Each week that passes, I keep hoping we have reached our limit for 2020. That this is the week we can actually begin living less fearfully, more 'normally' again, and that good news will burst forth. What I have come to realize is this year is ON, full-on, and it's not going to settle down anytime soon. 2020 is not letting us get away with business as usual. 2020 is demanding we all pay attention — closely. 2020 is forcing us to shut up and pay attention. Then, after we listen, learn, and discern, to take all the work we have done on our mats, in our bodies & hearts, and put it to work in our communities. All the personal growth we have been seeking and reaping the benefits from is now saying, 'here we go.' 2020 is demanding payment. 2020 will not go quietly.
For almost 8 years, until the global pandemic hit us in March, we gathered each week at least once a week for an Embody event, free of financial cost. Our events are and will always be offered to break down barriers and create access & unity for ALL people to practice yoga & mindfulness in a welcoming environment; to connect, grow, heal, and feel better. We exist to help people become healthier, happier, and to serve their communities. We all know our mission has two parts: the first 'feel better' & the second 'do good'. By and large, the second part has been harder for many for a myriad of reasons. 2020 is now louder & bigger than my little rallying voice could ever be asking everyone to show up & give back; 2020 is shouting from the streets across America to not only show up but to rise up. Many of us have answered the call in our own ways. Many are still discerning what is the best action step. Both are okay.
I know this is difficult because we may feel alone and disconnected right now after months of being sheltered in place. In California, we are still under quarantine, with no end date in sight. Many of us are fearful of going into public spaces to protest as COVID-19 remains an unseen, yet deadly presence in the air. This is real and legitimate. Personally, I cannot go out and protest in crowds, get on an airplane to rise up with my GR community, or even see four of my five children who are currently living in Michigan. My husband and my daughter have underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable to the COVID virus. I must be responsible and choose for their wellbeing. I know many of you struggle with similar issues of health, isolation, and frustration. We are being tested and we are forced to make difficult decisions.
If you, like me, are still simmering in fury over more black lives lost from police brutality, we must transform our anger so it does not win. We cannot allow anger to burn us out. The on-going work is to access our emotions (energy in motion) to inspire us into making the world better by using our voices, resources, and actions for those whose voices are not being heard. We cannot ignore things, people, situations, because they make us uncomfortable or do not ‘directly’ impact us. We cannot bury our heads in the sand until the world goes back to normal. It’s not ever gonna happen and I don’t think we want our world the way it used to be. Creating a world of peace, justice, love for all our sisters & brothers, health and systems that work for all of us, not simply those of privilege, is the work to create our new world; a world that works for ALL of us.
What we choose to do individually impacts the collective. Let us take this time to dig deep and ask the hard questions. As we all learn and grow as a nation, we are all called to use our voices, hands, and hearts for good. We can:
For now, please choose one way to make an impact. If you are struggling personally, make it a small, manageable step. Keep watch on the Embody Facebook page for resources and ways to educate, donate, and get involved!
Once we are able to gather again in person, we will assemble in a more unified way. I will keep posting updates as I know them; the world changes quickly. For now, please know you are not alone in your feelings, all of which are valid. Embody will continue to offer Wednesday evening yoga and mindfulness practices on Facebook. It's important to keep taking care of you; the world needs you healthy, strong, and ready to work for change.
Please, email me if you'd like to connect directly. I'd love to hear how you are.
You are all precious. I stand with you, side by side, in peace, love, and justice. I miss you all and cannot wait to hug you again.
First off, I want you all to know:
YOU ARE FANTASTIC! YOU'RE DOING AMAZING! YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
Though we are physically distant, we are always connected by heart.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and now more than ever we need to be vigilant with our wellbeing. If you're anything like me, you're more apt to reach out to others and make sure they're okay rather than ask yourself how YOU are actually doing. Too often we overlook our own mental wellness because we are too busy caring for others. I ask you to put that on pause for the duration of this newsletter, at least, and stay with me.
Let's take personal inventory on how YOU are doing. Give yourself the gift of taking a moment to get still, quiet, and turn inward to do a practice self-reflection. All you need is a journal, pen, and an open mind & heart.
