BEGINNING SPRING 2020 - WOH! WHAT IS GOING ON?!
One day in 2020 (it varies for each of us), we woke up to a very different world. We didn't understand exactly just how different it was until we began to navigate day by day, sometimes moment by moment. We are in a period of destruction and transformation - from a way of life that was - to one that will be new and different; and, one that is unknown on some level. As we traverse through these uncertain times, I offer these suggestions for reflection or journaling. I continue to add to them periodically. They were inspired by 2020 events, though they apply to life at any time. Feel free to tune if they call to you.
💜🦋JOURNAL/REFLECTION SUGGESTION 💜🦋
Ask yourself the question “Who am I?”
Answer it beginning with the words ‘I am...’ followed by whatever you come up with. See if you can journal 44 ‘I am...’ statements about yourself. When you have finished, look at what you’ve written and reflect on it.. Then take several deep breaths and wiggle and move your body.
💜🦋 JOURNAL/REFLECTION SUGGESTION💜🦋
🐛Find serenity in the storm.
Think back to a period of time or event of hardship for you (some have had more than others). These challenging times in your life that you navigated through illustrate ‘resilience’. Think about what you did to weather the storm. What did this event teach you about your own capabilities, your own strengths? What lessons did you learn? How did the event/period of time create a positive shift for you?
As you reflect on this, remember your body, the vessel of your spirit, of your soul was with you every step of the way. Take some time after you journal to breathe deep breaths. Go for a walk, stretch...move and honor your body in some way.
We have choices in how we respond.🦋
💜🦋JOURNAL/REFLECTION SUGGESTION 💜🦋
Many including Einstein have talked about the concept of time as being a man-made construct that is an illusion of sorts. I am reminded of this as I recall (as well as reread) Victor Frankl’s book ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’. He shares his experiences and observations when he labored in Nazi death camps, losing his parents and family members including his pregnant wife. It is a poignant story.
One thing that resonates with me is that he found that those who focused on ‘specific dates’ of when they would get out of the camp likely perished when the day came and went. Though those who focused more on the ‘qualities’ and the ‘experiences’ they wanted to have on the other side of it seemed to handle much better the daily pains and uncertainties.
Life is changing every day and it is never going to be the same for any of us. Rather than thinking about specific dates of when it’s going to be over or shift in some way, what do you envision on the other side of this? Conjure up vivid images of life for you in the future - relative to your health, to your body, to your loved ones, to your job, to your living situation, to your daily practices … to anything. It’s wide-open...
After you reflect on and/or journal these thoughts, close your eyes and focus on your breath. Let these thoughts ‘drop down’ into your body and resonate throughout.
💜🦋 JOURNAL/REFLECTION SUGGESTION💜🦋
Whether we realize it or not, each one of us is in a state of mourning... Either literally or figuratively, we are in a period of death and transformation- individually and collectively.
We are saying ‘goodbye’ to many things— saying goodbye to the way things used to be, to a ‘life’ that no longer exists.
Nothing is ever going to be the same.
There are stages of grief. They are not linear, though are phases which we dance in and out of when we are mourning. There is no specific time period. Mourning has no time table.
Phases of grief may include:
~Shock (initial paralysis upon hearing bad news)
~Denial (trying to avoid the inevitable)
~Bargaining (seeking in vain for a way out)
~Anger (annoyance to hostility)
~Depression (sadness, hopeless, withdrawing)
~Testing (seeking realistic solutions)
~Acceptance (finding a way forward)
Each phase can include a very visceral experience.
I understand grief at a cellular level.
Think about these phases and what they might mean to you personally.
What stage seems more salient to you at this moment?
Realize that everyone is going through grief right now. What stage(s) do those around me seem to be in? Reflect on how that might play out in your relationships and interactions with each other.
Pause both during and after your journaling/reflection....and take some time for you to breathe and to tune in to how your body feels.
Stretch and move about... and breathe some more...
💜🦋 JOURNAL/REFLECTION SUGGESTION 💜🦋
It takes a lot of practice "to be" with the unknown. And often, it is a very uncomfortable and confronting practice. Right now, we don't know fully know what life is going to look like on the other side of this transformation. The unknown may include our work or career, our living situations, our relationships, the events we have planned, the services we frequented in the past, our child's educational circumstances, our health and well-being, our financial stability, and/or the situations of our loved ones.
