PSA: Take a break from the Election, make Soup

tree2You know that phrase that some of us are wrapping ourselves around these days, or wanting to wrap ourselves around? “I love my body” or the in command form: “Love your body.” I like it, it challenges me to do something that has not always been easy in a world where the body is objectified, mined and judged by many institutions (politics, fashion, medical, fitness). Been there myself; objectifying, mining and judging, but not anymore.  At some point I realized that it felt much better to love my body and live my life without listening to the chatter around me about anything, really.  It does not take anything away from anybody else if I love myself . I have always believed that only I can decide what I do with my personal body. My awareness has recently also expanded to include the earth body as my body too, a collective one. This was a small rememberance in me when I was young, but I have had a more felt sense about this in recent years and I get it. Gaia, Earth, alive. Sometimes she is the loving kind mother of sweet summer afternoon, sometimes she is the terrible mother of hurricanes, but nonetheless alive. And home, my body my home, my planet my home.  Far out maybe, in a world where we feel entitled to exploit the planet, but nonetheless undeniable.  I do not ascribe to the idea that the Earth is going to rebel and say NO MORE, but I do see us shitting in our own pool to the point where swimming may bet impossible.  Being in the love my body, love my planet place has at least made me feel more peace and make choices that are taking my part into account.  However, this election has brought a lot of food for thought as I see how culturally, we are still publically shaming, blaming, judging,  hurting each other and abusing the integrity of our body, along with the earth body. I wonder how we can bring ourselves to do the right thing.  The way we treat bodies, the female body in particular, in the global culture is the way we are treating the planet body, the earth.  Men’s bodies are suffering too, don’t get me wrong.  It crosses gender lines, racial lines, class and continental divides. With the onslaught of climate change and the destabilizing that has unleashed, I am left wondering how to really unplug and love my body no matter what when it sometimes feels so vulnerable to be in one.  I heard an environmentalist yesterday talking about how she works with young adults who are entering the career. She asks them if they love the earth and they say “Yes!” and then she asks if the earth loves them and some of them give her a funny look and some say “no”.  She goes on to say that is is very difficult to fight for something when we do not see it as a living entitiy that can also love us back.  So I gave myself the practice yesterday to take on receiving the earth’s love for me and my body’s love for me. “The earth loves me”… “my body loves me”. Try it. I took it on as an experiment and by the end of the day I felt full, humbled and hopeful. The communication was simple. What I received from the earth was an invitation to sit quietly in the sun, to walk with the wind, to enjoy the fruits of my garden. From my body, I received an invitation to turn off the radio and the news, the decision has been made. The distractions are wreaking havok in my mind and my body needs me to create space for rejuvenation and creation. I am listening to that and sharing it because maybe you too need a way to unplug. What did I do with my quiet time?

I made soup and I am going to share my recipe with you.

3 big overly ripe tomatoes and cut into chunks.
1 large garlic clove cut into small pieces
1/2 onion diced
Optional 1 cup broth
Paprika and black pepper to taste

Put all in a pot and bring to boil. Then bring to simmer. When tomatoes are soft, stir around and then let simmer until water evaporates to your desired consistency. Stir again. I like to throw in a handful of chopped parsley or a couple of tablespoons of parmagianno romano. Breathe, eat, enjoy and feel the earth’s love for you and your body’s love for you as you collaborate in that miraculous transubstantiation of earth becoming you becoming earth.

I am a work in progess who wants more than anything to be witness and part of a collective movement where we all do what is most evolved and support the body and the Earth to thrive.  I am open to collabortion and ready to get to work.

 

 

Raising the Bar on Listening to Your Body

In My Hungry Head, the highly successful binge eating program created by MaryBeth Sherrin, she gives two guidelines for eating that I feel are a great place to bring the mind to when we begin making lifestyle changes that lead to weight loss, weight maintenance and overall health.  The guidelines are: You can eat anything you want in moderation as long as 1: it does not make you feel out of control and 2: it does not make you sick.

