Shoulder to shoulder, we lay next to one another. Eyes closed, a scarf, shirt, hat or something such as this, rests gently atop them. We are a sea of bodies, so close that it cannot be denied that the energy from the air I breathe (in and out) is not just my own. Through the mouth, we breathe into the abdomen, and now again through the mouth, we breathe into the chest. Through the mouth, we exhale. For seven minutes, we breathe like this. A two-part inhale through the mouth, a full cleansing exhale from the mouth. I worry that my mouth will dry out so much so that breathing itself will become difficult. This does not happen. Together, we breathe for seven minutes, just like this. Inhale, inhale, exhale. After seven minutes -- Inhale and hold for one minute - really, hold - no air slips in or out. One minute is up - together, we exhale deeply. The room fills with vibrational energy and complete release: moans, cries, laughter and deep breath energy consume the space we are in.
Here I am - I am here, going nowhere, but further into my body and further still into my Being.
Breathe Emily, you are not alone. You can do this. Breathe and Be. ૐ Be and Breathe.
We are led now into round 2: Inhale, inhale, exhale - as before, all through the mouth. I begin to hyperventilate. I can no longer resist what rises up. My exhales become stronger. My hands feel numb. The room fills with the sounds of laughter, not just soft giggles, but also manic sounding releases of laughter - joy filled, pain filled releases of emotion. My eyes well up with tears, oh no, it is happening to me too, (I think). Shit (I again think) here I go... as I begin to tap into pain, that I buried deep, pain that I worked hard to "pretend" did not exist. - I knew it was there, right below the surface. Inhale, inhale - exhale. ૐ Inhale, inhale, exhale. ૐ Inhale, inhale, exhale... and so the breath continues, the air in the room is alive and heavy, not in a way of sadness, but with the great weight of raw emotion from all whom I am breathing with and alongside: Inhale, inhale - exhale.
I strive to regain control over my physical body, as it begins to tremble with the spark of pain that rises up. I move my fingers, but they curl back up as they were. I no longer cry softly, for now I am feeling it all - the true depth of the pain I attempted to bury and it hurts. Hurts, is an understatement, as it tears at my Soul, it (the truth of the buried pain) is literally heart wrenching.
And, I ... I keep breathing. Inhale, inhale - exhale. Inhale, inhale - exhale. And so it goes...
How great can the pain get? Will I come back into my body? ... I feel as though I am leaving it, the breath carrying my Spirit away with it for a moment - so I may feel and ... actually Be - broken open, raw, exposed and in the moment, feeling - completely undone. Now, my tears come with great force, as I sob - with the strength of all that I am behind them. And it is in this moment, that a hand falls upon mine. A hand of one that is part of my Bhakti family, he takes my hand in his, at first because there is no where else for his hand to hall, as the hall is so crowded. It takes only a split second for him to realize and experience the depth of the emotions that I am moving through and releasing. I say a silent prayer for him, a dear friend and in this moment, my Grounding Angel, through my tears, as I - Inhale, inhale -exhale. I feel worry enter my Being, as I wonder if all that I am working through is too great for another to also experience. I have no choice but to succumb to the moment though, as I am and so I continue to breathe, my physical body continues to tremble softly, and I, I cry... I breathe in shared breathe, as I breathe out I add my journey to the energy of the air we all breathe. I feel my hand in his hand. I take his hand in mine. The physical connection grounds me, bringing me back to the room, the space I am in. Hand in hand, I am reminded that I and we, never have to move through anything alone. Seven minutes is up. Together, we inhale - deep breath in. And we hold. No air slips in and no air slips out - One minute is up - Together, we exhale, my tears soften. My body feels heavy and the ground below supports me, as I submit to the energy of all that is within and around me. Round 3: begins.
Inhale, inhale - exhale. Inhale, inhale - exhale. Inhale, inhale - exhale. Through the mouth, still we breathe. Shoulder to shoulder, we lie. Hand in his hand, I remain steady on the course - my body again begins to softly tremble. I whisper on the exhale - "I am OK", reassuring myself in general, but also voicing a promise to Self to continue on the way of the breath. The tears come again, this time mixed with moments of laughter. I feel as though my sanity may be lost for a moment with the intensity of the breath. I know this to not be the case. What is taking place is a raw and honest expression of emotion and of my Self. Inhale, inhale - exhale. I continue to hold tight to the hand of my friend, knowing very well that a transfer of energy is underway now. That I really am not alone in this experience. I pray again that it is not too much for him to bear, but trust in my Self and his strength - that together, it is just enough to take on. Inhale, inhale - exhale. Laughter comes now. The pain, I let myself experience it and see past it - I am not just a Being with pain, this I knew, but now I feel it - I Am Beautiful. I breathe out this beauty for all those around me to breathe in. I pray that he, (my Grounding Angel), senses this shift, the recognition of Self that I just experienced. Beauty, from deep within, pulsing through our physical bodies and out into the world - Beauty of the soul - Beauty, that is you - Beauty, that is me. Inhale, inhale - exhale. Awwwwww - Together, We Breathe.
