you are not alone, friend

we are nearby

with a steady anchor rock of care

with fragrant boughs of devotion

with bright feathers of protection

with a soft nest for rest and refuge

on our island, together

so connected

in care,
jessica

* I began blogging on artsandcraftscollective a few years ago… i am moving some of that content over to this site… i hope you enjoy it <3. 

IMG_1519
basic goodness / jkl / 2018

heart breath

how is your heart? how is your breath? *
 
you — you are loved. you belong. we are in this together. thank you.
 
as we move into a new year, here is my hope: may i realize intentions that align me with my highest good, commit to myself with fiery devotion and trust, take slow and mindful actions required to manifest my visions, and nourish myself, others and the earth.
 
may i honour my place in this community of care and actively acknowledge the cycles of reciprocity, oppression, and responsibility that allow me to be here, now.  and listen. and take steps within reconciliation.

may i share my vulnerabilities, power, and courage, uplift and be uplifted, and give and receive encouragement and forgiveness, grit and gumption, love and belonging… again and again. and also to celebrate. delight in and with. be heart deep in sorrow. and reach out.

may i falter and fail and fear, stumble, swim and yin down and yeah… dance… dance a whole lot. may i be held accountable and held with love.

 
what is your hope? who will support you? what needs to be cleared away? what is the next step in the right direction? **

* important questions offered by poet nayyirah waheed.
** Bo Forbes: Stuck in a Rut

IMG_2756

Ease Your Worried Mind

We need both a sincere resolve and effective practices in order to awaken our heart and mind. On this sacred path of Radical Acceptance, rather than striving for perfection, we discover how to love ourselves into wholeness
Tara Brach (2003). Radical Acceptance


Anxiety is a whole-body experience; it is natural to desire and try to move towards a sense of relief. We develop coping skills and strategies for dealing with the often overwhelming cascade of sensations, emotions, energy, and behaviours associated with anxiety, however, we may also find that we are at a loss of how to help ourselves in the midst of such an experience. I know that some of my own skills and strategies are life-affirming and support my long-term resilience and wellness while others are in need of a tune-up or a toss-out. Where are you at, right now?

“Yoga encourages us to follow the path that most appeals to our hearts”
David Frawley, Yoga & Ayurveda.

Within a context of holistic health and uplifting choices, it has been shown that yoga & mindfulness practices that focus on self-regulation and self-compassion can
…
*Support deep relaxation and sense of well-being
*Build mental & emotional strength through internal focus
*Guide us to set intentions and stay committed to personal intentions
*Reduce reactive mind
*Increase attention to present moment
*Better regulate responses to emotions
*Support us to engage in compassionate self-study & self-awareness
*Improve cognitive abilities: helps us to access forgotten or new strategies and/or change the direction of a response by reinterpreting the meaning of the emotional event, experience, or situation.
*Help us de-centre from distressing thoughts and emotions and take proactive steps towards wellness
*Lower use of maladaptive coping strategies (e.g. blame, avoid, substances, self-harm)
*Help to shift mood more quickly (e.g. feel bad in morning, better in afternoon)
*Befriend our bodies & ourselves.

What sparks your curiosity, increases your capacity to self-regulate, and deepens you into a kinder, gentler relationship with yourself and others?

Here are a few practices that you might wish to explore; these practices focus primarily on accessing the body & breath as a resource for managing anxiety.  When we experience anxiety, our bodies may feel very uncomfortable, we may think something is very wrong and, in the midst of anxiety, it can be challenging to make sense of the messages that the body is giving us. These practices are intended to help us get grounded, relieve stress, and support our capacity to mindfully befriend our experience with self-compassion.

A gentle yoga practice, like this one from Yoga International, that focuses on stable breathwork, deliberate movements, and guided relaxation can be helpful to calm the mind, settle the body, and clear anxious energy.

The Body Scan, like this one from Elisha Goldstein, can help us to attune to the subtle sensations in the body in a non-anxious time. Through this practice, we can increase our ability to notice unique and subtle sensations of anxiety and take skillful action before it  becomes more and more overwhelming.

There are many types of helpful breath practices offered through the teachings of yoga and mindfulness. This is a very basic breathing practice called ‘Calm Breath’ from Anxiety BC.

Our anxiety may be due to factors that may be beyond our control and/or that require a community response in order to deal, such as environmental degradation, social issues, political unrest. A dedicated yoga, mindfulness, and self-compassion practice can support us so that we can engage in skillful reflection and grounded action off the mat, into the world. What I offer here is intended to uplift and support you – if you find any of the practices increase your anxiety, please stop and take a nourishing action. It is not one-size fits all.

