Exploded view of my now

Living forces honesty. Answers are seasonal, losing their sense precisely as they become scripture. You will die: this is the first meaning. The world around you seems to bear helpless witness to your wandering. Other people suffer in the same way, and yet this seems to increase loneliness. But you can welcome despair like gravity, for at some point the sheer pressure, tectonic in the soma, compels a violent break in pattern: running through the woods, making love with an utter loss of self. The reality of your condition offers a stark gift you accept through sudden discharges of rage and rage’s joyful shadow: this is the only life you know, and it fills you to overflowing. You live your life, yoga happens to you.

You thought you were alone. You tried to be independent. Then, standing in the market with your hand on an orange, children underfoot, traffic humming, conversations blendingwith the radio by the cash register, shoes you did not make on your feet and clothes you did not sew on your back, sun slanting through rips in the tin awning, you’re almost late for meeting someone, always almost too late. You know this orange will give you life, and that you did not grow it. Someone else gave it to you, it will become your flesh. Its colour adds immeasurably to your language and dreams while its name rhymes with nothing, and you did not conceive of it. The old grocer’s hands have become gnarled through a lifetime of handling boxes of oranges for you to eat. Someone else gives you your flesh. They could not give what they do not have. Someone else holds their flesh forth until it becomes your flesh.

A child triggers an internal laugh. A dog slaps her thick tail against your shin. Every single object that gives you life surrounds you. If you really were alone you would not exist. You did not make the air you breathe. You can’t say where the inside of your flesh begins. You are naturally reaching out as something reaches into you. No one and everyone taught you this. You surrender to the always-already-there, and yoga happens around you, through you.

– Matthew Remski, Threads of Yoga

Beautiful example of philosophical object orientation and mindful awareness, Ian Bogost style, maps, meanwhiles, lists and ontographs, Timothy Morton style thoughts of gravity, weird reality, shredded wheat magical simplicity.

Yoga invites us to the stillness of an exploded view of our present moment. Notice yourself, your body supported by the ground, your arms reaching to the sky, your breath, feelings, thoughts, sensations. All material, all fleeting. In stillness watch yourself move in thought and breath. Yoga offers such quiet power ❤️

Wishing you a weekend of mindful nows,


Yoga for Grief 2 (Off the Mat)

This was week 2 of Yoga for Grief at the IU-Arnett Hospice in Lafayette, IN. Thank you to new and returning yoga friends.

Yoga for grief can accompany each of Dr. William Worden’s four tasks of mourning: acceptance, processing, adjusting and finding a place for loss in new life. I am particularly interested in the role of yoga to help us make room for our loss as we continue to build a new life around and beyond. The loss doesn’t diminish or shrink. In order to endure a loss, we have to actively build around it. It requires constant mindful vigilance. Grief work is tiresome and exhausting. Rebuilding a life can feel overwhelming and daunting.

While mourning does not automatically imply depression, there are certainly days when one can find it difficult to get going, to move, to live this newly reconstructed life with focus and effort.

First, meet your mood. How do you feel? Notice your breath, energy, sensations, emotions, thoughts, the collection of experiences that make up your “now”. Are you feeling energetic, lethargic or at ease?

Grieving people are rarely allowed or encouraged to simply be, to feel what they feeling. Yoga, however, asks us again and again to simply be with what is, with compassion toward ourselves and others, being exactly where and how we are in the present moment. It encourages, allows and supports us in being exactly how and where we are, while at the same time giving us tools, support and space in which to adapt, adjust and accommodate who and where we are now that grief has visited a new and unwanted reality upon our lives.

Helbert, Karla. Yoga for Grief and Loss: Poses, Meditation, Devotion, Self-Reflection, Selfless Acts, Ritual (p. 21). Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Kindle Edition.

If you are feeling low on energy and finding it difficult to keep moving, maybe you are anxious at night, sluggish during the day, try these techniques to the extent that they work for your body and heart.