Do you know the experience of being out of control and do you know what it is like to feel sick? We all have a starting point for each one. What I have found is that as I work with these guidelines, my experience of each is refined and honed. What I considered to be out of control is much different now than when I began my journey.  I used to have to eat the whole bag of Chips Ahoy when I was in my early 20s.  Now, for instance, if I eat rice and I start fantasizing about pancakes, I know that the rice kicked up my sugar cravings. It used to be anout not being able to control my eating, and now it is more about not being able to control my mind.

“Feeling sick” also was something very different when I began this journey. When someone has been used to feeling sick for a long time, they make see feeling sick as normal. Does eating certain things, or combination fo things make you bloated, gassy, crampy, tired, cranky? Do you see any correlations between overeating and your energy level? For instance, when I was eating a lot of sugar and refined flours, I had 2-3 sinus infections each year. I did not see that as being sick, but as something that just happened to me. I mean, people get colds in the winter, right? It occurred to me, after a bout of very strong antibiotics to kick an sinus infection, that maybe this was not something I needed to tolerate and I found that as I reduced my sugar intake, I got less and less sinus infections. As of today, I have not had one in 4 years. That is miraculous to me. The better I feel the higher the bar for what feeling healthy means. The last time I had a sinus infection was after a very sugary Christmas holiday. At that point, I got it, I understood, in my mind, that my body was getting sick from sugar. Now, I know that when I eat sugar, I get sick and I can be mindful of that. For me, sugar is also something I cannot even have in moderation because of the first guideline: it makes me feel out of control.

What “control” means to me has gone through several permutations also since I began working with it. What does it mean to feel out of control? I can’t stop when I start? I can’t stop thinking about it even when I am not doing it? I am triggered emotionally by it in a way that makes me feel out of control? There are many layers here. My current understanding for myself of this guideline is: if the food occupies my mind beyond the time I am preparing it and enjoying it in an obsessive way, then I am not in control because it is controlling my mind.

Not that I want to control everything, but being someone who used food to control many things in my life, it is so much freedom for me to not have that factor into my choices, my living and my relationships.

The relationship I want to have with food is this: I want enjoy preparing and eating my meals and then when I am done, I want to go live my life to the fullest. I want the food that I eat to give me the energy and nutrition to keep my body healthy and allow me to use my life force for the greatest good.  And, as a farmer, I want to be a steward of the land and grow food that benefits my body, the earth and my community. This is the wish I have for you too. It is great to be on the other side.

Marybeth Sherrin and I have launched the My Hungry Head website and we are LIVE! Please visit us, join our Facebook Community and begin to calm your hungry head!

Dance Lab: a Movement Odyssey

2015-07-11 11.08.30-1Have you ever read the Odyssey, Homer’s other famous work? I once heard a commentator talk about the life metaphor in his work, that as we try to get back “home”, we have all these adventures full of obstacles to overcome. Adventure is what happens when we try something new, take risks, possibly fail and have to start again… sometimes we get turned onto pigs and sometimes we meet the woman with the snake hair… and we have to find our way through! Living life like this, looking at the things that feel like obstables as part of the adventure is what I am going after.

I love using dance as a place to practice this, noticing what is flowing and not flowing in my movement, in my emotional body, in my self-expression. Using the body to journey is something I have been doing my whole life. You, actually, have been doing that too.

“Home” for me, is my body, this moment, this life. When I dance, the landscpae becomes the music, my imagination, my emotional ocean. Imagine being able to walk into a dance class where you could travel in amazing musical waves, explore yourself multidimensionally in playful ways, and also get a great workout.  I am all over that!  So I created it. We call it Dance Lab.

Alayne Freidel and I have been teaching Dance Lab at Yoga & Nia For Life since the September of 2015. Depending on the focus, we move in and out of chreography, sometimes dancing freestyle and sometimes all dancing together. Some of the concepts that we explore are inner and outer space, relationship to gravity and space, emotional body, the four elements, horizonatal and vertical spine, layers within the music, rhythm and melody… Mythological archetypes sometimes arise, we touch into the way in which the stories  are living within and without us. We dance with them… Sometimes we dance-off with them!

