What Moves Us

Find It In Your Heart by Leila Swenson

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In celebration of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d write a little about forgiveness, as it truly is a way to open our hearts, and tap into the love and compassion that abides here, for ourselves and others.

The idiom “find it in your heart”, according to the Cambridge online dictionary, means “to be willing and able to do something unpleasant or difficult”.

More often than not, I’ve heard this idiom finished with… “to forgive”.

Find it in your heart to forgive.

What is it about forgiveness that is so challenging? 

Why is it a job for the heart?

Forgiveness is challenging (if not near impossible), if you mistakenly (but understandably) think that it means you are saying that whatever was done wrong to you, was okay. And most of the time, that is simply not true. Some things are not okay, and never will be. 

Forgiveness can also be difficult because it can ask us to be really honest with ourselves and look at our own weaknesses and imperfections. True we may not have done exactly what was done to us that warrants our forgiveness, but have we not also hurt another in our life? Even if, by accident? Could there be someone out there, who is wanting to forgive us? Most likely, the answer is yes. If we are not able to forgive others, then there’s a good chance we are not also able to forgive ourselves.

So why is it a job for the heart?

It is in the heart’s nature to be open and expansive, and include all. The heart suffers when we are not able or willing to forgive. When unforgiving, we hold onto the pain in our hearts of what hurt us, even when the initial hurt may be long gone, and even, when the person or persons, may also be long gone. This part of our heart then, which naturally wants to open, is now closed, and is diminished in power and goodness. It has restricted freedom because blame, meanness, or even the desire for revenge or punishment are taking up residence there, and stifling its natural expression. This keeps us caught in the past and prisoner to whoever hurt us. It may also keep us closed off from the present moment and to the people that love us now.

To be honest, this was my motivation to forgive who had hurt me in my life. My unforgiveness (which I convinced myself for a long time was righteous), was actually keeping the wrongdoing and the wrongdoers, in my life. My forgiveness is what set me free from it, and them. My forgiveness allowed me to let go of unnecessary pain and suffering, and give and receive love, wholeheartedly.

Maybe we need to look at forgiveness in a different way. 

What if forgiveness is a way to our heart's freedom? 

You may ask, “How?” 

And I would answer, “Compassion”.

Often those that hurt others (whether consciously or not), are very often hurting themselves, or have been hurt, and their hearts are partially (or maybe all the way) closed. Can we have compassion then for them? Can we share in their suffering, which is what the word compassion means? Can we also have compassion for ourselves, if we have hurt another? Can we forgive ourselves?

If you find yourself hurt and unable to forgive, there's hope in moving through it. Once you become conscious to it, you can choose something different. You can choose to open your heart in the face of wrong-doing, have compassion for the wrong-doers, and set yourself free to love whole-heartedly… You can find it in your heart to forgive, or as Mark Twain so eloquently put it:

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.”

The Pot of Gold

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by Kim Lally

Remember when you were little and all the grownups asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I never knew how to answer that... First, would I know when I was a grown up? I guess I am now, and in casual adult conversation, people often ask, “So, what do you do?” The answer came easily when I had a defined job outside the home, “I trade bonds for Citibank” or “I am a first grade teacher” But, as a stay-at-home mom, I was perplexed by how to answer that. What do I do?

One day I heard myself respond, “Oh, I am just a mom.” WHAT? Did I just say that I was ‘just’ a mom? Isn’t that among the most noble and fulfilling roles ever? I was tasked with raising good humans, loving them unconditionally and feeling their hurts a million times worse than they felt them. Nothing ‘just’ about that.
 
So about those kids - well they started to grow up. And leave for college. One down. Then the second. Gulp... One more at home and the years are flying by. I was holding on for dear life. Big Gulp.

After a college dropoff, the hives set in. Suddenly I was covered with red itchy patches. Everywhere. I did all sorts of investigative work. I went gluten free. Dairy free. Nightshade free. I gave up wine and cookies and eggs and nuts and coffee. (Note - not chocolate. Let the record show I never give up chocolate).

I joined a nonprofit providing microgrants to women in Africa. I went back to school to take my prerequisites for med school. I volunteered in the hospital. I was desperately seeking a purpose. And relief from the hives.
 
Then I took a yoga teacher training. And I found something I had been overlooking for a long time. I didn't need a label, a title, any letters after my name. I discovered a passion.

My passion for wellness & health in all things - be it animals or children, bodies or minds - had been there all along. To realize it took some hives, then hospital volunteer work, add in some anatomy classes and then that yoga teacher training. And now, I own a beautiful yoga studio with world class teachers.  Each step on the brick road filled my nerdy brain with countless facts about bodies and minds, as well as fulfilled a desire to spread wellness to others.

Many of us yearn for a purpose. To feel fulfilled. To find that magic. But maybe the magic is actually in the journey. For me, as each experience began, other options unfolded. Being open to each new idea meant wandering down many paths. Some not so good. Discovering the passion is the journey. We look under each rock and around each corner. We may never grasp that elusive pot of gold for with each step closer, it is ever evolving. 
 
So now, many years later, I think I have found the answer to “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  The answer: “Living my passion.”
 
- Kim Lally and her husband Bob are the owners of Nest Yoga | Oakland. Bob manages the finances and is number one handyman. Kim does the rest. They have 3 grown children and two dogs. They make a good team.

