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The morning cry.

February 27, 2015

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Each morning I cry.

Sometimes I cry because I am an empath

And I feel the weight of the world on my chest.

Heavy

Hard to breathe

The energetic pull

Of overcoming mass fear, hate, and greed.

humanity evolving,

planet saving type shit

Blooming is painful.

But sometimes I cry for more earthly,

Subjective reasons

like:

The love sickness.

Can’t eat,

Only wanna sleep.

You know when you go over a bump really fast and you get that feeling in your belly and chest?

I have that all day-bouncing in between feeling love

and feeling rejection.

Why did he open me up to run away?

If he wanted me,

He would be with me.

And he’s not.

The morning tears wash

Cleanse

My soul pours out.

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Help the Philippines

November 12, 2013

Wanna help the Philippines?

Live mindful of your carbon foot print, and how you contribute to/affect climate change. The Philippines gets hit every year with a rainy season, the storms get worse and worse because of climate change. You can do a million small things everyday to help. (http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/wycd/)

You could also pray. My girl Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151814545898635&set=a.391385543634.168955.29996683634&type=1&theater

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Put your left hand over your heart, your right hand over a picture of the Philippines, or a map…. take one deep breath and send love and healing from your heart through your hands to the islands.

If you want to send aid, check out this blog (http://blog.unipronow.org/?p=1043) for options. I support NAFCON (http://nafconusa.org/2013/11/1060/). 

My body.

October 28, 2013

My grandma** says “you do so much yoga, why aren’t you losing any weight?”

I feel my body has changed drastically. What a change that is, to actually feel my body, I feel it. I feel the curves of it and feel what I carry. I feel the sexy, graceful, womanly parts of my body. This feeling came over time and effort. It took a lot of pain and hard work to heal for me to feel beautiful. It is one thing to feel your body form the outside in. The surface of it only going inside for pain. It is another thing to feel it from the inside out. The deepest energetic center(s) of your body. Tuning into the bones and muscles and organs. The processes. All of those things working together to create embodiment.  Illness is manifested with awareness. Disease becomes just that dis-ease of the flow of your body. It’s a different way of looking at things.

So I say to her “Gram, this is my body. This is the way it is. I am built muscular, wide, low to the ground.” No, I haven’t really lost weight, but anyone who has known me over the years can see change, I think? Do I even care what they think, I FEEL change.

I go on to say “I have a fatty lower belly. It’s one of my telling parts; I hold the moon in it.”

I could sense that comment made her nervous, she said intensely, “you have to lose it!.”

That just seems silly. Why would I want to lose something so important to me? Maybe tune into it deeper. Tone it. But it’s not something I want to burn or cut away or lose.

She said, “if you ever get pregnant it will hang to the floor.”

ouch. I always pictured myself and adorable pregnant woman, because im already kinda shaped like i am pregnant. I have actually been mistaken for pregnant a couple times, i have skinnier legs and arms, and a fuller torso. I never feel offended when it happens. The person that asks me is always mortified. I never pictured being pregnant the way my grandma did and in that moment, it hurt.

I asked her, “What is that? That need to look a certain way.”

She told me stories of how when she was a young woman her male gynecologist used to give her diet pills. Basically crack.

I said, “They had no idea.”

She said “they had every idea. It was money for them.”

She told me about the different colors and which ones you were supposed to take throughout the day. She told me “it worked, but I was scrubbing walls at 2 a.m.”

She told me that my grandmother on my grandfather’s side was as tall as she was wide. And on my Filipino side, we are not known for our height or length. So why would I ever think I should look long and thin and “model-like?” I told her I wondered what her mother looked like, she was adopted so none of us know. She said somebody was short, her twin brother was only 5’6″. All things add up to short and wide 🙂

But as I have grown into a woman, I have seen her and my mother hate their bodies, their goddess-given bodies.

As a human race, we needed to experience the darkness in order to experience the light.  The darkness makes space for the light. We are truly evolving. I had to watch my grandmother and generations of women hurt and hate in order to learn to love and accept. As I heal myself, I heal the same pain they felt. And younger women are going to see me and hopefully know another existence (one of true love and appreciation for embodiment) is possible.

There are men out there, and women (ex. Maria Kang), who require a woman’s body to look a certain way in order to be considered “worthy” or “healthy”.  They consider any bit of extra as laziness and over-consumption. (I think they over consume the gym, like I over-consume dairy free ice cream).

Those people make it hard for 95% of the female population to exist, freely. The socially created ideal is fading as we keep fighting for freedom within our own bodies. This ideal of what you are supposed to look like is just used to control you. It was implanted in you through media and marketing, it’s nonsense and truly counter-productive to your wellness. The hate you feel for yourself is profit-driven. Someone wise once said something like “Imagine how many companies would go out of business of women just decided they loved their bodies.”

