My interview with advocates for creative, community-driven approaches to legal education — from Elon University School of Law’s Second Symposium on Experiential Learning in Legal Ed…

My interview with Dean of Elon University School of Law, Luke Bierman, from Elon’s Second Symposium on Experiential Learning in Legal Ed…

Stillness Is Important Too

Posted: November 26, 2014 in Mindfulness, Videos, Wellness
Tags:

Something I do pretty often is take Madame out to the woods for a jog.  It is surprisingly hard though for me to enjoy this time without the distraction of Pandora in my head phones.  I suppose it helps me get into an exercise groove.  But what does it prevent me from doing?  Being present in a different way…

Today we had a great time in quietude.  Just for a few moments.  But that was all I needed.

Never underestimate the value of a good break from noise, even if it’s noise that normally keeps you focused and moving.  That stillness is important too.

 I was walking home from school the other day and was seized by a compulsion to duck into the local coffee shop/wine bar/book store.  As if pulled by a magnet, I beelined to the used section in the back (my favorite place, of course) and quickly came upon a beautifully illustrated book of Buddhist prayers and practices that I’d seen before but never purchased.

IMG_0662

Knowing I’d already found what I came for, I started venting to the guy ringing me up.  Something about, oh, whoa is me, this labyrinth of bullshit I am saddled with in law school…  And so on.  Just sensing, I think he realized why I was complaining.  It’s not that I truly can’t stand what I’m doing in school, it’s the dearth of other aspects to life, to learning and to consciousness that I find myself rebelling against.  And that was why I’d stopped by the store.  To re-charge.  Re-connect with reading material that feeds rather than crushes my soul.

The amazing part, which humbled me, honestly — was that he said I looked like “the embodiment of balance.”  I had my admin law book nestled under one arm with my new Buddhist practices book cradled under the other.  I was on my way home from the gym.  About to walk my steadfast pup.  And although scared about what the future holds, it seemed I was holding space in that moment just fine.

The moral of the story?  Remember to keep what warms your heart and enlivens your existence on you at all times.  Don’t let yourself get weighed down too much by the books that leave you empty.  And express your true feelings.  Ya never know what kind of affirmation will come back to you in return.

Pigeon 1 Fo Yo Mornin…

Posted: September 24, 2014 in Videos, Wellness, Yoga
Tags: , ,

A fun way to start stretchin’ in the mornin’ & find flexibility in your hips — Don’t forget to do both sides & enjoy 🙂 ❤ Shoshanna

What terrifies and excites me about becoming a lawyer?  Lots of things.  In the spirit of purging fear and inviting the new, here they are…

  1. the frustration of never being able to help people enough
  2. the frustration of needing to charge people $ in order to help them at all
  3. the prospect of engaging in work that is satisfying only to the extent that it is noble — in other words, not feeling effective personally because the justice system itself is so lacking in its effectiveness
  4. the prospect of being stuck in a practice that leaves me feeling drained rather than energized
  5. what excites me is the idea of innovating better systems, those using processes that integrate and reflect rather than ignore and diminish what is elemental about being human — namely our capacity for conscious change, for transformation on an individual and collective (thus evolutionary) scale
  6. it also excites me to envision my personal potential for transformation, on physical, mental and emotional planes.  It both overwhelms and inspires me to meditate on the ability I have to evolve.

Had an epiphany this morning.  (Sidebar: I used to constantly have epiphanies, like, every day – is that because I was in my twenties??)

Epiphany goes: Me in bed, letting sunlight stream across my face, lingering in the liminal space between starting and avoiding my day, and almost like light finding its way into a crack in my brain, I realized something.

All the different projects I’ve got going on right now, all the different environments I’ll be working in after graduation, all the different types of mode I’ll need to be in to see various jobs and projects through, they will all require me to be in character.  Not for the reasons I tend to associate with acting as a certain type of character though.  And not for anyone else – i.e. not for acceptance, not for legitimacy.  But for my own attention, for my own sake in attempting to organize what’s before me and execute each task in a way that fulfills expectations and feeds my soul, which underlies whatever character I may ever feel I need to invent…Screenshot 2014-09-13 16.50.25

It’s an ADHD thing I guess (again 😉  It’s about finding strategies that work for me in attaching to various projects for the purpose of engaging fully in them, and for the purpose of being able to pull my attention out (in another post I refer to this as having an Off as well as an On switch).  It’s not about making myself adapt in terms of identity to whatever is in front of me, it’s about finding an aspect of myself, a dimension in which I can exist and return to later, wherein I feel connected to whatever it is I’m doing.  And then, again, being able to pull out.  Finding means or vessels I guess for absorption and having a way out of the rabbit hole at the same time.

Don’t worry, at this point anyway, I’ve not considered coming up with names for all of these characters (although it occurs to me this could happen…).  Right now I’m just taken with this idea of connecting with a character in order to trigger my focus for a particular task.  Finding landmarks in a sense, so that I can conjure up those landmarks, the feelings for instance that come with working on a certain type of project, in a way that invites me into that space.  So it’s not focusing on the expectations of whomever I’m working for, which tends to make me anxious, that I can use as an anchor.  It’s the aspects of myself that come up in the process of working on that thing, and allowing myself to feel at home in those emotions, at home in those thoughts…

 

One of the things we explored at Omega’s holistic divorce workshop was the impact of our emotional intensity on decision-making.