Set up a quiet place in your home with your journal handy (even if it's a closet or bathroom) and light a candle (though not in your closet ;)
Close your eyes.
Breathe slowly & deeply.
Notice how you are feeling. Feel all that arises. Let go of sensations after you've experienced them fully.
Stay & breathe through the discomfort if it feel safe for you to do so. (Know it won't last forever)
Slowly open your eyes.
Journal your answers to the following questions.
1. How am I feeling on a scale of 0-10? (10 being best)
2. What is my energy level on scale of 0-10?
3. Where am I holding tension in my body?
4. How am I sleeping?
5. Are my thoughts overall positive or negative?
6. Am I able to respond thoughtfully or am I living more reactionary?
7. What and when was my last healthy, full meal?
8. How has my water intake been?
9. How is my relationship with mood altering substances (alcohol, food, etc)? How many times did you turn to a substance to manage your mood over the last week?
10. Have I been offering gratitude daily?
11. Have I been keeping a journal?
12. Am I isolated and lonely?
13. How is my attitude on a scale of 0-10 (zero being miserable and 10 positively amazing.)
14. Have I been checking in regularly with positive people? If not, have you considered getting a check-in buddy?
15. Am I overall feeling more hopeful or hopeless?
Put down your pen. Review your responses. Get radically honest about your current state. How are you really? What insights have you gained after the journaling activity? Do you have enough support or do you need to reach out for help? Are you feeling good and able to offer support to another?
Just being honest frees up the mind from telling yourself a story... 'I'm fine. I really am blessed so I should be grateful. I really should have nothing to complain about. etc..." Stop the mind loop and embrace radical honestly. Rationalizing away struggle just gives it space to grow. Give yourself the gift of honoring where you actually are in full transparency with yourself. Then, take action. If you're doing amazing, reach out more to others who may not be, find ways to serve, check on your friends, family and even your perceived 'strong friends.'
If you're realizing you need extra support, honor that knowledge and reach out. Seek help quickly. Especially since we are not gathering in person and people cannot pick up on nuances of social/physical cues, it's up to you to do that humbling, yet powerful act, of reaching out & ASKING for help. Call family, friends, your minister/spiritual teacher, counselor, and if ever necessary suicide prevention hot line.
There is zero shame or stigma in the struggle; it's real and we all go through it in different degrees & at different times. The kicker here is that since we are all dealing with COVID-19 and sheltering in place ,we are more isolated than we have been in modern history. Isolation and loneliness can become chronic and result in serious health concerns if not addressed. So please, let's together practice radical honesty and utilize tools that support.
Embody will continue to offer online practices tools each week to support your physical and mental wellness during this unprecedented time. You must take personal accountability to show up, do the practices, utilize the tools and do your work.
One thing I know for sure: NO ONE IS COMING TO FIX THIS FOR US. It is us. We are the ones. Thankfully we have a beautiful, wide & deep circle of care. People who know us, love us, and offer intentions & prayers of support each and every week. Please join us virtually for now to live our mantra, "feel better, do good."
Remember, this time will pass. We are not sure when and what the world will like on the other side of this global pandemic. But it is a guarantee that after the storm subsides, the rainbow will come out and remind us that life is a struggle & that life is beautiful. The full spectrum of human emotion & experience is our opportunity each day; the question is how do you want to meet your own life? With honesty or in denial? The choice is yours. I urge you to choose YOU, choose more life, more honesty, more self-care, while also embracing the struggle, the suck, the fear, the uncertainty. Choose it all and learn to play with your life as it is, find gratitude along the way, all the while remembering the rainbow is coming.
Yours in health, happiness, and community,
Tribe of Bad A@@ery!
How are you today my friends? If you're anything like me, it's an hour by hour question some days. Shelter in place is a challenge none of us could have ever predicted, not what we wanted, yet in a lot of ways what we needed for a global reset. We are being called to dig deeper, get creative with our lives, reexamine our priorities, choose only what is essential, make our health/well-being paramount while taking greater steps toward self-care. This can be a struggle when physical and social distance takes its toll. So what's a human to do???