If you love to dance  and want adventure, this is a great class for you. If love to move to music but feel you cannot dance, this is also a great class for you,. How is if different than our Nia classes? Nia classes are a combination of 52 Moves, 9 Movement forms delivered via the Body’s Way. There is a structure that we follow in every class. In Dance Lab, we let that structure go & the hour feels like a long improvisational dance adventure, rife with moments all the highs and lows that make up the steps of any worthwhile journey.

Here is what I have gained so far in Dance Lab: a constant freedom I have not felt since dancing the nights away in San Francisco, a way to develop intimacy with music based on pure play, a way to free my mind from all the technique and find my own unique dance. Teaching these classes has made my Nia classes burst with creativity. Students who regularly come to Dance Lab report that they also feel an incredible sense of freedom that lasts long after they have left the class.

Come dance with me or Alayne. Alayne teaches Fridays 9:00-10:00am. Come play at freedom and breakthrough! More classes coming soon!

www.yogaandniaforlife.com

IN THE HOUSE…

Maria card...

Are you listening? Chocolate. Not just what it tastes like, but what it feels like melting in my mouth, the texture moving from solid to creamy to liquid. The way the bitter blends with the sweet and the earthy aroma of it as it soothes its way down. The way it feels like I am absorbing it through my inner skin… and then the theobromine high. Ahhhh. For me, eating chocolate was always a very intimate experience, even when I did it with others. The finer the chocolate, the darker the more it took me to that just-me-and-my-shadow bliss that was, well, addictive really. I am no longer eating chocolate but the other day in the middle of Sheila’s Stretvh & Energy class I was blasted by the same sensations. Whoa! As I felt my body opening up, not just physically, but energetically, relaxing into the moment, I felt that chocolate high! And it lasted for much of the rest of the day. I can call on it now.

The combination of Energy Medicine practices and stretches that Sheila has devised and collected are all geared toward strenghtening and lengthening the spine, both energetically and physically. I can feel my body making the same journey from solid to creamy to liquid. We are also working on our auras, or energy fields, becoming aware of them, honing them, expanding our range of sensation. I think this is the most chocolaty part, the part where I feel like I am expandingmy body/mind. There are some stretches that we repeat a few times and there is a feeling of mantra to them. I often find myself in a trance-like state that comes from laser focusing on what is happening inside of me that I forget that there is a world outside of the studio. I am just IN THE HOUSE…

This past week, when the chocolate sensation hit, I realized that several things were coalescing for me during that class. One is the culmination of an exploration around the possibility of bliss without sugar. I have tried unsweetened chocolate, not the same. I literally had moments when I thought maybe there was no point in living if I could not have that bliss sensation I used to get eating chocolate. Not that I was feeling suicidal, but more that I was feeling nothing much. But now I know that is not the case at all. The way I felt during the Stretch/Energy class this felt more real and long lasting than any high I have ever had, yet really grounded. I still feel it now. Even when I am just imagining the stretches, I can feel my body opening up. The other part of this coalescence  is the energy piece, the neuropathways that have been opened up through the moving mantras of Energy Medicne are now intact. I can access them at any time with mind, reinforce them with my body and keep my field wide awake. I have done them long enough to feel the effects most of the time. Ah…practice, my best friend. And I need to stay vital and healthy.  I am a busy woman.

Come check out Sheila’s class on Wednesdays 11:15am – 12:45pm at Yoga & Nia For Life.  Dec 27th workshop too… great introduction to the work.  Go here…scroll down. More about Sheila here.

