hell.  Connection and community forge pathways through the fearful social climate they navigate every day.  What if the youth around Amanda had learned healthy, constructive, and non-violent communication strategies to find their way clear?  What if Amanda Todd had known the value of loving the skin she’s in?  What if media literacy were considered as valuable as literacy and young women were taught to take a stand not only for the legacy they want to create, but for the value of community and connectivity in creating it.  What if a young woman was taught to value her substance, complexity, and unique humanity more than her body parts?  
 
I believe in the power of social change movements.
 
Join me by lighting a candle this evening and setting an intention for the world you want to see.  May we begin by contemplating the light that shines within us.  From this recognition, what world can we envision?  What one thing will you do for a teen in your life today?  What conversation will you have tomorrow?  What will you teach?  Who will you be?
 
Yours in creating a more loving world for young women,
 
Brie
 
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Over the last year I have been witnessing the escalating momentum of women’s organizations leading a social change charge around our mass depiction in the media.  From Miss Representation‘s stellar documentary film to Spark a Movement‘s steadfast campaigns, I have known sisterhood in this plight to make the world a softer place for young women.  On the celebrity front, Ashley Judd issued a commanding cry for women to stop participating in the looks-based judgment that hurts us all; Demi Lovato took a stand for her natural curves; and Lady Gaga called out the bullying phenomenon that has resulted in so many young people no longer being with us.

All of this leads me to consider Love the Skin You’re In‘s role within the mix.  What is our facet of the diamond that represents activism?  Since its inception, this campaign has been a reflection of my inner life.  I have sought to lift the veils on media industries with a vision of empowering a transformed generation of young women that, because they don’t buy in, grow up strong and free with their intelligence presenting a spiritual chalice for the world.

As I reflect on what created my own recovery and enabled this dream, I recognize the critical tiles in the mosaic of an authentic transition to a happier, more peaceful and more engaged life: pyschotherapy, writing, dancing, Zen practice and Yoga.  This is when it dawned on me that the most powerful nugget I share with young women is a reflection of their own radiance.  It’s about our power to put inner peace in our own hands.

  meditating at the San Francisco Airport waiting for my flight to New Zealand

I think of the young women at one school lined up along the shower wall in the girls change room, some of them cutting, others dieting and not feeling so hot in their skin, now feeling their breath and body, letting their peripheral vision fall open and practicing mindfulness for the first time.  I think of Santa Catalina School that hosted a full afternoon-long workshop devoted to these self-care practices.  And I think of the long line of young women who used the presentation to catalyze change.  From engaging a psychotherapy journey to recognizing the need for more self-love, young women have responded.

 Yoga and Mindfulness Workshop at Santa Catalina School, Autumn, 2011

This response has ignited our new movement:  Love the Skin You’re In Source It from Within.  I have put this movement in the hands of some of my more active 13-year-old facebook friends.  “What do you want it to look like?”, I asked Jasmine Miller from Gravenhurst in Ontario, Canada.

Jasmine Miller, Campaign Manager

Her answer came in the form of a video diary:  everything.  So here I am inviting you to check us out on facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Love-the-Skin-Youre-In-Source-It-From-Within-Campaign/215754151831792  I do not know what this campaign will look like three years hence – its style and form will be born of the young women who bless it.  But of this I am sure: the love and energy I am witness to are cause for celebration.

On this blue moon, the eve of my birthday, I celebrate the inherent radiance of every young woman.

Girl it ain’t no matter if you’re fat or thin 

What matters is the light that we are marinatin’ in

So set yourself free like an exploded star

‘Cuz that is the truth of who you are

Thank you Jasmine Miller, Holly Smith, Lindsay Tweedle, and every other supporter out there who has given us a thumbs up.  This was the best birthday present ever!  The world doesn’t know what it’s got comin’.

Below: Jasmine Miller, Holly Smith, and Lindsay Tweedle, Campaign Content Creators

Posted by: Brie | July 16, 2012

Five Ways to Love the Skin You’re In This Summer

 Summer is upon us – a season of sunshine, skin, and celebration.  But for many, this is a time when the emphasis on outer appearances can quickly turn into an inner burn.  We can care for ourselves by remembering the importance of self-love amidst the sizzle!  Here are five ways to love the skin you’re in this summer.

