Amy Ward Brimmer

mother daughter wife teacher writer dreamer sister worker seeker activist minister healer student human


The Second Arrow

Because of the particle-like nature of consciousness, we can enter the space between instinct and action, between impulse and reaction. To do so we must learn to tolerate our pain and fear. This is not easy. . . .  We must learn the difference between reaction and response. . . .  When someone cuts us off in traffic, we can angrily retaliate by racing up to them shouting, trying to get back at them, or we can breathe and let it go. When we are criticized, when we are betrayed, we don’t have to reinforce the pain of the situation by adding to the pain by our reaction. -- Jack Kornfield, Responding With Love and Courage

Jack goes on to describe this personal reactivity as "the second arrow," a classic Buddhist description of what we do when in conflict or some other negative situation. Something painful happens, and it's like being shot with an arrow. Then we habitually, unconsciously pierce ourselves with another arrow, causing extra, unnecessary suffering.

"Unnecessary" is the key word here; we do not have to reinforce the pain. Alexander lessons, meditation practice, Qigong and other forms of mindful movement, all offer the opportunity to unhook from this automatic reaction, over and over again. At first, and always, it's necessary to see this happening. Like most habits, we become so used to judging ourselves and others that it feels normal, even unavoidable. You can't change what you don't know about, so waking up to the habit comes first.

When we look, we see that we do this quite consistently, so it's useful to recognize how reactivity operates, dominating our lived experience. As Jack points out, this requires the willingness to tolerate challenging emotions: pain, fear, disgust, loneliness, powerlessness, [insert your favorite unpleasant emotion here]. Our aversion to be with these feelings comes in many forms, but it needn't be acted upon. We can pause and attend to the space between the stimulus and response, the urge to react and the reaction itself.

The freedom to make new and better choices in response to whatever arises is a hallmark of the Alexander Technique. Those who study it soon discover that what seems like a little pause is actually quite spacious, that a momentary stop provides enough power to see, sense, and switch off harmful habits of thinking and moving. In meditation, as steady attention is cultivated, it becomes very easy to see how we add extra pain to painful situations (by pushing away or running away), or ruin pleasant experiences (by grasping and greed).

So what is the cumulative effect of practicing the pause, of finding the gap and waiting there? Sylvia Boorstein describes it this way: 

If I want to free myself from endless cycles of struggling..., I need to keep rediscovering that the pain of the struggle is greater than the pain of the desire. If I develop the habit of restraining myself, I'll enjoy the relief of feeling the desires pass, and I'll remember that desires are not the problem. Feeling pushed around by them is. I'll continue to have desires, of course, because I'm alive, but they'll be more modest in their demands. 

I don't know about you, but I often feel weary of being pushed around by my own reactivity; it wears me down. I have experienced the liberation that comes from turning toward my pain and pausing there, the freedom to notice that I'm wounding myself with the second arrow, and stop.


Giving Thanks

Living is tentative and uneasy for many of us right now, especially in the U.S. Gratitude helps so much. It's like a magic energy that alchemically transforms scarcity into satisfaction, half empty into half full. Luckily, we have a whole day dedicated to giving thanks.

Today I am grateful for:

My passion.  When I resonate with something or someone, I’m all in. I may not always be disciplined or consistent, but I am wholly dedicated to whatever inspires me, and I enjoy bringing my total self to the endeavor or the relationship. I give my all. I show up, and keep showing up. For my ability to turn desire into dedication, I’m thankful.

My family.  I’m lucky to have a husband who keeps loving me and growing in companionship, and two absolutely beautiful daughters who are kind and funny, smart and insightful, emotionally sensitive and socially aware. My father, who at 90 continues to seek understanding and healing, has given me a strong spiritual foundation for life as well as an appreciation for nature and the beauty of this world. My brother taught me how to be strong and resilient, and to trust my intuition. My nieces and nephews astound me with their ability to forgive and to develop unconditional love. They are also super creative and persevering in all they do, which gives me hope for the future. Thank you.

My spiritual family.  These are my closest friends, advisors, mentors, and cheerleaders. They listen when I ask, are not afraid to call me on my foolishness and wrong thinking, encourage and pat me on the back, give me gifts and let me give to them in return, and generally help me remember to play and be goofy while I still can. Maybe we’ve known each other since high school, maybe we just met last year, but we connect authentically in the heart space (see #1 above). You know who you are. Thank you.

