Planting Seeds of Wonder

This photo was taken almost 1 year ago at my annual June Yoga Retreat at Cedar Ridge. Hope to see you there! June 9-12th, 2011. Early Registration is open... a great way to plant seeds of intention that will help you bloom into your fullness this spring.

I remember driving out to have a picnic last summer, on the twisty-turny, sun-kissed road to our property. My friend Heather was in the passenger seat.

She said something that day that stuck with me. She said, "sometimes you plant seeds that are annuals and they come up just once. Sometimes you plant seeds that are perennials and they come up again and again, year after year. But other times, you plant seeds that are bi-annual.. and even though the seeds are planted, and the gestation has begun, you don't get to see the flowers grow for a couple of years. In fact, you have no way of knowing whether they will ever break ground." This stuck with me. Just because I can't observe the fruits of my labor doesn't mean the seeds didn't take... it just means the latency period is longer than... in my case... the season of my patience.

Every seed matters. Every breath. Every thought. Every intentional act of kindness or otherwise. And when we see a little sign along the way reminding us that what we planted is coming to fruition, we best pay attention. This goes for both the beautiful gardens of delight that we plant, if that is the case... and for the weeds of poor lifestyle choices, negativity or complacency that sprout so vigorously that it seems their roots are bound to the belly of the earth.

Look closely at what is evolving in your life. Notice what aligns with who you KNOW yourself to be in the truth of your existence... and look for the little signs along the way, and follow them home. Home to your heart. Home to the vision of what you choose to leave as your mark on this journey. And home to your true nature....


It's a New Day!

Here is a photo I took this morning of my altar in the corner of our apartment in Ubud, Bali. Today you see Ganesha, but sometimes you will see Jesus, Shiva, St. Francis, the Buddha… each form of the Divine has a personality that embodies aspects of our being that we are unfolding… whomever brings you closest to God is the one God calls you to recognize.

It’s a New Day

Ahhh… it’s a new year. I often find this time of year to be a tad bittersweet. Not being one to make “new year’s resolutions”, I still recognize the power of the collective conscience. This time of year, when there is a wave of people intending to release, and to refresh something of value in their lives, I can’t help but choose to ride the wave with them. The difference, this year, which subtly unfolds each January 1st, is an increasingly deep knowing about where I choose to place my intention. There are a few aspects to this:

1. Empty vessel: First, I realize that in order to be filled, naturally, with the riches that are available through right intention, I must create room for this to happen. However, this itself is a bit deceiving because I can’t really “do” this. Instead, I must create an environment that creates space for space. As it is, the emptiness that we feel when we are quiet in mind, calm in heart, and relaxed in body is the only place/space into which a nourishing, juicy intention can blossom. Sometimes we get so busy trying to “practice this healthy behavior” or “stick to commitments” that our energy dissipates, without having first established fertile ground for our words, thoughts, and deeds to firmly root.

2. Nourishing intention: I choose to devote my mental, emotional, and physical energy to something that will still nourish me long term… 5 years, 20 years, 80 years from now, will I still be experiencing the merit of this choice? If I look at what I choose as an intention, I realize quickly whether or not it will offer me long-term, real, true nourishment. If there is any question about it, I choose differently.

3. One prayerful day: It seems that I can really get myself gnarled up in a big mess of commitments, failed attempts, and hard/fast rules if I start thinking too far in the future. I cannot begin to count the times I have made a commitment beyond this day, later to find myself falling away from it entirely. So, instead, I choose to focus on this moment. This day alone. Just one prayerful day. And then tomorrow, I’ll assess and recommit.

4. Altar my consciousness: I find that one of the best practices to help me bring consciousness, and keep consciousness, as my guiding light is to create and go to my personal altar. This is a space, in my home, that is the same place each day, where I create the intention to lay down my fears and anxieties, as well as my need to control what I cannot. Your altar is your own. You can place upon it photos of your ancestors, a candle, a bell, even a deity of your liking; one through whom you can connect to your creator, call it God, call it Ishwara, call it Christ, call it Buddha, call it Ala. Whomever speaks to your heart. Place flowers, incense, readings, prayers, rice, pine cones, maple leaves, herbs… whatever connects you to nature, your true nature, and to Divinity. Let this be the place you go, same time/same place each day, to worship and to rejuvenate.

