Ecology: We Are Family
Location: Base of spine & pelvis to feet
Physical governance: Bones, joints, blood, immune system, skin
Human right: To be here & the right to have
"Safety"..."I am safety"..."I take safety wherever I go."
Eastern Body, Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self by Anodea Judith, Ph.D.
All Is Well: Heal Your Body with Medicine, Affirmations, and Intuition by Louise Hay & Mona Lisa Schulz, M.D., Ph.D.
Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home by Toko-Pa Turner
If Women Rose Rooted: The Journey to Authenticity & Belonging by Sharon Blackie
When The Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress by Gabor Mate, M.D.
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind & Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.
The 8 Human Talents: Restore the Balance & Serenity Within You With Kundalini Yoga by Gurmukh
Yoga Skills for Therapists: Effective Practices for Mood Management by Amy Weintraub
Second Chakra (Belly)
Ecology: Sweet Fluid Power
Human right: To feel & the right to want
Location: Belly & sacrum
Physical governance: Reproductive organs, bladder, hips and low back
"I move easily & effortlessly"..."Life is pleasurable"..."I deserve pleasure in my life"..."I absorb information from my feelings"..."I embrace & celebrate my sexuality"..."My sexuality is sacred."
DVD & Books:
Shiva Rae: Fluid Power - Vinyasa Flow Yoga (DVD)
Healing Back Pain: the Mind-Body Connection by John E. Sarno, M.D.
Goddesses Never Age by Christiane Northrup, M.D.
The Secret Pleasures of Menopause by Christine Northrup, M.D.
Pussy: A Reclamation by Regena Thomashauer
Food, Health & Mental Wellness with Psychologist & Chef Dr. Theresa Nicassio
Wed, May 22nd 7 - 8:30 pm
Lynn Valley Public Library
Free, but registration required (www.nvdpl.com)
LGBTQ+ Awareness for Parents with Michele Fogal & Caroline Wedderspoon, RCC
Thur May 30th 7 - 8:30 pm
Lynn Valley Public Library
Free, but registration required (www.nvdpl.com)
Third Chakra (Solar Plexus)
Ecology: Lustrous Gem - inner authority; mastery
Human right: To act & the right to be free
Location: Solar Plexus
Physical Governance: the digestive system, adrenal glands, pancreas, kidneys; weight problems & addictions
"I love & approve of myself"...."I am doing the best that I can"..."I am good enough"..."I don't have to overwork to prove my worth"..."I choose to see my self-worth"..."I nature & support others as much as I nature and support myself"..."Life agrees with me...I assimilate the new every moment of every day"...
"I am at peace. I am calm. All is well."
The Second Brain: Your Gut Has A Mind of Its Own by Michael D. Gershon, M.D.
Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body's Most Underrated Organ by Giulia Enders & Jill Enders
In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters With Addiction by Gabor Mate, M.D.
Open Heart, Open Mind by Canadian Olympian & Bell Let's Talk Mental Health Spokesperson Clara Hughes
Politics of Love: A Handbook for a New American Revolution by Marianne Williamson
Revolution from Within: A Book of Self-Esteem by Gloria Steinem
Outrageous Acts & Everyday Rebellions by Gloria Steinem
Fourth Chakra (Heart Centre)
Ecology: Sweet Emotion
Human right: To love & to be loved
Location: Chest, upper back, arms, shoulder girdles, hands
Physical Governance: the heart, the lungs, the breasts
Counterforce: Repression / suppression of emotions, particularly anxiety, depression, anger and grief.
Blessings / quotes:
"May I be grateful for what I have,
May I bravely acknowledge what I need, and
May I wisely know that the path to a peaceful heart requires both." - thank you Lesley Arnould
"Be still beloved heart and know that you are safely held" - Swami Kripalu
"My beloved child, break your heart no longer.
Each time you judge yourself, you break your own heart." - Swami Kripalu
Let The Past Be The Past Meditation Mantra (scoop water over shoulders):
"I release all things
That no longer work for me.
I release all things
That no longer serve me."
