all of life is yoga

our space | how we heal

3jewels.ourspacepractice

Behold the radiance that filled up “Our Space” at All of the Above in REO Town on Wednesday!

It was a beautiful night to share an embodied meditation for restoration and self-compassion with beautiful souls who are invested in self-care, equity, and healing justice. Afterward, the space was blessed with laughter, connection, dance and poetry during the open mic/open floor segment.

I was honored to be invited to help plant and water the seeds of this inaugural community healing event, which was dreamed up by a small group of friends who felt bereft at the lack of safe space to unpack and process the brutalities against Asian, Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Muslim and LGBTQ communities that wrenched our hearts, ratcheting vice grip-tight in quick succession without pause after every vicious assault this summer. Charged with the call to fill this void, they recognized the power that sharing our arts — the multitude of creative and embodied expressions — has to burn off rage and despair, to soothe aching hearts and wounded minds, to inspire new ways of hearing-seeing-understanding, to illuminate the unfathomable, and to transform all manner of things.

How do we heal? We make space for sorrows to be shared not silenced. We make space for joy to move through our bodies and be released in song, smiles, word, embraces, applause, call, response, dance, muscles melting into the earth and a deep-slow sigh of relief.

I’m excited to keep planting, watering, and nourishing this community with (my three jewels) the energy of compassion, skillful understanding and connection so that we can harvest love.

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all of life is yoga, cradle your heart, meditation, mindfulness, woman horizontal

woman horizontal | the sound of him

he wakes whistling, thrilled by the zipping wind
he conjures and reshapes into sharps and flats

snaps a crisp unpatterned rhythm
with supple-skinned thumb and middle finger
(wiped dry between refrains)
flickering his wrist for triumphant emphasis

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mutters a play-by-play commentary
to an imagined audience of rapt gamers
punctuated with shrieks, chides, wails and groans

jigs an exuberant popiscle-sugared dance
wagging his pineapple-cherry coated tongue
shuffling feet,
flexing knees,
scuttling erratically to a giggle-inflected beat
oh! mustn’t leave out the slapping bum finale and encore

drills up and down 14 stairs,
thunderous heel-stomping laps
and cushioned drop-and-rolls,
parkouring over and around the furniture
a streak of joy unleashed

bumps and bangs precede whimpers and squealed tears
beckoning empathetic triage,
strokes of comfort and mild caution to remember,
in all this play, that his body is growing and does not yet know
the new dimensions marking where it ends and external objects begin

hides, hushed and stockstill in a closet
awkwardly wedged behind the vacuum and laundry basket
clamping back unruly titters, lodged between throat and strained cheeks
crackling with anticipation to jumpscare an absent parent now returned

tucks into the curve of torso reserved
for bedtime storytelling and goodnight prayer songs
mommy-kissed lids and curled lashes
shelter sleep-craved eyes,
burning from the effort to see through
one minute more of the darkening day
a puff of minted air,
humming ‘love you too’
before sliding into blessed dreams

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all of life is yoga, dharma, for real: living the lessons, meditation, mindfulness, practice, sangha

gathered + rooted: a new season of sangha

The 2016 Fall session of  the 3 Jewels Yoga Sangha will open on Sunday, October 9 with a deep focus on my oft-referenced endearment (and zen-trendy hashtag), The Suchness of Sangha.

In the Buddhist vernacular “suchness” is the translation of the Pali world Tathātā and seeks to describe the essence of our perceived reality — and all the conditions that make our experience of reality possible — in the moment. It points to impermanence and interdependence. Reminding us that all the elements (people, places, objects, etc.) and our perceptions and responses to said elements in any given moment create a quality of “thusness” or “thatness” which cannot be replicated. Because these very things at this very point in time uniquely converge to form a fleeting experience. It is the vibe, the stuff, all matter seen and unseen, that is gathered and drawn together and felt so deeply. It becomes a knowing, a rooted cellular memory…a dream, an inspiration, the aspiration we seek to nourish.

So we’ll sit in these queries, turn them over, and test them in our daily living:

  • What is sangha?
  • How is it formed, nurtured and sustained?
  • What do we seek in our connection(s) within spiritual community?
  • What do we contribute?
  • How are we transformed?
  • And any number of questions that will emerge from our collective effort to learn and practice cultivating mindfulness together as good spiritual friends.

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Fall Schedule

October 9, 16, 23

    • 10/16 ~ Monthly Mindfulness Immersion
      A half-day retreat including our regular #wholyhappyhour practice, food + fellowship, and an Orientation to Foundational Practices — walking meditation, sitting meditation, and the criteria for skillful communication.