Looking back, we may feel deep gratitude and/or we may feel regret. Looking forward, we may feel hope and/or we may feel anxious. The key is to trust that life is unfolding exactly as it is meant to, that we are on our path to wisdom and growth, and that we have all we need right here, right now.
I have a sign in my studio that reads "Living in the moment may be the true meaning of life."
This moment right now is a known.
Take this moment to be present...
~Focus on your breath. Feel air coming in to your lungs, and air going out. Notice all the movement of your breath - in your back, your chest, your sides, your belly. See if you can make your breath bigger, more full.
~How does your body feel - are you hungry, thirsty...is there any tension or discomfort?
~Look all around you - what do you see right now?
~What do you feel on your skin?
~What do you hear nearby and in the distance?
~Put your hand on your heart. Notice your unique heartbeat if you can. What do you feel?
~What are you grateful for right now?
💜🦋 JOURNAL/REFLECTION SUGGESTION💜🦋
One thing that has resonated with me during this transformational time is that we are missing the opportunity to focus on well-being and prevention. What fully catalyzed for me through the death of my son was seeing clearly that our current medical model is broken. It is focused primarily on disease management and symptom suppression. And, we have no health care system - instead, we have a sick maintenance system. Furthermore, we have been led astray from focusing on prevention as well as owning the role that we play in our own well-being. I believe we can all be empowered to take care of ourselves and learn that the answer to our health and well-being does not lie in the hands of “someone out there.” It begins with self care.
Hippocrates, considered the father of medicine is credited with saying… The natural healing force within each of us is the greatest force in getting well.
Within each of us is the capability:
To listen to our body and to hear what it is asking for
To follow our intuition, and
To know that we need to take care of the beautiful body that houses our soul (ALWAYS, not just in a time of pandemic).
Through my work as a movement specialist and movement therapist, I fully understand the role that repetitive movement and/or non-movement plays in our health.
I also know that what we put ‘in’ our body including everything from toxic thoughts to food and supplements also plays a role in our health.
Interestingly, I recently read a statistic quoted by Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Freidman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, that “fewer than one American adult in five is metabolically healthy.” He also cited a national report stating how poor diet is “now the leading cause of poor health in the U.S.” contributing to a highly significant number of deaths per year.
Questions to reflect on…
Am I taking good care of myself each and every day?
Am I quick to run to the 'outside' for answers to my own health - whether it be for a pill, a surgery, a test?
Do I wake up each morning and think about my well-being and my responsibility for my self-care?
Do I frequently tune in to what my body is saying - what my spirit might be saying through my body?
Do I acknowledge gratitude for any health and well-being I am experiencing right now?
Do I nourish my body in all ways including healthy movement as well as diet and supplements that resonate with ME personally?
Do I recognize any toxicity in my life whether it be people or practices or ways of living my life?
Do I fully honor my body exactly as it is?
Do I trust my body enough to listen to it and let it help guide me?
Do I fully own my responsibility and the role I play in my own well-being?
💜🦋 JOURNAL/REFLECTION SUGGESTION💜🦋
In the midst of these transformational times, it is apparent that money and work realities vary for each of us.
There are many possible scenarios that we, our friends, our loved ones, our neighbors are in. As you read this list, tune in, and consider what it must be like and feel like to be living inside one of these realities:
--Business having been shut down, out of work, and uncertainty of when/if business will reopen and when/if one’s job will be restored
--Contract workers where the contract has a termination (or up for renewal) date in the near future
--Those whose jobs are out of the country and are located far away from family or loved ones
--Those whose work is still carrying on though at a different OR reduced rate of activity, opening up the possibility of rebranding in the future (e.g., restaurants, schools, my business)
--Doctors, nurses and healthcare workers on the front line - some thinking work is not sustainable (including those in pre-med who might be reconsidering)
--Students looking at and re-evaluating their areas of study - especially in areas where remote learning does not work very well (e.g., I spoke with a student at NYU Tish school last week who said that paying 80 grand to do acting via zoom makes no sense)
--Those who were retired
--Those nearing retirement
--Those making quite a bit of money during this time such as gun manufacturers and sales, Amazon, Walmart
--Those moving to do business online within a potentially flooded market (e.g., group movement classes such as fitness, yoga, Pilates)
--Those with a considerable amount of money, may have others managing it, and are not feeling a financial burden
Several things that are certain. We are all connected and we each play a role in society. Nothing is ever going to be the same post-Covid and on some level we have no idea what the future holds.