The path of grief is not a straight line; it is meandering and full of switchbacks. One moment you are sitting peacefully on your meditation cushion, then suddenly you are transported through time and space back to the worst day of your life. This is normal, but not at all comfortable. Such moments as these, when you feel the most stuck, are the moments where practice is most important.

Stang, Heather. Mindfulness and Grief: With guided meditations to calm the mind and restore the spirit (p. 94). Ryland Peters & Small. Kindle Edition.

Through gentle yoga practices, we can coax our body into a sense of action and energy. Add big movements with arms overhead. Add expansive breath that fills up the lungs. Add meditation that “moves.”

Today we practiced 7 techniques:

Technique 1: Overhead arm stretches

Technique 2: Ujjiya breath/ocean breath (both calming and energizing from Yoga Skills for Therapists)

Technique 3: Pulling Prana (from Yoga Skills for Therapists) Arms outstretched arms move back on an exhale. 6 times.

Technique 4: Breath of Joy (from Yoga Skills for Therapists) Arms move up and out through a three-step inhale and exhale through the mouth by bringing the arms down as you bend your knees. 6-9 times.

Technique 5: Walking meditation (from Yoga Mindfulness Therapy) for homework. 15 minutes.

Technique 6: Backward and forward meditation (from Yoga Mindfulness Therapy) Imagine a time or place that brought you joy in the past. Can you imagine a time and place beyond the grief you feel now in the future?

Technique 7: Sense-awareness essential oils: Bergamot, Peppermint, Jasmine as examples of energizing, mood enhancing oils.


Listen, children: Your father is dead.

From his old coats

I’ll make you little jackets;

I’ll make you little trousers

From his old pants.

There’ll be in his pockets

Things he used to put there,

Keys and pennies

Covered with tobacco;

Dan shall have the pennies

To save in his bank;

Anne shall have the keys

To make a pretty noise with.

Life must go on,

And the dead be forgotten;

Life must go on, Though good men die;

Anne, eat your breakfast;

Dan, take your medicine;

Life must go on;

I forget just why.

Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892 – 1950


Contact me with any questions 🙂

Join me for Gentle Yoga at Morton Community Center, Wednesdays 10 -11:15am and Monthly Meditation at Community Yoga, donation based and usually on the second Sunday of the month, 7:30 -8:30 pm (check for details and to register online).

If you are interested in individual or group grief counseling, let’s talk. As a certified Grief Recovery Specialist, I hope to nurture self-care and hope.


Yoga for Grief (off the mat)

To those who participated in our first session of yoga for grief (serving Lafayette IU Health Hospice Groups), THANK YOU.  We explored basic breath, body and mind awareness as a way to notice and return to ourselves especially after loss.

We started with a few easy standing stretches, seated breath awareness, guided meditation and guided relaxation. Before we summarize the 6 techniques we practice, here is a quick introduction to the group.

What is Yoga?

In helping us, observe ourselves, yoga, among many other benefits, promotes healing through self-awareness.

“1    Now, the teachings of yoga.

2    Yoga is to still the patterning of consciousness.

3    Then pure awareness can abide in its very nature.

4    Otherwise awareness takes itself to be the patterns of consciousness.”

HARTRANFT, CHIP. The Yoga-Sutra of Patanjali: A New Translation with Commentary (Shambhala Classics) (Kindle Locations 247-250). Shambhala. Kindle Edition.

Why Yoga and Grief?

  1. Back to the body as a way back to living.

“Mindfulness lets you expand your view by placing you in the middle ground between denying your pain and overindulging in your suffering. From that vantage point you can observe the whole experience with a sense of openness to whatever arises. You stay in contact with the entire scope of your existence, and you experience grief without becoming grief itself.”

Stang, Heather. Mindfulness and Grief: With guided meditations to calm the mind and restore the spirit (p. 18). Ryland Peters & Small. Kindle Edition.

