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The end of the year for me usually comes with several days away from my day-to-day work life. Sometimes I am lucky enough to go somewhere for a retreat where I can spend a good deal of time in nature. This year I have been dealing with a bit of cabin fever. I'm learning to accept whatever arises with equanimity. This is not always easy, especially when I envisioned spending hours on the ski trail, and it turns out that the weather is uncooperative with the lack of snow and abundance of frostbite-inducing cold. Whatever the end-of-year brings, I look forward to this liminal time, a time I heard recently described as "limbo week"-- between Christmas and New Years. Indeed, it feels like something is ending and we are awaiting a new beginning, almost like that feeling of being between an exhale and an inhale. It's a bit uncomfortable, because it is unfamiliar compared to the striving of the rest of the year, but also well-deserved-- this time of rest and renewal and replenishment. It's not always easy to "do nothing" and yet sometimes it seems that is when the real, deep work happens. It feels important to review what was and what may be.

During this time of nothing-doing, I've been learning more about how to use Tarot as a tool for self-discovery. One of my favorite decks, the Wild Unknown, has been in heavy rotation, as well as a couple books to help me get to know the potential messages buried in each card, particularly Modern Tarot by Michelle Tea and Essence of the Tarot by Megan Skinner. I also want to thank my dear friend, Theresa Hutch, for creating and sharing with the world, White Sage Tarot, her own beautiful deck celebrating the feminine energy that is so needed in this time of energetic world-shift.

In that spirit of doing nothing, and yet working deeply, I sat down to experiment with my new tablet and a new recording app, and my small collection of singing bowls. I was inspired by the Sound and Silence retreat that I attended a couple weeks ago at the Christine Center. It was an otherworldly immersive-sound experience that opened my consciousness to new realizations-- the sort of thing that words truly cannot express. I can only say that when I was bathed in the harmonics of the singing bowls, I felt a sense of satisfying a craving that I didn't even know I had. Immediately afterward, I resolved to work more with the singing bowls in my own sacred space. So I began to record some guided meditations. I started by doing a pranayama practice, mainly because it is something I want to work more deeply with in my own life. One turned into four, and the collection is still growing. I continue to add the tracks on the Meditations section of this website as I create them.

The weather-enforced cabin fever has turned into the impetus for birthing something into the world that I didn't even know I was incubating. Silence and respite have a way of bringing out the unexpected in us. I do hope you enjoy the recordings, and I would appreciate if you let me know what you think of the collection so far, and whether there is anything else you would like me to include. Everything is available for download-- on a pay-what-you-want basis.

Looking ahead to 2018, which naturally comes with the territory of closing out the old year, brings much anticipation for creating community and joyful gatherings. The 2018 Uplift Yoga Retreat is scheduled for Nov. 16-18 at the Christine Center. I am also very excited to announce that I will be offering a summer solstice retreat with Angela Coffee, tentatively scheduled for June 20-24 (also at the Christine Center)-- that's right, 5 days of creative community! We are calling this gathering World-Making with Our Bodies, Hearts and Radical Imaginations. Consider this your clarion call to start to create your own BIG DREAM with the support and collaboration of a like-minded community of change-makers. More to come on this delightful endeavor as the year unfolds.

May your end of year bring you a sense of satisfaction and a renewed spirit for creating the sort of world you envision in your highest imaginings.



p.s. The photo above is a picture I took during my trip to Iceland in April 2017. A highlight of my year to be sure, and a reminder that beauty is found in even the most remote and stark landscapes.

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For those who love to read about yoga, meditation and other related topics, here is my current list of reads. If you have read these recently, let me know what you think:

Because of my grassroots activity to bring mindfulness and meditation into our workplace at 3M, I am always looking for books about the science of mindfulness. Altered Traits: Science Reveals How Meditation Changes Your Mind, Brain and Body is co-written by Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson, of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. At one point we tried to get Dr. Davidson to speak at our workplace, but unfortunately we missed our chance as he his now too busy (and popular) to do many speaking engagements. He is doing great work in studying the validity of claims for the effects of meditation on the brain. While I believe that firsthand experience is the best proof of any practice, I do realize that some people require scientific rigor in order to boost their beliefs.

On a similar note, I can never resist stories of Near Death Experiences by scientists and people with medical backgrounds who were previously skeptics of such things. My most recent find:

Living in a Mindful Universe: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Heart of Consciousness - Eben Alexander

During the retreat I mentioned I was interested in learning more about "memory palaces" or ways of training the mind to remember things. At the time I was reading The Memory Code by Lynne Kelly, in which she proposes that neolithic sites like Stonehenge were actually physical memory aids for pre-literate societies to recall important information. Having heard of another book about memory palaces a few years ago, I decided to finally check out Moonwalking With Einstein by Joshua Foer. It's a biographical account of a guy who has an average memory to begin with, and through the use of specific techniques, ends up becoming a memory champion. This is all very interesting to me because one of the stories I have always believed about myself is that I have a terrible memory. Just like all stories, it is only partially true. Memory is just like any other skill or muscle. We need to first bring awareness to it, and then use it regularly in order for it to operate optimally. I started by creating a memory palace from my grandma's house, and placing something I wanted to commit to memory (the major arcana of the tarot deck) in different rooms of that house. Lo and behold, I had all 22 cards situated and permanently memorized within minutes! This could be life-changing for me.

Updated: Dec 9, 2017

I owe a debt of gratitude to all of my teachers-- ones I've had the pleasure of learning from in person as well as those I only know from books or videos. Here is a list of some of the teachers I mentioned in this year's retreat, as well as some whose teaching has informed my style of yoga. If you ever get a chance to learn from these inspired teachers, do take the opportunity.

Matthew Sanford (Mind Body Solutions)

Indu Arora (Yog Sadhna)

Chase Bossart (Yoga Well Institute)

Dolphi Wertenbaker

Tara Cindy Sherman (Yoga Center Mpls)

Rod Stryker (Para Yoga)

Kevin Kortan (Evolutionary Yoga)

Sally Kempton

Some books I keep going back to for reference in creating classes and workshops:

Mudra The Sacred Secret - Indu Arora

The Yoga of Sound - Russill Paul

Yoga for Transformation - Gary Kraftsow

Mantra: Sacred Words of Power - Thomas Ashley-Ferrand (or anything by him, especially audio books if you want to learn mantra pronunciation)

Meditation for the Love of It - Sally Kempton

Awakening Shakti - Sally Kempton

The Heart of Yoga - T.K.V. Desikachar

Wheels of Life - Anodea Judith

The Complete Guide to Yin Yoga - Bernie Clark

Yin Yoga: Principles and Practice - Paul Grilley

Insight Yoga - Sarah Powers

Light on Pranayama - B.K.S. Iyengar

Relax and Renew - Judith Hanson Lasater

Some music I've used for yoga:

Anugama - Shamanic Dream and Peaceful Relaxation Ocean

Alex Theory - Full Spectrum Sound Healing

Baird Hersey - Waking the Cobra and The Eternal Embrace

Deva Premal

Gabrielle Roth & The Mirrors

Jane Winther

Glen Velez - Breathing Rhythms, Rhythms of the Chakras

Lou Reed - Hudson River Wind Meditation

Mercan Dede - Breath and Dunya Vol. 1 & 2

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