Light Body and Physical Body Catching Up to Each other NOW

I heard an interesting thing yesterday around anxiety. When it related to the past, it often shows up as guilt, when it is related to the future, it shows up as worry, and when it related to the present, it shows up as panic. When it show up as panic, it often gets stuck in the psoas muscle and its environs. Here is the article about the Psoas that speaks to this: http://theearthchild.co.za/this-muscle-of-the-soul-may-be-triggering-your-fear-anxiety/

Anxiety can come from real dangers or preceived dangers. Most of us are not currently running away from tigers, but many of us are immersed in an environment of manufactured fear. Not that there aren’t hings to be afraid of, but our ability to deal with perceived threats in a grounded and efficient way is GREATLY hamperd by feeling guilty, worrying or panicking.

This shows up in the mind and the body in ways that are sometimes inexplicable because the part of the brain that is triggered is the reptilian brain which is focused on survival and primal and not thinking clearly.  As the flight or flight muscle experiences the fear, the psoas tends to tighten up and causes all kinds of sensations and symptoms that create even more anxiety in the body.

In choosing what to bring into my awareness, it seems like there are more and more scary things to behold and fliter. My animal body wonders, what is the threat level here. What can I do about this to stay safe? What is real here? My mind is pretty good and realizing that there is a lot of hype, and a lot of denial and a lot of misinformation being passed around. Also I know that it is human nature of overdramatize, project and stay in the comfort zone. Knowing all this, has allowed my mind to stay open and fluid and relaxed.  However, I have also been dealing with a lot of pain around my lower back that migrates from my left hip area to the upper right side of my back, excruciating pain sometimes that I assumed was mostly structural. Go to the chiropractor. Get a massage. Roll on a ball. Sit in correct alignement. All these things brought temporary relief but it was not until I made the psoas fear conenctiong that the pain truly began to dissipate.

I realized that although my mind was staying open to possible interpretationa and realities that may be available to me at the moment, my reptilian body/brain/mind was actually freaked out. Even now as I sit here writing, I can sense the my breath is high in my chest, not deepening and including my psoas. I have to make an effort to notice the holding, breathe into it, lovingly tell my primal self that I am here, aknowledging it, sensing it, not denying the fear… And as soon as I do this, I find the deep breath of release I have been looking for.

In my classes, I have been bringing in more sounding, more release work, more connection to the core because I realize I am not alone in this state of being.  Using all the tools available, knowing what I am really working with, makes all the difference. Expanding that out into the world right now.

 

 

The Glitter Project

glitterThis came to me as many things do, in the shower. I am not historically a glitter kind of person.

With the holidays coming up, with the twinkling lights coming out to play, I got this urge for glitter that just felt unnatural to me.I wanted to reflect all those lights around me and to shimmer and as I dug a little deeper, was looking for some kind of fortification.  I went to Kuumba’s website and ordered body glitter.

With all the world news spilling with “terrorist” attacks, shooting rampages, climate change warnings, politicians whose agenda constists of demonization of any “other”… I imagined the glitter was going to be a way for me to stay light as I keep traversing the murky unknown. But as I began wearing it, I realized that the symbol here is more than that.

I had this idea once, and maybe I read it in a book or dreamed it, that we should all wear little mirrors around our necks with a reflective surface on each side so that we can reflect back to those we meet what is theirs and take responsibility for what is ours. I realized that glitter was fulfilling this same image for me. In these days when blame is being thrown around, in this hyper-polarization around good and evil, I wanted a way to re-member myself and choose my response in a way that reminds me of how much I love to be alive.

This kind of integrity is what true health is really about for me. Body, Mind, Heart, Spirit. What comes in, what goes out. Can I be aware of that. Can I be alert to that. Glitter me up.

I came home from work the other day and there were some bad moods floating around my house. But I was like, I have my glitter on. I do not have to take that in. NPR was going on about the same stuff they were going on about this morning… I can turn it off. This thing I am about to yell at my son about, it has nothing to do with him, but with my exhaustion… keep it… or better yet, redirect it. But I do not need to give it to him. Simple moments in my life about this.

