Compassion or Comparison

My yoga teacher has said this phrase dozens of times, but one morning it went in differently and landed in the places where breath meets bone, where sinew aches with loss and the water in the pelvic bowl of my hips shimmered like a moonlit lake. The words traveled along ancient blood-lines to the place where ancestral memory digs a spade into foreign soil, where the grandmothers and great-grandmothers hummed the melodies of their lineage while baking the day’s bread and folded their pain in the flour.

Compassion rather than comparison. Connect to what’s needed in this moment instead of to what everyone else is doing or what you think you “should” be doing.

She cued a pose and I did something else. She cued another pose and I remained where I was, following my breath into the places that needed attention. The beginning of a poem filtered into consciousness, … Click here to continue reading...

The Escape Hatch of Perfection

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There are so many ways that we can avoid pain. We can choose denial. We can self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. We can fall prey to fear/ego’s insidiously convincing beliefs that to turn inward is “selfish, indulgent, and will get you nowhere.” We avoid pain because we live in a culture that teaches us to avoid pain. We avoid pain because we don’t know that turning toward pain (and I use pain as an umbrella term for anything uncomfortable that we wish to avoid feeling) is one of the secret pathways to joy.

If you’ve found your way to my site, one of your default methods of avoiding pain is likely to travel up to the safe regions of your mind where pain can’t find you. There you sit at the Great Loom of Intrusive Thoughts and spin your web of “what-ifs” and “if-onlys”, each thread keeping you stuck in anxiety of … Click here to continue reading...

Invite Anxiety to Tea

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If anxiety is denied, shamed, or judged, it often shows up at the back door, as what demands to be known will always find its way into awareness for the purpose of consciousness and healing. A backdoor arrival of anxiety often sounds like:

I don’t love my partner enough.

What if I end up alone and destitute?

What if I die?

I don’t love my partner.

My partner irritates me all the time.

What if I never get pregnant?

Why do I call this “backdoor anxiety”? Because these what-ifs and concrete statements that sound like facts are projections, secondary manifestations of root pain that need attention. Relationship anxiety is the distress flare that alerts us to the deeper, hidden pain. Intrusive thoughts, when worked with effectively, are arrows that point the way into the dry patches of our well of Self. When we listen and work with the core pain instead of … Click here to continue reading...

Longing for Desire

Most people are familiar with the heart-aching pain of grief. Most people can identify the empty thud of loneliness. Most people know when they’ve been pricked by the green-eyed monster of jealousy, or taken under the thick, gray blanket of shame. But how often do we talk about longing?

In the container of my virtual office, I hear about it many times a week:

I long for a baby.

I long for a partner.

I long for my mother.

I long for my father. 

I long for the parents I never had.

I long for my childhood.

I long for a house.

I long for community.

I long for a best friend.

I long for God (or spirit, connection to something higher, whatever term works for you).

I long for a different climate.

I long for a different city.

I long to be single.

I long to feel alive.

I long to feel in Click here to continue reading...

Ode to Women

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On my way to yoga this morning, I noticed my heart aching with a familiar combination of sadness and indignation. It didn’t take many breaths to uncover the source: Mother’s Day. A national holiday to honor mothers created by a woman named Anna Jarvis in 1908, and later denounced by her as she felt increasingly disgusted by its commercialization. She actually spent the latter part of her life trying to remove it from the calendar.

There are many spokes to the wheel of my sadness:

1. While I know that mothers deserve to be honored (more on that in a minute), I also know how deeply painful this day is for: the millions of women who longed to be a mother and their childbearing time has passed; women who are in their 40s, single, and longing to meet a partner with whom they can have a child; women who are … Click here to continue reading...