Showing posts from April, 2014

The Weekly Tithe: Space and Freedom Behind Bars

This week in The Weekly Tithe, we celebrate the practice of mindfulness in the least likely of places: prison.

Prison Yoga Project
I first learned about PYP in December 2011 while seeking to expand public perception about what yoga is, who it belongs to and what it looks like. I had seen the incredible documentary, The Dhamma Brothers, a couple of years earlier and was aware of the application of alternative healing methods within the prison system but had yet to learn how widespread or effective yoga had become in this context. The project was started by James Fox, who began bringing yoga to at-risk populations when he received his certification in 2000. Some struggle to understand why prisoners should be taught yoga, something that's come to be considered a luxury. I will share PYP's statement on this, which was offered on their Facebook page today:

"Some people can’t understand why we teach yoga in prison. “Why cut a prisoner any slack at all? They’re getting what they …

Uncommon Woman

For any woman who’s ever been told she’s too much: You, who broke out of the mold before they even cracked it off you.  You, who came out inventing your own how-to-scale-a-wall with only vowels.  You, who fireflash in the eye of so many midnights, so many men who want to taste your hem,  who dream of being desired by an Uncommon Woman, if only because their dressers are empty of anything but brand name cologne and predictable portrait.  Let them call you different.  Let them bait the minnows of you heart.  Show them your heart is a school of fish, a solar system of all moons.  When asked, say, "My heart is always causing the mating season."  When they call you full of yourself, say, “Yes.”  Breathe in their scorn and breathe out Atlantis.  Let them come with their saw blade smiles.  Let them come with their saw blade hands. Let them come to see if you slice small enough to replace their handkerchiefs,  the ones they’ll loan to who they’ll call easier girls.  Let them choose…

The Weekly Tithe: Growing Community, and my charity:water birthday

Oy ve, so much for weekly. I've had a whole lot of life happening lately and haven't been grounded for long enough to keep up on regular writing. This week we return to The Weekly Tithe with a profile on Acta Non Verba: Youth Urban Farm Project.

My amazing friend Kelly started Acta Non Verba (ANV) in response to the gaping inequalities present in East Oakland in the areas of access to nutritious food, health education and extra-curricular activities for children and teens in the area. ANV uses the garden as a classroom to not only teach kids about where their food comes from, how to grow it and prepare it healthfully, but also leadership skills and community building. My favorite part of the program, though, is the seed fund. The garden sells fresh produce to the community, which is considered a "food desert," and puts the proceeds into college funds for the kids and teens in the program. This supports and encourages young people to aim not only to graduate from high…

One Breath at a Time

He went to rehab this morning for the fourth time...or maybe it's the fifth. My memory doesn't serve me particularly well normally and this is something I'm keen to let fade. I've been running for two weeks, living out of a tightly packed bag, moving about the world in search of the path of joy. I touched back down just in time to say a sad, strained good bye.

The first time they go to rehab, you will be bursting at the seams with equal parts wild hope and anxiety. You will visit the first weekend they're allowed guests, attend the afternoon AA meeting with them and take a walk around the property, talking idly about nothing. You will be proud of them and afraid for them. When they leave early, disappear and relapse, it will feel like the entire world is collapsing on your chest. You were warned that this might happen but that did nothing to prepare you.

The second time they go to rehab, your optimism will become cautious and jadedness will creep in quietly. You wi…

No Sex in the City

The last time I took a new lover I spent a few months learning about him and carefully considering his candidacy before shifting the relationship tone. This was a new thing for me. Sex with strangers is not a normal occurrence but jumping right into a sexual relationship with someone I already know has been. I used to say that all my sex was surprising because I never thought about it ahead of time. It would just...happen! Whoops! This area of unconsciousness began to stick out like a sore thumb in my normal life of thoughtful reflection and self-examination. I recognized within myself the tendency to only act in the interests of my short term self in the arena of sexuality, living from the groin on instinct, and how this short term thinking was negatively affecting my head and heart.
So I made an earnest attempt to properly vet my next potential partner. I asked him big questions, met his friends and family, and spent neutral alone time with him. I waited, yes, in this I was successf…