  1. Learning to hold contradictory feelings of sadness and joy, anxiety and ease. 

“Yoga teaches us how to hold seemingly opposing thoughts, ideas and experiences together at the same time. We can be in grief and live a wholehearted, connected life at the same time.”

Yoga for Grief and Loss: Poses, Meditation, Devotion, Self-Reflection, Selfless Acts, Ritual (p. 19). Jessica Kingsley Publishers. Kindle Edition.

  1. Leaning towards self-aware hope and away from hopelessness.

“The principles of yoga complement the ultimate goals of therapy: self-awareness, self-acceptance, self-efficacy, self-regulation, and whatever individual goals you and your clients may hold for their optimum well-being.”

Weintraub, Amy. Yoga Skills for Therapists: Effective Practices for Mood Management (Norton Professional Books (Hardcover)) (p. 9). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.

Today we practiced 6 techniques:

Technique 1: Body alignment in mountain pose. Stand here and now.

Technique 2: Breath awareness: Quality of Breath: Temperature, Rhythm, Texture, Depth

Technique 3: Counted Three Part Breath Practice (inhale 4- exhale 6-pause 2)

Technique 4: Six-sense awareness (eyes, nose, ears, touch, taste, mind)

Technique 5: RAIN Mindful Meditation (Recognize, allow, inquire, natural)

For more information look to the work of Tara Brach, https://www.mindful.org/tara-brach-rain-mindfulness-practice/

Technique 6: Healing essential oils: Lavender (ease), orange (energy-creativity), ylang-ylang (joy) combination

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.

Join me for Gentle Yoga at Morton Community Center, Wednesdays 10 -11:15am and Monthly Meditation at Community Yoga, donation based and usually on the second Sunday of the month, 7:30 -8:30 pm (check for details and to register online).

If you are interested in individual or group grief counseling, let’s talk. As a certified Grief Recovery Specialist, I hope to nurture self-care and hope.



Goose grief and love instincts


The first response to the disapperance of the partner consists in the anxious attempt to find him again. The goose moves about restlessly by day and night, flying great distances and visiting places where the partner might be found, uttering all the time the pentratrating trisyllable long-distance call…..the searching expeditions are extended farther and farther and quite often the searcher gets lost, or succumbs to an accident….All the objective observable characteristics of the goose’s behavior on loosing its mate are roughly identical with human grief.

William Worden in Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy quotes the work of ethnologist Konrad Lorenz above. It describes the biological crisis associated with loss beyond rational and emotional articulation.

Yoga and meditation may address such non-verbal and primal instinct through breath and body awareness.  It may help ease that biological need to keep searching outside ourselves for our loved ones.

I’ll keep reading.

Wishing you grounded calmness unlike the restless, anxious and lost goose,


*I didn’t have an image of geese…….but we can imagine the restless flight.

“Undigested Feelings” – Advice Not Given by Mark Epstein



“Emotional content needs a welcoming attitude; otherwise it will remain undigested, waiting to jump out at inopportune times.”

As a hungry philosopher, you can see why the above quote would resonate with me. I’ve thought about digesting yummy tastes, good-for-you food and empowering nutrition. I hadn’t thought about a range “undigested emotions” from PTSD to small irritating hooks into our attention. Makes me wonder how I “digest” emotions? What do I absorb, what do I let go and what do I hold on to? Emotional nourishment or constipation. This is just one example of thought-provoking advice from Mark Epstein’s “Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself.”

One way he recommends to process and digest emotions follows the “Good enough parent model.” In this model, the key is to observe negative emotions (like an angry child) with presence and without retaliation. He explains,

“…would ask me to elaborate on what being a “good enough” parent actually meant. “It means being able to survive one’s child’s rage,” I would answer. “And what does it mean to survive the rage?” they would ask. “Not to be invasive and not to be rejecting,” I would say. “To be able to hold their anger and be open to their experience without abandoning them but without retaliating either.”