5. Let them all in: And then, as I create space, realize my right intention, stay focused on one prayerful day, and visit my altar to reaffirm the path I have chosen, inevitably, there will be visitors. Some are welcome guests, namely power, joy, peace, and prayerfulness. Others I have a tendency to shut out – not so welcome are laziness, judgment, greed, and procrastination. My work here is not to shut anyone out. Instead, my work is to open the door and let them all in…. there is a yogic practice when preparing food: always make enough food for an unexpected visitor. This is how we realize that God can and does show up in any moment, and that anyone else who shows up is an opportunity for us to know God, and to know ourselves as completely acceptable exactly as we are.

Rumi says it quite beautifully here in the poem called “The Guesthouse”

This human being is a guest house,
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all,
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows
Who violently sweep your house
Of all its' furniture.
Still treat each guest honorably.
She may be cleaning you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
Meet them at the door laughing, And invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
Because each has been sent
As a guide from beyond.

May your 2010 be filled with grace. May you realize your fullness, and accept yourself completely without any need to be anything other than what you are right now, in this moment. May you realize that everything that you wish you could become, you already are, and may your intentions unfold this truth.

Om Shanti Shanti Shanti



Complex Simplification


First, be sure to read the FOLLOWING blog if you might be able to attend our potluck this Saturday evening. Angela has kindly offered to host this party at her house in West Linn. Her family will be there, so kids are also welcome in case you are wondering... (Kids make everything more interesting, don't you think?)

It is morning and still dark outside. A few moments ago I witnessed the headlight of a boat passing by our floating home, in the rain, hosting a crew team paddling behind. I always wonder what that is like for them. Cold? Rainy, of course. But it must be invigorating. Somehow it seems they are taking hold of the day...

As the light slowly rises, I am nestled up on the couch with a cup of tea. just in front of me is a hurricane of supplies for our upcoming 5 month journey. A few books, just enough clothes to get by (and a few that are old favorites that I can have remade at "sama same"--which means "same same" a tailor named Slow), kitchen supplies--like glass herb jars, kitchen towels, a new knife and two stainless steel pans, a handful of ayurvedic supplies, and then things like "real" Q-tips, earplugs for sleeping (dogs and motorbikes rule the night), and a few supplements from our naturopath, Dr. Bigelow, to help us get through the infamous "Bali Belly" if it happens to grace us while we are there.

This time, the last few days before traveling abroad are a combination of rushing around to make sure everything is set and "preparing to relax", as funny as that sounds. We know that when we get there, our biggest "job" will be to leave the parts of us behind that scurry around so often and insist upon being busy and all worked up, and to be still and open enough to let the light in... It will take us a couple of months to release the false sense of, "we have to DO something"... and rest into our human "being-ness" again. But once that happens, we find the whole world looks different. Simpler somehow. More connected. Nothing really changes on the outside, just our inner vision.

I imagine the winter will bring you a similar opportunity, if you choose to take it. As the rain falls, there is a natural cleansing that can occur. A washing away of what you no longer need, and an opportunity to see clearly what is before you, and within you, that needs to be dealt with... Winter is the best time to walk this sort of journey. It is made just for it. And although it may sound a bit funny, I am really looking forward to taking this journey WITH you, even though we will be across the globe from each other. I hope to hear your thoughts, dreams, and experiences, as you likely have no idea how much you inspire me in your mere and simple opening....

Looking forward to our dance together... here, in Bali, at the studio, and wherever else we hear the music.



The Courage To Face Myself

Sometimes I notice that when life gets difficult, I can get caught up in the difficulty of it all. Instead of watching it, seeing it as I would see a spiraling pool of water gently turning a fallen autumn leave for a while. It's when I breathe that I realized within myself that there always comes a time when the autumn leaf is released to the flow of the river, just as there is always a time where my "difficulty" breaks, and I feel the flow of life again.

This poem, reminds me of why I am given such "difficulties" along my way... These difficulties truly are my given opportunities to grow... if I can just.... stop.... to.... breathe......

The person who, being really on the Way, falls upon
hard times in the world, will not, as a consequence,
turn to that friend who offers her refuge and comfort
and encourages their old self to survive.
Rather, she will seek out someone who will faithfully and
inexorably help her to risk herself, so that she may endure
the difficulty and pass courageously through it.
Only to the extent that a person exposes herself over
and over again to annihilation, can that which is
indestructible be found within them.
In this daring lies the dignity and
the spirit of true awakening.