My gifts.  I am an experienced, talented hands-on healer, an engaging and skilled teacher, and a decent writer and editor. I enjoy connecting people with one another and creating networks of learning and support, and I can organize events with the best of them. I am never happier than when I’m planning a workshop or writing a lesson plan or refining curricula. Nerdy but true. My singing and dancing is mediocre but on a good day I can engage in them with gusto and abandon, which is half the battle. For the gifts I was born with and those I’ve worked hard to develop, I’m thankful.

This life.  I feel so grateful to be drawing breath right now, this very minute. My dharma teacher, Mark Nunberg, tells me that there are only two things to ask when I sit to meditate:  1) Am I interested in what’s here right now? Can I cultivate some curiosity about how it is? 2) Do I care about this life which has been entrusted to me? Can I cultivate some compassion for this being?  For my ability to remain interested and caring, both on and off the cushion, I am thankful.

Wishing you and yours a happy Thanksgiving Day and the ability to feel genuinely, deeply grateful for all the many blessings of this human life. Claim them. They are yours, and no one else can know
them and live them like you can.



Surviving Skillfully

For many years now, I have been learning and teaching that mindfulness is a skill. It is not a state of bliss, or wisdom, or mastery, or even clarity. These states may result from mindful living, but mindfulness itself is a skill set that we apply with intention to meet whatever is, however it is, in the moment.

This is simple, but it's not easy. That is why there are a variety of practices that we can engage in to foster and develop our understanding of the skillful means available to us. A short list might include formal meditation (sitting, standing, walking, lying down), mindful movement (qigong, yoga, Alexander technique, tai chi, aikido, etc.), communication practice (NVC, peer counseling, compassionate listening), and reflective writing and art-making.

In a recent newsletter I discussed the acronym RAIN, and how it guides the process of turning toward our experience in order to be with it mindfully. RAIN is most useful at times when one feels overwhelmed with emotion, or confused, or otherwise thrown off course somehow. (It works beautifully in ordinary moments too, but we don't typically feel the need to navigate those moments as carefully.) To recap, RAIN stands for:

R -- Recognize
A -- Allow
I -- Investigate
N -- Not Personal, Nature

Many teachers have offered this RAIN guide. Tara Brach uses it quite a bit in her teaching, and has several examples of how it can work individually and in relationships. I have used it successfully many times, as a way to utilize the skill of mindfulness that I am cultivating, and I'd like to share an example of how it is of great use to me right now, today.

Perhaps only a few of you know that I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and, as a young adult, date rape. Even as I type that sentence I am using RAIN.

  • I am Recognizing the strong sensations that arise in my body, accompanied by thoughts like, "Don't say that publicly. Find another example!" Feelings of embarrassment, shame, fear, and vulnerability are here. 
  • So I Allow them to be present, don't fight, accept to whatever degree I can. It's actually okay to be with those feelings and thoughts, because 
  • When I Investigate, I find that I have felt this way many, many times, and essentially these are just insubstantial thoughts, and physical sensations in the body. And they are changing. They have a pulse, a texture, a duration. Like everything else we pay attention to in meditation (breath, sounds, etc.), these strong and mostly unpleasant feelings arise, stay for a while, and then change or disappear. 
  • I don't need to get caught in the experience, I can know it as Nature arising. I've just shared an intimately personal truth about myself, which breaks the rules of my conditioning, big time. Of course these thoughts and feelings will arise. It may sound odd, but the truth is, this is not happening to me. But I can be with it as it happens.
Okay, to be honest, I'm still working on that last one. It is difficult to stop identifying with my experience. Yet all the great spiritual teachers remind us that we must. Joseph Goldstein says, "the Buddha summed [everything] up in one essential teaching: Nothing whatsoever is to be clung to as I or Mine. This is not a philosophical statement, it is something for us to practice, to realize, moment to moment. This is the practice of freedom."

As a survivor of sexual abuse, the past several days have been severely challenging. Beginning with the release of the recording of Donald Trump bragging about how he can get away with sexual assault because he is a celebrity, to the onslaught of reactions to it, the jokes and discussion on social media, and culminating in that violent war of words we called a "debate," I have been strongly triggered and retraumatized. Maybe you have been too. Chances are good that about 30% of you reading this are also survivors. The rest of you know someone who is.

And I can live through these upsetting, truly hideous personal reactions because I have a skill set called Mindfulness. I have gathered and used many tools for 30 years or more, picked up along the way in psychotherapy, bodywork, 12-step groups, religious practices, and other sources which have helped me heal and restore wholeness. But daily mindfulness practice is really paying off right now. I don't like being triggered, but it no longer needs to run my life or even be a problem.

