we are the people…

Consider the possibility that this charade of a presidential race may actually be very good news! What else could have pulled back the veil on the hidden inner landscape of America? Could there be a clearer clarion call bringing our attention to the great divide? Were it not for drumpf, no doubt most of us would have continued in our silent schisms unaware of just how polarized we are.

From disgust to disdain to daring, I discovered that by engaging in the “equality practice” outlined below, I can refrain from adding to the harm being proliferated on the planet. I didn’t cause it, I can’t cure it, but if I’m not careful, I sure as hell can add to it and not in a good way.

venus-by-warholThe practice is like putting on a new pair of glasses, a new perspective begins to emerge. I began by turning my heart towards people who, for whatever reason, have failed to challenge corrosive beliefs, those who are inclined towards “certainty without question” and “contempt prior to investigation.” I felt my heart soften as I pondered the idea that some of us may inherit a DNA of disdain from our ancestors for people that don’t share our worldview. At a  minimum, we all have our biases. I began to weep. Not for anyone in particular but for the magnitude of prayer and practice that stretches out ahead of us.

Because love trumps hate…

  • We the people can step into the shoes of women, Muslim, people of color, LGBTQ, or any number of other maligned and marginalized groups.
  • We the people can feel into what it would be like to be an American of another persuasion. As a woman, I can feel into what it would be like to be a frightened little boy inside of a big white guy.
  • We the people can let go and step out of whatever bubble we find ourselves in and begin to “see” with a wide angle lens.
  • We the people can ask ourselves how we can be so vehemently opposed to others simply because they don’t share our particular values, after all America was supposed to be a melting pot.
  • We the people can open our hearts and doors wide and allow for a radically diverse conversation.
  • We the people can allow others their perspective while honoring our own.

Equality Practice

Equality practice is a way of connecting with others and realizing that you and they are in the same boat. It is a simple human truth that everyone, just like you, wants to be happy and to avoid suffering. Just like you, everyone else wants to have friends, to be accepted and loved, to be respected and valued for their unique qualities, to be healthy and to feel comfortable with themselves. Just like you, no one else wants to be friendless and alone, to be looked down upon by others, to be sick, to feel inadequate and depressed.

The equality practice is simply to remember this fact whenever you meet another person. You think, “Just like me, she wants to be happy; she doesn’t want to suffer.” You might choose to practice this for a whole day, or maybe for just an hour or fifteen minutes. I really appreciate this practice, because it lifts the barrier of indifference to other people’s joy, to their private pain, and to their wonderful uniqueness.

The Equality Practice is from Tonglen: The Path of Transformation, by Pema Chödrön

think on this and love, Rees

breaking bad…

KASIA THE GREATI’ve located my gym stuff and have had a recent spike in courage topped off with a bit of audacity (blame this on a recent course of prednisone). After 2+ years couch surfing and video streaming myself into the void, I am waking up.

Enter Kasia out of “nowhere” during one of my sleepless and darkest nights last week as a fb post of one of her “clients” holding up a skirt twice her size streams across my screen along with the words “training” to hike the PCT. My interest piqued, my batteries instantly charged. But, wait, Kasia is a yoga teacher?! She and I met all those years ago in Rolf Gates Advanced Vinyasa TT. Fast forward 7 years, Kasia is now a Personal Trainer at Anytime Fitness Ghent.

When Kasia decided to honor her inner wisdom and “Just Do It” this is, in part, what she told her friends…

“I’m hooked. I’ve decided to do 2 more shows!!” Prep for a contest is hard. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done but I’ve fallen in love with every part of it .  It’s okay if you don’t get it. Or you don’t like it. Or you think I’m “too skinny” or if you think I’m starving myself. It’s not something many people will ever understand. I’m doing this for me. For my mind and my body. To push myself past where I thought was possible and it’s so empowering!!”

This was the result…

This woman is a Warrior and I want her on my team! She is the definition of wholehearted if ever there was one. It is so intoxicating! I have recruited Kasia as my very own fitness coach/personal trainer and all around ass-kicker extraordinaire.We have taken my “before” pictures and measurements. While my body is racked with the side effects of prednisone, at least 20 unnecessary pounds, and various aches and pains, I am as wholehearted as I can ever remember being and I’m ready for breaking bad!

Memories… from Katrina Kenison (co-author with Rolf of Meditations from the Mat)…“You know,” Rolf suggested, as we eased down into child pose, resting foreheads to mats, coming into stillness, “it is okay to be vulnerable. In fact a willingness to feel our feelings completely, to show our vulnerability, to acknowledge our own tenderness and confusion, is really what living wholeheartedly is all about. To be wholehearted is to be vulnerable.

CHILDS POSE BALASANA

Join Rolf for a 3 minute centering audio “Becoming Wholehearted

walking with you, waking with you, Rees

Getting Through November

holding-heart-in-hand1Someday, I may get over this fiasco of a presidential race, but right now, I am heartbroken over what I see it doing to the people of this nation. It’s only March and I sense the level of chaos and hatred rising exponentially. It’s wreaking havoc as eons of unresolved rage rises to the surface. Collectively, we are moving towards a tipping point and to be honest, I don’t have a clue what that will look like.

Suddenly, this weekend, A Return To Love crept into my meditation. Specifically, where Marianne Williamson writes about the Garden of Eden and God causing man to fall asleep and no where do we find  him waking-up. I began to soften instead of polarize and what rose to the surface was, “The world changes when we change, the world softens when we soften.” and “We’re asleep.” 

Asleep! SAMSARA (asleep to reality, separation) which arises out of a misperception about reality or AVIDYA (Ignorance or delusion). It is characterized by DUKKHA (suffering, anxiety, dissatisfaction). Samsara enables a person to think s/he is an autonomous, separated being instead of recognizing the interconnection between one’s self and the rest of reality. Believing in the illusion leads us to act in ways that perpetuate the illusion. We begin breaking through this illusion by maintaining an open mind and walking the world with curiosity, wonder, and a willingness to consider the unity of all.

In the The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Sogyal Rinpoche writes, “Sometimes I think that the greatest achievement of modern culture is its brilliant selling of samsara and its barren distractions. Modem society seems to me a celebration of all the things that lead away from the truth, make truth hard to live for, and discourage people from even believing that it exists. And to think that all this springs from a civilization that claims to adore life, but actually starves it of any real meaning; that endlessly speaks of making people “happy,” but in fact blocks their way to the source of real joy.”

“This modem samsara feeds off an anxiety and depression that it fosters and trains us all in, and carefully nurtures with a consumer machine that needs to keep us greedy to keep going. Samsara is highly organized, versatile, and sophisticated; it assaults us from every angle with its propaganda, and creates an almost impregnable environment of addiction around us. The more we try to escape, the more we seem to fall into the traps it is so ingenious at setting for us.”

It’s now abundantly clear to me (I hope) that I will need to largely bow out of this current political conversation and attend to equanimity, for myself, for others. This is the time to “guard our hearts” by maintaining a practice that brings us home into our hearts. Never underestimate the power of the thinking, egoic mind to land us right in the middle of where we don’t want to be.

Quoting Marianne in, How to Stay Sane During the Presidential Election, “We’re all living at the effect of a constant bombardment of stimulus which is meaningless at best and genuinely vicious at worse.”

walking with you, waking with you, Susan Rees

Resources for lovingkindness/metta and breathwork practice…