Allie Middleton, JD LCSW E-RYT C-IAYT on Moving From Me to We

In an old and favorite verse from thousands of years ago, the author of the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad IV.4.5, considers this:

You are what your deep, driving desire is.
As your desire is, so is your will.
As your will is, so is your deed.
As your deed is, so is your destiny.

And yet, as we all wonder about the future now, shall we ask each other this next question, “What is OUR collective desire and what shall OUR collective deeds create now?

In my experience over decades as a systems change catalyst and leadership coach, I’ve had the privilege of helping many individuals and teams develop new strategies for high level impact. Whether in business, healthcare or communities, one of my initial questions is, “Who are we really, and what is our work?

Today, this creative inquiry is alive in many contexts as we need to spark healthy ways to co-initiate collective sustainable changes for the sake of global health and wellbeing. How do we compassionately harmonize our minds, hearts and wills for the sake of the planet and others? Or “What is this moving from ME to WE dance all about, and how does sharing our stories help us now?

As the lives of the global yoga innovators reveal in my new book, Yoga Radicals: A Curated Set of Inspiring Stories from Pioneers in the Field, this awareness for the need for change is happening for people around the world on many levels simultaneously: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Their perspectives reflect an opening toward something new, a creative offer that has social impact and provides community healing.

How might we inspire others with creative heart-felt ways to experience and understand this epochal move from ME consciousness, (focus on myself), to WE consciousness, (focus on my community, country and planet)?

Telling our stories is the starting place, as we learn to listen more deeply into the universal (and eternal) creative life force that emerges and encourages well-being for all. Accessing our collective awareness and moving together consciously to create sustainable changes at all levels of organization is essential now.

Like other practitioners in these changing times, I am learning to adapt to the complex personal and planetary issues with curiosity, compassion and courage. At the 2018 International Association of Yoga Therapists Conference I was privileged to co-initiate the inaugural community interest session on Social Activism & Community Healing. At the invitation of Matthew J. Taylor, we convened our session using a Presencing Approach, an interview process combining Joseph Campbell’s hero(ines) journey and an awareness-based prototyping model from the Presencing Institute at MIT. This birthed the interest for a deeper and more expansive exploration.

And now, as I type this, I remember myself in the winter of 2020, commissioned by Singing Dragon Press, to write a book to bring this idea forth! The intention of the book, Yoga Radicals, is to offer a portal of potential for the emerging embodiment community by highlighting some stories and projects that emerged from yoga innovators who have traveled the path of moving from ME to WE. Alas, there are so many more stories to hear we have yet to hear. So little time……

What I learned from each of their stories is that after deep commitment to years of personal practice, something else demanded a listening into the emerging future, a finding of new ways to invoke shifts in their (and now our) deepest hearts’ desires.

We were all in full lockdown mode as I conducted the 36 interviews with these special yoga innovators. The stories of these amazing individuals vibrate at the heart of the Yoga Radicals book. I am so grateful to have had such a deep engagement with each person at such an important time; each working in unique ways to establish the yoga therapy professional space, each offering more embodiment in their personal lives and professional communities. I hope you and many others will enjoy and be inspired by their stories too.

Ancient wisdom traditions from all over the planet remind us that we are all connected, that these practices and an Embodied Presence, or being grounded and at home in our bodies, might enlighten us. Embodiment practices are particularly urgent now as our mother planet earth demands that we learn the dance steps of Reciprocity and Love. The stories from the Yoga Radicals in the book do just that, sharing how each yoga innovator moved from a ‘me’ consciousness to a ‘we’ consciousness. These amazing brave souls share how they created a community healing or social impact project as a result of their long-term yoga and other embodied practices as leaders. I hope the interview process and journey we took together will support others to access to their deepest heart’s intelligence, a true connection between awareness, creativity and action.

An example of this Presencing Approach is to ask now, “It seems we have been initiated into a new future and a new life in these last 18 months, I wonder how you feel a deeper sense of being related to others across time and space? Without physical travel, we’ve had to rely on our other human capacities to stay tuned to our hearts’ desires; even as we navigate this new time together. We have landed in communities of kindreds, in places and spaces where our best dreams of a shared future can emerge. We’re being called forward into a new story. How can we make it a creative one, supporting as many others as we are able in our endeavors to stay healthy and well and safe? How do we embody emergence?

