e/u: meditation. mindfulness. equanimity.

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Hibernation

This past winter hit me hard. It was as if the disappearance of the sun had not only taken away any light after 5pm, but also any light in how I looked at life. Everything was heavy and nothing felt right. My motivation for most things barely existed. My practice was slowly disintegrating. I wasn’t focused on anything. I found myself taking things out on people close to me, all the while not telling anyone how I was feeling.

I know 2017 was a hard year for many of us. Personally, a lot of things happened for me. I left the yoga studio I had been a part of for many years. I lost a teacher when Michael Stone passed. I had new relationship hurdles to maneuver. I started into the second year of my acupuncture education. I was doing a lot of deep therapy work. I was still processing 2016. All of this as well as all the socio-political things happening outside of my little sphere.

So what did I do? I went inward and not in a good way. To start with, I let myself get so far deep into my own head that I was running on a loop. I didn’t want to do anything. I felt isolated and lonely. That constant loop of thoughts (something I talk about a lot) was a very deep rabbit hole that I fell down myself.

Sometimes when we think we know better is just the time when things come to remind us… Anything can happen to any of us. Even those who practice most can suffer from the pitfalls that beginners also face. There always seems to be a great equalizer at play somewhere.

Eventually, that awareness we cultivate in mindfulness practice finally started to break through. It became easier to catch myself when I was behaving against my own wellbeing. I was able to recognize the patterns, which I truly think is a first step. If you don’t know what’s happening, how can you break a cycle?

I’ve spent the better part of 2018 trying to break the cycles that 2017 left me staring at. Despite being aware of them, I’m still working through. It isn’t a one time and you’re done sort of thing. Just like in practice when we focus and then get distracted with a thought and have to come back, so is the work to break cycles in our outer lives. It’s the work of attention, fading off, and then coming back.  

The trick is to remember we can always come back, to not be hard on ourselves if we’ve gotten lost in hibernation and thought loops and cycles. It’s just a time to settle into our awareness and allow ourselves the time to do a little work.

 

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About Michael.

I have tried to write this post for some time. I have tried over and over again, actually, to put into words how I have felt since Michael Stone left his body over a month ago. 

I taught a class yesterday where he came up. To be honest, Michael always comes up because he has influenced my practice and teaching so much. I mentioned him and someone asked where he taught. I had to share his passing and feel the little ache of remembering that the world was without him now, at least in the form he was in.

It’s an odd thing to try to discuss grieving over someone that you have never truly met. There were a couple of years when I had thought to go on Michael’s New Year’s retreat, but it never worked out. A trip like that in the winter, finances, etc, all kept me away. “Oh,” I said, “I can put it off another year.” Now there won’t be any retreats with Michael anymore.

I don’t remember how I discovered his teachings. I remarked sometime in the past couple of weeks that he has just always seemed to be there. His podcasts, his online courses, his books, all the ways that he taught through distance, were all important to me. They made it possible for me to learn from him. To be honest, even from a distance, he intimidated me quite a lot. He was so knowledgeable. He could probably cut through my bullshit if he ever set eyes on me, as any good teacher can do.

His teachings were especially important to me given my history with mental health. Ever since I can remember, I have dealt with some form of depression and/or anxiety. As a teenager, I remember trying to ask for some sort of help, but would have to wait until I was in college before that happened. I was put on medication in my freshman year and began therapy. I would spend the majority of a decade on and off psychiatric medication. I haven’t been on medication for quite a number of years now, but the depression and anxiety creep in now and then.

Coming into the yoga world as it is, it seemed like there was never a lot of space for someone who dealt with mental illness. If you’re a yoga practitioner, you are sunshine and rainbows, right? You practice on the beach and your brain doesn’t backfire on you. Admittedly, meditation and yoga has changed the game for me as far as mental health goes, but it doesn’t always solve everything.

I think that’s important for people to remember: it doesn’t solve everything and that’s okay.


Michael was the first person that I really knew of with years-long practice who talked about depression. I was shocked upon hearing it. What? A person who is so learned and practiced can still have this happen to them? It was a relief to hear it. It was important. He didn’t talk about everything, but he talked about enough. 

