The Middle Way

It’s the law of nature to have balance.

When the moon is full (as it is today) it is directly opposite the sun, balanced on either side of earth.

Fall equinox (Wednesday) is a midpoint – where the day and the night are roughly equal to each other – 12 hours each. A balance point.

“From science we know the if you pull a pendulum thirty degrees to the right, it will swing back until it’s thirty degrees to the left.” Michael Singer, The Untethered Soul

“So where is the Tao? The Tao is in the middle. It’s the place where there is no energy pushing in either direction. The pendulum has been permitted to come to balance concerning food, relationships, exercise, sex, money, doing, not-doing, and everything else. Everything has its yin and yang.”

Yin and Yang; a concept of dualism, describing how obviously opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and how they may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.

Summer – Yang energy, fast, bright, expansive, external, heat, energy, thrust

Fall/Winter – Yin, slumber, hibernate, cocoon, mindfulness, healing, slow, internal

Seasons changing, days getting shorter, weather cooler, inviting us to turn inwards, perhaps slow down some of the busy summer beehive of activity. Inviting me to come into balance.

Nature in Balance

Come celebrate the Fall Equinox with me by giving yourself the gift of Balance. I will be leading a Yin Yoga & Sound Healing Gong Bath this Friday night in Walnut Creek. Details HERE.

International Yoga Day

Monday was International Yoga Day.  I didn’t know.  I’m just now seeing beautiful posts on Instagram.  I started practicing yoga in the 70’s when a hippie teacher from Oberlin insisted we do it in grade school.  I liked it.

I didn’t realize how fortunate I was to practice yoga in Boulder, CO until I moved away.  There are some serious yogis in Boulder.  Teachers from all over the world come to Boulder to teach.  I have been privileged to practice with many of them.  Rishikesh, India is touted as the yoga capital of the world.  There too, I have been privileged to practice on the banks of the Ganges and take classes from renowned teachers.

Today I feel grateful to some of my teachers from Boulder – Patricia Gipple – who once said she felt truly at home when she stepped on to her yoga mat.  When she said it, I didn’t

 really know what she meant.  But I liked the sound of it.  Over years of practice and traversing life with my yoga mat, I too have a relationship with my mat.  Navigating yoga on Zoom, making sure the angle of the camera included my mat, it was a sweet rectangle of familiarity.  Sitting in the early hours before sunrise, on a dusty yoga shala floor in Rishikesh, my mat was my haven.  Unrolling it each week before class, or stepping on to it in my living room, I am at home.  

Patricia is also the first person who mentioned to me in passing that she saw me on the path of Bhakti Yogi, the yoga of love and devotion.  That resonated for me because I have never gravitated to “power” yoga and intense physicality, unless it facilitated a deep meditative state afterwards.

I love to share my respect and gratitude for my teacher and friend, Alison Litchfield.  She is a true yogini with extensive knowledge in sanskrit, asana, and alignment.  If  you have ever taken a class with her, you know that she is as knowledgable as she is humble.  If she had an ounce of ego, she would be a celebrity yoga teacher – gorgeous inside and out – but she quietly teaches and practices without a lot of fanfare.  I highly recommend her classes and her teacher trainings. 

Alison & me

Recently I called her after I accepted a job teaching prenatal yoga twice a week at a studio here in California. Alison got back to me right away and left me with a beautiful message.  She gave me invaluable advice, just like a teacher would.  She led with her characteristic humility.  “I still get nervous before I teach” she said.  She shared that it helps to do her own practice before she teaches – get grounded, breathe.  And show up.  Be nervous.  Be human.

Next month I will step in to teaching prenatal yoga twice a week at Indigo Yoga, a studio in Walnut Creek.  I am excited and nervous!  It means so much to me to be able to support pregnant women during this very special time in their lives.  I don’t want to make any mistakes!  I take it so seriously.  I hear my teachers’ words in my heart and I will remember to do my practice before class.  Breathe.  Roll out my familiar mat, find my seat and feel at hOMe.  Pray to be of service. Love and devotion.  Bhakti. 

