The Water Wheel: why I practice Yoga

When you use the word Yoga, many people associate this with the movement practice, called Yoga Asana.  Asana is translated as "pose" or "posture".  It is the most commonly practiced form of yoga in the Western world.*  Yoga Asana has many physical benefits, including increasing flexibility, strength and cardiovascular capacity.  Yoga asana also has other benefits, such as being a part of a community, remembering to breathe, stimulating the nervous systems and calming the mind.  Yoga asana can also reveal a lot about our way of being and living in the world; it can be a mirror for our unconscious habits and a transformational tool to uncover our most authentic self.  

When I started doing yoga, I was working out at a gym in Santa Barbara and a friend suggested we take a class to help with our flexibility.  The active practices, while familiar and, therefore, psychologically soothing, did not contribute to more ease in my life; I did not feel like the stereotypical yogi.  I was still anxious, angry and judgmental in the world outside of the yoga studio.  Trying to perfect and “do” all the yoga poses began to feel like an assault on my body and mind; it was perpetuating old habits of physical competition and I felt that I was never going to be good enough.  I had spent a lifetime hating my body, waging war against it with extreme behaviors, wanting it to be different, better.

Yoga asana revealed these unconscious patterns in my life of over-working, and striving for perfection; it was a gateway into the practices of self-awareness, self-acceptance and, ultimately, the discovery of authentic love and compassion for myself, just as I am.  As one of my most beloved teachers, Bella Dreizler, has said: “the first and easiest way into knowing ourselves is through the physical channel, through our bodies.”  Once I had a tangible awareness of my habitual behaviors, I could begin to address healing on many levels.

Because of many wonderful teachers and my personal commitment to the practice, I began to explore other, more gentle forms of yoga.  These practices include regular meditation* and slow, conscious movement practices, which encourage ease in breathing, spaciousness, listening and pausing.  In the yoga traditions, rest and contemplation are considered primary, which is quite contrary to our cultural norms.   The practices of non-doing and simply being-with all the “parts" of myself have been the antidote to my internal dis-ease.  Simply put, there is more space and ease around unhealthy habits, which creates more room to make healthy, conscious choices.

One of the main tenets in Buddhist philosophy is that all living things are interdependent and impermanent.  The slower, more contemplative practices, combined with a variety of challenging life experiences, have allowed me to see and feel this tenet in real time.  

Even in times where we feel like no one else could possibly know our struggle, the reality is we are all interconnected, having similar stories and struggles, and these circumstances are ever-changing.  

No longer feeling alone and isolated, the sense of interconnectedness allowed me to land in my truth.  I had uncovered a self that exudes compassion and empathy, loves wholeheartedly, with ease, and without conditions or falsehoods.

So, initially, yoga was a practice of self-awareness and self-acceptance, but it ultimately became a practice of transformation and discovery: I began to embody compassion* and real love.  Not romantic or familial love, but the deepest forms of love: bold, inquisitive, courageous, messy, accepting, fun, playful, joyful, compassionate, empathic, selfless, intent and kind.  

The practice is like a water wheel, the more love and compassion that I receive, the more there is to give out, and on and on.  I have become an open vessel, a conduit for compassion and love.  And, as a human in this complex world, this feels like the ultimate purpose.

This is why I practice yoga asana: to remember how to receive compassion and real love, so that I can serve others from a fully compassionate, sincere and loving heart.

I choose to teach this practice because it is my wish that each person can feel what it is to cultivate and receive genuine compassion and love, even in the places that feel imperfect.  Because it is in witnessing and loving all of our diverse parts that we are able to feel our interdependence, and our mutual desires to connect, to be seen and loved wholly.

As my long-time teacher, Michelle Marlahan, has said, this practice is not easy, it’s not glamorous, it’s tedious and slow, and it is different for each person.  But, ultimately, if you commit yourself to this practice, you will find your own way toward healing and becoming more compassionate and loving, slowly and steadily, one breath at a time.

Love to you on your heart’s journey,
Jeanne Marie


Additional Resources:

*My favorite styles of yoga for stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system (the rest and digest function): Yin Yoga, Yoga Nidra and Restorative Yoga.
*If you are curious about the other forms of Yoga, here is a brief introduction to the Eight Limbs of Yoga: https://www.yogajournal/practice/the-eight-limbs

*Meditation resource:

*Definition of Compassion by Sharon Salzberg:

Preggie Yogi: Comparative Values

There are millions of yoga teachers nowadays.  Some are more like fitness instructors, and others are more like spiritual guides.  I would consider myself a hybrid: I love teaching people how to feel more embodied and attuned to their physical selves, and I also love providing tools and insight into the more subtle, spiritual elements of our lived experience.  As human beings, we necessarily have to connect with this physical reality, but I believe that many of our individual and societal ails can be attributed to this disconnection from our energetic or spiritual self.  In the realm of our energetic/spiritual self, there is no separation between you and me; we are intimately connected.  So, when I am teaching a class, and I have everyone begin by meditating, there is a feeling that enters the room: the energy goes from an errant buzzing to a stillness, like all the divergent energies have now settled into one rhythm - Connection.

