Monthly Archives: December 2011

When I was God

by Marcia Miller

After I wrote this blog entry I showed it to several people who I consider to be devout Christians. I was a little concerned that some people might take offense at my pretending to be God in the way described below. One person who I have deep respect for, said that people she knew might well take offense and the other, a Christian minister herself, said she loved it and hoped I would publish it. I am offering this only as a recollection of an experience that had profound meaning for me and not as a reflection of any religious tradition. I have no desire to offend anyone and hope that this is received in the lighthearted and tender way it is offered.

One of the many benefits of being in bed for 7 weeks with two injured ankles was the time I spent with my husband, Kevin. Because I wasn’t hopping up to do my yoga practices we had many precious leisurely mornings when we talked and shared at a very satisfying level. One of those mornings I had done a long meditation lying in bed and was infused with cheerfulness. Kevin jokingly said that God was happy with me for being so cheerful during my convalescence. The he began to pretend to be God and said some more things to me. It felt really good to have God’s approval and love and even though we both knew the conversation was “pretend” I could feel that parts of me accepted the conversation as real. It was wonderful! Then, seeing how much fun Kevin was having playing God, I took a turn.
I don’t know if you have ever pretended to be God (that you admitted!) but I have to say that the moment I began I felt big, really big inside. I could easily step out of the little identification of myself and have a much wider view. It felt wonderful and true somehow. Right away I knew that it was important for Kevin to feel the feminine side of God and invited him to think of “Me” in that way. I felt some sadness that in our culture we often think of God as an old man in heaven with a long, white beard, who in the Old Testament at least, frequently went around smiting people. We declared our bed to be a “No Smiting Zone.” We laughed and felt some sadness at the same time. Still in my role as a Divine Being I said some things about him that I really appreciated and gave him lots of encouragement to trust himself as I trusted him. I felt as if all the power of the Divine Feminine was pouring through me into him.
Then my vision got even bigger and I thought about the whole world and what I would want for all “my children.” I considered the many wars, the starvation, the degradation of the environment and how so many people could not see the beauty in each other. Even God can feel great sadness I guess. I also felt really glad for the all the beauty in this world of mine and how much tenderness I (still in my Divine Role) felt for all my dear children along with the oceans, animals, plants and mountains—all of this creation. And I told Kevin that in this moment there were only two things I wanted for the people of this world: more tenderness and more laughter! I thought about it again to see if it felt really true (because as God I did want to be accurate) and yes, more tenderness and more laughter seemed right. I couldn’t think of any problems that wouldn’t be helped with those two qualities. I spent some time feeling tenderness and felt the softness in my heart (God’s heart is Very Big). It felt good—there was a tinge of sadness and of hopeful sweetness all rolled in there, and the soft melty-ness of it seemed to go on forever. And then we laughed—great big belly laughs as we rolled around on the bed. As God it is easy to have lots of big feelings inside all at once.
At some point I decided to be Marcia again but that day has stayed with me. “God’s” yearning for Her children has become my desire as well and I have been cultivating more tenderness and laughter in myself and my life. My yoga practice is more fun for sure, and every situation I encounter is enhanced.

