OM Blog + Press
Words from our founder, Katie:
"The recent full moon had a strong and inspiring pulse. It shined light on the fact that many of us in the modern world are disconnected from nature's rhythms but that our bodies, through its natural current remind us that we are, at the most basic, animals subject to the heart beat of our environment.
By Jill Emich, Spirit Warrior and Owner of Shine Restaurant and Gathering Place www.shineboulder.com
Grief is a word that invokes emptiness inside. It conjures loneliness and feeing forsaken, forlorn, lost – a sadness so deep that it feels palpable and overwhelming.
Most of us have felt this at some point or another in their lives either from personal experiences or from witnessing another in emotional pain. The first time I experienced grief was when I realized that my dear brother Dennis was born a twin and my mother had lost one at birth. I hadn’t known this until my early teen years when my mom shared her story. Being a triplet myself (yes my mom was just very, very fertile), I felt such a sense of grief for my brother and my mother’s loss.
The fact that my brother shared a womb with another spirit and another body and then surfaced into this world alone was heartbreaking. What affect did it have on his little soul then and what affect does it have now? I will never truly know because my brother is mentally and physically challenged. The only way he communicates is through his powerful huge smile, through his facial expressions, his tears, and those eyes…..
So I grieved for him and with him. I felt all those overwhelming feelings and then I decided to shift it.
I started to recognize the gifts. First and foremost my brother Dennis is still here with us and he has taught me and my family about compassion, patience, acceptance and unconditional love. His story and his existence has made me a better person and I want to share that love and compassion with others. I also know Dennis has a powerful twin angel on his shoulder, protecting him and whispering sweetness into his ear. And, my brother is the glue of our family. He has kept the love strong between all of us and has kept us united. The very rare disease he has gives a life sentence of approximately 25 years. My brother is 44 and his doctors attribute his liveliness to his amazing care, love and his inner strength. His loss has made him strong, it has – this I know.
The other way I am able to transform this feeling of grief is by reaching out to others, sharing the story and hearing other peoples story of grief and how we can transform it through community and family. This is why I know the Grief Support Network is such a powerful and important organization. It is something I am so proud to help support. We need one another to heal, to grow, to share, to see a new perspective.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and to learn more about Grief Support Network. We hope to see you at Shine on September 20th for GSN’s Gratitude Celebration & Fundraiser!
To get your tickets for the VIP farm-to-table dinner and/or the live auction and entertainment CLICK HERE.
This is the last of a three part series from our fabulous OMbassador, Shakti Sunfire, who teaches yoga and hooping around the world. Many of our followers are teachers of dance, yoga and other movement arts. We hope you enjoy this 3rd part!
In the great stories of humankind - the myths and the epics and the wise hand-me-downs of times past, there comes a moment in the journey of the hero, or heroine where they loose their way. Wrapped up in the too-smallness of their old skin in the face of their own urgent becoming, they loose sight of all the innate powers that lie within. They are knocked off the path, abducted by trolls, or dragons...they face the necessary but destabilizing fear of refinement that ultimately polishes them for the great adventure that is to come.
Somehow, somewhere along the way, we as a culture have lost a crucial piece of that story in the face of old and worn-out paradigms - egoic displays of rugged individualism. The ferocity of“I’ll do it myself” - or more commonly - “I SHOULD be able to do it myself” that is ultimately the undoing of the heros/heroines quest. The missing piece that you’ll always find in any good journey, is that the hero or the heroine NEVER DO IT ALONE.
The single most common mistake teachers make is to think themselves an island, self-sufficient unto themselves and wholly capable to slay the demon, and trick the dragon, and ascend the mountain of becoming ALONE.
I know this because I tried it, and I’m speaking from the depths of my being when I say I would not be here in the role that I am blessed to occupy - as teacher and leader, without standing on the backs of many teachers before me. I cannot stress enough just how crucial it is to align yourself with a master mentor and I’ll tell you why.
Often people ask me; “how the hell did you get to a place where you can teach full-time?”
“One part incredible luck, and one-part angelic guidance,” I’d say with a wink.