I sometimes simply call this making peace time”, especially when I’m embodying a practice while working with a client, teaching or facilitating a group. I’m finding myself immersed in love now for decades, blessed with a serious leadership coaching practice and capacity to heal in relationship with others. My next book will tell the tale of how my listening at deeper levels has always been the main inspiration for these practices.  For now, I invite you to enjoy these diverse and creative tales that emerged in the hour-long interviews and are now condensed into essential narratives that express how each Yoga Radical followed their own path from ME to WE. May it inspire you to do the same.

In Yoga Radicals, the questions that I’ve asked these amazing pioneers are questions that I live throughout my life, constantly speaking into the future and asking for guidance. When did you learn to trust your creativity and imagination enough to help you through a tough spot? When did you find a special friend who gave you solace in the middle of a storm, as you were on your path of life?

The stories in the book surprise me still and more importantly, now the memory of the deep embodied connections felt in each interview make my heart sing. I hope that readers find their amazing songs inspiring and a way to listen and play with the unending force of creativity and love, which we desperately need on the planet now. Embodying creativity and initiating positive emergence is what we all need now.

Allie Middletons latest book Yoga Radicals: A Curated Set of Inspirational Stories of Transformational Yoga by Pioneers in the Field, was published by Singing Dragon on August 19th featuring inspirational pioneers of yoga, from those with ancient lineage in traditional yoga to innovators in western yoga practice. Click here to purchase a copy.

Georgia Keal: Guided Meditation for Reducing Anxiety – Day Two

This guided meditation helps with reducing anxiety by releasing deep held tension that is created when we get anxious and our body tenses. It does this by shifting the energy from a anxious state to a relaxed one, using guided imagery of the chakras with a compassionate attention, using a focus of loving kindness towards the self. This meditation creates a deep sense of relaxation and reduces held tension to bring about a sense of inner peace and calm.


The Guided Meditation Handbook
Advice, Meditation Scripts and Hasta Mudra for Yoga Teachers
Georgia Keal

Help yoga students to access a deep state of relaxation with this guided meditation handbook. Offering yoga teachers scripts for guided meditations, students can learn how to cultivate positive emotions and let go of negative ones. Including practical information on how to set the scene for meditation in a yoga class, using music, lighting and props, the book also advises on how to introduce a meditation practice to yoga students. It explores the benefits of meditation for people from all walks of life, including sleep-deprived parents and those suffering from post-traumatic stress. Read more

 

Marlysa Sullivan: A meditation practice of inner well-being

Marlysa Sullivan is an assistant professor of Yoga Therapy and Integrative Health Sciences at Maryland University of Integrative Health. She is also adjunct faculty at Emory University in the doctor of physical therapy where she teaches an elective on integrating yoga into physical therapy care. Her research interests have focused on developing an explanatory model of yoga therapy based on philosophical and neurophysiological principles. She is the co-editor of the book Yoga and Science in Pain Care: Treating the Person in Pain (Singing Dragon, 2019).

In this video, Marlysa guides viewers through a meditation practice for inner well-being.

 


 Yoga and Science in Pain Care
Treating the Person in Pain
Edited by Neil Pearson, Shelly Prosko and Marlysa Sullivan. Foreword by Timothy McCall.

This is an integrated approach to pain rehabilitation that combines pain science, rehabilitation and yoga with evidence-based approaches from respected contributors. The book shows how to integrate the practices of yoga and pain science, and promotes the movement to a patient-valued, partnership-based biopsychosocial-spiritual model of healthcare. Read more

Karla Helbert: What is Yoga Nidra? + Guided Yoga Nidra Session

Karla Helbert, LPC, C-IAYT, is a licensed professional counsellor, yoga therapist, Compassionate Bereavement Care® provider, certified Divine Sleep® yoga nidra guide and award-winning author. Her books include Yoga for Grief and Loss, as well as The Chakras in Grief and Trauma, published this year.

In this video, she discusses what yoga nidra is, who it’s for, and how to help students/clients get set up for practice, after which she leads viewers in a guided yoga nidra session.


