Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I just finished watching Barack Obama's State of the Union address. I felt inspired and saddened. I was inspired by Barack's articulation of his disappointment and frustration, acceptance of responsibility and calls for unity. I was saddened by the bi-partisanship response to the address, the democrats applauding every sentence and the republicans only applauding when Barack made a clear step in their direction. Both seemed like opposing fans at a football game. He spoke of the American people being cynical about government and losing trust. I noticed as I started to watch the address I felt cynical and mistrusting. I have felt let down by what has occurred since Obama got elected. I am aware that during the election I had high energy to help with the campaign and high hopes for the future. After the election I told myself that I was going to take a break and rest from political involvement. That break has extended to last well over a year. Maybe it is myself I am saddened by. Gradually, I stopped reading e-mails, stopped donating money and left the job of supporting the president I so enthusiastically helped to elect, to other people. When I pull my energy back it is easy to complain that nothing is getting done. Tonight I was aware of what Barack Obama is up against. He is a politician, a politician with a heart. I can see how that would create lots of conflict internally and externally. He wants to be understood, liked and reelected and he wants to stand up for what he believes in. I was aware tonight that Barack Obama is only one man. I feel tired when I think about what it must be like to be President right after a conservative Republican wins Teddy Kennedy's seat in congress. What a vote of no confidence. He didn't grovel and blame himself. That is to his credit. I wish he had addressed it more directly and acknowledged that he heard the message and will listen.
I just got an e-mail from Barack Obama entitled," I can't do it alone." I am going to read it. That is a start toward reengaging my energy and finding a way to participate that isn't all or nothing.
In my yoga class today there were 15 people. Every person there had a different intention for themselves yet each was there to support their own well-being in some way. Maybe some were there to become more flexible, some were there to quiet their minds and move down into their bodies, some came to the class out of curiosity, some came to lose weight, some to gain strength, some because a friend dragged them there. There were eight men. Men are now coming to yoga classes more and more. Yoga has become more acceptable exercise for men.
I think men are drawn to my class because my hips are so tight and I'm not a pretzel. I can present poses in a way that they can do. It is joyful to me to hear the chanting of aum with such a range of voices. We practice in a circle -each person in the circle doing warrior two, the spiritual warrior, each in the unique way their body does the pose, each beautiful. Looking around the circle I can feel the energy building from my passion for practicing yoga to each person's committment to practicing, all different, all part of the energy flow we are creating together. I think about the state of the union, yoga means union.
I imagine the members of congress in a giant hall doing yoga together. Barack Obama is suited up and ready to participate. Everyone looks around and breaks out in laughter at how silly they look and how foolish they feel. The teacher is skilled at teaching a challenging and gentle class. Everyone is there to support their own well-being and willing to share the experience to support the well-being of all of us. There is a chant: One One each and every one. Each one whole and united in the one. As bodies stretch, minds stretch. People begin to look around and notice each other as fellow human beings. People begin to move down into their bodies and follow their breathing. The amygdula of their brains in fight or flight gives way to the prefrontal cortex of the reasoning mind. There is a palpable sense of presence in the air. It starts to dawn on some of them at first and then begins to spread throughout the room that we are all in this together. People put down their weapons of defensiveness and look each other in the eye and speak from the heart. They bring that energy to their leadership of this country. My inner cynic says, " Yeah right." I say, "I can undrstand that you would feel that way and I can dream and hold a vision of my dream." Do you remember this dream? " Last night I had the strangest dream I ever dreamed before. I dreamed the world had all agreed to put an end to war." Or this one, "Imagine all the people living life in peace." Do you have a dream? Could you let yourself dream it?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I care about your suffering

