What if health — complete wholeness — was truly as simple as
taking a nap in the somewhat shady, somewhat sunny grass that has not been sprayed
growing food oneself and harvesting it and cooking it together
walking, hiking, exploring, with a friend or with the breeze
breathing, and enjoying it
feeling, sensing oneself moving, luxuriating in the smallest, simplest movements as babies are wise to do
seeing the person in front of us
trusting the erotic impulses that flow through us and creatively responding with them, just as we do with our dreams (not every thing we think and dream needs to be lived out, right? but they are invitations to a deeper knowing of life, yes?)
enjoying the taste and texture and pleasure of what we eat together, because we give ourselves the greatest gift...the time and conversation in between each bite to do so
being dazzled by the morning sky and the night sky, that only sun and moon and stars know how to do
discovering that I can learn something new every day, every minute if I’m wise (all too often I’m so sure I know something
that it’s impossible to know anything (new))
soaking in together the tremendous power of touch, even when I touch my own body, my foot, my ankle, my knee, between my toes, my whole self
delighting in the breeze, in clean water to drink,
give up teaching moral platitudes and instead inviting children (and our adult selves) how to sense and respond, sense and reflect, and wonder
knowing what we *really* want in life, and then both going after it and letting it come to us...
what if seeking health is really what it is...being alive, marinating in this sense of ‘aliveness’ that comes when we *enjoy*…when we uncover the joy within each tiny and ginormous experience…when we dance and be danced by the immense love within us and beyond us…
(by Brian Shircliff - 21jan18)
By VITALITY co-founder Mike Eck . . .
What do you see ....
Some of us see the forest
Some of us see the trees
Some of us see the flowers
Some of us see the bees
Some of us see the dirt
Some of us see the seeds
When we all feel the Water
When we all feel the Breath
When we all see the root
When we all see the weeds
When we all see the Vine
When we all see the Fruit
We all sea the Divine
By VITALITY yoga teacher Liz Wu . . .
Yoga is the practice of deepening one's awareness of the connection of body, mind, spirit & all creation, and flourishing within that connection.
By VITALITY yoga teacher Amelia Herold . . .
"Pinch Me - It's Yoga"
A yearning for the Divine, a gift of amore,
An invitation to a sacred oneness,
A wellspring for wisdom and wonder,
A pause, a moment that morphs into a lifetime...
Of bliss and reverence,
Out of nothing -the All,
Is the way.
Pinch me - It's Yoga!
By VITALITY yoga teacher Jamie Thaxton . . .
In yoga today, we discussed “noise.” My definition - Noise: the static that resides in your body, induced by stress, exacerbating tension, creating a constant strain, and draining energy. I rarely notice the noise, unless I am quiet; my body relaxed, my brain stil l- but it takes it’s toll, and its effects are very apparent. However, once I am aware, the noise is so obvious it become visible. To me, the noise can be seen in a dance of bright colors behind my eyelids. Much like a technicolor TV static, it bumps around into the colors next to it, creating friction and building tension. The colors are mostly shades of reds, both bright and dark - but yellows, blues, and deep greens are there too. Yoga doesn’t quiet the noise. It doesn’t go away. Instead, yoga brings order.
In the Gentle Series, after constructive rest we begin by working our right leg. We pull it into our chest, breathe, release. Stretch the edges of our feet, and move our leg in circles, helping the hip release. We cycle back and pull our leg into our chest once more, then release it to the ground. It is in this moment my awareness of noise is most prevalent. My right leg feels longer, stronger, in alignment. But more than that, the dance of noise behind my eyelids changes. My left eye can still see the colors jostling, an exhausting, chaotic movement. My right eye, however, sees only order. The noise is no longer moving - the colors remain but their forms have been stretched, elongated into thin stripe of color. Similar to a solid metal rod, the colors are next to each other in a row, their tops stretching to the crown of my head, and the bottom of the colors reach my toes. The colors do not move - rather they keep this formation. So while the noise is not silenced, it is managed and it now creates a visualization of strength. Once we complete stretching our left side, the new ordered pattern in my mind’s eye is complete. And its calming and strengthening effects last throughout the rest of my practice.
