Tag Archives: Gratitude

“wow! what a class!” – Healthy Lymph Workshop Feedback and Afterthoughts

icybrookandmossyrocks1jan2012
lymph (lĭmf) n.
2. Archaic A spring or stream of pure, clear water.
[Latin lympha, water nymph, from Greek numphē, young bride, water nymph.]
bro͝ok
noun
a small stream.
“wow! what a class! Brooke, that was an amazing workshop… I left feeling that I wanted to go to a few more lymph workshops, or a series so that I could integrate this practice more into my own daily life. I really felt that I didn’t know what I was there to learn, that I was following an intuition to be there, and that I was generally disconnected with my lymphatic system, poor overlooked and overworked system, no more! Whatever happened in there was kind of mysterious… The exercises were subtle and yet I felt worked. I went really deep in the savasana, I felt so much more integrated with all levels of being: physical, mental, emotional and the subtle body. Thank you for all of the print outs, I had no idea that there is such a subtle intercellular path for clearing toxins.
Thank you for helping us to awaken our lymphatic systems and for awakening us to supporting it. You inspire me!” -JH

I have just discovered a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson called The Brook. It is about the transience of human life and the eternity within which life flows.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5L0ih3RLjw

The Brook

I come from haunts of coot and hern,
I make a sudden sally
And sparkle out among the fern,
To bicker down a valley.

By thirty hills I hurry down,
Or slip between the ridges,
By twenty thorpes, a little town,
And half a hundred bridges.

Till last by Philip’s farm I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

I chatter over stony ways,
In little sharps and trebles,
I bubble into eddying bays,
I babble on the pebbles.

With many a curve my banks I fret
By many a field and fallow,
And many a fairy foreland set
With willow-weed and mallow.

I chatter, chatter, as I flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

I wind about, and in and out,
With here a blossom sailing,
And here and there a lusty trout,
And here and there a grayling,

And here and there a foamy flake
Upon me, as I travel
With many a silvery waterbreak
Above the golden gravel,

And draw them all along, and flow
To join the brimming river
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

I steal by lawns and grassy plots,
I slide by hazel covers;
I move the sweet forget-me-nots
That grow for happy lovers.

I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance,
Among my skimming swallows;
I make the netted sunbeam dance
Against my sandy shallows.

I murmur under moon and stars
In brambly wildernesses;
I linger by my shingly bars;
I loiter round my cresses;

And out again I curve and flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

Alfred Lord Tennyson

“Gratitude for you…this is the most profound medicine I have ever experienced.”

SubstandardFullSizeRender
Hi Brooke,
Thanks for today’s session.  And thanks for taking such good care of JT, he felt really nurtured and safe.  We both needed that.
I’m bummed that I will be missing meditation tomorrow night.
I’ve been wanting to share with you how profoundly restorative yoga has affected my life and well being, and to share my gratitude with you for offering this, and being willing to do the ground-breaking work.  Thank you!  You are so beautiful!
I have been incorporating some of the soul and body nourishing techniques that you shared with me on our individual session.  I will never forget that night, the deep peace I felt inside me.  I have a little altar at the door, with flowers from the garden that I had not “bothered” to bring inside since I see them out in the garden.  But it has been transformative to bring some beauty into my home.  I have some beautiful things that I have gathered, crystals and shells and things that I leave there.  And I light a candle to offer prayers.  It has transformed how I feel in my home, grounded and at peace, not restless, like I should be outside working.  Tending to my little altar helps to calm the voice of criticism I have had about my housekeeping habits.
I’ve also been practicing some meditation and gratitude prayers in the morning, waking up just before sunrise.  I have felt recently uninspired and unmotivated, and waking up after a solid night’s sleep just feeling unrested, but mostly uninspired and unmotivated.  And I’ve listened to the voice in me that says that sunrise is the medicine I need.  So I’ve been going up the hill behind the tiny house and sitting in the chaparral listening to the bird’s morning chorus and giving my gratitude, trying some affirmations and short meditations, including breathing techniques and mudras, and journaling.  When I finish this practice I feel at peace and full of gratitude, and inspired and energized.  I am so grateful to have so many tools to connect me to the present moment, and the peace that can be found there.
JT and I have both been enjoying the warm oil self massage, what a nurturing practice, and with the amount of time we spend in the elements we both immediately felt the energetic shielding or buffer from exposure, and the ability to tend to the inward calm.
In combination with the restorative yoga postures and the beautiful, safe and nurturing space that you create at the yoga center, this is the most profound medicine I have ever experienced.
I did want to write something that you could use on your website as well.  “With Brooke’s gentle guidance, I have come to know a profound peace within my body.  I am deeply grateful.  Restorative yoga is the most holistic medicine I have ever experienced.”
Congrats on your presentation and the amazingly supportive response you got in funding!  I am so grateful to be one of your guinea pigs 🙂 I’ll be seeing you soon and often!
Much love and peace,
J
August 11, 2015
AUM peace AUM