Health is relative. People are like trees. Some are tall, some are short. Some are wide some are narrow. Some are dark some are light. Some have bumpy bark and others are smooth. Some live long, some die soon. Some have a ton of leaves others have none. Some are dark colored, some are light colored.

We do not choose which tree produces the oxygen we breathe. We rely on ALL trees. The same goes for love and people. We do not choose the people that love us, or the people we love; yet we rely on love to sustain us.

Hug all trees. Hug all people. Embodiment needs to be celebrated, not hated. Image

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**I love my grandmother and would never hate her for the way she judges my body.

Happy Halloween

October 8, 2013

Happy Halloween

in the spirit of halloween i offer this meme. what a great example of an ugly and habitual thought patterns of people who are privileged. yes, some people are lazy. but the system is broken in a way that even the hardest working people cannot gain financial or material wealth. if hard work was indicative of wealth and access to opportunity, every single mother in africa would be a billionaire. let’s stop playing the blame game and could/would/should game and focus on real solutions. check out what sweden and iceland are doing to achieve equality. no i am not versed on economics and I am not capable of fixing anything that is really broken by myself. i am only a vessel of hope, begging you to expand and love, always wanting to come together with people that care about sustaining humanity and not accumulating/sustaining financial or material wealth. chasing money power and sex is no way to live. judge and be judged.

 

And while we are on the topic of halloween, I have to say how disturbing it is to me to see my friends dress up as pregnant cheerleaders. One of them male, one female (who is actually pregnant). If either of them knew a teenager who became pregnant in high school, understanding the challenge that is, they would not be making fun of the situation. But I guess that is what halloween is for here in america, making fun of things that scare the fuck out of us. In addition, the mass poisoning of children with free sugar at every doorstep.

I prefer halloween to be a time where we honor our ancestors and those who have passed. One of my favorites, Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes: “To love our ancestors is to know ourselves. Often our ancestors come to visit us in dreams… to remind there was a time when most everyone was a healer, musician, maker, midwife, knower of the animals, prayer of prayers, singer of song, dancer of dances, buriers of the dead, guests at the wedding.

Dia de los muertos is upon us, the remembrance of our ancestors. To each her own way, to each his own way… to remember… is to know oneself far far FAR beyond this modern world alone.”

Happy Halloween!!

“get published in a national magazine”….check.

October 8, 2013

The magazine Origin is one of my material pleasures. The magazine lady at the store knows to find me if she is putting a new one on the shelf. On their facebook page the one day, they invited us to post a picture and tell them what self-love means to me.

So I posted this picture and wrote.

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Self love is practicing and not giving up on myself. It is failing and laughing. It is succeeding and crying. Making time for self love nurtures my soul; empowering me to be fully present, and grateful, with every breath. 

They wrote to me and told me they would like to have me in their magazine! Wow.

The email went on to say that I needed a high resolution photo and 50 words of what self love means to me. This is where the process got interesting.

I am grateful for the opportunity. I did a happy dance the moment I found out. I truly love myself, which inspired me to post to the facebook wall. I love that pic and the moment of the epic fail. Iyengar yoga with chairs is weird for me, and it apparently scares my teacher when I practice it. I can’t figure it out, I always end up on my ass..It was this practice in failing, epically, and publicly, to realize that I can laugh about this and love myself through an embarrassing (body conscious/ body dismorphic) moment. It may seem insignificant to those that do not deal with body image issues, but I know there are more of you out there than there are not.

When I found out the pic was not suitable for publishing, I went into a panic. I have to take a new pic?!, ugh, my least favorite thing to do. I love beautiful pictures of myself; I just do not know how to get them. All the great pictures of me were captured in moments. Or maybe they only seem great to me because of the moment attached?

My teacher offered to take a few pictures after our class . We re-enacted the chair seen, but it was not real. And she took some pics of me outside.( On the first day of spring in freezing weather.) I rushed through it partly because I hated every moment of it, and partly because it was my aunt’s bday, (who I share nannying duties with) and I was due to relieve her. I was present through it, and I wasn’t trying to make myself LOVE it. But it was rushed, and i didn’t love it, and it is not how you are “supposed” to treat an opportunity like being in a magazine.

I almost didn’t submit because I was not happy with the pictures my teacher shot of me. She took excellent pictures, and even had input from a fellow yogi/photographer who was there (thankful to him too) But the pictures didn’t please me. It doesn’t capture me practicing amazing asana, it doesn’t make me look slim, i have no make-up on (not even chapstick). I was choosing to see all the bad things.

But the pictures are of me, and I am beautiful. Full circle.