An acronym like RAIN is a hook to hang our hats on. It's a go-to process that we can access (dare I say cling to?) in difficult moments. It prevents us from reacting unconsciously and engaging in old harmful habits. Even better, it helps us wake up and see when we're reacting out of our old unconscious habits, and stop. 


Interestingly, the name of one sexual assault hotline is RAINN, and if you need someone to listen and help you, please call 800.656.HOPE (4673).


Why I Love MBSR

As you must know by now, I am raising money to pay for a big teacher training course next month at the Center for Mindfulness at the UMass School of Medicine.


Many (most?) folks don't know what Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is, so it's hard to know why, other than the fact that you really really like me, you should make a donation or otherwise support my training.  So here's some basic facts and a few reasons I adore this program and have received great benefit from it.
  1. This is an 8-week program that has been helping people defuse their stressful suffering for nearly 40 years. 
  2. It was created and developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Jon wanted to test whether the mindfulness meditation he was practicing could be applied directly to healing and an increase in overall wellness.
    MBSR Founder Jon Kabat-Zinn
  3. Program participants are often referred by their doctors or psychotherapists, but the course has become so successful and is offered in so many places that word of mouth brings in people with all sorts of needs and interests.
  4. Participants practice meditation or mindful movement (yoga, qigong) for 45 minutes each day, guided by the teacher via MP3 recordings. MBSR is a wonderful way to establish a regular meditation practice.
  5. Mindful communication, education about the physiology of stress, and an exploration of sensory perception are also included.
  6. Other mindful methods have branched off of MBSR, such as Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, Mindful Birthing, Mindful Eating, and so on.
  7. I have done most of my MBSR training right here in Philadelphia, at the Mindfulness Institute at the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine. The Jeff program doesn't certify teachers, which is why I'm continuing on at UMass.
So why do I want to teach MBSR? Why add a whole new program to my practice, one with a lengthy and expensive training? Some of the reasons have just been spelled out, and I'll add a few.
  • MBSR is not the latest fad, it has been around for a generation now, and tens of thousands of people have completed the course and been helped by it. 
  • MBSR works. It has been studied clinically multiple times, with consistent, repeatable results
  • MBSR is adaptable. It offers multiple strategies for addressing stressful conditioning. The program doesn't say there is only one way to wellness. We learn a variety of strategies and learn what works and when. 
  • MBSR empowers people.  This is maybe my favorite thing in life: to witness a person's "aha moment." Because MBSR is effective, people who practice in between classes discover that they have agency, and don't have to be stuck. 
  • MBSR keeps me honest.  I learned this right away when I trained as an Alexander teacher -- if you want to learn something thoroughly, and maintain a disciplined practice, teach it to others. Like the AT, teaching MBSR  requires that I continue to cultivate mindful living, so that I can model what I ask my students to practice.
  • MBSR teachers make boatloads of money.  False. Just Kidding.  
These are just a few of the reasons I love MBSR.  I hope that once I begin offering the course, you or someone you care about will take it. I also hope you will consider supporting my training fund with a gift of any size. You can do that here.

If you don't live near me but are curious about an MBSR course near you, just Google it. Seriously, this thing has legs! You are likely to find one at a local hospital, college, or movement studio.

Namaste. Wishing you wellness.


Drop By Drop

While I was on retreat earlier this month, I became keenly aware of how change happens. The fact that it is always happening -- that impermanence is the most reliably prevalent thing we can experience -- is not news to me. (I quite often forget that I know it, however.) But I was not so familiar with how major shifts in habitual thinking and being happen. It is typical to become a little disheartened at some point on a long silent retreat, and it's especially easy to feel discouraged in everyday practice. It can seem like nothing much is changing, that the encounter with greed, hatred, and delusion is never-ending. In daily life it can feel like my reactivity is always operating, no matter how deep and calm my meditation is, in spite of my intention to be mindful.

During meditation practice I noticed an image arising over and over again: a drop of water falling on a stone in a river. I understood that awareness was telling me to keep at it, that with each sit or walk, with each breath, I was moving toward liberation. Continuity, discipline, momentum -- bit by bit water wears away the stone. Each drop is as important as every other, each contributes to an eventual change of shape.

The Alexander Technique is like this too. At first, lessons are mostly about recognizing what is actually going on, how one is doing things, what habits of movement and tension are present. Once the habits are known, different choices can be made, exploration can begin, new ways of thinking are cultivated. But of course this doesn't last very long; habit is strong, and perhaps at first it is only possible to take a few steps before the old familiar pattern takes over once again. If we can accept that this is the way of it, we will progress in a steady fashion, which leads to thorough change.