Yoga, Mental Illness and Summertime Fun

10407364_10153016566127264_254759281459348396_n

“Mental illness” is not my favorite term to use as a Yoga therapist or as a peer in recovery. I prefer “behavioral health,” “mental health issues,” “mental health” or “mental wellness.” Affirmations are powerful medicine, and a fundamental pranayama practice. Thoughts are energy, and every little bit adds up.

People identify with the term “mental illness” in our culture, as a label and as something to fear. As I move through the world as an advocate, researcher, teacher and friend, I recognize more and more that mental illnesses are the norm, and that behavioral health issues affect everyone. Values, ethics and relationships define our behavior. We need models, and Yoga and 12-Step Recovery offer structure, community and best practices to improve our health and our lives.

As a presenter at The International Association of Yoga Therapist’s Symposium on Yoga Therapy and Research last month, I was moved to receive feedback all weekend on the impact of my twenty-minute talk. Over and over, people approached me and said, “My mother…”, “My son…”, “My father…” Mental health affects us all.

Other take-aways from the conference:

  • Yoga is strong, slow medicine.
  • I will likely be going to India to understand the full context of Yoga Therapy, to continue mental health research for bipolar disorder and personality disorders
  • Even famous Yoga therapists are people, too
  • Friendship happens when vulnerability trumps ego

The name “Genevieve Yellin” kept surfacing at the conference as I spoke of developing a Yoga Therapy for Bipolar Disorder program to other participants. She has spearheaded the Overcome Anxiety Project, incorporating Yoga and mindfulness into an online program accessible to anyone for mental health relief. I was able to speak to Genevieve last week. She was very generous with her experience, with business information on how her programs have achieved success and with encouragement – because pioneering this field is overwhelming due to the sheer need for services. I love my colleagues who run with me in the spirit of collaboration. It takes sincere self-study to not feel threatened by our peers. We must continue our personal practices to be able to embrace one another with integrity for the greatest good of all.

Tomorrow, I leave for Southern California to attend Part 2B of Warriors At Ease Training for Yoga and Meditation Teachers in Military Communities. I will be graciously hosted by the owner of the studio where training is to be held, at jabulaniyoga, Jill Manly. Our trainer and facilitator, founder of Exalted Warrior Foundation Annie Okerlin, and a woman flying over from Okinawa, Japan named Faith will also be boarding at Jill’s. This promises to be a rich weekend.

I continue to teach classes, workshops and individual clients in private practice this summer. Jumping on the momentum post-SYTAR,  I have written the editor of Yoga Therapy Today to summarize my IAYT SYTAR presentation; I am communicating with The County of San Luis Obispo Behavioral Health Program Director, Judy Vick, to promote further Yoga programming for mental illness recovery, behavioral health wellness and research; I applied as a presenter to The Alternatives Conference in Memphis in October, 2015; and I continue to practice self-care in the face of personal health issues and relationships with others who live with and without mental health diagnoses and symptoms.

