B.I.G. Podcast: Healing Your Karma

On the 2016 Winter Solstice I had the opportunity to record a podcast with the ever-inspiring Jessica Raymond of Recovery Warriors. Listen in through the link below and let me know what you think!

Peace and namaste,

Julie

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How Love Works

WARNING: political overtones

Most who know me know I’m a horse girl. Last spring I made a wonderful discovery; thirteen horses right around the corner from my new home. Just one year earlier my daughter and I had to let our own horses move to Texas so they could stay with a herd we promised them they’d never be separated from again. It was a difficult decision after having horses in my life forever so I was ecstatic to meet a new neighbor (we’ll call her Mrs. T) and her herd.

From the get go Mrs. T had a Trump sign in her yard. Being a student of yoga, I tried to not let this affect my experience of her. Throughout the spring and summer my family and I connected with Mrs. T and her herd. She expressed her interest in bringing others, particularly women, to do healing work with her horses. A fabulous idea to me since horses were a huge part of my own healing journey. Before our horses had to move I spent a year sharing their wisdom with my local BKH clients. This opportunity was like winning the lottery twice. I could be with horses again AND offer the equine experience to clients once more. Woohoo!!!

Despite all this awesomeness, resistance welled up in me due to the Trump sign and also things Mrs. T was posting on Facebook that aligned with the disturbing viewpoints of the Republican presidential nominee. I tried to overlook the issues, “rise above it,” accept others in their differing beliefs, practice tolerance, blah, blah, blah. Ignoring my intuition, I kept going back. Mrs. T even tried to get me up riding again, something I hadn’t done since retiring Patrick (who’s now passed on), the equine love of my life that guided me into eating disorder recovery years ago. It was unusual for me to turn riding down but now I understand why.

Come fall undeniable proof of Trump’s misogyny surfaced and I could no longer deny the struggle within. With a heavy but clear heart and a healthy dose of courage I called Mrs. T. I shared that I would no longer be coming to her barn and why. I did so in the most compassionate way possible but without diminishing my truth, my beliefs in equality and women’s rights. I shared that her place no longer felt safe to me, nor did I believe it could be a healing space for women, for anyone, if it aligned with an agenda of hate.

Though difficult, this decision felt incredibly loving, first and foremost, towards myself. I’ve worked really hard to be in a place where I’ll not stay in unhealthy environments or where I’ll remain silent about things that are clearly wrong. Secondly, it felt incredibly loving towards Mrs. T for me be my authentic, human self. It felt disrespectful to ignore the important issues just so I could be with her horses.

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Seattle

For a few days I grieved. I felt the lose of the horses, the friendship, and the dream of another horse based healing place for my local clients. I figured that with truth, with love comes great sacrifice. Then something magical happened. Just five days later I took to the mat with a new private yoga student. One that was also struggling with all that was being revealed in this election. I shared how I had to let go of the herd next door because of it and she exclaimed, “You should come to our barn!” She went on to describe an interesting horse up for lease. In every way this horse sounded like my Patrick; from breed, to size, to color, to personality. Just eight days after realigning with love I met Seattle. We were a perfect match!

This is how love works.

The story grows from there. This new barn community is filled with progressive, proactive women who “get” the deep spiritual significance of the the human-horse relationship. Two of them are both experienced horsewomen and therapists also wanting to bring what I call “the yoga of horses” to those on a path of personal growth. This is how love works. By being true to our own sacred hearts, by letting go of the way we “think” things should be we open ourselves to even more abundance. Things happen that are even better than what we can imagine. I know these cosmic principles well and have put compassion in action many times in my life but it always blows my mind. Make no mistake, it’s hard work but the payoff is priceless.

Know that Body Karma Healing is here to support you in being authentic and brave so your dreams can come true too. Join me in 2017 to cultivate BIG love in your life through the path of yoga for body peace and self-empowerment.

