On teaching and learning

Yesterday I finished the fourth and final session of a girls’ empowerment course that I was teaching every other week for an hour at a local community center.

During the third session I had an eye-opening realization working with these young women (ages 12-14). We got into a discussion of safety and violence, and once again my privilege slapped me in the face. Many of these women had observed or experienced violence in their families or with close loved ones in ways I am unlikely to ever understand.

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I had begun reading the book “My Grandmother’s Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to Mending Our Hearts and Bodies” by Resmaa Manakem. I wish I had discovered it when I first designed the course. There are many amazing practices that are yoga-like to help both black bodies, white bodies, and police bodies heal the trauma of racism in America.

I managed to teach “legs up the wall” pose first as a calming pose. Then we laid on the floor to do belly breathing for a couple of minutes and to notice where we felt the breath. We tried crocodile (on our bellies) to again notice where we felt the breath. After a few cat/cow transitions, there was silliness and I realized 15 minutes of yoga was the upper limit for this group on this day.

Though this group of women rejected “yoga” when I attempted it on the first class, by starting with legs up the wall, as a way to calm the nervous system, they seemed open to the other poses as well. Less talking, more demonstrating and practice in the future. Good lessons for me.

I thanked this group for being my teachers in this class. They seemed surprised that I would put it like that. But they taught me far more than I could teach them.

On the eve of another 3-day yoga teacher training weekend (#6 of 7), even if I am unable to count those hours toward my practicum requirement as initially planned, I am profoundly grateful.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

Never too late to be what you might have been — Libre Paley (Saturday Share)

The recent death aged 93 of writer Andrea Camilleri, Italian author of the Inspector Montalbano novels, prompted me to consider writers that start (not simply finish but start) writing in older age. Aside from one early (at least commercially) unsuccessful publication, Camilleri did not start writing until he was almost 70, yet went on to […]

via Never too late to be what you might have been — Libre Paley

Change and our inner voices

Hello Friends,

I have been reading a wonderful little book for my Yoga Teacher Training and I wanted to reflect a bit on it. Making a Change for Good by Cheri Huber is getting me to rethink my coaching practice and also the self-coaching and mentoring we can do as we meditate and become more self-aware.

Some of the quotes which have impacted me the most since doing the reading, discussing with my colleagues and then re-reading:

“In meditation we find the center of conscious, compassionate awareness, and from that place mentor the young parts of ourselves who never had anyone help them understand their wants and needs.”

Making a Change for Good.jpgThe idea is that we all have sub-personalities that evolved when we were young to help us behave in certain ways to get the care and attention we needed from adults at the time. This leads to the illusion of a separate self from the rest of life, a principle Cheri Huber calls “Egocentric Karmic Conditioning.” She explains that self-hate is the process that EKC uses to remain in power.

It is really fascinating. I previously called this voice the “inner critic” but I definitely can sense it arising when I am about to do something courageous or bold. My voice often says “who do you think YOU are?” and it sometimes gets me to scurry back to safety before I risk anything too vulnerable. But we all have these voices. Acknowledging that they are a product of conditioning, and dis-identifying with them compassionately is how we decrease our suffering and create permanent changes in our lives.

“So much of what passes for education is nothing more than adults inflicting their unexamined beliefs and assumptions onto children and projecting their own unexamined reasons and motivations onto children’s reactions.”

This is profound stuff. Since I am fascinated by theories of behavior change, and how we can adopt more healthy and sustaining practices to live well, this is my jam! It dovetails nicely with what I am learning on coaching for transformation. I am so eager to put this work into practice!

What do the inner voices say to you each day? How often do you listen? 

cristy@minnesotana.com

 

Wolfpack

Abby Wambach’s new book, Wolfpack, is short but full of actionable advice. She illustrates with stories from her own experience, and she unapologetically makes the case for a sisterhood of women supporting each other.

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I have two favorite chapters. From Chapter Three: Lead from the Bench:

Old Rule: Wait for permission to lead.

New Rule: Lead now – from wherever you are

This is a woman after my own heart. I’m fairly sure she did not read my manifesto, and yet her words really speak to my philosophy as well.