Thus the sage advice to "begin again and again." Each time we choose to perform an action with awareness and ease, not allowing the unconscious habits to dictate our behavior, we carve out new neural pathways, so that the next time our body-mind will recall the open and easy way, and old habits are less likely to interfere. This builds a kind of underpinning that becomes more powerful the more we practice. Sometimes it is then possible to have a big change in a short period of time. It feels like a major shift in consciousness or sensory experience just happens, all at once.

Ayya Medhanandi Bhikkhuni describes how this works, in The Dharma of Snow:

"...we need to be able to feel our humanity, to feel our nature from the inside. Not superficially but from within, where the invisible factors of mindfulness, clarity, faith, energy, concentration, and wisdom can dismantle and dissolve years and years of deluded ways of perception, of relating to life. That’s what this practice brings about, given enough patience and diligence and surrendering to the process. It brings about a spiritual transformation. It’s invisible. We don’t know it right away, but after years we begin to see. We see the changes in each other. We see the changes in ourselves. It’s quite remarkable."

I find this essay deeply encouraging, a true validation of my commitment to daily mindfulness practice. I much prefer complete and lasting change that takes time, over quick changes that disappear like soap bubbles.

So no discouragement, at least not for long. Every time we wake up, we wake up a little more.


Leaping Into Mindfulness, Part Two

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes... Including you. -- Anne Lamott

When I promised to report back on my day of mindfulness, I imagined sharing lessons learned, significant inner experiences, and maybe even a little insight. My expectation was that I would gain something which could then be given. That's not how the day went, and although it was successful in every way, I didn't emerge with anything tangible. That's because there's no "there" there. There is nothing special to get, have, do, or be. In certain respects it was an ordinary, unremarkable day.

I'm frequently asked about the value of meditation, about what a person can get out of it, so it's an easy trap to fall into. As a teacher, I need to consider "takeaways" for my students. We think that by sitting or walking in formal practice we are building up to something or accumulating spiritual credit somehow. We are conditioned to think this way, especially in the U.S., where everything is a commodity, part of the American Dream mentality that having more equals being more. In recent years this has become especially true of "mindfulness." One of my three words for 2016 is prosperity, so I have been watching to see how my ideas of scarcity, abundance, and economic exchange operate in my life. I'm intrigued by how it shaped my expectations in this instance, to see my assumption that I'm "getting something" out of meditating, and that it is a thing that can be given to others.

It's complicated. Regular daily practice definitely has a stronger impact on my life than when I was only sitting now and then. The discipline to meditate even when I don't feel like it has been hugely beneficial, carrying over to other instances in my day-to-day where I don't want to participate but now choose to stay with what is happening instead of resisting or running away. I am becoming more skilled at focusing, I now have "tools" for managing my anxiety, rage, grief, and despair (also joy and enthusiasm and faith). I treat myself with more respect and kindness than before. Sometimes this spills over into how I treat other people.

These are just some of the effects of regular meditation and mindful movement practice. Yet, like the Alexander Technique, the point is not to gain but to lose, to let go of what's in the way. When I sit or walk or do Qigong, if I approach it as a way to get something (like peace of mind) or get rid of something (like tension), I will struggle. Rather than being with whatever is arising, I have an agenda for what is supposed to happen and I need to keep checking on my progress. Thus my desires are running the show. Meditation becomes the way I can see that operating and drop it. This is the practice. Yet even knowing that, I still get caught in the belief that I'll get something from the letting go that I can then share with others. This makes me smile at myself.

Here's some highlights (okay, takeaways) from my experience of an at-home day-long silent meditation retreat. There's nothing new to me in any of this, and I'm so grateful for the reinforcement of lessons I keep learning as I go.
  1. Cultivate No-Time. During the first sit at 6 am I noticed a lovely feeling of expansion and freedom, and realized how luxurious it felt to know I had the whole day ahead for practice. When I sit most mornings, there's a subtle sense of urgency, a need to stay on schedule. I'm often sending messages about efficiency and productivity, like I'm saying "get 'er done!" Since then I have allowed myself to tap into the experience of no-time that meditation brings. How can I cultivate the luxury of spacious awareness, even in a short meditation?