Private Coaching

Foundations Training

eCourse Journey Circle

AND, save the date for our first The Yoga of Horses Retreat in Arizona Nov. 10-12. Stay tuned for details!

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I Will Speak Up

It’s been 2 weeks since the election. Two weeks since I held my 15 y.o. daughter at 3 AM as we cried together in fear for our earth, for women, for the LGBT community, for immigrants, refugees and all non-white “Americans.” I’ve been on an emotional roller coaster that I’m sure is what landed me in bed with a fierce cold. In slowing down and reflecting on it all and searching for what’s most important in this tumultuous and disturbing time in our country, I keep coming back to the words of one young lady upon hearing the news Mr. Trump had “won.” 

abbysummerloveAbagail is a 5th grader in a new school this year. That’s her in the pic enjoying some watermelon and striking a yoga pose to make me laugh. She’s one powerful little Goddess I’ve know since she was in diapers. I’ve never known her to take shit from anyone having grown up with two big brothers and supported by an awesome mom and wonderful Waldorf School community. However, like most of us, she was starting to struggle a bit being the world and finding her way especially with the change of schools.

Two weeks ago, Abby came downstairs and her mother shared the election results. Abby paused and said to her mama, “I thought that might happen.” With a heavy heart Abby’s mother posed a wise and beautiful question to her daughter, “So what’s different about today?” Thoughtfully, Abagail answered. “Well mom, ya know how I told you that my work group in class had the wrong answer yesterday and I knew it but I didn’t say anything.” Yes.” her mother responded. 

“Well from know on, I will speak up.” 

This sums it up for me. What we are facing is not something new. It’s been there, under the surface like an undiagnosed cancer doing unknown damage, getting stronger in the darkness. Now, it’s all exposed and it can be addressed but it takes courage like this, courage in our everyday, seemingly uneventful lives. It’s on this small scale that the world truly changes. All it takes is a brave heart willing to risk the lose of love and approval, of perceived safety in the status quo. All it takes is for us to stop being quiet about what is clearly wrong. 

I invite you to follow Abby’s lead. No matter how small the act may seem, speak up. It can be as simple as speaking up against your own inner critic or as big as calling out body shame, racism, misogyny and other forms of violence that keep us from evolving into the best version of humanity we can be. 

So, how is today different for you? 

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Quote: Angela Davis, Photo: Susan Alzner, Activitst: Ani DiFranco

Feel free to share your voice in the comments below and look for my next post about how speaking up landed me back in the saddle.

Peace On

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Take Action For Standing Rock: Stop the Dakota Access Pipeline

Dear Friends,

It’s time, time to stand up and take embodied action towards healing the wounds of this country and it begins with stopping the destruction of our Mother and honoring our indigenous people. This meme has been going around social media but personally I do better with something tangible. My daughter and I created a flyer with this info in quarters so we can hand them out everywhere we go.

By all means, keep sharing and talking about this on social media but also share and talk about it at work, at school, at the bus stop, at the grocery store, at your gym, your yoga classes, church and more. TAKE ACTION and encourage others to do the same. Call, write, donate, pray. 

Click HERE to access Standing Rock Flyer

Please and thank you.

Aho. Namaste. Amen.

daplmeme

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On Feeling Trapped

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Do you ever feel like a caged animal? Contained, stuck, hopeless? I went to the zoo with my family last week. I have some inner conflict with zoos. On one hand, having the animals there make people happy and provides education and awareness that helps change human behavior around taking care of the earth. On the other, these magnificent Beings are trapped.

We had an amazing experience watching grizzly bears play joyfully in a pool just inches away from us. Our hearts felt full seeing snow leopard cubs snuggle in for a nap with their mother. Time and again though, our conversation would turn to the dark side of it all. Was this right? Were they suffering? Were we wrong for supporting it?