For me recently, I had zero answers so I tuned into Hulu to turn off my brain's worry cycle! Upon a friend's recommendation, I started watching Alone Season 3; the History Channel’s new survival show. Though I love nature, I absolutely do not consider myself a 'live off the land survivalist' in any capacity. So I was totally blown away by the bad a@@ contestants who were selected. These ten humans had to live off the land in the remote, unforgiving region of Patagonia in South America. Objective... to survive as long as they possibly could completely ALONE. Equipped with only one back pack, ten tools of their choice and recording technology to document their experiences, they were left to face the unknown and fend for themselves. The last person remaining won $500,000.
This is a show not only of survival of the elements or desire to win prize money; it is a testimony to the power and resiliency of the human spirit. Just because someone could hunt, get a covering over their heads, and stay alive did not guarantee their success. The softer skills were almost more powerful. The contestants who found awe in nature and their place in it, offered gratitude for what they did have, stayed calm, and kept a positive mindset, had a distinct advantage. What set those apart who could withstand the real struggles were those who knew they were there for a reason larger than themselves, built not a shelter but created a home, and kept their minds engaged in creativity & inspiration while honoring the plants and animals that nourished them. Simply put, they tapped into the power of their own minds and hearts to preserve the strength and courage to keep going.
Sound like an important message for our world? The COVID-19 struggle is real. It feels like we are at times alone, struggling to survive. AND yet there is still choice. We can choose to stay calm, positive, and grateful or we can believe we will never make it, that it's too hard, and that we can't do it. Like those powerful contestants on Alone, let us overcome fear and uncertainty & rise up with more courage than we knew we possessed.
Trust me, I struggle too with keeping the mind gremlins at bay. Yet I do know that the power of positivity, love, and gratitude resonates at a way higher frequency than fear, anger, and blame. That is the path of yoga... training the body's internal guidance system to keep us aligned with a matched frequency to our heart's desire! How cool is that?
I heard a story recently about a military officer who said there are two kinds of people: 1. People who do push ups and get tired. 2. People who do push ups and get stronger. Read that again. Note the subtle, yet profound difference in language and spirit. Both are doing the hard work of push ups, yet the result is radically different. Who do you want to be? I believe you, like me, want to be stronger of body, mind and heart. Let's choose that! I'll do my 'push ups', you do yours too and together we can withstand the struggle and come out the other side with a hard reset, recalibrated and ready to reengage the new normal of our world.
Yours in health, happiness and community,
“Some journeys, we must take alone. The caterpillar does not judge itself for craving the cocoon. Do not fear the isolated path. There, you will not be lonely. You will meet yourself.”
~ Vironika Tugaleva
It is my greatest hope you are all healthy, safe and taking care of YOU. This COVID-19 world calls us now more than ever to self-care. Not selfish care, but the real, nitty gritty, sweat on the brow, care of self. The big girl pants kind of care that is accepting what is, being with it, breathing through it and taking the next right step. It means coming humbly to our mats for meditation/prayer/reflection to mindfully set our hearts toward a powerful intention & put it into our bodies through our asana practice. Our life is our practice; our practice is our sadhana.
That is what we do each week at Embody. Currently, being online, it offers more obstacles on the path between you, me and us. We cannot meet in person. Technology does not always cooperate. It can feel harder than ever to get to our mats. That is why this week I am invoking Ganesha, the Hindu deity who helps us overcome obstacles. Funniest part of this week's YouTube is that the practice I taught became an obstacle; as I was teaching the class, it stopped recording after 40 minutes. So once again the recording has a significant flaw. At first I was super frustrated when I faced the computer screen after one side of the final twist and saw that the class stopped. OMG I wanted to cry and then I had to laugh. Ganesha was telling me, oh silly one, the obstacles never end; they are a part of life. So I knew I could fight this one or go with what is perfectly imperfect. I hope you can accept me, as well as my flaws, because I want to be the leader and teacher who is transparent with failure, struggle, and stressors. So this week, you will experience a class that is incomplete and I consciously decided to leave it that way as a reminder that the obstacles will continue to come. I don't have a studio to retreat for perfect quiet, a camera crew or editing team to help the video picture or sound & I definitely don't have wardrobe or make up. I have myself, my passions, skills and talents along with my imperfections and growing edge of teaching online. The work becomes how we meet the obstacles; the obstacles are the way.