It’s interesting, right?  The stereotype of a woman possessed by her emotions is that she’s hysterical, overcome by her feelings to the extent that all she can do is cry and scream and make waves.  What we practiced this weekend is maintaining touch with those feelings, AND being calm and serene so that we can begin to ride those emotions — surf those waves — rather than create more and more of them without any prospect of also feeling in control.

What does it mean to be in control?  That’s a lot of what this weekend was about figuring out.  Does it mean I have control over my partner?  Over our joint finances?  Over what the future holds for my children?  I’m not sure, but it seems like the answer is yes as well as no.  And here’s why —

IMG_0083We have control over our feelings in the moment, or we have the capacity to feel in control over our feelings in the moment.  Sorry if this sounds like a tautology, but in essence it is!  Our feelings start with generating a feeling of not being hurt, and then we can address the ways that others’ behavior may be impacting us.  For example, thanks to the participants in this workshop, we can imagine what it would feel like to be a woman who’s built her own business, or directly supported the efforts of her partner for decades, and then in one fell swoop, approach a precipice where, through legal channels, half or even more may now be washed away.  Suddenly what we’ve worked so hard for, or thought we were working hard for, is about to be lost.  Suddenly, the security we thought we were leaving for our children is in jeopardy.  And suddenly, the emotional safety we thought we had with another person has turned to dust.  So two questions: where and how does money fit into this (i.e. the sense of financial ‘security’), and how do our emotions play into the belief that what we are experiencing is limited to a condition of loss? In other words, what in this situation are we really losing?  Is it money?  Or is it a sense of power?  Moreover, at this point, isn’t leveraging our emotional intensity in a way that promotes an internal sense of security all the more important at this juncture of our lives?

Our lead facilitator, J. Kim Wright (http://jkimwright.com), offered a very simple graph for us to use as a guide and reminder of this.  In essence, our emotional intelligence is what enables us to know when we are feeling mistreated.  It is an essential aspect of our perceptive faculties and is an inherently powerful tool for understanding our needs.  But when the radar goes off and tells us something is wrong, we benefit from stopping to listen to that voice rather than go off the deep end by reacting outwardly to whatever appears in our agitated state to be responsible for our distress.  When we are at our highest intensity of feeling, it may have come from an accurate perception of trouble or injustice, but especially as women, we often allow ourselves to fly off the handle and respond from that place instead of using the information we were given in a moment of emotional intensity to gather our wits, step back, and respond strategically.

In general, the importance of using our emotional intelligence to bolster our capacity for power can’t be overstated.  And in the context of divorce, it’s crucial.  The exciting thing about this workshop is that it was a lawyer guiding participants through this idea.  And outside the confines of this workshop, this approach to considering and practicing law would have a lawyer facilitating conversations about this with her client.  That means a legal consultation would revolve around helping clients to be grounded, essentially, in their spiritual power before they labor to produce outcomes on paper.  It’s about taking responsibility for our feelings so that we can exercise control in a way that is balanced, and in line with the realities that others perceive in addition to the fear and pain we so easily attach to when the threat of loss feels like it’s about to overtake us.  It’s about thinking holistically.

Well, something it seemed might never happen is happening — I am embracing goddess worship as part of my practice.  No, not part of my legal practice (as I haven’t one yet), but part of my personal practice that allows me to feel as strong and capable AND beautiful and shiny as I have the potential to be.

One sidebar before we go on: in light of the recent Game of Thrones epidemic, I imagine this post is pretty relatable to a lot of people, namely women. Heroines such as Daenerys and Sansa Stark are prime examples. Mine right now is Durga. She came to me through a recently published book by renowned meditation teacher and feminist scholar on yoga, Sally Kempton. She reveals Durga as a warrior for justice…

goddess_durga_slaying_demons_hc59It’s been a long time in coming I suppose.  For years my yoga practice would invoke occasional images of gods or goddesses from the Hindu pantheon.  And I’ve been able to stare at the ground or a wallpaper pattern or the sky, simultaneously feeling and seeing their aspects move and even appear to breath.  At first that ability scared me, but after enough tripping on mushrooms and spending hours on end in meditation it stopped bothering me.  It actually started to provide a sense of reassurance.  Like, okay cool, THAT is really how shit is working – my dumb-ass ego trip about being broke and having no direction in life is false.  Sweet…

Now I’m to the point where I can hold both aspects of truth in my consciousness — that is, the utter transmutability of our world and that finite limitations do arise or stay fixed when we allow our minds to limit what we desire.  I think goddess worship in particular has been intimidating to me because, besides the ego-trip of not wanting to be “that chick” it opens up possibilities for personal transformation that I was in a sense off the hook for before.  This is because visualizing the essential qualities of timeless human archetypes that have sustained cultures for millennia is a powerful, powerful tool.  Without tapping into this reservoir of knowledge (knowledge in a very felt sense) there is less for reason for me to be surprised by the limitations I set for myself.  By embracing this aspect of practice though, I allow myself no more excuses for actualizing the spiritual warrior I know myself, in a very fundamental way, to be.