Full Circle Hula (Mortified / Redeemed)

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We had just moved to an exclusive community on the north shore of Chicago.  My step-father, mom and I.  I hadn’t made any friends yet and I tagged along with my mom on many of her social outings as she got to know others in the community.  There was the church outing to the Art Institute – we took a giant air conditioned bus and ate lunch at a restaurant.  There was an archeological dig weekend at Koster, down in the southern most tip of IL.  And there was the Hula dance group I participated in…

Each week, 6 or 7 white, middle-aged women from my mom’s church would meet in a woman’s basement (Dorothy) and try our best to imitate the beautiful Hawaiian dancers we saw on the posters hanging on the walls. I would figure 8 my non-existent hips and imitate our leader who smiled coquettishly in the mirror – our pretend audience.   Offering up our plastic flower leis as invitation, swaying our grass skirts to imitate the trade winds.  

The class culminated in a performance for senior citizens at the local community center.  With acute adolescent self-consciousness I did my best to stay in the back (which was hard because there were only 8 of us!)

Much to my chagrin, a photo of the event was published in the weekly town newspaper – a bunch of women and me in our costumes. 

Fast Forward 43 Years 

Teaching my 5 year olds last week.  We are sitting in circle and talking about Hawaii.  Someone mentions hula dancing.  “You don’t know how to do that!” one kid says in a snarky voice.  “Oh yes I do!” I shoot back.  “Wanna see?” I say as one part of myself looks down from the ceiling in dismay.  And just like that…I am googling Song of Old Hawaii and playing it on my speaker.  The strings start and it all comes back to me.  My arms reach up to mimic the heavens, my fingers make the stars.  My hips start to sway.  I dance.  I sing.  The audience is rapt.  Riveted.

Remembrance

Remember, Relate & Restore

WHEN: Tuesday evenings, June 8, 15, 22 & 29

TIME: 6:30-8pm PDT

WHERE: Online

COST: $150

You are invited to a 4-week group for people who have lost a loved one. This will be an intimate experience, limited to a group of 6 participants.

Grief is Universal. Everyone experiences grief – although it will look and feel different for each person. However, there are some characteristics of grief that many people share. You are not alone.

Each week you will be given practical information and tools to navigate grief, and have the opportunity for check-in and discussion with others. On week 3 you will have a chance to share with the group about your loved one, honoring their memory with pictures and stories.

This is a support group vs. group therapy.

Click HERE to register. Upon acceptance of registration, you will be contacted for payment.

Touch the Bones; a 6-week Exploration – SOLD OUT

The things that women reclaim are often their own voice, their own values, their imagination, their clairvoyance, their stories, their ancient memories. If we go for the deeper, and the darker, and the less known we will touch the bones.”  ~Clarissa Pinkola Estés

This February, Julia Myers Patterson & I are facilitating an online 6-week women’s group that will provide a supportive environment to remember, reclaim and celebrate our inner gifts and witness them in each other, to excavate landscapes that may previously have been avoided, to shine light on the beauty that is inherent within each of us. In short, to touch our bones.

2020 was an invitation to look deeply within; exposing every aspect of our lives, beliefs & relationships.  2021 invites you to look within…with others!

Touch the Bones;  a 6-week exploration

When:  Tuesday evenings, February 2 – March 9

Time:  7-9 pm PTD

Cost: $222  if registered before 1/15, $250 after 1/15

Each week you will dive deeply into the carefully crafted curriculum both solo and with a paired partner.  Every exercise has been thoughtfully planned to aid in your self-exploration.

Included in the course, there is an additional weekly, half-hour 1-1 coaching call to assist you in your journey.

Are you ready to step in?  We have limited space for 8 special women who are a “Yes!” to this offering.  Click HERE to register.

Free Webinar: Mindful Parenting – Starting with You

Monday, June 22

8-9pm PDT

Parenting in the best of times can be hard – parenting during a pandemic is intense!

“Putting your oxygen mask on first” is not a cliche, it’s a necessity to create a healthier you which directly results in a healthier child and family.

Join Krista Kotz, PhD, MPH and Roxanna Smith, MA for a free, one-hour webinar where we will share findings from brain science about how you can strengthen the mindful circuits in your brain to allow you to be more of the parent you want to be.

We will also discuss simple concrete ways to reduce your stress levels and create a healthier, more relaxed environment at home.

More than just a meditation class, you’ll get tools to apply “in the moment” when stress levels are high and resources are low.