 

More pathways to be explored… more posts to be offered.. more resources to be shared.

In care,
jessica



Looking for further support?
Check out Anxiety BC  or Bounceback Program from Canadian Mental Health Association. If you have a resource you would like to see listed here, contact me and let me know.

Footnote: Over the spring of 2017, I developed a four week program entitled Ease Your Worried Mind: Yoga, Mindfulness and Self-Compassion as resources for managing anxiety. I have offered the course twice in the community, each time refining and responding to client feedback in order to help the course be more effective and nourishing. I offer some of the content here, for you. Let me know your thoughts?

Please note: I draw from evidence-based studies, education & experience in mental health & addictions, yogic texts, practices, and philosophy, client feedback, and other sources; I do not make any medical claims nor is this a comprehensive survey of all that is available to us. I do invite you to get the professional support you need, try out practices that seem safe and grounding to you, find a local yoga teacher to help you in your practice, and stay curious and compassionate.

Sources: Keng & Tong (2016); Prakash, Hussain, & Schirda (2015); Menezes et al. (2015), Forbes (2011), Drummond (2016), Marcia (2014).

IMG_3504this path is paved with gold / jkl / 2017

Take heart from the changing season

Many of the wisdom traditions invite us to take heart from the changing season and slow down, rest deeply, and savour nourishing foods, relationships, and experiences.

We are also invited to reflect with intention…
What is important to me?
What needs to be cleared?
What is one step in the right direction?

When I give myself over to the experience of savoring, wisdom emerges. Savoring calls for a kind of surrender. We have all kinds of stories in our minds about why we perhaps shouldn’t give ourselves over to enjoyment, whether out of guilt or shame or a sense of fear out of what might happen. Yet we are called to yield to the goodness of life, to bask in it.

Savoring calls me to slowness: I can’t savor quickly.

Savoring calls me to spaciousness: I can’t savor everything at once.

Savoring calls me to mindfulness: I can’t savor without being fully present.

It also calls for a fierce and wise discernment about how I spend my time and energy. Now that I know deep in my bones the limits of my life breaths, how do I choose to spend those dazzling hours?

When I savor I pay attention to all the moments of that experience without trying to change it.

And finally, there is a tremendous sweetness to this open-hearted way of being in the world.
Everything becomes grace because I recognize it could all be different, it could all be gone.
Rather than grasp at how I think this moment should be, I savor the way things are.
Christine Valters Painter / Abbey of the Arts

 

At this time, I hope time and space conspire for you to be nourished, receive the generosity of others, and savour the light within.

May our practice be of benefit to ourselves, each other, and the earth.

Take good care,
Jessica IMG_2976.JPG

Yin for Well-Being & Self-Care

I am looking forward to spending time with you this Autumn sharing and exploring simple practices intended to nourish well-being, cultivate self-compassion, and nurture our capacity to rest deeply.

Yin for Well-Being & Self-Care
This five week series is a gentle and steady practice of simple yoga forms, breath practices, and guided relaxation to support overall wellness and self-care. As we gather together, we will explore yin, a slow style of yoga that invites us to let kindness lead the way, tend to ourselves with generous attention, and connect to natural inner ease, joy and freedom.

Yin is a nourishing type of yoga, that can also be somewhat challenging, as we are invited to explore sensation with curiosity and cultivate stillness. In this floor-based practice, yoga props such as bolsters, blankets and blocks help us to release, lengthen and extend into ease and spaciousness. Variations are encouraged to adapt the practice to meet our own conditions. Suitable for most students.

Self-care is about taking care of ourselves… in sometimes the most simple and basic ways. Part of self-care is giving ourselves a high five and sincere praise when we show up for ourselves… and also giving ourselves tenderness and love when we have a hard time doing so.

15317964_1037991066313244_3702521944672441392_n
Source: Revolutionary Self-Care

Details
Thursdays 5:30-6:45PM / September 14 – October 12 at Nourish
Cost: $69 plus tax
Early Bird Price : $63 plus tax (Before September 7th!)

Go easy, friends. We are all in this together.

See you on the mat,
Jessica

Find other offerings here

Nourish by Nature

This weekend, I will be joining some of the Nourish crew and Emma from Plant-Based RHN for a day long retreat at Woodwardia, home of the Salish Coast Land and Marine Conservation Society & a vegan sanctuary, on Texada Island. This promises to be a day of deep nourishment as we gather together to soak in nature through yoga & meditative walking, plant-based meals, free time, and sound healing with Cindy from Crystal Music, Art & Books. It would be lovely to see you there — you can find more details and, if it resonates, please register here.