Looking at one’s own situation, questions to consider:
~What if the world needs us all to drop any status-quo thoughts around what ‘money’ is?
~What does it look like to see things through new lenses, new paradigms?
~What if that which we have always believed to be true about ourselves, our lives is not so anymore? What’s next?
~Who are my friends? My tribe? My family? Who nourishes me?
~Am I close enough to loved ones? Can I visit them if I want given the uncertainty of the airline industry?
~What does it look like (as a parent, or a student, or a teacher, or an administrator) if remote learning and education (in some form) becomes a bigger reality?
~Does college still make sense?
~How do I earn money? How and where do I spend it? What is of value to me? Do my old practices and patterns of earning and/or spending make sense in a paradigm of life that is rapidly and profoundly changing?
~What do I want for my lifestyle? Where do I want to live? Who do I want to be around?
~What is my role in society?
~What is my gift to give to others? What am I here to contribute?
During (and after) you journal or reflect on these thoughts…. Tune in to your body. Be quiet and breathe and notice how your body feels. Let your body help guide you.
As I write this, we have stepped into May 2020 and most if not all of us are in a period of review and reflection. What the @#%& has happened and what is going on!? We have been through the shocking rough entry in to 2020 and we are pausing (on some level) to try and assimilate it all.
Look back through your calendar beginning February 4, 2020; and, skim through the days leading up to today. It may seem like another lifetime when you look back.
Reflect on what you note. What are 4 things you have learned that apply to you personally? How are these lessons changing your life and the way you operate in the world? What are 3 ways/things that you are being invited to do differently on a daily basis?
I had the honor of conducting a cadaver study under the direction of Gil Hedley last fall. And I am once again under Gil’s tutelage with an online streaming cadaver study going on this week. I truly believe that he is going to help redefine the anatomy books.
Today we dissected the organs of the thoracic cavity. And I am once again amazed at the connection of the lungs to the heart. As Gil says, the lungs are the angel wings of the heart. They work together and they are one.
We are not a bunch of parts as the anatomy books depict. Our anatomy is integral, everything is connected and beautifully interwoven. When you nick your elbow and see blood or you notice a blood vessel that may be close to your skin, that is your heart. And your breath is instigating a lovely dance among your organs, while also permeating throughout your entire body.
What a gift our heart and blood flow is. What a gift our breath is. Our hearts move for us. Our breathing happens to us. We have very little thought about it all and we don’t necessarily even ask for it. It just ensues. And all the while we take it for granted.
When I was doing the cadaver study in person, I had the opportunity to hold the cadaver heart in my hands. It was deeply moving for all of us and brought many of us to tears. I never imagined that I would one day hold a human heart in my hand. And I certainly didn’t envision the visceral reaction my body would have in doing so. To pause for a moment and truly connect with the heart of another and in turn with my own…transcends everything that we think is so important and yet isn’t. And then again today as I watched the others in the room via the online streaming hold the heart and begin to weep, I too began to cry and felt a connection to my own heart as well as to their’s.
We are such a busy distracted lot. Though right now we have been put in a time out to pause. Furthermore, there are many planets that are retrograde and we are being invited to go even deeper into looking into ourselves as well as the world around us. When we put down our mundane to-do lists and when we refrain from our crowded sometimes toxic thoughts, there is a moment of waking up and feeling appreciation and love in a profound way. How can we even begin to feel peace if we’re hanging out in fear? How can we possibly begin to love anyone else if we don’t love ourselves fully starting with our own beautiful body?