Zoom Link for Monday, June 22: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89358444714?pwd=KzFaL29xUXpKTTlWZTFXV3I2TnprQT09

After this webinar, we will be offering a 4-week online series that willdelve more deeply into the unique environmental challenges you face collectively as parents in Lamorinda, as well as your own individual childhood experiences that shape who you are as an adult and impact your parenting.

We’ll spend time helping you learn to identify and mitigate your triggers. Every class will feature techniques to apply at home, and opportunities to share with the group.

Both Krista and Roxanna live and work in this community. Krista raised and educated herchildren in Orinda. Roxanna raised and educated her children in Boulder, CO, a community with similar opportunities and challenges.

Chill Pill

10 Songs for the nervous system during COVID-19 quarantine in the United States

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True Confession – I always wanted to be a Spiritual DJ.  Well…I am a Spiritual DJ, I just don’t spin anywhere.  But I love making playlists for friends and picking out the music at parties and events, creating an experience through sound.

Today I put 10 songs together that are peaceful and calming in a groovy kind of way.  Music to move sweetly around the house to.  From room to room, enjoying the inner space.

With love,

1-Breathe Deep (featuring East Forest),    Ritual Mystical – MC Yogi

2-Alone in Kyoto,    Talkie Walkie – Air

3-Gentle Awakening (Instrumental Meditation with Bamboo Flute, Kalimba & Nature Sounds,   Call Within – Manose

4-Manipura,   Chakra Flow: for Yoga & Meditation, Suzanna Sterling & Christopher Krotky

5-Les Fleurs,   Come to My Garden – Minnie Ripperton

6-Saroja Part 1,  Yatri –  Prem Joshua

7-Zionsville,  The Universe Smiles Upon You – Khruangbin

8-Free,  Gonna Take a Miracle:  The Best of Deniece Williams – Deniece Williams

9-Summer Madness,  Light of Worlds – Kool & The Gang

10-Aphrodite, Portal of Perceptions – Ishq

What’s Working (when everything seems broken)

Greetings from my apartment.  Tomorrow will begin week 5 of sheltering in place.  By myself.  I would never, ever have thought I could be alone for 4 weeks without going insane.  What I “counted on” in life has either completely ended or radically changed.  Between the news of the world, concerns for my family and community, and getting laid off, I’m processing A LOT!  Falling back on my grief counseling experience, I am able to remind myself that it’s normal to feel exhausted and overwhelmed.

Here in no particular order are a list of things that seem to be “working” for me – as in they bring me comfort, help keep me sane, elicit gratitude and even joy.  Some of them are contradictory, and some things that work today may not work tomorrow.  I’m sharing these with you with the hope that they may help, or you might laugh and see yourself in these.  And also, I’ve been home, alone for 4 weeks, and I’m tired of talking to myself.

What’s Working:

  • Getting outside every day, taking a walk
  • Not hating myself if I don’t get outside every day and take a walk
  • Smelling spring flowers (jasmine, hyacinth, daffodils = aroma therapy)
  • Finally hanging up the hummingbird feeder gift I got for Christmas
  • Watching the hummingbirds drink from the feeder, live TV
  • Looking for things to be grateful for right as I wake up, reciting them
  • Going for long bike rides
  • Praying for all the people suffering in the world
  • Ton Glen breathing/meditation technique
  • Getting into bed early (like 8pm)
  • Zoom calls
  • Limiting my Zoom calls
  • FaceTime with my mom, staying in “close contact” with her
  • Texting with my kids
  • Checking in daily with a few friends
  • Not beating myself up about my messy desk or laundry pile
  • Laughing at COVID19 memes
  • Hula hooping to dance music
  • Yoga at home and with my Santa Cruz gang on Zoom
  • Thank God for Zoom!
  • Facebook!  Seriously, so beautiful to be able to connect to humans virtually
  • Instagram (see above)
  • Reaching out to old friends (great college roommate zoom hangout the other day!)
  • Dancing in the living room, shaking it
  • Lighting Shabbat candles every Friday night
  • Crying
  • Virtual Seder (so sweet – next year Jerusalem!)
  • Bollywood films on Amazon Prime and Netflix
  • Amazon Prime and Netflix in general
  • Watching short, light, shows due to zero attention span
  • Not judging my TV choices
  • Getting up in the morning and making my bed, so I don’t get back in it at 9am
  • Establishing “order” by keeping the house clean, doing the dishes
  • Cooking delicious and thoughtful meals for myself
  • Freezing the leftovers
  • Being kind when I am not able to maintain the “order” of the house
  • Eating my greens!
  • Taking Bach flower remedy “Star of Bethlehem” for grief and shock
  • Reading stories on Zoom to preschoolers, seeing their faces every day, laughing
  • Checking in on my neighbors (2 lovely women on either side of me, both in their 80’s)
  • Finding out that PG&E reduced my energy bill to $8 this month

