#ZenThanksgiving: A Prayer for Remembering


i move along a rain-soaked path

pink tubular bodies stretch out
in full prostration across my trail, beckoning:
feel your heart into those feet,
so every step blesses the earth.

a few, once desiccated, now rehydrated, leave coiled graffiti-like impressions:
life wuz here!
keep it movin’!

gravity relinquishes its pull on my body, offering it up
into the ever-ready hands of spirit

briefly i levitate…
soles soar over a smattering of broken branches + wrinkled leaves…

i see nature’s clues
(autumn’s stand-in for rose petals, i joke)
and picture a young wood nymph pointing me to the altar

trees line the sanctuary aisle
as holy witnesses to my prayer
and as lofty pews
for curious squirrels who ring around the trunks to peek over at me
while jays, perched on high, trumpet my procession

i glide faster,
sweat and breath awaken
memories of land ancestors

i sense the hearts and spirits of
native-born brown
and stolen black bodies

thrumming life — once desiccated — nourished now by over-saturated clouds replenishing the soil

my waltzing cadence drums out the beat of their sacrifices:

tilled, toiled, kept.
loved, honored, bled.
harvested, shared, fed.

song penetrates deeply —
a systolic pressure burrowing
from head to ears, heart to toes
rhythm from beyond yonder
touching me touching the earth

because of them
i continue solid, whole, and free

embodied wisdom: commentary on “Choosing the Right Running Shoes – NYTimes.com”

“Perhaps most unexpected, running shoes designed to somehow “fix” someone’s running form turned out often to be ineffective and even counter-productive.”

~ Gretchen Reynolds | NYTimes.com

Shin splints, patellofemoral syndrome (aka runner’s knee), a broken toe, stress fracture of the foot, a sprained ankle, a strained piriformis, sciatica, chronic hip and sacroiliac pain…and this list only covers my lower half!

Mine is a body that has sustained and, thankfully, recovered from numerous injuries.

With the exception of fracturing my foot after jumping cross-legged off a cement post when I was 8 (and apparently crazy), I can trace all of my physical dysfunctions and subsequent recurring pain back to the three years I spent on my high school track team hurling a shotput and discus across fields. I suffered the consequences of overuse and repetitive stress from being under-coached and under-conditioned (the inequities in girls’ training and conditioning in sports is a topic for another post) well into my 30s.

No single pair of shoes or orthotics — whether those prescribed and specially-designed for my feet by two different podiatrists as well as the “over-the-counter” from a footwear store — successfully resolved my bouts with pain. I’d get temporary relief then the pain would resurface and continue migrate between my traumatized body parts (shoulder, hip, sacrum, leg) with varying levels of intensity and duration. Finally, two years after pregnancy, childbirth, and the ensuing exertions of parenting had magnified these strains, I could no longer live with short-term fixes that only addressed the afflicted area of the moment.

I needed and ultimately benefited from a holistic approach to rehabbing my body. I worked on realigning my pelvis; strengthening and stabilizing my deep core muscles, hips, shoulders, and feet; mobilizing strained tissues with massage; and maintaining/returning to a neutral posture throughout my day.

I’m not saying that shoes aren’t a factor at all. But I don’t think it’s a wise practice to focus so much on what we put on our feet while neglecting to pay attention to how we take care of our feet and the rest of our body.

Full disclosure. I’m a skeptical/mindful consumer and am fully aware that shoe companies have a vested interest in our buying new shoes every few months. So I challenged my own rehab doctors with questions about the validity of the commonly circulated advice to swap our running shoes out after 300 – 500 miles. The response was non-committal — it may be more of an individual choice based on one’s biomechanics and how quickly they wear down shoes.

My bottom line.
Be the expert of your own body! Become fluent in the messages it relays through sensations of pain, fatigue and imbalance as well as those of strength, freedom of movement, stamina, and well-being. Keep testing out what’s true for you!

Read more about the research on biomechanics and running shoes via the NYTimes.com: Choosing The Right Running Shoes.

TrailBlazers Launch

We’re so thrilled to have launched the pilot session of our new walk-to-run program TrailBlazers last Monday!

The day began stormily with hourly forecasts that nerve-wrackingly shifted bouts of rain to land before, during or after our scheduled meetup time.

Alas, finger-crossing and fervent hoping prevailed (despite the afternoon flash flooding around town)! The skies calmed, the sun burst through, and the streets dried up so that we could blaze a new trail with this great crew of women.

special event news: conscious + fit clinic on 6/6

Ready to get Active?! Whether you’re just getting started, are rehabbing from injury, or are refreshing your fitness regime — learn the foundations of dynamic + functional movement to keep you ‪#‎CONSCIOUSandFIT‬ this summer. BONUS: Get tips to decompress + relax + sustain physical + mental well-being!