The opposite of love is fear. And there are so many operating right now in a big space of fear. We are all connected and so we all feel everyone’s fear on some level. If we can move beyond the fear to a greater sense of understanding who we are, why we are here, and the role we play in the collective… the more we can move away from fear to love. We can gain a greater understanding and acceptance of what we can do to help transmute our current situation (that does not involve fear).
Pause for several moments. Sit down in a quiet space and just ‘be.’ Put your hands on your heart just below your left breast and see if you can feel the beat, which is your unique rhythm. Breathe. And imagine the lungs as angel wings to the heart- pulsating against your ribs. What do you notice?
My son passed away at age 21. He was born five weeks early and as a young mother I had no idea that his life would be so short. Though on the other side of his death, I am often reminded that he lived a very full life indeed. He was an adventurous soul and he was loved by many. His friends have often told me what an amazing friend he was, someone who would be there for them no matter what.
Through my mourning, I have come to understand that life and death transcend time. We don’t fully understand how long we’re going to be here. And the key is to live life fully.
During these transformational times with a virus that is mysterious and sometimes deadly, people are very fearful. And I know from talking to some that they are afraid of death. If you are afraid of death, what are you afraid of specifically? Are you living life fully? Are you waking up each day and stepping into your highest and best self? Are you bringing your gifts to those around you? Are you loving with all your heart?
Or are you cowering in fear— fear of death and perhaps fear of life?
This past week, I had two women share that they were having their breast implants removed. I have never known anyone who did this and when two showed up, I paused to hear their message. Also this same week, two young woman told me that they have body image issues. Each of us has our own journey and we cannot judge one’s decisions - I know many who have had work done to themselves. At the same time, I do know from observing surgeries and from my work as a movement specialist/movement therapist, that it is taxing on the body to have elective surgeries. There have been problems with surgical implants (many kinds); and, often there is a message behind the decision to have elective surgery in the first place - a message that speaks to one’s soul, one’s spirit. The key is to listen.
In my work, I am reminded almost every week of the challenges we face in being able to love and deeply honor our bodies – particularly as women though it definitely shows up for men too. Each body is unique – each body is beautiful – each body is the vessel that houses the spirit. The body speaks to us all the time and if we listen, it can help us not only navigate through our journey, it can also help ‘wake us up’ on some level.
Unfortunately, society encourages us to think that we must look a certain way in order to claim our beauty. We may find ourselves in relationships that support us in our limiting views of our bodies. Furthermore, the medical model does not empower us to care for our bodies.
Right now in the midst of Covid-19, we can focus on our bodies in so many ways as we are faced with a virus that is mysterious and deadly to the body. In doing so, we must be reminded that the body is not one simple entity. Each one is unique, complex, dynamic, flowing, constantly moving and changing. The body houses our unique spirit while it connects us to all of life on earth.
I believe we cannot war with nature. We must learn to co-exist with it. Nor can we war with our bodies for they are 'partnering with us' in this lifetime. This virus is inviting us to see how we have been warring with nature and warring with our bodies for some time now…
Many have strong and differing views on the Covid vaccine. I honor each person’s decision around this. At the same time, I encourage everyone to also take time to examine their views around their own bodies. I have a family member who is sheltering until a vaccine is in place. That is fine for that is his decision and journey.
Before deeming that something outside me has “the answer” (whatever that answer is – to whatever the question is, which is most often conjunct with some fear)…. I encourage one to stand nude in front of a mirror and ask…
~Do I see the beauty of my body that is carrying me through this time?
~Do I see the beauty of my spirit that is in this body?
~Who am I (beyond what I can even imagine)? [Look back at the first journal suggestion - top of this page]
~Where do I shine? What is my niche? Not only in where I’m comfortable, though where I have potential.
~Are there aspects of myself – my spirit or my body – that I have neglected?
~Do I take care of myself? Do I honor myself – my body, my spirit?
~Am I with people who truly honor me – my spirit, my body?
~Do I show up each day – independent of fear – and have courage to be my best and highest self?
The Covid virus negatively impacts the lungs and breathing. A black man was asphyxiated by a white police officer. People are now holding signs and wearing T-shirts that read "I can’t breathe." All of these facts bring me back to my passion and what I can do to show up and make a difference. And that is to talk about the body that houses our spirit… to honor each and every body that is our vessel.
