Browsing Tag

animals

Guest Posts, Writing & The Body

Her Own Beast

December 19, 2018
animal

By Natalie Singer

Once there was a girl who had a wild animal. She had never touched the animal but she knew deep inside her body and her soul that it was hers. She didn’t remember when she first understood she had an animal, maybe she was 12 and it was her first summer away at sleeping camp and she stayed in a canvas tent on a metal cot made up with a sleeping bag and old threadbare floral sheets that felt soft when she rubbed them between her fingers with three other girls including one named Frankie who peed her bed. Frankie peed her bed but she also showed the girl how to peg her jeans tight around her mosquito bitten ankles and hide her candy in a lockbox under the cot so the counselors wouldn’t find it and how to whisper late into the night without getting caught while the July rain drip drip dripped on the dirty canvas roof of the wooden platformed tent. Maybe she met the animal then, that summer, at the summer camp in the mountains with the tents among the pines. Continue Reading…

Abuse, Guest Posts, healing

Standing In Truth.

November 8, 2014

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by Jenniferlyn (JL) Chiemingo

“Yoga Sutra 11.36: Dedicated to truth and integrity (Satya), our thoughts words and actions gain the power to manifest.” – Secret Power of Yoga by Nischala Joy Devi

I came to yoga for the physical, but somehow the truth of the practice, the raw honesty it required, snuck up on me. I’ve been a teacher for over twelve years and so many times I watch students come for the body sculpting and walk away when the yoga started to penetrate them—when the yoga started to ask more of them than physical postures.

I would often watch students who were wavering in their practice, knowing they would either choose ‘the path’ or walk away. Once you begin this path of awakening, if you stay, you absolutely have to do the work.

Almost all the classes I teach are wrapped around a theme. So many times, my themes were about truth, about authenticity, about being who you really are and living freely and honestly.

I said all this, I knew all this, and still there was this one lie, a big lie that I hid about myself, about my past. I hid it from my students. I hid it from my yoga colleagues. I hid it from my best friends, from my family members. Only my husband knew and I only told him once.

I was afraid of what others would think of me if they knew the truth. I didn’t want anyone to know, least of all my students. For years it was easy to stuff it away, compartmentalize it, and believe it wasn’t necessary for me to share. I was certain it would hurt my reputation, damage my career. Yoga teachers are held to high standards—and I had to live up to them. I had to maintain my integrity, but was it real without sharing my whole story? Continue Reading…

Guest Posts, healing, loss, love

What My Dog’s Death Taught Me.

November 22, 2013

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By Amy Roost.

Last week, my husband and I took our 13-year old yellow lab, Tiki, to the veterinarian…for the last time.

Ever since she’d been diagnosed with bladder cancer a few months ago, I’d been bargaining with God (I’m not religious, mind you). First, I asked God to allow Tiki to survive until I got back from a trip to Toronto. She survived. Then I asked God to allow her to survive until my oldest son came home from college for fall break. She survived. Most recently, I asked that she be allowed to survive until Christmas when my younger son was due to return home. But as her steady decline quickened its pace it was clear I’d bargained all my chips away and there would be no Christmas miracle. So I changed tactics and selfishly began praying that she would die peacefully in her sleep so that I wouldn’t have to put her down. But she didn’t die in her sleep. Why would she?   Even if her body was was no longer working for her, she loved life too much to give up. But signs that the inevitable was near were there no matter: The click, click, click of her nails as she paced across the the slate tiles in our home woke me night after night; and the fur around her eyes turned dewy as if she was suffering from a fever. And then, despite all my magical thinking and best attempts at praying, she let us know with one large pool of blood-filled urine that there was precious little life left to wring from her body.

My husband and I spread sheets in the back the car and lifted her onto the seat. We drove to her favorite bridle path where we thought we’d take her for a short walk before heading to the vet’s office. However, as soon as she picked up the scent of that old familiar trail, her nostrils flared and she caught her last second wind. We walked nearly a mile, further than she’d walked since 2010 when she blew out her knee chasing a raccoon across our deck. We passed by a corral where we used to stop every day and feed the horses carrots. I clicked my tongue and a black and white mare left her feeding trough to come greet us. I had nothing to offer her and thought as soon as she realized I was empty handed she’d go back to her supper. Instead, perhaps sensing something, she raised her muzzle over the fence and placed it on my shoulder. Leaning the side of her head against my face she breathed a warm, soft exhale onto my cheek and neck. I surrendered into this beast’s tender embrace of my sorrow.

The mare then did something even more unexpected. She raised her head back over to her side of the fence and bent down to where Tiki’s own muzzle was poking through the chain links. She touched her nose to Tiki’s through the fence. Just like God’s finger reaching out for Adam’s, she seemed to communicate, one animal to another, “take this moment, this beauty with you to the other side so that you may remember how good life was.”

Several dog-loving friends advised me to arrange for a home euthanasia but unlike other dogs, Tiki never seemed to mind doctor’s visits. Besides, I’ve been taking my pets to see Dr. Singh since 1997, and he and and his staff were extended family to me.  We were greeted with a sad smile from the receptionist, and Tiki was escorted to her usual examining room. She stood patiently while the doctor felt her bladder. He confirmed we were doing the right thing. As he and his assistant led Tiki out the  exam room to go place the catheter in her leg, my husband silently reached over and took my hand. I sat still, attempting a breathing technique I’d learned from years of practicing yoga, hoping it would help me through what was about to go down.