More Beautiful Than Before: How Suffering Transforms Us by Steve Leder
The Smell of Rain On Dust: Grief & Praise by Martin Prechtel
A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson
A Thousand Names for Joy: Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are by Byron Katie
A New Earth: Awakening To Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
Love, Medicine and Miracles by Bernie S. Siegel, MD
Fifth Chakra (Throat)
Ecology: Truth & Reconciliation
Human right: To speak & hear the truth
Physical Governance: The mouth (teeth, gums, jaw), throat (thyroid), and neck
Counterforce: Communication struggles; lies
* Problems in the mouth are often found in people who have a hard time expressing and dealing with
* People with thyroid problems are frequently very intuitive but are unable to voice what they see
because they too often struggle to keep the peace or win people's approval.
* Problems of the neck are often found in people who - even if they have flawless communication skills
on a regular basis - become inflexible and frustrated when they are unable to control the outcome of
The Serenity Prayer
"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference."
Books & Movies:
All Is Well by Louise Hay & Mona Lisa Schulz M.D., Ph.D.
Eastern Body, Western Mind by Anodea Judity, Ph.D.
The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America by Thomas King
They Called Me Number One by Bev Sellars
Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese (also available as a movie)
Occupy Women: A Manifesto for Positive Change In A World Run By Men by Maureen Fitzgerald, Ph.D.
I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up For Education & Got Shot By The Taliban by Malala Yousafzai
Canadian Indigenous music featured in class:
Tanya Tagaq (Inuk throat singer from Nunavut)
Jeremy Dutcher (classically-trained tenor & composer)
A Tribe Called Red
Britain's Got Talent Auditions (youtube):
Susan Boyle singing "I Dreamed A Dream"
Paul Potts singing "Nessun Dorma"
Kyle Tomlinson singing "Hallelujah"
Sixth Chakra (3rd eye)
Ecology: "I once was blind but now I see" - line from the song Amazing Grace
Human right: To see
Location: Space between eye brows; pineal gland
Physical Governance: Eyes, ears, brain
Practices: Intuition, insight, visioning, imagination, dreaming, meditation, visual arts
The health of the sixth centre depends on how well you take in information from all realms - both earthly and mystical - and use this information in your life.
Awakening Intuition: Using Your Mind-Body Network for Insight and Healing by Mona Lisa Schulz, M.D., Ph.D.
The New Feminine Brain: Developing Your Intuitive Genius by Mona Lisa Schulz, M.D., Ph.D.
Outrageous Openness: Letting the Divine Take the Lead by Tosha Silver
Life Visioning by Michael Bernard Beckwith
The Inner Life of Asanas by Swami Lalitananda
Fierce Medicine: Breakthrough Practices to Heal the Body and Ignite the Spirit by Ana Forest (The Braid of Three Truths visualization)
Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell
Horse Sense For People: The Man Who Listens to Horses Talks To People by Monty Roberts
The Divine Light Invocation
While standing in Mountain Pose, mentally repeat the Invocation:
I am created by Divine Light.
I am sustained by Divine Light.
I am protected by Divine Light.
I am surrounded by Divine Light.
I am ever growing into Divine Light.
- The Inner Life of Asanas by Swami Lalitananda
Ecology: Spiritual healing
Human right: To know
Location: Crown; cerebral cortex
Physical Governance: Chronic and degenerative disorders and life-challenging illnesses
Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds by Kelly A. Turner, PhD
Dr. Turner is a researcher, lecturer, and consultant in the field of integrative oncology. Her specialized research focus is the radical remission of cancer, which is a remission that occurs either in the absence of conventional medicine or after conventional medicine has failed. In her book, Dr. Turner gives the reader the results of her research on over a thousand cases of Radical Remission - people who have defied a serious or even terminal cancer. Here are the nine key factors that Dr. Turner found among nearly every Radical Remission survivor she studied:
1. Radically Changing Your Diet
2. Taking Control of Your Health
3. Following Your Intuition
4. Using Herbs and Supplements
5. Releasing Suppressed Emotions
6. Increasing Positive Emotions
7. Embracing Social Support
8. Deepening Your Spiritual Connection
9. Having Strong Reasons for Living
The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who've Lived the Longest by Dan Buettner
Over the course of five years, explorer, educator and author dan Buettner took teams of scientists to places in the world where people have lived the longest and healthiest lives. Buettner food five 'Blue Zones' with relatively high percentages of centenarians: "where people live 10 years longer, experience a sixth the rate of cardiovascular disease and a fifth the rate of major cancers."
