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Where the Revolution Begins. July 25, 2013

Filed under: Balance,CranioSacral,Massage Therapy — Reflections Integrative Therapy @ 4:02 pm
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Slowly, slowly, since returning home from India, I have stepped into a new role: facilitating and teaching yoga classes with a primary focus on nervous system engagement and regulation – cultivating a practice of meeting yourself exactly where you are. And what has unfolded in these few months since stepping back onto American soil has been profoundly reinforcing of the teachings that India offered to me, in all of her struggle and beauty.

Now teaching, I watch people move in their bodies, watch them feel what feels right, what their version of what I have just demonstrated and I know I am witnessing the experience of exploration. Self-exploration. Learning one’s capacity. And learning what it looks like to stretch that, to move that, to trust in the resilience that is inherent in our beings and to really begin to understand our capacity.

Not a capacity based on conditioning. Not one based on what someone else has told us about ourselves. Not a capacity that we understand based on comparing ourselves to others. No, this, this is deeper. This is quieter. This is subtler. And it’s one that I’ve been exploring in myself and feeling grateful to watch others explore in themselves.

I have spent the better part of the past 4 years taking care of myself – healing from a traumatic relationship, tending to some very old wounds and learning who I am underneath all of these layers of projected identities that I have taken on. And in that care-taking, I have come to be very gentle with myself – most of the time. I have developed the ability to listen to myself on a subtle level and as such, I am finely tuned to imbalances and am quick to try to re-balance.

I believe that when we learn to explore our capacity, to explore it for ourselves, to gain an embodied sense of it, that – that is when it all begins to shift. By our very nature, we humans are incredibly resilient. Organs can be removed, hearts can be stopped, bones can be broken, hearts can be broken – and all of this can heal. We can continue on in the face of all of this, and so much more. The challenge, then, is trusting that. Trusting our resiliency. Trusting in our capacity to move and bend and flex and heal and grow and love. Trusting in our ability to come back over and over, to wake up over and over – no matter how challenging it may feel.

I equate it to lung capacity. Hiking up a mountain, going for a long bike ride, running the trails near my home – all of these force my lungs to expand and contract, most often pushing the expansion beyond what I know to be my limit. And then I rest, my lungs take a break (kind of). Then I’m back at it again, the next day or the next week, and this time I know how far I can go and I get there, I get to that place where a day or week ago I felt resistance and this time I can go a little further.

It’s not about pushing, it’s about staying current. It’s about letting your body be exactly where it is in that moment. Holding it with radical acceptance – feeling and trusting both its capacity and resilience.

And this isn’t just about lung capacity, or bodies in general. This is about who we are as human beings and what we are truly capable of. It’s about trusting that capacity, living our lives from that place of deep knowing. That. That is where the revolution begins.

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Courage July 18, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Reflections Integrative Therapy @ 10:23 pm
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“You never wish on a shooting star, you wish on the ones that have courage to shine where they are. No matter how dark the night, no matter how hard the fight” ~ Andrea Gibson

In yoga today, my dear teacher greeted us with the news of the soon-to-be passing of a member of our community. She sat, poised, with tears readying themselves to fall to her lap, unapologetic for the emotions pouring forth. And in doing so, she was the catalyst for each of us doing that as well. Holding space for one another to be unashamed, unapologetic, deeply honoring of the movement of emotions within each other. Tears could be heard sporadically around the room through the class, sniffling, sighing, hearts breaking, hearts mending, grief honored, life celebrated. And I think what floored me more than the grief, more than the contemplation of death and loss and life, was the profound courage of every person in that room to show up. To be in whatever place they were in, to allow for whatever needed space. And to courageously hold space for others, to collectively create a web, a net, in which we could all rest. This was a room full of people, some friends, some acquaintances, some strangers – holding space for one another and allowing themselves to be held in such a space.

