Rosh Hashanah

11 years ago on this day the car I was driving in went off the road, hit a ditch which flung the car through the air and into what seemed like endless time and space. It narrowly missed a giant poll which probably would have killed us, but instead rolled into a field after it nose-dived back to the ground. 

We landed with my passenger side down. The glass of the windshield fully cracked but not shattered. Somehow my glasses completely intact still on my face. My boyfriend at the time got himself out of the car and was trying to find a way out for me. At first I thought maybe it was a dream or that I had died. Somehow I managed to hear him say that I had to get out because gas was coming out of the car. 

So I did. I pulled myself out of the car through the broken window above me. I pulled myself out of the car not understanding why it felt like my arms would not work. I pulled myself out of the car and the dark night of broken metal with two fractures in my collar bone and six in my sternum-right through the center of what we call the heart space. 

Later, I discovered that those fractures were a result of the way the seatbelt restrained me and the impact of the airbag on my chest, which would have suffocated me had my seat not been reclined because I was falling asleep at the moment we drove off the road. I would also like to say this is not a tale of a drunk driver. He lost sight of the curve of the farmland road. That's it. It was dark. It was chance. 

And we literally walked out of that car alive and to the side of the nearly empty road in the new-moon darkness to meet an ambulance that had been called by two good samaritans who happened to be on the road that night. 

It was the second night of Rosh Hashanah and it was the Fall Equinox and it was Navaratri. 

I have always considered that night a rebirth for me. Though I rarely ever talk about it now. I did recount it for the first few years as I tried to understand the narrative and soothe the PTSD I developed. But over the past few years it has felt less relevant. 

The other day I was getting some bodywork and my Rolfer and dear friend was working on my right arm. She asked if that collar bone had ever been broken. "Yes" I told her. And since then I have been thinking of this night. Not in a bad, traumatic way. But in a deeply reverent way. 

As I write these words I can feel that old familiar painful ache in my chest. The kind of ache I lived with for years. First the intensity of bones healing and regrowing. And then the trapped fear and freezing. And then the old memory that creeps in through feeling when the air is damp and cold. 

I died that night. That night of the new year in 2006 as we turned towards fall, toward the liminal portal of the Days of Awe. But I was also reborn that night. I was reborn by Grace. Thrown into the Book of Life. Durga took away all the ways of being that were slowly sinking my life into a hole and made my life something more whole and holy. She delivered me that night. 

This time of year feels sacred to me not only because my traditional ways mark it so, but because I know with every living cell in my body that veils are thin right now. Prayers matter. And if we are given the chance to live. Let us delight in the moonlight and the royal sun by loving more fiercely than we can ever imagine. 

My relationship with a man I deeply loved also died that night. He was driving us home. It was an accident of no persons fault. We never managed to recover from our fear, pain and overwhelm. We grew apart. We hurt each other deeply. But he did indeed drive us Home that night. We were launched into lives that took us away from one another and towards our own future children and the spouses we deeply adore. We were reborn into the lives and loves waiting for us on this Rosh Hashanah eleven years later. We were initiated. 

This is my Rosh Hashanah prayer and blessing: 

May you be reborn. 

May your broken bones filled with the worlds sorrow heal. And remain achy enough you never loose sight of the worlds need for your healing touch.

May you move towards the sweetness and newness of Life even in the dark shattered and scattered night. 

May you dwell in the deep trust of the Goddess as your guide gently and ferociously surrounding you with Grace. 

May you go forth in this new year and new life and new cycle with a strength and vulnerability on your tongue. 
 

The Pace of Nature

 

Increasingly so I experience the world as loud. As a mama, I am reawakened in my senses through the eyes of my child. I can see just how big and loud and overstimmulating the world is.  

Yesterday at the toy store I watched Olive find her way over to the wall of plastic music making toys. On the one hand these toys are wonderful. They engage sensory and motor coordination. They focus attention and keep said child entertained. Which is good for mama. But I also watched her increasingly become literally crazed by this toy. It not only captivated her. It consumed her. The louder the toy got, the louder she became. Together they made a cacophony that surpassed the delicate and precious features of delight and entered into some kind of manufactured stimulus-induced mania. 

This is our world. increasingly built less on the natural elements of wood, metal, clay, attention, contact, drum beats, wind rustles, thunder and gesture, and more on silicon, virtuality and synthesized noise. 

I should mention I have also observed Olive be equally as entertained by dirt and rocks. A quiet, present, embodied delight.

The difference?

When she play with a natural material she is in her body. Rhythmically engaged in play.

When she plays with plastic and manufactured noise she leaves her body.

But this is not a post about the toys you choose for your kids. Thats not really my business anyway.

What this is about is our innate sensitivity that is bombarded on a daily basis by a world that is quick, loud and aggressive. A world that people built. And perhaps that is the fundamental distinction. 

The world as it is has us a simple integral feature to the whole picture. We are no less or more important than the willow and the prairie dog. We are equal in importance to the bees and the burdock. And I would even wager we might be less important. We are part of a system that sings and harmonizes because it does. There is nothing virtual about it. But the world we have built is based on buildings and screens and recordings. A masked and mutilated self-important dominance-over instead of that sweet and simple humble cohabiter.

And through the eyes and nervous system of a tiny human being I see just how magnificent what is Natural is and just how self absorbing what is Manufactured is. 

None of us are immune from the addiction of feeling smooth plastic in our hands. Or the pseudo support of the light of a screen.

The world is loud if you listen. The sounds of the wind and the birds and thunder.

