Our Hindu brothers and sisters celebrated Diwali this past weekend; the festival of light which signifies the beginning of the new year. It's a beautiful holiday to remember that light prevails over darkness. What a timely message indeed.
The world is tough right now. The days are dark, many are back in quarantine (many of us never left), kids are home, many are sick & our hospitals overflowing. Lives, livelihoods, and jobs continue to be lost; it can look like there is no end in sight. If you're discouraged, scared, overwhelmed, or stressed, you are not alone. If you need to go under the covers, hide, go within, retreat from reality, do it without shame. Do it intentionally, yet do not stay there. A moment can become a rut that you do not not want to settle into & furnish. Though it can seem oppressively dark, remember light always burns within. Though the spark may seem dim, almost indistinguishable, it's there! There's always an ember of hope because you have life. This too shall pass. Feel your feelings and allow them to flow through you. Do not dwell too long in the lonely cave of fear, diminishment, and isolation. Even the bear emerges in spring ready for a new season after a long winter's nap.
Diwali honors the goddess Lakshmi on the festival of lights. She is the Hindu goddess of wealth, prosperity, beauty, fertility, and auspiciousness. With her arms raised to bless and grant, she signifies the promise of material fulfilment and contentment. Hindus offer prayers to Lakshmi to bring good luck and fortune in the coming year. Though we all may not be practicing Hindus, let us lean into this holiday of embracing light and calling out for help & guidance into the new year. May this blessing offer you balm for your soul and light on your path.
Oh Great Goddess, embodiment of the Lotus and the fulfiller of all desires, May your grace flow. May your grace flow. Great Goddess of all Creative Power and Abundance Lakshmi rose the spell of the intoxicating sweetness of the divine; to be close to her is a profound happiness and to feel her within the heart is the make existence a rapture and a marvel; grace and charm and tenderness flow out from her light, light from the sun and wherever she fixes her wonderful gaze or lets fall the loveliness of her smile, the soul is seized and made captive and plunged into the depths of an unfathomable light.
- Sri Aurobindo, “The Mother”
Shine your light, share your life. The world needs you now more than ever. Go in peace. Namaste.
May it be so,
“Nothing can dim the light that
shines from within.”
– Maya Angelou
Hello beloved ones,
I am not one to start an email with negativity and stress, yet today I do want to face it head on looking at the data with radically honesty and personal reflection. We are seven months into this global pandemic reality, RBG has been replaced in whiplash speed by Amy Comey Barrett confirmed to the Supreme Court , and our election is six only days away. The US economy is facing a tsunami of long-term unemployment as millions who lost jobs early in the pandemic remain out of work six months later and job losses increasingly turn permanent. Need I go on?
The stress of pandemic is impacting all of us in different ways and at different times. A recent NPR article states that we are seeing sleepless nights, hair loss and cracked teeth as pandemic stress takes its toll. Front line workers, poll workers, college students, teens/young kiddos, parents & families, racial/ethnic minorities, and unpaid adult caregivers are some of the main populations impacted.
Why do I elevate this information? Because it's real. SO real in fact I am one who is personally experiencing sleepless nights, brittle hair breakage/loss AND I just went to the dentist this week; two fractures in one tooth and I now need a crown. Seriously, I cannot make this business up. And this is just about me personally, nothing of what I know to be true of the struggle of my family, friends, and people with which I work. People are struggling all over! Though only I can share my own story, I do this humbly and transparently, so you know you are not alone.
What is the good news?
What is the good news? What is the remedy? I only teach that which I need to learn most, so join me tonight for Week 2 of our 'Sweet Sleep & Dreams' four week series. Yoga nidra and gentle/restorative yoga are the focus. We all need to allow ourselves spaciousness, graciousness, and the gift of time to restore our bodies, minds, and hearts. Calming down our nervous systems that are functioning in overdrive is critical. Caring for our precious selves is the only way we will make it through with our physical health and mental wellbeing in tact.
According to the National Institutes of Health:
"Quality sleep- and getting enough of it at the right time- is as essential to survival as food and water. Without sleep you cannot form or maintain the pathways in your brain that let you learn and create new memories, and it's harder to concentrate and respond quickly. Sleep is important to a number of brain functions, including how nerve cells (neurons) communicate with each other. In fact, your brain and body stay remarkably active while you sleep. Recent findings suggest that sleep plays a housekeeping role that removes toxins in your brain that build up while you are awake. "
The long and short: sleep is not a choice. It is essential to overall health & daily functionality.
How do we actually get more quality sleep? Though there are many inputs into getting a good night's sleep, there are proven ways that help support you. Movement and breath are huge; yoga, walking, biking, anything that moves your body, gets you breathing, into your body & out of your head. This allows us the opportunity to shut off the mind for a moment and silence the chatterbox between our ears! Meditation is also key to calming an active mind which is directly connected to our bodies. When our mind slows, our body can relax, rest, and restore.
Join me tonight to practice just those tools; movement, breath, and meditation. We will breathe slowly & deeply, move gently and mindfully, and rest peacefully & with ease. This is critical for your self-care and overall health & wellbeing. Please prioritize YOU!
See you on the mat soon.