And this past weekend I had the great honor of marrying two of my very dear friends. At some point in the ceremony I talked about that day being a courageous day, and as I reflected deeper on that, I see the courage they both hold not just on that day, but in agreeing to the work of a life spent shared with another – the blessings and bounty and challenges inherent in such an agreement.

I see courage in my sister who daily confronts and negotiates the shame and frustration she feels with her body in the midst of fertility challenges. And yet, she continues on, day after day courageously doing what needs to be done, teaching classrooms full of other people’s children. She faces every day with her body not doing the one biological function it is uniquely designed to do, and she courageously does not give up on it. Does not give up on herself.

It’s not just courage in the face of life-changing events, though. It’s courage in the every day.

Courage in those friends who work towards a dream, courage in those who are willing to question all they’ve been taught, courage in those who advocate for themselves, courage in those who tend to the wounds without knowing why or how, courage in those who wake up every day committed to bringing whatever authentic version of themselves feels most present, courage in those who are walking a path that no one around them has walked before – that no one around them understands. Courage in those willing to express – to weep or to cackle or to howl – because their cells are calling out for them to do so and to not would be a stifling too wounding to bare.

Courage in my lover who allows me to see parts of her being, allows me to witness places in her that are vulnerable and sacred. Who follows the river of her feelings, allowing for rocks and waterfalls and pools and invites me to dangle my feet in, becoming a part of her flow.

I am humbled by the courageousness I see around me every day. Sometimes it’s bold and sometimes it’s subtle. Sometimes it is in opening your heart to death, or welcoming in a new life, and sometimes it is in getting out of bed every morning. Sometimes it is in singing your heart and sometimes it is in allowing the tears to very softly and gently land upon your cheeks without trying to brush them away. Whatever it is, I bow to you. I bow to your courage. And I bow to your heart. And I offer my gratitude for the inspiration that you bring.

 

Theory and Practice. Talking and Walking. March 26, 2012

Filed under: CranioSacral,Massage Therapy — Reflections Integrative Therapy @ 8:23 pm
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Theory and practice. Lately I’ve been finding myself aware of this pairing – not a binary or a dichotomy and certainly not hinting at any sort of mutual exclusivity, but two friends I tend to meet for coffee pretty regularly these days. Theory is better about showing up. Theory is always on time and guaranteed always has plenty to say. Theory is easy and comfortable to be around, even when it’s challenging. Theory and my head are like two peas in a pod. We can talk until the cows come home about what it means to live open-heartedly and what it looks like to step into vulnerability. We’re really good about talking about that…

Practice on the other hand. Practice is that sometimes-flakey friend who is pretty much always late and only really shows up because we’ve had to have a few conversations about its reliability. Practice and I generally get a cup of tea (we gave up coffee 4 months ago) in our to-go cups and go for a walk.

Theory and I talk. Practice and I walk.

And sometimes I don’t want to walk. Sometimes it takes a lot of energy to engage with practice, so I choose sides and hang out with theory and it’s more comfortable.

But lately I’ve been getting…bored with theory. I know, I know! How is that possible?! Theory is entertaining and engaging and exciting and stimulating. All of that is true, certainly. But theory lacks action and as Spring has decided to show up big time here in Boulder, my body is needing action. Shake off the winter, stretch and move and clear the hibernation from my system and get back into the practice of living, of being in this world.

So practice and I are meeting more regularly lately, and theory comes along too, and the three of us are engaging in the process of what it means to unite theory and practice – have practice teach me how to integrate theory – and live from that place. It’s exciting, actually. And challenging. Hanging out with practice sometimes feels like moving my body in a new way. Like I’ve had an injury that I’ve been guarding, but it’s healed now and I am learning this new mobility that is possible.

I was talking to a teacher of mine recently about something I struggle with and she asked me if my belief was really the way things are or if it was my circumstance at one point and is no longer. Of course, being the wise one that she is, she hit the nail on the head and it was another moment of recognizing the places that I still get stuck. Just because something was a certain way does not mean that it is still that way, but sometimes it takes reframing it and actively engaging with now to realize that things have shifted. Over and over.