~ Karlfried van Durkheim


Yoga & Ayurveda Retreat

I would love to invite you to join me the weekend of October 8, 9, 10th for a weekend immersion in yoga and ayurveda. Whether or not you have ever attended a retreat or know much at all about yoga and ayurveda, there is no better time than this time to step into your own silence, community and joy to strengthen your connection to both earth and the divine. If you have a personal sadhana already, there are riches for you here as well... in nature, on the mat, and in community.

Wherever you are on your journey, there is depth and nourishment for you here.

Some things you will experience over the course of the long weekend:
* build your yoga practice
* practice prayer and song in a way that is aligned with your personal spiritual path
* laughter, dancing, whole vegetarian meals, and prana-rich mountain air
* conversation, the journey within and without, and shared experiences
* campfire puja... letting go of what you don't need
* ayurveda as a lifestyle balancing practice
* ancient yogic teachings
* rest and rejuvenation

I hope to share this time with you.

Namaste, Britt

Where Silence Leads Us

It's a new day, and after spending most of yesterday afternoon resting, this morning has carried me to an immersion in knowledge... I did some reading and found my way into studying about some research at Harvard about happiness and how when we give ourselves many choices, we actually experience a diminished sense of happiness and a heightened sense of doubt. But when we "put the whole self in" and really engage in our choice, not looking back at how things used to be, we find the choice we have made to be the perfect and best choice. Interesting, don't you think?

Found in a letter written by Myrtle Fillmore, dated 1891...
"My dear, you ask why you do not enter into the understanding you so desire. I will tell you. You are already in it. But you think you have some great thing to do to get there. The kingdom of God is within you. All you need to do is be still and know."


On the Horizontal

It's 3:30 pm on a Wednesday and I am stretched out on the couch. Settling in for an afternoon nap and confessing that I have been in this horizontal position for much of the afternoon. Craving silence... on the inside, and finding myself chanting om gum ganapatayeh namaha anytime that I feel the need to be "doing" something or desiring that which is outside of myself to be different than it is right now. Praying for the paths to be made passable...

I had a lovely conversation with a friend a couple of days back. I voiced that I have felt disjointed at times about how I cannot always see the path that I am intended to walk... It's like I can SEE where I am intended to go, but the path is overgrown or maybe it isn't yet created. My friend said something interesting. She said, "is it possible that you don't need to have the path clearly outlined for you anymore? That as your intuition strengthens, the inner knowing gets stronger, so the outer knowing or obvious direction isn't as necessary?" I felt one of those inner alarms go off that resonated with what I know to be true for myself.

Back to being horizontal... and granting my body the silence it is requesting...



Thoughts Become Things

Often we find ourselves facing a storm worthy of weathering in life and opt to do so alone. And yet when we reach out, we find that we don't have to do it alone.... Last Saturday I received a phone call from a friend/student who had tracked my down just as I was entering the studio to teach. He called specifically to request healing thoughts and good energy for his wife who was in ICU just a few miles away. I choose to believe that the thoughts and prayers we, 100 strong, sent her way, are in part, responsible for her ongoing recovery.

Sometimes we find ourselves in a position where loving kindness, good thoughts, and healing intentions could do us a world of good, and sometimes we ask for support... and sometimes we don't. Sometimes we need serious divine intervention... when someone we love is struggling or we, ourselves, are suffering deeply... And sometimes, life is going pretty well... and we just know that there is something that needs to shift in order for us to flourish and blossom... maybe its a "repotting"... or just a good "pruning"... just the same, we feel the compelling need for something to shift so we are free to grow.

I am at that place... My life is blessed, no doubt. Health, family, and everything else is good, good, good, good. And I know that part of the reason my life is so darn good at this time, is simply because I am called to be my best so I am able to support and help others as they are facing challenges and struggles that are tiresome and painful. It's just one of those things that I know to be true.

I also know that although my life is very good, that there is a longing that I have in my heart... one that I share with my husband... that longing is to get a "divine nudge" toward what is next.... Some of you know that we seek to create a smaller retreat center than we currently own, so we are able to host smaller retreats and gatherings. We dream of a house in the country where we can house upwards of 20 (versus 500 as at Cedar Ridge) and to live and serve sustainably.

This being said, I am "putting it out into the universe" for anyone who is called to send us good thoughts and little energetic nudges so that we might sell our house and also sell Cedar Ridge.