I am honoured to offer a 45 minute Yin / Restorative Yoga session in the afternoon. As we soften into supported heart-centred shapes, I will be reading poetry and offering guided meditation that encourages us to rest in self-compassion and deep restoration.

Self-compassion is really a necessary part of wholeness and resilience. When we invoke our natural capacity to engage in self-compassion, we remember that kindness can lead the way, that a balanced view of ourselves is more useful and relevant than harshness or critical judgment, that we are not alone in all of this, and that our basic nature of joy and wisdom is always available to us – especially in the midst of overwhelm, agitation, or despair. It is not always an easy road, however, self-compassion is a balm to our uneasy hearts and helps us tend to ourselves with what we need: tenderness, truth, skillful action, and so much more.

When we cultivate our capacity to rest fully, we offer to ourselves a great gift: to relieve ourselves of unnecessary tension and connect to natural inner ease and freedom. It has been shown that approaching rest from a place of self-compassion, rich & resonant belly breaths, and a devoted intention truly soothes the nervous system thus relieving rigidity, over-activity, and dullness in the mind, body & spirit. We become nourished and attuned to our deepest nature  – joy, wisdom and presence.

I have found that it is like a spiral… learning, falling and learning again. And yet, my foundational practices continue to ground me, help me to stay curious, to approach with mindfulness, and to remember my intentions more quickly when things get a little / a lot messy and unwieldy. I have also found these practices naturally flow outward and I have become more more curious about how to extend compassion, rest and relaxation off the mat and into my relationships with ourselves, friends & strangers, and the earth. And it is my intention with my teaching that we gather together so that we may recover and replenish ourselves and move into the world more deeply connected to what is truly important, with gratitude.

One of the ways I replenish my heart is through poetry. And so, I would like to leave you with ‘The Peace of Wild Things’ read by the poet Wendell Barry. I hope it offers you a sweetness on this day and invites you to take time to take time in your daily practice to be nourished by nature, rest in self-compassion, and be restored.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
And I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

~ Wendell Berry
Source: On Being


Post Direct Resources

Self-Compassion: Kirstin Neff 
The Relaxation Response

 

Simple, real, and kind.

I was asked, in my capacity at local yoga teacher / Nourish Manager  to write a piece about Yoga for Wellness for the Powell River Peak‘s Live Well magazine and I  wanted to share some of it here.

Keep it simple, keep it real and keep it kind

With its roots primarily in ancient India, yoga is a holistic system of health and wellness, a method for self-inquiry and self-care, and is rooted in the practices of kindness and mindfulness.

Whatever your current quality of life, stress levels or lifestyle, yoga can support your individual journey of wellness and complement your existing health regime and relationships with health/medical practitioners.

You do not need to be flexible. You do not need to be in good health. You can be from any spiritual tradition, or from none at all.

Yoga is for everybody. Bring your curious attitude and a willingness to simply begin.

Pick up a copy around Powell River or read more here.

untitled-5137_jpg copyPhoto Credit: Jennifer Dodd / Nourish Yoga & Wellness Studio

Yoga at Home (re-post)

As you may know, I offer a weekly yoga session and am an occasional guest blogger at the Sunshine Coast Health Centre.

The world of recovery and the creation of a meaningful life is one that is close to my heart. As a trauma-sensitive yoga teacher, spending time in yoga with people in recovery is an honour and a gift. As a person in recovery from trauma and devoted to living a holistically sober life, the work offers me continuous opportunities to check myself, reaffirm my commitments, and to practice self-compassion and self-care.

Here is re-post from the SCHC blog… maybe it will offer you a little something too!

Yoga at Home

addiction treatment yoga

So, you tried out the yoga program at SCHC and you want to build it into your meaningful life plan at home. How do you go about doing this?

Here are a few offerings from me to you (let me know what you think and what has helped you bring your yoga home and into your daily life).

Remember that yoga is not just the physical asana (posture) practice. Yoga is a holistic system of health & wellness, a practice of self-inquiry and self-care, and is rooted in kindness and mindfulness.

Keep it Simple, Keep it Kind, and Keep it Real.

One day, your yoga practice may be to take 5 deep breaths before you speak to someone about a challenging or triggering topic. On another day, it may be noticing how stressed out you feel and taking 10 minutes in your day to listen to a guided meditation. Today, it might be simply taking a moment to rest in Child’s Pose or another yoga shape to remind yourself of your BIG 5 and your personal intentions.

At SCHC, our yoga practice includes Gentle Hatha, Yin, and Restorative Yoga. We focus on gentle movements, move into a healthier and respectful relationship with our bodies, and tap into our natural resources of breath, relaxation, and meditation.

What is the Entry Point That is Most Meaningful for you, right now?