Inhale, inhale - exhale.
The slight tremor of my body steadies. I breathe into my Self, both at the Soul and physical level. I come back to my body. My pain it is not forever gone, but it no longer resides within me, as it did before. It cannot and does not consume a buried part of my Self, for there is no longer a part of me that is buried. I am here, centered within my Self, breathing into my light and my shadow and breathing it back out in the world. Inhaling, I am love -- Exhaling, I am love for the world.
You are - Whole, Complete and Perfect.
Come open and raw -- ready to surrender to your Self. Come happy and at peace -- ready to surrender to the Self. When I began practicing yoga just over ten years ago I remember thinking - "this time on the mat - this is my hour or hour and a half - to escape from myself and the stressors on my mind". Sounds freeing doesn't it? -- It wasn't. The more I resisted myself and the emotions that came forth, the harder the practice was. I physically stood and moved on the mat, but I was not there with my body. My body and spirit were separate, when they are in fact One. So I came to breathe more while on the mat ... inhaling and exhaling, one breath - one movement. With each breath I became one step closer to being with my Self and in my Self.
I begin practices that I lead with a reminder, an invitation to come into the breath... to come into the experience of the breath as it moves through your body and out into the world around you and again through the body and back out into the world. I used to also invite those on the mat to leave the stressors that they came to the mat with at the door. I no longer do that - Bring them with you, as crazy as it sounds you will be able to work through them and they will be less upon leaving instead of having them, just as many as you came to the mat with, there ready and waiting for you to pick back on up on your way out the door... "oh, hey peaceful Being - you left us to here to stress you out again upon your return to the outside world ;)" ... to this I say, no thank you! Our yoga does not end when we leave the mat. In fact, it is only there that it truly begins. We move through asanas on the mat, we connect with ourselves, yet again, deeply and truly on the mat and then we carry this energy with us, if we commit to its radiance - off the mat and into the world. Leaving stresses at the door is not a bad concept (though), in fact it makes a lot sense, still to me - leave the "stress" of your shopping list, your worry over your outfit, leave the stress of the superficial constructs of society at the door and simply, leave them there - there is, no reason to pick them back up.
But do - come to the mat with your pain, your sorrow, your concerns, your happiness, your love, your peace, your delight, your exhaustion... Come as you are. Breathe into the energy of your Self and breathe it out into the world around you. Breathe in love for your Self, forgiveness for your Self and breathe it out into the world around you.
Let the breath be your meditation.
Let your surrender to Self be your greatest gift.
Many a person has said to me, "well I would love to come to a yoga class Emily, but I am not flexible enough, I am not fit enough" ... I am not... when you all ARE - whole, complete and perfect. Are you breathing? - Then, come to the mat. When you come, all I request of you is that you breathe. You do not even have to do it, as instructed - one breath, one movement, but you do have to breathe. Now, take it a step further - you can do this right now, sitting on the couch, in bed, wherever you are - as you read this... notice your breath, feel its journey as it moves in through your nose, down your body and out into the world again. How does it feel to tune into the breath, as it courses through your Being, how does it feel as it journeys out and around you again!? ... to me, it feels like - life anew. Each breath, a new moment, each breath, permission to love myself stronger. Each breath, a gift.
Come to the mat - laugh, cry, breathe, move, or remain still - Come, as you are.
Peace, Love and Light, always.
Have you ever walked along a shoreline, only to have your footprints washed away? That is what Alzheimer's is like. The waves erase the marks we leave behind, all the sand castles. Some days are better than others - Pat Summit
To experience a loved one drift away, their cognition seeming to leave their bodies, can be painful and confusing. We long for answers and ways to ensure that this does not happen to us. We wish to be able to provide greater comfort to the ones we love when a moment of clarity, clouded with confusion comes around. Physically, the person we know stands before us, but emotionally and mentally, it is may not be the same. Many a moment is shared with a man I love dearly, my Pepe, where I see him sitting or standing there as a physical being, but I no longer feel the centered strength that came from his quiet, loving energy. During visits, as I look into his eyes, I see at times, only a shell of the man I know. When I see him look into the eyes of Mimi, his wife and my strong, loving and sassy grandmother - he is there once more. He sees her and in turn he sees himself once again. It is a beautiful moment to experience. Whether or not he remembers who I am he likes to take my hand and really the hand of any woman, as he walks down the halls of where he lives. Memory in tact or not, he continues to radiate love and wishes to help all those around him.
