Right Relationship


Did you ever stop to notice how it is that you identify yourself? What it is that you believe makes you, You?

We define ourselves in relation to one another; mother, wife, friend, daughter, teacher. It is through our relationship to others that we say; This is who I am.

We define ourselves through our affiliations; the political party we belong to, the religion we hold dear, the schools we went to, the yoga class we attend. It is through belonging that we say; This is who I am.

We define ourselves according to what we can and cannot do; I am a good dancer, I can’t draw, I am good with numbers, I am good with people, I can’t let go. It is through our capacities, or lack of capacity, that we say; This is who I am.

We define ourselves based on what we own; our cell phone, our clothes, our cars, our houses, our degrees, our books. It is through ownership that we say; This is who I am.

We define ourselves based on the past; who they said we were, how they treated us, what we were good at as kids. It is through what no longer exists that we say; This is who I am.

We are relational beings; born to know ourselves within a context of relation. It matters greatly what it is that we put ourselves in relation to. And it also matters greatly that we are connected to something beyond the relational requirements of the world with all of its fickleness, blindness and projections. It matters that we are in relation to something that is more enduring and true than  past experience, or what we do.

The trees, and all of nature for that matter, know the way. They are for no other reason than, they are. Is there something in you that is, just because it is? Something not based on an outer reflection. Something not based on how you will be received. Something not based on what you think you should do, or be. A dimension that is not in relation to anything other than Itself.

We Need Both


The light does not fear the dark. The light is not made less than by the dark. The light does not run from the dark. The presence of darkness does not annihilate the light.

Each and every day we need only look to the cycles of nature to understand the truth about light and dark; they are two sides to one coin. We need both.

A Life By Design


Last week in a yoga class, the teacher invited us to see the practice of Yoga as a way to create a life by design; as opposed to one built on default. And there it is. That is the choice. Always. Each and every day. Will we allow the conditioning of the past, our busyness, our fears and anxieties, or the distractions of modern life to lull us into a kind of neglectful living? Or will we be intentional about our choices?

All around us, every day, we see the consequences of lives neglected and languishing in default mode. We do not have to travel far. It is in our homes. It is in how physically and mentally ill we are collectively. It is in our addictions. It is in the rape of the Earth. It is in the loss of innocence with our little ones. It is in money and machines mattering more than people. It is in our violence towards those different from us, and towards those we say we love. It is in our inabilities to make dramatic and sweeping changes as a culture for the collective good.

How is it then that we can move out of default and into something we create by design and through intention? It is not found in New Year’s resolutions. It is not found in a redemptive moment after hitting a rough patch. It is not found in reading or hearing something. It is found in this seemingly ordinary moment; the one that is with you right now. Here is the only place that you can decide not to do what you have always done. Here is where you choose to see the pain you are causing to yourself or another. Here is where you finally move your body, stop the emotional eating, choose a different approach to a loved one, drive differently, think differently, love differently.

As my teacher once said; “Consistency is the key.” To create a life by design requires choice after choice after choice; all tacking in a particular direction. So while there will be an ongoing series of adjustments, our aim towards something Greater is what keeps us on course. Do you have a something Greater that you are aiming for?

Wounds as Medicine


Six weeks ago I was running in the woods and thinking about what I had seen one of my chickens do, which was to leap up in the lightest and most graceful of ways. I was trying this as I jumped over things in the forest. It was fun. I felt so alive and young. Then, WHAM! I was on the ground. Somehow as I was leaping over a log, one foot stepped on a branch fixing it into the earth while my other leg came down on top of it. Pain shot up my core and for a minute I could not breathe. I was caught so unawares. That alone made me sob.

When I looked down at my shin, I swear I saw bone. It was grotesque. I couldn’t bear to look at it so when I got home I put a band-aid on it without even cleaning it out. I left the band-aid on for two weeks. While I felt an almost continuous sensation there, I just could not look at it. Finally, in the presence of other people, I did look. It was a little gross, but getting better. I regularly showed “my wound” to my husband like I was a kid with a boo-boo. He would put on his concerned face. This helped. Then the scab came off, revealing a whole new level of wound underneath the scab on top. There is still a bruise which runs the lower half of my shin and is sore to the touch. But it too is healing. I am seeing that even though the worst is over, there are still some things I need to do to help this along.

This experience has paralleled for me the first real “wham” that we get in the world when we are young. The one that cuts the deepest simply because we were innocent to the possibility of its occurrence. At first, it feels like it’s too much for us, so we cover it up with false stories, behaviors and defenses because we are too afraid to look at it directly. And then slowly, if we are lucky and starting to wake up, we look beneath what we have covered up; hopefully in the presence of caring and compassionate people. We start to look at the hurt, becoming aware of what caused it along with noticing the ways that it has radiated out into our lives. And if we are smart, we learn to tend to ourselves lovingly; all the way to the end. No matter how long it takes.

This morning, I was out running the same loop. Just as I became aware of judging my body through cruel and misogynistic eyes, WHAM!  I’m back on the ground again. This time with bruised palms and a scraped knee. I start to cry. The thought immediately comes,  “I’ve gotta stop doing this to myself.”

The truth is, those original kid wounds were inflicted by others, and yes they cut deep. But, worse yet, are the wounds that we daily inflict upon ourselves.

When Did You Stop Dancing?


Recently I was away at a dance gathering. At one point, we were asked to reflect upon why it is that we dance. Many, many reasons quickly came to mind. I feel more open and free when I dance. I feel more attuned to my body and connected to others when I dance. These reasons were all true, but were somehow less than the ineffable gift that dancing brings to me. After letting that question rattle around for a bit, the truest answer spontaneously came. I dance because I am more of who I most want to be.

I once heard of a tribal custom where when someone would fall ill, the healer would ask a series of questions. One of the questions was; “When was it that you stopped dancing?” Here, dancing can be viewed literally or metaphorically. Really what is being asked is, When was it that you stopped doing what it is that makes you feel most alive? Traditionally, that absence was recognized as a blueprint for illness and disease; a kind of soul-sickness that eventually makes its way into the body.

When I look back over my life, the times I was dancing reflected periods of both great freedom and a sense of belonging. So whether it was the years of ballet, dancing alone in my room, sneaking into clubs to dance when I was underage, teaching aerobics or finding my current dance form, I am never so charged with life as when I am dancing.

What is it that brings you most alive? This is not a should. This is not done as a means to an end. It is not a job you parlay into something else. It is, instead, something that lights you up from within. It is something you do just because of how it makes you feel, not because it gets you anything.

If you don’t know what it is for you, look back to childhood. Back then being charged with the sheer joy of doing what we enjoyed most of all was all we knew how to do.