Tribe of compassion,
I am a rip the bandaid off kind of person. Give me the 'bad news' first girl. Delayed gratification over immediate lifestyle. So that is why today's newsletter will open with the 'rain' (the hard stuff) and end with the 'rainbow' (good stuff).
There is much fear, conflicting information, and unknown, as we continue to travel though quickly changing times in our modern history. How we respond or react comes from our willingness to stay open, be radically honest and act with ahimsa (nonviolence).
What does that mean?
Take regular breaks as needed but please let us not bury our heads in the sand (or in our navel). to Try to stay current and clear to what is true for us & in our world. Not just what we 'want' or 'prefer' to be true. Because we don't look at something doesn't mean it's gone or okay; whether it be COVID-19, racism, mental & physical health, job/relationship/family/parenting status... We must keep looking, continue to have difficult conversations, take positive action and ground it all in ahimsa.
1. COVID-19. Yes, it is still a thing. It's not fear based; it's a virus. As much as we want it not to be, it is. AND it is currently growing.
Michigan has done a great job and it is my hope the numbers stay low. With travel opening back up and people going about their lives, exposure is much higher. The risk may not be yours but it could be your loved ones. Healthy people are often asymptomatic carriers. That is why being responsible, masking, & physical distancing, is crucial. It is our responsibility to keep others healthy too and not bring harm upon them. Even practicing yoga or going to church, all things good for the soul, can be risky business. That is why FSC isn't open yet and we still are not meeting on Wednesday nights.
Here are two articles for you to read that are eye openers.
North Texas Family- 18 test positive after family birthday party
Bali yoga retreat angers many after lying about mass gathering of chanting foreigners
2. Racism - It's still alive and well too. Horribly, tragically and unbelievably so. It is our responsibility to clean our own doorstep first. If you haven't yet, please take the time to review anti-racism resources that we shared, and consider how you are showing up to fight racism.
Embody's path to activism is: awareness, education, action. Specifically in that order. It's a spectrum. Not all of us have the privilege of just becoming aware of racism. Many have had to live that reality since birth simply because of the color of their skin.
3. Homophobia - While we celebrate Pride month, we need to remember that not everyone feels safe to live in their authentic truth. Basic rights like healthcare are at risk for our trans brothers and sisters.
The bright side to all of this is that we can make a difference. We can make choices that impact these things around us. We can shine a light through the rain and make a rainbow.
We can protect the health of ourselves and others. Your views are yours. Your choices are yours. Yet all your actions have impact. I implore you to dig deep and know what is right for you to live in a way of nonviolence. The famous phrase, "Your liberty to swing your fist ends just where my nose begins" applies here. Spend time wrestling with that quote as we still live in an active covid world.
We can continue to wake up. Let us continue to wake up, do the work and take the action. And again, keeping ahimsa as a focus though this one is often more grey in nature. (We could spend lots of time here but that is for another day.) For BIPOC reading this - the whole Embody community supports you and embraces you!
We can support others, even when their struggle is not ours. Stay vigilant. It's difficult when we cannot meet in person to practice yoga and mindfulness together using our bodies, minds, and hearts to heal and transform. The onus is on us to make healthy daily choices when it's easier to choose what is convenient and soothing. Keep on your practices. Use your tools. If you forget, reach out to me, to a friend who also shares your values.
We can continue to gather in spirit. Go to our facebook page and practice along with videos. Keep checking in on your physical/mental/emotional health AND keep reaching out. Many of us feel isolated; I know I do. So we must stay connected in all the ways available to us, staying safe and minimizing harm to self & others.
We can look for the light around us. Compassionate, intelligent leadership is being exhibited by many on the SCOTUS which is heartening.The ruling on DACA defends people's rights to stay in the country safely without threat of deportation. Plus a landmark civil rights law passed that protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination. These are long-sought strides for equality.
Celebrations: Summer Solstice, Father's Day, International Yoga Day, and International Surf Day this past weekend.
Finally, so much to celebrate. As I reflect over all of these rainbows, I notice they all have one thing in common for me: Love & Patience. Love the rainbow, patience with the rain.
To LOVE long summer days of warmth and sunshine, we must withstand winter.
To LOVE fathers/fathering figures, we must exhibit patience in relationships.
To LOVE yoga, patience is inherent with the totality of our being; body, mind, heart.
To LOVE surfing is to regularly wrestle with waiting; for the right wave, to get up or get thrashed. Surfing demands we patiently practice for the day where we experience the joy of riding the wave! Get the rain repeatedly before you hang 10.