  2. Can't Unsee That. I love walking meditation. Walking in my own house, not so much. All I could see was the mess and the dirt and the repairs that need to be made. Even with eyes lowered, even when anchored in the present moment, I felt inundated by the stuff I normally choose to ignore. Just for balance, I began noticing the beautiful things too: the colors, the light, my daughters' artwork, the feeling of the rug under my feet. It sounds like a stale proverb, but it is harder to walk in your own house than in someone else's.

  3. Fundamental Support. I ordered a new zabuton to match my awesome memory foam zafu, and it arrived just as my mid-morning guided meditation with my teacher Mark was ending. I appreciated the lovely difference it made in my comfort (as compared to a blanket on the rug). It wasn't due for a few more days, so I felt supported by the universe in my intentions for the day.

  4. Cleaning Into Mindfulness. I scheduled a work period into the day, which expanded from 45 to 75 minutes because it was so enjoyable. That's right. Cleaning toilets and washing floors felt good. As in pleasurable, physically pleasant. Turns out the secret to enjoying household chores is simply to show up and be present while doing them. I apply my Alexander Technique in these activities, and it removes strain and increases ease. Scrubbing a sink becomes an opportunity to awaken. 

  5. Inertia and Momentum. I hit the same energy roadblocks I always hit. I was sleepy after lunch, but that was anticipated; my schedule called for a walk along the canal. Still wanting to sleep when I returned, I stuck with the plan and sat for some guided metta practice. I hoped the specific nature of this type of meditation, where I consciously send wishes of loving kindness to myself and others, would keep me alert. It did not. Torpor and sluggishness won out and I took a nap, which had also been built into the schedule, knowing myself as well as I do. Upon waking, I enjoyed some Qigong practice and rebalanced all that sluggish energy. That gave me momentum to keep going through dinner time and into the evening. I was surprised at how a big part of me wanted to quit at this point, with only a few hours to go. I saw how habituated I am to hitting the internal "off switch" in the evening. I reminded myself that I wasn't working or "on," so there was no need to turn off.
Because nothing much of consequence happened, because I was in my everyday environment, because I got quiet and attended to simple things like breathing, walking, and washing up, I was able to notice how much of what I typically think of as "my life" is made up stuff.  That is, stuff that isn't actually happening, except in my mind. Since Leap Day I've continued my experiment with awareness, to keep learning how to take it off the cushion and out into the world. I forget to experiment a lot of the time, and I'm not always successful when I do remember, but wow -- thinking sure likes to create a lot of drama and unnecessary nonsense. Of course that's what the mind does, that is its nature. Doesn't mean I have to believe it.


Are you curious about how a day of mindfulness practice might benefit you? If you live in or near Philadelphia, consider joining me for Moving Into Mindfulness on April 9. If that's not possible, invite me to teach in your region. Or contact me privately and I will help you create your own personal silent meditation retreat.



Leaping Into Mindfulness, Part One

After the Oscars, Before Super Tuesday

Lately I've been pining for a long retreat at Insight Meditation Society (IMS) or somewhere. I get such amazing results in my practice when I have the time and space to do nothing but meditate and do mindful movement. The 9-day silent retreat works in a powerful way to stabilize my attention and lead me into a depth of awareness that daily meditation cannot. Alas, it will be late April before I can get back here:

So I decided to try something I read about or heard from someone like Tara Brach or Sharon Salzburg or Sylvia Boorstein: a one-day silent meditation retreat at home. I chose Leap Day, February 29, because I figured, what makes more sense than to celebrate getting an "extra" 24 hours of time by practicing nonstop silent contemplation of the present moment?

This can succeed because I'm an empty nester, my husband leaves very early on Mondays to teach in New York and doesn't get home until later in the evening. I can turn off the phones, set an away message on my email, and follow a schedule very similar to the one I follow when I'm at IMS. Of course my meals won't be prepared for me, and there won't be a crew to do my dishes, but I have made meals in advance and will cook and clean mindfully (and there's a work period in the schedule). I've arranged my time in 60- or 45-minute segments, alternating between sitting and walking meditation, with periods for meal prep and eating, housework, mindful movement like outdoor walking and Qigong, and even a nap.

The midmorning sit is with guidance and in the evening I'll listen to a dharma talk. I can do this because there are literally hundreds of recorded meditation sessions and teachings at Dharma Seed, a priceless resource for curious yogis and meditators. I will also mine the 31 video podcasts from last October's Mindfulness Summit, which I have archived. There are so many options, I'm going to download a few to my Kindle and then use that for audio and video delivery. Other than that, no electronics allowed! I'll be going off the grid after the Oscars tonight and won't return until early on Super Tuesday.

