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By Donna Jackson

It’s springtime kulis and you can’t help but feel the generosity of our sweet planet. It’s palpable in the way sparkly, magical moments become palpable. It’s everywhere in both likely and unlikely places. It’s even in the ice we all scraped off our cars this morning.

It’s in cities like Boston where the anniversary of the marathon bombing reminds us that the generosity of the human spirit can make your heart ache. This ache is a real reminder that we are all truly connected with one another. This connection is a reflection of the love, strength and courage within each of us. When crazy happens, these great gifts remind us that we are resilient and that when we share our abundance we touch grace.

Some of us felt the generosity of the Universe early Tuesday morning when the lunar eclipse turned the moon a coppery red. If a Blood Moon keeps you awake in the middle of the night, you can’t help but feel either totally crazy or, better yet, intimately connected with the great beauty that surrounds us. Being a lifelong full moon abiding insomniac, I can say choosing the latter makes you grateful and the former way too twisted.

Alrighty then, all this makes me think we could use a dose of good ole’ fashioned yoga, not the kind we tattoo on our foreheads, but the kind that we do generously and in plain sight. This requires a mixture of one part saying thank you, 53 parts listening to the rain on your roof and saying praise be, 99 parts being present, and 1,000 parts keeping your heart wide open — because you never know what surprising connection you might find when you do.

Before I sign off I want to say a big thank you to all the students and teachers who are participating in our April meditation challenge  and reading Meditation for the Love of It.  I dare say that one thing this journey has been helping us with is seeing even more beauty in everything — and everyone — around us. And being on this journey together makes us that much more thankful for each and every one of you.

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By Vicky Cook

As I sat this morning in meditation, I chose to sit in the nook of our dining room that overlooks the English garden. I wanted to watch the snow and be present with the fullness of nature. My breath began to create the rhythm I have come to know as my practice. I observed the thoughts that come and go. They are never the same, but they beckon me in the same way every morning. I acknowledge, recognize, and even welcome their place in this process.

I’ve come to deeply love my practice. I connect to myself and am led as I place myself in the rhythm of the world around me. There has been much push and pull in the practice of sitting regularly, but I ache when it is missed and those around me also suffer in its absence.

The gentle movement of my chest connects to my heartbeat. My thoughts begin to slow and shape themselves in a subtle nature—not moving too quickly or demanding my attention, but remaining on the fringe and less imposing. I embrace the play of my mind. Only my resistance creates challenge. I surrender to the movement—of mind, body and the vibrations of the living world— and offer to simply be in its presence.

The practice has not once pulled me away from the world, but is, in fact, always ready with an invitation to place myself completely in this moment. The fear, disappointment, joy, struggle, triumph, or tragedy must all be present. This teaches me to move from my heart and soul as well as my mind. For me, this practice is about living a whole and truthful experience.

In the years prior to my daily practice I was trying to be something I thought I should be, not even considering what I might want or connected to who I actually was behind the veil of daily living. Placing myself in the quiet space of my morning time, I began to see, not just with my eyes, but also with the warmth of my heart. I could feel the world respond to me. There began a dance of give and take, of offering and receiving.

It has taken many years of meditation, sitting quietly (or not so quietly most of the time,) to find this awareness. To place my heart in the palm of the universe, to trust that my purpose is valid—that I am not a mistake. In the beginning my practice, like a timid stranger, felt awkward and hard to get to know, but I was patient and kind so each day I opened to myself a bit more. I started to see that my presence, my opening, is what opened the depth of my practice and has created a truly strong relationship—the strongest relationship in my life.

It seems odd to me now, that I didn’t know vulnerability required truth.  I thought I had to become something else to reveal the true nature of who I am. I still laugh at the folly of this, yet it was something embedded in the marrow of my bones.

The sun will rise each day. It is there doing what it does, not questioning rising, just creating the beginning of the day. The regularity of the sun teaches me that each day, each moment, requires presence. Nature continues to move and my movement with it, my effort to be in sync, brings me closer to myself. My hope, my desire, is to offer this rhythm to the world and begin to create the harmony of truth and bear witness to all those who would like to place themselves deeply in the presence of this world.

