Intention, Practice & Sangha for an Energetic, Grounded & Flexible Year
A fun series with a focus on sankalpa (intention), sangha (staying connected to spiritual community/social justice), pranayama (breathwork) (pranayama), qi gong (energetics), gentle movement, and other practices for personal inquiry and expansion.
In December, I am offering a grounding and nourishing 3 part Yoga Nidra series on Zoom.
I offer yoga nidra in a way that is appreciative of ancient tradition, and also unique to my experience as a practitioner and student of yoga and energetics.
Info below. All are welcome. Please email me if you are joining!
Sliding scale and scholarships available.
We were, We are, We will be…this past week I participated in an anti-racism training with the Oregon Women Lawyers. As part of our Structure for Engagement, rather than ground rules, we agreed to Reject Fear and Scarcity Thinking. One of the trainers taught us of the destruction of Celilo Falls on March 10, 1957. Nch’i Wana, known in colonized language as the Columbia River, was home to an ancient cultural and trade centers. With the construction of the Dalles Dam, in 4.5 hours this place of deep community was put under water. Tribal members watched as 10,000 people celebrated.
The destruction was, and still is, a tragedy of immense proportions. And also, tribe members today teachthey can still see, feel, and hear the community gathering and interacting at the river. This teaching of We were, We are, We will be feels extraordinarily poignant at this moment. 202 has brought so much loss, transition, disappointment, and change to so many. AND yet, without minimizing the human or economic toll of the pandemic, we are able to ask, what will we be?
How do we, on both the individual and population level, extricate ourselves from fear and scarcity thinking? As the prophet Bob Marley called out to us, how do we emancipate ourselves from mental slavery, how do we free our minds? Do we look at this time only from the limited lenses of disappointment and discontent, or can we understand that everything is always changing, that we too are that which changes.
As the holiday season approaches and as we move into the deepest days of winter, may we consciously hold the memories of our ancestors close, while we diligently work to create a more free and liberated future for ourselves and all beings.
May we see, feel, and hear the heart of humanity beating and calling forth a new way of being.
May we transform and celebrate, perhaps quietly and in deeper solitude, those true things for which we are most thankful.
May we celebrate this moment, this breath, this small offering of presence and kindness.
May we reject fear and scarcity thinking.
May we truly feel abundantly grateful, may we share this feeling, and may we understand it.
I offer this teaching from the native land of the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs. If you are interested in learning where you sit, you can put in your address here to learn more about our land.
August is for Self-Care
Wherever you are, honoring the heart is always a lovely practice.
Sending peace and care.
Justine & Lulu Jai
Take a deep breath the teacher encourages, guiding the student to explore their capacity for a felt experience with their body’s divine tool of respiration. How quickly our understanding of this process of inhale and exhale has changed, how desperate is the cry of the planet to realize that our hate, greed, and ignorance is destroying this most beautiful wold. In the past few months we have globally experienced how corona virus impacts our individual respiratory functionality. This past week we have born witness to a new cry, “I can’t breathe!” — a horrifying statement that tragically highlights the way violence and racism has strangled and lynched people of color in the United States for centuries. As I practiced and taught today I was awoken to the trauma of the breath.
Generally, I revel in each inhale and exhale, and cue my students with specific feeling cues around the felt experience of the breath. Today I felt the poignancy, the emergency, the call to action of this cue. With each cue to inhale and exhale, I felt a constriction around my throat, recalling the vicious and heartless murder of George Floyd by four officers in the Minneapolis Police Department. With each felt experience of the breath, I too felt the trauma of not being able to take one. Sometimes the cueing needs to change. This too is a lesson of this time.
As a way to understand this trauma and support my sangha, I lean into embodied ethics as a form of and call to social action. This is the tool that I have right now, in this moment. By calling on the ancient sage’s understanding of relationship to self and the world, perhaps we can utilize these tools to support shining the light of awakening in a world that needs it so much.
The Buddha touched the earth in the lifetime in which he awakened. The time is now to touch the earth, feel our throats, and move, both within the body and externally in our worlds, to a greater understanding of hate, greed, and ignorance. From this place of understanding may we realign ourselves with compassion, generosity, balance, and kindness. May we do this again and again, as long as we need to do, and with great effort and discipline.
Below is an audio excerpt from today’s teaching — in it I explore karma as an ongoing process of cause & effect, the call of bodhicitta — a mind that strives toward awakening, empathy, and compassion for the benefit of all sentient beings and the path of a bodhisattva — someone committed to understanding and ending pain and suffering withing themselves and the world, and the interdependence between ahimsa — understood and felt in my teachings as non-violence, protection, care, & refuge — embodied in Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling and Rosa Park’s refusal to move — and satya — understood and felt in my teachings as honesty and truth — embodied as George’s final call, and a vow to not be silent at this time.
I offer these teachings to you with deep reverence for Mr. Floyd’s memory, and dedicate the benefit of these practices to his memory, to his family, and to all beings who are suffering.
You are cordially invited to get your chill summer vibe on with this SUMMER SERIES — an embodied practice series exploring pranayama, qi gong, breathwork, energetics & yoga nidra meditation.
Thursday evenings, 7-8:30 PM CDT
June 11, 18 & 25
July 9, 16 & 23
$175 series* & $36 drop-in
*Sessions will be recorded if you can’t make a class.