I begin my third cadaver study this weekend and although it will be done via live streaming, I anticipate that through dissection and discussion, I’ll be reminded once again of what I have believed for a long time. And that is that we as humans are breathed. We do not play an active role to breathe.
Poets and writers have referred to ‘breath’ forever. It is the first act of life, and the last act of life. In essence, breathing is life and life is breathing. I always tell my clients that if I could only teach one thing in my practice, it would be breath. In addition to all that occurs with intake and outtake of air during breathing, breathing also creates beautiful movement which facilitates the flow and vibrancy of our bodies, our spirits. Breath keeps us alive. Breath stimulates and releases. Breath wakes us up. Breathing heals.
In my work, I see that for most of us, we are breathed. It is something we don’t have to think about, though if we don’t focus on it and be conscious about it, we are not breathing fully. We are not living fully. We are a sleepy bunch of humanity with our heads in our phones, our computers, and our own lives. We have become disconnected in so many ways. We run to the ‘outside’ for the answers when so much of the 'answer' lies within. And all along the way, we have lost perspective on how we are truly treating the earth, each other, and our individual body.
I defer to those whose life mission is to wake us up to how we’re treating the earth poorly, as well as to those who lead the way in waking us up to how we’re treating each other poorly. Where I step in is where my passion lies…I step in to encourage each one to reflect on their own individual body, to honor it, to honor all bodies...
Begin by sitting or lying down comfortably.
Notice the ground underneath you (lie in the grass if you have access to it).
Then imagine your breastbone reaching up to a star from above.
Next, tune in to a visual of how much flow there is within the body. Having seen inside the body, it is easy for me to see all the movement… For everyone, I think it is relatively easy to imagine the blood flowing throughout the body - throughout the brain, down to the fingers, to the toes, and continuous movement all through the body.
Feel the support of the ground (earth) below you, the connection to the sky above you while noticing the body with all its vibrancy and flow…
Next, tune in to your breath. Notice if it’s shallow to begin and see if you can make the inhalation and exhalation even bigger. Increase the magnitude of the breath expanding it to all sides, front and back of your torso.
Finally, take your arms and wrap them around you as if you’re giving yourself a hug. Ask yourself…
~Can I actually feel this body I’m in?
~Do I love this body?
~Do I see my beauty?
~Do I recognize how beautiful and strong and powerful it is?
~Have I put anything in it or had any procedures done to it that might not be good for it? If so, why?
~Do I take it for granted?
~Am I always taking at least some time every day to tune in to my body, this beautiful vehicle that houses my very unique spirit?
The first cadaver study I did… It took us an entire day to dissect and remove the skin. We kept having to replace our blades for the skin is very tough, even though it isn’t that thick and is very porous. And what I learned is that no matter what color the skin is, just a few millimeters below it lies this beautiful bright yellow orangey thick piece of superficial fascia. A person can be black or brown or white or shades of them all on the outside; and yet, we all have this beautiful vibrant color that is the same for each of us just below the thin surface of the skin.
With all the recent events going on, my clients are coming holding to sessions with stress in their bodies. I offer this as a suggestion to each one… Go home and turn on your favorite music. If you want to do it alone, do it alone or if you want to join with those that are there where you live, have them join you. Turn on your favorite music and just dance - freeform - letting go in the body, moving however the body wants to move, in whatever directions it wants to go. One of my clients was headed home today to dance to Aretha Franklin’s RESPECT.
Not long ago, I started an Instagram account. I was very reluctant as I am not a big social media fan though I was told it was best to connect this way because of my upcoming books. Still feeling uncomfortable with it all, I decided to take a break from social media; and, my last post on Instagram was on 12/31/2020 (if you’re on IG, you can find me at connected_movement_in_sync).
In that post, I mention how 2020 is going to be a big year with a total breakdown of social structures and systems. It was a good place to end my posts…for then anyway. I will return at some point… when it feels right to me.
To recapture my sentiment and expand…
2020 is going to be an intense tumultuous year where ALL systems are broken down. That being said, it is only giving us the POTENTIAL for things to rebuild anew. There are no guarantees for how the systems will be rebuilt. During this time, each one of us is being INVITED to show up with our highest and best self and do what we can as individuals within our own power to make individual changes.