Open to All Levels. Co-taught by Tara Scott, teacher of movement + mindfulness + meditation, + Bianca Guess, certified running coach + group fitness instructor. Cost: 20/person. Location: Heartdance Studio, 1806 E. Michigan Avenue, in Lansing.



touching the earth: spring revival


whipping wind,

conductor and choreographer.

snow-bleached leaves lifted from the composting bed

into a swirling tornado ballet.

brittle and brown — some cracked with lacy veins of decomposition, some waxy-smooth and preserved.

all, frenzied and alive.

reanimated to dance upon the whistling breeze.

embodied wisdom: 15-mile meditation

My foot, poised for motion, rests upon solid Earth.

My lungs balloon open to capture Air. An expansion that readies my heart for the journey.

Oxygen combusts into compassion. Fueled, I step into Wind’s welcoming arms.

Blade-sharp chill cuts through illusion.
Clear comprehension arises.

Movement is my refuge: those sensations, vibrating upward from sole to soul, become a massage that awakens equanimity.

Steady footfalls, rhythmic and soothing, lull mind inward.

Penetrating deeply but gently. Flushed through arteries to appendages. Aligned. Attuned.

The course (my design) landmarked by old injuries and hard-won victories in self-understanding.

A training in awareness: an inside-out, 360 degree study of my body gliding through space, covering distances immeasurable by miles.

No striving. No pursuing. (No race, no finish line, no medal.)

Simply abiding.

Cheered on by the thrumming of heart and the rejoicing of cells and muscle fibers.

Spirit soars. Boundless.

In call and response, I am guided by the synergistic conversation between my lungs and legs.

Who will lead? Walk now? Or run? They negotiate in whispers with the lumbar.

Adjustments are made to pace and posture. Muscles contract and relax in a reassuring hug.

My complex weave of supple tissues and resilient fibers, in harness, I am anchored–

Head to heart, hip to heel–as shoulder blades kiss my spine to bolster each vertebrae toward open Sky.

By my stride: 30,000 steps or so.

By my breath: a fusion of body, mind and heart.

Reclaimed. Reconciled. I am solid, steady, free. In this body. As it is.

good spiritual friends: walking the path together


When a fellow member of my running group shared this image and quote with us all, I was “AUM-ing” and “AMEN-ing” at the simple truth of this message. The 8 miles I logged this morning in the company of friends made every step easier. Laughter, insights, wise counsel and encouragement filled every moment of our two-and-half hour excursion.

It did not matter that everyone could not go the full distance.

Showing up, being committed to ourselves, and supporting others in the commitments they make to themselves is the stuff that running buddies and good spiritual friends are made of!

It is a treasure to have partners who help keep us accountable, on the pavement and on our chosen life paths, as we make bold proclamations for our self-care and aspirations. In my twenties, I longed for this type of loving support and was grateful to find it when I needed it most. Just as crucial — I learned through those relationships (and continue to refine through my dharma practice) to be the same kind of friend I value.

Becoming a good spiritual friend (kalyanamitra or kalyanamitta in Sanskrit/Pali) takes time, experience, maturity, skillfullness, discernment, the willingness to be vulnerable and, in turn, to bear witness to vulnerability in others. It demands that we learn not to “co-sign crazy” (a mantra and rule that I lovingly and frequently remind friends, old and new, will be upheld)! Rather than join in on a rant-and-rage session or hold our tongue when a friend is out of order, we invite these dear ones to pause and look deeply when they are caught in harmful/unskillful patterns. We shine the light — helping them wade through the muck toward clear intentions and possible resolutions. We ask what they think they need or, when they’re uncertain, simply step back while offering to be there whenever they are ready to work through it. But other situations require that we share our direct observations because our friend’s perspective may be the source of the difficulty.

For those who lament the lack of sleep or time to relax, we support them in finding moments of peace. If they say they’d like to exercise more often, we invite them out on a walk. For the friend who has difficulty asking for help, we remember to reach out first. We learn better than to give the workaholic or the people-pleaser, who can’t say “No,” one more task to juggle.

The good spiritual friend learns to see clearly and to respond wisely to the need or challenge in the moment. No dictating, judging, or chiding. They deliver the appropriate support with compassion and understanding. They help us to go deep in our self-inquiry, to acknowledge our true desires and quiet fears, and to live authentically and wholeheartedly.

They sweeten the journey and cheer us on as we come back, again and again, to our true selves.

More on Spiritual Friendship

Kalyāṇa-mittatā  [definition]
Admirable Friendship
Mitta Sutta

#magic + #mindfulness + #movement: the best medicine


The moment when I realized that the “ICKs” I’m feeling are not from sleeping too little but rather from MOVING too little! #SelfCareSunday #OnMyWayOut #TouchingTheEarth