When moments of clarity (clouded by confusion) come, I so wish to hug him and tell him that all is OK, but who am I to say that and will he understand what I am saying?... I do not know that it matters. For, in those moments, if I am able, I simply take his hand without talking and he holds on tightly. Without words we communicate more often now than with and it is these cherished moments of silence that I hold onto with all my heart.
I recently had a very dear friend of mine reach out as he struggled to understand how something such as Alzheimer's could make any sense. In his sharing of time spent with an individual who has Alzheimer's he wondered - "how are we to learn anything from life when our mind is fading?" - Perhaps, we are not. Perhaps we are here to experience and to learn in the very moment that we have now and with the next moment, well who knows what it will bring.
I struggled for months to come to an understanding of this disease and why it "takes the mind and memories" from someone I love dearly and who has done such wonders in his life. Truth be told I have come up with little understanding when I work to find meaning (in this way). I have surrendered to the energy of love yet again here, as I have found myself believing this ...
We come full circle in this body sometimes (I understand that not all do) - so we begin life dependent and end that way ... where we must surrender this vessel, our body, to the care of others (around us), as our soul prepares for its next journey ... for the next vessel it will inhabit.
I do not expect all to share in my understanding. On a spiritual level, it just makes sense to me, that our Soul may be ready to begin writing another story before our body is ready to put an end to this one. It is not an easy journey (always) for the one moving through the experience or for those who dearly love that individual.
John - is the name of my dad, the man on the left in the above photo, Pepe is to his right. My dad, John is one of a very few people whose name is still always remembered by Pepe. It is heartwarming to see his eyes light up, as he recognizes one he loves by his side. - He, Pepe, is this way with Mimi too and every moment I get to spend together with them both is nothing short of a great gift of love.
May we be Beings of Love. May we surrender to our own love and light from within and that which is around us, always. Wishes of love and peace to all.
We must come to know and embrace our shadow, as well as our light if we wish to live in peace with our Being. It is from the darkness that the light comes forth. As I stood in this pose, I smiled - both inwardly and outwardly - at how easily my balance came in that moment, as I knew it to be a direct outward reflection of how I feel ... centered and centered in a way that I have not felt in many a year. I used to try to hide my shadow from the view of others (yes), but moreso from my sight. Doing so provided space and time for all that my shadow held to build up unresolved within me, until it manifested itself outwardly in ways that did not bring me peace and brought sadness and pain to my understanding of self and me. Coming to know and love my shadow has not been easy, but the most rewarding destinations come with some of the most challenging journeys beforehand. It has been and continues to be a journey of great self discovery, self love, forgiveness of self and others, working through pain, and coming to love not only my light but my shadow and with that - coming to know and cherish the incredible gift that is true: self love, soul love. The journey is not over, our shadow and our light remain with us, in all ways, throughout all the days. This is not to frighten us or make us feel less than another. How can it?... when we (our soul) are reflected in the other (their soul). It is a daily journey of self embrace, incredible love for both the shadow and the light - let it ground you, guide you, and fill you with hope anew. 💞
Unless you learn to face your own shadows,
I attended an extremely moving yoga class led by the radiant Sianna Sherman while at Bhakti Fest West 2017 (at Joshua Tree Retreat Center in California). The class was titled "Alchemy of the Heart" - together we created a living mandala, as we chanted a mantra together - in motion ... beginning shoulder to shoulder in a circle that completed outlined the entirety of the room we were in. Shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand, connected - we began to move in a circle towards the center of the room, creating smaller and smaller circles in motion (of people) within the larger one, the chants continuing created a vortex of loving prayer that filled the space we were in and then were being sent out into the world. As the last members of the outer circle found their way inward, those on the inside moved back out again, until we all returned, as we began - a circle of Beings, shoulder to shoulder - hand in hand - chanting and sharing in the energy of love - (outlining the entirety of the room we were in) . It was one of the most moving ways to begin a yoga practice and to be in space with others that I have ever experienced.