Since working as a yoga teacher and strength trainer, I feel that the work I am doing is valuable.  Positive feedback from colleagues and students supported this sense of value.  However, I had a very hard time telling "business people" my occupation without feeling like it was not enough. There is a perception that yoga teachers are just teaching people how to stretch and look fit. The title "yoga teacher" did not seem to encompass the breadth and depth of the work I was performing.  

I also had difficulty communicating and grasping the value of my work because of the common belief that money is value; being a yoga teacher is not a lucrative career. It seems that society-at-large does not realize the rippling effect of this practice with regard to lowering stress-related illness and increasing overall well-being amongst practitioners.  We yoga teachers are left feeling less than the rest of the working world; yet we are the ones providing the worker-bees with the necessary relief from the daily grind.  It's a strange imbalance, and I continue to contemplate this paradox.

When I became pregnant, I was told by many women that this is the most important and valuable time in my life.  Of course I knew what they meant, but again, society does not reward you for creating life and doing it in a healthy manner.  The masculine, capitalistic society we have subscribed to expects us to create life while simultaneously creating an income, because the only thing of true "value" is money.  I can't buy groceries with a pregnant belly.  Again, the paradox.

This time in my life has been so curious to navigate. Because of my personal circumstances, I am blessed with the ability to take time off from working for the last 8-10 weeks of my pregnancy.  I have been gifted this time to nourish my spirit, my body and the babies before they enter this world.  Many women do not have this gift of time and space and must work a job until they pop. My mother and sister both worked until they gave birth; they are great mothers and humans.  But I would have loved for them to have this gift of rest and self-care before birthing life so that they could revel in the miracle of pregnancy and have enough rest to prepare for supporting a new life.  I wish this for every pregnant woman.

At this point, I do not have an answer to the paradox.  However, I do know this: the most valuable thing in this life is learning how to grow our capacity to love.  Love is complicated and multi-faceted, but mostly it is kind, compassionate, joyful and free.  This is the only thing we can choose to give and receive, and the only measurable value when we are on our death beds.  So, I will continue to do this human dance, navigating these waters, doing what I love and sharing it with others.

How do you define value?  Do you have an innate sense that you are valuable just because of your uniqueness?  Do you require an external validation to feel valuable?  How do we, as women, find value in our immeasurable contribution to society, as birthers, healers, nurturers, teachers, collaborators and caregivers?   Yoga teacher or not, as a woman, you have been historically under-valued and underpaid.  Let's start a discussion and learn to reclaim our value, support one another, prop each other up and encourage one another to redefine "value."

In my next blog I will talk about my concept of the contemporary feminine, but I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic of comparative values.  Please comment or write to me: 

With so much Love,

Jeanne Marie

Preggie Yogi: Listening to the Soul

On January 2nd I found out that I was 5 weeks pregnant.  My husband and I were trying, so this wasn't a surprise.  I was already feeling symptomatic: tender breasts, fatigue, slight nausea.  At the 10 week appointment we found out that we had a healthy heartbeat!  Then, my doctor, who is also a childhood friend, gently paused, reexamined the sonogram, and informed me that there were actually two heartbeats.  I responded with, “Yeah, the baby's and mine."  She responded with, “No, Jean, there are two baby heartbeats."  After uttering an expletive and feeling the room spin around me, the reality hit me.  I am having twins!  How is this possible?  The miracle of creating just one life was baffling and exciting, but TWO??  

Twins do not run in either of our families; we had had a natural conception.  So, how did this happen?  Well, it turns out that for women over 30, there is a 1 in 90 chance to conceive twins due to an increase in eggs dropped per ovulation.  While I did suffer from a couple of weeks of anxiety dreams, I felt proud of my body after reading that statistic.  I was a healthy vessel, capable of creating and supporting two lives.  It didn't take long for me to settle into this reality, this blessing, this absolute miracle of the female body.  

For me, pregnancy was a choice that took many years.  I remember talking with my sister about it four years ago, saying that I intended to get pregnant, but that I didn't feel ready.  My soul knew that there was work to be done before I could create and support another life.  I have committed the past two and half years to self-care, self-awareness. self-inquiry and teaching these practices to eager and inquisitive students in Sacramento.  It has been such a fruitful and rewarding time.  I have been the recipient of such generosity, love and support, and feel that I have offered the same in return.  This reciprocity of the heart's work has really supported my soul.

During this time my husband kept asking me if I was ever going to want to get pregnant.  I kept telling him that when I was ready I would know.  One day in September of 2016, I woke up and said, "I'm ready."  I felt that my soul was healed and I was a healthy vessel to begin this new journey.  Within a couple of months, I was pregnant.

Without my practice of listening to my soul's desire, I believe I would not have had such an easy time conceiving.  I also believe that my pregnancy would not be as easy.  Because I was willing to listen to my inner voice, and not be influenced by the "shoulds" or the voices of others, I find myself in a place to truly embrace and enjoy this unique and wondrous time of creating and supporting life in my body.  I have chosen to stop teaching so that my last 10 weeks can be devoted to self nourishment, preparation for the hard work ahead, and enjoying this time with babies in my body.  I feel so blessed in this life, and that these babies are going to receive all of the love that I have been cultivating.