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By Donna Jackson

Hey kula- Get your hearts ready, it’s time for love, gratitude, and reverence. It’s time to open the door to the self and get cozy with what’s sacred about you. Tuesday marks the start of For the Love of It. The challenge is to read Sally Kempton’s Meditation for the Love of Ittogether during the month of April and set aside some time to meditate on your own at home. At the Joint, we’ll be endeavoring to bring some of the meditation practices in the book to our classes so we can experience them together as a community.

Honoring this time you’ve set aside for yourself is a beautiful way to get started. If you’re joining us, pick a place where you’ll regularly meditate, get yourself a cushion and maybe a simple altar to enhance the space so it becomes sacred to you. You can use a shoebox, a bookshelf or a little table – whatever works. Some ideas for your altar are a candle or a lamp, flowers, stones, a special object and/or photos of someone or some place sacred to you.

During week one we will be reading chapters 1-3 and pages 274-278. Read at your own pace for the next seven days and pick some of the guided explorations Sally explains in these chapters. The first week is really meant to help guide you into exploring your inner landscape and experiencing the act of sitting quietly with these explorations.

Getting a journal is a great idea. Don’t be afraid to share your thoughts and experiences during the next few weeks with your teachers, the yogi on the mat next to you, and the rest of this great big beautiful kula. We’d love it if you’d post snippets from your journey, favorite quotes, and photos on the SYJ For the Love of It Facebook page or on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Use the hashtags #fortheloveofit and #syj, and stay tuned for special sharing contests. We’ll be posting the weekly readings in the studios and on the Facebook page.

Let’s get the conversation flowing!

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By Donna Jackson

Hello kula and a big flipping hallelujah to you and to the wonderful season of spring!

Reading the words “solitude is luminous” (John O’Donahue) this morning made me want to scream hallelujah for silence and the recognition that our inner life is a reflection of how we move outwardly in the world. Let’s face it, beauty is drawn to neglected places. So we’ve created a challenge for all of you to learn how to find those neglected places inside our great beings and reflect on all the beauty we have inside. We do this so that we can continue to create wonder in the world outside. The challenge begins in one week.

Starting April 1st join your SYJ community in a love your life kind of spiritual challenge: Yoga for the Love of It. We will be reading Meditation for the Love of It by Sally Kempton and all the teachers will be doing a short centering or meditation from each week’s assigned reading in class. The book is incredibly accessible to read and all you need is a desire to turn inward, a desire to be luminous, and a desire to learn how to be quiet for 15-20 minutes a day. All you’re required to do is get a copy of the book (available at SYJ or on Amazon) and sit down every day for a month and practice the great art of meditation. We will be assigning readings from the book so you will have an opportunity to explore some of Sally’s simple meditations on your own time and in classes. It’s simple and it’s a beautiful way to establish a meditation practice. Who knows just how luminous you will become. My guess is we all get a bit more luminous and we will all continue to light each other up. In fact, that’s the whole idea.

Lot’s of other exciting things happening this spring, so check out the offerings at the studio or on MindBody.

As always, honoring the light that animates you, grateful for the light that animates me, and wishing you a beautiful day.

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By Donna Jackson

Liz Lowe and I spend this past weekend in a Mindful Resilience yoga teacher training as part of  Veterans Yoga Project. We spent a lot time listening to veterans talk about their experience with trauma and how their breath, very simply, is the practice that is reminding them to live again. It was a mind blowing, humbling, and inspiring experience. I was reminded that sharing the gift of yoga has really only one important benefit: experiencing deep connection with other people. The training also reminded me that while loving yourself is an inside job, sometimes all it takes is something – or someone – to remind us that we already have what we need. When we courageously take steps inward toward ourselves (sometimes baby ones and sometimes huge leaps) I believe we eventually learn to love ourselves a little more.

On Sunday morning on my way back to New Haven for the final day of training, I listened to this interview on  OnBeing.org and I heard Bobby McFerrin say:

“This is what I want everyone to experience at the end of my concert is that everyone has this sense of rejoicing. I don’t want them to be blown away by what I do, I want them to have this sense of real, real joy from the depths of their being. Because I think when you take them to that place then you open up a place where grace can come in.”

At SYJ, we hope our practice together makes you feel like rejoicing, and we hope your practice will take you to a place where you can open up and grace can come in. To Bobby, it’s singing, and to us, it’s breathing. Whatever it takes for you to be reminded that Grace happens, do it, share it, and make deep connection.

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