Today’s the day! Sacred Balance: Aligning Body and Spirit through Yoga and the Benedictine Way is officially released and available wherever books are sold.
I’d love for you to join me this Saturday, October 17th, EST on Zoom for a virtual celebration and book launch. Together we’ll cultivate balance through a lovely asana and meditation practice inspired by the book, followed by discussion and Q & A. If you’re willing, I’d love for you to briefly share how you practice balance.
See you Saturday!
Oct 17, 2020 10:00 AM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)
I have some good news to share. On October 13th my book, Sacred Balance: Aligning Body and Spirit Through Yoga and the Benedictine Way, published by Broadleaf Books will be released! I’ve spent the better part of the last 18 months writing, and then recovering from writing, this book. Studded with illustrations of basic yoga poses and ideas for wellness, prayers, and meditations, this book offers principles and practices that guide us toward peace and wholeness.
Fall is such an auspicious time to publish a book about balance because more than any season, fall invites us into the dynamic relationship between harvest and release. We reap what we’ve sown while letting go of the efforts and even the fruits of our efforts. We celebrate fullness even as the earth turns toward a sort of dying. Dynamic relationship is at the heart of balance.
Here is an excerpt from Chapter 1:
“In the earliest days of grade school we learn our primary colors: red, yellow, blue. Then the secondary colors: green, violet, orange. Next we learn that the primary and secondary colors complement each other: red and green, yellow and violet, blue and orange. Placed next to each other, complementary colors each enhance the hue of the other, creating a sense of equanimity. Color is waves of light. Modern physics has shown that light is both a particle and a wave—steadiness and movement. The equanimity we feel when complementary colors are next to each other is the resonance of particles and waves in harmonious action.
We often envision balance in terms of a balance beam scale—one of those old-time scales with the single horizontal beam from which two trays hang. When the objects in each tray are of equal weight, the scale is in balance. While this may be true for purposes of measurement, it is unhelpful and perhaps even harmful to think of balanced living in terms of a scale. When we conceptualize balance in this way, we risk stasis and perfectionism. Life is not static. We are always growing and changing in response to circumstances and relationships. Perfection is an insidious and unattainable goal, defined by subjective externals, rather than an enthusiastic exploration of the fullness of our humanity.
Instead, I prefer to think of balance in terms of color theory. Harmony and wellbeing is found when the particles and waves—the steadiness and the motion—of our lives amplify or counteract each other. Balanced living is not found in the mere elimination of one color or the addition of another. Balanced living is found in the conversation between the color that is already there. It is the dialogue that matters.
When we feel overexcited, overworked, worn down, or depleted, we know something is out of whack. Some part of our daily routine is dominating the conversation. All too often the stresses of life—the demands of work and family, the bombardment of media, the countless messages about being more successful or productive—drown out the quieting voice of the heart longing to be heard. Sacred balance is restored through practices that promote an interior and exterior orientation toward God—the Ground of Being from which health and wellness springs. The interior orientation includes our priorities, attitudes, and values, which drive our external actions. Our external actions nurture and grow our healthy inner selves. We cannot have one without the other.
I see Benedictine spirituality and yoga as complementary colors, each with its own hue and vibrance.”
I’ll be holding a virtual launch on Saturday, October 17th from 10-11am via Zoom. Register for the launch here . I’ll be coming to you live from the mountains (outdoors if it’s not raining). Together we’ll cultivate balance through a lovely asana and meditation practice inspired by the book, followed by discussion and Q & A. If you’re willing, I’d love for you to briefly share how you practice balance.
(On Pentecost – for the Generations of Slaughtered and Oppressed)
You shouldn’t have to shout to be heard.
I will be quiet.
You shouldn’t have to speak time after time after time.
I will be your voice when you want to rest.
You shouldn’t have to state the obvious that your life matters.
And that it is in danger.
You shouldn’t have to say, “I forgive you,” to those of us
trying to do better.
You shouldn’t have to endure.
You’ve already pointed the way.
God of unchanging love, kindle in me the willingness
To be disrupted, the energy and courage to act, the grace
To make mistake after mistake after mistake
So others may know peace.
God of comfort and God of disturbance, make me worthy
Of my pretty words.
Hello dear friends,
There are pieces of paper all over my house, stuck in the desk drawer and various books and sections in my planner with short lines, notes to myself about some profound essay I want to write about this pandemic. There’s the personal angle, “I don’t want to go back to normal. Normal wasn’t working. Normal will never come back. We are all going to be changed. I hope anyway. I hope I learn something and change. How will I change?”
The parenting angle. “We are NOT OK! (Yes, we love having more time with our kids, its precious AND we are not ok.)
There’s the social justice angle. “This pandemic exposes yet again the disparities in access to health care, and ‘good outcomes’, social support and economic privilege, that run sharply along the divisions of race, class and martial status.” And “How are we profiling people in masks? Are Asians paranoid? Black men up to no good? Are you sick?”
The ecological justice angle. “The Earth is so happy! They sky is so clear and air so fresh. Can all this finally help us, help me, address climate change?”
Then there’s the spiritual / religious angle that runs akin to the aforementioned personal angle, “We are an Easter people. Resurrection is transformation.” (I swear I thought of this before my rector said it.) “Lament is a sacred tradition. Don’t dismiss or bury your feelings. Don’t let your optimism hurt others. Don’t try a spiritual bypass.” “Now is the time for Benedictine steadiness and conversion. Stand in this time, these feelings, this unknown and grow even if, especially if, you do not know what direction that will take.”
So many thoughts and emotions. Which is, I suspect, exactly where you are too. No conclusions, no inspiration beyond responding to the circumstances of each day with as much breath and patience and love as possible held in conversation with tension, anxiety, and overwhelm.
And this. Yoga, art, books, television. And poetry, which seems to be how I spill out emotion these days. So here’s a little poem followed by a restorative pose I recently learned from Amy Ippoliti’s newsletter. May it feed you well.
What I won’t do on the Sabbath.
I can tell you what I won’t be doing tomorrow.
I won’t be checking social media.
I won’t be going to church, in person or online.
I won’t be sitting in front of the TV all day
Or washing floors or cooking elaborate meals.
I won’t be catching up on email.
I’ll try not to have a to-do list of relaxing activities.
I might dig in the dirt or paint a pot.
I guarantee I’ll look at the sky.
I might walk in the woods.
I hope I remember to build a fairy house and say a prayer.
If I had any confidence I’d sketch something beautiful.
Maybe I’ll call a friend.
I’d like to write an essay.
I want silence or an audiobook – or a real book.
I’ll drink my tea without doing something else like reading or working.
Just me and the tea and a window.
I’ll give space for fear and grief and exhaustion to
Come out of confinement and manifest as simmering pain in my bones.
Tomorrow I will practice social resistance through rest.
Or maybe, one day, perhaps tomorrow, I’ll expect less of myself.
Delightful Restorative Pose
This little bit of deliciousness is perfect for when you need to rest, or when you want to nap but your nerves are too jittery to let you sleep. It’s also good for whenever the mood strikes you. It’s pictured using a chair and yoga props and can just as easily be done using the couch, a belt, and a pillow or stack of blankets.
You will need:
Chair, 2 – 3 blankets, Bolster (or a firm pillow or several folded blankets to make a stack), a strap
Be well, my friends, in whatever way that looks like to you.
Photos © Melinda Emily Thomas