1.)  Morning Meditation

Welcome yourself into your day by taking twenty minutes to feel your breath moving in and out of the body at the navel, soften the muscles of the face and belly, and let yourself be breathed.  This will set a nurturing tone for your day.  Furthermore, when we move our attention to explore our bodies on the level of sensation and temperature, we disengage the mental chatter and give ourselves the gift of simply being.

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2.)  Get Your Groove On

Set aside time for some form of bodily movement.  From yoga, to dance, to a brisk morning beach walk, prioritizing movement revitalizes our cells, promotes the flow and elimination of toxins through the body, and enhances mood.

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3.) Juice Your Way Into Your Day

Fresh homemade juices lovingly prepared first thing in the morning in your blender or vitamix will provide your cells with optimum nutrition and  absorption.  Throw some kale and chia seeds into any blend of berries, add a banana and an avocado, and watch how the chlorophyll and omega 3s kick-start your body into its happy place.

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4.)  Do One Thing A Day to Nurture Yourself

Only you can know what loves you up the most.  I love positive affirmations, massages, reflexology, pedicures, tinkering in the garden, taking time out to read my favorite book in a hammock, watching the sunset, playing with a child, and writing in my diary.  When we  create time for activities that nourish us, we set a precedent for self-respect.

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Courtesy of Allyson Haller

5.) Give Back

Giving back not only offers a gift to someone else’s life, it also presents the opportunity to maintain our sense of perspective on the things that really count and make life worth living.  Remember that beauty is a light in the heart.  Our hearts open in every direction.  As within so without.

Thanks for reading.  Happy summer, sisters!

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Posted by: Brie | April 30, 2012

Faery Revelation

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Soft upon a midnight wing

Life echoing from her pluck’d strings

She hath heard the angels sing

In soft articulation

 

Where all the coral bells do ring

To the forest she did bring

A Goddess made of everything

The breath of inspiration

 

And through the grasses spun with dew

The faeries wind with joy’s imbue

Pausing for a sip or two

Of moondrop satiation

 

Then to her forest grove they swell

That place where eve-kissed boughs do dwell

Far from the city’s urgent yell

In the woods of eve’s elation

 

And here she bravely sings her song

All worldly worries long begone

Here where the faeries hold her strong

In the place of lies’ cremation

 

They all dance long into the night

In rhythmic reverence of the light

Needing nothing, heeding sight

In this glorious salutation

 

For look now o’er on yonder hill

Through the mists that valleys fill

Casting golden heaven-spill

All across creation

 

They all bow low across the lands

The tides do turn in this great dance

Enter the lover of all plants

Maker of celebration

 

Forest dwellers everywhere

Teary gulps of morning air

The gift of life’s a grand affair

Sweet dawn of revelation

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My eyes blink open to rays of light streaming into my bedroom through the sides of the curtain.  I roll over and scan the wands of the clock: 8:30.  Yes!  I’m awake in time for a 9:15 am yoga class.  This is  cause for celebration in my world – especially when I can learn from one of the practiced senior teachers at Carmel Yoga Center:  Diana Balesteri. I glug back a litre of water, slip into a hot shower, throw my hair into a ponytail after yanking on last night’s comfy clothes and am out the door in my bare feet, mat in hand, before you can say Om.

A light rain is falling as I scoot through the door of the yoga center, lay out my mat and begin to breathe, recalling the dream from which I was roused earlier this morning.  I am flying through the air, loving the exhilaration before opening a big wool Carmel Yoga Center blanket to use as my personal parachute.  We’ll be working toward Hanuman pose, today.  Diana’s clear, steady voice brings me back from my riverie and I delight in the theme and its connection to my dream.  Hanuman is the flying monkey in yogic lore.  The breath connects us to the present moment says Diana, leading us to sip our breath through the vocal cords at the back of the throat as we quiet into an Ujayi breathing chorus.

The moment is not new to me.  Since its discovery in a Zen monastery, I have been chasing its elusive-if-not-acknowledged ways, and there is an organicity about returning to noticing breath and body as a touchstone for my practice.