Be a Light Bearer
Be honest with yourself. Take care of YOU. Only then can you do good in your family, community and world. But let us not get too lost in our own 'self-care' for that can become indulgent and a route of escape from reality.
People are our greatest blessing and also our greatest opportunity for growth. Especially the ones closest to us; especially when many of us do not get a break from our day to day environments. Stress can run high and patience low. During these days, it was one of my first teachings in yoga teacher training to not make huge life decisions during highly emotive times. If you need to, give yourself ample time to get grounded, clear and decisive. In the words of Sherif A. El-Mawardy, “Making a decision takes a moment, living a decision takes a life-time.”
Invite grace into your heart as your guide. Grace reminds us to be gentle with ourselves and others. Grace helps us hold the door open for forgiveness and compassion in all our relationships. Grace flows and we can ride her steady, patient current. Grace is the rain and the rainbow.
Love requires patience. No way around it. To experience the rainbows, we gotta withstand life bringing the rain down on us from time to time. Not if the rain will come, but how long the storm will last.
In the end, let us remember to stay open, truthful, and live a life of ahimsa rooted in love and patience, led by grace.
Yours in health, happiness, and community,
Embody Weekly Virtual Practice:
Wednesday, July 1, 3:30PT | 6:30ET on Facebook for a practice with Dana!
What: Grand Rapids Public School Basketball Drive with EmbodyGR and SuperDre Spinning the Tunes!!!
When: July 4, 2020
8:00am- Yoga with EmbodyGR Team Teacher Melissa Vanette
9:00am- Salsa Fitness
10:00am- Interval Training
Where: Monroe North Lot, downtown GR
Why: Our goal is to collect new basketballs for students.
Cost: $25 donation (minimum) or bring a new basketball
Embody LIVE ZOOM Weekly Virtual Practice
with Team Teacher Susanne Werblow
Wednesday, July 29, 2020- Live Watch Party hosted on Embody's Facebook page
3:30PT | 6:30ET
Meeting ID: 852 4579 3203
“For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.” – Saint Augustine of Hippo
Tribe of goodness,
It's really quite a time in human history. We are all now 'woke;' the time has come and we cannot go back to sleep. The siren for racial justice has sounded and our attention is demanded; we must answer the call. Many took to the streets for peaceful protest and were able to stand up in solidarity without threat. Others were subject to violence, either directly hit with tear gas or rubber bullets, or witness to others who were. Riots and looting took place across major cities in America, with Grand Rapids directly impacted with car fires, vandalism, looting and destruction of property. This is huge. People are angry, people are traumatized, yet no longer tolerant of injustice.
This is not a time where if we wait long enough it will blow over. This movement to end police brutality and racial injustice is just getting started. The death of George Floyd was the catalyst for a global rising up of which we are all part; we get to choose what side of history we want to be on. A yoga teacher I know recently challenged the yoga community saying "Stop doing warrior poses if you are not going to fight." Read that statement again. Take time to process its meaning and implication in your individual life. Where have you been silent and where can you be a stand for racial justice?
During these days of social, economic & political unrest, chaos, and uprising, we must remember to take time to get into our bodies and resource ourselves with calm our minds and steady emotions. If you, like me are part of the 'white privilege' we are called to humbly listen, learn and then, only then, take appropriate actions to help be part of a collective creation of a new world that works for all us! If you are a person of color, know we see you, we are listening and readying ourselves to come alongside. We are not expecting you to teach us, guide us through the process or help us understand our place in it; that is our job.
Join me for our Wednesday evening gathering on Embody's Facebook page 6:30pm ET | 3:30 PT . We will focus on grounding into the present moment. Together we will slow down, breathe, and pay close attention to the here & now. We will ground into humility; ground into listening, learning, and embracing responsibility. Our practice will support our 'ability to respond' mindfully.
Please join me and our tribe on your mat virtually. Invite your family and friends. Now, more than ever, we need to take care body, mind, and heart. Now more than ever we are called to live into the meaning of yoga which is union; to come together for the betterment of all. Now, more than ever, we need the promise of yoga which is moeksha/liberation and not just for you or me but for ALL of us.
The time is now. We are the ones. We cannot go back to sleep. Let us take time to listen deeply, educate ourselves, and answer the call to act.
Yours in solidarity,
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.
“The EmbodyGR community embraces and supports, says ‘yes you can’ when the noisy inner voice says, ‘no you can’t’ – Kari Wilson, Community Member