The five populations:
1. In the highlands of the Italian island Sardinia
2. On the archipelago of Okinawa in Japan
3. At Loma Lina with the Seventh-day Adventists in California
4. On the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica
5. On the island Icaria, Greece
Nine best practices:
1. Move naturally
2. Eat a plant-based diet
3. Stop eating whenever the stomach is 80% full
4. Drink moderate amounts of red wine
5. Release stress & downshift every day (meditation, pray, afternoon nap, happy hour)
6. Have a sense of purpose / a strong reason for living
7. Daily spiritual connection
8. Engaged in the care of loved ones and experience more social respect as they age
9. Have a circle of healthy friends
Other book recommendations:
Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body & Mind to Face Stress, Pain & Illness by Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D.
Heal Your Body: The Mental Causes for Physical Illness and the Metaphysical Way To Overcome Them by Louise Hay
Man's Search for Meaning: The Classic Tribute to Hope From The Holocaust by Viktor E. Frankl
Conversations With God: An Uncommon Dialogue by Neale Donald Walsch
The Top Five Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware
The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself by Michael A. Singer
Dying to be Me: My Journey From Cancer, To Near Death, To True Healing by Anita Moorjani
Climbing The Blue Mountain: A Guide For the Spiritual Journey by Eknath Easwaran
Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal by Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.
A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle
To Bless The Space Between Us: A Book of Blessings by John O'Donohue
Walking In Wonder: Eternal Wisdom for A Modern World by John O'Donohue
Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home by Toko-Pa Turner
Eastern Body Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System as a Path to the Self by Anodea Judith
All Is Well: Heal Your Body with Medicine, Affirmations, and Intuition by Louise Hay & Mona Lisa Schulz
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles by Marianne Williamson
What is my life's greatest longing at this moment?
In class, we have been asking ourselves this question and outside of the classroom, we have been encouraged to tuck this question into our heart-minds as a living inquiry. Our aim is not so much about working the answer, but rather, to cultivate curiosity and openness to living the unfolding question.
To facilitate a courtship with our innate, inner life impulse, Toko-Pa Turner (author of Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home) suggests that we create a Longing or Dream Altar. Dedicate a space in your home for objects (found or created) that symbolize aspects of your life's longing. Even if you haven't found anything that symbolizes your longing, Toko-Pa recommends that you place a piece of cloth in a spot in your home to create space for the longing / dream to reveal itself.
Toko-Pa also believes that dreamwork offers a restorative path of true belonging to our lives and to the world. In class, we have been cultivating a "courting relationship" with our dreams, freeing ourselves from figuring out what the dreams mean, and instead, practicing being open to the mysterious and symbolic nature of dreams.
Dream recall & courtship tips:
- Remain still in bed upon waking and mentally rehearse the dream fragments before getting up.
- Journal the content and core feeling states of the dream.
- Take an integrative walk in the woods with your dream to practice remaining open to the wisdom and medicine offered in our symbolic sleeping life.
As the Salt Spring Island author Toko-Pa Turner writes in her profoundly beautiful book Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home (2017) "The world has never been more connected, yet people are lonelier than ever. Whether we feel unworthy, alienated, or anxious about our place in the world - the absence of belonging is the great silent wound of our times."
Toko-Pa continues "Most people think of belonging as a mythical place, and they may spend a lifetime searching for it in vain. But what if belonging isn't a place at all? What if it's a skill...or a set of competencies that has been lost or forgotten?"
Inspired by Toko-Pa's writings and her online dreamwork courses, I will be sharing with you in the 2019 winter class season some of the competencies of belonging that can "heal our wounds and restore true belonging to our lives and to the world" (Toko-Pa Turner).
In the world of self-care promotion, I often hear the metaphor "put the oxygen mask on yourself first" being utilized as a guiding principle. Although the metaphor makes logical sense, I have never found it to inspire nor feel in alignment with my self-care reality.
The metaphor conjures up a stressful predicament because it is being used in a dire straits situation; the plane is about to crash so now is the time to pop that oxygen mask on yourself so that you can be conscious enough to save those around you. Self-care only during emergencies and for the good of others.