So now, I can just move slower, be quieter and take the time to listen for the next calling from my heart.

My wish is that everyone reading this will take time to find a pause and some stillness, so that you can listen to this deep calling of your soul.  The answers are not immediate, but eventually you will hear the calling.

With Love,

Jeanne Marie

This Big Bright Light of Mine...I'm Gonna Let it Shine

I would like to start this blog post with a poem from one of the greats,  Wendell Berry:

To my granddaughters who visited the Holocaust
Museum on the day of the burial of Yitzhak Rabin

Now you know the worst
we humans have to know
about ourselves, and I am sorry,

for I know that you will be afraid.
To those of our bodies given
without pity to be burned, I know

there is no answer
but loving one another,
even our enemies, and this is hard.

But remember:
when a man of war becomes a man of peace,
he gives a light, divine

though it is also human.
When a man of peace is killed
by a man of war, he gives a light.

You do not have to walk in darkness.
If you will have the courage for love,
you may walk in light.  It will be

the light of those who have suffered
for peace.  It will be
your light.

~ Wendell Berry ~

I awoke in the night last night with so many thoughts about today's inauguration.  What will the next 4 years look like for our citizenry?  In this time of uncertainty, I look history for some answers.  Humans are very predictable creatures, and we tend to repeat our behavior, albeit in a different context.  We have had a history great men and women who were courageous leaders of non-violent activism, opposing the leaders of divisiveness and violence.  These leaders of light and peace set incredible examples for us to follow.  However, due to realities beyond our control, many of us are limited in the actions we can take.  We have to still pay the bills and raise our families.  So, I began contemplating what we can do, on a daily basis, so that we do not succumb to apathy and complacency. 

Many eastern philosophies teach that happiness and contentment is found within our selves, not in our external environment.  We can have all the best things and people in our lives, but we may still be miserable in our daily existence.  Contentment arises when we can accept realities just as they are, without a clinging to, or a revulsion toward what exists.  There have been many instances where I have had to practice acceptance for circumstances outside of my control.  It is hard work to let go of the illusion of control, but once we let go of this misconception, there is freedom and clarity.  We only have control over our inner environment, and our choice to not suffer.  

Once we have arrived at relative acceptance, we can see more clearly what our real work must be: the inner work of self-love and compassion.  If we love ourselves enough, we can see that our acceptance of reality is not necessarily agreeing with reality.  We must express, authentically and bigly.

But how do we disagree and act on our passions, without waging violence, judgment or perpetuating divisiveness?  How do we continue to love those who seem to be at odds with our core values and principles?  This is where our human side can be at odds with our higher Self.  I do not claim to have the answer to this conundrum, but I do have some examples of how I have been taking on this challenge to my heart and spirit.

1. Daily Meditation:  time in stillness and contemplation (even 5 minutes), to notice my breath, my physical sensations and the quality of my thoughts.  I watch my judgements, tendencies toward self-righteousness and the flurry of emotions, get to know them, and allow them to soften with each exhale.  

2. Eliminate TV & Social Media: I choose not to participate in the TV and Social Media spheres of untruths and anxiety-inducing information.  Instead, I watch documentaries, listen to thoughtful podcasts, read quality editorials, and use social media as an outlet to spread positivity and truth.

3.  Community Collaboration: I choose to spend time with those who are participating in productive activism, self-care, non-violent practices, and those who love to laugh and have fun.  I will be marching to the California State Capital tomorrow in solidarity with my neighbors and friends, supporting equality for all.

4.  Creative Self-Expression: I write, sing and record musings on a podcast (to be revealed soon).  This allows my thoughts and feelings to move in a way that comes from my heart, not my head. 

5.  Share with Others: As a yoga teacher, I have a unique opportunity to speak in front of groups about my experiences, and encourage others to find time to feel, breathe, express and move their bodies.  This feels like I'm revealing some of my light to others, so that they can recognize their own light within, waiting to be uncovered.  This vulnerability is contagious and courageous. 

In order for us to create change, we must start with ourselves.  Learn to know and love yourself enough so that you act in a way that is true for you, honors your principles and values and allows your light to shine through the darkness.  These practices are individual practices, but eventually they must be taken into the community and shared.  Be bold and courageous and shine brightly. 

With Big Love and Courage,

Jeanne Marie

Dark Side of this Gemini Moon

For those of you who are familiar with astrology, I have a Gemini moon sign, and this full moon is in Gemini.  It's been a particularly intense one for me.  Full moons cast a bright light on our dark, or shadow side.  This full moon is a supermoon and it's shining a light on our big contradictions and conflicts.  Here comes the deep work, folks.


The shadow side, layers of influence that are mostly unseen, unknown and unconscious, are alive in me affecting my relation to others on a daily basis.