But any real time spent in reverie has me confirming for myself over and over again that really and truly, without my flesh-and-blood mentors, I would not be where I am. Which is not to say that each individual can’t become on their own. Quite the contrary. To be in the refiner’s fire of our own self-evolution is completely a personal practice. The guru does NOT indeed live outside oneself. But to loop back into the hero’s journey, what we see in nearly every tale is that the hero himself has NO idea of the kinds of powers he possesses. No idea that, like the Monkey God Hanuman, he can leap across an ocean to redeem the treasure of his desire.
Not until some benevolent being clues him in. “Remember? You’re a GOD??”
And it’s more than that. It’s interesting to me really, how many of us are fringe creatives, blazing our own trail, creating beauty and art and connection in the world, and yet, in my view, due to the particularly self-inflated nature of our western culture, we fail to see, or have forgotten that any good teaching...and good art, is accumulative and responsive. That ANY creative process is a “next-octave” of what has come before. We are tribal beings at heart, and whether or not we really take it in, we are CO-CREATIVE beings as well. But we try to hide this. We tuck what inspires us away, deep inside, where no one will ever see its source because some part of us believes ourselves lesser than, a fraud, a phony, unoriginal - GASP! The worst insult as an artist.In that particular tale Hanuman is reminded of his innate powers through the reflection of his loved ones and his friends at a crucial time of need, and not a moment before. How many times have you hit a wall, perhaps banging on the same door that will not open, and have been saved from your ruthless pounding by someone who cares about you? Who can see the bigger perspective? One you will never attain with your nose pressed against the wood grain of the door? It’s like that.
I’m being dramatic here, I know. But trust me, this is coming from direct experience and so I am picking on myself FIRST. The truth is, once I surrendered to the positive influences that are my teachers a great many more doors opened to me. And all of a sudden I had new material to play with, to try on for size. New stories to tell, new ways of thinking about sequencing, and multi-level instruction, and marketing. I had new input that highlighted for me my particular soul powers - powers I couldn’t see on my own. I had a new student base that gathered around my teachers, and I had all their feedback to inform me. Everything, in those years of direct apprenticeship was about throwing a soul piece of me out there, and waiting to see how, and in what way, it came back. Humbling myself enough to listen to those who influenced me. To feel the texture of THEIR words come out of my mouth. What fits? What doesn’t? How does that make me FEEL? Is this really ALIVE for me? All questions I would be asking myself. Taste testing. Experimenting. Searching through fields of inspiration and suggestion. And low and behold, when the time was ripe, and not a moment before, I found the ME I was searching for in all the voices and ways of the THEM.
And guess who was right there with me celebrating my discovery of all the gifts they already knew I possessed? My teachers.
A mentor of mine once said to me, the best teachers are eternal students. After nine years of intentionally saddling up to leaders I admire, I am convinced this way of leading - the open door way, where I filter in soul food from the field around me, only to process it through my lens and send it back out, creates a healthy teaching ecology, and I will never stop this practice. I will never close that door again.
I’m sure by now there are a million thoughts floating around in your brain. Some in agreement, some confusion, some ready to argue with me. I always love a good debate. But before we get into it, there is one more piece that I have learned through my own experiences as an apprentice, that is completely paramount to a healthy apprentice/mentor relationship and COMPLETELY CONTRARY to the way MOST teacher training programs are run today - in ANY and every industry.
I believe that to be a master teacher, the most important piece you can apprentice to is your DIRECT and ALIVE experience in any moment, and to source from that place unapologetically and without fail.
It’s rather hard to do this when you have someone telling you exactly how a trick should be taught and a class laid out, and a theme spoken and, and, and... Certification often seems to hinge on regurgitation rather than the preparation of your vessel for authentic voicing. No wonder it’s hard to make it as a movement guide. We’re all taught to wear clothes that don’t fit.
Human beings are intuitive. Many of us don’t believe ourselves to be, but we are immensely sensitive. We learn best when our teachers TRANSMIT lived experience through their movements and their voice.