The assistant returned with Tiki and spread a fleece blanket on the floor. She and I knelt down and Tiki obediently followed my guide to lie down. The doctor came back into the room with two needles, the first containing a general anesthetic, the second a large dose of phenobarbytal which would stop Tiki’s heart. He placed the first needle into the catheter and began squeezing the pink fluid into Tiki’s vein. I thought to myself, “it’s not too late, I can still change my mind!”. Instead I simply cradled Tiki’s head as it slowly descended to the floor. Just as the assistant had warned me, her eyes did not close. I couldn’t bare to watch as Dr. Singh inserted the second needle but I knew he had because Tiki’s amber-speckled, soulful brown eyes began to cloud over. I said aloud to no one in particular, “the eyes are the window to the soul”. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the doctor place his stethescope on Tiki’s chest and listen.

Some time later, a few seconds, an hour–who knows?–I heard the doctor whisper, “That’s it”. With his words, I exhaled, realizing I too had stopped breathing (not exactly the breathing technique I’d been angling for). The room then fell silent and Tiki’s spirit–as evidenced by her fully occluded eyes-left the auditorium.

For the rest of this story, you’ll have to scoot over here a little closer.

Closer still. As if I’m your mother on her deathbed about to whisper my parting words of wisdom. Yes, it’s that important.

Okay. That’s good. Now, listen up:

No one ever waited for an envelope to arrive in the mail. No long-distance lover. No warrior’s child. No one.

What we wait for is the letter. Not the envelope.

As I looked upon Tiki’s motionless blonde fur; her barrel-chested body that once bounded through high chaparral in search of rabbits; as I looked at her sweet face that never growled at the hi-jinks of our two-year-old grandson or winced at the pain I know she’d suffered most recently–what I understood, and internalized for the first time, was that our bodies are the envelope, not the letter.  What made Tiki who she was, a sweet-natured, strong-willed, immensely loving, loyal and constant companion was NOT her body, the envelope, but rather what was inside the envelope. Her spirit…the letter.

You. Yes, YOU. The person sitting right next to me. You are not your Louis Vitton purse, your Brooks Brothers suit, your BMW, your tinted mascara, your low lights, your perfectly sculpted abs or your bulging pecs. That’s all envelope. Okay, so maybe your envelope is velum, or embossed or made of artisan handmade paper. Or maybe it got lost in the mail and your envelope is crumpled and stained around the edges. I don’t know and I don’t care. What the people who know you love, what they enjoy, what they crave, what they will miss when you are gone is the letter. The contents. The meaning. The spirit. The YOU.

 1328_1023322255733_9486_nHer multi-dimensional suchness, Amy Roost, is a freelance writer, book publicist, legal and medical researcher, and vacation rental manager. She and her husband are the authors of “Ritual and the Art of Relationship Maintenance” due to be published later this year in a collection entitled Ritual and Healing: Ordinary and Extraordinary Stories of Transformation (Motivational Press). Amy is also Executive Director of Silver Age Yoga Community Outreach (SAYCO) which offers geriatric yoga teacher certification, and provides yoga instruction to underserved seniors. Click here to connect with Amy.

 

Join Jen Pastiloff in Ojai, Calif this May for a life-changing weekend retreat. May 8-10th. No yoga experience required. Just be a human being.  Click photo to book.   "Here’s the thing about Jen Pastiloff, folks. Here’s the revolutionary thing. She listens. She listens with an intent focus, a focus that follows your words inside you. Because she has hearing problems, she watches your lips as you speak, and she plucks the ash of your words from the air and takes it inside herself and lays it beside her heart, where before too long your words start beating as if they were strong, capable, living mammals. And then she gives them back to you. Boiled down, this is the secret to Jen’s popularity. She can call what she does Beauty Hunting–she is for sure out there helping people find beauty. She can start a campaign called “Don’t be an asshole” and remind us all to stop a second and please, please, please be our better selves. She can use words like attention, space, time, connection, intimacy. She can ask participants to answer questions like What gets in your way? What stories are you carrying around in your body? What makes you come alive? Who would you be if nobody told you who you were? All of that is what it is. But why it works is because of her kind of listening. And what her kind of listening does is simple: It saves lives." ~ Jane Eaton Hamilton.

Join Jen Pastiloff in Ojai, Calif this May for a life-changing weekend retreat. May 8-10th. No yoga experience required. Just be a human being. Click photo to book.
“Here’s the thing about Jen Pastiloff, folks. Here’s the revolutionary thing.
She listens.
She listens with an intent focus, a focus that follows your words inside you. Because she has hearing problems, she watches your lips as you speak, and she plucks the ash of your words from the air and takes it inside herself and lays it beside her heart, where before too long your words start beating as if they were strong, capable, living mammals. And then she gives them back to you.
Boiled down, this is the secret to Jen’s popularity. She can call what she does Beauty Hunting–she is for sure out there helping people find beauty. She can start a campaign called “Don’t be an asshole” and remind us all to stop a second and please, please, please be our better selves. She can use words like attention, space, time, connection, intimacy. She can ask participants to answer questions like What gets in your way? What stories are you carrying around in your body? What makes you come alive? Who would you be if nobody told you who you were? All of that is what it is. But why it works is because of her kind of listening.
And what her kind of listening does is simple:
It saves lives.” ~ Jane Eaton Hamilton.

 

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that's it! Summer or Fall 2015. It is LIFE CHANGING!

Jen Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. Join her in Tuscany for her annual Manifestation Retreat. Click the Tuscan hills above. No yoga experience required. Only requirement: Just be a human being. Yoga + Writing + Connection. We go deep. Bring an open heart and a sense of humor- that’s it! Summer or Fall 2015. It is LIFE CHANGING!