At one point I found myself in the ocean exhibit gazing through the glass at an octopus. Beyond thoughts of how he should be in the sea and that he must be suffering, I felt a peace within. I stood still longer to connect more deeply to that sensation of ease gently making it’s way through the flood of thoughts to the contrary. Suddenly an insight bubbled up; here these creatures are clearly confined but my sense of them was one of contentment, even happiness, yet we humans are totally free but so often feel completely trapped. I wondered why and brought my sister in to discuss. We mused on how this is a perfect example of what the path of yoga teaches. That for whatever reason, it’s human nature to create self-imposed cages made up of thoughts and beliefs but that instead of dwelling in the mind, we can feel our way into the present moment, exactly as it is, and know peace no matter our circumstance. We even realized that we were projecting our own dis-ease onto the animals. Our thoughts about how they must be miserable merely a distraction from our personal mental constructs that limit the capacity for joy.

bodycheckingSound familiar? This is one of the main reasons we’re prone to suffer as souls in a body. We resist reality and lay down layer after layer of wrongness about our life, about ourselves, causing energetic weight within each and every cell of the physical self. We try to get rid of this by controlling the body. Not only does this cycle lend itself to painful body image (and eating imbalances), it diminishes our ability to manifest more of what we do want in life.

This experience ties to the topic of surrender and some questions about it that I put to my Tribe in my last newsletter. I promised to share my answers so here goes.

What does surrender mean to you? To me, surrender and freedom are synonymous. Surrender means trusting what is to be what’s “right” in ways that I don’t fully understand. It means accepting that I don’t have control, which is crazy hard, but is also the most empowering step I can take towards peace. Surrendering helps me influence my inner and outer worlds in a loving way .

Surrender to me means accepting the perfect imperfection of myself and life at large.

What are you resisting or holding on to due to “The FAT Experience” aka feeling Fearful, Anxious and Tense when it comes to being your True Self?  I’m holding on to beliefs that I don’t deserve to “have it all.” I’m holding on to the samskaras/malas of unworthiness and not enoughness (see Module 2 of the eCourse for more on these). I’m resisting some of the love and support available from friends, family and colleagues because of this. Sigh..so there it is.

Sure I know better than to get caught up in these dynamics, but peace is a practice. There’s no autopilot setting for it, no cruise control. I have to consciously return to my breath, my mat, my journal, to nature again and again to remember my wholeness. I share my struggles and allow my humanness to be seen. As we do this for ourselves it helps others do the same and our graceful hearts and sacred bodies can feel light and free as much as possible.

You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. ~Maya Angelou

Feel free to share your thoughts and feelings below! Namaste, Julie

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Do You Have A Dream Too?

“I have a dream…”

-Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

We all know this famous quote. We all know about Dr. King and his courageous work to end inequality. WeMLK all have our own dreams too yet if you’re like most, you don’t believe they are nearly as important as Dr. King’s. Perhaps you keep it hidden or talk about it but never do anything about it. Maybe you think it’s stupid, selfish or unattainable.

I’m not taking about dreaming of winning the lottery and buying a tropical island. Or dreaming of telling off your ignorant boss and walking out. I’m talking about the dreams that are born of your soul. The ones that pull at your heart and keep coming back no matter how hard you try to ignore them. These are the dreams that would change you forever. The ones that would likely require your whole life to change. The ones that would force you to go against the grain and surrender all control.

What’s that dream for you?

My guess is that when you think about your BIG dream all kinds of reasons NOT to pursue it come up. My guess is body image is one of those reasons. You feel too fat to be confident in going after what you want or, and this one really gets me, you don’t believe you deserve your dream because of your body. Perhaps stepping towards your dream would force you to be seen, to be in the light. Scary stuff, right?

Dr. King died for his dream. Many others in history, especially it seems to me, those that were making the greatest change; Ghandi, JFK, John Lennon, Lincoln. Yet, here we sit as western women with all the resources in the world at our feet letting our insecurities, especially about our bodies, keep us from feeding our dreams.

Why?

This is no blame and shame blog. I am busting your chops for good reason. There is an important link to between our dreams and “The FAT Experience” that goes way beyond the superficial fear of “What will people think of me?” At it’s deepest level, the terror we feel around becoming our BIGGEST, truest, most empowered selves is a form of karma.