Haiti. I hardly knew anything about the small country until last week's earthquake. I knew my friend Smokey had adopted a child from Haiti twenty years ago and that her biological daughter had changed her name to Haiti. When the earthquake hit and news of the horrors of the disaster started pouring in the amount of suffering was very hard to imagine. I chose not to watch many news reports because I came away feeling helpless and overwhelmed.
What I'd like to focus on in this blog is the positive outcomes in the midst of a crisis.
There is an unprecedented outpouring of financial contributions. For example, I read tonight that twenty seven million dollars in donations has been charged to cell phones. At first the cell phone companies were holding the donations until the bills were paid and now they are releasing the funds before the bills are paid. There are many organizations that were already in Haiti doing good work that are in a position to help more immediately. Many countries have been sending aid and food and water. I read tonight that Holland is sending a plane to pick up 109 orphans who are being adopted by Dutch parents. People seem to be coming together in the effort to help.
What has come up for me is a sense that we are all one and that this is happening to our global family. It is important in a time like this to be able to have clear boundaries and take in other people's suffering rather than taking it on. I read about a practice in the notes from Peter Williams' meditation class. He suggested in imagining the suffering of others, that we breathe in and say to ourselves "I care about your suffering". With our exhalation we say to ourselves," May you be free from suffering." When I do this practice I imagine sending this energy from my heart to the people I want it to reach. Remarkedly I actually feel like I'm contributing. It is something to do when there is nothing to do on the physical , besides helping financially.Today I practiced with my own suffering. I imagined my own suffering. Suffering is my experience of resisting what is. In my experience, pain is inevitable . Suffering, however is optional. I can breathe into my experience of suffering, even the suffering created by feeling helpless about not being able to fix other people's suffering and say to myself,"I care about your suffering. May you be free from suffering." This is very comforting. It brings compassionate attention to my suffering and allows me to get to the sensations in my body.
Bringing compassionate attention to the sensations in my body underneath the story of what I am suffering about now, often triggers my past to be experienced and healed. I remember being with my parents as a kid and feeling the tension between them and so wanting to make it better. It was such a helpless feeling. Instead of being able to hang out with my feelings because I could share them with my parents and be comforted I learned to adopt the believe that if I couldn't make it better there must be something wrong with me.
I say to the little girl inside me,"You didn't do anything wrong. Your parents didn't know how to be direct and clear and loving with each other when they wanted or needed something. This was not your fault. You wanted to love them with all of your heart. It was difficult for both of them to let your love in. In order to let love in a person must be willing to feel the pain of not being loved in the past. Your parents didn't have the skill set to do this. They did the best they could. In the process a lot of your needs didn't get met. I, as your adult self, am here to nurture you and protect you and help you to see that you are lovable and smart. What you want and need is Ok and it is OK to ask me for it. You are not too much. You are just enough." She doesn't understand the words. She gets my intent. We breathe together and feel the pain of all of this. the pain wells up in my chest moves to my throat and releases into tears. The little girl inside me smiles and asks if we can go play now.
See if you are moved to practice breathing into the suffering of yourself or others and say"I care about your suffering with your inhalation and May you be free from suffering with your exhalation. I have been practicing it today and it has helped me to feel lighter. When I went for a walk today I said it like a mantra. I imagined sending it to myself, then different people I know and then to the people in Haiti. "I care about your suffering. May you be free from suffering." Thanks for listening.