So, here I go back to Theory and Practice. Theory can help us recognize patterns and learn how to repattern, but it’s practice more often than not that helps us see when we’re actually somewhere new. That what we’ve always held that we’ve known is in fact different. Because by engaging with practice we’re actively participating in the evolution of our lives. Practice is integrating theory into our systems and living from that place.

Need a more concrete example? I went to yoga tonight. I’ve been going to this class now for about 3 months, my first foray into more advanced classes after 3 years of practicing yoga. I’m pretty diligent about it, but every Monday afternoon I get a little trepidatious. It pushes my edges, makes me feel uneasy, mostly because it invites in all of the really loud insecurities that I’m good at quieting when I stay within my comfort zone. But I started going to this class because it was time to move from theory to practice. Intellectually I’ve been exploring what it means to find my edge and to inhabit my body, to know my body and be present with it. But it’s hard to know what it’s capable of if I keep it comfortable, ya know? So in a way, going to this yoga class, with all the attendant uncertainty and self-doubt is my way of engaging with the practice of knowing and exploring my body as well as the Self that inhabits it that gets doubtful and insecure. It gives me a chance to be present with myself and to witness the voices that try to keep me from stepping outside my comfort zone. It’s rewarding like I’d never imagined. In part because I’m learning to integrate the theory of presence and self-awareness.

It’s hard. No two ways about it. Like I said, sometimes I don’t want to go for a walk. Sometimes I just want to cradle a cup of hot tea in my hands and talk. But that’s why practice is a practice, right? It’s not necessarily supposed to be easy and sometimes we’re really not good at it, but we keep at it. We keep at it and through that we learn how to show up for ourselves and we learn to trust that. We learn to see what’s right in front of us, to be with it, and we learn that there’s room for all of this – the talking and the walking.

 

Root down April 3, 2011

Filed under: Massage Therapy — Reflections Integrative Therapy @ 10:05 pm
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Moving into Spring (despite a snowy April day today) I thought I’d share this beautiful song by the wonderful trio Coyote Grace from Seattle. It seems quite fitting…

In yoga last Monday, my amazing instructor said “you cannot be flexible unless you are grounded” and that has stuck with me for the past week particularly as we move into spring and there’s that sweet soft green fuzz to a stand of trees, the first blossoming buds greeting the sun. One of my favorite things about trees is that they must send their roots down equidistant into the ground as branches into the sky. This rooting allows them to seek nutrients and water, as well as to stabilize so they can bend and flex as needed – allowing them to not break in the wind and also to not topple over.

The concept of grounding to find flexibility is interesting to e. It seems contradictory at times, I think, the idea that you can find more movement if you plant your feet more firmly. So I started exploring what that means, what it looks like in my body, in my relationships, in my work, in my interactions with people. And I think I get it, or I’m beginning to. Grounding means to stand in yourself. To feel the ground firmly beneath your feet and to know that, trust that and allow that to be your marker to know where you are, to know that you are. And then you move from there. Sometimes this means slowing down enough to check in with myself before I make a decision and sometimes it means finding ground under my feet after I’ve jumped into something new; finding this new footing beneath me and moving forward from there.

I believe that it’s possible to find movement from grounding. And for this again I turn to my trusty trees. Because in essence that’s what they’re doing. They’re rooting further down day by day in order to grow taller and broader and more expansive. Finding your ground allows you to expand and move and flex and reach beyond yourself.

I had a Philosophy professor when I was in college who asked us all on the first day of class what our biggest fear was. Stagnancy was mine so this idea of movement and rooting coexisting is fun to play with, to explore the ways I can experiment with it in my life – and to see that just because this is the sixth Spring that I find unfolding before me in Boulder, that does not mean there is not movement in my life.

So, I leave you with the question to entertain for yourself: how do you find movement while you’re rooted?

 

 
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