The asana practice closed with some partner poses and inner work with another. I found myself partnered with another I had never seen before this shared time on the mat together. Together we supported each other and experienced each others radiance in the practice. We all sat in our vulnerability together and whether we wanted to or not, we both displayed raw emotion. How did this come to be?... well, it came about through the simple, yet moving practice of complete recognition of the soul of another - we were instructed to look into each other's eye - to not say a word, but to sit across from another, maintaining eye contact for five minutes. Five minutes in the grand scheme of things is no time at all. When you sit in this way with another though, five minutes can feel like one's entire lifetime. This is because we see ourselves reflected in others. We feel that others see our deepest pain expressed through our eyes. It is true -- our eyes speak volumes, they speak even when our mouths do not. How often though do we take time to listen to the stories told through the eyes? ... not very ... so we can pretend the stories are not there, we can work to ignore our shadow and only display our light. When we look deep into the eyes of another - we experience and we see not only our light, but also our shadow and they in turn (experience and see theirs) the same.
On this day, in this sacred space at Joshua Tree - I sat there - vulnerable, my emotions raw, my heart full of love and moving through the tough (but beautiful) work of healing from past trauma and of coming to love my shadow (as well as my light). I sat there, legs crossed - knee to knee across from the beautiful woman I was partnered with. I looked into her eyes and felt even before vulnerable and exposed than I already was feeling. I felt the urge to avert my gaze, but resisted, as I knew this was an experience that I did not want to turn away from. Tears came to my eyes, as I saw incredible unending beauty and love in hers. I saw strength maintained through hardship, I saw discomfort and peace, and love, but most of all in that moment - I saw and was overcome with emotion by the great beauty that I saw reflected back and looking back at me through her eyes. As the tears rose up and moved down my cheeks, I saw that too began to cry and I so longed to hug her, filling the space between us with connection - both energetic and physical. I felt great love in that moment. Five minutes ended. We now could speak to our partner. For a moment, she and I did not speak, we wiped our tears away, smiled at each other, bowed in honor of the other and held each other in a loving embrace. Then she spoke. -- She said, "You saw my pain and how great it is. That is why you were crying and so I could not help but cry. It caused me great sadness in the moment to experience my pain and to know that you saw it, too." - I took her hands in mine, I held them tight. Then I said in return, "that is not why the tears came. I cried because I saw your beauty and I felt overcome with great love. I cried because I saw my own pain reflected back at me and I knew I wanted to continue embracing my shadow (my pain in this moment) even if the journey is not an easy one to be on." To this, she hugged me again, and asked simply, "wait, so you didn't just see all my pain and how deep it runs?" - "No." I said, "I saw love and I felt love." I was struck immediately, in that moment, by how we really do see ourselves reflected in the eyes of another. How our shadows are to embraced, fully, even if we wish that were not the case. It is a healing practice -- to sit in silence with another, making eye contact. It is also healing and essential (I would say) to give yourself permission to know and embrace your shadow. It is easier to embrace the light, but the shadow within provides space for the light to shine brighter, so why ignore it!?
May you always remember, the divine light within me, honors the divine light within you. Peace and Love, always.
If only our eyes saw souls instead of bodies,
I have a shirt that says just that - If only our eyes saw souls instead of bodies, how very different our ideals of beauty would be - (anonymous). -- it is one that I have worn to many a yoga class that I have attended and taught. It is my wish for humanity... I believe it could heal so many, as we would come to know each other from a space of unattached, deep love for the other's radiant soul and in turn, we would come to know and love the radiant light energy that is our soul - the place in us, where the universe resides. So that is my wish and here is one of many a story ...
Over the past few years, but really the past year and a half, I have embarked on the healing, but not always easy or pain free journey of introspection and deep self-reflection. I have come during this time to face past traumas, to forgive others and myself, to let go, to cry, to laugh, to embrace my shadow and my light, and most importantly to know and absolutely love my Soul, my Essence, the cosmos that resides within me. The more I came to love myself, the deeper my love for the world became, as I allowed myself to feel the energy of love that literally moves through the Earth and each and everyone of us. Whether we tune into its beauty or not, the vibrational energy of love moves around us and within us, it is the higher power -- you and I, we are made of this great force - Love.
As I came to embrace this, I found that I could breathe easier, sleep better and stand in my truth, in complete vulnerability, unabashedly - knowing that I am imperfectly perfect. And as I watched the sun rise over the Joshua trees last week- I felt my breath move through me, like light energy filling my body and then I let it out into the world feeling as though, I too, like the sun were rising ... my soul waking anew from a long slumber. As I moved through the sacred space that is the Joshua tree desert, during the Bhakti Festival (West), I met many a person, whose light radiated so brightly, whose heart beat so fiercely with soul love -- that it was absolutely undeniable, Our eyes were seeing each other's souls -- the beauty we were witnessing (and experiencing) came forth from within.