I struggled with this in a very personal way. Having gone through over 1500 hours of yoga teacher trainings in a variety of schools of yoga, I always left the certification unfinished precisely because it was expected of me to demonstrate that I learned it THAT way and could teach it in THOSE words...when in the intelligence of my body, in the depths of my own experience I felt a different way. Perhaps a small tweak on the instruction, or order of things. Perhaps a desire to blend a few different schools based on what was coming alive for me in my own practice. And so, very early on, I decided to approach each training as a testing ground and the participation became less and less about certification, and more and more about inspiration.
I know many of you are with me on this. I also know that as creative beings we tend to do this anyway, whether or not a certification is persued and granted. We can’t help ourselves! I’m also called to say that there are reasons why certification is completely valuable. The point is not to knock it, it’s to speak to something not often spoken to.
This is the second of a three part series from our fabulous OMbassador, Shakti Sunfire, who teaches yoga and hooping around the world. Many of our followers are teachers of dance, yoga and other movement arts. We hope you enjoy this 2nd part. Shakti wrote this just for you, as a few tips on what to avoid when teaching.
Logic Without Love
“Gather around the fire. I am going to tell you story.”
In 2008, Jeremy Hsu wrote an article for Scientific American entitled The Secrets of Storytelling: Why We Love a Good Yarn. In it, he examined the work of psychologists and neuroscientists who are studying the human penchant for storytelling. What they are discovering is fascinating, but it boils down to this: People are wired to enjoy stories.*
What does that have to do with masterful teaching? A few things, but the short of it boils down to the ability (or lack of ability) a teacher has to weave and curate a powerful and impactful learning environment. One that gives the student the greatest possible inroad to lasting insight and embodied knowledge. This, of course, happens in many ways - through skillful curriculum development, logical instruction and sequencing, environmental considerations such as natural light, space, and choice of music, and through the teacher’s ability to step into the seat of the teacher and hold the space for his/her students... but there is one area that is often overlooked, and in my experience quite possibly THE most important place to refine a skill set for teachers new and old : THEMING.
Theming - when done well,provides a greater CONTEXT for your students that extends beyond the confines of the classroom. Skillful theming PROVIDES MEANING that keeps your students coming back for more, and opens each individual to a variety of other innate “intelligences”, such as emotional and imaginal intelligence, that allows him/her to embody new information faster and with greater ease.
I remember when I first stepped foot inside a yoga class. The candles were lit, soft music playing, the atmosphere seemed to sparkle a little...at the very least was welcoming. I took my seat and for the next 90 minutes was guided into an experience in my body that all about my body and so much more than my body. The use of imagery was so impactful that I signed up then and there for a monthly plan. That was 14 years ago...and I haven’t stopped practicing.
I believe it to be no small coincidence that there are now over 8 million people practicing yoga in United States alone.
Human beings have evolved to respond deeply to story, metaphor and myth. Not long ago, we, as a species, passed on all useful information from one generation to another in story. In fact, the part of the brain that is our true decision maker has been found to NOT be the cerebral cortex or cognitive mind, but in fact the paleomammalian part of the brain that has, evolutionarily speaking, been with us longer. That part of the brain is our emotional intelligence. Emotions, not facts, ultimately determine our decisions.
Story, metaphor, myth and colorful imagery skip the rational layer of the brain, and move RIGHT into the long-lasting, deeply-affected paleomammalian brain where change can happen. It is here that we have deep memory. Therefore the use of this type of teaching is not only poetic and beautiful, but absolutely crucial to create the kind of experience we’re going for as empowered leaders and teachers.
- A 2007 study … found that a test audience responded more positively to advertisements in narrative form as compared with straightforward ads that encouraged viewers to think about the arguments for a product. Similarly … labeling information as “fact” increased critical analysis, whereas labeling information as “fiction” had the opposite effect. Studies such as these suggest people accept ideas more readily when their minds are in story mode as opposed to when they are in an analytical mind-set.*
What theming is NOT is arbitrary and random esoteric information that you get off on, but that has noting to do with the audience at hand. Skillful theming requires student-centric thinking.
Which leads us to the HOW of it.
There are many many ways to develop the ability to skillfully theme in your classes. Always, the underlying foundation is to source from your own lively and vibrant experience...picking out universalities that all can relate to. Books, articles, movies and more can be valuable sources, but unless the theme has been lived and embodied by YOU, the storyteller, it will not land for your students.