My dark side includes a cast of unconscious characters, that become enmeshed with my personality.  One character that often makes her appearance is Perfectionist Penny.


At some point, my young self learned that in order to be truly loved I must be an achiever, a perfectionist, a people-pleaser. Then, I believed, when I felt loved and affirmed, there would be peace in my heart and mind.   I would be eternally happy. 


Not so.


This young girl is alive in me and is still working hard to feel unconditional love.  She is not at peace, but in conflict and control mode.  She still believes and practices this work of casting her shadow on those who are her teachers and influencers, saying and doing what she thinks they want, which can be in conflict with what is true for her.  This little Jeanne just wants someone to give her unconditional love, like a pill to ingest and so that she can finally feel its presence in her heart. 


Unconditional love has made some brief house calls.  A wash of emotion and unmistakable ease.  It has never taken residence.  But it's kept me seeking.


For now, I just observe my little Jeanne.  I will practice taking a breath and a pause before responding to a situation where I feel in conflict. 


This is my deepest work, to trust that speaking my truth, in kindness and respect, will allow unconditional love to inhabit my heart...and trust that others will still love me.


I know I am not alone in this work.  We need to be lights for one another, to shine a light on this dark, unloved space.  This is my intention, that by speaking this truth we all can start to acknowledge it and begin the slow, imperfect process of surrendering to deep, unconditional self-love.

Feel your conflict, know it, get close to it, study it.  Where are you seeking love and affirmation?  How does it feel when you say "yes" when you really want to say "no"?  Are you considering your needs and desires?  Pause.  Breathe.  Choose consciously.

Thank you for walking this path with me in love and acceptance.

Jeanne Marie

Doing Less. It's Hard Work

When people ask me what I "do", I have difficulty answering the question.  What do I "do"?  The answer is somewhat unconventional. I teach people to do yoga and strengthen their bodies, find time to sing and move regularly for fun, collaborate creatively with friends, and spend time loving my people.  My schedule is much less busy and the work I do is less harmful to my system that other types of work I have performed.  But it's not easy work, it's hard work to go against the grain, and my natural tendencies to achieve, produce and perfect.  There is a lot of time spent "should-ing" all over myself. 


Society places a value on the time we spend beholden to our jobs, constantly pressuring us to work harder and do more, spending less time with our community and loved ones.  I do not agree that this construct is productive nor sustainable, and I feel that it behooves us, as teachers, healers and leaders to pave this road toward doing less. 


So, what does it look like to work hard at doing less?  Last Friday, my friends Kaci, Dana and I went to a yoga class in the morning and then soaked in a bath house for 2 hours, doing a hot-cold plunge and steam room.  Afterward, we sat and chatted about our dreams and plans, and told stories.  We talked about how this is our work - we teach people about the importance of slowing down, resting and reconnecting - so, we must practice this ourselves.  Talk the talk and walk the walk.  Don't get me wrong, the whole time I was there my mind was in the land of the "shoulds" - should I be doing more, producing something, earning some money?  This is where the work is hard: sitting with this internal critic and choosing to do what my soul knows is best, despite old stories and expectations.


Doing less also enables more time for reading, contemplation and meditation.  Neuroscience has begun to prove that our physical health has a direct relation to the health of our brain.  If we are constantly stimulated, the brain can get too "noisy" and "excited" so that our physical bodies are also overstimulated.  When we are overstimulated, our systems cannot heal and find homeostasis, which can lead to psychological and physical dis-ease.   According to neuroscientists, the antidote for this noisy brain is practicing slow movement and conscious awareness of moment-to-moment feelings and sensations. 


In yoga practice we have a pose called Savasana (sha-vah-sa-nah) or corpse pose: lying on the floor, playing dead, but remaining conscious to experience what it feels like to be in this place of stillness.  Our bodies are still alive, working, breathing, pumping blood, thinking, but we are taking a back-seat to the action.  Witnessing the busy-ness of our vital systems, without adding more stimulation.   Since I have been doing this practice, chronic aches and anxiety have lessened dramatically, without me having to "work" them out. 


My prayer is that each person reading this takes on this radical practice of self-love.  Once we remember to be with ourselves, to love all of the parts unconditionally, then we have a deeper capacity to love all people.  Trust me, there's a lot of room in our hearts if we make room for ourselves.


Here is your permission slip:  take 5-30 minutes everyday to lay on the floor, in stillness and silence.  Notice your breath and what it feels like in your body.  That's it.  As Jack Kornfield says, it's a simple practice, but not an easy one. 


Love Love Love to you all,



Jeanne Marie

Living with Integrity

What does the word Integrity mean to you?  More importantly, what does integrity feel like? 


I looked up a definition.  One of them read "Integrity: the state of being whole and undivided". 


But, what does that feel like?  In yoga we practice certain meditation, breathing and movement techniques which encourage our body and mind to calm and stabilize.  This feeling is like being in a state of integration.  When I practice integrity in my life, I have clarity, contentment and make conscious choices.  I feel grounded, happy and energetic, like I am in the flow of life.  I have confidence and a feeling of abundance.  Integrity allows me to acknowledge my innate value, without some external measurement.