The Chakras in Grief and Trauma
A Tantric Guide to Energetic Wholeness
Karla Helbert, illustrated by Rachel Rosenkoetter

Exploring the ways in which grief, loss and trauma affect the individual chakras, this book is a tantric guide to working with energy and readdressing the balance of the whole. This is a compassionate approach to dealing with the darkest times of life, with over 100 creative and expressive exercises to help clients find harmony and balance. Read more

Georgia Keal: Guided Meditation for Reducing Anxiety – Day one

Georgia Keal is a British Wheel of Yoga trained yoga teacher and author of The Guided Meditation Handbook: Advice, Scripts and Hasta Mudras for Yoga Teachers (Singing Dragon, 2019). Georgia loves sharing the positive benefits of yoga and guided meditation with her students in her classes in East Sussex. Georgia is also a freelance travel and yoga writer and has contributed to many publications, including regularly to YOGA Magazine.

In this guided meditation you will learn a simple, calming breathing technique designed to reduce any feelings of anxiety by stimulating your parasympathetic nervous system. This is the bodies natural de stress button. We then move on to guided imagery of being on a beach and uses the waves of the sea to help with the sensations of the waves of anxiety that may arise in your everyday life.


The Guided Meditation Handbook

Advice, Meditation Scripts and Hasta Mudra for Yoga Teachers
Georgia Keal
For yoga teachers who want to add a meditation element to their classes, this collection of guided meditations is the perfect resource. It also includes tips on setting the scene for a truly relaxed environment, alongside advice for on how to create your own meditations that can be tailored to the needs of yoga students. Read more

Yoga poses to help prepare the body for sleep

Yoga therapy offers a truly holistic approach to solving the growing problem of insomnia. In her new book, Yoga Therapy for Insomnia & Sleep Recovery, expert yoga therapist Lisa Sanfilippo explains how yoga practices can be used to target the underlying issues that inhibit good quality sleep, with immediate results that build over time.

Honouring a natural yogic and Ayurvedic approach, and infusing it with modern neuroscience, Lisa addresses the deeper emotional reasons for not sleeping well and looks at how lifestyle changes can help to achieve better quality rest. With the body-mind connection at its core, this book shows how to support better health holistically to restore balance in each layer of the body.

In the below video, Lisa demonstrates her favourite yoga poses from a sleep sequence to help you relax and prepare your body for sleep.

 

Continue reading

Treating Emotional Trauma with Chinese Medicine

CT Holman, M.S., L.Ac. discusses what motivated him to write, Treating Emotional Trauma with Chinese Medicine: Integrated Diagnostic and Treatment Strategies.

“Having experienced emotional trauma as a child and as a young adult, I was motivated to delve deeply into the nature of spirit. Beginning with practicing meditation and then going to graduate school for Chinese medicine, the nature of balancing emotions intrigued me and inspired me to further study with several prominent teachers in the field of Chinese medicine and shamanism.

My teachers’ insights provided me with several tools to stabilize patients after they had experienced an emotional trauma. Once their energy was grounded, I could use techniques to soothe the triggering of the trauma memory and address their individual emotional/spirit imbalances. Through working with several patients to resolve emotional trauma, I discovered effective methods to transform trauma and enable the patient to step into their full potential.

After treating patients for emotional trauma for 15 years, I was asked to write a book,  Treating Emotional Trauma with Chinese Medicine: Integrated Diagnostic and Treatment Strategies, detailing the various treatments and self-care methods I utilize in my clinic. The undertaking was a healing one for me and supported me to step more fully into my being.”

In the below video CT describes the etiology and three-staged treatment approach that is described in detail in his above textbook:

CT Holman teaches Chinese Medicine (including facial diagnosis, qigong, shamanic drumming and channel palpation) internationally and operates a thriving general family Chinese medicine clinic in Salem, Oregon, USA. For more information, visit www.redwoodspring.com.

Letting Go of Stress

Practical Zen for Health, Wealth and Mindfulness by Julian Daizan Skinner and Sarah Bladen is the new follow up to Practical Zen, which presents simple meditation techniques to help achieve health, wellbeing and success. We have an extract from the book, in which you can learn what stress is, how you can change your response to stress and how Zen meditation and mindfulness can reduce stress.

 

Click here to read the extract

 

Read more about the book, or buy a copy here.

 

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You may also be interested in…

Practical Zen: Meditation and Beyond

Using a system established by the ancestors of the Rinzai tradition of Zen, this book presents specific meditation practices in a practical and engaging way that will enable readers to live a grounded, strong, energetic life.