Thursday, January 14, 2010


I had dental implant surgery today. I was very nervous and had been putting it off for years because of the expense, my fear of the unknown and the story I was making up about how I didn't need to do it. I convinced myself it didn't matter that I had a big hole in my mouth that mostly didn't show unless I smiled broadly. When I saw the pictures of myself from Monnya and Isaac's wedding I realized the hole was very visible because I always smile broadly. I like smiling with my full heart and that's very toothy. Also I am tired of only chewing on one side for all these years. Implants cost a lot of money and it was difficult to justify spending it. I finally decided to go for it.
The surgery was at 7 this morning and it went really well. My dentist is thorough and capable and her staff is competent and kind. I was comfortable sharing how nervous I was and they listened and didn't try to talk me out of my feelings. They understood and reassured me with clear complete information about what to expect. My intention is to do this process with homeopathic remedies rather than western painkillers. My homeopathic doctor, who I haven't seen for two years,kindly responded to my phone message with detailed instructions. So far this has been a positive experience and a learning opportunity about staying present with what is. This morning I awoke very early to do my disciplines before I left, and I heard a voice saying "Don't do this today!" My reaction was to knee-jerk into fear. I decided to listen to the voice to get more information instead of spinning from the fear into terror about doing it wrong.
" You are making a mistake. Something terrible is going to happen. You didn't do enough research. You can't trust your dentist knows what she is doing. This is not a good idea. You have to get out of it now." The voice went on. "You are too trusting. How do you know your dentist can do a good job? You just jump into things without enough information." I realized that Gary was the messenger. He was questioning me last night about whether I asked my dentist how many of these implant surgeries she had done? I hadn't. I felt judgement coming from him and he owned that he was afraid because I didn't have the information he would have gotten. He was the messenger for me to then be triggered into self-doubt. I am learning not to kill the messenger. I used being upset as an opportunity to be with the fear and to feel it in my body. I said to myself, "I am afraid" and brought my compassionate attention to the sensation of the fear. I imagined, Andie, the little girl inside me feeling this fear, surrounded by the inner child care center of my spiritual core, my inner protective parent and my inner nurturing parent. Lots of old dental experiences that were scary arose and subsided. I felt a sense of peace and realized the fear had released. I knew it was O.K. to go ahead with the dental work and that it felt right to me to do it. I knew it from the inside. It was a relief and I felt grateful. Everytime I recognize my ego's voice, recognizing my ego's voice gets easier.I am starting to believe that any voice of judgement isn't my Soul or higher self or God or the universe, whatever name I give the part of me who loves me know matter what.
I have been starting the day in my circle invoking the inner resource center and it is really helpful in coming into my day feeling more safe and secure from the inside.I think it makes it easier to recognize my ego. I highly recommend that if the spirit moves you you consider starting the day with your inner resources in your awareness. It's helpful to me to push past my judgements about what it means about me to ask for help and ask anyway. My inner resource team is always there waiting. I'm certain yours is too.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Intentions 2010

Happy New Year. May it be satisfying and filled with love and whatever else it is filled with. Maybe it would be better to say May it be filled with whatever it is filled with. I have been thinking a lot about intentions. New Years resolutions are a tradition in this country. Health clubs are filled to overflowing with people who resolve to commit to better self care in January. By February the workout rooms become much less crowded as people fall back into their habitual self-forgetting patterns. The difference between resolutions and intentions to my mind are that intentions come from our heart's desire and resolutions come from the ego telling us we're not OK and we should do something to improve ourselves. Ego-based resolutions are about fear and greed. An example might be ,"I have to lose some weight because my partner might leave or I have to make more money so I can buy an expensive new toy. Intentions on the other hand come from listening to that still small voice inside that is there guiding us toward our center or inner divinity.
The other day with a group of women I suggested we create three intentions and that we find them by going inside and being quiet with ourselves. These three intentions are: one thing we want to continue doing that we are already doing, one thing we want to stop doing, and one thing we want to start doing.
The three I came up with were very powerful for me.
The one I am already doing that I want to continue doing is the presence process. It is reading the book The Presence Process by Michael Brown, doing continuous breathing practice twice a day each time for fifteen minutes and saying presence activating statements. This process is extremely enlivening for me. I am ready to start week five tomorrow and the process lasts ten weeks.
The one I want to stop is acting out my anxiety by obsessing about my relationship, picking my nails, and eating when I'm not hungry. Instead I want to practice bringing compassionate attention to myself either when I notice I am already doing one of those behaviors or if I notice I am pulled in the direction of acting out in one of those three ways.
I want to notice and soothe myself and explore what is going on with me. I want to see my anxiety as a gift that is bringing me to my own attention rather than distracting me from whatever is going on with me. I want to comfort myself and nurture that fearful child inside.
I want to forgive myself when I fall into my habitual self-forgetting patterns and use them to remember.

The intention that I want to start is to celebrate more. That would include noticing what is good in myself and others, being grateful and allowing myself to do things that feel fun. It would mean letting go and letting myself enjoy my enjoyable life and be kind to myself when I don't. I want to give myself permission to do things I enjoy and more space not to do things I don't. I want to be more playful and silly and dance and sing whenever I am moved to. I will keep you posted about all of this. It is good to share my intentions with you. Would you like to do this process too?
What might your intentions be? Take some time to be quiet and ask yoursef, What do I want
to continue?, What do I want to stop? What do I want to start? Write them down. That gives them more power and lets you have them to refer back to. Consider sharing them with a trusted other person. That lends power too and can provide support. Maybe even choose an intention buddy and support each other once a week in moving toward your intentions.