You see, we envision rest, education, canning, sustainability, making cheese, harvesting fruit and making chutneys. We see ourselves sharing and laughing and inspiring one another... on a sustainable yoga farm...a simple living B&B....

And so, this is a universal request for good thoughts so that our thoughts may become the things that dreams are made of... as you feel inspired, and if it feels right in your heart...

Similarly, there is no perfect time to send out that "divine nudge" for someone who is in need or is seeking shift... as well as to ask for what you need in terms of your own movement so that you may also feel open, receptive, and ready for what is next.

Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, feel inspired and then send out the luuuuuv... and at the end of each exhale, feel the inhale move you... and receive universal love within you.

It's a great way to juice up the airspace!

Much love and appreciation, now and always....


Pick Weeds Early

I had a conversation recently with a student who reminded me of how I had once said, "pick weeds early". She said she was out in her yard picking little weeds when she remembered what I had said. It dawned on her that I wasn't talking so much about weeds in the garden, at least not exclusively. Instead I was talking about picking the weeds that tend to grow in our lives.
Here's a different, and a bit light-hearted take on that statement: I live in a floating home and we have a container garden, considering we don't really have any soil in which to plant a regular style sort of garden. A few months ago I prepped some soil with a few bulbs in two particular planter boxes. Ever since then, I have been diligently watering them. About two weeks ago, my husband said to me, "why are you watering those weeds?" I said, "THOSE are not weeds! They are going to be these really beautiful grasses with tiny orange blossoms. Just give them time." Day after day, I watched them grow and it became a sweet banter between my husband and myself about watering the weeds while I waited for a sign of the impending flowers.

A couple of days ago, I was out early watering my plants. When I got to the planters with the grasses I had been waiting to bloom orange flowers, I looked a bit more closely, considering they seemed to have grown a foot overnight. I was shocked to see that, they had spawn some sort of wheat looking blossom that clearly sealed their identity: THEY WERE WEEDS!

I couldn't help but laugh out loud. Here I had been watering them, nurturing their sweet roots and protecting them from the hands and comments of my husband so they could grow with love surrounding them. I hadn't even noticed that they had grown to three times the size of the grasses that I had planted in previous years that bloomed the pretty little orange flowers. And here, I had been cursing their "siblings" in a nearby planter, venomously removing them from their soil-clad grip, never thinking that in the next planter over, I was coveting their identical twin... loving all over them... totally "gah gah".

But on this day, the truth came out. The weeds sprung forth in their boldest splendor. And I couldn't help but stand face to face with my weeds, reflecting on the humor this life metaphor had taught me.

So, I thought the moral of the story was to "pull weeds early". But it seems there is an even deeper and preliminary moral. And that is that we first have to get clear on what constitutes a "weed" and call a weed a weed.... and if we're lucky, we do that early too.

Because let me tell you, those buggers were ruthless when I tried to pull them... imagine me, white knuckled and gripping their splindly green torsos, while having to hold down the planter with my foot to get even a moderate grip.

... or better yet, imagine YOU....

Pay close attention. Call a weed a weed and pull it early. We'll all have a lot more time to sit and enjoy the bounty and beauty of our gardens if we do so.


It's All About Perspective

The day before we left, Larry took this photo of Nyoman and I. In the background you can see Nyoman's "office" where she spends more than 70 hours per week pedaling jewelry for a local who owns the booth at the Ubud Market. What a life, you may ask? A very happy one... her face reveals.

I received an email this morning from my friend, Nyoman Artini. I met Nyoman two days before leaving Bali to return home. Let me tell you a bit about her....

Nyoman grew up in a village just outside of the large village of Ubud. She is 23 and married to a man named Wayan. She works at the "Ubud Market", a large concrete building with small, poorly lit cubicles. She sells sterling silver jewelry and works seven days a week, ten hours per day. She has no lunch hour, no breaks, and sits in the bellows of Ubud Market for most of her life. She is happy. Joyful. And she reminds us daily that we have all that we need. Right here. Right now.

Here is the email I found in my inbox this morning:

Ibu Britt,
Halo how are you today we are in bali always missing of you .
What are you doing now ?we are in bali in bali happy and healty ,to day litle tired be couse we gone to visiting big vestival art in denpasar . Ok thanks and see you soon om santi santi santi om i hope happy always with you

Enjoy your day. Enjoy your life.