One meaning of karma is that it’s a pattern we’re born with that we’re here to work out in this life. The core karmic impression that we all carry is one related to this full self-expression. Which is why when you let your whole self free in the world, it is often dangerous. The best example of which is Dr. King and those like him that were killed in the line of bringing their dreams to life. Our bodies have inherited this fear and when we start to awaken, it shows up and if we let it, it shuts us down. Sure this fear can feel as real as someone holding a gun to your head but 99.9% of the time you are 100% safe because it is simply ego dying off as you dare to chose love and service.

It’s also…actually more, dangerous NOT to bring forth your desires. Number one, you will still feel fat because the energy of Shakti is stuck. When we’re not working on healing through our fear, anxiety and tension, we’ll be trying to control it through addictive activities that destroy us. These are also destructive to our relationships, communities and planet.

SO…

How about we go BIG, like Dr. King? How about we stop settling for less, for stress, for pain and work to gain some ground against fear while we’re here. You are a spark of divineness. You are not here to play small. Work with me through Body Karma Healing to change your body image and change the world because your dream matters too.

Aho. Namaste. Amen.

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Overcoming Fear: Beyond The “Just Do It” Mentality

A few weeks ago I booked a session with my colleague and expert in equine collaborated coaching and her stallion Fin. Though I’m a life long horse girl, I’ve always been intimidated by stallions. Male horses whose “packages” have been snipped making them less…well, manly. Though I’m a lover of metaphor I just recently realized an important link to this fear and my personal power. A few days ago I walked into the pasture alone with Fin. See our video below.

I find there’s always a message in our pain and I believe fear is how pain shows itself. Over the years I’ve overcome lots of fears; spiders, swimming (because of sharks, even in lakes and pools), and the dark to name a few. Looking at each of these and what they symbolize helped me discover what I was really afraid of, old hurt within myself that stood in the way of my authentic, empowered self.

Our fears rarely make sense when looked at mindfully. Take my spiders for instance. I’m mean really, aSpider-small spider is tiny yet I used to run from them as if they were axe murderers! I noticed spiders always showed up when I was daring to let intuition guide me or allowing my creative juices to flow. Things that were discouraged or judged in my formative years so I shut them down to prevent rejection. Enter my body image and food battles. Disconnecting from the body protects us in a way but it also contains us. Come to find spider totem represents the power to manifest and the divine feminine energy; Shakti as we call it in yogaland. As I healed and cultivated these qualities within, my fear of spiders faded. Same with sharks, water and the dark. These represent emotion, fierce nurturance, the depths of life. As I learned to embody all of my feelings which required exquisite self-care, those fears softened. When I’m not expressing myself, living with zest or resisting rest when I need it, these fears creep back in.

So what was the deal with stallions and why was I able to face that now? It’s because I’ve recently come more fully into my divine masculine energy; Shiva, the consort to Shakti. Due to daddy issues (no shame or blame here, no one gets perfect parents, it’s part of the human journey) I’ve struggled to trust men in general, but more so the masculine aspect of myself. Most of my life I was comfortable (but frustrated with) men who weren’t able to be 100% available. Within me, the wounds to my masculine side revealed themselves in not being able to show up fully for myself. I struggled with the will to pull things through to completion, especially things that would bring me BIG fun and fulfillment. While I’ve manifested many wonderful things in my life, it’s only now the BIG stuff has taken shape; a deeply present partner, the home of my dreams and the fullest expression of my work.

To feel at home in our bodies and to create the lives we desire, we must overcome fear. Contrary to popular belief, it’s more complex than “just doing it.” It takes self study, “svadhyaya” as we call it in yoga, that is patient and compassionate. Had I approached Fin ungrounded and unbalanced he would’ve sensed that and reflected it back to me through pinned ears and body tension. Because of my work with the divine masculine, I was able to be present with a powerful example of Shiva. In my e-Course we work on these primary energies to bring forth the True You. This is what the path of yoga helps us to do. It gives us the tools to heal our wounds so we can continue to evolve ourselves and our lives which serves all.