I enjoy this visualization. It helps me deeply feel yoga’s positive outcomes. It calms my mind so that I can focus on my intention and brings me into a state of deep relaxation. The noise also provides a lesson that I needed to learn - Life can be stressful and the events that cause stress may not go away, but finding a way to create calm, to organize the noise, can provide stability and even vitality to the body.
From VITALITY yoga teacher Liz Wu . . .
These days I find myself watching the watcher.
Like a kaleidoscope, awareness
Reflects experiences in all dimensions
Colorful fractals spilled out in all directions
Side by side, flipped around, and upside down.
Sensations bubbling like so much eye candy
With each breath, less need to react, and more desire to relax.
Discomfort becomes simply one more color against the glass.
Who, one may ask, is hot?
Who is it that looks up and finds a seahorse in the shape of a cloud?
Who is it that quietly listens, calmly observes, slowly records every action and thought,
who stares up from the bottom of the well?
With each twist of these questions the kaleidoscope spins.
Sensations jumble together and then separate into geometric patterns of meaning.
Looking through the small spy hole, the universe distills into colorful fragments that
dance on a rotating, reflective canvass.
With each breath the canvass shifts, and I begin to recognize small patterns.
The placement of the shoulders.
The set of the jaw.
The habits that seek comfort, familiarity, and a path of least resistance.
In that moment of recognition, before the kaleidoscope turns with the following breath, there is a moment, a window, a space to choose something different.
To change the objects in the kaleidoscope and the images they cast.
With each breath comes opportunity.
And so, I have begun to watch the watcher.
From VITALITY founding member, Mike Eck!
VITALITY Cincinnati is like a tree of light
shining bright in the fog of war and peace
At the base of the lighted tree is a flashlight
shining toward this Narrow Gate
Where there is no toll, but there is
a choice to take this path or that
Which is your Hearts desire
hidden in the fog of peace or war
The flashlight says "follow Me" and on
that path past the Narrow Gate
I found my gift and cried with joy
as I fell off my horse at the base of the
Tree of Life which for me is Rooted in Food
The Spiritual Exercises were written by Ignatius Loyola during the sixteenth century during his traumatic recovery from war-wounds, a wild life of family trauma and personal partying. Through VITALITY’s new setting, we have modernized Ignatius’ prompts and attempted to create invitations that welcome people of all faiths and no faith, of high school students through grandparents, of people who actively meditate/reflect and people who are just beginning. This 175 page book can be used to gently lead yourself or a small group through this modernized, diverse life-experience, invitation-based setting of the Spiritual Exercises . . . to more readily discover the goodness of life right before our eyes . . . a goodness we so often miss in our fast-paced culture. Come find your way!
Blessed by These Cincinnatians:
Dr. Walter Brueggemann . . . world’s greatest scripture scholar of our day
Nikki Giovanni . . . world-renowned poet
Holly Schapker . . . world-renowned artist, her “Ignatius Portrait” graces the cover of our book
Julie Lucas . . . designed VITALITY’s logo and the back cover of the book
All four of these people have shared ideas, stories, or artwork in the book. These fourteen gifted storytellers share their vision for life:
Carol T. Yeazell
Richard Bollman, S.J.
Elizabeth J. Winters Waite
Brian J. Shircliff wrote the 52 Invitations that invite us to consider the power of our personal story for finding our way through life.
A copy of this book is available for a $25 donation -- or order it at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/New-Setting-Ignatius-Spiritual-Exercises/dp/145754153X
Praise from Nikki Giovanni: http://www.vitalitycincinnati.org/images/pdfs/A-Letter-of-Support-from-Nikki-Giovanni.pdf
Published Summer Solstice 2017 - available at VITALITY and through Amazon!
Sweet Lady J: Mother Muse & Root of Nearly Everything
The 3000-year-old Campfire Stories of Biblical Genesis Giving Birth to Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Nonviolence & Neuroplasticity
translations of the biblical texts & invitations by
Brian J. Shircliff
artwork by Parrish Monk, Katherine Colborn, and Julie Lucas