If it excites you, dig into the philosophy and how this can support you in your daily life. If it fulfills you, find a meditation teacher and sit with them. If it nourishes you, seek out a yoga class (in-person or online) that offers you what you need.

In the yogic spirit of self-inquiry and self-care, ask yourself, “What do I need? What is my intention? What would serve my highest good right now?” Choose a skillful action that supports your meaningful life.

If it is a yoga class, there may be many types of classes and a wide variety of places to practice in your hometown. No matter what your options, I invite you to approach the quest with that spirit of joyful curiosity. You may want to look for a Studio or a setting where the teacher(s) offer a trauma-informed/trauma-sensitive perspective. There may be classes that are specifically offered for those in recovery for addictions. And yoga teachers often offer sessions to help us deal with anxiety, depression, chronic health conditions, back pain and more.

Find What you Need. Explore Your Options. Get to Know Yourself With Kindness and Care.

Commit to your yoga practice. And notice if you start to use that commitment as a way to feel guilty or unmotivated or bad about yourself.

If you do, come back to your centre. Feel the ground underneath you. Come back to your breath.

Remember that you don’t need to do everything at once. Keep it simple, keep it kind, and keep it real. You got this.

In my next blog post, I will offer a few tips on how to stay committed to your practice in times of stress, disinterest, or busyness + a few more resources including my favourite yoga teachers who offer their teachings online.  Check back next month.

Take good care,
Jessica

A few Resources to Explore

Yoga for Healthy Aging
Posts, pictures, and videos that highlight how accessible and beneficial yoga can be for all ages and all conditions.

Yoga Poses?
Check out Yoga Journal and remember that these folks spend hours being photographed – don’t try to look exactly like them. Yoga is an individual practice, simply use the pictures as a guide.

Yoga International
Classes, articles, practices, and courses from a range of highly skilled and experienced teachers.

a bit of the beginning

1 J Leavens - this is what grief looks likethis is what grief looks like: acrylic, charcoal, golddust.
artist: heartashome , 2009.

this re-post visits a time when, earlier in my practice and before my yoga teacher training, i was quite ill and wildly discontent. in that time, my practice offered me what i did not have – a ground, a moment of respite from my fears and worries, and moments of breath and relief from pain. it was also confusing and difficult. and work. it was/is a lot of work to be with myself.

now, after a few more years of intentional, committed and consistent practice, i am called to share these words again.

as a reminder. as a celebration. as witness.
_________________________

move the body, spark the soul

there is a part of me that is stuck. stuck and sad and tired. this ill health is, yes i know, an opportunity. but but but  i am struggling. some days i just want to get off the busy mind train and into the wide open space of heart. and some days i just want to sit in it.  and i do.

the tracks of my mind are rough and tumbled and i see the same scenery …. i dip into the stories of loss and done-me-wrong … the trees whisper ‘forgiveness’ and ‘light’ … teachers say ‘let go’ …whatever that means … and little bolts of joy come every so often …

i know it is true that to stay disempowered and sad doesn’t serve anything or anyone and yet, the tracks seem to be getting more and more worn and harder and harder to jump off … fear, anxiety, self-hatred — such strong words but present here, now in the spiral of disease and discomfort.  so, where to go from here? today? right now?  what to do with all this fear bouncing around in my mind?

how bout some yoga?  move a little.  breathe in. breathe out.  stretch to the sky. and fold to the earth. letting the flow move through me and keeping my mind on the movement is sometimes the most grounding thing i can do.

When I move my body to the rhythm of yoga, to my breath, and to my teacher’s voice, i am sometimes able to just be right there. no where else. not on the train. not locked in my mind. not completely afraid. here, with intensity, with calm, with emotion, with feeling, with sensation.  i feel a little spark in my soul. i remember. and then i forget again. and then i remember. try to just come back with gentleness. sparking the soul. moving the body. jumping off the train.

____________________

IMG_1519
basic goodness: wool, copper, thread, chesnut, fabric map, message in a bottle, acorn squash mold.
artist: heartashome, 2013
_________________

oh what sweet relief it is to reflect on this piece of writing and recognize – i am now able to hold my own heart with a depth of kindness and care unavailable to me at that time. over time, my practice has cultivated a compassionate resilience within that i did not dream possible, ever. in truth, i have experienced a cellular transformation from a place of self-hatred to a deep knowing of my own basic goodness. woah.

yes, i still dip onto that track and sometimes take a ride on that train. it always takes time and practice and work and breath for me to find my way through. but the moments in between are long, sweet, and filled with gratitude. i have jumped off the train and into a wider sky-heart-field. and i am so grateful.

all of this is the ground from which my offerings flow.

this is recovery.

take good care,
jessica