November 6, 13, 20

    • 11/20 ~ Special Workshop | Inviting Mindfulness: The Heart at Rest
      Following our regular #wholyhappyhour practice, this restorative workshop will introduce an embodied meditation in mindfulness to awaken self-compassion and skillful understanding of the relationship between body, breath, mind and environment.

December 4, 11, 18

    • 12/11 ~ Monthly Mindfulness Immersion
      A half-day retreat including our regular #wholyhappyhour practice, food + fellowship, and an Orientation to Foundational Practices — walking meditation, sitting meditation, and the criteria skillful communication.
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all of life is yoga, cradle your heart, dharma, for real: living the lessons, meditation, mindfulness, practice, sangha

monthly sit-together [8/14]: the stickiness of attachment

Relaxing our grip. Cultivating steadiness in the face of challenge and change. A timeless and always relevant topic was proposed for this Sunday’s monthly contemplation and discussion: Non-Attachment!

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3 Jewels Yoga Sangha will explore the sticky dimensions of attachment — including in our exploration the relationship of Non-Attachment to Equanimity (steadiness or evenness of mind); the subtle differences we might experience between Non-Attachment and Detachment; and, what the 4 Noble Truths remind us, that suffering arises from clinging or craving.

The Second Mindfulness Training | Non-Attachment to Views

Aware of the suffering created by attachment to views and wrong perceptions, we are determined to avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. We are committed to learning and practicing non-attachment from views and being open to other’s insights and experiences in order to benefit from the collective wisdom. Insight is revealed through the practice of compassionate listening, deep looking, and letting go of notions rather than through the accumulation of intellectual knowledge. We are aware that the knowledge we presently possess is not changeless, absolute truth. Truth is found in life, and we will observe life within and around us in every moment, ready to learn throughout our lives.

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RESOURCES:

On Equanimity

On The Four Noble Truths

On The Four Parameters of Clinging + Co-Dependent Arising of Clinging/Craving

On Non-Attachment

On The Mindfulness Trainings (Plum Village)

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on ground sacred and fertile

I treasure our Sunday practices and our time together on August 7th was all the more special because, for the second year in a row, I was able to spend my new year in the full embrace of Sangha.

After a week full of celebrations with loved ones (and a few more to come!), I am feeling deeply ALIGNED, AFFIRMED and INSPIRED to honor and lift up WHAT I VALUE, WHAT I WISH TO PROTECT, and WHAT I WISH TO LEAD WITH:

fostering compassion, skillful understanding, and connection through this sacred and fertile ground we cultivate in the form of a like-spirited, open-hearted, wise-minded community of practitioners who revel in silent contemplation, take delight in nature, and find refuge in communion with #‎GoodSpiritualFriends‬.
See upcoming dates below!

 

 

3 Jewels Yoga Sangha’s Practice Schedule

August 14 ~ 11 am – 12:30 pm | Monthly Sit-Together

August 28 ~ 11 am – 12:00 pm | Walking The Labyrinth

September 11 ~ 10 am – 1:00 pm | Walking The Labyrinth + Gentle Yoga with Ann Lapo

September 18 ~ 11 am – 12:30 pm | Monthly Sit-Together

September 25 ~ 11 am – 1 pm | Walking The Labyrinth (end of season)

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from woman horizontal | unburdening
all of life is yoga, cradle your heart, mindfulness, practice, toward wholeness, woman horizontal

manifestoes on love

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i’m celebrating my 40th year today — reflecting on the journey of the past decade and more recent season of discernment that have beckoned me to live into the deep and urgent call to be an instrument of love and reconciliation.

as many of you land on my site today, i invite you to amplify the good and spread love wherever you see/feel its lack in your circle of connections.

birthday wish: for those near and far — support my efforts to cultivate and abide in the energy of compassion, skillful understanding, and connection by following, sharing, and joining the 3 Jewels Yoga community.


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woman horizontal | unburdening

y’all finished or y’all done?

his guttery trill, gum-soled and sticky with wizened contempt
is instantly corroded by the viral ozone of tropospheric memes
earwormed into polyphonic cackles
relentlessly pursuing you — tubing through folded gray matter —
until the voice of God, remixed as a call for intercession,
beseeches:

is you finished or is you done?

you pitch a prayer for completion
petition mightily for all ordained wonders to be finished
from spark generated to diligence sustained

make a way out of no way,
leaving behind tattered limp-tired tropes
overused and out-of-season ideas
scratch-deep grooves committed to sameness, repeating the repeats

a good and proper farewell to stuck and fused people
prolapsed yet yanked back by histories tangled and cursed

But [then] the Lord says,
“Forget the things that happened in the past.
Do not keep on thinking about them.
I am about to do something new.
It is beginning to happen even now.
Don’t you see it coming?
I am going to make a way for you to go through the desert.
I will make streams of water in the dry and empty land.”*

in the etheric gap you become unapologetically i and make…
a (re)formation
fueled on and centered by love, the emboldened claim to lift up:

what i value
what i wish to protect
what i wish to lead with

this way ’round, loudly and assuredly
a discerning heart supple-strong, free, open and clear

