On Making A Memory

[Featured in Positively Positive, August 2015] “Make choices to do things that you might remember.” Sage suggestion from dear friend Dr. Mark Hyman’s grandmother, shared with me on a gorgeous late-day summer hike a few weeks ago in the Berkshires to one of his favourite rivers. It was when I’d commented on the beauty of this hidden gem of a river that he’d offered that to us, and it’s sticking with me. “You might remember this river, this day” he said. He was right. The grass and branches crackling underfoot, the smell of the brush and the hush of the river just ahead. Then the feeling of the cold, clear water on my feet and the smooth dirt riverbed, then the sharper rocks as we walked; the sun slowly setting painting impossible lavender streaks across the sky. A moment I won’t forget. Another memory was made soon after that one, a moment that stung, then healed me. The other day my son asked me, “Can you just get happy, Mama?” (I was simmering an unnecessary sadness at the time.) He continued, “when you’re sad, I feel sad too. I can’t help it.” The memory of taking his cheeks in my hands and thanking him for […]

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Devotion

Whether we are creatives, musicians, running businesses, doctors, teachers, scientists, builders, clerks, writers or otherwise, devotion plays a role when we bring our best forward. Devotion here is defined as reverence. “Just as the sun’s rays vivify everything living, so does reverence in the student vivify all feelings of the soul.” Rudolf Steiner Each moment spent in that state of respect is felt through all we do. How may we cultivate devotion daily? Moving intentionally. Sitting quietly. Communicating slowly. Noting when we interrupt, and when we gracefully navigate our interactions. Granting unexpected kindnesses. Arranging ourselves with abundance in our thinking, and our loving. Orienting ourselves toward daily ritual until reverence becomes the only offering we make to ourselves, even when we falter. Remembering to respect even in the face of disrespect, until respect becomes all we offer everyone, every time, everywhere. And what if those around us seem less than reverent? Our work is to hold to our own internal devotion. This is why we keep up our practices – to keep reminders of reverence nearby, so when doubt enters our environment (our own or another’s), we can hold the space naturally and effectively until the doubt dissipates. The best

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6 Questions :: Tips for Practicing the Art of Attention

[Featured in Pure Green Magazine, June 2015] OVER THE YEARS YOU’VE SPOKEN OPENLY ABOUT THE CHALLENGES YOU FACED WHEN DEALING WITH WHAT YOU DESCRIBED AS “TWO OPPOSING SIDES OF YOURSELF” AND HOW YOGA HELPS TO MARRY THEM FOR YOU. HOW HAS THIS EVOLVED OVER TIME IN YOUR PERSONAL LIFE AND TEACHING METHODOLOGIES? I practice apologizing and forgiving a lot. We all forget that beneath our opinions and leanings, we are a force of love. For the moments when we forget, the recalibration of a beautiful apology or moment of forgiveness brings it all back to that love. AS A YOGA TEACHER BASED IN NEW YORK CITY, A PLACE THAT MOST WOULD SEE AS DIFFICULT TO FIND CLARITY AND CALMNESS, HOW DO YOU NAVIGATE THE CITY’S CHAOS WHILE STILL FINDING A WAY TO CONNECT TO YOUR SURROUNDINGS? The city is the best place to practice. The chaos I used to feel was in me; not outside of me. The city gives us the perfect backdrop for locating the quiet within ourselves. CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT PARENTING, AND HOW YOU AIM TO PASS THE WISDOM YOU’VE ACQUIRED ON TO YOUR SON? I lead by example. Just by paying attention

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How to deal with negative emotions

This is a short ode to the depth, simplicity and love that can arise when we learn how to manage negative emotional states. While negative emotions won’t ever stop arriving in our lives, we can practice shaping our mind into a more adaptable, flexible instrument to apprehend negative states and ultimately transmute them. This practice of dealing with negative emotions steers us in the direction of sustained emotional wellness, and we imprint our success here upon those nearest. So your dedicated personal work is actually helpful to all of us. What tools can we use to deal with negative emotions? Here you’ll learn and practice a short meditation, followed by a recipe for difficult moments, and some plant wisdom for balancing negative emotions.  Meditation is a vital practice and is the most important tool for dealing with and transforming negative emotions. As you read these words, begin by taking a few breaths to gather your attention, to return to the subtlest, steady presence within you.  Each time you notice a breath coming in, welcome a new connection to yourself, a refreshed touchpoint of care for yourself, within yourself. And each time you let the breath go, send a tender offering of your love out into the environment around you. Re-read and repeat this a few