When it comes to the collective opinions flying around, I can let the glitter reflect that back too. I do not want to internalize the fear, the lies, the crap that is being flung around. I do want to take in the hope. Like I just found out that Jimmy Carter is cancer free. Now, my glitter is moving over for that one!

 

Walk My Talk: Say What?

Bring it home, baby. Bring it into the body.

What does it mean to walk our talk? I had a beautiful experience of this with Sheila Peters. We were exploring a grounding and integration movement practice that unites the upper body with the lower body and while we were doing it, I had this tremendous visceral sensation of how above and below connect in that phrase, “Walk Your Talk”. This was a beautiful “aha” moment of taking something that up until then had been conceptual for me and bringing it into my body as a felt truth. Strengthening the awareness of the relationship between my lower body; my legs, my walkers… my lower chakras – what I do, what I want, what I have the power to do, the actions I take… with my upper body holding my talkers, my arms, voice, mind… what I say, my beliefs and my communication with the world definitely gives me the ability to sense if the two match up. The meeting place of the lower and upper chakras is the heart. When I walk my talk, I feel the integrity in my heart. I feel joy and I feel love, even if what is happening is not so good. I like being in the truth. And the way to know is so simple… is what I am doing what I say I am doing. Looking at it with the lens of my heart, I can take responsibility and breathe in the truth of what I do.

Alignment of the upper and lower body urges can help me sense integrity. Yet the word alignment can also be more ideal than real. In Nia, we are practicing being aware of and playing with alignment of the body via the feet, pelvis, chest, head, spine. Aligning, centering, balance and off balance creates awareness of that moves from the conceptual into the real.

It is possible that I do not even realize sometimes that I am not walking my talk, that I am not in alignment. I can certainly address this through my body awareness practices, but then I also need to unite it with my mind and my heart. This is where self-inquiry excels. Here is a great set of questions from the Charmm’d Foundation website whose mission is to Strengthen tax-exempt community leaders through the practice of emotional intelligence and ethical reflection. Although this applies specifically to leaders in the community, it also applies to the personal choices that we make every day that keep us healthy and aligned. As you ask yourself these questions, sense your body (breath and skin is a good place to start) and open up to the possibility that you might learn something about yourself you do not know.

• Understand the phrase “walk the talk” by breaking it down to what it means to YOU.
• What is your “talk?” (What are the values or purpose that you speak about?)
• What is your “walk?” (Your regular actions that support what you’re saying.)
• Is your walk and talk aligned?
• Is it creating the environment you want?
• If so, is this environment helping to facilitate your goals?
• If not, what can you do to change that?

My personal belief is that the world is a better place if what I am doing and what I say I am doing matches up. Ever since I had this realization working with Sheila, I realize that this creates a sensation of trust and safety in my body. This allows me to bring confidence and compassion into all my interactions since I am coming from a place of knowing myself to be in the process of being in the flow. When something feel off, this simple way of noticing helps me take responsibility for what is happening. Would I want to follow myself in this situation? Are my feet following in the path of my beliefs and my heart? What is manifesting in my life as a result? If I do not like where I am, is there a misalignment between what I say am doing and what I am actually doing? Can I sense it in my body? If I realign in my body, will I automatically make a new choice by creating space for a new belief? What needs to be brought in line, the walk or the talk?

Ever since I had this realization working with Sheila, I am more aware in my Nia classes of how I share this practice with others. We are constantly exploring grounding by staying connected to our base and steps and stance and by honing the mind body connection; can I bring my body to the places my mind wants it to go to. When I invite people to sense something, am I actually sensing it too? Am I walking my talk by crafting with sensation? And on the flip side, can I allow my body to go to the places my imagination invites it to? New neuropathways in my brain will bring me to new places. We create these most efficiently by uniting the mind with the body. 2015-07-11 10.58.36If compassion and confidence are byproducts of this practice, can I bring that spirit to share with my students too? And thereby be a loving leader for them, someone they are following that is leading them to themselves?