11101507_10206787010332220_2539681400186675415_n

The “Fare Thee Well” Grateful Dead concerts this Independence Day week were moving for me. My sister, D’Arcy, and I loved The Grateful Dead and I am sure that she was singing along over the rainbow with hundreds of thousands of Dead fans, here and beyond, who appreciate peace, love, colors, roses and sound therapy. I danced next to a gentleman who works at Atascadero State Hospital, and he gave me names of a psychologist and a psychiatrist interested in mindfulness therapies. You never know who you might meet on Shakedown Street.

AUM

Certified Yoga Therapist! International Presenter! Archangels!

Door to St. Francis Chapel, Crystal Hermitage, Ananda Village, Nevada City, CA. Photo Brooke West

Door to St. Francis Chapel, Crystal Hermitage, Ananda Village, Nevada City, CA. Photo Brooke West

I have been certified as an Ananda Yoga® Therapist, the fifth student of one of only a few schools on the globe accredited by The International Association of Yoga Therapists to train Yoga therapists under strict standards.

I traveled north to teach classes at Dev Prayag Yoga Therapy in Nevada City, California and to visit Ananda and meet with a couple of my teachers, including Mangala Loper-Powers, the Director of Ananda Yoga Therapy program at The Ananda School of Yoga Meditation. I had no idea that I would be certified, but I should have when my car broke down on I-5 on my journey north.

Premonitions told me to buy Jesus stickers from the 50 cent machine at the Mexican restaurant and put them on my eighteen-year old car as protection and prayer for this trip. I had Doreen Virtue’s Archangels and Ascended Masters book on my passenger seat. One thousand yards from the off ramp at Westley, a town where I like to gas up because Sikhs live there and they sparkle at me when I stop in the Chevron, the radio blinked off, then the Check Engine light went out – for the first time in two years, a very bad sign – then the air conditioned turned warm and humid, and my car began to lose power. Then the phone rang. My friend, Francis. He stayed on the phone with me. The hazard button was useless, and I rolled off the highway to the Chevron station. I mindfully kept the engine running, was sent to the Truck Stop Tire place, who’s Sikhs sent me to Precision Diesel, a ramshackle junkyard with a pit bull and a Rott.

There, after getting off the phone with Francis and being first shooed away and then charmed by my Yoga calm, my car was inspected, an alternator was ordered and, for the cost of the part plus thirty bucks labor, my car was served by the dirtiest, oilyest men in the grittiest wind tunnel above Interstate 5 that you have never, ever noticed. Angels work there.

11187330_10205455549260993_2515562914975694725_o

Hands of Sam, Angel Mechanic. Westley, CA. Photo Brooke West

I have been ushered toward the acts and practices of becoming a Certified Ananda Yoga Therapist in myriad, miracle ways. This latest folly was only a reminder that there is a bigger force working through me to bring healing energy and light by way of Yoga to the world. All I need to do is my part: have faith, keep meditating, and don’t give up.

That was Thursday.

On Sunday morning, I awoke among the pines in Nevada City to an email from The International Association of Yoga Therapists:

Dear Brooke,
One of the presenters in Common Interest Community (CIC), session 2, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Health, is unable to attend the conference. As the second alternate for this session, I would like to offer you the opportunity to present the talk you submitted.

I immediately walked down to the road where cell reception was better, and accepted! I am so thrilled, this is the culmination of four years of efforts. Presenting at The Symposium on Yoga Therapy and Research is a privilege and an honor.

Then later that day, Mangala scurried me off to the new St. Francis Yoga Therapy Center at The Expanding Light at Ananda Village, hashed out two hours of my unfinished homeworks and cut me a certificate with modest, but sincere, pomp and circumstance.

