Tag Archives: Yoga

HONOR THE DIVINE WITHIN by Cecilia Loving

GBGII 2012 BBBAs the first God is a Brown Girl Too “Opening to Consciousness” Retreat approaches, I grow excited by what promises to be a powerful celebration of who we are in mind, body and spirit.  Sherri Roberts Lumpkin will be teaching us to honor the divine within through her amazing ragbaby-building workshop.  Michelle Bernard will be guiding us through the breath of love and the transformation of the body.  Myreah Moore will be blessing us through her visualization meditations, which help us see past appearances to the God in which we live and move and have our being.  Caryl Lucas will give us the tools that we need to clean up the clutter and release the past.  I, along with Wendy Sealey and Raquiba LaBrie, will take participants on a soul-stirring journey to recreate, reclaim and resurrect the resources that God has given us.

Some have asked where Jesus Christ stands in relation to what appears to be a bold, unorthodox and perhaps even brazen affirmation that God is a Brown Girl, Too.  How could God be a dark chocolate, caramel, latte, cinnamon, peanut butter, crème, red clay earth co-creator throughout the world, the continents and the ages, with locked hair, twisted braids, tight curls and bone straight, moving through every conceivable size, shade, shape and language — above all things, as a girl?

Who dares to celebrate the least celebrated as the God within?

Well, Jesus did.
In John 10:34 (NIV), he said, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are gods’?”
In John 14, Jesus said, the Holy Spirit would live in us and be in us; he said I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. GBGII 2012 F
In Luke 17:20-21, Jesus said “the kingdom of God is within you.”

Not only does Genesis say that we all — male and female — were made in the image and likeness of God, but Jesus taught in Matthew 23:9, that we should not call anyone on earth our father; for One is our Father, He who is in heaven — the same Kingdom of Heaven within.

Paramahansa Yogananda said that it is God who becomes the father to protect the child, the mother to love the child unconditionally, and friends to help the soul without the limitations of familial instincts.  It is God who becomes the food and breath and the life-sustaining functions.  It is God who penetrates our understanding and awakens us to the duty and privilege to worship God templed in ourselves.

The Fifth Commandment teaches us to honor our mother and father.  But our mother and father are not merely our human parents; our parents are also the divine presence of the Spirit within.

It’s easy to try to push the responsibility of our power to something outside of ourselves, rather than to honor the divine within.  It’s easy to rely on words already spoken and expressions long over-used rather than to create new ones that empower rather than minimize the greater things that Jesus promised us that we could do.  It’s easy to sit back and allow ourselves to be disinherited, disenfranchised and disowned by the gods that we are, simply because we allow ourselves to be pushed by appearances rather than to be pulled by prophecy.

But it is time to stop taking the easy way out and be the co-creators in Spirit that we are — daring enough to accept the victory of the God in us.  We have to honor the divine ideas that the Holy Spirit keeps anointing us with — telling a new story, blessing new souls, finding new strength, expressing as new energy.  We have to honor the success that the Holy Spirit gives us, overflowing with the abundance of our gifts, talents and dreams.  We must be resurrected in  a new faith and a revitalized holiness that does not despair or condemn but is uplifted by the all-encompassing light of our being.  We can no longer diminish our magnitude by wasting time “hating on” each other.  We have to step up to the plate and manifest the joy, the strength, the wisdom, the love, and the freedom that we have been blessed with — through every breath of life that we breathe.  We have to reclaim the divine that we have lost through the ages and receive the prize for the race that we have so long pressed forward to win.

DSC_0143God is a Brown Girl Too is the beginning of my calling to reclaim the divine in us all, starting with me: the most marginalized, despised and disrespected.  For if I can see God as me, the faith of my vision of God as all humanity becomes clearer.   If I can see God as me, I know who my ancestors are, even though I was stolen from their bosom.  I know where my true home is, even though I have never lived on her soil.  I know that the place where I began is not really a time or space at all, but is the magnitude of the Holy Spirit within.

In this truth, I can embrace my mother and my father — not merely in terms of those biological, adoptive or chosen parents who nurtured me, but I can feel again the Divine that brought me to this moment to express the marvelous being that I AM.  With Spirit as my true legacy, I know that there is nothing that I cannot do.  Nothing and no one keeps me from my good because I am not limited by mere flesh but am lifted by omnipotent Spirit.

I honor the God in me — not simply as a prayer but as the enlightened purpose and endless possibility of all that I AM.  I honor the Breath that the Holy Ghost breathed as us in the transformational moment of our spiritual liberation.  And I sing a new song for a new freedom that will relieve the shackles of our past and bless us with a brand new consciousness.

