There is powerful energy created when women with similar journeys and struggles connect and share stories with each other. It is a combination of relief and joy when we realize we are not alone.
I witnessed this in my learning circle on Monday night, and I was inspired to consider how fascinating it is that we connected, and all of our commonalities. I am also pondering how best to facilitate some practices that can help us stay grounded and centered along the journey.
Of course, y’all know I’m an evangelist for meditation and yoga, so we will explore some simple practices that I have found to be particularly helpful. I am also requesting that they commit to some small daily action, with the support of the group, to help build and maintain their ability to show up at their best, at home, work or in the community.
Since this is the first time I have offered this series, we will see where it goes. But for now, I am so honored and grateful that these amazing women have elected to join me in staying open to learning practices that will support their growth.
**The following is a post shared first on my LinkedIn page on Sunday, January 20th.**
As I write this, I am taking a break from some preparation for an upcoming workshop on “Embodying the Leader Within You” on January 27th. This has involved reviewing some of the beautiful and rich wisdom of my favorite authors, as well as reflecting on my journey in the past 2-3 years.
I realize that I have been trying to boil it all down, to distill the essence and meaning of what I have learned, so that I can share it in a way that is accessible. The “researcher” within me wants to create an annotated bibliography of all sorts of wonderful resources that have helped me see the world in new ways. But the intuitive wisdom that has become embodied in my years of practice and experience tell me to back off from that approach.
My 4-week learning circle to be offered at Tula in February is a more full attempt to capture the energy and connections I want to build between women. With more time, and with sessions that will be spread out, there will be opportunities for practice and contemplation in between. Respecting the “learning rhythm” of all participants, and recognizing that it is not just knowledge but PRACTICE that allow us to fully embody our gifts, we have more time to explore. We have time to connect with each other, to allow our energy to flow and to catalyze action for ourselves and others.
When we ask ourselves what we know, and allow ourselves to know what we know, the relevant points come to the surface. It is a little different from the logical and scholarly route I was taught throughout my academic training. Embodied knowledge is a felt sense of truth, that resonates throughout our body, with a vibration that can feel like electric current. Pretty wild, actually.
At the core of this is understanding that we are all connected, that we are all in this together. This is why connecting with others who are on a similar journey is relevant. It helps us feel and know that we are supported. It provides a safe container where we can ask powerful questions, and allow ourselves to grow in new ways.
If I can facilitate that kind of environment and create and hold space for others’ journeys, it will be a great privilege. If you want to be part of the inaugural group, please use the link below to sign up:
*This is an edited post from January 2018. I spent my day being in the flow of what felt right. So this post on gratitude is appropriate.*
I often sit in the morning drinking my coffee while I watch the sunrise, along with my cat (Willy) who watches and seems to love it too. Or maybe he is just watching for the neighborhood dogs, I am not sure.
We have a really well-positioned large window in the living room. This photo does not do it justice, but the flaming orange, red, purple and pink colors make me breathless with wonder.
It is these intense moments of gratitude when I feel myself losing the need to worry, and coming back to the present, where I have all I need in this moment. Such a simple concept, and yet we are drawn away from the present so often. It can be hard to live right here and now. So many distractions and enticements can take us away from the simplest joys.
Our habits of mind, well-practiced and reinforced, have not placed value on being, just breathing and sensing. But that is okay, it is still possible to learn and practice this new skill. The practice of mindful gratitude, focusing awareness on our breath or just watching the thoughts come and go, is a foundation for joy.
Last night during yin yoga class I noticed my tendency to escape into my mind when I was in a more challenging pose. But I kept bringing myself back, breathing into some slight discomfort but allowing myself to stay with the sensations. This is good practice for sitting with difficult emotions as well.
Life will never be 100% positive, and that is okay. To be fully human is to feel good sometimes and bad other times. The range of emotion is a gift to us as humans, and the less we fight and resist the harder emotions, the more joy we can access. It is okay to feel sad and to grieve losses. It is necessary and good, and allows empathy for others.
Joy comes at moments when we are able to notice all the good within us and around us. It can also be practiced, and cultivated with thoughts of compassion and love. Saying thank you to the universe, to the spirit, to a family member, or to whatever moves us, helps us to access that joy more readily. Thank you, friends. I hope you enjoy your weekend.