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For Women, On Vanity and Criticism by Elizabeth Gilbert

(From a Facebook post on Elizabeth’s Gilbert’s page, January 2015) Dear Ones – Can we talk about something? For the last few months, I’ve been growing uneasy about a phenomenon I’ve seen playing out in the media over women’s bodies and women’s appearances. And no, this is not about the USUAL thing that makes me uneasy in the media (the exploitation and hyper-sexualization of women’s bodies, etc. etc…) That hasn’t changed, and I’m not tackling that today. This is about something new. This is about prominent women publicly criticizing other prominent women about body image questions, and about each other’s private beauty decisions. I don’t want to see this anymore. The history of women’s bodies and women’s beauty is a battlefield of epic (and sometimes violent) proportions. The last thing any of us need to be doing is judging each other and turning on each other. What really frustrates me is the patronizing tone that is sometimes adopted, when a woman who has made a certain set of decisions about her own face and her own body criticizes another woman who has made an entirely different set of decisions about HER own face and HER own body. You know the tone. It goes

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On Addiction, and Inviting Divine Guidance

[Featured in Mantra Magazine, 2015] Interview: Maranda Pleasant Maranda Pleasant:  You live in New York City. What are things you try to do every day to stay balanced in a hectic environment? Elena Brower: Meditation is a nonnegotiable must. Most days, it’s twenty minutes first thing; some days, it’s eleven or five minutes. I take a lot of very salty baths, both with Dead Sea salt and magnesium, and I sage myself and my space often. I spend time with friends a lot, even just during the days when we work together in the same space on different things. We cook and eat together with friends and usually kids at least once a week. MP:  What’s something you do at home that grounds you? EB: I have a divination ritual: every morning, I get up before everyone else and pick a card from one of the many decks I have around the house—Voyager Tarot, animal Medicine Cards, Sacred Path Cards, goddess cards, Art of Attention Yoga Healing Cards—and invite and allow the highest guidance. I also cook daily, which helps me feel rooted and right. MP:  What’s your advice for strong women? EB: Practice being soft and staying in your

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Today It’s Quiet

Today it’s quiet. Found my heart as I returned to the sound and sense of freedom. I’ve learned and again I’ve learned that when my ears perceive the stillness, my heart floats higher in here Then every time I find this quiet somehow my mind still tries to choose and compare But then, I remember. Today it’s quiet. I hear my soul. This is the sound I most want to hear as I grow wiser, magnificent, and hold my space in the flow of this world. This is a tribute, a fluency, a new intelligence unfurling.

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On Pattern, Paradox and Katonah Yoga by Abbie Galvin

This article is by Abbie Galvin, one of my teachers at Katonah Yoga. [Featured on Yoganonymous, January 2015] I am constantly asked to describe Katonah Yoga. Although there is no handy answer, Katonah Yoga is a Hatha practice with Chinese Taoist philosophy deeply embedded. In fact, it’s the main ingredient. Don’t worry it’s not as heady as it sounds. While most yoga practices reference Hinduism and Indian culture as their philosophical matriarch, we filter our practice through Taoist concepts. Hinduism is a religion whose teachings advocate devotion to gods whose mythic dramas guide us through moral and ethical tribulations. The myths of the Hindu gods are meant to offer a set of stories with which to navigate life. Peppering the yoga practice with Hindu references seems to have become the norm. However at Katonah Yoga, we reference Taoism. Taoism There are three main principles found in Taoism. The first is yin and yang, the second is that nature reveals its intelligence through pattern, and the third is that pattern repeats. Repetition of pattern develops our capacity  for having a new insight. For example, the repetition of a wave hitting a rock over and over, changes the nature of that rock.