I realize that one of the other reasons this is possible is because of my privilege. I have a job with flexible hours, I have a safe home, I have good health, I have the ability to give myself this day of self-care. I am grateful for my secure situation in life, and the first blessing I will recite tomorrow is one of praise and thanksgiving.

At this writing, I have about 6 more hours to speak, use my phone and computer, watch TV (the Oscars are like the Superbowl around here), and live "normally."  After the retreat is over, I'll post Part Two and report back on how it all goes.

Does this sound like something you'd like to try too? What would you need to put into place in order for it to be possible?



Three Words

I have decided to experiment with a way of framing my work and life this year, an approach which has often been suggested to me from sources both personal (people who know me well) and professional (experts who do not). I’ve resisted this advice in the past, feeling like it’s gimmicky or limiting somehow. Over the past few weeks, however, I’ve quietly tried it out and it feels helpful. It is simply this: choose three words for 2016 that will guide and inform everything you do.

One blogger, Chris Brogan, recently caught my attention as the latest to recommend this practice. The idea is that the three words inform decision-making, serve as touchstones during uncertainty or confusion, and challenge me to ask deeper questions about my motivations and assumptions. Chris points out the advantage of choosing three words over several or just one: the power of triangulation. Each of the words (or more accurately, the concepts behind the words) reinforce the other two and are in turn nuanced by them.

Choosing my three words was a wonderfully insightful process. I saw more clearly what I value, what I feel I lack, what I’m good at, what scares me, and what brings me satisfaction. That alone was worth it, and you might consider what three words you would choose, even if you don’t plan on holding yourself to them all year. In considering several options, I intended to strike a balance between small, specific action words (“build”) and large, universal ideas (“compassion”), but I’ve ended up with some mighty big, slightly intimidating words, and that’s okay. My three words feel friendly and demanding in equal measure, and I’m surprised at how easy it has been to turn toward them without effort when I need to.

My three words for 2016 are:
  • Prosperity 
  • Interdependence 
  • Love
Rather fundamental, especially the last one. I will be writing about each of the three in the coming weeks, and about how relating to them or using them as guiding forces plays out in my developing work. For now, here’s some working definitions and a few initial thoughts on each.

Prosperity - a successful, flourishing, or thriving conditionGood fortune, success, profitability, affluence, wealth, ease, plenty.

This makes me quite anxious, and I have my Spiritual Accountability Group to thank for that. They rightly challenged me to take a good hard look at this, and now I’m motivated to end my ambivalence about money and success and seek to understand what it truly means to prosper. It also reflects my desire to address issues of class and privilege more directly this year. Some initial questions that arise include:
  • What am I doing to thrive, how does my work help others thrive too?
  • How can I more easily recognize “scarcity mentality” and embrace present-moment abundance?
  •  What’s wrong with making lots of money?
  •  How does money reflect, or not reflect, how I value my work in the world?
Interdependence -   the quality or condition of being interdependent; mutually reliant on one another. [Here’sa cool video about one example of interdependence]

This makes me feel so enormously joyful and grateful and safe. It is my antidote to despair. I have taught that everything is connected for 25 years and I certainly know body-mind unity. Yet it is only recently that I have been able to live in the flow of all that is (not constantly of course), sensing the complexity of how everything I can experience is interwoven and affected by everything else. We’re all in this together. Relevant queries might be:
  • How can I trust interdependence and act from that trust?
  • How does remembering interdependence help to develop compassion?
  • What do I gain from my fierce independence? Does interdependence negate that? How does my individuality fit in?
  • How does working with myself or one other person serve the whole of creation?
  • How does my work with groups reflect my understanding of interdependence?
Love – There are so many definitions, as we all know. This is a link to some of them.

I suppose this could or should be a guiding word every year. This year, I have reached a point where I need to understand Love in a fresher or deeper way. Like the song Both Sides Now, I really don’t know Love at all. I experience it, I share it, I crave it, I am provoked by it, I have potent memories of it, but honestly? It feels like I am just barely waking up to Love. I have so many questions, it makes me chuckle to think of it. Here’s a few:

  • Is Love our default setting?
  • Love can manifest any way it wants to. How do I cultivate Love skillfully?
  • What is the relationship between power, vulnerability, wellness, and Love?

My three-word framework has already made a difference in my confidence level and my ability to relax into everyday living. Somehow, having these big ideas as reference points assists me in navigating my life. I look forward to learning more as I go and sharing what I discover.

I honor the Light within you. Namaste.