CLASSES FOR EVERYBODY BY JOANN LYONS

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I’m guessing if you’re reading this, you love your yoga class! It’s something you count on and look forward to every week, knowing that you’ll not only learn something about your body or how to nail that perfect pose, but also that you’ll feel so much better after your class and spending time with other people of like mind. Finding strength, flexibility, relaxation in a pose, or even nailing that perfect pose is not the exclusive domain of able-bodied yogis, although sometimes it sure appears that way. Twenty, even ten years ago, it was the rare exception to find a class that was inclusive of the disability community; yoga studios, usually located upstairs, were not accessible. On April 1, 2001, Piedmont Yoga Studio opened its doors with an accessible studio on Piedmont Avenue and began offering classes for people with disabilities. My name is JoAnn Lyons and I was, and still am, the teacher of two classes each week that have lasted through ownership and name changes, as well as a new physical location of the studio.  In order to provide a positive experience for students, I’ve been providing teacher trainings so that our students receive expert help when needed. Piedmont Yoga Community (PYC), a non-profit organization, was formed to support these classes, and to supplement payment to teachers for this important work, so the classes can be offered to our students on a sliding scale. These yoga classes for People with Disabilities are meant to be inclusive.  No one is turned away because of race, color, creed, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, ability, disability or lack of ability to pay for the class.  And therein lies the rub . . .  PYC is asking for help from the local yoga community to support these classes.  If you can make a one-time donation or, better still, commit to a monthly contribution, it would help PYC support this work.  If you have other ways to help by donating your time and talent, please contact PYC. Here are some quotes from our students and assistants and their thoughts on how PYC has touched their lives.

“Thank you for your wonderful class and your generosity and devotion to a group of people with limited options and a need for all the help they can get . . .” Joel B.

“Thank you so much for doing this at an affordable rate . . .” ♥ Joan C.

“The class has helped me move closer to the life I desire – a life of being present, conscious and happy.”  Patricia E. “In short, the class has a very cool vibe!”  Melissa C.

“The community that inevitably develops in any class . . .  keeps bringing me back.”  Patrice W.

“Shared companionship and compassion before, during or after every class, making it very unique and gratifying.” Ramona A.

“I feel so safe at your Yoga classes.  The amount of personal, individual attention each participant receives is extraordinary in my experience.” Marty S.

THE GARDEN: LIFE, DEATH AND PERSPECTIVE BY JODY HAHN

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I love my garden. I love my garden so much. When I first planted it I watered diligently and watched closely to see how each plant was doing. I swear I went out to look at it about 10 times a day, maybe more. Many plants survived, some did not. That’s life and death in the garden, I guess. The ones that did survive now flourish; there is so much abundance it’s crazy, and to that abundance flock many other creatures. I see them around my garden vying for their bit of life: I watch, joyfully, as the birds, bees and butterflies travel around getting what they need to survive. And I watch, horrified, as the leaf-miners, aphids, and white flies suck the life out of the plants. Argh!! It’s a paradox. For something to live something else has to die. This is the cycle of life!! I call them MY vegetables but nature says different. It’s every-creature-for-themselves out there. We’re all part of this grand thing called nature and I have to say, I respect my competitors; they want to feast and so do I. Yes, there is competition but there is also enough for everyone. There’s actually more than enough! Nature’s true nature is abundance and we can give, take, share and thrive. Through competition nature keeps balance. What may seem like destruction is just part of the cycle that also creates. What seems like a nuisance in the microcosm is actually necessary in the macrocosm. That “bad” is actually “good”. Can I recognize this in all aspects of life? Can I see that I am part of this continuous whole? Can I be just as happy to give to the birds, bees, and butterflies as to the leaf-miners, aphids and white flies and understand that they’re all getting what they need and giving what is needed? Yes, I’ll try.

THE ENERGY OF PARADOX BY ROBERT MOORING

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Movement is inexorable, essential. There is no energy without movement. Form cannot differentiate without movement. Without movement we would be stuck in the formless void of the thermodynamic death of the Universe, pretty grim right? Thankfully there is energy and form available to be the contents of our consciousness.

This brings me to the topic at hand, what moves me? I find that I am a discrete and individual consciousness, ultimately free. The thing that moves me, is well, me. Then of course I also find that I am connected to every other particle in the universe, that I am contingent and constrained. The things that move me are also outside of me. This is the answer then, what moves me is paradox.

Paradox, the intractable knot that only laughs at you more the harder you try to untangle it. All I can reveal to you in this text, is that it is an essential component of a formed system with conscious entities. The dualities that abound physically and conceptually, like light and dark and separation and integration, they are the source of all potential. Potential energy and its transference back and forth between the extremes in the pulsating breath inured in every micro and macro structure in the cosmos, is the source of all movement.

There many places that I feel the potential to immerse myself in the paradox and thereby nourish myself with energy and movement, but none more so than being the mountains. I like to go to old places, where the effect dwells. I grew up as an academic more than athlete (can you tell?) and I also hurt myself a lot, including a broken spine. I was never a candidate to climb mountains. Sure enough of course, internal and external factors led me to the pursuit of technical rock climbing in the alpine. Other than my wife and child, nothing inspires, enlivens, or nourishes me more than time spent questing in the vertical world. Mistakes mean injury or death, and yet the very slow accumulation of physical capacity, mental capacity, and instinct, allowing one to conform to impossible geometries with the birds flying underneath.

Insight: what part does it play in the arc of your being? Ever get derailed by a penetrating observation? Sure, and up there it seems to happen more often. It’s like I think more fiercely, even though in the best moments I am not thinking at all. More dualities. Poles to pull us apart, poles to knit ourselves together. At least up there I’m forcibly reminded to contemplate these things as much with my feet as with my overstuffed brain. Stay nimble. Nimble is another way to stay humble. Get too puffed up and you won’t fit through that next keyhole of insight.

A walk in nature, a minute of quiet in meditation, a good yoga class can give you all of the same experience as dangling from fingertips in the mountains. Practicing those techniques to allow my mind to enter the same flow state that is forced upon me while climbing is a peak into the next stage of what I hope will move me, and move you too.