Monthly Archives: January 2013

We are all one

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This month I am fortunate enough to start a series of classes with Elder Kaia Svien. The course aims to build upon inner resources so we can be our best selves in face of uncertainty in the world. With the beginning of a new year and a new job, the timing has been impeccable, and I feel so fortunate to cross paths again with such a wonderfully in-tune mentor and role model and a like-minded community.

In class the other night, like in life, I was so up and down. We were asked to introduce ourselves with an animal movement. While I was thinking whale and moving very slowly with my back to the circle – trying to figure out how I would express water coming through a blowhole – when it was time to turn around and share our move with the group my body went all penguin on me, which is a very happy feeling by the way. You should try it. Anyway, despite feeling elated and fortunate to be present that evening, moments later when we had to share about what we were grateful for, I couldn’t help but burst into tears. The only thing that kept coming to my mind was all the planetary and personal and collective sacrifices that have occurred along the way (some intentional and some not-so-intentional) so that people like me could live the privileged life that I lead with ample choices that I make for better or worse. They were tears of joy and sorrow, hope and grief, fear and love, but mostly of gratitude and indebtedness. After sharing what I was grateful for, I was to talk about something I loved as a child that I still love now. Once I finished cry-talking about my love for animals, like a crack of lightning, I came to realize how ridiculous I’ve been leading my life lately, and how I have lost touch with my indebtedness to those that went before me and those that will come.

Here I am in a big life transition, an honor that has only been grounding and challenging and inspiring, and I have spent more time than I care to admit focusing on the “I wish this” or “I wish that” or “I wonder if” or “if only… I did this or did that or that they did that or didn’t do this.” You get the picture. Or I will get that overwhelming feeling, “well what can you really do?”

Well in that moment of exalting my love for my dog, Yuki, as I mentioned something in me seriously clicked and it’s like I actually finally get it. It’s hard to explain. But I know now, that now is the time, and the time is now. We need each other now more than any other time, and I’m ready to be a part of the solution. I’m not just saying this (I have just said this before). I know that our time is precious and the more I spend my energy on the “I wishes” or the finger pointing or the judgment, the less time and energy I have to be the change I want to see in the world.  There isn’t enough time to continue wasting life because of fear and because we are holding back our truth. And that’s that.

So I came on here partially for selfish reasons – to sort it out, but also because I wanted to share this thought process with you in hopes that you will join me in entertaining the possibility of just being once again but in a way that is coming home to our authentic selves and not turning away from our deepest fears and desires and to the fact that we are all connected.

I can’t go without saying that I owe this recent shift in consciousness to a number of people, places, and furry friends in my life – my parents/families (that includes you, Anne!), my teachers past and my teachers present- Kaia, her teacher, Joanna Macy, my yoga teacher, Tanya – and my current supervisors and place of work.

The greatest thing I’m finding about really recognizing that I am part of a whole, is that the whole has plenty of room for all of us – for the penguin moments and for those uncontrollable tears tied to deep grief and pain. As Joanna Macy says about the pain – it is simply the gateway into which you go into a communion with the living world that is fearless.

So tonight, not without regard to the pain and suffering in the world, I offer a toast to celebrate our connection to one another and to the whole. Here is a happy feet, penguin-like kind of a song. Call me cheesy, or call me real. Today, this song’s words resonate with me and I hope they resonate with you, too. Now let’s take care of the world and one another – and for some of us that means starting at home with ourselves, our friends, and our families.

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Great advice for prevention and management of the flu from the perspective of Chinese Medicine. Thanks to the folks from Penny George Institute for Health and Healing for sharing!

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by Megan Odell, L.Ac., MS

We’ve all seen the headlines. We’ve heard our doctors, friends and families talking about it – the flu is here and it does indeed appear to be particularly virulent this year.  “We are clearly at a high level of influenza activity in the state,” Minnesota Health Commissioner Edward Ehlinger, MD, said in a recent statement. It is easy to walk through our days with worry, cringing every time someone near us coughs.

And then… the dreaded thing happens: a tickle in your throat. A sneeze.  A sniffle.  And within hours you are in the full-on evil grasp of a cold, or the flu. You are miserable and tempted to throw rational thought out the window, along with your wadded up tissues.

What do you do then? First, stay calm. Seasonal influenza has always been a part of winter, and there are many ways to…

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On mandalas…What kind of mandala is yours?

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Despite being named Mandala Reflections, this blog hasn’t taken the time to devote a ton of information about the circular gems. So here is a quickie for you!

#One: A quote from Pema Chodren’s new book that captures the beauty of the mandala. (Thank you, Mary for sharing!)

“Each person’s life is like a mandala- a vast, limitless circle. We stand in the center of our own circle, and everything we see, hear and think forms the mandala of our life. We enter a room, and the room is our mandala. We get on the subway, and the subway car is our mandala, down to the teenager checking messages on her iPhone and the homeless man slumped in the corner. We go for a hike in the mountains, and everything as far as we can see is our mandala: the clouds, the trees, the snow on the peeks, even the rattlesnake coiled in the corner. We’re lying in a hospital bed, and the hospital is our mandala. We don’t set it up, we don’t get to choose what or who shows up in it. It is, As Chogyam Trungpa said, ‘the mandala that is never arranged but is always complete.’ And we embrace it just as it is. Everything that shows up in your mandala is a vehicle for your awakening. From this point of view, awakening is right at your fingertips continually. There’s not a drop of rain or a pile of dog poop that appears in your life that isn’t the manifestation of enlightened energy, that isn’t a doorway to sacred world. But it’s up to you whether your life is a mandala of neurosis or a mandala of sanity.”
(From Pema’s newest book, Living Beautifully with Uncertainty and Change)

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(Photo and mandala coloring courtesy of K. Higgins)

#Two: Some former classmates of mine are putting on a workshop on Mandalas late February! You should really consider attending if you are interested in learning more about them and how you can utilize them in your life. They are charging $25 for this workshop – an incredible value for being in community with and learning about a fascinating topic from incredibly knowledgeable women.  (They dedicated their master’s research project to the very topic of mandalas – very juicy stuff ;)). For more information on the event, check out their Facebook event page.