Namaste — Justine
Written by two poets almost 700 years apart,
their words echo and resonate profoundly in this current moment.
The photos were taken in 2017 in Provence —
we happened upon this poppy field under Mont Saint-Victoire
and were in awe —
in the magnificence of our natural world.
Holding all beings in loving care.
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Out Beyond Ideas by Jalal al-Din Rumi, 1207-1273
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’
doesn’t make any sense.
May we be well.
May we be at peace.
May we be happy.
May we be free from suffering.
May our practice be a benefit for all beings everywhere,
for our earth,
for our relationships,
Shanti Shanti Shanti Peace Peace Peace Paz Paz
In Judaism, we count the days between Pesach (Passover) and Shavuot (giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai). We call this process counting the Omer. This intensely spiritual time is a movement in the soul–one from enslavement to freedom. A 49 day practice period, a pathway leading us upward and inward—which takes us on an inner journey from one place to another. The Jewish people repeat the practice of counting the Omer year after for millennia. It can’t be understated that we are experiencing this spiritual process in 2020 during the time of corona. The inner process of going inside, into isolation, into self-reflection can be a useful way to cultivate a deeper understanding of our sephirot, the innate attributes of the divine. It is a process to curiously inquire and investigate into the question, Who Am I?
There are ten sephirot — three related to the intellect (wisdom, understanding, and knowledge) and seven to feelings. Each week of the Omer is related to one of the seven feeling tones of the divine. Each week we count the Omer we progress with deeper intimacy of the felt experience of the divine in our personal and collective realities. We use the sephirot to understand ourselves, and our relationships. Through this practice of self awareness, we are then in a more connected space to receive torah/wisdom. At the end of the counting period, we endeavor to end up in a different place — more connected, with greater clarity, with greater respect for our soul, its desires and manifestations, and what it needs from us.
This new place, this personal Mt. Sinai, yields an outlook of deeper soul level connection to receive torah/wisdom. This vast expanse of self awareness yields portals to connect with self and others, and allows us to feel more healed in each characteristic in ourselves (sephirot) to be more whole — fuller participants in the world. Wow. What a beautiful and significant practice.
Our physical body is an expression of the soul. The sephirot are mapped onto the body, similar to the rainbow/chakra body systems in Buddhism and Yoga philosophy. This embodied relationship is endlessly fascinating to me as a yoga and meditation teacher with deep ties to Judaism, Buddhism, and Yoga philosophy. So when I had the honor of teaching a Jewish Mindfulness Center of Texas Yoga class today via Congregations Beth Yeshurun on Zoom, during the point in the Omer where we are in gevurah in yessod, I knew we had to get into the Omer/sephirot groove. And in we went. With care and curiosity.
As we are in the middle of a pandemic, whilst counting the Omer (things occur within the spiritual container of life, rather than spiritual practice occurring within the space of things occurring) today’s class was purposefully gentle, accessible, and spiritual. We focused on a foundational understanding of the Omer and the sephirot, which, because of their depth and connection to the energetics of spiritual practice in every day life and in the body, I feel should be a more pronounced and taught understanding in everyday Judaism.
I plan to share the class here once I have the video link. Until then, some useful questions to ponder relative to the sephirot and their attributes. A macro level question here is, “How do we nourish our lifeforce?”
1st week Chessed
Questions: How does kindness flow through me? Do I give in a peaceful, generous way, or do I give with an expectation of receiving in return? What does loving-kindness mean to me and how does it relate to my own personal ethics? What is my understanding of benevolence and how do I apply that to a life committed to tikkun olam/social action?
2nd week Gevurah
Questions: What are the boundaries I’ve created in my life? Do I say no with clarity and ease? Do I need more discipline? Structure? Practices? What does resistance feel like in my body?
3rd week Tifferet
Questions: How do we create harmony in our lives? What are our creative practices that yield beauty in our lives and the world? How do I nourish my heart? How do I connect to the heartspace?
4th week Netzach
Energy of creative
Forceful energy that makes something occur
Athlete, Entrepreneur, Builder
Questions: Where in my life am I ambitious? What am I dedicating my energy towards? How are we using our drive to bring into the world whatever we are creating?
5th week Hod
Realization that there’s a greater force that’s happening
Savasana at end of yoga sequence—surrender
Questions: Do I allow myself to let go? How do I cultivate gratitude in a meaningful, ongoing, and significant way? Am I cool with not being in control?
6th week Yessod
Questions: How do I create secure foundations? What roots me to earth? How do I push and pull with energetic frequencies in my life to create stability? How do I bond in relationships? Do I recognize the balance required to maintain a desire to be there and the humility of letting go to what it is what it may be in reality?
7th week Malchut
Our essential nature
The value of our souls
Our forma de ser/way of being in the world
Malchut is expressed as a loving gaze from mom to baby, knowing that you’re worthy just because you’re there. As an adult, malchut is in our giving our gifts to the world, our service, our actions, touching the lives of others.
Questions: What brings me/makes me come alive? Am I ready to live the autobiographical portion of my life? How do I nourish myself, through the changes and challenges of life?
Our physical body is an expression of the soul. Our physical body is an expression of the soul!
Understanding and working with/practicing the sephirot yields a deeper awareness that we are an expression of something great — we are an expression of the divine. In this period of counting the Omer, we can feel the true preciousness of our lives, we can work on ourselves, move from being slaves to personality, trend, and ego, and become more of our true selves.