PoemBookCoverThe process of consciously overcoming fear is illustrated in my book: Poems From The Path Of Peace Vol.1 available here.

 Practice Point:

Take some time to reflect on theses prompts.What things scare you? What might the things you fear be telling you about your relationship to yourself? Research the meaning behind the things your fear. Embody the emotions that arise as you connect to what you would rather avoid. 

Here’s Fin’s owner Marsha Heiden and I sitting down to chat more about women’s empowerment.

And here’s a free one hour practice you can do with me to support you along the path. Namaste

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What is hope?

My fellow Body Image Gurus over at Eat, Breathe, Thrive asked me on Instagram recently, “What does5397597350_2fba88b7b9 hope mean to you?” Here’s what I replied:

“Hope to me means help. Helping myself, helping others. Hope is holding space for our own sacred hearts to feel through what’s clouding our higher vision. Hope is knowing of the unfolding before we see it, before we feel it. Sometimes hope is all we have…and all we need.”

After posting, a conversation I had with a premier coaching client a few days ago came to mind. Towards the end of our daily dharma call I shared with her that I was feeling hopeful about her recovery. This particular client is currently battling a severe relapse of anorexia. She said, “Don’t worry, I won’t die on you.” My response to her was not what I expected. I replied, “I am not afraid of losing you. I am afraid of you losing everything in your life you care about to your fear.” She replied, I know…and I won’t.

At our live session the next day she looked different, not because she gained weight, but because she had moved through a huge layer of fear during the night. She dreamed, she cried, she journaled and nurtured herself. The clarity the emotional release provided got her reviewing her recovery plan in the morning and reworking places her eating disorder was finding it’s way in and around her desire to thrive.

This is the power of hope.

Share it.

Breathe it.

Be it.

Let’s keep the conversation going. What does hope mean to you?

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Look Who’s Talking!

Do you have a nasty little (or BIG) voice in your head?  I find most of us do.

Studio portrait of woman standing under chalk cloud

Image source: huffingtonpost.com

I was on the phone the other day with one of the most empowered women I know.  We hadn’t talked in a while so there was a lot of ground to cover.  To my surprise our major discussion landed on shame.  You know, that icky “I’m a worthless piece of crap” emotion.  The one that’s right up there with fear and guilt for causing body image to head south real fast.

She shared about being caught in a “shame spiral” because she’s just a stay-at-home mom and not doing more with her business.  I was shocked!  She’s not “just” a stay at home mom.  She’s an entrepreneur with two incredible websites, her own book on mindfulness and several more amazing projects in the pipeline.  All that’s beside the point though.  Even if she didn’t do that work, even if she didn’t create and nurture two magnificent human beings and care for herself, her husband and friends exquisitely, she would still be worthy.  She would still be enough.

Can you relate to this struggle?  I know I can. 

As I walked the next morning I could not help but wonder, who’s voice(s) are we listening to in those moments when we feel ashamed of ourselves, of our lives?  It’s certainly not the voice of our soul. This conversation reminded me of my favorite part in Geneen Roth’s book Women, Food and God.  In her chapter titled Tigers In The Mind, Ms. Roth discusses the inner critic and how we allow it to influence what we believe and how we feel.  She explains that the inner critic is not who we truly are, or what we really believe in our heart’s but that it’s loud, that it “roars like a tiger” drowning out our deeper knowing.  She addresses how the inner critic is born.  My favorite sentiment in the chapter is this, “The inner critic is, in large part, made up of other people’s voices from our past.  Ironically, these are people we wouldn’t even stop to ask for directions today!”