*Isaiah 43:18-19 NIVR

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woman horizontal | how naked the heart

how naked the heart3jewels.hownakedtheheart.jpg
when anointed for communion

transparent as skeleton leaf

veins quaking sepia-tinged curiosity
flexed impulse relaxing between Whys and Whats and Who Do Yous

where it embraces all and becomes tethered by the long gaze,
unwavering and tender

held there, ambient love soaks through gossamer-laced capillaries
and this aesthete,
quickening with meaty delight,
is transmuted into a vaporous contagion

oxgenated, metabolized,
pumped outward then upward,
to be inhaled anew

now sipped in and seeping
stripping bare the armor
to the raw once more

infecting it with the blood wet
murmuring of the proud and unafraid

 

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all of life is yoga, cradle your heart, meditation, mindfulness, toward wholeness

woman horizontal | exhuming the empath

inspired by the indigenous navajo creatix spiderwoman, woman horizontal is a close-to-the-heart project that has held different shapes over many years. still an emerging work-in-process, below is one piece from my “pilgrimage of verse, image, and sound.”

 



in sanctuary, in pulp woven + pressed then printed, i found her waiting for me

she sang me in to the fourth world,
skimming the spiraling thread
between timeless times, liminal horizons, + the veils of imagined realities

cradled to her heart, stretched out + spun, belly up
laid to rest upon a loamy bed of earth

i see
i hear
i smell
i taste
i touch
i know

no beginning to nature, no end to me

the boggy creak of a frog camouflaging its bilge water song

that scampering chitter of black squirrels and petite chipmunks scaling trees fallen + splintered

a trio of lithe deer silently lunching in the marsh
flickering tails catch my eye
fawny brown smattering against thickets of green

damsel flies + redwing blackbirds
fluttering things, buzzing beings
alighting, pausing, taking flight toward perches high and low

cumulonimbus clouds thick as riverbanks
yield to an estuary of marbled blue sky wending through the atmosphere

a waking dream

a revelation of the universe within

i am absorbed,

arms fold me in and in

to the womb-depths of fertile soil

(six feet, a mere starting point an underdwelling to pause before the long journey back)

deeper still

to seed, to cell, to atom, to spark, to notion, to curiosity

i am at rest

stretched out + spun, belly up

surrendering to legacy

inheriting death

the completion

a void, vacuum, vanishing point

a vortex of matter

(before) reanimating

no end to me, no beginning to nature
knowtouchtastesmellhearsee

curiosity begats notion begats spark begats atom begats cell begats seed

a bare kernel

rising layer by layer

upward trailing through horizons of bedrock, clay, silt, sand, soil, humus

musky with the life scent of burrowing things, many-legged crawl-creeping things

clawing and boring tunnels around and through

a littering of decay and dis(re)membered things

exoskeletons, crushed stone, deep-buried hollowed bones of those forgotten things

digging up, up, up toward surface

exhumed by faith-magic and love

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embodied meditation: the practice of arriving

3jewels.hinduproverb

The Practice of Arriving

I’ve experienced the deep bone-weary tension of walking into a studio or temple after a full day of “doing” and feeling like I have to wrestle a boa constrictor before I can relax into my practice.

It took time for me to recognize the insidious pressures and misconceptions that arise with contemplative practices like meditation and yoga; especially, when we encounter hardcore folk — teachers and students alike — who translate noble silence and the noble postures into perfect control and transcendence of bodily realities (neglecting to acknowledge or offer accommodations for ability, injuries, illnesses). So grows the ill-formed notion that the moment our butts touch the cushion or we stretch into our first pose, we will instantly be filled with peace and relief…Oh! and be infused with the superpower of levitation.

As a teacher, I’ve witnessed the struggle in practitioners who then expressed frustration at not being able to get things “right.” After observing the cues of many students who would walk in early, immediately drop from exhaustion on their mats, close their eyes, and beg for restorative poses, I shifted my approach and started each class with deep relaxation. For my sake and theirs, it was essential to honor the fact that our brains and bodies need ample time to spin down and transition from one activity to the next. Reclaiming the space to transition  from the rhythm of striving to the rhythm of relaxing and finding refuge enabled us to bring our biological, emotional, psychological, and energetic layers into alignment. We gave ourselves time to catch up in body, mind and heart in the present moment.