Here are a few words on theming from the One Hoop One Love Teacher Training and Mentorship manual :
THE STORIES WE TELL OURSELVES SHAPE OUR WORLD.
As One Hoop One Love leaders, our invocation is for wonder to return to us in our lives. To begin to see with the minds eye, means we need to return to unknowingness and to possibility. Can we begin to feel spaciousness where there was previously only compression? Can we begin to invoke a perspective in our lives that allows for the world to speak to us in symbol, serendipity, metaphor and myth? It is up to us to empower intuitive interpretation of the things we see, feel, and hear. Imagination and imagery opens the doorway to wild creativity, and that, serves the world.
A good theme can be wrapped, packaged and presented in no more than the first 5 minutes of class, then touched on at various times through MOVEMENT.
The best themes are drawn from your own present life experience, filtered back through the eyes and ears of your students.
To compose a theme, KNOW your audience. What is their life like outside of class? How can you touch them emotionally? In what ways can you imagine yourself to be in their shoes?
In this day and age we spend much of our time in the cognitive brain, weighing out comparative analysis of...well...everything. Myth and metaphor are also so important at this time because they cut out perceived differences and beliefs and move right into the heart. Myths are not untruths. In fact, they are the closest thing we can get to truth. They are universalities, that transcend space and time. They give meaning and flavor, and great purpose. To live our lives mytho-poetically is to set into motion a kind of limitless creativity that sees no coincidence and empowers radical self-acceptance as a crucial part of the whole - as the whole itself.
Whether you are a coach, a parent, a friend, or a politician....from the Buddhist perspective we are all here to improve the human condition. While we may be able to influence each other, we ultimately have free will and our destiny lies in our own hands. Therefore, to best improve the human condition we have two primary goals that we can set out to achieve in this lifetime. First, improve oneself. Take your life in to your own hands and carve your own destiny. Strive to be the best you can be and to make the most out of this precious human life. Second, encourage others to do the same. Whether its through encouragement, education, positivity, or simply living by example. Strive not to do FOR others, but to encourage them to do for themselves. Here is an old quote by the famous Rilke,...the same concepts have been circling through human consciousness for a long time. Its time for us to live them more fully.
“We must assume our existence as broadly as we in any way can; everything, even the unheard-of, must be possible in it. That is at the bottom the only courage that is demanded of us: to have courage for the most strange, the most singular and the most inexplicable that we may encounter.
“That mankind has in this sense been cowardly has done life endless harm; the experiences that are called ‘visions,’ the whole so called ‘spirit-world,’ death, all those things that are so closely akin to us, have by daily parring been so crowded out of life that the senses with which we could have grasped them are atrophied.”
“Fear of the inexplicable has not alone impoverished the existence of the individual; the relationship between one human being and another has also been cramped by it, as though it had been lifted out of the riverbed of endless possibilities and set down in a fallow spot on the bank, to which nothing happens.”
“For it is not inertia alone that is responsible for human relationships repeating themselves from case to case, indescribably monotonous and unrenewed; it is shyness before any sort of new, unforseenable experience with which one does not think oneself able to cope.”
“But only someone who is ready for everything, who excludes nothing, not even the most enigmatical, will live the relation to another as something alive and will himself draw exhaustively from his own existence.”
“For if we think of this existence of the individual as a larger or smaller room, it appears evident that most people learn to know only a corner of their room, a place by the window, a strip of floor on which they walk up and down. Thus they have certain security. And yet that dangerous insecurity is so much more human…”
“We have no reason to mistrust our world, for it is not against us. Has it terrors, they are our terrors; has it abysses, those abysses belong to us; are dangers at hand, we must try to love them.”
“And if only we arrange our life according to that principle which counsels us that we must always hold to the difficult, then that which now seems to us the most alien will become what we most trust and find most faithful.”
“How should we be able to forget those ancient myths that are at the beginning of all peoples, the myths about dragons that at the last moment turn into princesses; perhaps all the dragons of our lives are princesses who are waiting to us us once beautiful and brave. Perhaps everything terrible is in its deepest being something helpless that wants help from us.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke
Sisters, are you standing in your power?