Body movement was not always this way for me.  In the days of long ago when I was a top Canadian runner I left the moment for the alluring realms of the mind.  Seduced by implausible beauty ideals, I smothered my life in a non-life-affirming nest of views.  A voice turned on in my head shouting at me in full blast to lose the fat newly forming just below my navel, as well as the coating lining my inner thighs, psychically assaulting the soft layer of me most deeply and essentially female.

I did not then realize that my mind had become my lying, tyrannical master and I its faithful servant, regardless of the profanities it hurled at me.  I ran harder, longer, faster against an increasingly diminishing caloric intake.  My muscles dwindled and a strangely undiagnosable exercise-induced asthma set in.   My heart rate plummeted to 36 beats per minute.  It took a very committed family to corral me into therapy and when they did, suffice it to say, the real games began.

At 16 I learned to question the inner dictator ruling my world.  At 17, on a Panama City Beach in Florida, awash in fears of not being thin and beautiful enough, an event transpired that initiated a new way of being, washing away my ancient pursuits in a burst of golden glow.  My eyes were grazing a line in my current self-help book, Your dream is God’s gift to the world through you, when suddenly it happened.  The skies opened up and took my heart with them.  Bathed in a light whose source – the sky or my heart – I could not tell, I was overcome with a love I had never before known.  Grace had overthrown my inner dictator with her higher wisdom and fierce light.

When all this happened I don’t think I even knew what yoga was – besides some vague pretzel-style Olympic feat concept.  But when, two years later as a university student I was to find myself on a mat in a room of 100 at the downtown Montreal YMCA, I would soon learn what it was to practice making of my mind a faithful servant.

It was not through a forced mental clearing that I relinquished the totalitarian régime inside my head, but rather, through a tried, true and consistent dedication of finding my mat or sitting upright on my Zen cushion.  Bending my body every which way, massaging organs in spinal twists, and balancing on one foot, I began to notice that yoga was doing more than teaching me to think positive, healthy thoughts about my body through its first limb, ahimsa, which means ‘do no harm.’  It was changing what it was like to be in my body.

photo by Emily Nathan

More than a transformation of self-image, something was happening internally that was to have a lasting effect on the fabric of my experience.  My shoulder blades were melting down my back when I stood.  My eyes felt bright.  Energy felt like it was coming from inside my body.  My mind naturally began to feel like a still lake.  I spent many hours on my yoga mat and many more wall-gazing atop my Zen cushion to embody the shift that lights my days.  And I am beyond happy to share that I am no longer intersted in the swirling fantasies of the mind, no longer interested in a never-ending story of lack or self-abnegation, no longer interested in berating my body for not living up to an unhealthy socially constructed ideal.

Now moved by the precious tender possibility of recognizing moment-to-moment that my life is not separate from the lives of all beings, I am moved to feel the breath, sit up straight and open to the magic of reality.  Because reality, when directly experienced, free of our stories and nest of views, is a wonderful place to be; and this body, its ever giving vessel, is a miracle to behold.  This has been the gift of making the shift from body image to embodiment.  When we give ourselves permission to release the thoughts, surrendering them one at a time, when we recognize that we already have everything that we need, life itself becomes the gift that keeps on giving.


I am brought back to my yoga mat in Diana’s class.  I have just performed Hanuman pose – the splits – with not one but two bolsters beneath me against the crazy tight psoas muscles and relentlesss hamstring tension from running endless miles and perhaps not quite enough stretching to match.  I smile.  I am in Hanuman, the yogic flying pose.  I love how Diana’s classes move slowly, so slowly that we are continually invited to drop into the spaces between the thoughts, the moments of silence between inhaling and exhaling.  I love how palpably sun and moon find their perfect union as our palms find anjali mudra at our hearts.  I love Diana’s transmission, born of years of dedicated practice.

After class, I drive Harriet, a 94-year old yogini who has had operations on both hips to her Carmel home.  Harriet considers her secret to aging gracefully to be going upside down every day for three minutes.  She is a role model extraordinaire.  Like Diana, who is my mother’s age.  These are the women I aspire to emulate.  Women who are showing up powerfully in the world.  Women who are an example of radical self care and inspired teaching.  Women whose practice ripples out to touch all beings.  I place my palms together to say good-bye to Harriet as she moves her  body, eternally in a forward bend, out the car door.  Namasté I say, grateful for the women who have come before me, graceful ambassadors of  this light that lives as all beings.

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