I drew upon the Four Foundations of Mindfulness (the core of my personal practice) and began guiding practitioners through an embodied self-awareness sequence that supported our capacity to cross the threshold of any room and allow ourselves to fully arrive. Breath by breath, inch by inch, we learned to first unravel the tensions in body, heart, and mind in order to relax completely. Once we felt relaxed, we could awaken and inhabit our bodies with full awareness.

Listening deeply, seeing clearly, responding skillfully
to whatever showed up.
Greeting and acknowledging our sensations, thoughts, emotions and perceptions with compassion.

Taking refuge in the rhythm of our breath, we could gently align body, heart, and mind and then joyfully abide in this state when we transitioned from the privilege of an intuition-led practice back into the world around us (whether a casual gathering with friends, a family celebration, or an office meeting).

Arriving is the first of four guided meditations in my series, Embodied Self-Compassion: The Four Energies of Mindfulness

I shared this practice during the healing session I taught at the Allied Media Conference in June and, afterward, had the honor of being interviewed about it for MIT’s CoLab Radio: How to Awaken Self-Compassion Through Meditation.

A 3 Jewels Yoga + Ari Chillman Production.
Recorded June 2016 at Sherwood Forest Live.

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abiding in light

We have not forgotten nor begun to recover from the massacre in Charleston on June 17, 2015. And here we are once again, nearly a year to the very day in a month that has become bloodied by another act of terror against people who were simply being themselves in what was thought to be a safe haven to celebrate, dance, laugh, connect with others.

With hearts heavy with sorrow, let us turn toward and abide in light to cast away this looming darkness. I bow deeply to dharma teacher Rev. Zenju Earthlyn Manuel for the healing wisdom she offers in this relentless cycle of violence and recent loss of 49 precious lives in Orlando.

 

 

For All Beings
excerpts from the chant written by Zenju Earthlyn Manuel

May all beings be cared for and loved,
Be listened to, understood and acknowledged despite different views,

Be accepted for who they are in this moment…
Be allowed to live without fear of having their lives taken away or their bodies violated.

…Be treated as if their life is precious,
Be held in the eyes of each other as family.

…Feel welcomed anywhere on the planet,
Be freed from acts of hatred and desperation including war, poverty, slavery, and street crimes,
Live on the planet, housed and protected from harm…

Read and share Zenju’s Chants Against Hatred.

 

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conjuring grace in moments of distress

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I put together these sustainable acts of self-care for a loved one after a conversation we shared about the challenges of tending to ourselves when the “stuff” of life storms through and leaves everything in a state of upheaval. Reading it over, I quickly recognized how necessary it was for me to remember to dose myself with the same centering prescription. (The joyful surprise in holding space for others is that we come to see that we are fully equipped to hold space for ourselves.) When we learn to conjure the attitude of GRACE and move from that grounded, relaxed, aware, centered and energized posture, we are able to discern how to respond skillfully to “madness” brewing within and around us.

Compassionate Actions for Spiritual Self-Care:

1) 5-minute doses of quietude and conscious breathing.

Pay attention to your exhale to awaken the parasympathetic nervous system’s function to “rest and digest.” With every release of breath, enjoy the sensations of relief. Visualize all toxins and tensions of body, mind, and heart flowing out on the wave of the exhale. Abide in the feeling of being calmed, cleansed, centered and clear.

2) Give space for insight and intuition to arise.

When troubled or ruminating on an issue, simply ask: WHAT IS THIS?

When overwhelmed by your feeling of others’ perceptions/expectations of you, simply ask: IS IT TRUE?

Repeat these questions as mantras in rhythm with your breath. They will help you to interrupt the tornado of thoughts and help to sort and settle your mind.

No struggling or striving to think or rationalize an answer. ALLOW understanding to stretch out and unfold in its own time.

3) Find a touchstone to what is good, what is working, what is in this clear in this moment.

When feeling weary and defeated, simply ask: WHAT CAN I CELEBRATE?

Reflect and connect with what is solid, reliable, true, hope-inducing. Be it the miraculous act of drawing a new breath each moment or the simple joy of taking a walk with a friend, pausing to honor the goodness can help us from drowning in worry, fear, and chaos.

Similarly, I’ve been practicing what another friend recently shared had helped her to cut through negative self-talk, frustration, and anxiety. When feeling compressed by expectations (real or imagined), deadlines, paperwork, and commitments, replace the SHOULDs, MUSTs, and HAVE TOs with energizing and self-affirming language. Stating “I GET TO [insert task or activity]” reminds us of our agency — that we can choose what we do and the spirit in which we do it — and transforms our perceptions about the activity.  

May you find relief and ease from these simple practices.

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Note: I created the graphic for the g.r.a.c.e. acronym above but did not come up with the concept. I learned it from a fellow facilitator after a presentation I gave on skillful communication. He could not remember the source and my research revealed that it has been widely-used without any attribution given to the original author.

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