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.
is not only a sign of health in biospheres
but also an indication of
wellness in human communities"
- Michele Fogal (Author of Quirky & Diverse Love Stories & Creatrix of Guided Meditations for Writers)
Thank-you Michele for gifting the Wed AM students (winter grand finale class)
with a guided meditation for creative recharge!
Michele has a wonderful series of guided meditations available free of charge on her website:
"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly;
what is essential is invisible to the eye."
- by Antoine de Saint-Exupery author of The Little Prince
"Women are the greatest untapped natural resource on the planet" - Mama Gena
"Notice what lights you up. Not because lit-up women are beautiful and magnetic and fun to be around, but because they are fun to be" - Mama Gena
"Our job as therapists [and as parents, teachers, leaders, and human beings] is not about helping people feel better, but rather, to help people get better at feeling." - Dr. Gabor Mate (with Heather's elaboration in brackets)
"Whatever Arises, Love That" - Matt Kahn (also the title of his book)
"When rooted in your heart, every reaction can be viewed as a perfectly orchestrated activation of consciousness, clearing out the old paradigm to make room for something new to unfold. This often occurs at the rate in which each particular feeling is honoured and given permission to be."
- Matt Kahn (Whatever Arises, Love That)
"You've gotta dance like there's nobody watching. Love like you've never been hurt. Sing like there's nobody listening. And live like it's heaven on earth." - credited to William Purkey
"What you seek is seeking you." - Rumi
"Just keep coming home to yourself. You are the one you've been waiting for." - Byron Katie, Author of Loving What Is and The Work
"I don't sweat. I just leak awesome." - a Zumba t-shirt quote
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)!