Also, that word "first" in the metaphor "put the oxygen mask on yourself first" doesn't resonate. It suggests that self-care is a matter of hierarchy and performance. As in, there are going to be winners and losers at this game of self-care. So if I choose to act in a self-caring way, then I'm going to be leaving behind or neglecting others as I climb my way up the self-care ladder. The image of myself standing at the top of a ladder, with my tribe on lower rungs, feels lonely and isolating. Self-care has become confused with selfishness.
To disentangle the confusion, I suggest that a new paradigm take root. Stepping off the ladder, imagine yourself inside a circle with many concentric rings. Self-care becomes a movement towards the center. Life balance becomes a contextual, organic response to relationships as we move towards and away from our centers. No judgements; no pressure; no one left behind. Just the natural ebb and flow of life. The rise and glide of our life force. Centering as oppose to climbing.
Like a raindrop on the ocean's surface, we create a ripple effect from our centre.
In a centering circular model, self-care becomes an honouring of our authenticity and ultimately, serves as a wave like contribution towards greater consciousness.
The elder friends in my mother in-law's circle have been reading a tiny little book called
"The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter" by Margareta Magnusson.
In Sweden, there is a kind of decluttering called "death cleaning" that can be "undertaken at any age or life stage, but should be done sooner rather than later, before others have to do it for you." - Margareta Magnusson.
With Scandinavian humour and wisdom, the author instructs readers to "embrace minimalism" and "become more comfortable with the idea of letting go."
In classes this past week, we have practiced setting the internal conditions for "minimalism" and "letting go" to take root in our lives with greater ease.
"The cure for everything is salt water.
Sweat, tears, or the salt sea."
- Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa
Have you ever considered swimming in the ocean, year-round, like our Nordic friends practice?!
The book "The Finnish Way: Finding Courage, Wellness, and Happiness Through the Power of Sisu" by Katja Pantzar may inspire an adventure of cold water dippings!
My friend Jill Maynard introduced me to the world of open water swimming at the beginning of September, rocking me to my core that many people in the world actually enjoy and reap both physical and mental health benefits from swimming in cold water! Together with my water goddess at the helm, I have taken the plunge twice in the Pacific Ocean during the wee hours of the Fall morning! Elevated and empowered for days was my apes-swim experience.
Let me qualify the word "swim".
I breast stroked with my head out of the water (and gasped in disbelief when Jill dunked her whole head under water and re-emerged peacefully). It took about 2 minutes of being in the water, together with cueing from Jill to focus on my "yoga breathing", for my body-mind to release the cold water shock and re-establish an inner equilibrium. We breast-stroked for about 5-8 minutes. I wore my swimsuit plus kayaking booties and water gloves. And once we were out - we were home bound!
I have since discovered that I feel colder afterwards if I have a warm / hot bath or shower. Jill says its better to have a cool rinse, ending off with a gradual increase in water temperature.
Don't try this cold water swimming alone, friends!
If you'd like to experience open water swimming in the company of all-women (sorry guys - we'll ocean dip with you on another day), mark on your calendar the following date:
Women's Full Moon Ocean Swim
Wed Oct 24th
Deep Cove, Panorama Park
Spread the invitation!
Stand and behold from the beach. Dip. Or swim.
All intentions welcome!
Wear just a swim suit, add booties & gloves, or sport a full body wet suit - your choice!
Enter & swim in the water with the yogic calming & internally warming breath called Ujjayi Breath (or Ocean Breath).
Take a cool to warm shower or bath (but not hot)!
Sip warm to hot drinks!
Hello friends and welcome to the Fall 2018 season of Elevate!
I am delighted that you have either joined one of my classes this Fall and / or are visiting my blog!
My classes and postings this season will draw inspiration from several wisdom teachers, including Dr. Gabor Mate (www.drgabormate.com) and Dr. Shefali Tsabary (www.drshefali.com). It is my highest teaching intention to create a community-based, elevated wellness experience of body, mind, and consciousness.
To set the stage for our classes this season, I welcome you to reflect on the following quote & short video clip featuring Dr. Mate and "The Myth of Normal". Remember to click on the Like button below if the postings resonate!