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The Retreat Experience

By Linda Oshins

I was asked to describe the retreat experience before the Yoga on High Annual Retreat, and the very thought made me laugh. There are many varieties of experience because you come as you are and see what you see. I go on retreat every year and I have a different experience every time.
Even so, let’s look at common expectations. Some people look forward to retreat with relish. They anticipate leaving behind daily conflicts and demands, being fed every meal, and catching up on much-needed sleep. They want to practice pranayama, meditation and asana morning, noon and night. They imagine retreat as being restful and joyous. Other people are anxious about not talking, find the thought of being separated from loved-ones daunting, and can’t imagine life without the Internet. They wonder if they’ll feel isolated and unloved. They don’t want to spend full days practicing yoga.
Retreat can be difficult. In the closing circle last year, one woman said, “I really heard the accusatory and demanding voices in my head. I had no idea how negative that self-talk was and how prevalent. Just hearing that voice is an important first step. But I also realized that, though I don’t live up to my idea of a perfect wife and mother, the list of my failings is not the whole story.” She had a rocky experience on retreat and often wept, but she was grateful for it.
On the other hand, retreat can be ecstatic. Time slows, senses heighten, the heart opens, you are receptive and resonant. Colors, shapes, peoples’ faces, dawning light in the meditation hall, a walk in the labyrinth—all sweet and undiluted, unobscured. You abide in witness consciousness or in a state of pure awareness, transcending your common definitions of yourself and life around you.
Of course, most people have a combination of experiences on retreat—some challenging days, some transcendent ones. Whatever the experience, welcome it just as it is. Make the commitment to experience retreat fully, talking only when necessary. If you distract yourself, you might not accept the invitation to notice something subtle of profound importance to you. If you break silence and call your husband or wife at night because he or she is your best friend, biggest supporter, and will make you feel better, you lose the chance to look at questions like, “How can I support myself?” or “What is the root of my suffering? Where is it in my body? What is it like?” Retreat is an opportunity to be supported by your teachers and your community so that you can engage in deep exploration.
So whether you come with expectations or haven’t the slightest idea what to expect, prepare to be surprised. You may have a blissful experience from start to finish or tears along the path, but whatever your journey, you will take home some gift from retreat that nourishes, enriches, and enlightens.
Set aside the electronic devices, ask your loved-ones permission to withdraw from Friday night through mid-day Wednesday, clear your work calendar and commit yourself to unqualified, pure presence. Namaste.

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Prenatal Partner Presence – Stocking Your Tool Bag

By Mary Sinclair

I recently taught another prenatal partner workshop at Yoga on High. We had four couples participating. Of the pregnant students, all are currently enrolled in classes at Yoga on High, and they all brought their significant others with them to the workshop. Over the years I have found that some partners are eager to come and learn, and some show up with trepidation. They are usually worried they will be asked to do some elaborate and humiliating yoga pose. As the couples arrived I warmly welcomed them. I was surprised that one of my students was accompanied by her husband because she had told me she was bringing her mother. I looked at her husband and said, “You’re not her mother.” He said “no” and it looked like it took something for him to be there at all. Another husband shared that he kind of wanted to know more, but wasn’t quite sure he really wanted to know more.
There was definitely some anxiety looming in the air, as there usually is. The reality that a baby is coming is getting closer for each of these couples. And as if that isn’t enough to overwhelm them, there is the whole matter of getting through the labor and birth experience before the prize of meeting their baby for the first time! I can easily empathize with these couples. For that reason I try to keep it light and fun while at the same time educating them about some of the practicalities of labor and delivery as I’ve come to understand it. How can first time parents know how they’ll deal with the very real stresses involved in a baby’s birth, even if everything goes well? They can prepare, gather information and resources, take classes and write a birth plan. However, the first lesson they learn from me isn’t about positioning or “magic bullet” techniques for pain. It’s about the value of one’s presence.
As the partner practices staying centered in him or herself, they don’t really have to know how to massage, guide breathing or anything else. While these things can be helpful, the laboring woman might not want them at all. When a partner can simply remain close by and connected to her as a steady anchor of support amidst a flurry of emotional and physical distress, they are showing the value of companionship not conversation, empathy not answers.
At the end of the recent workshop, I checked in again with the couples, especially the husband who was digging in his heels a bit about coming.
“Are you glad you came today?” I asked.
“You have no idea”, he replied.
Mission accomplished.
Each couple seemed more relaxed and even refreshed. They also seemed lighter for they now had a better stocked tool bag and were freed, if just a little, from the burden of not knowing how to be an effective partner during child birth.
The next prenatal partner workshop at Yoga on High is coming soon! No yoga experience is necessary, all you need is a willingness to show up with your partner, just as you are, share some time together, and gather information and resources to fill your tool bag for the upcoming birth of your baby!

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