What’s Not Working:

  • No attention span for all the offerings (free or paid) on FB and Zoom
  • Really hard for me to meditate right now
  • Can only read a few pages at a time of books (see short attention span)
  • Long Zoom calls (short attention span again, overload)
  • Pep talks on how this is a perfect time to become awesome
  • Missing physical contact with people and animals (missing having a dog!)
  • Missing human contact in general
  • Wishing I could swim (all pools are closed)
  • Grieving all the fun things I had planned that have been canceled.  (I had A LOT of things I was looking forward to)
  • Keeping fruits and veggies fresh (eating them before they go bad)
  • Wondering where/when I will ever be able to buy T.P. again, WTH America?
  • Not sleeping very well at night (lots of thoughts between 2 – 4am)
  • Looking at the FB Group “View From My Window” and comparing my view to everyone else’s

 

Join me in India

I leave for India in less than a month.  I know how transformational India was for me the first time I went and that is what fueled my passion to bring people to this amazing and complex country.  We have 2 spots left for our trip next month to India.  We know you’re out there – you just haven’t been able to find us!

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This is an amazing trip to experience with a dear friend, family member or partner. The memories you will make and share are lifelong.  In general, traveling provides opportunities to dive deep and experience situations that will fill you with amazement, awe and joy.  Traveling in India is an other-worldly experience that you will never be able to recreate anywhere else.  The deep spiritual landscape, the myriad colors/sounds/smells, the daily sights – from the sublime to the surreal.  The prayer bells.  The mantra over loud speaker, floating out over the Ganges at sunset.  Nothing has prepared you for this.

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Traveling to India is a journey of the heart, mind and soul.  Transformation is guaranteed.  That can be exhilarating and inspirational and it can also feel scary as hell.

My goal, along with my co-facilitator, is to help make it as gentle, intentional and magical as possible.  We are not in the business of frying anyone’s nervous system!  Most of the comments we get on our feedback forms is that people’s lives are forever changed and that people had an amazing, heart-opening trip.  We specialize in handling the minutiae so that you can relax and focus on your experience.  Because we have traveled extensively in India, we offer many special events and outings that you would never find in a guide book.  Are you ready for an adventure?  Contact me for more information.  Traveling to India is easier than ever before.  You can get a Visa in less than 24 hours now on the internet.  Flights are still available.  We are saving your spot!

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Roxanna & Julia are truly incredible women and leaders.  I enjoyed India but more importantly, I felt the love, support and freedom to be completely vulnerable and to learn what I was here to learn about myself.  I am going home a changed woman and I see the world through new eyes.  Thank you.  Deb O.

I had a life-changing experience with wonderful people who support the journey!  Nai S.

Traveling to India is a powerful experience.  Roxanna & Julia show up, hold space and love fiercely.  They have created a trip to experience ALL that Mother India has to offer.”  Logan M.

 

 

 

Intentional Travel

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It was a thrill to be interviewed on Melanie Scott’s podcast: “Intentional Conversations” about the transformational potency of traveling in India. Click HERE to hear the full conversation.   In our 48 minutes together, we share our love of India and travel as well as reminisce about our two trips to India together and some of our favorite experiences in this magical country.

In India, one can experience the gamut: giddy laughter, loving kindness from strangers, heart connection, unexpected friendships, communion with cows, encounters with monkeys, blaring horns, sublime sunsets.

And for those of you who can’t listen to the whole interview, the take away is that India has a way of showing us who we are, deep inside, and bringing us home to our selves.  It is a heart-opening experience to travel to India.  I hope you will join me this November for Enlightened Tours’ Journey to India, 2019.

Enlightened Tours has curated an experience that delivers daily opportunities to connect deeply to your Self and others; giving you plenty of time to nurture and restore with yoga, meditation and Ayurveda. Group activities as well as time on the Ganges, swimming in waterfalls, hiking in the foothills of the Himalayas. Satsang with living saints. Stillness.

Join me!