Next time, I feel full of anger, self-judgment, envy, anxiety, I’ll try to first of all notice and name the emotion. Tasting and identifying the emotion or often conflicting emotions is difficult enough. The next step that requires a mindful response but no reaction is very, very difficult. We can only practice “the willingness to separate the raw material of emotion from the story we have built up around it,” right? Most of us, don’t even recognize our own “operating system” or inner-narratives.

In therapy, when we show up, we look for feelings, bring them out, and make them the subject of inquiry. We talk emotions over, examine them, wonder about them, and explore around their edges. This willingness to separate the raw material of emotion from the story we have built up around it is a critical aspect of Right Speech. It allows us to speak more gently to ourselves in the face of our most intense suffering, not just in the midst of meditation or in a therapist’s office but in real life, in the middle of the night when we lie awake wondering what is wrong with us.”

It helps to hear the idea of letting go and noticing through as many ways possible. It helps to hear that we just need to show up in our own lives and narratives.

May we all digest our emotions as well as our dinner,


Epstein, Mark. Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself (p. 73). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.




Lurking Dangers of Online Images

Dear Readers,

A confession. No. A lamentation.

Recently my beloved Community Yoga, (West Lafayette, Indiana) was sued for copyright infringement based on a re-posted Hungryphil blog post.

I am mortified and confused. In all my work, I aim to always attribute images and honor the work of writers, artists, and designers. I quickly learned that “free downloads” and filtered public domain images are not so, attribution and plagiarism are not same, and the copyright/fair use issues are very gray.  The image I had used was a comic cartoon of a yogi doing a handstand, sideways (funny and creative work, thank you artist whom I don’t know and have inadvertently offended). Ironically the post was about the dangers of ego-focus. It had the website and the image id number ON the image. I wrongly assumed the on-image attribution would operate as an advertisement. A very unintentional misunderstanding of “free downloads” and fair use. Confessedly, I’m ignorant of the shades of copyright gray not malicious. What makes my mistake worth $660 for a third party who simply re-posted?

The system, or rather the single letter received over mail is based on guilt, shaming and punishing rather than creative protection and public education. How is the calculation made that one can be sued for an indeterminate amount between $660 and $150K for an $11 image? How much of the $660 would the artist get? Once I have a clear view of the rules regarding online image use on personal blogs, I’ll be sure to post it. So far I haven’t found an easy list to follow and would be grateful for recommendations.

It doesn’t help that the law firm suing Community Yoga has an unsavory online reputation for copyright infringement related “extortion.

This makes me hesitant to use ANY online imagery. So, from now on I’ll be posting random potentially unrelated images of things, myself and my family.

Community Yoga did not make a penny from the image I posted. Yes, I should pay for my unintentional mistake, like I would a traffic ticket. In this case, the passenger is getting the ticket and the fine is random.

Part of me wants to sulk quietly in fear of being sued myself. If I’m quiet maybe they won’t hit me with a lawsuit too. But, I believe it is important to share and warn of the dangers. In a moment of unaware image use, I opened myself and those who would support me up to legalized blackmail by online ambulence chasers.

Let this be a gentle warning to you, my dear blog reading and writing friends. Protect yourselves and your friends. I’ll try my best to do better.










Wobblyogi Wednesday: Raisins and Meditation

Eating meditatively takes us beyond focused sensations of the tongue. Eating becomes an expansive experience of smells, textures, coordinated movements mediated by the body and received by the mind. What would it be like to “taste” everything for the first time?  Here is an excerpt from Full Catastrophe Living that explains the practice of mindful eating:

The first introduction to the meditation practice in MBSR always comes as a surprise to our patients. More often than not, people come with the idea that meditation means doing something unusual, something mystical and out of the ordinary, or, at the very least, something relaxing. To relieve them of these expectations right off the bat, we give everybody three raisins and we eat them one at a time, paying attention to what we are actually doing and experiencing from moment to moment. You might wish to try it yourself after you see how we go about it.

