Wednesday, April 6, 2011

More reflections on Mutual Support

With no blog posts in either February or March, an objective reader might quite rightly assume that I have given up on my practice or that I am seeing so many clients that I have no time for writing.  And neither assumption would be quite right.

Life, and even my Breema life, has been full.  I certainly have not given up on my practice.  I now have a couple of wonderful people that might even be termed "regular customers" (Blessings to you each and every one!), and as you can see from the upcoming events page, I have been out there teaching classes, doing public demonstrations, and giving free and low-cost sessions.

I am grateful for the support of The Mount Airy Learning Tree who have sponsored my classes, the American Friends Service Committee who have hosted my monthly work at Friends Center, and, most recently, Jeff and Heather at Pilates in Germantown who are hosting my public event on Saturday, April 16th.  Looking further down the road, I will be teaching another course in June through MALT.  I will also be at Empowered Yoga in Willmington on Saturday, June 4th.  I will offer free mini-sessions at the Philadelphia Trans-Health Conference, sponsored by the Mazzoni Center, on June 2nd and 3rd.  I am very excited about the opportunity to be a nurturing ally at what is probably the largest gathering of transgender folk in the world!  It will certainly be a very busy June!

I am also profoundly grateful to Matthew Tousignant, Sara Fishkin, and Sara Moore-Hines, the three other Breema instructors in the Philadelphia area. We have begun to work together at various events and the experience of having peer support and encouragement is incredible. The opportunity to watch these gifted practitioners share their understanding and to receive as a student has helped me to clarify the core of my own teaching.  It is a joy to remember the power of receiving Breema.  To gather in a circle with others who share a common experience and a common aim is deeply nurturing.  I do encourage us all to reach out with an atmosphere of support to individual friends and to the community.  It is truly the way that we will heal the planet.

Now it has been very easy to see the good things in life as wonderful support for my self and for my work. 

But one of the real gifts of these last few months have been the empty and the challenging times -- the times when no one has called and I have not been clear about next steps, the times that I have planned events and worried that no one would show up, the times that someone pushed a button and gave me the opportunity to see myself in my full humanness.

There have been many days of unknowing, of discouragement, and inertia.  I was recently at the Breema Center in Oakland for an instructors' intensive and heard a talk on the twin challenges of inertia and anxiety.  It is so true that the human mind tends to bounce back and forth like a ping pong ball between these two reactions.  It is like when guests are coming for dinner and at one moment you fear that you have cooked way too much food and the very next moment you are afraid everyone will starve. 

When my mind is lost in anxiety or inertia over there, and my body is rushing through the day over here, I find that there is precious little space for me to receive the inevitable events of life -- the computer glitch, the marketing call, the unkind remark, the unexpected and uninvited change in plans.  In this scattered, very human state, all of life is a challenge.

The philosophy and the practice of Breema, invites us all to simply bring the mind to the body and to breathe, to unite and nurture the mind/body connection.  It is my experience that in this unified state, there is an opportunity to see the events of the world in context and for the feelings and emotions to enter in with a different energy.  In this unified state, I am more often able to see the gift in both the easy and the challenge, in what my mind wants to call both the "good" and the "bad." 

In this united state, there I find a confidence in me that can remain rooted in spite of the winds and the tempests of life.  The computer glitch becomes an opportunity to understand the program at a deeper level and to nurture patience and self-compassion.  The marketing call becomes a reminder to connect with the breath and to learn to say "No thank you" without judgment.  The unkind remark becomes an opening to connect with another who is hurting.  The unexpected and uninvited change in plans becomes an opportunity to nurture resilience.

The prophets, psalmists, and the early Friends spoke of this opportunity to return to the body as a way of inviting God to reign once again at the center of all things:

           Be still, and know that I am God.

Be still and cool in thy own mind and spirit from thy own thoughts, and then thou wilt feel the principle of God to turn thy mind to the Lord God, whereby thou wilt receive his strength and power from whence life comes, to allay all tempests against blusterings and storms.   

Now, reader, in soberness and singleness of your heart, …. Let the truth of God have place in the heart . . . . for truly the Lord, whom we seek, will suddenly come to His temple, and who may abide the day of His coming...

And my all-time favorite, Isaac Penington:

Give over thine own willing; give over thine own running; give over thine own desiring to know or to be any thing, and sink down to the seed which God sows in the heart, and let that grow in thee, and be in thee, and breathe in thee, and act in thee, and thou shalt find by sweet experience that the Lord knows that, and loves and owns that, and will lead it to the inheritance of life, which is his portion.

I am grateful for my full life.  I am grateful for the sweet nurture of support.  I am grateful for the challenges that show me my true self and which offer me the opportunity to remember that I am not the author.  I am grateful for the opportunity to give and receive support in each moment.

As they say at the Breema Center:

The more our Being participates, the more we are able to support life and recognize that Existence supports us. Giving and receiving support take place simultaneously.

May gratitude be your constant companion.

Two other quick updates: 
Hold me and the Germantown Clergy Initiative with well wishing on Wednesday, April 13th.  We will be taking a bus load of students from Germantown High School to Washington, DC.  We will be visiting the Howard University as part of our annual college campus tour program, with side trips to the Smithsonian Institution and the National Museum of African American History and a stop at a local soul food restaurant.  May we be blessed with traveling mercies and be the opportunity for new possibilities in the lives of these young people.

Activity with the Earth Quaker Action Team has been a great blessing over the past two months.  As many of you have probably heard, our action at the Philadelphia Flower Show received quite a bit of publicity.  Unfortunately, because of my trip west to the Breema Center, I missed a wonderful action in Swarthmore.  Next will be the PNC shareholders' meeting in Pittsburgh on the 26th of April.  Hold us and the shareholders in the Light that we may all be faithful to God's highest intention.

Hope to write again, sooner next time.