A practice of integrity is a daily self-study that will last a lifetime.  I've heard the word used mostly in the context of religion or professional ethics, but more recently I'm learning what it is to be integrated with my entire life, not just segments.  So, while practicing the feeling of integration, it's really apparent how much of my life I have been dis-integrated.


For me, dis-integration means that I am a Self divided, part conscious and part unconscious, human and spirit, in a tug-of-war.  When I am dis-integrated I feel anxious, unsettled, fearful and my choices become old, unconscious habits.  Most predominantly, dis-integration triggers a feeling of scarcity: I am not enough, I am not doing enough, I don't have enough. 


Recently, I have spoken with many of my women friends, who are feeling this sense of dis-integration within themselves.  The common theme is "I am not enough".  Why can't we women acknowledge our innate value, without having to keep achieving and proving ourselves worthy?  One part relates to the false societal conditioning, that women are inferior and not as valuable.  In our country, women are expected to be creators and caretakers, while also working and earning a living, only to be shorted because the glass ceiling still exists…(seriously?!?).  This can be really sad and discouraging.  But, why do we have to continue to play this game and measure ourselves against the outmoded status quo?  What if we created a new game, a new belief system, a new system of measuring worth and value?  This is our species greatest advantage: we have the ability to make up realities, believe them, and then other people start believing in them.  Before we know it, change has happened and all we did was make a different, conscious choice.


Let's make up a new reality for ourselves.  Start by shining a light on this self-talk of scarcity.  Every timeyou hear that voice or feel that feeling of dis-integration, be with it, feel through it, write about it, knowing that it will not be eliminated.  It is a gentle reminder, a part of our feminine ancestry, and it is here to teach us how to practice making conscious choices, choices that are from a place of feeling whole and undivided.  When we accept this feeling of dis-integration as a part of our life's teaching, we may feel a softening of its affect on our emotions and our unconscious choices.


I am here to tell you, no matter what the voices in your head say, YOU ARE PERFECT.  There is only one of you, so let the world see you, hear you, feel you and be impacted by you.  If more women start waking up to this fact, we might just change the playing field and take over the world.  A world run by women?  What a beautiful new reality.  Let's start creating.


With Love and Light,


Jeanne Marie

Dwight John Halvorson, 7 years later

Yesterday was the 7 year anniversary of my dad's passing. It was a beautiful and sorrowful morning, January 21st 2009. Dad had battled stage 4 kidney cancer for over 2 years, and in his last couple of days we had brought hospice care into the house. On January 19th, after droves of visitors had come by to pay their respects, dad fell asleep. On the morning of January 21st, his bright blue eyes opened, and the hospice nurse called us into the room. My sister, mom and I gathered around him. We looked into his blue eyes, so crystal clear. There was a look of fear, of unknown, knowing it was his time to leave us. So, we did what we always did for dad to make him happy, we started singing. We sang "Peaceful Easy Feeling" by the Eagles and "California" by Joni Mitchell. We told him how much we loved him and we wanted him to be at peace. We told him that we would be okay, we would be okay, we would be okay....he can go now, to see his dad and his beloved dogs who preceded him into the other world. With that, he exhaled for the last time and was finally at peace, no more pain and suffering.

Writing these words today, I have tears streaming down my face. I miss him so much - i miss his soft cheeks after he shaved and showered, i miss his smell of aftershave, I miss his boisterous energy in the morning as he returned from a hike or a workout, and whistled while making his breakfast. I miss the piles of sourdough toast he would make, I miss his bizarre snacks like saltine crackers in a cup of milk. I miss how loud he could be, hollering through the house, laughing at his brother's jokes on the phone, clapping so loud for the Vikings on Sunday with a "WOOOOO!" every time they made a good play.  I miss his music, always there was music: singing, whistling, guitar playing.  The thing I miss the most, is how dad could always make you feel like you were always celebrating something, and, while he was around, everything would be okay.  He was only 58 when he died, but his wisdom was so great.  I believe my dad was a Shaman in another life.  He was so spiritual and connected to nature, he could talk to birds and identify most plant and trees.  He also wrestled with his spiritual and human identities, working to get the two to harmonize in a demanding world.  What a gift to witness. 

My dad was a provider, a man who cried often, resilient beyond belief; he had a powerful heart and a creative mind; he was so kind and compassionate.  He always worked in business to make sure he created something that benefitted everyone.  For dad, it was a win-win-win life, and I'm still reaping the reward of being his daughter. 

I know my dad lives on in me.  I feel him all the time.  I hear him in the way I talk with a small Minnesota accent, the music I love, the jokes I tell, the people I touch, the way I live my life honoring and loving people.  Since his passing, I can now see the silver lining: he taught me so much in his life, but in his dying, I was gifted an awakening.  I see how short life can be, how we must do all we can to live fully, authentically, lovingly, without reservation and without hesitation.  Now is the time to act, not when we're diagnosed with a fatal illness.  