The moral of my story is that, self love is a process. I am fighting a war with the self destructive, negative, self-deprecating, parts of me. And the light warrior in me will win.  I’m not sure these shadowy parts of me will ever go away completely, I kinda don’t want them to. They are a part of me. But they do not have to run the show. Even tho I went through the whole process of feeling a lack of love and respect for myself, in the end I still made the positive choice.

These shadows were passed down through generations of women who were told to hate their mysterious and diverse bodies. I don’t ever remember one of my matriarchs ever looking me in the eyes and telling me to love my body. My white side is obsessed with being tan, thin, and perfect. While my Pilipina side is obsessed with being light skinned, thin and perfect. I am totally confused.

I have been told I am beautiful, but that is your perception. All I know is that which is entirely created within my own mind and believed by my own heart; the same goes for you. The mind can create endless good and bad things about yourself if you allow it.

I am doing the work in making it through the thought process and habit changing. As soon as you become empowered and embodied to take control over yourself, healing becomes a lifelong process. These shadows that I am loving from a distance, might catch me with my guard down, and sneak into me again, over and over. I mean, I can’t blame them, I am worth the fight. 😉

I sent in these two pictures that I don’t love, of myself, whom I happen to love dearly; along with my explanation of self love.

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Self love is practicing and not giving up on my wellness. It is a process that unfolds, dynamically. It is failing and laughing. It is succeeding and crying. Making time for self love nurtures my soul; empowering me to be fully present, and grateful, with every breath.

Check out Origin magazine!!! . (www.originmagazine.com)

Photos: Sarah Richelle Starnes

Yoga and Racism Part II

October 3, 2013

I am a huge fan of Decolonizing Yoga on FB, so I shared this link: http://www.decolonizingyoga.com/yoga-studios-everyones-welcome/

….. the studio owner of the studio I practice at commented on the link and we had the following discussion:

Yoga studio Owner: Actually the yoga studio is a very accessible studio. We offer many different types/flavors of classes to appeal to all people’s tastes and needs. We offer free classes many times throughout the year, we are wheelchair accessible, and give discounts. We offer $5 yoga for kids and teens! What can kids do these days for $5! And Bri if you would like to offer a free community class let me know I’m all for it
Me:  i would like to offer a donation class on wednesdays. The studio has been accommodating for me and my financial capacity; which i am grateful for. im still making more than a lot of other people tho.  i encourage you to follow the decolonizing yoga page. it is a space to discuss race, privilege, sexuality, and mental health in the yoga community. the things that act as barriers to yoga. i am also street yoga certified, will be working with homeless youth in the city, would you be willing to let me borrow or donate props to use in these classes?
Yoga studio Owner:  As I emailed you before Wednesday evenings have permanent standing classes taught by long standing teachers. I can offer you space on weekends when we do not have TT and hypnobirthing. As far as props go I lend out mats to be returned. You may call me and we can go over the specifics
Yoga studio Owner: And everyone is welcomed at EYS. We are accessible to the community we provide service to, as a matter of fact we are offering free monthly breastfeeding support on Sunday afternoons with Elise Fulara.
Me: what i am finding in my research, is that the intention of “everyone is welcome” is always there….but the intention doesn’t make the yoga more accessible. The studio’s town is bordered by hillside (http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/17/1735086.html), berkely (http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/17/1705404.html), and northlake (http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/17/1753871.html); how many african american or hispanic people use this studio or know that this studio is accessible to them? How many of those people of color even have the time to do yoga? Why do people of color have less time to do yoga? What is the average income of the people who use this studio? I am NOT pointing fingers and I am NOT calling you a racist or saying that you are doing anything that is “wrong,” in a sense. I am just saying there is a clear issue with the yoga community at large, as far as who can afford it or access it. And I am saying that I am interested in learning techniques aside from discounts that make yoga more accessible to people of color and lower income brackets.
Me: (I tagged a few friends to the discussion)….thought you ladies might enjoy this thought provoking discussion.
Yoga studio Owner:  I’m well aware of the demographics and I offer first class free, free is free. It may be that yoga is offered in all communities and most people prefer to practice where it is most convenient to them. And you are aware of the demographics of Elmhurst.
Yoga studio Owner:  Btw one of the largest demographics in Elmhurst is runners, I would love it if more runners practiced yoga. Any suggestions in how we can attract more runners.
Me:  lol. no, i do not have any suggestions for you. i have no experience in studying or researching runners; the mental health and wellness needs of that community.
So I was left thinking….
Should I be offended that she might not be taking me serious? I gave her two opportunities to directly bridge the gap and she denied both opportunities.  Why is she asking me for suggestions on the running community rather than the communities we were discussing? I thought we were discussing diverse groups of race, sexuality and groups of people with mental health needs?  Do hobbies and interests count as a demographic? But this is EXACTLY WHAT I AM TALKING ABOUT. It’s not just one thing or one concrete way to change this issue. there are a million opportunities to change.