So this is really happening! In less than 3 weeks! I am so excited about this opportunity to collaborate with one of my favorite yoga teachers on this first-time event! This feels like soul work to me, and I am so grateful for the opportunity. Women in the Twin Cities: I would love it if you can join us.
Start off your 2019 right by putting yourself on your priority list with this opportunity, and what will be an awesome group of women.
On New Year’s Day this past week I attended a 2-hour yoga workshop in which I had the opportunity to reflect a bit on the past year. After some journal writing and reflection, we did a yoga practice and then finished with a meditation practice.
I enjoyed the opportunity to “digest” a bit of the past year, to celebrate it and to consider my strengths, or any limiting beliefs. In the final meditation the word/concept “integrate/integration” kept emerging for me, and variations on that word: integrity, integral, etc. I started thinking about the root of that word (think of integer) which is to make whole.
That seems appropriate, since this past year felt in many ways like a dismantling and releasing of what was no longer serving me. Then on Sunday I had another impulse to de-clutter, and to organize in my office (not something that comes naturally to me) so I followed it.
I allowed myself some time and space to consider the objects and books I have collected. What is that path of curiosity telling me? Which things can I can release? I have tried following the Kon Mari approach to do this all in one big project (which can take up to 6 months, she writes). But I have found I follow more of a spiral or cyclical path when it comes to releasing things. And that is just fine.
Releasing is necessary because we hold onto so much that we no longer need. This can be physical stuff, but more often it is out-dated stories we tell ourselves. I find that is the more “sticky” of our stuff. It is easy to give bags of unused and unneeded things to Goodwill. But how often do we enter into our deep consciousness to see what is floating around in there, and question if we want to keep it there?
When I did a coaching series with Elizabeth Dickinson this past fall, she was able to identify a few of the beliefs (or stories) I had carried about money that did not match my current reality. What an amazing gift, to release an old story that was holding me back. At one point, that story may have had a purpose. But it was at least a decade out-of-date. So I started trying on a different story, reinforcing a new belief that serves me better.
What is it you may need to release in order to thrive in your life?
As I was sitting my evening yin yoga class on Thursday, I found myself thinking about where my “edge” was. For those of you who have not practiced yin, it involves long-held poses where you relax into a pose for typically 5-8 minutes.
Typically you just soften into a pose, where eventually you find a bit of an edge, a slight discomfort when this pose is held. This allows the fascia, or connective tissue of the body, to respond to a gentle stress. It can allow for greater flexibility and release some tightness which we often develop over time, sitting for long periods, or doing repetitive actions.
I have been practicing yin yoga for 4+ years now, and I have to admit, when I first tried it, I did not like that discomfort. I was restless. I wanted to move, to come out of it. But as I practiced, I learned to sit with the discomfort, observe it, notice how it changed and shifted even when I was very still. Now I rarely miss my yin classes twice a week, I have learned to embrace that edge, and to understand the benefits of this practice.
When I think about life also, I believe we have a “growth edge” in our lives. We have a place where we long to lean into it, to embrace the slight discomfort that comes from trying something new or practicing a new skill. At first, our minds resist: this feels unfamiliar! Am I doing it right? What if others laugh at me? What if I make a mistake?
These are thoughts I had when I first started going to dance in 2018. I felt very self-conscious. A 40+ year old Latina that can’t dance?!? But I moved toward that growth edge. You might say I danced toward it, and decided it was quite delightful, actually.
At work, I tried new things I had never done before. Eventually I decided to strike out on my own, leave my corporate job and make my living via freelance work. *That* is definitely the biggest “growth edge” of my past year. But all the edge means is that we feel uncomfortable at first, and our brains are new to this activity. Typically the brain protests a bit, since our primitive evolution designed us to seek comfort and pleasure and to avoid pain.
As we lean into that growth edge slightly, we find that we loosen up. We may notice things we did not realize before. We may actually *enjoy* some of the new things we try, even if they are edgy at first. We definitely learn along the way, and if we persist, we may even master some new skill, discover some new capability we did not know we had. It can be very exciting, embracing that edge. Not so that we fall off, but so we can see our world in a new way.