This week, on January 20th, I was staring outside at the woodshed behind my house.  I noticed something fluttering in the window, trapped inside.  I went into the shed and there was a hummingbird, trapped behind the window.  It had gotten in through the holes in the rafters.  From the advice of a friend, I gently put a towel around the exhausted tiny creature, held it with tender loving care, and set it free outside of the shed.  Hummingbirds represent celebrating the joy and ease of life.  The symbolism of this moment was not lost on me: I can sometimes feel trapped inside my negative thoughts and self-made prison.  We can see the freedom and joy on the other side, just within our grasp, but we're trapped.  So, sometimes, we may need a little TLC and guidance in order to get out there and fly.  

Here is my call to the reader: live your truth, know your freedom of choice, and love everyone unconditionally.  Dad used to say, "live and let live", and I still follow this advice.  I am continually inspired by people who choose a path that is their own, so inspire me!  Continue to find silence and stillness and listen to your heart.  It will keep you on the path to your authentic self, and will allow you fly into the celebration and joy that is our brief life on this planet.  Just remember, sometimes we need one another to provide a little TLC and guidance, we are not meant to do it alone.

Your in Unconditional Love, TLC and Guidance,

Jeanne Marie aka Yoga Jeanne

4 Steps to Dream like Dr. King

This week we honor one of the world's brightest humans: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr..  A champion of non-violence, love and justice, Dr. King also reminded us to Dream.

Dreams come from the heart: they are filled with joy, light and abundance.

This week, let go of resolutions and allow yourself to Dream Big.

Follow these 4 steps, and dream up a renewed vision for your life:

First, sit in silence for a few minutes and breathe, envisioning a color brimming from your heart.  As you inhale the color brightens, as you exhale the color dims slightly.

Second, write down all of the biggest dreams you can imagine for your life - there are no restrictions to the size and scope of these dreams.  Go BIG or go home.

Third, write down all of the blockages (the negative thoughts that accompany your dreams; why you can't or shouldn't).

Lastly, read the dreams and blockages aloud.  Feel the excitement, fear, and anticipation in this place of the unknown.

Who was it that established the equation, Hard Work = Value?   I don't feel that this one-way, hard-core track is sustainable.  Envision a life that would feel easy, free and light.  It probably is difficult to imagine, since we only know the feeling of swimming upstream.  But, in order to find a sense of balance in our lives, we need some easy, fun work that is also stimulating and valuable.  Some of the best experiences in my  life have been with my loved ones and friends, traveling, laughing, singing, collaborating, creating, and crying.   We must make time to live life on our terms.  So, even if your dreams seem impossible or ridiculous, you need to write them down. Pen to paper; there's magic in this simple process.  Your most fabulous dreams are waiting in your heart and they deserve to be seen and heard.  Let the mind (and fear) quiet down, while still acknowledging your thoughts, so as to get to know them better.  Once you know your fears, they begin to lose power over your choices.  Then, speak the dreams and fears; hear yourself, feel the words in your body and in your mouth.  Words and sound have the power to move energy.

You can repeat this 4-step process (or create your own!) anytime you are feeling a lackluster energy in your life.  Remember, if you can dream it, it's already in your heart. Conquer your fear, document your dreams, then sit back and watch your visions unfold.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. called upon the world to dream of a different future for society, one where all people are treated as equally valuable.  No conditions, no judgements, only love.  It's still a work in progress. Humans are always capable of ignorance, violence, fear and anger, but at the root of these emotions is our collective grief.  We are all grieving the long history of humans dehumanizing humans, and all we are meant to do is love unconditionally and live harmoniously.  Let's honor Dr. King, remember our people's history, and heed his call to dream for a better and brighter future.  It's not perfect, but it's progress.

I wish you the biggest and brightest dreams come true.

Jeanne M.

Put a Bird in a Cage and She'll Sing you a Song

I grew up in a musical family.  Dad was the ring-leader, playing records, guitar, singing, whistling, teaching us harmony.  There is a home video when I was 3 years old, and I am singing the theme from Sleeping Beauty, Once Upon a Dream.  I was capable of singing the melody and most of they lyrics, which is quite remarkable for such a small child.  I also remember when Dad taught the 3 of us how to sing in 3-part harmony to Puff the Magic Dragon.  We were all under 10 years old.  As we got older, my sister and I lost our music focus, but my brother went after music like a duck on a june-bug (one of Dad's famous lines).  He is the music wizard of the family. Watching him go down this road, I often felt this pull, this longing to live a life of music and creativity.  It was as if I was two people: the practical, logical lawyer, with this song bird trapped inside, just waiting to be uncaged. 

As the middle child, I always looked up to my big sister.  I wanted to sound just like her: a clear, pitch-perfect soprano.  I was the alto and struggled to do the high harmonies, sometimes I was flat or sharp and was called out by my siblings.  My brother and sister were just so steady and self-assured, and I was always wanting to sound "better".  My dad used to always say that he loved to hear me sing, that I had such a unique sound.  I never believed him - I thought he saw my insecurity and tried to boost my confidence.  How could he want to hear my voice, when my sister's was so angelic?  This insecurity was stifling and I almost never sang out loud by myself - I required the accompaniment and comfort of recorded music or group singing.