Yours in ease & zzzzz's,
Sweet Sleep & Dreams Week 3 w/ Dana
November 4, 2020- 3:30PT | 6:30ET
Sweet Sleep & Dreams Week 4 w/ Dana
November 11, 2020- 3:30PT | 6:30ET
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How are you? How's your stress level? How's your focus, creativity, inspiration? If any of this is landing in an OMG I don't want to entertain these questions kind of way, I am for sure talking directly to you.
Life these days can get to be too much. However, if you're feeling overwhelmed, without enough energy, and running low on patience & productivity, ask yourself 'how's my sleep?' There you will find a big clue to how you're feeling and functioning day to day.
In our culture a phrase is often thrown around, "You can sleep when you're dead." Welp, I am here to say without sleep you can feel like the walking dead. I don't recommend not sleeping as your aspiration; it's really not so noble. The grind, burning the midnight oil, crushing it, killin' it, nose to the grindstone, putting in blood/sweat/tears & the like are simply not sustainable and can actually be harmful to your long-term health and wellbeing.
Over the next four weeks, we are going to focus on restorative practices such as Yin and Yoga Nidra, both forms of yoga that will help us sleep better. We will take small steps and tool up on tips & techniques that can support more restful nights and more hopeful, inspired days.
Yours in ease and zzzzz's,
Volunteer Events in West Michigan: Feel Better DO Good!
Jessica understands struggle. She has dealt with addiction, trauma, nightmares, fear, and anger. Because of all of this, she ended up losing custody of her three daughters, one of the most painful experiences of her life.
She says "I tell myself I'm not worthy I'm not good enough and I'm not capable. And I believe that. I've done this for years. Honestly, it's hard to get rid of all of that once its etched into your being for so long."
Thankfully, that is not the end of the story. Jessica got involved with our community partner, Hushabye Nursery in Gilbert, AZ. Their mission is "Embracing substance exposed babies and their caregivers with compassionate, evidence-based care that changes the course of their entire lives."
As their partner, Embody has been providing free meditation and yoga services virtually twice a week. Dana meets online with the women to help them learn the restorative practices that can calm their mind - something to turn to instead of substances. The consistency of these meetings help women develop their own practice.
Jessica says, "My mind likes to do something called future tripping, I love to fear what's already happened and what's going to happen. Which essentially I have no control over. Mindfulness has given me back some of that control. I've been able to begin learning about this practice and what exactly it can be used for, why its important and how simple it can really be."
Mindfulness, meditation, breathing, and grounding techniques can be powerful tools for people who have experienced profound trauma. One thing that Embody teaches is that it is a practice - you have to keep at it. In Jessica's words: "The more I practice and the better I get at it, the better it gets! For me I feel like it's a whole different world, its a place I can go to gain some stability, some strength, direction and peace."
One of the reasons that these techniques are beneficial for women like Jessica is that once they learn the tools, it is something that is totally free and they can take with them any time, anywhere. Unlike other treatment options, it is a solution that they can develop inside themselves. This gives them their power back in a whole new way.
As Jessica puts it, "today I can get myself to a place that I am absolutely capable of enduring even some of the most difficult things. I have control over the way I respond to this crazy life, today I know I am worth it, I know I am beautiful, I know I am capable."
Jessica is looking forward to a bright future. She is currently 36 weeks pregnant and due any time. She feels confident that what she has learned with Embody will continue to help her build from where she is. She says, "I have actually been able to unknowingly begin applying these grounding techniques through out my day, where now its just a normal reaction for me depending on what's going on in my life. Dana has taught me how powerful just being mindful can really be."
No matter what is going on around her, the practices she has learned with Dana gives her the ability to stop, and breathe.
Let's join together tonight to honor the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg through our yoga and mindfulness practice. We will shine a light on her powerful work in our world & how her legacy can and must live on through each of us. At this important time in human history, we all must ask ourselves how we want to show up & be remembered; sitting on the sidelines or engaging in our lives and in our democratic process? When I feel small, afraid, overwhelmed, and not wanting to engage, I look to RBG & I also draw from other sources of motivation. These words of Theodore Roosevelt always get me out from under the down comforter where I am hiding on my sofa. May "The Man in the Arena" motivate us to move beyond our perceived limitations and into action; whether actions be clumsy or swift, we simply must be sure to act!
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
See you on the mat tonight on Facebook. Or you can also email me for the link & join in with others in our zoom room.
Yours in the arena,
Dana Christian Lee
Embody Founder & Executive Director
Upcoming Events Calendar
Embody in Grand Rapids:
Thursday, October 8, 2020
Join Mel Trotter Ministries on October 8th for a red carpet movie premiere of the recently filmed Mel Trotter movie, One Life at a Time. (with an appearance by our own Dan Skwarek ;)
When: October 8, 2020
6:30 p.m. Outdoor Reception
7:30 p.m. Showtime
Where: Celebration Cinema GR North
***Bring a mask***
Admission to this event is free, with an opportunity to support Mel Trotter at the event. Sign up using the link below. You need an invite & to be registered to attend.
CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP!
“The EmbodyGR community embraces and supports, says ‘yes you can’ when the noisy inner voice says, ‘no you can’t’ – Kari Wilson, Community Member