"We are a large family on a small planet. We will run into sensations that are difficult for us" - Christopher Ananda.
"We are all just walking each other home" - Ram Dass.
Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Yule, Happy Holidays!
And for those who are not celebrating any of the above, here is an offering from Grandmother Wapajea Walks on Water (from the Choctaw, Creek and Cherokee tribes). As we face seasons in our lives, there will always be direction.
East - Opportunity to begin again with each day.
South - Hope and creativity of the child within.
West – Introspection when the day is done.
North – Stamina, compassion, silence.
As you face each direction, you might enjoy listening to music by Brule, a man who grew up not knowing his Lakota people, until just before Thanksgiving 20 years ago.
A short true story by Charmion Harris, Wild Unity's Founder Backstory
The story begins in Freedhem, Minnesota, and involves lots of horses, church time, and many homes in nearly half of the Midwest states before moving onto becoming an Ammunition and Explosive Ordnance Disposal Specialist and Carpenter in the Army.
Marriage, children, college, divorce, and more moving commence for the next decade. Through it all, a battle waged between my head and heart, and my body stuck in a nether land. Most of the time I felt like a wild horse confined to a stall, or an avatar in a video game trying to find the right way, until I found adventure racing.
Coincidentally, about that time, things fell apart again. I took a job with the VA and moved again, this time near Sacramento, California. From the Spanish word Sacrament, the location I chose represented an outward act that marked inward spiritual growth. This time, I spent evenings and weekends writing, enjoying nature, and immersing myself in yoga.
In Northern California, one can choose from a smorgasbord for physical yoga practices. During the week, I attended a franchise yoga studio offering Power Vinyasa and a senior center that offered Tai Chi and Yin. On weekends, I went to a quirky place downtown with strange class names that offered steeply discounted Groupon packages. The franchise classes did wonders for my physical strength, neck pain, and overall feeling of resilience, and the Yin classes at the senior center were a new concept for me of being mostly still while fully awake.
At my Saturday’s 9am class, 50-60 people waited without fail for the studio to unlock at 8:45am. The class teacher’s name was Buck, and his class included techniques that other teachers didn’t offer. At times during class, we might be in a seated posture with our knees grazing one another and most everyone crying in a collective emotional release. After class, students glowed from a complete physical, mental, and emotional “work-out”. I wanted to learn how to do what Buck did, but he wasn’t offering training.
Many years have since passed.
14 years ago when my yoga journey began, I somehow knew that all paths of yoga could lead to the same place. But where that place was I didn’t know.
Part of my life had felt like moving along a well-worn path lined with beautiful scenery, only to face unexpected shocking and repetitive obstacles. My greatest desire was to bring everything out the shadows and myself out of the chase or the game. I wanted to live authentically, to know what I was alive for.
The vast field of choices in yoga unfolded like an ancient maze with winding openings throughout. But instead of an avatar that could be replicated in a story of survival, I was me in the truth of a meaningful life. And the maze itself was a labyrinth - all paths led to the center.
Ashtanga and power vinyasa training connected me to my body for the first time through breath and movement in a wide variety of physical postures. Integral threads of modifications, somatic and functional movements expanded that connection further from the ego to my true self. Qigong showed me how imperfection is harmony, and Ayurveda revealed the importance of appreciating my body and mind’s messages. Mantra brought experience and awareness beyond time and space. The chakra system provided a compass and map for self-study through the entire journey of life, so I could continue moving through the barriers of pre-conditioning. Radiant energy of Kundalini kriyas delivered heightened awareness and helped me feel like my own jungle doctor. And most of all, pearls of spiritual wisdom weaved it all together into infinite oneness.
Now that I have more than a thousand hours of yoga training, have read hundreds of books on a huge range of yogic topics, written a few books, led many retreats and teacher trainings, owned a yoga studio, taught yoga internationally, and founded a non-profit, I know that I’ll never do what Buck did.
No one can teach exactly like another, because no two people have the same lived experiences. What I can do and what I can offer others, is that space to glow from the inside out. We all can, through our own self-discovery of authenticity and purpose. When you deliver your gifts to the world, it will take many forms, but you will no longer be an avatar that anyone else controls.
There is a lot to uncover to get there. At Wild Unity, we have tried to take out the superficiality and consumerism that has been added back into yoga classes over the last few decades out to allow for more self-discovery.
Our federally registered mission is: "To ease distress through culturally diverse and layered approaches which honor ancient lineages of yoga to foster internal unity and connection to others".
We teach a lot of “off the mat” (not demonstrating) so that the teacher can be a student of everyone present, including themselves. And we say "yoga teacher" rather than yoga instructor, and "student" rather than client or customer. After wandering this path for many years, I’ve found that “instruction” of self-discovery is not meaningful. I have never been a client of yoga, but I have and always will be a student of yoga.
All are welcome here.