When I was living in Minnesota during my 20s, I had the privilege of practicing yoga in a magical studio, filled with multi-talented teachers.  One of my teachers would sing to the class at the beginning and end.  I loved it.  I had found an avenue to connect my love of physical movement with my love of music.  Yoga became the gateway to my voice. 

During my Yoga Teacher Training, we were asked to do a particular mantra meditation called Metta, or Lovingkindness.  I was tiring of speaking the words, so I just started singing the first melody that came to me.  It was in this state of Lovingkindness where I could forgive my imperfections and learn to love the feeling of sound and music in my body.  My sound, my melody, my voice. 

When I began teaching yoga classes, I had a deep desire to sing like my teacher in Minnesota.  But my fear and insecurity were enormous - what would people think?  What if I went flat or sharp?  The mere thought of singing in front of people made my chest and throat tighten, and my armpits would sweat profusely.  Then one day, I just did it.  I sang a simple melody and simple chant, while the students were on their backs with their eyes closed.  No one looking at me, so their presumed judgment would be less intense.  Then the aftermath: every student loved it.  They actually thought it was a recording, not my voice.  I was stunned, disbelieving and terrified.  Then I did it again, for the next class, and the next and the next.  Before I knew it, I was singing to all of my classes, and they loved it and wanted to come to my class just to hear me sing.  Just like my dad, they loved to hear my voice.  I was flabbergasted and so honored.  I started to actually believe in my ability, in my instrument, in this voice that had created so much insecurity and fear.  I had finally found a way to step into the fear and sweat my way through. 

As I write today, I have the time and space in my life to sing as much as I want, any songs I desire and, here's the craziest part, people want to hear my sound.  My voice is one of my most cherished gifts, because of its ability to heal myself and others. 

Here is my challenge to the reader: Find your voice.  Feel the healing in the release and vibration.  No judgement, no perfection, just sing your song.  There is magic in music, and if you keep singing, your authentic self will shine more brightly than ever before.  In all human cultures, song is used to express emotion.  If we stifle our emotion, they will manifest in our physical body.  Let your sound move so that your emotions can move, and the health of your body will follow.

~Yours in Song and Unconditional Love~

Jeanne Marie

Doubting Debbie

Fall has arrived.  Dark nights, chilly weather, staying home to get cozy, allowing ourselves to turn inward.  With this inward focus we can begin to uncover truths that want to be seen, so they may be nourished for growth.  It is also a time to allow the untruths to be seen and fall away, like the leaves falling from the trees.  The practice of letting go is a grieving process - we are allowing parts of ourselves to die in order for new life to be born.  Letting go naturally involves a touch of fear and doubt, because we are uncertain about how life will be once we've let go. 

So, what do I want to let go of this year?  Doubt, or more specifically, Self-Doubt.   You know the common refrains: "I am not good enough…What am I doing with my life?…What are others going to think if I try something new and fail?..." Sometimes, I hear this Doubting Debbie character so loudly and persistently that I begin to believe the phrases.  Recently, in the midst of this doubting delusion, I paused, took a breath and reached for a book:  "Living your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life" by Judith Lasater, PhD, PT.  Lasater compares the word Belief with Faith: "…belief is a preconception about the way reality should be; faith is the willingness to experience reality as it is, including acceptance of the unknown."  Suddenly, my doubt lessened, and I could feel that there had been a shift in my pattern: for the first time I chose to be mindful of my self-doubt.  I chose to experience the reality of now, feeling self-doubt and looking at it, with curiosity and clarity, without reaction or judgement, faithful that my experience would be temporary and fruitful.  Rather than letting go to extinguish my doubt, I let go of it's control over my Faith.  We must let our Doubting Debbie (or Doubting Dan) walk alongside of us, while we choose to embody Faith.

In the space where creativity and uncertainty live, Doubt is an ever-present companion.  It is a deeply embedded character that we all carry, and, no matter how many years of practice, I will continue to face this challenger to my heart and spirit.  Perhaps it is a lesson in this life to learn to recognize the times where Doubting Debbie shows up, walk with her, feel her presence and acknowledge her exit, leaving my Faith intact.  The letting go of doubt or any other stifling character,  is a daily practice and requires our utmost courage to continue on the path toward Faith.  "Faith is the quiet cousin of Courage.  Faith is willing to put its foot out when there is no guarantee that there will be a step to support it" (Lasater).  Let's be quietly courageous.  Let's continue to walk gently and mindfully along on the path, so long as it feels easy, good and true.

Love to you on this path, from your Ever-Faithful Friend


Here is a simple practice of Letting Go that you can do from home:

Find 10 breaths

Focus on the exhale, letting all of the air exit, every last drop

Then, inhale naturally

Exhale, completely, nothing left in the tank

Inhale naturally…

10 times.