I ask you to meet this week's class with grace and humor. Simply finish the practice on your own by completing the second side of the twist then lie back for a final savasana. Know that your practice bears fruit; your efforts are blessed. Leave your mat knowing that the spirit of Ganesha is always with you to help you transcend your obstacles with humor, and also remind you that though the obstacles will never end, you have the tools to withstand and overcome the tough times, and a community behind you to cheer you on (virtually for now.)
Reach out for help. Be a blessing for another. You. Me. Us. We cannot withstand the obstacles alone. We need each other, our shared practice, and the Circle of Care that holds us all as one.
Go in peace my friends. Shine your light. Share your life. The world needs YOU now more than ever.
I love you all.
Yours in health, happiness, and community,
“The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.”
PLEASE READ BEFORE YOU PRACTICE This week's recording cut off early (oh technology ;/ I ask you to meet it with grace and humor. Simply finish the practice on your own by completing the second side of the twist then lie back for a final savasana. Know that your practice bears fruit; your efforts are blessed. Leave your mat knowing that the spirit of Ganesha is always with you to help you transcend your obstacles with humor, and also remind you that though the obstacles will never end, you have the tools to withstand and overcome the tough times, and a community behind you to cheer you on (virtually for now.)
Tribe of Compassion,
How are YOU? Are you checking in on your own well being? If you're feeling alone, depleted, stressed, and in need of 'something' (whatever that might be), REACH OUT!! Make that phone call, send a text, a facebook shout out- do not go it alone!
How are your people that do not live in your home? Your parents, friends, neighbors, Embody tribe? Sometimes simply checking on someone else, getting out of our own heads and stories, helps us feel valuable and connected. So even if you are not optimal, get out of your own way and try to make the day brighter for someone else.
Either way.... REACH OUT! We are not meant to live in isolation. We are human beings hardwired for connection. Well before COVID-19 hit, Brene Brown wrote:
"We’re in a spiritual crisis, the key to building a true belonging practice is maintaining our belief in inextricable human connection. That connection — the spirit that flows between us and every other human in the world – is not something that can be broken; however, our belief in the connection is constantly tested and repeatedly severed. When our belief that there’s something greater than us, something rooted in love and compassion, breaks, we are more likely to retreat to our bunkers, to hate from afar, to tolerate bullshit and to dehumanize others."
Though we are all in our 'bunkers' sheltered in place, the need for connection is real and that is where the divine dances. We are being tested; let us rise to the challenge during these long and trying days to be the light for ourselves and others. This is what we have trained for and practice for each time we sit for meditation, get on our mats for a yoga practice, reach out a hand in service to another. That is our 'feel better do good' in practice- not sexy (the real work never is) but imperative none the less.
So let us continue to do our personal work, at home, on our bodies, minds, and hearts. Let us remember to ask and offer help regularly. Our interdependence is required for our survival and ultimate thriving, to live the healthiest, happiness, most meaning-filled lives we can imagine. We are being tested, taken to our knees, wishing this burden could be lifted. Let us accept what is, stay grounded in the present moment, do our practices, and know this too shall pass. On the other side we will gather again for actual human hugs, acts of communal service and the biggest community practices; we will come together stronger than ever. Of that I am certain. So until then stay healthy & calm; be still and know all is well.
Yours in health, happiness and community,
Join us in an online yoga practice led by Dana for "Finding Center During Uncertain Times."
"The distance of a voice, is only a short time away from touch." Anthony Liccione
“The EmbodyGR community embraces and supports, says ‘yes you can’ when the noisy inner voice says, ‘no you can’t’ – Kari Wilson, Community Member