Inner Turbulence

On a recent airplane flight I was seated next to an impeccably dressed woman. She wore high-heeled shoes, elegant jewelry, expertly applied make-up and was well coifed. After I sat down, I said, “Hello, How are you?” I know many people don’t like to talk with their seatmates but I think it’s important to acknowledge the existence of a human being with whom I will be sitting in close proximity for a few hours. She glanced at me quickly, barely nodded and then turned back to her iPhone. I immediately felt a frosty tension and remained quiet the rest of the flight. I was feeling rather disheveled that day. I was wearing a bright pink sweater, had unkempt…

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A Well-Intentioned Intrusion

I was recently walking on the Mahana Ridge Trail, a beautiful windy path in Northwest Maui. About a quarter-mile down the trail I saw a family with a young child who was being carried backpack style by the mom. As I'm interested in how people carry their children, I looked a little closer and noticed that the child's legs were splayed in an extreme external rotation, and the backpack pushed his legs against his mom’s back so that they were immobilized. He looked like a flattened frog. It was clear to me that this was not a good position for a child—or anyone—to be in for anything other than a very short period of time. I don't want…

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Not All Walking Is The Same

Walking near a body of water on a warm day exhilarates me. I especially enjoy walking barefoot on grass or sand. I love breathing in the fresh air and feeling my ribs expand and contract.  I treasure the opportunity to gaze off into the horizon and challenge my eyes to look even further. A few weeks ago, I went for a walk at Baby Beach in Northern Maui. On my way home I saw a sign at a gym advertising a yoga class. After being under the beautiful clear sky and imbibing the fresh open air I was feeling a great sense of vitality. I was excited about the possibility of trying a new class. I took one…

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Stilettogait

During the Hurricane Harvey catastrophe Melania Trump ignited a media firestorm for wearing stiletto heels on her way to Air Force One. Yes, she changed to sneakers when she arrived in Texas but many questioned such a pronounced focus on fashion on a day when she was to visit with people who had lost everything to the floods. When I saw video of the First Lady walking from the White House to the helicopter that would whisk her to Andrews Air Force Base, I immediately lost interest in these theoretical — be they political or feminist — critiques. Instead, I was fascinated by her gait. Our feet, usually hidden in shoes, are an underappreciated part of our bodies.…

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Being Home

A few days ago, I celebrated Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year on the island of Maui. As I listened to the familiar words that were being chanted in synagogues around the world, my heart pined for the presence of my loved ones who are one or many oceans away. The Rabbi's 16 year-old son participated in the leadership of the service. This in itself was nothing unusual. It’s expected for a rabbi’s son to be well versed in Jewish liturgy. What was unusual is that the Rabbi's son, having been born in Hawaii and also having indigenous Hawaiian roots on his mother’s side of the family, is as proficient in Hebrew as he is in Hawaiian pidgin.…

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What are you going to be when you grow up?

Do you remember being asked the question, “What are you going to be when you grow up?” I have noticed that many people are enamored by watching babies - little people who are far away from being ‘grown up.’ For babies, everything is new; sights, sounds, smells, touch. Babies continuously explore the things around them while experimenting with how their bodies can move. When we watch babies we get to partake in their curiosity and joy of continuous discovery in the present moment. And then, a baby reaches an age when she is considered to be a child. Adults in her life begin to think about her long-term future. Invariably she is asked, "What do you want to…

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One Large Ball of Twine. One Tiny Bite.

I was recently in the town of Darwin, Minnesota, which is world famous for having the largest ball of twine. The twine museum was closed that day and I discovered that I was not the only one disappointed by the lack of access to the twine. I heard a steady meowing sound, followed my ears and soon found a tiny black-and-white kitten. The kitten was clearly hungry and didn't seem to a home, so I decided to take it upon myself to rescue it. I was in a hurry to pick up a friend from the airport so I did what I should not have done; I reached down and tried to pick up the cat. While the…

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Healing

Today is the 23rd of the month and it’s also the end of Yom Kippur, a Jewish observance of contemplation and reflection. Last night I stood in front of over 1000 people and guided them in silent meditation. Today, I had the honor of leading a healing gathering. On both occasions I invited everyone to cultivate a connection with our bodies as a way to enter into a contemplative healing space. In my understanding, healing does not meaning “fixing." It's about coming to know ourselves as whole, even in the midst of brokenness. While we may yearn or pray for particular outcomes and movement in our lives, healing can also be about opening to the resources within us…

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Habits and a Bench by the Lake

I recently walked past a park bench that I remember sitting on about 25 years ago. The wood is a little worn but the bench is still sturdy and the neighboring tree has grown into a lush protective canopy that exudes stable magnificent splendor. I didn't feel like sitting on the bench. Instead I chose to let my mind wander as I walked around the lake – a habit that is also one of my all-time favorite things to do. As I walked around the big circle of water I began to contemplate how our habits shape our lives. I also pondered how common it is to view our accomplishments (or lack thereof) as a measure of our value…

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Why Flexibility?

I've been thinking a lot about flexibility lately and thought I’d share some of my preliminary musings. I've been randomly asking people the question, "Why are we so often awed by flexibility? Why do so many asana practitioners want to be more and more flexible?" Often, the first response is a moment of silence or an upturned eyebrow. Sometimes - especially when it's early in the morning - that silence is followed by more silence. Other responses include: It looks cool. I think would feel good to be able to do it. It's a beautiful aspect of the human form. It connotes a sense of freedom. I want to be flexible so my body is not in the…

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