Movin', Shakin' and Settling

How many times have you moved in your life?  How many times a day do you move your physical body from place to place and pace to pace, how many shifts in your mental and emotional states?  Movement is a constant, a guarantee, everything is in flux all of the time.  So, if we choose to go against the grain and stop moving, is there total absence of movement?  Or, is there space to shift, even in stillness?

As I was driving to take the first load of my recent move, I reflected on the number of times I have moved in my life, and the number of times I have used my truck, Randall.  13 years, 11 moves, 1 truck. Upon arrival in the new abode, there was the familiar sense of unsettled energy - a desire to put it all away, get it all together, and then, the realization that you just have to chill out, and take your time.  The feeling of fatigue from hours of vigorous movement and holding, how the body is shaking and vibrating, makes the idea of settling down seem oh so desirable.  Typically, the only time we allow ourselves to settle down is after we've worked ourselves to a point of shaky fatigue - physically or emotionally.  Why is moderation is so difficult to sustain?  How might we fuel our passions with the wisdom of patience? (Maya Angelou)  Since writing about cultivating space, now I sit in space wondering if I can actually settle down and find stillness, while also serving my natural impulse to keep moving.

This impulsive pattern to move feels so embedded in my bones that, even when I choose stillness and space it only lasts a short time.  So, I choose to settle, again.  Then comes the arising of the familiar shakiness, resistance to stillness, fear of the unknown territory inside, creating a triggering of the fight/flight/freeze response.  So, I move again, shake, settle.  The practice of settling into stillness is hard work: it is an invitation to move in a new way, and ultimately, requires acknowledging my innate value without having to produce a list of accomplishments. 

Movement, in its myriad forms, is a huge part of my life and always will be.  However, today I invite an intention to encourage more stillness - want to try it with me?  Then next time you have the impulsive urge to move, choose a different response.  Sit still for 3 minutes (set a timer), feel your breath and your body, feel what it is to be in this moment, right NOW.  Maybe you don't feel anything right now - that's something too - just keep listening.  For years I have felt this loud and persistent call for stillness and settling.  I am now choosing to listen, to be in silence and stillness, which is scary because it is a big unknown.  But, I am choosing to listen, so that I can see clearly the doors that are open for me in this life.  I once heard it said, without silence there would be no music.  I choose silence so that I can create a life that does not yet exist.  One that I can only imagine and create from a blank slate and open calendar.

As we transition into fall, let's all find time for settling down.  Because, even in stillness, there is a lot of room for a shift or a new creation. 

Cultivating Space

Creating and allowing space into our lives is a constant challenge in our modern culture.  We must choose space, actively and ritualistically.  Try it now:  take 3 deep breaths.  …Did you feel that?  Space. 

Working with the concept of space does not feel like work.  It is a slow, easy, deliberate, sloth-like work.  Time does not move as quickly when you create space.  Each element of the day is dotted with conscious choices, rather than all habitual or reactive choices.  Working in creating and allowing space feeds more contentment into each element of the day; simultaneously, it is an opportunity to sit with the discomfort of stillness, silence and the incessant thoughts. 

When I do not feel spaciousness, there is a desire to be elsewhere.  I am not fully content with the present moment, as if it could be better, more interesting or, just other than it is.  I feel an anxiousness or excitement about the next thing, because it's the next thing to do, like, "Look how much I’mdoing!"   My natural tendency is true for most of us in contemporary culture: constantly doing, striving, achieving.  Because of this intense imbalance, we feel our energy being depleted.  This is a very masculine energy pattern and we need to channel the energy of the feminine: receptive, creative, slow, accepting, nurturing.  Step into this space with patience, kindness and courage.  This energy exists inside all of us, but it is just asleep.  We need to re-awaken this other, softer half, with vigilance and authenticity. 

This practice of creating and allowing space is necessary to our species' vitality: it affects our ability to be in relationship, our ability to feel and emote, and our ability to create a new world vision beyond the one into which we were born.  If you feel out of balance, let's temper the imbalance in our lives and get back into the flow of the feminine.  Dance, sing, do yoga, cook, garden, make art, make love and create community.  Work doesn't always have to feel hard - find the work that feels easy and fill the space consciously.

Love to you on your journey into Spaciousness



2015, the year of new beginnings.  I know that I am not alone in these changes, losses and new beginnings.  We are all walking this road together. I would love for my blog and website to be a place where my friends, family and followers can hear about how I find healing in this life of ever-present destruction and creation, endings and beginnings.  

For months, I have spoken about beginning this blog, finishing my website and creating a place where I can share about my work and study, so that others around me might find them helpful in healing. This blog and website have had me frozen in fear - fear of failure, fear of rejection.  It will open up a creative outlet, it will pave a new path, and allow me to walk a new road, which is both exciting and unnerving.  Today, I choose to let go of that fear and proclaim a new beginning.  I choose to have more creativity in my life.  I choose more music, more dance, more writing, more love-making, more cooking, more gardening, and more community building.   

Stay tuned for more writings.  For now, take 3 breaths, find some space.  Then choose how you want to find a creative expression in your life.  Be in the flow and have ease in your decision.

Love and Courage to you as you cast out on your new beginning.