I have been to doctors, therapists, church, spiritual fellowships, lots of school and all have offered me information, some insight, inspiration, and a dash of wisdom here and there. However none of them have come close to the potency of the the soul food I get through embodied mindfulness, the primary tool of Phoenix Rising yoga therapy.
Okay, I will admit, I am biased. I AM a Phoenix Rising yoga therapist. However, I assure you this is just a happy, responding-to-a-calling-I-couldn’t-explain, accident. I went from a part time music and movement teacher and educational consultant to falling upon yoga for kids, to knowing that I needed to work therapeutically with yoga, to finding Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy and knowing that was the program I needed to complete without ever having a full session for myself.
The universe had many signposts along the way like landing particular trainings in my lap when I didn’t expect them, having my life intersect with a few select people that were clearly crossing guards on the “fulfilling your calling” highway, and receiving the entire tuition of this multi-year process as a gift. I like to think of that one as an academic scholarship sponsored by something far greater than me.
Fast forward several years, and I have a yoga therapy practice which I love. I also have an extraordinarily sick daughter who struggles with multiple devastating mental illness diagnoses, including two that are considered the most lethal of all mental illnesses. I have two other children that are growing up, which is no small feat on it’s own, and feeling the burden of their sister. I have a husband, who struggles with his own health challenges, and I find most mornings literally mustering up the strength to face one more day of a professional life he doesn’t want, and a personal life that is breaking his heart.
And somedays I can’t breathe because of the fear that overwhelms me. And somedays I cry at the toll these challenges have had on the professional life I have worked hard to develop. And somedays I think finding a mountaintop and staying there sounds extraordinarily appealing.
And every morning I wake up before I want to, come downstairs, and pray: asking my divine beloved to remove all my defects of character that get in the way of my being of service, expressing my gratitude for the gift of yoga in my life, and then I sit in quiet time. Sometimes, this quiet time looks like classic meditation – following my breath, or using a mantra. Sometimes, I am exhausted, and honestly, I just fall asleep again. But I put my butt in the chair everyday and let it be what it is.
On REALLY good days, I get mindfully embodied. I play yoga therapist on myself. I check into my breath, my body, my emotions, my thoughts, my “inner pilot light” as Lissa Rankin calls it, and create an intention. Then I move – sometimes in classic yoga poses, sometimes not, whatever feels right to me in the moment. And I listen. I listen to what comes to mind as I move. I allow my mental chatter to take a backseat and intentionally allow my body to talk. And it does. Every time.
When I feel complete, I sit – and reflect on this experience and explore what experience, impression, or sensation appeared most significant for now. Today, as I stood balancing on one foot, I recognized how important it was for me to keep my gaze focused on a point straight ahead. Without it – I would immediately fall over. I also felt this strength pulsating through the center of my back and radiating out the rest of my body blasting out my arms and rooting down into my feet.
Then I reflect on how lost I feel when I let go of my focus in my life. How easy it is for me to collapse into my sadness and confusion when I become exhausted from over-efforting in my life without connecting to my center.
And I listen quietly to my inner pilot light for the final take-away…..today, it was “Come back to me”.