Oh so true…for me anyways.  I walked on and reflected deeper into where the harsh agenda I still carry for myself comes from.  Body wise I’ve done tons of work on this and rarely struggle with painful body image unless I’m not allowing my emotions or creativity to flow.  On my path to peaceful body image I had to acknowledge that the body obsessed females in my family, the boss at my first job who called me thunder thighs, and my horse trainer’s constant weight loss coaxing helped create my “ED (eating disorder) voice” that drove my self-harming behaviors. 

I went through a process of watching those thoughts, following them back to their origin and releasing them back to the people who shared them.  Through what I now understand is the practice of Loving Kindness Meditation, I forgave those folks and focused on loving them and myself.  An important part of this process was feeling through the pain they triggered in me so I could authentically come to a place of compassion.  Only then would the nagging, negative voice in my own mind fade away.

Sometimes we can pinpoint “the voice” to specific influences like in this example.  The tigers in our minds, however, can also be fear-based patterns entrenched in the collective consciousness.  I find this comes up for women who’ve worked their way past self-destructiveness and are in the process of manifesting BIG stuff.  I think this was the “not enoughness” my friend and I were experiencing recently.  You don’t necessarily have to know the source of the suffering.  You must, however, embody your emotions in the present moment and work to heal those wounds and remember your worth.  

The path of yoga guides us in this.  The practice is about mainly about connection and compassion.  In meditation we connect to our thoughts and emotions by “sitting” with them.  This  empowers us to stop being controlled by the compulsions to do, do, do and instead simply be and know that we are whole and worthy regardless of size, shape, weight, achievements, wealth, etc..  Through asana (yoga poses) we ground back into the body where we access our pain and move it through which is ultimately what clears the mind.  Tuning into the flesh turns up the volume of our soul’s song freeing us to be at peace and live our life’s purpose at our own pace.

The next time you find yourself slipping into a shame spiral take a moment to pause, look at who’s talking and nurture yourself back to the Truth; that you are ATMAN-Spark of the Divine baby and you are worthy not matter what.  Here’s some musical inspiration by my friends the Troubadours Of Divine Bliss to help you remember you’re awesomeness.  This whole album is AMAZING.  I suggest gifting it to yourself or a friend.  Check out this clip from Soul Song.

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Harnessing the Power of Full Moon “Madness”

It’s a Monday after a full moon and when I jumped on Facebook this morning there was much to do about “surviving” the full moon.

Full moons are notorious for making people “crazy,” especially women.  This is simply part of our cultural conditioning to fear The Divine Feminine, one of the 2 major energies that fuel the human journey.  The feminine relates to our less logical, more emotional, intuitive and creative sides.  It relates to darkness (moon) energy as well as the water element, things we have also been taught to fear because we can not clearly see in the dark or below the surface of the water.  We must FEEL our way through it.

Many of us wrestle the feminine within because we can’t control her, at least not for long and not without eventually getting “hysterical.”  When we try to contain Shakti, vritti mind (our fearful ego) goes into overdrive making us feel nutty.  This is a longer discussion and one I explain more fully in my private coaching and workshops.  Rather than fight the light of night, you can use the energy of the moon to move you along your healing journey.  If fact, I’ve found it to be essential to truly healing body and food battles.

I’ve written this poem to help you embrace luna.  We most certainly are more sensitive during this moon phase because our pain, our “darkness” is being lit up.  Take this opportunity to look at it, love it, heal it through otherwise it goes back underground to perpetuate Diet Drama and other distractions to your Divine Dharma.

 

Body Karma Healing Prayer
 
Oh Mother Moon guide me,
Help me see into the dark
Hold me tight as I spiral deep into my heart
 
I promise to be brave
Though trembling full of fear
I accept the call of The Feminine
I will listen
I will hear
 
I accept myself in all my power
 I will show it to the world
I trust I am protected by you,
By all the ancestors dancing in your light
 

I’ve partnered with an amazing goddess buddy and put The Body Karma Healing Prayer with an awesome picture of a full moon over the sea to create a prayer card.  Use it to inspire you to PEACE!  Get yours here: Lightworks Wonders.

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