It seems more and more important now to talk very clearly about the real things in our lives, both teachers and students. Everyone struggles. So often, teachers are put on pedestals as if nothing touches them, but very clearly we are all human. Maybe if we talked more, found other language, found other ways of understanding, Michael would still be with us. 

Now we live in a world without Michael and it is still painful to think about. But he is still teaching, just from a greater distance now. And it’s our job to open up that language, that space, that ability to share and be real with each other. 

The day after they removed Michael’s life support, I woke up with the Heart Sutra in my head. I knew exactly why. In a way, I consider it one of Michael’s parting gifts.

Gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha.

 

I encourage you to read more about Michael's passing here.

Upcoming Classes and Programs

So many good things are on the horizon, including some new stuff! 

 

In May, I'm going to be taking on a handful of clients who may need a little extra help getting grounded in their practice.  If you've had a meditation practice prior and have fallen away from it or perhaps have tried again and again to start one, but have struggled, May is your chance to get one-on-one time and support. There will be weekly one-on-one sessions either in-person (if you're local to Columbus) or over the phone/FaceTime. You'll also get unlimited virtual support and regular check-ins. As always, this is by donation, so don't hesitate to get in touch.  Just contact me for more info and get grounded this May!

 

In June, I'm excited to share the 30 Day Sit program once more. As we normally do, we'll focus on how to start a new practice, establishing the practice habit, and exploring different meditation forms. This time, however, we'll have some added "homework" that gets you outside and takes your practice into the world. This program is really ideal for new meditators, but can also be good for those who have an on-again-off-again practice. Unlike May, this program is a bit less individualized, but I know you'll still find it supportive. More details here: The 30 Day Sit.

 

Other things coming up: 

Walking meditation classes have begun! Check the Events/Classes page for details.   

I'm also excited to start some other seated classes and perhaps a little experiment in loving-kindness out in the world. Check back for more details! 

 

As always, if you have a space or a group who you think would benefit from a meditation class, never hesitate to reach out

 

I hope to spend some time with you in the next couple of months, whether at a class, individually, or as part of the 30 Day Sit. <3

On Seasons and Sessions

I keep joking about this season being the "winter of our discontent." I know I have felt that for myself personally. To some extent, I have been hibernating, waiting for a season of new growth to come out of the dormancy. After the 30 Day Sit ran in January, I have mostly been quiet in the e/u realm. I haven't been seeing clients and have been working primarily to develop my own practice further. 

The good news is that winter is slowly coming to a close, despite the blizzard conditions some are facing this week and the cold that has come back to us here in Ohio. Spring is coming up fast. I am excited about the shift and what it will bring. To support this transition and to bring some of what I've been learning in my own practice into the world a little more, I'm excited to start teaching again. We're going to start monthly walking meditations beginning April 1st (check it out here). I'm also taking on clients again.

Taking on clients? What does that even mean? 

Well... I have opened up my calendar through the end of April (at least) for scheduling individual sessions. My intention is to do these virtually, but if you are local to the Columbus area, an in-person session is possible. My favorite part of the work that I do with e/u is talking to people about where they are and to help them start or expand their meditation practice. I like when we can get into where this practice becomes part of life and helps you where you're at.  But what does that really look like in an individual session? 

I think some people avoid these sorts of sessions because they aren't sure what they look like. Truth be told, they can look like a lot of things. It's really based on what you feel you need. It can be as simple as a chat about what your practice looks like (or doesn't) or it can be time spent in guided meditation together. We can discuss how meditation and mindfulness can benefit you personally or we can discuss the struggles you have with practice. These sessions are pretty open to what you want out of them. I've talked with people about anger issues and how to face them mindfully. There have been discussions of other methods of practice and how to incorporate them. Sometimes people take me up on the option of a guided practice and I love these times very much.

If what I'm talking about sounds intriguing, you can shoot me a message or go ahead and schedule. These sessions are all on a sliding scale and no one gets turned away for lack of funds. This is an important aspect to consider, as I know a lot of people think that these things are out of their price range. Not so, my friends, not so. 

As we start to move toward a new season, I hope you also feel for yourself something shifting in a positive way. And I hope to talk to you soon.