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This studio owner is not a bad person. She has her own issues, I am sure. And I am also sure that she is racist in some way, just like I am, and everyone is. We don;t choose how we are conditioned; many people are taught to fear or hate things that are different…it’s an ego thing no one is immune to. We have to work to be open to things that are different. It is work.
There is physical, financial, and psychological accessibility to yoga studios; if you own one, you should evaluate who you serve and explore your desire to include more diverse groups. Like purposely go out there and grab them. We have to reach out in every way that presents itself.  Choose to serve and understand and accept people who are different form you, it is work.

Yoga and Racism Part I

October 3, 2013

Yoga is institutionally racist just like the rest of our systems. It is not affordable or accessible for most middle class to low income brackets; and very few people of color take yoga class. There are a number of reasons why this is so, there are a number of ways the systems are racist. I am not completely convinced that a lot of yogis are racist; aside from the understanding that everyone is a little racist…..but I know for sure microagressions are thrown around consistently towards those who are “different”.

More on microaggressions:  http://www.units.muohio.edu/saf/reslife/reslife/manuals/manual/CPR_Committee/Cultural_Proficiency_Articles/Wing-%20Racial%20Microaggressions%20in%20Everyday%20Life.pdf

Yoga originated in India. One of the poorest places on earth.  I wonder how many people in India still practice yoga to this day? Could yoga benefit people who are actually living in poverty? Can it effect those who are poor, as it affects and heals the privileged?

Poor people  have less time for yoga, why?

How do I tell these undeserved and systemically oppressed men and women that they can be free inside?

Kalayaan sa kalooban….

How do I tell people, who leave or have family over seas working, family structures destroyed; that they can find freedom with yoga? You can be happy eventho you are without your children, your people….?

How do I tell the men and women who fight and organize and spread awareness of political and social/gender/race issues, that the freedom they seek is really inside themselves? The fight you fight is your service, your life’s purpose/what you do for the world; but it is not you. You do not have to embody the oppression, forever.

The disadvantage is perpetuated with the fight; because in order to fight you must first embody the victim. This embodiment, this choice,

…but if you are open to the practice, could you agree with me that the freedom you seek is not given to you, because you legitly feel it?…. Can you be free and enslaved at the same time? yoga is the practice of embodiment, the practice of awareness…with breath as the doorway to discovering the many pathways of conscious living.

How do I tell the people who have lost loved ones due to injustice?  We don’t progress without the death; progress in yoga comes from the death of parts of ourselves. we break ourselves open. We don’t have light without dark.  You got dealt bullshit and you are beautiful. You only have control over your breath, your thought and your action in each present moment. The work is in manifesting our desires, and doing it aligned with source. aligned with the power that wants to enhance life. the ultimate desire to evolve and transcend.

How do I explain to people wounded physically, mentally, spiritually; I know that you can heal yourself only because I have been able to heal myself? You will create a new you.

this darkness that inspires amazing art. I am a darkness lover. but at some point you must evolve. If you didn’t embody the victim, would there be a fight? If you embodied a warrior as we practice, would the fight be different? Everyone is a victim at some point in their life. You scream till your voice grows horse, and I will stand next to you with warm water and honey and lemon, breathing deeply…..1385096_632975393391832_995085138_n

How do I inspire these people who are affected by systemic and institutional violence and oppression that they are whole, complete, not lacking anything?

How do I begin to explain to my people that the freedom they seek, lies deep within their hearts and souls …nobody takes it away, you give it away, it is yours

….I plead, don’t carry the pain and suffering with you forever.

Just as your cuts heal,

just as your organs regenerate,

just as your breath comes without even trying,

just as your heart continues to beat

just as the sun comes during the day and the moon at night;

you can trust that you are love(d).

No bible verse, no law, no constitution is going to give you what you seek….but can yoga? This practice that connects us in mind body and spirit.

My friend writes: “Truth is we don’t know what it’s like to be free in our bodies and in this system, so we will proceed to challenge these laws indefinitely.”

…… those who deny you systemic freedom do not deny you freedom within your bodies…..it is only yours to claim. the only way they take away freedom in your body is by taking your body altogether. Fight for yourself. How easy will you hand it over?

Why are there not more people of color at yoga classes and workshops? Do they not need it as much as the people who do attend? Is it not effective to them?

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Do you hear me yoga community? There is a bridge to be gapped! Racism hasn’t gone away institutionally. We have a real opportunity in the yoga community to expand consciousness. I wish to figure out how to work through this, this is my yoga teaching mission….

Read Yoga and Racism Part II https://bri11.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/yoga-and-racism-part-ii/