Loud. Present. Immediate.

The sound of the grass and the aspen leaves.

Gentle. Subtle. Magic.

The world is fast enough if you witness it.

Rushing waters. Pounding rain.

Sliding Mud.

Flash of lightening. Darting squirrel.

 

We were designed to move at a pace in step with nature. All rhythms are found in the Earths capacity.

 

Quick. Slow.

Thumping. Slithering.

All the rhythms of all the beings.

 

When we reclaim rhythm and movement, we reclaim the pace of nature. We embody the natural world.

 

To Be A Mother

I have been searching on what I could say about being a mama since Mothers Day last week. I guess maybe I felt compelled to say something. (Oh the joys of social media in the back of your mind). I suppose I want you to know the truth. That it is the most amazing, joy-filled, heart bursting thing I have ever experienced. And it is so insane. So crazy making. So painful some days.

Sure, I feel grateful to be a mama and overcome with joy for her. But if I am honest I also find it incredibly hard. My birth story with Olive was empowering and profoundly awakening. And I have bits and pieces about the postpartum I am still releasing. I am so far from the perfect mom ideal and I understand my own mother so much more now. I cannot believe what she did for me. Its unfathomable actually. And yet, somehow I do it to. And I feel incredibly grateful to my baby daddy and partner. For sending me into a journey I never could have imagined. But all of this feels still banal. What I really think is worth sharing is this, that just dawned me this morning....

~~~~~~~~~

I am sitting here, listening to the Hanuman Chalisa and am overcome with a sense that perhaps the Ramayana is actually the story of motherhood.

And in that way the myth evokes all parts of ourselves, you as the mama, are every character in the story.

You are beloved and lover, you are the valiant helper, you are the demon, you have magical powers.

You lay yourself on the thin line-the razors edge day in and day out. You need to be reminded of your greatness.

You have been stolen away and locked up. You are searching and looking.

You are the one who holds the image of your child in your heart always. Your heart graciously and unequivocally breaks itself open, tears itself open, reveals itself to be of your child.

In dignity and service.

To the one.

Living outside yourself.

Always in your heart.

Motherhood is the great the Leap.

Some do not make it back. Some stay locked up. Some stay demonized forever. Some get twisted and confused. But if you can do the journey, the great leap, with your broken heart wide open, reunion happens.

Inner Gardening

This commentary is a reflection on Elliot's recent piece called The War on Weeds. You should and can read that here.  I wanted to expand upon his writing about the travesty of pesticide use on the bounty of natural goodness. I find this a deep metaphor for understanding our bodies and psyches. 

You see, I believe that your yoga must elicit some kind of action in our world. Yoga for the sake of yoga does not really exist in my book. Let your yoga make you passionate about something that makes the world better. I know that means mixing politics with yoga and opinions with yoga and some people really want that to be separate. Thats not what I am doing here. Its not what my family is about. And thats not what I teach. My husband has a deep passion for the Earth and for protecting her, relishing in her beauty and bounty and serving her deeply.

But what he has deeply in his psyche which many of us have lost is this...

Trust In The Earth.

You see, my husband trusts the earth is inherently good. He looks for the good in every weather pattern. He sees the bounty where others see weeds. He sees power where others see problems. He experiences awe where others experience fear.

These are guiding principles in his life and psyche. And ones we could all use to learn. This field of re-establishing a deep trust in the earth and the metaphor of the earth for healing attachment wounds and so much more is often called Echo Psychology fyi.

Anyways...
Reestablishing trust....

I often see people practice yoga in a way that is deeply untrusting of their body. The body is a problem. The body is uncomfortable. The body is lacking. The body has too many weeds to count. The body is aggravating.

And so the practice of yoga becomes a kind of pesticide if you will. A way to kill everything you dont want. A way to force out the mental and physical believed toxins. A way to control the garden you want.

But the body of your earth is far more intelligent than you think. There are some patterns that exist that ultimately enable the great magic to come through.

For example, my bodies design allowed me to carry my baby girl for 10 months exactly. Some doctors were alarmed by this and they wanted her out. The did not trust my body or hers. Ultimately, with a little coaxing, like the way you might need to manually go in and sort your garden, she got the memo and my body got the memo to come on down and out.

So you see, if you want to fight the War on Weeds and let good growth happen as it needs to, to be a little wild, then stop making your yoga just another product to cut, destroy and eradicate.

(Well and maybe consider the grass underneath your feet at your next yoga festival. Ironic right?)

To continue this metaphor further, weeds are weeds when they aren't what you are trying to grow. So take meticulous care in your practice. It takes time and effort and tender loving attention to pluck the weeds from your mind.

I know this because I have to constantly pluck those buggers. Yoga makes us more sensitive. And that sensitivity can allow neurosis to grow. Like the dandelions that spread their seeds in the wind, the sensitivity cultivated in yoga can spread in the wind of your breath. Meaning, sometimes you get things you don't want. So spend some time weeding and pruning. Maybe use some of them in another way, like a tincture for the mind and spirit.

I recently went through an intense narrow around fear. And as it turned out tasting a bit of that bitter and pungent weed in my mind helped me move through with more ease and awaken me to a more clarified understanding of purpose. Thank you fear. I don't want you overtaking the garden but, I'll use you as medicine.

The War on Weeds is real people. Not just for the dandelions and burdock. But right inside your own body. Everything in our culture wants us to buy products and services to fight these weeds...but thats not really what is attempting to be eradicated. It is actually a war on the deep trust in the earth--the inner and the outer earth that is your human birth right.