Yes, Beloved, God is a Brown Girl, too, simply means . . .  so are you.

 

 

(The materials on this website and blog are copyrighted and may not be used without the written permission of Cecilia Loving, sole owner of God is a Brown Girl Too.)

BREATHING LOVE by Michelle Bernard

yoga 3Every time I tell someone that I teach yoga, they respond by saying something like, “I can’t even touch my toes,” or “Do you have to stand on your head?” Most people assume that their body must be pretzel-like before they can do yoga.   What they don’t understand is that the practice of yoga is far richer than touching one’s toes and much more than the mere movement of one’s body. Yoga has been marketed with images of quirky, tattooed, thin, new age, free-spirits sitting in a lotus position, or posing with one leg stretched up to the heavens, or standing contemplatively on their heads.  So many people attend yoga classes hoping to tie their legs behind their necks, tone their bodies without becoming “bulky”, or sweat profusely in the hope of melting away excess pounds.

Western culture has placed more emphasis on the physical rather than the spiritual aspect of yoga, despite theYoga 6 profound transformational  potential of this ancient, spiritual practice on body, mind and soul. I found my way to my first yoga class in 1995.  I was in my twenties and living in Hollywood pursuing the life of an entertainer.  Ironically, I was also battling the demon of depression.  The path my life as a singer no longer felt fulfilling.

I was suffering from  the awareness of dishonorable choices that I had made in my personal Yoga 7life and was unable to free myself from them.  I needed desperately to change my life — both in terms of my career and my personal relationships, but I didn’t know how to begin.  I really didn’t know how to re-direct my energy.  Moreover, I had no idea who I really was beyond the person that I had turned into.

I knew that the latter was not me, but I didn’t know who I was beyond the identity that I’d developed so far.  I was afraid.  Fear devastated me.  I was living in darkness.  And in this darkness, I was blind. But something led me to the Hollywood Y, a place where I could teach step aerobics and stretch classes.  So when I took my first yoga class, I did it merely so that I could  learn new Yoga 12stretches to incorporate in my fitness classes.

The yoga class was held on the basketball court upon a sea of thick, blue and gray Velcro-attached gymnastic mats.  The teacher, a brown man draped in a white, cotton loin cloth and a crown of bound “locks” spoke very little, like a guide. All I remember about the physical poses was standing with my arms at my side and breathing (tadasana, the mountain pose), standing on one leg and breathing (vrksasana, tree pose), and lying on my back and breathing (savasana, corpse pose).  What I never forgot was how the brown man spoke.  He was gentle, calm, compassionate, loving.  He wasn’t speaking to the physical me; he was speaking to my soul.  He was moving in oneness with my spirit.

And for the first time, in a long time, I felt an inner peace, that flowed from my own spirit.  I remember how quiet I became inside.  He guided my mind towards my breath, breathing in and breathing out, in and out.  There was peace in the breath.  There was peace in the stillness.   I found comfort.  I could begin again in the darkness.  I could breathe through it; and it wasn’t as foreboding. When I thought about the transformation that I had witnessed through the love of  breath from my own body, I was moved to tears.  I cried on my walk home.  Ninety minutes of standing, rolling, moving, breathing . . . .  had awakened something. I kept attending the Yoga Class at the Y.  I kept standing in mountain pose, engaged in the deep breath, guided by my teacher.

Through the stillness, through the energy, through the breath, I began to see more clearly — despite the darkness within.   I began to look at life differently, and I began to listen.  And there it was.  An illumination.  Great Spirit was with me, speaking to my soul, and showing me more of my Self than I’d ever seen.  I saw the essence of me.  I saw new courage.  I saw that I was capable of releasing the old Self.  Spirit was breathing in me the strength to uproot and recreate in a direction I had never considered.

I aligned with a deeper part of my essence.  Yoga, I realized, was not simply stretching; it was stillness.  It was the stillness that I needed to go within, the stillness that I needed to hear the Great Spirit, the stillness that I needed to move forward in peace. From those yoga classes, my life changed forever. Michelle Bernard is a licensed yoga intructor and personal trainer, as well as the owner and creator of  exquisite and original jewelry — each piece of which is an original work of art. 

See www.aboutpebble.com; www.thewanderingpebble.blogspot.com  Michelle is also facilitating two Retreat Workshops, “Breathing Love” and  “Transforming the Body.”