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.

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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.

____________________

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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

listen to the sea

We keep on diving into the heart of the matter.

As we move through this season, what has Autumn offered you?

 Here in this place, we still have much green and the dandelions continue to thrive. And yet, the leaves fall and there is a presence of decay, of clearing, of interiority. All is moving into the roots.

In this season, I am reminded of a few gifts from my past.

A few years ago, I was very sick. My body was in full revolt. It craved a revolution. It didn’t recognize itself. It was out of my control. I felt betrayed. I just wanted to be well. I didn’t know how. And yeah, healing is not the same as cure.

I heard this…

Listen here:
Go deep into the roots.
Get curious.
Make your way into the spaces you can explore, into what you might be able to transform.

Consider this:
What wants to die?
What is ready to simply be let go of?
What within is asking to have a sweet death so that you can breathe again?

Please make no mistake: I am not talking about suicide or physical death here.

This inquiry does take me to some scary, shadowy, and crowded places within. And I find old truths. Other people’s beliefs. Space. Practice. Tight gripping. Expectations. A broken heart. Basic goodness. Achy wounds. Rusty fences of distrust. Apathy. Love.

The usual.

A resilient, resourceful, tender, self.
Cover allll that with a blanket of kindness. Immense kindness. Loving kindness.
yeah.

Move through this:
What is workable here?  What can be given gratitude and a grave? What is becoming compost?

My yoga practice is one of my places to listen deep, to notice what is arising, and to explore how to move through. So, in this season, I use these gifts:

What wants to die?
I notice a ‘going-through-the-motions’ kind of attitude.

And how does this affect my practice?
I am stiff, distracted, spacey, distrustful, tired, unbalanced.

What is workable here?
I become still. I listen. I take a wide view. I slow my practice down. I set the intention of deep devotion.
I recognize my broken heart with kindness.

I do a wall-based Yin practice with a focus on breath to regulate my nervous system. In my active practice, I alternate between steady, strong, basic postures to remind myself of my strength and flowing dancey moves to invoke my curiosity and fluidity. I take longer savasanas and naps. I write about it.

I pay attention. I take it easy.
These messages are asking me to to attend to myself, as this manner is mirrored off of the mat and into parts of my life. I take action.

I know that the roots are deep, things are clearing, and patience is my friend.

Take good care friends,
Jessica

This reading is from Mark Nepo, Book of Awakening, October 26 passage.

heart of the path

gratitude day 16“It takes six million grains of pollen to seed one peony, and salmon need a lifetime of swimming to find their way home, so we mustn’t be alarmed or discouraged when it takes us years to find love or years to understand our calling in life. Everything in nature is given some form of resilience by which it can rehearse finding its way, so that, when it does, it is practiced and ready to seize the moment. This includes us. … Each person we love and each dream we try to give life to brings us closer to the mystery of being alive. So, we must try as many times as necessary until our many loves become the one love, until our many dreams become the one dream, until heart and path feel the same.” Mark Nepo, Book of Awakening, October 16.

craftwork by heart as home yoga and art

heart of the matter

This is the time to dive deep into the heart of the matter.

As we move through this seasonal change, what does this Autumn offer?
Nature begins to prepare for winter by sweeping away what is unnecessary – the leaves turn and fall, the gardens move to winter mode, the rains wash away the dust of summer – and what of us?

What does this season ask of me?
What messages does it hold?
What practices do I need to integrate into my daily rhythm of life to support and nourish me throughout this season?

I hear a few things so far…

An invitation to be vulnerable, flawed, authentic, and be okay with it. Really okay with it. Really.
An invitation to let it (whatever it is for me right now) drop into the earth to become compost for the next growing season
(I think I know what it is and I will write about it soon).
Listen deeply and hear the space within: don’t move to quickly fill the space and silence.
Slow down.

From those in my life, these are the gems that resonate…

 We are stressed out, tired, achy, surviving the daily grind, holding ourselves together, overwhelmed, grieving without a sacred space to truly grieve…

We are bursting with creative, soulful energy, making deep and sustainable commitments to self, others, and the earth, simplifying to be transformed, offering warmth, space, and comfort to where it is needed.

I need to rest. I need to step just one step further into this fire. I need to trust.
We are building what we need.
We are holding it all, at the same time.

Take good care,
Jessica