First we bring our attention to seeing one of the raisins, observing it carefully as if we had never seen one before. We feel its texture between our fingers and notice its colors and surfaces. We are also aware of any thoughts we might be having about raisins or food in general. We note any thoughts and feelings of liking or disliking raisins if they come up while we are looking at it. We then smell it for a while, and finally, with awareness, we bring it to our lips, being aware of the arm moving the hand to position it correctly, and of salivating as the mind and body anticipate eating. The process continues as we take it into our mouth and chew it slowly, experiencing the actual taste of one raisin. And when we feel ready to swallow, we watch the impulse to swallow as it comes up, so that even that is experienced consciously. We even imagine, or “sense,” that now our bodies are one raisin heavier. Then we do it again with another raisin, this time without any verbal guidance, in other words, in silence. And then with the third. The response to this exercise is invariably positive, even among the people who don’t like raisins. People report that it is satisfying to eat this way for a change, that they actually experienced what a raisin tasted like for the first time that they could remember, and that even one raisin could be satisfying. Often someone makes the connection that if we ate like that all the time, we would eat less and have more pleasant and satisfying experiences of food. Some people usually comment that they caught themselves automatically moving to eat the other raisins before finishing the one that was in their mouth, and recognized in that moment that this is the way they normally eat.

Kabat-Zinn, Jon. Full Catastrophe Living (Revised Edition): Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness (pp. 15-16). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.




Yoga Rising is a collection of yoga stories about authentic practice beyond superficial projections of perfect yoga poses and bodies in media. The stories are compiled by Sociologist and Women’s Studies Professor, Melanie Klein and return us to shared struggles toward authenticity and self-study (svadyaya).

I was particularly drawn to Indian-American yoga teacher Lakshmi Nair’s story, “Whose Yoga is it Anyway?: An Indian-American’s Adventures in YogaLand.”

I can easily relate to her concerns about romanticizing and reducing Indian culture and the origins of yoga….

While romanticization of our culture might seem preferable to outright bigotry and ignorance, I feel a lump in my throat chakra when I hear white folks singing the praises of Rama, a Hindu God who is said to be an avatar of Vishnu, one of the trinity of Hindu patriarchal deities and is the hero of the epic Ramayana. Do I bring up that Desi (South Asian) feminists revile Rama for his treatment of his wife Sita (though She Herself is an avatar of the Goddess Lakshmi) and risk getting flooded with those pitying looks that I get when I wear a bindi (the mark worn traditionally by Hindu women on the third eye chakra point) … hip on white women, but a marker of patriarchal oppression on me? Do I bring up the Dravidian nationalist theory that the Ramayana is a narrative of Aryan colonization of the Dravidian South in which the Dravidians are rendered as monkeys and demons?

Like her, I hope yoga in the U.S. and everywhere can be inclusive and open to a diversity of experience. For more about her Satya Yoga Collective: Yoga for people of color, look up: https://www.satyayogacollective.com

Like her, I believe in yoga as a form of social action:

We cannot strive to liberate ourselves alone. To truly free ourselves from suffering, we must work tirelessly to end the suffering of every being on the planet, because we are all One. That is our dharma. Yoga IS social justice.

Klein, Melanie C.. Yoga Rising: 30 Empowering Stories from Yoga Renegades for Every Body (p. 161). Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD. Kindle Edition.

Happy reading!


Right now, What is important to you?

My very wise for her years niece, Farah recommended I read this book by Paul Kalanithi, When Breath Becomes Air, an account of his last days as a neurosurgeon, cancer patient, husband, son, father, writer and more.  The urgent search for meaning is palpable in his words and reminds us that an awareness of death makes us also aware of life. And, more importantly, what makes life worth living for each of us. Right now, what is important to you? Getting your garage clean, cooking dinner for your family, finishing a book, knitting a sweater, holding your loved ones hands, hugging your kids, paying the bills? An awareness of inevitable and unpredictable death limits abstraction and makes our search for meaning concrete, real and EMBODIED. How can I make meaning with the body, the life, the heart beat, the energy I have today?