And so the connections made are deep and true because they are that of the soul and the love felt is a true honoring of the soul of another. When I looked into the eyes of those around me, I saw:
ૐbeauty and pain
ૐlove and sorrow
ૐforgiveness and a want to be forgiven
ૐpeace and exhaustion
ૐ respect and understanding
... most of all - I saw:
ૐradiant light- and I saw the love that is my soul energy reflected back at me.
And so I say to you, as we said to each other - Namaste -
- "I bow to the God within you"
- "the light, the Divine, and the beauty in me acknowledges and bows to the light, the Divine and the beauty within you."
ૐ "My soul honors your soul. I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides. I honor the light, love, truth, beauty and peace within you, because it is also within me. In sharing these things we are united, we are the same, we are one."
This word always held deep meaning for me, but now it holds a new level of understanding, as it is no longer a beautiful word with an even more beautiful meaning - now it is (also) a feeling; a sacred offering to another, the honoring of one's soul; and a true understanding of connection that is felt in the energies of the soul as nothing short of radiant love and light. <3 Peace, love and light to all.
-- I included a short slideshow of photos above, as well because in the images I am was fortunate enough to be able to capture I feel that same soul awakening that I wrote of as I watched the sun rise over the Joshua tree. The energy within the photos cannot be adequately described through text, as it is to be felt - by the heart and the soul. What radiant beauty... ૐ
As I watched the plane I was on lower from the sky... tarmac coming into view - I felt a great sense of joy, as I now have the opportunity to share teachings and experiences had with those here in Massachusetts, I also felt a deep sense of longing to be back in the desert. To feel the heat of the sun's radiant light shining down on me, to be surrounded by and in a community of love, friendship, and understanding. I turned my phone from airplane mode to on and found myself pleasantly surprised to see so many messages had come in since I the plane took off in San Francisco. The one that caught my attention most in the moment was an audio message of song from a dear friend I nicknamed: Bhakti Bobby.
As I listened to his voice, as his singing and words touched my soul, the longing I felt for the desert strengthened. Tears welled up in my eyes and I wished so much so for another moment's chance to be able to express to all those there who touched me dearly, just how significant their impact was on my desert journey. I wished that I could share how deeply meaningful it was to be able to experience and witness the divine beauty of their soul, to experience Bhakti Fest in a true state of Being, not of Doing with them. I texted Bobby to express my longing... and he replied simply, " You have nothing to miss, for the desert is within you. " I carry those words with me now, as I move through the world.
As I breathe in the crisp air of a New England autumn. I breathe in peace, knowing that the energy shared is never lost, for our souls know no distance, know no time... they exist in the most pure state of Being and with that power, we are always together and the desert is always with me and I with it. Thank you beautiful souls for touching my life's story, until we meet in person again, Namaste -- The divine light in me, honors the divine light in you and when we are in this place - We are One.
My final night in California (for now...) was spent in the desert, under the stars - in reflection. Sharing in experiences from the week had and in life's journey ... as our soul writes its story during its time in our body now -- this temporary vessel ... what story are you writing?
... here is my stream of conscious thought that came to me once on the plane in Palm Springs, California to travel home to the Massachusetts area until the next festival <3
Yes, it is incomplete, but there is something beautiful in that to me... so incomplete it will remain.
And there I was in the desert ... feet sandy, mind, body and spirit one with the great Mother Earth. I breathe in and breathe out. Each inhale full of love for the Earth, for shared energy of the higher power within each and everyone of us and for the journeys that my soul has traversed prior to it's time in my body - this temporary vessel. The sun rises and I inhale deeply, closing my eyes, tuning into the energy of the breath as it travels down my lungs and into my whole body. Holding the inhale for a moment, I feel the power of love, as it literally fills my whole body, as it is my Being, Our true essence - Love. I let it all go on the exhale, breathing the energy of peace, love and light into the world around me. The sun radiates above the cacti now, above the Joshua trees. The warmth held in its rays assures me that the energy of love, the energy of love and peace will rise, always from the shadows, from the light, as it is always within and around us.
A spiritual being on a physical journey, striving to make a positive impact on this world through my actions and loving intention. I believe that we are all capable of greatness, it is how we channel this great energy that matters... I choose to express it in the name of -- peace and love.