In Chapter Seven: Bring it All, she tells us:

Old Rule: Lead with dominance. Create Followers.

New Rule: Lead with humanity. Cultivate Leaders. 

Yes. Leaders all around us. People who are awake, aware, conscious and engaged in what is meaningful to them.

I look forward to new models of leadership in the world, more inclusive and supportive than the models of the past. We are ready for a fresh approach. The old way we have followed results in stress, burnout, environmental distress and war.

We cannot solve problems with the same level of consciousness that created those problems. Instead, we must rally the Pack toward our shared destiny. Amen, Abby!

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Icarus, are we flying too low?

I re-listened to a podcast this week from the On Being Project, one of the shorter form Becoming Wise editions with Seth Godin. In it, Seth explains:

The Icarus Deception points to the historical change in how Western culture both propagated and interpreted the Icarus myth arguing that “we tend to forget that Icarus was also warned not to fly too low, because seawater would ruin the lift in his wings. Flying too low is even more dangerous than flying too high, because it feels deceptively safe.”  -Wikipedia citation

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snipped from Amazon entry

I had not really *heard* this the first time I listened. But this time, it hit me differently. The part of the myth I remember most is the part about flying too high, not  getting “too big for our britches” and to be more humble in our aspirations. As Minnesotans this is especially ingrained in our culture. We are taught not to brag, not to be too proud of our accomplishments.

But that leaves out the other, more relevant part for those of us seeking something different than the “average” work experience. When we fly too low, when we aim for relative safety, the seawater draws us down, and ruins our wings.

While I have not yet read The Icarus Deception, I am intrigued. It is on my reading list. I wonder whether some of us haven’t yet gotten the hang of those wings yet, and we are not allowing ourselves to stretch them fully, and use them for what they were designed to do.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com

 

Dissident daughter

This post originally appeared about a year ago, March of 2019, written from Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I was traveling at the time. The Sunday haiku is taking a hiatus as I review some posts that are relevant to a larger work I am putting together.

Yesterday I read a line from a book by Sue Monk Kidd’s “Dance of the Dissident Daughter” that gave me a chill. It describes something about the transition state where I am in life right now and it summed up my feeling so perfectly.

When you can’t go forward and you can’t go backward and you can’t stay where you are without killing off what is deep and vital in yourself, you are on the edge of creation (page 100).

I took a deep breath when I read those words. Yes! Yes! She is describing how I feel right now. This was the end of her chapter on “Awakening” where she describes her journey out of a patriarchal understanding of her world and her religion into something deeper and mysterious.

There are times in our life when we may recognize there is something deep and mysterious calling to us. We sense that we are less of a “fit” with our old lives, and the systems in which we play a role. We know we will make a change of radical proportions, but we seek to understand the implications in our lives.

We begin to understand that wisdom is not something “out there” that we must find, or receive from someone else. Wisdom is here, inside of us, calling to us as though from an ancient source. When we begin to access that source, it has powerful consequences.

For so long, with images of God portrayed as a masculine figure in the sky, and religions that ordain men and not women, we as women begin to shrink from our own wisdom. We forget to question how patriarchy and dominant religion are entwined. In many indigenous spiritual traditions there are divine feminine and divine masculine figures. They coexist together, yin and yang energy.

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Photo credit link

To me, that is a more natural sense of divine presence. When I feel disconnected from source, I realize I have cut off my feminine wisdom that exists within my heart and my soul. Perfectly understandable, I suppose. The culture might radically change if we honored both masculine and feminine qualities, in a divine dance, rather than always viewing one as “in charge.”

Even that very model, as a hierarchy rather than a partnership, as top-down rather than in a network form, seems artificial and constructed to me. As a scientist, always questioning what nature might reveal to us if we were to pay attention to her, I realize my spirituality is undergoing profound change. Paying attention to this inner wisdom rather than subscribing to a “Father knows best” world means taking responsibility for my life.

Nobody else can tell me where my soul needs to go. But I know at a fundamental level, paying attention to her is what I must to do honor what is deep and vital in myself. In time, she will reveal what is next. There is no hurry, but I am ready to listen.

cristy@meximinnesotana.com