Here is how Paul explains the struggle of meaning constrained by time:

The tricky part of illness is that, as you go through it, your values are constantly changing. You try to figure out what matters to you, and then you keep figuring it out. It felt like someone had taken away my credit card and I was having to learn how to budget. You may decide you want to spend your time working as a neurosurgeon, but two months later, you may feel differently. Two months after that, you may want to learn to play the saxophone or devote yourself to the church. Death may be a one-time event, but living with terminal illness is a process.

Kalanithi, Paul. When Breath Becomes Air (pp. 160-161). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

The terminally ill in body, intensely aware in mind show us the depth of human courage and reminds us what it means to be “fully alive.” Buddhist practices of death mediation or the yoga pose savasana (corpse pose) aim to invoke this mindful struggle for embodied, personal meaning that the terminally ill acutely suffer.

From the epilogue written by his wife, Lucy:

Relying on his own strength and the support of his family and community, Paul faced each stage of his illness with grace—not with bravado or a misguided faith that he would “overcome” or “beat” cancer but with an authenticity that allowed him to grieve the loss of the future he had planned and forge a new one. He cried on the day he was diagnosed. He cried while looking at a drawing we kept on the bathroom mirror that said, “I want to spend all the rest of my days here with you.” He cried on his last day in the operating room. He let himself be open and vulnerable, let himself be comforted. Even while terminally ill, Paul was fully alive; despite physical collapse, he remained vigorous, open, full of hope not for an unlikely cure but for days that were full of purpose and meaning.

Kalanithi, Paul. When Breath Becomes Air (pp. 219-220). Random House Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Thank you for the recommendation, Farah.

Wishing you days full of purpose and meaning,


Non-Judgemental Judgement?

The practices of yoga and social work both encourage maintaining an attitude of non-judgemental judgment. This requirement feels like Kant’s demand for an “disinterested interest” in the judgments of beauty. Suffering, care, and beauty all depend on our ability to notice what is happening without forcing theoretical preconceptions. Practicing this attitude of noticing without prejudice (i.e. pre-judgment) about how a pose or human well-being or a painting ought to look, is difficult. One suggestion, according to Prof. Ogden Rogers, is to go with the defense, to run with a running a man instead of trying to stop him. To stay “with” before trying to change..in yoga terms…stay with your breath, notice what is happening for you, stay with the discomfort…………stay with…stay with….stay with…….

Going With the Defense

Whatever a client brings to you, accept it as a gift. There are thoughts, feelings, and behavior, seen and unseen, and whatever emerges is something to be tracked, followed, and used to help the relationship. Never stop a running man. Run with him and wave others off who might stop him. Slowly slow your pace, travel to a place where the running no longer serves a purpose, and perhaps sitting and talking will emerge. Some wise workers call this “exhausting the resistance” or “going with the defense.”6 I like to think of it as simply unwrapping a gift and using it.


Rogers, Ogden W.. Beginnings, Middles, & Ends: Sideways Stories on the Art & Soul of Social Work (p. 40). White Hat Communications. Kindle Edition.

In the Middle of a Middle

We need nonjudgmental judges. We need those who can enter respectfully into the middle of our private muddles and echo the outside of our public rule. We need those who can understand the craziness that keeps us sane, and yet interpret the taboos that glue us together. We need advocates of the infinite diversities individuality provokes…and speak it to the Leviathan, and make it understand.

Rogers, Ogden W.. Beginnings, Middles, & Ends: Sideways Stories on the Art & Soul of Social Work (p. 83). White Hat Communications. Kindle Edition.