Many of us define the feminine as soft, passive, sweet, gentle, nurturing, receptive…
But what about the Mama Lioness who fiercely protects her cubs? What role does She — the strong, bold, vivacious, wild, liberated, independent, passionate, creative feminine — have to play?
The last moon cycle of Beltane we explored the spectrum of masculine and feminine energies, and the integration and balance of these energies within us and in the world. Now, as we move towards the Solstice and the radiant expansive energy of the bright summer sun, from this foundation of balance, we turn towards the solar energies.
Just as the lunar energies have been designated as feminine, the solar energies have largely been defined as masculine.
But the Solar Feminine is as integral a part of us as is the Lunar Masculine, and we need access to the Mama Lioness to call upon in times of need.
She is Shakti, Sekhmet, Pele, Kali, Aine, Brigid, Bast… She has a thousand names in a thousand languages.
She is the force of nature that creates, sustains and protects that which she loves no holds barred.
With the new moon energy of rest and reflection, allow yourself to feel into your Solar Feminine.
- What aspects of your life are worth cultivating and protecting?
- How do you do that from a place of wholeness and balance so as not to burn out, but to instead sustainably fuel your passions and gifts to the world?
- In what ways can your Solar Feminine support your medicine path?
As the summer dawns on us and the heat builds, may the blessings of the Goddess shine radiantly in our hearts.
New Moon, Beltane 2014
On this deep dark moon, there are whispers of excitement all around. The flowers dance in anticipation. The green shoots rise up, alert and expectant. The water bubbles and the faeries delight in the joy of what is to come.
It is Beltane. It is the celebration of Life.
The Goddess opens to Her Consort. The fertile Earth jubilantly receives the warmth of the Sun. The Divine Feminine joins together with the Divine Masculine in the Spirit of Creation, and consciousness is born.
It is this union that creates the magic of new life.
It is this alchemical union that ensures the growth and abundance necessary to sustain life and makes the world go round.
And it is what we are all seeking, deep down: Alchemical Relationship. We want to experience the magic of creation unfolding with each blessed moment. We want to embody the Goddess and the God, together.
Easier said than done? Perhaps. And so we look to Nature. We coax the Sun to shine boldly down onto the Earth withour songs, our laughter and our prayers. We lure Him with the generous expressions of our love. We welcome Him for all that He is, and we show up in our fullness to receive Him.
We can dear sisters. We will. We are.
It is time.
And so it is.
Wishing you a delicious Beltane full of sensual delight ~
Swimming in a Sea of Success - 5 Tips on making magic happen this year from a notorious risk taker, entrepreneur and OMbassador ~ Jill Emich
I was having a conversation with a dear ex-boyfriend of mine and he pointed out that sometimes I sit on the shore in a place of worry, feelings of not being good enough, and doubts, instead of swimming in the sea of everything I am and desire. Well, it got me thinking (the visual was very helpful), and I decided I want to swim in the sea of everything I want to bring in to my life including prosperity, abundance, success, love, passion-YES, I want to bathe in it! All of the sudden I was picturing basking in the sea in the feelings of all of these things that I am calling in and it really lit me up!
Featured OMbassador Blog Posts from The OM Collection's first OMbassador Shakti Sunfire. Never miss an update from Shakti and our other OMbassadors, sign up for The OM Collections's Monthly Newsletter. (Editors Note)
I just finished the book, “Sex at Dawn”. Easily, in my opinion, of the most influential and socially-inquisitive anthropological works of our time. It’s a study of the evolution of human sexuality from pre-history to today that states we as a species have un-necessarily and quite falsely placed ourselves in a box of universal monogamy as the key to successful relationship. I know what you’re thinking...another book about polyamory. Another hippie-dippy summer of love symposium of an experiment we all know went array a long time ago. As a fellow cynic I assure you, it’s worth the read...if nothing else then for the jarring question; are we living in a rigid, socially constructed idea of relationship that just may be creating the dis-ease? Are we holding so tightly to our history that we can’t possibly make room for the present? Are we living in fear and shame behind the scenes (monumental divorce rates, adulteries, and broken families) only to plaster a smile on our faces and laugh together during “Desperate Housewives”?