We can comment on it all and analyze it and obsess on it and be afraid of it and get consumed by it. Though in the end it’s how each of us ‘shows up’ - how each of us responds and/or does something (moves or takes action) each day. Not everything that manifests this year is our own personal battle or passion and we cannot get lost in everything that comes our way this year. At the same time, we do have something we are here to do.
Ultimately, we have to be reminded that we were all connected- to each other, to the sky, to the earth, and to all that inhabits the earth.
And each day we have to wake up and ask ‘what can I do today no matter how small...what am I going to do today no matter how small?’ – which will likely create some shift.
We are a sleepy bunch of humanity. And we have to wake up – big time.
For me personally my ‘job’ each day is to step into my healthy routine and go to work. To rattle and nudge people to wake up in their bodies which awakens their spirits so they/we can ‘step out’ as the highest and best self. What I am here to do takes a lot of practice for me. It isn’t easy. That is the same for all of us. This isn't easy stuff - it involves presence and practice.
Each one of us has our own soul purpose and we have to tune into what that is, and tap in to it each and every day. At the same time, we have to be careful not to be so judging and righteous about what others are choosing to do and say (remembering that they too have their own individual journey). We are each traversing our individual journeys, while being connected, while navigating through unchartered and stormy waters!
We are in eclipse season which brings a lot of intensity and a lot of emotion. Treat your body, your spirit and those you love with compassion and kindness and sensitivity. And keep tuning in to why you are here and what you’re here to do each and every day... Sometimes the tuning in is about what you’re here to do each and every moment.
My entire life, I have been diving deep into learning about the body. It is my passion (sometimes obsession) and gift to learn as much as I can and thereby translate what I learn to my teaching. These past couple years, I have gone even deeper by partaking in every fascia webinar that is offered; as well as, observing live surgeries and participating in cadaver studies. The overarching take-away is that what I thought I knew about the body when I first began this journey is not the whole picture, that the pictures in the body books simply are not accurate; and, that what doctors and pharmacists say is not the whole truth.
It’s as if my rose-colored glasses have been removed and the veil taken off so I/we can discover something underneath. What is beneath the veil that was hidden? What did I not see or consider? What did I believe to be true that isn’t?
I believe that 2020 is facilitating each of us to do this on all levels though all paradigms. We are being invited to consider our narrow perspectives, our views that have blinders on them – and at least peek at the other perspectives.
Even if we don’t agree with the other side, how can we know what we believe to be true if we don’t try to at least understand the other view? And, the other side can be anything – from bigger topics like religion, race, politics to perspectives on how to navigate through our daily life.
I grew up with a mom who was democrat and a dad who was a republican; and, I am grateful to have been around a lively, loud and engaging family who spoke their views which differed greatly. It gave me good practice in listening to the other views; and, being able to understand (even if I didn’t agree). It also helped me best formulate my own educated views.
2020 events are intense and they will continue to be so. They are about destruction and transformation. And yet, what a ‘gift’ to have the opportunity to see things we haven’t seen (or have chosen not to see) and to rebuild our systems and our ‘selves’ in a new way. We are being given a chance to wake up in a big way, to take off our blinders, to remove our rose-colored glasses; and, to see something completely different.
Questions to ponder:
~What have I believed to be true; and, where have I held strong convictions that just may not be so?
~Where are my biases? My prejudices? My ‘judging’ I do on a daily basis? Are these rooted in my family and upbringing?
~What if rather than quickly reacting to the news or to someone else’s view that I ‘sat with it’ and truly tried to understand why that person(s) is doing or saying what they are? And even if I didn’t agree with what they said or did, what if I at least tried to see and hear where they might be coming from?
~What does it mean to truly honor and respect another person’s view or perspective?
~What does it mean to truly listen? What is the difference between ‘listening to hear’ versus ‘listening to respond?’
~How might this new way of operating with an ‘openness to the other’ help bring me away from reacting, away from fear, away from stress…and facilitate me to better understand others and better understand myself and my own beliefs? Could it lead me to navigate through life as my highest and best self?