The new year is a beautiful time to slow down, restore and rest in the depths of one’s heart. In this rest-shop at Dharma Yoga Austin, I will offer a gentle practice, including breathing, gentle embodied movements and iRest Yoga Nidra. We will close by planting seeds of inquiry so that when the answers appear, we may hear – what (way of Being) is most calling us into the year that can guide how we show up for ourselves and others, and where we engage.
Their will be no agenda, other than for this to be a safe space for you to meet the truth and wisdom within you.
I am sharing a new guided meditation. It is from a live class I offered on Mind Oasis yesterday. This recording has a few minutes of orientation to the practice of iRest yoga nidra. The guided practice begins at about 4:43 and is about fifteen minutes long. You will be guided from opening the senses, to feeling body sensations and the breath. Throughout practice you will be invited to explore into the feeling of Being as it might be opening up for you.
If you are curious about Mind Oasis, it is an online platform for practicing meditation LIVE, from anywhere you are with community. While the practice of meditation has been transformative for me, the community I have come to know along the way has been a vital support as well. Here you get both, live guidance and community. This is an incredible resource especially for those that either don’t have classes or teachers in their towns, or who cannot get to classes during the times they are offered.
I spent a few hours yesterday immersing in and sharing the practice of meditation with a small circle of people. We explored through sounds and chanting, breathing and Being breathed, moving and Being moved, guided inquiry, and the home ground of stillness and silence itself. We explored meeting and welcoming all of the changing objects of life, and likely most also experienced being absorbed within changing realm for periods … beliefs, memories, stories, and emotions. Along the way there may have been moments or longer where we experienced something fresh, almost without reference to a past or a future. Perhaps we felt how the changing objects are always arising within an unchanging and unmoving experience. Many names have been given to this over the course of time: Being, Presence, Awareness … Essence. Ultimately the words are only pointers to an experience that is exquisite, and at the same time easily missed, yet always here.
To the degree that I have experienced it, in that realm of the unchanging I have felt something that is restful, whole, at ease and not lacking. I am not defined by that which has felt broken or unworthy. The urgencies of life seem to fall away, while life itself feels more full than it ever has in the moments of doing and achieving. Life feels like a gift even in the midst of circumstances that might be challenging or difficult. In the words of Parker Palmer, there is a hidden beauty and wholeness in all of it. This unchanging realm brings with it the opportunity to meet all of those accumulated human experiences, the joys and the sadness, the pleasures and the pains. There is space for all of it to be seen, heard and felt, rather than being denied, avoided, or minimized. This has been incredibly healing for me.
Meditation is no longer just a thirty minute period of my day. It is a daylong and lifelong practice of simply paying attention; Being Awake and at times asleep to the myriad movements of life, and in the moments of grace, Being the Awakeness itself.
Have you ever had the feeling of being at Home in yourself? How did it feel in your body? What else became available in those moments? What did you come to know as true?
Perhaps it was in a moment where circumstances or conditions were not necessarily perfect. It might even have felt a little messy, yet at the same time you experienced the ease or the peacefulness of Being at home in your humanity. The messy parts were not denied. The ‘put together’ parts were not held close. It was all just allowed to Be.
This ground of Being can feel natural and familiar, almost like we have always known how to Be. We have just forgotten. The felt sense of Being can reveal an underlying stillness, spaciousness and silence. This unchanging ground gently embraces the depths of our changing humanity.
How do we get there? Well, perhaps there is no where to get. It is already here, and what is needed is pause and rest. The portal is the field of the body itself.
What do we do when we are there? Once we are oriented, there is nothing to do. We can Be, feel and sense what already is.
On April 21st I’ll be offering a meditation event at Yoga Yoga North. While words can convey understanding, ultimately the jewel is known in experience itself. With this in mind, I will orient briefly to practices and then guide you toward your direct experience and the wisdom within.
Our time will include gentle and enlivening pranayama and movement. There will be periods of pause, and quiet sitting or reclining. I will lead you through a longer guided iRest® yoga nidra meditation, and we will also explore the ground of Being through walking meditation. Our time will close with inquiry, journaling, and sharing as it feels appropriate to you. This will be open to all levels. There are no barriers to Being. All that is needed is the curiosity to explore.
The word ‘safe’ has been in the forefront of my experience and mind a lot recently. Both national and world events have given me time for pause and personal reflection. I am also immersed in a month long training with SAFE Alliance, an organization in Austin, TX, that is committed to bringing an end to violence and abuse through prevention, intervention and advocacy for social change.
The training has been profoundly eye opening on many levels, and I am still in the midst of learning and processing. My heart has opened to the unimaginable ways in which felt safety can be broken and humanity undermined, and this has also inspired me to engage in a meaningful way.
The name stands true to their mission, which in great part is to create safe spaces, relationships, and support for those that have been oppressed, victimized and abused. The underlying message they have consistently conveyed throughout the training is to meet the individual where they are, to hear their story, and to be a compassionate presence. Over and over again it comes back to this simple, yet profound act.
If you can remember someone doing this for you in a time of distress, you know that it can feel incredibly safe and healing. There is space for your experience and your humanity to be seen and heard, without agenda and judgement. So much can happen by way of compassionate presence and listening. Individuals can slowly begin to reclaim their experience, worth, and strength. When a friend or an advocate can be with us without needing to fix or immediately advise, they gift us the opportunity to experience that which never needed to be fixed, has always been complete and whole no matter the circumstance. The depth and breadth of the work that SAFE does goes far beyond what I can convey here, but their training has been incredibly enriching in ways that I could not have anticipated.
For many of us, we might be meeting challenges of a different nature, perhaps less extreme than what I am describing above. When we take time for refuge and rest, we nourish ourselves so that we can ultimately meet life’s challenges and thrive in the face of them. We can remember our wholeness in the face of circumstances that may feel broken. And when we are not consumed only by the shadows of our experience, we become available to the unending depths of wisdom and light within.
The reason why it is important to practice opening to ease and safety regularly is because without it, it is very hard to touch into felt safety in a time of distress or difficulty. While the idea of this may seem too simplistic, I have personally found that the simple things seem to have the most profound impact on my life. Perhaps your doorway into safety is regular walks in nature, time with a pet or a friend. It might be periods of solitude or play, music or art. Explore how you can bring safe spaces and periods into your day and notice how it makes you feel in your body. More so, notice how it begins to impact your life.
If you would like to explore a guided practice, the following is a 21 minute guided meditation I offered many months ago.