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On Music for Meditation, by East Forest

East Forest designed and created the music for the Art of Attention Audio Meditation Course. Here, he discusses his choices, uses and process. On Music for Meditation by East Forest Using music and sound for meditation is an ancient practice; this pairing is at the core of our human experience. Music is multi-dimensional, reaching across and linking realms of the brain to cultivate homeostasis, or a steady internal milieu. Collaborating with Elena on her first Art of Attention Audio Meditation course was an ideal marriage of intentions. When I began curating and creating new music for the series, I wanted the music to be more than just a background element, yet didn’t want it to be overpowering. In order to make the music a kind of “technology” to intentionally deepen the meditative state, I used various sound healing techniques including alternate tunings, repetitive phrasing, and specific chordal structures to calm the mind and gently push the brain into slower states of being. Beyond any mathematical or scientific qualities, I also wanted to invite and imbue the music with Spirit. One way I approached this was to feature tracks that were created live during sound healing journeys. In those settings, sounds flow flow freely and fluently through my hands and

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4 Reasons Your Kids Will Love It When You Meditate

(From MindBodyGreen, December 2014) “My voice softened, I changed my level from standing over them to meeting them eye level. My face softened too: my brow unfurled and my eyes lit up with hope instead of burning with anger. Just by shifting my archetype I felt more connected to my kids, and we achieved our overall goal with less resistance and much more fun. Most importantly, my children learned to be guided by curiosity than goaded by fear.” – April Cantor, Soulshine Life Staying responsive and respectful takes PRACTICE, especially when it comes to parenting. Think about all of the other things you might be practicing now – yoga, distance running, a musical instrument, being a great partner … it all takes real, steady practice. As your meditation practice for better parenting starts gaining momentum, you’ll notice other practices coming to life in new ways. For me it’s practicing being clean and sober, praying and being actively grateful to those closest to me. My most valuable practice comes nightly, when I ask my 8-year-old Jonah, what I could have done better that day. I make it safe for him to tell me, by reminding him each time that this is his time

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Complete Guide to Meditation for Stellar Parenting

It’s been eight years since I started this parenting adventure with no map and no previous experience. The practices I’ve learned along the way have been crucial to my sense of confidence and enthusiasm as a mama – especially the practice of meditation. It’s shown me that as a parent, my sacred duty is to feel whole, so that my son has an example of his own innate self worth. This may sound like a bold promise, but you will be a better parent if you meditate and your kids will benefit from your regular practice. Here are some reasons why: 1. We share our state of being with our kids. Parenting expert Vimala McClure says it best, “A wise mother knows: it is her state of consciousness that matters. Her love creates security.” The truth is that stressed-out parents will likely raise stressed-out kids. If we are rushing around, anxious and fearful of what’s next, our kids will absorb our worry. Have you ever seen your kid’s face change when you are triggered by stress in some way? Have you ever noticed how your child’s behavior can trigger unconscious memories and subconscious reactions you’ve long since forgotten? And have

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Letter of Gratitude to a Perpetrator.

This was written by a student on retreat, April 2014. I encouraged her to write this after hearing and feeling her story, and it’s one of the most compelling pieces I’ve ever read. Please, take these words to your heart and share with friends for whom this is relevant. Know that this is possible, this transformation of deep pain into lasting peace. -Elena * From L., student. This letter was born out of a complex and all too common experience of childhood abuse and neglect.  My hope for those who read this letter of gratitude to my childhood perpetrator is that you will be inspired to gather your courage to transform your pain into peace. My vision for life, born out of this childhood experience, is to make the world beautiful. True beauty reveals itself when we embrace our shadow and light with grace. True beauty also reveals itself when we embrace our vulnerability and value rather than our violence and silence. I was invited to write a letter of gratitude to my childhood perpetrator by Elena on our yoga retreat.  Initially, I hesitated to receive such an invitation as I was concerned about being re-traumatized. However, some small whisper within asked me to soften and listen, indicating to me that I

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