11163244_10205478193507085_3274761769844451682_n

Iris and tulip, Crystal Hermitage. Photo Brooke West

On my way south, I stopped at Precision Diesel. Sam wasn’t around, but I left him a gift: one of those seven-day Jesus votives with the image of Archangel Raphael, protector of travelers, on it and a copy of The Autobiograpy of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda. Sam looked quite like the angel on the candle, actually…

10959052_10205542610117460_3488662930080135244_o

International Bipolar Foundation Original Blog: Yoga Philosophy for Bipolar Disorder 101: Part 2, Satya

Please visit The International Bipolar Foundation to read the second installment of my series of blogs on the Yamas and Niyamas.Honesty

Check out World Bipolar Day on March 30 and look for my picture and meme!

http://ibpf.org/blog/yoga-philosophy-bipolar-disorder-101-part-2-satya

…may I ask what you experience while teaching?

th_009

Credit Maxfield Parrish

From an email received March 1, 2015:

Yogini Rishi,  much appreciation for illustrating the practice of Ahimsa…My thirst for this practice at an experiential level is being quenched.
I am experiencing cumulative benefits from practicing while you guide your classes,,.As I should be;-)))
…may I ask what you experience while teaching?
I am asking because I have yet to teach an active meditation. (Obviously:-)) I know each of us have unique experiences and the whole of the practice is still unified.
As teachers, we understand and appreciate the vital benefits of regular yogic group practice.Therein lies the pathway for individuals to comfortably integrate deeper levels of consciousness into their unique personal daily activity.
Equally interesting is the exponential effect of group meditation with it’s ability to raise the level of collective consciousness within societies.
When we gather together in a group meditation that practice alone, and in and of itself, contributes to the elevation of collective consciousness. This in turn opens the door for all to play within the field of all possibilities.
  -Om Namaste
-MJB
 ~~~~~
Thank you for your beautiful interpretation from the mat, MJB.

It is difficult – impossible, really, to describe what it is like for me to teach meditation.

You know when you speak to an innocent 5-year old child and they ask, “What does that word mean?” and you are able to give them a very good description of what the word means, from your own heart, knowing that eventually they will come up with their own personal context and interpretation with time and experience? It is from that same wisdom, humility, surrender and joy that I teach meditation.

Without my own teachers and practice, I would not be able to guide students.

There is a releasing effort (which is a paradox) when I teach. Some call it “becoming a channel,” a practice of getting “out of the way” to let the Higher thing through, without attachment, with moderation (bramacharya) while doing my very best, staying focused and wanting to lead people through the Yamas and Niyamas to get to the final Niyama, ishwara pranidana: Surrender to the Divine.

You are Divine. Once you are comfortable, you can remember (smriti) your oneness with Divinity, including peace and wisdom and calmness and joy and love and be that in a state of relaxed awareness of those aspects of God. Ahimsa (non-animosity) and satya (truthfulness) are the foundations to ultimately achieve ishwara pranidana.

My classes have an intended pace. I believe that the way that I speak (my tone and choice of words) and the rhythm with which I instruct affects the heart rate in a therapeutic way. The group becomes unified on a physiological level – much like they would in a more actively physical and synchronized group Yoga class. This style of Yoga that I teach (Raja Yoga) is effective on a more subtle level than the average group Yoga class. This brings us to “meditation,” having withdrawn our senses from the world with the lead-up techniques that I impart.

Teaching Yoga and meditation is a personal practice – though not my sole or primary practice – which I take seriously. My entire lifestyle aims to support the focus that I bring to each class to guide chelas (students) in their own practice. When I eat, what I eat, my sleep hygiene and the quality of my personal relationships all have an effect on how well I can guide students to calmness.

Yoga is fractal experience and everyone benefits from meditation in groups with those less practiced and more practiced than them. In this way, we evolve one another.
This email has encouraged me to pursue teaching healthy meditation more regularly. Thank you for the inspiration!
In Joy

Fresh Testimony Rolling In

parrish02

Maxfield Parrish

20 February, 2015

Brooke,

I am so pleased to have been introduced to you and your fine restorative teaching skills.  I have been doing yoga for a good part of the past 17 years, and your class takes me on such a deep, inner journey.  I so appreciate your skills and wanted to personally thank you and express my gratitude.

-C.S.

Yoga Teacher Trainee