It’s a joy to behold the serendipity of divine order. I had wanted to feature Elena Brower on Gratitude Speaks for a while but the timing didn’t flow... until Expo West where my sweet friends at Sounds True gifted me a copy of her magnificent book Art of Attention. And when the right piece is in the right position at the right time, things rise into place.
A yoga teacher since 1998, Elena’s managed to merge yoga with meditation, mindfulness, and sacred living. Enter, the art of attention in action. The book’s captivating photography, committed copy, and liberating layout will light a spark in your soul. Whether you practice yoga, do crossfit, or go to spin class, Elena’s elegant approach toward inspiring conscious being will draw you in deep.
Both the subtitle, “A Yoga Practice Workbook for Movement as Meditation,” positioned above the main one, and Elena’s image coming out of left field like a lotus emerging from mud on the other side of the world point to the project’s luminosity. It’s a space in which to move, unfold, emerge whole again.
Every Wednesday, I look forward to receiving Elena’s teach.yoga e-letter. Aside from being truly beautiful, it offers deep wisdom, open emotions, and strong roots. The site, an “ever-evolving virtual home for teachers worldwide,” provides a platform to communicate, exchange, commune. The world is ours for the honoring. Anchoring in your own soul-filled space attunes you to the one chord that resonates through eternity. Grab a cuppa tea / coffee / superfood hot chocolate and explore.
As an offering of inspiration and reflection, please enjoy Elena’s piece, Gathering, after our interview. Namaste.
1) How do you define gratitude, and what are you grateful for?
2) What is art to you?
Anything that's created in service of sharing an essential emotion.
3) When did you experience significant personal growth, and how did it impact your perspective on life?
The most recent experience is when I read and wrote my parent letters - very potent letters to each parent, read live to each one separately, in which I apologize for anything I've held against them or any disrespect I've shown to them over the years. It's also a time to share my gratitude for all they've taught me and shown me by their example. This is a transformative practice that came after 4 years of working both as a client and teacher with the Handel Group.
As a result, we're becoming closer and more transparent with each other, and clearing the path for my child and his future family to be open and clear in all their relations.
4) What other gems of joy & wisdom would you like to share with us?
Stay close to yourself so you can trust yourself. There's no need to doubt or fear if you're keeping your word to yourself...
Offered this piece at Yoga Journal LIVE at Kripalu, November 2015.
If we wish to receive and hold and give and shape and mold the totality,
we need to be near others who help us see the patience and the love in the lining of our soul.
So we generate moments where several of us gather to experience the traction of the evolutionary force of Nature, together. We practice. We dance. We chant. We pray – as prayer is our attention and our first listening – our way of giving as well as receiving.
We’re seeing more such gatherings, which bring us into a higher conversation, and keep our highest quality of communication open.
That keeps us in alignment, and supportive of each others’ refinement,
which keeps us learning and educated, and keeps our connections hydrated and ventilated,
so the currents of learning and teaching can flow between us, unabated.
This way we can all remind each other to let the greater flow in,
and that there weren’t any accidents along the way. And nothing was ever broken.
All our teachers, studies, understandings, hardships
All our victories, phases, chapters, righteousness
None of it was wasted and nothing needs to be replaced.
But it is all evolving. No problems, just solving, and moving, and seeing.
And learning how to keep believing.
Some questions, then, to ask yourself, quietly.
How can I make each day a new listening?
How can I choose and choose again a quality of presence, and respect, and giving?
How can I orient myself toward a generosity that lets me give the very best of me
and helps me ask the relevant questions so we can all get free?
Even when I don’t feel like it.
How can I develop a personal refuge
that’s everywhere, and always,
and somehow never moves?
And since my mind’s movement as thought
is just a strategy to avoid relationship with the present,
how can I live in this reality, which is the only moment when
love can be released instantly?
The destination is now.
The invitation is to real love, and every moment can show us how.
And since every prolonged emotion affects the flow through our organs,
how can I locate real love?
Real love, non-judgmental love, doesn’t keep score. It unites. It embraces.
It welcomes. It relates. It nurtures.
It heals. It takes us further.
And the body knows it immediately.
So I fell in love recently, virtually.
Bozhana, a student from Bulgaria, lets me know about an article by a woman called Misha.
Misha is struggling to make ends meet, on public assistance to feed her four kids,
just to stand on her own two feet. She is writing about how costly it is to be spiritual,
and I get it. No amount of lyricism can change that.
So I email her, hundreds of miles away, and we start talking.
I send her my audio course, and she’s begun meditating.
She’s slowly pulling ideas together, and now she and her kids are creating.
Greeting cards for the holidays; a new beginning.
Now she’s got stamps with words like Faith, Hope, and Love, and we are both grateful and
connected and trusting in powers high above us, and in our virtual sisterhood.
This is where it all feels better than good.
Every day may we ask for an introduction to that which endures.
A new collaboration, a different attitude; just trust that there is more…
This is what practice has in store for each of us.
Ong Namo Gurudev Namo.
May we connect to our teachers, and honour their teachers;
May we feed and amplify the Source of all teachings, and
May we remember that what goes unfed weakens.
And what we feed grows stronger.
So what are the practices?
What can we DO?
Day to day, for all of us, some tiny, potent clues:
Be mellow. Be kind. Be generous.
Go ahead and practice being sad, and angry, and challenged,
and then return to equanimity, and practice seeing how your narrative
keeps blocking your fluidity.
Practice noticing how your behaviour keeps yielding this result,
and if you’re not happy with what’s happening,
drop all the resident tumult and change the story.
Write a vision that becomes your finest foray into the
which is only a kind of love
and set some specific parameters, within you, around you, and above,
because boundaries give you information, confirmation, transformation,
and a new sense of synergy with all your relations.
A good practice gets great when it brings you deep joy.
The privilege is to elevate the physical, which is really just a ploy
to locate awe.
And that awe inspires us to be more awake, and more kind,
which helps us to make sure our behaviour is pliant, and in alignment,
and to listen every day for our highest assignments.
We choose ways in which to get organized, so we can adhere to
the totality more of the time.
We strengthen our bodies and realize, that when things that are unhealthy
really stop feeling good, that’s a really good sign.
Keep supporting, keep lifting, keep asking, keep giving.
Keep praying, keep wishing, and hugging, and kissing.
Keep wondering, keep sitting, keep loving, keep committing.
Keep listening, keep guessing, keep empowering,