"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted
to a profoundly sick society"
- Jiddu Krishnamurti
After years working in palliative care, Bronnie Ware wrote a book about the most common regrets that the people she had cared for had expressed to her (see below for a posting of her Ted Talk).
Regret 1: I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
Regret 2: I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
Regret 3: I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
Regret 4: I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
Regret 5: I wish I had let myself be happier.
"The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing" by Bronnie Ware.
It is my teaching intention to create classes that provide a complete mind-body-spirit experience!
These are the four cornerstones that guide my class creations:
1. Elevated Fitness - When describing the fitness experience that I wish to create in class, I'm not using the word "Elevated" to suggest that my classes are hard or that we're training for higher results on a fitness test. Instead, I am intentionally utilizing the word "Elevated" to express an enhanced level of awareness, mindfulness, and connection to our relationship with fitness. Also, I like to define "Fitness" as the ability to freely adapt to life's challenges, cycles, and opportunities. The greater choice & diversity of movement that we retain and gain in our bodies (and in our minds), the more physical (and mental) freedom we experience. And freedom, my friends, is not only the secret ingredient in the fountain of youth, but is also the litmus test for fitness of body and mind.
2. E-Motion - If you put a little hyphen between the letters E and the M in EMOTION, and then use the E as Einstein did, as in E = Energy, you'll get the essence of emotional health (energy in motion). Our health elevates when we become more compassionately aware of our emotions and when we allow the energy within each emotion to move through our bodies, at its own natural rate & rhythm.
In the Elevate classes, you will hear me cue invitations to return your attention to your felt experience, in the here and now. Whether it's during a sweaty movement sequence, or in a moment of physical pause, when we gently re-direct our awareness back to the present moment in the body, we are cultivating a mindfully healthy practice that is available for us on and off the mat.
3. Retreat - I absolutely love going on retreats! Most of my retreats are self-designed, simple, inexpensive, and by myself. For example, once a season I try to take 2 nights and check myself into a hotel room or my tent. Depending on the location, I'll merge with the presenting environment (if it's a city retreat, I'll check out a local yoga studio; if it's outdoors, I'll move with mother nature). Every retreat provides an opportunity for quietude, reflection, journalling, reading, movement, and spiritual connection. And just in case some of you are thinking that you'd really like to go on a retreat too, but you don't have the time / money / freedom to do so, here's an idea worth considering. I have held a retreat in my own backyard by setting up my tent and announcing to my family that I was not accepting any visitors for one night and one day. My kids know that I come back from retreats a much happier mother!
The connection between my personal retreats and the classes is this. I hope every class feels like you're checking yourself into a retreat! An accountable, once a week, blissful retreat where you too will have the opportunity to experience quietude, reflection, movement and spiritual connection. I welcome you to bring a journal should you desire to record any insights gained during class. And I always love to share readings and quotes in class from great spiritual masters, thought leaders, psychologists, mind-body medical scientists, and health science researchers. See my blog postings for the quotes and reading recommendations.
4. Pleasure - One of the class purposes is to practice pleasure. Yes, it's a practice! As Mama Gena teaches at her School of Womanly Arts, women have been severely disenfranchised from the power of pleasure. In fact, when a woman becomes more aware of her own innate sources of pleasure and makes life choices based on her internal pleasure system, she becomes a member of a sister goddess revolution. She takes a stand for the inherent worth and divinity in herself and for all human beings. Choosing pleasure is a revolutionary act because we've been taught that our worth is based on what we do, what we have, what we look like, and what we've accomplished. When we choose what pleases us, from the inside, we are intentionally turning our attention away from external comparable critiques and towards a re-connection with our internal experience of the here and now, our own truth. The pleasure movement is a pathway to higher consciousness!
My intention is to create classes that provide a safe space to explore what pleasure means for you. I intentionally cue with invitational language so as to encourage play with movement in a way that feels good to you. You'll often hear me suggest an eyes-closed approach to facilitate your right to choose a movement option / approach that is most true for you rather than following a conditioned mental script about what you think you should do (or used to be able to do), or what another person is doing at that moment. By the way, some of you have seen my tank top that says "I'm here just for the savasana". If wearing my tank top would help you to practice the pleasure movement more often in class, just ask - I keep it in my bag (and I wash it in between wearings)!