Click here to read more about the book.

A Tip for Practicing Meditation to Improve Physical and Mental Wellbeing

The below video tip is taken from Practical Zen: Meditation and Beyond by Julian Daizan Skinner, Foreword by Shinzan Miyamae

Using a system established by the ancestors of the Rinzai tradition of Zen, Practical Zen presents specific meditation practices in a practical and engaging way that will enable readers to live a grounded, strong, energetic life:

To learn more about Practical Zen, visit our website.

 

Breathe in, Breathe out

The practice of yoga has many forms—postures practiced on a mat, intentionally shaping our thoughts and words and actions in ways that are beneficial to us and others, breathing fully most of the time, and working at being our best selves, which is sometimes harder than it may seem. How you create, share, make your space, live, and express yourself on a daily basis, is at the center of the practice of yoga.

By slowing down our breath and observing how we feel (our body, our energy, our state of mind), we can influence how we experience what is happening to us, around us, and discern our role within it. Good, bad, and gray in-between spaces have the potential to become something quite different, depending upon how we perceive them and view them in our mind’s eye, which most often emanates from how we are already feeling (on the inside). Ever notice when you are in a bad mood, it seems like you come in contact with nasty seeming people and other hindrances to your positive progression? Likewise, when you are feeling good, do you notice more people smiling at you when your eyes meet? Are you more aware of the happy coincidences that seem to fall like mountains at your feet?

Have you noticed what happens to your breathing when you are emotionally disturbed—upset, frightened, surprised, unhinged, sad? Often it gets shallow, short, and it can feel like you are inhaling and exhaling jagged puffs of air. Sometimes for a moment or two, you might stop breathing all together, like when you are concentrating deeply or taken by surprise. How do you breathe when you feel restful, relaxed, and carefree? It almost feels like there is an endless supply of air that flows like a gift, like mystery, in and out of your lungs, in and out of your body. Your breath might be slow and long, it might even undulate your belly gently.

When you are distracted or disconnected from yourself—who you perceive yourself to be within your roles, relationships, and responsibilities—there is no way you can relax, get calm, or feel peaceful. At its core, your yoga practice has the potential to connect you more fully to the stillness always inside of you.

Right now, where you are, begin to practice yoga by watching your breath for a few rounds of breathing: inhale, exhale, breathe in, breathe out. Where does your breath move in your torso, your chest, your rib cage, your belly? How does your breath feel as it flows in and out of your lungs? Are you consciously making yourself breathe or does it feel like your body is breathing you? Spend some quality time with your inhalation and exhalation; can you climb on them as they go up and down, can you lift lighter and fly freer?

Now that you’ve spent time observing how you breathe, deepen your breath practice. Try to regulate how your breath flows, affects, and strengthens you with this Three-Part Breathing exercise from Yoga Girls’ Club: Do Yoga, Make Art, Be You.

Three-Part Breathing

  • You will divide your breath into three parts as you breathe into your belly (the bottom of your lungs), into your rib cage (the middle of your lungs), and into your chest (the very top of your lungs). This is a calming breath that you can practice anyplace, anytime.
  • Inflate your belly with breath, count: one, two. With the same breath, expand your rib cage, count: one, two. Same breath, fill (and feel) your chest with breath, count: one, two. Hold your breath in for a count of two.
  • Breathe out from the space of your chest count: one, two. Same breath, knit your ribs together as you empty them of air, count: one, two. Same breath, deflate your belly as you empty your lungs completely: one, two. Hold your breath out for a count of two.
  • For nine rounds of breathing, swell and deflate your belly like a balloon, feel your ribs expand and contract like an accordion, and experience your chest rising and falling like waves in the sea.

Release your influence on your breathing and return to your normal inhale and exhale. Watch your breath (in and out) for a few rounds. How do you feel now; your body, your energy, your mindset? As you practice being in the space of your breath, noticing how it feels, you are nourishing your body and quieting your mind, nothing outside of this space within you is necessary for you to relax, release, and create space for ‘you.’

Tiffani Bryant, PhD, is the author of Yoga Girls’ Club: Do Yoga, Make Art, Be You, an interactive workbook filled with easy-to-follow yoga postures, breathing practices, meditation techniques, and opportunities for self-reflection through making stuff that matters.